August 21st, 2013

Oh, ok. Alright.  So I haven’t written a post in, like, forever.  So sue me.  (Don’t you love people who use defensive language and posturing to cover up overwhelming feelings of guilt and inadequacy?)

I have reasons.  I have excuses.  Most of them valid.  Really.

There was the small matter of a part-time job I started in ’09.  And the not-so-small matter of the voluminous amounts of volunteer work I dove into for Babyzilla’s school.  The volunteer work felt like a full-time job and made my part-time job seem like volunteer work.  Somehow in all of that I managed to do some good and make some money.

What is the picture like in my mad, mad whirl now?  Much the same.  Same kid, same house, same husband. Babyzilla is now eight years old and, for all intents and purposes, has shed his green skin.  He still breathes fire once in a while.  Hubby still wears glasses and still does mysterious things with power tools.  Sadly, The Laziest Dog On the Planet passed away in 2011.  (May he be resting on the fluffiest bed in the sky.)  His successor is a little Dachshund mix who’s almost as lazy but not nearly as smart.  What he lacks in intelligence, he makes up for in waggly-tailed optimism (except for when he gets that huffy, “something smells bad” look on his face).

So, now that Babyzilla is older and not nearly as incendiary, what will I write about in lieu of kvetching about parenthood?  Ok, that was a joke.  THERE’S ALWAYS ROOM FOR KVETCHING ABOUT PARENTHOOD!

I have upped my game in the cooking/baking arena the past few years, so perhaps there will be more posts with cakes and other delectables.  Maybe a few more poems?  And wine recs.  Always the wine recs!  (Nope, the boozing hasn’t changed either, except maybe with even more of a veer toward quality over quantity…. Most of the time, anyway!)

This is cool.  This is ‘Phoenix rising from the ashes’ type stuff.  Viva la Resurrection!

A Typical Conversation Between Mad Mama and Babyzilla

December 16th, 2008

Mad Mama: “Babyzilla, why do you always have to be so contrary?”

Babyzilla: “I’m NOT contrary!!”


I see bread people

October 31st, 2008

I pride myself on having a good memory. Or I should say, I used to pride myself on having a good memory. That was before Mad Mama Dementia set in. Now I need to make lists and lists of lists just to keep from leaving my own head somewhere. Babyzilla, on the other hand, has a memory that’s downright uncanny. It’s always been my understanding that before about the age of about four, kids just don’t have the capacity to recall events from very far back in the past, unless they experienced something particularly traumatic. And Babyzilla certainly doesn’t remember everything, my admonishments to “keep your hands to yourself” being a prime example, but he surprises me quite often with the recollections that come to his mind, seemingly out of nowhere.

About a month ago, we were getting ready to read a bedtime story –’Sasha The Sea Lion’, if my parenting-addled memory serves me correctly. I had just gotten through telling Babyzilla, that, no, I really don’t enjoy having his ratty stuffed dog shoved in my face, despite what he may think to the contrary.

Suddenly he asked me, “Where’s my gingerbread?”

Gingerbread? Whaaa?? Sasha The Sea Lion had a penchant for fish, but there wasn’t any mention of gingerbread. I had no idea where this was coming from, but being a parent who likes to encourage the intelligent and diligent exploration of thoughts and ideas, I eloquently replied, “Huh?”

“My gingerbread man,” Babyzilla said again. “The one with lots of frosting. What happened to it?”

I trolled through the scrapheap of my mind, trying to recall any recent conversations or events that concerned gingerbread men or even gingerbread or just any sort of comestible in human form. Nada.

And then I had a sudden inkling of what he was talking about.

“Do you mean a gingerbread man that you made?” I asked him.

“Yes, at the place with the sand toys and animals,” he responded.

About a year ago, Hubby and I took Babyzilla to a little Halloween fair being put on by a school out in a rural area of our county. It had attracted my interest because the theme for the fair was based on bringing characters from books to life. Most of the activities and entertainment centered on various classic stories, like ‘Alice In Wonderland’, with the participants dressed for and acting the part. Attendees were also encouraged to dress as their favorite story character. I’ve always been an avid reader and love the classics, so I thought this would be a great way to introduce Babyzilla to an essential part of every childhood. I imagined he would be enthralled by the whimsy and wonderment of it all.

Needless to say, he was unimpressed. The costumes and cute games and story themes were decidedly lacking in entertainment value for him. The thing that interested him the most was a sandbox in the back of the school that contained a nice collection of sand toys left out for kids who didn’t have an appropriate appreciation of literature. Babyzilla has sand toys and a sandbox at home, not to mention two parks close by our house that also have sandboxes and at least a few communal sand toys scattered around. You’d think that he’d have had more than his fill of sand toys, that sand toys would be old hat, while a re-creation of the Mad Hatter’s tea party would be, quite literally, new hat. But these sand toys were different. These sand toys sang an irresistible siren’s song because Babyzilla had not played with these specific toys before. When it comes to playthings, the new-to-me factor seems to rank high with the preschool set. Apparently the same can’t be said for a human-sized rabbit with a pocket watch.

So we spent a lot of “quality time” with the plastic shovels and pails and dump trucks and whirly funnel contraptions. The other activity of moderate interest to Babyzilla was a small petting zoo set up in the corner of the playground, across from the exalted sandbox. I paid a couple bucks so he could pet a chicken. Or try to pet a chicken. It seemed like he wanted to pet a chicken, but then another kid picked up the chicken he wanted to pet, and suddenly that chicken was an Untouchable. Babyzilla didn’t want to pet that chicken while the other kid held it. He didn’t want to pet a different chicken. All chickens were now taboo. In short order, poultry was out and a hasty retreat was made back to the sandbox.

I sat there withering in the heat of ‘Indian summer’ (Mother Nature’s evil trick on those of us who prefer the temperature to stay under eighty degrees and look forward to the arrival of Fall), trying to figure out how we could separate Babyzilla from Sand Nirvana and depart without him making a scene. There’s something about being at an event yet not participating in any of the activities whatsoever that I find wholly unappealing, especially when I have to sit in a puddle of my own sweat. If Babyzilla wanted to play in the sand, I could sit in my sweat in our backyard or the park near home.

Then Hubby decided we should take a shot at an activity that involved one of the only things more interesting than scrabbling around in the dirt with plastic toys: FOOD. Decorating a gingerbread man to be exact. The cookies were already made, so all the kids had to do was glob on the frosting, sprinkles, candy corn, etc. The obvious draw here is not artistic expression through high fructose corn syrup, but consumption during creation. Have to make sure those miniature marshmallows are of the highest quality before one is employed as a nose. Needless to say, this was the one “real” activity that Babyzilla enjoyed.

Shortly after Mr. Bread was all dressed up, we were able to leave. He was wearing at least a half cup of frosting, which immediately started to liquefy in the afternoon heat. Even the air conditioning of the car couldn’t save him –the final throes of departure and the walk through the parking lot did him in. I had his burial planned before we hit the main road. Surprisingly, my son seemed to forget about his sticky friend rather quickly (or so I thought), and Mr. Bread now has his final resting place in a landfill somewhere.

Whatever made Babyzilla think of this, how he ever remembered it at all –something that happened ALMOST A YEAR AGO –is beyond me. Nothing we were talking about at the time of his recollection had anything to do with gingerbread men, quaint school fairs, or anything of the like. It was September and Halloween wasn’t even on the radar at that point. And his relationship with Mr. Bread had been sweet but very short –nothing, in my mind, that would make a lasting impression, particularly because my son was essentially still a two-year-old back then. He didn’t even ask about the dearly departed after his hasty disappearance. But Babyzilla has done this on a number of occasions: Recalling things that I would never have imagined him remembering. Or even stranger, expressing knowledge of something about which there was seemingly no way he could know.

Really, the kid’s a little spooky sometimes.

Damage Done

September 20th, 2008

My husband gave me a kick-scooter for my last birthday. No, it wasn’t a subtle hint that I should get more exercise….. uh, maybe…… but really, it was so I could keep up with Babyzilla, who’s a mad, mad scootin’ maven. He goes so fast on his little Razor, it literally scares me. There’s no way I could just walk after him and yell, “Slow down!” the way I see other moms doing it. Nope –I scoot after him as fast as my aging mommy-bod can go and yell, “Slow down!!”

I’m pretty sure I’m the only scootin’ mom in the neighborhood, quite possibly the whole county. Of course I absolutely require that Scooter Knievel wear a helmet, but I give myself a bye.

Recently Babyzilla asked me, “Mommy, why do I have to wear a helmet but you don’t?”

Why?  Because Mommy’s a mommy, which means she’s already brain-dead. A sidewalk thump on the noggin ain’t gonna make any difference at this point.

Now, go make Mommy a cosmo, kid, and stop thinking so much. You’re going to hurt yourself.

Kids say the darndest things

September 11th, 2008

While I was driving him home from school yesterday, Babyzilla took it upon himself to inform me, quite emphatically, of the following:

“You have options, see? You can make a choice between birthdays and having a birthday party or just getting some old trucks. Then you won’t be bad for speeding.”

Well okay then.

Maybe this was a roundabout criticism of my driving.

I guess it’s true what they say about insanity running in families….

Nyaa nyaa nya nyaa nyaaaa!

July 17th, 2008

So, today when I dropped Babyzilla off at school, one of his charming classmates took it upon himself to yell at gently inform me, “[Babyzilla] was pushing Bobby today!!”

That’s great, kid. Now go play in traffic or something.

But seriously, I get it. Babyzilla, who’s one step away from juvy, pushed Bobby. I already knew about it. Obviously it didn’t happen “today” because today hadn’t even started yet. That’s one aspect I really hate about all of this –-the ‘tattle-tale’ kids and a lack of concept of time at this age. One incident turns into something that happened yesterday, today, tomorrow…. and is reported with great enthusiasm as often as a need for dramatic announcements dictates.

I’ve even been tripped up by Babyzilla himself, saying he hit someone as if it just happened, when he’s actually referring to something that occurred days, if not weeks, ago. A little more prying reveals that, for whatever reason, he’s just regurgitating a previous incident already known to me. (He’s undoubtedly trying to give me a heart attack so he can claim his inheritance before kindergarten.) This is probably why I’m convinced he’s nailing someone every five minutes, while his teachers seem relatively unconcerned.

Lord knows what the other kids are saying to their parents, though. The mom of this particular child seemed decidedly uninterested in his proclamation, but who knows? She could have whispered to him covertly, “Just avoid Devil Child for now and we’ll have you transferred to another class as soon as possible,” or, “We’ll commence with the witch hunt when the new school year starts in the Fall.”

Yes, I’m feeling defensive toward a preschooler. Perspective has never been one of my strong suits.

In Defense Of The Child

July 16th, 2008

I suppose it’s a major occupational hazard of blogging that the writer posts something negative about a loved one and then second-guesses doing it. After all, the blogger cares deeply about the person in question and doesn’t want to make him/her look bad… at least not often. I find myself grappling with this right now, as only someone so psychotically and obnoxiously full of self-doubt as myself can.

Oh, I’m not talking about any posts concerning Hubby. He’s already been informed that my blog will be featuring his most doltish qualities, in a loving, respectful way, of course. (Yeah, right.) I mean to say that when posting about Babyzilla, I don’t intend to convey that he’s Demon Child From Hell or that I don’t love him as ridiculously as I do. I just want to be honest about what it’s like raising a child like him. If I can be a voice that parents of spirited kids can relate to and parents of non-spirited kids can understand, then I suppose I’ll have accomplished something positive with this blog.

One thing about Babyzilla that I feel I should clarify is that when he hits, he’s not balling up his little fist and smashing kids full-force in the face. It’s an open-handed slap on the arm or torso, sometimes a shove, and usually delivered with moderate force. I’m not saying that this makes it okay in any way, shape, or form. I just want to dispel any idea that he’s bloodying noses and blackening eyes like a mini Mike Tyson.

Another thing I want to make clear is that Babyzilla is not a violent, angry, or malicious kid. Far from it. If anything, he is rather shy and gets overwhelmed by the presence of others. A lot of the “aggressive” behaviors seem to stem from an innate need to protect his personal ‘space’. As an infant, he was over-stimulated very easily and often didn’t even want to be held. He was at least six months old before he would rest his head on my shoulder. (A moment that made my weary heart soar when it finally happened!) He also gets over-excited fairly easily and can have a hard time controlling his body when that occurs. Obviously, this is all stuff we are working on and have been for a long time.

My husband sometimes thinks I’m making a bigger deal out of the hitting than it warrants. Maybe sometimes I am, but he doesn’t have to hear the reports from school or suffer the evil stares from other parents. In all honesty, most parents are very understanding and realize this is just a phase some kids go through. But it’s those few, the ones that have ‘You’re a horrible mom and your kid is a serial killer in the making’ written all over their faces who make you feel gutted. They don’t know how fortunate they are to have been blessed with a child that they can smugly pat themselves on the back about, thinking what great parents they are. Inborn temperament is the key, and it’s all a big crapshoot. You got lucky, Smugparent.

Yesterday, Babyzilla’s teacher told me that he got in a bit of a playground scuffle over not wanting to share something with another child. It ended with him pushing the kid and then being sent to the classroom to chill out. She said he didn’t push hard; the other child definitely wasn’t hurt. She observed that Babyzilla was making an effort to control himself, and, most importantly, assured me that this behavior is “totally normal” for his age. Apparently, he’s not hitting or pushing constantly or terribly roughly. I think I always assume it’s happening more and is more dire than is usually the case. You know how when you have a chip on your tooth or a canker sore in your mouth and you put your tongue on it, it feels GINORMOUS? But then you check in the mirror and see that it’s actually quite small? It seems like my brain is to parenting problems as a tongue is to a canker sore.

Did I just compare my kid to a canker sore?

I luvs ya, Babyzilla…. fists of fury and all.

Hey, he ain’t gonna be drinking it!

July 2nd, 2008

At what age is it ok to teach your kid how to make cocktails?

Mad Me (to Babyzilla): Could you make Mommy a cocktail, sweetie?

Babyzilla: A cocktail?

Mad Me: Yes, a cocktail.

Babyzilla: Is it cold?

Mad Me: Heck yeah, I want it cold!

Babyzilla: What kind, Mommy?

Mad Me: How about a Cosmo?

Babyzilla: A Cosmo?

Mad Me: Yes, sweetie.

Babyzilla: Ok, Mommy.

Bless this child.

School Daze

July 1st, 2008

Well, my son’s first day of school went… ok. Apparently, he cried for a while but eventually settled down and was able to enjoy at least some of it. That sounds like pretty good news, but I can tell he’s rather agitated by all of this. He was very hyper when he got home yesterday, and last night, he woke up about an hour after going to bed, asked if it was a school day, and then asked why he had to go to a new school. Ouch. This morning he asked again if it was a school day, and when I said yes, he got pretty upset.

We did go through this when he was attending his old school, but eventually he really started to thrive and have fun there. His last few months were particularly good, so it’s unfortunate that he had to leave. Poor little guy –-I really feel for him. It broke my heart to drop him off this morning. He held it together in the car, although he was close to tears, and by the time we got to his classroom, that was it. Crying, begging me to stay. Of course I had to remain upbeat, but I got teary as I walked to the car.

Now I’m questioning everything. None of his friends from his last school moved on to this school. The majority of them are attending a different school, a school my son was accepted to but which I ultimately declined because his current school was our first choice. I had my reasons, of course, but now I’m second-guessing myself. He would’ve been with his friends at the other school. He would’ve had the option to attend fewer days, as opposed to the five days that the current school requires. Five days may be just too much for him.

And I’ve read (on the Internet, of course!) that if kids cry when they go to pre-school, then they’re just not ready for it. Yet he had been doing so well at his old school. Yes, it was rough at times, but he also benefited from it immensely. Would isolating him at home really be better? I never could’ve taught him all the social skills and independence he learned there, nor would he have experienced all the pride in his accomplishments or met the wonderful kids who became his buddies and gave him a sense of belonging. The pre-school nay-sayers insist that a child can gain all this just by being around their parents, but I feel I have to beg to differ. Like our pediatrician told me when my son was a baby, with a kid like this, it takes a village.

Either way, I feel extremely conflicted now. Should I have sent my son to the other school with his friends? Should he be in school at all? Am I putting him off of school for life by pushing him into it too early? Why does all of this have to be so damn hard??


June 30th, 2008

Nail-biting time. It’s my son’s first day at his new school. For the past year, he had been attending a nice little pre-school with a wonderful, talented teacher, but the age range only went up to 3 1/2. He turned 3 1/2 a couple of weeks ago, so that necessitated a change. Obviously, he’s not new to going to school, but he’s shy and rather sensitive, so changes, new people, new places can be very difficult for him. Unfortunately, when he gets nervous or uncomfortable, he acts out by being obstinate or, worse, by hitting.

Yep, I had a ‘hitter’. It started about a year ago and peaked when he began attending his last school. Everyone who observed him agreed that he wasn’t being purposely aggressive or malicious –-a lot of it was based on social anxiety and just needing a certain amount of personal space. Sometimes it appeared to be a maladjusted attempt to interact with other kids. We all worked hard with him, even enlisting the help of his teacher’s college-aged daughter as an extra assistant at school for a short period of time. Any hitting at home earned an immediate timeout. If we were somewhere else, like the park, we would leave immediately.

Everything I read and everyone I consulted advised that consequences had to be immediate. Stopping the infraction before it happened was even better. So I basically shadowed my son in any situation that merited it. Believe me, this was exhausting. No kicking back at the park, chatting with the other moms. No playdates or parties where he wasn’t directly supervised at all times.

How I envied all those parents who barely had to watch their kids! Not to mention that it was mortifying when my son walloped another child. Most parents were, thankfully, understanding, but not all of them. Usually it was the parents who had more than one child or had a ‘hitter’ themselves who took it in stride. But the parents who had one sweet angel, they were the ones that shot daggers at me with their eyes and assumed I was The Worst Mom In The World. We stopped going to Gymboree. I stopped leaving him at the gym daycare. Parties were a trial. Playdates were a dicey prospect. I felt like The Worst Mom In The World.

As frustrated as I would get with my son, I still felt very protective of him. Yes, he can be difficult, but he’s also a sweet, loving, exuberant child. And I can see how much he wants to fit in and how much he wants the other kids to play with him. The hitting is like an impulse that simply overtakes him when he gets overwhelmed. As a mom, it’s my job to help him gain control over that impulse and let all his wonderful qualities shine through. For all you parents out there that think my son wouldn’t have been behaving this way if I were a better parent, please don’t make assumptions until you’ve walked a mile in my shoes. When a mom could obviously use a little support, judgments are isolating and hurtful.

Slowly, my son’s behavior improved, but it was hard for me to gain trust in him. Unfortunately, it seems to take a long time to break bad habits in spirited kids. And the process was cyclical –he would improve and then regress again. A year later, the hitting is nothing like it was, although my son will still lash out when he’s frustrated or anxious. Big changes can cause regression, so as I sit here and write, I can only hope that he has learned how to cope better, that somehow my guidance has helped, and that he is doing ok on his first day at his new school. Mommy’s thinking of you, swee’pea.