Tuesday, February 17, 2009

"The Testing Twos"

I was talking to my buddy this morning, complaining that I absolutely loathe the phrase "terrible twos." What does it even mean? Does it mean that when your kid hits a certain age, her behavior is terrible? Her personality is terrible? Her attitude is terrible?

Who decided it was acceptable to talk about our children this way?

My girl is twenty months old. Last night, she had a meltdown that made her turn purple. She screamed and sobbed and kicked, and I felt so sad for her the whole time. I tried to minimize it, I tried to soothe her, to calm her down. Eventually, nursing worked (of course, the look she gave me when I first offered the breast was pretty harsh!), but only after a solid twenty minutes of her deciding that I was single-handedly trying to ruin all the fun.

So her little meltdowns, which are more and more common these days, got me thinking about how everyone warns about "the terrible twos," while they shake their heads and give a "you'll learn" look. And while these storm-warners are right, that at a certain developmental point - nearing the second birthday for most children - a child's desire to test limits intensifies, I think of it more as the "Testing Twos" than the terrible sort.

My baby girl is still the sweet, hilarious person she's always been. But sometimes she gets pissed.

Like when we won't let her into the silverware drawer! We are so selfish.

Like when we won't let her climb up a steep set of stairs! How do we even live with ourselves.

Like when we think it's not a good idea to get into the dog food or open the back door! We ruin everything.

Ruby wants to do what she wants to do at the precise moment she decides she wants to do it. I know this because I feel the same way, and if it were socially appropriate for me to arch my back and throw myself, screaming, onto the ground when someone steals my parking spot or gives me attitude, you can bet I would do it. But I don't, largely because I'm an adult who has figured out not just social codes of behavior, but the more elemental stuff - like what is and isn't safe to do. Ruby is just getting to these issues. We can't expect her to know which behaviors endanger her, and we shouldn't say she's "terrible" because she doesn't know. She's just testing the boundaries, and it's our job to guide her gently, not castigate her for acting, gasp!, her age.

Monday, February 16, 2009

25 Things About Me You Don't Really Need to Know

So my baby and baby-daddy are sleeping and I'm seriously tempted to start playing Mah Jongg on the computer, which means I'll almost immediately get sucked into an alternate universe where it's acceptable to be, ah, 29 and playing computer game based on a board game commonly played by Jewish grandmothers. So, instead, I thought I'd do one of those "25 Things About Me" questionnaires that are all the rage on Facebook, but which I'm too afraid to do on Facebook because what if any of my crazy could really be linked to me.....

1. If I could create my dream job, I'd be a rapist-hunter, not to be confused with a rapist/hunter because that's just wrong. No a rapist-hunter is a woman (MUST be a woman, kind of like a Slayer), who travels from place to place under the cloak of darkness and wipes out rapists, wife-beaters, child abusers and the like. Said hunter must also have a cool weapon, like a honed wooden spear with a Chinese Star attached to the end. Cape optional. I think they get in the way.

2. I have never dated a man I couldn't take in a fight. The FD might disagree with me on this one, but he shouldn't try me.

3. I don't want to get married, except I think it would be fun to plan a big party and sample cakes and put together a play-list. And I wouldn't mind a very fancy diamond ring, mainly so I could hock it for cash!

4. I miss California more and more every winter I spend in Massachusetts, or what I like to call, "The California of the East." What? There are similarities.

5. I love my baby girl's name - Ruby - and I'll always hold it against those a-holes who don't, especially one of FD's family members who said it wasn't "sexy." Creepiness factor? 100. Please refer to #1

6. I am a hard-core feminist, but I love super fucked-up non-feminist things. Not like snuff porn (but I'm not judging); more like "Bridezillas" and "7th Heaven." But I get around it by having a feminist critique of "Bridezillas" if anyone ever catches me cracking up on the couch watching WE. As for "The Heaven," I'll just blame it on 12 years of Catholic school gone wrong.

7. I want a really delicious bourbon-based cocktail that doesn't exist. How come all the vodka drinkers get the fancy drinks, and I'm stuck drinking it neat? Don't get me wrong, neat is good, but sometimes I want something sparkly.

8. I want to go to Spain already! I've wanted to go for maybe 16 years, and I haven't, but I'm pretty worried it would turn out all Alanis Morrisette: "She waited 16 years to go to Spain, then her plane crashed down and she thought, Isn't this lame."

9. I am going to learn to walk in heels this year. For real. Like a pro. Then I'm going to put on shorts, get hosed down, and run through the streets of New York yelling, "Pete!"

10. During my junior year in high school (ick. gag.), my religion teacher, Father O'Connor, used to call me a "trucker babe" and "feminazi," which I think were code words for lesbian.

11. I think the FD is the very best cook in the world. He knows everything about food, and he does sick, twisted, messed-up good things to it!

12. If I could eat one thing every day, it would be a super-ripe, sun-warmed, fresh-from-an-organic-July-garden tomato. Oh lord baby Jesus. There is nothing like it.

13. FD and I met on Valentine's Day. In a bar. Hotness.

14. I had this really crunchy, natural birth planned when I was pregnant. It was going to involve a tub and a soothing midwife, and music. Instead, I had to have a cesarean (no, really. Not like, "oh, I'm a celebrity and I had to have a cesarean because it's the only way they could do the tummy tuck at the same time"). It took me a while to get over it. But my girl is the SMARTEST, funniest, most gorgeous thing in the world, so it kind of makes sense that they had to cut her out of me.

15. I still breastfeed my 20-month-old baby and now she can tell me which side she wants to nurse on and, when she's had enough, she says, "Put the boob away, Mama" while giving it a dismissive pat.

16. Is it just me or is American history so, so boring? Unless it's about early feminists, or how Ben Franklin was a total drunk, I can't keep my eyes open.

17. I have names picked out for our future kids, but FD isn't on board with any of them. Part of me thinks we should just come up with a new name when it's time in a respectful and cooperative manner. Part of me thinks I should start the baby-daddy interview process soon.

18. I love big feet and big eyebrows on women. I think they're tough.

19. I have big eyebrows. They're tough.

20. I don't wash my feet that much. I know, I know.

21. I want to wear flip flops every single day. But I'm too busy running through the streets of New York in heels.

22. My sister and I call each other "sis." I think that's cute.

23. If I were really rich, I'd pay someone to wash and dry my hair every day . . . um, I mean, I'd donate it all to charity. Children's charity. Yep.

24. I flat-out HATE anti-feminists. I'm not into that "I respect your opinion" or "we'll agree to disagree" bullshit. Fuck that. That's for pansy-ass motherfuckers. If you think you have a right to tell me, or any woman, what to do with her uterus (or other parts for that matter), you're asking for it. If you think there's "women's work," you deserve a nice, hard punch in the gut. If you're raising your daughters on Bratz dolls and sugar-free (and cancer-rich) treats, you should be checked in somewhere. Oh, and to that woman - I'll call her Jen - outside the Planned Parenthood in Brookline a few years back, praying the rosary and getting in my face. I really hate you.

25. I've got a lot of anger. And I like to swear.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Eight Thoughts on the Octuplets

Given my obsession with The Duggars, I guess it's no surprise that I cannot get enough of this octuplets story (for those of you with other obsessions - lame! - the short story is a woman, Nadya Suleman, recently gave birth to octuplets thanks to fertility treatments and she already has six children under the age of seven at home), and I have many, sometimes conflicted, feelings about the whole thing. But I'll keep the list to 8:

1. It is irresponsible to have so many goddmaned kids! Children are amazing. I know, I have one. But it is unnecessary to have so many children. It's impossible or one adult to give fourteen children adequate attention and love, especially when they're all so close in age and some of them are medically fragile.

2. Uh, Adoption anyone?
There are millions of unwanted, neglected, and at-risk children throughout the world who would love to have a family. And, instead, you go get pumped full of embryos? For what, so you can have kids that look like you? Get over your damned self!

3. Why is this country so obsessed with women's reproductive choices?
(Oh, and before you say anything, I don't count because a) I am a woman and b) I'm a Feminist). Whether it's old dudes on the floor of Congress bemoaning the number of abortions in the United States, or old dudes gripping their rosaries in front of clinics, railing against "baby-killers," or the a-holes at Fox calling this woman a bad mother - mainly because, as it turns out, she's *gasp* unmarried - I have had enough of people's opinions about what women do with their own wombs! If you are so concerned about what happens in a woman's womb, get one of your own to worry about.

4. Why does this woman seem to see her value only in her capacity to reproduce?
Nadya Suleman is only thirty-three years old, yet she's gone to great lengths to mother 14 children in less than a decade. Why? Part of me thinks that it's mental illness or a fucked-up childhood, but another part of me thinks that Suleman has fallen prey to the backwards, anti-feminist rhetoric that values women and their contributions to society only vis-a-vis their reproduction. Suleman apparently has a degree in early childhood education, yet she's put further academic and professional goals on hold to add to her baby-harem. Perhaps it's because she only feels like she has purpose and value when she's baby-making.

5. $2 million.
Much has been made in the press of the fact that Suleman has hired an agent and is looking for book and television deals in order to make some cash. First of all, let me say, this broad could use some cash. But, let's look at who some of the millionaires in this country are . . . Basketball players are paid millions to throw a ball in a net, baseball players make millions to occasionally hit a ball with a stick, and Tiger Woods knocks a ball in a hole and gets not just a big, gold trophy, but multi-millions. What do they all have in common? Hmmm, let me think. Oh yeah, they're dudes.

Now this woman, who doesn't have the option of being a professional sports player, is being harangued for trying to get paid for doing the very thing conservatives in this country think she ought to doing - being a mother. Oh, that's right, there's something icky when women try to make money for doing what god put them on earth for, whereas running around in a circle real fast is an appropriately compensatable activity. Gag.

6. Have you not heard of the environmental crisis?*
More people means more environmental degradation. More people use more energy, contribute more to suburban sprawl, drink more water out of more plastic bottles, and eat more animals pumped full of more hormones than small families. Case closed.

7. She's a Single Mom!
Here we are again. Reporters have been talking a lot about the fact that Suleman is unmarried and that all of her children were conceived through in vitro fertilization.
"Why would a single woman want to have multiple children?"
"She doesn't have any support at home!"
"Who will pay for them?"

It's almost as if U.S. society has gotten all China-y on single moms. Turns out there's a limit. So listen ladies, if you're a single mom by choice, which is bad enough, Society called and he'd like you to keep it to one kid. Two at the absolute max! Don't be such greedy bitches.

8. It's Nunya - or my - Business
Look, if she wants to get freaky and sell it on the weekend, it's nunya business. If she wants to take a guy home with her tonight . . . Wait, what am I talking about? Oh, octuplets. Right. Ultimately, what this woman does with her uterus is up to her, not me. I may think she needs a shrink (she does) or a new hobby, but women's decisions about their reproduction belong to them. It's easy to be pro-choice when advocating for a woman's right to abortion, but sometimes it's a bit trickier when you see women like Nadya Suleman who have gone overboard on the other side. But it's her choice. And as long as she can love and care for her kids, we should learn to get over it (I'm trying).

*I stole this question from my buddy who responded to shock over her choice to use cotton diapers