Sunday, January 30, 2011

I must be doing this wrong

Last week, even more than usual, was hectic at work. I was at my desk before 6 a.m. on Monday finishing a brief.

On Tuesday, I got up early and got myself ready, got the kids fed, dressed, shod, powdered and lipsticked (or something like that -- it was stupid early), dropped them off at the appropriate centers of early childhood education, broke a few laws of both physics and the state in order to get to work in time for a meeting, performed the requisite gymnastics at said meeting, went directly to another meeting and remained entangled there until nearly 2 pm without a break for any of life's necessities, including but not limited to answering my incessantly buzzing phone.

When the meeting finally ended and I was able to attend to the Cursed Device, it informed me that my daughter's preschool had been desperately trying to get a hold of me because she was running a fever and needed to be picked up. By the time I called Atomic, he had already taken the bus halfway across town, picked her up, and tucked her into bed for a much needed nap.

I then made the innocent mistake of walking away from my desk for just a minute to attend to another one of the aforementioned necessities. When I returned, there was a message from my son's daycare saying that he, too, needed to be picked up due to fever and vomiting, thankyouverymuch. As I grabbed for the phone it rang -- dear, reliable Atomic again. He was on his way to pick up Dylan on foot while his guitar student (an old friend and father of two) hung out on our couch watching "Wonder Pets" with Gabby.

Half an hour later I screeched into the garage, grabbed the bottles of Pedialyte and jars of applesauce I'd purchased on the way home, and flew up the stairs.

"Hi, Mommy!" shouted my apparently unperturbed, fever-free darling. "We're playing dress-up. Dylan is Cinderella, I'm Rudolph, and you can be the Big Bad Wolf, okay?"

"App-pull!" added my content, non-barfing boy. "Bubb-bull!"

For the rest of the afternoon I multitasked, which was made easier by the fact that the role of the Big Bad Wolf was appropriate both for Gabby's dress-up game and the rapid-fire emails I was exchanging with opposing counsel. Although I can't recall specifically, I'm pretty sure I stopped short of threatening to huff and puff and blow his case down.

I saved that for the following day.

The rest of the week was a blur, punctuated by recurrent stomach ailments, looming (and, fortunately, postponed) deadlines, general whining (my own, mostly), moments of delight, that bzzbzzbzz noise my phone makes which I swear gets more insistent sounding when someone is really trying hard to reach me, and oh yeah, Atomic's birthday.

Mama said there'd be days like this . . . no, actually, she didn't.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Binky's Guide To Parenting

In the past few days, I have been inundated with links to this article in the Wall Street Journal. A "must read," according to the conventional wisdom.

If opinions are like assholes, then surely parenting advice is akin to what issues from those ubiquitous orifices. And apparently owning one of said orifices is the only necessary qualification for writing a parenting book or article. So, I've decided to write my own. Here's an abstract, for those of you who want to get an exclusive sneak peek before publication:

Kids today are not being raised right.

• Just yesterday, I saw a toddler having a tantrum in a public place.

• Someone my cousin knows – we'll call him "Johnny" – had to go to community college instead of real college (or maybe it was a public university, one of those with the word "state" in the title – I forget) because his parents, lamentably, simply did not place enough emphasis on his education.

• Also, there's a lot of crime and stuff.

Research [1] has shown that when kids turn out wrong, it's their parents' fault.

Are you worried that your kids will turn out all messed up? You should be. If you're not, they will definitely turn out all messed up. So here are my simple rules for ensuring that your kid will not turn out all messed up:

1. No children's programming on TV, ever. Period. End of story. Reruns of Matlock and Murder She Wrote are fine.

Why? Studies[2] show a high correlation between viewing Matlock and Murder She Wrote and not being either a community college student or incarcerated.

2. Feed your children only circular or cylindrical food. (E.g., Cheerios, pancakes, logs of chevre, burgers)

Why? Because I said so. Now shut up and eat your Chevre McMuffin.

3. Sleep is a privilege, not a right. Before letting their sweet little heads hit the pillow, why not require them to calculate pi to twenty or so decimal places, or compose a short sonata?

Why? Studies have shown that sleep deprivation is a powerful motivator. If you miss this opportunity to motivate your children to hit important academic milestones, you are a lazy mother.

4. The only acceptable extracurricular activities are Spanish Club and clown school.

Why? Because other kids will beat your kids up if they join the Chess Club, Spanish is a useful language to know, and clown school may come in handy if your child does end up like Johnny (see above).

5. All petitions for an allowance, requests to exceed curfew, and other applications for variances of house rules must be submitted in Latin (or Pig Latin, for children under age three), on legal-size paper, in green ink, and notarized.

Why? I think this one is self-explanatory.

The rest of the book will be filled with mildly humorous (or deadly serious) anecdotes that illustrate nothing whatsoever.

Conclusion: All you have to do is follow these simple rules and your kid will absolutely not turn out all messed up. And remember -- if your kid does turn out all messed up, it's because you applied the rules wrong. So it's still your fault. Sorry.

[1] Just Google "research parents' fault" -- you'll see. Also, I read several parenting books and they all agree.
[2] My own carefully conducted research, which included reviewing the Tivo playlists of my parents, my inlaws, and some of their friends.