Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Let it Whiz

 “Aw your kids are adorable,” the woman in the check out line ahead of me said while Smirker grabbed the egg carton and Love Monster was trying to scan her hand.
 “Thanks,” I said. “Stop it!” I snap at Love Monster. 
 I have zero patience these days. I’m in a weird and potentially bad parenting zone. I find myself rushing constantly. Not paying attention. I never have time. When will I have time? And of course I’m in the line with the cashier with only one arm.
 “I remember when my kids were that young. Seems like yesterday,” the nice woman says. To which my brain replies. You’re like fucking 80. Shut up.
 I’m a bitch. Damn. But I will give myself a break. I’m in the hard part. Well, one of the hard parts when it comes to parenting. Those years before school gets them a major part of your day. The part where they are completely dependent on you and even if they want to be independent they probably shouldn’t be because that’s when they get themselves run over by cars or decide to paint the area rug.
 “You won’t believe how fast the time goes. You will miss it,” the woman said as she walked away.
 Really? Because I’m dying for this part to be over. No one tells you how draining it will be and not just those first few sleepless newborn months, but for years upon years. This isn’t the first time I’ve heard what this woman said. You’ll miss it. They all say. I know I will. But I still want it to be over. Let it whiz man. 
 If a man walked in and robbed the place right now. I swear this would be my reaction:
 Man walks in and says “Stick em up this is a robbery” (I’m going classic robber here).
 Everyone falls to the floor scared out of their minds.
 I will completely lose it and say, “Don’t fuck with me! My baby pissed on my shoes and the other one put my blackberry in the toilet. And that’s just today. I do not need this!”
 I’d glance at my kids and say, “They will take you down. Look at me.”
 Smirker probably will start laughing and Love Monster might say something about how she thinks his mask is cool. 
 The robber will be so shocked (and appalled by my frumpy mom outfit) that he leaves. If I had the where with all I would add, “And you’re a dumb ass for robbing a grocery store.”
 Does this tell you about the sort of weird mom-centric zone that I’m in? How do I get out? The only way I can see is this 
mythical “whizzing by” that everyone seems to be referring to but that I am not at all feeling.

 I finally got out of that store and restrained the children nicely in their seats.
 When we got home, I collapsed on the couch and nap time whizzed by just to fuck with me I’m sure. I swear as soon as my butt touched cushion two hours elapsed.
 Creak. Love Monster’s door opened.
 “Mama?” She said sweetly.
 I try not to show my excitement. I am about to witness the “beautiful nap haze” that happens with toddlers only on rare 
occasions and must be treated delicately.
 Love Monster wanders out of her room like she is walking on clouds. Her face looks completely different. Relaxed. Wise. I 
sat still not making too much eye contact. I didn’t want to disturb the Chi. I wish I could bottle up that time. She curled up next to me and began.
 “You will be beautiful if I give you a crayon. You will be beautiful if I give you a smile. Like this.” Then she smiled a smile I 
never seen before or since.
 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is on the television. She looks at it.
 “I'd like to Aunt Viv, really. But it's hard to get my groove on with an old woman.” Will Smith says.
 She repeats this in gibberish but the inflection is perfect. I’m convinced she spoke the language of some parallel universe. She sat on my lap facing me. She leaned in as close to my face and possible all mystical like. She gently holds my face in 
her hands. The answer is here I think.
 “Look inside Mama,” she whispered. “I will always be there.”
 I realized I have to hang on to every second of this. You hear crazy things on the news all the time. Lives cut short... I take 
this for granted.
 “You make me so happy Mama.” She said and then in the same breath, “I’m gonna use boogies instead of glue in my next craft.”
 Love Monster ran to her room and slammed the door. “I need to be alone! Don’t come in here!”
 And with that the “beautiful nap haze” spell is broken.
 Ah yes getting me ready for the teenage years except she’ll be taller and have boobs to be fondled.
  No! Time is going too fast! Slow down!
 I now realize something important. One day her getting peanut butter all over the television will seem infinitely better then 
when we find out she’s having sex. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Blind Date: The toddler Edition

I got to witness my daughter’s first date.  She subtly fixed her hair, adjusted her favorite dress and had so much confidence the boy couldn’t help but take notice. Have I mentioned that she is five?
 The girls, my mom and I walked up to the neighborhood ice cream shop for a little after dinner treat. Love Monster my five year old, concocted her sundae from the do it yourself candy bar piling on Oreo chunks, sour worms and sprinkles onto her strawberry ice cream as I put together, her sister, Smirker’s more conservative vanilla and sprinkles combo. I saw Love Monster gazing across the room. Now she doesn’t stop for anything so this moment certainly felt like the world was standing still.  A boy about her age and his older sister,I presumed, were sitting at a table. Love Monster was totally locked in. Without a second thought she sat next to him. 
 “Hi,” she said with supreme authority.
 His sister might as well have been invisible.  Love Monster only had eyes for this boy. The sister was a little taken a back.  The boy looked like he was trying to melt into his chair. The kid’s grandparents who were standing nearby took notice as well. 
 We were all enchanted. 
 My mom, Smirker and I took a table behind this impromptu first date. (Hell I know what boys are capable of) and tried to seem interested in our melting dessert.
 The boy’s sister was not so subtle.  She whipped out her iPhone and began filming.
 “So, who’s your favorite superhero?” Love Monster asked. Immediately the boy’s nervousness faded.
 Now that was a good question. Dang girl. No wasting time! How did she know to ask that??? She has got game. What a great line. I was in awe.
 “I can’t decide. Either Spiderman or Batman.” 
 Love Monster nodded in agreement.
 “What about you?” He asked.
 “Super-girl,” She responded.
 He smiled.
 She does not know superheroes by the way. She thinks Super-girl is her.
 The both took bites of their ice cream.
 “Ask his name,” I whispered to her.
 “What’s your name?” Love Monster asked.
 “Dave,” The boy said.
 Dave. Dave. Dave’s are trouble.
 Then he spoon fed her a bite of ice cream and dabbed away the excess on her mouth with his napkin. I don’t think I’ve had a date that’s gone this well.
 “She’s pretty! Tell her she’s pretty!” His grandma said.
 This has got to be the weirdest date ever between the cheering sections, arm chair dating and soon to be youtube fame. But they were rolling with it. By then everyone in the shop was watching this little snippet of juvenile romance.
 “I want to show you something,” Dave said standing up.
 I nearly choke on my sprinkles.
 He started to do the robot. Perfectly. 
 He was talking about dancing, Beth. He’s four. Chill out.
 Love Monster of course began to join in and he taught her a few moves.
 They spent the next ten minutes playing “Angry Birds” with the strap between the stanchion poles. They could not have been having a better time. 
 “Mama I got to go to the bathroom,” Love Monster said. “Come on Dave~’
 “Gonna stop you right there Dave,” I said putting out an arm as he tried to follow her in. This is NOT ending Blind Date style. “I think we’re done.”
 And then the date was over.
 We walked home. She jumped around in her princess dress lost in thought. I wondered if she was thinking about her first brush with love.
 “Who do you think is smarter? Spongebob or Patrick?” She asked.
 Thank god.
 “Spongebob. Definitely.” I said.
 I’m not ready for her to be boy crazy. She skipped down the street saying hello to everyone that walked by. “I like your dress!” She said to one girl.
 I admire her. She is nothing but herself with no apology and no doubt. I will pummel any idiot boy or mean girls that tries to make that disappear. She is one amazing kid.

School Daze

 It’s my parent helper day at Love Monster’s preschool. They have eight chickens and six free roaming bunnies and a hose in the gigantic sandbox that the kids have free reign to use. This is not going to go well.
 We are starting a new preschool after the last nazi like regime tried to crush Love Monster’s soul (sitting in squares, potty training madness. you might have read that one). I’m not going to lie. When I had to sit through a meeting where I’m sure a  normally very nice woman told us that Love Monster was not allowed to come back, I could barely keep it together. When looking for another school we opted for somewhere that couldn’t be more opposite of that hell hole. When I read in the current school manual that (and I’m paraphrasing), kids are like flowers. They need to bloom. We need to let them be themselves. I was sold. Love Monster needs to be able to be herself! Bring on the hippiness and free love! Sure there is required parent participation, but this will be worth it.
 Now I stand outside the quaint wooden fence that surrounds her classroom and I’m not sure about this. I’m the worst with other parents. They are another species and I’m the impostor. I don’t blend. I don’t get it. Do they not see how under-appreciated they are? They all look so... snowed. 
 Every time I’ve picked up Love Monster up from this new school, she’s either soaking wet, sans clothes and soaking wet or wearing a princess dress with the clothes I dressed her in no where to be found (They’ve lost at least three outfits) and soaking wet. 
 Love Monster looks up at me tugging on my arm chomping at the bit to get inside, “Come on Mama!”
 But she’s loving it here.
 Sigh. Let’s do this.
 We open the gate to what looks like a farm over run by children of the corn.
 My first job is taking the month old chickens out of their incubator and put them in their coup. And they just poop. Whenever and wherever they want maybe especially when my hand is under their ass. 
 Their teacher, who all the children know on a first name basis, but from here on out I will call Miss Lippy, waves me over, “Hi Love Monster’s mom.” I think her voice is infused with THC.  “Can you set up the paints and and paper?”
 I can’t find any of the supplies. Yes, I could ask, but I will not let the other two parent helpers know my short comings. I know shit. I will look through ever freaking cabinet.
 I find everything eventually. Set it up. Yeah!
 “Love Monster’s mom? Horizontal not vertical. We must not waste paper,” Miss Lippy smiles and ambles away. “How about you sit with the blocks?”
 Preschool teacher shaft of the highest magnitude. I plop down at the block table and do nothing.
 I’m trying to concentrate on failing at being the best parent helper ever, but I’m distracted by the task of trying to keep track of Love Monster. I have to make sure she’s being good. Paranoia sets in.
 “Stop that!” I yell in her general direction. I get eyes on her and she’s looking at me like, “what?” She wasn’t doing anything, but she’ll understand. I thought I heard a cry and I have to cover my bases. I am on it. It’s not because of me that she’s out of control. At least I think the other adults present are buying that.
 I get my first customer at the block table, a girl named Gwendolyn though her name tag reads Cassie Jean.
 “She has a different name everyday and makes sure her wardrobe matches the name,” I am informed by a kid wearing a T-Rex hat. 
 “Cassie Jean” is wearing killer cowboy boots and a vest. I normally do not really like other people’s kids, but she is cool as shit. I’m hanging out with her. But she is whisked away to play at the shaving cream table. 
 Yes. You read that correctly.
 I survey the activities: The sandbox where my Love Monster D is. She is by herself with the hose creating a giant moat. Nice. The shaving cream table. Blobs of shaving cream colored with food coloring. Aren’t they worried about kids eating that? My kid isn’t the only one who might eat that right? Hello? Anyone? Moving on. And a flour table. Tins of flour also with food coloring.
 No wonder no one is at my boring block table.
 “Is that a good idea?” I say indicating the flour and shaving cream to Miss Lippy walking by.
 “Our philosophy here is that the kids know what they should be doing. Give them freedom to choose.”
 Oh do they? Because that kid is putting shaving cream in her shoes and making the chickens have beards.
 “I got to go potty,” a boy says to me.
 I look around. Miss Lippy is nowhere to be found. “Sure.” I say.
 The communal bathroom is by far the most interesting place here. Second to maybe Studio 54 circa 1976. There are no stalls just five tiny toilets lined against a wall with a trough sink across from it. Kids from all classrooms are in here. I take potty boy in.
 “Okay. Go for it man,” I say.
 He looks at me then down at his pants. I help him open the fly.
 “All the way down,” he says.
 Oh it’s number two. Sweet.
 And he goes, with me watching like a reluctant prison guard. The whole time I’m mentally prepping for the wipe. Which I force him to do after he pulls his pants up without one. (Gross!) The boy walks out of the bathroom and before I can clear the threshold Miss Lippy thrusts a tub of glue crusted craft supplies in my hands. 
 “Thanks,” she says and breezes out of there.
 I go to the utility sink next to the potties and try to enjoy the silence. The other door opens and in walks a boy from another class. He gives me a curt nod
and proceeds to stand at the toilet closest to me (no one else is in here! Seriously you have to be right next to me?) whips it out and pees.
 “You Love Monster’s mom?” He asks.
 “Yeah,” I say. Everyone here seems to know Love Monster. Hmmmm.
 “How do you like helping out here?” He says. He’s still peeing.
 “Umm, pretty fun,” I say completely uncomfortable.
 “Looks like you’re doing a good job,” He says. Who is this kid?? He’s acting like he’s 40.
 “Thanks,” I say feeling pretty boosted.
 He’s finally done peeing.
 “Can you help me with my pants?” He says suddenly 4 four years old again.
Again with the fucking pants man. And I am so not used to dealing with little boy nakedness. I’m pretty sure I bust his elastic waist to make sure don’t accidentally touch his junk.
 This day has been long. I almost step on a fucking bunny for the eighth time. I’m put in charge of story time and Love Monster freaks out that I’m reading to other kids and they pelt me with cheerios. During snack time the kids are supposed to pour their own water from a pitcher and serve themselves food. Oh lord the control freak in me needs her meds. (“We need to promote independence!” Shut up Lippy.) I do what she says and still get evil looks from the other parent helpers because my table is smeared with broccoli quinoa and it’s one big pond.
 Let’s A.C.T. this bitch shall we.  Oil is to water as Beth is to A. sunlight B. blue cheese. C. preschool.
Well all of the above, but preschool wins it. I don’t care what pee boy said to me. I suck at this.
 And then the bunny gets run over by a bicycle.
 And to top it off I see Love Monster playing alone again. And I get sad. We are the rejects. We are the outsiders. I’m sorry LM. I didn’t mean to pass the loser gene onto you.
 “I like Love Monster. She’s so fun.” A boy with long hair, Nick, says to me without any prompting at all I swear!
 I smile. “She is isn’t she?” I say a bit too excitedly. 
 “She thinks I’m a girl. But I’m still her best friend.” Nick runs off and jumps in the moat Love Monster is currently working on. 
 Okay. I’m alone in the reject column and that is just fine. She has a best friend and doesn’t even get that he has a penis. I am so cool with that.
 The day ends. Chickens are put back in their incubator and the bunnies in their hutches. I grab my soaking wet love monster and strip her out of the Snow White dress. 
 “She is so spirited,”  Miss Lippy says. 
 “Yeah. She’s great,” I say. “I have a lot to learn.”
 Miss Lippy nods like a stoner.
 Love Monster runs naked toward the shaving cream.
 This is the perfect place for her.

Keeping her off the Pole

I was walking down the main street of my very Mayberry-like town with my four year old Love Monster when she grabbed a skinny light pole and spun around on it yelling with pure ecstasy, “I love poles! They are so fun!” 
 Now there was nothing Singing in the Rain about this. This was definitely Marisa Tomei in The Wrestler. The three women having coffee at a nearby table stared. I tried to laugh it off, but no one else was.
 “Was that good mama?!” Love Monster screamed starting to mount up once again.
 “Whoa whoa whoa there, Courtney Love,” I said pulling her off. 
 “But that was fun!” She pouted all the way home. “You never let me do what I want!” I imagined she was twenty years old and I was pulling her half-naked out of a club. I shuddered at the thought.
 By the way, fun fact: Anna Nicole Smith died the day Love Monster was born. I’m not going to lie. For a moment I was scared that marred up soul had found it’s way into my Love Monster’s body. 
 That evening Love Monster ran for floor lamp after bath time nude as Elizabeth Berkley in Show Girls. 
 “Papa look!” 
 No way. She repeated her now mastered spin and perfect dismount. My husband looked at me horrified. There was nothing I could say. Where did we go wrong? Are we not hugging her enough? Did it totally screw her up letting her watch Family Guy? And she’s pretty and she’s tall and she has perfect skin and hair and pouty lips. My God, she going to change her name to Love Monster Delicious isn’t she? Am I going to have to visit her on the job and pay her twenty bucks to hang out with me? Is that even the going rate? How expensive is this going to be?
 I can’t get that day out of my mind and my concerns have escalated. I’m used to hearing the comment, “Oh man, you are going to be in so much in trouble in ten years,” in reference to my daughters. I used to take this as a compliment and not think much of it. Now it gives me the shakes. I didn’t think I’d be worried about this aspect of having daughters for years. So I do what I do best and overanalyze.
1. See above. She thinks poles are super fun to spin around.
2. She has an obsession with licking things. 
 “ Are you licking that?” I ask her.
 “It’s an ice cream cone, mama.”
  “No it’s not. What is that?”
  “It’s a door knob.”  She answers giving it one final lick.
  “Yeah baby it’s a door knob. Take a nap.”
1. She loves to run into the bathroom while I’m taking a shower, whip open the curtain and yell “You have a great body mama!” (That’s weird. But I’m taking any compliment I can get even though I’m pretty sure she’d say that to a 300 pound circus fat lady).
2. She couldn’t wait to put on her pajamas when my friend Brice (who is incredibly good looking) came over so she could model them for him.
3. If she kisses anyone, it’s inappropriately long and she holds the person’s face. I think she saw this in a Disney movie. (But on a positive note if she sees anyone kissing, she says “They love each other don’t they mama?”)
4. She told me this one morning: “I had a dream last night that I was wearing a shirt that had holes cut where my boobs are. I want a shirt like that.”

 I’m in trouble, aren’t I?

 I know I deserve every bit of this by the way. 
 I was seven. My little brother, Ryan, was taking a nap so I had the playroom all to myself. I began to play with my coveted She-Ra when I noticed my brother’s He-Man lying all muscle-y and lonely-like in the corner of the room with his pile of transformers.
  Well Ryan is not here... I thought to myself.
  So I opened up Castle Gray skull next to She-Ra’s Crystal Castle lining them up so I could create a “secret passage” from He-Man’s torture chamber (That’s what I figured it was. It contained a rack of weapons) and She-Ra’s super sexy bedroom. And when they aligned... nothing could stop what would happen next. Never mind that He-Man and She-Ra were twin siblings. They were too hot to keep their hands off each other. But they never used the bed once. She-Ra preferred being bound to the weapons rack or bent over the laser cannon base. I searched out Wonder woman’s whip (I could never find her otherwise she would have been in on this action) to fulfill He-Man’s masochistic needs.
 And my parents are totally normal! I swear I hadn’t seen any of this stuff anywhere. For years I thought I invented  S&M. My little seven year old brain was that of a sexual genius! And between She-Ra’s sword of protection and He-Man’s “sword” of power, how great (and safe) must that sex have been? Skeletor never entered the games. I had standards, but sometimes I let him watch. I cherished these He-Man/She-Ra sessions as much as I loved the smell of Strawberry Shortcake’s head (and this was a lot. I fell asleep with S.S’s curly locks under my nose).
 And that was merely the beginning... This is why I have the daughter nightmare times two.
 That was in the eighties in the midwest. Now I live in a world where moms do strip aerobics and invisible friends are teenage boys named Ron that skateboard and smoke. I must be vigilant. How difficult is it going to get when there’s even a woman in Texas who teaches a “Pole dancing for Jesus” class that mixes the obvious combo of exercise, stripping and church service? My eighteen month old was invited to a disco birthday party that was held at a Hollywood night club. You better believe there are poles there. I’m trying my damnedest to follow Chris Rock’s advice and “keep my daughters off the pole,” but there are scansions, merry go rounds, swing sets, railings, subway poles, frickin tether ball courts everywhere you turn. Why do they have to make poles not only accessible, but really, really fun?? It’s like they are magnetic. She’s within a couple feet and her hands fly to it and she must do her patented spin.
 I look at my girls and I worry. I worry they will make the same mistakes I did. No. They are going to makes their own. Horrendously fresh and new. There’s only so much I can do especially since they have my sexual genius genes. I’m going to do my best. At the very least I did not get Love Monster the platform heels and pasties that she wanted in her Easter basket.

Disclaimer: She did not actually want platform heels and pasties. That was a joke. 

I Love you Eleven (Insert sigh here)

 There is at least one time a day that I want to tell my kids to fuck off. I don’t do it of course. But I think it.
 Love Monster draws on the flat screen. “Fuck you!”
 Love Monster opens the door for the tenth time during nap time for another stupid reason “Fuck you!”
 And on a particularly bad day, Smirker spills yogurt on my sleeve. “Oh fuck you baby.”
 I  replace that thought with sigh now. I sigh a lot as a mom. Even as I write that I can’t help but burst out a exasperated, annoyed sigh. I’ve also started to swear Battlestar style to censor myself in front of my kids, and now they just swear Battlestar style. Frak. Pretty awesome.

 Here’s a glimpse into my sighing, fraking brain on any old day

 I wake up to Bees, Love Monster’s ever present bear in my face. 
 “Smell him Mama.” 
 He smells like a mixture of mildew, rotten milk and gummy worms. Good morning. 
 Breakfast. The girls eat. I sweep the eighty percent that doesn’t make it into their mouths.
 8:45 Smirker’ s morning dump. Diaper change/wrestling match commences. I make shit on my face look good.
 Coloring time. What they don’t tell you is as a mom you’re expected to be friggin Picasso. If I would have known this I would have taken a few art classes in college. Love Monster never hesitates to tell me when my hippopotmous looks like shit.
 We ditch the crayons for her Mount Trashmore of toys in the corner of the room.
 Love Monster brings over a baby in a toy fryer.
 “Mama is she okay?”
 “She’s in a fryer, but other than that she looks pretty great.”
 “She’s sleeping mama.” Aw death is adorable.
 “Yeah sweets. I know.”
 Snacks. I vaccum the sixty percent that is all over the carpet.
 Dammit we got new child proof crap on the cabinets. Guess I won’t be getting anything out of there today.
 Where’s Smirker? Dammit! 
 “Love Monster where is your sister?”
 Oh of course.
  “Smirker get out of the entertainment center.”
 “Mama I got to go potty!” Love Monster exclaims. 
 “Try going by yourself.” This couch is too damn comfortable and I need to find out if Bella’s gonna pick Edward or Jacob. Shut up. I know what you’re thinking.
 “I need help wiping. Hey look it looks like a fire hydrant.” Sure does.
 “Mama let’s play hide and seek!” Great Love Monster sucks at this game.
 “Smirker you go first!” Love Monster yells. Oh awesome. My eighteen month old sucks even worse.
 “Smirker get out of the potty.”
 Crafts before nap! I make the mistake of including Love Monster in the process of using egg cartons to make doll house furniture. Does she want her barbie to look like she lives in a crack house? I mean come on kid.
 “Hold on a second Frank do you have underwear on?” These are the sentences that come out of my mouth.
 “Smirker get out of the couch.” Seriously. She was inside it.
 I collapse on the couch and drink in the rare moments of peace. I remember when “nap time” used to be a nooner.
 I’m still wearing my teeshirt and sweatpants. I dress like Kevin Smith when I’m at home. So sue me. It’s Love Monster friendly. I haven’t even thought of taking a shower yet and it’s two o’clock. I might as well wait until tomorrow.
 They’re up. Now Love Monster either morphs into polly anna after nap or Gary Busey. “There is no other Love Monster!” She yells out here door. Busey it is.
 “Mama, can you put Calliou on?”
  Ugh! He’s bald at four and talks like a mutated baby. What is up??? 
 “Mama can I have peanut butter on a spoon.” 
 “Mama, I need a new dress on.”
 “Mama, I want to look like a princess.”
 “Mama, I broke the remote.”
  “Mama, the dvd’s not working.”
  “Mama, I want to listen to Air supply. Mama! Mama! Mama! Mama!”
 I really should look into making tiny pockets in shoulders of all my shirts that can contain a cyanide pill. 
 “Smirker, you got anything to say?” I ask my drooling one.
  “Dah dah dah! Bot!” That’s what I thought.
 I take a three minute Ipod- trashy-pop break in the bathroom. “Poppin bottles in the ice, like a blizzard, When we drink we do it right gettin slizzard. Sippin sizzurp in my ride, like Three 6. Now I’m feelin so fly like a G6Like a G6, Like a G6.”
 I am refreshed.
 More sucky coloring. More playing hide and seek where Love Monster “hides” in the same out in the open spot every time. “Oh my god she’s on top of the coffee table. What a surprise.”
 Roly polly time (I endorse this.Try with your significant other later). Put a blanket on the floor. The kids roll all over each other. They find this insanely fun. Smirker rolls her butt over Love Monster’s face.
 “Mama, Smirker needs her diaper changed.”
 They both have taken at least four craps today. 
 The husband comes home and plays with them for five minutes. “You get to play toddler games all day! You have the easiest job.” Hurray for Dad of the year.
 Dinner is eaten. The sun has set.The day is done. Love Monster’s hair looks like Mrs. Garett’s and Smirker looks like she could be the third member of Oasis (this was all her hair would do until we made it to the Pebbles stage).
 Baths are given. Smirker laps up the water like it’s sweat off Justin Beiber’s pecs (If he had any) and when I tell her to stop because she’s drinking her own filth she looks at me like I’m an idiot: “Its water. You expect me not to drink it. That’s not human.”


 “Love you mama,” Love Monster says.
 “I love you too,”  I sigh closing the door behind me. Another day done.
 “I love you 11,” She says. I smile.
 “I love you 24,” I say.
 “I love you 79!” She says erupting into laughter.

Aw well, that makes it all worth it, doesn't it?

Dear Bank

Dear Customers and Employees of my Bank at 9:07am- 9:18am on March 11th,
I’m sorry my four year old saw your maze of cubicles and thought Raceway! and set records whizzing through the “obstacle course” you call your office.
I’m sorry my eighteen month old took the only toy you have on your sorry excuse for a kid’s table and smashed it on the ground now making your kid’s area now just a very small useless table.
I’m sorry my four year old almost jammed a napkin in your coin counting machine that (let’s face it) never works anyway. I’m sorry she also went into an empty office and went on a ride on the spinning chair then careened through her “obstacle course” again while I lost my place in line trying to chase her down. It must have looked pretty pathetic to see me be out run by a toddler and scream bloody murder to make her come back to me. Sorry you had to witness that. I’m sorry for the evil look I gave the nice man who said, “Boy you really have a great mom’s voice.”And for my four year olds gall to stop her tirade and marathon at the front desk (causing me to crash into her) and beg for stickers (and by beg I mean demand), I apologize.
It wasn’t my best parenting day and it wasn’t my kid’s best days either.
For me that was an eternally long eleven minutes at well. But is it too much to ask for some human camaraderie? 
To the lady who silently wouldn’t let me have my place back in line. How dare you?
To to woman who clearly doesn’t have children giving me the stink eye. Screw off.
To the man who found this very entertaining and laughed as loud as he could as I lost it completely. Fuck off. I expect an apology from you.
Other than that, I think I’m good. I appreciate the decent interest rate for my car and availability of the Christmas account.
Beth Navarro
P.S. While I’m at it... Bank Teller approximately eight years ago who laughed at me when I had to put my pennies in rolls so I could change them so I could make my rent on time: You’re a meanie.

I Bless the Rains Down in Africa

 “I loved traveling with my kids!” A business man next to me says as my two kids and I wait in line at airport security.
 I look for signs of a stroke, but he seems to just be a fucking insane person. I smile and move along peeling my four year old Love Monster off the stanchion. I take inventory for the hundredth time this morning: Diapers,wipes, snacks, movies, my computer, books, coloring book, crayons, CDs, old disc-man, changes of clothes, sippy cups, child one, child two. Got em. It’s my first solo trip with my love monsters and I’m a bit freaked. But I am as prepared as I can be. I can do this.
 “Daddy’s gonna kill Ralphie,” Love Monster says to the woman behind us. 
 Love Monster has been quoting A Christmas Story and singing Deck the Halls at the top of her lungs since we arrived at LAX. It’s March. I’m thinking this is her nervous tick. Smirker, my little zen Buddha baby, is as cool as a cucumber.
 We make it through security, our first hurdle, just fine. Except for the fact that it’s really hard to close up a stroller and lift it onto the conveyor belt of the x-ray machine one handed while holding a 18 month old and everyone around you acts like they don’t see you struggling. I think it might be against policy for TSA workers to be courteous human beings.
 We get to our gate armed with happy meals. The kids are... happy. Content. Staying in one place. Love Monster downs her milk. Smirker eats all her food. This is going well!
 “Okay, time for the bathroom stop before we get on the plane,” I announce. Love Monster scrunches up her face momentarily, but then gives in.
 “Okay!” She says.
 We go to the bathroom, cram ourselves, stroller and all, into the handicapped stall and she sees the toilet.
 “NO!!!!! It’s the magical potty!” She screams.
 Ever since she used one of those automatic flushing toilets, she is deathly afraid of them. I don’t blame her. They sound like jet engines and seem to have the vacuum power of a black hole.
 But I have an idea. We go to the family bathroom. Perfect. There’s a little potty just like the one at her preschool. This is where things really go to shit. I am in a full on wrestling match with a four year old forcing her pants down and trying to make her pee. I scream. I beg. I plead. Nothing. Smirker looks on amused. I even call Papa, “MAKE HER GO!”
 He helplessly talks to her, but there’s no use. The public bathroom is not happening. I take a deep breath. Okay, let it go. When she’s got to go, she’ll go.
 We board the plane after waiting an excruciating thirty minutes (Note to self: Getting to the airport too early with kids is worse than having to rush. “Look at that trashcan! Is that a toy?? What’s that man doing? What’s that girl eating? Girl, what are you eating? Lady can I touch your shoe? Oh look she has a princess backpack!” Can someone say overstimulation? ).  I hope we have the row to ourselves, but no. An older man sits next to us. I scrutinize his face. I’m dying to use my line on that passenger that gives me the “I have to sit next to two kids” look: If you didn’t want to take public transportation then maybe you shoulda chartered that jet. But he sits down pleasantly. 
 “A crumby commercial? Son of a bitch!“ Love Monster quotes another classic Christmas Story line to the man.
 The man chuckles.  I actually feel a little sorry for him. This guy doesn’t even know what he’s in for.
 I can’t seem to get anything organized. Everything Love Monster wants she can’t have. Smirker is smearing her breakfast bar all over my jeans and to make me more annoyed the flight attendants start their spiel. Okay, let me say this. You can’t make up for being a shitty airline with lame humor. That’s like giving permission for the shittery. Oh there’s nothing to eat and my legs are scrunched up to my armpits forming blood clots, but that bit with the seatbelt was so cute. So it’s cool. No way. Let’s just face the reality that this is not going to be the greatest four hours of our lives and joking about the pilot’s lack of experience is not making me feel any better.
 Finally we are at cruising altitude and Love Monster can use her approved electronic devices. Let the attention span of a gnat commence immediately. She watches about five minutes of a movie before she wants to watch another one. She loses all her crayons in the first fifteen minutes. She launches her hair band into the row ahead of us. And Smirker, officially the laziest baby in the world who would lay in my lap all day at home if I let her, all of sudden wants her freedom. Not to mention she flings her sippy cup and lambie into the aisle every chance she can get. Bet the guy next to me didn’t know he’d be on baby crap retrieval duty, did he? 
 I look at the time. Three and a half hours to go.
 “Mama, I got to go potty,” Love Monster says.
 “All right let’s do this,” I say.
 I make this nice man next to me get up (I’m sure he could use a few minutes away from crazy town) and make our way to the bathroom. I jam all three of us into it which is comical in itself.
 “NO!” She proclaims.
 And once again I’m in a wrestling match with my four year old only this time we have no space to thrash and I’m holding Smirker who once again coos with delight. We pour out of the bathroom and go back to our seat. I am livid.
 This happens two more times.
 We even have the whole front section of the plane chanting: “You can do it! You can do it!”  
 A woman with sad sparkling eyes says,” I just went it was awesome!”
 A man who seemed to be giving the “van down by the river” speech ended with “It’s so cool to go on a plane!”
 Love Monster rolled her eyes. Dude, she’s four. She’s not an idiot. 
 We come back to our seats the third time and I am defeated. 
 “Are you doing okay?” The flight attendant asks me sweetly. 
 I want to scream at her, “NO! Take them. Do you guys have a playroom I could throw them in? And by playroom I mean, baggage area. Dogs are there right? So it’s okay. They love dogs.” 
 But instead I say, “Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue,“ I couldn’t help myself. She just looks at me confused and walks away. She must have skipped the day in flight attendant school when they watched ‘Airplane’.
 I really wish I could get lost in a Toto song right now. I could be in the middle of a nuclear holocaust and Africa would bring joy to my melting heart.
 I watch Love Monster squirm in her seat. She has to go. Bad. 

 It’s gonna take a lot to take me away from you...
 There nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do...

 She is squeezing her legs shut. Dammit why did I let her guzzle that milk!
 I bless the rains down in Africa...
 Gonna take some time to do the things we never ha-ha-ha-ha- ha- have...
 We’re in our final decent. I make peace with the fact that it’s going to happen. We land and pull up to our gate which of course is not ready yet. The man next to me jumps away from his seat. He knows. 
 “Mama?” She pleads looking at me with big eyes. I want to cry. I flash back to when I was a kid and I peed my pants at Disney world.
 “Oh sweetie. Just go, babe,” I say. I shove Smirker’s blanket under her dress. A full minute later she is relieved. I go into survival mode. Change her clothes. Pile up the pee soaked ones. No plastic bag, but who cares at this point. We exit plane. I have breakfast bar in my hair. I’m covered in spit, pee and boogers. You might think it would be hard to retain my M.I.L.F. title, holding pee soaked clothes, but  judging by the guy’s face in 13B I’m going to go ahead and say I rocked that shit anyway. Hey, I’m smiling. I made it. Soon I can relax my hold on my wild child, set down my now clingy baby and have a beer.
 The flight back was much better. Love Monster wore a pull-up and I got her a giant bag of popcorn that kept her busy for awhile. I dosed Smirker with some Benadryl and tethered her sippy cup and lambie to the arm rest. Pretty smooth sailing. There were only two snafus.  One, Smirker stole a tee shirt from a store at the airport and I didn’t notice until I was folding up the stroller at the end of the jetway. She was quite proud of herself. It wasn’t even a cute shirt. And two, we were delayed about ten minutes because some jackass didn’t want to put on his seatbelt. Man, I got stolen goods on board. I even got a few minutes with my iPod and had some alone time with Toto. I didn’t even cringe when the pilot landed and said, “Weeeeeeee folks! We finally made it. Now I’m going to take what’s left of the plane back to the terminal.”

Toddler Supermodel's demand M&M's

My daughter is beautiful. There I said it. Call me biased. I don’t think she’s ever taken a bad picture. The pictures seem flawless. She undoubtedly a pretty pretty girl. 
She is also insane.
Love Monster turned four this month and every year, as many parents do, we take her to get her pictures taken. Seems easy. Dress her up, take her the JC Penny’s, plop her in front of the camera, say cheese, she in her natural gorgeousness will do so (at the most you’ll maybe need a little prompting from her trusty bear, Bees) and done. 
And a great end result. Right?
Right. The fact that we got a great picture is a miracle. The fact that I lived through the day is a miracle. Let me walk you through adventure shall I?

I wake up. It’s picture day. I lay in bed and do a silent meditation. 
 Calm. Think calm, positive thoughts. Today will be easy. Today will be fun. Today Love Monster will smile on command and not make the photographer want to slit her wrists. Calm, positive...
I open my eyes, take a deep breath and smile. I hear Love Monster’s door open. Hurdle number one. What kind of mood is she in? She stands at her door already wearing her princess dress her hair standing on end, a rat’s nest in it’s full glory. I hold my breath.
 “How was your nap hon?” I brace myself.
 “Good!” She says here eyes sparkling.
 I let out my breath. This is a good start.
 We eat a nutritious breakfast, not too sugary, just enough protein. Keep an even keel. I subtlely integrate picture taking rehearsal into our morning play.
 “Let me see your best smile.”
 “Can you pose with your doll?”
 “Put your hands on your hips. Cute!”
 This is going so well, I’m ecstatic. I give her free reign to play. 
 It’s now eleven o’clock. Time for hurdle number two. Getting ready.
 Time to tame the hair that belongs in a Whitesnake video and clean her face of random snacks (the innerds of a breakfast bar, four cheerios and a good milk mustache).
 I get the detangler, rubber band and brush and sit on the couch, “Come here, Sweetie.” I say as nonchalantly as possible.
 She looks up from her dinner in progress in the play kitchen and screws up her face eyeing the brush distrustfully.
 “Come on. It’s okay,” I say like I’m talking to some wild animal that might go ape shit on me at any minute.
 She puts down her cherry, potato and hamburger cassarole and skips over and sits in front of me.
 “I want Mexico hair, Mama,” She says (Mexico hair is Gertie’s hair in E.T. ‘Where’s Mexico?’ is her favorite line in that movie for some reason). I convince her we should just put her hair over to one side so some can be down. I know. I’m pushing my luck. But she just shrugs and says okay. I’m feeling sort of empowered now.
 I convince her pretty easily to take off the four sizes too big Cinderella dress and put on her nice new dress that her great grandmother made for her. She screamed that she must have a white shirt underneath and I conceded to keep the peace.
 Hurdle three, achieved!
 We go to JC Penny’s with my parents in tow. We’re waiting while an awkward looking teenage boy is getting his pictures taken. Love Monster sits on my lap getting a little squirmy but not unmanageable.
 “You gotta smile with your teeth!” Love Monster says to the boy who clearly needs this direction. 
 “So how do you think this is going to go?” My dad asks innocently.
 And with that question, all the confidence that I had drained out of me.
 “I have no idea,” I say. And I don’t. This is such a crap shoot. She could be a complete ham or she could throw a unending tantrum. I had no idea. The butterflies in my stomach were puking.
 “Love Monster?” A perky JC Penny’s photographer with an impossibly high voice asks.
 Love Monster takes off into the room with enthusiam.
 It’s going to be okay. I say. She’s in diva mode.
 We get into the room and Love Monster skids to a stop on the classic brick background that was laid out for her pre-teen predessor. 
 And the words I’ve been dreading burst out of her mouth, “I don’t wanna!”
 She tries desperately to escape the room. My mom and dad and I try to corral her onto the red spot on the floor where her mark is. The JC Penny photographer sits coolly by picking her fingers while holding the camera. 
 “How about you hold her mom?” The photographer says.
 I sigh. I have barely brushed my hair. I wearing the oldest shirt in my closet and no make up is on my face.
 “Just to get her warmed up I say. Don’t get me in the shot,” I say.
 The photographer totally doesn’t listen to me.
 “Take a look. So cute!”
 I look at the picture. Every freakin’ wrinkle on my face shows. My hair looks stringy. Ugh.  This will not do. Doesn’t she get that I’m an actor and about 98% more vain that the rest of the population!!
 I try a new tactic.
 “See the red light! Isn’t that cool? Stand on it,” I say (Isn’t that light cool? Gonna have to do better than that).
 “NO!” She screams. “I want my Bees!”
 “Okay, here he is,” my mom says giving her her precious bear. It calms her for a moment before she tears around the set again.
 We start bribing her with anything and everything. “We’ll get ice cream after this! You can ride on the merry go round how ever many times you want!”
 “Even on the zebra?” She asks.
 “Even on the dragon?”
 “Even on the dragon.”
 “Even on the elephant?”
 “Whatever you want, Just smile and take a pretty picture!” I scream.
 Imagine a cracked out supermodel that everyone hates to work with because she’s a nightmare. Think Gia, but instead of a switchblade, Love Monster carries a magic wand. Love Monster careens around the set like a mad women while her entourage (me and my parents) tries to get to to feel good about herself and just do the job.
 But it’s amazing. She’s be ranting and running around then turn around give the perfect pose that the photographer catches.
 “You look beautiful sweetheart!” I say.
 “I want some M&M’s,” she demands rolling around on the floor once again.
 A long torturous half hour later, we’re done. I need a nap. I look at the shots and well yeah a lot are blurred beyond belief, but just like that cracked out supermodel, she comes out with great pictures anyway (That’s why you pay me the big bucks mama.). 
I sympathize with professional photographers who have to put up these crazy models. I totally relate now. Except having to buy Love Monster ice cream is a hell of a lot cheaper than having to get an eight ball for a supermodel.