Thereís lots of parenting stuff floating around in the world telling you how to be awesome. Cheery websites, books, glossy magazines, people who Tweet like rabid gerbils offering well-meaning (or snotty!) advice on how to be a loving, healthy, functional parent. Today Iím here to tell you how to be a crappy one. Moreover, Iím here to tell you that every once in awhile, itís OK to be one. Itís natural. Some days, you just need to give yourself a big fat F. For furry. Like my legs.
Today, Andrew had to be home with me. This is unfortunate, because I threw out my back the other day and Iíve been hobbling around like a grandmother. Despite this, work and life must go on. For whatever reason, he awoke at 7:30 in a foul mood. It took the combined mechanical skills of both of us to hoist him from his crib. He refused to eat breakfast. He rejected my offerings of granola bars, waffles, and cereal, going so far as to dump his Cheerios all over the floor and grind them into our (possibly fake) Oriental rug with his bare feet. Nice.
Finally, in a desperate attempt to get him to eat something, I gave him one of my Luna bars for women. He devoured it. Perhaps heíll grow breasts by nightfall. Weíll see.
Then he demanded to watch ďBaba,Ē also known as Yo Gabba Gabba. If I have to hear ďShake shake shake, it off! Shake, shake, shake, back and forth!Ē one more time, I will shake the television until it explodes. Normally, I wouldnít give in to daytime TV. But today I clicked on the television and he zoned out, zombie-like, for two hours. I peered over my laptop every now and then, checking to make sure he was breathing regularly. He couldnít have been happier. His hands were flailing, his eyes were glazed, and he was quiet enough for me to file two stories and send some pressing emails.
Meanwhile, I remained in my pajamas. A word for the pajamas: These things have been in my Plan B rotation since 1999. Because I pulled out my back, I canít go to the basement to do laundry. I asked Brian to step in, but he insisted that the hamper was only half full. Meanwhile, a moist pile of rancid jeans have been inching their way toward the ceiling since Sunday. Long story short, these pajamas (the elastic waist on which has long since given out) are my only clothing option. Also, theyíre just frayed enough so that my leg hair, which I cannot shave because I cannot bend, is poking out through the cotton. Surely everyone has a pair of pants like this, right?
Anyway, I finally wrenched Andy from his zombie TV trance for a diaper change because I couldnít endure the nose-twirling odor any longer. This was a misguided impulse. He bucked like a maniac on the changing table, proceeding to kick me in the teeth (twice) and flip over, rendering his changing pad filthy. I finally got him in a clean diaper and a onesie that hasnít fit since November, paired with sweatpants that are at least two inches too long. I yanked Ďem up to his nipples and sent him toward the kitchen. Between my droopy pajamas and his neck-high sweatpants, we looked ready for a day of nursing-home bingo.
Lunch was a fiasco. Oddly, he refused my luscious homemade chili and instead opted for a handful of cheesy goldfish. I made myself a tuna sandwich, which for some reason caught his eye. He yanked my plate from the table, trotted into the living room, put a fistful of tuna in his mouth, and then smeared the rest all over the sofa. Of course, Iím out of Febreze, so I simply dabbed the fishy-mayo combo with water and flipped the cushion over (to reveal a whole new set of stains), opening the windows and praying for an early sunset. Brianís going to be delighted when he sits down for SportsCenter tonight!
At this point, someone was calling me for work and Andy was whimpering. Naptime. Wincing in pain, I put him in his crib with his pacifier and shut the door. He got into slumber position, butt in the air and muttering. Strangely, though, instead of drifting into a peaceful sleep, he began to moan, unabated, which ultimately climaxed in a series of yowls. It was at this point that the phone rang again, with an attorney on the other line, wanting to discuss the terms of a contract for work. Iíd been waiting for this call a week.
Sometimes you have split-second moments as a parent: Do I do the right thing for my kid, or do the right thing for me? I chose me. I shut the bedroom door and answered the phone. As Andrew bellowed in the background, I discussed arcane legal terminology on my front porch (quietest place in the house) as cars whizzed past, their drivers probably wondering when Arlington opened an insane asylum.
I tiptoed back inside. Andrew had drifted to sleep. I managed to do an hour of work until he woke up again, angry for some unknown reason. I got out his puzzles. He played with them for a minute, then grumbled. I pulled out his toy kitchen and requested that he make me pizza. Probably remembering the tuna incident, he didnít buy it. Finally he stomped toward the television and uttered those dreaded words: ďBABA!Ē I turned the TV on yet again. At this point, he turned beet red and grimaced. Note: Luna Bars will make your child constipated.
At this writing, Andrew has logged at least four hours of television. Our house smells like a combination of tuna fish and dirty laundry. Iím still in my pajamas. I think I did all my work, but Iím really not sure. I just gave Andrew a bowlful of animal crackers, and in a couple minutes, I might brush my teeth. Brian isnít due home until approximately 2013, because the Red Line broke down this morning and he got to work late. And, after my series of hostile Gchat messages to him, Iím sure heíll take his time getting here, too.
But itís OK. In a few minutes, a friend is coming over. Sheís had a bad day too. Sheís bringing her toddler and a bottle of wine. She just texted asking what kind I want. ďPotent,Ē was all I replied. Weíve all been here. And, hey, if she doesnít want to sit on the couch, I wonít blame her.
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