Category Archives: clementine

The Internet Knows

Driving to school this morning: “Mommy, does the Internet know everything?”

“Um, well…”

“How did the Internet know what sound is Sound of the Week at my school?”


Resisting my not-so-good instincts

I am so sad that John Paczkowski is leaving my favorite daily reading on the tech industry: Good Morning Silicon Valley. The man makes me laugh out loud with headlines like
“Oh geez! Has this brie been in Carly’s desk since she left?”
One of the things I like best is his “Off Topic” section at the end where I’ve found some of my favorite YouTube clips. Today, he links to an episode of The Muppet Show guest starring Peter Sellers. Just the opening sequence where the muppets come out dancing made me all sorts of nostalgic. It made me want to throw out all of Clementine’s videos and outlaw Clifford and Dragon Tales and limit her media consumption to only shows I liked as a kid. Then I thought about the kind of mom that would make me, and I decided not to.

I Hate Sara Lee

It is the morning and I am looking at this hot dog bun and feeling dread. I am sending rays of hate towards Sara Lee, imagining she is a real person and is responsible for what’s about to happen. I don’t even know why we have a Sara Lee product in our refrigerator, but Clem wants a hot dog for breakfast (turkey dog, don’t think too ill of me) and we have just returned from vacation and there is precious little else in there. So I concede to this, just this once.

But I can tell the bun is stale and fragile (and crappily made to begin with) and it’s going to fall apart when we put the dog in it. And Clem is going to freak out. She is going to scream and cry as if rats were eating her toes. It is January 2nd, and I need to go to work after having been gone for two whole weeks. Really gone. Checked out. Did nothing. Stuff is piled up. We have a major launch event in three months and basically everything left to do on it. I need to get to work.

I give her the hot dog and the bun, in that way that you do something you know is stupid, but you don’t know what else to do (I had told her she could have it) and you think maybe this time it will not have the consequences that it usually has. But it does, of course, and then you realize you knew it would and you wonder if you are an actor in some boring movie and not an actual thinking human being of your own. So your toddler is crying uncontrollably about the broken mess on her plate and isn’t remotely ready to go to school and it is 8:30.

So you non-parents are mostly thinking “Why do you put up with that kind of behavior?” And I think the same thing, often. And the alternative? Please come over here and show me how not to put up with that. She is crying, loudly, so I can take her upstairs and put her in her room and let her cry louder. I will need to lock her in her room, since she will just run out if I try to leave her there. I could lock her in there and go get myself ready in the meantime and then decide what to do. I could, and frankly I have done that, but I don’t like to lock a child in a room alone. I could say to her “I can help you if you can stop crying and talk to me.” I do this. Yes, well. I believe in my heart of hearts that this will work one day. It does not work now. I can say it a few more times, but it is more ritual than anything. Does she hear me?

It is five days later and I don’t even remember now how we got her to calm down. I think Chris did it. We made it to school, late, to work, late, but the sky did not fall. There is not enough room in memory to store all of these moments. I remember the bun. I threw the rest of them out that afternoon. They tasted like paper anyway. I don’t know if I’m a good parent. I know I’m a loving parent, but I might be way too lenient. I might be raising a total brat. I do not want Super Nanny to come to my house, but I sure as hell wouldn’t mind a visit from Mary Poppins. Or just magical powers. But I believe the idea was that Mary Poppins only visited houses where the kids were neglected and under-loved. This is not our problem.

I have come to the conclusion that we do put up with our kids. At school, the teachers don’t tolerate meltdowns, I know that, and I’m glad of it. She knows how to keep herself together when she has to. Apparently when she is with Mommy is not when she has to. I know I am supposed to teach her to get a grip, helping her channel her emotions while validating them. I have read books, some of them very good and very helpful. I have the best intentions. But sometimes I want to slap her. Sometimes I wonder if that in fact would be helpful. I decide it probably would not, but the thought comes back from time to time.

We tried something today that worked so well and was so cute I think Miss Poppins would be proud. After an unfortunately pretty typical after school hour of what the books say is her letting out all the stress of her school day on me (she is after all, only 3 ½ and was in school for 9 hours today! Ugh. I was held up at the office.) I suggested that when she feels like crying or whining about something, she should instead say “Mom, I need a hug.” Miraculously, this worked. She needed a hug about every 25 seconds in frequent spurts throughout the evening, which made cooking dinner difficult, but she gives fantastic hugs. Her giant round cheeks are so soft and they squish up against your cheek or your neck and she wraps her legs around your waist and squeezes. It’s pretty damn awesome. The anti-matter to a whine. Some of the hugs were just for fun but several times throughout the evening I saw her start to freak and instead ask for or just take a hug and actually calm down. Magic! And magical.

I know from experience that this will probably not work tomorrow. At the most it’ll work for a week or two. Then we will have to find something else, and in the meantime there’ll be dozens of meltdowns. And maybe one of my friends or family will nominate us for a visit from Super Nanny. Does she scare me because she looks mean or does she scare me because I’m raising a brat and I don’t want to face it?

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?