Category Archives: parenting

Lois.

Meet Lois. 

 The children had been begging for a dog but while I want a dog, I do not want a dog. My youngest is finally in school and the last thing I want is something else to look after. I’ve picked up enough poop, thankyouverymuch.

Enter Lois. Lois was a stray who lived in our yard with her two kittens. A certain child started feeding her, the kids were begging us to make an honest cat out of her, and next thing she knew it, Lois was at the vet and sleeping in a bed. Even though certain people in this house may or may not be allergic to cats, Lois moved in.  

Turns out, the kids are less than pleased with the turn of events. Maybe you should be careful what you wish for. 

“You love her more than us.” 

“She’s your favorite.”

“You never talk to us that way.” 

Wrong. 

Wrong. 

Maybe. I talk to Lois in the same sing-song way I talked to the kids when they were infants — helpless and dependent and grateful for whatever attention I could give them. Because Lois reminds me of them when they loved me unconditionally, when they ate whatever I put in front of them, when they were happy just to see me walk through the door. 

In short, when they liked me. All the time. Before they started yelling at me because I bought the wrong kind of rice. Before they asked me not to speak in front of their friends. (“You may not even make eye contact.”) Before the eye roll. Lois cannot roll her eyes. 

The great Nora Ephron said that it would be wise to get a dog when your children are teenagers because someone will always be happy to see you. 

You could get a dog, or you could get a Lois. 

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Filed under cats, parenting, pets

Do you hear the people cringe? 

Sometimes something so awful will happen that I’ll need several days to process it. By process, I mean write about. That’s really how this blog started, and for the most part, that’s its function — to help me process all this parenting shit. 

On Sunday, on the last day of winter break, I took the boys and my oldest girl to see Les Mis. On Broadway. I could have saved all the money and bought myself one of those Canada Goose coats that just about everyone in New York seems to be wearing, but which I cannot justify. I can, however, justify dropping a wad of cash on my children in the name of musical theater. 

Never again. 

My boys were grumbly from the start, especially a certain 11 year old. I told them that there are fewer days more depressing than the last day of vacation. Why not get out of the house and spend that day on Broadway, I said. I kept my hands firmly planted in my pockets, to avoid using jazz hands. I do that whenever I say “on Broadway.” (Shoot me.)

We could also spend it watching football, he said. 

Fuck off, I said. 

Ok, not really. But I wanted to. 

I bribed them with sushi. I also told them that Les Mis has a few cool fight scenes and some singing hookers. Yes, I did. I am not proud. It was not my finest hour. Not by a long shot. But I am beginning to wonder if there are any fine hours in parenting.

He grumbled through sushi. Mumbled about his fantasy team. His older brother seemed game, though, as did my nine year old girl. (GOD BLESS HER COTTON SOCKS.)

We showed up at the theater and took our very good seats. I was jittery with excitement. I couldn’t show them though because if they saw it, if they smelled my eagerness, this whole thing was over. I played it cool, or at last as cool as someone who does jazz hands can muster.  

 Five minutes in he turns to me and yells, “WHEN IS INTERMISSION?” 

I shut him up. I promise him it will get better, because I know that it will. I know every bloody word in this show. 

Ten minutes in he yells, this time even louder, “YOU NEVER SAID THIS WOULD BE ALL SINGING. THIS STINKS. THIS IS WORSE THAN PHANTOM.” 

By now, people are looking. They’re wondering how these spoiled effing brats got to see both Phantom and Les  Mis. On Broadway. Christmas week. They’re wondering what all their friends will say, back in Iowa. We saw Les Mis and these spoiled New York brats were there too, whining the whole time. 

At some point, he started up with me again. Apparently the fight scene was lame. So lame he had to announce it to everyone around us. 

“TAKE A NAP!” I hissed. Frankly, I had given up on him seeing the show, not to mention getting anything from it. I just wanted to avoid embarassment. Or at least, further embarassment. I saw him trying to read the playbill, so he could figure out when intermission was. His brother got in on it too. I jabbed them when the hookers came on, hoping this would at least get them to sit still. Not so. Those ladies are a lot less lovely than even I remember. 

When intermission finally came they turned to me. So did all the Iowans. I just shrugged. 

“This sucks,” said his brother. 

“Yeah.” 

“You never said it was all singing.” 

“Yeah.” 

“We’re missing football for this.” At this point I think the Iowans almost fainted. I could hear them thinking to themselves, “ALL WE HAVE IN IOWA IS FOOTBALL! WE COULD NOT WAIT TO GET OUT! DO YOU KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE?”

“We’re going.” 

“You’re what?” I felt my eyes begin to burn. 

They huddled, searching their phones for the nearest Starbucks. Before I knew what was happening they were gone. The nine year old and I just looked at each other. I could not make eye contact with the Iowans.

Luckily, in Les Mis, all the truly sad crap happens in Act 2. I could hide in my tears for all the bodies that fell at the glorious barricade. I could have a good, solid weep when Jean Valjean goes to meet his maker, holding the hands of Fantine and Eponine. Nobody had to know I was weeping for those damn boys. Not to mention my Canada Goose jacket. 

They were waiting for me in the lobby. They looked very guilty. As you may expect, they spend a lot of time looking very guilty, so it had little effect one me. By little I mean NONE.

We walked to the subway in silence. I kept trying to lose them in Times Square but it was not my lucky day. Once we were on the train, I fell apart. 

If there’s one thing my boys apparently hate more than historical musical theater, it’s when their mother cries in public. I took the stage and made my biggest scene yet. Mama Rose had NOTHING on me. It was my turn now. 

I told them that I sit through endless games for them, not just the ones they play in, but the ones they want me to watch on TV. I told them a good friend once told me I could either beat them or join them, so I chose to join them. Hell, I even ordered the NY Post for them. (Do you know hard it was for me to bring that shit into my house?) I told them that as their mom it was my job to meet them where they were, and that they didn’t owe me anything. They didn’t need to come to the theater because they owed it to me. I was bringing them to show them how much I loved them. That’s what you do. When you love something, you share it with the people that you love. (By now I was REALLY crying, snot and all.) I didn’t need them to like it (lie); I just needed them to let it wash over them. It was three hours for heaven’s sake.

“Three hours on a Sunday. In football season.” 

I almost smacked him. 

“And they pulled Peyton Manning in! Last minute!” 

I almost smacked the other one. 

Hell, I don’t know if they learned anything, but I certainly did. Next year, I’ll be buying the damn coat. 

 

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Filed under Broadway, children, parenting, theater

One week in: Meatless May

Here’s what I have learned so far.

1. This stuff is awesome. 

 

2. I miss meat a little, but I do not miss cooking or eating chicken. This is surprising. M, who, if he could, would turn the smell of roast chicken into cologne, feels quite the opposite. (He confessed to me that he snarfed some chicken at his parents’ house last week.) 

3. Hanna’s miso salmon (see previous blog post) is spectacular. I made it two days in a row.

4. Overall, the kids are impressing me with their sense of culinary adventure… Which was really the whole point of this stunt of fleshlessness. 

5. It’s good to know your audience. My friend S gave me a recipe for chickpea fritters which included fresh parsley. My kids will eat herbs in a salad but if they appear in cooked food, looking all menacing, green and stringy: game over. I omitted the parsley — SUCCESS WAS MINE.

6. Sort of. Next lesson – BEWARE FOOD DOPPLEGANGERS. The above chickpea fritters looked remarkably like peanut butter cookies. 

Poor Efram took a bite thinking he was getting a cookie.  He was unable to move past the disappointment. 

7. Not all my adventures in vegetarianism will be a success: I made a revolting chana masala for Friday night dinner. It had the texture of vomit and the taste of tin foil. M, who would probably give away a child before he threw out food, tossed the entire pot into the trash. (I would tell you where the recipe is from, to warn you for making the same mistake. But M said mine didn’t remotely resemble the picture in the recipe, so I assume the mistake was all mine.)

8. Tomorrow is Meatless Mother’s Day. Honestly, I do not care if the children eat my food tomorrow. All I want for Mother’s Day is for them to be nice to me. All day. And do whatever I want.

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Filed under food, parenting, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

A Meatless Monday in May

(First of all: I refuse to believe that the runs that have afflicted several members of this family have anything to do with our current meatlessness.)

Meatless May really launched this evening because this weekend we were all out at various events. Some of us were meatless and some were not. Because I failed to plan properly, I had to cook what I had on hand this evening – like a contestant in one of those game shows (What’s in YOUR Pantry?), albeit a vegetarian version.

I made a sweet potato and red lentil soup that was mildly revolting. I threw some quinoa together for backup (as if everyone would eat it), and then I had a brainstorm: frittata! 

 Success! Although I wonder what it means when every single egg in the carton had a double yolk. Is that a sign of the apocalypse?

Sidney, true to form, refused all of the above and laid waste to six fish sticks I found in the back of the freezer. I don’t want to think about how long they had been there but I suspect they may have been a desperate purchase of the house’s previous owner.

Tomorrow I will be more organized. That’s a promise. And I’ll start making some of your recipes…

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Filed under children, food, parenting, Vegetarian

Spoiled? 

Several of my friends have written books, but it’s not every day that I get to review one.  Truth be told, I was not excited to read the The Opposite of Spoiled, by Ron Lieber. I avoid parenting books in general at this point, because I’m  sure that all the damage I’ve already done by not reading enough parenting books is …. irreversible.



I frankly did not want to know that it’s not okay for my child to ask me to order something on Amazon and then beg for next day delivery, because what’s a few more dollars, and who should be expected to wait for a glow in the dark football that shoots out water? I did not want to know that it’s okay for my child to take my phone, and order himself every iteration and spinoff of the House of Hades books because the wait at the library was too onerous? (A House of Hades cookbook? Really Rick Riordan? You need more money? What happened – did your yacht get lonely and need another yacht?) I REALLY did not want to know that it’s okay for my child to have no idea what “onerous” means because he spends too much time paying for episodes of television shows that I have not authorized.

But really, as my children will tell you, and as I have written before, I am a sucker for anything in a glass jar and I secretly wondered if reading this book would allow me to buy three glass jars and label them GIVE, SAVE, and SPEND, even if they collect dust on my window-sill next to all my other glass jars. 

Here’s what I learned: First of all, if it’s never too late to change your kids’ diets (Laffy Taffy, be gone with you!), or the way you speak to your children (as it turns out, adolescents do not respond well to sarcasm. Who knew?), then it is also never too late to start talking about money in a way that will make your children more responsible with money — your money, and their money, which is really just your money in their pockets. I also learned that if you are worried about your children being too materialistic, then they probably are not, because materialism is a way you see the world and is really about what you value most. I learned that it is just as important to teach kids about trade offs and saving as it is to teach them how to floss their teeth. Given that there are toothbrushes in this house that are months old, but look like they have never seen a day of use, I am hoping to have more luck with money than I did with teeth. 

The nice thing about this book is that it actually tells you where to start. 

The first three people to comment on this blog, will receive a copy of this book sent by ME. 

And now I must go. I have some jars to label…. 

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Filed under children, parenting, Uncategorized

Seriously though…

The groundhog saw his shadow yesterday.

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(Pic courtesy of Sid’s pre-school teachers who sent home this insanely cute groundhog.) Six more weeks of winter, according to Puxatawney Phil, Groundhog in Chief.

A little closer to home: Apparently there is a Staten Island groundhog who did not see his shadow, meaning that Spring is around the corner.

I’ll let the hogs hash it out. I like winter (there, I said it) and am ok with several more weeks.

A few confessions though:

— I have no idea what black ice is. I’ve never seen it and am not sure anyone has. But people like to pepper it into conversation in a knowing, smuggish way. (She was fine until she hit that black ice; watch out for that black ice…) Frankly, I think it’s all a hoax. A smug people hoax.

— I am hungry all the time in the winter. Snow days are basically an excuse for me to eat the entire contents of my fridge, pantry, and Costco overflow while simultaneously slipping on snow the kids have trekked through the house and yelling at children to turn things off.

— As the season of indoor fire, winter makes me nervous. And not surprisingly (given that Hannukah is basically an excuse for my boys to try to set the house aflame), my phone now corrects “season” to “arson.”

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— The longer you spend out of a bathing suit, the more likely you are to look awful in one.

— As a friend pointed out recently, snow days take on a different meaning as an adult. Yes, there is still a frisson of excitement when snow falls, when it’s announced, when the day is stretched out in front of you, but a few hours in when you’ve run out of marshmallows and feel more like a disenfranchised short order cook than a giddy child, when all the things you have to do get pushed off to another day, displacing all sorts of other things you have to do, it’s time to go back to school.

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Filed under children, Flu season, New York City, parenting, snow, weather, winter

Snow shoes, snow day.

It’s that time of year again.

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Which also means this.

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.. Turning my sneakers into show shoes so I can get out and run.

It’s our first snow day of the year and I volunteered to shovel just to get out the house and away from wiping kitchen counters and responding to the near-constant calls for help and attention. To be clear, shoveling snow is yet another thing at which I’m complete rubbish. Still, it beats “she got more than me,”or “he took mine,” or “I tried to spread the jam but it slid off the bagel and onto the floor,” or “I tried to wipe myself and now it’s all over the outside of the bowl,” (How in God’s name does that even happen?”) or my own personal favorite, “I refuse to eat a bagel with seeds.”

I’m attempting to enforce some child labor (their words) around here. Oldest child made crepes last night and then I actually made him clean up (no, that is not what I’m for).

Him: “hey, this is really cool. What do you call it?”

Me: “a dish rack.”

My work is long, people.

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Filed under New York City, parenting, snow, weather, winter