Monday, October 27, 2008

What happens at Trader Joe's stays at Trader Joe's

My daughter has moved to the dark side. Just when I thought I'd have to close up shop with this blog because my son, while still quirky and challenging (more later about his latest fixation on nail polish), appears to be finally leaving the terrible twos. My daughter is now entering them. It seems I'll have plenty to write about for the next while. This is how we began our weekend on Friday.

I pick up the kids from school and drive to Trader Joe's to buy groceries. My daughter refuses to sit in the front of the shopping cart so I put her in the bigger part and my son volunteers to sit in front. And as we're moving through the aisles getting our goods my daughter decides she must have strawberries. She sees them and starts to do her point and shriek.

So I get her the strawberries (organic, so I don't feel as bad not washing them) and she starts packing them away. Then she stands up in the cart. I tell her to sit down and she looks right at me and says "BAH!" in her biggest voice. So I take her out and put her on the ground. She runs over to the dried fruit and sits down and starts sobbing angry sobs - how dare I order her to sit in the moving grocery cart. The nerve. I scoop her up and put her, flailing, back into the cart. That's when she really turns up the heat. She becomes full-body red, assisted by the strawberry slobber that's all over her face. She starts sweating from her head and her curls start to get pasted to her forehead. Steam is literally coming from her nose. And snot. And she launches into a tantrum the likes of which I have not seen since the IKEA incident. By now we're standing in line. She's coming out of the cart again so I hold her and she's arched all the way back and screaming like she's about to whip forward and bash herself into my face like some kind of Lucha Libre star. Now my son is crying because he gets upset when she's upset. He's also upset because I told him we couldn't have dumplings again for dinner. But he keeps asking and asking until I can't take it anymore so I tell him if he opens his mouth one more time about his dumplings he won't get any dinner. Genius, right? Do I get a parenting award for that one? Then he's mad for saying that and when my daughter drops her rat right in his lap and I ask for it back he throws it over my head into another check-out line. Meanwhile all of our groceries are under the cart (since my kids are usually in the cart) and I'm trying to put them on the counter while holding a baby who's moving every which way to free herself. So I look my son in the eye and tell him no dinner (in Hebrew - lest someone actually understand what I'm saying...). He starts to cry even harder now. I can't contain the baby so I put her down and she crawls over to the black mat where the cashier is standing and starts rolling around sobbing. Now her face is completely black with shoe soot. Then an older woman comes over and asks what's wrong with her. So I politely reply that she is two and sometimes two-year-olds have tantrums. Why do people ask dumb questions? She couldn't think of anything else to say? Some suggestions: "it gets better." Or "I have a damp washcloth to wash her face". Or "here's a check for $100K." Or "I know they're a pain in the ass but I really love your shoes."

I finally collect everyone and a nice kid (who's thinking thank god for condoms) helps us to the car and loads the groceries. I buckle everyone and they're both still screaming so I open all four windows and turn up the music really loud and drive home cursing under my breath.

What am I doing wrong people? (I know the empty threat of no dinner was weak, but besides that). I keep my voice even. I do redirects and create distractions. I reinforce positive behavior. I buy organic strawberries. I know the economy's shit so I'll forego my 401K for a little return on this other LONG-TERM investment I'm managing. Some days I have had it.

All this while I'm trying to convince my husband that we should have a third.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dairy Ere

I decided that I'm off milk. Well, I decided this for my daughter since she's had a runny nose and post-nasal drip for the last 19 months. But she decided that I have surely lost my mind and refused her grande decaf soy bottle last night. I guess when she's 35 she can decide for herself that she is tired of her cranial plumbing problems and make the switch. As for me, I made the switch today. I walked my congested self over to Starbucks this morning and ordered a tall SOY latte. 

And let me tell you, for the record, that drink tastes like ASS. Uch, it is seriously disgusting. I guess I'm off coffee too.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Birthday surprise

We celebrated my son's birthday last Sunday at a local park. For the weeks leading up to it I was going back and forth about how to plan this thing. I'm just not a good party planner. My birthdays always suck. Although I did plan a kickass New Year's party at my brother-in-law's house in Israel. We partied like it was 1999. In fact it was 1999. Uch, I'm old.

My husband and I decided we'd just do something simple at the park and invite a few of his friends from school and a few family friends. Then my husband spoke to our friends who were having their daughter's fourth birthday party the day before in Berkeley. And they were having everyone from her preschool, baking homemade pizza, planning all kinds of games and MAKING a pinata. George Jesus. How I am going to compete with all that. People. Take it down a notch. You're making the average mothers look really bad here.

So then my head started to spin a bit. Not unlike a bashed-in, homemade pinata. What the hell can we do to spruce up this party? I wasn't super excited about the thought of leading a bunch of four year olds in games. And yet we had reached the point where we couldn't just invite folks to play at a park and call it a party. The kids needed some structure. But I never thought of my son as a kid who likes to participate in games. Since he never does.

So I came up with one game - the going to work race. My son's favorite activity when he gets home from school is to put on my shoes, get his purse with his keys and go to work. He works in San Francisco he recently told me. I figured I'd bring twelve pairs of shoes and twelve purses or bags and line them and make the kids walk across the lawn "going to work". I also ordered a cake from my brother's neighbor in the shape of a Motorola flip phone with happy birthday written in the screen. Then I decided I'd pimp out my husband and make him do gymnastics tricks for the kids and maybe teach them a few tumbles. The only wild card was my son. Who knew if he'd participate at all. Or if he'd want any attention on him. He had the power to completely sabotage any and all plans. So we stuck with our two random party games and hoped for the best.

The day finally arrived and I channeled the spirit of Barney. As my son's friends started to arrive he greeted each one with a sprint in their direction and a bear hug. Who is this child? Pleasantly surprised would be an understatement. Once there was a critical mass I called all of the kids to do follow the leader and I marched them around the lawn doing overhead claps and giant steps and shark claps and monkey jumps. Then my brilliant mom came up with the hokey pokey. My son actually knew the words and sang the whole thing. Then we did the "work" race which was a hit. And after we went to a little hill and my husband showed the kids how to tumble down. Then he walked on his hands and did some cartwheels. The guest were sufficiently impressed. That completed the entertainment portion of the party and then it was time for lunch. So we sat around on blankets and ate pizza. Then we put Shalev in a little chair and sang happy birthday to him and lifted him four times and one for good luck as is the Israeli tradition. Then he saw his cake and just about died. MOTOROLA CAKE! I know, we're weird.

All in all I have to say it was a surprisingly great birthday. No tantrums. No whining. And no one threw up. The three criteria by which every party should be measured. I give it a ten.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Oh God

Last week on our way home from the children's Rosh Hashana service (which by the way is definitely the way to go since it's only 45 minutes long and includes a funny skit) my son says, what's Adonai?

Me: Huh?
Him: What's Adonai?
Me: Adonai? (I'm buying time here).
Him: Yes, Adonai. What is it?
Me: Adonai is God.
Him: What's God?
Me: God is something that's inside of people that helps them make good decisions and be good to each other. Like sharing toys. And being honest. And helping mommy. Everyone has Adonai inside them.
Him: What about the bad man?
Me: What bad man? (Oh jesus. I mean, Adonai. Where is he going with this?)
Him: The man who rides the giant lawn mower at the park.
Me: He's a bad man?
Him: Yes. He makes a lot of noise with his lawn mower.
Me: That's why he's a bad man?
Him: Yes.
Me: (with a sigh of relief) He's actually a good man and has Adonai in him because he helps keep the park nice for us to play in even though it probably hurts his ears when he does all that mowing.
Him: Okay.
Him: What's Oh, Adonai?
Me: Oh God.
Him: Okay.

Nice way to start out the year. Having an existential conversation with a three year old. Pretty cool.

By the way, today is his birthday. My son is four. I remember soon after he was born I took him with me to go vote. And as we watched in horror as Bush was re-elected, I thought ADONAI, my son's going to be FOUR by the time we'll have a chance to get rid of this clown. And here we are. My son is four. The bad man's term is dwindling. Maybe by the grace of Adonai we'll have reason to celebrate in a few weeks.