Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Man Boobs

Years ago I worked in a corporate office where we hardly ever saw the owner of the company, but one day the big cheese himself was coming in to crack the whip on us peons. My boss helpfully informed me how to recognize him: "He's the one with man boobs," she said. I giggled, quite sure she was exaggerating. But I stopped giggling when I met him and had to will my eyes to look up instead of down. I felt a little bad for him (you know, as bad as one can feel for a man whose cup size surpasses her own), and then I ate a brownie after lunch because I felt sure I needed a little extra fat to pad my own sad excuse for cleavage.

But, B-cup or not, he seemed masculine in every other respect. And I'm quite sure he had no plans to put his unfortunate assets to use. It's too bad the same cannot be said for the latest loon in the news, Swedish father Ragnar Bengtsson, who is determined to pump his breasts until they produce enough milk to breastfeed his future children.

Raise your hand if you just said, "Eeeeewwwwww!"

Bengtsson has no plans to use any type of hormonal therapy, but an endocrinologist at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm says it might be possible for him to produce a "drop or two" of milk after three or four months of pumping.

The full-time student is willing to pay the price for a chance at producing those little droplets even if it means pulling out the breast pump in the middle of a classroom lecture. " doesn't bother me if it makes people uncomfortable. If they have issues with it that's their problem," he says.

Yeah, it's just so petty and judgmental to get upset about the whirring of a breast pump drowning out a lecture on the theory of relativity, never mind having to avert your eyes as the guy next to you is using machinery to suck his nipples all the way to Alaska.

Of course, Bengtsson could just take the Karolinska endocrinologist's advice to offer his milkless breast to any of his future offspring: "Men don't need to strive to produce milk but they should take the opportunity to get closer to their child by offering them their breasts in the same way as women," she said.

And I thought that whole breastfeeding doll thing was weird.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I'm So Confused...

Mom and Dad keep talking about Mommy having two babies in her tummy. I'm not really sure what that means. Do I have two babies in my tummy? Maybe that's why I'm so hungry all the time, because I have to feed two babies too. I ate two hot dogs and a whole apple for lunch and was still hungry afterwards. And I keep waking up too early because I am so ready for breakfast.

Anyway, Mommy went to the doctor today and before she left she said the doctor would tell her if the babies were boys or girls. I know Mommy is a girl and Daddy and I are boys, but with some people it's really hard to tell just by looking at them. I'm not sure how the doctor could tell what the babies are when they are still inside Mommy's tummy. How do they see in there? I looked for a window on Mommy's tummy, but I didn't see one. This is all so confusing.

When Mommy got home from the doctor she had pictures of the babies! I wonder if she can put a camera in her belly button? Maybe I should try that. I love to play with my belly button. And the camera. The pictures are kind of funny though. I think they look like the TV screen when I hit the wrong button and it gets all fuzzy. But Mommy says the pictures are good enough to tell that I am going to have one brother and one sister!

Does anyone know what a sister is?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

On Race and Idiocy

Former President Jimmy Carter has condemned Rep. Joe Wilson's recent outburst ("You lie!") during President Obama's speech as being motivated by racism: “I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he is African-American," said Carter, adding, "Racism ... still exists and I think it has bubbled up to the surface because of a belief among many white people, not just in the south but around the country, that African-Americans are not qualified to lead this great country. It’s an abominable circumstance and grieves me and concerns me very deeply."

President Obama has since said that he doesn't believe Wilson's statement was motivated by racism, but that hasn't stopped people from throwing a fit over it - especially congress.

I agree with President Carter's assertion that "The president is not only the head of government, he is the head of state. And no matter who he is or how much we disagree with his policies, the president should be treated with respect." But it's funny how disingenuous these little statements of presidential support seem after eight years of Bush-trashing. No one seemed to be getting upset over Bush being called a liar over and over and over again. A religious nut. A dictator. A Nazi. Whatever. Since he was evil incarnate, no one seemed to care.

But if you have an honest disagreement with Obama, you are called a racist. It's the same problem with the gay marriage issue. If you oppose gay marriage you are a bigot - no ifs, ands or buts. Is this truly the way to have good and reasonable discussions of policy or law? If anyone who has an opposing opinion is demonized, how are we supposed make informed decisions? There are two sides to every story.

I don't recommend going about sharing your opinion the way Congressman Wilson did, but I can understand the pent-up frustration that led to his outburst. So why can't we acknowledge that his actions were inappropriate, let him apologize, and leave it at that?

The interesting thing since this Joe Wilson flap is the idiot behavior of Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards. Apparently Kanye (you remember Kanye, don't you?) was so perturbed over singer Taylor Swift winning Female Video of the Year over Beyonce's "Single Ladies" that he waltzed up to the stage and stole the microphone right out of Ms. Swift's hand as she was giving her acceptance speech. He then told the crowd that Beyonce's video deserved to win, leaving poor Taylor to stand there in stunned humiliation as the cameras panned away.

But, since Kanye West is black and Taylor Swift is white, everyone rightly assumed that he is just a jerk with a god complex who thinks his opinion is more important than anyone else's. No one reads into it any further than that (nor should they).

But, if you reversed the race of the two performing artists, can you imagine the outcry that would ensue? Headlines would scream, "Racist Outburst at the VMAs!" The entire world would be sent to sensitivity training and the jerk who caused the interruption in the first place would be demonized right off the billboard charts, having forever branded himself as a racist.

Instead, we roll our eyes and say, well, Kanye is Kanye. He is a jerk. End of story.

So, in the same vein, why can't we say that Joe Wilson's comment was inappropriate and leave it at that?

Great damage is done when honest disagreements of policy are branded as racist, sexist, or bigoted. Fear of a ruined reputation prevents good and decent people from voicing their opinions, standing up for their values, and challenging corruption and greed.

And no one wins when that happens.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Invasion of the Belly Touchers

Up until last week my belly was only big enough to draw cursory glances from other women, but it has now grown to the point that it is starting to exhibit that inexplicable magnetic pull that tempts the hands of strangers.

For the life of me, I do not understand this. I've met maybe one woman in my entire life who didn't mind strangers patting her stomach, but everyone else I know has expressed annoyance over this little side-effect of pregnancy. And yet, it's always women (and mostly women who have children) who are the the culprits, which just doesn't make any sense. If you didn't like it when someone did it to you, why do you insist on doing it to other women?

What in the world possesses someone to pat the belly of a woman they've never even met?

And as long as we're talking about invasions of privacy, why do people like to comment on and ask questions about things they have no earthly business knowing? Like whether or not you are going to try to breastfeed twins, or if you have a weak cervix that would require bedrest, or as the pregnancy progresses, how far you've dilated or why you haven't had that baby yet, seeing as you look like you were due three months ago.

Strangers shouldn't even get to those questions, not only out of politeness and a little respect for privacy, but because they should never, ever assume you are pregnant in the first place. Unless you are busy knitting baby booties, reading a book of baby names, talking about your due date and the crib you just ordered, and wearing a shirt that says, "I'm expecting", no one should ever comment on your possible bundle of joy for the simple reason that it may turn out to be a bundle of haagen daaz bars that settled just south of your belly button. And even if all those pregnancy indicators are in place, unless the woman shouts that she is in labor and needs your assistance, don't say anything. Even then it's best to wait until the baby's head is out before you comment on her pregnancy, just to be safe.

There are also certain words that should never be used to describe someone's pregnancy belly, the most annoying being "HUGE!" The laws of femininity don't change when a woman becomes pregnant and eliminate her desire to be told she is beautiful or looking fit. She is not fair game for comments that that she is going to "pop" or "explode" or that she "must be due any minute".

Just this week I had someone mention my increasing "girth". One random word and I went from feeling cute to feeling like an overstuffed whale.

But at least the person didn't touch my belly.

Whales get pretty cranky when they're touched.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Things You Don't Want to Know

This evening I handed Michael his toothbrush and turned to the sink to wash my hands, assuming he would suck the berry-flavored toothpaste while he waited for me to help him polish his fangs. I dried my hands and rotated to face him only to discover he was thoughtfully dipping his toothbrush in the toilet.

That's when I decided we'd had enough teeth brushing for one night and opted to put him in bed.

But then I wondered, has he done this before? Has his toothbrush taken a nightly bath in the potty without my realizing it?

I think I can safely say that I don't want to know.

It's sort of like when you find a stray sippie cup wedged behind the couch or under a bed and think, "Please don't be milk. Please don't be milk." And then you opt to just throw the thing in the trash rather than risk being hit with the smell of rotten dairy and having to use a butter knife to chisel out the lumpy blob of cottage cheese at the bottom.

So many things you don't want to know about involve food - like what's in it. Even though I love ranch dressing I just can't stand to think about the jar full of mayonnaise that went into it. And New York City has an irritating habit of rubbing ingredient lists and calories in your face while you eat. For some reason they just don't seem to get that I automatically assume a plate piled high with french fries, cheese, and bacon is absolutely terrible for me.

The same way I assume that whatever my son picked up off a city sidewalk is disgusting, dirty, and possibly contagious - which is exactly why I carry around hand sanitizer and dispense it like there's no tomorrow. Unfortunately my vigilant sanitation patrols don't stop him from licking a subway pole or the bottom of his shoe now and then - and I really don't want to know what those tasted like.

Or what that sticky stuff in the back of my refrigerator is... spilled lemonade? Rotten tomato? A strange chemical reaction between pickle juice and karo syrup?

That's why I just shut the fridge and back away slowly.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Open Marriage

A moment of silence, please... Hugh Hefner's marriage is officially over. Well, he says it was actually over ten years ago, but he stayed married to his wife "because of the children". But now that the little tykes have hit the magical age of 18, it's time to end the charade and get back to the gaggle of girlfriends he's been living with for the past decade (not to mention the constant supply of oversized breasts and undersized bikinis in his playboy mansion).

I'm so glad he stuck it out all those years for the sake of his children - great example, Hef! Way to honor those marital vows!

I think society is in serious trouble, not only from those who wish to redefine marriage as being a right for any two (or more) people who love each other, but from those who treat marriage as nothing more than a legal arrangment with no actual commitment or fidelity required. I just read an article this morning about an online dating site for married folks who are looking for a little bit more. Their motto? "Life is short. Have an affair."

Lovely. That handbasket we're traveling in is starting to get mighty hot.

I keep running into information like this hoping it is somehow out of the ordinary and that there are only a few misguided adults who subscribe to these disgusting theories. But the more I hear and the more I see, this sort of thinking is no longer outside the mainstream - it's edging toward the middle and gaining ground fast.

Just yesterday David was checking out the info on one of his facebook friends and discovered that the guy was in an "open relationship" with his significant other. I'm not sure what exactly is meant by that, but if it's anything like the "open" marriage of the Italian Premier and his wife, the guy has no shame.

Of course, the wife half of the Italian marriage-in-name-only pairing is finally fed up with her husband's wandering ways after 19 years of misguided tolerance for his behavior. Apparently he finally embarrassed her by stepping out with some teenage bimbo at a party when he was supposed to be on a business trip. How dare he?! He could have at least gone for a thirty-year-old in a business suit!

But the idea of open marriage is becoming all the rage, apparently. Maria Princeton, a businesswoman who is in a "very happy marriage" of 25 years with her husband, George, says they have an "amicable arrangement" that allows her to enjoy a little hanky panky on the side. "I'm a class act in infidelity," she says. (Is there such a thing?) She says George is fine with her taking lovers, as she made it very clear from the beginning that she would do whatever she darn well pleased when it came to extramarital sex. She then waxes romantic about how wonderful her husband is and how well their relationship works.

This woman (and anyone in an "open relationship") is delusional, and I highly doubt that her husband truly has no issues with her sexcapades. Sex involves more than bodies, whether Ms. Princeton likes to admit it or not. There are emotional and spiritual aspects to sex that you just can't get away from, no matter how hard you might try to convince yourself they don't exist. You simply can't have a sexual relationship with another person without profoundly damaging your relationship with your spouse, regardless of whether he seems to be going along with it. Someone is always going to be left hurting.

Ms. Princeton thinks an open marriage is the answer because "fairy tales of undying love and sexual and emotional union that lasts for a whole life time [are] really unrealistic." Well, I have news for her: the fairy tales aren't unrealistic at all; they just require commitment, trust, complete and total fidelity, and selflessness - all things she has proven to be incapable of when it comes to her own marriage.

No matter how much time Ms. Princeton may spend trying to convince herself otherwise, her "open marriage" is one fairy tale that can never have a happy ending.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Lessons of the Beach

David was able to take the day off Saturday, so we hopped a train from Penn Station and went to the beach. Michael was thrilled to ride a "big" train, and thanked the gentleman who sold us our tickets, adding, "I'm so proud of you!" just for good measure. (Nothing like a little job-well-done validation from a two-year-old).

The train trip was only about 40 minutes, and Michael spent the entire time glued to the window pointing out other trains and cars and airplanes as they flew by. When we arrived at the beach and Michael saw the huge ocean spread out before him, he tried to run through the sand as fast as his little feet would carry him, though not before we could slather him with sunscreen and give him several lectures about staying safe.

Fortunately for us, he remained cautious about the waves the entire day and would only venture into the surf if he was holding tightly to one of our hands. As I had visions of our little daredevil fish getting sucked away by a giant wave as he dived into the ocean by himself, this uncharacteristic hesitation was fine by me. We spent hours playing in the waves and building sand castles, and Michael was able to splash to his heart's content. We did bring a camera but never pulled it out, as I'm not one for interrupting family fun to make a record of it (especially when there are water and sand and other camera-ruining elements involved).

Not only was it a day of family fun, it was a learning experience as well. Here are the top ten things we learned at the beach:

10. It is impossible to have a classy tattoo.

9. It is easy to tell fake boobs from real ones.

8. If you must adjust your bikini every time a wave hits, your swimsuit is the wrong size or the wrong fit.

7. Baby oil and old man is a frightening combination.

6. If your skin looks burnt to a crisp and has moved beyond "sun-kissed" to "leathery", you need some sunscreen in your life. And probably a dermatologist on call.

5. Any woman who has a child needs a little support in her swimsuit. Any woman who has a grandchild needs some sort of lifting apparatus in hers.

4. Stretch marks should never see the light of day.

3. For every woman who looks good in a bikini, there are 50 others who do not. Of those 50, at least 40 should never even look at a bikini, let alone wear one.

2. Thong-style speedos are just as scary looking as they sound.

1. As gross as a tight little speedo is, even more disgusting is a too-large speedo that allows a plentiful cross breeze to travel underneath the fabric and blind unwitting passers-by with the view.

Ah, lessons of life that one could really live without.

But mostly, what we learned is that it is nice to exchange some of that city grit in our hair for some sand and a couple of seashells, spend time with family, and arrive home exhausted and sore (and leaving a trail of sand behind us).

Oh, and we also learned to make sure you cover every bit of exposed skin with sunscreen, otherwise you'll end up with a lovely red stripe on your back where the sunscreen missed, and thighs so sore you'll never be able to walk again.

Small lessons, but important ones. Who knew there was so much to be learned from a visit to the beach?

Halloween Blues

David and I have a habit of overbooking the month of October every year. Some of it is our fault and some of it isn't, but I have been "determined" to go to a corn maze every year for the last 6 years, and it has never happened. We always have visitors or travel or something that makes it impossible to find our way through a dried-out corn field and then sit down and candy apples or carve pumpkins for an afternoon.

This year is no different - busy season ends October 15th, we move back to Virginia that weekend, and then David and I are jetting off on vacation immediately after. I am looking forward to all of this immensely except one tiny little thing:

We will miss the entire Halloween season. I love Halloween and look forward to it all year. This year my decorations won't even see the light of day, and it's not like I can meander around Target on a daily basis for the first half of the month to soak in the smell of costumes and candy corn. It also means no Halloween party this year, which I am very sad about. I have tried and tried to finagle my calendar to make it work, but no such luck. The only way a party would work is to throw it in November. (Which begs the question, on a scale of 1 to 10, how lame is it to throw a Halloween party in November? Okay, okay, I already know the answer).

And we will have to send Michael trick-or-treating without us, for the second year in a row. (It's part of our campaign to win "Parents of the Year").

Oh, well, I suppose giving up Halloween is a small price to pay for a totally awesome second honeymoon. And maybe this means I can justify throwing that Christmas party I've always wanted to have...

But most of all I just hate to deprive our friends the privilege of seeing David dressed up like this:

Granny at her very best, don't you think?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How to Ruin a Child

I've known many parents who give their kids way too much stuff - too many toys and gifts - but I've never heard of someone as ridiculous as Alison Mackay, who has been lavishing designer clothes and toys on her daughter, Brogan, since the now-eleven-year-old came home from the hospital (from whence she departed in Baby Dior, of course).

Among the items this spoiled-rotten tween receives on a regular basis are the latest designer handbags and shoes. Says her mother, "She has 35 pairs of designer shoes and because her feet are still growing, sometimes she only wears them once before they’re too small. When I see the bin-liners full of shoes, ready to take to the charity shop, I do think 'What a waste.'"

And yet, Alison Mackay can't help herself: "I can’t go into a shop without buying Brogan something. She enjoys being pampered because it makes her feel grown up."

Well, of course she enjoys being pampered. What child doesn't? But that doesn't mean it is wise to cater to her every whim.

You might be thinking that perhaps Brogan's parents just have more money than sense, but they are not rich at all. In fact, they spend half of their £30,000 annual income on Brogan. Yes, you read that right. HALF of their income goes to pampering this girl (who actually has a very unpampered little sister, if you can believe it. But her mother brushes the unfairness issue aside, saying that youngest child, Carys, has no interest in designer clothes). You'd think the father might be a little annoyed by this, but no. According to Alison, "Stephen doesn’t mind and just says 'Oh let her have it.' We have no savings, but he believes in living for the day."

In addition to all the clothes, shoes, handbags, and designer dolls (£400 apiece!), Brogan's parents give her a credit card with up to £400 a month so she can "learn the value of money". I'm sorry, but it is impossible to learn the value of money when someone just hands you a wad of cash without requiring anything of you. Brogan doesn't even have to iron her own clothes because Alison is "frightened to let her near the iron in case she burns herself". Yeah, that would be the worst thing that could happen to this girl. (Her ironing is done professionally, once a week).

"I try to tell her that money doesn’t grown on trees," says Alison. "A friend of hers recently got a job doing a paper round and I suggested to Brogan she might like to do the same, but she just said 'No chance'."

Well, of course she doesn't want to work! Who would want to work with this type of upbringing? When Mum and Dad bring everything to you on a silver platter, why should you lift your royal little fingers to help yourself? There's no need!

Brogan is going to grow up to be a pathetic adult who couldn't help herself if her life depended on it. And, while Mrs. Mackay might worry about that every now and then, she has no one to blame but herself.

After all, she is the one who created this monster.

Is There an Adult in the Building?

I get really sick of adults acting like scared kindergartners when it comes to correcting the behavior of other peoples' children. Adults no longer act like adults, they act like kids. (I suppose this is the reason why their children do not have any respect for other adults and why they behave like snotty little brats who think the universe revolves around them).

Last week I took Michael up to Toys R Us to see the dinosaur and play with the giant train set. There were a dozen children clamoring to play with the trains, a handful of which did not have cars to run on the track. This would have been fine, but there were two kids with more than one train car whose parents didn't think it necessary that they share with the other kids and made no attempt to intervene.

Then, at one point, a little boy (20-months-ish) stole a train car from another kid and attached it to his own car. The mother of the thievery victim ran over, distressed, and asked the child if he would give it back. Of course the answer was, "No!" The mother was paralyzed and looked to the other parents for help, all of whom just stood there at a loss as to what to do. I said, "Just take it back from him!" which prompted everyone to look at me as if I had just walked out of a mental institution. "I'm tired of adults not acting like adults," I mumbled under my breath, and rounded the table to snatch the train car out of the kid's hand myself. But just then a store employee appeared, having been hastened over to resolve the situation. She ended up doing the exact thing I would have done and told the kid she was taking his train, and pulled it out of his hand. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief. I rolled my eyes.

For heaven's sake, the thief wasn't even two. Are we adults or are we adults? Just inform the kid the train car isn't his and take it back.

Of course, my observation that all adults act like children was cemented a few minutes later when Michael's age got the better of him and he pushed a kid out of his way. The kid fell over and cried. I picked up Michael and told him he couldn't play with the trains anymore because he had pushed another kid, and then made him apologize to the little boy, and to the boy's mom. Then I apologized to her myself. She totally ignored me and wouldn't acknowledge the fact that I was talking to her, let alone accept either mine or Michael's apologies. She just complained loudly to her neighbor (while I was talking) that my child had pushed hers and acted as if it was some sort of unforgivable crime.

And I won't even mention my experience at the park the day before when I got a snotty, "You're not the boss of me!" in response to correcting a misbehaving girl (who was at least ten years old). I ended up leaving instead of seeking out the mother to discipline her daughter because my experience with NYC moms is that they don't care if their kids play by the rules, either. As I left the park I saw a woman standing next to the girl (I can only assume her mother) actively encouraging her rule-breaking behavior.

Aaargh. I'm not sure who needs a spanking more - the adults or the kids.