Monday, December 30, 2013

Zoe vs. 2014: A Look Ahead

Baby New Year's forecast for 2014
includes colic, eating the inedible, and
for fall, the Poop Storm of the Century.

Today I'm lending my soapbox, adjusted for height, to Zoe. She tells me she has some New Year's Resolutions that she'd like to share. So without further ado . . .

A Toddler's New Year's Resolutions

Hi, both Grandmas! (Even if there are other people here. . . . Mommy says "be polite," but "don't talk to strangers." Mixed message, am I right? She's giving me a look now like she has to go potty so I'll move on.)
I have fourteen resolutions because the year is something-14. Fasten your five-point harness and let's go. . . .

   1. Say "no" more.
2. Say "no more"---to vegetables, hair-brushing, hair-washing, and any medicines, ointments, or poultices.
3. Come up with new dance moves with which to wow Mommy while she's trying to get me dressed. When she asks, "Are you kidding me?" it's another opportunity to say "no."
4. Try new foods. To spit out after one bite.
5. Meet new friends. And push them.
6. Since Mommy keeps saying, "You can look, but you can't touch," master the art of breaking things with my mind. Or perhaps just scream at a higher register?
7. Don't complete potty training. Mommy doesn't appreciate things unless she has to work hard for them.
8. Ask "what's that?" while pointing in a vague direction. Daddy enjoys guessing games.
9. When announcing I'm sick to get more TV or to get out of doing something I don't want to do, don't immediately follow this announcement by jumping on the trampoline. Mommy says she sees through me because I'm "transparent."
10. Look up "transparent" in the dictionary. See if that's better than a Mommy-parent or a Daddy-parent.
11. Find out who "little Hitler" is. Mommy and Daddy keep mentioning this person. For example, the other night when I was lying in bed waiting patiently for morning, I was taking a breath between verses of "Old McDonald"---that I'd been singing at the top of my lungs so that Mommy and Daddy wouldn't miss me---and overheard them saying that their "policy of appeasement has only emboldened little Hitler's aggressive tactics." This better not be that new kid in day care. If so, see resolution #5.
12. Cut down on carbs. Am I kidding? Yes.
13. When a timeout is on the horizon, throw in an "I love you." They can't resist that.
And last,
14. Stay frosty.
Happy New Year!


Zoe: 25; New Year: 0

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Zoe vs. Santa

The night before Zoe's first visit to Santa, story time took a sinister turn. We were reading Dr. Seuss's Tooth Book. When we got to the page with Smiling Sam the Crocodile, Zoe looked up at me with her big blue eyes and said, "I'd like to take his smile away." True story. All she needed to up the creep factor was an English accent.

Following the unpleasant business in Texas, Leatherface
finds seasonal work at the WestShore Plaza mall in Tampa.

This Christmas felt like it was time for other firsts. Zoe was now three so it seemed she might finally "get it." However, getting it and going along with it are not the same, as I was to discover while putting up our first real tree in several years and going all out with the decorating.
Slutty candles.
It will probably not surprise you to learn I'm a far cry from Martha Stewart. My nod to home decor year round is a candle that sits in a glass dish that sits over a glass vase that I fill with multicolored rocks. On its own, shoved behind the junk mail on the sideboard, it looks like an item they couldn't push on QVC. But for Christmas I removed the rocks and added silver balls and voila, we were all festive and crap.

Unwilling to lose this momentum, I unpacked all the dusty boxes we hadn't touched in years, put out knickknacks of Santas, gingerbread men, and angels, put up blinking lights, and arranged a Nativity scene in front of the candle/vase thing.

Counting down the shopping days till Jesus' birth.
Outside Zoe's bedroom I hung an Advent calendar made out of felt where the usual suspects are also felt with Velcro on their backs. Each day you're supposed to take the next person or animal out of its pocket and place it on the appropriate spot in the Nativity scene. Zoe really liked the calendar but had other ideas about deployment. On day one she took all the people and animals out of their slots and placed them randomly around the manger. Poor baby Jesus ended up upside down at the bottom, all of his blood rushing to his head. In Zoe's tableau one of the Kings (Stephen? Larry?) perched in the manger. By his side, his proud parents: a camel and a sheep. Instead of an angel viewing the scene from above there was a cow that appeared to be plummeting to a grisly death. Perhaps Zoe was starting a new holiday tradition. We'd call it: Pick your blasphemy.
When it came to decorating the Christmas tree, I was prepared, not just from knowing Zoe but from hearing other parents' stories about broken ornaments and the horror of bottom-heavy ornament placement. I was pretty sure Zoe's OCD would not make her immune to the latter. First, there was the height disadvantage. Second, her aesthetic eye is particular to her. She was excited when I showed her the ornaments and wanted to hang them all but kept losing the hooks on her way to the tree. 
In one box was all our baby's first xmas ornaments that we'd never had opportunity to use. A mercury glass rocking horse was the first to succumb to her destructive love. It was my own fault for putting it too low. The first time my back was turned she pulled it off, sang some off-kilter song in which the only words I could decipher were "rocking horse, rocking horse, oh, hey, whoa." Crash. Which was the sound of her dropping it. It broke into shards. She still wanted to play with it, perhaps even more now that it could draw blood, but I pulled her away. Our first casualty. Probably the only reason it survived as long as it had was that it had been in a box since 2010. Godspeed, red teardrop ornament that caught Zoe's eye next.
Besides keeping the more fragile ornaments at the top of the tree I've also directed her attention to the ones she can touch, like the furry mouse or the Elmo ornament. She has her workarounds for both protective measures. 1. She drags  a chair over to reach the higher ornaments. 2. She smashes the ornaments she can touch against the ones she can't.  
Regarding the singing of xmas carols: Don't. Except for "O Christmas Tree," which we must keep singing. Over and over. Go ahead and try another song. You'll get shushed.
Now for our visit with Santa....
This plastic Santa mask is the
only thing creepier than a child
with an English accent.
I've already mentioned her chilling pronouncement the night before our visit. I knew it was unlikely that she'd sit on some stranger's lap let alone some big guy in a loud outfit wearing a fake beard (apologies, true believers and children at heart). But it's those damn photos. You know the ones. They feature smiling little children, all Zoe's age, thrilled with their one-on-one audience with the ultimate gift giver. So I held on to hope.
Following my experience at Macy's Santaland, I feel that a docile three-year-old who happily sits on a stranger's lap is as mythical as Santa himself, combined with the Yeti and conditioning shampoo.
First, a bit about the line. I feared for everyone when we got there (early, by the way) and the line already snaked back, disappearing into the bowels of the department store. How long would Zoe's patience hold out? I thought, filled with panic. Thankfully, though, those elves run a tight ship. But it was a desperate hour. She became well known, as I expected she would, since her grandmother and I had to keep calling her name when she strayed too far forward. We also had to keep telling her to stop pulling on the rope barrier, and banging on the metal base of one of the stands with a broken hanger. There were a litany of whiny requests we fielded, from the relatively benign: juice, pretzels, cheese to the somewhat bizarre: keys to get into the staff-only door, a candle with the number 3 on it (okay, that's actually not too bizarre; she likes to play with her birthday candle; what's bizarre is that I always carry it with me).

I have a meter just like that
and it also starts with a "B"!
Eventually we made it to Santaland proper, where Macy's kicks the holidays into high gear with electric trains, animatronic deer, a live Mrs. Claus, and a giant sleigh, which Zoe wanted to climb on top of. I tried to get her to pose for pictures at various points but she yelled, "No photo!" every time. Most of the shots I have of her show the back of her head with her hand out, the well-known gesture of the celebrity-felon.
Then our turn came. I knew we were in trouble as soon as Piper, the official elf escort, led us to the room our Santa was in (sorry, again, true believers). Zoe peeked into the room at the hell that was ahead of her and got the look in her eye with which I'm so familiar and which was probably the one I'd had in my eyes when we'd first arrived and beheld the line.
So . . . as any good mother would, I dragged my child kicking and screaming to her merry fate. She tried to run. She went boneless. She lay down on the floor. I shot Santa a look like, I bet you see this all the time. He did not return my gaze. I imagine all the Macy's Santas must be instructed: no eye contact, no sudden movements, three "ho"s minimum. Keep it moving, children. Santa loves you but by law must restrain himself.
The upshot, I wrestled Zoe onto the dais/bench whatever it was---I didn't have time to look, for all I know I was on Santa's lap---smiled a crazed is-this-fun-or-what? smile, and: SNAP. Holiday memories. Hilarious ones I'll be sure to rub in her face for years to come.

Don't leave him cookies, kids. This Santa's favorite snack is your soul.

Afterwards, while we waited to purchase our hilarious picture, Zoe ran over to a pay phone, picked up the receiver, and guess who she called? "Hi, Santa!" she said. I'd thought she'd said it all with her tears and screaming but I guess in all the hubbub she forgot to say hello. Before she unceremoniously hung up on him, I snapped a picture. It's the only one where she's smiling.
Zoe: 24; Santa: 0

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Zoe vs. Thanksgiving

Okay, this is going to be short and sweet. Just like Zoe. Sort of. Anyway, she's short.
First, let's break it down.
Thanks + giving.
Zoe understands "thank you." She has for a while, but whether she says it or not depends on a number of factors: how tired, how hungry, how desperate for juice, etc. And about half the time she whines, whispers, or cries it. So it's a work in progress.
On good days we get please and thank you at once. Of course, if it's vegetables, we get "No, thank you." When it's her ticket out of eating Brussels sprouts, she's suddenly Miss Manners. 
As for "giving," this is a foreign concept. I'm talking about giving for the sake of giving, not handing me a book she wants me to read to her. I think it's because to Zoe giving sounds suspiciously like sharing, and let's just say she's not on board with sharing and leave it at that. 
Now let's put them together. Everybody yell: Happy Thanksgiving! Zoe loves to yell things, whether she understands them or not.
Zoe's first Thanksgiving, she cried. The whole time. To be fair, she was only three months old and I think she was overwhelmed by the people, plus she couldn't eat the food. I can't really fault her. I've attended my share of social gatherings where I didn't know anyone and it was hovering by the cheese platter with exaggerated interest (okay, not that exaggerated) that got me through.
For Zoe's second Thanksgiving, a picture we took says it all. In the photograph one side of her head retains its pigtail; the other side of her head is pure crazy. A bipolar hairdo for a bipolar Thanksgiving.
The following year, when she was two years old, she had other children to play/not share with. She ate mashed potatoes and corn but mostly smashed them into her chair.

Film still from Dora: Detras de la Musica,
where Dora tells all about the real
monkey on her back.
This year is the first she seems more aware of Thanksgiving as a holiday. They've done projects in school, she's taken note of the decorations in our apartment, she's watched the Dora Thanksgiving episode wherein Dora sings a song with the lyrics: "Gracias! Muchas, muchas gracias. Gracias. It's Thanksgiving Day!" (Did you know Dora was American? I didn't. And what state has both a rain forest and bilingual talking monkeys partial to footwear?)

This year I also told her a bit about the meal we would eat and how it's good to be thankful for what we have. After, she ran around in circles for a good ten minutes singing "Thank you, Mommy! Thank you, Mommy!" over and over, one of Zoe's frequent flights of mania where it's hard to distinguish good sign from harbinger of doom.

Craig and Chief Whatmeworry didn't care what anyone said.
They just knew they'd be BFFs forever.

Turkey day is tomorrow so I'll leave you with one prediction I'm pretty sure will come true: I will be thankful when it's over.
Zoe: 23; Universe: 0

Friday, November 22, 2013

Zoe vs. Parades, Festivals, and General Frivolity

Zoe loves to have fun. As long as it's on her terms. When it comes to fun, Zoe determines the when, where, and who. Suggestions are unwelcome and summarily dismissed. Sometimes I feel like she's already that teenager who decides something's not cool if someone else thought it was cool first. All that's missing is an ironic T-shirt.
Today I've grouped Zoe's objections to fun in three categories: 1. parades, 2. festivals and street fairs, and 3. miscellaneous instances of frivolity.
Our neighborhood has a parade every year around Halloween where children dress up, bands play, and there's even a contest for best costume. I didn't bother dressing her up as a baby, though it probably would've been easier, mostly because I didn't see the point; she couldn't walk in a parade because she couldn't walk period. When she was two, her nap time coincided with the parade. However, we did go out after the parade that year, and we saw a lot of other two-year-olds in costume, implying they'd marched in the parade. So this year I was determined.
I bought her Halloween costume early: Cinderella. Figured I'd keep it simple. It was really just a fancy dress, nothing to wear on her head, nothing to hold. I also got shoes which looked like actual glass slippers, my favorite part. I wasn't sure she'd be able to walk in them for long or without falling, but they were so cute I couldn't resist. 
Come the day of the actual parade, Zoe wouldn't put the costume on. Fine. I foresaw that. I'm no fool. But I figured when we got to the staging area and she saw the other kids she might (might!) change her mind. Okay, I take back the part about not being a fool. When we got to the staging area Zoe was still not willing. We did see one other parent who'd had the same idea, and watching as they tried to wrestle their screaming toddler into a Snow White costume dissuaded me from attempting the same.
So we went home, where, you guessed it, as soon as we freed her from the stroller she wanted to put on her "princess dress" and her shoes. She stayed Cinderella the rest of the day, even running and jumping in the glass slippers, and at bedtime we had to fight her to take it off.
There have been other parades. St. Patrick's. Memorial Day. We were unable to stay for long at any. Marching bands from local high schools, old guys in classic cars, local politicians . . . she was unimpressed. From her perch in the stroller she motioned us along. If anyone was going to hold us up, it was going to be Zoe, and it was going to be for something only she wanted to see, like a pile of dirt.
Festivals/Street Fairs
Our neighborhood also has its share of festivals. In Zoe's early years I wheeled her through them and she'd just fall asleep. Golden times. Now she wants out of the stroller so she can run through the crowd, and away from me.

Cappy was shunned by the Looner
community for being too weird.
At one fair this summer Zoe wanted a balloon. She saw other children with them; ipso facto, all balloons belong to Zoe. Maintaining my calm facade while I frantically scanned the booths ahead of us, wondering where these other children had gotten their balloons, I tried to distract her, first with a folksinger, then with a kids' dance troupe. She would not be turned aside. Finally, we came across a man dressed as a clown making balloon animals and other shapes. We stood in line and watched as he twisted balloons into dogs and swords. When we got to the front, the clown gave Zoe a smile and told her he had something special just for her.
He then proceeded to use three balloons---a blue one, a white one, and a pink one---to fashion this complicated heart-within-a-double-circle design. As he worked, Zoe watched him, her expression grave. Sweat poured down the clown's face. When he was done, he handed her the latex creation with a flourish. She regarded it briefly, then turned cold eyes on the clown and spoke five words: "I want a red one." "She means thanks," I said, and hurried away.
As for festival rides Zoe has approach-avoidance issues. She wants to get on them but is afraid, so instead she waits till I'm about to strap her into a mini fire engine or car before freaking out and demanding to go.
It's the same with low-stakes rides. At one street fair she became obsessed with a coin-operated horse ride. I deposited the fifty cents but as soon as the horse started moving she wanted off. Then, from the safety of terra firma, she watched the horse bounce up and down for the rest of the time allotted. Afterwards she kept circling the horse and patting it until another child wanted to get on and then she got upset. It was her psychic hurdle and hers alone! I had to drag her away, hoping she wasn't going to be one of those girls who wanted boys to like her but wouldn't like them back and also didn't want anyone else to have them either. I knew girls like that in high school. They never had exact change.

Innocent children's pastime or equine death machine?

Miscellaneous Frivolity
No dancing.
No singing.
No hugging.
Unless Zoe initiates.
Occasionally The Husband and I turn on iTunes and play the music we used to listen to, pre-Z. Remembering what it was like to be young and unencumbered we sometimes break out dancing or singing. When this occurs, Zoe will look up from whatever she's playing with/destroying and angrily shout: "No dancing!" Or: "No singing!"

Halcyon days. They didn't know
and you couldn't have told them.

Dancing is limited to "Ring Around the Rosy." With Zoe. And we must do it until she tires of it, which has never happened.
Similarly, singing is restricted to Zoe's bedtime, when Daddy MUST sing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" (not Mommy!) while Zoe gets on her nighttime diaper, Mommy MUST hum the William Tell Overture while Zoe races against Daddy to get her pajamas on first, and finally, after Zoe is actually in bed and covered with exactly five blankets---in a particular order---that she then discards because she doesn't like blankets, Mommy MUST sing "This Old Man" twice through, counting off the numbers with her fingers. 
Furthermore, there is to be no physical contact between the prisoners Mommy and Daddy. Each may initiate a hug with Zoe but BY NO MEANS are we to hug each other. UNLESS we are making a Zoe sandwich with Zoe filling. Otherwise we are to remain firmly on our sides of the couch watching her play with gentle fondness (describing the manner in which we watch, not the manner in which she plays) while simultaneously preparing to spring into action should she need us to tear the living room apart looking for a toy she refuses to name or describe.

You don't want to know
where this finger's been.

She is very serious about all these rules and when we break them she gets very put out and yells "No!" a finger of warning raised in the air. Sometimes I can't help laughing at how tough she looks, but then I remember what she says when we laugh:
"It's NOT funny!"
Zoe: 22; Universe: 0

Friday, November 15, 2013

Zoe vs. Potty Training, Part the Second

When last we left the epic poem that is Zoe and her bodily functions, events had come to a standstill. To catch you up, as well as to lend the proceedings some class, I'll summarize in iambic pentameter: 
Zoe's potty remains unstained. Alas!  
No pee, does she. And as for poo, no too/two. 
Take that, Shakespeare.
A movement about
a movement.
But I'm keeping the faith. Because there's been a new development. The Husband thinks it's a pronunciation issue but I choose to believe she has potty training on her mind. She calls pre-school "pee-school." And pre-K  "pee-kray." Cute misunderstanding or bowing to the pressure?
Of course, as The Husband points out, she also thinks potty training involves an actual train. And desperate as I am, I asked her if she wanted to ride it: All aboard the potty train! I said, my lame attempt to make relieving herself sound fun. Not yet, she responded. While we wait for that train, we're engaged in the Battle of Little Big Girl.
It began when we replaced the crib with a "Big Girl" bed. A Big Deal was made about Zoe being a Big Girl and Zoe responded well. "Zoe's a Big Girl" became her mantra. The words spilled over into ideas, and soon she insisted on doing more things on her own, like taking her shoes and socks off. This minor progress went to my head and I figured here was my chance to turn the screws with the potty.
She was way ahead of me. Albeit not physically.
On Saturday I carried the potty chair into the living room, where Zoe was busy grinding Play-Doh into the carpet, and subtly inquired, "Is Zoe a Big Girl?" Zoe started to answer, "Yes, Zoe's a B---" but then stopped to give me her full attention, sensing the Weight of Meaning in my tone. Her gazed bored into me, an unholy light shining from her eyes. Then she finished:  "--a Little Girl."
Me: "But remember how you told me the other day you were a Big Girl?"
Zoe: "No." 
Me: "But you sleep in a Big Girl bed, don't you?"
Zoe: "No."
Me (sighing): "Can I get an ETA on when you will be a Big Girl?" 
The subject was non-responsive. And resumed playing/destroying.

The fateful moment when Dr. Frankenstein decided
to dip the Monster's hand in a bowl of warm water,
earning him the nickname Dr. Prankenstein.
Since then whenever I broach the Big Girl topic she says, Not yet. Or, Soon. Three years old and already she knows about ulterior motives. What am I going to do when she's a teenager? My hope is that her obvious intelligence will someday catapult her into some powerful position, like Grand Poobah of Mad Scientists or President of the United States, a position so powerful that her underlings won't have the nerve to say anything when she voids herself, soiling her lab coat or lady power suit beyond recognition. 
Still, a mother can't help but worry. What if the Joint Chiefs call her President Poopy Pants behind her back?
I brought my concerns to the day care staff, and one of them recommended a video called Potty Power. With the one-two punch of catchy tunes and peer pressure, Potty Power promises to teach any recalcitrant toddler how to use the potty.

DJ Lance Rock wearing the hell out of a toilet paper cozy.
The video begins with a series of questions asking the child to identify which activities can be performed by a Big Kid and which by a baby. Insanely catchy ditties ensue, all sung by a fresh-faced gal wearing a style-resistant denim shirt. She is accompanied by an animated roll of toilet paper appropriately named T.P. It would be as surreal as children's programming gets if not for the existence of Yo Gabba Gabba.
The video ends with what I assume is a sendup of the "Princess and the Pea" story, except here it's a homonym of pea. (That would be pee, in case you're struggling.)
Chaos reigns in the castle, for the princess will not use the royal potty (I don't know how the writers resisted referring to it as a porcelain throne) and the king (her father) and the queen (her mother), along with the jester (why?), are attempting to train her. The jester is an irritating man-child mainlining silly. Not only does he wear the foolscap and the motley attire, but he's got disturbing makeup, most notably, a perfect circle of color on each cheek. For some reason the king and queen fail to consider that it's maybe the jester's presence that is causing the little princess to have a shy bladder. Eventually though, as with all fairy tales, we get a happy ending and the little princess succeeds.
As promised, Zoe enjoys this video. She enjoys it so much she stands in front of the TV, rapt, stamping her feet rhythmically to the songs in the puddle of pee that quickly forms beneath her.

It was his unusual rosacea that made Jigsaw such a sourpuss.

Still, it must be having some effect. The other night, Zoe shouted: "No more diapers!"
"Right on!"  I said.
"No more pull ups!" she shouted.
"And no more underwear."
"That's ri---" Um. Hmmm. Does this mean she wants to go commando? A whole new problem may have surfaced.
As for the potty train, we'll have to catch the next one.
Zoe: 21; Universe: 0

Friday, November 8, 2013

Zoe vs. the NYC Marathon

I loves me some marathons. The physical and mental challenge, the human body pushed to the edge of endurance, the runner's high and the sense of achievement.
It's why I enjoy watching them on TV.
What? Oh, you thought I was talking about running in one myself. What a silly blog reader!
She needs a bucket for
more than her list.
I actually used to run track and cross country in school, but I've never run a marathon, and it certainly did not make my bucket list. TV-show-watching marathons are more my style---Dexter, Breaking Bad. But I also like to watch actual marathons. Ironman Triathlons too.
The Husband, a sports fanatic who even wrote a sports blog for a few years (And a Player to Be Named Later) before Zoe broke him, doesn't get it. He finds running itself to be boring and says watching someone else run is akin to watching paint dry.

I participated in an Iron Man Triathlon.
All three movies in a row. Exhausting.
Anyway, this past Sunday was the NYC Marathon. When Zoe was born I had this idea that we'd make going to the marathon a family tradition, and since then I'd been waiting for her to be old enough to enjoy it. We live at the foot of the Verrazano Bridge in Brooklyn and as long as we've been here I've gone to watch the race and cheer the runners. It's a very festive atmosphere: There's a band and people from different countries all waving their flags. Plus, some of the runners are in costume.
At Zoe's first marathon she was just a few months old, so it was a bit lost on her. The second time she was still too young, but as I told her on Saturday night, her aunt had participated in that one and we'd brought her to watch though she probably didn't remember. Last year, the marathon was cancelled because of Hurricane Sandy. So I was pretty excited this year and tried to infect Zoe with my enthusiasm.
I started priming her a few days before. On Sunday morning, I turned on the TV for the start of the race and told her the runners were lining up to go over the bridge, the same bridge she'd pointed at the day before in the park. All those people would be running over it and when they got to the other side, we were going to see them.
She seemed to be catching some of my energy so, feeling hopeful, I strapped her into the stroller and away we went. Meanwhile The Husband stayed behind to watch the pre-pre-pre-game stuff on ESPN, to me, the equivalent of watching another person watch paint dry.
On the way neighbors asked Zoe if she was going to see the marathon and she said, "Yes." As we got closer we could see the runners and hear the band playing and people cheering. I glanced at her face to gauge her response but her expression remained impassive. At the corner, I rolled her right up to the tape separating the spectators from the runners, and before you could say Meb Keflezighi, Zoe said, "I wanna go home."
Me: "I thought you wanted to see the race." 
Mebrahtom "Meb" Keflezighi.
He ran a mile for each letter of his name;
the last 4 he ran for free.
Zoe: "Yes"
Me: "Well, this is the race."
Zoe: "No."
Me : . . .
Zoe: "I want to go to the other race."
Me (reasonable): "There is no other race."
Zoe: "Other race!"
And she pointed back the way we had come.
Okay, I figured it was cold and she hadn't eaten much breakfast, so we'd go get some tea for me and a doughnut for her (and maybe, just maybe, I'd have some of it too), and then we'd walk a bit and circle back to the race as if there were two citywide marathons occurring that day and this was that other one.
At the coffee shop we ran into one of her daycare friends who was with her parents. This little girl was not in a stroller and yet she remained at her parents' sides (!). I'd never seen such a thing.  I have a dim recollection of such behavior being called obedience. Clearly her parents trusted that she would not run out into the street and trip the runners. Astonishing!
Zoe told the girl and her parents that we were going to the other race. The little girl looked at me for confirmation. I signaled desperately with my eyes that she should go along with it.
Then we got my Zoe's doughnut, said goodbye, and headed down the block. I walked for a bit and then turned back toward the race. This time when we rolled up to the tape she didn't make a fuss, probably owing to the glazed doughnut that I had cunningly just presented to her. But also owing to the runner dressed as Elmo, the dog on our left who was jumping up and down, and the two little girls on our right who were stretching out their hands to high-five the runners as they passed.

The idea was that his energy wouldn't drag.
However, a doughnut only lasts so long, especially in Mommy's vicinity. Glazed goodness dispatched, Zoe looked at her sticky hands and then told me she wanted to get out. Because I have yet to learn, I unbuckled her, warning her to stay on this side of the tape, emphasizing on the curb, reminding her that she's not allowed in the street unless she's holding Mommy or Daddy's hand.
The testing began.
First, she fingered the tape. Then she pushed on it, glancing back to see my reaction. I shook my head. But I could see the mad desire growing in her eyes. She stared directly into my soul and inched a toe off the curb. And who knows what mayhem would have ensued for she was suddenly overcome with hiccups, probably due to the gulping down of the doughnut combined with all the air she needed to support her whining. Then she peed herself. After which she turned to me and said two things:
Trent could be such a martyr
sometimes about exercising.
1: "I'm wet."
2: "I want to go to the other race."
Sighing, I led her away, deciding to let Zoe walk her wet butt home.
Did I say walk?
I meant run.
Apparently this was the other race Zoe had been referring to all along, the one where she ran next to Mommy and the stroller, laughter interspersed with hiccups the whole way. 
Guess we'll try again next year, when it will most assuredly be "another race."
Zoe: 20; Universe: 0

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Zoe vs. Picture Day

"I don't want to be pretty!" Zoe informed me at 6 a.m. on the Day of Days, or, less dramatically, Picture Day. For a week I'd been dangling the "pretty idea," sometimes casting it as "looking like a princess," as incentive so that when Picture Day came Zoe would be primed/brainwashed/whatever to put on her dress, submit to a hairstyle, and maybe even allow me to wipe her face. My inward feminist had cringed when I'd say these things, so I have to admit to being a little proud of Zoe for her response. She'd clearly learned that the Evil Queen from Snow White, obsessed with her looks, was no role model. (Not that Snow was much of a role model either with her "Someday My Prince Will Come" passivity.)
So I was proud of Zoe's verbal response. Her physical one, not so much, since soon after announcing her stance against pretty she removed her pull-up and peed on the floor. Of my bedroom. (Puddle, puddle on the floor, paper towels, please, some more.)

Scene from Picture Day: The Reckoning

Just a few months ago Zoe had been obsessed with pretty. When Mommy wore a skirt for work, she'd say, "Ooh, Mommy pretty." One night, when I got into my mismatched pajamas (perhaps I'm not much of a fashion example) she said, "Mommy, you not pretty." Ouch. Still my goal was comfortable, and comfortable and pretty are two states ever at odds with each other.
Pretty and all that it entails is such a loaded issue for we feminists. Zoe was watching TV the other day and there was a commercial for a talking Barbie. I assume the doll had several phrases in its arsenal but the one it spoke in the ad was: "I need new shoes." Barefoot in the kitchen making dinner, I winced. It's possible, but I rather doubt, that one of the other things the doll says is, "I need a doctorate in astrophysics." Also I suppose I have to admit that I myself have said, "I need new shoes," a lot more often than I've said the bit about the doctorate. In fact, I've only expressed the latter sentiment once, just now, and I'm pretty sure I didn't mean it.
Returning to the Day of Days, I should've seen it coming. Picture Days Past had been rocky. Plus Zoe had been getting more and more resistant to getting dressed in general. Some history . . .
The first Picture Day at her day care is one I look back on fondly where the only threats I had to worry about were surprise spit-up and explosive diarrhea. Zoe was six months old, a time when she wore whatever I put her in with no verbal or physical protest. And since she had no idea what was going on, she smiled for the people making silly faces while taking her picture. 
Irma realized her rookie mistake in letting a friend
give her a perm the night before Picture Day.
The next Picture Day came six months later, and you could see Zoe was starting to develop her trademark serious face. Think Clint Eastwood, only flintier. It went downhill from there. Every Picture Day she was either sick or she'd fallen the day before and sustained some obvious facial wound, such as a black eye or a chin gash or a scab below her nose so that her pictures looked like mug shots after a hard night of partying turned into a bar fight. The most unintentionally hilarious was when she was sick and gave the camera the Saddest Look in the World (patent pending), a sigh made flesh, one finger listlessly circling the carpet beneath her. She was not ready for her closeup.  
Then there was the time she would not put on her dress because she was going through this phase where she would not do whatever Mommy asked, at least I hope it's a phase, and I just brought the outfit with me to the day care and they were able to get it on her. Of course, it was a fight every morning after that to put her in anything besides that dress.
My mom "hearted" this look.
Then there's her hair. After wrestling her into her clothes every day, with a special fight on Picture Day for stockings and shoes that are Not Standard, ask me my mood to do her hair? I'm starting to understand why my mother gave my sister and me the Dorothy Hamill haircut. Once around the rink and it was perfect. If I'm able to sneak up behind Zoe and catch her by surprise, I must make a choice between combing her hair or forcing it into a clumpy ponytail because I've only got one shot at it.
On a normal morning, getting Zoe dressed is reminiscent of Debra Winger riding the mechanical bull in Urban Cowboy except the mechanical bull only bucks to throw you off, it doesn't also scream at you. Plus, it obligingly lives in a bar where a plentiful supply of alcohol awaits after you give up.

Mothers can nap anywhere, anytime.

I've tried the Offering a Choice idea. This is where you present two outfits and they get to pick one, the idea being that thus able to assert their independence in this minor way they'll be more willing to give you a break already. What Zoe likes to do is pick one, then halfway through getting it on insist on the other one. Repeatedly. While twisting around and screaming. So I give up and she goes to day care in pink and purple striped pants with a black and white polka dot shirt, like a regular clown aspiring to be a Harlequin clown. Meanwhile after all this pandemonium, the cat's by the door, valise at her feet, and a train schedule in her paws.

MarySue had worn the same outfit in her yearbook photo, where,
coincidentally, she had been named Most Likely to Commit a Felony.

Back to Picture Day. After I cleaned the pee from the floor Zoe agreed to put on her dress. Perhaps she just needed to show me who was boss, as if I didn't already know. However, she would not submit to putting on matching shoes or having her hair brushed. I'll take what I can get.
Zoe: 19; Universe: 0

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Zoe vs. Dr. Phil

Last week's entry featured the acronym O.P.P. This week it's OCD.
All toddlers occasionally exhibit signs of obsessive compulsive disorder, but I had mounting evidence reason to believe Zoe might be suffering from the real thing.
And who better to consult about Zoe's possible OCD than Oprah-approved TV psychologist Dr. Phil?
Dr. Phil says that OCD can be controlled in 85 percent of cases. When I informed Zoe her response was, "What's 'puhcent'?" Also, because she herself can't count that high, she unilaterally rejected the idea that 85 was a real number. Everyone knows numbers only go as high as twenty-ten.
The only person who never had to
face the music was Helen Keller.
And that was cause she couldn't.
I told Dr. Phil what she said and he told me, "That dog won't hunt."
Wondering what he meant, I then presented Dr. Phil with ten examples of Zoe's behavior vis-a-vis OCD and its comorbidities (a word that needs to be used more since there are those of us who like to be morbid more than one way at a time), and his answers appear below. (Note: These may or may not be actual things he's said. Find out at the end.*)
1. Zoe likes to arrange all her toys in a straight line and facing the same direction. When one falls or refuses to stand, it triggers her Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (according to the DSM-5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a crazy-ass insane temper tantrum). What should I do? 
"You can put feathers on a dog, but that don't make it a chicken."
Is this the same dog that won't hunt? Can you clarify?
2. Zoe refuses to wash her hands, but I thought that people with OCD were supposed to be obsessed with hand-washing. I've also heard that you should expose the person with OCD to dirty things to get them sensitized to dirtiness. Does this mean I should expose her to her own hands?
"You don't need a pack of wild horses to learn how to make a sandwich."
I think I'm starting to understand you though I'm still confused about all the animal references. I think you're saying I'm making this more complicated than it has to be, right?

The above example shows how obsessive thoughts
can lead to compulsive hand-washing. Mainly because
blood tends to get all over the place when you
slaughter your whole family with an axe.

3. In the morning, Zoe MUST have her apple juice (mixed with water otherwise she'd be even nuttier) from a red sippy cup with a matching red top no matter that we own sippy cups in other colors and all the red ones are either sitting unwashed in the dishwasher or at the bottom of a pile of dishes in the sink and never mind that Mommy's so tired she can hardly see straight. Should I go back to bed?
"No dog ever peed on a moving car."
And we're back to the dogs.
4. Also I need to prepare her morning juice drink in the proper sequence, that is, water first then juice from the large juice container and then some from the small bottle that I use for short trips out, and it must be in this order or . . . Disruptive Mood Dysregulation. Should I cry?
"Everyone faces the challenge of finding meaning to their suffering."
Roger that, Dr. P! That's the first one that seems on target and didn't involve an animal.
5. Zoe has many other rigid rules that must be adhered to that don't have to do with juice. For instance: The path home from the day care must always be the same. When I read her one of her favorite books, I always have to do the voices the same way until I can't stand to hear the sound of my own voice. In order for her to brush her teeth we must brush ours at the same time and each of us has to hold a tube of toothpaste in our non-toothbrush hands. Any advice?
"You don't need a rope to pinch a stranger's butt."

I told you I prefer the dove-gray sweater for arranging the cans in the pantry.

6. When Zoe was an infant she'd smack herself in the head when she drank from her bottle. Now when she drinks from her red sippy cup she pulls at her hair. Is this an offshoot of OCD called trichotillomania, aka the hair-pulling disorder? Will this lead to baldness?
"Don't make me put your head in my blender."
Baldness it is then.
7. I tell Zoe no a lot but this is because she's doing crazy stuff and I'm trying to teach her to survive and/or not be disgusting. She either ignores me or only listens for a little while before returning to the disgusting behavior. For example, the other day I asked her to stop smearing her Danimals smoothie on the TV and she complied for about three seconds before going back to smearing. However, when I promise her a cookie if she lets me finish food shopping without a meltdown she never forgets that. Does she have Selective Neurocognitive Disorder?
"No matter how flat you make a pancake it always has two sides."
Syrup's a problem too.
Sometimes hoarding is just hiding.
8. You had an episode on your show about hoarding where you paraded some poor woman and her family in front of your viewers like they were circus freaks. The DSM-5 defines hoarding as the "accumulation of a large number of possessions that often fill up or clutter an active living area to the extent that the intended use of the space is no longer possible." This sounds like my living room. It's not just the toys underfoot and the doll strollers and toy cars capsized with their stuffed animal occupants crushed beneath them as if there were a major traffic accident on Sesame Street, it's also the many sheets of paper strewn about featuring only one crayon mark due to her minimalist style. Her hoarding also affects her sleep because she insists on piling more and more toys on her bed, claiming she can't sleep without them. Besides the phalanx of stuffed animals, there are toys with sharp edges and that play music and so how could anyone sleep, especially you, Dr. Phil?
"The cat that ate the canary eventually also eats crow."
Ok, as long as there's a comeuppance on the horizon. 
9. On crazy sock day, Zoe insists on wearing crazy, i.e., mismatched, socks but once she has them on I CANNOT allude to the fact that she is wearing crazy socks or Disruptive Mood etc. I play along. Do I have Stockholm Syndrome?
"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it think it's a donkey."
You're telling me.
10. Zoe's OCD is giving me PTSD, so could you BYOB ASAP?
"Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining."
Um, okay. 
Well, this has really helped and I think I'm well on my way to becoming a philistine, which is what I believe fans of Dr. Phil are called. How's that workin' for ya?
*Answers: 1 through 7 are all actual things Dr. Phil has said. 8 & 9 I made up. And 10 was a trick; that one's Judge Judy.
Zoe: 18; Universe: 0