Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Reason #28 Why Charlotte is Like a Kitty Cat

What is it with her and bathrooms, anyway?


Monday, August 29, 2005

Dirty Girl!

Today as I was typing something on the hyper-global-inter-web, it grew strangely quiet for 2 seconds...

Then there was faint splashing down the hall.

I found Lula happily splishing, elbow-deep, in the toilet.

Do you know what we do when we find the baby elbow-deep in the toilet?

We put the baby in the laundry, that's what!

Guilty Grudge

Today was Simon's first day of 4 yr old preschool. While waiting in line for the throat check, I was chatting with one of the other moms from last year, who had transferred her 3 yr old back into this school because a week ago, at his new private Christian school, the teacher had hit his hand with a ruler (old skool cruelty lives, people!) and forced him to sit at the snack table without a snack, watching the other 3 year olds eat theirs. When asked for an explanation of why he deserved this punishment, her only response, repeated several times, was that "Boys generally have behavior problems." Ludicrous for many reasons, not the least of which is that this particular little boy is MISTER SHY. Anyway, the mom promptly yanked her kids, and brought them back to our tame little school.

This brought up a particularly painful guilty grudge that I live with every day.

Back when Ethan (who is now 10 3/4) was a baby and toddler, when I was working full-time, a sitter watched him in her home, along with her own 2 kids and a couple of others. She seemed pretty unobjectionable to me. I gradually became aware, however, that her own son, the oldest of all the children at 4/5 or so, was a bit of an obnoxious, rowdy kid, and Ethan didn't like him.

Ethan has always been a very calm, zen, quiet, well-behaved, polite, untroubling sort of child. Almost to a fault. As in he was sort of an unmoving blob as a baby, quite content to sit in one place and stare at the wheels of a car on the floor for hours at a time. Because he didn't cause a ruckus about going to this sitter's home, my maternal radar was bleeping along without alarm bells going off. He didn't like the kid, but it wasn't enough for him to throw screaming fits, so I just chalked it up to life lessons (we all have to learn to get along with obnoxious, rowdy people) and didn't worry about it.

Even when the sitter every once in a while would point out thumb-shaped bruises on his chest, arm, or back that I hadn't noticed, and carefully suggest to me that perhaps his father (from whom I was divorced after a drama-filled cheat on me with his best friend's girlfriend scenario) was being a bit rough with him. I didn't question this.

Until one Christmas break when I went to pick him up and she told me she had bitten him.


In a completely matter-of-fact manner, she explained that he had bitten her son (he had never bitten ANYONE, or even acted up in any fashion EVER) and that as a punishment, so that he would know what it felt like, she had bitten him. She explained that her mother had done this to her. And I was aware that there are people who do this.

So I took him home, and at bedtime that evening, when I pulled off his shirt, there on his upper arm was a full, round, adult human tooth impression bite mark. Like, every tooth was chillingly represented. Her whole freaking mouth wrapped around my toddler's arm, up to the wisdom teeth. I never took him back.

But I never went off on her either. In fact, because she had sent Christmas presents home with all the kids she cared for, I freaking drove back to her house over the holiday to drop off a present I bought for her horrible kids. I GAVE THEM A PRESENT, PEOPLE! I was so damn inexperienced as a mother, and so unsure of my own instincts, and so unable to yell at people who deserved it, and to express outrage, that I simply told her some lie to explain why he wouldn't be coming back, and smilingly handed her the present. All the while, thinking to myself that some people do this, and to them it is ok. I didn't agree with it, but some normal people do this biting their kids thing, and while there was no harm done, it bothered me just enough to put him into institutional daycare where I could be sure my discipline methods jived with the accredited caregivers'.

It gives me chills to think about this.

And you can be sure I have an internal script I've rehearsed 4,000,000 times that I will unleash on this woman (Nora) if I ever run across her again. Over the years, as I've grown up and become more sure of myself as a parent, I've rehashed this so many times. I can't BELIEVE I reacted the way I did. I can't believe this woman convinced me Ethan's dad was manhandling him, when he'd never had a bruise before this time, and certainly hasn't had any since. Geoff loves his kid, and has always been affectionate and tender and kind to him. I'm so ashamed.

I contemplate driving by her house to unleash the script. To this day. I think about calling up her husband and telling him what a ghastly human being he's married. I wish I could see her with her atrocious kid, and my beautiful, French-speaking, smart, compassionate boy would be with me, and she would be forced to acknowledge how superior my own son is. (I think she always knew this, and that's why she hated him. Because seriously? Ethan has never caused any trouble for ANYONE. He has never had behavior problems of any sort. And he was luminous as an angel. While her spawn was ugly, inside and out. HA!)

My ears burn as I write this, with shame and guilt and impotent rage.

Thank god I at least had enough sense to pull him out of there. But this incident has just about EVERYTHING to do with why I would rather be dirt poor with 1 bathroom for 5 people than work full-time and send my other 2 children to daycare.

Trust your instincts, people. Don't end up like me, bearing this sort of guilty grudge forever.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Molly Peacock. Soulmate.

As I wrote my syllabus for the poetry class I'll be teaching beginning tomorrow, I ran across the following Molly Peacock poems that seem appropriate for this site:

“How I Come to You”

Even a rock
has insides.
Smash one and see
how the shock

reveals the rough
dismantled gut
of a thing once dense.
Making the cut

into yourself,
maybe you hoped
for rock solid through.
That hope I hoped,

too. Dashed
on my rocks was my wish
of what I was. Angry,
dense and mulish,

I smashed myself
and found my heart
a cave, ready to be
lived in. A start,

veined, unmined.
This is how I come to you:
not what I knew.

“Anger Sweetened”

What we don’t forget is what we don’t say.
I mourn the leaps of anger covered
by quizzical looks, grasshoppers covered
by coagulating chocolate. Each word,
like a leggy thing that would have sprung away,
we caught and candified so it would stay
spindly and alarmed, poised in our presence,
dead, but in the shape of its old essence.
We must eat them now. We must eat the words
we should have let go but preserved, thinking
to hide them. They were as small as insects blinking
in our hands, but now they are stiff and shirred
with sweet to twice their size, so what we gagged
will gag us now that we are so enraged.

Peacock, Molly. Take Heart. New York: Vintage Books, 1989.

She just slays me.

Warm Fuzzies


Miss Charlotte calls me Mama. This is actually day three of said genius-level activity on the part of my 10 month old. I waited three days just to be sure it was real.

Mama. Her first word.


Ethan's first word: car. Second word: wheel. THIRD word: mama.

Simon's first word: DADA(!). Second word: no. Third word: mama. Sigh.

Little Lottie Lula: MAMA! MAMA! MAMA!!!

I feel like I've won something.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Banana Fana Fo Feth

There are no good nicknames for Beth.

I'm either:

1) retarded Rosie O'Donnell with a bad perm, digging on mass transportation
2) forlorn, neglected addressee of famous Kiss ballad, whose calls go unanswered
3) Manly's (Almonzo/Zaldamo) pet name for his beloved, ferret-faced Laura Ingalls Wilder
4) rhymed with Death, which was fine and dandy when I was working the full-on Goth incarnation, but now not quite right

I'm sure there are other, equally uninspiring occurrences. Beth. Nothing rhymes with it. It's kind of mousy and plain. Not fabulous at all.

Of course, my full name is Frances Elizabeth. I had thought to explore the full potential in 1986 when I told new people that my name was Frankie. The suggestion to everyone who had already known me my whole life that they suddenly refer to me as 1/4 of a popular pop band of the day, coupled with my impressively massive and sculptured hairdo, was met with eye rolls aplenty.

Fran? Again, plain. Frannie? Character on "As the World Turns" at the time. (Played by Julianne Moore, pre-fame.) Elizabeth? Too formal. Liz? Too adult. Lizzie? Too ugly-girl sounding.

To this day I am still waiting for someone, anyone, to nickname me something funny and catchy and adorable. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 17, 2005


Who I Want To Be:
A chignon-wearing, icy, snooty, drily and cuttingly hilarious, razor-thin, look down her nose at the pitiful morons who've had the audacity to try to hurt her sort of woman. She smokes cigarettes in a long holder and is totally unflappable, patiently and elegantly waiting for the losers to stop spazzing around with their idiocy, and she doesn't get hurt because how could those ridiculous, ghastly cretins possibly even be important enough to merit her notice. You know the type. Like Auntie Mame's (Rosalind Russell ROCKS!) best friend, but without the drunkenness. She's usually best friends with the protagonist, and they laugh together at all the poor capering louts all around them. She doesn't need anybody. She's cool.

Who I Am:
Someone who cares WAY. TOO. MUCH. what other people think. Someone who gets duped over and over again by cheaters and fake friends. Someone who can't get over being lied to and lied about and underestimated and overlooked and laughed at and fooled and used and left. Someone who keeps falling deeply in friendship and love with new people time after time in spite of this pattern. Someone who consistently gives more than she gets. Someone who really needs to be protected, defended, and loved.

Only part of the problem. Trust me. But it's really nice to admit that. I can't wait to start telling my stories. It's going to be really therapeutic, I can tell.

Charlotte on our first day at Disney World. Every bit of her personality is just shining through in this picture. And I love how her pigtails look like Minnie ears. She is just too too funny for words! Posted by Picasa

Simon on his birthday. In his favorite skater boy shoes. In Charlotte's purple room. Looking winsome. Posted by Picasa

Gorgeous Ethan holding onto his sister at the Indianapolis Children's Museum. He's such a sweet big brother.  Posted by Picasa

At the Ben Folds/Rufus Wainwright concert at White River Gardens back in 2004 when I was hugely prenant with Charlotte. I love this picture because we look happy. And Andy looks really cute. Posted by Picasa

C'est moi. Posted by Picasa