Thursday, June 26, 2014

Zoe vs. This Blog:
A Blogiversary

I can't believe it's been a year since I started this blog. I can't believe Zoe is almost four years old. I can't believe Interpol hasn't caught up to her web of international evil.

Just snap the damn picture already so I
can get these germ-magnets off me
and get back to my blog.

When I started this blog I wasn't sure how long I could keep it up. Could there be that many things Zoe was "against"? Turns out the universe is a mighty big place, filled with a plethora of wonders to behold with awe and then despise.
In this first year, she and I have explored many of her dislikes: from eating healthy food and sleeping reasonable hours to visiting doctors (boo!) and attending parades (should've been yay! but was somehow boo!). 
Sometimes I've wondered if, a la the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, I've altered Zoe's behavior just by observing and writing about it. Had I sometimes sat back, pen and pad in hand, and said to her, "Dazzle me"? Had I watched her in the throes of some emotional breakdown and said, "Splendid foaming at the mouth, dearest, but would you mind having your tantrum a little to the left?"

It took eight scientists to make this 60-inch cyclotron.
It took one mommy to make a blond version half the size.


Since I still feel relatively new at this, I researched to see what other bloggers did for their blogiversaries. Giveaways were pretty popular. There are such things out there called Rafflecopters. If you read last week's post, it won't surprise you to learn that upon a moment's investigation into this widget/concept/thing, I hyperventilated and passed out. When I came to, a certain blond-haired little girl was bouncing on my chest, constricting my airway. When I came to the next time, I'd completely forgotten about the whole thing.
Zoe is a walking---more accurately, running---case study, so, as I said, coming up with topics was not a problem. The biggest hurdle in blogging has been finding the window of time where I could sit at my computer unmolested. Those rare moments when she wasn't using my mouse arm as a monkey bar while screeching like a hyena. (Note to self:  "Zoe vs. the Zoo Trip"?)  
She's nobody's fool. If anything, I'm her fool. She has all sorts of ways to stop me from working.
1. Being cute: Wherein the subject begs me to play with her, big blue eyes threatening tears.
2. Being evil: Wherein the subject has a tantrum or otherwise precipitates a crisis/accident.
3. Miscellaneous manipulation: Wherein the subject perversely refuses to watch TV---something she always wants to do unless I'm on the computer---claiming the only entertainment that will satisfy is a YouTube video of Elsa singing "Let It Go." In Portuguese. 
4. Or, finally, that one-two punch of Guilt-Inducing Drama: Wherein the subject implies that the Mommy has scarred her for life by playacting a scene where she's the Mommy and informs Geo and Umicar that she can't play with them because: "I HAVE TO WORK!!" And also: "Go away! You're bothering me!"
For the record, I have never said those words to my daughter. I may have thought them, in a very loud voice, but I didn't say them.
Zoe is a consummate actress. One time, when I wasn't even working on my blog but was performing some much-needed cleanup, she wanted me to play, but I put her off. She walked away sulking. Later, when I was done cleaning and said I could play with her, she told me she was busy. 
I sat on the floor next to her and sighed a lot and made moon eyes and said,  "I wish I had someone to play with." After letting me stew for a bit, so I'd know how it felt, she relented and allowed me to hand her the toys she wanted to play with.

Virtual calories for my
illusory weight loss.

I don't know what the future holds. Or when her powers might come to their full fruition. Just as I don't know how much of an influence recording her activities is having on her development as an evil genius.
History will judge.
Zoe: 50; Universe/This Blog: 0

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Zoe vs. My Smartphone

Remember those logic problems from high school math? If A is smarter than B, and B is smarter than C, then A is way smarter than C? Now substitute Zoe for A, my phone for B, and me for C.
Zoe was born smarter than me. She finds screens on my phone I didn't know were there. By the time she was two she was able to call people on my contact list. In order to hang up on them. (Sorry, Aunt Therese.) When she turned three, she claimed she wanted to talk on the phone, but if someone answered all she'd do was breathe heavily until I wrested my phone away. (Sorry, Grandma. And thanks for not blocking me.)

Original "Smart" phone

I know what you're thinking. Is this Mommy so dumb she's not aware she can password- protect her phone? No, it's worse. I password-protected it but then forgot what my password was. Impressed yet? 
What's sadder is I use the same passwords for everything. Attention, hackers! So, instead of forgetting, perhaps I "fat-fingered" it. More impressed? Feeling a bit attracted to me?
Adding to my technological aptitude I'm lazy. After that one fail I gave up on the whole password-protecting thing.
Being a Luddite, it's amazing I even own a smartphone, but that's only because it's hard to find the old clamshell phones anymore, the ones that were so satisfying to slap shut when your call ended. I told the kid, I mean, Mobile Device Consultant, at the store, excuse me, Wireless Communications Kiosk, that all I wanted was a phone. A regular phone. One that could maybe text too. That's it. No camera. No WiFi. No apps. Nothing with a cloud; they belong in my sky, mister. And no phone with "galaxy" in the name. In fact, I'd prefer it if my phone believes the world is flat and the sun revolves around the Earth. A non-heliocentric phone. Is that too much to ask?

I'm more comfortable with phones
that espouse the geocentric view.

When the kid, that is, whippersnapper, only blinked at me, I said, Just give me the phone you'd give your grandmother.
That's when I found out they don't sell those anymore. I'm convinced my mother snatched up the last one. I probably inherited my enthusiasm for embracing change from her. (It's impossible to get my mother on her cell phone. She calls you, then she shuts the power off to conserve energy.)
Back to Zoe. As she grew so did her technological prowess, and though this meant less random dialing accidents, her purposeful nefariousness grew. 
I don't mind if she looks through the pictures on my phone. She loves looking at herself, and her vanity buys me time if I need to cook dinner.
I also let her play game. The singular was on purpose. App-less and hapless, that's me. I'm what I believe the kids call "the whole package."

"But why must they call it "wifey"?
"That's WiFi, angel-face."

The one game I have is called Pet Shop Panic. The object of the game is to clear the colored blocks of a building so that little puppies, cats, birds, and monkeys can escape. Escape from what is unclear. I think in the original version there was supposed to be a fire. There are harder boards with pink bunnies and snakes, but I don't play those because God forbid I'd have to think.
Zoe likes this game. And, as with gazing at pictures of herself, it draws her in so I can do other things. 
The problem is her attention span is just short enough that when I think to check on what she's doing it's already too late and she's changed my settings. Either my alerts are all on vibrate or they're blaring "Let It Go." My wallpaper has changed to a blurry shot she snapped of her mismatched shoes. My icons are all rearranged. I'm on military time.
More problematic, she messes with my alarms. She turns off the ones I need and then adds other ones. On Monday, for instance, she turned off the alarm reminding me to pay her day care, and I'm only remembering now because I'm writing this post. 
Reinstating that alarm, I see I have some others that I'm pretty sure I didn't program, like the one for Sundays at 3:34 a.m. Not just a one-time shock in store for Mommy but Zoe checked the box for "repeat." I could almost believe this was an accident except for that extra step.

The symbol for WiFi availability or
a person waving their arms in panic?

Of course, now that I have a smartphone I don't know what I'd do without it, so in that way my phone is much like Zoe. Daunting and intimidating but strangely addictive. The main difference is I have control over my device, whereas Zoe's the one who pushes my buttons.
Zoe: 49; Universe: 0

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Zoe vs. "King of Pain": A Song Parody

When I was putting Zoe to bed the other night, before I fell asleep (because that's what usually happens, while she continues her one-way gabfest), I asked her what she dreams about.

What? In my nightmares, she's the one
squatting on my midsection.

She looked at me, one of her attentive looks that said I'm actually going to take in the next words you say, and waited. I told her what I dreamed about, that sometimes it was based in reality and sometimes not. For instance, the night before I dreamt I was riding the subway (all too real), and the night before that I dreamt our cat Harley was doing long division (fantasy, most likely; I can't prove it since I don't know what she gets up to all day when we're gone).
So what did she dream about? Maybe her friends at school? I suggested. Or her Hello Kitty doll?
Zoe thought for a moment and then said, "A spot."
"A spot? What do you mean? Just, like, a spot?"
"A BLACK spot."
Okay then.
There are many possible interpretations, none of them good, but in any case they reminded me of "King of Pain" by the Police. So today I'm rewriting the lyrics, substituting queen for king.


Queen of Pain
(inspired by Zoe's dark and, literally, one-dimensional dreams)

There's a little black spot on your son today.
          My daughter put it there.
She tortured that same kid yesterday.
          She rules that day care.
She's streaking again; someone call a cop.
         She hates underwear.
There's no reason to nag, but her whine won't stop.
         She's my cross to bear.

I have stood here before, a mom who screams in vain
While my child turns in circles running round my legs
I guess I'm always hoping that she'll end this reign
But it's a mom's destiny to be the queen of pain . . .

King of paisley
There's a Cheerio trapped in our cat's front paw.
        My daughter put it there.
Watching Frozen again, want to end it all.
        I'll do it, I swear.
There's a toddler pulling me every which way
        My pajamas tear.
She never listens to a word I say.
        She don't even care.

[Repeat refrain]

There's a doll on the floor with its hair torn out.
There's a stain on my collar whose source I doubt.
There's a toddler sleeping straight across our bed.
She keeps adding more butter to that crust of bread.

There's a mom playing horsey with a broken back.
        Help, Obamacare.
Watching Dora again, she's Hispanic crack.
       Chiquita has flair.
There's a little black spot on your son today . ..
She tortured that same kid yesterday . . .

[Repeat refrain]

Queen of pain, I'll always be queen of pain . . .

[Fade out]

Thank you, Police. Someday I will turn my attention to your other songs that could also have been about Zoe: "Don't Stand So Close to Me," "Driven to Tears," and "Wrapped Around Your Finger," to name a few. Until then . . .

Zoe: 48; Universe: Zenyatta Mon Nada

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Zoe vs. Doc McStuffins

Doc McStuffins is a Disney Junior show about a little girl who wants to be a doctor. When she puts on her stethoscope, her toys and stuffed animals come to life and she diagnoses and treats their illnesses.
Zoe rarely watches this show. But I'm thinking of forcing some viewings. All in the name of good health. My own.
Good proctologists double glove.
Great proctologists make sure one
pair is an elegant elbow length.
Lately, Zoe's been playing doctor. We lie on the couch while she examines us. Zoe does not have the gentle bedside manner displayed by Dottie "Doc" McStuffins, who seems like a very sweet, ambitious girl who may or may not be hallucinatory as well as milking a God complex. Zoe's bedside manner vacillates from the wicked glee of a Dr. Frank-N-Furter to the stern dictatorial style of a Nurse Ratched, with a soup├žon of Dr. Mengele thrown in to keep you guessing.
For equipment, Zoe uses less-often-used kitchen implements. They are: three different tongs (clear plastic fork-and-spoon salad tongs, stainless-steel cooking tongs, and the plastic tongs that came with the bottle sanitizer), a rubber spatula, a potato masher, and a mallet.
There's nothing quite like the sight of a three-and-a-half-year-old approaching you with a mallet raised in her hand. If she's testing my reflexes, they're good. And getting better all the time.

Did they say how much we can kill him?

Each implement corresponds to a different body part and she applies them accordingly. She proceeds down my body touching "what hurts" with either a tong, the spatula, or the mallet. The spatula is relatively benign, and I have to admit it's rather peaceful when she gently grasps each of my toes and fingers with the plastic tongs or brushes back my hair with the salad fork. 
The mallet and the potato masher are another story. These bring a Russian roulette aspect to the proceedings. Will she tap my knee gently with the mallet or more forcefully? Will she rub the potato masher on my stomach or grind it into my ribs? Will the hapless patient escape Doc Zoe's ministrations in worse shape than she arrived?
We also have to do the reverse, where she's the patient and I'm the doctor. 
Finally. Revenge!
I'm kidding, of course. Put down the cell phones, alarmists. I'm not smacking my toddler in the head with a mallet. I don't live in a cartoon.

Before Ambien

In fact, without the suspense that comes with being her patient, when the tables are turned, the game is simply endless. If I try to do something new, like use a different spatula to tap her chin, she objects; we must follow the correct pattern, using the same implements for each body part. The only "creative" thing she let me do once was place the potato masher under her foot to lift it like she was in traction. This was a big win for me.
Curiously, she does have a stethoscope but she never uses it, probably because it's plush, so what's the point? Literally. Without any pointy ends it's incapable of doing damage; ergo, useless. So we continue with the usual utensils. I'm just glad I've been able to hide the garlic press and the serrated cake knife.
Tip to future dinner guests: Don't eat the mashed potatoes.
Zoe: 47; Universe: 0