You Take The Good, You Take The Bad…

A few weeks ago, Dave and I met with a psychiatrist that works with Joe’s school. It was our first meeting. You know, kind of an informational session…these are our concerns…the pediatrician thinks it’s Asperger’s, the therapist thinks it’s social anxiety and there’s a two-year wait for the specialist that will eventually give us the real skinny.

Anywho… Joe has actually been doing much better. We recently switched his ADHD medication for a new one. No sleep issues and his appetite is better. Most importantly, there have been no psychotic and completely out of character mood swings. Just a little guy with a super busy brain who can now sit through six hours at school without major issues. It seems to me that his social anxiety has improved a bit too…which leads me to conclude that he might not actually have Asperger’s but hey, I’m no doctor.

So now that I’ve caught you up a bit on Joe’s state of affairs, let me tell you how the meeting with the school’s psychiatrist went.

It went well.

I think.

He asked if Joe had ever been subject to physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

No.

Though, there was that time I spanked him for biting Gwen’s cheek four years ago. Or that time last year he kept saying “piss” at school and the teacher called me repeatedly so I finally brushed a tiny red pepper flake on his tongue and then felt immediately guilty and still wonder if I’ve scarred him for life. But, no…no emotional or physical or sexual abuse…beside that red pepper flake.

I vaguely recall Blair from The Facts of Life being on the Today Show and defending Tabasco Sauce as discipline for children. As I watched that show, I also recall thinking, Jesus…that
Blair’s a real hard ass! I would have pegged Jo for that kind of abuse…her and her black leather jacket and motorcycle. She had a real chip on her shoulder when she showed up at Eastland.
Fast forward a couple of years and the memory of Blair and her spices filled my mind after good old soap failed to do the trick. I know, I suck. No need to send hateful mail.

There I go again, getting off the subject entirely.

So, the psychiatrist writes a note in his folder and moves on.

“Is there any history of alcoholism in the family?” he wondered, peering over the top of his bifocals.

Here’s where Dave and I looked at each other, snorted, laughed and said, “Uh…yeah! It’s rampant, man!”

Here’s also where the doctor chuckled along with us then stopped to look at us as if we were crazy. So we back-peddled.

“Uh, well…I don’t drink anymore and she’s…,” Dave says, waving a hand in my general direction.

Did my husband just tell this child psychiatrist that I’m a lush with a vague hand gesture?

My mouth hung open in astonishment. “Yeah, well a glass of wine at night…but JESUS, my parents… whoooo wheeee!”  (Sorry, parents but Dave started it and I needed to deflect so I made it appear that you are the ones who are complete lushes. I assume that one day, my children will throw me under the bus in a similar manner. I hope you understand. Then end.)

That's my wine...served up by my husband.

Minutes later, we were asked to fill out a form, the last two pages of which were very important. I checked off two pages of questions like, does your child pick his nose? Dude, he’s seven. Until last year, there was a boogar wall behind the bunk bed.

Does your child use tobacco? Dude, again… he’s seven.

But seriously.

I was trying to be serious.

You see, Dave and I have a habit of being serious, on our A-game, but little snips of our humor can’t help but squeak out. It’s like needing to fart to relieve some pressure. We can’t stop ourselves. For instance, when asked if Joe had ever been subjected to physical violence we adamantly replied no then Dave added, “Nothing abnormal…you know, ‘go to your room’ and
maybe some yelling…”

“Yeah, we try to hold off on electric shock and cattle prods unless things get really crazy,” I laughed. We all laughed. Then the shrink abruptly stopped laughing again and made a note in his file.

Why do these idiotic statements flow from my mouth like verbal vomit? I mean, really. School psychiatrists don’t normally appreciate the dry and twisted humor of parents attempting to help their child through the social minefield that is first grade. Do they?

Now, by the end of the meeting, Gwen and Kate were losing it. Did I mention that our sitter wasn’t available?

Actually, allow me to give credit where credit is due. Those two little girls sat quietly and patiently for an hour. They colored and played a game on the laptop. They were angels.

Yet, as is typical, in the last five minutes of conference room jail Kate lost her mind.

While we wrapped things up and said things like thank you and we’ll be in touch and yadda yadda…I tried to quiet Kate’s incessant repetitive whiny babbling question with an ill-timed, “Yes, sure Katie.” I really had no idea what she’d asked me. I fell prey to the mother of mothering mistakes – the inattentive, “Yes, honey” response. The one that comes out of our mouths while  we’re trying to engage in a serious discussion with someone like the cops or school shrinks.

We were still wrapping it up with the good doctor and, while Dave chatted with him, I turned to Kate and cheerfully asked, “So what should we do now?”

“I SAID WE GETTING DONUTS YOU KNUCKLEHEEEEAD!”

Between cattle prods, nose picking and knuckleheads, I’m pretty sure the shrink was left wondering what in the hell goes on at our house.

The good news? The authorities have not shown up.

Yet.

Potty (Mouth) Update

Gwen is potty training Kate.

That’s right, my daughter who just turned 5 yesterday afternoon is teaching my 2 1/2 year old how to use the can. I have to hand it to her, she’s doing one heck of a good job!

I’ve tried but Kate hates everyone except Gwen. I think that’s because Gwen is the only one who still tolerates her foul-mouthed tirades. Gwen is such a nice little girl – a natural teacher.

Last weekend we bought Kate a potty seat because she “HATES potties!” I’ve been carefully suggesting that she might like to poop on the potty for a few weeks now, but she has made her stance on the Baby Bjorn potty clear. Mostly, by hurling it across the bathroom and screaming, “NO! I HATE POTTIES!” Notice I used the word “hurling” so that you would understand why I would “carefully” suggest using the potty.

She’s a dream…and not a good one, if you catch my drift.

Since we happened to be in Toys R Us on Saturday, I thought I’d let Kate pick out her own potty seat. You know, to give her a little bit of ownership over the location of her bowel movements. There were three choices. Elmo, Dora and Disney Princesses. She hated all of them.

“I HATE POTTY SEATS!” She screamed. Except it sounded like this: I HATE POTTY THEATS!

“I want this one.” She started patting a Baby Bjorn potty exactly like the one we have at home.

“We already have that potty Kate.”

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I HATE POTTIES!”

I’m beginning to think she might have some type of personality disorder.

Dave and I exhaled at each other and I briefly fantasized about hanging her on a fixture in the baby section. Somehow, I’m fairly sure that most folks aren’t in the market for a whacked-out girl baby that screams profanity-laced hate diatribes. I imagine that she’d be fast-tracked to the clearance bins and then just sit there for a while getting dusty. And screaming…and cursing.

“Fine,” I said, taking a stance, “I’ll pick one for you.” I chucked the Disney Princess potty sit into the cart.

“I HATE YOU!”

“Who’s Mommy’s sweet little pumpkin?”

Insert more screaming here.

Yesterday I was putting the final touches on the cream cheese and jelly sandwiches when Gwen ran into the kitchen to tell me that Kate had just peed on the potty. Joe and I looked at one another hopefully then ran to the bathroom to find Kate wiping herself with piece toilet paper lint and her fingers.

“Yay! Katie you peed on the potty!”

“No. You ahhh-sole, mommy.”

“Don’t call my mommy an asshole!” Gwen defended.

You’re wondering how she learned to say asshole, aren’t you? Well, it all started when we were in the minivan driving to Toys R Us. Seriously, here’s how it went down…

Kate was babbling and annoying Joe who desperately wanted “a quiet ride” despite the fact that there were four other people in the car. (Because I forgot to give him his ADHD medication and the noise was causing him to flip out.) The more Kate babbled, the more annoyed he became. The more annoyed he became, the more Kate babbled and it continued on like that for at least 8 miles. If you haven’t experienced 8 miles (that’s 12.87 km in case you were curious) of a completely idiotic argument between a two year old and a seven year old, you’ve escaped a tiny corner of hell. True story.

At some point, Joe attempted to pull out the big guns and get Kate into serious trouble, thus forcing her into a state of silence. “Kate just called me an asshole!”

“No she didn’t.”

“I’m serious. She called me an asshole.”

“Ahh-sole. Ahh-sole. Ahh-sole.”

“Now she’s saying, asshole Joe!”

“You ahh-sole, mommy.”

So there you have it. Joe taught Kate to say asshole.
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Snakes in Maine

Did you know that Maine has no venomous snakes? We were informed of this tidbit while house-hunting two summers ago, as if that bit of knowledge would suddenly cause us to say, “Oh, well in that case…we’ll take this house right now!”  Being a natural skeptic, I simply nodded my head at the realtor and smiled real pretty-like, reserving my sarcasm for the privacy of our car.

I couldn’t help but wonder how anyone could absolutely know whether or not poisonous snakes exist in a state filled with vast amounts of wilderness. Not only that but, how exactly, does one keep a snake from entering the state? Is there some kind of sentinel standing watch at the border of Maine and New Hampshire? “Can I see your papers please?” The visiting venomous snake pulls out some forged papers claiming that he is a common milk snake and hands it to the snake sentinel. “I’m sorry, sir…your photo looks nothing like you, you’ll have to turn around. We don’t like your kind in Maine.”

I subjected David to a relentless monologue about Maine and snakes after the realtor provided that weird (suspicious) piece of trivia. I have a hard time letting things go and, just as the ride settled into a comfortable silence, I’d ask, “So…do snakes just stop at the state line? Is there some invisible poisonous snake-repelling force field?” or, “Maybe the poisonous ones choose to avoid Maine. So….what? Maine’s not good enough?” I huffed, “Those elitist jerks.” We tend to engage in these types of conversations on road trips. Mostly because we’re slightly twisted and also because we make each other laugh with ridiculous scenarios.

Have you ever visited Maine? The first thing that you see as you cross the state line is a giant sign proclaiming that this is a state that lives life the way it should be lived. Evidently, whoever decided that living “The Way Life Should Be” also decided that life shouldn’t involve venomous snakes.

This morning I walked out of the house to find all three children huddled at the side of the driveway. Upon hearing the screen door shut, they all looked up and began talking simultaneously in a mixture of unintelligible squeals and excited sentences punctuated by high-pitched voice cracking. “Wait…what did you say?” Joe stood and ran toward me holding his hand out, “We found a snake, Mom!” I realized that the hand he was holding out was wrapped in a brown snake and my heart momentarily skipped a beat. Thankfully, I remembered that suspicious claim about Maine having only non-venomous snakes. I’m obsessive enough to have checked the facts and, short of contacting the State Wildlife Agency to confirm, I’m going to proceed living life the way I should…without fear venomous snakes. (The last known sighting of a Timber Rattlesnake in Maine was in 1901.)

Here’s our new (and likely temporary) friend, Mr. Baby Snake a/k/a Bing Bong. I can’t make this shit up.

Of course, after warning that snakes should never be picked up unless you know they aren’t poisonous and even harmless snakes bite, I let Joe hold Mr. Baby Snake who showed no signs of aggression. Plus, his tiny little head wasn’t threatening at all. I suspect that his mouth was too small to get a serious hold on kid fingers. Besides, how could I resist this textbook -boy” moment of exploration? Look at him… I love that smile and his new, too-big-for-his-face front teeth. I’ll think about the orthodontist bills later. For now I’m going to relish his final days as a six-year-old, big crooked teeth and all.

After he’d begrudgingly boarded the school bus and the grumpy bus driver shot me the hairy-eyeball, I realized that I was standing in the driveway in my nightie and a sweater. Whatever… we were having a moment. Besides, she’s pulled up and caught us doing The Robot and playing dead at the end of the driveway, I think it’s safe to assume her opinion of our family has been formed, nightie or no-nightie. (Do people even use the word ‘nightie’ anymore?)

Anywho… Joe was gone and the snake, now renamed Bing Bong, was subject to two inquisitive little girls who proceeded to poke him and decorate him with ornamental leaves. Bing Bong needed to look pretty for his journey home.

 

*Other than a bit of psychological trauma, Bing Bong escaped unharmed.

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The (Not So) Fantastic Fox

Damn it! I try so hard to embrace country life. I do. I swear… I do.

This afternoon Kate got herself all worked up about something in the field. She stood at the french doors that lead to our back yard and the open field beyond and squealed for me to “Come wook! Come wook, Mama, come wook!” Okay, I thought and inwardly sighed while trying to ignore my sinus infection and look thrilled about ‘wooking’. I expected to see a robin or yet another bunch of vapid, gangly turkeys meandering through the grass.

Nope. I saw a red fox. I’ve really only seen the flash of a red fox’s eyes at night as it scampered across the road. Alternatively, I’ve seen them dead and stuffed, dead and skinned or just plain dead and squished. To be honest, I was a little let down by our visitors lack of grooming. He certainly bore no real resemblance to the dapper looking fellow that sounds suspiciously like George Clooney in Fantastic Mr. Fox. There was absolutely no resemblance to the smarmy villain described in that story by Roald Dahl. What I saw was quite simply a mangy looking beast romping in the tall grass on the perimeter of our yard.

He was funny though.

His large ears stood at attention as he froze in place. Then, as if on springs his feet left the ground while he dove through the air then landed and drove his pointed nose into the matted meadow grass. When he resurfaced we saw that he’d caught a field mouse for his lunch. We giggled at his silly antics. Kate clapped her hands together and then smeared her macaroni and cheese coated mouth over the glass to ‘kiss the box.”

Whatever, I’ll clean that later. It was cute.

Mr. Mangy loped off over the crest of the hill and pointed himself to the direction of the woods. We bid him a fond farewell and giddily talked about the box in the backyawd (in layman’s terms that would be ‘the fox in the backyard’). I put my mangy cheese-coated baby upstairs for her nap and then I got to thinkin’…

Aren’t foxes nocturnal? Are they supposed to look that mangy? Why was it so close to my house? What if it eats Stella? What if it eats Kate? What if it has rabies? What if it morphs into a giant wolf-like creature during the full moon and eats the whole family? We should have a gun. We should call an exterminator.

In the past two hours I have gone to the french doors and pressed my nose to the glass several times. I peer through the glass scanning the horizon much like a nervous city-dweller peering out of her peep hole at the sound of movement in her apartment building’s hallway. I know that Mr. Mangy isn’t going to be there, but what if he is? I’ve got pepper spray, a high heel and 911 on speed dial! Maybe someday I’ll lose my city slicker ways.

Inflection

In-flec-tion :  change in pitch or loudness of the voice – a : the change of form that words undergo to mark such distinctions as those of case, gender, number, tense, person, mood, or voice.

Fuck: Slang. (used to express anger, disgust, peremptory rejection, etc., often followed by a pronoun, as you or it. )
Origin: 1495–1505; akin to Middle Dutch fokken.
Related forms : fuck·y, adjective

Sometimes as I write a post, I wonder what people are going to think. After all, my in-laws read this stuff, cousins, aunts and uncles tune in for the latest episode. Friends new and old, people who go to church on a weekly basis, people who have advanced degrees, people who remove children from the homes of unfit parents….gasp. Sometimes even I momentarily wonder what people think of me, as a parent. This is one of those posts.

By 1:00 p.m. yesterday afternoon this precious angel had dropped the f-bomb precisely seven times that I am aware of. That’s right – this is a first hand account of the f-bombs that I actually heard leave the lips of my tiny toddler. When she’s out of ear-shot, I have no idea what she’s saying, thus proceed with the (mistaken) assumption that she probably isn’t saying that word.

I began the day with the admittedly unrealistic hope that the word had lost its appeal during her peaceful slumber. I lay in bed nursing my cold’s second horrible day of existence, while desperately attempting to psych myself up for my gig as Parent Helper. You’ll be fine, I told myself. How bad can three hours be? So what if Kate has to come along? She’ll play and she’ll be perfectly…
“Ah, fuck…I stuck,” she blandly remarked from the behind the gate on her bedroom door. “Daddy? I stuck!”
pause
The sweet whispering voice of my two year old traveled down the hallway. “Fuuuuuck,” she whispered to no one in particular, she was just making an exasperated statement to get her day rolling. I sighed and began to pray that she wouldn’t let it rip in front of the preschool set.
After I dragged my ailing body from my bed and showered, I caught Kate so I might brush her hair into some semblance of respectability. I popped her on top of my bathroom counter, ran the brush through her fine waves and promptly encountered a sticky tangle of mystery goop. Her hand rose to the area of the knot and she furrowed her tiny eyebrows, “OUCH, FUCK MAMA!” Her eyes challenged me to just go ahead and try that again and her language told me that she meant business. Ignoring the mini Clint Eastwood glaring at me in the mirror, I said, “No, no, Kate! Bad word!”

A few minutes later, we were in her bedroom getting her dressed for the day. As I changed her diaper I teased, “Pew! You’re stinky Katie!” She laughed out a hearty, “Ah fuck, I stinky!” I tapped my index finger on her lips and said, “No! Bad word.” She began crying. Clearly, I thought, I need to find a different tactic.

Finally, the girls and I were backing out of the garage when I smacked the passenger side mirror on the way out. (Yes, that’s the third time since January, so sue me.) Of course the loud banging sound was a bit startling and when I got out to fix the mirror, I found it’s guts hanging out. I re-entered the car to Kate’s questioning, “Fuck, Mama?” I mentally thought, yes that’s a big fuck Kate but, taking the advice of some old friends on Facebook, I ignored the word. Perhaps a lack of reaction would help it lose it’s appeal.

The thing is, she’s using it appropriately in every instance. Her inflection is always appropriate. She’s using the F-bomb in a conversational manner and not for shock value. How the fuck do I stop that? I pondered this deeply disturbing revelation as I drove in to town and was lost in thought as we parked and walked into the school. At the threshold of the door Kate froze and shrieked with terror, “FUCK! BUG!” I ignored it and resolved to tell anyone who overheard the following script that I had rehearsed in my head.

No, no…she’s saying ‘frog’…it just sounds like fuck. I know isn’t that silly? We’re working on the pronunciation because it’s really embarrassing. ah ha ha ha!!

I avoided Kate at preschool.

Later, when we’d finally returned to the confines of our house and she started to drop F-bombs again,  I began paying close attention to the myriad ways in which Kate used the word to convey her emotion.

Perhaps my favorite to date happened as she was running through the house then slipped and fell off the step leading into the kitchen. She couldn’t see me stifle a smile as she growled an exasperated, “fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck”  as she lay prone on the floor. Despite myself, that one made me happy.

The final f-bomb that I heard yesterday happened when she fumbled her ba-ba. It hit the floor at her feet and, well…you know what she said. From my sick bed, I heard David’s lame attempts to stop her and slowly drifted off to sleep.

I’ve begun various methods to dissuade her use of that word. I don’t laugh. I’ve sternly said NO! I’ve tapped her lips and said, NO! I’ve said, “do not say FUCK!” I’ve threatened soap – but I think she’s a bit young for that punishment…but then again, she’s also a bit young to have grasped the (im)proper usage of the word “fuck”. I’ll admit that in this area, I have failed as a mother. No need to state the obvious…I haven’t said it in front of her for at least a week.

Privates

Modesty isn’t a huge issue here at my house. However, I’m thinking that we have reached the point where modesty should really be given higher priority on our list of issues. Joe is hurtling toward his 7th year and Gwen isn’t far from beginning her 5th. They’ve been enjoying baths together since Gwen was able to safely sit up in the bathtub. For them, shared baths are normal. As a mother, I have wondered several times over the past two years, when do those shared baths become abnormal?

Sure, they grasp the concept of ‘privates’ and they realize that there are differences between boys and girls. My first glimpse into the inner workings of my boy’s brain and his observations regarding body parts happened about a year and a half ago. One night Gwennie stood up in the bathtub and I caught Joe quizzically performing a visual inspection. I sat back to observe him observing her. I could almost see the wheels spinning in his little head, then he turned to me and said, “Hey Mom…did you know that Gwen has two hineys?”

I tried not to giggle, “Really?”

“Yup, she has a big hiney on her back and a little tiny hiney on her front…see?”

I attempted to quietly put the kibosh on the shared baths after that evening, but it hasn’t worked out as I intended. The girls outnumber the boys in this house. We have a toddler who is currently going through her ‘self-discovery’ stage and she has no shame in exposing her parts. Let me tell you something…there is nothing quite as shocking as walking into the family room to find your suddenly nude toddler performing an in-depth inspection of her girl parts. And when I say inspecting, I mean really inspecting.

Of course, we try to dissuade her public inspections but we also don’t want to make it seem ‘dirty’. She has reached that stage of development where children naturally begin exploring their parts. The diaper has given way to training pants and a whole new world has opened up. The problem is we’ve had a seemingly endless stream of children exploring his or her parts for about four years now. First it was Joe, followed by Gwen and now Kate. Nudity seems to be the norm for these kids. If nothing else, they’re comfortable in their own skin.

Last night, Gwen hopped into the tub with Joe who promptly stuck his naked hiney in her face and screamed, “Wash my butt!” I don’t know about you, but the last memory I’d want to have is one of my brother’s naked butt sticking in my face. Thankfully, Gwen scowled and said, “Eeeww, Joe! Get your butthole out of my face!”

Having successfully talked him into putting his bottom back underwater, bath time proceeded nicely. I was washing Gwen’s hair when she looked up at me and said, “Don’t worry, Mom…I won’t touch Joe’s balls.”

Shared bath-time ends now.

Cribs May Contribute to Weird, Anti-Social Behavior

A few weeks ago we fell victim to a rookie mistake in parental judgment. I chalk it up to fatigue but maybe deep down inside, I was subconsciously pulling off the proverbial band aid and letting go of my last baby’s babyness. (No, that is not a word but deal with it, huh?)

Kate had begun climbing out of her crib so, exhibiting our seemingly endless supply of parental wisdom, we decided that it was time to set up her big girl bed. Our thought process on this one was simple…at least if she falls out of her bed the drop isn’t as far as a fall from the top of the crib. I know, we’re a couple of geniuses.

Mostly, I felt the urge to purge the crib from our house once and for all. Though its not technically purged, it has been vanquished to the attic for the remainder of its life.

It served us well, that inherited crib. One of my dearest friends passed that Jenny Lind onto us when Gwen was just a bun in the oven. Before either of our girls was even a glint in my eye, her two beautiful girls slept in it. Let’s pause for a moment and reflect upon the sheer number of babies who began their sleeping careers that crib.

Alas, there comes a time when no prison cell  crib can hold one of our babies. Gwen was a pro at scaling the sides of the crib by 16 months and decided that she would sleep in nothing but a “big girl bed” by the time she was 18 months old.

Kate, being the youngest, enjoyed the longest run in her baby prison. She made it to the ripe old age of 24 and 1/2 months. I’ve got her beat. I’m willing to bet that I slept in a crib longer than anyone that reads this post. Care to wager? I slept in a crib until I was about 7 years old. Weird, huh?

I had a bed. A nice twin sized bed that matched my sister’s. We even shared a bedroom… until my parents sold our house, moved us all to upstate New York and into our tiny summer house. That is where I was forced to re-enter the crib. I was in Kindergarten. The summer house was a pit stop while my parents renovated our farm house, so the crib was my “crib” for a couple of years. But I digress….

Since Kate had begun scaling the prison crib walls, I felt that she was emitting a cry for help. After my own unfortunate and lengthy crib-dwelling years, I wanted to get her into a bed before she ended up all weird and anti-social, like me.

We pulled the bed out of the attic and set it up right next to Gwen’s. If we were first time parents that night would have been tragic but this is our third go at helping a little kid transition into a big kid bed.

Sometime around 11:00 p.m., a time now defined as our new “wee hours” (as in 11:00 p.m. is the new 3:00 a.m.), we heard a dull thud followed by some muffled crying. Don’t worry the floor is covered in cushy, plush carpeting, and we didn’t start laughing until after we determined that she was alright. Sure, she was technically wedged between the bed and the dresser a little but she suffered no injuries. At most she probably experienced the sensation of falling followed by that weird, where the hell am I? state of confusion. Kind of like that time in college when you went on a bender and woke up in someone’s apartment with the Pillsbury Dough Boy costume hanging from the ceiling…what? Oh, that didn’t happen to you?

The next day I picked up some bed rails. She hasn’t fallen out again, but did initially have some trouble understanding that she is supposed to sleep on the bed, not next to it.

Have you seen it?
Katie over at Chicken Noodle Gravy just dished about No. 7! In all seriousness, I am incredibly flattered by the feature that Katie wrote. Head over and check it out and while you’re there take some time to explore Katie’s blog – she’s a wonderful writer. Chicken Noodle Gravy is one of my absolute FAVORITES!! Thank you so much, Katie! I’m floating somewhere up around cloud 9 right now…

Beulah’s Thoughts on Sign Language

We never got sucked into the whole “Teach Your Baby to Sign” craze. Mostly, I refrained for selfish reasons. I like listening to toddlers butcher the English language. I am amused when I hear a tiny girl sporting freshly grown pigtails screaming what sounds like filthy obscenities in the middle of Home Goods. Why? Well, because I know that she’s saying “NO PUSHY!” but the two horrified old ladies who were just admiring her beauty thought she was screaming, “NO PUSSY!” Call me immature, but that was a bright spot in an otherwise lackluster day. Plus, I’ve found that a toddler shouting what sounds like the most vulgar of words serves a dual purpose. Besides making me chuckle, it effectively clears the aisles of annoying old ladies who otherwise feel entitled to bump you with their carts or unabashedly rip a fart while refusing to move a 1/2 inch to the right, thus blocking my passage.

The other reason that I never jumped on the “Teach Your Baby to Sign” bandwagon is purely the result of an interaction I had with an annoying woman who lived in our Boston neighborhood.

One afternoon Joe and I were out for a walk, he couldn’t have been much more than 18 months old, when we were stopped by that nosey old coot who I’ll call Beulah. “Oh, well isn’t he just precious,” Beulah cooed. We continued with some lame small talk and then Beulah asked, “Does he use sign language? Because so and so’s baby does sign language.” I politely explained that Joe did not use sign language because Joe could speak. “Well,” she sniffed, “so and so’s baby is very smart” except that she pronounced it smaht. Beulah then had the nerve to cast a pity-filled, forlorn grimace at my toddler as if he was the new neighborhood idiot.

For some odd reason, I suddenly found myself embarking on a mission to make this particular Beulah understand that our son wasn’t stupid, we simply didn’t feel it necessary to teach him sign language when he was perfectly capable of speaking. No matter what I said, she couldn’t seem to grasp the concept of learning to talk using your mouth. Beulah scoffed at the fact that we were teaching him to speak…using his voice and some words.  She simply refused to believe that my child could possibly lead a productive life without first knowing how to sign the word “milk”.

My neglectful parenting just didn’t sit well with Beulah. All of the smaht neighborhood children were signing, you know. After engaging in this circular (idiotic) argument for approximately five minutes too long, I realized that I was having a conversation with a tactless moron. Of course, being me, I bid her a curt farewell and wondered if she understood the universal sign for ‘fuck you’, but I refrained from using it. Besides, I had to hurry home and teach Joe how to say grapes in Spanish with our new Baby Einstein flash cards. Las Uvas…

Have you ever had a run in with a Beulah? Click here to find out what a Beulah is.

Have you ever laughed while reading Narragansett No. 7? Yes? That’s great! Now don’t be such a Beulah…go cast a vote!
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Tune in Tokyo!

I know, you’re asking yourself, now why in the world is she posting a lame clip from a truly lame 80’s movie? Well, because today, in an effort to fill the day with fun activities, I jumped into a deep jacuzzi tub with the girls. Or shall I say, my two daughters and I jumped into the tub and Kate discovered my girls?

This toddler seems to show a lot more interest in human anatomy than the other two did. I spent the better part of bath-time being felt up, tweaked, twisted and pinched by a grabby two-year old. As she performed a dual boobie twist, I was reminded of the line, “Tune in Tokyo.”

It all started when I turned the jets on and the bubbles accumulated. Suddenly, Kate became enthralled with a new game called Find the Nipples.

To begin with, I’m not all that modest. I don’t feel the need to cover my girl parts when the kids come crashing into the bathroom. In my past, I had no problems with topless beaches when visiting another country. However, I draw the line at letting a kid use my boobs as another disposable play thing.

A few months ago, I left the television in the kitchen on for background noise. Normally, as soon as The View comes on, I run to turn the channel. I can’t stand the cackling noises that come from that group of women as they vehemently argue about things like Charlie Sheen’s parenting skills or Chris Brown’s violent behavior. Yet, about twice a year, I find myself sucked in to their weird conversations, like the time Elizabeth Hasselbeck described peeing in a diaper while stuck in traffic.

On one particular show this winter, that bunch of cackling hens clucked about bath time with their children. Barbara piped in and explained how, when her daughter was little, they “bonded” during their communal baths. I thought, huh…I do that, but I never looked at it as a bonding opportunity. More like, I’d love to take a Jacuzzi tub but the minute I run the water, the kids come running as if candy is dripping from the faucet. I say if you can’t beat them, let them hop in.

Gwen never showed any real fascination with my boobs beyond complimenting me on their size. Apparently, in Gwen’s mind, my boobs are GINORMOUS, which is funny because I can buy training bras in the kid’s section at Target or, in the alternative, skip the bra altogether. Gwen never grabbed a boob.

Kate digs boobs. Kate likes to play Radio Operator with my boobs. She’ll stop at nothing to locate boobs. Nothing can dissuade her from her bizarre infatuation and, wearing a look of intense determination; she forages through the bubbles until she finds them, and then squeals with delight, as if she has uncovered the lost ark of the Covenant.

So on this lovely Thursday morning, I endured precisely 15 minutes of Tune in Tokyo before I finally called it quits. I left Kate and Gwen to enjoy what was to have been my warm, relaxing bubble-filled Jacuzzi tub. Within minutes, I heard Gwen yell, “Kate! Stop pinching my boobies!”

I couldn’t help but wonder how Barbara Walters handled getting felt up by her daughter.

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Gag

Ten years ago, if someone had told me that someday I’d love a person capable of biting his own toenails without feeling a lick of shame about his disgusting grooming habit, I would have scoffed. That’s right, I would have completely disregarded the person prophesying my love for a dirty toenail biter. The prophet would have been on the receiving end of one of my trademark sneers of disgust (I don’t do that on purpose, they are naturally occurring phenomenon). I’d have bid that person a curt farewell and turned on my heel without a bit of remorse at leaving an insane person in my dust. Well, if I had scoffed at that prediction, I’d look like a fool today and I’d be forced to apologize for being such a self-righteous, snooty bitch.

This afternoon I called Joe into the bathroom to help him clip his toenails. (Yes, this is one of the more glamorous requirements of motherhood.) I’ll admit it, in the winter months when their little feet are covered in socks, I tend to forget the toenails. So shoot me, there are worse acts of neglect than failure to clip a six-year-old kid’s gnarly little toenails.

Anywho, since he was in the middle of a rousing game of Super Mario, my beck and calls were being largely ignored. Somewhere around my third and increasingly screechy demand to “get upstairs RIGHT NOW or so help me…”, he yelled back, “It’s okay, I trimmed them myself!”

Silenced by his declaration, I stood in my bathroom with the toenail clippers in hand, wearing a look of bewilderment. In one of those weird moments where a million different scenarios rush through a mom’s mind, I wondered how he had found the clippers. I worried that he had cut himself or even worse, had gangrenous ingrown toenail festering.

Trying to play it cool, I meandered downstairs and asked exactly when he’d last trimmed his nails. “Uh…all the time”, he absently responded while ground-pounding Bowser. I began to think that I’d missed some sort of shift in maturity that carried a new interest in personal grooming. “So, what did you use to trim them?” My question was followed with a sigh and a look of annoyance. “Well, Joe?” He impatiently answered, “My teeth” and rolled his eyes. If he had added a ‘duh’ to the end of his statement I wouldn’t have been shocked.

After a lengthy discussion about proper grooming methods, I left the room and began pondering some of the atrocious, gag-inducing moments we’ve experienced over the past six years. 

It all began with the dried up umbilical cord. It fell off and clung to the front of my shirt as I held my newborn son. All I could see was that tiny little blackened and shriveled appendage. I gagged and someone had to come in and remove it for me. Needless to say, I’m not one of those mothers who lovingly placed the disembodied umbilical cord into a tiny bag and pasted it into a baby book for future viewing.

Months later, following a week-long vacation, we returned to our little apartment with our newly-crawling son. Our cat, a very fuzzy Persian named Rosie O’Kitty, held down the fort in our absence. Despite the cat sitter’s daily interaction, Rosie tended to get a bit miffed when we left her alone. Getting miffed caused her to do weird things, like lick herself incessantly. Evidently, Rosie was pretty miffed that week because she had hacked up hairballs all over the floor. Stifling my gag reflex, I walked around the apartment and picked up petrified wads of cat hair/vomit before the baby was allowed on the floor. I wiped each spot with disinfecting cleaner and congratulated myself for having it all under control.

Minutes later I heard chewing sounds. Thinking it was Joe’s teething ring, I continued unpacking and stumbled upon Joe’s teething ring. It took a millisecond to realize that whatever he was chewing on wasn’t good. Overcome with dread, I bent down to peer beneath the table. There he sat with his chubby little fist wrapped around an old, dried up hairball that I had missed. He used his new teeth to chomp on the dried cat hair/vomit repeatedly as I scrambled to reach him. I think I screamed and threw up in my mouth all at the same time. David came running and cringed when he saw what I was holding in my hand. Joe sat on the floor crying at the loss of his new teething ring. I sat on the floor crying in disgust. The cat sashayed over to me and stuck her fuzzy ass in my face.

Yet, I don’t think anything can trump the mother of all disgusting things. It happened last summer. It was a warm, sunny day not unlike the day before. Except that we had a new puppy…and a one year old. Our (blissfully childless) friends were minutes from our house after a long drive and, as David confirmed their location via telephone, Kate entered the kitchen wearing a face full of chocolate. Her hands were coated in it too. I thought, ‘Huh…well, that’s odd. We don’t have any chocolate in the house.” It was right about that moment that the smell hit me. My mind focused in on the fact that the thing in her hand wasn’t a melting chocolate bar. I shrieked and threw up in my mouth at the same time. David grabbed Kate and disinfected her while I scrubbed the area rug in our living room.

There was a lot of manic swearing and mouth breathing as we cleaned the baby and the rug. I’m pretty sure that I kept yelling, “Oh my god! Do you think she tasted it?”

These are the kind of things that people need to tell you about before you have children.



*Chocolate frosting…but it seemed appropriate.



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