Monthly Archives: April 2009

Ego boost

            This past week, we were in D.C. for spring break.  The boys acquitted themselves quite well, in large part due to the fact that we were staying with my in-laws.  The boys like to create the illusion that they are well behaved.

            They may have been so delightful because we kept separating them from one another.  Both grandparents work, but they took some time off to be with the kids.  Lilah declared herself my appendage, but the boys happily trooped off with one or the other of their grandparents for some quality one-on-one. I am unused to such a high adult/child ratio and it felt almost like a vacation.

            One afternoon, I was reading to Benjamin on the couch while Zach hung with my mother-in-law in the kitchen.  Ben, in a rare display of fondness for his mother, was snuggled up close.  He reached over to pat my abdomen.

            “Mommy, you got a baby in your belly?” he asked, raising his voice at the end in his exaggerated-question tone.

            “No, Benjamin, I don’t have a baby in my belly.”

            He kept prodding my post-partum pudge.  “You got a ball in your belly?”

            “No, sweetie.  I don’t have a ball in my belly.”

            “Why your belly so big?” he wanted to know.

            Ever so helpful, Zachary called out from the next room, “Because she ate too much!”

            My mother-in-law did not say a word. 

Questionable Interrogation Techniques

            Far too busy committing war crimes during his two terms in office, George W. Bush never did get around to signing the War Crimes Treaty.  Now, however, there is a new sheriff in town, so I have sent him a little note:

Dear President Obama,

I am writing to encourage you to sign the War Crimes Treaty.  Actually, I’d like to you re-sign it, since we signed it once before but your predecessor decided to back out.  I think that the International Criminal Court is a very handy little institution and that the United States ought to support it.

United States participation in the International Criminal Court will make it much easier for those dudes over in The Hague to try George W. Bush for war crimes.  Should they have a hard time establishing that he committed any war crimes, let’s try some “questionable interrogation techniques,” such as waterboarding or sleep deprivation, to get him to admit his guilt.  After all, he has already proven how effective these techniques can be.

Mr. President, I know times are hard and that the government is kind of short on cash right now.  So, if you need donations to help fund George W. Bush’s flight over for his trial, I am happy to donate to the Haul George W.’s Butt Into Court Fund.  I think I may know another couple of people who are willing to donate, as well.

And, by the way, I think you are doing a pretty good job, no matter what people say.  Making those D.O.J. reports public was an act of integrity, which has been sorely missing from Pennsylvania Avenue for almost a decade.  Carry on, sir.

All the best,

Emily Rosenbaum

            Oh, yes, I did.  Please feel free to write your own note, or you can use mine.  I don’t mind.

Lust; or, Sticking it to The Man

             The Kindle is sleek and stylish.  It is Annette Benning in an elegant black dress.  It is charming and seductive, like Pierce Brosnan as a superspy or an art thief.  The Kindle woos me from an island in the middle of the ocean, tempting me to stay forever instead of returning home to Penelope as she awaits me in Ithaca, assuming of course that Penelope were a lesbian and I some sort of cross-dressing Greek warrior.

            The point is that I have a terrible case of Kindle-Lust, a fire stoked a few months ago when I met Jen, who allowed me to fondle hers.  (We won’t tell our partners.)  Oh, that beautiful device that would allow me to buy a book in a matter of mere seconds, sparing the forests I will undoubtedly fell in my lifetime of book acquisition.  The bookshelves we will save; the room we will have for other things, like tables and chairs.  The money we will eventually save as I buy books for under ten bucks.

           I want a fucking Kindle.

          Except.

          Kindle only buys books from Amazon.  It consolidates the Great Amazonian Book Monopoly by making sure that its owners not only shell out several hundred bucks for the device, but also cease and desist all noxious purchasing of books at Other Stores.  While this process clearly will not be halted if I deny myself a Kindle, somehow holding off feels a little like sticking it to The Man.

           There are magnificent things about e-books, don’t get me wrong.  I love that people can so easily self-publish, allowing a much wider range of voices space to be heard.  This is clearly the future of publishing.  Soon, college textbooks will all be electronic, as all those pre-meds rise up out of their dorm rooms and refuse to schlep about both Organic Chemistry and Biology 101.  Once the textbook industry has been overtaken, there will be more and more books published only electronically, just like we all know that paper newspapers are soon to go the way of all good things.  Much as we all bitch and moan about loving the feel of a real book, electronic books are greener, cheaper, and more chiropractically sound. 

           Think about how much easier high school would have been if you hadn’t needed to go to your locker between classes to get your math book.

            I understand that the Kindle is the best book-reading device out there.  But the thought of giving all that power to Amazon makes me shudder.  Just look at what happens when we hand over the organization of our reading habits to one giant retailer.  A little change in some classification, and suddenly LGBT books are classified as “adult.”  Heather Has Two Mommies should be classified as boring, but it is definitely not adult. 

            I am just not comfortable handing that level of power over to Amazon this week.

Pointing fingers

I have a new post up at L.A. Moms Blog.  I wrote it in response to this post of Julie’s.

And happy birthday to my husband.

Thalon Bruce Myers

I have never before read this blog, but someone else’s post sent me over there today.  As I sit here, bone tired from dealing with three jetlagged kids while my husband is on a business trip in the middle of our vacation, I am suddenly filled with dread.  As far as I can tell, she just went in and found her beautiful little boy dead and tried to revive him.  Today, he passed away at the hospital.

Go leave her a note of support while I go check in on my babies. 

And, to the grieving mommas out there in the blogosphere, the support we are trying to give is so tiny in the face of your grief, but we offer it nonetheless.

And I didn’t have to lift my shirt except to feed the baby

             It was a crappy day in a crappy week.  Granted, I have three kids, so most days are full of actual crap, but this one was also metaphorically a glistening pile of shit leaking out of a diaper onto my living room rug.  It was only Tuesday, and I was ready to throw in the towel.  Frankly, I am not sure why the day of the week ought to matter.  It’s not like my weekends are any different from my weekdays.  I wipe asses and clip nails and prepare meals and breastfeed and foster fine motor development and give each kid the 15 minutes a day of special time that assholes everywhere keep reminding me are so very important to making my kids feel special.

            (An aside: could someone please explain to me the merits of making my kids feel special?  Maybe they aren’t special.  Maybe they are totally ordinary.  Wouldn’t I be doing them some huge disservice by making them feel all unique?  Some ninth-grade teacher will give them a C, which means “average,” and the whole caravansary will dissolve into thin air.)

            The boys were climbing the walls.  I went to take out the trash and had that thought we’re not supposed to have but we all do: “I could just keep walking.”  Lilah is bizarrely angelic, making us wonder about mix-ups at the hospital, but even she was having a fussy day.  I was snapping at the kids even as I considered the distinct possibility that my behavior might not be helping any of our moods.

            I had to open the front door for something or another, although I am proud to report it was not to attempt an escape or to eject a child.  And there, on the front step, was a box that must have been left at some point in the afternoon while I was preoccupied with a runny nose or sending Zach to the Unkindness Chair.  And the return address was from New Orleans.

            So, although it is mucho, mucho belated, I would like to publicly thank Painted Maypole for the Mardi Gras beads she sent last month, especially the incredibly long string of giant pink ones, which my sons miraculously have been sharing nicely for nearly four weeks.  Those beads turned our afternoon around and entertained the boys for a good long time, allowing me to both nurse the baby and scrape Play Doh off of the underside of the kitchen table. 

            Of course, the next day sucked even worse.  But the beads rock.

*********************

            If you have not already done so, I would like to IMPLORE you to click on the button at the right (or RIGHT HERE) and go vote for me at the Bloggers’ Choice Awards.  (And thanks to Vodka Mom for sending people to vote.)  You see, I am nominated for The Blogitzer, which is for way smart writing, and Dooce is beating me.  Now, I know she will win.  She wins all of these things.  But, if all of you go over there and register right now and vote for me, maybe for just one day I can surpass her.   And that will be my fifteen minutes of feeling special.

Four more questions

              We were a little nervous about Passover this year, but not because of the four-and-a-half-but-who’s-counting hour flight with three small children, the three-hour-time-difference-that-the-baby-never-gets-over, or the staying-in-someone-else’s-house-long-after-Ben-Franklin-advises-leaving.  Packing took me an entire day because the airlines make baggage regulations without taking into account the So Much Crap that tiny people need, but I plodded along and we made it through security at LAX with 42 seconds to spare before they closed the doors to our airplane.  Even though this was the first time I had ever arrived at a plane as late as final boarding, it was not missing our cross-country flight with the posse in tow that was making J and I tense.

            No, we were worried about the Four Questions.

            Some of you may recall that we ran into some issues when Zachary tried to do the Four Questions last year.  He knew them, he wanted to say them, but he was too anxious about the big crowd to do it, and there was a Stage Three Meltdown.  Zachary’s social anxiety exploded up against his desire to be the center of attention, which he really enjoys as long as no one is drawing attention to him.  If it’s confusing for you, just imagine how it feels for him.

            We send our kids to a Jewish preschool precisely so we don’t have to teach them this stuff, and the teachers must have drilled Zach’s class plenty, because he knew the first two questions in Hebrew and all four in English.  (Actually, all five in English, because there is a main question and then four sub-questions, although no one has ever thought to rename them the Five Questions.)

            Some friggin’ genius at the preschool thought to have the kids add visual aids to a handout which they could use to jump-start their memories when Four Question time came, so even though Zach knew them cold, he also had a cheat-sheet for emergencies.  Not unlike many ninth-grade algebra classes.

            J and I were worried that our little dude would once again freeze up but be too frustrated with himself to allow the Seder to continue.  We practiced several nights at dinner, hoping to recreate the ambiance under which he would have to perform.  We instructed his grandparents not to make a big deal of it, because Zachary abhors the Big Deal.  And, still, that first night of Passover loomed large.

            The boys were informed that they needed to take a siesta before the fiesta.  They were dressed in neat button-downs, and they were ready when the rest of the 17 guests arrived.  We were careful to seat Zachary far from Benjamin, who is truly gifted at pushing not just some but ALL of his brother’s buttons.  Zachary was a little hesitant to enter into play with his adored three-year-old cousin and then became sullen when she played with Benjamin instead, but by the time we got to the dinner table, all was copasetic. 

            And then we rolled around to the Four Questions.  Grandpa announced it was time, everyone let out one of those enthusiastic “Oh, my” cheers in which grown-ups tend to indulge when kids are about to perform, and Grandpa pulled out the video camera. 

            Yeah. 

            That was Zachary’s cue to fall apart.

            He froze, and everyone started jumping in with the helpful encouragement that just makes him more anxious.  After a moment, they stopped, and I asked him if he wanted to do it in Hebrew or English first.  He mumbled “English.”  We pulled out the cheat-sheet, and I silently tried to will him to just make it through, even if no one could hear him, not because the rest of us desperately wanted to hear this part of the Seder but because I knew he’d be so frustrated when the Seder moved on and he hadn’t done his part.  Like last year.

            “Why is this night different from all other nights?” he began, with his father and mother hoping that it would indeed be just a little different for him.  “Why do we eat matzah?” he said hesitantly.  “On all other nights, we eat fruits and vegetables, why on this night do we eat horseradish?”  Now he sounded almost, dare I say it, confident.  “Why do we dip twice?  Why do we lean on pillows?” he ended in a loud voice.

            While J and I stared at each other in total disbelief across the dining room, everyone cheered, and I’ll be damned if the child didn’t take the applause as his due. 

            But it wasn’t over.  Grandpa included in the Seder three songs that the boys learned in preschool and have been singing (incessantly) for weeks.  Benjamin was far to busy drinking the salt water to join in, but Grandma tried a few bars, and I sang along to give Zach some encouragement.

            Which, by the way, he did not need.  We were treated to loud solo versions of “Bang, Bang, Bang,” “No, No, No, I Will Not Let Them Go,” and “One Morning When Pharaoh Awoke In His Bed,” complete with hand motions.  The child was not just singing; he was performing.

            Shit, they may not like me to publicly breastfeed, but they are doing something right at that preschool.  Now if they could convince Ben not to suck spilled matzah ball soup off his shirt.