Hitting the Bottle

Recently a coworker forwarded me a newsletter from a wine collecting website (wait, so you’re saying you procure the wine and don’t immediately pour the entire bottle down your gullet?  Sounds crazy to me, but okay, I’ll go along with it…).  This particular edition’s subject line read “5 Great Sipping Wines for Parents to Bring on Playdates”.  Not sure if all their subject lines are equally as compelling, but this one certainly had my number.  While I browsed their list of summery whites, the addition of a Spanish Txokoli made me realize that I need to step away from the 3 buck Chuck and broaden my horizons a bit.  How could there be wines out there I’ve never even heard of?  It hardly seemed possible.  The article also got me thinking, while Moscatos and Rieslings are all well and good, there’s a whole world of distilled spirits out there.  Perhaps we’d be wise to let the type of playdate dictate our beverage selections?  Here are just a few examples of playdates greatly enhanced by the right libation:

1. “You Are NOT the Father” Fiesta

Gather a few of your closest friends (and their young’uns) to watch Maury Povich on the barely working black and white television on your porch.  It’s simply the best way to enjoy a bit of fresh air without missing your stories!  Extra host points if you distribute GPC Menthol 100’s for guests to enjoy while the children whip each other with broken car antennae.

Recommended wine:  Lukewarm box of Franzia

2.  Betty Draper Bash 

While your husband is putting in those “long hours at the office”, repeatedly dialing his mistress and shrieking obscenities can be a real gas!  It may not count as a playdate in the traditional sense, but little Junior’s nanny or an imaginary friend he’s created to cope with your brazen neglect both make excellent companions in impish merriment.  They can even join in the fun by planting your expensive jewelry in the cleaning lady’s coat pocket – accuse her of lifting it and the excitement ensues!

Recommended cocktail:  fine gin martini

Accompaniments:  Valium, tacit resentment

3.  Send in the Clowns

Gather up those tiny Juggalos and let’s head on down to the dark carnival of souls!  There’s no time like the present for baby’s first Insane Clown Posse concert.  Make sure to pack plenty of black and white face paint for all the little Big Money Hustlas in your group.  No need to bring refreshments for the youngsters, soda is typically provided.

Recommended cocktail:  Jack & Coke

4.  Silicone Social

Invite all your super young looking friends over for an in-home spa party.  No need to acknowledge the ravages of time when you’ve got the fanciest, most idiotic treatments money can buy!  Make sure to confirm your booking with Demi Moore’s doctor well in advance to ensure there enough medical grade leeches for all your guests.  Don’t worry about activities for the children.  They’ll be happy as clams passing hors d’oeuvres, placing electrodes or administering syringes of black market Guatemalan Botox.  You’ll get that Pete Burns forehead that is oh so chic this season and they’ll get a chance to showcase their superior hand-eye coordination.  Plus it’s never too early for little Suzy to learn a valuable lesson about self-esteem.

Recommended cocktail:  Dom Perignon mimosa

Accompaniments:  beluga caviar amuse bouche, estrogen patches

In the event my suggestions fail to move you, please see the following link to the original article by snooth.com for a truly lovely list of low alcohol sipping wines.  Cheers!



Dining with Toddlers is Fun for Everyone!

Training Manual for Childless Restaurant Staff:  A Practical Guide to Winning Parents’ Approval and Increasing Earning Potential!

As a parent of a toddler, I can imagine no worse fate for a server than to wind up with the table comprised of frazzled parents and their insufferable offspring.  I feel your pain, I truly do.  I submit to you, the following guidelines.  When followed to the letter, they will net you major financial gains.  Because the truth of the matter is, lavish enough praise on their progeny and parents are pretty much the biggest bunch of chumps you’ll ever encounter.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

Host or hostess (who themselves appear to be in violation of child labor laws):
Seat us promptly.  Do not request I park my stroller in a designated area.  Do not refer to myself, husband and child as “two and a half for dinner?”  Yes, I have heard this.  No, I did not laugh the first time.  Nor will I laugh the 1,734th time.  Stop it.  Stop it now.  To the same end, do not make me ask for a high chair.  Yes, the toddler attempting to pry himself from my arms and launch himself onto the floor will, in fact, need some manner of containment device.  Unless you are waiting for an available straight jacket or restaurant-grade baby kennel, make haste with the high chair.

IMMEDIATELY upon approach, begin lavishing my child with compliments and praise.  Extra points for referring to his as “Mr. Handsome”, “Little Man” or “a young James Dean, except smarter..and you know, more together” You will feel the urge to touch the cherubic boy child; resist at all costs!!!   This takes our interaction into creepy town.  I do not know where you have been.  Nor do I care to know, as it is probably infinitely more interesting that my usual haunts (i.e. Target, my sofa) and I will be jealous.  Do not, under any circumstances, be skinnier than me.  Male servers, you can sit this one out.  You’re off the hook.  But ladies, know that the dying embers of my body-confidence are stoked only by the notion that you are able to maintain that flat stomach consuming a diet comprised solely of tap water and left over lettuce garnishes.  If you tell me about how you “can’t get enough of the fettuccine alfredo!”  I will fucking eat you.

When you bring the drinks (Yes, I am having a drink while out to dinner with my baby.  Perhaps the knowledge that I am a far more generous tipper with a one-gin-and-tonic buzz may wipe that judgmental look off your face?) do not place them within reach of pudgy baby arms.  In fact, take what you believe to be arms-length and double it. The lure of off-limits consumables has something of a Stretch Armstrong effect on toddlers.  Ditto that for scalding hot plates.

As soon as said plates hit the table, just go ahead and grab that check as well.  Leaving us to linger will not encourage increased consumption of food or drink.  It will only increase the likelihood that some unfortunate bus person will be scrubbing leftovers from the floors, walls and ceiling.  As a matter of fact, grab some takeout boxes while you’re at it.  Chances are we’ll only make it through half the meal before Junior’s saint-like patience is exhausted and screeching ensues.  No need to box it for us.  Whisking our plates off to the kitchen and returning with carefully separated and labeled containers or leftovers encased in some manner of tinfoil waterfowl may be impressive to some patrons, but rest assured those minutes are critical and we have foil at home.

Finally, the goodbye.  Now this one is important.  Timing is everything.  When you see us begin to return the now food splattered books and toys into our Volkswagen sized diaper bag, you may want to make your move.  We’re still easily swayed to throw down a few extra bucks for proper parting fanfare.  “Bye bye, sweetheart!  I’ll miss you!  Really I will.  In fact, you’re so painfully adorable I’m that doubting my own life choices.  Forget this freewheeling lifestyle of mine, I must leave immediately and attempt to conceive a child who I hope will be just like you.”  Disgustingly placating?  Maybe.  Will it work?  Absolutely.  Extra points if you acknowledge the hellacious mess he’s made in a congratulatory manner.  “Looks like someone sure enjoyed his meal!  Good job, buddy!”  Good job indeed…good job indeed.

Mo Binky, Mo Problems

I recall being just a few short weeks into motherhood and shaking my fists at the gods when my chronically fussy baby refused to love his pacifier.  I’d offer it, he’d go to town on that bad boy for a few seconds, and “POP”, out it would fly.  Then the crying would start again.  I felt like the pacifier was the missing piece.  Like it was the cure-all for my parental woes and I was at a huge disadvantage without it in my bag of tricks.  “Surely he’d sleep in uninterrupted 10 hour intervals if only he’d hang on to that pacifier.”  We tried every size, shape, color, brand of pacifier under the sun.  I think there may have even been a cool ranch flavored one in there…  But sadly, none of them worked.  He was an Olympic level nurser, and he took a bottle so-sweat – but it was no-paci, no-how.

Cut to nearly two years old, and me thanking my lucky stars that we aren’t dealing with pacifier deprogramming.  Talking to other mothers, binky rehab sounds like a toddler version of Trainspotting.  I picture baggy-eyed, twitching baby junkies tottering around, desperate for just one more fix.

One of my favorite mom friends (and all around favorite people) shared her solution with me.  She and her daughter tossed pacifiers off their third floor terrace so the baby squirrels in the surrounding trees might treat themselves to a suckle.  Friggin’ genius!  I defy you to show me a tot who wouldn’t be comforted by the idea of diaper-clad baby squirrels frolicking in the treetops with binkies in their itty bitty mouths.

In a moment of mommy-masochism, I once found myself watching one of those nanny rescue type reality shows.  The latter day Mary Poppins helped a young boy kick the habit by instructing him to pack up his precious in a manila envelope addressed to the “Paci-fairy”.  He then deposited the envelope in the mail box and the next morning found the nymph had replaced his pacifier with candy and gifts.  Like the tooth fairy, but with rubber nipples.  And the little bugger could not have been more thrilled.  Also friggin’ genius!

I often try to imagine how I might be coping with this issue if I had to.  I picture myself telling the little guy that, second only to malaria, pacifier shortage is the most critical issue facing third-world countries today.  I don’t know that he’d really grasp the urgency of the situation, or that I even knew how much postage you need to ship a box of pacifiers to Rwanda.  No, I’m sure I’d have to come up with something better.  But instead I just smile and thank the same gods I cursed nearly two years ago, thankful we dodged the binky bullet.

A Meaty Problem

From time to time, I find myself at one of those parenting crossroads that drives me to internet in search of advice.  More often than not, you’ll find a wealth of information from every school of parenting imaginable.  As a person with no clear cut parenting philosophy, I tend to find this Old Country Buffet of ideas extremely appealing.  A little of this, a little of that, hit the make your own sundae bar and BAM you’re done!  But occasionally the most innocuous of questions will lead you down the rabbit hole of stupid, through the looking glass of crazy.  When my son was just shy of a year old, I set off on such a quest to find a way to curb his incessant biting.  Here are just a few of the tasty little nuggets of wisdom the World Wide Web had to offer:

1.)     Bite him back.  This one was actually the most frequently offered solution.  This eye for an eye, bite mark for slobbery bite mark approach was just a bit too biblical for me.   Seemed like a gateway to summoning plagues of locusts onto his pack and play.  Pass.

2.)    Flick his ear.  But they’re so cuuuuuuuuute!!!!  Physical reprimands just aren’t part of my parenting repertoire.  No thank you.  Besides, just look at the itty bitty things!

3.)    Redirection.  This one sounded a bit more reasonable, but logistically it seemed unlikely.  “Pardon me, son.  I can’t help but notice you latched onto my shoulder like a lamprey.  But perhaps I could interest you in a warm scone and the new issue of Architectural Digest?”  Just didn’t see it going down like that.  Next…

4.)    Offer him teriyaki flavored beef jerky.  Because hickory smoked will only feed his bloodlust?  Are you kidding me with this?  Am I raising some sort of wolf man whose incisors must tear flesh asunder?  Once I start solving my parenting woes with cured meats the issue at hand becomes much greater.  Forget it.

In the end, we went with a firmly administered “No no!  No biting!” coupled with impotently enforced time outs.  I’m sure we can attribute the end of the biting to the natural sunset of yet another odd baby phase.  But I can say for certain it was definitely not the product of retaliatory biting or dried beef products.  So in case you’re keeping score, that’s parents – 1 internet – 0.