Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dealing with Uncle Z

So, my brother-in-law is driving me crazy. We call him Uncle Z, and he's RB's only brother. Sigh.

A little background. When RB and I started dating again (that's another story for another day), things were fun and carefree between us. RB was living in Dallas and I was living in Austin, so one of us would make the trek, and we would enjoy an immensely fun weekend of lazing by the pool, eating great food, and watching movies. When we'd been dating for about 4 months, I went to Dallas for RB's birthday. The sixth Harry Potter movie was coming out that weekend, so I went up on Thursday, and both took Friday off to celebrate with a long weekend. We went out for sushi, and were ecstatic to go to bed late and know that we could sleep in like slackers playing hooky. Instead, we got a call at 6:30am from an old girlfriend of Uncle Z that he had shot himself and was at the big trauma hospital in Houston. Uncle Z posted his suicide note on Facebook for the world to see (do you know that it's impossible to get anything changed on someone else's Facebook page if you don't have their password?), so there was lots of conjecture and rumors going everywhere. Regardless of the lack of speaking, RB was obviously upset. The hospital had no record of Uncle Z coming in, their mom was heading down there, and the police wanted to talk to someone and turn over the gun to someone in the family for safe-keeping. So, he headed to Houston, eventually found his brother, was there for a week and every weekend for 3 months after that. He paid his brother's bills (including a mortgage that was 4 months behind), spent a ton of time with him and their mother, and worked with several friends to clean up the blood at the house and to fill in the holes in the walls/ceiling (he fired at least 3 rounds). Once Uncle Z was released from the hospital, he went to live with his mom, and has lived there for about 3 years now.

So, Uncle Z has some depression issues, and he's generally not a very nice person (part of why the brothers had stopped speaking years before). He's aggressive, mopey, completely unappreciative of anything anyone does for him while simultaneously being pissed when he doesn't feel like his gestures are appreciated enough (which they never are). He's miserable, and expects everyone to make every effort to make his life better. He's had 2 contract jobs since the attempt -- he ruined the first by using copyrighted material in a website that got the merchant sued and is currently ruining the second by being massively over budget and behind on every deadline since the first week. He hates his mother, so at least once a week, RB is playing mediator between the two of them (sometimes I take on the role of calming down the mom while RB takes on Uncle Z -- it's draining). At least once a month, Uncle Z can't handle his mother anymore and comes and stays with us for a week (that's my limit -- I don't care what kind of awful person that makes me, I WILL NOT have that man living with us -- he can be homeless, as far as I'm concerned). When he visits he brings his ornery dog, a rat terrier that loves to growl and snap at Caleb. So he gets to be locked up in his kennel or be outside when they come. Cause, well, this is Caleb's house, and he's not going to be pushed out by any visitors' dog.

The thing that has me worked up right now, though, is that he is now bailing on coming to our crawfish boil this weekend (we're having a crawfish boil this weekend! Woohoo!), because his mother is staying with us Friday to Sunday, and my parents are staying with us Sunday through Tuesday, so we don't have anywhere for him to stay with us. We told him this at least a month ago, and he's got friends in Austin (that are also coming to the boil, so we know they're in town), but rather than calling them and asking if he can crash there, he's now saying we didn't really want him to come, so he's throwing a 40-year-old man tantrum. That's the best way I have to describe it. Every time my family comes to town, I have to make them stay in a hotel, because Uncle Z and my mother-in-law can't figure out how to do that. I refused to do that this time. I gave everyone ample time to figure it out (heck, Houston isn't even that far -- he could drive in Sunday morning and drive back that evening -- it's only 2-2.5 hours!), so I hate being made out to be the bad guy just because he's wanting to be a small child. He comes by this behaviour naturally. Their dad hasn't been in our lives because he doesn't feel that RB really "meant" the invitation to the wedding, so he's been pitching a fit ever since. Has never met his only grandchild, though we've invited him to the Bris and the baptism, and we send him pictures. I guess the apple (Uncle Z) doesn't fall far from the tree (father-in-law).

Oh geez. This was quite the rant. All this to say, it's very tiring, though there's a tiny part of me that's happy I may not have to deal with him this weekend (but only tiny, because he will make us pay for us making him feel "unwelcome"). I know you don't marry a person, you marry their family. And believe me, this family gave me pause. But we will get through this, too. RB is so incredibly patient with his brother. I've been studying the book of James with my women's Bible study group, and I keep being reminded of James 1:2-4:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
I know we're being readied for a strong-willed teenaged (or earlier) Caleb or some other patience-trying fun. The "completing" process, though, is really no fun and is never complete. I want to get to that not-lacking-anything place, but I'm not sure that I can survive the refining process. And I'm having trouble finding the joy in this trial.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Caleb's Latest Health Fun

Turns out, Caleb can't hear.

I'd been lamenting to friends that he hadn't started "conversing" with us, and didn't seem to respond when I came into daycare unless he could see me. I was told that I was overreacting, and that he was just being stubborn and ornery early, and I should just get used to being ignored. I'm his mother, after all.

But it still didn't seem right. So, when he had his 6-month (adjusted) developmental appointment with the high-risk clinic, I asked them about it. Maybe he's just not responsive to you, they tell me. They clap in front of him. He smiles. I point out that he's very responsive to things he sees, and he loves watching people. They ring a bell in his ear. He turns, but I still think it's more because he saw the bell out of the corner of his eye. So they tell me to say his name from behind him. No response. I mention that on a recent morning, he was awake in his crib, but laying on his stomach facing the wall. I walked in and sat right in front of the crib and talked to him, and he never turned his head. Maybe it's just your voice, they say. They call his name. No response. Finally, they decide there may be something to what I'm saying and they refer us to a pediatric ENT.

Fast forward a couple of weeks. We go to the ENT, and Caleb is in an extra fussy mood. We get asked about ear infections (none) and medications (lots for the lungs/wheezing), and then Dr. S. gets to looking in Caleb's ears. He says nothing, and sends us down the hall to the audiologist. We sit quietly, and she says things at various decibel levels through several speakers in the little soundproof room. Then there are beeps. Caleb has his head firmly fixated watching the audiologist the whole time. She says he is young, and probably doesn't understand what we are asking him to do. She pulls out a little wand and explains how she will test how well his eardrums are moving. We hold Caleb down and she does her thing. She's sure the measurement is wrong and tries again. And again. She writes some things down, and then shows us the graph. I don't have an actual picture, but my (bad) artist rendering is something like this:
I know. Right? That's the greatest graph you've ever seen. Don't you wish I would make more of them? So, the gray is supposed to be normal eardrum movement, and the green and blue lines were Caleb's eardrums. One is the right ear and the other is the left. So, his eardrums are hardly moving, and that's why the kid isn't responding -- he can't hear us.

I'm being deliberately macabre, here. He passed his newborn hearing screen, so we know his brain is wired for hearing. He just has so much fluid in his ears that he can't get any vibration in there. We're trying antibiotics first, but if that doesn't work, we're probably looking at tubes.

The only thing I worry about with tubes is whether he can still go swimming in a pool this summer. Anyone with experience who can tell me we'll still be able to dunk him in all kinds of chlorinated goodness?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I know, I know

Yes, I am a slacker. I don't mean to be, but I am.

Turns out I'm having trouble fitting in the things I *want* to do with all the things I *have* to do. So, something has to move around and make room.

I'm making room.

I have tons I want to write about. Partly because there is lots of stuff that I need to get out of my brain and process on a screen, but also partly because I need to re-find my way to what kind of blogging I will do now that my life is rather different in many ways.

Here goes nothing.