Great Gorillas

Nope, not going to write about my love affair with the bonobos. I'm saving that story for a book.

Great Gorillas. I've given up swearing, yelling, and negative talk for Lent. I'd tell you how hard I expect that to be, but that would involve negative talk. So, to put a positive spin on it: I anticipate that I will rise to the challenge with the same vigor I put into folding laundry.

Here are some other things that have made me say Great Gorillas this week:

My two year old dumped an expensive jug of Tropicana orange juice on the kitchen floor. It's quite obvious to me that he mistook it for cleaning liquid and wanted to help mop the floor. What a sweet little helper he is.

He then squirted red paint all over the entrance carpet. I'm amazed by his artistic skills and his perserverance. I literally had to pry the paint from his hands after telling him to stop - he has that much invested in his artistic experiences.

He then dissapeared the DVD remote. He tells me he put it in the toilet. But he didn't flush. So that's wonderful. I've reached in as far as I can and haven't found it. I think he may be trying to play a little game with me and has hidden it elsewhere. You should have seen the joy on his face as he watched Mommy shove her hand down the toilet drain - wet up to her elbows. What fun games we play!

Through a Twitter conversation I've discovered that the Rice Krispies packaged squares now come with a feature that allows you to write a love note on them. Isn't that just sweet! I know there are many moms who cannot spare the ten minutes to make their own rice krispies, how wonderful of them to produce the prepackaged kind with their shiny wrappers. I've a suggestion for a love note to your child: "I love you so much I can't take my eyes off of you for the two minutes it takes to microwave marshmallows." Surely your child will feel the love.

Nutella has provided a website full of breakfast recipe suggestions featuring their product. Isn't it wonderful that they care so much about your child getting a healthy wholesome breakfast. I know so many children who are forced to eat uninspired fare like plain oatmeal for breakfast. Their moms could surely use the inspiration Nutella provides.

Margaret Wente. What a brilliant woman. Oh I just can't get over her ability to take something that seems so sensible and make it completely blurred and unlike reality at all. She's got a true gift! And people just flock to her columns because they really get discussion going on important topics.

The biggest Great Gorilla moment, though, was when I found out that Kraft has been happily fortifying their products with genetcially engineered milk. Buying from dairies that use synthetic Bovine Growth Hormone is one of the many consumer-friendly ways in which they keep their costs down. I was nearly dissapointed when I realised that Canada doesn't allow the use of rBGH in milk, but it promptly occured to me that Kraft dinner is equally cheap and tasty in both the US and Canada. Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Canada doesn't allow the use of rBGH at Canadian dairies, but does allow products containing milk produced in such ways to sell in Canada. Isn't that just delightful! I spent a whole morning researching the topic to make sure. So I have Kraft to thank for inspiring me to educate myself!

What wonderful things have happened to you this week?


How F*cked Up Celebs Can Help You Talk With Your Kids

My kids don't watch TV and see ads. When they do watch TV it's pre-selected videos that Mommy and Daddy have vetted. Although we've loosened our stance a little, most of these movies are pretty tame stuff or - if featuring violence - have some learning potential.

The main reason I don't want them watching TV has little to do with program content and more to do with ads. Ads, brands, marketing and the constant flow of pop-culture junk are, to me, more dangerous than watching a violent show.

Despite my trying to raise them in a cave, they are aware of pop-culture. They hear it from their friends and schoolmates all the time. My son has come home reciting the entire plot-line of shows he's never seen. My daughter asks for toys and accessories that she heard about from friends.

You can't protect them forever and you can never protect them from everything. It is not my intention to never let them watch ads or be swayed by marketing. I keep those things at bay because I know that at 6, 4, and 2, they are too young to look at anything with a critical eye. As long as they believe in the tooth fairy, Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, they're not ready to walk on the ground of media literacy.

But they hear things. Of course they do. Last night they heard my husband remark that he had finally caught on to the whole Charlie Sheen debacle. Over supper, he said a quick word about it. Something like "that Sheen, eh? Tiger blood? Really?"

My eldest heard it and immediately started quizzing us: "Who are you talking about?" "Who has tiger blood?" "Can people have tiger blood?"

Part of me wanted to just brush it off with another "oh it's just something silly that grownups are talking about." But he's six. And he is developing a critical intellect. And it's time to start opening the floodgates, just a teensy bit - a tiny trickle of our media-obsessed pop-culture to test his ability to understand and critically evaluate what so much of the world seems obsessed with.

And, though I hadn't expected to have this talk this early, it gave us the chance to let our son know what we thought about drugs.

The conversation went something like this:

Charlie Sheen does not have tiger blood.
Then why did Daddy say he does?
Because Charlie Sheen said he has tiger blood.
Is he lying?
Sort of.
Is he lying or is Daddy lying?
No one's really lying. Charlie Sheen...
Who is that anyway?
He's an actor - you know, he plays pretend on TV.
Oh. Have I seen him? Do you know him?
No. He's in a tv show for grownups. You don't watch it. And we don't know him. He's a man who thinks he's very important and  lot of other people think so too, but Mommy and Daddy don't think so.
Why did he say he has tiger blood?
You know how we don't want you to take Mommy and Daddy's pills, and we don't want your brother and sister to take your pills? Because they're dangerous, right? Well, some people take pills and other drugs because they think it will make them feel good. But they don't really. So they take more. And they keep taking more and then soon the drugs make them very sick and sometimes it damages their brain so that they can't think right.
So he doesn't know how to think? Why does he lie?
Because he doesn't know he's lying, honey. He's mentally ill. His brain is sick - the same as your tummy gets sick. When yor tummy gets sick you can't eat and sometimes you throw up. Well his brain can't think and sometimes it makes him say things that aren't true -bad things come out just like throw-up.
But why does he think he has tiger blood?
Because he thinks he's a hero - a really strong man - and that he got that way by having strong tiger blood in him.
But he's not?
No, he's just a man. He has a lot of money and a lot of people listen to him, but he's just a man who's sick. And a lot of people are making fun of him and trying to get him to say more lies and silly things because they think it's funny. But we know it's not right to make fun of people, right?
So they're making him lie?
No, what they're doing is listening to his lies. And because he doesn't know he's lying he thinks that they're listening to really important things he has to say. So he tries to come up with more important things to say, but they're always lies. Remember, his brain doesn't work right.
Because of the drugs?
Yes (SCORE!).
But that's mean - people shouldn't make fun of him.
Sometimes people forget that people that play pretend on TV are real people. They pretend to be someone else so much, that the people who watch TV don't know when they're pretending and when they're not.
But that's silly.
Yes it is.

And then the conversation naturally drifted into other topics. I mentioned that he has children and that he can't see them anymore because he might be dangerous to them. And my boy wanted to know why. So I gave a possible story of Sheen thinking he could fly and jumping off his roof with one or more children. And my son asked why other people would let him do that and then my daughter interrupted with a story of her own and we let the conversation naturally drift.

I don't know why people would let him do that. I'm glad I didn't have to answer that one because I'm not ready to discuss enablers with him yet.

But the whole thing made me realise that maybe he's ready to have the media world in it's full gore and glory unleashed on him. There's so much potential for learning there: drug abuse, scandal, body image, and just the general foolishness of it all.

I love that he thinks it's all very strange and questionable. That's exactly what I wanted - to let him live a life that wasn't inundated with this junk to the point where he couldn't question it.

Maybe tonight I'll show him this Dove Self-Esteem Fund ad

and then show him this Pond's Flawless White ad

And then we can discuss how one hypocritical company can have two completely different advertising campaigns (I'd show him an AXE ad but he's only 6). Or how making people feel good - whether by telling them they're good enough or by telling them they can be better (with their product) - sells things like moisturizer.

Think he's ready for it?


The Rulebook

Dear Children:

For nine months I grew you. I endured bladder infections, fainting spells, around the clock vomitting and kidney stones. I brought you forth into the world in the midst of great pain: back labour, malpresentation, placental tearing, vaccumming, episiotomy, c-section and more.

I nursed you. I cluster nursed you. I danced up the hill outside our house at three am singing Thunderstruck by ACDC because the song, dance, upward movement and fresh air was the only thing that would get you to sleep. I walked to playgrounds at midnight and swung with you on my lap because the swinging was the only thing that would get you to sleep and you refused to be put down. I rocked for five hours straight while nursing when you had the ear infection that wouldn't let you sleep.

I gave up dairy, soy, eggs, legumes and seafood when your food allergies meant my milk would make you sick. I cooked for you because I wanted to and because you coudn't eat any commercially prepared food. I continue to cook for you, catering every meal so there's at least one thing each of you likes. Preparing vegetables so that you cannot taste, see, or smell them, cooking meat so that it's tough because you hate "smooth meat." Packing lunches that accomodate your sentsitivites, your classmates allergies and your pickiness.

I have wiped drool from your chin, snot from your nose, and shit from your ass. I have wiped pee from every surface in my home. I have wiped vomit and blood and puss from surfaces that never should have seen them. I have wiped your faces with my spit, and your noses with my sleeve. I have wiped tears from your eyes almost every time you cry.

I have taught you how to speak. I have read to you for countless hours, enduring the fifth rereading of the same book in one night because you have insisted and I have appreciated your hunger for the written word. I have bicycled your legs to strengthen them, held your hands as you tiptoed to improve your balance, held your legs as you balanced on a ball to improve your stomach muscles.

I have cut out paper dolls, blended soap and paint, drilled holes for your screws, made easels and blackboards. I have mixed cupcakes and marshmallow fondant. I have planned parties. I have created posters from nothing but a handful of photos and our combined imagination. I have helped you write your first stories, listened to your first poem and attended more living room fireplace concerts than I can count.

I have removed splinters, burst blisters, slathered cream on rashes. I have checked for lice and for tumours. I have brushed every last bit of cradle cap from your head though I know it will return next week. I have stopped bloody noses and iced bumped heads. I have brought you to the hospital and shouldered the blame for your injuries. I have sat with you in an ambulance, in an MRI waiting room, in a genetics office, in a late-night emergency room and prayed for your health and your life.

I would do it all again. Every last thing. Even the c-section. Even the snotty, bloody, vomit.

Because I love you. Because that is what mother's do.

But please, please, please don't ask me to play pretend with you ever again. I love playing pretend. I love to pretend. But I do not love your ceaseless instructions and intrusive rules. If you tell me once more what the character I'm pretending to be is supposed to say and do and then yell at me for getting one word wrong, I do believe that I will be the one spewing bloody, snotty, vomit. For the love of all that is between us, please don't make me be kitty's mother, or school bus driver, or pit crew ever again.

Tiger rides are still cool, though.

Love You,


And Now for Something Completely Different

You know how you can make really good friends blogging. You come across another blogger who's style you like and watchyakno they like yours too and next thing you know your friendship is as solid gold as Elton John's Candle in the Wind.

You know what I'm talking, bout, right?

So anyway, of course the day will come when you feel like you want to reach out to that new friend, to give him or her something they'll really like. And since you can't slip him the tongue online or give her a home pedicure, you do the next best thing and give them a digital present.

Like this lovely one Heather from Note from Lapland sent me:

You see, because of our very special and strong relationship, she knows the tenderness in my heart for a good bit of monkey porn - or bonobo porn to be more specific.

And because of the very special relationship I have with a Very Bored Housewife, I know about her feelings regarding sexual encounters. She quite readily states:
For me, it really is a no brainer, if both parties are up for it (to coin a phrase) and there is no other party in the wings that may be hurt by this chance encounter then why not? 
So, for my lovely friend in Catalunya, I give this gift. Because I know she also feels like oxen have been ignored for far too long.

But wait! I'm not done. You see I have another close friend who also loves a good ox story. And I know for a fact that she's curious about the things men do and talk about and how beer is involved more than boobs so for her, I've found this historical presentation on what happens when a few men drink too much beer and get into a pissing match over whose ox is biggest  fastest.

So, Bianca, this is for you:

Now ladies, I dare your husbands to give you better gifts than those!

This oxcentric post has been brought to you by the crazed whims of my mind and the silliness of online chatting.