three minutes for your teeth
HALF A DOZEN YEARS OF WOW
Last Tuesday, we celebrated the six-year anniversary of the day life stopped being Good and started being Wicked Awesome, otherwise known as Nora’s adoption day. The day that an orphanage worker in a pink lab coat handed me a confused and runny-nosed baby, who stared at us in puzzlement for a few hours before deciding to make the best of it. We had her laughing by the end of that day. Not all adoption first-days go like that, which makes me have the paradoxical feeling of “lucky” plus “totally unqualified to comment on the more difficult parts of the attachment process.” This crazy-resilient kid ended up smoothing the way for us more than we did for her, which is just so weird.
Adoption anniversary was marred somewhat by the real world of school. At the end of the day Nora forgot her backpack inside the classroom, which was boneheaded of her but it happens. She remembered as soon as she got outside to meet her sitter, but the teacher said no, too bad, you cannot go back in the school and get it, not even in the company of your adult caretaker. The homework you won’t be able to do will be counted as late, and the remains of lunch can just fester.
Is this some sort of tactic to get my first-grader to learn the spelling words “arbitrary” and “capricious”? The teacher claimed it was a building-wide policy that no one can re-enter the school after the dismissal bell. Oh yeah? Next time she forgets her car keys in her desk, I hope the principal tells her the very same thing.
So because of this idiocy, my evening involved printing the math page from someone who had scanned and uploaded it to our classroom parent’s Yahoo group, talking Nora down from the ledge about the tragedy of the late homework (there were tears), cramming a lunch into a paper bag instead of a nice roomy lunchbox, and finding some sort of alternative knapsack in which to carry everything back to school. Not to mention much muttering to myself. I considered writing a letter to the teacher but couldn’t figure out how to not use the words “vindictive” and “bitchy” so I decided to have a glass of wine and let it go. Yes, teaching responsibility with natural consequences is a wonderful thing! On the other hand, maybe six-year-olds who actually want to do their homework could be allowed to correct their own minor mistakes!
GO AWAY DOGS
I do not love dogs. I have met nice dogs and there have been individual dogs I have enjoyed, but most dogs are not my cup of animal tea. I once took an internet quiz about what breed of dog would be best for me and, no kidding, the result was something like “you might want to consider a cat.”
A visit to my father-in-law’s farm did nothing to change my opinion. He has a very badly-behaved dog that runs half-wild in the woods, smells terrible, and tries to jump on and lick everyone he sees. After I witnessed the horse take a dump and this idiot dog run over and start to snack on the steaming pile, I picked up a large stick and resolved to beat the dog over the head with it if it tried to get anywhere near me. Luckily no beatdown was necessary, but I did throw a mild city-mouse fit and insist that the dog not be let back into the house for the remainder of our visit. I am sure everyone now thinks LT married a prissy fussbucket, but I consider it a small price to pay in exchange for not having a putrid furry beast lick me with its shit-covered tongue.
FINALLY WE MEET
My neighbors were over for drinks once and talk turned to the crackhead* that’s been walking our streets. Obvious loonies are somewhat rare in my neighborhood—there are a few disabled Orthodox Jews who seem to survive on handouts from their fellow Chosen, and Charlie rides my bus and swears a lot,** but nowhere near the level of crazy you find in some places. So I was surprised when my neighbors mentioned the woman who has been seen carrying a crack pipe, aggressively soliciting for sex, and yelling obscenities at people on the sidewalk. I was also somewhat miffed, frankly. I am a crazy-person magnet! How have I, of all people, managed to avoid the crackhead?
*If you use crack to the point where you wander the streets covered in burns and sores and you have food in your hair, you are a crackhead. If you suck dick for crack you are a crack whore. Let’s not turn this into another Holly Burns Bourgeois Guiltfest™. (The action happens in the comments.)
**I apologize for the use of “retarded” in that post, so you don’t need to email me again. It was 2004! Practically the Dark Ages, you know. (But soft! Irony awaits you! Read on!)
A few days later I was picking up some dry cleaning and there she was, just as described, with matted hair and a large stain on the back of her pants that I didn’t particularly like to think about, and she yelled, “Shut up, retard” (!) as I passed by. Huzzah! I have met the crackhead! And yes it’s very sad and I hope she gets the help that she needs etc. But the less-noble part of me is just pleased that I have finally seen the neighborhood crackhead of legend and lore, and also that she called me a retard.
READERS AND YELLERS
I have a mixed fascination with this New Yorker article about current trends in children’s books. On the one hand, the author definitely has a grumpy undercurrent of “kids these days,” which always makes me knee-jerk cranky. On the other hand, he is sort-of kind-of on to something there.
Really, I am not a fan of the “behavior books” in general. If you’re having a problem with tantrums or whining, I suppose seeking out picture books about it is one tactic, but there is something a little backhanded about seeking to instruct your child about basic behavior expectations through literature instead of through, you know, parenting. I’d feel like Chairman Mao or the Thought Police if I relied on books to convey all my attitudes about correct behavior. Books should be more fun than that.
Not to mention that the wrong book at the wrong time could give them Ideas. When Nora was a toddler, some well-meaning but misguided person gave her a book about not biting, which I promptly put in the giveaway pile because Nora had never bitten anyone in her life. Why would I read that to her? Pssst…guess what? If you get really mad you can BITE MOMMY!
On the other hand, this part of the article really resonated with me:
It’s possible to find something sinister in the effort to hide half your emotional spectrum from your children. Sometimes it might be a good thing for a kid to hear, instead of polite evasions, an honest, full-throated “Cut it out!”
Indeed. The few times in my life I have resolved to be extra-special Cartman’s-mom sweet to my kid, I have ended up losing it worse than if I had just reacted normally. I don’t think I’m all that unusual in that regard, either. And which is scarier: sugary-syrup mom who suddenly goes BATSHIT RAGEFUL, or a mom who gets irritated sometimes? You know, like a human?
WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?
In all probability you are not like me, but if you are you might just love this creepy/hilarious video from Massachusetts public access cable. Stick around until the end for the full I’m-losing-my-mind effect.
—mimi smartypants is just trying to eat a fish.