Thursday, September 24, 2015

Zoe vs. Focus (Or, Do as I Say, Not as I Do)

Zoe had her first night of homework this week. She had to color in a few apples and then write her name ten times. It took forever. Mostly because she had to do a myriad of other things first, including:

  • Get her favorite pencil. (Oddly for a favorite, it had never been used.) 
  • Sharpen fresh, unused, beloved pencil.
  • Tell me a story about how she used to write her name when she was two years old.
  • Draw her hand a few million times.

The whole time I kept telling her to focus. Is this what the next ten to twelve years of homework are going to be like?
According to the Mothers of Facebook, yes, but more.

Zoe had already been writing her name at day care, so what was the problem? Well, the problem was lowercase. Not lowercase as in, the opposite of an all-caps PROBLEM. But lowercase as in she didn't like to write in it.
The assignment was to spell her name, first letter capped, rest of letters lowercase. In other words: Zoe, not ZOE.
Well, she understood, but didn't want to write it that way, especially not the lowercase e, which she found to be uncooperative. That was the reason she needed to practice it, I told her. Plus, it was what the teacher wanted.
Fine, she said, clearly under duress.
So, she sat down and did it. Then I looked at it. And here's what she'd written:
(Glad we didn't spell her name with an umlaut or who knows what she would've done with that.)
So. Focus. I had a big talk with her about it. 
Of course, as we all know, the First Commandment of Good Parenting is Do as I Say, Not as I Do. I think Dr. Spock said that. 
Now, if Zoe had been paying attention the past week, she would've witnessed a lot of failures in focus on the part of her own mother. Which means I also heeded the Second Commandment of Good Parenting: Lead by Example. Because I showed her not to follow mine as well as what happens when you don't focus. Here's the rundown: 
1. I put a K-cup in the Keurig, pressed the brew button, and then turned away. Something I do many mornings but this time with a twist. I didn't place a mug under it. 
2. As I hurriedly unloaded the dishwasher, I dropped a bowl. It bounced on the open door of the dishwasher. I reached to catch it and in doing so punched it forward to the tile floor, where it shattered.
3. First day of soccer this past weekend, we were late. Rushed out the door without checking where the field was. Couldn't find it. Eventually we did but we missed most of the practice. 
4. Lost count of how many times I hit my head chasing Zoe under a slide at the park  because I was wearing a cap and kept forgetting to look up. (In my defense, I'm short and almost never have to duck under anything in daily life.)
5. Exercising the other day I placed my elbows on the exercise ball to hold plank. Promptly slid right off. Gracelessly. And ouch.
6. Thought I'd lost an earring. Wore one hoop all day. When I came home, saw I'd left the other earring on my dresser. Apparently I'd only put one on.
7. Yesterday morning at work---so I can't use Zoe as an excuse for my being distracted---I turned abruptly, sweeping my hand across my desk and knocking my coffee mug over. Coffee everywhere. Pants, chair, computer keyboard, bag.

Is there anything sadder than spilled coffee?
I mean, besides a mug that says "Joy"?

If Zoe had asked me on any of these occasions, was I focused, what would I have said? Probably: Huh? Did you say something?
If you're able to focus, you probably noticed how two of these incidents involved coffee. So maybe the problem is I'm having too much and becoming jittery and careless. Or, more likely, since I keep spilling it, I'm not drinking nearly enough. And that's because of another thing I'm not getting nearly enough of: sleep.
Perhaps sleep is the real answer because if I could get more of it, I'd surely be able to focus.
I sent a memo up the chain of command, but Command wrote back: "I NOT TIRED."

Zoe: 110; Universe: 0
For more of Zoe's hijinks, follow me on Facebook and on Twitter at @zoevsuniverse
I need a win here, people. 

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Thursday, September 17, 2015

Zoe vs. the Locked Room Mystery (Or, MacGyver As a Verb)

Two weeks ago I posted about figurative doors with Zoe's best worst knock knock jokes. But today, I'm talking about literal doors, specifically, the doors to my bedroom and bathroom. Which lock from the inside. And which Zoe locked. Then closed. From the outside.
I always feared she'd do this when she was small, but from the inside. It's a push-button lock and, like other parents of toddlers, I was afraid one day she'd be inside without me, shut the door and then lock it, leaving me on the outside, with no choice but to call the fire department. When Zoe got old enough we made sure she knew how to lock and unlock the door so that didn't happen. 
However, I did not envision the scenario I found myself in a weekend ago, when, unsupervised, Zoe pressed the locks on the aforementioned doors and then closed them, no one on the inside.

Why would she do such a thing? It's a mystery. If you read a lot of mysteries, you'll be familiar with the trope, wherein a crime, usually a murder, occurs in a room in which all the doors are locked. And the detective needs to figure out how it happened.
I used to love mysteries. But that was before I had a kid, those halcyon days when I believed all mysteries had answers.
After locking the doors, Zoe ran into the kitchen to tell me all about it.
She was very excited. She did not expect my reaction.
I froze, knife poised over the hardboiled egg I'd just made at her request, aware she'd probably refuse it once it was made---one of her favorite games---and I said, "What?!" but louder and more panicked.
Now, she had done this one other time, over a year ago, but that time The Husband was home, and of the two of us, he has all the MacGyver genes. None of my genes are resourceful or dexterous. They're all too busy reading fiction and getting tiny cuts on their fingers from egg shells.
The Husband was out so I called him to ask how he'd MacGyvered it the last time. He said he'd unbent a paper clip and poked it through the hole in the door to pop the lock. See? Very MacGyver.
So I unbent a paper clip and then pushed it through the hole in the door. Jiggled it. Stabbed. Shook it and shimmied it. Even visualized myself with a feathery mullet. All to no avail on either door.
After ten minutes, Zoe, bored with jumping on the couch or some other nefarious activity, came to ask me what I was doing. I gave her a withering look. She absorbed about .01 percent of my ire before shrugging and walking away.
It was time for MacGyver's more sedentary cousin: MacGoogle.
My online search yielded a slew of YouTube videos. All starring an unbent paper clip. 
I placed my head in my hands, glad I didn't have to pee, and thought about just leaving the apartment. Forever. Or at least till The Husband came home.
But what if he couldn't open it either? I envisioned a future where we slept on the floor and used buckets to pee and poop in.
When I looked up, Zoe was at my elbow, and she said exactly what you're expecting: "Mommy, I have to go bathroom."
I stared at her.
"The door is locked, Zoe. Remember how you locked it? From the inside? And then closed the door?"
Unfazed, she asked, "When are you going to open it?"
I stared at her harder. I repress a lot of my feelings, folks. Just so you know. Still, there was something to be said for her confidence in me.
"Mommy's working on it," I said, standing up.

Heard you need to get your bathroom door open.

I got a new paper clip, unbent it, and went back to work on the doors, because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result with a new paper clip for at least half an hour. And it had only been twenty-five minutes.
As I fiddled and twisted, I remembered that the shirt I needed for work the next day was hanging on the back of the bathroom door. I'd left it in the laundry basket too long after drying, so it was all wrinkled, and I was hoping the steam from the shower would unwrinkle it. (I haven't seen my iron in years.)
Thinking of that shirt ended up being our salvation. A hangar! Maybe that would work!
I got one from the closet, straightened the top, poked it through the hole, and---Pop!---we were in. 
So I MacGyvered it eventually. And Zoe only peed on the couch a little bit. But she's done that even when the bathroom door was open.

Zoe: 109; Universe: 0

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

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Thursday, September 10, 2015

Zoe vs. the First Day of Kindergarten (Or, How I Burned a Hole in My Stomach with Coffee)

September 9, 2015. Zoe's First Day of Kindergarten---A Timeline, with Coffee
6:40 a.m. -- Zoe wakes us up, half an hour before we need to be since she doesn't have to report to her new school until 9 a.m. I pour her some apple juice then make coffee. She gets dressed immediately, no prodding necessary, then we wait till 8:40 to leave, at which point she says she doesn't want to go. We insist.
Coffee tally: Two (large) cups of coffee.

9:30 a.m. -- While Zoe "attends school" for one hour, the PTA treats the parents to a Big Box o' Joe and some donuts out in the school's garden. It is hot but I am meeting new people, which means I must have a prop, so I pour myself a cup.
Coffee tally: third cup.
10:30 a.m. -- For a special treat on her first, grueling, day of kindergarten we take Zoe to a local cafe for a blueberry muffin, which she managed to enjoy even though the blueberries were, in her words, "too sweet."
Coffee tally: fourth cup, iced this time.
2:30 p.m. -- Zoe and I head to the aftercare so she can meet the staff as well as the kids she'll be spending her afternoons with. One block from our apartment, her mother laden with bags in fulfillment of the supply list, Zoe has to go to the bathroom. I ask her if she can make it to the aftercare, which is only a few blocks away. She says yes. At the next corner, she revises her previous statement. And it's poop. So we take a detour to Starbucks, which is closest and has a relatively clean bathroom.
Coffee tally: still on four, but just as Zoe felt a certain bodily pressure a few minutes before, I am feeling pressure because, as my own mother taught me, it's rude to use the restroom in a place of business without buying something. I decide against a chai, which is what I usually buy in Starbucks, because I'd already been planning to go to my usual cafe after dropping Zoe at the after school---which happens to be around the corner from the cafe---to have a chai and do some work while Zoe got used to the new place so . . .
2:45 p.m. -- We finally exit the bathroom. A line of people are waiting. I apologize. There is now no way I can leave without buying something. Why this something has to be coffee, I don't know, but it's like I can't help myself at this point, or like I'm curious what will happen to me.
Coffee tally: fifth cup, tall blonde roast with half and half.
3:10 p.m. -- We arrive at the aftercare. Zoe does not want me to leave. It is hot and humid and I've been sweating so much under the weight of the school supplies, the hot coffee (again, why?), and the hostile stares of Starbucks' patrons with full bladders that when she grabs on to one of my shorts-clad legs, she slides down to the floor and it's kind of like Flashdance. So I stay for a while, watching her break one freshly sharpened pencil (first day!) after another until we both start laughing. Finally I am dismissed and, not daring to wait one moment longer lest she change her mind, I dash out the door, directly into a thunderstorm. It's okay, my usual cafe is only around the corner, after all. I hurry there and arrive soaked to find it is closed.
Moment outside time -- It is never closed.
3:50 p.m. -- No chai. Or coffee.
3:51 p.m. -- Duck into local bookstore to bide time till storm stops. It is raining hard like it will be a short storm but it is not a short storm. Acid churns in my stomach. I start to feel a similar non-patron-using-bathroom guilt I'd felt in Starbucks and decide to buy something. Luckily they sell my other vice. I see a book I'd been meaning to buy that will soon be a movie. Only problem is the cover of the book is the movie tie-in version and it's got the actor's giant face on it. I'm a book snob. I can't buy a book with a movie tie-in cover, which I suppose is judging-a-book-by-its-cover adjacent. The owner says she has the paperback version with the alternate, original cover. So I buy it.
Coffee tally: still on five, plus a book.
4:25 p.m. -- The rain has slowed so I venture out. Where to next? A few doors down is a bar and next to it an ice cream shop. I could do the bar as wine is motherhood's other beverage of choice, but the idea of drinking on a stomach empty of everything but acid seems like a bad idea. And I don't want to be drunk when I pick up Zoe in less than an hour. Once again, I could choose something else besides alcohol or coffee but I have no imagination. I choose the ice cream shop. I seem to remember they have chai.
4:29 p.m. -- They do not have chai. What they have is ice cream, huge desserts, and coffee. The girl behind the counter suggests the chocolate chip coffee. So I say, sure. Maybe it will be like dessert without buying one of the actual desserts. She makes me the coffee drink and then rings me up saying, "One java chip coffee." It's then I realize she'd said "java chip" before and not "chocolate chip" so I was unwittingly doubling down.
Coffee tally: ridiculous.
5:00 p.m. -- I sloshed my way back to pick up Zoe, who, of course, didn't want to leave, but now I really needed a bathroom. So we got home, where I peed forever and it was mostly French Roast.

Coffee, in the guise of innocence.

(Continuing the school theme, also this week I made my debut on BLUNTmoms with my 10-step guide to surviving Catholic school. Zoe, naturally, is going to public school.)

Zoe: 108; Universe: caffeinated

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

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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Zoe vs. Some Truly Terrible Knock Knock Jokes

"You're supposed to laugh, Mommy," Zoe says.
"But what if I don't think it's funny?" I say.
"You have to laugh."
Can't argue with that. Especially since, as the Husband tells me, she inherited her waiting-for-a-laugh look from me. (Are you laughing at this? Then why can't I hear you?)
This week she's been obsessed with knock knock jokes---one of the lowest forms of comedy---and apparently she believes the funny resides in the format itself, not the words you actually choose.

Here are three examples:

1. The Ubiquitous Booty Butt Joke
Zoe: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Zoe: Booty
Me: Booty who?
Zoe: Butt (collapses in laughter)

2. The Situational Awareness Joke, aka What's in This Room? 
Zoe: Knock knock
Me: Who's there?
Zoe (looking around bathroom): Soap
Me: Soap who?
Zoe: (looking around again): Cup (collapses in laughter)

3. The Random
Zoe: Knock knock
Me: Who's there?
Zoe: Lion
Me: Lion who?
Zoe: Lion (collapses in laughter)
Me: . . .
Zoe: Laugh!
Me (nervously): Ha ha.

Now it's my turn to order you to, I mean, make you laugh. Here are some humorous essays of mine from around the web. Enjoy! (Or else.)

From In the Powder Room: 


From Hahas for Hoohahs:

I read them to Zoe. She didn't even crack a smile.

Zoe: 107; Universe: a very humorless 0

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

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