Category Archives: Caleb

That Mom


Thursday, Caleb had a dentist appointment.  He sat very still and opened his mouth wide while the dentist cleaned and filled two cavities.

That night, he started complaining that his teeth hurt–on the same side as his dental work–and neither of us got much sleep.  I thought it might be residual irritation from the procedure, so I gave him acetaminophen and ibuprofen and sent him to school in the morning.  He seemed to be fine on Friday, which was unfortunate, because by the time his jaw started aching again, the dentist’s office was closed for the weekend.

The pain steadily grew worse throughout Saturday and Sunday, but I didn’t really worry until this morning, when Caleb’s poor little face started swelling up on one side.  After Paul dropped us off at the building, I sent Caleb to class as usual, determined to get him an appointment as soon as possible, but it wasn’t long before he was back in my office, moaning and holding his cheek.  Frantic, I called the service line for our dental provider and was told that the earliest I could get an emergency appointment was late this afternoon–hours away–and that it would be a forty minute drive away in Spokane, at a facility we’ve never been to.

Nuh uh.  My baby wasn’t going to wait one minute longer to feel better if I could help it.

There was only one problem: I didn’t have the car.  Thankfully, that didn’t stand in my way for long.  Like a superhero, my boss, Michael, came to the rescue.  He loaned me his beloved Tahoe and took over the office phones so that I could get Caleb some help.  I packed him into the vehicle and drove to our local dentist’s office, praying all the way there that I could convince them to see us without an appointment.

I have to pause here and tell you that I’m not usually “that” mom.  You know, the one who makes a pest of herself pursuing special treatment and favors for her exalted offspring.  The one who insists on the coach playing her son all four quarters, or throws a fit until the weary teacher gives her daughter a bit part in the school play.  I don’t usually bend the rules.  I don’t work the system.  I don’t show up at doctors’ offices without an appointment and push my way to the front of the line.

Except today, when that is exactly what I did.

“Please,” I begged the receptionist, after I had explained our pitiful situation, “please…isn’t there ANY way someone can just look at Caleb for a second and find out what’s causing the problem?”  I could feel the annoyance coming off of her in waves as she heaved a sigh.  And I didn’t care.  I would annoy whoever I needed to annoy to get my boy back in the examination room and on his way to feeling better.

“Okay, sit over there,” she said, pointing to the waiting area, “and I’ll see if there’s anything I can do.”

We waited about ten minutes.  I started to wonder if she was just trying to outlast us when, finally, she came out and beckoned us up to the front desk.

“I found someone to see you,” she said, “but just so you know, you’ll still have to pay the emergency appointment fee.”

“That’s fine,” I breathed, relieved.  She looked surprised, and I realized she probably thought we were trying to avoid our co-pay by sneaking in under the official radar.

In minutes, Caleb was in the dentist’s chair and I was talking to the doctor about the whole horrible weekend.  He examined Caleb, checked out his x-rays, and then gave us the bad news.  One of the fillings Caleb got last week was very deep, and the root of the tooth had become infected.  The filling was causing a pressure buildup; hence the swelling and pain.  Caleb needs a “baby” root canal to remove the infection and save the tooth.  It’s a pretty involved procedure, and we scheduled it for a week from tomorrow.  Meanwhile, the doctor prescribed some antibiotics to address the infection, which should bring down the pain and swelling.

I was so relieved, my eyes teared up as I thanked the dentist for squeezing us in without an appointment.  He still looked faintly disapproving as he shook my hand, but I couldn’t bring myself to feel bad about it.  I was just happy to be leaving with an appointment and a prescription in my hand.  The receptionist even took pity on us and charged us the $15 co-pay for a regular office visit instead of the threatened $50 emergency fee.

As I type this, Caleb is in his room, sleeping comfortably for the first time in three days.  The antibiotics started helping almost immediately.  We’re hoping the swelling will be all gone by tomorrow.

And me?  I’ve come to terms with the realization that I am “that” mother, after all.

The thankful one.



Over the breakfast table this morning, the classic first grade joke,

“Hey, Mom, if you love pepperjack cheese so much, why don’t you marry it?”,

gave way to a slightly more serious discussion of marriage, in which it was established that you only get married once, for life, and that you can’t be married to more than one person at the same time.  (Sorry, pepperjack cheese–our love just wasn’t meant to be.)

Caleb’s brow furrowed.  “Mom, I think I have a problem.”

“What problem?” I asked.

“Well, I have two girls I want to marry, and I can’t decide which one to ask.”

“Oh, really?  Who are they?”

“Kayla…and Morgan.” 

I knew sweet Kayla from teaching Caleb’s kindergarten class last year.  “Who’s Morgan?” I asked.

“You know, Mom–she’s the girl in kindergarten whose hair is the exact same color as vanilla ice cream!”

What woman, I ask you, is going to be able to resist such a poetic soul?

Club Rulez


Overheard from the backseat as I was driving the kids to school this morning:

Katie:  Hey, Caleb…let’s make up a secret club!  You and I can be the members.

Caleb:  Okay!  (He’s always game for just about anything his sister suggests.  I wonder how long that will last.)

Katie:  First we need to make up some rules for the club.  What rules do you think we should have?

Me (totally eavesdropping and interrupting, but thinking of my own childhood secret club experiences): How about “Don’t be mean”?

Katie:  Yes.  That’s a good one.  What else?

Caleb:  No smoking!  (I stifle a giggle.)

Katie:  Okay…  So we’ve got “no being mean” and “no smoking”.  Can you think of any  more?

*both think in silence for a while*

Katie:  Well, I guess we don’t have to have anoth–

Caleb (triumphantly):  “NO CARVING ON THE WALLS!”

Katie (after pondering for a moment):  How about “No destroying the house in any way”?

Caleb: Yeah.


I don’t know if I should be scared that he thought of that rule, or just relieved that it made the cut.

It’s Not That Kind of Help


Katie had a lot of homework on Tuesday, and she was most sincerely and demonstrably not happy about it.

Since the kids get out of school about forty-five minutes before I leave work, they usually sit in the conference room down the hall from my desk and work on homework until it’s time to pack up and go.  As I tried to cram a few more essential tasks into the few minutes of working time I had left, I could hear Katie’s whining and indignation at having so much homework to do (and on a video game day–the gall of her teacher!) all the way down the hall.  It was getting progressively louder as she increased her volume by increments until she was sure that I could fully appreciate the injustice of her burden.

Caleb, who just can’t bear to see his sister in pain, offered this advice:  “You should pray about it, Katie.”

“That won’t help,” she moaned piteously.

“Yes, it will, Katie!” he said firmly.  In the past few months, Caleb’s burgeoning faith has received a great boost through answered prayers, and he often asks me to pray for him before school or when he’s scared at night.  He persisted in reassuring his sister.  “If you pray, God will help you.”

“Caleb,” she said, with the exaggerated eye roll that only older sisters can properly manage, “I’m supposed to do the work by myself.”

Caleb Says…



*  Maybe we could go see the treasures of ancient Egypt sometime.  But I think today it’s closed.

*  Hey, take a taste of my Ring Pop!  *I shake my head no as he holds it up, covered with kid slobber.* C’mon, Mom–it’s all sweet and juicy!

*  Will you make me a smoothie in the blunder?

*  Only God can do real magic, right?

*  I did clean my room!  *I point out the mound of toys piled on the bed.* But the bed doesn’t count!

*  Since there’s no school today, can we go see the Rifle Tower? *Repeated corrections do nothing to convince him that the correct word is “Eiffel”.*

*  Kayla’s my girlfriend now, but don’t tell her.

*  You’re driving me two thousand six hundred percent of CRAZY!




I’m sitting on the couch with Caleb, looking at a cool link Paul posted of a chess set made entirely of nuts and bolts and washers.

“Caleb,” I say, pointing to the screen, “check out this chess set!”

Nice,” the kid says, using the tone of a sixteen year old looking at his first souped-up Chevy.  “It’s made out of hardware!”

“You know what ‘hardware’ means?” I ask, surprised.

“Of course, Mom,” he says, eye roll implied.  “It’s stuff that you can use to make a robot.”

The World According to Caleb


Caleb followed me into the kitchen as I prepared to make dinner, his brow furrowed in thought.

“Mom, do you ever get tired of taking care of me?”

Oh, my heart!  I knelt down, gripped his arms, and looked into his eyes, the better to give full impact to my answer.

“No, sweetheart.  I never get tired of taking care of you.  I love being your Mommy.”

Looking relieved, he said, “Good.  Because some people do get tired of it.  They only like being the kid!”

Another Rule I Never Knew I Needed


I knew it wasn’t good news when Teri pulled me aside after the kids came in from lunch recess today.  Caleb had gone straight to his desk to color and was acting suspiciously nonchalant, which is a hard look for a five year old to pull off.

“There was a little…ah, problem during recess,” she began.  I braced myself.

“Caleb, well…he went to the bathroom out on the playground.”


“Peed.  Out on the playground.”  She seemed to be hiding a grin.

I was dumbfounded.

“Wow.  Um, okay…I’ll, I’ll talk to him.  Thanks, Teri.”

And then she left me alone to have a tête-à-tête with the tiny tinkler.

Seriously?  “Don’t pee on the playground” is a rule that actually has to be spelled out?

Feh.  I guess I’ll just add it to the list.

Clearly I never need to worry about finding something to write with Mommy’s Little Blog Content Generator around.



Caleb got his five year immunizations this week. There were three of them, each a miraculous cocktail of disease prevention in a giant syringe tipped with a glistening needle.

He’s fine. And, well, I’m recovering.

I hate the moment when the needles break that pristine baby skin, and, despite all the preparation and the hand holding and the assurances that “it will all be over in a second, sweetheart”, those big blue eyes widen–first in shock and then in pain–and the wail that cannot be contained pierces the air and mommy’s heart at the same time.

The nurses weaseled their way back into Caleb’s good graces with cartoon bandaids and a Spiderman sticker, and after a visit to Doctor Mark’s treasure chest, he was well on his way to forgetting the grievous injury so recently visited upon his person.

On the way home, we stopped at McDonald’s for a couple of bracing vanilla ice cream cones (small for Caleb and large for Mom), a treat which completed the healing process.

For Caleb, at least.

I might need another cone.

It’s a Webkinz World


Two weeks ago, the Coach House Gifts store at the mall celebrated its highly anticipated Webkinz Extravaganza! Normally, this event would have passed under my radar, but my friend Kathy called me Sunday afternoon to make sure I knew that the ‘Buy One, Get One Free’ selection of Webkinz was running out. You see, up until that weekend, my kids (according to them) were the last two children in America without at least one of these fuzzy, endearing, cyber-savvy critters to call their own. I decided to take advantage of the sale and make two children happy for the price of one. Bargain parenting, I call it.

I dashed out to the mall that afternoon intending to snatch up the first two fuzzballs I encountered and get back in time for a robust round of power napping (What can I say? I’m a party animal!) First mistake. I should have known that, when presented with the manifest cuteness of five thousand different species of Webkinz, it would take me roughly an hour and a half of picking them up and putting them down and rubbing their fur and choosing first this one and then that one and changing my mind over and over and over again to decide which lucky beasties to take home with me. In the end, I picked out an elephant for Katie and a tiger for Caleb. And would you believe it: I actually felt bad leaving the rest of them behind. (Clearly Ganz has implanted some kind of brainwashing microchip in them to make them fly off the shelves so quickly.)

The reception I received at home would have made the conquering Attila green with envy. I was temporarily crowned mother of the year and showered with hugs and kisses for about seven seconds–the exact amount of time they were able to contain their anticipation before scampering off to the computer to formally “adopt” their new pets and embark on their maiden voyage into Webkinz World.

Webkinz World. I have to tell you, internets, it’s surprisingly cool. In Webkinz World, you can build your pet a house, furnish it, and invite friends’ pets over to play in it. You can feed your fuzzy friend delicious foods, dress him in dazzling threads, and take him to the doctor when he’s sick. If your pet is into exercise, you can take him to work out at a Webkinz health club, and if you just want to play, you can meet up with other Webkinz in a game room. The booming Webkinz economy runs on KinzCash, which you earn by picking up odd jobs at the Webkinz Employment Center, by answering educational trivia questions at Quizzy’s Corner, or by playing games in the Webkinz Arcade.

And here comes the confession: I love playing in the Webkinz Arcade. I love Cash Cow and Picnic and Operation Gumball. But my favorite game is called Home Before Dark, a timed brain teaser in which you have to rotate pieces of a maze into place in order to create a path for trapped Webkinz to get back to their houses before the sun goes down. I accidentally played it for two and a half hours the other day when I meant to be doing housework. Oops.

And that’s my other confession. I secretly log onto my kids’ Webkinz accounts to play arcade games while they’re gone. I don’t think they’d like it if they knew, but I can’t help it. I suppose now I have to stop making fun of Kathy for buying herself her own Webkinz.

I think I might start with a Cheeky Monkey…