Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Losing my innocence

Paige had an accident yesterday, a pretty nasty one. She was "helping" me make the beds (you gotta start 'em young), and her feet got tangled in the sheet she was carrying. She toppled forward, hit her head, and cut the top of her cheek on a storage basket that Owen and Mitch had disassembled so the little metal thingies that connect the sides of the baskets were exposed. (What kind of baskets require assembly? Cheapo ones that come with unassembled shelving.)

Paige's cheek turned purple and swelled up immediately, and she was not having the ice pack, so the swelling got pretty bad. Now she's got a shiner that Rocky Balboa would be proud of, and everyone who crosses our path asks, "Omigosh! What happened to her eye?"

Clearly the explanation of what really happened is a little complicated. The "she hit her cheek on a basket" story sounds unlikely unless I include the part about the metal thingies in the basket, and that requires detailing the mechanics of the baskets and possibly even admitting that I got the basket/shelf contraption on clearance at Target for $14.99 (because I'm terribly picky about my kids' bedroom decor). And that's a long explanation to offer, say, the lady who works the carpool line or the checker at the grocery store.

So when people ask, I lie. To make the answer simpler, I say, "She fell and hit her face on a toy." And then, because I'm lying, I worry that I look like I'm lying. And then I worry that, because I look like I'm lying, people will think I my beat baby, because why else would I lie? Of course I didn't punch my infant daughter in the eye, yet I find myself straining to "look innocent" even though I AM innocent.

It's not the first time I've felt this kind of anxiety, either. Owen and Mitch have both shown up at doctor's appointments sporting nasty bruises, and I've found myself plotting what to say and how to act if the doctor commented on them, even though the injuries were from roughhousing or falls on the driveway, and I had nothing to hide.

So why all this work to cover up something I didn't do? Is my discomfort coming from some repressed guilt I have about how I raise my children? Do I secretly loathe myself for having spanked them or yelled at them? In my heart of hearts, do I see myself as an evil mommy?

Or am I just completely neurotic?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

When Mitch speaks, people listen

Three recent conversations with the tricky blonde one:

Me: Your listening needs to get better, or I'll leave you home while I go shopping.
Mitch: I ain't doing that. I ain't staying home. I ain't gonna like that.
Me: Why are you saying "ain't?"
Mitch: It's just my fancy way of talking.

Me: I need your help to clean up in here.
Mitch: I caaaaaan't.
Me: Yes you can. Let's go.
Mitch: I caaaaaan't.
Me: Why not?
Mitch: My brain is telling me I don't like cleaning up.

Mitch (after watching Owen take cough medicine): Can I have some?
Me: No. You can't take medicine when you're not sick.
Mitch: But I had so many bless yous today. I need the bless you medicine.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

I SAID I wanted a snow day

Here's something I hate: the weatherpeople predict snow; they point to your county, colored purple, sitting squarely in the "winter weather advisory" zone; they flash pictures of areas south where snow is already falling, loop radar images of the storm zooming your way; schools announce delays; snow-fearing southerners flock to the grocery store for milk and bread; you start to imagine your snow day: kids home, fire in the fireplace, noses drippy and red from sledding in the backyard; Paige stomping through her first snow.

You wake up early the next morning. Right away you scurry to the window, sure you'll raise the blinds to find the promised winter wonderland.

And it's raining.

Muddy, cold, wet, unlovely rain. Schools are not closed. Classes at the college where you teach will be held. No sledding nor hot chocolate. All that lies before you is a chilly wet drive to school, a chilly wet drive home. Maybe some laundry.

Well today John and I said no. No to simple rain. No to that chilly, wet drive. No to getting up at the crack of dawn to get Owen ready for school when we'd been up until 2 am the night before, watching bad TV and reading magazines, sure we'd get to sleep in because bad-hair weatherguy all but guaranteed ice and snow.

At 6:00 this morning, John got up, saw the sogginess outside, turned on the TV and heard that it had snowed and iced a little at about 4:00. Bad-hair morning weather guy said there could be a very few icy patches on bridges and overpasses. And that was enough for John. I heard him pad back down the hall, snap off the bathroom light, and get back in bed.

A few minutes later, I got up to see for myself, thinking that John's snoring meant the winter weather fairy had come. But no. I called the inclement weather line at Owen's school, where a flat, unfeeling voice told me the school was open. Then I went and gave John a shake. "You do realize it's only raining." John cracked one eye. "It was icy earlier," he muttered. "It's a 20 miles drive. Too dangerous." Noticing my skepticism, he made the play he knew would ensure his victory: "You can take him if you want to." Out the window behind him, I could see the gray, 33 degree morning. "No no," I said. "I agree. We shouldn't take any chances." And we snuggled back under the quilt, re-claiming out lost snow day, refusing to let the dream die.

There was no snowman, no fire, no snuffly noses, but I did spend the morning playing games and coloring. I took a catnap with Paige and stole an hour for sewing while the boys watched a movie. We had mac and cheese for lunch with Little Debbie valentine cakes for dessert. Yes, the day would have been made cozier by a few snowflakes, but all in all, it was one of those lovely quiet days when you don't go anywhere and everyone is lazy and no one feels bad about it even though it's Thursday and your 6 year old is supposed to be at kindergarten.

Everyone deserves a "no day" now and then, a day to say "no" to losing your snow day because temperatures crept a few degrees above freezing, because the storm lollygagged and swept in too late. In North Carolina, we are frequent victims of the "it will snow if the conditions are exactly right and the forces of nature align perfectly" forecast.

This morning, we were in no mood to be disappointed.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Toddler rules: Paige got the memo

Earlier tonight, I had a post about Paige's 15 month antics all mapped out. Then I got online and found this list. And I didn't have one more word to say about Paige at 15 months.

Toddler Rules
If it is on, I must turn it off.
If it is off, I must turn it on.
If it is folded, I must unfold it.
If it is a liquid, it must be shaken, then spilled.
If it a solid, it must be crumbled, chewed or smeared.
If it is high, it must be reached.
If it is shelved, it must be removed.
If it is pointed, it must be run with at top speed.
If it has leaves, they must be picked.
If it is plugged, it must be unplugged.
If it is not trash, it must be thrown away.
If it is in the trash, it must be removed, inspected, and thrown on the floor.
If it is closed, it must be opened.
If it does not open, it must be screamed at.
If it has drawers, they must be rifled.
If it is a pencil, it must write on the refrigerator, monitor, or table.
If it is full, it will be more interesting emptied.
If it is empty, it will be more interesting full.
If it is a pile of dirt, it must be laid upon.
If it is stroller, it must under no circumstances be ridden in without protest. It must be pushed by me instead.
If it has a flat surface, it must be banged upon.
If Mommy's hands are full, I must be carried.
If Mommy is in a hurry and wants to carry me, I must walk alone.
If it is paper, it must be torn.
If it has buttons, they must be pressed.
If the volume is low, it must go high.
If it is toilet paper, it must be unrolled on the floor.
If it is a drawer, it must be pulled upon.
If it is a toothbrush, it must be inserted into my mouth.
If it has a faucet, it must be turned on at full force.
If it is a phone, I must talk to it.
If it is a bug, it must be swallowed.
If it doesn't stay on my spoon, it must be dropped on the floor.
If it is not food, it must be tasted.
If it IS food, it must not be tasted.
If it is dry, it must be made wet with drool, milk, or toilet water.
If it is a car seat, it must be protested with arched back.
If it is Mommy, it must be hugged.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

A world without objects is a sensible emptiness

Open letters to my stuff:

Dear cellphone,

I realize that you are, at times, overworked, and it must be dreadful to have to endure Paige's abuse: the opening, the shutting, the haphazard button mashing.

But please, cellphone, come home. I miss you. Mostly I miss returning phone calls when I'm in the car, particularly during the long drive to and from Owen's school. It's really, really hard to talk on the phone at home, and dammit, I need you. OK? I admit it. I need you.

I'll treat you better. I'll keep you charged. I'll try to leave you in the same place all the time so you're never misplaced again. Just come back.

Yours in social isolation because I haven't returned a call in 3 weeks,



Dear upper thread on my sewing machine:

Enough with the slipping and the bunching already. You're ruining all my projects.

Yours in relief that many of the things I make are eventually turned right side out,



Dear future dishwasher and microwave,

Lately I have told a few people that hand washing dishes and warming milk on the stove really aren't that much more trouble and that we're getting used to being without two of the most convenient appliances in the kitchen. That is a lie. It's more trouble. I'm not used to it.

Go on sale already so we can buy you.

Yours in withdrawal from my nightly popcorn binge,



Dear markers:

When you see Mitch, roll. Roll far away. If he captures you anyway, and you find yourself being pulled down a wall or scribbled upon furniture, run out of ink.

Your willingness to cooperate could mean the difference between selling this house and murdering my husband because he doesn't have an office in which to chat with clients on speaker phone and because he keeps getting annoyed that the 15 month old squawks so frequently. As if anyone could keep a 15 month old from squawking.

Yours in disbelief that my son wrote his name on the toilet seat,



Dear kitty litter,

Change yourself. I hate you.

Not yours at all, whatsoever,



Dear work-issued laptop which I also use as my personal computer,

I just got an email from someone in IT. He says he needs to borrow you to run what he calls "inventory software." I don't know what that means, but could you please check yourself for anything embarrassing/inappropriate/overly personal before IT guy examines your innards?

And also back up the 5,034 family photos that are stored on you, 'cause I probably shouldn't be using you for that since you're a work computer.

Yours in hoping the IT guys doesn't open the folder marked "miscellaneous,"


Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The 2008 Mean Mommy Family Resolutions

It's the first day of the new year: time to reevaluate and reshape our lives, time to grow, become better people, and find new ways to justify starting tomorrow (are New Year's resolutions supposed to start on January 1st? Cause if so...whoops.)

This year, the members of my family have committed to the following resolutions:

John: Get in shape (why he spent New Year's Day watching an Australia's Biggest Loser marathon on FoxReality)

Ashley: Manage our money better (why I made sure that 75% of today's order from Gap.com was on clearance.)

Bailey: Eat healthy and exercise (why we used skim milk in the chocolate chip cookies we baked tonight.)

Owen: Eat more vegetables (why he chose potato chips as a side with lunch.)

Mitch: Help clean up (why he doused every room in the house with the contents of an entire can of air freshener.)

Paige: Stop eating food found under the table (why she checked under the cereal cabinet for her after dinner snack.)

Wishing a happy, healthy 2008 to you all!