La La How The Life Goes On

Archive for May 2011

There are times when I realize that I am such a girl, in all the ways that aren’t really fabulous. I had one such epiphany this weekend after Bambina rocked it at her horse riding show. It was only her second show, and she’s relatively new to the sport (is it a sport?), so I didn’t want her to feel bad if she didn’t place. So I was just beating the dead horse (ha!) of “it’s just so great that you are participating, sweetie.”. And then she took first place, two second places, and won her class.

Later that evening she had a “very important” question for me, and it went something like this: “Mama, that other girl I was practicing with the other day? The one who came in last in all our events today? When I first met her I thought she was nice and I wasn’t really thinking about winning or anything. I was just feeling happy to be on the horse. Well, she started telling me how awesome she was, and how little I was, and how she didn’t need my help to untack because she knew it all. And, Mama? I decided that minute I was going to beat her, and I am so happy I did. Is that okay?”

Friends, how Stupid Girl is it that I had to think for a long minute before giving my daughter permission to be competitive? I was all, ” but I don’t want her to turn into a mean girl, and blah blah blah.”. Then I realized: there is not a father in America telling his son, “now, son, we just wish everyone on that other team well, and if they win that’s great too, and we don’t want to seem ugly by trying to beat them.”. There is no such father. So I said, “that is absolutely 100% okay, my love. You told yourself you were going to win, you practiced to win, and you won. Fair and square. As long as we don’t act mean to others (like, oh, telling them they are too small and not necessary), then have at it. Wish all your opponents good luck, and feel free to follow it up (in your head) with ” because you’re gonna need it.”

I still wasn’t certain I’d done the right thing until I told the Babydaddy what she said. He pumped his fist and said, “that’s my girl!”. Which is precisely why little girls need daddies, and why sometimes mommies need to think like daddies.

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Left Behind

Posted on: May 22, 2011

i’m a little rusty on my End Times theology, but I’m thinking today was not the day for the Rapture after all. How does it even work? Aren’t these events supposed to be prefaced by some kind of apocalypse which will be preceded by the four horsemen of said apocalypse? Isn’t it supposed to be all scary stuff happening that makes us Jews and our atheist HIndu friends freak out and beg that Jesus accept us as his children before we burn in the fires of hell?

Well, however it works, the BabyDaddy and I were in the fires of hell this morning. Please picture two girls shrieking, wailing, projectile drama-ing before 8am, all because…we have no idea. In a chilling premonition of Bambina’s adolescence, anything we said to her sent her into her room in a blur of tears and yelling. Then Baby Sister wanted candy for breakfast. Even I said no to that. Which prompted her to begin shrieking and screaming like a banshee. BBDD and I were looking at each other like, “What the fuck just happened here?” And so it continued apace all morning, until we suggested that we all go to the zoo. That started another round of drama, ‘Nooo! NOt the zooo!!!!!” Like we’d suggested double root canals with a side of liver and broccoli. I was pretty certain for a minute there that we had indeed been left behind, because this was hell on earth for sure.

So we regrouped. I looked at the BBDD and said, “Divide and conquer!” So we each took one child and nursed her back to mental health. But, in all honesty, I was sitting with Bambina, hugging, doing all the soothing things but I was really thinking, “Punk, you are effing kidding me with this!” Baby Sister for her part gets credit for knowing herself, because as she was flipping out on the floor i said, “Do you need to go back to bed maybe? You woke up a little bit early today.” She screamed, “YES!!!” and grabbed her Pooh blanket and her cat Bobo and marched herself into her bed with a “bite me, Mama!” flourish.

As I sat with Bambina and talked her off the ledge, I was thinking about what The Rapture would entail and what people would be expecting to find when they got to wherever it was that the rapture party was happening. Would they expect 1,000 virgins? Or their own floaty cloud with George Burns on direct dial? Or eternal harmony? All I know is that, even as I sat there thinking, “these offing kids have been sent here to kill me and I will not break first!” I was pretty certain that the only place I wanted to be raptured to was right here, with these insane children, the bemused BabyDaddy, and this money pit of a house.

Did I mention that my husband has a PhD? Because he does. That’s a doctorate, for those of you without the knowledge, skills and abilities of a PhD. My husband has one, in case I neglected to mention that very relevant fact. And by “one” I mean a PhD. Which means he is perhaps smarter and certainly more credible than you. So you know, if you are mounting some kind of effort that requires signatures, you need to be sure that those individuals with higher degrees list them to wow the judges.

Oh, how I wish I were making this up dear readers. But not holding a PhD in narrative fiction, I obviously am not. Without outing those involved, I will just say that parents are banding together to rectify/head off an issue at Bambina’s school vis a vis the school committee. Which involves both group and individual letters as well as attending The Big Meeting to throw down. It’s all going swimmingly, everyone agrees on the letter text (miracle!), we are all united. Then one mom does a final edit adding in the various academic degrees of letter signers. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! So the Baby Daddy does his lowkey, “just wondering why that’s necessary?” email. The chorus of Degreed Individuals reply to claim that it adds “credibility.”. Riiiiiight. So you, with your PhD in French Literature, are somehow more credible to the school committee than, say, someone like my dad, who had a GED and three jobs?? Because someone who works at Dunkin Donuts can’t possibly be a credible witness for her child’s education? Someone who checks my groceries is less credible than YOU? A person who went to some extra college ten years ago? BITCH PLEASE.

Needless to say, the BBDD, PhD and I are furious, because now we have created a division, a hierarchy within our ranks. Now we are no longer A Group of Concerned Parents Banding Together. Now we have some extra special people who want recognition for understanding economics or psychology in the midst of a debate that has nothing to do with either.

Please understand. I value education. I have never in my life requested the least educated cancer specialist or the least educated teacher for my kids I deplore people who reflexively consider educated politicians to be “elitist.”. It’s good to be smart; it’s good to be educated; it’s good to be skilled. But it’s not good if that education turns you into a stuck up clueless snob.

None of these items deserve their own post, but together they may give you a little bit of a window into my daily life with an almost seven year-old girl.

1. Bambina recently told me that I should be happy that I’m fat because “there are lots of people who are thin but not pretty. You are at least fat AND pretty.” Um, thanks?

2. Bambina (again) has written a series of short stories, all entitled some variation of “Girls Are Fun! At the Beach” or “Girls Are Fun! At School!” It’s totally cute, but in every story she writes, “Girls are fun! Being a boy? Now that’s just silly.”

3. Bambina told me that a boy in her class says he can grab the sun and hold it above his head. I remarked that maybe he likes imagining he is a superhero. She replied, “But that’s dumb. Superheroes are just ‘mans’ running around in weird outfits.”

4. I’ll spare you the context, but she also remarked, “Poor Dada. He does not have a vagina.” I’m pretty certain Dada has made his peace with that reality, sweetheart.

5. Bambina completely embarrassed me the other day by regaling various adults with her “Dance With the Boobies and Bra” original composition. She’s done it before, but this time she added in a special “Poop” chorus, dedicated to farting and pooping in your mother’s face. She and her fellow first graders collaborated on the chorus. Some day Elton John will sing it at my funeral, I’m sure.

6. And finally, she was complaining that “Dada is too strict.” I explained that any Dada less strict than the Mama is a bad dada, because the entire job, the entire raison d’etre of a father is to shut down any notion, any idea, any whiff of anything that smells like loosey-goosey nonsense for his daughter. Her response? Does “loosey goosey nonsense” mean I can’t get a pony? Yes, Veruca, it does.

100% or Nothing

Posted on: May 19, 2011

Finally had time to read a book this week. A book containing neither illustrations of fuzzy animals learning to potty nor anthropomorphic creatures counting to ten. I know. Wondrous.

It was something like “Success Principles” or the like, by Jack Canfield of “Chicken Soup for the Soul” fame. Anyone who knows me knows that I find all of those self-help books to be irritating at best, positively stabby at worst. I despise any book that has little stories of Jenny from Kansas City who loved balloons and found a way to translate her love of balloons into global love for all mankind. Or Edgar, the man in accounting, who was so unhappy with his life until he found his soul mate Deirdre simply by learning honesty. Please. The stories are predictable, the messages hackneyed, the entire concept annoying. These books remind me of those emails sent by senior citizen family members wherein you are told the story of some sick child collecting stamps or Bill Gates giving a dollar to charity for every forward and you are then urged, exhorted, strenuously requested to forward/send a stamp/learn a lesson from the story. No thank you, sheeple of the world.

But I did read the book because a good friend I admire recommended it. She is a fabulous woman, pretty, successful, funny as all hell; so I figured I’d flip a page or two before declaring it Not Worth My Time. No need. Page One: “Take 100% responsibility for everything in your life.” What? Of course I take 100% responsibility for my life! This book sucks! Who IS this guy?! {silence} Um. Okay, so sometimes I blame my circumstances for why I can’t do something. And sometimes I blame the fact that I’m a mom for why I can’t do things. And sometimes I blame the BabyDaddy for why I can’t sleep like I used to. Actually, that one is valid. My whole life I’ve gone to sleep with Magic 106.7 in the quiet background. Totally easy listening nonsense, like Gloria Estefan (all the ballads, not the others containing the words “the beat” or “the rhythm”), DeBarge, the theme from St. Elmo’s Fire. You know what I’m sayin’, 80’s children. Music to put you to sleep. Since my marriage to the BBDD I have had to relinquish this lifelong habit because he can stand neither light nor noise at bedtime. I regret nothing about marrying this man except for my loss of David Allan Boucher’s somnolent voice at 11pm.

Anyway. Where was I? Right. I was in the middle of taking responsibility for everything in my life. So two pages into this obviously stupid book, and I have an epiphany: I take about 50% responsibility for everything in my life. Which conveniently allows me to make excuses, offer complaints and laments, and generally avoid personal accountability. When you take 100% responsibility, you can no longer rely on excuses or reasons or circumstances to explain your life situation; you must simply place the burning little package of dog shit at your own front door and stomp out the flames with your own damn feet. Personal accountability? How tiresome. And how revolutionary.

Let’s take one example: my weight. The fact is that I am on a medication that makes me fat. End of story. No amount of 100%ing it will make me skinny, right? But let’s acknowledge, friends, that perhaps 3 of my extra 15 pounds belong to the random M&Ms, the over-mayo’d sandwich I ordered because I was in a rush to an appointment, the fact that I can’t (= don’t) exercise. So if I am living the 100% principle, I am responsible for those three pounds. Sure, being 12 pounds overweight is no picnic at a beauty pageant, but it sure will feel better than 15, right? So what am I waiting for? Obviously, my true exercising days are over, what with my crumbling skeletal system, and any notion of swimming in a pool being immediately vetoed on the grounds of rampant disgusting bacteria therein. But what CAN I do to exercise however I can? Well, I can lift 5 pound weights on my arms. I can do old school leg lifts like I’m in a Jane Fonda video. I can do SOMETHING so I can take responsibility for exercising.

If this sounds self-punishing, I will balance it with the other important conclusion I’ve reached regarding the 100%. Taking responsibility for me and my feelings and situations means that I really no longer have to take responsibility for YOURS. I’ll stick with the weight issue since we’re on the topic. I decided yesterday that I will no longer wear clothes I hate just so I can hide my fat. Friends (or whomever). you are going to have to take responsibility for any issues you have with seeing fat people. Can’t stand the thought of me with my no-beer belly hanging over my pants? Sorry! I simply can no longer wear giant muumuu shirts to preserve your gentle sensibilities. I like my t-shirts and I want to wear them. They make me happy; unlike the giant tents I’ve been purchasing at Old Navy to “camouflage” my prednisone baby for your benefit. Pursuant to reading this book, I’ve realized that the world will survive a Fat Mama. People who love me (and maybe some who don’t) will live through the tragedy and carnage of seeing my potbelly and big old double chin. The earth will continue to spin on its axis, Donald Trump will continue to be a deluded self-aggrandizing joke, my children will continue to selectively listen to me from minute to minute–and yes–the planet and its inhabitants will valiantly survive the travesty of seeing me as a chubba.

So whether the rest of the book is hooey, I can’t say. But that first page knocked me on my ass, 100%.

JewishWeek

Saw this on FB today via a friend. Oh, where to begin! It has all of my favorite irritations tied up in one super excellent little package of emotional and theological retardation. Huzzah!

If you can’t click (or be bothered to) the short-story-long is this: Ultra-orthodox newspaper removes the United States Secretary of State and the Director of Counterterrorism at the NSC from the now-iconic photo of the situation room during the killing of Osama bin Laden. Why? Because they are women, and as such, cannot be featured in an ultra-ortho newspaper in the belief that women a) should not be in leadership roles and–this is the best one–b) photos of women can be sexually arousing for the men who read the paper.

1. It’s laughable. Let’s get the obvious joke out of the way first for those of you who are desperate to hear or make it: When I think of “sexually arousing,” your mileage may vary, but my mind immediately goes directly to that Secretary of Smut, that former Senator from Sexiness, Hillary Rodham Clinton. Thank God the good people in the ultra-orthodox community are being saved from the society-rending results of seeing two smart women in suits. Suits under which they are naked. Mmmm….naked.

2. It’s offensive to Judaism. This newspaper, as the article says, is practicing deceit. You’ve heard of deceit; explicitly prohibited by God from what I gather. Implicitly prohibited by God, even. Absolutely prohibited under any reading of the Torah whatsoever. There are several other commandments (Jews have 613 btw [JewFAQ] in addition to the standard Ten C’s of Charlton Heston/Yul Brynner fame. Or was that Kirk Douglas?) Either way, it is not the job of a newspaper to be Cecil B. DeMille.

3. It’s offensive to history. You don’t like a story so you change it? What are they? Fox News? Why don’t they just put a big black blob over the women’s images and be honest: “Redacted for your protection” Or would the knowledge that, just under that blob sits a fully-clothed woman at the highest echelons of power, in and of itself cause feelings of “sensuality” among their readership? How can a publication simply alter the facts of history to suit their own biases? *Cough! Fox News! Cough!* It’s a disgrace. Say what you will about Hillary Clinton (and I myself have said much), she has earned her place at that table. But some emotionally retarded religo-freak decides she didn’t exist and -blam- she’s gone? Dreadful and wrong.

4. It’s offensive to…men. Aw, you thought I was gonna revert back to my days of shall we say “exuberant feminism” in college, didn’t you? That I was going to rally with my womyn friends holding my Pussy Power sign for Hillary and Audrey? Nope. They can obviously fend for themselves here, being that they were part of the operation (and by some accounts more committed to it from the start than Obama) that brought down public enemy number one for our country. No indeed, those women do not need the help of a smut-mouthed blogger from the burbs. Rather, what this newspaper’s practice does say is that men are such neanderthal animals that even looking at a woman in any form may immediately trigger dirty thoughts that they will be unable to control. Who raised these fuckers?

Okay, I will grant that the earlier part of the sentence may indeed happen to men frequently. You know you’ve thought about HRC sexually, even if only to register a “not” in the online hot or not contest. So I get that dirty thoughts may be triggered among the males of the species rather more frequently and inadvertently than in the female. Settle down, boys! But to then take the next step and say that this requires men and women to never interact or view each other because those poor men will be overcome by the rampant feminine sensuality of public figures is well beyond preposterous. It demeans men to create an editorial policy based on the belief that a) sexual thoughts are bad and b) they cannot be managed and dealt with appropriately by an adult.

5. Okay, I will go there. It’s offensive to women. I’m no giant HRC fan, as Starspangledhaggis readers will recall. Mostly because of what I consider(ed) to be the gross mismanagement of her campaign and message. We are reminded, sadly, that the Birther controversy originated not with some Palin nutcake but with a Hillary supporter who vowed to do anything to prevent the Democratic Party’s nomination of Barack Obama. We recall the dog whistle stuff she and her husband said at various seemingly-opportune times in the campaign. It was a rough time for me, having been Billy’s former girlfriend and all. But I moved on from the hurt when seeing how HRC was kicking it as Secretary of State. Brother, please. YOU KNOW Hillary was all about knocking OBL’s dick in the dirt from minute one of Panetta’s briefing. And then some emotionally-retarded, closed-minded worshipper of not God, but the Law decides she was not there and removes her from history? That there is a beating from me and my pack of angry bitter man-hating womyn.

Unless, of course, that turns you on.

Osama bin Gotten

Posted on: May 3, 2011

Bad mommy alert. When Bambina and I discussed the killing of OBL today (he was a bad man who killed lots of people and was always trying to kill more), she asked if it was good that he was killed. Oh, you know what I said: Yes, yes it is. I mean, we didn’t break out the bubbly juice boxes and get giddy on Mike&Ikes, but I definitely was comfortable teaching her (in appropriate terminology) that some dogs need to be put down for the protection of our society as a whole. I failed to clear my messaging with the Babydaddy beforehand, so it remains to be seen if I’ll have to “extend and clarify” my remarks before my policy statement on the killing of evil people can be nailed down as official. But for now, I am solidly on the side of killing mass murderers in the eyes of my kid. Let’s see how this plays out.

What is playing out on the national scene is a little bit of a disgrace. Let’s work it through logically, and let’s pretend the grown ups are in charge, okay?

If President Obama is to receive no credit for this event, then let us also agree that the capture of Saddam Hussein was devoid of George W Bush’s involvement as well. Let us stop saying that Bush kept us safe in the years following 9/11 because by your argument, the Commander in Chief has nothing to do with that and deserves no credit for national security successes. If it’s “only the troops should get credit because it’s not like Obama pulled the trigger” can we then blame those troops if that mission is a colossal failure with massive American casualties? No? Okay. So then leadership IS important? Accountability is important? Because if it’s not, why did we even care about OBL to begin with? It’s not like he flew any planes or pulled any triggers himself either.

We care because he was the leader directing the operations. He was accountable for his directives. As is the American president. Listen, I’m no cheerleader for Nixon, but it makes no sense logically or intellectually to pretend he did NOTHING right. Same with W. I’m not and never will be a fan. But he deserves credit for funding NIH and, yes, for capturing Saddam Hussein. So why is it impossible seemingly to get the same level of basic respect for The Office Of The President from the Right when it is held by Barack Obama? The man did it. Instead of instantly drinking some more haterade, how about spending the time feeling something for the families of OBL’s victims, feeling gratitude for the brave soldiers who did the scary work on the ground, and feeling some pride for the fact that we live in a country where all of these disparate people, bureaus, elements and viewpoints can come together to make something this momentous happen. Because otherwise–and I’m serious–the terrorists win.