2014-THANKSgiving

8 Kid Shows That Drive Moms Crazy

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My oldest child is almost ten. Which means I’ve been exposed to the annoying barrage of children’s programming for ten years. 3,650 days of the talking animals, the sing-song-repetitive bullshit, the nonexistent story-lines, and the guest-stars. When it comes to kids shows I’ve seen them all, from Barney to Blue’s Clues, Upside Down Show to Sesame Street, I’m a walking episode guide. I will stop at nothing for 22 minutes of downtime from this crazy-train called Motherhood.

Now, before you come at me with the suggestions of the American Academy of Pediatrics and their proposal for limiting, if not, eliminating television access for children under the age of two please understand: I really don’t care. The AAP isn’t living my life, or raising my kids, and I’m obviously not the only one who is allowing my children TV time, because if I were, they wouldn’t be a billion different shows for children on TV. So lets just acknowledge that, at times, I’m a mad woman on the brink who needs a break and continue from there.

In allowing TV time for my children I’ve opened myself up to a whole new world of crazy… the shows themselves. While I’m able to get a small block of time without someone saying, “Mommy, Mommy, Mom, Mom.” on loop, I now have some personal preferences about the shows that are going to drive me to the loony bin first. Here are the ones that drive me most crazy…

1. Dora The Explorer: Oh Dora, you had some redeeming qualities but in the last couple of years you’ve really jumped the shark. Once you made Swiper a good guy it was over for me. He’s a “sneaky fox who steals all your stuff”, you said it yourself… over and over and over again. Children live to yell, “Swiper, no swiping” at the damn TV and now, now he’s your buddy and you’re having slumber parties with him? I think not. Dora has obviously never seen Sleeping With the Enemy.

2. Go, Diego, Go!: Like Dora, I used to think Diego was okay. I enjoyed the fact that he spoke Spanish and rescued animals, but then they brought Rosie Perez in for a bit to play “Click the Camera” and my mind exploded. Guest-stars aren’t always a good thing. It was like Diego was dropped onto the set of It Can Happen To You and I’ve never been able to stomach the show again.

3. Max and Ruby: I’ve hated Max and Ruby since the first time my mesmerized child sat in front of it. Ruby is a demanding, self-righteous, bitch and I just want to cover her mouth with duct-tape, while Max says one word, over and over, on every show to drive you right to the edge of sanity. And where the hell are their parents? They take the bus to Grandma’s alone? NO. Hell no.

4. SpongeBob SquarePants: This show is not for children. At all. I know some adults enjoy it, but I am not one of those adults. Between SpongeBob’s voice, Patrick’s blatant stupidity and Squidward’s pompous attitude that’s the trifecta of bullshit. Not to mention, I don’t need a cartoon to introduce my child to the words: dumb, idiot and stupid. I’ll wait for the kids at public school to do that.

5. Sam and Cat: My 9-year-old LOVES Sam and Cat. I believe that one day my tombstone will read “Killed by Sam and Cat”. Cat’s annoying monotone voice haunts me when the show isn’t on. With Ariana Grande’s increasing popularity as the second-coming in the pop world, I’m hoping that means Sam and Cat won’t be filming anymore episodes.




6. Caillou: Caillou is a bratty, whinny, Charlie Brown wannabe. Avoid Calliou at all costs. Calliou is like kid heroin… hard to kick. Trust me on this.

7. Curious George: Aww, Curious George… these once-cherished, children’s books have been made into an animated show, and ugh. George is still a free-to-roam, up-to-no-good monkey who never gets in a bit of trouble. The Man with the Yellow Hat is still the biggest parenting pushover in the biz. No thanks. I’ll just read my kid the book.

8. Yo Gabba Gabba: I have no desire to watch my children experience a 30 minute acid trip, and that’s exactly what this show is. It’s only redeeming quality is that Biz Markie does a small rap segment on some shows. That’s cool as hell. Otherwise, skip Yo Gabba Gabba.

Releated post: Raising my Kid on 6 hours of TV a Day

Shut Up About Being Happy Already

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kids-making-a-mess Image via Shutterstock

Before I became a parent, I was assured I would never know such love as I have for my children. “Holding your baby is the most amazing experience of all!” I was told by parents, relatives, friends and random strangers in the check-out aisle of the grocery store who saw that I was great with child.

Imagine my surprise, when I first held my daughter and felt absolutely nothing but fear. Was I going to drop her? Would I raise her correctly? Had we chosen the right name? What had I done, thinking I could raise a human child?

My fear of course made me feel even more fearful. I was afraid, so did that automatically mean I was a bad mother? Where was that overflow of love I was promised? Was I broken? I was probably broken.

The overflow of love didn’t beat out the fear until two weeks later, when one night, as she screamed at two in the morning and I had exhausted all means of stopping her, I started crying. “Please,” I said, “I’m doing my best, just stop crying.”

And she did. The whole moment was so improbable, so ridiculous, that I laughed. I looked at that mewling little baby who half-resembled her father, and half-resembled Mikhail Gorbachev and I realized, she didn’t have a clue about anything either. The fear abated.

I thought about that moment again, when a well-meaning relative assured me that this time with my baby and three-year-old was a golden stage. “You will miss it when it’s gone,” she said. “It was the happiest time of my life.”

My days are full, meaningful, frustrating and involve a lot of poop, but happiest time of my life? I’m not so sure. But even admitting that makes me feel afraid that I am failing, I must be doing it wrong if I’m not overjoyed to scrub poop out of my 3 year-olds carpet.

A dearth of parenting books, manuals and how-to websites, assure parents that if there is a problem that you can fix it. That if something is wrong or frustrating or if your kid insists on biting your arm flab, that you can overcome this with firmness, patience and a few other products that can readily be purchased online. Bottom line: if you aren’t happy, it’s your fault and you are broken.




I wish the word “happy” would be stricken from parental vocabulary. As if a perfect bliss were the realistic end goal for raising children. It’s not. Life is messy, it is hard, and sometimes things don’t get better. Our self-help culture implies that all problems can be overcome. But when that “problem” doesn’t understand that she’s not supposed to keep peeing on the floor because the potty-training book says she won’t, well, good luck with that.

No parent who has ever lain on the floor crying because everyone else is crying around them, is broken. No mom who has ever looked at her child with eyes of sheer terror needs to be fixed. No mom who’s wished themselves away from the living room floor that’s always sticky and smells of poop, is doing it wrong.  I wish instead of parenting books that showed you how to be better, we had books that just taught you how to accept what is before us, with all the grace, joy, frustrating, anxiety and fear that comes with the territory.

Because I’m done with happy.

Related post: At Least 70% Of Being A Parent Sucks

My Daughter’s First Halloween in the NICU

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My elder daughter came into this world, ironically, over Labor Day weekend nearly 20 years ago. You might call it an early delivery… 3 1⁄2 months early. Two people who had faced four years of infertility, countless tests, near bankruptcy and multiple miscarriages. A final pregnancy that included everything from nearly daily sonograms to an undiscovered and almost fatal ectopic pregnancy to a cervical stitch at 17 weeks and hospitalization from 20 weeks on.

But we finally had a child. She just was small. Okay, itsy bitsy, teenie weenie small. 715 grams at 24 1⁄2 weeks. Joy and fear, guilt and hope were the emotional baggage that haunted us from the moment she arrived.

After emergency heart surgery at two weeks old (and only two pounds), and more scares than a Wes Craven movie, it was finally October. It looked like our little pumpkin was finally ready to face the frosty days of autumn… though only to experience it from the confines of her isolette.

To rally our spirits, our amazing nurses had a plan.

“Halloween is coming up. We need to get a costume for Samantha.”

Groggy eyed from a long night in the NICU, we didn’t comprehend at first.

“Did you say a costume? Can we do that?”

“Of course you can. It’s Samantha’s first Halloween. She needs a beautiful costume. Maybe a princess or cute little kitty cat.”

We stared at the nurses. Should we make a costume though neither one of us was crafty? Where we would buy such a thing? I mean, I don’t think they make costumes in Thumbelina sizes.

Someone suggested a toy store in a neighboring county, which sold a specific line of doll clothes. We were encouraged to take the drive.

The nurses knew what we needed. We needed to feel like regular parents and celebrate the holidays all parents dream about. That road trip was just what the doctors and nurses ordered.

So off we drove on a Sunday morning to this store. As we walked around the store, we seemed to lose our way, and our belief in what we were doing.

“May I help you?”

We stammered. “We’re looking for a costume for our daughter. She’s very premature and still in the hospital. We heard you may have something for her to wear.”

“I have just the thing. Come with me. We’ll find something really special for her. It is her first Halloween?”

The all-knowing store owner guided us toward an area with doll clothes of every style and shape. There were so many choices. So, so many choices. What was right? What was wrong? Did we know the difference?

Seeing us hesitate, the owner took the time to go through the selections. We limited ourselves to the smallest sizes as those would fit best. We also needed something that would work with all the wires and tubes that were a daily part of Samantha’s life.

And then I saw it. A white tennis dress with a head band, small racquet and tiny can of balls. A tennis player myself, I could see my daughter standing beside me in that outfit.

My wife, more intuitive than I could ever be, sensed what the moment meant to me. “We’ll take this. This is the perfect.”

Driving home from the store in a state of unaccustomed euphoria, we hurried to the NICU to show Samantha and the nurses what we had purchased. My wife huddled with the nurses as I placed the tennis gear in front of Samantha.

“Look Samantha, you’re going to be a tennis player for Halloween. Maybe you’ll play at Wimbledon one day. Wouldn’t that be great?”

Two weeks later, the moment arrived. Isolette glistening with Halloween decorations created by the nurses, we arrived to see Samantha dressed for her first tennis match.

Yes, the outfit was too big, but with her pleated white dress, she looked like she could easily win any set she set out to play.

That Halloween, there were no tricks, only the treat of seeing our daughter ready to take on the world, and win.

The Night My Son Almost Died

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I hold on to him more tightly than the others. I do this because he is, by nature, more affectionate, but more than that, because I almost lost him. Not in a supermarket, but to a freak illness. My oldest son almost died of croup at the age of four.

It was an ordinary Friday night in October, three years ago. He had developed a cold and we prepared ourselves for the first croup of the year. We put our two boys to bed. I went out to buy a humidifier. I came back a half hour later, set it up in their room, heard the sound of rough pre-croup breathing, and braced myself for what might come – probably a trip to the doctor in the morning after a sleepless night. We had done all this many times before.

About 15 minutes later, I thought I heard an unusual noise coming from their bedroom, so I went in to check. I found my son thrashing around in his bed, gasping for breath. I quickly grabbed him and brought him into the living room. In less than a minute, he was flailing in my arms, turning blue and I was calling 911. While on the phone, he stopped breathing and the phone call quickly turned into the operator instructing us on CPR. I remember those moments so clearly. We laid him on the floor by the front door, where moments earlier we had been prepping to rush him to the ER, and my husband performed CPR on his own young son. I stood there watching in horror, paralyzed. His whole life flashed before my eyes and in disbelief, I wondered if this was how it would end. Just like this? Really? So fast?

I was shaken from this horrifying reflection by the entrance of 10 firemen. I had never even heard the two firetrucks and ambulance arrive – I had not heard the sirens. They picked him up, brought him into the living room, cut off his favorite green pajamas, and started working on him. There was nothing I could do for my little boy. His life was totally out of my hands. My brain did strange things like focus on how interesting it was that they wanted his carseat to strap to the gurney. I didn’t know they transported kids like that. Before I knew it, they were wheeling him out the front door to the ambulance.

He was not stable. His oxygen was very low, so right there in front of our building, in the back of the ambulance, strapped in his Cowmooflage carseat, they intubated him. My husband and I sat on the curb, surrounded by curious on-lookers, and cried. When the job was done, I hopped into the front seat of the ambulance and off we went to Children’s Hospital. It was the longest 15 minutes of my life. I remember asking the ambulance driver if my son was going to die. (The things those firemen must witness and the conversations they must have!) He assured me that he would live. And he did.

After a couple days in the ICU, and a lot of steroids, he came out of it. No permanent damage.




It is a difficult thing to describe what it feels like, as a parent, to watch your child almost die. There is a feeling of complete helplessness, sort of like trying to grab for a rope you can’t reach as you fall from a great height. You realize acutely, in an instant, how much you love this child and how much he has impacted your life. You realize how much you don’t want to live without him. You would do anything to assure his survival. It is so much more than taking a deep breath of relief when he actually does pull through, it is more like the breath you might take if you were rescued from drowning.

Three years have passed and I still find myself emotional when October rolls around. I still relive that night sometimes. I still have that green pajama top, cut in half right down the front. I can’t bear to look at it, but I can’t get rid of it. I want him to have it as tangible evidence of the miracle of his survival.

Even though I didn’t hear them that night, I bristle when I hear sirens. I still want to hug every fireman I see. I still shudder at the thought that if I hadn’t gone in to check on him, I would have most likely found him dead the next morning.

This week my son brought home a school assignment to make a timeline of his life. We pulled out the photo books that I make for each child for each year of their lives (my one and only hobby these days). He started reading them cover-to-cover out loud. There was much laughter as he paged through his baby and toddlerhood. And then he got to the story about the night he almost died – a night he has absolutely no memory of. He read the story aloud and before I knew it there was a pause, and the tears were falling down his face. He stopped reading to give me a hug and a kiss.

And then, effortlessly, he turned the page and continued on. That moment of him turning the page held brilliant symbolism for me. He is still here. His life continues on.