Thursday, May 31, 2007

I Can't Believe I'm Transcribing a Dialogue with My Toddler

This morning, after a tedious toddler-mom argument:
Crabmommy: "When will you listen?"
Crabtot: "When I'm thirteen."

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Is Tinky Winky Gay?

This is a question being prodded in Poland. Because Tinky Winky of the Teletubbies carries a purse.

Poles, stop asking the BBC. Ask Crabmommy. I know all about gay children's book characters and I am pretty unbiased. I mean, I defended Miss Clavel of Madeline from such insinuations by Google Adsense (although I did point out that Pepito was a bit of a pansy).

Thursday, May 24, 2007

We Don't Need No Education

Mom-pests, they are everywhere. Especially at the library.

To reinforce my every word of the inaugural We Don't Need No Education post, yesterday's Storytime gave me exemplary moms to skewer and roast.

So Tot and I are in the library, post Storytime—a particularly learning-oriented affair today, with greetings in 50 languages— and then 2 separate moms come along to tweak my vibe.

MOM #1:
She is someone I know only vaguely, and is perfectly nice and all, but has that special aura of the education-driven parent. This means that when reading to her tot, it becomes clear that reading is a very important activity, and must not be interrupted. Vocab words are stressed ("What terrific words here! Can you tell me what the word for this would be?") and enunciated carefully. Gratuitous counting takes place (i.e., the constant focus on the number of bunnies in the bush or tomatoes on the vine or whatever). And overall, a certain Julie-like tone is taken during reading. It is a hushed and delighted and above all, reverential tone. It is that tone that tells the tot she is in the presence of literature and that we must learn to bow before its altar before we can even tie our own shoes.

Mostly I just found it bugging that she seemed so hell-bent on making her kid read and didn't want to shoot the breeze with me.

Now, lest you think I don't dig books or have no aspiration for my own child as a future reader: I majored in French and English literature. I went to a good school. I went to grad school. I have read a book or two. I have even published some...ish... (okay, they were Sweet Valley High novels... and I was just a ghostwriter BUT THEY ARE PRETTY FREAKING GOOD). The point is, I like me some literature. I like me some high culture. I write short stories and they get published in magazines so classy that nobody reads them. People, the Crabmommy reads the New Yorker. I have even read Proust. In French. (Okay, maybe just a smidge of Swann's Way but I guarantee that's more than anyone in Crabtown has read of it. Except you, EB)

So please understand: Crabmommy is a friend of books. I love our library. Even if they do sometimes make the children sing "Old MacDonald lives in Yellowstone."

What I don't like is the mommy-focus on reading as this sacred act. And I always find it ironic that the people who seem most vested in the teaching of literature, art, and music to their tots don't seem to give a rat's bum about these things as grownups. I mean, are we really supposed to believe that Julie gives a toss about literature, art, or music? Is she donating some of those BE shekels to the NEA, or endowing sculpture scholarships? I think not. (And even if she is, I still don't buy it from her.) I think she is the sort of person who, if she saw a poet walking down her street, would call ChildWatch. Okay, I am getting carried away. I guess what I'm trying to say is that there seems to me a gap between what these moms push onto their kids and what the moms themselves are like as adults. Are they listening to opera on their ipods? Are they reading Vaclav Havel's memoir? Do they weep with joy when they finally clap eyes on that Brice Marden? Please.

They are fakes. They are the sort of people who chortle and squeal loudly during comedic lines of Shakespeare. As if they are just knocked out by how funny it is. I am not talking about a slight chuckle when Kate the wench is getting ticked off in "The Taming of the Shrew." I am talking about those false I-am-so -erudite-watch-
me-scream- with-laughter-at-Shakespeare types.

So, ahem. Sorry. Back to Mom#1. The reverential voice. As my mom would call it, a "sepulchral" voice. As in very precious and serious.

MOM#2:
Comes in with 2 kids, an older boy and a baby girl. Baby girl makes a lot of noise and I say, "What a lovely loud baby!" To which Mom replies, "Yes, she's already starting to experiment with sounds," or somesuch. Hmm. Already. But I try to ignore and hope for the best.

It's when the mom starts forcing the older kid, who just wants to run around the playroom, to focus on some Spanish and you all know what I think of that. Picture this: preschooler is running around playroom and diving into this wooden boat thing.

Mom: "Do you see the boat door, L? That's called a "porta" in Spanish. Can you count the portas?" Then the ghastly pronunciation begins: "OOH-NO, DOSE, TRAYS!" Then Mom turns to me: "He's dying to learn Spanish. We go to Mexico a lot." Then, Mama starts ASL-ing to the 6 month-old. "Do you want milk?" she asks, signing furiously that teat-of-cow sign we in American Momland have come to know only too well.

It took all my willpower to stop my Crabclaw from reaching out and pinching. And as always, I held my tongue, but my inner crab voice spoke loud and clear and it spoke to me in English: stop with the learning!

My final judgment:
I know I'm generalizing and being harsh, and maybe these 2 poor moms don't deserve it, who knows, but there's a chunk of moms out there who do: Moms who preach learning at all costs, you are insecure. You are striving to make your kids cultured and literary because you yourselves are not. You don't read great books or listen to Mozart. Forget Mozart. You don't listen to much of anything. Or read much of anything. You wouldn't know art if it fell out of the sky and onto your heads. And you like it that way even if, deep down, you suspect it's actually quite lame and pathetic not to engage the world beyond your own.

If you were a bit smarter and more interesting, you would know that it's okay not to worship Mozart.Or admire Monet. But you should probably, like, get excited about something, you know? Other than yourself and your kid's every cognitive milestone, that is.

You LFMs (Learning-Focused Moms), you're not listening, but here's some Crab-advice anyway: if you stop spending so much time on the project of developing little Madeline, you might actually have time to do something else.

Like read a book.

Kids' Finger Length Predicts SAT Test Performance

This blog just writes itself.

I just love it when scientists have far too much time on their hands:

Scientists have known that different levels of the hormones testosterone and estrogen in the womb account for the different finger lengths, which are a reflection of areas of the brain that are more highly developed than others, said psychologist Mark Brosnan of the University of Bath, who led the study.
For more, go here.

Parents, I think what they're saying is, next time your teen gives you the finger, go and measure it.

And as for that stuff people say about the crooked pinkie denoting an aptitude for literature or whatnot, I guess it's not a crock after all. Which must mean that the line in the middle of your palm...if it's really long, you will make lots of shekels! According to a study done in Haifa by the Israeli Academy of Neurononsense.

Off to get the stats on Crabtot's stubby digits...

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Virgin Birth...of a Baby Shark

A miracle of birth in the NYTimes today. A shark gives birth to a sharktot and without the help of any males. A shark of the species bonnethead. Rather apt. It's called parthogenesis. As in, this shark has no daddy:It's not a lesbian thing, but more of a Virgin Mary vibe, in which nature sees fit to let girls have babies without boys. But never has a shark done so before. Sort of like a single mom just producing her own tot minus boyfriend or baster. A single mom with a bonnet. Go chick-sharks! Get yo' bonnet ON! (What the heck am I talking about? I do not know.)

Crabmommy loves me a good silly science story. I have had an abiding interest in silly science for quite a while. For example, I have written about abusive raping dolphins, bizarre moles with star-shaped noses-that-are-also-hands, and caterpillars that can hypnotize ants...but I'm not linking to that one because that magazine, called SEED, is just bursting with editorial foolishness and grammatical feebleness.

There. My first nasty personal moment on C-mommy. In my blogocratic oath, swore I wouldn't, but as you all know, she not only a crabber and shameless self-promoter, but a hypocrite-mommy too! Question of the week: Does that make Crabtot a hypocritter?

Oh my God, I just punned. It has come to this, people. Never read blogs with puns in them. Go away now! I beg you. Stop looking at me! I don't want you to see me like this. REMEMBER ME AS I USED TO BE!

GO! GO! (Or at least, go here, where I have a new and punless post today.)

Monday, May 21, 2007

We Don't Need No Education

I'm not the only person tired of the emphasis on "educational" toys and TV etc. People have been writing about this lately in the media, and no doubt the debates will rage on, just as they did when Crabgrandmommy was a Crabmom—with one bunch of moms hell-bent on educating the tots and the other mommy-team lying on deck chairs smoking fags and telling the kids to "run along and play."

So I'm not the only one bugged by the very self-conscious focus on early "learning." But what Crabmommy doesn't wish to add her two cents to this topic? I have decided to make a mini column out of it. Every month or so I will be mocking some educational toy, or a striving parent begging his kid to say "agua" instead of "water," or a pesky pediatrician/librarian repeating the line I have come to find highly annoying: "Read to your children."

Are you reading to your children?
Make sure you read to them every day!
Read to them in Spanish!


Reading. Really? I never thought of that!


Okay, so here's my first target:

BABY EINSTEIN:

Making fun of BE is about as challenging as shooting fish in a barrel, but this is my blog so I'm gonna do it. In fact, I have enough material for a whole column entirely devoted to the mocking of Baby E. But I'll try to keep it short and sweet.

For those of you in Souf-Effrica or the UK or some highly civilized place where you are not subjected to BE from baby's birth (is there even such a place anymore?), this is a highly irksome show geared to make tots watch TV as early as poss. It is the brainchild of a very tanned and completely bugging chick called Julie Figgerton-Whilliker or somesuch double-barreled thing.

Now Julie F-W is quite stupid-seeming, or as we say in my homeland of SA—lank dof—and she is also just nutty about high culture and committed to force-feeding Michelangelo and Monet and Tchaikovsky down the minute tracheae of our tots. And because we are such suckers for educational TV (oxymoron, anyone?), and because yes I admit it, the tots seem to dig these stupid programs, we have made Julie Schickerton-Doohicky a multi-millionnaire.

WHY I HATE HER SO
* She is very careful in the BE fine print to make no claims to improving the intelligence of your child via BE, yet it doesn't take a genius to infer that Baby Einstein is precisely designed to tap into your striving parental impulse to beef up Quinn's brainpower. (I assume the fine print protects Julie from litigation in case Quinn doesn't make it into the Harvard of all preschools?)

* I can't take her voice-over on that show. When using a big vocabulary word or having her little wanker characters clap hands to Shostakovich, she speaks in this trembly voice—the kind of voice that has a smile in it—a voice tremulous with the delight or fragile wonder of it all. A voice like she is making a discovery. Like she has just found a new tomb. Makes me want to vomit in my socks.

* It's bad enough that the tots get taught lullabies in Mandarin and Czech. But Julie outdoes herself in the following particularly offensive episode:

Jules is teaching the kids the word "home." and she says it with her customary love and delight and wonder. Home. Home! But then there are images accompanying that word. And what are those homes? Nothing but palatial Victorian brownstones, Cape Cod farmhouses, New England Colonial manses...Platonic ideals of home, complete with dorky dads frolicking with gaggles of kids in hammocks, or airplane-ing infant on the abundant golf-course field of lawn that surrounds home.

So, "Home" is a mansion, eh? Not a log cabin? Or a trailer, Jules. Not even an apartment? Nothing less than $1 mill, eh? Not even a cool bungalow? Or a prefab? Even one from Dwell magazine? Julie needs to travel and see some homes. She can come to my humble abode. Or cross the street to the cowboy-infested compound you readers have all come to know and love.

Home. Home! And there's Marlee Matlin furiously sign-languaging the word. I have a sign for you, Julie. (And unlike American Sign Language, it's universally understood.)

*Last, the sign language itself: I hate to break it to you, but having Children of a Lesser God up there teaching your kid a spot of ASL isn't going to make your tot some kind of linguistic genius or friend of the the Deaf. Once upon a time I spent many months trying to learn ASL and since I speak a reasonable second-language French, it's reasonable to assume I might be able to sign a tad after a bunch of classes. But this Deaf thing, it's a little harder than Jules wants you to know. It is 1000 times harder than French, Mandarin, or Czech. Yet Jules makes it seem like the Deaf are just a bunch of mimes. And that your kid can be a mime too! What a crock!

WHY I LIKE JULIE
There is one thing I gotta say I admire her for: she's managed to convince us that watching TV will make our kids smarter.

Now that's genius!

For more rantings and even a mention of Julie, check out today's new post at my Cookie bloglet.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Why You Need to Stop Blogging, Crabmom

Crabmom: clickety-click of the fingers, bloggity-blog on the keyboard
She is wearing: Why, her purple blogging robe, of course.
Crabtot: pitter-pat around the C-Mom, chitter-chat and general toddly-talk
She is wearing: A top and no bottoms, as is the way on these splendid summery mornings in Crabland.

Crabtot:
Mom, do you hear the wee-wee bird? (Ever knowledgeable about nature, C-mom has taught C-tot to distinguish our regional bird by its constant cheeping about going to the loo: wee wee...wee wee.)
Crabtot: Mom, can I wee in the flower bed?
Crabmom: Sure, lovey. [clickety-clackety....bloggity-blog...]

No, I heard that part. I am fine about the weeing au naturel. The next bit is the reason I should stop blogging.

Crabtot: Can I wipe with something-or-other?
Crabmom: Hmmm? [clickety-clackety....bloggity-blog...]
Crabtot: Can I...with this...?
Crabmom: Sure, lovey.

Only to discover: The wipe-material utilized was my...one and only CASHMERE sweater!

This is what happens when you blog too much. And Crabtot, if you get used to cashmere toilet paper now, my God, child, how will you ever survive this cruel, cold world?

*Disclaimer: I know I maintain in my Manifesto that potty humor isn't my bag but a) as I have also maintained, I am a hypocrite and b) surely the inclusion of the word "cashmere" adds a certain je ne sais quoi to the otherwise lavatorial nature of the post?*

Thursday, May 17, 2007

World Laughter Day

Rats! I missed it! Every year I try to remember this and then I forget.

World Laughter Day was the first Sunday of May. People, this is no laughing matter. Laughter yoga practitioners worldwide take their laughing very seriously. There are like 5,000 clubs around the world. These people meet regularly to laugh. Because apparently laughter really is the best medicine. It's good for you. According to these peeps.

Even in the sort of places -- or especially in the sort of places -- where you don't picture a lot of laughter (Germany, a town called Yellowknife, Canada) people are chortling in a big way. See here some Canadians: A while ago I planned to interview the founder of this laughter program, one Madan Kataria of India, Laughter Expert, for The Believer but I knew I couldn't keep a straight face. And I was worried that a laughter expert might know when one was laughing at and not with. And that he might not find that funny.

I mean, my questions for Mr. Kataria were going to be things like:
*If laughter is so good why do we do it when we’re being bad? [evil chuckle]
*What do you do when people have a horrible, annoying laugh and then they come to your studio and want to laugh all over you and everyone else? Do you advise laughter correction exercises? Or do you just advocate acceptance of the natural laugh tone and timbre?
*I hear people are laughing an awful lot in Denmark! What the hell have they got to laugh about?

Anyway, He Who Teaches Laughter gets the last laugh. I missed WLD and that is a serious bummer. I really wanted to go to a laughing venue this year so I could make fun of some people and take my own cheeky photos. Heck, I'm probably within driving distance of Yellowknife (when you're remote then remote is close, right?). Honestly, I could cry.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Croakies Competition Results

Wow! Quel turnout! People, I am proud of you. You wanted the Croakies and you dared to just go for it and try your luck. Unfortunately, as with so many things in life, there can be only one winner. And therefore many losers. But, ahem, back to the good news.

And the winner is...drumroll, please...

Amy
of the UK!

Amy, tell me where by emailing me at witchycrab at yahoo dot com, something I am writing out the long way to confound the spam robots. Congrats, Amy! enjoy some Crabtown chic! Thanks everyone else for an overwhelming number of Croakies entries! I am going to start doing this more often. Monthly treats, FREE for the asking.

Maybe next month, a package of bison hot dogs? Hmm, a bit tough to mail. Bison key ring, perhaps?

Stay tuned for Crabmommy Competition, Part Deux.

(And Evanzstox, I wish I could tell you the deleted comment was racy or mean...it was removed by ITS author -- not by me -- so who knows what angry things that person thought the better of saying.)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

FREE STUFF! (Really, This Time)

Today I received a very Crabtown sort of present.

You may recall I taught grammar to high school students here, and even though I called my class Dude, Where's My Comma?, Dead Poets' Society-style leaping onto desks did not occur. Nobody even so much as cracked a smile when I drew my Comma Chameleon on the board.

But. The town appreciates me. I know this to be true for I received a special goodie bag for teachers on this very day. In this town, that schwag means a canvas shopping bag (which I already have 3 of) containing the following:

2 x water bottles for the active teacher-on-the-go (i.e., not me)
1 x Power Bar for the active teacher-on-the-go (i.e., not me)
1 x high-altitude SP lip balm. Now that I like.
1 x baseball cap with the words "The Cougar Fund" on it
1 x "summer journal" with a wildlife image on it. I hate journals. Don't all writers hate journals? Don't all PEOPLE hate journals?
1 x $1 off bagel at the bagel place. (God, bagelpeeps, don't give it all away...you might go bankrupt!)
1 x ...and this is IT, people...sunglass Croakies

Now if you don't know what Croakies are, you, my friend, are lucky. They are these tubular foam thingimajigs that I associate ENTIRELY with Crabtown's sportif look. You tube the ends into your sunglasses and hey, presto! Glasses don't get lost.

Never mind that they are unspeakably dorky. And sometimes come with Grateful Dead-like hippie patterns on them. Not. Chic.

And so, dear readers, I offer them to you. Why, you ask, would YOU want these? Because...these particular Croakies give away the LOCATION of Crabtown upon them. This is tantalizing information, no?

Put your name in the hat. Write a comment and then I will let Crabtot draw the winning name tomorrow night. The first name up gets the Croakies and the privilege of knowing where resides the Crabmommy.

The second person gets the journal. Or, wait, maybe the first person should also get the journal, to compensate for the Croakies. Or maybe the Croakies compensate for the journal. Oh, heck, beat me to a pulp -- you can have the cougar hat too.

Because teaching is important! Teachers, you're awesome! Have some lip balm! Scribble in your journal! YOU. SERIOUSLY. BLOODY. ROCK.

Something's Going Down...Again

In the ever-thickening plot that is Crabcorner...more shenanigans here on the wrong side of town.

Stuff is going down, people. Things are shaking out strange. And it always gets me talkin' a certain sort of way.

Yesterday I looked out of my window and saw someone on my lawn...Before I got the chance to open the window and call out, he ran off. Which maybe doesn't sound so odd. Except...what's that in his hand? Wait, stop!

He made off with a fork. An eating utensil that belonged to me.

You see, Crabhusband dropped a fork over the BBQ last week and forgot to pick it up. There it lay on the lawn and I knew nothing about the matter until I recognized the fork clenched in the trespasser's hot little fist. My Ikea fork! I put 2 and 2 together and computed 3.5, which means I realized the fork had something to do with Crabhub who is meticulous in all ways except with regard to utensils when at the BBQ.

But why does the cowboy want my fork?

Clearly the guy is 5 forks short of a full setting. Dadgum weird, I tell ya.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Check This Box if You are Trying to Get Pregnant

I just made a rare internet baby-centric purchase at Babycenter.com, since I wanted to get this rad bath duck tub thing for a friend.

At the checkout, there was an odd moment: Check this box if you are trying to get pregnant.

That's some netiquette!

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Shameless on Mothers' Day

I promised some people free stuff if they came here.

But cheapmommy that I am, I don't have much stuff, period, and certainly not much to give away to you, my new readers.

But please don't go. I can rustle up something. For instance, I do have a very attractive bottle of Kellogg's cinnamon-toast-flavored syrup in my basement. I have no idea how I got it, nor why syrup should itself be flavored with cinnamon toast, but I am happy to give it to you. It is Jumbo sized!

I also possess 3 or 4 unused swim diapers from last year, size 1-2. Happy to make them yours.

Seriously, if you are looking for freebies, you incredibly shallow and materialistic people, I'm sorry to be such a cheap shot. But cheap I am. And whiny. And lazy. And selfish. And all those sorts of things that you should have gleaned from my name.

You Who Seek Free Stuff, please stay a while before leaving in disgust. I have a lot of most excellent free advice here, such as my previous post where I teach you how to teach your tot to listen. Okay, maybe only for 24 hours but it's a start.

I also can point you to a much more generous and cool blogmom than I, my good friend Mommyknows. This chick really gives away free stuff constantly. And her stuff is good. Right here. She has, like, amazing stripy water-socks and such. She is the real deal.

Happy Mothers' Day to you all. Especially to my own mother who might be reading this and who is extra-fantastic, the best Crab-grandmommy and the Crabbymom Original.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Ask Crabmommy, Part One: The Listening Chart

Because I am inundated by your requests for my advice, I thought I would start this new regular thing called Ask Crabmommy. If you have a question, feel free to continue to email me constantly at witchycrab at yahoo dot com.

Here's a good one to inaugurate the column:

Dear Crabmom,
My daughter just won't listen. I try to do Time Outs and all that Sears/ Modern Parenting crap but I still end up walloping the tot and then I feel so bad. We all know spanking is wrong and that it doesn't really work. Can you help?
Still Slappin'

Hi, Still Slappin'. Obviously you haven't been reading my blog very long or else you'd have seen that I, too, occasionally Slap 'Em To Sleep® . Or when awake. But sigh...like you, it does induce feelings of guilt in me. And as you mentioned, it plum doesn't work in terms of behavior modification. Here's another route that I like to call The Listening Chart®. Thought up by none other than C-mom. (Let's keep the credit where it's due. Right here. Meaning I need for you to put a little ® somewhere on your Listening Chart®, kay? Thanks!)

Right. Here goes. The Listening Chart®.

Instructions:

1. Go to Dollar Store if you are a cheapmom, or Staples will also do.
2. Buy 1 piece of posterboard, preferably in orange if that is the color with which your tot is obsessed. (And you can read all about that on my Cookieblog today.)
3. Shame on you, Crabmom. We are all so SICK AND TIRED OF YOUR ENDLESS BLOODY PLUGGING FOR THAT STUPID BLOGLET.
4. Get out of my list, whoever you are. I am trying to write serious advice here.
5. Purchase giant roll of Motivational Stickers from Dollar Store (gold and silver stars will also work, as will sundry other stickers, or if that doesn't thrill your wee one, Singorillo Bandaids are fine. Whatever floats her boat).
6. Come home. Have a G&T or a fudge cake or something as a treat to gear up for such an audaciously dull activity as what follows.
7. Get a ruler, a Sharpie and make Mon-Sun columns down your chart.
8. Why is your Sunday column so teeny? You can't measure, you loser. Turn the poster over and start again.
9. Oh, sorry. I mean, before the columns, give your chart a catchy title: Taylor's Listening Chart or Lulu-Belle's I'm a Good Girl Chart. (And you, know if you use my LC term, please do me the respect of giving it the little ® we discussed earlier.)
10. This is the hard bit. Try to categorize the things she repeatedly disobeys you on. This is hard, right? I mean the tyke bloody never listens. So now I am expected to chart this stuff? Seriously, narrow it down or you'll be here all night and there will be no room for stickers.
11. So you have, say, 5 things each day that little Robitussin or Chantaglia does that really tweak your vibe. It's the refusal to clean teeth. It's the not wanting to wash face. It's the no quiet time. It's the smoking crack in the house.
12. Now come up with little pictographs for the chart to indicate these things, so you can show young Amaranthia the little toothbrush and say, "When I say,'brush your teeth' and you listen, you get a listening sticker right here."

You get the rest. When tiny impish Shampiqua sees that Listening means a Listening Sticker on the Listening Chart she will get very, very excited. She will listen her heart out. She will be such a very good listener. And you will stop smacking. And everyone will be hugging and sticking stickers and listening 'til their ears fall off.

For exactly one day.

And then, it will all go up in a puff of smoke, my friend. The motivational stickers will lose their sticky allure and young Harlequina will tell you that word you haven't heard for 24 hours. That two-letter word. NO. No to the clever Crabmom's Listening Chart. No to the teeth-cleaning, the cleanup of toys, the not scribbling with orange marker on the door.

She will say no.

And you will smack her.

And the Listening Chart, it will go the way of all things in this life.

LC, R.I.P.

Seriously, I tried my best, people. But after working so hard on the LC and hearing all those NOs today a mere day after finding the stupid motivational stickers that I had to search so hard for in the godforsaken dollar store (cuz stickers are of course sandwiched between fliplops from Thailand and bulk barrels of dishsoap)...after all that, I just lost it. I smacked. It hurt. She cried. I felt good. I felt bad. And so tomorrow, we try again the path of non-violence and hope that this time something will stick. But not stickers. They don't work in this house.

Okay. So I hope that helps you, um, Still Slappin' Mommy. Always glad to be of service! Please everyone, do email me pronto with more questions! Love to give of my wisdom!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Something's Going Down

Mysterious happenings on Crabtown's busiest corner.

After the slummy cowboy-compound log cabin levitated in front of our very eyes, we thought we'd had our spring highlight. But the actividades suspicionades (no, I don't speak Spanish) continue.

Sometime last week, Crabtot and I were eating breakfast when a very large trailer parked itself beside our house, blotting our view of the neighboring trees and dog-poopy lawn. C-tot waved to the men as they set the trailer up -- on bricks -- clearly this one was going nowhere (unlike the ill-fated log cabin). Crabtot was excited -- a new kind of house on the block, and this one would not leave her, as evidenced by the bricks busily placed beneath trailer towheads or whatever they're called. Crabmom a little less enthused in her purple robe. I try to catch the men's attention but they sort of disappear before I can ask, "how long is this thing going to be here?"

Maybe you wouldn't so much mind a trailer beside your house. But you might if it was emblazoned with the words "REDNECK RACING" in red and black Metallica-ish lettering trailing fire. This sort of impedes my view. Not just of the trees and doggy-do lawn across the street. But my view of myself. it is one thing to live next door to burned out log cabins and meth-sniffing rodeo people who sleep in their cars, but something about this truck -- REDNECK RACING -- right before my very eyes from the breakfast table...it just crosses my line.

So I was all ready to post a picture and all...but the trailer mysteriously disappeared overnight...gone! After one week. C-tot rather disappointed, and I was too, but only because I didn't get the pic. But I have good excuses, such as the unspeakabale tummy bug that kept me from blogging the last 4 days. Nothing like a terrible bug and then a 2-yr-old with you for the ride (Dad away for the whole lovely period).

I am not one of those bloggers who will treat you to a blow-by-blow of my illnesses. Suffice it to say I was hideously ill and could not snap pix of redneck trailers nor do any sort of blogging. So that is why I have been so cyber-silent. It is not because I have ditched this blog in favor of my paying blog (but speaking of...I have a new post up there today too, so please do go and view it, because I need all the new readers I can get to launch the Crabmommy offshoot. Okay, I promise to keep the shameless plugging to a minimum. If, ahem, you promise to do a double-swig of C-Mom today, right here, right now).

So the trailer is gone. But the shenanigans on Crabcorner continue. Sheriffs have been slowly circling the block the past weeks and occasionally stopping beneath the trees or beside my house (before the trailer claimed its place) to speak into their sheriffy implements.

Here our sheriffs are pretty cool-looking with big mustaches and droopy "I've seen it and I aint talkin'" James Coburn-y kind of expressions.

So you get sort of excited when you see their cars. And yer start talkin like someone who lives on Crabcorner. Heck, last year I was out walkin' Tot when the Sheriff stopped and said "Scuse me, Ma'am, but could you please go inside your house as fast as you can." Turned out there were a shooter down the block going plum crazy.

Um. But this year. They lurk about. They pause in front of my house twice, get out of cars and look at me. Finally I ask if I have done something wrong, rather hoping I had. Turns out they'se looking fer my neighbor. I get excited about this news. But no, it's not cowboy-compound neighbors they're after, it's ordinary ski-bum neighbor.

They ask me not to tell him they're looking for him. I agree but only because I don't really know him...plus I want to see things GO DOWN.

And so we wait. I only hope I didn't miss the action while sick in bed. I mean, this is the Wild West and I am ready to see some action. This is exciting stuff. Unless of course the guy just hasn't paid his parking tickets. Which, I'm afraid, in a town this small, is a likely reason for two sheriffs to come knocking.

Will keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Caution: Xtreme Playground

Yesterday Crabtot and I went to a local playground training arena for future athletes.

Witness the slide – is it a slide or, as another mom put it, a luge? The ostensible slide is at an almost 90-degree angle, mimicking the mountain in the background – apparently the steepest ski slope in the nation, a slope so high that snowmobilers trek here to test their skills annually on this icy ramp…indeed, they come from far and wide to see who can snowmobile up to the top without backflipping. (Remember this word "backflipping." I shall return to it later.)

So, the slide: it is also very narrow...perchance to train the mini-winter Olympians of Crabtown to tuck arms in when luging down the pipe? And did I mention high? It is absurdly high. No wonder Crabtot does not wish to slide down it. I won’t either. It is as steep as the Crabtown health insurance deductible. Too dangerous for any adult. Yet it has been designed expressly for kids. Whaa?

But this is Crabtown, a locale busting with skiers, climbers, and triathlonians, so you can be quite sure that as you and Crabtot stand warily at the foot of this Seuss-like landscape of giddy-twisty-high-altitude slides, ramps and assorted gymnastic intimidation, an-uber-triathletically inclined family to the power of 50 squared will pull up beside you on their bikes, parents dressed in full-on Lance Armstrong regalia, and bikes trailing all manner of baby-buggy equipment designed to get the whole gang up and out and exercising in all weather and on all terrain.

Said folks will clamber out of contraptions and encourage children to try and kill themselves expand their physical capabilities. Children may even be prompted to scramble up – yes, up – the luge slide, pushed from the rear end by Mom and caught frontally by Dad’s dangling, wiry arm as he perches above. All of course in the spirit of family fun and kid-confidence-building. Because while Dad may be pulling up tot by her pull-up, and Mom pushing her from behind, nobody is metaphorically pushing or pulling anyone here. We are just going with it – with the spirit of our goofy, crazy, extreme, fearless, adrenaline-junkie two-year-old!

Now, to be fair: I know plenty of sensible moms here who do not prod their tots up luge-slides or onto those scary cantilevered playground platforms that thrust into the air (serving no purpose but to invite tots to jump). Many moms, like me, are nervous about these mini-fairground enviros, and we watch with worry, race forward, jump back, bark cautionary comments, position ourselves strategically and in all ways manifest appropriately freaked out concern at the playground. Fun times!

But there are other parents. Whose voices ring with collective Crabtown Coaching: “You can do it, Carter!” “Good job, Belleville!” Yes, these parents are unfortunately all too present, their fearless spawn encouraging our timid tots to go higher, faster, and AGAIN!

When I first moved here and saw a little tiny thing launching herself off a platform and then flinging herself across the monkey bars like some kind of actual monkey – ice-wind chapping her lips but steely Crabtown resolve in her Nordic-champ eyes – I got nervous. I felt sure she would break her neck as she approached a frozen scaffold. I then figured that I was just unused to the sorts of things that kids could do, since mine was still an infant. But, on chit-chatting with the mom I realized that there was more to it.

“With most kids you have to worry,” the mom told me. “But she's very coordinated." And then she nattered on about the kid's "power and strength" and informed me that with the gymnastic training she was already receiving twice weekly, "she can handle whatever she takes on.” (Mom looking quite grim, hair pulled back into no-nonsense Mommy Coach pony, brow furrowed from years of heavy bike-riding at high altitudes).

Fun times!

Again yesterday, fun was the order of the day as I watched that wee thing almost wipe out of the luge with Mom calling “You can do it!” and Dad shunting her down. And after I expressed amazement that such a childlet (barely two) wasn’t afraid of the slide like my own Crabtot, I got this: “Not our girl. She’s practically doing backflips on skis.”

Practically. Doing. Backflips.

On skis.


Question to the floor: Is the too-high scary playground just a Crabtown phenom or are playgrounds nationwide all this insane? I find it so odd, in a culture obsessed with safety, that I’m seeing such tricky and dangerous playground setups. Then again, I’m pretty sure it’s Crabtown-specific or at least specific to ski towns. Where else else do you spot a mom skiing with her infant strapped on in a Bjorn.

Downhill skiing. Infant facing downslope in a frontal carrier.

But I guess some kids can handle it. Put her in a Bjorn this season and by next she's practically doing backflips on skis!

Crabtown Parks and Rec Services, here's a tip: Maybe you should signpost the various parts of playground according to level of difficulty. You know, Double Black Diamond and all that. **You might need a new symbol for that luge slide in Edward Scissorhands Neighborhood Playground. It's a bit beyond black diamonds, but my husband has come up with a new tag you could use: Beige Helix.