Wednesday, March 27, 2013

That thing will rot your brain

Between my personal life as a parent in New York City and my professional life in children's retail, I have seen every type of parent: sweet, curt, warm, demeaning, generous, nasty, fun, and so on. My own capricious behavior means that I can get along with most of them... though there is truly no pleasing some people (*C.U. Next Tuesdays). Despite what I have seen, the most judgmental, condescending, b!tchy mom that I have to deal with on a regular basis is actually me.

I am my harshest critic; ever-present, ever-judging. My biggest problem is that I criticize myself for all the things I believe other people to judge. In case that didn't make sense (because it didn't) I will clarify: I don't tend to vilify myself for stuff that annoys me because I know it annoys me and I either get over it or stop doing it. But I am incredibly horrible to myself when it comes to things that other people may possibly despise. If I think someone can judge me poorly for something, I will usually beat them to the punch and judge myself accordingly. I use my perception of what other parents are critical of as a standard bar, not for the raising of my daughter, but for critiquing myself on the raising of my daughter. This has got to stop.

My example today is television, a fairly divisive issue for parents. I hate myself for letting my child watch tv, even though I don't really have a problem with it. I used to have the tv on in the background all the time. I could tune it out and sometimes I would pick up a tidbit of information, pop-culture or otherwise. Since becoming a mom, I have stopped the constant tv in the hope that my daughter would not become hooked. And yet in the morning when I need to shower or in the evening when I need to cook her dinner (both of which happen most, but by no means all days), I feel perfectly comfortable sitting her down in front of the tv with a snack or drink to watch while I get sh!t done. 

Now, some of you will say "so the F what" and some of you will say "that's terrible. A child under two shouldn't watch any tv, let alone know most of the characters and show names." The fact is, I say both. I have a love/hate relationship with tv. I hate that she loves it. I love that she learns from it. I hate that she gets so annoyed when I won't put it on. I love that I have something that can entertain her and calm her down when necessary. Mostly I hate that I feel like a sh!tty mom for giving in and letting her watch, when I don't really think I am a sh!tty mom. And I hate that I get so worked up about something I actually like. 

Yes, I like tv. I am actually a bit of a tv addict. I had a tv in my room from a very young age.  I cannot be communicated with while I am watching tv, much to the chagrin of my husband, mother, sister and a few dear friends that know this about me. I am also one of those people who can fall asleep with the tv on. So I can either be absorbed by it entirely or ignore it completely. 

My issue with television is the perceived horror that some people have when hearing that you let your kid watch it. I don't believe in no screen time before two... and in case that double negative was too confusing for you: I believe it is ok for a child under two to have time in front of a screen. Some people disagree. I hate feeling like I have to make excuses when I don't know how other people feel about it.

Why am I constantly reassuring myself that it is OK for her to watch a little? I keep beating myself up for letting my kid watch tv, when what I really need to beat myself up for is not getting over it. Why is it so hard to either accept that this is what I am doing and move on, or change it, if it bothers me so much?

For some reason I just can't get over it, the internal nagging continues. It is a good example of the Type A vs. Type B mommy battle that I mentioned in Mommy Blah-g.
Type A (Awesome mommy) reads to my daughter every day.
Type B (Bad mommy) lets her get in bed in the morning so I can snooze for an extra 10-15 minutes while she watches Sesame Street.
Type A only lets her watch educational shows.
Type B knows Peppa Pig isn't really educational. But she loves that G-ddamn Pig family so much! You tell her not to watch. I can't do it.

She also loves jumping in muddy puddles... serves me right
I do believe that she learns while watching tv. Naturally I think she's brilliant (*gratuitous parental gush) and I don't think it all comes down to what we teach her in our times of engaged one-on-one play. She does not watch violent shows, she watches shows that are created for children. And I believe/hope they are meant to be educational. However, I am having a tough time getting past this self-inflicted guilt. 

A few days ago my daughter started crying when I wouldn't put on one of her shows. In a moment of weakness I gave in because a) it was still pretty early in the evening, b) she had been cranky all day and c) I wasn't in the mood for tears. I instantly got annoyed with myself not only for giving in, but because a child her age (almost two) shouldn't need anything, aside from food and sleep, with such over-the-top dramatic passion. 

I had that in my head the next morning when I decided there would be no technology that day. All day I ignored requests for the tv, the iPad, my phone, I even denied her request to listen to music because it plays through the computer. We went for a walk, I took her to a class, we drew pictures, we did puzzles. And because I am not totally serious about our ability to avoid all technology, we played with all of her toys, including the ones that sing, buzz, play music and "act" like real phones or computers. And we had a lovely day. With technology in check I felt like a great mother and a really good person. Of course when she went down for a nap I was on my phone and the computer alternately for two hours straight. But moderation for her is a very good thing. I believe they call that "do as I say, not as I do"-style parenting. So, having conceived and executed the no-technology-for-her test, I can proudly state that I passed with flying colors. But as a lifestyle choice, we are still WAY off.

Somehow I need to reconcile my guilt for letting her watch tv because who am I kidding, I can't actually give it up entirely. That's just something I say after watching Real Housewives, or an equally mind-numbing show, for a few hours straight. I have no intention of actually following through on a technology ban for us all, so it's time to move on and let myself off the hook a bit. Seriously, I can be such a pain in the a$$ sometimes.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Driving Miss Crazy

If you think I am a pain in the ass as a pedestrian, you should see me behind the wheel. Unlike many New Yorkers, I drive pretty regularly. Which is not to say I am good at it, but compared to some of the other drivers in this city, I should be eligible for a few awards. The more I drive, the angrier I get. If there were road rage Olympics, I'd Usain Bolt the hell out of them.

So, a funny thing happened in the news this week. A Maryland woman got a ticket for failing to drive in the right lane as she was driving two miles under the speed limit. This is funny for a few reasons. 
1-It qualified as news, which is a clear indication that the media has just given up entirely and is no longer even trying to serve the purpose for which it was created - delivering information that people actually NEED, and 
2- It warranted a full group discussion on the Today Show, which in my eyes is a fair assessment of the journalistic integrity shown by the Today Show. Sure, the story is no "Girl That Can't Stop Hiccuping," but it is riveting in its own way.

On any given day, my mom and countless others like her can be found citing the "pundits" of morning television. The groundbreaking nuggets of information these "pundits" disseminate include: why we should be scared sh!tless about common household items, why something or other is going to kill us imminently, why we shouldn't trust various people - guilty or merely accused, why a certain celebrity is bat-sh!t crazy, and in this particular case, why Matt Lauer, the show he represents, and the industry that show represents, all suck.

Shifty eyes, shady character
I don't care much for Matt Lauer. I once heard a rumor he cheats on his beautiful wife, which is, indeed, just a rumor, but I can't get past it. Then there was the whole Ann Curry debacle. No one wrongs the lovely Ann Curry and gets away with it in my book. She made that show legitimate, and I have stopped watching it since her departure. Partially because it lacks the substance it once had (not much to begin with), and partially because I'd rather watch Sid the Science Kid in the morning. Now that is a show worth mentioning, with their message of inter-racial harmony and devotion to science education for our children. But I will save my sociological analysis of children's programming for another time. The main reason I dislike him is because I believe that all news people, especially those with a national platform, should be unbiased, and I find his presenting to be anything but unbiased.  

But back to the story: Matt Lauer gathered his "pundits" for a segment discussing the ticket issued to the unnamed woman for driving too slow. My mom told me all about 'The Great Debate,' as NO ONE will ever call it. The crackpot team of professionals got to chatting and Lauer took the position that she should not have received the ticket, just a warning. Of course, you and I know better. Matt, you could not be more wrong.

Normal driving rules, and many a highway sign state very clearly that the left lane is not intended for regular driving. It is intended for passing. Driving slow in the left lane impedes the flow of traffic. There are few things as frustrating to a driver as people that drive slower than the speed limit in the fast lane. This ticket was not only justified, but a glorious tribute to all of those who have suffered the indifference of the left lane "cruiser." Regardless of whether it was in the interest of safety (the driver said she had concerns about the windy conditions, so she slowed down), she should have moved over first. A driver should be able to drive as fast or slow as they want, but do it in the right lane. Let this be a lesson to you all, and therefore serve some greater purpose: bad driving will not be tolerated. The left lane is for passing only, fast passing to be precise. Let's keep things moving.

Rules for passing on the left are necessary when you are walking too. For more on that, see my post: Road Rules. I may be angry, but at least I'm consistent.

I am also going to call bullsh!t on the driver for not releasing her name. It sounds like she hand-delivered the story to the news agencies. Yes, I am holding out hope that no journalist would ever seek out such drivel. Hey lady, if you are bold enough to go to the news with it, hike up your skirt and tell us your name.

Oh yes feminists, please get fired up. Let's face it, this sh!t does happen to the ladies a heck of a lot more than the men. I have a solid working knowledge of stereotypes. I have to admit, in some cases (mostly related to driving) they exist for a reason: women, the elderly, taxi cab drivers... you get my point. There are a bunch of people out there making it hard to do away with these stereotypes altogether. But don't direct your feminist anger at me, direct it at the sh!tty lady drivers who won't even step forward and admit who they are.

But back to the story of the non-speeding speeding ticket. I am so damn happy to hear about it. I want to shake the hand of the Maryland Police Officer who gave it to her. Enforcing rules that help us move more efficiently and help alleviate frustration is an honorable thing. As opposed to traffic cops, who do the exact opposite. So I salute that individual here.
I'm pretty sure I have a lot more to say about the many causes of road rage, but that is enough for today.

Don't drive like a turd.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Enough of this sh!t

I love dogs. I might not ever own one due to my husband's allergies - even to so-called "hypo-allergenic" dogs. Yes, those exist. But I do love them. I had a dog growing up (Spartacus), I have dogs in my family, my friends have dogs, and I love them all. But I take major exception to some of the dog owners in my neighborhood. They might love dogs, but they also seem hellbent on making their neighbors hate dogs in the form of poo abuse. Some people pick up their poo, but not all, and this is becoming a big problem for me.

The Canine Waste Law, more familiarly known as the "pooper scooper" law, first introduced in New York City in 1978, requires all dog walkers to pick up their pet's waste in all public areas.

The law, 161.03 of the New York City Health Code, states, “A person who owns, possesses or controls a dog, cat or other animal shall not permit the animal to commit a nuisance on a sidewalk of any public place.” 

So technically, they shouldn't even be committing the act... but it's not really the act I have a problem with, it is the clean-up and removal of said nuisance. The mayor at the time the law was passed, the late, great Ed Koch said "if you've ever stepped in dog doo, you know how important it is to enforce the canine waste law."

He's right. It's a great law. Do you know why it's great? Because it's intent was that we all don't have to step in dog sh!t every day... in theory. You kind of have to wonder what society is coming to that this falls under enforceable laws and not simple common sense. But do you know what sucks? It is rarely enforced and therefore very easy to ignore. I am sick of having to count on karma to get these bastards back for their laziness.

I have a child. With that child came a whole slew of responsibilities. Dog owners have their own set of responsibilities that come with their little ones. I have to clean up after my child, no matter how messy or disgusting her poo is. [Just so we're clear, no one can step in my kid's poo if I were to leave it there!] The same should be true for dog owners. Why do they think they don't have to clean up just because their dog is ill?  I skipped out on showing you pictures here because a) it's really disgusting and b) I didn't want to be the weird lady taking pictures of dog poo in the street. You can earn a very strange reputation very easily in my hood. Just ask sandals-in-the-winter guy or walks-her-cat-on-a-leash lady.

But it's not just when they leave a horrible liquid mess for me to avoid as I innocently walk down the street. I'm also talking to the person who lets their dog sh!t on top of a mound of snow and leaves it there. Did I seriously witness several examples of this?? Yes, and again, no pictures, but you have to believe me. I seriously don't get it. That is just about the most straight forward, easy clean up possible. It's not going to melt and disappear like the snow you know. Now it just sits atop a pedestal for us to gaze upon? Gross!

I'm also talking to the person who lets their dog sh!t on grates. You can obviously see that it didn't fall through. Was that what you were hoping for? I understand that you might lose some of the poo between the grates as you clean it up, but give it a f#$%ing shot, will you?

I'm also not a huge fan of the people that curb their dog and think it's ok to leave it there, just off the curb sitting in the street, either. It's simple physics... if you've ever been near a street cleaner as it passes, all sorts of sh!t gets kicked up from the bristles, and in this case I mean literal sh!t. Disgusting.

And just a reminder to all of the dog owners out there: removing only some of the poo is pretty much the same as not removing any. I don't care how big the original pile was, there is still some there for us to step in you fool! Clean it up!

Do they leave their houses like this? If their dog relieves himself in the living room, do they just leave it there? I'm not sure why I would be happier to hear them say yes when that obviously makes it so much worse, but I would. Consistency is comforting.

I currently walk the city with a stroller, which means I don't always see exactly what is in front of me, often to horrendous ends. Do you know how hard it is to get dog poo off a stroller wheel? It's f#$%ing hard. And if you do know, did you know that finding a patch of grass to randomly roll through helps get the poo off, but it doesn't make you feel good about yourself? You should know that part.

All I am asking is that you clean up after your dog. If not for common sense rules of decency or the law which states you must, then just do it for the rest of us who may or may not be attentive enough to watch out for these little landmines you leave behind. Otherwise, I can only hope that as you walk around Hell, you will constantly have dog sh!t on your foot, and human poo on your head. Justice at last!
Oh, sh!t!