I Lost It Today

I have been dealing with AT&T telemarketers for around two weeks now. Daily calls, morning to night, sometimes more than one in a day. It has gotten to the point where I am afraid to answer the phone. They won’t take “no” for an answer, and believe you me, I have tried.

After yesterday, I am officially over it. During the 11am phone call, I thought I told the woman pretty clearly that I am not interested in adding any services, thanks for calling. She interrupted to argue with me. I hung up. At 8pm last night, I got another call. Eight my-baby-just-went-to-sleep-and-now-she’s-waking-him-up o’clock last night, she called me again.

I don’t yell at telemarketers. I try to put myself in their shoes. They’ve got a crap job, and they’re just trying to get by, too. They’re making a living doing what The Man tells them to do. I’ve been trapped in jobs by circumstance, too. So I did the only thing I knew to do. I called AT&T this morning and told them that if the calls don’t stop, I’ll be changing my phone service. The (really nice) customer service rep told me it would be no problem to put me on their no-solicitation list. I had no idea there was such a thing, and it made me really happy. She did inform me that it wouldn’t go into effect until midnight tonight. I just have to make it through today. No problem, right?

10am the phone rang. I answered, heard the tell-tale click and pause of a telemarketer, and I hung up. At 11am, the phone rang. I let it. If a real person left an actual message, I could answer. When the machine cut in, the caller hung up. Twice in an hour. Unreal.

And then came noon. I had just gotten the baby down for his nap, and he was in that tricky limbo phase where his brain was trying to decide between hibernate and overdrive, and any sudden interruption can end our efforts for the day. I answered the phone.

Click- pause. “Is this (pronounces my fairly straightforward name very wrongly)”


“This is (different chick from the one who hassled me yesterday) with AT&T – ”

And I let her have it. I raised my voice to a stranger. It was not how I was brought up, but she had it coming.

“Listen,” I said, “Someone has called me every single day for nearly two weeks. Sometimes twice. When I am eating, when I am going to bed, when my kids are in bed. Every day.We don’t want any additional services. I got put on your no-solicitation list this morning. I know that doesn’t go into effect until midnight, but you are going to stop calling me. It hasn’t been you, it’s been some other chick, but you have to take no for an answer. You woke my kid up from his nap. Calling me twice a day is insane. We are not buying anything else. You are going to stop calling me. Write it down somewhere. Stop calling. I cannot take this anymore. And there is nothing left for either of us to say.”

I hung up on her. I have not hung up on anyone in a flying rage since I was fourteen. As I hit “end,” it hit me like a bolt of remorseful lightning. The voice of the kind customer service rep from this morning played back through my mind. “In the next 24 hours, someone will be calling you  to make sure that you had a good experience with Customer Service.”

That wasn’t my telemarketer pal that I cut loose on. Son of a pup. I am a turd. I hate myself.


Parenting Dilemma #432

Imma cook sumfin yummy for you.

Kids don’t come with manuals, and situations for which there are no set rules pop up with some frequency. As a favor to you, I am here to give you a leg up on your own parenting by sharing some potential dilemmas. This provides you an opportunity to discuss with your co-parent/mother/therapist ways in which you might handle the same incidents should they ever happen to you. Thank me later. Believe me, you will want to.

Situation #432- Unsolicited Sharing.

Smallest son approaches you with finger outstretched. On said finger, you find the bounty of his most recent (oh, dear Lord, you hope!) nostril-mining expedition. And he is offering to share it with you. Do you:

a) Scream loudly, remove the prize with a tissue and bathe both child and yourself in Listerine

b) Admonish your child to never, ever, ever pick his nose again, that’s disgusting!

c) Recognize that your child is very, very generously offering you a treat he was planning to eat himself and thank him, while quietly removing offending nugget with a tissue.

d)) Pretend you don’t understand what he is saying and offer some fun-bubbles and a good hand-wash

e) Crawl under the bed and hide, hoping beyond hope that he doesn’t wipe it on the new curtains

There is only one wrong choice, and the very thought of it gives me the screaming willies. I couldn’t bring myself to even offer it as an option. So what do you do? Don’t even bother to check Dr.Spock or the Baby Whisperer, because they have neglected to cover this particular situation. Discuss and get back to me.

The Real Differences Between Boys and Girls #1: Food

Feed me!

The point in  my life where I knew the most about rearing children was shortly before I actually had any of my own. I used to believe there are no differences between boys and girls besides the stance they adopt when they pee. How kids are raised has far more impact on them than a silly chromosome, right? It was all nurture trumps nature over here. And then the kids arrived.

Now I’m not saying that there are genetically defined gender roles that children will inevitably fall into. But they are different. Different but equally strange. One big difference between my daughter and her brothers is how much they eat.

My daughter was our first, and we made a few mistakes with her. She was unbelievably tiny, and we experienced a few dramatic incidents at the doctor’s office regarding her size, or lack thereof, including a mad rush to the local children’s hospital because it appeared that my three year old had actually lost five pounds. It took us a $100 co-pay to learn that the doctor’s scales were incorrectly calibrated. But there was no denying she was scrawny.

She ate, of course. But never enough to satisfy us. Meal times were a barely tolerated interlude between far more interesting activities.  Food became less sustenance and more opportunity for artistic expression. Yogurt and sweet potatoes were for painting a high-chair tray. Cheerios were for creating designs. And she was picky. At the age of 10, she asked to go vegetarian. At the time I wondered if her decision had less to do with personal conviction and more to do with eliminating an entire food group, but I let her.

When the second baby entered the picture, I figured mealtimes would be the same desperate uphill battle against eminent starvation. Boy, was I in for a surprise. I’ve definitely been in a power-struggle or two with the boys over trying a taste of the green bean, and we’ve experienced some strange aversions (french fries and biscuits come to mind). But the biggest stress with my toddler boys is knowing when to say when.

Growth spurts are something of an event in our house these days. With my daughter, a growth spurt meant she took a bite out of everything on her plate and maybe finished most of an entree. With the boys, we have taken to tossing the food in their general direction so we don’t lose a hand. Safety first, you know.

My second child is a “grazer.” He takes in small amounts of food all day long. All day long. We are blessed with a school that allows students to bring a snack in the morning, otherwise he might actually consume his pencils, erasers, and possibly his seatmate. From the time he was two, babysitters have had the same parting comment. “He didn’t stop eating.” But even he can’t hold a candle to Squish.

You think I’m kidding. Squish is coming to the final phase of a growth spurt as we speak. This one has lasted over a week. For breakfast, he can eat two bowls of cereal with milk, a bowl of oatmeal, and a banana. As soon as he has polished that off, it’s snack time. A peanut butter sandwich and some bunny crackers should hold him over until lunch time, which may consist of string cheese, grapes, milk, and some peanut butter crackers. At one memorable meal, Squish consumed a bread stick, some carrots and dressing, and four servings of lasagna. Four. As in, as much as the rest of his entire family put together. And he didn’t just ask for more. He begged. With real tears. As we watched him consume that final serving in some alarm, our bank statement flashed before our eyes, and we had to ask ourselves the obvious question.  If he continues to eat like this, can we even afford to keep him?

And here’s the fun part. That particular meal may have been solely responsible for launching him into the 6th percentile. Yes, the sixth. For the unenlightened, children are weighed and measured at each well-visit, and the results are compared those of other kids the same age (the percentiles are actually based on 1000 male bottle-fed babies in the 1950’s, but that’s neither here nor there).The bigger they are, the higher their “percentile.” Squish the smallest critter I have spawned. As tiny as my daughter was, she operated somewhere around the 15th  until she was in middle school.

Fast-forward a few years on my daughter. She is 14 and an incredibly adventurous eater. She actually likes food now, and her new favorite is barbecue tofu. But she still doesn’t eat much. On occasion, she can put away four slices of pizza, but her brothers can do that now! Both of them. I am a little scared for what our teen years hold, and I think feeding these boys will involve some creativity on our part if we’re not going to go broke doing it. I wonder if a family has ever been black-listed from an all-you-can-eat buffet.


Do Me a Solid

This has absolutely nothing to do with my post, but I like this picture.

Some people use horoscopes to predict their day. Others check to see what kind of stuff they have in their schedule to get a sense of how things are going to go. For me, it’s much more simple than star charts and Franklin planners. My day hinges on poop.

Not my own, let’s be clear. Although at my age, who can deny that a good one can be a very satisfying start to the day. No, it’s more serious than that because it is totally out of my control.I am, of course, referring to Mr. Squish.

My day is always better if I can get my work done early in the day. Once I hit “save,” I am free, and it’s a glorious feeling. My ideal schedule is to get my work finished, take Squish somewhere fun to play, come home for lunch, and start on my second project while he takes a nap. Sounds easy, right? And it totally can be, but it’s all up to Squish.

I cannot work when he is running around. I find myself stopping every 5.3 seconds to pull him off the couch/cat/counter, and it’s hard to concentrate. If I can get him to sit still for 30 minutes, I get on a roll, the creative juices can flow, and I can at least get enough traction that I can finish my work after I spring him. And that means Bob the Builder. I know. I am a terrible parent. I let my kid watch a bit of TV. <insert judgement of my parenting here>

But here’s the rub. In our house, there is no access to the wonders of a claymation construction worker until tiny person produces a poop.  And not just any poop. It has to at least appear to be the day’s work. Can we do it? Yes, we can!

Our rule is not as weird as it sounds. My young toilet-trainee had lots of accidents while watching his show because he found Bob too riveting to answer the call of nature. Since the institution of the poop-for-Bob policy, Squish has had 2 accidents. It works, and we’re sticking with it until it doesn’t anymore. May that day never come.

The tricky part is getting it done. Most days, he’s like clock-work. He gets up, he asks to potty, he poops out a present, and my work can begin. But then there are the days where he doesn’t want to, where he isn’t, um, moved by the spirit. Those days are special. He offers a non-committal shrug and says “It not workin’ today.” Those days go something like this:

“Do you want to go poop?”

“Naw. I fine.”

“Go play for a few minutes while Mommy does her workies.”

“Mommy, my scooper is broken!” (accompanied by dramatic wailing)

“Baby, that’s a puzzle. It’s supposed to come apart. Let Mommy finish this really fast”

“Is my room clean? I cleaning my room.”

“Squish, that’s the closet. Get out of there! Do you need to go poop? Poop for Bob?”

“No. No poop today. Dis Daddy’s coffee?”

“Don’t drink that!”

“I hungwy. Need brekfuss.”

“Sweetie, you just ate. Are you sure you don’t need to poop? Watch some Bob?”

“No, I fine. I gonna feed Feebee.”

“I already fed the dog, pumpkin. Give me that. She can’t eat all of those!”

“I frow dis away. Dis trash.”

“Baby, that’s my checkbook. Get out of my purse, and get that out of the trash!”

And on it goes until:

a) Squish gives up and produces a dook, or

b) I give up on my deadline and take Squish somewhere to burn off some energy so that maybe he’ll actually take a nap.

Today we were lucky. It’s only 9am, and it’s all taken care of on both ends. We’re going to pack up and go to the zoo to celebrate. It’s been a productive day. For both of us.



Did I Really Just Say That?

Yes, that's my son wearing that bra.

I often find myself surprised at what I say to my kids. And equally shocked that a situation requires such statements would pop up in the first place. Oh, the things they don’t tell us before we have kids! But would we believe it if they did? For example, I would never anticipated the frequency with which I must remind someone to put their pants back on. Taken out of context, about half of what I say could land us on Dr. Phil.

1) No, you may not have any carrots until you finish that cookie.

2) Hey, guys, whose poop is that?

3) We don’t lick the car bumper.

4) Don’t pee on the dog!

5) I’m sorry. You may not wear your underwear on your head today. We’re going to church.

6) You took those blankets out, now get in the cabinet. (a little disclaimer here.We store blankets in a cabinet. He likes to drag them out and play in there.)

7) That’s your booger. If you didn’t have a place to put it, you should have left it where it was.

and the follow-up

8 )  Don’t wipe your boogers on the dog.

9) Thank you, but I don’t want a bunny cracker up my nose.

10) Hands in your own pants, please.

11) (said to teacher) I’m sorry that my child told the class that her favorite animal is a wild ass. No, she wasn’t being funny.

12) Only one person in the dog’s crate at a time.

13) We don’t tell our teacher that the glitter baton looks like it’s full of sperm. I know you meant milt, but she did not. And by the way, no more Blue Planet for you.

14) Son, can you take off my bra? (second disclaimer. It’s not as bad as it sounds. He was the one wearing it.)

And the worst. The one I swore I would never say to any child, ever.

Because I SAID so. 

Am I the only one? What have you said to your kid/spouse/canary that totally took you by surprise?