Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Our other child just disapproves of everything

Okay, when Mom-101 was depressed a while ago, someone posted a link to these pictures of disapproving rabbits, and it made me laugh. I think Daddymatic hurt himself laughing at them. We wished for a brief moment that we had rabbits of our own so that we, too, could bask in similar disapproval. We realized, however, that having a toddler has given our tabby M a great deal to disapprove of, and so, we present to you...

Rampant Tabby Disapproval

In general, I disapprove of toddlery cuteness.

Yo, twinkletoes. Down in front. I'm trying to disapprove here.

I am especially reproachful of head-butting.

Oh good Lord, it's trying to mount me. I do not approve of being straddled.

Can you smell the disapproval, little boy? Hmmm?

I wholeheartedly disapprove of being infantilized.

I will continue to disapprove after you wake up.
(In fact, I am disapproving as you sleep.)

Come back! I'm not finished disapproving yet.

Monday, October 16, 2006

In which I wax all sentimental about my blogfriends

Every year I go to San Francisco for a spiritual retreat of sorts. I considered not going this year because of of, well, you know, angst and stuff, but I am so, so, so glad I did. I feel the tank of my soul got a really good refill during my retreat on Saturday, and then Saturday night, my tank got the ultimate top-off.

You see, about a year ago, I started reading Sweet Juniper and vowed that the next time I took my annual trip to San Francisco, I would meet them. As you might know, though, I got to meet them on their Great Midwest Move to Detroit instead. But there was still part of me that wanted to get to know some of the bloggers I admire who live in the bay area(ish), mostly because I wanted to see if it’s something in the water that makes for such good writers and, if possible, bottle some of that elixir du blog. So I asked Ann if she was interested in a face-to-face, and she said yes. She used her Blogging Baby connections to hook up with Uncle Roger and L, and we set a time and place for a meet-up party.

Wow. First of all, I can tell you that the pictures I’ve seen over at Granny of Ann fail to reveal the way her face lights up a room when she smiles. Which she of course does often, because she’s either cracking everyone up or talking about her various loves—her beautiful girls, her children and her husband, Ray. She is radiant. Also, it is physically impossible not to hug her. I tried to resist, thinking she might be put off by being manhandled embraced by a total stranger, but I could only fight it so long. She dealt with it well, but then, she’s a pro.

And L would have you believe she’s some frumpalicious housewife in a perpetual state of disarray. This is obviously a tactic to lull one into a false sense of security, so that one will feel like she won’t have to spend an hour picking out an ensemble and choosing Just The Right Shade of Lipstick to look cool enough to hang out with her. This e-persona of L’s is also misleading, because the only person who was frumpy at this gathering was yours truly, who decided not to spend, really, any time selecting an appropriate outfit and decided to wear no lipstick whatsoever.

L. is hip, she is beautiful, and while she claims to be slightly older than me, her skin puts one in mind of that of newborn babies, in that breathtakingly perfect phase the 5 minutes between Wrinkly Newborn and Zitty Infant. Seriously. I am just the kind of person who looks for confirmation that raising three beautiful children makes one’s face look like post-Christmas tissue paper, and I could find none. None. This strikes me as unfair, if only because L is also extremely witty and charming, and such a combination of virtues leaves girls like me with absolutely no competitive edge. Thank goodness all of us were sufficiently intimidated by PostHipChick’s utter coolness to invite her, or I’d have spent the entire party whimpering in a corner.

Uncle Roger and his wife are equally charming and also have painfully adorable offspring. Had I not had a toddler of my own, I might seriously have looked into a lease agreement on their daughter. I mean, she’s two and she was an absolute doll, which suggests to me that these people either live right or have made a deal with the devil. And Roger and his wife Rachel are the kind of people who fall all over themselves with self-deprecating comments which do nothing but reveal how great they are.

You know these kind of people—they so want you to feel better about yourself that you almost believe that they really might not be world-wide-web-reknowned wordsmiths of the first order, and then you catch yourself and sort of shake your head wryly at them, as if to say, “you almost got me that time!” Rachel has this beautiful skin and these big blue eyes and you think to yourself, wow, maybe she can give me some tips on how she gets that look (like she’s, you know, an issue of Glamour and not a human being with needs other than to be objectified by total strangers) and then you find out she doesn’t, in fact, wear any makeup at all ever, and you kind of want to weep.

And so everybody was really nice and totally went out of their way feed my inner Chinese Food Monster and give me directions, rides and free toddler advice. I felt comfortable with them almost instantly, and I was struck again at how amazing it is to have friends whom you feel funny calling friends but who you probably know more about than many of your local acquaintances with whom you use that appellation. Nowhere else do you make friends who, the first time you meet them, ask about your baby and husband and cats BY NAME because, well, they know them already. It is surreal, but it is also why we read and comment and link to each other, because we are searching for connection and understanding and solace. And when we are good and at least a little lucky, we find it.

And when we’re very, very good and more than a little lucky, we get to experience it in person, over steamy bowls of shrimp with black bean sauce and the drone of spongebob squarepants in the background.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Things are better, exhibits A-D

Thanks to all of you who assured me that this is no time to pretend to get trapped under heavy household objects. My readers rock it like the Who.

Proof my son thinks I am way more hardcore than I actually am:

For the first time, D has noticed my tattoo, which is in the shape of an om (in my defense, I got it waaaay before everyone and their brother was getting their cool foreign language character tattoos). He pointed to it the other night and said “Motorcycle.” And I was all, dude, I wish I were that hardcore.

Evidence the boychild will one day be in a fraternity:

When I went to get him up for his nap on Sunday, he had taken off his shirt and was slapping himself on the stomach. And laughing.

Verification that the little dude is almost as bossy as his mother:

Among the two- and three-word combinations D has perfected are commands: his current favorite is to have mommy and daddy play “naptime” and then to demand we “Wake UP, mama.” This clip shows footage of him trying to boss around our striped tabby. Luckily, she is the only being in the house more stubborn than he.

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Data to support the "sometimes my son is too cute for his own good" theory:

Mama: ((yawning))

D: Daddy? Mama sleepy.


Mama: D, are you a tiny baby or a big boy?

D: ((frowning)) Yeah.

In which I am somewhat melodramatic

The weeks since preschool started—or specifically, since I started working—have been incredibly difficult. If you were one of my detractors on the going back to work post, please feel free to gloat. It is hard. Hard in different ways from being a SAHM, but still hard.

Apparently, the boychild is a perfect angel for his teachers. There is even one little girl who, when her parents asked her, “Do you love mommy? Do you love daddy?” responded, “I love Davis.” He is painfully adorable for his father, and sometimes when it’s just him and me, is even so sweet I fear my teeth will instantly rot and fall out of my head.

But not always. Every day when I get home from work, which unfortunately is usually the first time I see him all day, he grins and runs to me. And then it begins: the refusal to hug, the asking for something and then pitching a fit when he gets it, the gagging-slash-whining whose drone sounds for all the world like an ailing Chinook helicopter, the throwing, the running pell-mell into the street, and the tantrumming. I consider slamming my head in the dryer door at least once per day.

I try to stay consistent, explaining to him that when he goes in the street, we have to go back inside, when he throws things, they go bye-bye, and that I will not listen to screaming and tantrums, but I can tell you it is the hardest thing ever, because all I want to do is soak up his essence for a couple of hours in the hopes that it will sustain me through the other 22 hours of the day.

Most times, I’m able to handle it well enough--I laugh it off or ignore the bad behavior completely. But there are days when I don’t want to be responsible and can’t figure out who was nutty enough to put me (however provisionally) in charge, and I either lose it or let him get away with behavior that is incorrigible and doesn’t even have the side benefit of being cute.

Usually by bedtime, however, we are okay again. First, we have a bath, brush his teeth, put on his diaper, lotion and jammies, and turn on his fan. Then we gather up the cadre of creatures who have suddenly become mandatory bedfellows: Lambie has quite the paci-posse now: “Buggy” is a small fuzzy pink bunny with “Barbie” embroidered on its foot, then there's “Ice Bat”(also called “Cookie Monster” on occasion), and “Alligator,” both of whom are Softie-like creatures. Then we read either the bunny story or the “sinewyday!” story, and he turns off the light, announces that it’s “DARK!” and I sing him some songs.

I usually hold him long after he falls asleep, watching his face and smelling the aroma of Clean Sleeping Toddler. It's like I’m refilling a tank it’s only taken an hour to deplete. But as hard as it is, I don’t know if being at home is any better. He clearly loves school, and I like my job and the fact that it’s going to help us get out of debt. I’ve got massive guilt either way. So it’s not that I want to stop just because it’s hard. I just want to know it’s going to get better.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

El Mo

The Mo. (That's what Elmo translates to, right?)

His Royal Mo-ness.


I’ll admit it—I was a nonbeliever. A scoffer. A nay-sayer, if you will. It’s not that I had anything against a certain magenta Muppet Mafia boss (though I confess I find him a bit lower on charm than my old childhood hero, Grover), I just didn’t recognize the scope and vastness of his realm. I mean, I know he's on NPR game shows. He even has his own biography out, people (check out the dude who voices for Elmo. Should he really be that hot?). But I frankly didn’t buy the notion that the vermillion vendor of vowels had become part of the collective American gestalt.

I was wrong.

My child suddenly sees this siren of Sesame Street everywhere, even on his fabulous new boots; instead of accurately naming “Sponge-bum” as the character featured on said footwear, he insists, rather, that it’s “Elmo! ELMO! ELMO!”

But I’m getting ahead of myself: the episode with the boots wasn’t even our first Elmoment. No, that took place one night after I threw some disposable straw sippy cups into our cart at the store. D insisted on holding them, and since he acts as our own personal Customs agent during grocery trips, I obliged. He pointed to the afore-mentioned fiery-furred phoneme fronter and announced “Elmo.” Daddymatic and I looked at each other and said “Who? Who is that on your cup?” “Elmo,” he repeated, in the tone of voice that basically adds “you idiots” to everything he says.

Like other parents who discover such imaginary interlopers, we wondered where, where, WHERE he’d been introduced to the scarlet letter-monger, especially since, as I’ve mentioned, he resolutely refuses to watch TV. A friend of mine insisted that the knowledge and promotion of the squeaky-voiced squirt is an inborn trait, closely linked to whatever has hard-wired her daughter to Disney-princess-worship. Myself, I dunno. I tend to see it as something more viral, something passed on from kid to kid such that it doesn’t even require a child to be Sesame Streetwise—or even in any way knowledgeable about its context.

As long as the Elmeme doesn’t become a kiddie-themed HAL (and you thought the Matthew Perry voice in the Simpson’s house was annoying!), I don’t really care if it perpetuates itself. I mean, what could I really have against the crimson Kaiser of consonants? We could replace Baby Einstein with Elmozart. Elmozilla could be the new kid-friendly web browser. Starbucks could share the love and serve Elmochas, assuming they’d do some profit-sharing with CTW. I figure hey, if it helps the grand poo-bah of PBS, it’s gotta help promote high-quality kids’ programming, and I want D to have that and love it as much as I did.

(okay, I had a precious video of D naming all the Sesame Street critters on his sippy cup, but I'm in it and it was filmed the day before I finally sent the awful 'hair-met' packing, plus I look bloated, so if you really want, you can see it here but otherwise, I leave you with my son explaining that he is dressed in a 0-3 month-sized gown [stolen from his babydoll] because he is a 'tiny baby'. He gives no explanation as to why he's wearing the boots with it, however. Go figure.)

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