Something to Sink Your Teeth Into

It has been a rough Saturday morning — full of children bickering, children complaining, and children generally pissing me off.

Mgazi and Zaffron were downstairs, supposedly watching tv, when I heard a thud, what I swear was a battle cry, then a crash.

I hit my limit.

Me: GIRLS! <– yelling

the Girls:  Yes, Mommy? <– sweetly, in unison

Me: Get upstairs! Now!

I’d like to say that they came upstairs, hanging their heads, abashed and guilty in the knowledge that had once again driven their mother to the brink of a breakdown. But no, they came up reluctantly, and loudly protesting the interruption of their television time with stomping feet and exaggerated sighs.

They stood in front of me as I ticked off the reasons I had had enough.

Me: I have had enough. I’m done with all the name-calling. I’m done with all the whining. With the yelling and arguing. I’ve had enough of all the hitting and all the biting and –

Zaffron: But, Mom! I only bit Mgazi one time! You can’t have had enough with all the biting if I only bit her once!

Glass of white wineRecommended wine: Did you know that wine may rot your teeth? I guess whites do more damage than reds because of acidity. Riesling is the worst offender. Lucky for me, I think Rieslings suck. So, I’m going to recommend a red today. Something very un-Riesling. I love love love Cloudy Bay’s Pinot Noir. Yum.


You Gotta Respect the Whiners

This is my mom. Posing with Russell (on the left) and my brother-in-law, Leo. She raised a complainer (and two other daughters). I’m raising whiners.

My mother used to say that I was never happy unless I was complaining.  As a kid, I never understood what she was talking about. How could anyone think that my astute commentary on the current state of affairs, delivered with just the right dramatic effect for optimal communication, was complaining?

Flash forward 35 years later. With two daughters of my own, ages five and seven, I get it.

Here’s what’s getting to me lately: Whining.

Dramatic whining. Whining that covers multiple octaves and decibels. It’s maddening. It makes me want to pull my hair out. And it has my utmost respect.

These are my whiners. Mgazi and Zaffron. Of course, they are not whining at this particular moment, but just give it a minute.

Before I had children of my own, I used to watch my friends crumble under the pressure brought on by their own whining children. Normally intelligent, sophisticated people, crushed under the weight of another day of the repeated moans and groans of their children, were reduced to whining themselves in a pitiful attempt at discipline.  I’ll never forget the high-pitched, drawn-out cry of my girlfriend, Elizabeth, as she tried in vain to scold her daughter, Sienna, after a prolonged bout of whining. “Sienna, would you pleeee-eeee-eeee-se, just SHUT UP?”

Elizabeth was whining. And I tsk tsked at her weakness.

But, seven years later, I find myself shamefully doing the same damn thing.  In top whining form, my girls can have me shakily reaching for a bottle of merlot by 8:30 a.m. on any given Saturday. Whining leads to wining.

Which is why whining has my respect. It’s a powerful tool, Wielded correctly, it can bring an otherwise strong, self-assured adult to their knees. Pit a small scrawny four-year old against a six-foot tall, confident dad… no competition is most areas of conflict. Dad can and should win every time. But if that four-year old has a strong desire for what he or she wants, and an iota of sense, he or she will start whining. Game over.  If dad has had a long day, or maybe is lacking sleep, so sad — poor dad. He never stood a chance.

I think it’s called the Mother’s Curse. When your mother wishes upon you a child that is exactly like you, so that you may suffer as she did. Well, I’ve been cursed. I’m guessing many of us have. But I will never admit that to my mother. I won’t give her the satisfaction.

Zaffron’s Latest Worstest Day Ever

Zaffy: Mom, I had the worstest day ever.

Me: Oh no! Worse than the last worstest day ever? What happened?

Zaffy: I almost lost my three newest best friends.

Me: Tell me!

Zaffy: Well, my old-new best friend Sydney told my two newer best friends Brooke and Sophia, that I cut in line at the cafeteria. And they believed her!

Me: Well, did you cut in line?

Zaffy: No, I didn’t! I didn’t cut in line!

Me: Of course you didn’t. Is there more?

Zaffy: Yes. Then Brooke told the teacher that I was yelling and the teacher believed her and I got in trouble.

Me: Well, were you yelling?

Zaffy: Mom! No! I wasn’t yelling! <– she’s yelling here.

Me: Hmmm… you know, if I was accused of cutting in line when I didn’t cut in line, I might be pretty mad. I might feel like yelling.

Zaffy: Okay, I yelled. But I did it using my regular volume voice.


I’m 42 and Not Diggin’ It

This is how I react when someone calls me “ma’am.”

Let’s just jump right in. I turned 42 years old last week. I am not happy about it. Let’s talk about why:

  • I sweat for no reason at all. I swear I this didn’t happen to me when I was 41.
  • I have crow’s feet.  Crows feet suck.
  • I now have to wear makeup. It started when I turned 40. I hate it. It takes up valuable time each morning and because I never wore it before, I’m horrible at putting it on and have to rely on my 30-something friends to guide me. It’s humiliating. And I resent it. (For my girlfriends… the ones saying, “oh, poor you, just started wearing makeup at forty,” shut up. This is my list. (p.s. I love you guys.))
  • I have four grey hairs and no matter how many times I pull them out, they reappear the next day. All four. Three on my head and one… somewhere else.
  • I put ice cubes in my wine to water it down. I don’t even know why I do this, but I associate it with being old.
  • I’m embarrassed if I walk by a Hollister store and they have one of the shirtless male models standing at the entrance. (Where are his pants? Does his mother know about this? Oh God, why can’t I make myself look away?)
  • I sweat if I walk within a hundred yards of a Hollister store in anticipation that they might have one of the shirtless male models standing at the entrance. Can anyone say coo coo ca-choo?
  • My favorite clothes have come into style and gone out of style five times. (Currently, they’re out.)
  • Harrison Ford is 70. I still think he’s hot.
  • More grocery store clerks than not call me Ma’am. What the %^$&?
  • Last, but not least, everything pisses me off. And I feel justified about it somehow. Like it’s a right of mine to be mad at everything because I’ve earned it by living this long. I’m just like a grumpy old woman – the exact kind of grumpy old woman that pissed me off when I was younger.

Wow. I’m exhausted. (See… I’m so old that making lists exhausts me!)

With that said, I do feel the need to mention this. I’m more comfortable in my skin than I’ve ever been. (I just don’t like how droopy it is!) I have more confidence than ever before too. I don’t have fewer problems. In fact, this year, I’m facing more challenges than last. It hasn’t been easy. But I have more belief in my ability to handle what comes my way. This gives me confidence which gives me courage. Two traits I would not have used to describe myself only a year ago.

I think I’ll write more on this later. I’m tired. It’s 8:45 p.m.

Banana Whine

I had a hard night. It was rough. I fell asleep sometime around 4 a.m. I had high hopes of sleeping in, but my daughters had a different idea.

5:48 a.m. – Both girls come into my room. Mgazi crawls in bed. Zaffy 
asks if she can watch tv.

6:17 a.m. – Mgazi crawls OVER me, to get out of my side of the bed so
 she can join her sister watching tv.

6:45 a.m. – Mgazi comes into my room.

Mgazi: Mom, I’m hungry. I want breakfast.

Me: Got get yourself a banana.

Mgazi: Awwww. Just a banana?

6:54 a.m. – Mgazi comes back in my room.

Mgazi: Mommy, the banana is gross.

Me: Why? What does it taste like?

Mgazi: I don’t know. Zaffy is not strong enough to open it.

7:05: a.m. - Zaffy & Mgazi come into my room.

Zaffy: Mommy, I can’t open my banana or Mgazi’s and they look gross.

7:33 a.m. – Mgazi comes in.

Mgazi: Mommy, Zaffy’s tooth hurts. She can’t open her 
banana and I need some breakfast.

Me: Ok. Did you eat your banana?

Mgazi: Yes. I ate the whole thing. Zaffy finally got it open. It was gross.

Defeated, I get up to make the girls some breakfast. Mgazi watches me with an eagle eye. She counts the number of items on each plate.

Mgazi: Zaffy gets 1, 2, 3 ,4 things. I get 1, 2, 3 
things. Mommy, why does Zaffy get 4 things and I only get 3 things?

Me: Gaz, what’s on Zaff’s plate that is not on yours?

Mgazi: A banana.

Glass of white wineRecommended wine: I recommend banana wine, of course. Yes, it exists. All you need is 21 lbs of RIPE bananas, 5 gallons water and 15-20 lbs white and/or brown sugar, and some golden raisins.

Here’s a couple of sites that can help you with the recipe: