Wednesday, July 20, 2011

In All Honesty

Last night I headed out to a small gathering with some old friends, leaving my kitchen in a state of nuclear disaster and assuring myself I would have time to pull out the backhoe and the fire hose before our visitors returned from their evening plans and David got home from work.

Leah magically transformed a half-hour drive into what felt like a four-hour gig by screaming non-stop the entire way. By the time I drove past the correct house and had to use a nearby driveway to turn around, my nerves were so frazzled that when I heard the sickening crunch of my bumper hitting another car, a four-letter-word came flying out of my mouth.

Luckily swear words, like trees falling in deserted forests, don't count if nobody hears them. And nobody did, since the collection of tiny ears in the car were all mercifully deafened by Leah's hysterical shrieking.

Putting the speed of light to shame, Michael appeared at my shoulder. "Why are we stopping, Mom? Is this their house? What are you doing? What happened? I'm hungry."

After using my best attempt at a calm voice to shoo Michael back to his seat, I got out to check the damage. Leah was still screeching. My cell phone rang and I nearly pitched it through the window as my stomach convulsed in dread and anxiety.

I gathered up my courage and knocked on the nearby front door. No answer. For a split second I wanted to run away. And then I thought of my kids in the car, and of that $7 cashier-error-in-my-favor Yahtzee game sitting on my shelf that I never went back to Target to pay for because I went into labor with Michael the very next day. And the years-of-saving brand-new-minivan-sized check I wrote to get out of my underwater house in Virginia. Then I briefly wished I had been born into a mob family so that the honesty requirement could be waived in favor of riding off into a blaze of crime and glory.

I hated that I had to be honest. For an action that flaunts its reputation as being the best policy, it could stand to make itself a little easier. But I really had no choice.

So I scribbled a shaky apology and my contact information on a piece of notepaper while Michael hovered over my shoulder and Leah expanded her lungs to previously unexplored capacity. My cell phone rang again and I yelled at David to stop calling me. As if he should somehow know I was dealing with a crisis.

He really needs to work on his mind reading skills.

I got a call today from the gentleman whose car I backed into. He was calm and polite, and said his car has been scratched many times, but that I'm the first person to ever leave a note. It soothed me somehow to know I still qualify as a decent human being.

And having had that little fact reiterated came in handy when, later, Michael took off on his scooter when he was supposed to be getting ready for bed and I had to enlist the help of a neighbor to help me box him in. Then, when he actually was getting ready for bed, I found him standing on the bathroom counter, peeing in the sink.

But I was a decent person. I kept my voice down and everything. No really, I did.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Indefensible Hat

Remember the Hat That Ate the Royal Wedding?

You don't?

How about now?

Ah, there, that's better. So easy to forget a hat like that. It just blended in with all the other 12-point antlers growing out of the other guests' foreheads.

But the hat's creator, Philip Treacy, is now defending poor Princess Beatrice against the mean old "fashion bullies" who were put off by the young girl turning up to the royal wedding looking like she expected to be unwrapped at some point during the ceremony. (I'm surprised she didn't accidentally yell "Happy Birthday!" as Kate made her way down the aisle. Beatrice: "I got you a present, you'll never guess... oh, all right then, it's me!!")

Says Mr. Treacy, "In the future we'll look back and think she looked wild."

Um, Mr. Treacy, we do think she looks wild. It's just that free-range elk meets Project Runway was not the look we were hoping for. Plus, that coal black eyeliner she apparently applied with a paintbrush doesn't do anything to calm the nagging sense that she is going to gallop off into the sunset post ceremony.

Poor Beatrice. Surely your mum told you it was unwise to ever leave the house wearing a wedding cake topper on your forehead?

Wait, she didn't?

Huh. The things you think you'll never have to say.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Shack Shake Up

While her husband was out telling America it's time to eat their peas, First Lady and anti-obesity crusader, Michelle Obama, was spotted at a Washington area Shake Shack slurping up a burger, fries, and shake, a meal that amounted to diet-injuring 1700 calories.

I only have one thing to say about this: Mrs. Obama, I can't believe you went to Shake Shack and you didn't invite me! Rude. I'm totally crossing you off my Christmas card list.

Seriously, I move to Utah and Maryland finally gets a Cafe Rio, and now I find out there's a Shake Shack sitting right in DuPont Circle? Come on, Washington, where's the love? There is only one way to equalize this great cosmic injustice, and that is to build a Wegmans three feet from my front door. It is the only thing I will settle for.

That and a burger from Shake Shack.


David and I developed a great love for Shake Shack when we could wander up to Madison Square Park in NYC and share a delicious fatty meal while Michael ran in circles around the nearby fountain.

Besides, I kind of feel like I owe David on the whole Shake Shack thing since I developed a severe aversion to it when I got pregnant with the twins and couldn't bear to eat there anymore. Even now I think about it and I get a little queasy. Not queasy enough to refuse an order of french fries if the First Lady were willing to share, mind you.

I'm just annoyed that her lunch outing made the news. Oh, I know, people are trying to point out the irony that she is indulging in a pile of grease while telling others they should eat a pile of leafy green vegetables for their afternoon meal ("Gotcha" reporting rears its ugly head again). But it's not like she is eating a hamburger and fries for every meal, nor is she telling everyone that they should never have a sundae or a big piece of chocolate cake.

I have no problem with Mrs. Obama scarfing down a burger and fries even if she decides to do it in the middle of a speech about the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables. The fact is that I should be eating more fruits and vegetables. But, what bothers me (and I presume what bothers many of the people who are crying "hypocrite") is that I do have a problem with the government spreading their interfering little tentacles all over my dinner table, yanking away things like trans-fats and high-fructose corn syrup as if I'm not capable of making food choices for myself and my family.

The government has no business telling me what I can and cannot eat. That doesn't mean I won't take suggestions. But keep your greedy government paws off my fried chicken.

And, Mrs. Obama, if you want to make another trip to Shake Shack, I'm open.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Royally Tacky Reporting

A fact of life, for our celebrity-obsessed culture:

Everyone (and I mean everyone) will have something embarrassing happen to them in public. They'll discover, in the middle of a presentation to a big-name client, that their fly is unzipped. They'll trip going down the stairs or have their credit card mistakenly rejected. They'll have something green in their teeth or pass gas or pass out.

The nice thing is that, for us regular folk, these unfortunate moments usually go unheralded.

It's too bad we can't say the same when it comes to The Duchess of Cambridge, a woman who has behaved with dignity and class befitting her royal status, and who doesn't deserve to have pictures of her tiny, accidentally exposed derriere plastered on the internet for all the world to see.

And yet, the media has taken this "two or three second" incident (which no one actually noticed and Kate hastily tried to correct) and used it to sell newspapers.

P.S. It turns out the duchess was wearing a thong.

Well, good for her. While I personally prefer to not to run the risk of having a self-inflicted wedgie all day, can you imagine the news headlines if Kate had been walking around on official palace business with her panty lines showing through her skirt? The media would have had a heyday.

This kind of "Gotcha" reporting is despicable. For heaven's sake, she was wearing a perfectly appropriate, modest dress and behaving in a perfectly appropriate, modest way. Just because the wind was in cahoots with her dress to reveal her underthings does not mean the media has to do the same. Let's have a little respect, people. She is not Britney Spears trying to earn another ten seconds of fame by flashing her girly parts to the cameras. She is a lady, behaving like a lady.

And she deserves to be treated like one.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Erasing Gender

It's a girl!

No wait, it's a boy!

No, wait, um, what is it exactly?

I guess we'll never know. Because the parents aren't telling.

Time to add another couple to the list of misguided moms and dads who think gender is some kind of Choose Your Own Adventure story. I wrote about a set of such parents a few years ago, so I won't bother rehashing the same blog post; suffice it to say that these people, however well-intentioned, are completely and totally nuts.

But it appears that gender-related nuttiness is a disease that is spreading rapidly, particularly in Sweden. Now it's not just a random set of parents here and there, but an entire school that is devoted to the cause of gender neutrality.

At the Egalia preschool in Stockholm everyone is a referred to as "friend". Sentences that would normally require a "him" or a "her" instead use the more ambiguous "hen". As in, "A doctor is coming to our class this afternoon. 'Hen' is going to speak to us about hen's experience in the hospital," which supposedly doesn't cement stereotypes the way it would to say "He". You know, because you'd hate to say that a male doctor was coming (even if he actually is a man) because that might give kids the idea that all doctors are males. Or something like that.

Story time is equally ridiculous. You won't find a story of a traditional family, but you will find a story about two male giraffes who form a family when they adopt a crocodile egg. Approved literature is about homosexual couples, single parents, and adoption. Who needs fairy tales of Mr. and Mrs. when there are stories to be told of Mr. and Mr. Longneck raising a baby reptile?

Director of the preschool, Lotta Rajalin, says that (obvious) biological differences "don't mean boys and girls have different interests and abilities."

Um, I hate to break it to you, lady (excuse me, um, "friend"), but of course boys and girls have different interests and abilities. I'm just not sure why this is a problem. Yes, there are boys who like traditionally girly things, and girls who like traditionally male things (hence the term "tomboy"), but the way to erase real issues of gender inequality (like those in the middle east, for example) is not to close our eyes to the very normal differences between the sexes. To promote equality we don't need to go around calling everyone "hen"; we need to help children see that their different interests and abilities are equally valued, regardless of their gender.

Besides, trying to insist that there is no difference between the sexes by calling everyone "friend" and incorporating inane policies like putting legos next to the play kitchen so that children "draw no mental barriers between cooking and construction" is stupid beyond belief.

These people are severely over-thinking things. Boys and girls will like what they like. As long as you have a variety of toys available, children will gravitate to the things they prefer, regardless of the ridiculous mind games administrators are trying to play with their impressionable psyches.

Go ahead and set out legos. And a play kitchen. And baby dolls and doctor gear and dress-ups and fairy wands. And then just let the children play with whatever they want to play with. If a girl wants to play with the toy bulldozer, let her. If a boy wants to play with the fairy wand, let him.

But don't gasp in horror if he decides to use the fairy wand as a sword, or worse, a gun.

I agree with University of California, Davis, child psychologist, Jay Belsky, who says, "Gender equality at its worst is emasculating maleness." It's true. Feminine traits are celebrated while masculine traits are stamped out using ritalin and adderall and brainwashing about the evilness of little boys running around the playground playing cops and robbers.

True gender equality is not about erasing or suppressing differences. It's about placing equal value on those differences and acknowledging and appreciating them for what they are.

And we can't do that when we're busy obsessing over where to put the tinker toys.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Messed Up

My house looks like all the closets and cupboards had an attack of nausea and vomited their contents all over the floor, after which the Scattering Fairies came wandering through with their blankets and spread miscellaneous tampons, cotton balls, and an entire box of Raisin Bran all over the house. Also used dental floss and half a box of wipies.

Today's project: Move everything to a higher shelf. And by that I mean if you are looking for the toilet paper it's locked in the safe on the top shelf of my closet. Sorry for the inconvenience.

But, in way of good news, I found the little cover that goes over the bolts on the toilet. It was in the family room, having nested itself comfortably in my yet-to-be-folded pile of clean towels and sheets.

I'm guessing the culprit was Little Miss Towel-Obsessed:

It's rather jarring to think that someone so cute just spent time with a piece of toilet tucked in her cheek. Gives new meaning to the phrase "potty mouth."

Really, I should quit blogging and start cleaning. But since David is already full-throttle into busy season at work and won't be home till 11:00 or so, well, who wants to waste quiet time by folding laundry and vacuuming up corn pops? Especially when Michael, who has been completely exhausted from the last few days of late bedtimes and early mornings, actually suggested that he take a nap and asked me to tuck him in bed.

Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, I say.

Seriously, don't. There could be a piece of toilet in there.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Life With Toddler Twins

Hmmm, where is that little cover that goes over the bolts on the toilet? (I'm seriously grossed out by the fact that it is missing, especially because I'm pretty sure it wandered from the bathroom by mouth-to-mouth transportation).

How about the nail clippers?

And I thought I put the beaters in that drawer.

Ugh, why is there a sippy cup of petrified milk in the drawer under the stove?

I swear I just washed that blanket.

Why are there forks in the trash can?

What is that smell?

Aaagh, Leah, why did you put your soiled diaper in the toy box?

Don't drag your blanket through my pile up swept-up cereal!

Actually, don't dump out the cereal in the first place.

How did you find that marble?

Don't unroll the toilet paper!

Don't put the toilet paper in the toilet!

Don't put your hands in the toilet!

Ewww, don't put your hands in your diaper either!

Why did you just hit your brother?

Please let me put you down for three seconds.

And this, my friends, is how I end up giving my children leftover frosting for an afternoon snack.

Mmmm... one bucket of cool whip + one brick of cream cheese + one cup of powdered sugar = one moment of glorious, non-destroying silence. (Notice the randomly placed garbage can trying to usurp the position of the rug and what I think is the protective cover for an old TI-85 calculator floating in the background).

Ah, silence...

Well, that was over quickly.

Matthew, get out of the pantry. And don't bite that onion.

You won't like it, I promise.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Star-Spangled Banner

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust!"
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Speaking of Art

I call it Al Dente: A Tale of Two Pastas, courtesy of our artist-in-residence, Matthew.

On a completely unrelated note, I really need to buy a childproof lock for the pantry.

Of course, this was preferable to Leah's nudist exhibition yesterday. She called it Here's My Soiled Diaper, Mom. I preferred to think of it as Aaaaahhhhh! Leave the Huggies on! But that's the thing about art - different people see it different ways. That is why I tried to explain to her the virtues of non-visible art, a category in which all diaper-related masterpieces should find themselves.

Not to be outdone, Michael demonstrated his aptitude for the abstract by using the hose to fill the lonely space below the trampoline. He called it Fountain of Fun. I called it Go to Your Room.

Poor, struggling artists. How will they ever find themselves when their mother does not believe in their work?