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A day in the life…Or, life in an unfair state

This post, which I’m re-posting while I travel this week, reminds me that even though my kids still resemble the Bicker McBickersons, things have gotten better since the time I wrote this post. And of course now that I’ve said that, I’m sure I’ll go into the next room and see that they’ve taken knives to one another.  I’ve just violated the first rule of parenting: never talk about what is going well!

It’s another 3H Sunday in Manhattan: hazy, hot, humid. The kind of hot where the old gum melts on the sidewalks and re-sticks to your shoes. Two boys, one mom.  Let’s watch the whole scintillating day unfold, shall we?

7:03 I am asleep, happily, albeit unconsciously, enjoying the entire bed: Husband is on a business trip in Amsterdam and London.

7:04
You be the knight and I’ll be the marauder. Just go in mommy’s room and get her scarf for a cape.
You go get it.
No, you.
Why do I have to get everything?
Fine. Then I won’t play with you at all.

I am awake.

8:04 Whole Foods for muffins and Odwalla Mango Tango. (We go mostly because there is no half-and-half for my coffee and I refuse to drink lowfat 1% milk in my coffee. I have very few vices left; half-and-half is one of them. Which is a pretty goddam lame vice, if you ask me. I’m thinking about taking up meth.)

8:06
I want that muffin. He took the muffin I wanted!
Me (attempting reasonable tones): All those muffins look pretty much the same to me, actually. What about this one?
Fine. But it’s not fair.
When are we going to Petco for more fish?
Me: Later today. It’s not open yet.

8:18
He’s not even finishing that muffin. And it’s the one I wanted. Going to waste.
Me (attempting reasonable tones): Well, he’s done with it, so why don’t you eat the rest? Then you get more muffin than everyone.
Fine. But it’s not fair.
When are we going to Petco for more fish?

8:45 Liam hunkers down in front of the laptop that’s been repurposed for his use; Caleb dumps out every single lego bin.
Me (attempting reasonable tones): Why’d you dump them out?
Well, some guys went exploring into these bins and have never been seen again till now. So I have to find them and put them back together with their ship.
Me: Okay. But eventually all those pieces have to go back in the bins.
Fine. But you have to help me. Or else it’s not fair.  And when are we going to Petco for more fish?

I check my email to see if someone has forgotten to tell me about the wonderful beach house I’ve just inherited. No one has. I don’t seem to have inherited a nanny, either.

9:15 I pull out the laundry still in the dryer from yesterday, put in another load.

9:18
OW! He kicked me. For no reason!
You said I was stupid!
I did not!
Did!
Me (attempting reasonable tones): Maybe you two should play in separate rooms so you don’t bother each other.
No! I love Liam! I want to sit right here!  (Emphatic patting of ground next to his brother)
When are we going to Petco for more fish?
Me (tone in the vicinity of reasonable): At some point today, we will go to Petco, unless you ask me again. In that case, we will not go at all. Everybody clear on that?

Email again: still no beach house.  Not even a cabin on a creek. And no nanny.

9:45
I hate this computer! It’s so slow!
Me (reasonable tones wobbling): What’s the matter?
The game I want isn’t loading. It’s taking forever.
Me: Sounds like it’s the site, not your computer. That game always has problems, you know that.
It’s the computer!  It’s not fair!
Me: Would it be better not to have your own computer? You could share mine, when I’m not using it.
Silence.

10:00 There is quiet talk and giggling from the boys’ room. I check to make sure that the laughter isn’t due to one of them about to make a blood sacrifice of the other and in fact they are playing some diabolical card game together. I put away the laundry; contemplate the Times Week in Review. The news is all bad; the world seems intent on taking itself to hell in a handbag.  I rummage in the cupboards. There is no chocolate. Why didn’t I buy chocolate at Whole Foods?

10:45
I’m hungry. I want a doughnut.
Me: (reasonable tones restored by bickering break):  Maybe after lunch. Not now. If you want a snack you can have a yogurt.
With honey?
Me: Yes, with honey.
Fine. But I really wanted a doughnut.

11:15
I’m hungry too. What’s for lunch? Can I have something with bacon?
Me: No, we’re out of bacon.
WHY? Then I want soup.
Me: I’m afraid we’re out of soup, too. I have to go to the store tomorrow.
Fine. But it’s not fair. We never have anything that I like.

I contemplate reminding him about the recent trip to Whole Foods but decide that I’m being asked a rhetorical question and don’t answer. Hot dogs are consumed, followed by jello. I realize, again, that “white trash” is an accurate description of my children’s diet. I wonder if it’s time for a drink, remember that I don’t usually drink, think that maybe it’s time to re-think that idea.

11:30
Me (aiming for cheerful): So let’s go to the pirate ship sprinkler park with your new MaxLiquidators.
Bor-ring. That’s for little kids.
Me (determinedly cheerful): Not really…and I think it would be good to have some running around time.
I hate that sprinkler park. I want to go to the one by Chelsea Pier.
Well I hate that one. Plus I don’t want to ride the bus.
Fine. Then I’m not going.
Can we go to Petco after? Wait, no, I didn’t mean that, I just forgot, never mind!

Me (wondering if it would violate any laws if I just left them in the apartment for the rest of the afternoon): Let’s take our scooters and go the pirate ship playground. It’s closer and maybe we’ll see the ice cream truck on the way. (Note: yes, this is bribery. Generally speaking, parenting books don’t approve of bribes. Generally speaking? Parenting books suck).

12:28
You said we’d get ice cream.
Me: If we saw the ice cream truck
Well where is it?
Me: I’m not in charge of the truck, sweetie. Maybe it’s not in this neighborhood today.
Fine. But it’s not fair.

We manage two hours at the playground. The boys are, in fact, the oldest kids there this afternoon, and with their (not very aggressive) water guns, I realize that they look VERY big and boy-ish compared to the toddlers waddling through the sprinklers. Caleb accidentally knocks into a little boy who has staggered in front of him. Caleb looks stricken, apologizes (unprompted, I might add), the mother rushes to her child (who is giggling), glares at Caleb and at me, then picks up her darling precious progeny to make sure Caleb hasn’t broken his ribs and maybe given him a black eye into the bargain. I decide I hate this woman.

2:35 The sky has turned steel-gray and the wind has picked up. The much promised rain is coming. We pack up to leave the sprinkler park that they didn’t want to come to.
Why do we have to leave?
Yeah. It just got fun now that the little kids have gone. (You’ll note that they have decided to collaborate. Oh goody.)
Can I bring home these water ballons? (Each water balloon looks like a watermelon.)
Why not? It’s not fair.
Can we get ice cream?

2:41
I’m too tired. I can’t ride my scooter. Can you carry me?
Hurry up Caleb! Iit’s going to rain and I don’t want to get wet! (Liam’s hair is still dripping from the sprinkler park)
Caaaaarrry me.

3:00 Home. The rain has just started.
Can we go to Petco and get more fish?
Me (the very paragon of reason): It’s just started to pour. Let’s wait until it stops raining. And please don’t ask again.
It’s not raining that hard. (Raindrops the size of peas hurl against the windows)
I hate waiting. Waiting stinks.

3:05
I want to snuggle with Liam.
I’m reading.
Please?
Okay.

I smile and think that maybe I don’t have to post their pictures on craigslist to see if anyone would like to rent them for a long weekend.

3:17
GIVE ME BACK MY IPOD YOU LITTLE STINKER

3:24
Me (my tone now on the remote outskirts of “reasonable”): Separate. Yourselves. Now.

My facebook friends, god love them, tell me that it’s absolutely okay to make myself a gin-and-tonic.  I do so. It helps.

3:34
(Small pitiful voice):  Can I come out now?

I contemplate “not until next week,” and remember that Caleb is in my bedroom, so this would be counter-productive.  He is allowed out to roam, possibly to kill again.

Instead, Lego figures are assembled and a rousing battle begins; many things are blown up and elaborate weapons and guard towers are erected. Silence in the other room as Liam contemplates re-building his Yu-gee-oh decks for the standing card game he has during lunch at camp.

4:45 Early supper, featuring a variety of frozen items from Trader Joe’s, plus a tiny bowl of corn (Liam); and, for Caleb, six grapes, two baby carrots, and corn chips dipped in ketchup (dee-lish, eh?)

5:15
Me (cheerful, the G&T having done its job): Who wants to go to Petco?
Them: Not now! We’re playing Yu-gee-oh. Maybe in a little while. Or maybe tomorrow?

5:17
I begin writing this post, eat the herbed summer succotash I made for myself (upside of Husband being away: eating whatever I want for dinner, including succotash on crackers).

6:00
Can we go to Petco now?
And maybe get ice cream?

Me (reason restored; bedtime is only a few short hours away): That’s a great idea.

And when we walk through Union Square, a sweet post-storm breeze is blowing, there is a magician doing card tricks, and a guy playing a sequined digideroo (and assorted home-made percussive things).  We hold hands and tell jokes, and all is right with the world.

IMG_1739

Continue Reading · on August 21, 2013 in Children, growing up, Kids, NYC, Parenting

Do YOU Have The Date on Your Calendar?

Union Square has been experiencing some of the same suburbanization that’s been happening in other Manhattan neighborhoods: there’s a DSW, Filene’s Basement, Staples, Nordstrom Rack, Best Buy, and even a TGI Fridays. You could practically be in a mall in Connecticut, if it weren’t for the occasional heroin addict nodding off on a park bench.

There’s a new corporate presence coming to Union Square, taking over the space vacated by Tower Records, and in an effort to create “buzz” about the opening, the owners have put up a countdown clock on the construction site:

Wow, you say. What’s opening in just 28 days, 9 hours, 21 minutes, and a few seconds? I can’t wait, you say. Is it a Barney’s? A fabulous department store like Marks & Spencer, or an outpost of Bon Marche?

Well, no. It’s a CitiBank.

I know. You’re excited too. Shall I meet you there on opening day?

Continue Reading · on November 6, 2010 in street notes

Greenmarket grazing (with a garnish of politics)

Sometimes I think I live in Manhattan’s Golden Food Triangle: over there a block is Trader Joe’s (and can I get an amen for the new store that’s opened in Chelsea, thus making line-waiting at Union Square TJ’s no longer quite an Olympic sport); a block in the other direction is Whole Foods (varsity-level line-waiting, not quite expert level); and then over thataway a block is the Union Square Greenmarket, four days a week.  So if you need cheap wine, exotic spices, buffalo meat, or ostrich eggs…the triangle can hook you up.

Susan at Three-Corner Farm (great lamb sausage, cheese, and wool) explained to Liam (very gently) where sausage came from; the “bee man” as we call him, patiently explains all the different flavors of honey (and offers tastes of each); the pretzel guys give free pretzels with every purchase (best bet? a bag of broken pretzels, which fit more easily into lunch boxes). It’s endless, the Greenmarket, and if I ever were to move out of the city, it’s one of the things I would miss most.

Today at the greenmarket, I dropped off the compost (if you haven’t seen it already, go see “The Kids Are All Right,” if only for Annette Bening’s inspired rant against organic food, loca-voring, composting, and acai fruit)

IMG_1806

then the textile recycling (those socks with a hole? the ripped sheets? the shorts that are too raggedy for Goodwill? Textile recycling turns the fabric into material for rugs, insulation, and god knows what else). 

Then? Did I want wool for some pre-season knitting? IMG_1793

Zucchini and summer squash? IMG_1795

Sunflowers?IMG_1799

 Eggs?IMG_1797

Peaches and a honeybee?  IMG_1802

Or did I want just to listen to someone playing the harp? IMG_1704

Or maybe just more peaches? IMG_1803

Or maybe take a minute and write whoever you like to write to in support of passing H.R. 5504, which advocates better nutrition (and better funding) for school lunch programs.  Because every kid should get a chance to eat an actual peach, instead of peach “slices” in high-fructose corn syrup from a 10-quart can.  (Yes, of course, as Rep. Cynthia Davis points out, “hunger is a great motivator,” but should that really apply to kindergartners? And if you’re thinking, oh, school lunch isn’t that bad, click here, for a day-by-day account of school lunch in one midwestern public school.)

So ignore Annette and start composting, send a letter to your representative, contemplate harp lessons, and yes, dare to eat a peach.

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Continue Reading · on July 31, 2010 in food, NYC, urban nature

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