Thursday, April 24, 2014

Zoe vs. "Let It Go" from Frozen

Desperate to escape hearing "Let It Go"
for the umpteenth time, Doug jumps,
hoping the cord will mercifully break.
Hey, parents, you know that song "Let It Go" from Disney's Frozen? You may have heard it once or twice. And by "once or twice" I mean a bajillion times. And by "may have heard" I mean your ears are bleeding, and the only way you can rid your mind of Idina Menzel's constantly cresting power ballad is to replace it with whatever comes to mind first, even if it's 2 Live Crew's "Me So Horny."
What? Isn't that song always jumping the turnstile in everyone's brain?
Using popular search engine Ask Jeeves, I plugged in "My toddler is obsessed with 'Let It Go' from Frozen. Send help." And even without phrasing it in the form of a question---a style Ask Jeeves co-opted from Jeopardy! (bad Jeeves!)---my search yielded, well, lots of hits. So I know this is well-covered ground.
But you'll have to excuse me. You see, for many weeks I didn't know she was singing "Let It Go" since she'd only been scream-singing one line, and it was not "Let it go." It was "I don't care," which occurs in the song only once but which Zoe had fastened on for obvious reasons. (She don't care.)
So I figured she'd taken to belting out her apathy, aka, slapping new style on the same old substance. Like New Coke. I hadn't even taken her to see the movie, figuring she'd never sit through it. Her grandmother and aunt though, being both braver than me and more successful at Zoe-wrangling, took her.
And, prepare to be blown away: She behaved! I'd wager my cat's soul that if I had taken her there is no way she would've sat still. But anyway, my point is, that was why I didn't know what she was singing until she finally started adding other lines.

They all are willing to build a snowman with you
and then sit, gently holding your hand, till it melts.

Zoe sings "Let It Go" while lining up her toys. While taking a bath. While lying in bed at night before going to sleep.
Her other grandmother bought the DVD. And so now, 24/7, Idina Menzel's voice is in my head, dramatically rendering Elsa's pivotal moment in the otherwise icy silence of my mind.
You may be thinking, Wait a minute. This is not Zoe vs. "Let It Go." The little Evil Genius clearly loves the song. True. What Zoe really opposes is the meaning behind the song. That is, letting go as general policy. And I'm not referring to potty training here. At least not just that.
I'm talking about Everything. Objects. Ideas. Emotions.
For example, Objects: In order to clean her face each evening I must wait till she's distracted, both hands occupied, before I swoop in from behind with the washcloth, and I usually only get one swipe in before she yanks the cloth away and then won't let go.
Other objects she won't let go of: books (when I say we're done reading), my umbrella (open, pointy end advancing toward the cat), inappropriate attire (she wanted to wear shorts in a blizzard, probably under the mistaken belief the cold wouldn't bother her anyway). I've bellowed out a few "let it gos" myself while trying to wrest these items from her grip.
Next there are Ideas Zoe can't let go of. E.g.: She doesn't need sleep. It's reasonable for her to have dessert before, during, and instead of dinner. Or wear her favorite shirt every day even if it's covered in dirt, snot, and tomato sauce.

Tio Pepe's movie theater was known
for its understated marquee.

Finally, Emotions.
Sometimes it's like there's a storm inside her and she can't handle it. (Paging Elsa!) Tears will overcome her when she has every reason to be happy.
The other day we were getting ready to go to the park when I told her she'd get a surprise when we came back. Two exciting things! One of which she would not get immediately! Result: nervous breakdown.
She threw herself on the floor and cried. Refused to get dressed. Said she didn't want to go to the park. She just wanted to lie down on her bed. I lay down with her and through tears she told me a boy at school had pushed her.
Now, she often tells me, apropos of nothing, that this same boy pushed her. All she ever means is that she's overcome with emotions she doesn't understand and has to pin the blame on someone. And this boy at day care is her poor patsy.
In this case it was the excitement of going to the park combined with anxiety about going to the park, plus having to wait for a surprise she'd get in some uncertain future because, if we're going to the park, that's what we're doing, and later, what's that? Does anyone really know!? But anyway, it's not Now, which is The Time for Getting the Things!
I sympathized, saying that if someone pushes me I feel sad and I feel mad, and I don't like feeling that way. She mulled this over while playing with her hair. Then said she was ready to go to the park.
She gets similar emotional flooding from watching Elsa sing "Let It Go." Apparently the scene elicits such a powerful thrill within her that The Husband and I are not allowed to look at her when she's watching it. She needs to be alone with her experience (just like Elsa believed!). So clearly, no matter how much she loves the song and how much she sings it, she hasn't really absorbed the message.
Will she ever get it? I'm letting that go.
Zoe: 41; Universe: 0

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Zoe vs. the Easter Bunny

The Batman and the Joker. Rocky and Apollo Creed. Dora and Swiper. To this list of well-known adversaries, we can now add Zoe and the Easter Bunny.
They met on a grassy field of battle. Strewn with the pastel remnants of plastic eggs.
Only one could triumph. 
If you defined triumph as throwing a fit then getting sleepy. In that case, Zoe triumphed all over the place.

This year's theme was The Hunger Games.

Technically, this was Zoe's first Easter egg hunt. We'd gone the year before, when Zoe was two and a half, but the line was too long and she wasn't having it so we quickly left.
This year, as soon as the words "Hey, Zoe, want to go on an Easter egg hunt?" were out of my mouth I wanted to take them back. Images from last year of hordes of children waiting as a man in a giant bunny suit patrolled the line were emblazoned on my mind.
So why did I say them? Well, I sometimes say the first thing to pop into my head if I need to distract Zoe from some activity that's killing me, and in this case it was Zoe's request to see Elsa singing "Let It Go," on my phone, again, and next to my phone happened to be a flyer advertising the egg hunt.
Afterwards I was able to use the hunt to keep her in line. E.g.: "If you don't stop whining, we're not going on the Easter egg hunt" or "If you don't eat your lunch, you're not going on the Easter egg hunt."
Amidst nearly constant threats we got her dressed, then foolishly let her choose which of the millions of baskets she'd already amassed in her short life she wanted to take with her.

Christ died for all us peeps.
So that we could do silly things with peeps.

I keep reading articles that say giving your toddler a choice in some minor matter is good because it gives them some control, but all it ever does is fill Zoe with road-not-traveled angst. Zoe's emotional seesawing over which basket she should take before deciding on the purple one with the green and pink stripes was hard to witness. And Sophie thought she had a tough choice. 
We arrived at the park just as the first "wave" of egg hunters were released into the playground/battleground. Then we got a load of the line, which snaked around and around this search area. We knew we'd have to keep Zoe occupied if she and we were to survive the wait.
Thinking quickly, the Husband offered to buy her one of those balloons-on-a-stick. Her choice, oddly made without fuss---this is important---was a Superman one, filling the Husband with pride, though she called him Spider-Man, which mitigated it somewhat.
We continued to the end of the line, where Zoe immediately weaponized the balloon. She claimed to be using the stick as a magic wand, but in practice this meant waving it around so that the pointy end was almost hitting people. When I threatened to take it away, for a little while she occupied herself forcing Superman to dance and then dragging him face-down in the dirt, but soon she returned to magic wand/sword mode.
The signs were there. Mothers are ever alert to them. Whiny, unreasonable, frequent eye-rubbing. It was then I spotted the giant bunny. More accurately, and chillingly, a man in a bunny suit. And he was approaching us. 
Ever see Donnie Darko? Remember Frank? The demonic man-sized bunny who appears to Donnie Darko freaking him out by talking about the end of the world?

The only difference is I'll
eat your ears last.

Anyway, that's what I think of when I see men in bunny suits.
As he came closer I fear-hoped Zoe would stab him with her balloon stick wand sword toy but instead she went very still, the kind of still she'd gone just before she'd lost it at Macy's Santaland. Soon the line would bring us within his creepy sphere. Then what would happen?
Well, that crisis had to get in line, because we had to pass the balloon vendor again. And as we did, Zoe noticed he also had Dora balloons on a stick, which apparently she hadn't noticed earlier, or did but now had buyer's remorse and didn't want the Superman-that-she-thought-was-Spider-Man balloon anymore.
"I want Dora!"
No, we said. We'd already bought her a balloon and we weren't buying another one.
Rinse, repeat, then . . .
Ineffable sadness.
The regret you feel when you eat the whole thing and drink something on a dare combined with hitting "Reply All" too soon. Meryl Streep could've taken lessons on how to cry.

Maybe somehing.

I carried her off into the grass expounding upon that hardest lesson of life: you can't always get what you want. More tears. More "I want Dora!" The Bunny Man was now watching. I looked away, fearing his eerie silent communication.
Meanwhile, the Husband, once again the hero, had exchanged the Superman for a Dora. "Look, Z, Daddy was able to get you Dora."
She stopped crying and ran over to get her Dora balloon from Daddy. Alas, the drama train was unable to come to a complete stop.
She began yawn-crying and insisted I carry her while using her new Dora balloon stick to poke me in the head. 
We were next to the DJ now and he was blasting some familiar song. For the past few years, my radio-listening had been limited to what blared from the open windows of cars as I walked Zoe home from day care. It was one such song, sans Doppler effect. And as I balanced Zoe on my hip, and she laid her soggy snot-ridden tired head on my shoulder, in order to keep her awake, I danced to music I hated.
Self-assessment: My yoga pants were covered in cat hair, the sun was burning the half my chest not covered in toddler, and to keep said toddler awake I was shaking my groove thing to a song by some former Disney star now turned twerk-sation. Was this what had become of me? Where was the girl who used to go to clubs and sway apathetically to The Smiths and The Cure?

Whatevs, Morrissey.

When we finally made it inside the barrier, we had to wake Zoe. She perked up a bit at all the people running around but overall she didn't get it. The Husband again came through, though, collecting her five allotted eggs (five was the limit) and getting us on to the next line where she could choose her prize, an Easter lollipop shaped like either a bunny or an egg.
Either one. 
Her choice.
Inside I screamed.
I need not have feared. I don't know if it was nature or nurture but she looked at the bunny lollipop with revulsion and chose the egg one. I ripped the plastic covering off the lollipop with my teeth and got it in her mouth before anything more could happen. The Bunny Man was loitering by the exit but I hurried past, blocking her view.
See you in my nightmares, freak!
Zoe: 40; Universe: 0
(My 40th post and there are 40 days of Lent. Feel like God's giving me a high-five. It's not like he's busy with anything else.)

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Zoe vs. The 5 Big Questions

Today we're covering the 5 biggest* philosophical questions the thoughtful human being confronts on their journey through life.
And Zoe's answers. 
(Some are direct, but others I've inferred through observation.)
1. Why are we here? (What shall I do today?) 
We're here to turn the lights on and off.
And then on and off again.
To open and close doors.
Receive offerings of juice.
Stay up late.
Get up early.
Yell when there's no earthly reason to yell and yet when asked a direct question, respond in whispers, in another language, a made-up one.
Inform others of our existential crises by throwing ourselves on the floor and screaming for at least five minutes---preferably in public, during a trip to the supermarket, when Mommy has gotten enough of the items on her list to make aborting the trip painful, but not enough so that she can check out yet. (Note: middle-of-the night tantrums are good too. If Mommy's also in pain she will have empathy. At least, she ought to.)

What was that big bang? Said God
to toddler Jesus from the other room.

2. How shall I live? (Is there a right or wrong way?)
Depends on who's looking and how tired they are.
Moral relativism means that Grandma will let you get away with more because Grandmas have no immunity to a grandchild's cuteness. (Source: science.)
And, hey, how about freedom vs. belonging? The tension between wanting to do things that you can't, i.e., the freedom that comes with putting your own shoes on, and not wanting to do things that you can, i.e., taking your shoes off. (Boring! Mommy can do it.) While watching you in the throes of this debate, Mommy will often get a distant look on her face, as if she's struggling with a similar dilemma, perhaps recalling a decision to sacrifice her own freedom made almost a year before you were born. (You're on the hook for at least fifteen more years, Mom. I can now count higher than that, by the way, and yes, that's a threat.)
3. What does it mean to be present?
Paradox: I love philosophy, but
it gives me the moody blues.
Present? For me? Where?
4. Why is there suffering?
Because you didn't share.
Or listen.
That whole story of Genesis is about God giving humanity a big time-out, and we've been sitting in the corners we were sent to for millennia and we'll continue to sit there until we learn to play well with others.
It doesn't look good, people. If we don't stop whining and hitting and generally acting out, we're never going to get dessert.
And it's the best dessert ever, made of hugs, immortality, and chocolate, the good kind that comes in the gold box.
5. Where does all the poop go?
This may be the most important question for it touches on our mortality as well as the destruction and/or disappearance of that which we create. It's why potty training is so damn hard. A simple press of a lever and this piece of art you used your whole body (let that sink in---your whole body) to produce and it's gone in a swirl of noise and madness. It's just not right. You'd rather keep it, close to your body, where no one will know your secret, unless they have a nose. You've asked Mommy and Daddy this philosophical question but they muttered something about it "rolling downhill."

I poop, therefore I am.

Asking Mommy or Daddy any questions, big or small, you find to be all but useless. You're not sure if they're keeping secrets, think you can't understand, or don't actually know themselves. No worries. You'll break them eventually by asking the same question over and over and not letting them sleep. Like the Viet Cong.
Who's in charge? Mommy can answer that one definitively: Zoe.
Zoe: 39; Universe: 0
*Biggest as determined by a scientific poll based on what came to my mind first.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Zoe vs. Karl Lagerfeld

Considering that he dresses like a super villain, Zoe should have much to emulate in Karl Lagerfeld. At the least they should enjoy an uneasy detente similar to what General Zod and Lex Luthor shared in Superman II. But dressing like an exorcist is not Zoe's style. And from what I've heard about Karl, he would not approve of Zoe's fashion choices. As the head designer for Chanel and Fendi as well as his own line, there seems to be a lot of black, and white, and also black-and-white.
The power of Karl compels you!
Zoe likes COLOR. She also likes to mix patterns. The other day it was pink polka-dot pants with a zebra print skirt over it and a striped top. Another day it was a rainbow of horizontal stripes over a muted rainbow of wider stripes. The overall effect can cause seizures if you look directly at her. It's best to just take parts of her in at once. Whatever you do, don't look on a full stomach. The finishing touch is usually an accent like a prominent food stain.
Zoe's signature style is Silly Socks, aka unmatching pairs---her favorite mix is an orange stripe and a light blue one. Also Silly Shoes, like one black sneaker and one purple one that lights up (seizure alert number two!).
When she's wearing Silly Shoes I always make a note of it when dropping her off at daycare. I don't want them to think I'm that far gone. I am, of course, but they don't need to know that. 

. .  . while Lex, like Zoe, prefers
 colors and bold patterns.
Zod, like Karl, prefers black leather . . .

Overall, Zoe dresses like an evil clown.
Which brings us back to good old Karl. However, as we can see, Zoe's fun-loving, devil-may-care, vertigo-inducing style is miles and miles from Lagerfeld's look, which can best be described as Nosferatu chic.

I'm gonna shake my little tush on the catwalk.

I suspect Karl Lagerfeld's distaste for Zoe would extend past her style. He's been quoted as saying that when he was a child he didn't play with other children and that he hated them. He also apparently asked for a valet for his fourth birthday. (Zoe will be four in August. If she knows what a valet is, I'd be very surprised. If she asks, I'll point her to Daddy.)
Karl's said some other hilariously objectionable things* over the years. There's even a Tumblr dedicated to some of them. I'll list a few of these incredible nuggets here.
First, I have to say I don't mind his comments as much as I mind other celebrities, like, say, I don't know, Gwyneth Paltrow. I guess because he's not pretending to be anything he's not, or maybe it's that he's not pretending not to be pretending. 
Here's his take on money:
"If you throw money out the window, throw it out with joy. Don't say 'one shouldn't do that'---that is bourgeois."
I suppose just by breeding and writing a blog about my child I've already punched my bourgeois card several times.
"No one wants to see curvy women. You've got fat mothers with their bags of chips sitting in front of the television and saying thin models are ugly."
Get out of my living room, Karl! Is that monocle-looking thing around your neck a palantir?

The one pecan danish ring, and that fat mommy is eating it!

Sidebar. Why is it called a catwalk anyway? My own cat is too fat for the runway and doesn't "walk" as much as waddle. And yet if there's anyone who can match Karl attitude for attitude it's Harley. Or his own cat, Choupette, who he's referred to as a kept woman. By the by, she also has a Twitter account.
Karl's been criticized for his stance on fur. It's hard to get a read on Harley on this issue. She gives the impression of being above ethics.

I'd eat Kitty Lagerfeld for breakfast
and then eat breakfast.

"I'm very impeccable and clean before I go to bed. It's just like right before I'm going out. ... I think everyone should go to bed like they have a date at the door."
First, I don't think he "goes to bed" as much as "goes to coffin." Second, in my experience sleep wreaks havoc with one's coiffure. Going dormant clearly does not.
"Sweatpants are a sign of defeat. You lost control of your life, so you bought some sweatpants."
This is one where I agree, as I wipe pecan danish ring crumbs off my sweatpants, I mean, yoga pants---world of difference.

Cast photo from the ill-fated Neutral Zone Story,
a musical mash-up of West Side Story and Star Trek.

"The only love that I really believe in is that of a mother for her children."
Aw, the old weird softie. I wonder if he said that pre- or post-Choupette. Either way, nice finish.
Zoe: 38; Universe/Fashion Police: 0
*There are different versions of these quotes online. I used the ones that provided maximum hilarity.