December 2011 archive

Instruction Manual

So I just figured out why kids don’t come with an instruction manual.

Abraham learned how to walk like a pro over Christmas and has been carrying his toys around from one side of the house to the other. He is also in what’s turning out to be the hardest phase we’ve faced since he was about 4 months old: the transition from 2 naps to 1 nap. As Abe does with most things, he’s stretching this out like a teenage girl with bubble gum wrapped around her finger: longer than you even thought possible. And once again I’m looking around my tribe and asking, “Why did no one tell me about this?!?!” Because every time I mention the 2 naps to 1 conundrum we’re currently in, everyone smiles and nods knowingly. KNOWINGLY. If you knew then why didn’t you SAY something??
Let’s add to the hardest phase ever, shall we?  Can anyone say MOLARS? Or should I ask, WHY DIDN’T ANYONE SAY MOLARS?! This child is a whine factory, and not the kind that mommy likes to visit (or perhaps sleep in) on vacation. Moaning, screeching, whining, and smacking himself in and about the face are all included in this joyous process of growing our most important and utilized teeth. And unlike other teeth, when the molar finally does break through the gum it doesn’t mean the fun’s over. It means the REST of the molar has to climb through and it’s carrying jagged little edges with it.

So what is the reason kids don’t come with an instruction manual, or some kind of coach? Because we couldn’t handle all the instructions at once anyway. If someone had told me when Abe started napping regularly that in 6 months he was going to go completely crazy again or in 8 months he was going to scream so hysterically every time something came near his mouth that DCFS randomly appeared at my door, I would have thrown in the towel. We get the most we can handle at any given time and then, the universe cuts it off.

“Ok, she knows enough. Anymore and we’ll have to find a foster family.”

The good news is every phase comes with something kind of awesome. Abe suddenly says “mama” and “dada” to the right person, he understands how to play with toys, he feeds himself well and is learning how to say what he wants and doesn’t want. He laughs at appropriate things and enjoys watching movies with me. When I point to show him something, he looks intently and exitedly to see what I might want to share with him…

As I wrote that last section, Abraham walked into my room, pitched forward on the edge of a tennis shoe, and slammed head first into the bedside table. I spent the next 20 minutes feeding him ice water to try and stop the blood pouring from his lip. Busted lips are popular with Abe. In the process I discovered an instruction manual I can share. So here goes…

How to get blood out of your favorite sweatshirt.

1. Douse in cold water as soon as possible.
2. Find your favorite stain removing soap. Mine happens to be a cheap, sister-in-law recommended bar of laundry soap called Felsnaptha. You can get it in the laundry section of your grocery store. It’s amazing.

It's like a hundred years old.

3. Rub stain removing soap over the stain vigorously. Work up a good lather. You may choose to use your laundry toothbrush for this. You have one of those, right?
4. Wait 5 minutes and then throw into the laundry machine on delicate/cold.
5. Check the sweatshirt before drying. If the blood is still visible, repeat steps 2, 3 and 4.
6. Rejoice in the fact that there are SOME instructions that come with having a child.


This One Writes Itself

It’s SO great when I have a day that writes my blog for me.

This morning I got up and I put on my riot gear to start my weekend taking care of a 15 month old and a sick 31 year old while trying to get through my todo list.
The first half of the morning went off without a hitch until Abraham decided to skip his morning nap. So I made lemonade; we went Christmas shopping together. We had 2 more stops after JoAnn Fabrics and we were on a roll. In and out, slip and slide, shop and drop and other catchy sayings as well. I popped Abe in the back seat, tossed my bag in the front seat, and walked around to the driver’s side door when…

That’s the sound it made in my head.
What’s a “BOMP” you ask? It’s the sound your door makes when it doesn’t open because it’s locked. With your kid in the backseat.
Ok, this has happened before and there’s always a door open. Just walk around calmly to each door.

Every. Single. Door. Is. Locked.

Yep. I’m that mom. I’m standing in Joann Fabric’s parking lot, staring at my son, who locked inside my car. It took a few minutes before the panic set in. And when it did, I ran like I did when I was in cross country in high school. (If you know me at all, you know I was a theatre nerd in high school.)
“Excuse me? Can I call 911? I locked my baby in the car.” It started. I got a million, “Oh you poor mom who’s too busy to make sure her child is safe” looks. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. Just let me call.
“Don’t worry, ma’am, we have someone on the way and we’ve called Pop-A-Lock. Just go back to your car and wait for the officer.”
I “cross-countried” back to my car and looked in the back window. Abraham saw me, smiled, and waved. He was clearly in a state of shock.
I stood behind my car pacing, looking, searching. Where in the hell is the cop? Or the Pop-A-Lock car? COME ON. It’s been like 5 minutes. This is Jacksonville. WHAT ELSE DO YOU HAVE TO DO??
And then, way off in the distance, I heard the sirens. Oh come on, I thought. Are sirens really necessary, officer? As if I’m not humiliated enough? But then I realized it wasn’t enough to send a police officer. That is not a cop car siren. That is a fire truck siren. A freaking fire truck. For a split second I considered hiding behind my car until they left and calling AAA, but I thought better and threw my hands up. For like 30 seconds. It took FOREVER for this firetruck to see me. He just slowly trolled the parking lot, siren blaring, while I jumped up and down flailing my arms. For a moment I thought he was playing a little firetruck prank on me, like something they do to the new guy. He finally did he turned his siren off, which at this point in the little parking lot seemed like a bit much…until the second firetruck pulled in behind him. Yep. That’s two FULL LENGTH fire trucks surrounding my car on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. THIS IS MY LIFE.
As the firemen emerged, a woman trying to get her car out next to me gave me a half dirty, half wtf? look. “Hi. Sorry! Mother of the year!” I said as I raised my hand. Somehow it wasn’t funny to her.
An ONSLAUGHT of firefighters surrounded my car (none of them hot). Abraham thought this was about the greatest thing ever and he waved at all of them. One of the firetrucks immediately left. Even the firemen knew my son wasn’t in enough danger to warrant 2 firetrucks.
Now it’s been about 15 minutes since I locked my only child in the car and I was standing outside of it with a firefighter making small talk about how “this happens all the time” and “one time his wife locked their child in a bedroom…” surrounded by a lot of pissed of Christmas shoppers with their cars blocked by a firetruck. That’s when Mr. Nosey Pants decided NOW would be a good time to come over and talk to me. I don’t know Mr. Nosey Pants. I’m not sure anyone in Florida does.
“What happened?!” He shouted/asked me as if he knew me and I was going to shout, “OH LEN, OH THANK GOD LEN, YOU’RE HERE.”
“What happened? I locked my kid in the car, that’s what happened,” I responded dryly.
“Oh no! You don’t have a key??”
I’ll let you come up with your own witty punchline of a response here. I was a little distracted so the best I could muster was, “Well, stranger, if I had the key…”
“Oooooo!” Mr. Nosey Pants smiled knowingly. “You’d open it if you had the key!”
“Thaaaat’s right!”
“You know what you need?”
“Oh please, tell me what I need.”
“You need to hide a key in your bumper! That’s what I do! That’s my car right over there!”
“Ok! Great! I’ll make sure to let everyone know that’s your car with the spare key hidden in the bumper.”

“Ma’am. Pop-A-Lock just phoned. They should be here within 5 minutes,”  the firefighter interrupted Mr. Nosey Pants.
“Oh good, ok great.”
“If it’s more than 20 minutes, I’m going to have to break that back window just to ensure he’s safe.”
“Fine, whatever.” I checked on Abe again. More smiling and waving. Smallest emergency ever.

Pop-A-Lock arrived and did exactly what their name describes within about 30 seconds. He opens the door, flips the unlock button, and the firefighter pushes me out of the way to get into the back seat with Abe. This is the best game yet, for Abe, and he begins to clap and crack up. “I think he’s fine,” I say.
“Yeah. I think he’s going to be OK. Have a great day, ma’am. Merry Christmas!”
“I’m Jewish.”
“Merry Christmas!”
I got into the driver’s seat and saw my phone had several text messages from my husband, so I wrote, “Just got into the car thanks to the work of several dozen firefighters. We’re on our way home.”
And the first thing he said? “Well, that’s a blog.”



When Abe was born I looked so forward to our visits to the pediatrician’s office. This is mainly because I typically hadn’t left the house since our last visit, nor talked to an adult aside from my husband. But also because it meant I got some reassurance that my baby was a-okay. As babies become toddlers, the range of “OK” stretches waaaaaay out. Milestones in the first six months usually occur around the same time for all babies and it’s pretty easy to spot an issue. Like if the baby isn’t breathing or taking nourishment. But milestones in the second year?

Doctor, when can I expect him to start walking?

Oh, anywhere between 9 and 18 months.

Doctor, when will be begin talking?

Sometime around month 14. But maybe not until month 22. 

Doctor, when will sleeping no longer be an issue?

Like, when he’s about 9.

Today we had Abe’s 15 month well baby check. They used to call them check-ups. I’m not sure why this changed. The doctor asked if we had any questions before she started going through her list of developmental milestones. Of course, I explained how my “friend” had told me through a complete stranger that my son had a head disease and would  never speak. She checked his head and, guess what? He’s got his father’s big head. No news there.

Then she started asking me all these question. Does he point with his finger? Is he bringing you toys? Does he pretend to take care of a baby doll? (I explained that Abe is a boy and she skipped that question.) How many words does he say? Can he find his belly button? Has he been able to define democracy? Does he feel like Tim Tebow’s fame is warranted based on skill or on personality?

My head started spinning and I immediately began to feel like this was a test for me. I tried to remember every singe thing he’s done in the past 15 months to prove that he had met all of his “milestones”. But alas, he can’t say 15 words yet. And he has never, ever, EVER pretended to put a diaper on a baby doll. He has mounted our dogs and figured out which button to push to turn on the TV and learned to open the front door, stand on the porch and wave at every car that drives by, but none of those were on the test.

When I got home I realized just how competitive these well baby checks make me feel. Like I’m competing with all the other babies in the world whose averages were used to create this baby test. The range for these milestones makes it seem like they shouldn’t even be a milestones. And frankly, they make me feel like a bad parent every time we visit the doc. Because the only reason he can point to ANY of his own body parts is because I was bored one day and I decided to try and teach him. It took forever and I was pretty surprised when he remembered them the next day. So why can’t I just wait until he’s around 3 to teach him his body parts when he’ll have NO problem understanding what I’m trying to teach him?! BECAUSE HE HAS TO KNOW MORE BODY PARTS THAN ALL OF THE OTHER BABIES IN THE WORLD, THAT’S WHY.

I vote we write our own milestone test that every parent can feel good about. You can add your own questions, but I’ll start:
1. How many varieties of Cheerios has your child tried?
2. Can your child tell the difference between a cookie and broccoli, and does he/she prefer the cookie?
3. While your child cannot say any actual words, do you always know what he/she is saying?
4. How many pairs of pants has your child “blown out” of?
5. Are there at least 3 restaurants in town you can never return to?





Don’t be That Guy

We recently flew from California to Florida after the Thanksgiving Holiday.

The first flight was a four and a half hour flight and we got an entire row to ourselves. We played a little bit of hookey when the flight took off. You know that whole, turn off anything with an on-off switch rule? We may have bent it. With a blow torch. Abe sat in my lap by the window and David help the iPad against his left leg facing us. Each time a flight attendant (didn’t we used to call them stewardesses? And why did that become offensive?) walked by announcing it was time to turn everything off, Dave just pushed the iPad screen-down onto the seat. The light all but disappeared as we smiled and nodded in compliance. As soon as she was a few rows up, David propped it back up against his leg. Don’t judge, the plane took off without a hitch and Baby Einstein kept Abe from screaming. You know everyone else was trying to get the last Words with Friends move in before takeoff.

Abe slept for the first hour. When he woke up he had a snack and we played with some distracting toys I packed, including a miniature slinky and a butt-load of stickers. It’s brilliant how stickers both piss him off and fill him with joy, all the while occupying him into silence. At one point during the third hour he gave a few loud shouts. After the fourth or fifth one, I caught the eye of a woman across the aisle. She was in the process of shooting me the dirtiest, snottiest, most I-couldn’t-be-uglier-at-you-if-I-tried look. I smiled. I mean, this child was all but silent for 3 hours. I assumed she was angry because he was having a hard time and she had an overactive sense of empathy.

He was great for the last hour of the flight because we had played movies non-stop. Our neighbors in the row behind us kept remarking on what a good baby he was watching his “shows”. We declined to mention he was slowly being brainwashed by hand puppets.
When we landed he was ready to get off of that damn plane. He fussed and squirmed while we waited to unload. The couple in front of us stood up with what appeared to be pet-carriers. The nasty-faced gal across the aisle asked, “Are those cats?”
“Yes! We’re moving to Baltimore. There are 3 of them in here.”
“Oh wow! I love cats! They were soooooo good on the plane, I can’t believe it.” And then, ready for this? She turns to her friend and says, “They were better than that kid.”
Yep. She said that.
First, I turned into the Incredible Hulk, ripped through the roof of the plane, grabbed her with my giant hand and squeezed her puny little body with the unexplained muffin top until she cried, “PLEASE, PLEASE I’M SORRY PUT ME DOWN. I’M BARREN AND CHILDLESS AND INCREDIBLY ANGRY AT SOME OF MY MOTHER’S CHOICES DURING MY CHILDHOOD.”
Then, I looked at my husband. We gritted our teeth and watched each other’s blood pressure rise. Of course, after I was off the plane, I thought of one thousand witty and insulting things I could have said. But instead I stared directly at her until I knew she could feel my eyes piercing her pathetic, probably never-married skull and I muttered, “Don’t be that guy.”

I don’t even think my husband heard me say it, so I’m pretty sure she didn’t hear me. And I’m kinda glad because that’s not really a creative nor direct way of saying the colorful things I wanted to say. But I think there’s a lesson in all of this that I want to share with you. If you’re on a plane and there’s a baby anywhere near you, immediately tell the parent(s) they’re doing a great job, smile at the baby, and then go about your business. If the baby shouts, cries, or screams, just smile knowingly or offer some type of alcohol. What you’re doing, in essence, is creating an energy that allows airplane karma to continue circulating in a positive direction throughout your life and the lives of your children. Your aircrafts will consistently be on time, smooth, and likely child-free. I’m not a scientist, obviously; these are layman’s explanations. Though I can all but guarantee these results. Anything to the contrary will bring you a lifetime of unhappiness, not to mention engine trouble.

Don’t be that guy.

Are You Ready for This One?!

This entire blog falls under the heading of, “You can’t make this stuff up.” You want to end a really romantic night with your husband on the worst note possible? Check your email.

So it’s Friday night. I go to the gym at 6 and get home close to 7:30. My husband has a beautiful meal for me on the table. We have a fantastic date night at home, complete with two episodes of Dexter in bed, and by 10 o’clock we’re falling asleep (because we’re old now). I roll over to turn my phone off and check any last minute emails. And this is what is in my inbox:

Hi, you don’t know me, but I have two sons with a condition called craniosynostosis. It’s a cranial defect where plates in the skull prematurely fuse. Anyway, I was discussing my son’s condition with several of my friends, and one (who asked to please remain anonymous because she was worried it could possibly offend you) said she thought your son might have the same thing. I’m emailing you because it’s a fairly rare disorder, and is commonly overlooked by pediatricians. It is something that should be taken seriously though. The fused skull can cause points of pressure on the brain which in turn can cause delays. My oldest son with the condition is almost five now, and doesn’t talk (the doctors aren’t sure if it’s related or not in my case, but I think it is).  Anyway, I hope you aren’t offended. I’m writing you only out of concern, and my own experience. I didn’t get a diagnosis until my son was almost 3, and that missed diagnosis was a real set back. I wish I would have had someone looking out for me. Best of luck with everything. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. I can send you pictures of my son for comparison if you’d like.
Name (because I’m not going to be a douche-bag and publish her name)

So first I had a panic attack, silently. Then I read the email to my husband. Then we both had panic attacks, out loud. Then we stared at our son on his monitor. Then I went upstairs and woke Abe up and gave him a bottle and felt his head for 15 minutes. Then I wrote her back:

Who is this?

I wanted to write, “Who the ‘f’ is this?” but I refrained. Because seriously, who the hell is this? Who writes a mom at 10:00 at night to tell her that her child has something wrong with his head according to her friend who shall remain nameless so as not to OFFEND me. I took a few deep breaths. Then I decided this was all a joke or some spam so I entered craniosynostosis into Snopes. I prayed and prayed for hundreds of angry mothers posting their spam emails about babies with misshapen heads, but alas. Zero results.  I started getting teary-eyed. What if something is wrong with my baby?
My husband began to reason it out. It can’t be real, no mom would ever do that to another mom. It can’t be real, who sends this kind of sensitive information in an email? It can’t be real, who sends this kind of sensitive information in an email from their iPhone?
My phone dinged. She wrote back.

My friend asked me not to give you my last name so you couldn’t find me on Facebook, but I only have good intentions. You should just google it and see what you think. I won’t be offended at all if you think I’m misguided and speaking out of place. I am doing this because I wish someone had done it for me. 

So I googled. So did David. And we saw some of the most disturbing-looking children we’d ever seen. We also saw some fairly normal looking children, any of whom could have been Abraham. “His head sort of looks like that, right? Could that be it?” It was an hour before we convinced ourselves we needed to go to sleep and trust that our baby was safe and healthy. I laid there praying for sleep or a Xanax or something. I sat up and wrote her back:

Sure. Send me some pictures of your boys.

And with that, I went to sleep.

The next morning we had a play date with a dear friend who also happens to be a chiropractor. She’s been seeing me since I was pregnant (even adjusted me while I was in labor, though I don’t remember that) and has been adjusting Abe since he was 6 days old. I knew, if anyone would, she could confirm that my child is fine.
I spent the ride to her house feeling very peaceful about that email. I couldn’t help but think no one very close to me would do this to me; they would know it hurt me too much. And God, the Universe, whatever you want to call it, would never give me something that wasn’t perfectly perfect. And if Abraham has a head disease, we’re all going to be ok. He will have the most perfectly perfect head disease of any baby out there. And I will send Christmas pictures of just my baby’s head to everyone in the world with the words, “Craniosynostosis is this beautiful, Happy Holidays, Love, The Big-Headed Cohens.”
And I was right. My friend read the email, reviewed Name‘s son’s pictures, took one look at Abe, and snorted. “Seriously? Abe’s head is fine. He has David’s head. His fontanelle isn’t even finishing closing yet. He’s fine.” That was it. Not even a second thought. And with that, I put all my fears aside.

It wasn’t until several hours later that I realized how incredibly pissed off I was. I cannot imagine ever sending a stranger to tell a friend something so personal, so potentially life changing. How do you bring yourself to do that?! And if you even know me a little, if you’ve read my blog, if you met me even ONCE at BabyGym, you know I’m not easily offended. Having no access to the “friend” who provoked this entire charade, I decided to write Name back. I did it quickly before dinner that night so I couldn’t change my mind.

Name (still not being a total douche-bag and revealing Name’s name),
First, let me tell you that never would I be offended at someone caring about me or my son. It’s not in my nature. Any “friend” of mine would know I’d be far more offended to be approached by a stranger via email regarding something so intensely serious as my son’s health. To be completely honest with you, I’m kind of surprised you agreed to play messenger for my “friend” having kids of your own. Imagine receiving an email at 10 o’clock at night from someone you don’t know telling you there could be something very wrong with your baby. It was one of the worst ways I can imagine to end a day. Anyone who knows me knows I’d much prefer a friend come to me with compassion and honesty. This method was entirely disappointing.
Second, with that all being said, I took your suggestion seriously and looked into it. Our dear friend is a chiropractor with her doctorate. She has been seeing my son from the day he was born for regular adjustments. I showed her your email as well as your boys and she did an exam today but assured me she feels there’s nothing abnormal with his head. His fontanelle is not even finished fusing yet. He has an well-baby check this week and I will bring it up to his pediatrician as well but at this point, thank God, I do not believe this is something our family needs to worry about.
I wish your family health and happiness, especially those boys.

And then I shouted, “BOOYAKASHA,” and made dinner for my perfect, big-headed little family.