Not ready for prime time

This past Friday morning, something happened that hadn’t before: Lily started throwing a fit just as we reached daycare.

She was riding on my shoulders, as she often does, and she’d been her usual chirpy self on the walk over. But just as we reached the sidewalk that leads to the entrance, she started pitching her body around and crying and saying “No, no, no.” I forged on, thinking maybe she’d snap out of it once we got in her room and she saw all her friends – but things only got worse. She fought being pulled off my shoulders, and tears and drool fell from her screaming, red face. 

Oh, boy.

Her caregivers shooed away the other kids, who were initially anxious and happy to see Lily, then curious about why she was screaming. But Lily wouldn’t calm down, not an inch, so I quickly ran through options in my head.

Since she hadn’t eaten anything yet (which is typical), and because we often have a snack break in front of the daycare center after they finally toss us out at the end of the day (see my “How Lily Became the Norm Peterson of Daycare” post), I said, “Do you want to go outside?”

“Yeah,” she uttered through sobs.

I carried her back outside, and though I initially tried to walk toward the area where we usually sit for our end-of-the-day snack, this set her wailing again. OK. It was time to improvise. Go a completely new direction.

“Do you want to go for a walk and get a muffin at the bakery?”

“Yeah,” she said between jagged breaths.

I scooped her onto my shoulders again, and we started walking around the nearby marketplace. And it was right about then that I remembered: I didn’t have my wallet on me. Because I’m on my own with Lily each morning, I just pull on comfortable clothes that are within reach when I hear her cry out or start singing (it’s always one or the other); on this morning, I’d pulled on a pair of yoga pants with no pockets, so all I had on me are keys.

Crap. I’d just promised my frantic child something I can’t deliver. Now what? Continue reading

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Yet another “online” update, Lily’s new trump card, and a new Sassy Gay Friend

Well, we now have four members in the “I’ve been inappropriately harassed by (X) via late-night Facebook chat” club.

Yet another man I went to college with contacted me – ironically, via FB chat – to tell me he had also recently had a weird exchange with said individual (I presume something like the naughty-wife-photo-exchange was suggested). My friend told me he de-friended the guy immediately because “it was just too weird,” and that he knew right away, when reading my blog, who I was speaking about. 

You mean I wasn’t this guy’s PRIMARY sex fantasy? Bummer. How personally shattering for me.

But all you other U-M grads of the early 90s, stay hopeful and be patient. He will get to you, I promise.

In other news, in one of those random moments of parenting improvisation, I showed Lily the video for Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” on my iPod while we were driving somewhere recently, since she was getting restless in her car seat. (At the time, you had to buy the video to get the song, so it’s one of two videos I own.) She was kind of fixated and watched it several times before we reached home.

Then, days later, she spots my iPod and says something I don’t initially recognize, than it hits me. “Did you say ‘Single Ladies’?” (It comes out of Lily’s mouth as, “sing-o YAdeez.) “Yeah.” “You want to see the single ladies dancing?” “Yeah.”

What can I tell you? She appears, at this point, to be in Kanye’s camp regarding her video tastes. And indeed, she’s requested to get a little Beyonce fix on my laptop a couple of mornings this week before heading to daycare.

I figure that I’ll try and get her hooked on Sassy Gay Friend next. (There’s a new one, by the way, fellow fans: Othello! Check it out below.)

Blog “Quickies”

– You always hear that kids often make you slow down the pace of your life – which is a pain when you’re on a tight schedule, of course, but it can have some lovely side-benefits – and we’re just getting to this phase now.

In the last couple of weeks, Lily has insisted that we listen and watch for birds; point at each plane that flies across the sky (“Where air-pane going?” she always asks, insisting to get on my shoulders so she can see them more closely); and stare at people working out on treadmills, ellipticals, and stationary bikes at the local gym; we just sat right down on the sidewalk while peering through the windows.

We also regularly perform “Ring Around the Rosie” in various restaurants in the area. No one tips, but that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

All of these things aren’t things I would do of my own accord, of course; but it’s nice to have a reason to watch the world with wonder, and in slow-motion, a little bit every day. This part, I like.

Until I really, really have to be somewhere.

– We’ve also arrived at a time when there are dependable lures that will distract Lily from doing, or wanting to do, something you desperately wish to avoid (completely stopping in the middle of the street, trying to venture into a neighbor’s garden, cracking open each CD we own and putting it in the stereo and then taking it out, etc.). Currently, the trump cards we have are smoothies; her cousin Abby; her grandparents, particularly “Ba-pa”; anyplace with slides; Gizmo, the one dog in the world she seems unafraid of and always wants to cross the street to pet (Gizmo belongs to a neighbor and is just aloof enough for Lily’s tastes); Michael, a boy two months older than her that lives on our street; a nearby restaurant named Cowley’s, where she LOVES the mac and cheese; and the library – though we’re there so often, they might start charging us rent soon, and Lily just expects to go all the time now.

What’s funny about the trump card system is that you find yourself holding onto it in reserve. As in, “Wow, I’d like to go inside instead of standing out in this cold, misty rain. But is this situation smoothie-worthy? Or will I need that sure-thing later in the day, when she’s making calls on my cell phone and trying to start my car?”

As a result, I get looser with the trumps each day as the hour gets later. Why not? There’s less to lose at that point.

“Online action” update

For those who read and enjoyed my “(Not remotely) hot online action” post, there’s some news.

One of my girlfriends from college recently called to tell me that she’d just had a very similar experience, with the exact same guy, and she felt extraordinarily creeped out.

I’d been hoping that my (admittedly kind of hilarious) late night Facebook-chat-gone-awry was a drunken, one-time miscalculation by this guy, but apparently, that’s not the case.

But there’s more. While I was at a wedding reception this past weekend, I was approached by a GUY I’d been friends with in college who had his own late-night Facebook chat story to tell.

No, he wasn’t propositioned, but as he explained to me, our mutual friend “had begun by asking, ‘How liberal are you?'” And in a moment of sublime misunderstanding that hilariously mirrored my own exchange, the wedding guest said that he responded by asking, “‘You mean politically?'” Hee-hee!

Of course, that’s not what the guy was asking about. No, he instead proposed exchanging naughty photos of each other’s wives. So that’s a nice change of pace.

The bizarre thing about all of this is that the three of us find ourselves in a weird, icky little club now, thanks to the fact that I decided to write about it. Otherwise, we likely never would have brought the subject up with each other. (I’ve always intended to keep the person’s identity a secret, but the dude is outing himself by virtue of desperately hitting on everyone I know, so it’s out of my hands at this point.)

So beware of late-night Facebook chat, people; and three cheers for having company while being kind of grossed out and unnerved by someone you thought was a harmless, normal person. Huzzah!

This sounds like a great argument – FOR ME TO POOP ON!

Tuesday evening last week – the first time Joe was able to eat bread in eight days because of Passover – we’d planned to go out to a new, local burger place near our house.

And unfortunately, due to my only having four hours of sleep under my belt (I had a rare, Monday night review to write the night before), my patience and temper were running short.

So during dinner, while Lily expressed no interest in the hummus or the chicken nuggets that came to our table, my fatigue kicked in and I got angry. (Ridiculously, though I normally sympathize because I was the pickiest of ALL picky eater kids, I initially wigged out that evening because I know Joe gets stressed out when Lily shows no interest in any food we put in front of her. Oh, the irony.)

My pissy mood was infectious, and Joe and I soon found ourselves in one of those tense, public moments – truly rare in our marriage, believe it or not, despite Joe’s great affection for arguing (for God’s sake, he pursued a career in it) – when you think, “Wait – we’re fighting? What are we fighting about? Who knows? But I’ll be DAMNED if I don’t respond and stand up for myself!”

In the midst all of this slightly hushed bickering, Lily kicked off her shoes and refused to put them back on, leading Joe to pick her up like a bale of hay – so she was horizontal, resting on one of his hips – and carry her outside the restaurant. Absorbing everything a little more slowly than I normally would, I signed for Joe’s credit card and gathered the styrofoam leftover boxes, red-faced and nervous (I’m not exactly a natural at confrontation, which is one reason these things happen rarely).

The barbs continued on the walk home until, after a moment of silent fuming, Joe said, in a more normal tone, “Um, it looks like our girl is REALLY poopy.” Continue reading

The annual Jewish eight-day Atkins diet and Easter flip-flops

In this hybrid world, where cultural distinctions and boundaries are increasingly blurred, Joe, who’s Jewish, and I, raised Methodist (but self-defined as agnostic, on a good day), are currently navigating the tricky questions that inevitably arise during religious holidays while raising a child.

Which is why, in the span of one week, Lily happily clapped along (in her high chair) with verse after verse of “Dayenu” during the Grekin family’s seder; and spotted a basket full of flip-flops (she’s kind of “into” shoes), markers, chocolate, and a stuffed bunny before finding fruit-snack-filled plastic eggs around our house.

She had a blast with all of it, of course. But Joe and I know that combining these traditions will likely get thornier as Lily grows older. 

Joe isn’t religious – obviously, or else he wouldn’t have married a shiksa – but his Jewish education and identity is important to him, and consequently, we decided to raise Lily Jewish, while also recognizing, in at least a modest, secular way, the holidays that I grew up with.

But what precisely does it mean to raise a child Jewish? Do we join a temple at some point and drag her to religious classes – which Joe hated himself as a kid, but now sees as providing an important foundation? Do we give her the option to instead read Jewish stories and histories with Joe and learn about her heritage that way? Do we, years down the road, enroll her in Hebrew classes in preparation for a bat mitzvah, or let her decide whether this is something she wants for herself as she gets older?

We’ve procrastinated on all this a bit, since the decisions aren’t immediately pressing, and Lily’s only a toddler. But with each passing holiday, it becomes more and more apparent that we have to make some choices.

For while I usually fast with Joe on Yom Kippur – fasting is Joe’s version of hell, so I try to keep him company and support him during those 24 hours – I haven’t ever, not once, tossed out the bread in the house and subsisted on matzoh, meat and salad for Passover’s eight days. Though also hard, Passover’s restrictions didn’t seem to me as brutal as Yom Kippur’s call for no food or water of any kind.

And since Lily is such a picky eater, who has a daily meal of mac and cheese (pasta’s a no-go for Passover, too), we didn’t even consider trying to hold her to these restrictions. But when we do, won’t I have to follow suit? Shouldn’t we all make this gesture as a family? Or do I simply play that role at home while eating whatever I want while at work?

The cookie-loving, baked-goods-addict in me screams, “The latter! The latter!” But I think I would feel pretty guilty about asking my daughter to do something I wasn’t willing to do myself. Continue reading