Monthly Archives: October 2011

Bye Baby. See you ’round 6:30 pm

You know, I find that the longer I live, the less I tend to judge people.

This morning I sent my 2 year old son to daycare, and I feel GLAD about it. In fact, I’ve been looking forward to sending him away since Marshall gave me the approval last Tuesday. Of the 4 kids, his terrible two’s have been the worse by far…and they started 6 months ago.

He’s so unpredictable.

There are days when I don’t know if he’s going to wake up and wrap me in a long, loving embrace or try to choke me. It’s like living with a heroine addict who is going through perpetual withdrawal. Having said that, it is without shame that I also say that I love my son deeply – but I DO NOT enjoy his company.

When I was single and leading up into my first years as a mother, I used to look upon stay at home moms who routinely sent their kids to daycare with utter disdain.

What where they doing all day? They didn’t have a JOB, so what gave them the right to send their kids to daycare? 

I was offended!

Now I know the answer: They were spending those few precious hours while their heathen horde were away regathering their senses, and they had earned that “right” because either 1) they could afford it or 2) someone was going to die if the kids didn’t get out of the house.

Whenever possible, I choose life; and that is why Stone is sleeping on a cot or playing outside with other 2 year old ruffians today.

As I type this I am amazed by how guilty I do not feel. There are days when I lie awake at night wondering where my sweet baby boy went, and how and when did I give room for Deuce to inhabit his body. (“Deuce” is the name I’ve given to the spirit that has possessed him.) A little while ago I wrote with pride that Stone had begun to leave his fecal matter in the toilet. Deuce has come around and negated all that effort, and it is with great trepidation and a little bit of anger that I find myself dislodging a heaping brown mess from his bottom every day between the hours of 9 and 10 am.

And then there is the verbal abuse I have to endure. Deuce has problems with authority and instruction. When Deuce does things like hit other kids or crush graham crackers into the carpet, he balls up his left fist and points his right finger in retaliation to any sort of reprimand.

“You ehe uhuh eher Huuuuu!!! Okay?!?!?” he hollers.

I can just hear the ‘old mothers’ now.

I ain’t gon’ have no two year old talking to me like that. I’d beat the Black off ‘im.

Well there’s only so much beating you can do before it becomes abuse. And because he is my son, I don’t hit him. Because if I did, I would take it too far. There is a level of restraint that an adult has when the child they are facing down is not there own. Bill Cosby was only half-joking when he said “I brought you in this world and I can take you out.”

I have consoled myself with the conviction that the change will be good for him too. He’ll get to run around with some other boys, do some arts and crafts, and have the benefit of a male role model (one of the directors is a man). And while I can only afford to put him in 2 days a week, I am pleased with the knowledge that those 16 hours will be well spent focused on long neglected pursuits, such as this blog and other pleasures I’ve forgone while battling my son’s demon.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to turn the volume back up on the TV. Maury is about to tell Deyquan if he IS (or is NOT) the father!

Remarriage is not for me!

I love my husband and I love being married, but if anything should happen to or between my husband and I (Heaven forbid), I would never remarry. It would just be too hard.

The difficulty would not lie in reconnecting emotionally with someone – the difficulty would lie in relearning all the quirks of another man. And men are indeed quirky!

Marshall and I have been together for 15 years, and married for 6 of those. In those 15 years, you would think you need to learn or know about a person, but I can assure you that’s not the case. I am also convinced that I will still be as baffled by any number of his future oddities that he is sure to develop.

Take laundry, for instance. We have four laundry baskets in the house that find themselves in different locations depending on how far I want to lug them. There is a canvas one that perpetually sits by the entry of our bedroom door, however. This basket is also known as laundry limbo/purgatory. If Marshall lays his shorts/shirt/pants in this basket, that is my cue to leave them be. They are only slightly dirty and he will wear them later in the week…or in future weeks. If he puts his shirts on the floor just next to the laundry basket, these items need to be sent to the dry cleaners.

Then there’s the Bathroom Olympics, which I’ve whined and opined about on M.O.M. many times before. It’s taken me six whole years (!) but I now know that if I have to get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, I’m going to need to put the seat down. I’ve fallen bum first into the bottom of the toilet enough times to learn my lesson. A hard head makes a wet (and if he didn’t flush after last use – pissy) behind.

Ugh. And don’t get me started on the dishes. My husband has far more faith in the ability of our dishwasher than he ought. He therefore has not seen the error in leaving chicken bones, eggshells and half eaten broccoli in the sink after he’s consumed his dinner. I don’t want to seem ungrateful, because at least he has the kindness to bring his dishes to the sink, but scooping runny left over food from dripping porcelain is not my idea of a cheerful evening’s past time.

15 years later I am just getting accustomed to his style of driving. While speeding down the highway in his red CR-X on Springfield’s highways was delightful and exhilarating at 18, tailgating Atlanta’s enraged drivers in his Mercedes “just because” is terrifying. I used to badger and bicker with him about his driving. Now I have resigned myself to closing my eyes and waiting patiently for us to reach our destination. To his credit, he has backed off the bumpers of other motorists in the last year or so.

Why would I EVER want to go through this with another man? And to whit, why would a previously married man want to re-learn the quirks of another woman?  Yeah, yeah, I get that love is a powerful force, but at some point self-preservation and common sense would have to prevail! I would happily admit my faults – if I had any. A penchant for fart jokes and hanging wet panties in the shower to dry wouldn’t be considered “vices” would they? Surely that’d be easy for any man to overcome.

Married people: would you remarry if you lost your spouse? Assuming you guys are friends and actually like each other. All others need not answer. We know where you stand.

Open Letter to Idris Elba: Why Are You Stalking Me?

Heh. You this Idris Elba. You know know me eh? As for me, if I corner you, it doesn’t bode well for you kraaaa!! And you are half Ghanaian, so you know EXACTLY what I mean!

I was on my peaceful way to Zoo Atlanta on Monday, having a very dignified conversation with a 70 year old grandmother who joined the kids and I in the caravan. I would have you know that I am always careful concerning my speech with my elders. As the downtown horizon emerged on I-85 South, I saw you sitting there in a white T, legs akimbo, peddling bottled ice-water.

“Hot damn!”

“What did you say, dear?” queried my passenger.

“Oh…nothing, nothing! I saw something that startled me,” I replied sheepishly, gulping saliva to wet my suddenly parched throat, confused by my apparent need to pull over in search for Smart Water.

You see what you made me do? You made me curse in front of my elders! You too, why?

Oh, and your shenanigans don’t stop there. Yesterday I went to the library in search of a peaceful morning amongst books and manuscripts. As I took my seat and glanced around at the other patrons, I looked up and saw you again. This time you were on the cover of Essence magazine, staring at me with that your piercing gaze, wearing a charcoal grey suit – legs, again, akimbo. Why were you smiling at me like that? Heh? Soooo suggestively. Like you wanted me to leap onto the shoot with you and keep my body warmed on that chilly autumn day with that your wide chest.

Look here, Idris. I am a married woman, and I. Don’t. Like. That! Why would you want to tempt me with your muscles and brown eyes?? What you are doing is not good oooh.

Mstewww…

   I have begged you on several occasions to stop what you are doing and yet you still continue. I was watching Thor with my husband later that very saaame evening, and who do I see again? Huh? You, Idris, YOU: dressed up in some golden costume, wielding a mighty sword. Was the sword some sort of metaphor something else? I pondered it momentarily. Meanwhile, your British brogue was quite the turn on, but again, I was with my husband. And as for me, I am a faithful woman so I spent the next hour crossing and uncrossing my legs until whatever that foreign feeling I was feeling went away. I was barely able to vanquish your advances, but in the end I triumphed. How a man dressed up as a gay gladiator can still be so hot is beyond me.

Look, Idris: I think you’re wonderful, (burning, SMOKING) hot in fact …but this has to end. You can’t keep waiting for me on the freeway, or turning up expectantly at the library, or whispering in my ear whilst I’m in bed with my husband watching a movie. It’s just uncouth – almost barbaric.

Oh but how I would love for you to turn that barbarism on to me!

Eish! You see the thoughts you made me think again? I will NOT succumb to your hushed, covert, subliminal advances; I will not!

The truth is Idris, there are legions of women (and no doubt several men) who would welcome your attention and affections. I will have to respectfully request that you seek a new target and stalk someone else. I sadly, am unavailable. Perhaps in another lifetime, under different circumstances, we could have been lovers and perhaps raised a family. I would have happily borne 23 or 25 children, the fruit of years of our unbridled passion. Alas, it is not meant to be, Idris!

Take care, Idris. May love, life and gorgeousness continue to be with you.

Morosely,

Malaka

The Potty Dance

These wicked child rearing “experts”.

Once upon a time there was a child rearing expert who wrote an article on potty training. In that article he/she proposed that after the potty training parent was successful in getting the toddler (or in some cases – preschooler) to sit on the toilet and produce either  a liquid or semi-solid waste product, the onlooking parent must celebrate the event.

“Make it a jubilant event,” experts advise.

Some even suggest “rewarding your child with a special treat” every time he/she uses the toilet.

This proposal then became conventional wisdom, and was reproduced in other child-rearing articles and/or advice columns. Decades later, a nation of college educated adults find themselves in the throes of mock jubilation whenever Jr. takes a dump on his porcelain throne, conditioned to jig and jive at the arrival of any trickle, no matter how minuscule.

My son Stone turned 2 this May and because of the twin factors of his age and his ability to consume the same amount of food as a man 20 times his age, it has become imperative that he be potty trained ASAP. You eat like a grown man, you poop like a grown man.

Taking our cues from the “experts” my husband and I have begun having ‘poo-poo parties’ for Stone. Marshall kicked off the exercise by plucking his only son from the tub and placing him on the toilet when he observed him contracting his abdomen. Squeezing his own face and quivering his fists, he simulated for Stone what a man should look like as he’s enjoying his private log laying time.

“Eeeeeee!!!” Marshall grunted.

“Eeeeeeeeee!!!” Stone parroted.

A few seconds later he produced a conical nugget which plopped and buoyed about in the bowl like a brown rubber duckie. Marshall erupted into applause and high-fived Stone’s pudgy hand.

We are now (thankfully) at the stage where Stone comes to inform of his impending need to relive his bowls.

“Poo-poo poddee, Mommeee!” he announces proudly.

History has taught me that I must drop whatever it is I am doing, be it dinner, a blog, ingestion of a life-saving medicine or whatever to get him to the toilet. The results otherwise are traumatic. After he has completed the deed, he proudly announces that he’s “all done.” He then looks at me expectantly.

“Stonie poo-poo in the potty, poo-poo in the potteeee!” I sing jubilantly. If Marshall is standing by, he’ll join in the chorus, capping off the serenade with a triumphant “yaayyy!” Stone grins broadly. Had he known earlier that by merely defecating in this mysterious round bowl, he could have reduced a 300lbs man and his 240 lbs wife to jigging, jiving buffoons, he would have done so earlier!

After he’s been wiped by one of us – that being whoever hasn’t fled the sulfuric cloud hovering in the bathroom – he peers into the toilet, inspects his work and bids it farewell.

“G’bye Poo-poo! G’bye!!!” he shouts at the swirling mass.

I taught him that,” Marshall divulged pompously one day when I asked him why Stone way waving at the retreating crap-mass.

Yeah….That’s something I would have kept to myself. But then again, the image of my hulking husband teaching his son to salute his poop is one that has provided private moments of side splitting amusement.

  I’m sure this original ‘expert’ is sitting somewhere, perhaps behind his massive oak desk financed by the peddling of this quack advice to millions, chuckling and chortling to himself in delight, deriving sadistic self-pleasure in the knowledge that some erstwhile voguish woman is composing poop praise themes and ballads to encourage her potty-training child. At the end of the day, I suppose making 2 out of 3 people happy isn’t bad – those two being the adviser and the child. I just hope my son is ready to clap and sing in utter exuberance when the tables are turned and I’m the one in the diaper.

American Hunger and Homelessness

Marshall sent me to the grocery store two nights ago to buy a whole chicken for dinner – so I bought a whole raw chicken and set it on the counter.

“What is this?” he asked in confusion.

“It’s a chicken babe,” I explained. “You asked me to buy a whole chicken.”

He looked at me morosely.

“Why would you buy a raw chicken at seven o’clock at night?”

“What do you mean? You just cut it up and put it in the pan! It only takes a few minutes to cook.”

“No, Malaka. It’s going to take me an hour to cut and cook up all this chicken.”

He explained the process like I had the word “retard” emblazoned across my forehead. I bristled and turned indignant.

“Well…did you say to buy a cooked chicken?” I said in retort.

“No,” he replied. But I would have assumed you had the common sense to leave raw poultry at the store when the kids need to be fed, bathed and in bed in an hour his face said silently.

Defeated, I jumped back into the car to return the lifeless bird that I had purchased just 20 minutes before. I was suddenly aware how its cold, dead skin pressed against the tightly sealed clear plastic. It looked oddly unappealing in its uncooked state, and I was glad to return it with the prospect of getting a golden rotisserie baked replacement.

I placed the bird on the returns counter at Publix, explaining the reason for the needed exchange.

“I was supposed to get a cooked bird,” I said.

The cashier smiled quietly, issued my refund and slapped a bright orange sticker on the dead poultry.

DAMAGED

DO NOT RESHELVE

Huh?

“Are you going to throw that chicken away?” I asked.

“Yes,” she confirmed. “We throw all returned produce and meat away.”

  My friend Caroline had accompanied me to the store, and we looked at each other with surprise at the news. The bird had set me back $7.00, and I suddenly felt compelled to repurchase it. Perhaps I could give it to someone else? There is a hunger epidemic in America after all, and we even have an impoverished muppet on Sesame Street serving as an ambassador for the poor to highlight the problem. Why are we throwing away perfectly good food?

I battled with whether or not to buy back the chicken until common sense prevailed. For one thing, it was not in the budget. For another, it was not going to change Publix’s policy on discarding groceries. I left the bird to its less dignified fate…a date with the dumpster.

This event got me thinking about the major social issues plaguing this nation at the moment. The unemployment/underemployment rate has affected all areas of many individual’s lives, food and lodging being the primary two. The epidemic has hit really close to home for us, as we now have a good friend who was forced out of her apartment for the reasons named above and is essentially living on our sofa bed. When she told me she was “homeless”, I poo-pooed at the thought.

“Come and live with me!” I screeched excitedly. I relished the thought of having another adult in the house for reinforcement. The kids outnumber me 4-to-1 during the day until Marshall gets home. My enthusiasm for her co-lodging with me was entirely self-serving.

A day later, she arrived with some of her possessions in garbage bags. The rest was locked up in storage. As we found space in our two bedroom home for her belongings, I gave further thought to her words – or one word in particular: Homeless.

As a (hybrid) Ghanaian, the concept of homeless is very different than what Americans typically connote it to mean for me. In Ghana, if you’ve got parents, friends or any extended family with a house, you therefore also ‘have’ a house by association. The only truly ‘homeless’ in our ranks are the mad men who roam the streets, and their faculties are so shattered that they wouldn’t know the difference either way.

Sometimes I read the news and catch glimpses of tales of parents living in tent cities while their children dwell in brick and mortar homes. Sometimes I hear of whole families drifting from homeless shelter to homeless shelter trying to wait out the financial storm they’ve suddenly found themselves in. Do these people not have friends or loved ones, I wonder? Do they not have strong enough relationships with anyone who would happily take them in? I don’t see how this can be in AMERICA.

And it shouldn’t be.

This is indeed a land of plenty. In every major city in this country, there are whole  blocks of abandoned homes that could be used for temporary housing if anyone could be bothered to tackle the red tape and bureaucracy needed to facilitate that transition. But that’s the problem isn’t it? No one really wants to be bothered. Its a truly thankless undertaking, and both the private and government sector would frustrate any such good Samaritan   or social entrepreneur at every turn. Add to that, we are a nation that prides itself on being built on individuals pulling themselves up by their own boot straps, and daggonit, if you DON’T happen to own a pair of boots, you better find a calf, skin it, tan it and and learn how to make your own boots! What would you look like suckling at the teat of someone else’s effort? If you want to live in a house, you need to wait until you can afford one yourself.

I believe in the American work ethic that drives this boot strap philosophy; however I also believe that we should neither be dumping fresh meat nor our loved ones in the midst of this crisis. Compassion much, anyone?

Ford Flex – The Obsession

As much time as I spend thinking about the Ford Flex, I was surprised to look through my titles and discover that I have NEVER (ever?) written about the Flex! Let me just tell you:

I love that car.

I test drove one in May and was immediately smitten. It was love at first acceleration. What I love most about the Flex is that it’s extremely versatile, which translates into an inability to pass judgment on the driver by the body of the vehicle. For instance, when I see an Odyssey, or a Voyager, or a Caravan, I immediately can assume that the person sitting behind the wheel is a woman between the ages of 32-48, has 3.4 kids, is carting around little Zip Lock baggies of Cheerios and is herself eating (and therefore smelling like) cottage cheese. I’m generally right 98.8% of the time. I can’t account for the other 1.2%. With the Flex on the other hand, either a hot 20-something bachelor OR the afore mentioned cottage-cheese-fragranced woman could emerge from the vehicle. You never can tell. The car is just that enigmatic.

Bearing my Flex Feelings in mind, I wrote to the company to share my appreciation…which some have dubbed an “obsession”. I can hardly see how that’s possible, since I haven’t tattooed the word “flex” across my left butt cheek (yet). I also decided to follow Ford Motor Company on Twitter. To my delight, a playful banter between me and some person with the moniker “SA” ensued. I informed them that I was so in love with the Flex that I would break dance for a chance to drive one for a year. Now, there are two things one must know in regards to this offer 1) I don’t dance, let alone break dance. 2) I have about as much rhythm as beheaded chicken. This offer was sincere and costly one indeed.

So impressed was Customer Service with my smooth moves that they insisted that I go test drive a Flex.

 Contact the Marketing Dept at 800.334.4375 to find out about available incentives & sched a test drive… said their tweet. They’ll have great info available for you. Meanwhile, keep #breakin! :) ^SA

Giddy with anticipation, I quickly dialed the number and set up the appointment with a really friendly rep for October 10th at 11 am. It pretty much went down hill from there. I don’t want to go into the details, but you know that feeling that you get when you walk into a fancy establishment, like Nieman Marcus, clothed in nothing better then some dusty dungarees and mismatched flip flops? The glares of disdain upon your arrival at the door are piercing enough to cause you wince and flee in pain. That essentially sums up today’s experience. Keep in mind, I went the extra mile made sure that I looked very nice today for my impending Flex spin. I even shaved my legs…which I generally don’t do in the Fall. The contempt, therefore, was unwarranted in light that I was sporting glistening – and recently shorn – limbs.

To add insult to being ignored (I didn’t have the opportunity to receive injury because I was so completely disregarded as a customer), Liya fell and busted her lip on the showroom floor! Caroline had accompanied me, and as she gathered my wailing (and profusely bleeding) one year old, the sales men and the receptionist silently shooed us out with dismissive glances.  The GSM that we were supposed to have met had run off to Race Track to buy a snack – we were told – and suddenly materialized as we were packing the kids into the car.

“When can you reschedule?” he asked expectantly.

How about half past probably never? I thought as I met his gaze.

“I’ll see if I can make time this afternoon,” I replied instead. It wasn’t his fault his co-workers were so frosty and unwelcoming.

*Sigh*. :( I’m still a Flex Fan, but I’ll probably be doing my shopping from CarMax, the only place I seem to be able to get friendly service and successfully test drive. Hmmmmm…I wonder if they’d like me to break dance for them as well?

What Would Laila Do?

So Misty Harris has thrown her fonky little Weight Off Challenge in my face, which I have heartily accepted. The goal is to lose 15 lbs by Christmas. As I said before, win or lose, I am never one ot back off of a challenge.

What Misty DOESN’T know, is that prior to her little fonky challenge, I had already been on a track to fitness and am now 9 lbs lighter than I was a month ago. (Take THAT Merrie Ol’ England!) Since this is a new lifestyle change for me, my goal is bigger than 15 lbs. In order to get to my goal weight and size, I need to loose 80-100 lbs. 15 lbs is a drop in my goal bucket!

 I discovered only late last night that Laila Ali has the body I want, and in order for me to go get it, I have begun to ask myself “What Would Laila Do?”. This morning before I dashed out of the house to drop the kids off to school, I considered my breakfast and asked myself if Laila would eat this? I wolfed down a bowl of Fiber One cereal. Two hours later, I was rewarded with a massive dump that left me at least 16 oz lighter. See? Already things are looking up. I’m certain that Laila starts her day with a good healthy poo too.

Here’s something that Misty doesn’t know (although she will once I hit the ‘publish’ button). I’ve already bought her Grand Prize gift. She can have it. I may or may not loose the 15 lbs by Christmas, but it doesn’t matter because my goal doesn’t stop there. My hot bod rests much further along than that!

So yeah Misty, here’s your box of chocolate. May every sugary bite go to your doughy thighs!

All the same Readers, if you’re interested there is a Mom v Mom for Fitness page on Facebook where you can track the madness.I love the picture she chose.  I’m the tiger cub leaping on her inferior prey, although I’m sure Misty would like to claim otherwise.