Tuesday, May 29, 2012


As a child, I was never particularly successful socially. I was loud, intense, and too smart for my own damn good. I was awkward, and while my behavior was simply a desperate attempt to fit in and be liked, a lot of the time, it totally backfired.

As I got older, I got more awkward, and the kids just got.....meaner.

Which made me more awkward.

Which made me more of a target.

This was a cycle. This may also explain why I was smoking by the age of 12.

These days there is a lot of talk about bullying, and a lot of Zero Tolerance policies, and a lot of ways that kids can be horrible to each other away from the supervision of grownups. Even if the adults know that something is going on, a bully is going to bully.

It can be hard to tell whether the line has been crossed from teasing to bullying. There are checklists, and message boards, and all manner of experts who would be happy to break it down for you - but when you are in the thick of it, it is very hard to decide: how far is too far?

This morning I was informed that my son came up with the term "Donkeyhole" and felt that it was an acceptable - nay, hilarious - turn of phrase.

Clever little monkey, isn't he.

Donkeyhole. This is definitely a highlight of my parenting career.

Is it bullying to call someone a Donkeyhole? I can't say for sure. Maybe I am too close to the situation to make a call on that. I want to believe that when my son called someone a Donkeyhole, it was not meant to be mean, probably more to entertain and get a laugh. I can't imagine that it could even be said with a straight face. But I suppose anything is possible.

What about calling someone a loser? Can that be said in jest? I'm sure it can. But if my son called someone a loser, he would be spending a very long time in his room thinking about all of the privledges he had just lost for using that word. WHO'S THE LOSER NOW, DONKEYHOLE?

I heard about this Donkeyhole business during a meeting - a meeting during which I had to keep a straight face and pretend to be the grownup in this situation because OH THAT'S RIGHT I AM THE GROWNUP. We had this meeting because last week, which began with the infamous Teabagging of 2012, ended with my son being called "gay" a "loser" and told that he "sucked" a number of times.

I am having trouble finding the humor in that.

Do you remember 5th grade? Unfortunately, I do. And the next year - I didn't believe it was possible, but it was: middle school just got worse. In fact, I was absolutely miserable until I got to high school. And I have no intention of watching history repeat itself.

So what does it say about me as a parent, when my child came home day after day with these stories, and I was supporting him by asking things like "What did you say or do to make them act like this?"

How is it that I immediately assumed that my child had somehow egged them on, or brought it upon himself? And then one day, he came home completely defeated. "We were singing, and this kid said I tried to kiss him, and then his friend said to me 'Stop touching your dick.' AND I WASN'T Mom, I swear I wasn't doing that. I was singing."

My jaw dropped open. I realized at that moment, when my son felt he needed to defend himself to me, his own mother, that something was terribly wrong. Something had shifted - the balance of power, the tone of the conversation, the personal - sexual - nature of the teasing.

Is that the line? Could someone please show me the line so that I know when to get all batshit mama bear crazy? And when to just give my kid a hug and go out for ice cream?

It's not like the adults haven't been addressing this issue all week long. Letters of apology were written and received, tears were shed, rules were clarified. And still it continued - and escalated. And my boy defending himself by calling the other guy a Donkeyhole.

Because my son, for all his many human weaknesses, truly doesn't have the ability to be cruel. Obnoxious, yes. Absolutely. Bossy? Yep. Emotional? That's putting it mildly. But he's not mean. Donkeyhole was his way of fighting back. A real tough guy.

I'm surprised I didn't find him tied to the flagpole.

So what, exactly, is the solution? If the kid tells a teacher what is going on, he's tattling. If kids are just joking and one of them over-reacts or feels picked on or gets his feelings hurt, was he bullied? I called a little girl a bitch once on the playground. I was six. And just for the record, she was a total bitch. Was I a bully?

Maybe I should have called her a donkeyhole instead.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

My kid just asked me if "teabagging" was a real thing.

I'm walking by his room and I stick my head in the doorway and say "G'night, see you in the morning."

And he says "Hey mom, is teabagging really a thing? Or  is *** just kidding?"

And I say "What the WHAT?!"

Whatever happened to "Goodnight mom"?


So I took a deep breath and stepped into his room and said "I'm sorry, I think I misunderstood you. What did you just say?"


If there was ever a moment when I wanted to run screaming out of a room, this was IT. I stood there, clenching and unclenching my fists, and trying like hell to figure out what to say. And hoping that when I opened my mouth I didn't puke.

Okay, mama, think. First, I need to figure out what he knows. Or what he *thinks* he knows.

"Hm." I played it very cool. "What did *** say it meant?"

"Well, he kept bending his knees and kind of squatting and saying he was teabagging. He did it over and over again. And while he did it he said "Teabagging, oh yeah, I'm te-"

"Okay, thanks I get it."

Oh my god.

I was gagging. I couldn't breathe. I did NOT want to talk about this ANYMORE.

" Max, that kid is awful. Yuck. Gross. If he ever does that again walk away - quickly. And please, do not ever repeat that phrase. I never want to hear you say 'teabagging' and if you say it in front of anyone else and I find out about it I will SPANK YOU."

His eyes got wide and he said "Yes mom, I won't ever say it again mom."

Which is the right answer DING DING DING GIVE THIS BOY A PRIZE because he is only 11, after all.

Yes, that's right. My 11 year old heard about teabagging from another 11 year old.

Their testicles have barely descended. Oh, good god.

I am skipping my mug of Lipton tonight, I just don't think I can stomach it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Cops and Robbers is no kids game, and Guns aren't toys

There are times when being a parent is so incredibly, indescribably rewarding, and times when you are convinced that you are doing it wrong and have failed your children miserably, and times when you think you are doing alright only to have everyone around you say otherwise - sometimes more directly than others, but the message comes through loud and clear.

10-4, good buddy. I get it. I'm the village idiot.

Folks, this (ex-) smoking, drinking (on the weekends), half naked (as often as possible) tattooed and mohawked roller derby-loving mother is here to announce that she is one of the most uptight people you are ever going to meet. At least where guns are concerned.

Tonight, I sat and watched a tribute to Adam MCA Yauch, a tribute with three little kids re-enacting the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" video that all of my friends are "liking" on Facebook, and I cried. I cried because little kids were shooting (pretend) pistols at other little kids, and mannequins dressed like little kids were being thrown from overpasses and MY GOD PEOPLE WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE? And I wondered what MCA himself would think, seeing little kids dressed up and pretending to shoot guns at each other in honor of his memory and accomplishments. I don't know what he would think, but I can tell you what my reaction was. I was seriously bummed out.

Instead of thinking it was funny, or great, I was profoundly disturbed (you know, more than usual). Gawker pronounced the video's director as being on the short list for Father of the Year for making this video with his kids, and it has almost 180,000 "likes" as I write this, so clearly I am the one who is delusional and over-protective, and I am here to say THAT IS OKAY BY ME. The video is upsetting and disturbing and when the mannequin went flying through the air towards the ground my hands involuntarily flew up and covered my face, even though I knew it was not an actual child. I didn't like this video. Nor did I "Like" this video. And I am not going to share the link here because I found it so totally inappropriate and upsetting and creepy.

I don't like kids playing with guns. I know, I know. You have heard me talk about this before.

For years I have struggled with buying toy guns, and I have used this blog to hash out my feelings on the subject (sorry if you are sick of my talk therapy, but not to worry - no one else reads these anti-gun posts either). First the water pistols, then the Super Soakers, then Nerf, and lately Airsoft - Max has been intrigued - nay obsessed - with being well armed at all times since he was a toddler. When I refused to provide him with the weapons he felt he needed to survive the mean streets of preschool, he fashioned them out of sticks and pipes and Legos and whatever else he could point at people in a threatening manner. I have been told this is common, but Oh! It made me sad. And years of being asked, begged, coerced, and circumnavigated to get the coveted gun toys had worn me down. Friends have tried to convince me that I am over-reacting, making too big a deal out of it, kids being kids and all of that. Loosen up, mama. And I tried. I tried to be loose. But it didn't work in my twenties, and it isn't working now.

I thought that if I tried to avoid having Max go on playdates with kids that had gun toys I could avoid this issue. But then all the kids had toy guns. So I drew the line at Nerf. Orange foam darts, okay. Pellet guns, sling shots, paintball, and anything like that? Nope. When I found out that a parent of one of his friends had a gun (guns?) in the house, I stopped letting Max go play there because the thought of having a conversation about gun safety with another parent made me weak-kneed. I managed to neatly avoid any major conflict until last month, when he was invited to a birthday party - a party where kids were going to celebrate a child's birth by arming themselves with Airsoft guns and heading into the woods behind a playground to play sniper.

Absolutely Not.

We don't shoot people. Can't that be a rule? I feel like it's a good rule to have. A simple guideline. Targets yes, tin cans sure, animals maybe, people ABSOLUTELY NOT. Even when you are 18 or 21 or however the hell old you have to be to arm yourself these days, and can buy your own gun, it will never be acceptable to shoot people for fun. You don't need to practice shooting people. Shooting people is not a game, therefore it is not okay with me that you run around in the woods shooting people. If I was taking a walk in the woods on public property in a public park and someone shot ME with an Airsoft gun, I would be really pissed. If someone hit one of my kids, I cannot say what I would do. I plead the Fifth. I can tell you that if my kids were playing on a playground and a bunch of older kids ran by brandishing rifles I would call the police.  It is harder and harder these days to tell a toy from the real thing. I don't know the difference between an Airsoft and the real thing even up close - how can anyone be expected to know from a distance? Because the Airsoft has an orange tip? I'm not going to be looking for the orange tip if some kid is shooting a gun near a playground. And if someone's toddler got hit by a wayward pellet, I am pretty sure there would be hell to pay and a lawyer to speak with.

I get that there are plenty of people who disagree with me. It's no big deal. Kids will be kids. It's just a game. Kids have been given BB guns for years. Paintball is fun. Airsoft is harmless. And to that I say "You'll shoot your damn eye out."

No, not really. Listen, I don't have a problem with adults owning guns, I have a problem with people - and especially children - shooting guns for fun. Guns aren't fun - they are scary and they can kill people. Which is why I have a huge problem with people shooting other people for any reason. Even as a game.

And here's where the irony and my inner conflict come in to the conversation:
I have nothing against hunting animals for food.

Please don't tell PETA because I don't want photos of dead animals in my inbox. I am many, many things, but I try not to be hypocritical, and so after long and careful thought I found my line in the sand. And my line is drawn between shooting animals, and shooting humans.

I believe that there are benefits to thinning the herd and I am a meat-eater who loves venison. THAT'S RIGHT I ATE BAMBI'S MOTHER AND SHE WAS DELICIOUS. And I would almost prefer a hunting party than playing a game where the object is to shoot at human targets. Is that crazy? Nonsensical? Well, don't tell me you are surprised - when was the last time I made any sense whatsoever? Thank goodness someone as obviously crazy as I am doesn't own a gun.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

You are one crazy mother

It's 12:01 am - Mother's Day. Dude's bassinet is next to the bed, empty, and I have mixed emotions about it. It definitely feels like something is missing, like he should be here - but of course he shouldn't. He should be right where he is. With his mother.

So even though I am missing him, and feeling his absence, and wishing I could give him a cuddle, I am excited to spend Mother's Day sleeping uninterrupted for as long as I want,excited to spend it with Max and Lucy who are my finest accomplishments in life by far, and shining examples of why people have kids in the first place.

But I need to take a minute to remind everyone that you don't need to be a mother to celebrate Mother's Day.

I mean, the number of guys (from boyfriends to employers to house mates) who have acted like I was their mother should have earned me the right to celebrate this holiday long before I actually had a kid. And I had a puppy, you know. Back when I was 20 I had a puppy named Zora, and I loved her and raised her and dammit that should have counted for something, because the amount of time I spent cleaning up after that dog far surpasses any cleanup I have experienced with a real live baby.

Mother's Day is, in my opinion, a day to express gratitude for every woman who has every nurtured a living soul. It has absolutely nothing to do with your uterus - those things are totally over rated. After my trial run at mothering man and beast, I had a child of my own - and it felt less like a miracle and more like a science project. I was not glowing, and it didn't come naturally. Then we were foster parents, which is when I really learned that the hard work of being a mother has nothing to do with biology. And when we adopted a child, I realized that Nature vs Nurture is a Real Thing.

Turns out, I am one hard core mother.

Which is why I can say with confidence: Ladies, if you have ever loved someone, been invested in their future, stayed awake at night worrying about them, taken care of them when they needed you, lifted them up at their lowest point, fed and clothed them, cleaned them or cleaned up after them, taught them and listened to them and encouraged them and kept them safe and watched them grow and kicked their ass when it needed it, then Ma'am, this day is for you.

So here's to the teachers and coaches, the doctors and nurses, the day care providers, the animal lovers, the kindly neighbors, the officers and firefighters, the aunties and tutus, the kumus and grandmas, and anyone else who has given a damn, inconvenienced themselves, put someone else first, been the last phone call from jail or the first phone call to get the good news -

I salute you.

This one is for the Mother in all of us, because damned if we aren't all in this together. All of us are mothers of some sort. In fact, I challenge you to find a woman who does not have a shred of maternal instinct. Because even the most stone cold bitch has held someone's hair while they puked, or cheered someone up when they were blue, or given a tampon to the stranger in the next stall. Women are sisters are mothers and this world would be a filthy miserable lonely hungry desperate boring place without us and our magical vaginas (which according to spell check should actually be "vaginae" but whatever, we only have one and I think I know what I am talking about SPELL CHECK).

So like it or not Mama, Happy Mother's Day. Give your vag a high-five and take a nap. You earned it.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

So......he's really leaving.

This weekend we are having Dude's going away party.

The party is really more for all of our friends than for Dude - we want to say "thank you" for all of the gifts and support and flexibility everyone has shown us since December 19th, when he arrived.

All (almost) 5 pounds of him.

It has been a difficult few months. Our entire life was put on hold to take care of this very unexpected holiday delivery.

First, he slept all the time and I had to strip him naked and rub his feet to keep him awake long enough to eat.

Then he cried for 6 weeks, pretty much every time I put him down.

So I held him. All the time. I held him while I cooked, I held him while I worked, I held him while I tried to sleep sitting up on the couch. I typed one-handed for over a month.

And then he started to blossom into his own cute little self.

And he got bigger.

And became an important part of our family.

We are all sad to say goodbye. And we planned the party this weekend to both say thank you to everyone, and to give everyone the chance to say "So long, pal" to Dude.

This afternoon when the social worker called to tell me that they were accelerating the reunification plan, I was sad, but really thrilled for his mom and dad. I know they are anxious to have him with them full time, and they have worked very hard to regain custody. They are sober, healthy, and attending classes together. And as a result of getting clean, and bonding with this amazing baby they have created, I feel confident that their priorities are in the right order. It is yet another thing that we are celebrating - his parents, and their accomplishments.

So it was great news to hear he would be one step closer to being with his mom full time.

And then they told me that this was going to start on Friday.
This Friday.
The day of the party.
The party for Dude.

I almost burst into tears.

For six months, my life has been in someone else's hands, and lived according to someone else's schedule. It was not convenient. It was not easy. But we managed to make it work. Dude was the priority.

Hearing that he would not be at his own going away party was just......it was too much. This is not about me, or the party, or the end of our custody. And it wasn't about Dude, I know that. He doesn't care about saying goodbye to everyone. He doesn't need a party.

This was about trying to have some closure for our family - and our community - and having that opportunity squashed. And how could I say "He can't be with his mom Friday night - we're having a party for him." That would be ridiculous, I know. It would be selfish. But it seemed so wrong, to have everything end so abruptly, with n notice. To not let everyone give him a hug goodbye and whisper their blessings in his ear, take a picture with him, smell his sweet baby head one last time...... that seemed selfish too.

So I took a deep breath and said, "Here's the thing."

And the worker understood, and was very kind, and said it could start Saturday morning instead.So beginning Saturday at 9am, I will drop him off with his mom, and he will only be at our house 3 nights a week. He will officially be spending more time with his mom than with us.
And from there it will be just a few more weeks until he is with her full time.

And the baby stuff will go back in the attic.
And I guess everything will go back to normal.
Whatever the hell "normal" is.

Bye, little Dude. We're sure going to miss you around here.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

I'm not putting that on a t shirt you moron

Since the beginning of time, my husband has played in bands with stupid names. Until recently, most of the lead singers have had control issues, the drummers were all insane, and the gigs were in the shittiest bars in town. But the worst part of it all is that the names of these bands have been absolutely terrible.

I swear to you. Every time he joined a new band and told me the band name, my eyes would involuntarily roll into the back of my head. But, still I was supportive. I lugged cords and sat through soundchecks, spent Sundays hanging around music stores while he bought new and better equipment that we couldn't always afford, and listened to hours upon hours of the same songs, played over and over again ad nauseum.
I didn't mind. While the band names were terrible, the music has always been very, very good. My husband is a very talented bass player, and he has always played with other equally talented musicians. I have maintained a good attitude about the entire thing, and encouraged him to play whenever the opportunity arose.

Lately, he has been playing with a new group of guys - and by "playing" I mean hanging out at one of the guy's houses in a soundproof room on Friday nights, drinking tequila (Sam) and wine coolers (don't ask). They have had a few singers cycle through, but apparently it was never a good fit - and by "fit" I assume these potential singers talked shit about the wine coolers. My point is, the "band" he's in now is a very casual thing. No gigs. No singer. No set list. No band name. Just some guys, playing music.

Until last week.

Last week, one of Sam's current band mates - who also happens to be his co-worker - decided to throw a party, basically so that they could play in front of an audience. And an email was circulated at work promoting the event, and the band. Sam printed out the email and brought it home, leaving it out for me to look at after the kids were in bed.

You can imagine my surprise when I read the email and saw that the guys had come up with a name for their shenanigans.

Somehow, 3 middle-aged men with careers and families sat down and decided that their band name was going to be "Stinkfinger". And they apparently shared this little nugget with their co-workers, who promptly circulated an email via the company email system announcing the band name and encouraging everyone at work to come see them play. Which means that the company that my husband works for now believes that he is a member of a band called "Stinkfinger".


That's it. That's what they came up with. Stinkfinger.

So I set the email back down on the kitchen counter and walked purposefully to the bedroom where he lay in bed reading a copy of Rolling Stone and I said "Are you out of your mind?"


"STINKFINGER? You named your band STINKFINGER? Stinkfinger. Really. That's just great. And now your whole office thinks that is the name of the band. They believe that you are in a band called Stinkfinger."

"No, no.....we're just kidding."


"Yeah, I know bu-"


"I'm not sur-"

"Let me explain something to you, SAM. If I am in public - hell, if I am in my own BACKYARD and you guys are introduced as 'Stinkfinger' I am getting up and taking the kids and leaving. I am not going to sit there and smile like an idiot and point you out and say 'My husband is Stinkfinger's bass player.' I am not wearing a tshirt that says STINKFINGER across the front of it. I will not do it."
"Don't worry, that won't happen, it's just a joke."

"It's not funny."

"It's kind of funny."

"No. See, it's NOT. It's not fucking funny."

"Okay, I understand. You will never hear that name again."

So we go to the party, and they start playing, and there is no mention of anything at all relating to fingers - stinky or otherwise. I wandered inside to grab a beer and sat down on the couch for a minute to let Dude wriggle around and one of the guests came over to admire him.

"So," she said as she tickled Dude's toes. "How'd they come up with the name Stinkfinger?"

The guitars will be listed on Craigslist shortly. I'm keeping the extension cords, but if you're in the market for a sweet amp, let me know.