Sunday, April 26, 2009
(Continued from The Son Also Rises Pt. 1)
This morning, I was happily sitting in my enormous California-King, Tempurpedic bed minding my own business and discreetly leafing through some lusty computer porn when my six-year-old son Ethan charged into my room unannounced. (In my home, I am treated like a prisoner on suicide watch, as my son the warden has demanded that my bedroom door be kept unlocked at all times) Ethan had unilaterally decided that for today's morning activity, he would like to visit Target and buy the Lego version of the Star Wars 'Death Star.' I fumble to minimize my computer screen so my son doesn't catch a glimpse of the unspeakable acts being committed there - and as I try to look casual and formulate a way to let him down easy, a delicious, tantalizing thought passes through my mind. Why not pass the buck?
How The Grinch Passed The Buck
By Tod Abrams
The Grinch laughs and smiles with a grin most unseemly,
For he does not 'adore' providing the toys the boy enjoys oh so keenly,
For visiting Walmart or Target in search of new things is too gross,
The fugly clothes, greeters and lighting making the Grinch morose.
So what does he do this cowardly Grinch from his bed?
He comfortably rolls over and cries 'I'm exhausted, I'm dead!"
"Perhaps there are others who might provide you such pretty things,
like your grandmother, she of the endless Twinkies and Ring Dings."
"Telephone her now as she is but a short drive away,
and a trip to the Burbank Target will certainly brighten her day!"
And as the boy hurriedly leaves in search of a phone,
The smarmy Grinch curls up in bed, happily alone,
for the Lego toy the boy wants takes WEEKS to be built,
And she who will provide it racked with parental guilt,
so the Grinch is now free to pursue a much loved, much favored hobby,
the viewing of dark films starring Corey, Juan, Axel and Bobby.
(To Be Continued)
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
My son Ethan spends alot of time asking me about my nuclear family. He seems particularly interested in my parent's marriage. I find this interesting and alarming at the same time. I'm pleased that he's developed an interest in his family, but frightened that his curiosity has been piqued by my parent's bilious marriage. Like a beautifully wrapped Christmas present with nothing inside - my parent's union on the surface appeared shiny and tantalizing, but below the glittering shell existed an emotional frozen tundra. To my eyes, my parents always seemed a bit out of sorts - my mother acted like my father's faithful servant, constantly striving for his approval and affection yet seldom receiving it. Like any under-appreciated employee who receives little compensation for their life's work, my mother vented her frustration and unhappiness on those weaker than herself, her children.
Unlike my son Ethan's privileged, candy-colored childhood that consists of Palm Springs weekend homes, attendance at a prestigious charter school founded by his two dads, participation in a plethora of seemingly compulsory 'enrichment' activities, and basking in the glow of never-ending parental love and support, my own childhood was not a happy one. The kindest emotion I can remember from either my mother or father growing up was indifference. When I was 8 years old - I made the important decision to run away from home and take up residence at the Cherry Hill Mall. Granted, not a good plan - but a plan nonetheless. I must have looked odd, an eight year old child perusing the fine linens and silver clutching a small red suitcase. As I pretended to shop, a kindly Gimbel's saleslady (remember them?) asked me where my mommy was - I replied she had been in a tragic car accident and was in a persistent vegetative state. There were no 'Amber Alerts' in those days so the saleslady told me how sorry she was and assured me that either my mommy would get better soon or my dad would probably remarry and I would have a new mommy who wasn't in a coma. I shuddered at the thought.
The shopping mall closed promptly at 9, and with no place to go, suitcase in hand, I reluctantly trudged home tired and hungry. I snuck in the house through the garage and silently joined my mother who at the time was sitting in a our family room ferociously knitting and watching Donny and Marie. As I entered the room, she glanced up as if surprised to see me. She seemed to take no notice of the suitcase.
"Well?" She asked.
"Again? We just had dinner."
I had been gone for eight hours and not a single member of my family noticed. Clearly, the police had not been called. There were no worried detectives scouring our backyard searching for obscure clues or relentlessly questioning the coterie of suspicious, shady neighbors that lived in our neighborhood's manicured homes. Light years from worried, my mother hadn't even noticed my absence.
"Sit down," she said wearily, "I'll make you a sandwich - I don't want you messing up the kitchen."
(To be Continued)
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Some of the most intimate moments my son and I experience is in traffic. While everyone knows Los Angeles possesses the absolute worst, seven-circles-of-hell traffic jams, what many visitors find surprising is that while striving to get your kid to school on time, and attempting to navigate around illegal immigrants in their smoking, broken-down 35-year-old Honda Civics, you can gain some incredible insights into the inner workings of your child's mind. When not kicking the back of my seat, relentlessly shrieking the theme song to Star Wars, or contracting into a mean little fetal position due to my reluctance to enable his hideous sugar addiction, my son Ethan provides me hours of in-car amusement. Many unimaginative parents provide 'on-demand' Disney DVD's to their children while in transit or play dull games with their children such as 'I Spy.' I detest both of these diversions. Does any parent really want to spend ANOTHER 30-40 minutes listening to the ridiculous exploits of Hanna Montana or The Jonas Brothers? In addition, do you really give a flying fuck if your child can identify a tree, a cloud, or police car? I certainly don't.
While stuck in the molasses-like traffic patterns of Hollywood, do you want to know what truly floats my boat? I like to ask my child twisted questions such as "In a house fire, who would you choose to save, me or the frozen chocolate chip cookie dough in our freezer?" Ethan doesn't even make the pretense of debating, it's the cookie dough by a country mile. When I probe him further regarding his choice, he explains that the cookie dough is delicious, filling, and yummy whereas I'm a complete asshole and totally expendable.
While many parents would be offended by their child making such an assertion, I can only admire his candor. At least I know where I stand - and his ability to make empirical decisions is coming along beautifully. Not satisfied with the cookie-dough vs. daddy dying scenario, I ask him to again choose between saving me in house fire, or saving our dog - guess who again loses by a huge margin? Me. Ethan calmly explains that our dog gives him unconditional love, eats all the food he carelessly drops on the floor, and does fun, entertaining tricks that amuse his grade school cronies. I on the other hand 'bother' him with annoying 'stuff' like eating his vegetables, brushing his teeth, and taking baths.
After a posing a number of theoretical house fire scenarios my son has emphatically chosen to save the cookie dough first, and in descending order my husband, his dog, his teacher, our gardener, his ant farm, his Star Wars Legos, and finally his piggy bank. I didn't even crack the top 5. We finally arrive at his school and as he bounds out of the car, he cries, 'Bye Dad, I love you!' As I watch him go, I tear up and wonder if our smoke detectors need new batteries.
Monday, April 6, 2009
I am not of the opinion that small children should be excused from their roles of hosting adult entertainments. As a matter of fact, one of the things I most look forward to in my adult life is teaching my 6 ½ year old Ethan how to mix a very, very dry Martini. When my squeamish friends try to chide me for my interest in my son Ethan’s spiritual education (I refer here not to his belief in God or Jesus, but rather his ability to differentiate good ‘spirits’ such as Vox, Grey Goose, or Belvedere vodka from undrinkable brands such as Absolut, Stolichnaya or God forbid, Smirnoff) I am completely nonplussed. Ethan has proven to be a rather quick study, and I am supremely confident that by my son’s 7th birthday he will assume his rightful position behind the wet bar in our library. Now, I know what many of you are thinking, and I completely understand your concern. You also worry that at your next cocktail party, your youngster will mistake a guest’s request for a Manhattan and to your dismay serve a Rob Roy. Of course, I’m kept up at night by this same worry, but I am comforted by the heaps of money I’ll save by using our underage, ‘in-house’ bartender as opposed to the gorgeous young actors I usually favor for such pursuits.
Our son’s affinity for entertaining began at the tender age of 2 weeks. Having recently come home from the hospital with our infant son and been completely unprepared for the nightmare of sleeplessness, anguish, and terror brought about by our complete inadequacy as parents, George and I were delighted to receive an invitation to an intimate dinner party hosted by our good friend Lori London, the renowned Los Angeles bridal designer. Lori’s deceptively simple, elegant designs for veils, clips, and bridal accoutrement are snapped up by bouffanted brides whose ruthless zeal for the perfect veil or headband sometimes leads to bloody fisticuffs at many of Lori’s trademark trunk shows. Lori, a woman of impeccable tastes is sweetly indulgent of my desire to model every glittery, rhinestone-encrusted headband, veil, and tiara in her collection. She’s often had to pry her sparkling designs from my greedy fingers as I whine, “But I look so pretty!”
On the night of Lori’s dinner party, I’d had the pleasure of being shit, pissed and vomited on by my new son all within the space of 30 seconds. With baby spew still sticking to my expensive Burberry coat, George, Baby Ethan and I arrive at Lori’s well-appointed home exhausted, hungry and desperately in need of a cocktail. In anticipation of our visit, Lori’s dutiful and understanding husband Adam has mercifully prepared a batch of industrial strength Martinis for us. As we literally and figuratively drink in the plush atmosphere of Lori’s home, our eyes come to rest on the dining room table which is set with a beautiful assortment of antique dishes, glasses and glittering flatware. In the center of the table sits a bowl of freshly cut pink roses that sparkle with tiny diamonds of dew. Without a moment’s hesitation, Lori takes our colicky son into her arms and to our surprise his incessant shrieking suddenly stops. As she rocks him and hums a soothing lullaby, our son happily babbles to himself and then inexplicably passes out. George and I gawk first at each other and then at Lori who despite holding a massive Martini in one hand and our infant son in the other, is still able to expertly finesse the hors devours that seem to appear out of thin air.
As the evening progresses, George and I realize that we have not brought anything for our suddenly comatose son to sleep in. Stupidly, we hadn’t brought the hateful ‘pack-and-play,’ stroller, or car seat and began to panic that we might have to leave for home prematurely so that our son could get some much needed sleep. Unperturbed, our hostess rises silently from the sofa and disappears for a moment. She suddenly reappears with a large, porcelain soup tureen. She motions for Adam to remove the floral centerpiece and places the tureen in the center of the table! She lines the tureen ‘cradle’ with a Cashmere shawl that she happens to have ‘laying about.’ She places our son in the tureen, where he remains for the rest of the evening completely motionless. The food, the candles, and company are glorious, but nothing can compare to the magnificence of my son’s death-like sleep, which has never been equaled no matter how much children’s Benadryl I’ve ladled into his gaping mouth.
Our magical evening ends far too quickly and as we bid adieu to our generous hosts, we tenderly remove the human ‘centerpiece’ from its’ resting place. As we drunkenly stumble up our street, George and I glance longingly over our shoulders at Lori and Adam who in the fading twilight are arm-in-arm and waving at us as though they haven’t a care in the world. If I hadn't loved them so much, in my jealousy I would have gladly had their legs broken.
(In memory of the incomparable Lori London R.I.P – 4/4/09)