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Talking and Not Talking
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.”

  • Waiting For Your Turn To Talk

    Sometimes I find myself in conversations wondering, “when are we going to get back to my favorite topic? Me.” I love talking about Toni. Talking about Toni is the most interesting thing I do. I can’t get enough of it. If you want to talk about me, I will never tire of it. If you’re interested in what Toni thinks about this or that, then I will pull up a chair. But you know what gets exhausting? Talking about you.

    As humans we are obsessed with ourselves. We find ourselves infinitely fascinating, and tend to favor our own opinions over others. Most of the time when we are relating to others, we are just waiting for our turn to talk.

    But guess what? NOBODY LIKES THAT!

    Even though we all want to compulsively talk about ourselves, our thoughts, our visions, and our complaints – it is seriously irritating when you notice other people being that way. You can feel the energy of them not listening. Their eyes are distracted, and its painfully obvious how they’re desperately trying to remember what it is they want to say. Their impatience is palpable. So you just trail off, knowing they will jump in to perform a 15-minute monologue. It is one of the most off-putting behaviors when someone talks at you endlessly, giving you the feeling that you substitute yourself with a cardboard cutout, and take off for an hour to go through Instagram filters.

    It doesn’t matter how interesting, compelling, or charismatic they are. It’s draining to have a conversation with someone that’s actually performing a one-way soliloquy. It leaves me feeling like an insignificant audience member drowned by the shadows, merely the facilitator for the proper reaction. Insert laugh here, tears there, and an “awwwwwww” at the end to wrap it up.

    Genuinely listening to others is a very attractive quality. Asking questions about their lives, remembering things they say, keeping their cast of characters fresh in your mind… this will endear you to people. If you can make someone feel heard, you will also make them feel seen, which in turn will make them feel important to you.

    So why is this so hard?

    There is an art to dialogue that is simply no longer taught or prioritized. Back in the times of ancient Greece, dialogue was the ultimate conveyer of knowledge. Socrates feared the influence of the written word because he believed that medium would destroy dialogue. He felt books are too easily misinterpreted because you can’t openly discuss your reactions with the author of the ideas you just plowed into your head. Socrates rejected writing because his worldview was predicated on the idea that best way into a genuine inquiry of philosophy was through live conversation.

    Yet how ironic is it that the only reason we know the dialogues of Socrates is because Plato wrote them down!

    Oral traditions were more exclusive with knowledge because you had to have heard the information from someone’s mouth. Where the written word can be massed produced and mass marketed. Yet does distributing information on a wide scale dilute it? On the one hand it’s fantastic anyone can have access to the vast library of human knowledge, but the criteria for who is talking has been democratized to the point where there are no longer any standards. You don’t need a PHD to create a website, you just need an IP address.

    If you think about the current manifestation of this, the Internet is so flush with information and words that you can prove anything you want. You can look up sites that say GMO’s are bad, and you can look up sites that tell you GMO’s are great. You can prove anything you want to yourself, because everyone’s goddamn opinion is posted on line to justify your thinking.

    On a personal level, this loss of dialogue has affected us even deeper. Although I enjoy reading and writing, it can be said that the modern manifestation of texting our feelings through emoji hints to the prophetic nature of Socrates’ thoughts. We would rather email someone to tell them off, then have the actual human interaction of working through conflict. How many of you have received an email from a friend/family member/lover that is just a diatribe of all they things they don’t like about you? And how have you received that? Have you ever been like, “wow, this scathing email attacking my personality really makes me think?”

    No! You usually write a contemptuous message back, and a strange cycle begins where your egos battle through this platform of screens. It is really hard to come back from these things, and usually the only way to find peace is through initiating personal contact. It is easy to hide behind screens and words rather then the complexity of face-to-face contact. That is why trolling has become such a social phenomenon. Yet we don’t only troll strangers in the dark web, we also often troll each other with the refusal of committing to direct communication.

    I think it’s crucial in these times where we are constantly being seduced by our slutty phones to work on the craft of conversation. To not text while talking, or hurry someone along so we can make our point. The best thing we can do for each other and our own psyches is learn how to be totally engaged. You know that feeling when you are talking to someone, and they are really interested in what you are saying? They are giving you their energy of paying attention. Then you pass the baton and are just as excited to hear the words that come out of their mouth. Isn’t that such a life affirming experience?

    Let’s do more of that!

    So next time you are talking to someone, a friend, someone serving you at a store, where ever you are… act like you sincerely give a shit. And I bet once you start genuinely listening, you may actually start genuinely giving a shit, which will inspire them to give a shit, and then maybe the robots won’t take over after all.

    March 23, 2017 • emotions, Musings, Relationships, Talking and Not Talking • Views: 672

  • Chemical Candy Chaos!

    I am the type of person that would rather go hungry than to eat food that I don’t like, or is bad quality. Eating is such a pleasurable experience for me, and goes way beyond the basic need to fill my stomach. I want to have a tantric experience with my meals. I don’t want to eat just because I am hungry – I want my wet mouth to orgasm while I fill it with delicious sausages.

    Local and organic of course.

    Maybe this can be annoying for others – especially for those who want to just eat and move on with the day but have to instead wait for me to find the perfect artisanal pizza place specializing in hand foraged pixy farts.

    For example: There was this one time when I went hiking in the Swiss Alps with my boyfriend and friend, and we got really lost. We finally came across a sign that read “Wanderweg” and decided we would go there, and take the train home. We followed the path for a few miles, then came across another sign that said “Wanderweg.” This sign, however, pointed in another direction. We were confused, but followed that path for another few miles. We then came across two signs, that pointed in opposite directions, and they BOTH read “Wanderweg.”

    Toni: Where the fuck is Wanderweg!!!??

    Finally we passed some other hikers who explained that “wanderweg” means “path.”

    We didn’t get off the mountain until 10 at night, and had been hiking for 12 hours with no food or water. When we finally got to the small town, everything was closed except for one restaurant. Inside there was an old man smoking cigarettes and chewing on his hands. He showed us the menu, which consisted of a variety of canned meat.

    Toni: Ummm I don’t think I’m gonna eat here.
    My Boyfriend: What??! DUDE I am starving! Lets just eat! There is nowhere else?
    Toni: It just doesn’t look very good. And the smoke is bothering me. I won’t even be able to taste anything. Maybe we can take the train to the next town? Or walk there?

    And that was the day my boyfriend strangled me.

    And here is a story where my 5-year old almost choked the fuck out of me. The Munch and I were coming back from a road trip, and had been in the car for a few hours. She told me she needed to go to the bathroom, so I pulled over at a gas station. Once we were inside, she wanted a treat.

    The Munch: I want a treat.
    Toni: No. Not here. I can’t.
    The Munch: But MOM I AM REALLY HUNGRY! YOU DIDN’T GIVE ME DINNER AND I WANT A TREAT.
    Toni: I can’t buy you chemical candy.
    The Munch: PLEASE!? What about these?
    Toni: Sour Patch kids? No way dude! Those are chemical kids coated with sugar flavored chemicals.
    The Munch: What about these??
    Toni: Reece’s? Those are just partially hydrogenated oil patties. I can’t. I can’t support those companies. I can’t get you these natural nuts? Or GMO free chips if you are hungry.
    The Munch: BUT I WANT A TREAT!
    Toni: It’s not going to happen.
    The Munch: FINE!!!

    The Munch STORMED back into the car. She was PISSED! When we finally got home a few hours later, she was STILL mad! She went to bed furious at me.

    The Munch: I REALLY WANTED A TREAT!

    The next morning when she woke up, she still had the idea of treats on her mind.

    The Munch: Can I have a treat?
    Toni: Yes you can… but we have to go to the Green Grocer to buy one, because we have nothing here.
    The Munch: That’s too far! I don’t want to get back in the car!
    Toni: Neither do I!
    The Munch: Let’s go to the General Store.
    Toni: I can’t do that. All they have is chemical treats. If you want a treat we have to go to the Green Grocer.
    The Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

    It’s not like she doesn’t KNOW I only buy organic food. The Munch is FULLY AWARE that I am never happy when someone gives her chemical candy to eat. Halloween was a big challenge for me! We had agreed that was the only chemical candy she would eat. But for whatever reason, she was NOT feeling my commitment to quality food this day.

    Toni: Dude I am not saying you can’t have a treat. I am saying you can’t have a chemical treat. The Green Grocer is five minutes farther than the General Store. Let’s just go there.
    The Munch: BUT I DON’T WANT TO WAIT THAT LONG!
    Toni: Can I tell you why I don’t want you to eat chemical candy?
    The Munch: FINE!
    Toni: Do you remember what war is?
    The Munch: When people kill each other for power?
    Toni: Yes… and back during World War 2, the Americans developed a chemical called “agent orange” to kill people. But when the war was over, they started using those chemicals on the food as pesticides – to kill the bugs. But pesticides kill all life – including butterflies, bees, and even birds!
    The Munch: BIRDS TOO?
    Toni: YES! And then we eat those pesticides! And these same companies have also have genetically modified plants, created a monopoly on seeds, and are arguably destroying the farming community. Plus… we don’t know the long-term impact of eating GMO tomatoes with fish genes in them.
    The Munch: I don’t want fishy tomatoes!
    Toni: And you know cancer? Since we have been doing this to our food, more and more people have been getting cancer. It’s hard to say it’s not related. So I don’t want to support these companies, because when I give them my money, I am saying that it’s okay to poison food, poison people, and poison the land.
    The Munch: Fine we can go to the Green Grocer. But I am getting TWO treats.

    “Seriously Mom, can you just shut your mouth hole?”

    munch shutting up toni

  • Health and Healing Hypocrisy

    I see all physical ailments as metaphysical messages. I believe our souls communicate to our egos through the language of the body. Every time I am sick, hurt, or in pain – I see it as an opportunity to dig deep in the bowels of my inner being, and extract a warm brown piece of who I really am.

    Because of this belief system, I never take western medicine. The medical establishment may lesson your symptoms, but it drives your sickness deeper inside. When you take pills for momentary relief, you are denying yourself the opportunity of self-reflection. Rather than trying to mask my pain, I will willingly sit in it so as to discover what it is I need to learn.

    Yet when my kid is suffering, I just want her to stop complaining – I mean I just want her to get better fast.

    The Munch was really miserable the other day. Usually when she is sick, she takes it as an opportunity to watch TV all day. Yet this time, she was in such a state of distress, that she wouldn’t even watch “My Little Pony!” She said that her eyes hurt too much to open them, and was writhing around in my bed in a state of physical crisis. The only thing I could do was to tickle her back to relax her.

    I felt so helpless. It’s traumatizing to see your child in anguish. But she was also being really dramatic and annoying about it. Sorry that was my auto correct. I meant to write; she was being SUPER dramatic and annoying about it.

    At first I tried to examine the mystical meaning of what was going on with her.

    Munch: MOMMY! It hurts! Wahhhahhhhaaa!
    Toni: I know it does sweetie. Can you tell me what it feels like?
    Munch: My eyes are pushing into my mouth.
    Toni: What do you think that means? What is it you don’t want to see? Or don’t want to say?
    Munch: WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? My eyes and mouth just hurt! Wahhhaaahha!
    Toni: I hear you – but what do you think is the significance of your eyes hurting? Do you feel like there is some hidden question you could be asking yourself? What are your eyes and mouth trying to teach you?
    Munch: MY FACE HURTS! WAHAHHHHAHH
    Toni: Is there something about yourself that you have to face, and that’s why your face hurts?
    Munch: I DON’T KNOW! I JUST KNOW IT HURTS!!!

    My philosophical inquiry wasn’t exactly getting to the bottom of things. The Munch didn’t seem too interested interested in delving into the spiritual significance of what was going on with her health.

    Then my mom called.

    My Mom: I think she has allergies.
    Toni: How do you know?
    My Mom: Because she is experiencing the same symptoms I used to have. Stuffy nose, itchy eyes, irritability… That’s why I take Benadryl every day.
    Toni: But what do you think that your runny nose and itchy eyes are trying to tell you mom? Is your nose running perhaps a metaphor for something else you are running from?
    My Mom: Jesus Toni, it’s just seasonal allergies from pollen. Stop being such a hippy freak and go get your daughter some over the counter allergy medicine like Zyrtec.

    So I did.

    The Munch ended up sleeping the entire day, and I kind of felt like I drugged my kid. Which I guess I did. But then she woke up the next day, and was perfectly fine.

    hiding under the pillow munch

    munch sick sleeping

  • My 5-Year Old Does Not Support the Rockefeller Drug Laws

    Every parent has a nighttime ritual with their child to put them to bed. Sometimes that includes a bath, a warm glass of milk, and reading a story. Other times putting your child to sleep involves a discussion about the Police state and Rockefeller drug laws – but to each his own.

    There is a heroin epidemic where I live in New Hampshire, and it is basically impossible not to know someone who is personally effected by this crisis. The Munch and I were talking about someone we love, and how they are dealing with a family member in jail because of heroine. The Munch had a lot of questions about what all this meant, and the complexity of trying to clarify the details to her made something very clear to me.

    The way we treat drug addicts in this country is criminal.

    I think the best way to tell if a system is flawed, is if it’s hard to explain it to a child. If you can’t easily articulate an issue, then something is wrong.

    When the Munch asks about what laws were, I didn’t find it challenging to express why we needed laws. When she asked me some examples of laws, it was perfectly logical to her why it was illegal to steal, or kill someone. There wasn’t a lot of confusion. But when trying to unpack why drugs were illegal and why people go to prison for drugs – that was actually really hard.

    The Munch: What do drugs do to people?
    Toni: They make you feel different – inside your body and your mind.
    The Munch: What do you mean feel different?
    Toni: You know how if you eat a bunch of sugar, and your body feels kind of funny after? Like it’s buzzing?
    The Munch: Yeah… and you have all this energy and want to run around?
    Toni: Well drugs make you feel different sensations in your body and in your brain.
    The Munch: Is sugar a drug?
    Toni: Well it affects your brain like drugs, but it’s not considered a drug.
    The Munch: Is wine drugs? Like how grow-ups drink wine and stuff?
    Toni: Kind of – but wine beer is considered alcohol. Not a drug.
    The Munch: Do people go to prison for wine?
    Toni: No… only drugs.
    The Munch: Why are drugs bad?
    Toni: Because you can get addicted to them.
    The Munch: Like how you say I can get addicted to sugar, or watching too much “My Little Pony.”
    Toni: Yes. Addiction is when you make a decision to do something you know is bad for you, but it’s too hard to make the decision to stay away.
    The Munch: And you go to prison because you have addiction and it’s too hard to stay away?
    Toni: Sort of. But also when you take drugs, you probably aren’t making the best decisions in general because you’re also on drugs. So you aren’t thinking clearly.
    The Munch: But don’t you take drugs when you are sick? Or have surgery? Like how you gave me drugs when I had my eye surgery so the pain would go away?
    Toni: Yes. Doctors give drugs when people are in pain, but those drugs don’t put you in jail.
    The Munch: What are the drugs that put you in jail?
    Toni: Illegal drugs.
    The Munch: But do people take illegal drugs because they are in pain?
    Toni: Yes. Emotional pain. And sometimes physical pain too.
    The Munch: So shouldn’t those people see a doctor for their pain and not go to jail?
    Toni: Yes they should.

    Since the Rockefeller drug laws were introduced, the prison population in the US has skyrocketed! We now hold the honor of being the number 1 country in the world with the most people incarcerated. Maybe the original intention was to make our neighborhoods safer, but sending millions of non-violent offenders to jail for exorbitant sentences has had a detrimental impact on communities. The Rockefeller drug laws are the most significant legal foundation of the war on drugs over the last 40 years. And despite the draconian mandatory minimums being removed 7 years ago, 48% of the people in our federal prisons are there for non-violent drug related crimes. But what if we started regarding drug abuse as a social issue to contend with and not a criminal one?

    These mandatory sentences haven’t addressed why people turn to drugs, but only built the foundation of our current penal system. These drug laws paved the path for the prison industrial complex that we see today – ironically with prisoners as the ones laying the concrete. When prisons become profitable businesses, then filling them up with people is simply free labor for Wall Street.

    So I agree with The Munch – maybe we should be sending addicts to hospitals and not prisons.

  • You’re Better Than Me!

    My kid and I don’t really have a lot of the same interests. We have some things in common. We both really enjoy loud music, cookies, and fart jokes. We also both think it’s hilarious when you’re spitting phlegm out the car window, and said phlegm flies right back into your face. But in terms of things we like to do to pass the time, we’re very different.

    The Munch for one loves to play “hide and seek.” Maybe that would be fun if I was on acid, in a mansion, and the walls were made of Playdough. But playing “hide and seek” in my house where I know every possible hiding space isn’t exactly mentally stimulating. Especially because half the time I can obviously see her – because she SUCKS at “hide and seek!” So then I have to walk past her, PRETENDING I can’t find her like a fool. That game is really more of a time for me to look at my phone while crouched in the closet.

    Then there are the “make believe” games The Munch LOVES to play. There is something so inspiring about watching your kid lose themselves in a world of their own creation. I find myself awestruck by her authenticity – as she plays pretend with her toys, and explores her imagination. The Munch gets really into it too. She uses different voices for each of the characters, and develops incredibly intricate plotlines. Nothing is more peaceful than relaxing in the living room while eavesdropping as The Munch plays sweetly. I can just sit back and listen to her deepest thoughts as one of her character says, “my mom killed my sister Becka, but that’s okay because she didn’t even know her letters.”

    Like I would ever name my kid Becka!?

    But I can’t play pretend with The Munch! I don’t have that capacity any more. I am a grown up, and I use my imagination to stress out about my future and have anxiety about my past.

    Finding things to do together that we BOTH enjoy equally isn’t always easy. She is not that interested in talking about Donald Trump’s ties to the lizard Elite, and I don’t give a flying fuck in a rolling doughnut about My Little Pony.

    Munch: I’m bored! I wanna play with you!
    Toni: Do you want to play the Congress is corrupt?
    Munch: NO! Too predictable! Can we play kittens on a pirate ship?
    Toni: How about we draw together instead?

    Now let’s be clear about something. I cannot draw. I cannot create a depth of field. I can’t draw people. I can’t shade. I have no ability to draw anything beyond two-dimensional shapes. So I decided I would just do that – and color them in pretty.

    At first everything was going fine. My friend Natalya came over, and drew with us for a while as well. It was kind of an adorable scene – us all drawing together and drinking tea. After Natalya left The Munch and I continued to draw – sure it had been almost 3 hours at this point, but I was pretty OCD and NEEDED to finish my picture.

    Munch: You’re star is better than mine.
    Toni: Drawing a star is tricky. Do you want me to show you how?
    Munch: Okay.
    Toni: This is how I learned. You draw an upside down “v” like this. Then you bring one line over here, the other over there, and then you connect them!

    The Munch practiced with me, drawing a star with lines that ran through the center.

    Munch: But your star doesn’t have lines through it.
    Toni: That’s true. But it took me a long time to draw a star with no lines through it. I started with the lines until I got better.
    Munch: I wanna draw my star with NO LINES!
    Toni: Okay… give it a try.

    The Munch tried, and was having an increasingly difficult time.

    Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHH! I CAN’T DRAW A STAR WITH NO LINES!!!!!
    Toni: Munch, you don’t need to get so worked up. The way you get better at something is to practice! You just have to keep trying. You will get it!
    Munch: BUT YOUR STAR IS BETTER THAN MINE!!!!!!!!
    Toni: That is because I have been practicing drawing stars for 30 years.
    Munch: YOU DRAW BETTER THAN ME!!!!
    Toni: Dude, if I didn’t draw better than a five-year old, you should be seriously worried about me.
    Munch: BUT I WANT TO BE ABLE TO DRAW A STAR AND I CAN’T AND YOU DRAW BETTER THAN ME!
    Toni: Munch, Natalya draws better than me.
    Munch: NO she doesn’t! Her “space cat” doesn’t even look like a cat!
    Toni: That’s because it’s a “space cat” with boobs! Not a regular cat! And she is a wayyyyyyyy better at drawing than me. Do you want to know why?
    Munch: Why?
    Toni: Because she practices! She works hard and drawing, and that’s how she got to be so talented.
    Munch: BUT I WANT TO BE ABLE TO DRAW A STAR AS GOOD AS YOU!
    Toni: Dude, this is the thing. How I draw a star has nothing to do with you. We have to be able to happy for other people and their accomplishments, even when we are struggling with our own feelings of insecurity. I can think Natalya is a better drawer than me, feel jealous about her skills, but at the same STILL be happy for her! In fact, my feeling happy for Natalya for working so hard means that I don’t even feel jealous anymore. My feelings of happiness for her are more pronounced than my feelings of jealousy. So I can instead focus on working hard and practicing, while being happy for my friend that I love.
    Munch: BUT I DON’T WANT TO PRACTICE! I WANT TO BE ABLE TO DRAW A STAR JUST LIKE YOU NOW!!!
    Toni: Munch, you can’t be so goal oriented about your art. That’s not the point of creating! You have to enjoy the process.
    Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!

    The Munch stormed off and left me to my coloring. Which I of course continued because I was ALMOST DONE! I had to finish it okay!?

    Since then we’ve had a few meltdowns about drawing – always the same theme. The Munch eventually gets upset because she can’t do something perfectly – then traveling down a rage spiral while comparing herself to me and feeling inadequate. But that doesn’t mean I am going to not draw my best because I have coloring to accomplish okay!!?

    But I realized that everything I said to The Munch about her drawing, I could apply to myself. I am SUPER goal oriented when it comes to my art. I have expectations of how I want things to be received, or turn out – and when they don’t I feel just like her. I get disappointed, frustrated, insecure, and yell belligerently at the wall.

    It made me think that maybe The Munch’s angst about her art is merely a reflection of my own. That she is just picking up on my vibes, and reflecting them back to me. It made me wonder how much of my energy is unconsciously infiltrating her consciousness, and perhaps most of her psychosis is really just my own stress being mirrored back to me.

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some coloring to get back to.

    The famous “star picture”

    toni star drawing

    Natalya’s “space cat”

    space cat

    This only took me 5 hours

    toni drawing

  • I Don’t Love You Anymore!

    The Munch is still in a state of healing from her eye surgery. It is for sure WAAAYYY more complex than I imagined, and as it stands right now the doctor is thinking that we may have to do another operation. I of course REALY don’t want to put Munch through that, so have been going hard on the holistic healing front.

    In these past few weeks I’ve taken her to a variety hippy doctors, and they all say her body is still processing the trauma of the experience. Because I want to be as proactive as possible, there are a bunch of things I am trying in order to address both the emotional and physical distress. This is the short list:

    1) Eye patch glasses: Munch didn’t want to wear an eye patch because she didn’t think patches were “fashionable,” and the adhesive gave her cheek a rash. So I made her some super sweet Hello Kitty glasses with a ballerina patch over the good eye. Now she looks like a punk rock pirate, and will wear them around her friends.
    2) Pills for her blood/liver: My acupuncture lady said we needed to support her liver/blood to keep tendons and eyes healthy. I brewed Chinese herbs for 2 days in hopes that Munch would drink it, but she refused because it tasted like “monkey poop and pee.” But she did learn to swallow pills so at least that is happening – but she is also now irrationally excited about swallowing pills… which makes me somewhat concerned for her future and doing ecstasy. PS I am also now drinking the “monkey poo and pee” drink because I don’t want it to go to waste, and it tastes more like giraffe semen.
    3) Eye Games: We play games with flash cards where I make her move her eye around. This game has now evolved to me also playing, and working out my eye, which can now bench press 250 lbs.
    4) Massages: I massage her leg to stimulate blood production, her feet to lower stress, her head to relax the brain, and her eye to bring awareness of healing. This is a 30 min process where I have to keep her relaxed and entertained so she doesn’t squirm around. This means I tell stories the entire time, which I make up from the top of my head. I now have carpel tunnel syndrome in my hands from all these damn massages, and probably should enter an improv group for my amazing off the cuff story telling abilities – although many of them end with someone farting really loud.
    5) Singing: Now I have to make her sing as much as possible because the vibration in her head is healing, but she HATES it when I sing because The Munch is a musical snob… sooooo this one isn’t going so well.

    I have also been taking her to healers who do cranial sacral work and trauma release. I have noticed that when we get home from these visits, she has total meltdowns that night. The Munch isn’t really one to have tantrums, so I figure she is getting out these buried emotions that she kept in while trying to be cooperative during the surgery. She was excessively stoic, and maybe needs to get some of the fear and rage out?

    I have been trying to give The Munch space to have these outrageous moments of outburst, and not take them personally or get angry with her for acting out. I know her well enough to know this isn’t her normal behavior, so there is no point in punishing her for needing to release. But this is what it looked like last night.

    The Munch: Mamma, can I have a candy cane?
    Toni: There is no way! It is bedtime, and you can’t eat a candy cane right before bed.
    The Munch: But I WANT ONE!
    Toni: That is understandable because candy canes are delicious. But you have to wait until tomorrow. You can have one then.
    The Munch: Well I can eat it anyway, and you can’t stop me.
    Toni: Of course I can. I am way bigger than you and can take it from you. I would rather you just put it away and have it tomorrow.
    The Munch: Try and take it from me.
    Toni: I am not going to do that.
    The Munch: Just try and take it from me.

    Okay fine… I am the grown up and could have refused. But she was TAUNTING ME OKAY!

    I grabbed the candy cane and it she held onto the hook, and now the other half was in my hand.

    The Munch: AHHHHHHHHHHHHH YOU BROKE IT!!!! WAAAAHHHHHHAAA
    Toni: Dude I am sorry. I didn’t mean to break it. It was an accident!
    The Munch: WELL YOU DID BREAK IT!! WAHHHHHAAAA
    Toni: You told me to try and take it!
    The Munch: WAAAAAHHHHHHHHAAAAAHHHHHAAA!!! YOU BROKE IT!
    Toni: I didn’t mean to break it, but you did tell me to try and take it. Besides, you can have the pieces in the tomorrow. It gets all broken up in your tummy anyway. I will save them for you.
    The Munch: I DON’T WANT IT TO BE BROKEN! I DON’T LOVE YOU ANYMORE! AND I AM TAKING MOLLY FROM YOU AND YOU WILL NEVER SEE MOLLY AGAIN. EVEN THOUGH SHE IS YOUR FAVORITE STUFFY.

    The Munch then went into my room, and got my stuffed animal dog named Molly, and hid her. Okay fine a grown up isn’t supposed to sleep with stuffed animals. But I have had molly for 25 years! I always sleep with Molly!

    The Munch: There! Now Molly is hidden and you will never find her!
    Toni: Munch I hear that you are angry, but I think you maybe need some time to think and calm down and then we can talk.
    The Munch: NO! I am locking you in my room and YOU CAN NEVER LEAVE!
    Toni: Never? What if I get hungry?
    The Munch: You will get nothing to eat!!!
    Toni: So I would just starve to death in your room?
    The Munch: YES!!!
    Toni: So when people ask you “what happened to your mom?” you would just say “oh I got super mad because she broke my candy cane so I locked her in my room. She eventually starved to death and died.”
    The Munch: Yes!
    Toni: Don’t you think you would maybe miss me?
    The Munch: YES I WOULD!
    Toni: Okay well can we think of a solution for you to feel better so you are not yelling or trying to starve me to death?
    The Munch: NOTHING WILL MAKE ME FEEL BETTER EXCEPT FOR WATCHING MY LITTLE PONY OR EATING A NON BROKEN CANDY CANE.
    Toni: Well, neither of those things are going to happen.
    The Munch: WELL THEN YOU CAN’T MAKE ME HAPPY!
    Toni: Of course I can’t make you happy! You have to make your elf happy! Can you think of something that might make you happy? Like maybe you could jump on the bed and then into my arms.
    The Munch: Ummm okay.

    Then she was totally fine and we did our 45-minute healing routine and I got early onset arthritis. This morning we talked about it…

    The Munch: I love you. You’re the best mommy in the whole universe.
    Toni: Remember when you told me last night that you didn’t me any more? Did you mean that?
    The Munch: No… I was just angry.
    Toni: I know. But when you say harsh things, even when you are angry, it can really hurt someone’s feelings. You have to always be careful with your words, because you can never take them back.
    The Munch: Well you didn’t seem like your feelings were hurt last night.
    Toni: That is because I’m your mom, and moms are always more forgiving towards their children. Not everyone will be that way. I knew you didn’t mean those words, but I also know you have been going through a lot, so have a lot of emotions you are working through.
    The Munch: Maybe you also knew you shouldn’t have broken my candy cane.

    She does look pretty bad ass right?

    don't-love-you-(i)

  • How Do You Treat People When You’re in a Bad Mood?

    How often do you get in a bad mood? Every week? Every day? Every few hours?

    What do your bad moods look like? Do you take it out on the people around you? Do you retreat into yourself? Do you punish your furniture or punch walls? Or do you paint pictures of Donald Trump with your menses?

    Everyone gets into bad moods. It seems like an unavoidable aspect of the human condition. We can’t have happiness without moments of darkness. We all feel waves of pessimism, and ironically, our own thoughts are often the cause of the turmoil.

    Most problems we have are not the external interference of someone intentionally fucking with you. The majority of our personal suffering we put on ourselves by being upset over things we have little control over. We thus end up spending a huge part of our lives managing this self-induced pain.

    But here is the problem with being in a bad mood. NO ONE LIKES TO BE AROUND SOMEONE WHO’S IN A BAD MOOD!

    Negativity is more contagious than a strand of herpes infested Ebola virus mixed with measles. When you are around someone who is complaining, wallowing, or finding the fault in everything – it is hard not to sink into the pit of despair with them. Bad moods are the quick sand of the emotional spectrum, and most people will run the other direction so as not to get sucked in.

    So the question then becomes, what do you do with yourself when you are in a bad mood? If you don’t honor your feelings, they tend to fester and breed. That energy has to be expelled somehow, because denial only delays the inevitable breakdown. The ideal would be to notice your bad moods, but allow them to float through you without attachment. Just let them pass like gas! Yet that can be really hard if you are not a Buddhist monk spending your life meditating in the forest!

    When you live with a kid, their moods are in a constant state of chaos. They can get angry about something as simple as having too many raisins in their granola. Which although is maddening, is not a reason to throw yourself on the floor and weep as if you just ate your cat by accident.

    When Munch is in a bad mood, she also happens to be a total asshole. It is hard to be empathetic to her anguish when I also think she is being a dick. I don’t want Munch to feel like there isn’t space to be her authentic expressive self; but I also don’t want to be an emotional punching bag in the process.

    Toni: Listen, Munch. I totally understand that life can be frustrating, and sometimes you get in a bad mood. I am never asking you not to feel your feelings. But I am asking you to start thinking how you treat people when you are angry inside. If you are in a bad mood, is it possible for you to also be kind?

    The Munch was quiet for a moment while she took this suggestion in. Then she looked at me as if she totally understood what I was saying, then dramatically threw her head back.

    Munch: BUT IT’S SO HARD!!!!!

    Exactly Munch…

    (This was her first day of school… and boy was she in a bad mood!)

    first day of school

  • Do You Get My Sense of Humor?

    Of course I want my kid to have her own personality, but I also like it when The Munch reminds me of me. The more like me she is, the more I relate to her, because you know, me.

    There are many ways in which The Munch and I see the world differently, and I embrace our divergent perspectives. She for one likes yogurt, where I happen to think it is worse than eating bear semen. She also has no interest in learning the rules to “Connect 4,” where I… actually that’s a really big problem and I need her to change that about herself immediately.

    My only hope was that my child would inherit a similar sense of humor to mine. If we can’t laugh about the absurdity of the world together, then how are we ever going to make it in this cold world? I know she isn’t sophisticated enough to understand the nuances of all my many vagina jokes, but I’m hoping the flaps and folds of her brain begin the birthing of that process.

    But you know what you guys? I think she’s starting to get it. For one, The Munch is beginning to wrap her mind around the concept of sarcasm. A few weeks ago some friends visited with their kids, and The Munch was really not into their children. They didn’t have a vibe she liked, they were pretty physically aggressive, and they made her room messy. We all had a plan to meet at the park, and when we got there, The Munch noticed that my friends’ car wasn’t there.

    Munch: Oh wow, it’s too bad your friends aren’t here yet.
    Toni: What do you mean?
    Munch: It’s just too bad they’re not here. I just really wish they were.
    Toni: You do?
    Munch: NO MOM! I AM JUST JOKING ON YOU!

    It was probably the proudest moment of my life. One single tear was shed knowing that my sweet little girl was slowly turning into the cynical bitch I know she can be.

    I don’t know about you, but I am a huge fan of pushing bruises. I mean what’s funnier than seeing a bruise on someone, and just giving it a little press?! So the other day I was giving The Munch an airplane ride, and she noticed some bruises on my leg. Even though said leg was holding her up in the air, The Munch looked at my bruise contemplatively, and then pushed the shit out of it! I almost dropped her from the shooting pain, but she didn’t care and just dug in harder. Munch then tackled me, trying to push the other ones. I mean… she just gets it. That is hilarious!

    You have to laugh at your own pain because otherwise you are overtaken by it.

    Okay so here is another one. About 2 years ago The Munch went to drink some juice, and an ant bit her uvula. You know, that punching bag in the back of your throat. The ant was stuck there for 2 days despite my many efforts to dislodge it. I never told Munch that it was an ant however, because I didn’t want to freak her out.

    That is until this weekend.

    Toni: Munch, remember when you got that black thing stuck in your throat, and you thought it was a blackberry?
    Munch: Yeah.
    Toni: Well, it wasn’t a blackberry. It was something else, but I didn’t want to tell you and make you upset.
    Munch: Well, what was it?
    Toni: An ant. An ant bit your uvula.
    Munch: AN ANT BIT MY UVULA! HAHAHAHAAHAHAAHAHAHAHA!

    She laughed the whole car ride home because that IS comedy gold.

    (Fun fact: I have received over 10 emails from people who had this exact same thing happen to them! I’m pretty sure I’m the foremost expert on Google for what to do when an ant bites your uvula. Just saying, I am kind of a big deal in that circle).

    I feel like The Munch is developing a sense of humor that is somewhat akin to mine, which makes me feel like I’m doing at least one thing right as a parent. Like when she saw this picture of herself, and insisted I show it to the entire dinner table (including her great grandmother) because The Munch knows comedy is more important than personal modesty.

    (Ps those are socks on her hands… for whatever reason).

    gets-it-blog-(i)

    How could you not want to push these bruises?

    get's-it-blog-(i2)