Thursday, July 13, 2017

Zoe vs. The Day of (No) Judgment

Shame has gotten a bad reputation. Which has been good. Mostly. But maybe it's time for the pendulum to swing back the other way a bit. I'm not just saying that because of the Kardashians.
And before you get all finger-wagging at me and say, "You should be ashamed wanting to bring back shame," let me explain. I think there's a lot of shame that's a complete waste of time---self-inflicted or subsidized by the self-righteous---and should be dispensed with, mainly about things that can't be helped, like the body or mind a person was born with, or complicated choices in parenting (breast vs. bottle is my prime example), and I think calling out the judgmental people who want other people to carry shame over these things is good.
In fact, dispelling shame is in its heyday. A sign of this is how it's slipped over into comedy. Anyone who's ever scarfed down an entire chocolate cake in one sitting knows that they'll get a laugh if, after wiping the last crumb from their mouth, they say, "Don't judge me." And it's funny!
But now there's a "don't judge me" epidemic. I know this is true because Zoe's started saying it.
The other morning Zoe put her sneakers on backwards, and when I called her on it, she put up her hand and said, "Don't judge me."


Zoe is my bellwether for when something's wrong. She's my pint-size glitch in the matrix. So I thought about "don't judge me" and then applied Kant's Categorical Imperative, if it was in first grade. Basically the Categorical Imperative (first grade version) says: If you think you're right to do something, would you still think so if Zoe's entire first grade class did it too?
(My college philosophy professor just beat himself to death with a copy of Kant's Metaphysics of Morals just so he could have a grave to roll over in. Philosophy was not my subject. I preferred literature. I was always interested in why a character did what they did, not what they should've done. After all, if all the characters in a novel did what they should, you'd have a very boring story. Take that, Kant!)
Back to "don't judge me," the next generation's "whatever." Maybe Zoe got it from the older kids at her aftercare. Or maybe it's more recent, from the teenage counselors at her summer camp. But she's been saying it willy-nilly and out of context for a couple of weeks now.
Anything from dropping her Go-Gurt on the rug to tripping over a toy to turning on Paw Patrol, she'll tack on a "Don't judge me."
I find the whole thing especially amusing because I consider myself judgmental---how do I say this without sounding obnoxious? (Can't do it)---on a higher plane than most people. My judgment is better than your judgment. Try to judge me but I'm right.
Lately, I've noticed a misplaced "sensitivity" sweeping the internets and sometimes in real life where we give standing ovations to those who say, Look, I didn't judge today! High-five me!
Well, I can stand by no longer with my hands in either clap or high-five mode. I think people are suffering from a misunderstanding, but don't worry, I'm here to set everyone straight.
We've already covered the obvious wrong of judging people for things they can't help. And if "wrong" is unpersuasive, it's also cheap, classless, and lacks subtlety.
Where people can and, oftentimes, should be judged I classify into two areas:
1. Actions, especially when they affect other people.
2. If they don't read AND are proud of it. 
I've met a few people in my life who are proud non-readers. I was thinking of starting a crowdfunding page to make little hoods with zippers that I can slip over non-reader people's heads and then slowly zip them up up up so the world never has to look at their "I don't like to read" faces again. They probably don't even know what the serial comma is. Don't get me started.
Judgment is healthy. It's natural. It can be useful as a corrective for awful behavior. Humans are social beings, and what's more social than getting together and judging people like Adele and Matt Allen, who do shameless things like starting a gofundme so they can be "self-sufficient." Have you heard about them?
You may recall Ms. Allen as the woman who wrote about having a lotus birth, which is basically, well . . . you know how Ben Franklin said guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days? That, but with placentas.
I thought the post-natal placenta pal was the most disgusting thing ever. Until I wrote this.
Anyway, the Allens perfected irony by asking strangers to give them money so they could be self-sufficient. They want to buy some land in Costa Rica, take their offspring (I assume sans placentas), and live off the grid, though they still somehow plan to blog---perhaps by harnessing the energy caused by everyone on the planet rolling their eyes at the same time.
And don't tell me, Well, they have the right to ask, it doesn't mean you have to give them your money. Because we both know I'm not talking about stepping on rights or freedoms, I'm talking about the greatest right there is: the right to roll your eyes when confronted with idiocy. DO YOU HEAR THE "STAR-SPANGLED BANNER" IN YOUR HEAD YET? No? Maybe it's because I'm yelling.
Similarly, the new kid in the IT department has the right to wear a man-bun, but I reserve the right to shake my head and mutter, "That's a damn shame right there," when he walks by.
It's okay, he can't hear me. He's wearing headphones bigger than his head. And one time he wore a romper. But did I report him to HR? No!

When words fail, you can be sure taste failed first.

Because above all I'm charitable, live and let live, I say, until I have a bad ride on the subway and start nursing fantasies of becoming a dictator and ordering forced sterilizations for everyone on my train car.
When I say this, some people laugh and other people raise their eyebrows, and I'm not going to tell you which reaction is appropriate. And that's because I'm a short person with slow-twitch muscles who bruises easily, so my only defense mechanism is making people uneasy, unable to determine my exact level of crazy.
We all work with what we've got. Don't judge me. Or, hey, do what you want.

Zoe: 168; Universe: 0
If you enjoyed this post, you may like this other one where I tried to sound like I wasn't being judgmental but totally was. 

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 6, 2017

Zoe vs. It Takes Two to Make a Blog Go Right: A Blogiversary

When I started writing this blog four years ago, Zoe was just shy of three, and now she's a month away from turning seven. Naturally, she was unaware of my blog when I began it. As she grew, a dim awareness dawned, which soon settled into icy indifference. That trajectory is similar to how the world at large has reacted to my blog.
Like last year, today I'm doing a song parody to celebrate another year of toiling in obscurity, I mean, blogging. I chose notorious ear worm/song "It Takes Two" by Rob Base and DJ EZ Rock. I picked it because it does take two people to write these posts: me, your faithful observer and scribe, and Zoe, whose antics, somewhat exaggerated, are fodder for my stories.
I also chose "It Takes Two" because it's a song that's like most small children in that it hits that sweet spot between annoying and infectious.

"It's All True"-- A Parody
Right about now you are about to be possessed by the sounds of MC Mom Blogger and EZ-Z to the E

Hit it!

It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (okay maybe not quite)
It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (exaggerate I might)

Read it!

Mom's gonna blog right now
She's a mom who blogs to calm down
She's not even locally known
But she's known to be on her smartphone
She writes about me, and I'm infectious
Literally, folks, I mean contagious
When I ate a booger, mom called an Uber
To get far away from me is what would behoove her
But Grandmas love me, aunts adore me
I mean, even readers who never saw me
Like hearing all about me grow
The reason why? I'm cute, don't you know
So let's go, cause

It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (okay maybe not quite)
It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (exaggerate I might)

My name is Zoe, and I gotta long tale to tell
Listen up or I'm just gonna hafta yell
I've got a story
That I wanna share
You're on the toilet? So what, I don't care.
I'm number one, play Uno, don't stop
Play the game my way or I'll call a cop
Bold and blonde and I come correct
When Mom hears a noise why am I always the first suspect?
I'm a queen, and you can't catch me
Or with my icy magic, I'm gonna get free
Cause I'm Zoe, but call me Elsa
To my mom, my mouth is the freshest
So let's start, I don't kick that hard
Don't know why Mommy say she need a bodyguard
I must confess I seldom say yes
Play with Legos, win at chess, yes!

It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (okay maybe not quite)
It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (exaggerate I might)

The situation, that this blog is in
Four-year anniversary, my mom can pretend
That you'll share this post with a good friend
So read it and then you'll comprehend
Cause I'm a reader, my vocab superior
They say don't judge a book by its exterior
I never sit, and talking's something I never quit
I spin in circles, then I'm dizzy a little bit
Take off my clothes, then reach down and touch my toes
I get low then line my toys up in rows
Watch Minecraft how-tos on YouTube
I'm also a dragon cause this is Zoe's world
I'm on a mission, ya better just listen
Hear me growl and I'm all about hissin'!

It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (okay maybe not quite)
It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (don't wanna fight!)

I stand alone, unless I need someone
To take me to the bathroom, to do number one
I make friends as much as foes 
Cause I'm Zo-e, the one who chose
Games, that make Mommy weary
Stay near me, feel teary
Pout! That's what I'm about, shout no!
Don't turn the lights out.
I'm not tired, not even a bit, not nearly
I can stay up till all hours of the night or even midnight
Undirected. When I get my dinner, I reject it.
Get me a snack, lest I attack Mommy's back.
She typed this blog up, on a Mac.
If you want humor, let's go,
Click on the links, go for laughs I throw
Mom says I've got to go
You talkin' to me? Oh. No.
Cause I've got to pee again, even though it's past my bedtime
Says what I get away with, it's just a crime
But she lets me go, with a pretty please
Says it's better than having to use Febreze
Rock the blog with the help of Z
All day, I like to play
Mommy only writes the words that I say

It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (okay maybe not quite)
It's all true these blog posts I write
It's all true (exaggerate I might)

As I write right now,
When I count to three, I want you to go to bed
One, two---
Z: Get juice now? (It may take two for me to go to bed.)

But Did You Die? Setting the Parenting Bar Low, hilarious stories of parenting advice gone wrong, but occasionally right. Available now. In fact, if you just glance over to your right, you'll see it right there in the sidebar. See it? Reward yourself for your smartitudes: click it!

Zoe: 167; Universe: 0
If you enjoyed this post, you may like last's year blogiversary post: my parody of Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire."

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

Four more years! Four more years!
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Thursday, June 15, 2017

Zoe vs. the Book Review: But Did You Die? Setting the Parenting Bar Low

Mommy's in another book. I know this because I overheard her begging a friend to give it a "review." So when she was alone and defenseless, i.e., in the shower, I asked her two questions.
1. Why hadn't she asked me for a review?
2. What's a review?
Gamely wiping shampoo from her eye, she told me a review is when you tell people what you thought of a book you'd read, good or bad.
So, I said, you asked that lady to give you a good review or a bad review?
She hesitated then said, "I told her to be honest," adding, in her pod-person voice, "Everyone should always be honest." 
Then we played who'll-blink-first and I won.

But Did You Die? Setting the Parenting Bar Low
Available now! See the sidebar. It's right there!

"I'd like to review your book," I said.
"No," she said, flat-out, just like that. "First of all, you fall down on the floor and have a break down when I ask you to read Hop on Pop so there's no way you're getting through an anthology"---she rushed on when she realized she'd used a ten-dollar word I'd surely ask about---"and second, it has . . . adult words in it."
"You mean bad words. Curse words. Like---"
"Yep. Now scram so Mommy can get soap out of her eyes," and with that she wrested the shower curtain from my hands and snapped it closed. 
So I found a copy on my own, and yes, it was too long, but I skimmed it which means not really reading it, like Mommy does with letters sent home from school. (Ed. note: this is not true! Besides, I am a very good skimmer.) 
Then I wrote my review, in one sentence, using a lot of "ands" because I'm learning about joining words in school.
The overall theme of the book is parenting advice, taken, not taken, and the shenanigans that ensue.
(Ed. note: click the hot-linked phrases to find out who wrote each essay--it's a fun surprise AND you'll find a new hilarious person to follow!)
Ahem! If Mommy will stop interrupting then we can get on with:

The Best Book Review Ever 
by Zoe
The first story is about these three little girls whose pet dies, and in my opinion, the Mommy writing it lacked appropriate solemnity, but Mommy said it was "laugh-out-loud" funny, and that story is followed by a different kind of horrifying-but-supposedly-natural thing, which is breastfeeding, and I learned breast is best, or maybe it isn't, or at least not all the time, the conclusion kind of left it up to you, followed by a Daddy who hates baby talk and I concur vehemently, after which we have some plane poop, which is better than the gross body stuff in the next story about that thing Mommys and Daddys have to do to make babies but sometimes do when they don't want to make babies, why I don't know, followed by a Mommy who makes her kids work for her, which seems criminal and I will be reporting her to the proper authorities, then a story about hipsters who like to eat green babies and so the Mommy who has one escapes to Greece, which is where green comes from, maybe, or at least they both start with the same four letters, followed by a Mommy obsessed with putting her kids in the oven, which is just sick, and after that I was ready for unsolicited advice from a lady without kids who sounds fun to hang out with and like she hasn't been beaten by life yet and I refuse to see any correlation with her being childless, followed by scary toys that come to life in the night, then the story I call "good catch, Daddy," and I bet you want to know what he catches, don't you, then a Mommy who doesn't lie but thinks she should have, about the toilet, but it's never good to lie and I'm surprised that this Mommy entertains the idea, then comes Mommy's essay, which was not cleared with my people, then a story about a Mommy obsessed with socks, which I find is a pretty common parental obsession---they're just socks, people---then a story about a Mommy who tries to be a Daddy and be fun and almost dies, which is what happens when Mommys try to be fun, just sayin', then this Mommy who's unheathily obsessed with becoming a cheerleader---let it go, lady, to paraphrase Elsa---followed by a Daddy who's got some issues about his teen daughter driving, which I hope she ignored, cause girls can do anything better than boys, and sometimes Daddys too, circle of life, etc., then this little kid whose style I like is just keepin' it real but the Mommy gets embarrassed---this is a good one cause the kid in it curses---then this other Mommy talks about how she was left alone as a newborn, and I thought, big deal, it wasn't till I had a few months under my belt that I could cause some real trouble, followed by this pottymouth Mommy talking about her teenage son, and she uses so many bad words I was kind of impressed so had to slow my skim so I could write them down, and after that I learned that though I should try not to vomit in a tube park, I will never have to clean it up cause that's a Mommy's job, and next up was a soccer dad, and he is an actual coach of his daughter's team, which I think Daddy didn't know he could do this and I will have to tell him, followed by another forgetful, neglectful Mommy who doesn't read instructions carefully (are all Mommies like this?), and then a Daddy who says if your own Mommy is very careful, you'll be less careful when you get older and I'm not sure if this was supposed to be good or bad, and then the next Mommy had a question: "Urine is sterile, right?" and I wondered why she didn't just google it, unless she was afraid of getting pee on the keyboard, followed by pee's friend, poo, and a story about this kid I really like because she really likes poo, then a story about those stick things Mommy has in the cabinet that she gets annoyed when I take them out and play with them because they're fascinating but I'm glad I don't have to use them and don't get how they even fit in your front butt, and this one was followed by the one that made the most sense because it was about a Mommy who was told don't fall with your hands in your pockets, and when I read that, I slowed my skim again because that really resonated with me and made me so happy, but then I got to the lying Mommy who only pretends to stay nearby---and I won't even tell you how she does this because it's so devious and disgusting---while her poor kid goes to sleep unaware he lives in a world of lies, but then I got over it when I read about this magical place called Port Authority where I've never been to the bathroom, and next time I will drag Mommy there because it's now on my bathroom bucket list, and this was followed by a story about an anthropomorphic candy bar with bad timing, but is there ever a good time for a giant candy bar to be anthropomorphic because then it's not a real giant candy bar, and that's just the worst sort of disappointment, then a funny story I liked about a baby vomiting on a stranger on a plane, which is the height of comedy, get it?, because it's on a plane, then about this lady who keeps having kids and the births never go according to plan and I'm not sure if she keeps doing it till it comes out right or what, then an interesting story about a Mommy telling her child to ignore bullies but it seems there are exceptions, which is good to know because someday I'm going to learn how to kill a man with one finger, then this Daddy who thinks parenthood needs a cure and I wasn't sure what he was getting at and if I should be happy about it because he kept zigging when I expected him to zag, and another story with my favorite subject, a little kid like me cursing and getting away with it, sort of, I mean, the Daddy didn't like it but the Mommy I think was coaching the kid and teaching her all the best curse words so I like this Mommy, and finally we end with a story by the lady who put the whole thing together for her Aunt Ology---whoever she is, and I'm not sure what she's going to do with all this advice---and hers is about how boys stink when they become teenagers, but I think they already do, at least the ones in my class do, and aren't I lucky that I'm a girl and so I'll never stink? The end. 
Oh, and I liked the book fine, I guess. Maybe even the story about me.

But Did You Die? Setting the Parenting Bar Low, hilarious stories of parenting advice gone wrong, but occasionally right. Available now. In fact, if you just glance over to your right, you'll see it right there in the sidebar. See it? Reward yourself for your smartitudes: click it!
Zoe: 166; Universe: 0
If you enjoyed this post, you may like Zoe vs. "The Book Blurb."

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, June 8, 2017

Zoe vs. David Lynch

Scenes filled with a nameless dread. Encounters with the surreal. Disturbing violence and psychological terror. Unnerving silences. Parenting involves all those things. Which is why it has a lot in common with the oeuvre of David Lynch.

Zoe vs. Twin Peaks

I was a big Twin Peaks fan, so when I heard David Lynch and Mark Frost were going to bring it back, well, it felt like all the gum I'd ever liked was going to come back in style. 
Twin Peaks was one of the early touchstones in my relationship with The Husband. Soon after we met, we bonded over our love for Agent Dale Cooper and his love for coffee---"black as midnight on a moonless night"---not to mention pie. We loved the Log Lady and eye-patch Nadine's quest for perfectly silent drape runners. Like so many others, we wanted to know "who killed Laura Palmer?"
Everyone was obsessed with this blond beauty. We wanted to believe she was an angel; we suspected she might be the devil. Am I being too subtle? 
It's not just Twin Peaks that reminds me of Zoe. It's a lot of David Lynch's movies. I mean, have you seen Eraserhead? The whole movie was a reenactment of my brain the first year of Zoe's life, filled as it was with never-ending diaper changes and never-beginning sleep. Hallucinations. A tiny creature completely dependent on you filling you with equal parts dread, responsibility, love, and not a little repulsion. That and the main character sports the most spectacular bed head.

A) Shower B) eat or C) take a nap? Whaddaya mean "D"?

Or how about Lost Highway? If you've seen it, you probably remember the Mystery Man who approaches Bill Pullman's character at a party and tells him that he (the weird little man standing right in front of him) is currently at his house and says if you don't believe him, call him. Bill Pullman calls his own house and guess who answers. Freaks me out every time.
A little shorter and a cuter haircut and this could be Zoe appearing at my bedside at five in the morning to ask who's going to put her to bed that night. 
Did I mention how midway through Lost Highway one character switches heads with another? If that's not a metaphor for parenting, then I don't know what is.

"Hello, me? It's you."

And then there's Blue Velvet, featuring villain Frank Booth, who is, shall we say, disrespectful to a character he addresses as "Mommy." Luckily I still have both my ears, though I've been tempted to rip them off myself after Zoe's been telling me the same disjointed story three days straight about how she may or may not have a little bit but doesn't remember put up her middle finger but not on purpose and is that bad?
Mulholland Drive, and I can't believe I'm saying this, I think I understood. It's about the corruption of Hollywood and broken dreams. There's role-playing, a possible parallel universe, non-sequiturs, and nightmare visions.
Just last night Zoe was telling me a story about a monster who lived under a bed. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be her bed or someone else's, but either way, with Lynchian nonchalance, she said, "Then the monster comes out and puts his head in your mouth." She paused, then said, "Or maybe it's your head in his mouth. Anyway, that's what I call a nightmare."
"It fits the bill," I tell her, giving her a thumbs-up, a la Agent Cooper.

Sorry if I woke you from the nightmare you were having about me.

Speaking of dreams, I can't help but think the giant and the dwarf who appear to Cooper are metaphors for how the things parents say to children and vice versa are often mysterious and perhaps can only be understood twenty-five years later, and on an alternate plane of existence.
It's been twenty-five years since Twin Peaks originally aired and now it's back. Since I'm in a different place in life, I'm more willing to suspend disbelief this time around. Or maybe it's because I'm too tired to try to make sense of David Lynch and that's why his solipsistic narrative logic doesn't trouble my literal brain as much. In any case, I'm just sitting back and trying to enjoy the ride. Just like parenting Zoe. Who I'm pretty sure doesn't have, or need, an evil doppelganger.

When you've just cleaned the sink and your kid spits toothpaste in it.

Zoe: 165; Universe: 0
If you enjoyed this post, you may like Zoe vs. Karl Lagerfeld.

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, May 11, 2017

Zoe vs. Lord of the Flies. Or, Who Said It: A Six-Year-Old or William Golding?

I read Lord of the Flies when I was in seventh grade. I'm not sure if my teacher thought it was a good book to read because it was short or because the characters were kids. But if it was because we were supposed to learn something about man's inhumanity to man, I wanted to say, Lady, all we really need to know we learned that time you stepped out to take a phone call and left us unsupervised for two minutes.
But today, almost four years into writing a humorous parenting blog, I wonder how it is I've referenced Lord of the Flies exactly once? Maybe it just seemed a little too on the nose. The whole children-descending-into-savagery thing. I have a kid. I've been to a playground.
Zoe, like all children, is a walking Id, so imagining her running free and unsupervised on an island with a lot of branches to fashion into weapons gives me pause.
Plus, when you wear glasses like I do, and poor Piggy from Lord of the Flies did (RIP, Piggy), you live in fear of them being broken by a mischievous child. And it's really only a short jump from there to imagining your entire body being crushed under a rock when mischief makes that right turn into murder.

Or, Who Said It: A Six-Year-Old or William Golding?

So today we're going to play "Who Said It?" Is it Zoe or is it one of the British boys from William Golding's Lord of the Flies?
After all, the line between human and savage is a fine one, especially when the latter is digging her elbow into your sternum and you're both cranky.
Answers at the end.
No peeking now!
Who Said It: Zoe or William Golding?
1. "Which is better, to have rules and agree, or hunt and kill?"
2. "I thought I might kill."
3. "I'm going to make everyone dead."
4. "Everyone has to listen to me."
5. "I was chief, and you were going to do what I said."
6. "Everyone's happy when I'm happy."
7. "Kill the pig! Cut his throat. Kill the pig! Bash him in!"
8. "I can explode you two times and you'd be dead."
9. "We've got to have rules and obey them. After all, we're not savages."
     9a. "Who cares?"
     9b. "What matters?"
10. "I'm not going to play any longer. Not with you."
11. “The mask was a thing on its own, to hide behind, liberated from shame and self-consciousness.”
12. "Where's my mask?"
13. "When is the Earth going to be destroyed?"
14. “He found himself understanding the wearisomeness of this life, where every path was an improvisation and a considerable part of one's waking life was spent watching one's feet.”
15. “Maybe there is a beast… maybe it's only us.”
16. "I'm your worst nightmare."

Answer key: 1. Ralph from LOTF. 2. Jack from LOTF. 3. Zoe. 4. Zoe. 5. Ralph. 6. Zoe. 7.  Boys from LOTF. 8. Zoe. 9. Jack. 9a. Ralph. 9b. Zoe (her version of "Who cares?") 10. Jack. 11. William Golding. 12. Zoe. 13. Zoe. 14. William Golding, but this is what the expression on Zoe's face said the other night when she threw herself on the ground and refused to walk another step carrying her backpack because she was just "so exhausted." 15. Simon from LOTF. 16. Trick question. This is an oft-repeated trope from movies and TV, and I imagine it will also be the tattoo Zoe gets when she's fifteen and about which I'll write "Zoe vs. My Worst Nightmare Tattoo."

Zoe: 164: Universe: 0

If you enjoyed this post, you may like Zoe vs. All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.

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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