Bunny


I really appreciate the feedback as it helped to get different perspectives as well as validated my feelings that what is going on is not normal. I couldn’t focus my thoughts enough to write all that went down regarding the mark but I have now even though it seems disappointingly irrelevant at this point.

I saw the mark on Bunny’s bottom, early Saturday evening as he was undressing to take a bath. It was such an unnatural color that at at first I was sure it was paint or marker – that he must have sat in egg dye or something. But when I casually asked him what the mark was, he confusedly looked behind himself and exclaimed he didn’t know, almost as though he hadn’t noticed it before. At that point, I looked closer and realized, it was not, in fact, any sort of paint or marker or dye, it was his skin. Not only was it bright, bright red but it was also warm to the touch, much like a sunburn and it was slightly inflamed, the red part of the skin, rising slightly above the fair part. The difference, though not apparent at first, was actually very distinct, as the mark was precisely rectangular. That’s when I grabbed my camera, under the guise that if he could clearly see the mark, maybe it would help him remember what happened, but even though he gamely agreed, he absolutely could not tell me how he got it.

Understanding that he might be afraid, I told him that I would absolutely not be angry with him no matter what he told me, but that it was important that he share with me how he got hurt so that I could keep it from happening again. Bunny didn’t get upset or angry. On the contrary, he was practically disappointed when he couldn’t remember anything, as though he were letting me down. I tried specifics as well. I asked him if a kid had done it or a grown up; he said neither. I asked him if either his mom or his dad hat hurt him or caused the mark. Again, he said no. I knew he had attended a birthday party earlier in the day and asked him if anyone had hurt him at the party or if he had gone anywhere or done anything that might have caused a mark like that. Again, nothing.

I asked him if it hurt, and he shrugged casually saying it stung a bit. Finally, after spending nearly a half hour gently trying to coerce the information out of him, I gave in. I told him to read a book and that I’d be back to help him into the bath in a few minutes. First I called Dr. D’s hospital, knowing it was a long shot (he’s an ER doc, after all) then I nervously called Winifred. Trying to keep my voice light and airy I asked her if Bunny had gotten hurt at the park during the party. Bewildered she said no, not that she knew of. Why? I explained that I had discovered a mark on his bottom.

“Oh that!” She exclaimed. “Yeah, I saw that. He must have gotten it at the party. It’s weird isn’t it? Almost looks like a burn.” Yep, I agreed. She continued that she’d forgotten to have Dr. D look at it before he left for work that afternoon. Completely unconcerned she thanked me for calling and mentioned that if Bunny wanted, after his bath, I could put some calendula cream on it and that was that.

For the second day in a row, I was shocked by the response from this mother, this social worker and was dismayed that this otherwise very caring and intelligent person could be so completely blasé when confronted with information questioning the very safety of her son.

It freaked me out.

And what do scared 19 year old girls do when they find themselves in crummy, overwhelming situations?
I called my mommy.

Luckily, we live only ten minutes away from Calamitous Casa, so I hurried about, anxiously cleaning the kitchen while Buddha rambled in his highchair, waiting for my mom to come save the day.

Unfortunately, gone are the days when simply her presence could make even the worst of scenarios, bearable, but she did hang out with Bunny and kept him occupied while I dealt with Buddha and the dinner clean up. And after their bath (during which nothing suspicious happened) she read books with him while I put Buddha to bed. She didn’t fix it all, but knowing she was there definitely calmed my nerves. I was having visions of calling CPS and them laughing at me and then getting fired only to be arrested for abuse myself and escaping from jail and having to kidnap the boys and escaping to Mexico. (Which strangely enough, my biggest logistical setback to this fiasco was the fact that neither of their cars easts are in my car.) Once they were both asleep, I thanked her for coming over and asked her to please call the therapist friend to which she gladly agreed.

Now this therapist lady, friend of my mom’s, is pretty cool and I trust her because ever since my soon to be 8 year old cousin Pepper started seeing her a while back, he’s slowly become an actually tolerable human being. I’m telling you, this woman is a miracle worker. Anyhow, my mom is friends with her through church, so she spoke to Miracle Worker Therapist Lady on Sunday and shared with her what I had observed the last couple of days. MWTL agreed that the penis incident was rather unusual and a bit too specific and she shared in my surprised that Winifred, a social worker herself, wasn’t more alarmed by the behavior. She continued that because Bunny didn’t say who or what caused the mark or how he got it, there’s apparently nothing I or CPS can do about it. Even though isolated they are strange, and combined they are rather suspicious, the two incidents alone (or together) are not enough to warrant calling the authorities as there is no concrete evidence to support any theories of abuse. She did say that I should continue to be vigilant of Bunny’s behavior in case anything else does occur to further implicate an abusive situation.

So I was rather disappointed and a bit peeved that everyone else seemed to be playing down what happened and shrugging it off as though I’m some sort of hypochondriac nanny. After Winifred left today, I did casually ask Dr. D if he figured out what had happened to Bunny’s bottom. He distractedly muttered that his conjecture was that Bunny must have sat upon or scraped it against something while at the park, but that it was healing fine … and with that he returned to the elusive land of lucid-only-to-himself-and-his-genius-thoughts bubble world that he is a frequent resident of.

So there you have it. Unfortunately, I’ve come to the end of the road at the moment with regards of what I can reasonably do. It sucks, really. I’m stuck in this warped limbo, just waiting. On the one hand, I want to be wrong, I so want to be wrong. I want nothing more to happen, no more touching, no more marks – I want to just be overreacting. And on the other hand, I almost wish something else would happen, that Bunny would exhibit the behavior once more, as it would give me a reason to take action. But as it is, I’ve been gridlocked. I’m playing the waiting game.

Whoever said patience was a virtue needs to be shot – or whatever the pacifist alternative to that is.

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I had one of those days today.  The ones where I just want to go home, get a hug from my mom and curl up in bed and be thankful that unlike other (real) parents, I can go home and detox from the crazy little munchkins that rule my life.

Calling Bunny a handful would be like calling the grand canyon a crevice. If there is one word to describe him, it’s volatile. But no, today I’m not going to get into Bunny’s extensive behavioral issues. No, I’ll save that for when I’m really in need of blogging fodder. Today, there was one main issue that really, well, for lack of a better term, freaked me out.

It was almost time for me to go home and after an excruciatingly long day with the two of them (damn you Easter/Passover!) I was looking forward to collapsing in a heap on my bed. Of course, just when I think that Bunny is really shaping up, he reminds me why it is that I am so thankful for the fact that he has school five days a week now. I was giving Bunny and Buddha a bath this evening, which under normal circumstances would have been a somewhat daunting task anyway. But the fact that Buddha had only napped for 40 minutes this morning was not helping matters. Mostly, however, it was Bunny’s ever increasing hysterics that were beginning to unravel me. Though I had calmly given him a twelve minute warning (and then reminded him again at 5 and 2 minutes respectively) that we would have to collect his toys and head inside, he had adamantly refused to cooperate and instead had insisted on yelling and sprinting wildly through the backyard before finally flinging himself in a small pool of mud that he had previously created with the garden hose. We were already a good twenty minutes off schedule by the time I finally had settled him down enough to be able to go inside and start the bath. Anyway, despite my best efforts at redirection and my reminders that he needed to control himself and settle down, he continued to spiral out of control, only becoming semi-calm for moments at a time – just long enough to fool me into believing that it would stick.

In the immediate minutes following, despite my warnings, threats and directions he pulled Buddha’s hair, took away his bath toys, and poured water on his head. In any other moment, I would have taken him out of the tub and secluded him outside so he could be by himself and calm down, however Winifred had planned on taking the boys out to dinner at five and it was already five after five so I did my best to protect Buddha while simultaneously trying to scrub the mud and grime off of the both of them. So when the incident happened in the tub, I was on my eighth hour at work and frazzled.

“What are you doing?” I asked in my most calm voice possible despite the fact that I wanted to rip him out of the tub and send him outside, mud, water, sand and all.

“I’m putting my penis in Buddha’s bottom.” He informed me in a rather pleased tone. And indeed he was attempting to do just that. Sitting directly behind Buddha he had scooted forward and was tugging at his penis directing it straight towards Buddha’s unsuspecting little heiner crack.

“That is not okay.” I replied in an as matter-of-fact tone as I could muster.
“Bunny, stop.” I instructed him, giving him a moment to acquiesce before continuing.
“That is not alright. You need to keep your penis to yourself.” And with that I put my hand on his shoulder and urged him to the other side of the tub.

Maybe if it had ended there, I wouldn’t have worried, however, less than a minute later, as I was reaching for the shampoo behind me, I caught him, yet again, straddling Buddha while touching his penis to his bottom. Perhaps  too harshly, I  again demanded that he stop immediately and reiterated that he keep his penis to himself.

“Why?” He asked me defiantly while laughing.

Refusing to be baited into one of his classic arguments I simply repeated that he needed to control his behavior and keep his body away from Buddha’s. This is the same mantra I use whenever he is physically aggressive towards Buddha (hitting, kicking, pushing etc.) When he refused to back off, I picked up a fussy, sudsy Buddha and placed him on the opposite end of the tub, instructing Bunny to stand up while I finished rinsing him off.

Finally, after a full blown tantrum during which I had to physically drag a kicking and screaming Bunny out of the tub and out of the bathroom itself, and after I consoled, dried and dressed a cranky Buddha and had buckled him into his car seat, I dashed inside to have a quick word with Winifred while Dr. Doormat was helping Bunny into the car.

I’m not sure what I expected from her, but considering she’s an LCSW, her off-handed reaction was certainly not it. With a nonchalant scoff and a roll of her eyes she explained, unperturbed that some of “the kids at school are playing that game” and that she herself had previously witnessed a similar interaction with one of his friends in the showers after swim class. Flabbergasted I shared with her what I had said to Bunny about keeping his body/penis to himself and she nodded, adding that that was practically verbatim what she had told him earlier. And with that, she brushed me off and hurried out the door.

Maybe I’m completely overreacting. Maybe my radar is too sensitive to these things, but something does not sit right with me about this at all.
Last October we found out that one of my other moonbeams, little Abuelito, had been sexually abused by a young male, teenage sitter and the way it came to his parents’ attention was due to his acting out the molestation with another child.

So perhaps, I’m simply overly cautious  from that experience, but I just have a bad feeling about this.

My father has seven brothers, of which at least two were/are excessively friendly with some of us female nieces. One of my very first memories, albeit fuzzy, dark and faded, is of being an underwear clad four year old exclaiming “no” to my uncle MoFo in response to his behind-grabbing invitation to sit in his lap. I learned very quickly to try and avoid him at all costs. And while I wouldn’t go so far as to deem it abuse, especially as I have no definitive memories of him doing anything more than simply touching inappropriately and making lewd comments, it definitely makes me that much more inclined to want to protect Bunny and Buddha at all costs.

I’ve been pouring through my child development textbook and reading all I can online and haven’t been able to find anything definitive regarding this type of sexual play in children. On the one hand, play acting and exploration are a normal part of a child’s burgeoning sexuality, but the incredibly specific nature of this incident doesn’t feel like ‘normal’ playing to me. It’s not as though I don’t have experience with the sexual explorations of young children. I’ve been witness to preschool boys comparing penises and of young siblings touching themselves or each other in the bath, but I have never seen anything to this extent before and it unsettles me. And what’s worse is Winifred’s off-handed reaction to it all. Up to this point, I haven’t really disagreed (and if I have, I’ve kept it to myself) about any of her parenting choices, but it makes me uncomfortable that we have such drastically different points of view about this.

And again, it’s very likely that I’m overreacting, but I talked to my mom about it today when I got home and asked her to please call a child therapist friend of hers so I can get an unbiased, professional opinion about it. I guess I’d just rather be safe than sorry.

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I was absently thinking about the word scrotum (okay, seriously, when will I ever get another chance to start a blog entry like that?) when this suddenly came back to me.
Bunny is an incredibly stubborn child. Moreso than your average kid. He is defiant and contrary and that’s just the way he is and nobody is gonna change him because they can’t because he’s the boss of himself, so there. When he was three, he was theoretically potty trained. As in, he was perfectly capable of knowing when he had to go, he would simply choose not to when he felt like it. When he did feel like going to the bathroom, he would insist on doing so in the most unique ways he could think of. For a while he would only go if he was straddling the toilet seat backwards. At one point, he insisted on peeing by laying across the toilet face down, so his penis was literally pointing straight down into the toilet bowl. And in moments when he was feeling particularly defiant, he would simply inform us that he was pooping or peeing in his pants, and then do exactly that.

Eventually, I learned to stop feeding the attention hoarding behavior of his and when he resorted to pooping as a control tactic, I would simply walk him to the bathroom, hand him a box of wipes and let him clean himself up. After he was through, I’d do a “heiner inspection” to make sure he was fully clean and we would go about our business, so to speak.
On one of these occasions, I was in the middle of something else when I realized that he was taking a rather long time in the bathroom. I poked my head in and asked what the hold up was, and he replied, altogether very chipperly “oh, nothing, I just have poop stuck under my scrotum.
Lovely.

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I’m not a birthday person. Six years ago, if somebody had told me I would become anti-birthday I would have gasped in disbelief and horror. And yet, here I am. Fully and completely anti-birthday. I tend to have very low expectations, in hope that if I don’t expect anything I won’t be disappointed. But that somehow, doesn’t seem to help. Birthdays just plain suck.

I hate them on the basis that I resent the hell out of time for making each year go by faster than the last. Because I never seem to be able to catch up. And because I can’t ever really fulfill the expectations that come with the day. People expect happiness and joy and self-absorbed excitement. And I just can’t do it. Can’t fake that I’m extra happy about a day just like any other day, only worse. I can’t help the fact that thoughts of my birthday fill me with feelings of dread. They just do.

And even though I wish I could just skip over the entire day, or even just sleep through it I always have this little flicker of hope that maybe something extra special will happen to make it worthy of the hype.

And that’s my big mistake. No matter how low I think my expectations are, I always have that bit of hope and I’m always, inevitably disappointed. It’s a cruel, rather ironic cycle. The less I expect out of them, the less joyous they become.

Granted none of them have sucked quite so much as my 14th birthday when instead of showing up with cupcakes for the class, my mother took me out of school and I spent the bulk of my day hiding my scars and holding back tears as I was interrogated by a couple shrinks. The only presents I remember getting that day are a diagnoses and my very first prescription for an SSRI.

Yesterday was my birthday. I received not a single phone call from any of my friends.

Except for Bunny.

I answered the phone expecting to hear Winifred’s voice and instead was greeted with a very professional, albeit cheerful “Hello, Turtle. It’s Bunny. I’m calling to wish you a happy birthday.”

I have no delusions that Winifred dialed and prompted his one-liner but what ensued just put the icing on my cake, so to speak.

Some small children don’t do well on the phone. Bunny is not one of them. He asked me what I was doing to celebrate and I informed him that we would have cake tonight, but that was pretty much the extent of it all. He wanted to know if I had baked it and I told him that I had not, my mother had. He paused to think about this for a moment and then giggled exclaiming that Buddha had taken mom’s lip gloss and put it in the toilet. I laughed and assumed that was the end of the birthday talk.

After a long bout of decidely maniacal laughter Bunny settled down and then very abruptly and decisively informed me that I should come over tomorrow so he and I could do something special together. I needed a treat he said. Something special. Maybe we could go on one of our walks to Starbucks and get one. And by the way I needed to be given my present. Eventually he handed the phone to Winifred insisting that we settle on a time for our date.

My dad is helping pay for $600 off my car loan and I’m thrilled, but nothing can compare to Bunny’s phone call.

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Buddha was filthy. And stinky. There was dried mush in his hair and I’m pretty sure little pieces of apple were rotting in his wrist rolls.
He stunk.
Bathtime? Oh yes.
Buddha loves the bath. Due in part, I’m sure, to the fact that he was born in one. Unfortunately due to certain pre-established perameters of Buddha bathing, it takes a good solid hour to complete the task. I usually bathe him during the day while Bunny is at school. Turns out winter break is very long around here. So I managed to convince Bunny to join in and the two of them had a total maniacal and chaotic drench-fest splashy, fun-filled time.
As much as Buddha loves bathtime, he equally loathes getting out of the tub. Especially if his brother is still in it. So I didn’t really pay attention to the lyrics of Bunny’s songs when he started singing. I was busy wrangling the screaming 14 month old, afterall. It was not until I was massaging Buddha with (product placement!) Burt’s Bees Baby Oil, that he calmed down enough for me to hear what Bunny was singing.

“Peee-nis, vagi-Nuh!”

At first I was a little troubled. And then Bunny added more lyrics and it clicked.

To the (very off) tune of “Heads, Shoulder, Knees & Toes.”

“Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs! (splash!)
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs! (splash!)
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs!
Kidneys, lungs! (splash, splash!)
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs!
Kidneys, lungs! (splash, splash!)
Eyes and tonsils and butt and nose!
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs! (splash, splash!)
Penis, vagina, kidneys, lungs! (splash, splash!)”

I’m fairly certain those were not the words he learned at school.
There is really no doubt that he is a doctor’s son.

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They say that second siblings are often times the complete opposite of the firstborns. This is true to a certain extent with Buddha and Bunny. Where it is really apparent is in their eating habits. Buddha will eat (or try to eat) anything. I mean, literally anything. Dirt, grass, paper, plastic, metal, dustbunnies, hair, you name it. This is the kid who tried to eat my sock while it was still on my foot. Bunny, on the other hand is a picky eater. But because he’s Bunny and anything but normal, he’s not picky in your typical five year old fashion. I was munching on a bagel, that I had brought from home, one morning and after eyeing it with some curiosity, he asked if he could have a bite. Sure, I said and started to hand him a piece.

“Is it organic?” He asked me, very seriously. Erm, no.
“Never mind then.” He muttered and continued on. This is not an altogether unusual occurrence. Mrs. Winifred is very specific about what she buys. I don’t think there is a single food item in the entire house that is not organic. This is not an exaggeration. She is very particular about what the children eat and when. Both Bunny and Buddha have daily allotments of veggies that they must eat. Bunny has inherited his mother’s zest for quality and health. I was munching on some corn chips one afternoon when I saw Bunny shaking his head at me.
“I don’t think those are very healthy for you. Maybe you should put them away.” He instructed me with total seriousness. I put my corn chips away.
One afternoon, I had picked up some veggie subs from subway and had a small bag of sun chips as well. Mrs. Winifred had given her okay on the chips but after making me read the ingredients on the bag and subsequently finding out that there was a lot of sugar in said chips, Bunny politely refused to eat them.
Another day we were at Starbucks where he was having his treat: a bottle of their organic fruit juice and some organic dried fruit and nuts, when he saw two other little boys around his age sipping some chocolate-y looking drink.
“That’s an adult beverage!” He announced. (Yes, this kid uses the word beverage.)
“Why are they allowed to drink that? It’s not healthy.”
I agreed with him on the health issue but noted that some parents have different rules about treats and maybe they were celebrating a special occasion or something. He nodded and understood but glared daggers at the father of the two children.
Last week Bunny came home with a marshmallow sculpture. And he ate it!
I asked him if he knew that marshmallows are not vegetarian. He nodded.
“Mom told me that already.” He muttered off-handedly and continued chewing.
“And it doesn’t bother you that there is dead animal in that?” I asked, still in complete and total shock.
“Nope. It tastes good.” He responded very matter-of-fact as though I were the most stupid person in the world for not understanding that.

 

*sigh*

 

Everytime I think I have him figured out he goes and throws me for a loop. I don’t know whether to be proud of him for making up his own mind or scared that he’s being corrupted by his more mainstream pre-school peers. Either way, he definitely keeps me on my toes.

One afternoon, Bunny, Buddha and I were playing outside in the backyard. Bunny was off with his vehicles and Buddha and I were enjoying the fun grass. Upon seeing Buddha attempt to rip out pieces of grass and put them in his mouth I joked that already he was a vegetarian, like Bunny, myself and his parents. We played awhile longer and not long after, I noticed that Buddha was now trying to put fistfuls of dirt into his mouth. I quickly scooped him up and wiped him off, trying to supress giggles. Bunny just shook his head and with an air of superiority explained to me that “he just doesn’t know that vegetarians don’t eat dirt.”
Oh Bunny, it’s a good thing you have such a wise older brother to teach you these things. Silly, Rabbit. Dirt’s not for vegetarians!

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