Wednesday, January 29, 2014

And the Truth Shall Make Me Want to Curl Up In a Corner and Eat Every Marshmallow Ever

I am in so much trouble. 

It’s bad enough that I am well aware of my own faults andbad behaviors, but now Iris, my daughter, who is not even four years old yet, has started to notice them and point them out. 

Look, I already know I am not the most pleasant person in the morning and I sometimes say I will do something “in a minute” when I really mean I will do it “as soon as I finish reading this article and play a game of Sudoku.”  And I don’t really wish to be reminded that I am not as polite as I should be, or as nice as I want to be, or that I am a much more horrible parent than I intended to be. 

But, as I now live with a pint-sized busybody, I am reminded.  Every day.  All day.  Often loudly. 

Honestly, I thought it was cute when she started doing it to my husband, Quinten. 

Iris: Daddy, why do you drink so much coffee and beer??  Normal people drink water and juice and milk.
Quinten:  What do you mean so much??
Me:  (attempting to come to Quinten’s defense) I drink soda! Does that make me not normal?
Iris:  No, only Dad is bad.

It was totally unprovoked, too.  We were in the car and no one was drinking anything at the time.  Apparently, it was just something she’d been contemplating.  I think I giggled for half an hour.  Poor Quinten spent a couple of days asking me if he drank too much coffee. 

But, then, this happened while I was on the phone with my mother (in my defense, I was doing laundry at the time):

Iris: Grammy, I have to tell you sumping… (shouting at the phone receiver)  MOMMY’S NOT WEARING ANY PANTS!!!

A few days later I tried to sneak one Cheeto (just ONE) off of her plate when we were eating lunch together at Subway.  I tried and failed.  The sneaking part.  I failed the sneaking part.  The eating a Cheeto part I did just fine.  But, the response was,

Iris: (in the car, 20 minutes after we had left the restaurant, in an accusatory tone) Mom, you took my ma’Cheeto!
Me:  I’m sorry, sweetie.  It was just one.

Iris: (at home 3 and a half hours after the incident in question, lip quivering) I’m sad, Mom, because you took my ma’Cheeto.
Me:  I said I was sorry, sweet pea.  You got to eat all the other Cheetos, though.

Iris: (to Quinten, the next day) Mom took my ma’Cheeto!!
Me:  That was yesterday and I’ve already apologized.  Let it go.

I guess I was unprepared for how observant she has become.  And she’s like a ninja about it.  Even when you think she’s not paying attention, even when she’s facing the other direction and looking at something else entirely, she’s noticing what you are doing. 

For example, during our recent cold snap, I introduced Iris to hot chocolate with marshmallows.  And, of course, it immediately became her favorite drink.  Because why wouldn't it?  But there are times to drink hot chocolate with marshmallows and times to not drink hot chocolate with marshmallows.  And one of the times to not drink hot chocolate with marshmallows is right before bedtime.  Which, of course, means that, last week, right before bedtime was exactly the time that Iris decided to beg for hot chocolate with marshmallows. Beg and beg and beg and plead and implore and screech and howl and beg some more.  As I was not interested in dealing with a sugar high right while I was trying to get her to go to sleep, I said no. 

Now, I’m not going to lie, I am a fan of the hot chocolate with marshmallows.  At times when I cannot actually have the hot chocolate with marshmallows, I will settle for just marshmallows.  At times when I don’t even want hot chocolate with marshmallows, I will still eat just marshmallows.  And Iris has, it seems, inherited my practicality in this matter.  When I told her she couldn’t have hot chocolate with marshmallows, she went the obvious alternative route of asking if she could just have a marshmallow.  I suppose I could have just said no.  But, it had been a long day.  A long, long day.  And I just didn’t have it in me to deal with another round of whiny entreaties.  So, I told her we didn’t have any more marshmallows.

That’s right, I lied.  I lied to my child.  Right to her face.  And she just accepted it!  She just accepted the lie and went back to playing with her Legos!

To celebrate, I ate a couple of marshmallows.

And then, NINJA!

Iris:  Mommy?  What are you eating?
Me:  (my mouth still stuffed with marshmallow) A cracker.
Iris:  (looking at me suspiciously) Is it a white cracker?
Me:  (attempting to talk without opening my mouth wide enough for her to see into it) Yyyeessss?
Iris:  (still suspicious) Is it mooshy?
Me:  (dejectedly) Yes.
Iris:  Can I have one?

The only thing that saved me was Quinten yelling “BEDTIME!” and taking her upstairs to put her down (while laughing his ass off). 

The way this is going, I have two choices, I either need to improve my behavior, or…….


I guess I’ve really only got the one choice. 

So much trouble.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Something Comes to Mind About Apples and Trees....

For the first year after my daughter, Iris, was born, people who probably thought they were being nice would exclaim, “She looks just like your husband!”

And I would smile and nod and say something that sounded blandly positive while thinking, Thanks, jerkface.  Never mind all the heavy lifting I did for nine months – never mind the fatigue, the morning sickness, a hardcore diet and exercise regimen, and major freaking surgery so we could have this baby.  Never mind that I quit my job to become a stay-at-home mom to this baby who even you, a random stranger in an ice cream shop, tells me has nothing whatsoever in common with me.  Yep, I was nothing more than an incubator for this perfect little genetic re-enactment of my husband.  Go mind your own damned business.

Unkind, I know.  But, seriously….  And, yes, I love my husband.  Yes, he has a lot of amazing qualities (otherwise I would not have married him).  Yes, the whole point of having a baby with him was so that some of those amazing qualities would be passed down to our progeny.  But it was only supposed to be some of his qualities.  It wasn’t supposed to be all-Quinten-all-the-time.  There was supposed to be some of me in there.  A little bit.  A tiny little bit.  A smidge. 

I love Iris harder than I have ever loved anyone ever, but for the first year of her life, all I had to hang onto was the fact that, unlike Quinten’s hazel eyes, Iris’s eyes were blue, like mine.  So maybe they looked more like my dad’s eyes than mine, but they were BLUE, dammit.  BLUE! 

It’s all I had.

But, now?  Now the worm has turned, and the times they are a-changing.  Because, these days, Iris and I cannot go anywhere without someone remarking on how much she looks like me.  And she does.  She really does.  I’m not sure when, exactly, it happened.  But it happened fast.  Basically, one night, after putting Iris to bed, I was griping to Quinten about yet another person insinuating I was participating in illegal cloning operations in our basement, and, when Iris woke up the next morning, even my mother-in-law couldn’t deny that Iris looked just like me.

And, truly, it’s almost scary:
Me, circa 1975

Iris, circa 2013.

Even I think it’s weird how much she looks like me.  Weird, but gratifying. 

Like awesomely gratifying.

To finally have a child that looks like she might have sprung from my womb!  To finally have a child who looks like she shares some genetics with me!!  Secretly, deep in my heart of hearts, I was dancing with glee.  Utter and shameless glee. 


And then this happened…

I was setting the kitchen table for dinner and waiting for the meatballs to come out of the oven, when Iris came up to me, brow furrowed, a very serious look on her face, “Mama, I need to ask you a question.”

I stopped, still holding some forks, “Yes?”

“Mama,” she said, cocking her head to one side, looking as though she was thinking some deep, thinky thoughts, “I would like a cookie.”

I glanced at the timer on the oven, “Well, sweetie, it’s almost dinnertime.  The meatballs will be ready in 8 minutes.  So, the cookie will have to wait until after dinner.”

Iris paused and thought this over.  I watched the wheels turning in her brain.

Iris:  Mama?
Me:  Yes, Iris?
Iris:  Can I please have a cookie now?
Me:  I already said no.  You’ll have to wait until after dinner.
Iris:  (with a hitch in her voice)  But I’m hungry.
Me:  Well, soon, you’ll have meatballs, and then you won’t be hungry anymore.
Iris:  (tears welling up in her eyes, her voice getting small and wavery)  But I’m SO hungry.
Me:  (starting to get irritated) I know, honey.  But dinner will be soon and you can have a cookie after dinner.
Iris:  (walking over to Quinten)  Daddy?  Can I have a cookie?
Quinten:  What did your mother say?
Iris:  (pointedly not looking at me)  I’m really hungry, Daddy.
Quinten:  We’re going to have dinner soon, sweet pea.  You can have a cookie after.
Iris:  (coming back to me)  Ummm….can I have a cookie now and then I’ll eat my dinner?
Me:  No.
Iris: (screaming)  FINE!  THEN I’LL NEVER EAT AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

And she stormed off, stomping into the family room and throwing herself on the couch, sobbing like we’d ripped the arm off her favorite stuffed bunny.

Which is when I knew that we were all doomed.  Doomed, I tell you.  Doomed.

Because, apparently, Iris didn’t bear just a physical resemblance to me.

The negotiating tactics?  The use of pout and tears?  The playing both ends against the middle?  The losing her shit and going completely overboard with a nuclear explosion of emotion over not getting her way in some small matter?  Yeah.  She got that from me.  All of it.  Even that last bit. 

Especially that last bit. 

And it would be bad enough if I could say that genetics are fascinating and I had acted that same way when I was her age.  But, I am ashamed to admit, I kinda, sorta, a little bit, maybe acted that way last week.

I know.

I had always imagined that a child of mine would be a better version of me.  That she would inherit all my best qualities and improve on them.  It never occurred to me that she would inherit my worst qualities and amplify them.

Like my inability to be anything but cranky when someone wakes me up, even when I’ve gotten plenty of sleep (not too long ago, I may or may not have told my husband to “kill it” in a possessed-by-evil kind of voice when the alarm clock went off). 

Last week, Quinten and I woke Iris up by blasting the opening to “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King:

Iris responded by giving us the evil eye, throwing the covers over her head, and shout-growled that we were “BEING VERY NOT NICE!!!”

Also, when Iris is very, very tired, she gets extremely talkative.  And I don’t mean she just talks a lot.  I mean she talks incessantly, as if she has a certain allotment of words she must use in a single day and she’s behind quota.  Which is the most frustrating thing in the world when you are trying to put her to bed and she.  Will not.  Shut.  Up.  If you ask him, Quinten will tell you that after a long day, when he’s exhausted and lying in bed waiting for sleep to take him, I am the same way.  He is too polite to say anything, but around the time he pulls the covers up over his ears so he can’t hear me, I will concede, “you wish I would shut up so you could go to sleep, don’t you?” 

“Right,” he’ll sigh. 

I’ll still want to talk, but I am not three, so I can control myself.  Sort of.  A little.

“Just one more thing and then I’ll stop….”

Quinten will sigh the deep sigh of a wounded man who must endure one more shot before the anesthetic starts working.

Clearly, he loves me.

Which, given what my genetics and temperament are going to do to our child, is something of a miracle.  By the time Iris is ten or so, I fully expect my fundamental impatience, my tendency to horribilize any situation, and my overly-dramatic moodiness to fully blossom.  And I’m not even going to think about what’s going to happen when she hits puberty.

I can only hope that Iris also inherits a few of my finer qualities, too. 

Because people will forgive a LOT if you’re funny enough. 

Won’t they?

Friday, January 3, 2014

2013: The Year That Was......It's A Good Thing I Have a Sense of Humor

Once upon a time, I had another blog in another location on the web and I used to answer this list of questions every New Year.  I took it quite seriously.  Yesterday, I thought it would be fun to maybe answer those questions again.  Looking back at my answers over the years all I could think was only a single and childless person could have come up with this list of bullshit.  I mean, seriously, “did you have any one-night stands?”  Really?  REALLY???  Who has time to have a one night stand?  But, because it amused me so much, I decided to go ahead and answer them again.  Just for you. 

1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?

I taught a human being how to use the toilet.  That’s right.  You heard me.  I got a real (albeit small) human to stop soiling herself and actually use the bathroom for its intended purpose.  And she flushes.  Boom!  Top THAT!

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for 2014?

I don’t even remember my New Years’ Resolution from last year.  I used to have this incredible memory.  Like, I could remember, word-for-word, a conversation I had with my college roommate while we were in college.  And then I got pregnant and now I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning.  Or where I put that invitation to that birthday party that I know is coming up but I can’t remember exactly when or where or, for that matter, which kid it’s for.  (Crap, I’m going to need to get a present for that.)  Everyone told me I’d get my memory back sometime after I had the baby.  Well, my daughter, Iris, is almost four years old now.  It may be hopeless.  So, if I even made a New Years’ Resolution last year, I think it’s pretty clear I didn’t keep it.  Maybe my resolution for this year should be that, next year at this time, I remember what my resolution was. 

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

I’m a full-time mom.  Most of my friends are full-time moms.  Did anyone close to me give birth?  OF COURSE THEY DID, YOU NIT!  It’s raining babies.  What a dumb question.

4. What countries did you visit?

Hmmmm….do my mom’s house and my mother-in-law’s house count as countries?  Then none.  I visited none countries.  Please!  I don’t have the money or the patience to take a nearly-four-year-old to a whole foreign country.  It wears me out to take Iris to the grocery store.

5. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?

Oh, I don’t know….maybe a decent babysitter that doesn’t graduate from college and selfishly get a real job for way more money than I can pay somewhere far, far away so I can’t even get the occasional help on weekends?

6. What dates from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?

Two days ago, Iris actually used the word “please” when asking me to do something for her without me prompting her.  That was pretty good. 

7. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Did you not see the answer about teaching a human being to use a toilet?

8. What was your biggest failure?

Bathtime.  Every.  Single.  Bathtime.  I don’t want to talk about it. 

9. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Don’t talk to me about illness.  We have a preschooler.  We are the plague house.   

10. What was the best thing you bought?

You mean for myself?  Something I bought just for me?  AAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!  I might wet my pants.  Parents don’t buy things.  And if we do, those things somehow become the child’s things.  My laptop computer?  Is now the device by which Iris can view pictures of herself.  Our cell phones are devices to be used to record Iris’s antics.  You see how this works?

But really, best for whom?  And by what standard?  I mean, “best” is a relative term.  If we’re talking about how much something gets used, then Iris really loves
this Fisher Price record player and plays with it all the time.  All.  The.  Time.  Over and over.  And over. 

If we’re talking about how happy Iris seems with it, then
 it has to be this camera that Iris uses to take really, really, really unflattering pictures of me.

And these little plastic ponies 
are what I bought and used to reward Iris every time she pooped on the potty.  After a few months, even Iris was referring to them as “my pooping ponies.”  That seems like a pretty genius buy.
But, if we’re talking about the thing I think was best and that made me happiest (and, fair warning, I’m being all sentimental and shit with this one), then I’d say that the best thing I bought were tickets to Frozen,
a movie through which Iris sat still and rapt for more than 90 minutes and then told me, “I true love you, Mommy.” 

11. Where did most of your money go?

I.  Have.  A.  Child.  Are you not paying attention?

12. What did you get really, really, really excited about?

I can’t believe I’m about to say this…..  When Iris started pooping in the potty.  That’s it.  That’s what my life has been reduced to. 

13. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?  Thinner or fatter?  Richer or poorer?

Last year at this time, Iris kept using her invisible, imaginary, magic wand to turn me into a frog.  My husband, Quinten, had to keep giving me true love's kisses to turn me back into me.  Iris was quite annoyed, as I recall.  This year, at least so far, I haven’t been turned into any amphibians.  I’m calling that a win.Top of Form

So, yes.  And no.  And maybe.  Or not.  Whatever.  Also, who keeps track of this stuff?

14. What do you wish you'd done more of?

Sleep.  I would sell my soul for a nap.

15. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Living without a staff. 

In all seriousness, this is where my Mommy guilt amps up.  I wish I didn’t have to prepare to teach classes or grade papers or do laundry or make beds or fix dinners or grocery shop or run errands or do any of the other things I need to do to make life work.  I wish I could spend more time just playing with my little girl while she is still a little girl. 

I comfort myself by saying that Iris is learning patience and how to entertain herself, two very important skills.

It doesn’t work.

16. How many one-night stands did you have?

Define “one-night stand.”  Do you mean a night I spent standing because I was taking care of a sick child?  Then four.

17. What was your favorite TV program?

Most of the PBS lineup for kids doesn’t make me want to vomit.  Except for Curious George because I just cannot figure out why, after all the trouble he is always getting into, anyone trusts that monkey with anything ever. 

Oh.  You mean shows I watch for me?  Like shows made for adults?  Huh.  People do that?

18. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More playdates for Iris.  And for me. 

19. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?

“Is it clean?  Okay, then.”

20. What kept you sane?

Wait.  I’m sane?

21. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:

If I’ve learned nothing else from having a child it’s this: You only really need to shower if you have poop on you.  Or vomit.  Or if you smell.