We Probably Won’t Be Invited to Any Other Parties

Samara has one friend. It’s not that she’s a bitch, but things get busy. She’s not in school, so it is up to me to make plans and, frankly, I suck at it.

Last weekend, her one and only friend Zach turned one. Zach is an adorable kid just her age who lives close by and whose mom, like me, enjoys both Starbucks and not being batshit crazy. All I had to do to prep for this party was buy a gift and show up. I was determined to get everything done early on so that I wouldn’t be scrambling last minute as usual. So on Tuesday, I ordered a gift from Amazon (via Prime, obviously) and on Thursday I bought a card. I was a solid two days ahead of schedule in nailing this! Except no. I did an awful job.

First the gift. I got Zach a small wooden house with a shape matcher. Samara has a similar one and loves it. The first thing I noticed was the clear indication that this toy was for a child 18+ months. Oops. Good job bringing an inappropriately aged toy to a party – hopefully he doesn’t choke.

18+ Months. Clear as day.

18+ Months. Clear as day.

Then, the card. I had picked up the card on my lunch break and had chosen from the limited selection of Happy Birthday to a One-Year-Old cards. Thinking there isn’t much to write on the inside of a card for someone who can’t read and will probably just chew on it anyways, I picked the most colorful option:

First birthday card

Cute right? No. All is fine until you actually open the card. This card is obviously for family to give to a one-year-old. Not a baby you’ve just met at the local bookstore. I was going to come off as creepy as hell.

This is definitely a creepy card for us to give.

This is definitely a creepy card for us to give.

I hope Zach can forgive me for all of these shortcomings. I suspect he will. Mostly because I also got him his first taste of Victoria’s Secret. That’s right. Turns out I didn’t have any tissue paper so I had to use red and pink sheets from my recent bra purchase. You’re welcome, Zach!

Victorias Secret Baby Gift

And that is totally how you nail the gift for a one-year-old’s birthday party. Ta-dah!

Tutoring Your Gifted 5 Year-Old

I subscribe to a Yahoo! parenting group for our particular neighborhood in Queens. Despite my initial hesitation to be one of those people in a parenting group, you must understand that receiving a daily email that takes me about 10 seconds to scan isn’t really belonging to a parenting group per se. So there. Stop judging me.

99% of the time, I read the email and hit delete. This post, however, created such a ball of sheer terror in my stomach that I had to forward it to my husband and insist that we move WELL BEFORE Samara turns 5.

ImageOH MY GOD, YOU GUYS!?!?!

I had a few things run through my mind here. My first response was that of mocking:

  • OH REALLY you think your 5 year old is gifted and talented? I doubt it. Mostly because of my next point…
  • If your 5 year-old is so gifted and talented, why does he need a tutor?

Then I moved onto sheer terror:

  • There is an actual test that will tell you if a 5 year old is gifted and talented.
  • There are actual PREP SCHOOLS for 5 year-olds.
  • Such prep-schools exist to prepare gifted and talented kids for a test to see just how gifted and talented they are.

Sometimes when I’m playing with Samara, I stare down at her and say something to my husband like, “Wouldn’t it be crazy if she were, like, a classical piano prodigy?”. Then we all have a good laugh as she tries to eat the sofa.

I mean, I am sure that Samara is gifted and talented. Please put her name on the waiting list for one of these prep schools because honestly, I need more crap to worry about.

But seriously, is this not the most insane thing you’ve ever heard? Please reassure me that I’m still a reasonable human being with equally reasonable expectations for small children.

Why You Should Take Your Infant Trick-or-Treating

So far motherhood has been a completely thankless job. Not that I am keeping track, but Samara has yet to personally thank me for the following:

  • Use of my body to both MAKE HER DAMN SELF and provide food.
  • Failure to sleep for 5 months.
  • Failure to sleep past 6:45am for her entire life.
  • Lack of knowledge about weekends.
  • Not being able to babysit herself so that Dave and I can enjoy a damn night out.

There are more items, but like I said, I’m not keeping track. I suspect Dave hasn’t been personally thanked for any of his contributions either.

But there is one night were the tables are turned. One night where I can take complete advantage of Samara and GET. MY. PAYBACK.

Halloween.

Samara can’t eat candy, but I can. And I can’t go trick-or-treating, but Samara can. And such begins the parasitic relationship of Samara getting all the candy and Dave and I eating it after she goes to bed. Enter cute costume sure to please all!

baby sushi costume halloween

Shrimp sushi. Ginger leggings, wasabi hat.

The first house was a complete failure. The lady gave us a handful of dimes. Who gives a baby a bunch of coins? I haven’t been trick-or-treating in a good 15-17 years, but back when I was banging this sort of behavior would not be acceptable.

She even has a pumpkin out front that implies she knows what this holiday is!

She even has a pumpkin out front that implies she knows what this holiday is! I’m smiling because I think that maybe she might have KitKat bars.

Things could only get better. Residents would hold our a bowl of candy and suggest Samara take her pick. Of course she had no idea what to do, so I would make make comments like, “Oh maybe she can try a KitKat?” or, “I think she’d enjoy a York Peppermint Patty!”.  Suckers.

None of this is for her! It's all for us!

None of this is for her! It’s all for us!

In the end, we did allow her to try 1/32nd of a York Peppermint Patty. As for the rest, Samara was out like a light at 7:30pm and we feasted on the bounty. Payback tasted so, so sweet.

The one sweet taste of candy.

The one sweet taste of candy.

I Don’t Know How to Talk to Kids

Despite working in a daycare when I was 15 years old, I feel like I haven’t spent too much time around kids. Probably because that was an absolute shit job and I try to block it from memory. Up until now, this hasn’t affected my day-to-day life. Kids and I have coexisted but our paths never really crossed. But like I said, up until now. Our apartment building is rife with kids and four days per week I also find myself pushing lil Samara to one of NYC’s finest playgrounds.  Really, no sarcasm there – NYC has GREAT playgrounds.  The main issue is that we see other kids there.

We are going to mess up your day. And your kid's day.

We are going to mess up your day. And your kid’s day.

I generally have no idea what to say to these children when I see them. Should I be asking them their name or is that creepy? What sorts of follow up questions are appropriate? What is upsetting to a child and his/her parent? I have zero – ZERO – clue. Generally this isn’t an issue because kids in NYC tend to be as aloof and cool as their parents/nanny, so they don’t talk to me. But sometimes they pull me into a conversation and I TRY, really I do! But usually it ends with me upsetting both the kid and the parent.

Case Study 1:

I get on elevator up to our apartment.  Little boy with mother is also in elevator with their tiny dog.  I’m pushing a stroller with an adorable baby inside, so of course mother asks, “How old is she?”.  I respond and counter with (like I care), “How old are you????” directed, of course, at the little boy. “Four.” Ok fine. I should have quit there. “Is that your dog? How old is your dog?” “Five.”  Ok, generally going smoothly here.  Why not mess it up?

“Wow, so your tiny dog is older than you?!”  Tears.  Instant tears.  “MOMMY WHY IS THE DOG OLDER THAN ME???!!!!”.

“Ok, well this is my floor – BYE.”

I’m not quite sure what to take from this.  Being a math person, I have only pointed out the obvious here.  5 > 4.  What’s the big deal?  I make a mental note not to point out obvious things to four year olds because they are very fragile.

Case Study 2:

We are in the playground.

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Samara loves the swings and also loves to just stare like a creeper at every parent and kid there. She can’t take her eyes off of this little boy and his dad.  Dad, btw, is going for Parent of the Year.  He’s up the slide, he’s down the slide, everything is SUPERFUN! and he’s narrating a mile a minute.

“Now we’re going down the slide! Now we are getting a sip of juice! Now you’re looking at a leaf! Now you are running away!” I’m exhausted. Samara is enthralled. We sit and watch the show. Finally the little boy comes over to her and grabs her Elmo doll away.  She doesn’t cry, just continues to stare.  Dad rushes over.

“He loves Elmo!!”

“So then he can probably just play with his own Elmo right?” No, wait, I don’t say that. “Oh, really? Fun. Can she have that back? We have to go.” Nothing.  Little boy starts to walk away. Ugh. I manage to say, “Cute, how old is he?” This is pretty much the “It sure is nice weather we’re having!!” of parenting conversation. All I talk about is how old kids are. It’s the worst. “He’s two and a half.” Ok then. I’m pretty sure this is old enough to take some sort of direction, but I also understand that kids want toys, especially toys that don’t belong to them.  Dad and I chit chat for a few minutes, mostly about how old our kids are and how this boy can’t say his name yet and just calls himself “Buddy” which is actually kinda cute. But still, I’d like to go now please.

“Can she have her Elmo back, please? She likes to chew on it because it makes her teeth feel good. She needs it because this particular Elmo doll is for babies. See his big plastic hands?”

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Happy baby with her Elmo doll.  Let’s try to recreate this by giving her back her toy, mkay?

“DON’T TELL HIM THAT HE’S TOO BIG FOR ELMO!!!!!”  Oooooooook then! Pyscho. I was trying to make him notice that he’s holding a goddamn Elmo teether hostage. I try to explain myself. “I was just making him feel big.” “Well, you don’t say that to little kids.”  Noted. Make kids feel like babies. Got it. Dad stares at me like I’ve just offered his kid candy while hanging out of an unmarked van.

So these are my epic encounters with other kids and their parents. Also worthy of note is that Samara has no friends. Zero. She plays only with adults. Soon maybe she’ll meet some cousins, but until then, I don’t think I can handle more of these kids and their parents.

Dumb Blog Posts that Hurt Our Self Esteem

When I saw the following blog post pinned CONSTANTLY on Pinterest, I rolled my eyes so much that I literally fell out of my chair.  And by literally, I of course mean “figuratively”…which is the new definition of “literally”.  God, I hate the Internet.

Here is the offending piece.  I’m leaving the URL in-tact here so that you can see the subject.  It is “how to make childhood fun”:  http://www.allparenting.com/my-family/articles/968877/how-to-make-childhood-fun

It’s so smug that I can hardly stand it.  While I never pick these posts apart (on paper, anyways), I thought I’d give it a try here.  See, one sentence in particular really got to me:

“Here are some of our favorite ideas for adding a little more magic to childhood — or “gettin’ Peter Pan up in here!” as we like to call it in our home.”

Again, falling off the chair.  But let’s put the eye roll on the back burner here and get at what the author is trying to say (by the way, she looks lovely and very put together in her post, so I hate her).

I have two main points here.

1.  This is misdirected effort.

2.  Don’t be the only reason your kids have a magical childhood.

Childhood is the most fun ever.  Or it should be.  Unless you’re some asshole who is abusing his or her kids, childhood is going to be the best.  Sure, I remember being frustrated that I couldn’t earn money, but I doubt this article is going to tell me to sign my kid up for assembling iPhones in China (…too soon?).

baby with gopro on head

Childhood magic wasn’t about rituals like dusting my pillow with “Sweet Dream Magic Pillow Dust” (yes, this is from the article).  Maybe it would have been if my parents did such a thing, but instead I remember my father coming home after a 12-hour workday and reading to me.  I remember him falling asleep while doing so and I remember jabbing him in the ribs so that he could finish the story.  This is my earliest memory.  It had nothing to do with anything I’d see pinned to a Pinterest board nowadays.  The special ingredient, you see, was time.  Spending time with your kids seems to be the most important and magical thing you can do.

As for the other suggestions…well, I was a pretty creative kid and honestly I did most of this crap on my own.  Make a cooking show?  We didn’t have a video recorder, but I started a business at the age of 6 selling frozen orange juice in front of my house.  It was a precursor to my friendship bracelet making endeavor of 4th grade.  Have a spa night?  Please.  I didn’t need any formal invitation to play with my mother’s makeup and lotions.  Kids these days…let’s just let them be creative m’kay?  Not everything is such a structured photo-op (again, Pinterest, you whore, I’m looking at you).

I realize my baby girl is only 6 months old, so this author is probably rolling her own eyes at my naivete.  Also she got linked by the Huffington Post, and yesterday I had 2 people stop at my blog.  And maybe by the time Samara is 6, I’ll be googling “how can I make my kids childhood better????”  Or maybe I’ll just be outside playing with her.

baby on swing

Oh the Unsanitary Places You’ll Go

Baby’s first subway ride!  Samara’s done other trains before (including a transcontinental trip from NYC to Vancouver) but this was her first time on the filthy, cramped subway in NYC.  We had places to go and masseuses to see.  Priorities people!

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She already has the glazed over look of a true New York commuter. Or she knows I’m the one getting a massage, not her.

You see, Dave was given a gift card to a ridiculously expensive hotel…we would never ever use it. BUT, said hotel has a spa!  Given the gift was for $150, you would THINK that would cover a 60 minute massage.  But no.  I still had to cough up an additional $80 (which, mind you, is the grand total for what a massage should cost).  It was a pretty good experience and totally worth schlepping into the city during rush hour with a stroller. I scored some free ginger and dates after the treatment too, and stood there downing the free spa tea to really get my money’s worth.  I think I was still a good 20 lbs of dried fruit away from breaking even.

All was not bad for Samara, however.  We’ve done a pretty good job of ensuring that she is a flexible baby who is capable of napping in strange environments at (sometimes) times that are slightly off from her normal nap schedule.  Today she slept in Dave’s office and woke up happy and ready to socialize with the coworkers.

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Her stuffed Elmo might need some shots after being dropped on the floor of the Subway though.

Allergic to quinoa? No.

Baby eating red quinoa bulgur apples

I set out…boiling the water, adding the grains, straining everything and then chopping the apples.  This is all while she’s asleep, no doubt dreaming of how fortunate she is that her mom is slaving away in the kitchen so that she doesn’t have to suffer with another pouch of (organic!) mush.  No doubt.  Because babies have priorities like this.  Babies care that you paid $5.99 for four organic apples.

I blend it all together so that there is no POSSIBLE way she will choke.  Then separate out what I can serve her within three days (baby food notoriously turns to poison if you keep it in the fridge for more than three days) versus what I have to freeze in carefully measured 2 oz. portions.

Fuck.

The pediatrician says to introduce only one new food every four days.  For the most part, I’ve been doing that.  Fine, I get it, allergies are serious business.  But there are just some things that I’m pretty sure my daughter isn’t allergic to.  She tried pumpkin, so I’m pretty sure she isn’t allergic to squash.  She tried peaches so I’m pretty sure she isn’t allergic to nectarines.

Enter said “grain” from above.  A mix of bulgur and quinoa.   I cannot separate the two.  They will coexist, together, and be introduced to my baby’s virgin palate because I have failed.  I console myself.  In what yuppie circle of hell is someone allergic to quinoa?  I’m pretty sure this wasn’t even a food until five years ago.  There is no way she’s going to be allergic to this.  Bulgur?  Well I’m pretty sure they misspelled Bulger, and this grain is just a hommage to everyone’s favorite Irish mobster.  Since he’s now behind bars, we are safe from his wrath and his potential allergies stored within his tiny grains.

And so Samara wakes up.  And she eats.  And the only bad thing that happens is that I now realize that red quinoa not only gets everywhere but also the red specs make it looks like she has contracted some type of pox.  Like an allergy.  Awesome.