Wednesday, July 18, 2007

It is just funny.

Tonight, we decided to force our children to experience one of the best Indian restaurants in Los Angeles.  Located in Marina Del Rey, this is a place my husband and I enjoyed frequently before the children arrived. Now that the children are older, we are pushing our culinary snobbery onto them with mixed results.

At the Indian restaurant:

Mukor [to LittleMan] - "Here, try this."

LittleMan - "What does it taste like?"

My head is now exploding because this has become his usual reply when confronted with food he is suspicous of and believes will poison him.  When he first began to ask this question, I was so impressed by his curiosity and scientific mind, but now I know that this was just a ploy to set up his "I don't like that" response.

Mukor - Patiently, "I think you'll like it.  It has vegetables and bread." [It was vegetable samosa.)

Son [inspecting the fork and food with a combination of procrastination and disgust] - "But, what does it taste like?"

Me - "It tastes like monkey brains."

Good parenting, I know, but I so desperately wanted him to understand that there was no point to his question.  We don't know what it tastes like to him! This is the same child that will eat sticks.

LittleMan - "No, I'm serious.  What does it taste like?"

Mukor - "You've never had this before.  If you don't like it, you don't have to have another bite."

LittleMan - Takes bite and declares that he does not like it.


The main course arrives.  We ordered Nan, Chicken Tikka Masala, and some chicken dish my husband thought the kids would enjoy.

Mukor - After seeing LittleMan push the food around his plate a while, "Please try a bite of your food."

LittleMan - "What does it taste like?"

Me - For the love of all that is holy, JUST EAT IT!  Sigh. But, what I actually say is, "Look, it is food.  Just try it."

LittleMan - [looking suspiciously at the food]

Mukor - "It is called Chicken Tikka Masala."

LittleMan - "But, what does it TASTE like?"

Mukor - Calmly while the vein on my forehead is popping, "It is chicken."

Me - Under my breath, "It's right in the name."

BoopaLoop - "I like it."

Me - Beyond exasperated with my son, "Ask your sister what it tastes like. She likes it."

LittleMan - Brightening at the thought that someone will give him a straight answer asks his little sister, "What does it taste like?"

BoopaLoop - "Um...", she seems to be considering this question, which surprised me since she's only 2 years old. "It takes like mawnkey brains."

We all laugh except my son.  Awesome.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Wisdom of a 5 year old

We're driving to the salon, listening to Mommy's music, when I had this discussion with my son.  Sarah McLachlan's "Fear" was playing.

LittleMan - "What is 'Fear-A'?"

Me - "She is singing 'I won't fear love'."

LittleMan - "What does that mean?"

Me [Uh...] - "It means she won't be afraid to love someone... to marry someone." That sounded pretty good.

LittleMan - "Why would she be afraid to marry?"

Me [Oh goodness...] - "Some people are afraid of getting married... to love someone... since some people choose not to stay married and that makes them sad." [Where was I going with this? Hopefully, I lost him halfway through that explanation, so I can think about it later.]

LittleMan [looking out the window]

Silence stretches. I begin to worry that I have said too much, not enough. You know, the usual over-thinking moms do.

LittleMan - Suddenly, "Was Grandma married?"

He has a Grandma who got divorced many years ago.  Wow, did he really connect the dots that fast?

Me - "Yes, she was married to Grandpa.  They made the choice to no longer be married, and now Grandpa is married to someone else."

LittleMan [looking out the window]

I was concerned that he was understanding things a lot more than I realized.

Me - "But, Mommy and Daddy will never choose to NOT be married.  We love each other very much."

LittleMan - Smiling, "Yeah, you have a good marriage."

Wow.  This is one of those moments that I hope and dread that my son understood every word.

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Highs and Lows of Parenthood

I gave the kids a bath this evening.  They are still young enough to play together in the bathtub and, more importantly, small enough to fit together in the bathtub.  Usually, I play with the kids while they are taking a bath, but they were having such a grand time entertaining each other, I brought a book in to read while they played.

That was my first mistake.

I am fairly attuned to my children.  For example, when my daughter, who is potty training, suddenly finds a private place to stand, I know that is my cue to ask her potty related questions while sprinting towards the bathroom, child in arms.  But, with my attention focused on the book, I did not notice her sudden stillness.  I think you know where this story is going without me going into graphic detail. Seeing the "problems" floating in the tub, I immediately pulled both children out of the bathtub, grabbed the nearest trashcan, dumped all squirt toys in the trash, and waited for the water to drain - as best it could with... uh... some blockage that I did not catch.

Once most of the water was drained, I cleaned the tub as best I could, and I tried to think rationally.  I wanted to leave an impression on my daughter that this kind of behavior was not acceptable, but I had to recognize that although she is nearly potty trained, accidents happen.  I refilled the bathtub, and I put my son in the tub.  I filled the sink full of water, and I washed my daughter the old fashioned way.  She only asked me once why she wasn't in the tub, and I told her I didn't want to drain the bathtub again if she should have another accident. She told me she was sorry, and I smiled at her and said I know and thanked her.  I finished the bathing, got the kids dressed, and read a book to them.

Seeing that I was still seething but trying to maintain my calm, my son held my face in his little hands and said, "Mommy, I love you.  You do a good job." I smiled into his eyes, and he have me a huge smile in return, and I said, "Honey, thank you.  I love you too." We gave each other a big hug, and he settled into my arms for a bit. After a time, he withdrew just far enough to look at me and said, "Are you happy now?" I laughed and told him that no matter how angry I may get, I am still so happy to have the family I have.

He smiled and sprinted to his bed.  My daughter, having watched the exchange with great interest, gave me a hug and sprinted to her own bed. Children have no idea the joy they can sow, which is why it makes moments like these so special.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Shopping is hard

I am one of the few women I know who hates to shop.  My mother is another.  I don't remember my mother making shopping unbearable, but I do remember wishing that I could just tell the sales clerk what I wanted, have them get it, and I could leave with exactly what I wanted.  The whole process of trying stuff on, pouring over clearance racks, trying to find what I needed... yikes - I get frustrated just thinking about it.  I just don't like it, and I can't for the life of me figure out what the appeal is.

I love online shopping, however.  It is the best use of my time.  So far, the two primary drawbacks of online shopping are that you can't 100% trust what the picture shows, and sometimes your order is messed up.  I once purchased jeans on clearance from a website, and I received 54 waist jeans.  I thought I could make clown pants out of them, but they were 40 inches long.  I'm only 5'7".  I suppose I could have returned them, but I deem my time more valuable than spending it waiting at the post office with a box containing a clearance item.  So, the pants are still sitting in my closet somewhere.  I don't know for what use.

The only feature missing from online shopping is being able to download a virtual "me" into the store.  Then, as I select items, I would be informed by an online helper whether or not I'm making a good choice for my body type. Or, I could download the dimensions of my home and see if the piece of furniture I'm interested in would fit.

Anything that makes the whole process more efficient would probably guarantee me spending more money.  Now that I think about it... that would be bad.  Never mind.  Why was I complaining?

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

It boggles the mind

After college, I worked at a Fortune 500 company.  Although it was not the most exciting job, I loved that the company rewarded employees who invented new ways of completing tasks. If the new method was more efficient or prone to less errors than the old method, then the company was saving money.  All employees who helped create the new method would receive a bonus or reward for doing so - in proportion to how much money the new method saved the company. Most of the meetings I attended focused on creating new, money-saving processes.  It was a thrilling experience.

In contrast, one of my relatives worked for a government-run company. During a visit to the office, I mentioned how much more efficient the department could be run by having things automated.  I was shocked when I was told that employees were discouraged to make their tasks more efficient.  What?!  Did I hear that correctly?  How can this be?  Doesn't the government want to save money? I was then reminded that the government allocates only so much money to each program.  If a program is running more efficiently (therefore saving money), then that program will be given less money the next quarter, and the saved money would go somewhere else. So, there is no benefit to saving money. No rewards. No bonuses. Instead, all the employee did was put not only their job but the entire program at risk of closure. Less money means lower salaries and an increase in layoffs. The irony being that the more inefficient the program, the more money they could convince the government to give them. And of course the money would come from the programs that managed to find ways to save money.

How totally ludicrous.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Airplane Travel and Children

I try not to care too much about what other people think when I am disciplining my children in public. After all, these people don't have to live with the child.  But, how I respond to my children's trantrums or whiny pleas will help mold their future interactions with me.  I realize that from a stranger's perspective minimizing the noise by giving into the children's demands seems like an obvious problem solver.  However, for that stranger, it is the solution to their noise problem - not the solution to minimizing future tantrums.  Moms know that giving in will only make the next go-around that much harder to not cave into.

There was only one time in recent memory that I was remotely tempted to give into my 2 year old child's demands in order to minimze noise, and that was on an airplane.  Senario:  BoopaLoop wants to drop everything she has onto the floor of the plane.  I don't want to continue to pick up items dropped on the floor since I have to unbuckle my seat belt to do so.  I tell my daughter to stop dropping the items, or I won't give them back to her. BoopaLoop defiantly drops one last item, and I unbuckle myself to pick up the item and put said item away in the carry-on bag.  My daughter begins to whine for the item, and I remind her of the consequences of her actions, and I end the discussion by going back to my book.

Of course in my head, I am praying that she will quietly accept this result and discover the joys of napping. Instead, BoopaLoop goes from whining to crying to howling.  Now, what do I do?

I am certain most people on the plane were thinking, "For the love of all that is holy, please give her whatever she wants to keep her quiet!"  The reason I am certain of this is because we boarded the 7:20 AM flight out of LAX, and most people around me were trying to sleep. But, what I am thinking is that I can't continue to play the drop/pick-up game since the "Weat Seat Belts" sign is on, and I want my children to obey that sign, so I have to show my compliance with it.  I can't just give her back the item, or I'll be in the same situation again in 1 minute, and her cries will be even louder when I take it away again.  Children learn quickly that if something works once, try it again with more intensity and it will work again. Proof that history repeats itself.

I considered just giving her the item again and then ignoring her when she inevitably drops it, but I know her requests for me to pick up the item will grow in "shrill-ish" quality until I either pick up the item or threaten her with an even bigger consequence, which would create an even bigger scene.

So, I decided to let her cry for about 30 seconds (which seemed like an ETERNITY) before telling her that if she calmed down and played with the item nicely, I'll let her have it back. But, I emphasized that this was her last chance. If she dropped the item again, I will take it away for good. Well, I don't know why this worked, but it did. She immediately calmed down, I praised her for doing so, I gave her back the item with a stern reminder of what happens if she drops it again, and she took it happily without further incident.

And an airplance full of people signed with relief... while her mother shook with it.