Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Bubble Gum

My daughter has finally learned how to blow bubbles with gum. You would think this would be something all kids could do, part of the kids’ bill of rights, but it isn’t so. My daughter struggled to blow gum. We’d buy packs and packs of it, and I’d have to give lessons to her in front of the mirror. Relatives and friends jumped in and gave their techniques.

She would chew frequently, and I hollered “Practice, practice, practice!” my standard lame words of encouragement whenever she is learning something new. The bubble gum wrappers piled up, and I worried about the sugar on her teeth.

Well, the struggle finally paid off, and she can now blow a proper bubble. Trouble is, she is doing it wrong, in my opinion, but she has struggled so long I don’t want to tell her. She puts two fingers in her mouth when she does it, to hold down one end of what I call the gum wall, and sticks her tongue out in a disturbing manner while she blows.

She likes to get really close to me when she does it, to make sure that I see it, and then blows grape smell all over me and spittle. Why couldn’t she be obsessed with something that doesn’t involve spit and getting gum stuck all over the place? I’m about ready to ban gum from our house.

She is so proud; I hate to tell her she’s doing it wrong. Perhaps it will all straighten out in time, or maybe she’ll get over this obsession.

Soon, I’ll tell her about the woman in Kentucky who was on the Guinness World Records show. She could blow bubbles by placing the gum over her nostrils. Not yet, though. I’ll wait until the stress of the holidays is over.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Scary Animals

For a long while, I’ve wanted to write about the resident scary animal on our block, who I lovingly refer to as the Evil Parrot. I’ve resisted writing so far because I didn’t think anyone would believe my tale. My sound file is proof the Evil Parrot exists.

The Evil Parrot is one of those huge jobs whose body is about the size of a small dog, and feathers/wings stretch down to the height of a small child.

The owners of Evil Parrot aren’t too friendly. The woman is a lumpen fifty something with greasy stringy hair and bad posture. She likes to wag her finger at the kids, and the spare flesh on her arm jiggles when she does it. One of her eyes wanders.

The man I’ve never seen. There’s a large upholstered chair big as a tank right beyond the door. I can only see the man’s huge stomach and mountainous legs as he watches a very loud TV. He doesn’t get involved with any dramas outside in the yard.

The woman sets the parrot outside in a small tree, and lurks behind the banisters on the porch to warn the children, “Don’t come too close! The parrot bites!”

They didn’t have to tell my daughter twice, but some of the other kids like to flirt with danger and try to touch it. Some of them throw rocks at it.

Evil Parrot reminds me of some of the scary animals from my youth. In my case, it was a big dog that ran loose in the neighborhood. It never bit anyone, but it would run up to children and snarl. Eventually the pound took it away. It was probably only in the neighborhood half a summer, but at the time it felt like a serial killer had invaded our block. I was afraid to go outside.

The Evil Parrot makes me not want to go outside, too. I have to keep all my windows closed when the bird is out. The bird’s speech is haunted. It mimics the sound of children at play, and it’s cries sounds like the devil’s children. The screeches of children living in a tortured reality right on the other side of an alternate plane of existence pierces my calm. Listen to the bird and see what you think.

Parrot Sounds

Friday, October 21, 2005

Salvation through Cleaning Products

When I was young, I never thought I’d be a good housekeeper when I grew up. I went through my twenties and thirties, and still wasn’t a good housekeeper. I’d let the tables pile up with paper and leave the garbage by the back door for weeks. The cats would pee on the floor beside the litter box before I’d change the litter. I was lazy, I guess, and still not grown up.

I grew up when I had a child. My fears for her health made me a super cleaner. All the sudden it mattered if the toilet was clean, because she might fall in or put her hands on the toilet seat, then right into her eyes or mouth. I didn’t want any pets in the house, because I didn’t want her eating their food or playing in their water bowls. I didn’t want the cats licking milk out of her bowl while she ate cereal during Saturday morning cartoons.

A psychologist might say I started my super cleaning activities because I felt out of control. That might be correct. I do feel out of control, and cleaning makes me feel better.

I have discovered three cleaning products I can’t live without.

The Bissell Quick Steamer Powerbrush is a cheap rug steamer, no heavier or cumbersome than a vacuum cleaner. When I used it the first time, I cleaned the whole carpet in our downstairs, and spent the next three hours yelling at kids not to walk on it. It was a lovely, peak experience. I had quite a sense of accomplishment as I emptied the blackened water, and cut and removed big globs of hair from the front roller.

The Magic Eraser is truly a magical bit of rubbery foam goodness. I have no idea how it works. You wet it and rub it over spots. You don’t have to rub hard, and the spots disappear. Get one, and you’ll be amazed at how the spots and smudges come off the wall. You only need one, they last a long time. At my daughter’s daycare, they said it even removes permanent marker, but I’ve not tried it on that yet. It also works on crayon marks.

Lysol spray with bleach removes stubborn stains like kool-aid from the counter top. Now, I know Lysol is pure poison, and I use it sparingly, but if you have a stain you need to remove, this product will do it. Probably bleach in a spray bottle would do the same thing.

You’d think my cleaning life would be completely fulfilled, but truth is I still have a problem cleaning my linoleum. It is always dirty and my next major purchase is the Bissell Steam Mop for floors. I’ve heard it doesn’t get up scuff marks, and I need a magic potion for that.

Once I get the linoleum clean, I’d say my life will be pretty darn perfect. You wait and see.

Thursday, September 15, 2005


I took a little break on posting after Hurricane Katrina. I didn't feel like posting trivial reflections out of respect. I'll continue posting in a few weeks.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mighty Mom Battles Mighty Bean

It started like any other day. I’m cleaning out my daughter’s lunch pail, and I see a Mighty Bean fall swiftly down the sink and into the drain. I reach my hand down the hole and gingerly finger the slimy muck, hoping the disposal doesn’t automatically turn on like the appliances in the movie Gremlins. I can’t find it. Somehow it has slipped down to the next level.

(For those of you who don’t know, Mighty Beanz resemble jumping beans. They are tiny little oval shaped plastic figures with a tiny marble inside that rolls around and makes the action unpredictable.)

I decided to go ahead and turn on the garbage disposal, and see if I could chop it up and send it on down the drain. (Okay, I know that seems dumb now, but at the time it seemed perfectly reasonable and if it worked, I could avoid the disposal repair bill.)

The results were what you’d expect. It made a lot of racket, and didn’t go down the drain. I guess there must be some kind of mesh screen below that point. Now I have to call the repairman and give him my sad story (you see there was this Mighty Bean and I couldn’t get it out so I decided to chop it up and…)

Tears welled up in my daughters eyes. “Which Mighty Bean was it?” she asked in a trembling voice, as if one was more cherished than the others. You could buy ten more in a pack for a dollar, but you see, it didn’t matter. Because whichever one it was that I destroyed, that would have been the best one.

My daughter took it personally. This is totally my fault because one time when she refused to pick up her toys, I picked them up and threw them in the trash. I know that sounds cruel, but I was trying to make a point that she didn’t care about her toys so we may as well throw them away. Looking back, it does seem mean, and parents sometimes do things we’re not proud of.

So anyway, she thought I chopped up the Mighty Bean because she didn’t take care of her toys, or because I’m just cruel and got an evil urge to destroy her toys and her life. I’ve probably scarred her for life. In future psychiatric sessions, she’ll have multiple appointments on the Mighty Bean incident. It seems like such a small thing, and I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned it to her. Parenting is a minefield, and you never know you’ve blown one of the Beanz until it’s too late.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Multi-tasking and organizing emotional breakdowns

My daughter entered third grade yesterday. This year they begin to focus on organizational skills, and the school has provided an organizer for each child. The students need to record all their assignments in it, and parents have to initial the records each day and record whether the homework was complete. If the child (and their parent) don’t do their organizer correctly, or forget to return it each day, the child misses recess.

I had a visceral reaction to this new plan. I don’t know why this bothers me so much. I’m familiar with using Outlook, calendars and PDAs. I guess I had a fear reaction. All of these children are going to be infinitely more organized than I am; the kids are leaving me behind in the electronic dust.

I also am not sure why it is necessary for a third grader to carry an organizer. Why do they have so many activities and homework? Do we have to train them to be type A personalities so they can grow up and take on too much work and have too much scheduled in their lives? What’s the point of all this? We aren’t churning out happier people. Perhaps I’m getting old and feeling lost in the digital shuffle.

They also train in email and the internet this year. I would think they would learn these skills on their own. Shouldn’t we be discouraging these skills, and encouraging good nutrition and sports instead? I thought we didn’t want the kids sitting in front of the computer and video games all the time.

The schools could strive for a bit more balance. To counteract teaching all this fast paced technology, maybe they could teach them meditation, theatre, art, or social skills like manners or resolving interpersonal conflict. Why can’t they quietly read during class time?

I’m getting a little tired of the pressure. Not only do I have to fill every second of my day with work, but my child seems to be required to do it, too. We’re all collectively maximizing and multitasking our way to a nervous breakdown. Or, maybe it’s only me.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Just call me "Mom Schmuck"

I must have “MOM SCHMUCK” written across my forehead.

This weekend, I have faced the following quandaries.

My daughter’s friend slept over. I made it really clear we would be going to church that evening, and we’re in the car ready to go and the girl didn’t have any shoes. On further questioning, not only did she not leave the shoes in the house, or forget to bring them, she didn’t have any shoes period. I know I live in Kentucky, but still, what parent doesn’t even bother to go to the Dollar store and get their kid a pair of flip-flops? We don’t live on the side of a mountain, as you might be imagining right about now, but in a town. We have stores. There’s a Dollar store within walking distance. Well, maybe not within walking distance if you don’t have shoes, it’s about two miles.

The same mother just never came to get her child the next morning. It is now 1pm. I’m wondering if I’m expected to feed her lunch. The mother never even called or discussed the sleepover with me. Of course, their phone is out of minutes, but it seems like it would be worth a walk over since we just live down the block.

Another girl has called about five times this morning, asking to come over. My daughter doesn’t really like her, and we already had three girls here, so I suggested if she called again not to pick up the phone. This same child has called and left nine messages on our answering machine when we weren’t home. I don’t feel eight-year-old children should be allowed to pester people this way. Approximately five minutes after let the phone ring without picking it up, the child was dropped off at our house with no confirmation whether it was okay or not.

Now I know all of this is my fault. I should put my babysitting rates on the door, or simply say no. But I have to wonder why I would never do these kinds of things, and other parents appear not to care. I have never just left my kid at someone’s house after a sleepover waiting for a phone call to come pick her up. I always verify what time I should come, and leave phone numbers where I can be reached. And I never just drop my child off at a friend’s house without talking to the parents about it.

Seriously, they must think I’m a schmuck, and I don’t know what to do about it. Maybe I should move.