Friday, April 27, 2007

Disney Tat

Good news: the moustache eventually washed off. Now she's rocking the body art.

Orange Marker...

doesn't come off as easily as she'd thought. I snapped this picture right around the moment that my SweetBabyGirl realized that the orange moustache and beard she'd drawn on her face wasn't washing off as easily as she'd expected. Hee! Maternal revenge. I can't wait to show this picture to her first boyfriend.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

To Hell With Caitlin Flanagan... probably the title of a lot of reviews of her book, To Hell With All That, in which she tells us all about her inner housewife and blames feminism for screwing up the whole staying-home-with-the-kids thing because it made her, Caitlin Flanagan, an incompetent housekeeper.

The logic, as near as I can follow it is this: feminism devalued housewifely skills and mocked the role of housekeeper so smart girls (Ms. Flanagan included, naturally) didn't bother to learn how to run a household and, voila!, all the stay-at-home moms she knows have housekeepers and can barely manage to raise their kids, what with all the self-fulfilling bookclub crap and the driving the kids to karate class. It's kind of a classic essay in the Me And My Friends journalism and it even sucks by the standards of that crappy genre.

She also glorifies the pre-feminist generation of women as smart, busy women who volunteered (or even got jobs!) and didn't waste their time ferrying kids around to soccer practice in a golden age of safety and female omniscience. My parents' generation was human and to pretend that they had some special grasp of how to manage life is silly. Just because you don't know how to iron a shirt doesn't mean your generation sucks, it just means you need to ask somebody to show you how or if, god forbid, your circle of friends doesn't include any such person, read a freakin book already. And try to meet some new people, too, ok?

As for feminism, Caitlyn, read this essay and stop wasting your time.

I'm sick to death of the idea that feminism is responsible for everything that a certain class of affluent women don't like about their lives (or their friends' lives, since Flanagan makes it quite clear that her life is The Best Possible Life Ever, because she's not a feminist, and her smugness goes a long way toward making the book unreadable.)

Oh, and the Smug reached toxic levels in her essay about sex. Here's the logic: feminism taught women that they should regard sex as something to enjoy instead of a mere duty to perform for their husbands. Tired mothers (who exhaust themselves trying to achieve the feminist goal of being a perfectly nurturing mother) have no energy for sex, so feminism is to blame for an epidemic of women who don't have much sex.

I'm not going to waste much more time on this but there's a couple of obvious flaws here: first, the claim of an epidemic of sexless marriages is the product of more Me And My Friends journalism--Flanagan cites no real evidence that such a trend exists. (Besides, she's oblivious to the notion that the audience for that poorly-researched trend journalism is a class of overworked people who are getting less sex than they want and who are thrilled to read that somebody else is getting less.) Second, overachiever mothers aren't a product of feminism, they're a product of a social class that is hardly representative of the generation as a whole.

And that's the problem with Flanagan's book: she can't tell the difference between her own tiny, affluent slice of society and an entire generation. For heaven's sake, she had a full-time nanny--what she knows about the life of the average stay-at-home mom is miniscule at best.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Snuggly Hens

I took this blurry picture with my cameraphone because I just was so struck by the cute hens sitting side-by-side in the nesting box.

There was another perfectly good nesting box available with eggs already in it, but there's no accounting for what goes on in a chicken's tiny litle brain. Also, take a look at the bizarro expression in chickens' eyes. That's pretty much a typical chicken expression. Chickens have three moods: pleased, furious and terrified. And, briefly, confused, just before they settle on one of the principle three moods. Apparently, seeing the nesting box door opened, closed again, and then the appearance of the cameraphone was pretty confusing.

Naturally, the two birds settled on "furious."

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Without Losing My Mind

Not long ago, I emailed a friend who I'd lost touch with and confessed that I was a lousy friend because I just didn't seem to have the time or energy to keep up our usual correspondence. Regarding my SweetBabyGirl I confessed, "I am still just trying to keep up with her without losing my mind." She replied, "you don't ever get to keep up with your kids without losing your mind. It's a rule."

What a relief! Because at times, it's just so damn hard.

Yesterday my darling child bit me. Hadn't happened for more than a year. And I just don't get that she doesn't bite in anger, she bites when we're having a great time. We were playing and I'd flopped on my back, all, ooh, ya got me! and she piled on, giggling. We were both laughing and then OUCH! I sat up, gasping, and clutched the owie (didn't break the skin, but it was on tender spot, just above the right bra cup). We had this exchange:

POM: Auuugh! You bit me!
SBG: [giggles]
POM: What'd you do that for?!
SBG: [giggles]
POM: [recovering a little] Owie, now I'm sad. That hurt and now I'm sad.
SBG: [surprised] Don't be sad! People don't be sad!
POM: But it hurt! Were you mad at me?
SBG: [astonished] No! Don't be sad! You no be sad!
POM: But it hurt me.
SBG: [sobs brokenheartedly] Don't be sad! No! No sad!

So I comforted her and we agreed on a new rule: don't bite people.

Later that same afternoon, I was cooking and she came into the kitchen with a broom and pretended to sweep, then suddenly swung the thing around and knocked a pan lid off the counter, with a horrible crash. Scared the hell out of me, there was a pot of boiling water on the stove a foot away.

I screamed at her, then she cried and made me promise no screaming, and I agreed, except for emergencies.

I don't want to scream at my kid.

I find it incredibly painful when she cries because of anything I do, but letting that control how I act as a parent isn't going to work. She's not much of a crier and since I adopted her when she was a year old I missed out on the crying newborn stage, so I still get upset when she cries.

My mother-in-law observed (while were still in China) that I'm incredibly tenderhearted when it comes to that girl. I think she meant it as a compliment, and I took it as one. And I can't say that I want that to change.

It's such an obvious aspect of parenthood that loving your kid is a good start, but it's also essential that you find a way to do the right thing for your kid even though you're having some pretty damn powerful emotions of your own. A friend and I talked about this feat and call it "Sucking It Up." We both came from families where our parents seemed to be absolutely sure of what to do, confident and in control. I can recall a handful of times when one of my parents lost their shit completely and it was one of the most terrifying things I remember as a kid. Was it worse because they always insisted that they were right, that their behavior was justified? Probably.

One of my earliest memories is of my dad, normally a placid guy, screaming at me on the front steps of our church, where he'd taken me during the Sunday service. He was mad because I was crying in church. I vividly remember thinking, I can't stop crying as long as he's screaming at me. Isn't that obvious to him? Is my dad crazy?

No wonder I scare myself when I scream at my kid.

God, it's hard. Makes me feel like I'm losing my mind. I do know this much, though: if you still possess the ability to question your own sanity, you're on the plus side, sanity-wise. It's when you think you're absolutely right that you tend to run into trouble.