Today I have spent a great deal of time in the company of young people. And by young, I don’t mean pre-law students, I mean multiple shorties under seven. I took three of them to an indoor playground for two hours where I was subjected to the smell of dirty diapers, the fear of contracting Hantavirus and the Alvin and the Chipmunks’ classic, “It’s Christmas Don’t Be Late. I shouldn’t have to tell you that it’s July so this was a triple assault on my sanity. Are there no laws on the books regulating these fucking rodents? If not, there should be so call your councilman!
Luckily, there is a huge silver lining to this. I discovered that indoor playgrounds are a great opportunity to pat yourself on the back for a great job parenting so far. These indoor playgrounds are literally crawling with aggressive shorties. This was the second time in as many visits that a kid almost got kicked out for random attacks on other toddlers. In both incidents the mother/caregiver was completely checked out and seemed oblivious to how badly behaved her kid was. The first time I had to get involved because Sadie was getting shoved to the ground repeatedly by a little tyrant. Now normally when Sadie gets pushed, there’s a good chance she started it. Sadie is certainly not at the top of Santa’s list of nice girls right now but when Mattie came to tell me Sadie was getting “hit by a big boy” and I flew over to investigate I saw this 45 pound 3-year-old shove her to the ground unprovoked. He thought no one could see him because he was inside a little kitchenette but I had poked my head through the window and caught the little shit in the act.
Here’s the thing: no matter how much you may question the parenting decisions you make, your kid can’t help come out smelling like a rose next to a kid who goes around whacking other kids on the head with plastic gardening tools.
If you want to grade your parenting prowess on a curve, head to an indoor playground and stay away from anything high brow like museums or botanical gardens. Hell, even Chili’s. Just when I’ve gotten a little cocky at a Chili’s because my kids are sitting quietly coloring on their kids menus and not loudly pounding their silverware on the table like the kid at the next table whose mom is texting, is exactly the moment I look down and find that both my twins are under the table making a mountain with their mac & cheese. But hey, I always leave a good tip. 5% is generous right?
I spend an inordinate amount of time questioning my parenting: Do I give enough time-outs, too many time-outs, serve enough organic food; should I force my kids to eat quinoa even though I can barely pronounce it and mostly hate people who love it; do I allow my kids enough time to be bored, too much time to be bored; am I correctly teaching compassion, understanding, or am I teaching too much compassion and not enough kick-ass defend yourself attitude? Is Elby too young for Ivy and Bean? Too old for The Velveteen Rabbitt? Should I force Mattie and Sadie to sit through me reading “Guess How Much I Love You” because I love it even though they aren’t interested? Is it my fault that Matilda almost got a perler bead stuck up her nose yesterday?
I don’t allow these questions to paralyze me the way they did when Elby was a baby. I make my choices and move on with as much grace and confidence as I can muster. But when Sadie attempts to bite Matilda after not having done it in a year or Matilda whines without stop for 24 hours straight I can’t help but wonder if I forgot to read the right parenting book.
But then, I go to the indoor playground and get to walk out with my head held high! My parenting rules! What a high!
Just make sure you check for coupons.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 28, 2011 5:59 pm
I got a little laser lipo on my thighs. There I said it. That happened. Let me back up and tell you the whole story before your judgments go all haywire and you think I’m auditioning as a new cast member of Real Housewives of the OC or doing marketing for a new line of adult Bratz dolls. I’m not people! Jeez get off my back! Sorry, that’s just my constrictive undergarment talking. Let me explain.
While working at The Parent Experiment my producer Kathee told me that this company Final Inches wanted to advertise with us and were offering us a procedure. So Kathee was all over having it done, to the tune of “There is a God!” She was ready to have what she calls her “nana arms” trimmed down post haste. I, on the other hand, was horrified.
I was horrified at the idea of doing something that seemed drastic to change my appearance which I felt for the most part was just fine thankyouverymuch. Also, I’ve seen shows like “The Swan” which take perfectly attractive women and turn them into space aliens, if space aliens were made entirely out of silicone and filler.
But, Kathee had talked to other women who had had this procedure done and she was all about it. “They don’t put you under! It’s so simple. The cannula is the size of a paperclip!” she was all about it.
I was not reassured that this was so simple. But truth be told, my saddle bags immediately came to mind when I thought of fat suckage. The saddle bags I lovingly refer to as my Muffin Bottom. I’ve gotten used to Muffin Bottom because no matter what weight I’m at or what shape I’m in, Muffin Bottom is still there.
I grew up plagued with self esteem issues and shame about the size of my ass and other body parts (who isn’t) but as I’ve grown older I’ve become much less concerned. I mean at a certain point, you just have to accept your shape and how miraculous the female body is and what it’s built for. I’m never going to become a walking Ani DiFranco song full of female empowerment and flipping a giant middle finger to our culture’s obsession with boyish hips; but I’m also never going to become obsessed with having a flawless body and find myself addicted to cosmetic procedures which I will mysteriously refer to as “natural enhancement.” I don’t even like perfect. Perfect is boring. And a lot of work. I’m lazy. I like to work about but not every week! Really, I’m never going to work out more than four times a week and even that’s a perfect week where no one is sick, there are no random school holidays (or worse “administration days” how many days do preschool teachers need to get their shit together?).
“Just have a consult,” Kathee said. “If you don’t want to do it, don’t.”
So since I’m not looking for perfection in myself or anyone else why would I even go on the consult right?
I went on the consult. Well Lynette Carolla (my cohost on Parent Experiment) went with me. She got sucked into doing it too (pun intended).
This little Asian firecracker of a female doctor, a surgeon by the name of Dr. Ngo, was the one who saw me. She took a look at my rear and showed me the pockets of fat that could be removed. I’m going to admit right now that checking out my ass in front of a mirror with someone else looking at it in bright daylight was probably not going to make me say, “You know what? I think I’m looking pretty hawt as is. I hate to cut this consult short but I need to go buy a thong bikini and time’s a wasting!” I think this is how they get you! Truthfully, I felt extremely comfortable talking to Dr. Ngo. I never got the feeling that she thought I should or shouldn’t do anything.
She basically just explained what I could and couldn’t expect from a treatment like this. I couldn’t expect to suddenly have the ass of a young Thai boy. I couldn’t expect that the skin on my legs which is loose from having had two pregnancies one with twins would suddenly look better unless I did something more drastic (which I will obviously never do) but I would look better and I could greatly reduce my “outer thighs” which she refused to join me in calling Muffin Bottom.
I went home and promptly decided that I wasn’t going to do it. It wasn’t worth it. Why would I have a procedure to remove fat from my body, fat that I’d lived with this long, why not go the rest of the way with it?
Then a day or so later I changed my mind again. Why should I go through the rest of life with those bags if I didn’t have to? Since I’d had the consult, I knew the procedure wasn’t risky, was quick and I could get back to the work of taking care of the kids and sitting at my computer the same day. So I booked my appointment.
The bottom line is all moral opposition aside, I’m just a normal woman who doesn’t and has never celebrated my goddamned saddle bags. Having a big butt is one thing and that will never change (at the consult they said my butt would look bigger without the side car –okay not in those words but come on). Black men will continue to be mesmerized by the size of my booty but I will get to privately know that I don’t have those unsightly bulges of fat that I worked so hard to disguise. I won’t have to wear an old lady skirt with my bathing suits.
It’s been a week and a half and I’m not even the least bit sore anymore. I was bruised but that’s almost gone and I can go back to the gym tomorrow if I want (I’m going to pretend they didn’t tell me that for a few more days).
I know, I know you want pictures and I will put them up against my better judgment but I have to wait another couple of weeks for the swelling to go down completely and I can see exactly how different it looks.
For now though, if you’re into something like this, you can go to their site at Final Inches and check it out. If you tell them I sent you, you will get a thousand dollars off.
Gotta go watch Real Housewives. We have so much more in common now!
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 25, 2011 5:54 am
Hey All, I have this friend named Larry. Larry is hilarious and a writer who would like to be a part of the mommy bloggy daddy bloggy community if only it didn’t sound so queer. I feel you Larry. (by the way, those are my words not his but I knew what he meant) (also by the way, I mean queer not as gay but as “slightly ill, queasy” Webster definition so hold your nasty comments or leave them anyway. It’s all fun.)
Do They Make Ten-Gallon Helmets?
by Larry Bleidner
We – the extended family that is – were all meeting for the yearly back slap and hug fest (a complex semaphore that masks festering sibling resentments and ancient ancestral animosities) in Scottsdale. It was just after Christmas.
Various entertainments were scheduled for each day. There was an aborted balloon ride. The balloon had a tear in it big enough to admit an NTSB crew and no thanks, Captain Hotair, we’d prefer not to view the mysteries of the desert floor by night nor wait until the balloon seamstress arrives.
It was about an hour’s drive from the hot air balloon staging area back to our hotel, with plenty of disappointed faces in the car. Tomorrow was horseback riding. Since I was the only experienced rider (but no rodeo star) I’d been assigned the task of coordinating the equine excursion. Wanting to avert any balloon-like snafu at the dude ranch, I called them – again.
“Hello, Painted Desert Dude Ranch?”
“This is Larry Bleidner. I called a couple weeks back to reserve some horses for tomorrow?”
I heard fingers strafe a keyboard. Wow, even cowboys use computers. I wondered if his had little six gun appliqués. Maybe a horseshoe tab closure or a tooled leather mouse.
“Yessir. I’m lookin’ at your res’ right here on my screen. Ten ayem tomorrah. Four ay-dults an’ fahve kids.”
“That’s right. What’s your name again?”
“Eustace, I have a favor to ask. I’ve done a little riding, but the closest the rest of these people have been to a horse is a merry-go-round. So I’d like some really old, tired horses, you know what I mean?”
“You want some half totals.”
“Half totals. They’re half dead an’ totally worn out. You couldn’t make ’em gallop with Rambo knives for spurs. We got a special barn for ’em. Call it the horsey-hospice.”
“Oh yeah. Most days I gotta wake ’em up to feed ’em. You’ll have a nice, easy ride, thas’ fo sure.”
“Well, they do have one imperfection, might bug you a little.”
“They’re so damn close the last round up, they already smell like glue! Heh- heh- heh.”
The next day, we crammed into two Avis cars and drove out to the Painted Desert Dude Ranch. My wife and her sister chose separate cars. A sure sign of friction, but they’d never cop to it. Appearances must be maintained. For the children. And the parents.
We pulled up to a dusty corral and a couple of barns with corrugated steel roofs. The sun bounced off in shimmers of desert heat.
There were nine saddled creatures lined up, waiting for us. Their silhouettes looked like hammocks with legs. Eustace was no bullshitter. One old Palomino was extra peculiar. It appeared his johnson had migrated from the customary location to his rib cage. It was erect and positioned like a foot peg on a Harley. Thinking him a candidate for Ripley’s Odditorium, I grabbed my reading glasses for a closer look.
“That there’s a tumor, ” came Eustace’s diagnosis, from over my shoulder.
“You kin touch it if you want. It don’t hurt him none.”
“Never crossed my mind, Eustace.”
“Well then, let’s git the paperwork started.”
I followed Eustace into an office the size of the booth at Checkpoint Charlie. It was hot as hell. He had two grimy clipboards with Bic pens on strings.
“Helmet rental is three dollars extra.”
“We recommend our riders wear helmets. For their safety.”
I thought he might be kidding but then saw the assortment of headgear on the shelves behind him. If anyone needed protection, it was the half totals outside, about to be ridden to their graves.
I felt a presence behind me. My sister-in-law. A very safety-first type person.
“I want five helmets please, ” she told Eustace.
“No helmets for my crew, Eustace. We’ll take our chances with those wild stallions.” Eustace guffawed. My sister-in-law set her jaw.
I scribbled my signature on the clipboard and handed him a Mastercard. As he swiped it, he said “Don’t forgit the liability waiver.” He riffled the pages on the clipboard. It had more places for initials than a mortgage application. I made a couple of dozen x’s and stepped outside.
My wife and kids wore ball caps, well ventilated with mesh crowns. The big brims stymied the Arizona sun. The cousins’ helmets looked like NHL issue. Their unprotected faces baked.
We rode around a dusty trail in single file for over an hour. There was something surreal about watching two middle-aged parents in hockey helmets creeping along on swayback nags.
We dismounted. The horses groaned with relief. The cousins from the east were sunburned. One of them subsequently learned she had ringworm, courtesy of another safety-conscious, but hygiene ignorant helmet-wearing equestrian.
But at least she was alive. And safe.
Larry is the author of MACK DADDY — (Citadel)… the standard handbook for new(er) dads.
Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on July 11, 2011 8:12 pm