Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Where There's a Will There's a Wrong Way

Will Smith is a "cool" dad when it comes to disciplining his children.

"We don't do punishment..." he says.  "...You can do anything you want as long as you can explain to me why that was the right thing to do for your life."

Ummmm... what?

Mr. Smith, have you actually met any children?  I mean, I know you have a few of your own, but have you actually paid attention to them?  Because my children can justify anything as being the "right thing to do for their life."  And when I say "anything", I mean pretty much everything -- from lying to cheating to stabbing someone with a fork.

Kids need boundaries.  This doesn't mean you need to make rules about absolutely everything or go around doling out punishments 24 hours a day, but giving them a free pass on everything from spoiled princess behavior to illegal activity as long as they can spout justifications like a practiced lawyer is not just short-sighted, it's S-T-U-P-I-D.

Come on Mr. Smith, we have to live with these people when  you're done with them.

Yes, you have to figure out what works for your kids and it's not always punishment.  But sometimes it is punishment.  Because children don't come to earth as polished little angels who have complete control over their impulses.  You have to teach them how to contain themselves -- their impulses and urges -- because what they want isn't always right -- for themselves or others.

No man is an island.  And no man is the entire universe, either.  Give your kids some control over their own lives, yes, but don't hand them the launch codes when they are five-years-old and say, "As long as you can justify it."

Part of parenting is teaching, and part of teaching is correcting.  You'd be wise to remember that before you hand your kids the trigger, Mr. Smith.

Otherwise, don't be surprised when everything blows up.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Nightmare at Breaking Dawn

Last night I had a dream that I was back in high school.  It was one of those dreams where my logical brain kept trying to override my REM-powered subconscious by presenting me with dream difficulties involving both my current and past lives ("I can't take my AP English test!  Who would watch my kids?!")  The good news is that this time I didn't have to spend five dream-minutes trying to remember what my locker combination was or how to navigate the random collection of hallways leading to that-class-I-forgot-I-had-until-it-was-time-to-take-the-final.

But still, I woke up incredibly relieved to realize I am no longer in high school.  And then it occurred to me (probably because I was in the middle of drafting a review of "Breaking Dawn: Part 2"):

If you were a vampire with all the perks of sparkly immortality to go with it, why on earth would you choose to go back to high school of all places?

I mean, while my high school experience certainly had its positives, it was also packed with enough traumatic experiences that I am STILL HAVING NIGHTMARES ABOUT IT more than a dozen years later.  And even if you discount the obvious hell of residing eternally in an environment where everyone has the maturity of insect larvae, frankly, I prefer an existence where no one ever says to me, with a straight face, "You will use this information in your daily life," and then hands me a graphing calculator and a worksheet on limits.

Couldn't Stephenie Meyer at least have had the sense to send her vampires to college?  Or do something useful, like, I don't know, develop a cure for cancer or something?

Alas, we have an entire series based around immortal vampires who have chosen to spend an eternity going to high school.  Seriously.  An eternity.  In high school.

No wonder I hated these books.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Motherhood: The Passing Scene

You know that law that says if your kids leave a toy on the floor, you will step on it?  Well, it turns out toy cars are only just behind Legos on the pain scale.  (I honestly think the government should forget waterboarding terrorists and instead place them in a room with Legos strewn from one end to the other and make them walk around in the dark without shoes on.  They'll spill their guts in no time).

Other things I've stepped on this week: cooked ramen noodles, half a box of spilled cereal, a plastic horse, a pile of wet toilet paper, and a used pull-up.  The ramen noodles were because I told Leah she couldn't have any chips until she finished her apples and noodles, so she "finished" them by dumping them on the floor.  The other things are because my three-year-olds are actually Tasmanian devils.

Between that and the Easter grass I keep finding everywhere I'm ready to call it a day on the cleaning thing. (They say the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but I think it's actually paved with Easter grass and pink toothpaste).

I feel like I've been sitting in a mess all week, starting with Monday, when I got home from running an errand in just enough time to whip up a chocolate cream pie for David's birthday before I was on babysitting duty for a neighbor's kids.  Literally, just enough time, not a second to spare.  So I was simmering half 'n half and chopping dark chocolate and slicing pats of butter while handling miscellaneous requests for buttoning pants, finding socks, and wiping bums (don't worry, I washed my hands in between tasks.  This isn't "The Help").  By the time I got to separating egg yolks I was in an even bigger hurry.  This caused me to fumble with the egg carton and dump several on the floor, at which point Matthew came sliding into the kitchen to ask me a question.  "Get out of the kitchen!" I yelled.  Not because I'm mean, but because this is what happened last time Matthew touched (that's touched, not even swallowed) cracked eggs:

For some reason, my yelling to "Get out!" summoned my other children from whatever corners of the house they were in (Apparently when I want them to appear for chore duty I just need to start yelling for them to go away) and suddenly all three of them were hovering over me as my brain frantically tried to decide which task needed my attention the most  ("Clean up the eggs!"  "No, the half 'n half will scorch!").  I settled on getting the kids out of the kitchen.  Once they were gone, I went back to separating and tempering and stirring.  Then I promptly dumped vanilla all over the counter.

It was a spectacular day for baking.

Luckily, the pie turned out fine.  The only problem was that I didn't have time to clean up before my neighbor arrived.  I consoled myself by pretending it was all a noble act on my part, intended to give her a self-esteem boost for having a cleaner kitchen than mine.

Plus, I had chocolate cream pie.

That's pretty much a cure for everything.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Public Service Announcement

My sister and I were recently having a conversation about the number of times our decidedly not-flat stomachs have been mistaken for pregnancies.  With that, and the fact that my six-year-old regularly makes comments to the effect that I look like I've boarded the baby train (and even went so far recently as to question my ability to fit in the GIANT CORNER TUB in my bathroom...   Seriously?  I may not be a stick figure, but the entire Duggar family could fit in there together), I feel the need to make a public service announcement:

No good will come of you asking a woman if she is expecting a baby.  No. Good.  Because, as my sister pointed out, if she isn't expecting, there is no way to get around the fact that you just told her you think she looks fat.  "Oh it's just the way your shirt is hanging" or "It's just the high-waisted dress."  No it isn't.  You actually think her stomach looks big enough that there is a human being residing in there.

Speaking as one whose body type is such that I gain 90% of my weight from my belly button to my thighs, I have to say, there is nothing more demoralizing than being told you look pregnant when you aren't.  I know I don't have a flat stomach, thank you --  I haven't had a flat stomach since I was born.  Not even when I was a toddler.  Literally, I walked out of the womb and learned how to suck in my stomach.  (My mom:  "Let's learn the ABCs!"  Me:  "Hold on a second, I'm trying to figure out the best angle to tilt my pelvis.")

Alas, the questions continue.  My favorite is when some lady patted my sister on the stomach and said, "Is there something you want to tell me?"

"Um, just that I need to exercise..." she replied.

I realize that the question of whether someone is expecting tends to make us nosy beyond our ability to stop ourselves, so, I am presenting to you the list of acceptable times to ask a woman if she is expecting a baby:

1)  When there is an actual baby head emerging from her actual body.

That's it.  That is the only time.

Other than that, if you think someone is expecting and can't stand the curiosity, wait nine months.

It's a lot less time than you'll spend feeling terrible for calling someone fat.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Superior Wife

I love the show "White Collar."  Partly because it is clever, humorous, and interesting, and partly because Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay are two of the most charming men ever to set foot on television.  But mostly I love it because of the relationship between nice-guy FBI agent, Peter Burke (played by Tim DeKay), and his wife, Elizabeth, (the former Kelly Kapowski, Tiffani Thiessen) who, gratefully, missed the Hollywood Size Zero Memo and LOOKS LIKE A NORMAL PERSON (well, a stunningly beautiful normal person, anyway).

Ahhhh.  Refreshing.

But what is most refreshing is the way these two married people treat each other.  They flirt.  They date.  They don't play ridiculous games or drag their marriage around like a ball and chain.  They love each other and they take their marriage seriously, which means there is no griping about each other in public and no obnoxious plots built around mind-reading and marital guessing games.

This is quite a departure from most other television shows these days which consist of a buffoon for a husband and a long-suffering wife who is always smarter and more capable than her husband and who lives out her marriage vows in a state of moral and intellectual superiority.

Think about it.  Have you ever seen the husband portrayed as the smart one?  I haven't.

This is not to say that TV husbands (or husbands in general) should be (or are) smarter than their wives.  But why can't the husband and wife both be smart?  Why can't we go back to the days of Cliff and Clair Huxtable, who each had enough brains to match wits without trading damaging barbs?

Instead, we've abandoned our quest for spousal equality in pursuit of notarized feminine superiority.  And it's not just on TV.  Hang around on Facebook for five minutes and you're bound to come across something like this:

And my personal favorite:

Ladies, if you really think your husband is as stupid or infantile as these memes suggest, why on earth did you marry him?

Your husband is your partner, not your child.  And if it's a happy marriage you are looking for, you won't find it if you insist on wearing a Superiority Crown.  Take a page from Elizabeth Burke's book and treat your husband with kindness.  Don't disparage or demean him, especially not in public.  You chose him, remember?

Don't make him regret choosing you.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Skinny Jeans

Every once in awhile I think to myself that I should try to get healthier.  Mostly when I'm trying to zip up my jeans.  (Because let's face it, when women say they want to be "healthier" what they really mean is "I want to fit into my skinny jeans.")

Of course the definition of "skinny jeans" varies from woman to woman.  There are always those annoying ladies who think a baby-occupied uterus is "fat" and who like to use their fingers as calipers to pinch little sections of skin on their arms and show you how fat they are.  And me, being the sympathetic type, I'm always like, "Oh my gosh, you have skin!!  The horror!"

Also, I eat brownies, which NO ONE ELSE SEEMS TO DO.

Seriously, a few months ago I met a bunch of neighborhood moms at the park and one of them brought brownies.  Delicious-looking, delectably frosted, mom-and-pop-bakery brownies.  One by one each of the ladies passed on the treat for one reason or another, including the woman who brought them.  I was trying very hard to be good because I had just pieced my diet wagon back together after burning it at the stake, so at first I passed on them as well.  Then everyone went back to chatting and I have no idea what they said because I was busy obsessing over the fact that there was an ENTIRE FREAKING PLATE OF BROWNIES on the picnic table.

I made it almost a half hour before I caved, which, all things considered, is pretty spectacular for me.  I didn't even try to sneak an extra brownie under the guise of "feeding it to my kids."  (Because I totally didn't think of that at the time!  Dang it!  Why do great ideas always come to me after the fact?)

But, I really do want to be healthier, and not just to wear the skinny jeans.  (And by skinny jeans I mean "smaller pants", not actual skinny jeans, because ewwww, no one wants to know me that well).

So, I guess it's off to find my wagon.

Too bad it's not hidden in a pan of brownies...

Monday, April 1, 2013

Monday, 5:45 PM

In case you were wondering, this picture can also be found in Webster's Dictionary under "doomed".