Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Naked Strike Update

Many people have asked me, "So how goes the Naked Strike?"

Well . . . it took me a while (six months to be precise), but we now have Semi-Naked Strike punctuated by moments of full dress. My solution (finally came to me about two weeks ago) was to get VERY creative.

Turns out Demon Baby has aspirations to be a Ninja.

So I bought him black fleece sweatpants with no tags (tags are a big no-no).

And black turtlenecks of all cotton (again, no tags).

And those are his Ninja outfits.

He will wear his Ninja clothes, commando (no underwear ever), punctuated by long stretches where he will wear his Ninja pants only, with no shirt, no matter how cold it is (as in picture in post below when my house's temperature was 62 and it was freezing outside). Socks are a no-go, so he's barefoot 24/7, even when I take him to church or the store.

At night, he still prefers to be naked, but I have convinced him that this ONE shirt he has (that is a hand-me-down from his brother) is protective Ninja nighttime armor. So he will wear THAT, with no underwear. It falls to his knees, so that's OK.

So it's now mostly a Semi-Naked Strike.

And my son is a Ninja.

It's a good thing I am a writer and creative.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Pig and the Demon


His favorite stuffed animal.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Stocking Raider

The stockings are hung. In anticipation of Christmas, I had stuck a dark chocolate bar in each. No one noticed because they are flat, and really? Who checks their stocking before Christmas?

We've been telling Demon Baby that Santa would bring his sister home from college. On the way to the airport, he was convinced Santa's sled was landing. When she arrived, he was delirious with joy.

When he got home, the first thing he did was check his stocking where he found his candy bar. When I asked him why he looked in his stocking, his answer was, "Because Santa came tonight."

Christmas morning he is going to be SO surprised.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Visiting Santa

BAREFOOT.

It was 30 degrees out.

Classic Demon Baby.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What Demon Baby Wants for Christmas

You don't SERIOUSLY think he wants normal things, like TOYS, do you?

Of course not!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I present Demon Baby's Christmas list.

1. This.

2. THIS!

3. And this.

My kid is from Mars.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

How You Know You Are the Mother of a Demon Baby

When you return from an evening out and ask the babysitters (PLURAL; it takes TWO to watch him), "How did it go?"

"No lasting or permanent damage. "

Friday, December 5, 2008

The Instruction Manual

If children come with an instruction manual, I have lost mine. While Oldest Daughter, a classical violinist, has turned out amazingly well and mature and intelligent, I know I made HUGE mistakes with her. Alas, the life of the firstborn, when parents are pretty clueless.

Child #2, a boy, is an easygoing kid. He is starting to seem a bit like a teenager (he's 13, after all), but even at that, he empties the dishwasher, will watch Demon Baby, and still tells me he loves me.

Child #3, a girl, reads on the college level (she's 10) . . . and is very smart, but very visual. She wants to be a filmmaker, perhaps, or a poet (she's a great writer). Also relatively easy.

And then there's Demon Baby. Not only have I lost my instruction manual for him, I think when HIS instruction manual was printed, it instantly was engulfed in flames--spontaneous combustion.

He didn't speak a word for over two years--almost 2 and a half years. Then he started speaking in paragraphs. And he has is perculiarities.

So I study him to try to figure him out. He has all sorts of food issues--like don't EVER stir his spaghetti or touch his food once he has started eating it. Cut all the crusts off his peanut butter sandwiches. DON'T let the peanut butter jar even THINK about mating with the jam jar.

And the whole naked thing. Yesterday, I wrestled him into clothes for preschool, and he screamed, "They're hurting me!"

"Your clothes are not hurting you."

"Yes, they are."

So I stopped and really listened. His ANGUISH was evident. No joke. We added a soft cotton t-shirt under his sweatshirt, and he seemed happier with it.

But I feel like he just--on a purely sensory level--likes being naked. He's just different that way.

That's in his instruction manual.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What Miscreant . . .

. . . invented Christmas light-up things that make noise? LOTS of noise. LOUD noise.

Demon Baby has discovered two things out of the vast array of Christmas crap I own and have accumulated over the years.

1) Santa . . . in a "Low Rider." It plays the song Low Rider. His dad is Mexican . . . we got it as a gag gift. It is Demon Baby's favorite Christmas item. I now hear Low Rider in my sleep.

2) The musical house. Demon Baby's sister has a Christmas village and last year got a little house with the MOST OBNOXIOUS musical song and lights. It lasts for five minutes and I am ready to toss it out the window. Yet the sight of Demon Baby dancing next to it keeps it there in my office. I have a headache--but the kid is cute.

If I survive the next 25 days . . . with what little sanity I have left intact, that will be the Christmas Miracle.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Feast

My favorite thing ALL YEAR is to wear my pjs and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade with my children. It is something I look forward to for an entire year. Something that means a lot to me, maybe because I grew up in NY and remember watching it with MY parents and grandparents.

Demon Baby was having NONE of it. He screamed and whined through the entire parade until I was ready to make a pitcher of Bloody Marys.

While I cooked (well, my mom did most of it, but I cleaned and set the table), he continued to whine and scream and otherwise wear on everyone's nerves.

Then Demon Baby attended the Thanksgiving feast naked. After persuading him into sweatpants (but no underwear and no shirt), he refused to eat and pretty much disrupted the entire family meal until I was ready to pour HIM a gimlet if he would just settle down and be quiet.

He wanted his pie first.

And then he wanted whipped cream. But sucked off the can and not ON his pie.

He wanted gingerale--mixed with Diet Coke because it makes the ices cubes look sort of amber-orange.

He didn't want to say grace.

I think he's giving my parents (living with me until sometime in January) an ulcer. Seventy-five-year-old men should not be subjected to demons. It's harmful to their health.

And so when it came time for me to say what I was grateful for before dinner, I was hard-pressed to come up with something beyond a mumbled "health and children."

And then . . . this morning, Demon Baby climbed into my bed. Naked, he curled up against me and hugged my arm and told me I was wonderful. He gazed up and me and said, "Touch your arm here."

"Where?"

"Right here," he pointed to my upper arm where he usually rests his head when he's curled up with me.

"Why?"

"Because it is the softest spot in the whole world."

And suddenly I knew why I was grateful beyond measure.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Demon Baby Switch

I am pretty sure Demon Baby's preschool teacher is delusional.

You see, yesterday, I got Demon Baby's preschool "report card." He only goes two half-days a week. On those days, when he wakes up and knows it's a school day, he cries. He screams. He tells me his teacher is ugly and mean and horrible and locks him in a cold, dark basement where she keeps her prisoners. He tells me it is awful, that they feed him horrible food (even though I make his lunch and make his peanut butter sandwich just so--two triangles, crusts cut off). That he has no friends and the other children are all stupid. He fights me when I get him dressed--which admittedly could be because he prefers being naked.

The entire way to school in the car, he cries. BECAUSE he goes to a church preschool, in the parking lot he will spew fun extra things like I HATE JESUS. THIS IS SO UNFAIR!

But his report card?

"Demon Baby is a teacher's DREAM."

WHAT?!?!?! Dream of hell? WHAT?!?!?!?!

"He is friends with EVERYONE."

Excuse me?!?!?!?!

"His favorite activity is lesson time, and he knows all the answers. I always count on him to answer every question."

Hello?!?!?!

"He is a joy."

Clearly, the woman has been smoking something. Or maybe . . . there has been a Demon Baby switch and the kid sleeping upstairs really ISN'T my Demon Baby. It's some other little child. I better run upstairs and check for the telltale 666.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Dreaded Middle Name

When I "middle name" my kids, they know they are in trouble. Demon Baby Middle Name Last Name, get in here right NOW!

And each of my children has a middle name for a beloved relative. Oldest is middle-named after my late grandmother, Irene. Oldest Son is middle-named after my dad, Walter. Baby Girl is middle-named after my mother, Maryanne. And Demon Baby's middle name is David after his grandfather on his father's side. That also happens to be the name of his uncle on his father's side.

Now, Demon Baby doesn't really know his grandfather. Grandpa David is Mexican-American and lives FAR away in New Mexico. Demon Baby doesn't know many of his father's relatives because of distance--like many Mexicans, they settled in San Antonio, Houston, and other cities in the South West.

So, in Demon Baby's mind, he is middle-named after his UNCLE David. Not Grandpa David. Because he doesn't know Grandpa David.

So it was last night Demon Baby and I went for an outing to a play-place. We sang the alphabet song. Then we worked on spelling his name. We spelled his first name. Then I said, "Let's spell your middle name."

"I know my middle name."

"Of course you do. So what is it?"

"Uncle."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Uncle. My middle name is Uncle, you know. After my Uncle David."

It was a good thing we were almost at our destination because I almost drove off the road laughing so hard.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Demon Baby's Uses for a Happy Meal


I wrestled him into an outfit.
He got a Happy Meal.
This is what he did with said Happy Meal.
Nice hat.
He does view the world . . . um . . . differently.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Naked Strike, The Winter Months

For anyone keeping count, Demon Baby hasn't worn clothes indoors since sometime in July. Not a stitch. Not at bedtime. Not at breakfast. Not when company comes. Leaving the house involves setting at least a half hour for wrestling him into clothes, and he doesn't leave them on when he gets home.

As the Demon Madonna, I tried to take a laissez-faire approach to his nakedness. After all, I reasoned, soon enough it would be winter. It would be cold . . . and clothes would win out as the rational approach. He would see "the light."

As weeks turned to months, as the leaves turned colors, he has shown no sign of relenting in his quest for 24/7 nakedness. I have tried lowering the A/C to 65 to "freeze him out." I have tried opening the windows when it is 32 degrees out.

None of these approaches have worked. His reaction to Operation Freeze is to go find something to wrap himself in, and to walk around naked, but bundled up. One might think he would choose baby blankets or quilts to wrap himself in. But that is the choice for ordinary mortals. This morning, I found him wearing my sweatpants as a cape.

I find myself, often, puzzling what will this little Demon become. His worldview is so unusual. As my mother puts it, based on the movie and book of the same name, he is my "Martian Child." His new favorite activity is to climb in the bathtub. naked, with no water in it, and play with shaving cream. He likes to "wear" a layer of shaving cream, which maybe to him feels like clothes. I don't know.

I do know this . . . Freeze-Out methods have failed. Talks with Management have completely broken down. I am trying to break the Naked Union, but . . . to no avail.

I need to get more creative.

In the meantime, here it is close to Thanksgiving, and my house is colder than an icebox. He's naked. I'M suffering. My lips are blue.

Naked Strike, The Winter Months.

If I was a playwright, instead of a novelist, I would call it The Naked Monologues.

Monday, October 27, 2008

A Demon on the Farm



I took Demon Baby to a pumpkin farm. They had animals, too--rabbits, sheep, cows, turkeys.

Demon Baby raided my wallet for quarters to put in the little pellet machines to feed said animals.

Then he stood at the fence, amidst a huge crowd, screaming, "SHEEP! COME HERE SHEEP! COME AND GET IT!!!!!!"

This is Demon Baby on the tractor ride. He made me ride it five times.

Five times on a tractor pull.

A woman can only stand so much excitement.

Then again, I got to see this smile the whole time.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Now I Know . . . He DOES Have a Minion

You know, spend some time around this house and you start to wonder how ONE Demon Baby could possibly make THAT much mess, destroy THAT much. Just today, I noticed the vent covers off the floor heating and A/C vents. I peered down to find six Pokemon cards, one stuffed animal, four pencils, three quarters, nine pennies, a nickel, and a container of applesauce had been shoved down my vents. Just how does he DO it?

So I asked.

"Who put all this stuff down the air vents. By the looks of this applesauce, you've been stockpiling down here for MONTHS!"

"Crapatage."

"What?"

"Crapatage."

"Sabatage?"

"No. My friend. Crapatage. He lives in Crappingham. He's the one who does this stuff. He puts all KINDS of things down the vents. And he likes making messes."

So now I know. It's not Demon Baby. It's his trusty sidekick. Crapatage.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Another Real Conversation

Does marketing work? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you . . . Exhibit Demon:


"Mom?" Demon Baby comes and stands by my desk chair and taps me on my arm. "I need you to get me something."

"What?"

"Soft cotton."

I look up from my computer. "I beg your pardon?"

"Yeah."

"Yeah what?"

"Soft cotton."

"I don't understand? Is it a toy? I've never heard of this toy? Say it again slowly."

Looking at me like I am an idiot, he pronounces it: "SOOOOOOOOFT COTTTTTTON!"

"Soft cotton?"

"Yeah, soft cotton."

I am completely confused. "I still don't get it. What is it you WANT?"

"It's on a commercial. Soft cotton. I think I need it."

"You mean, like those cotton commericals?"

"Yeah. And because you're my mom and you love me, and you're like the best mom I have--"

"I'm the ONLY mom you have."

"That too. And because you love me, you should really get me the best. Soft cotton."

Walks away.

So there you go, cotton industry. Apparently, your ads work.

Actual Conversation

"How was pre-school today, Demon Baby?"

Silence.

"Hey . . . come on. Did you sing a song? Did the teacher make you do that Baa-Baa-Black Sheep rhyme again? Did you paint? Did you go on the playground?"

Silence.

"How come you won't talk?"

"I will tell you how my day is. But first, you have to spell LEMUR."

"Lemur? Like the animal?"

"Yes. Spell lemur and then I will tell you about my day."

"All right, then. L-E-M-U-R."

Frowns. Walks away.

"I thought you were going to tell me about your day now."

"No. I have to think of a harder word for you."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

How to Wreak Havoc: By Demon Baby



1. Get naked.
2. Wait till mom is in the shower.
3. Get the OJ out of the fridge.
4. Get a chair.
5. Push chair to sink.
6. Dump OJ down the sink.
7. Start faucet.
8. Get the entire bottle of dishwashing soap.
9. Make bubbles.
10. Dump bubbles on the floor.
11. Get caught in the act and act cute.
12. Mission accomplished.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Halloween

As promised, a post about what Demon Baby wants to be for Halloween.

First, know that I have been trying, for three weeks now, to offer alternative costumes. ANY alternative costume.

Puppy.

Superhero. ANY superhero.

Fireman.

Cat.

Scarecrow.

Something, anything, but his dream costume.

What he wants to be for Halloween, what he will not be swayed from.

Which shows me how utterly eccentric he is.

Is a . . . .

worm.

Not an inchworm, cute and green. But a worm like from my garden.

"Why?"

"They're so darn cute." (Direct quote--I don't make this stuff up, folks.)

"But what do I dress you as? An all-brown . . . blob. You'll look like . . . dung."

"I want to be a worm."

So if you see my child looking like . . . well, crap . . . this Halloween, know it's just a mother trying to fulfill his fondest Halloween wish.

To be a worm.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Vote for Demon Baby


I've decided Demon Baby should run for president. First of all, there is no foreign leader on the face of the planet who wouldn't tremble at the sight of this little guy. The havoc he can wreak with maple syrup alone would send them scurrying. And think? If he can destroy a house with a single roll of toilet paper and a bottle of maple syrup, we can save billions in our defense budget.
Domestic policy? The kid's a natural. As in au naturale. OBVIOUSLY, he must be a libertarian. A free spirit. An advocate for what you do in your own home--such as remain stark naked for three months running (a new world record!) is your own business. A fierce advocate of privacy, he wouldn't tell anyone what to do.
Help for the poor? He has no problem sharing. He'd even willingly donate all his clothes to charity.
In short . . . Demon Baby is your man.
Um . . . Demon.
I'm Demon Baby's mother . . . and I approved this message.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crapple, in French

Demon Baby's sister goes to a gifted program--bused to a school so she can take some amazing classes for some amazingly smart little kids. Case in point, she's in elementary school and studying French, Latin, and Spanish.

Demon Baby apparently thinks being a master of destruction ONLY in English is so passe. So now he makes up songs and words--and tells us what they mean. Apparently, he now speaks French. No, in fact, apparently he now SINGS in French. So, while other children sing-song, "Twinkle, twinkle, little star . . ." we have . . .

Demon Baby plucking an air guitar and singing "Cinquo, cinquo, cinquo." When we asked what the song meant he said (looking at me askance as if I was REALLY stupid) . . . "Go to Mexico . . . in French." I didn't realize I needed an interpreter for his songs. To be fair, he has a Hispanic father and we talk about Mexico a lot.

But just today, he said, "Mama, I am going to teach you a little song. In French." It also had hand motions. From what I recall, the song amounted to singing, "Crapple, crapple, crapple" over and over again with a lovely little harmony and melody, while high-fiving your singing partner. When I asked what "crapple" meant, he said, "Go . . . go my friend. In French."

So there you go, crapple . . . crapple my friends!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Holy Toledo!

Remember the old Batman show? Remember how Robin always said things like "HOLY TOLEDO, Batman!"

Well, I, mother of Demon Baby (which I feel deserves some kind of title, like Demon Madonna), am the proud mother of . . . Demon Baby Robin.

What do I mean?

Well, Demon Baby isn't content with ordinary Potty Mouth lately. Instead, he twists Potty Mouth words into strange expressions that I am sure you will be sorry you didn't think of first. Such as:

Holy What the Crap!

Holy Cow from Hell!

(He uses the word HOLY a lot for a Demon Baby, doesn't he?)

What the FAKE!

(Misses the whole F-Bomb entirely, but I don't let him know that.)

Holy What the Fake!

(Because any Potty Mouth expression is better when it's made Holy.)

Holy Craptastic!

So there you go. Demon Baby Robin. Holy Toledo . . . here he comes!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Day 2 of Preschool: Only a Beheading

Demon Baby is home from preschool. He's now naked, of course.

He didn't spit on anyone. Didn't get naked in school. Didn't call his teacher a Potty Mouth word.

HOWEVER, for his "project" today, he made Mary and her Little Lamb--on Popsicle sticks like little puppets. The lamb had cotton ball fleece.

As we walked from his class down the hall to the exit and parking lot, he ripped poor Lambie's fleece off in chunks and threw the fuzz on the ground. By the time I got him in his car seat and pulled out of the parking lot, Lambie's head was ripped off, followed, soon after, by poor little Mary.

OTHER mothers will have boxes of neatly labeled projects from preschool. Pictures of apples and trees and stick figures and Christmas trees on colored construction paper.

I, Demon Baby's mother, will have a box of heads.

In Case You Were Wondering . . .

. . . where he gets some of his Potty Mouth words.

Naked Strike Week Six is underway. And this has been a BAAAAAAAAAAAD week for Management. A cousin died Monday (very sad). My father, who is already legally blind may lose his "good eye" (jokingly called such since it's not very good at all), and thus would be totally blind. I am flying to Florida in a week, with Demon Baby in tow to give my mom a little break (note the irony--flying to Florida WITH Demon Baby for a week to give someone a rest). Oldest Son has a bullying band teacher thus creating school anxiety. Tuition bills for college (gulp). Flying Oldest home for Thanksgiving proved financially impossible ($850), so she has to go to my sister's in Boston to the tune of about $500--still no small amount. I miss her terribly. Just a BAAAAAAAAAD week.

So last night, Management had a breakdown. After speaking to my dad on the phone and getting bad "good eye" news, after Demon Baby threw 50 (count 'em) PENNIES down the garbage disposal (entailing me hurting my hand fishing them out), and then tkaing a box of Honey Nut Cheerios and adding water to it to "make soup." After deciding socket wrenches (used to fix something he broke) would make good projectiles . . . Management freaked.

And so Management was mean. Management was most especially mean to Oldest Son, who didn't deserve it. And so Management went in to Oldest Son (who had forgotten his band book at school, thus incurring Management's crabby wrath) and said, "I'm really sorry that I was being such a bitch." Management said it softly. She gave Oldest a hug.

Demon Baby overheard. Demon Baby started jumping up and down (naked) and screaming, "YES! You really are the BIGGEST BITCH! The biggest most humongasaurus bitch ever!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

And I was. But then we all laughed. I couldn't help myself. He was so darn gleeful. And then I thought . . . oh, goodness . . . that is SO going to come out at an oh-so-inconvenient moment.

The Curse of the Potty Mouth.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Demon Baby's First Day of School--Not Expelled Yet

He cried for an hour that he didn't want to go and promised he would be a totally perfect angel if I would JUST let him never go to school and stay home with me forever.

I know better.

He went to school.

He kept his clothes on.

He did NOT, as he had threatened, call his teacher a Potty Mouth name.

He didn't hit anyone.

He didn't spit.

He did paint (and got it on his shorts and shirt).

He ate his lunch.

He came home and stripped and is now naked.

He informed me he did NOT "see God" at school (goes to a church pre-school). As a Demon, he would know, I guess, if God was hanging around.

He was not expelled.

A good first day of school.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Things Demon Baby Feeds The Dogs When I'm Not Looking

Demon Baby does not understand the dogs eat dog food.

Oh, yes, he SEES the jumbo bag of food for Dreamer (left) and Cosmo (right). I point out to him DAILY that it says DOG CHOW on the bag. That there is a PICTURE of a DOG on the bag.

But he persists in feeding the dogs (in random order):

  • Kraft macaroni and cheese. UNCOOKED. With the cheese "dust" as "glitter" for their fur. I know when this is happening by the very LOUD crunching of the dogs as they eat uncooked hard noodles. The cheese glitter is just a bonus.
  • Raisin Bran. We have an older corgi with irritable bowel. Enough said.
  • Crayons.
  • Pebbles. The dogs don't fall for this one but . . . .
  • Shoes. They don't eat them, but they do chew them.
  • Rubber spatulas from the kitchen. Same as item above.
  • Peanut M&Ms
  • Pretzels
  • Popcorn
  • Socks
  • Cheese. A lot of cheese.
  • Paper
  • Yogurt
  • Anything a sensible person might think of as trash, including the stuffing inside barious stuffed animals

The two dogs above adore him.

He has converted them to his minions.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

I Can't Make This Stuff Up

I took a shower. I emerged. Five minutes, tops--that's all I can really allow myself during any of his waking moments.

Demon Baby was quiet.

TOO quiet.

What was he up to, you ask?

He managed to open the BRAND-NEW roller shade for Baby Girl's bedroom, pull off ALL the shade, so he had a thin "bat" of the center roller. (Throwing the shade in a heap over the second-story landing--WHY didn't I buy a ranch?)

Then he played baseball with his new bat.

Throwing up his Sippie Cup and trying to hit it out of the park. Or in this case, family room.

Note . . . he has an entire toybox--MULTIPLE toyboxes, actually, with balls and cars and trains and fake cooking stuff for his pretend stove, and coloring books, and crayons. And Superhero dolls.

A roller shade.

I just cannot make this stuff up.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Superpowers

Demon Baby is FASCINATED by superpowers. He is convinced that one karate chop from him will render any monster powerless. He thinks he can shoot fire from his fingertips. Defeat dragons. You name it. He wants the world to be afraid of him. VERY afraid.

And, in fact, we are.

Now, I might add, he is growing up with a mom who . . . well, runs things. So I think he sees me as some sort of superpower mom. Call me Wonder Woman.

So we were driving to the Food Bank to bring donations, and he was in his car seat--naked. Well, underwear only. And I looked in the rearview mirror and he was pinching his chest.

"What are you doing?"

"Pinching my boobs."

"You don't have boobs."

"Well, what do you call THESE?"

"Those are nipples, and boys have them, but only girls and trannies have boobs, so . . . you don't have boobs."

"But boobs are superpowers."

"I like to think so, yes, but sorry, you still don't get them."

"I want superboobs to add to my superpowers."

"Stick with the Karate Chop of Death."

"Okay."

But I still notice him eyeing my obvious superpowers.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Naked Demon Tattoos


Yes. He is flexing his muscles.
Temporary tattoo of barbed wire courtesy of 10-year-old sister.
He wanted his penis tattooed. This was the compromise.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Naked Strike's New Twist

Managements talks with Demon Baby have deteriorated further.

Went to my pastor-friend's house last night for dinner. Demon Baby stripped out of his shirt, complaining about a "tag"--which did not exist.

"But it's itchy."

"It can't be. This shirt has no tag."

Multiple times I had to stop him from stripping out of the rest of his clothes, but he did remain shirtless.

But the new twist?

He now is giving up bathing.

"I want to see how stinky I can get."

Day 1. Not bad.

Day 2. Still not bad.

Day 3. A little ripe.

Day 4. Noxious. So I get to wrestle Demon Baby into the bathtub today. I just can't stand the stench. AND, I am equally confident that he wouldn't care HOW long he went without a bath.

I may have to bring in labor scabs. Some fake kid to take his place just so I can have a moment's peace.

Friday, August 29, 2008

All Things Are Better Naked

The impasse between Management and Demon Baby continues.

As I write, he is, of course, stark naked. When I ask him if he is EVER going to put on clothes, he tells me no. Not maybe. Not someday. NO.

"Life is better naked."

For the record, these are the things he appears to think are better naked:

eating macaroni
playing with the dogs
going out to the mailbox to check for mail
sleeping
talking on the phone with Grandma
waving to the mailman
answering the door for the Pizza Hut man
greeting his babysitter yesterday

As you can imagine, I pay my babysitters REALLY well ($50 for four hours of work plus takeout). Just as I pay my weekly housekeeper above the going rate so she doesn't quit in despair.

Babysitter arrived. Naked Demon Baby greeted him. For the record, the babysitter arrived early. I had scheduled a 20-minute "wrestle some clothes on Demon Baby" session so the babysitter wouldn't think I was clinically insane allowing my child to be nude all the time. But with babysitter's early arrival, he (guy babysitter) was greeted by full frontal.

"Sorry," I apologized.

I was able to convince Demon Baby that he and babysitter would have LOADS more fun if Demon Baby at least wore dinosaur underpants.

"Why?"

"'Cause it's like a secret club. All the guys wear dinosaur underwear. They just don't advertise it like you do. But trust me on this one."

So I got him in underwear.

He fell asleep on the couch at 8:00 just as I got home. I put him to bed. The minute his head hit the pillow--IN HIS SLEEP--he kicked his legs and removed his underwear, rolled over and went on to Naked Dreams.

Management is close to giving up.

But I bet you all are jealous about the dinosaur underwear.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Naked Strike, Week II

Negotiations between Management and Demon Baby have broken down.

Total nakedness enters Week 2.

We went to the planetarium. I told him planetarium outings required clothes. He consented. Briefly. We started walking inside.

"I need to take off my shoes and socks."

"Why?"

"They itch me."

"You have to wear shoes and socks or you can't see the planets and stars inside."

Huffing his displeasure, he followed me inside.

"I have to go to the bathroom."

I led him to the ladies room. He chose a stall. "I'm locking it so you don't look at me while I pee."

"I've seen it all before, Demon Baby."

"Still . . . KEEP OUT."

I could see him shedding clothes underneath the stall door.

"Demon Baby, open this bathroom stall right now."

"NO!"

He emerged, as you can imagine, naked. BUT wearing his shoes and socks.

"You cannot tour the planetarium naked. We'll be kicked out. I may appreciate your Naked Strike, but the Planetarium Union will not accept this."

"Why?"

"Because, generally, people wear clothes in public."

"Why?"

"Because."

"Well, that's stupid."

"Don't say stupid, that's potty mouth."

"I love potty mouth."

"I know. Get dressed."

Huffing again. "Fine. But I'm not wearing underwear."

"Commando it is. Just put on CLOTHES."

He did. As soon as we got home, talks further broke down.

Naked Strike continues.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Frat Boy

I made a startling discovery this week.

After a week in which Demon Baby decided to spend it entirely naked (every time we dressed him, he ran off and stripped . . . so unless we were duct-taping clothes to his body, I decided he would just spend it as a nudist and maybe grow bored of the whole idea) . . . Demon Baby has THREE obsessions.

1. Nudity.
2. Breasts--particularly large ones.
3. Guitar Hero.

My three-year-old son . . . is a FRAT BOY.

I am afraid. I am VERY afraid.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Lost in Translation

Demon Baby is very clever. Lately, if he finds that his older brother and sisters are not letting him have his way, he comes into my office and says, "Older Brother won't let me play with his Nintendo." Or "Older Sister won't let me eat candy for breakfast." To which I reply, "You don't play nice with Older Brother's things, so he is justified in that," or "Because candy isn't breakfast food."

He nods. Then he toddles off, and I can hear him go to them, "SHE SAID that if you don't let me play Nintendo she is going to chop your head off." (This is Demon Baby after all.) Or "SHE SAID to let me have candy and ice pops for breakfast and if you don't, she will put you in time-out and then put you on a space ship and send you to outer space." (One, Oldest Sister is 18; two, I don't have those kind of connections at NASA or I already would have sent Demon Baby into orbit.)

Something is getting lost in the translation.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Betty Friedan and Me

Today, every time I sat my writer's ass down in my writer's chair to work, Demon Baby beckoned me. What did he need? The list was endless:

Pull up my pants
Get me orange juice
Make me noodles
You didn't make them right, make 'em again
Wipe my butt
Pretend I am a dog and pet me in my doghouse
Wipe my butt (this is my official job since no one else in the house is interested in toilet training)
More juice
Play "boat and pirate"
Dance
Change your iPod to the Clash
Kiss me
No, don't kiss me, because you have cooties and are gross
Get me cheese (the cheese fetish this kid has is alarming)


You get the idea.

And I am reminded of Betty Friedan:

"It is urgent,” she said, “to understand how the very condition of being a housewife can create a sense of emptiness, non-existence, nothingness in women. There are aspects of the housewife role that make it almost impossible for a woman of adult intelligence to retain a sense of human identity, the firm core of self or ‘I’ without which a human being, man or woman, is not truly alive. For women of ability, in America today, I am convinced there is something about the housewife state itself that is dangerous.”

Now, I am not--narrowly speaking--a housewife. In fact, in some ways, I am something even more exhausting. I am a full-time writer, supporting my family as I work from home, with no child care help and very little support, with four children, doing all those empty chores . . . while trying to preserve a sense of me.

And into this world Demon Baby was born.

It is difficult, even with this blog, to convey the very idea that not FIVE minutes can go by without something crashing, without him needing ME. And I cannot tell you how often I hear Betty Friedan whispering in my ear. Mocking me, maybe. "Your IQ? Twenty books published? A butt wiper?"

So it has been that Buddhism and service has been my salvation. The very idea that the ACT of love, of sacrifice, is a religious or spiritual ritual in and of itself.

I do it imperfectly. I really do. But I strive to see this altar of my Demon Baby as something beautiful. The idea that I was here when he took his first breath in this world. And one day, perhaps, he will be by my bedside as I take my last, but somehow, the cosmic umbilical cord remains. He is mine, and I am his, and we are forever linked.

Don't get me wrong . . . Freidan spoke of something very real. She spoke of the mind-numbing reality of running a household.

But I guess, today, as I watch my Demon Baby sleep . . . I see something more, something different.

I see love.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Funny

Demon Baby just screamed for me.

"MOM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I need your help!!!!"

He was in the bathroom, so I jumped up from my desk. "What's the matter?" I called from the outside of the bathroom.

"My pants are UNLOCKED!!!!!"

He came out, with his jeans shorts unsnapped, and sort of thrust his belly toward me. "Lock them again!"

Tattoo You

I feel quite certain that Demon Baby will one day be a heavy metal rocker with multiple piercings, a mohawk, and tattoos.

As if to confirm the latter . . .

Anytime it is "too quiet"--that hair standing up on the back of my neck, I know he is in trouble quiet--I come to discover he has marked up his body from head to toe with magic markers. I have hidden every Sharpie in the house--the permanent kind. But with six of us, it is nearly impossible to hide every pen. And now that Demon Baby is toilet-trained, he goes alone to the bathroom--AND knows how to lock the door.

Hence, his legs are green today. His hands black. And he's got some pink around his belly button.

A sign of what's to come one day?

Friday, July 25, 2008

My Morning

By 9:00 a.m. today, Demon Baby and I had been to The Dollar Store and the grocery store. These trips, alone, I could have done in a combined total of 45 minutes. Tops. Including driving there and back. Instead, it took an hour and a half because Demon Baby no longer likes to ride in the cart and instead prefers to HELP me push the cart, and since I value the lives of innocent grocery store workers, and senior citizens shopping who can't move quickly out of the way, I must wrestle with him and the cart to keep it from careening wildly and causing a disaster. In addition, I answered 987 questions from Demon Baby, 986 of which began with WHY?

WHY did a bird poop on our car?
WHY did someone leave a penny on the ground?
WHY does our cart have a wobbly wheel?
WHY doesn't the grocery man FIX the broken wheel?
WHY do you look tired, Mommy?
WHY can't I have this candy?
WHY? WHY? WHY?

Is it any wonder by 9:00 a.m. I'm ready for a nap? But trust me, he isn't.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Stating the Obvious

I was feeling very snuggly about Demon Baby. Sometimes, I just don't want him to get bigger. I miss those true "baby" days.

We were walking down the stairs in our house and he was behind me. I turned and said, "Hey . . . do you want me to carry you down?"

"No. That's okay. I have feet."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Demon Baby at the Beach





It's easy to forget how much trouble he gets into sometimes when I look at pictures.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Traveling Nine Hours in a Car with Demon Baby

Note: The trip was SUPPOSED to take six hours.

A summarized play-by-play of driving a long distance for vacation with Demon Baby.

Leave driveway. Get to the stop sign at end of street. Demon Baby says, "I need my orange sippie cup." Know there will be NO PEACE if the purple one is taken on trip instead of orange one. Drive back for orange sippie cup. Four minutes into the trip. Have not traveled one foot.

Leave driveway again. Get to end of street. Make a right. Leave neighborhood. Get two lights up.

"Are we there yet?"

"No."

"How 'bout now?"

"No."

"Now?"

"No. Don't ask me for at least a half hour."

Two minutes later. "Has it been a half hour?"

Drive on highway. "I'm hungry."

"What do you want? I have the peanut butter cookies you like, I have bananas, I have a sandwich for you."

"I want miso soup."

"I don't have miso soup."

"But I want it."

"You'll have to wait."

"Are we there yet?"

"No."

Drive for five minutes.

"I need to pee."

Find bathroom at a McDonald's. He decides he wants fries. Been on road 45 minutes. Have not traveled more then 10 miles.

Get on road.

"I'm tired."

"Good. Go to sleep."

"But I want to sleep with you in the big bed."

"We can't fit the big bed in the car."

"I think I have to poop."

"Why didn't you go in the McDonald's?"

We all know the answer to that. "Because I didn't have to then."

Do the math. We arrived at 6:30 a.m. (I prefer to drive at night.) I needed a cocktail from the stress. It was happy hour somewhere.

The ride home was equally horrific. We searched for a rest room at 11:00 P.M. for Demon who insisted, again, he had to go potty. I was unfortunate enough to take an exit from I-95 where despite a sign proclaiming gas stations and food, all signs of civilization were five miles off. If it is NOT AT THE HIGHWAY, do not post there is a restaurant at that exit!!! I hate highway planners. They are unkind to traveling American Moms like me.

It is good to be home.

But it was a marvelous vacation. I got to pay attention to Demon Baby and he was a very, very happy little boy. Will post some pictures.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Friday, July 11, 2008

Sometimes He Deceives Me


Sometimes the kid is so cute, he deceives me. I start to think, He is a normal little angelic boy. He is not a Demon Baby with evil powers beyond the grasp of mere mortals.
Those thoughts don't last long. Usually, he outs himself as a Demon pretty quickly.
"Mommy, can I sleep in your bed tonight?"
He asks me this while dressed in his brother's T-shirt, which sweeps the floor, making him look like Olive Oyl's sweet little Sweet Pea.
He bats his eyes.
"I just really love you. I want to snuggle with you. Please?" Bats eyes more.
"Well . . . maybe tonight. If you're quiet." Because he really looks SO innocent.
I turn my back to walk into my office and then . . . he asks.
"Will you move your legs so I can dance?"
"What?"
"Breakdance. On your bed. Your legs get in the way."
"You want to DANCE in my bed. At bedtime?"
"Yeah." Nonchalantly. "Of course. Will you move your legs?"
"Bedtime is for SLEEPING."
"No. All right, I'll tell you what . . . what if I dance on your carpet. Will that be OK?"
Oh, Demon Baby . . . tonight you sleep in your OWN bed. I am very tired.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Demon Baby at the Zoo

Demon baby went to the zoo. He was so sweet. He talked to the giraffes. He pet the giraffes. We almost forgot he was a Demon Baby. See the gentle Demon.
Then Demon Baby decided he wanted to scale the fence. He actually got in with the moose. Bad security. No mere fence can keep a Demon Baby from his appointed mission. Note the determined face.










Sunday, June 29, 2008

Lunch with a Demon

We went out for lunch today--the whole gang of us. Demon Baby was absolutely delightful and well-behaved. Though he, as usual, decided the waiter had to know WAY TOO MUCH information about our family.

What do I mean?

LAST TIME we went out for dinner, he stood up and told the waiter, in a voice loud enough to be heard over a jackhammer, "I just farted and it smells like peanut butter." THAT kind of Too Much Information. I pitied the poor waiter. Had some toddler said that to me when I was waiting tables, I would have dropped my tray.

Today's lunch, this was what the waiter had to hear:

Waiter: "Would you like a drink?"
DB: "I want cheese."
Waiter: "You want to DRINK cheese?"
DB: "Yes. I want cheese."
Mom: "He'll take a Sprite."
DB: "Tell him about the beetle that flew into your hair today."
Mom: "I'll have a Coke."
DB: "TELL HIM! IT WAS A GROSS BEETLE AND IT FLEW RIGHT INTO HER HAIR."
Waiter: "Everyone else's drinks?"
DB: "I want cheese. Mom, tell him." Looks at waiter. "Cheese. Just get me cheese."

You get the idea. BUT, he was well behaved. THEN they brought Wet-naps.

DB: "What's this?"
Mom: "You open it when your done with lunch and clean your hands."
DB: "COOOOOOOOOOOOOLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Open it."
Mom: "But you haven't eaten yet."
DB: "Please? I want to see."
Mom opens pack.
DB: "WOW! LOOK AT THIS! It's wet. WOW! EVERYONE LOOK. THEY HAVE A WET NAPKIN IN HERE."

Once this miracle of modern man was revealed, he sat and dutifully ate lunch. No farting discussions. He was being SO good. We ALMOST made it out of lunch with no incidents.

And then . . . after he ate, he wiped his hands. And then proceeded to ball up the Wet-nap, toss it over his shoulder, where it landed in the middle of the table in back of our booth.

I apologized. PROFUSELY. And God bless the three women who laughed instead of got mad. Properly chastized, Demon Baby behaved, and we got through paying the bill.

I tip very well.

Now you know why.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Irony

Demon Baby, whose favorite song in the whole wide world is Bulls on Parade by Rage Against the Machine . . . comes in to me yesterday and says "Let's sing songs."

"Okay. What do you want to sing" said I, expecting I'd have to bust out the lyrics to "Should I Stay or Should I Go?" or . . . "Train in Vain" by the Clash. I have them downloaded for our USUAL sing-alongs.

But his new favorite sing-along song?

The Christian "This little light of mine . . . ." You know how it goes. "I'm gonna let it shine . . . let it shine . . . let it shine . . . let it shine."

As he sang it yesterday at the TOP of HIS LUNGS. And I mean TOP. I mean I am sure the neighbors' windows were rattling. I started laughing. It went from just a little smile to a chuckle, to a laughing, tears streaming down my face howl. We sang it TEN times.

Don't get me wrong. There's NO, and I mean NO halo over his head.

And yet . . . his light really DOES shine. If ever there was a picture of exuberance. Energy. Living life at top-speed 24/7, it's the Demon Baby.

So maybe there's a little angel in there somewhere.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sleep Lust

My life has had a very obvious progression. Clive Owen used to be my major lust. I've seen all Clive's movies. I've even seen his BBC series before he was famous. I imagined one day I would run off with Clive Owen.

Somewhere along the way, I moved on. To Anthony Bourdain. Perhaps I realized that I didn't particulary suit someone as suave as Clive. No . . . I would be better off with a chef who can knock back a few shots after work, who can stay up all night. When you have four kids, staying up all night is a reality much of the time. If I'm not being awakened by Demon Baby or waiting for the sound of Oldest Daughter's car to come into the driveway after her part-time job at a restaurant . . . it's Baby Girl's nightmare or Oldest Boy's migraine. In short, it's always something. So Anthony became my new lust.
When sleep deprivation reached epic proportions, the assorted men on Demon Baby's favorite morning pre-school shows started to look good to me. Steve from Blues Clues started looking quite handsome in his green-striped shirt. But I soon settled on the Blue Wiggle as my lust and point of fascination. Even wearing his Blue Wiggle shirt, Anthony (another Anthony) looked quite handsome to me. In a suit, he's rather dreamy.




Now? Quite frankly, all I lust after is SLEEP. I would write a check for all the money in my checking account (admittedly not much) for ONE SOLID NIGHT'S SLEEP. No one waking me at two a.m. No Demon Baby nightmares or crying out for me. No Baby Girl climbing in my bed and kicking me (she is a first-class kicker). No Oldest Daughter stomping up the stairs late at night (she's not angry--just has a heavy footfall). I lust for a quiet room, maybe some soft classical music. And sleep.
Since Demon Baby's arrival three years ago . . . my priorities have entirely changed. I have Sleep Lust not Clive Lust.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Symbiosis

Demon Baby and I are joined at the hip, pretty much. Like all my kids, I breast-fed him for two years. When you breastfeed that long, it means, frankly, that all total with four kids, I have spent eight YEARS with a kid latched onto me much of the time.

Once he was weaned . . . sure, he found his demon footing and was off to explore the world. But he is still pretty keyed in to me. I work from home. My office is in my dining room, with my desk and ME pretty accessible 24/7. I am in the thick of things in the house.

And lately, I think Demon Baby is starting (baby steps . . . just starting) to see that his Demon Baby ways are starting to send me to the nuthouse. I mean . . . what is the "happy face" reaction to waking up at 5:00 a.m. to a child who is sitting on you and demanding orange juice, and when you don't move fast enough, he decides to pinch you. Hard. There's just no "Gee, I love these mom moments" way about it. The kid has worn me out.

Of course, I adore him, too. And we laugh and giggle and wrestle. But it's not an "easy" childhood.

Lately, though, he comes to me, rests his head on my arm and looks up at me with BIG BROWN innocent eyes, and says, "I just spilled my juice all over the dog. Are you HAPPY, Mom?"

"No. Spilling juice on the dog isn't a nice thing to do. I am not happy."

"Well, I want you to be happy. I'm sorry."

He spends much of the day now, measuring whether things make ME happy or not. I am not sure if that is good or bad, but I take it as a gratifying sign he actually HAS a conscience. We were once so attached at the hip that I knew what he needed before he ever cried. Now we're feeling our way. Separate but symbiotic on some level.

It's not easy. But yes, most of the time, I am happy.

Except those 5:00 a.m. wake-up episodes. I am a LOT happier when I have had sleep.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Minions

Oh my God . . . the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse have arrived.

Demon Baby is in a full-court press for . . .


. . . wait for it . . .

a baby brother. As in he WANTS one. BAD. And feels the need to ask me for one every five minutes.

I know it's a ploy.

He doesn't really want a baby brother. He wants a minion.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Cooking Demon Style

Demon Baby has a new passion. He likes to "help" cook.

The thing is, it really, really makes him happy. You have never SEEN a child so filled with utter JOY as when he gets to help cook or bake.

His father is a foodie and a former chef, so I suppose it makes sense. But to give you an idea . . . he woke at 6:30 today and ran shrieking through the house singing "The Pancake Song" because he was going to get to make pancakes. The Pancake Song pretty much consists of screaming out, "I'M MAKING PANCAKES" in a sing-song way. Five hundred times in a row.

After mixing the batter, he got to stand and watch for the "bubbles" that signaled it was time to flip them. But he doesn't, even though you are standing there right next to him, say, "It's time to flip." No . . . instead, he screams it, he shouts it, he cannot contain his exuberance at the miracle of the pancake griddle.

We made grape Jello two days ago. You would have thought we cooked a 12-course French meal.

But . . . you know no story of Demon Baby is complete with . . . well, DEMON BABY. So yes, in general, cooking with him is a disaster. He thinks it's funny to put the spatula IN the batter. As in bury it in the bowl so it's a gloopy mess.

He "aims" for the bowl when pouring in ingredients.

He makes it about half the time.

At least when he cooks, the dogs feast.

Oh, and one more thing. Demon Baby doesn't think he needs me to cook. So his new "thing" is taking strange ingredients and combining them to make soup. Thus, yesterday, I gave him a bowl of Life cereal (no milk) for a snack. I came in to write in my office. He found a half-full can of Diet Coke left on a table by his sister and added that to the Life cereal. Then he went into the kitchen and took leftover rice and added that to it. Then he decorated generously with M&Ms. Then he stirred. A lot.

The results?

Positively frightening.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Survivor

Life with Demon Baby is like a reality show.

Imagine . . . you are in the shower, naked, soaped up, shampoo in your hair. You hear someone trying to break down the bathroom door with an axe. What do you do?

You don't even rinse, you run, dripping wet (trying not to slip and kill yourself) and open the door to find . . . not an axe murderer, but Demon Baby, using a heavy book as a hammer and trying to break down the door so he can . . . "keep you company."

How fast can you race up a flight of stairs before he hurls a container of yogurt over the balcony landing?

Can you rescue the dog with irritable bowel before Demon Baby feeds him M&Ms and corn?

I can imagine the show, the challenges. It's not for the faint of heart.

And that is why babysitters and family members don't "watch" Demon Baby. They "survive" him.

Our babysitter "survived" on Tuesday.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Babysitter

Realistically speaking, when you have a Demon Baby, you don't torture some poor, unsuspecting babysitter with him. Realistically speaking, few people in the universe can handle him. RELATIVES who are supposed to LOVE him can barely handle him.

But today, just this once, Demon Baby is having a babysitter because the choice was either a) hire a babysitter, or b) find me a strait jacket, because Oldest Daughter graduates high school today and there is NO WAY he is sitting through a multi-hour ceremony downtown.

I pay my babysitters REALLY well. Above the going rate. I call it the Demon Surcharge.

Pray for my babysitter today.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

More Vocabulary

Besides having an "astounding" vocabulary (because he uses that word), Demon Baby is creative in ways that never cease to amuse me.

He even makes up words to suit his Demon Purposes.

First, he called his Grandma a "Meany-pants."

All right, so that's not horribly original. Saying it to your GRANDMA. Yeah. That's a little original for a three-year-old.

But the one I love is when he thinks I am being too hard on him (such as for CALLING his Grandma a Meany-pants). Then he has a made-up word.

"You're being such a FREAKIMUS!"

Yes. A freakimus.

I choose to think it's a combination for "freakin' genius."

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Big Bubbles, Big Words

Demon Baby wanted a bath today.

"With or without?" (For those not familiar with Demon Baby bath lingo, I was asking him with bubbles or without.)

"With."

"With bubbles." (I am in the habit of repeating things to be sure, since he can change his mind, like most toddlers, in the space of seconds or from one thought to the next.)

"Big bubbles!" He extended his hands up into the air.

"Big. Gotcha."

"No. HUGE bubbles."

"You got it."

"HUMONGOUS! I want humongous bubbles!"

And I started thinking about it. About his vocabulary. He's 3, and he doesn't use any baby words. He's very articulate.

"You're a great kid, Demon Baby."

"I'm extraordinary, when you think about it, Mom."

Yes. Humongously extraordinary, Demon Baby.

Just humongous.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

I Live in a Cheap Diner and My Kid Is a Frat Boy

Just found out.

Demon Baby loves gum. He doesn't get to have it often. But it's a treat once in a while.

No more.

Demon Baby apparently sticks his gum under the kitchen table. Like a cheap diner or your 7th-grade school desk.

Oh, there's more.

He now likes to pee outside. In fact, if he's in the yard, chances are he is now marking his territory. Like some beer-addled frat boy.

I live in a diner. My kid is in Phi Kappa Grossness.

More Names

I was putting Demon Baby to bed last night, and on my way up the staircase with him in my arms, he shouted out "Good night, Moe!"

I should know better than to ask, but I asked anyway.

"Who's Moe?"

"My friend."

"Okay."

"See ya, Moe!"

We were halfway up when he said, "My car is named Moe."

"Your car? The one you ride on."

"Yeah. It's my favorite. He's Moe."

"All righty, then. Good night, Moe!"

"And don't forget . . . I'm Kirby Tun-Link." (see post below)

"I would never forget that, Kirby, pal."

I wonder if I am going to get a new name soon.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Kirby

Demon Baby has a name. A perfectly lovely little name that I was certain was his the moment he first kicked inside me. But he has decided he instead would like to be called Kirby.

We have asked him why.

"Because I am Kirby."

So last night at dinner with my parents (staying with us for a month), we all started addressing him as Kirby, and he beamed all through dinner and was absolutely lovely, other than melting his dessert (an ice pop) into a little dish so he could lick it up like Cosmo, his most beloved dog. So Kirby he is.

We had, in fact, adapted nicely to Kirby. And then he suddenly announced, "No! My name is Tun Link." Because I do have a number of friends from Laos and Hong Kong, he pronounced this with a faint Hong Kong accent. So perhaps this is his Hong Kong name.

Either way . . . Kirby and Tun Link are now the only way he answers.

If he's this eccentric at three, what do I have to look forward to?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Thanking God

My mantra with Demon Baby is "Remember what's important."

Crayon on the walls. It's just a wall. He's little once. Remember what's important.

Deciding he's Greek and throwing plates to the bottom of the steps while screaming "Oopah!" (for the record, the kid is not Greek, he's Mexican-American). Remember what's important.

Five minutes after the housekeeper leaves on Tuesdays (while saying Amen she hasn't quit yet), ripping a newspaper into confetti and showering it all over the living room. Remember what's important.

Yesterday. Spits. Spits on his older sister's appointment book. For no reason but to be fresh. He gets put into time-out. (I drag his fresh little butt upstairs and he gets put in his crib, shades drawn in the room, door shut, and has to stay there and "think about" his naughtiness.)

He climbs out and opens the door. I put him back.

I come downstairs. I am sitting here. Working. He is crying. I can hear him getting MAD. He is screaming.

Then, me, my oldest son, and my mom look out the window of my office, and we see . . . OBJECTS . . . FALLING . . . FROM SECOND-STORY WINDOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I race upstairs, because at that moment, I literally didn't know if HE had decided to fling himself out the second-story window. I never leave the windows open precisely for that reason. But I had CRACKED the windows in the nice weather. Luckily, we have window locks, so even if I open the windows, I set them for a four-inch height only. He had then used his fingertips to open the screen, and was sliding everything and anything that could fit through a four-inch height out the windows. Stuffed animals. Boxes of art supplies. Games.

But not himself.

Remember what's important.

I literally thought I was going up to find my baby had thrown himself out a window, that I had somehow forgotten the window locks. I live in a state of hyper-vigilence with him anyway, but a tired mom can make a mistake, and I know that. But no. Window locks on. I had a mess to clean up in the yard. But he was there. Upstairs. Delighting in throwing things down "so the dogs could play with them" (our dogs are outside on nice days--we have a fenced yard).

I hugged him. Then all the windows got totally shut. Then he got another time-out.

But he was safe.

Remember what's important.

And for the record, yes, I think I had a minor heart attack yesterday.

And I have a sneaking suspicion with Demon Baby it won't be my last.

Remember what's important.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

You Know It's Bad When Even GRANDMA . . .

. . . thinks your kid is a Demon Baby.

Sometimes I wonder if I am crazy. Maybe Demon Baby isn't so Demonish after all. Maybe I am just so stressed that I am not appreciating the fact that yesterday he cut a hole (with his fingers) in the back porch screen and threw all my glass candleholders out onto the concrete patio so they would smash while I was on the phone with my agent.

Maybe it's all about perspective. But . . . .

Yesterday, my iPod was on, and Rage Against the Machine came on. And he started doing it. That crazy, head-banging, karate-chopping punk dance of his. And my mom, who is visiting, watched him in amazement.

"It's not me, is it, Mom? He really IS a little . . . wild, right?"

"Well, he's not as laid-back as the other three. But he is a charmer."

"Yeah but . . . " And so we watched him punching the air.

"You know," she pondered. "He's going to be 14 and have an eyebrow piercing and a nose ring and blue hair, and a tattoo sleeve on each arm."

I nodded. "I know."

To which Oldest Daughter got incensed. "Oh, so you'll let HIM get a tattoo at 14, but you won't let ME?"

To which I just sighed.

And then I looked at him . . . and said to my mom, "He just is this way. And I'll still love him with tattoos and blue hair. Just so long as he stays sweet inside."

But . . . even GRANDMA sees it. I am not insane.

Exhausted, yes. Insane, no.

Friday, May 16, 2008

ABCs

I give Demon Baby EXTRA points for cleverness today. Sometimes, I am convinced he is a diabolical genius.

He hates that I work. Granted, I am a writer and work from home so we're together 24/7. Still, he feels he competes with my computer. It's not a contest. He wins. I love him . . . and WISH I could concentratre on only him during the day, but the fact remains, the computer sometimes takes up more time than I wish. I have to earn a living. I support a family of six.

So the conversation went like this:

"I would like to watch a movie."

"Okay. I will put one on."

"But I want YOU to watch it with me. It's just too scary to watch alone."

"Scary? You're not allowed to watch anything scary. Did you find one of Older Brother's movies? Or Older Sister's? You can't watch scary movies."

"Well, this is really scary, and I need you to come and watch it and hide under the blankets with me."

"Absolutely not. What about watching Sesame Street?"

"No." (Now tugging my hand.) "Come with me."

By now I was very curious as to what he had somehow been allowed to watch. I climbed the stairs with him and went into his room. He shut the door--slammed it really. Then he locked the door.

"I am locking you in here so you can't leave."

"Okay."

"Sit down with the blankley." I pulled the comforter to the floor as he went to get the scary video.

"It's REALLY scary. So make sure you stay here."

"What's the scary video called?"

"Blues Clues ABCs."

After I stopped laughing, after I realized this was all an elaborate ruse to cuddle in a blanket with me, we did snuggle for the scary video.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Thinking

One of the things about adults is they can be pretty good at hiding their true motives, their thoughts. Some people are an open book. In general, what you see is what you get with me. Others are devious, or they aren't in touch with their feelings, or they just don't ever show their true selves.

Demon Baby, as I've shared, has an unmistakable propensity for fighting. He sees the world as his battleground. I have tried to teach him a meditation, I have tried to get him to take deep breaths and say "om." I really have. I pull him on my lap, and I can feel his heart POUNDING out of his chest, he gets so worked up with these battles he must fight. His weapons can be anything from a fork, to his finger ("my gun!") to projectiles made from household objects.
What disturbed me most was that I could "see" him think. If he didn't get a reaction from Object A hurled . . . he looked for a heavier one. One that could hurt someone. And though he got time-outs and my own occasional utter melt-down of yelling, nothing deterred him.

But I tried to be consistent. I'm not perfect as a mother by any means. But I tried to always show him there was another way to be, a more peaceful one. "Deep breaths, Demon Baby. Deep breaths."

So the last few times he's worked himself into a frenzy, I have watched him look for projectiles . . . and then I see something else. A flicker of a conscience crossing his face. I can see him actually pondering if he wants to do mayhem or put it down. With the exception of last night, when he had a total meltdown, he has opted to put down his "weapon."

I think I'm making progress. Baby steps. But on top of that, there is something so beautiful about watching his face and actually seeing it move in a matter of seconds from anger to calm, as if I can SEE him thinking. In a world where people hide behind masks, where adults learn to not let their faces show what they're REALLY thinking . . . I love his openness.

I am hoping to make him a man of peace.
P.S. Picture from our march on Washington.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Emerging

They tell you to play Mozart to your baby in the womb. I didn't do that, but I was obsessed with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony while pregnant. I would play it over and over and over and over and . . . over again.

I did all of the things they tell you to do. I didn't take anything more than Tylenol. Didn't smoke (I never have). I tried to avoid stress. I had a teeny quarter-glass of white wine with club soda to celebrate my anniversary, but that was it. I ate sushi . . . my friends from Laos told me they ate sushi when pregnant and it makes babies smart. My friends were all Buddhists and very practical . . . and I loved sushi and it was protein, so I ate it, hoping it would make Demon Baby smart.

I can tell you a couple of things.

He's scary smart. I mean scary smart. Smart in ways my other kids--who are all in gifted programs--wouldn't even have imagined. Maybe it was the sushi.

And he is not peaceful. When excited, he likes to smack his head, he likes to fight and "shoot" imaginary things. He likes head-banging music.

I shared before his favorite music is Rage Against the Machine. How do we go from Beethoven's 9th to Rage Against the Machine? He is three.

His other favorites (to the point of hitting replay again and again and again on my iPod) are the Clash, Ozzy Osborne, and lately, Nirvana.

He emerged this way. I teach him his nightly prayers but he rises full of venom at the world. He climbs in my bed and tells me to squeeze him hard and hold him, but then five minutes later is off for his first battle of the day (often threatening violence to squirrels, a species he hates because they eat the bird seed we put out for the birds he adores!).

I said recently to a friend that God gives you the children meant to teach you a lesson. There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with Demon Baby. Oh, I have no doubt as he gets older the school system will hand him a label or two, that he and I and the principal will be well-acquainted. But he really is a charming, funny, wonderful, smart person. He just doesn't see the world the way I do. He sees it in a wild and sometimes violent and head-banging Nirvana/Ozzy way. He came out of the womb this way. The lesson that needs to be learned . . . the reason I started this blog . . . is my OWN.

I walk as a woman of peace. I walk as a woman concerned with social justice, who has spent her life in prayer and volunteerism and hopefully being a kind woman--if a bit eccentric and difficult in my own way. And this child is meant to show me what unconditional love is. He is meant to show me that the most exasperating, wild, angry, crazy, smart, funny little boy on the planet is meant to be mine and to be loved precisely because of who he is, without changing him.

I don't know who he will be. What he will become. I hope to direct his energy toward things he is passionate about. But when I WATCH him listen to Nirvana . . . he bangs his head against the stereo speakers, he plays air guitar, his face a contortion of anger and rage and joy and happiness. He IS the music. And I realize I don't understand him. But that's not my job. My job is to be his Mommy and love him.

He emerged this way. And he is mine. And I just love him. The way he is.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Health Class

Remember health class? You took it along with PE. It was where you learned about S-E-X. You know, the real biological details. Fallopian tubes. Ovaries. Penises.

Well, today, Demon Baby was very happy and excited. Demon Baby is a pretty sensory kid. So when he gets excited, he has to externalize it. He jumps up and down. He claps hands. He pinches. Yes, pinches. Me.

I have an arm and hand full of bruises, but I don't get too mad. It's not an "I want to hurt you" thing, but a "I'm so excited I don't know what to do so I'm going to have this wild moment." And I get pinched.

Anyway, I was talking with a friend at church, Demon was excited. "Pick me up!" Pinch. "Please!" Pinch. Smiles and giggles. But pinching, too.

And it dawned on me. Demon Baby should be required babysitting. One day. Eight hours. For every teen couple even CONTEMPLATING having sex. He's not a Demon Baby. He is Birth Control.

I'm all for safe sex. But I think the current administration's focus on abstinence is all wrong. Demon Babies should be REQUIRED in all Health Classes. The teen pregnancy rate would drop to zero.

Let me be the new Surgeon General.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Moon Child

Demon Baby has one of the more extraordinary imaginations I have ever encountered. It is rich with dragons and monsters and swords and fighting. But also mystical elements.

Yesterday, Demon Baby said he was going to paint himself silver from head to toe. Then he was going to find a very tall ladder, go up into the sky and BE the moon for a few days.

I would never have thought up such a thing as a three-year-old . . . and it really makes me wonder about what great things he is going to do when he grows up.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Taming the Demon

As a novelist, my office is filled with books and manuscripts and galleys and cover designs. And Buddha statues. And a few saint statues. And an altar. And candles. It's a place I meditate, a place that speaks to my spirit.

I try to raise my kids with a sense of compassion. I try to raise them to be spiritual . . . and to have a strong sense of social justice for the homeless, the poor, the marginalized. I have taken them to Washington to protest on the Mall, and I have brought them into some pretty impoverished areas to work with me. They have seen me teach English to immigrants at our kitchen table, and they have seen my Significant Other go through his own closet to give the clothes he wears to a few homeless who used to live in a parking lot near where he worked.

I presume Demon Baby will eventually absorb these lessons. But for now, he is about shooting things, fighting things with swords . . . about monsters and violence.

Yesterday, he and I gardened. We tended the flowers. I had him set out the seedlings. "Let the sunshine kiss them," I told him.

"They are kissing sunshine," he told me.

But then, as is inevitable with him, he found a stick. "This is a SHOOTING GUN! POW! BAM! POW!"

We don't watch violent TV. I watch him and wonder, WHERE DOES IT COME FROM? Why does he make his way through the world fighting instead of kissing sunshine?

But then he finds worms in the garden and carefully lifts them and deposits them on my lilies of the valley. And I think . . . as long as I am breathing, there is hope this little guy will see the world my way. A peaceful way.

It is my mission to tame the Demon within.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Grandparents

Took Demon Baby to Florida to visit my parents. We went out for dinner with them and my best friend. Lovely meal. Wine. Appetizers. Breadsticks. Salad. Italian meal.

And then . . . in the middle of the meal, for no reason Demon declared . . . "DUMB FART!"

Not at any person in particular. But just to say it. Loudly.

And then he repeated it. Ten times.

My father, age 74, asked, "WHAT did he just say?"

Now, to be clear . . .

When I was a little girl, I could not say the following words; stupid, shut up, idiot, dumb, stupid, hell, damn.

Let's not EVEN get into the really bad ones.

As a mom, I have always insisted my kids ALSO not say any of those words. Until Demon Baby of course arrived seemingly like a bat out of hell with his OWN precious vocabulary.

So, I gasped.

Demon Baby repeated himself.

I watched my parents.

As they broke down into laughter the likes of which I haven't seen EITHER of them break into in ages. It went on. More laughing.

And for the rest of the vacation, that was both of their favorite expression.

And somehow . . .

I guess it's only right that grandparents find Demon's antics amusing.

Even if I want to pull my hair out.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Demon Tackles the Big Question

Bright children = Big questions


So Demon Baby was mad at me and said, "I think you should DIE, Mom."

"Well, Demon, that's actually not a very nice thing to say."

"Why?"

"Because if I were dead, I wouldn't see you anymore. I would still be your mommy but I wouldn't be here to hug you . . . and death . . . well, it's forever. "

"Why?"

"Because that's what death is."

"Why?"

"Because we're born and then . . . someday we die. We all do. Some sooner than others. I hope to one day be an old lady holding my grandbabies."

"So are you gonna die?"

"Someday."

"Why?"

"We just went through that."

"Where will you go?"

"Heaven." (Seemed the simplest answer at the moment. I thought of launching into my "Why I Want to be Cremated" speech, but . . . )

"Where's that?"

"Someplace."

"Who's there?"

"Other spirits and angels and God."

"What do you do there?"

"Not sure. Be with God. Maybe watch over our family."

"Why would God want you up there? What's HE going to do with you?"

"Don't know, Demon."

"Will you play games?"

"Don't know."

"Read stories?"

"Don't know."

"Feed the dogs?'

"Maybe. I think dogs go to heaven."

"But I need you."

"Well, yes. So hopefully I won't die anytime soon."

"Don't."

"I'll make an effort."

"Don't die."

"I'll try. But you see, that's why you shouldn't say things like that."

He wandered off, then came back five minutes later. "Can we call God and ask him about this?"

"No. We can't. But we can pray."

"Okay. So pray."

So we did.

"I love you, Mom."

"I love you, Demon."

"No, I REALLY love you."

"Well, I REALLY love you."

And off he went. But somehow, I know that's not the end to his questions. They're too big. And I don't really have any good answers.

Not really.

It's all a mystery.

But maybe someday I will feed the dogs in heaven.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Little Rabbit

He has moments of pure adorableness. Given how much of a Demon he is, this is a good thing because he tries the patience of the entire family, and we all need these "Aw, he's so cute moments" so we don't kill him.

Today, "monsters and bears" were apparently roaming my house. He was fighting them with imaginary swords, and he came running into my office.

"Come with me so I can keep you safe."

"What, Little Demon?"

"Come!" (He was clinging to my legs for all it was worth.)

"I'm okay. Monsters don't like my office."

"No, come with me, My Little Rabbit."

"Little Rabbit?"

He put his head on my lap. "Yes, you are my Little Rabbit and I love you."

Of course, my heart melted. "Why don't you go see Older Sister?" (She was in the next room.) "Maybe she can come with you. I have to finish this chapter. She can be your Little Rabbit too."

"No, she can't."

"Why?"

"YOU are my Little Rabbit. SHE is my Little Turtle."

I just love him.

Friday, April 4, 2008

The Demon and Zen

I had a revelation today.

The whole point of my spiritual practice is to simplify my life. Be in the moment. Simplify until it is me, my breath, the moment, my prayer. This makes life easier. I worry less (well, I'm working on that).

In Zen-ing my life, I am trying to de-clutter. Same principle. Simplify. I am trying to do things (like filing or organizing my closet) that allow my life to be calmer, less frenetic.

And then there's Demon. Here was tonight's dinner argument.

I set down one of those cutesy plates with a spot for his chicken, his rice, his vegetable. I got him juice. I gave him a fork and a spoon. ONE spot on the plate was empty. (i.e., there's a main dish spot and three sides, and we only had two sides).

He saw that empty spot.

"I want chicken in there."

"Fine." I moved two pieces of chicken to the empty spot.

"No. New chicken."

"Older Brother, give Demon Baby two pieces of your chicken." (Because I don't eat meat, I didn't have any to give him and Older Brother had a HUGE piece--growing adolescent.)

"No!" (Shrieking.) "I want my OWN chicken."

"But you haven't even eaten a BITE yet. Not one bite." (I am trying to waste less food and he already had PLENTY o' chicken . . . ).

"I want new chicken for that spot."

"Finish the chicken you have."

"No. I want my own. From over there." (Points to stove.)

"Eat the chicken or go upstairs and take a time out."

"Fine!"

He gets up, goes upstairs, stomping his tiny feet the whole way up. I took the opportunity to move Brother's chicken to the spot rather than cutting into a new chicken breast. A few minutes later, I called him down. "There. Chicken in every spot."

"I can tell it's not THAT chicken." (Points to stove.)

By this time, since I only ate rice, I was done with my meal. I sighed. Got up. Started cleaning from dinner. He sat there and refused to eat.

"I want juice now."

"One minute."

"NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

And I realized . . . my entire day is spent like this. Nothing, not one single thing from waking up until he shuts his eyes is EVER greeted without an argument. Not one thing.

"I don't like this shirt."

"I don't want to wear shoes."

"I want these shoes not those shoes."

"I don't like this blankley, I want that one." (When he cuddles up with a blanket.)

So I had a lightbulb moment. I stared him down. "Demon . . . this is a very difficult way to go through life. Life can be easy, or it can be hard, but you don't EVER take the easy way. You fight your way through your whole life. That's not good, Demon. Pick your battles."

"I want new chicken."

And so . . . when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Demon is here to teach me how to master Zen. Because God knows, he makes it difficult.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It's Not Even Sunrise

Demon Baby woke up at 4:45 a.m. In the pitch dark.

He wanted juice.

I got him juice.

He wanted to be naked. He took care of that himself, and stripped out of his pjs. He climbed under the covers in my bed and, I thought, fell back to sleep.

Ahhh, sleep. At 5:00 a.m. this now eluded me. I had an hour until my alarm went off, and so my mind was already calculating "why bother?"--so I got up.

I came downstairs, brewed coffee, sat down to work on my other blog and answer emails. At 5:15, I heard the pitter-patter of Demon feet.

Stark naked in my office, he wanted to curl up on my lap. So I gave him a hug, then suggested clothing, a blanket, some cereal and quiet cartoons on TV. That seemed like it was a thumbs up.

Took care of that, came back to work. Within five minutes, he wanted more juice. Then a hug. Then different cereal. Took care of that. Sat down.

It was not yet 5:25.

The morning pretty much progressed like that. Within ten minutes, he was no longer shaking off the last bit of sleepiness and he was chatty. It never ceases to amaze me that his preschool says he can go an ENTIRE morning and not say one word. He was soon, here, launching into his Demon Manifesto.

I tried to settle him down with a sibling. No such luck.

Next thing I knew, he was in my office again, naked once again, and asking me to say cheese. I turned my head. "Why?"

"This is my camera."

He had taken apart the carpet steamer (we have to have one for obvious reasons) and found a part that sort of resembles a camera with a hole in it for the lens. I have no idea what this part does, but I can tell you, it does not take pictures.

I smiled. I said "Cheese."

He disappeared, I presumed to develop the film.

He returned. Still naked. "This is my knife."

He had found another part that could, vaguely, seem like a scabbard or something.

Now . . . me, a person of peace, sighed. It wasn't yet 6:00 a.m.

"Why do you feel the need for violence?"

"Woohoo! It's my knife!!"

"Again, Demon . . . violence is wrong. Peace is good. Why do you feel the need to HAVE a knife?"

He looked at me, still stark naked, like I was a complete imbecile.

"So I can slice up the monsters in your closet like an apple."

It's not even dawn.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Demon Confinement

I have now learned what the results are from keeping Demon Baby confined in the car for seven hours. It's akin to, once released, unleashing the power of splitting atoms.

Unable to do more than scream his displeasure for seven hours, restrained in a car seat, we arrived home.

In TEN minutes, and I am NOT exaggerating for effect . . . in the time it took me to haul in three suitcases and assorted crap, he:

  • Took one bath towel, put it in the upstairs sink, turned on the faucet and flooded the upstairs bathroom
  • Took off his pants and peed in the family room (THAT'S letting mom know you're mad!)
  • And . . . in a stroke of sheer demonic brilliance, even for him . . . took a full tube of toothpaste and squeezed it out on my jewelry

Ahh, the joys of travel.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Happy Easter

Demon Baby decorated eggs in church preschool yesterday.

"I made you a dinosaur egg, Mom."

"Very lovely."

"I have to crack it to let the dinosaur out."

"Well, Demon Baby, that's not REALLY a dinosaur egg. It's an egg to eat."

"No, it's not."

"Okay. It's a dinosaur egg."

Demon Baby shakes the egg vigorously. "How come I don't hear anything?"

"Because it's an egg to eat."

"Maybe it's a bouncy ball."

"You mean like the kind that come out of the gumball machine?"

"Yeah." Shakes egg again.

"It won't bounce, Demon, honey. I promise you it won't bounce."

Sets egg on kitchen table. Sits down in chair. Stares at it.

"What are you doing?"

Stares more.

"What are you doing?"

"Waiting for my dinosaur to hatch."

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Questions

These are questions I ask as the mother of a Demon Baby:

  1. Why is our dog dumb enough to eat anything Demon Baby feeds him? I can understand chocolates, M&Ms, and cheese. But Zip-loc bags? Socks?
  2. What is Demon Baby's fascination with water? Not just the bathtub, but the toilet, mud puddles, and the dog's water dish?
  3. Why does he innately seem to know when someone is going to ring the doorbell and choose THAT time to strip naked so he's ready to answer the door that way, making me seem, for the thousandth time, like a really bad mother?
  4. Why do things that most humans seem to understand are food stuff . . . appeal to HIM as hair gel? That includes butter and pancake batter.
  5. Why is everything fair game as a hand grenade? Whether that be apples, stray golf balls he's found in the yard, or . . . my best Christmas ornaments?

These are the questions a Demon Baby's mother asks. Each day. Sometimes several times a day.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sleep

Last night, I watch Demon Baby sleep. It's just about the ONLY time he is still. He looks so serene. So wonderfully peaceful. So angelic.

And as I leaned over the crib, I remembered leaning over another crib. When he was first born. Because Demon Baby spent ten days in an incubator, he was intubated for a few days after he was born, and I wasn't allowed to hold him for a week. So all I could do was lean over and touch his little fingers and toes. And sob.

It's amazing, really, when I think about it. He came out and needed help, and now he's fearlessly racing his way through life.

And when I want to rip my hair out, when I have had about all I can take . . . I need only think back to the incubator, to the tubes, and remember when I just wanted to hold him. Just have him in my arms.

Of course, I couldn't have known then, from that teeny little baby, that today he would be putting cereal in the fish tank, and licking the dog on its nose, and deciding that nudity is the best way to go through life. Back then, he was just my little helpless guy.

Today I am grateful.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Gifts

When you are the mother of four children--children so utterly different from one another--you cannot help but marvel at their gifts. You cannot help to wonder where said gifts come from.

Oldest Daughter saw a violinist on PBS when she was not even THREE and said, "THAT'S what I am going to do with my life." She begged for violin lessons for a year. I finally caved. She leaves for college in August. To study? Violin.

Oldest Son at age 3 was doing 3rd-grade math in his head. He picked up the game of chess in an hour. An HOUR. As a first-grader or something equally ridiculous.

Baby Girl can make such beautiful art . . . it inspires. She had her work in a small show tonight.

And along comes Demon Baby. Yes, he has a gift for mayhem. But . . . he is also a born athlete. Yesterday, Demon Baby started soccer. (I conveniently didn't tell "Coach Ted" he was actually coaching a Demon and let Coach Ted believe Demon is a cute kid with dimples.) Demon Baby just turned 3 two weeks ago. Yesterday was his first soccer practice. He ran like the wind, he kicked, he scored. Ah, but it was more than that. He's THREE. On the field, as he waited for practice to start, he walked and tossed the ball in the air, catching it. Not concentrating. Just toss, catch, toss, catch, toss, catch, like breathing, this natural thing. Walking, talking, tossing, catching. I am lucky I can walk and chew gum at the same time, that's how athletic I am. When it came time to listen to the coach, he plopped his ball down and sat on it, looking, to all the world, like David Beckhan in miniature.

I love the NY Giants. I love the Yankees. I like a good game of volleyball. I like to play field hockey (haven't since high school). I like yoga. But I am not athlete. I signed up Demon Baby for soccer for one reason and one reason ONLY. To exhaust the hell out of him so he would go to bed on time.

But I marvel at his gifts. His natural talent. Soccer beats releasing the python, toilet papering the hallway, and tossing syrup at the walls any day of the week! I am now, officially, a Soccer Mom. Expect the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to ride through at any moment.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

It's All An Act

You know how when a serial killer is caught, all the neighbors say, "He was so quiet. He kept to himself." Or "He seemed so normal." Well . . . Demon Baby has his own version of that.

From the moment this child's eyes open, until he crashes in exhaustion at bedtime (he hasn't napped in a year!), he makes a LOT of noise. He talks, he chatters, he sings Rage Against the Machine (see a couple of posts ago). He smashes things, he plays the drums, he screams, he bangs pots. If it makes noise in some way, he's all for it.

But at preschool? And church? He never says ONE word. He can, quite literally, go an entire week without speaking. Not ONE word.

And so when I tell people about Demon Baby, when I regale them with my syrup-covered walls and my marker-covered carpets, with the time he PAINTED the bird with watercolors and the time he put CHEESE in the fishtank--LARGE chunks of cheese! And the time he stripped naked and covered himself in ice cream and sprinkles, and the time he threw roll afer roll of toilet paper over the second-floor landing to the first, effectively toilet papering my house, and the time he put all the family toothbrushes in the toilet, and the time, this week, when he was allowed to play in the sink with some plastic cups and splash, but he was left alone for a "moment" when the phone rang, and he stripped naked and covered himself in a generous layer of liquid dishwashing soap, effectively rendering himself as slippery as a fresh-caught bass . . . no one believes me.

"But he SEEMS SO QUIET. So SHY. So SWEET."

It is part of his nefarious plot to fool them all so when I finally have my nervous breakdown, no one will understand.

My own baby is gaslighting me.