Category Archives: Family

On the Road Again

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When I told my friend Suppers it was time to say goodbye, she said, No, you know what it’s time to say?

FUCK YOU.

Yeah, I deserved that one.

How many times will we do this? Move in, get comfortable, make forever-friends, look with them at the far-off horizon–the 5-year man school program our kids are enrolled in, the changes to the community we’d like to institute, the stats on the high school (when my oldest hasn’t even hit middle school) . . . And then we leave.

The Scientist, for whom the term “settled” is anachronistic (“That soooo 20th century”), has already made the physical and emotional leap to the Motherland, so the rest of us are lagging behind.

But it’s time now. Time to say goodbye. Time to get on that road in the sky and head to the UK. Only, because it would be so conventional (soooo 20th century, perhaps) to fly east to get to the UK, we are flying way, way, way west and traveling to the UK the long way around the world. How boring to move and not hit almost every time zone known to humankind. Kids + jet lag rocks.

And speaking of awesome combinations, I hear China + WordPress don’t mix, so I might have to sign off for a while. But in the meantime, Poor Princess is thinking of writing a memoir about her meshugana life schlepping her kids everywhere. A How Not To kind of book. Maybe that will keep her occupied in China and her new life in the UK where she has no job or life to speak of (I know, you’ve all heard that one before). Until then, 再见!

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That fleeting feeling of being settled . . .

 

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.

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.

The Poor Princess in the Kingdom

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So the Poor Princess got poorer — $600 poorer — for one day (excluding accommodations) in Walt Disney’s genius megascam, Magic Kingdom (the magic is that they get you to agree to handing over $100s of your hard-earned dollars to wait hours to go on 3-minute rides that give you whiplash).

Poor Princess--the poorest princess in the kingdom

Poor Princess–the poorest princess in the kingdom

I’ll be honest: Parts of the day were brilliantly fun–like Splash Mountain, which we got a fastpass for and were all tall enough to go on:

The Princess-Scientist Family, renamed the Perries, on Splash Mountain

The Princess-Scientist Family, renamed the Perries for the day, on Splash Mountain

And parts revealed surprising beauty, like Cinderella’s Castle at night:

Cinderella's Castle at night

Cinderella’s Castle in shades of violet

And parts–like Cool J not being tall enough for Space Mountain (and LL raving about how amazing it was all day) and the miserably bad food we had to wait as long as Space Mountain for–were neither.

The day involved kicking, yelling, crying, too much ice cream (some of which was kicked . . . and led to yelling and crying . . . see above), a torrential downpour, rides that we could have ridden at any fair and at half the malls in America, and, of course, some magical delight. Was it worth $600?

Hell, no. Do you know what I could do with $600?

Unless–unless it was an investment.

This occurred to me the next day at breakfast, when I tried to interest the boys in the waffle iron but could not get their attention for the life of me. The boys were plotting and plotting. I listened in. Cool J, they decided, was going to built a bigger and better version of WDW–named after himself, of course. It would be in Texas–warm weather, lots of money, cheap real estate. The boys planned characters, logos, and rides. The conversation spilled from breakfast to our long, long car ride, and into the next day.

I doubt “Cool J’s World” will come to fruition, but I like the way my boys were thinking. WDW’s brilliant marketing suckered us into spending the cost of a roundtrip ticket to Europe for a day of kitschy Americana, but it also offered my boys an education.

And let’s face it: $600 is a whole lot less than I would spend on their MBAs.

Man Training

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“You’re going for man-training lessons,” I told LL. “It’s like a bar mitzvah, only without the Jewish stuff.”

I chose my words carefully. I didn’t say etiquette class. I didn’t say ballroom dancing lessons. I didn’t say It’s this lovely WASPy institution or reform school. I thought there was no way the lately-defiant eight year old would go if I gave him a single detail about the program I had signed him up for. It was enough that he knew it was neither hockey nor soccer.

And just as I was mum on the name and the activities of the course (How to Make Small Talk, How to Answer the Phone, How to Use Your Silverware . . .), I kept quiet about the dress requirements:

Boys:

Blazer or suit

Dress trousers (gray flannel or pressed khaki) — please, no cargo or casual pants

Dark socks

Properly buttoned dress shirt

Necktie

Dress loafers

(On the lady-training side of things, parents were buying dresses, patent-leather Mary Janes, and the sartorial star: white gloves.). I just said, “Oh, can you try these on? I want to see if they fit. How about this shirt? Hey, I want to learn how to put on a tie. Can you come here for a second?”

“He’ll hate it,” said my husband.

“He’ll hate you,” said my neighbor.

“He’ll never go,” said my friend.

But you know what I say to the naysayers? Suck it!

He went:

The carefully attired third graders being herded into etiquette class

The carefully groomed and gracefully attired third graders entering etiquette class

He slouched:

Apparently the course should have started with How to Sit Up Straight.

Apparently the course should have started with How to Sit Up Straight.

He danced:

Gentlemen, find your ladies . . .

Gentlemen, find your ladies . . .

And then he came out to report to his brothers that it was . . .

AWESOME!!!!

AWESOME!!!!

Admittedly, the geniuses at the program end the class by having the boys give the girls candy, and vice versa.

Poor Cool J. “It’s no fair!” he declared jealously. “I want some–. I mean, I want to learn ballroom dancing and wear a tie!!!”

All in good time, my little one. All in good time!