Thursday, June 24, 2010

Breaking Momma

Many people have obsessive tendencies in one or more areas of their lives.  Some people clean their houses to the point of madness.  For others, it's health food or exercise that brings out their inner Gollum, or it's checking the door is locked and the coffee pot is off twenty-three times before leaving the house.  For me, it's The Schedule.  I am a very routine-oriented person, and according to my mother, have been from birth.  My morning routine, both pre-child and now is carefully designed so I can do it by rote and not have to fully wake up until after I've gotten downstairs and had coffee.  Having routine in my bones served me well when I worked in child care and then as a first grade teacher.  Children thrive on routine.  They, like me, find comfort in knowing what to expect.  While I do like spontaneity, I always come back to The Schedule.  As you might guess then, Jack has a nice, predictable schedule when it comes to sleeping and eating.  He wakes up around seven o'clock, eats lunch at noon, naps at one and is asleep by eight in the evening.  At least, that's how it was going until a couple of months ago when Jack decided that sometimes he would start rubbing his eyes and yawning at eleven o'clock - two hours before nap time.  Other times, he refused to nap until nodding off at three or four, in his car seat or stroller.  And some days, god have mercy on us, he didn't nap at all.  All of this really threw a wrench into The Schedule.  I struggled to maintain it.  Then, I fumbled with finding a new "The Schedule" that would work with Jack's nap antics.  All of this was a great failure and lead to much frustration on my part.  Kids need The Schedule!  Why was my child suddenly bucking it?  Surely, I just had to find the right schedule and he would follow it again, right?
I was in the midst of all of this nap chaos last Thursday.  I laid down with Jack for an agonizing hour at his "normal nap time," most of which he spent flailing and talking gleefully to himself with not-so-brief intermissions to the potty no less than four times.  During one of the potty interludes, he attempted to flush literally half a roll of  paper, still attached to the roll, down the toilet.  I caught it before the bathroom flooded and ended up fishing the massive papier-mache-like wad of tissue out with my bare hand.  But I digress...When I finally sighed and got up, it was time for us to go to mom and kiddo yoga.  It's in our neighborhood, so I strapped Jack in the stroller and started the one mile walk .  On the way, I chatted to Jack:  "Look at the fire hydrant.  That one's red!  Look at the big black dog.  Hi, dog!"  I was babbling like an idiot when I realized Jack wasn't responding at all.  I stopped and peeked at him in the stroller.  He was dead asleep!  As I walked, I considered my options:  Wake Jack up so we could both go to yoga, be grumpy and totally not enjoy it OR let him sleep while I walked around the neighborhood in perfect peace and quiet.  So I squashed the voice inside me that said I was asking for it at bed time if I let him start a nap at 3:45PM and went on what turned out to be a lovely one-hour walk, for all practical purposes, by myself. 
After Jack woke up and we got home around 5:00, he started complaining that his botton itched.  This is a perpetual problem we have due to his stubborn insistence that he wear neither pants nor underwear while playing in the sandbox.  I was hot and sweaty from the walk, so I decided we'd take a bath before dinner, deviating yet again from The Schedule.  We had a wonderfully relaxing bath together and then went downstairs to make dinner which was much more relaxing after a warm bath instead of staying sweaty and sticky.  After dinner, I (gasp!) left the dinner dishes on the counter and even (gasp again!) neglected to get Jack to pick up all of his toys out of the living room.  We went upstairs where I sat in the playroom feeling downright blissful while Jack, still naked from the bath, played with his trains.  This is where Jason found us when he got home from work.  He was quite surprised to find Jack up past his bedtime running naked around the upstairs, and he was downright shocked to see me with a relaxed smile on my face as I told him of the late nap.  Jason smiled and said, "It only took two years, but Jack finally broke you."  He laughed pretty hard and reiterated this statement when I calmly explained the reason Jack's hair smelled so good was because Jack had washed it himself in the bathtub... with my shave gel.
In the end, we brushed Jack's teeth, took him to the potty and read him books before bed like we always do.  He went to bed about thirty minutes late, pleasantly tired and without complaint.  Apparently, The Schedule is not as vital in keeping our world aligned on its axis as I previously thought.  As I reflected on the day, I realized that what made it so relaxing was not so much that I threw The Schedule out the window.  It was that I gave up control.  I gave up thinking that if I just did the right thing then Jack would eat/sleep/act how I wanted.  I let go of the idea that I am directly responsible for every missed nap, every bad mood and every hang nail the kid ever has.  Life is a whole lot easier when you don't take responsibility for every single little piece of it.  Since that Thursday, we have maintained a looser version of The Schedule.  I still do think we need it; I just have to remember I'm not completely in charge of it.  So yeah, Momma is now broken, but I like it.  I think I'll stay this way.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Grammar According to Momma

I saw this product while shopping at Target on Sunday.  It caught my eye enough to make me stop, scowl and take photographic evidence of this blatant and absurd transgression of grammar.  There are two things that bother me about this:
1.  They are selling a plaster, paintable "OMG."  What are you supposed to do with it, paint it and hang it on your wall?  What meaning does a shortened version of "omigod" have as a wall hanging?
2.  The more abhorrent violation of the two:  The text at the top of the package says it is a "plaster word."  WORD??  REALLY??!  Since when did teenage text acronyms qualify as words?  As a matter of fact, since when did any acronym make the cut?

I don't have a problem with "omg," per se or abbreviating things for the sake of time while texting.  It is a convenient and practical thing to do.  But, I do have a problem with this little gem snaking it's way into everyday conversation enough that people are actually considering it a word.  I have observed "omg" in two non-cell phone commercials, one sitcom and a billboard before sighting this one at Target.  I don't have strong opinions about a lot of things, but this seemingly trivial thing really irritates me.  "Omg" is trite, meaningless, unnecessary and IT IS NOT A WORD.

I'll admit that, as you may have already guessed, I am a card-carrying member of the grammar police.  I know every grammar rule there is, and I abide by most of them.  I break out the red pen for misuses of "I" and "me," "effect" and "affect" and "there" "their" and "they're."   I have relaxed about certain things over the years, like the rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition or "not using a preposition to end a sentence with," as we grammar comedians like to say.  I finally had to face the fact that saying, "With whom would you like to speak?" just sounds snooty.  Another place I've given up is using "their" when in the context of the sentence, "his" or "her" should be used.  Example:  "Does everyone know where their pencil is?"  If phrased correctly, it should be "Does everyone know where his or her pencil is?"  (If you don't know why, I'm not going to deign to tell you.)  Using "his or her" is very cumbersome, and I'm annoyed with whomever thought up our gender pronoun system for not coming up with a gender neutral pronoun.  Technically speaking, you can just say "his" and that's supposed to include everyone, but frankly it's just plain sexist.
So, because I am the utmost authority on the matter, I have come up with a sample list of April's New Grammar Rules, because whomever wrote them in the first place, had no idea they/ he or she needed to remind everyone that "omg" is a pathetic excuse for communication.  Here you go:

  1. You may substitute "they" or "their" for "he or she" or "his or her" when the gender of the party to which you are referring is unknown or includes multiple genders.
  2. You may end a sentence with a preposition, but ONLY if it sounds absurdly pretentious to do otherwise.  For example, you can say, "Who does this belong to?"  instead of the stuffy, "To whom does this belong?"  You may under no circumstances say, "Where's it at?"  or "The road has to be finished for cars to drive on."
  3. You may use text-originating acronyms only while texting.  Anyone using "omg" anywhere else shall be flogged.
  4. If you are typing an email  or text to a friend and you are in a hurry, minor typos or spelling/grammar mistakes and typical abbreviations are acceptable, but we will make fun of you.  If you are typing a business email, writing a formal letter or for the love of god, a resume, all spelling and grammar should be absolutely correct.  All mistakes made in formal documents will be published to a website with a link on Google's homepage so that we grammar mavens can smirk and feel superior.
  5. Let's talk word misuse.  If you are a sport announcer, you are banned from using the word "literally."   There shall be no, for example, "He literally ripped his head off!" during football games.  Really??  I guess he's under indictment for murder then, since he "literally" committed a heinous crime in front of millions of viewers.
  6. If you are a sports announcer, Alanis Morisette or anyone else who is not absolutely positive they know the meaning of irony, you may not use it or any derivative thereof.  Newsflash:  coincidence is not irony.  "Ironically, he's playing the best game of his career against the team of his former college roommate," is in no way, shape or form a correct use of irony.  I could use a whole posting to illustrate the proper use of irony, so I'll leave that for a later time.  
  7. This last rule is probably the most important one of all.  If you are trying to type a grammar-related post for your blog because you are trying to do something that makes you feel a little more intellectual than listening to "Do You Know the Muffin Man?" on repeat eight-six times in a row, but your 2-year-old is doing acrobatics in your lap and shouting "I type!  I type!" you are indemnified from all typos, grammar mistakes, misspellings, word misuse, run-on sentences, fragments, awkward sentences and anything that ends up not making sense.  Thanks and goodnight!

    Monday, June 7, 2010

    Summer Fun, Wasted Food and a Moment of Bliss

    I just realized I missed posting last week.  There was memorial day, then I had to do end-of-month billing for short, it's the oldest, lamest excuse in the book:  I forgot.  I also spent the end of the week making lists and gathering things to go out of town to see Jason's parents.  I have to say, it was by far the best, most relaxing road trip we've taken with Jack.  We left at bedtime on Friday.  Jack hadn't taken a nap and had run around like a nut with my parents all afternoon, so he crashed in the car almost immediately.  He did not, however, pass out before we went through the Chick-fil-a drive-thru with the little general demanding a vanilla milkshake, which brings me to an important digression:
    We asked if they had a kid-sized shake, because even the small size is gargantuan.  They didn't, so Jason asked if they would just fill up a small halfway.  We'd still pay for the whole thing.  Apparently, their shake machine dispenses pre-determined amounts, so they couldn't give us less.  It seemed kind of ridiculous.  We ended up with a small (giant) shake and an extra cup.  I quickly ate off the whipped cream and cherry, and then poured about a third of it in the extra cup with a lid for Jack.  The rest of it sat melting and wasted in the front cup holder, Jason and I determinedly refusing to give into the temptation to finish it.  As it turned out, Jack took three sips of his portion of the shake and fell asleep with it between his legs before we even got out of town.  So, instead of getting, say, a six-ounce cup of shake, we wasted approximately 14 ounces of ice cream and milk, a cherry and whipped cream that I didn't really want to eat, and we sent two styrafoam cups, two plastic lids and two straws to the landfill.  All this, and Jack didn't even really drink much of it.  I REALLY wish restaurants would offer not just kids' meals, but toddler portions.  While the waste of money does irk me, what bothers me more is the abundant waste of food and plastic containers.  It shouldn't be so hard to get less, especially when you're not even asking for a price reduction.
    So that digression turned out to be longer than I intended.  I'll hop down off my soapbox now.  We had a great trip to see Jason's parents.  We took Jack to the beach on Saturday, and he loved loved loved it.  He shrieked joyfully at each wave when we were out in the water.  He didn't even mind that much when one occasionally hit him in the face.  He delighted in stomping on the sandcastles Jason's mom (Linda/"Gigi") made expressly for that purpose.  He chased seagulls and hollered, "come back!" at them when they took flight, and he intently licked the saltiness off my shoulder as I carried him.  We stopped for burgers and fries on the way home.  Jack ate about a third of his grilled cheese and about four fries - another food-wasting opportunity.  Why can't I order half a sandwich for him??  But that's beside the point.  It was a great day.  We all had a good time, and Jack had a blast.  Linda and I took a lot of pictures, but I'm pretty sure none of them is going to really capture the simple fun of the day.
    The rest of the weekend was also great.  Jason and I got to go to an Astros game with his dad (David/"Papa") that night.  The Astros lost, but we relished the opportunity to be out together as adults and not have to have eighteen conversations about backhoes and frontloaders and trash trucks and fire trucks and ambulances.....  Sunday, Jason and David played golf.  Linda, Jason's sister (Shannon) and I took Jack to Kemah Boardwalk.  We rode the train and took a ride on the carosel - Jack's first.  We ate lunch there and met the guys back at the house afterward.  Then, we packed up to go home.  Jack, exhausted, fell asleep for a nap in about ten minutes.  When he woke up an hour later, we made a pit stop and continued down the highway with Jack happily playing with his cars in the back.  As we neared home, I thought the weekend had been close to perfect.  I actually felt relaxed after being in the car for three hours with my toddler - damned near amazing.  As I reclined in my seat with my bare feet propped on the dash, I took time to cherish the moment.  It's nice Jack can finally entertain himself with a few toys and his own imagination for a bit.  I took a picture of it in my mind and told myself to remember it, because since we're thinking about kiddo number two now, it's going to be a long time before this happens again.