Friday, July 30, 2010

Stealth Jew's children have boring names

Genome, who probably has the best of the IRL names

I was a bit nervous about naming my children.

Most names are selected for aesthetic reasons. IYH, my children will be stuck with these names for many years. What kind of aesthetic decisions were you making 20 years ago? Twenty years ago, I was seven. I thought that high fashion included matching pink sweatpants and a Rainbow Brite belt. What about decisions made 30 years ago? We bought our house from people who last redecorated circa 1975. Their vision could be summed up as as, "wood panelling." Everywhere. The basement has wood panelling on the ceiling.

So I dodged the issue. All of my children are named for recently-dead relatives. We didn't even get creative. They all got the exact name, first and middle. This way, their names may be dated, but they are still family-dated. In fact, two of the names are arguably dated already.

Genome, though, dodged a bullet. Had he been a girl, he would have been "Bella." Only when I saw that Isabel/Bella was the number one girls name in his year did I realise that something was up. Gee, I thought, these kids can't all be named for my great-aunt.

Well, no. It actually had to do with a series of novels featuring sparkly vampires. A series of novels I had never heard of at the time Genome was born.

Children have a way of putting you out-of-the-loop.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Stealth Jew Can Get Out of her House

Sooner or later, it comes time to leave our humble little quarters. Generally this is done to procure food, to transport the children to grandma, or to just let the little rotters destroy the great outdoors, rather than my indoors. Remember: if you pee on the grass, that doesn't make extra laundry.

Getting out of the house, though, requires a vast quantity of packed goods. Also, the children have a limited attention span. If it takes too long to get everyone ready, I risk that the first child prepared may have wandered off, taken off her shoes and coat, and become engrossed in some non-portable activity. So how does the lazy, disorganized mummy get out the door?

I always keep my diaper bag packed. I unpacked it to take a photo for you: Firefly sized diapers, fresh underwear for Genome (who is potty training), baby wipes, large wetbag, small ziploc for anything disgusting, extra sleeper for Firefly, extra hat for Firefly, receiving blankets (they are endlessly useful).

The diaper bag goes in the coat closet. Baby carriers hang on the hook by the coats.

Tada! If I only had one child, I could be out the door in five minutes.

Of course, when I only had one child, I didn't know to do helpful things like this. It still took me an hour to get out of the house.

They say that G-d doesn't give you more than you can handle. Whether this is true in my life depends on how you define "handle." Broadly, everyone I am responsible for seems to eat, move their bowels, and approximate a state of hygiene. This is good. But if "handle" implies "handle with grace and dignity," then I definitely flunk.

I didn't quite realise that motherhood would leave me permanently flustered.

No wonder old ladies can seem flighty or batty. The children have been eating my brain. By the time I get to retirement (IYH), there won't be that much of it left.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Destruction Junction

See what's happening in this photo? That's a rough approximation of what Genome does to my house.

On Friday I was making the dough for the challah when I (you can see what's coming) went to the bathroom. Silly mummy! I left two children, Genome and Munchkin, dutifully observing the bread dough going round and round in the mixer. They looked quite charming, actually. A sibling activity. I felt that Maria Montessori or Rudolph Steiner would have approved of my morning activity. All we really needed was something made of felt, perhaps, or bark.

When I returned, my mixer was making the most alarming sound, which I will render as "chunka-ca-chunka-chunk." And it was not going round and round anymore. It was stopped. The gears are now exposed, about half-an-inch worth, between where the dough hook is attached and the body of the mixer.

I can still make it stir as long as I keep pushing up the hook, but this makes baking rather tedious.

I don't know what he or she did. I don't know who did it. They both say nothing happened, but Genome isn't much of a communicator and Munchkin's grip on reality is fanciful.

Husband says he'll take it to get fixed. This person seems to suggest I could do it myself. I'm not very handy though. I'm the type of wife who calls her husband to plunge the toilet. I once, in a moment of panic, asked him to come home from a society meeting and unfold the stroller. By "once," I mean "two weeks ago." My adjustment to a new child is always a bit rocky.

I'm distressed. Even if my mixer is fixable -- it has to be fixable! -- it seems unlikely I'll have it ready for challah this week.

Today I had Genome knead the (non-challah) bread for me. This seems only just, because I'm fairly sure that it was he who worked his magic on my mixer. He did a pretty good job, too.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sisyphus' Baby

As soon as Firefly was born, he needed something to suck on. At first he would only sleep while he was sucking on my finger. If you've had a baby, you may remember that babies prefer to suck on fingers with the fingernail down, towards the tongue. Try this with your hand. It's moderately awkward. Eventually, you might want to get up, use the bathroom, feed yourself, or any of the other myriad activities that is surprisingly difficult to accomplish with one hand in such a position. Also, Firefly would take personal offense to any attempt I made to move. As soon as his father came to visit him, I dropped Firefly into his lap and took off to find a pacifier.

Now the Maternity Hospital does not sell pacifiers, out of some belief that they impede the initiation of breastfeeding. As I already knew from previous experience, initiating breastfeeding is not a problem for me. Weaning is a problem for me. Initiation? Definitely not. So I was quite comfortable giving my child a piece of plastic to suck on, and all the various physical and psychological issues attendant thereto. Nevertheless, because of the Maternity Hospital's position, I couldn't buy one at the gift shop.

No matter! An intrepid aged lady working at the gift shop directed me to the attached Children's Hospital. There, she said, they did stock pacifiers. In fact, pacifiers were often recommended by pediatricians, and so she regularly directed patients to the Children's Hospital to purchase them. Off I went, down the world's most depressing hallway (neonatal intensive care and pediatric cardiac), and into the Children's Hospital giftshop. Not fifteen minutes later, Firefly was sucking on his very own neon green plastic pacifier. It's the very same one you can see in his photo.

As soon as I popped it into his mouth, his entire tense little body relaxed. "You," I told him, "are never allowed to even approach a cigarette." When Freud described the oral fixation, he may have been on to something.

So why Sisyphus' baby? Well, when Firefly drifts to sleep, he relaxes even more. And the pacifier pops out of his mouth. He then realises he's lost his pacifier and begins flailing about, whimpering, and generally working himself into a lather. Unless someone is next to him to replace the pacifier, he will quickly get quite upset. When the pacifier is replaced, he must begin again the process of drifting to sleep. Drift-slip-wake, drift-slip-wake.

It is 12:58 in the morning. We are on cycle number 27 in a row.

Sisyphus' baby.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I sometimes feel as if Munchkin is only a periodic visitor to our world, drifting in and out from wherever she actually resides. Nonetheless, there are issues on which she is absolutely firm. She is adamant that we must all Follow the Rules, and failure to do so upsets her.

I was driving home with Munchkin, Genome and Firefly when I made a right turn. As I turned, she began to cry. I was confused. Did I jerk her? Did Genome throw something? Anything was possible.

But no. She was crying because "you're not supposed to go on a red light!"

I will interject at this moment that it is impossible to explain nuances of context in driving to a four-year-old. We quickly reached an impasse. I maintained that it is indeed legal to turn right on a red light in most places in North America, including in our city. She maintained that it is always wrong to proceed on a red light. We finally settled on "don't tell mummy how to drive," which she could agree on, and "mummy knows how to drive," which I suspect she still doubts. But she doesn't pop up saying so, and that's good enough for me. As my own mother used to say: think what you want, but do as I say.

If you're wondering, the photograph is of Munchkin tossing water into the wading pool near our house.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Stealth Jew needs an imaginary friend

Recently a friend of mine has taken her child to the doctor. He appears to be suffering from hallucinations. This is obviously very serious and very sad, and I hope he can be helped. That said, the whole incident has concerned me somewhat, as I realised that if Munchkin hallucinated I would have absolutely no idea.

You see, Munchkin's barrier between fantasy and reality seems permeable at the best of times. When I was pregnant with Firefly, she was convinced for months that she, too, was pregnant. With a baby panda. A girl panda. She laid out an outfit for the girl panda, and I was starting to get concerned that when said panda failed to materialise, she would be worried or terribly disappointed. You see how the unreality of a four-year-old has a way of sucking me in.

Someone suggested that perhaps she is just creative. This is possible. But she has an imaginary friend named "Imaginary," which seems rather literal.

Yesterday Munchkin informed me that I was going to have a girl baby next (she tries to slip this in at various intervals, as she is a believer in the power of suggestion and positive thinking). I said something about being helpless against the force of her preference. She said, "yes, forest. The baby girl is in the forest."
"In the forest?"
"Yes, in the forest. Waiting for G-d to put her in your tummy. But she's not afraid."

All right then.

Little does Munchkin know that there's a whole world of imaginary friends out here on the internet. I could use one today, because Firefly has colic. Colic can bite me. In fact, Firefly can bite me, too, if only he'll stop crying while he does it.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

StealthJew's Adventures in WallyWorld

Three children is too many to take to Walmart. In fact, three children is exactly three too many to take to Walmart. Isn't that a coincidence?

Children are ill-suited to big box shopping:
- Four-year-olds have bladders the size of pins;
- Two-year-olds find everything endlessly fascinating, especially that which is located in the opposite direction from the direction in which mummy is currently proceeding; and,
- Two-month-olds eat/sleep/poo on a cycle that automatically resets every twenty minutes.

It was a mistake.

I tried to explain to the children that there comes a time in every woman's life when she must purchase men's athletic socks in bulk quantities. She must do this because she is too lazy to match socks but too cheap to pay retail for 20 pairs in one go.

This is not the first time that I have laid down my mental health on the altar of economy.

When did I realise I had made a mistake? I realised it when two-year-old came down the aisle with a toy wheelbarrow full of Nair.


I love my two-year-old. Who else would choose Walmart as the place to say, "you know mom, I really think you need to do something about your body hair. Such as bathe in a cut-rate price wading pool filled with depilitory cream."

My husband asked, is it always like this?

Of course not. Usually, the four-year-old has an adult-sized bladder. The newborn endures Ghandi-like fasts (with less urine consumption). The two-year-old recognises that other Walmart shoppers may wish to tame their own bikini lines, and purloins the Nair in moderation.

Of course it's always like this. Given that no one cried and no one disobeyed (even when told to abandon a wheelbarrow full of Nair), this was pretty good.