Thursday, March 29, 2018

Zoe vs. Roseanne: A Review

All I can say is: And Zoe thinks I'm sarcastic. Not that I let her watch when TV's most sarcastic mother returned to TV in the Roseanne reboot Tuesday. But I watched it. Partly because of the hype. Partly because I had watched the show when it originally aired in the late eighties/early nineties.
But also because I've never quite made up my mind about Roseanne Barr herself.

Review of the Roseanne reboot

I was a teenager when Roseanne premiered the first time around, and though I found it funny, what mostly got my attention was how much the Conners argued and yelled. The first time I watched, I remember Becky fighting with Roseanne and finally yelling, "I hate you!" before stomping up to her bedroom. I was shocked by this. No one ever would've said that in my house. It was unthinkable.
But then came Roseanne's response, which shocked me in a different, almost revelatory, way. She said, "Good. Then I'm doing my job."
It still resonates with me today as maybe the best response, to remain completely unperturbed when your child or teen hurls some unreasoning emotion at you, to let them know that you're not going to be bothered by their nonsense and won't be swayed. And maybe throw in some sarcasm for good measure.
After all, as I like to say, Mockery is the highest form of love.
This is not to say that my mom style is Roseanne Conner.
For one thing, that would take a lot more commitment. I tease Zoe but I don't want to make her cry. 
Or at least only when she needs it for personal growth, as in: Crying doesn't work on Mommy when your goal is to eat all the candy while playing all the Minecraft and doing none of the homework.
You get the idea.
Back to my ambivalence about Roseanne. I've always felt like I was supposed to like her, just by virtue of her being a strong female comedian. On the other hand, she's, well, she's Roseanne. Crass and reveling in it and somehow---call me crazy---I get the feeling she'd be a little too much Roseanne to be around all the time. Plus, as a mom, I don't want to be an unrelenting sour note.
I've always appreciated her comic style, the cutting through crap to expose a truer if oftentimes uglier side of things. However, I wonder if, as self-aware as she seems to be, is she quite aware of the extent of her own crap?
I've always had this default position where I assume self-deprecating people have built-in wisdom, but that's not necessarily true. In any case, Roseanne Conner is not the kind of mom I really want to be for Zoe. Even if I have a wry to fatalistic view on life and its absurdities, I think it'd probably be good if a seven-year-old has a rosier view. At least until she's in high school.

Zoe: 181; Universe: 0

 If you enjoyed this post, you may like this walk down TV memory lane when Zoe takes on the Fonz.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, March 15, 2018

Zoe vs. Stephen Hawking. Or, A Brief History of a Seven-Year-Old Who Doesn't Understand What Brevity Is

Stephen Hawking died yesterday, and I'd be remiss if my blog with universe in its name didn't offer a tribute to probably the world's most well-known theoretical physicist and cosmologist, who wrote A Brief History of Time.
The only thing that's brief about Zoe is her height. When it comes to telling a story, she doesn't know from brevity. Just the other morning she was telling me about a dream she had. It went like this:
"I had a dream last night, or maybe actually it was ten weeks ago, or something like that, or was it yesterday? I don't know, and I don't remember what I dreamed about, never mind, by the way, did I tell you about the Queen who's the Real Most Powerfulest Thing in the World [trademark pending]? She's in charge of the universes. There are three universes. They are 1) itself, 2) Paradise 3) the core...."
I suppose Hawking might've said Zoe's stories are like black holes in the way they suck in time and energy from all nearby bodies. However, I have to admit, she does emit light in her own inimitable way. Also, mucus. Lots of it.

A Brief History of a Seven-Year-Old Who Doesn't Understand What Brevity Means

Since Zoe has designs on eventually taking over the universe or universes, however many there are, it does seem like she'd be interested in what Hawking had to say about it/them---that is, the properties of her future property. Though she probably thinks a cosmologist is the same as a cosmetologist, and that the latter's work has more to contribute to society, and are we really going to argue with a seven-year-old girl about this? No one's got time for that, unless they're a star or maybe that black hole I mentioned.
I guess.
I don't know since I only just realized that the advance of scientific knowledge didn't come to an abrupt halt when I graduated high school, which is the last time I studied it, and probably the last time I was up to date on cosmetological concerns as well, albeit just as confused regarding them.
Expanding outward---just like the universe has been since the Big Bang (bask in that!)---today, as a tribute to Stephen Hawking, here are some of his most famous quotes, with commentary by Zoe.

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge." 
I know what that means. I'm not going to explain it to you though.

"People won't have time for you if you are always angry or complaining." 
Define always.

"Not only does God play dice, but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen." 
That's cheating. And I know because I sometimes do that when the dice fall on the floor and I tell Mommy I rolled doubles and she says, "Did you really?" And I say nothing because I'm thinking what to say and then even though I haven't said anything she seems to know I'm pretty much thinking about lying and she says, "Lying is also cheating," but if even God cheats, then I now have a comeback for her next time.

"Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking." 
In other words, Mommies should listen to their children when they tell them about Minecraft.

"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet."
That's how you trip so I'm not going to do that.

"The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired."
Aka, why my room is not "a mess" that I "need to clean up, especially the Legos" like Mommy says. It's Art. I'm an artist.

"It would not be much of a universe if it wasn't home to the people you love."
And Legos.

Zoe: 180; Universe: 0

 If you enjoyed this post, you may like this one.

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I need a win here, people. 

"Life would be tragic if it weren't funny." --Stephen Hawking, so:
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Thursday, March 1, 2018

Zoe vs. the Oscars 2018

The Academy Awards are this weekend, so that means it's time for my fifth annual roundup of all the movies nominated for Best Picture. This go-round I've actually seen TWO of the nine movies nominated.
And I've seen FOUR of the nine nominated in 2017. Where's my Oscar?
So now it's time to sum up each movie, having only actually seen Dunkirk and Get Out, and show how each reflects my life with Zoe.

Oscars 2018

Darkest Hour: Sometimes as a parent you just don't know if you should negotiate or go to war. Sometimes things seem bleakest just before the dawn because you haven't slept any of the actual dark hours and now there's no point since you have to get ready to go to work. And then sometimes, after a night without sleep, you don't even look like yourself but not in a way that'll give anyone an award for Best Makeup or Costume.

Dunkirk: Parenthood as a story of survival including struggles with evacuating. Enough said.

The Shape of Water: I read that the lead female character is a voiceless, isolated woman who spends a lot of time cleaning a place where there's a strange mysteriously wet creature who's like something out of science fiction, and I gotta say I relate.

How high the bath water has to get before a child will turn it off.

The Post: Did you say blog post? Sometimes it's hard to bring you, dear reader, the truth as an agent of inestimable power works against me in overt as well as covert ways.

Call Me By Your Name: Ok, so it's a coming-of-age story but otherwise it's a stretch to connect with Zoe's and my life since a gay male romance set in Italy is a far cry from our day-to-day. However, I do relate to the seeming confusion expressed by the title, since some days I forget my own name and Zoe's and end up whisper-yelling some other kid's name in a church.

Phantom Thread: Daniel Day-Lewis plays a person whose carefully tailored life is disrupted by love. (Aw!)

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri: A dark comedy with refusals to back down and unsolved crimes is a fair description of my life; only the cursing is internal because I keep it PG.

Get Out: What a useful phrase! Applied to so many scenarios since I've become Zoe's mom. Get out of my bed! My room! My jewelry box! Get out of that mound of dirt and go play on an actual park apparatus like all the norms! Or how about, we're leaving, get your shoes on and get out the door! It's a warning, a directive. And a reminder to be paranoid as I wonder why does she keep gesturing that way with her spoon is she trying to hypnotize me?

My expression when Zoe says something that mortifies me
except, unlike the character in the movie, sinking into the floor would've been blessed relief.

Lady Bird: A strong-willed daughter versus her strong-willed mother. An outspoken young person asserting her individuality. Lady Bird can be critical of what she loves but deep down her critique is a mask for her loving attention to her subject.

Zoe: 179; Universe: 0

 If you enjoyed this post, you may like this one.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, February 8, 2018

Zoe vs. Justin Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling": A Parody

Have you ever tried to leave your house with a child? As in, a child who had to leave with you or Social Services might serve you with side-eye and a summons? If so, you may have noticed that leaving took longer than you would've thought possible.
When you try to leave your house with a child, time seems to slow down as if you're being pulled into a black hole, one involving mismatched shoes, unnecessary Lego adjustments, and general nonsense.
On Sunday, as the Husband, Zoe, and I watched the Super Bowl at a friend's house, I was reminded how difficult it is to get her places and then get her out of those places in order to return home. During the halftime show, as Justin Timberlake was transporting sexy back and forth from one thematic set piece to another, I looked over at Zoe and thought, if it takes as long to leave here as it took to leave our home in order to get here, I better start telling her to get her shoes on even though we have a few more songs and a couple more quarters to go.

Today I've written a parody of Timberlake's "Can't Stop the Feeling " to express that certain special frustration that every parent feels when they're trying to leave the house with a child who does absolutely everything but actually get themselves ready to go. I'm calling it "Please Stop, We're Leaving." Enjoy!

Please Stop, We're Leaving!
Each time we're leaving, from our home
You have to be asked 10 million times to put on clothes
You dropped my earring. You lost the post.
Then yell, Mommy, can you help me blow my nose?

Now I've got used tissues in my pocket
Got a feeling of defeat
Feel frustration in my body as the iPad drops
If I take my eyes up off you
You progress infinitesimally
Check the clock, see how it mocks me
So please stop

And under the bench is where all the shoes go
Yes, put them on, but first put on clothes
Why you're not ready, no one really knows
I can't imagine, can't imagine, can't imagine

You know we're late, why haven't you put 
on pants, pants, pants?
We should've left a while ago, put
on pants, pants, pants
Stop doing stuff you shouldn't do
instead, get on pants, pants, pants
I guess we won't be leaving soon
and now you're dancing

Please stop, we're leaving!
Get on pants, pants, pants
We should be leaving!
Get on your pants, pants, pants
Come on

Ugh, it's something tragical
You pet the cat, you stare in space, turn TV on
I'm losing all reason, losing control
My frustration's high, I can't believe you're on my phone.

Cause I got used tissues in my pocket
Got a feeling of defeat
Feel frustration in my body as the iPad drops
If I take my eyes up off you
You progress infinitesimally
Check the clock, see how it mocks me
So please stop

Stop flicking lights and put on your clothes
I'm gonna cry, feeling so lachrymose
Why you're not ready, no one really knows
I can't imagine, can't imagine, can't imagine

Put your toys back in your room
Put on pants, pants, pants
How many times can I say we're leaving till you
Put on pants, pants, pants
Come on
Stop doing crap you shouldn't do
Besides getting on pants, pants, pants
How come your butt's not getting cold
Without pants

Please stop, we're leaving!
Get on pants, pants, pants
We should be leaving!
Get on your pants, pants, pants
Come on  [repeat]

Please stop, we're leaving!
(We are leaving, everybody.)
Time to be leaving!
(Specifically your body)
It should be leaving!
(With everyone else's body.)
Can we be leaving? 
Breaking down now.

Zoe: 178; Universe: 0

 If you enjoyed this post, you may like this parody of J. Lo's "Ain't Your Mama" about the Oxford comma.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, January 25, 2018

Zoe vs. Frustration, Despair, and Bowling

Is bowling making a terrible comeback? Or is it just coming back terribly into my life because a bowling alley is the kind of place you find yourself if you are or if you have a child and need something to do in the winter?
Either way it's unwelcome. Terribly.
I hated bowling as a kid. I hated wearing shoes that had been on strange people's feet. I hated waiting for my ball to come back and then getting my fingers crushed between it and another ball.
But mostly I hated it because I was bad at it, which wouldn't have been so bad in itself, it being generally okay to be bad at something if you're alone. It's the being-bad-at-things in front of other people---especially if the other people are good at the thing you're bad at---that's just kind of super discouraging.

Bowling in a sea of despond
Something something metaphor for parenthood.

Anyway, when I went bowling with Zoe a few weeks ago, how good or bad she bowled was not her issue. She was happy just lobbing a heavy object at other objects to knock them down loudly. Basically, her raison d'etre.
The problem came when she took another little girl's turn by accident and three little girls yelled at her at once. And if you've ever had three little girls yelling at you it's like at least three times that many little girls yelling at you.
Zoe's bowling career seemed over before it started as she ran off to put her head down on a table, the posture that says "don't even try to talk to me, however, if when I raise my head there's not a crowd of people in line waiting to console me, there will be hell to pay!"
I looked around, and realizing I was the mother, I picked up my plastic glass of bowling-alley wine---which either wasn't as bad as you'd expect or my judgment was influenced by a need for survival, and furthermore, made me see bowling in a better light than I had as a child---walked over to Zoe, and basically told her that she'd just made a mistake, and the girls had just been excited, but that she had to just get over it or we'd just go home, after I finished my bowling-alley wine, this final clause left unsaid. Just.
She stayed. Probably because I also mentioned the social studies homework that was waiting for her if we left for home now.
The only thing worse than bowling when I was a child was homework.
But also going to the dentist to have my retainer tightened.
And then there was that time the tongue guard "fangs" on my retainer---which were supposed to keep my tongue back---actually went through and perforated (which may seem redundant but I feel needs to be stated twice) my tongue, trapping a small piece of toast between the roof of my mouth/retainer and aforementioned tongue. This is a Seminal Memory, if you hadn't guessed.

I think this mouth might have bigger problems than an errant tongue.

So Zoe had this project to do for school. A few days after bowling I pushed her to get started on it and she cried for forty-five minutes, on and off, through her tears of despair asking:
Why did she have to do this homework?
Couldn't she do it tomorrow night?
Couldn't I help her?
So I sat with her and made suggestions, which upset her even more, leading to:
Why couldn't she do it her way?
I got up and washed some dishes while she continued to alternately cry and demand I help her which we all know really meant:
Why can't you just do it for me?
Ohh no-no-no-no. No.
However, I wasn't completely off the hook. This was because she needed pictures of New York City tourist destinations, which meant I had to print out a bunch of pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building at work, probably making my co-workers think I was planning some sort of attack or heist.
I find, though, that when some sort of involvement in your child's homework is required, it's hard to extricate yourself, especially when you watch that child filling in the allotted lines using ABNORMALLY LARGE LETTERS and repeating the same sentence three different ways: "There are a lot of places to visit in Manhattan. New York has a lot of beautiful places to see and go to. These are some sites for tourists to visit."
In the end the project took her a few nights, less crying each night, like the Ferber Method for homework, and Sunday night, the night before it was due, she finally finished.
So much unnecessary drama, but at last it was done, and I was relieved.
Until the next night when I was checking her homework, and I opened her folder, and guess what I found? The project, still there.
"Zoe, why didn't you hand in your project?"
"Oh, I forgot, I'll hand it in tomorrow. It's fine, Mommy."
Inside, I cried. For more than forty-five minutes.

Zoe: 177; Universe: 0

 If you enjoyed this post, you may like this one.

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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