Due to Extenuating Circumstances

Adventures in Unplanned Parenthood

Archive for the tag “#scotch”

The Scream

I don’t know what’s happened. This was sudden, it was unexpected, it’s completely off-the-charts, not to mention off of the timeline we thought we were following.

Baby is 16 months, and, I say this with love, he has become a total jerk.

Seriously! Not even two weeks ago we had a sunny little boy, who loved to pet the cat, take long naps, and have Daddy throw him the air while Mommy shouted “wheeeeee!” and tried to take pictures. Not that long ago he loved new food, scooting around and meeting people. It was the perfect time to enroll him in his new daycare. Uh, sorry. Learning Center…and they do insist that a child my son’s age is better off at a Learning Center, capital L and Capital C.  Then one day, the kid Mac brought home from the daycare Learning Center was, well, an asshole!

He shouts like the world is ending when you lay him down for a diaper change. He DOES NOT DO baby food anymore, even his old favorites like turkey and rice. Feeding him is not happening. Baby feeds himself or baby won’t be eating today, thanks. When he’s done, he violently pushes away or drops it all on the floor. If he doesn’t like what you gave him, floor. Less than two weeks ago I had the world’s least fussy eater! Where did THAT KID go?

Navigating entertainment is a nightmare. Wrong episode of The Wiggles? Lock Mommy in the Tower of London. At this very second, I’m listening to the baby scream a high-pitched whine because Daddy only read the football book twice, not three times. It’s almost comical when he wants to look out the living room window but I’m the only one home. I can’t hold him up there to see out well, but he can look at all the same stuff if I open his nursery blinds and he can stand in his crib. But that’s not the window he wants, Mommy, you incompetent piece of trash.

Again, I can hear him screaming at Mac right now. This time it’s because he can’t have a taste of whatever Mac is drinking; Glenfiddich, if Mac’s smart.

The Baby found a wooden rod that’s held to play a bodhran, a traditional Irish drum. Baby screamed for 20 minutes when he was not allowed to use the cat as a drum.

He kicks violently if he wants to do something dangerous, like fall down a flight of stairs, and you stop him.

He dropped our Roku remote in a glass of ice water.

He screams incessantly when put down for a nap, even if he is so tired he has drooped his little head to lay down on the living room rug.

Baby damned near broke Mac’s nose hurling himself at Daddy during a temper tantrum, then threw ANOTHER tantrum that while Daddy assessed the damage Baby wasn’t allowed to rip out the hearing aids Daddy desperately needs to avoid being dependent on mime and ASL.

He’s angry we won’t let him inhale and draw things with Sharpies. He screams when he throws something on the ground, it gets left there to discourage that, so he throws more at it in a misguided attempt to make things better.

Baby is angry The Wiggles only sent 78 episodes to the US with Simon in them. He freaks the hell out over Simon. If anybody happens to know Simon of the Wiggles, please tell him he’s welcome to come sleep with me, or Mac, or both of us if that’s his thing, if he will only keep my kid occupied until Baby’s 3rd birthday.

Is it ethical to give a 16 month old a little Benedryl to make him sleep? I’m asking for a friend.

Finally…where did my baby go? The little bundle who shook his whole body with glee when he heard the straps of my velcro; the sound that always meant Mommy’s here, and she’s going to pick you up and we’ll have great adventures together. Is he coming back? Even in a bigger format, I miss the baby who loved his father, his Oscar (“ar! Gar!” he’d squeal, gleefully sinking his face into the cat’s soft belly). PLEASE bring him back. Mac and I can only stand a baby behaving exactly as we must have for a little while longer.

Then it’s Glenfiddich and Benedryl time. For us.

Simon’s got the baby.

Sydney Syndrome

Parents, especially you stay at home parents, today we’re going to be talking about a delicate subject that may be difficult for you to face. Just remember: lots of us are triggered by this, we are NOT alone, and there’s nothing to be ashamed of. I am speaking, of course, of Sydney Syndrome. It’s a pervasive and psychologically damaging condition in which a parent has been forced to hear songs by the Australian group “The Wiggles” so many times that you begin to feel like you enjoy them, or maybe even asked to hear them.

Common things we hear when we talk about The Wiggles are phrases like “It was just supposed to kill ten minutes so I could take a shower!” or “The Australian accents fooled me, I thought they must be less potent than American brand children shows!” The worst cases bring out difficult to express pain and anguish, and so they are disguised as simple banter. Come on now, do you think other adults ask themselves if Lachey is pretty cute (answer: he is) or if Anthony is trying a little to hard to look under 50? (Answer: he is). The very worst cases are triggered by seeing yellow bows. Parents who have violent reactions to yellow bows should be led to a safe place, given an adult beverage, and then we recommend at least three hours of interactions with adults who won’t trigger you. Your best bet is to go drinking with friends who don’t have children. They have no idea what you mean by “The Big Red Car” or “Dorothy the Dinosaur” and you have no idea who “Florence and the Machine” are. It’s mutually beneficial and your friends without children will also remind you that it was really, really fun to think of yourself as the center of the universe for a few decades.

If you’re trapped in a situation where there is no choice, here are things you can do to lessen the stress of Wiggle-Watching:

  • Realize that in 2015 Emma and Lachey got engaged, and that was after two years of secret dating. Just think of all the kinky sex they’ve had on that set. Imagine how disgusting it could be to shag on the Wags the Dog costume, or in the back of the BRC.
  • Ask yourself if Anthony is “straight” or if he falls more “on a continuum of hetero to homosexuality” as the kids say these days.
  • Thank God above when you get an episode with Lou Diamond Phillips in it. Lou, I can’t think of ANY crime you could commit not involving a Pope-related sex toy that would result in punishment like this, but….whatever you did, thanks. You’re bringing some much needed sex appeal to “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” in my living room at 3:00 in the afternoon.
  • Simon, for the love of GOD, man…the third one is ALWAYS the one where you didn’t say “Simon Says.” Mix it up, sweetie. Even the five year olds with their shoes on the wrong feet and tater tots in their pockets have caught on.
  • How much of a cash cow is Emma, really? Think about it. They gave her her own little spin off, each lasting three minutes where she does a cute dance. They sell her bows. They sell her tutu. She is the lead singer in about half their songs. I hope she has a percentage of this because she’s going to be the next Oprah. Lachey’s fine for now, but I’d look for her to be moving up to your Chris Hemsworths, your Alex O’Loughlins, your Sam Worthingtons. Give it another 3 years before she wants to “try other things, not get typecast,” on the West End by 2019, first summer blockbuster the year after that, In Esquire’s “100 Hottest Leading Ladies” (but about #89) that fall, and surprise engagement to someone who had been totally off the radar but it was love at first sight by 2021. I hate to jump the gun, but I’ll call it right now, it’s James Franco.
  • Above all else, when you find yourself humming their songs at 7 at night and you’re the only one home, remember that you didn’t ask for this, the Wiggles are something that happened TO you. You don’t need to feel bad, and humming their songs is a natural sign you’ve taken to your captivity in the Wiggle House as well as any adult can.
  • Whatever else you do, remember that I, Sarah, am telling you as a grown up you can trust that it’s OK to live your life. You DON’T need to wait for Simon to say so. But if you do…pause it before that third one or you’re gonna be standing in your living room like a real asshat for the next day and a half until someone comes and turns off the TV.
  • We’re all in this together. Stay safe, and have a bow-tiful day.
    • Oh fuck you, Emma.


With the voting climate as it is right now, it seemed like a good time to bring forth some good old-fashioned flag-waving, true blue sacrifice for our country. I probably shouldn’t be telling all of you this. If I looked through the paperwork we signed I’m sure the government told me to keep this private, national security, lives at stake, something something no, we don’t get what’s up with Trump’s hair either, but seriously this is a secret. But, as a proud mama, I have to brag just a little. My son is going to be hired by our Army as a WMD: a Whippersnapper of Mass Distraction.

He’ll be put in key diplomatic strategy meetings, and then he’ll do what he does right now, 24/7. He’ll pull himself up on furniture then scream because he can’t get down. He’ll be sitting and watching the Wiggles and if one of them is wearing a costume he doesn’t like he’ll scream for hours. Doesn’t like the pants Daddy put him in? Scream. Daddy runs to the bathroom? Scream! Mommy took his empty Cheerios bowl? Double scream, because now mommy is a jerkface AND there’s no Cheerios. Mommy comes back with more Cheerios? This is a time for earth-shattering, top-level screaming because if Mommy had a clue she would have saved the inevitable heartbreak and brought the box to the bowl, not the other way around.

He gets himself turned around in his crib and screams. We put him on his back, tucked in, just like he likes but then we leave again; screaming. He rolls over and back again–Doppler effect screaming! Would you care to guess what happens when he wants yogurt but with CINNAMON, dammit, not FRUIT? Well, ordinarily fruit is delicious and he would like it. But now right now, get cinnamon because BABY ANGRY. Feel the need to SCREAM. YOU WON’T LIKE ME WHEN I’M SCREAMY. Sometimes I hear my baby but I see this:



I’d ask my friends if this is normal, but none of them with kids can hear anymore. I have a friend with three boys that gave up and decided to use baby sign language. Not for her kids, they talk just fine. She and her husband use it because their hearing is never coming back. Mac and I seek television programs we’ll enjoy that aren’t in English because then the subtitles roll merrily along and all we need to do is keep the “I’m mad because I’m mad” screams from escalating to “I might actually have a problem here” screams.

I reckon Baby could be deployed to lots of countries that value silence and decorum. See, in Brazil, I’d bet ten minutes of wiggling and dancing while you scream isn’t inappropriate, it’s part of the health plan to keep people sane and good-natured. But let’s pull this out at a meeting calling for high and strict levels of decorum. Your Russians, your Japanese, your Liechtensteiners (who are solemn because nobody ever remembers to spell their country correctly), imagine taking in this adorable child, who is renowned for his cuteness and lovability,  and letting him scream every time one of the diplomats wants to make a point. We can cut summits down to two hours, and half of that is drinking coffee and waiting for staff to put on The Wiggles again so the weapon can be diffused and sent to his nap with Norman the blue elephant and his favorite blankie.

I don’t even accept this is a phase anymore. He’s just going to scream, often, randomly, at unbelievable decibel levels every day until the day Mac and I have both gone on to our great reward. That reward will be sound cancelling headphones and a thanks from the US government for asking what we could do for this country, and answering President Kennedy’s call with the loudest human being ever created.

Don’t worry! You can thank us for our patriotism, too. In writing, please.


Object Permanence is a Bitch

For several months I was amused by Baby’s lack of understanding that things don’t disappear forever when they leave our sight. True, you can debate the esoteric nature of the concept; philosophers among us would argue we can’t prove they do, we do, or anything does. What I do know is if Mac disappears into the realm of nonexistence every time he goes downstairs, then I’d really like to know what unseen universal force is leaving copies of Whisky Advocate around and flushing the toilet 4 times an hour.

Back to the baby. At first it was funny that the baby thought everything disappears. Ha ha! Look at the baby, he’s such a noob! Then we went through our alarming Separation Anxiety phase, which is still in effect but only with Mac. Now, with the revelation of the entertainment center, a new and dangerous phase is upon us: Object Permanence.

Baby clearly demonstrated it for the first time when he went back to see why he couldn’t make the pretty doors slide now that they are padlocked (yes, actually padlocked) shut. He knew there should be only a dowel, but it’s gone (I keep it in the garage as a powerful reminder that underestimating my offspring could one day cost lives. My life if he ruins our only functioning TV, his life if he tries to open the liquor cabinet and pour out daddy’s scotch). Just a few minutes after the dowel fiasco, I saw him try to stick a finger in a socket. Wackiness ensued:

Put the childproof cover on it. He still wants the socket. Pull the drapes over it. Still wants the socket. Move an end table in front of it. Tries to climb through the end table to reach the socket. Bring him a toy. Tries to stick toy through end table, under curtains and into socket.

What is your deal with this socket, son? As Mac and I race to cover all of the other sockets, it hits me. He remembered where the socket was. And just like that, I can no longer count on making things “disappear”  by removing them. I hadn’t eliminated our pre-baby household death traps, only consolidated them. Oh my god, I have an entire house of things I disappeared so he wouldn’t play with them. The basement is a graveyard of stuff I didn’t want him to touch so I made it go away. I don’t mean a few Ming vases, I mean I disappeared HUNDREDS of things I couldn’t bother to childproof. I’m the goddamn Chilean dictator of household detritus.

For a hot minute it seemed that childproofing would be a pain, but at least we could count on him understanding that things exist even when we can’t see them. However, it turns out my child has SOPD, Selective Object Permanence Disorder. He remembers some things with perfect clarity. He knows where the sockets are, how to pull on the cords Mommy keeps trying to hide/secure, where the cat left tasty wads of hair that obviously need to be sucked on. What he doesn’t remember, and I try not to take this personally, is that Mac doesn’t disappear forever when he goes downstairs.

I’m not kidding. This isn’t something that mildly annoys our child. Every time, and I mean EVERY TIME Mac leaves the room or walks towards the stairs our child screams the scream of the damned. How can he have such specific separation anxiety? I can be HOLDING him and he still screams like he’s been abandoned to the wolves. That kid isn’t just mad dad is gone, he’s grieving that his beloved father is lost forever and ever. Who can blame him? Mommy moved tons of shiny and sharp things down there and they never came back.

So, concerned for the baby’s mental health (and our eardrums) Mac started running the Third Rate Rapper Sequence I spew all day. That nonstop update of each achievement, intent, thought, or action that parents deliver in the third person. “Daddy needs to answer a work email! Daddy is coming back in a second! Can you hear me? Daddy is walking down the stairs AND I STILL EXIST!!

Of course that doesn’t work, so now he takes the baby with him and the baby sits in the office/small appliance/exercise equipment graveyard we call the basement. Mac puts him in a playpen and then tries to get something done. This should work, because Mac has proven we can go downstairs and not cease to be. But the basement has a bathroom. How does the baby know the bathroom is the same as the basement? He doesn’t. Once you close the bathroom door then you’ve disappeared again. He screams again, mourning with all his tiny, broken heart. So Mac is delivering an even more personal TRRS with gems like “Daddy is RIGHT HERE! You’re not even ten feet away from me! Daddy HAS to keep the bathroom door closed or if the neighbors look through the screen door they can see right inside the house to where Daddy is pooping and that would make Daddy SAD.”

I know. I know the next step. We’ll only be able to prove we don’t disappear in the bathroom if he’s in there with us. But I can’t grasp why he remembers the socket still exists in the bathroom but we don’t. It’s a metaphysical, religious, philosophical conundrum. Perhaps the only way to ensure he remembers Mac exists is to try to childproof him. Then we KNOW the baby will never forget he’s there.

A shameful confession in selfish co-parenting

That first stage of parenting settled in and we were aware we had to look out for Baby’s every little need. I worried someone had finally given me my big chance and I was going to screw up the most perfect thing I had ever been given. I would only use bottled water for the formula since I had no idea if hotel sink water is clean. The sink is right next to the toilet, for god’s sake. I worried about SIDS. I worried he missed the sound of his birth mom. My overarching worry was that I’d hurt him. He’d fall when I bathed him. He’d choke. I’d drop him or cut him. At one point I remember thinking “what if I rip out his umbilical cord by mistake and he bleeds and it won’t stop?”

“Fear of horrendous mothering failure” would be the basic message, here.

At this point we have been living in the casino hotel for about two weeks. We have a good routine, if possible at that stage. Diaper station happens on the coffee bar, laptop is on the desk, minifridge stocked with grocery basics to avoid eating out every meal. The pantry (top shelf of the coffee bar) is where we store food. Eddie’s essentials: formula. Sarah’s essentials: chocolate and granola bars. Husband Mac’s essentials: Pop Tarts and scotch. Mac, actually of Scottish ancestry, drinks nice scotch to celebrate big life moments . He will only eat Pop Tarts if we are on a trip out of town. At the intersection of “having a son” and “we’re in a hotel” is my husband, having Pop Tarts and a 14 year old single malt.

The days went by in a pleasant haze of staring the baby and accepting the congratulations of our friends and family as our adoption was made public. We got cards, our students shared wonderful stories of how they cried when they saw the news on Facebook. Mac’s auntie started knitting a sweater for the baby. My in-laws Skyped with the three of us and never, not once, looked at their son or myself. They said, quite rightly, that he was a very beautiful baby and looked quite intellectually advanced for his age, too.

Then one morning I went to pick up the baby and discovered he had been mauled by Wolverine. My first thought was that this meant Hugh Jackman had been in my hotel room in the middle of the night and I’d missed it. That would really suck because like most women my ultimate fantasy is to have one night with Hugh in a hotel room. In my fantasy he’s arranging a a sitdown with his agent so I can sign a seven year deal to write as well as appear onscreen. I assume yours is much the same.

But what the hell happened to my child’s face? It was Death by a Thousand Papercuts. Then I see he’s not wearing mittens. That meant the scratches were from his nails. Right! This is one of those new parenting things I AM actually equipped to handle. One of the things we got as a gift was a little baby grooming set. There was a comb (pointless, his hair stood straight up all the time), snotsucker (pointless, the stupid little bulb was so hard to squeeze I needed two hands thus leaving no hands free to corral raging, angry newborn head) and a nailclipper. This is awesome, because after diapering, umbilical cord care and foreskin hygiene it was a relief to do something to the baby that I had at least done to myself.

This confidence lasted exactly nine seconds. Seven seconds to pick Baby up, one second to grab his chubby little fist and one more second to discover babies are not born with human fingernails. They are born with microscopic razors a millimeter thick that could scratch a diamond. I try to position the clippers but he suddenly moves his hands. What if I cut him? What if I miss? I can’t even see a pinky nail. It looks like a grain of rice. What the hell are my options here? I’ll bite my own nails but not his. Will I? Oh hell, I’ll try. Nope, I can’t get my teeth to work on something that tiny.

This is when, I’m not proud of myself but it’s true, this when I stopped. I didn’t even try. I put his mittens back on and did that whistling thing people do when they’re trying to act like there’s nothing to see here, officer. See, I knew eventually Mac would see the nails. Mac would try. If there was going to be a fingertip bloodbath it wasn’t on my conscience. This is, you will have guessed, exactly what happened.

One morning I bolt upright out of bed frantically heading towards my baby because I can hear he’s being murdered. I rush around the corner and Baby’s wailing while my husband is holding him. In the saddest, most heartwrenching little voice you’ve ever heard from a grown man Mac says “I cut him.” He felt miserable. He had taken the world’s tiniest sliver of flesh from my son’s finger and there was a little drop of blood. I think my husband would have cut off his own finger right there if it would undo this nightmarish scene.

And this, dear readers, is my shameful co-parenting confession. My very first thought was not to look at the finger or comfort my husband. I sort of did those on autopilot but they weren’t my first thought. My first thought, in its entirety, was


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