the mediumest race ever

Fergus, a man who until recently neither minced nor wasted words, has suddenly become a talker of the most prolix sort. All the observations he has kept to himself for the past 4 years and 11 months are now tumbling out, a few times a day at least, in a rambling monologue delightful to my ears because he seems so much happier to be saying it all out loud.

We were playing catch the other day, and he kept up a constant stream of coach chatter:

FERGUS: Dat was a good frow Mommy. Da way to frow? Is not too high, not too low, and not too in the middle.

MOMMY: Then where should I throw?

FERGUS: Well. In da middle. But not SO da middle.

That night, he picked up his guitar, and serenaded me with a song he has been working on for some time, “The Biggest Race Ever.” Here is an excerpt:

And in the red car
There was a engine
And in the blue car
There was a trunk
It was the BIGGEST RACE EVER

Then, changing things up, he improvised a companion song, “The Smallest Race Ever.”

FERGUS: You wike dat one Mom?
MOMMY: I really did.
FERGUS: Want to hear anudder song?
MOMMY: Do you HAVE another song?
FERGUS: Sure. Iss called? “Da Mediumest Wace Ever.”

And gosh darn it, he sang a very long song about the Mediumest Race Ever, where nothing really happened, and there were no winners or losers. It was still at least as interesting as anything I’ve seen on TV recently.

Now that Fergus has a lot to say, I am noticing a fascination with things being in the middle or “mediumest.” Since he is my mediumest child, this is perhaps not so surprising. I am happy that he finds it such a good place to be.

cupcakes will kill you


If you’re a mom in New York City this week, you’ve probably been talking about the New York Times article by Sue Dominus (once a classmate of mine) on MeMe Roth, president of the one-woman organization National Action Against Obesity.

Ms. Roth believes that “obesity is abuse– of our children, and of ourselves,” and that radical action must be taken against it. So when her children, who attend a public school in my neighborhood, are offered a snack time cupcake for someone’s birthday, they are obliged to deposit it in a Tupperware “Junk Food Collector” their mother has designated for such abominations.

This all apparently worked very well, until a hot day a few weeks ago (funny, I don’t remember any hot days in 2009), when MeMe’s daughter’s teacher offered the class frozen juice pops. The daughter tried to deposit it in the Junk Food Collector. Teacher advised against, angry emails were exchanged, and before you know it, MeMe is being ripped a new one in the pages of the Gray Lady. Seriously, read it if you haven’t yet. Ms. Dominus was not writing an op-ed piece, at least ostensibly, but she makes very clear what she thinks of Ms. Roth, and is most entertaining in the process. According to the article, Ms. Roth’s family was already asked to leave one school in the past, due to her psycho harangues on Valentine’s Day Sweet-Tarts and the like, and sounds like PS 9 will be showing them the door next.

MeMe Roth (photo by Andrew Testa)
Here is Ms. Roth. I wouldn’t want to take her on at a PA meeting; she looks like the love child of Anne Coulter and that lady from The Weakest Link.

I do think, though, that she… kind of has… a point? We picked a day to celebrate Fergus’ summer birthday in pre-K last month. I brought in cupcakes for the whole class, which were consumed as morning snack, at 9:45 am. Less than two hours later, they went to the cafeteria for lunch, and since it was “Dessert Day” (Friday), they all received… another cupcake. Then afternoon snack was individual yogurts, with the equivalent of 5 packs of sugar in each container. When I picked Fergus up, the kids were running around the classroom, dazed, muttering to themselves. I didn’t say anything, so as not to be perceived as a wackadoo, but I did wonder if the children could not have had their birthday celebration for Fergus with their lunchtime cupcakes, or at least, have had the lunchtime cupcakes removed from their trays since they had all HAD cupcakes that day already. It wasn’t worth sending a nasty email over, let alone starting a national organization out of my apartment, but it did seem slightly excessive.

By the way, this is a school that serves only organic, locally farmed produce in its cafeteria, so overall, my kids eat better there than they do at home.

Anyone else seeing an excess of sugar at school? Have you ever said anything about it?

(PS: If you can’t get enough of Ms. Roth, check out this article in the London Guardian last month. She doesn’t eat breakfast! Or lunch!)

Kate Update


Since there are so few outlets out there sufficiently covering all things Jon and Kate, and so few bloggers offering their opinions thereof, I thought I would attempt to correct that unfortunate paucity by bringing up the hate of Kate, again.

As of last night, my husband David still had no idea who Kate Gosselin was. “Why do I keep seeing this lady’s picture?” he said, holding up the newspaper. This is, by the way, one of David’s most attractive qualities. He has no idea who anyone supposedly famous is; I, while having never watched The Hills, can still tell you a lot about “Speidi,” and I am not proud of that.

Anyway. I was giving Rip Van David a download on the whole Jon and Kate sitch, which honestly I don’t know how he managed to not stay abreast of.
I assume even these people, the Amazon tribe heretofore uncontacted by humankind, could give him a thumbnail sketch, at this point. I patiently explained to David that Jon is probably cheating on her, and she may even be cheating on him, and everyone hates Kate. “Why?” he asked.

“Imagine someone,” I said, “with all of my worst qualities, but none of my better ones.”

He thought about that for a moment. “Whoa,” he said, clearly getting a scary picture.

Frankly, I have been haunted by the same scary picture ever since, because I’m right. There are times when I am a lot like Kate: eye-rolling, sarcastic, and utterly without patience, even with my children. Not every day. But I can go there. While I dislike Kate as much as everyone else does, I am also aware that if my life were filmed 24/7, you could put together a highlight reel of me that would be less than flattering.

If you haven’t yet seen the compilation of Kate Gosselin’s Top 10 Angry Moments, it’s a sobering look at the times when Mommy can be Not So Nice. I’ve been going around imagining the highlight reel they could create from me, and vowing not to give the editors any more fodder. It’s kind of like when our mothers had those pig magnets on their refrigerators so they wouldn’t snack. Powerful, powerful stuff.

who couldn’t use a little more freedom?


If I am a little more spare in my blogging these days, please forgive me. I am hard at work on a top secret assignment that I hope to soon enough be able to share! In the meantime, I’m spending most of my computer time logged on to Freedom, the most wonderful software ever invented. And it’s free! (OK, they suggest a $10 donation if you love it, which you will.)

Basically, you log on, and the software asks you, “How much Freedom would you like?” and you can say anywhere from 5 minutes to 5 hours. “Enjoy your Freedom,” it will say, by means of farewell, and for the prescribed interval you have just set, you will not be able to access your email, or Facebook, or anything on the internet. Unless you force quit and restart your computer. And I hope you will have enough self-love not to do that.

Freedom has changed my life, and made me aware of just how much “work” time I spend screwing around, taking “Which Real Housewife of New Jersey Are You?” quizzes. (I’m Jacqueline, by the way, though I like to “be” Dina while I’m watching.)

Do yourself a favor and get some Freedom. It’s available only for Mac, though. Sorry, PC suckers!

OK, we all have it already

My sons’ school was closed last Friday, due to a “potential” case of swine flu in the 3rd grade (it had only been confirmed as influenza A). The school was thoroughly scrubbed, and reopened Monday, much to all parents’ relief. But I couldn’t help wondering: really? That was it?

I was at the pediatrician on Monday with Cooper, who had developed strep throat (and I called it! I was so proud of myself and my instinctive diagnostic skill). His doctor at first suggested the flu. “No coughing or sneezing,” I said. “He did have a case at his school, but it was just one.”

His doctor looked at me over her glasses, as if to say, bitch, PLEEZ. “It’s everywhere,” she whispered. “EVERYWHERE. It’s just that no one is telling you.”

Well, why not? At this point, I think the knowledge that it is everywhere, and yet the world isn’t ending, would be a calming message.

I received the email below from the pediatrician’s office this morning. In our world of parental misinformation, I find it a bracing dose of common sense, and so I am passing it on. Basically, if you live where I live, you have swine flu right now. So don’t worry.

I am writing this as an effort to keep our members well informed. All Influenza A can safely be considered Swine Flu, as the general Flu season has long since passed. So when a school says they have cases of the flu in the school, it is Swine Flu.

In fact, postive Influenza A tests are not reported or sent to the CDC and many physicans do not have the capablites to do testing. Both of these factors make for a severe under-reporting of cases. I have seen a dramatic increase in the number of Flu cases in the past two weeks. I have treated about 10 to 20% of the practice for the Flu. I have had or heard of positive flu tests from most schools and play facilities in NYC. These statisitcs seem to be in line with today’s NYC statistics which point to about 7-10 % of New Yorkers (550,000 people) reporting Flu like symptoms in May.

I have reached the conclusion based on the current prevalence and the increasing rate of new cases of the Flu that avoidance of exposure is now almost impossible. This, however, does not mean that everyone will contract the Flu. The good news is that most cases have been similar to seasonal flu and Tamiflu used early (with positive tests) has appeared to be very effective.

None of the patients from the practice have fared poorly. Only 500 people have been hospitalized which is one-tenth of one percent of those who became ill. There have been 12 NYC fatalites. It is also possible that exposure to the Flu now might provide protective immunity should it return this winter in a more virulent form. My recommendations remain the same: anyone with fever, muscle aches, excessive congestion or unusual fatigue should not attend school/playgroups.