Monday, January 24, 2011

Musical Tastes

I have been called a music snob. I disagree with the term placed on me, wholeheartedly. I know music snobs. They were the college-radio-DJing, improv-jazz-appreciating, rockabilly-toe-tapping, obscure-classical-music-listening people whom would scoff at my music collection.

That said, I do have strong opinions about music. I'm no snob, but I'm a huge music lover, and I constantly have music in the house, readily available instruments for Norah to play, and different playlists for a multitude of situations. Playlists include: Cleaning the House, Norah Dance Party, Sitting Around the Campfire, Feeling Sorry for Myself, etc.

I also proudly proclaim that I don't care who thinks I'm "cool" or if my musical tastes are "cool." I like what I like.

However, I admitted something to myself today.

I loaded up what I thought were cool songs for babies into my iTunes for rocking Norah to sleep as a baby. I didn't load any "Mary Had a Little Lamb" bullshit. I loaded arias and old jazz music and grunge music. I played all my favorite songs, and songs from groups I felt I should appreciate more.

As she grew older, I noticed what she really liked was Yo Gabba Gabba. Really? The Stones over "Party in my Tummy?" I could hardly stomach it. I kept pressing. No "Wheels on the Bus," honey. How about some Billie Holiday? Part of me wanted to smugly tell other parents that my daughter loved Chopin, not Raffi. I wanted her to sing "Blackbrid," not "Mockingbird." That would be so cool.

But guess what? She doesn't care for Radiohead and she doesn't already have The Decemberists' new single memorized. She sings "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," "Jingle Bells," and the theme from that dumbass Wonder Pets show. And my mom and sister have her loving country music. I actually put on a country music station in the car the other day when she was having a meltdown. And it worked.

So when MC Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" came on the digital music station the other day and she started shaking her little baby butt, I decided to just join in and embrace it. Who cares? She likes what she likes. And she likes saying, "Hammertime!"

Luckily, I've found Yo Gabba has some fun music that isn't brain-stabbingly annoying like "Wheels on the Bus." It features Weezer and The Ting Tings and The Aquabats. And she still dances to The Rolling Stones once in a while. Everyone wins. That is, except Ryan. He has his headphones on listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dadland II

We hit the mall last night. Ryan had an evening shift, and neither Norah nor I could stand the thought of another boring night at home. She actually said, "No home" when I was buckling her into her carseat after daycare. I didn't blame her.

So we had a girls' night out. We hit Noodles first and shared a mac and cheese. Then we hit the mall. Yes, that's very sad and pathetic, but the mall has Playland. Or, as I've called it, Dadland.

Upon entering the mall, Norah started bouncing up and down in my arms, saying, "Over there! Over there!" We took off all our layers of outerwear and drippy shoes, and she took off while I surveyed the smallish group. Interesting. Only one dad. And he was pretty near his kid and seemed somewhat engaged. Two moms texting or something on their phones.

I had originally thought that Playland was the place dads took their kids so they could ignore them and do their own thing, while earning points with their significant others for spending time with the kids. But perhaps my sexism was unwarranted.

And then I decided I should try to let go and let Norah be. I don't have a fancy-pants phone, so I could do anything spectacular, although I do have ScrabbleBlast. But I wasn't into it. I just sat back and let her do her thing.

She tore around like a tornado, saying hi to the three other kids and waving to me once in a while as she jumped over obstacles and slid down slopes. There was a baby crawling around, maybe 9-10 months old, and she was enthralled with her. "Look at me, Baby! Do this, Baby!" The mom would look up occasionally from her phone and laugh when Norah would make the baby squeal and giggle.

A few more kids arrived, and a few more parents with their phones. Now there were a few older kids-- maybe 4 or 5 years old. The play became a little more aggressive. I started to tense, but resolved not to hover. None of the other parents were in the play area. Then I saw an older boy grab Norah's arm to try to get her to do something. I got up and took her hand, leading her to the little slide, and trying to glare at one of the Phone Dads, but I couldn't get his eye.

So I started playing, too. Out of fear of injury or tears. But then some kid told me I was in his way. (It was polite, for what it's worth). And then I realized I really was in the way of everything. They were running and screaming and had sort of developed their own little game called "Monster." The girls (Norah, a girl around her age and an older girl) were trapped in the "cave" and the boys would take turns roaring at them from the opening on top to make them scream and laugh. Norah was having a blast. I was in the way.

I sat back down. Still sort of at the edge of my seat, but away from the action. She was happily engaged with perfect strangers. She was holding her own. She didn't fall down when accidentally bumped. She didn't cry. She kept playing. She even called some other kid a baby, to which he replied, "Don't you call me a baby! You're a baby!" I started to stand up to intervene, and to tell the kid that Norah's just a baby and doesn't know any better, but Norah just maybe a noise like, "Blah-dee-da-dee-da" and ran away laughing.

She's not a baby, is she? She did fine. And while some of the parents could have at least watched their kids a tiny bit (I had to run and grab that baby as it crawled out of Playland and into the mall), they were right. I was wrong. And it was awesome to see her interacting with others without me being in the mix. To see her social skills developing and her sense of humor shine. I was proud of her. And proud of me.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Two Nights Away

So, I'm a freak. If you've read one or more of my posts, this won't surprise you. I'm a future hover-mom, to use an annoying neologism, and a worrywart and a spaz. So you won't be surprised when I tell you I had only been away from Norah overnight once, and that it was painful.

Then our company meeting starting looming on the horizon. Two overnights up north. Possibly three, if I wanted to enjoy the company holiday party. And I began to dread.

I overanalyzed everything. I laid out clothes for her. I created a video of me singing her regular lullaby. I pictured her crying in the night and Ryan sleeping too hard to hear her screaming, "Mommy gone! Mommy gone!"

A couple days before the trip, she had a bad day at daycare (the first bad day, actually), and I knelt by her and asked her why she was sad. She said, "Mommy gone." I looked at Ryan with tears in my eyes. He knelt down by her, too.

"Norah, were you sad because Daddy was gone?"


"Were you sad because Hannah was gone?"


"Norah, were you sad because the unicorns ate up all the finger paint?"


Then he looked at me as if to say, "See? You're a freak."

And I replied, "All I heard is, 'Mommy gone.'" I didn't want her for one moment to think that I was never coming back. I was scared.

But we did it. And I learned a couple things through this time of dread and planning and staying away.

One, don't bitch to people who have more than one child, or people who aren't fellow weirdos. You will invariably hear this as the conversation: "I have to stay two nights at this fancy resort up north for work, away from N!" "Yeah, bummer. Fuck off."

Two, don't call home. You'll hear chaos in the background, or crying, or something completely innocuous that still raises the hair on the back of your neck and the bile in your stomach, and you'll feel guilty, worried, and stressed out for the rest of the trip.

Me: "Put me on speaker!"
Ryan: "Ok... Norah, Mommy's on the phone!"
Me: "Hi, Baby! I love you and I miss you!"
Me: "Baby?! What's wrong?! What's happening?!"
Ryan: "She dropped her gummy vitamin."
Me: "Oh my god! I'm coming home!"

Three, keep busy. If you're constantly doing something, you won't have time to think about it.

Four, don't make your significant other feel like they're incompetent; as if no one can possibly care for the child but you. I inadvertently did this. Not through directly saying it, but my constant worry and stress about the trip made Ryan feel like I didn't think he could hack it. Sure, I felt that way a little, but I didn't want to cut down his confidence. Anyway, I knew she'd be safe and loved, and I should have communicated to Ryan that that wasn't my concern.

And five, try to let go. Try to actually enjoy yourself a little instead of wallowing in guilt and worry. There's nothing wrong with having a couple drinks with co-workers and a few laughs. In fact, I know that a little time away will make me a better mom in the long run. I need my own life.

So those are the lessons I learned. And we survived. The homecoming was actually a little anti-climactic.  Ryan was holding Norah as I burst through the front door and she just casually reached for me to hold her. Then she wanted me to go to the office and play Yo Gabba Gabba on the computer. But later on, as we snuggled on the couch close to bedtime, she wrapped her arms around my neck and said, "Hi, Mommy." That was a happy homecoming. And now I can start worrying about the summer meeting.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year

It's been so long, I'm not even sure where to start. How about some end-of-the-year Norah highlights from December?

Norah's first Christmas pageant
Colossal fail. She was sick and couldn't go. I am not exaggerating when I say I was devastated. She did, however, regale us with her rendition of Jingle Bells while dancing in the kitchen in her monkey pajamas.

Christmas Eve
She was still sick, and that made her a little sensitive. There was some drama until she got to tear into the five thousand, four hundred thirty-two gifts from my family. Then she was pleased. She also opened others' gifts and chanted "Rip it. Rip it. Rip it" because they clearly needed some encouragement.

Christmas Morning
The GeoTrax was a HUGE hit. She hugged it after a while. She loves playing "Choo choo" and also pretending to be the choo choo. When she hits the tunnel though, she throws up her arms and says, "Too big!"

Christmas Evening
Our first time hosting. Ryan's mom, and of course the small annoying dog, joined us for homemade pizza a la Ryan and more spoiling of Norah. She got loud musical instruments which she loves. Yay.

Norah turns 2
My tiny little baby turned two amidst all this holiday business. She got to wear a crown at daycare and was very pleased with herself. Her aunt and grandparents continued with the lavish gift giving as if I don't live in a 920 square foot residence. Note: when balloons start to droop, some two-year-olds freak out and think they're broken, crying, kicking them and screaming "No working! No working!" This is not fun.

New Year's Eve
We went to a friend's house and Norah got to party with her bff, Samantha, aka, Minta. After a giant chocolate cupcake, the chugging of apple juice, and some wild jumping with Minta on her bed, Norah barfed all over. Yep, on Samantha's bed. Wonderful. I guess it ain't New Year's until someone vomits. But it used to be us and from shots. This year we were home by 9:30. Pretty late for the short one! But it was fun. She wailed when we had to leave (She desperately loves my friend, Sara) but Sara's husband cheered her up on the way out and she was chatty and wired on the way home. We pulled in the driveway and she said, "No home! Party!" That's my girl!