Wednesday 31 August 2011

Because You Asked For It: Baby Intervention


7 Month old needs thumb to sleep....

First time mom here.  :)

My 7 month old is very dependant on his thumb to fall asleep.  Very rarely he will fall asleep without sucking his thumb.  Once he's asleep...he'll pull it out..or it'll fall out.  Or sometimes i will take it out gently.  But when he's sleepy....he acts as if he almost NEEDS his thumb to fall asleep.

When will he fall outta this with ease?  Or do i need to think of ways to break him of it???  If so i'm open to idea's! :)

Thank you so much.... :)

Dear First Time Mom,

You sure are a trooper to somehow be able to smile in the face of thumb-addiction!  I don't know if I could be so strong.  Good for you for staying positive!  Thumb-addiction is a very serious problem that is widespread across the entire baby demographic.  In fact recent studies show that 4 out of 5 babies have experimented with thumb-sucking before they are even born.  It's an epidemic!

They suck their thumb like it is sweet, sweet candy and then black right out in a pacified stupor.  They can be absolutely miserable if they don't get that fix.  And that has an effect on everybody.  It can ruin lives.  Let me assure you that it is never too early to stage an intervention. In fact I'm rather shocked that you didn't seek out help before now but then, sometimes the mother is the last to know.  So sad.

First, gather as many family and friends in your home, so they can calmly explain to your baby the ways in which his thumb-addiction has hurt them and damaged their relationships.  In the face of all this testimonial evidence your baby can take his first step towards healing; admitting that he has a problem.  Unfortunately there are no treatment facilities for baby-related addictions (please, help spread awareness!), so you will have to rehabilitate your baby at home.  It won't be easy, but with a lot of loving support you can do it.

I recommend going cold turkey.  Bind his arms to his sides so he can't have any access to his thumbs. You can do this by swaddling him firmly in a soft receiving blanket and then securing it with duct tape.  Babies are so darn squirmy they get out of anything!  He will be likely to scream and cry and thrash around but do not give in!  That's only the DTs talking.

He may get through it, or he may die.  I have never seen any adult thumb-suckers so it's definitely going to be one or the other.

                                                                   Have a nice day!  :)
                                                                          Mommy Rotten :)

Monday 29 August 2011

Schools Are Scaring the Shit Out of Our Kids

 It's back to school time and while most moms I know are celebrating the new-found freedom from their kids, I am facing a new year of homeschooling.  And I guess I'm thinking more about the reasons why I'm looking forward to a new year of not going to public school.

Remember when we were kids and our schools used to scare the shit out of us?  The 80's were a hell of a decade and we got caught in the crossfire of Reagan's anti-drug hysteria.  They drilled "Just say no!" and "This is your brain/this is your brain on drugs" rhetoric into our heads like Chinese-water torture.  I remember being 6 and my teacher telling us about acid and how evil drug dealers made acid to look like cartoons so that kids will think they are temporary tattoos or something and take them.  I had hideous images in my head of little kids running around screaming with Disney's Pluto burning a hole into their skin.

A police man came into our classroom with a suitcase full of drugs and showed us what a joint was.  He told us it was very bad and ILLEGAL (that's the way the word looked inside my 8-year old mind) and that if we ever saw anyone with it ever we had to call the police and tell.  Even if it was our Mom and Dad.

Turn in your parents?  For weed real?

The fear was chillingly reinforced by the people we trusted the most.  Like Pee Wee Herman:

Nobody knows anything about it but DON"T EVEN TRY IT because you could DIE!  That thrill can KILL!  DON'T EVEN LOOK AT IT!  I don't know if any of that is true, but judging from the number of crack heads I've seen around town I have a feeling that the die-when-you-try rate isn't as high as what Pee Wee would have you think.  What little I do know about crack is perfectly sufficient to prevent me from wanting to try it.   Why not just tell the (less psychologically scarring) truth?

This is you.  This is you on crack.  Any questions?

When I sent Frick to school I thought we were done with this brand of crazy from the eighties, just like we got rid of the Lord's Prayer and "the strap".  I was so, so wrong.

The first of Frick's school-induced panics was over coffee.  Fucking coffee.  He was genuinely afraid that Daddy and I were going to drop dead of a caffeine-induced stroke because of our morning Joe.  He cited all kinds of facts about how caffeine causes heart disease and diabetes or some shit and he wouldn't let up.  I asked him where he got this sudden phobia and he told me his teacher taught him this.

"Really?  Did she also happen to mention that it has anti-oxidants which helps prevent cancer, or that it might help prevent Alzheimer's?"  (Or the fact that if all teachers everywhere didn't drink buckets of the stuff the entire educational system would collapse?)

No.  Of course she didn't.  Why balance that shit out with something sensible?  That wouldn't properly drive the message home in his squishy, impressionable young mind.  We went through the same bullshit over our wine drinking.  Did I know that alcohol is an addictive drug that causes strokes, heart disease, liver disease and ultimately death?  Did he know that a glass of red wine each day helps reduce cholesterol and also is rich in cancer-preventing anti-oxidants?

One night Frick had a fever and I offered him Children's Tylenol.  He got all freaked out because he thought I was offering him some of that crack-cocaine Mr. Herman there was talking about.

"I don't wanna be a drug addict!" he cried.  Are you kidding me?  I'm your mom.  Do you really think I went and bought candy-flavoured crack just so I could get you hopelessly addicted in your moment of weakness?  Dude, I bought it at the grocery store!

But that's not enough for the schools.  Apparently they won't be satisfied until our kids are anxiety-ridden messes, too terrified to even leave the house.  Enter the Lockdown Drills.

One sunny afternoon my very nervous boy handed me a newsletter explaining that there would be Lockdown drills twice a year.  They worded it very carefully so as not to actually say "armed gunman".  It talked about gas leaks, chemical leaks, toxic fumes from a fire or "an incident in close proximity to the school" (aka. police shoot-out) which was scary enough, but they clearly did not account for the buzz on the playground.  He wanted to know if a bad man was going to come into his school and shoot everybody.

I'm sorry but is it really necessary to tell our kids that at any moment, even in the places they should feel safe, some lunatic is going to run in and murder people right before their eyes?  So much so that they have to practice for that possibility?  They seem to want to avoid saying that the Lockdowns are a hysterical response to sensational news stories about school shootings, but that is exactly what they are.

According to Wikipedia there have been about ten school shootings in all of Canada, since 1902.  And all of those took place in high schools or universities. I get the need to practice fire safety drills.  Stay calm, stay together, get to the safe meeting place outside.  But what is being accomplished by these Lockdown drills that couldn't be done with a simple announcement to stay inside?  Other than terrifying our kids twice a year for a perceived danger they are statistically unlikely to ever experience.

Be afraid, children.  Your parents are drug addicts and pushers who send you every day to a place where you are in constant danger of simultaneously being shot and bursting into flames.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Stuff I'm Willing to Tolerate if it Means Getting Away From My Kids

When we first got our house we worked very hard on it.  I wanted to create a warm and inviting refuge from the pressure and stress of the outside world.  We scraped wallpaper off of walls, plastered, sanded and painted them and we refinished the floors. When we were done I felt we had created an environment where I would enjoy many leisurely hours spent with my family.

This is not our living room.

I'm not allowed to post any real pictures of our house.  Daddy is extremely paranoid and thinks that if I do, some criminal trolling thousands of mom-blogs will stumble onto mine, see something in there that he wants, figure out our address, and then rob us and murder us in our sleep.  Which is ridiculous.

Nobody wants our shitty stuff.

My point is that the living room is the nicest room in our house and it's sunny and comfortable if not perfectly clean. As nice as it is, I spend as little time as possible in there.

I'm hiding from my kids.

They're not stupid.  They know that's the best room and that's why they've taken it over.  There's lots of space on the beautifully refinished floors in there to race their cars, run around, move furniture, build forts, throw knives, wrestle, and otherwise wreak havoc and destruction.  The only programming available in that room is children's programming (it's a long story but this is more the result of technical difficulties than evidence of good parenting) and so it is now officially the most stressful room in the house.  You wouldn't believe what I put up with to not be in that room.

Welcome to The Bunker, which is our little nickname for our basement because it reminds us of being in one of those bunkers from WWII movies where soldiers nervously plan strategies as they listen to bombs drop overhead.  You know.  If that bunker were being run by hoarders.

This is not our basement.  But it's very, very close.

Daddy has set himself up this sweet little man-cave down there complete with seating (lawn chairs) and entertainment (computer and stereo) because it's the only place besides the bathroom where he can lock himself away and have something almost like peace.  You know.  Peace with the sound of bombs dropping overhead.  Well hell, I take whatever peace I can get so it's now my preferred getaway, too.

That's right.  After spending an assload of money on the upstairs, we grownups get to hang out in the messy, dusty, cobwebby, mildewy, dank (and sometimes dripping) basement.  And it is kind of fun.  Down there Daddy and I can watch grownup TV, drink a beer, and talk about our day uninterrupted.  For just a little while I can pretend I don't hear the screaming.

To keep the kids from coming down there and bothering us I told them that the basement was full of huge bitey-spiders that would eat them.  After spending some significant time down there myself I realize I should have just told them the truth.  We have these ginormous, prehistoric-looking centipedes that you could put a leash on and train to do tricks.  They are mother-fucking scary.

I call him  Hand Banana.

They are so BIG!  My Gawd!  And they are not shy like their cuter, smaller counterparts that venture upstairs at night from time to time.  These things are ballsy.  Once, as I was walking up the stairs from the basement, I was sliding my hand along the banister like you do when you climb stairs. When I got to the top I put my hand down, full force, gripping hard onto the banister....and right on top of Hand Banana (EW!!!!).  Most insects would have been crushed or severely maimed by this.  He was merely stunned.  He shook his head, reared up on forty or so of his hind legs and glared at me.

"Tonight.  You."

Then he turned around and scuttled back downstairs.  It took me a long, long time to get over that, but it wasn't enough to deter me from seeking refuge from my kids.  When it comes down to a choice between taking a break from the constant bickering, screaming and pestering or snuggling with Hand Banana I say, "Who's Mommy's horrifyingly ugly, multi-pedal monstrosity?  You are!  You are!  Yes, you are!"

(Monster pics are from here and here.  Living room and basement are from here and here respectively.)

Tuesday 23 August 2011

Because You Asked For It: What Would Jesus Do?

Source: Child Central

1st grader acting very badly.  christian home!

What do I do???  My 7 year old is lieing, stealing from classmates, hurting friends, telling them she's going to beat up their dads.  She's been in the office several times, she knows better, knows shes acting badly, and is sorry, but seems to get mad and angry ad forgets the rules and is just plain mean!  She does ok at home, but is in constant trouble at the store, church friends houses and at school, Her father and i talk to her, read her the bible, spanking does not seem to bother her more than an hour or so after, she's in trouble again..........What do we do?


Dear Traci,

Seeing as how none of those rude women responding to your problem were willing to give you the uniquely Christian advice you were looking for, I felt bad and wanted to help.  It must be frustrating to want Christ-centered parenting advice only to be given all kinds of useless suggestions about "behavioural problems" and "pediatric specialists".  Though I myself am not a Christian, I have read the Bible so I will do the best I can.

I've been told by many good Christian friends of mine that when they are in doubt about what they should do in a situation they ask the question, "What would Jesus do?"

I'm pretty sure that Jesus would hit your daughter more.  Because Paul says we have to obey the law (Romans 13:1) you won't be able to hit her as hard as she needs or deserves.  Instead you are going to have to spank her every hour on the hour, just to prevent her from such willful and deliberate sin as you described (Prov. 23:14).  The consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23), so it seems to me (and I'm sure Jesus would agree) that this is the best possible way for you to love your daughter. 

But is hitting her enough?

Her recidivism rate says not.  And so wouldn't Jesus want to instill in your daughter a proper, mind-numbing fear of God?  You say you read the Bible to your daughter, but have you read all of it?  Because I did and I gotta tell you, it horrified me!  Even though I'm a non-Christian I've been trying to obey all the rules anyway, just in case.  Most Christian parents I know stick to the teachings of Jesus, meek and mild, but that's not enough because maybe they won't realize that someday, when we least expect it (Matt. 24:36), He is coming back with a sword in His mouth and His eyes on fire, ready to kick some ass (Rev. 1:14,16).

Like this, only more terrifying.

Jesus says everyone needs to be ready for that moment at all times (Matt. 24: 42-51).   The Bible says that Jesus loves children (Mark 10:13-16) so I feel confident that He would be all about beating her often and scaring the shit out of her.  If that fails it's worse than you thought.  That's when Jesus would have to cast out her demons (Mark 9:17-26).  I hope you know a good exorcist.

                                                                          -Mommy Rotten

(Click here for more Lego interpretations of the Bible)

Monday 22 August 2011

How to Look Like a Super Mom at Half the Price!

It's time for a little more help from Mommy Rotten on how to front like you have your shit together when you really don't.  There is this phenomenon everyone is talking about called the Super Mom.  She is a mythical creature, an archetype, a standard by which all mothers are judged...and found wanting.  All we can really hope for is to come close.  I know some of you will say, "But I've seen the Super Mom!  She goes to the same park/school/daycare I go to."  To you I say, "It was a trick!  Don't be fooled!  She is nothing but smoke and mirrors."  Because the truth is, if you go peeling a little at the edges you'll find a woman who is barely keeping a grip on her sanity.

The mistake that most moms make, including the Super Moms, is that they get indoctrinated into a parenting philosophy like it were some kind of religious cult.  Once in, they belligerently defend their faith while trying to live up to its impossible and unrealistic standards.  The only difference between you and the Super Mom is that she does it better than you while paying a price you wouldn't be willing to pay.  You, on the other hand, have either given up on that bullshit completely or are pretending to still have faith, while at night you are wracked with guilt over all of your terrible short-comings and your certain place in Hell.

Well, sleep easy Mommies because you can look just like a Super Mom at only half the price!  The problem you've had before is that you were doing everything ass-backwards.  You got yourself involved in some kind of parenting cult because you thought it sounded nice, not because it's a good fit for you, your kids, or your lifestyle.  That's crazy!  No wonder you failed!

I discovered that the best thing to do is just whatever the hell you want.  Then go do a little research and find whatever bullshit you can to back up your decisions. Believe me, there is an over-zealous movement behind just about every parenting decision you could imagine.  Attachment parenting, free-range parenting, authoritative parenting, permissive parenting, spiritual parenting, tiger mothering,  etc.  And there is dogma floating around for any parenting choice you could make whether it's about nutrition, discipline, education or toileting.  To help, all of these systems have statistics and professional quacks giving their stamp of approval that you are doing the right thing.

Just about every parenting choice I have made was out of laziness.

When I said, "I'm just waiting for him to show signs that he's ready for toilet training" what I meant was "It's too hard to toilet train a kid under the age of three and I just can't be bothered dealing with all the laundry."

When I said, "I think free-range parenting is a great way to build a child's confidence and self-esteem" what I meant was "I'm too lazy to get his brother dressed and walk three blocks to pick him up from his friend's house."

When I said, "Co-sleeping with your baby reduces the risk of SIDS, night terrors and the stress that comes with too much crying" what I meant was "I'm too fucking tired to get up several times a night for feedings and I just need some sleep so I can handle this new baby without crying non-stop."

Sometimes people tell me that they think I'm a Super Mom.  How that makes me laugh!  I just happen to be good at bullshitting my way through it.

Wednesday 17 August 2011

Because You Asked For It: Your Baby's an Attention Whore

This week in Because You Asked For It:

Source: Inspired Parenting Tips


I was wondering do you have any tips, my baby boy Max is five months old, and he is only happy if me or my partner are in his face playing or he is being carried.

He has every toy you can imagine and we have hours of fun time, bath time and book time also we have 5 classes a week baby sensory and music classes, and he also sees friends too.

Even if he could sit for five minutes while I cook dinner would be great.  I have tried going in and out of the room so he knows I am coming back.  I also carry him in a sling.

I know he is only a baby but this is being silly now if I am not in his eye-sight he cries.  Once I pick him up is is so happy crying stops straight away, he is also breast fed and wakes up at least 9 times (I counted last night) for a cuddle and feed.  He has been in his own room from about 7 weeks old.

Help me figure out my little monkey!


Dear Paula,

Wow, that sounds exhausting!  Between all the playing, holding, carrying, classes and friends you hardly have any time for meaningful punctuation, nevermind five minutes to cook dinner.

Have you considered the possibility that your baby might be an attention whore?  Babies can be assholes that way.  It's all about them all the time and they think the whole world revolves around them.  Feed me!  Wipe my ass!  Entertain me!  As long as you give in to this crap it will never stop.  It's hard to say how this happens.  He could have been born that way or maybe his friends are a bad influence on him.  But look how he's got you wrapped around his tiny finger!

What you need is your iPod.  I know I can't live without mine.  Whenever you want to carve out a few minutes of Mommy time between fun time, bath time and book time just put little Max in a safe place, stick the earphones in your ears, and pump up the volume.  That way your baby can scream his head off and you won't have to listen to it.  When you're done you can come back to him and tell him, "It's not all about you, you know!"

For the night time hours and those frequent feedings get yourself one of those hamster bottles, fill it with breast milk and attach it to the bars of the crib.  An instant feed-on-demand-self-serve station.  If you wrap it in one of your old shirts he might never notice the difference and you can get some better sleep.

And boy, do you need it because you couldn't have been thinking clearly when you signed up for all those expensive classes.  FYI you can play Bach and massage your baby for free at home.

                                                                              -Mommy Rotten

Monday 15 August 2011


Giving a child good discipline is work.  You have to dream up the appropriate consequences.  You have to give the long-winded lecture aimed at driving the message home.  You need to make sure to enforce those consequences and very often this means that you are the one to suffer.  I hate having to discipline my kids but not disciplining them is much more work because then they'd be impossible to live with.

With Frick's ADHD this often means that he is experiencing discipline for the same offense over and over again.  He has this difficulty with applying past experience to present situations.  He spent the entire ages of five and six washing his crayon markings off the walls and furniture.  And I had to stand there and make sure he did it.  I was going crazy with it, even taking away all of his crayons at times (but then he'd get his hands on pens which is even harder or impossible to wash off).  This is just an example of a typical disciplinary situation amongst hundreds.  It's extra frustrating knowing it takes ten times longer than normal to correct negative behaviour and it only ever feels completely futile when you're living it.

Lucky for me things are finally looking up!  I cannot tell you how happy I am.  Frick is now ten and he is old enough to start doing useful stuff around the house and I can use that to my personal advantage while disciplining him in the most pain free (for me) way.

Up until now I have had to go hunting for my dishes.  I would have washed all the dishes in the kitchen only to find that half of them were still missing.  By the time I find them, they've been gone without my knowledge for so long they have cultivated penicillin.  He has this inability to bring his dishes to the kitchen when he's done with them and he somehow manages to eat all over the house.  I tried getting him to clean up the nastiest dishes but then he was getting the idea that as long as he washed his own dishes he could leave them stinking and attracting vermin wherever he liked.  Given that we are simultaneously dealing with meal-moths, ants, fruit flies and mice this is not exactly working for me.

One day I woke up to my messy house and was fed up with how my life seemed like a constant drudge of picking up after people who never pick up after themselves.  I told Frick that because he left his dishes lying around he would have to do a whole load of dishes, not just his own.  And just like that, I didn't have to wash my dishes that morning.  It was awesome.

"That's right, Mister.  From now on when you leave your dishes lying around you're gonna have to wash all the dirty dishes.  And that's final!"

So now, he has sufficient incentive to bring his dishes to the kitchen.  If he does, then I don't have to go all over the house for my plates and if he doesn't then I don't have to wash dishes at all.  Win-win. The best part is that just like with the crayons it's going to be a long time before he gets it.  If I'm lucky, maybe a couple of years.

These days I no longer wash dishes.  I just let them sit until Frick leaves his plate in the living room.  He complains that I should help him and remind him about his plate but then, why would I do that?

Thursday 11 August 2011

Because you Asked For It: Bad Words

This week in Because You Asked For It:

Source: Child Central

My four year old son just recently began asking the same question over and over again throughout the day.  He'll ask, "Did I just say a bad word?"  I don't hear him say anything but then he'll just keep asking the question throughout the day no matter what my response is.  I've replied to him and ignored him, but nothing seems to work.  He just recently started preschool after staying home with me since he was born.  I recently had to start working.  I pay a lot of attention to him when we're at home together, so I don't know what the deal is, but it worries me.  Someone please help.


Dear Stephanie,

I went through this exact same thing with Frick when he was four.  He repeated a four letter word I said his father said and was told that he shouldn't say it because it was a bad word.  This was the first time he had ever encountered the concept of "good" and "bad" words.  He got all worked up because he felt like he just didn't know which ones were good and which ones were bad so he kept asking that question every time he said any word.  And sometimes he would ask that question if he was just thinking about a word.  It used to drive me nuts!

The only responsible thing a mother can do in a situation like this is to educate her child about the bad words.  All of them.  This way the child will be able to answer the question "Did I just say a bad word?" themselves.  First you ease them in with the soft/religious swears like "damn" or "goddamnit" or "hell".  Next come the medium/toilet/body part swears such as "piss", "asshole" or "shitty asshole".  Then you should be ready to move on to the many grammatical uses of the word "fuck" (noun, verb, adjective, adverb), the possible prefixes and suffixes such as in the cases of "dumbfuck", "fuckery" or "fuckity" and how to insert between syllables as in "fan-fucking-tastic".  You finish up your lesson by taking all of these words and applying them in new and innovative ways.

(eg.) "What the sweet-monkey-balls-christ is up with this dumb-fuckery?"

I know this will be difficult for you, but it is best for your child.  Not only will you have solved the problem of the annoying question but you will have significantly enriched your child's vocabulary.  If you don't do this you could very well end up being like this woman.  Believe me, nobody wants that.  Nobody.

                                                                            -Mommy Rotten

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Sins of an Expectant Mother

Pregnancy is a hell of a thing.  You basically lose control, and sometimes ownership, of your own body.  Your hormones are all over the place, there's all kinds of things you're not allowed to do anymore and everybody suddenly seems to think it is okay to touch, nay rub and massage, your belly.  Which, by the way, is very creepy.  I hear some women are into it but I am not one of those women. 

Through my pregnancies that loss of control over myself manifested itself in small rebellious ways.  For example, you are not supposed to consume anything that might harm your baby.  And, should you forget, there are people around who will make absolutely sure that never happens.

You'd think this isn't a big deal until you're at Starbucks and they're giving you decaf even though you ordered caffeinated because you know there's nothing wrong with the odd cup of coffee and you haven't had one in weeks. Then as you leave you hear them muttering about how much more they care about your baby than you do.  (Judgmental bitches, see if I ever drink your overpriced coffee again.  Can't wait until you're pregnant working night shifts, tell me what I can and can't drink.) 

So it's true that on the rare occasions I ordered coffee I may have been a little, um, overly defensive when I said things like, "Yeah, I'm drinking coffee!  You wanna fight about it?  Huh?  Huh? C'mon!  Let's go!"

As a pregnant woman you are not supposed to want anything other than a healthy baby.  To demand anything more than that is a supreme act of selfishness and ingratitude which must not go unpunished.  You are only permitted to want a healthy living baby and no more.  You must be happy with whatever you get and then shut the fuck up.

The first time I was pregnant I just had to know what I was having.  I didn't have a preference either way at the time, it was just that when I suggested I might want to find out a lot of people expressed disappointment that I didn't want it to be a "surprise".  As if being knocked up wasn't enough of a surprise.  Even after it had been confirmed that I was having a boy, all I heard about were all the times ultrasounds had been wrong.  It was almost as though it was wrong of me to know anything about it so they had to create reasonable doubt.

The second time, I was totally happy for either a boy or a girl until my family decided they wanted me to have a girl.  They said I already had a boy and I simply must have one of each or my life would not be complete.  Didn't I want a little dress-up doll with pretty hair to brush?  Everyone wanted a grand-daughter, a little princess to spoil, and it was up to me to supply them with one.  All of a sudden the very idea of having a daughter chafed at me. 

I noticed how much I liked mothering Frick with all his boy-isms.  I loved his destructive little play games and his love for all things gross.  I loved his boyish energy and his little boy toys.  Having another boy would be so practical in terms of hand-me-downs.  I realized that out of all the the little bums I had changed over the years both as a babysitter and a mother, I had never diapered a little girl.  I only ever had brothers and boy cousins.  It seemed as though God wanted me to mother boys.  It was my destiny.

My family did everything they could to get me to produce a girl, as if hoping and wishing had some kind of influence.  There were comments on how high or low I was carrying.  There were speculations about my morning sickness and heartburn.  The fact that this pregnancy was so different from the first one seemed to indicate to everyone I would be having a girl.  I came right out and said, "No way.  If it's a girl I'm sure I'll be happy about it but damnit, I want a boy!"

In fact not only did I want a boy, but I wanted that boy to have the dark, curly, jewish hair of my mother-in-law, and his father's blue eyes.  I already had a baby that looked just like me so I wanted a copy of Daddy and I wasn't shy about saying so.  I could tell they were already feeling sorry for the blonde little girl I was surely carrying in my ungrateful womb.  They were ever so smug as they said, "You never know..."

So I guess I couldn't help it when I finally got the ultrasound results.  I actually crowed.

"Yeeeeah!  It's official, I'm havin' a boy, bitches!  In your face!"

Don't worry.  No one's feelings got hurt.  Turned out that my cousins were pregnant at the same time and they had a beautiful baby girl, thus taking the pressure off me.  But surely I deserved divine punishment for making such specific demands about my unborn baby (not to mention being kind of a bitch), right?

After a quick five hour labour, Frack was born perfectly, perfect.  He has beautiful blue eyes like his father and wild, dark curly hair like his grandmother.  I got everything I wanted and no one, including all those wishing for a girl, is sorry he's a boy.  Sometimes you just get lucky.

Monday 1 August 2011

Frack's First Bully

Most days I hate the park but I take my kids there anyway because they need it much in the same way that dogs need to be walked every day.  They gotta get their exercise and pee against a tree or they'll be driving you nuts all night long.  Today was no different.

I was sitting under a tree watching Frack run around on the equipment and passing the time trying to come up with new ways I could make this ordeal a little more fun for myself when I noticed a little girl, about four years old, come up to him and talk to him.  I thought this might be nice, maybe they'll play together.  In her hand she held a little twig with some leaves on it.  As Frack decided to climb one of the ladders leading up to the slide I saw her brush the twig against his knee.

Frack reacted with a loud "Ow!" and rubbed the spot.  He walked all over the playground for a while doing that.  This is a typical reaction.  He does the same thing when Frick gives him even the lightest of touches.  I wasn't buying it.

A little bit later Frack was climbing the ladder again.  The little girl was at the top of the ladder and when he got there she refused to let him pass.  When he tried to get around her she put her hand on him and made as if to push him, but then seemed to think better of it.  Uh oh.  My mommy-senses were tingling.

I looked around to see if I could identify her parents.  They didn't seem to be around.  I decided to watch her more closely.  I strongly suspected some kind of bullying but I prefer to quietly observe first before getting involved.  Mostly because I want to see how my kid is going to handle the situation.  More often than not kids work things out for themselves saving me the trouble of intervening.  Also, it's kind of like watching reality TV.  Who knows what will happen next?

She sat at the top of the slide and when Frack tried to use the slide she wouldn't let him.  This is one of those playgrounds with multiple slides so at first Frack solved his problem by swiftly choosing the other slide.  The look of triumph on his face when he realized he had outsmarted her was gold.  I could have sworn I heard him say, "Ha ha!"  But she was blocking his very favourite slide and he would not be satisfied with the other one for long.

So he appealed to authority.

"Mommy! Sah-ide?"  (Which is Frackish for "Can I go down the slide?")

When I told him yes, everyone can use the slide she reluctantly let him pass.  But as he went down something happened that I couldn't see and he ended up at the bottom complaining loudly about his ear.  He went to play somewhere else and she followed him.

She got right in his face with her arms folded across her chest and a belligerent smirk on her face.  She was saying something to him very softly.  I could only hear enough of it to know it wasn't English but I was pretty sure she was mean-girling him.  Her body language and the sing-song tone in her voice held all the characteristics.

Okay, you little bitch.  It's on.  Nobody, and I mean nobody intimidates my kid but me!

I stood up.  She saw me and quickly dropped her expression and body language, morphing herself into a sweet little girl.  She walked away.  I sat back down.  Frack got to play undisturbed for a while but I was watching her and it was clear to me that she was bored.  And I knew what kind of fun she was into.

She kept watching Frack playing happily by himself.  When she saw him climbing the ladder for the slide again she hurried on over and followed him.  When he went down the slide she followed too quickly after, slamming her feet into his back, shoving him off the bottom of the slide and then she hopped off and stomped on his hand.  Frack cried out in bewildered pain.

"Hey!  That's not very nice!  Where is your mommy!"  I shout angrily.  She doesn't answer, and I'm pretty sure she does not speak English but I am also equally sure she knew exactly what I was saying.  She threw a handful of wood chips in Frack's face and took off.  I followed.  Boy, did I follow.  I followed her over hill and dale.  I was beginning to think that she had come to this park all by herself somehow when finally, in the distance, I saw a couple sitting on a blanket in the grass and behind some trees.  She ran over to them and sat down and promptly began to look innocent.

"Excuse me.  Is this your little girl?  I just spent the last half an hour watching her bully my son."

Let me be clear.  I believe, and I am sure most people can back me up on this, that the only appropriate response to this revelation is "I see.  Thank you for letting me know.  I am so sorry for this and I can assure you it will be dealt with immediately" (the last word spoken through gritted teeth as dagger eyes are directed towards the offending child.).

This was what I got:

"Oh yeah, she's bad.  Sorry, but she just got here from Montreal."

Montreal?  Are you kidding me?  What the sweet fuck is going on in Montreal that comes even close to explaining this assholery, hmmm?  Also, if you know this is a problem with her then why the hell are your asses parked a country mile away from the damned playground where she is playing?  I'm all for free-range parenting and everything but she is four years old.  You could not even see the playground from where they were sitting.

"Look, I get it if she has 'problems' but that's why the adults are supposed to be around to correct this shit when it happens.  I'm a parent, too and my kids try to get away with all kinds of crap when I'm not looking so I kind of want to know when they're being assholes, get it?" (pointing at Frack) "I mean, she stomped on his fingers and threw wood chips in his face, y'know?"

They just smile at me and shrug their shoulders.  Kids will be kids, the shrug says.

Just.  Wow.


Summer Vacation

Who doesn't love summer?  Sunshine, swimming, backyard barbecues, garden fresh tomatoes.  I love, love, love summer.  This year I love summer more than I have ever loved it before.  Why?  Because this year, for the first time since I had children, I am exempt from the dreaded trip to the cottage.  As we speak Frick and Daddy are away in the Great North and I am sitting here enjoying my coffee in relative peace as Frack plays quietly with his action figures.  And it is awesome!

The Rotten family happens to be fortunate enough to own some of the most beautiful cottage country in the Canadian Shield.  Imagine large hunks of rose and amber granite jutting out of the earth covered in grey-green lichens. Ancient oak and pine forests with thick, unspoiled carpets of emerald green moss, cheerful little red amanite mushrooms growing at their roots.  Deep, cold lakes forged by glaciers thousands of years ago and teaming with fish.  Every time I look at it I am deeply proud to be Canadian.  But I fucking hate it there.

I know it seems pretty ungrateful.  Having access to this is a privilege that very few can afford.  Daddy's family graciously lets us use the property for free provided we are willing to do some cleaning and maintenance while we're there.  Sounds like a sweet deal, right?

It starts with the drive.  In order to access such primeval beauty you have to drive pretty far from civilization.  And with two kids under the age of ten that means about four to eight hours of all the classics: car sickness, bathroom stops, escape attempts, small fires and the incessant fighting, whining and complaining that goes on once you've run out of junkfood to pacify them.  By the time we finally get to the cottage we are all tired, pissed off and in sore need of a drink.

At the cottage there are no computers, video games or TV shows which makes this a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time together as a family.  It also means that, as parents, you are solely responsible for their entertainment at all times.  The combination of these things pretty much guarantees an entire week filled with more fighting, whining and complaining and, if you're not vigilant, acts of vandalism.  When they're like that I would love to send them off to find fun on their own but outside isn't safe.

The cottage itself is nested into a sort of cliff with a fairly steep drop directly into the lake.  I have to resist the urge to force them to wear their life preservers at all times, even in their sleep.  It would be so easy for Frack to take a fall on the path and end up tumbling down into that lake.  They can't run around on the deck because the only thing protecting them from accidentally falling off of it into the lake is some flimsy chicken wire.

There are no beaches with sand for them to dig in.  There are no playgrounds.  There are no other kids.  They can't go for a walk because they could get lost in the woods.  Unless there is an adult to take them around and show them fun they are pretty much limited to playing inside the cottage or the screened in porch.  Then why don't we adults spend time with our kids entertaining them?

We do.  But we are living up there for a week which means cooking, washing dishes from cooking, cleaning the kitchen from cooking, making beds, laundry, and then cleaning up after the mess the kids make or getting them to clean it.  Just like at home, our time for them is limited.

The maintenance is often minor.  For the big jobs the menfolk of the Rotten family usually plan a getaway that will also involve some hunting, some grilling of meat, and some beer-drinking.  But sometimes an emergency comes up, like the time the septic tank broke, and you wind up spending your vacation digging a trench in the woods for a new septic tank while your sweat attracts every blood-feasting winged insect for fifty miles.  And then finding new and creative ways to safely shit until it's sorted out.

But at night, once the dishes are all washed and the kids are in bed, the grownups get a chance to have some alone time.  The moon is shining down on the lake.  The loons are laughing eerily on the water as it softly laps against the docks.  We sit by candlelight having a glass of wine, enjoying the beauty.   Daddy gives me his come-hither look and I go to kiss his neck....and get a mouthful of Deet.

In order to survive in a land where the insects have feasted primarily on the thick hides of deer and moose for millenia, and are therefore apt to take a chunk of human flesh away with them, you have to douse yourself religiously in Muskol.  Like Jersey Shore/Axe Body Spray dousing.  So you both end up killing your mood as you wallow in your own citronella reek.  Yeah, this is no vacation.  This is hell.

It is beyond me why Daddy insists on going there every year, but he seems to love it.  This year I begged him to not make me go.  I just can't stand it anymore! This year while he is up there with Frick, I am staying here with Frack, my working toilet, potable tap-water and decent fucking city-mosquitoes I can keep at bay with a minimum of effort.  Frack has no one to fight with, I've done no housework and we eat whatever can be cooked on the barbecue and so far?  Best.  Vacation.  Ever.