Biscuit on Patience

 “I’m just gonna lay on the floor and wait.”

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Biscuit has a serious blueberry muffin addiction. Once they go into the oven she’s a jittery, sweating ball of anticipation. She looks in the oven and announces that they are done, even though they are still very wet plops of raw egg and oil. Once they come out, I have to physically restrain her so she doesn’t sear her little fingers on the pan.

“Wait,” I say. “They need to cool.”

“But I want them NOW! I WAAAAANT them!!!”

“Well, you have to wait. You need to work on being patient. They are too hot, and you need to wait.” So she sprawls out in protest of this whole “waiting” thing.

At least now she’s silently protesting.

#Neverforget… What?

Yesterday was September 11th, again, and Facebook, Twitter, Instachat, Snapder, Tindagram, and every other publisher of unfiltered, self-serving drivel was filled with people instructing everyone else to #neverforget. But for the life of me I don’t know what the hell they mean by that, and I’d bet most of them don’t know either. My guess is that most people posting a pic of the lights in lower Manhattan with a #neverforget caption are just checking the box of a perceived social obligation. “OOH! I should post a pic of my first pumpkin spice latte of the year! [Sees the date on iPhone home screen] Oh, shit. It’s September 11th. Ok, I’ll make a 9/11 post real quick so I don’t look like an asshole. Then the latte.”

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Never forget… What exactly? Why should we never forget? Is never forgetting different from always remembering? Is nothing sacred? Do you have to use that horrendous hash tag?

When I see the words “Never Forget” on the back of a massive pickup truck, I assume that it means, “Never forget the dirty [insert slur involving towels, camels, and/or sand here] who did this. We gonna make ‘em pay! [spits into dip cup]” Do some people literally mean, “Hey, don’t forget! I know you almost completely forgot that that happened, and you wouldn’t have remembered if I hadn’t reminded you.” Excuse me, but what the fuck?! I’m insulted that you think I actually need to be reminded. No one is going to just forget. “Oh, yeah! That World Trade Center thingy. Didn’t a bunch of people die or something?” No. Not gonna happen.

The only other thing I can think of is that it is somehow related to grief and guilt. I’ve learned a lot about grief lately. Not my own; I’ve been fortunate enough to not have lost anyone very close to me. But I’ve been working my way through Nate Bennett’s new book, Shannon’s Gift, and I’ve watched the first season of HBO’s The Leftovers (both of which I would highly recommend). Shannon’s Gift is a very raw, intimate window into Bennett’s grief and recovery after suddenly losing his wife. The Leftovers takes place three years after 2% of the world’s population suddenly vanishes, and it focuses on the people of a small Long Island town who are all grieving in their own ways.

A theme that shows up in both Shannon’s Gift and The Leftovers (which is based on a book of the same name) is the internal conflict of never forgetting and always remembering. It goes something like this: You are miserable because of your loss, but you want to be happy. The one you lost would want you to be happy, so you feel guilty for not being happy. But as soon as you do feel happy, you also feel guilty because happiness looks and feels like forgetting. You don’t want to forget, out of respect for the one you lost, and because there was so much good to remember about them. So now you’re feeling guilty and miserable again. It’s a shitty cycle to be stuck in.

Is that what we’re doing? Are we circling back around? Is it like hanging garlic on our door to keep the guilt away? “Never forget. Don’t move on completely. Continue to feel some amount of pain. You’re not allowed to not feel some pain. I haven’t forgotten. I’m not a bad person. I still hurt. I have to.” What about the people who actually lost someone in the attacks? Not a second cousin or a coworker, but a spouse or a child – someone who truly left a gaping hole in their heart. They aren’t free to grieve in their own way. The entire country is grieving for them. And I don’t mean “for them” to mean that we are empathetic. I mean the country is literally grieving for them – taking their place and forcing the grief to take a certain manifestation. Some people like to grieve in private. Some people want to take that date of the year back and be able to enjoy it. Some people may think the date itself holds no real significance; it’s just an arbitrary marking of time. But we say, “Nope. You will grieve on September 11th every year. We will hold ceremonies that we expect you to attend. We will remind you to never forget, because if you do forget, you are a bad person. We can’t let that guilt fully escape you.”

The only way to avoid it is to stay inside with everything turned off. In The Leftovers, a cult called The Guilty Remnant forms. The group’s entire purpose is to not let anyone forget about “The Great Departure.” They essentially torture people with heart-wrenching reminders, not just of the event as a whole, but also of each individual’s loss. They punish themselves as well by abandoning their families and possessions. They wear all white and chain smoke “to proclaim [their] faith.” As I saw the #neverforget hash tags popping up in my news feed, I couldn’t help but picture the author staring at the computer screen in all white, with a cigarette hanging out of their mouth.

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Not only do we tell these poor people to never forget, we make them relive it. Radio and TV stations love to replay their coverage minute by minute, exactly as it happened on that day. How massively fucked up is that?! If you received a phone call one day to tell you that your wife was dead, would you want to hear a recording of that phone call over and over again? What if you had to avoid radio and TV every year on that day because they were all broadcasting that phone call? It’s a sick kind of torture for these people, but we don’t even think about that. We just like to watch the train wreck over and over again.

I know that people have good intentions when they talk about 9/11. I don’t think anyone is maliciously trying to hurt people. But when you type the words “never forget”, I challenge you to think about what exactly it is you want everyone, and yourself, to remember. Be bold and say whatever it is you really mean. If there’s some lesson to be learned, say it. But don’t just throw out an obligatory, vapid phrase that isn’t even a complete thought. Never forget… What?

Penis Awareness is Not a Gateway Drug

Today I saw an article that highlights some of the craziest things doctors have had to tell patients about their own bodies. I thought, “These are hilarious, but they cannot be real.” Ten minutes later I changed my mind when I saw another article. This one talks about how parents have their boxers in a bunch because a baby doll actually has male genitalia instead of that weird, nebulous, overextended taint most dolls have.

For anyone as clueless as the mother of two who didn’t know why she was bleeding every month, simply telling your daughter about penises will not get her pregnant, scar her for life, or jump start an otherwise completely unnatural early sexual awakening. She won’t contract a disease, suddenly become a brazen hussy, or start a career on the pole. She might, however, continue on with her life as usual, less interested in the no-longer-mysterious, dangling appendages in her classmates’ pants… At least until she hits puberty.

My only complaint is, “So where’s the baby doll with a vulva?”

Biscuit as Mommy

Monkey

“I love you, Monkey. You’re my sweet girl.”

I overhead this when Biscuit was playing by herself, and talking to her little toy monkey. As a parent, you say a lot of things around your kid you don’t want them to repeat. They can grab on to something you said just one time, and repeat it two weeks later. (Like the other day when she told Insurance Boss from the back seat of the car, “You’re not paying attention!” Whoops.) You can also lose your patience with them somewhere around the fifth attempt at picking a pair of pajamas and say something you regret. When you hear something like this, it reassures you that they do know how much you love them.

The Bubble Struggle Is Real

Bubbles are the greatest thing to ever happen to a 2-year-old… As long as she can do it herself, which she can’t. And because she can’t, bubbles are the most evil invention known to man.

When a child sees bubbles, even if she’s seen them ten thousand times, all other things in life lose their meaning. Slides and swings are abandoned. Temper tantrums are forgotten. Fruit snacks are cast aside like boiled brussel sprouts. Bubbles are fun. Bubbles are magical. Bubbles are a huge pain in my ass.

When your kid starts showing interest in bubbles, you naively go buy a simple, small bottle with a traditional bubble wand. You picture yourself blowing bubbles while your little one runs and giggles with pure, sugary delight. But the reality is that as soon as you open that bottle and pull the wand out, your toddler will shout, “I wanna do iiiiiiiittt!!!!” She’ll grab for the wand, pouring half the bottle of bubble liquid in your lap. Congratulations. Your pants are wet and soapy and your kid has quickly elevated from Level 1: Calm to Level 2: Agitation. You think, “Ok, I’ll let her try. She blew out her birthday candle. She can do this.”

You hand her the wand, and she immediately sticks it in her mouth. Now she’s spitting, wiping her tongue, and crying, all at a Level 3: Distress. You try several times to show her how to do it, but she either can’t blow hard enough or insists on holding the wand at forehead level. Either way, not a single bubble is produced. She’s approaching Level 4: Hissy Fit and you’ve had enough. So you take a risk and tell her, “Let mommy blow some bubbles and you can pop them!” This suggestion sends her into full-on, red alert Level 5: Seething Tantrum, and as she flails on the floor, kicking your shins, the remaining bubble liquid seeps stickily into the space between your toes.

My kids like bubbles

After you’ve recovered from this incident, you get the brilliant idea that what you need is a battery powered bubble blower. You start with something small and hand-held but it only works for five minutes before crapping out. Those first five minutes are glorious and gratifying. But they aren’t worth the disappointment and tears you’ll have to quell. For anyone who hasn’t been through this yet, I will save you from the long, arduous discovery process: there is not a single battery powered bubble blower in existence that will actually function properly for any significant period of time. If there was, every single parent would own one. They’d be handed out at the hospital as part of your take-home kit along with diapers, wipes, and your trial pack of formula.

I recently reached a point where I was completely ready to give up on bubbles. And then I found the Melissa & Doug Sunny Patch Bella Butterfly Bubble Blower. (Christ, that’s a long name.) It has a mouth piece on it so there can be no mistake about where to blow. (That’s what she said.) And BISCUIT CAN DO IT!!! Halle-fucking-lujah, she can do it!

As it turns out, the damn thing is also a pathetic attempt at a musical instrument. It makes a horrific whistling sound that is just one octave below a dog whistle.

But at least she’s happy.

Keepin’ It Classy

Insurance Boss: “Biscuit, you wanna come with me to the trash? You carry this [beer] box, and I’ll carry that [beer] box.”

Me: “And hope the neighbors don’t see.”

Insurance Boss: “It’s ok, she’s got the Stella Artois.”