Forgive this silly post, but the entire family is sick and suffering from massive sleep deprivation, so this is the best I can do. As some of you may know, I am ambivalent about superheroes and their unironic stronghold on the contemporary male psyche. I really hope children will grow less obsessed than their fathers with high-flying musclemen dealing with unresolved childhood traumas. To speed up the process, I've started my own little campaign of placing superheroes into a more rational perspective. It all began when I revealed to my Italian nephew that the name Wolverine is not a play on the word "wolf", but it refers to an actual skunk-like species whose name in Italian is gulo gulo, which sounds a lot like "ass ass". He was crushed, but I believe for the better.
Today, I'm making sure that my son's budding admiration for Spiderman is kept in check with this little song. To be administered three times a day for two weeks, at monthly intervals.
Wednesday, March 25, 2015
PHILOSOPHYAs I approach the mid-point of my journey on this planet (take that euphemism), I am starting to question more and more the meaning of it all, and what should be my line of conduct for the rest of my life. I know I've abandoned the staunch idealism of my youth, but I'm also wary of the comfy judgementalism of old age. So I have come to my personal conclusion. Presently, I have been trying to live according to the Buddhist precepts of "letting go" and "releasing the ego", which I combined in my personal mantra of "letting myself go". Which brings me to the next point.
BARRE NONEAs long as I can remember, I've done all I could to avoid physical exertion. Sweating and toiling for the sole purpose of sweating and toiling always sounded absurd to me, and a long time ago I decided the best exercise would be walking briskly because I was late for stuff. It worked, until I had kids. After my second pregnancy, I found myself as strong, nimble, and quick as an octogenarian toad. So last week I appealed to the last bit of energy in my atrophied muscles and signed up for a barre class. Cursory research told me that barre is an exercise inspired by ballet and Pilates, and pictures showed slender, smiling women in yoga pants gracefully holding a ballet barre and keeping a perfect posture. More importantly, none of them was covered in sweat. It looked dreamy. Well, I had my first class on Sunday, and please know I'm in physical pain even now as I type this. Barre is not easy. There was a moment where I had to sit on an invisible chair with my back against the wall while opening and closing my legs for what I'm pretty sure was 45 minutes (okay, maybe 3). I was shaking like something powered by a steam engine and I was pretty sure my kneecaps would pop out and my ligaments would roll out in the air like curly ribbon on a gift box. I had none of the grace and poise I was envisioning, I was sweating through every pore, and every single time the instructor was not looking I would flop down on the floor like a sorry, empty tutu. All that said, I'm not giving up. Even with all the pain and humiliation, my barre class is an excused absence from my house. I'll take it.
VIDEO TUTORIALS = UKULELEFor many reason that may or may not include my clumsiness and lack of manual skills, I watch a lot of video tutorials in my spare time. One thing I cannot explain is the directors' over-reliance on upbeat ukulele music (like this), the kind you are also likely to hear on most tech gadget commercials. Actually, it's not so much that I don't understand it as I hate it. Really, it makes my nerves jump out of my skin. I don't know exactly why... I suspect it might be a reaction to the current infantilization of everything and the modern penchant for unthreatening cuteness. I promise, though: If I ever make a video tutorial, the soundtrack will be this.
Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Is it Spring already? No, it isn't, but we're getting there, right? Aren't we??? If I sound desperate, it's because I am. I have spent the entire winter indoors trying to keep my children entertained yet safe while throwing Cheerios at them at hourly intervals. I may have survived, but barely. The only thing that has kept me mentally stable has been googling diagramming apps, an old passion of mine. So here are four pie charts to summarize the seasonal activities of average parents. If someone ever asks you, "What do you do all day?", then show them these.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Here is the second installment of the lessons I've learned as a mother of 2 kids under the age of 3. (Here you can find Part I.) My chidren, MiniBee and MicroBee are now 4 and (almost) 18 months, which means I'm still in the trenches, but breathing some, too. I hope some of these thoughts are going to help parents about to embark on the double-parenting adventure, although I know very well that everything you are reading here you will forget within minutes of your second birthing experience. Good luck!
NAPSYou are surely wondering how on earth you will be able to have two children nap at the same time or at different times of the day. I have no solution for you, I'm afraid. Having two children following two different napping routines is olympically challenging. A classic two-hour routine right after birth saw me nursing MicroBee to sleep while listening to MiniBee trashing the living room downstairs, then drag an overexcited MiniBee to his room and read him stories for 45 minutes so that I could finally leave the room only to hear MicroBee waking up from is nap. I would then pick MicroBee up and be greeted downstairs by MiniBee announcing he would not nap that day. So my advice is, do whatever you can. It will be over someday, somehow.
DUMBING DOWN FOR ALLWhen you had your first child, you spent all of your energies crafting the perfect amount of quality mental stimulation to be balanced with strict routines and a plenty of nurturing affection. Your first child is a genius with massive potential in practically all areas. As soon as the second comes along, all comes to a halt. I'm sorry to tell you this, but now that you're a family of four, your youngest will drag you all to his/her own level, nullifying all of your previous efforts. You are exhausted, and all you can muster is going through the motions of the simplest activity that will make the youngest happy. In my case, it's banging toy cars together. (You will always choose to cater to the one who screams the most and is closest to your ears.)
POTTY MOUTHWhen your oldest child turns four, s/he will enter the horrifying stage of potty mouth, during which s/he is going to repeat swearing you say at home together with mystifying coinages s/he will pick up from other children (welcome to "fart sauce"). At the same time, your youngest will be the impressionable toddler dealing with his or her first words. You will then enjoy having a toddler whose only words are "mom", "dad", "shit", and "stupid". I can tell you there are not a lot of good sentences coming out from this.
THE IRONY OF "THE GOOD OLD DAYS"You will think back at those days when you were only dealing with your first and wonder what the fuck you were complaining about. When you have a second, the idea of having to deal with one tantrum, one meal, one potty-training disaster will sound like being transported into your early 20s on a solo vacation to a Caribbean paradise. Of course, this doesn't mean you start judging parents with only one child. You are just gaining some very much needed perspective. Sometimes you'll even go as far as thinking that, if you had three children, then the two you have would look like a stroll in the park. But that's usually when I slap myself really hard on the face.
Read Fool Me Twice, 2 Kids Under 3 (Part I).
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
My oldest (MiniBee) turned 4 recently, and my youngest (MicroBee) is two months shy of 18 months, which means that at some point I did have 2 kids under 3 to take care of. It might be the biggest cliché ever, but time did fly since MicroBee was born, and today I look at this tall, brooding preschooler and this dancing, dumpster-diving toddler and I can't believe they are my sons. So I decided to stop and think about what a crazy roller-coaster the past two years have been, and which lessons I've learned that can be passed to future parents of 2 under 3. Here is Part I!
SECOND PREGNANCYEverybody knows that nobody cares about your second pregnancy, but you'll be surprised by how little you will care yourself. Personally, I could never remember how many weeks I was, I'd ask strangers at the supermarket whether smoked salmon was safe for me, and I started talking to the baby inside me only when they told me he was fucking breech (don't worry, I kept it somewhat civilized).
BOOKSBeing the compulsive parenting-book reader that I am, I was surprised by the lack of well-established manuals for parents with young children. How I am supposed to raise these kids without expert advice?!? The reason is very simple: No parent of a toddler has the time to read such manuals (and I suspect no parent has the time to write them, as well). And even the freaks like myself who sacrifice what little sleep they have to read parenting books usually know at this point that these books are a hoax and that everybody is just winging it 99% of the time.
OUTNUMBEREDBelieve me, as much as my wonderful MicroBee is a beautiful smily angel from planet Happy, not a day passes that I don't ask my husband what we were smoking when we decided to have a second child. You might have two children on paper, but it will feel like you have half a dozen. In any case, you're outnumbered, even when your partner is around. The only way around this is to be perfectly organized, frantically stacked with supplies, and always ready to deliver the best possible response for every demand from your children. I guess what I'm saying is, good luck.
MOTHER'S ARMSChildren under three still like to be held and carried places, so it was no surprise to me that the arrival of a baby would only intensify this need. Your children will both need to be held, often at the same time, so there will be times where you're going to have to do that. Hopefully this will happen after your birthing stitches have been removed. It does make for some great photos of course. Smile, always, so at least one day you can pretend that it was not excruciatingly painful.
MOM BRAINIf you think you had mom brain the first time, think again. Actually, you can't. Your head is now occupied by two massive yearly planners filled with information to be dealt with at all times. No personal reflection will ever be possible again, and memories from your youth will come in blurry flashes only during the deepest of sleep. (And a side note to this. The term "mom brain" is used to imply that mothers become stupider with the arrival of children, and nothing angers me more than hearing this. Mothers do not become stupid; they are simply flooded with a myriad of information of both mundane and critical importance. And even with the occasional slip-up they do a pretty damn good job with it regardless of the minutes that they sleep per day.)
Read Fool Me Twice: 2 Kids Under 3 (Part II).