Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Such seasoned parents

Approximately two to three times a day, the same thing happens in our house. Terza starts to cry, just a little at first, then louder and louder, with more and more intensity, as if she's really trying to send us a message. And we, good though very stupid parents that we are, attempt to console her.

"What's the matter honey? What is it? Is your belly bothering you? Do you need to burp? Are you hungry? Are you hot? Are you going through a growth spurt? Is it developmental? Oh baby, what IS it? What could possibly be making you cry?"


"Damn, something smells bad. Is that you, David? What the hell is making that smell? And why won't this baby stop crying? And why is the back of her onesie wet?"

Sound of diaper tabs being pulled off.


I don't know how it is possible that after three children and after three months of raising this one child, it still does not occur to us that the reason the baby might be crying is that she is dirty.

The baby has got to be sitting there, wallowing in her own feces thinking, "For fuck's sake! I've been born into a family of morons. This is Baby 101 here. CTDS. Check The Diaper, Stupid. CHECK THE DIAPER!"

We'll get it eventually.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Come undone

I've come undone.  My bra, I mean. Approximately ten times a day.

Is there anything classier than walking around town with your nursing bra flaps unhitched, allowing your lacto-geysers to flip-flop around?

I honestly don't think I've remembered to re-hitch my nursing bra since I had this baby, three months ago. There is just way too much shit to do to recall that detail. Once the baby's done nursing, I basically whip her off, toss her in the stroller or the carrier and dart off somewhere else, and its only hours later that I realize one boob is like two inches lower than the other and that I forgot to snap my bra flap. So I do, just in time to unsnap the other one to feed the milk monster.

They should make an alert which reminds you to re-snap your bra flap, the way cars beep to remind you to buckle your seat belt. Then I'd get to be a classy lass with a respectable rack again.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Speaking of quantum mechanics . . .

When I picked Primo up from school a few weeks ago, I asked him what he did that day and he replied, "I worked on time travel."

"Oh that's interesting," I said. 

"No, really, " he went on, "For real. Harry and I are going to go back in time. With binary physics."

"Where did you learn about binary physics?" I asked him. I had never heard of such a thing. 

"From a documentary on Albert Einstein of course," he replied. Its his new thing to say "of course" after every phrase now. David thinks its obnoxious and I love it, probably because I'm really obnoxious too. He doesn't say it with an implicit "Duh," more like he's saying, "Naturally."

"But when did you watch a documentary on Albert Einstein?" I pressed further. 

"Oh, at Nana and Babbo's house," Primo said. That was surprising. Usually he only learned bad words and lousy habits there. But OK. I could accept this. 

"Well I wish I knew something about binary physics to help you," I said.

"Oh that's OK," he said, "I know what I'm doing."

Since then, he's been talking to everyone who will listen about binary particles and time travel. At a communion party for my cousin's daughter a few weeks ago, he talked my uncle's ear off about it. And a few days later, a package arrived for Primo from It was a book, gifted by my uncle,  called Six Not-So-Easy Pieces by Richard Feynman and the subtitle read: "Einstein's Relativity, Symmetry, and Space-Time." You lost me at "not-so-easy" but Primo instantly curled up and began reading. Occasionally he'd ask me what something meant - things like "pedantic" and "escapade," but for the most part he charged through nobly, though I can't imagine he discerned much meaning from it. 

A few days later we went to a kid's birthday party when David came over to me and said, "All I know is I just passed Primo talking to somebody's dad and the only bit of the conversation I caught was Primo saying, 'Speaking of quantum mechanics . . . '"

Am I am as smart as a second grader? The answer is clearly, "No."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Do i love everything about them?

I was at the park with my Mommy friend, nursing the baby under the shade of a tree and watching the big kids dig their arms up to their elbows in mud. It was as pastoral a scene as you get in NYC. Everyone was, for a brief moment, perfectly happy.

My Mommy friend said, "Don't you just love everything about them?"

"What do you mean?" I asked her.

"Like, the way their shoulders slope when they walk and their hair falls in their eyes and stuff like that."

"Ummm, no." I said, "I mean, I love their idiosyncrasies. I love many little things about them no one else would ever notice and I love parts of them they are not responsible for and parts they are and I love them more than I ever thought it possible to love anything - a human, an idea, life itself. I love them so much it honestly hurts. But I can say with complete assurance that I don't love everything about them."

My friend laughed. But she didn't agree or anything. Which made me feel guilty.

Then I thought about this in relation to marriage. I definitely don't love everything about David. Far from it. Like, I'd say the things-I-love-about-him versus things-I-can't-stand-about-him balance is 70/30. Maybe 60/40. If that. Like, when I hear songs and shit talking about 'I love you just the way you are, don't change a thing' -- I can't relate. If a genie came around and said, "I'm changing stuff about people you love. Got any requests?" I'd unfurl a list a mile long. Mostly little items but one or two big things. I'm glad that won't happen because I know full well that my "improvements" would screw David up and he wouldn't be who he is anymore but STILL, I'd want to. It doesn't mean I don't love the entire David package, because I do, as a whole. It doesn't detract from the intensity of my love and devotion to him. Same with the kids. Same with myself. For crying out loud, I'd probably change 95 percent of my own composition. Head to toe makeover, inside and out. You wouldn't even recognize me.

For me the song would go, "I love you just the way you are . . . with a few minor alterations. So sue me."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Ferocious Fours

Check out the essay I contributed to Babble recently, about The Ferocious Fours. For you regular readers, it will be a blast from the past to recall how my sweet, steadfast Primo was actually a living nachtmar as a preschooler. It actually gives me hope that maybe Sec will outgrow her current terrorizing tendencies. Although now that I've got a Terza in the house, I have another reign of terror to look forward to . . .

Monday, July 9, 2012

This'll give you palpitations

Whenever I take my kids on the subway, my general anxiety level shoots up. We have a strict "not beyond the yellow line" policy but still, they always seem to be veering too close to the edge of the platform and I don't breathe easy til we are all in a car, sitting together. I read this story on Babble a few days ago, about a toddler whose stroller got blown onto the subway tracks in an above-ground platform in Brooklyn, and it gave me palpitations. Thankfully, a good samaritan came to the rescue. Which proves that New Yorkers are the best.

Today's PSA: put those brakes on your strollers, folks.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Spilling Blood on Graduation Day

It always happens that when you are in a rush, you get sloppy about your business and end up getting into scrapes which take MORE time to get out of, making you not just a little late, but over-the-top late, miss-the-whole-damn-thing late. Which is why when I am late, I should remind myself to take a deep breath and take it easy. It saves time in the long run. Also saves a visit to the hospital

Like a wise man once said, "Those stumble who run fast." In my case, it was more like, "Those sustain knife wounds who slice bread in haste."

Last week, Seconda graduated from PreK. It was a glorious day, commemorated by a special moving up ceremony in her classroom, first thing in the am. Primo was also having his special Farewell-to-Second-Grade Class Breakfast on the same morning, just ten minutes earlier. There was a lot of shit to do - hair to braid,  lunches to pack, coffee to drink, babies to feed, fancy dress sashes to tie in bows. It didn't help that I got up late, being desperate to suck every last minute of sleep after a long night feeding and catering to Baby Bunting. And since it was Graduation Day, I had to do something which is not part of my normal morning routine, namely washing and grooming myself. So it was that I was running way, way late when I realized the Italian bread which Seconda likes in her lunchbox was not sliced.

Now, if there is one activity not to rush through in the morning, it is probably slicing bread with a large, serrated knife. Rush through your coffee or brushing your teeth or pouring milk in cereal but do not, I beg of you, rush through slicing bread. Because if you do, it is very possible that in addition to the bread, you will slice a large piece of your finger as well. Which is precisely what I did on Graduation Day.

"David," I gasped, applying pressure to my finger and staggering into the bathroom, "I need you in here. Now." I shot him the "I am bleeding profusely but don't say anything to the kids because you know how they get about blood, both titillated and terrified" look.

"You did a nice job of this," he said, "What the hell?"

"I feel like I'm going to faint," I told him.

"You're not going to faint," he replied oh-so-helpfully.

"WHY do we always have to have the same argument when I am going to faint?" I asked, finding the strength somehow to argue despite the dizzy feeling, "I have to lie down right now."

I hobbled over to the couch, squeezing a paper towel around my finger and that tipped the kids off and they crowded around, asking WHY the towel was red and OH MY GOD is that BLOOD? and LET ME SEE IT! and Oh Mommy I'm SCARED! and But can I see it AGAIN? and so on.

By the time my fainting spell had passed and I had stopped the bleeding and applied a bandaid we were woefully late. I grabbed the baby and we darted over to school, with three minutes remaining in Primo's Class Breakfast.

My dad, the doctor, came over later that night to check out my laceration.

"Nicole, you probably should have gotten stitches for that," he said, "That's a nasty cut."

"Let's go, then," I said, "Right now."

"Its twelve hours after the fact," he said, "Too late now."

So in the final analysis, I was a bit late to Sec's Graduation Day, woefully late to Primo's Class Breakfast but Irredeemably, Dealbreakingly Late to my Stitches in the ER appointment. Figures.

Monday, July 2, 2012

"Don't you think its a little weird?"

Since school's out and we haven't taken a trip since I was in my second trimester of pregnancy, we decided to take a last-inute trip to Tennessee. Put an end to the post partum cabin fever we've all been having. Just what the doctor ordered.

So here I am, sitting in the Smoky Mountains, eavesdropping on my kids getting all "country." For Seconda, that means playing with bugs. They have an impressive diversity of bug life here -- things like Stink Bugs, Rolie Polies, Centipedes and other insects which all basically look like "Ewww" to me but which my daughter delights in adopting. Her newest foster bug is a grasshopper she found in front of the house.

Unfortunately, it wasn't really alive.

"Com'ere little sweetie. I'll take you to the swing set with me and we can swing," she purred to the grasshopper, "Hey what happened to your legs? Why don't you have any legs anymore?"

 few minutes later: "I'm gonna call you Honey, and you'll be my best friend. But why aren't you moving?"

"Don't you think its a little weird that Sec is carrying a dying grasshopper with her everywhere?" Primo just asked me.

I considered for a moment.

"I don't disagree," I said, "But just let her do it. She really wants a pet."

City slickers.