parenting

To Sleep Perchance to Dream

I realize children are our future and we should teach them well and feed them on our dreams, and a smile from a child is a package of sunshine and unicorn farts.

Terrific.

But my little package of sunshine and unicorn gas has been in the habit of yelling my name in the middle of the night with an invitation “to come sleep with me” in his twin bed, which really means “no sleep for hours then when I finally sneak back into my bed, a 30-minute respite before the next primal scream and  I relent and just let him sleep in my goddamn bed.”

All this after me or my husband begin the night lying awake in his bed until he falls asleep, and realizing my child has a later bedtime than me.

Nightime is beginning to resemble that surreal hellscape I stumbled through when I was a barely function bag of cells “mothering” a newborn baby.

This morning I had a lengthy discussion about the merits of phrenology to detect lice when it became clear that  a) I don’t know what phrenology is and b) I was actually talking to the coffeemaker.

There is a reason sleep deprivation is such an effective torture technique.

I vaguely recall my smug, child-free self boldy declaring “I would NEVER let my child sleep in my bed” when I would hear of parents getting kicked in the face multiple times by a child sleeping perpindicular to them.

I also vaguely remember rambling on about how I would never cook separate meals for my kid and he would just “eat what I’m eating.”

Aw, sweet, young Speaker7, you dumb fuck, you.

I’ve consulted all the experts like the random people who somehow have time to answer questions on wikianswers:

sleepstrategiesMy options are limited. I could keep things as is and die earlier from it, but at least that’s sort of a type of sleep. I could engage in a nighttime battle with a victor who has more energy stores than the hottest part of the sun. Or I could spend the time making out with Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice because I swear he was just in my kitchen a second ago talking to Kato Kaelin about O.J. Simpson’s latest book “Okay I did It.”

It’s likely karmic retribution. I slept in my parent’s room so much, they kept a mattress tucked under their bed. I had convinced myself I was going to be murdered in my sleep. Amityville Horror may not be the most comforting bedtime story.

In fact, the last time I slept on my parent’s floor was when I was 23 and home for a visit. I had mistakenly assumed I could handle a viewing of the movie Scream without thinking I would be the next to be gutted and strung up a tree by Ghostface. After a fitful night of continually turning on my light, I gave in and curled up on the floor of their room only to slink out early in the morning.

So judging by my track record, only 20 more years of this. That third option is looking pretty good.

Speaker7’s bout of sleep deprivation is only making the experience of posting daily as a member of the Nano Poblano Team even more sheep. When I move my hand slowly in front of my face, I can see leprechauns. 

Lowering the Bar

I recently learned that The Tooth Fairy has been known to give children $10 for their discarded teeth.

I’ve attended children’s birthday parties that appear to cost more than my wedding. I’ve seen star charts created to award children for simply existing. Oh little Bobby is breathing so AMAZING today, isn’t he!!! Here’s $100.

This is insanity, people. Insanity. Why are some of you setting the bar this high?

When you act in this outrageous fashion it diminishes the sense of accomplishment I feel when I discover my child has a pair of clean underwear to wear.

I have no problem admitting that I routinely fail in my role as parent so perhaps I’m not the best to insist on some standard rules of engagement. But when little Timmy’s Easter haul is worth more than the GNP of Uzbekistan, I think we can all see that things have gotten out of hand.

Therefore, I think parents can agree on some basic ground rules.

1. Santa Claus. Can we establish that Santa Claus gives one gift and one gift only? And let it be kind of a crappy gift like tube socks or a box of chalky Whitman’s Sampler. This way the children feel a sort of begrudging resentment to Santa like they do when they have to write a thank you note to Great Aunt Hilda who routinely gives a box of holiday-colored sporks. Then in 10 years, let’s have Santa die in an avalanche so there can actually be peace on earth.

2. Tooth Fairy. $10 for tooth? Seriously? Fuck that noise. I say no money. I say let’s use her to our advantage to scare children into better dental hygiene. I don’t know about you, but getting my 3-year-old to brush his teeth is about as easy as getting Kayne West to stop referencing himself. Let’s instead have the Tooth Fairy leave ominous notes like “Dear little Sarah, I picked up your decayed tooth. If you don’t do a better job brushing, I’m going to come back one night and take them all. Love, the Tooth Fairy.”

3. Birthday parties.

toomuchridiculousnessThis. This right here is how you get a 9-year-old Nathaniel bitching on Twitter about how much he hates his fucking parents for buying him a black iPhone rather than a white one for his half birthday. Let’s scale back a bit, parents, shall we? Does your three-year-old really need a Marie Antoinette-themed party complete with a one-of-a-kind Palace of Versailles bouncy house and cardboard cutouts of disgruntled peasants? No. I’ve seen my son be entertained for over an hour by the simple act of throwing a tennis ball over our garbage can enclosure. Add a cake and that just became the best birthday party in his short life.

4. Easter.

fuckingnutsThere is no reasonable explanation for buying this much chocolate for one child unless your child is expecting a shiv in the back at the playground and needs some allies. All you’re doing with this display is guaranteeing you will be shelling out $70 to the Tooth Fairy in the near future. Along the same lines as Santa, let’s have the Easter Bunny give one piece of candy and let it be an elephant peanut or a Necco wafer so the kiddies won’t be too upset when the Easter Bunny is inadvertently shot and killed by Elmer Fudd in 2018.

5. Pinterest.

lastminutecostumemyass

Oh this? This is a “last-minute” Halloween costume idea. Really? Maybe on a planet were a minute is the equivalent of five months. There are many such devious DIY ideas on Pinterest that are designed to set a parent up for failure, and make you wonder where all these other parents have the time to make a DIY DeLorean time machine out of crepe paper with their children while you don’t have the energy to construct a ball from a hunk of dried-out Play-doh. How about we make this easy DIY genius responsible for your failure. Say, if you can’t easily make this, the DIY genius is forced to come to your house and make it for you. Or at least gets punched in the face.

I get that people love their kids. I do too (mine, not theirs). But we do no one any favors when that love manifests itself into over-the-top materialistic displays that leave some kids with less wondering why Santa is such a withholding dick.

Let’s lower that bar, parents. Your wallet and sanity will thank you.

How to Potty Train a Toddler

It has come to this moment. Mini Speaker7 has hit the age where he needs to find a pot to piss in or be resigned to a life full of diapers, so sayeth some parenting blog that routinely makes me feel I fail as a parent. I probably am more of a C-minus kind of mother.

Mini Speaker7 is a few months past 3. He’s a boy, and apparently boys are harder to train than girls, dolphins and some species of monkey. It has been slow-going, which I partially attribute to my laziness, but, hey, those reality television shows aren’t going to watch themselves.

For the past few months, I’ve been regaled with success stories of child-size shitting and urinating on other “friends” Facebook pages. These children–much, much younger than my son–are pooping prodigies:

pottytrainingsuccess

This has been discouraging because while reading my Facebook newsfeed for two hours, my son shat through another pair of underwear.

I honestly have no idea what I’m doing, and was hoping that my skilled toilet use would be enough. In fact, I recently earned a doctorate in urination from the University of Phoenix.

Some potty training experts say you should just lay down some tarp and let your child act as if he was a drunken idiot at an all-day outdoor concert, glowsticks included. Others exalt the potty “sessions” where the child alternates between screaming “I’m not wearing underwear! I’m not!” and “I’m not wearing diaper! I’m not!” until you suffocate yourself with a diaper genie.

This headline is a bit of a misnomer. A better one would be “How the fuck do you potty train a toddler because, seriously, have you met a toddler? They are out of their fucking minds.”

This is what I’ve attempted:

  • A potty training incentive sticker chart thomaspeechart

My son screamed “Take it off! Take it off!” when I stuck on a sticker.

  • Bribes. At any given moment in my household, you can hear either me or my husband stating the following in a sing-song voice: “If you go pee-pee on the potty, you get a truck. If you go poopy, you get two trucks!” These are the moments you hate yourself.

My son has consistently been a late-bloomer. He arrived early, but has since taken his time in doing many tasks. He walked at 20 months. He crawled at two. He learned to jump about a month ago. He will get there. It is likely he will know how to spell “toilet” before he actually uses it. But he will get there.

As my father likes to say: “Small kids, small problems. Big kids, big problems.”

That is true, but small kids can really produce some massive turds.

Dora the Annoyer

Six o’clock in the morning is really rough.

It’s not the best feeling in the world to know every morning you will get up at 6 a.m. regardless of the time you fall asleep. This is the life of a parent with a 2-year-old. In the past two years, the latest I’ve slept in has been 6:30 (three times), and it wasn’t even on any of those Mother’s days or birthdays. It was because he slept in until 6:30.

What makes it worse is sometimes it’s 5:30 a.m. There are things one does–things one is not proud of–to try to sleep an extra five to 10 minutes.

Maybe you do that thing where you pretend you do not actually hear your child crying. That is impossible. It’s like his cry is directly connected to my central nervous system. I say my because my husband could sleep through me jumping on his head with a pogo stick.

Or you get the kid, throw him into your bed and turn on the TV after six requests of “Watch show? Watch show? Watch show?”

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no television for children under the age of two. This is because they are doctors who can afford to have someone else watch their children, and have never played two solid hours of “What’s that?”

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing that my infant son would rip himself away from my breast whenever the theme for It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia kicked in so he could watch the opening credits. It is classical muzak after all.

I only wish that would placate him now. Because now, what he likes to watch at 6 a.m. is Dora the Explorer.

Ah, Dora…How do I describe your voice? Think of a beginning violinist scraping his unrosined bow across a violin with a shrieking cat strapped to it. Think of someone inserting a needle directly into your left eardrum while someone crashes cymbals against your right. Think of a cheerleader whose mouth is actually a megaphone screaming directions while 1,000 bagpipes play and 1,000 dentists drill into a giant mouth made out of aluminum.

And that does not even come close to Dora’s voice.

“My voice has broken the sound barrier!”

Dora is always excited and always going on adventures and always needs your help and always wants you to shriek along with her. It’s glorious. Especially at 6 a.m.

She drags along a monkey in red boots, and she talks to her backpack, and can catch stars, and I fucking hate her more than I have ever hated any cartoon in my life and that includes Scrappy Doo who is an unbelievable monstrosity.

There is a fox named Swiper, and guess what he does?

Swipes stuff.

Swiper, can you swipe Dora’s vocal box? Thanks!

Dora becomes very agitated whenever Swiper is around and begins to wail with the intensity of 13,000 ambulance sirens that we must stop Swiper. “SAY SWIPER NO SWIPING” she bellows over and over again while I begin to fantasize that I’m chained to some random restroom in Saw 17.

Dora is very big on audience participation and what you think was the best part of the adventure. At the end of the task, she scream/sings the “We did it” song and then asks what your favorite part was.

My favorite part was when Dora was not speaking, that .001 second of the show.

“Me too!!!!!!” she screams back. Then she shrieks and shrieks and shrieks some more until I lose all feeling in my face. And then we have another episode at 6:30.

And this is likely what I will wake up to tomorrow. And the next 300 or so tomorrows.

I have just written a check to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Good work, guys.

Gift Ideas for Every Mom

It used to be so easy with Mother’s Day. You took a frozen orange juice container, glued a piece of shag carpet around it–and presto instant carpet-covered frozen orange juice container.

But moms want us to “step up our game” apparently, according to Cosmopolitan magazine, and Cosmopolitan magazine is rarely wrong. Its expose on the “50 Things to Do With Your Boobs” was revelatory (#47 – Shuck corn), as was its expose on the “50 Sexy Ways to Sexily Shuck Sexy Corn” (#26 – Go heavy on the anal bleaching).

Not all moms are the same. Some like overpriced gunk made by the tiny fingers of orphans working in non-ventilated sweatshops while others like products that need to be included in the magazine per the advertisers marketing agreement.

So what if you’re unsure of your mom’s type? Luckily Cosmo breaks it down into 12 essential categories of motherhood. I have lumped some together and narrowed it down to four, having learned much from Cosmo’s expose on “50 Sexy Ways to Reduce the Amount of Sexy Time Spent on Sexily Writing Sexy Blogs and How to Keep Him Coming Back For More” (#26 – Limit the number of crotch shots to 9)

Sentimental/Techy/Stressed Out Mom

Got a mama who tears up over cat food commercials? That goblet containing the ocean whitefish reminds me of my third wedding *sob* … Does it then remind her she has a fifth wedding to plan, and she needs to decide if she’s going to go with the candied almonds in a mesh bag or the engraved toothpicks for the wedding favors and she starts to get so stressed out? And you have to say Chill out, mama, and she screams back You were a mistake!! A beautiful mistake *sob*. . . and the cycle repeats for another 17 hours.

So if that’s her, then get her this:

Ionic Salt Bowl Lamp

Girly/Party/Trendy Mom

Does your mother speak in vocal fry? Wear her hair in pink pigtails and pink ponytails and pink whaletails? Does she rock ‘n roll all night and party everyday? Does she say the latest catchphrases like “I’m da bomb diggety dog doody wad dilly bum bum noodle noodle casserole stew”?

She sounds wonderful.

Then get her this:

Perfect for wet T-shirt contests.

Sporty/Artsy/Quirky Mom

Jesus–is this done yet? No.

Okay so does your moo-moo Zumba (Sporty Spice) while sculpting (Artsy Spice), but instead of using clay she uses Hamburger Helper (Quirky Spice)? Then this is the must-have:

Works with Hamburger Helper.

Adventurous/Traveler/Mommy Mom

Is your mom always out and about, wanting to visit the latest war-torn spaghetti factory or taste sea foam biscuit ice cream raisins? Is she also a Mommy Mom? And what is a Mommy Mom? Is she a mom who acts infantile and wants you to baby her? Or is she a mommy with a second or third family and that’s why she’s always leaving under the guise of being an adventurous traveler? Who knows?

Just get this and we’ll call it a day:

Easter Egg Funk

Now that I have a two-year-old, I have been hounded with questions about whether I’m taking my son to an Easter egg hunt.

(Full disclosure: No one has asked me this)

The short answer is no.

The long answer is F*** no.

I might have mentioned I once worked as a newspaper reporter. Thank you. Oh, wait you weren’t applauding. I thought maybe you were applauding.

I was a serious journalist, and that is why I covered the annual Easter egg hunt at the local park. I asked some tough questions like “Why are you here?” “Do you think you’ll find an egg?” and “Is there a bridge nearby? I’d like to jump off it.”

It begins all nice and egg-free. The kids appear human as do the parents.

But as soon as the air horn sounds, it quickly devolves into something resembling a Black Friday stampede for the cheapest electric egg cooker.

Eggvidence:

"Screw the conch, I want me some eggs!"

Parents, who have already staked a position by an easily visible egg, pounce upon it like a pack of jackals, spraying their urine and feces freely to ward off intruders.

Okay, maybe not that, but they yell really loud and basically push two-year-olds out of the way. Once their grubby snot-nosed child picks it up (always snot-nosed, always dripping, always the child I end up having to interview at the end of the 3-second bloodbath, always manages to get snot on me), they move onto the next egg, bawking orders like chickens if chickens could bawk orders, and just generally making the Easter Bunny weep hot tears.

There should be a limit to how many eggs one can grab (correct amount is 1) and how many times one can bellow “C’mon! C’mon! C’mon! Right here!!! Right here!!! Get it!!!!  GET IT!!!!!” (correct amount is never)

Even after reading this, you feel you must subject your offspring to an early taste of dashed hopes and despondency, please follow these tips:

  • Bring eggs with you. At the start of the hunt, put them in your child’s basket and say “Let’s go home.”
  • Watch or read something uplifting to restore your faith in humanity.
  • Enter a profession that will never make you cover an Easter egg hunt. One day you will find yourself writing sentences like these: “Thousands of children and parents packed the park. Many held plastic bags and baskets to load with eggs.”
  • Weep hot tears.

How Kendra and I Got Our Groove Back

Giving birth is hard, but I found raising the actual child harder. I had certain expectations.

Like this:

The reality was a little different–especially in the beginning. In the first few weeks, many people come by your house to coo at your baby. This usually happens when you’ve just begun nursing. It’s typically your father-in-law or father. These are the fun moments.

You change a lot of diapers. You cannot believe someone so small can produce the waste of an entire elementary school on a single day. You keep track. Since you’re breastfeeding you have no idea if the baby is getting enough to eat. You begin to realize that you have one hour and 20 minutes between each 40-minute-bouts of nursing when you can be something other than a food source. These are the even funner moments.

I think I suffered from postpartum depression the first two months of my son’s life. My therapist at the time said I had adjustment disorder in order for me to submit my visits to my insurance provider. It was a very lonely time. I remember distinctly my mother showing me an picture of my baby on her iPhone and me just wanting to be left alone so I could watch Dancing with the Stars.  In my defense, it was the episode where Kate Gosselin stomped around to the song “Paparazzi.”

It was in these profoundly sad moments that I turned to tabloid magazines for support. And wouldn’t you know, a “celebrity” could articulate exactly what I was experiencing.

Kendra Wilkinson, a former Playboy bunny whose claim to fame was dating the host of Tales from the Crypt, recently had become a mother herself. She now peered at me from the magazine covers, exclusively sharing her new mom confessions with Us Weekly and exclusively sharing her new mom worries with In Touch and exclusively sharing her new mom anxieties with Life & Style. To use the parlance of reality television, I felt a connection.

It was like she had a window into my brain when she discussed her decision to breastfeed. Anyone who says this is a natural, beautiful process has blocked out the first two months when neither participant knows what the hell to do, and where you wish you could do something gentler to yourself, like rub sandpaper on your nipples and coat them with lemon juice.

Kendra, like many mothers, worried about her ability to nurse with Triple D implants. It was like Kendra channeled my own thoughts when she said: “Right up until I went into labor, I was like, I don’t want to breastfeed! Then the baby came, and I was like, Ooh! I want to breastfeed!”  I might have even said those exact words.

In two sentences, Kendra perfectly encapsulated the internal struggle of nursing vs. formula.

And as difficult as the decision to nurse was, it was nothing compared to the sadness Kendra felt. I, too, felt trapped and overburdened. I felt like I had nothing to look forward to, that my life would forever be an endless cycle of diaper-changing, feedings and CNN-watching. Kendra recounted the story of a visit by friends a few weeks after giving birth. Her words were like a lifeline:

“It was bad timing. They were really hot and had really nice bodies.”

Thank you, Kendra, for explaining why I was feeling so hopeless and forlorn.

And the story ends well for both of us….I no longer want to get in the car and drive as far away as possible from my son…and Kendra consumed Abdominal Cuts, a weightloss supplement filled with conjugated linoleic acid, to get her body back in shape. Win-win.

The Great NYS Fair

An apology to our readers: the following blog entry was inadvertently published whilst still in draft form therefore the post made as much sense as a grown woman covering a tween goat-herder for a news story. Here is the post in all its glorious entirety.

The main reason I agreed to have a baby was to have an excuse to never go anywhere again. But something happens when you have a child. You see nothing strange about keeping a log of your infant’s bowel movements. You use the word “poopy” a lot. You attend functions willingly that you normally wished you had a good excuse, like having a baby at home, to avoid attending. So I’m bringing my son to the NYS Fair.

I hate the fair.

I have only been a few times and the occasions have always been unpleasant.

Once I followed a 13-year-old goat herder around for a riveting news story about spending 14 hours with a 13-year-old goat herder (spoiler: lots of sitting in lawn chairs and looking at goats). I was a correspondent for the local newspaper so I was being paid for the article not my time–14 hours for $25, or $0.56 an hour. After about 20 minutes, you run out of questions to ask (so…why goat-herding?) and it’s mainly sitting around being uncomfortable, a situation made even worse by the powerful aroma of goat shit.

Another time, I paid $2 to see the “world’s littlest woman.” Having just left the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Tent, I thought I would see a Barbie Doll in a fish bowl–the Ripley’s tent was full of fakety fake fakery, but I chose to believe it rather than not, man–so I was horrified to come into the tent, and see an actual person sitting in a toddler-sized armchair, watching a mini-television and eating dinner. She was propped up on a table to be at eye-level. She looked wearily at me and said “hello.” I know I had a horrified look on my face because I just paid $2 to gawk at another human being who happens to be a little short. Instead of saying “I am a horrible, horrible person,” I mumbled “hi” and got the hell out of there.

Now for some completely illogical reason, I’m all pepped to go and expose my son to the urine-and-fecal-soaked barns and midway, the freak shows run by the worst people alive and the crown jewel–the butter sculpture, which I hope is just a giant stick of butter.

I am a horrible, horrible person.

Common Courtesy lives on

Some believe that common courtesy has gone the way of the dinosaurs and political compromise. I know some people believe this because I did a Google search and received 65 million hits. The inverse–courtesy is alive and well–only garnered 3 million hits therefore and hence four-score-and-ipso-facto, courtesy is dead. Research + statistics=proven statement of a fact. It sure seems like it’s true even if you might question my mathematical statement, which I wouldn’t do because I will totally go America all over your ass (reference). People seem a tad more tightly wound and freak over the slightest provocation. Just a few seconds ago, my husband asked me to watch our child for a second and I flipped over the dining room table in response. And there’s that ruder then the rudest rude interview conducted by Piers I Imports with the Witch Lady where he asked her questions based on topics covered in the book she was hawking. Nervy.

So courtesy is dead and everyone is just plain awful…or is it and are they? Let me share an uplifting story that clearly shows people aren’t the succubuses (succubi?) you think they are. As I mentioned in the above paragraph, I have a child. He’s a young-un. Whenever we leave the house, we resemble nomads with the amount of gear and accessories we tote to keep his *big head distracted (*I don’t mean to say I think he’s an egoist, he’s really got a huge skull). We had to make such the trip today for a little PT time at the local gym. I was the pack mule while my husband carried the child. We were about 10 feet from the entrance, when these older men exited with their racquetball racquets. One of them stopped to hold the door open and with just the slightest trace of irritation in his voice, yelled “Come on!” What an obvious gentleman.

So the next time you find yourself about to key the car of the jackal who stole your parking space, think about the older guy yelling “Come on!” to a couple who had not even made the requisite eye contact displaying a request for help–and it will make you gouge just a little bit deeper.