Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Zoe vs. the Oscars

It probably goes without saying that Zoe will win the first skirmish, the one where the show vies with her for Mommy's attention. I put Zoe to bed between 8 and 9, so I'll definitely miss the first hour of the Oscar broadcast. And I may miss the subsequent six and a half hours of the show because lately I'm falling asleep in Zoe's bed and waking up much later only to face the decision of whether it's worth it to get up and crawl to my own bed or just stay where I am. (A full bladder is what usually decides me.)

Now if there were chocolate inside . . .

So now that I've said all the stuff that went without saying I'll get on with the stuff I planned to say, which is how parenting Zoe eerily matches the descriptions of all nine movies up for Best Picture, only one of which I've been able to see because I've been busy with-- well, it goes without saying. ( I mean it this time.) 
First I'll note that several of the movies nominated are based on true stories. I relate to that. In many ways my life with Zoe is also based on a true story. But there are even more parallels.
Pack a light cardigan because it's time for some goosebumps. . . .

Paper towels for everyone!
The Wolf of Wall Street: The use of voiceover (just like blogging!). A black comedy. Wasteful extravagance (I feel like I'm always throwing food away and that I should've invested in paper towels). Glitz and glamour (if your idea of glitz is the glisten of snot on your black so-well-worn-it's-diaphanous T-shirt and your idea of glamour is wearing the yoga pants without the hole in the crotch). Tantrums. An id out of control. Moral ambiguity. Gratuitous nudity (Zoe). Gratuitous potty mouth (Me: internal monologue). Life in a minimum security prison.
American Hustle: Con jobs and double crosses: check. Twisted morality: check. Falling out of clothes: check. Bad hair: check, please!
Dallas Buyers Club: See above but add cross-dressing, illegal border crossing, and smuggling. Possible redemption? Impossible to predict.
12 Years a Slave: At least it was just twelve. There's no end in sight for me. Daily I face violence and degradation and a lack of personhood. I know the frustration of living with someone who doesn't believe you no matter how many times you insist about your rights to use the bathroom by yourself or that, really, she likes that meal she's had a million times before but she still pushes the plate off her tray and onto the carpet and then stares at me in an imperious rage until I get on my knees and clean up her mess.

Finally. Me time.
Gravity: This is the one I actually saw. I already covered gravity itself in Zoe vs. the Laws of Physics, so I won't go all "hard science" on you again. Instead I'll just highlight the Birth Imagery: going fetal; first steps. Big Themes: like feeling alone and untethered in the vacuum of space, the cold beauty of nature, desperate bids for survival, hallucinations, everything coming at you at once (3D!) trying to destroy you. (At least the debris field in the movie orbits on a reliable frequency. Zoe's chaos does not conform to any schedule, though anecdotal evidence suggests she's purposely choosing the Most Inconvenient Time Ever.) Agoraphobia (do I really want to take her to the store with me?) versus claustrophobia (do I really want to be stuck inside the house with her all day?). Plus amazing sound effects.
Captain Phillips: Tagline for my movie: Zoe's not here to fish. Starring a lovable leading man who's in over his head (Husband). Illegal boardings (my lap, my back, my head). Seizure of property. Violent misunderstandings. Disputes over who's in charge ("That's my boat." "No, that's my boat."). Awkward accents.
Nebraska: You love an obstreperous person prone to bouts of confusion. You owe them. You must humor them. You must redefine winning. They frustrate you yet you feel compelled to love them.
Her: Sometimes I think I'm going crazy. Falling in love is kooky that way.
And, finally:
Philomena: Why it's all worth it. Because Zoe herself is far better than any award, accolade, or gold statuette with insanely rigid posture.
(Got you with that, didn't I? I zigged when you were expecting me to zag.)
Prediction: Zoe wins Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role, Sound Mixing, Best Animated Feature, and Best Short.
Zoe: 33; Universe: 0

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Zoe vs. the Cavity Creeps

As a follow-up to last week's post, here's what happened at Zoe's first dental appointment, aka the time I took Zoe to the dentist so she could cry and scream and generally carry on while she unsterilized tons of dental implements before we exited under a cloud of shame and failure.

It's funny because it's true.

I only took her because the doctor said she was overdo for her first dental visit. As if I didn't know. As a Card-Carrying Guilty Mother, of course I knew Zoe was "supposed to have" her first appointment at one year of age, when she didn't even have all her teeth yet but could gum a finger to the point of agony. But I put it off.
When she turned two, it was really time to take her. But by then I knew she would never sit still for it and I thought, with a hope borne of sleeplessness, maybe she'd be more agreeable when she turned three.
Well, she turned three months ago, and soon after her birthday was when we had the appointment where the doctor had to shout to be heard over Zoe's vociferous objections to being in a doctor's office, and one of the things he shouted was this bit about the dentist.
Based on an avalanche of evidence---up to and including her behavior at the doctor that day, which earned her exactly zero lollipops---I had . . . misgivings.
But I Mommed-up (if that's not a thing, it should be), turning to that time-honored prescription for making people do things they don't want to do: propaganda. I had a two-pronged plan. For prong one, I emphasized the importance of a clean smile through encouraging tooth brushing, reading getting-ready-for-bed books that featured tooth brushing, and plying her with informational sound bites such as, You need healthy teeth to eat cookies.
Prong two was telling her what might happen if she didn't take care of her teeth. Here I offered up personal testimonials involving root canals, gum scaling, and apicoectomies.
The only thing remaining was to promise her a toy if she let the dentist examine her. And thus, on the wings of promises and threats, the day arrived.
Now, no one likes going to the dentist. Pop culture has stigmatized them. With good reason. From Steve Martin in Little Shop of Horrors to the Nazi war criminal/dentist played by Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man they are the most feared practitioners of the medical profession, more so because even people with medical insurance may not have dental coverage, or even if you do, you may go over the maximum allowance every single damn execrable year because of your cavity-filled, crown-worthy, receding-gum disaster of a mouth.

The real pain comes when you see the bill. 

Upon Zoe's arrival, the dentist very wisely (I assume that, like all dentists, she hoards the wisdom teeth she removes from people's mouths and then melts them down and sucks their essence through straws and that's how she gains wisdom and perhaps immortality---not sure about that last; it's a working theory) decided to let Zoe have full run of the place since there were no other patients there. Zoe went into each of the exam rooms much like our fat cat would, exploring every corner looking for treats or exits.
Eventually it was time for her to SIT IN THE CHAIR. Zoe's eyes went from the dentist to the chair to me. She did not move. Much like our fat cat.
So the dentist introduced Zoe to Mr. Thirsty, the device that slurps up the excess saliva produced in the mouths of victims, I mean, patients. This has apparently worked with other children. 
However, Zoe reacted like I thought she would, retreating behind the chair and then hugging the wall like she was auditioning for the part of Inmate #3 in a women's prison movie. I tried to pull her out but got tangled in some wires, and together we almost knocked down the metal tray holding all the dental instruments (Me: Look, so shiny! Zoe: Don't hand me that bullshit, Mommy!). 
The stainless-steel medical paraphernalia flying around made me feel as if we were reenacting the scene from Aliens where Ripley and Newt are trapped in the infirmary by Paul Reiser from Mad About You except I was the facehugger and Zoe was Sigourney Weaver and I'm not sure who the dentist was. A Russian Vasquez? Helen Hunt?

Like Zoe, Newt is unacquainted with hair brushing.

Note to myself: Next Halloween Zoe and I should totally go as Ripley and Newt. Her hairstyle is already approaching "Lone Survivor of the Colony on LV-426." Plus, she's got a doll she drags around by its hair, so it's only a matter of time before the head parts ways with its body and then it will be just like Newt's toy. And to be Ellen Ripley all I need acquire are shoes with major lifts and an unflattering haircut.

I opened the drawer in our coffee table and found this.
I can only assume it's Zoe's homage to Frenzy.

Frenzy dir. by Alfred Hitchcock

Back to our visit, just in time for it to end. The dentist suggested we try again in six months. Sure, I said, lying through my trouble-plagued teeth.
I wanted to be a little mad at Zoe, but when we got home she took my hand and said, "Sit with me, Mommy, and let's talk together and we can be best friends."
I marveled how she didn't even sound manipulative as she smiled at me, a Cheerio stuck in her teeth.
Zoe: 32; Universe: 0

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Zoe vs. the Doctor Visit

Say the word, say the word.
And Wally will put Norville down.
During Zoe's first year, when she had to go to the doctor for all those check-ups and shots, I could always hear the other babies crying. But Zoe never did. Even at the sick visits, of which there were probably an equal number, she bore all the poking and prodding with fortitude. This includes the time they couldn't get a good temperature reading so the nurse had to insert a thermometer up her Wallykazam! (New show on Nick Jr.! Don't know why I'm plugging it! I may have been brainwashed by all the promotional lead-ins to Team Umizoomi!) In response to such a gross invasion, infant Zoe just cooed. She was the perfect patient.
But her equanimity fled as soon as she was old enough to be aware of her surroundings. And dislike them.
Then I was just like the mothers of all those other crying children, saying there was nothing to fear, the doctor just wants to examine you, and then stick you with a sharp needle, maybe more than one. What?

Famous doctors/evil masterminds.

By her three-year visit she knew what to expect. And so did I.
Zoe would not submit to being weigh or measured. When the doctor approached her with the stethoscope she wailed. When he looked in her ears, only possible because I held her head clamped against mine, she wailed louder, causing me temporary hearing loss. The upside was I couldn't hear the doctor very well.
An upside because at her two-year visit, aka the last time Zoe was weighed and measured, he told me that Zoe was in the 95th percentile for height but 50th for weight, adding, unnecessarily, "She's tall and thin . . . like Daddy."
Thanks for that, Doc. So not short and squat like Mommy. Though I guess I should be grateful she won't be following in my lardass midget footsteps. I mean, let's not be subtle or anything. I know I need to lose ten pounds . . . in order to be at the weight I was before I got pregnant, at which former weight I often said I needed to lose ten pounds . . . which would've gotten me within ten pounds of the weight I was when I got married. 
Scarier than sharks with
frickin' laser beams.
Are you keeping track? Well, cut it out. That's just my complicated way of keeping the truth from myself that I need to lose thirty pounds. But my main point is, Zoe would not get on the scale, crying and screaming like a lunatic when she doesn't know from crying regarding stepping on a scale.
The nurse tried to bribe her with stickers and lollipops; I offered juice. No go. The doctor had no luck either and then just shrugged. Over her screams I mentioned that she was often a tad disagreeable and for the most part preferred it when things went her way. Was that normal?
He asked if I did time-outs. I said yes. 
Did I take toys away?
Then he asked if I'd tried "using a stern voice." I didn't know what to say to that. Stern voice? Please. My larynx currently has two modes: the super-serious voice of doom or mad harridan banshee wailing. Occasionally I've reduced Zoe to tears and then I'd feel bad (well, a little) but she always recovered and went right back to some sort of nonsense, like licking an electrical outlet and then waiting for me to jump up as if I was the one who'd been electrocuted. 
As for shots, luckily, for that three-year visit she only had to get one, the flu vaccine. I held her tightly while she struggled, screaming and crying, her face next to the ear that was already in the 95th percentile for deafness.
I did not get her stats; she did not get stickers or a lollipop. Or juice.

Who got vaccinated, baby?

When we left, it was the same time as another little boy who'd been there for a sick visit. Which I knew because he'd been sitting on the other side of the waiting room coughing his lungs up. He'd gotten a lollipop. But he was so sick he'd only taken a few licks before dropping it on the ground outside.
Zoe looked at me like, Are you thinking what I'm thinking? . . .
I want to lick that.
Zoe: 31, Universe: 0

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Zoe vs. the Super Bowl

Zoe went on her first play date on Saturday (shout-out to the lovely and talented Urban Moo Cow) and was so well-behaved I thought I was going to have to hang up this blog's shingle. Now I see she was trying to lull me into a false sense of security, saving herself for 6:30 p.m. the next day, aka, Super Bowl kickoff time.

Buster's acting gigs were not what they used to
be, but it was better than making the cry-face for
Sarah McLachlan. Buster had some dignity left.

There was a build-up. It started more than twelve hours earlier, aka, when she woke up. And it soon became one of those days when she ran me so ragged all I wanted to do was sit but knew if I did it would only lead to more exhaustion. At least if I kept on the move I might be safe. Once I sat, she'd want to sit on my lap, which in practice meant anything but.
Zoe is constitutionally incapable of staying still (once she's fully welcomed the day, that is). Sitting on me becomes standing, becomes jumping, becomes shimmying up my back and then wrapping herself around my middle sideways like the world's most snot-ridden belt.
But I tolerated all this with the hope that she'd be so tired by kickoff she'd go to bed soon after and then the Husband and I could enjoy the Super Bowl in peace. What's the saying? Mommy plans. Toddler laughs. And then poops on you.

The foul was for egregious murder.
Zoe ought to be a fan of football considering that unnecessary roughness is her way of life, committing more lifetime personal fouls than Bill Romanowski. (Thanks to the Husband for the sports info assist! Wait, what? Now the Husband is signalling that "assist" is for a different sport. Whatevs!)
Back to my own little linebacker.
At kickoff, in protest of the fact that her parents had the nerve to use her TV for something other than Peppa Pig while she ate dinner, she squirmed in her booster seat until she'd turned it around so that she had her back to the TV, and was then able to stare at us balefully.
I had made chicken fingers. Usually she insists on eating chicken fingers with her actual fingers, I assume on moral grounds. Not that night. That night she wanted me to cut them up.
I cut them up and even slathered on mayonnaise, a special treat. She wanted more mayo.
I didn't cut it small enough.
I cut it smaller while missing the first embarrassing play of the game, one of many.
In the meantime I made a backup side dish of guacamole in case she rejected the chicken. She loves her some guac and chips.
Several trips back and forth to kitchen later, catering to her every whim (juice, not that cup, a different fork, a spoon) just to keep her happy and get to football, I finally sat to eat my own meal and saw that she hadn't touched her food. And she was still staring at me with a tragic look she could only have picked up from a Sarah McLachlan animal cruelty ad.

The Grammy-winning singer threatens to garrote
Mr. Jingles if you don't adopt him.

"Eat your dinner, sweetie," I said.
"I don't want it," she whined.
"I also made guacamole. You like guacamole." 
"I don't want guacamole," she whined louder. "I want out!"
"I'm sorry but you have to wait until I'm finished eating now."
All that accomplished was that after each bite she asked me if I was done yet.
So instead of the Super Bowl it was the Whine Bowl. Years before (three and a half, but who's counting) I would've been able to delete the "h," but that was not to be. 
When we finally pulled the tray off her booster seat so she could get out, she said her throat hurt, which meant she wanted one of the toddler medicinal lollipops I'd given her when she was sick a while ago. P.S. Her throat's been sore ever since.
I gave her one. Could I now join with the rest of America in seeing the funny commercials broken up by a football game?
After about three licks she said, "My tummy hurts."
Did somebody say, "Bathtime!"? Yep, I did. 
At this point she can take a bath unsupervised, in terms of her own safety, though not in terms of the bathroom floor's, but I figured the floor could fend for itself. After her bath, we paused the game to get her in her pajamas and then I read to her. She stretched out the clock, as usual, much like the Broncos would've done if there'd been any point.
Getting her into bed involved more penalties on both sides. Illegal contact, Zoe. Defensive holding, me. General unsportsmanlike conduct all around. But finally she drifted off, twirling her hair and informing me, "I like football."

Referee signals that viewers should stop looking.

In the end I felt like Peyton Manning, except without the winning record to fall back on. And at least he got to wear padding to absorb the blows.

Terrific. Today wasn't bad enough and now
McLachlan's abused puppies are on the Jumbotron.

Zoe: 30; Universe: 0; Broncos: 8 (RealFeel: 0)