Category Archives: clementine

Leapfrog and the Mommy Beast

I was more or less against the Leapfrog stuff. Let kids be kids. They will learn at their own pace. And those characters are kind of annoying. We had some of the infant toys, the ones that call your child back to they toy if she neglects it for 3 minutes (“Come play with me!”). They weren’t horrible. Better sound quality and less cloying music would be greatly appreciated, but they were fine and Clemmie kinda liked them. But I put those early ones away after they started to drive me insane, and as the kids get older the Leapfrog stuff becomes increasingly Educational, in a hit-you-over-the-head-with-an-alphabet sort of way. We send Clem to a Montessori and that is Not The Way It Is Done. We do not compare our children to others. She built a Roman arch out of blocks at school today. So what if she doesn’t know which one is the B?

So imagine that you felt this way, and then you were sitting in the living room watching your 3 year old daughter scribble her ten thousandth wavy line on her ten thousandth piece of paper and her best friend, almost exactly the same age as her, walks over to you and hands you a piece of paper with a textbook drawing of a kittycat face and the letters C – A -T neatly printed beneath it. I’m serious about the neatly printed part. The lines were straight, the proportions perfect; it was nicer than I could do right this minute. I wonder if you would have done what I did, which was to bark at her suspiciously “Where did you GET this?”

I’m looking around for the sorry-ass 12 year old who has to lurk around ghostwriting her doodles, when her mother comes to pick her up. I decide to confront her about The Problem. “Have you SEEN this? I think Isa may have DRAWN it.” I sound like I am talking about a disease. I am glancing uncomfortably at Wavy Lines #549, which only moments ago I thought was pure abstract genius. I am wondering how quickly I can hire a full-time tutor.

Katya waves her hand and says “Oh yeah, she does that now. It’s the Leapfrog stuff.” Oh, of course. Right. The Leapfrog stuff. “Isa is very visual. Clem is extremely verbal. Clemmie talks so much better than Isa.” Bless her heart, my friend Katya. Not that I cared in that way. Uh huh.

Well, Clemmie is very verbal; she talks a mile a minute and occasionally uses pretty big words for a three year old. My lizard brain is calming down a bit. It’s wonderful that Clemmie’s best friend is shockingly gifted (Perhaps it will rub off?) I return to my normal, non-judgmental, empowering, organic veggie-cooking mommy self. It is all okay. Kids are kids. Clem is in fact a genius in her own right. I should know; she argues with me like a 20 year old.

At Christmas I ask Clem what she would like Santa to bring her. She says she wants a ducky and a rainbow. I kid you not. How’s that for cute? (And innocent.) Santa brings her, well, tons of shit, but both things she asked for, though the rainbow was a bit down to the wire and came in the form of some modeling clay taken out of its package and bent into an arc (it is now full of dog hair and rather unattractive, sadly). Clem was delighted. Santa also brought her, unsolicited, two Leapfrog videos (The Letter Factory and The Word Factory) and one Leapfrog toy (The Word Whammer fridge magnet thing). She really likes them. Her mommy now thinks that a “variety of different kinds of toys are healthy.” She wonders if she herself is entirely healthy.

Jeez, you try to do good…

Sitting at the kid table with Clemmie, Isa and Andre last night, trying to get them to eat their organic vegetarian dinners. I read (most of) The Omnivore’s Dilemma recently and promptly signed up for the Full Belly Farms weekly vegetable box, which I’m supposed to pick up from the front porch of a cute shingled craftsman on Vernon Street near Clem’s school on Wednesdays. It seemed so perfect: it’s not an extra trip for me so no one would be wasting gas on that last part of the delivery. And the stuff’s all grown on the farm, nothing trucked in from Mexico or Chile or wherever, all organic in the hippy, non-corporate sense of the word. But the first two weeks I completely forgot to pick up the box. You would think I could remember this stuff: Wednesdays it’s Sound of the Week (today we’re bringing figs because its F day) at Clem’s school, swimming lessons in the afternoon, and pick up the goddamn organic box on the way to swim lessons. Swim lessons we seem to be able to handle, but we completely missed A through E (E was Chris’s fault – I got the edamame out and had it ready to go but he didn’t take it when he dropped her off) and 2 entire loads of our pre-paid veggies got donated to a homeless shelter or something. Which is fine, great even. Maybe I can take it off on my taxes (just kidding, jeez.) Except that now Chris is on a campaign to get me to cancel the Full Belly Farms since it’s been kind of a waste for us.

So I swore to cook and eat everything that came in the box this last week. It’s Wednesday again so there’s another one coming today (if I remember) so it’s a mad scramble to use it all up. The corn we ate pretty quickly, and it was excellent for this late in the season. The basil went into pesto this weekend. That left spinach, bok choi, tomatoes, turnips, and buttercup squash. So last night I made a tomato pie with a leftover pie crust (Safeway brand, not organic, not remotely healthy) from the freezer and more basil from the garden, and I roasted the turnips and the squash. I thought it was a pretty good meal. The kids did not. They sat there and stared at their plates with the saddest looks on their faces. You would think I had just flushed their parakeet down the toilet. They weren’t posturing for something else or trying to manipulate me into giving them candy for dinner, they just seemed genuinely depressed by the colorful slop on their plates. Clemmie seemed embarrassed by the whole thing and tried to salvage the evening by leading the other two kids in 30 or 40 rounds of Wheels on the Bus sung at a dramatic volume. I ended up pathetically selling them on the pie crust, which they then all had at least a few bites of. And Andre and Clem each found bits of cheese that had not been sullied by the evil tomato.

There was a great article in the New Yorker last month (or a few months ago, can’t recall) about the woman who Alice Waters brought in to revamp the Berkeley school lunch program. Long story short: she got rid of the toxic waste crap they were serving and started making delicious healthy food, and the kids hated it and wouldn’t eat it. They sent her hate mail, or depressed mail to be more accurate. It was heartbreaking.

The truth is Clem is a pretty good eater overall. Our other recent veggie dinner with beans, zucchini squash from the garden and the aforementioned pesto was a big hit with her. And she loves things like sushi. But she is still a three year old and given the choice, three year olds always seem to want macaroni and cheese.

Recent Clem Moments

We are at the store and Clem tells me she has to go pee. We go to the bathroom in the store, which is very cluttered, and she’s a little scared, but she sits down and goes. I tell her “I’m so proud of you for being such a good pottyer” and she says, “Yes, Mommy, but I’m also a good spitter!”

Chris and I are talking about the funny things Clem does. I mention that I love how she mispronounces words like “girl” and “school,” and I ask Clem “How do you say school, honey?” Clem looks at me and says “What, in French?”

I wish I wrote everything down. I know no one really wants to read about every little thing someone’s kid does, but I don’t give a rat’s ass who reads this blog, and I like having some record of Clem’s antics. I have stuff for a scrapbook for her but I’ve never put it together. She’s growing so fast; I wish I kept a daily diary. I guess I wouldn’t subject everyone to that, but I wish I had it. She’s precious and time is precious.

We think she’s turning Japanese

Our daughter says “hai” instead of “yes.” Don’t know where she got this, but it’s completely consistent. Secretly Japanese baby?

Gratuitious Clementine Promotion

Since I’m going to get all this traffic now from people wanting to see Chris’s haircut, here’s a picture of how Clementine looks when she’s just about had it with me.

Baby talk

Clementine says “boobie” now and points to my chest. When it’s inconvenient to admit this, I pretend she’s saying “baby,” but mostly I think it’s hysterical and encourage this behavior.