Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Men Experience Childbirth

All of us who've been through childbirth enjoy -- secretly or openly -- lording our sacrifice over the men who've watched, nice and comfortable, as we bellow in agony. We know something they don't. But recently in Holland, two lucky men got a taste of what childbirth is like, through some high-tech pain machine and a bunch of electrodes attached to their abdomen. They appeared, of course, on a Dutch television show, called Guinea Pigs and naturally I've included the link, within the Babble piece on the duo:  Men Experience Childbirth

The video is in Dutch but its pretty easy to decipher since moans and whimpers and wails transcend language.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Assaulting the Bus Driver is a Felony: in other words, he's not worth it

Primo recently noticed a sign on the bus: "Assaulting a bus driver is a felony."

Last week this made him worry I would end up in the clink.

"I am not ASSAULTING the bus driver," I whispered to him, "I'm not even insulting him -- which I have every right to, under the circumstances."

"But you're not being that nice," he whispered back.

"What? All I'm saying," I replied, not whispering anymore, "is that I am proud of my children for chasing the bus three long blocks so that this poor little baby didn't have to wait in the bitter cold and get frostbite. Sure, it would have been easier for the bus to wait five seconds so we could get on at the last stop but this way we got exercise! I just LOVE exercise!"

In other words, being toxically passive aggressive does not count as a felony.

Primo then decided to pretend he didn't know me; he probably didn't want to be considered an accomplice when I got locked up.

When we got off the bus, I took a deep breath and pronounced, "Tomorrow, we do not take the bus. Tomorrow, we walk. I don't care that is 12 degrees outside - being cold is better than me assaulting the bus driver. Because if that--" [pause while I succeed in not using the word fucking asshole in front of the kids], "if that guy makes me run three blocks in this bitter cold again with a baby strapped to my chest and two little kids in tow, there is no doubt I am going to assault him."

See, teachable moment? Know thyself, kids. Don't put yourself in situations that aren't good for you. Don't create circumstances that will result in you having a rage fit.

Instead, start a blog where you can vent and tell everyone that that uncharitable, cold-hearted, sub-human bastard of a bus driver refuses to wait the damn 5 seconds it takes for us to cross the street and get on his bus. What kind of a person doesn't wait five seconds for a woman carrying a baby and two little kids when its TWELVE DEGREES outside and they are STEPS away from getting on the bus? When you see them waiting for the light to change and wildly waving three sets of arms and yelling, "PLEASE! WAIT!" Why force a poor innocent infant to stand in the bitter cold waiting for the next bus when its just a matter of a few seconds? Delaying the schedule by five seconds is a small price to pay particularly when the alternative is going STRAIGHT TO HELL for being the shittiest human being ever created.

That is what I wanted to say to the bus driver when we got on the bus at the next stop, three blocks away. Because when the guy pulled away from the curb just as we were running up to the door of the bus, almost as if he was abandoning us INTENTIONALLY, the guy made a big mistake. He activated my vengefulness.

"Oh this son of a bitch doesn't think he's going to leave my little kids and POOR DEFENSELESS baby out here in the cold, does he? Oh, no no no no. I'l follow this mofo to HELL AND BACK," went my internal monologue, "You fucked with the wrong mother today, buddy."

What I said to the kids was, "KEEP RUNNING! WE'L CATCH IT AT THE NEXT STOP!"

And so we did, sprinting three blocks in a cold so intense Primo was panting, "It hurts my lungs, Mommy! It burns!"

I just panted back, "Don't stop! We're getting on that bus!"

And lo and behold, we made it to the next stop before the bus did. And we got right on.

I wanted to curse the bus driver old-school-style, like my grandmother would -- ala "You should be ashamed of yourself!" -- but I also didn't want to embarrass the kids. So I tried very very VERY hard to restrain my rage and just slid my Metrocard in the slot and ripped it out furiously while giving him a cold, hard stare and saying absolutely nothing. Then I took my time folding up my stroller and sat in the first seats and commenced passive aggressive public shaming. Unfortunately, I think the only person shamed was Primo: the conscience-less bus driver did not seem affected.

When we exited the bus through the front doors -- screw you, I'm not going out the back with my stroller and a baby strapped to me -- I came thiiiiiis close to shrieking at him: Have you no decency sir? Were you not born of a woman? BE A HUMAN BEING!"

But I didn't. Though I can't promise I'll succeed in restraining myself should it happen another time. Which is why for the time being, we're bundling up and walking. Doesn't take any longer, really, and it made help me avoid life imprisonment.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A joke?

"Oh, I made up a joke," Primo told me yesterday, "A doctor showed a Rorschach test to this guy. Now this person was a little mentally-ill. When the doctor asked what the picture looked like, the guy said, "It looks like a piece of paper with ink blotted all over it!"

Primo beamed at me: "Get it Mommy?"

"Yep," i said, "That's a good one. Kind of avant-guard, but good. By the way, where did you hear about Rorschach test?"

"Oh you know," he said, "I just pick this stuff up."

I think that about says it all.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Workaholic Babies

Nobody works harder than babies. Go watch a baby and see if it doesn't exhuast you just to witness their level of industry. Babies are basically workaholics.

I remember this phase from when Primo was about eight or nine months and used to report to his office aka the Exersaucer.

"Go to your office now," David would tell him, "You're late to work."

Terza's office is on the rug near the coffee table in the living room. Plop her down there and two seconds later, she's found something useful to do. Not useful in adult terms, of course. In fact, in adult terms, her work is the very opposite of useful. But it helps keep the family economy kicking because it gives me more work. So everyone's employed: her making a mess and me cleaning up the mess and making sure in the making of it she doesn't injure herself.

A normal work day for Terza includes:

Ripping the covers off the magazines on the coffee table.
Taking the books off the bottom shelf.
Picking up and sampling desiccated Cheerios and assorted snack morsels.
Shredding tissues.
Balling her brother and sister's masterpiece drawings into a crumpled heap.
Investigating the lint on the rug.

What impresses me is the urgency with which she confucts her businees. Always high stakes. And the determination. She's indefatiguable.

You can almost hear her muttering "A baby's work is never doing" and sighing ever-so-quietly to herself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Moxy Breakthrough!

So, after four days of Mortal-Kombat-style wrestling matches in which David and I team up to try to shove the Amoxicillin my baby requires into her gullet, we finally made a pretty impressive breakthrough.

She likes drinks it from a cup.

Who would've thunk a person would prefer to swallow liquids in controlled little sips like a civilized person rather than have it shot down theirs throats like a feral beast? Shocking.

I tried it yesterday after my syringe technique failed miserably, thinking, "What the hell? Shot in the dark but its worth a try anyway," and she was so cooperative, the picture of compliance. She smiled agreeably and put her lips to the little cup, not letting a drop dribble out. Then she did it again, and again until the whole dose had been ingested, in under ten seconds, with zero mess and tears shed.

So, I guess my take-away is, sometimes the hardest way is not the best way.

I know, I'm a genius.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Girl Got Amoxy

So the baby was slammed with her first double ear infection. Poor old thing. Thankfully, her doc was at the ready with a handy script for Amoxicilin.

All that remained was to administer the stuff to the baby. Doesn't sound so terribly difficult, but it is. Oh, how it is.

We got one of those syringes that shoot the meds right into the baby's mouth. Surely, I thought, with this handy device, there'd be no fuss, no mess. I mean, you shoot it right in their gullet.

Of course, they retain the ability to shoot it right out. At first, Terza would just bat it away with her hands or jerk her head away, so we got smart and ruthless and would hold her hands and her head so there was no way she could escape the medicine. That's when she realized she had mounted the in-mouth resistance. Because there was nothing we can do to prevent her from gurgling and she she gurgles, the meds csme spraying out -- all over our faces.

Then we were left wondering how much she had actually swallowed and was it enough to make the dose effective. I mean, we didn't want to overdose with her extra meds but from the look of the pink goo splashed all over our shirts and faces, she definitely hadn't ingested much of it.

So I called the pharmacist.

"How much of the antibiotics does the baby need to swallow to make the dose effective?" I asked.

It did seem like a dumb question to me as I was asking it but its kind of a dumb situation and I was certain he'd fielded an inquiry like this before. From the sound of his voice, he had not.

"Ummm, the whole thing," he said, "A dose is a dose."

"Yeah, but she just keeps spitting so much out," I protested, "I don't know what to do."

"Just give her some water afterwards to wash the taste away," he suggested.

You should keep your day job, I wanted to tell him,  Because you are piss poor at baby advice. I mean, have you ever actually tried to get 4 mls of Moxy in a baby's guts? The water chaser is not going to get this job done.

The more times we gave her the meds, the better able she became at resisting through her Super-Gurgling Technique of civil disobedience.

"But why? why? WHY?" I asked her, "Don't you know this is GOOD for you? Don't you know this will make the pain go AWAY?"

She looked at me like, "What the fuck, man? You know I'm just a baby."

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Modern Parenting Screwing Our Kids Up?

So, according to a recent study,  Modern Parenting May Hinder Kids' Brain Development.

In a nutshell, the "interdisciplinary body of research presented recently at a symposium at the University of Notre Dame," suggests that commonly-accepted modern parenting practices -- everything from cry-it-out sleep training to formula feeding to using a carrier or a stroller instead of holding your baby in your arms -- may be the reason record numbers of American kids are depressed, anxious, aggressive and just all-around fucked-up. That was not, by the way, the language used by sciencedaily to report this, but let's not dither around here -- that's the point. I mean, listen to this:
"Life outcomes for American youth are worsening, especially in comparison to 50 years ago," says Darcia Narvaez, Notre Dame professor of psychology who specializes in moral development in children"
I'm no expert but even I know you don't get more all-around fucked-up than worsening life-outcomes. And, as a side note, what the hell does specializing in "moral development" entail? Sounds vague and nebulous and already, I'm skeptical.

Do I need to pause here to clarify that the conjectures offered by this whole "body of research" pisses me off?

The reason I'm pissed is this: from what I can tell, almost every practice this study suggests as beneficial to kids is stuff parents already know to do. Mother know Breast is Best. Parents know babies need skin-to-skin and to be cuddled. We know that its good to spend quality time with our kids. We know that its good for a child to have a host of "supportive adult caregivers." Even responding to a crying baby is pretty intuitive -- sure, some folks may think its ok to let the baby wait a minute or two before rushing over, but that's probably because those folks have shit to do at that very minute and while they are wrapping that shit up, they reason that it won't do permanent damage to the baby for the baby to hold on a minute.

So I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that the reason most parents don't do these things -- don't breastfeed or give their babies "near constant touch" or sleep in bed with their kids -- is that they can't, either physically or emotionally or for whatever reason. Maybe, for instance, a mother has to work. Going back to an office at 3 months postpartum, maybe to secure the insurance one needs to provide medical care for babies, which I've heard also aids brain development --  pretty much precludes doing many of the things advised by this research. Maybe you have a bunch of other kids to deal with. Maybe letting your baby cry it out, or sticking them in an exersaucer or pushing them in a stroller rather than holding them in your arms all freaking day gives you the sanity that allows you to be a good mother.

Because here's something else I know, and I'm pretty sure science will back me up on this but shit, I'm too tired from being up all night with my three kids -- baby with a cold, daughter with stomach virus and son with insomnia -- to find the info for you: Kids with sleep-deprived, angry, resentful parents end up anxious and depressed and aggressive and all around-fucked-up. Letting my baby cry it out for a few nights when she was five months old has made me a better mother, not just to her but to all three kids. Period. And not only that, but despite the fact that it may have damaged her beyond repair according to this new study, an OLD study told me that a good night's sleep is critical for baby's brain development. Critical. Dealbreaker.

Is it any wonder I'm pissed off? Yes, I'm defensive but more than that,  this kind of shoddy science creates a culture of guilt and fear-mongering for parents that I find intolerable. And counter-productive, too. Because guilt and anxiety have never improved anyone's parenting -- and I don't need an interdisciplinary body of research to tell me that.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Life is full of disappointments and they are all Mommy's fault

Last night, all five of us were supposed to go to a dinner party at Primo's best friend's house. This is the sort of thing other people do all the time because I guess, other people are easy to get along with and effortlessly attract group invitations to things, but its not the sort of thing we do all the time, probably because all of us (baby excluded), while lovable, are big pains in the ass.

So we were going to dinner at Larry's house and Primo was thrilled and Seconda was thrilled, because there's a little sister there for her to play with and David and I were thrilled because we've been stuck in NYC this whole Christmas break, dealing with sick kids and feeling stir crazy and in need of adult company. Then, an hour or two before the party, Larry's mom emailed to see if Primo would like to sleep over after the party. Would he ever! Could things get any better? Primo slept over there last year and he still talks about it in reverential tones, like some legendary night he'll never forget -- how late he stayed up! How early he woke! How many movies they watched! The video games they played! He was breathless with excitement and so were David and I, because the baby's been waking everyone at night with her double ear infection, and when Primo wakes, its not easy to get him back to sleep and we both are just utterly exhausted and in need of a break.

It took about an hour to get the kids ready for the party, what with the packing of Primo's overnight bag, containing EVERYTHING, and the administering of antibiotics to half of the family (Terza's alone takes a half hour since she spits half of it out every time). We purchased a lot of pastries. Primo put on a bow tie and his Phantom of the Opera mask: his version of formal. We went out into the rain and snow and piled into the car, only a half an hour late. And then I checked my phone, and I saw a text message telling me Larry had just thrown up.  Party cancelled. In other words, Primo's words, all hopes of a happy life cancelled.

I told David to pull the car over. We broke the news to the kids.

Primo wailed. Seconda wailed. The baby wailed, not knowing why, but always up for a good sobfest.

"It can't be!" Primo screamed, "I even put on my fancy bow tie! I brought my Calvin and Hobbes collection!"

"I know honey," I said, with what I'd estimate was a 10 on the spectrum of heartfelt sympathy, "I know you're disappointed."

"Disappointed!" he shrieked, "I'm not disappointed! I'm heartbroken! Heart-SHATTERED!!!!!"

I turned to David and gave him the look which said, "Is it too late to sell them to the gypsies? They're still cute and we could make a tidy sum."

Of course, what did I expect from the offspring of two actors- turned-writers?  Its all histrionics all the time. Its operas every day, and often, well into the night. At least it will keep a bunch of therapists in business in about 10-15 years.

"You know its not my fault Larry threw up, right?" I asked Primo, "You know I'm not respnsible for this?"

"Do something!" he beseeched me.

"Since I lack the god-like ability to heal the sick, there is nothing I can do," I informed him.

"You can soften the blow," he retorted, opportunist that he is.

So, as a consolation prize (and Primo was quick to inform me it was pretty shabby consolation, because nothing would ever make up for the loss of faith and happiness he'd suffered from the sleepover cancellation) we went out for Mexican food, watched the original Karate Kid, starring Ralph Macchio, and ate the better part of a box of pastries intended for 12 people.

"The thing you need to realize, Primo-san," I told him while we stuffed our face with eclairs, "Because the fact is, life is full of disappointments."

"Oh Mommy, "he said, "you're SO dramatic."

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Year in Review

I know its not my style, but I'm going to hit the pause button on my complaining and be grateful for a minute.  2012 was a year unlike any other in my life, a year so packed with huge, life-changing events for my family and I, all of them positive, that I'd be a real douche-bag if I didn't stop for a moment to give thanks. I realize that its highly unlikely I'll ever have another year so full of big leaps forward and occasionally, even I have to savor the moment, rather than kvetch.

This year, I

Welcomed a new member to our family
Sold an apartment
Bought an apartment


Sold my first book

Yep, its true. In all the hubbub, I've neglected to spread the news that my memoir, Now I See You, was bought by St. Martin's Press and will be in a bookstore near you about one year from now!  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll hear all my dirty secrets and some not-so-dirty ones, too. So get psyched (but not too psyched yet, I mean,  pace yourselves, because you've got a bit of a wait still) because I am psyched, and I am grateful and I am crossing my fingers that 2013 will be as good to me, and to you, as last year was.

Happy New Year folks! Here's hoping your resolutions last 'til at least next week. May your days be full of laughter and your nights be full of uninterrupted sleep!