Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Seeing Purple

Asthma, Barney

Giving birth to my children and holding them in my arms for the first time was the greatest joy I have ever experienced.  For 9 months prior to their arrival, I read books like "What to Expect When You're Expecting" and Dr. Spock's guides to raising children from cover to cover.  I knew ahead of time what changes my body was undergoing and how my baby was developing.  From reading those books I knew exactly what to expect from the day I found out I was pregnant all the way into those first few months after birth ........ or did I?

My husband and I were so excited when we brought our first child home.  For the first few weeks my son slept like an angel and was the best baby ever.  Oh, how the books were exactly right.  Then, when he was about 3 months old he started getting sick and was only sleeping for about 30-45 minutes at a time.  By the time he was 4 months old, the bags under my eyes could've been classified as a full set of luggage, and I'd sweat from so many steam showers due to the number of rounds of croup my son had contracted that I could've been hung from a wind chime.

Nowhere in those baby books I'd read so dutifully did it talk about this part of motherhood.  I was ready to rip the pages out of those books and burn them in a bonfire.  When our son was 5 months old he was diagnosed with reactive airway disease (aka asthma).  The doctor ordered a nebulizer kit (a machine that transforms liquid medication into a mist for inhalation).  The kit even came with a cute little child-sized mask that was shaped like a purple dinosaur.  I immediately thought "Awww!  How cute!  My baby's first Barney item!".

The first time I had to give my son a nebulizer treatment, he tolerated the mask being put on his face because he was interested in the dinosaur mask.  When it was time for his next treatment 2 hours later he was done with that mask and wanted nothing to do with it.  That boy may as well have been greased up like a pig and been born with 10 arms for as much as I had to fight to get that mask even remotely near his face.  By the time the nebulizer vial was empty, I was pretty sure I'd ingested more of the medication than he had.

About that time my best friend called and asked how the treatments were going.  As I wiped the sweat from my brow, I told her that it could've gone better.  She suggested putting a kids show on tv to distract him.  What a great idea! 

At the next appointed time for the nebulizer, I flicked on the tv and found Sesame Street.  What kid doesn't like a little Burt and Ernie, I thought.  Apparently mine.  He cried louder and fought harder with Sesame Street on than when I'd had nothing on tv.  Determined to find a way to make this easier, I grabbed the tv remote and started flicking through the few kid channels available.  Nothing tamed this wild beast of a child.  I was ready to throw in the towel and check into whether they made straight jackets in my child's size when my friend asked if I had a kid show or movie on tape that I'd bought.

YES!  I had 1 VCR tape (yes, that was before the invention of the DVD) for kids.  I dug that video out of the cabinet, plopped it into the VCR and hit play.  My son was instantly captivated by that strange purple dinosaur dancing across the tv screen.

I turned on the nebulizer, put the mask over his face, and wouldn't you know, he was so captivated he didn't even notice!  V-I-C-T-O-R-Yyyyyyyyyyyy........... why, oh why, did I ever think that was a good idea.  For the next 5 years that blasted, grotesquely purple, dancing dinosaur was the only way my son would take his nebulizer treatment.  And only with that same exact Barney tape playing.  Oh how I tried showing him how neat it would be to see something different by turning the tv to a 30 minute Barney episode.  I even bought a different Barney video.  No, "Barney's Super Singing Circus" had indoctrinated my child into the world of Barney and had immediately performed some kind of mind control over him.  It was the only video he would watch while having a nebulizer treatment. What was working so well for my son just so happened to be the very thing which was now sucking my brains out.

I hear parents talk about how difficult their child was with colic or separation anxiety.  There is nothing that compares to the sheer torture of having to listen to the same Barney video every few hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for 5 years straight.  Every time I heard Barney's voice it was like having nails driven up my spine.

If our military used this video instead of other forms of torture, I would bet terrorists would give up every ounce of intelligence information they knew within 5 minutes of that video playing.  I wanted to buy a stuffed Barney just so I could choke the life out of that obnoxious, mind-controlling dinosaur.

Ok, so I know Barney was a phenomenal tool in allowing me to give my son life-saving medication in a relaxed and comforting manner, but I'm pretty sure I lost some of my sanity and quite a number of brain cells to that video.  5 years of the same songs and same characters, day in and and day out, is just wrong on so many levels. 

I have, however, found a great use these days for those songs.  One chorus of a particular song from that video really stuck in my brain.  Now when I'm out in public with my pre-teen children and they start driving me insane with their bickering, or they keep antagnozing each other, all I have to do is break out into song.  Not a Broadway show tune, not Justin Bieber or One Direction.  No, I break out into Barney:

"Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy? 
Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?
Giddy and foolish the whole day through,
Boom, boom, ain't it great to be crazy?"

You'll never see 2 children snap-to so fast as when you look at them ever so lovingly, gently stroke their hair and face, and start singing and dancing just like Barney.  Matter of fact, this has become such a good tool and brings me so much enjoyment, just as Barney brought them not so many years ago, that I've thought about trying to find a purple Barney shirt I can carry around in my purse to throw on to go with the song and dance.  I'm sure my kids would really appreciate my singing ever so much more if I just had the shirt.........

by: Christie Bielss

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