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  • The Bathroom Attendant

    April 28, 2006

    Sean is two and a half now and according to the experts and what I hear other mothers saying, I should probably be thinking about potty training. I should probably have a potty training philosophy. I should probably have settled on some potty training program. I am doing nothing. I learned that lesson when I was eleven and I’m not falling for it again. I had a training bra and my boobs trained themselves just fine. I figure this is another one of those situations that I don’t really have to manage.

    Without any prodding or stage mothering on my part, Sean has shown an increased interest in the toilet — when I’m using it. Like a movie star, I have my own personal bathroom attendant that accompanies me everywhere I go. Literally, anytime and anywhere I go, he’s there. I might be honored if it were just me, but he enjoys a trip to the bathroom with anyone who’s going.

    He’s not interested in the toilet, as some children are, as a way of disposing of cell phones or important papers. No. For Sean, the bathroom is another den — a place to take guests to hang out, be comfortable, have a drink, chat. If you’ve visited the House of Antique, and used the restroom, you’ve experienced Sean’s hospitality.

    I hear some mothers lament that they never get to pee by themselves now that they have children, but honestly, when’s the last time you saw a woman go to the restroom alone? We always go in pairs at the very least. And even if you are alone, you can always make a friend in line. So, as the only female in the house, I kind of enjoy the company.

    Sometimes he holds on to my arm, making sure that I won’t fall in. Other times he pats my knee and tells an engaging story with lots of big hand gestures and explosion sound effects. Usually I get praise when I’m done. Always he stands faithfully by, ready to dispense toilet paper — one square at a time.

    I figure this is good practice for the day in the not so distant future when he will have to help his ancient mother to the bathroom. I just hope he remains as enthusiastic. I also hope he gets a little more free with the toilet paper.

    Walking The Walk

    April 27, 2006

    When I was growing up, we didn’t have very many toys. If we got anything really special, like a bike, we usually had to save up for it or at least pay something towards it. Although I didn’t appreciate it at the time, in retrospect it was a good thing.

    My brothers and I took care of the few things we had because there was never a question that if we lost or destroyed something, it would just be too bad. No one was going to replace it. One time my brother left his bike unlocked outside a store and someone stole it. It was another summer of mowing yards and delivering papers before he got another one. A very hard lesson, but one that wasn’t lost on me. I saved up for and bought my own car at 17 (1977 Mustang – so cool) and I always took good care of it. I knew if I wrecked it or did something irresponsible, then it would be back to walking.

    I bring this up because there is a park across the street from our house. Sean and I have been going there at least once a day, sometimes twice, since before he could even walk. It is always astonishing to me to see the things left behind at the playground – expensive scooters, wagons, bicycles, helmets, basketballs, tennis rackets, shoes and coats. When I see these things I always think how if I were ten or eleven, I would miss my bike or scooter. Especially if I had rode it to the park and then walked home. But it’s not hard to imagine that these things were quickly replaced or perhaps that they were not even missed among the excess that is pervasive in this zip code.

    A week or so ago, I sat on a bench looking at an expensive red Radio Flyer wagon that had been sitting in the park for several days. I know it’s expensive because Sean got one for his first birthday — not from his cheapskate parents, but from his indulgent Aunt Terrye and Uncle Jack. If it were up to me, he would have had to have saved up for his own wagon. Kidding! Just half of it. I’d chip in something. As I stood up to leave, I looked in the orphaned wagon to see if there might be something to indicate whose it was. I saw a cell phone and a garage door opener. It made perfect sense. The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. And I had to laugh.

    Until it hit me like a bucket of cold water and one of the unchanging laws of the universe settled uncomfortably into my bones: If I want Sean to take care of his belongings, then I have to take care of my belongings. If I want Sean to be responsible, kind and considerate, then I have to be responsible, kind and considerate. “Do as I say, not as I do” means nothing to a two-year-old. It’s a daunting to think that I have to be the kind of person I want my child to be.

    Damn those laws of the universe.

    A Georgeism

    April 26, 2006

    I love my father-in-law George. I don’t think I could love him more if he were my own daddy.

    George has the heart of a servant. He loves to cook and feed people and he loves to take care of people. I can’t remember a Thanksgiving meal where I didn’t look up half way through to see George loading up his car with “leftovers” – if you consider half a ham and an entire pie left over – to take to a friend who wasn’t feeling well, or an elderly shut-in or just someone he came across who was short on worldly wealth. Nearly everyone along the Red River has been on the receiving end of George’s hospitality at one time or another.

    I say this in advance of what I’m about to tell you because I don’t want you to think I’m making fun of George. I adore him and he makes me laugh. Although not always intentionally. He will sometimes misappropriate a key word in a story in such a way that it gives it a lot more flavor.

    For example, awhile back, I called to talk with my mother-in-law and George answered the phone. When I asked him where she was, he reported that she had gone out to the hospital to have her breasts monogrammed. Oh really? Her initials or His and Hers?

    And I thought mammograms were uncomfortable.

    Sean Has A Lot To Learn From His Daddy Before He Gets Married…

    April 25, 2006

    As I was getting Sean into the car to take him to school on Monday, I bumped him on the head with the car door as I opened it. Poor little guy. He just looked at me like “Why would you do that?”

    As we drove, I was multi-tasking, which is dangerous for a formerly semi-natural blonde like me. I was making a mental list of what I needed to get done (pay bills, grocery store, laundry) versus what I wanted to get done (Starbucks, Half Price Books, TJMaxx) while at the same enthusing upon command over every horse, cow and pick up truck along the way, which in Texas is a lot of enthusing. All while trying to honor those pesky red and green lights. My head wasn’t in the game.

    When we were about half way to school, Sean pipes up from the back seat with a twinge of angst in his voice, “Mommy no strap me in!”

    GULP! I pulled over as quickly as I could, ran around the back of the car and to the other side and buckled him into his carseat as the responsible mommys in mini-vans whizzed past me.

    “Oh Sean! I’m so sorry!” I said. ” I am not a very good Mommy today!”

    “Yeah, I know!” he said rubbing the bump on his head.

    Glad I didn’t ask him if these pants made my butt look big.

    Truth in Packaging

    April 24, 2006

    I took a design class in college and I remember the very first day of class, the professor informed us that everything has a design, which up to that point, I hadn’t really thought about. Everything you see around you, every product, every package, every object, every everything — someone consciously made decisions about it’s size, shape, color and how it functions.

    I thought back to that first day of design class the other day as I struggled to tear open one of those so-called “easy open” zip-lock packages of grated cheese. According to what was printed on the package, I was supposed to Tear Here and Voila! I would then behold the American dream – instant cheese! But, alas there was no voila and no cheese. After a dozen futile attempts, the loss of my one good fingernail and a cut on my lip from trying to chew the package open like a feral dog, I was left with only my frustration and an unfulfilled dream of instant cheese gratification.

    As I was dabbing at my cut lip, I was thinking of suing the package designer for malpractice or at least pain and suffering. My next impulse was to redesign the package into a chedder fast ball and hurl it across the room. Until I saw two big blue eyes taking it all in. And I didn’t want him thinking Mommy had just invented a fun new food hurling game, because there would be no going back on that. I decided that whomever designed this easy open package should be forced to try to open it with a pair of dull left-handed kiddy sissors while a screaming two-year-old hangs from his leg. Because that’s what I was doing just before I got the idea for cheese baseball.

    I think it would foster more goodwill for the cheese people if they would just clearly and truthfully print on the packaging: “Don’t even think about trying to open this package until you find your good sissors and your kid is asleep. And you are not on your period or about to be. Have you lost weight?”

    Perhaps it is just my nature to be frustrated by these kinds of things but I am on a campaign to get corporate America to be more truthful about packaging because I CAN handle the truth. Here are some ideas I have for more truthful packaging that I am thinking of sending in:

    Old: Easy Open
    New: Easy Open! ROFL!

    Old: Kids Love’em!
    New: Only Dogs That Eat Poop Will Eat This Stuff

    Old: Reasealable
    New: Reasealable – Duct Tape Not Included.

    Old: Tear Here
    New: Tear Here — But Not Before Your Meds

    Old: Single Serving
    New: Single Serving — If you’re Ashley Olsen

    Old: Peel Back Corner To Open
    New: Peel Back Corner! Snort! Kidding! It’s one piece – Gotcha!

    Old: Fat Free
    New: Tastes Like Fat-Free Shag Carpet

    Old: Fresh Scent
    New: May make large dogs overly friendly.

    On the other hand, even those rolls of plastic wrap and foil sometimes confound me, so it could just be me.

    Anybody else have packaging issues?

    Scheduling And Other Hot Buttons

    April 23, 2006

    Everyday Mommy tagged me with the question about putting babies on schedules. There are bookstores full of books on this issue written by people brighter than me, smart and learned people with letters after their names, so I don’t think I really have much to offer other than to tell you what worked for us here at the House of Antique.

    The issue of scheduling, along with breastfeeding, working moms, home schooling and co-sleeping (among others) is one where the discussion tends to divide women rather than bring them together. I’d rather tell you stories about corn. But since you asked, I’ll cover all the hot button issues below once and for all:

    Schedules: Sean seems to do better on a schedule. He came that way. I seem to do better on a schedule. Antique Daddy doesn’t do well on schedules, but we are going to let him stay around anyway for eye candy and piggyback rides.

    Breastfeeding: I really wanted to breast feed, but I take a Class D drug for a chronic illness, so it was out of the question. I am built like a dairy cow, so I’m sure Sean felt gypped when he got a load of “Antique Mommy’s All You Can Eat Buffet”. When he would try to nurse through my shirt and I had to pull him away, it broke my heart. I think he has forgiven me though and shows no evidence of becoming an axe-wielding psychopath just yet. If that changes, I’ll reconsider my position on breastfeeding.

    Working Moms: I have my own business, so I work when I choose, and I mainly choose not to work. I’ve been a professional student for most of my adult life and I hope to resume that career one of these days.

    Co-Sleeping: I don’t like co-sleeping, because I like the “sleeping” part. I don’t really like to sleep with anyone to be perfectly honest, so it’s not anything personal and Sean gets that. Besides, I slept with my parents until I was about 11 and I now know that’s why I have no younger siblings.

    Home Schooling: I am undecided on home schooling. Antique Daddy is really for it. I like the idea, but I think I may be too lazy to actually do it. And besides Sean can already outsmart me and that doesn’t bode well.

    The truth is I don’t really know what I’m doing so I’ve learned to keep a loose grip on my opinions. All I know for sure is that there is no one right way to parent. Do what works for you and be willing to change it when it doesn’t. And never pass up an opportunity to encourage and appreciate other moms. They are the only ones who really know how deep the doo-doo can get.

    Corn – The Great Mystery of the Universe

    April 21, 2006

    Corn is one of the most indestructible elements on the face of the earth. At one time it was on Mohs Scale of Hardness, but was later replaced by Conundrum. Or something like that. Which is a good thing because had it stayed on the list, your birthstone might be corn. It’s true. I would not make up something as serious as that just to amuse myself.

    Anyway, you don’t need Moh to tell you about the properties of corn. You’ve eaten corn. You know that it can pass through the length and breadth of your digestive tract unblemished, unscathed and in tact. I became acutely aware of this fact soon after feeding Sean corn for the first time. From the changing table, I called to Antique Daddy, “Dude! Get in here! You gotta see this!” He never falls for that.

    Since then, I have learned that corn can even hold up to the most stringent of wash cycles – the setting that I call the Last Chance cycle — hot and harsh. But this is not the time to bring up Antonio Banderas, this is about laundry. Anyway, those that emerge unrepentant and uncleansed of their stains from the Last Chance cycle, are cast into the rag bag of damnation destined to wash cars and mop up the unspeakable for all eternity. Be warned. It only takes one indiscreet fling with chili sauce.

    I bring up the fascinating topic of corn for a reason. As I’m pulling some clothes from the washer yesterday, I notice there is corn on everything. And I wondered from whence does this corn come? I did not remember opening a can of corn and dumping it in the washer. But I’m a 46-year-old woman with a toddler, so I don’t remember a lot of stuff. Nonetheless, being the logical and scientific CSI person I am, I began to seek clues. So I yelled out, “Hey Dude! Did you put corn in the washer?” Oddly enough, there was no response.

    I continued my investigation by checking pockets, which based on previous laundry experience, was probably a dumb thing to do. I hear of women who pull out ten dollar bills and lottery tickets or even loose change from pockets while doing laundry. I pull out things that breathe. And now? Corn. Someone, and I won’t name names here, had apparently filled his pockets with corn at the dinner table last night. On the bright side, it’s unlikely that I will be seeing corn on the changing table again, as it appears that none of it made it into his mouth.

    In our next episode of Great Laundry Mysteries, I ask this question: How is it that a kleenex will disintegrate in your hand while dabbing a runny nose, yet survive a Last Chance cycle no worse for the wear? My theory is that kleenex is made of corn.

    The French Have A Word For Everything.

    April 20, 2006

    Almost everything.

    This morning as I was getting Sean dressed for the day, I stood him on the changing table and helped him into his shirt. When he popped his head through, he yelled “Boo!” — like he does every morning. And I pretended to be frightened and faint dead away, like I do every morning. Is there any better way to start out the day than with a faux faint? If you haven’t tried it, you should.

    When I dramatically flutter my eyes open, we both laugh hysterically like we do every morning. One of us laughs authentically complete with boogers and one of us faux laughs in the accent of the day. Today was French accent day.

    I am seriously dreading the day when the faux faint is no longer funny because I’m outta jokes. I got nothing left up my pajama sleeve. Anyway, when I stood up, I was rewarded for my efforts with a crooked little dimpled smile that makes me stupid with joy and makes it totally worth the effort of making a fool of myself. I couldn’t help but to wrap my arms around him and just try to inhale the essence of his being.

    “You are yummy yummy delicious, buhdicious, skalicious, smadicious, jahlicious!!” I cooed in his ear.

    “Mommy,” he said with a tone of disgust and pushing me away, “That not weal woods!”

    “Sure they are!” I said. “It’s French for, You smell like a big buttery croissant.”

    “I no fink so,” he said shaking his head. He wasn’t buying it.

    Okay, so I don’t really speak French. I totally made that up because there just aren’t any words, in any language, to describe how that little boy makes my heart sing.

    Excuses! Excuses!

    April 19, 2006

    Several years ago I was invited to someone’s home, someone whom I did not know very well. Upon entering their home, I noticed boxes stacked everywhere and furniture shoved here and there. For the sake of conversation, I remarked, “Oh, did you just move here?” And they replied, “No, we’ve been here for about 25 years.”

    For most people that would be a signal to shut up, but not me. No. I persisted.

    “Oh.” (long awkward silence) I’ve always liked cardboard.”

    And then I made a mental note to shut up before I asked her when her baby was due.

    The other day we had a visitor to the house, and although we don’t have boxes stacked everywhere, for some reason I was compelled to apologize for the lack of pictures we have on our walls. People falsely assume that if you are an interior designer that your house is decorated. Ha. Anyway, I lamely offered the excuse that we had just painted. Which is somewhat true. Just two months ago we did have some of the major rooms painted. But we’ve lived here nearly six years and we’ve never had pictures on the wall. So it’s not like the paint has interfered with our ability to accessorize. Our inability to agree on accessories has interfered with out ability to accessorize.

    Anyway, that incident started me thinking that surely there is a shelf life on excuses. Technically, how long can I say we just painted? Obviously some excuses last longer than others, like, “I’m pregnant”. That excuse has a fairly short shelf life but carries with it a lot of mileage. Pregnant women can get away with just about anything and they should take advantage of that.

    Here are some of my favorite vintage excuses:

    I just graduated (in the last century).
    I don’t have a job right now (don’t plan on getting one either!)
    We just got back from vacation (last summer).
    We just moved in (five years ago).
    We just painted (five years after we moved in).
    I just had a baby (two years ago).
    We’re just visiting (we might move back).
    I have a toddler. (That one covers just about anything.)

    What out dated excuses are you using?

    A New Page for the Health Sciences Book

    April 18, 2006

    The New England Journal of Medicine recently confirmed the following scientific findings about toddlers:

    Toddlers are NOT wishy-washy. They know EXACTLY what they want. Unless they change their mind. Which they are entitled to do, even when you are in the process of giving them EXACTLY what they want. You should know what they want. Even if they don’t.

    Toddlers spontaneously burst into tears over spilled milk, or for any reason at all. Or for no reason at all. They smell peculiar. They can eat their weight in Cheetoes.

    In the same study, they determined that all of the above is also true for peri-menopausal women.

    Scientists suggest that if you encounter a peri-menopausal woman and a toddler in the same room, toss in an economy-sized bag of Cheetoes and run like hell.