Showing posts with label raising toddlers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label raising toddlers. Show all posts

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.)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

tippy toe walking through year 3.

Dear Melissa,

Today, you're three. Three! Can you believe it?? Man, this time three years ago, I was pushing. And pushing and pushing. Who knew I was such a good pusher?? We had a really sweet mid-wife, but now I can't remember her name. I remember she had blonde hair, a sweet and soft voice, and looked like she participated in beauty pageants with titles like "Southern Miss Tater Tot Queen." But she turned out to be so much stronger than that; never ever judge a book by its cover.  Because when it was time to really get serious and push you out, she was anything but sweet and pageant-ly; she was completely in command and in control. And I really, really needed that, three years ago today (and also, apparently: a seriously big oxygen were sucking the very life out of me).

Anyway, I needed cool, calm, collected people around me as I had no idea what I was doing. (Confession #1: I still have no idea what I'm doing, with this parenting gig; but it's cool. I like flying by the seat of my pants...unless we're in the car and well, I know you know how mommy feels about that. I can see you're already walking around, nursing a healthy amount of pre-school road rage toward strange drivers on the road, and so I know driving lessons in 13 years are going to go absolutely smoothly...other drivers are crazy, and that's pretty much all you need to know before venturing forth onto Atlanta's freeways).

You've grown so much over the last three years. Some times I think about how you were when we first brought you home, which, if I had to use a summarizing, over all, very generalizing word? Overwhelming. Sorry, m'am, but you were. You were absolutely, completely overwhelming. You made all these little drunk guy faces (highly amusing), you were unpredictable (not as amusing), and your need for breast milk was constant and unrelentless (absolutely,  completely the opposite of amusing).

When we left the hospital, I remember the nurse wheeled us downstairs, into the beautifully sunny, chilly October Sunday afternoon air, and said, "Congratulations, good luck!" And I was all: "Holy moly! They're just letting us take this completely helpless little thing home with us? Like we're baby raising experts? Geez, I hope nobody gets hurt." And then, later, sometimes, late at night, I wondered: what the holy heck have I just done to myself?? And then other times, we'd lay together on the sofa and I'd watch you sleep, and I'd think: "Wow. I kind of made you and stuff. That's so frickin' amazing."

Confession #2: Sometimes I watch you sleep at night, 3 years later, and still can't believe you and I were once one; that you were once a part of me and I was a part of you. And that I, you know, kind of made you and stuff. So frickin' amazing.

And now here you are! You've mastered crawling, you're exiting Phase Toddler, you're walking and running and skipping (like a ballerina, mostly, insisting on getting around the world on your tippy toes, almost exclusively). Hopefully, we won't have to, like, slit your achilles tendon to stretch out those heel muscles like the one physical therapist lady your dad bumped into several months ago said we'd have to do if you didn't start walking flat on your feet...what was up with that chick anyway?? Why the heck would some stranger think it was okay to send your dad into fits of neurotic fear thoughts about the slitting of feet when everyone in the Universe knows how he is about that body area? Plus, now that woman has both of us and all your teachers constantly saying things like: "Walk on your feet, honey." and "Flat feet, remember: Flat feet."

Which is just so flippin' silly because I can so see this from your viewpoint: Uh, hello, mommy and daddy, I AM walking on my feet. Yes, Ms. B, I'm ON my feet. My silly tippy toe feet!) (Though I do think you may end up with some awe-inspiring calf muscles in a few years) (and please know: I often consider tippy toe walking through life right with you--awesome calf muscles are nothing to turn one's nose up at).

Oh, and you are absolutely, without a doubt potty trained more mortifying, unhygienic moments at McDonald's playlands now. (Though I do sincerely wish you would stop being afraid of empty bathrooms in our house and learn to go by yourself...while I'm thankful I can finally do my own business solo, now it's flip flopped, and I'm sitting on the bathroom floor while you do your business. And I'm doing bizarre things like talking to your tummy, begging your pee pee to stop hiding and I say goofball things like come out come out, come out wherever you are, Melissa's silly pee pee) (Though I must say you appear to have amazing Kegel muscles).

What else are you doing now as a big, grown up three year old big girl? Oh yes. You're a critic. A natural-born, argumentative critic who gets indignant about quite a lot. If I say the sky is up, you insist it's down. If I note out loud what a happy girl you are, you yell "NO Mommy! I'm a MAD girl!" And you get so ticked off if someone looks at you at just the wrong moment, and no one can tell when or where or why that moment will be. For some reason only you know, you think being a mad girl is going to get you places. And you know what? You go, mad girl. Because sometimes I wish I had more mad girl in me, too. Saying "No" is not a fear for you, being a people pleaser is simply not part of your repetoire right now, and I like that about you.

You are afraid of Tasha, for some odd reason. You know: Tasha, our gentle, ancient, aging black cat who sleeps 15 out 24 hours per day and is afraid of bugs. The one who walks through the house at 3 am mourning her life and occasionally throwing up on everything. I suppose she's the closest thing you'll ever have to a sibling. Tasha is basically just your big, dorky, annoying, little sister. And sometimes you'll sit on our couch, look over and see Tasha licking herself, and you'll let out a blood curdling scream. And when we ask you, "Melissa, why are you screaming at Tasha?" you usually respond with, "Because I scared of Tasha. Tasha is the big bad wolf." (Okay, fine. She is kind of spooky--especially when all the lights are off and she jumps out of a corner at you and you had no idea that was coming...or when all the lights are on, but she's lying in a dark corner of the hallway and all you can see are her ghostly yellow I think the next time I see Tasha I'll scream in her general direction, too.)

Man, Melissa. The Big Bad Wolf...this is a running theme for you right now, and you have a love/hate relationship with this scary guy. You love to act out the 3 Little Pigs story, and you're getting so awesome at the re-telling of Little Red Riding Hood. But you're reluctant to go anywhere there's even the remotest chance of bumping into the Big Bad Wolf in a dark corner. And apparently, the Big Bad Wolf runs our house once the sun sets.

Or even after the sun rises: this morning the sun was shining brilliantly but the bathroom simply wasn't quite bright enough; you were sure the Big Bad Wolf (aka Tasha) was waiting in the depths to pounce on you.

But please know: I so totally get you! Because honestly, I can't go into that bathroom either without  flicking on a light. What is up with that room? And YES! The upstairs part of our house IS totally creepy! I don't know what that is. It could be some weird vibes from your dad's office area. Or maybe on one of my ghost hunting adventures I inadvertantly brought something home. We'll never know, and your dad says we can't move right now, the timing's wrong and the housing market bubble bursting has made our house worth cat poop. So we'll do some spiritual cleansing rituals up there when it's time for us to kick you out of our bed; I'm not sure these actually work, but at this point, anything will help. I'm tired of waking up with your feet in my face.

Also, some nights, when your dad is out of town on a business trip, you know: we sleep with almost all the lights on in the house. I'm sorry, sweet girl. I've totally passed on my irrational fear of ghosts and bumps in the night on to you. Plus, I watch way too many episodes of Ghosthunters and Ghosthunters International. Though I do stay away from that over the top stuff, like Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures. One day, after you've conquered all your irrational fears, we'll watch it together and talk about scientific ghost hunting vs. travel channel crap ghost hunting. There's a huge difference.

Today, I'm taking you to the Fox Theatre to see Brobee, Foofa, Tootie, Plex, Muno, and DJ Lance of Yo Gabba Gabba. You love these bizarre monsters and I have no frickin' idea why. I mean, I get DJ Lance--he's kinda funky, a coolio hipster kind of guy. But that one eyed red monster-y guy? And the green unibrow dude? Who you're absolutely in love with? Oh dear.

Also, you're obsessed with Dora, Diego, Elmo, and several Disney Princesses and Fairies. I'm currently most concerned about your fascination with the Princesses. The red phallic-like and unibrow monsters I can deal with; even the fairies I get. Fairies are sort of cool, with their magical powers and sparkly wings. But pink tiaras, Melissa?? Seriously. And princesses??? I'm worried we're only 3 years in and I've already failed you...who frickin' introduced you to Disney's version of a princess??? Don't say it! Do not say it. I totally have that daycare kid's name and face in my head right now. You are SO not going to her next birthday party, I don't care if she has 10 pinatas, free pony rides, and a real train. Wrong-headed peer pressure: it starts so early for 21st century kids.

But I'm glad you're a 21st century kid! You're going to have an amazing life. And what I want most for you, what I imagine for you at this point, is really just a life filled with curiosity, being unafraid to ask questions and take risks, make mistakes and learn from them, take stuff apart and learn how it works. And I want you to try anything you want to try--even if you want to wear pink tutus and dance ballet. And don't even worry if the genetic pool you got has you ending up with the opposite of a ballerina's body (because who the heck is really happy in a ballerina's body anyway...I'm sure you could poll any ballerina and they'd be really sad about how many cupcakes they consistently miss out on). And! Tippy toe walking could be our sign you are actually headed to the New York City Ballet (just please: not as a princess).

You're smart. You're sure of yourself. You're independent and--other than bathroom trips--fairly self-reliant. You're going places, and I'm so glad the Universe picked me to be your mommy to guide you through it all. Oh, and you're an obsessive milk drinker (it's the only thing you want to drink right now), so I know you'll grow up with really calcium-fortified bones. And that's good.

I love you, sweet Melissa. And I'm so proud of you and all you've learned and accomplished over the last 3 years. I know you're proud of you, too. You're growing up into a really awesome kid who's going to do great things, and I'm really happy I get to go along for the ride.

Happy birthday and love,

Saturday, August 27, 2011

hot snippets of bucket.

First, kind of an apology: it was brought to my attention that last time's post was far too long and a tad too political...for someone who was complaining about people being political (I blame my inner angry hippie for all moments like these). But there were a few highlights/thumbs up (for those who missed it) I've been told were effective: the online politics between my (sarcastic butthead of a) brother and myself, the naming of gay people's political protest glitter sprinkles as "Pixie Dust of Angry Love" (this actually was fairly clever, if I can say so myself), and my rock star design ideas for the Oval Office (seriously, friends, if crazed Texan/used-car-salesman-looking Rick Perry ever gets in there, I feel fairly certain he's going to be all over my electric blue/red and the silver disco ball in the middle design plan...I'll throw in some cowhide rugs and several huge ten gallon hat commissioned paintings; I am acutely aware of how over-the-top most Texans love it).

So now I've gotten that off my chest, let's move on to some apolitical general August updates:


1-It's frickin' hot, people. And I'm in a classroom trailer area, and that area is always about 120 degrees hotter than everywhere else on the planet--some areas areas of the world are wind tunnels. The classroom trailers at my school are one giant heat tunnel. Air conditioning is a human right in my area of the world. In fact, at this point, I'm way less concerned about our nation's growing debt and jobs problems than I am about the fact that we continue to insist on starting school here smack dab in the summer heat, during the most godless period of ridiculously ridiculous humidity.

I've heard insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results each time, and I'm convinced this is what continues school districts here to keep trying to start school at the end of July/beginning of August. And while I'm no internationally recognized economist (you're welcome, world economy), I'm pretty sure starting school after Labor Day or, what the heck, after Halloween, would shave off at least a gabillion dollars from the state education budget in air conditioning costs alone. It's too late for this school year, but I know we can do it for 2012-13, with proper leadership (i.e., not me: I'm just a little old worker bee who likes to complain a lot).


2-I have morning bus duty this year. It's a fairly intense duty, because of various weather-related issues (see my heat complaint above, #1) (later, in January, I will issue forth a general complaint about school being in session during icy months), but I'm starting to kind of enjoy it because I am privy to the inner mind workings of so many children exiting the buses. Just based on various snippets I've caught here and there, I really think we're going to be okay as a country if/when some of these young stars take over.

Some recent samples:
4th? or 5th? grade girl: ...all these fools talking about the end of the world. Well it better not be on a Friday. School's the last place on earth I want to spend MY last hour. (I really wanted to high five her for this because, uh heck yeah! But I'm not familiar with 4th/5th grader psychology--would that have made her terribly uncool, to have a strange teacher come up to her and high five her before class even started?)

three 2nd? 3rd? grade girls walking in row, girl in the middle speaking: ...I'm not going to have a baby. I'M going to adopt. (Girlfriend, right on! Your body will so thank you, particularly if you're in your late 30s when you do it.)


3-Melissa has learned to cuss. And, like most everything she starts doing, she doesn't go small. No, this time she's headed for the big one. The F dash dash dash word, and I don't mean Fork, Four, or Fart.

I must take partial blame for this; I had terrible road rage when she was ages 0-2. I never held back because I figured small babies have swiss cheese memories as their brains are in the beginning stages of development, and small toddlers too. But apparently I've been gifted with an obstinate, future actress who lives to shock others, and she's discovered the F dash dash dash word is just the ticket.

This morning for instance, she didn't want to take her breakfast plate into the kitchen. And so I asked her (tip #1 for new parents of overly opinionated toddlers: Do NOT ask them why not--under any and all circumstances), "Why not?"

And she replied all casual-like, "Because F dash dash dash you, mommy."

Okay, so here's where I do NOT take blame. I'm sure she knows the F word from our driving lessons over the last two years or so. That's all me, I admit it, guilty as charged, I'm sure there's a special place in Hell for mommies like my classy self. However, I know for a heck of a road rage FACT I have never, at any point, ever told another driver in another car that she or he could or should or must "F dash dash dash you."

I suspect another kid in her daycare class. I find these people are always the easiest scapegoats to point at for most everything (tip #2 for new parents of toddlers): Is your kid suddenly throwing around expletives? Daycare friends. Flinging poop on your walls? Daycare peeps. Refusing to stay in own bed at night, blaming it on fear of the Big Bad Wolf? Daycare homies.

Anyway. She said it, and I was all "(GASP!!) What did you just say??" And she giggled and said it again, louder this time, with great amounts of more confidence and self-sure emphasis.

So we're trying not to make a big deal of when she throws the word around because, first of all, words are important tools for toddlers. They're just learning to navigate Life's crazy, twisty turns and some days, "No!" and "I don't want to!" and "F-dash dash dash it!" are all the power they have to wield in a world that simply refuses to recognize their importance--toddlers are China, and we adults are like one big G8 summit refusing to let them in on the big secret.

And second of all, C and I are convinced she still thinks the word she's shocking everyone with is "bucket" or a variation thereof. In fact, I fully anticipate her exiting a school bus one day while spouting off worldly wisdom to some friends as they walk by the teachers on bus duty. And I fully anticipate her throwing in the word bucket at the end of whatever wise-for-her-age thoughtful thoughts she shares, because she'll remember that when she was a mere 34 months old, the word bucket always made her mommy's eyes get big, and so she'll be sure the word bucket makes her sound all grown up and hip. And I'm totally okay having some teacher write all that up in a blog one day.

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.
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