Friday, December 30, 2005
Q: Dear Vlad,
I am perplexed by the behavior of my 18 month old child. She has recently taken to throwing full out temper tantrums every time that I tell her “No”. This occurs even when I telling her “No” for a good reason, like not petting a rabid dog, or touching live power lines. Is there some other way I can convey my intentions to her without the giant hissy fit being thrown?
I am Vlad the Impaler! Ruler of Wallachia. In one day, I impaled 30,000 merchants for disobeying trade laws and left their bodies to rot outside the city walls. None shall disobey me.
When the Turkish ambassador refused to remove their Phrygian hats, I had the hats nailed to their heads to remind them of my power. I have bathed in rivers of blood and rejoiced in the suffering of my enemy’s.
In reference to your spawn, I suggest you impale her on a stick and see how she likes it. If she continues to defy you, I would cut off her hands to keep her from touching anything you have decreed off limits. If she persists on screaming, her tongue can easily be removed.
Now leave my sight, before I send the army of Romania to destroy your bloodline.*
*The views of Vlad the Impaler do not reflect the views of the editorial staff and must be viewed in the light of one demonic rulers opinion.
Feel free to submit your own child development questions to Vlad. He would be happy to respond.
Thursday, December 29, 2005
There it was. The answer to all life’s mysteries. A magazine quiz about how to tell if your man was really “into” you. Of course, this was accompanied by a photograph of a nubile 16 year old in a push up bra with come hither eyes.
On the drive home, I pondered the real quiz. You know – the real life quiz. The “I want to marry you (or settle down and make a life commitment for my gay and lesbian peeps for whom this isn’t an option quite yet), and possibly have children with you and have a joint checking account and wash your underwear” quiz.
So I decided to write one. This is my “Real life Partnership Quiz”. Play along at home. Write your own questions, even. It isn’t how good you look on the second date. It isn’t sex secrets that will keep him satisfied. It’s life. And Life ain’t pretty….
My partner Always waits for me (wink, wink , know what I mean… Waits…)
a) Yes. Fair is Fair. In fact, I generally get to go first.
b) Not usually. Is something else supposed to happen? It isn’t all about him?
c) What are you talking about?
You have a raging case of the flu. You are vomiting and spreading effluvia about the house. Your partner:
a) Gets up and begins cleaning – making sure you are all right, helps to put toothpaste on your toothbrush, then brings you water and puts you back into bed
b) Mutters “Are you OK” and then falls back to sleep
c) Sleeps through it completely and then gets mad at you for making him “sick”
You are experiencing a wicked bout of PMS. Does your partner:
a) Remarks how lovely you look today and offer to make dinner
b) Asks if there is anything wrong with you
c) Wonders aloud why you are being a “wicked bitch” and then talks about “that time of the month” and being “on the rag”
You have had a miserable day at work. Your partner:
a) Listens patiently and offers no suggestions about how to fix it, while handing you a glass of wine
b) Suggests that he kick your co-workers asses
c) Tells you that he has his own problems and to stop whining - JESUS!
You and your partner have a child. You both work. Do you:
a) Share sick days so that both of you don’t get in trouble at work
b) Mainly it is Mom who stays home, but he will if it’s REALLY important
c) Husbands don’t’ take care of sick children. Ever.
The sick child vomits profusely at 3 a.m. Does you partner;
a) Gets up and helps you start laundry while bathing said child and changing all sheets and linens and carpet, and walls
b) Ask if you need any help while remaining firmly in bed
c) Sleeps through it and asks why you are so tired the next morning.
The biggest fight you have had involves:
c) How you have let yourself “go” and if you loved him you would be more enthusiastic about oral sex
You are going out with girlfriends. Does your partner:
a) Smile and say “Have a great time Honey”
b) Complains about having to “babysit” his child
c) Doesn’t come home so you have to cancel your plans
Your partner knows the correct answer to “Does this make me look fat?’
a) Yes. The answer is always “No” – Regardless.
b) He answers honestly and tells me when I could stand to lose a few pounds
c) He needs no prompting to tell me that my ass is taking over the house
You have gone out and spent $200 on two pairs of shoes. Does you partner:
a) Tell you that you work hard and deserve those amazing shoes – Besides it IS your money
b) Ask why you need another pair of shoes
c) Complain that you could have bought him some video game
Bonus Question (For Elizabeth , whose husband TOTALLY aced this one)
You have three children, one of whom is a newborn. Does your husband:
a) Let you sleep uninterrupted for several hours while attending to all the children cause he knows how tired you are
b) Lets the children crawl all over you shouting “Mommy – I’m Hungry”, so that you never fall asleep and then thrusts a crying baby in your directions saying “I don’t have boobs”
c) Leaves the house and goes out to a sports bar
Tuesday, December 27, 2005
I played 4 games of Harry Potter "Uno", read three chapters of "Half Blood Prince", played two games of speech therapy concentration, watched and applauded the show of "Dance Dance Revolution" game her Auntie gave her, drew her a bath with the new Bath Confetti that Santa brought, looked at an atlas of the night sky and pointed out the constellations that are out now, took out a National Geographic map of the world and discussed the migration of our various family lineages, heard a reading of "The Pup speaks Up" and wrestled with said child on the floor.
What I was SUPPOSED to be doing is working on my hypothesis for my doctoral program. So, at 7 p.m., I asked Terrance to take over.
Me: "Honey, leave the internet up. I want to check my email and then I need to do some writing about Vivan Paley."
Me: "Writing. I need to work on my writing..."
Terrance: "Did you say you were writing about Vlad the Impaler?"
Me: "(laughing) NO! What does Vlad the Implaer have to do with Early Childhood education and the effects of social emotional development on later school academic achievements?"
Terrance: "That's what I was wondering."
Me: "Although I suppose that could be a REAL fun project..."
Can you imagine the "Test" scenerios?
Monday, December 26, 2005
It smells really great ~ all buttery, cinnamon warm deliciousness. Then you bite into it.
And the saddest part is that you are so hungry, you try to pick off all the cooked parts off the dough and eat those, along with a fair amount of uncooked dough.
Next Year: Pre-cooked cinnamon rolls.
Saturday, December 24, 2005
I'm not kidding. You'll be doing your thing and suddenly "AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH"
comes from the other room. I think of it as her "tea kettle" mechanism. She is so excited that she can barely stand it, and in all honesty it is Fun to see her like this.
So I leave you all, the blog friend world, with tidings of comfort and joy.
I am one of the Q&A folks on "mommybloggers" this round. Check them out!
Friday, December 23, 2005
Guess who flipped out this morning about it and then began having shooting chest pains?
Guess who is home with the child who is out on school vacation?
Guess who needs to chill the heck out?
That's right. It's not me, I'm the smart one. I take anti-depressants!
Sigh. Looks like I am going to have to give up some Good sex tonight in order to calm this man down.
* I did ask if his life insurance was up to date. He did not seem to find that terribly funny.
And we found the wallet. He left it at the restaurant.
Thursday, December 22, 2005
Wednesday, December 21, 2005
No Child. No Husband. No one telling me that they had to pee. No one asking me where their “Book, paper, belt, magazine, shoes, or insert your own request here”
I also began to think on what it means to be a “working mother”. The old bumper sticker says “Every mother is a working mother”, and while that is wholly true, it also blurs the lines in what is arguably the knife in the heart of the feminist movement today.
Stay at Home Mom VS Work away from home Mom. Women VS Women.
Prior to becoming a mother, I was a child care provider for other mothers. More specifically, I was an Infant child care provider. I had babies as young as 4 weeks old handed to me while their mothers departed for work. I patted the backs of crying mothers and handed them tissues as they walked out the door in the first days and weeks of their being back to work. I told them to call me every hour if they needed to, that it was not a bother. I smiled when they showed me how their babies liked to be held and how they liked to be fed. I tried to help them move across the chasm that had opened in their hearts and in their lives. I was a plucky Sherpa, leading them up the Everest of motherhood.
Every woman handled this transition differently. I liken it to what it must have been like for my mother, as a Maternity Nurse, watching different women experience labor and birth. There are no absolutes.
Some women walked briskly away from me, after handing me their baby. Some were so overwhelmed that they feared their total breakdown in front of me – a stranger. Others were overjoyed to be returning to work, a place where they felt competent. For yet others, the fear of giving their child to a stranger was the strongest emotion. Would I be another “Nanny from Hell” who would beat and abuse their baby?
There was always a second wave to these new emotions. Was I judging them? Were they measuring up to what I, a child care professional, had seen before? Were they doing it right?
At the time, I was less aware of this second wave. I was not yet a mother, and I assumed that every woman, having given birth, was secure in her knowledge that she was doing fine. I know now that this is not true. The whole “giving birth” thing is the easiest part of the job. The real merconium hits the fan after the baby is there.
In hindsight, the best gift I gave all those mothers was the actual love I felt for their children. I adored my job. I liked these babies and I liked their mothers.
My confession was that I did judge them.
While it shames me to admit this, I had a lot of opinions about who was a good mother and who was not. Did she bring the baby in sick AGAIN? What do you mean she forgot the diapers? If she really loved her baby, she wouldn’t drop her off here when she had a day off, she would keep her with her and enjoy some time with her own child! When I was feeling particularly nasty I would think, “I see this child more hours than the parent does!”
Of course, we all know what happened to uppity child care professionals who think they know everything, right? That’s right ~ they give birth to a high need screamer who pukes all the breast milk up, doesn’t sleep and won’t gain weight. They also go into a crushing depression that lasts for three years. They get judged a bad mother by their own child care provider, even though the mother is the Director of the child care. They cry, a lot. They regret thinking mean thoughts about other mothers.
I also was required to face the essential paradox of the working mother. I am Dammed if I do…anything. Working makes me selfish. Working makes me materialistic. Working makes me a cold, career driven bitch that, if she had a maternal bone in her body, would stay at home and parent her child. I mean, why bother having a baby if you are just going to hand her over to someone else to raise, right?
It isn’t that simple. Yes, for some mothers, they work to provide income. They may be a single parent, or a partner who needs to bring home an income to keep the family going from paycheck to paycheck. I admire them.
Some mothers choose to stay at home because they want to, and have a partner that can afford for them to do so. I also admire them.
Some mothers really like their jobs. They may have chosen career paths that took a while to build, or required a lot of education. They may feel good when they are able to contribute to their profession in a meaningful way. I suspect that these mothers understand that their mental health is tied up in maintaining a part of this non-mommy identity. I know that this applies to me.
I like to work. I am a better mommy because I work. If I had lived in an era that forced me to stay at home, I would most likely be a Valium addicted alcoholic. The best gift I gave my child was exposing her to other adult caregivers who weren’t depressed. I gave her child care professionals like me.
However, my fondest wish is for all women to be able to say what path is right for them, without any other woman doing any eye-rolling, or tsk-tsking at their decision. I recall a very startling conversation I had with another mother in my daughter’s Infant room. We were talking about having more babies, and if we would, if our husbands wanted more. She turned to me and said, “I’d love to have another baby, but I would feel really guilty about having three in child care.”
“Why?” I said.
“You know”, she said “THREE children ~ all in child care? What kind of mother would I be?”
I smiled. “A mother who likes to work”, I said. “A mother who is a better mother because she knows she likes to work and doesn’t feel guilty for it.”
I hope that was a gift for her.
Tuesday, December 20, 2005
I had just finished wrapping the gifts that are stashed away for her and realized that we would have no room for her new things, due to the plehtora of stuff that she owns currently.
Now, Emily is her mother's daughter. I am a pack rat, who is begat of a long line of pack rats. I know why it is important to keep that tiny scrap of paper that your friend gave you in 7th grade, cause it's, you know, special. However, I now must balance my own pack rat tendancies, with the pack rat tendancies of my child. My mother's house in Vermont is FILLED to the rafters with all my accumulated stuff. She once tried to threaten me with a yard sale, hoping this would motivate me to come and denude her spare room of my 35 years of accumulated junk and I called her bluff. "Do it", I said.
She couldn't. She couldn't bear to give any of our things away. I knew she wouldn't.
So, when I have to "mommy clean", I have to wait for Emily to exit the house. If she is present for the cleaning, every scrap, every old marker cap, every bent or broken piece of crayon becomes her "Faaaaavvvvvoooooiiiiittttteeee" that she "nnnnnneeeeeeeeedddddddsssssss"
On Sunday, I spent nearly three hours in her room. I mega-cleaned. I placed every piece of everything back into it's assigned place. If a marker had dried up, I tossed it. If a coloring book had been filled, I tossed it. I dug things out from under the bed, found things stuffed into small boxes and nooks and crannies. I threw away a bag full of garbage.
She came home and said "Thanks Mom - my room looks good" . "Yes", I said, "and I'd like you to keep it clean for Santa ~ he needs space to put your new things!"
Of course, this lasted for about 35 minutes. Because of the Box. If you want to give a child of just about any age a really good time, give them a big box. First I had to pretend I was shipping her to Alaska, then the box became a cave, until the box changed into a house.
So here it what her room looked like by Monday Morning. She had decided to make the box into a house and then to camp out in her house box that night.
But it was this mornings scene which stopped me in my tracks - This is the scene after night 2 of the campout in the box:
So yes, It is messy again. I understand why my mother generally just gave up and closed our door. I mean, it is so clear that this is the room of a happy kid ~ a best beloved kid. She is my daughter through and through.
Monday, December 19, 2005
But I resisted. Barely.
As are all children in the countdown before the gift orgy that is Christmas, my own child is off the ever-loving wall. I threatened to eat her yesterday. Cannabalism, Folks. I threatened Cannabalism. Where are the Holiday songs about Cannabalism? We could start a new trend.
So this is a mish mash of a bunch of my thoughts over the last weekend. I never had time to sit down and write the witty, all inclusive blog entry as I was busy wrapping an obscene amount of gifts, cleaning and mailing 75 christmas cards. And I decided to buy a new address book and swap all the names over ( which, might I add is NOT a good idea on the weekend before Christmas).
Thought 1: Even though they have the built in "support" - This camisole is not prepared for what we are bringing to the boob table. Note to self. Wear a bra.
Thought 4: The tree honestly did not look this big in the field when we tagged it in October.
I measured it on Friday - Any guesses? ?? 10 and a half feet tall. That's a big ass tree.
Here are some ornaments from my tree. I always like to see what makes people's tree's different. Here are some of mine.:
Year 2005 - Dawn Graduates from Graduate school
Year 2003: Dawn Starts Grad school, works full time and parents a yet to be diagnosed ADD child:
Year 2004: Dawn is in grad school and spends many weekends out with her fellow students. She has a pretty good time!
This was from 1993 - the year Terrance proposed... Get it? Pigs Flew!
And Finally - This was the one I chose for Terrance this year. In honor of his "encounter":
Thursday, December 15, 2005
Terrance: "Do you want the Steak? With the peppers?"
Me: "Yeah, that's fine, I'm not that hungry."
Terrance: "Do you want anything else with that? Vegetables?"
Me: "No, The steak and peppers is fine."
Terrnace: "No other vegetables? Perhaps some...........................Peas?"
Me: "No, Peppers are fine, I don't need......HEY! Are you still trying to get me to eat your ball icing peas?"
Terrance: "Maybe I am."
Oh , he is a funny one, that husband of mine.
Wednesday, December 14, 2005
I grew up with a very unhappy father. Emily has never met him, and doesn’t even know his name. She only knows that her “Poppa” is my step father and that my real father was a “bad man, not so nice”. As an adult, I suspect that he is an undiagnosed bi-polar, among many other issues. He was a Marine and an enlisted Vietnam Vet. I have not seen him since I was 14 years old.
Now, believe me. I have had 17 years of therapy. I have held pitty parties for my bizarre childhood and myself. I have been angry. I have moved on.
However, I have to recognize at holiday times that there are forces that move within me. Forces that even 17 years of therapy don’t expunge. Dragging these forces, these undercurrents take a lot of energy, for they do not like to be examined and fight, kicking and screaming every step of the way.
Holiday’s were not happy times in my home. There were copious fights. Christmas trees were thrown down stairs in fits of rage. Christmas trees were hacked up in fits of rage. One Christmas eve, my father ran outside of our house on Base with his shotgun, yelling that if he saw Santa, he would shoot him. I was six. I locked him out of the house and hid under my parent’s bed. My mother unlocked the door and chased him through the house screaming, “She’s little, Donald, don’t hurt her!”. Or the Christmas morning that I took a nap and when I woke, all my gifts were gone. My father stood in the living room and told me that I was bad and that Santa had changed his mind and taken everything back.
It seems to be my instinct at Holiday times to pick fights with people that I love. You see, when you are angry with someone, they can’t disappoint you. Anger makes sure that you don’t have to face what, or why or who. You can just be Angry.
Most of the past seven years, I have worked very hard to make traditions for my daughter. For the most part, I have been successful. Terrance is gentle with me at this time of year and for that, I am supremely grateful.
So, be gentle with yourselves and the people that you love. I think that is one of the best gifts that we can give. Understanding.
* Title Taken from the Song “Most Wonderful Time of the Year”. It was always the line that made me think, “What does this have to do with Christmas?”
Tuesday, December 13, 2005
Me, sitting in my bed with new quilt, chatting merrily about all my internet friends and obsessively working on a new project.
Me: And so, then I was reading this other blog and she took pictures of the hotel room that was Advertised and the one she Got, I also like that she was discussing the bad idea that Eminem and his ex wife get back together, cause they do seem to have some relationship issues that I suggest they may want to work on before they get back together – like the killing and maiming issues….
Terrance ( headphones on, listening to his illegally downloaded music): Can you pass me the digital camera – I want to down load that picture for my mother.
Me: You weren’t even listening to me , were you?
Terrance: “Yes, I was.”
Me: “NO, you weren’t – you just interrupted me to ask me to pass you the camera – that was not listening to me.”
Terrance: “Dawn, you are talking about a bunch of people I don’t know, what do you want me to say?”
Me: “What else do you want to talk about? Emily? Emily? Emily? How about some more Emily?”
Terrance: “No, we could talk about Christmas, or your application to McGill, or lots of other things.”
Me: “Congratulations. I no longer want to talk with you at all. You win!”
Terrance: “I’m listening if you want to talk…”
Me: “Talking to you right now is the very LAST thing I want to do.”
This Morning, I am leaving for work:
Me: Give me a hug cause I love you even though you really piss me off sometimes.”
Terrance: “What are you talking about?”
Me: “Are you being facetious? “
Terrance: “No. What did I do to deserve that?”
Me: “I was really angry with you last night – when you were ignoring what I was saying…”
Terrance: “Dawn, I honestly do not know what you are talking about”
Me: “Wow. I Honestly don’t think you do. All right then, have a good day.”
Saturday, December 10, 2005
So I do. I cross stitch, I scrapbook for Emily, I braid wool rugs, I make these picture cards from National Geographic and foist them upon every teacher I know to infuse Authentic Cultural Diversity into the Whiteness that is our schools and child care centers.
I also quilt. Not "by the light of the kerosene lamp until my eyesight goes and I can't support my fatherless child" quilting, but quilting nonetheless.
So, I present to you, the "millennium Quilt". You may notice that we are several years past the "millennium". Yeah, I know. Sue me. The concept was this. Take 2000 different squares (ALL DIFFERENT!) and make a quilt. Do it before the Year 2000 was up.
Well. What can I say? Shit happens. I had accumulated all the 3" squares, but never the chutzpah to finish the quilt. This fall I was struck by a bolt of inspiration ( HAHA a fabric joke!) and actually put fabric to needle and got the face of the quilt done. Of course, being so close to finishing the quilt, it sat next to my bed for the past three months whispering to me. "Finish Me ~ Finish Me, Dawn, it'll feel good, I promise".
Yesterday, I gave in. I finished the quilt. I knew it was going to be gorgeous. My quilts are full of audacious color. I quilt in Purples and Oranges and Magentas. When one of my bestest girlfriends in the whole wide world lived right next door to me, we would celebrate the completion of a quilt with a cup of tea, while we admired the handiwork of the smart, modern and versatile women that we are. We did this because our husbands never quite had the correct appreciation for this labor of love.
So, I present to you all: The millennium Plus 5 years Quilt!
Friday, December 09, 2005
Now, I am normally Not the stay at home parent ~ for the myraid of reasons I have outlined in previous posts. Not one of my strengths. However, Terrance is in Baton Rouge, filling his belly with cajun food and staying in a hotel that he has started to call "Crack Ho Comfort Inn". He anticipates being offerred a "gum job" at any moment. As any wife would, I asked to be called right way, cause I want to hear the line the Crack Ho might use to seduce him. My white-ness finds these sorts of things fascinating.
So, I am home. I am hanging on with a strength that is admirable. I called my friend Cindy last night during one of the 2 hour screamfest's that Emily launched upon me at 8 p.m. Talking to another adult, whilst my daughter screamed "You're a teacher Mommy - You help other kids, why won't you come and help Meeeeeeeee?", was immensely helpful and I did not beat my child. But the prospect of a snow day? Geessh.
I feel asleep with mixed feelings. I could really use a day off, but a day at home with any age child is not a day off. So this morning when I woke up, I flicked on the TV and scanned the school closings for the up or down vote. Emily, master ninja that she is, popped up in bed next to me and said "Do I have school?"
Nope. Called off. I crawled out of bed and called into work. Looking out the window, I thought "What a piddly storm. This better not be it." So, at 6:40 a.m., I took these pictures:
Not much. I was somewhat Disgusted and went back into the bedroom.
At 9:30, I went out to Dunkin Donuts for coffee, and when I returned I took these:
Ok, A little Better. The wind is picking up. And It seems to be coming down harder. By 11:00 a.m., we've got drifts:
Between noon and 2 p.m., all hell breaks loose.
At 4p.m., my daughter turns to me and says, "Mama, are you going to go out and get Chinese food?"
Sure, If I can find my car.....
Thursday, December 08, 2005
Yes, I like Hobbits. I love Wizards. I adore Dragons. I am overwhelmed by Orcs. I am all aflutter over Aslan.
This love of mine has been generally underground. Aside from a conversation in which I roughly and emphatically corrected my husband regarding how the name of a particular Wizard in “Lord of The Rings” was pronounced, and WHY that was important, I rarely unfurl this particular fetish in public. I quietly buy and read my books. I buy the tickets to the movies and I rejoice when they are done well.
And then, I was Outed by this:
For all you wand needs:
Raise a toast to the New Year with these Goblets, then have a sword fight:
Apparently, someone knows, and that someone is watching.
Wednesday, December 07, 2005
And I promise. The "Christmas Hell" photos are coming. I am just collecting some Really good ones!
"This is Officer Dumbass, I got a car taking pictures of really bad Holiday Displays - I'm bringing her in..."
Tuesday, December 06, 2005
My Husband has no Memory. He has been kicked in the head repeatedly during kickboxing matches when he was a teen and young adult. I am lucky he recognizes me on a daily basis.
My husband Loves his mangy old cars.
Right now, we are in the process of having last rites pronounced on his beloved 1986 Jaguar XJ6. I have been encouraging him to pull the plug on this car for two years now. It has cost an Obscene amount of money to have repaired, and it runs sporadically, at best.
However, he Loves this foolish car. He loves the way other guys look at this car. He loves pulling up to places and getting out of this behemoth. He Struts when he is around this vehicle. I think of it as his visible, un-vascetomied penis.
It can no longer be inspected, for there are too many things wrong with the car. Even he has come to slowly accept the fact that this car cannot be salvaged.
So he has been staying at home. I work, and commute about 23 miles one way to work. I get the car. He suffers by staying at home.
So here is where the story begins. Emily has Tap on Tuesdays. It starts at 4:30. There is no feasible way for us to split one car into several segments to go in opposite directions of the state. Sometimes, my friend Denise picks me up and takes me to and from work. However, she is on a business trip, so what are we to do?
Rent a car. Yes. That is our solution. It coincides nicely with the fact that he has to be at the airport on Wednesday at 4:30 am, and I have no desire to drive the 35 miles to the airport, drop him off, to turn around and drive 35 miles back, get the child to sleep for an hour, only to get her back up and then get her ready for school. Do I look like I need more torture?
Last night at 7 p.m., my husband says “Lets’ go to the Airport and pick up the Car”
All right. No problem. Good Plan, Chief.
We bundle the child, and drive the 35 miles to the Airport. I marvel at the god-awful Christmas decorations on the way to the airport. We pull up to the airport at 8:07 p.m.
T: “See you at home, honey.”
D: “Do you have everything you need? Phone, Wallet?”
T: “Yep, here’s my phone, here’s my…Hey…Huh…. Where’s my wallet?” Is my wallet over there?
Oh yes. He has indeed forgotten his wallet. 35 miles away.
It is so typical, that I almost laugh. I hold back, because he is also so angry that I fear the Stroke is imminent. But …it…is…so…funny….
So we drive 35 miles back to our house and fetch his wallet. It is sitting there on the coffee table. We all take a potty break, and head back to the airport. It is 8:47 p.m.. I formulate a new reason to go on the trip. I will document the hideously decorated houses for my Internet friends. I will call it “When Christmas Decorations go to Hell”. Tee-Hee. I have a plan!!
We drive 35 miles back to the airport. Emily wakes up just as he is getting out of the car in the airport and yells, “Daddy, do you have your wallet? Do you have it?”
He does not answer her.
I bite my gloved hand to keep from laughing.
I start to drive back home. I have a plan for which houses I will stop and take photos for my planned blog entry. Woo Hoo. My evening is not wasted.
I pull over and take the first house photo. I am in hysterics. This is going to be so funny.
Stop number 2 and 3 go smoothly. I jump out and take the photos and jump back in to my car and drive away. I think to myself “The inhabitants probably think I am photographing their house cause I LIKE their decorations, HAHAHAHAHA!”
As I stop to photograph the 4th house on my planned route, I realize I can’t get a good shot of the horror that is this particular yard. I would have to drive into the driveway and I just don’t want to commit to this level involvement at 9:30 p.m. I pull away from the shoulder and drive off.
Unbeknownst to me, I have a follower. I am “acting suspiciously”. I am pulled over about 7 minutes later.
“This is odd”, thinks Dawn. “I know I wasn’t speeding – one weekend in bad driver school taught me to never, never, never speed again. I wonder if I have a tail light out”
The Ginormous flood lights erupt into my car. I start finding my license and registration. I roll down my window. Officer Dumbass approaches
OFC Dumbass: “Good Evening Ma’am. I am Corporal Dumbass with the Podunk police department. May I have you license and registration?”
Me: “Sure – can I ask why you pulled me over?”
Ofc Dumbass: “Well, um, Ma’am. I noticed you pulled off the road back there and then pulled back onto the road and I just wanted to make sure everything was all right.”
I stare at him. Is pulling on and off the shoulder a crime? A glimmering light begins to emerge. He thinks I’m Drunk – or maybe on Drugs, or maybe smuggling drugs and drinking!!! I smile. A big, toothy grin. I hold up my digital camera in the air and say : “I was talking photos of Christmas lights”.
Ofc Dumbass: “Oh (very long pause). Oh. Well, Ok. I’ll be right back”
He is Clearly embarrassed. He thought he was pulling over a drunk drug dealer and he gets me, in my orange Halloween witch flannel PJ bottoms and the matching T-shirt that says “Spooky”. For extra effect, I am wearing a non-matching headband of brown and blue flowers. And I am grinning at him. I am indeed "Spooky".
Now, I give him the fact that these were terrible Holiday displays. I can see why he thought I may be drunk to be taking pictures of such hideousness. If he were a police officer with the "Queer Eye" holiday display sqaud, he would have every reason to pull me over. As he was not, he did the only thing any self respecting heterosexual male could do. He walks back to my car and says :
“Ok, Ma,am. You know if you are looking for nice displays, there is one around the corner of the town gazebo, that would be great for pictures.”
Me: “No, I have to get my daughter home and in bed. I was just taking pictures if they were on my way home.”
Ofc Dumbass: “Well, Ok, Ma’am. I’m going to give you this slip of paper saying that I was just doing a check up and you drive safe all right?”
Me: “OK, Thanks”
He walks back to his vehicle and lowers the wattage on his floodlights. The back of my head is no longer on fire. I am grinning. I begin to laugh. Dude, I am SOOOOO talking about you on my blog tomorrow!!
Busted for trying to mock people, again.
Monday, December 05, 2005
All right. Some of this agony was my fault. I waited much longer than I ever do to book the appointment. I normally have the child's Christmas photos done by Thanksgiving. I buy the Christmas outfit when it first appears in September. I am a woman for whom pain should be avoided at all costs. This particularly includes the pain of enduring hordes of other Mom's and Children and HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!!!
I mean, and I know this is sick; I generally have bought all my Holiday cards in the clearance sales in January and address them in August. So I sign the cards, insert the angelic photo of my spawn and mail those suckers off! It is a joke for some of my other Mommy friends that my cards always get there first, which gives me a small evil satisfaction. I win at the Mommy game!
Not this year. This year, I called the Picture People on this Sunday morning and said, Can you get me in?
How about 6 p.m.? All right ~ no problem. I think I have outsmarted the gods of Christmas photos by booking at 6 p.m. on a Sunday night! No one will be there, Right? All other good Mom's will have their children in baths and eating dinner and headed for bed, Right? I will stand alone in the mall, with my dressed up, unfed child at 6 p.m..
Upon my arrival at the Picture Place, I see what I can only imagine as a scene out of a Child Inspired version of "Caligulia". Children screaming and falling down, parents swearing and gesturing at one another, harassed photographers and desk staff. If we added an Orgy Room and the Vomitorium, we would have been all set.
Now, my previous post about judging others aside, there were some families whose gene pool should have dried up long ago. I suspect they crawl out of the woodwork every few years, at Christmas, to have their images recorded for posterity. I think it's the twinkling lights that attract them. That and the candy canes.
Trolls and Hags and Ogres, oh my!
There is not much a Picture People photographer can do if the Material is unattractive. They make maybe 8.00 bucks an hour? They aren't magicians. Placing already "Looks" disadvantaged children in hideous plaid, bad lace and cheap velvet does them no service. Add in a mother chasing her child around and screaming " Attica! Attica! You put that back, you get in your stroller right now!"
Terrance and I raise our eyebrows at each other ~ The baby is named "Attica"?
He says "Maybe where she was born?"
Me: "Or conceived on a conjugal?"
I know. I am mean. I am catty. But I speak the truth.
Friday, December 02, 2005
The topic is one that I have thought a great deal about over the past three years. Both my actions and reactions have often been driven by issues that I have buried deep in my consciousness. Indeed, for my very last graduate degree paper, I wrote about "Female relational aggression" - using the observations I had done in my daughter's classroom, my own experiences, and those of my daughter as the core of the writing.
Jenn's post brought this topic back into the forefront of my mind, and coincidentally collided with a new "incident" in our home.
Emily had recently brought her school class photo home. I sat with her and went over all the children, asking her to name them and tell me a little bit about them. I like to have a face in my mind so if I have to go in and kick some ass, I will aim for the right kid. No, seriously, she and I have a lot of conversations about her day and I like to know who she is talking about. Now that she is in public school, I don't have the access and knowledge of her classroom peers and families I once did. I rely on these conversations to fill me in on the "stuff" that I can no longer see.
Emily went through every picture, and described each person - what they like, what games they like to play, who she sits with at work time, who has allergies, etc.
A few days later she was talking about a little girl and I responded "Oh, is she the chubby one?".
I did this completely unconsciously. Emily didn't even stop the flow of conversation to acknowledge what I had said to her, and I assumed that the comment had gone unnoticed. Much as all the "clean up your crap" conversations seem to be repelled from her brain.
Then, last Monday, as we lay on the bed talking about her day she says to me:
Emily: "And then I told Allison that my mom thought K was "chubby", and Allison said "What does that mean?"
Me: "OH MY GOD! (hand covering mouth) Did you really say that? You didn't tell K that I said that did you?"
Em: "No, I told Allison and I think that Allison told K what you said"
Me: "OH MY GOD! When did I say that? I didn't say that , did I?"
Em: "Yeah you did - when we were looking at all the class photos, you said "Is she the chubby one?"
Me: "Oh, Honey. That was not kind for Mommy to say. That could really hurt K's feelings - did it hurt her feelings when Allison told her that I said that?"
Em: "I think so, yeah."
Me: "Oh,God. I am really embarrassed. I should NOT have said that."
In my mind, I am picturing K and her mother having the flip side of this conversation. I picture K's Mom wanting to beat my ass - and rightfully so. I deserve to have a whole six pack of whoop ass opened on me for that bit of female aggression. I ponder whether or not to go into the "Body Types are not a good reason to judge another person", but how fucking hypocritical can I sound in one night? Even a 7 year old will be able to see through that transparent lie.
Which brings me back to the paper I wrote. Part of the journey through this topic was a re-examination of my own roles in some of the key "female group" moments in my life. Was I the victim that I always remembered myself being? Or had I played a much more influential role in my teen angst?
My Bad Year was 8th grade. 7th grade was rotten, but I survived, hanging onto a group of girls I had been friends with in elementary school. Indeed, I had run with the "Alpha" females in elementary school. I was in the "smart" reading groups, "smart " math groups. Things came easy for me.
8th grade, however, was a different ball game altogether. I became a target. There were notes put in my locker describing how "low" I was, what a "slut" I was, how "stuck up" I was. Every time I opened my locker, there would be a group watching me , trying to see if the last note got a reaction. This group of my "friends" would move lunch tables on me, and laugh as I searched the cafeteria for my lunch table. I would invite these girls to slumber parties and they would accept - then no one would show up and no one would call to cancel.
The crowning moment was in Humanities class. After enduring yet another brutal day of whispers and notes, another anonymous petition was passed to me during this 5th period "Honors" class. I opened the note and burst into tears. No, Sobs. I began to cry so hard that I started to hyperventilate. I couldn't talk, I couldn't breathe. My teacher had to physically carry me out of the room. When he got me to the Nurse's office and tried to ask me what had happened, I couldn't tell him. I would get my friends in trouble and then things would be so much worse. I demanded to go home.
Once home, I wouldn't tell my mother what had happened. I refused to go to school for almost two weeks. I lay in bed and tried to find the key - the reason my social group had expelled me. I could see no "rule" I had broken. I was distraught and depressed. I went back to school. I wouldn't talk to anyone. I was a girl without a country.
The following year, I re-formed a social group. I would like to tell you that I was a nice girl who included everyone and was never mean to anyone else again, having learned my lesson. But......... that would be a big lie.
It would be really attractive to tell myself a story of Dawn the victim, done wrong by the selfish Bitches of Rutland, Vermont. Sadly, that edited version of the story would be leaving out large and important chunks of the story.
In 9th grade, I did indeed reform a social group. I did not speak to any of those other girls again- although I could tell you every one of their first and last names to this day.
This experience of being the pariah did not stop me from ascending to the top of the new social ladder I had constructed. I gathered enough influence to have my new group of friends help me target and harass an older Senior girl ~ Heather Luther~who had briefly dated my high school boyfriend before I had dated him. We would station ourselves along her route to her classes and announce "Here comes the Beast", among other phrases. She complained to my boyfriend. We ramped the torture up. We would each find countless ways to persecute her and then report to each other over long phone conversations.
In 5th grade, I helped spread a rumor that a girl - Mary Jackson - had head lice. Mary was quite poor, and we wouldn't play with her. She did not return for 6th grade. In 6th grade, I helped isolate and target another new student, Gloria, who ended up peeing her pants in class. She didn't stay long in our school after that.
In the Karmic sense, it is not surprising that I experienced such a fall. Hubris? Is that you I hear knocking?
I had to own my role in the cycle of female relational aggression. Feminists theorists will tell you that women perpetrate "Horizontal Violence". We are disenfranchised, so we seek to destroy people like us ~ other women. It isn't safe to bring our anger to the real place it belongs, so we seek to mitigate it through this relational aggression. We disguise our Anger. We use silence, and looks and other underground communication techniques to communicate this to other women. A woman never has to say a thing to let you know that you have pissed her off. When boys bully, they are easy to catch. The jump and wrestle and yell. Females are much less overt and this makes finding evidence of bullying very difficult. Add in the Mafia enviable "code of silence" that goes down between a group of girls, and is it any wonder that no one addresses this with our daughters?
So when our girls start to experience this in their own lives, the flashbacks start for a mother. The denial, the cover up, the blaming of the victim ( their own daughter) begins.
"What did you do to make others mad at you?"
"This isn't happening to you, you've got lots of friends!"
"I never had trouble making friends at your age!"
There is a dark moment when a mother thinks "I must not have done a good job, cause the other girls don't like her. Did I buy the wrong clothes?" and on and on. We are shamed for not preparing our daughters to handle this shit, but we never learned to handle it either. Their social success, or lack thereof, is our success story or our fault.
So I struggle. Every Day. I struggle with the fact that I still take joy in mocking a co-workers shoes ( "I think those are "Spleather", since she couldn't buy the "Pleather" pair!") I struggle with the "Chubby" comment that I don't even recall saying. I struggle with how to both shield, defend and prepare my daughter for her life among the pack.
All I can do is walk next to her in this puzzling, changeable landscape that is female relationships.
Thursday, December 01, 2005
So we went to New York and spent time with my in-laws. I love my in-laws. I am very, very lucky – I know. My mother in law, the namesake for our child, was a bad ass 60’s Black Panther mama- I have seen the gun toting motorcycle pictures to prove it. She raised two children in Detroit, and both are still alive and reasonably well-adjusted adults. She has been married four times. I have met all her ex-husbands. For, in some cultural phenomenon that seems to exist only with my husband’s family, all ex-spouses LIKE each other. They visit, and talk, and come to each other’s parties. I watched Terrance’s father (Husband #1, father of both children) sit and chat at length with husband number 3, while current Husband Number 4 brought them fresh drinks.
Alas, in my family, when a divorce or breakup occurs, the Ex’s are cast out, never to be seen again - like reenactment's of Lucifer's breakup with God. We are not forgiving and jovial people. We are white. We are vengeful. We are bitter, bitter people.
So, I expected to enjoy my time with my mother in law. For, after all, she is the woman who took me aside before my marriage and said –“If he ever hits, you, I expect you to knock his ass out. If you have to kill him, I’ll understand. I’ll bail you out of jail, cause while he is my son and I love him , but he’s a man, honey. Women have to stick together”
Instant Love. Really.
So, imagine my surprise when my mother in law emerged in New York City, having taken on the personality of an elderly, embittered white woman.
While I will not detail every complaint, every sigh, every comment – for it is too exhausting for even me to relive – I will give you the vignette of what will hence forth be known as “Hamburger Thanksgiving 2005”
My Mother in law wanted to see the statue of Liberty. Not go out to the Island, just see it form Battery Park. OK. All right. We take a taxi from E80th to Battery Park – quite a long taxi ride – and spend 8 minutes standing against the silhouette of the Statue for photos- then back into a taxi to go to Times Square. Now, I am in the Taxi of the Sinus , garlic breathed, taxi driver. I am queasy from the stench. My eyes PLEAD with my husband. Open the window, open the window I send with my wifely mind ray. He ignores me.
We get to Times Square. My daughter says, “I want a hot dog”. My mother in law starts looking around for a street meat vendor to purchase requested hot dog. I GLARE at my husband. My wifely mind ray sends Our child can not eat a hot dog from one of those carts, The vomiting alone will cause me to divorce you. He picks this one up and says “No, Mom, No hot dogs- let’s find somewhere to eat”.
She suggests Applebees. I glare at my husband and send this thought I have not come to New York to eat at a god damn Applebees on Thanksgiving. I may have even muttered this statement into his arm.
He counter-suggests a brew pub nearby. Ah yes, grasshopper, very good. I smile at him.
We are seated. She picks up the menu and scans it. “Is there anything you want to eat here? Is there a hot dog for the baby?”
Frankly ( a hot dog joke!), I could care less about a hot dog for my child. I have the motherly view that we can find something on any menu that she can have. I refuse to live my total life by the presence of a “kiddie menu”, and my child has come to accept her fate. When I am very hungry, the few motherly instincts I possess go right out the damn window. It is all about my precipitously declining blood sugar and me.
My father-in-law returns from the bathroom and offers this Deal Breaking Statement:
“I just told the hostess that when I was in the bathroom a member of the restaurant came out of a stall – adjusted himself and walked out without washing his hands”.
Ok, yes. I concur. Gross. But I am SOOOOOO hungry and food is so close by. Maybe the dude was changing his pants… Maybe?
She leaps up and says, “We can’t eat here!”” and I give one last longing look at the menu as I get up and put my coat back on. We leave.
I have now fallen into near coma like levels of low blood sugar. I am sullen and silent. I don’t even glare at my husband. I shuffle along. I don’t even have the strength to argue.
But Terrance, my best beloved, spots another brewpub down the street – The Heartland. “Lets’ go there!!” he exclaims!
And while my mother in law mutters and mumbles, I take off in a dead run for the Heartland Brew Pub. We get in, we are seated!! Hurrah!!!
There is a plated Thanksgiving dinner – or the ala carte menu. It seems a simple choice. I will have the Thanksgiving dinner…..Right? Won’t I? Apparently not. My MIL wants to debate the overall business decision of offering only the two menu choices with the waiter. I catch the waiter’s eye.
“ I will have a pint of the “Spiced Pumpkin Ale”. My stare suggests that he would do well to get me this beverage quickly. He seems to understand completely and rushes away to get my beer – even before getting anyone else’s drink order. Ah, sir. I will tip you well!
We peruse the menu. There is no Hot dog. My MIL takes this up as a rally cry. :”Can the baby get a hot dog? Can the baby get a hot dog?”
No, No hot dogs. She will have a hamburger and judging from the look I am shooting her, she will LOVE this fucking hamburger. She will rejoice and dance and write poetry about the perfection of this hamburger. If she does not, this may go down as one of those future therapy moments where she starts off by telling her Therapist:
“That was the moment my mother lost her shit, punched my grandmother in the nose, jumped up and ran to hide behind the bar of the brew pub”
The waiter returns and I accept his pint of pumpkin ale tenderly, as if it is my second born child. I smile. I close my eyes and drink. Then I hear:
MIL: “I want a frozen Margarita”
Waiter: “We don’t make frozen drinks here, Ma’am”
I open my eyes and turn in time to see my MIL put her head down on the table, in defeat.
MIL: “just bring me a glass of Riesling”
Me: “I’ll have the hamburger – medium rare – and I’ll be ready for another pint by the time it’s ready”
I eat my Thanksgiving Hamburger and drink my tasty Thanksgiving Ale. Mmmmmmmm, Pumpkin Ale.
Tuesday, November 29, 2005
The terrorists are now in league with the deer. Danger is everywhere!!!
I would like to remind everyone to pay extra atttention while driving. This is the time of year that animals, especially deer are on the move and most active. Just this morning there were at least were two more deer collisions on the interstates (I-93 and I-89).
According to the National Safety Council, there were 530,000 animal-related accidents in 2003 and these collisions resulted in 100 deaths and 10,000 injuries.
The average cost per insurance claim for collision damage is $2,800, with costs varying depending on the type of vehicle and severity of damage. When you factor in autoclaims involving bodily injury, the average rises to $10,000. Defensive driving tips to avoid hitting a deer.
(Of course, it is shit eating rotten for the deer)
~ Be especially attentive from sunset to midnight and during the hours shortly before and after sunrise. These are the highest risk times for deer-vehicle collisions.
(There goes the Driving with my eyes closed tradition between 4 p.m. and 7 a.m.)
~ Drive with caution when moving through deer-crossing zones, in areas known to have a large deer population and in areas where roads divide agricultural fields from forestland. Deer seldom run alone. If you see one deer, others may be nearby.
(Beware the lone running deer, for there are many others behind...grasshopper)
~ When driving at night, use high beam headlights when there is no oncoming traffic. The high beams will better illuminate the eyes of deer on or near the roadway.
( Although, it does blow the element of suprise, I find that wrapping my car in blinking Christmas string lights adds an element of festive epileptic seizure inducing fun to the glow of suprised deer eyes )
~ Slow down and blow your horn with one long blast to frighten the deer away.
(They do not respond to musical horns, or whispered words of love. Loud rap causes the deer to"bust a move" and get all "gangsta" on your ass, throwin' gang signs with their hooves. Don't even get me started on what "Slow Jazz" does to the deer - not for family viewing)
~ Brake firmly when you notice a deer in or near your path, but stay in your lane. Many serious crashes occur when drivers swerve to avoid a deer and hit another vehicle or lose control of their cars.
( Or are having the epileptic seizures induced by my aforementioned blinking car. I would also suggest braking firmly at random times to see if the drivers behind you are in a state of "deer readiness")
~ Always wear your seat belt. Most people injured in car/deer crashes were not wearing their seat belt.
( The others experienced multiple contusions and fractures after having their seatbelt gnawed clean through, then being dragged through their car windows and beaten by pissed off deer who now have a death grudge)
~Do not rely on devices such as deer whistles, deer fences and reflectors to deter deer. These devices have not been proven to reduce deer-vehicle collisions.
(Deer catcalls may work more efficiently to deter the deer such as "Hey, that is quite a rack you got there" or "Hey baby, wanna rut?", or the ever popular "My dad is King of the Forest")
~If your vehicle strikes a deer, do not touch the animal. A frightened and wounded deer can hurt you or further injure itself. The best procedure is to get your car off the road, if possible, and call the police.
(Then the deer can injure the police - OR your child can witness the police gunning down Bambi as he flees for his life. A lifetime of therapy!)
Monday, November 28, 2005
Ok, so we were staying at this studio apartment on E80th, between Park and Madison. Prime Location for museums, the park, et al. Thanksgiving morning arrives and I, sleepless from my night wedged in one small side space between two flailing bodies, moan as my husband gets up and announces that he's going for coffee!! He then further announces that I should get up and get us ready!!! Cause we're going to the Parade!!!!
My husband is totally a city person, He thrives on this energy. I myself feel ambivilent about most cities. I like the culture they offer, and the possibilities of cuisine that I can not get in the woods of New England, but am wary of the smelliness, and having my personal space bubble encroched upon, and waitstaff of whom I an unsure of their personal hygeine habits. That, and my new found fear of bedbugs - which I swear crossed my mind looking at those sketchy sheets even before I read the accursed NYTimes article.
I mumble at him something about "I'd rather live in the fifth circle of purgatory" and roll over to go back to sleep, since without his manly body taking up 2/3rds of the bed, I now have some space and the blood is returning to my legs.
He walks the brisk 3 blocks to one of the 8 billion Starbucks and then, knowing his wife, calls me to remind me to get up out of bed and get ready. Of course, his call comes at the p-re-cise moment I am finally falling to sleep. To add insult to injury, my ring tone is currently 'Ol Dirty Bastards "Baby I got your money", which jolts me to conciousness as if 'Ol Dirty was gyrating next to my ear, his gold grille a-grinnin. "Oh, oh yeah, baby I got your money, do-do-do-do-do, baby I got your money!"
The words that sprang from my lips were nothing close to "Happy Thanksgiving". I believe my daughter was treated to "Jesus Fucking Christ, what the fuck could you want?" - which is the traditional Thanksgiving greeting in my family. A little known fact.
Terrance: "Are you up? Are you getting Em ready? It isn't so cold as last night. I think it will be a great day to get out and see the parade."
Dawn: "I don't want to go. I am exhausted. I was almost back to sleep. Where the hell are you?"
Terrance: "Dawn, get up and get Emily ready, at least."
Dawn: ( showing how low her mothering standards have become) "Do I have to wash her or can I just put clean clothes on her?"
Terrance: "Just get her dressed, I 'll be back in a few minutes"
Dawn: "You better bring me the biggest cup of coffee they have"
So, I rustle my child out of bed and dress her. I wash her face. I am not sure if I made her brush her teeth or not. I don't think I did. I bundle her up and greet Terrance with grunt as I crawl back under the pillows. They leave. I lay in bed. I start to feel guilt. I mean, C'mon. I am in New York on Thanksgiving Day. I am across the park from the start of the parade. I am now watching pre-parade event on NBC. Terrance calls. He rubs it in. I hang up. I sip my coffee, and lie abed. I call him back. I inquire as to where exactly he is. He mocks me further. I hang up and ponder my sorry ass state further.
I watch the beginning of the parade. I call him again. He picks up the phone and laughs at me. He answers: "You can't stand it, can you? It's KILLING YOU, isn't it?"
Yes, it is. It is killing me. I leap up, shower and get dressed. The parade is well underway. This is the view from where Em and Terrance were stationed:
I make it across the park and get to w81st. I call Terrance. "Where are you?", says he.
Me: "I am on the other side of the street....How do I get across? There are barricades every where!"
T: "Just run across the street!"
Me: "I can't there are police everywhere. Hey, there is the little Jai from Queer Eye. Man, he's SMALL! But he has really nice skin."
T: "Just run across, no one will stop you!"
I walk up and down the street nervously. I may be a bad ass in theory, but I am hesitant to jump out at the Macy's parade where there are many, many security people, all looking like Osama may be thinking about attacking Super Grover. I am a white woman - 5 foot four. I feel that I look very non-threatening, but these guys don't look festive or happy or anything.
I decide to make my break for it in front of the Budweiser Horses. I see a couple of police officers watching me, but keep my eyes averted and act as if I am a New Yorker - annoyed at such frivolity. I have to actually move a barrier to get across and begin my brisk walk to the corner of 81st. Woo-hoo. I am almost there.
Apparently not. The 2 cops at the corner point at all of us and say "You have to go around the other side." huh? All the way around the block? They ain't hearing a thing. I watch a few intrepid souls give it a go, trying to explain why they need to get by. No, No, and No.
I give up and turn back to walk around the block. Sigh. I call Terrance and explain that I have to walk around the block to get to him.
T: "Hurry up, you're missing the best stuff!!!"
I get to the corner and make my way to swing around. I large black police officer puts his body in front of me. "Where you headed to, ma'am?"
Me: "Over there, my family is waiting for me right over there. In front of that hotel."
I smile at the nice black man, making good eye contact. This has always worked in New England, and even in Detroit. But then again, I am always accompanied by my husband.
This time, it doesn't work. He is not impressed.
"Do you have ID? Are you a guest of that hotel? Only guests and invited guests can get over there"
Me: "but, but. My family is right there.(pointing) "
"You can't go over there Ma'am. Not unless you show me some ID that says you are a guest of that hotel."
Me: "Yeah, but they aren't guests of that hotel....How did they get there?"
"I don't know ma'am, they must have invitations - you need to move aside there are people waiting to get through."
This was the moment that I ALMOST said, it was at the very tip of my tongue "It's cause I'm white, isn't it?" But I didn't. I did not want to get booked on Thanksgiving. Riker's can't have a very Happy feast.
Instead I called Terrance, who walked over and said "What's the problem here?". At this point, this police officer looked everywhere but at me and my husband. My daughter leaps up on the barricade to hug me and says "Mommy, why won't the police let you in?"
So my husband comes over the barrier, and hugs me in front of the officer. I cut my eyes at him. and say loudly "He didn't believe that my family was over there, he wouldn't let me in"
I make it in, just in time to see the last balloon - Jo-Jo go before Santa makes his way to join the parade.
Sunday, November 27, 2005
We were not struck by the balloon, but We did see it from our vantage point on w81st. Not the striking, just the balloon. If you go to the beginning of the parade, MUCH better. Not so many people touching you.
Here are some quick things I have learned on this trip:
1. My daughter will bitch and moan through any experience. Even the ones she wants to go and do. Take her for a 200 dollar dinner at American Girl? Bitch and Moan. Go to the Macy's day parade and stand in front on the god damn balloons? Bitch and Moan. Walk her through the Guggenheim? Moan and Bitch. Walk her down to Dylan's Candy Bar? More Moaning, More bitching, and the suggestion that her father carry her on his back, cause her feet hurt from walking.
2. Three normal sized people can not fit into a Double Bed. I am the person who will end up in the middle and not sleep at all as I am pummelled from both sides. The other two will awake at 7:00 a.m. and wonder why I am so bitchy. I also have now read a disturbing article about bed bugs in today's New York Times, and how they are infesting hotel rooms and apartments in the city, so now I am concerned that I have been secretly infested with bed bugs. This fear intenstifies as I find an odd bump on my thigh and I have been very itchy.
3. Thanks to Roo's insect post, I worried that there were large evil cockroaches waiting for me to fall asleep. Although, I suppose the concern was moot, as I was trapped in the bed.
4. I have a difficult time relaxing enough to use a foreign bathroom for anything but liquid deposits.
5. I am from New England. My ideas of personal space are different from New Yorkers. Especially in Movie theaters. I am sure you are a charming man, nattily dressed black gay gentleman, however, I do not want to get to know you during Harry Potter. Note the seven year old child with whom I am attending this film. And for god's sake stop the talking!!! Why is this bottle of Poland Springs water 4.50?? Is it consecrated? And is it wrong to suddenly think "Hey that kid who plays Harry Potter is starting to get hot", then get all grossed out and worried since I think that this thought puts me into dangerous territory, until I read that he's 16 and I think "Phew, at least he's legal."
6. I have a hard time with Body odor. But most of all - Sinus breath. Makes me actually gag. Now, imagine me in a cab with 3 other adults and one child with a taxi driver with the worst sinus breath I have ever encountered - stuck in traffic outside of Battery Park, and no one will open down a window cause "it's cold outside". I actually had to put up the neck of my sweater over my nose and breathe through my mouth so I didn't start dry heaving.
Oh yes, there will be more to come. Such as the traditional eating of the Thanksgiving hamburger, and how I was racially profiled by a New York cop.
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
I will do my level best to bring home funny stories. If you see a balloon collapsing on someone, I have no doubt that I will be among them - Wounded by Big Bird. We have been invited to an "Inflation party", which I agreed to go to cause Terrance promised there was free good booze. He PROMISED!!!! And who am I to turn down free booze?
Monday, November 21, 2005
"She worked REALLY Hard at her job"
I was raised with a work ethic that makes Puritans look like slacker bums. And I love my job. I have been blessed to have chosen a career that I am proud to be a part of, and that makes a difference in the lives of children living in poverty - every day.
Furthermore, I felt called to serve in this profession. Early Childhood Education was too often the bastion of the mediocre, and I felt that it was important to be a really intelligent person who chose to do this work, rather than had to do this work cause it was the only thing I could do. You know the people of whom I speak. Many of you have seen them in the child care centers sprinkled throughout our country.
It has hurt my heart in the past couple of weeks to be training a person who has no passion, no career, no knowledge in my field of expertise. She is , for lack of a better word, a worker drone in the system of state government. She knows the right person, has some connections, and so she has landed on my proverbial doorstep. She won't read my "handbook" on how to do my old job. She doesn't care to learn anything "new" ( she proclaimed this on her first days in our bureau). She seems to spend most of her days trying to convince me she is working at her desk without doing a damn thing.
And her people skills? Holy shit. A talking goat would be more helpful to the public at large than this chick. I actually heard her tell a client that "She didn't know nothing, she was new here, but it all seemed to take a really long time to get anything done". I wanted to stand up and yell - "YES!! CAUSE OF LAZY FATASSES LIKE YOU!!!".
So I spend all day squashing my rage. Willful Incompetance makes me unreasonable, and I see it on parade for 8 hours every day. I watch her dismantle a system that I carefully built for three years. A system that nearly 8000 children a month depend on for child care.
But the most galling thing? She doesn't care. She doesn't care that without the smooth movement of paper in the Machine that is government, Child Care providers don't get paid. Without that payment, parents can't work. Thanksgiving's don't happen. We had our first call today from a provider who won't be having a dinner on Thursday because his $50.00 check isn't coming this week.
For many of these parents and providers, this IS the money that keeps them afloat.
So, for all the government workers you may encounter who act like assholes and don't give a shit, just know that there are the people like me in there too. Those of us who really do care about doing the right thing, and a good job. On behalf of Us, I apologize in advance for the deadwood like her.
Sunday, November 20, 2005
On my first day birth control free, and my husbands penis still considered by the medical profession to be a lethal weapon, the condom broke.
Laugh on, Fate.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Me: "Hmmmm, that smells good. What's cooking?"
Terrance: "Chicken Mirabella, green beans and brown rice."
Me: (Walking over to look over at the stove) "Are those peas mixed in with the rice?"
Me: "Are those your ball icing peas?"
Terrance: "They sure are."
Me: " I told you I am not eating your ball icing peas."
Terrance: "Dawn, it isn't as if you've never had anything ball or ball related in your mouth before...why should these peas be off limits?"
Touche', friend, Touche'.
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Tonight, my daughter lost her seventh tooth.
The losing of teeth is a rite of passage in many ways. I recall losing my own teeth and feeling, with certainty, that this was a sign - long before puberty hit me broadside - that I was growing up. Getting the dimes, and occasional quarter from the tooth fairy was a bonus, for sure. But long after the money had been spent, the big new teeth remained, my face changing from a child to a young woman.
Before my own daughter, I had not given alot of thought to the losing of teeth and the dilemnia that it presents for parents. Since I naturally assumed that the tooth fairy whisked my sacred teeth to her tooth kingdom, it never occurred to me that my mother was the culprit in the covert tooth removal operation.
It wasn't until my child lost her first tooth that I was presented with the age old question - What the hell do you do with the teeth? I mean, Santa? Easter Bunny? No problem. I had these mystical characters down pat. I KNEW how to make convincing easter bunny nibbles in carrots, I made it seem as if reindeers had nibbled at the sugar and crumbs were left to prove Santa had indeed partaken of the snack we left - including the empty glass of wine we leave for Santa. (Santa enjoys a little change of pace from the whole milk thing. It makes him more generous with the gifts.)
But a flying fairy? Involving discarded body parts?
And let's just say that this isn't in most parenting magazines yet. ""What to do with your child's old teeth: Five jewelery tips!" or "Parents who callously throw their child's baby teeth away raise a higher percentage of high school dropouts!", "Today on Oprah, Strippers who can trace their downfall to waking up and finding out that their mother was the Tooth Fairy."
It seems somehow wrong to throw away a piece of my child. I mean, I saved the little stump of her umbilical cord too. Ok, stop wrinkling your noses. It doesn't smell or anything. It's a visceral reminder of her time in my body. As she grows older and more independant, I treasure those small reminders of her babyhood. When my breasts were Nirvana for her and when I remained the funniest,wisest, most comforting human on the earth.
Now, with the loss of her seventh tooth, she is becoming a young woman. Her face is changing shape. She is sassy and funny and confident. She tries to lie to me, and I can still catch her at it. There will come a time in the future when I will not be able to tell, but I don't want her to know that. I still remain all-comforting, all-knowing, able to fix everything. I know that this stage is coming to an end too.
So, I save the teeth. I keep them tucked away in the bottom of my cedar chest. As each tooth joins it's fellows, she steps closer to becoming the young woman who will roll her eyes at me, talk about what an embarrassment my clothes are, or makes disgusted noises when her father and I kiss each other.
And these teeth, the teeth that nipped my breasts while nursing, that kept us all awake through terrible nights of teething, the teeth that cannabalized a class of other one year olds; they remind me of the baby that the midwife handed to me.The baby that only lives at the bottom of my cedar chest and in my memories.
Monday, November 14, 2005
I wish that I could tell you all that each encounter has been a loving and glorious experience, but after 15 years…..Not so much.
There was a time, long ago, when we would have sex a lot. I mean a lot. Like three times a day on the weekends. But, you know how it is. Kid, laundry, ballet, good television… you just want to LAY DOWN and not have any expectations proverbially thrust upon you.
On Saturday night I yelled: “I Can’t do this tonight! I think I’m starting to Chafe!”
Who says the romance is dead?
Sunday, November 13, 2005
I was in "All State" and "All New England" chorus in high school. Seriously. I was an alto and I loved that shizzit. Give me a madrigal and a smile. Hey Nonny, Nonny.
I have no tatoos, but I often wish I had one. Then I chicken out.
I do not exercise. No thank ee'. If you see me running, I suggest that you haul ass, as I am being chased by something that plans on either eating me or killing me. Or both. Or, I am chasing the ice cream man after drinking alot of sangria.
I made my now husband buy me several drinks before I agreed to dance with him. I was, it should be known, out "Trolling" for drinks on that particular evening. It was a game my girlfriends and I played. I was quite successful.
In 8th grade, I cut and dyed my hair ala Cyndi Lauper.
I smoked clove cigarettes for about 2 years in college. I loved them. They were long and black and I called them the "sticks of death".
I tell people exactly what I am thinking. It is an often unfortuate way to live. Believe me. I get in more trouble than I can to describe. Some people down right Hate me. Some love me. But I won't die from holding shit in.
I started Therapy when I was 19. The reason was I fell off a ladder from a second story dorm window. I was on that ladder, which was perched on a milk crate, cause the guy I was sleeping with had just locked me out of his room and I was trying to get in to strangle him. I wedged his window open, and got my fingers in, but couldn't pull myself fully in. At that point, the ladder fell off the milk crate and left me hanging on the ledge from the second story dorm window. I was on the FRONT of the building. People walking up to the dorm could see me. The fucker left the room when he saw me out there on the ledge. I suppose he might say that he was "fleeing the psycho chick he was sleeping with". Semantics. I fell off the ledge and really fucked up my ankle. As I lay in the dirt, it occurred to me that I wasn't acting completely rational. Maybe I needed to talk to someone about this.
I love Comedy Central. I am Comedy Central's bitch.
I thought my appointment was at noon. Cause that is when I have made the appointment for the last year - at noon, on Sunday. So, we all get out of bed, and we get two seven year old girls out the door by 11:30 to get to the salon by noon.
Our plan is simple. Me: Have a haircut. Them, wait for me to finish and then we got to lunch first at Dante's, then across the street to the theater.
Now, the salon of which I am a patron is attached to an Italian restaurant. No kidding, I know - If I didn't go there, I would totally make fun of the idea. The husband runs the restaurant, the wife runs the salon/spa.
My appointment wasn't until 12:45. Grrrrrr. But the restaurants open! So, I do what any self respecting mother does, I go in and order lunch for mi familia. And vino for me! Whoo hooo. It's noon. I am having a glass of wine. A glass of good white Italian wine. Yummmmm.
Then at 12:45, I get up and walk over to the salon, and the owner says - "Let me get you another glass of wine before you go have your hair done!"
OK! Who am I to disagree with you, owner of the restaurant? Keep my husband occupied with guy talk, my wine glass filled and these two little girls eating pasta, then ice cream!
At 12:45, I am having my aromatherapy scalp massage, with the second glass of wine firmly in hand and thinking "FUCK YEAH! I ROCK!!"
I have a lovely buzz as we head off for the movie. I think briefly that the neighbor's child may have not seen her mother buzzy from drinking wine by 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon. Then I think, "I am the coolest Mom ev-eh!"
About an hour into the exceptionally Loud movie, I begin to regret the two glasses of wine. By the end of exceptionally loud movie, I have a thumper of a headache. Between two girls bickering about if they each got the exact same amount of popcorn and M&M's, my cool mommy vibe is blown. Must ......find.......ibuprofen.........
Saturday, November 12, 2005
Hers was entitled :" Your flute and you, or why you will be playing that fucking instrument until you die since I paid for it"
Mine: "Ballet and you, or why you will go to every class, since I already pre-paid the semester, and stop trying to tell me your back hurts- you're seven for Christ's sake. And don't think it's fun for me to get us both out of the house every Saturday morning- I've made a committment too, dammit."
**Crazy D is the name that My brother and I made for our mother a long time ago. We would warn each other about the status of "crazy D" when exiting and entering rooms in the house
Thursday, November 10, 2005
Some aside notes: Yes, the Doctor has demanded that we have 20 sexual encounters before they can test his sperm sample for being “clear”. Until then, we can consider his penis a potentially lethal weapon.
We tried for the first time last night. I was terrified. I believe that I lay there like a blow up doll. I kept waiting for the whole thing to fall off on me. Talk about pressure.
He relates that he “feels better” today. Yeah right. I can see where this is going.
So today, I offer for your enjoyment, one of My most spectacular failures of mothering I was ever able to muster up. I present “The Day I caused my daughter to have a black eye cause I threw a Bitty Shoe at her in a fit of irritation” or “Why I almost had to call the Child Protective services people (….or me) on Me”
Last winter, Terrance had gone away for a business trip. I generally can keep my shit together for 5 days, then the veneer starts to crack and I look a little wild eyed and crazy.
At this point, I was driving her into school – which was 15 minutes PAST where I work, and then driving back to work, then after work driving to pick her up and then beginning the 45-minute to hour commute home. Since I picked her up at 5:30, I would get home at 6:30 p.m. or so. Not conducive to starting dinner, right? So every night when Daddy was gone, I would pick her up and take her to a different restaurant. It serves an all around need – we eat, I don’t have to cook, everyone is happy!
So, on the Thursday night in question, I decided that I wanted Thai food. I really, really wanted Thai food. Emily doesn’t care for the Thai restaurant cause she doesn’t like statues. We get to the door, she seems the statues and she starts to scream. Loudly. I am smiling at the Thai restaurant people, as my daughter crawls under my coat screaming “No, Mommy, No, I don’t like statues! Please don’t make me go in there!”
I smile at the worried looking hostess and try to say calmly “Can we have a table far, far away from any statues?” My coat is screaming and moving around. I lift the child and my coat and proceed to carry her to the table where I plop her down on the chair and whip off my coat – “See”, I say, “no statues! Calm down!”
We have a fairly pleasant dinner, after I assure her that the Tandori chicken is not the devils food, and that the jasmine rice is quite delicious!
I reward her with a new Bitty baby outfit. It is Blue and Velvety and she is excited. See – Life with Mommy is Fun!
Full and happy, we drive home. It is 7:30 p.m. and so, like Mommy’s all over the world, I am really, really ready for Em to hit the sack. We read, we snuggle and then it’s off to bed for her.
Except this is clearly not part of her plan. Instead, she hits the floor- in a full blown tantrum. She cannot find her new Bitty Shoe. I remain calm.
Me: “Did you check the car, next to your car seat?”
Em: “I CHECKED THERE IT’S GONE AND NOW MY LIFE IS RUINED!!!!”
Me: “Emily, there is no reason for you to have this reaction.”
Em: “NO, NO, NO, IT’S GONE, I LOOKED THERE AND IT’S GONE”
Me: “seriously Emily, you need to calm down – have you looked in the car?”
Em: “I TOLD YOU I LOOKED THERE AND IT’S GONE, YOU NEED TO FIND IT”
(There was more screaming at me, that I will leave to your imagination)
Me: (Voice raising) “Emily, I swear to god, that I if I go out to the car and find that damn bitty baby shoe, there is going to be hell to pay. I am throwing every last god damn bit of Bitty Baby shit away!!!!”
I run into the January cold night in my bare feet and pajamas. I whip open the car door and there it is – sitting right there – the blue velvet bitty baby shoe. Right where I said it would be.
I fly into the house and round the corner. I am Steaming mad. Psychotic Mommy Mad.
I throw my child’s bedroom door open and scream
“HERE’S YOUR FUCKING BITTY BABY SHOE”
And I throw the shoe in her direction. Now mind you, I wasn’t aiming at her head, really.
But like all moments of clarity, I watch as the shoe flies, in slow motion through the air. It makes a perfect arc and connects with her eye.
GGGGGAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSPPPPPPPPPPP. Did you hear the sucking intake of my breath?
My daughter grabs her eye and wails. Oh…………………Shit………………………….
I run and grab her hand and wrench it from her eye. I see the black and blue developing.
Em: “You hit me in the Eyyyyyyyyyyyyeeeeeeeeee.”
I burst into tears and run for the telephone to call my husband.
Terrance: “Dawn, calm down. Now what happened? You threw a bitty baby shoe at her? You hit her in the eye? Why did you aim for her head? Never aim for the head, honey.”
So, he calms us both down and I apologize profusely to my daughter. She can tell she’s got me now. The Mommy guilt is wafting off of me like 5 day old fish.
But here’s the thing. I have to take her to school tomorrow. I ain’t got a quiet kid. She is about to relate in gut wrenching detail how Mommy popped her in the eye with a Bitty Baby shoe. Her eye is clearly bruised. I am fucked.
I also, at that time, was managing the registry for all those in the state who had been convicted for child abuse and neglect. If the teacher calls in the bruise, she is calling me into….well, me. Double fucked.
So I must do the Mommy walk of shame into the classroom and explain what happened last night in my house. Yes. I have to hang it all out there, since my kid is definitely talking. I get about halfway through the story and burst back into tears.
Em’s teacher hugs me and tells me that it’s all right- every parent in this room has lost it with their kid and done something that they regretted, including her. A hard spanking, an arm grab, a thrown bitty baby shoe. Nobody talks about it, she says, but we all have our moments.
And so, I share with you all. My Moment. My bad, bad mommy moment. And I can assure you; she milks that baby for all it’s worth. If you ever meet her just say “bitty shoe” and watch the story tumble from her mouth.