Monthly Archives: September 2008

In a name

Because Becky asked.

            The day after we got married, my husband and I opened a joint bank account.  A week after we got back from our honeymoon, I queued up at the Social Security Administration office and changed my last name.

            Now, I am a feminist of the old-school, second-generation type.  I think it is moronic that women feel obligated to change their names and that so many men simply expect it of them.  I am offended by the name “Mrs. J Rosenbaum,” both because it is patriarchal and because it is inaccurate.  My name is not J – that is my husband’s name.  (While we are on the subject, I have a Ph.D., so I ought to be referred to as “Dr. Emily Rosenbaum” if we are getting all formal and correct, although I prefer simply “Ms.”)

            But, I changed my name in an awfully big hurry.  My rationale?  My maiden name was my father’s name.  Either way, I was going to have a man’s name.  Might as well at least have a man I like.

Thirty-eight plus one

            Today, I am 38 weeks and one day pregnant.  I have never been more than 38 weeks pregnant before.  Zachary came along at 37 weeks, and his brother was delivered by planned c-section at 38 weeks.  I always feel a little guilty, like I have cheated and gotten out of several of the most hideous weeks of pregnancy, but I couldn’t do much about the first kid.  And the second?  Well, I could not walk for over a month at the end of that pregnancy due to back pain, so we had to move the delivery up.

            This week, the doctor did her little exam and informed me that the baby is crushing my bladder, not to mention other, more intimate parts of my anatomy.  No shit.  Like I couldn’t tell.  Given that I have continual and painful contractions, she offered to move things up to… today.

            Let me tell you, it was tempting. 

            But, my reasons remain.  If we are going to schedule this thing, we are going to do it for when it makes the most sense for everyone.  Of course, the baby may come earlier, but if she doesn’t, I am going to hold off on major abdominal surgery till I am safely past my 35th birthday.  And, it is better for the boys to get as settled into school as possible before their sister comes along.  Not to mention that it is better for the baby to stay in their a little longer, fat and happy, pressing down on my woman parts.

            And so, I remain ginormously pregnant, with a pancake for a bladder and a foot in my rib.  Not much clothing fits me anymore, but a very kind mother from school gave me a few of her old things that are getting me by.  Every day, the other parents and the teachers at the preschool seem a little surprised to see me.

            Just, really, are this many Braxton Hicks contractions necessary?

Give my daughter the shot!

            There is a growing trend in the U.S. not to vaccinate children.  Despite the fact that the American Academy of Pediatrics strongly recommends vaccination, despite the facts of the vast majority of reputable studies endorse the practice, and despite the fact that the diseases we are immunizing against are hideous, people righteously proclaim that they would never do anything so awful as to vaccinate their children.

            Well, dudes, here’s my question to you.  If vaccinations are so terrible (for whatever scientifically unsound reasons you with your vast medical training have come up with), why are you comfortable letting my kids take all the risk for yours?  Because, you see, you have a luxury.  You get to raise your kids in the herd immunity that the rest of us provide by actually vaccinating.  While people in third world countries clamor for vaccines, you get to sit back and say, “No thanks.  I’ll just let her kids do it for me.”

            Way to be part of the community.

            Are vaccines perfectly safe?  Um, no.  Any doctor will tell you there are some rare side effects.  But, let me ask you this: what exactly is it you do in your life that IS perfectly safe?  Driving a car?  Teaching your kid to ride a bike?  Allowing your precious vessel to eat fruits and vegetables that were grown near dirt and might choke her and could have had a fly land on them?  Everything we do has risks, peeps.  That’s the way life is in this day and age.  Vaccines do, too, which is why the doctors tell you to monitor closely after the shots.  But, um, rubella has a few more risks than the MMR.

            So, if you are sitting back and smugly pronouncing how you do not vaccinate, you are really riding on my kids’ coattails.  And you are putting your kid, tiny babies, and immune-suppressed people at some serious risk.  But don’t let that bother you.  You have a soapbox to tend to.

            And, for the record, the chicken pox vaccine is not perfect, you are right.  However, when it does work (the vast majority of the time), it keeps you from getting chicken pox.  So what? you ask.  Well, if you never get chicken pox, you can never get shingles later in life.  And shingles sucks in a big way.

            And, while I am on my soapbox, let me say a few words about “spacing it out,” which many people do to ensure their kids have to see the pediatrician every month for the first five years.  I think it is just ducky that your insurance or pocketbook allows you to do that.  That costs your insurance more, of course.  A cost they will eventually pass along to the employers who are already struggling to provide health insurance.  Which will make it even more tempting for employers to stop providing insurance.  Or more expensive for private individuals to pay for it.  Because, when you drive up medical costs for your insurance company, we all pay for it.  So, go ahead, use medical resources as you see fit, but please don’t bitch about the health care crisis you are so blithely contributing to.

            I trust the doctors I take my kids to.  I trust the medical schools they went to and the scientific studies they read.  And I don’t shop around for a pediatrician who will conform to my idea of what is the best medical treatment, because pretty much every pediatrician I have seen has stuck to the same story.  So, unless they are part of a vast conspiracy, they may actually be basing their advice on, you know, science.

Better than a cuddle

            The problem with reading to your children is twofold.  One, it encourages verbal development.  I see some folly in encouraging any more language development in my kids, at least until they start talking to one another instead of to me.

            Two, they come to like books.  A lot.

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            They are not supposed to be out of bed before 7:00, and Zachary has a digital clock by his bed to ensure compliance.  If they need to pee, they are to leave silently so as not to wake one another, but neither child actually gets up to pee.

            Lately, we have been bending the rule.  It seems to be now that, if we are approaching 7:00 and you get out of bed without disturbing the other child, you get to climb into the big bed.  On the weekends, there is still a parent or two in the bed to snuggle with.  On weekdays, I have been known to climb back into bed to share an early morning cuddle.

            Unfortunately, Zachary is a smart little bugger, and this policy seems to be encouraging him to get up earlier just so he can get some quiet cuddle time.  We’re going to need to revert to the earlier standard, if only because pretty soon there is going to be a baby demanding that 6:30-7:00 slot. 

            But not quite yet.  And so it was that on one recent morning, the little man and I sat together quietly on the living room couch, a rare moment when he allowed me to embrace him.  After a few minutes, he whispered to me, “Mommy.  I have an idea.  We could do something better than a cuddle.”

            I knew what was coming.  “What’s that Zach?”

            “It’s something next to the couch.”

            “You want a book, babe.”  I couldn’t help but smile, even though it also made me a little sad to know that already, at barely four, he classifies that as superior to hugging me.  “Go ahead and pick one.”

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            Usually, we join the library immediately upon moving somewhere.  But, this move has been so protracted and so overwhelming that we hadn’t gotten around to it.  Maybe the lousy libraries in our London neighborhood had spoiled our interest.  Or maybe we were just overwhelmed.

            Our nanny, however, is subversive.  First, she started talking about the library with our kids.  She planted the seed, encouraging Zachary to subtly request a library card.  Then, she started bringing over library books she had checked out.  Finally, she quietly left two applications for library cards on the kitchen counter.  No comment – just the applications.

            I got the damned cards.  The library is walking distance, and she takes them there all the time, returning one set of books and checking out another.

            She’s encouraging the habit, you know.

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            He sat on my lap while our nanny gave Zachary snack, on the same couch where I had read to his brother in the morning.  “Want book,” he declared.

            “Go pick one.”  He thumped down to the floor, ran over, grabbed The Lady With the Alligator Purse.  I sang it to him.

            “Want ‘nother book, Mommy.”  This time it was Sandra Boynton.  We finished it.

            “’Nother one.”  I despise those books with the full dinosaur names that I cannot pronounce.

            “ Want ’nother one, please.”  A book of British nursery rhymes, which always shock me in their excessive violence, what with carving knives and mice tails and whatnot.

            “Want ‘nother book.”

            “’Nother book.”

            “ Want ‘nother one, Mommy.”

            At least this child lets me hold him while we read.

Nutty

            “What about chickpeas?” I asked her.  “Are they allowed in school?”

            She sighed.  “Well, I don’t know how far the school wants to take the policy.”

            “I’m not asking the school,” I replied.  “I am asking you.  It’s your kid.  The school seems to think chickpeas are fine.”

            “Well, chickpeas are the closest relative of peanuts,” she responded.  “But, he’s not in your children’s class.”

            Our preschool, you see, is nut-free, but the administration seems a bit hazy on the exact parameters of that ban.  Clearly, no peanut butter is allowed, because if Zach went out to play in the yard with some on his fingers, he could leave it behind for another child to touch.  Ready-made anaphalactic shock.  But, when I asked about chickpeas, no one seemed to know the answer.

            My eldest is incredibly picky.  Peanut butter is his largest source of protein.  And not being able to pack it in his lunch is a giant pain in the ass.  Not, however, as much of a pain in the ass as it would be for this other child to end up unconscious or dead.  That would suck even more than my kid doing without peanut butter at lunch.

            So, despite the sensory issues and complicated eating, I support the nut-free policy.  In fact, I think all schools should go nut-free.  These kids cannot go on playdates, they cannot fly on airplanes, they often cannot eat in restaurants.  It seems that maybe the school should be a safe zone.

            To address my son’s need for protein, I have switched breakfast and lunch.  My kids eat peanut butter in the morning, then I pack little Mr. Finicky muffins in his lunch box.  I feed them their breakfast in their pajamas so none gets on their school clothes, then scrub their hands and faces and brush their teeth before taking them to school.  And all the while, we talk about why we must take these precautions.

            Zachary is well aware there is a boy in his school who is allergic to peanut butter, although he is mostly really concerned that the child is allergic to chocolate, which he classifies as a huge tragedy.  He knows that it is everyone’s responsibility to keep this child safe.  And he does not begrudge it.  So, why should I?

            Seems to me this is the perfect opportunity to teach about community responsibility for looking out for one another.

            In the end, we decided spinach with a chickpea base is OK, as long as I tell the teachers to carefully wash hands before the kids are allowed out in the play yard.  Together, we are coming up with the solutions, because I am pretty sure she cannot keep her kid safe all by herself.

Memory brushes the same years

            There seem to be a couple of hundred people who read my posts on a daily basis.  I suspect some of those blog stats come from all the preschool teachers Googling lyrics to a certain song about driving around town in a bus all day.  And some come from people looking for one of the other two Emily Rosenbaums, some twit on a reality TV show and a considerably more serious one who teaches at F*rdham University and has the misfortune of sharing her name with the two of us blockheads. 

            There do seem to be, however, a group of you who actually come back on a regular basis to read what I have to say here.  Some of you are bloggers who I have met online.  But many, many others are people I know from the actual, three-dimensional world. 

            We have moved a lot, J and I.  Each place we live, we meet more people and add them to our group of friends.  Now, as I update our contact list to prepare for the baby announcements, I realize that we know people with zip codes starting in everything but an 8, not to mention the international post codes.  I was thinking of adding John McCain to our baby announcement list, just to have an 8 code, but I couldn’t decide which house to send it to.

            And some of these friends from over the years read my blog.  People in North Carolina and Illinois.  People in London and Columbus.  People in Salem and the Upper Whatever Side and the far outskirts of Beverly Hills.  Stateless people in the District of Columbia.

            These are people who have known me when I was a teenager, through my twenties, into my thirties.  They know my kids’ real names, but they get confused sometimes because they are so used to reading my blog.  They are married and single and gay and straight and even from different political parties.

            And then there are the relatives.  Not mine (I don’t think, but who knows), but my husband’s.  There are a lot of Rosenbaum relatives out there, and one by one, they have started reading.  They may or may not comment on the blog, but now and then I get an email from them speaking to something I have written.

            So, to all of you – the friends, the relatives, the former colleagues, the people stalking me from afar – thank you.  Thank you for caring about us and our family.  Thank you for supporting me.  I love that you read my words, and I hope you will drop me a line to tell me that you are there and have been checking in.

            And, if you know anyone with an 8 zip code, send ‘em my way.  

Did you know that the President’s job is to run the country?

            I was raised in Massachusetts.  I am a thirty-something, secular-Jewish woman with several graduate degrees.  In the humanities.

            Let’s just say that the Republican Party ain’t working too hard to try to win over my vote.  I am a pretty clear demographic, and there aren’t a whole lot of doubts about which way I am likely to swing in any given election.  It probably will shock no one to hear I am pro-choice, list the environment as one of my top concerns, support gay rights, and worry a lot about the public schools.

            All that said, John McCain does not scare the shit out of me.  I know I probably should be able to say more for him, but the fact is, given his predecessor, that is saying quite a bit.  The man seems intelligent enough to run a country, as opposed to certain other recent Republican Presidents. 

            This does not mean I want him to be President.  I disagree with him on so many points it is dizzying.  But, I do not think he is an evil force in the universe, and I do not think he is ill-qualified to be President.  (We’ll leave aside for the moment his totally unqualified running mate who I think is a frightening prospect for this country.)

            I’ll bet that most Democratic politicians also recognize that McCain is perfectly capable of the job to which he aspires.  Yet, we spend our days now listening to diatribes against the man.  Not against his policies, mind you, but the man himself.

            And it goes both ways.  I am pretty sure most Republicans realize that Barack Obama is a pretty smart guy and could handle the Presidency.  Yet, they feel the need to attack him continually.

            Why?  Why can we not debate the issues?  Why can’t we talk about policy plans, rather than personal qualifications?  Why the hell can’t we admit that both candidates are capable, and then move on to talk about their different opinions?  Why does it have to be a popularity contest?

            Are we really that shallow?  Can we really not handle hearing the reason one man likes one set of tax cuts and another likes a different one?  Are we incapable of hearing two different plans for addressing global warming without couching them in personal attacks on the people with the plans?

            Or do our politicians just think we are that dumb?  After all, we do seem to be acting as though Barak Obama is running against Sarah Palin.

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Just saw this video over at someone else’s place  Go watch it — much funnier than my post.