Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Screwin' Around

Don't mind me, I'm just messing around with my site. If I spent one more day looking at the pink dots I was going to have to go on a bender. Which, incidentally, would have made me see more pink dots. But at least I would have had a good excuse.

Kind words and suggestions are always welcome.

Monday, August 28, 2006

A Cautionary Tail

Last week my friend's toddler was bitten by a dog.

She was bit on the face, on the bridge of her nose, between her eyes. The worst possible place for a child, or anyone, to get bitten is in the face. But, unfortunately, 77% of children who experience dog bites get bitten in the face.

But the worst part... It was their own dog.

Apparently, from what I've heard (I was not the one who spoke to my friend on the phone. Mr. C relayed this information to me) the bite was not horrible or disfiguring. It wasn't even bad enough to warrant (in their mind) a trip to the doctor. Our friends claim there were two punctures wounds, but from what I've gleamed from the second hand knowledge I received I have doubts that the wounds were in fact really punctures and not just deep scratches. Yes, there is a difference. A dog knows what it's doing when it bites someone. A scratch, though still a bite, is more of a warning than a puncture. If a dog bites and the bite results in puncture wounds the dog means business. And business is bad.

Obviously, my friends were very upset that their aging cocker spaniel would bite their child because the girl tried to take a toy away from the dog. I don't blame them, it's horrible that their dog would bite their child. They called to not only tell us about what happened but to inquire as to whether or not I could help them find a home for this dog. A dog that has now bitten a child. I told them to call the local breed specific rescue (in this case, a rescue that specializes in cockers) or cut out the middle man and go directly to the breeder from which the animal came. Any breeder worth their salt will at least aid a family in placing a dog with the correct person. But because the animal has bitten it can't go with a family with young children, a couple who is planning on having children in the future, or a single person or couple who has relatives or friends who come to their home with children. That significantly decreases the odds on this dog finding a suitable home in the near future, or ever for that matter. It does not look good for the dog.

I have very strong opinions on dog bites - if a dog has bitten a child the dog is history. Period. End of story. Not in a medical, bought the farm kind of way (though, some might argue with me on that point) but in a the dog needs to find a new home immediately kind of way. Because if Rover bites once there is a much greater likelihood that he will bite again. He knows he can use his teeth instead of wasting time with a warning growl and he'll get the desired result quicker, whatever that result may be. Now, from what I've already stated, the chances of this dog finding a suitable home are slim, in the meantime I have no idea what they will be doing with their dog.

This situation upsets me on so many different levels and I'm horribly conflicted about how I should handle this with my friends.

On one hand, my friends are your typical, naive dog owners. Not everyone, I have to remind myself, has the desire to research dog behavior as I do. Besides, the dog bit a child, blame should not lie with the girl, even if she was the one to try to take a chew toy away from a dog. She's the innocent victim due to her young age and limited knowledge. But on the other hand, though the blame should fall partly on the dog, it should fall mainly on my friends' shoulders. By being naive (not stupid, just unwilling to educate themselves properly) they essentially set their dog up to bite someone. This situation could have been avoided if they would have taken a few correct steps along the way instead of completely disregarding any common sense. They did everything you shouldn't do when you have a dog - or in their case, two dogs - and small children together in the same house.

Case in point, the dog (the second one they acquired from the same "reputable breeder" as the puppy they brought home a few months before. I have my doubts about the reputable part.) was an adult, intact male that the breeder had little need for anymore. He wasn't actually purchased, but adopted, on a whim. The background they had on the dog's history was sketchy, at best. When my friends brought him home, recently neutered, they didn't take either dog to any sort of training class. Neither dog was properly socialized with children or other dogs. And when it came time for a new baby to enter the family the dogs weren't, to my knowledge, eased into a new life that was soon to include a very active toddler. The dogs went from pampered pets to second-class citizens very quickly. Some dogs could take that new role in stride, but this particular dog already had problems and no measures were taken to make the transition less stressful on him.

There's more to the story, of course. I knew the dog had begun to growl at the girl and I told my girlfriend that something had to be done about it. Hello, you have a friend who is a dog trainer. Take advantage, please. But the conversation was quickly changed and never brought up again. I found out later that my girlfriend and her husband had taken to gating both dogs in a room due to fear of what the male dog would do when the girl was around. Gating (or crating) is not a bad idea, sometimes. But excessive restraining will often times make the dog more frustrated and, therefore, more aggressive. Especially when the dog is not used to any sort of restraint. Unfortunate, but true.

If they were worried about the dog and the girl being in the same room together, supervised by the mother (kids should always be supervised around dogs, even if it's your own dog), they should have found the dog a new home. But, like most people, I'm sure they thought they could manage the situation. They didn't want to deal with the guilt or trouble of adopting out their dog. I don't blame them for that, but I do blame them for recognizing a bad situation and not doing anything about it.

The young girl is physically and emotionally fine, thank goddess for small miracles, but the dog, who is now entering his twilight years, will need to be re-homed or he will end up being put down like millions of other dogs in this country are every year. He has a history of biting so he's not the perfect candidate for adoption as so many other dogs in shelters and rescues are. His outlook is grim. A girl was bitten and a dog might die and if my friends would have done something as simple as pick up a book both may have been avoided. I'm sad for them all and, frankly, disappointed.

They're now an unfortunate statistic.


The website I linked to above, from the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine, is a fantastic and concise bit of information about dog bites and how you can avoid them. If you'd like to know more:

The Humane Society of the United States has a great site

So does the CDC

And, I've never heard of the Dog Scouts before, but in my searching I came across their site. Good information there too.

There's lots of information out there, for free on the internet or at your local bookstore. Or contact a trainer (need to find one? Go here. Yes, I'm affiliated with them, at least until I let my membership run out a few months ago. Gotta update that!). Don't be afraid to ask for help if you have a problem with your dog. You could be saving a life.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The secret world of blogging

I spent this beautiful, late summer afternoon on a long walk with two Mom friends and their kids at a local park. Two things came out of that walk. 1) Not only was I made painfully aware that I am really out of shape - if you push a stroller uphill for a few miles you eventually have to go downhill, right? Uh, no. Apparently not - but 2) I almost put my foot in my mouth thus possibly changing the course of my life as I know it.

I almost outed myself as a blogger.


Okay, that was a little dramatic but, to date, I have shared the knowledge of my blog with my husband and my sister. Until recently I have had no desire to share it with a friend or other family member. This is my sanctuary, the place I can rant and rave about almost anything I want. Oh the sweet freedom of the blogosphere.

Today, however, one of my friends was telling me about the journal she's been keeping since her son was born.

"Oh, why don't you start a bl...." cough, cough, cough.

"A what?" she asked.

"I think I swallowed a bug." I lied. "A book. I was saying that I think you should write a book."

Yeah, it was a pathetic cover-up. I have no idea if she can write, so why would I suggest she write a book? But thankfully the seeds of my craziness were planted long ago (and, funny enough, she still likes me) so she brushed off my strange suggestion. I chalk up the fact that she let the conversation die to my past history of inappropriate comments, her patient nature, and our lack of oxygen from pushing the kids up yet another hill.

I've often thought about how my real-life friendships would be different if all the women I knew had blogs. No, this is not a scenario I'd like to follow through with. I like my secret life. It makes me feel kind of, um... Naughty. Yeah, kind of naughty. My friends don't know what I do with my spare time and I kind of like that aspect of it. (More drama alert) I'm not going to compare blogs to 900 numbers, because that's just wrong. And slightly dirty. Eww. But there's a reason why I keep this blog to myself and share it with strangers. I like to speak my mind without feeling the need to censor myself because I might step on someone's toes or feelings.

The other night Mr C. and I were discussing that very same friend. I really like her, I told him, but she's so reserved. I'm the one who is supposed to be the quiet observer. That's my M.O. I don't know what to do with another person who is just like me. Funny enough, when we email each other I can see bits of her humor and you know what? She's freakin' hilarious. In a very dry way that I like. I don't understand why she doesn't let it slip out more often when we're together.

I even said to my husband:

"She and I would probably get along even better... If she had a blog."

If there were one person I would share the secret world of blogging with - okay, not so secret. Not secret at all really. Let me rephrase. My secret world of blogging - it would be her. It's probably more curiosity than anything because I'd like to know what's going on in that head of her's.

So I pose this question to you, all knowing masters and mistresses of the blogosphere: Would you invite a friend into your blog world? And if you have allowed friends to view your blog, do you find that you censor yourself? Does it affect your real-life relationship? I've always relied on the kindness of strangers. So what would you do in my situation?

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

These are the days

"Oh, isn't she sweet," said the kindly, gray-haired woman behind the counter of the small health food store, "How old is she?"

"She's 16 months," I replied, setting Chicky down on the floor to dig a twenty out of my wallet. Capitalizing on this golden opportunity Chicky decided to pull organic chocolate bars off the low shelves and began handing them to me. Thanks, kid. I get the hint. Mommy needs to have some chocolate and save the rainforest. Mommy's all about good deeds while she's hopped up on sugar.

"Look at how she's walking!" said the grandmotherly-type, clearly forgetting about the teething tablets and bottled water I was purchasing. "Is she talking yet?"

"Just a few words. She gets her point across in other ways." Is my answer as my daughter starts flinging stacks of literature on the local yoga center around the store.

"This is the best age. Enjoy it while it lasts."

As we left with our purchases (finally hurried out because a man with dreads and Birks needed to buy his patchouli) I was struck by her last statement. This is the best age. This is the best age? Sure it's fun to watch my daughter learn and grow everyday, building upon her skills and knowledge of life. Especially the times when she learns that a peak-a-block makes a satisfying crash against my laptop when used as a hammer. Or when eating dinner it's fun to throw the green vegetables to waiting dogs lying below the highchair. I do enjoy watching her run through the house as fast as her little legs will carry her. She runs a few steps and then falls down for no reason, like Agador in "The Birdcage" in the scenes when he's forced to wear shoes, and then gets right back up and continues running only to fall down again. She's tough, my little girl. A few bruises aren't going to stop her from chasing the cat. Yes, this age is fun.

My girlfriend, K., the mother of a precocious two year old, and her sister, mother of two teens and a pre-teen, repeatedly told me in my first few months as a mother that their favorite child age was from three to 9 months. After that, everything goes to shit.

To which I felt like replying "Do you not remember that age? It's all about shit."

But they loved that time in their children's lives. Thoughts of it left them in a rosy haze of soft, sleeping babies, the smell of Dreft and Ivory Snow and sweet infants that they could dress up in any way they chose. I loved that time, too, but I also remember the constant feedings and 3am wake-ups as well as the feel of a downy head against my cheek. Maybe I'm still too close to it to get wrapped up in the romantic memories of infancy. I can remember back to that age and remember a few things fondly. Okay, quite a few things. Was that the best age and I missed something?

The woman in the health food store seemed to remember the age that Chicky is right now as the best. The days when a toddler can walk but language has not yet become a tiresome, insistent, soundtrack played over and over. Chicky still allows me to dress her - okay, some days she refuses to wear shoes but I can feel her on that - and most days has no problem staying in a stroller while I scan the aisles of new books at Barnes and Noble. This is a good age, indeed. But is really the best?

I have yet another friend who was thrilled when her daughter was finally potty trained and somewhat self-sufficient. No more diapers and soon after she could have conversations with her kid. Child-like banter about cows, McDonald's french fries and her friends at preschool, but still it was an exchange of words instead of a one-sided conversation. Any mother of an infant or young toddler knows what I mean when I say one-sided. I have deep, meaningful talks with my kid about politics and Project Runway (or usually just the politics of Project Runway) while she gums the dog's toys. I am looking forward to the day when we can sit down and discuss her hatred for swings together as mother and daughter over a glass of milk and graham crackers.

When Mr. C and I took our first trip to Italy we met a couple in their 50's who were staying at the same inn we were. Over dinner one night shared with three other couples at the inn the husband and wife in their 50's shared stories of their sons moving out of the house. The youngest had just moved out recently and they were toasting to their new freedom. Hurrah! The kids are out of the house! To them, this was the best age. The age when their children were completely self-sufficient, emotionally, physically and monetarily. It's not that they didn't love and enjoy their children but they were done parenting full-time. I'm sure I will enjoy having my life back when my kid is grown, but who's to say it's the best or not?

So, what is the best age? I have to admit that I was a bit disheartened by what the woman at the health store had to say, but after thinking about it I decided to take it with a grain of salt. At sixteen months, Chicky is at a great age. Maybe the best age. But when she's 3 years old and going to preschool and telling me about her day when I pick her up, that will be the best age. And when she's 6 or 7 and she's playing t-ball and she learns to run the bases the correct way or she's picking clover in the outfield, that will be the best age. When she's 15 and hormonal and crying over a boy who doesn't like her, when she finally breaks down and begrudgingly asks for advice then that will be the best age.

And when she's walking down an aisle to receive her diploma or, maybe, to marry the man she loves, that will be the best age.

But for now, I'll enjoy her walking, then falling, then picking herself back up and walking again and consider this the best.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Open for business

Mothers never get a day off.

Mothers can go to work, take weekends to go off with their friends for Girls Only adventures, or leave their kids with a sitter to run errands, but the "On Duty" light on the ol' mommy cab never goes off. We are always Open For Business. Sort of like LL Bean, we never close. A mother is a mother no matter where she is or what she's doing because she is always, in the back of her mind, thinking about her family.

Last week my husband was on a short business trip. He left early one morning and was back late the next night. He was away from home for less than 48 hours. No big deal. As business trips go this was not a bad one, but something happened, or I should say didn't happen, that will make this particular trip stand out in my mind for some time to come.

I did not receive one phone call from him that first day.

In 24 hours I did not receive one call to let me know that his plane landed safely. Not one quick three minute call to ask if I had left our child in a Salvation Army drop box. Not one call before bed to tell me that he loved and missed me.

In the BC days (Before Chicky) we often took separate business trips and, occasionally, circumstances would interfere with our daily check-in calls. At the time it was common. But that was four, three, two years ago BC. Back before we became parents. Now I cannot even fathom the idea of not checking in at least once to make sure that the person left at home knows the one who is traveling is safe and sound. I can't wrap my head around possibly being the person traveling (I could stop right there because I never go anywhere, ever.) and not calling home to make sure everyone there is in possession of all their limbs and most of their sanity.

Because I am the Mother.

Mr. Chicky was full of reasons why he didn't call - mostly good ones. But he is in possession of a cell phone, email, and as far as I know hotels still have phones in their rooms. You can't tell me that at some point, I don't know, maybe when he was on the way to the men's room, that he couldn't take a minute and say "I'm here. I love you. Is everything going okay? How's the baby? I love her too. I'll call you later. Tomorrow. When I have another free moment."

Is it Mommy Guilt? Obligation? Perhaps its control issues that make a mother feel as if she needs to be connected to her home and hearth and family as much as possible (says the woman who has been holding on to leashes for a living)? Maybe it's the stay at home mom in me that can't wrap her mind around the concept of being out of contact with her family for that long.

There are days when I want to chuck it all. I want to run away and just... Be. Just be me. Not Chicky Baby's mother, not even Mrs. Chicky. Me. Take some time for myself and find the woman I once was. I'd like to have a drink and a conversation with her. I'd like to inhabit her skin again and walk in her shoes. And not sensible shoes for comfort, ones with heels. I'd like to take some time to be the woman who doesn't have a child and act accordingly, without a care in the world for someone other than me. I'd like to throw caution to the wind. But I can't do that, because I'm a mother. And once you're a mother there is no on/off switch. You are a mother 24/7 even if you are not in arms reach of your offspring. You are always wondering, thinking, planning, worrying, longing, missing, loving. It may not always be at the front of your mind but it's always there, lingering, in the background. Waiting for it's time to engulf your thoughts.

Of course, a mother can always find the time somewhere to have a moment to herself. After arranging and scheduling and preparing, making meals and calling babysitters, consoling, assuring, and wiping away tears, a mother can go and find some peace with her self. However, when the family needs, she will always drop everything and go to them. Even if there is someone there to shoulder most of the responsibility, she will always be there. It is required of her. She requires it of herself.

Soon Mr. C will embark on another business trip. A longer one this time. I think after the last one I have impressed upon him the need to call, just once but at least once, everyday that he is away. I suppose that is the point to this post, the fact that I needed to make him aware that I expect him to call. I needed to remind him that he must find the time between meetings and phone calls, dinners and trips out with business associates to take a minute and remember us left behind. Me, languishing in obscurity. Chicky Baby, testing the limits of her power and will.

Does this make him a bad father? Uh uhh. No way. He is a wonderful father. However, it's never been his sole responsibility to care for and feed a small child. We have divvied up the responsibilities: Money making and yard work - him, Everything else - me. On the weekends he pitches in with a breakfast or lunch here, a diaper change there. A few nights a week he spends that last hour of the day caring for Chicky Baby while I run off to work. I don't have to remind him as much as I used to that he, in fact, can jump right in and get his hands dirty, but there are times when I wish I could just go on with what ever task I'm in the middle of and know that he was there to take over as needed. Without any help from me.

I know there will come a time when my daughter is less dependent on me for her basic care. There will come that day when our routines are easier and Mr. C and I have all our ducks in row. We'll have taken the years to figure out our roles as parents and hash out what each one expects of the other. It will get easier and more hectic and easier again. But until then there will always be his questions to answer: What should I feed her? What should I dress her in? And I will always be watching, meeting schedules, keeping routines, kissing boo boos, making sure there are vegetables on the dinner plate. Even if I am not physically there.

Because I'm the mother.

And mothers never take a day off.


Added: Mr. C just called from a southern airport to let me know that his plane arrived safely. His exact words were "I'm here. I'm safe. Okay?"

Smartass. He's lucky I got the joke and he's doubly lucky that I love him.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Use your words

After rereading my last post I was painfully aware of the fact that I used the word "cute" no less than five times. Five times! True, it was used in reference to my daughter and her various hair styles, but over used nonetheless. At the very least I could have substituted "adorable", "pretty", and maybe even "attractive" for the word cute. I could have gone as far as to use "fetching", "precious", or "delightful" instead.

(Okay, maybe not delightful. I never use the word delightful without a touch of irony or sarcasm. I mean, c'mon. Delightful? Pssh. Can anyone who isn't over the age of 65 with a British accent use that word without a wink and a smile?)

But I didn't use any of those words. I used "cute". I used "cute" five times. I will now flog myself with a large, hardcover thesaurus.

I'd like to use the excuse of it was late and I was tired. I could even go as far as to blame my oversight on a loss of brain cells after childbirth, but Chicky Baby is 16 months old and that excuse is wearing a little thin. I don't have a good reason why I overused a painfully cliche word while telling a story about a toddler and I am very disappointed with myself.

Because I love words.

I love to use the word "perhaps" when I could just as easily say "maybe" or "fortuitous" when I could have used "fortunate". I love how the words "succulent" and "delectable" feel on my tongue. And words such as "ecstastic", "bliss", "mirth" and "jubilant" make me, well, they make me really happy. Or maybe I should say "convivial".

I enjoy words that when said bring to mind the thought of something completely different than the intended definition. Like 'acquiesce', for instance. When I think of the word I imagine crisp, icy water from a spring when I know it actually means "To consent or comply passively or without protest." Although, I am equally fond of words that sound exactly how the mean: 'Calm' is such a peaceful word, invoking images of soft, white clouds and warm breezes and 'Ruckus' is so rowdy and ready for a fight.

These days my hours are filled with phrases like "That's a cat. Kuh-ah-tuh. The cat says meow," to my daughter who has little desire at this time to use her words. That's not to say that I talk down to her. To help her give meaning to her burgeoning store of emotions I don't just tell her that it's okay to get mad sometimes, I tell her that it's okay to be "angry" and "frustrated". But she is 16 months so my daily working vocabulary is full of descriptive words like 'yellow', and 'big', and 'square'.

And speaking of work, my time at work is spent teaching people to strip their language down to the simplest of terms when training their dogs. Don't tell your dog to 'sit down', I instruct them. That's two separate commands and your dog is confused by what you want from them. Do you want them to 'sit' or 'down'? Keep it simple and to the point. Consequently I find myself speaking in simple terms to the owners. "Yes! You're doing a good job with your pet. Keep up the good work." Lots of positive, simple words. Good. Yes. Nice. It's not all that different from my other, full-time job: dealing with a toddler.

So maybe (perhaps) I've become a bit complacent in the vocabulary department. I don't spend my days talking with adults, using adult words. If the tv is on in my home during daylight hours it's usually tuned to Sesame Street and though my Spanish is getting much better (I have no ear for languages) it's not helping to remind me to work "sesquipedalian" into conversation.

All this drivel was to apologize (mainly to myself if you want to know the truth) for overusing the word "cute". I'll have to add that to my short list of words that I try not to use in conversation, like "nice", "delightful", "perm" and "George W. Bush". Which means that I'll soon run out of words to describe my kid because, let's face it, I think she's pretty cute precious.

What's the word for a woman who thinks the moon rises and sets over her child and is convinced that toddler is the cutest most beautiful one to ever walk the earth?

Oh, yeah. "Mother".

Don't need a thesaurus for that one.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Shining, Gleaming, Streaming, Flaxen, Waxen

There are many, many important topics that I could tackle in this blog. For instance:

What is the geo-political ramification of the UN brokered cease-fire resolution in Lebanon?

What was the machete-wielding woman doing outside the White House?

Where is Baby Suri?

And because terrorists are trying to blow up planes again, thousands and thousands of dollars of make-up and haircare products, innocent mascaras and powders and mousse, that are at this moment being tossed in trash cans at international airports. And those plastic bags of beauty products are bound for landfills and incinerators. What, dear God, what did those piles of Lancome and Bobbi Brown beauty supplies do to those terrible men? Why must they take out their differences over oil and land on all that beautiful lipstick? Oh, the humanity.

(hey, you deal with stress in your way, I'll deal with it in mine.)

However, I will not be dissecting and analyzing those topics in this blog post. Instead, I will tackle the toughest of all topics.

What to do with the Baby Mullet?

It's a problem that all mothers of young toddlers face. Especially those with daughters. It's certainly an issue here in the Chicky Household. What do you do when your child's hair is growing out, but has not yet taken form as the real, awe-inspiring child hair that women in salons across the world try to emulate? There is the illusion of a hair style, but really it's more akin to Uncle Louie's bad come-over than anything that Jennifer Aniston will be sporting anytime soon.

Recently, I've been kept up at night with thoughts of what to do with Chicky Baby's growing locks. On a good day, and this isn't saying much, she looks a bit like Kate Hudson's son. On a bad day... Well, let's just say that someone wakes up from a nap looking like they've been on a bender.

Not quite sure what I mean by the baby mullet? Let me show you.

Aw yeah... This one's nice. I call this style "The Nolte".

The cute face won't help your cause, kid. It's still a mullet.

Although, it is kind of cute when she's all hot and sweaty and her hair curls in the back. Proving, once again, that this kid was planted in my womb by an alien life force. Neither Mr. C nor I have any curl to our hair.

This is what I usually do to tame the beast(ly hair). The "Pebbles". C'mon, you know you think it's cute...

... And it is cute. Except when my husband tries to do it himself. Then she ends up looking like this. Can you see the hastily gathered mop on top of her head, hanging over the top of the high chair? Yeah. This is what happens when you leave your child with your husband overnight. At least she wasn't in her pajamas.

I was forced to make a decision. I could continue to put clips and rubber bands in her hair - but every time I did I would find that barrette or elastic in her mouth, sooo safe - or I could bite the bullet and get her hair cut. I certainly wasn't going to be the person to take a pair of scissors to my kids head. I loathe cutting her nails, trimming her hair was not an option. So we took her to a professional.

Okay, she wasn't thrilled. Honestly, I think she was more freaked out by the cape than the scissors. Or maybe it was the Dr. Seuss motif. And the loud kids music. And the bad cartoons about a hairdryer named Flyer Joe Dryer.

In less than 5 minutes it was done. I almost balked when the stylist (stylist? Can you call them stylists?) said that from the sound of what I was describing to her I wanted the "Pixie cut" for my kid. Hmmm, when I think Pixie I think of this. I knew it wasn't going to be like this. I mean I wish my 15 month old could be so cool. But it came out like this...

It's hard to tell from that picture, what with the tears and everything...

But it came out like this. How cute is that? So it's a bit pixie-ish. But after $18 (including tip) that though I can't say was money well spent, at least there's no more mullet.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Eau de creepy

I've hit a dry spell in the blog fodder department recently. It's summer, blah, blah, blah-dee, blah. I was thinking of writing a light-hearted open letter to all OB-Gyn's, after my appointment yesterday, about exam etiquette and how I thought it was bad form to ask the $64,000 second baby question while tickling the cervix of their patient lying prone on the exam table. I was even going to throw in a few jokes:

Well, doc, you seem to have taken up residence in there already. Don't think there would be much room for you and a fetus. But I suppose you could knock out a wall or two to make some more space. Har, har, har.

Hey, doc, while you're in there could you slap a coat of paint on the walls? Things could really use some freshening up. Ba-da-bum.

I decided that you've all been through it (except you guys, and in your case sorry about the va-jay-jay talk) and don't need to be reminded of all the mirth and merriment that is the annual gynecologist visit. It's your loss, really.

So just as I was about to slam my foot in the door of my car just so I would have something to write about (complete with pictures! Of my purple-y black foot! WhooHoo!), the fodder found me. In the aisles of Target, to be exact. While perusing the selection of linens at the red-bulleted yuppy Mecca for suburbanites he approached me...

The Inappropriate Creepy Guy.

I could smell him before I could see him. While checking out the 220-count cotton sheets (which probably won't fit my freakishly large mattress, btw) I was struck, literally knocked back, by the heavy scent of Polo. I didn't even know Ralph Lauren still selling that stuff. I'm making a law right now that all bottles of Polo should be immediately incinerated. Or, better yet, dumped in a large hole and buried. Please don't call Greenpeace, they won't understand that we'll be doing the world a favor. I don't trust anyone who bathes in that shit.

I thought that maybe the olfactory offender was long gone, though his scent lingered, so I stepped a few feet away from Chicky Baby who was sitting in the cart trying her damnedest to gnaw her way through the top of a container of Gerber Sweet Potato Puffs. Then, from out of nowhere, came this voice that immediately made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.

"Oooh, hooow oold is sshheee?"

I whipped my head around to see a man in his late 40's (I'm guessing), dressed in a conservative blue dress shirt and trailing that nasty scent, coming at my child. I should pause here to mention that people, men and women, tend to come from far and wide to talk to my daughter. It's not a shock that someone would ask me questions about her. Now, I'm not implying that she's the most beautiful baby ever to shoot out of a woman's midlands - but, let's face it, she is damn cute - it's just that she has this was of engaging strangers in a way that makes them powerless in her gaze. She is the nymph and they are the ship. Or is it, her face is the siren song, she is the rock and they are the boat? Whatever. Chicky has this way of making eye contact and maintaining it for a few seconds before letting her mouth slowly creep up at the sides to reveal her killer smile. Then, when the person is a stammering, wilty mess, she starts to act coy and shy, tilting her head to the side just so and then facing them again with a big smile and batting eyelashes. I'm doomed when she becomes a teenager.

But this man never got a glance from my child. Her back was to the direction from whence he came and, like I mentioned before, she was trying to eat her way through that can of baby heroin.

"How ooooollldddd iiiiissss ssshhheeeee?" he repeated.

"Uh, um..."

I froze. Should I start to share important fact about my child with this stranger? What's next? Height, weight, social security number? He had one of those institutional haircuts, cut short and cemented to his head and he was getting closer to the cart. I was a good four feet away, getting whoozy from the cheap cologne he was wearing. Was this his plan? Forget the ammonia on the rag bit, just drench yourself in that stuff and let the women pass out on their own. Instinctively I jumped for the cart and yanked it to me with such force Chicky Baby dropped the container of puffs.

"Um, she's 15 months."

"Oooh, I haaavvve a twooo and a haaaalf year old at hoooome." Where? Locked in a secret cubby hole in your basement? I swear I saw him licking his lips.

Because she had dropped her sugar fix on the floor, Chicky started to whine. Loudly. And then, showing off her new toddler attitude, she started screeching. I was torn. Do I look away and grab the container to get her to stop screaming and risk Creepy Guy snatching my child away or let someone call DSS because some crazy woman was clearly beating her child? I had visions of our own Massachusetts version of Jame "Buffalo Bill" Gumb, stealing children and using their skin to make fine handbags. It puts the pacifier in the basket or else it gets the hose again...

As luck would have it I didn't have to choose between the Department of Social Services and becoming the Lifetime movie of the week. Creepy Guy took one look at my daughter's red face and the steam that was coming from her ears and slinked, yes slinked, away towards the exit without another word. I think that was the only time that I ever hugged my child for having a tantrum in public.

Thinking back on it I'm sure he was a very nice man with a young child at home that just wanted to make idle conversation with a stranger in the aisles of a department store while suffocating that stranger with the power of their cologne and mentally sizing up their child for his new wallet. But the next time you're in a department store and the scent of Polo wafts towards you, you'll think twice about letting your child out of arm's reach. You can thank me later.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Life in a Northern Town

It has happened almost every year for nearly a decade.

It starts in March. Those first tentative steps towards removing a layer here, wearing something slightly more revealing there. Uh uuh. Not so fast. There is work yet to be done. If I start now I'll be more than ready. But, oh, there's more time. Plenty of time.

April is fast on March's boot-clad heels and there is more pressure, so much pressure from the catalogues to the television shows. Hurry, hurry, hurry. Why haven't you started yet? Get moving. Soon, I say, soon. There's more time. Not as much as if it were still March, but there is time. There's still lots more time.

Before I realize it May has shown up and with it the first few days without camouflage. Why didn't I start sooner? I curse myself in the dressing room. Poke. Jiggle. Pinch. I'll leave here and get started right away. But life gets in the way. There are things to be done. And I'm tired. I'm too busy and too tired. Tomorrow. Yes, tomorrow. I'll start tomorrow. There's still a bit more time.

Then it's June and there's no excuse. No more excuses. Hurry. Now. I give it a shot but it's not so easy and every year it gets more difficult. I get frustrated. Maybe no one will notice. I notice. I camouflage. There's very little time until...

July. July?? When did it get to be July? Now it's too hot and I'm too busy and there are cook-outs to attend. Barbecues with potato salad and brownies. Besides, a tan makes everything look better. I tan while no one else is around.

It's now August. What's the point? There's only a couple more weeks left. There's always next year. Yes, next year I'll start earlier. Start now? No. Pass me another brownie. Another plate of pasta salad. There's lots of time. Plenty of time...

Thursday, August 03, 2006

I'm melting... melting... melting...

Sure, it's hot enough outside to fry an egg on the sidewalk, but is the asphalt sizzling enough to fry up some nice, crispy bacon to go with it? Probably, it was 105 degrees yesterday, after all(and with the heat index it was 115! Whoopee!). Today is the last day of this horrible, debilitating heat (so they say) and I'm really hoping that the cooler temperatures will bring some relief to my melted brain. I'm going to take a cue from Blog Antagonist and write for the sake of writing and hope that this loose train of thought will help me put my Humpty Dumpty brain back together again. So, I give you...

Thoughts that don't deserve their own post but deserve to be mentioned:
(catchy title, no?)

- The other day while rug shopping with Mr. C and Chicky Baby we ran into another couple with a toddler in the rug department.

(I have to stop here for a moment. Is there anything more boring and yet frighteningly daunting than rug shopping? How do I know which of the wool, oriental-knockoffs is going to match best with dog hair? I wonder if this store would let me bring in my yellow lab and have him rub his ass all over the area rugs to see which goes better with fur because that's what it's going to look like when I have it in my home for 15 minutes.)

Back to the couple and their son. This actually ties in quite nicely with the above dog problem because the boy was, um... leashed. I immediately thought of Kristen's posts (sorry, couldn't find the exact ones) about toddler harnesses, but I had never seen one used in real life. I tried to act as nonchalant as possible and ignore the fact that the child was tethered - to each his own, right? - and I thought I did a good job of paying attention to the boy and not the restraint, though my eyes may have wandered for a split second (It's like the forest for the trees scenario. Can you see the child for the leash?), but his father was quick to point out, apologetically I thought, that without the harness his child would never be permitted to walk through the doors of this store until he was 23. Again, it's his kid, as long as the little one didn't have a shock collar on it's none of my business. The poor guy and, a minute later, his wife were so quick to address the reason why their son had to be leashed that I wondered how many comments they got on the thing. I have to say I felt bad for the couple. And I never got a chance to say anything more than "Hi, little man. Aren't you cute." before they were singing the praises of the toddler harness. I had to stifle the urge to address the kid's crazy pulling on the leash by offering some training methods and urging them to use a clicker and bits of hot dog and cheese are rewards. Perhaps I should have given them my business card.

We left the rug department very soon after. Not because of the couple but because we had found a rug that went well with yellow dog and cat hair but would have clashed with the fur of our black lab. Whoever said black goes with everything apparently didn't have pets.

- Remember in this post how I mentioned that by being home and upsetting my routine my husband was driving me crazy? He went back to work on Tuesday. Now I miss him horribly. And even though it's crammed securely in my mouth, my foot is not that tasty.

- We had some pretty scary looking clouds around here yesterday afternoon right before a storm passed through. It's not unheard of to have small tornadoes in this part of the country every one in a while, but they're rare. I have to say that it was a little frightening. Sure, we have some shitty weather around these parts, but we don't have relocate-your-house weather. A couple of years ago I would have found it fascinating, but now that I have a kid and four pets to provide care and shelter for I spent about an hour running between the large window in our dining room and the local weather alerts on the television. I think I can safely say that we won't be moving to Oklahoma anytime soon.

- I think I may be the only person in North America who doesn't like melons of any kind. The smell of watermelon makes my stomach curdle and I just don't understand the appeal of cantaloupe and honeydew. Every summer my husband makes some smart ass comment about this in mixed company. Inevitably, at some picnic or barbecue, I'm sitting there with a plate of fruit salad that I picked the grapes and pineapple out of and left the remains of the melon which I later try to pawn off on someone. Am I really the only one who does this? I'm reaching out here. I'm thinking of starting a support group but I need others to join. I'm thinking about calling it 'Mothers Against All melons' or 'MA'AM' for short. Who's with me?