Saturday, August 28, 2010

Stealth Jew does not approve

Some almost ten years ago, when I was in college (yes I'm old shaddup), the big thing in online Christian circles was a type of Amish fetishism. There were even a bunch of novels, Christian lit, published about Amish situations. A whole bunch of blogs appeared about being "plain" and "plain-living."

Fine, some Christians like Amish people. So what, Stealth Jew? Can we go back to talking about how you screwed up your kids this year?

I'm going somewhere with this.

Now the trend is Jewish fetishism. Everyone and his uncle is eating challah, wearing tzitzit, and blowing shofars.

It's Jews for Jesus writ large.

Does Jews for Jesus still exist?

Stealth Jew in principle supports the right of all people to practice their wacky religion in any wacky way they want, as her own practice involves wearing a wig over perfectly good hair, and thus she lives in the proverbial glass house. But in practice I have a powerful negative reaction to the, what's the lefty term, "cultural appropriation" of Jewish traditions by Christians. Those are ours. There are a lot fewer of us than there are of them, and I don't want to be drowned out. In addition, this kind of cultural soup has been used to aggressively seek Jews for conversion.

Plus it's a theological mess, profoundly un-Jewish, un-Hebrew. Judaism is not about you, a Bible, and a high-speed connection. It is by its nature experienced in community. Not a virtual community. A real community, one where people show up unannounced and observe what a mess your house is. One where people are up in your business all the time and you're limited in what you can do by what people will think. Further, Judaism involves submission to an authority. Everyone is to make himself a rabbi (that doesn't mean 'become a rabbi'; it means to find one).

I hope they all move on to something new soon. How about Catholicism? I think rosaries are pretty nifty.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

The Second Coming

Munchkin wanders out to sea. Yesterday, her mother wanted to wander out to sea and drown herself.

This is going to require a little backstory, but it will be worth it.

My mother has a serious spinal injury that has deteriorated over the years. Long story short, she has rather fewer vertebrae now than she once did. This injury requires her to be on some serious and controlled medication. My mother takes the type of medication that periodically becomes the subject of an MSNBC documentary called PERCOBENZOMETHADOT: Scourge of America's Small Towns. It is really just a fancy version of morphine. The morphine is released gradually over the course of 12 hours. Regular morphine must be taken every four hours. This requires the injured person to develop a baby-minding sleep pattern, waking at least once during the night to 'dose up,' a further waking in the morning feeling terrible. So percobenzomethadot is well worth the trouble, and I salute the big pharma giant who came up with it.

The problem is that if you are up to no good, you can crush your percobenzomethadot. Then you get all that lovely morphine at once. This is not the idea. Apparently it makes people much happier than doctor-prescribed medication ought to make them. Of course, people with chronic pain are unlikely to use their percobenzomethadot this way, because it rather defeats the purpose, now doesn't it?

In order to prevent my mother from misusing her percobenzomethadot, my mother, like all people taking it, must receive regular scripts. No refills allowed. The doctor must see her in person to give her the more complicated prescription. Then that prescription must be called in to the pharmacy days in advance of when it is to be filled, as the pharmacy keeps a very limited stock on-site, as they do not want to be hell up. But she can't wait too long, because the super special prescription expires in seven days.

Also, people taking percobenzomethadot for their disintegrating spine are not encouraged to operate motor vehicles while under the influence. So mum needs a ride.

During the work day, because that's when the doctor works.

Since my brother is currently gainfully employed, I and the three woodland creatures bundled into the car to take my mother on this monthly errand.

We handled the doctor's appointment with aplomb.

At the pharmacy, things fell apart.

Munchkin wanted to ride in the cart. I had let her ride in the cart at the grocery store this morning. This is because the grocery store carts are big proper carts, and the pharmacy carts are little pretend carts, the sort found at liquor stores. They could not hold a four-year-old.

She started to whine and melt down.

I told her to stop. She didn't. I took her out front, leaving my mother with Genome (Firefly was strapped to me). Out front of the store she proceeded to shriek as loudly as she could and make a variety of interesting and dramatic gestures. She was attempting to communicate that I was the worst mother in the entire world.

Need I mention that there was regular foot traffic to shoot me disapproving looks? We were also right in front of a homeless man selling the homeless periodical.

After a few minutes of this I realised it was not going to taper out on its own.

So I smacked her butt, and told her if she shrieked again I'd smack her again. She shrieked again. I smacked her again. She stopped, opting instead for soft-ish weeping on a bench.

Now I had _really_ gotten some horrible looks.

I used to read childfree groups sometimes. One of their tropes was that parents think that they are entitled to be treated better than the disabled. A surprisingly high number of the childfree identify as disabled in some way.

They are wrong. Being four is a terrible, terrible disability. If an adult acted this way, we'd either sue him, or commit him.

I think that Munchkin committed at least two torts against me, including the intentional infliction of emotional distress.

When the crying was more or less under control, I dragged Munchkin back to locate my mother. The prescription was not filled, running 30 minutes late at this time. She went back to the pharmacist and stressed the important of having it right now, for the well-being of everyone in the store. He filled it. We all went back to the car. I realised that I had left some vital object upstairs. Went upstairs. Genome sees me walking away and starts to cry. Found item. Went downstairs. Leaned against car. Cried. Drove mother home. Called husband. Cried again.

My mother points out that no one took down her license plate number, and it's unlikely anyone called CPS because they had no way of identifying me.

"Hi, child protection? There's this woman in black . . . yeah . . . looks about ten days dead, to be honest."

But if I disappear, you'll know where I've gone

Sunday, August 22, 2010

He's cute when he's sleeping.

Right before Shabbas this week, I did the ridiculous. I went to sit down with the baby. My husband had to run out and do a work errand. Everything was ready. All that was necessary was for Genome to not destroy anything for a 25 minute period.

We explained this clearly to Genome.

Some ten minutes later I heard a crash, and Munchkin's dulcet tones: "you weren't suppossa do that!!"

Genome had found and open a package of miniature Israeli croutons. If you don't know these, they're about a half cm square, hard as rock, and neon yellow. They are said to be some sort of condiment. I have my doubts. My husband likes them. My son thought that my house had too few of them.

Immediately the two older children began crushing the croutons into the floor, the carpet, the couch, and so on. Genome was also eating the occasional crouton off of the floor.

So what if it's twenty minutes to Shabbas? I maintain few standards, but one is that crunching beneath my feet should not be an indoor phenomenon.

As I vacuumed, I had a problem. Munchkin wanted to help. So she ran in front of the vacuum. Genome did not want to help. So he took pieces of our vacuum (it's one of those space age transformer models in neon green and electric blue) to use as weapons.

Then Munchkin fed one of my slings into the vacuum. I smelled smoke.

Then everyone got sent to his or her room with strict instructions that mummy _bites_.

Missives from my increasingly strange oldest child:

"I was having fun at shul, but then I got tired, and so I ate my shirt." (She had indeed been chewing at her shirt. I don't know if she digested any of it.)

In response to the question, "Why did you do that?"
"Because . . . because . . . because I don't know why because!"

Friday, August 20, 2010


My little boy is turning into a bigger boy. Today he told me "mummy doesn't love me anymore" for the very first time. Apparently I don't love him because I made him change clothes. He is following closely in the steps of his older sister, who told me that I didn't love her approximately five times a day for what seemed like an entire year of her life.

It's so exciting when a child enters a new stage.

He's not very good at the entire hysterical breakdown business though. He kept trying to giggle while he said it, and he had forgotten the entire incident within sixty seconds. His sister had much more staying power. Now that girl could really throw a tantrum. Still can.

I asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up. She said either a butterfly, or an astronaut. A friend said that those are connected because both involve flying.

I think they are both implausible. I heard on the radio that President Obama intends to phase out manned missions in NASA. I didn't say that to my four-year-old; don't worry. Cross that bridge when we come to it.

Firefly is doing a lot better and crying a lot less BH.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Baby Book

Stealth Jew hates Dr. Sears. Dr. Sears answers questions at Ask Dr. Sears.

Actually, I hate a lot of those people: Penelope Leach, whomever or whatever wrote What to Expect When . . . , Brazelton.

But I particularly hate Dr. Sears. And I particularly hate him today, after Firefly has been crying without stop for four days. Because today I had occasion to read his advice on COPING WITH COLIC. I mentioned Firefly has a touch of colic, yes?

First, "You try to cuddle, but baby stiffens in protest. You try to nurse, but baby arches and pulls away. You rock, sing, and ride. The soothing techniques that worked yesterday aren't working today. And inside your head the familiar refrain, "What's wrong with my baby? What's wrong with me?" plays over and over again."

Dr. Sears, nothing is playing in my head. IF anything is playing in my head, I can't hear it. My baby is screaming too loud. On the odd occasions that I can pawn him off on someone else to scream at, what do I hear in my head? Ringing. I have always had tinnitus, but I think Firefly is making it worse.

"When an adult hurts, the doctor and patient do some detective work to track down the cause of the pain, so they can fix it." Well, sometimes. But sometimes they just administer something for the pain. Do they know what causes fibromyalgia? Can they 'fix' the pain after an operation? Maybe what my baby needs is morphine. Why can't my baby have morphine? If it's unsafe for him, give it to me.

The problem with the epidural is that they took it away and made me keep the baby.

"By viewing your baby as "hurting" instead of "crying," you're more likely to be empathetic, like you would a baby who was hurting because of an ear infection, rather than viewing crying as an annoying tool babies use to manipulate their parents into holding them a lot" Dr. Sears, we passed empathy so long ago. The only way I'd empathise with Firefly mid-scream-fest is if he were making another little firefly and birthing it into his diaper. Crying for 48 hours is more than annoying. It is a form of torture. My baby is torturing me.

"Carrie, a mother in our practice, had a colicky baby who was content as long as she was in a sling. But Carrie had to return to work when her baby was six-weeks-old. I wrote the following "prescription" to give to her daycare provider: "To keep Tiffany content, wear her in a sling at least three hours a day."" That's an awesome idea. Except that Firefly is worn in a sling, well, all the time. Because he cries all the time.

The other day I had a migraine. I was lying on the bed with a pillow over an ice pack over my head. Firefly was next to me, screaming. Round about four a.m., I was so tired that I swaddled him, put him in his bassinet, and just left. I couldn't do any more. I went into the other room, and over his crying, I fell asleep.

I don't know how long he was there. My husband woke up and held him for awhile, and brought him to me to nurse at around 5:30 a.m.

When I started thinking of Firefly and me as a tragic dyad, conjoined twins who hate each other, I realised it was time to visit grandma.

He really likes his grandmother.

I believe in the sun when it's not shining, right?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stealth Jew can paint by numbers

This week we are at war with the wood paneling. It turns out that I was right and husband was wrong: we have actual wall back there. Granted, it is plaster wall that is older than the two of us put together. But it's in reasonably good condition (a little patching and painting) and, more important, not wood paneling.

In keeping with their commitment to dated and questionable aesthetics in each and every home decoration decision (yes, I recognise that they may not have been dated at the time, but it wasn't great foresight), the walls behind the wood paneling are painted mauve and mint green.

Let that sink in.

For imagination's sake, the mauve of the wall is approximately the same colour painted on Munchkin's face, above.

I am using this opportunity to throw things out. I use every opportunity to toss things. I am the only natural predator of stuffed animals, plastic toys, and mailings found in our household environment. If they overcome me, you will see the remainder of my family on some future episode of Hoarders.

I will represent for you a conversation my husband and I have more or less weekly:
Husband (tensely): Sweetheart, have you seen the Passover dishes?
Stealth Jew: Oh yes. I gave them away.
Husband: Why did you do that?
Stealth Jew: Well we haven't used them in six months. I figured we couldn't possibly need them that much.
Husband: . . .
Stealth Jew: I don't know what you're so upset about. You'd think you want to live in clutter.
Husband: . . .

In my defense, this is the man who kept an unopened package of VHS tapes through four moves because they were in perfect condition. Also, a television aerial. Also, a garden gnome. And he still has the garden gnome; I saw it in his study.

ETA: My husband correct me: it is not a garden gnome but rather a "squeaky elf."

Thursday, August 5, 2010


These are two stone rabbits. They come from my mother's garden. Munchkin has always liked them. Really, really liked them. First she would sit with them and pet them. then they started to come into her playhouse for tea. Eventually the rabbits moved inside, and lately, they've been appearing in various locations around my mother's home.

Most alarming was when she woke up to two rabbits on her bedside table.

Strange child. Maybe they're just following her.

Speaking of Munchkin, would someone tell me what she has against the number five? Never have I seen a child have such a vendetta against an innocuous number. We must have spent half an hour before I finally had her convinced to stop counting six fingers on each hand -- and that was only with copious bribing.

The number five is very important information. There's just no workaround for five.

I said that to a rather, well, computer geeky friend of the family. He suggested teaching her to count in base two. This is not helpful.

I can count to 1023 with my fingers. I used to do this in law school during the more boring classes. You should learn to do it too.

Admit it. You read here for all of the actionable information.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Amusing Ourselves to Death

Over the weekend, we had a family outing to an amusement park way, way out in the burbs. Possibly past the burbs. We were going to one of those family attractions/amusement parks, but "amusement park" might be an overstatement. Six Flags this ain't. It advertised itself as being the "only X in North America," where "X" is a small category for a reason -- say, "the only theme park in North America devoted entirely to spam," or "the largest corn museum west of the Rockies."

In this case there was a dinosaur theme.

Why, you may ask, why did we troop three children 90 minutes out of town to take them to what I surmise is the most lackluster theme park extant in the province? It's my husband's fault. He's powerfully attached to anything that reminds him of his childhood, and he loves for his children to participate in the same activities. He is aided in this by our powerfully provincial natures. We both live in the same city we grew up in. We can walk to our parents' house (note: not the same parents! That would be a differently themed blog. His children attend the same synagogue that he attended. And they haven't redecorated the sanctuary. It's very seventies.

Anyhow, the kids had a fantastic time. It was exactly their speed. They have no ear for tacky, and so they loved the dance party with Teenagers in Mascot Costumes. Apparently it was a "Justin Bieber Dance Party." Until last month, I did not know who that was either. My mother told me. I am less cool than my mother.

Actually, that's not new. My mother's always been pretty cool.

I took my big camera to the amusement park, in order to better capture the experience for your vicarious amusement. I fit right in with the fathers. My husband and I seem to have reversed the usual pattern as to who actually enjoys the experience, and who compulsively records it with twenty pounds of recording equipment.

Firefly was on my back the whole time, so he didn't get into any pictures. If I ever look back on photos of the event, I'll probably wonder -- wait -- was Firefly born yet then?

Monday, August 2, 2010

Not Enough IKEA

We were on a family outing that required about 90 minutes of driving each way. Because we are deeply, deeply citified people, who both grew up close to downtown, we rarely go out to the suburbs.

On the way back home, Firefly began screaming. This is a trope of his.

Side note: it amazes me that it is illegal to drive while talking on the hand-held cell phone, but legal to drive with children. A few months ago I was driving with a newborn Firefly, Genome, and Munchkin. All of a sudden Genome, a bit under two, started yelling "help! HELP!" I pulled over. He was . . . fine. I still don't know what he had been upset about.

I am a neurotic person. I am a nervous driver. I do not need Munchkin instructing me how to drive, Firefly shrieking, and Genome yelling "HELP!"

End of diversionary side note. So we pull over into the suburban IKEA. And this IKEA is huge. It is three times as large as our local IKEA. We stopped in the parking lot. We were in "Q." That is how large this IKEA was.

What's in it? I have never said, when shopping at IKEA, gee, there's just not enough IKEA here. There should be three times as much IKEA. No. It seems, in fact, much larger than it needs to be. The entire display section could go. So could the apparently resident bands of slow-moving people traveling with tantruming children.

Anyway, we pulled over and I fed Firefly, but he started screaming again less than five minutes later.