Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Snippet

Becca leaps into the air and lands her boney knees on The Banker's chest.

"Jesus Christ!" he exclaims in surprise.

"No, I'm Becca Marie!!" his daughter corrects him.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

In Which I'm the Bad Guy

Okay. I need some perspective. Because tonight? It sucked. And there were words exchanged between The Banker and me, and I'm wondering if maybe I was out of line.

Tonight we met The Banker's family at a local bar for Father's Day celebrations. Okay, bar/restaurant, but mostly just bar. (But, hey! No smoking there now, so that's a win, right?) They reserved the back room to accommodate the 11 adults and three children. Among the children was Becca's cousin, whom she adores. What this 4-year-old does, Becca mimics. It's natural and can occasionally be adorable. Yet at other times, it's a serious annoyance.

For starters, the boy refused to sit in his seat while we waited for dinner. But hey, they're kids, and we had the back room, so we let the little ones play around. But when said boy started slamming his hands onto his face and Becca followed suit? I told her not to hit herself. Because that's just stupid. Then the 4-year-old started bouncing on the booths. Becca thought this was GREAT fun. Again, I was the bad guy and told her that's not the way we treat furniture. Brother- and sister-in-law don't reprimand their boy. At all.

But the volume is escalating and their conversations suffering, so sister-in-law pulls out their portable DVD player. It's often pulled out at family meals to entertain the boy. It makes me inwardly shudder, but whatever. Needless to say, we don't own one, and so Becca is drawn to the screen like a moth to the flame. "We're going to watch Transformers!" the boy exclaims to Becca.

Wait. Transformers? As in the PG-13 movie? To be viewed by a 4-year-old and my 2-year-old?

Why, yes. The very same.

I respond, "I don't think Becca needs to watch that. It would probably scare the crap out of her."

Sister-in-law responds, "Oh, we watched it before letting the boy see it. There's not a lot of scary violence. And it's robot violence, not people violence, which is where I draw the line. Becca will be fine."

The Banker says nothing, effectively, in my view, hanging me out to dry. I now get to play the role of Overprotective Parent. Because I don't want my daughter to see Megan Fox's ample cleavage, scary, car-crushing robots, and men with guns. [Full disclosure: I feel a bit icky when Becca even plays with toy guns (water or otherwise) while at my in-laws. My uncle and the family he was employed by were slaughtered by a psychopath who got a hold of such weapons. So, I have a right to be squeamish. But for the most part, I stay quiet. We don't own guns, toy or otherwise, but I don't force my beliefs on others.] Even with my gun hang-up aside, I still don't think the movie is suitable viewing for such little ones.

There was, it felt, like no possible win. I couldn't call my sister-in-law out on the movie without drawing her parenting skills into question. This family is sensitive. So I do my best to distract Becca from the screen. When dinner arrives, thankfully the player is put away. The boy sits for three minutes, eats a few french fries, and gets down to run amuck again. Becca wants so much to join her cousin, but I demand she at least eat part of a grilled cheese first. She does so, grudgingly, and then flies to her cousin's side, to no doubt pick up more delightful habits.

Then to cap the stellar evening, someone pulls a cake out for another brother-in-law, whose birthday landed on this fateful day. The ice cream cake has peanut butter cups--a treat Becca can't yet enjoy for fear of a deadly peanut allergy. The pediatrician wants us to wait until she's 3 for proper testing. Explaining to her why she can't have the ice cream, carving out the cake portion to let her have was all so painful. So exhausting. So frustrating.

The Banker is defensive about his family's gathering. However, I take issue with the position it forces me into. I don't want to be Overprotective Parent. But I also don't want my daughter picking up on terrible habits that would never, ever, ever fly in our household. (And she's also only 2, so she doesn't understand that what works in one situation--a la such a family gathering--is not acceptable anywhere else. This muddies the water, confusing her.) And I don't think I should be backed into a corner, without support, while another family member tries to convince me that a movie for those 13 and above is somehow appropriate viewing for toddlers and preschoolers. Thoughts?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Monday, June 08, 2009

Just an FYI

Advising someone to "just relax" is in no way helpful. It doesn't help someone shrug off her burdens and gleefully skip about in blissful abandon. Telling someone to relax is akin to looking in the mirror and saying, "Grow, damn it!" I mean, I'm all for positive thinking, but I'm not about to sprout the four or five inches that would benefit my figure so much. It's advice, that while most likely entirely accurate, is next to impossible to follow. Quite simply, it doesn't work that way. And it's a platitude that is continually offered as appeasement for the months of exhaustive disappointment that have come my way.

I understand that people need something to say, and that they honestly want their words to be found helpful. And I don't want to seem ungrateful for their kind thoughts. But I also think people don't realize the absurdity of this advice "gem."

When my dearest friend suffered a heartbreaking miscarriage some five-plus years ago, it was followed by months of fist-shaking, loathsome infertility. And the more months that passed, the more stressed and anxious she became. Self-fulfilling process. I get that. But telling her to relax wouldn't magically make it so.

Just around the time of her would-have-been-due-date, I flew her up to Chicago to visit The Banker and me for a long weekend. We hit all the restaurants she'd seen on The Food Network. We shopped at all the flagship stores she loved. It was, in essence, a vacation from mourning--as much as possible, because I'm not a miracle worker, and mourning is important stuff. But she claims it helped. In the long run, I don't know if it made much difference. But I do know that she was pregnant again within four months and is now the happy--and harried--mother of two.

I'm not trying to gloat. And I'm certainly not asking for kuddos or trips to my much-missed Windy City. But I'm wondering why people do so little to help others relax. If that's your advice, why don't you let me out of that family obligation? Why don't you try not to cram a visit into an already-packed weekend? Why don't you let me off the hook, especially given how much you know I suck at saying "no"?

Monday, June 01, 2009

Lucky Number 7?!

Today marks The Banker and my 7th wedding anniversary. Although if we were to take into account the years of friendship and dating that would eventually herald our wedding day, we're looking at something more like 14 or 15 years. Sheesh!

The connotation that often accompanies this given anniversary year is "the seven-year itch." You know, when married couples began to bore of one another and eye greener pastures? (To be perfectly correct, the phrase has evolved. Originally the seven-year itch had been known since the early 19th century as the name of a particularly irritating and contagious skin complaint...So gross all around, no?)

The thought is laughable to me on so many different levels. And at the moment, entirely ironic. Because right now it seems the need to cling to one another has never been more necessary. A shit storm seems to have hit our families and closest friends with a cruelty and force that leaves my head reeling. Here are just some of the terms being bandied about lately in our circle of loved ones: Lay-offs, The Economy, Wrongful Termination, Divorce, Infertility, HSG, Dead-Beats, Restraining Order, Falling Off The Wagon, DUI, Reoccurrence of Cancer.

So tonight when we go out to dinner and celebrate, it's with no shortage of exhaustion and weight on our shoulders. For ourselves, our families, our friends. But with it comes the knowledge that we'll weather this storm like all the others these past many years--and the sincere hope that this coming year will be a blessed respite for us and all those we love.