A Little Treat, Just Because

Saturday, February 26, 2005

A Little Leon Goes A Long Way

I didn't want to write this week because I couldn't think of anything good to say. That is, until tonight.

First, the back story. Last weekend, I reuinted with two girlfriends from college who I had not seen in ages. We had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory, and I left with a slab of chocolate ganache cake and a heapin' helping o' food poisoning. (Yes, I ate chicken.) Regardless, I still had a lot of fun with my friends, but I continued to feel terribly ill the whole rest of the week.

On Monday, while I was making Kaboom's lunch, he was toddling in and out of the kitchen, practicing his Michael Flately/Jennifer Beals move when he suddenly fell flat on his face. The fact that he fell is nothing. At age 19 months, falling is what he does best. But this time, his forehead landed square on the edge of the dog's ceramic water bowl. When I picked him up, blood was practically squirting out of his head. Lots of blood. So much, he couldn't see out of his left eye. And it was a small wound. (Okay, that's all I'll say to describe what was going on at home. I don't even want to talk about how helpless I felt. It's hard to think about it without feeling guilty about that damn bowl. Onto the hospital.)

Like everyone who visits the emergency room, we spent a lot of time sitting and waiting. But the actual process of cleaning the wound and applying some sort of Amazing Medical Miracle SuperGlue (in lieu of stiches) took mere minutes. Once home, Kaboom was good-as-new, ready to run and play as if nothing had happened.

As for me, while riding waves of nausea on the sofa, I winced every single time Kaboom looked like he might take a tumble. And when he actually fell down, I reflexively covered my eyes. I know I can't live like that and stay sane. I don't know if there are statistics on how frequently the average toddler falls in a given day, but it must be something like ELEVEN HUNDRED MILLION times.

Tonight, the boo-boo looks better, I'm feeling nearly normal, and a friend and I went to see Leon Russell in concert. His "Willo' The Wisp" album plays and important role in my memories of childhood. Dad bought it in 1975, and he, my sisters, and I would dance to it together in the living room. When I hear Leon sing "Back to the Island," I am transported. Somehow, that song makes my worries seem small and insignificant. (Cue the ocean and bird sounds.)

Well I hope you understand, I just had to go back to the island
And watch the sun go down (sit and watch the sun go down)
Hear the sea roll in (listen to the sea roll in)
But I'll be thinking of you (yes, and I'll be thinking of you)
And how it might have been (thinking how it might have been)
Hear the night birds cry (listen to the night birds cry)
Watch the sunset die (sit and watch the sunset die)
Well I hope you understand, I just had to go back to the island

After the concert, I saw a small group of people waiting at the door of Leon's old tourbus. I hurried to my car to grab a piece of paper and a pen and then waited among the mostly-stoned fans for Leon to show. His bass player appeared from inside the bus and said that although Leon would not be coming out, he was willing to sign a few autographs.

When I was a kid, I got Pat Boone's autograph at a celebrity golf tournament. Since it looked like "Pot Bone," I was unimpressed and threw it away. When the bass player returned with Leon's signature, it looked like "LRu," only curly. I'll be keeping this one.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

The World According to Reality TV

In today's "USA Today," there is a story about kids raised in the 80's who can't function well in college or the workforce. Of course, attentive moms are to blame. They told their kids, "Good job!" (even when the "job" sucked) and screwed their kids up, royally. Apparently, all that nurturing served to create young adults who can't cope with the fact that their bosses don't reward bad or just so-so job performance. WHATever. I don't have a child who is a young adult, and I myself am not in that demographic, so what do I know? But I've SEEN reality TV, and it gives a wholly different picture of young American adults. The impression is that young women in bikini tops are willing to eat poop mixed with intestines and roach parts as millions watch for the CHANCE to win a big check. Seven Strangers Picked to Live Wherever will have drunken, unprotected sex without concern for AIDS, much less their dignity. And ivy-league lawyers will publicly demean themselves and kiss a zillionaire's ass in the HOPE of being named his Little Helper. In our country, we call this entertainment. (God, it frightens me to think these shows are airing in foreign countries.) I seriously doubt we can blame nurturing mommies for all THIS. We're damned if we do, damned if we don't.

Who you callin' spoiled?

The Boy Child's auntie visited last weekend, arriving Thursday while he was fast asleep so that she could greet him first thing Friday morning. Unbelievably, it had been six months since her last visit ("A third of his life!" she'd said). On the night before she was supposed to have flown up in November, she fell down some steps and broke her leg. Her heart broke a little, too. Needless to say, she couldn't wait to see how much The Boy Child had grown and changed. Little did she know, earlier Thursday night, The Boy Child met his NEWEST best friend.

Much to our surprise, Grampy--recent giver of the talking vaccum and the John Deere mower--sent his Future Musician Grandchild a purple-and-yellow toy electric guitar, complete with a combination microphone stand/amplifier. When The Boy Child saw it, he was gleeful. Utterly enraputured. Getting him to go to bed that night was more complicated than usual for he had played with the Dih-DAH (trans: guitar) all evening and wasn't ready for the jam session to end. On Friday morning, the day of the Much Anticipated Reunion with Auntie, Daddy got The Boy Child up and proceeded with their regular routine. As Daddy approaced the changing table, The Boy Child began to point to his bedroom door and wail, "Dih-DAH! Dih-DAH!" repeatedly. Elephant tears dripped off his chin.

Auntie sat on the living room sofa, eagerly awaiting the appearance of The Boy Child. As soon as he was dressed, he trotted straight out to the guitar. Auntie wanted hugs and kisses, but The Boy Child wanted to play his "axe." And when he did, he reminded us of U2's bassist, Adam Clayton. This kisses could wait.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

No need to thank me. Really.

As soon as Dumplin's Daddy came home from work, Dumplin' and I were ready to be taken out to dinner. While Daddy took care of the diaper change, I packed a sippy cup, fruit and whole wheat crackers for Dumplin to snack on while awaiting his entree. I also had the job of getting the Krazy Keeshond to sit and stay while Daddy and Dumplin' walked out the door. (The homemade peanutbutter cookie from the local doggy bakery worked quite well.) It also was up to me to bring the car/house keys which were sitting on the dining room table. All of this is our typical get-out-of-the-house routine. But I didn't realize, until I was standing in the driveway with the carport door locked behind me and Daddy asking, "Did you get the keys?" that I. . . didn't. I found the hollowed-out rock in which we hide our spare housekey. It was empty, naturally.

The other thing I didn't bother to bring was my coat. Lately, I haven't wanted to take my coat when I leave the house with the boy. It's just one more thing to remember. But it was 30 degrees and windy, and we were locked out of the house. I wished I had brought my coat.

I knew our hungry boy wasn't going to tolerate sitting in the car without going anywhere for very long. So I got into the backseat (thank God I hadn't locked the car) and began feeding him banana and crackers. Daddy used his cell phone to find a locksmith with emergency service and was told that someone would be out to unlock our door in 30 minutes. About a minute later, Daddy asked, "Is the front door locked?" "I'm sure it is," I replied. After all, if it wasn't, that would mean I had forgotten to lock it. "But why don't you go check it, just in case," I suggested.

Seconds later, Daddy was waving at Dumplin' from inside the house. For once, I was glad to have forgotten something.

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Just Sing!

Sing, sing a song
Sing out loud, sing out strong
Sing of good things, not bad
Sing of happy, not sad
Sing, sing a song
Make it simple
To last your whole life long
Don't worry that it's not good enough
For anyone else to hear
Just sing, sing a song

Now that I watch Sesame Street every once in a while, I've been reintroduced to this classic tune by Joe Raposo. Recently, I've seen Deniece Graves and Nathan Lane perform it with penguins and pigs, respectively. I finally appreciate the beauty of its simple message which, to me, is this: Just for a moment, let go of the need for perfection and approval. Stop holding back so darn much (if only for right now), and choose to dwell on positive stuff because life is a lot more fun that way! This message hits a nerve now that I'm a sometimes-neurotic, overly self-consious adult. It calls us to just write, just paint, just dance, just do whatever--without all the excess baggage that keeps us from enjoying the moment.

At 19 months, Puddin' Pop is all about living in the moment. On Friday, we went to the local community center to check out Tot Time in the gymnasium. It was, well, nuts. I don't know how many children were there, but to me, it felt like a hundred. Puddin' was absolutely thrilled to be in the midst of all that kiddie chaos. While other tots climbed the tumbling blocks and crawled through nylon tubes, he did a kind of ode to Flashdance/homage to Riverdance thing around the entire perimeter of the basketball court TWICE, smiling and laughing all the while. His signature move is a combination of running and dancing as he kicks his feet in front of him, and his arms barely leave his sides. But unlike Jennifer Beals or Michael Flatley, my boy doesn't break a sweat. (And I seriously doubt either of them could keep up with him.) I was hot on his heels the entire time (struggling to keep up), guarding against the flying basketballs that could've come barrelling towards his Perfectly Round Noggin and ready to throw my body in front of tricycles run amok. I am his bodyguard, the defender of his life, and he doesn't even know he needs protecting. He doesn't have a smidge of self-consciousness. The kid doesn't hold back. I have so much to learn from him.

Saturday, February 05, 2005

The Art of Dating

My husband and I "dated" long distance for about a year after we met in the chat room of a now-defunct online service that Apple was beta testing. Much of our courting communication was done via a computer art program because it was fun to impress each other with our creativity. Nowadays, most of what we say isn't quite as colorful. "Was he poopy?" and "I can't find my keys" are two of the things you'll typically hear in our house. Though it doesn't beat face-to-face communication with my honey, I miss the art. That's why I love this.

Friday, February 04, 2005


About five months after my son was born, I finally went to the doctor to hear what I already suspected. I was clinically depressed. Looking back, I can see that I wished days, weeks, and maybe even months of my life (and my son's infancy) away as I watched the clock, counting the minutes until my husband came home from work. Now that Stinky Pie is 19 months old, I wonder where the time went. Sometimes I feel so guilty for not having enjoyed those early months more.

I recently mentioned this to my mother. She reminded me that I couldn't breastfeed, I had insomnia, I couldn't eat, the baby was miserable with reflux every time he ate, I was crying constantly and didn't know why, and I had no family or close friends nearby to help me. "Gee, I don't know WHY you weren't having fun!" she jested.

At the time, I did not understand that most parents of newborns aren't enjoying themselves, per se. They're coping. Admitting that doesn't mean you're ungrateful. It means you're expending every single ounce of physical energy and brainpower on deciphering and/or meeting your tiny child's needs, and you're BEYOND wasted. You've also discovered that you're capable of worrying more than you ever thought possible. What parent feels adequate and effective in that state? One who's heavily sedated, that's who.

My New Year's Resolution is to try to forgive myself, each day, for whatever mothering mistakes I think I've made and to relish the fun I'm having with Stinky Pie right now.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

The Itsy Bitsy ARGH!

I may very well be the only Suburban American Mother who doesn't know the official finger motions to The Itsy Bitsy Spider.

It's the spider's going-up-the-waterspout moves that I have trouble with. I wing it. I'm all fingers. Once we get to "down came the rain," I'm good. Even Cutekin has mastered that. "And washed the spider out" is a no-brainer, too. I'm above average as far as "out came the sun and dried up all the rain" is concerned. But then that darned persistent spider has to make another acscent.

I should point out that this is not a reflection on my mother. I know I learned the routine as a youngster. I just don't remember how the spider is supposed to crawl. Therefore, I can't adequately teach this rhyme to my OWN child. And when you're sitting in a circle with other moms who CAN perform the spider's moves. . .Well, thank God he's too young to be embarassed by his mother.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Why I *heart* XM Radio

The 70's channel is my absolute favorite. In the car, Sweet Potato was doing his regular I HATE WEARING THIS FREAKIN' JACKET WHILE STRAPPED IN THE CAR SEAT routine (his yelling, not mine), and his "Veggie Tales" CD wasn't helping matters. Since I could stand Bob the Tomato no longer, I switched the stereo over to satellite radio. Dobie Gray's "Drift Away" was just beginning to play:

Give me the beat boys and free my soul
I wanna get lost in your rock 'n' roll and drift away. . .

I sang at the top of my lungs. Ultimately, that probably only encourages the boy to do the same thing. But he quieted down immediately. And then, sans commercial interruption, "Me and You and a Dog Named Boo" (by Lobo) was next. Sweet Potato bobbed his head to the beat (yes, this white boy's got rhythm) and sucked his thumb. Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

When Oven Mitts Attack

Accessories of modern domesticity are Wonder Boy's favorite playthings.

My nice, beige Williams-Sonoma oven mitts never manage to stay in the kitchen drawer for very long. They're either on the living room coffee table or in the middle of the kitchen floor. Wonder Boy loves to play with them ever since Daddy created ROBSTER CRAW! Robster Craw chases Wonder Boy around the room, and makes a scary sound--like a lion's roar. When it catches the Boy, it tickles him on the neck, under his arms, etc. When Daddy isn't home, Wonder Boy trots around the house with an oven mitt on each hand, and sometimes the roaring Robster Craw chomps on his loving mother.

Wonder Boy's fascination with The Big, Black Plastic Slotted Spoon--and carrying the end of said spoon in his mouth--began to wane once I adhered the rubber bulb of a turkey baster to the end of the handle (with a big wad of packing tape) and began calling it the Safety Spoon. Go figure.

The Swiffer Sweeper's role has officially been usurped by the toy vacuum cleaner (thanks to Grammy and Grampy). But a plain ol' paper towel will almost instantly satisfy a Whiny Wonder Boy. He'll use it to "clean" the coffee table, the floor, the storm door. . .

Someday, his wife will thank me.