Wednesday, April 21, 2010

kid related facebook posts - jan 1 till april 21st

why are neither of my children wearing pants?

doing taebo with the toddlers is like mixing kickboxing, aerobics, and a drunk game of Twister

the first rule of Candy Land is never cry about Candy Land

now he has swallowed a metal marble. I'm adding Poison Control's number to my phone now because, let's face it, its only a matter of time...

my 3 year old says that when I "really grow up" I will be a "Dinosaur Assistant" and he will be a "Train Taker". Izabella added that she will be a "Baseball Game". At least she's settled on something sporty. I think "train taker" means hobo. Later when my husband said he wanted to be a daddy when he grows up, ron2 said "I don't want you to be a daddy forever. You should go do something else". Nice to see them value all we do for them.

after singing along with the lovely soothing line "peace runs through me like a river" iza says "peas?!" and laughs hysterically.

I think its funny when pediatricians put clown fish in their aquariums. surely they realize the kids will think its Nemo. don't they know the plot of that movie?

just found my 2 year old daughter talking to herself ("I think I take a shower. my daddy takes showers but not now cuz he at work. he work on his computer...") while sitting inside the pots/pans cabinet wearing sunglasses

riding home in the car, I tell my kids "I love you so much!". my 3yr old replies "why are you always saying that? you said it in summer, you said it in spring, you said it in fall. now its winter and you keep saying it? we know!". then my 2yr old says "good job mom". little teenagers trapped in toddler bodies, I swear

a week after trying to explain heritage to ron2 he asked "why do I have all those countries inside of me? you know, african, irish..."

ron2 explaining his painting "and this is the baby. she's behind the rainbow. I know that doesn't make any sense but that's what it is."

hates when toddlers cry, whimper, and/or yell at their brother in their sleep ("Nonald, it mine! mumble mumble cry You no touch! mumble mumble snore...")

ron2 mixed up heaven and outer space and said he wanted to "travel to Outer God"

my toddlers invented an imaginary friend named Marta who called them repeatedly on their play phone until they decided "she calls too much, that Marta." ("yeah she's crazy!") and stopped answering.

when I picked up the kids after working out at the Y ron2 said "mommy! your belly isn't fat any more. good job!" then he warned me not to eat sweets anymore because then my belly will get fat again.

my kids just bit and hit each other to settle a dispute over whether to turn on an IMAGINARY tv set. at least they fully embrace creative play.

waiting for my flight to boston, I realized with some panic that I hadn't brought a stroller for the kids! then I remembered I also hadn't brought the kids so I would probably be alright.

ron2 has started winking at me and calling his sister "Baby Girl"

Ron2 talking on his play phone: "Hi Mercer. (pause) Yeah. (pause) Yeah, man. I know! I was like "Whoo Hoo!". (pause) I know! (laughter)" Then to me: "That was Mercer. He just told me the funniest thing I have ever heard in my life! I was like 'That was crazy, Merc man, that was so crazy'. Oh Mercer." Then he took another call...

after jumping off the swing and announcing "swings are cool!" iza turned to me and said "you're cool too mom." sometimes this is a very well paying job indeed.

I reconsider my general stance on the "nature vs nurture" question when my toddler son goes into the bathroom and pees in the garbage can. (He loves peeing in garbage cans. He gets in trouble for it all the time. But his usual excuse is that he felt he couldn't get to the bathroom in time. Since he was IN the bathroom this time he simply said "its too late. I already peed in the garbage so don't even worry about it".)

popcorn kernel in the eye, penny adhered to the roof of the mouth, swallowed metallic marvel, and now: Honey Nut Cheerio wedged up the nose. ("to stop the buggers", apparently).

how do you introduce the premise of Easter traditions (painted eggs, giant bunnies...) to toddlers? it is all so absurd. they look at me like 'WTF mom?'

he is STILL doing april fool's 'jokes', which generally entail saying something that isn't true ("mom, I spilled oatmeal on the floor!"), asking "wait what am I supposed to say?", getting clarification from me, and then yelling "April Fool's" at the top of his lungs. fun for all.

watching the news with his father my 3 year old says "dad, I don't understand the iraq and afghanistan wars". you and me both, kid.

all day my kids have looked at a toy watch and made decisions based on the fact that it is "almost eleven and a half".

today my kids hung out in the play area at the Y, went to their favorite playground, and picked new books at the library. I asked iza what was the best part of the day and she said "I liked the part when daddy came home". my favorite part too, to be honest.

tried to tell my kids fairy tales and realized that I don't actually know how many of them end. repunzal, rumplestiltscan, hanzel and gretel... i'm fuzzy on the details and confused about the life lesson. I think I just taught my kids to grow long hair, to never promise away their first born child, and to avoid either old ladies or the forest. that should serve them well in life right?

I blame tia majo for teaching my kids to pick flowers as little gifts to me. i turned my attention to a phone call while on our walk today and they enthusiastically beheaded half the front yard gardens on Darlington Road. how do you chastise children who are handing you a lovely bouquet?

I told my back-talking daughter "shut your mouth" and ron2 said "mom, that's not nice language. I know you didn't say 'shut up' but its still rude words and i'm worried about it"

ron2's latest scientific investigation: "mom, what do you know about removing shadows? I don't want mine to keep following me but I can't figure out how to take it off". I introduced him to the shadow destroying power of shade, much to his delight.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Faking Hide and Seek

My toddlers play Hide and Seek like they are the adults. They hide only somewhat obscured, behind throw pillows or under the thin knee-length bedroom curtains, where they are clearly visible and sure to be found. At first, I thought this reflected a tenuous relationship with object permanence (are they only half-hiding because they are afraid they might otherwise totally disappear?) but then I watched them Seek. I mean, I watched them fake Seek. After standing with their eyes squeezed shut, covered by their hands, AND facing the wall (we take “no peeking” very seriously), after counting slowly through a series of random out-of-order numbers, they launch an overstated and loudly narrated search of only the most unlikely places.

“Is She In My Pocket?” (pause for searching)
“Noooo. Not In My Pocket! Is She On Top Of The Dresser?” (pause for searching)
“Noooo. Not On Top Of The Dresser!”

Each failed search is a shocking revelation! Then, with the same feigned commitment to the task, they voice fake frustration: “Oh Where Could She Be? I Just Can’t Find Her!” or get all existential and muse on the implications of a failed search: “What if I can’t find her? I guess she’ll just stay missing forever! What will I do with no Mommy? Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to keep looking just in case….” Throughout the game, round after round, they keep looking, carefully avoiding the obvious Hider (who is often reusing the same obvious hiding place), till every impossible place has been thoroughly searched. Sometimes this goes on so long that the Hider can’t help herself. She jumps out of hiding (“Here I am!”) and everyone authentically giggles at the (fake) surprise.

They play Hide and Seek like all adults tend to play, pretending we are capable of loosing entire human beings in our own living room and fretting over this possibility in exaggerated tones. But, unlike adults, they aren’t humoring someone else. They want to play again and again because fake Hide and Seek requires a certain dramatic flair that makes pretending to play even more fun than actually playing.

I can relate. I have been playing a game of faux Hide and Seek with my dissertation advisor for years. I hide out, pretending she can’t see how little progress I’m making toward completion. She pretends to look for progress with cheerful and vague emails that ask how I’m doing or if I’d like to “meet to talk”. Sometimes she narrates blatantly to reinforce the ruse (“You’ll surely have a chapter by the end of January!” or “You write fast. You’ll make fast progress.”). Occasionally the tension of fake hiding becomes too much and I jump out (“I’m behind schedule!”) and she authentically reassures me despite her (fake) surprise. “It gets easier the more you write” she says “Everyone goes through this.”

I picture dozens of graduate students trying to stay perfectly still, taking only shallow breaths, their faces buried in the literature they’ve already read or the rewrites of a section they’ve already rewritten or the TV or their pillows. They pretend noone knows that they are hiding there but the tension of hiding (yes, even fake hiding) builds up until they can’t stand it anymore. And all around them people keep pretending to seek with kind questions about how the work is coming along or when they’ll be done with their “little paper”. So many endless rounds of this!

Yet we keep playing because let’s face it: pretending to write a dissertation requires a certain dramatic flair and sometimes that is just a whole lot more fun than actually writing.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Why I shouldn't watch Helen Hunt movies

Since Middle School, I've been trying to make mild depression seem romantic.

Honestly, I'm not sure I even suffer from depression. More exactly, I'm VERY sure I either suffer from serious depression or none at all but, in either case, when feeling stuck in the thickness of my head, wearing three day old sweatpants, watching (but not following the plot of) old TV sitcoms, staring down piles of laundry wondering how televised housewives can match socks with such easy enthusiasm, and feeling like even the smallest movement will set off a thin ragged fault line through myself, in those moments, I want depression to seem romantic.

I blame the old movies they showed us in health class: made-for-TV (or worse: Made-for-Health-Class) films depicting reluctant suicidal teens charming poorly-dressed psychiatrists or sweetly dispositioned anorexics captivating loving gymnastics coaches. When Helen Hunt jumped through that window or that odd alcoholic girl drunk-rode her horse down Main Street, I thought personal problems never looked so good. Those movies made me think being troubled (being crazy?) wasn't too unusual a state of mind to make work.

Then, later, Helen Hunt again, with what I call The Twister Complex. Remember the movie Twister? Hunt is all gorgeous and brave, chasing tornadoes and flipping over cars, but (like 99% of the professionally successful women characters in film) she uses her work to hide from the emotional risks of her love life. Enter Romantic Interest, so drawn to her recklessness and beauty! Enter Romantic Interest, to save her from herself! He grabs her out of the mouth of a tornado (oh the metaphor!), confronts her emotional reluctance as rain soaks her thin T-shirt (oh the drama!), and makes her give love a chance despite her deeply broken heart (oh the romance!). The Twister Complex is when you perfect being beautifully broken to the point where other people are irresistibly drawn to fixing you. See the appeal?

Although he is totally the Run-Through-Tornadoes type, my husband met me when the metaphorical skies were clear. In fact, he met me at the absolutely most healthy moment in my life (perhaps the most healthy day) when, all confidence and cunning, I asked him when the Martin Luther King Jr holiday would fall that year (I already knew the answer). After that, I kept arranging lunch dates until, tired of waiting for him to make the first move, I showed up at his office unexpected and asked for a goodnight kiss. I actually said "I've come to get a goodnight kiss". He complied willingly without, he now assures me, any sense of being stalked.

The Best First Kiss Ever.

This was a time in my life when I was confident and relaxed, thinner than I'd been since Middle School, prone to jogging for fun and laughing over small delights like they were all that mattered. This was a time when I made all the important moves (going to graduate school, getting my own apartment, eating healthy, falling in love) with a confidence and easy enthusiasm you'd never see in Health Class. This was the best kiss from the best man and I didn't have to do anything to seem more romantic than I actually was.

Comparatively, this all made any future Twister Complex harder to pull off. Now when my husband comes home to find me eating brownies, my hair tugged into a sloppy ponytail, a shadow of izabella's yogurt (or is that snot?) still smeared across my sleeve, and dirty dishes stacked by the sink, neither of us think "How Reckless and Beautiful!". Now depression seems boring and tasteless, nothing worthy of the time it slowly chews on and swallows. To make depression seem romantic now I'd need to wear heels and bolder lipstick, I think, or maybe a wet Tshirt? Short of that, mildly (seriously? not-at-all?) debilitating moodiness just doesn't seem worth a rescue mission.

So I try, depressed or not, to keep my family in matched socks and clean dishes. I try to shower whenever needed, watch less TV, and write whenever I can. I try to make phone calls, leave the house when the sun shines, and play games with the toddlers. And instead of trying to make depression seem romantic, I try to find romance in the rare unexpected order of take-out and in my husband's unflappable optimistic belief that this too shall pass.

Still, you better believe that if ever faced with the opportunity to dodge a tornado-tossed cow and tracker combo I am totally going to make depression seem romantic. Timing is everything.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Parenting Izabella - when everyday is a carnival ride

Early last week, to celebrate their half birthdays, my toddler son and daughter gave themselves haircuts. They stole the kid-safe craft scissors out of the art supply cabinet and delighted in snipping off long 6 inch strands of her curls and short little puffs of his newly-professionally-cut hair. Down to the scalp.

He ended up with a dashing dart of baldness across the side of his head and the thinest sliver of skin where a little curl used to sit at the center of his forehead. Looking at him now you might think "Clumsy Barber" or, knowing better, you'd laugh (Ha Ha!) at the whimsical carelessness of youth. Darling child.

She ended up with a four-by-three inch path blazed down the center of her head riddled with nickle-sized bald patches and moody quarter-inch hair tufts that zigzagged madly upward. Looking at her, you might think "This is what the mullet would look like if anyone other than white people had tried it" or, knowing better, you'd cry (Dear God!) at how quickly something so beautiful could be so thoroughly trashed. It was her very first haircut.

I, of course, cried. Sobbed actually. Sobbed on and off for over an hour while I called friends and family to bemoan (dramatically) how ill-equiped I am for adult responsibility. ("I was doing dishes! I never get to do dishes! All i tried to do was do my dishes and now they are Bald! Bald! Do you understand? My babies are Bald!" or "What am I supposed to do? Last month Ron2 got an unpopped popcorn kernal in his lower eyelid! Before that he got a penny adhered to the roof of his mouth! and now this! He just got a haircut. There isn't any hair left on his head - how did he cut what he has with those tiny dull little scissors? How can I save them from themselves when they keep doing things that aren't even physically possible!?") My friends and family said tried to reassure: "No. It isn't your fault. Kids do these things. Well, okay, so kids don't do THESE things so much as far less absurd versions of these things. But someday you'll look back and think its funny. Its actually funny now. Describe her hair to me again. Can you send pictures? It's freaking funny, really, i mean, i'm sorry i'm laughing but... Tell me again what he said when you found them..."

I briefly contemplated moving to New York where my mother could help me raise these little wayward balding babies. But then I rallied. On principle, I insist on raising them myself, well, raising them as long as they survive, which suddenly didn't seem likely to be long. Post-Haircut every household object seemed menacing. No amount of childproofing could save them from themselves if they insisted on such reckless creativity. My only hope is Ron2's judgement. When I first discovered their joyful game (Iza said "Look Mommy! I cutting!" I said "Good Baby, what are you cutting?"), he mumbled under his breath "I knew I shouldn't have listened to Izabella. I knew it!" (Suddenly I see us outside a police station, she's 16, he'd tried to stop her from going to that party, wait, no, he'd tried to stop her from breaking into the zoo afterhours but she said they'd be back home before anyone knew they were missing and wouldn't it just be so much fun to see the animals at night?...) Now, seeing me cry as I held handfuls of Iza'a hair up to the heavens (why god why?), Ron2 hung his head remorsefully and patted my arm ("It's okay mommy. Izabella wanted to cut her hair.").

Iza, true to form, was nothing but Adventurous Charm in response to the crisis. She put on her tattered princess costume, danced on the dining room table, stole my phone to begin a riviting game of chase, etc etc. At first I thought she didn't even care that I was upset but later, in a quiet moment over lunch, she gravely said "I cut my hair" and then confessed to stealing and eating half a box of tic-tacs and two pieces of gum. Then: Remorse Iza Style. For the rest of the day, she'd spontaneously jump to me and plant fat enthusiastic noisy kisses on my cheeks.

Let me be clear - the kisses do not make the hair cut worth it and I wouldn't think twice before trading this funny memory for an intact head of gorgeous curly hair. But today, when I tried to fold laundry, Iza took the saddle off the cloth-covered rocking horse, removed her pants and diaper, and rode bare-back bare-butted while singing the title song to her school's xmas pageant ("He's the Messiah! Dum dah dah. He's the Messiah!"). And even though she wasn't on a real horse and even though she doesn't really have hair, I could see her riding through an open field, wind blowing through her hair, sun kissing her skin, iza sqeezing every joyful bit out of life. In that moment I knew her spirit is going to spare her more trouble then it's going to get her into.

Thank God she looks good in headbands.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Conversations with the Madness Twins

Riding in the car, with my 2 year old (I) and 3 year old (R), trying to understand why my three year old has been having 'accidents' after many months of successful potty-going:

ME: How does it feel before you pee your pants?
R: when i pee my pants it feels wet
ME: no i mean, before you pee. does it surprise you or do you feel it coming?
R: my penis doesn't feel it coming
I: what I have?
ME: you have a vagina
I: my vagina not feel pee
ME: so, ronald, the pee surprises you?
R: yes
I: what does ronald have?
ME: ronald has a penis. Ronald, does it hurt when you pee?
I: what does aunt jackie have?
ME: aunt jackie has a vagina
R: no it doesn't hurt
ME: do you know why you don't make it to the potty?
I: what does daddy have?
ME: daddy has a penis
R: I don't make it to the potty because I forget the pee is coming
I: what do you have?
ME: I have a vagina
I: what does mamma have?
ME: mamma has a vagina. Ron, you'll try to make it to the potty next time?
I: what Ms. Crystal have?
ME: Ms. Crystal has a vagina
R: okay i'll make it to the potty
I: what mikey have?
ME: Mikey has a penis. Good, ron. You can be responsible and have no more accidents. I know you can do it.
I: What Ms. Margee have?
ME: Ms. Margee has a vagina....

Monday, November 2, 2009

drinking the expired hot chocolate - a low point

I sit so hunched over that my chin rests on my coffee cup. To be fair, it is a tall coffee cup, big and fat, Handpainted In China, and tall enough to hide an incredible amount of hot chocolate. Years ago, my grandmother gave me this cup and a matching cake plate, explaining that "a woman needs these for when she wants a little something sweet just for herself." I'd never had any trouble eating sweets off of everyday dishware but, still, I was grateful for the general idea: Treat yourself special, she was saying.

I'm not sure preparing expired hot chocoloate mix in boiling water as a strategy for avoiding major life responsibilities was what she had in mind. Sigh. I sink deeper into the rim of the cup, letting the chipped porcelin leave strange dimples in my chin. Today I am supposed to be Getting Things Done. Instead I pace my apartment, break open a bag of potatoe chips, search my kitchen cabinets for dinner ideas that don't require ingrediants, and return to my Coffee Cup Perch for rest. This is not what I thought I'd be like at 30. Drinking the expired hot chocolate with potatoe chips? Seriously?

I have two toddlers to raise and a dissertation to write and job applications to submit. I have dishes and laundry and bedrooms to clean. I have Halloween photos to upload and emails to read. I have a husband to love and friends to call back. and I need an oil change. This is no time for an existential crisis! I sit up straight in my chair, set aside the hot chocolate, and decide my grandmother was right. Sometimes a woman does need to treat herself special.

I think she meant we are all supposed to upgrade our procrastination techniques to include melodramatic blogging. At least that way we have something to show for ourselves.

Entering the void

When I was in middle school, I wrote DO NOT READ all over the cover of my diary in the hopes of enticing someone to read it. That was before there were blogs.