The family across the street was even worse, and you could hear the screams of the four daughters every morning before school. The father was a short drunk construction worker who was angry he didn't have any sons and the wife was so beaten down by life that she just accepted the way things were and never fought for her little girls. I once saw him hold a gun to the wife's head and demand sex. Our bedroom windows were only about thirty feet apart and neither one of us ever closed the curtains.
Once a week I would call children's services and sometimes the police on these two families, but nothing ever came of my complaints.
The other next-door neighbors were practically running a flop house. The people who lived there would throw their trash in our yard and I would go out there every day after work and throw it right back over the fence. They repaid me by shooting up on my front steps.
But, this was a good neighborhood full of good (read:white) people. Just ask the neighbors who thought all white people were good people.
When we first moved in Dave and I were 23 years old and in our second year of law/grad school. After a few months some of The Wives on the street were so overcome by their "newsieness" (that's South Phillese for "being nosy") that they broke down and started asking me questions about us. A few of them mentioned that they saw Dave at the Court House when they were there supporting their husbands and said that they hoped he had a good lawyer and he wouldn't have to go away for too long or pay too much in fines. I delicately explained to each of them that Dave was there for work, that he was in school and was working for the DA. Some of them walked away and never spoke to me again, some asked for his card, and one told me how lucky I was to be married to a man who wore a suit to work.
One day about a year after we moved in, I heard a knock at the door. All of The Wives on the street had brought me a cake. A little late for a housewarming, I assumed they were just being newsy and wanted to take a peek in my house. I didn't let them in, telling them I was on my way out, but thanked them for the cake. BleachBlondeBonnie, the lady two doors down with four boys, stepped forward and said "We are so sorry that you and your husband aren't able to have children but we are glad you chose to live on such a nice family-oriented street anyway. It is a good thing that your husband is going to college and that you are going back to get your GED. It is important for women who aren't blessed with children to have an education and a little job somewhere".
I didn't know what to say. I said thank you, but we have never tried to have children before. I explained that I was in graduate school and asked if they wanted their cake back. Ro, the battered wife across the street said "if you already graduated, why are you in school?" as she took the cake back. Betty, the old lady who lived three doors west of us said "and to think I organized this for nothing!" and stomped back to her house. I knew that Betty wasn't able to have children, and she must have thought that if someone gave her an Infertility Cake somewhere down the line her life wouldn't have turned out so sucky. Rita from a few doors down and across the street said "never tried! Aren't you about 19 or 20 years old? Time is running out, sweetheart. I hope you aren't using those birth control methods." And with that, she rubbed the Jesus that lived around her neck and walked away. Probably mad that she didn't get any cake, that fat thing.
Most of The Wives stopped talking to me after that, but a few would say hello and ask how I was if we were all alone on the street. Bonnie stopped me once and told me in the lowest voice possible that she would give anything to leave her house to meet her girlfriends at 9 o'clock at night and with eye make-up on. Michelle saw me in town one day when I was with my friend Charlie, and whispered to me that I didn't need to worry, she wouldn't tell anyone at home that I was walking down the street with what she called "a colored man".
The guy who ran the store on 18th Street asked me if I was in night school since he saw me with a book bag a few nights a week, and told me that his daughter just went back to high school after dropping out too, and maybe I could help her with her studies.
Everyone on the street wanted us to buy the house we were renting because they wanted to make sure that the neighborhood would remain stable (read again:white).
When we packed up and moved downtown, the neighbors were sure that we were going to die in horrific ways at the hands of hideous villains. Downtown is so dangerous and scary and off limits to so many of the good people of South Philadelphia. Only whores and drug-addicts and suburbanites are crazy enough to go north of Washington Ave. The Wives were appalled that Dave would let me (or make me- which was it? they wondered) go to school and work there, and felt so bad for me that he was making me move there so he could be closer to his job.
Because at the end of the day, all Good Wives should be kept within the 1914x zip codes and chained to the kitchen and punched in the face and be kept pregnant and teach their daughters to do the same and never should they ever exposed to the dastardliness of the man's world uptown.
I dug into the skin on my chest, neck, and arms with my fingernails and called the nurse on duty crying and pleading for help, a can of bug spray, a new bed, and an exterminator. It was either late at night or early in the morning and I was all alone in my dark room and my glasses and light switch were out of reach. It was the worst experience of my whole entire life involving illicit substances.
The nurse gave me some Benedryl and a shot of "something to calm me down" and tried to reason with the unreasonable about what was actually happening in my body (allergies, not flesh-eating microscopic bugs). I couldn't breath well enough to listen to her.
When I woke up from my coma I saw the red lines on my chest and cried because I thought they were new stretch marks. And then I remembered what actually happened and I cried because I thought I was a junkie. Then I cried because they moved a real-live junkie into my room while I was sleeping and she and her junkie baby were in my room with me and my baby. Then I just cried.
I requested that no morphine be injected into my body after my face is cut off next month. I think that it is best for all involved.
I have a cabinet full of Jake's food that is stocked with canned stuff and fruit cups and apple sauce and dried lentils and store-bought soups just in case there is ever some sort of emergency that would render me unable to get to the store for seven years. Jake's cabinet looks like this (the tonic water is mine. If there is ever some sort of emergency where I can't get out of the house I'm gonna need that damned tonic):
I also like to keep my kitchen table neat. We don't eat here as a family, but if I'm eating alone I like to eat here. It seems much less depressing to eat where there is only one chair than to look at an empty chair where my husband or a guest should be. And way less depressing than laying on the couch with a plate on a pillow and that pillow on my gut and my head turned toward the television as I shovel food into my face.
The rest of my cabinets are just a big jumble of food that takes years to perish because it will take that long for me to cook it and some dishes in there. I'm a closet slob. A cabinet slob. I don't keep much in the fridge because I might freak out if something nears its expiration date. Once a day I check and double check all dates. I'm afraid of anything that needs a date stamped on it. I eat a lot of packaged nutrition stuff like Carnation Instant Breakfast and energy bars because I know it is safer and probably isn't teeming with salmonella and insects.
If it makes you feel better and more secure in my mental illness, this cabinet is arranged by a system that I would rather not tell you about. Maybe some day, when I'm ready. I know where everything is in there, I know what everything is in there, and I know when it goes bad. Plus the Jesus lives in there.
I love pasta. Pasta loves me. We spend lots of time together.
I like my bananas giraffey.
Sadly, this is not a top view of my pots and pans. They really are just tossed in there. I have to do it really quick and then lock it up because Jake loves pots and pans and I hate the noise he makes with them.
This is the everyday food cabinet where I keep my allergy and arthritis drugs and my vat of peanut butter and my Slinky and Dave's clams and other gross stuff he eats. I just bought that canned chicken breast for Jake. I figure he eats fish out of a can, so why not chicken. He likes it and I can't stand to touch it raw so we all win with convenience food. You won't catch me with any of that crap in my mouth, though. I am above canned meats.
This used to be in order until I had to keep sippy cups and small plastic containers in there. It makes me sick. I can't wait until we don't need that baby garbage anymore. I want to puke when I look in here. I can hardly look at this picture without gagging. The way that there are about five different kinds of plates and all those little piles of stuff. I shudder.
We set our fridge temp to "body parts" so little human hands stay fresh.
There is always at least four pounds of cheese in my house. I don't like it when Dave eats Jake's cheese because it isn't for Dave. It's for Jake. And I only bought 90 string cheeses at BJ's last week. Dave has his own cheese and it smells like feet. No one else touches Dave's cheese so Dave should not touch anyone else's cheese. Dave.
I should have deleted this picture. How gross is that spot? I think it is Irish Cream. I hope it is Irish Cream.
I use my crisper for beer. I hate cold fruit. We don't drink Corona much, which is why there is so much of it. I like Miller Lite (my beer of mass consumption) and Guiness, Murphy's, or Smithwick's (for when I'm just having one or two). Dave likes Yuengling, I guess. I don't know what Dave likes. I focus on what I like. And Jake. Dave fends for himself. I like whiskey the most. Jake likes milk,especially if I shake up a YoBaby or some Carnation Instant Breakfast in there for him, which I do all the time because I'm nice and nutritionally insane and I think he could use the extra fortification.
There are two homemade crabcakes on that plate. Don't judge me because I stock up twice as much vodka sauce as I do alfredo and arribiata. I keep my generic Metamucil in the fridge because I think it is funny and no one likes to mention it when they go in there to grab a beer. Ricotta cheese is good on everything. Everything.
My freezer is full of Morning Star Farms veggie products and babies and frozen veggies. There is some meat in there too, but it probably has been there forever. I remember moving meat from our apartment to our house two years ago and I don't remember doing anything with it since. I don't like to cook it, and when I do, I usually stop at the market and buy fresh. I'm waiting for Jake to stick to the shelf in the freezer. It happens to me every time I dare stick my hand in there when it is wet.
Now show me yours.
After the concert last week, Dave and I drove through the little Asian pocket of South Philly and I commented on how many small children and babies were outside on front steps and street corners (at 11 o'clock at night, mind you). I wasn't even totally comfortable driving across Ritner Street for a few blocks, and here were these mothers, allowing their kids to run rampant in a crappy section of town. And it has nothing to do with Asians, everyone does it. Doesn't matter where you are from or what color your skin is in this town, it seems like no one puts their kids to bed ever around here. Dave said something to the effect that this is these people's lives and that's what they know and how they do things, and they probably aren't thinking of gunshots and stab wounds and drug deals gone bad and turf wars. Are there still turf wars? They seem to have gone the way of choreographed fighting and singing about kissing Maria and when you're a Jet you're a Jet stuff. Whatever. Get your babies in the house. Especially those 18-24 year-old babies. They seem to be the ones causing the problems for the rest of us.
This morning on the way to work we talked about the fact that these murders just aren't getting any better. In my slightly-educated and highly-experienced socio-economical opinion, I attribute it to the fact that housing here sucks and our utility rates are astronomical and there is nothing to do unless you have $100 to drop on museums or a game or the movies or whatever and no one has $100 to drop on anything. No matter what you do, it's going to cost. There aren't too many free or low cost things to do here. I know people who live without plumbing and who can't use their upstairs because there is literally no roof or they can't go in their kitchen because there is a hole all the way to their basement and there just isn't anywhere else for them to go. The City doesn't have any more subsidized housing available, and the wait list is so long that a homeless pregnant woman probably won't be eligible for an apartment by the time her name is at the top of the list because that baby will be 18. Unless she just keeps having kids of course. Then she'll be fine. Back in the days when I was highly-educated and slightly-experienced and dedicated to the cause and innovative and creative and in grad school studying Criminal Justice and Urban Studies, I wrote a big long paper on Relative Deprivation and how it ties in with Gentrification and the time-space continuum and opportunities for crime and deviance and lack of constructive supervised activities and sub-cultures of violence and crime mapping and social disorganization and all this real good stuff that runs through my head every day if I'm not talking out loud to squash the voices in my brain.
Basically I wrote that if you feel like you aren't getting what you deserve you get really super angry and take it out on other people when your mom and the police aren't watching but your friends are and your brain tells you that violence is okay because you allow yourself to be wrapped up in the glamour and street mentality that you see on television and listen to on the radio and hear your peers talking about. Add to that the age of the children and young adults that are committing these violent acts and their low levels of maturity and high levels of impulsivity due to poor parenting, substance use and abuse, and "faulty" brain wiring from a lack of nurture, nutrition, and education and you have a big mess. I wish I could find the disc that holds that paper. And a piece of old technology that would allow me to open that document and email it to my new space-aged computer that I don't really know how to use so I can read it and relate it all to what is going on these days. If nothing else, I would feel super intelligent and socially-minded again. I think that part of my brain has rotted.
People ask why I still live here. I've written before that my family isn't in the demographic that should be worried. My neighborhood is nice enough and my office and my social life are both in very safe areas. When I'm in the field for work, I generally feel okay, and the sites that I visit are usually right along a bus line or easily accessible from a train. It's mostly all good. On top of all that, I like it here because Dave and I are considered rich kids in this town, where the per capita income is something like $17,000. That's about how much we pay for our daycare and student loans every year. Our daughter Sallie Mae is really high maintenance and expensive. Have you met her? She hangs all over our walls and infiltrates our brains and drains our bank account.
I went to Dave's baseball game out in the middle of Crap Jersey (in a town where the per capita income is $32,000 btw) yesterday. It is a beautiful park with an amazing playground and fantastic ball fields and a wooded trail and a lake with ducks and geese and a grassy knoll with bunnies and squirrels and bumblebees and robins. The two or three times I've gone there I've taken Jake to the playground and I'm completely creeped out because no one else is there. Playgrounds in the city have tons of moms and a million kids and sometimes police officers and groundskeepers. I feel safe and surrounded and happy to let Jake run amok. Playgrounds in the suburbs are desolate and I feel like there is an old man hiding somewhere with his pants around his ankles. You won't catch me in those woods either, where I'm sure that some maniac who slipped through the suburban mental health system because there are so very few resources out there has broken out of his mother's basement (or killed her to get out of the house) is lurking, just waiting to put me in a pit and throw lotion and baskets at me and feed me small pieces of meat that I later find out was Jake. Cause it happens all the time, right?
I'm staying right here where there are 11,233.6 very nosey people who can't keep their eyes off me and my business per square mile, thank you. I need a lot of people looking out for me to feel safe. In the town where the ballpark is there are only 1,844.3 people per square mile. And apparently they all stay in their houses and don't give a damn about me and my brat.
Which is strange, because we are kinda the center of the world and all.
Seriously, it was great. We saw your mom, and your fourth grade teacher, and a few dads with hats identifying them as little league coaches. Oh, and that lady down the street and her "friend" or her "roommate" or whatever they are calling each other these days. There were a lot of cut-off jean shorts and ripped Budweiser tees that showed a lot of midriffs. And that was just the men.
Dave and I got there when the doors opened and secured ourselves a spot behind Section 124, right behind home plate, smack in front of the stage, which was out in center field. Our $90 seats were complete nosebleed so I'm guessing we stood behind people who paid at least $150. Suckers.
The first opening band was FictionPlane. Thumbs down. It was new rock for old people. Yeah, so, um, they kinda went over pretty well there. The dads rocked out. Then, miracle of all miracles, the Fratellis came on. Bonus! I had no idea they were on the bill. I love them. You check them. They almost fill that gaping hole in my heart that Ray Davies put there decades ago. Almost. I love you Ray. The Police went on at 8:45 as scheduled and snowed us with smoke machines and totally 80's light shows and their old songs and now I'm trying my best not to sing to Roxanne in Quality Assurance about red lights and that dress.
And that Sting! Mygod, he went on for hours without stopping.
There was a washer and dryer in the basement, right next to our storage closet where our camping and Christmas stuff was crammed. Our neighbors were lawyers and doctors and Indian chiefs (dots, not feathers. It's Philadelphia.).
We had lots of friends and good jobs three blocks away from home and a couple of really expensive pieces of paper on the wall and ate good food that we didn't cook and drank great beers in better places with our best friends. I sat on the Board of a do-good agency and we were helping a friend set up his own non-profit. We went on nice vacations and our credit cards were paid off and we didn't have a car or a need for one. Dave didn't even have a license to drive. Who needs that when you have SEPTA and taxis and bikes and your own two feet and friends with cars? Not us. We were the awesomest. Our life was the awesomest. We didn't really want it to change, but we felt like if we just kept living like that we might find ourselves in a rut and we would surely turn into 40 year olds living like 25 year olds and then 50 year olds living like 25 year olds and then it would get progressively worse and that is just annoying. So we decided to look into buying a house.
I found us the world's most perfect inner-city rowhouse/farmhouse in Manayunk. It had a big grassy backyard, and a picket fence, beautiful pine floors and solid oak doors with glass handles, a huge country kitchen with a lot of cabinets and a sink you could wash your mother in, a dining room with built in shelves and buffets, a small first-floor bathroom that looked like it came right out of a storybook if storybooks had bathrooms, a sunny living room, stairs between the living and dining rooms that led to the second floor where there was a huge office with a glass wall and a sliding door that lead out to a deck overlooking Center City and a giant bathroom with a claw-footed tub (I just typo-ed "club-footed lion". My brain is screwy sometimes) and original tile and a walk-in closet and more stairs that led from the office to a three bedroom loft on the third floor. It was everything that I ever wanted in a house. Except for a garage. And a basement that had more than old bricks and tree roots for a floor and packed soil for walls. But this is Philadelphia, where a finished basement means that someone laid some planks down so you don't have to walk through mud to get to your laundry when it rains and that same guy was nice enough to string up some chicken wire across your muddy walls so the beasts don't tunnel in. You say "basement", we say "one step above a root cellar", especially up in that part of the city. The house was going for the low, low price of $179,000 so we bid $185K immediately. Dave never even saw the house. It was that fantastic.
No one got back to us for a few days about the bid, and no one seemed to be able to find the family. Mom and Dad didn't go to work, and the kids hadn't been seen in camp. More people bid, and the price got higher. We stopped at $197K ten days after our original bid. I guessed that the family was dead and the closing process would be grueling and I didn't want to be house poor so I gave up. And cried. A lot. In public.
The house ended up going for $265,000 two days after we lost the bidding. The family was on vacation because they didn't think their house would sell so quickly and they needed some together time before the madness began. Whatever. I hope that the family that bought the house is healthy and happy.
And having a lot of plumbing problems. Or maybe some faulty wiring. Or at least a bad neighbor. Barking dog? A runny nose?
Anything. I hate them.
He's up to the usual tricks, running amok and stomping on things and kissing the cats just a bit too hard. Jake eats everything, but we try to keep him away from sugar and too much processed foods. Sometimes you need to trade convenience for healthy living though. It's a fact of life.
We are working a little bit each day on colors and letters and shapes, and Jake gets really excited when I pull the "school" stuff out and lay everything on the kitchen floor after dinner.
Because it's sometimes all about me, I am really glad that Jake can tell us what he wants in actual words instead of listening to him scream at the top of his lungs and making me lose my effing shiz. I tell people that the only reason Jake can say so much is because I wasn't born with the gene that allows moms to understand a baby's cries. When Jake was a baby baby and he started to cry, I'd check his diaper. If that was clean, I'd try nursing him. If that didn't work I would walk him around the house a few times. If he was still crying, I'd just let him suss out whatever was bothering him all by himself in the swing or in the bassinet. Sometimes I would feel bad about doing that, but most times I felt okay. And because Jake wanted lots of stuff, he just figured out how to get it a little earlier than his cohorts. Sometimes mediocre parenting works to your advantage.
I know I have been a bad blogger. They are making me do actual work at work, and there isn't much me-time at home. Which is a whole nother post. A real good one about how I'm losing my grip, inch by inch. It will be just like the olden days when I talked myself off the edge by blogging and you all tuned in to witness the train wreck.
I have been working diligently on the letters A, B, C, and D with Jake and have been putting stars and circles on everything. He is good with the letters and great with stars. Circles just don't hold his interest. At first I thought this might be a bit beyond what a baby is capable of, but it kept us both busy and provided some quality together time. Plus all the e-baby sites swear that you can never do this stuff too early. Anything to promote his brain growth and my sanity.
Jake slept at his aunt's on Sunday night. As soon as we got there he ran to her television cabinet, pulled out a set of colored coasters, and began throwing them as he called the names of the colors. Impressive! She said she has been working with him on colors since about five months and he finally got it. I never really listen to him when he is playing with his crayons since I just shove him in the corner with them and I try to get something done. Yesterday I sat with him and heard him say "purpur" as he dropped the purple one in the box, then "boo", and "grin".
Try it with your smartkid. You'll be shocked what these little ones can do.
One thing down, two to go.
Of course Jake is the most wonderful cutest smartest baby ever, but Jake has taken to being horrid and throwing tantrums when he doesn't get his way. Ignoring them works, but it sure can be difficult to do when he is ten tantrums deep into the day. We don't touch him or talk to him or even look at him when his temper flares, and we certainly don't give him what he wants. He throws himself on his knees, cries for a minute or so, and then looks at you with giant tears in his eyes and screams "PLEASE?!?!". And then we turn away and laugh at him behind his back for being so pathetic and turn back around and suggest that he get a book or take a drink of water or start breathing again or do something equally as constructive.
I try to keep any thing that Jake isn't allowed to have out of his sight and his reach. Phones, cups, sunglasses, pens, and remotes are his favorite things. Unfortunately we have them all over the house and it is really a task to keep them up. Dave locks his telephone keys and lets Jake play with it. I am too much of a tech-tard to figure out how to lock mine so I keep it in my pocket. Jake still gets his hands on it and calls everyone, which reminds me I really have to edit my contacts. Jake freaks if his blood sugar dips below fully-saturated, so I keep pieces of cheese and fruit and graham crackers on the radiator cover in the kitchen and on the dining room chairs so there is a full buffet whenever Jake is amok. Other than that, he is still a pretty good baby so I guess we'll keep him awhile longer.
Keeping the house from becoming a trash pile while keeping Jake from becoming a complete menace is becoming increasingly difficult. Now that his attention span has shortened to about a nano-second, I can't give him a spoon and a lid and expect him to sit and figure out what the hell a spoon and a lid is for while I get a load of clothes put in or a sinkful of dishes scrubbed. I just run after him and pick up what ever it is that he decided to throw last while I watch him kick the next thing across the floor. It's rough.
There are very few times that I wish I had a backyard or playroom, but sometimes I think my life would be just a bit easier if I could toss the kid out the door and into a play yard and watch him from the window while I got some work done. Instead I have to either trip over him or cart him to a park where he can wear himself out substantially so he will sit still for five minutes when we get home so I can get the floor swept. It's a lot of effort to get a little work done around the house.
I think I'm going to buy one of those big tarpy floor mats and start investing in (edible, just in case) paste and let him stick cheerios and puffed wheat and other crap to construction paper. And then I'll send it to you and you can put it up on your fridge because people like you love stuff like that. Maybe I'll even allow him some stickers, and I'll start printing those toddler coloring pages off the free teaching sites on the Internet. I think that will keep him entertained for a few minutes at a time while I pick his books up off the floor and chisel the cheese and pasta off the side of the credenza. If Jake practices with crafts now, maybe by the time it's cold outside he will be so talented at it and love it so much that I won't have to worry about the fact that he will be bolted in the house all day long with no room to run. And if he is bolted in the house all day long, I'm bolted in the house all day long. Goodlord, I'm gonna need some damned glitter. And fast.
I've turned my phone off because I'm waiting for a call from Blue Cross Blue Shield telling me that they are cancelling my policy and changing their name and telephone number and relocating their offices so I can't track them down.
The good news is that I feel effing great.
Everything looks okay, and they sent me on my way with a patient information packet which I looked over this afternoon instead of doing any real work. Inside the folder was a sheet of paper that told me that I can't eat after 11pm on the 9th and I have to stop taking my medication on July 27th and that I should be extra careful not to get pregnant between now and then or else I would have to sell the baby to the hospital for research or cloning or something.
Tucked behind the liability forms that I signed without reading was a brochure assuring me that there would be a chaplain by my bedside in case I died on Jefferson's watch and there are counseling services available in the off-chance that I become addicted to the pain meds that they will give me but I'll be too scared to take because I've seen too many people get hooked on prescription drugs.
I have a placard with passages from the Bible, quotes from the Koran, old Sanskrit Proverbs, readings from the Haneshama Prayerbook, The Four Brahamaviharas, and the Serenity Prayer. (read: Every time I see that Serenity Prayer I think of Serenity undergarments and a bunch of old ladies in a circle chanting, "God, grant me the serenity to accept the fact that I cannot stop peeing my pants, the courage to change my pants, and the wisdom to know when my pants need changed". That's the kind of stuff that goes on in my head when I'm all by myself in aisle 5 of the Walgreens.)
Nestled behind all that is a big fat book about Living Wills and Durable Powers of Attorney and Advance Directives which serves as a glaring reminder that I have a baby now and maybe my attitude about letting me go when it is my time is a little bit selfish and maybe some medical intervention is called for in certain situations and not everyone who dies just a little bit ends up all ugly and curled up and creepy looking like Terri "kill me now to keep what little bit of dignity I have left intact" Schiavo.
I always said that when it is your time to go it is your time to go and there isn't anything that you or anyone else should do about it, provided you are an adult and you are capable of making that decision. Resuscitation is for children and people who are afraid to die, says I. Now I'm not so sure. Maybe resuscitation is for children and people who take care of those children and people who are afraid to die. I think my new outlook is that if the doctors think that I have a shot at pulling me out of death's doorway with a reasonable chance at a normal life they can do what it takes to keep me breathing.
As long as I won't end up all ugly and curled up and creepy looking. Everyone who has ever been in the seventh grade knows that a dead mom is like sooo much way less embarrassing and like, traumaticalizing, than a butt-ugly mom.
And I only want what is best for Jake.
We are using a text in which I am finding great comfort (read: I might be normal after all!!), and I wanted to pass it along to you. The book is called Growing Up Again and it is geared toward parents who weren't fortunate to have moms and dads who subscribed to the June and Ward Method of Parenting. I haven't read the whole thing so I can't tout this as my new gospel, but I do like the fact that it guides parents along while respecting the need for parents to take care of themselves and to meet their own needs so that they can care for and meet their children's needs. I don't know about you, but I'm all about catering to my inner child.
There is a section near the back that addresses ages and stages of children, and tells parents what to do to foster development during these milestones. Good enough, right? Sure, but the book goes on to describe some behaviors and feelings that parents may exhibit or experience that indicates that their needs weren't fully met when they were little, and what can be done to fill that void. For example, you may feel compulsive, reluctant, depressed, indulgent, selfish, untrusting, and so forth, and you can try taking baths with a full belly, eating comfort foods, rocking in a chair, taking naps with a sheet over your face, spending (non-sexy) heart-to-heart time with someone you trust, and so on to help you feel better. And of course they include the caveat of seeking therapy if necessary. Sounds good to me. Cheesy and corny, sure. But good.
Now if I can only find the time to curl up to nap in the tub with a sheet over my head and a feedbag of mashed potatoes strapped to my face and a white noise machine by my side. I'd be the sanest girl ever.
By the time the last firework had worked and the last of the burgers was washed down with a lukewarm beer and the lights went out all over town, Jake was Jake. If you've heard the terribly unromantic story about how Jake came to be you are probably giggling now. If you haven't, consider yourself lucky. It's kinda crass and there is a lot of whiskey and swearing involved in the telling and you might feel a little uncomfortable by midway through if you are a nice upstanding god fearing person.
Have fun today. Eat a few dogs, try just a bit of all the macaroni and potato salads, light a few sparklers, croquet a few mallets, lawn a few darts, toss a few horseshoes, shuttle a few cocks (!), let your thighs stick to some lawn chairs, get a little sunburn, wear elastic waisted eatin' shorts, and feel free to lick bbq off your fingers. There are no manners on patriotic holidays. Just don't drink too much or you might make a baby. Or drink too much because you might make a baby. I'll keep my fingers crossed that you get what you want.
It's not surprising that a large number of myths have arisen regarding the unique challenges associated with pregnancy.
Dr. Robert H. Shmerling, a physician at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and a member of the faculty at Harvard Medical School, has unearthed the following sample of 12 pregnancy myths that he says can be safely ignored. I've never heard of any of these myths; but then, I've never been pregnant.
The worse your morning sickness, the more likely you are to have a girl.
I never had morning sickness. I puked once while pregnant, and it was definitely not in the morning. Jake is a boy.
If you raise your arms above your head while pregnant (as when hanging up clothes on a clothesline), the baby will get the cord wrapped around its neck.
I painted two ceilings when I was pregnant. And I keep all my favorite snacks on a shelf that my husband isn't tall enough to reach, and my greedy hands were always rooting around up there for a bite. I never hang clothes, but if I did I still think I'd be fine. Jake's cord was not wrapped around his neck.
If you get a lot of heartburn during pregnancy, your baby will have a thick head of hair.
Water gave me heartburn. Swallowing my own spit gave me heartburn. Breathing gave me heartburn. I gave birth to a monkey.
Avoid sleeping on your back; or, always sleep on your left side.
I slept on my back until 7 months. Then my belly compressed my lungs and I got lightheaded and woozy anytime I tried to. So I turned over. I read somewhere that the left side sleeping thing was never tested on humans, only sheep. I didn't heed this warning.
To keep your unborn child safe, avoid sex and exercise during pregnancy.
I went to the gym four or five days a week, walked everywhere, and did tons of sit ups until I was six months in because I was afraid of a mommy-belly after Jake was born. I wasn't allowed to have sex when I was pregnant. It was torture. I don't want to talk about it ever again.
You should not touch a cat while pregnant. Women are indeed advised not to handle their cat's litter while pregnant because a cat's stool may carry a parasite that can cause toxoplasmosis, a serious infection in the mother and a possible cause of deformities in the fetus. However, other activities, such as petting your cat or allowing it to sit on your lap, are not prohibited. If you want complete peace of mind about this, you can have your cat tested for toxoplasmosis.
I made out with Tyler all day and all night. I needed to get some action from somewhere. In theory, it was Dave's job to clean the box while I was pregnant. In theory.
If you are pregnant, you cannot have x-rays and should avoid microwaves and computer terminals. Excessive or needless radiation should always be avoided, pregnant or not, but you should follow your doctor's recommendations for x-rays that are necessary. Modern microwave ovens and computer terminals do not expose the fetus to harmful radiation.
I did try to stay away from my microwave because it was produced in the early nineties and I'm too cheap to buy a new one. I stayed glued to my computer, blogging about every damned thing that every happened to me when I was pregnant.
Don't take a bath if you are pregnant.
I don't wash myself now.
If the weather is stormy or the moon is full, you are more likely to go into labor, even if you are weeks away from your due date.
When I went to the Labor and Delivery ward, it was packed solid. My doctor, the nurses, and the doctor that finally delivered my baby days later all apologized that I had to wait for anything, blaming it on the full moon. Maybe I should change doctors.
Avoid spicy foods — they can trigger labor before you are ready.
I can't vouch for this, since by the time I was anywhere near the point where labor started I couldn't eat a spice if I tried. I would have gone down in flames.
Avoid bumpy car rides — they can trigger labor; or, labor can be triggered by being bumped in the abdomen or by lifting groceries.
I was the queen of taking the bumpiest path possible whenever I drove after eight months because I was ready to get that brat out. Bumps in the car and to the belly definitely caused some contractions a few times, but nothing productive enough for me to get my way. I lifted everything when I was pregnant, much to the chagrin of all the old ladies on my street who base their medical knowledge on Voodoo and hearsay. There is nothing worse than wrestling a five pound jar of peanut butter away from a senior citizen.
You can determine your baby's gender by the position of sexual intercourse when the baby was conceived, and by how your baby is situated in the womb.
I don't want to let out all my secret boudoir behaviours, but lets just say that I know when I got pregnant, I know how I was doing it, and doing it like that is supposed to be a surefire way to get a boy.
I think he is forgetting his other words. It seems like ninety percent of his day is taken up by turning things on and yelling "ON!" then turning it off and screaming "OFF!". Lifting things UP! Putting them DOWN! All doors fly OPEN! and then slam CLOSE! It's crazy. Jake needs a new hobby.
The kid has a killer vocab, and I was really impressed that everyone we went to the beach with this weekend was actually able to understand my monster. Of course everyone got a kick out of his lack of "L" in clock, the dropped "R" in shirt, and the difficulty with the "ae" sound in beach. Jake owes like a million bucks to his swear jar.
The other day I was speaking with a colleague who has a three year old who only says a few words, and she is at wit's end because she can't understand what the brat wants, what is wrong, what is right, what is what. I'd die. Being a mom is hard, thankfully I have a pretty easy kid to help me along. He's up to about 40 words, and maybe five of those only make sense to Dave and I. Favorites are:
nap (Jake actually asks to go up to bed when he is tired. Let's see how long that lasts)
touch (more often we get a "don't touch!")
Any guess where Jake gets his chattiness from? Overdeveloped little freak.