Sunday, February 9, 2020

Zoe vs. the Oscars 2020

The Academy Awards are tonight, so that means it's time for my annual roundup of all the movies nominated for Best Picture. As always, and in the interests of full transparency, I report my movies-seen to movies-nominated ratio, and this year I saw two of the nine movies, which is my "Oscars par" since I've been doing this, and which makes me eminently qualified to predict how the show will end: with me asleep on the couch.
So now it's time to sum up this year's movies and how they reflect life with Zoe.

Joker: Let's say you know a person who seems harmless but also puts out serious ticking time bomb vibes. Let's say they also think they're funnier than they are. And if they are confronted with reality, there may be an eruption of violence at worst, or, at best, the performance of a weird dance that makes all observers uncomfortable. Would this be their mother's fault? I think not.

Ford v Ferrari: A cutthroat competition. Fast-paced action. Testing the limits of physics. A strong chance of catastrophe. The observer's just along for the ride. This checks all the boxes of spending a day with Zoe. So let's just ignore the fact that we live in Brooklyn and we don't own a car.

1 out of 10 scientists find their combined handsomeness boring.

1917: Wartime: There are impossible orders to follow and it's a race against time or there will be terrible consequences for many. One camera tracks the action.
    2020: Dinnertime: There are impossible orders to follow, the consequences if I fail will be listening to complaints followed by a refusal to eat a perfectly healthy meal. It's a race against time, bedtime, after which I can finally rest. One long tracking shot, viewed from my sad face.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Described by one reviewer as "bold, beautiful, and brutal," conjuring nostalgia for the past, where things seemed better, but in reality featured a main character prone to epic tantrums. Add in a lot of purposeless hanging out which eventually ends in violence. Still, I would like to have a stunt double.

2 out of 10 scientists get 2 other handsome actors confused with these 2.

The Irishman: The similarities astound! First of all, this movie spent some years in development hell---an apt description for pregnancy! Zoe's early years were characterized by an incipient criminal enterprise, alternately pointing the finger at others or refusing to incriminate herself, and an aborted attempt to bring down the Cuban government. Among her set, I suspect finger-painting is a euphemism for murder. And at the end of a day, I could use some de-aging software, cause three hours sometimes feels like forever.

Parasite: Do I even need to say anything?

Marriage Story: This is a deep dive into the slow painful dissolution of a marriage with complicated emotions and no easy answers. Supposed to be brilliant, but also, y'know: BUMMER. I think the point is how having a child can destroy a marriage. But I disagree. I think anyone who has a child knows the opposite is true. Children keep you together because nothing unites people like having a common enemy.

9 out of 10 scientists came up with an equation:
 unusual looks + good actor = handsome?

Jojo Rabbit: If, when Zoe was smaller, she had an imaginary friend, is it out of the question it would've been Hitler? Would she have been capable of butchering a tiny cute rabbit without any remorse? One thing I know is, she's not above spreading propaganda when it suits her.

Little Women: Along with Joker, this was one of the ones I saw. I took Zoe, in fact. I thought Zoe might be upset by the death of Beth (spoiler alert! but not really, because everyone should know that), because her death bothered me as a kid. When Beth died I thought that meant only the good died young, as in, that was why she died, so it was maybe better to not be so nice, like conceited Amy. As a Catholic child, I felt conflicted. Anyway, I shouldn't have worried. Zoe took Beth's death in stride, not having related to her gentle kindness at all. She did relate to Jo, which was nice, except Zoe didn't understand why Jo broke things off with Laurie. Laurie was funny, and the actor Timothee Chalamet is "cute."

1 out of 1 middle-aged white mothers
who write this blog want to smack him in the face.

Her mother has a different viewpoint, and at my age, though I do still relate to Jo, I relate more to Marmee, and though Laurie may be cute, it's more in the pejorative sense of the word, as in, You think you're real cute, don't you, Laurie? Or maybe I relate more to Aunt March, especially as played by Meryl Streep. Who wouldn't want to have enough money and maturity not to care as you delivered barbed comments to your dependents. #FutureGoals. I also wouldn't mind being Meryl Streep. Especially at Oscar time. #Winning.

Zoe: 196; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy my very first Oscars post.
For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

   Click here to subscribe. 

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Zoe vs. Is It Inappropriate? AKA: The Day the LOLZ Died

Have you heard that last year's biggest toy for Christmas has a new line this year? And that some parents are not happy? First, if you don't know what LOL Surprise dolls are, let me explain.
LOL Dolls are tiny dolls with disproportionately huge heads (OMG SOOO CUTE!). They come inside little plastic balls that your child unwraps, revealing smaller (SURPRISE!) accessories---tiny outfits, little purses, and sunglasses---on the way to the big reveal of what doll you get. It's a collect-them-all Dantesque nightmare, just with tiny shoes that instantly (OMG!) get lost. Plus, glitter! 
Zoe got a whole bunch last year for Christmas. Did I mention they have THEMES! For instance: OMG! Fashion!, Glitter Glam!, and Swag!, all with exclamation points exactly where you'd think and also where you wouldn't think! But wait! There's more!

Don't let the big eyes fool you. They will LOL while they slit your throat.

There are also even smaller (AW!) Little Sister versions and pets, also with accessor!es. Some you put in water and their hair changes color . . . at which point the FUN! is just SO MUCH!... for about ten minutes. And then you lose one shoe from each pair.
But don't worry, you'll never ever lose the glitter! That's with you for life!
And because---viva la variety!---this year we have LOL Boys! And, LOL!! they are anatomically correct. That's right, ladies and gentlemen, maybe hold back one LOL! if you haven't yet had THAT conversation with Dear One, because what's getting unwrapped this Christmas is AWKWARD! Talk about a surprise package!

I censored the scandalous, I mean, God's beautiful teachable moment.

Naturally some parents are a tad upset.
Let's go back in time, shall we, to the days when toys were less LOL! and more Puritanical and no one was allowed to laugh quite as loudly---or if we did, we spelled it the right way, by God! Remember Ken and his neutered smoothness stored discreetly in hot pants? Though he did have a butt! And truly what is more old-fashioned lowercase lol than a butt for the under-ten set?
Well, that was so twentieth century. The twenty-first is all about dolls with tiny grape-like yet detailed constructions tucked into their tiny plastic hot pants. I wonder what happens when you put them in water?
All I can say is, add LOL Boys to Uncomfortable Topics for Christmas Dinner.
For extra credit, see if you can steer the conversation toward adjacent divisive topic circumcision! 
Now really what better toy can there be for a little girl like Zoe, who claims she can see cartoon characters' penises through their cartoon pants, and then asks me if that's inappropriate.
What does one say to this?
I'm really asking.
Because she asks me daily and my "It's okay, dear" is wearing thin but not as thin, apparently, as Snotlout Jorgenson's trousers in How to Train Your Dragon.
So if she gets one of these LOL Boys for Christmas she's likely to a) notice, b) comment on it, and c) point it out to strangers on line at CVS.
If Zoe was Haley Joel Osment in Sixth Sense, when she saw a dead person, the fact they were dead would not concern her as much as what they were wearing and whether it was revealing too much rotting skin.
So you'd think I'd be prepared and on high alert myself for inappropriateness, but nope. I recently put up four Art Deco prints in our bathroom and hadn't even noticed this one:

L Eau

Can we all see the butt of the gentleman coming out of the lake?

Le buttocks

Can we all guess who saw it immediately and zeroed in on it?
Then there's this one:

Le feu

Don't see anything? Look at the vase.

Le hermaphrodite?

Two more to go. See any problems?

La Terre

No? Look again. Those trees have boobs.

Le arbre a seins

Zoe is now calling them boob trees.
Personally I think she's reaching with the last one, but she swears she can see butts in the clouds.

L Air

Well, maybe.

Le tushie

But I'd argue that that's the only image she ever sees in clouds. Whenever this child looks up, I suspect that all she sees are cloud-butts and boobs in trees. Maybe she should keep her eyes on the ground. Where there are puddles. Shaped like penises.

Zoe: 195; Universe: 0
If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy this Christmas post: Zoe vs. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.
For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

   For more LOLZ, click here to subscribe. 

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Zoe vs. General Observations Better Left Unsaid

You remember several months ago when I said it's getting harder to post about Zoe as she gets older? This is why the months since I've posted have been several.
As Zoe becomes more of a person I feel the need to respect her privacy in case she's ever embarrassed by something she's done. So far she's embarrassed over things she shouldn't be and not embarrassed over things she should be. This, I suspect, will change.
In the meantime, I'm the parent, so I'm supposed to have restraint; I'm supposed to care about whether or not she's embarrassed. I'll tell you something I've discovered about this caring: it's a one-way street. And I travel it alone.
As the child, Zoe has little regard for her mother's, or really, anyone else's, humiliation, or to say it another, more accurate, way, she's very comfortable exploring and discussing others' humiliations., behind their backs, in front of their faces, whatever, she's not discerning.
Charmingly, right now, she's going through a phase of excessive truthiness, truthiness of observable facts that will hurt people's feelings if said out loud but that she NEEDS to say out loud if only to have me confirm she's still a good person even though she has these thoughts.
Each day she informs us who she's seen that day who has a pimple, or smells funny, or is fat. And at first we responded by telling her it's okay to notice these things---often you can't help it---but that didn't mean she needed to say them out loud, and moreover, she shouldn't focus on appearance so much.
Then the eye of terrible judgment and truth turned on us, her loving parents.

It began with, Is it okay if she sometimes loves Daddy more than Mommy, and vice versa?
Naturally, whichever one of us she asked was the one who was enjoying Less Than Favored Status at that particular moment. So, of course, we'd reassure her our love (unlike hers!) was not conditional.
A sensitive child, at least in the sense that she was sensitive enough to realize she should appear to be sensitive, she'd sometimes clarify the REASONS WHY she loved one of us more than the other at that particular time, or even better (!), what qualities she was celebrating or denigrating, depending. And so I'd hear things like: I like to play with Daddy more than I like to play with you, and he'd hear things like: I want Mommy to put me to bed or come in to the bathroom with me or to help me do this, that, or the other, the clear implication being Mommy is the nurturer, sure, but also, super clearly, the workhorse, and Daddy is FUN!
Soon, as you probably were expecting, she began sharing, always with sad regret and a performance of guilt, observations she just had to get off her chest, usually about my graying hair, my expanding waistline, and whether or not she thought my outfit was flattering. 
I would reassure her that I forgave her for having these thoughts while emphasizing she didn't need to share them. And I'd say no matter what, I still loved her, albeit through increasingly gritted teeth. 
Taking a shower soon became a gamble, a fifty-fifty chance I'd step out of the tub to be greeted by a frank appraisal of my perimenopausal body. Did I know how pale I was? Did I know I had rolls of fat on my stomach, especially when I bent over to dry my feet? Did I know "insert another non-supermodel factoid" about my hips, thighs, or the shiny heels of my feet?
Indeed, my precious child, I did know.
Eventually I'd had enough. The Husband and I sat her skinny youthful eight-year-old ass down and reminded her of when she was smaller and we'd tell her to use her inside voice.
Did she remember that?
She nodded.
Well, Daddy and I want you to do that, just, now, more inside. Like way inside. Like in your head.
She nodded, slowly, turning that over in her mind.
Since then she's been trying. Sometimes. Though quite often still, when she's chatting away, and suddenly stops midsentence, her distracted gaze lingering on my midsection or the roots of my hair, I can almost hear what she's thinking, so really she doesn't need to say it.
But, god bless her, she says it anyway.

Zoe: 194; Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Zoe's and my previous entanglements with truthiness in the aptly named Zoe vs. The Truth.

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

   You CAN handle the truth, click here to subscribe. 

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
I need a win here, people. 

   Don't let things get hairy, click here to subscribe. 

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
I need a win here, people. 

   Don't stop me now, click here to subscribe.