The Tooth Fairy.

I blame television. I know, without shadow of doubt, that I did not introduce my two-year-old to the concept of the Tooth-Fairy. I wouldn’t have.

You see, my girl lacks patience, but does just fine with surprises. Which is why we have a play-date coming over in about half-an-hour, but she has no idea. It’s easier for her to just be surprised than be patient. It’s easier for me too.

So, I would have never told her about the Tooth-Fairy years before it will come for her. I’m kind of a stickler, see; the Tooth-Fairy only comes for lost teeth. Fiona insists that she comes for new teeth as well. Which makes sense as she really wants the tooth fairy to come and she’s getting her two-year-old molars in now. (Also, this really does make some of the random behavior things we’ve been dealing with make sense. She’s been especially volatile lately.)

With that in mind, this is the story of the Tooth-Fairy, as told to me by Fiona last week in the car:

” The tooth fairy coming, Mommy. Like Santa. In a sleigh from the North Cold. She going to bring me a gallon of bubbles and a puppy. She bring presents for Mommy and Daddy, too. A new phone and a new po-cuter [computer]. She very nice. I will play Angry Birds on Mommy’s new phone. I get lots of bubbles. I have brand new big girl teeth, so the tooth-fairy she come. The puppy bark.”

Wow, she’s never given me quite so many words in a row as that before. Clearly this tooth-fairy person is important. There are some rules I’d like to explain to her though, that I believe she has missed.

First, coins. The tooth-fairy brings coins. If you’re very lucky you get a golden Sacajawea Dollar. The tooth-fairy is subject to inflation, but not commercialization. You do not get large presents!

Second, seriously, Kiddo, you don’t get the coins until you lose the teeth. It’s that simple. You don’t get special presents for acquiring teeth. Only for losing them. I’m not really sure why, but that’s the way it is.

Third, when did all the fairytale gift givers move to the North Pole. It’s got to be colder than witches britches up there. Why would normally happy, sunny-weather folk like the Easter Bunny and the Tooth-Fairy move there?

There are rules. The Tooth-Fairy will follow them. It’s just the way it is. Even if it would be awesome to have a puppy, a new phone and a new computer.


Hair: Wherein, I Become Ranty

Seriously. People.

Get a grip. I know she flipping looks like Shirley Temple.

Shirley Temple. Image courtesy

Fiona, in the grass last summer. This photo is was taken by my good friend, Krisheena,

I know she’s cute and super friendly. I know she has amazing hair. Even if I didn’t have eyes, I have working ears and people have told me. A lot of people. I swear at least five people commented on her hair at Winco’s today. Five.

Can’t you people find something better to focus on? For crying-out-loud, she was reading the aisle numbers, counting the veges as we put them into the bags, and did a lovely rendition of “Mary had a little duck” at full volume. She introduced each of you to her bunny. She even told one of you that bunny likes carrots.

She is amazing. She would be amazing even if she were bald! Jumping Jacks and Jam!

No. I don’t do it to her. (Who the F- would try to curl a two-year-olds hair???)  Yes, it is natural. No, I’m not going to be entering her into pageants.

Also, Little-Old-Lady, when you ask if I did that to her hair, and I answer that, no, it’s just genetics. Don’t contradict me and say that god curled her hair. I really doubt that god reached into my uterus with his magic curling iron and carefully teased her pretty little golden locks into place. Even if you believe in that, in this particular case accept that it involved genetics. No Magic Divine Hairdresser. Genetics!

People, kids are cute. They’re also people! If you keep telling my girl that she’s cute, if you keep obsessing over how cute she is, you’re going to make my job harder. It’s hard enough to keep a girl from becoming body obsessed in this stupid, freaking image obsessed world, so please don’t make this harder. She listens when you tell me that her hair is “so cute”!

It’s gotten pretty bad. Lately, she’s started going up to people and introducing herself with the phrase, “Hi! I Fiona. I have cute hair.” I’m trying to teach her to say how old she is, or that she knows her abc’s, or any other normal thing.

So, please, until I can explain the concept of modesty, could we please lay off about the hair? Please?

Okay. I’m done ranting now.

Feminist Mommy

As the mother of a daughter, I find myself paying closer attention than I ever have before to the discussions of feminism and the rights and roles of women in our country. In a just world women and men would be treated equally and afforded equal opportunities throughout their lives.  Despite opinions to the contrary, this simply isn’t true.

It would seem that there are people out there who feel that by leaving the workforce to raise my daughter, that I am personally undermining feminism. Weird. Honestly, what it came down to was that economically, practically, and temperamentally, I was better suited to staying home with her than my husband was.  I was, and always will be a feminist, and my ability and choice to stay with my daughter does not undermine that.

It’s interesting to me though, that my choice was so influenced by things that happened long before I had any say in my life at all. Part of it, of course, stems from the nutritional advantage of breast milk and the practical benefit of simply being present to nurse, but so much more of it stem from things that are actually part of the very system that feminism is fighting.

Men earn more than women. Even when you account for time spent on the job and education and overall competence.  When more women move into a particular field, the wages actually steadily decrease. Meaning that if a field of work is considered women’s work, that it will be socially and economically marginalized.

Women are socialized differently than men throughout our lifetimes. Boys are encouraged to be aggressive, assertive and show leadership. Girls are encouraged to cooperate, play nicely, and share.

By around age two mothers use almost three times as much number related language with boys than they do with girls. Boys are given balls, and cars, and nerf guns, and legos. Girls are give dolls and ponies and toy kitchens. Is it any wonder that we see boys out performing girls in math and science by the end of their middle school years?

So, what does it mean, to me, to be a Feminist Mommy to a toddler daughter? It means that we talk about math. It means that we encourage competition. It means that we play with cars and throw balls and build towers. It means that we talk about numbers. It means that when people tell me that she has beautiful hair, I tell them that she’s also really smart and that I think smart is more important.

It means that I systematically, and intentionally, teach her both sets of skills peacemaker and leader, language and math. It means that when I vote, I do so keeping not only my own desires for our world in mind, but also my daughters future. It means that I speak up when people reinforce stereotypes about women and about men. It means that I don’t tolerate rape culture. It means that I pay attention to the dynamic between my husband and I, and make sure that the example that we’re setting is one of equality and love.

I am Feminist Mommy. I am raising a woman who will know her worth and will not be afraid to delight in the feminine or the masculine and will know the difference between those and the simply human. With any luck, I’m raising a feminist.

Motherhood: Weak Stomachs Need Not Apply

If you have a weak stomach you may want to skip this post.

There’s really nothing like starting your day at 4:30 am with coughing and vomiting. Especially when it’s not your vomit. I got used to vomit while I was pregnant, but it really is different when it’s someone else’s. Especially when you’re wearing it.

I don’t like vomit. It’s gross. I really don’t like the kind of vomit that results from post nasal drip. It smells bad. Well, it smells like what it is, snot mixed with stomach acid, and it has the worst possible texture, warm slime.

That’s how my day started this morning: 4 a.m., coughing child, slime-puke.

I’ve been puked on a lot since all this started. I may actually be a pro at getting puked on. I know how to get as little as possible on me or her. I know how to angle the girl so she’s pointed at the most washable object possible. (No couches, mattresses, or floors – they don’t fit in the washing machine.) Yep, I could definitely take this show on  the road, except that it would be exceedingly gross and require getting puked on more… Yeah, on second thought, I’ll pass.

I really have been puked at a lot (that last paragraph got away from me a little…). When I brought Fiona home from the hospital, it didn’t feel real. I kept feeling a little like I’d escaped with a child and any minute the proper authorities would pound down my door and demand her back. It might be part of why I was so resistant to letting anyone hold her. What can I say? I have issues.

I spent three days feeling like nothing was really real. I was trying to get the hang of her. She wanted to nurse all the time and I was lousy at burping her. So, eventually, she did what all babies do when there is a large bubble of air trapped under about 45 minutes worth of nursing. She puked.

I was not an expert on puking at that point. I was the complete opposite of an expert. She puked straight down my shirt. Vomit blasted into my bra and flowed straight through to my waist. She threw up so much milk that I had to change every stitch of everything that both of us were wearing. Did you know that stomach acid curdles breast milk?

We stripped, showered, and sat back down to fill up her belly again. The second time we stopped every 10 minutes to burp, even if she didn’t want to. I can be taught.

The weird thing is, that’s the moment it became real. All that puke, and that was the moment that I finally realized that I got to keep her. She was mine and no one was going to take her away from me. I was a newly christened mommy. Blessed.

The food allergies mean that I got to see a LOT more puke. I’ve seen the kind of puke that burns when it comes up. I’ve seen frothy puke. I’ve seen puke that contains food that, I’m reasonably certain, is at least a week old. For the first year, most of this puke landed on me.

See, sick babies like to snuggle. The sicker they are, the more they feel that the best place on earth is within six inches of mommy’s face.  It took a while to learn the warning signs and then it took a while longer to hold on to my presence of mind long enough to grab a container.

Sometimes there is no container available, that’s when your instincts kick in and you catch it with your hands. This is how I’ve come to personally know all the many varied and disgusting textures of vomit.

There are many horrible textures: chunky, like canned stew,  frothy, gooey, etc. I could go on, but I imagine you’re all a bit green by now. Suffice it to say, slimy is the worst.

Sugar is dangerous.

Food is yummy. Especially chocolate.  Despite this, we’re trying, as a family to eat healthier. I pretty much like most foods, though. I do draw the line at one of Fiona’s creations, chocolate almond milk over Cheerios. Yuck! But, she seems to like it so I usually allow it, as a treat.

I don’t allow it as a replacement for the turkey sandwich that she asked for less than five minutes ago. Just… No. My main reason being that it takes more than sugar to power a growing little girl.

I tried explaining this.

“Fiona, Sweetheart, you have to eat your turkey sandwich. You need the healthy energy in it. You need the protein in it. You can’t have the chocolate milk, it’s full of sugar. Sugar is tasty, but we can only eat a little bit of it or else we feel icky.”

She looked at me and frowned, “Sugar make me feel icky?”

I nodded, happy that my point was getting through to her, “That’s right!”

“Oh.” She said, “If I eat sugar I be on fire!”

“What? No!” I said, wondering where she got that, “No, you’ll just feel icky.”

“No. I eat sugar I be on fire. I burst right in flames!” She nodded emphatically. “I have a cookie?”

I’m really not sure what to say to that. It’s so far astray that I’m pretty sure that the path got turned into a cactus and we’re actually on a space-shuttle to our new home on mars. “No, you can’t have a cookie. Would you like regular milk on Cheerios or would you like your sandwich?”

I learned something today. Sugar is far more dangerous than I could have possibly imagined. Evidently, it causes spontaneous combustion in creative toddlers.

Use your time wisely

“You have about 45 minutes remaining. Use your time wisely.”

Does anybody else remember doing the standardized tests and having your teachers say this to the class?  I always loved it because that was my cue to start skipping questions that I didn’t know the answers to, so that I could come back to them if I had the time. It was my heads up that it was time to focus on just the important stuff.

That’s how I feel about naps. As I’m writing this, Fiona is sleeping (I think because we’re cutting out all screen time today), and she’ll probably sleep for another 45 minutes or so.

I have choices about what I can do with this time. I can do nothing. I can amble aimlessly about the Internet or I could clean my bathrooms or I could focus on the things that actually matter. I can pick an art project and work on it. I can write. I can call a friend. I can do something just for me.

Strange isn’t it, how random lines from our childhoods echo after us?

“You have 45 minutes. Use your time wisely.” I think I need to apply this to her awake time too…

(14 hours later)

… so my bathrooms still haven’t been scrubbed, but we built a robot. It seemed like a wiser use of our time.

I was wrong. I’m sorry.

So, what do you do when you go back and you re-read a post and you realize that you missed the point of what you were trying to say and that it rippled out onto the people who read it? That’s what happened when I put together that post about spanking. I had a point, but I lost the thread of it and started lashing out.

I’m sorry. I got mad when I was looking stuff up and that came through in my post.

One of the things that made me so angry was that, while looking up articles on the effectiveness of spanking, I came across several forum posts asking for ways to make spanking children more painful so that it would “stick” better. The responses to these included ways to make it more painful by using an object to hit children and ways to make it more shameful by including friends and neighbors in the punishment, all while warning that parents should be “careful not to leave marks” because then “self-righteous” people would take their children away.

It left me angry. It left me feeling ill. As most of these posts were by people espousing Christianity, it left me lashing out at all associations with people who would abuse their children in this way, including religion.

I don’t think I’m wrong about spanking, but I do think that I was wrong about the way that I snarked at all people who spank as abusive, and I do think I was very wrong for taking my frustrations at the subject on Christianity and the Bible.

I was wrong and I’m sorry.