Saturday, August 24, 2013

What Moms Really Want

My husband, Quinten, has an August birthday and, for the last several months, I have been trying to come up with ideas for his birthday gift.  He isn’t helping.  We have had various versions of this conversation at least seven times since the beginning of June:

Me:  What do you want for your birthday?
Quinten:  (looking at me like I have asked him to invent cold fusion) I don’t know.
Me:  You don’t even have an idea?
Quinten:  I don’t really need anything.
Me:  (irritated because this is what he always says) Need, SCHMEED!  This isn’t about need.  What do you want? 
Quinten:   Can I think about it?
Me:  You keep saying that.  Haven’t you thought about it since our last conversation?
Quinten:  (looking at me sheepishly because he hasn’t)
Me:  Seriously, if you don’t tell me what you want soon, I’m going to have to resort to just giving you an Amazon gift card and a blow job.
 
Yesterday, after realizing that Quinten’s birthday is a mere six days away and having yet another version of that same conversation, I went to Amazon’s website and prepared to just get him a damned gift card.  Which is when I noticed that Amazon has a “gift ideas” section of the store. 

Fascinated, I started perusing the lists.  I was hoping there might be something on one of those lists that might be more fun than just a gift card to accompany any other little *ahem* presents I might give Quinten.  The lists are quite comprehensive….there are lists by price of gift, personality type, hobby, and relationship (e.g.: gifts for your husband, or your wife, or your mom, etc.).  I was in the middle of not finding anything worthwhile when I got curious.  I mean, what, exactly, was on that list of gifts for Moms?

Well, for starters, Amazon thinks I want a heated blanket.  Oh sure, a heated blanket is just the thing for my three-year-old daughter, Iris, to steal from me so I can remain shivering on the other end of the couch while she is all cozy and warm watching that same episode of Dora the insipid and annoying Explorer for the seventeenth time. 

Evidently, I also want potpourri, tennis shoes designed by Heidi Klum, a travel mug, candle holders, foot massagers, flannel pajamas, cooking gadgets, and kitchen storage & organization. 

Are you FUCKING KIDDING ME???

If by “foot massagers” Amazon means my husband rubbing my right foot and Jon Hamm kneading the left, then yes, by all means, that sounds like a lovely gift.*

Otherwise….just....No.

Really, Amazon?  Candle holders and kitchen organization?  Come on.  You’re better than that. Here, I’ll give you some help.  I give you six things that I would be willing to bet most mothers would actually put on their wish lists:

1.  For 24 Hours, I Wish All the Calories I Eat Would Have an Inverse Effect on my Weight

Some people might merely wish for 24 hours where the calories they eat have no effect on their figure one way or the other.  Me?  I say dream big or go home.  I mean, really, wouldn’t it be an amazing gift if, just temporarily, you would actually lose weight based on how many calories you consumed?  Can you imagine it?  Hmmmm, you’d think, looking at your less-than-flat stomach in the mirror that morning, I could stand to shed a few pounds.  I better...EAT AN ENTIRE CHEESECAKE!!! 

That would be Awesome.
 
2.  I Wish I Could Watch a Whole Television Show or Movie in One Sitting

One of the greatest skills I have developed since becoming a mother is the ability to watch any television show or movie, no matter how detail-oriented or plot-heavy, in five or ten minute increments.  I watched the movie Miss Potter on DVD last month.  And by “last month,” I mean it took me an actual month to watch the movie. 

I turned it on while I was folding laundry one afternoon.  Iris was engrossed in a game that involved her princess toys living in the play castle with her pirate toys and her pony toys.  She’d chased me away from the game several times, so I felt fairly certain that my input was neither needed nor desired.  So, I pressed play, settled in, started folding, and five minutes later:

Iris: (abandoning her toys and climbing up on my chair so she can put her face right in front of mine)  Mommy? 
Me:  (pausing the movie)  Yes?
Iris:  Can I watch a show?
Me:  You watched a show already.  Remember?  We watched Sesame Street together?  Now it’s Mommy’s turn to watch a show. 
Iris:  (whimpering)  But I want to watch my show.
Me:  Well, you have to wait your turn, sweetie.  It’s Mommy’s turn now, and, when Mommy’s show is done, you can have another turn.  Okay?
Iris:  (pouting)  Ooookay.

I started the movie again, and, after another five minutes:

Iris:  (climbing up me like I am a jungle gym)  Mommy?  I want a treat to eat!
Me:  (pausing the movie again)  You already had a treat to eat, honey.  You had a cookie after lunch, remember?
Iris:  But I want a treat!
Me:  No.
Iris:  (changing tactics)  Can I have something fresh?  Like fruit?
Me:  You can have some carrots if you want some.  Do you want some carrots?
Iris:  Yes!

I got up, went to the kitchen, got her some carrots and dip to eat, then sat back down and restarted the movie.  Seven and a half minutes later, Iris started singing the alphabet song slowly and at the top of her lungs.  I turned on the closed captioning of the movie, determined to keep watching.  Iris stopped singing, then:

Iris:  Mommy?
Me:  (pausing the movie) What?
Iris:  Is it my turn now?
Me:  (defeated and turning off the DVD player)  Fine.  Yes, it’s your turn.

We repeated this process, more or less exactly, multiple times over the next four weeks until I had watched the entire film.  While I am proud of my incremental-television-watching skills, I would prefer a less labored method of television viewing.

3.  I Wish I Could Spend Time in the Bathroom All Alone

I want to shower by myself.  And pee alone.  And, dear God please, I want to poop without anyone asking me what I’m doing. 

4.  I Wish I Could Eat My Entire Dinner without Getting Up

It never fails.  After planning the menu, shopping for the all the food, and cooking a meal, no sooner do I sit down and get a single forkful in my mouth when this happens:

Iris:  I have to pee!
Me:  Can you go by yourself?
Iris:  No!
Me:  Yes you can.  You can go by yourself like a big girl.
Iris:  Noooooo!  I caaaaaaannnnn’t!!!!
Me:  Then you must not need to go very badly.
Iris:  (sounding like a petulant teenager)  Fine!  (stomping down the hall to the bathroom where she does, indeed, go pee by herself like a big girl)
Me:  (standing in the doorway to the hallway down to the bathroom)  See! You did that all by yourself! I'm proud of you!
Iris:  Now I need to poop!
Me:  Okay.
Iris:  It's going to be a stinky poop and then you'll HAVE to come in here!


And, because no one should ever trust a three-year-old with the toilet paper after a poop, especially a stinky one, I do go in there.  When I'm done laughing.

When we are done, I sit down and get another bite of food and then, Penny, the puppy, starts whining, and I have to get up to let her out the back door. 

Then Iris spills her drink and I have to get towels to clean it up.

Then Penny barks and scratches at the back door, demanding to be let inside again. 

And then my meal is cold. 

5.  I Wish I Could Sleep Until I Wake Up

You know that thing they tell you about “as your child gets older, you’ll get more sleep”?  It’s a lie.  A bald-faced, disgusting lie.  Bad dreams, blanket tangles, monsters under the bed, drinks of water, midnight potty trips, the Goodnight Fairy, and middle-of-the-night-solo-sing-alongs all conspire to make sure I am, at all times, sleep deprived.  Sleep deprived as in, if I lie down anywhere at all at any time of day, I will fall asleep.  Since Iris was born, I have not once had to use an alarm clock because she IS an alarm clock.  And, these days, mornings frequently involve some pretty tense negotiations:

Iris: (yelling while I wake up, throw off the covers, look at the clock and see that it’s only 6:15am, get out of bed and stumble down the hall to her bedroom) MOOOOOMMM????  IS IT UP TIME??????  MOM??!?  IS IT UP TIME????  IS IT UP TIME????  MOMMY????  IS IT UP TIME???????????
Me:  (opening the door)  Good morning, Iris.
Iris:  Hi, Mommy.  Is it up time now?
Me:  (treading carefully because I want her to go back to sleep for a while and I know tears will ensue if I just say no and then there really won’t be any getting her to go back to sleep for a while)  What if I said it wasn’t up time, yet?
Iris:  But is it up time?
Me:  What if I said it wasn’t?
Iris:  But IS it up time?
Me:  What if it wasn’t?
Iris:  But, Mommy, is it up time now?
Me: (sighing because I am not now, nor will I ever be, winning this debate)  Yes.  (sighing again)  It’s up time.
Iris:  Yayyyyyy!!

I would settle for an afternoon nap.

The thing is, I'm never, ever going to get any of the wishes on my wish list.  Why?  Because of the sixth wish.  The sixth wish is the downfall of every mom everywhere....

6.  I Wish to Trade In All of My Previous Wishes In Order to Wish for Something to Make My Child Happy.

There is nothing I want more than for Iris to be happy.  And I will give up sleep, and privacy, all the hot meals ever made, and a whole lot more to get that.  Because I'm a mom and that's what we do.

Dammit.
 

*The Jon Hamm Foot Massager (TM), while not a real product, SHOULD BE.  We'd make a fortune!  But, I'm pretty sure Jon Hamm would be exhausted.  And I don't know how he feels about feet.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Interviewing Myself on The Pitfalls of Modern Mythmaking

I hear that you have a revolutionary new way to get your child to actually want to go to sleep at bedtime.  Can you share your secret?

Dammit!  Who told you about that?

No one!  I mean…I just…I...I don’t understand.  What’s the problem?

Look, I don’t even want to talk about this.

But, this could be so helpful for other mothers.

No.  No, it can’t.

What do you mean?

I mean….  Wait….you know what?  I’ll tell you.  I’ll tell you alllll about it.  Then you can decide if I am a good example, or a horrible warning.

Great!  So, what’s the secret?

The Goodnight Fairy.

The Goodnight Fairy?  I don’t get it.  I’ve never heard of The Goodnight Fairy.

Of course you haven’t.  I made her up.

You made up a fairy?

Yes.  I did.  And now I hate her. 

How can you hate an imaginary fairy that helps your child go to sleep?

Because she doesn’t.

She doesn’t what? 

She doesn’t help your child go to sleep.  And she didn’t help me get any sleep, either.  Bitch.

Now I’m confused. 

Okay.  Okay.  I guess I should start at the beginning.  See, Iris saw something on Sesame Street or Super Why or one of those shows about the Tooth Fairy.  And, from that point on, it was “the Tooth Fairy this” and “the Tooth Fairy that”; she just wouldn’t stop talking about it.

Does Iris understand about the Tooth Fairy?

Not really.  Well, maybe a little.  The show, apparently, just said that the Tooth Fairy comes and visits kids and leaves something under their pillow.  So, I told her the truth…that she’d have to lose a tooth before the Tooth Fairy comes to visit and she started crying, “I don’t want to lose my teef!!  I don’t want to lose my teef!!”

Awww.  That’s so cute!

No it isn’t!  It is NOT!  She cried for twenty minutes because she was afraid I was going to make her lose her teeth!  It wasn’t cute at all.  Then she cried for another half hour because I explained that the Tooth Fairy wouldn’t come if she didn’t lose a tooth.  Then she cried some more because I told her that it would be years before she lost a tooth.  For those of you doing the math at home, that’s more than a full hour of crying.  Right while I was trying to get Iris to go to bed.  Which is why I made up the Goodnight Fairy.  Because my husband, Quinten, was out of town and I needed the crying to stop and because I needed Iris to go to bed.  Also because I am, apparently, not as smart as I think I am.

What, exactly, is the Goodnight Fairy?

Well, I told Iris that the Goodnight Fairy comes to visit children that go to sleep at bedtime like good little girls and boys.  She asked me if the Goodnight Fairy would bring her a goodie like the Tooth Fairy does. 

And?

And what could I say?  Of course the Goodnight Fairy brings goodies.  But only if you’re good and go to sleep at bedtime.  Iris then theorized that, since they both bring goodies, the Goodnight Fairy and the Tooth Fairy must be sisters.

Are they sisters?
 
Are you high?  They are IMAGINARY.  They are NOT REAL.  They cannot be sisters because they do not exist! 

Well, how did Iris react when you told her that?

Seriously?  I’m not a complete dolt.  I wasn’t going to tell a three-year-old child that fairies aren’t real!  Why would I do that?  Children are supposed to believe in magic and all that other bullshit.  Of COURSE I told her the Goodnight Fairy and the Tooth Fairy are sisters.  It made her happy.  And it was definitely faster than arguing the point with a three-year-old.
 
Was she excited about the Goodnight Fairy?

Sure.  Wouldn’t you be excited if you were going to get a goodie when you woke up?  And, at least that first night, the Goodnight Fairy was successful.  Iris went to sleep like a champ.  I did not hear a peep out of her all night long.  It was like a miracle.  I felt very clever.  All that evening, I congratulated myself on how awesome and creative a mother I was.  I may have toasted myself with my Crystal Light before I went to bed.  I even wrote Iris a note that purported to be from the Goodnight Fairy and left her a little present on her dresser because she’d been such a good girl.

This is amazing!

Yes, it was amazing.  For exactly twelve hours.  Then Iris woke up.

What happened?

Well, the present I’d put on Iris’s dresser was a little toy.  A small My Little Pony figurine I’d purchased and hidden so I could use it as reward sometime (Mom Trick #483).  She really likes My Little Pony and had a number of pony figurines that she was always playing with.  And this one wasn’t just a pony, it was a pony princess.  I thought she’d be thrilled to see it sitting on the dresser with the note from the Goodnight Fairy.  Instead, she cried.

She cried?

Yes.  A full-on, snot-running-down-the-face-screeching-words-you-can’t-understand crying jag. 

Why?

Because Iris thought the Goodnight Fairy would bring her a goodie.

Wait.  There was a goodie, wasn’t there?

Yes.  By my definition, there was a goodie sitting on the dresser.  By your definition, there was a goodie on the dresser.  By Iris’s definition?  Goodie means food.  Preferably something chocolate.    And then things got worse.

Worse?

Yes.  Worse.  See, Iris was very disillusioned and I thought maybe the Goodnight Fairy, having not brought an acceptable goodie the night before, had lost her luster.  I thought maybe Iris wouldn't want the Goodnight Fairy to visit and I could put the whole episode behind me.  I thought maybe I could forget I had ever even tried to be clever.  But I was so completely wrong as to have transcended mere wrongness into something so much worse.  That night, Iris kept asking if the Goodnight Fairy would be visiting her.  Asking and asking and asking and asking.  So I told her that, yes, if she was good and went to sleep at bedtime like she was supposed to, then the Goodnight Fairy would pay a visit.  But, I added, she would not be bringing any food.  Maybe a toy, but no food.  Iris seemed to accept this, but then she said the thing that should have scared me, “I’m going to see the Goodnight Fairy tonight.”  I'm so stupid I didn't even really pay attention. 

I should have paid attention.  Because, at midnight, Iris woke me up with her yelling.  I thought she'd had a bad dream or had fallen out of bed or something.  Adrenaline pumping, I woke up ran into her room.  She was sitting up in bed, grinning, “Mommy?  Is the Goodnight Fairy here?  Can I see her???”  It took me five minutes to get her back to sleep and another half hour for me to get back to sleep.

At 2:00am, I had to explain to Iris that the Goodnight Fairy couldn't come to visit if Iris wasn't actually asleep.  Iris spent twenty minutes singing herself back to sleep while I cursed myself for trying to be creative. 

At 4:00am, after I'd gotten Iris to go back to sleep for the third time, the Goodnight Fairy sat down and wrote Iris a stern note explaining that getting up multiple times a night to try to see a fairy was very, very naughty and Iris wasn’t going to get any kind of treat at all.   

Did the note help?

You tell me.  On the third night, Iris didn't wake up at all.  But, before she crawled in bed, she insisted on drawing the Goodnight Fairy a picture as a present.  And I realized I didn’t have any little toys to leave on the dresser.  While I dug around in the toy closet to see if there was something in there that Iris might have forgotten about and I could pass off as "new," I realized that I really had not thought this thing through.

What do you mean?

You know how the Tooth Fairy only comes when a kid loses a tooth?  Well, kids go to bed every fucking night. 

I don’t get it.

You really aren’t the sharpest knife in the drawer, are you?  What I mean is that there was no natural end to this.  I hadn't built in an out; I hadn't made the Goodnight Fairy visits finite in nature.  See, I didn’t want to give Iris a note and a toy every fucking time she went to bed like a good girl.  That could go on every night for years.  YEARS!  At least until Iris finally figured out that fairies aren’t real.  The way this was playing out, I was going to have to write notes and spend a fortune on little, crap toys because the Goodnight Fairy was never going to go the fuck away.
 
Ohhh.  So, what did you do about that?
 
I had to figure out a reason for the Goodnight Fairy to get the hell out of Dodge.  So, I told Iris that the Goodnight Fairy only comes around to help kids whose Mommy or Daddy are out of town for a while.  That, when Daddy came back from his business trip, that the Goodnight Fairy wouldn’t be coming back.

Did she accept that explanation?

Are you kidding me?  Hell, no!  Quinten has been back for four days now and Iris is STILL asking if the Goodnight Fairy is coming back.  Last night, she decided that, because Quinten was walking our dog, Penny, at bedtime, that he was “Away” and that meant the Goodnight Fairy would come to visit. 

Oh no.  What are you going to do?

You know how, in Peter Pan, Tinkerbell needs applause?  Something like if no one pays attention to a fairy, she dies?  I’m hoping that, if I just don’t talk about the Goodnight Fairy, that bitch will fucking kick the bucket.

That’s kind of evil.  Do you think it will work?

You tell me.  It’s almost bedtime right now, and Iris just brought me a drawing she wants to leave out for the Goodnight Fairy because Daddy is "Away" walking Penny again.  I'm pretty sure I'm doomed.