Wednesday, June 23, 2004


“How many more days until school starts again?”

I am filing a petition for inquiry into my district’s public school system, since apparently my hard-earned tax dollars (well, ok, *I* technically don’t work, but you know what I mean) are obviously NOT going towards the pursuit of knowledge at the elementary level, since it appears my kids have not learned a darned thing yet in school. If you think I’m exaggerating, consider the following conversations I have had with the three of them this past week, over and over and over:

Kellen, “How old do you have to be before you are twelve?” (HUH?)
Kristie, “You have to be twelve …(think about rephrasing)…. You have to have twelve birthdays.”
Kellen, “How many more until I am twelve?”
Kristie, “Six more.”
Kellen, “How many more is that?”

Kendrie, “What time can we go swimming?”
Kristie, “We will go at noon.”
Kendrie, “When is that?”
Kristie, “It’s in two more hours.”
Kendrie, “How many more is that?”

Kellen, “How fast do the clouds go?”
Kristie, “As fast as the wind is blowing.”
Kellen, “How fast is the wind blowing?”
Kristie, “About ten miles an hour.”
Kellen, “How fast is that?”

Kellen, “Are we in Atlanta?”
Kristie, “We’re not in Atlanta, we’re in Warner Robins”
Kellen, “But how far away is Georgia?”
Kristie, “We’re still in Georgia. We’re in Warner Robins, a CITY, which is in Georgia, a STATE”
Kellen, “So where did Atlanta go?”

This doesn’t even include the lengthy, repeated conversations about why it takes six months to get a half-birthday, why some trucks are fat and some are skinny, and why it rains every afternoon that I’ve promised the kids we could go swimming. (Truth be told, I’m a little confused about that one myself.)

In the four weeks since school let out, these inane, exasperating conversations have been broken up primarily by fighting, whining and bickering. In a desperate attempt to steer my children towards productivity I suggested they put on a play or puppet show. Big mistake. The puppet show consisted of them stripping every blanket off every bed in the house for the “theater” and then giggling into the microphone for ten solid minutes while they waved around a puppet of “Jesus” (looking suspiciously like Boots from Dora the Explorer) and Jesus’s twin brother, “Michael Jordan”. (I swear I am not making these things up.) As I sat there, rubbing my temples and thinking about how much more fun it would be to stab myself in the eye with a hot poker ………………… it occurred to me that at least for today, my gripes and annoyances were not that of a cancer parent, but of a typical stay-at-home mom with three kids and too much summer vacation. So really, a pretty good day!

We made Monday’s clinic visit a family event, promising the kids we would take them to play in the fountains in Centennial Park afterwards. Of course that means we packed swimsuits, towels, a picnic lunch, the camera, and then it rained. Except for that disappointment, the visit itself went fine. Kendrie’s blood counts are still holding strong, although I have a hunch the expected downward trend, normal for Delayed Intensification, will be coming soon. This afternoon she fell asleep in a lounge chair instead of swimming at the pool (NOT normal behavior for my water-lovin’ kid) and this evening she chose to put on her pajamas and lay on the sofa instead of attending Kellen’s t-ball game. The only thing Kendrie idolizes more than baseball is Kellen himself, so that is a real clue to me that the chemo is starting to affect her. Toss in a few steroid tantrums, and that’s our week in a nutshell.

We did witness a slightly scary event today. We were at the base swimming pool (for the two hours it was open before it started raining!) with friends. I had gotten out of the pool to sit next to Kendrie (sleeping in the lounge chair) and was watching Brayden and Kellen in the water. A friend was visiting with me, standing about ten feet from the pool with her back to the water, when she heard her son cry out, “Mom, help me!” Not a fabulous swimmer, he was having trouble swimming back to the shallow end where he could touch. Before she could even take a step towards the water, the lifeguard dove off his platform and brought her son to the side. In all the years I’ve been swimming (laying around working on my tan, anyway) I’ve never seen a lifeguard dive into the water to help someone. It was actually quite dashing, once we got over the fright.

I’m not trying to be dramatic …. He wasn’t anywhere near drowning, but was struggling and a little frightened. He had the good sense to call out for help, instead of slipping further under, and the life guard was able to do his job without any permanent damage to anyone.

I feel like this leukemia experience is, at times, a little like struggling to touch bottom. We’re so blessed to have lifeguards all around us. Both the doctors and nurses who dove in to bring Kendrie to safety, and also the friends, both real and virtual, who’ve been there to help us when we’re struggling to keep our heads above water and reassure us that things will be fine. It’s good to know that on the days dog-paddling doesn’t cut it, we can call out for help.

I know, it’s the corniest analogy I’ve come up with in quite some time, but I wanted to say thanks to all of you who have jumped in to help us instead of sitting safely on your platform.

Thanks for signing the guestbook --- I was so happy to hear from Caringbridge that we had enough signatures to need an “older” version! We printed out the older version for Kendrie to keep in a scrapbook someday, and will continue to do so, so please keep signing. We don’t care if you sign over and over (in fact, we like it!) and we don’t care if you’re not Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck or Sigmund Freud or Ann Landers. Any note or signature from the heart is greatly appreciated.

Love, Kristie

ps. If you utilize CaringBridge, and I know you do if you're here reading this, consider donating to their Circle of Love Campaign. Links to donate are all over the sites and we all know what a wonderful way it is to stay in touch with the people you care about. They only have about a week left to reach their goal, so think about donating.

WORST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: To be honest, I'm starting to feel a little run down. Everyone warned us that DI #2 would be tougher, and I appear to be slowing down a bit. Of course, in between my rest periods are moments of sheer hellionism, so don't count me out just yet!

BEST PART ABOUT HAVING CANCER TODAY: The steroids, baby! No, don't get me wrong, the steroids themselves taste nasty! But you should see my mom run and hop around the kitchen when I'm on them. And then I purposefully only eat about half of everything she fixes because I like to laugh at her behind her back.

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