About Me

My photo
My interests include veganism and vegetarianism, health, ethics, politics and culture, media, and the environment. I have three kids; I teach college part-time, study piano and attempt to garden. I knit. I blog on just about anything, but many posts are related to my somewhat pathetic quest to eat better, be more mindful of the environment, and be a more responsible news consumer. Sometimes I write about parenting, but, like so many Mommy bloggers, my kids have recently told me not to. :) Thanks for reading.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Bribery, A Mother's Best Friend

Some parents claim they never bribe.

I do.  I admit it, too.  I figure we all need to get paid and well, for kids, sometimes that is in a little cash (emphasis on "little") and sometimes it's a small treat (emphasis on "small").

My friends in sales might point out that parenting involves being a salesperson.  I argued the other day (in a private email to a friend who sells for a living) that I'm no good at it and that I'm more of a dictator than a salesperson as a parent.

Ew.  That sounds bad. 

But kinda true too.  I *hate* playing all those parenting games of incentives and sticker charts and "if you do this, I'll do that".  Just take a shower because I've explained 1000 times why it's important and frankly it's just socially normative -- it's what dirty people *do*.  Just take out the trash because you're a member of the family.  Just do your homework because it's expected and I want you to do well.  Reality.  That's the kind of Mother I am. 

Let's call me the Nike Mom.  Just. Do. It.

Turns out, however, I *do* occasionally try the sell tactic.

My sons have always hated haircuts and I have *hideous* stories of *atrocious* temper tantrums (one includes the kid vomiting) as evidence of their opinion of sitting still and being shorn.

The older one (now 10) outgrew that lovely phase quite some time ago and now *likes* getting his hair cut.  I think it has a lot to do with his impending pre-teen status and the fact that the girls who cut his hair (it's *always* a cute blond) chat with him and tell him he's so handsome.

The younger one, however (5) still acts as if getting a haircut is equivalent to undergoing chemo.  Honestly, he really acts up.  I've tried different places, different times of day, bribing with candy.  No go.  And it doesn't matter WHO says he's handsome.  He could not care less.

And the resulting professional haircuts have left quite a bit to be desired. (Nobody can cut well when the person is a constant target.)

Figuring that my own attempt could not POSSIBLY be worse that what we've seen before, I decided to bribe.  Big time.

I went out and bought a $24.99 hair cutting kit at CVS.  Seriously, in two haircuts the thing pays for itself.

I then sat the lad down for a talk.

"You like Star Wars Legos, right?"

"YES!"  Good, client is hooked.

"Well, if you sit real still and let Mommy cut your hair, I will let you buy a $5 Lego toy."


And he did it.  Holy moly, now I wonder if this would have worked say, two years ago.  (I doubt it; three-year-old boy self-control  or ability to postpone gratification aren't well-known phenomena.)

So we went to Target to purchase the bribe.

Oh, those Lego people.  They *know* how to get parents over a barrel.  Anything under $5 is so ridiculously small that it's really, well, ridiculous.  And the selection was horrible -- nothing Star Wars-related at all.

So we ended up purchasing a $10 Star Wars Lego toy.  Still less than the price of a professional haircut.

And we're both happy.  Here is the haircut.

 Here is the toy.

Successful sale. Satisfied client; satisfied salesperson.

But seriously, just go brush your damn teeth, OK?

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Professional Mothers

I find it ironic that mothers who work outside the home (like me!) are sometimes referred to as "professional mothers" while mothers who work exclusively at home (not earning income  -- "just" being at home with their kids) earn the title, "stay-at-home-Mom".

Seems, actually that the latter category often presents themselves in such a way that THEY should be labeled "professional mothers".  Some of them not only do a *wonderful* job with their kids -- they do --  but they also have spotless yards, perfectly decorated homes, 2.5 pets, AND find time to volunteer, teach Sunday school, exercise AND get regular mani-pedis.  Some of them, in fact, have made staying home into such an elaborate job that they truly present themselves as professionals, with standards so high and schedules so tight that in fact they make the rest of us look a little.  bit.  bad. 

Or at least lazy.

Not that I resent them.  Oh, gosh, I wouldn't actually say that.

Who am I kidding?  Yes, sometimes I would.

Yesterday, at my son's kindergarten soccer practice, a few Moms -- who clearly are close friends -- show up, put up a tent, a portable table, chairs for the kids (aren't they playing a game?) and chairs for themselves and then proceed to lay out a spread of fresh fruit, water or juice, and home-baked cupcakes, complete with a fancy tiered cupcake tray.

Professional mothers, I tell you.  Very smart presentation.  Highly organized.  High client appeal.

Good lord.  OVER. THE. TOP.  If this is what they do for the second practice, what are they going to do at the end of the season?!

But then, sometimes I just "phone it in", or at least that's what I'm sure they would think of my just bringing a bottle of water for my kid and expecting him to wait until we get home to actually eat. 

The practice is 45 minutes, folks, and we all live within fifteen minutes of the field.

I do think, however, that THEY, not women like me, deserve the title, "professional mothers".

Perhaps I should take notes from their blackberries...

Monday, September 13, 2010


I am.

I admit it.

Yesterday, at my daughter's soccer game, I was visiting with some of the Moms (while trying to watch my daughter in front of me and my son in back of me; forgive me if I didn't take in *all* of the game).

I thanked one of the Moms -- I had just met her the day before -- for bringing my daughter home the previous day.  (Long story short:  my husband was out of town, the city-wide soccer jamboree was in full swing, and I was driving my daughter all weekend to her *six* games and driving my son to his *four*; this Mom was gracious enough to give my daughter a ride so that I didn't have to criss-cross the city *again* that day.  It goes without saying that OF COURSE the kids' games were nowhere near each other and overlapped in terms of time.)

She replied, "Oh, no problem!"  Then one of the other Moms asked where I live.

Mom #1's reply:  "She lives in that RICH neighborhood with the BIG houses."

Mom #2:  "Nice!"

Me:  "I still feel embarrassed admitting I live there."

Immediately I'm thinking (but not saying out loud):  Why should I apologize for where I live or for what kind of house I live in?  Isn't their discomfort *their* problem? Why am *I* uncomfortable?

Apparently, these women are uncomfortable with where I live, which makes me uncomfortable, too, because golly gee whiz, I don't want somebody to assume stuff about me or my personality based on the size or location of my house.  I feel compelled to tell them that my last house was WAY smaller (it was), and that the cost of living here compared to where I used to live made it possible for us to buy a house that we wouldn't have been able to afford back East (true). 

But should I feel that I *have* to offer them any justification at all?

I think not.

But I did (see above) because their discomfort went directly through my thin skin.

They hurt my feelings, essentially.

THEN today I take my son to Kindergarten.

My lovely, playful, charming son who was described by his preschool teacher as being in the "bottom third" of his class.  Well, another mother is there, talking about how her daughter (also in K) is swimming across the pool, riding her bike without training wheels, reading and "writing all the time".

Needless to say, my son is doing NONE of that.

Yes, I am thin-skinned and feeling very inadequate.

But I do have a great house. :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


I've been 'almost vegan' long enough that eating vegan at home is easy.  But I still find doing so out of the house to be a challenge, particularly if I'm staying at somebody else's house.

I've just returned from a two-week trip to spend time with my East Coast family, during which we celebrated my in-laws' 50 years of marriage.  It was a lovely trip and my in-laws were very supportive of my dietary choices.

However...I had to make some concessions in my diet because a) I couldn't stock their pantry and fridge with my stuff and then drag it back to the other side of the country and b) I couldn't expect to use their kitchen every day.  I did go out and buy tofu, soy milk and tempeh.  I did not buy fake cheese, fake butter, fake ice cream, or any of the other vegan items (such as stevia or agave) that I generally use at home. 

Translation:  this "almost vegan" ate some dairy while on vacation.  I found it the most convenient compromise.  I did NOT, however, eat meat or eggs (though I suspect the one piece of anniversary cake may have had eggs in it). 

While at their house, I ate an incredibly boring diet of oatmeal in the mornings, coffee with soy milk (and white sugar), toast (with butter), brown rice and tofu and veggies (or tempeh) for dinner, and a tempeh and veggie sandwich and fruit every day for lunch.  It was all fine, but monotonous. 

I did cook for them twice:  pinto and plantain stew (from Veganomicon) and a veggie and tempeh stir fry (they added shrimp to their portions, though they said they liked the tempeh).  During the week I watched them eat lobster, veal, chicken, eggs, bacon, liverwurst, turkey and ham, cheese, yogurt, ice cream.  They also eat fairly big portions of fruit and veggies every day, but watching them eat made me aware AGAIN of how many animal products I am NOT eating anymore.  (For the record, I have NEVER had veal.) 

When we went out for their anniversary dinner -- at a very nice Italian place -- I asked the cook to prepare an eggplant dish without the smoked mozzarella (but GOD it looked so good!) and to just give me a side of pasta.  Done.  Vegan even while at a VERY non-vegan restaurant.

I did have a *little* ice cream and I did have that piece of their anniversary cake.  Should I feel terribly guilty? 

I don't particularly, though I know there are vegans who would never have made these concessions, even while on vacation, and even while living in somebody else's house. 

Would YOU have taken over somebody else's kitchen?  Why or why not?  What concessions, if any, do you make if you are staying in somebody else's house?