Archive for the ‘Society’ Category

May 21st, 2012

Not for reading while you’re eating…

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The girl who cuts my hair, “AngG,”  has twin daughters that are a year older than Lovey. (Lovey is almost three.) I was in a few days ago for a little cut and color and AngG told me some crazy story about her friend “Lucy.” Lucy had a boyfriend that sexually violated Lucy’s little girl.

My heart sank. I was sick.

But it got me wondering:

When is the right time to discuss with my girls who is and who is not welcome in their gynie area? (That is what we call it in our house. We call it a “gynie.“ Like it, hate it, I don’t care. That is what we call it). AngG told me that she started talking to her girls about it awhile ago.

Awhile ago? Your kids are three! Like how long ago? Am I late? Man, I can not catch a break when it comes to the gynie stuff. Just when I think I am caught up, I fall behind again.

So, that night, I got on it.

I had a nice little gynie talk with Sweet Pea. She just turned five it and she totally got it: Don’t let anyone touch your gynie. Don’t be waving it around either, Sweet Pea. No one is interested. Keep it to yourself. It’s your private area…yes, if mommy or daddy are with you and a doctor needs to get in there, you can let her in…no, we’re not going to the doctor…no, you don’t need a shot …oh no…don’t freak out…I swear you don’t need a shot…that is not where this conversation was supposed to go.

I then broached the subject with Lovey (the one who will be three in a month and a half).

Me: Lovey, I need to tell you who is allowed to touch your gynie.

Lovey: My gynie! Ok, I love my gynie!

Me: Great. Listen to mommy, honey. Only mommy and daddy are allowed to touch your gynie, OK? Nobody else. We have to clean it so it doesn‘t get gross. Gross me out the door.

Lovey: Gross me out the door. Gross me out the door!!

Me: Right. Do you understand though? Oh, wait…nana, grammy and puppa are also allowed to touch your gynie. But no one else. Are you with me?

Lovey: Yes, mommy.

Me: Who is allowed to touch your gynie?

Lovey: You and daddy and nana and grammy and puppa. And that’s it.

Me: Right. That’s it. You’re delicious.

Lovey: Don’t eat me, mommy.

Me: OK.

And that was that. Mission accomplished. I was pretty proud of myself.

The next morning, while I was getting Lovey dressed, we went over everything again. She answered all of my prompts and I felt very good about her level of understanding with regard to who is and who is not allowed to touch her gynie. I didn’t go into explaining why no one was allowed in thereit doesn’t seem necessary right now because, developmentally, I don’t think she is quite ready for an explanation. At this point, it’s enough for me that she gets the basics, we’ll get to the “why” part later.

Fast forward to the next day…

It’s time for the girls to get their hair cut. (I don’t take them to my salon. I took them there for their first cuts because we needed to be fancy, but I’m over that. They have easy hair and they don’t have any money so the 10.00 places are where they live.)

So, we’re in their salon and all of the people working and getting their hair cut are going crazy over the girls. They were just doing their thing, being cute, when all of the sudden, out of nowhere, little Lovey throws her fist in the air and declares with all the righteous indignation that she could muster: “NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO TOUCH MY GYNIE! ONLY MOMMY AND DADDY AND NANA AND GRAMMY AND PUPPA!”

Uh…OK.

I didn’t really know what to do. Who does that? So, I got down on her level, put my hands on her little shoulders and quietly said: “Lovey…honey…I’m pretty confident that no one here is lining up to touch your gynie.”

But she was unfazed and on a mission:

“NO ONE! I WILL SAY NO. I SAY NO!”

…And I hope she does.

Until she gets married.

Ok, fine she doesn’t have to be married, but she better use some discretion because otherwise…gross.

Gross me out the door.

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April 3rd, 2012

Just Wait…

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It seems that whenever I voice a concern about my kids, there is almost always someone who feels the need to weigh in with the following response:

“Oh, just wait. That is NOTHING… Just wait until she hits (fill in whatever age their kid is), because that’s way worse!”

I hate that.

Here’s an example:

Right now, I‘m so over little Lovey pooping in her diaper. She is going to be 3 years old soon and she still doesn’t tell me when she needs to go. I would think she’d want to tell me but no, she is quite content walking around with a rump full of dump. Not only that, but when I approach her about the VERY obvious poop in her pants, she simply replies: ‘It’s OK, mommy!’ …Really? It’s OK? Please tell me how it’s OK that you are walking around with a giant POOP IN YOUR PANTS?”

As a parent to a little one, I feel like the complaint above is valid, and relevant. I’m looking for someone or something to help me. I’m not looking for this:

“Just wait…Oh, just wait…I have a 17 year old who brought a hooker to my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah and he does bong hits at the dinner table.”

I’m sorry, but did I ask to hear about your 17 year old train wreck of a kid? No, I did not. I’m not interested in your horror and “whore” stories. Not only was your response totally irrelevant, but it was also completely unsupportive.  Hit the bricks, Debbie Downer. Go clean your kid’s bong.

I have noticed that it’s a natural and knee-jerk reaction for the ”Been There, Done That” parents to use the  “Just Wait” scare tactic. It’s like they’ve earned it or something. (And in many ways, they have). But it’s not really helpful. I can see how, if you’re on the receiving end of my “poopie rant,” you might want to call another “Been There, Done That” parent as you’re walking away—and I can see how you guys might share a good laugh at my expense: “OMG, Robyn thinks a diaper that smells like four day old Indian food is bad—I can’t wait until Lovey gets older and she and a friend pull into the garage in Robyn’s car, AND LOVEY IS THE ONE DRIVING… AND SHE’S FOURTEEN!” (And then they laugh, laugh, laugh it up).

I totally understand that the “Just Wait” responses are all about perspective, but please understand–everything is relative. If you’re talking to someone who hasn’t been  a parent as long as you have, someone who has a valid complaint about what is currently going on with their kid, I can tell you with a great deal of confidence that perspective is not what they’re looking for.

Most parents (especially new ones) are beat up and worn out. For the most part, all we want is someone to listen when we have a concern, and if you’re offering an effective solution, we’ll gladly take it. (Come on, don’t hog the parental knowledge because you want us to suffer like you did.) We want help. We want support. What we don’t want is: “You think it’s bad now, JUST WAIT.”

Still, there are times when our friends are also good for a swift kick in the butt.

Sometimes, as parents, we get caught up in Standard Operating Procedure and we forget that it’s our job to push our kids. Early on, I was great about pushing my kids. (Really, I was quite awesome). Somewhere along the line though, I got too comfortable. In other words: If it’s not negatively impacting MY life in some way—it can wait. As a result, I have one kid who will be 5 years old next month and she’ll probably be wearing nighttime pull-ups on her honeymoon, and my other one will likely go on her first date with a crap in her pants.

In addition to that, there are other things, things I didn’t even consider, things that I didn’t even know I was ignoring:

For example: Little Lovey and I were at my friend “Caren’s” house the other day. I love Caren. When Lovey and I were leaving, Caren saw me lift Lovey and place her into her car seat. She cringed: “You are going to mess up your back so bad lifting her in and out like that!” Uh…GOING TO?? My back is already such a mess. If pain pills didn’t have the same effect on my body as matzoh does, I’d be on them all the time. (If you’re a “Jew Jew” you know what I’m talking about. If you’re not, Happy Easter).

Caren was right though. Why wasn’t I pushing Lovey to get in and out of the car seat by herself?

Because I had a bad case of “The Lazies.”

I was stuck in Standard Operating Procedure and pushing my kid to get in and out of that seat by herself didn’t even occur to me. I just assumed she couldn’t do it because she wasn’t doing it.

This scenario could have very easily turned into a “Just Wait” scenario if I was standing there complaining, but Caren helped me with my problem right then and there—before I even knew it was a problem—before I complained about in front of someone else who would have, in all probability, hit me with a “Just Wait…” response. No thanks.

Good lookin’ out, Caren.

I dodged a bullet and here’s the best part: Lovey is now getting in and out of her car seat all by herself. (She gets one M&M every time she does it and she is very happy about that. Yes, I could give more than one M&M, but we like to keep the bar real low in our family).

******************

Raising kids is like any other part of life. Most everything happens in phases and we have to ride each one out. We suit up and bear down through the rough phases while we wish, in vain, that the fun phases would last forever.

As parents, when we complain about parenting issues—we’re really just asking for help. Complaining is our way of putting it out there. Of course, that is not always the case; sometimes we just need to vent and we’re not looking for anything but an ear. For the most part though, when we put it out there—we’re looking for a little support, a little help and sometimes a little push.

But if you choose to respond to our pleas with “Just Wait…” well, that’s totally fine. But I think YOU should “Just Wait”…and I think you should do it over there.

 

 

 

 

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March 12th, 2012

Choose Wisely

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My dad used to be a divorce lawyer and this was his motto:

“Love is grand, divorce is one hundred grand. Choose wisely.”

Choosing a mate is not the same as choosing a friend. You’re allowed to have more than one friend and if you read my last entry “The Friend Philosophy,” you know I don’t believe in expecting one friend to fulfull all needs. A spouse or partner shouldn’t be responsible for fulfilling all needs either, but they need to fill a crap-load of them because last time I checked, we’re only allowed to have one.

I figure, if your partner is supposed to be your best, best, best friend…the bar should be really high. And, I also figure, if the bar is high and you don’t settle, your chances of landing the ”right” person are good, so your chances of staying together are too.

But how do we know who that “right” person is?

We know by dating a whole bunch of the wrong ones.

Dating different people is like eating from a buffet. Grab one plate for each hand and try everything. If you’re not into something, move on. At least you gave it a shot and now you know a little more about what you like and what you don’t like.

Plus, dating different people helps us learn what our deal breakers are. And we ALL have deal breakers. Deal breakers pop up in almost every relationship, but if we stay strong and stand up for our convictions, they are very helpful in weeding out the wrong people.

Some deal breakers are big: “I need to break up with you because it has come to my attention that you’re sleeping with a whole bunch of other girls. I would probably be OK with that if I didn’t have a brain, but I do, so I’m not. By the way, I threw out all of your crap except for the things I’m going to keep—and also, I hope your pee pee falls off.”

And some deal breakers are even BIGGER: “I’m sorry. I thought this had a chance of working out but it’s kind of bugging me that you wear your jeans really high. No, I DON’T think that’s a stupid reason to break up and what? I’m not “all that.” Well, that may be, but AT LEAST MY JEANS AREN’T UP TO MY ARMPITS. Later, Erkel.”

I believe it’s a good idea to date a lot of people because in the end, when we meet the right person, we’re ready. We know what we want and, more importantly, we know what we don’t want.

You may think that I’m painting with a broad brush– that’s probably because I am. Please know I’m not saying that those who got married without dating a lot, or those who got married real young, did the wrong thing. I’m not saying that at all. I won’t be recommending it to my kids, but obviously there are some people who got really lucky and found their soul mate early on. I have some friends who got married to high school or college sweethearts and they are totally solid.

It happens.

But look around. More often than not, it doesn’t.

It seems that most of the time those who pull the trigger too soon or for the wrong reasons end up divorced or married-but-miserable. Sure, it was great in the beginning. Everyone loved the little hot dog appetizers that Bride and Groom served at the wedding, and Bride was elated when she got the KitchenAid Tilt Head Classic Mixer she registered for (I got one too and if you want it, it’s in the closet of my laundry room) but one day Bride woke up and realized that she and Groom had grown apart.

How did that happen? Were they not paying attention, or were they always quite different?

No, they weren’t different. They were perfect. At least on paper.

When they got married everything matched up perfectly: Same religion? Check. Stable jobs? Check. So cute that they both love strawberry ice cream? Check. But now Bride is no longer the same person she was when she got married. Bride is not so into strawberry ice cream anymore.  (WHAT? OH NO SHE DI’INT!) Oh yes, she’s likes butter pecan now. But Groom…Groom still likes strawberry ice cream and not only does he not understand why Bride no longer likes it, he resents her for it—but guess what? Bride resents him too. She used to think it was so cute that he loved strawberry ice cream but now it’s annoying to her and what’s more, she resents that in 10 years he hasn’t changed one bit except for the fact that his fat ass is now older with a slower metabolism so the strawberry ice cream has manifested itself as a spare tire around his waist that could double as a flotation device.

THAT kind of scenario sometimes (many times) happens when we marry too young, too soon or for the wrong reasons. (Again, if you married young and it’s working, that’s awesome). But that kind of thing does happen, a lot.

So, how can we keep that from happening? What can we do to prevent ourselves from becoming disenchanted with our spouse? Marriage is hard. It’s not easy to keep the sparks flying.

I don’t know a lot, but I do know one thing: It’s a lot harder to be happy in a marriage when the person you’re married to is no longer the “right” person, and not only that—it’s possible that he never was.

Why rush it? What’s the hurry?

You’re getting too old? That is crap. Marry the wrong person and you’ll be even older when you have to start over. (Plus, if you wait until you’re older to get married, you have a better chance of staying together because you won’t have as many years to get sick of him).

All of your friends are married? Keep those friends and find some new ones who aren’t. They’re out there (probably divorced because they married the wrong person).

You want a baby? Great. No one’s stopping you, mama. Adopt a baby. You don’t need a man for that. Adoption is expensive. Ain’t that the truth, but so are weddings, especially when they end in divorce.

There are no guarantees when we say “I do.” I know that. Most people don’t go into a marriage saying “Til death or divorce do us part,” but things happen over time, people change, and although most of us give it our best shot, sometimes a marriage just can’t be saved.

With friends, we have the luxury of calling on the ones we need depending on the circumstances. With a spouse, we have one only one, and I think (and this is just me) but I think it helps to sample as much as possible from the “dating buffet” before ultimately choosing the “one,” because otherwise, the one you take that ring from—the one you choose to lean on and grow old with—the one you think is Mr. Right…well, he might really be Mr. Right Now.

And Mr. Right Now is great. But only for now.

 

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March 2nd, 2012

“The Friend Philosophy”

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Raise your hand if you remember that Chris Brown beat the CRAP out of Rihanna back in 2009.

Me too!

But I think the Grammys forgot.

I was kind of shocked to see Chris Brown on stage at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards singing and dancing like he wasn’t the guy who shoved Rihanna’s head into the passenger window of a car before using her face as a punching bag.

LOSER.

I’m familiar with the unwritten rule “Forgive and Forget,“ but there are exceptions. How about a little discretion, Grammy’s?  Next time why don’t you just book Michael Vick to be one of Brown’s back up dancers?

There’s a lot of hate and bitterness in this world so the concept of forgiveness is–in theory–a good one. But should every act of wrongdoing be forgiven? Are we to hide resentment each time someone betrays our confidence, pounds our self esteem or lets us down? There are circumstantial grey areas that surround each isolated incident so, as a parent, the subject of friendship and forgiveness can be a hard one to teach.

My 4-½ year old, Sweet Pea, recently told me that one of her friends is mean to her sometimes. What? What is THAT about? That girl is LUCKY to have you as a friend. You’re way cooler than THAT kid.

But I didn’t say that.

I told Sweet Pea that she didn’t “need that kind of friend” to which she responded: “Yeah, I don’t need that.” I told her what she does need is someone else to play with when that girl is being mean. I instructed her to temporarily move on to greener pastures until the girl is ready to be nice. And once she is ready to be nice, and she apologizes, it would be a good move to forgive her.

I thought my advice was stellar.  Sweet Pea’s friend, for all intents and purposes, is not really a bad kid and let’s face it–girls (of all ages) can be mean at times, Sweet Pea included. That’s why I was shocked when Sweet Pea looked at me and said “Mommy, I don’t want to be friends with her anymore.”

Jeez Louise, Sweet Pea, take it easy. That’s so…final. OK, the kid was a little mean to you. I don’t know if that warrants ending a pretty solid relationship.

But when trying to teach kids about the ups and downs of friendship and forgiveness, it can get tricky.

That friend of Sweet Pea’s probably has some really good qualities. Maybe she is good about playing the dog when they play “Dog and Dog Walker.” (Dumbest game ever, by the way). Maybe she always opts to be one of the ugly step-sisters when they play “Cinderella.” I honestly have no idea what they are playing half the time (I’m just happy they’re not including me) but I have to believe the friend has some redeeming qualities because for the most part, my kid loves being with her.

With that in mind, I know I have to acknowledge Sweet Pea’s statement about ending the friendship. I’m sure she’s bluffing or just blabbing, but it still seems like a good time to open a dialogue about mommy’s “Friend Philosophy.” [Sidenote: Much of this I learned from my own mom.] It’s probably a little early for Sweet Pea to get into something so deep, but the advice is both solid and reasonable–and beyond that, I think it will serve her well in the future with ALL of her friends.

Here it is:

Every friend wears a different hat. You might have a friend who is fun to shop and eat with. She gets the Shopping and Face Stuffing Hat. Maybe you have a friend who you can confide in but she’s no fun to shop with. That’s OK because she gets the I-Keep-My-Mouth-Shut hat and that is a good hat to have even if she’s no fun to shop with. Perhaps you have a friend who you like to go running with (or something horrible like that). She would get the Running Hat. And so on and so on…

So, Sweet Pea’s friend doesn’t always get to wear the I’m Nice hat. So what? She looks cute in the I’m Fun hat and when she is mean, her behavior is probably harmless and manageable. Plus, if she is a friend who selflessly steps up to be Ken every time they play Barbies, I’d say she’s worth keeping around.

It’s very rare to have one friend who can wear every hat, and it’s not fair to expect such a thing. We have to accept our friends for who they are and for what they are capable of giving. Some give a lot and some give enough, but few (if any) can give all. That’s why most of us have more than one friend. Variety is good, and everyone is comfy in their hats.

But what about the friend who is just a total anchor? The friend who you’re truly done with? What about the Chris Browns who used to be in a very Loved hat, but somehow lost their way–and their hat? What do you do with the toxic people who no longer have a positive place in your life because their redeemable qualities have been replaced by bad energy, drama and stress?

If you truly have a person in your life who is just completely and utterly draining with absolutely nothing positive to bring to the table (and I’m so sorry if you do) well…that person, if at all possible, probably needs to be ejected. And that’s not an easy thing to do. Cutting someone out of your life is rough, but protecting yourself is necessary.

I know that Sweet Pea’s friend can be mean at times, but she is certainly not at toxic status, and she is clearly still hat worthy, but some of us–many of us–have people in our lives that are poison. If you, sadly, know of what I speak–don’t despair! There is a hat for that person. It’s the YOU SUCK SO BAD THAT I JUST CAN’T HAVE YOU IN MY LIFE ANYMORE hat.

If I were Rihanna, that is the hat I would get for Chris Brown–and if there is a hat that says LOSER, I would grab that one too.

He will look great in it at the Grammys.

 

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January 24th, 2012

Give It Up, Sports Freak

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Dear Husband,

I had lunch with my mom today and I mentioned that you gave up part of a football game last night to watch a movie with me. The girls were asleep and we don’t get to hang out as much as we used to at night, but I was still kind of surprised because it was a big game.  (The winning team will be playing in the Super Bowl). Even I considered watching the game instead of watching George Clooney (but only for a few seconds because then I remembered that it’s George Clooney).

After I told my mom about how you selflessly forfeited the game to be with me, she mentioned that her husband “Jangles” (who was a total sports fanatic before we sadly lost him in 2009) used to do that too, but then he would just watch the games later. He would just Tivo or DVR them.

I now believe that you did the same thing.

You love sports. You’re way into sports. Your cell phone ring tone is the theme song for Monday Night Football, your wardrobe (with the exception of  items I have hidden or forbidden) is almost entirely made up of sports teams, and every time I turn on a TV in our house, it defaults to a sports station. (The last example, by the way, is very annoying to me).

You Tivo’d or DVR’d the game that was on last night, didn’t you, sly guy? I wouldn’t care if you owned up, but you tried to be all sly about it and put one over on me. Sly Stallone. Sly fox. Sly and the Family Stone. I came in to watch the movie and I was all FOR REAL super-great wife: “Are you sure you don’t want to finish the game?“ and you were all FOR FAKE: “No, no. Let’s hang out, I don’t mind at all.”

Of course you didn’t mind! You’re no dummy. I am usually drooling with exhaustion 15 minutes into any movie and you probably figured you’d be back to the game in no time, or, worst case scenario: I might have lasted 30 minutes and even then, with all the commercials and TV time-outs it wouldn’t take you very long to catch up.

But no…things didn’t work out that way, did they? No they did not…and why didn’t they?

Because I WATCHED THE WHOLE MOVIE.

Oh yeah, buddy. I stayed strong. I even threw in an inadvertent teaser at one point when I said: “This movie needs to end soon because I’m beat.” But I stayed strong. I didn’t even know your plan at the time. I bet you were not happy with George: “Damn you, George. Most every movie you are in pretty much blows, but now, all of the sudden you’re in a movie worth staying up for?”

I’m on to you, sports freak. I am ON to YOU. So know that.

KNOW IT.

Love,
Your wife (who is slyer than you)

sports freak

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January 15th, 2012

Stand Up

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If you look in your backyard, you’ll probably see big, thick wires that are horizontally connected to poles. I have no idea what they are called; I think they‘re called “electrical wires.” Anyway, some years ago I was delivering food for Meals On Wheels in downtown Detroit with a bunch of my friends and we were assigned to some very sketchy neighborhoods. There is one house in particular that I will never forget. I remember that even though I was still in the car, I could plainly see a pit bull in the back yard, running back and forth…on a tether…that was tied to an electrical wire.

AN ELECTRICAL WIRE.

So I called 911.

911 Lady: What’s your emergency?

Me: There is a dog on a tether running back and forth and he’s tied to an electrical wire.

911 Lady: Is that really an emergency?

Me: Uh, I think it is. HE IS TIED TO AN E-LEC-TRI-CAL WIRE.

911 Lady: Is he hurt?

Me: Not yet.

911 Lady: Well, I don’t know what you want me to do.

Me: But you’re the 911 Lady…

911 Lady: Right. I’m not sure what you’d like me to do.

Me: (Sigh of defeat)…I don’t know what to do either.

I looked at my friends in the car who also didn’t know what to do…with the dog or with me.

We gathered a few more numbers and placed calls to the electric company, the Humane Society, and whoever else we could think of that might somehow be able to remedy the situation. To this day none of us have any idea what happened to that dog, or to the unlucky schmuck who was assigned to confront the owner.

I don’t know why I feel the need to step in when I happen to witness a wrongdoing or injustice. You may be thinking to yourself “That’s a good thing that you’re like that,” but I don’t know if that is always the case. Some battles aren’t mine for fighting. My services aren’t always solicited. My help isn’t always necessary. Yet, I reach for my cape anyway.

If I am in the general vicinity of a conversation where I overhear people talking about someone I care about (and the info they’re sharing isn’t accurate) I have been known to step in and level the field (since my friend isn’t there to do it herself). Unfortunately, by doing this, my unsolicited information (though true) usually brings the conversation to a screeching halt.

Well, of course it does! Who DOES that? Did they send me an e-vite to join their conversation? No. Sure, I go on to apologize for my unsought and un-called for comment—but after my behavior, let’s face it—my apology doesn’t land well.

It’s not my fault! I can’t help myself. It’s how I’m built.

And my kids are growing up around it. They have seen me speak for those who can’t (or won’t) speak for themselves on more than one occasion.

In fact, they are no exception:

Once, when my older daughter “Sweet Pea” was around 18 months old, we were at my friend Busy’s house and Sweet Pea fell backwards from a chair that was very high off the ground. She hit her head HARD on the floor behind her. My husband, Cody, and I rushed Sweet Pea to the hospital and after the nurses checked us in, we waited. And then we waited some more. After the crying subsided, Sweet Pea was actually acting very normal, smiling and hitting on some old man in the waiting room, but whatever—you don’t mess with head injuries. We had only adopted her 7 months earlier and, as parents, we had no idea what we were doing. What if she had internal bleeding? What if she knocked something loose? What if news about this incident made it back to China and officials came to find us…and yell at us, IN CHINESE?

It was stressful.

Some nurse finally took us back to one of those hospital “staging” rooms. It seemed we were making progress, but we ended up doing the same thing there that we did in the waiting room. We waited. This time, unfortunately, there was no old man for Sweet Pea to hit on, she was stuck with just us. We had nothing for her to play with, as this wasn’t a planned excursion, and she was getting antsy. My husband and I were growing increasingly more and more impatient and that feeling of panic we walked in with was quickly turning to disgust.

WE HAD AN 18 MONTH OLD KID WITH A POSSIBLE HEAD INJURY, and we were being ignored.

So we made the decision to leave. Cody gathered our things while I scooped up Sweet Pea and we proceeded to walk out.

I was right behind Cody as he made his way towards the doors, mumbling something under his breath about how bad every single person in the hospital sucked, when all of the sudden I stopped. I turned around (still holding Sweet Pea) and I marched over to the front desk. I was emotionally exhausted, running on fumes of righteous indignation. I was very calm though and I did not raise my voice.

Me: I feel the need to tell you that I could not be more disappointed in this establishment or this staff. We came in with an 18 MONTH OLD BABY who could possibly have a HEAD INJURY. We have been here for a hour and a half and we have seen everyone but a doctor. You should be ashamed of yourselves and I sincerely hope this is not standard operating procedure for your hospital, because if it is, you suck even more that I already think you do.

One of the nurses: We are so sorry, Ma’am. You are next…you really are next.

Me: Too late. We’re done with this place. And don’t call me Ma’am. I hate that.

As Sweet Pea and I walked back over to Cody, I found him to be not at all surprised about my little performance. He’s not new, he knows me.

I guess in some respects I‘ve always been like this, but it seems I’ve become even more vocal as I’ve gotten older. I’m not sure if that means I care more, or if I care less. I guess maybe I care more about others, and less about what others think of me.

The incident with Sweet Pea was easy to defend. I was a mommy protecting the best interest of my child. But, not every situation is like that. On more than one occasion, I have found myself face-to-face with the fine line that runs between “standing up for someone” and “minding my own business.” And sometimes I am not sure which side of the line to stand on.

As a parent, “Standing Up For Yourself and Others” can be a hard lesson to teach because the guidelines are blurry. We want our kids to be empathetic towards others. We want them to have good instincts, act on those instincts, and step up for those who aren’t capable of doing it for themselves but we also want them to know when it’s better to just back off and shut it.

I think I get it right some of the time, but other times I should probably just bite my tongue and walk away… or should I just be who I am and let loose when I feel it’s necessary, saying a silent “Too Bad!” to those who think I’m nuts?

I don’t know. So, if you do, please tell me.

That way I can tell my kids…and take all the credit.

 

stand up

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October 23rd, 2011

Dissecting The Mean Girl

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It’s very rare for someone to tell you to your face how they truly feel about you. It’s rare because it’s not an easy thing to do. Somebody once told me to my face that I’m “mean.” I was rather stunned because usually those kinds of things are reserved for behind-the-back lashing and also, I didn’t agree with her.

Admittedly, some of my behavior towards this person could be considered somewhat questionable, but I’m not sure if it was what you’d call “mean.” I know what “mean” is. I have seen mean. We’ve all seen it. It’s everywhere. It’s in the shows we watch and the movies we see. It’s in the articles we read and the videos we view. The characteristics of a mean girl have been dutifully exposed.

But even when you know you’re being mean, it’s still hard to accept being called out on it. No one wants to be a “mean girl”—unless, of course, they truly are just that. And quite honestly, I don’t feel that I’m truly a mean girl.

So when I was told that I was, it broke me. It broke me for awhile.

But then I got to thinking…Am I a “mean girl,” or was I just being mean?

There’s a difference.

And that led me to conclude that there are two types of mean girls:

There is the Mean Girl on the Offense: This girl is like a lawnmower in that she’ll plow through anyone who gets in her way. She is the Mean Girl who makes herself feel better by tearing down others. She rules by fear and finds the less assured to be her disciples. She is mean; it’s a state of being.

And then there is the Mean Girl on the Defense. This girl is not mean coming out of the gate. She has to be provoked, like a sleeping bear. If you’re going to poke her, good luck to you because she might come out swinging. She’s either standing up for herself or she’s just totally and completely annoyed by someone else’s behavior. Her meanness is reactionary and, as far as she‘s concerned, it is justified. Unlike the Mean Girl on the Offense, this girl’s meanness is not a state of being, it‘s temporary. She’s not a Mean Girl, but she can be mean and if you question her about her conduct, her answer will more than likely be: “Well, she started it.”

Of course, not all girls fit nicely into either category. There are lots of other Mean Girl groups and subgroups, but I’m too lazy and too stupid to get into all of them.

I really just needed to hash out what I had so far because not only am I responsible for myself, but I have two little girls of my own and if they see me being mean, there is a good chance they could grow up to be the same way. And no one wants that.

Of course I don’t want my girls to be Mean Girls—but I also don’t want them to be doormats. I needed some help so I went to my friend “Remi.”  Remi helped me to see that it doesn’t have to be either/or. While there is no place for the Offensive Mean Girl (except in the movies) the Defensive Mean Girl is pretty much unavoidable. And not only that, she’s also human.

It’s human to be put off by other people once in a while. We can’t all like each other, but we don’t necessarly have to act on it.  It’s not nice to come out both guns blazing to every single person who rubs you the wrong way. Plus, there’s no percentage in it. Where’s it going to get you?  Nowhere good.

I wish I had the innate quality and maturity level to let things go and bite my tongue, but I’m not built like that—and that is something I need to work on. When the time comes, I’m really going to try and help my girls find a place in the middle. I want them to be more like Remi. I want them to know when they should stand up for themselves and when they should walk away. I want them to know when to put up and when to shut up. If I have to, I will attach a filter or a muzzle to their mouths.

And who knows? Maybe there’s even one big enough to fit me.

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October 8th, 2011

The Real Good Days

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I recently walked into a conversation and one of the women was saying that the day she gave birth was the best day of her life. Well, it wasn’t for me. It sucked. I was in labor for 16 hours and the pain was unbearable. I have a pretty high tolerance for pain but at one point, I seriously thought I was going to die, and then I just wished I would. I kept asking, begging, yelling for an epidural but every nurse who came into my room told me that I’d have to wait until I was dialated to 4 cm. Screw you and your 4cm. Find a way to get me there. They did, but it took 8 hours. Eight hours of HELL.

The best day of my life? I don’t think so.

Things didn’t get any better when the doctor told me that my baby was face-up so continuing with my intended plan of giving birth vaginally was no longer a good idea. Really? You’re just figuring this out now? You never saw that on any of the ultrasounds that you did, or whatever that test is called where you can see the baby? Did the baby just decide to do a back flip? Is she wearing a Speedo? I used to think you were so cute, Doc, but now I don’t. And also, I hate you.

He decided that I needed an emergency C-section. I wasn’t prepared for that. The thought of having an extended stay at the hospital did not thrill me. The idea of not being able to drive for 6 weeks thrilled me less, and I didn’t spend 13 years working on my abs only to have my stomach sliced open like a loaf of French bread.

When the extremely young nurse on duty at the time tried to get me to discuss why I was so adverse to a C-section, the conversation didn’t go well.

Annoying Nurse: Can I ask why you are so upset about having a C-section?

Me: No.

Annoying Nurse: What is it that is bothering you about it? You can talk to me.

Me: Um… You’re like twelve and We’re Not Friends.  What the %$#!? Can someone get her away from me??

I don’t remember seeing much of that particular nurse after that. I later bought her a really cute  ”I’m sorry for being such a B” present.

I’m sure she re-gifted it.

Listen, I know that the girls whose conversation I busted into (uninvited, by the way) weren‘t referring to memories of their labor pains when they fondly recalled “The best day of their life,” but still, I can think of much better days than the day I gave birth.

Like today.

My girls and I didn’t do anything special or out of the ordinary, but it was a good day.

We went out for lunch. My husband, Cody, even went with us, and paid. Then Cody left. That was dumb of him because we went for ice cream. I said I wouldn‘t get any, but I did. We shopped. I said I wouldn’t buy anything, but I did. My girls played in the dressing rooms, tried on scarves and hid between the racks. I found a top that I love, my 4-year-old “Sweet Pea” strangled herself with a necklace and my 2-year-old “Lovey” crapped her pants. I, for once, was actually prepared with a dipe and the correct amount of wipes. We walked. Sweet Pea started bitching that she was hot. I was prepared again! I had a change of clothes at the bottom of Lovey’s stroller and we dashed into the doorway of an antique shop and changed. Sweet Pea giggled the whole time because she was naked, outside. We walked to the park and the girls played on the slide. They owned that slide. I watched Sweet Pea go prison tough on some kid who mistakenly thought that he too might get a chance at the slide, and I didn’t even get my lazy ass up to diffuse the situation. That kid got an into to Survival Of The Fittest, and I didn’t go to the mom and make excuses for Sweet Pea’s behavior.

I was too busy enjoying my day, and the fruits of my labor.

OK, I can’t take credit for Sweet Pea, I had no labor with her—a very brave woman in China went through that, but believe me, I’m forever grateful to her for being my pinch hitter. I have no doubt that she had a very hard day that day, and I thank her with every part of my being, because she left me with a lot of good ones.

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September 29th, 2011

For My Girls

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When I was little, I used to love to go to my dad’s office. He would give me paper and put me in the conference room with a phone, some pens and a stapler so I could “work.” As I got older my trips became less frequent, but there is one visit that I will never forget.

I was in high school. I can’t remember my reason for stopping by, but as I entered my dad’s office I found him sitting behind his desk, larger than life, feet up, cowboy hat on, phone in hand. He was very busy going bad ass on some other attorney while he waved me in. Our dog was snoozing in the corner and everything appeared to be normal. Everything except for the giant bag of cocaine on his desk.

That’s not normal.

When my dad got off the phone, he greeted me warmly and told me about his case. We talked for awhile as if everyone is supposed to have  a large bag of “ The Devil’s Dandruff” on their desk and then finally, he got to it.

Dad: You know that’s cocaine, right?

Me: Uh… OK.

Dad: I had a client who couldn’t pay me. Come with me. I want to show you what you do with cocaine.

Me: Uh…OK.

He took me to his bathroom and he dumped the entire contents of the bag into the toilet. And then he flushed it. Bye Bye.

Dad: Do me a favor. Don’t ever try cocaine. You will like it. You won’t be able to afford it and I won’t be giving you any money for it. If you don’t try it, you won’t know what you’re missing. So, just don’t try it.

Me: Uh….OK.

It was sound advice—and to this day, I have never tried it.

My dad also used to say that we “live on a string.” Because I’m all too familiar with losing someone before their time, I understand those words more than I wish I did. I’m hoping to be around for a long time, but that’s not always how things work out. With that in mind, I started this blog some months ago. I did it for my girls. I did it so they will have a memory of what was going on during this time in our lives and I did it so they will know their mommy.

This particular post outlines a few key things that I want my girls to know, just in case my string breaks and I don’t get a chance to tell them. I learned a lot from both my dad and my mom, and I want to make sure my kids get some things from me as well.

Here are some of those things:

—Don’t listen to the rule about getting rid of things if you haven’t worn them in a year. If it’s cool, it will probably come back and the minute you get rid of it, you’ll be looking for it.

—Never get on a roller coaster right after eating a burrito.

—The guy who says he isn’t too drunk to drive probably is. Waking someone up to come get you is better than waking someone up to come identify you.

—Don’t forget about take-out food that you may have in your car. Especially tuna fish or Chinese food.

—If a guy is trying to have sex with you and you’re not sure if you’re ready, you’re not. He might resort to the go-to line of ”I have never felt this way about anyone else before”  but that usually means that he hasn’t felt that way TODAY. I don’t care how hot he is, if you’re not into it—leave. He probably would have sucked anyway.

—Don’t share mascara unless you want an eye infection.

—Let your friends make fun of you for using SPF-30 instead of getting a tan. You’ll be happy later in life and they’ll look like one of your purses.

—Don’t forget to put your car in park. Especially on a hill.

—It wouldn’t be right for me to tell you not to get a tattoo, but I can ask you to be smart about it. Pick a good location. Think big picture. The place that you think is so cool right now, might not be so cool when you’re trying to get a job.  Ask yourself if the tattoo you want  is still going to look cool when you’re in your 60′s. Better yet, go find an 80-year-old and ask to see her lower back. Are you sure you want to commit to that butterfly tramp stamp? Your body will change, but the tattoo won’t. It will just get faded and older, like you.

—Don’t pick your zits. It’s better to wait it out than pick it off. The scars take a long time to fade. And some never do.

—Keep a pair of scissors in your closet. That way you can cut the tags of a new item right after you try it on and before you wear it out. I have come home to find forgotten tags hanging out of shirts and jackets because I neglected to cut them before leaving the house. I thought people were staring because I looked cute but really I just looked like an idiot.

—If something seems to good to be true, have someone else do it first.

—My mom always used to say that the guy you decide to spend the rest of your life with should be a little smarter than you. That way you won’t get bored. My mom also says that you should be with someone who loves you just a little bit more than you love him. I’m not saying that is the case with my marriage, but it is.

—The loudest one isn’t always the one that is heard. Sometimes they are just the loudest.

—Don’t buy what you can’t afford. If you don’t have the money, let it go. If you put it on a credit card and you can’t pay the bill, you’re just going to end up paying more later for something that was probably overpriced to begin with.

—Never marry someone you wouldn’t want to be divorced from. If he’s even a little bit of a jerk, he’ll be way worse if things go south, and then you’ll need a lawyer to go bad ass on him. And that will cost a lot of money. And then you can’t buy shoes.

—When you are a mom, you think that you won’t say “Because I said so, that’s why” but you will. You’ll say it a lot.

–And lastly, please don’t post your boobs or drop the ”F” bomb on the internet. Your friends may find it amusing, but the people that hire you won’t.

for my girls

 

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September 15th, 2011

New Girl

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In my group of friends one of the guys is single. He is good looking, classy and really funny. He is a great catch, if you can catch him. His name is “Tanto.” Everyone who knows and loves Tanto only wants him to be with someone as great as he is, but we know in our hearts that once that happens, we have a 50/50 chance of losing him.

To her.

Whoever she is.

I have never spoken to Tanto’s mom about this subject but I bet if I pressed her, she would divulge that she is also concerned about who Tanto might end up with. Tanto is very close with his mom and sisters, but let’s face it, when a new girl enters the picture, she usually rules. The girl is the one who makes most of the plans, so she will likely plan things around her friends and her family. That’s going to be hard on Tanto, it’s going to be hard on his family, and it’s going to be hard on us.

At dinner the other night my girlfriend “Tess” and I confronted Tanto about the kind of girl we think he should be with. We told him that in order to maintain the close relationship he has with his family, it would be good for him to look for someone who has parents who live out of town, or parents that suck, or, even better–parents that are dead.  Our logic: If New Girl has dead parents, the close relationship Tanto has with his family won’t change, and, on top of that, New Girl might become really close with Tanto’s mom. How great would that be? Win-Win! Besides, it’s not like I was suggesting that he be the one to kill them.

We then focused on how New Girl could affect his relationship with us. At this point he was no longer listening, but we think it’s best if we pick New Girl in order to ensure that she can deal with us. So, since we have no one to offer up, we came up with the next best thing: Tanto should try to find someone who doesn’t speak any English. We’re a really fun group, but we are raw and honest with each other so a language barrier might keep New Girl from excusing herself to go to the bathroom and never coming back.

Because if that were to happen, Tanto would probably follow her. And that would be it for Tanto.

Don’t go, Tanto.

Over the years, I have lost many a guy friend to New Girl. New Girl either hasn’t liked me (I can’t imagine why, I’m so pleasant) or she just wanted to do her thing with her friends and the guy went along for the ride, leaving me behind. It happens. It’s hard to bring two lives together. New Girl did nothing wrong. I don’t blame New Girl. I have been New Girl. I blame the guy.

Most guys are lazy. They just are. When a guy meets a New Girl, his life becomes twice as full so it’s harder to get everyone in–unless the guy makes it a priority. One of the other guys in my same group “Thor” just met a New Girl. We recently met her too. No one got punched and drinks weren’t thrown so I think she liked us. It was important to Thor that we all meet, but not all guys are like this. Some guys are lazy, and when the guys are lazy, the friendships fade—no matter how much work the old girls put into it. It doesn’t happen overnight, but soon enough the phone calls between once very close friends become less and less frequent and plans on the calendar dwindle down to once-in-a-while. The guy gets comfortable in New Girl’s routine and the Old Girls get the shaft.

If you think about it, it’s actually quite  ironic because the Old Girls are the ones who made the guy all good for New Girl, and we were the ones who were there for all the bitching and moaning too.

And if New Girl doesn’t work out, we’ll be there again.

new girl blog

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