Hear Me, Touch Me

posted by Momo Fali on February 27, 2009

My six year old son has always dealt with sensory issues. He was in occupational therapy for years because of problems eating foods with certain textures and for his mental battle with being touched. As far as touch goes, he’s now on the opposite end of the sensory spectrum and can’t seem to keep his hands off anyone showing bare skin.

But there is another issue that the therapists don’t know how to deal with. He gags. A lot.

Now I’m not talking about gagging when he doesn’t like how mashed potatoes feel in his mouth. We’ve moved past that. I’m talking about gagging when a bike helmet strap rests under his chin, or when he’s wearing a turtleneck, or when he’s in a wedding and is supposed to wear a bow-tie. One time he was a ring bearer and wouldn’t wear the tuxedo tie, jacket OR vest. We couldn’t even button up his shirt. He came down the aisle resembling Eric Estrada, minus the chest hair.

When he has a cold it’s even worse, as he proved the other day during his quarterly hearing test.

At the ENT’s office, the audiologist had put my son in a sound-proof room and placed large headphones on his ears. These were the same headphones he’s worn many times before…but, the other times he didn’t have a cold.

Never mind that it was Fat Tuesday and my kid arrived at the doctor’s office wearing FIVE beaded necklaces around his neck. He likes to keep me guessing about what will really bother him, so I didn’t see it coming when the pressure from the headphones made him start gagging.

I could see him through a window and I quickly ran into the room and took the headphones off, as he began pulling on the collars of his shirt and undershirt, trying hard to get them away from his neck. I started unbuttoning his oxford to remove it as I explained to the audiologist what was going on.

We then tried putting the headphones on and letting the wires run down his back, thinking it could’ve been those wires touching his chin or neck that bothered him. No go. He gagged again and pulled on his undershirt collar, so I took that off too.

We finally figured out that he was okay doing a test with ear buds instead of the big headphones, but I had to hold all the wires behind his head so they weren’ t touching him in any way.

And in the middle of the hearing test his other sensory issue…his love of bare skin…reared its ugly head.

There I was with my hands full of wires, staring down at my half-naked kid who couldn’t hear a word I said…as I helplessly watched him rub his own nipples.

Catholic Cliffs Notes – Ash Wednesday

posted by Momo Fali on February 25, 2009

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said I don’t talk about religion? Well, scratch that. I saw a lot of comments on the internet last night from people who were confused by Lent. Never fear! Momo is here! Here to set you heathens straight.

Let’s start with Ash Wednesday, because well…it’s today, and if you see people walking around with ashes on their foreheads, you won’t just think they need to bathe.

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent in the Roman Catholic church, which is the 40 day period of preparation before Easter. For those of you who think Catholics can’t count and say, “You people drink too much! There are 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter!”, that’s because Sundays don’t count. It’s kind of like kissing your grandma, in that you probably kissed her first, but you don’t consider her your first kiss. Some things just don’t count.

Ash Wednesday is a day of fast. Many Catholics will take the money that they would have spent on food and give it to the poor. Though, you know…recession. The act of fasting allows us to begin this period of reflection with a clean slate. It is a form of penance for our sins. It also makes most of us grumpy and gives us bad breath.

At Ash Wednesday Mass, the priest, or deacon or someone else authorized to do so, will take ashes made from burning the palms from last year’s Palm Sunday Mass and put a cross on the congregant’s forehead and say, “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

This is to remind us to shape up real quick-like before St. Peter meets us at the pearly gates and says, “Sorry ’bout your luck.”

So for 40 days and nights we reflect. We think about our sins, we fast, we pray, we give alms and we repent. A lot of Catholics offer up sacrifices. I am giving up chocolate. Mm-hmm. That’s right. Just when the Girl Scout cookies get delivered too. This is why my Fat Tuesday dessert consisted of chocolate molten lava cake with ice cream and Reese’s Cups on top. What?

When it gets hard to bear…like when your husband eats an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in your face…you remember Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, think about how you have sinned against Him and try not to smack your husband. Then you can offer up that you didn’t eat the chocolate AND you didn’t smack your husband. That’s a Catholic two-fer.

If you see someone with ashes on their forehead today (including me) now you will know why. We are reminding ourselves that we won’t be on this earth forever and we need to be sorry for our sins. It may not hurt you to remind yourself of that as well. Catholic or not, you can’t deny that life is short and good morals aren’t so bad.

So, if you see us, we don’t care if you stare at our ashes, but don’t get close enough to smell our breath. Fair warning.


posted by Momo Fali on February 23, 2009

There comes a point as an insomniac where you learn to live with a lack of sleep. You become accustomed to needing a cup of coffee to get you through the afternoon, but not before you have tried drinking tea because everyone who knows anything about insomnia knows you shouldn’t drink coffee in the middle of the day. I digress.

I digress because I’m typing this at such a level of exhaustion that my brain convinced me (albeit for a split second, but still…) that maybe I could prop my eyelids open with toothpicks. I also briefly considered creating my own Red Bull eyedrops.

Since Tuesday (it’s Sunday night now…I think it’s Sunday), I have slept a total of 19 hours. That’s 19 hours in five nights if my mind is working right, which it isn’t. All I know is that it’s less than four resting hours a day if you average it, and you have no idea how long it took me to do that math.

Once upon a time, I used to climb in bed at 10:00 p.m., fall asleep within a minute, and stay that way until 6:45 a.m. Almost nine blissful hours of sleep every night. That was before kids. That was when my only responsibility was me.

Seeing as how my responsibilities have greatly increased, I have learned to live a slumberless life. A life in which I stumble about like a drunk half the time. It’s not easy, but I manage. It is one of many sacrifices that I’ve made as a parent, and because I love my kids my zombie-like state is worth it.

But seriously, where did I put those toothpicks?

Time Me

posted by Momo Fali on February 20, 2009

I was born long after my siblings. By the time I came into this world, my three older sisters were just starting to explore it. It was 1971 and they were 16, 15 and 13. Can you say, “Hippies”? Good. They had a terrarium in their bedroom and I’m pretty sure they weren’t growing ferns.

Thankfully I had cousins who were older than me, but not so much older that they wouldn’t engage in games of kickball, tag, and my personal favorite…”football, football, who’s got the football?” We made that one up. Don’t ask.

We all gathered together at my Grandma’s house at least three times a week. There were Nerf-basketball tournaments, endless games of Monopoly, and one heck of a lot of laughs. And every single Thursday my Grandma let us order pizza. Need I even say it? Thursdays at Gram’s house were the best.

There were usually seven cousins there on various days throughout the week, but one of us never had to leave when it was time to go home.

My cousin, Kevin, had a form of muscular dystrophy and he lived at my Grandma’s house so she could take care of him while his mom worked. We never really noticed Kevin’s disability. I mean, there was the whole thing about him not walking…but if it weren’t for that, we wouldn’t have been able to have wheelchair races in the backyard.

Kevin was a sports enthusiast like none I have ever known. He knew every player and their stats, on every team, college or professional, in every sport. He also had an incredible sense of humor.

The combination of the two would reveal itself once in a while and he would ask his sister and me to run up the street to a market and buy baseball cards for him. Those were the Pete Rose years, so we made a lot of trips.

We never wanted to go though. So Kevin would bribe us by giving us the bubble gum that came with the cards. When we tired of that, he tried something different.

Knowing how competitive we were, he would tell us that he would time us to see if we could get there and back within 10 minutes. He would start counting backward and we would fly up the street.

It never failed that as we were breathlessly running back in the front door of Gram’s house, baseball cards in hand, he would say, “…three, two…Oh! You guys just made it!” It took us a long time to figure out his scam. We were some smart kids.

Last night when I was tucking my son in bed he asked me to get a toy he had left downstairs. He said, “Let’s see if you can get it in three seconds.”

Now we don’t live in a mansion, but I am also not the Bionic Woman. I replied, “I can’t go downstairs to get your toy and be back up here in three seconds.”

He smiled and said, “Let’s see.”

As I started to descend the steps I heard him say, “Three, two…”. I grabbed his toy, went back upstairs and walked into his room just as he said, “…one. You did it!”

Kevin died in 1991, not long after his 29th birthday. But, darn if he isn’t still scamming me.