Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Non-French Dinner

Call me a francophile, a self-hating American or someone whose head is up her derrière. 

When I think of France, (Yes, I know they have their problems too.) I think lovely meals, good food, a je ne sais quoi as far as style is concerned and a positive regard for artists and intellectuals.  A nation that doesn't feed its citizens to the lions as far as social services are concerned. 

And when I think of the U.S. . .

Never mind.

And from the book Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman I've learned that French parents aren't the exhausted, micro-managing, hyper-competitive, strung out lot we American parents are.

They've got us beat there, too.

Via delayed gratification, French babies sleep through the night by a few months of age.  French toddlers don’t whine or meltdown like ours do.  Sans recreational eating, kids are calm at the table and eat meals.  Parents fit their children into their lives; children understand that the sun doesn't rise and set on their little patooties. 

All this (plus social systems that provide generous maternity leave/subsidized daycare, etc.) means that parents in France don’t look like la merde, feel like la merde, or I can only imagine, treat each other like la merde

Stop crying.

Read Bringing Up Bebe, especially if, as an American parent, you want to be convinced that most everything you did presumably to keep your child happy has created the deep, dark prison cell you inhabit today.

Do not, however, read this book before attending an All-American dinner party with the families of two of your fave mommies.  Six adults and six kids, all under the age of four.

I started out the evening optimistic, thinking that if I just said, “Wait, Mommy’s talking/eating/going to marinate her every internal organ in wine,” my children would let me be.  The other parents would do the same, and things would go relatively smoothly.

Can you hear the “Mwoooo-ha-ha-ha-ha” laugh?

Within twenty minutes of our just-shy-of 5 p.m. arrival, each child had established his/her role - the Tittie Addict, The Hurricane, the Informant, the Righteous Victim, Little Miss Naughty and the Trying-to-get-in-the-mix Toddler.  The “attend” (meaning wait) thing was a big fat failure.  The Hurricane and the Righteous Victim began rehearsing for Rocky VII.  And when a Leap Frog Ladybug computer was spiked on the ground, missing Lil' Mr. Tittie Addict's head by inches, it was time for scolding, not overlooking. 

By six o’clock we mothers stood over the counter frantically plating the kids’ food.  We chopped up the chicken (roasted with lemons, herbs and sweet potatoes), and added veggies and homemade mac and cheese (made with sharp cheddar and gruyère to their plates).  Once served, they wiggled at their separate table, and like royalty, quickly found everything positively inedible. 

After five minutes they were back to old tricks. Running down halls.  Disrobing.  Tormenting each other. Our family party had degenerated into the third circle of hell.

Finally, we adults were able to eat thanks to PBS's Thomas and Caillou.  Once the dads ceded the TV to the kids, the grown-ups got a whopping twenty minutes of a civilized meal.  This is what it had come to.

But once the kids got antsy and stepped away from the screen, the men, unable to live without college hoops, returned to the game, much to the Informant’s dismay.  While the menfolk occasionally intervened when the kids got too rough, they didn't seem as vigilant as we were. Perhaps it was the men who were more French, enjoying themselves and only stepping in when absolutely necessary, as opposed to the moms, continually ready to rescue or scold, their spidey sense in fifth gear.

By dessert, however, we could laugh at the mayhem of the night.  Sugared up, the kids were happy, as were we, jacked up on wine, good food, each other’s company, and temporarily free from the tyranny of The Schedule. Especially for the moms, it was an absolute joy to finally spend an evening with women we'd seen only clad in our momiforms on the playground.  And finally the eff-it spirit had set in.  We didn't do this often, and dammit, we were going to enjoy ourselves! 

Although antics/torment continued, the children were able to play restaurant, watch TV (when the Dads weren't hogging it) and have fun.  The fact that it was way past their bedtime apparently gave the kids an illicit thrill as well.  At 9:30 it became clear that the party was over, and we cashed in our chips.

How might this party have played out had we been three French families?  Would we have left the kids to their own devices, letting them work it out on their own?  Would we have been able to enjoy hours of food, drinking and sophisticated conversation?  Would we have been stressed to the point of a mini-existential crisis, wondering if this dinner party was the worst decision since Britney flashed her dop-dop getting in (out of?) a limo?   Since I have started reading Bringing Up Bebe, I think about this constantly.  I ask W.W.F.K.D.  (What would French Keesha do?), and envision some French supermom mocking me as I slavishly cater to my children and look like a yak in drag in the process.

This is probably the only time I need, like my jingoistic, right-wing compatriots, to say who gives a bleep what the French think.  We can learn from their outlook, but high-maintenance American parenting, while stressful, does have the potential to produce a pretty awesome person.  My kids whine, snack like its their job and and sometimes have meltdowns worthy of a straitjacket (on all of us).  On any given day I am ready for a stiff drink by 10 a.m. Still, I am confident my children are on track to be caring, independent, capable, intelligent and creative individuals.

And even though we will certainly be doing a Mom's Night Out for our next get-together, I have to say our non-French dinner was pretty freakin' fun.  

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Break: Where The Only Thing Out of Control is my To-do List

This is not yo' Mama's Spring Break

Today’s the Monday of spring break.
So much to do, so much at stake!
I think that I have overplanned.
My ambitions are apparently way too grand.

I don’t have to teach, I don’t have to work.
But with this to-do list I feel berserk.
So many things that I’ve put off.
A more organized mom, would surely scoff
at me, I’m so disorganized,
for chaos, surely I win the prize.
But this week must be my redemption.
I swear I'm bursting with good intention!

Let’s see…

A good friend gave birth to twinners -
I am long overdue to bring her dinner!
Twenty bananas in my freezer, no bluffin’
My kids would love banana muffins!
Thank God that Stacie isn’t miffed
Married now a year, and still no gift.

My coiffure is in a total rut -
I need a color and perhaps a cut.
My nails, ugh, cry for a mani/pedi!
Looks like I crawled ‘cross the Serengeti.

Then there's...

My book to read about parenting in France,
and I really must exercise or dance.
Modern, yoga, pilates, ballet
And my kids still must go out to play.

And then of course there’s meal planning, shopping for food.
Everything about dinner makes me brood.
The whole food thing - I feel oppressed.
But that’s another topic, I fear I've digressed.

Naturally, I've got to clean this house
The crumbs under the table - a meal for a mouse.
Loads and loads of laundry to wash.
An issue I can never quash.

Phone calls to make, 
e-mails to write and send.
Lunches and coffees and playdates with friends.
Oh! I also have gift-cards to use at the mall.
How I love shopping - it's such a cure-all!

While I'm there, there are things I need to take back.
Clothing I should have left right on the rack.

There're bags of baby clothes I need to donate.
And so many blog posts I long to create,
About how our life with kids can be funny,
Or terribly maddening, or blessed and sunny.

And I want to write more about the Trayvon killing
With rage and sadness I am still filling
Then Newt and Rick say Obama’s dividing the races*
Total fuckwads those two; THEY are the real disgraces.

So though I hate ending on that low key,
Methinks that it is time for me
to get up from this computer
And get myself dressed.
I need to go and…
Screw it, Mama needs to rest.  

Thursday, March 22, 2012

She's Homeless: A Letter

Dear Homeless Lady Trying to Steal Toys from Butternut Playlot:

Do you remember that Crystal Waters song, “La-da-dee, la-da-da, la-da-dee, la-da-da…She’s just like you and me, but she’s homeless, she’s homeless. . .?” 

Yes, that's totally random, and possibly somewhat insulting, but I'm going somewhere with this.

I do have to give you credit.  You brazenly strolled into Butternut, one of the Hyde Park playgrounds with a supply of discarded, community-property toys, selected two construction vehicles in good condition, placed them in your shopping cart and attempted to go on your merry way.  

You saw our family walk in, and were gonna keep on keepin’ on! 


I also have to thank you for your candor, as well as your willingness to engage in a civilized conversation without letting things get violent, because my Mama Bear Rage was coming up.  My husband feared my mouth would get us cut, right in front of our children, no less.

And of course, I have to thank you for letting us take the toys back, and for the fact that today, almost two weeks later, you did not fulfill your promise to complete said toy removal.

Hyde Park is home to everyone from President Obama to people like yourself.  Living in a neighborhood such as this, every now and then I should expect to be shaken up by people like you.  People who, la-da-dee, la-da-da, are not just like me. 

But, even so, shouldn’t we demonstrate a baseline of common decency toward each other?

I mean, honestly, when confronted by a mother telling you that those are her son’s favorite toys, responding, “he might like those toys, but those are not his favorite?”  Really? My son plays with those every time he comes to Butternut.  You told us that if people didn’t want the toys taken, they shouldn’t leave them there.  When we explained that those toys belong to all the neighborhood’s children, you were unfazed, and declared your intention to sell those toys to get something to eat. 

I couldn’t help feeling, looking at your cell phone, made up face and jeans straight out the yes, Crystal Waters era, that you were not going to buy food.  I may have the street cred of Beaver Cleaver, but I wasn’t born yesterday. 

“You don’t understand,” you said.  “I’m homeless.  I have to eat.”  To which I responded, “So you’re going to steal from children?” I even tried to appeal to your sense of Christian decency -- a curious tactic, as I am not religious.  It was to no avail.  You maintained that not only were the toys there for you to take, but that you had a right to them, as they were linked to your survival.  And you let me know you didn’t care about my kids.

But at least you let us remove the toys from your cart before walking toward the to the street. And then I had to go and yell, “No one takes things from my kids!”  To which you menacingly responded, “What you say?” before continuing on your way.

Again, I thank you for your non-violence.  You seem a reasonably sane and articulate woman.  To be honest, your English was better than a number of my college students.  So what happened to take you to the point where you’d steal from children?  Steal from children and think it perfectly okay? 

To not even lie and say, “I need those toys for my own kids.”

I have my suspicions why, but I would really like to know.

You probably think I should have let you have the toys based on the fact that most of the kids who frequent Butternut have access to more toys than they know what to do with.

No.  Because something is given to the public, does not mean that it is there for one person to take. 

Also, I couldn’t stand there in front of my children and let you take away toys, toys that belong to the park.  That’s stealing – something bad people do.  And even though I must, I hate introducing my children to the wrongful acts people are capable of. 

I also have to explain that when we can, we stop the bad guys.  And I’ll try to live up to that.

And you, my friend, in our little meeting were the bad guy. (My friend? God, see what you’ve done?  You've made me sound like that moron Mitt Romney!) 

La-da-dee, La-da-da.

Which gets me to how much our encounter threw my values into question.  I consider myself liberal but, shamefully, I felt myself entertaining a number of right-leaning ideas that I usually find despicable.

I know you and I have led very different lives.  And given America’s history with our people, I know I am extremely lucky to have been born into a law-abiding, striving and intelligent family. 

There but for the grace of God, go I.

But still, as for you, what happened? Can you find your way out?  Is it too late? Do you want help? 

I hope you can find a new life.  I really do. But here's the thing - if we are to keep some semblance of order, of community, if we're to all get along in our little diverse, liberal “socialist” utopia, can we agree not to take things that don’t belong to us?  And can we care about everyone’s children?

It's a start.  Simple, but not easy.  La-da-dee, la-da-da, la-da-dee, la-da-da…


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

For the Brown Boys

The case is everywhere.  That of Trayvon Martin, a seventeen year old African-American boy who went out to a convenience store to buy himself a snack, and was shot dead by a neighborhood watchman.  

Seeing his picture, reading more of the details, hearing his screams on the 911 tapes, I fast forward fourteen years from now to when R is seventeen, and sob.  As the mother of a brown-skinned boy, I am truly shaken.  

When my son is old enough, we will have to have the conversation all black and brown boys must have about the police.  One day he will have to realize that the men in blue he thinks are currently the good guys, out to protect him, might very well not have his back at all.  We will have to tell him never to talk back, to be completely deferential, and to keep his hands in plain sight.  It won't matter how intelligent he is, how well he speaks, where his mother went to school, the color of Daddy's skin or where he works.  While his white friends might be wise to heed the same advice, for Riley it will have to be as ingrained and automatic as knowing his address.  

Of course, I pray that he is never stopped by the police, as these situations have the potential to go so horribly, horribly wrong.

But this case isn't just about black and brown boys and the police.  With the f-ed gun laws in this country, and especially in states like sunny Florida, any lunatic with a weapon could decide based on skin color and the choice to wear a hoodie to shoot now and ask questions later.  If he's suspicious, it's self-defense, after all.  

Those who want to discount or even defend racism will say that if you don't want to be found suspicious, then don't dress/talk/act that way.

To them I say, it doesn't matter.  Legit African-American men in suits still make some ladies grab their purses and scurry across the street.  

Once President Obama was elected, people claimed we had entered a post-racial America.  Perhaps in some ways, and in some sections of the country we have.  Black/white marriages continue to rise and more people are more tolerant of mixed marriages.  Still, despite our 44th president, this country feels like a racial tinderbox.  Every fool with fingers and internet access is now able to shoot intellectual sewage into cyberspace, letting loose all the racial vitriol held in check by political correctness and the lack of a platform.   

I hope that young Mr. Martin's death opens the doors to a national conversation about both race and guns.  May justice be served.  And please may it not be another one of the thousands of black deaths where the not black* killer goes scot free.

As a mommyblogger, I want to call on other parents in the blogging world to do something, post something on their blogs.  It doesn't have to be big. It doesn't matter if you're not political.  Urge people to sign a petition  Maybe you don't know the details of the case.  Maybe you're not convinced he was innocent.  Listen. Read.  Think of your son, or daughter, for that matter begging for his/her life.  Think of the unimaginable grief of Trayvon's parents.  As parents we cannot tolerate violence against children.  Not from their peers, and certainly not from adults. We protect each others' children when they are little.  We stop them from running too far down the sidewalk, from stepping in front of a swing.  Let's not stop when they're teens.  

Or when they're black.  

*George Zimmerman is Latino.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

If Someone Passes You the Baton, Just Run With It

I have always wanted to participate in one of these blogger get-to-know-you-in-a-quirky-aren't-we-bonding/I-feel-like-we-should-be-having-wine-now-even-though-I-don't-know-you-from-Adam interviews.  But to participate, you had to get tagged.  You had to be invited.

It was like a party; it was like high school.

Then someone sent me one! Yes!  I had arrived.
Psyche!  Meant for a blog I guest for, not my post. 
But unlike in high school, where I'd slink away and sob like Marcia Brady, this time I'm running with it. 
So here's how it works:
  1. Post the rules.   
  2. Tag up to eleven bloggers by posting links to their blogs, and let them know.
  3. Create eleven questions for the people you’ve tagged.
  4. Answer the questions your tagger posed for you.*
  5. Have fun!
Here are my favorite bloggers who I know won't immediately send an e-mail from me into their spam files.  They also happen to be the blogs I have tagged.   Seriously, these are fabulous blogs, written by funny, honest mamas with serious writing chops.  Check them out!  Especially to see how they choose to answer (or not) the kooky questions that come from this bag with a hole cut out of the bottom otherwise known as my brain.  

Tiny Dancers
Poop and Other Things Moms Are Obsessed With
The Girlfriend Mom
My Dishwasher's Possessed

And now for the moment you've been waiting for - the answers to my questions.

What is your favorite movie?

Can’t narrow it down to one, but here it goes.  I love prison escapes like Papillon and The Shawshank Redemption.  I’m a child of the 80s, so Sixteen Candles will always have a special place in my heart.  But my all time fave - Gladiator.  I dig bloody historical fiction.  If George Costanza had a younger black sister, it’d be me.  So violent, underdog revenge flicks – bring ‘em.

What is your favorite drink?                                                                                      

I’m not even going to ask if you mean alcoholic or not.  Tanqueray and Tonic.  I wrote that with a lockjaw. 

What are you reading now?
As books are concerned I am single at the moment.  All I can handle are little dalliances in the form of blogs and the kabillions of links on FB and Twitter. 

What is your exercise of choice?
Ballet class no doubt.

Are you a late night or early dawn person?
Definitely late night.  You should only be up at early dawn if you have small children or are socializing on the town or inside with a, tee-hee, special friend. 

What equipment do you use for photography?
Do praying and cursing count when I use my Ipad?

How many words do you write in one sitting? 
About 4.  Before I get up to get a snack, and then go check my blog stats and learn who found his own personal Jesus in a bowl of homemade soup.  

Do you like to edit?
I edit way too much, usually as I go. Therefore,  fruitful writing sessions are rarity.  I try to just write stream of consciousness -- mistakes and all -- and then go back and edit, but it comes out sounding like the thoughts of someone who washed down three Vicodin with a bottle of Wild Turkey. Hence, as we go editing it is.

Do you re-write before you give it to your editor or do you hand it off raw?
My editor, hmmm.  Oh, yes, definitely I hand it off to her raw.  They’ve gotta pay that skirt for something! Seriously, I hope to soon be working with an editor besides Mrs. Yoursa Truly.

In the Matrix, he asked to come back as someone important, like an actor. What or who would you like to come as? 
Okay, the dancer in me would like to come back as someone crazy fierce and talented.  I’ve never been flexible, so I’d love to feel what it would be like to have wacky extension and banana feet – someone like say, Alicia Graf-Mack, of the Ailey Company.  Then I’d also love to be someone crazy bright – someone who didn’t have a soft spot for Russell Crowe wearing tunics and armor and being a human Cuisinart.  A woman like Hilary Clinton or Madeleine Albright.

Do you read more than one book at a time? 
 I like to mix up a book with my New Yorker.  This means the real answer to this question is no (said in a soft-spoken voice that conveys a sense of shame at an intellect that from a few short years as a mother is now in the same class as a Slim Jim).

*Questions provided by Sonia Rumzi. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Mom in the Spotlight: Melissa Hamburg

Melissa Hamburg, though Queens born and raised, has resided in Manhattan for the past 20 years. A former dancer, she has enjoyed performing in regional theatre, commercials, TV, and revue shows in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe.

Eighteen years ago, on a cruise ship clad in no more than a g-string and plastic bananas (No, this was not her regular attire.  Yes, she was performing).  Melissa befriended a fellow performer who would become her future sister-in-law.  In 2008, she married this pal's brother, a school psychologist, and gave birth to their son in 2011.  Currently, Melissa is a headshot photographer shooting actors in all fields of entertainment.  She is thrilled to finally be a mom.

To view Melissa's work, or to book a session, please visit .

How old are your kids?  Boys? Girls?
I have one boy who is almost 9 months old.

Where were you in your career when your child(ren) were born?
It was just the end of my dancing days.  My photography business was already pretty established so when A was born, I took a few weeks off and then started shooting again.

What were your plans? How did your plans square with reality?
I had hoped to keep shooting as actively as I was before, in addition to keeping up with dancing about 3 times a week.  Not reality!  My family comes to help 3 times a week for a few hours during which time I have to shoot.  So I really have no time to dance anymore.  At best, I get a yoga class or a dance class in once a week and then I’m scrambling to get home on time.  But I’m always excited to see my little man, so it doesn’t matter.   The joy I got from dancing has been replaced by being with my baby.

Had you photographed families and children?  Has having a family of your own changed given you any new insight into working with children?
I actually have always been a headshot photographer for actors.  I’ve been shooting professional children for many years though.  Having a child of my own has really given me newfound respect and admiration for the parents!  They are juggling so much, many of them coming in from out of town to bring their kids in after school for auditions and shoots.  And I have to say, since having a child, my goofiness level is at a new high.  So getting kids to relax and smile has become easier.

How has your perspective on your work changed?
My time is so valuable since I‘m an older mom.  Family time on the weekends is something really hard to compromise, so I really won’t take weekend shoots anymore even if the money is good.  Actually, the only exceptions I make are for moms who are struggling to get to me during the week.  I’m way more sympathetic to them now!

How much sleep are you getting these days?
Not my favorite question!  About 7 hours of very interrupted sleep.  From 6 weeks to 6 months, he slept through the night.  After 6 months, it was payback time.  He’s up 3 to 4 times a night.  Luckily, it’s only for about 10 minutes and he goes right back to sleep.  Somehow, I’m functioning.  But giving up coffee for Lent might not have been the right choice…

Your biggest surprise about motherhood?
I’ve become a total scaredy-cat.  Prior to having a baby, I was, admittedly, a bit reckless.  I drove a spaceship-like automatic motorcycle (Honda Helix) in the streets of New York City for years, I would take my scuba diving a little too deep, and, when overseas, I never thought twice about hitchhiking.  Since A was born, I’ve turned into my grandmother.  I got rid of the bike, I can’t ever imagine diving into a blue hole again, and I even get nervous standing on the platform of the subway.  My life has a new, very profound meaning.

For all women, having babies definitely separates things into before and after.  For dancers this is especially true. What has it been like to go back to dance class? 
In one way, it’s been harder because when I’m there and actually dancing, my body is painfully reminding me of all the things I can’t do anymore.  In another way, it’s actually more enjoyable.  I savor my time there because I get so little of it and, when I’m there, it’s so much more relaxing because I’m not auditioning anymore.  No more anxiety about how I look and who’s watching or talking about upcoming gigs.  I’m truly “in the moment” for the first time.  I used to stand up in the front and now I happily stand in the back during warm-up, in my own little world!

At Cipriani Wall Street shooting the Luis Miguel video
"Santa Claus Llego a la Ciudad." Melissa is first from the right.

What is the last thing you did for yourself?  How often does this phenomenon happen?   
I got a haircut…it had been 6 months.

What are you starting realize about parenthood now that Adrian is no longer a newborn?
Definitely how fast it’s going! 

I’m pretty much a stay-at-home mom (even when I work, it’s from home) so I’m really fortunate to have so much time with my child.  This can also be exasperating, especially because he only takes one 30 minute nap a day.  When he finally takes this 30 minute nap, I usually try to clean our room and condense his clothes, putting them away for, hopefully, another child of our own or to give away.  As I’m going through these clothes and seeing just how fast he outgrows them, I’m reminded of how quickly he’s growing and changing.  Some outfits he’s only worn once and some not at all.  Each outgrown outfit or toy is such a wake-up call and reminder that I might only have these experiences once…so I’m really taking it all in. 

Unless you are Ma Duggar, folks are going to ask you if you want more kids.  So do ya? Hunh? Hunh?
I would love one more.  We’ll see…. 

What you hope your parenting style can be described as in 5 words or less.
Patient and encouraging.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Dance Concert Inside My Head

(Lights Up. Dancers enter from stage right, their torsos undulating and isolating, while their lower bodies perform a kind of sideways ballet walk.)

Yep - exactly what we were talking about at the meeting – the intermingling of classical European and African. 

The story of my frickin’ life.

Stop with the personal sociology!

I made a fool of myself at the meeting. In front of the new chair and half the faculty. Why do I bother talking at meetings? I sounded like I was auditioning for the all black cast of Bill and Ted’s Big Adventure

But Mr. So-and-so asked the same thing I did, and everyone looked at him like he had winged $100 bills flying from his ass.

Have penis, will travel – that’s why.

You need some confidence. 

No, therapy.

Hey - yoga would be therapy and exercise!

Watch the goddamn show!  You’re so unfocused you can’t pay attention to the dancing?  What the hell is wrong with you?  Therapy, like yesterday.

Hmmm…Good movement.  I like this -  ballet based modern dance, but the dancers aren’t bunheads.  Perfect for me.  Could I have gotten into this company when I was in my twenties?  Speaking of my 20s, this partnering is so 1997.

Dude!  His back ripples like a snake – freaky!  Nice dancer.  And look at that other guy – a gorgeous mover, but so boxy!  He looks like he should be driving a Miller Hi-Life truck.

Waltz thing-y, a drag turn, chasse pas de bourré, ruuuuuuuuun, schaaaa-loop pa pa-pa-pa, jump, hop, dart tlee tlocka-ka-ka trum body wave, head roll.  No, a hip roll.  Shoulder? If that’s the class combo, what’s the THEME then? Rhythm? Fluidity versus staccato? 

Oh shit ball change!  Who the hell knows?  Making up class. . .  Aaaaaaaargh!  I really do have to stop pulling class out of my you-know-what. What kind of teacher have I become? I am a poseur.

For the love of ass, watch the frickin’ piece! You have no idea what is going on!  You ARE NOT PRESENT!  YOU HAVE TO BE MORE PRESENT!  Really -- the attention span of a fourteen month old.

That girl has a curve in her back like mine, and she’s a good dancer – that’s just her alignment.  She’s still strong.  Hunh… am I that good?  I wonder how old she is.  I could be her mother.  I used to be the youngest one in every class and now I’m a dancing Betty White. 

What is this even about?  The movement is fine but, yeah, and, so? Am I making too much of this? 

Hey! Who’s that dancer?  Why wasn’t he in the rest of the piece? Not a bad mover but he needs a family-sized bottle of turn-out.  Someone put his legs on backwards.  Do my feet look that bad?  What’s up with the pitty-pitty steps before jumping into a lift? 

What’s up with that? What’s up with that? I love that on SNL!

Stop criticizing everyone!  So insecure.

Oh dear, I don’t want this mint Joe is offering me, but I don’t want to hurt his feelings. Blech! This mint is like a peppermint shoe.  I NEED TO SPIT THIS OUT.  Do I have a tissue? Oh, good. Now I have to hold it, or else it’ll stay in my bag until Thanksgiving.

WHEN DO I GET TO GET MY DRINK ON?!  There’s that boxy guy again. 

Such a nice mover.  Wow, he’s sweated out enough to fill a 40.  He’s a dancing sprinkler. Glad we didn’t sit in front.

I would love a Lychitini.  Two.  But I have to drive home.  News flash to Stupid – you are a mother now.  What if you got a D.U.I. stop?  Maybe you could do a barrel turn and end with a, “Ha!” (Best D.U.I. stop ever!) Or balance in first arabesque to show you’re not drunk! LOL!

Bitch, puh-leeze!  You can barely balance in first arabesque sober.

I could have read War and Peace during this solo. 

Is someone TEXTING? That’s bullshit.  You mean you can’t watch a live performance without telling someone what you’re doing? Honestly, these kids today!

Yay, I think this is going to be it!  It’s almost over.  Is it? Yes?


No. Ugh! What a cruel, cruel fakeout!

Okay, this must be the last section.  Yeah, they’re going back to themes from the beginning.  Well, all right! That resolved nicely, didn’t it?  Back to life, back to reality…

(Lights up. Bows and applause.)

I have Adult A.D.D.  Severely.

Now, if I were to see this again would I get more out of it?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Mom's New Rage

It was a short encounter.  We strolled down the street, hand-in-hand, my then two-year-old son and I.  It was after a fun mommy-son date, a yummy lunch at a neighborhood pan-Asian; Mr. R had just discovered a love of pad thai.  We walked eastward, on the right side of the street.  When we came close to our parked car, I pulled R to the left side for the last few strides.  A stout older man wearing a trench coat and crepe-soled shoes came walking, make that barreling, toward us.  I said “Excuse me,” thinking he’d step aside, like any civilized pedestrian would do for a mother and child.

He wasn’t going to stop. 

I jumped back to the other side of the sidewalk, jerking Riley with me, just before this rhino-man trampled us.

“You nearly knocked us down. I am with my SON, sir!”

“People usually walk on the right side of the street ma’am!”

“I had to get to my CAR!”  I hollered at his retreating back. “You rude fat …”  It was all I could do not to call him a fat f--k. Screaming fuck at strangers (no matter how much they deserved it) while holding the hand of a two year old just seemed not okay. I wanted to throw something at him. If my kid had not been with me, I might have done a running tackle. I wanted revenge. I wanted him to BLEED.

We continued to our car. I put Mr. R in his carseat and began fastening him in. In my side view mirror I saw the man get in his car, a beige mini-SUV of some sort.  “Unbelievable! What a rude fat animal. Absolutely disgusting.  Some people are so rude, Riley.  Just so rude!” I seethed aloud.

“What a rude fat man!”  Mr. R said, gleefully identifying with my outrage.  “That man was so FAT!”

Now I had made my son into a fat bigot, when I never wanted him to judge people superficially. But “fat” was a trifecta.  It satisfied the need I had to insult; it used that initial “f” consonant; and though un-P.C. and very wrong, it was still G-rated.

“Many fat people are wonderful, you know.” I responded feebly.

“Rude fat man, rude fat man, rude fat man,” Mr. R sang, laughing. The man’s car sped past.

"Don't say that, sweetie," I admonished. 

After letting two oncoming cars go by I raced out of my spot after him. I would follow him, and then… And then what?  What did I plan to do?  Act like a Mel Gibson character and cut him off, drag him out of his vehicle and then choke him with the strap of my diaper bag?  And I had my child in the car.  I needed to calm down.  The man’s car was now too far away – I couldn’t catch him without doing something unfathomably stupid and dangerous.

Game over.   

I’d experienced Mother Bear Syndrome before, but nothing like this. Previously it had been a wild or mean kid at the playground, or a rude adult unable to smile at, or otherwise show kindness to, one of my kids.

As a mother, I had never felt so disempowered.  I’d like to say emasculated, but there is no feminine equivalent of this word, which is a huge problem, one extremely revealing about our culture, as well as beyond the scope of this little essay.

The only way to describe this rage borne of the desire to protect my kids was temporary insanity.  Where did it come from?  Human nature?  Intense love? Survival of the species?  Pent up anger over the various sacrifices and concessions of motherhood?

Whatever the cause of this fury, it is shocking to find adults uncivilized enough not to have a soft spot in their hearts for a mother and her child, especially a mom and her kid quietly enjoying their day.  I guess I expect everyone to show basic decency, if not be doped up on kumbaya where kids are concerned. 

When we encounter these miserable individuals who have made the choice to be cruel to mother and child, after we’ve imagined what we’d do if we could, after we’ve talked ourselves down and swallowed our impotent rage, all we can do is feel sorry for these people.

And then dismiss them in the style of our good friend Susie Greene from Curb Your Enthusiasm.

The sick f—ks.  
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