3.26.2009

Madame Alexander's Take on Diversity



We got off the subway at 125th Street and Broadway, and headed for Madame Alexander's doll factory on 131st, just east of the river.  RAD school had booked a tour there for our kindergarteners - a chance for the kids to see the dolls being designed and built.

Little did I know that I was about to get an education in the genesis of cultural stereotypes.

We started in a room filled with Madame Alexander dolls from many of the lines the company has been producing for almost a hundred years.  There, our guide educated us on the different faces of the dolls, how they were made originally, how Madame had been the first to make plastic dolls.  We then got to see the various iterations of the company's attempts at Cultural Diversity in Dollmaking.

Uhmmm...yeah...not a huge success story in racial sensitivity.

There was the black Madame Alexander doll - in full tribal/clan regalia.

There was the Latina one - in a dress Eva Longoria wouldn't be caught dead in, and boobs that looked like mine when I was nine months pregnant.  That's her in the upper right picture.

Then there was 70s Strut Cissy (pictured left) - in boots that were made for walking.  And propped on a block with her legs open.  Did I mention she was black?

Oh - can't forget the other "medium toned" one, Mexican, in a Mayan outfit.  Because we all know that's how most Mexicans dress nowadays.

I had to laugh...

and take pictures...

and promise to myself that the day's observations would go on the blog.

Because you CANNOT make this shit up, people.

3.24.2009

Mean Mommy

So tonight didn't go exactly the way I was hoping it would.

Like my mother before me, I have these fantasies about coming home from work to find my children so overwhelmed with love and longing for me after being away from my arms all day that they behave like perfect little non-turds.

In a rather unfortunate confluence of timing, lack of wine, mofos honking their motherfreakin' horns outside the boys' room, and increasingly vocal crabbiness, bedtime turned into the latest edition of Mommy's Losing It.  In my defense, my spawn happened to be particularly keyed up today - I don't think the MamaeHeTookMyBallMamaeHeHitMeMamaeI'mHungryMamaeMamaeMamaeMamaeMamae stopped from the moment I walked in the door until said spawn had fallen asleep, thus rendering voluntary speech impossible.  

Trying to stay rational, balanced, patient, productive and constructive while the kidlets overuse and abuse their oxygen and my goodwill, and fight over one of, like, 379 Hot Wheels cars, is like trying to finish the IronMan Triathlon naked and barefoot while being chased by screaming ferrets.

Impossible.

So out went the sweet and soothing voice, and kerplooey went the loving arms.  Up came the near-curse-words, the pursed lips, the grinding teeth, and yes, MeanMeanMommy.  The monster who threatens unlikely things such as banning television; who promises to hurl fought-over-toys out the fourth-floor-of-the-brownstone-window; who puts the spawn to bed in such a huff they are left sniffing and snorking the runny noses that result from whimpering while Mamae freaks out.

It's like an outtake from "Leave it to Beaver," only the version where June Cleaver is played by Joan Crawford.

And so I head back to the drawing board of motherhood and hope to find a way to assuage the guilt and stop beating myself up.  To find a way to make it up to them.  Like being even more patient, and more sensitive, and having more compassion and understanding.

I'll probably just buy more Hot Wheels and let them watch more SpongeBob.

3.21.2009

Phat summer digs...

So for the third summer in a row, I'm spending any extra cash I have on a summer vacation house rental in the Catskills.  My friend Anna, a gifted artist who works in the IT field, rents me her house in Swan Lake, near Jeffersonville, New York.  It's the best use of my money I've yet found, besides Trader Joe's.

You can see pics of the house here.  

Trust me, though, the Web site does not come close to doing the house justice.

The enclosed pool alone is enough to get me back every year.  But throw in the fabu deck with grill, the not-to-be-ignored views, and the quick hops to Jeffersonville and Callicoon, and I'm pretty much addicted.  And did I mention the FREE morning summer camp at the Callicoon Community Center during the summer months?  Yeah, raptor workshops, arts and crafts, and a huge playground.  Ridiculous fun.

My boys love being up there (the photo at left is of us in the hammock just outside the front door of the house); if ever they can be described as frolicking, it is up there, where they run around the copious acres on which the house sits, looking for animals, rocks, sticks, and bugs.

The whole thing is so good for my soul.  Not to mention giving me a minute to miss Brooklyn.

I'm thinking about expensing the trip to the government as an executive retreat.

3.20.2009

Evening Haikus

Hot wheels everywhere
Didn't I just pick these up?
Groundhog day again

Diaper needs changing
How long can I wait before
it becomes child abuse?

Almost wine o'clock
Funny how it coincides
With bedtime

3.16.2009

Dash tries to escape Diaper Changing Patrol

video

Check-ups are for parents, too

So L went for his six-year check up this afternoon.  All is well with my firstborn, as I expected. He is tall for his age, slightly lean - gets that from his father.  His hearing is perfect, as is his vision. He eats well, has been reading for over a year; basically, everything is hunky-dory.

Then our pediatrician asked how the sleeping is going.

Now, I'm not normally one prone to crying jags in front of medical personnel.  But this time, I did almost burst into tears.  I think the only thing that prevented it was the fact that I had done just that in front of my own doctor not four days earlier, and so felt that embarrassing myself in front of yet another physician might be overkill.

So I swallowed the lump and told the doctor about how my six-year-old makes it through about half the night in his own bed, then comes skulking into my bedroom and asks to sleep in my bed.  Let's ignore the implications of the fact that there is plenty of room in my king-size bed, because focusing on that sends me to my not-happy place at the moment.

Miraculously, and astoundingly, my pediatrician looked at me and said, "My second slept with me until he was eight."  

Fucking hell.

I think she said it to help me feel like less of a dysfunctional mommy, and to sympathize with my plight.  

But fucking hell.

I might not make it another two years.  Because I'm so tired from being woken up by both kids, that I'm likely to forget to look both ways when I'm crossing the street.  Or something equally as hideous.

We are going to try the sticker reward system again.  And I'm going to stick to my guns this time.

I think.

3.13.2009

My place in the world

You would think, what with the whole underemployed thing, that I would find time to do something other than make fun of those Matchelors and post stories about my turdy, I mean lovely, children.

You'd think wrong.

Mine is not to educate people about saving money.  I'm not very good at it; I can barely say those two words without breaking out into hives or snickering, so I figure I should stay away from the subject.

Neither is my expertise in how best to get my kids to eat properly.  We're lucky to get through the week on just two peanut-butter-sandwich dinners.  Not Ray's Pizza knows us by name.  And my kids don't just make faces at vegetables, there is open mocking when I try to introduce such blasphemy at the supper table.

I'm occasionally good at figuring out fun things for the kids to do besides hurl my fresh laundry over the banister and help me Swiffer Wet the floors.  But I'd rather leave it to the real experts and just follow instructions.

So what is left to me is to chronicle the daily indignities and moments of inspiration in this life I have as a single mother of two delicious, and yes, sometimes turdy boys.

Cause that's what I'm good at.

Well, that, and drinking wine.

And I'm the one having trouble finding a date?

Skinny Bitch writes that her boyfriend is "markedly less physically attractive" than she is, and asks Dear Prudence at Slate.com to suggest ways to broach the subject of adopting, as opposed to having biological children.

Because she thinks they would have ugly babies.

And this is not something Skinny Bitch feels she should, as the markedly more physically attractive one, have to contemplate.

Never mind the fact that she insists she and her boyfriend are in a "healthy and loving" relationship.  

Well, except for the fact that Skinny Bitch CAN'T STAND THE SIGHT OF HER BOYFRIEND'S FACE.

Someone should tell him he's dating Queen Heather from Heathers.  

3.11.2009

reMatch

Cybermacho says he wants to put a bun in my oven.  I told him he would have to take a number and signed my note, "Jessica Simpson."  Then deleted his email.

CorporateThug says he's an easy-going guy who likes romantic dinners with that special girl. Told him I was saving myself for the one who wanted to pitch feces at my face while we ate dinner al fresco on the Upper West Side, and signed my message, "Crazy_in_NYC." He replied that he was that guy. Hit delete and then blocked his emails.

RealCatch4U says he is loyal, intelligent, honest and loves to have fun.  I told him I was already on a waiting list for a Labradoodle, but if that fell through, I would call.

As for ThePurposeAt50?  He wink-stalked me.  For four days.  Then, taking my silence for encouragement, he said he was convinced of our being destined for each other, but that I would have to change the wording on my profile to reflect a more confident outlook or he didn't think things would work.  I reported him to the site as a "concern." Then deleted AND blocked him.

I'm going to go open my second bottle of wine now.

Because sobriety and Match for the second time are not compatible.  At all.

3.09.2009

The Tooth Fairy is feeling the recession's pinch

Well, it only took four days of wiggling, and chewing with his side teeth, but Luca finally has a hole in his face!  

I don't remember being this excited about losing my first tooth - probably another sign I've moved very, depressingly, far away from my childhood years.  Luca at first wanted me to pull the tooth out myself - that went out the door when I told him it would hurt.  So he patiently worried the tooth, masticating awkwardly with his molars, waiting for the tooth to pop out of its little place in his bottom gum.  Mostly because of the whole Tooth-Fairy-exchange-for-money thing.  

Which I fulfilled my duty on.  Barely.  Cause I had to wait until L was sleeping in order to be able to slip a little something under his pillow without being detected.  And so almost fell asleep myself.  Until thoughts of having horribly failed my son on this one freakin' important night jolted me back to consciousness and helped me hold on until I heard snoring.  

I've already fucked him up enough with the everyday, mundane, MeanMommy moments.  I don't need him to bring up the Tooth Fairy forgetting to reward his first lost tooth in therapy twenty years from now.  Plenty of other things to take up his 50 minutes.

Anyways - Luca got his five dollars, which was actually half of what my ex-husband's colleague at work gave her son for his first tooth.  Yeah, but did he also get a Hot Wheels car?  Suck that, highly-paid art director!

I've already made it clear that the Fairy is cutting down on expenses, though, and will not be giving that much for subsequent teeth.  It's a recession, you know.

3.04.2009

Cuticle clippers, Vaseline, and other household dangers

Had dinner without incident.  Got the kids ready for bed without too much of a struggle.  There was the usual I DON'T WANT TO TAKE A BATH!!!  I DON'T WANT TO GET OUT OF THE BATH!!! bipolarity.  

Brushing teeth happened without anyone getting hurt; well, no one bled, anyways.  

Managed to find a book they both agreed on.  

You can see how I might have been lulled into a sense of security in leaving them for five minutes watching Tom & Jerry in my bedroom.  I just really wanted a sip of wine, you understand, and figured, what was the harm in starting on a little glass BEFORE they were asleep?

I'll tell you what the harm is.

A re-programmed cable box.  Wet sheets from the fight over who got to have the water bottle first.  Once-folded clothes now on the floor.  And in the hallway.

And the whipped cream on top:

Cuticle clippers used to dig out Vaseline from its little pot.  And then smeared all over my pillow.  And my bedtime-reading book.  And Luca's pajamas.  Not to mention the little turd's face.  

Please don't ask me what those things were doing on my night table.  I do not share personal details like that.

I told Dash his sado-masochistic moisturizing was done for the evening and pried the offending implements from his criminal little fists.  

And had an extra glass of wine.

3.02.2009

The revolution will be broadcast...

I can actually see Luca's eyes popping out of his head.  Like little glass marbles.  They go nicely with the mad vein in his neck that threatens to pop with every new affront on his little brother's part.

Dash thinks this is a dictatorship.  HIS dictatorship.  His unquestioned and perpetual dictatorship.  Of course, Luca and I have been mostly benevolent serfs under his supreme power, so we really have no one to blame but ourselves for the state of affairs.  It's just that he screams like a freakin' banshee if he doesn't get his way.  And, well, sometimes (all the time) Luca and I have taken the path of least resistance and just waffled to the little tyrant.

No more.

Two years is Enough.

And while I don't plan on getting all krav maga on Dash's ass, Luca and I have been meeting in secret during naptime to plan the coup.  And we've decided stealth is our best hope.  Because Dash is not sophisticated enough to notice reverse psychology.  We think.  And if he is, well, we're in a lot more trouble than having simply to depose the dictator.

We're working on some strategies...including the aforementioned reverse psych, some tough love, and bribing.  Of course, there might be one or seventeen time-outs thrown in.

I'll keep you posted on successful tactics.