Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Why I Hate Berkeley (S)Mothers

Arabis and I headed off to Totland early this morning, leaving Monkey Boi home in bed (he was up too late playing Starcraft on the computer). We get there and Arabis heads off running to check out all her favorite stuff. There are two older girls on the slide (about seven and five: far older than the normal Totland demographic) and they are monopolizing the slide, climbing up it the wrong way and not letting other kids get on. Arabis manages to wriggle past them and as she is on the ladder almost to the top, the older one runs around to climb up the stairs and pushes past her, almost sending her tumbling backwards down the stairs. Then both girls stand at the top of the slide and prevent Arabis from going down. Arabis looks askance for a moment before deciding that she's just going back down the stairs. There is no adult in sight supervising them.

I come over and tell her that those girls didn't want to share and we'd just go play on something else. She was fine with that and we go off and play on some other equipment. We talked to another mother and grandmother who complimented Arabis on her t-shirt ("Hello, my name is Trouble") and her rock star sunglasses. I pushed her on the baby swings and we played on the big wooden structure and drove cars around.

Then she wanted to go on the adult swing (there are two in the corner). The older of the two girls from the slide was on one so I took Arabis to the other swing and pushed her very gently for a little bit (she's just getting the hang of the how the big swing works). She got down after a little while and walked in front of the other swing. I cried out and dove to grab her but the girl sped up and kicked Arabis in the head, sending her sprawling in the sand.

She had sand in her mouth, on her teeth, streaked down her face on the tracks of tears, in her hair. I scooped her up and carried her hysterical to the bench, checking her for any obvious injury and trying to comfort her as much as possible. Got her to drink some water and eventually calm down. Scooped the sand out of her mouth and checked all her teeth for anything loose (no, thank goodness) and cleaned her up as best I could. One woman came over to see if we were okay, which was very nice.

I look over and notice an adult talking to the older girl who is still on the swing. The girl gets off the swing and follows the woman to a stroller where the woman proceeds to strap the younger girl in to. I pick up Arabis, who has stopped crying and gasping and walk over to them.

"Your daughters almost pushed my child down the steps of the slide about a half hour ago. They have been bullying other kids in this playground and now your daughter just kicked my child in the head," I tell this woman in a voice so calm I frightened myself.

"Thank you for informing me of their actions," says the woman, not looking up at me and fiddling with her bag and the stroller.

"I would like your daughter to apologize," I tell her through clenched teeth.

"Only if you apologize first for being so angry," the miserable woman replies.

I was aghast. What the fuck?!? I look down at her kids, who are also refusing to look at me. I look at her with my mouth open in shock. A thousand unutterable names course through my head but I am aware of all the toddlers around us and I manage to not call her a miserable sniveling c*nt of a camel's whore and just say, "Excuse me?"

She repeated her desire that I needed to apologize for my anger before her child would apologize to Arabis for kicking her in the head.

"You're insane," I said. And she walked away.

I took Arabis to the car and gave her some milk and held her while she got hysterical again. Then after I got her calmed down I called my friend Shemena to rant because I got hysterical.

We went home and she's fine. She's got some bruising around one temple so I gave her some Tylenol. Her pupils are fine. She and Monkey Boi played with the Duplo blocks for a while and chased each other around laughing, so I think she is fine. I'll still watch her and look for any additional bruising in the bath tonight.

On a happier note, here are a couple portraits taken this morning prior to going to the park. It's hard to take self-portraits with a wiggly todder: we never both look good in the same shot!

The Look

Self-Portrait with Wiggle Worm

Wha' dat?

Friday, August 10, 2007

The Sky is Falling!

I bought a chicken today. Or more accurately, I purchased a carcass that once housed the soul of a chicken (if chickens can be said to possess souls {which is a philosophical discussion for another time}).

This is kind of a big deal for me. In no way am I the "Suzy Homemaker" type. No domestic diva, I. Martha Stewart and Rachel Ray (annoying woman who my mother adores) have nothing to fear from me. In short, I flunked Girl101.

I hate to cook. (Disclaimer: this does not apply to Armenian food. I am an awesome Armenian cook.) I love to bake and am quite good at that, but just the thought of cooking can still send shudders of horror and anxiety through me. I've gotten better over the years and especially in these last two and half years that have found me out of the workplace. Dare I say it, I've gotten almost adventuresome. I've cooked steaks. I've tried recipes from cookbooks. I've even deviated from them and branched out on my own. Now, I face the final frontier: the chicken.

I have a "thing" about chickens. It's not really a phobia. It's more of an extreme dislike and lack of respect. I even have trouble eating chicken. It stems from my childhood and spending time in Fresno during the summers. When I was younger, Fresno was the "New Old Country" for Armenians on the West Coast (I think that distinction has moved to Glendale now). And 35 to 40 years ago it was not the urban sprawl in the Central Valley that it is today. There were still orchards and farms quite close to town.

We would go visit my Auntie Zaroohi on her farm. Sometimes we kids would get sent into the fields to pick grape leaves and the old ladies would can them to use later for dolma and yalanchi. Afterwards, we would sit on her porch, drink lemonade and eat pomegranates. Auntie kept chickens. Chickens are disgusting animals. They are dirty and mean with cannibalistic tendencies. Occasionally we had to gather eggs or feed them. I never liked walking through the pen, being that close to them. They would peck at your feet and argue and harass you. The sensation of chicken shit squishing between my bare toes as I walked is one that instills a sense of stomach churning disgust in me to this day.

I have never baked a chicken. Or roasted. Or whatever you call it when you stuff it with dried bread and lay it nicely in a pan with potatoes and carrots and onions around it. But I am going to tonight. I am obviously possessed of a trickster djinn who is going to be greatly amused by the spectacle, but I'm going to give it my best shot. I've got a Joy of Cooking and Mojo has his Betty Crocker Cookbook around here somewhere, and damn it if I'm not going to feed this nasty bird to my loved ones! Just see if I don't!

I'll let you know tomorrow how it goes. Wish me luck!

Thursday, August 09, 2007


My goodness, it's dusty in here! With cobwebs hanging from all the corners. No one has been here for a long time. That's going to have to change.

Let's do a little housekeeping and see what we can come up with.

Is anyone still out there?