Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don't "Hon" me, Hon.

If you're significantly younger than me you have no business calling me "Hon".

Yeah sure, you're saying it over an intercom in the drive-thru of a Dunkin' Donuts and I am quite youthful (sounding. Some might describe me as "Juvenile", but not to my face), but after I've visited your establishment for my morning joe for the gazillionth time and we've exchanged pleasantries face to face, you can probably deduce by now that I was in high school when your mom and dad were doing the forbidden dance between the sheets (or in the back of a Ford Escort. Hey I don't judge).

Come talk to me when the hair on your head is a little more gray and the hair on your chin is a little more black. Bonus points if your girlie bits are stretched from the beauty and wonder of childbirth. Then I might even let you call me "Darling".

Friday, June 26, 2009

It's a really good thing my oven is electric...

... Because my head would be stuck in it right now.

It's been raining for weeks. WEEKS. The kids are going crazy, I'm going crazy. Everything is wet and don't even get me started on my frizzy hair. It's a really good thing I look decent in baseball caps, that's all I'm saying.

I wouldn't actually hurt someone, but if the sun doesn't come out soon I may know of someone, a certain stir crazy housewife for instance, who would willingly make a hit on someone if you need it. I wouldn't even need to get paid.

I mean, this person wouldn't need to get paid. Ahem.

Monday, June 22, 2009

New technology and the right to privacy - No, you do not have the right to take my kid's picture

Yesterday was one of those rare days when I could run to Trader Joe's (and I use the term "run" very loosely since I might have broken my baby toe the day before) with only CC in tow, leaving Chicky behind to have a Father's Day cartoon-fest at home with her dad.

Going to the supermarket with two kids is a drag. Going to the supermarket with only one kid seems like a vacation in comparison. So since I hadn't made it to the store the day before (again, broken toe), Sunday was my day to market shop to gather all necessary food and sundries necessary to keep our family of four alive and not killing each other ("Moooom, Daddy at the rest of the cereal and now I have noooone."). Not to mention I needed the makings for that evenings Father's Day feast of goodness. Or as I like to call it, Chicken Piccata.

CC, despite having her one thousandth and one head cold of the year, was in good spirits and since I could brace myself on the shopping cart, taking some weight off of my now blackened toe, I was too. So as we walked down the narrow aisles I sang songs and she clapped and made faces. We were, in a word, pretty freaking adorable to watch. No really. No extreme maternal bias at all.

As I oogled the many premade and frozen culinary delights TJ's has to offer, a young woman walked up to us and remarked on whatever silly face CC was making at the moment. Since I was deciding between spanakopita and the chipotle chicken skewers, I wasn't really paying close attention.

(Note to self: no more grocery shopping while hungry. Or else you will yet again come home with two different flavors of ice cream and a large box of Asian barbecue beef instead of the broccoli and apples you went there for. Also, you won't be watching closely when strange people approach your very cute and very innocent baby. But I digress.)

The woman then proceeded to take out her camera phone to take a picture of my child.

Without my permission.

But before I could say, Hold on there, Snappy McSnapperson, CC stopped making whatever picture-worthy face that was there a minute before and instead stared at this strange person with a face I can only assume looked exactly like mine at that moment - a combination ofslack-jawed confusion and slight repulsion at this woman, who really couldn't have been any more than 25 years old, who was about to take an unauthorized picture of an unknown child.

The one thing that crossed my mind as I mumbled something about, Oops, oh well, the face is gone so we're going to move along now - after imagining myself punching her in the face - was, Wow, the BALLS on that woman. The second thought - after imagining myself making her eat her camera phone - was that she was probably a blogger.

I'm only partly kidding about that.

Maybe this is hypocritical of me since I do share my children's photos on the internet with, you know, strangers and, OMG, maybe there's a pedophile out there who stumbled across my blog and found the pictures of my child making dead fish faces and now he's COMING TO GET US...


... But I don't believe that some random person who hasn't even been properly introduced to me should whip out a camera and start taking pictures while we're in the frozen foods section of the supermarket.

This is my website so I decide what goes on it. I decide what pictures I want to share with the world. For the love of Pete, even at Chicky's preschool we were asked to sign a waiver authorizing the use of our children's likeness on their website and I've pledged my undying love for those people.

Of course, I have no idea what that young woman was going to do with the picture after she took it. Show it to her roommate maybe? Her mom? Her gynecologist? I don't know. Chances are, it would have been stored in her phone until the following weekend when drunken naked pictures needed to be taken at the raging party at her sister's boyfriend's apartment and then it would have been deleted to make more room. Because her best friend Bob passed out and drooling on the bathroom floor takes precendence, you know?

Whatever she was or wasn't going to do with it, the bottom line (or maybe I shold say, point 1) is this: Do our children have a right to privacy even when their parents are plastering their image all over the internet?

I say yes. But does that hold any water from a legal standpoint?

Like I said, I have no idea what the woman... okay, girl. What the girl was going to do with this picture. Probably nothing. What bothered me the most was that she was taking a picture of a minor child without express permission of the child's parent who just happened to be standing right there. What she was going to do with the photograph after the fact was anybody's guess.

I was a Communications major in college. I graduated with a degree in Broadcast Communications with a minor in journalism so I know the rights a private citizen has in public vs. private spaces in regard to print and broadcast. What I don't know, and maybe someone can clue me in, is what happens in this digital age of blogs and personal websites and social networking sites to that private citizen's rights (especially a private citizen who is a minor) when anyone with the most basic technology can snap a picture or take a video and make it available to anyone with a computer.

One who appropriates to his own use or benefit the name or likeness of another is subject to liability to the other for invasion of privacy.

Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 652C

But believe it or not, the main point of this post (Point 2) is not to bring light to the legalities of online media, whether it be personal or professional, but to ask this question:

Have we gotten a little snap happy now that we have digital cameras, camera phones, and video cameras that can be stored in your back pocket? Have we as a race of people lost our good sense and grasp of basic manners (if we had them at all) in regard to taking pictures of people, minor or not, and putting them on public websites or simply sharing them with friends and strangers?

How many times have you seen something that an unknown person was doing that struck you as funny and you took our your iPhone to take a picture? A picture that you eventually uploaded to Twitter or some other site? Did you take a picture that showed the person's face? Did you show them in a comprimising light?

How far is too far?

Before I'm seen as preachy I will tell you that I have taken pictures like that before. While getting a pedicure, for instance, I joked on Twitter that the woman painting my toes had an impressive rack. I then proceeded to take her picture without her knowing it, thinking maybe I would share it via TwitPic or something. Then I deleted it because I came to my senses. And that woman was an adult, not a 12 month old minor child.

CC was not doing anything out of the ordinary and there's a good chance that girl wasn't going to sell my child's likeness for monetary gain but still, it bothered me that she was so bold as to think she could take my child's picture without getting permission. Have we lost our good sense as a society because technology has become so easy? Now that we have access to pretty much everything has our voyeuristic tendencies gone crazy?

I'd like to know what you think.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mean girls and the hurting words

Chicky, CC and I are part of a playgroup that meets once every week. It's one of those groups that are equal parts playtime for the kids and sanity saver for the moms. This week, seeing as we were experiencing one of our only nice days in the past five thousand years (at least), the group decided to have it at a local park.

Fresh air and sunshine, just what everyone needed. Desperately.

In this playgroup there is a for year old boy whom we'll call "B". B. adores Chicky. It's really cute, in a horrifying, this-is-your-future-with-teenage-girls type of way. The two of them, to quote Forrest Gump, are like peas and carrots, and when we take our leave of these get-togethers B is almost always there to give Chicky a huge hug goodbye. Like I said, terrifying and adorable, all at the same time.

When we arrived at the playground this week B was already there and from fifty yards away we could hear him screaming, "Chicky is here! Chicky is here! Hi Chicky!!" To say he's always excited to see her is an understatement.

(Mental note to lock this one away for the next 13 years until he shows up at our door to take Chicky out on a date. Just remember, kid, I know your mom.)

But my child was fickle that day. She didn't want to play with B or any of the other kids in our playgroup. She wanted to play with her new friend, the little girl whom she met on the swings and was instantly captivated by.

(Name: unknown. Because really, why bother with inconsequential details when making new BFFs?)

The two girls ran around the large play space as fast as their little legs could carry them. Which, apparently, was pretty fast seeing as how poor B couldn't quite keep up. It got to the point where, dejected, he ran back to his mom and cried, "Chicky and that girl won't let me play with them. They don't like me."

The look on his tear covered face nearly broke my heart. My kid was causing that pain. Uh uh, this is not working. So I called Chicky over and asked her nicely to include B in their games, to which she replied, "No", and ran off.

I've got so much control over that kid. It's spooky.

But B., not giving up so easily, kept trying. He ran where they ran and sat where they sat. And from the sidelines I cheered him on while his mother and I inwardly wondered if and when we should step in.

What came next was told to me by B.'s mom.

While I busied myself with CC and her mulch-eating obsession, thinking my child was playing so nicely with this new girl she had met, Chicky and her new, unnamed friend were swinging, not allowing B. to take a turn. And as one girl descended from her movable perch toward B. she would chant, "Dumb" while the other swung upward. Then the other girl would swing down and chant, "Dumb", and so forth and so on. "Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Dumb." That's what B. heard.

I watched as B.'s mom stepped in and removed her son from in front of the girls but didn't know the reason. Like I said, I was busy making sure CC didn't get too much fiber from the playground mulch. I was busy chatting with the other moms. I was... Okay, to be truthful, I never thought Chicky would ever say anything like that to another child.

But she did.

Taking her cue from the other girl, she wielded this new word like a weapon. She was drunk off the heady feeling that comes from watching another person react to something you say. I honestly don't think she knew what she was doing but she was enjoying the shock value, not understanding the pain she was causing.

We've had discussions about the word Stupid and why she should never use it in relation to another person, or to ever use it at all really. We've had long talks about why that word is hurtful, the meaning of it, and so far all that work as been successful. She knows not to say it, will correct others when they do and gets upset when she hears it used in a pop song on the radio. But while I was worrying so much about the usage of one word, I forget to mention it's synonyms.

I'm giving myself the ol' pat on the back for my foresight.

In the end, I apologized profusely to B.'s mom for missing it all and she, in turn, was very gracious and understanding. She had removed her son from the two girls and admonished them for the name calling, making the executive decision to not allow the kids to work it out for themselves and seizing the opportunity to teach everyone a valuable lesson. The other girl's mom came over to apologize as well.

In the end, Chicky and B. were friends again, as four year old's are often inclined to be even after hurtful things are said and Chicky's new friend went home, probably never to be seen by us again.

Chicky, on the ride home, was given a stern lecture about hurting words and how they affect others.

And I made a mental note to break out my thesaurus.

CC, however, has not yet made a commitment to stop eating mulch.

One thing at a time.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What I need is a pig's head and a stick

Captain's Log - Day 19:

We have been stranded in the "no school zone" for what seems like forever and yet still days away from any scheduled day camps that will bring necessary relief. The natives are getting restless.

The weather, I'm afraid, has not been cooperating. Dreary, gray skies threatening rain almost every day has forced us to be inside on most days. Four walls are starting to close in on us.

We have watched all our videos, been on multiple playdates, made high calorie treats with much sugar, and endured many tantrums and still, there is nothing to satisfactorily break up the monotony. In the middle of the night I hear sounds of tribal drums and then... Silence. An eerie silence occasionally broken up by sounds of metal on stone. Could it be weapons are being made?

Communication with the outside world is almost totally cut off by small people and their unreasonable demands for food and entertainment. When communication does become available, sheer exhaustion stops me in my tracks. I'm afraid soon I will be completely overwhelmed by their need.

I fear the end is near.

Send gin.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Could be worse. At least I don't worry about her chasing squirrels.

A few weeks before the end of Chicky's preschool year [*moment of silence for my sanity* Amen.] her teachers held their end-of-the-year parent-teacher conferences. Or as I like to call them, Learn What Your Child Is Really Like When You're Not Around To Give Them The Evil Eye.

Like the mid-year conference, Mr. C was not available to attend because of his crazy work schedule. So it was up to me to drag both children into school a little early - something that should never be required of me due to my love of sleep - and to sit in those tiny preschool chairs to face the Inquisition firing squad wonderful, sainted women who are in charge of my child two mornings a week.

While CC crawled around the room finding random toys to put into her mouth and Chicky worked on an art project...

- a feat I should have kissed the teachers' shoes for since I can't get Chicky to focus that long on anything, never mind making macaroni art or whatever it was. I wasn't really paying attention. What was that about my kid having a short attention spa... Ooh, shiny -

...Chicky's teachers told me all about the fantastic things my daughter has done this year - how they love that she always has a smile for everyone and the way she's eager to raise her hand to offer an answer during circle time. How she's always willing to try new things, loves running and jumping around the playground and that she's not only a very gracious playmate, allowing anyone and everyone to join whatever reindeer game she's playing, but if there's nothing going on that tickles her fancy she's just as open to going off on her own and making her own fun by herself.

I think I breathed an audible sigh of relief.

"That's so great to hear because at home she's like my shadow," I told her teachers. "I can't leave the room without her following me and I have to set strict individual play time away from me just so she'll touch the toys she owns."

And at that, I may as well have sprouted a second head, one that burst into the theme from Cats, because that's how her teachers looked at me.

"Really?" One of them asked. "That doesn't even sound like the same girl. She has no problem playing by herself here. She prefers to play with others but we will occasionally find her playing with some toys on her own."

*Head. Desk. Boom. Ow*

I understand that kids act differently when they're away from home. I do, I get that. But just today I quite literally locked Chicky out of the bathroom because I was fed up with being followed. Call me a Bad Mother. Whatever. I had just spent an hour begging her to play with the mounds of toys she owns.

Please, child, give me two seconds to breath. Don't make Mommy grovel.

Chicky is an extremely social kid who needs to with people. Constantly. She's most stimulated and in her element by activities that require two or more people, preferably ones that require physical acts. Which is great. Really. I mean, it could be a lot worse. She could be like me.

(For those of you playing along at home, that would be a person that fears people but loves her couch.)

(People. People who fear people. Are the loneliest people...)

(Whoohoo! Blogher is next month!)

(I think I just threw up in my mouth.)


But a woman has got to have a moment to herself from time to time. So yes, I do require she goes to her playroom alone to at least stare at the toys I have placed there for her enjoyment. I get that she's a social creature and I am only too happy to read books and play games and do puzzles and things like that until playtime is over, or until my legs fall asleep from sitting on the floor. Whichever happens first. But something has got to give.

Hey, you know what? Come to think of it...

Kind, friendly, eager to please, extremely social, very active, intelligent, hates to be without her family. That sounds familiar. Where have I heard that before?

Oh yeah.

Maybe I should have been more clear about who was the kid and who was the dog early on?

Friday, June 05, 2009

I Spy - mornings

I think I've figured out why writer's block is kicking my ass. My life? It is boring, hopelessly mundane and not inter....


Whoops, sorry about that. I fell asleep there.

So instead of fighting it, I'm going to embrace it (Viva la Boring Ass Life!) with a little thing I call "I Spy".

What's that? There's already a game called "I Spy"? I didn't say I was original, I said I was boring. Catch up, will ya?

Every Friday I'll post a picture of something I see, a snippet out of my life. You should do it too. It'll be super duper fun! Really!


Oh don't even pretend you don't like to see into people's lives. I know you look into darkened windows at night while driving through your neighborhood. You probably even sit in your bedroom at night with your camera pointed at your next door neighbor's windows. Or maybe that's just me?

Um, moving on.

The point of the project, lambs, is to make the mundane interesting. Play along. Take a picture of something, anything, that you see and describe it, then leave a comment here with a link to your "I Spy" post. Give us a glimpse of your life. It will be fun. I promise. Pinky swear. At the very least, it will give you an excuse to post something. Some might call it phoning it in, but I call it "desperate times/desperate measures".

So go ahead, grab your camera and take a picture of something. I'll wait.

C'mon, it's not brain surgery. Just take a pictures. Any picture.

Or I could do it for you. I have a long lens. Ahem.


Mornings at Casa de Chicky:

French press, coffee mug, blueberry/lemon muffin I baked yesterday next to used tissues because CC and I are sick. Phlegm and baked goods, two great tastes that go great together.

Twitter open on my laptop. I'm the only one in the world who still uses the actual Twitter platform.

Baby bib, Cheerios, a bowl of fruit.

This is what my mornings look like when we have nothing better to do. Muy exciting, no?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Good times never seemed so good


I blinked and then you were one.

I know it's cliche, I know every parent says it, but where did the past year go? It seems like I just had you but it also seems like you've always been with us. You just have that way about you, I suppose.

There are so many things I want to remember about your first year because you're so utterly enjoyable, but because you're the second child I've really let the ball drop on the whole documenting your first year of life thing. Sorry about that. It's not intentional. Honestly, we've been spending more time living which leaves less time for writing. And it's not like I don't try to take pictures of you, I really do. You just never sit still long enough so I've ended up with two hundred pictures of the back of your head.

But see? Here's a cute picture of you. It was taken before you could crawl away from the crazy lady and her flashy camera-thingy.

And it's not like there haven't been plenty of milestones to record - First crawled: six months. First word: HI! (capital letters, exclamation point), used often and regularly. Number of teeth: sweet Jesus, baby girl, you went into this week with an impressive seven teeth (and I do mean impressive, you could gnaw through the piano leg if I let you) but then this week you cut two molars at the same time. You can slow down because I'm still not sharing my steak with you - because there have been plenty to keep us busy.

Then there are the little things they don't leave spaces for in those books - how you love to dance and sing, how you manage to engage complete strangers in marathon games of peek-a-boo, how you're so very small but incredibly mighty for someone your size.

How you will amuse yourself for hours with nothing but a paper towel roll, a shoebox and an Advil bottle with a quarter in it stopping every once in a while for a quick cuddle or to blow kisses to me across the room.

Or how you love your sister even though she tries her best to make your life unpleasant (And for the record, she loves you too. She just doesn't know it yet).

And how, when frightened or unsure or just in the mood for a little love, you cling to me like a capuchin monkey, fingers holding onto my shirt for dear life while you giggle while I kiss your cheeks, until you feel comfortable enough to literally throw yourself out of my arms at whatever catches your eye.

That's how your first year has been spent, throwing yourself at whatever interests you regardless of consequence. I like that about you.

But the best part about the last year can be summed up by this: When sitting in your high chair you eat your meals with your right foot propped up on the tray. Never the left, always the right. And the first time you noticed it you were all, "Hey, look at That. How did That get there? Wow, I didn't know I had That! That has got to be the coolest thing I've ever seen. Mom, did you see That? Isn't That the best?? I really like That. I think I will sit with That next to me at every meal."

And that is what you did, still do, pretty much every meal for months. Among the things I will miss as you grow older, that is one of the most important. Your ability to find pleasure in the most mundane, the most simple, and the most obvious things we usually miss. I love That about you.

All my love,