Monday, May 29, 2006

I Swear

Actually, I try very hard not to. Swear, that is, but it's hard. Freakin' HARD.

Ok, anyone who's read this blog has read some swear words, but that's different: my two-year-old can't read yet and I'm doing my best to create a cranky persona here. But in the real world, I work very hard not to swear in front of my kid and it only really works if I don't swear in general because it tends to be hard to remember when it's ok or not.

True story, on one of our adult evenings out, on the way to the restaurant Hubby and I spent most of the ride swearing as profanely as possible. "Fuck you, you fuckin fuck!" was a big favorite.

But the truth of the matter is that as I attempt to be a more patient person, (to wit, a better mother) I'm finding that the urge to swear becomes less prevalent. I used to swear at other drivers pretty routinely but now, since I'm like as not to have the child in theh carseat, I've had to knock it off. The result has been that I'm better about not getting quite so pissed off at all the other drivers on the road, no matter how dangerous or idiotic.

A side note: thank you Dave Barry, for pointing out that every other driver on the road is either an idiot or a maniac. And we all believe that we're a better-than-average driver, which is of course impossible. In my heart of hearts, I know that I'm a below-average driver because I drive distracted 90% of the time. When not distracted, of course: above average.

And there's swearing and there's swearing: there's the vulgar language of biology--shit, piss, fuck--and the language of sacrelige--goddammit, Jesus Fucking Christ. I avoid the latter. (Oddly, my father-in-law engages freely in the sacreligious but attempts to limit the vulgar--though he's learning to limit both around his granddaughter, which I appreciate.) I think I'm still too much a Church of Christ girl to not feel prickly if I resort to the sacreligious.

There's also the difference between swearing in general vexation and swearing AT someone, the latter of which I am doing my best to eliminate forever because it's aggressive and kind of nasty. (I'm going to insist here that "Fuck you, you fucking fuck!" is an endearment. In the right context.)

But I've also found that if I can say "rats" or "crap" when I'm annoyed instead of "shit" that I seem to be less annoyed. I remember driving with my mom one time when I was getting increasingly peeved at another driver (an idiot) and finally said, Oh For Crying Out Loud and then my mother visibly relaxed--I think she knew that I wasn't going to go into full-on road rage if I could resist swearing in that moment.

I also remember an episode of CSI when two of the female CSIs were discussing an altercation and one said, he probably used THAT word and the other said, I hate THAT word. They meant "cunt," a word that seems to carry with it such a load of hatred against women that it's one of the last true Fighting Words. I've asked a male friend not to use it in my presence. And the attempt in the Vagina Monologues to defang it didn't work for me--I even have trouble typing it.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Mother's Day Through the Looking Glass

Yeah, yeah, it's been more than a week since the Big Day, but it's been nuts around here. But anyway...

First: does anyone really think it's cute when sitcoms and cartoons (or whatever) depict the kids making mom breakfast in bed and making a huge mess that mom has to clean up? Where's dad in all this? Why doesn't he rein in the kids or at least clean up afterward? Can't he persuasively say, lets give mom brunch at the Four Seasons instead of breakfast in bed?

Second: in general, why haven't more people noticed that celebrating Mother's Day tends to be a giant pain in the ass for Mom, the nominal honoree?

At the restaurant (in Houston, where we went with my mother) the moms in the room were clearly not having a great time. The mom at the next table (with three boys all very close in age--two were apparently twins, yikes!) announced abruptly that lunch was OVER and left to get the car, leaving dad looking hapless and begging for the check. Another mom was lunching with her twentysomething kids, who all gave her crappy, unwieldy gifts (a bunch of flowers in cellophane, cut ends dripping; some oversized gift basket, etc) that she struggled to find room for on the table (plus her daughter was wearing an outfit more suited to the gym--bike shorts? Seriously? WTF?). And I was wrangling a cranky toddler (dressed in stained and mis-matched clothes, but nevertheless dressed, a big plus in these days of preferred nekkidness) who could NOT be persuaded to sit with Daddy long enough for me to eat in peace.

But worst of all was the guy who chewed out the hostess over the location of their table (in the corner! Horrors!) and made some snotty remarks at Eliot in an effort to pick a fight (and we all know the tone adopted for that purpose--it has no other use except to piss somebody off, which in this instance was me; I gave him the Motherly Stinkeye which backed him off a bit). I don't know if he was there with his wife or his mother (or both, but does any sane person dine out on Mother's Day otherwise?) but he was doing his best to be a dick and succeeding.

Third: Motherhood provides so many of these opportunities to step through the looking glass: on what's supposed to be Her Day, she ends up with more work and is more uncomfortable than on most days. The kiddos (and maybe the husband) will probably be on their worst behavior, unless they are cutely wreaking havoc.

Plus, there's just so many freaky moments that small children provide: like the time Dada was going poopy on the potty (hooray!) and demanded to sit on my lap. "Not til you're done, sweetie" followed by [sulk]. Dada pouring half a cup of coffee into the drawer where they keep the Gideon Bible in the hotel room.

And what is it about toddlers that they will occasionally give you this demonic grin, sraight out of The Omen?

Thank god for the Mimosa. Mmm...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Thoughts on Cuteness

It's like this: now that I've blogged obnoxiously about how cute my kid is, cuter than yours, I'll confess that I don't hold much esteem for cuteness as a character trait. It's inherently superficial even as it has the effect of leaving the observer limp with admiration, plus it's loaded with potential for manipulation.

But I'll admit this, my kid is also funny, which is different and way cool. Don't know how, but it is.

So I tend to say, yeah, I know, when somebody points out how cute my girl is, which risks coming off as smug. But I've made a point of learning to not care what people think, so I'll risk it. It's not like I made some genetic contribution to the cuteness or that I've been the Cuteness Coach over here.

Besides, I'm convinced that parents take way too much credit for what really amounts to their kids' essential nature. Some parents act like they get all the credit for how talented or charming their kids are but, seriously, we're like the manager of the basketball team: bring water and towels, cheer on the sidelines.

But the team metaphor has its limits, too, since we parents also seem to spend a lot of time waving around the rulebook.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

10 Reasons Why My Kid Is Cuter Than Yours

There, I said it: my little girl is cuter than everybody else's. Don't believe me? Then, let me marshall the facts:

1. I heard her giggling in the car and, there in the rearview mirror I saw that she was tickling her own feet.

2. Whenever she's calling her daddy and he doesn't respond, she tries a new approach: "Daddy? Daddy! DADDY! ELIOT!!!!" Yes, she yells at her father using his first name. It's the funniest thing ever.

3. Even in she's not getting her way, she's cute. When she's told something will happen "later" she nods thoughtfully, repeats "later" and then lists everything that will happen "later": playground, dogpark, chocolate [and so on].

The other day, she was bored so she picked up her tiny purse, put on a wrap (actually her sling that daddy carries her in) and opened the back door, headed out.

Me: "Where ya goin, sweetie?"

Cutest Toddler Ever: [Not looking back] "Dogpark"

4. She kisses her own owies and declares them "Much better." She does the same thing for Mom and Dad, sometimes inspecting us very closely until she finds something to fix.

5. During storms, she asks for "More thunder, please, daddy".

6. She blows raspberries on me and has since she was 14 months old.

7. We've played Bunny Attack with her favorite soft toy, Bunny. So she started playing with Bunny in the carseat, going Yaaa! Killer! while pretending to struggle with Bunny lunging at her throat.

8. This one comes from reading her alphabet book that has Q is for Queen.
Me: Dada, what does the Queen say?
Dada: He-leeew [waves like the Queen, fingers together, wrist rotating]

9. She gave nicknames to her grandparents, Boo to her grandma and Ba to grandpa.

10. Me: What does a pirate say?
Dada: ARRRR!!