Thursday, January 20, 2011

Anatomy Lessons

If you've picked up a parenting book or magazine in the past several years, you've probably read that the best way to talk to young children about their bodies is to use the proper names for things.  It makes sense, right?  You avoid instilling a sense of shame and teach your children that their bodies are natural and not something to keep secret or hidden.  If, like me, you weren't actually a parent yet or had a little non-verbal infant you probably thought, "Huh, that's a great idea.  I am totally going to teach my kid to say vagina and penis!"  

This idea appealed to me so much that I proudly used correct body part words as a daycare teacher.  Didn't phase me.  I could talk about the penis and the vagina all day long.  And don't even get me started on testicles!  Who doesn't like to say testicles?!  

Well, then darling little Prima came along.  What a pretty, angelic little thing, with her wispy blond hair and big blue eyes!  I tried so hard to stick to what the parenting books and magazines said I should do, but I'll admit it.  I failed.  I could not look at that cherubic little face and say the word vagina.   I mean, look at this face.  Could you say vagina to this face?

When that face is your own little child, looking right at it and saying vagina is way harder than those stupid magazines made it sound. In fact, I'm pretty sure whoever wrote those articles didn't even have children.

Teaching Prima about boys' anatomy turned out to be much easier.  I didn't need to worry about saying penis to her because a thoughtful little boy in her daycare class took care of that for me.  Apparently, little Conner's mom and dad could look at his face and say penis without any problems because he knew that word really well.  So well, in fact, that he taught the other little toddlers all about the penis.  

Thanks Conner's mom and dad.  My husband, in particular, loved having a beautiful little daughter who knew the word penis.  For example, when you're a Daddy enjoying lunch at a deli with your special little two year-old girl and she busts out the p word in her loudest, shrillest voice, the pride you feel is indescribable.  

Then, our boys came along.  I realized the blame I put on Conner's mom and dad might have been misplaced because it turns out saying penis to little boys is much easier than saying vagina to little girls.  Unfortunately, the male fascination with that particular appendage starts at an extremely young age.  Secondo initiated quite a few awkward bath time conversations based on his early appreciation for his own anatomy.

My attempts to explain my lack of a penis without using the word vagina only caused more confusion.  Our talks usually went like this:
Secondo:  Why don't you have a penis?
Me:  Girls don't have a penis.
Secondo:  Hahahahaha!!  You have to have a penis or you can't go pee.
Me:  I can go pee, I just don't have a penis.
Secondo:  Yes you do.  Everyone has a penis.
Me:  No, honey.  Girls don't have penises.
Secondo:  Then what do girls have?
Me:  Um.....time to get out of the tub!

Because Terzo has an older brother, I've been able to totally avoid talking to him about human anatomy.  I'm pretty sure penis was one of Terzo's first words.  Secondo also learns interesting words at school and teaches them to Terzo.  With absolutely no effort on my part, both boys learned about wieners and balls.  For a long time, the word wenis found its way into household conversations.  And last week, Secondo asked me what dick means.  I think I put the fear of God into him with that last one, so maybe Terzo won't learn it for another few days.

From time to time, one of the boys publicly brings out the p bomb too.  Most recently, we unexpectedly ran into Santa at the local book store while holiday shopping.  Secondo and Terzo started talking to Santa about what they'd like for Christmas, and when Santa asked if they'd been good little boys Terzo saw an opportunity to sabotage his brother's holiday joy.

Santa's response?  "That's what big brothers are for!  Ho ho ho!"  Gee, thanks Santa.

Being a parent is pretty hard, but there are perks.  We have to take those perks where we can, and one of my favorites is the chance to take a mistake by a child and turn it into a joke that lasts for years.  When Secondo was little he one day noticed his testicles hanging out down there by his penis.  I guess he'd been too interested in the penis before to notice it had company.  When he asked about it, I said, "Those are your testicles."  Testicles is not an easy word for a small child, and for a really long time Secondo couldn't manage it.  He used the closest word he could.  Tentacles.  A better mom probably would have gently corrected him and continued to use the word testicles until he got it right.  But what's the fun of that?  Substituting tentacles for testicles in a conversation is way too entertaining.  Besides, the mental picture is too good to resist.


He'd either be single all his life or the most popular boy EVER.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Party Favor Fish

Have you ever seen that show on Animal Planet where pets alert their owners to some sort of ghost or evil spirit?  I haven't either, but I've seen the commercials for it.  I'm pretty sure our rabbit isn't able to sense the presence of troubled spirits because we had our own haunting for a while and that silly rabbit did nothing but eat and poop as usual.

It all started with a birthday party.  Secondo went off to a Halloween themed party to stuff himself with candy and damage some other parents' eardrums for a while.  When I picked him up, I was not at all surprised to see the large bag of candy clutched in one had.  What did surprise me was the small goldfish bowl in his other hand.  The bowl was occupied by an actual, alive goldfish.  I looked around and saw that each and every party guest also had a live fish to take home.  Now, I may not be a member of PETA or a vegetarian, but even I balk at the idea of passing out live creatures to seven year old boys and (even worse!) expecting the parents of those boys to provide some sort of home for those creatures.  Nevertheless, we had a new pet.

Let's call him Party Favor Fish.  That's not what Secondo named the fish.  The name Secondo gave his fish wasn't nearly as cool, and anyway, I can't remember what it was.  Prima and Terzo fell in love with Party Favor Fish too, so I had no choice but to dig up the old fish tank and make a real home for Party Favor Fish.  Luckily I'd killed raised fish before, so we had everything around the house we needed to keep Party Favor Fish happy.

Party Favor Fish wasn't happy though.   He alternated between lying motionless on the decorative pebbles at the bottom of the tank and darting crazily around in circles.  He refused to eat.  Sometimes I felt like Party Favor Fish was watching me, even if I was in another room. I tried to tell Party Favor Fish that I was sorry he'd been bounced around in a small plastic bowl at a birthday party and that I, personally, don't agree with the practice of giving live animals as party favors.  Either he didn't speak English or was too blinded by scaly fury, but he didn't seem to see the depth of my sincerity.

So, Party Favor Fish died.  

The children sadly gathered for Party Favor Fish's funeral to say their goodbyes as we flushed the tiny corpse away.

Little did I know, we hadn't seen the end of Party Favor Fish.  He waited until I was alone, and he struck in the bathroom.  He must have watched some horror films before he became a party favor.  Anyway, there I was, blow drying my hair (but not in the nude, so I was pretty sure I'd survive the story), when suddenly the cordless phone jumped off the bathroom counter and landed in the very same toilet that served as Party Favor Fish's watery grave!

At the time, I wasn't that suspicious because it seemed as if maybe the cord from the hair dryer had knocked the phone into the toilet.  However, after several minutes of loud swearing and scrubbing my hands with anitbacterial soap, I began to wonder...

A few hours later, after I'd cleaned the phone and let it dry, I made a phone call just to see if it still worked.  Success!  My joy at the abilities of modern technology to survive a dunking in the toilet were short-lived.  As darkness shrouded the land and the children went to bed, I found myself alone in roughly the same part of the house as Party Favor Fish's now-empty tank.  Suddenly, I heard a strange beeping, over and over.  Beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep.....  What could it be?!  I fearfully made my way into the kitchen and saw the phone lit up and beeping, as if someone were pressing a button over and over!

With a horrified look on my face, I picked up the phone and nearly screamed out loud when I saw the number 5 flashing over and over on the display!  That's only one less than 6, and kind of similar to 666!  Party Favor Fish clearly possessed the phone!  I rushed over to the wall and ripped out the phone cord  (am I the only person who's always wanted to do that?) to finally stop Party Favor Fish's eerie message from beyond.

But how to exorcise the restless soul of a vengeful goldfish?  His tiny fish brain couldn't understand that we hadn't meant to kill him.  How could I redirect his wrath to the mom who callously handed him out as a party favor in the first place?  

I'll tell you how.  With the power of the Internet, that's how.  I typed the birthday boy's address into Mapquest and printed out some driving directions from our house to his.  Then, I folded it up real small and tossed it into the toilet with a good handful of fish food.  I flushed, and crossed my fingers that Party Favor Fish's vengeful spirit could read maps.  Apparently it worked, because we've had no further haunting incidents.  I like to think Party Favor Fish went on to become a happy little angel fish.

But I sure hope he haunted the hell out of the birthday boy's family for a while first.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Pros and Cons of Italian DNA

Growing up in rural Indiana, I didn't know any Italian families.  In fact, I'm absolutely positive there aren't any Italian people in Indiana.  Lots of Olive Garden restaurants, but no actual Italian people anywhere in the state.  See, I can prove it:

It's no wonder I thought cannoli were disgusting until I arrived on the East Coast.  It's also no wonder I was totally unprepared for the way my non-Italian DNA would interact with my husband's Italian DNA when we had children.

Normally, when two people make a baby together, their DNA blends in a harmonious way to produce a child that has qualities and traits of both parents.  People look at the baby and say, "She has her daddy's eyes!"  Or, "He has his Mommy's nose!"  As the baby grows, his or her personality traits inspire the same reflections.  "Little Joey is stubborn like his daddy!"  Or, "Little Tommy has his mommy's flair for fashion!"  When an Italian person and a non-Italian person create a child, however, things are very different.  The non-Italian person needs to know up front that his or her DNA will not be represented in their child in any way, shape, or form.  The Italian DNA beats the other DNA into total and complete submission.  When the sperm and ovum unite, the DNA does not merge.  The Italian DNA kicks all other DNA right out of the zygote.

The non-Italian DNA doesn't stand a chance.  Look at my sad DNA up there, weeping as the Italian DNA kicks it out.  There goes the gene for red hair, the gene for being patient, and the gene for keeping your hands still while you speak.  The Italian DNA conquers every strand in the double helix, no exceptions!

Don't misunderstand me.  I'm not saying Italian DNA is bad, or that non-Italian people should avoid letting their sperm or eggs mingle with their Italian counterparts.  Marrying into an Italian family has fantastic perks.  Holidays and parties never get boring, the food is incredible, and the daily free entertainment is priceless.  I love all the aunts and uncles and cousins and wine.  I love my husband and I think our children will grow to be interesting and wonderful people even if his DNA killed all of my DNA.  I'll even go so far as to say that anyone who isn't Italian should try their damnedest to marry into an Italian family!

Well, I used to say that.  Now I have to adjust it a bit and say that anyone who isn't Italian should try their damnedest to marry into an Italian family that isn't from the Jersey Shore.

There are some risks no one should take.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Obligatory Explanation of Title

You may be asking yourself, "What's this 'little bit psycho' thing mean? How can someone be a little bit psycho?" Well, that's a good question! I will tell you exactly how a formerly unpsycho person can become a little bit psycho. It's not as difficult as you might think, so you can view this as a cautionary tale or an instruction manual, whichever is more appropriate for your particular needs.

It started innocently enough with your typical boy meets girl in a bar scenario. As it so often does, this meeting eventually led to a wedding and a pregnancy. The girl in this case happened to be me, and what followed the aforementioned wedding and pregnancy caused me to become a little bit psycho. This blog will be a chronicle of the events that led to my slight psychosis. I'll also share examples from my partially psychotic life as they happen.
Or, knowing how I procrastinate, several days after they happen.

These stories will usually star the following people, all of whom are also a little bit psycho. First there's me. My name is Alli. I have a wonderful husband. Aren't we a good looking couple?

OK, that might not be wholly accurate. I am a bit taller than my husband, and my head does look very large in photos for some reason. But our arms are actually long enough for us to hold hands without bumping heads and I almost never wear a dress.

We share our home with our three children. Our daughter is 11 and would be horrified if she saw the
things I am planning to do with this blog. Our boys are 7 and 5. The three of them are the main contributors to my becoming a little bit psycho, which shouldn't come to a surprise to anyone with children. Naturally I am not going to post their adorable faces where the millions of strangers who will flock to this blog can stalk them and do creepy things with their photos. They are almost as good looking as their parents.
Names have been changed to protect the innocent, of course. I am kicking myself a bit that we didn't think to give the kids those names to begin with. I was going to use Italian meal courses, but then I'd have to call my youngest son Dulce. It doesn't seem right to refer to your child as dessert, unless you're Hannibal Lecter.

The final member of our household is our pet. Kids should have a pet as it teaches them how to be gentle and responsible. I know for a fact that when the kids see me clip our pet's nails, brush him, feed him, and clean his cage, they are learning a valuable life lesson. Here's a picture of our adorable and only slightly neglected pet:

If you've ever considered a rabbit as a pet, I can highly recommend them as the perfect companion. They are cute and cuddly, quiet, can be litter trained, don't live as long as cats and dogs, and can be made into a tasty stew if your circumstances in life become drastically reduced.

Whew, I am glad to get this first post out of the way! I promise more psycho and less boring semi-factual information from this point forward!