Blitzkrieg Barf

Last Monday I left work early to take care of my sick kid.  Earth-shattering news, I know.  But typically my husband, who works from home most days, is there to manage such unpleasant occurrences.  Hence, mercifully, my bailing from work early is a rarity.  In fact, it has happened only one other time.  That day I recall receiving frantic text messages all morning about Exorcist-like regurgitation and roaring spillways of mucous.  I sped home in complete terror of the germ-orgy that awaited me.  When I arrived, I began to wonder whether accounts had been slightly dramatized.  Aside from seeming a bit sluggish (which really just meant he was willing to sit still for more than ten minutes at a time, rather than terrorizing our cat or attempting to rip out the drywall) he seemed to be in good shape.  Nary a sniffle.  The remainder of the evening proceeded without incident and I began to think that I had somehow won the vomit lottery.

This week’s incident began in much the same way; frantic texts and a race home, only to find a happy, active, normal seeming child.  The hubs and I chalked it up to excitement at my rare mid-day appearance; he left for work and I put the little sick one down for his afternoon nap.  While he snoozed, I puttered around the house, gave myself a pedicure and caught up on DVR’d reality television.  What the hell was he complaining about?  This was cake.

The evening progressed without event; oyster crackers and orange Pedialyte over cartoons, a dinner of lightly buttered elbow macaroni, even a couple minutes of light play in the backyard.  I was starting to feel pretty darn satisfied with myself.  And why not?  I was supermom, and all it took to cure my child’s illness was my mere presence.  I had actual magical healing powers!  Bring me your ailing, your injured, your infirm, and I shall lay my healing hands upon them!  Someone point me toward the nearest leper colony!

I was deep in thought, devising ways my superior motherly instinct could be harnessed for the benefit of all mankind (Seriously, Science, go ahead and start making vacation plans because someone just swooped in and cured all the diseases.  You’re welcome.), when my son approached me and wailed, “Mooooooommy!  My tummy hurts!”  Clearly he’d forgotten that I had already healed him.  My infinite maternal compassion took hold, and I scooped him into my arms for a gentle reminder.  Then… it happened.  The barf dam burst and the boy and I were suddenly awash in a sea of half-digested orange liquid and simple carbohydrates.  The universe had sensed my hubris, and its justice was swift and terrible.  I can’t be 100% certain, but I think I may have seen his head spin – if not a complete 360, it had to be close.  It was a humbling moment indeed.  I think the lesson could have been learned without having to clean neon orange vomit out of my bra, but point well taken.

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Welcome to the Jungle(Gym)

Here’s a confession that is bound to land me in the bad-parent hall of fame, right there next to Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest and that lady who put her baby in a tanning bed:  I hate the park.  I know, I know, I’m terrible.  Apparently I’m missing that gene that allows one to derive endless joy from pushing a swing back and forth for hours on end.  Which I’m convinced is the same gene that enables you to dust your house more than once a month or iron a shirt without burning a hole in it.  But honestly, I just don’t understand the appeal.

Maybe it’s the sand you can’t sift through without finding 65 used band-aids, or the colorful graffiti, lovingly scrawled by the spelling/logic impaired; but the park is just not my scene.  I try to be a good sport, I really do.  But my main issue is that the park is always chock full of one of my least favorite things:  other people.  And oh, they are other, those people!  Why is it that only the extreme ends of the parenting spectrum appear to be represented?  There is seemingly no middle-ground between the hovering, absurdly enthusiastic, fruit-snack dispensing parent-droids and the bench dwelling sloths that wouldn’t look up from their text conversation if their kid was on fire.  And the kids, oh god the kids!  Roving bands of snot-nosed urchins ready to cough Pertussis directly into your mouth if you dare come within 5 feet of them.  Last week, a boy no more than 5 years-old walked up to me, looked me dead in the eye and said “I’m going to kick your kid in the face.”  WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!?  I reacted to the situation the way any reasonable parent would, by telling him that if he so much as tries it I will break into his house while he’s sleeping and break all his toys.  One of my proudest moments, obviously.  This incident occurred only a few days after a little girl with an utterly Machiavellian plot to overthrow the pirate ship slide nearly hurled my child down a flight of stairs.  Really, you should have seen this girl.  She was terrifying.  I can only imagine her evenings are spent huddled under a Dora the Explorer comforter with a flashlight and a dog-eared copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War.  The whole park-going ritual has taken on a bit of a Lord of the Flies feel, as of late.  Remind me later to Google ‘Fisher Price “My First Brass Knuckles”’ so I don’t have to feel like I’m sending my little guy in unarmed.

Yeah, but what the hell does it do?

Even on the days when it isn’t teeming with tiny sociopaths and the people who parent them, the park is still not my favorite.  Don’t misunderstand me; I’m not a total monster.  I love it when my son is having fun – fresh air, sunshine, blah, blah, blah.  But up the slide, down the slide, up the slide, down the slide… come on!  I can only keep my enthusiasm up for so long.  And can someone please tell me exactly when classic playground elements became so painfully outdated?  Aside from the fact that there have been no substantial advancements in swing technology, most modern playground equipment bears little resemblance to anything I remember.  Jungle gyms appear to have been replaced with contraptions that look like medieval torture devices.  But perhaps I’m just a traditionalist.  Or maybe I feel cheated that I grew up with lame-ass monkey bars instead of super-sweet zip lines.  Either way, I can’t help but miss the metal merry-go-rounds from my childhood.  The ones that gave you 3rd degree ass burns on sunny days and spun so fast they could enrich uranium.

So there you have it.  Add the park to the list of things that didn’t magically become more fun upon becoming a parent, right along with 6:00 AM wakeup calls and cleaning up another person’s feces. (Although, I really didn’t have high hopes for that last one)  There are still plenty of things my son and I can agree are the bee’s knees:  going for long walks, super messy art projects and impromptu living room dance parties, to name a few.  Maybe I need to cut myself a little slack for sometimes finding even the “fun” parts of parenting just a little bit tedious.  I’ve never been so delusional as to think I’d be a perfect mom, but somehow always feel a little guilty when I fall short.  No one is ever going to love every part of it, and that’s okay.  Or maybe it’s a simple matter of perspective.  Sure, the park may seem boring if I’m comparing it to, say, happy hour with 2-for-1 gin and tonics.  But hey, at least it isn’t cleaning up another person’s feces!

Just Add Water

Hoping everyone had a super fantastic Labor Day weekend.  I know, I know…a little late on the draw.  Give me a break, huh?  Blogging ain’t easy!  For me, the final days of summer are always bittersweet.  And by that, I mean I spend the better part of August throwing tantrums whenever I notice the sun setting early or the temp dipping below 85 degrees.  But thanks to a mini-heat wave in the Twin Cities, we were able to give the summer a proper send-off with one final trip to the pool.

I absolutely love the pool.  I do.  Perhaps more than a 31-year-old woman should love paddling around in a body of water comprised of no less than 3% little kid urine.  But I just can’t help it.  One whiff of chlorine and I’m gone; the nostalgia takes over and I’m 8-years-old again, pedaling my pink banana-seat Schwinn the two blocks from my house to the public pool.  I’d while the afternoons Marco Polo’ing with other neighborhood urchins, or parked at the concession stand, plowing through envelopes of Lik-M-Aid like Lindsay Lohan through a gram of Colombia’s finest.  Hours were spent launching myself into water exactly 8 degrees warmer than the Bering Sea, serenaded by the sweet, mullet-y sounds of Richard Marx over the loudspeaker as I re-surfaced from one sweet-ass jack knife after another.  (Yes, I said Richard Marx…shut up, it was the late 80’s!)  To this day, I’m convinced Hawaiian Tropic SPF 5 contains some sort of mystical gypsy powers.  If I could spend five hours on a concrete pool deck without even a hint of sunburn, surely there must be some scientific properties we could harness to reverse global warming?  Remind me to look into that later…

More than two decades later, there is still no way I’d rather spend a summer day.  I wish I could say I had the same fondness for naturally occurring bodies of water, but let’s be real.  Fish poop in there!  Thankfully, I’m picking up on signs that indicate my son may share my unnatural love of chlorinated water.  At 2 ½, his attention span is that of a gerbil that’s gone off Ritalin, but he’ll spend hours splashing and flailing with unbridled glee.  It’s our summer thing.  Daddy’s in charge of the park, but Mama’s got the pool.  As excited as I am to share this with him, I’m already dreading the day when he’s old enough that I no longer have an excuse to jump in with him.  Whatever will I do when he’s too cool to hang poolside with his mom and her overstuffed beach bag full of Elmo towels and Goldfish crackers?  While I do love the water, I’m not a strong swimmer by any means – you’ll never catch me doing a lap.  Without a kid in tow, bystanders will likely confuse my aquatic-enthusiasm with some sort of severe mental disorder.  “Mommy, what’s wrong with that lady?” the children will ask.  “Don’t stare, sweetie.  She might come over here.” Nope, that won’t do.  I’ll have to save it all up until I’m old enough for senior citizen water aerobics.  I’ll simply bide by time by shopping for full coverage bathing suits and floral swimming caps.  But until that day, I’ll doggie-paddle like no one’s watching.

Adventures in Baby-Naming

Kim Zolciak

This is someone’s mother.

Two of my most favorite things on the planet are babies and trashy reality television (not always in that order).  Occasionally the stars align and those two interests converge, and I am barely able to contain my horrified glee.  Last weekend, Kim Zolciak, star of Bravo’s Real Housewives of Atlanta and the artist responsible for the resplendent work of musical genius that is Tardy for the Party, gave birth to her second child with husband, Atlanta Falcons defensive end Kroy Biermann.  What moniker, you may ask, could possibly befit this crowned prince of basic cable?  Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Kash Kade Biermann.  Oy.

Perhaps it was optimistic of me to believe we’d already sunk as low as we could go on the celebrity baby-naming front.  (I mean come on, Mariah Carey….Moroccan and Monroe?!  Inevitably, someday, these children will be forced to sit through Glitter – isn’t that psychologically damaging enough?)  Apparently we had much, much further to fall.  Kash Kade.  Oh, the humanity.  Now I know what you may be thinking, the father’s name is Kroy.  Perhaps they’re simply trying to continue a proud tradition of names that are simply nonsensical noises?  You can tell by her watermelon-sized implants and penchant for bedazzled denim that they’re a family of steadfast traditionalists.  I’m certain Tiffany & Co. has already been commissioned to design the finest teething-grill reality TV money can buy.

Please know that when I embarked upon this rant, it was with full awareness that my own choice in baby-names may not be everyone’s favorite flavor.  I recently read a blog post asserting that naming a child after a dead jazz musician immediately outs you as a pretentious hipster douche – yikes!  But we thought Miles sounded nice.  And hey, at least we didn’t name him Thelonius.  But here’s my issue with their choice of forename:  there will never be a doctor named Kash Kade.  They have effectively sealed his fate.  Although, one could argue fates were sealed the moment a reality television star decided to procreate with someone whose primary job duty is being bashed in the head.  But they didn’t even give the little guy a chance.

So let us reset our expectations for the wee baby Biermann.  Perhaps someday when his entrance to Mensa is unjustly denied for having a name that sounds like a scratch-off lottery ticket or a disinherited Kardashian, he’ll discover the wealth of opportunity available to a grown man named Kash Kade.  After all, the world will always need nightclub promoters – those Monday night 18+ Foam Parties aren’t going to fill themselves with sexually confused college freshmen.  So in the interest of not being labeled a party-pooper, I raise my glass to baby Kash Kade.  And to reality TV in general, for even with their baby names they always manage to keep it klassy.  K-cheers!

Track and Field

 

There is no reason this should exist.  But there it was.  A monstrosity in wind-breaker, a 96% polyester nightmare, hidden among consignment store racks of second-hand Baby Gap.  It was mere days before Christmas and it seemed inconceivable that this little gem was not lovingly wrapped and waiting under someone’s tree.  Screw toys!  What every kid really wants for Christmas is the wardrobe of a sexually ambiguous P.E. teacher circa 1987. Right?  Of course they do.

I slyly took out my phone and snapped a photo for later, intending to flabbergast my husband with the tale of my discovery.  This was truly something rare; a thrift-store Sasquatch.  Photographic evidence was necessary to corroborate my story.  Thinking a snapshot was more than sufficient, I left empty-handed.  But it haunted me.

How…HOW…could I have left without purchasing this?!  The next day was Christmas Eve – I had to wait a full two days to return.  It was absolutely agony.  Ideas for next year’s fitness-themed Kramer holiday card filled my brain.  Do they make sweat bands in children’s sizes?  What is an optimal barbell weight for a two-year-old?  Where can I find a Sony S2 Sports Walkman in banana yellow?  Oh, this was happening.

At the crack of 10 am on December 26th, with $1.25 in hand, I returned to claim my bounty.  The ironic nature of my purchase was entirely lost on the unsuspecting clerk.

“Oh my!  A little jogging suit!”

“Yup, the little guy sure does love jogging.”

Seventy-five cents later (thanks to a post-holiday 50% off sale); it was part of our reality.  It has only come out a few times – mostly it’s just there, defying the laws of logic and good taste every time I venture to the bottom of my son’s dresser drawer.  It has come to be known simply as “the outfit”.  Though, if we really gave it some thought, I’m sure we could come up with a more fitting name.  Temptation in Teal?  Dodgeball Debonair?  The “Drop and Give Me 20, Mister!”?  We’ll keep working on it…

There is no reason this should exist.  And there is absolutely no reason I should be so pleased that it does.

Rock Out With Your Crocs Out

In my brief tenure as someone’s mother, I’ve uttered many phrases I had previously thought I never would.  From emphatic declarations regarding the color and consistency of another person’s fecal matter (almost always the kid’s, I promise) to heartfelt affirmations on the superior cargo capacity of mini-vans; I’ve said some things that would cause my pre-parenthood self to recoil in hipster-horror.  But the following words, spoken upon departure from an afternoon at the local swimming pool, unequivocally take the shame cake:

“Let’s put on your Crocs, honey.  It’s time to go.”

Sweet tap dancing cripes, who in the hell have I become?!

It seems slightly unreasonable that a shoe, any shoe, could inspire such rancor in a person, but I’ve been known to deliver epic diatribes on the general hideousness of these techni-color foam monstrosities.  Children who donned them were doomed, by no fault of their own, to a lifetime of insufferable dorkiness.  Adults who willingly chose them had completely given up on ever again being regarded as a sexual being.  They were an offense akin to mom-jeans.  The only Crocs enthusiasts to escape my ire were nurses and Mario Batali.  All those not administering tourniquets or cooking delicious pasta dishes were awarded my stink-faced judgment.

I was doggedly determined to remain an anti-Crocs household at all costs.  Until, that is, my mother alerted me of a package en route to our house; the contents of which included one pair of the devil’s footwear in a toddler’s size 6.  I attempted to protest, until one phrase managed to melt away all my shoe-elitist resolve, “But when they get dirty, you can just hose them off.”  I thought immediately of the closet full of adorable, expensive sneakers being systematically destroyed by the puddle-jumping whims of a two-year-old mess machine.  Soil the Crocs to save the Vans?  Okay, I was in.

And so the elicit package arrived.  I steeled myself and slowly opened the box, ready to face down the demon.  As promised, there they were; the murky blue of a freshly bruised shin.  And so I applied the off-duty clown shoes to my sweet angel’s heretofore unsullied feet.  And much to my chagrin, he was immediately smitten.  He merrily stomped about, stopping intermittently to admire his foam-clad tootsies.  Could my son be a closet dork?  The thought was too much to bear.  We had to road test these warlocks before I lost my nerve and buried them in the yard.

Outside I watched as he tromped through mud, crud and the odd piece of petrified dog crap.  It felt surprisingly liberating, not cringing every time he approached a potential shoe-annihilating landmine.  When playtime ended, I carefully removed the dirt plastered clogs and cranked the garden hose to 11.  As promised, all evidence of his the mud-fueled rampage washed down the driveway and I hung my head in shame.  Dear God, the dorks were right.

My name is Jeni, and my son wears Crocs.  It still feels slightly dirty to admit this, even though he’s been rocking them for the better part of the summer.  Add this to the list of broken promises, the “swore I would never”s, those brash declarations you make before you have kids and slowly, sneakily become a bizarre incarnation of your former self.  My name is Jeni, and my son wears Crocs.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go and order 17 pairs of tiny Chuck Taylors in an attempt to restore order to the universe.

Beware the DBD

It’s summertime – time for BBQ’s, fireworks and all things aquatic!  In addition to sunburn, there is another potential danger lurking, just waiting for the opportunity to ruin your warm weather fun.  I’m referring, of course, to that most irritating and invasive of species, the Douchebag Dad.  There’s one in every lake, pool and pond;  running a little too fast, yelling a little too loud, and taking good-natured roughhousing to dickish new heights.

Who’s that blasting other people’s children in the face with a Super Soaker at point blank range?  Why it’s Douchebag Dad, of course!

A playful little toss into the air may be enough to delight your average toddler, but Douchebag Dad will launch that little sucker 30 feet in the air and shotgun a Coors Light before catching them.

Playful dunking or simulated drowning?  Tomato – tomahto!  Douchebag Dad will almost always make sure to let them up before the bubbles stop.

While there is no marking rendering the Douchebag Dad instantly identifiable, be on the lookout for wrap-around sunglasses and Looney Tunes-themed tattoos.  If you encounter a Douchebag Dad, do not provoke them.  They are not above administering a wedgie or an unwelcomed barrage of fart jokes to an unsuspecting adult.  If you are approached, it is advisable to play dead.  Or pretend to read a book – unless printed on a beer koozie, the written word acts as a natural repellent to the Douchebag Dad.  Much like the common mosquito, the Douchebag Dad is an unavoidable summer pest.  But armed with the proper education, we can greatly reduce their nuisance.  Look sharp, and stay safe out there!