Finally - finally - my redesign of this site is done. Actually, it's not so much a redesign as a migration from one content management system to another. The look of the site still needs a lot of work. It took a long time because I worked on it in between feedings, wranglings, puttings-back-to-bed, playing, drawing, Lego, cooking, sleeping, and all the other activities I generally do every day. That means I got an average of five minutes done each evening. Please let me know if something is broken or ugly. I will try to fix or beautify it.
Now for an important question. How do you corral a crazy crawling/cruising baby? (By the way, even though I live in West Hollywood, when I say my baby is cruising, I mean he is walking while holding onto furniture. He is not trolling the boulevards for pretty boys in tight denim shorts.) My 10-month-old is on the move. By that, I mean he literally almost never stops moving. Oh, and he likes to eat stuff he finds on the ground. Stickers, small pebbles, bits of chalk - this guy has an eclectic palate. When I'm cooking, I keep him contained with a large baby gate/playpen/corral-type thing (sort of like this) that I arrange so it blocks both exits from the kitchen as well as the cats' food and water. Lately, though, he's begun to hate the corral. He screams and pulls on it until it separates from the wall I've so carefully propped it tight against. Then he escapes, slapping his little hands on the wood floor as he crawls to freedom. He also hates the Exersaucer. The Bumbo? Don't even.
Baby carriers! I hear you cry. No dice. He only likes those for walks. In the kitchen, where the farthest I'm going is from stove to fridge and back again, he squirms and complains in the Baby Bjorn or the Ergo. He just wants to be down on the ground, moving, gnawing the corners of books and dabbling in the cats' water bowl. I'm getting good at cooking with one hand while holding him with the other arm. As long as I switch arms regularly, I get a good workout. I also get really, really, really tired.
How do you contain your crawling baby? Suggestions, please. PLEASE.
Is your four-year-old suddenly imitating everything you say, using a high-pitched, mocking voice? Has your seven-year-old begun worrying about her "cankles" all of a sudden? Is there a constant stream (if you'll pardon the expression) of poop talk in your home? If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, it's almost certain your child has met - and been corrupted by - That One Asshole Kid.
We all know one kid we wish our child had never met. If we're lucky, the interaction is mercifully brief - for example, the kids see each other once a month for playgroup, and then they end up going to different preschools. If we're not so lucky, the asshole kid is with us K through 12.
There's at least one asshole kid everywhere: daycare, playgroup, preschool, and regular school. Go to the park and take five minutes to look around. I bet you can spot the asshole: he's decided to play "Run From the Monster," and he's made the shyest, most awkward of his friends be the monster. She's the one who's commandeered the climb-through tube with several of her little cohorts, and is now forbidding anyone else from going in there. If he's a middle-schooler, he's running through the jungle gym like a 70-pound battering ram, knocking kids over left and right. The asshole high-school student will be hanging out by the swings, acting tough and calling her friends things like "little bitch-ass bitch motherfucker ratchet-ass hoe." Her boyfriend will be smoking a blunt by the bleachers. (Seriously, dude? You couldn't wait to get stoned until you weren't right by a kids' playground?)
Asshole Kid will also target you, the parent. He seems to know instinctively that jibes about your personal appearance will hurt the most, and be the hardest for you to respond to - unless you plan on insulting a little kid. The Asshole Kid banks on your being a nice person - or, at least, on your being afraid of repercussions. Asshole Kid, therefore, will tell you if you have a pimple. She'll tell you if your arms look fat in that dress. If you're not aware that you need a dental cleaning, Asshole Kid's got your back; he'll let you know. In a loud, ringing voice. Thanks, Asshole Kid.
Unfortunately, your kid nearly always thinks the sun shines out of this little sociopath's ass. I know I did. Throughout my childhood, I had several friends my mother couldn't stand. There was the hyperactive kindergartner with thick blond pigtails who taught me lots of good swearwords. In high school, there was the bitchy soccer player who would periodically decide she could no longer be my friend because I'd done something wrong, and I ought to know what that thing was without having to ask. I loved these girls, just like I loved that dumbass boyfriend and his psychotic buddy, despite the fact that - or was it because of the fact that? - they were monumental a-holes. My poor mother was beside herself, just like I am when I see some little shithead boy push my son around. The worse kids behave, the cooler he seems to think they are - just like I did with my asshole friends.
Most asshole kids aren't horrible. They're just annoying. They teach your kid inane Black Eyed Peas songs, or get them into that horrendous Winks Club fairy TV show, or have parents who give them wayyy too much dessert, so then your kid cries when you won't let him have it too (or when the other kid beats him up because all that sugar turned him into Punchy McKickington). Some of them, though, are legitimately mean, nasty little individuals. They may be too young to be held fully responsible for their behavior, but they are completely aware of the power they can wield, and they use it for pure evil. Where do kids like that come from? They scare the crap out of me, and I'm a grown woman.
I pray that, as my sons grow up, my inevitable dislike for certain of their friends won't make them want to hang out with them more often, the way it did when my mom declared her distaste for Prissy Princess Elementary School Friend or Passive-Aggressive High School Buddy. I also hope that, like I did, my sons will eventually realize that mean doesn't equal cool, and stop idolizing asshole kids on their own, instead of waiting for different park schedules or school districts to do the dirty work for them. Last. but definitely not least, I hope that I have the clearness of sight to realize if it ever becomes the case that my child is That One Asshole Kid in somebody else's life.
When my husband and I first talked about having kids, I didn't have a clear idea of whether I'd stay home to raise them. After we found out I was pregnant with my oldest son, we talked about how our work situations would change, and I decided I'd quit my job after taking maternity leave; I wasn't excited about where I worked at the time. (I took the job because I thought there would be freaks there. If you know me, and you're familiar with my work history, you'll know that "Will there be freaks?" is a valid question for me when I'm considering accepting new employment.
Today's giveaway is from BookPeople of Moscow, an awesome independent bookstore in Moscow, Idaho. BookPeople's mission is to serve readers and writers of all ages with a handpicked selection of great books, a variety of events, and an inspiring place in which all are welcome.
Two weekends ago, I found myself and my two kids on the campus of the University of California, San Diego. My husband was attending a conference, and, aside from visiting friends in town for a small part of our trip, my kids and I had no agenda. We needed some fun stuff to do, and fast.
My oldest son is almost ready for a booster seat. Well, more accurately, he's been ready for a while (he gets jealous when he sees his friends in boosters): he's just not tall or heavy enough yet. The Car Seat Lady advises that kids who are at least 3-4 years old and at least 40 pounds can safely ride in a booster seat.
I like dessert. I like it so much, in fact, that I have a dessert philosophy. It is this: BALLS OUT. When it comes to dessert, I do not fuck around. I will eat half a bar of that gargantuan Trader Joe's Pound Plus milk chocolate in one sitting. I will eat a pint of ice cream, even when I am not depressed. I will eat a whole bag of Hershey's Hugs and only occasionally get a stomachache.
My younger son just turned six months old. Time for solid food! I thought I remembered the drill from when my oldest started eating solids, but it turned out my memory had gone the way of my waistline. I had a lot of questions: how many days should I spend introducing each new food? Can rice cereal be mixed with water, or should I avoid any water until my son's older? Oddly, it was hard to find all the answers on the Interwebs. I thought I'd be able to find a site that broke it all down for me, but instead the answers I sought were scattered in different places.
When my brothers and I were kids, my parents hung our Christmas stockings at the ends of our beds. I think they found it romantic; visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads and all that. My two oldest brothers were already too cool for stockings, so my youngest-older brother and I were the most psyched about our pre-Proper-Christmas-Present presents. We'd wake up in the morning to find all manner of goodies. Actually, we would wake up in the middle of the night.
He figured it out himself one day. "Mama?" he said, and I glanced up to see that look on his face, the one when he's thinking about something important: if human-sized bugs exist, for example, or how Michael Jackson died. He looked curious and serious and a little bit scared. "What's up?" I asked.
"Is Santa Claus real?"
I took a deep breath.
"What do you think?" I said, after a moment, even though I already knew.