Showing posts with label childhood. Show all posts
Showing posts with label childhood. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Sweet Melissa, you are 4 today. Can you believe it? I cannot. I took a personal day from work today JUST for you. First, Daddy is taking you out for his annual Melissa-Daddy birthday breakfast. Next, we have to go to the doctor to figure out why that nasty, hacking nighttime cough won't go away. Then, we will play at an interactive neighborhood museum for awhile, and do arts and crafts. Then, we will buy some socks for you. Last, we will go out to dinner and open your special birthday present. You know, the special birthday present you tried to manipulate out us of last night. I took today off for YOU, sweet girl, because I love you and everything about you.

Okay, okay, fine. And I also took today off because there is a full moon out, and now that I'm back to classroom teaching, I find teaching during full moons to be ridiculous and unpleasant. Neil Degrasse Tyson would tell me I am not being a scientific thinker by typing that statement, and normally I would agree with Neil Degrasse Tyson. Except that I'm pretty sure Neil Degrasse Tyson has never had to teach a large group of easily excitable 7 and 8 year olds during a holiday period AND a full moon, and so what does Neil Degrasse Tyson know about full moons and children anyway? Stick to deep space, Dr. Tyson.

Anyway, back to YOU (because at this point, you're extremely angry and grabbing my face and demanding I focus on YOU, STOP talking about the moon.)

So much has changed in 4 years--you are tall and strong and full of wildly imaginative thoughts. Sometimes you will walk by me, still on your tippy toes, then suddenly speed up and say (to the air), "Come on! Come on, Tinkerbell! We have to save them!!" And you are off...though never very far, because you remain convinced the Big Bad Wolf truly lives in our house's shadows and lies in wait for you to leave the safe vicinity of my eyes or your father's so he can gobble you up. Also, Tasha the Cat has creepy eyes--we did establish this long ago. You also don't like it when she steals your sofa spot. That really rubs you raw.

So half the time I have absolutely no idea who you're talking to, or what you are talking about, and this brings so much joy to my heart because I think all children should live lives embedded in magical worlds of glittery freedom. One day you and I will talk about how not all children get to and why, but for now, I love watching you spread your fairy wings and run around in yours.

Our cat is old. She won't be here next year when you turn 5. This is hard for me (not for you--you live in a world where everything is magical, and you are shielded from the deep understandings of what loss really is). She is the only pseudo sibling you have ever known. When you were 2, you treated her like a sister--tattling on her, complaining about her, becoming insanely jealous of her if she sat on me or got a head pat or hug. I've had to make the hard decision to let her go before we leave for our Thanksgiving vacation next month. She is old and sick and for some reason not really letting go; I do worry about making that decision for her. What if there's a reason she's clinging to this side of Life? And who am I to take it away from her? I cry about it all the time in front of you, and I apologize if it ends up psychologically damaging you in any way. I hope it's making you compassionate; I don't know. It could be making you impatient with whiners.

But then again, the other day, when I explained that Tasha would be going to live with God for a long time and she couldn't come back, I asked you if you would miss her. "No," you said pretty breezy, with a lot of confidence.

"Why not?" I asked (silently horrified at the callous nature of children--what IS it with you people??).

"Because she'll be here," you said then, pointing at your heart. And my own heart melted. Did I tell you that once? Or a teacher at school? Or did that come from somewhere amazingly mysterious, like when I used to show you pictures of your Grandpa Samson and Grandma Eula and ask if you knew who they were, and you'd say, "Angels" which was totally mind blowing because, at 1 year old, you had no real concept what that word meant and we had no idea where you had learned it in the first place. Neil Degrasse Tyson would have a scientifically literate way of explaining that away, and this is when my Spirit Self tells my Science Self to shut up, sit down, and stop being such a party pooper or my Science Self is uninvited to my birthday party forEVER.

You are like your daddy in that you do not have patience for my weirdness. You are like me in that you are extremely weird yourself. But in other ways you are just you, and we are just we, and we all live together in this green house we never thought would have any children in it. I feel so blessed that you are with us now.

Because here you are! You are you: if left to your own devices you'd eat candy all day like a starving man would eat a salad, and after you inhaled all the candy you'd turn around and demand more treats as if you were Marie Antoinette her own diva self. You are the scariest grumpiest angriest little girl when you wake up, and you will throw a little daycare friend under the bus faster than you can say Bubble Guppies. I love and adore each of these things about you even and, in spite of, when they drive me absolutely nuts (and you do, on a daily basis--which is your job of course, as my job is to reign you in and silently laugh at your ridiculous reaction to being reigned in which drives you nuts, on a daily basis).

At four years old, you are a sports playing, princess obsessed, fairy loving, impatient, demanding, sweet, silly, creative, and smart girl with unnerving diva tendencies. You think the term "private parts" is hilarious and disgusting, and when you dance, you give new meaning to KC & The Sunshine Band's "Shake Your Booty."

I love you, sweet Princess Melissa. I hope you never have to kiss a frog. But I also know your DNA heritage and realize you will, and you will kiss many. I will squish them for you if you'd like. And we will dance together wearing sparkly shirts and shiny pants to bad 70's disco. I'm so happy I get to be your mommy. Happy 4th Birthday, big girl (who regularly invites and uninvites me to phantom and real birthday parties including but not limited to ones I'm paying for...and regularly threatens to grow up really fast and never be my baby forever if I don't do what she wants). You help me get out of bed on rainy, gross mornings.

Love always,

Friday, February 17, 2012

winter whisperer.

   I'm having sort of a rough spot at school right now with classroom behavior (the Pencil Situation is the tip of the iceberg). Do not be alarmed (I'm not; just tired). It's not anything above and beyond normal for this point in the school year--the months of February and March are just rough, yo. They were rough when I was a classroom teacher, rough when I taught 1st grade ESOL, and they're rough now. If I were teaching straight A students in Tahiti they'd be rough. I think there's just a natural, circadian pattern to every school year, and February and March just so happen to be its darkest hours.

For one thing, it's cold. And outside is simply not attractive--trees are naked, grass all grungy brown. This winter for us has been unseasonably warm then cold with lots of rainy and low barometric clouds. And for someone like me, that is just a recipe for depression.

And then two, you're heading into the home stretch. The kids who have learning issues and have really struggled all year right now are starting to give up, and you can see it. And you're getting exasperated at the fact you can see them starting to give up and you know you need to throw them some kind of lifeline but dude, seriously. It's February/March, the two longest months of a school year and you're all so frickin' tired. Do you think Lowe's sells lifelines? I hope so, because my creative, hope-y juices are at a yearly low.

And then Spring hits. In all its fevered glory. Or, you know, if you're like us in the South where global warming is alive and well, you've been enjoying Spring Fever since about mid-January as the temperatures have only been truly wintery for a total 3 days.

Have you ever experienced Spring Fever at an elementary school level? It is not for the weak, let me tell you. I remain convinced Spring Fever is the entire reason teachers continue to be given 2 month summer vacations. If Wall Street experienced Spring Fever and/or its cousin Warm Spring-like Winter Spring Fever, they too would be taking long summer breaks (....actually, knowing Wall Street, they'd be taking 6 month summer breaks and charging us all for 24 months' of work).

So yes. I've been having some behavior issues at school. And I don't even have these kids all day--I deal with the issues an hour at a time. Their classroom teachers? Wow. Somebody needs to give those people a $50,000 a year raise. Or at least a 5 star all-inclusive vacation to Bora Bora. Something. Do SOMEthing, educrats. (Because your pay-for-performance ideas are less than stellar.) (As if we're trained seals, willing to do higher back flips for more fish. Fish that's not even fresh. Please.)

But I digress.

So I'm having a month. And every day when I pick up Melissa, I'm starting to get notes on her daily report that say things like:

"Melissa had a hard day today. She didn't listen to her teachers and ran in the classroom."

"Melissa did not have a good day today. She yelled at her friends."

I do not know what to do with these notes.

As a teacher, my instinct is to light into her and support my fellow educators. First of all, I think there should be ZERO light of day between your parents and your teachers. You should know this, and it should be feared. Second of all, I know how it feels to have to deal, all day long, with people who don't want to listen to you, who run in the classroom, and who spend a lot of time yelling at their friends.

So we've had a lot of sad, teary discussions on rides home that go like this:

ME: Why did you yell at your friends?
HER: I didn't!
ME: Your teachers say you did. Teachers don't make things up. Why are you yelling at your friends?
HER: I didn't!

Over and over. Is she lying? Yes. She yells at me, so I totally believe her teachers when they say she yells at her friends. She also doesn't listen to me, so I totally believe her teachers when they say she doesn't listen to them.

But she's 3. Isn't this what 3 year olds do? Yell at people, run around, and not listen? If she were, say, 7 years old and doing that in her 1st grade classroom, we'd have a big problem. But I get these reports, read them, and go: Yeah. That's what 3 year olds do. Are they supposed to be different nowadays because it's 2012 and when they start school in about two years they'll have to pass a high stakes test? Probably. (Curses on you, George W. Bush and your NCLB drafters.)

Last night  I watched the documentary BUCK. It's a movie about Buck Brannaman, the horse whisperer. The most important thing I took away from it was the part where Buck says something like, "People hire me to help them with horse problems, but usually what I end up doing is helping horses with people problems." After a tense, just-what-the-holy-hell-is-happening-here-exactly?? kind of week, I could almost audibly feel something click inside of me, internally.

I need to start thinking like a horse whisperer.

Which is why I've decided to handle the Melissa notes like this: let her know what her teachers have said about her, tell her it's not okay behavior but that I also recognize she's just being 3, and then I give her a hug and a kiss and say, "I love you. No matter what. Forever and ever. I love you."

And so I'm thinking this is the approach I should start taking with my 3rd graders as well: tell them it's not okay behavior but I recognize they're 8, 9, and we're all heading into that home stretch of school year. Then pat them on their heads and say, "I'm writing on your behavior card because what you did was so SO inappropriate--I mean, seriously? This is school. You can't do that in school. But I do still love you. This doesn't mean I don't love you and please know I know you're just being a kid. But still. Stop doing that at school. Stop it now. Seriously." Because I do. I do love them. Very, very much. (Oh, wait. Except for that one, that one kid makes it so hard to find my love. So hard!) (No, seriously. The horse whisperer's bag of tricks would be depleted in 10 seconds flat.)

Plus it could also just be "that" time of year. February/March simply aren't my favorites--if poopy crap is going to happen, it usually happens in one of these two months. And outside looks so drab and grungy. And it's been a rainy winter. And I hate those.

Now. Having typed all that, let me off-track myself a bit and also admit that I'm chuckling my little teacher/mommy butt off right now, thinking of an article I just read the other day about bigwig education reformers,wanting teachers to compete for a paltry $20,000 extra a year for good test scores. Those guys need to see BUCK, too. Because if they really understood how teachers work, they'd approach us much more gently, with pure love. They'd put daily chocolate in teacher lounges, every Friday we'd have $100 gift cards to the grocery store and on Mondays there'd be a $50 restaurant gift card. Once a month there'd be free massages and pedicures, and every summer there'd be a paid vacation to anywhere in the world we'd like to go. On top of all that, every five years we'd get a year long paid sabbatical. WITH benefits.

Or, you know, at the very least, reduce our class sizes by 10 kids. If we can't have gift cards, massages, free flowing chocolate, all-inclusive vacations, and sabbatical packages, we'll take 12 kids per class per year, please and thanks. Teacher satisfaction and stress relief would be so huge our test scores would shoot up in ways that made the Chinese, Russians, and Iranians all nervous enough they'd start holding secret "what the heck do we do NOW??" meetings. I feel certain Mr. Buck Brannaman would agree with my gentle version of education reform.

Except that won't happen because nobody in government thinks like a horse whisperer. And plus it's February/March. Poop.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

boobies and breast feeding (aka: this whole blog is an overshare)

My child is obsessed with boobs. I don't know why; I suspect it's my fault (when she's sitting in a therapist's office in 15 years most everything will be). But she's obsessed with them...actually just mine. (Overshare #1 begins here) She likes to talk about drinking milk from them, and I constantly have to ask her to stop attempting to manhandle them. I'm sure her daycare teachers wonder (out loud, possibly in staff meetings) why Melissa is so obsessed with her mommy's boobs, but mostly why hasn't Melissa's mommy told her not to talk about it in public? (Because I haven't found a way to properly frame it yet: I find using the words "can't," "don't," and "stop" make Melissa more determined than ever to be the very opposite of what I envision for her.)

Here's why I'm sure the booby obsession is my fault: In Psychology 101 in college, I learned about the Oral Fixation phenomenon. Apparently, people who don't get breast fed (like myself and everyone else born when formula was considered best) wind up with oral fixations--chewing on pencils (I do it), overeating (yup), constantly needing a cup of tea/coffee/water/soda/adult beverage close at hand (guilty), biting nails (only stopped when I slapped on acrylic fake ones, still occasionally find myself biting on those)...etc and so forth. Have I mentioned I was addicted, nay, psychotically attached to, my pacifier when I was tiny? I called it my "Binky," and I was simply not myself without it.

Melissa didn't do pacifiers (her father, a former orthodontia specialist, thinks they're of the devil), but she's well on her way to all those other things. I wasn't able to breast feed...or maybe I was and just didn't try hard enough. Breastfeeding wasn't a fun experience for me, either way; I was fairly miserable about the entire process--the latching on hurt (I was told it shouldn't if I was doing it properly and when I showed hospital nursing experts how I was doing it they all said I was doing it properly...yet my child and I managed to find a way to make it still hurt), and the milk production just wasn't forthcoming.

True story*: I called my doctor office's Official Breast Feeding Advocate/Lactation Consultant for help. I knew I was doing the latching on properly, as at least 5 separate nurses in the hospital all watched my technique and gave me thumbs up on it. I just got a body that wasn't really into producing milk. (Which is so ironic, because while pregnant all I craved was dairy; if I could have tethered a cow in my backyard and drunk straight from the teet, I'd have been in pure pregnancy heaven.)

And meanwhile, I was doing all of these exhausting things to supplement that really had me questioning what the point of breast feeding in the 21st century actually was. (Overshare #2 begins now) Like, to simulate breast feeding but provide nourishment while my body worked on making milk, I had this extremely thin little tube. I'd tape it right on top of a nipple, run it through to a bottle of formula that was rigged up to some type of drip drop contraption. Then the formula would run down through the tube into M's mouth--she wasn't getting actual breast milk, but she was getting the simulation of breast feeding.

I'd do this 8,9, 50 times a day and think: seriously?? Did the cave women do this? Because if Melissa and I had been cave people, she'd have totally been dead of malnourishment by her 3rd day on earth. (Actually, I would be dead, too, from childbirth, as she refused to come out during natural labor.) Which, I feel, is the whole point of being a 21st century mom: You have some options available to you, and the feminist power to flip people off if they decide to be judgmental d-bags about it.

But here's the thing: breast is best. I got it, everyone on planet Earth gets it at this point. We've all been exposed to the research studies' findings, we read articles about it every month in Parenting magazine, our ob/gyns give us long lectures on why we should really try to breast feed if we even wonder out loud about formula. We hear you, breast feeding militants: breast is best breast is best breast is best. Women who give their kids their breast milk end up with Nobel Peace Prize winners; women who use formula spend a lot of time at the wailing wall, praying over their sons and daughters doing hard time for bank robberies. We got it, for the love of God.

So, for months I'd been bombarded with the breast is best/if you don't do this your kid is going to suffer message, and there was a lot of guilt on my part about the fact I should be breast feeding but (a) was miserable doing it because it hurt so much and so I wasn't really bonding and top of that I was having to do this ridiculous contraption set up 100 times a day while I waited for my own milk to come in because (b) I was painfully aware my body was unable to properly nourish my own child and I was just stuck in this vicious circle. And the post-pregnancy hormones were no help: I could literally feel a funky funk of a depression setting in.

By the end of week 3 really, I just wanted to stop...I was utterly exhausted from lack of sleep, flattened psychically from the hormones, and if the whole point of breast milk feedings was better nutrition, then Melissa was already screwed--she'd been chowing down on formula for the better part of her first few weeks on Earth.

Desperate, I called a Lactation Consultant (aka Militant Breast Feeding Advocate) for help, or at least some encouragement. I expressed my frustrations, described our contraption and my current milk production predicament, moaned about the very real depression I could literally feel myself sliding into about this and begged her for help. I got told it was a supply vs. demand issue. If I truly wanted to breast feed right, I'd need to do the following:

1. breast feed on one breast for an hour (/end overshare #3)
2. breast pump on the other breast for the following hour
3. take a brief 30 minute break
4. Repeat steps 1 through 3. For 24 horror movie hours at least but possibly more like 72.

"But that sounds terrible!" I cried out, "I already feel like a I'm going to actually be one of those farm factory cows. Are there any other options?"

She was was humorless and unmoved. "If you really want to help your child, this is what you need to do," was the response.

And so I re-iterated that I could really feel myself sinking into a deep depression over this--I wasn't getting the cozy, lovey dovey feelings supposedly associated with breast feeding and was worried about the bonding I wasn't feeling, and I dreaded the whole feeding thing in and of itself. Mostly I was basically feeling like a failure, and I was really scared. Would it be really terribly so bad if I just switched to formula and bottles, the end?

"Well," said Militant Breast Feeding Consultant, "I think you need to really think here. Are you switching to formula because it's easier for you? Or are you going to do what's best for your child?"

Looking back on that conversation, I think the best thing for me to do would have been to end the conversation by asking to speak to her boss and then having an emotional, psychotic breakdown over the phone with that person like I did with the one Target manager several weeks ago. Instead, I whispered &%$%#ing &itch! and hung up the phone. (/end overshare #4)

And please understand: I am the most mild mannered, nicest person ever. I only use cuss words at other drivers while driving or I stub my toe or I'm very, very afraid. I never even cuss in front of my husband, and I know a lot of women who cuss at theirs. So if you and I are ever interacting, and I launch a raunchy word directed straightly at you, please also understand: You totally deserved it. You f*&^%$ing &^^%$#. Got it?

I was beside myself. I mean, obviously, my mothering skills sucked. I couldn't even feed my own child. And now I was literally going to have a baby on one boob and a contraption on the other. In between diaper changes, screaming cries, and nights of little sleep, I was (for 24-72 hours and/or until my body finally produced enough milk) to have someone sucking on me (/end overshare #5)and then follow that up with a machine milking me. Just like a factory farmed dairy cow.

It was too much.

Fortunately, I have a good friend who, while excelling at the act of breast feeding as she does everything else (Hi, Valerie!), is also a practical, nurturing thinker who likes life to make sense. After hearing my dilemma, she reminded me that her daughter had been a voracious breast feeder and still had a few, tiny little health problems so that whole breast-fed-kids-are-superior-health-wise wasn't necessarily true all the time. And that if breast feeding was making me miserable, it was okay to stop--no one walks around with EXCLUSIVELY BREAST FED or ALL FORMULA PRODUCT stamped on their heads. And also, that Lactation Consultant was clearly a real ^&^%$$# *&^% and I was right for whispering it into the phone in a way she probably didn't even hear me before I hung up on her.

And that I was right: what babies most need, above and beyond breast milk, are mommies who aren't depressed. That's way more important than breast milk vs. formula nutrition.

And then I had an ob follow up and told my doctor what had happened. And when your ob practically says, "Wow, what a &^%%$*   B*&&^," you know you're in the right. Also, she told me that she was raised on formula and now she's a doctor. So while breast milk is undeniably, technically better and pretty much far superior to formula, your kid's not going to turn into a Quasimodo if you feed them formula. Go for it.

And so I did. And voila! I instantly began to bond with M. I loved, loved, LOVED our feeding times together. I got her on a schedule, and it was almost like instantly she could sleep a whole 3-4 hours straight (yes, because she wasn't starving). And I sent that stupid milking contraption back to whence it came. And we were happy. We were happy for ever after.

............Until we went to Target yesterday. And I needed a bra. And I entered the bra section. And Melissa said (and she might as well have used their intercom system for this since she has that Voices Carry quality to her that I suspect all 3 year olds do possess):  

Yes, honey. Yes, this is indeed the booby section. And SHHHH! Lower your friggin' voice. (Of course that makes it into a game, and so now we have to use a louder voice and repeat ourselves over and over over, especially and when a creepy-looking man walks by just as I'm debating between a striped black number and a polka dotted one.)

*This true story is why I get a little militant with the breast feeding militants. Please know: I am not advocating for one way or another in this blog, simply relating my own personal experiences with the act of breast feeding/pumping. Adjusting to a newborn is a full-time job and a nerve-wracking process. I say: do what you need to do to get yourself to the other side of that and keep yourself out of a full-fledged post-partum depression. And if any #$%#&*^ s*&^%$ m*&&^% b**&&^% wants to make you feel bad or guilty about that, cuss them out and hang up on them. And then call me. We'll go have coffee and talk about what d-bags they are and how awesome we are.

*And furthermore and finally, I remain unapologetically thankful I was not born in the Dark Ages and/or China.

*(China likes to put lead and poison in most everything; I recommend you only buy sweatshop-produced bras from that country.)

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

2011 Best & Worst

Around this time of year, I like to take stock. I like to take stock of how my year went, I shaking my fists at it and stomping around, cussing like a crusty old sailor? Or just giving it the middle finger raised defiantly up high, in a really indignant manner? I'm certainly never hugging it. I don't think I've hugged an old year going out and a new year coming in since 1982. There's usually something in the past year that has really made me put my hands on my hips in a very annoyed manner and say out loud to no one in particular, "Really, Insert name of year here? Really?? What the freaking heck."(Full disclosure: I might--or might not--use much swarthier words than freaking and heck. It would just depend on the issue, and the year.)

Another thing I do is come up with Un-Resolutions. This is a very Alice in Wonderland thing to do, and I prefer it because I know I'll be 100% successful at these. For example, in 2012, I unresolve to spend less time on And, in 2012, I unresolve to spend half of each Saturday lying around staring at the ceiling feeling guilty about all the things I really should be accomplishing. Also, in 2012, I unresolve to clean my toilets more (though I did find a really earth-friendly, economical, most awesome solution of part vinegar/part water/Dawn dishwashing liquid you can make at home that can supposedly scrub blood stains off the inside of a person's body).

But I also like to review my personal year's Best & Worst. Just like they do in People magazine and on E! News, except without the paparazzi pictures:

Best Kid Moment: Potty training accomplished! No more poopy diapers, no more diaper bills, no more worrying about contributing to the land fill diaper problem in America but being too 21st century lazy and harried to actually switch to cloth diapers and do something about plus that would involve more laundry and I'm really anti-more laundry....woohoo! No more diapers!

Worst Kid Moment: Realizing potty training isn't (1) fool proof or (2) consistent. Most embarrassing example of this: the infamous McDonald's Poop Explosion of 2011.

Worst Job Moment: Volunteering to leave the dream teaching job I adored to venture forth into unknown waters. Teaching (the Education field in general, actually) seems to be in a bit of a scary and massive upheaval these days, and so who knows where I'll be at this time next year? Upheavals can be both bad and good, but I am never a fan of change. Even and especially when I instigate it.

Best Job Moment: Finding out teaching 3rd graders is surprisingly a breeze. Jolly Ranchers and lead pencils and the ability to place a "I Actually Don't Find You Funny At All" look on my face in a mere 1.5 seconds really helped that. And the change in focus turned out to be fairly good for me...after teaching 1st grade ESOL for about 10 years, I could pretty much do that with my eyes closed. It's stressful to have to locate, plan, and coordinate new lessons, and I wish I didn't end up staying until 5:00 pm most days. But it keeps me on my toes. And that's a good thing, because I'm the kind of person who really needs to be kept on her toes. Otherwise, I spend way too much time staring at a ceiling for half a day feeling guilty about all the stuff I could be accomplishing.

Best Health Moment: C got a new knee. It's a lot of work right now, and his body is still adjusting. But in about 6-8 weeks, I predict he'll be walking around like Melissa does when she gets a new bouncy ball: "Mommy! Look at meeeee! Look at me and my new bouncy ball! Look at how good I am with my bouncy ball! I can bounce my bouncy ball really, really high! No! You can't have my bouncy ball! It's MINE!" (C, of course, will not be bouncing as high as he can, but I do suspect he won't share his new knee with anyone.)

Worst Health Moment: Well, I got skin cancer. That was the worst. But it was a fortunately/unfortunately kind of thing: Unfortunately, I got skin cancer. Fortunately, it turned out to be the unscary kind, harmless little Basal Cell that can sit on your skin for years and years and never make a peep (except you should get Basal Cell off of there ASAP if you do find him sitting there, because occasionally he can turn into his big older brother, Malignant, Scary Carcinoma. Scary  Carcinoma is a really crappy bastard, and even his own mother ignores him on his birthday). Fortunately, it was an easy procedure to remove. Unfortunately, I'll be at a dermatologist's office annually for the rest of my life. Fortunately, this will quickly help us meet our insurance's out of pocket maximum so C can get another new knee next year and we don't have to pay a thing. See? Fortunately/Unfortunately.

Worst Celebrity News: The Kardashians are really getting on my nerves. I don't understand them, and I don't understand the nation's love/hate relationship and fascination with them. I'm just glad they're in cahoots with Sears. If I had to see them and their sweat shop clothing line every time I bought contact lens cleaner at Target or Wal-Mart, I really think I'd lose my mind.

...Except I have to say, I do begrudgingly like Khloe. Khloe seems like someone I could have over for dinner and laugh with. Oh, okay...and Kourtney, too. Her little boy is too, too cute. As long as she left the icky boyfriend/father at home, I think we could hang out and talk.

Fine, fine, fine. It's really just Kim I'm having an issue with. But I think everyone in America is too, and so. Good.

Best Celebrity News: Apparently, Atlanta is quickly becoming the new Hollywood. This increases my chances of bumping into Gerard Butler at Target or Wal-Mart or Kroger or Publix  by 1,000%. Obviously, in 2012, I'm going to have to never leave the house without full make up and hair, and I'll clearly have to hire a personal stylist. Oh, and the gym. I guess I'll have to bump up my gym schedule from 0 times a week to at least 1 or 2. Man. That's going to be a lot of work. I may need to set my standards a little lower and hope to bump into one of the Real Housewives of Atlanta's ex-boyfriends.

This is not what my chicken avocado parmigiana looked like.
Worst Cooking Moment: The avocado/parmigiana chicken dish I got off It seemed like a good idea in theory. I mean, who the heck doesn't love chicken parmigiana? And avocados are just healthy for you--full of good vitamins and the type of fat your body doesn't use to make you look 6 months pregnant. But in actual practice? It did not execute well, and I apologize to all who came into contact with it (namely, C and Melissa) (C took 3 bites and Melissa declared hers "icky," dumped it in the trash can, and proceeded to demand chicken nuggets instead).

Best Cooking Moment: The fact that I cooked most nights of the week. The week right before Winter Break and the week of Knee Replacement surgery were pretty rough and full of McDonald's happy meals. But other than that, I've been a cooking fool throughout 2011. Please note: I do not enjoy cooking. Slow cookers make it a tad easier. Unless you have someone who doesn't enjoy slow cooker food, like I do, who (after 3 slow cooker meals) asks you to lighten up on the slow cooker meals. That can really throw off your whole game plan, if you have that. I also don't enjoy the following: menu planning, grocery shopping, food prep, cooking clean up, dishwasher put away, and pantry organization. But the point is, I have learned to overcome all of that, in a very Chariots of Fire kind of way. And I like looking up recipes and conducting recipe experiments. I'm a Chariots of Fire Kitchen Scientist is what I am. And C and Melissa are my lab rats.

Worst Gift of 2011: There were none. Every gift is awesome. If you give me a gift of any kind, you are permanently on my Favorite People list forever. Unless your gift is the flu or a cold. And then you're on my People to Avoid at All Costs list.

Best Gift of 2011: The Keurig. Do you know about them? Next to the Internets, these are one of humanity's most helpful and evil-at-the-same-time inventions ever. You put some water in the holder. You stick your coffee cup under the thingy. You stick a Keurig coffee cup thingy ($9 per box, more expensive at Bed Bath & Beyond) in the thingy. You press a button. Sixty seconds later? You have a coffee (in a variety of flavors, including but not limited to hazelnut, french vanilla, and fair trade decaf) or tea or hot chocolate or espresso or cappucino. It's technology magic. The evil part comes into play because the coffee maker is always right there. On your counter. And if there is water in the water compartment, in a mere 60 seconds you can have your 1,000th cup of coffee (or tea or espresso or hot chocolate or cappucino) of the day. For example, as I type this, it is 10:00 am and I'm enjoying my 6th cup of coffee (an Italian Donut Shop bold that is clearing out my sinuses in a most effective way...I predict the caffeine in this thing will keep me up well past 1:00 am).

Starbucks is also pissed at the Keurig guys. My yearly $25,000 donation to them is probably going to be reduced by about $24,990.

Worst Book of 2011: Did Kim Kardashian write a tell-all book about her 72 hour marriage yet? If not, get ready to put that on your "Worst Book" list for whatever year she writes it.

Best Book of 2011: Tina Fey's book Bossypants. I would like to be Tina Fey's friend and confidante. I would like to start a religious cult that worships all that Tina Fey says, writes, and does. (That sounds a bit stalkerish, I know. But honestly, the fastest way to become a billionaire is (a) invent the computer or facebook, or (b) start a religion and get Tom Cruise on board). I have many, many new worldviews because of Tina Fey, and many, many new awesome quotes to throw at people haphazardly when they least expect. Here's one:

But I think the first real change in women’s body image came when JLo turned it butt-style. That was the first time that having a large-scale situation in the back was part of mainstream American beauty. Girls wanted butts now. Men were free to admit that they had always enjoyed them. And then, what felt like moments later, boom—BeyoncĂ© brought the leg meat. A back porch and thick muscular legs were now widely admired. And from that day forward, women embraced their diversity and realized that all shapes and sizes are beautiful. Ah ha ha. No. I’m totally messing with you. All Beyonce and JLo have done is add to the laundry list of attributes women must have to qualify as beautiful. Now every girl is expected to have Caucasian blue eyes, full Spanish lips, a classic button nose, hairless Asian skin with a California tan, a Jamaican dance hall ass, long Swedish legs, small Japanese feet, the abs of a lesbian gym owner, the hips of a nine-year-old boy, the arms of Michelle Obama, and doll tits. The person closest to actually achieving this look is Kim Kardashian, who, as we know, was made by Russian scientists to sabotage our athletes.

See? Ladies, wouldn't you like to be friends with Tina, too? Let's get together every Friday and pray to her. (Please bring $25 as a Fey Love "donation.")

And last (but not least):

Worst Overall Moment of 2011: The angry, judgmental Target employee and my emotional breakdown about her (including tears) in front of a store manager while standing in front of Target Cafe's pretzel machine. I've finally managed to successfully shop (tear-free) in this Target again. I've gone back to placing Melissa (in a really defiant way I must add) in the back of the cart (minus the seat belt AND allowing her to stand up). I've also managed to once run into that same angry, judgmental Target employee while Melissa is standing up in the back of the cart (mihnus cart seat belt) and look at that chick with pointy, dangerous daggers shooting out of my eyes in her general direction in a really passive aggressive way. I'm sure she senses when I've entered the store and becomes very nervous. Obviously, I've clearly won.

...Really, this experience has kind of turned into a it was the best of times/it was the worst of times sort of thing. But I'm still shell shocked about the initial experience, and so I'm making it my Worst Moment of 2011 (there could have been a worse worst moment of 2011, but my memory only goes back to about July of each year, and nothing worse happened to me from July-December than that).

Best Overall Moment of 2011:  We are all still alive. C and I both have satisfying jobs, a roof over our heads, nice clothes (Old Navy recently had a 70% off sale that I hit just right), good food in our bellies (as long as it doesn't involve chicken, parmigiana, and avocados), a sweet girl who only goes to time out 3 times a day, and we are cancer-free (knock on wood), surrounded by family we are on talking terms with who we actually find amusing and fun to be around. Is there any kind of a moment that would be better than that? I don't think so, and I'm positive Tina Fey (blessed be her name) will agree.

Happy 2012, everyone!

Monday, December 19, 2011

christmas tree ninja

  I have completed........a craft. Way back around Thanksgiving, I found a cute felt Christmas tree craft idea at pinterest and threw that into my ::kids are like rainbows:: board.

Fast forward to December 14th-ish. I am slowly losing my mind with each Christmas decoration that is pulled from the Christmas tree and smashed on the ground. Melissa attempts to blame the cat each time and it's driving me insane.

Listen--the cat is part of the problem, no doubt. She's the equivalent of 150 human years according to cat time, but it doesn't stop her from wandering all casual-like under our tree and batting at stuff hanging from the bottom. Every other morning I'm picking up the wooden toy horse ornament or the crocheted gingerbread girl and sticking them back on the tree. Sometimes I have to wipe off the cat puke first. And that's always nice.

There are three key words in that last paragraph I'd like to draw your attention to at this point: bottom, wooden, and crocheted. I don't have a great many ornaments. But the ornaments I've placed toward the bottom of the tree, right at 3 year old girl and cat eye level, are ones that (a) don't matter much to me and/or (b) are practically unbreakable. Because, I don't know if anyone knows this or not, but I do like to think of myself as pretty clever during brief moments of sheer clarity, or at the very least intensely pragmatic. So as I decorated, I said to myself: "Self, make sure you put all these wooden/crocheted/unbreakable ornaments at the bottom or this could get ugly."

Pragmatic be damned. So far, to date, I have swept up broken, shattered, jagged remnants of the following: one heart ornament a friend from long ago gave me--I've lost touch with the friend, but I'm a sentimental psycho, and so I was deeply saddened to the point of teary eyes when it shattered all over the wood floors below it (because I'm so very dramatic with symbolic messages the Universe tosses my way now and then).....two cheap ceramic snowmen holding cheap ceramic candy canes I just really, really liked, I don't know why......and one "World's Best Teacher!" ornament that simply will not glue back together no matter how frantically I try (let's all pause for a moment of silent reflection as we offer pleading prayers to the Universe that It was not sending any cosmic symbolic communiques with that one).

I don't know how Melissa gets to them--honestly, it's nothing short of a Christmas miracle. They weren't at the top of the tree, but they also weren't at 3 year old level. She's like a Christmas tree ninja. I suspect most 3 year olds are, and having wood floors only exacerbates the problem. I really prefer wood floors to carpet, 11 months out of the year. Carpet involves lugging out a vacuum cleaner and dragging it around every week, and cat puke is practically impossible to get out, and cat hair is like glued into it forever. I love having wood floors. Love, love, love. But in December? Oh man, how I long for carpet.

In addition (and more concerning), The Infamous Christmas Tree Debacle of '11 has also advanced warned me: basically I'm raising a 14 year old in a 3 year old's body.

How do I know? Because the last time Melissa got caught manhandling the tree I snapped, and I snapped really hard. Go ahead, judge me; I do not care. I'd had quite enough of the tree manhandling that had been going on that day as it had reached a zenith of really ridiculous, outrageous proportions. And so I snapped. I snapped and it was not pretty.

And here's another thing about my little Christmas tree ninja: Melissa's in a weird phase right now (and there are so many of these I hear, from the time they turn one until they're packing for college) in which she slaps when she gets mad. She slaps at objects, she slaps at walls, she slaps at herself, she slaps at thin air. I'm not concerned about the slapping or her slapping at any of the the above--you wanna hit the sofa? Go for it, kid. Here's a pillow, too. It needed reshaping anyway.

But she's also slapping at other people, and we simply can't have that. She generally doesn't slap hard, just hard enough to express her "you are not the boss of me" attitude. But we don't hit other people, and we don't hit each other in our house. I think people who go around slapping and hitting each other when they're angry have childhood wounds in desperate need of healing. That, or they need a larger vocabulary to express their feelings (which is why 1 year olds bite and 3 year olds slap, of course).

This time however, she did slap pretty hard. She slapped me, and there was a definite SMACK sound to the slap.

I put her in time out. She was all indignant about it, and now who wouldn't be? You're already so mad you're slapping and making satisfying SMACK! sounds, and suddenly someone's taken away your primal rage outlet and plopped you in, essentially,  a padded cell void of things that are satisfying to whack. So I parked her little indignant, slap happy butt in her padded cell/aka our time out step, and she sat there and cursed me out the only way a 14 year old girl trapped in a 3 year old body knows how to do:

HER: I'm! Not! Going! To! Time! Out!

ME: Yet here you are. 3 minutes, m'am. I'll be back.

HER: I'm! Putting! YOU! In! Time out! Mommy!

10 seconds pass

HER: You're in! Time out! Mommy!

1 minute later...

HER: You're JOINING me!

30 seconds....

HER: I hate! Time! Out!

and so on and so forth until 3 minutes were up.

When her 3 minutes were up I walked over and asked if she understood why I put her in time out. Here's where the 14 year old totally reared her sassy little head: "Yes," she said, "Because you used your mean voice at me. And I hit you. You don't! Use! Your mean voice at me, Mommy! And I mean it!"

So yes. You see what I'm dealing with? A 3 year old who possesses the reasoning abilities of a wayward teenager. Because I used my mean voice, she just had to slap me. Mommy made her. Because people who use their mean voices just need a good slapping.

I laughed that one off this time, because she's 3 and it's pretty cute. I did let her know in no uncertain terms was she to ever, ever slap at anyone, even if a mean voice was used. We don't hit, ever. But I did heartily chuckle at her while letting her know all of that. But I chuckled in secret, where she couldn't see, and I chuckled in a sort of nervous way. I can tell: in another 10 years, this is going to get tricky; there's an ability to process and analyze I'm almost positive I didn't even develop until my mid-20's. I could be doomed.

But I'm also very impressed at the abstract reasoning ability my offspring is utilizing. Most child development researchers will tell you it's all concrete thinking until about age 10. And I've been given a child who, clearly, could make Jean Piaget scratch his head.

Which brings me back to my first seasonal craft project: Obviously, little Miss M does not have enough to do. And so we went to Michael's craft store and picked up some craft glue and a whole lot of felt. I cut a tree out of green felt and some tree decorations out of other felt colors. And now? Melissa can decorate her own tree to her little 14 years-in-a-3 year old heart's content:

I'm fairly certain this is the look she aims for each time she attempts to re-decorate our family tree. It's avant garde, yes, with a touch of irreverent whimsy. But I have real Christmas tree ornaments that whimper whenever she walks by; I've sworn to protect them. And anyway, we're a pretty modern family and all, but we're just not an avant garde Christmas tree family at the moment. But we do have a tree ninja. (The Dora pj's are just her weekend ninja uniform. She has others.)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

life is full of poorly formed bad decisions that on occasion may involve poop.

First of all, I would like to apologize to anyone who was subjected to my last post. It was 20 paragraphs too long, full of rambles, and greatly lacking in conciseness with gaping maws of clever. I was incredibly hormonal that day, and nursing a secret, self-inflicted wound made worse by a 10 lb. bag of Lay's potato chips (the crinkly kind). I've deleted that inane insanity and let's all move on, shall we? (But I do maintain the government in in total cahoots with mass food production companies who exist to poison us so they can take over the world.) (Today, for instance, I tried thwarting them by switching to Baked Lay's.)

Hoo boy. I had quite the day yesterday. C is out of town on business in Savannah (and slurping up Uncle Bubba's seafood after business hours). And the only reason I am not slurping up Uncle Bubba's seafood right next to him is because he just had to go and fly down there, and I do not fly unless it's absolutely unavoidable. Like, there's a big ocean in my way. So I'm on my own--I have an agenda of things to accomplish before he gets back, and I can proudly announce I have crossed off 3 of these things (out of 10).

But I've also been unable to sleep well (I always have a hard time sleeping when he's gone), and I've been slightly hormonal, for about the last 3 days, yesterday being the worst. Yesterday was a day I wished to do nothing, but didn't have time to do nothing and ended up doing 2 of the 10 things I had to cross off my list which made me peevish and, quite frankly, reckless. I was personally reckless yesterday.


For instance--I mailed bills. But I was sluggish in getting them to my house's mailbox and so I had to drive them to the actual post office. Once there, I parked by the post office boxes, jumped out and threw them in. Some crazy lady parked behind me and just as I was getting in my car she decided she absolutely had to be in front of my car and needed to do that immediately. As entitled, crazy people are wont to do. Even though I was in her way. But who cares about pedestrians, right? Pedestrians = so inconvenient.

And thus, I was almost plowed down alive by a crazy woman with an inflated sense of self-importance who was driving a black Mercedes SUV.

Here's where the personally reckless part comes in: I flipped her off. Right there, where she totally could have confronted me in the parking lot and we probably would have ended up on the 5 o'clock news: CITIZENS GO POSTAL IN A PARKING LOT. Fortunately for both of us, she was just as confrontation-avoidant and passive aggressive as I am. She threw her mail into the mailboxes, angrily slammed back into her car, and cussed me out where I couldn't hear her. And I cussed her out right back in my car, where she couldn't hear me. Which is how you're supposed to do it (note to road ragers who don't do it right). And we went our separate ways.


Obviously, I wasn't going to cook last night due to lack of sleep, hormones, and after getting crazy at the United States Post Office, so I took Melissa to McDonald's, where she could ingest poisonous mass production food and I could hang out on my swank new smart phone like one of the other cool, not-paying-attention-to-their-kids-at-all/bad-parenting-role-model kids.

Except I decided not to go to our regular McDonald's (refer to last post for explanation) and braved stress-inducing rush hour traffic jams to hang out in what I hoped would be a friendlier area. Sadly, it was not to be.

I mean, it was friendly. This McDonald's is populated by much friendlier children. As long as you understood that you would be immediately ostracized if you were unable to conform to the herd's mentality. And I did say to myself as we passed our house: "Self, you should swing back and grab a diaper or a Pull-up for Melissa. You know you're just flirting with disaster." But as usual, I told my Gut Instinct to shut the hell up and we continued on our ill-fated way.

We had an enjoyable dinner of GMO fries and ammonia-cleaned cheeseburgers, all washed down with high fructose corn syrup apple juice and aspartme-laden soda. The other children there were well-behaved and their moms and dads were all lost in thought on their smart phones, checking email and facebook and other very, very important things.

And then Melissa jumped down to run to the Playland.

"Do you have to go potty?" I asked before she left. Nope, she said confidently. Here, my Gut Instinct said: Make her go. And again, I told my Gut Instinct to zip it. She'd be fine. She does fine for her teachers. Why not me?

And all seemed so right with the world--the birds sang, the sun smiled down, and the crazy fellow citizen at the Post Office seemed like a big, weird anomaly; a crackpot blip to my day: because immediately, two nice little girls grabbed Melissa and welcomed her into their big girl, potty trained world. They all told each other their names. They giggled, they chased each other, they helped Melissa climb up way too high. They played for a good 10 minutes like this. Ten, glorious minutes of friendly acceptance. Melissa was part of the gang, and so was I.

Because just a few days ago, Most Awesome Husband on Planet Earth gave me a smart phone as an early anniversary present and so: Finally! I could be part of the high-tech, savvy swank mom crowd: my sweet little girl hanging with her new buds on the germ-infested Mickey D's playground while I conducted worldly, important business like looking for more free apps to eat up my phone's memory.

And then, suddenly, one of Melissa's new friends was staring up into my face.

"Hi," she said.

"Hey!" I said. "How are you?"

"Um, your little girl just peed everywhere. And she smells bad. I mean, she really stinks."

Uh oh.

After 10 minutes of extracting Melissa from the depths of the Playland--like a cat, she'd climbed a tree all the way to the top and then realized she was terrified of heights--I started to pack up to leave. So were all the other parents, I noticed. I fuzzily wondered why were they all packing up. I mean, yo. They let their kids play on salmonella-infested Playland equipment, but someone pees a little and suddenly it's time to jump ship? Urine is totally sterile, people.

But no way was Melissa jumping ship without a fight:

"No, Mommy!" she cried. "I have to poop!"

Yet it smelled like she already had. This was not going to pretty.

So I yanked her into the small kids' bathroom (which I swear hasn't been cleaned since this McDonald's opened...15? 20? years ago, who knows) and thanked the Universe for having the presence of mind to encourage me to bring in her backpack, which had a change of clothes in it. Since I hadn't listened to the Universe's suggestion about the Pull ups and all.

And then I pulled down her underpants.

A huge wad of poo the size of my head oozed out past her legs, onto her feet, and plopped itself on the floor. Poop then proceeded to fling itself onto the rest of her clothes, her back, her tummy, and all over my hands.

I can tell you no more of the story than that. It's currently being optioned by Hollywood for a slapstick horror movie of the most disgusting kind and my lawyers are all busy working out the financial details.

I will tell you that I was able to clean up their bathroom for them, and I'm really impressed with myself about this: There was not one single bit of poop evidence in sight by the time Melissa and I exited, though I am fervently hoping (a) someone eventually comes in and at least mops down the floor and gives the sink a good wiping down with some type of bleach product (since I had to stand Melissa in it for an impromptu McDonald's mini-bath for her lower extremities) and/or (b) no kid drops a french fry in there and eats it.

And I will tell you that I as became increasingly frustrated with each passing minute dealing with massive amounts of poop: ("How the ay-chee-ell does this much poop come out of one little body??!!") ("Melissa! Why? I asked you 10 times if you had to go and you told Mommy no. PLEASE don't tell Mommy no when you have to go!") ("*&^%$#@! Do these people NEVER refill their toilet paper bins?? How the hell do you have a bathroom for little kids with only half a roll of toilet paper??") ("*(&^%%$$#@! (*&^%$#@! Are you )(**&^% KIDDING me?? The *&^%$#@ paper towel dispenser is broken!") ("Oh my god. Oh my god. Melissa. HUN-ee. There is $#&t everywhere. Literally. $H&t everywhere.") ("Oh my god, WHY? Why did this have to happen to US??") As I became increasingly frustrated, I began to use words in front of my child no one should ever use in front of a child going through the mimicking, parroting stage of language development. And I am almost 100% certain the other parents heard me.

Which is why I'm almost 100% certain that, when we exited, (mostly) poop-free, no one was there.

Here's what I think happened: As soon as word got out someone had peed on the jungle gym and a poop explosion was being dealt with in the bathroom, they fled. They fled like a stampeding herd of wildebeests. I felt judged and, worse, I felt abandoned. Every single one of those m*&^%$#ers has been through the toilet training phase. All humans deal with it. We've all crapped our pants at various points in our lives and had someone (or ourselves, in certain dire circumstances) ask us over and over, in really exasperated voices, WHY didn't we SAY something SOONER?? And if you've had a kid then you've definitely had someone else's stinky crap from their inner bowels all over your hands (and your walls and your brand new rug) at some point.

And I'm so totally ticked at those guys. This was a chance for us all to bond, to acknowledge the nuttiness that is Parenting 101. A chance to offer a kind word to a frazzled, harried mom who was almost run over by a crazy woman in an SUV Mercedes two hours earlier at the post office. But oh no. Let's just click off our facebooks for iPhones, grab our kids, and high tail it out of Dodge before somebody gets a pink eye. Traitors.

Anyway. I couldn't reach where she'd peed, so I told a McDonald's worker who reacted like...well, he actually didn't react. Apparently, this happens quite a bit.

And I'm ticked at myself. Man! If only Melissa had been with me when the SUV Mercedes lady had tried to run me down. We left McDonald's with poop clinging to her butt--that would have made an excellent weapon. (And a far juicier 5 o'clock news story.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

god, stealth sleepers, and the big bad wolf.

Melissa won't sleep in her new bed. Technically, she wouldn't sleep in her old bed either, but more frequently than not she'd stay in it all night (I like to believe) because it was just too much of a hassle to haul her little body over the crib rails before making her way down the scary dark stairs into mommy and daddy's room.

But man. All she has to do now is easily slip out of her little bed and casually make her way downstairs. Every night, I talk her to sleep in her hip little toddler bed that I plunked down 90 frickin' bucks for, in the swank new purple room I spent 3 hours painting and 2 hours decorating, and then every night around 2 AM I wake up because someone's smelly little foot just clobbered me in the back or upside the head. ("I like to call these kinds of kids 'stealth sleepers'," says her pediatrician.)

Here's what Melissa claims is the problem:

Me. Because I just had to go and tell her the story of the Big Bad Wolf.

I mean, she loves the story of the Big Bad Wolf and the 3 Little Pigs, particularly the part where the pigs go "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!" It sends her into all kinds of silly giggles, every time (and I so get where she's coming from--I could watch THE HANGOVER a billion times and still laugh up a lung; some stories are just forever classics) (not, sadly, THE HANGOVER 2). Every night she begs to hear this story again (the Big Bad Wolf story, not THE HANGOVER--that story would take way too long to explain to a 2 1/2 year old, and I have no idea how I'd insert Dora or one of the Backyardigans or someone from Yo Gabba Gabba into it, which are all scenarios she frequently demands from me and my story tellings). And she wants me to insert her, Dora, and Dora's monkey friend Boots into the parts of the 3 Little Pigs just so they can all say "Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!" A lot. At this point, Melissa isn't even interested in the real story of the 3 Little Pigs. She wants to be the star of the show.

I do try to innocent-ize it. I always make the Big Bad Wolf say "Dagnabit!!" at the end, and bring everyone chocolate chip cookies so they can eat and be merry and become fast little friends.

Unfortunately, it appears a fear of monsters, ghosts, and things that go bump in the night can be passed on through genetics, and Melissa has received mine. Every night her dad sends her to bed with a hug and a kiss and a piece of wisdom: "Don't be scared. Nothing is scary." And every morning I wake up, I say: "Hey sweet girl. Why the heck are you in our bed? AGAIN??" And every morning she says: "Because the Big Bad Wolf go RAAAH! And he scare me."

If you ask her if she likes her new room she's all YEAH! about it. If you ask her if she likes her new bed, she solemnly (and not a bit dramatically) shakes her head No.

Last night I decided to try a new tactic. We spent 4th of July at my mom's house with my brother and his family. Right before digging into the hot dogs and barbecue chips, my niece and nephew and Melissa said a meal time prayer, and I hear Melissa was the only one of the 3 who actually did it right. Which is so crazy because (a) we don't go to church, (b) we're not really a religious family though we all agree that Something Important is out there and It's willing to guide us through this crazy zig zag called Life if we ask It to, and (c) the only time I ever pray is when I'm in pain or think I'm about to experience some type of pain.

And it's not that I'm anti-prayer. I believe in prayer. I think prayer (when done for good causes and nice reasons) sends all kinds of good and helpful vibes into the general atmosphere, and I also think it's like free psychotherapy counseling. God's a really, really good listener, and a good 80% of the time he gently helps you realize the answer and the power to get what you desire was always inside of you to begin with. (That's a major theme in THE WIZARD OF OZ too, by the way.)

So last night God sent my soul a quiet message, and that message was: Hey Amy, maybe if you tell Melissa about me, I can help her not be afraid of the Big Bad Wolf (which I bet is actually just your cat slinking through the hall past her bedroom door to use the litterbox). And so I did. I explained the concept of God to little Miss M.

I told her she's a part of God, and God is a part of her. I told Melissa God is everywhere: God is in her room, and my room, and in our garage, and at her school, and the playground, and everywhere. I told her God really, really, really loves her. And that God loves everyone: God loves her, me, daddy, all of her cousins, Tasha, her grammy, her grandpa Harry, her grandpa in St. Louis, all of her aunts and uncles, everyone. And that her grandpa Bill and grandma Eula are with God right now, and God loves them and they're helping God protect us all and watch over us.

And so don't be scared, I said. Because God has angels. And if you get scared, all you have to do is tell God you're scared, and he'll send his angels to fight the Big Bad Wolf and make him go away. God will make the Big Bad Wolf run far away, forever! God's really strong.

And then this morning, I woke up and said: "Hey sweet girl. What the heck are you doing in our bed? AGAIN??" And Melissa said: "I scared of God. He eat the Big Bad Wolf."

AAAGH! Foiled again.

Tonight I'm going to tell her the story of Buddha's fighting soldiers. By the time I'm done, I feel fairly confident my child will have some type of phobia about world religions. Just one more thing she can tell the therapist in years to come--I'll be paying good money, so I expect the stories to at least be juicy and surreal.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

From Sweet Little Crosspatch (version #1, posted 5.29.2011)

Right now, I'm watching my daughter nap on the couch. Though there are two loads of laundry in process and our dishwasher is working, the house is a mess: clearly, the Toys R Us fairy has been by and vomited, everywhere. Again.

Her back is to me as she sleeps, and I'm most fascinated by her fee
t. These seem so humongous for a 2 1/2 year old's small body. But then I look at the rest of her and realize, no. It's just that SHE has grown so humongous over the last 2 1/2 years.

Two years ago toda
y, she just learned to crawl. We dropped her dad off at the airport for his annual up-North fishing trip just as we do every year around this time, and that night she decided: Guess now is a good night to start crawling. And she did, right across a room, which made me say out loud, to no one in particular, "Holy crap. Did that baby just crawl across this whole room? I think that baby just crawled right across this whole dang room!" (Time to get out the baby gates, for REALS.)

Then, last year, she was much bigger than the Summer of Crawling. Last summer was Summer of Full-time Toddler World. Full-time toddlers walk, talk, and touch (touching and touching and touching and, oh my god, touching) every. thing. But still, she was so, so small compared to who and what she is now. This summer will be Summer of the Diva. Next summer may be Summer of the Hellcat-Diva, but I can tell. This summer will be so very diva-licious at our house. (I submit the photo at right as evidence.)

(back story: we were headed to the grocery store, and I needed to text her dad some financial info
and also a "hey, we really miss you already!" note, and I asked Miss M if she'd like to say cheese and send a happy picture to her daddy. Clearly, we can see what mood she was in yesterday afternoon) (I like to send a picture of Melissa with these texts...just so's he knows what he's missing.)

Then, last night we went to McDonald's for dinner. I had a terrific headache and was in no mood for cooking, and they have those Playlands, those both wonderful and hideous Playlands (those self-contained, air-conditioned, even-if-they-are-rife-with-god-only-knows-what-types-of-antibiotic-resistant-baceteria Playlands).

Yet I hate McDonald's. Let me reiterate this again: I.
Hate. McDonald's.

Every time I visit, all I can think about is the mass production of food this company has helped to scourge upon our society (which has its own issues with food in and
of itself, with its demands for massive amounts of food and instantaneous gratifications). And then my dilemma when going to this scourge-upon-Earth place for dinner: do I feed Melissa their chicken nuggets (chemically processed, full of nitrates and everything but chicken which I think is actually the 99th ingredient they casually list at the end in a kind of "oh yeah...and we guess there's some "chicken" in this too" way)...or a hamburger (which has been killed under horror-movie-like circumstances at a factory slaughterhouse that employs desperate people willing to work for slave labor wages that is then chopped up and processed/cleaned with ammonia...ammonia, people).

Really, I know she's just there for the fries anyway (more chemically processed, genetically modified food) and the ice cream (most likely produced by dairy farm factory cows under the most dire of living circumstances). And how do I reconcile a dinner of chemically processed junk? This is how: I mean, if I'm going to feed her GMO fried "foods" and foods derived from factory-abused animals, why not j
ust go out and get it all: ammonia hamburger, GMO fries, and hormone-produced ice cream. With a sugar-laden soda or box of juice or hormone-filled junk milk on the side.

I draw the line at their Happy Meals though. She can have a junk cheeseburger and small fries minus the junk toy. She already has plenty of toys. Plus, I think it just encourages Ronald & Co.

I hate this company. And yet I give them my time, my energy, and my money. Why? Because of their frickin' indoor Playlands. They ru
n a racket, and I'm their helpless stooge. But she's so happy to watch at these things, running around on all the bacteria-laden indoor playground equipment. There's 80% less diva behavior. She's screaming in other kids' faces and they're screaming in hers, and everyone's running and jumping, and she's compared to last year. I can feel time slipping away from me. I can feel how it will feel in ten more years: even these McDonald's dinner dates, the ones in which I sit stewing about the vast corporate evilness of the takeover of our food and our food systems and angry at myself for giving in to them simply for the ease of it all...and to see the joy that even evil can sometimes bring a kid. Even these moments will be hazy, sweet memories of a tempermental, diva-like little girl in ten more years.

I really think it's what summertime is all about.

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