Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Know better...

I was reading a post last night about car seat safety, and was fully on board and in agreement with everything this mom was saying (I can be a bit of a car seat safety Nazi myself, we all have our flaws), until the end. She  ended her informative, cleverly written post with "Know better, do better".


People. There are few things that get me all riled up more than that phrase. Frankly, it makes me want to slap the person saying it. It comes off as smug, arrogant and makes you sound like a know it all.

Instead of having the attitude of "Hey, I learned this stuff and thought other parents might want to know it to help keep their kids safe" it turns it into, "I know how to keep MY children safe, and I deign to impart my wisdom on you, so that you can be a better parent - like me".  Just shut up at that point. You might have helpful information, but no one wants helpful information with a side a judgement and arrogance.

Do you think that parents were unaware of the information you're providing them? Ok, then inform them. Help them. Don't make them feel like they're shitty parents in comparison to you because they didn't know whatever the hell wisdom it is you're sharing with the world.

Better yet - share that hey, you didn't know this either and thought other parents might find the information useful. Parenting has a learning curve, we're all figuring stuff out as we go and we're all learning new things all the time. Sharing the things we learn is great - sharing your holier than thou attitude is not.

Because I can be a contrary bitch, when I read your "know better, do better" I think to myself, "No! Fuck off! I do what I want!" and your information is somewhat lost on me. While I will admit that being a contrary bitch is somewhat of a personality flaw on my part, I am also aware that there are many other contrary bitches out there in the world who might react the same way.

Look, all I'm saying is cut the crappy judgement out. There's more than enough of it in the parenting world, let's not incorporate it into the ways we share newly learned parenting information too.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

But, WHY?

We have entered the "Why?" phase.

Part of me embraces My Big Guy's curiosity and desire to learn about the world. I love that he wants to learn, that he wants know how things work, and why things are they way they are.

The other part of me, well, not so much.

I'm flattered that he thinks I know the answers to such pressing questions as, "Why is that street named Alabama?" or "Why are those people at the Arboretum?" but no, I do not.  Unfortunately, "I don't know" is not an acceptable answer.  My "I don't know," is merely met with another, "Why? Why don't you know?" Sometimes I can get away with a "Cause that's just the way it is," but not often.

Let's break down the "why's" of our car ride this afternoon.

"Why are we going down this street?"
"What does that sign say?"  (This is a new favorite question that falls into the same category - I love that he wants to read so badly, but he's sitting in the backseat and I have no idea what sign he's pointing at and on the rare occasions that I can figure it out it's usually a street sign and when he starts asking his he asks it about literally every street sign we pass. Every. Single. One.)
"Why is that street called (whatever the street's name is)?"
"Why are those cars on the highway?"
"Why aren't we on the highway?"  (or the alternate, "Why ARE we on the highway?" - if we're taking the highway he wants to be on "regular roads" and if we're on "regular roads" he wants to be on the highway.  It's great having to justify my route of choice to a three and a half year old)
"Why can't we get a car wash?" (both boys are big fans of the car wash and fail to understand why it's not a daily occurrence)
"Why is (My Little Guy) singing?"
"Why do you have the radio on?" (To drown out the constant noise from the backseat perhaps?)
"Why are those people getting gas?"
"Why don't we need gas?"
"Why are we passing those cars?" (Cause mommy has a lead foot and road rage my dear, that's why)
"Why are those cars going the other way?"
"Why is there still snow?" (To be fair, I'm asking the same damn question every fucking day)
"Why is it spring?"
"Why is the sun so bright?"
"Why is it daytime?"
"Why are those birds flying?"
"Why is there a tunnel under the highway?"
"Why are we turning here?" (the route justification really gets me for some reason)
"Why is there a store here?"
"Why can't I take my shoes off?"
"Why is that car turning there?"
"Why aren't we turning there?"

I think you get the drift.

And then, oh then, he has also started with the ever popular "Are we there yet?" which is just the icing on the question cake.

Again, it's awesome that he's curious and everything but I also just want some damn peace and quiet sometimes, especially in the car. I try very hard not to let my frustration at my constant interrogation show, and try to answer all his questions as best as I can but sometimes, as an introvert who needs some peace and quiet on a regular basis it drives me up a wall.

Something that I struggle with as a parent is the constant change. I am a creature of habit and routine and each habit and routine only lasts so long with kids. They're constantly growing and changing and developing and I have to do the same along with them.

In this case, it means I have to stop counting on car trips as a time to get my quiet recharging time and figure out another way to make that happen for myself.

And maybe invest in a portable DVD player.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Terrorist Yogurt

We have just returned home from a glorious week in the sunny, warm desert of Palm Springs, CA.  I'm fairly certain that if I hadn't gotten the hell out of Chicagoland sometime soon I was going to lose it, this winter was just too much.  Too much!

We made the 2 hour trek to Disneyland where we spent a Magical Day with good friends.  We swam, a lot. We went to parks that weren't covered in snow.  We didn't wear winter coats - hell, we wore tank tops and shorts and flip flops.  We worried about sunburn instead of frostbite.

It was awesome.

You know what wasn't awesome?  The travel experience.  I'm looking at you American Airlines, and you especially, TSA.

Traveling with small children is hard on its own.  Then you get the asswipes at American Airlines and the fucking TSA who, I am convinced, are actually trying to make it harder.

To be fair, our O'Hare security experience went very smoothly (if you ever travel with small children, bring your stroller - they see that shitstorm coming and they open up special security lines for you since they know you'll take forever, it's great).  Nothing out of the ordinary, no special treatment other than the new line.  American Airlines was actually helpful there - they rearranged some seats so that our family was actually sitting together (we were scattered in single seats throughout the plane before - I would have loved to see what My Little Guy's seatmate would have said if I had plopped him down and walked over to my seat), they gate-checked the stroller without incident or comment.  It was all fine.

What wasn't fine was the flight attendant being up all up in my business about having to hold My Little Guy when the seatbelt sign was on.  Look lady, he's not even 2.  No, he's not going to sit in a seat with a seatbelt on and his hands folded in his lap waiting until the damn light goes off to continue to mess with the SkyMall catalog and vomit bags.

This entertained him for much longer than expected.

He's going to scream and kick and fight me when I try to hold/restrain him for the 30 minutes you're demanding I do it.  If you're not going to get up someone's ass for getting up and using the damn bathroom when the seatbelt light is on than stop bugging me about making my kid miserable.  I'm not a moron, if the turbulence gets crazy guess what - I'll grab him and hold him tightly then.  Until then, he's cool standing between my husband and I.  If you're letting the dude in 12B stand up and rifle through his bag, why can't my kid lean against his seat?

We ended up getting diverted to Denver, and then when we were 30 minutes away from there they decided that Dallas was better. So what was supposed to be a 4 hour direct flight into PSP ended up being a 9 hour flight with a 40 minute layover in Dallas.  And then My Big Guy threw up on the rough landing into PSP.  And then I threw up as soon as I got off the plane.

I'll give you that in theory, that wasn't AA's fault, but I just hate them so much and I enjoy casting irrational blame when puke is involved.  But they gave us meal vouchers (which we ended up not having enough time to use at DFW) and 5,000 bonus miles for our troubles, so it's all fair now, right?  *snorts*

Our return flight involved drama at the airport rather than in the air.

I have traveled with small children a number a times now.  I know the security drill.  And it's asinine.

First off, the process is supposed to be the same across the board, but while security was a breeze at O'Hare, it was a fucking nightmare at PSP.

They did not open up a new line for us.  They made us wait with the masses, which was fine because PSP is a small airport (unlike ORD) and the line wasn't too bad.

That's where the good news stops.

We unpack all our shit, get it in those plastic bins and get ready to walk through the X-Ray machine (ok, fine, another good thing - when traveling with small children you get to skip the naked body image machine cause your kids won't hold still long enough for it to work).  The TSA dude wants my kids to walk through by themselves.  My Big Guy is ok with this.  My Little Guy, not so much.  He's terrified.  The TSA dude is yelling at me that he has to go by himself.  I look up at him, and as I walk through holding My Little Guy's hand say, "That's clearly not an option for him."  TSA dude says and does nothing.  Surprise, surprise.

Now, I am a mom who is prepared for shit.  I had a backpack full of snacks for my kids.  Especially after our 14 hour door to door travel adventure to get to PSP I wanted to be prepared for anything.  I had the audacity to bring sealed yogurt pouches and baby Tylenol in my carry-on bag.  Oh, and my kids each had a cup half filled with milk, because I'm starting their terrorist training early, obviously.  While none of these things raised an eyebrow at ORD (I believe the woman took the cups and tested them while we were putting our shit through the X-Ray machine so no time was lost) they raised hell at PSP.

While the rest of my family (we were traveling with my in-laws too) got the all clear, I was flagged as a threat because I was dangerously traveling with small children and snacks specifically designed (and sealed!) for small children.

My entire bag had to be emptied out, but of course I couldn't do it.  The milks had to be tested, but of course the agent didn't have any of the materials to test it with at his stand and had to wait about 7 minutes for someone to bring them to him - you see, I, as a terrorist threat, could not be left alone.  Then we got into an argument in which he wanted to open and test all 4 yogurt pouches I had.  You can tell that PSP doesn't see a lot of kids/babies because I also once had this argument with someone about opening my RTF formula bottles when my kids were younger.  No.  You cannot open my sealed food because then I'd have to throw it all away.  I know it raises a lot of suspicion that a mom might be bringing snacks for her kids on the plane, but I promise it's just regular yogurt - not terrorist yogurt.  I eventually won (of course I did), and he agreed not to open my yogurt but I'm pretty sure I didn't win myself a new friend in the process.  I'm pretty sure he, and everyone in a 40 foot radius could feel the rage waves I was sending out.

The best (or worst, really) part was the molestation pat-down.  I do not know what creepo thought this process up but for the love of all that is holy, please don't give me a 5 minute speech on what you're going to do AND THEN also narrate it as you're doing it ("I'm rubbing the back of my hand over your buttocks.").  Just fucking get it over with.  And then, THEN, the bitch had the balls to ask me to "lift my shirt up a bit" so she could see the waistband of my pants.  What. The. Fuck.  Fine, the good passengers at PSP got a nice glimpse of flabby, pale, Midwestern mom tummy.  Because I dared to bring children's Tylenol and yogurt pouches with me.

I got to take my shoes off and put them on 4 different times, because the dude and the chick TSA agents couldn't agree on whether or not they were done with them.

They fully unpacked my backpack and made zero attempt to repack, instead handing it to me and saying unceremoniously, "You're done, you're clear."

Really?  You mean my yogurt and children's Tylenol AREN'T going to blow up the plane?  What a relief.  I'm sure all the other passengers felt safer knowing that you left no inch of my body untouched and tested my milk and yogurt for explosives.

Look, I get that we need security.  But all I'm looking for here in some fucking common sense.  "Hey look, there's a family with small children traveling with snacks that are made for small children, let's assume that they're going to use that yogurt to feed their kids, and NOT blow up a plane."  That would be nice, wouldn't it?