Archive for the 'Parenting' Category

Big Hands, I Know You’re the One

Does the fact the my two year old daughter goes around singing songs about masterbation make me a bad parent? I can’t believe I just opened up that can of worms. But I feel I have a problem. I’m not a prude, I promise. I know she doesn’t understand what the song is about - hell, I didn’t understand what the song was about until I was almost twenty. - and that she likes it for it’s uptempo beat and pop brilliance. But, “Blister in the sun” is her new favorite song - it has taken on a whole new dimension for me and, quite frankly, it is creeping me out.

We have gone through our “Hit the Road Jack” phase. Both my kids were (and on occassion, still are) obsessed with Ray Charles. At the worst, my kids were mimicking his soulful grunts and groans and talking about how he had some serious “lady trouble” (6year olds words, not mine). No harm there.

There were a few durge like Iron and Wine songs that she had gotten attached to - lots of references about the hangman and going home. That was weird - a 2year old singing about the “devil’s tree”. I still wasn’t phased.

I remember my son being infatuated with White Stripes and Bob Dylan when he was two. No real masterbation or sex referencing there. Just seriously great writing and riffs. He still loves them.

I did wonder and worry about him knowing all the words to Modest Mouse’s The Lonesome Crowded West album. There was a part he particularly liked about Cowboy Dan pointing his rifle up to the sky and telling god that if he had to die, so did god. I stopped playing it after I realized that, at three, he was reciting it all, word for word.

I have tried not to play kid’s music - with the exception of Dan Zanes who, in my opinion, is just as talented and un-obnoxious as my music. For the most part, I find kid’s music insulting to my children. It strikes me as the equivilant as someone baby talking to them - makes me feel icky. But, seeing my daughter walk around demanding to hear “bister SUN!” or, as she sometimes likes to call it “stain my sheets” - I start to see the beauty in furry little puppets singing about sunshine and lollipops.

Posted in Child Development | 6 Comments »

Dollar Signs in Their Slimy Little Eyes

It’s funny - when you owe someone money, say a creditor, they are MORE than present in your life.. The phone calls.. The fear-inducing letters from “law firms”.. The mean, bully of a collector on the phone who is doing nothing short of threatening to take your first born if you don’t give him every dime you have (or don’t have) right now…. It is disgusting.  But, the second you request something from them - say, a very important letter stating that you have paid the account in full and the account is close, more importantly, responsibly making note of it on your credit report - you may as well consider yourself screwed.  They won’t want to help.  God, I don’t even want help, I just want them to do their job.

I am thrilled to say that we are no longer in a position where we have to ignore our phone.. And when we get an official looking letter in the mail, I can open it with great confidence that we either won something or that we are receiving some sort of notice that our payment was made through our online banking.. We are out of debt and well on our way to making smart financial decisions. 

So, being a lady that can now answer her phone without trepidation - I started noticing a weird 800-number popping up about two weeks ago.  I can’t explain why, but I avoided it.  It’s like they say about addicts: once a junkie, always a junkie - right?  Except in my case it goes a little something like: Once a single mother ex-college student who can’t pay her bills and can’t answer her phone always a… well, you get the point.  I had this wierd feeling that it was a collection agency - even though, as far as I know I have paid off all my debts (with exception of student loans).  But, still, I nerve-wrackingly couldn’t answer my phone - the same old fear and gut wrenching feeling came over me and I started avoiding unidentified numbers popping up on my caller ID.  It’s nearly in my blood now.  Then I realized how ridiculous I was being.

I answered the phone.

Damn if my instincts weren’t right.  It was a “law office” (I put this in quotations because it is really just a collection agency with one or two paralegals working in house - “Law offices” scares people into paying like you would not believe) telling me that I owed money on an account that I KNOW I paid off last December.  I told them this and he said for me to find proof.  Now, with my hectic life and my typical forgetfulness - I started to doubt myself. Well.  Eight days later and several nasty phone conversations later I am happy to report that it is all cleared up.  And, I am even happier to report that it was not my error but the error of the “system”.  I paid the damn thing off and the slouch of a company that I paid it to had never noted it or closed the account. It has been shuffled around from “law firm” to “law firm” and smeared quite smugly on my credit report for the last eight month.  Turds.

So, I called the mongers who were responsible - and, just for the record, they happened to be just the ones that (probably very illegally) bullied and threatened me beyond reason.  Again, I got a ridiculously rude person who - when I tried to ask why the account was not closed and noted as paid in full since I called four times after I paid it off - hung up on me.  I guess they didn’t need any of my money anymore so why waste their time dealing with me, right?  I called back and, thank god, got her again and went toe to toe with her.  You just don’t hang up a girl. I had to get out my exceptionally professional “if you f#!* with me I will find you and kill your dog” voice.  I finally got some answers.  

So, I spent the morning calling every account I paid off and requested an additional letter stating my closure with them, even if I already received it. Because chances are I lost the letters first time around and, now I know, even though you think you have taken care of something it still might pop back up in your life and you NEED documentation to get your back.  A little advice for all you people out there dealing with credit card people and collection agencies - follow up.  I was foolish enough to think that they did their job and that I would be in the clear.  Not true.  At all.

Posted in Money Management | No Comments »

“Mean Mommy…. Hate Mommy! Hate HER!”

Where my daughter learned the word “hate” I still can’t fathom.. I’m sure it came from me screaming about hating the ridiculous driver in front of me at some point in our day, but I don’t know if I am ready to admit that to myself.

Weren’t these supposed to be the tender years? Wasn’t my daughter supposed to love me unconditionally at least until she was thirteen? I mean, I know she loves me but I never thought my two year old would be screaming “hate” and “mean” at me.. Maybe my unruly teenager ten years from now - but never my sweet two year old.

Me: “Hey Mags, wanna have a snack?”

Mags: (happily and bubbly)”snack.. yes!”

Me: “How about some peanut butter crackers? That sounds kinda yummy, doesn’t it?”

Mags: (with the rage of Joe Pesci’s character in Goodfellas)
“NO!!!!! HATE peb-butter!! HATE MEAN crr-ckers!!!!!!!!!! HATE MOMMY!!!! HATE HER!!!!! HATE HER!!!!!”

And then she rallies around the house building up an army against me.

Mags: (to our dog Jackson) “jack-thon, YOU hate mommy TOOO!”

Mags: (to her My Little Pony doll) “Peeny, YOU hate mommy TOO!”

Mags: (to her brother) “Jo-thep, YOU hate mommy TOO!”

And it goes on and on and on.

For about the last two weeks this has been a typical scene peppered throughout our day. Yeah sure, we have good moments too but they are becoming fewer and far between than the “strong willed” moments. The girl has some serious rage issues……..

I know it will pass and I know it is just a phase and that she is testing boundries and blah blah blah.. It’s good for a little girl to be strong willed, right? It is good that she is displaying independence and strength, right? And if I am good mom I can cultivate this into a balanced human being who, in the future will be able to fend for herself. Knowing all that sure as hell doesn’t make it any easier to swallow at the moment.

Posted in Behavior Issues, Mental Environment | No Comments »

Hey Hey Mama, Said the Way You Move, Gonna Make You Sweat, Gonna Make You Groove

Robert Plant Robert Plant Robert Plant Robert Plant!!!!!!!

Forget Nicole Kidman.. Donna Summer?? Yeah.  Whateve. 

Last night a legend walked into the door of my cafe.. He was stunning.  Even at, what is he?, 65 he had a magnetism about him that reminded me of feelings I haven’t felt since I was a sixteen years old, all alone in my room listening to Cashmere and fantasizing about.. what? wait.. nevermind.. There’s a fair chance my husband will read this.  Let’s just say he was heartstopping (but, honey, he still has nothing on you).  I have been reeling from it all day..

Once I settled down and got “Stairway to Heaven” out of my head, though, I started to think about his disasterous solo career in the 80’s.  Yikes, I thought.  It was enough to mellow my starstruck mood, but not for long.  I am impressed with us, as a culture.  We forgive people their “experimental” phase and see them through, allowing them to reclaim and relive, even, their rock and roll legend status.  We don’t, as a culture, hand it out that easily.  It takes us a lot to push someone up to that standard.  Sure, we play a lot of crap on the radio but, all in all, we are pretty determined and expectant about what we deem “legendary” and worthy of more than two to three minutes of our time.  I am glad we saw Robert Plant through his “Sea of Love” phase and let him reclaim a place in our hearts for all the good that he did before he wore Hawaiian shirts and civil war hats.  That part of our history with him is very minute.  He is much bigger than all that. 

And, if you’re wondering how much interaction I had with him - let me just say there was a point in the evening where he and I were carrying out a birthday cake (together!) to his friend and he looked at me and said “you ready to sing with me?”.  I ain’t lyin.  My heart stopped and before I knew it freakin’ Led Zepplin himself was singing “Happy Birthday” two inches away from my face.  I thought I had died and gone to rock&roll heaven.  In fact, I am pretty sure I haven’t yet come back to earth.

Posted in TV and Pop Culture | No Comments »

There are Some Things That a Girl Will Never Understand..

….. like why it is entertaining and fun for a boy to see what it’s like to pee in an air conditioning vent. 

Yesterday I awoke to a smell that reminded me of the day I went to the state fair and had to use the port-a-potty and the blue juice down below me in the pot was noxious enough for me to get dizzy… I wandered into the bathroom, nose hard at work, scooped up the throw rugs and started spraying my little heart out.  Not even the clorox could get the smell to subside.  I mopped.  I wiped.  I maniacally stuck my nose far closer to the toilet than I should have.  But then, I realized the smell was leading me toward the air vent.  But why?  That would be silly.  There is no way there could be urine in the air vent.  I mean, come on!  That would be just wrong.

So, I left my husband a note and told him that since it was more than likely because of the aimless boys in the house that it was up to him and the other fella in the house to find it and take care of it while I was at work.  Indeed.  I came home to my husband’s long and confused face.  “So, apparently, the boy peed straight into the air vent.”  Before I could get “what the hell???” out of my mouth he was quasi-defending the boy as if this were some sort of rite of passage for all six year olds.  Huh?  “But, husband of mine, why would he want to pee in the air vent?” - silence.  More silence.  “I guess he was just wondering if he could - I once peed in a potted plant in our kitchen.  I think I was seven though.”  Ummmm.  Ok.  What?  Is the “though” in that statement some sort of recognition that our son is advanced for doing this at a mere six years old???  Having a son has thrown me for a loop on several occasions but this takes the cake.

Now I am on a hunt for some home remedy to dilute the urine that apparently is lurking in my bathroom air vent - no amount of air freshener is going to suffice.  Anybody? Anybody? 

Posted in Behavior Issues, Daily Living | 4 Comments »

Finding Your Crew..

It’s that time of the month again - noooo, not that time of the month… The time of the month where, apparently, everything falls apart for a couple of days.  Nap time is warfare.  Bedtime is worse.  Mealtimes are a combination of food throwing by the youngest and complaining by the eldest.  I have heard “no!” come out of both of my children’s mouths more in the last two days than I have ever heard in my entire life.  I need a drink and it isn’t even noon.

So, since the drink is out of the question at least until tonight, I instead took a long walk with a girlfriend of mine (whose kids are, of course, the pinnacle of grace and politeness and obedience - by comparison I am sure my daughter, who was literally getting in my face and screaming at me like a drill sergeant, looked like sybil) and that helped immensely.  Joy has three daughters herself and is quite helpful when it comes to just talking things out and giving advice and sharing ideas.  It made me thankful that I have a support system, which I didn’t have not so long ago.  And, not a lot of women do.  Joy and I were lucky enough to stumble upon each other three years ago, both single mothers and needing lots of love and comraderie.  We bonded almost immediately.  Most mothers, though, have to go seeking it out.  Sometimes throug the kids’ school.. Sometimes through bookclubs.. And, sometimes, through the usually uber-social and occasionally frightening Playgroup.  For a rather intense and quasi-hilarious look at the inner working of Nashville’s mother/child groups check out this article.  It was about playgroups and this women’s particular experience with it in Nashville.  I was actually the E.Nashville mother she mentions in the article.  We had a lovely time and even though she pokes a little fun at my ‘hood - you know, whatever - it made for damn good reading and therein that humor is a thread of truth.  The intense/hilarious part is the reaction by the Green Hills mothers whom she also mentioned in the article.  Most of us are just struggling to find our support systems and friends whom we can trust and confide in about our deepest mothering emotions and the author didn’t find it there - actually, quite the opposite.  Apparently, the ladies in Green Hills are combatively protective about their image to the rest of Nashville because they reacted in a freakishly frightening way (lots of foul language and grotesquely incorrect grammar) because Lindsey (the woman who wrote the article) didn’t feel comfortable at their group.  Unfortunately, they failed to see that it was one woman’s take on how hard it is to find something as necessary and simple as what I was lucky enough to have this morning with my friend Joy.  And, unfortunately for them, they came off looking like the last group of people you would want to expose your most sensitive side to (being a mother is personal - why on earth would you want to open that up to these people?) OR expose your children to.  I just found the whole thing shocking. And funny. So, for any of my readers out there, I hope you have better experiences finding a group of your own - a place where you feel you can be human and not be judge. Or cussed at for not fitting in. 

Posted in Parenting, Daily Living | No Comments »

Setting Fire To The Apron Strings…

My visit with my mom was, well, nice.  But, I find myself, this Monday morning, looking up article after article about mending the strains between mothers and daughters that seem, in the most cliched way ever, inevitable within our culture. 

It is hard for some of the elder women of the tribe to see younger women change the course of things, I guess.  For every ounce of effort that I put toward balancing my life with the life of my children and husband, she gains fifty more ounces of confusion about it.  In general, I think that most women my age struggle with either a mother that holds very true to a more modest and self sacrificing style of living for her family OR a mother who is a stringent feminist and isn’s supportive of anything to do with family or “settling” down.  Mine would be the former.  Either is dangerous and it leaves us girls who are starting our real lives (the lives that we will be in for the next fifty years - you know, as opposed to those early 20’s when we were making decisions for today rather than for tomorrow..) are left out in the cold because there is no one there to say “damn. You’re doing well. You have a passion that isn’t at all about your family AND a family that you are passionate about.  WELL done!!”.  Sure, our husbands and our friends are there as support systems but when it comes down to it, we just want our mommy to look at us and be proud and, more than that, UNDERSTAND what our lives are about. 

My mother and I are far from estranged.  I am happy to say that we have a lovely relationship, for the most part.  But I hold back.  A lot.  and I see the confusion in her eyes when she comes to visit.  My need to write.  My urge, and subsequent decision to hold back, to show her the art studio that my husband and I share and the paintings that I have started and finished.  The girlfriends I have made who are all, themselves, quite talented artists and musicians and scientists - some who have kids and some who don’t.  All of these things do nothing but challenge her upbringing and her idea, I guess, of how my life was supposed to be.  I feel like she is wondering the entire time “where’s the Tupperware party?  There is no Tupperware party.  There never will be.  I just wonder when my idea of success will match up with hers.  I guess that has been the question for thousands of years between mothers and daughters.  Funny how it never seems to get answered.

Posted in Parenting, Building and Maintaining, Communication | No Comments »

“I never forget a face. But, in your case, I’ll make an exception.”

Today is Groucho Marx’s birthday.  Take a minute and reminisce. 

Posted in TV and Pop Culture | No Comments »

Here We Go Again…

So, those of you on the edge of your seat wondering when and if we are going to finally get a TV - your time has come!  But we are entirely hiding it from the kids.  Does this make me a bad person?  Really, it is all Lost’s fault.  I’m grotesquely obssessed unlike any other series since The Monkees.  It’s no joke.

This weeked I will venture out to Circuit City and other places of fine technological gadgetry and purchase a TV.  Then I will venture out to various furniture shops and antique shops to purchase a peice of furniture that will cleverly disguise my initial purchase from earlier that day.  The cable man should be here sometime around noonish on Tuesday so that I can be set to go Wednesday night, 8pm.  I don’t know that I have looked forward to anything so much in quite sometime. 

Thus ends the life long debate - To TV or not to TV.  I guess I’m a sellout but, it’s for a good cause - which would be my sanity.  Having that one night a week where I allow myself to get sucked into another world might just be the tonic I need to let go of some stress, lighten up and remember how to chill out. 

Posted in TV and Pop Culture, Daily Living, Mental Environment, Technology | 1 Comment »

France Can Wait…

My mom comes into town next week.  I am thrilled by this, of course.  But, like most mothers and daughters, we have a, well, sort of unbalanced relationship.  We are best friends with complicated insights about one another.  Let’s face it, your other best friends never wiped your butt or saw you pick your nose AND your other best friends never came right out and said you were screwing up your life, even when you weren’t.  It’s not bad or good, it’s just complicated.  We can get under each other’s skin unlike anyone else, sometimes. 

My mom’s side of the family is notorious for showing love by, how can I put this nicely, being mean spirited assholes to each other.  My mom and my aunt have moved away from this type of behaviour but, essentially, it is a free for all at family reunions.  If someone has a soft spot, you can bet your last dime that it will be laid out and peed upon before the day is through.  Making fun of each other is what they do.  We’ve all gotten used to it and try our best not to retaliate. 

And, even though my mom has steered away from this terrible family tradition, she still manages to pull out some aces on me when we are together.  Currently, she finds it riotous to call me a yuppie.  I can’t recall I have ever heard her laugh as hard as when I told her I was folding laundry and then I was going to playgroup later that day. “Ooooooh, looks who’s the minivan driving yuppie!  Who would have THOUGHT!”… Yeah.  So, I take a deep breath.  “Mom, it’s not a minivan, it’s a crossover SUV/wagon - there’s a difference.”

My identity is something I am very protective of.  Not my “image” or my “style” - don’t get those things confused.  I have clung to my indentity since I can remember.  My ideals, my strengths, my opinions, my art, books that I love, people that I care about, places I have been - all of these things have created who I am, obviously.  And, I will admit, I had great diffuculty finding my way once I became a mother and, even more so, when I became a stay-at-home one.  But, I feel that - despite the suv/wagon crossover and the fact that I drive through starbucks occassionally and the fact that I only get to work in the studio once a week - I have stayed my course and can honestly say that I am becoming a better person and, yes, a good mother and wife.  I understand that the me of ten years ago would likely wage a protest if she ever heard the me of now say that it was important to be a good wife and mother.  BUT, the me of ten years ago had never met the wonderful people that are my husband and kids, so how could she have known how important it would be? 

So, why should it bother me when my mom prattles on about - “oh, lisa, remember - you were supposed to be living in France right now being an eccentric artist!  Ooooh, how the times have changed!!!”.  Why does it bother me?  It just does.  I guess because I want my family to understand that, sure, I mourn those things.  I feel sad, daily, about the youth that I didn’t have because I had a baby at 21 years old rather than to give it away (or worse). I guess I want to know that at least she thinks I have worked it all out the right way.  And, maybe the chortling is her weird, backwards way of giving it to me.  Hell, I don’t know.  I just know that France isn’t as important as it used to be - but it will be again one day.  And, making a political and philosophical arguement out of everything isn’t something I have to do anymore, not because I’ve gone soft-yuppie, but because I live it rather than talk about it. 

So, I guess I’ll take this as an opportunity to let her in to my world a little bit more.  I know we will have a blast.  And, I know that she really does approve of my life - more so than anyone else.  Maybe I can find a funny thread in her jokey-jokes.  We’ll just have to wait and see, I suppose.. I know she means no harm.. I guess it’s just my achilles heel.  Damn it, I guess this means I have to do more growing and finding my own confidence and crap like that.  Why can’t it be some one else’s turn to learn a lesson for a change???

Posted in Parenting, Communication, Daily Living, Mental Environment | No Comments »

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