Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

This morning LJ and I were driving to the beach when the song “Summertime” by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince came on shuffle. The following conversation took place:

LJ: (smiling) I love this song! Woohoo!

Me: (smiling back at her in the rearview mirror) Me, too! Woohoo!



LJ: No, I said, “Woohoo!”!

Me: I said, “Woohoo!”, too. Woohoo!

LJ: No, stop saying that. I said “Woohoo!”!

Me: Well, so did I. WOOHOO!!


Me: What are you talking about? Woohoo!!!


Me: No, I won’t stop it. I’m allowed to say “Woohoo!” whenever I want thankyouverymuch.


Me: Stop saying what? “Woohoo!”? I don’t want to stop saying that. I can say whatever I want. WOOHOO!!!

LJ: (Bursting into tears) NOOO!!! JUST STOP!! STOP SAYING WORDS!!

Repeat some version of this conversation about 5 times a day. Yay for 3 year-olds and equally as stubborn mothers!


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Hot Stuff

Unless you live under a rock, you know that we’ve had a nice little heat wave for the past few days. I have to say: I didn’t mind it. In fact, after the thousands of blizzards we had this past winter, where our streets didn’t get plowed for about a week (in NYC!?), I welcome summer with all its stickiness. Now that Lotte is old enough to really hang out and is no longer a tiny, whiny cryfest, we’ve been doing some pretty awesome things recently. I’m ticking things off my summer bucket list like an efficient supermom. Ok, ok, we still manage to watch Wall-E, Bolt, or Toy Story 2 what feels like every five seconds, but we’ve really been taking advantage of living in the city lately.


Last week we went to Pier 6, one of our favorite parts of Brooklyn Bridge Park at the end of Atlantic Avenue. The last time we went was in March, when I was in the throes of potty training madness. Since they didn’t have bathrooms open yet, Lotte may or may not have tinkled through her skinny jeans into the sand area. Luckily we were the only people there, and nobody knew. Until now. Sorry. Fortunately the potties have been completed, so we won’t use the sandbox as a litter box anymore.


Seriously, though, it has to be one of the greatest parks in the history of EVER, with an amazing view of downtown Manhattan. Look at this awesome view:

I wish I had more pictures of the actual playground areas, like “slide mountain”, the to-die-for water park and the biggest sandbox in the universe, but I feel sketchy taking pictures at playgrounds. Isn’t that sad? At a couple of NYC playgrounds parents have recently been reprimanded by park workers for taking pictures that may have other people’s children in them, so I’m always reluctant to even take a picture of MY OWN KID playing with a fountain, lest some crazy person comes to yell at me. Lame. I DID snap an iphone pic of the most amped-up mom there, though, because she was so into the water park I swear I caught her elbowing toddlers so she could have a turn.

She was literally leaving kids in her wake. That guy behind her was clearly checking out her ass since she was the only adult there in a bathing suit. Go crazy mom, go!


Friday was my birthday, and Lotte and I went to the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens to see the Jim Henson exhibit. The temperature in my car while driving on the BQE read 104 that day: it was balls hot. The film museum, however, was really, really cool. Super interactive, interesting, modern minimal design… and air conditioned. Huzzah! I wanted SO BADLY to take pictures in the Jim Henson exhibit, because they had a few Fraggle puppets, Miss Piggy in her wedding gown (from Muppets take Manhattan), Bert and Ernie, as well as a bunch of props from The Dark Crystal (which I LOVED when I was little but looks creepy as shit now that I’m an adult), but there was absolutely NO photography allowed. There were security guards and museum workers around every corner, but like a complete badass rebel I snapped one pic with my phone.

Rowlf! Watching the footage of the making of the Muppet Show and Sesame Street actually made me a little teary. I was a huge Henson fan. HUGE. I’ve tried to get LJ into the Muppet Movie and Fraggle Rock, but she might be a little bit too young. Of course she couldn’t pass up a little bit of THIS guy:

On Saturday NYC felt like a urine-scented, roasting pan in hell, so we did what any sane family would do in a stanky heatwave: we walked across the Brooklyn Bridge! Totally out of our minds insane, clearly. At 5pm the temperature read 96 degrees, but we soldiered on, and then turned back around and went RIGHT back to our heavily air-conditioned apartment, gasping for air and recovering from heat stroke.

See that group of people under the Manhattan Bridge? That was a wedding. How awesome is THAT?

Yesterday the heat broke (barely), and since Pete had to go into the office to work on a pitch (on a Sunday! BOOOO!! Hisss!!), LJ and I hit our usual spot:

God, I LOVE summer.

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LJ and I are stuck in the apartment this gorgeous sunny morning waiting for someone from Verizon to come and set up our new internet and phone. Originally the prospect of staying in from 8-12 made me want to stick my head in the oven, but then I flipped on the Women’s World Cup where Japan is playing Mexico.  LJ was immediately awestruck at the sight of all these strong, beautiful women and the thousands of fans cheering them on. As she watched them sprint across the field she turned to me with a huge smile and cheered,


A tad hormonal, tears immediately sprang into my eyes and I was reminded of this:

Yes, kiddo. Girls are badass.

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One of my most vivid childhood memories was of complete and utter failure. Seriously. I was about 5, and had just finished an entire summer of intense swim lessons at the country club we belonged to when I was little.  Before you think, “Oooo, country club, how fancy!”, I have to say, it wasn’t really. The country club, and 99.9% of it’s members were from fancy-pants, ultra-preppy, super conservative Rockville Centre with all their soccer awards and perfectly freckled Irish children. We were from Baldwin, though, and were basically social pariahs. None of the cliquey RVC kids ever spoke to my sister and I, so we were left to eat our grilled cheeses alone, glowering from the lounge chairs at all the tan, preppy kids in their Speedos playing Nok Hockey in the corner.


Anyway, the final test of the swim lesson was to swim across the entire length of the pool: from 3 feet to 5 feet at the other end. The pool was pretty big, I don’t know exactly HOW big off-hand because I haven’t been there since I was in junior high or so, but to a 5-year-old it was terrifyingly gigantic. I had kicked ass throughout the summer: there was NO reason why I couldn’t swim across the stupid pool by myself. None. Especially since I had on my super fast Speedo that we bought from Wolfe’s Sporting Goods store like all the freckle-faced, cool RVC swim team girls. You HAD to have the ugly bathing suit under your Izod at all times.


When the instructor blew her whistle at me from outside of the pool, I shoved off the wall in the 3 feet end and started off swimmingly. While glancing to my side during the breast stroke, I watched the painted numbers on the wall of the pool go from 3 to 4 to 5. Then it happened. Just as I passed the lifeguard stand where the tan teenager lazily twirled his whistle, and I entered the 5 feet area, 2/3 of the way across the pool: I caught a glimpse of my mother. She wasn’t doing anything, just watching me from her white plastic lounge chair.


Maybe she had a glare on her face because of the sun. Maybe she was squinting because of shitty eyesight. Whatever it was, the look on her face launched my already OCD-ridden mind into a full-blown panic attack. In the MIDDLE of the pool. I remember my body felt like it stopped working, like all of a sudden my arms and legs were bricks that didn’t even belong to me, and I started bobbing under the water. I was fucking drowning, basically, like a complete loser. The tan teenage lifeguard had to dive off his high throne to pull me up out of the water, crying and choking, with my wet stringy hair covering my face. Totally mortifying. I’m sure all the cool aquatically-gifted RVC kids were like, “Way to go Baldwin kid. Nice. Life.”.


My mother, rather than tearfully grasping me in her arms and thanking the lifeguard for saving her precious angel from a watery death, yelled at me. (Tiger mom alert! Tiger mom alert!) As I sat there shivering on a lounge chair like a complete pussy with tears and snot streaming down my face, I remember her repeatedly saying things like, “That was ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS!!”, “Are you KIDDING ME?!?”, and her old stand-by “You need to GET. A. GRIP!”. Even now, the image of her perfectly round face squawking away with her strawberry blonde hair haloed in the sunlight is seared into my brain.


Now that I’m a mom, though, I get it. LJ had her first swim lesson the other day at the beach club, and she was AWFUL. Pathetic. Now, I know she’s only 3… but she just completely fell apart, sniffling and crying through the ENTIRE THING. This is a little girl who has LOVED going into the pool and ocean with me since birth. Always giggling and filled with glee. God forbid the instructor asks her to hold on to a NOODLE, though. Forget it. Stiff as a board, gulping down pool water, making crazy grunting sounds: I didn’t even recognize this child, and I found myself quietly getting ANGRY with her. Maybe even embarrassed. Isn’t that horrible? She’s THREE.  As in, was living inside my belly only 3 years ago. What did I expect?


As I sat there scowling, watching my sweet kid struggle, I had the most terrifying realization: I am becoming my mother. As an adult, I appreciate my mom now more than ever. I’ve written about this. She was a tough cookie, though, and like her I find myself getting annoyed when LJ isn’t trying her best. I won’t praise her for her half-assed attempts to ride her scooter, kick the ball, jump in the pool, or climb the ladder. I’ll praise her when she actually DOES it. I won’t shout “Good job!” simply because she got into the pool. Big deal. She’s gotten into the pool 598,321 times. I’ll praise her when she can complete a 20 minute swim lesson IN A LIFEGUARD’S ARMS without dry heaving, because I KNOW SHE CAN DO BETTER. I’m not asking for Phelps-style butterfly strokes, but simply managing to NOT drown would be a success. That’s all I ask. THAT will deserve an ice cream cone and a shit ton of praise. Until that day? To quote my mother: this sweet, sad little mermaid needs to get a grip!


PS-  I’m sorry if I sound like a god-awful witch of a mother. I swear I’m not. Really! I would walk through fire for this kid, and love her to bits even if she is a scaredy-cat. It’s my job to help her face these new fears, though: to teach her to take risks, fall on her face, and get back up and keep trying.

PSS and totally random aside- I have another vivid memory from my country club days:  every time I would get a hot dog from the pool snack bar, my sister would “oink” at me repeatedly, tell me that I was eating a pig and make me cry. The thought made me boycott hotdogs for years.

PSSS- In case you’re wondering, I’m a good swimmer. With my mother’s help I quickly got my shit together, and never had to be rescued by a perfectly tanned teenager again.

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Here’s a list of all the things I will most definitely accomplish this summer. Luxurious summer homes in the Hamptons and exquisite meals in Michelin Star restaurants be damned! I’m a simple gal. On your mark, get set, go.

  1. Shower every single day.
  2. Go to the bathroom without a 3-year-old talking to me through the door.
  3. Stop housing all the Cheddar Bunnies.
  4. Refrain from picking at all of LJ’s beige dinner leftovers.
  5. Eat something other than LJ’s PB&J crust for lunch.
  6. Relish the fact that the kid doesn’t know she can get out of her bed anytime she wants.
  7. Stop singing the theme to Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch friends.
  8. Put my head in the oven if I start rapping the tunes from Bubble Guppies any more than I already am.
  9. Read an entire issue of US Weekly while sitting at the beach.
  10. Accomplish #9 while at the beach, ALONE.
  11. Read 5 new books other than the Pinkalicious series.
  12. Turn off the tv during the day.
  13. Refrain from letting LJ watch the entire Toy Story trilogy in one sitting.
  14. Stop asking the kid “Do you have to go tinkle?” every twenty minutes.
  15. Remember to bring a drink and snack to the playground for ME- no more stealing her juiceboxes.
  16. Bring sand toys to the playground every time- no more ghetto plastic spoons and bottle caps.
  17. Stop trying to pressure LJ to master the scooter.
  18. Stop pressuring LJ to go down the slide.
  19. Start being grateful that my kid is timid and careful and sweet as a peach.
  20. Go on at least 4 dates with my husband.
  21. Spend a weekday morning at the MOMA by myself.
  22. Spend a weekday morning at the Guggenheim by myself.
  23. Dye my hair blonde again. Brown makes me cranky.
  24. See college friends I haven’t seen since 1997.
  25. Have drinks, go to the movies, laugh my ass off with some girlfriends.
  26. Go to the Farmer’s Market EVERY Saturday.
  27. Don’t let all the farmer’s market greens wilt and turn squiggly in the fridge. Cook them.
  28. Drink more fun cocktails, less beer and wine.
  29. Get takeout only once a week.
  30. Spend a day out on the North Fork (LI).
  31. Get a pie from Briermere farms.
  32. Bake more pies.
  33. Start making my own pasta.
  34. Make ice cream.
  35. Go to the gym more due to all the pies, pasta and ice cream.
  36. Smother LJ with more kisses, even when she’s sweaty, covered in sunscreen and coated in sand like a chicken cutlet.
  37. Try to make a baby.
  38. Take the dog for more long walks so she stops wigging out.
  39. Repaint the closet door that the 4-legged psychopath has scratched to bits in fits of anxious mania.
  40. Stop forgetting to buy the fancy organic dog food and feeding her Cheerios instead.
  41. Sweep the mountains of dog hair that waft past me every day.
  42. Give that furry stinkbutt more baths. Or, at least one.
  43. Start actually doing the yoga on the Wii that we bought for THAT purpose.
  44. Have more all-day picnics in the park.
  45. Fly a kite successfully for the FIRST time in my life.
  46. Go peach and berry picking.
  47. Milk a cow somewhere. Or, well, at least SEE a cow.
  48. WATER THE DAMN PLANTS! (What is with my aversion to helping plants not die?)
  49. Go visit a special friend in Massachusetts, even though I hate the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and Bruins.
  50. Cherish the awesomeness that is my tiny family.
Linking up with Mama Kat and her writing prompt!

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After introducing my mother to some random guy I was dating when I was in my early 20s, she proclaimed without skipping a beat: “If you end up with him I’ll throw myself off the Verrazano.” (For those who don’t know: the Verrazano is the gigantic bridge that joins Long Island to Staten Island.).

Never one to mince words and a bit of a Tiger Mom  (A Finnish/American/freckle-faced Tiger Mom? Maybe a Eurasian Badger Mom?), we had been butting heads since I was a mere tween. During a heated phone call she told me that he “had no aspirations” (true), “didn’t look anyone in the eye” (true), and just “seemed bizarre” (must be stated with a proper Lawn Guyland accent: bizaaaaw).

Like any sane 22-year-old, I moved in with him the following week.

Two months later we broke up, and he moved out.

DAMN HER FOR BEING RIGHT! WHY WAS SHE ALWAYS RIGHT? I agonized over this through my teens and twenties, and only recently accepted her awesomeness as I also became a mom superhero. What is it about mothers that make them always just KNOW? Is it some sort of special parenting juju?  It must be agonizing to watch your children make such shitty choices and know that they’re not going to listen to a word you say.

“What? You don’t think I’m going to marry the tool who was so drunk he broke the soap dish off the wall? Screw you!” (She was right.)

“You don’t think it’s a good idea for me to ditch being a math major to become an art major? You think it’ll be hard to get a job? Screw you!”  (She was right.)

“No, I’m not bringing that nerdy wallet because I will not get mugged while studying abroad. I’m not an idiot. Screw you!” (She was right.)

“I can totally wear this to an interview. Screw you!” (She was right.)

“Excuse me?! No, that’s not my bowl. Why would you even THINK that?! Screw you!” (She was right.)

Only recently, after assessing the past 35 years of my life have I come to truly realize her powers and actually begin to heed her advice. Sure, she can be painfully, terrifyingly, insert foot-in-mouth blunt: but it’s coming from a good place… and she ALWAYS ends up being right.**  I can only hope that someday LJ learns to appreciate my super know-it-all-ness, preferably before age 35.

**My mother is actually NEVER RIGHT when it comes to her choice in presidential candidates.

**Also, when recently asked by her grandchildren to name the continents, she replied, “Oh, you mean A, E, I, O and U?” which is, clearly, not even REMOTELY fucking close to the answer.

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Mumbling to myself as I pulled on a pair of shorts, “Ugh, I feel like these make me look fat.” “Mommy, you’re a fat princess!”

“Look at me!” said LJ as she walked up to me with a dollar she took from my wallet. “Wow! Money! what do you want to buy with it?”, I asked. “Clouds!”

“LJ, what are you thankful for?” “Bagels.”

“Mommy, you’re gray!”  “Oh, my hair, yeah, I need to get it done.”  “No, your face.”

“Your teeth are yucky all the way.”

Me: “Listen, you know your fish? Shelly? She died, so she had to go away forever. I’m so sorry.” (One second pause) “Mommy, can you fix my slinky?”

“Mommy, I have bones inside my body. I love them. My bones love to ride the F train.”

“When I grow up I can be a mommy and I’ll get giant boobies!”

“What color is he? Brown like chocolate?”

“Mommy! There’s an ant on my dress! Can I put him in my piggy bank?”

“Jesus CHRIST! Jesus CHRIST!”, muttered angrily under her breath while stomping around at the DMV.

“Mommy, you look droopy!”, as she watched me try on a bathing suit.

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