Archive for the 'EastWest Girls' Category

01
Oct
08

Careful what you say …

When my Girl from the West was a babe in arms, I cooed a promise into one of her little pink ears:
“Mommy wants you to grow up to be whoever you want to be. I won’t be one of those mean mommies who forces her daughter to vote Republican or chastises her for not choosing the convent as a career choice.”

If my baby grew up to be a bald, lesbian shot putter, that would be OK. If she aspired to be a minimalist performance artist who wore nothing but sticks and grass and chose to live in a refrigerator box in the town square, great.
It’s not that I want her to grow into someone whose lifestyle puts her at risk for ridicule and persecution. But I told myself I’d let the blossom unfold as nature intended. No making a righty out of a lefty or anything.

However, life doesn’t always play out that way, does it?

Say your babe in arms edges closer to adulthood and suddenly begins taking on all of the characteristics you abhor? Say you are an atheist and she decides to become a Born-Again Christian. Say you are vegetarian and she decides to take up bow hunting? Say you are artsy and edgy and she prefers to try out for the cheer squad?

Get the drift here?

I see my baby spinning out of my orbit so fast I’m not sure I got the flight plan before she launched.

I can’t help but recall my teen years. What hopes did my parents have for me? What was the sound of those dreams as they collided with the reality of who I was becoming? I know one of the biggest collisions had to do with my continued failure to subscribe to their religion. To this day, almost 30 years after leaving their church, I still get subliminal messages that they are not pleased, thank you very much.

Thankfully I have a number of friends who’ve traveled this bumpy road of parenthood. Their advice to me is to stop asking so many questions already! I’ll get more answers if I listen.

So this is my challenge of late: I must cross the razor’s edge. I must keep some distance, lead by example, have eyes in the back of my head and keep my flippin’ mouth shut — most of the time.

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16
Sep
08

The scent of a stay-at-home woman

EXHIBIT A:

THE BACKSTORY:
A woman fancies an afternoon out with her toddler girl. Rather than weigh herself down with the shabby diaper bag and bulky stroller, she opts for a stylish shoulder bag big enough for her things and a few toddler essentials. She imagines a stroll in the park, a visit to the library, a quick swing through the nearby shopping district before picking up a bottle of wine on the way home.

THE INCIDENT:
 “Mommy, loook!” cries a pigtailed 5-year-old tugging her mother’s shirt and pointing at us. “She’s not wearing pants!”

I force a closed-lip smile at pigtail’s mother, whose gaze follows her daughter’s extended finger directly down to my baby girl’s bare legs, and then slowly shifts up to me. We are waiting for the elevator by the children’s section of the neighborhood library. It can’t come fast enough. Behind us, the wheels of a custodian’s cart screech the arrival of the clean-up crew at the women’s bathroom.

I hoist a clear plastic bag in my right hand up to the mother’s eye level, revealing the missing pants and underwear, both splattered with fresh diarrhea. I hope she got a good whiff. I hope it answers her unasked question about why my child is at the public library in a shirt, pull-up and shoes. Because, you know, I’m not trying to start a new fashion trend.

After a silent elevator ride up to the main floor, pigtails and mother cut a hasty retreat lest any germs latch onto them. I grab Girl from the East’s hand, shift the pile of picture books, above-mentioned bag of defiled clothing and my purse and head for the door.
We both move quickly on our walk of shame down a brick-paved path past gardens and park benches populated with lunchtimers, readers and gawkers.
In the punishing light of high noon all I can think is: I hope I don’t have crap on my clothes.

THE FINDINGS:
There is nothing “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” about realizing that you have only two tissues in your stylish shoulder bag, not nearly enough to combat the very unstylish diarrhea running down your toddler’s leg.
There is nothing glamorous about an unexpected, explosive illness in a bathroom that is a paper-free operation (hand-dryers only).
There is a high level of “Desperate Housewives” in realizing you sacrificed practicality for style by leaving the diaper bag at home, which contained wet wipes, spare clothes, diapers, hand sanitizer and plastic bags. Even more desperate, having to ‘fess up to the library staff and beg for paper towels and a plastic bag.
In the end, you realize there is no sexy way to walk out of a building with a half-naked child and a see-through bag of poopy clothes, both leaving a scent in their wake …
… the scent of a stay-at-home woman.

CONCLUDING REMARKS: Thanks for visiting and reading my 100th post. This has been part of a larger celebration, Girls In Real Life, or G.I.R.L., put together by Marcy at The Glamorous Life. Join the party.

04
Sep
08

Oh, poop!

Took Girl from the East to the Detroit Zoo today for a play date with two other families. We had a great time strolling the now-deserted walkways and exhibits. The off season is the best for viewing and visiting this popular attraction.

At one point we entered the Australian Outback, in which you stroll a gravel path among the kangaroos and wallabies. There are no fences.

Girl from the East didn’t care about the kangaroos, who were all laying like lifeless lumps on the grass. She didn’t care about the wallabies poking around in the underbrush either. 

She was only interested in the gravel walkway, which she immediately began excavating. As she methodically reached down, scooped up handfuls of the brownish rock-dirt mix and walked a foot or two to redeposit the material, I saw a docent approaching us.

Uh-oh. 

Docent: Did you know that this trail is where the kangaroos leave their excrement? They don’t like it on the grass so they hop up to the path and do their business here. Just thought you’d like to know. Lots of bacteria in that gravel.

Me: Wonderful. Just wonderful.

 

***I’m not sure I believed him. Maybe he just didn’t like kids messing up the gravel path. But it was a tad humiliating to have this announced in front of other moms. As if I let my child play with kitty litter at home.****

15
Aug
08

Bye-bye, baby

When I dragged my carcass down the steps this morning (late night, friends, concert, etc.) I found four large white trash bags stuffed to the seams lined up in the front hallway.
To what do I owe this unsolicited gift? Christmas in August? One of the kids ran away but oops, forgot some of their stuff? Someone felt guilty and made up for all the forgotten birthdays?
Nah. Girl from the West decided since she’s starting high school in a few weeks that it’s time to remove ALL TRACES OF CHILDHOOD CHILDISHNESS from her bedroom. All of it. I’m envisioning something that took all of two minutes to complete.
Pull drawer out of dresser.
Turn drawer upside down over trash can.
Wait as flotsam and jetsam topple, pour and plummet to their death.
Upright freshly empty drawer.
Replace.
All performed, no doubt, while texting three friends on her cell phone. All performed without a shred of nostalgia or remorse.
And why, do you ask, did Girl from the West not just deposit the trash bags in the trash receptacles in the garage? Good question, Internets.
Here’s the thing: There’s a track record here and it’s not good. There’s a history of finding things in the trash that shouldn’t have been tossed. Like entire packages of computer paper. Like brand-new clothes. And gifts.
So, Girl from the West knows better. She bags it up and I sort it out.
I begin unpacking and sorting contents into various piles.
Several times during this process, I stand up and stomp into her room.
“What the hell?” I shout, waving brand-new notebooks, bundles of pencils and pens and new books. Also, there are travel-size containers (full, never used) of shampoo, hand lotion and cotton swabs and jewelry.
“Mother,” I’m informed with cool distain, “I don’t want them. Chill out.”
“Chill out? I’ll tell you what I’ll chill out. The amount of money I spend on you,” I shout back. I’m losing it here now, because I know within a week or two will come the barrage of requests.
“I need new pens and pencils and notebooks and Q-tips and travel-size shampoo.”
But she won’t want what she threw out because the pens and pencils have flowers and smiley faces on them; the notebooks will be the wrong color or be “too sparkly”; and the shampoo and Q-tips will be the wrong brand for a high-school student.
I know it. I hate it. But it’s her and I have to deal.
I end up so worked up I have to take a brisk walk. Along the way I dissect the issue.
What is really bothering me?
Is it that she’s wasteful and doesn’t understand the value of things?
Yes. But there’s more.
How can she be so callous, throwing away jewelry and other items that were gifts? It’s not that I don’t understand her feelings about some things, but holy catfish, have a little discretion.
Then it hits me. (This is where you can imagine the sound of tires squealing on the pavement and me coming to a screeching halt in a wake of smoke and flames.)
I don’t want her to grow up.
All those bags of Junie B. Jones books remind me of the nights we don’t sit up reading before her bedtime anymore. All the little craft kits, the framed kitty-cat pictures, the bead sets, are all things we shopped for together, worked on during summer breaks. Haven’t done that in a few summers. The sparkly notebooks, the smiley faced pens? No big deal to me. But to a high school freshman, probably the kiss of death.
While I’ll forgive her for growing up, it may take more work coaxing my wallet to open up.

07
Aug
08

U-tube, u-rule

In a world drowning in useless celebrity gossip, it’s always nice to find something useful in all that garbage to apply to everyday life. Take this little nugget:

“Can you imagine being 22 and having your parents know everything about you?” says Lauren Conrad of the TV show “The Hills.” “Literally, my mom can go on the Internet and find out where I went last night, who I was with. I mean, there are no secrets!”

Indeed. Earlier this summer, Girl from the West went away for a month as part of a musical ensemble. While she was gone I received a few e-mails that detailed some things about the host families with whom she was staying, a few random pictures of historic buildings, and kids in uniforms posed all sweet and proper in front of water fountains.
But I was dying to know: What really happened?
Once she returned, we received little in the way of trip summaries, observations or gossip.
We took advantage of jet lag to get her to show us her digital pictures (pre-edit, like I said “jet lag”). But once she was coherent, the lips were zipped and the files were deleted.
The most intriguing piece of news we gathered was that in all of Western Europe, there is not one jar of peanut butter.
Well that certainly justified the $5K price tag for her adventure.

I compared notes with other parents; they all said the same thing.

Recognizing my frustration, one Internet-savvy parent suggested I check Youtube for further details.
Lo and behold, after typing in the necessary search terms, I was suddenly staring at buried treasure. There were numerous concert clips, jam sessions and a few odd things I’m not sure what to make of. Nothing risque or awful, to be sure. But still …
This got me thinking. Youtube has changed everything. The Internet in general has changed everything, thanks to Al Gore, we all know this.
All this sharing of the good, the bad, and the ugly of today’s teens may make them more accessible to one another,  but it also leaves a pretty nice electronic paper trail for moms and dads who want to know: what’s my little girl/boy up to when he/she is out of the house?

So, moms and dads, check it out. Navigate your way around Youtube for some field research on your kids. It helps to know some of their nicknames, slang and code words for things, since much of it will not be listed under actual names and places. But then again, it never hurts to try.

For once, I’m glad I’m not any younger.

22
Jun
08

boobies

This evening the entire family gathered around the table and smothered our faces in fresh, ripe young …. boobies.

Sometimes, when we are feeling decadent, we like to squirt whipped cream on them for flavor enhancement. Yesterday we mixed it up with a scoop of ice cream and a dollop of heavy cream. We just can’t seem to get enough.

Please don’t think I’ve stooped to a new low in order to attract attention to this humble little blog.

What I’m really talking about are these:

Not these:

For god’s sake, what kind of people do you think we are anyhow? I’ll have you know we are vegetarians!

Anyone who’s maneuvered a pre-schooler through the language development phase knows that simple, simple words are fertile territory for producing “Oh.No.” moments. We had just gotten past the knife, “fuck” and spoon cycle. And the we-tell-time-by-looking-at-the “cock” stage. And now here we are, fumbling in the “booby” zone.

The “boobies” thing is out of control.

Back story: Somewhere along the way, we started sprinkling blueberries on her yogurt. These quickly were renamed “booobies.” Then raspberries came into season. Still, it was “booobies.” Now, it’s strawberry time and the passion is mounting.

It’s gotten so that I run through the produce section and quickly grab a package of strawberries before Girl from the East can spot the mounds of red berries and bellow: “BOOOBIES! MOMMA, ME WANT BOOOBIES.” for all the hear and process.

Redirect and correct, you say? We’ve slowly pronounced and enunciated the word strawberry to her. Over and over. It’s not working.

I pray for autumn.

08
Jun
08

Half-empty nest, sort of

After eight months of fund-raising (some of it quite hellish), preparation, and figuring out how to pack a month’s worth of stuff into one suitcase with a 30-pound weight limit

Girl from the West has finished life as a middle schooler and his headed overseas for lessons she doesn’t even know she’s going to learn.

MomZombie realizes she has some lessons of her own to learn. Like children drive you crazy every moment of the day, until they leave, then you cry and worry about every worst-case scenario involving international travel.