Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Sexy Chucky: or, I had a rage fit at the Halloween store

A few weeks ago, I took the kids to our local pop-up Halloween store. We already had a costume for Terza -- Max from the Wild Things, handmade by my grandmother years ago. Primo had decided to make his own costume, as he is won't to do. Seconda had decided on her costume, too -- Princess Bubblegum, the royal scientist from Adventure Time, which I OKed. We popped into the pop-up store because she'd seen the costume in their window but alas, they were sold out, and we'd need to wait a day or two for them to replenish their supply. I was ready to leave, but the kids, of course, wanted to browse. They wanted to see what was on offer.

Since this isn't my first time at the rodeo, I know what'll be on offer. For the boys, there'll be all manner of monsters and homicidal maniac costumes, lots of blood dripping and exposed brain matter and demonic grins. For the toddlers, there will be animal and princess costumes. And for my seven year-old daughter, there will be a large assortment of shit.

Because she's only seven, her store-bought costume options are not exclusively shit yet. They are mostly shit, with a slim selection of non-indecent choices, like Princess Bubblegum, or the Athena costume we got last year. She rocked that floor-length number, swinging a large silver foam sword (Athena was the goddess of battle strategy, in addition to wisdom, you know). Since she's big for her age, and likes her apparel loose and roomy, she wears size 8 or 10 and when you get to size 8, and definitely size 10, you are staunchly in sexy costume territory. Lest you think I am exaggerating, check out this piece on the Huff Post which compares the "child" version of costumes with "tween" versions.

So, walking in the store, I know what'll line the aisles. There'll be the popular cartoon character costumes, lots of My Little Ponies and a whole bunch of Monster High ladies (don't get me started on these, just refer to this piece I wrote for Babble last year about the dolls). There'll be a few select historical options, like Cleopatra. There will be a handful of animal costumes, though these won't be full-body plush suits, of the ilk available for the two year-old; instead they'll be headbands with animals ears adhered, leotards and adorable, tutu-style mini-skirts chockful of furbelows. I've never seen a mouse wearing a tutu, but that is clearly beside the point.

And then there's the rest. Seconnda pretty much aged out of the regular princess category - Cinderella ate my daughter when she was three and then, at about age six, she spit her out. Princesses are still an option for her at Halloween time, though in her size, we are faced mostly with Sexy Princesses. To make a Sexy Princess outfit, you just take a regular princess gown and hack off three feet of material so that is reaches to the child's mid-thigh. The knee-high boots don't come included of course, but the packaging suggests they'll be the perfect accessory. The packaging also shows you how to rock the sexy princess look - a hand on the hip is good, hip cocked up is even better. Don't forget the alluring smirk, the hallmark of all sexy princesses.

But wait! It's not just princesses! You can be a sexy ANYTHING. Just elevate the hemline and stick the hooker boots on and bam, Minnie Mouse is now . . . Streetwalker Mouse. 

Look, I was prepared for the shockingly over-sexualized girl costumes. But being prepared did not prevent me from being mad. I was irate. I fantasized about grabbing all the floozy kid costumes and flinging them to the floor screaming to no one in particular: "YOU ARE SELLING STRIPPER OUTFITS TO CHILDREN! FOR THE LOVE OF GOD! HAVE YOU NO DECENCY?? REMOVE THIS APPALLING SHIT IMMEDIATELY."

Then Seconda interrupted my fury reverie by gasping: "Oh, Mommy, look! It's a Sexy Chucky Costume! That is SO inappropriate!"

I thought she was joking. It's the sort of thing that I'd thought you could only find on SNL or, maybe, Jon Stewart (did you catch the segment last year with the vagina costume? Hilarious). But, no, in fact, she was right. There was a package clearly featuring a very buxom woman with a I'm-going-to-devour-you-by-which-I-mean-your-dick-of-course look on her face. She was sporting a kind of apparel that I'm not sure there's a word for -- an overall dress so short it barely covered her ass. Knee-high stockings, obviously. And stitlletos. Oh, and the ax. 

It wasn't a kid costume (not yet, at least) but the sheer ridiculousness of a sexy Chucky costume just whipped my fury to a climax. The thing about parenting though is, you can never have the rage fit you want, when you want it. You annoyingly have to pull your shit together . . . until such a time, at least, as you can write a blog post about it.

So I laughed, and said,"Honey, that's inappropriate in so many ways I don't even know where to start." I didn't want to make a huge deal, didn't want her even paying too much attention, cluttering up her beautiful brain with so much fucking noise.

But as we walked out the store - me fuming, my daughter laughing - I thought: "How dare you, costume company? How dare you suggest to my seven year-old daughter that the thing that makes a woman of interest, what makes her worth paying any attention to is a pair of tits and a pair of legs and a hideous leer that, frankly, is going to give me nightmares. Go to hell please -- and take your abhorrent, piece-of-junk costumes with you."

This Halloween, I think I'll dress us as something really scary. I'll dress up as "Enraged Mother Costume Shopping for Her 7 Year-Old." Hell hath no fury like that, I tell you. 

Monday, October 27, 2014

Chekhov's Ace Bandage

Primo fell hard on his wrist while playing ball the other day so I bought him an ace bandage. As soon as I opened the package and found those two sharp metal teeth that secure the bandage in place, I had an uneasy feeling.

There is no way these do not end up embedded in the sole of my foot, is what I thought. The possibility of them sticking into Terza, or Seconda or Primo's foot is also pretty high, and it's also perfectly feasible they'll end up somewhere worse, like our cheeks -- either the ones of our face or ass.

"When you're done with this, make sure you put these teeth somewhere safe," I instructed Primo.

"Sure," he said. By which he meant, "What you said."

When I woke the next morning, I found the ace bandage in a tangle on my desk with absolutely no metal teeth anywhere in sight.

"Primo!" I said, "Where are the metal teeth?"

As if that was a fruitful inquiry.

I had him move the couch and move the desk and look under all the furniture and his search revealed nada. Then I took the cushions off the couch and removed everything from my desk but, alas, the metal teeth were totally MIA.

"It's like Chekhov's gun," I told David. "I know those metal teeth will re-appear. It's only a matter of where and when and what part of my body they'd adhere to."

That's kids, for you. Adding a touch of spice and anxiety into your every day.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tyrannical two year-olds

Two year-olds are tyrannical. You can set limits and collaboratively problem-solve and you can over-ride their protests, lifting them out of the playground kicking and screaming. But that doesn't change the fact that they act, nearly all the time, like overlords.

Last week, I was carrying Terza home on my shoulders while Primo pushed the empty stroller beside me. This is a near-daily occurrence. Terza doesn't like riding in her stroller but she also doesn't like walking. She's big enough that I can't carry her for more than a few blocks, so I frequently end up putting her on my shoulders. Of course, sitting perched up high opens up a whole new world of temptations for her. One of her favorite is grabbing the sunglasses off my face and hitting hem about the head with them. Because I'm the kind of person who likes to learn from my mistakes, whenever possible, I now remove my sunglasses from my face when she's on my shoulders, and I place them handing from the collar of my shirt, where they are, presumably, more safe.

So there we are last week, with Terza craning her neck and leaning over to grab my glasses, and finding them missing. Then she locates them hanging off my collar and is full of questions. Well, only one question, repeated with an impressive amount of persistence.

"Do your sunglasses hurt you, Mommy? Do they hurt? Do they Mommy? Do they? Do they hurt you?"

"Are you asking me if my sunglasses are hurting me?" I ask, because, you know, it makes absolutely no sense.

"Yes. Do they hurt you?"

"No." I answer, glad that it's a simple question with a reassuring response.

"NO, MOMMY!" she wails.

I repeat my reassurance because I think she hasn't heard: "Honey, it's OK. They do not hurt me."

And she wails, "No, Mommy! I want your sunglasses to hurt you!"

There is only one thought a mother could possibly think when hearing such a thing, and that is: "What. The. Fuck?"

"MOMMY!" she wails, as if I've really disappointed her.  Since she's sitting on my shoulders, she is wailing directly into my ear and it is unbearably loud.

I consider doing the whole "Cut that out right now or I'm putting you down" thing where I put her down and she cries for 10 minus on the street while my big kids whine about how they are bored of standing on the street watching Terza scream and then eventually she calms down, so I put her back on my shoulders and within 30 seconds, she resumes whatever infernal behavior got her in trouble to begin with. I calculate that we are only two blocks from home and decide I don't have the time to "address" her shitty behavior. Instead, I will use the shortcut method which involves just telling her whatever the hell she needs to hear to make her stop causing adult onset hearing loss in me.

"OK, ok, fine. My glasses hurt me, ok? They hurt. Are you happy?"

She considers for one blissful quiet moment before crumpling up in hears over my head, throwing my balance off.

"Mommy!! I don't want your eyeglasses to hurt you!"

"Are you saying you WANT them to hurt or you DON'T want them to hurt?"

But at this point, she is just saying WAHHHHH and AHHHHH and MAHHHH.

Meanwhile, Primo, behind the empty stroller, is cracking up.

"She is one crazy baby," he concludes. I have to concur. This much, at least, is very clear.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bionic eyes and one hell of a love story

When I see a video with a headline like:

Bionic Eye Helps Blind Man See

I think two things:

1. Oh my God, amazing! It's a miracle. A miracle of great personal use to me.

2. Of course, it's probably bullshit.

Being an optimist though, my first response usually wins out, and I press Play because while chances are it's some inflated miracle claim that will just give sad sacks like me false hope, there is a remote chance that it's the real thing, and I'm a hopeful sort of girl.

The video is a clip from Fox News about a totally blind grandfather, Harry Lester, in North Carolina who used the Argus II, a prosthetic retina, and has had some sight restored. I won't attempt to explain how the Argus works -- you can read this if you want to know -- but, right now, it's results are pretty crude. Its users perceive flashes of light, not colors and dimension and shapes and clarity. But here's the amazing thing that makes this bionic eye the real deal -- it doesn't matter how crude the approximation of sight restored. As you'll see from this interview, the fact that Harry Lester won back any light at all is a huge, unimaginable victory for him. The gratitude that pours out of him and his wife, Jerry, is something you just can't be cynical about (trust me, I tried).

The thing that had me crying here, though, wasn't that Harry gets to perceive flashes of light when his grandkids cross the room, where there used to be just darkness. What got me was how much he and his wife love each other. I was sitting on the couch next to David, watching on my laptop with him and I said in my weepy voice: "He got the bionic eye because he wanted to see her blue eyes again."

And David said: "Of course he did. Otherwise, he probably wouldn't have done it. You have to have a reason. You have to have something worth seeing."

It made me terrifically grateful in my own right to think that David would get a bionic eye to see me, even past-my-prime, had-three-kids-and-don't-wear-makeup-and-forget-about-goig-to-the gym saggy, haggard me. And I'd do the same to see him.

Check out this video, shed a tear or two and have your faith in humanity and the power of love re-affirmed. Well worth the minute or two.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

If you want something done (at all), do it yourself

I am good at a whole bunch of things. I tell kick-ass customized bedtime stories. I am excellent at packing suitcases. I am talented at filling awkward silences (awkwardly). But I am no good at baseball.

There are a few reasons for this. Perhaps the biggest reason is: I'm legally blind. I don't know about you, but I feel like that suffices. I have little to no peripheral vision so the ball, when in motion, has a tendency to, you know, disappear.

Since I'm not a big fan of baseball, the fact that I highly suck at it doesn't perturb me. And since my kids have never showed the slightest interest in baseball (in fact, they've shown the opposite, as in "Ugh! Baseball? No! Why would I want to play with a ball when I can invent comic book characters and watch TV and concoct Dynasty-type dramas with my Barbie dolls???") I haven't given my ineptitude for baseball a second thought.

Then we went to my parents' place in New Jersey and they have a garage and in the garage is a box full of sports stuff, including several baseball mitts, a baseball and a toddler-sized bat.

"Does anyone want to hit this baseball with a bat?" I asked.

I'm not sure whether it was the fact that we were in Jersey and thus, suburb mode, or because I positioned it just the right way, but they all said, "Yes, sure, why not?"

And then I taught my kids how to play baseball. Sort of. Where did I get my expertise?

Well, about twenty five years ago, I watched Field of Dreams once

The first obstacle was giving counsel about how to hold the bat and swing the bat and other bat-related details that I know less than nothing about. Then there was the problem of pitching the balls decently enough that they had half a chance to hit them. But they sort of got it - it's not rocket science, after all -- and they actually were not-bad at it, which DELIGHTED them. Then I suggested we play a "real" game of baseball (the great thing about kids is they don't know how little you know about stuff because they know even less about it) and I set up "bases" (that's what they're called, right?) and I explained the concept of running to bases.

And then my three kids and I played baseball. I was the pitcher, and the baby was the outfielder and that was our team. Seconda and Primo were batters. We didn't switch off since having the kids pitch and the baby bat would have been pure madness. I just tossed balls at them and the baby fetched the balls and they scored five hundred home runs.

"We're winning! We're winning!" Primo yelled, when the score was about 26-0.

"Yes," I said, "But please consider that you're playing against a blind woman and a BABY."

All in all it was a wickedly fun time and it's inspired me to force David to throw the ball around with the kids sometimes. He may know even less about baseball than I do, but he's at least not legally blind, and he's probably a touch better than a baby.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The secret to staying married

David and I were in the kitchen cooking last night while the kids ran around screaming and whining and being colossal pains in the butt.

Me: "These kids will be the death of me."

David, hopefully: "Any idea when?"

Me, silent, glaring.

David:  "I mean, do you have an ETA? Ballpark?"

Quite a comedian, that husband of mine. Wouldn't be surprised if he got his own HBO special one of these days.

Sometimes, the secret to staying married is just not getting divorced. Feel free to embroider that on a throw pillow.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Picture-Perfect Parenting

One of the things that I absolutely can't stand is the fake-booking effect, especially as it relates to parenting. That's because I'm the kind of weak-minded person who is extremely susceptible to it. I"m the person who looks at a friend's photo of the family making meatballs together and instantly spirals into self-flagellation. WHY don't I cook more with the kids? WHY don't I cook at all? WHY, on the rare occasions when I do cook with them, does it end in tears and shouting on all sides? (And now we're right back at square one, since this is precisely why I don't cook with the kids).

I look at carefully-curated snapshots of smiling children and parents and I think, "Look at how EASY it is for them? That it's not for me must mean something is wrong with me or my children or -- more likely --  both.

This is why I totally cracked up while reading this hilarious photo and caption series on  It's Like They Know Us. My favorite is this one of the three kids at the supermarket because, of course, that's one of my most chronically hellacious experiences as a mother. Here's the caption from the site:
"I love going to the store with multiple children! My toddler always goes right into the cart and never desperately clings to anything within reach like a cat being put into a bathtub only to then chuck all of my groceries across the store like a demented Donkey Kong while my two oldest get into a fist fight because one of them got to put an extra thing on the check-out conveyor belt. Wheeee!"