reading material

Sometimes (always?) The Kidling allows me to see things in a different light.

It was snack time and Alice was eating her favorite crackers (these, which, by the way, have an addiction potential on par with crack cocaine). Being the good Mama that I try to be am, I brought her some of her favorite cheese (this, from an amazing creamery not too far from Our Town). Upon realizing the substance of my offering on a plain white plate, Alice cried out, “Thanks! I was just going to ask for that. You read my brain!”

If only the last book I read had been half as interesting as The Kidling’s brain.

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The Mama is a cheater

So, the fine folks at WordPress saw Tuesday’s post fit to Freshly Press. Which is awesome. Because some of you lovely readers might be here for the first or second time today, I’m going to cheat.

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.

This post, originally posted this spring as sh*t my kid says, gives a pretty good picture of what life is like for The Family. So what are you waiting for? Get to reading!

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The Family has a pretty strict honesty policy (detailed in the footnote here. Yes, the book of alice occasionally uses footnotes. Apologies). This can make life difficult, or at the very least, awkward. The Kidling is very curious and asks questions about everything.

Really. Everything.

I’m usually prepared for the type of question she will ask. She wants to know why things work, how things work, why people behave certain ways… Not surprisingly, she also asks about why people look certain ways. This is not a big deal, typically. I’m usually spared the truly embarrassing moments, in part because she just doesn’t know to ask those questions. Alas, because I know The Kidling as well as I do, I wait for the question armed with the perfect, honest-but-kind response. For example, last week a friend’s dog got out and the lovely woman who brought the dog back had a beard and moustache. Not just a little shadow, but genuine facial hair. The woman was fantastic and clearly comfortable in her own skin, so when Alice said (loudly), “Mom! I want to tell you something funny. That girl has a beard,” I was perfectly confident responding simply, “Yes, she does. Everyone looks different, sweetie.” She isn’t too invested in gender roles (says the mother whose kid pointed out—loudly—a stranger’s nonconformance), so I figured that was all she needed. I was right. She went right back to her project with nary a thought on facial hair.

Sometimes, though, she kind of gets me.

Just Thursday we were at Kmart and she inquired—loudly—regarding the woman in front of us, “Mom? Is that a boy?” The woman was not amused. I said—loudly—in reply, “Of course not, sweetie! (nervous laughter) Of course she’s a woman! Remember when you thought I was a boy? Remember when I cut my hair and you thought I was a boy?”

Well, it turned out that if I had just shut the hell up, Alice would have explained her reasoning without all of The Mama’s hemming and hawing and attempts to soothe a bruised ego. She went on, “But she has a very deep voice.” And she did. So does Alice, so we talked about different types of voices and that was that.

And, of course, sometimes she really gets me. Like Sunday, when we were running errands at Target. I had run into a friend and we were chatting when “a person of abnormally small stature” walked by.*  Merriam-Webster wasn’t particularly helpful in producing an adequate synonym for me, so I quote their definition. Can you believe it suggested pee wee, pygmy, runt, AND shrimp!?! Really? Let’s substitute offensive words for other offensive words. Thanks, folks.

Anyway, the very small adult walked by and Alice was frantically—and loudly—trying to get my attention (have you noticed a theme here?):

Alice: Mom! Mom! Who is that?! Mom! Who is that?

The Mama: (I knew exactly who she was talking about, but didn’t want to make the idea of the “other” so concrete by knowing without being told) Who, Alice?

Alice: Who is that? That guy?

The Mama: Which guy?

Alice: (points) Is that a real-life person?

The Mama: Yes, Alice. Of course he is a real person.

Alice: I thought he was a mascot.

The Mama: (Fuck!)

Now, readers, pardon me for indulging in the exact thought I had at that moment, but seriously. I was completely prepared to talk to The Kidling about very small people, very large people, freckles, wrinkles, red hair, facial hair, underarm hair, skin color, eye color, wheel chairs, walkers, and the myriad ways in which people can be physically different. I was not, however, prepared to talk about mascots.

Fuck.

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* http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dwarf?show=0&t=1332734784 Sorry, dear readers. A JD makes a gal pretty paranoid about proper attribution.

my special… eyeball?

Kids form attachments to strange things. Even The Kidling.

Especially The Kidling.

The Family decided to be one of “those houses” on Halloween and not give out candy. Before you pass judgment, we gave out toys instead (sheesh, did you think we were jerks? surely you know better than that by now). Vampire teeth, ghost erasers, bouncy eyeballs… things from the dollar section at the front of Target (damn them). I figure junk for their homes is better than junk for their bodies?

Right?

I did not, however, realize how important said junk might be. Which was foolhardy, because, well… duh. Kids love their stuff. Even their worthless penny toys. Especially their creepy, blood-shot eyeballs.

Well, apparently Alice misplaced said creepy, blood-shot eyeball. It would have been a very sad day indeed, but the crisis was averted. Digging through her cauldron, she spotted the missing treasure:

“Hey! There’s my eyeball! I’ve been looking all over for my special eyeball! Whew! I was so scared. (switches to faux sweet voice) I thought I lost my special eyeball but now my special eyeball is found.”

And thank god for that. Whatever would we do without that nasty, creepy little eyeball in our home?

I think next year, we’ll buy candy again.

d*mn you, Target.

A thick, glossy, full-color Target book of want and need and angst for things previously unknown toy ad arrived at our home several weeks ago. I tried without success to keep it from The Kidling, but she spotted it and asked if she could “keep it for a while.” Sounds innocuous, right? Well, “keep it for a while” is kidling for “if you ever even consider recycling this, then I will throw a fit the size of which you and your small mama mind cannot fathom. You think I’m bluffing? Try me. I dare you.”

Or something like that.

I tempted fate and tried to sneak the Target ad out of Alice’s closet this weekend in order to show that evil genius of a marketing material its appropriate end. Apparently, I began fantasizing too soon about blowing my nose on the tissue I hoped that ad would become, because I was busted. Alice caught a glimpse of the ad before it hit the recycling bin and asked, slightly hysterically, whether she could look at it. As if I could say no.

I set about whatever kitchen task I was tending to at the moment while The Kidling flipped pages and told me about everything. It wasn’t long before she started asking for things. Alice isn’t a kid who feels entitled to a lot (except The Dada’s and The Mama’s undivided attention. Every waking moment. Seriously. Every one of them), so it always surprises me a little when she gets going on her “can I have this” episodes. This time of year, I have a ready response.

Alice: Mom, can I have this?

The Mama: We can put it on your list for Santa.

(five seconds pass)

Alice: Can I have this?

The Mama: No. If you’d like, we can put it on your list.

(twenty seconds pass. repeat from beginning)

Alice: Can I have this?

The Mama: Do you even know what it is?

Alice: No.

The Mama: (laughs) What is it?

Alice: I don’t know. I just want it.

The Dada: (whispers to The Mama) She is an American.

Alice: (didn’t hear The Dada. continues) And this whole-page thing. (turns page. waves hand, indicating everything on the two-page spread) And these. (turns page) And these. And— 

You can probably guess what happened next. I don’t fancy myself such a brilliant story-teller that you need me to finish it for you. Besides, I need to go super size something.

on beauty… or not

Confession: when I started this post, it was going to be funny. Nothing earth-shattering. You wouldn’t have spit out your lunch. You wouldn’t have peed your pants. You might not even have laughed out loud. But it was to be typical kidlingville fare.

As I was getting ready for work Tuesday morning, the Kidling looked at me and said, “You don’t look very pretty.” I was creating an opening and coming up with the perfect one-liner to close the post when I decided that wasn’t the post I wanted to write today.

You all know that story that has been making the rounds?  The one about mothers telling our daughters we are beautiful? It is every bit as amazing as folks are saying. If you haven’t had a chance to read it, then you can check it out here. Amanda King writes poignantly and with truth that lies in the depths of every mother’s soul.

Even in its general amazingness, I can’t subscribe to her thesis wholesale. Why? It is complicated.

For one thing, I don’t want physical beauty to be a priority for The Kidling. I get that Amanda King wasn’t saying that. I get that she is facing the reality of being female in this world where beauty is prized. And I get that she clearly has her priorities straight with regard to raising strong, thoughtful daughters.

Perhaps her age has something to do with it. She is young enough that I prefer her to use “beautiful” as an adjective to modify sunset, or song, or flower. A beautiful story. A beautiful painting. But not a face. I don’t want her worrying about that at four years old. Not yet.

Another reason? I am beautiful. Not crazy beautiful. Not model beautiful. Not breathtaking. But pretty enough that I don’t spend time worrying about it. And do you know what? It just isn’t that big of a deal. It is a convenience. A free pass. A smile and a held door once a month or so that might not otherwise be held. It might not be fair, but it is reality. Which is why it doesn’t define me.

The “me” I want The Kidling to identify when she thinks of me during her childhood is the one who is strong, loving, and smart. Maybe even sort of funny. An occasional pain in the ass and an irrational stickler when it comes to her dinner table behavior. A mother who would never raise a hand to her, and who apologized when she raised her voice (unless, of course, she totally deserved a grouchy mama due to her general stinkeriness at that given moment). I want her to recall her mother as fun and passionate, if flawed. And a mother who loved the shit out of her.

But beautiful? My soul, I should hope. My shell, I’m less concerned with. And I hope upon hope that she judges herself by that same standard.

giving thanks

Late last week, The Kidling asked for more details about Thanksgiving. Typical questions regarding the giving of thanks, the cause for celebration, and no mention of genocide made for an atypically easy answer to her question.

Whew.

I know what you’re thinking, smug dear readers.

“Not so fast, Christine,” you are silently urging your computer/ipad/smart phone screens. “Nothing is ever as it seems with The Kidling. Haven’t you learned anything by being her mother for the last four and three-quarters years?”

The answer, dear readers, is no.

As my conversation with Alice regarding Thanksgiving came to a close, she changed the topic to food. That’s safe, right? Right!?!

Have you met my child?

When the menu discussion turned to turkey, Alice offered, “Whenever you feel like eating a turkey that’s already dead, let’s make it!”

Such enthusiasm. For carrion.

So much for my guilty omnivore.

 

 

reality check

The Kidling is such a damn good kidling that sometimes The Dada and I get a bit, shall we say, confident.*

“Surely,” I think to myself, “we must be doing something right if The Kidling is so stinking amazing.” It just takes a little not-so-free association to get from “we must be doing something right” to “we must be getting this right” to “we must be getting everything right.” That last one, of course, means we are flawless parents.

Or maybe not:

Alice: Can I watch TV?

The Mama: No.

Alice: (in a sing song voice) If you do, I’ll let you have one of my quarters!

The Mama: (suppressing laughter) That’s very tempting. We’ll see.

Alice: (still singing) Or twooo-ooooo!

So perhaps bribery is a too frequently used tool in our parenting arsenal. I dare you to honestly profess your own innocence on that count.

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* By “The Dada and I,” I really mean “I.” Whatever.

phantom itch

“I have an itchy bum. I have an itchy bum, but there’s no mosquito bites, it’s just itchy.  There’s no mosquito bites because I bet the mosquitoes think they’d get stuck in there. They think they’d get stuck in my bum. Or in my vagina.”

-Alice Munchkin Kidling

November 8, 2012