Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the month “August, 2016”

2011, 2016: Magic


August 12th, 6:30 pm: Mac and I stood at the altar in a ballroom decorated by a dear friend. My best friend AJ and our family friend Greg were the co-officiants in our secular wedding. Robin was my maid of honor, Mac’s dad stood up with him. We had written our own vows to each other. Mac was feeling real pressure since the wedding guests were about 75% Imes or Imes-adjacent people and he thought there may be a quiz afterwards. I’m not sure why a raucous, erudite, never-ending wave of the Clan Imes would be overwhelming for someone who identifies his family as having about 9 people. Nine Canadian people, which when you factor in their general politeness and concern for etiquette averages out to 3.7 Americans, but you won’t notice them because that’s an imposition.

My gown was an elaborately tucked ivory sweetheart neckline. I was allergic to my bouquet. Our song was Leonard Cohen’s “Dance Me to the End of Love.” My aunts helped cut the cake. Our moms had great dresses. Our dads and Robin gave terrific toasts.

On the whole, magic.


My folks took El Niño (a favorite nickname for baby) last night. Mac and I had dinner and made a determined effort to not talk about our kid, and we did beautifully. After we picked him up the next day, our 5th anniversary was going to be watching tons and tons of sports and hanging out with Baby. We love the Olympics. Here’s the play-by-play:


Hey, kiddo! See the Olympics? What’s that smell?

Change diaper.

Did we feed him?

I dunno.

Me either.

Watch Olympics.

Did we ever feed him?

I dunno.




Baby wanted to wave Canadian flag for soccer. Wave, Baby, Wave! He wants to wear a plastic bag on his head while he does it. Great hat, baby! Oh. Except not. No, plastic bags are not toys. TANTRUM. Baby threw Mac’s glasses in anger. “No throwing eyeglasses” is a VERY big rule in the Imes Borden household of late. Baby got a one minute time out, which he understands. Which is great. Except it exposes a haunting gap in Imes Borden parenting knowledge: We have no idea who taught him “time out.” We’re guessing he’s watching the older kids at daycare? In his age group I think they usually re-direct. My parents discovered he knows time out, but they didn’t teach him, either. If he’s had a Time Out Setting all along, that most certainly should have been divulged by the maternity nurses.

So. He’s being forced to stand by the vacuum cleaner at the end of the hall, a 60-second time out. He cried. Mac and I had to strategically retreat to the kitchen to not let Baby know this is at least 10 times harder on me than him, and his little wails are cute, and last time I had to leave because I was going to laugh at him, he’s so damned adorable in time out.

Then he comes out, where we immediately revert to “Time served, clean slate, let’s have fun again!” OLYMPICS! Good plan. Right up until Mac needs to go downstairs and use the facilities for a bit. So here I am, I have to keep Baby occupied, it’s not safe to leave him in the living room alone or he’ll mess up paused Olympics even if I have the remote. Mac says that’s not possible. Oh, but it is. It is. IT IS. HOW? If I knew how I wouldn’t let him do it and I don’t care if you can’t see how because he’s GODDAMN HARRY POTTER I DON’T KNOW HOW HE JUST DOES…now I also need the bathroom. This is how we get to the weirdest part of my day.

“HEY! You’ve been so good, why don’t you come in and help mommy go potty?”

I am not making this up.

He loves it when I tell him he’s being such a good boy, that yes, he can come in and help me go potty. (Let’s talk about how weird that thought is to ME another time). This is a non-stop thrill ride as far as my son is concerned. Listen to his little brain:

This is the part where mommy closes the door! Look how special I am, I’m on THIS SIDE of the door! Then, mommy does a weird thing about pulling her pants down, and sits, and her squishy tummy fat is all bunched up. I’ll poke my finger into her belly button! Everybody likes belly pokes! Mommy’s had so many surgical implements pass through that belly button it has a knot of scar tissue behind it the size of a golf ball; she will love it so much if I poke extra hard, to let her know I remember! It’s also cool to poke all the other scars. Mommy would never thank me ironically for that! What ar– Mommy there’s liquid coming into the bowl you’re sitting on and 


This is an actual quote. The first time my son heard urine his eyes grew enormous and in a reverential whisper he said “whoa.” He knows when that stops mommy does whatever the weird paper thing is, and always wants to close the lid before flushing, so in his mind, “Really I’m a much better helper if I close it while she’s still on it! I’ll hit mommy in the back with the lid! I am saving Mommy so much time!”

And now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for…the Mystery Handle of Amazement. It sends things to another dimension. You can SEE Baby’s mind burning rubber it’s going so fast: Mommy we could put so many things in here! Everything we never wanna see again like a ton of Kleenex, a stuffed owl, my crayons, shoes, and everything I’m supposed to eat I don’t like which is now every food on the planet except plain, starchy pasta! What about the cat? Mommy would love it so much if I gave the cat a bath in here!”

After that, the last Big Treat of the night was trying to watch the Olympics, which can be summed up thusly: Katie Ledecky and Michael Phelps make a lot of money for NBC, and we are viciously, irrevocably old and out of shape.


Did we put the baby to bed?

I dunno.



This ends in MOMA or the Hague.

The slippery slope; war on my walls, or untapped genius?

The Baby has discovered crayons. I’m using “discovered” loosely here. His father, about whom I have many good thing to say, was a complete and total goober and gave our son crayons. Many, multiple crayons. First, he gave him skinny crayons (should be noted, these were labeled “washable”) then when too many of those broke, he got Baby those big, fat fuckers that come in Ground into the Rug Red, All Over Oscar Orange, Mom Will Yell-ow,  Baseboard Black and my favorite, THESE DON’T SAY “WASHABLE” WHITE: NOW CUSTOMIZED TO FIT THE CREVICES OF YOUR HARDWOOD FLOOR!

To be fair, Mac provided a really nice tablet of paper. But the tablet is like, 9 x 12? Our house is many, many, many 9 x 12 spaces. That are at his eye level. His meaning Baby’s. Mac was a well-intentioned goober but his line of sight remains unassailable. For the moment.

So, how long do you think it’s going to take for the average toddler to run off the reservation with this? I can tell he’s doing it, because every morning there are more scraggly little crayon marks running across my white hallway doors. They are light (Baby has yet to discover the satisfaction of putting all your weight behind one of these suckers) and they run exactly horizontal across each door as though he’s testing to see what happens if he runs along and scrawls in his CLACZ (Chubby Little Arm Comfort Zone). I was wondering if he made a few marks every day, or made several all at once while Mac was doing something else. Sunday night at 4:30 am, I erased all the marks using a Brand Name Serious Scrubby Thing.

Oh. Why 4:30 in the morning?

I have bipolar disorder, chronic pain, and a toddler. If 4:30 in the morning is when my head, my abs and my ass can get it all together long enough to scrub walls, then that’s when it happens.

The marks were there when I woke up at noon, 11:009:00, 8:15, meaning Baby is running amok, probably while Mac does something inconsequential like hygiene. This is potentially very bad. Or good. Is it the call of the wild? The need to be a bad boy? Tag his territory? Mark up the walls that won’t hold me in forever, mom? I have declared war on painted surfaces because I prefer my doors like I prefer my truth: unvarnished, unpredictable, and filled with messy complications WHICH YOU’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND BECAUSE YOU’RE LIKE 167 YEARS OLD, MOM.

Or is it “My colors need to be free! This is an expression of angst that I am kept down by your class system, your race system, your assumption that because I have chubby little arms I cannot soar like the eagle? WHICH YOU’LL NEVER UNDERSTAND BECAUSE YOU’RE LIKE 167 YEARS OLD, MOM.” If it’s this one, I’ll quit erasing them. That sounds like someday it could add value to a 2 bed, 2 bath split-level on the Side of the Tracks that Realtors Call ‘America is Trackless.'”

In the meantime, let’s figure out the math on what he’s using to mark up the walls. There were 16 in the first box, 8 in the second. He broke each Washable crayon into at least 3 pieces, making a box of 16 now, functionally, a box of 48 and counting. I never made it to getting a hold on most of those. These pieces were “cleaned up” systematically by letting Baby throw some of them through the holes in the gate at the top of the stairs. At most, it makes a tiny wax dot on each stair where it lands. I can live with dots. I’m hip with that. I like Georges Seurat as much as the next person who understands that joke. However, triage of the Throw-Zone yielded about 13 pieces, and I have 4 inexplicably whole smaller crayons, meaning that (in theory) 25 pieces of crayon are out of commission in this war on my walls, but 23 remain in enemy hands and we have 8 Big Boys yet to come. They’ll roll out like a Panzer division any day now. Or, the cat got into the box and batted them under the TV. He loves that.

We must understand this is a war of attrition. Because the bigger crayons are not unbreakable. And how many pieces might each bigger crayon yield? Also, where are the rest of the small ones?

How long do I have before he figures out the pens, pencils, colored pencils, hi-liters, Magic Markers, Charmed Markers, Muggle Markers, artistic charcoal and spray paint? How do I combat this? I can’t guarantee the 4:30 am Maginot Line Against Markers every night year in, year out, until he’s old enough forget drawing with markers and tries to huff the damn things.

Meeeeeeh…ok. I think I surrender. There are many things worse than my kid drawing on the walls with a few art supplies. He could hate art. He could be afraid to try new things.

He could take every bucket of leftover paint, every bottle of nail polish, every permanent marker in the house and paint a giant mural over his closet that stands for years and many people that come into our lives write on, draw on, sign… spending half a decade documenting the teenage years of an artistic but floundering girl and her intrepid younger sister.

As far as I know the Hague let me slide on that one.


If the door is closed, God opens a window. That you can’t reach.

Attention! Due to extenuating circumstances, the following MUST be kept closed to minimize the damage that can be done to, or done by, our toddler:

  1. Our bedroom door. Immediately as baby enters there are three shelves within his reach. Two of them are decorative corner units (warning! Sap alert!) Mac installed to my sight line for when I can’t sit up. They hold some of the things I find beautiful or special that remind me of traveling. Among other things it has a Russian lacquered bowl, a matrushka my nephew is quite fond of (don’t know why this particular thing, but I’m happy to share) and a couple of jewelery boxes. There’s also very pointy wooden Buddha from Thailand, a family picture from 15 years ago and the first dollar I ever earned as a published author. My son loves the little bowl, but it’s only a matter of time before he pokes out somebody’s eye with Pointy Thai Buddha and that’s not a level of metaphysical introspection I have time for.
  2. His bedroom. Eddie has learned pens and markers leave behind pretty, pretty colors. My husband keeps his work clothing in Eddie’s closet right now as Eddie’s sartorial needs are limited to “big spaghetti sauce stain but it’s technically clean vs. stainless, too small but everybody loves baby tummies.” Eddie wants to watch highlighters (we own 876, see also: professor) make pretty colors on Daddy’s dress shirts. The shirts for which Mac meticulously shops in higher-end, professional wear boutiques that tailor every piece as needed for him. The higher quality the fabric, the better they hold highlighter.
  3. Under the sink. Sure, we have the childproof magnetic locks and all that, but you have to figure in baby’s need to open the left cabinet. Why? It holds the cat treats. It is a guarantee Oscar will come rushing. I look under the sink, I see under a sink with some sponges I should give up already, and the feather duster next to cat supplies.gar kisses Eddie looks under the sink… and sees an opportunity to wield untold power over the cat. It’s all he ever wanted. Eddie screams “Gar! Gar! Whoa…Gar!” (Our new word is “whoa” and it gets used 89 times a day, plus whatever he says at daycare). My son follows his bliss. And then face plants himself into the soft, furry underbelly of the bliss.
  4. The bathroom. He saw the toilet flush once and got so stoked the water was vanishing he stuck his hand in there to feel it swirling away. This wasn’t a test flush, by the way. This was a fully operational toilet scenario, folks.
  5. The dishwasher. To be fair, Daddy loves it when Baby helps by getting out spoons and giving them to Daddy. So, the more engaged Baby is, the more Daddy will love this to the point of freaking the hell out, right? Baby is thinking “When did it become “wrong” to crawl up onto the door so I could find out how the green powder in the little rectangle-shaped dispenser tastes?”
  6. The stairway gate. The slots of the gate. Throwing toy, after toy, after toy, a green bean, the diaper he just wiggled out of (oh yeah, true story) and more toys..we’re learning so much about the sound of plastic on wood, wood on wood, crayon on wood, and, in its most colorful iteration, Daddy on baby metal fork at 2 am.
  7. The liquor cabinet so he can’t root around in there before bedtime.
    1. I should also make sure Baby doesn’t do that
  8. The entertainment system because good dowels gave their lives so that others might be safe. Never Forget.

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