Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Being married is . . .

Last night, after they’d been bathed and dressed in PJs, my two kids snuggled close for book-time. They were in the thrall of a veritable lovefest. This time of night, I’ve noticed, predisposes the kids to one of two moods -- unredeemable, snarling hatefulness or expansive, exquisite elation. You can guess which I prefer.

“Oh, my little petuti!” exclaimed Primo, kissing the top of his sister’s head. He made up this mysterious nickname for her a few weeks ago and both of them are tremendously pleased with it.

“Petuti, who is your favorite person?” he asked in cooing tones.

“Humpty Dumpty,” she replied without having to think about it.

Primo smiled, forgiving her ignorance. He rephrased the question.

“Who do you love the most?”

“PRIM-O!” she shouted, “You best my friend.”

Primo wrapped his arms around her.

“When I grow up, do you want to marry me?”

“Yes,” she replied, solemnly.

“When I grow up, I will marry you,” he decided. And then it occurred to him that she, being only two years old, might not know the meaning of matrimony, so he added: “Being married is when you spend all your time with somebody.”

At first I was a little disappointed that this was the takeaway my son has gleaned from the example set by David and I. No mention of love or sacrifice or loyalty or happiness. Just a commitment of hours – many, many hours. As if we were two roommates in a rent-controlled apartment on some cherry block in the West Village who can’t afford to move out. Or co-workers with adjoining cubicles.

But then I realized there were many worse conclusions Primo might have drawn from his four years with David and I. It could have been, “Being married is when you spend all your time yelling at somebody because they never wash the dishes or sort the recycling correctly or do their share or cherish you enough or show enough affection or make you feel beautiful.” It could have been, “Being married is when you willingly sentence yourself to life without parole in an emotional prison.”

After a moment of contemplation, I concluded it wasn’t a half-bad description if you take “time” to mean eternity, til death do us part and beyond. Neither was it a half-bad reflection on our marriage. Its not the stuff Shakespeare and Danielle Steele is made of, but who cares? I’ll take reality, with all its pockmarks, any day. The fact that my son loves his sister more than anyone else in the wide world and expresses that love by telling her he wants to marry her makes me think that David and I, the unit, aren’t the colossal mess I sometimes worry we are. And when I tell this story to David later on, he agrees. And that, my friends, is romance, married-with-children-style.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Off to see the wizard

I have been off to see the wizard, the wonderful wizard of oz. At Madison Square Garden. Wow.

When we got there, Primo was surprised to find that it was neither square nor a garden, and all of a sudden I had a glimpse of what he’d been expecting this whole time. When your kid uses words like “magnificent” and talks about the afterlife, you can sometime forget that he’s only four, and still just a babe in the woods.

Our family doesn’t take in a lot of Broadway shows. If my mother hadn’t have paid for this one, I would have had to sell an organ to cover the tickets. But I would have gotten those tickets somehow because my son has got to be the biggest Wizard of Oz fanatic of all time. The mania started when he was 2 and my cousin gave him some old WOZ figures she found in a box in her closet. A few months later, David’s parents in Tennessee clued him in to the fact that there was a feature film which told the story of these beloved figures, with singing and dancing and Technicolor! He didn’t get up off the couch for the entire duration of the movie, which, at two years-old, was somewhat preter-natural.

I don’t know exactly what it was about the struggle of Dorothy and her misfit friends that had my young son so entranced but after he saw the movie it was all Oz, all the time, for about a year and a half. We watched every bonus feature on the deluxe anniversary DVD that his grandparents gave him for Christmas – the silent film versions of Baum’s story, cartoon versions, tales from the making of the movie, extra footage, bios of the leading actors -- you name it.

Primo’s favorite character, hands down, was the Wicked Witch of the West. When he’d get into altercations on the playground, he would threaten to throw balls of fire at his fellow toddlers. Parents were understandably aghast.

“He’s not really going to DO it,” I’d explain, “He just really loves the Wizard of Oz.”

He wore this little witch hat everywhere, to the supermarket, the park, birthday parties, and in it he was fond of cackling, “I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too!” at the slightest provocation. And the show tune he preferred to all others from that killer soundtrack was the witch’s song.

The witch doesn’t have a song, you will say. That’s what we said, too.

She does have a theme song, though, the one they play whenever she flies by on her broomstick, and this is what he was referring to. Da dun da dun da dun DUN. Da dun da dun da dun DUN. DUN DUN DUN. You know the one I mean.

After countless viewings, here’s what David and I have decided about this timeless tale.

Glenda’s a grade-A bitch. Good witch, my foot. Sure she comes down in a flawless pink bubble and she speaks with that super-refined accent but underneath all that, she’s nothing short of sadistic.

She’s the one that puts the slippers on Dorothy to begin with, then when the witch promises to murder Dorothy is cold blood, she’s all, “I’m afraid you’ve made a rather bad enemy of the witch.”

“No, Glenda,” I’d have said, “YOU’VE made me a rather bad enemy of the witch, thanks. Now would you bugger off and stay the hell away from me? I need you like I need a hole in the head.”

Early on, Glenda makes a show of being terribly beneficent and powerful by bringing on the snow when Dorothy’s asleep in the poppy field, but honestly, how much did that put her out? I bet it snows all the time in Oz. And when Dorothy’s locked in the witch’s dungeon, with the red sand of the hourglass slipping away, begging for anyone at all to help, where is Glenda then?

If it wasn’t for the hapless lion, scarecrow and tin-man, who despite lacking organs which are critical for life, manage to rescue her, Dot would be belly-up in the witch’s moat.

And here’s the kicker. Dorothy suffers like a dog for two plus hours, at the end of which she finds herself still in Oz, without a hope in the world of ever making it back to that prairie home. Guess who breezes in on her bubble with some good news?

“You’ve had the power to go home all along,” Glenda kindly informs her.

Dorothy’s a sweet kid so she doesn’t say what she certainly must be thinking:

“Really? Then why the FUCK didn’t you tell me that to begin with, beyatch? Is this some kind of sick game to you? Victim of a natural disaster ends up displaced and you sic a bloodthirsty witch on her ass, send her to a charlatan wizard and then tell her all she had to do the WHOLE TIME was click her heels? Screw you and the bubble you rode in on.”

Of course, Glenda gives Dorothy some buuuuuullshit about how she had to discover it for herself, it was all about the journey of self-discovery blah blah blah. I think any sane individual would have at least given the heel-clicking a go, just for shits and giggles, why not, before undertaking an epic odyssey with only a yellow brick road for guidance.

So that’s why David and I hate Glenda. The witch, well, she was a woman in mourning for God’s sake, and the only possession her sister bequeathed to her was basically grave-robbed. I don’t blame her one bit.

The show was great by the way. Flying monkeys, falling snow, melting witches – the whole nine yards. I highly recommend it if you’ve got a kidney you can sell.

Saturday, March 28, 2009


This morning, my children scrutinized a line of ants marching into garbage for 45 minutes. We went to get ices at Uncle Louie G’s and after devouring his cup of rainbow in about ten seconds, Primo became mesmerized with the ants. As is her custom, Seconda joined him and soon both of them had their noses poised half an inch from the filthy street strewn with wet garbage. I made feeble attempts to curb the grossness but they were having so much innocent, good fun.

“They so TINY!” Seconda shrieked, “Nice to meet you ants, you TINY ANTS! I LOVE YOU AAAAAAAANTS!”

This is usually how her monologues develop. She starts out pretty mellow and then becomes more and more thrilled with her own ability to communicate thought in speech, so she starts yelling and making grand proclamations with intense feeling. For instance, last night she whipped herself into a frenzy about this board book she’s very into now. The theme of the book is opposites and at one point, it shows a girl laughing on one page, for “Happy,” and a boy crying on the opposite page, for “Sad”

“The boy sad, he kai-ing,” she observed, “The mommy laughing.”

She regarded it for a moment in silence, and then, “Oh noooooo! The boy kai-ing! I no like the boy kai-ing!

Stop KAI-ING boy! You NAUGHTY! Go AWAY go AWAY go AWAY!”

“If you don’t like it, just give me the book and I’ll put it away.” I offered reasonably.

But she did like the book, of course. She loved to hate it.

“Oh nooooo, I no like this mommy laughing. You stop LAUGHING, YOU MOMMY!”

Primo had been listening to the whole thing and tried to set her straight.

“That’s not a mommy. It’s just a girl who’s happy,” he explained, “Mommies don’t laugh when their kids cry. If they did that, they would be a bad mommy,”

I briefly entertained the thought of explaining schadenfreude to them, before being restored to my senses.

“Yes, honey, mommies don’t laugh when their babies cry,” I agreed.

Sec took these wise words in, her little amazing brain computing all the information, and then she yelled at the book, “BAD MOMMY! GO AWAY!”

She threw the book in the corner and gave the bad mommy a time-out. Then she tossed her head back and laughed, a delicious kind of laugh which made it clear how much she enjoys herself. I don’t blame her. I enjoy

her, too.

Until she walked right over and blew her nose in my shirt. Then, not so much.

Friday, March 27, 2009


My husband says that all I do is complain, so just to prove him wrong, I think I’ll start this post by saying that I’m having a wonderful day. The first thing this day has to recommend itself is that it is Friday, and although it is certainly not the end of my work week, it is the end of David’s, and that means he will be home for the next two days and the children will spend some of their time and energy torturing him, making life better for me.

Secondly, it is resplendent outside. So I won’t be forced to search for mittens for a half hour, fight the baby to put them on for another five minutes, and then pick them up off the pavement repeatedly. Fantastic


Oh, and thanks to Dine In Brooklyn, I was able to enjoy a scrumptious 3-course meal with two mommy friends, at Rosewater last night for just $23. A large portion of the mealtime conversation was devoted to our baby bellies. The ones we are left with after the pregnancy, not during. My friend opened up the can of worms by saying that when she was getting changed for a yoga class, she happened to catch a glimpse of her body in the full-length mirror and was not pleased by what she saw.

Now, I didn’t want to get into a fatso competition but, I pointed out to her, there is no WAY her baby belly could be worse than mine, if only because she noticed it in a yoga studio., She’s making an effort to better herself and you generally get rewarded for that shit. I, however, will never be rewarded because I hate exercise and never do it. Let me amend that statement. I happen to think I do a lot of exercise. I climb up three flights of stairs to my apartment carrying my two year-old and dragging my four year-old multiple times a day, and when I get to the top, my heart is pounding so hard I feel like I’m about to enter cardiac arrest. I am on my feet nearly all day, running, hoisting, squatting, lunging, and doing other manner of things that people do in step-aerobics class. So I’m entitled to some reward, too, aren’t I? I mean, it’s not like I’m lounging on my chaise eating bon bons.

But nooooooo, this kind of exertion does not count when it comes to tackling the dreaded baby belly. Only serious, formal abdominal work will make a difference, I know. I have tried to make that kind of thing a part of my daily routine. Last week I tried. On Monday. I even had Primo help design me a sticker chart.

“Just think of it as helping the kid learn to count,” said David, “You have no problem committing to the projects that improve them. Have Primo sit on your feet and count to 50 while you do the sit-ups.”

As it turns out, Primo had no problem counting to the number of sit-ups I was able to do. Seconda could probably count to that number. It was disheartening, to say the least.

If I live long enough I will see the day when some very smart scientists invent a way to get rid of my baby belly without me having to experience this kind of indignity. I’m waiting for that day. And while I wait, I am wearing empire-waisted clothing.

So, as you see, my husband is wrong about me. I’m really quite a happy-go-lucky kind of gal.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Awake and Scream

What my son has been doing to me in the mornings can only be described as inhumane. Just after the daylight savings time switcheroo, he began waking at 5:30AM. And by waking, I mean rising and shining, starting his day. There are many problems with this arrangement.

First, since he no longer naps, by early afternoon he is, to use a clinical term, a “hot mess.” He is snarly, impertinent, unforgiving, inflexible and prone to temper tantrums and even then, I’m being generous. Now, a four year-old having a temper tantrum is not the same as a two-year old having one, at least not in my experience. Being double the age has given him double the stamina, and when he starts a freakout, I know I am in for a half hour minimum -- often longer -- of wild, raging hysteria that makes Stanley Kowalski look genteel. When he was a well-rested boy, these used to be infrequent but now that he’s up before the cock crows, well, they’re popping up daily.

But worse than his shitty behavior is the fact that when he wakes at 5:30, I wake at 5:30. I understand that not all families operate like this, because I have friends whose kids will wake up and fend for themselves until their parents rouse at the hour of their choosing. These children turn on the TV, pour a bowl of cereal, get dressed, and, I imagine, tidy up the house a bit, do the dishes, make a pot of coffee and lend a hand with the taxes.

My children wake and scream. Scream follows wake like exhale follows inhale. Since they sleep in the same shoebox-sized room, one’s waking-screaming tends to provoke the other’s waking-screaming. Bloody madness. So at the first hint of a scream, I dash over to Primo and whisper,

“It’s the middle of the night. It is not morning. Go back to sleep.” Then I tuck him in and scratch him back and tiptoe back into my bed.

Five to ten minutes later, just when I think he’s drifted off, another shout, “Mommy!”

I dash in again, significantly less patient and make desperate offers:

“If you go back to sleep, I’ll let you watch the Magic School Bus and give you a cookie and also a big surprise.”

When I start offering “big surprises” that he and I both know I don’t have and don’t intend to get, I’ve lost the battle. So when Primo creeps into my bed five minutes later, I am relieved that at least Seconda’s still sleeping. David’s out of the picture because he goes to the coffee shop just after 5am every morning to do some writing before clocking in at his office job. So there’s room in the bed and I tell Prim he can lie quietly next to me, if he stays still.

Fat chance. After five minutes of getting kicked and elbowed and listening to “The Plants Revolve Around the Sun” sung to the tune of “When Johnny Come Marching Home,” I give up on his sleeping. I send him into the living room, put on the TV and tell him he can do whatever the hell he wants as long as he doesn’t wake me up.

Five minutes later, he runs to my bedside, “Mommy, I need you to draw a vampire turning into a bat.”

No, I say, no no no. Absolutely not. Not on your life. It’ll be a cold day in hell. Which is it, I guess, five minutes later when I find myself sitting at the coffee table, with colored pencils in hand.
The worst part is that he is yelling at me, “That is NOT A GOOD BAT at all!!! Its eyes are WOBBLY! You RUINED it!”

The only reason I have conceded to this torture is that I am desperately, at all costs, trying to avoid at least waking the baby, because when she wakes too early, the misery she exacts on us makes Primo’s sunrise abuse look like a gentle caress. Seriously, it’s awful.

So there I am, 6am, listening to il Duce berate what I feel is a truly impressive rendering of Count Dracula in the process of turning into a bat. He doesn’t want just Count Dracula or just a bat but the actual METAMORPHOSIS which bridges the two.

I defend myself, not altogether too nicely, “Please remember that Mommy is not a PROFESSIONAL ARTIST!” I shout, “I’m just being NICE to do this and you’re being a total ----- (I bite my tongue and suck back the f word that threatens to spring from my ready lips) “---JERK!”

I haven’t made my coffee because I haven’t wanted to accept that this waking will be permanent, but now it is clear, that yes, this is it, this is the official start of my day, if only because the landlord’s going to come upstairs and evict us for all the screaming and yelling and clattering (because when I call him a jerk, Primo throws his colored pencils on the floor in a rage and starts to cry, “JERK IS NOT A NICE WORD!”). I should give him a time out, I should take away his pencils, I should force him to go back to bed, and I do nothing because I am too tired. This is why I say that exhaustion is the biggest impediment to responsible parenting, hands down.

And since I am always exhausted, this does not bode well for my mothering.

What do you do when your children wake before sun-up? Sedatives? Threaten to sell them to the gypsies? Reasonable strategies suggested by SuperNanny?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

SAHM PTSD, or crib-jumping update

I never thought I’d say this but David has bested Seconda in a battle of wills. My money was on the kid, one hundred percent, but it just goes to show you, two year-olds are not invincible. Although I had a hand-me-down crib tent at the ready, we haven’t had to use it yet because the old-fashioned method, of just sticking the kid back in the crib every time she jumps out, is working.

But Sec hasn’t gone down without a fight – the first night she must have climbed out of her crib at least twenty times in a row, screaming “WHAT WE GONNA DO?” at the top of her lungs. Such is the knack young children have for punishing their parents. They latch onto things you said in moments of weakness and use them against you, over and over again, the kind of retribution Dante was fond of enacting in his Inferno.

“What we gonna DOOOOOO?” she cried plaintively, as if at a hopeless crossroads. .

“We’re gonna stay in our cribs is what we’re gonna do!” I shouted from the living room.

The living room is my base of operations during this sort of showdown. An by that I mean: I'm not allowed anywhere near the sleep-training child. I am a caver. I give up the fight quicker than a virgin on prom night. What can I say in my defense? My nerves are shot. You’d think it would be the reverse, that’d I’d build a kind of tolerance to the insanity, that after four years of non-stop whining and wailing and begging and pleading, I’d be a rock, but no, all of it has actually eroded my store of patience and calm. But who am I kidding? I didn’t have much calm to begin with.

Hearing a baby cry has always hit me like a bowling ball to the guts (I’m speculating here, since I’m not a big bowler brawler, but it seems like it would hurt). On the rare occasions when I can slip out to a movie, and they play that pre-movie segment which tells you all the stuff you shouldn’t do during the show, that baby wail that’s included in the sound montage shocks my system to the core. It’s nothing logical. My body just responds, instantly, like a woman that’s been defibrillated. I’m back! On duty! Whatever the problem, I will fix it! Sorry for temporary lapse! I’m back!

I must suffer from SAHM PTSD. Without the “post.”

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Wash My Mouth Out

I just realized that Easter is almost here which meant Lent has pretty much come and gone without me noticing or observing in the slightest. If I had known, I’d have given up cursing. David thinks this Lent business is kind of far-fetched and wants to know what my not using the f-bomb has to do with Jesus.

“Oh don’t be so literal,” I say, evasively, “You don’t understand because you’re not a Catholic and you don’t know the meaning of sacrifice, like I do,”

The truth is, I’m not a hundred percent sure either. And my packed schedule chasing children out of traffic doesn’t offer my much time to reflect. Suffice it to say that it feels right to make myself suffer a little bit, in homage. I used to give up chocolate but let’s face it, those were the days when I was drinking and smoking and dating, one might say, liberally. Now, I need the friggin’ chocolate. I am not, believe it or not, a saint. The chocolate is all I’ve got in the way of pleasure. Let me amend that since David will be reading this: its all I’ve got besides mind-blowingly, wall-bangingly raucous, incomparable sex with my husband. The point is, I need that chocolate and I know that Jesus understands. But he’s probably wondering why I curse like a sailor, in front of my young children.

“Son of a BITCH,” Seconda said this morning, when she spilled her yogurt on her lap.

“What did you say?” I gasped.

“Son of a BITCH,” she enunciated more clearly, like she was the one teaching me how to talk. And then, with flourish, she added, “GodDAMNit!”

It can’t be good, I thought, that my two year-old talks like she’s in a David Mamet play.

This is when I realized I needed to tone the language down. It didn’t help that a week or two before, when Primo’s pencil broke, he exclaimed, “This fucking pencil won’t work!”

The worst part is, he was so earnest, with no sense that he was using a bad word, or crossing a line. He was just trying to find the appropriate word for that particular scenario, the same way he does when he invokes the phrase “my hideous bumps” to describe the eczema flare-up on his legs.And thanks to my modeling, he thinks that word is a four-letter one. .

“Oh honey,” I said somberly, “That’s not a nice word. And its Mommy’s fault because I use it too much, and I shouldn’t because it’s an ugly word and not nice at all, so I’m sorry.”

So, I’m not feeling like such a stellar mama today. I have single-handedly tarnished my children, flawless vessels of purity. Although, to be fair, Seconda doesn’t look so pure when she’s beating down defenseless infants on the playground with her sappy cup. And neither does Primo when we’re on line at the grocery store and he screams,

“You better get me those marshmallows, you SCOUNDREL, or else!” But, still . . .

Are there others like me among you, readers? What horrifying curse words have your kids whipped out in the least appropriate places?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Marry, Screw or Kill Off the Show?

A. Caillou’s Dad
B. Dora’s Papi
C. The Man in the Yellow Hat

My vote for a one-night-stand definitely goes to the Man with the Yellow Hat. He’s tall, mysterious, and funny. Plus, as his wardrobe choices indicate, he’s a risk-taker, which is what you want in the sack. He’d be a contender for marriage too, because he has an interesting if ambiguous job (they sent him to the moon, for Crissakes), and boasts a place in the city AND a country estate. But if you read my previous post vis a vis the petting zoo, you will know that the live-in monkey is a deal-breaker. Plus, when you really stop to think about it, he’s kind of a jerk. If you read the original H.A. and Margaret Rey book, you will see that he’s an unapologetic colonizer who just ripped George out of his happy home and basically enslaved him.

To tell you the truth I wouldn’t marry any of them because their kids would annoy the shit out of me. With Dora in the house, I’d have a migraine around the clock, the way that child yells enthusiastically. And don’t get me started on Caillou – that kid’s a nitwit. He’s such a damn goody-goody -- he minds his parents, he cleans up his room, he plays nicely with his little sister and goes to sleep promptly and without sedatives. So Caillou’s dad is the one I’d sent off to unemployment, the whole family while I’m at it.

And you, blog readers? Take a moment from your busy days to address this most pressing matter. Characters from children’s programming you’d marry, screw or kill off the show?

Petting Zoo

Is it wrong that I scheeve the animals in the petting zoo? Seconda goes nuts when she sees those gnarly-ass sheep with their enormous tongues and huge, defeated eyes -- and all my baby wants to do is nourish them with victuals from the coin-operated machines. This disgusts me but being the selfless mother that I am, I buy her the sheep food and then, oh -- big surprise -- she’s too scared to do it herself.

“You do it, Mommy!” she begs.

I don’t see why watching the sheep slurp my hand is at all gratifying to her, but she has her reasons and so I put on a happy face and let the animal lick on me more than I allow my husband to most days. This act alone should justify my nomination for some Mom of the Year award.

It not that I am a heartless person. I adore animals of all kinds, shapes and sizes – on TV, and in books. What can I say? I was a city kid and it’s just not natural for us. David, on the other hand, was raised in a small town in the Smoky Mountains where you are wont to come across petting-zoo-type animals while taking out the trash. You could supply all of Brooklyn’s nursery schools with classroom pets just from what you find in my mother-in-law’s garden -- rabbits, box turtles, field mice, bullfrogs. Animals not sanctioned for classroom use, too, like wild turkeys and deer, horse, and scores of black bears. David’s mother has a snapshot on her fridge of an 8 foot-tall bear reaching over their porch railing to eat from the bird feeder.

Which is why, when Sec decides that it’s feeding time at the old children’s zoo, I hand her over to her pops. Problem is, he scheeves petting zoo animas as much as I do But because he does not want to confess in front of his children that he, a grown man, is scared of a dwarf goat, he does it, and everyone is happy. Or at least, Seconda and I are.

I’d love to pass the buck to Primo, because after all, this is what big brothers do. But he’s not having any of it because sadly, he’s inherited our distaste for non-human living creatures. He just sits on the bench a safe distance away eating pretzels and asking WHY we have to go the zoo.

“Because it’s FUN,” I explain, pinching my nose as the odor of manure wafts by, ”What’s the matter with you? You’re a kid – you’re supposed to like this stuff.”

I sit next to him and steal a few pretzels: “Where do you want to go, anyway?” I ask.

“Antarctica,” he responds promptly, his mouth full, “Or to the planet of Pluto. Or Transylvania.”

What can I say to that? He’s right, as usual, that precocious, delicious little savant. Who cares if Pluto's not technically a planet anymore? It still kicks the petting zoo’s ass.

How about you? Petting-zoo-animal lover or no? And while we're on the subject, do you think Purell is strong enough to kill the strange strains of farm-animal disease floating around the place? Discuss.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


The inevitable happened last night. Seconda learned how to climb out of the crib. If you’re a parent, this will strike a chord of terror in your heart. Or it should. If it doesn’t, it means that you have one of those super low-key children who, in the unlikely event that that they should ever climb out of a crib, would present no danger to themselves, others or your home, the kind of kid who after climbing out of the crib would probably just look through their Beatrix Potter collection until they felt sleepy, at which poiut they’d climb back in the crib or doze off on the cozy shag rug in their nursery. If you have this kind of child, curse you.

I, however, do not have a Stepford child, not even one. Both my children are what experts nowadays like to call “high spirited” which is to say totally unmanageable. Once they climb out of the crib, there is no turning back. The crib-jumping is more or less a declaration of war against David and I. Especially when it comes to the little one.

She’s fierce and wily. She is drawn to electrical outlets and stovetops like a bee to honey. And that’s to say nothing or her uncontrollable oral fixation. I am left in awe of the things she puts in her mouth, even at two years old. There’s the standard set of verboten items like Play-doh and pennies, little accessories belonging to Playmobil guys, small rubber balls included in 4 year-old party bags, handfuls of dirt, sand, lead pencils, and copious amounts of Colgate with whitener. But she also goes for the freaky shit too. Her favorite teething apparatus used to be tampons. If I left her alone for five minutes, that kid would go through a Costco-sized box of Tampax.

“What are you DOING>” I’d yell, “You know how expensive tampons are!”

Seconda gnaws through food packaging like a rat. She’ll just open the fridge, take out a hunk of Jarlsberg cheese and eat it right through the Saran Wrap. When we’re on line at Fairway and I’m busy loading our stuff onto the counter, she will take the opportunity to eat through the Perugina chocolate bars placed next to the cashier, aluminum foil and all. Lipstick, too, the more expensive the better -- you won’t find her devouring the Revlon Toast of New York, but oh, the Nars Hot Voodoo, how tasty! This is not the kind of child you want roaming around the home when you are sleeping. Which is why I had a minor crisis in faith last night when, after placing Seconda in her crib, I heard not the ear-splitting scream of agony I was accustomed to but rather the awful, unmistakable sound of little feet padding along the floor. I waited in the hallway to witness Sec blithely breezing out of her room, announcing, “No sleeping time. Let’s play games!”

“Oh my god,” I gasped. And then, “What are we gonna DO?”

My daughter thought this was just about the finest phrase she’d ever heard and began repeating it over and over again, “What we gonna DO? What we gonna DO, Mommy?”, while the house of cards that is my sanity collapsed entirely.

I will never forget the first time Primo climbed out of his crib. I was about four months pregnant with Seconda, and he was a year and a half old. He has always been a colossally shitty sleeper, and for that, I blame my parents one hundred percent. I like to blame them whenever possible, and usually it’s easy enough to do. See, David and I had read Weissbluth and understood the virtues of sleep training, so at four months, we got started. But a few days into it, my grandmother came over and when she heard the screaming emanating from the nursery, she went balls-out beserko.

“This is child abuse!” she shouted, “I’m gonna call da police!”

Two minutes later, it was, “I’m an old lady! I can’t take dis! I’m gonna have an attaco del cuore!”

And five minutes after that, “You say you love you baby and den you torture him like dis? You no love you baby!”

My father, a professional cardiologist and armchair psychologist, built a careful argument for how Primo would sustain permanent mental damage from the cry-it-out technique, damage which might result in a sociopath.

You will not be surprised to hear that after a week, just as we were making progress, we started to falter and never committed to it again.

Until I was five months pregnant with Seconda and was literally incapable of bouncing Primo on my shoulder for an hour, and then again throughout the night. We’d hit rock bottom and had no choice but to sleep train, which was a horror show. He would stand at the crib railing and scream “MOMMY NICOLE!!!!!!! DADDY DAVID!!!!!!” for - I am not shitting you – two hours straight while David and I huddled on the couch letting the cries lash us in penitence. Or, at least, I did. David just drank beer. Then, a few days into it, just as Primo was settling down without too much fuss, it happened. I put him down in his crib and a minute later he walked right up to me in the living room. I thought I was hallucinating. Then I understood what had happened and that there would be no stopping him, no training him, no sleeping ever again, no sleep, no sanity, no mercy. And I had the biggest meltdown of my life. Up to that point, I mean. That freak-out can’t hold a candle to what I can throw down now. But back then, it was like a 9 on the freak-out Richter scale. I’d never felt so incompetent, so helpless. I called David at work and cried for five minutes without speaking.

“What are we gonna DO?” I wailed when I recovered the power to talk.

Thankfully, David knew what to do. He went directly to Buy Buy Baby and purchased a crib tent. I banned my grandmother from the house and ignored my father’s continuous reminders that I was imprisoning my child and shirking my responsibility to teach him impulse control. I knew with certainty that If I didn’t lock him up, I’d have to lock myself up.

That crib tent saved my life. If I could manufacture bumper stickers I’d make one that said, “I brake for crib tents.” But it became somewhat inconvenient when we spent nights away from our place. We were so terrified about what would happen without the tent that we took it everywhere, and if you’ve assembled one of these things, you’ll understand how insane that is. It doesn’t simply pop into place like a little play tent or a Maclaren stroller. It’s a major production with several poles that must be fit together, Velcro straps that have to be placed properly around the crib railing and a huge amount of mesh netting – all of which we had to pack into our suitcase. With all this wear and tear, the damn thing ripped so I had to darn it, and believe you me, I was never meant to darn anything

So this time around, David has asked that we forgo the crib tent. He wants to kick this habit the old-fashioned way, by breaking the child’s will. Just putting her back in the crib every time she jumps out until she understands that we, the parents, are more powerful and surrenders.

“But we aren’t more powerful,” I whimpered, “It will never work.”

He asked nicely though, and my husband almost never asks to take the reins on parenting stuff. So I gave him three days.

Start the countdown.