Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The F Word

It occurred to me this past week while reading a book to my child that I am very offended by a certain widely-used word.  No, no, it's probably not the "f" word you're thinking of.  That word doesn't offend me in the least. 

The word that offends me so much is "fat."  Maybe it doesn't offend me, maybe there's a better word to describe how this word makes me feel.  I can't for the life of me think of another descriptive right now. 

Claire has a book that talks about all of baby's parts: eyes, ears, legs, tummy, etc.  When it describes the tummy it says:  "What a round fat tummy."  I can't stand this passage so I always change the word fat to something else. 

The truth is that I don't want Claire or Zora to associate this word with their bodies, the baby in the book's body, or anyone else's body. 

I have had to watch myself, though.  I had a bad habit of calling Zora my little fat baby.  This doesn't bother Zora, she's not going to remember any of this anyway.  Claire, however, might latch on to that word, as she is wont to do at times, and use it.  She might not, but I can't take that chance.

See, I can't protect them from everything.  They're going to go out into the world and see images, and hear words.  They'll connect the dots, put two and two together, etc.  I can protect them within my own home from putting any value and meaning into the words "fat" and "skinny," for that matter.

It's bad enough that Barbie is out there gallivanting about with her freakish body of giant boobs, tiny waste and fused fingers.  I don't want to have a 4 year old that thinks that she needs to go on a diet.  I hope that we would never get that far.

That being said, I want to raise healthy girls, not skinny girls.  I have always shuddered when moms brag on the thinness of their children.  I am a big fan of the Play 60 program.  If you haven't heard of it, it basically just encourages kids to get 60 minutes of active play every day.  Here's what kills me about this:  we have to encourage kids to play?  What?  I believe this is what some would refer to as a "New World problem."  These kids aren't too sick to play.  They aren't starving and therefore have no energy to play.  They're too fracking lazy!  Seriously? 

When I was young, my sister and I would come home from school, eat a snack, watch some cartoons and then play outside until dark or supper, which ever came first.  There was only 1 hour of cartoons on between General Hospital and the news so we didn't have many options.  My mom didn't have to force us to play, we wanted to.  We rode bikes, played on our swing set and just ran around.  It didn't really matter how warm or cold it was, we'd bundle up in the snow and play until we were frozen (if mom had let us).  In the summer we'd stop to get a drink from the hose if it was hot.

We didn't have a Nintendo, we didn't have Cartoon Network.  We had bikes, a yard, and plenty of energy to run off.

Neither my sister, nor I, am very athletic.  I had a brief stint as a cheerleader and a basketball player, neither I was incredibly good at.  I think Robin funneled any athleticism into being an expert on everything and can now beat the hell out of you at just about any trivia, IQ, etc test.  We were both in ballet for many years which taught us good posture, patience and a little French.  All we have since lost...unless you are talking about pardon-my-French, in which case we are both fluent. 

At some point during those years of just being a kid the word "fat" crept into my vocabulary.  Not only did it creep in but it assigned itself quite a bit of power.  If I have anything to say about it, this word will not control my children as it has controlled me.  So, in the mean time, we will not use "fat" to describe people or their parts, nor will we use "skinny."  

I pledge to not stand in the mirror and say, "ugh, do I look fat in this?"  I pledge to not obsess over what I am eating, how I look, and I will certainly not diet.

I will, however, try to feed my children healthy food, encourage them to play until they are sweaty and dirty and desperately in need of a bath, and let them eat cake, ice cream and cookies.  I don't want them to think these sweets are so unattainable that when they do get their hands on them, they go crazy.

We have found an interesting truce, the TV and I.  This past week I discovered how much Claire loves to dance along with Dance Central 2 on the Kinect.  She's pretty good.  She spins, stomps, bounces.  I as mentioned in a post previously, her daddy can't dance, so her skills are refreshing.  With it being 20 degrees outside, this is a nice alternative to running her around the park for a few hours and it's a nice compromise between the TV and me.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Thank you...

Usually I try to be a little funny each week while addressing something that truly bothers me.  Although my husband says I am, in fact, not funny. 

This past week the world lost a very special little boy, so I'm not feeling so funny.  Tripp Roth was a precious 2 year old suffering from EB.  If you've never heard of EB, epidermolysis bullosa, please take a moment to do a bit of research (yes this week comes with reading assignments). 

It's basically a terribly painful skin disease, but that description really doesn't do justice to the amount of suffering these children go through.  In some instances it is lethal, with children not living beyond their first year of life.  Tripp was diagnosed at birth with junctional EB, the worst of the worst from what I can tell.  His doctors did not expect him to live beyond his first year, but he defied odds and lived to the tender age of 2 years and 8 months, just 4 months shy of his 3rd birthday.

I have been following his mother Courtney's blog since this summer.  I have had many people, including my husband, ask me why I read such depressing, sad things.  Here is my response:  it makes me appreciate every moment with my children.

At 7:00 a.m. I get up with both of my children as one of them always wakes the other up no matter how I try.

At 7:30 a.m. I feed Claire breakfast.  I try to entertain Zora as she glares at me angrily because she knows whatever I'm cooking, she's not getting.

From 8:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. I continue to try to entertain both Zora and Claire and teach them important things like their ABCs, 123s and how to remove tomato sauce from t-shirts. 

At 11:30 a.m. I prepare lunch for Claire while Zora again plots my demise knowing she won't be having what we're having.

By 12:30 p.m. Claire is down for a nap having been read two stories, tucked-in under 3 blankets, and kissed and snuggled by no fewer than 2 stuffed animals.

By 1:00 p.m. Zora is finally starting to nod off after her feeding frenzy.

At 3:00 p.m. the girls are back up and ready to re-destroy the house until Daddy gets home and we all eat dinner...again while Zora gnaws on her arm indignantly.

Claire bathes after dinner, we all play and then Claire retires at 7:30 p.m.  Zora stays up to party all night with us.

Did you catch all of that?  No where in that description of my day did I once worry if my child would make it beyond their next birthday because they are battling a deadly disease.  There is never a point during my day where I cannot hold my babies, tickle them, squeeze them and kiss their cheeks.  My life is gloriously uncomplicated. 

I read blogs like Courtney's to pay homage to a mom whose struggles are so beyond my own that I can hardly comprehend what her days must have been like.  My brain will not let me attempt to understand what she must be going through now.  The thought of losing a child rips at my soul like nothing I've ever felt.  But I read on because I feel that it's important to support fellow mom-types, hell, fellow human beings. 

This woman buried her child today.  She cared for him every day until his death.  People talk about living every day to its fullest and bucket lists.  This type of tragedy laughs in the face of such frivolous ideas.  How about just living each day?  This poor child knew nothing but pain and suffering and as much as his mother wanted her child with her here in this life, she knew that in death he would find peace.  Can you imagine?  Hoping this for your child?  I can't speak the words, let alone type them. 

So this week, I want you all to take a moment to appreciate the life of this child.  I want to thank Tripp and Courtney Roth for helping me appreciate my children just that much more; for helping me appreciate my simple life for a moment.  Television is not lethal.  Television is not even on my radar this week.  This week I am trying to hug my babies more than they can stand.  I am trying to kiss them until they push me away.  I am daily saying a silent thank you to a little boy who took his last breaths and made me appreciate each of mine.

Rest in glorious, painless peace Tripp. 

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Really? Really!

After writing my weekly post about excess it's like the heavens opened up and offered me a mid-week post. 

Beyonce (no I will not put that silly accent over the "e" in your name...unless you would like to put the tilde thingie over the "n" in my name) and Jay-Z (oh Jiminy Crickets I can hardly take this with these names!) had their baby.  A precious little girl they inexplicably named Blue Ivy or something of the sort.  Why don't you just go ahead and keep a therapist on call for this kid. 

Sorry, I digress, I'm not actually upset with their name.  There's plenty really awful names floating around out there.  Just think, someday someone named _____ will be performing your open-heart surgery or advising you about your retirement.  Okay, so I didn't fill this in so that I didn't offend any of my friends...

I decided to rant on a Thursday night because these people are killing me with their bullshit.  They have a golden rocking horse for this baby and a bejeweled crib.  Are you f-ing kidding me?  (Here I invite you to fill in your own word for "f."  Here are some suggestions:  freaking, frick-fracking, fennel-seeding, fish-frying, food-fighting, etc)

What the Frank-Lloyd-Wright does a baby need with a gold rocking horse?  Not gold as in plush with a golden hue, like gold as in the precious metal.  Will it make her smarter?  More friendly?  A better person in general?  Nope. 

There are children starving and dying right here in our own country not to mention all over the world.  But by all means, get your kid the horse. 

I'll give Beyonce and Mr. -Z a break.  Perhaps they're just trying to provide their child with the childhood they never had.  May I suggest though, that rather than buying a bunch of bullshit, spend time with your child.  Teach your child about being a good citizen.  Teach your child that giving is better than receiving.  Let them explore the world and decide on their own what they like.  It might be golden equine, but it might be the box in which the equine arrived.  Look, I'm sure they intend to do all of those things anyway, so what's with the horse?

I can't take it.  My brain just exploded.  I will direct you to my friend's blog where she is far more diplomatic and likely more entertaining with her commentary on this topic.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Up to My Neck in Toys and Hypocrisy

Every week I have all of these ideas of what I want to write about...then they all disappear when I sit down on Monday/Tuesday/whenever-I-get-around-to-it-day.  But, fortunately (we'll see about that) I have this little idea that always floats around in my head that I smack down weekly and think no one wants to listen to me rant about that.  Oh, well, f-it.  Here goes.

During the holiday season I noted something in pictures of my friends, in television commercials, in my own home.  It's excess.  What?  Did she mean to type something else?  Nope.

When I was growing up and Christmas time rolled around I did what every other kid did.  I hoped and prayed that I would get that toy or thing.  I would sit on that sweaty, creepy Santa-look-alike and ask him to please relay my message to the real Santa.  I may have been young, but I knew Joplin, Mo was not the North Pole so clearly, this was not Santa.  Then my mother destroyed Christmas in one fell swoop when she left our BRIGHT BLUE toboggan sitting in the back of her closet with the door open then claimed it was from Santa on Christmas morning.  Okay, so Christmas wasn't dead but Santa was...Okay, so Santa wasn't dead but I'm going on a guilt trip here people.

Seriously, I never felt cheated on Christmas morning if I only had a few gifts under the tree and one very full stocking.

Sidebar:  My mother is the queen of stuffing stockings.  If there is a deck of cards with cats on it to be had, a reindeer hand towel to be rolled up and crammed in, a hot chocolate flavored lip balm to be dug out of the bottom of a stocking, my mom will find it...probably in July when no one else is even looking for stocking stuffers.  Props to my mom for getting me more useless, thoughtful, fun crap than anyone could ever want.

Back to Christmas morning.  My childhood Christmas looks nothing like the Christmases I see now.  The amount of toys, clothes, gifts of any sort that are given now makes me think that the economy must be taking a turn for the better.  It's ridiculous.  Remember that I am including myself in this category.  I'm by no means standing on some soap box or pontificating from my high horse here.  I'm just observing, okay it's observation with a bit of snark.

Kids get so much stuff these days.  I sit here in my living room surrounded by no fewer than four Little People homesteads, several vehicles of varying size, and more books, toys and puzzles than one little girl and one angry baby could ever play with and we probably have half of what most people have.  (I'm basing this on what I see on Book-your-face.) 

I feel like we weren't raised to put so much value on things.  I know I wasn't.  But I get sucked in.  I walk down the aisles of Toys-r-Us and say, "Claire doesn't have the Little People airplane.  I bet she'd love it.  We've been on an airplane so clearly she needs this.  If I don't get this for her she will be scarred and it will surely be the subject of some rant-y blog that she'll be writing in 30 years."  Then I stop talking to myself because people are looking at me.  I pretend I'm talking to the baby, which doesn't make them think I'm any less crazy than they did before.

Now, I have no problem with having many, many books.  We love reading, we love books.  I'd rather have books than anything else.  I plan to donate these books and these toys when the girls are done with them...if there's anything left of them.

That's my sincere hope for all of the excess that I see around me:  I hope that everyone donates toys and clothes as their children grow out of them.

Here's a confession I'm not scared to make:  I buy used.  Oh yes, I buy whatever I can for the girls from the resale shop.  Why?  Because I like to save money and because I try my best to do my part for the environment and this is recycling in its easiest form.  I figure I have to do something since my husband would like to leave every.single.light. in the world on at all times.  Sometimes when I tell people this they look all shocked like such nice things can't possibly be used.  Honestly, how many times can your child possibly wear a Christmas dress?  Some confounded outfit that only looks good in a Vogue-esque photo shoot?  Someday our children will be very angry that we put such large bows on their heads.  Hey, my girls wear bows.  My rule of thumb though is if the bow is actually bigger than the baby's head, it's not going on my child.  I want to look at the baby, not the bow. (No offense bow-makers, your bows are works of art, but so is the Mona Lisa and I'm not putting that on my baby either.)

Anyway, I made a resolution at the beginning of this year.  It's not really a New Year's resolution because that implies it's just for 2012.  This is a lifetime resolution.  I'm going to try to keep myself in check.  Claire and Zora don't need everything their little hearts desire.  I want them to know what it is like to want something and have to wait for it.  I want them to also know how to deal with disappointment.  We are raising a group of kids who have been told everyone wins, everyone is great, and "yes" over and over again.  This is not the real world.  They will not always win.  They will be told "no."  There will be people who are better than them at lots of things.  I want them to be able to deal with the bad so that the good is appreciated just that much more.

Television, television, right...hmmm...oh, sorry, I was distracted by Tabatha Takes Over on Bravo.  We're still on a bit of TV here and there.  Claire has become quite the tattletale though.  She says, "Nina night-night.  La la la lullaby."  Sprout has a show on at night called The Goodnight Show.  Its hosts are Nina, a real person, and Star, a puppet star.  They sing a song that goes "La-la-lullaby, la-la-lullaby..."  Yeah, we never let her watch TV, that's why she knows the host's names and their theme songs.  Busted.  She's such a narc. 

Again, I would like to reiterate that Sprout is better than most of the "children's" programming out there.  Over the weekend my dad was trying to find something Sprout-esque for Claire to watch at their house.  He ran across a cartoon and thought, this works.  The acid trip the writers and artists of this show must have been on caused me to have flashbacks just from watching.  The characters consisted of several monsters.  One looked like a naked, muscle-y abdomen with legs and arms wearing a belt.  I couldn't tell you what the others looked like because of the distracting nakedness of the one monster.  Yeck, now I need a shower, this show was that gross.  We quickly changed it when we both realized that this was real life.  Claire wasn't interested anyway.  There was a cat to smack, I mean pet.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2012: The slightly more attractive older sibling of 2011

As the holidays come to their close, I wanted to reflect on this past year of my life.  Don't worry, I'll have a fresh rant for my next entry (fresh like I haven't ranted about it before, not like Fresh Prince fresh).

So many things have happened to my little family.  For one thing, my little family got just a little bit bigger with the additional of Miss Baby, Zora Robin.  She's been a joy and a challenge...a very hungry, loud, joyous challenge.  Claire has become quite the tiny lady with words and attitude and a great sense of humor.  Rob and I have just gotten more haggard and more boring.  I'd like to say I'm joking, but sadly I'm not.  Having two children under 2 is tough and honestly, we weren't that exciting before.  (If we seemed that way, you may have just been drunk.)  In fact, as I attempt to write this my husband is pacing the floor trying to soothe Miss B and also trying to educate me (against my will) about the college football bowl games.  Every two minutes or so he pops around the corner and says, "Hey honey, blah blah blah blah."  Replace the "blah"s with whatever happens in college football, I care not. 

So, anyway, back to our year in review.  I started writing this blog to chronicle raising these babies without the help of TV or meds.  Sadly, it seems I need to change the subtitle of my blog because both have crept into the equation.  Not only are we watching a touch of the tube from time to time to soothe the savage toddler, but I have thrown in the towel.  The towel on trying to fight this PPD fight on my own.  I called my doctor, cried like a fool on the phone and was promptly prescribed some happy pills (Zoloft).  So far they just make me feel loopy so I'm hesitant to say that this is better.  Since I've basically been pregnant or breastfeeding for the past three years, loopy is something I rarely experience.  Unless you count extreme exhaustion, which is not the same thing. 

I truly wish that I could say that we have completely cut TV out of our lives, that Claire is reading in several languages now because of cutting TV out and that I am well-rested, pleased all of the time and ready to rock my bikini in May.  None of these things are true, though.  That being said, I have a distinct feeling of Oh-Well.  It's an interesting feeling that I don't think I have felt much in my years of attempted over achievement and attempted perfection.

I can say that in the year 2011 I discovered that I am doing a pretty good job at this whole parenting thing.  This wasn't a result of my mom's constant cheering or my husband's reassurances.  It was a result of being honest with myself in a very public forum.  Writing this blog and the responses that I have received have been so incredibly comforting. 

I very much live vicariously through Facebook, as I have mentioned previously.  I don't care, judge me for it.  It's the most popular app on my phone.  It seemed to me from this little window to the outside world that everyone's child was bilingual, well-behaved and walking by 8 months.  My child, on the other hand, speaks only English with a good bit of Clairish(which I guess makes her bilingual), is rotten (but cute) and didn't walk until she was nearly 11 months old. (You will note no reference to Miss B here because she has yet to become rotten or walk or talk, for that matter, because she is too busy being hungry and complainy.)  I used this window to put ridiculous expectations on myself and my children.  I resented people and children that I hardly knew based on representations posted in the form of pictures and status updates.  I have to hand it to some of you.  You painted a lovely picture and I was green with envy.  It seems so silly now, in hind sight.  I would call my sister and recount to her what everyone else's child was doing and was Claire okay because she was not yet doing the same.  If you're doing this to yourself, stop.  It will surely drive you crazy.  I will mark myself as Exhibit A here.

I am gladly bidding adieu to 2011 and welcoming 2012.  My mom says even-numbered years are always better anyway.  My hope for myself is that I can look back on 2011 as the year that we completed our family, I lost my mind, and shortly thereafter found it.

I feel like TV has become that sneaky bastard buzzy fly that always finds its way into your bedroom at night and drives you crazy but you just can't catch it. Television in our house is very much in the background.  It doesn't control our lives, it's hardly an afterthought on some days but at times, I just want to squish it.  Tonight is one of those times as I retreat to the upper regions of our home to escape the noises of the game or NFL Network or whatever other program is on where the announcers are making up words left and right.  P.S. Stick-to-it-ed-ness is not and never will be a word.  Here's to hoping 2012 is filled with wonderful things and not the apocalypse.