Archive for August, 2009

Bamm-Bamm lives…

Posted in Mommy stuff with tags , , on August 25, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

I realize that admitting I was a big fan of the Flintstones growing up, probably dates me a bit. I can deal with that. But, can we at least say that I was very very young when I watched. No, really, I was. For those of you deprived of this fantastic show, here is a brief overview:

 The Flintstones is set in the town of Bedrock in the Stone Age era. The show is an allegory to American society of the mid-20th century; in the Flintstones’ fantasy version of the past, dinosaurs, saber-toothed tigers, woolly mammoths,  and other long extinct animals co-exist with barefoot cavemen, who use technology very similar to that of the mid-20th century, although made entirely from pre-industrial materials and largely powered through the use of various animals. The characters drive cars made out of stone or wood and animal skins and powered by foot.

 Admit it, you’re DIEING to rush out and get the DVDs.

Anyhow, I’m assuming that most of you are familiar with the Flintstones, so I won’t go through the painstaking process of explaining to you who Bamm-Bamm Rubble was. Let’s just briefly say that he was the abnormally strong adopted son of Betty and Barney Rubble and would frequently be seen screaming “Bamm-Bamm” “Bamm-Bamm” while simultaneously swinging his toddler-sized club. Oh, yes, he was a charmer. I’m honestly not sure what Pebbles saw in him.

In any case, I always thought that Bamm-Bamm was a made-up character based on some clever animator’s idea. But, guess what, he lives! I know because I saw him first hand.

During our recent whirlwind tour of the East Coast, we decided to lay our weary heads (and suitcases) at a friend of my husband’s for a night. From here forward we’ll refer to them as D and M (for Daddy and Mommy). Although I wasn’t thrilled about making yet another stop for just one night, given that D is such an old friend of my husband’s I acquiesced. It also seemed to be a potentially good idea as they have two kids ages 5 and 2 and I thought that I should, at the very least, think about my daughter. How fun for her to have even MORE kids to play with? She’d already had so much fun with her cousins.

D&M live in New York State in a picturesque town. The kind you want to paint but don’t get good cell phone reception in. Upon arriving at their abode, we pulled up their long driveway, and I see a cute curly-headed toddler standing inside the door with a huge smile on his face. It was endearing, really. We soon made our way inside where we also met the five-year-old (I say “met” as we haven’t seen him in years) and waited for D (who works in Manhattan) to return from work. Shortly after making ourselves comfortable, the dynamic duo sprung into action– leaping from tall heights and moving objects. My first thought was “Boys will be boys.” But, shortly into the visit, I realized that something was up. The two-year-old seemed a bit aggressive. He was terrible with sharing and grabbed every toy that Ellie wanted to play with out of her hands. And, he was strong. Like, not normally strong.

Ellie soon thereafter discovered one of those cute “ride-on” cars in their living room. Not UNLIKE a Flintstone mobile. You climb in, manually close the door, and then move the car with your feet. A toddler’s dream, really. She was thoroughly enjoying herself, minding her own business, and looking very cute with her polo dress and pigtails and wide smile as she “rode” around the room. And, that’s when HE made his appearance.

The two-year old, who I’ll fondly refer to as Bamm-Bamm from here on out went full steam ahead toward Ellie, swung OPEN the door of the Flintstone mobile, grabbed her by the scruff of her neck, pulled her OUT of the car, and then threw her onto her back and head on the hardwood floor. It was like something out of the Sopranos. “Bamm-Bamm!” “Bamm-Bamm!”

To be fair to his mother, she did immediately go over to him and tell him that that wasn’t right and put him in a time-out on the couch. Now, I’m not one to judge other people’s parenting styles. I mean, it’s  not like I know what the hell I’m doing half the time. But, my kid does that and they’re getting a FIRM reprimand and time out in ANOTHER room away from everyone. And, the voice is being RAISED. They’re not getting a “suggested” time out that involves me coddling them on the couch under a blanket. I swear I even think she slipped him a boob.

Once we all recovered from the incident – Ellie had stopped crying, Bamm-Bamm was out of his time out– the kids started playing again. Ellie once again was playing by herself, this time on the couch with a doll. I was pleased to see how quickly she recovered. And, then, not actually believing what I was seeing, Bamm-Bamm heads straight for her with epic speed and with all his might grabs the front cradle of her hair and pulls as hard as he can. “Bamm-Bamm!” “Bamm-Bamm!”

Now I’m freakin’ pissed. To say the least.  Once again, Bamm-Bamm gets a reprimand. Once again, in a soft quiet “you really shouldn’t do that honey” kind of a way. Then Bamm-Bamm’s Mommy turns to Ellie and says, “Ellie, if Bamm-Bamm pulls your hair again, you just say, Bamm-Bamm, I don’t like that. Please don’t do that.”

Ok,  now while I appreciate where she’s going with this, these kids are TWO!  Ellie can’t handle a brute like this. Nor should she have to.

At this point I knew this whole visit was a bad idea but also knew I had to  accept that we couldn’t leave and would just have to make it through the night and then bolt early in the morning.

Fortunately, Bamm-Bamm’s Daddy, or D, came home soon thereafter and things calmed down a bit. That is, if you consider a two-year old scaling built-in cabinets trying to retrieve a hard-to-reach boxed milk and then falling on his bum while his Mom laughs calming down. I more mean that at least Bamm-Bamm left Ellie alone for a bit.

It became pretty clear to us over the course of the night, that D&M were just beaten down. The kids don’t really go to sleep well, they don’t stay asleep well, and they get up early. They don’t really have any boundaries, and were clearly running the household.

 The next morning (and suffice it to say, it was a loooong night with not much sleep) we got up and went in to give the kids breakfast. Soon after they were fed, the games were to begin again. Ellie would start screaming from another room and I would rush in and say “What’s wrong? What happened?” And, she’d look at me through tears and say “Bamm-Bamm!” “Bamm-Bamm!”. I didn’t really know what he was doing and fortunately didn’t see any blood so figured there wasn’t any long-lasting damage, but, then immediately thereafter, right in front of me, I’d see him go right up to her and push her HARD in the chest. At this point, I had to start stepping in. And, so, did PB (As a refresher, PB is my husband). Someone had to. Bamm-Bamm looked at us kind of surprised, amused, not sure. He didn’t seem to process what we were saying. Firm discipline? Huh?

About then, I started hearing that scary voice from that old Poltergeist movie – GET OUT. I immediately started to pack up while PB took a shower. The kids were continuing to “play” in the family room and then once again, screaming and crying coming from Ellie. I rush downstairs and what do I find?  Bamm-Bamm had gotten into PB’s duffel bag, taken out his tennis racket, UNZIPPED the case, took the racket out and was hitting Ellie with it. (He’s probably thinking – finally, a REAL club. After all, cave boys need clubs.)

It is about this time that my head nearly pops off and I begin to think about long term damage – about all the money I am going to need to fund my two-year-old’s therapy to recover from post-traumatic stress syndrome. I’m also thinking, what kind of mother am I to subject my child to such abuse! My heart is pounding and I’m fully engaged in the fight or flight mode as I furiously tell PB that we need to get out of there.

You’re probably thinking that this is the last of it, right? It must be. Well, sort of. There was one final incident of Ellie falling down the stairs that oh, I don’t know, probably took about 10 years off of my life and added about 15 more gray hairs. And, although, Bamm-Bamm wasn’t directly indicated in the fall, you can be SURE that he was right there on the stairs with her, nearby, taunting, as only Bamm-Bamm can.  His Mommy seemed concerned about Ellie falling, of course, and responded with “Did he push her?” It was a fair question and an easy assumption. Once we assured her that he didn’t, she said “Oh, do you not have stairs in your house?” Well, um, no maam we don’t, but, Ellie has been going up and downstairs on her own for a long time just fine. She’s just not used to a little cave boy breathing down her neck, screaming Bamm-Bamm and swinging a club at her. Forgive me if she’s feeling a little uncoordinated this morning. (Excuse me for sounding so snarky but you know how protective a lioness can get over her young.)

We finally made it out of there, wheels screeching down the road swearing never to return.

Truthfully, we feel for Bamm-Bamm. After all, he’s only two. He needs to be shown the ropes. He needs to learn boundaries. He needs to learn how to navigate social situations with his peers. And, on some level, I even feel for his parents. Parenting is a hard gig. Harder than I ever imagined. I wish them the best because they’ve got quite a road ahead of them.

For me, I think I’ll  just stick to television Bamm-Bamm. He seems to be a lot safer.

He looks so innocent here too, doesn't he?

He looks so innocent here too, doesn't he?

 

*Photo is courtesy of  i-love-cartoons.com.

Vacation…

Posted in Tiny spaces with tags , , on August 22, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

This past week I returned from a week long trip to the East Coast or as I like to call it, the Tour de Tri-England (that’s Tri-State and New England combined) with the husband and toddler.  We traveled to three states and five cities. Rather than regaling you with all of the details of the trip, for fear of you falling face first into your keyboard, I thought I would just recall some of the highlights:

Lake house–What could be better than spending a few days at a beautiful home situated right on a lake in Massachusetts? Maybe taking a ride in a boat on said lake. Or, spending long overdue time with your three favorite nieces and brother and sister-in-law. Visiting them and their lake house was the primary reason for the whirlwind tour and it was even more beautiful than imagined.

Concert in Great Barrington–I still can’t believe I made it all the way to Great Barrington but never got to Tanglewood. Before you think me terribly lame, consider an outdoor concert featuring this guy that I DID attend.  Oh, the things we do to put a smile on our children’s faces. He was wonderful and we’re all still singing his songs.

Seeing New England again — It has been so many years since I’ve had the pleasure of seeing beautiful New England. As a child growing up in New Jersey, my family vacationed yearly in New Hampshire and as a young adult, I made it a point to get up to Vermont every summer. What a treat to experience all of this beauty again.

Late-night conversations — I loved staying up late to chat with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law and husband in the beautiful living room that opened up to the lake. Even though you couldn’t see the lake at night, it’s serenity was felt. I still have a great picture in my mind of my brother-in-law completely crashing in his chair awakening only briefly and during strategic moments of the conversation to add his two cents. My sister-in-law and I probably could have chatted for several more hours if exhaustion wasn’t banging on our doors after midnight. We even outlasted the teenagers. How often does that happen?

The nieces — I truly have the best nieces in the whole world. When I first met them – shortly after my husband and I began dating – they were 7, 9, and 11. The youngest was still little enough that she’d give you those wonderful full body hugs and ask you to read stories with her. She’s now 14 and in the throes of  her teens.  The other two girls are 16 and 18– the middle starting to drive independently and the oldest about to head off to college. Even though there are many years between myself and them, we have a fabulous time together. Whether it’s playing games, chatting, or just being, it’s so comfortable and easy. It makes me so sad everytime I have to say goodbye to them. They don’t know this, but, they were instrumental in my deciding to have my own children. Whatever fence I had been sitting on for way too long, being with them made me realize just how fabulous having children could be.

Ellie’s adventure — I still can’t get over how wonderful Ellie was on this trip. She embraced each and every new adventure with enthusiasm and joy. We moved 5 times in 7 days and she went from cribs to makeshift beds all in unfamiliar surroundings and slept soundly every night. She also spent many hours in the car with us traversing from New York to Connecticut to Massachusetts – and even an unplanned “shortcut” through the Bronx. She never complained. It was also so gratifying to see her embrace all of her extended family — aunts, uncles, and tons of cousins–six to be exact–five of whom are girls. It never gets old seeing your child having such a good time, testing out her independence, and welcoming new situations and people.

There were, of course, many other great times sandwiched in there too but as promised, I’m not gong to go into all of them. With that said, the realist in me feels compelled to mention some of the not so perfect elements of traveling like a vagabond with a toddler. Actually, some of these have nothing to do with the latter two items.

Weather–Given that it didn’t rain once when we were back East – a record the way things have been going this summer – I should have weather as a higlight. But, I can’t help it. I am a wimp when it comes to hot, steamy and sticky. Having been gone from the East Coast for many years now, it’s easy to glorify summers of past when you’re wearing a coat on a foggy July day in San Francisco, but, being there for a week made me realize how much I don’t really miss hot, sticky, and humid.

Mosquitos – Don’t get me wrong, we HAVE mosquitos in San Francisco. Living so close to water, it would be impossible to escape this. But, they’re different here. They’re about 10 times as big –which makes them easier to spot–and 10 times as slow–which makes them easier to catch. Basically, you can easily remove them before they get to you. These East Coast mosquitos are shifty little buggers. They’re so small and insidious that you can’t even FEEL them biting you. Only until a nice welt surfaces do you realize you’ve been taken.

Plane ride – Ellie did fabulously on the plane on the way out. To give the parents (read: me) some credit, we were armed from head to toe with snacks, books, crayons, Play-doh, drink, and portable DVD player (thanks to Daddy),  all which helped tremendously. The way back was a bit more challenging as she was way off of her schedule by then, tired,  and we were on the plane for six hours. Those last two hours and twenty minutes I started to lose the will to live.  Ellie  jumped up and down on the seats and onto Mommy and Daddy, tried to scale the back of the middle seat to climb into the row behind us, and continually put the arm rest up and down, smacking my arm and leg each time. I seriously had bruises by the end of the flight. Worth it, of course, for the time spent away but challenging nonetheless.  I actually really like traveling with my kid but it’s easy to forget how much you enjoy the travel once you’re four hours into a plane ride with a toddler.

Sleep, or lack thereof — I had a terrible time sleeping on this trip. Part of it had to do with a large amount of stress I had been experiencing before I left, another part had to do with a certain person’s snoring (and I’m not talking about Ellie) and the third part had something to do with sleeping in four different beds in seven days — some a bit too small. My favorite (read: sarcasm) was the full-sized bed with the antique bed frame that creaked with every move you made.  It’s really hard to sleep two adults comfortably in a full-size anything. This was also the same night Ellie slept on a crib mattress and repeatedly rolled off onto the hardwood floor. I kept hearing a *thump* in the night, only to have to scoop Ellie off the floor and lay her back on her sleeping surface.  Poor thing. I always used to associate “rest” with vacation but that was before having kids. The best sleep of all involved two twin beds and a Lake house. Aaaahhh…

 The lowest moment of the trip came with the appearance of the “attack toddler.” Frankly, this really deserves its own post so I may have to save it for another day.

All in all, the trip was awesome and it was great to visit the East Coast extended family. If only we all lived closer. If only the country wasn’t so darn big. It pains me to be so far away and truly believe  it would make life so much sweeter to be nearer–especially for Ellie. But, damn I’m addicted to California life. Maybe someday.

Top 10 reasons why blogging is more difficult than I thought it would be…

Posted in Tiny spaces with tags , , , on August 6, 2009 by talesofanunfinishedmom

10. Too many topics are off limits. Family,  for example.  Oh, the fodder that would provide. The posts would be endless. No can do though. Too many of them know about my blog.

9. Same goes for my job and coworkers. Or, as I fondly refer to them as “my other family.” With half of my world following me on Facebook and Twitter, unless I am prepared to skulk uncomfortably around the office, it’s probably in my best interest to refrain from this too.

8. Writer’s block. I think the right side of my brain has atrophied along with the muscles in my thighs and upper arms. Whatever material I thought I had stored up, seems to be resistant to release–especially in the face of the keyboard and computer.

7.  Intimidation. In case you haven’t noticed, there are a bazillion amazing blogs out there. Ok, so, a bazillion is a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe it’s only a zillion. All I know is that there are a LOT. And, a lot of good ones at that. Start looking at other blogs and you begin to think that a) I’m not worthy! or b) the topic’s already been written about. What more can I bring to the table?

6. Photos. I’m embarrassed to admit this but I honestly don’t know how to download photos. I don’t even own my own camera. I share one. Pictures may not be necessary for blog posts but they do add that special somethin’.  This is one of my goals for the next few months.

5. Drama. Growing up, and probably up until a few years ago, I had a lot of drama in my life. Most of it was probably self-induced but a good percentage of it was what I might call bad luck. When you’ve got drama going on, there is a LOT to talk and write about. Take away the drama and you start writing about what you ate for breakfast, how long your commute was, etc… That’s where I am these days.

4. Shame. Am I really brave enough to admit in a blog post that some days I feel like the world’s worst mother. Because there are  days –like today–where after a long day at the office, I’ve got nothing. I love my daughter immensely, but, sometimes I just don’t FEEL like putting on the one woman circus just to get her to get into her car seat. And, sometimes, I just have to crank up that Led Zeppelin to drown out the whine cry on the 5 minute drive home. I’m not going for Mother of the Year but having other people potentially comment on how I could be doing things better is not something I’m prepared to handle just yet.

3. My funny is lost on my fingers. One of the reasons I was finally talked into starting a blog is because I’ve been told I’m really funny. This is based on all of the emails I’ve been sending around to family and friends over the years. Let’s face it – when you hear something enough  you start to believe it. I started thinking “Hey, I’m funny. They’re right. I should start penning this material.” And, yet, the only time I find myself inspired to write a blog post is when I’m chewing on some existential crisis. I’m having a hard time doing funny.

2. Time. I truly underestimated how much time it takes to really craft a good blog post. I don’t mean I thought this would be easy for me. I mean others make it LOOK so easy. I always envision other bloggers typing out posts on their iphones while they’re driving their cars and singing songs with their kiddies in the back seat.  I am NOT that talented.

1. Well, this is where I am supposed to pull out the blockbuster #1 reason for why it’s so hard to blog. I guess if I could do that, I wouldn’t be suffering from  #8.  Truthfully, I’ve actually learned a little something about myself in this short period of time since I launched this site which is that as open as I think I am, there is that part of me that likes to keep things tidy and neat for the outside world. Tidy and neat doesn’t really make for an interesting blog. I know. I’m working on it.