Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The crying game

I've spent the last four years trying to teach my son that crying doesn't get you what you want. He remains unconvinced and rightly so because, in fact, it's not true. Crying does get you what you want. Me anyway. Not always. Like when I was 25 and I sobbed at the US Airways counter having arrived after the boarding cut-off that I absolutely had to get on the plane because I had no where to go in Denver (not true) and no money (true). No can do. US Airways sucked even pre-9/11 it turns out. But when I threw a tantrum about keeping my son's car seat on the plane just in case there was an extra seat (there ALWAYS is) because it would be better for everyone on the plane if my 15 month old had a seat for the 11 hour flight to Israel…I got my way and there was a seat and everyone was happy, even my husband who generally would rather slink into a lavatory when I start on one of my rampages. I've even gotten out of speeding tickets people! It's a money-saving tool as well as a stress-relief system. The wonders of human evolutionary mechanisms continue to amaze.

And it worked again yesterday. I took my son to have his TB test site examined and in fact he doesn't have TB. I know, SHOCKING. Because it's really going around in Silicon Valley…I had taken him on Friday to have his four-year old vaccines (two of them) which we missed for some reason because we didn't see his usual doctor for the last check-up. That part is still a mystery. But when I started his registration packet for kindergarten I realized that were missing four shots and the TB screening. I was not about to give my son what amounts to five shots in one setting. I know it's medically acceptable but I just couldn't stomach it. The three shots on Friday were traumatizing enough. And I'm not even 100% sure he's going to kindergarten next year. But the application is due February 28th and all the rumors are that if it's not complete it will be thrown out and I guess that's when you have to quit your job and home school your child. Huh? None of this makes sense to me. Especially since my son won't be five until October and shouldn't need his five year old shots until he's five. I mean, I didn't make up the schedule, doc! I'm guessing you spread them out for a reason. Maddening. So, on the advice of another parent whose child has a fall birthday, I ask my doctor if she can write him a note saying it's not advisable to give all five vaccinations at once. She says she won't do this and that's when I start to get a little flustered. So I call the district nurse whom I have called three times in the last month with no return call. The admin says she's not in and while I'm explaining the situation my voice starts to warble and it's clear that I'm about to start sobbing so then suddenly the school nurse IS in (what a miracle!) and she talks me off the cliff. And, incidentally, decides that as long as we have the remaining vaccinations in by July, then my son's place in school is safe (the program we want is a lottery which is why I care so much in the first place - if he gets a spot, I don't want them to give it away because of the damned vaccinations).

So you see, crying works. I'm wasting my time trying to convince my son otherwise. I should just tell him straight up that turning on the waterworks is definitely the way to get what you want. I'm guessing though, this is not actually the case for boys/men. I'm actually embarrassed now that's it's all over. I was embarrassed as it was happening. But it's just not something I can control. Sad but true. So you'd think I'd be more understanding about my son's tendency toward emotional outbursts. But for him I have even less patience. It's like watching my most annoying quality magnified by ten and served back concentrated into a three and a half foot, forty pound mini-me. The horror.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

My Funny Valentine

My daughter just turned two on the 15th. Yes, I went into labor on Valentine's day in 2007. No, it wasn't because of the passionate love-making. It was the prostaglandin. And she showed up the next morning. So I plan to have valentine themed parties for as long as I can stretch it out because you can't beat the 80% off all Valentine crap the day after. Plates for $.39! This excites me.

So I ran out the morning of her party and snatched up all the valentine sale items. Our friends started to arrive around 4:00 and she basically slept through the first hour of her party. Then she woke up, walked out bleary-eyed, immediately asked for a piece of pizza (by ask, I mean she pointed at the pizza and whimpered. She still doesn't talk.), sat in a big chair like a queen and ate three pieces of pizza, jumped down and did a little dance, clapped for herself, stared at her candles, at a bunch of cake, did another jig and then said goodbye to all of our guests. Even my son was on best behavior. As long as he could play with his sister's new princess make-up and hair styling set. When they weren't gobbling cake, they spent much of the party applying pretend eye shadow and doing each others' nails.

And so we enter the terrific twos. Again. My daughter has a far sunnier disposition so hopefully the next three years won't be too challenging. Though she does have an angry, sometimes violent, streak. Lately she's been putting my husband and me in time-out. She wags her finger at us and says sternly no no no no. Then she says come and leads us to her room where she wags her finger again, utters a few more no-nos and then shuts the door. I'd say she has it down. We're not supposed to laugh but it's hard. She's really funny.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

More than a toaster

How can it be that a toy toaster costs as much as a regular toaster? I mean, you search for toaster in the toy section on Amazon and you get a whole mess of toasters ranging from about $10 to (this is not a typo) $130. And then in a row of images underneath the toys are the real toasters that cost the same amount and, get this, they actually make the toast.

But you know what they don't make? Time. Whoever is pricing the toy toasters clearly understands the underlying value of a toy that will occupy two kids in 30+ minutes of cordial pretend play.

I recently bought my kids a little wooden kitchen off eBay and then pimped it out with all kinds of wooden food and a blender and a cash register and whatever else I could find on the cheap. My goal was to create a little kiddie vortex in this oddly placed corner of our hallway and it appears to have worked. The two of them are in there making cupcakes and soup and whatever else they can think of for HOURS. Literally hours. And these are little people with little attention spans. This affords me the time I need to breathe for a second after work and prepare dinner which makes me endlessly happy. And this is a day after day phenomenon.

Which brings me back to the inherent value of the play toaster which is endless happiness for me and my kids. Don't get me wrong, my kids would happily play with a real toaster. And I definitely like toast. But not as much as I like endless happiness. And that is why I am willing to pay regular price for a toaster that doesn't make toast. Because my kids can play together and no one gets electrocuted. That's worth $25 in my mind.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I stand corrected. Our creative director does in fact know his Yiddish sayings. I just have a hearing problem. The phrase is "Off the Schneid" and it comes from baseball via the shtetl to mean the end of a losing streak. Schneid, meaning cloth. Cutting the cloth.
You learn something new everyday. Back to work.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Off the Schein

I tell you I am so easily distracted. It's like a disease. I'm constantly checking my email, browsing around the Internet. The damned Internet. Sure I was happy to have it yesterday when our creative director at Shutterfly kept saying, "he needs to just get off the shein" and we all wondered what the hell a schein was so I googled it and it turns out to mean "beautiful" in Yiddish. This, of course, makes no sense in the context of the conversation but given that the creative director is actually not Jewish but likes to throw around Jewish expressions because he thinks it gives him more cache, I am not surprised.

Where was I?

Yes, distracted. In general the Internet is my demise. This is actually the thing that I'm working on with my life coach (I have a life coach). She says it's like a muscle that's clearly atrophied in my case. So I decided that when I'm distracted at my day job I'll either just push through it and actually do my work. Or, like right now, I'll blog (ie. get all the clutter out of my brain) for five minutes and then get back to work. Guess which scenario is more likely.

What did we do before the Internet? A whole lot of nothing I guess. Or maybe we talked to each other and wasted time that way.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Tale of Two Kiddies

I went in last week for my son's mid-year performance evaluation, I mean, parent-teacher conference. I had already basically made up my mind that we would keep him in preschool another year. Although not this preschool. We'd been looking at "Young Fives" programs in the area and I'd found two that I really liked and we are on the waiting list for both. My son has an October birthday but we'd sort of always assumed that he would go ahead to kindergarten younger than most. That's what my husband and I both did. And our older brothers. And we all turned out fine. Although my husband is now having flash backs of being a 5 foot three inch senior and not really enjoying the whole social aspect of high school...but I digress...

So we moved him to preK this year and it was a total nightmare. Or at least a massive miscalculation. He basically cried every morning before leaving for school and when I'd ask him in the afternoon who he played with he would say no one. I played by myself. Now he didn't seem overly bothered by this so I just nodded and said, hmm, great, meanwhile projecting all of my worst insecurities about being liked in school and having friends on this poor kid who's quite content to just ride a trike around the blacktop thirty times and call it a day. 

And even now, four months later, he's only kind of getting into it. We have our morning routine down and he's only rarely "creepy" in the morning. Goodbyes are never dramatic. He still clings to me during field trips. But he's started talking about a few friends which thrills me to no end. He's even been invited to some birthday parties. Kids who are turning five mind you. So that's been nice. Although he won't talk to anyone when we go. Less nice. Anyway, none of this behavior could have prepared me for the parent teacher conference. A snippet:

Your son has made a 180 degree change. He has really blossomed. Everyone adores him. He doesn't much want to play with the teachers anymore. He picks and chooses his friends and he does so wisely. He's always raising his hand and participating in the class. He has a lot of energy. He's excellent at negotiating his relationships. He demands an apology and forgives immediately. He's extremely imaginative. And he's almost reading. He's the kid that makes teachers cry when we think about how far he's come. He is COMPLETELY ready for kindergarten.

Huh? I mean I love this kid dearly. He's really the light of my life but, huh? This is the same kid that won't start eating dinner unless his blue booster seat is lined up perfectly with the chair beneath it. Or the kid who will only wear his black jeans during the week and his brown "weekend" pants on the weekend. And only blue socks or the stripy ones that his aunt gave him or his frosty the snowman socks that his other aunt gave him (these amazing women clearly know my son). I mean I have to say that I was totally flabbergasted. I admit I have seen a difference in him over the last few weeks. My husband even noticed. But I thought for sure they'd agree with me to hold him back. 

So now we're in a quandary again. I'm signing him up for kindergarten in the end, which is a lottery for the magnet program in our neighborhood, plus these two special preschool programs for fall birthday kids. I guess we'll just see where he gets in. I would love to send him ahead just to save on preschool tuition, and if he's actually ready, then all the better. But I have one friend with older boys who says she regrets sending her oldest ahead and he's an August birthday. At the time he was also ready for kindergarten. But by the time middle school rolls around it can be brutal for the youngest boys in the class. Another woman I met said she just wished she'd have her daughter around the house for one more year since she's going college at age  seventeen. One thing's for sure. I'm glad my daughter's birthday is in February. And if we have a third, I will plan accordingly.