Rants from the Crib

An Ob/Gyn gone mad

Archive for the tag “children”

A Conversation With My Daughter

“Come on, Mom,” she says. “Come keep me company while I take my bath.”

I pad into the room. I’m still a little ticked off at her, so I keep playing my game on my phone.

“REALLY, Mother,” she says. “The sounds that game makes are making me want to DROWN myself in this bathtub. Could you please turn that down?”

“I’ll turn it down when I lose the game,” I tell her. “I’m doing too good here.”

“Hurry up and lose,” she says. “You’re making me want to mutilate myself.”

“Speaking of which,” I say, “Let me see your lip again.”

She sticks out her lip, white and bumpy on one side where she’s been biting it. I touch it. She’s been biting it so much it’s hard. “I think you’re already mutilating yourself. When do you bite your lip? I don’t even see you biting it.”

“When you’re not looking,” she says.

“And when do you mess with your face?” I ask. “Your dad is always telling you not to touch your face but I never see you touching it.”

She shrugs. “I don’t. Unless it itches.”

“So why does your dad tell you to stop touching your face?”

“I don’t know.” She shrugs.

“Do you do it because it aggravates him?”

“No. I don’t do it at all.”

I ask her the question, the one her father started when she was just little. “So, what was the best and worst part of your day?”

Dramatic eyeroll. “The BEST part was play practice.”

“What was the worst part?”

“YOU know. Just now. When you snapped at me. I was just trying to turn the phone off.”

“I snapped at you because you weren’t listening to me.”

“I WAS listening to you. You just don’t give me a chance to finish saying what I’m saying.”

“You weren’t listening to me earlier in the car. I was trying to work out our schedule. We have to figure out when to do a trial run on your hair and makeup before dress rehearsal. I think our only good time is Thursday afternoon.”

“REALLY, Mother. Do you have to be so controlling?”

“Controlling?? I’m just trying to work out how we need to get everything done for you this week. We’re really busy.”

“You’re even more controlling than Daddy.”

“What?? More controlling than DADDY? What are you smoking?”

“Seriously, Mom. You are.”

“I don’t see how trying to help your life work out better is controlling. So what was the worst part of your day?”

SIGH. “Just now. When you yelled at me. Do you have to be so irritable? It’s awful when you’re irritable.”

“I haven’t been irritable all day.”

“Just NOW.”

“That was the only time. And that was because you were NOT listening to me. Moms don’t like it when their daughters don’t listen. Especially when it’s about their stuff.”

“You’ve been irritable ALL DAY.”

“I have NOT. Name one time.”

“Just now.”

“Name one other time.”

“Can I bring an extra change of clothes to school tomorrow?”

“Sure. Remind me, and we’ll grab some in the morning.”

“Let’s get them now. You can get them. Get me some jeans, and a long-sleeved top. And I need socks, to go with my boots.”

“It’s late,” I tell her. “Hurry up and get out of the tub. We have a long day tomorrow.”

“I AM getting out. We had a long day TODAY.”

“It’s longer tomorrow. Reminds me. If I go to Costco tomorrow, do you need anything?”

“No. But I want to go to Target. It’s Cole’s birthday and I want to get him a present.”

“You want to get Cole a present?”

“Of course. He told me what he wants.”

“I don’t think you should buy Cole a present. He’s not very nice to you.”

SIGH. “I guess I can tell him that’s added to the list of reasons you don’t like him. Since Daddy thinks he’s wishy-washy.”

“Daddy thinks he’s wishy-washy because he has too many girlfriends.”

“You think COLE is wishy-washy? What about his dad? He left Cole’s mom and married Mandy.”

“You mean he’s wishy-washy because he’s divorced and he’s remarried? What does that make your Dad? He divorced and remarried.”

“Wishy-washy.”

“How come you don’t use the blowdryer I gave you?”

“It’s too loud.”

“Would you get OUT of the tub already?”

She pinches a scrawny slip of skin on her tummy. “I’m so FAT.”

“Yeah. You’re a hoss. You can’t even find any fat to pinch. That’s skin.”

She turns sideways, pokes her stomach out in a grotesque parody, and says, “See?”

“Yeah,” I tell her. “I see. I see you have about 3% body fat.”

“I hope I don’t get a BUTT,” she says.

“Why not,” I ask. “Men like butts.”

“Eww,” she says. “They make you look fat.”

“No they don’t. Not if you have a waist.”

“They make you look fat. You put the wrong PE shoes in my backpack.”

“Then maybe you should take care of your own shoes.”

SIGH. “Can I read before I go to bed?”

“No. It’s a long day tomorrow.”

SIGH. Eyeroll. “You said that already. Why is it so cold in here?”

“Because you have no body fat. Get in bed.”

“Mommy?”

“Yes, hon?”

“Do you love me?”

“Of course, hon.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure.”

“More than the universe?”

“More than 2 universes.”

“More than the universe SQUARED?”

“More than that. Go to sleep.”

I pull up the covers to her chin. She snuggles Fluffy the Bear and Soft Blanket; she has them arranged. Because, despite the way the conversations go, she is not 18. She is 8. God help me.

“Good night.”

“Good night, Mommy.”

Shooting Kids

I know, we’ve all been tempted, right? It’s not what you think. If you want to accuse me of using a sensationalist title to draw in readers, fair enough. Guilty.I’m referring to photography. I am an amateur photographer. I like to photograph many things, but one of my favorite things to do is shoot kids. Think of it as going on safari. You stalk them, you grab pictures quick when they’re not moving, and do lots and lots of deleting later.

I am by no means a pro, but I have found over the years that there are some things that can help you get good kid pictures. (Or any pictures, for that matter).

First, closer, closer, closer. I have read this advice numerous times from photographers who are professionals, and I don’t think that this can be emphasized enough. Pictures whose subject is in one corner of the photo are not good photos. They look messy, and busy, and you really can’t tell what the picture is even supposed to be illustrating. Also, all sorts of photo bombs get in there. Make sure your subject (in this case, the kid or kids) completely fill the whole frame as much as possible.

Snow Girl

Snow Girl

You will also of course need to include at least a portion of what they are focused on – a ball field, a swing set, etc. But you really don’t need to include the whole object of attention – just enough to get an idea of what it is.

Snow Fort

Snow Fort

Second, if your camera has a sports setting, turn it on. The ability to take multiple photos in rapid succession is very important if you are shooting kids in motion. If you take a ton, at least one or two of them will turn out well. If you only take a couple, you most likely will not get anything worth keeping.

Honest Work

Honest Work

If you are outside, turn that flash off. It will only delay the clicking of the shutter if you are in a hurry to get multiple photos. Often, you can get away turning the flash off inside too, if you have a good DSLR camera that can compensate with correct aperture and f-stop settings. Take a couple photos inside of the same subject, with and without flash. If the quality of the no-flash pics are acceptible, turn off the flash.

Don’t pose your kids, except maybe for a few final pictures of them all together, with a finished product. Say they are making a snowman. You want to catch as many action photos of that as possible. You can pose them at the end, with the snowman, to insure that all the kids are in the pic and facing the correct direction. Just remember that most kids quickly sicken of posing for photos. They want to be DOING something. They will soon ignore you, and the stupid faces and stupid poses will rapidly ensue.

Girl and Guck

Girl and Guck

Make as little fuss about the camera as possible. Don’t even mention that you will be taking pictures. Try to maneuver at as much distance as possible, with the lens zoomed in so that the subject is well framed, so your presence is unobtrusive. The kids WILL notice that the camera is there, and at first they will clown around and act crazy. Get a couple of pics of this – one of them might be cute. Don’t ask them to pose or not to make faces. They will soon acclimate to you and the fun at hand will soon take precedence.

Look Out Below!

Look Out Below!

Now, snap snap snap. Set up your photos by establishing yourself at a point distanced from them (this is where a long range or zoom lens comes in handy) and adjust focus and zoom until the kids are more or less filling the full photo frame. Test focus on one of the kids – that way the focus will be more or less established when you are ready to snap. Hold the focus, and pan after them with the camera. Adjust focus as necessary, and as soon as one turns their head so that their face is towards you, especially if they are smiling, snap, snap, snap. Stop when they turn away. Focus on a different kid if that one is faced away from you. Make sure you try to frame both kids if you have the opportunity to show them interacting, particularly if they are both faced toward you. Again, snap, snap, snap. Get ten or more pictures if you think you have a good composition. You will edit them later.

DSC_0077

Just remember, especially you older folks, that the camera you have is now probably digital. That means you have NO FILM. Back in the day, only pro photographers shot this many pictures, since film development was slow and expensive, especially if 90% of shots are discarded. My mom has been an amateur photographer since before I was born, and she is still timid about snapping multiple photos. There IS NO FILM! Your picture taking now is only limited by the size of your SD card and your patience with prolonged review and deletion of photos. Make sure you have an extra SD card – you may fill this one. An extra camera battery is also a good idea.

Be prepared later on (preferably later that day) to download and look at a LOT of photos. The kids were in constant motion, and most of them will be blurred, or the kid will have turned away at the last moment, or they may have a weird expression on their face. Or, the composition of the photo may just be crappy. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE. If you wouldn’t want to show anyone else the photo, or wouldn’t want to look at it again, dump it. The other day was a snow day and I took almost 800 photos – filled an entire 16 GB SD card. You DO NOT have room in your computer for this many pictures. DELETE. Out of those 700+ pictures I took that day, I deleted until I had less than 100 photos left. Then I made a second and third pass and got them down to less than 50, but those were really good.

DSC_0045

You don’t have to be an expert with photoshop to improve your photos. I certainly am not. Most computers come loaded with a photo processing program that is free and reasonably intuitive. All I really do is correct red eye and crop. You can accomplish so many improvements with these two edits! Never print out or upload photos to Facebook, or anywhere else, if the people in those pics have red eyes. Those photos are instantly crap. No one wants to look at vampire people. Red eye correction is super easy to do.

Cropping is the other massively useful ability. You may have a good picture, but it may have been taken from too far away, or there may be photo bombs around the edges of the pic. Crop. If you have a decent digital camera (and they’re all pretty much decent these days) the crop will still have good resolution and not be grainy. If you think the photo would be better composed if just a portion of it was used, crop. You can always undo this before you save. You will develop a feel for the most pleasing ways to crop pictures by moving around the crop box if you do it enough.

Kissy Face

Kissy Face

Hope this is helpful! Probably most of you don’t need my advice, but these are tips I’ve found useful. Happy hunting!

Mommies Don’t Need Showers

The same scene plays itself out at my house every morning.  I tell my daughter,  “I’m going to take my shower, honey.”. She mumbles “Mmmmh hmmmmm.”

I turn on the shower, get the temperature perfectly adjusted, and get in. Mmmm.  Nice hot shower. Peace and quiet.

Then I hear it:  “Mommeeeee!”. It always sounds urgent, so urgent that I am always suckered in. She sounds somewhat frantic, like she may have cut herself or broken something.

I pull the shower curtain back so I can hear her, since the situation is obviously so dire, and call, What, honey?”.  Of course all my nice warm steam is instantly gone and the cold rushes in. “MommEEEEEEE!  Where ARE you?!?!”

Well, this is infuriating on multiple counts. I told her I would be in the shower, explicitly so she would know where I was, so she would not come screaming around the damn house looking for me. So did she just totally ignore me, or is she playing dumb, because she can’t bear for me to have a moment of peace when I am in the shower?  AND, the water is running in the shower, so it should be damn obvious where the hell I am.

” I TOLD you, I am IN the SHOWER!”

“Mommeeeee!”

“I can’t HEAR you, the water is running!”

Closer now:  “MommEEEE!  Mumble mumble mumble ”

Pull back the shower curtain, cold air rushes in again. “WHAT?!?!”

” Mommeeee, are you dressed?”. She is not allowed to come in until I am dressed.

“Honey!  Would the water in the shower still be running if I were dressed???”

” Oh. No. Can I come in anyway?”

” ND!  I’M NOT DRESSED!”

“But I need …” (insert pointless nonessential thing here).

” NO!”

A pause. Will I finally get to finish my shower in peace?  Now:  whining and scratching. Our daughter desperately wants a puppy, which she has been told she cannot have. She launches into puppy mode, whimpering and wagging, and carrying balls in her mouth to fetch. More scratching and whimpering at the door.  The “puppy” has arrived. She almost certainly has a ball in her mouth. Patience is wearing thin.

“STOPPIT!”

“But Mommeeee!  I’m a PUPPY!”. Are you dressed yet??  Can I come in?  I PROMISE I won’t look!”

” No!  That’s not the point!”

” MEANIE!”

What the hell does she want?  Why can she not STAND for me to take a shower in peace?  Does she want to check and see if I am still a girl?  Is she jealous of any moment of time I have to myself?  Is she so lacking inner resources that she cannot tolerate even a few minutes alone?  Why must I be tormented every single time I take a shower?  By the time I am out I just want to choke her like a chicken.

I finally let her in. Now she stands on the side of the tub, staring at me while I put on my makeup. “What’s that??  Can I have some blush?  Is that a pimple?  Why does your hair look so funny?”

Am I too impatient, too intolerant?  Or is this behavior specifically designed to push all my buttons?  She is eight years old. Isn’t she too old for this bullshit?  Or does it just never end?  God, I hope it ends.

Grand Chess Master

My daughter is learning to play chess. My husband has been working on teaching her for about two years now. She is seven. Her school offers a chess club for the second graders. She goes to the local magnet school where learning is accellerated and grades are K-2. So she is the big cheese in her school right now. Next year she starts at the bottom, at the next magnet school which is 3-5. After that, they mainstream them back into the middle school that they are zoned for, but they will go to a section of the school for AP type learning. Anyway. Chess. For two years now.

I’ve played chess maybe twice. In my entire life. Literally. My history with games with squares on them is not very good. I don’t think well several moves ahead and I just don’t see things. Of course, some of this could be because I’ve never practiced them, from sheer dislike. I do not enjoy games with squares on them.

Of course, my daughter has been after me to play a game of chess with her. I have been making excuses because I really don’t enjoy chess, I really don’t understand it, I don’t know the moves, and the prospect of having my ass kicked by a seven year old is really depressing. So far, fortunately, my husband and daughter are accepting my excuses. And I’m really glad, because I wouldn’t want to teach her anything wrong. And if she had a question, I wouldn’t be able to answer it.

My husband is apparently a pretty good chess player. I wouldn’t know because first, I’ve never played with him, and second, I’m sure he’d be able to kick my butt handily and I still wouldn’t recognize exactly how good he was or wasn’t. Even though I don’t do chess, I’m glad my daughter is learning. Her school seems to believe that learning chess is good for children’s development for a number of reasons: it helps them to concentrate, visualize, see several moves ahead, and helps with visual-spatial orientation. I think it’s just plain cool that my kid can play chess. Right now she’s learning something called castling which all sounds very complex.

My husband bought a chess set called “No Stress Chess,” which is a pretty cool idea. Before you move, you draw a card and the card tells you which piece to move and how it moves. So you only have a choice of one type of piece to move. As you get better, you can draw a collection of cards and choose which move you want to make from those choices. He also got a book called, “Chess Is Child’s Play,” which is apparently geared toward teaching children how to play chess, and also teaching adults who are trying to teach their children how to teach them. He has recommended them to her school system by emailing them to her enrichment teacher. I guess she appreciated the recommendations. She has been sending emails out about the chess club, which they are about to start for the year. I can only assume my daughter will be in it.

So several years from now, when you see my daughter in the Grand Chess Master competition, or whatever the heck you call it, you will know from whence humble beginnings she comes. I’m sure she’ll be good at it. She’s already beating her babysitters. She’s really good at anything she puts her mind to.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Thankful

Nothing makes me more thankful than the sight of my daughter, healthy and happy.  I have been thankful for her since the day she arrived (or even before).  She is a wonderful, bright, loving child and we are so blessed to have her!

Falling off the bike

Falling off the bike

Weekly Writing Challenge: The Unexpected Wife

Man With Sis’s Children

He had had enough.  His friends were questioning his sanity.  He had gone above and beyond, really, so why did he feel so guilty?  When he lost Sis he felt like his life was over.  He had spent his life protecting her, and ultimately, defending her when her relationship fell through and the father of her children left her.  After all, in those times, no one had children out of wedlock.  That was just Sis though.  She was such a beatnik.  She had always been such a free spirit.  The kids at school had treated her like a freak.  And a freak she was.  She was beautiful in an odd way, with her pointed chin and her quizzical eyes.  But she dressed unlike anyone in her class, preferring to haunt thrift shops for ratty old pieces of clothing that she put together in odd ways.  She found a used drum set, and she banged away on them at odd hours when their folks were not around.  Which was often.  Their folks had been drunks, long before that became stylish, and he found himself at home with his little Sis all the time.  Their folks had both died badly – their mom fell down the stairs (although everyone swore Dad pushed her) and Dad bled out in the hospital Emergency Room with bleeding varices from his ruined liver.  He had wound up with a strange little sister and a lifetime of bad memories. 

Then Sis got hooked up with a man more freakish than she.  He fancied himself a poet, and a free spirit and he and Sis moved in together long before that became acceptable.  When she found herself pregnant, her father disowned her, just before he died.  He was just sober enough for it to register that his daughter was pregnant and not married, and that even for him this was unacceptable.  The disowning was a formality, really, as he died broke and had nothing to leave them.  Sis and her man fought on and off for two years, and then suddenly she was pregnant again.  Imagine that.  The brother had been slipping her little bits of money and food when he could, that useless son of a bitch Sis was with didn’t think that a job was included in his adult duties, since the man was not a man at all, but a miserable weakling who could not be bothered with anything. 

He had never married.  He had seen his parents’ marriage go bad, and violent, and he felt that the institution held nothing for him.  He was determined not to be a worthless drunk and didn’t drink alcohol at all.  He worked at a thankless job at a local newspaper setting type and put away little bits of money after the rent was paid and the groceries were bought to give Sis to help feed her kids and keep the little house from being foreclosed on them.  Finally the useless bastard left her; even the ghost of a responsibility was more than he could handle and it ran him off.  So Sis was left alone, never married, with two kids out of wedlock to take care of.  She was the town pariah.  She had been known in school as a bizarre girl, and her behavior with this useless man marked her as untouchable.  So she had no one to help her, except him, and he did the best he could.

Then the worst happened.  Sis got a lift home from the store one day and was killed instantly when the car she was in slammed into a bridge abutment.  The two kids had been left home alone, and when he got the call and no mention was made of small children in the car, he went to go get them.  What choice did he have?  There they were, tiny and alone, but oddly undisturbed by their abandonment.  This was not the first time Sis had had to leave them home alone.  He tried to think of a way to explain what had happened, but they were so small, and looked at him so strangely that he just told them that Sis had been in an accident and would not be coming back.  This seemed to satisfy them; neither of them questioned him at all.  So he just took them home with him.

With his limited funds, he was able to hire an elderly woman in the neighborhood to care for them when he was gone to work, and then money and food were even more scarce.  He found a second job delivering the papers early in the morning.  Nothing had prepared him for having small children.  They cried, and shrieked, and ran around the house, and tore the place up.  The woman who was keeping them reassured him they were fine, that all small children were like this.  He spent all his money on rent and on food for them.  He went to work, and he came home, and there were children there, and then he got up before dawn and went to work again.  His social life had never been very active; he had had few girlfriends since he was so soured on marriage and so busy with his Sis.  Now, though, there was no chance of anything at all.

So, as luck would have it, he met someone.  There was a woman on one of his paper routes who had been widowed young, and she began to take the habit of waiting for her paper to arrive so she could chat a few minutes with him.  Still he did not take her out, or call on her, for quite some time.  After all, the children were at home, and the elderly woman who kept them could not be prevailed upon to keep them of an evening, and who could blame her?  One morning, the woman on his paper route invited him to dinner.  He stammered and stuttered and finally explained that although he was unwed and had no children of his own, that he was left with the responsibility of caring for Sis’s children and that there were two children at home waiting for him.  “Bring them,” she said.  It turned out she was childless, for she had lost her husband before they could have children.  So he brought the children to dinner at her house, and they ran, and shrieked and generally behaved as they always did.  But the woman seemed curiously undisturbed.  She found the children adorable.  And, he supposed, as children went, they were. 

They began to see the woman more and more often; she somehow found out where they lived and brought them a casserole dinner one night.  She brought gifts for the children too:  toys and little outfits.  He felt as though he were taking advantage of her, but she persisted in her wooing of him and the children, and before long, she began to feel like family.  A year after he found his “gentlewoman caller”, she began to drop hints and before he knew it, somehow he found himself engaged.  He told her he could not afford a church wedding.  “Then we’ll just go before the justice of the peace,” she replied.

And so, one afternoon he checked out early from work and picked up the children, as the woman had specifically said she wanted them present.  They met on the sidewalk; the woman had a camera and proposed a photograph of the three of them, him and the two little children.  She snapped the photo, and they went on to the justice of the peace, who married them with the two children standing with them, wearing their best clothes.

Years from then, when the children asked about the picture he told them, “That’s how we were then, before Mama came to be with us.  It was just the three of us, since we lost Sis.”  They did not remember Sis, all they remembered was Mama.  And the man who did not believe in children, or in marriage, came to find himself happily ensconced with both.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Mind The Gap

This post is written as a response to a specific challenge.  The question as I read it is, should children be allowed in adult venues like nice restaurants or shows, or should they be left at home so adults can enjoy some grownup time?  As I begin working on this I have the feeling that I too will be hung up in the gray area between “kids” and “no kids”.  My life has a BC (Before Children) and an AC (After Children).  In my BC life I was very intolerant of other people’s children.  It didn’t help that I worked as a babysitter through high school and college.  After all, hell is other people’s children.  I winced when I saw children on an airplane with me, glared when I saw a family with kids in a fine restaurant, and muttered impolite things about people’s kids behind their back.  To me, they were little pains in the butt who should be seen and not heard, and preferably not seen at all.  I trumpeted the joys of having no children, and announced to my poor friends and family that children were selfish little savages and I wasn’t having any.  So with this foundation in mind, at age 37, I became…

AC:  After Children.  I gave birth to my only child when I was 37 years old.  I had been married for almost two years, to a man whose stated main objective for marriage (short of the marriage itself) was having children.  He had divorced his first wife because he wanted children, and she did not.  She finally gave in and said she’d have children, but he knew she’d never forgive him for forcing her position and went through the divorce anyway.  On our first date, he told me if I didn’t want children I should just move along.  By age 35, I was no longer certain that I did not want children.  I thought maybe I might want at least one, but figured I was probably too old.  After a year of marriage, we decided it was time to start trying.  I figured, we’d probably try a year, and then because of our age we’d probably have to see a specialist.

It took one try.  The first month off my birth control pills, I got pregnant.  I was not quite ready.  To say the least.  However, those amazing nurturing female hormones kicked in and I was ecstatic.  We were going to wait to tell my folks until I was at least through my first trimester, but we convinced ourselves that we should tell them in case something happened to them before they found out they were going to be grandparents.  So, armed with this excuse, we went ahead and called them before Thanksgiving.  I was due in July.

I had an amazing pregnancy.  I never threw up once.  I never missed a day of work, until the day before I was induced.  Then I had the delivery from hell.  I have a blog post just for that.  And when the baby arrived, she had a hellish case of colic.  I went back to work four weeks out from the delivery because I was so miserable at home.  My husband thought he would try keeping the baby and working from home with a sitter.  Ha.  Those of you with children know what a laughable statement that is.  So I was back at work as an Ob/Gyn, on call every third night AND getting up to take care of a newborn.

My daughter is seven now, and although I’ve had my moments, I would never trade her for anything.  We never had another baby – we had some events at work that prevented that from being practical.  Since I am forty-four now, I pretty much accept that there will be no more children.  So does my husband.  It just so happens that we have a very good, intelligent and well-behaved child (doesn’t everyone?).  Actually, this is not a coincidence.  As those of you with children know, having a good child is no accident.  We spent years of training and coaching and teaching exactly what we expected of her behavior in every circumstance.  And if she misbehaved, we took her out of the situation.  It has been that simple.

Now we are caught up.  And we will enter that gray area I mentioned at the beginning.  We have taken our daughter to many events and restaurants that were definitely fairly formal and might not welcome children.  And she has done very well.  We have been approached by strangers who said things like, “You know, I was a little apprehensive when I saw a little kid come into this restaurant, but she has just been the best kid ever!  I can’t believe how quiet and well-behaved she is!”  Now partly, we have earned that.  We have worked our butts off to raise a well-behaved and socially acceptable child.  But this has also been sheer luck.  She is mature for her age, and she has the ability and temperment to do what we ask.  Not every child has that, no matter how hard the parents work.  And now I will let you in on my little secret:  I feel guilty each and every time we bring her to an adult venue.  I know she will most likely be very good, but the old me remembers the lurch of disgust and anger I would feel seeing kids coming in to nice places when I was younger.  I know that there are people in there feeling that way now, and that I am the cause of that.  And I know that our and her every movement are being monitored to be criticized later by the non-child people.  Because I used to be one once. 

So to sum up, I think that certain children, if they are well-raised and have the capacity to do what is asked of them, may be safely brought to traditionally adult events, like weddings and nice restaurants and plays.  You may get lucky that night.  Or you may not.  But I think just enough parental guilt should be reserved for these occasions; we need to remember what we felt like when we were childless, and try to act accordingly.  And if that means taking the child straight home, then so be it.

I would like to make a final word about completely inappropriate destinations for children.  Children should not be brought to anything with adult content.  By this I mean shows or movies with vulgar language or frightening content or violence, or bars, where drunken people may act in a way frightening to a child or in a threatening or sexually inappropriate manner, or shows with naked showgirls, or any other event which would be, if rated, age inappropriate for children.  I believe that should be written in stone.  And there is one last place, in my opinion where children have no place:  at their mother’s Ob/Gyn office.  This is, of course, because I am an Ob/Gyn.  When we need to see a patient, there will need to be adult discussions about adult body parts and then those parts are probably going to be looked at.  And I think a child staring at their mother with her legs spread, while a stranger does things with pieces of metal equipment, is one of the most inappropriate situations of all.  I cannot believe that women bring their children to appointments and expect to discuss sexual matters, and infidelity, and sexually transmitted diseases, and expect to be examined while their child(ren) stare at them in utter bewilderment.  I cannot imagine how anyone can justify that.  Children should not be taken to places where they may suffer physical, emotional or mental harm, or be forced to comprehend situations with very adult content.  Period.  And there is no gray area there.

My Little Daughter Is All Growing Up

My daughter just turned seven, and it sure does seem like she’s all growing up.  She’s lost 7 baby teeth and has an adorable gappy smile where her new big grownup teeth are coming in.  She looks like a little jack-o’lantern (or a meth addict).  She knows all the songs on the radio, more than I do even, and she sings gamely along even when she has to make up the lyrics.  Which she does a lot.  She knows little popular expressions now – she called a funky bracelet I made “AWK-ward” and talks about “dissing” people and about how “random” things are.  She cares a great deal about how she dresses and spends time in the morning picking out just the right outfit.  She comes home and talks about boyfriends, and about how so-and-so LIKES her (which I am not sure I like at all) and she and her girlfriends wear each other’s jewelry and make big grown up trades of their plastic cell phones and Barbie dolls.  She can carry on a very grown up conversation and can now understand the plot line of a movie, even some more adult things.  She wants to be part of every conversation and doesn’t understand when she interrupts with silly things and we hush her.  Her ears are now pierced, and she very responsibly cleans them and brushes her teeth every night.  She just has a very few baby things left.  She will burst into tears when frustrated or when she doesn’t get her way.  There is high drama if she is denied at all; sobs of, “I never get anything.  I never get anything I want!!”  She told me once I was ruining her life because I would not let her bring her Nintendo DS on a field trip where they were going SWIMMING.  She is still unashamed of being naked and will happily run around the house or climb into your lap after she has taken off her clothes for her bath.  She still smells like a little one – there is still a baby smell to her hair.  This may have more to do with the fact that she uses baby shampoo.  She still sleeps with a stuffed animal and her soft blanket.  She still needs a night light.  Sometimes she gets in trouble at school for not paying attention and talking to the other kids.  She still gets put in time out.  She is just starting to question the existence of Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.  I am just trying to enjoy the rest of my snuggle time before she hits her tween years and is too cool to sit on my lap anymore.

A’s Birthday

This weekend was my daughter’s birthday, and the machinations required to pull off a good party are amazing to me.  Of course, the folks made a trip to  see their favorite (only) granddaughter turn seven.  Grandmama came laden with presents.  My husband and I had bought a few of our own.  My main gift was three whole cards worth of earrings, because A got her ears pierced as an early gift.  I was amazed by that, because my husband had been adamantly against ear piercing from the get-go.  He actually made A do a survey at school to see how many of the other first grade girls had pierced ears.  He finally agreed to pierce them for her birthday, which is in July.  On Memorial Day, I guess he got a wild hair and said “Let’s just go get A’s ears pierced!” so that became an early birthday gift.  Her six weeks of healing were up so she could change out her earrings for her birthday.  Oddly, I bought three cards of earrings at Claire’s (doesn’t every little girl in America get their ears pierced at Claire’s?) and they promptly disappeared.  I was certain I had hidden them in their usual hiding place, the bathtub in the bathroom in my walk-in closet.  Gone.  I even went through A’s things to see if she had found and appropriated them.  Nope.  Not there.  Weirdest thing EVER.  I still haven’t found them.  I had to go back to Claire’s and get her a new set.  I also bought her a Barbie Vet dog in a pink carrier, which she had begged for when I got it for one of her friends a few months before.  I discovered to my chagrin that when she opened it, the damn thing talks.  It sneezes and you have to blow its nose.  It makes a smacking noise when you give it a bone.  This is all done with magnets – you just wave one of the accessories at its nose or mouth and the magnet senses it is there.  Then the dog makes the appropriate noise.  Magnets appear to be a hot new way to make kid’s toys work.  She got another set of little tacky plastic toys called Zoobles.  These things fold into little balls that won’t open up unless they contact metal.  They seem to contain little magnets that hold them closed.  When they touch metal, their eyes, ears, horns, fins, whatever pop out.  It’s rather diabolical.  DH got her a travel easel, which is pretty cool.  It’s got a chalkboard, a pad of paper, crayons, chalk, pens, a dry erase marker and a dry erase board all inside a little travel kit.  So that’s actually kind of neat.  Grandmama got her a ridiculous number of twirly dresses, which A is addicted to.  The dress must fly out when she twirls around.  She also got Jessica Simpson (!) dress shoes and a twirly skirt with a top. 

The preparation for the party was a whole other ordeal.  The cake had to be ordered the week before.  We got it from Publix, of course, because Publix has the best buttercream icing.  A wanted chocolate, which I knew someone would hate/be allergic to.  Then, very weirdly, she decided that she wanted Strawberry Shortcake on her cake.  She does not have one single Strawberry Shortcake toy.  She has no movies.  She has no anything.  Why on earth did she want Strawberry Shortcake?  Anyway, that’s what she wanted.  So that’s what we got.  When we called about the cake the morning of the party, they freaked me out because they couldn’t find it.  Eventually they found it; they had not been able to figure out where it was because it was on “the other side,” whatever the heck that means.  Is that some kind of fourth-dimensional portal in the bakery at Publix?  Then we had to pick up napkins, plates, forks, blah blah blah.  I had previously put together party favors for the kids (the dollar section at Target rocks for these things), with little stretchy koosh balls with eyes, sunglasses (left over from her party two years ago), glow sticks (left over from her party last year, little plastic rings and a couple of miniature chocolates with which I utterly ruined my diet by eating the leftovers.  I concealed the wrappers in the garbage can of the bathroom of my walk-in closet, where I hide a lot of things.  Of course, there was a riot over the party favors.  I had bought assorted colors, and the girls all wound up wanting pink or purple.  Silly me.

The party itself was wildly fun.  Not.  I wanted to have a water slide party in our backyard, which we had done twice before and which was really really fun.  A wanted her party at the Skate Castle, which we discouraged because last year, no one brought their kids because they’re too little to know how to skate.  So we made the party at the bouncy place at the mall.  Ugh.  Just that partial phrase “bouncy place at the mall” makes me nauseous.  I hate malls.  And I think that seven is too old for bouncy places.  And as parties go, this idea has absolutely no originality or personality at all.  Even A was unthrilled.  The problem is, in a small town, there just aren’t all that many choices.  A co-worker and I agreed that it sucks when the kids start having a mind of their own, because then we have to work with them instead of doing exactly what we want.  A water slide party would have been MUCH better.

So, we had the party at the bouncy place.  I invited 16 little girls, seven showed up.  Not much of a showing.  I guess my daughter will never be one of those that has the enormous birthday parties.  They all showed up with pink presents and proceeded to have a fabulous time on the bouncies.  Until suddenly, one of the little girls was looking for her mommy, because her front tooth was KNOCKED OUT.  “It ain’t a party until someone’s tooth gets knocked out,” I said.  My husband tweeted that.  The parents were sitting around kind of bored, until there was a midair head butting collision, which brought another spate of mommy-seeking.  So the injuries kept it exciting.  The kids were suddenly starving and began to demand food, so we went to the party room for cake.  The room REEKED of lysol or some other cleaning agent.  It smelled like a hospital in there.  The smell was so overpowering we could hardly taste the cake.  Then A started to act like a brat and say that only certain friends could sit next to her, etcetera.  So grandmama had a quick talk with her.  Of course, one little girl didn’t like chocolate and wanted more than one piece so she could eat the icing off them.  When time came to open presents, the kids all piled up in a giant inflatable throne.  A opened her gifts and they were sooo girly and pink!  She got two Barbies, a nightgown, some girly Legos (the Lego people finally realized that their market for females was totally untapped, and they began to make Lego Friends, with little cafes and houses and little convertibles with little girl figures with interchangeable hair), some bean bag animals to paint, and numerous other pointless, pink, disposeable items which will make my house look like a landfill.  We took home the middle of the cake, which had no icing, and I got a really cute picture of my dad sitting on the giant inflatable throne.  A wore some new earrings and the party was a success.

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