Monday, November 25, 2013

Holiday Card Making

Yeah, it's that time of year already. I have plenty to say on the subject: case in point, my winter essay for the Park Slope Reader. But I don't think anything I have to say is half as funny as this post on Crappy Pictures.


Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Wacko mothers

So, I"m currently reading Jeannette Winterson's memoir,"Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal?"-- an insightful, lyrical read, much like the beautiful novels she writes which I treasured in my early twenties. Yesterday, I was telling Primo about the book, as I sometimes do, and I regaled him with this truly, epically awful thing Jeannette Winterson's adoptive mother used to say to her, constantly, while she was growing up.

"The Devil lead me to the wrong crib!"

This observation had the effect of reminding Jeannette that she was adopted, and also that she had a touch of Satan to her. As abominable parenting goes, it's a pretty spectacular feat of awfulness.

I like to impart these stories to my kids -- when I was reading "The Liar's Club," I told them about how Mary Karr's mother burned all her toys in a huge bonfire -- and I think the reason is obvious. It is to show what a great mother I am, by comparing myself to parents who should be locked up for unforgivable abuses.

The implicit message to my kids is: "Remember when you said I was the worst mother in the world because I took away your dessert when you hit your sister? Perhaps you overstated the situation?"

So, I told Primo about the devil comment and we laughed about how awful it was and then he fell silent thoughtfully for a moment and observed: "Boy, people like to write about their wacko mothers.'

"They sure do," I agreed.
"Maybe I will too, one day." he mused.

I had to laugh. It would be my just desserts, really, after writing my own memoir.

"I'll try to give you more material," I told him. "Wouldn't want to disappoint."

Monday, November 18, 2013

Thriller Night

Thriller came out when I was six, the same age Seconda is now. Next to Whitney Houston, and Madonna, Michael Jackson was my absolute favorite -- he was everyone's, of course -- and my backpack sported no less than four or five Michael Jackson fan pins. So, I loved the song Thriller. 

Luckily for me, though, I never saw the music video. We didn't have MTV and of course there were no computers so it was easy enough for me to miss it. It was a good thing, too, because I was the world's wimpiest scaredy-cat and that video would have caused me to pee my pants. I have managed somehow, in the past 31 years since the song was released, to entirely avoid watching the video, and though I know it's a historic piece of work which changed the face of music videos forever, I can't say I mind. Zombies - even the 1980s variety -- freak me out.

Seconda, however, has not been as fortunate. Taking full advantage of the fact that David and I were away this weekend. Primo -- avowed zombie lover -- decided to show the music video to his sister. My parents were on duty, and thus he could have showed her The Shining and they probably wouldn't have noticed as long as the kids were quiet. Primo had seen the video at school, on Halloween Day in music class. This surprised me a bit but hey, from what I hear, there's some pretty revolutionary zombie dancing featured in the video and nine year-olds today are probably steely enough to handle some 1980s-era fictional undead.

"Don't worry," Primo assured his sister, "It's not scary."

Which is why, at 10pm on my romantic getaway, I got a call from Seconda shrieking, "I CAN"T SLEEP BECAUSE PRIMO SHOWED ME THE DANCING ZOMBIES!!"

"What are you talking about?" 

"First, the guy turns into a werewolf and then there are all these zombie and they have bloody mouths and zombie eyes and they climb up the side of the house and smash through the windows and THEN THEY GO IN THE HOUSE TO GET THE PEOPLE!!!!!'

This didn't ring any bells for me but David recognized it right away.

"Did Primo show you Thriller?" he asked. 

"Yes! Thriller night!"

Then of course we tried to explain how it was all makeup and special effects and you can imagine what good THAT reasoning did. 

When we arrived home from our restful, idyllic weekend away we found Seconda had stopped sleeping completely. SUCH a treat to come home to. 

"Do you think it might have been an error in judgement to show your sister the music video for Thriller?" I asked Primo, "I mean, in hindsight?"

"But Mom --" he protested, "It says at the end that all the characters are fictional, including the undead."

Oh, in THAT case . . . .

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Elderly people who solve crimes

My son likes to sleep over his great grandmother's house and when he does, they enjoy watching TV together. I'm somewhat of a TV fascist and have strict parameters about what he can and can not watch, so he really likes letting loose at Nonny's house. The evening news, I've forbidden, since there's nothing more terrifying, but besides that, I look the other way. After all, it doesn't tend to get more racy that Little House on the Prairie or Casablanca.

The other morning, when I picked him up after his sleepover, he told me about a new show he'd been introduced to, by Nonny, called Matlock. It was pretty good, he said, kind of interesting, though not as good as Murder She Wrote.

After a moment he observed: "Nonny really like to watch TV shows about elderly people solving crimes."

That, right there, is why I keep the kid around even though he never cleans up his room and constantly puts clothes in the hamper that ARE NOT DIRTY.

Imagine trying to pitch that show today: "So, we've got this old lady who's an amateur detective -- gives her something to do after retirement -- and somehow there are all these unsolved homicides occurring in her vicinity, so naturally she takes it upon herself to crack the case!"

"No, it's not funny. What's funny about a woman in the autumn of her life, with no professional training, solving homicide cases?"

I can't see it competing in today's marketplace.

So imagine my surprise when I googled it and found IT IS COMING BACK -- on NBC, with Octavia Spencer. Yep, looks like the series is getting a reboot. Great news for Nonny, and my 8
year old.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Bloody Bubble Gum; or, who knew losing teeth could be such a pain in the ass?

A few days ago, Seconda came running to me with a mouth full of bloody Bubble Yum. Blood-stained bubble gum is not quite as bad as the blood-stained pacifier I encountered a few months ago, but still, it's not ideal.

"What happened?" I asked, trying to mask my nausea and panic. We were at the drugstore where I was holding three different zippy cups that each promised to be "leak-proof" in a different and miraculous way and also cost three times more than I thought was reasonable for a plastic freaking cup. Now I dropped the cups and addressed the bloody bubble gum situation. 

"I bit down too hard on the gum and it just, there was all this blood!" my daughter panted, thoroughly freaked out. 

Several blood-soaked tissue balls later, I was able to discern that her tooth hadn't just spontaneously started to bleed; she had a loose tooth which had been knocked significantly more loose by the impact of her over-zealous chomp. Now the loose tooth -- one of the big front teeth on the top -- was fully dis-adhered in the front, but still rooted in the back. In other words, it was a nauseating dental situation that she could not resist making more and more nauseating over the next few hours. The problem was, the more she fucked with her tooth, she more freaked out she got. 

"I TWISTED IT!!!!" she shrieked as she ran into the kitchen where I was making the only thing I ever make it the kitchen - turkey tacos. 

She had indeed, twisted the tooth so that instead of being parallel to her gums, it was perpendicular. I am very squeamish and do not do well with these kinds of things. 

"Ugggggggghhh," I moaned, feeling light-headed.  

"DO SOMETHING!!!!' Seconda shrieked. 

"Just --" I panted, "twist it back."

"No! I CAN'T! I'm too scared!"

"Well, I, I don't want to hurt you." I stammered. It was true, but not my primary reason for declining to get physically involved. Mostly, I was just seriously, hard-core scheeeved out. I felt a little like I had to put my head between my knees. 

"HELP!! IT'S SO WEIRD AND GROSS!!!" she yelled. 

At that exact moment, my deus ex machine arrived on the scene. I heard David's key turning in the lock. 

"Daddy!" I sighed with relief. 

"Daddy!" Seconda shrieked. 

"Daddy!" the baby parroted. 

David had barely gotten one foot in the door when he was charged with the task of Dealing With The Tooth Freak Show. 

"Well, just let me take off my coat first," he protested. His face had that look which clearly said, "I should have taken the long way home today."


So he reached in her mouth and gave the tooth a twist so that it hung, by a thread of tissue, in its original position. 

We urged Seconda to just pull the disgusting dead chunk of organic material out of her mouth but she was too terrified to even consider it. So we ate dinner, and in the process, naturally, her tooth got twisted again. 


And we repeated the circus act above. 

On the third time this happened, I insisted that David pull the tooth. I was not about to have her stay up til midnight freaking out about the tooth that refused to go gently into it's good night. 

It looked like she was going to need sedation but finally, she pulled herself together, screwed her courage to the sticking place and opened her mouth. After a little bit of ice-rubbing, David got a hold of the tooth and bam, it was done in approximately 1.5 milliseconds. Instantly, she was ebullient. 

I, too, was enormously relieved, in the same way you are relieved when your constipated toddler finally takes a crap or your baby who's been caterwauling in her crib finally succumbs to sleep. You know that children can not stay awake forever, cannot go without a bowel movement forever, cannot keep dead teeth that are literally dangling from their gums adhered to the mouth forever but damn if it doesn't feel exactly that way. 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Signs you're a mom

Last night in my "Happy Hour" (which, as you'll discover in the post, is the 60 minutes between when the kids go to bed and you go to bed) I read Ulli Appelbaum's recent post in the Huff Post, 25 Clear Signs You're A Mom. Alas, they rang true, nearly all of them. My favorites were:
2. You do more in seven minutes than most people do all day.
4. A night of drinking requires more recovery time than minor surgery.
Those two, by the way, are not unrelated. After such a highly productive day, one could not help but be obliterated by crushing fatigue, and drinking on top of that deep, incurable exhaustion, well, that'll just do you in. It's necessary, yes, but it will do you in. 

This one, I thought, was a bit misleading:
11. You'd rather have a 103 degree fever than watch one of your kids suffer with it.
Sorts of makes it seem like the primary reason you'd prefer to take the illness upon yourself was a martyr complex, whereas really, when you have an 103 degree fever, you've got a pretty decent shot at GETTING A FUCKING BREAK FOR A FEW HOURS. Whereas if your kids have the fever, you get just the opposite. And the maternal love thing too, yeah, that's a part of it. 

Oh, and this one resonated in particular:
14. Peeing with an audience is part of the daily routine.
I'm so accustomed to peeing with the door open -- to make sure Terza doesn't set the house on fire or get her hands on a cleaver -- that I sometimes worry I will forget that it's customary to close the bathroom door and will leave it open when guests are over. Though I'm betting, if they have young kids, they've due the same. Still, we must cling to whatever shreds of dignity still adhere. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

Never wake a sleeping baby

These photographs of a sleeping baby, set against whimsical fairytale backgrounds have gone viral: maybe you've seen them? The photographer and mom to three boys, Queenie Liao, took a ton of them, and you can view them here: Wengenn in Wonderland

That the pictures are adorable does not need to be stated, as it is obvious.

Here's what I do have to say: this mom, Queenie, clearly has three top-notch, amazing sleepers. Her baby must be one of those can't-say-no-when-the-Sandman-calls super easy babies that drifts off to the land of nod like an infant in a diaper commercial.

Because what I felt as I clicked through these pics was not peace and delight and coziness. I felt searing panic.


"No! No! NO! Don't put a MICROPHONE in his hand!"

"If you try and position that matrioshka outfit over his face, you're going to ROUSE him."

When I saw the kid wearing the mustache, I went totally apoplectic.

"Did you DRUG HIM??? How in the HELL could he sleep through that?"

When my baby falls asleep, I am nervous about even clicking the light off in the hallway OUTSIDE her room, for fear it might wake her. I curse my knees for cracking as I walk out the door. I wouldn't dare to slip so much as a sock on her feet even if it was freezing cold; what she has on at the time of sleep is what she keeps on. Period.

I will never recover from the torturous sleep deprivation that lasted, not just a few months, but years with my older two, and you couldn't PAY me to fuck with them when they sleep. I'd rather enter a lion's cage than their bedroom when they're finally slumbering. And also, as soon as they're asleep, I want nothing to do with them. Not permanently, of course. But definitely for an hour or more, as long as I've got. I want to change the damn channel. That way, when they wake, I can be happy to see them again.

So, yes, these are cute. But they do not fill me with feelings of well-being, but with PTSD-style flashbacks. But hey, what do i know?