Oral Hygiene Queen

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Location: Midwest, United States

I floss daily, brush after every meal, and trouble deaf heaven with my bootless cries.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Watch your Ass, Pumpkin Thief!

Someone stole our pumpkins! My Old Man and I actually got it together to pack both O. and newborn Roo into the car for a family outing to the local apple and pumpkin orchard to buy a peck of braeburns and a couple of pumpkins. We put the pumpkins out on our porch to await their disfiguration, and that very night, some lowlife motherfucker stole them. I was irate, as was the Old Man. Who could sneak onto a porch, skulk past a little bike with training wheels and a stroller, and still go through with their dastardly pumpkin-stealing plan? “If they’d actually smashed them,” my man reasoned, “I could forgive it. At least then it would be destruction in the spirit of Halloween mischief.” (His own record of juvenile delinquency gives him a perspective I lack.) “But this is just craven larceny.”

Ah, well. O. and the Old Man picked up a couple of new pumpkins at the local supermarket chain, and a couple of nights ago they carved them into two excellent jack-o-lanterns, one of which O. designed himself on a construction paper prototype.


The thought of anyone coming in the night and stealing or in any way fucking with my guys’ pumpkins made me seethe with anticipatory anger. But what could we do? My Old Man came up with a plan to take the jack-o-lanterns in before he headed up for bed and then put them back out in the light of day. It’s sad that we’d have to even think of such a thing, but the wide-eyed holiday spirit of a four-year-old boy is at stake here. O. didn’t see the need for such precautions. “If they come up on the porch, they’ll see our pumpkins’ scary faces and run away,” he said, with a hint of duh! in his tone. We took the pumpkins in for the night anyway.

Before I leave you this Halloween day, let me share with you my favorite synonym for jack-o-lantern: “pumpkin moonshine” (as immortalized in Tasha Tudor’s 1938 children’s book of the same name). So, kids – go out and get all the candy you can tonight. And adults, better get you some of that pumpkin moonshine (however you understand the term).

Sunday, October 21, 2007

The Hard Part

People keep asking me “Is it hard having two kids?” or saying “It’s harder with two, isn’t it?” Those are weird questions at this point, because I don’t have two kids yet. I have a kid and a newborn, which is a whole different thing. Harder than two kids in many ways (one of my kids is much needier than the other), and easier in others (no sharing issues, no “she touched me” or “he hit me”). But as for the question of whether it’s harder having a newborn when you already have another kid, so far it’s been easier than I thought it would be. Maybe this is partly because I was scared shitless and exaggerated in my imagination just how chaotic it would be. Maybe partly because the experience factor makes having a newborn easier the second time around. Maybe partly because Roo is a (relatively) “easy” baby.

It’s been easier than I thought it would be, until recently. Until O. came down with some nasty bug. Having a sick four-year-old and a newborn has given my Old Man and me a taste of the real challenges of having more than one child.

Last Thursday, O. woke up feverish, complaining of a sore throat. By the afternoon, he was puking. Luckily, my Old Man was home from school by then, so between the two of us we handled the baby, the suffering child, and the vomitorious laundry. Friday O. was feeling much better, but since he was still getting his appetite back and potentially still contagious, we kept him home from school another day.

Since Roo was born, O. has been in preschool six hours a day, five days a week. Weekends have been positive, a nice chance for me and my Old Man to spend more time with O. and for O. to hang out more with Roo. We went into this weekend having already spent two days with O. at home, and two particularly trying days. And as the weekend was beginning, O. had already entered his post-illness mischievous phase. (Have other parents of little kids experienced this? After a day or two of dependence and sweet-tempered listlessness, my kid enters back into health with a renewed lust for life, and especially for puckish behavior.) Now it’s Sunday and the Old Man and I both have about one nerve left apiece. O’s belly sickness has morphed into a cough that doesn’t slow him down but sounds fairly wretched. “Do you think he’ll be well enough to go to school tomorrow?” my Old Man muses. “He’d damn well better be,” I say. We need a break.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Big Brother

O. is enjoying having a new sister, and so far he has been really good with Roo. More than good, he’s been very sweet toward her: gentle when he holds her on his lap or gives her kisses and affectionate when he talks about her.


He also went through a phase the first couple of weeks after she came home where, although he was blameless in any situation involving the baby, he was being a major pain in the ass most of the rest of the time. So, consciously he was cool with the new addition to the family, but maybe subconsciously he needed to register his ambivalence. Thankfully, in recent days he seems to be back to his usual self, which is about 90% sweet, fun, and endearing, and 10% rascally and exasperating. I’m not quite sure what turned things around, but I have a theory that it’s all thanks to Chutes and Ladders.

Can I tell you frankly that I hate the game Chutes and Ladders? I loved it when I was five, but as an adult, I’m finding it grindingly boring, and it often seems just interminable, especially when the frontrunner lands on a naughty square and gets shunted down a long chute. I don’t actually care who wins any given game of Chutes and Ladders, as long as someone wins within a reasonable span of time. But this is a game where luck changes very quickly, players often go plummeting down from somewhere very near the finish line, and the game can stretch on into an eternity of monotony.

O. loves the game, however, and I am all about spending time with my big boy here in the early weeks of this huge transition in his life, sharing the spotlight with his baby sister. We were given the game a couple weeks before Roo’s birth by our well-intentioned neighbors, and O. has taken to it with a passion just this past week. And somehow his difficult behavior and eerily adolescent attitude seem to have declined in inverse relation to our increasingly numerous daily games of what O. refers to as “Up the Ladder, Down the Chute.” I don’t know if the “moral lesson” aspect of the game (where good deeds are rewarded at the top of a ladder, and bad behavior leads to ill consequences at the bottom of a chute) is having an effect on him, or if it’s just the mere fact of more focused one-on-one time with one or both of his parents improving his general mood and outlook. I like to think it’s the latter, since I slightly resent what seems to me a simplistic and rather goody-goody morality at work behind the game. (I know, I analyze this shit too much.) But whatever the source, the apparent relation between improved O. attitude and games of Chutes and Ladders played makes an otherwise unbearable game considerably more tolerable for me.

I just hope none of our neighbors is planning to gift us with a copy of my other favorite game from early childhood. I haven’t played it in three decades, but I’m reasonably sure it’s as big a snoozefest as Chutes and Ladders. Plus it promotes extremely problematic values in terms of oral hygiene and overindulgence in sticky sweets. Lord, save me from Candyland.