Enquiring Minds Want to Know: Questions My Toddler Asks Me

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Toddlers have a bad reputation of asking incessant “why” questions. In fact, that is not true. They ask all manner of questions. To wit, today, my 3.95-year-old toddler asked me the following–

All today. No fictionalization or fillers necessary here. In this order, from eyes open to eyes shut.).

(I will not describe the context to you for these questions, but feel free to imagine what you will)–

Can you come cuddle with me so I can wipe my boogers on you?

Why do you look so funny with your clothes off?

Can you carry me downstairs with one hand?

Can you carry me downstairs with one finger?

Why do these Cheez-Its smell like cheese?

What are my choices for breakfast? And what else? And what else? And what else? And what else?

Can we go to Montreal today? And Disney World? And England?

Can I wear these socks again?

Can I wear pajamas to school?

Can we have Pajama Day again?

Can I wear your slippers to school?

Can you have a Pajama Day at your school?

How come you don’t hold your penis when you pee?

Are you a boy?

Can I be a Ninja Turtle for Purim?

Can you be a boy?

Is today tomorrow?

Can I be Batman for Purim?

Why does your pee come out of your bum?

Can I have some coffee?

Can I be a doctor and a monster and a hockey player and a challah when I grow up?

Why can’t you go through a red light?

Why did you pick me up from school?

Can I eat the candy from the floor?

WHY did you flush my poo????? (waaaaaaaah)

Can you read me the book that makes you cry?

Can I come into your bed tonight and sleep on your head?

. . .

And then we said goodnight. And as Scarlett declared, Tomorrow is another day.

To freshmen, I am ancient: proof

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For the second time this year, I showed my students the 1927 film, Old San Francisco. And for the second time this year, I asked my students if they recognized any of the actors. Both times, my students figured out (likely by way of imdb) that the Swedish actor, Warner Oland, playing evil Chinese Chris Buckwell, was the same actor who played the rigidly Orthodox cantor in The Jazz Singer, which came out a month later (we watch that film, too). But no one recognized Dolores Costello, who plays the beautiful and chaste Dolores Vasquez, set up by the film as the rightful proprietress of Californian lands, by virtue of being descended from Spanish Conquistadors (the film brilliantly elides San Francisco’s history as part of Mexico, casting Dolores as a pureblood European, and a contrast to the other sketchy ethnic types who try to take possession of her rancho and the rest of the city–only to be crushed by the 1906 earthquake).

dolores_costelloOK, I didn’t actually expect them to recognize her (even if she was the Goddess of the Silent Screen), but I wanted to see if anyone noticed a family resemblance to another actress.

I gave them a few facts about Dolores Costello: “She was the daughter of actors.”

“She was married to an actor.”

“She was the mother of an actor.”

“She was the grandmother of an actress — who is still acting today. Can anyone guess who that actress today is?”

Nothing.

Then: “She’s about my age. And she was a child actress. I am willing to bet everyone has seen, if not some of her recent romantic comedies, one of the films she did as a kid. It was a very famous movie. I saw it as a kid when it was out in the theater, but it’s a classic. You would have seen it.”

Last semester, a student asked: “She was a kid when you were a kid?”

Me: “Yes.”

This semester, they all just thought and thought (and held their googling fingers back).

I didn’t break the silence. I waited. And both times, a student (the first time, the same who clarified the actress’s contemporaneity with me), finally piped up with a knowing response:

“Shirley Temple!”

?????????????????????

. . . the ’30s star who died this past month, at the age of 85.

Giant sigh. If you know the number of a good plastic surgeon, it seems I need it. Send it my way!

Dual Academic Parents

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Sometimes a friend says to me, “How do you do it? And BOTH of you academics–wow.” By which I know that friend means, “Seriously–how does your family live off those pathetic salaries? As a second salary, ok, I get it, but both of you–?” Or another might mean, “Just thinking about your life makes me reach for my Xanax/calming glitter bottle. You have no job stability, and therefore no life stability. You move every two years, your kids have tried out every Jewish school on the continent, and you apply to 100 jobs a year, hoping that some random place in some random corner of the world might hire you.” Or yet another might mean, simply, “How do you ever have time for your kids?” (but that person is probably a fellow academic, because everyone else thinks we only work 4h/week).

And what do I say? I put on my best Dowager Countess of Grantham voice and tell them my life is just lovely and that our shared profession allows us to inspire our children with lifelong passions for knowledge, education, and self-betterment.

And as long as they have no interaction with my kids . . . they might believe me.

school love

The Bright Side of My Singlemotherhoodlife: A Top Five List

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600px-Nutella-1

What bright side?

No, no, that’s too depressing. On the eve of The Scientist’s return home (also known as a brief visit), I am determined to think about all the good things that happened while he was away. Because, you know, silver lining and all that.

So here’s my top 5:

5. Nutella. I grew up believing Nutella was disgusting (thanks, Mom). But, on a whim, I decided I was going to let the kids try it this week since The Scientist, who has a fatal nut allergy, isn’t here anyway. And in the meantime, I tried it, too. Let me tell you (and Mom) something: Nutella is NOT disgusting. It’s AMAZING. Best food discovery of my adult life.

4. Fresh Direct arrived in my neighborhood precisely the day The Scientist left! Coincidence or divine intervention?? As LL said (and I couldn’t agree more),”Now THIS is the way to shop.”

3. The Boy Babysitter. He’s come twice now. Booked for 3 more visits. And there will be even more, I assure you . . .

2. My beautiful, sexy, smart iPhone. Yes, after years of whining to you about not having one, I got one. My justification? Facetime! How else to remember I actually have a husband somewhere out there in the world. (Baby MoFo is a huge fan, too. In fact, he calls his dad, and they “hang out” while he watches Batman/Phineas and Ferb/The Backyardigans in Spanish because for some reason they’re gone from both TV and Netflix in English, and Dada does work. It’s great!).

1. Baby MoFo told me he loves me! Normally, he says, “I just love Dada.” If pressed, he will admit he also loves LL because “he’s my best brother.” But today, when I absolutely wouldn’t give him a popsicle until he said he loved me (that’s legit, right?), he said, sighing, something that he would never say if Dada were around: “OK, Mama. I love you a little.” Good enough! I’ll take it!

And that’s my list! If there’s more, I have been too steeped in vomit to notice!

The Boy Babysitter

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Last night, we were puke-free. It’s been so long since we were puke-free that I did a happy dance. It’s been even longer–remember those snow days and holidays–since I’ve had a child-free block of time. But today I was desperate to get some work done (the semester is starting all too soon!), so I did the best thing ever: I got a babysitter.

And, to my kids’ delight, he was a boy babysitter.

The minute he arrived, it was as though a playdate were starting. There was no talk, as there usually is when a babysitter arrives, of rules and regulations of the house. They handed him a wii-mote and gave him instructions (they’ve never taught me how to play Rayman Jungle Run, FYI), urging him to join them on the couch. Before I was even out the door, the boys–my own as well as the young, tattooed, pierced babysitter that was, without a doubt, the brightest spot in my kids’ week–were completely immersed in the game. Later, I’m told, Boy Babysitter made popcorn (it was his first time seeing an air popper! but he was a smartie and figured it out) and put on The Croods (which we don’t own — Boy Babysitter brought DVDs with him!). And after the movie, they ate lunch, which Boy Babysitter prepared for them. And then they played cards.

The kids declared Boy Babysitter the best babysitter ever.

And I had to agree, because thrilling and feeding my kids to pieces wasn’t all Boy Babysitter did. As I walked up to the house on my return, I knew he was a winner before I even got to the door. Why? Because Boy Babysitter had shovelled my porch and my front stairs. And salted them.

And more: not only did he clear and wash the lunch dishes, he also washed the dishes and muffin pan that had been lying in my sink for . . . some time. And wiped down the countertops. And table.

Really, I have to get out of the mindset that it has to be all me all the time just because The Scientist has moved to another planet continent. Having a babysitter gives me a break from the kids and the kids a break from me. And seriously: we all needed that break. And it’s not as though babysitting will clean out my pocketbook . . . One of the best parts of getting Boy Babysitter — and any other babysitter — is that my work pays for it.

Big Mama schlepping the burden alone

Big Mama schlepping the burden alone

It’s all fun and games here in singlemotherhoodlife

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Dear Adon Alom, Master of the World and its Snow and its Viruses,

I got it. I did you wrong. You thought I should go to the UK and be with my husband, my children with their father. You thought that was what shalom bayit was all about–after all, how can there be shalom--peace– without a shared bayit–a home?

So you sent me a series of misfortunes to daily punctuate my life as a single mother. A miserable court date. A death in the family. A babysitter who cancelled at the last possible minute, making me miss work. A babysitter who showed up half an hour late, making me not miss work but just further develop an ulcer. A hunk of baby finger clipped off with a nail that led to more than 24h of bleeding (Me: “I’ve cut off a piece of my child!” Pediatrician: “I’ve never known a mother who didn’t.”). A stomach bug for Cool J. A cold and fever for Baby MoFo. Coupled with a slashed tire that couldn’t be repaired (“Hey, guys, if you can just hold off on that diarrhea for, say, a couple of hours, we’re going to take a field trip to the auto shop to get a new tire!”). Sick days followed by holidays (whenever there’s a Monday holiday at Baby MoFo’s preschool, they also cancel school on Friday–why a 3-day weekend when it could be 4??) followed by snow days. During which I’m not allowed to park on my street (and I have no garage/driveway), so I had to drive the kids to a lot on campus and walk home with them in a blizzard . . . only to get a message that all cars on campus were supposed to be in garages and not the outdoor lots (no, I did not schlep my kids back out. So who knows if I still have my car with its pretty new tire?). Snow days followed by . . . you got it. Sick days. Because why should LL be spared? And what could I be so busy doing at 2am that I can’t be elbow-deep in vomit?

The Scientist has been gone just over 2 weeks.

I am not having fun.

So I’m sorry, Adon Olam, but please, can you give this poor princess-mother a break?

Or an angel . . . but not of this variety.

Or an angel . . . but not of this variety.