Saturday, March 8, 2008

And the Gold Medal Goes to...

Beijing 2008. Summer Olympics. Did you know that a new event is being introduced? I kid you not. Bird is in training and has been for oh, two years now. I think he's got a real shot. Yeah, a real shot. I'm willing to bet that one sight of him with his game on, and all other Olympians, some not even in his event, will run. Far, far away. Like out of earshot for fear of pummeling him.

Out with discus throwing, in with tantrum throwing.

Bird can throw a tantrum so extreme that even Hollywood can't reproduce it in HD widescreen to do it justice. I'm talkin' screaming, kicking, throwing, upturning chairs, wild shrieking tantrum. He rolls around like a possessed little freakazoid and makes sounds that don't occur naturally in the animal kingdom in mating season (similar to sounds you'll hear come out of Chez Dirt & Noise if McBush wins in 2008).

The tantrums were so horrific at one time that Mac Daddy and I sought professional help. At first we thought the local bartender would be help enough, but we soon realized that the toddler t- shirt that says "I drive my daddy to drink." is more funny when it's not true. Cathy, a family counselor, came to our rescue. Cathy had more arrows in her quiver than Cupid in a freshman dorm. And you know what? Each and every tactic worked. There were times that life was not pretty in our house, despite my best efforts of keeping up appearances. Bobbi Brown can only do so much to mask my hereditary dark circles.

These "episodes," shall we call them, occurred rather frequently. I gave up wearing heels and walked on pins and needles instead. We never came up with an algorithm robust enough to predict what would spark a tantrum. Did the peas touch the sweet potatoes? Did I put his left arm into his shirt first? Was the cat looking at him? Even Malthouse, my stats professor from Northwestern, wasn't up to the task.

And so there we were. Left in the cold wondering if it was worth it to even leave the house. Surely we could survive without milk and toilet paper. It was worth sparing a square to avoid taking this ball of tantrumic kinetic energy to the grocery store. I can't tell you how many parks, museums, play areas, and oh, public places in general, I had to haul Bird out of in the traditional fireman carry. Imagine if you will, thrashing child over my shoulder, whimpering baby in my arms, and me, a crimson contortion of defeat. I still recall that feeling of defeat so palpably that my brain puts up a crossing gate, refusing to let me all the way in.

There were times Bird and I were both left with scrapes and bruises. Me from his wild flailing of appendages as if he had suddenly become Doc Ock, and him from my struggling to hold those limbs in place. My future looked bleak at the time, and I thought I wasn't cut out to be a mother (not that turning in a letter of resignation was an option). Somehow this was all my fault, genetically or otherwise, and I couldn't even see a glimmer of light the size of a paillette. This period was the worst of my Sisyphus existence. By a long shot.

I am relieved to say that this period has ended (and I'm praying that Deal misses this stage...allow me to bask in the land of make believe). Bird has become a joy. Yes, he still has his fiery moments. We all do.

My parents like to shake their heads and exchange knowing glances, mumbling some nonsense about karma and divine justice. Surely I was never in training for the 1972 Olympics.
And the Gold Medal Goes to...SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Friday, March 7, 2008

Update on Fei Fei

I contacted the online editor of the Shanghai Daily. Here is the phone number to the police station in China handling baby Fei Fei's case: 011-8623-61350358 (direct dial from the US).

I am working on tracking down someone who speaks Mandarin to call for me. I'm still searching for ways to help her...and trying to convince Mac Daddy that we can do more than send a check.

Anyone out there know Mandarin?
Update on Fei FeiSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Customer Service is Not Dead

The amazing folks at Cafe Press are living proof that superior customer service is alive and kicking in our world of cell phone chatting sales clerks and excuse-me-while-I-file-my-nails service reps.

I ordered a bunch of Obama gear (like the shirt pictured above) and received the wrong size in a shirt I got for Bird. Cafe Press is simply sending me a new shirt in the right size at no charge and not making me return the shirt that doesn't fit. For all I know, I clicked the wrong size amid all the dirt and noise surrounding me so the fault is all mine. Cafe Press doesn't care. They just want to make my life easier. Did I mention they're not charging me for the shirt? Even though this is probably due to a simple slip of the mouse on my part. No return approval codes, UPS shipping costs, proof of delivery slips to lose in my ridiculously cute but overly slouchy hobo bag. (I'm a girl who needs compartments. Lots of them. The cuteness of the slightly metallic gold leather fooled me into thinking I could make a hobo bag work. I should have known that nothing with the word "hobo" attached is fashion-sensible.)

I can't remember the last time someone wanted to make my life easier. In fact, most days I feel like Deal refuses to potty train simply to make my life more difficult. Ditto for Bird and his know-it-all quizzes and Mac Daddy leaving his keys and shoes all over the place. I need compartments in my purse AND in my life.

I've been a fan favorite of Cafe Press ever since I ordered my awesome donkey shirt from there years ago. Now I'm a raving fan. Thanks for making my day a happy one with such a simple gesture. No customer compromises! And by the way, this is a totally unpaid endorsement...which is the only reliable kind.

If I created a custom shirt at Cafe Press, it would read "Everything in its place." -OR- "If Momma Ain't Happy, Nobody's Happy."
Customer Service is Not DeadSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

An Heir and A Spare

For the abridged version, click on the title above. For the lengthier version with more details that are worth the few minutes it takes to read, continue on below. Warning, this is long but worthy. Keep Kleenex handy. Use your shirtsleeve or the hem of your cubicle mate's skirt if you need to. Don't proceed unless you're wearing waterproof mascara.

Translated and passed on by one of my grad school alums:
On Feb 24 at 9:47am, an old man placed a little girl under the wheels of a moving train at a train station in Chongqing, China. The girl's legs were crushed.The old man was arrested with the assistance of a peasant worker on the site. According to some witnesses, the old man was with an old woman. Somehow, the old woman escaped.

The old man placed the little girl, who was inside a bamboo basket, under the wheels twice. For the first time, he failed. For the second time, the girl's legs were crushed immediately. The girl cried and struggled and managed to crawl out of the basket. When the police came to her, she had lost her two legs and was lying in blood, but her big eyes were still very beautiful and clear.

After simple handling to stop bleeding, the little girl was taken to the emergency room, together with the crushed basket and two cut legs. When she arrived in the hospital, she had already lost too much blood. However, there were not much crying. She simply repeated and repeated: "Mama. Mama, Hug…. Hug."

At around 11:00am, the girl was pushed into the operation room. After anesthesia, she gradually fell asleep. After more than three hours, the girl was pushed out after an operation and 400ml of blood input. She lost her legs forever.

The reporter went to find the girl at 9pm. The child was lying in bed, no crying, no struggling, while the doctors and nurses changed her medications and did other things on her. Till that time, nobody knew her name. The old man said he was the girl's paternal grandfather and the girl's name was Fei Fei Wang, but nobody could believe his words because nobody could believe a grandfather would never do such a thing. So, she was registered as 'nameless' in the hospital and because of her loveliness, everybody called her "well-behaved".

The old man had an ID card with him, which showed his name and residence address. After further investigation, the girl's parents were contacted and it was confirmed that the old man, Dao Jin Wang, was the girl's paternal grandfather.

According to the news, Fei Fei is the elder child of the couple and is now 1 year and 8 months old. Her younger sister is 6 months old. Fei Fei and her sister were taken care of by their maternal grandparents. Recently, Fei Fei's paternal grandfather Dao Jin Wang indicated he wanted to take Fei Fei to his home in Guizhou Province, China. The parents agreed and had the paternal grandfather live with them in Fei Fei's maternal grandparents' house in Sichuan province for around half a month before they bade farewell to Fei Fei and her paternal grandfather on Feb 23 at a local train station. Nobody expected that Dao Jin Wang would commit such a crime to poor yet very strong and lovely Fei Fei on the way to Guizhou. The crime happened after they traveled for some distance and they got off the train before they arrived in Guizhou. The police indicated that the old man might have some mental disorder but no person believes that. According to the train schedule, the train which Fei Fei took arrived in Chongqing at around 5am and the crime happened at around 10am. When he put the poor girl under the wheels he did it so fast that nobody had time to respond and he tried to run away after that. It is obvious he did it purposely and he was conscious that he could be arrested for the crime. He also indicated to the police that he would die at most for putting the girl under the wheels. How can such a man have mental disorder!

The girl's parents and her maternal grandfather arrived at the police station at around 7:00am on Feb 25. After the police handed the newspaper with 'well-behaved' s story, the mother slowly glided from the couch to the floor. Her father stood aside, being unable to utter a single word. The maternal grandfather could not believe that the paternal grandfather really did this. The mother said: "The two children I bore are both girls. They might not like that."

Upon arrival at Fei Fei's Ward, the mother cried: "Fei Fei, Mama is coming to hug you!" The parents fell on their knees beside Fei Fei's sick bed: "We're sorry. We're sorry". Perhaps awaken by her mother's voice, Fei Fei opened her eyes from her sleep. Her hands,which was tied to the bedframe, swayed and swayed.

"Mama, hug! hug!" Fei Fei again uttered the sentence she repeated hundreds of times. Looking at her daughter, who was still provided with oxygen and IV, the mother put her face together with Fei Fei's little face and cried again. "Mama, hungry." This is her second sentence. The mother could only use a cotton swab to provide Fei Fei with some water. At the time, Fei Fei seemed to have forgotten her pains and smiled.

On Feb 26, the nurse unwrapped Fei Fei's bandage to apply new medication for her and the mother saw her daughter's broken legs for the first time. Holding Fei Fei, the mother wept bitterly. Though no voice, her tears, as big as peas, wettened the collar.

At 3:00pm on Feb 26, the nurse informed Fei Fei's mother that she needed to sign a cremation agreement so that Fei Fei's two cut off legs could be sent to the funeral home to be incinerated. At 3:30pm, the nurse took Fei Fei's mother to see the cut off legs. After 10 minutes, the nurse accompanied the mother, who almost fainted, out. After arrival at the office, the mother burst into tears: "The shoes were bought by me just before the Chinese New Year. I myself put them on for her. Daughter, how many times did I kiss your little feet!" After the mother calmed down a little, the nurse took out the cremation agreement and asked her to sign it. Suddenly, the mother became out of control: "She walked on the floor just days ago!" After another 20 minutes' crying, she said: "I want to bury. I don't want to incinerate." She begged the officers: " can I taken them back home and bury them" She was told:" No. The hospital can only keep them for 7 days and you cannot take limbs on a vehicle.' The mother still did not sign the agreement. She asked for several more days to think about it.

According to some specialist, Fei Fei would need an operation to shorten her growing leg bones each year until she reaches 18 because the skin covering the injured ends will not grow with the bones. She will also need a new pair of artificial legs to match her natural legs till she reaches 18. Fei Fei suffered too much already yet she will still suffer too much in her whole life. Her life was saved. However, how will she cope with this tragic accident and live through the rest of her life remains a big question.

Her parents are young and poor rural Chinese residents, they have no saving, no medical insurance, no social support system for such a sudden tragic. They themselves had to travel thousands of miles away from home to make barely $100 per month. It's almost impossible for them to financially support this girl's immediate and future medical needs.

My $0.02

She had me at "Mama, Hug! Hug!"

I can't begin to understand the deep seated goings on in this man's mind. Not one iota of these actions makes sense to me in any way. I have read about such horror, most recently in the book "Sun Flower and the Secret Fan" by Lisa See. That story took place in remote 19th century China. I am a girl. A girl born in India to parents and extended family who loved me simply because I was a part of them. My children's grandparents sneer and snuff when I so much as tell Bird and Deal to stop flicking paint at each other in our newly renovated house. They are overprotective and doting to the Nth degree.

Granted, I have two boys. The only two to carry on the paternal family name. The only two to carry on my immigrant family's name too (hint, hint, Big Brother who is having more fun living the high life than settling down to diapers and Legos underfoot).

I am going to adopt this little girl. I mean it. I have already inquired about what I can do to help. I will post what I find out as soon as I get some answers. Did you catch that, Mac Daddy? We are going to bring this little tyke into our home and let her experience unconditional love and glee in that spare pink bedroom sitting unused down the hall. I am going to eat her up and plant wet kisses all over her winsome little face. Bird and Deal have been asking for a little sister lately, so I take this as a sign.
An Heir and A SpareSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Monday, March 3, 2008


"Careful, buddy. You're not wearing a Pull Up right now." Mac Daddy to Deal

"No, but I'm wearing a penis!" Deal
PerspectiveSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Lately there's been a gaggle of folks whispering, "So, have you met the new neighbors?" The seemingly innocent conversation starter has a whole host of dynamics attached. Gossip. Disbelief. Judgement. Novelty. Curiosity. I give my neighbor Chuck and Mac Daddy, a lot of credit for the genuine aplomb with which they responded to that very question yesterday. They were like, "Oh sure we met. They seem so fun and cool. We're really looking forward to seeing them once they're settled in." They were being honest, not making a statement, based on their bona fide candor. It's pretty easy to diffuse the situation when the instigator doesn't get the response he expected.

The hushed tones of such questioning are akin to that mother's whispering of unseemly words in St. Elmo's Fire. I find such behavior so irksome. You see, the new neighbors are two women. Who live together. They're not related. One is not the landlord and the other a paying tenant. No one is the caretaker of the other. They're not even roommates. Give up? They're gay for goodness sake. BFD. Not even newsworthy. Yawn. There's certainly juicier gossip than that in the 'hood. Hell, I'm potentially fodder for better grilling meat considering some of the stuff I write on this here very blog.

Are we so far removed from diversity of the population that a gay couple moving in two doors down is all that interesting? I recall a few years back when similar whispering ensued when Republicans moved onto the street. We were flabbergasted. Republicans?! Moving in here? What ghastly horror to invade our progressive little precinct! They'll ruin our voting records! Tell me it's not so! It turns out that more and more are sending moving announcements (on engraved Crane stationery, no doubt) from our zip code, but that's for another day. I'll have plenty to report on that divide once the election heats up. But I digress, as I so often do...

I find it more difficult to explain to Bird and Deal why someone has guns in his home than why two women live together or why one of Bird's buddies has two mommies. In fact, all the kids in class think it's pretty darn cool that this little boy gets to have TWO mommies. To these children, mommy equals love. I might be the only Indian in the world who's bad at math but even I know that this equation balances, no matter who the mommy is. Love, in all its forms, is infinitely easier to explain than violence or danger, or the potential for it, in all its many, gruesome forms. Love makes sense. It is indeed patient and kind.

The face of the American family isn't necessarily changing, it's just that the myriad forms of families are finally marching out from the under the rock we've collectively buried them under. Back in the 80s there was a whole lot of whispering going on among my friends' parents because my mom and dad were divorced. I was the only one whose parents weren't married, and in retrospect, the whispers and pitying looks I got all spelled: Gossip. Disbelief. Judgement. Novelty. Curiosity. To top it off, my brother and I lived with our dad. Not our mother. That's still practically unheard of, so imagine the judgement passed and speculation going on back in the day.

Times are changing folks, and let's keep up! No use staying shackled to closed minded ways that don't provide opportunities to teach our children (and ourselves, for that matter) about the diversity of the world. It's enriching to have the world open up to us verus closing in on us.
WhispersSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend