disapproving kitty

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Don't Be Hatin' on Your Brand of Crazy

     So it's come to my attention that people think I hate the kinds of parents who go crazy with Elf on the Shelf or any of the other hundreds of things parents (usually moms) do to make their children's lives magical and wondrous.  This is not so.  I am perfectly fine with anyone who wants to spend three hours after her kids are in bed making cookies and then powdering every surface in her kitchen with flour, and leaving little elf-tracks in it before heading up to bed.  She's more than welcome to do so.  I'm just saying that I reserve the right to think that she's absolutely nuts.
    I do my fair share of bizarre parenting things, like paying full fare to go to an amusement park for two full days with a 2 and 4 year old.  This means I've essentially paid close to 100 bucks plus hotel and gas money to spend two days standing in lines to watch my children go around and around and around while listening to peppy child-themed tunes through scratchy speakers.  It's expensive, exhausting and makes my children indescribably happy.  So I do it.  And it's insane.  Feel free to make fun.  I certainly do.  So, should you be a mom who absolutely loves to go nuts with the holiday elf or whatever else it is that floats your boat, knock yourself out.  I don't hate you.
     What I do hate, however, is when one of those moms comes along and accuses me and all my slacker-mommy friends of being bad parents or of even not wanting our children in the first place because we don't do these things that she finds so important.  I pretty much have the same issue with any people who feel the right to tell me I'm doing it wrong because I'm not doing it their way.  This goes for the breast-feeding advocate who tries to make me feel ashamed and lazy because my children were bottle-fed.  (There are reasons, and they are most certainly none of her business, thankyouverymuch.)  And it goes for the childless person who tsk-tsks me for allowing my child to eat crackers in the grocery cart while we tool through the store (Yes, I pay for them.  So do all the other moms who do this.)  And it goes for the strangers who shoot rude stares at my friend who takes her profoundly autistic son out in public, and he behaves as autistic children do.  It's for the helicopter parents who rebuke me for letting my kids play outside alone, and the ones who call anyone who lets their child "cry it out" a monster.  Same for those who want parental rights revoked for co-sleepers and late-breastfeeders, largely because it just weirds them out, and they call it abuse*.  All of these people will cite bogus, slanted or poorly done research to back up their judgmental claims, and none of them could tell me the difference between correlation and causality.  These people I have no truck with, and wish they would take their judgy selves off to mind their own beeswax.
   That said, I have great love and admiration for all the super-mommies (and daddies) out there who go positively bonkers trying to make their kids happy.  I know there's been backlash against these folks, and I've seen the ridicule and claims that it's making their children into a generation of whiny, entitled brats.  Frankly, just growing up in middle-class (and up) America in the 21st century is going to risk that, so what's the harm in throwing in an Elf?  I also have great love and admiration for slacker-mommies who are usually too tired at the end of a long working day to mess with all that, you know?  So, please stay off my back and I'll stay off yours, 'k?
Peace out, folks.  Enjoy the holidays, be it Chanukah, Solstice, Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year's or I'm-a-curmudgeon-and-don't-celebrate-nothing Day.**

*Calling things like lack of an Elf and bottle feeding "abuse" lessens the import of actual abuse, which, btw, I also have no truck with, and will (and do) report.
**C'mon.  You know someone who would celebrate this.  You know you do.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We Have to do Whatnow With an Elf?

Thanks to a FB friend of mine, I happened upon a new mommy blog, but it's not one of those mommy blogs about 900 detail-intensive ways to make sure your offspring have perfect childhoods.  It's called People I Want to Punch in the Throat and she's suddenly (like a couple days ago) exploded in popularity.
She wrote a bit about her "Elf on the Shelf."  For those of you without children or who, like me, have deliberately tried to remain oblivious to obnoxious trends in parenting like baby knee pads and The Perfect Child's Birthday Party, the "Elf" is a little toy Elf that comes out a Christmastime, like the Advent Calendar from Hell.  There are women who dedicate hours to making messes the "Elf" made and then cleaning them up, all for seeing the resultant joy and wonder on their children's faces.  ("Oh, that's funny, mommy!  Look what the Elf did!  Hee hee!  Can I watch Dora now?")  They do all this after the kids are in bed for the night.  These women apparently never sleep.
This new blogger's elf pretty much moves from one shelf to another, unless she forgets to move it.  She is my kinda mom.  Not to outdo her on the bad-mommy front, but my Elf does even less.  I know this because I do not even have an Elf on the Shelf.  My children have not read this book.  I didn't even know it was a book until she mentioned it on her blog.  I thought it was some bizarre Christmas tradition started by local women with way too much damn time on their hands.  Apparently not.  It is the invention of some author who must have felt that buying your children a truckload of gifts, wrapping and storing them, decorating a tree, and the house, baking 12-gazillion cookies, throwing a holiday party and making gifts for all 23 daycare teachers was not enough for Mommy to do in December in order to be a Good Mommy.   You think I'm kidding?  Jen (the blogger) got comments from women (you know it was women, right?) who said they felt sorry for her children because they did not get the full Elf experience.  I have seen a picture of this woman's house.  It is huge and gorgeous, with a nice lawn.  These are not deprived children.  One woman went so far as to claim that Jen must not have wanted her children in the first place.  Because she doesn't want to spend hours each night making phenomenal messes the "Elf" did and then spend hours the next day cleaning it up.  This makes her a BAD MOMMY.
If this is BAD MOMMY behavior, then Child Services is going to be banging on my door any second now.
Like I said, we do not have an Elf.  I was tremendously glad when our school principal outlawed Elves at school because it was too much of a distraction from the school day.  (Now I'm not just a Bad Mommy, I'm a Bad Teacher, too.)  I also let my kids watch television, eat Kraft Mac and Cheese (sometimes at the same time) and buy them clothes from the Thrift Store.  There are days they don't eat from all the food groups, they have been known to play in the back yard by themselves and I fail to get them into bed by 8:30 on a regular basis.
Right now, instead of taking my children to COSI, I'm letting the 3 year old have a long nap and the 4 year old is watching and episode of Pocoyo.  For the second time.
All I can say is that I know that I do lots of wonderful mommy things, as does the blogger and all of my mommy friends.  I even have mommy friends who have Elves that do goofy things, and more power to 'em.  You do your thing.  I'll do mine.  And, as they say, the kids will be all right.

PS -- I finally figured out how to make words into links.  Not that this is hard at all, but I'm a reluctant technology adopter, so I'm really proud of myself here.  Just sayin'.

I Need a Wife, Too*

My parents came to visit a few days ago.  I love my parents.  For three days, all the dishes in my kitchen were clean, all the laundry was folded and there was no cat throw up anywhere.  Life was good.   I commented on this to my mother, and she said that once she went back to work (when I was about 13-ish), she realized how much she really wanted to have a wife, too -- someone to cook and clean and help out with the kids because it was pretty damn apparent that she didn't have enough time to do all of that anymore.  And despite being generally decent kids, my brothers and I weren't all that helpful in the household-duties department.  I mean, we did the dishes after dinner, and even cooked occasionally, but we pretty much only cleaned our rooms at gunpoint.
Mom and Dad also kept the kids occupied and happy, a thing I mention only because both of them have just started to scream.  Darling Daughter has just taken Darling Son's toys again.  She's smaller, but always seems to win these fights.  She takes what she wants, and shrieks with unholy volume when anyone tries to take it back.  Her usual target is DS, who usually comes to us, weeping, instead of grabbing back or hitting.  Sometimes he even tries to reason with her, but as she's three, it usually doesn't work.  As his daycare teacher says -- DS is a lover, not a fighter.  DD, on the other hand, would punch and shriek her way through a crowd of kitten-holding nuns to get a toy she wanted, and that's just the way she's built.
Now, we do strive to impress upon DD that violence isn't acceptable, and eventually it will sink in, I'm sure.  (really.  any day now.  she's going to figure it out.  really.)  But honestly, I can't say with any certainty which way of approaching life is the better one.  So other than trying to mold aggressiveness into assertiveness in DD, and helping DS hone his negotiation skills, I think it's probably best just to let them be who they are.
I think this was also my parents' philosophy, and I'm rather grateful for it.  For that, and for folding all the laundry.  Come back and visit anytime.  (The clean clothes are piling up again.)

*iTunes - Music - Open Lines & Signals by Bernice Lewis

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I Should Be So Lucky

I am out of sorts and bloated and angry for no reason and finding all things in my world to be pleasureless, bleak and gray.  No, it is not "that time of the month" thankyouverymuch.  No, this dip into the depths is drug induced.
I am on a 6 day course of prednisone.
It does this to me, on about day four.  I warned J that come about, oh, Thursday, I would start being out of sorts but when it actually happened I was caught unawares.  I was stomping about at work, unable to concentrate, and then just about falling down during dance class.  Thinking, for the first time, that I don't like this class anymore and ought to quit.  I have never thought this.  I love my dance class.  What the hell is wrong with me?  Oh.....yes.   Prednisone.
The reason I am on prednisone is because it is a steroid, and I am trying to reduce the inflammation in my elbow and shoulder so they stop hurting all the freaking time.  I would say more on my feelings about this, but there is always that chance that someone from my professional life would come along and read this, and my persona as a sweet, unsullied grade-school teacher would be tarnished.   So.  Enough about that.
Suffice it to say that it hurts considerably, all the time, and impairs my ability to do everything I would like to do.
The thing is, though, that it really is a minor problem.  I was reading today about some poor kid with mitochondrial insufficiency or somesuch and it's going to kill him.  I should be so lucky as to have a bum arm and all I need is to put up with prednisone.
Only, it isn't really working.  I'm still in a lot of pain (not as much as that kid, though, I'm betting) and it's all making me very grumpy.  My brain keeps telling me to cut it out and stop being such a wimp and be grateful I am not in worse shape but this isn't helping.  I tried having some ice cream, and that didn't help either.  I'm thinking of moving on to wine.  There's some nice Moscato in the laundry room.*
Last time I was on this steroid, I was listening to NPR, and Marketplace came on, with the announcement that Ky Ryssdal was on vacation, and I burst into tears.  Apparently I really like Ky Ryssdal.
What I don't entirely get is why prednisone does this to me.  I mean, it's a steroid, right?  The thing that men naturally have in vast quantities?  And yet, they are not walking balls of weepiness and rage.  Well, not most of them.  And here is me, ready to destroy everything in my path with burning rage rays shot from my eyeballs or, alternately, weep myself into a puddle.
The worst part, possibly, is that a dear friend of mine just sent me an advent calendar full of writing prompts, good wishes and pictures of the gifts she donated (in my honor, I guess) to the less fortunate.  So I have wonderful, uplifting and quirky things about which to write, and all I can think of is bleak landscapes, and unopened bottles of wine.
So, if you'll excuse me for a few days, I gotta go check on something in the laundry room.

*Don't ask why we have Moscato in the laundry room.  I don't know.   We have food stored in at least four different places in this house, and I'm not entirely sure why.  I think it has to do with the fact that any food I store in the basement pantry is forgotten about almost instantly and only recalled when I go down there to get something from the deep freeze.

Monday, December 5, 2011

whole lotta nothing

It's 11 o'clock and I should be headed to bed, but I keep procrastinating.  It's peaceful and quiet and since being put to bed, neither of our kids had been up for anything which makes the past hour or so golden time.  I want to stretch it out as long as possible, which isn't really wise, and taking a moment to blog something is just another means of avoiding what I should be doing instead.
At least it's creative task avoidance.  In my family, there are two kinds of task avoidance, crass and creative.  Watching tv instead of doing your homework, or mowing the lawn or whatever it is you have to do is crass.  So is playing computer games and monkey-clicking through websites for hours on end.  Creative task avoidance is when you actually do something that's at least partially useful, like doing the laundry instead of dishes.  Reading can count, as long as it's not just fluff and isn't what you've been doing for the past, say six hours.  So I'm counting this as creative.  But barely.
I've been floundering around a bit, trying to think of things to write about, but I keep falling short.  Not because of a dearth of things to write about, but because so many of them are just way too personal.  I love to read The Bloggess and MommyWantsVodka and such.  They're hysterically funny and reveal all sorts of personal quirks about the writers' lives.  And the lives and foibles of their loved ones.  Even though I know that practically no one is reading this, I still don't want to air our dirty laundry or complain incessantly about my kids or even talk about some of the stuff going down in my extended family that I've been thinking about lately.  I'm not sure how real bloggers get around this.
Maybe I need a theme, or hook to wrap this whole blog thing on.
Or maybe I just need to get off my duff and head to bed, because, really, this isn't very creative.  If I were being creative I'd be writing our annual holiday newsletter and not putzing around here trying to figure out how to make myself more interesting.