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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Zoe vs. 30 Days of Gratitude

Zoe here. In honor of my fifth Thanksgiving on this earth, I figured it was time to share what I'm grateful for. Or Mommy figured it was time. Six of one, yada yada.
You've probably seen those 30 Days of Gratitude lists all over big peoples' computers. Mommy has never taken part so I don't know why I have to, but anyway here's my 30. (I can count higher but I don't want to rub it in the faces of those who can't.)

I think they're too big for their mommies to pick up.

30 Things I'm Grateful For: A List from Zoe (Me)
1. Apple juice
2. Apple juice
3. Apple juice
Now that that's out of the way . . . 
4. Pasta, the circle kind. (Ed.: wagon wheels.) I could eat them every night. (Ed.: She does.)
5. Going to the park.
6. Riding my tricycle in the park.
7. Riding someone else's tricycle in the park.
8. TV
9. Paw Patrol. Dora. Dora and Friends. Paw Patrol. Team Umizoomi. Paw Patrol. Bubble Guppies. Super Why! (This one may change.)
10. Rocks
11. Frozen
12. My toys from Frozen
13. My Elsa costume
14. That I can shoot ice from my fingers. (Ed.: She can't.) Tchoo! Tchoo!
15. Mommy's phone. It has games.
16. Friends. I can show them my Frozen toys which they don't have and they can feel good for me and pleased that I am their friend.
17. That I'm this big. (Ed.: Um . . . forget it.)
18. The pigeon in Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus because he's allowed to yell even though it's bedtime.
19. My routine. It gives me a semblance of control in this chaotic world. I DO NOT have OCD, as Mommy "jokes." She needs to stop stigmatizing me.
20. Chocolate milk 
21. Presents. 
22. Hot chocolate
23. Tickle fights
24. Chocolate
25. Rice Krippies 
26. The yellow horse that loves me and is my favorite. (Ed.: coin-operated horse she won't let me put money in.)
27. Grandmas and assorted others---aunts, uncles, and cousins---who do my bidding.
28. Daddy, who is wrapped around my finger
Let's see . . . who or what am I forgetting. . . ?
29. Harley! Our cat! I'm so so thankful she is in my life. She lets me pet her and I just love her so so much.
I'm getting a dirty look from . . . oh that's right:
30. Mommy, because she's always ready to drop whatever she's doing and play with me. Stop typing now, Mommy. And can you get me juice? Thanks in advance.
Happy Thanksgiving---we'll see you in two weeks!

Hate to be a jerk but where's the ketchup?

Zoe: 70; Universe: 0

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

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Zoe vs. Mommy Land
(formerly known as
Candy Land)

Candy Land from Hasbro is the board game most children cut their teeth on. Or maybe it's the first game board children bite? Or maybe it's that they bite you in frustration when they lose.
No matter. The point is someone gave Candy Land to Zoe for her birthday so we started playing it the other day.
This is a good first game for children. It says so right on the box. Candy Land tests a child's aptitude for the three C's: counting, colors, and candy. Zoe rates high on the last two, and if what she's counting is candy, it's a clean sweep.
Our Candy Land has a spinner. When I was a kid I think it was a deck of cards with colors on them, not a spinner, but time marches on. (Note: unless you're playing a board game with a small child.)

A golden era, when I played, unaware of the
suffering of others.

The spinner has two sides: one with colored squares and one with characters and their locales, from Princess Frostine's Ice Palace (shades of Elsa from Frozen) to Lord Licorice's Lagoon (aka, where my game piece was to spend an eternity) to King Kandy's Castle itself. This is the side we used.
Zoe chose her game piece, a red blob with the face of an angry hemorrhoid. (Research revealed this was one Giggly Gumdrop.) Then she chose mine: Mally Mallo, which I tried not to see as slander since I am, after all, white and cushy.
Then Zoe "spun," by which I mean moved the arrow to where she wanted to go. According to Hoyle, be damned.
She "spun" for my game piece too, thus my status as squatter in Lord Licorice's Lagoon.

Candy Land, the movie.
(Go back and read that sentence
until it makes sense. It's ok; I'll wait.)

So Zoe and I played. Over and over. For what seemed like hours. (Interesting fact: the woman who invented the game in 1945 had polio. Hardly surprising since the game is clearly born of suffering.)
And as I sat, a prisoner, on the rug next to Zoe, while Mally Mallo malingered, my mind growing as numb as my butt, I hallucinated a new version of Candy Land, just for tired mommies like me. . . .

Mommy Land (from Hasbroken) 
Choose your game piece: a) an empty coffee mug, b) a jogging stroller, c) a stained shirt in what-was-she-thinking white, or d) a desiccated French fry (may be actual desiccated French fry found under your couch; your child will most likely lose one of the game pieces anyway).
Spin the wheel and commence moving along squares in muted colors more appropriate for your aging palate, or is it palette? Anyway, lots of gray. Because that's soothing. 
First stop: Sleep-Deprived Swamp, the domain of Princess Lollygag. You're so tired you can barely move and yet you're still faster than a four-year-old who stops to look at every rock she passes, interrogate you as to its properties, then disagree.
Grab another cup of tepid coffee and move on to Forgetful Forest, where Baroness Von Talks-Too-Much just won't stop talking until you can barely think. What did you come here looking for? Was it your glasses?
When you finally figure out they're on top of your head, you may stumble on to Kale Canyon, roamed by Lady Licks-Some-Stuff. Gone are the days when you can eat anything, so you best get your daily dose of roughage. Then feel those leafy greens turn as your child eschews her water bottle, preferring to lick the rainwater off a dirty handrail instead.
Queasy, eyes at half-mast, press on to Heartburn Hill, where Countess Kicks-Your-Crotch jumps about, heedless of personal space, kicking and punching until she lands one smack in your baby maker. Ugh, is that your Kale making a return appearance?
On your knees now, you crawl to Mashed-Potato Marsh. Keep serving up them taters mashed with butter and mozzarella cheese. It's all she will eat!
Here, Miss Mayhem greets you with energy to spare. As well as poop, the latter of which arrives with dismaying frequency and equally startling announcements---"Mommy, poop"---belying the amount of starch she's consumed.
Next, ease gingerly around the Bay of Unreasoning Fury, but if you can’t get past unscathed, attempt to mollify Fraulein Frenzy with a tasty treat. (Beware of giving her too much sugar though!)
At the end of the day, try to hang on as you navigate through Lego Archipelago, where the Queen of Complaints whines behind you to let you know you're not done yet. She's not tired! And besides, she can't sleep because her foot hurts. She's making that up! She got the idea seconds ago when you screamed after stepping on that Lego. She is not to be outdone!
Better wrap up that aching foot and slide those orthopedic inserts in your Toms because guess what's ahead? Why, it's Sleep-Deprived Swamp.
Again? Yes, because unlike Candy Land, where the game ends at King Kandy's Castle, Mommy Land's board is a circle. There's no end to the fun! 
Now how's that for a sweet surprise?

Dear Fam: By the time you read this I'll be
"resting" comfortably at St. Barnabus' Sanatorium.
I burned Junior's board game. Cheers!
P.S. You'll need to buy more Scotch.

Zoe: 69; Universe: 0

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

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Zoe vs. Donald Trump

Donald Trump is famous for two things: his hard-nosed negotiating skills, which have made him a billionaire a billion times over, and his glorious mane of hair.
Zoe's hair is also one of nature's wonders, especially in the mornings, when she's running from the hairbrush, but what we're concerned with here are her skills as a negotiator. Focus, people.
From bedtime to the number of brush strokes she must suffer, servings of juice she can finagle, and amount of M&Ms she's earned after going potty, my days with Zoe are full of endless negotiations. And much like an over-leveraged company is catnip to Trump, I am low-hanging tired-mommy fruit to a sly fox like Zoe.
So let's see how Zoe's skills as a negotiator stack up against the Donald's. Herewith, five quotes from the man himself, author of The Art of the Deal, followed by interpretations from Zoe, author of my demise.

Then I'll end with, "Money can't
buy happiness." That always
gets laughs.

1. "You have to think anyway, so why not think big?"
Sure, Trump thinks in casinos, but you can't eat a casino. Not like candy....
The morning after Halloween, Zoe wanted candy for breakfast. I said no.
"How about just one?" she countered.
"It's six o'clock in the morning. How about not any?"
"But I want candy," she whined.
So I promised her she could have one after lunch.
Out of respect, she held off for about a millisecond before asking, "Mommy, can I have lunch?"

2. "Without passion, you don't have energy. Without energy, you have nothing."
If the food in question is not candy, if it's, say, vegetables, then Zoe negotiates how many more bites she needs to take to either be excused or obtain a cookie.
"How about two more bites?"
"How about you finish?"
"Five?"
Before I know it I'm pulled into her game, thinking I'm smarter than she is, that I will just calculate how many more bites it would take for her to actually finish the meal I'd lovingly prepared in the microwave for a minute and a half, which is when the steam-in-bag Asian vegetable medley mix exploded, at which point I shrugged and said good enough.
"Ten bites," I decide.
Then I watch as she takes ten of the teensiest bites ever, as small as Trump's ego is not.
"Mommy, I had ten bites," she says, triumphant. "Now can I have a cookie?" 
I capitulate. Her perseverance has worn me down.
"And juice, " she adds, knowing I'm broken. "I so thirsty."

3. "I try to learn from the past, but I plan for the future by focusing exclusively on the present. That's where the fun is."
Bedtime. Where the fun is not. At least not for me.
First up for negotiation is the actual time. "Two more minutes till bedtime," I warn.
"How about ten?"
"Five."
Twenty minutes later, after I finally get her in her pajamas, the next phase starts. I say I will read three stories to her before lights out. She always angles for one more story, and it's usually the longest one.

Look, Mommy, the condensed version.

Or she fishes out a Dr. Seuss anthology and acts all innocent, like even though there are six stories in there, the whole collection counts as one. Each night I inform her it does not. 
Her other stalling tactic is to ask me to read one of the three stories again, as if the repetition doesn't count. It does, I inform her. She sighs. Why is Mommy so unreasonable?
Finally, showing me that even though she cannot yet read she somehow understands the fine print, she figures out that though Mommy will only read her three stories, she can keep the book on her lap after lights out and pretend she's reading. After all, Mommy didn't say anything about her reading. Loophole!
Meanwhile I'm clinging to the chair with only half an ass wondering how it is that such a tiny person needs so much room. Zoe is a real estate hog. Just like Trump.

Let's stop here, Mom.
Your eyes must be tired.
(And that's why he was Jesus.)

4. "Sometimes by losing a battle, you find a new way to win the war."
The ultimate bedtime avoidance tactic---where she will always win and she knows it---is employed after she's been in bed for a while and she asks to get up because she has to go potty. She knows this will always work. She's holding all the cards, and in order to avoid getting them covered with urine, I've got to let her go.

5. "In the end, you're measured not by how much you undertake but by what you finally accomplish."
And as she perches on the toilet, singing to herself in a self-satisfied manner, pajama pants dangling around her ankles, my deal-maker, my heart-breaker, in a voice dripping with sweetness, inquires, "Can I have an M&M?"
Zoe: 68; Universe: 0

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


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Zoe vs. Grandma
(as if the outcome
was ever in doubt)

It's not even a contest. Grandma is happy to lose, and Zoe's got her so wrapped around her finger she has Grandma thinking it's a win.
I'm talking about my mother here, aka Queens Grandma, Zoe's name for her. Her other grandmother she calls Connecticut Grandma. Connecticut Grandma is also charmed by Zoe, going so far as to call her a "pleasure" and a "delight." However, Connecticut Grandma's been in the trenches. She raised four kids and now has seven grandchildren, Zoe being the last. So she's seen things you wouldn't believe and has either lived to tell the tale or long enough to forget the worst of it.


My mom is a different story. Zoe is her only grandchild. So she dotes till it hurts and then she digs deep and dotes some more.
This weekend was a case in point. My mother was over and we were going out to dinner along with my sister and her husband, both older and wiser, i.e., childless. The occasion? My mother's birthday. Now ask me if even though it was her birthday she brought a gift for Zoe. If you said yes, you'd be wrong.
She brought four gifts.
And when our reservation at the restaurant was late, guess who shelled out more money for another gift at the toy store next to the restaurant?

According to his grandmother, Alex wasn't
all baddiwad. It were his droogs.

Zoe was overexcited and hungry, the one-two punch of misbehavior, so The Husband and I had to keep disciplining her, reminding her of her manners, threatening to take toys away, etc. Meanwhile she continued to slide around on the banquette, whining and making repeated demands for chocolate milk and pasta. 
None of which fazed my mother, leading me to wonder: Who was this woman? If I'd behaved this way in a restaurant as a child I would've been in so much trouble. Where was the lady who wielded her wooden spoon with authority, threatening to smack my sister and I on our respective fannies if we didn't shape up and stop acting like hooligans?
The answer: This woman was now The Grandmother, not The Mother. Her job was to sit back and relax, enjoy her birthday, her meal, and the antics of her granddaughter. My job was to be the killjoy disciplinarian. 
And that's fine, really it is. I don't expect my mother to discipline my child. However, I also didn't expect all the blatant enabling, and part of me wondered if she was getting revenge.

You will be the instrument
of my vengeance.

See, after all of her shenanigans, I told Zoe she couldn't have dessert. Not only didn't she deserve it but I was honestly afraid of what an influx of sugar would lead to.
That's when Grandma said, "Don't worry, Zoe, you can have some of mine."
Uh, wut now?
Sure enough, when the desserts came and Zoe didn't get her own plate and started to cry, Grandma came to the rescue, shoveling chocolate cake and ice cream onto Zoe's plate. Grandma even spooned the final large bite into Zoe's adorable gaping maw when the little eating machine wearied.
Alas, the bite was too big, so Zoe was forced to spit it out into Mommy's hand, freeing her mouth to complain about the bite and it's bigness. Then, surprise, a millisecond later, Zoe said, "My tummy hurts," and put her head down on the table, the picture of suffering.
And, as I looked on in appalled silence, the woman who gave birth to me, who taught me my manners and scolded me for misbehavior, this same woman stood up and moved beside Zoe so she could massage her back.
Zoe: 67; Universe of grandmothers: ? (Transcends numbers and reason)

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

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Zoe vs. Earth, Wind, and Fire

Not the R&B, funk, disco band---that I remember most from the episode of WKRP in Cincinnati where, following a real-life tragedy at a concert, Venus Flytrap played their 1979 hit "After the Love Has Gone"---but the actual elements. (If anything, I'd say by her reaction when I played "Boogie Wonderland" the other day---"Watch my moves, Mommy," said as she performed some slow-motion break dance on the floor---she's a fan.)

Former name was Earth, Wind & Subtlety
but then they decided that was redunculous.

I'm leaving water out of this discussion of elements since Zoe's enmity toward water has been previously expounded upon. Also because Earth, Wind & Fire left it out, possibly because they thought it would damage their sequins.
I've got two stories, one, the longer one, is about fire. I'll tackle that one first, then earth and wind together, because their power is patient and less visible, respectively. Neither are the attention whore that fire is.

Fire
A few weeks ago it was Fire Safety Day at Zoe's daycare. A local fireman came in to give a talk, bringing coloring books and plastic fire hats. He was a hit. When I picked Zoe up at the end of the day, the first thing she said was: "I can't play with matches." (Good, I thought. And also said.) "You can play with them, Mommy." (Um, all right.)
Other things she learned not to touch: candles, lighters, and pots of boiling water. According to Zoe, these were all things only Mommy and Daddy could play with. Perhaps if we were pyromaniacs who didn't mind the occasional second-degree burn.
Zoe was told to "stay low and go," which sounds like advice that might apply to some non-fire situations as well. And that she should tell Mommy and Daddy to (something unintelligible) the beeper.
Eventually I figured out she was referring to our smoke alarm. And that she was supposed to remind Mommy and Daddy to replace the batteries seasonally (and presumably not to wait till it wouldn't stop beeping in the middle of the night).

His kung fu is wronger than your kung fu.

She also said we should have an evacuation plan. I started to reassure her and was about to make some suggestions, but she was way ahead of me. At the first sign of fire, she informed me, we were to leave the apartment. "That's good," I began, but she wasn't done.
"Then we'll go to the cookie fair," she said.
"The cookie fair? I've never heard---"
"And the chocolate fair. And then the chocolate milk fair." She scratched her head, stirring more thoughts. "I like rides. I like to go to the ice cream store. And also the chocolate milk store." 
From her recitation I gathered that she believes fires are a good excuse to party and consume vast quantities of sugar.
However, I'm certainly glad she won't be playing with matches. After all, that's Mommy's job.

Mit science!


Earth and Wind
I'm combining these because of what happened when we went to the park this past weekend. She was playing in the dirt, her medium, picking it up in fistfuls and throwing it in the air. It was a windy day and I warned her that if she kept at it eventually the wind would be against her and she'd get dirt in her face.
She ignored me and soon Mommy's prediction proved all too true. And it proved true right in her eyes.
She stopped, blinking away the grit. I waited for the tears, but they didn't come. I realized this was because she didn't want to let on to me that I'd been right.
After one final furtive wipe at her eyes, she walked toward me and announced, "Let's go, Mommy. The sand is closed."
So the love was gone, but unlike Earth, Wind & Fire, Zoe wasn't going to sing about it.
Zoe: 66 (ish; really more of a draw); Universe: 0