I Miss Potty Training

When Ironflower became a toddler, I remember being constantly shocked at who my docile, sweet baby could become in the blink of an eye. It didn't take me long to realize that the only reason she had seemed so docile before was because she couldn't talk yet.

We've been arguing ever since she learned the word, "NO!"

But for the first time, we are having what could be called an ongoing argument. Every other disagreement we've had has been relatively short-lived. In fact, most of the time, once I've explained my reasoning, Ironflower has cheerfully accepted a loss.

But now I've had the audacity to sign her up for the local rec camp.

Not only that, but I've signed her up for the musical theater portion of it - that she's wanted to do for 3 years, but couldn't because of dance competitions.

Except, now, naturally, she doesn't want to do the theater portion. Or go to camp. She doesn't like the musical that's been chosen and swears her dear friend had a terrible time participating the summer before last. She doesn't like anyone else going to the camp (except for her dear friend. and this other girl who'll only be there for 1 session). She would prefer another camp (that's way out of our budget) or to stay home alone when I go to work (er. . . .not at 12, not for that many hours). The list of reasons she doesn't want to go is long and continually evolving.

For example, when I pointed out that if she wants to be able to work at this camp in 2 years ( ! ), she should attend first, she changed her mind about wanting to work there.

It has become clear my reasoning skills are not going to be effective in this battle.

I can still force her to go, obviously. Even if she keeps saying, "You said you'd never force us to do any activities we didn't want to." I never should have let her quit clarinet and dive team. And Irish dance. And swim team. And soccer.

I think we'd reach detente if I let her quit the theater portion, but I honestly think she'll learn a lot. And if she claims to like theater (which she does) and wants to do the spring musical (which she also does) then she needs to get over the fact that Madagascar the Musical is not cool. I don't know anyone who calls themselves a theater nerd who hasn't been in an uncool show (or two). I mean, she's said that she misses dancing competitively, but that she'd miss doing plays more if she went back to the company. So if theater is going to be her big hobby, why should I let her quit the summer musical?

 I truly think she would have fun. I truly think she could learn a lot. But if I force her and she goes in with a shitty attitude, that probably won't be good for anyone involved.

Can we go back to potty training? I was much better at potty training.


That Time My Kid Missed A Month Of School

Welcome back to those of you who probably didn't enthusiastically didn't vote for Trump. Also, I started this post a while back, but didn't finish it thanks to my much needed Trump rant. Anyway. . .

As I type, Ironflower is lolling on the couch on a Wednesday afternoon.


According to the letter I got about my older children's poor attendance records (which I got after Lovebug reached his 7th absence due to a 4 day fever/upper respiratory infection week before last), this marks Ironflower's 21st absence this year.

She'd be on her 22nd, but I made her go to school Monday (despite feeling very crappy, which made sense because by that afternoon she was vomiting and had a fever) and then get sent to the nurse just to prove that I'm not just letting her play truant because I'm too lazy to make her go to school.

I think she's had 5 stomach viri* this school year, including one which then turned into an upper respiratory infection which then turned into pneumonia that required 2 rounds of antibiotics. Which explains why she's missed the equivalent of a month of school, but not what the hell happened to her immune system. She's 12, not 2.

Though, to be perfectly honest, if puberty continues just like this - many illnesses, fierce independence and an unfailingly sarcastic wit, I will consider myself blessed. (I'm not sure the ever vomiting Ironflower would agree).

The most worrisome part of this whole missed a month of school thing is that she's only screwed up one test because of it.

Oh, and that it's quite possible the truancy officer is going to visit us. Or something. I don't quite know how it works in the 'burbs.

I think this must be karma. I remember judging parents whose kids missed a lot of school back in my teaching days, wondering why they didn't see the importance of daily attendance. Of course, if Ironflower is any indication, daily attendance isn't as important as I thought.

I'm just kidding, people ready to alert the middle school administration about my laissez-faire attitude.

*Or viruses, if you didn't sit through 3 years of Latin in junior high.


I Cannot

I keep trying to write about other things, but I cannot. It's not so much what Trump and his buddies in Congress are trying to do to this country; I expected that. It's the people defending the same things they (and Trump) relentlessly criticized Obama and Clinton for doing. 

I fucking hate hypocrisy. 

During the election, a multitude of Trump fans told me that they were mad that Clinton had accepted money from Saudi Arabia (for her foundation), facilitated a weapons deal with Saudi Arabia and sold uranium to Russia.

Trump actually gets paid directly by Saudi Arabia, in addition to registering 8 companies in that nation during the campaign.

Trump has just negotiated the largest arms deal with Saudi Arabia EVER. Now, we've been selling weapons to Saudi Arabia since the 80's, because. . .reasons.  I totally get why one might be against this, but you know, you should be against this NO MATTER WHO WHO IS BROKERING THE DEAL.

Trump gave Russia classified information and has had various aides and associates who have been paid by Russia because we're such great friends with Russia. Except, you know, when the Obama administration sells them things.

During the election, I heard Trump and his fans criticize Obama and Clinton for not saying, "radical Islamic terrorism", as if calling it that would someone protect the US from terrorists. But it's okay for Trump to refrain from using it.  And while I think it was wise of Trump not to use it, I also think it was wise for Obama  to avoid it as well. See how that works? It's called consistency.

And how do you justify praising Melania and Ivanka for not covering their hair in Saudi Arabia but criticize Michelle Obama for the same thing? What's the difference? Do explain in the comments.

While I do post political articles on Facebook pretty regularly, I try to avoid arguing with people over what they post. But it eats at me, especially if what they post is hypocritical or filled with lies.

I see people complaining that methadone is free (which isn't always true), so why isn't chemo free? Gee, I don't know, maybe it's because we have a for profit healthcare system in this country? Which is part of the reason we need so many goddamn methadone clinics in the first place.

I see people whine about liberal snowflakes while they applaud a man who honestly thinks he's more persecuted than JFK Jr. and Nelson Mandela.

I see people whose children require special education services at school - that my taxes pay for, even though my kids don't require those services - bitch and bitch and bitch about having to pay for poor people's health care. Why is your dyslexic kid's right to read more important than a poor kid's right to live? Is it because you "pay taxes" ? Are you really so ignorant that you think poor people don't pay any taxes? 

Trump defenders,  I want you to seriously consider what you would do if Barack Obama had fired James Comey while he was investigating Clinton. I want you to consider how you would feel if  they were investigating the Clinton or Sanders or (2020) Booker campaigns for colluding with Russia. Would you just see the media as out to get someone? Or would you think the Washington Post and the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal might be onto something?

I've had many dear friends over the years with whom I've disagreed politically. I can agree to disagree on many issues, or happily debate without getting offended. But I will not, I cannot, handle someone who screamed about Obama's golf games now defending Trump's many more golf games. "Well, Trump takes calls during games, you know." As if Obama didn't. "Well, Trump's got to check on his businesses, you know." No, he's not supposed to be involved with his businesses at all and he's basically violating the emoluments clause regularly. I cannot get along with someone whose casual racism/misogyny/xenophobia/personality/Fox News addiction/ allows them to believe that whatever Trump does is okay, even if they spent the last 8 years complaining about Obama doing the same things.


Let's Talk About Screens, Baby*

*With apologies to Salt-n-Pepa

Ever since I miserably failed at not letting my tiny people watch TV (Ironflower was 7 months old and teething, The Wiggles were the only thing that stopped her from howling. It's been downhill from there), I have at least tried to limit their screen time.

Unless they were sick. As there is nothing better to me when I am ill than a Law & Order: SVU marathon, I've always let them watch too much TV when they are sick.

But TV is not, and has never really been, the problem.

I originally started this post almost 2 years ago, when I was still blogging regularly (and I could still think of my children as tiny. Ironflower now has at least an inch on me and Lovebug is almost as tall as I am.) At the time, I had just discovered that the children were sneaking their Kindles into their rooms when they woke up in the middle of the night.

The consequences of that little rebellion were painful for all of us.

But of course screens eventually came back, if for no other reason** than Ironflower and Lovebug have laptops for school now. The new system involves severe guilt tripping and punishment for anyone who uses screens when they're not supposed to. There's also a list of requirements before you
can even ask for screens, which boils down to:  
Sometimes I feel like most of the parenting I do involves whether the screen list has been followed, because it's very rare that any of them just decide to ignore the list and play. Ironflower will sometimes, to read or draw, but even that it is becoming more rare. And Lovebug and Hugmonkey can play (unlike some children I've met), but they don't as much as I'd like. 

So I'm looking for suggestions that have actually worked in real life, not Parenting magazine life. Got any? 

**I'm lying. Their father didn't want to give up video games and I didn't want to give up TV or social media, either. Plus, it's the 21st century and we are not Amish. 


Bigger Kids, Bigger Problems

Ironflower and Lovebug's preschool teacher used to say that to me, as I dragged a screaming toddler (or two or three) off the playground. In those moments, I had no concept of what she was saying, so focused was I on just getting all the kids strapped into the car.

It popped into my head when I was at yet another pediatrician appointment with Ironflower and there was a screaming baby. The poor baby was very new and had clearly just gotten a vaccination. The screaming stopped so abruptedly that Ironflower was confused. "Pacifier," I said, "or maybe the mom is nursing for comfort." Ironflower nodded sagely before gripping my hand during yet another coughing fit. Poor kid got pneumonia in December and has been dealing with repeated colds ever since; they have now diagnosed her with asthma.

Which cannot be fixed with a pacifier.

Or a piece of chocolate.

Or even a nap.

Most of the time, I really love where my kids are now. I love the conversations we have, the jokes they make and the fact that I never have to strap them into car seats. I love watching them develop responsibility, especially when it means I don't have to get up early Saturday mornings to fix them breakfast.

But there's something to be said for being able to fix your kid's problems with a small piece of silicone*. Or by getting up early to make breakfast.

When a classmate doesn't want to be your kid's friend, or when your kid is struggling to learn how to read, fixing gets a lot more complicated.

Of course, later you don't even get to fix the problem. If you're lucky you might get an assist, or at least hear about it after the fact. Ironflower sobbed about math the other day; apparently she panics during tests and then she makes stupid mistakes and now she believes she will not get into advanced math in seventh grade.**

I barely have an assist here. Sure, I gave her some ideas on calming down during tests. But I have no control over whether she'll use them or whether she's placed in advanced math.*** AND THAT TOTALLY SUCKS BALLS.

THIS is why I miss my kids being little and this is what I want to yell to every frazzled mom of toddlers, past me included.

*I just had to Google what pacifiers are made out of , I'm so far out of the baby stage. 

** I was kicked out of advanced math after seventh grade for screwing up the mid-term, despite the fact that I got an A on the final. Not that I'm bitter, but I did point out to Ironflower that this was way more humiliating than not getting in at all. Oh, and I think I also mentioned that not getting into advanced math did not mean she wouldn't get into college. 

***I happen to think her math teacher is delightfully competent, so there's no way in hell I'd even try to over-ride her recommendation. 


Better Than The Atticus Finch*, I Suppose

So recently I saw someone who called herself "The Willy Loman of Blogging". This was on a mostly anonymous forum that I visit when I'm not reading a good book, so I can't really give her (and I don't even know for sure that it was a her) proper credit, but I want to be clear that I did not think of it myself.

For which I am very, very sad.

My perception of Willy Loman - from a cursory experience in high school - was that he was a man out of his time, careerwise. And thus he felt like a failure. (The descriptions I just read on the interwebs are a little more nuanced and detailed, but I still stand behind my 16 year old interpretation.) 

I have felt like the Willy Loman of blogging for years now.

Back in the dark ages when I started blogging (also known as 2005), people blogged for many reasons, but none of them included making a full time income. I blogged, as did many of the people I read then, as writing practice.

When I started mommy blogging in 2007, perks existed, but it wasn't an industry. Having 2 kids in 15 months, quitting teaching and needing a way to write again, mommy blogging saved my life. All my friends were still working, the moms I met at the park seemed totally unfriendly (I have no idea if they were, I was so tired, frazzled and hormonal that I thought everyone seemed unfriendly). Back then, most people's blog posts were about embarrassing or triumphant moments of parenting, not the latest movie/gadget/toy/food/whatnot that the blogger was being asked to review positively.**

I tried to keep up. Sort of. But I didn't want a full time job and I was already cranking out crappy articles for extra cash. And, you know, there were 3 kids to raise.

When the kids got a little bigger, I tried to throw myself back into the changing landscape. It was not a good fit for me. Plus, I felt uncomfortable telling stories about my kids when they started being able to tell their own stories about themselves.

Blogging got even more uncomfortable after I realized many people I knew locally were reading. It's hard to write about a distressing/disturbing/odd/funny experience with another parent when everyone wants to know who that parent is.

(BTW, if you're reading this, it was never you. I promise.)

The truth is, though, is that I miss blogging terribly. I miss how free I felt in the olden days, snarking and whining and ranting in my own little corner of the internet. I miss the people I used to read and I miss the people who used to read here (although I think I'm still friends with most of them on Facebook). Like Willy Loman, I miss how things used to be.

Fortunately, my life isn't being written by Eugene O'Neill (or Harper Lee). I can accept that the blogging world has changed. I can accept that I can't change it back. I can accept that continuing to blog like it's 2007 means I'll be toiling in unpaid obscurity forever.***

Hell, I even have permission from my kids to write about their lives, as long as I don't use their actual names. I did point out that since I use my actual name it won't be hard for people to figure out who they are, but apparently our small town has already convinced them that everyone always knows their business anyway. They just don't want to be search-able by their future college friends and employers, it seems.

Anyway, this is my long-winded way of saying that I'm back. I'll be blogging like it's 2007, which means that:

  • There will be swearing.
  • There won't be very many pictures because I'm too lazy to watermark shit. ****
  • It's not all going to be about parenting, as I've recently developed several new TV obsessions.
  • There won't be any useful advice unless it's in the "What Not To Do" category. 
  • I will keep using footnotes, because I love them. 
  • I started tutoring part-time and I do a lot of volunteer crap at my kids' schools and I'm launching a real website at some point soon so I have no idea how often I'll be posting here. 

*Atticus seemed so cool until I read the reviews of Go Set A Watchmen. I won't even read the book, because as much as love Harper Lee, I don't want to think about my beloved Atticus being in the Klan. Nor do I want to create a Klan type outfit of old time mom bloggers to bring things back to the way things used to be in the blogging world. 

**Look, if companies wanted honest reviews, they'd pay a premium to all of those prolific Amazon reviewers and reuse their comments. They wouldn't need to pay bloggers and/or give them free stuff. I'm also not saying that any bloggers, including myself, try to trick readers when they post about the latest movie or product. But only mentioning the positive stuff is definitely an omission many of us make. As my mom always said, "Lying by omission is still lying." 

***As far as this blog goes, anyway. But most people don't actually make money from their hobbies, so I'm not going to feel bad about it anymore. 

****I warned you about the swearing. 


In Which I Still Do Not Quite Meet Paul Rudd

I have had a crush on Paul Rudd for twenty years now (ever since Clueless). It intensified when I moved to Kansas City; he's from there and is apparently very cool and down to earth when he goes back home to visit. He usually goes to a bar where my friend works and the whole staff loves him. I probably could have met him there, except that whenever he went back to KC I was back in NJ visiting my family.

On Thursday, I got slightly closer to him when he hosted a screening of Ant-Man that we got to go to in NYC. He totally lived up to my crush expectations (ie he's just handsome in person and he was funny and charming).

Sadly, the intro was brief and the movie started soon after.

My boys are way more into superheros and comics than I am, but thanks to my aforementioned crush, I'd say we were all equally excited to see the movie.

Lovebug, at 9, was riveted during the entire movie. He didn't even finish his popcorn, which I don't think has ever happened before. The (imaginary) science and the action scenes were perfect for Lovebug. Plus, there were a lot of jokes - even within the action scenes. The action scenes and the humor within them got 6 year old Hugmonkey to pay attention. He's usually not very into movies - he lost interest during the final fight scenes of  The Karate Kid recently - but he was pretty good during Ant-Man. I found the movie family-friendly, as far as plot, language and violence level go. A lot of times, especially with live action family friendly movies, I find that I get bored. I didn't with Ant-Man and neither did Hot Guy.

My only issue (well, besides the fact that there could have been a few more shirtless Paul Rudd scenes) with the movie was that the only people of color in the movie (excluding a cameo by Falcon) were criminals. They were funny and basically harmless criminals, but criminals nonetheless. Which I wouldn't necessarily have a problem with, if there'd been even one other named character of color who wasn't a criminal. Even on Orange Is the New Black there are portrayals of people of color who AREN'T criminals. But this is a greater Hollywood problem, and while I wish Ant-Man had broken the mold, I'm not going to dismiss the movie because of it.

Our whole family loved the sense of humor in the movie and the way it linked to other movies in the Marvel franchise. I freely admit that I didn't get a lot of the references, but Hot Guy and the boys did and they were very excited about them. The action sequences and special effects were incredible. Paul Rudd was awesome (that's a totally unbiased assessment, by the way). We had an excellent time and I think you will too.


Going To England

Writing this post makes me sympathetic to that guy who didn't call me after we went on a couple of fabulous dates, then was hurt I wasn't friendly when I ran into him.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I'm sorry I haven't called  written in way too long.

I was busy. And confused about what direction I wanted to take the blog. But I never stopped thinking about you blogging. I have a dozen unfinished posts in my drafts poster as proof. I even have a handwritten draft that I wrote for Hot Guy's 40th birthday. In April.

Thinking that with some minor tweaking I can have it ready for our anniversary next week. 

Because even though not-blogging made my life a little less hectic and made me a little less stressed out, I've been unhappy without it.

Note to people who don't know who this is: This is Lloyd Dobler from 
the movie "Say Anything". Which is a classic you should
see right away. In this scene, he is trying to get his girl back.

In all the times I imagined living out the boom box scene of "Say Anything", I never thought I would be Lloyd. And yet, here I am, trying to regain the attention of my blogging muse and my readers. Though I also sort of feel like Diane, trapped crying in my bedroom while blogging stands out in my yard and let's me know it hasn't gone anywhere.

I think not-blogging has not been good for my mental health, because I have spent the last 10 minutes trying to identify whether I feel more like Lloyd or Diane. Obviously it doesn't matter, because they both wind up (spoiler alert) going to England together in the end.

Which means I too need to go to England, if going to England means blogging again. Which it does.