Competing With a Legacy

There is a scene in the movie Baby Boom that I've always found particularly absurd. Diane Keaton has taken her recently inherited toddler to a Manhattan park and while the little one busies herself in the sand box, Keaton sits back with a group of women who turn out to be quintessential neurotic Upper East Side moms.

The members of this brain trust hover about one mom who is nearly hysterical as she shares the devastating news that her son, who at that moment can be seen in the perimeter of the shot putting sand up his nose, did not get into the exclusive preschool they'd been gunning for. When Keaton innocently questions the import of said rejection she is accosted by all manner of warnings, the upshot being that if the kid doesn't get into the right preschool then you can forget the private primary and secondary schools which CLEARLY negates any possibility of the Ivy League. Duh, Diane!

Silly movie. Funny scene. I love hyperbolic humor.

In the far recesses of my mind I could acknowledge women like this do indeed exist. But not in my world. I am far too hip, funky, counter-culture for that nonsense.

At 10 months the Mamacita is on the waiting list for no less than 4 regional preschools. It could be more as these placements were made very early post-pregnancy when the hysteria of new motherhood pulsed through my veins, guiding my actions in the absence of any sentience. BABY. PRESCHOOL. MUST GO. BEST!

Now that I've actually researched these springboards to my daughter's future there is one that dominates. Oh, Ruth Washburn Cooperative Preschool, you are a beacon of light in an otherwise murky academic future. And you have a waiting list. With a points system.

Let's see...1 point for every month on the waiting list. The Mamacita will have almost 40 POINTS before it's time to tackle the 'Middle 3s'. A shoe-in! But what's this? A legacy program? An 18 Point bonus for siblings of former RWCP students? Six points for kids of alumnae? It's a racket, a set-up. A pint-size con. Not that I'm going to get caught up in any such nonsense.

When I called today to check the Mamacita's status I was told she is two spots shy of a guarantee. Bastard legacies. Might as well take the organic graham crackers right from her mouth. Mark my words, Barbie heads will roll.


Dut, Dut, Dut!

In order to prevent our daughter from thinking her full name is Theron No!, my husband and I have been heeding the advice of the book writing experts. Since she spends her days exploring every dog hair infested crevice of our house, sticking everything not bolted down into her mouth, and mocking all basic rules of safety, it would be easy to stumble into this apparently all-too-common parental mine field.

Theron, No! Don't eat those quarters, Mama needs a Starbucks.

Theron, No! The dog can lick his own butt.

But Geoff and I? We've been reading and we are employing appropriate counter measures. Case in point. When the Mamacita decides for the 323rd time in a day to munch on dirt from the pot of our Jade plant, I DO NOT run to her shouting, Theron, No! Poison! Rather, I march over to her while calmly, albeit firmly, saying, Dut, dut, dut. There are always three 'duts'. No more. No less. Three is most effective, something we've learned over the years as we've Dut, dut, dutted our donkey into submission.

That they are nonsensical words is a moot point. They convey, in their onomatopoeia way, exactly what we're saying. The other day I voiced a particularly sincere Dut, dut, dut as Theron climbed onto the open dishwasher door and SHE STOPPED IN HER (KNEE) TRACKS. Eureka! I said, Dut, dut, dut, but she heard, No, Theron, sticking fork tines up your nose is not appropriate.

It's so rewarding to see your child's understanding of her world grow and to know that knowledge will ultimately keep her safe.

Earlier today when I walked into the laundry room to find her scarfing the donkey's kibble I didn't panic. Dut, dut, dut, I said and stood back confidently, waiting for her to cave to my authority. Without turning around the Mamacita, with much force, shot back, DUT, DUT, DUT!

Mama, No! Go get yourself some wasabi peas because this bounty is mine.


The Ron

Long before our daughter's conception, or even the preamble to the discussion during which we considered her conception, my husband and I spent many an evening kicking around possible names for our hypothetical young. In particular I remember a night out at a local Italian joint, peppered mightily by many glasses of red wine, that nearly devolved into mayhem as each of us incredulously received then outright rejected the other's suggestions.

I offered up what I considered to be the perfect mix of quirky and familial, Stella Wade. My husband Geoff snorted derisively. And again. SNORT, SNORT. For his part, Geoff proposed sugary waste like Britney and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Ok, that's a lie but only because I can't even remember the drivel he proffered. Neither can he for that matter - I know because I just asked him. I can't remember. That about sums it up.

A new favorite pastime ensued at our house. Find a category and exhaust ourselves considering any names associated therewith. Our beloved Colorado Avalanche was a repeat category but despite our adoration for the team, neither of us was wooed by th
e prospects of Sakic or Milan or Foppa. The situation was bleak until one day my husband half-heartedly tendered Theron. More accurately, Theoren (as in, Theoren Fleury) but for the record, it is pronounced Thair-In.

Sure, Theron is a masculine Greek name meaning 'hunter' but we couldn't bear to open up discussions EVER again and so we chose Theron for a boy or a girl and god help us if twins mucked up the works. When I actually got pregnant and we learned a daughter was on the way it was a small but potent relief to know her name was one detail we'd already handled. Sweet. This parenting thing is a breeze.

In hindsight I guffaw at our naiveté. What a quaint notion - we've picked our daughter's name and we love it and oh, singing birds and dancing squirrels. Cut to my baby shower - 8 months and counting in my pregnancy - when my mother-in-law sidled up to me cooing, I've been thinking what WE CAN DO with this name. I later discovered the genesis of this 'we'. Apparently the Friday night Mah Jong Mavens of Colorado Springs find Theron exotic in the way of LaFonda or Shaniqualita. Clearly an antidote was in order!

Yes, we named our beautiful, blue-eyed daughter after a miniature NHL'er whose remaining teeth were spared when he was forced out of the league by 'issues' with alcohol. At least we eschewed the fancy schmancy French-Canadian spelling for the phonetically friendly version. And she can always adopt a nickname like the one my uncle has all picked out for her.

The Ron.

The Ron, with no last name, of course. Like Madonna. Or Prince. Or Eminem. Or Her Royal Highness Goddess of the Universe. Like that. The Ron will strut and she will wupp the butt of any Kaya, Bode or Rain (hey, we live in a town full of unrecovered hippies) who dare laugh at her title. Remember that SHE. IS. A. HUNTER. And she will find you in your tie-dye Garanimals. She will be a king pin in her elementary school and sponsor an invitation only poker tourney on the playground.

Mah Jong is for pussies.


Supreme Idiocy O' the Week

As seen by my good pal, Nisey...

A Be Green bumper sticker stuck to the big fat ass of a Ford Expedition. I would suspect intentional irony but that may be extending my good will way too far.


But I'm the Glue

Last weekend I did something I haven't done in more than a year. I took an All-Girls Road Trip. My partners in debauchery picked me up late Friday morning and we were off. Despite the fact that I pretty much leapt into 'Suki', our getaway machine, I began our adventure somewhat ill from a tricky little cocktail of anticipation and guilt topped with a hearty splash of anxiety. Anticipation speaks for itself. Guilt because I was leaving my husband and the Mamacita for TWO FULL DAYS. And Anxiety for Daddy and his FT Mamacita duties lasting, once more with feeling...TWO. FULL. DAYS.

Straight up, my husband is a smart man. In addition to a sweeping knowledge of and appreciation for music, a penchant for informed political debate and a freakishly unexpected talent for home improvement he also possesses a thoroughly exasperating photographic memory. Eidetic memory, he will remind me while reading this. Sure, baby, BUT CAN YOU CARE FOR A 10-MONTH OLD?!

Ten months. TEN MONTHS. That's not just the Mamacita's age but exactly how long I have been creating and yes, PERFECTING, a daily routine for our little girl. There are distinct phases to our days. Meals. Play time. Naps. More Meals. More play time. Successful completion of any given phase relies heavily on the success of previous phases. Why, it's practically a science.

COULD HE RUN THE delicately balanced SHOW?! Plagued by this question I slept maybe 3 hours the night before my departure and I was never 100% sure I would go through with it until I had folded myself into the passenger seat, locked my safety belt into place and heard the opening chords of Tom Petty's 'American Girl' blare forth from Suki's speakers as we exited the driveway.

It's not as if prior to last weekend my husband hadn't handled each and every one of the aforementioned phases, but never all of them. NEVER IN SUCCESSION. How would I prepare him for all potential variations of routine? The unpredictable whims of a pre-toddler? Would he heed the magical powers of the Oat-O's? Did he know how to pack a proper diaper bag? Would he remember the SPF 45? My god, man, NOT THE 30!

My girlfriend commented that it was a 'good sign' that the Little Mama had practically jumped out of my arms to her Daddy's when it was time for us to go. Great sign, I agreed.


Over a period of 2 days, I called home 4 times. I'd imagined more. I'd imagined calls from my husband fraught with the need for guidance. I'd imagined refusals to nap, to eat or to go down for the night. I'd imagined tears, both hers and his. I'd imagined my carefully crafted homefront fraying at the edges. Mama is the glue, after all.

Instead, I got a peaceful weekend with my best girlfriends. I got two nights of sleep the likes of which I vaguely remembered from the 2nd trimester of my pregnancy. I got to come home to a happy baby who wasn't sleep deprived or suffering from any major wounds. Okay, there were NO wounds.

In the end, the best thing I got? Knowing that not only is Mama NOT the only capable adult around here, but that Daddy is much MORE than a temporary substitute when I'm out. Truth be told, cold and hard as it is, he's an uber-competent replacement who deserves his own private time with the Mamacita so she grows up confident in Daddy's ability to take care of her. After all, he IS the Papa Pajama.


The Donkey Says 'Woof-Woof'!

Rapidly approaching her 10th month of life, my daughter is still using her few 'words' indiscriminately. True word/person association? Not quite. But it's coming, the day that will be dutifully logged into her baby book as the occasion of her First Word! And so my husband and I wonder what it will be while not so subtley lobbying for our own monikers to take the honor.



A few years ago the husband and I watched 'Shrek' for the first time. Twenty minutes into it as the Donkey pranced about touting the virtues of parfaits, we turned to each other in a fine moment of marital mind meld and simultaneously said, 'Scout!'.

Scout is the name of our Pointer/Great Dane mix who, if only he could verbalize all that energy, would sound just like Shrek's Donkey. He would follow me around the house ALL DAY LONG, as he's always done, yapping non stop. 'Hey, food lady, do you have any of those cookies? I sure like cookies. Everybody loves cookies. Cookies have layers.'

Donkey. Catchy. So much so that a friend we've know for the past couple of years recently said, 'I thought his name was Donkey,' when I called the beast Scout.

I imagine Donkey a rather feasible first word. Nice hard 'd' with no tricky consonant combos to trip up the budding speaker. Two syllables. Easy. Donkey! Given that the Little Mama probably spends more time with said Donkey than anyone else IN THE WORLD it's practically a cosmic certainty that Mama and Daddy can abandon the campaign now. Accept defeat. It's a Donkey's world.

I see us at the local dog park, the Mamacita's eyes darting back and forth as she yells out, 'Donkey! Donkey! Donkey!' at all manner of canine friends. Later she'll go to preschool (assuming she was put on the waiting list early enough for the 'points system' to pay off...but that's a story for another day) and she'll proudly demonstrate her animal knowledge.

The cow goes...Moo!
The cat goes...Meow!
The donkey goes...Woof-Woof!

The dog goes...Dog? Dog? What is this rare and exotic creature of which you speak?

There goes Stanford.


Ummm...It's not a medical condition

As I sit here writing this (worried about how this will sound and wondering how I caught this blogging bug, anyway), my daughter is unknowingly admiring herself. At 9 months she thinks the full-length mirror that her daddy mounted sideways at baby height is the pinnacle of entertainment. She looks down at her hands and then shows them to the baby in the mirror. She crawls toward her reflected face with a determined look and promptly licks a 'Hello'. I could watch this for hours and oh, I have. I find her as entetaining, fascinating and worthwhile as she does that mirror baby any day. And that, SHE, is enough for me. Literally, I mean. She's our whole enchilada. Numero Uno, Bebe...Solamente Bebe.

Yep, it's the dreaded Only Child Syndrome and to make matters worse in the eyes of a surprising number of people, it's self inflicted. The Mamacita's conception was quite shockingly simple and my pregnancy, minus that extra 40 lbs, a breeze so there's no dread associated with this decision not to have another child. It's simply HOW. WE. WANT. IT. It's nothing new to us - we made the decision to be a one baby family long before we were ready to have that baby. What is surprising though are the reactions from friends, associates, acquaintances, on & on, when they learn the Mamacita is destined to grow up a friendless, bullying, spoiled (gasp!) Only Child.

'You can't have just one,' they say. I beg to differ.

'You should give her a sibling.' I'd like to see you make me - I can throw down, people!

'Only Children have adjustment problems.' Uh, I'm an only child.

That last is greeted by a certain look. It could be one of surprise though often I suspect the wearer is having an 'Aha!' moment, thinking, 'That explains SO MUCH.' But hey, I really do believe I'm fairly well adjusted given the company. I don't go around hording things, mentally labeling it MY STUFF, nor do I verbally accost people at random, telling them how to live their lives. For instance with worldy gems like, You really shouldn't have more than one child, ya know.

Sure there are challenges for only children, just like there are for kids with siblings be there 1 or 20. I can honestly say from EXPERIENCE that there are a lot of perks too. There's the one-on-one time with parents, grandparents, aunts & uncles and the like. Only kids get carte blanche when it's their turn to pick the movie, bedtime book, dinner menu, etc. Plus - No Hand-Me-Downs. Ok, maybe there are still hand-me-downs but they come from cool older kids who do not fall into the dorky/annoying/terrorizing sibling category.

I'm no holier-than-thou eco-breeder hell bent on convincing the world that singular procreation is the only way to go. This decision had nothing to do with anything like that. It's about contentment and freedom and confidence that this is the best choice for our family. Speaking of which, that's what it's about ultimately. CHOICE.