Shatterproof My Left Foot

So this happened today.

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You know that brand of dishware that famously advertises itself as being somewhat shatterproof?  Their website actually says “break and chip resistance for carefree durability.”  Well, they and their shitty NON-shatterproof dishware can officially hitch a ride straight to hell.

Carefree durability.  What nerve.

So I was putting the clean dishes from the dishwasher away when Big M asked me to look at something on the TV for a moment.  When I took too long to turn around he complained that I didn’t stop what I was doing IMMEDIATELY to watch whatever crap it was that he wanted me to see (I still don’t know what it was). His complaints caused me to begin a rambling tirade about how much fun it is to do the dishes every day, and how I was just so busy having such a spectacular time doing it that I couldn’t even tear myself away for one minute because putting away dishes is the most exhilarating part of my daily activities and how I wish I could wash everyone’s dishes in the whole world….

And then, as if sensing my bitter sarcasm and being too offended to hear another word, a whole entire stack of plates and bowls suddenly slipped from my hand and committed suicide onto my kitchen floor.

Have you ever watched a “shatterproof” dish break?  They don’t just break. They pretty much explode.  Into 80,000 teeny tiny pieces.  That end up EVERYWHERE.  The last time I broke one of these bad boys I spent WEEKS finding pieces of it in parts of my house that were not even close to where it had originally broken.  And that was just one dish.

I had just broken five dishes and seven bowls.

There were little pieces of broken ceramic on my counters, in the dishwasher inside the clean glasses and cups and silverware. They were in the sink, interspersed throughout the dirty dishes.  They were on top of and underneath the couch; embedded in the living room rug; in the dog’s food and water bowls; under every single nearby piece of furniture; on top of the kitchen table where my family was still eating breakfast.  There were even pieces of it inside my son’s train set on the floor.

So first I screamed.  Then I said more curse words than a Quentin Tarantino movie.  And then I began chanting “oh my God, oh my God, oh my God” until the baby began repeating it too and I realized I needed to pull it together.

But first I wept for a little while.

An hour and a half later, the mess was pretty much under control.  It took a mop, a broom, an industrial-sized vacuum cleaner and some Xanax to get the job done, but we did it.

Big M helped me out a lot and I should say thank goodness he was there when it happened.  He practically cleaned the whole thing up.  And honestly, I don’t even know how to use an industrial-sized vacuum cleaner (nor do I know why we own one).  But he gets only partial credit because, really, it was his fault that I was too wrapped up in my little dish-loathing outburst to prevent the senseless and tragic deaths of twelve perfectly good pieces of tableware in the first place.

Rest in (80,000) pieces, guys.

Got 99 Problems and the Beach is One

Remember when a friend would call up and ask you to go to the beach, and you’d put on your bikini (wait, what’s a bikini?), grab a towel and a pair of sunglasses and be on your way?  Remember when you could lie in the warm summer sun, work on your tan, read a good book or a magazine, maybe even have a cold beer, and watch the cute guys pass by?

Remember when a trip to the beach was actually RELAXING?

Well, for those of you who went and had kids, those days are over.

Can you imagine if you went to the beach today, at least one kid in tow, with nothing but a towel and a magazine?  Someone would probably call Child Protective Services on you and your screaming, sunburned, dehydrated, starving children.

So yesterday, I woke up at 7am and decided it was a good day for the beach.  I spent the next three hours of the morning in deep preparation mode, careful not to forget a single thing because failing to remember even the slightest detail for a trip to the beach could have catastrophic results.  Remember; a trip to the beach is merely a very hot day outdoors surrounded by nothing but sand, water, and half-naked strangers.  It’s up to you to make it a little more eventful for the kids, and as bearable as possible for yourself.

Since this was my first trip to the beach with two children who are both old enough to walk, I wanted to get some tips and ideas to help me out.  I decided to consult my old friend Google and typed in “ways to make a family beach trip more fun,” then came upon some helpful stuff like “construct a sun shade using only bamboo poles, rubber bands, markers, and a sheet!” and “make sure the kids are wearing hats!”  Well, let me just slide these here bamboo poles in my bag right next to my towels and sunblock, then superglue these here hats to my kids’ heads (since that is the only way they will ever keep them on), and go!  Thanks Internet!

After I finished my useless research and packed the car with more bags and beach chairs than my husband and I could carry in from the parking lot in a single trip, we finally headed to the beach.  Our day continued like this:

My kids spend the first fifteen minutes fighting over a tiny plastic shovel, despite having enough toys for half the kids on the beach.  Eventually my daughter gives up the fight and grabs a giant sand pail, fills it to the top with sand, and dumps the entire thing in my lap.  Thanks!

She quickly gets bored of us and wanders onto our neighbor’s blanket before I am able catch her.  I apologize profusely for her getting sand on their blanket but still receive numerous dirty looks.  I walk away wishing I’d instead demanded an apology from them for disobeying the unspoken rule of personal beach space and setting up less than ten feet away from us.

We then eat lunch and enjoy the crunchy, gritty goodness of sand sprinkled generously by the wind onto our turkey and cheese sandwiches, and I resist the urge to make a painfully corny joke about how I’m eating a SANDwich on the beach.

I grow increasingly annoyed with our too-close neighbors, who are noisy and curse like truck drivers. Hey, Parents of the Year?  Just because you’re cool with dropping f-bombs in front of your kids doesn’t mean I am.  Shut the F%*# up!

I pry a tiny seashell out of my daughter’s hand before she puts it in her mouth and potentially chokes, then repeat several times with various other tiny objects.  Not really in the mood for the Heimlich today.

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I decide to take the kids down to the shore and have about five heart attacks once the water is deep enough to cover their toes (I have some MINOR anxiety issues with drowning).  I get over it after a minute and allow them to go ankle-deep, then have five more heart attacks when a plastic bag lightly grazes my foot.  I get super grossed out when I realize just how disgustingly filthy this ocean water is and then daydream about being in Aruba.

I take about twenty different iPhone pictures of the kids with the ocean in the background until I finally have one where both children are sort-of both looking at the camera, then silently curse my phone for taking such crappy pictures of my beautiful children.

We head back to our sandy abyss and I change my daughter’s diaper while wondering why toddler bathing suits don’t have little crotch snaps like onesies do.  The only thing easier than changing the diaper of a sweaty, squirmy toddler is changing the diaper of a sweaty, squirmy toddler in a WET BATHING SUIT.  Even more fun than THAT?  Is putting the soaking wet bathing suit BACK ON after the diaper change is over.  I can’t even blame her for being miserable after that.

I reapply the kids’ sunblock and my daughter tries desperately to escape, falling in the sand before I’ve managed to rub it all in.  She now resembles a 20-pound chicken cutlet in a bathing suit.

My husband takes the kids for a walk and I have ten whole minutes to myself, most of which are spent refolding towels, shaking sand off of blankets, and throwing away garbage.

Three long, hot hours have passed and it’s finally time to head home.  We take a moment to consider how we can get these kids home without taking half the beach’s sand with us.  We give up quickly– it’s really not possible.

We go home, give baths, make dinner, sweep up the sand left behind, and get the kids to bed.

Once I’m finally sitting down to relax, I take out my phone and look at at all the pictures I took. I can’t help but smile to myself because I can see they were having an awesome time, and, believe it or not, I think maybe I did too.

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Questions, Questions, and More Questions

I recently saw this meme (or whatever those crazy kids are calling it these days) on Facebook:

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A year or so ago, I would have thought this statistic was majorly exaggerated.  Do people even say 437 WORDS a day?  But one year ago, Little M was not yet four years old and I could still hear some of the thoughts inside my own head .  Now, just a few weeks shy of his fifth birthday, I’m wondering if that number might be a little short.  Perhaps they didn’t bother to count the questions that lack even the slightest bit of sentence-structure and, well, any form of common sense at all.

You know, the kinds of questions where your kid might as well be saying to you: “I’m asking a question just to hear myself talk, and although I’m well aware that vacuum cleaners don’t have fangs, I’m still going to ask about it.  You’re the parent, take my puzzling jargon as a sign that I’m tired, hungry, bored, restless, nervous, and/or insane and act accordingly. Do it.”

Off topic, but I just looked up a synonym for the word “jargon” and Word suggested “gobbledygook.” WTF, Microsoft?

So anyway, I have taken it upon myself to document just a few of Little M’s recent inquiries, some of which I found hilarious and had to literally tear the insides of my cheeks to shreds to keep from going “BAHAHAH” right in his little inquisitive face.

Who am I kidding? I laugh when he’s funny, whether he means to be or not.  He’s too young to take himself seriously, and I’m too easily amused by him to restrain myself either way.  So below are some of the questions I can recall Little M asking over the past week or two, in no particular order:

  • Is the baby a waffle monster?
  • Can I have gum for dessert?
  • Can we eat breakfast and dinner at the same time?
  • I get to sit in Daddy’s chair?  Am I the man of the house now?
  • Do I speak Spanish?
  • When I go to college, will I have a pretty girlfriend?
  • Can I have gum for lunch?
  • What do they sell at the vegetable store? (I then asked him what he thinks they sell at a vegetable store, to which he replied “Trader Joes.”)
  • After we go over the Verrazano Bridge, will we be in Sesame Place or Brooklyn?
  • Can I have coffee with my cake too?
  • If I help my team at soccer can I have gum?
  • Daddy is fixing his car in the garage. When are you going to fix dinner?
  • Poppy gave me five moneys -um I mean dollars- today.  Now I can go to Disney World, right?
  • Why does everybody always go to Costco?
  • Why doesn’t the baby go in timeout when she gives her dinner to Ike (our dog)?
  • The baby has a stinky in her diaper.  Can I see her poop?
  • What time is 3:00?
  • I put all my toys in your bag, Mommy.  Can you help me close it?
  • Ok, I’ll take the toys out.  Can I put them in your shoe instead?
  • Do you put ketchup on your carrots, too?
  • Do sharks eat dinosaurs?
  • Why do Ike’s farts smell so bad?
  • There’s a spider on the door. Can I keep it as a pet?
  • Look, I caught a bunch of cicadas! Can I put them in the bathtub?
  • Can you call Daddy and tell him to give me gum when he gets home from work?

I think you get the point.  My son has a mild obsession with gum. Oh, and he likes asking questions.

I was feeling kind of investigative, so I googled “why kids ask so many questions” (can I consider myself “feeling investigative” EVERY time I google something?  If so, what about the time I googled my own name? What was I investigating, then? Myself?).  I found a short Washington Post article from a few years ago that said:  “A research team from the University of Hawaii and the University of Michigan found that kids are asking ‘why’ as a means to get information about the world. The research found that when children received explanatory information, they were more likely to end the questioning.”

Who the hell is doing this research?  And have they ever met ANY FOUR YEAR OLD ON EARTH?  Did they mean to say “they are more likely to end the questioning…after they’ve finally passed out from the inevitable exhaustion of constant mouth-running from dawn to dusk?”

I also found out that incessantly asking questions is considered to be evidence of a gifted child.  I really hope they are right.  Because when my son asks me why he can’t use his toothbrush to brush the dog’s teeth, “gifted” is the last word that pops into my head.

A Trip to the Not-So-Supermarket

Some people enjoy going to the supermarket.  I am NOT one of those people.  The only part of grocery shopping that I like is when it’s over.

I usually go shopping with Little D when Little M is in school to decrease my odds of having a nervous breakdown somewhere in between the bread aisle and the frozen vegetables, so my experiences will reflect that.  If you’re lucky enough to have the pleasure of shopping by yourself then your trips are likely less painful, but maybe not any more enjoyable.  And if you have the misfortune of always shopping with several kids in tow, then I’m incredibly sorry to hear that.  I hope you never find your three year old hiding in the dairy case atop a pile of string cheese after a terrifying five minutes spent frantically combing every aisle with your four other kids looking for him.  True story (though not mine, thankfully).

So allow me to take you on a journey filled with fruits, vegetables, toilet brushes and more to demonstrate my disdain for the wretched activity called food shopping.  Maybe I’ll even pick you up a gallon of milk and some ice cream along the way.

The fun begins before I even step into the store with shopping cart selection.  I don’t know if I’m walking around with an invisible wagon-shaped black cloud over my head, but it never seems to fail that I should end up with a broken cart.  Even if I try taking a few for a test-drive or at least skipping over the dilapidated ones, it doesn’t seem to matter.  You never know if you’ve picked the most spastic cart until you are already in the store with a kid strapped in the front and at least three items nestled snugly inside.  Sometimes I’ll see one that looks good— minimal rust and a seemingly smooth ride—but that is always the one with dirty tissues, crumpled up flyers, and someone’s grocery list littered along the bottom.  So I’ve decided to give up trying.  The sooner I grab a cart and go, the sooner this will all be over and I’ll be driving home in the privacy of my own SUV, shamelessly ripping into the box of peanut butter-chocolate chip cookies that I totally bought for the kids.

My tour through the produce section is usually uneventful, aside from occasionally getting sprayed in the face by those annoying sprinklers they use to water the greens.  After produce I head to the deli counter to purchase cold cuts for dinner because grocery shopping leaves me too traumatized to cook.  The deli counter is one of those places where having even one person ahead of you means you will inevitably be waiting forever for them to mess up your order.  Either your meat is being sliced by an angry teenager who would rather be at home playing Call of Duty and he takes it out on your Boars Head ham, or a partially deaf older lady who always gives you a half pound when you wanted a whole one (I said “HAVE,” not “HALF”).  You always go home feeling a little empty as you make your sandwich, wondering might have been if only they’d gotten it right…

So next I’m off to the non-perishables.  I have a thing with dented cans.  I don’t like them.  When I was a kid someone once told me you could get botulism from a dented can and that all your muscles would immediately be paralyzed and you’d suffocate or have a massive heart attack or something terrible like that and basically drop dead three seconds later.  I suppose they weren’t aware of the level of hypochondria they were dealing with, seeing as I’m still petrified of this even today and I don’t even know if it’s true.  Either way I’d like to travel back in time just to slap them in their stupid face for scaring the crap out of a little kid like that.  I don’t know why restaurants can be fined for having dented cans but supermarkets are over there selling them at full price and shit. Have you ever noticed that when a can is dented, EVERY single can of that particular brand and product is also dented?  Is there like some pissed off stock boy standing in the back room crying and bouncing green beans  off the wall because his girlfriend just broke up with him?

So next I’m at the dairy case having flashbacks to the time when Little M was younger and he reached behind him in the cart and grabbed the egg carton and started throwing eggs all over the floor while my back was turned.  That was fun.

By the time we make it to the checkout line, Little D has gotten tired of sitting in the cart and begins attempting to escape.  She is usually successful.  I actually once caught her like a football while we were waiting in line at Costco.  So I then have to hold her with one hand while placing $200 worth of items on the belt with my other hand.  And with my third hand, I usually try to keep her from pressing buttons on the credit card machine and ripping Tic Tacs off the shelves.

The cashier then asks if I have any coupons.  I say no, because coupons are way too stressful for me handle (stay tuned for a future entry about my thoughts on extreme couponing).  Then the cashier looks at me like I’m a complete moron and hands me a stack of crappy coupons for stuff like lactose-free protein shakes or half priced stool softener and then reminds me to remember my coupons next time.

I’m out of the danger zone now and heading back to the car, but the fun doesn’t end there.  Something is surely going to fall out of my cart.  A bag of potatoes will get loose, or paper towels will lose their way, or if my day really sucks, my eggs will get fried on the parking lot pavement.

So then I’m finally home.  Now it’s time to bring Little D into the house and leave her temporarily unsupervised while I run back and forth with seemingly endless shopping bags.  When I walk in the door I find her standing on the dog, eating a piece of cheese she must have found on her highchair or something, and I suddenly feel nauseous because I don’t recall her actually having cheese with any of her meals or snacks today.  I then proceed to spend the next hour putting away what feels like Pathmark’s entire inventory, and resist the urge to punch Big M in his Big Face when he gets home from work and complains that I forgot to buy his Lactaid milk so that he can consume his usual three bowls of cereal a half hour before I put dinner on the table.

Three days pass and I begin to wonder if there is a secret fifth person hiding out in the house somewhere who steals all the food at night because the fridge is already bare and $200 worth of groceries have vanished into thin air.  I reluctantly remind myself to repeat the process all over again tomorrow.

I better put Excedrin on my grocery list this time.

Once Upon a (Childless) Time

Big M is in Atlantic City for a bachelor party tonight and the kids just went to sleep. So yea…this is happening 😉

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I’m not going to lie, I’m insanely jealous of Big M.  Not because he’s hanging out with a bunch of single guys who are likely to end up, at some point, in a strip club tonight. Not that kind of jealous.  I’m just jealous that he’s lucky enough to be out of this crazy house for a night, drinking until his liver hates him, gambling away money we definitely don’t have, and maybe going to a club where I really hope all of the employees are wearing clothes. Pretty much everything I used to do BC (before children).  Right now that lucky bastard is drinking beer, playing roulette, and probably enjoying really good music in the company of really good friends. Meanwhile, I spent the day handing out juice boxes, playing peek-a-boo with one kid and Nintendo Wii with the other, and watching every single godforsaken show on Nickelodeon.  So you better believe I’m jealous as hell.

It’s isn’t actually about Big M—really I’m happy he’s going out tonight.  He doesn’t go out often so he deserves a night out, and I have a bunch of DVR’d episodes of Days of Our Lives to catch up on anyway.  It’s just that it’s a slightly depressing reminder of how much life changes when you have kids.  There is so much you have to give up…

Once upon a time I could kill a whole day lazily watching movies in bed.  I could consume as much ice cream as Ben & Jerry’s could stock in my local supermarket’s freezer and not have to fear the inevitable return of the 45 pounds I’d gained during my first pregnancy. Once upon a time I actually had the time to regularly organize my favorite new songs into iPod playlists in order to have good music to listen to while running on the treadmill.  That was when I actually knew what the newest songs out were and I also owned a treadmill (and even used it once in a while).  Once upon a time I could call my friends on any random day of the week and spontaneously make a plan to go out (dare I say it?) that VERY SAME NIGHT.  Then I could go out and blow my entire paycheck without fearing I’d just spent all the money I’d been putting aside for the kids’ summer wardrobes.  Once upon a time I’d visualized living in a great big American dream house that I’d bought with the money I’d earned at my great big American dream six-figure salary job (not quite the apartment-renting stay-at-home-mom that I am today).  Once upon a time I could sit and peacefully eat a whole entire meal without getting up even once to refill a sippy cup or wipe up spilled juice, or cut someone’s meat into fifty chewable little pieces; and I could also take a whole entire shower without someone walking into the humid, fogged-up bathroom and leaving behind a toilet full of steaming turd (not to mention forcing me to reach my hand out and saturate an entire roll of toilet paper in order to to aid in butt-wiping procedures).  Once upon a time I could even hold my liquor, much better than now anyway, and easily stay awake until the sun came up–not the least bit worried about being up in approximately twenty minutes to change diapers and make breakfast for two tiny, hungry humans.

But then again…

Once upon a time I also didn’t know how it felt getting amazing tiny hugs from those tiny humans.  I didn’t know anything about that feeling you get when you watch them sleep, and their sweet little lips pucker back and forth like they do when they are drinking their milk, and their little eyelashes flutter ever so slightly, and you’re compelled to touch their cheek very gently with the tip of your finger, just because not even the finest quality of silk in the world is half as soft as their smooth, precious skin. Once upon a time I couldn’t comprehend the seething rage or the blinding fury you could feel toward anyone or thing who dared to hurt your child, even in the smallest way, and the way you’d literally move heaven and earth to make them never get hurt again. Once upon a time I didn’t know the way every rock-hard bone in your body could be reduced to a pile of mere jello, that every cell you were composed of could melt into an enormous puddle those first few unbelievable times your sweet little angel smiles at you. Once upon a time I didn’t know that my heart could literally explode with pride and joy at little things like a school picture, or a successful doctor’s visit, or a pre-k graduation, or from merely watching your child dance around the living room to an upbeat commercial jingle. Once upon a time I couldn’t even conceive of feeling this wildly unconditional and insanely overwhelming amount of love for anything at all– a feeling so dynamic that it encompasses your entire being and is essentially greater than any other feeling you’ve ever felt before or likely will ever feel again.

Once upon a time I was certainly a lot more free. But I wasn’t entirely me.  My children have awakened a part of me I never even knew existed until they came into my life.

And that? I wouldn’t change for all the parties and drinking and clubbing and sleeping-in and Ben & Jerry’s and free time and uninterrupted showers in the world.

On that painfully mushy note, I think I’ll make this my last glass of wine….. 😉

No Gabba Gabba

I don’t know about you, but I actually find myself getting more excited when a new episode of my kids’ favorite show comes out than they do. When your kid loves a show, they want to watch it ALLLLLL the time. This can feel like a cartoon version of Chinese water torture after a while. I often find myself singing along with the songs, mouthing the words to the entire show, and even rolling my eyes when an episode I don’t particularly like is on. By bedtime, I’m usually so sick of the Disney Channel that I’d rather watch Storage Wars with my husband than another episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse (which I’ve opted not to pick on today, so hot diggity dog for them!). So here’s a short run-down of some of my kids’ favorite TV shows, from an adult perspective.

Yo Gabba Gabba– This show is, hands down, Little D’s favorite. I don’t know what it is about DJ orange beanpole, but when this show comes on she is more drawn to the TV than a whole playground full of kids are to an approaching ice cream truck. I also don’t know what kind of 60’s hippie psychedelic drugs the writers are on when they sit down to write each episode, or how they get fairly big celebrities like Tina Fey and Jack Black to guest star, but however they do it, they should keep right on doing it. I mean, I’ve definitely told my kids not to bite their friends once or twice, but the Gabba gang really helps drive the point home. Just keep in mind that this show is definitely aimed at the littler ones—the older ones might start asking awkward questions about Muno and Foofa.

Backyardigans – This quintet of backyard-dwelling quasi-rodents– Tyrone, Tasha, Uniqua, Austin, and Pablo– might be the most culturally diverse polygamist family in suburban Utah. Just think about it for a moment. Ever watched Big Love on HBO? I mean, I like my neighbors as much as the next person but we don’t feel the need to share a whole backyard. Anyway the songs are catchy and the dancing is super realistic, but I wonder who they will get to replace Tasha and Uniqua someday when they are married off the compound?

Octonauts – Think Star Trek, for children, but take them out of space and dump them in the ocean. I thought of this clever little analogy after the hubby recently turned me into a bit of a Star Trek geek. The little sea-dwelling astronaut creatures hang out on the Octopod (a.k.a Deep Space Nine), go out on missions in little ships called gups (a.k.a. shuttles), and meet various different species that live throughout the ocean (a.k.a. space). There’s a captain, a medic, and various other members of the Octonaut crew (a.k.a. Starfleet). Coincidence? I think not.

Doc McStuffins – Poor, delusional Doc McStuffins. She talks to her stuffed animals (who, by the way, talk back to her), she thinks she’s capable of diagnosing “patients,” performing surgery, even prescribing medicine. Her assistant is a talking stuffed hippo, and her sole medical reference guide (which she, herself, has written) is called “The Big Book of Boo-Boos” and consists of such ailments as squishy-itis, deflate-alosis, stinky-salami-breath, sandy-scoop-syndrome, and repeat-itis. Get it together, McStuffins. You might need a doctor yourself.

The Fresh Beat Band – This is more of a warning than a description; once you get a Fresh Beat song stuck in your head, you will NEVER get rid of it. I don’t know why, but they’re like crack for your eardrums. You will wake up rambling about friends giving friends a hand and then walk around all day thinking that you’ve got you’ve got you’ve got loco legs. And don’t think sleep is an escape, you’re sure to drift off dreaming about how you had a great day, and it was a super way, to spend some time together…… Seriously, I just screwed myself for the next week by writing this paragraph. You’re welcome.

To Be or Not to Be…Crunchy

I have a friend who, bless her heart, as the southerners would say, is kind of batcrap crazy.  She’s the sweetest person on earth, she would totally give you the shirt off her back, but her passion for the things she believes in makes her come off a little nuts.  She drives me nuts because she makes me second guess every decision I make as a parent (and I’m out of Xanax refills so I can’t afford the additional anxiety).

She is one of those “crunchy” people, as I’ve come to learn they call those who are very into everything green and organic.  I think this chick would rip out her walls and replace them with organic sheet rock if she could.

I’m about as crunchy as cream cheese.  The cheap, generic store-brand of processed cream cheese that’s about as far from organic as possible. Well, at least, I used to be. I’m getting better. I try to buy organic when it goes on sale and I’ve begun using less harsh cleaners around the house.  But I’ll never be like my dear friend, psychotically scrutinizing ingredients and cleaning the toilets with vinegar.

When we were kids, our parents didn’t have to make the decisions we have to make today.  They just threw us in the old station wagon and let us roll around in the backseat while they smoked cigarettes in the front and turned around to smack us when we were misbehaving.  Times, how they have changed.

But there’s no definitive answer as to what is right and what is wrong, and I’m starting to go a little batcrap crazy myself trying to figure out what’s best for my family.  The problem is, the more I ponder these types of issues, the more I feel like my buddy Bart Simpson– damned if I do, damned if I don’t.

To vaccinate or not?  There are people who will SWEAR that autism rates are currently 1 in 88 because kids get poked with more needles before their first birthday than a heroin addict on a binge.  Some studies say there is absolutely no evidence to support this theory, but many parents of autistic children will tell you their child was perfectly normal one day and then suddenly something went very wrong right after they had their shots at a checkup.  Still on the other side of the argument, there have been recent peculiar outbreaks of diseases (measles, for example) that haven’t been around for decades and people are pointing a finger at the non-vaccinators.  So as parents, here’s the choice we get to make: would you rather your kid catch smallpox or develop Aspbergers?

To eat organic or not?  In an ideal world, food would never be genetically modified, fish would be wild-caught but mercury free, chickens would all be free-range, produce would have no traces of pesticide, and all ingredients would be a maximum of three syllables long.  But unfortunately, that’s not the world we live in today.  The economy is in the toilet and people can’t afford a 300% percent price increase on their grocery bills just because someone slapped a little green “organic” label on all of their food.  So what’s better? Your family presumably gets cancer OR you go broke and subsequently die of a heart-attack brought on by the stress of being unable to provide for them?

To use bug spray or not?  Mosquitoes love my kids and me. Like, they really love us.  If they were around on Valentines Day every year, they would take us out to dinner and buy everyone thorny, blood red roses.  I don’t know why, I’m no scientist, but it’s a fact that these annoying little pests attack my whole family from June all the way to September.  I used to just spray everyone with some Off and go on with life.  But of course, like everything that makes life easier, there is a catch.  Apparently, chemical bug repellents can cause damage to brain cells.  Awesome, right? West Nile Virus or brain damage– take your pick!

Let them watch TV or not?  Those annoying people at the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) have recommended no TV for kids under two and less than two hours per day for children older than that. Which would be all well and good if real babysitters were as cheap and readily available as Dora.

Rear-facing carseats or not? The latest guidelines for children’s carseats indicate that kids should remain in a rear-facing seat until at least two years old or longer, and be secured with a 5-point harness for as long as possible.  There is no question that these are the absolute safest measures and thus the best way to go.  But…. What if your child is old enough to be sick of watching you in their backseat mirror watching them through the rear view mirror; what if they have an older sibling next to them who gets to stare at the vast world beyond the windshield, and then jealousy settles in– and the shrieking starts, then the tears, and feet are kicking and fists are flailing and you’re just trying to get everyone to grandma’s house in one piece? A child in the backseat having a meltdown can be a major driving distraction. Pulling over won’t even help because the tantrum will only resume when you start driving again. So you are forced to continue on, attempting to tune out the mayhem going on behind you and give the road your full and undivided attention. Good luck with that.

With all of these contradictions, how is anyone supposed to decide what’s best for their family? It’s enough to drive any sane person mad, so maybe I shouldn’t blame my friend at all.  Maybe I’m really the crazy one……