Thursday, April 11, 2019

Zoe vs. Self-Sufficiency: Hair-Washing Edition

I heard somewhere---or maybe I read it---that the main idea behind parenting is to raise functional, independent, contributing members of society. This is my goal for Zoe someday. But before she can get a job, vote, pay her bills, etc., she probably needs to learn how to wash Her Own Damn Hair.

Teri tries a new shampoo with jojoba oil, coconut essence, and LSD.

Zoe was born with an impressive mane of hair, and so from day one I had my work cut out for me. As she grew, coincidentally, so did her hair. Along with that, she developed an astounding ability to acquire knots, leading to extreme anguish on a daily basis when I tried to get a comb through her hair.
She would cry, and I would threaten to cut her hair short, and she would cry harder, until I got a pair of scissors---not to cut her hair, but to excise the most recalcitrant knots.
I believe there should be a direct correlation between a child complaining about how they look and taking care of it themselves.
So this was a New Year's resolution. I forget if it was mine or hers. She would learn to wash Her Own Damn Hair.
For those unfamiliar with calendars, January first was a few months ago, and she's still trying to weasel her way out of it, putting the same mental energy for excuses and avoidance that she applies to other things. For instance, for Lent she announced she was giving up Airheads, a candy she had just finished from her Halloween haul and so there were none left. And they were not her favorite, something she told me every time she ate another one.
Excuses for why she can't wash Her Own Damn Hair:
Her arms are too tired.
She's too tired.
She needs to sit.
She'll do it tomorrow night.
Can't I wash her hair? I do it better.
Well, of course I do, but that's not the point. So I force the issue. And it is an ordeal for both of us.
A woman stands outside a shower curtain, glasses fogging up, trying not to get wet, getting wet, exhorting her child to actually put her head back so that the top of her head gets wet and not just the ends of her hair. It's like she thinks her hairline begins way in the back of her head like the beverage-refusing Gestapo agent from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Bet we're thirsty now.

Mother: Put your head back. Farther back. Farther. Your hair's not wet yet. Tilt your head, tilt it, get the hair by your ears wet. Put all your hair back. Behind your shoulders; you still have some in front of your body. Pick it up IN YOUR HANDS and place it behind your bodeeeee. Oh my god. The hair above your ears is completely dry!
Child: After this can I have candy?
And this is before we even get to the shampoo, which, when I pour it into her hand, she proceeds to place it, carefully and precisely, on top of her head, like she's balancing an egg.
Mother: Rub it in. Work it IN to your hair. Lather up. Move your hands. More. Gather your hair on top of your head. Do it!
I'm yelling, I'm wiping my glasses on my damp pajama shirt. I might as well just get in there with her. 
Maybe 35 percent of her hair gets sudsy before I give up and tell her to rinse it out.  (Put your head back. Back!) Then there's the conditioner.
Two roads diverge, if you would. Down one: present yelling and crying to get the knots out of her hair. Down the other: still yelling and crying, but it comes farther down the road after she's dry and in her pajamas and I have to comb the knots out. So actually it's more like two roads converge or there's a wormhole or a wrinkle in time but instead of a wrinkle it's a snarl of blond hair.
And something else. This is a child who, with one minute before she has to leave for school in the morning, asks me to style two symmetrical mini buns in her hair so she can look like an individual named "Dove" from Roblox YouTube video, as if she's ever known her own mother's hair to vary from one of two styles: a) in a ponytail holder and b) just released from a ponytail holder so there's a semi-permanent bend in her hair from where the ponytail holder was.
So I censor my first few responses (my curses have more range than my hair styles) and ask her, "Did you at least brush your hair first?" Because I'm trying to get her to do that too.
"Yes?" she says.
I run my hand through her hair only for it to get caught halfway by an enormous knot.
Time for the scissors.

Zoe: 193; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Zoe vs. Picture Day.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Zoe vs. "Bohemian Rhapsody" A Parody

I don't know about you, but since the Oscars I've had "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen stuck in my head. That is, when I don't have Lego Movie 2's prescient "This Song Is Gonna Get Stuck Inside Your Head" stuck inside my head.

My Bohemian Rhapsody is about games. Mostly board games and card games but also computer games.
When Zoe was younger we'd play things like Candy Land or various Disney movie versions of Chutes & Ladders, and yes, I let her win (meaning, let her cheat).
She was four. I'd say letting her win made Candy Land interesting but nothing makes Candy Land interesting if you're not four.
Since then the Husband and I have played lots of games with Zoe from Uno to Chess to the Game of Life and Careers, and I thought at a certain point we'd broach the ideas of fair play and losing with grace and basically not cheating all the time, or at least not so obviously, or maybe it's better that her deviousness is transparent?
Well, we haven't gotten there yet. 
She doesn't whine like she used to at the first sign of something not going her way.
Not the first sign.
Her bad sportsmanship is more insidious. Like somehow there's a new rule you didn't know about or a rule that she "doesn't ever go by" . . . till it's your turn. If it's ever your actual turn.
So I've set my suffering to song. "Bohemian Rhapsody," specifically. Though in my rendition it's called . . .

You-Lose-Me-Win Rhapsody
Let's play the game Life
How 'bout Monopoly?
All chutes no ladders, I slide
She wins each game with me
Before your eyes
Anyone can see she cheats
I'm just a tired mom, my child lacks empathy
She says "lose your turn," "don't pass go"
Her score is high, mine is low
Anyway the die rolls, doesn't really matter to Z . . . to Z.

Mama, I took your pawn
Knocked your bishop in the head
Illegal move, don't care, he's dead
Mama, game time's just begun
After chess and checkers, what else can we play?
Mama, ooh ooh
Didn't mean to make you cry.
Let's play this game again this time tomorrow
Or maybe now, maybe now, the rules don't really matter

Probably too late, the time has come
To tell her that it's fine
No one wins games all the time
Goodbye, everybody, she's gonna blow!
Wasn't worth it to try to make her face the truth
Mama, ooh ooh (it's my turn but she goes)
"Now your king is gonna die"
Sometimes I wish I'd never sat down to play at all . . .

I see a slim to little of a chance
We don't play Clue. "Let's play Clue! Or will you play with me the Uno?"
"Battleship! Now fight me!" She's very very frightening me.
Connect 4-oh, Sorry!? No. How bout Nintendo? No playing Halo! God damn Hasbro!
Stratego? My lumbago!
I'm just a tired mom, my child no loves me.
She's just a tired mom, doesn't want to play Monopoly.
Spare her her life from cheating progeny
She wins some, you lose all, will she let you go?
Monopoly! She will not let her go, let me go
It's surely my turn! She will not let you go, let me go
No $200 for you, do not pass go! Why no pass go?!
(Will not let Mom go) let me go (never, never let Mom go) let me go (never let her go)
Oh oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no
Oh mama mia, mama mia,  mama mia, let her go
My eight-year-old puts a go-directly-to-jail card aside for me for me for me . . .

So you think you can cheat and I'll play one more time?
So you think I won't notice you palming the die?
Oh baby, can't do this to me, baby
Just gotta get out, just gotta get outta jail free
Oh oh oh yeah, oh oh yeah

The rules don't really matter
Anyone can see
The rules don't really matter
Fair play don't really matter to Z.

Zoe: 192; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Zoe vs. Mommy Land.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, February 21, 2019

Zoe vs. the Oscars 2019

The Academy Awards are this Sunday, so that means it's time for my sixth annual roundup of all the movies nominated for Best Picture. Continuing the downward trend, having seen four of the nine movies for 2017 and two of the nine last year, this year I've halved my tally again, seeing only one of the eight nominated. Maybe next year I'll only see a movie halfway through!
So now it's time to sum up this year's movies and how they reflect life with Zoe.

The Favourite: One thing about having an only child is you don't have to check that the coast is clear before saying to your kid, "Who's my favorite?" Whether it's American or British spelling, it's Zoe! Still, she sometimes vies for my attention as if she's competing with a sibling, or a cousin/courtesan currying royal favor. And yet she's the one who seems to think she's royalty, much like Queen Anne, expressing little interest in taking care of her responsibilities, preferring instead to partake in eccentric pastimes like pretend-narrating a YouTube fashion show, racing Lego dragons, or flossing (the dance not the dental hygiene), the latter of which gets her so hyped up I've contemplated drugging her tea.

Bohemian Rhapsody: The many moods of an eight-year-old girl are much like the music of Queen, particularly this song: a mix of styles ranging from operatic, to ballad, to rock. It's drama enough to give you whiplash. Especially if you ask her to do her homework, take a bath, or go to bed. Mama, didn't mean to make you cry, indeed.

Pfft! But can he do the floss?

Green Book: Seems magical but might really be a white-washing scam. Was that a critical review or parenting metaphor?

Black Panther: Okay, this is the one I saw. Notwithstanding the fact her favorite big cats are cheetahs, she does like panthers too. And, as an evil mastermind in training, the idea of developing advanced technology while hiding in a third world country is right out of her devious playbook. 

Roma: Featuring a middle-class family where the main character is a live-in maid. Zoe is part of a middle-class family. She is the main character. She thinks I am her live-in maid. Brooklyn!

Every mother ever who just wants personal space.

BlacKkKlansmen: It's a biography, a crime story, a comedy, a drama. In other words, it's a parenthood joint!

Vice: Who's really in charge? I wonder every day. Life with Zoe includes praiseworthy performances, polarizing behavior, getting shot accidentally (by a toy missile from a four-headed Lego dragon), and when it's time for bed and the credits roll and you think it's over, it starts up again because she needs a drink of water or to go to the bathroom, and it feels like the only end will be your own death, after which she'll harvest your organs. No regrets!

A Star Is Born: Enough said.

Zoe: 191; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy my first-ever post about the Oscars.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, January 10, 2019

Zoe vs. Laughter: With, At, Near & Around. Or, Mommy, You're NOT Funny!

Apologies, I've been neglecting this space for a while. The usual reasons---work, life, holidays, etc. 
But it's also because as Zoe gets older, it's harder to write about her. Her thoughts and feelings are more particular to the person she is becoming. And so it doesn't seem fair to tell stories about her without her having some control over them. Even if this blog has always been more about my own reactions to motherhood than telling deep dark secrets about Zoe. 
And even though I've obviously exaggerated some of her antics and alleged crimes against my humanity. The records have been sealed. (And you can read them here.)

Another issue is her sense of humor. 
I often think she's funny. 
Sometimes she thinks I'm funny. 
For the past few months, especially, only three types of jokes have been funny to her: 
1. Those concerning butts and their doings. 
2. Jokes SHE tells. 
3. Jokes that she tells ABOUT butts.
She DOES NOT like jokes where she thinks, rightly or wrongly, that she is the butt of the joke. Butts are not amusing when employed in that fashion.
Obviously Zoe has become trapped in what is popularly called binary thinking. That something can only be one thing or another. You are either laughing with her or at her. 
And if she's the only one not laughing, hold on to your butt.
Her mother, unfortunately for her, is someone who thinks mockery is the highest form of love.
It's going to be a rough couple of years. For us both.
So far I don't think my attempts to elucidate the concept of binary thinking have gotten through. It might be because I use words like "elucidate." 
I've been trying to explain the middle ground between laughing at and laughing with, that there's a third option---no, not laughing near the person, though I never fail to chuckle at that zinger. 
The third laugh, which is maybe not the middle ground, but more a transcendent laugh, is where you laugh at the person but with love. Because it's funny but also so true about that person, and you laugh because you enjoy them at their essence. 
Feeling my words must have effected a breakthrough to some greater, sophisticated understanding, I wait for her to speak, her face, changing every day but still my baby's face, wrinkling in thought. 
"One question," she says.
Of course, I say, flush with teachable-moment success. 
"Can I go on the iPad?"
And so I sigh and say, yes, "for half an hour," which I know will stretch to an hour, so I can get stuff done around the apartment, while trying to convince myself I'm funny, it's just my audience that's lacking, as in the background Zoe giggles at some goofy video on YouTube while sitting on the couch, scratching her tiny hilarious butt.

Zoe: 190; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Zoe vs. Some Truly Terrible Knock Knock Jokes, which may include more butt-focused humor. Okay, it does.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

   Mockery is to love as butts are to comedy. Enjoying analogies is to fun with words as fun with words is to clicking here to subscribe. 

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Zoe vs. Sicily. Part IV: The Injury Report, or, Dio Mio, I Twisted My Ankle, Quick, Apply Gelato!

We've now reached the final chapter of our trip to Sicily. Our story began with Zoe claiming grievous injury on the rocky beaches of Isola Bella. Next, she suffered heat, boredom, and dehydration along with an awkward anatomy lesson at the Valley of the Temples. Finally, she quite enjoyed the barbaric puppets we saw in Palermo.
On our last day in Sicily, we went to Mondello Beach, which might be the most beautiful beach I've ever been to.

This is saying something. Not because I'm well-traveled but because (beach-lovers, get ready to riot) I hate the beach. (*ducks to avoid metaphoric tomatoes)
Apologies to sun-worshipers, but I am not a beach person. Ten reasons, 1 through 9 being the sun. 
For as long as I can remember the sun and I have been locked in mortal combat, a battle I'm losing, which is probably for the best considering plants, life on Earth,etc., rely on its stupid light and warmth.
Reason 10 is sand. Not a fan.
However, Mondello Beach, though it had those 10 things, made me forget them; that's how beautiful it was. 
First of all, no rocks. So Zoe was happy, though she had to be convinced and still wore her water shoes when she went in, having not gotten over her suffering at Isola Bella.
Second, the water was clear, and so BLUE.
Third, you could wade out 100 feet and still the water only came to your waist, or Zoe's chest, another truth she resisted.
In fact, the water was so accommodating, our group decided to play a game of Keep Up with a beach ball.
Which is when I injured myself.
Though I didn't realize it for a while.
At one point I jumped to keep the ball in the air and when I came down, what felt like a rubber-band snapping happened in my right ankle. 
But after I stretched a few times it seemed better. In fact, I was walking fine. A while later I took Zoe to the bathroom, where she complained about the heavy doors and the wet floors, and then I took her to the food stand for lunch, where she complained about the selection and I bought for her what she said she would like and bought for myself what I thought she'd actually like, and we returned to our beach chairs where she rejected her lunch after one bite and claimed mine. All proceeding as expected, and my foot bore up well.
Until it was time to leave. I stood up and when I put pressure on my right foot I felt an excruciating pain.
How would I get myself back to the bus stop?
More concerning, how would I get to the gelateria, which was past the bus stop, to try "the best gelato ever," according to some of our family members who'd already made the trip.
Because I am a strong woman, whose strength can be rallied by even sub-par gelato, I made my way there, slowly, passing the bus stop, pressing on. Heroes don't wear capes. Because if they are wise they will have removed their capes in order to hold more gelato. 
Was the gelato the best ever? I'll just say this: they had four different kinds of pistachio. Zoe had chocolate. Her usual. She gave me a thumbs-up and a bite. So it was all worth it, I thought, as I hobbled and grimaced my way back to the bus stop.
Back at the hotel, I put my foot up and applied ice, and Zoe comforted me by watching cartoons in Italian.

In case you couldn't see my poor foot above,
here's how Zoe comforted me in my time of need.

Luckily it was our last night, so I just had to get home, a journey that was to take about seventeen hours because we had a stopover in Munich. 
We'd  stopped over in Frankfurt on our way to Sicily, and, you know that stereotype about Germans being very organized? Not so with their airports. Recalling the hike through the whole Frankfurt airport ten days before, we decided I should make use of a wheelchair, along with all the "perks" that went with that. A van would take me to Customs where I'd be on a special line. I took Zoe with me because I had her passport. Plus, I figured it would be easier than the Husband having to schlepp her with him. (The Husband couldn't come with us because this was against the rules according to the German Flughafensicherheit!!)
If I thought it was embarrassing being rolled through an airport in a wheelchair with my foot wrapped in an Ace bandage, not to worry, there was more embarrassment in store.
After Customs, there was another Flughafensicherheit! checkpoint, and there, the Sicherheitsbeamte Frau! said, in a perfect tone of Teutonic accusation, "You know you are earmarked for special security check?"
No, why would I know that? Was that even a question? Didn't I just see you stamp my boarding pass with the special Sicherheitskontrolle! stamp yourself?
So I had to go in a separate area, along with Zoe, to be scanned, chair, child, and all. Zoe looked worried, and I wanted to make a girl-bomb joke yet I sensed it would not be welcome by any of the parties present. However, one of the guards, also seeing the look on Zoe's face, smiled and said, "You are dangerous!" And we all chuckled, except for the Sicherheitsbeamte Frau! who swabbed my backpack and said she had to run a chemical test.
That came out clear so we were sent on to our gate, bypassing the shopping and food, which, naturally, gave Zoe more to complain about because the vending machines were out of water and recognizable food items---the remaining snacks were a bag of Dinkelchens and some Fritts, whatever they were.

Sadly, the vending machine was out of "Tasty White Children."

However---Wunderbar! and Fantastico!---I did have our Italian chocolate in our carry-on. Faces stuffed with dark chocolate, we waved arrivederci and Auf Wiedersehen! from the plane.
Violent marionettes, punishing sun, and injuries, real or imagined, aside, we'd all had a great time, and I wrote these posts to remind Zoe, when she complains that we're not in Sicily anymore, that though she did have a great time, she's always, always, found something to complain about, and so you could say I've always suffered more.
Veni, vidi, lamentato.

Zoe: 189; Universe: 0

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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