Thursday, September 1, 2011

If You Talk to My Little Kid About Sex, I Will Find You and Hurt You.

My eldest daughter recently turned six. Here's a conversation we had in the car the other day:

ME: Look at that lady, five kids, oooh that's too many.

KID: Maybe I won't have any kids.

ME: That would be sad. No Halloween costumes, no dance recitals, no summer camps?

KID: Well, whatever, Mom, it's not as if you get to get to CHOOSE how many kids you get.

Hmmm. This might have been what they call a "teachable moment." But hell if I was going to make my first delicate foray into Birds & Bees Land when the kid's ballet class was scheduled to start in eight minutes.

I am not of the "tell little kids blatant lies about sex" camp. Nor am I of the "show your toddler a medical textbook about copulation" camp. I am more of the "little kids should be given as little information as possible on a need-t0-know basis" camp. Hence my daughter's slightly inaccurate belief that babies just "happen" to a person.

Other still-preserved misconceptions of my daughter's: Babies come out of mommies' bellies through "zippers." You can thank my VERY CONVENIENT three-time C-section scar for this one. And another: Babies are born only to people who are married. Very "red state" of me to let this one stand, no?

But what can I say-- I want this kid to have a CHILDHOOD. A LOOOONG childhood. And an INNOCENT one. Ideally, one that is free from YouTube videos and sexual knowhow and pink feathers in her hair (I recently lost the battle on that one thanks to a friend's birthday party) (I now refer to it openly as her "stripper feather") (she doesn't know what a "stripper" is but I hope she gets from my tone that it's not a word typically associated with the Ivy League) (yes she DOES know what the Ivy League is, damnit!).

I know that the time is going to come when I kick myself for not educating the kid sooner. Like, when she comes home from school in panicked tears because some classmate on the playground told her that babies come out of vaginas and she's all traumatized and shit. (Then again, maybe this will go over her head, too-- I am really breaking from the pack here and still allowing my kids to use the adorable word "cooch" instead of the ugliest-word-in-the-world "vagina." Query, then, as to whether a schoolyard education would even faze her at all. Ha! Foiled again, sexually-well-informed childhood-stealers!)

Look, my (irrational?) fear about little kids' sex education is just like my (irrational?) fear of technology-- that once you let it in, it's a bell that can't be unrung, and it has the potential to change everything. Once my precocious little girl understands that a penis enters a vagina.... UGH I can just imagine the stunned look on her face when she hears those words, and I imagine that all of the color (read: INNOCENCE) will instantly drain out of her flushed cheeks. Not that sex is bad, of COURSE not... but it's just so completely incompatible with the notion of childhood. And with my 6-year-old *already* foregoing trips to the toy store in favor of trips to the shoe store, can you blame me for throwing my entire body weight against the door that GROWN-UP-ED-NESS is so forcefully trying to blow down? Is it wrong to want to shelter her from the adult world for as long as I responsibly can?

I'm a GO BIG OR GO HOME kind of person. Once I give the sex talk, I'm probably gonna give it to all my girls at once... and I'm probably gonna distribute birth control pills at the end of it. And in light of the fact that my youngest daughter is only three, perhaps you can understand why I'm stalling a bit.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I expected that being a good parent would often mean standing alone.

No, you can't stay out past midnight. No, you can't have the car keys. No, you can't have a $200 pair of jeans.

What I didn't expect is that the standing alone part would start so young. My kid is SIX.

No, you can't have an iTouch. No, you can't have unfettered access to the internet. No, you can't ask the Tooth Fairy to leave you a $20 bill, just because you have a friend who did.

Was it always this way, where the indulgences of adulthood commenced their siren song on the KINDERGARTEN playground? I don't know... my memory is foggy about my own childhood... the only struggles I remember were over when I could get my ears pierced (so far, my daughters' earlobes are intact) and when I could get a private landline telephone in my bedroom (ahahaha landline). But historically accurate or not, I feel that our children are much more jaded than we were, and at such a tender age. Not that it's their fault-- every kiddie tv program concludes with "Ask a grown-up and go to www dot..." Every elementary school classroom comes equipped with its Mean Girls and its designer clotheshorses. Every iPhone seems limitlessly loaded with children's video games, PERFECT for entertaining little ones on long flights.

And yet, there my husband and I sit, wearily suffering in our crowded airplane seats, trying desperately to keep 3 children under 7 entertained with good old-fashioned coloring books, stickers, and snacks.


So WHAT if we were to let them screw around on, or, or after school? So WHAT if we were to indulge them with the occasional designer duds or Tooth Fairy windfall? So WHAT if we were to give each of them an iTouch, at least for long trips or waiting rooms or rainy Saturday afternoons?

Part of me wants to give in. Part of me knows that the "research" on children and early access to technology is inconclusive; maybe one day it will be proven that kids who exist primarily in a virtual world end up SMARTER and more mentally NIMBLE than those who exist primarily in the tangible world. Part of me has grown impatient with drafting scavenger hunt lists, and playing boring board games, and negotiating over how many pages are to be read before bedtime. Maybe kids do just FINE with greater access to technology, money, and other adult fare.

But even as I write that... it doesn't sound right to me. A six-year-old doesn't NEED a 20-dollar bill from the Tooth Fairy, any more than she NEEDS designer jeans, any more than she NEEDS access to the internet. I actually do, for the most part, BELIEVE the party line that I routinely deliver around here: If we let you do all the grown-up stuff NOW, then what will you have to look forward to when you're older??

And yet I'm exhausted. Already! Exhausted from trying to stand by my principles; exhausted from trying to raise my own kids within the basic structural framework in which I was raised. Because this is not the 70s anymore, and it's no longer just a question of how many hours a kid spends in front of the boob tube each day. Today a parent has to do this tedious calculation of hours of tv + hours of internet + hours of text message + hours of instant message + hours of Farmville. And then we have to worry whether there is ANY hour left over for homework.

In the end, I think I struggle not because I don't believe in the uphill battle I'm waging-- I do-- but because I feel like it's a battle I am DESTINED TO LOSE. At *some* point in the future, I am going to HAVE to give my daughters a computer... a cell phone... money to go to the mall; and I can't help but feel that THAT is the moment when I lose them. Because truly, when given the choice between Facebook and Physics 101, what conventionally-wired teenager could EVER possess the self-restraint to make the "right" choice? Would *I* have been able to resist it, if I were a kid in this day and age?

And so I question myself. And then I feel guilty. And I worry that I'm asking too much of my girls, or denying them too much. And I dread the inevitable, when technology plants itself squarely in the center of our family room and preempts our low-tech human interactions.

And then I go check my Facebook account.


What do *you* think? Is the Apple computer also YOUR family's forbidden fruit? Or am I just making life harder than it needs to be?

Friday, August 5, 2011

Sex in the Suburbs

And this, ladies, is our life.

(Note: This link may be NSFW.)

Wednesday, September 29, 2010


Ok. So here's an embarrassing thing I did tonight.

It was getting late. On a school night. My husband was out of town on business. I was trying to wrangle three small children into their respective beds. We were nearing the finish line. I could see the light.

Dinner done. Bath done. Time for pajamas!

I opened the drawer full of sleepwear. Being that all three girls are roughly the same size, it's a nightly free-for-all, where every kid gets to select an ensemble that matches her mood. It's a fun routine!

Except for tonight. When war broke out.

Over the stuuuuuuupid Minnie Mouse 2-piece schmatte, no less, that no one ever gave a rat's ASS about before this night.

The sound of high-pitched screeching prompted me to spin around, at which point I see my 2-year-old attempting to forcefully strip the garment off my 3-year-old's body, and, as you can imagine, much agitated hollering from both ensued.

I was on my last nerve already.
This was not helping.

I got down on the floor with them. "WHAT ABOUT THIS ONE?... OR THIS ONE?" I begged the 2-year-old, flinging pajamas out of the box to no avail.

"THEN JUST GIVE HER THE PAJAMAS!" I ordered the 3-year-old, pleading at her with my eyes to no avail.

"OK, THEN GIVE HER ONE *HALF* OF THE PAJAMAS!" I countered, and finally hit a somewhat rational chord with my somewhat rational 3-year-old, who stopped howling long enough to remove the pajama pants and hold them out defeatedly to her little sister.

"NO, WANT THE SHIRT TOOOOOO!" wailed the decidedly less rational 2-year-old, face turning beet red and snot and tears consuming her face.

My aggravation was turning into panic.

And so, in a moment of pure desperation, I stood up and announced flatly:


And the 3-year-old, God bless her, recently coveting a bottle of electric pink nail polish in CVS (and mistakenly believing that 5 dollars would buy her 5 nail polishes, I later found out), couldn't get out of the damn pajamas fast enough. The 2-year-old, meanwhile, too amped up to take real pleasure in her victory but still oblivious to the power of the penny, finally stopped crying.

And just like that the crisis was over.
Peace was restored.
I wasn't going to have to run away from home! (tonight.)

So I ask you...

*not* whether it is morally inappropriate to pay off toddlers with cold hard cash (because I already know the answer, and believe me when I tell you I DON'T CARE), but simply...

*WHY* didn't I think of this sooner?


Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Summer Slacker.


Still here.

Just took the summer off.

Not because anything terrible happened.

Just because I got lazy, or overheated, or caught up in silly things that seemed important at the time but now I can't remember.

But I think of you!

And I am coming back. Soon. We're just in the middle of a move, and changing schools, and I kinda feel exhausted to my core, even when I have just woken up...

Can't wait to talk to you.


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Normal Day.

I have been having a terrible time with my 5-year-old lately.

She seems to be desperately stuck between two worlds: on the one hand, she can carry on a sophisticated conversation about a very mature subject to the point that you forget you're talking to a kid; and on the other hand, she has taken to extremely babyish meltdowns over the most trivial (in my opinion) things (i.e., my telling her that she's taking too long washing her hands and needs to hurry up). Whenever she crumples to the floor, loudly wailing and dramatically quivering her bottom lip, I find myself exploding onto her with frustration. HOW CAN YOU BE SUCH A BIG GIRL AND SUCH A BABY AT THE SAME TIME?

And yet.

Sometimes, when the kids are finally all asleep, and the house is quiet, and I have a minute to reflect on how stressed I was that day, and how many times I caught myself yelling at the kids, and how I at one point resorted to sitting outside on the front steps so that the kids wouldn't see me crying with exasperation.... I realize that I don't really have anything to be upset about at all.

The "problems" of my day are ones that many moms, who find themselves in far, far more dire straits, would kill to have.

I have two friends whose children were recently diagnosed with significant medical problems. Those women have had their worlds turned upside down. I experience their pain, for fleeting moments at a time, through their anguished status updates. And then I go back to pulling my hair out because my three children can't stop tattling on each other for five minutes.

And that's more than a little bit crazy.

So I have been moved to revisit these two little nuggets of wisdom, the first one brought into my life by, if I remember correctly,, and the second, by The video clip is a few minutes long but I don't think you'll regret taking the time. And even if you've seen it before, I find it still makes an impact, even upon repeat viewing.

The next time, then, that I find myself sitting on the doorstep gritting my teeth in what feels like madness, I hope I will remember these messages, and go back inside and hug my kids. 'Cuz even when a normal day absolutely SUCKS, it's still a normal day, and for that I need to be more grateful. xo.

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it will not always be so. One day, I may dig my nails in the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want more than all the world--your return.
-Jean Irion

Friday, June 18, 2010

Guess the Baby Face Couldn't Last Forever...

Well, it finally happened.

I was checking my reflection in the overhead visor of my car today when I spotted it.

My first gray hair. Right near my temple. Glistening in the sunlight. I was tempted to yank it, but I decided to leave it there. Still not sure why. I think it's because I love to torture myself?

Now I know that, for many of you, this is not big news. Some of you have been dealing with gray hairs for a while now, and from you, I don't expect sympathy.

But I am a newcomer to this world of old lady follicles. And it's not a place I'm finding particularly comfortable.

Combine this recent discovery with the other harsh realities I've been dealing with of late:

...the sudden appearance of thin little lines at the corners of my eyes, and across my forehead, that don't go away even in the complete absence of any facial expression...

...the slow but steady erosion of whatever breastesses I once had, a sacrifice not in vain due to their nothing-short-of heroic efforts in feeding 3 children for 3 years, but a crippling blow to my self-image nonetheless...

...and the dogged insistence of my unrestrained belly to keep puffing out to its 3-month pregnant dimensions, regardless of the fact that no further pregnancies are forthcoming.

So here I am, wrinkly, both puffy and flat but in all the wrong places... and now with a gray hair.

If this is what I look like two months short of age 36, I shudder to think how the wheels will have completely fallen off the wagon some thirty years from now! Will I be a raisin with legs??


All recommendations for eye creams, hair dye, and girdles welcome in the comments section below.

Kindly take a moment and help ease my transition into OLD.