Monday, October 25, 2010

Pirates of Penzance

Friday we went to the Maritime Museum. They have quite a host of activities; it's much better than when I used to go as a child. The main attraction is still the fully assembled 1920-era ship, around which the museum was built. It's a ship built for going through the Northwest Passage.

My children adore this museum. They attend about once a week.

Munchkin, in her perpetual mixing of metaphors and active fantasy life, enlisted her brother to play "Pirate Princess fights monsters with karate."

Genome, on the other hand. Well, he's lucky he's even allowed back to the Maritime Museum. When he was 18 months old, he made a credible attempt to climb the rigging.

Firefly mostly slept or looked bemused at the whole scene.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Internet Continues to Open New Worlds to Me

I am not now and have never been Catholic. I attended one Catholic service. It was in Latin at a monastery.

I was aware of the bare bones of the current controversy in the American church: after Vatican II American churches changed the way they gave mass. Some of them changed it quite a lot. At the very least the Latin Mass basically disappeared and priests started facing forward and giving a much more accessible service.

Lately the pendulum has swung in the other direction. The papacy has been made aware of quite how liberal things had gotten in some parts of the world (very) and clarified certain things. In addition, mine is a reactionary generation and many of us prefer things to happen in foreign languages.

Orthodox Jewish Services are inaccessible in a way that makes the Tridentine Mass seem like a Unitarian ecumenical service. There are no instruments and no choir. Everyone faces in the same direction and mumbles at high speed in Hebrew. It's entirely in Hebrew except for the speech. They don't tell you what page your own. People bring their own prayer books and pray from them. Some people do their own tradition rather than that of the group. Everyone makes actions at times but you won't know when, unless you're following along, which you can't unless you are very familiar with the service and the language thereof. Women are separated from men by a balcony, curtain, fence, change of level, or several of the aforementioned (I could do without this). Women do not participate in and cannot always see the service. And some people don't bother sitting down or standing up and just stand the whole time (I do this). People wander in and out, especially the ones with small children, especially women. They come late and start up when they show up, praying what they missed (I do this too). There are children wandering freely. Sometimes the leader sings the entire prayer. More often he just sings one or two sentences to let you know where you ought to be up to, if you're following along, which you might not be. Oh, and different congregations use different tunes to the prayers. There are no hymns, no programs, no English, no "let us stand."

I would be so distraught if we all decided to go to English. I don't know if I could even pray anymore. It was very hard to learn to pray in Hebrew. But I love Hebrew.

It is easier to have sacred space when it is strange. I think this is one of the reasons for the long-standing preference that many people have for the King James Bible. It sounds sacred. Praying in English makes me feel self-conscious.

I can see why Catholics found it so hard to see theirs shaken up. And that's without going into some of the less-sanctioned stuff that seems to have gone on. Like this:

I have been reading What Does the Prayer Really Say, a fascinating conservative view of these things with bonus Latin and religious studies geekery. Truly, the internet contains worlds within worlds.

Monday, October 18, 2010

So I got myself Bright Sided by Ehrenreich. We shall see if she indeed agrees with my premise that it's silly to expect life, parenting, or anything else to be fun. Roller coaster rides are fun. Mothering is work. Of course, compared to most work, it's pretty good work. I wouldn't call paper pushing "joyful and fun" either. On the other hand, none of the papers I pushed ever pooped in the bathtub.

Speaking of work, a much better blog than this one called Hyperbole and a Half has an entry that I think describes an awful melt-down tantrum frmo the child's point of view. The child wants to eat an entire cake. Her mother, cruelly, prevents her from doing so. The child behaves in such a way as to interrupt the grandfather's party. The child thinks about how the mother will be sorry if she's dead, and so on.

I had no idea my children read blogs.

My children do not eat entire cakes. They eat raw bread dough. They absolutely adore raw bread dough.

When an Orthodox Jew has one of the many millions of little Orthodox Issues that arises in the average life, she calls her rabbi and asks a shaila, question. I suspect (but do not know) that my rabbi has a little asterisk next to my name to remind him that this isn't your average problem. A number of years ago, I was baking the challah and, as is the practice, I set apart an offering of dough with a blessing. Confusingly, the offering is also called challah. We are supposed to burn it. I did not burn it. Munchkin (I assume, it may have been Genome) ate it. I did not know what the practice is when your child eats your challah. Take more and burn that? Burning the child wouldn't work.

The answer, should you be waiting with bated breath, was "don't do anything. But be careful with the child and raw dough when it has eggs in it."

So my children like their baked goods, but they like them unbaked. You wouldn't know it given that they sabotaged my mixer, but there you are. Remind me to come back to the end of the mixer story soon.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Desperate Housewife

The note I left my mother after clearing a mysterious recurring paper jam from her printer.

Thursday I got myself in a bit of a flame-skirmish at True Femininity, where a woman just out of college tells you that with the right attitude, it will be fun when your toddler poops in your bathtub. Or something.

She thinks it's a cliché that parents say non-parents are clueless. I think it's a truth. Some things are said a lot because they're actually valid.

Luckily for me, I didn't spend much time with kids before I had them. As a result, I cultivated few opinions. Had I had opinions, I would definitely have run at the mouth and embarrassed myself. Of course, blogging wasn't as big when I was younger, so there probably wouldn't be written evidence. I was particularly careful to avoid forming any opinions while pregnant. I've seen this movie; I know how it ends: mummy, crying on the couch.

Mummy still cries on the couch sometimes, but no one can say "I told you so."

I think it would be hard to be that certain brand of Christian that seems obliged to be happy all the time. Has anyone else encountered these people?

Have you read Barbara Ehrenreich's book on the subject of positive thinking? I normally dismiss communists, but maybe she addresses this.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Take heart!

Firefly is five months old.

Roughly, childhood phases go like this:
Birth until social smiling (birth to about four months) -- Baby is a fetus that has been unkindly shoved out into the cold dark world. He is unimpressed with the development. Every two hours he forgets everything that has ever happened to him, ever, and must be fed-changed-soothed again. This is assuming he doesn't have colic. If he does, batten the hatches and don the rain gear.
Social smiling until tantruming (about four months until 17 months) -- Baby is becoming a transitional person. He smiles. He giggles. He hangs out. He begins to give positive feedback. He learns to move and makes a hobby of trying to put deadly things in his mouth. His mother starts to feel like she can get the hang of this. This isn't going to be such a disaster, after all. Maybe she can even take a shower.
Tantruming until talking (about 18 months until 2.5) -- Child is furious about that which he is unable to explain, or things that cannot possibly be fixed. Possible reasons for total meltdown include improperly sliced fruit, incorrect superhero offered on t-shirt, rain, no rain, bedtime, morning time, bathtime, etc. Child throws tantrums in a wide variety of public places. Child becomes a refusenik -- he refuses to put his coat on, or put his shoes on, or walk, or leave.
Talking until attitude (about 2.5 until 3.5) -- Child gets out of diapers. Child talks enough to convey important information. Child can be of help in small ways. Child idolises parent in charming way. This phase continues until the child develops a withering way-pre-teen attitude, somewhere around just before four years old.

What's amazing is that each time a child enters a new phase, I go into whiplash. What happened? Yesterday you were reasonable! Now you're tantruming! Now you've stopped! I'm a horrible failure as a mother! Or maybe not!

What's even more amazing is that I've spaced my children to ensure that I hit the hand-over-the-cyanide phases with all the children at the same time. But you know what? It's never as bad the second time. And it's even easier the third time.

Except the colic. That bit.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Question Period

My husband asks me random questions. He reads very widely. He has chosen questions as his preferred rhetorical method, I think, because he knows I'm a type-A, over-achieving, anxiety-addled teenager at heart. As soon as I hear the inflection in his voice, all the alarms go off in my head: competition! Quiz! Test! All brain cells engage!

He has three types:

The Open-Ended Answer
Why are boys diagnosed with ADHD more often than boys? Why do left-wing people generally support the IRA?
These are invitations to discussion on a topic. He likes to ask them over dinner. If he hits a topic I know anything about, he's stuk listening to me opine for a good twenty minutes.

The Needful Thing to Know
How many years is 10,000 days? Who are the gubernatorial candidates from California? How are judges chosen for the Supreme Court of Canada?
He asks me these because I might know, and it's easier than looking it up on Wikipedia. Sometimes he asks me _as_ he looks it up on Wikipedia. Sometimes he checks me with a calculator. This is a teensy bit insulting, as I hate to think for no reason.

The Trivial Pursuit
Name the poet who wrote these lines. Which sitcom character was a drummer for The Beach Boys?
He asks me these questions because . . . well . . . I have no idea. I'm face-blind and therefore cannot identify people in movies. I identify members of my own family by their hair. And I could not now name a single drummer for any band at any time. Was Ringo the drummer in the Beatles? I don't even know. I think that there's someone in Red Hot Chili Peppers might be named Flea. But that might be someone else in the band. And it's not really his name, I hope.

What my husband doesn't know (until he reads this) is that I keep track of how many of each type of question I miss and which I get right. Somehow, it turned out that the seventh grade imprinted on me, and has become the lens through which I see the entire remainder of my life.

Question time: from which Canadian political institution does this post take its title?