Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Do-do-do-do-do Dora!

Norah is back on Dora, after a long hiatus. Which is fine-- I don't get the hate. Well, I get it...

But I like Dora. In fact, I think I'd like to apply for a freelance job at Nick Jr. and help improve the show. Here are a few ideas.

1. Incorporate some public service announcements.

"Oh, no! My cigarettes!"

2. Teach about current issues, such as bullying, and sticking up for yourself.

"I have a riddle for you, motherfucker."

3. Foster a sense of self-empowerment.

"Find your own mommy. Maybe that'll teach you to listen to her."

I'll patiently wait by my email for a job offer from Nick Jr. execs.

Until then, check out this awesome video of Dora grown up:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Bowling Highlights

My mom, sister, Norah, and I went bowling. You may be asking yourself, "Can a toddler bowl?" Why, yes.

Tiny Bowling Shoes
They surprisingly had tiny bowling shoes for tiny bowlers. And an 8-pound ball, which of course was still too heavy for Muscles McGee, but the neon orange-ness of it made up for that.

Bumpers and Ramps
Nowadays, these new-fangled, fancy-pants bowling computers not only keep score (In your face, third-grade teacher Mrs. Krueger. I new I didn't need to learn that bullshit.), but you can program them such that when the tiny bowler is up, bumpers rise out of the floor, making gutter balls a nonissue.

They also have ramps. Noon and I heaved the big 8-pounder over to the ramp, and she gleefully pushed it with all her might.

Norah and I
Knocking Over Pins
The actual knocking over of pins was not the height of excitement. Pushing the ball, dancing in between turns, and being cheerleader was more entertaining for Norah. Which was just as well, because even with the ramp pointed directly at the center pin and bumpers preventing an open frame (yeah, I know a little bowling lingo), Norah had a pretty shitty score. I couldn't believe the ball actually made it down to the pins a couple times. From the time she pushed it down the ramp to the contact of a pin, we could do a little dance, have a sip of lemonade, go to the bathroom, play songs on the jukebox, steal other people's street shoes, play four games of pinball, spray disinfectant in every rental shoe in the place, wax two lanes, and finish a medium-sized pizza. Then watch to see if the ball would knock over the pin, or if it would bounce back.

Mom and Sarah are Bowling Machines
Now these two are actually pretty good. I can't remember who won, but they kicked our asses. Mom even got a turkey, which upon recounting the evening, Norah excitedly called a chicken.

Cosmic Bowling
Eventually, after we had retreated to the restaurant for pizza and cake, which Sarah had brought for her BFF who manages the bowling alley for her birthday, and cosmic bowling came on. At first, Norah peered out to the alley and declared she didn't like it. I thought she was just confused, so I took her by the hand to investigate.

We couldn't leave after that. It was dark. There was a disco ball. Colored lights danced across the floor. The black light made our shoelaces and t-shirts glow. Guns and Roses' Paradise City boomed out of the speakers. Norah found a spotlight and started dancing.

After a few more 80's metal tunes, we tore her away, a little teary, but not a complete meltdown.

We may have to think about bowling for her birthday. It was a good time.

Friday, October 21, 2011

It's Story Time: Clifford the Big Red Dog

"Your dog shit in my yard again, Lance."
"Did you actually
see Clifford do it? There are a lot of dogs in this neighborhood."


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How Cats and Toddlers are Alike

I help you, Mama.
They won't let me go to the bathroom alone.

They constantly need to be touching me or on top of me.

They are mesmerized by mini blinds and can't go 10 minutes without touching them.

They are destroyers of mini blinds.

They don't want the food I give them. Only treats.

They don't want the toys I buy them. Only stupid things, like crumpled pieces of paper and empty boxes.

They are loud when I'm on the phone.

They feel like they need to sleep in my bed every night when they have perfectly fine beds specifically designed for them.

They both love chicken nuggets and think I'm an asshole for not letting them share.

I have to take care of their poop.

They are scared of the vacuum.

They do not listen to me when I say "no" or "please come here."

They have both tried to eat crayons.

They both want to climb in the dryer.

They always have something to say.

They are amazingly good at finding spiders.

They're both dumbfounded by laser toys.

And they're lucky they're both cute. Or they'd both me in a cage.

Friday, October 14, 2011

It's Story Time: Rumplestiltskin

"Hey lady, we had a deal. Hand him over."

"Pluh... please. Take him. So... tired. So very tired."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Halloween: Candy, Costumes, and Raging Sexism

It's almost Halloween, and I'm having mixed feelings again. I love Halloween-- the decorations, the dressing up, the events, the candy, the pumpkin carving, yadda yadda yadda.

But I loathe-- and I mean loathe-- the bullshit sexism that goes along with it. Sexism is often institutionalized in today's world, but for Halloween it is just flagrantly twirling its nipple tassels at us.

Really? A sexy skunk?
This is Alice in Wonderland.
And while I could go on and on and on and on and on about the expectation of women dressing like hookers on this hallowed holiday, turning helpless animals and storybook characters into sex-crazed, lingerie-wearing, fetish-enabling, pedophilia/zoophilia-inflicted misogynist perv-tantalizing creatures, what I'm going to focus on is the perpetuation of gender stereotypes in toddler costumes. Sound awesomely interesting? Read on!

Now, Norah changed her mind every day for the last two months about the costume she'd have for Halloween. Princess, fairy, shark, Big Bad Wolf, butterfly... every day it was something new. So when she said she wanted to be a dog three days in a row, we figured it was semi-safe to commit and procure a costume. Aunt Sarah, Norah, and I looked online and Norah decided Scooby Do was the winner. Great. I personally love Scooby and those gang of meddling kids.

But did you know that Scooby is in the boy section of the costume places? So are dinosaurs, superheroes, humorous costumes, police and firefighter costumes, and all spooky costumes. Guess what's in the girl category? Never mind. I'll show you.


TV/Movie (Includes Yo Gabba, video game characters, characters from Cars and Thomas the Train, Scooby, Spongebob, Toy Story costumes, etc.)

Superheroes (Includes Superman, Green Lantern, etc.)

Sports (Includes football players, baseball, etc.)

Dinosaur (Duh)

Classic (Includes pirates, ninjas, monsters, devils, etc.)

Career (cops, firefighters, astronauts, military, cowboys, etc.)

Animal (Dogs, assorted zoo creatures, etc.)


TV/Movie (Princesses, Strawberry Shortcake, Lalaloopsy (whatever the hell that is), Minnie Mouse, storybook characters, Dora, etc.)

Bugs (Bees, butterflies, ladybugs)

Classic (Cute witches (not spooky), ballerinas, angels and devils, mermaids, clowns, etc.)

Career (Cheerleader, genie, dancer, referee, etc.)

Disney Princesses (Duh)

Princess, Fairy Costumes (Duh)

Storybook (Alice, Red Riding Hood, cute witches, rag dolls, etc.)

Superheroes (Spidergirl, Supergirl, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, etc.)

Let me point out some obvious stuff.

1. There are no angel costumes for boys; just devils. Because boys should be mischievous and devilish.

2. Girls have no scary costumes. Girls should be pretty.

3. Girls have no funny costumes. Boys are funny. Girls should be pretty.

4. Athletic goals are vastly different. Girls can be cheerleaders, referees, even soccer players, as long as they're cute. Boys are tough and strong and... whatevs.

5. The career aspirations of girls vs. the aspirations of boys are also wildly different. Each-end-of-the-spectrum different.


6. Look at this shit.



If there were a Spidergirl, she wouldn't wear this.


Come on.

7. God forbid a little boy want to be a Care Bear or a unicorn or something. THE SHAME. (This is heavily sarcastic, for the literal.)

Now, I know, I know-- boys can just buy "girl" costumes and vice versa. But the point is, we keep clutching on to these stereotypes and it's stifling us. It's crippling our imagination. It's limiting our vision. And it's even hurting some. It's not just stupid Halloween costumes. It's the message behind them. Girls SHOULD be one way, boys SHOULD be another. If you are "other," you are different. And guess what? Even in 2011, different = bad.

And that sucks.

So, while I love Halloween, I hate it, too. Because on Halloween, gender expectations seem exaggerated. An in-your-face reminder of how we judge and crate people in to what "we" believe they should be. We need to remember that every day kids, teens, and adults face these ridiculous expectations. We see it in bullying, discrimination, and exile. When are we going to just mind our own damn business and let people be who they are meant to be?

Friday, October 7, 2011

It's Story Time: Rapunzel

"Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down thy hair, so that I may climb thy golden stair."

"Sorry. My stylist recommends that people's hair should only be one sixth of their height."

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

An Open Letter to Space Aliens

Dear Space Aliens,

I'd like to discuss your mascot. Your seven-foot tall mascot. The one that towers over children with its giant corpse head and spindly tentacle fingers. The one that silently and ominously glides from table to table. Yeah, that one.

Yes, this was totally worth ten dollars.
We went to a birthday party at Space Aliens, a seemingly happy place filled with pizza, unnaturally large baked potatoes, and pointless games that require annoying tokens and produce tickets which then yield landfill-occupying plastic crap masked as fabulous prizes.

The point of this place is to spend upwards of $50,000 in alien tokens in order for your child to win a prize that was made in some sweatshop in Thailand and was purchased in bulk from a franchise for about two cents per unit.

Anyway, as I was trying to force a child-sized cheeseburger down my daughter's throat, which was impossible due to the lure of skeeball and drop-a-token-on-Spongebob-and-win-some-stupidass-tickets game, we heard an announcement over the loud speaker. Someone was going to visit us. A visitor from Area 51.

I was initially a little excited. Norah loves mascot-type things. She loves the giant bat we see at our local baseball games. She loved the evil-looking easter bunny at the mall. She even loved-- and hugged-- the giant foam urine sample cup.

But when this dark figure entered the room, she clung to me and whimpered. She buried her head in my neck. It wordlessly lurked about, posing for pictures with the other children. Norah clutched my sweatshirt and trembled. It floated past our table. Quit lingering, motherfucker, I tried to message him telepathically. The children in our group weren't even all that interested in the creature, yet he remained. Little Ralphie just looked at it suspiciously. Baby Ella seemed mildly amused at first, and then drew her attention back to her mother. The other kids were busy with their grandparents.

After it finally left, she asked where it was. And kept asking. She needed to know it was far away. She saw it again from across the restaurant and was back on my lap. That night she would randomly ask me about it. Where was it? She seemed to know that it was a person dressed up, but nonetheless, it frightened her.

"It wasn't real, Mommy."

"What wasn't real, Baby?"

"The alien. It was pretend. It was Halloween."

"That's right, Baby. It was just a dude dressed up. Just like we dress up for Halloween. No need to be afraid!"

"I don't like that. I don't like aliens."

And she hasn't slept in her bed for three nights. Even with a nightlight. Even with me in there with her. Even if I put her in her bed while she's already asleep. She'll wake up and scream for me.

So, to the point, Space Aliens, you owe me three nights' sleep. This is what I'm dealing with here, so you know how serious I am.

Sleeping with Norah

1. We fall asleep on the couch in the dark.

2. Gently take her to her room and cover her up.

3. I hear screaming an hour later.

4. Try to soothe; singing, backrubs, etc.

5. Can't take the begging and crying anymore.

6. Bring to Ryan on the couch (he's a night owl.)

7. They fall asleep on the couch.

8. He puts her down to sleep, clumsily.

9. She wakes and screams for Mommy.

10. I bring her to my bed.

Someone kill me.
11. I spend 7-8 hours with my muscles tense, so as to not fall off the bed. I try to switch sleeping positions slightly so that I alternate limbs falling asleep and going numb, without lifting my head off my 1/8 of the pillow, because the second my head is up, Norah's head occupies that space. Then she mumbles, "Scooch over, Mama." Then Ryan starts to snore and Norah mumbles, "Mommy. Daddy snores." Then one tingling or numb hand reaches over to tap Ryan. Then the goddamn cat sees movement and begins to attack, thinking it's happy super fun play time. Then Norah starts giggling and saying, "I like my cat, Mongo." Then Mongo attacks Norah's feet because they're wiggling as she laughs. Then she starts to cry, "Mongo bites me." Then I sit up and throw the cat off the bed. Then Norah wails, "You pushed my cat." Then I lie and say, "No, Honey, Mommy hugs Mongo." Then Ryan murmurs, "What's going on?" Then I lie down, but Norah's head is where my head was. Then I shift down to the bottom quarter of the bed. Then Norah says, "I'm not tired. Let's go to the living room."

12. Ryan benevolently brings Norah to the living room, but leaves the door open, so I can plainly hear her crying about that sonofabitch alien and that she wants chocolate milk. I lie there and eventually fall back asleep.

13. Then I'm awoken by Norah placing rainbow-colored foam letters on my back. She's wearing a colorful t-shirt that does not have a hedgehog on it (Jessica, the t-shirt bestower, says it's an echidna.) Cute. But also multi-colored neon-striped leggings, and ruffly white socks. This is what happens when Mommy oversleeps and Daddy dresses the short one. I didn't even give a shit. Off you go.

14. And I go to work.

So, thank you, space Aliens. Because of your alien mascot, Ryan and I will probably get divorced or one of us will murder the other, due to lack of sleep and irritability. A broken home. Or I'll get fired for falling asleep at my desk and we'll end up in my mother-in-law's basement. More laws will certainly be broken after that. And Norah's budding social life will be quashed prematurely due to her goofy, mismatched outfits. She'll become a loner, start collecting small, dead animal carcasses, and eventually end up trying to sell her outsider art on the street corner for cheap liquor.

Thank you, Space Aliens, for ruining our entire fucking life.