Kids
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  • 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: 2821

  • Raising a Little Conformist

    When you have a baby, and that baby cries, it’s not trying to manipulate you. An infant cries because it has a genuine need, and that’s its only mode of communication. The first year of parenting is simple in that way. Your baby cries, so you address their relatively basic problems. (I’m hungry, I’m tired, I have to fart, I have a shit in my pants). But as soon as your kid becomes a toddler and understands that it’s screaming can make you do things you don’t want to do – but will do anyway just to shut them up – you bet your sweet ass that kid is going to exploit the shit out of your weaknesses.

    Once your child is no longer a baby, you have to start considering a discipline strategy, and how you are going to condition them. You’re not just raising a kid, but a future adult you’re going to have to deal with for the rest of your life. There is a major shift of consciousness that has to place for the parent making this transition. Figuring out how and when to say “no” to your child is more complex than you’d think. You don’t want to give into all your kid’s demands because then your kid will be an asshole when they grown up. But when you push back and deny your kid of what they want… they turn into a serious fucking asshole right in front of your goddamn face.

    Modern parents are all products of the baby boomer generation and I love you guys, but you were kind of neglectful parents in a lot of ways. LOVELY people those baby boomers… but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only person in my 30’s who was raised by a Television. Probably why the Bill Cosby story was such a hard roofie-cocktail to swallow – it was like finding out your Dad was a rapist. HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO US DADDY!!!!

    So a lot of us who are parenting now are doing so in direct reaction to feeling slightly abandoned as children. Yet with every pendulum swing, a lot of times things go wayyy too far in the other direction. As children we may have been latchkey kids, but we also had independence, which was crucial. Today’s kids can hardly even pick their noses without parental supervision. We’re so afraid that our kids won’t feel cared for, that we don’t give them any space to figure out the world on their own.

    The same thing goes for discipline. There has been a major shift of thinking regarding how to deal with a kid’s emotional outbursts. Spanking is now ONLY appropriate between two consenting adults in the bedroom. Most of us can agree that yelling at a child is ineffective and cruel. Ignoring your kid only makes them create more havoc to get your attention. Yet rationalizing with a young child is bit like talking to Donald Trump. There are moments when they speak complete sentences and seem to understand you, but then they just say random words and make funny faces.

    In my personal parenting journey I have been working with two concepts. One idea is that I want The Munch to know she is allowed to have emotions, and doesn’t have to not feel the pressure to “always be happy” or “suck it up.” I am a new age hippy who drinks water filtered by moon beams, so of course I my want my kid to be connected to her emotional self and explore the entirety of her emotional spectrum. At no point do I want to be a force that enforces emotional repression. But… I also don’t want to create a goddamn monster that allows herself to express every feeling like an emotional terrorist!!!

    So my strategy has been trying to find a balance between these extremes. When she is upset I ask if there is a solution to her problem. If she is too pissed to think of solutions I suggest she go into her room where she can feel all she wants, but I don’t have to be a witness to her outburst. Then when she is ready to talk, we can talk about solutions and move forward with our lives.

    It took time to get this to work, but now that she is 6, we are in a pretty good place. Not just because of my parenting of course, it’s not like I’m some kid whisperer. Her personality was easy to work with because The Munch’s natural disposition is pretty mellow. She has her moments of expected child rage, but her core essence isn’t very confrontational. She is mostly a “well behaved” kid, and when she is feeling really upset and doesn’t want to be reasonable, she goes into her room and then comes out when she is ready to discuss things more rationally.

    All great right??

    NOT SO SURE!!!

    This is the NEW problem that I’m seeing. The Munch is REALLY RESPECTFUL OF AUTHORITY!

    The Munch listens to her teachers at school, and takes instruction very seriously. When she recently had to deal with the hospital and all her surgery she did everything the doctor said, and was very compliant. The doctor said on multiple occasions “what a good girl she is.” The Munch went to the dentist for the first time yesterday and came home wanting to brush her teeth 3 times a day and floss every morning and night. She listened to her dentist because she is a “good little girl” who does what she is told.

    HOLY SHIT I HAVE CREATED A MONSTER!!!

    Have I raised a little conformist!!!??

    As a parent yes I want my daughter to listen to me… but as a woman I want my daughter to LISTEN TO NO ONE!!!!!!!!!

    As a parent it is really amazing that she is so easy tempered, empathetic, thoughtful, nice, caring, but as a feminist I want her TO SHAKE SHIT THE FUCK UP AND CHALLENGE ALL STEROTYPES AND NEVER MAKE IT EASY FOR MEN TO TAKE ADVTAGE OF HER!

    As a parent it is so nice that my kid takes direction well, shows adults respect, isn’t a problem at school, is easy to teach… but as a wannabe revolutionary… FUCK AUTHORITY! FUCK THE POLICE! FUCK THE SYSTEM!!! FUCK GOVERNMENT!!

    Do you see my problem!!

    So here is my plan for the next 6 years… slowly undo every thing I have done and recondition her. This way by the time she is 12, she will be a fucking nightmare – just in time for her teen years. She can rebel against everything and everyone, have ton of fun, and become a total bad ass. Then from 18-24 we find the balance between the two.

    conformist-blog

    October 5, 2016 • Disciplining, Education, Family Drama, Mommyhood, Parenting • Views: 3432

  • Baby Xanax For Planes

    Anytime I get on a plane and realize I’m going to be sitting next to a toddler, a piece of me dies. Not that I don’t like kids – well fine I don’t really like other people’s kids at all. Especially when trapped next to one for 6 hours while inside a tube of metal that’s flying through the air. Probably why someone needs to manufacture “Baby Xanax for Planes.”

    The other day I was on a plane and across the aisle from me was a dad with his 2-year old daughter. This guy’s wife and other daughter were seated at the back of the plane, so he was on daddy duty. The little girl was playing quietly, and I was actually kind of impressed. It seemed like a sweet seem. They were a cute little family – until they weren’t.

    As the plane was ready to take off, the little girl started to freak the fuck out. She wiggled out of her seatbelt, and started screaming about how she wanted to find her mom. But since we were about to FLY THROUGH THE AIR, this was not allowed.

    Obviously I have a kid, and am totally aware that children have tantrums during inopportune circumstances. Every parent has experienced a massive meltdown that is mega embarrassing, and really poorly timed. Even though I have endless compassion for this kind of chaos, what I was witnessing was also really annoying the shit out of me. Not the kid crying. That was fine. But how the dad was reacting.

    He had a backpack that was FILLED with different toys, amenities, snacks, iPads, and from what I could tell – a goddamn amusement park. I have never seen anyone better equipped in my life, but I realized, he was actually too prepared.

    He kept offering the kid things to placate her, but she had way too many things to choose from. She had 700 different flavors of granola bars, 400 coloring books, 62 dolls, and half a million arts and crafts covered in glitter.

    It was like a rapid-fire list of indulgences he kept proposing to her.

    Airplane Dad: Honey do you want to color? Play a game? Watch this cartoon? Watch that cartoon? Have some candy? Eat a gluten-free gluten bar?

    The more ideas he was suggesting, the more agitated the kid was getting. All the while, every passenger was like, “sit the fuck down in your seat kid, so we can get this plane in the goddamn air.” We were next in line to take off after an hour of taxiing. This was NOT THE TIME TO DICK AROUND LOOKING FOR MOMMY! WE GOT TO GO!

    The fight attendant tried to intervene, but this kid was not having it. She refused to get back in her seat, and obviously we couldn’t fly until she did.

    As this dad started to prepare a filet mignon in an attempt to seduce his kid into sitting in her seat, I thought maybe rather than staring and judging, I should try and do something to be of assistance.

    Toni: Can I help you?

    Airplane Dad: No.

    He then literally presented her with a rodeo clown riding a pony, but her discontent still couldn’t be satiated. The only thing he didn’t try doing was saying, “Hey sweetie-pie – why don’t you sit the fuck down because the plane is going to fly through the air and if you slow down that process from happening, we will be executed by the other passengers. So take this lollipop and shut up. ”

    In our first world, irrationally materialistic, overly excessive, excessively abundant culture – we have wayyyyy too much shit. Yeah you may feel like you’re being a good parent when you give your child everything they could possibly want including a vile of dragon blood to entertain them, but you actually aren’t doing them any favors. Of course we have good intentions when wanting to indulge our kids, but that undermines their vast ability to imagine. Or find a wooden stick and hoop interesting.

    Humans don’t do well when presented with too many options. It’s like our wires get crossed and our brain frizzes. We actually do better with boundaries and limited options. It is easier to make decisions when there is less on the table.

    So the next time I take The Munch on a trip, I am just going to bring a box of toothpicks for her to play with. She may resent me at first, but then maybe, just maybe, she will quietly enjoy the plane ride while playing with good old “toothpick man.”

    Look how fun!!

    toothpick_person_by_tiemiosho

    March 9, 2016 • Behavior, Disciplining, Parenting, Toddling • Views: 6386

  • My Life is Totally Meaningless… NBD

    The other day I came home and went upstairs to Munch’s room to see what she wanted for dinner. I sat on her bed, and she told me she just needed a minute to finish making a bunk bed for her dolls before she could decide. I figured that seemed like a reasonable request, and decided to be patient – like a good parent. But then I realized I had left my phone downstairs, and had a mild anxiety attack.

    The Munch had taken a small stool, and turned it upside down so the four legs were facing up. She then took a wire-framed doll bed, and balanced it on top of these precarious posts. Once the top bunk was secured, she would make the bed with her little doll mattresses, blankets, and pillows.

    It was usually the last pillow that would set everything awry. The weight of the tiny materials would undoubtedly disrupt the stability of the wire bed on the stool. Rather then rebalancing the bed with the mattress, blanket, and pillows still intact – The Munch would take the entire thing apart and do it all over again.

    I watched this process for about a half an hour. Balancing the bunk bed, making the bed, accidently disrupting the bed, starting over.

    As I sat there I realized that what I was watching was a metaphor for my artistic process. The perfection of this bunk bed is totally unimportant task to everyone but Munch. She is the only person that this bed matters to, and yet she is treating said bed like it is the most vital thing in the world.

    It doesn’t matter if anyone else will see this bed. She sees it. Therefor she has to make it exactly the way she wants it, even though the result is utterly futile.

    The Munch making and re-making this bed is the physical manifestation of the insanity of my existence. At that moment I realized that my life is utterly meaningless. My artistic method only holds value to me, just like the bunk bed only has value to The Munch. It became so painfully clear that creativity exists in a vacuum – and the only way to release the pressure is admit that you are the one both sucking and blowing hot air.

    Just as I was about to weep tears of sorrow about the senselessness of life I realized “holy fuck Toni didn’t you also eat weed chocolate about an hour ago – and is that maybe contributing to your thought process?” But who knows?

    doll bed

    doll-bed-blog

    February 9, 2016 • Mommy Mind, Musings, Playing • Views: 3176

  • I Spend Most of My Time With You Trying To Avoid You

    I realized the other day that most of the time that I am home with my kid; I am trying to avoid her. If The Munch comes into the room I am in I will just stand there perfectly still, hoping she doesn’t notice me. It’s like I’m at Jurassic Park trying to avoid a loose Velociraptor. One slight movement and The Munch will see me with her peripheral vision, then ask me to do something for her.

    Kids can be really fucking high maintenance!

    First she will want me too look for something impossible. Like the red “play mobile” fork she was using for her “My Little Pony Set up.” Keep in mind said fork is literally the size of a ladybug wing. This goddamn utensil is so small you can’t see it with the naked eye, and yet somehow I am supposed to spend 45 minutes of my life searching for it.

    Then she will ask me to make her food. Of course you want your child to be well fed, but every request The Munch has is so complicated I feel like a chef at a 5 star restaurant. She will want a smoothie with peaches, two raspberries, a dash of vanilla, and seasoned with the shavings of a unicorn horn. There is always so much preparation and clean up associated with everything she wants to eat, and then I have to be at peace with the fact that only 1/3 of what I made actually goes it into her mouth hole. The rest she spills all over the table. I swear to god if The Munch had it her way, she would have a soufflé for an afternoon snack and flambé for dinner.

    Of course there is also the request that I play with her. I love my kid, but holy fuck playing can get real boring. It’s okay for 10 minutes – but imagining that we are kitties at the kitty shop that have to take care of the crying babies who need their diapers changed so they can fly is my idea of a nightmare. I love talking to The Munch – hanging out, cuddling, drawing – things of this nature. But when I have to take on the role of a playmate my attention span has an expiration date.

    The Munch is really good about self-entertaining, but I can’t always count on it. Some days all she wants is to get up in my grill, and make demands of me. Yet there are those blissful days when The Munch will keep herself occupied for hours in room. Of course during these serene moments I move like a ninja so as not to bring attention to my presence. If someone were to come into my house and disturb this vibe of her not needing me, I would put them in a sleeper hold. And maybe slit their throat and dispose of the body under my kitchen table. Anything to keep the Zen.

    My favorite time with my kid is when we are both in the house peacefully doing our own thing. She will be playing with her toys pretending that one of her stuff animals is hanging to death, and I will on my phone overwhelmed with feelings of self-doubt and personal loathing. Just like they did in the olden days.

    flower crown munch

    February 2, 2016 • Behavior, Mommy Mind, Mommyhood, Parenting, Playing • Views: 2946

  • 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