Fun Dad (#264)

I was primary caregiver to our son. This meant that I was also primary disciplinarian, Sayer of “No,” Destroyer of Fun.

It’s no picnic parenting a headstrong, contrary child. Ideally a parent can redirect a toddler to a non-destructive activity. But sometimes, you just gotta say no. Then you have to back it up with consequences. Otherwise, you’re raising a privileged monster who flouts the rule of law and does whatever the hell he wants. (You know, your basic born affluent white man.)

Take pets. Baby D loved our cats. He only learned to crawl in order to chase them. He had to be taught to pet them instead of sit on them. Then he had to be taught to pet them in the direction of their fur. Once he learned that, he had to be taught not to pull their tails at the end of petting. “Make a hole with your fingers and thumb, when you reach the tail,” I’d instruct Baby D. “Then let the tail slide through your fist until it’s free! Ta-da!”

I spent every day training Baby D to not pull on dogs, other children, plants, or electrical cords.

If I wasn’t telling him not to pull those things, I was telling him not to bite those things.

Hit those things.

Throw those things.

There were timeouts and tantrums.

All that fun began about 5 AM. Naps? One. Length? Half-hour.

There were many, many days, when we waited on the front steps for reinforcements Daddy to come home.

Baby D’s face lit up the second he saw Daddy. Here was the fun person! The person who pretended to be a bucket truck and lifted him in the air! Or rolled on the floor as a steamroller!

“Dada” was Baby D’s first word, of course.

And once Dada was home, Mama held no more interest for Baby D.

Mama was okay with that. Mostly. Baby D and I had our own games. But they never seemed to have the same level of physicality that made Baby D shriek with delighted laughter. “More! Dada, more!”

Dada was also responsible for bath time, which involved more laughter and infinite tsunamis over the tub edge.

There were times when Mama seemed to get all the mopping and Dada got all the fun.

Until Dada took Baby D to Hawaii. Without Mama.

Those of you without kids are all, “Wait. A Hawaiian vacation? That seems like MORE fun!”

Those of you with kids are like, “Quelle horror! A vacation with a toddler is not a vacation!”

Andy had five days as the primary caregiver (his parents were no help at all). He  lasted five hours before calling me and ranting about “my” obstinate child.

He called every day, in fact, to vent his frustrations.

But it wasn’t all bad. Baby D and Andy did have some fun times at the beach.

Andy was very proud of these storytelling photos.

I got a little more sleep than usual, despite sick pets and worrying over whether the boys would survive each other.

But we were all relieved on the day Andy and Baby D came home. I waited impatiently at the airport, waving like a lunatic as Baby D’s stroller appeared.

I’d been hoping that Baby D would be at least as excited to see Mommy as he was when Daddy came home from work.  Instead, he just stared as I  pulled him into my arms.

I covered him with kisses and said, “Hi, Baby! Mommy missed you so much!”

Baby D said nothing for several seconds while I cuddled him in the corner of baggage claim.

Then a fat little hand reached up and caressed my face. “Mommy,” Baby D said, almost as if in awe. “Mommy.”

For five minutes, in a small corner of LAX, my little boy touched my face and wonderingly whispered, “Mommy. Mommy. Mommy.” As if I were a miracle.

A Fun Dad is a great thing for a child. But you know what?

I’ll take Miracle Mommy.

Parental Expectations: East vs. West (#263)

My husband had Chinese-American parents. Mine were white, uptight, and Anglo-Saxon Protestant/ Atheist.

Andy was expected to obey his parents without question. If his parents said his curfew was 10 PM, Andy was home at 10 PM. If Andy’s father wanted to sit on the couch and watch TV, Andy could forget about participating in Little League or any other sport.

I was expected to obey, but not without question. My mom was an attorney. Dinner table discussions in her house ranged from abortion to capital punishment. Everyone was encouraged to express their own opinions and defend them. If I could present a good argument for a curfew change or pierced ears, these items might be considered. (Lost on curfew, won on pierced ears.) Continue reading Parental Expectations: East vs. West (#263)

Don’t Whine, Ditch That White Boy (#259)

There’s plenty of whining on social media.

My favorite GOP whine, which I find hilarious as a former Washingtonian, comes from current Trump/ Republican staffers in D.C. The Trumpers complained that they are harassed and ostracized by locals; instead of touting their proximity to power as Obama staffers did, they vaguely mumble about working for the government when asked about their jobs. (I love you, D.C.!)

A similarly entertaining whine comes from the 62% of white American males who voted for Trump: women hate them. Women won’t date them. Women will actually ditch them in the middle of a date, upon learning that they are GOP supporters. Women have divorced husbands who voted for Trump.

Meanwhile, on Twitter and Instagram, my fellow white women are also whining, especially those who are college-educated and have advanced degrees. It’s apparently quite hard to find a white partner who is educated, motivated, unthreatened by a woman’s success, shares domestic chores, and doesn’t cheat.

That squares with what I remember back when I was dating.

It also squares with what I’ve heard from other Mom-friends at book clubs or playdates: their white husbands suck. Continue reading Don’t Whine, Ditch That White Boy (#259)

Andy’s Guide to Gift-Giving (and Marriage) #245

Once upon a time, my future husband gave me thoughtful, expensive presents. On one of our early dates, we rode an elephant together (before we knew better, sorry, wildlife defenders everywhere). Elephants had been my favorite animal as a child, in part because “elephants never forget.” Not being forgotten is the childhood fantasy of every middle child in an enormous family who has been left at school, ballet, or the Trailways bus station.

Andy didn’t forget why I loved elephants or our date. Andy got me a gold and emerald elephant pendant for Christmas that year.

Andy learned I liked old-fashioned, unique jewelry. He found an Edwardian ring design and worked with a jeweler to have it modified and cast in platinum for an engagement ring. 

I said yes. Eventually

Continue reading Andy’s Guide to Gift-Giving (and Marriage) #245

Something Is Under the House (#236)

I thought I’d made peace with the freaky-assed crawl space below our house in Los Angeles. It’s not a nice, solid basement, but makes sense to have easy access to plumbing and the electrical lines for our drip system. And after multiple years, the only scary thing lurking under our house had turned out to be our own mischievous dog.

Until recently. Continue reading Something Is Under the House (#236)

Dirt (#190)

My husband is particular about his dirt.

Andy in the garden. With beans, tomatoes, pumpkins, kale, and chard.

Andy has a strawberry patch, a greenhouse, and several gardens. The dirt has to be just right for each. He tested our vegetable garden’s acidity and found it wanting. Andy added bone meal. Now our tomatoes never rot on the vine. He deemed the soil in our Southern California neighborhood too sandy and started compost piles to reduce our vegetable waste to richer, more microbe-laden dirt.

When he ordered worms (and special dirt for the worms), I protested, saying we already had TWO compost piles. Continue reading Dirt (#190)