Thursday, July 28, 2016

Zoe vs. The Huffington Post: More from the Parallel Universe

Mother has again abandoned me. Not just this week but last week too. She was off doing her little scribblings elsewhere. The nerve. She'd be nothing without me.
Here's where she's appearing if you'd like to go to these sites' respective comments sections to publicly shame her. I would view it as a personal favor if you did.
She's was on HaHas for Hoohas with this drivel:
Wow! The woman wrote a numbered list. Haven't seen one of those before! I'm also trying not to take it personally. I never did any of those things she mentions. To suggest otherwise is slander. Or libel. One of those.
Then she was on MockMom this past Monday with something I don't even understand.
Like who? And what? Just two of my questions that I'd ask if I even cared.
Then you can hear her voice on this one. It's a podcast called Inside Voice. Someone thought she'd be interesting to interview. She also reads part of the novel she wrote, the one I've been hearing her go on about for years, especially the choice tidbit that she wrote it when she was "unencumbered"---always with the little head tilt in my direction. As if I don't understand exactly what she means. Those are the nights I call for a very special episode of Bedtime: the Extended Edition. Podcast that, lady!
And, finally, she was also on The Huffington Post a couple of weeks ago. Big whoop! The woman's thrilled because she won a contest at BlogU, which sounds like a curse but is actually a conference, whatever that is. At least she wrote about me in this one.
I think that site missed a huge opportunity not calling themselves Huggington Post. Much better name. What's a huffington anyway? I mean, Chuggington, that's something, but huffington?
So there!

Zoe: 143; Universe/Ariana Huffington: 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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Thursday, July 14, 2016

Zoe vs. a Nostalgic Summer Childhood

I don't know about you but it seemed like every time I turned around the past few weeks, another tragedy was occurring around the world or minutes from my doorstep.
When the world gets to be too much, I want to return to the summers of my childhood, those carefree days when my only responsibility was to have fun and avoid a sunburn.
In that spirit, today I present some vignettes of the summer with Zoe so far.

summer nostalgia

We're walking home and we pass a family with a toddler. He's holding a glittery blue gift bag, and when he sees Zoe, he makes a beeline for her, his face lit up by a big smile. As if she's been electrocuted, Zoe jumps out of his way and then dashes past him. My eyes meet the boy's parents' eyes and we share a laugh. When I catch up to Zoe I say, "I guess he was too young for you." She growls at me.

I'm able to pick her up early one day and she wants ice cream. I'm about to say what I always do, "You can't have ice cream or you'll ruin your appetite for dinner." But instead, I say, Sure. She decides on pistachio. In the spirit of rule-breaking---what dinner? what diet?---I get a spumoni ice. Naturally, she wants some of mine too. So we sit in the ice cream parlor licking our cones, exchanging them every couple of licks.

"What was the scariest part of the movie?" I ask her.
"When the snake came out of the screen and stuck its tongue out."
"Yeah, that was pretty good."
"I can't wait to tell Daddy."

I make the mistake of not washing her hair after her day at the beach. She comes into our bed around 5:30 a.m. the next morning to sleep with us, and when we finally get up an hour later, there's sand on my pillow.

The pool that the camp uses doesn't allow children to wear floaties. I worry about her swimming without them. What I don't anticipate is Zoe's own unwillingness to go in the water if she's not wearing floaties. Her first day at the pool, the camp calls to tell me she has refused to go in. I don't want to make a big deal about it. So later I gently question her, but she doesn't volunteer anything about the no-floaties rule. Instead, she tells me the pool is too cold and too deep. And, also, she's working up to it. Then, before bed, she tells me, Kids can't wear floaties in the pool. Did you know that?

Zoe has two states of being on the walk to and from camp: running full out or complaining her feet hurt and she's much too exhausted to walk, these states often occurring within minutes of each other.

"What are we doing today?"
"You're going to camp. And I'm going to work."
"What about after camp?"
"What we usually do: dinner, bath, bed."
Sometimes I feel a bit guilty. I have to go to work. I like to work. We chose this rather expensive camp because it seemed not only safe but so full of activities she'd have a summer of great memories. Only those memories are ones her parents will not be part of. 

But there will be other memories. Most of these snapshots are from the walk home from camp. But we spend time together on the weekends, and she knows we love her, and that's what's most important. Plus, she's making friends and learning to be independent. And sometimes, when Mommy's feeling wild, we ruin our appetites for dinner.

Zoe: 142; Universe: 0

If you liked this post, you might like this one,
where I compare Zoe to a summer's day.

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

When it's hot out, read a blog. It cools you off. Click here to subscribe.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Zoe vs. A Blogaversary with the Piano Man

I've been writing this blog for three years this week (parade, please), and in honor of my blogaversary, I'm going to do a parody of another "list" song like I did last year with REM's It's the End of the World As I Know It (And I Feel Fine).
This way I get to (made-up word alert!) hyperlight---that is, highlight mixed with hyperlink---my posts from the previous year and present them within a well-known song. I'm not actually going to do Billy Joel's "Piano Man," since that's not what I mean by a "list" song, but another Billy Joel song, "We Didn't Start the Fire." 
The other reason I'm not doing "Piano Man" is I loathe that song. Apologies to the Billy Joel fans, but it's just one of those songs they always play in bars at the end of the night, and it goes on forever and drunk people seem to feel it necessary to sing along. Call me a snob, call me a jerkface poopypants, and that's fine, because as long as you're calling me names you won't be singing "Piano Man."
By the way, it is my firm belief everyone should get three song that, if they had the power, should be stricken from existence. Frikkin' "Piano Man" is one of mine. My other two are also songs drunk people sing in bars at the ends of boozy nights and they also go on forever.*

Parody of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."

Now, without further ado, here, for my third blogaversary, is my takeoff on "We Didn't Start the Fire," by Billy Joel, but for moms like me who haven't slept in years:

I'll Never Not Be Tired
1980's video games, all excuses are the same
Target toy aisle, go away, look out next year's PTA
Minecraft, Urban Wasteland, at the park she plays with sand
Harper's Index, Book Blurb, Oscars, she's on my last nerve 
Kobayashi Maru, go back to your bedroom
Spirit animal or playing pretend? What will we do this weekend?

I'll never not be tired
For my bed, I'm yearning
As the hours keep turning
I'll never not be tired
Bedtime, she fights it
My wish goes unrequited

Here's 9 words she can't pronounce, she won't give in to me an ounce
Knock, knock, who's there? I pulled down your underwear.
Oxford comma parody, Daddy's gonna marry me
Toys away! No more play! What else do I have to say?!

I'll never not be tired
For my bed, I'm yearning
As the hours keep turning
I'll never not be tired
Bedtime, she fights it
My wish goes unrequited

(Repeat refrain until you bring down the house and you're utterly exhausted, but is your child still up? Yes, yes she is.)

*Care to guess the other two boozy bar songs I'd like to have obliterated from time and memory? Let me know in the comments. Also, tell me three songs you'd like utterly destroyed so it's as if they never existed. I'm willing to bet I'll agree.

Zoe: 141: Universe: 0

If you liked this year's blogaversary post, you might like last year's.

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

For the next 141 posts, click here to subscribe.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Zoe vs. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

Remember Robert Fulghum? Maybe not his name but you remember his poem-cum-poster-cum-book-cum-musical-cum-blockbuster-CGI-animated-movie-trilogy.
It's basically the Golden Rule, but more so. All we really need to know, he said, we learned in kindergarten. 
Sure, it's true that we could all do with the occasional nap, and who would say no to milk and cookies? Besides the lactose intolerant. Or, wait, are there peanuts in those cookies? Or were they packaged in a factory that ever held the word "peanut" suspended in its recirculated air? Then keep them to yourself, you bastard!
But I'm losing the thread here. See, Zoe graduated from kindergarten this week. And that's why I was reminded of Fulghum's words and wondered if they were still relevant to today's kindergartener. Say, one evil genius in training like Zoe.
So let's see how Fulghum's wisdom nuggets stack up against what Zoe's learned this past year.

One Kindergarten's wisdom

A word of caution: Zoe thinks the Golden Rule is for chumps. Keeping that in mind, here's what his list says, with Zoe's responses.

All Zoe Really Needs to Know She Learned in Kindergarten Sort Of

1. "Share everything." Define "everything."
2. "Play fair."  You mean when an adult is watching?
3. "Don't hit people." See #2.
4. "Put things back where you found them." Someone else's backpack, lunchbox, or hand.
5. "Don't take things that aren't yours." Oops.
6. "Say sorry when you hurt someone." Again, see #2.

"Gitt 'er" or even goiter would be better than glitter.

7. "Wash your hands before you eat." I eat with my right hand so that's the one I wash. 
8. "Flush." Solids. Pee's okay, especially if you don't even wipe.
9. "Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you." This is a trick, right?
10. "Live a balanced life. Learn some and drink some and draw some and paint some and sing and dance and play and work some." Some what?

This one speaks for itself regarding the development of her artistic sensibility, but I'm
also wondering why "favourite" gets the British spelling here when it didn't above.

11. "Take a nap every afternoon." Pass. 
12. "When you go out in the world, watch for traffic, hold hands, and stick together." Mommy said to keep my hands to myself. She doesn't like when I'm sticky either.
13. "Be aware of wonder. Remember the little seed in the styrofoam cup. The roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why." Photosynthesis.
14. "Goldfish and hamster and white mice and even the little seed in the styrofoam cup, they all die. So do we." You're harshing my buzz, Bob.
15. "Remember Dick and Jane books and the first word you learned. It was the most important word of all: 'Look.'" Don't tell me, because I know what's coming next. "But don't touch." Right?

"Make planets"?! Better than "Destroy," I guess.

The truth is Zoe learned a lot this past year or, as she has it, "lrned." Reading and writing. Addition and subtraction. Drawing. Comparing size and shape. Minions.
Most of all, Minions. 
Yes, because along with her ABCs she picked up some other bits of knowledge. It was her first year at the big school, with older kids, and so she also learned some things I would rather she not have learned.
Like what zombies are, for instance. 
Clown by Seurat by Zoe. Nightmares solely by Zoe.
"Zombies eat brains," she told me early in her second semester. How did you hear about zombies? I asked her. Her shrug implied "around." So here's another list.

All the Stuff Zoe Didn't Need to Know That She Learned in Kindergarten
1. How to "whip" as well as how to "nae nae." 
3. Did I mention Minions? She also learned the Minion language, Minionese. (She refuses to say banana with the accents on the correct syllables.)
4. How to manipulate other children into "sharing" their snacks. 
5. How to kill zombies. ("You have to hit them in their heads.")
6. How to use and abuse glitter. And glue. And markers.
7. Lots of cute songs she's apparently learned but that she won't sing for me preferring to make up her own songs like "I like to kill the things I love." (I'm not making this up.)
8. How to have fun and be the best Zoe she can be.
Watch out, first grade!

Photosynthesis, playa!

Zoe: 140: Universe: 0

If you're like Zoe and like "Uptown Funk," you might also like my parody of it 

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

There's always more to learn, click here to subscribe.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Zoe vs. FOMO

I made a terrifying discovery about Zoe the other day. To be honest, my fear had been building for a while. Zoe always wants to go to school events. She's constantly asking if she can do a sleepover. And the other day at the park she jumped on a boulder and started dancing, gathering a crowd of children around her. It was then I realized she may be---gasp!---an extrovert.
What's an introvert mother to do?!
It's my responsibility to set up playdates for my social butterfly, but the idea of approaching another parent and setting one up gives me butterflies in my stomach. What if I have nothing to talk about with this child's parents? What if they don't like me? What if I can't stand their kid?!
I remind myself: This is about Zoe, not you, but the nausea remains.
If I take her to a movie night at school, I sweat until the lights to go down, obviating the need for conversation. Two months before, when we went to her school's trivia night, it took all my inner resources to go up on stage with her so she could participate in the game, although she didn't do anything besides stand there.
Which raises the question: Does she really want to do all the things for themselves or does she just not want to be the only one not doing them? Could she already be experiencing FOMO?

Introvert Mom with Extrovert Kid

FOMO, if you don't know, means Fear of Missing Out. Even though we didn't have the acronym when I was young, "fear of missing out" still existed. I remember in grade school not being invited to a party and hearing all the details Monday morning at school. It must be worse today when kids can see pictures and video from the party they haven't been invited to in real time on Facebook or Snapchat.
I wonder who's affected more by FOMO, introverts or extroverts? If you like being around people, maybe it's harder to miss a party, while an introvert appreciates and needs alone time.
Or maybe it's the opposite. Maybe the introvert wants to be social but anxiety makes them an introvert by default.
Of course, we're all made up of a constellation of qualities, and it's hard to find a pure extrovert or introvert. I'm strongly introverted myself, which is why when I know I have to be social, I need a lot of mental preparation, which usually takes the form of anticipating my next dessert.
I went to BlogU, a writing conference, this weekend and besides the informative sessions (and cupcake and cookie breaks!), there was a lot of socializing and making connections. I'm socially anxious, an expert at self-monitoring, and reserve a lot of my scintillating conversation for my head. That's what's known as a negative at parties. Because of this I might be different from the introvert who's less conflicted about needing alone time.
Now let's talk about how social media magnifies reality. It's a rare person who's immune to the effects. Especially if you're feeling lonely, or unsatisfied with your place in life, whether in the life journey sense or in that literal moment, when you may be surrounded by people who make you feel like a stranger to yourself.
So you go on Facebook, and maybe you feel worse due to the comparison game. Everyone's presenting their best sides. They're in great relationships and having so much fun. Why can't that be you?
But let's remember reality vs. illusion. It's not that these happy photos are lies. I'm saying that even a relatively grounded person can look at an undiluted string of joy and feel like maybe they're not that happy after all.
While I was at the conference, a friend of mine who hadn't been able to go expressed his disappointment at himself on Facebook. I think all the pictures were making him feel left out. What was funny to me was I was there and wasn't immune to the feeling! At one point, I saw a video of everyone dancing and thought, wow, these people are really having fun. I wish I was there. And then I caught a glimpse of myself. I was in the video! Then I had to laugh at myself. I mean, I'm looking at a video of people dancing and feeling FOMO-ish when I was one of the people dancing!
Oh the humanity! That's all I have to say to that.
Even we nose-in-book loner types, we are part of the human species, and we are a social species. For good and ill. Yes, we are also competitive, and so yes, we often fall into the comparison trap.
But there are some good reasons. How would you grow as a person if you're always comfortable and content? The seeds of greatness often begin in self-doubt and at least a measure of dissatisfaction. Would you change either your world or the world at large if you were completely happy with it?
So I decided I was glad Zoe was in touch with this human energy, and further, that she's not afraid to dance, no matter who's watching. 
The next day I brought my little extrovert to the park and another girl started following her around, clearly wanting to play. But Zoe ignored her and then suddenly took off running. The little girl turned to me and asked, Why doesn't she want to play with me? I said, I'm sorry. I guess she wants to play by herself. Which obviously meant it was time for me to fret about Zoe being an introvert.

Zoe: 139; Universe: 0

For more on my particular brand of awkward, see my essay on Middle School Awkward, last year's theme at BlogU.

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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