Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Just a Spoon Full of Hogwash Helps The Medicine Go Down

Some Christmas toys are the gifts that keep on giving. If you're a parent, you know what I mean. The giver picked the loudest, most annoying item he/she could find in the store to torture you year round, until you make it disappear. We have several of these gifts in the house, the most infamous being the electronic talking parrot. I have to admit, on Christmas Eve, as Milk Man and I were cutting toys out of their boxes, that parrot was a hoot. We made it say things I wouldn't dare repeat here, (because I'm not stupid). We laughed so hard I nearly spit up egg nog.

Today the bird is about as funny as the joke my grandmother used to tell in Italian about artichokes. Apparently, it was funnier in 1957, but she still told it over, and over again for fifty years. (Translation of Joke: Sign in the grocery store says: Arti Chokes 3 for $1.) Like I said, it was funnier in Italian.

In the kitchen Hell Hound is having a barking war with the no-longer-funny parrot, whom the kids have situated on top of her dog cage. Big brother is following me around asking what the difference is between hydrophilic and hydrophobic parts of a cell membrane. Meanwhile, the baby is crying and screaming non-stop, and the phone is ringing. By dusk I've just about lost all of my patience. I hurl the parrot out the sliding glass doors in the den onto the lawn. Then the princess bursts into tears over her toy, and I feel like a horrible parent.

Later I'm watching "The Nanny" on television so I can feel better about myself, and the baby is still cranky, on my lap at 9:15 p.m. "The children are still up past the hour of 9 p.m., which is simply unacceptable." She says in her Mary Poppins' accent. I look down at baby Bigfoot. "Did you hear that?" I ask. The Nanny has this strategy of putting the kids back into their beds over and over again until they sleep. Of course, this technique always works in time for a commercial break, and the hopeless parents who called for her help are changed people.

Tonight doesn't look good for me, since Baby Bigfoot has a cold and is getting molars at the same time. I sit in his room rocking him at 10 p.m., reading a copy of The Nanny's book that someone helpfully bought me. I find out that not only is this girl not married, she's never had a child of her own. In her book, she suggests that parents not have children close in age, as that makes discipline more of a challenge. I hurl the book across the room, seemingly on a throwing kick today. Baby Bigfoot is crying still, at 10:30 p.m. I put Thomas the Tank Engine on television in his bedroom and step into the hall.

The Nanny would be aghast at me allowing him to watch late night TV, but I'm too tired to care. I crawl into bed and try to sleep. At 1 p.m. he's crying again, and I climb into his Winnie the Pooh toddler bed with him. I'm like a pretzel under his blankets with him, patting his tummy, and he is thrilled. He laughs softly, and grabs my hand. That's how we fall asleep, and I dream that The Nanny is watching my day of parenting mistakes on her portable DVD player, shaking her head in disapproval. It's about 3 a.m. when I awake, to the sound of rain hitting his window. Baby Bigfoot and I are still holding hands, and I have to admit that it is very sweet and cozy to cuddle with a toddler in the wee hours of the morning. Someday, maybe I'll even miss it.

I laugh so hysterically at this thought that I nearly wake him. Covering my mouth like a lunatic in the dark, I crawl out of his bed, over the baby gate and down the hall into my room. It's 3:17 a.m., my head is pounding, and now I can't fall back asleep. I chew a Tylenol because I don't want to make noise getting a glass of water. Don't mess with me, Nanny, this is my reality show: "Survivor Mom."


Elizabeth Kathryn Gerold-Miller said...

I used to let the kids stay up until "whenever" and it drove me crazy! That worked as long as we were homeschooling, although there were other parents who gave me a complex about it. Once we enrolled them in school I enforced a strict 8:00 deadline. It was as much for me as for them! Of course, the baby didn't follow that deadline for quite a long time.

Romy and Andrew said...

I'm laughing out loud here because every time I do some not-quite-the-norm parenting thing, I think about that Nanny lady. I hear advice in my head in this British accent that's a mixture of her and John Cleese. And then I ignore it and do what I want!

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