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6 years old
Category

  • I Can’t Play With You!!

    It’s really hard to play with my kid. My brain has been corrupted by adulthood. I no longer have an imagination that can travel off to distant lands where vampire kitties can fly. I don’t know how to lose myself in a fantasy world because the so-called real world in front of me is so goddamn consuming. All my imagination has transmuted into anxiety about the end of humanity and trying desperately to envision a future where I no longer torture myself with endless craving. HAVE I MADE IT YET?

    Playing with The Munch is challenging. As she’s busy making up a world where bunnies pick daffodils made of sugar, I’m instead obsessing about how Mitch McConnell is to blame for the Trump presidency. I can’t lose myself in the moment, and keep trying to make the chipmunks talk about universal health care.

    It’s my own fault though. When you have an only child, you end up having to play with them more than if you had more kids. In many ways having one kid is MUCH easier as a parent. I have more freedom. It’s easier to find childcare. If I asked you to watch my one kid for the afternoon you’d most likely say yes. But if I asked you to watch my 3 kids for ten minutes you would probably lie to get out of it right? I think there is a major misconception that having more kids doesn’t make that much of a difference because you already have one – so why not add a few more? NOPE WRONG! The difference between having one kid and two is almost as profound as having zero kids and one. The amount of need you deal with is added exponentially with each kid. The equation is something like one child squared to the 10th power.

    Yet when you have a bigger family, the kids are more of a pack. They play together leaving you more free time to yourself to clean up after them. I don’t have that. Lucky for me The Munch has many friends and plenty of play dates, but there are inevitable moments where she looks to me to be the one to act out scene 7 of the mermaids that are astronauts’ saga.

    But you guys…. I think I have the answer to satisfy my inability to free my mind from the burden of hyper awareness about the destruction of world, and my daughter’s insistence on playing with me… a solution besides getting really high I mean.

    We now play political games.

    These games have been a profound journey because I get to learn what my 6-year old thinks about political policy. It is both equally awe inspiring and depressing.

    The Munch: Okay so Ariel the mermaid is a princess, so that means she’s royalty.
    Toni: What does it mean to be royalty?
    The Munch: It means you have to be kind and gentle and you have to like solving problems. Oh, and you have to love everybody.
    Toni: How do you become royal?
    The Munch: Well Ariel’s dad was royal and his dad was royal and his dad was royal and his dad was royal…
    Toni: Who was the first royal person though? Why did they need royalty.
    The Munch: Because everything was so confusing and the mermaids wanted someone to help create solutions to problems.
    Toni: I see. In the human world royalty is kind of different – so I like what the mermaids are doing.
    The Munch: What do the human royals care about?
    Toni: Mostly power, that’s why the humans have so many wars.
    The Munch: The mermaids have wars too. But they are silly wars.
    Toni: What’s a silly war?
    The Munch: Well, there are no weapons because they are too dangerous. They don’t want to hurt the other animals or fish in the ocean with war and weapons. So it’s a splash tail war. They just splash each other with their tails on the top of he water… like this.
    Toni: That makes a lot of sense.
    The Munch: So how were the first people made?
    Toni: How do you think the first people were made.
    The Munch: Ummm I think there was a ghost lady that has always been here – she’s never been born or anything. And that ghost lady created all the people and the earth and the planet and the stars and the mermaids.
    Toni: You’re probably right.

    This is the set up for tonight’s game. It’s called “Hey congress, rape is not a pre-existing condition.”

  • Scratching That Itch Doesn’t Make it Go Away – it Just Moves it

    We’ve all had those moments where you ask someone to scratch your back, and some willing, but slightly irritated victim obeys. No one wants to scratch someone else’s back because as a rational person you know what you’re in for – a journey into the impossibility of satiating an itch. Seconds after the skin scraping ritual begins, the itch moves. “A little to the left,” you say. Once again, it moves. “Now back to the right,” you instruct as their nails skid across your human casing. “Now up… down… over… to the left… no to the right I said… back down again… up… more up… up some more… and…”

    An itch isn’t meant to be relieved; it is designed to torture you with craving. We fool ourselves into thinking that digging your claws into the right spot will make it go away. We forget the unavoidable truth that the very nature of yearning is rooted in the harsh reality that even when you get what you want, it isn’t what you want any more. Our collective story is fraught with examples of this. I want that man, but now that I have him, he bores me. I think that those drugs would feel divine, yet now I am puking into my shirt. I need that job – huh, boy this job is stressful. I need a vacation, and now I need a vacation from my vacation. I’ll go on this dating app to have meaningless sexual encounters, yet at the same time look for a relationship. Even though we can often see the hamster wheel of another person’s life, we put ourselves through the same cycle over and over and over again, running into the oblivion of our ravenousness.

    I think it’s that exactly feeling that our smarty pants phones tap into. This need for an instant hit of something outside of ourselves to distract our minds from the pain of our thoughts. For most of us, our brains have a mind of their own, and we are thinking about things we don’t want to think about, yet can’t stop thinking about. So we want, and want, and want some more. We want more love, more sex, more drugs, more success, more entertainment, more food, more sugar, more adoration, more acknowledgement, more appreciation, more money, more security, more freedom, more stuff… and then we want it all over again, just a better version.

    This constant striving may be the catalyst of the vast majority of our emotional suffering, yet it’s also the drive that pushes towards progress – and maybe even our own survival. The curiosity of humans, this ceaseless thirst that we cannot quench, is unique to our kind. Back in pre-history when Neanderthals reached the shores of an ocean do you know they did? They turned the fuck around because there was a goddamn giant scary body of water in front of them, and they couldn’t see the other side. Do you know what Homo sapiens did? They built a raft to float out into the unknown and see what was beyond the horizon. When the Neanderthals reached a mountain range they would camp at the bottom, but Homo sapiens, even the straight ones, would climb to the other side. Neanderthals lacked the seemingly crucial social construction of craving for more, where we Homo sapiens succumbed to it. And who the are the ones that are extinct now!?

    Even though our wanting is part of our demise, it’s also part of our successes as a species. So how do we as individuals have a more reasonable relationship to the seduction of desire? Is there a way to find balance amidst the chaos of greed?

    If there is anything that being a parent has taught me it’s that looking for someone else’s socks can make you suicidal. The other thing I learned is that children have a much greater capacity than adults to deal with disappointment. It may not seem that way at first. If I tell my kid “No you can’t watch Monster High while eating your leftover chemically ridden Valentine’s candy before bed,” she might scream for a moment in protest. This is where depending on my emotional capacity; I may give in just so she shuts the fuck up. But if I stay strong and deal with her momentary rebellion, she will forget about it, and move on. She doesn’t hold it against me. It’s not like The Munch will even bring it up again like, “remember that time you didn’t let me have that 3rd cookie?” No. She never says that shit. She just keeps living her life, not holding onto the past of her unfulfilled desires.

    Wanting shit is not the problem. It’s how we deal with not getting what we want is.

    The reason why kids move through their feelings with greater ease and grace is because they fundamentally think differently than adults. There is more space between their thoughts, because their egos aren’t as developed. The adult mind is dealing with CONSTANT chatter from the ego. Even right now as you read this very post your ego is still talking to you, judging what I say. Yet with kids, their egos aren’t as loquacious, leaving more room in their minds for observation and imagination.

    The more the mind is engaged with observing the world around us, the less energy is spent judging it. The more the brain is bouncing around creative concepts, the less it’s criticizing. So the solution to our all our problems is right in front of us. Think less by training your mind to observe, and through that you will find the wisdom of contentment in where you are in the moment – knowing it’s all a process and you’ll never truly be satisfied anyway.

    I think The Munch has tapped into this angst of mankind, and as such told me this glorious nighttime story.

    Munch: “Once upon a time there was a toilet, and this toilet was very sad. It was a sad toilet because no one was peeing in it, so it couldn’t drink pee, and no one was pooping in it, so it couldn’t eat poop. And that is the story of the sad toilet.”

    Am I raising a genius or what?

  • It’s Going to Hurt!

    We adult humans spend a good portion of our lives avoiding pain. When we get too cold, we most likely go inside to stop the discomfort of freezing fingers. When we’re too hot, we again go inside – but this time into chilly air-conditioned rooms. We take painkillers to dull the uncomfortable sensations in our bodies, and medicate our brains to ease the uncomfortable thoughts in our minds. We often don’t attempt physical risks in fear of injury, and will avoid relationships altogether that we think have the potential of breaking our hearts. And when we participate in golden showers, we do so in the comfort of a Ritz, not in a grimy a Holiday Inn.

    We run from pain because we fear it.

    Because of this pervasive trepidation of suffering, we socialize our children to avoid pain also. If you go to a playground, you will hear a chorus of parents shouting “careful,” over and over in a round – like an extra annoying version of “row row row your boat.” Parents are constantly trying to protect their children and keeping them from falling – forgetting that a face-plant is actually a pretty important part of learning. Sometimes falling off the monkey bars and getting the wind knocked out of you is a good thing. That way next time you’ll know to fall on top of another kid, to soften the impact.

    I guarantee you that the most crucial and life-changing moments of your existence were not your happiest – but rather overcoming something challenging. We don’t learn from ease, we learn from pain. When we breakthrough pain, we realize our own strength and resilience. That is how we grow and evolve. No one remembers the days that were super chill, nothing difficult happened, and someone served you bonbons on a golden plate. We instead remember the times a grown man pissed on a prostitute, or got pissed on by a prostitute.

    I think one of the greatest disservices that we can do to ourselves, or our kids, is thinking that life shouldn’t be painful – because guess what? IT’S GOING TO BE! The expectation that we can evade pain is not only unrealistic; it’s setting you up for a lifetime of disappointment. I don’t know about you, but I would rather know I can get through painful experiences than pretending life will shower nothing but prosperity upon me… because only then will I realize that I’m actually wet with urine.

    You guys… I just can’t stop with these references. It’s too special. Trump’s life is comedy gold…en shower.

    Back to the point. The other day The Munch got a splinter. Now there are two kinds of splinters in the world. A splinter that goes into your skin at a diagonal angle – which means it is easy to get out – and a splinter that goes into your skin at a 90 degree angle – which means your fucked.

    The Munch got a 90-degree splinter into the heel of her foot. I was out of town, and her dad called me to explain the situation. I told him to soak her foot in warm water to soften the skin… but I forgot to mention SOAPY warm water. So basically he put her foot in purely warm water, and immediately the wood expanded – making the splinter even harder to extract. He tried to get it out, but at that point it was too embedded.

    The next day I came back, and the splinter was still there despite many attempts, and holistic remedies. We tried olive oil, eggshell, banana peel, Epsom salts, whale sperm. Nothing worked. I could run my finger over the skin, and it wasn’t even poking out anymore. Anytime we tried to grab the end of the splinter with tweezers, the wood just splintered off. The Munch couldn’t walk, so there was no choice but to get it out, yet the question was how? I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to take a splinter out of a 6-year olds foot, but it’s kind of like wrestling a rabid wolverine.

    Munch: Ow mom OW!!!!! Don’t touch it! IT HURTS!!!
    Me: Well I have to at least look at it…
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW OW!! STOP NO OWWWWWWW!!
    Me: I can’t get it out if you keep moving around and kicking your foot!
    Munch: YOU’RE NOT BEING GENTLE!
    Me: I am trying to be… but if you don’t let me get it out, we will have to take you to the doctor to do it. You can’t walk, and it can get infected.
    Munch: NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY NO WAY!!! I AM NOT GOING TO THE DOCTOR!!!!!!
    Me: Then you’re going to have to let me do it.
    Munch: OW OW OW OW OW OW!!!
    Me: Dude you have to stop kicking!!!
    Munch: I CAN’T STOP KICKING BECAUSE YOU KEEP POKING AND HURTING ME!
    Me: Well, do you want to go the doctor then?
    Munch: NO NO NO NO NO I WON’T GO!

    You can see this was not going well. Then I realized something. Part of why The Munch was resisting so much was because she thought I was going to be gentle, and not hurt her. Yet the problem was that there is no way to dig a splinter out of a foot and not have it hurt! The only way to get this demon wood out was to pick, prod, squeeze, and shear the skin.

    Me: Listen. This is going to hurt. There is no way I can do this and it won’t be painful. But if you don’t want to go to the doctor, you have to let me hurt you.
    Munch: Fine, but you have to be gentle.
    Me: I’m will do my best to be gentle, but that doesn’t mean it’s not going to hurt. It is. I am going to hurt you. You have to wrap your head around that. But that’s the only way I can get it out. Life is full of pain okay Munch? There is no running from it. But you’re the bravest girl I know. You had someone cut your eyeball out of your face… twice. You’ve lived through surgery; you can live through this okay?
    Munch: Okay. Just don’t take me back to the hospital. I hate that place.
    Me: Deal.

    For the next hour of our lives, with her dad holding a flashlight to The Munch’s foot, I dug into her skin. Sure The Munch would have to take breaks, but there was no more resisting, no more kicking, no more shouting. She just let me carve my way into her foot and then squeeze the shit out of it to try and loosen the splinter. Then, I finally saw my moment. I got the tweezers, and pulled it out. We all started screaming and jumping up and down in celebration. I swear on everything holy pulling that splinter out was as emotionally satisfying as watching the birth of my child. In fact, it was more gratifying.

    Obviously the Munch had a shift of consciousness. Once she not only expected the pain, but also accepted it, her tolerance quadrupled. She was able to sit there peacefully and deal with the discomfort because she had surrendered to that reality. Once you allow the pain, you realize, that it’s not that bad. You will survive, and the satisfaction of getting through it is profound. I think we all can remind ourselves that pain is not the worst thing that can happen to us. Stagnation is. Allowing ourselves to be stifled by the fear of suffering. So go out there, make mistakes, get hurt, have someone destroy your heart. You’re going to be okay! I promise. Live life embracing pain. I know I for one am going to remember this the next time I get pee in my eye from a presidential golden shower, because that shit does sting.

    The tools and splinter

    splinter-blog

  • Change Your Loop, Change your Life!

    Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “this again?” Don’t get me wrong, life is cool and all – but there is also this mundane aspect of existence that makes me wonder, what is the point? The day ahead of me is filled with so much repetition from the day before. I will wake up, go to the bathroom, drink coffee, go to the bathroom again, work, look in the mirror and contemplate my place in the world, go to the bathroom, then work some more. (You guys, I go to the bathroom a lot. Should I see a doctor?)

    We all have patterns to our days. If you were to track your self over the past couple of years, I’m sure your movements would create some sort of fractal of never ending repetition. Then something happens – you might move, get a new job, break up, get together, something… and that pattern is broken! But then a new configuration is created, and once again stuck in a paradigm of your own creation.

    Question: Are our human lives really that different from the robots of Westworld??! Another question: Do I watch too much TV?

    In Westworld the androids had their loops that they were stuck in, and the only way for them to get out was to have a shift of consciousness. We are JUST like that. The only way to change our loops is to have a moment that rocks our world so deeply, that we see everything slightly different. This will force us to live in a new way, because once you learn something, you can never unlearn it. Trust me… there is so much I wish I didn’t know about the pork industry, because hot dogs are delicious. But even though we escape one loop, that doesn’t mean we don’t enter into another. Maybe the key is not expecting to get out of our loops, but rather keeping evolving in our thinking so our loops end up looking more like spirals? So we don’t live our lives spinning in circles, or orbiting around the same problems, but rather moving up towards something new.

    But what does that mean to shift your consciousness? I don’t want to spurt annoying new age rhetoric. I would rather squirt solutions. (P.S If I die tomorrow; please put that on my gravestone).

    We are always going to have problems with our lives; the key is not having the SAME problems for years on end. Maybe shifting our consciousness means actually dealing with the problems in front of us, and getting a new set of problems? That seems doable right?

    Yet it’s scary to evolve because in order for that to happen, you have to put yourself in uncomfortable situations. The problem with that is that we Westerners LOVE being comfortable. We spend most of our time, money, and effort searching for comfort. Yet the irony is that we don’t remember the comfortable times of our lives, we remember the moments where we weren’t.

    I think that’s why I had a kid. Not because I like kids. The only kid I truly enjoy is the ones that remind me of me. I wanted to have a kid because I was curious about the challenge. When I got pregnant, my life felt flat, and I wasn’t sure where I was going with it. I wanted to get out of the loop I was in, because it had no real meaning to it. I was lost and there was something profound about the idea of pregnancy and birth – a right of passage I wanted to go through. Birth is one of the most cosmic acts a person can experience. You create a life inside your body, and then eject it out into the universe. It’s a spiritual activity, like yoga, meditation, talking about different ways to prepare bok choy, or eating a 90% cacao chocolate bar. But after that part was over, I was like, “holy shit, now there’s a human I have to take care of!”

    So then I entered into the loop of parenting, and I was relieved. I had a whole new set of problems that didn’t involve not “making it” in New York. It was so consuming, and my brain chemistry changed so all I cared about was my needy as hell baby. My baby became my life – especially because as a mother that thing was sucking off my fun bags all day. Yet there was something comforting about this phase of life because my world was so small. The only thing that mattered to me was keeping my baby alive, sleeping, and arranging my clothes so the barf wasn’t as noticeable. Then my infant became a toddler, and those things are still pretty high maintenance. Even though I had more time to myself, there was still a lot of work I had to do to socialize my kid not to be an asshole.

    But now that The Munch is 6, I’m kind of done parenting. At least until she starts doing drugs and blowing boys. There are some responsibilities I still have – like being her short order cook and carrying her crap around like a Sherpa – but I no longer have to be this warden of her behavior. She’s basically pretty cool. Her conditioning has mostly been implemented, so we don’t fight about much, nor are there tantrums or emotional conflicts. We’ve come to understand each other’s boundaries. She knows she can eat treats if she eats vegetables first, so we don’t have to have battles about her sugar addiction. She gets that her mom needs things to be compulsively clean and respects that, just as I know that it’s best not to interfere with her wardrobe or laundry and let her wear what she wants – which is the same thing every day. We’re in this sweet spot where she’s kind of like a roommate I have to sometimes insist takes a bath.

    I think a lot of people like the parenting loop, which is why they keep having kids. Caring about your children’s well being is a noble way to spend your days! You don’t have to question your value, because there is an indisputable worth of being a good parent. I really enjoyed that phase of life, because it was a loop that was filled with a lot of obvious love and appreciation from my kid. There was much The Munch taught me about the nature of humanity, and the psychological development of people. Also, her presence made me SUPER appreciative of my time in a way that having more freedom never would. I am sooo much more focused than before. I can seriously accomplish more in one hour, then I used to in an entire day when I had nothing but myself to think of.

    Yet I am more terrified now of getting pregnant than I was as a teenager, because now I know what it actually takes. For me, the loop of parenting was also driving me nutty. With this hyper focus my child had given me came with it a driving ambition that has taken over my psyche. Maybe creating a life made me a more creative person, so thanks for that kid, but now I’ve got some work to do! I really like my child, and I’m SUPER glad to know her – but I am ready to do without all this parenting!

    Now The Munch has her own life, her own friends, and doesn’t need me in the same way that she did. She’s good to go. I mean I can’t leave her alone with the oven on or anything, but I’m not worried about her feeling abandoned if I pursue my dreams. You guys… I am officially entering into a new loop! My world has expanded, and it’s a relief, but also terrifying. Hopefully soon I will have a whole new set of problems to complain about!!!

    toni-outside-with-glasses

    December 22, 2016 • 6 years old, ambitions, Musings, Parenting • Views: 687