We were at a birthday party the other day for some friends we made at Future Cult Leader’s school. School rocks like that. We met Monsieur Stoic there so the 4 of us could hang in the pool like a real live family before the group of cool people headed out to the park to enjoy pizza, cake, playground scuffles, and watching the birthday kids open their
peace offerings gifts.
Now that Evil Genius is older I feel comfortable letting her play at the park without being within 20 feet as long as there is no street she can dart out in. Which is ridiculous, because out of the two, Future Cult Leader is most likely to do that. As this was in a quiet parking lot, I hung out with Stoic and the all the other parents at the party. Suddenly, blood curdling screams. I recognized them as Evil Genius’s and as I walked to figure out why World War Three was about to start I saw her surrounded by a bunch of kids, Cult Leader included. As Cult Leader has this thing about not respecting other people’s bodily autonomy I assumed she was forgetting that when her sister is screaming at her it means HOLY HELL STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING OR SHE’S GOING TO BITE YOU.
“Cult Leader, when she’s screaming like that it means she–”
I stopped, as I was close enough to see a quarter sized bruise, red and blue mottled and raised about 1/8 to 1/4 inch next to Genius’s left eye. I grabbed her and speed walked back to the party so I could attempt to calm my hysterical daughter and maybe try to get her some pain relief. You know what 3 year olds hate? Ice packs. They also hate a bunch of not so familiar people crowding around them, which all the other moms were doing because BABY! HURT! MUST FIX IT!
No one but the kids around her at the time know what really happened. Last year at a birthday party Genius tripped on her skirt and fell backwards, head over heels, off a metal slide, smacking her head on the stairs on the way down. After 10 minutes she stopped crying and it was obvious she was fine. This time, the crying didn’t subside easily so Stoic and I decided he would take her to the walk in clinic in the next town over while I stayed with Cult Leader until after the party was over. Then I would take her to his parents’ house and join him.
Then I got a text that they were referring her out to the children’s hospital in Portland for a cat scan.
I decided it wasn’t important to stay so I went to grab my keys…and realized my keys were in the diaper bag. Super Friend, to the rescue! She drove Cult Leader and me to The In-Law’s then dropped me off 22 miles from our hometown so I could hang out with husband and kid in the ER.
Fortunately, they determined she didn’t need a cat scan. Just some ice and TLC. We came home and promptly went to bed, but not until we’d taken a picture of Genius’s face.
Evil Genius, being who she is, asks to be taken to a mirror or see pictures of her face. Anytime we comply she cackles hideously. I’m beginning to think this kid could scare Dick Cheney.
Folks, I give you exhibit B.
Things have been busy in the last 6 months. Hell, thing have been busy in the last year. In fact, the last year has been a difficult one, which is why I’ve been so scare on the posts. It’s hard to write humorously when you’re mired in shit. That doesn’t mean that I’m not finding humor in my life, or that I’m focusing only on the bad times…just that I’m finding it difficult to take some of our everyday situations and turn them into a funny commentary on parenting, relationships, mental illness, atypical neurology, and what raging assholes 3 year olds are. Actually, that last one might not so so hard to write…
In the last year, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, have had to readjust my expectations and my life based on my body and the medications I have to take to prevent irreversible joint damage, started weekly psychiatry appointments for Future Cult Leader to get a handle on her anxiety, ADHD, and daily meltdowns, I’ve struggled with my bipolar disorder, helped my mother after her surgeries (plural, with another one likely coming up) and the after effects of those surgeries (MRSA flare!), dealt with my aging grandmother’s progressing Alzheimer’s disease, hospitalization, moves to different homes and a rehab center for her severely broken shoulder and subsequent surgery, and other minor annoyances that are just part of life that have complicated some of the above events.
On the good side: Future Cult Leader is safely in a healthy weight range, has become a lot easier to handle, Evil Genius has made strides learning how to use the bathroom like a human being (no diapers, holla!), I’ve made some awesomesauce friends, gotten addicted to Words With Friends, had the privilege of officiating the marriage of 2 close friends, have managed a couple times to get my joint pain under control, have strengthened my relationship with Monsieur Stoic (today marks the 6th year anniversary of the day we became a couple), turned 30 (fuck yeah, 30!), have improved my photography skills (maybe eventually I can turn it into a career…who knows?), done a bit of traveling, and I’ve gotten to know my long lost brother who recently moved to Oregon from the Easy Coast to attend Oregon State University. So it hasn’t been all bad.
Tell me, readers…how has your last year been?
Monsieur Stoic and I were in the kitchen, discussing how to end world hunger while fixing macaroni and cheese for lunch, when Evil Genius tip toes in. In her arms she is cradling her almost-as-big-as-she-is automatic Nerf dart gun, fully loaded. She is wearing a mischievious grin. Before we can register what is going on, she aims the gun at Stoic (as best as she can, considering she has to cradle it like a baby) and pulls the trigger. Synthetic material flies everywhere as she cackles maniacally, turning her body around so she is spraying the entire kitchen with suppressive styrofoam fire. Stoic jumps for cover so I spring into action, guiding Evil Genius into another position so he is assaulted by velcro tipped missiles. When the dust settles, our 2 1/2 year old daughter is giggling wildly, crowing in triumph. “I got you! I got you, Dad!” I cannot stop laughing. Stoic is shell shocked and appalled. “You little punk, I loaded that for you earlier and you had no interest in shooting!”
Folks, I give you Exhibit A.
If you’re a mother, then chances are you know about Caillou. If you’re a mother and have half a brain, then Caillou annoys the ever loving shit out you.
For me, it’s not so much the cartoon itself. That bratty little 4 year old buys me an hour of peace every morning, an hour that I can use to
screw around on the internet get a bunch of chores done around the house. No, what gets me is its effect on Evil Genius.
First thing in the morning: “Dai-yoo? Dai-yoo?”
“Sorry, baby. Caillou is still night-night.”
Right after breakfast: “Dai-yoo? Dai-yoo?”
“Sorry, baby. Not for another hour.”
As soon as 9 AM hits…
And after Caillou hour is over and we turn the TV off…
Snack time: “Dai-yoo?”
Lunch time: “Dai-yoo?”
Before nap: “Dai-yoo?”
After nap: “Dai-yoo?”
Every ten minutes for the rest of the day unless she is occupied: “DAI-YOO, MAMA, PEAS? DAI-YOO?”
WHAT is it about that show? Why does it enthrall her so much? Why is she so obsessed with it? After much study and contemplation, I have my theory.
Caillou is sending out subliminal messages to my daughter. See, she is a clever, clever girl and already has a well-developed mischievous side. Suffocating her mother? She’s tried it! Strangling her sister? Check! Escaping the house when Daddy is in the bathroom? Hell yeah! The kid ain’t not no dummy, and she’s deceptively cute enough to use her powers for the dark side and get away with it. But she knows that in order to conquer all, she’s going to need some assistance.
That’s where Caillou comes in.
Caillou is obviously nothing more than a carefully coded message from the enemy, except instead of being tied to a pigeon’s leg it’s delivered via children’s cartoon. Are you over the age of 5? Nothing to see here! But for the wee ones there are cues in the animation, secret messages in the dialogue. The songs are cute but full of we’re-not-in-this-alone morale boosting. The credits pull it all together into a anarchist’s cook book for toddlers. That’s why Evil Genius is obsessed with it. Each episode covers a different topic and if she misses a day, that’s one more day she’ll have to put off her diabolical plan.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. THIS CHICK IS OFF HER ROCKER. I don’t claim sanity, but hear me out. There’s a reason this child’s pseudonym is Evil Genius. I invite you to come spend some time in my house. Watch what happens when we deny this child of her Caillou. Then you tell me: is this cartoon really as innocent as its creators want you to think?
The kids are kicking my ass.
Monsieur Stoic is out of town. He’s in Miami
doing hookers and blow with his brother watching the Atlanta Braves play the Florida Marlins and trying not to get struck by lightening. So while he’s off partying like it’s 1999 hanging with his Wombmate in a sub tropical locale, I’m getting destroyed by the Terror Tag Team. But fair’s fair, because I took off with my best friend in June to bake and play tourist on the Oregon Coast.
(I should probably come up with a pseudonym for her soon. Hmmm.)
Normally, it wouldn’t be *that* big a deal to be outnumbered. I mean, yeah, these kids are a handful. Future Cult Leader by herself is relentless, especially after the Ritalin wears off. And Evil Genius is 2, okay? Two. Do you know what they say about the twos? They say that they’re terrible. And while Evil Genius’s 2s aren’t nearly as bad as some other 2s I’ve seen, she’s still 2. What do you get when you put a 2 year old and a post-Ritalin 6 year old together? Let me put it this way: if the child-adult ratio is 2:1 for longer than 12 hours, my house will start to resemble Vancouver after the Canucks lose the Stanley Cup. But while my kids have a difficulty level somewhere between hard and expert, I’m used to the chaos and don’t usually mind the mess. I could do without the violence, though. I’m also smug enough to say that parents with kids that are mellow would probably be full blown alcoholics when confronted with my kids; I only need a daily pot of coffee, weekly therapy appointments, and a handful of psychotropic drugs to get through the day. (Oh, wait…)
Now, let’s add a few ingredients to the mix. First off, Evil Genius has a yeast infection in her mouth. She can’t eat, isn’t sleeping well because she no longer has her pacifier to fall back on, is super clingy, and just randomly bursts into tears because “Mama, mouth owwwwwwww”. Second off, I can’t bliss out on my Ambien with Stoic gone. The night he left, my insomnia showed up at my front door with a couple of kegs, a bunch of E, some glow sticks, and 200 of its closest friends. Third, Stoic’s absence is a disruption in Cult Leader’s life. She doesn’t like disruptions. And that was what we call an understatement.
So. To review: 6 year old who comes home from day camp just as her stimulant drug wears off. Super pissed all the time because we moved an object to the left a little and won’t let her change it back. Terrible twos with a mouth plague that’s taken her drug away from her without the help of methadone; becomes incapacitated when not clinging to her mother’s neck. I’m “it” but my own severe sleep deprivation tends to mean I Lose My Shit, but I can’t Lose My Shit because I’m being held captive and tortured by the Terror Tag Team and the moment I blink the terrorists win.
If I don’t make it out alive and intact: I’ve had a hell of a run. And can someone do me a favor and burn all those old journals from high school for me? Those don’t really need to be floating around once I’m gone.
I know some moms do a load or 5 of laundry every day, but I’ve always been a person with a laundry day. I much prefer to get it done in one shot than to spend time every day folding clothes. Oh sure, I could have Monsieur Stoic do it, but his way of doing laundry is appalling and makes me twitchy. In fact, on the rare occasion he does do laundry, I write him out detailed instructions because I’m a control freak who can’t let go. Or something like that.
Part of having kids is buying clothes, so we went to a department store some time last week to return a couple items that sucked and pick up some things that don’t suck. Since Future Cult Leader has this thing where she grows taller and taller, she’s heading straight for the girls 7-14 section. This both excited and saddened me. It’s sad because, oh hey, last section before the juniors section! And what’s in the juniors section? Clothes that I don’t find appropriate for girls under the age of 18! The excitement? Came from my hatred of glitter.
Fucking glitter. It was an awful Mariah Carey movie (erms…from what I heard, anyway), everyone jokes about how it’s the dumb way for shit to go down when vampires from crappy series that have a cult following step into the light, and like Dimitri Martin said, it’s art herpes. It gets everywhere, and you can’t fucking get rid of it. Why is this relevant? BECAUSE CLOTHING COMPANIES PUT GLITTER ON LITTLE GIRL CLOTHING. My god, I think I’ve even found it on little girl underwear. WHO NEEDS GLITTER ON FREAKING UNDERWEAR WHEN YOU’RE 5? TELL ME. I REALLY WANT TO KNOW.
It’s like the people who manufacture clothing are soooooooooooo desperate for your money that they’re pimping out their shirts however they can. Or jeans. JEANS. It’s not enough to be cover the body and maybe be stylish. HEY, BUY OUR SHIT. WE NEED MORE CIGARETTES AND HOOKERS OVER HERE. Put glitter on a little girl shirt and you can guarantee that most little girls who walk by are going to pull this number:
“*GASP*! Authority-figure-who-has-taken-me-shopping-and-made-the-mistake-of-walking-by-the-girls-clothing-section, see that shirt? It’s glittery! It’s so pretty! Please please please please buy it for me! I really really want it! I’ll do anything for it! You want me to kiss your toes? I’ll lick the bottom of your foot if you just buy me that shirt! All the kids are wearing shirts with glitter on them, it’s so shiny and beautiful and please please please please?”
My girls are not girly girls. I don’t have a problem with this, because kids should get dirty and wrestle and play hard and jump and not worry about getting dirty or breaking a nail. Don’t get me wrong. Cult Leader loves herself a pretty dress, and Evil Genius loves to put on pretty shoes and every article of clothing she can hijack, but then they go outside to roll around in the mud, much like Scrooge McDuck would roll around in money. Danger? They laugh at it. Getting loud and rowdy? Yup. Non stop activity? Hell yes.
But if you show them a shirt with glitter on it, that’s the only shirt in the world they want and will stop at nothing to get it. Even the 2 year old is attracted to glitter, kind of like a magpie. Those clothing companies, they addict them young. So I figured, hey. Once we hit the big kids section, THERE WILL BE NO MORE GLITTER. What self-respecting 7 year old wants glitter on her clothes?
The shirts Stoic picked out for Cult Leader? COVERED IN MOTHERFUCKING GLITTER.
I can’t escape it. That shit is my lot in life. And the worst part about glitter covered clothes? They make more glitter covered clothes. I can shake the hell out of mine and Stoic’s clothes when they come out of the dryer but since glitter is like herpes, or worse than herpes, we’ll still find it when we put the clothes on, or 10 washes later.
If I was ambitious, I would start an anti-glitter campaign. Because no one’s lint trap should look like this:
We lost power last night. Stoic and Basement Dweller had gone out to relive their high school glory days while I stayed home with Evil Genius and Basement Dweller’s kids, Jolly Giant and Jolly Smalls. Future Cult Leader is gone for a week, and it’s a good thing because there’s no way I would have handled last night had she been home.
It was about 8:45. The Jollies and I had just sat down to watch 30 minutes of Toy Story 3 before I sent them to bed and started my stay-at-home-mom style debauchery: sitting down with a bitch beer and my laptop to lose a few brain cells, courtesy of the internet. My plans were screwed, because the power surged and everything went down. It surged again, then everything shut down again. The Jollies and I just sat there, stunned, when there was one last mini surge that turned some lights on and shut them off again. Cue my fear of the dark and fear of wandering mass murderers.
Yes. I’m a grown ass adult and I’m afraid of the dark. Not so much the dark, but the vulnerability of being in the dark. I’m fine as long as there is someone with me because, you know, safety in numbers and all that. But I was alone with 3 kids. Two of them weren’t mine and while they are essentially family members, being responsible for someone else’s child is still a little nerve wracking. Oh, did I mention that Jolly Smalls has diabetes? I have the training and I’m experienced in caring for her and all, but being responsible for her for a big block of time like that had my anxiety stretching to take a power walk.
The power outage? Had it setting off for a rapid, butt shaking pace. With hand weights.
Candles and flashlights were gathered, and Facebook was texted to update my status. No better way to handle a power outage than talk to Facebook! While things were being gathered, my front door opened. My men weren’t due home for hours; who the fuck is walking into my house? I grabbed something heavy to throw at the intruder, but when I came around the corner it was just my mother, stopping by on her way home from the store.
My anxiety got ready for a light jog.
Once the Jollies went to bed and I had every single light source in the house collected and on, I concentrated on reporting the outage. Except? To report I had to have a phone number attached to the account, or an account number. None of our phone numbers worked. I texted Stoic to get the account number. He directed me to the filing cabinet in his office, where he had EVERY SINGLE BILL from the old house, but NOTHING from the new house. My man, he is fastidious, almost to the point of anal which is something I make fun of him for, but at that moment all I could think was, HE IS NOT NEARLY ANAL ENOUGH. But when I texted him about his lack of anal behavior, he told me the account number was the same. So, I called the power outage hotline again. That account has been closed.
My anxiety started jogging.
I went through the house to lock every single door to every single room that wasn’t being used, and closed every window so no serial rapists could get in and hurt me. Because a few panes of glass are going to protect me, amirite? Then I started searching Stoic’s office for something resembling a current power bill. Guys, the only stuff he had for the new house was irrelevant.
My anxiety decided it was going for a long distance run.
I grabbed my computer to check the power company’s website. Silly me! DSL isn’t going to work in a power outage! I called a friend to see what they could see online, and guess what? Same shit! I can’t find out anything concrete without that information! All she could tell me is that there are 2 outages in my area affecting X amount of customers with X number of people reporting.
My anxiety thought long distance sprinting was a fabulous idea.
I sat there, the occasional tear falling. I held a flashlight so I could read to distract my mind. Except, there’s NOTHING distracting about reading in COMPLETE AND TOTAL DARKNESS, save enough candles to set off a smoke detector in the adjoining kitchen and an LED flashlight mounted in my mouth. Then 2 things happened. I noticed a bunch of emergency lights across the river (anxiety hit an obstacle course at a record breaking pace). My mom fell asleep and started snoring. So the company I had to help me feel better? Was of no actual use.
My anxiety started a meth fueled frenzy, tap dancing in a car while going for a ride on the world’s fastest roller coaster.
I hate roller coasters.
So there I sat, cursing Stoic for not buying a generator when Basement Dweller and I told him to and for not having information available to me that might soothe my overactive imagination. I think if he had come in the door just then, I’d have punched him in the chest.
An hour and a half after the lights went off in Georgia, my house being Georgia and the lights going off for only the literal reason and not the figurative one, power came back on. However, because my anxiety had been slammed into overdrive, I was still a bit of a train wreck. Or five. In fact, I turned on every single light on the ground floor, a light in the basement, and bedroom lights in my room on the third floor. My mom woke up when power returned and she said she had to go home or she’d fall asleep here. (Figure that one out.) I followed her around the house as she gathered her stuff up (to protect her?), then walked her outside and shined a light on her car (because a porch light wasn’t enough). I ran inside when I heard a car on the road and locked the front door against the boogeyman that was coming to get me. I grabbed myself a bitch beer, sat on the couch with my laptop and the TV on, and I didn’t really move from that spot until Stoic and Basement Dweller came home.
Since nothing about my behavior was rational, they didn’t do much more than laugh at me. Thanks, guys!
Let me tell you about the time a spider brought me down.
Monsieur Stoic was on one of his baseball trips with his not-that-identical-anymore twin, which left me alone with the Terror Tag Team. Future Cult Leader was at school (yay, kindergarten!) so it was just Evil Genius and me. She was playing on the floor while I fed my addiction and attempted to read something with a higher reading level than Highlights Magazine. I saw something roll slowly across the (light colored) carpet out of the corner of my eye and looked up, expecting to see Evil Genius’s toy. Nope. It was a big fucking spider.
A BIG FUCKING SPIDER.
A REALLY BIG FUCKING SPIDER.
I had no time to think. This bastard was big enough to kill my 15 month old AND me and STILL go on a murderous spree. I grabbed a stool (which has a hollow bottom, by the way) and threw it over the spider. Then I grabbed Evil Genius and stood on the stool, because I wouldn’t put it past him to lift up that chair and come after us both. I sat there for a moment, wondering what my next move was. I wasn’t killing this spider, Basement Dweller (who was Upstairs Guest Room Dweller at the time) wouldn’t be home until MUCH later, and I was fairly sure that Cult Leader would take one look at the arachnid, look at me solemnly, tell me I had to be joking, and could she get her snack now?
My gaze fell on my phone.
My mother is a bad ass mofo when it comes to spiders. Does it have 8 legs? She’ll kill it then go smoke a cigarette. It ain’t no thing to her. So I did what any other rational human being would do.
I called my mommy to come save me.
She laughed when I told her of the pickle I was in, but agreed to come over right away. Ahhhh, but the door was locked. The door was ALWAYS locked, because at the time we lived in Suburban Hell where all the houses looked the same and all the women drove SUVs whether they needed to or not, and Stoic was paranoid that someone, out of ALL THE HOUSES ON THE BLOCK, would choose ours to break into. You know, because a dead bolt is going to stop them.
Solution? Grab one of Evil Genius’s heavier toys, stick it on top of the stool, run to unlock the door, then get back on the stool and wait.
Ten minutes later, my mother came sauntering in. She laughed at me, guys. SHE LAUGHED AT ME. This spider was big enough for the Smithsonian, how could she be laughing?
But she humored me. She took over stool duty while I grabbed the baby and ran upstairs to hide. She dutifully caught the spider and threw it outside so there were no yucky spider guts to clean up. She returned inside, and then this happened:
“I thought you said it was a big spider.”
“It was. Big fucker. Why?”
“Uh, because it was barely the size of a dime, you knucklehead.”
“Not a chance in hell. At least the size of a quarter.”
“I just caught it, I know how big it was.”
“IT WAS GINORMOUS AND IT WAS GOING TO KILL US BOTH.”
She managed to suppress a laugh, but smiled and nodded. Then she grabbed a cup of coffee and went outside to smoke.
All in a day’s work.
I cut Evil Genius’s bangs the other day.
Since she was born without hair and was, in fact, bald as a cue ball until right around her first birthday, she has what is known as the Baby Mullet. It’s less “business in the front, party in the back” as it is “I’m letting this shit grow out because that’s the social norm and she isn’t old enough to thumb her nose at the social norm yet”.
The problem with cutting a 2 year old’s bangs? Um, everything. I was not about to take her to Perfect Look for a freaking trim because a.) I’m cheap and b.) I hate salons. I hate everything about them. The smells give me a headache, at least one person is snotty for no reason or maybe I just don’t understand how salons and shit work and c.) I’m cheap. So instead, I put the hair I wanted her to grow out in a ponytail, took her and Monsieur Stoic outside, and sat her on his lap. Then I pulled out the scissors.
I should not be allowed to play with scissors.
She moved. I slipped. Then I made that mistake where you try to cut too much hair at once so it cuts crooked. And then she moved while I made that move.
Needless to say, I probably should have spent the twelve fucking dollars.