Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Things that make you go hmmm....

Carpeted Kitchens - Why was carpet ever considered an acceptable flooring option for a kitchen? It's one of those interior design ideas where form trumps function - only the form stinks. The only condition I can imagine where a carpeted kitchen would be a good idea is ... okay, I can't think of one. It is never a good idea - especially when you reside with a toddler who finds crunching crackers into the floor an immensely pleasurable activity.
The only thing worse than a carpeted kitchen is a carpeted bathroom - and believe me, I'd know since we've had the privilege of living in apartments with both. (For more evidence of the ills of carpet, read

Gas Prices - What's worse than paying $3.89 for a gallon of gas? Paying $4.09 for a gallon of gas. Last Tuesday, the price of gas at the gas station we patronize jumped 20 cents in one day. Who did kill that electric car?

Two-piece bathing suits - I hold nothing against two-piece swimsuits - especially my own body. Which is why I can't understand why every single swim suit I saw at Target was a 2 piece. Am I the only seeker of swimwear who doesn't want to expose her abdomen? Does no one else have something to hide? Give me some other options, please.

America Runs on Dunkin
- Dunkin Donuts' slogan puzzles me. It seems such an obvious misstatement. Perhaps I am taking it too literally, but does America really run on Dunkin? I would think "waddle" seems a more appropriate verb. Or "saunters", "meanders", or "slouches. " When I eat a donut, it makes me feel like taking up residence on my couch and drowning in the bluish glow of the television. The last thing it makes me want to do is run.

Diaper Genies - Whatever marketing exec came up with the name "Diaper Genie" must have done something right, because you would be hard pressed to find any other diaper pail on the market. But still, Diaper Genie? Really? Aren't genies the magical creatures that appear when a lamp is rubbed three times? For those of you who haven't had the honor of housing a Diaper Genie in your home, I'll let you in on a little secret - this is one container that you don't want to rub. There's something in that diaper pail, but it ain't no genie.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

Having a new-born is perhaps the closest most women will ever come to being a celebrity. When you enter a room with an infant in arms, it is usually to the accompaniment of a chorus of "oohs" and "aahs". Shoppers at the grocery store kindly smile as you navigate the cart with baby aboard down the aisles. At the airport,you get to board the plane first; on the bus, fellow passengers readily offer you their seats. At restaurants or shopping malls you become accustomed to receiving adoring compliments from passing patrons. You know the compliments are directed at the baby, but you relish in them as if they were intended for you. The kindness of strangers is overwhelming, abundant, and extremely gratifying.

I was recently at Navy Pier with my family. Henry was tired of being confined by the stroller, and so we let him out to stretch his legs. He immediately took off, racing past the shops and restaurants, and I dutifully pursued him. As I captured him in my arms, I noticed a young couple watching the scene. Expecting the kind remarks I usually receive from strangers,I wondered what compliment they might offer me. Perhaps they would remark on Henry's astonishing speed. Or maybe they would comment on the adorable way his long, blond hair fell across his beautiful face. As they approached me, I eagerly awaited their praise, only to become crestfallen when the man smiled and said, "Now that's good birth-control."

What has happened to the kindness I have come to expect from strangers? I have begun to notice a change in tone in the way people respond to me and my toddler. At the grocery store, shoppers' smiles are increasingly replaced by looks of sympathy, or worse, unsolicited advice, as I struggle to contain Henry, and our groceries, in the shopping cart. The last time I boarded a plane, I noticed many of the passengers look down as I proceeded down the aisle, uttering urgent prayers that we were not their assigned row-mates. At the library, as Henry races about removing books from shelves, I can sense the librarians perceive him as at best an annoyance and at worst a threat.

My brief-lived near-celebrity status is coming to an end. As a mother of a toddler, I am more often viewed with the pity that one has for Brittany after her custody battle or Lindsay after rehab.Of course, the kindness of strangers has'nt disappeared completely, although its intensity has become somewhat diluted. It is the frequency, not the quality, of the compliments that has changed. As Henry becomes a full-fledged toddler, he can be more adorable than he ever was as a new-born: he can give big bear-hugs, laugh and smile, and even attempt to say "I love you." But with these new developments also comes kicking, biting, and full-on temper tantrums.

As far as I'm concerned, these difficulties are a small price to pay as I watch Henry's personality emerge and develop. But with the terrible twos fast approaching, I'm aware they'll more likely be heralded by the dissonant symphony of kicking and screaming than the adoring "oohs" and "aahs" from strangers.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

You Might Be a Red Neck If...

...your son's favorite toy is a disembodied stuffed bear called Little Bear. You can't decide whether to be amused or disturbed by the fact that Little Bear has to turn the pages when a book is read, eat at the dinner table, and take walks with the family.

... your mechanic tells you that the reason your car's "check engine" light is on is because some kind of rodent has chewed through all the electrical wires. This accounts for the several hours you invest searching "rodent prevention" on the internet and wandering the "Pest Control" aisle at the local hardware store.

...your abysmal lack of computer skills leads you to pack your non-functioning computer in a laundry basket and drop it off at the Easy Tech at Staples. You manage to leave the technician suspecting that you are a complete idiot as you attempt to explain the error in language that is anything but technical. Suspicion of idiocy is confirmed when the technician calls to say that there is absolutely nothing wrong with said computer. are disappointed to find that the $600 per person/ $300 per child tax rebate doesn't actually apply to you because, the adjusted income amount on your 2007 tax return was too small. You end up receiving only 2/3s of what you expected, leaving you feeling hurt and afraid.

I am increasingly becoming aware that we belong to that demographic of poor, white, hardworking Americans that make up the core of Hillary Clinton's base.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.