Bedtime
by Mom

... and the very best mommy in the world slept oh-so-sweetly that night, all because bedtime had gone according to plan. The end.
















Step 1: Eat dinner. Vegetable frittata, pasta with marinara and kale, ice cream.
Step 2: Color with crayons. Creative expression, quiet wind-down play, something fun to mail to my parents in the next letter.
Step 3: Take a bath. Play with water, splash gently, experience discovery, pour water from your cup back into the bath and learn physics.
Step 4: Go into bedroom. Quietly. Calmly.
Step 5: Soothing baby massage. Allow Chicken to pick his own pajamas.
Step 6: Milk, quiet play with storybooks and stuffed animals.
Step 7: Bedtime story, kiss, goodnight.



Bedtime
by CHICKEN

Tonight I'm reminded of something Fidel Castro once said: "It doesn't matter how small you are if you have faith and a plan of action." It is time to show Mom that I may be small but I will NOT go gently into-- is that the rubber duck? I LOVE the rubber duck!!!
Step 1: Eat dinner. Ice cream.

Step 2: Eat crayons. Better than ice cream.

Step 3: Learn that I can pour water not only IN the bath, but OUTSIDE of the bath! On Mom! On her pants! On the floor! And if I shake my cup! IT GOES ON THE WALLS! 

Step 4: Run into bedroom. Slam the door. THERE ARE SO MANY SOUNDS I CAN MAKE WITH MY MOUTH LIKE A SEAGULL!!! CAW! CAW! CAW!

Step 5: Poop on floor.

Step 6: Step in poop on floor.

Step 7: Run away from Mom across the carpet with a poopy foot.

Step 8: Scream and thrash while Mom cleans my foot, butt, and hand (because I also grabbed my poopy foot.)

Step 9: Baby massage. Mom rubs lotion on my whoooole body and then I roll on the carpet and find out how long it's been since Mom vacuumed. (I'm crunchy now.)

Step 10: Pick pajamas. Fire engines.

Step 11: Pee on pajamas.

Step 12: Pick more pajamas. Pirates.

Step 13: Scream and thrash while Mom puts on my diaper and pajamas.

Step 14: Shake milk upside down on the library books.

Step 15: Pick my favorite book. The world is too big sometimes and I need to sit down on my pillow on Mom's lap. This is the best place in the world. My foot still smells a little like poops.

Step 16: Bedtime story. Kiss. Goodnight.
Remember, safe driving is sexy to the right kind of woman.

If she wants you to run the stop sign, she probably has herpes.


Oh, the agonized howling of waking up from a second nap. 

By now it’s 3:30 or 4 in the afternoon and Chicken cannot believe he has to wake up AGAIN.  I go into his room and there is his face, wrinkled, pink, unfriendly, scowling out from between the bars of his crib. His hair, damp with sweat, riots in random tufts around his face. 

He looks insane.  

Or like he just lost a headlock fight in an attic in Phoenix. 

He rips out his binky and hurls it back into the crib with a little “DOOT!” of effort.


This is the noise he makes when working really hard on something. I hand him a disposable camera that I STILL haven't had developed since 2010, and all we hear is “Doot doot doot doot,” for the next 20 minutes as he turns the mystery trinket over and over, charging the flash, winding the little wheel, shaking it, putting the tiny pads of his fingers in every crease and chanting his focus word. 

Doot. 

It doesn’t sound like the noise a growing brain would make. It doesn’t sound like the wonder it is. 

Doot. 


In all honesty, we don’t think about wonder when he wakes from the second nap. It’s straight to the snack chair for a post-nap blood sugar bump. 

But in a few minutes, the miracle will rise like a full moon. He’ll be settled in his corner, on his blanket in his chair, one hand wrapped around a hunk of warm cheese, the other buried under the folds of the blanket. 

Who knows what he’s cramming down there, or how deep. All I know is, I’d happily scrape a thousand years of snacks from the upholstery. 

It’s a small price to pay for the person who gets to witness the miracle of a hand, a brain, an eye, a cheek, a throat, a tongue, rising up together to declare to the world, “I may be small but I am mighty.” 

Doot.
Me: So this woman was talking to me at Gymboree, telling me, like, WAY too much about her son and his problem with biting. Apparently he is getting asked to leave his day care because of it. She goes "Look at that angel over there. Can you believe he's left scars?" I look over at her son. A) He's probably 3 years old, full head of curly crazy-man hair, DEFINITELY wearing size 6 diapers already IFYOUKNOWHWATI'MSAYIN--

Ryan: --I don't--

Me: --B) he's got this glazed-over-dead-eye-shark expression on his face and he's closing in on Chicken with his mouth already half open.


Ryan: Really?

Me: I was like, "CHICKEN? CAN YOU COME SEE MOMMY PLEASE. NOW. PLEASE," and Chicken is ignoring me so I'm reaching out to put my forearm between Jaws and Chicken. I figure kid's got to prefer a nice fleshy forearm to a toddler skull.



He's an angel. Look at that face. From 30-40 feet away, ideally.

Ryan: Why would she tell you her kid's a biter?


Me: Better to be honest, probably. First rule of spin is get ahead of the story, right? Plus, it seemed like she really needed somebody to talk to this afternoon.


Ryan: Never underestimate the loneliness of a parent. We spend all our time with animals, basically. 


Me: Yep, We're zookeepers. 


Ryan: Throw the meat on the ground and run.

Me: To Gymboree. To talk about it.
you did surgery on dandelion stalks, gutting them with the blade of your thumbnail and then tanning the flap of stalk on your leg until it was as warm and smooth as a piece of skin?

No?

Maybe I was a weird kid, then.
OK, here's the premise. 
Susie has famous friends and they wrote her cards for her baby shower. 


Dear Susie,

Oh my gosh, what an incredible, special, magical blessing you're about to experience with your sweet, sweet angel!!!


I can't believe how lucky you are to get to experience all the wonders and joys of motherhood - your child is going to be the sweetest, smartest, most wonderful baby in the world and you are going to get to be there to witness all the magical smiles, sweet coos, joyful giggles, the moments of wonder, awe, joy, sheer bliss, absolute euphoria, complete and total happiness, and magic.

Every day when you wake up to that sweet, sweet angel face it's going to be an exciting, joyful, and wonderful adventure, and there's no one else in the world who will be a better mommy to your darling sweet angel baby than you.

Love,

Mandy

PS - Caaaaaaaaan't waaaaaaaaaaait to meet that sweeeeet aaaaangel baaaaaaby!!!!!!

PPS - Can I babysit???? PLEEEEEEASE??? :) :) :)


___


Dear Susie,

You're about to embark on the central journey of your life. This is a critical time of self-reflection. A time of challenge, a time of serious, important questions:



Who am I? What kind of mother am I going to be? How will I teach my child to be a citizen of the world, in the world but not OF the world? Would I rather my child be smart, successful, or kind? Will he vote Tea Party or merely Republican?

Do I have what it takes to act as a consistent moral compass to this child, who will be born into this cruel, terrifying world, raw and unmolded and vulnerable to the influences of hip-hop music, socialist propaganda, and Satanic literature? When I look back on my life will I regret having become a mother? Will I regret other things? Like DRINKING RED WINE during my pregnancy? (I was there. I saw you. I don't care if it was just one sip.)

I'm going to share a secret with you - there are no answers. Enjoy the journey. The only advice I can give you is to approach this experience with an open heart and an inquisitive mind. Also, stop poisoning your baby with alcohol because if he is deformed when he is born there will be some VERY tough questions.  Congressional hearing style.

Aunt Condie

PS - Your mother wouldn't want me to tell you this, but she drank champagne when she was pregnant with your brother. Need I go on?


___

Dear Susie,

Buckle the fuck up. Shit's about to get real.


It's going to be hard. No, you know what? Blow and champagne hangovers are hard. Seeing your career implode is hard. Running into your ex-girlfriend right after hot yoga is hard. THIS is going to be mother-fucking impossible. 

Your body is going to look like a melty snowman.
Sleep?HA! Don't make me LAUGH! But I've got something if you need to stay awake. Call me.
You WILL. Be covered. In shit. Do yourself a favor and just throw away anything that needs to be dry cleaned.

Also, you'll worry about everything. You'll be all "Is the baby dead in his crib??? We have to check!!!" and your husband will be all "UGH Susie you're so dramatic, go to SLEEP, I'm sure the baby isn't dead," but then he'll make YOU get up and check because he's scared he's going to go in and find a dead baby and then you'll never forgive him. Because that shit happens. Sorry. Let me know if you need a divorce.

And when you are holding that fistful of prescription pills while the shower runs and the baby is screaming and you're looking at a withered, sunken, dried-up shell of who you used to be in the bathroom mirror, I want you to know that you can call me. I love you, girl!

Love,
Linds

PS - The Vodka is a joke kind of. If you don't want it let me know.

I wish this (insert fruit) had more SEEDS, you know?
Why isn't this a word referring to a gentleman's collection of haberdashery?

My mandrobe is seriously lacking in suspenders and wing-tips - what an oversight! I must rectify this gaffe immediately with a trip to the suspender and wing-tip district!
- Mandrobe Owner, Portland

Seems logical to me.

According to UrbanDictionary, however, the word "mandrobe" actually refers to:


"A nick name for THE crappest music teacher on Earth. Few people suffer from Mandrobe and are actually taught music at high school, but the unfortunate few have to suffer the BO, terrible singing, imensly bad keyboard playing and of course the testicle chair.

Those who have never met the beast will not understand this but if you have had the misfortune to have met Mandrobe you'll know exactly what I mean...
Hamish: Mandrobe was chasing me again down the music corridor.
Ron: Really? Why? was it to make you sing for her?
Hamish: No worse, she wanted me to push her testicle chair!"
Hamish, Ron, we're going to leave the discussion of how to spell "immensely" for another day. Because there's a much bigger issue in play here.
What. the fuck. is a testicle chair.
Is it bouncy and covered with pictures of froggies? Because if so... I THINK I AM IN A TESTICLE CHAIR.
Angel on my left shoulder: Google it!
Angel on my right shoulder: Are you fucking crazy? Do you even want to KNOW what kind of ads will pop up in your gmail sidebar if you're caught googling testicle chair? Talk about getting Scroogled.
AOMLS: Hey, Katie, one word for you: YOLO.
You're right, Left Shoulder Angel.
(Googled it)
Huh.

Follow-up question: Why does the Mandrobe Music teacher sit in this?
So that's a testicle chair. Why is it famous? What famous person sat in this chair?

Was it Henry VIII? Ron Jeremy? Liberace?

Hell no.

It was the fucking POPE, that's who.
Because one time a woman was accidentally appointed (voted? named? picked? drew the straw? spun the bottle? jumped the broom? played the pony? plucked the fiddle? shucked the corn?) pope, so now new popes have to sit in this chair so you can see the fellas danglin' and ensure that never again will such an egregious violation of Christian doctrine occur. 
Because as long as a man is in charge of the church, nothing bad will happen. 
A woman! The pope! I cannot even imagine what kind of hellish shenanigans she wrought upon the heads of innocent Catholics. She probably didn't let her Cardinals telecommute. (BOOM! Y'all should Yahoo Search that to see how funny it was.) (Almost as funny as people telling each other to Yahoo Search in 2013.) (Sorry Melissa. The truth hurts.)
So seriously, Hamish, is this testicle chair a real thing? And is your music teacher the Pope?
 
FML I have to start reading more nonfiction. 
Also Dan Brown novels. 


What would YOU do to keep your baby awake until you get home to put him down for his nap?

It seems counter-intuitive. Let the child sleep, right? If he's sleepy now he'll be sleepy when he gets home, too, right?

Ssssh, little bunny. Let me give you some truth.

Babies get sleepy at the following times:

1. When you pull into the driveway.
2. When you pull into a parking spot at the grocery store.
3. When you're 4 blocks from home on foot.
4. When you are leaving for brunch.

Babies wake up like a freshly-hit crack ho at the following times:

1. When you walk in the front door of your house.
2. When it's bedtime.
3. When it's naptime.
4. When you arrive at brunch.

There's nothing worse on this earth than the under-10-minute powernap. Chicken falls asleep, seriously, as soon as I can see my house. By the time I'm in the front door he's been asleep for 4 minutes and thinks that's pretty much a wrap on the whole napping gig for the day.

"Mom, I know I usually do, like 90 minutes in the afternoon. But today, I think 4's good. Yeah, so that's like... sorry, I'm still wrapping my head around this whole "percentage" thing... 4% of my regular napping. That. Is. Clutch! Let's play with BUBBLES!"

... fast-forward 18 minutes...

THESE BUBBLES ARE FREAKING ME OUT!!!
WHY DON'T THEY EVER LAND?
IT'S SO BRIGHT IN HERE!
PICK ME UP!
NOT LIKE THAT!
PUT ME DOWN!
WHY AM I DOWN?
WHY AM I UP? I HATE UP!
TURN OFF THE LIGHTS!
OH MY GOD THE LIGHTS WENT OFF!
WHY ARE WE GOING IN THE NURSERY?
WHY IS THE WORLD SO CRUEL AND COLD?
WHERE THE FUCK IS MY BINKY?
NOT THAT ONE!

... fast-forward 45 minutes... 

NAPS ARE BULLSHIT!
MY CRIB SUCKS!
MAMA! MAMA! MAMA!
LOOK AT ME!
STOP LOOKING AT ME!
LOOK AT ME!
IF YOU'RE LOOKING AT ME WHY AREN'T YOU HOLDING ME?

... fast-forward another 45 minutes... 

I'M NOT TIRED!
I'M NOT TIRED!
I'M NOT TI--zzzzzzzzzzzz...

This, quite obviously, sucks. It is the major contributing factor to the empty bottle of gin in the spice cabinet. I keep it there so it's both handy and aromatic. (Just kidding. Who wants gin that smells like nutmeg? I'll tell you who, GOD, that's who. Nutmeg gin sounds freaking delightful and festive. I'm surprised Starbucks isn't already on top of that.)

So the other alternative is engaging in bizarre, public antics to keep Chicken awake until we can get into the nursery.

I have, in fact, myself, done the following to keep my child awake within a half-mile of my house:

1. In the carrier, loudly shaken and crumpled a paper bag next to his head.
2. In the car, reached back and snapped my fingers in front of his face. Like, an inch in front of his face. I'm not Stretch Armstrong.
3. In the carrier, jumped up and down while smacking his butt and chanting "CHICKA-CHICKA-CHICKEN!" or singing "This is the song that doesn't end..."
3. In the car, reached back and put my hand on his face a la Helen Keller. It seems like it should work really well but I think he just finds it comforting. Thanks a lot, Miracle Worker. Oh, I'm sorry, you need me to write it in your hand? Here goes: "F. U."
4. In the carrier, taken off his socks and shoes in January.
5. In the carrier and in the car, actually held open one of his eyelids.

Don't hate. Today when we made it home and he was still barely awake, I took him into the nursery and he went down like a sack of drunken lead potatoes in a centrifuge.

Boom.
The way I love my son?

I've been loved like that for my entire life.

I had no idea.
What if we're all reading this the wrong way. What if Chicken WANTS the apple slices to be on the ground, and every time we pick them up, he's like, 

MOM. Seriously. This is the last time I'm putting these apples back where they're supposed to be. (sigh) WHEN are you going to learn consequences? Hey Dad, look at Mom's new favorite game. It's called 'Don't leave the apple slices on the ground where they're supposed to be but instead keep putting them on my high chair tray so I have to keep putting them back down on the ground.' Dad, Dad watch this. Mom, I'm going to drop these apple slices onto the ground now. And if you pick them up, I will NOT DROP THEM AG-- see? See? She just did it again. Moms. They're so funny, right?


__

Babies' butts on babies = adorable
Babies' butts on actresses = cover of Star's Worst Beach Bodies issue

__

What can I add to cheese fries to make it an acceptable dinner?


__

 Fruit is not cookies. Damn you, beach vacations. Damn you to salad-eating hell.


__

I shaved my legs in a hurry. Now my right shin has a mohawk.
"If I ever met a girl who didn't have cellulite I would cut her face
and then I would say 'Welcome to the wild west, Flaca.'"
Mom:

He's growing up so fast! Look at our sweet little man!


Dad:

He doesn't walk. Why does he need shoes.

Chicken:

LACE MONSTERS ATE MY TOES! LACE! MONSTERS! ATE! MY! TOES!

Pre-Baby:

(in bed)

Me: Ryan
Him: mmm?
Me: Oh, sorry! I thought you were up!
Him: It's ok, love. (roll over, kiss, cuddle.)
Me: What time is it?
Him: 10:30.
Me: (stretch)
Him: So... what do you want to do today?
Me: Mmmmm... let's watch Lord of the Rings and eat waffles.

(sigh)

Post-Baby:

(in bed)

Me: Ryan.
Him: mmm?
Me: RYAN.
Him: What?
Me: The Chicken is up.
Him: ... (employs the classic "If I don't move maybe she'll forget I'm awake" strategy.)
Me: (SIGH) So I guess I'll get him... What TIME is it?
Him: 6:20.
Me: Fuuuuuuuuuuuuck.
Him: What are we doing today?
Me: Well, not sleeping in, that's for sure.

(sigh)

Why do people have babies?

There are the spiritual reasons:

"I felt like it's my purpose in life."
"God told me to."
"It felt like the right time."
"My wife told me it was the right time."

The practical reasons:

"I want to carry my family into another generation."
"Tax breaks! Hellooo!"
"My parents were bugging me for grandchildren."

The biological reasons:

"I felt a void that only a baby could fill."
"I had an uncontrollable biological urge."

The somewhat less savory reasons:

"My boyfriend was totally cheating on me. Now he'll love me even more."
"Gisele looked so pretty when she was pregnant, plus I hear your nails get really strong."
"One of my friends had a baby. But I'm better than she is, so I have to have TWO babies."
"I was drunk and didn't wrap it before I tapped it... but now I'm really happy I did. I think I unconsciously wanted it. I don't miss my old life at all."


All of these reasons are perfectly valid. (Except that last one. His baby mama is standing behind him with a garrotting wire.)

So why did I have a baby?

Did I feel a void? Not really. I mean, yes, there was a void, but it could pretty much be filled with pizza.

Spiritual yearning? Yes. But again, for pizza.

Peer pressure? I was the first of my close friends to get knocked up, so if anything I was, for the first time in my life, an early adopter, so to speak.

Holy shit.

I have no idea why I had a baby.


Honestly, I'm pretty sure that after the wedding I needed a new project, and our apartment building had a two-pet limit, so we had to think outside the box.

Is that bad?

I should probably tell people it was the spiritual void thing.


... if I ever teach my baby to crap in a bowl while at a friend's house for a party.

These people are the reason I'm afraid to let Chicken eat dandelions at a public park.

Who knows what hippie toddler has been dropping trau in the middle of the playground?
English: Giovanni Ribisi at a ceremony for Jam...
Ribisi Fine Carded Wools. Moustachio Smithy, Proprietor.

I was just sitting here thinking, "What the hell happened to Giovanni Ribisi?"

So I Googled him.

I was expecting him to have retired to Austin to open a wool-carding business. 

Huh.

Turns out he's been pretty busy. He was in some movie called "Avatar." Have we heard of this? From the small bits of information I was able to glean from various Hollywood gossip blogs I've cobbled together the following: It's Fern Gully, a la James Cameron.

Oh! He was in "Ted"! Right! As that creepy dad with the 80's music fetish. Now I remember.

He was in Gangster Squad, which I never saw because it looked like Sean Penn spent the whole movie yelling. 

So he's batting .333 for movies in the last 3 years that I've seen. 

Better than Colin Farrell, I guess.
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If my whole purpose for existing is to teach my son what love looks like, so he can teach his children, so they can teach their children, forever and ever, that will be enough.
The old joke goes, "Of course I think gays should be able to marry. Why shouldn't they be as miserable as the rest of us?"

Yesterday the Supreme Court heard arguments on Proposition 8, California's gay marriage ban. My Facebook feed bled red and pink gay rights symbols, references to loving thy neighbor and abstaining from judging, real-time updates on the Supremes' comments and perceived leanings. SCOTUS, SCOTUS, everywhere.

I think of myself as open-minded. I can play devil's advocate with the best of them. But opposition to gay marriage, simply put, don't make a lick of sense to me. To me, gay marriage is not a legal issue. It is a human rights issue, a liberty issue, a respect-me-and-I'll-respect-you issue. Now, I haven't done the research on opposition to gay marriage. I know there are religious arguments and social arguments, studies that allegedly prove that kids do best with a father and a mother. I have no research on hand to argue with such studies. I've only got my gut.

Politics and religion both seem to be like a flag snapping around a pole, driven by a thousand competing winds. As much as we all want to believe that politicians "vote their consciences" and religious figures "stand for principles," I've seen too many men and women do the triple-DC-flip-flop to stay one step ahead of the mob and call that "leading."

I have a family, a legal one. I said, "Hey government, I'd like to marry this man!" They said, "One woman? Check! One man? Check! Heeeere ya go!" I said, "Hey government, my husband and I love each other and we'd like to have a child!" They said, "What are you asking me for? Go on with your bad selves and make that baby!" I'm not going to say that our life has been conflict-free; there have been plenty of tears shed and freeze-out fights and sleepless nights and moments of despair when I believed I would never, ever, ever be able to take a shower again. But we've never had to fight someone else for our right to live our lives the way we want to.

There are times when I look at my son and completely ignore the advice of experts. Let him cry it out, they say. I pick him up and hold him close and kiss the whimpers away. This child is not community property. I do not parent by a show of hands. He is mine. Nobody knows him like I do. Not you, Doctor. Not you, Senator.  Not you, Reverend.

To me, outlawing a gay family is as egregious as outlawing breastfeeding. If the state of Washington made breastfeeding illegal I would become a lactating outlaw. If my church called breastfeeding a sin, I guess I'd pack for hell. Because experts and principled politicians be damned. I know that what I'm doing is right. And to anyone who says "how could they vilify breastfeeding? It's a personal choice, and none of the government's business what you do with your own boobs!" I would simply remind you that in the last couple of years the government has injected itself into millions of bedrooms in this country, telling women what to do about birth control (you can still HAVE it... we just won't COVER it. Sorry, poor women. Looks like you're about to become welfare mothers. Step into my office so I can shame you for your irresponsible choices and being a drag on our economy. Abstinence! Abstinence is the... sorry, that's my escort service on the other line. Can you hold on a minute?) and telling committed same-sex couples that they are second-class citizens who clearly are not virtuous or responsible enough to have what any idiot 18-year-old can dive into during a crazy weekend at the Hooters casino in Vegas.

My family is blessed to live within the parameters of the law. The thing is, this law is about as sturdy as the first two little pigs' houses. The wind blows another direction tomorrow and suddenly we're forced to put our son in military school starting at age 7. The wind blows another direction in a week and we have to pass genetic screening before we can use a public park.  Think it'll never happen? Maybe you're right. Maybe politicians do have our best interests at heart. But before you settle in all cozy-like, wrapped in your basic civil liberties, ask the gay couple down the street about the benevolence of our magnanimous American government.

You, government, don't get to legalize a family. Not mine, not any family. All people born in this country are protected by the same constitution that protects your right to have an affair, get a divorce, and make choices for your family. How dare you assume that you have the right to hand down special rights to your equals?

That's all I have to say about that.