Thursday, June 21, 2018

Zoe vs. the Worst-Case Scenario: Play Date Edition

What's the worst-case scenario for a play date?

Play Date Edition

Three guesses.
The kids don't get along.
No.
The parents don't get along.
No.
How about the wrong kid shows up?
Yes.
Let me back up a bit. First, as my lawyers have advised me to say, There are no "wrong" children. Just wrong situations. Exacerbated by kids acting wrong.
If it hasn't been established by now, I'm an introvert. In fact, here's a meme I made:


Here's another. (I like blue, and personal space.)


So one of the hardest aspects of parenting for me has been the "talking to others" that it requires. Being an "advocate." Speaking up. Asking questions. Plus, if I want Zoe to be more social than her mother I need to learn to make small talk.
I am constantly tested on this front, purposely exposing myself to social interactions until my soul's elbows have blisters from all the rubbing.
I do the best I can but sometimes my reluctance to mix leads to problems. Like cases of mistaken identity. For instance, this weekend's play date, which was like Shakespeare's "Twelfth Night" mixed with Mr. Furley's Three's Company
Zoe knows---though I didn't till this weekend---three girls named Kristin.* Actually, and importantly, one's Kirsten (and she's in fourth grade--this is also important!!) and the other Kristin is spelled Krysten, and either that one or the Kristin with the i's pronounces her name Kirsten.
I think.
But Zoe, as has been previously established, is even more of a poor witness than I am an introvert.  
So Zoe wanted to have a play date with Kirsten. Having no idea who anyone is, I gave Zoe's after-care teacher a note to give to Kirsten's mom with my phone number asking if Zoe and her daughter could have a play date. 
With me so far? Sounds so easy. So Kirsten's mom texted me, and we arranged a play date for Saturday.
Come Saturday I'm packing Zoe's bag for the park. The sprinklers are on so I pack a towel, sunscreen, snacks, water, etc., and we're only three minutes late. Then the other mom texts me that she's going to be late because there's bathing suit drama with her daughter. I text back with something like "Ha, been there." See, I can do this! Way to go, me!
As the minutes tick by, Zoe keeps asking me when Kirsten is going to get there, and I keep saying, any minute, and finally, a woman shows up with two little girls. I'm like, hmmm, I thought Zoe told me Kirsten was an only child like her but whatever.
"Look who's here," I say and turn to find Zoe with tears flooding down her face.
Because it's the wrong Kirsten. This is apparently Kristin, a second-grader, from her class. Not to be confused with Krysten, another second-grader, or, more to the point, Kirsten, from fourth grade.
Zoe was inconsolable.
I was embarrassed.
Kristin was super chill, a cool kid that now I want Zoe to be friends with.
And the mom was super chill too, especially considering there was no way to pass Zoe's reaction off as "Yay, she's so happy to see you she had to run away to cry on top of the slide. . . . Y'know, from all the joy."
I had to explain what happened, and again, Kristin and her mom were very gracious.
Then I went over and tried to coax Zoe down from the slide. I said I was sorry but it was an honest mistake by her teacher, and me since I didn't know the kids in her school, and it was hardly a tragedy, and why waste a nice day, etc. It was no go. 
I decided to give her a few minutes and went to be (gasp!) social with the mom and make sure no feelings were hurt. Meanwhile Kristin tried to go play with Zoe, which still wasn't happening.
When I thought it was enough, I went over to Zoe and told her she had two minutes to pull herself together. She knew this little girl and there was no reason she couldn't play with her. Furthermore, how would she feel if she showed up to a play date and the other kid started crying because she was Zoe not Zoey. (The goddammits were silent. Albeit loud in my head.)
To Zoe's credit, two minutes later, she came down from the slide, and two minutes after that, she and Kristin were running off to play in the sprinkler, and Kristin is now my very favorite child with undoubtedly the best-spelled name of all the Kristins, Krystens, or even Kirstens everywhere.
And I went back to chat with the mom and it wasn't so hard. Especially now we had something to talk about.

Zoe: 185; Universe: 0

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent, as if I could even identify them in a lineup.

Hey, want to read something else by yours truly? Head on over to Little Old Lady Comedy for my piece "Vaguebooking from Notable Historical Figures." Enjoy!

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, June 7, 2018

Zoe vs. the TV Viewing Habits of the Average North American Octogenarian.* Or, The Legend of the Fifth Golden Girl

Could Zoe be the fifth Golden Girl? That's kind of like the fifth Beatle, but with more sass and possibly more estrogen, depending on how well hormone replacement therapy is going. In any case, I'm basing this theory on Zoe's TV viewing habits, which are a lot like a senior citizen's.

Or, The Legend of the Fifth Golden Girl

Take, Wheel of Fortune, for example, traditionally everyone's grandma's favorite show. It comes on after Jeopardy!, which the Husband and I watch, and Zoe's bath time is generally right after Final Jeopardy! If we're not quick enough to change the channel, Zoe is begging to delay her bath so she can watch just one more puzzle on Wheel of Fortune, and when she grudgingly surrenders and goes to her bath she wants us to leave the Wheel on so we can tell her who won.
Exhibit B: Reality cooking shows. When visiting relatives, Zoe is famous for her request that they leave the TV on in the bedroom when she goes to bed so she can "watch a little bit of her cooking shows" before she goes to sleep. Chopped, MasterChef, MasterChef Junior. All she needs is a jar of Vicks on the nightstand and a hot water bottle for her sciatica and she'd be a contented tiny senior citizen.
Exhibit C: Other reality shows. American Ninja Warrior and maybe even Superhuman might put her in a younger viewing demographic, but then the other night I was flipping through the channel guide and she suddenly yelled, "Shark Tank!" This is a show that is struggling with the under fifties. Draw your own conclusions.
Have I been sounding like I'm presenting a case? That's probably because the clincher showing her inner advanced age is that she absolutely loves Judge Judy.
I don't know how this happened but she can't get enough of tough-talking, no-nonsense Judge Judy Scheindlin.
Judge Judy is Zoe's spirit animal.
After I refused to watch Shark Tank the other night I capitulated on Judge Judy. Half from pity, half from amazement.
Let me set the scene. . . .
Picture it: Brooklyn, two nights ago.
Zoe couldn't sleep because she was having pains in her legs. With her factual age being seven, I figured these were actually growing pains and not sciatica, but there I was, sitting on the couch with my little young old lady, rubbing her calves while she watched Judge Judy try to settle a dispute between some young man and his baby mama.
Zoe was enthralled. Judge Judy judges behavior under the law, not morals. She just wants to get the facts straight when she's asking about the baby mama's other kid, the one who is not, in fact, related to the defendant. But at issue here is, who has rights to the dog?
I'm not sure what Zoe learned by the end of the episode, but her satisfied sigh as she watched told me, just like Sophia Petrillo, she's seen it all before.

Zoe: 184; Universe: 0

*Okay, so technically only Estelle Getty's character, Sophia, was supposed to be eighty years old, and I know none of the actresses were actually even close to eighty, but in my defense, octogenarian is a funny word. I rest my case.
If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Zoe vs. Dr. Phil.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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Thursday, May 17, 2018

Zoe vs. the Royal Wedding: Wedding Announcements for Disney's Royal Couples

Charles and Di got married when I was nine. You may think as a nine-year-old girl I would've been interested in royal weddings and princesses. Alas, no. All I remember is the wedding was boring, my cartoons were pre-empted, and Princess Di had a long-ass train that seemed like it would make using the bathroom a three-bridesmaid job.
The next British royal wedding was William and Kate's, about a year after Zoe was born. Zoe didn't care because she was an infant. I didn't care because I was busy with an infant, but probably wouldn't have cared anyway.
Now, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are set to tie the knot on Saturday, and as it turns out, I still don't care. Even though the Royals really tried to attract new subscribers with the whole twenty-first-century update of a biracial American bride who was married before. Edgy!
Anyway, it got me thinking about the whole princess fantasy young girls have or are supposed to have and that I didn't have. And as for Zoe, with Frozen arriving on the scene during her early years, she leapfrogged right over "princess" to queen. Plus, she informs me, she is not going to get married, and if she wants a baby, she will simply buy one. And who am I to discourage her future black-market-shopper ambitions?
So today, in honor of the royal wedding I  don't care about, I present a send-up of those smug wedding announcements you see in the newspaper, but with Disney royalty.


Princess Aurora and Prince Philip
Princess Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty, and Prince Philip were married in the Kingdom, May fifth, once upon a time. Having been promised to Prince Philip when they were both well below the age of consent, Aurora was raised in secret as well as in ignorance in a secluded part of the woods, which turned out to be a ten-minute walk from her parents' castle.

OMG, if you go back to sleep, will you finally stop talking?

All the secrecy had to do with the Mighty Whammy put on her as a baby by a snubbed christening guest with a knack for the dark arts. So the bride lived the first fifteen and eleven months of her life in a hidden cabin with three magical fairies who somehow made it fifteen years without revealing their magic though it seems doubtful they could've gone for fifteen minutes without using it, until, in a meet-cute for the ages, shortly before her sixteenth birthday (note: still below the age of consent), she was singing in the forest, dancing with an owl in a cape, and in general cavorting with woodland creatures when Prince Philip, wandering by, heard her, crept up behind her, and started dancing with the girl who, unbeknownst to him, was the baby who'd been promised to him in matrimony when he was a toddler.
They flirted a bit, Aurora played coy, and before you could say Bibbity Bobbity Boo---which you wouldn't, unless you were mixing up your stories---Aurora's whereabouts were discovered by the snubbed guest's pet raven, she went into a trance, pricked her finger on a spindle, and fell into a coma, and in order for the lovers to be together, Philip had to kill a dragon and then kiss Aurora to wake her, and this time, before she could say, Whoa, still barely legal, people, she was sent down the aisle by parents she couldn't even remember, but anyway Prince Philip's father, King Hubert of the Other Kingdom, was happy because at long last this union improved his kingdom's economic prospects.
The bridegroom wore a cape and pouffy sleeves, while the bride wore a dress that kept changing colors, curiously none of them white.

Snow White and Prince Florian

I was dead, buddy, I didn't lose my legs.

Snow White and Prince Florian were married in Bavaria on Saturday, shortly after Prince Florian, out riding his horse aimlessly, discovered her dead body in a glass coffin in the woods and using his lips, and presumably some sort of necromancy, brought her back to life.
They'd first met an unspecified time before for about five minutes ("when you know you know," HRH says) when he was lurking near the bride's stepmother's castle and heard the girl singing. Following the tradition among unemployed princes, he snuck up on her and scared her---but in a cute way!---and then they never saw each other again until after she died from ingesting a piece of fruit that had gone bad.
The bride's parents are both deceased and, until she'd run away, shortly after meeting the prince, she'd lived with her stepmother, who died under suspicious circumstances while taking a stroll. On a cliff. During a thunderstorm. There are rumors she may have tried to poison her stepdaughter, but whether that was before or after the bride ran away and shacked up with seven men with adjectives for names is unclear.
Following the marriage, the bridegroom will continue to gambol about the woods, annoying the kingdom's hard-working citizenry, and the bride plans to whistle while watching others work. Gifts can be sent to the castle. No apples or Apple products, please.

Cinderella and Prince Charming
Cinderella and Prince Charming were married Sunday in the Magic Kingdom, the original one, not the one in Florida. The bride is from humble origins but her foot fit in a particular shoe and it is not our place to comment on the fetishes of royalty. The bride was not given away by her stepmother as much as reluctantly released from a locked room. Her two stepsisters could not make the wedding, too busy recovering from the longest ugly cry in the kingdom.
The bride's dress was made by herself, some local mice, and a little bit of magic. They will honeymoon in Milan during fashion week because shoes.

Next time, could you bring, like, the oldest pair of shoes you own?


Belle and Prince Adam
Belle, aka Beauty, married Prince Adam, lately known as the Beast, this past weekend in the Formerly Enchanted Castle, Somewhere, France. The bride was given away by her sometime-inventor/all-the-time crackpot father, Maurice. The bridegroom's parents are deceased, having died when he was still a boy, which lack of authority and guidance probably explains why he was such a dick to that enchantress when she dropped by, causing her to curse him.
In attendance were all the servants that were formerly home furnishings and dancing plates. Both the bride and the bridegroom are unemployed, though the bride fancies herself an autodidact, much good that'll do when the wolves are after you and your husband no longer sports claws.

Princess Jasmine and Aladdin
Princess Jasmine and Aladdin were married on Saturday in Agrabah, loosely based on Baghdad, following much gnashing of the teeth by the grand vizier, Jafar, who reportedly tried to upset the union using a magic lamp and a scheming parrot. The bride was given away by her father, the Sultan of Agrabah.
Following the ceremony the couple said they were going to take a ride on their magic carpet with the bridegroom's pet monkey, presumably a euphemism.

Ariel and Prince Eric
Ariel and Prince Eric were married in a surf and turf--themed wedding on Sunday. The bride was given away via a raised triton waved from the water by her mermaid father, the aptly named King Triton. Her sisters were also in attendance, as well as a talking crab, close confidante of and singing coach to the bride. The Prince was attended by his longtime aide, Grimsby. Dress was uniforms, fins, and scales. The bride was barefoot as she still can't get over the fact she has toes. The meal erred more on the turf side in deference to the guests that were fish.


Tiana and Prince Naveen

You'd think we'd be tired of green by now.

Tiana and Prince Naveen of Maldonia jumped the broom in New Orleans this past Tuesday night during Mardi Gras---for the second time, but the first as humans. (Their first wedding ceremony, presided over by hoodoo priestess Mama Odie, was performed while the bride and groom were still frogs.) Miss Tiana was formerly a waitress, and frog, as was the Prince, the frog part, not the waitress part. Their love story involves the usual adorable misunderstandings, mistaken identities, and voodoo curses. The bride was given away by her best friend's father Eli "Big Daddy" Le Bouff, noted sugar baron and masquerade giver, and as a wedding gift he invested in Tiana and the Prince's restaurant, Frog's Leg, which does not actually serve frog's legs since the couple spent their courtship as amphibians.

Zoe: 183; Universe: 0


 If you enjoyed this post, you may enjoy Zoe vs. Three Disney Princesses.

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Thursday, April 26, 2018

Zoe vs. Kendrick Lamar's "Humble": A Parody

You may have heard that Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for music for his album Damn. If you're like me, your first thought was, Who's Kendrick Lamar? Your second was, I didn't know there was a Pulitzer Prize for music. Which just shows that your ignorance has range. Your third thought is, Speak for yourself, lady. Which is fair.
If you're not living under a rock---or several rocks if you have a seven-year-old who keeps handing you rocks for her "collection"---you might know more about popular music than I do. I also looked up previous winners of the Pulitzer for music and I'd never heard of any of them either, though, again, my wide-ranging ignorance is showing. Of classical music, of jazz, and of rap. My milieu is more Duran Duran.
Come to think of it, how come Duran Duran never got a Pulitzer? Wasn't "Hungry Like the Wolf" one near-rhyme away from spoken word poetry? Furthermore, what soul could look upon that video and fail to be moved?
But we were talking about Kendrick Lamar, who also won several Grammys this year. I didn't know that either. Which is because I have now entered the Kidz Bop phase of life wherein the first time you hear a popular song it's the retooled version for children.

Parody of Kendrick Lamar's "Humble"

Of course, it's not just what's on my iPod but my experience of life that is miles away from Mr. Lamar's. It's more than our respective number of Pulitzers. What I'm subtly alluding to is the fact that, unlike Kendrick Lamar, I'm a white mom in her forties. Chai-drinking, yoga-pants-wearing, highest-SPF-applying, don-a-wide-brimmed-hat-on-the-beach white.
Since learning of Kendrick Lamar's existence, I've listened to a few of his songs. Now, I don't mind cursing, but the sheer number and variety of curse words were an obstacle to my listening. Then there was the velocity in which they were delivered. He sang so fast the speed reminded me of "I am the very model of a modern major-general" from The Pirates of Penzance. (I may have gotten whiter just writing that sentence.)
Anyhoo, I did learn about syrup sandwiches, which was what Lamar apparently ate as a child because he was poor. If I were to rap about that, it would probably go like this:
Regarding syrup sandwiches, you can guess, 
as per my gender, age, and race, 
ain't no sugar let alone carbs approaching near my face.
All of the foregoing is to say, I have a parody today of Lamar's Grammy-winning song "Humble." (Dear Mom, click on the preceding link to hear the song. On second thought, probably don't.) My subject is bedtime reading with Zoe, and the pain that plucks a caregiver's nerves as his or her child pauses every other word to ask what every other word means, or to ask how many more pages she has to read, or otherwise whines, and if she's not yelling the sentences that end in exclamation points, you can barely hear her because she mumbles, and so I present:

"Mumble"
You gotta read, miss
I can't believe this
Read (yeah) (yeah)

If there's a word you can't pronounce I make allowances
No reason to dissolve in hissy fits
I can't account for this
Pajamas on, now time for reading, please
My face, it's frownin', miss
You say you already read today, tastes like lies, I ain't buyin' it
Girl, you learn about the world with the junior book club
Literacy's good, my patience worn down to a nub.
Mommy's too tired, just read it straight; don't do no voices
Pick up the book, then put it down, we're not playin' Jenga
P.M. is the evening, feels like P.M. turning A.M., clunk
Get off me, no more leaning, don't kick the chair, clunk
Mummies in the Morning, Magic Tree House, who'da thunk?
No dancing, reading! Regretin' all that juice you drunk.
"Read!"---my shout's all bile!
If you don't, I'm gonna throw that book a mile!
Mary Osborne, read the words she wrote
Speak clearly. Nice and slow. Don't mumble.

Read loud. Don't mumble.
(Speak up. Wrong pitch.) 
Read loud. Don't mumble.
(Speak up, speak up, speak up) Don't mumble.
(Modulate pitch) Read loud.
(Speak up.) Don't mumble.
Read loud. Don't mumble.

Who dat shorty thinkin' that she frontin' on Mom and Gran?
If you don't read, time you greet Mr. Sandman.
Read two more pages before I turn out the light
Or I swear you won't play for the rest of your life.
Mommy's so frikkin tired her life needs the Photoshop
Show me you can read a sentence without one stop
Show me you can speak a sentence without adding question marks.
You don't know the word, look it up in your dictionary, ay
I know you know that word, ay, I know it's within your vocabula-ray
Enunciate your words, ay, articulate the verbs, ay
Stop conversatin', ay, no confabulatin', ay
Archaeologist has two a's, but you don't say the second a
This that Merlin Mission, that magician, that warlock, ay
Though your lips move, can't hear your voice talk, ay
If I lose my temper, it won't be my fault
It's the bedtime-reading gestalt. Which means, don't mumble.

Read loud. Don't mumble.
(Speak up. Wrong pitch.) Read loud.
Don't mumble.
(Speak up. Speak up. Hello?) Read loud.
(Speak up. Change pitch.) Don't mumble.
Read loud. Don't mumble.

Zoe: 182; Universe: 0
 If you enjoyed this post, you may want to check out my parody of a non-humble Kanye West's "Gold Digger," which did not win a Pulitzer.

For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
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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. 
Much.
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.

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I need a win here, people. 

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