Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Oscar movies, cast with kids

OK, I died laughing at this. Treat yourself right on a Tuesday and watch these Oscar movies cast with kids.

I have several observations to make:

A. I haven't seen Argo or Lincoln yet but I feel like when I do now, its bound to be disappointing. I kind of want to watch the entire features acted out by these children.

B. Where did they find these acting prodigies? The kid who does Christoph Waltz' german accent? Give that kid a freaking Oscar. The one who can pronounce "indomitability" impeccably? I can't even pronounce that word without screwing my courage to the sticking place.

I'm hard pressed to pick a favorite, but if I had to choose, I'd go with Zero Dark Thirty, just 'cause I love it when the kid says, "Did you find out with torture?" and the other one replies, "No, Why would you fink that?" That, and the wigs.

Monday, February 25, 2013

When you were little

Its easy to think your 8 year-old is a little adult; they know so much. Primo can navigate our cable channels much more adeptly than I. He can do harder math. He knows more about Newtonian physics. His ideas for YA fiction are far superior.

Then out of the blue, he'll ask something like: "Mommy when you were a little girl, were there color photos?"

And I'll remember, he's only 8 years old, for crying out loud.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

I Let My 6 Year-Old Get Pierced, So Sue Me

For Seconda's sixth birthday I took her to get her ears pierced. She was the belle of the ball this morning at school, all the girls swarming around to see. I didn't feel quite so much positive attention from the other moms.

"Oh, we told Loralei she had to wait til she was in middle school," one of the moms told me, "Or at least til she was 11."

"I just got my older daughter's ears pierced and she's 10," said another.

"Yeah we're making her wait," chimes in a third.

They weren't being mean or anything, just kind of vaguely judgey, the way Park Slope moms can get when you do something a little differently than the do. Of course, I'm a bit defensive about it too, was bracing myself for judgement. I knew that Sec would be one of the first girls in her grade to get her ears pierced; I knew most parents in this neighborhood make kids wait. In fact, I even know why, or at least some of the reasons why. A few years back, I wrote an article for TONY Kids about girls getting blinged up and spoke to parents about what they felt was appropriate at what age. A friend of mine with two older girls explained that she was making her girls wait til they were 9 to get their ears pierced, just so they'd have the experience of wanting something and waiting, being patient in anticipation. I get that. I admire it. I think its a good idea. I just don't feel compelled by it personally and I also don't think its the only way to do things. I also don't think it will prevent those kids from losing their virginity in the back of a car and snorting coke, which I feel is the implicit suggestion.

On some level, we make decisions like this according to our own experiences, and I had my ears pierced whenI was just about Seconda'a age, though I think I was younger, since I don't remember doing it. Its a cultural thing, too. Plenty of groups of people get their babies ear pierced in infancy, including lots of the Italian-American kids I grew up with in Bensonhurst. In fact, when Sec was about 6 months old, I came thiiiiiiis close to getting her ears pierced then -- made the appointment and everything -- for no other reason that I thought it'd look super cute to stick rhinestones in those baby lobes. Then David, Anglo that he is, talked me down and I agreed that we should wait til it was her choice. It was her body after all, and I didn't like the idea of changing it without her permission, just for ornamental purposes.

Last year, when she turned five, Sec started asking about wearing earrings. She's always loved bejeweling herself and had taken to wearing clip-ons, gifts from my aunt, or adhesive rhinestones in the place of real earrings. She got really fascinated with my earrings, and helping me pick them out. So David and I revisited the piercing question. Maybe it was the right time, we thought. After all, she was about to become a big sister and having a really hard time with the transition, and we thought it might soften the blow of the baby. But she was really nervous about getting pierced and it just felt too soon, like she didn't fully understand the commitment and what was entailed. I was scared she'd be scared and it would ruin the experience. So we decided to wait.

Then, about a month ago, Sec started asking about earrings again. And  this time, David and I agreed it just felt exactly right. She wasn't pushing hard for it or anything, not pestering us the way she does about getting a pet, just wondering when she'd be allowed to do it. David and I discussed it and decided that as long as she could agree to taking on the responsibility, it would be OK. So I sat her down and I explained that over the last year, she had really demonstrated to us that she was becoming mature, a big girl, especially the way she helped with the baby -- how gentle she was, how kind and careful. I told her I didn't know how I'd take care of the baby without her help, which is true enough. Then we went on the computer and researched ear piercing, discussed the details of how you clean them and how long you have to keep them in and all the particulars and I told her to think about and decide if she was prepared to take on that commitment.

"Yes!" she piped up immediately, "I am!"

"Well, we have a few weeks before you're birthday so let's just think about it some more and make sure," I told her.

And we did. She was sure. And so were David and I.

I did however, have this gnawing feeling that other parents wouldn't approve, would think it was too soon, and it kind of made me feel like I was buying my six year old hooker boots and a bra or something, rather than just getting her ears pierced.

"Do you think this will encourage her to be promiscuous and use drugs in high school?" I asked David, "The fact that we didn't make her wait longer?"

"I don't even understand what you're talking about," he replied. He doesn't give a shit what other parents think.

"I just don't want her to get a tramp stamp at 15 because we let her do this now," I protested.

"If only it were that easy to prevent bad shit from happening," he said.

So on her birthday afternoon, I took her to the local jewelry joint where the ear piercing professional told me he's just pierced his 6 year-old niece's ears. It was just me and her and she was so thrilled and excited, with only the slights hint of nerves.

"Hold my hand when he does it ok?" she asked.

"Of course," I told her.

I was a little shocked by her apparent lack of fear, and sort of assumed it was because she didn't know that it would hurt. I half expected that he'd pierce the first ear and then she'd be so terrified, she'd refuse to do the second and would walk around for a few years with one earring in, like a man  having a mid life crisis. That had happened to my cousin when she got her ears pierced (and she, for the record, was older). But when he used the piercing gun on the first ear, she hardly blinked, just opened her eyes wide in a look of wonderment and surprise. Then she asked for a mirror to see what the ear looked hike  and she said, "That hurt a little. But not too bad. Can we do the other one now?"

Not a tear was shed. Not even a brow was furrowed.

I was so proud. And certain, too, that it was the right time for her. Not for everyone, of course, but for her.

So sorry fellow Kindergarten moms, if I've opened up a can of worms and you have to now hear your little ones whining about how unfair it is that Seconda got her ears pierced and she's the same age as me and why can I get mine and you're the worst mom ever! May I suggest telling them what I tell my kids when they start that shit about getting a DS or a dog or staying up to watch the fireworks or whatever the hell it is: "Its hard to have such an awful mother, I know. But it will give you plenty to talk about in therapy one day."

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Birthday Girl

That's my daughter, who is as of yesterday, six years old. 


There's something different watching a daughter grow up, as opposed to a son. I mean, much of it is the same - the same wonder and gratitude and bittersweet feeling of sadness that time is moving too quick. But with a daughter, you can't help but think about yourself too, when you were a girl, you can't help seeing the ways she's like you and the ways she's different. You're remembering how you felt at all those milestones. 

This last year, from five to six, has been a really big one for Seconda, and I feel like she's taken a massive leap forward in time, gone from five to ten. I'm sure its tied to becoming a big sister, and scrambling to discover what her place is in our new family structure, one where she is no longer the only daughter, one where she's no longer the baby. She's done it too, found her place, elegantly taken on the mantle of big sister, taking pride in being genuinely helpful and caring, learning to express the great, profound, incredible wealth of feeling that she's always had, so that we're not just left with mouths agape wondering what's she's thinking. She's learned a bit of impulse control. She hasn't emptied my perfume into the radiator or eaten my lipstick in a long, long tim. 

Its been a big year, with a lot of growing pains in the beginning, and I'm so proud to find my daughter at the end of five, and beginning of six, so grown-up. No longer a baby, but, of course, still my baby. Always.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Valentine's Day I Never Thought I'd Want

This Valentine's Day, there will be no candlelit dinner, no tiny wrapped boxes extended in the palm of a hand, probably no bouquet of roses. Hell, there won't even be the traditional heart-shaped box of chocolates I usually get (and love) from the Rite-Aid on the corner.  I mean, David may bring them, but there's be no slim possibility of me ingesting them since I've been in the throes of a nasty stomach virus for the past three days.

Which is totally fine by me. I like the candlelit dinners and presents and nights in a hotel - in fact, I love them. But what I got for Valentine's Day this year was so much better than a soak in a fancy jacuzzi and a pair of earrings. I got trash cans to collect vomit rushed over to me whenever necessary. I got Tylenol slipped into my hand and glasses of water to swallow it, full of ice just the way I like it. I got someone to take care of the kids, all three of those wild, raving lunatics - to feed them dinner and put them to bed, and stay up with them when they wouldn't go to sleep, and wake up with them when they had nightmares and take the baby into the bathroom to steam-treat her cold when she couldn't fall back asleep at 2am. I got someone to take the kids to school in the morning and tell my Mommy friends I was sick and I could use a phone call. And then last night, I had it all over again, and better yet, a warm body to curl up with when I was achy. Despite the fact that I'm about as alluring as Typhoid Mary, the man did not pull away.

That is fucking love.

Put that on a Hallmark card.

"Because while I was puking my guts out over the toilet, naked, and I called for a trash can, you brought me one, and when you asked, "What do you need a trash can for?" and I said "PLEASE! JUST LEAVE ME ALONE!" you did, without any further investigation. Because of this and more, you are my Valentine."

It may not be what you dream of when you're young, but when you're young you're also mostly an idiot and don't know anything but what you see in movies. Its what I dream of now.

Happy Valentine's Day. May yours be vomit-free but still full of tender devotion.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baby food jars are SO five years ago

The last time I had a baby was five years ago. Doesn't seem that long ago. But, guess what?  Shit has changed since then. Nothing big. Breast is still best and its back to sleep and still those DTP shots every two months. But little things have changed. Like baby food.

"Where do you get your baby food?" I asked my friend Miriam.

"Diapers.com," she said, "Its really cheap."

See that, right there. Eight years ago, when Primo was born, there was no diapers.com. There was internet, I think, but seriously, we'd only recently graduated from a dial-up modem.

"How much does a jar of baby food cost?" I ask her.

"A jar?" she snorted, "A JAR?"

"Yes," I said, "A jar."

"I don't buy JARS of baby food!" she chortled, "What is this? 1953?"

"Well what DO you buy?"

"Pouches," she said breezily, "Everyone uses pouches."

In five years, not only a new baby food delivery modality been invented, accessories for that baby food delivery system have been created. There's not just pouches not but little spoons which screw right on to the pouches so that you don't have to suffer the indignity of using two hands  to squirt the food into a spoon.

"This is ridiculous," I snickered to David when I googled 'baby food pouch spoons,' "They cost like $8 a spoon!"

And then I bought one. Because, you know what? Its a really fucking outstanding idea. YOU DON't NEED TO USE TWO HANDS TO FEED THE BABY.

It has enabled me to feed Terza breakfast which, up until I discovered the pouch and pouch spoon, was a meal she didn't even know existed. We're always so busy getting the kids ready for school there's no time for baby breakfast unless I give it to her right after drop off, near the school.

So, baby food pouch and insanely overpriced screw-on spoon? Genius.

Obviously, I need to join a mom's group. Who knows what else I'm missing out on?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Bunnicula, the Musical!

Everyone knows that vampire bunnies and showtunes go together like PB and J. OK, so nobody knows that. Still, it's true - they make a delightful combination. How do I know? Because, on Saturday the kids and I had the pleasure of taking in Bunnicula, a new musical for kids at the DR2 theater.

The book series Bunnicula has been around since we were kids, though I didn't discover it until a few years ago while scouring the library for non- terrifying vampire kids books for my Dracula- obsessed 4 year- old. Now Primo is reading the series to himself at school-- kid still loves vampire and now, so does his little sister. They both happen to love musicals too, as evidenced by the fact that they know every note of The Phantom of the Opera by heart. So I knew Bunnicula would appeal to them.

But even if your child didn't have a particular affinity for vampires or bunnies or musicals, the show would appeal, as it centers around a talking dog and cat; I have yet to meet a child who does not enjoy wry humor delivered by anthropomorphized domestic animals.

The story begins when the Monroe family finds an adorable bunny rabbit at the movie theater where they went to see Dracula one night. Naturally, they bring him home to join the collection of pets they have already-- a fastidious, over-educated cat named Chester and a sweet, simple-minded dog named Harold, who are unlikely best friends. When the Monroes find their vegetables drained of juice-- albino!-- and bearing fang marks, Chester, sleuth cat, deduces that Bunnicula must be a vampire and resolves to get rid of him, by any means necessary. Harold goes along with Chester's plan for a while until it appears Chester might actually prevail, at which point Harold has to make a choice and decide whose side he's on. Madcap antics, of course, ensue, and by the play's conclusion, everyone -- humans included -- have learned a lesson.

Its a simple story and the characters are pretty straightforward archetypes -- tutu-wearing sister and the brother with endless chemistry experiments -- but it's engaging from start to finish (a tight 65 minutes with no intermission), always moving forward at a lively clip with nary a lag. It helps that the third act takes us out of the Monroe's house into the streets of Centerville, where we meet two alley cats (Seconda's favorite characters),  pass through a pet hospital cum animal correctional facility, complete with a jail warden veterinarian, and get to see Harold, the potbellied dog, dress in drag, pretending to be the Countess of Bologna (in my favorite moment of the play, Chester observes, "You look like a demented Caesar Salad."

What I liked:
-- the musical diversity of the songs -- especially enjoyed the tango "White Tomato"
-- the fact that there were plenty of jokes thrown in to make the adults smile (as when Chester observes, "I like that bowl! It's Jonathan Adler.")
-- the performances, which were strong across the board

What Primo liked:
-- the clever lyrics
-- the downstage light effect that shone under the character's chins and made them look like they were telling ghost stories

What Seconda liked (alot):
-- When Chester simulates vomiting
-- When Chester chokes on a ball of yarn
-- When Chester scratches the evil vet

Primo and Seconda and I give the play two thumbs up. In fact, as soon as curtain call was over, Seconda turned to me and said "I wnat to see it ten more times!"

Its playing now through April 14th at the DR2 Theater, right smack dab in the middle of Union Square, and is perfect for kids aged 5-12. Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

How I was born

Usually, I feel like I'm failing as a parent. I'm never as patient as I want to be. I'm talk before thinking too much. I don't listen enough. I never have enough time to spend quality time and drill times tables and play Barbies and teach how to tie shoes and cook with the kids and all that stuff.

Sometimes, though, I feel like maybe I'm doing something right. And when I stumble upon those moments, I try to savor them because I know another one won't pop up for a few more weeks.

Yesterday, Seconda was sitting at the kitchen counter eating a bowl os strawberries (check mark there for healthful snack) and watching My Little Pony on the iPad (X mark there for too much screen time). I was loading the dishwasher. The baby was sleeping and Primo was on a winter hike with his father.

"You get what you get and you don't get upset," Seconda said loudly. Emphatically. Then she looked up and asked me, "Do you want to know why i said that, Mommy?"

"Yes," I said. Usually she doesn't offer explanations and if I ask, she gets uber-annoyed.

"I said that because I really, really, really wish I had wings." She sighed, "But I know that this is the way God made me and the way you are born is how you stay. Until I go to heaven, and then, I will be a pegasus!"

I just stood there at the dishwasher, pretty much in awe of the child I'd created but can only take a tiny amount of credit for.

"That is a wonderful thing to tell yourself," I said, "And I think I'm going to tell myself the same thig the next time I feel disappointed or frustrated with the way I am or the way I look. Becaause I feel that way too, sometimes. Everyone does."

I was proud of her. And proud of myself, too, for doing at least something right the past six years.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Its the Baby, Stupid

I am susceptible to forgetting that I have a baby. That's not correct. I remember that I have a baby, but I forget that babies require a lot of work. I find myself at 10pm, blitzkrieged on the couch and I wonder, "Why the hell am I so exhausted?"

Or I'll see a mom at drop-off looking all made-up and nicely-apoointed and I;ll ask, "WHy the hell don't I wear lipstick?"

Or, as is most often the case, I'll go pick up the kids at the end of school or after school or whatver and I'll think,"Why the hell didn't I get more done today?"

And then the baby will cry and I'll look down in the stroller and remember, "Oh yeah, the baby."

She's such a good baby, so accommodating and pleasant, that I sometime sforget how time consuming it is to nurse her and feed her solids and change her diaper and put her down for naps and chase her around the living room and carry her on my hip.

So yeah, the conclusion of today's blog post is: a baby is time-consuming.

I know, revolutionary.