Monday, December 19, 2011

All I Want For Christmas is Poo

Update: If you are Marlene, maybe don't read this. No wait. Definitely don't read this. Your son seems to think I will scar you for life. <3

Every year Rodolfo and I go through this. Every year I ask what he wants for Christmas and he says I shouldn't get him anything. What this usually means is "we can't afford what I want". The thing about Rodolfo is, when he wants something small, he just goes out and buys it for himself, but when he wants anything priced over $50 or so, he covets it for years before he actually makes a purchase. He's very financially responsible like that. He is the kind of guy who will always put responsibility before pleasure and he can never seem to justify spending a lot of money on something just because he wants it.

For this reason, I always try to get him something nice for Christmas. He works hard and he hardly ever buys himself anything he really wants. The last couple of years have worked out well. Two years ago, he wanted a new TV. I got a rather large bonus that year and lied to him about it so I could get his TV in secret. He was like a little kid when he opened that shit. Then last year, my mom paid for half of his PS3 because he had wanted it for years and she knew I couldn't afford it on my own. Also, because she is awesome.

This year I'm at a loss. All of my money went to Caitlyn. I didn't think ahead. I can't afford to get him anything that isn't shitty.

It gets worse. He is notoriously grinchy at Christmas. Not in that he doesn't always get me a present. He doesn't really mind that part at all. He's just never quite what I'd call "in the spirit". Last year, we didn't get our Christmas tree until less than a week before Christmas. Because he thinks its stupid. And a waste of money. He gets annoyed when I decorate. He hates the time I spend baking cookies and resents all the money we spend on people we "only see once a year".

This year is different. This year he is practically Santa Claus. Our tree went up on December 1st. He merrily spent $50 on it without complaining once. When I started shopping for Caitlyn in October, he never questioned how much I was spending. He asked me what kind of cookies I was making this year and even tried a few (Rodolfo doesn't like cookies. Yeah. WTF). On a particularly warm night last week, we walked around our neighborhood with Caitlyn, checking out the lights and decorations and general merriment. He's even had on Christmas music every time I've gotten into his car in the past few weeks.

It's been strange. But in a pleasant way. I'm all about Christmas, so it's nice to not have him Scrooging up my game.

I know Caitlyn is to thank for it all. Last year he felt she wasn't old enough to know the difference. This year he sees the joy in her face when we pass by a lighted house and the mischief in her smile as she snatches cookies off the table. Caitlyn really made the Grinch's heart grow three sizes and shit.

Anyway. Back to my point:

I'm going to have to take it in the ass for Christmas. I just know it. This is the only thing Rodolfo consistently asks of me for Christmas (and his birthday and our anniversary). And every time I tell him no. Because I fucking hate it. I can count on one hand the number of times I've actually let him do it. Even if I lost two of the fingers on that hand in some sort of horrific industrial accident. Yes. Now you know exactly how many times my ass has been violated. You're welcome.

But I'm not ready to give way to the Grinch again next year, and I feel like I need some sort of Pavlovian reward for his excellent behavior. But I have no money and no ideas.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Parenting for Dummies- Chapter One: Don't Let Your Kid Eat Glass

You know that expression about assuming? When you assume, you make an ass out of u and me. I've found this expression is doubly true when you have a toddler: Don't assume she wants to use the potty just because she's taken off her diaper. Don't assume she's hungry just because she said she wants to eat. Don't assume she wants you to hold her just because she's standing at your feet, begging a chorus of "up"s. Because she will make you look like an asshole every single time.

Monday was Christmas baking day. I had taken the day off and spent most of it making a delicious array of cookies. Caitlyn thought cookie baking day was amazing. Obviously. She wanted to help. She smiled and giggled as I gave her little tastes. She snuck up behind me when I wasn't paying attention and snatched cookies off the table. It was exactly what I envisioned when I thought of having a daughter. It was everything simple and joyful about creating little traditions together. Right up until we had to make a trip to the Emergency Room.

You see, I made an assumption. It was late and I had finally finished my baking. As I packed up my cookies, Caitlyn walked by me chewing on something. A cookie, no doubt. Except of course, it was not a cookie at all. It was a glass Christmas ball. She was holding it like an apple and taking bites of it. And chewing it. And swallowing it.

Really kid?

I can't quite figure out what is appealing about chewing on a piece of glass, but Caitlyn was downright confused when I freaked out and snatched it out of her hands.

I guess I should have seen it coming. She's been calling them apples ever since we put up our Christmas tree. Naturally I worried that one might break and cut her, which is why everything made of glass was very deliberately placed above waist height. I honestly can't even figure out how she got a hold of it. But she did. And she thought it was delicious.

A quick call to the pediatrician confirmed that we would need to take her to the ER for an x-ray. We were there from about 10pm till 1:30am. Which is way past Caitlyn's bedtime. I expected her to be cranky, but apparently the ER is the most novel place in the world if you don't actually feel sick.

Our 3 and a half hours in the ER broke down a little something like this:

10pm-10:20pm- Admissions and waiting room.

10:20pm-10:30pm- Caitlyn sits patiently (haha- PATIENTLY!) while a nurse takes her vitals and puts an ID bracelet on her.

10:30pm-10:50pm- Caitlyn tries to take off her hospital bracelet (she succeeded about 2 hours in)

10:50pm-10:52pm- Caitlyn is put in a hospital gown, which she promptly rips off and spends most of the rest of the night in her diaper.

10:52pm-11:05pm- Caitlyn turns the TV off. Caitlyn turns the TV on. Lather, rinse, repeat.

11:05pm-11:15pm- Actual interaction with a doctor. Many jokes about Caitlyn having "the Christmas Spirit inside of her".

11:15pm-12:00am- Caitlyn licks or kisses a surface which I do not deem sanitary.

12:00am-12:30am- Caitlyn runs squealing toward the door of her room. Rodolfo has to repeatedly block her from running through the halls of the ER.

12:30am-12:45am- Dora the Explorer DVD while we wait, followed by 2 x-rays where Caitlyn does a mostly awesome job of standing still and we get the front and side view on the first shot.

12:45am-1:00am- Caitlyn opens and slams shut the cabinet doors in her room. She tries to steal gowns and blankets. She catches her dad's hand in the door when he tries to stop her.

1:00am-1:05am: Another meet-up with the doctor. "Bla-bla-bla, don't let your kid eat glass and check in with your regular pediatrician tomorrow" (this sort of makes her sound like a bitch, but actually she was awesome and Caitlyn instantly loved her).

1:05am-1:15am- Get Caitlyn dressed and go the hell home.

Did you know that if you bring your kid home from the ER and she isn't actually feeling sick, she will be all fucking wound up like you went to fucking Disneyland or something and not want to go to bed till 2:30 in the morning? Also, she will sleep till noon the next day which you will appreciate at the time but not as much when you actually have to go back to work the following day and her sleep schedule is all fucked up and she wants to stay up till 2am EVERY night.

Stop smiling and go the fuck to sleep

Also, does it make me an awful parent that I thought she looked adorable in the hospital gown and during the approximately 5 total minutes she was wearing it I took a bunch of pictures?

Monday, December 5, 2011

When Did Captain Hook Become Such a Little Bitch Boy?

In the beginning, I resisted it.

Children's programming.

It's kind of awful. And besides that... okay I don't want to use the word "sellout", but I was sure I wouldn't become one of those parents whose kid was brainwashed into needing everything they own to have Winnie the Goddamn Pooh on it.

Before I found my better-than-Jesus babysitter, you may remember that my sister, A., was Caitlyn's babysitter. A.'s baby shower was baby Looney Tunes. My other sister's was Minnie Mouse. In the way of not bowing to licensed merchandise, I was certainly the odd one out in my family.

My point is that, despite my distaste for the idea that a less than one year old might have a favorite TV show or cartoon character, Caitlyn was exposed to a lot of TV at my sister's house. Unlike A.'s son, she was not mesmerized by the TV at 4 months old or anything, but she certainly had a few shows that would capture her attention for at least a few minutes per episode.

Caitlyn did not watch TV at home until she was well over a year old. I just didn't see the point. She was so focused on things like learning to walk and talk, that she didn't need anything else to occupy her time. But as she's grown into a toddler (and gotten a new babysitter who doesn't plop her in front of the TV all the goddamn time), I've relaxed my stance on TV a bit.

Okay. So now that we have established how superior I am, and that it isn't my fault that my kid likes to watch TV, let me tell you the story of how I discovered the huge difference in cartoons now, compared to when I was a child:

I had on the Disney channel the other day. I wasn't particularly paying attention to it and neither was Caitlyn. She was off shitting on my floor or something. At some point though, something on the TV caught my attention (I believe it was the word "doubloons")and I started to watch.

The show was called Neverland Pirates or some bullshit like that. It was a modern twist on Peter Pan. Except that the "modern twist" is that Captain Hook is a total bitch boy whose only recourse when things don't go his way is to throw a hissy fit and stomp around like an impotent douche. In fact, during this particular episode (about "winter treasure day"-where they decorate a tree and give each other gifts- nice job appeasing those Jews, Disney), Peter Pan and Captain Hook amicably agree to split their found treasure and have a lovely holiday dinner together. Really? Come on. That is one pathetic villain. Can you even imagine Inspector Gadget inviting Dr. Claw to a family dinner after he tried to rape and pillage Penny yet again? No. You can not. BECAUSE HE'S THE FUCKING VILLAIN AND IF YOU INVITE HIM TO YOUR HOUSE FOR DINNER HE WILL PROBABLY JUST BURN IT DOWN BECAUSE THAT'S THE KIND OF SHIT VILLAINS DO.

It got me thinking though, about the shows Caitlyn watches. She's young, so I don't expect to see any truly villainous villains in a show meant for toddlers, but still, I think current children's programming is going to turn our kids into pussies.

Remember the Looney Tunes we would watch? Have you ever seen that shit as an adult? Even if you are able to ignore all the blatant violence, those cartoons were not pussy-makers. Elmer Fudd was stupid and mean-spirited. He had no redeeming qualities. If Bugs invited him over to dinner, you knew he was trying to trick him or something. Daffy Duck was arrogant. Bugs' girlfriend was kind of a whore. Foghorn Leghorn did not like black people. Did. Not. Like. Black. People. Have you ever taken a moment, as an adult, to think about the phrase "cotton pickin'" and to realize how often we heard it as kids on Looney Tunes? Did I just blow your mind? Yeah. Thought so.

Today's kids shows lack conflict. I think kids need to know that life doesn't always just sort itself out in 30 minutes or less, that sometimes the villain is still around even after the immediate problem is solved. In real life, Pablo, Tyrone and Uniqua might wear different colors, if you know what I'm saying. Twist might not be accepted as just another part of the gang, despite his obvious mental retardation. Toodles isn't always within earshot to bring you what you need.

I'm not saying I want my kid to be exposed to the sexuality and racism that our cartoons were kind of known for. I'm just saying, for fucks sake, can't Captain Hook be a real fucking villain?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

(Deadbeat) Daddy Dearest

We've been over it a few times now: My dad is the fucking definition of a deadbeat dad. Wait. Let me offer a correction: He was a deadbeat dad. I'm an adult now. His current role is as passive-aggressive, homeless man-child and constant burden. Because I don't fucking need him anymore. Wait. Let me offer another correction: I NEVER needed him. My mom was enough of a parent to make him completely obsolete.

The problem is that, for my mother, taking on both roles took its toll and she certainly paid the price for it. Specifically, she had her first of several heart attacks at the ripe old age of 38. Fucking 38, man. That is goddamn ridiculous. But it's a price she happily paid. A price I know she would pay again, not only for her children but for her grandchildren as well. Because as I've learned during the last couple of years, as a parent, you do ANYTHING for your children.

Childless people think we are smug. They get annoyed when we tell them they don't really understand because they aren't parents themselves. And I get how that is annoying. But as a child, teenager, adult and married adult, my first instinct had always been self-preservation. It's not that I've ever been selfish, in fact, I've always thought of myself as a very unselfish person. It's the difference between wanting the people you love to have everything, loving them and enjoying their company and literally being willing to throw yourself in front of a bus for someone.

Childless people? Take a moment. Really imagine the scenario. Would you be able to do it? Even for the person you love most in the world? I wouldn't do that shit for my husband or my sisters or anyone else. But I would really and truly die for Caitlyn, without hesitation. I would give myself a heart attack working 4 jobs for 10 years straight if it was all we could do to scrape by.

I don't think I'm different than any other parent in this way. Everyone would die for their kids, but for me it goes a bit deeper than that. Because one of my kids did die. So maybe everyone doesn't actually imagine it. They don't actually think about what they would do to have their child back. They don't visualize the sacrifices they would be willing to make. But I do. Sadly, I always fucking do.

My point is kind of getting lost here. This morning I received an email from a coworker. In my company email account. From hers. And it honestly took everything I had not to completely lose my shit on her. It was about child support. Specifically, the email was several paragraphs of her thoughts on the child support system, followed by a link to a petition to change child support laws.

Okay. I am the child of a deadbeat dad. I get it, I'm biased, but this shit was ridiculous. Let me give you the highlights:

"I hope this email finds you well!"

This just seems like an odd intro to an email about corruption and evil mothers. Is it just me?

"I know several Fathers who are good dads that continue to be slaughtered by the courts & conniving mothers, who are well aware of their leverage with our court systems."

This is the sentence that nearly gave me a stroke. "Conniving mothers" in particular. I'm not about to say that all mothers are great and that none of them take advantage. I'm sure it happens. But frankly, demonizing moms is NOT going to win any points with me. Also? "I know several fathers" makes me think she fucks a lot of guys with kids. Also? WHY THE FUCK DOES SHE CAPITALIZE FATHERS? Mothers are conniving and somehow fathers are being deified? DON'T EVEN.

"We want to make a difference to stop the corruption that this madness has turned into."

I'd love to know what is corrupt about expecting a man to pay child support.

"We need to keep the court systems fair and just. Bad Fathers need to be punished! Good Fathers need to be rewarded!"

I'd like to know who is judging the "bad" and "good" fathers. A man can refuse to support his children, but as long as he shows up on weekends with enough cash to take the kids to McDonalds, then he is a great dad? School clothes, food, a roof over your head? Who needs them! Daddy of the year needs to save his cash for the chick he's banging.

I hope you make a difference today!~

You know what would have made a difference in my childhood? Not having to visit my mother in the hospital at 14 years old because she could afford to pay our rent without doing our landlord's landscaping for approximately $3 per hour.

"Good Dads shouldn't be forced to pay unfair percentages in child support and have minimal visitation of their children".

Okay. If this had simply said "dads shouldn't be forced to pay child support while only having minimal visitation of their children", I would have agreed. But "unfair percentages"? The percentage quoted in this email, for the record, is 17%. Which is admittedly rough on any one's paycheck. But you know what else is rough on a paycheck? SUPPORTING AND CARING FOR A CHILD. You know what is relatively inexpensive? CONDOMS. I'm just saying.

My point is simply that my mother spent 100% of her income on providing for her children. For at least 15 years. In fact, a lot of the work she did for our landlord was simply deducted off of our rent, so I'd say it was actually more than 100%. What is 17% compared to every dime (no, really. Literally every dime) you make? And in case you think I'm exaggerating, the story me and my siblings always tell is about the pair of sneakers my mom had for 8 years. And I don't mean one of many pairs. I mean she owned one pair of shoes and wore them every day for 8 years without ever buying a new pair. Because she couldn't afford it, even if they did have huge holes in the bottoms.

The thing that bugs me more than anything is the implication that these moms are pissing away their child support money on themselves. This was something I had to clarify for my own deadbeat dad. You see, in my family we are huge Yankees fans. Huge. And back in the 90s, you could get UPCs off of bottled water and get tickets buy one get one free. And it was only about $25 per ticket at the time. My sister and I would save up our babysitting money and buy tickets to games to go to with our mother. Then we would stand behind the stadium (back then, you actually COULD) and wait for the players to come and sign autographs. In fact, we ended up with quite a few autographs (good ones too).

One day a few years ago my dad mentioned this to me. He commented how my mom always claimed to be so broke yet she could buy Yankees tickets and autographed memorabilia. I had to explain to him that she never actually bought any of the tickets, and that, if he really looked, he would have noticed that our autographs were ALWAYS on sheets of white paper. My mom would then cut a picture of that player out of a newspaper or magazine and put it next to their autograph. Glad we cleared that up, dumbass? Yeah. Me too.

I'm not trying to say that all dads who are put on child support are assholes. But they do all deserve to support their kids to every extent they possibly can. And maybe this is another biased thing to say, but I personally think you shouldn't need a court order to tell you to give money to the person caring for your child. I went through a "maybe I should leave my husband" phase a few months ago so child support is something I seriously thought about. What I realized is that I wouldn't need a court order. Being irresponsible is not one of Rodolfo's flaws.