Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Nag

Throughout my life I've seen depictions of the nagging wife. 

And I have to say I didn't really get it.

As a single person, it was beyond my comprehension why anyone would ever scream at a person they were supposed to love over needless minutiae. 

Then I got married...

...and I started to understand.

There's a picture that has been going around Facebook for the last couple of weeks that sums up the epidemic of nagging so perfectly:

What I didn't understand as a single person is that of course I didn't need to nag my boyfriends. Because they were BOYFRIENDS. Their role in my life was quite simple:
  • Take me out for fun dates
  • Listen to my tearful and lengthy thoughts about my feelings
  • Make out with me
Before getting married I kind of assumed that my relationship with my husband would just be a lifelong version of the above.

This was wrong.

Having a husband is not like having a boyfriend. It is more like trying to run a major corporation of which the two of you are the sole employees toiling under a team of unrelenting maniacs who are all under three feet tall.

The reality for me is that maintaing a home with three small children takes an enormous amount of work. And doing that work takes two people. And sometimes I think of the entire proposition as involving:

Employee Number One: ME
Employee Number Two: That guy who needs to be constantly REMINDED TO FIX THE #(*$& TOILET FOR THE FOUR HUNDREDTH TIME!!!

I'm sorry, what was I saying?

The nagging, it kind of sneaks up on you. I am generally a fairly reasonable lady, but now and then I suddenly find myself overtaken by an overwhelming certainty that my husband cannot function without my constant and highly detailed direction. 

Even in my more rational moments it seems that getting things accomplished in the house can involve a choice between:

a. Nagging


b. Setting traps

Let's say you ask your husband to, I don't know, say FIX THE #(*$&; TOILET SEAT, to pick a completely random example.

The next step is, with 100% certainty, that your husband will forget this request approximately ten seconds later.

You accept this.

Which means you now you have two choices:

a. Gently remind husband of the task you wish him to complete


b. Wait and then become enraged when he does nothing

There is no happiness down path number B! We've already established that he's not going to do it! He hasn't thought about it once since you first mentioned it! He may well remember the number of his favorite NFL player's high school jersey, but he DOES NOT remember the thing you asked him to do. I promise.

So you remind him.

And then nothing happens.

At which point you have two choices:

a. Gently remind him


b. Wait and then become slightly more enraged when he does nothing

Except for it is almost impossible to gently remind someone of something the second time. So your tone tends to change a little bit. It gets just a little, you know, EDGY.

So you remind him a bit less gently. He smacks himself in the head. He completely forgot. He'll get on it right away. THIS IS NOT TRUE. He will not, in fact, get on it right away. Instead he will attempt to remember where the current center for the L.A. Clippers went to school, thus forever wiping any remnant of your request from his brain.

At which point you have two choices.

a. Remind him with great aggravation 


b. Wait and then become enraged when he doesn't do it

You'll choose option number A and you'll officially be welcomed into the wonderful world of NAGGING.

It's like an insane inter-sexes trap that it is almost impossible to avoid. I'm telling you people, it's hard not to nag. So for now, I'm merely trying to limit the number of items I choose to bother my beloved about.

Yes, I need him to fix the toilet, but I probably don't need to remind him every 65 seconds to bring the leftovers to the office tomorrow. I can just hand them to him on his way out the door, or I could even imagine the possibility that even if he forgets, my almost 40-year-old husband will be able to figure out a way to feed himself as men have been doing for thousands of years.

This food will eventually, I can only hope, give him enough energy to remember to fix the toilet.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Billboard Jungle

My children are becoming increasingly aware of the world around them...

...which has caused me to become increasingly aware that the world around them is positively littered with UNBELIEVABLY HORRIBLE AND DISTURBING IMAGERY.

On Sunday I was watching some football with my 4-year-old and attempting to impart to him the finer points of the game along with  the recurring life-lesson that Daddy's team is THE WORST

Throughout the morning CBS was running promos for "Criminal Minds" on heavy rotation, and my husband and I realized that we'd be watching the games on DVR-delay from now so that we could skip commercials rather than having to explain to the kids in-between snaps why "those ladies are always being hog-tied and menaced by a series of knife-wielding maniacs". 

I find myself constantly attempting to translate this world of adult images to my children in language they might possibly understand. As we drive around our urban Los Angeles neighborhood, my kids delight in finding new things for me to notice and explain!

There's a cat!

It's a BIG blue garbage truck!

Look!!! A blimp!

Mommy - what's that?

Well, let's see. I mean, it's a giant billboard featuring a young blond girl dragging her hand along the wall creating an immense blood trail. But wait! There's more! The gory drippings reveal a demonic face as they make their grizzly way towards the floor. 

Me: WOW! She sure is making big mess!

Child #1: Is that chocolate?

Me: Yes! Yes it is.

Child #2: Yeah! Chocolate!

Look at the cool balloons outside that store!

A firetruck! A firetruck!

Mommy, what's that?

Hmmm, well guys, that seems to be an enormous picture of a Nun bleeding what appears to be some sort of bubonic plague-based goo from both of  her eyeballs.

Child #1: She's crying!

Me: You're right. She's crying!

Child #2: Why? 

Me: Because she's sad.

Child #1: Why is it black?

Me: Because she is extra sad.

Child #1: Why?

Me: Because she lost her dog.

Child #2: That IS sad.

Look at that fast ambulance!

There's a doggie in that car!

What's that?

ME: a butt.

Child #1 and Child #2: Laughing all the way home while yelling "Butt!" over and over and over.

Rather than going all One Million Moms on the subject, I'm trying to just kind of put all the stuff we encounter in some sort of understandable context on a case by case basis. 

Mommy, what's that?

And then every once in a while, when explaining just isn't really  an option, we just change the route we take home from school until the posters change again.

Cause I mean really - what the hell is that?

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Toddler Justice

I have a four-year-old and a two-year-old, which means that the fighting in my house is pretty much NON-STOP.

A train with one wheel left? My kids will roll about the floor in an epic battle of wills to secure dominion over it. 

Buzz Lightyear doll missing an arm? Suddenly represents the fulfillment of one boy's every desire the instant his brother touches it.

Broken Peach Crayon? IT'S MINE!!! I HAD IT FIRST!!! Allow me to attempt to rip your ear off to convey the depth of my conviction!

I tell you, folks, feral animals fighting over a carcass in the street could teach these kids a thing or two about decorum. I've come to accept that the dynamic is not changing anytime soon, so now I'm just trying to define my role in the arena.

My four-year-old obviously has a size advantage over his younger brother, so my initial instinct when the perma-fighting began was to intervene in order to protect the two-year-old from his older bro.

I'd watch the four-year-old just saunter over and flat out MUG his little brother for the race car he'd been playing with and I would rush to get involved.

"Hey! Give that back! Your brother was playing with it!"

Brother #1 would then reluctantly hand said car back to Brother #2. Perhaps a coerced apology would be issued. Peace would be restored for exactly FOUR POINT EIGHT seconds.

At which point Brother #2 decides to put the race car down. Then Brother #1 picks it up, thus breaking Brother #2's heart and resulting in frenzied and high pitched cries of:

"MINE!!!!! MINE!!!!!! MINE!!!!!!"

At which point I am rendered utterly confused. I mean, whose #*&;^$@ turn is it now??? I'd carefully established that it was Brother #2's turn. But then when he decided to put it down, I have to think that some sort of abandoned property statute would have come into play. Right? I don't know -- by now both children are shrieking so loudly that I'm having trouble forming thoughts.

I've entered the murky world of TODDLER JUSTICE.

It all goes wrong so quickly. 

Let's say I decide that Brother #1 should have a 5-minute turn and then it will be the Brother #2's turn. 2 minutes and thirty five seconds into his turn, Brother #1 abandons the toy and Brother #2 claims it. Now begins the 5 minute turn of Brother #2, right? Except then he puts it down 3 minutes in. HOW MUCH TIME IS LEFT ON THE CLOCK?

I spent several weeks lost in the morass of it all - grabbing toys away and redistributing them with a great sense of fairness only to end up with everyone in the room furious at me.

I was beaten.

So I've learned for the most part to leave the boys to their own devices. Sure the older one is bigger, but the younger one is wiley and is not afraid to use "the world's most annoying scream"TM to his advantage. So really, it's a pretty fair fight. 

Any form of violence is shut down and appropriate time outs are issued, but otherwise I'm retired from the toddler justice business.

For good.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Evolution of a Costume

Halloween at our house starts rolling on September 26th. 

Snood's birthday is the 25th, and as soon as all the birthday-related merriment has concluded we move directly into full-time SPOOKY mode. I pull out the cobweb table runner and the oversized decorative pumpkin, I hit Trader Joe's for a bunch of mini gourd-type items, and I hang our paper skeleton "Seymour Bones" jauntily from the front door.

Then it is time to start talking costumes.

When I was little, my mom was the queen of Halloween costumes. She would start taking orders in late August; then for the next two months the sewing machine would be rockin'. The resulting costumes were nothing short of extraordinary. She made a clown outfit for my brother with giant foam shoes and a red mop wig. She crafted a Statue of Liberty costume for me in the third grade using half a dozen hand-dyed sheets. She transformed my sister into Wonder Woman complete with golden lasso and bulletproof cuffs.

The woman was an artist.

For my part, I have long since decided that I will not be following in my mother's footsteps. And not only am I not  making lovingly hand-sewn costumes, I am taking things a step further and actively steering my children towards choosing costumes that are as easy as humanly possible to get my hands on.

Snood's first idea for Halloween was Max from "Where the Wild Things Are". While I applauded the literary aspect of the choice, I quickly realized that "Pottery Barn Kids" had seemingly secured the exclusive rights to sell Wild Thing costumes. Rather than drop close to a week's salary on three costumes I instead began actively trying to steer Snood towards an alternate choice.

"How about a race car driver?"

"NO! I like Max."

"How about a Police Officer?"

"I like 'Where the Wild Things Are'!"

I continued to make desperate counteroffers, all of which were rejected with extreme prejudice. But then one day in mid-October, completely out of the blue, Snoodie had a change of heart.

"Mommy, for Halloween I want to be Strawberry Shortcake!" 

He had it all figured out. His brother could be "Cupcake the Dog" and the baby could be Strawberry Shortcake's infant sister "Apple Dumpling".

I was significantly less worried about the weird looks I'd get at the Halloween parade than I was about trying to figure out how the hell to make that crazy hat. 

Still, I thought with a red wig, some jeans, and a striped T-shirt I could probably pull it off. Then a dog costume could be ordered, and the baby -- well, she was already a baby, so done. I was semi on-board.

Then one night in the bathtub, after a night of watching fire truck videos, Snoodie suddenly announced, 

"Maybe I'll be a firefighter for Halloween."


I was ALL OVER it. I hit up, and soon two Fire Chief costumes were speeding towards my house. My sister came up with the genius idea of making the baby their trusty dalmatian, and I knew with joy in my heart that Halloween was DONE DONE DONE!

Days later three large plastic packs of costume-y goodness arrived and we were insta-ready for the big day.

We happily counted down to Halloween. I even channeled my mother a bit and made hand-crafted ID tags complete with photos for the boys' firemen outfits. I felt great. We were all-set for a night of super-fun Trick-or-Treating merriment!

But first I had to record the wonder of my children's outfits with the perfect all-child portrait...

Which made me extra-glad I hadn't spent several weeks bent over a sewing machine. The above photo is the best one we got.

Better luck next year.