Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Thousand Years

Last night I sat at the dining room table, staring at my son.  Freckles and sun covered cheeks.  Blue eyes that look nothing like my brown.  Soccer shirt tucked oddly in the band of his Umbros.  Sometimes I have no idea how I had anything to do with creating him.

He was telling me about recess.  Who knew second grade recess was so structured.

"I played kickball, but Patrick played punt and catch.  The girls just talk.  Bleh."

"Oh.  What's punt and catch?"

Both he and my husband sighed, sharing a secret guy look.  "You kick the football, the other guy catches it, and then kicks it back.  Geesch, Mom."

And it occurred to me I don't know what little boys do.  G has reached the "without Mommy" stage and has been there for the last 18 months.  Growing up, my own little brother was 6 years younger than me and I didn't spent much time getting to know him.  (My loss.)  So I don't know this stuff, despite having been a parent for the last 15 years.  Ask me about American Girl Doll stuff, though, and I've got you covered.

"Well, you know, buddy, I've never done this before."

They all stared at me over their Alfredo.

"I've never had a little boy.  You're it.  You're the first.  You're my guinea pig, bud."

J sniffed indignantly in the chair next to me.  Apparently I wounded her sense of eldest child superiority.

Then we cleaned up dinner (well, except for a stray glass of milk which is still lingering on the dining room table reminding me I'm a slacker) and they went on with their evening.  I headed to work for a board meeting.  On my way down the hill I started picturing what it would be like to raise another boy.  I thought about how that is what I'm supposed to be doing right now, but Andrew wasn't meant to grow up and would forever be a baby in my mind.  And then "this one" kicked me.  Hard.

"I know.  I know you're there," I reassured her.  She flipped over and seemed to find a comfy spot against my bladder.

And then, for the first time in the 20 weeks I've been pregnant, I started to think about how this baby will fit into this family.  Until now I've felt like keeping this baby at a distance was safer.  I've only pictured coming home empty handed again, having to face diaper bags I'll never use and a little yellow outfit from Gymboree being packed away in the box next to Andrew's.  Another set of ashes on the bookshelf, tugging at my heart every day.

But instead I started to picture this baby:  Brown eyes, this time, maybe?  And dark, curly hair like mine.  Or maybe she'll look just like her siblings with their honey brown hair and striking blue eyes.  Maybe this baby will actually eat veggies, unlike her big brother.  Where will we put the high chair?  What kind of stroller should I get this time?  How are we going to still do everything we currently do and make sure this baby still gets to be a baby?  What are we going to NAME this baby?

Then this wicked cheesy song came on the radio:

And I realized I'm finally falling in love with the idea of having a baby and letting go of the fear of losing her.  

(I always think of this baby as a girl because it helps me distinguish between the pregnancies.  We'll know in a few weeks.)

Monday, March 12, 2012

How much has changed...

So this baby will be our fifth.  Granted, there are all but 10 years between G and this baby, but it's all the same, right?  I have the basics covered:  I know how to diaper and burp and swaddle and bathe.  I'm prepared for 3 - 4  months of sleepless nights.  I know better than to fall into the marketing traps that make me believe that the latest and greatest gadget will make my life easier.  (The heart beat bear, the light up mobile, the wedge that keeps babies on their sides... I am sure there are oodles of new ones.)  I've dealt with Colic and reflux.  I've dealt with choking (scary!!) and pink eye.  I breastfed successfully and for well beyond the year that the doctor recommends.  I've potty trained, weaned, and tracked down lost socks.  I'm the queen of deftly avoiding, ignoring, and circumventing temper tantrums.  I'm even almost come to terms with the c-section recovery.

Every time I visit a baby related website, I read articles - or at the very least I read headlines - and I remember how voraciously I read the exact same things 15, 12, and 8 years ago.  Now I look at them and find them feeling... recycled.  Babies don't change.  Baby gear only get shinier and more complicated, but the function is the same.  So what am I going to find to read about pregnancy that I haven't read before... or that won't scared the flibberty jibbets out of me?  Hm.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Sorry, folks, but bratty kids don't make me want to buy your stuff

So I was snuggling with G this morning, folding laundry, watching Cars on DisneyXD, and generally enjoying a very rare slow morning.  And suddenly THIS lands in my living room:

Seriously?  Obnoxious kid rapping his way into my living room.  Not okay.  So I sent an email to this site:

Subject: Commerical
Just a quick note to let you know I just saw the commercial on Disney XD this morning and I will NEVER let me children use this site based on the obnoxious behavior in that ad.  I don't care how great your site may be or what it offers, I will not support a company that perpetuates that kind of behavior and attitude.
Mother of 4

I didn't give it a second thought.  BUT then I got this in response.

My name is Cliff Boro; I am the CEO and Co-Founder of Your email to our customer service team was forwarded to me.  
While I am of course sorry to hear that you have an issue with our advertising, I am surprised by your email. We are currently running two commercials, each featuring a very-talented 9-year old boy (known as MattyB). One commercial is a “directors skit”, and it’s a song about and he’s acting like a kid-star. The second commercial also positions Matty as a child-star but it’s actually about his new song “That’s the Way”. I’m not sure which commercial you saw but please know that Matty is actually a star on YouTube — his videos have now been seen over 100 million times. He has been celebrated on the Today Show and elsewhere — not just because of his talent — but because all of his songs and videos are positive and about kids/people empowerment. While we are not affiliated with any religion as a Company — please know that Matty describes himself as a “Christian rapper”.
Here’s a sampling of some of Matty’s work:
1. (His music video that we are advertising)
2. (MatyB celebrating his sister)
3. (Matty with puppies)  
I would like you to also know more about Our company has spent over $15 million dollars to hire hundreds of teachers and parents across the country to review over 5 million appropriate videos, games, images and YouTube videos for kids. To our knowledge, we’ve created the largest selection of kids-appropriate content in the world. Our products have been honored at the US Senate and I personally was honored by the White House in September for as a “Champion of Change”. We’ve also been recognized as the innovator in making the Internet better for kids, receiving numerous awards and honors.  
We live in a free country and you are certainly entitled to form whatever opinions you’d like, and to parent your children in the manner you deem appropriate. However, please know that we are extremely proud of our products and our advertising with MattyB. Our passion and purpose is to make the Internet big, fun and safe for kids — and Matty is all about entertaining kids (and grownups) by spreading positive messages about kindness, love and tolerance. He happens to use rap as a medium — but I hope that you don’t blame that art form for his message.  
In any case, I do thank you for writing to us. I hope that you will re-consider your position on MattyB and our Company. However, in any case, I do hope that you find a way to give your kids the best aspects of the Internet in a manner that suits your ideals and values.
Clifford T. BoroCEO and Co-Founder phone: 858-777-8200 email:

In this email, Cliff accuses me of hating rap.  Maybe not my favorite form of entertainment, but that wasn't even the point.  He misses the point entirely.  The. Kid. Is. Rude.  And that kind of behavior isn't okay.  The ad told me nothing about what this Zui site has to offer other than obnoxious behavior.   I'm thrilled they've created jobs and created a kid-safe site... but do they have to perpetuate bratty behavior to get kids to log on?

I replied:
This is what I saw this morning on Disney XD.  The beginning section where he demands "complete control" was on Disney XD shortly before I sent my original email.  This child says - and I quote  - "old people yell get off the internet".  Really?  Old people?  Controlling the internet?  I thought that was our JOB as parents.  So these insulting and rude lyrics are being hurled into my living room and the result is supposed to make me want to allow my children to visit your website?  And I am supposed to trust your site to have any sort of values?  What values is that commercial teaching?  "It's okay to insult parents and belittle their rules as long as I get my own way"?  Children imitate what they see online and on television.  That commercial, that attitude, and that general sense of entitlement are not behaviors I will ever value.  I couldn't care less which form of music he uses to advertise your site; what's frustrating is that the first time I've seen this child, this is the image he's been told to project at the hands of the adults around him.   
In general my children don't watch much television because they are involved in sports, church, and Scouts.  When they do, it's been recorded on TiVo and commercials are immediately skipped.  Your ad was only an issue today because they have a day off and my son and I were watching a movie together before he went to a friend's house.  The joy of living in a free country is that I can and will have the opinion that this is not behavior I want my children to copy or a business I want to support.  I used it as an opportunity to teach my 8 year old that behavior like that will get him nowhere in our home.  So maybe a thank you is in order... thank you for this ridiculousness as it allowed me to take 20 seconds out of my day to remind my son what behaviors will and won't fly in this house.  And thank you for the lovely conversation my husband I had about whether DisneyXD is a channel will will continue to let the kids watch.  It's always good to reevaluated and re-filter what enters our home.  

So  Get better marketing folks...


Thank you for the additional information and perspective. The ad is intended (and us usually enjoyed) as being “tongue-in-cheek” -- it speaks to kids from the vantage and attitude of a “star rapper” -- but it’s clear as the ad plays out that this is a lovely kid telling kids to go to a website that has great things for kids. Most parents tell us that they don’t have nearly enough energy or time to curate the Internet for their kids and they love that we do this for them. As you must know as a parent of four children — kids like what kids like. If we told kids to visit because it’s safe and only has content that has been vetted by teachers — no kids would come. The whole ad campaign is about a great kid telling other kids to visit the site — in a language and tone that kids get. 

I wish you and your family well — and although we seem to disagree on our advertisement and approach, I nonetheless sincerely appreciate your taking the time to express your thoughts. 

Clifford T. BoroCEO and Co-Founder phone: 858-777-8200 email:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

View from the Parking Lot

Sitting outside my children’s school.  Apparently there was some sort of stranger situation during the after school program yesterday.  My kids don’t go to the after care program... but oddly, I am not the only parent here, working away on a laptop and watching as the kids skitter and jump and generally goof around. 

I bought an outfit for the baby today.  Little, yellow, simple.  Probably not a big deal, really.  It was on super-clearance at Gymboree.  But now I don’t know where to put it.  What few things I had stored away for Andrew are tucked among my socks in my top dresser drawer, but it seems odd to put his things with the new baby’s things.  All of his pictures and hospital bands and the cards we were sent are in a box in the top of my closet.  I guess it makes sense to let the new baby use her (or his) brother’s things, right?  I don’t know.  Are there rules for this sort of thing?

In other news, I scheduled J’s first college visit.  COLLEGE.  She’s almost 15.  I know we have time, but I also know my daughter.  She’s not one to warm quickly to things, so the idea of college and dorms and the responsibility that comes with all of it will take her a very long tim to wrap her head around.  She wants to go into theatrical engineering.  And at almost-15, I think that’s a great thing to aspire to.  She knows she needs to be a strong math student to go into any sort of engineering and given that she’s carrying a 97 in freshman algebra, I think she’s got that in the bag... for now.  

K served at the 7:00 Mass last night.  I had to work, so I snuck in late.  I was just in time to hear the priest talk a bit about listening for God in the silence.  I have to find the silence first, though... because nothing is my life exists without noise.  I’m working on reducing the noise - the visual noise on my calendar as well as the clutter and chaos that surrounds me.  Is there a 12-step program for that?

The kids are getting lined up and ready to hop in the van.  I have to steel myself against the noise of a second grader who needs at least 20 minutes of chaos to unwind after a full day of school.  Too bad I can’t find God amongst the insanity... if I could, He and I would talk nonstop. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Contractions and interviews and uniforms, oh my!

Okay, God?  Universe? Magical Pregnancy Fairy?  Whoever is listening, make a note.  I am NOT dealing with contractions at 16 weeks.  So knock it off.  I will not wake up at 1 in the morning with contractions.  I don't care of they aren't "painful".  "Painful" is subjective, anyway.  I do not want to wait 2 hours to hear back from the doctor's office after I call and very calmly explain my concern.  I don't want to end up in the doctor's office for an emergency heartbeat check ever again.  SO just stop. Now.

In other news, our local parent magazine was published today.  They included a special pull out summer camp edition.  And guess whose children are featured in the sleep away camp story?  Mine!  K & G were interviewed by the editor a few weeks and and now they are in there, proudly saying things like, "Take extra toilet paper to kill bugs!" and "Take binoculars, but don't use them while you're walking!"  Sound advice, right?  So that's awesome.

My Cub Scout uniform still fit last night.  We'll see how long that continues to be the case.  We have our Blue & Gold banquet in 2 weeks and then the University of Scouting 2 weeks after that.  Uniforms are important for both of those events... but I'm not going to sweat it.  Committee chairs tend to exist in the background... it's not vital that I wear it.

My Girl Scout uniform just arrived.  I haven't opened it.  I ordered it a size big so I could wear it for Girl Scout Sunday next weekend.  Gotta say, the Girls do a much better job than the Boys at adult uniforms.

For someone who spent many years in Catholic school, hating uniforms like crazy, I suddenly seem to have quite a few of them!

Now if I can just get my uterus to settle down and stop contracting, we'll be golden.  Is it possible my nerves are causing this?