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.

Rot In Hell, Hans

July 10th, 2008

So, Hans Reiser, who, during a six-month trial, vehemently denied having anything to do with the disappearance of his estranged wife Nina, has now led police to her dead body in a purported bid to be convicted of second-degree murder rather than first-degree murder. He has finally admitted that he strangled her to death.

That’s just great. He ostentatiously denied and denied and denied. Was reportedly rude, combative, and manipulative in court. He even suggested that his wife had returned to and was hiding out in her native Russia. But as soon as the shit hit the fan and he was trapped, it was, “Oops! I guess I did do it. Here’s the body. Reduced sentence, please.”

Ok, yes, he’s a murderer, and therefore we can hardly expect him to be honest (although some people do fess up when they know their back is against the wall). But to be such an asshole about it, to get up on the stand and not just lie, but lie in such an egotistical manner, to go on and on for a reported eleven days proclaiming complete innocence…. Does the man have any conscience, any scrap of decency at all?

Again, yes, he’s a murderer. How can I expect him to have a conscience or be decent? But murders can happen when people get whipped up in a frenzy of rage –particularly in a situation as contentious as a nasty divorce –and they do things they don’t mean to do. I’m not saying in any way that this makes it excusable, just saying that you can do things in the heat of the moment that you sincerely regret later. Haven’t we all in some shape or form?

So, maybe I’m expecting too much from old Hans –that he might actually feel some remorse for killing the mother of his children, instead of being an egotistical blowhard. Sure, he didn’t want to go to jail, so he denied the charge, but if you’re going to deny it, enter your plea and then keep your damn mouth shut. Don’t insult everyone with your bullshit grandiose claims of innocence while your murdered wife lies in a shallow grave on a hillside and her family searches for her desperately.

Bite me, Hans.

Bastard.

Everything I know about love, I learned from watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette

July 9th, 2008

1. The hot, rich guy will always go for the ditzy blond, if one is available.

2. It doesn’t matter if you’re a gal who’s so oblivious you’re not capable of recognizing a major national landmark either by sight or name. As long as you are beautiful, twenty-five guys will instantly fall in love with you.

3. The bitchier a woman is, the more guys will be falling all over themselves trying to win her heart.

4. A woman who wastes time watching crap like this probably doesn’t deserve to have a nice husband, even one who does alarming things with power tools.

Shout-Out #1

July 6th, 2008

To the older gentleman at the picnic tables by the Civic Center lagoon on Wednesday: Gassho to you for giving my son and me a ticket to the county fair, which was in full, corndog-scented swing just yards away from us. Muddle-headed Mommy completely spaced on the fact that it was fair time when she decided that Babyzilla would enjoy a picnic lunch by the lagoon after a grueling morning at New School. (“Why can’t I go back to my old school, Mommy?” UGH.) This after making very pointed plans with Hubby to take Babyzilla to the fair not once, but twice over the long weekend, because one day of horse-meat hamburgers, stale candy corn, vertigo-inducing rides, random fried stuff, and a three-year-old so high on sugar that the phrase “chicken roaster” sends him into hysterics, just ain’t enough.  How could I have forgotten?

Luckily, I was able to find parking I didn’t have to pay for. Unluckily, Babyzilla thought this meant we were going to the fair NOW. No matter how much I gleefully tried to explain that today we were only going to look at the fair, and HOW COOL IS THAT??, he didn’t seem to be buying it. As we sat and ate our hummus and cheese and crackers and grapes, I wondered how I was going to drag 40-plus pounds of screaming pre-schooler away without drawing the attention of a few thousand fairgoers.

Then you came along, asked if we wouldn’t mind sharing a table since bees decided to have their own picnic at yours. We had only exchanged a few pleasantries when you handed me the ticket –one adult admission, and Babyzilla, being under the age of four, could get in free.

You made a little boy –a little boy who was having a rough week –very happy. This made his mom very happy. When I was a young thing in my twenties, any possible inappropriateness of me throwing my arms around you would’ve been forgiven as youthful exuberance, but now that I’m an old hag-mom with offspring in tow, the suitable thing seemed to be offering a sincere thank you, though it didn’t feel like quite enough. So I’m hoping the universe proffers a cosmic kiss on your head and gives you a little something that makes you very happy. Karmic points to you.

Honey, I shrunk the toilet.

July 5th, 2008

I am afraid. Afraid of what Hubby is doing in our bathroom.

He goes in there with tools. He makes a point of shutting the door. I hear scraping. I hear grinding. I hear banging.

He comes out grumbling, heads downstairs, and goes into the garage. More grinding. More banging.

After a few minutes, a pungent odor, like that of something on fire, wafts from the bathroom. I do what any rational person would do in this kind of situation –go downstairs, sit on the couch, and turn on the TV.

I’m ready to evacuate when necessary.

Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to marry engineers.

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??

Changes

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.

R-e-a-d My L-i-p-s

June 27th, 2008

I love how being a mom affords you those startling “grown up” moments, like when you realize you are behaving exactly the same way your parents did. These are the things that send you running for the liquor cabinet.

Actually, it can be pretty amusing being on the dark other side….. unless you’re not a particularly fast speller. Case in point: I enjoy the fact that my three-year-old son, Babyzilla, is still a pre-speller. I can talk about things in front of him, and as long as I spell out all the key words, I’m totally incognito! Nifty! I learned to spell at a fairly young age because this is the kind of crap my parents would pull on me. The only problem is, Hubby occasionally has a hard time keeping up. What can I say? He’s an engineer. Engineers aren’t paid to know how to spell particularly well. Or even to use correct punctuation. (Oh, the run-on sentences this man can write!)

So, a recent conversation during Babyzilla’s bath time went something like this:

Mad Me: Did you see that coupon in the e-mail?

Hubby: Huh?

Mad Me: There’s a new T-h-o-m-a-s coupon. T-o-y-s-r-u-s sent it out. It’s good for one of the T-h-o-m-a-s t-r-a-i-n-s.

Hubby:
Uhhh….. Oh, ok.

Mad Me: So, I figured we’d want to choose between the R-h-e-n-e-a-s e-n-g-i-n-e or the musical c-a-b-o-o-s-e. What do you think?

Hubby: R-h-……… ???

Mad Me: I’m thinking R-h-e-n-e-a-s, since you-know-who likes him. But the c-a-b-o-o-s-e sounds pretty cool.

Hubby <<grabbing for a bath crayon to work it out on the tile>>: R-h-c-b-s…..

Mad Me: Yeah. Let’s get R-h-e-n-e-a-s, ok?

Hubby:
Uhh….

Ok, so maybe ‘Rheneas’ wasn’t really a fair word to throw at him, even if Hubby is more alarmingly familiar with all the Thomas train characters than I am.  And this type of communication is a bit awkward.  Gives me the odd sensation that I’m verbally text messaging him. The nice thing was, we were able to reach an agreement about which train to get without much discussion at all.

Heh.

I wonder if this would work for a pair of bitchin’ Jimmy Choos.

Writing On Plain Site

June 26th, 2008

I’ve decided that I’m not going to let my paralyzing perfectionism stop me from starting this blog. When I first made the decision to venture into the blogosphere, I envisioned launching a site with a killer header and kickass graphics. It was supposed to be cool, funny, wild, Mad Mama crazy -sort of like Studio 54 meets ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’, with a dash of motherly love. Alas, I have lots of ideas…… but not a lot of experience creating graphics or setting up websites. Tons of experience with computers and the Intartoob but only very rudimentary knowledge of website construction and design.

So rather than wasting more time searching through themes or learning to edit the WordPress templates, I’m just going to launch this puppy and start writing. For now it’s just me, my random thoughts, and the plain ol’ Kubrick theme. I’ll work on Nurse Ratched doing the hustle in a halter top and platform shoes later.

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