Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Don't Ask a Krussel What They Did This Summer!!!!

School has begun and therefore I live in fear of THE QUESTION. It’s a question that friends, teachers, and neighbors all ask……”What did you do this summer?”  I have good reason to fear the question.  In fact, I often pause during summer or even holiday and spring breaks to reflect and perhaps predict how my children will answer THE question, and it’s never pretty. 
My son was in kindergarten and after Spring Break he was asked THE question…..”What did you do over spring break?”  While other children say, “We went to Disney World”, or “We went to the Beach”, my child responded in the factual and literal fashion that is classic Gus Krussel….”Meg got impetigo so we stayed in the basement and Mom grew a unabrow.”  And there it was, out in the universe.  To translate for my then 6 year old son…..Meg did get Impetigo because contagious rashes and illnesses are a key component for every Krussel holiday break.  The kids played in the basement because with Impetigo, you cannot go out in the sun but they had a blast making forts out of moving boxes.   Now the unabrow statement is a tough one.  Gus spoke the truth but gained his information after overhearing my comment to a friend while I was on the phone….really, the unabrow wasn’t that bad.  Oh, and we did get to see Missy Elliot the rapper at the pharmacy while we were picking up Impetigo supplies!  How many kids could say that??? Why wasn't that mentioned? See, isn’t my explanation so much better! 
After a weeklong Thanksgiving break, Mabel responded to THE question with, “My Mom drove us to a bunch of Walgreens until we found flu shots.”  Again, extremely truthful and just plain sad.  How could she have left out the fact that I purchased each child their own bottled water while we waited in line?  I even splurged on a bag of pretzels! 
One of our most memorable school breaks was last September.  We had a full week off thanks to a new calendar that our school district adopted.  The neighborhood quickly evacuated for Disney or the beach.  The Krussels however were living in a construction zone thanks to a house fire just a month before.  For fun we took care of our friend’s bulldog, Mabel got extremely sick, Meg broke her finger in two places and we constructed a 10 foot tall bone out of plaster of Paris and chicken wire for Halloween purposes.  I can't imagine what my kids said after that break!   I tried to lay low and avoid the embarrassment.
I love my kids and I want them so badly to have a summer like I had growing up…..siblings and sun and the most fun that was born from boredom.  Barbie photo shoots in the backyard with our model wearing Kleenex couture…..giant water balloons that were treated as babies complete with clothing, bassinets and names……playing Fisher Price with our real live rooms where furniture was rearranged…..walks to the pool and the only “toy” we brought along was a penny for diving.  My kids aren’t too far off from my childhood summer activities.  While a trip to St. Louis was cancelled and instead we enjoyed numerous doctors’ visits, blood tests, gluten free seminars and the like, Meg, Gus, and Mabel managed to make their own memories.
 “Dust making” was all the rage during the first two weeks.  At a dimly lit table in the basement full of equipment that eerily resembled a meth lab, my trio worked tirelessly to make dust by scraping my measuring spoons across clumps of Georgia red clay.  Funnels and tiny glass bottles were filled with the gorgeous dust and then passed to Meg who made custom hieroglyphic labels (her current addiction).  Then the bottles were sold amongst the trio for a dime. 
Week three brought about a new addiction…..Fubbles.  Fubbles are small animals and aliens fashioned from pompoms, large amounts of glue, googly eyes, and pipe cleaners.  Again, they were sold to each other for a dime.  We have a theme brewing here.  Week three was when I realized that our summer had been completely hijacked by Celiac so I trashed the chore chart and reading charts.  The summer slide was in full swing at the Krussel house!  Our only educational moments came out of dysfunction….we taught Mabel that it’s a Vagina not a Bagina.  We taught Gus all about the repercussions of male crotch injuries.  We tried but failed to teach Meg how to hock a loogy during her three week bronchitis term.  We all became familiar with the poop charts at the GI's office.  I don’t think they have flashcards for any of those topics!  
We did manage to have some fun…..my kids have fallen in love with a CD created by Aunt Lucy.  Every child under 18 should name Nelly as their favorite rap singer and “Only a Dream” as their favorite song.  Journeys to more doctors visits than I can count,  were always made more fun by looking in my rearview mirror and seeing my three children waving their arms in the air just as Nelly commands in the song….”If you ever loved somebody, put your hands up!”   
So we don’t travel…big whoop!  All of my childhood vacations were spent in Bluffs, Illinois on Smith Lake, in a trailer with a septic tank and the memories are fantastic!  I turned out okay, kind of.  I’m sure having the kids spend the night in the basement is enough of a change of pace to generate similar memories, right?  As much as I try to convince myself that we’re okay despite our lack of vacationing, I find evidence to the contrary.  In Gus’ first grade story about himself he wrote…”One day I will travel all the way across America without a boat.”  Crap, we’re in deep trouble!  But frankly unless we carjack an ambulance and kidnap our pediatrician, we can’t really go too far from home without an illness or a rash or both.  And if I committed those crimes, I doubt the Georgia correctional facilities would offer me a gluten free menu.  

As we reached the end of July, I started to worry about THE question.  But then, a miracle.... All of the illnesses and new diseases finally paid off!  The thousands of dollars we have spent on office visits, blood tests, strep tests, and scopes earned us an offer from our pediatrician  who insisted that we use his condo in Florida for a few days.  ( I think we can claim at least the master bedroom closet in the condo as being completely paid for by Krussel illnesses).
We were bold and daring, packed up like we were taking five elderly people with us complete with Miralax, five different lotions, vitamins, allergy medicines, inhalers, nose sprays, special soaps and more gluten free food than you could shake a stick at and headed south.  It was fantastic but we’re still Krussels……three of us were stung by jelly fish, one suffered massive amounts of water in the ear despite a custom ear plug, another experienced her skins revolt against sand, salt and sun and yet another discovered that her foot was broken.  Benadryl, ear drops, lotions, and a lot of gumption got us through and amazingly fond memories muted the typical Krussel crap.  I was just pleased that an ambulance and pediatrician were not needed. Most importantly, my kids have sea shells, bags of sand and pictures to produce as proof that their summer was not a total loss!  Without that trip, someone was bound to answer THE question with…..”All the girls got Silly Ack Disease so we ate beets, made dirt, went to lots of doctors and saw Mabels gizzards on tv.”