File This Under: Inappropriate Children's Book Illustrations

Back in 2005 when the pope was dying, I wanted to capture the historical event on film. It was a rainy, chilly day, so I decided to rest on a pew inside Saint Patricks Cathedral for a bit. While there, I saw this peeking out from the top of a hymnal book.

Now, I saw a penis right away. But others felt I was grasping. Perhaps I was. I mean, what (relatively) straight gal doesn’t want to grasp at a penis every now and again? But I think it’s a no-brainer to suggest that the Catholic church make absolutely certain that all printed materials are free from the mere hint of a penis. Don’t they have a Penis Free committee for matters like this? If not, they should. I will head it up. (hehe)

But even so, I am now willing to retract my original belief that there was indeed a penis printed on that religious literature.

But this time? Well, if you suggest that it’s just me this time, then I suggest that you’re crazy.

What you see above is indeed an illustration taken directly from a children’s book my friend reads to her daughter. And we laughed long and hard (hehe) about it.

I am not sure what scenario would bother me more: that a man drew this for a children’s book and didn’t realize it was a penis; that a man drew this for a children’s book and realized it was a penis; or that a man drew this for a children’s book, did or did not realize it was a penis, and his editors let it slide (hehe).

Curious George: A Bad Role Model For Our Children.

I don’t usually go around blaming outside influences for my child’s behavior. I promised myself years before becoming a mother that I wouldn’t become that mother. But this time I simply can’t hold back. Curious George must be stopped.

I’m annoyed that he hides behind a guise of curiosity. I don’t see a curious monkey, I see a stupid monkey, one that teaches our children it’s OK to be ignorant, bigoted, cruel and irresponsible.

It’s even worse because a lot of children really like bananas and I think sometimes (for them especially) the line between “Human” and “Monkey” is blurred and so they start acting like monkeys. And if this is going to be the case—with the bananas and all—I think we need a more educated monkey for our children.

It’s time that mothers everywhere come together and put an end to Curious George. We need to collectively stomp our designer shoes and scream that we’ve had enough. (Gather up the nannies too, we need all the help we can get!)

No more George!

Exhibit A: George acts carelessly and dangerously.

When asked what George rides around his room, we are told he rides a ball. (See below.)

My son will most definitely give this a try if given the chance. And whenever he falls off said ball, we’ll have George to thank for it. Does this mean I can’t go out and buy him a large ball? Thanks, George. He’s a boy. All boys need their balls.

Exhibit B: George hangs out with strange men.

Who is the “Man In The Yellow Hat”? Does this man have a name? He shows up twice out of the four Curious George books I own. George gets into a blue car with him, he even lets this man talk him into going to the moon. (Is that a euphemism?)

And he wears knickers. NEVER trust a man in knickers!!!!!!!

And while we’re on the subject of strange men, who is Professor Wiseman? I think I heard that name used on a recent episode of “Law and Order SVU”. Got news for you, creeps, adding “Professor” to the front of your name isn’t not going to make me (or anyone else for that matter) trust you.

While on the playground, please be on the lookout for any strange men wearing yellow hats and knickers. It’s a perfect disguise, one our kids have come to trust. This is just like the media letting terrorists know exactly where to find our least secure targets.

Curious George is a terrorist to our children.

Exhibit C: George is a pusher.

I don’t know about you, but this mother DOES NOT let her child eat cake or sugar of any kind. Curious George keeps cake around the house and that sets a terrible example. When I read that part to my son, I immediately had to explain what “cake” is. “What’s cake, mommy?” Naturally, I lied and told him that “cake” is fish food.

Lying is OK if it’s about God, sugar or sex.

Also, who uses cake to catch fish? An idiot! That’s who!

Exhibit D: George (an animal) is guilty of animal cruelty.

This one really kicks me in the cottontail. In one of the books, George is curious about holding a bunny, so George just takes a bunny from the bunny cage. (Poorly raised?) Naturally, the bunny runs off “like a shot!” (Pro gun?) And in order to find the bunny, George looks to its mother. He doesn’t ask the mommy bunny for help, instead he ties a string around the mother bunny’s neck!!!! What is this, Guantanamo bay for bunnies? (Terrorist?)

I have already sent an email to PETA. I have asked them to suggest that if this is going to continue—the printing of such dangerous literature—all future editions remove the bit about the string.

Exhibit E: Friends of Curious George think monkeys are more useful than women

Apparently this particular space organization was too busy hiring monkeys to hire any women.

Are women dumber than monkeys? NOT THIS WOMAN! Unite with me, mommybloggers. Curious George hates women, prefers strange men, condones sugar, and takes advantage of helpless animals. Please help me in my fight against George.

Sending Hate Mail: A Tutorial

Let me begin by saying that I’m no expert on the subject of hate mail. I haven’t ever sent hate mail to anyone. It’s just not my style to open an empty mail message and write about how much I hate someone. But some people do it. Some people compose dreadfully cruel letters. Perhaps they need to get something off their chest and writing it down makes them feel better. Perhaps they get high on the adrenaline rush. I guess those people and their actions make some sense.

It’s the people that actually send the message that confuse me. What brings them to press send? What type of response are they hoping to invoke? What type of person opens a new window, composes a lengthy, hateful message and then sends the message to someone they haven’t met before?

This person remains a mystery to me, so I do not claim expertise in this area. But I have been on the receiving end. So pretend I’m like a male gynecologist; I may not have the parts firsthand, but I’ve seen enough to make some sense of it.

Today’s post will hopefully act as a basic tutorial regarding the dos and donts of writing decent hate mail.

Statement: OH MY GOD! I HATE THIS PERSON! I HATE WHAT THEY WRITE! I HATE THEIR VOICE!

OK, that’s cool. So, you hate this person. Believe me, there have been a few people I haven’t been too fond of over the years. I have grown so annoyed, sometimes I’ve stopped reading a person’s Web site all together. Crazy, right? Actually looking away from someone or something that fills you with hate isn’t easy. I mean, who in their right mind wants to avoid someone that makes them angry? Who in their right mind wants to avoid something that makes them feel like hitting caps lock?

Sometimes, whenever I feel angered by something I read online, I go for a jog or a walk. If I am unable to do that, I’ll put everything down and read to my son or sit with my cats, because no matter how badly I feel, they always make me smile.

If none of that works, I vent to my husband and he usually shakes his head and makes me feel silly for caring at all, which in turn makes me stop caring so much.

Try and find some other way to calm yourself down even if it requires the use of an illegal substance.

Statement: OH MY GOD, I CAN’T LET IT GO! I AM JUST SO ANGRY! I NEED TO TELL THIS IDIOT BLOGGER JUST HOW ANGRY I AM!

You’re mad. I get it. And all the bubble baths and yoga breaths in the world aren’t going to calm you down. You simply must write that email! Before running off to some anonymous email client, I really think that you should use your own email client and name. Why? Because it makes what you’re saying matter. Otherwise, you sound like a coward.

I really think you owe it to yourself (and the object of your enmity) to give a name. I speak from experience when I say that those who write anonymously are seen as cowards. After the initial “Wow! They did NOT just write that!” wears off, it becomes downright amusing. Your mail is shared with friends and spouses and everyone gets a chuckle out of it. Your mail is then filed away in a folder called “Cowardly Douchebags”.

Statement: I REFUSE TO USE MY OWN CLIENT! I WILL TELL THIS PERSON HOW MUCH I HATE THEM AND WHY THEY SUCK SO BAD USING AN ANONYMOUS MAIL SERVICE!

Alright, so, you’re not one to leave the light on during sex. You have no desire to share your name with the person you hate. You hate them so much, you wish to anonymously let them know. Let me at least help you pick the right anonymous email client.

I have received email from both Anonymous Speech and Send Anonymous Email. I have also gotten hate mail from impromptu email accounts like Janehatesmihow666@hotmail.com. To each their own. If you want sign up for a new Hotmail or Gmail account, by all means, do so. That’s what people have been doing for years. But there are sites designed specifically for this purpose.

I went to Anonymous Speech today and discovered that they are currently moving to Malaysia and their site is down.

If you wish to anonymously write them letting them know how angry you are, I might suggest using Send Anonymous Email instead.

Any site whose number one selling point is “catch a cheating spouse husband or wife” is a surefire winner in my book. Who needs wedding vows, communication and trust when you have this passive aggressive, highly retardable way of finding out if your husband is sticking it to another woman?

You might as well pick the most passive aggressive site you can find. That way you’re in like-minded company.

STATEMENT: I CAN’T WAIT TO FILL THIS EMPTY WINDOW WITH MY AWESOME AND HATEFUL WORDS THAT WILL MAKE THIS PERSON WISH HE OR SHE WERE DEAD!

Now you’re ready. But before you write your hate mail, I would like to suggest following a couple of rules first.

1). Do not use the caps lock.

It’s weird. I don’t know what else to say about it. It’s just weird. You’re weird if you write in all caps and you already have two strikes against you (you’re sending hate mail and you’re sending hate mail using an anonymous client.) If you turn on the caps lock, you’re out entirely.

2). If you wish to belittle someone, show some validity.

I once had someone write telling me that I SHOULD JUST GO TO NEW JERSEY ALREADY!

I was baffled by this. It was by far the most bizarre email I have ever received. It went on for pages and pages about how I was pathetic and that New York hates me and that I just don’t have what it takes to live here. Finally, she just started yelling at me and told me to move to the suburbs. She ended her rant by voting me off the island and sending me to NEW JERSEY ALREADY!!

While some folks think having to go to New Jersey is like the worst thing ever, there are about 8,685,920 who disagree.

Make it count, people! If this is the type of argument you have prepared, you may want to sit down and ask why you’re so upset. Ask yourself if it’s really about that person at all.

3). Your mother’s ugly and she dresses you funny. FACE!

Empty insults should be removed. YOU’RE A RACIST! or YOU’RE A NAZI! are both overused. It’s right up there with calling someone fat or retarded or fat and retarded. Unless this person is actually a member of the KKK or they were seen at one of the recent Midwestern GOP political rallies, don’t call them a racist.

(Also along these lines: telling someone they are going to Hell, New Jersey, or that they are an anti-American, liberal terrorist.)

4). Unless you’re perfect AND you’re a parent, do not tell someone that they are a terrible mother.

This is a no-brainer. I don’t need to explain this one. Just don’t do it. We all know there are some people out there who are abusive toward children. If you are out to save the children, I might suggest donating some of your extra time—the time it takes you to send hate mail, for example—to a local children’s charity.

5). Don’t make caveats.

Letting the person know that you don’t really read their site, but you stopped by just for today, is unnecessary. Leave things like, “I don’t usually read your site and I regret it now…” out of your hate mail. It says stalker. It reminds me of some dialogue from Howard Stern’s Private Parts.

Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.

Pig Vomit: How can that be?

Researcher: Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?

Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.

Pig Vomit: But… if they hate him, why do they listen?

Researcher: Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

You know you read their site, they know you read their site, you don’t need to tell them how often you don’t read their site or how embarrassed you are that you don’t read their site. About 75% of the hate mail I receive includes a declaration about how the sender doesn’t normally read my Web site. There’s no need for it. You’re right up there with the folks who say things like, “I don’t hate gays, but I really can’t stand seeing two guys hold hands.”

6). Don’t call someone what they are in an attempt to hurt their feelings.

Things like “YOU STUPID VEGAN!” or “YOU BLEEDING HEART LIBERAL!” beckon a “Yeah, so what?” response. If this is all your hate mail is going to say, I highly suggest avoiding it entirely.

7). Use hard returns.

This falls in line with caps lock. Some people write long hateful posts without giving the reader a break. This is tiring and you look insane. Hit return. It helps get your point across and the recipient doesn’t pass out.

Combining caps lock and refusing to use paragraph breaks is hateful all its own. So I might suggest just copying and pasting a continuous stream of UPPERCASE Lorem Ipsum into an email.

8). Read it out loud.

This may be the most important rule. Before you send that hate mail, read it out loud. Because if you can read your email out loud and not feel like a giant loser, then it’s either OK to send (and will therefore help said recipient) or you need to get your head examined.

But in the end, the choice is yours.

Dear Those Without Children,

If you find yourself walking down the street one day and happen to see a mother pushing a screaming child in a stroller, before turning to your hipster girlfriend to comment about the situation, make sure you do one of two things: use your inside voice so said mother can’t hear you or say something even remotely funny. Because “Wow! Somebody sure is upset!” makes the mother want to hurt your face and pull your stupid haircut.

Furthermore, if then you and your hipster girlfriend crack up like it’s the funniest statement you’ve ever heard like OMG ROTFL! !!!!!!! HA HA! know this: the mother listening wants nothing more than to kick you in your testicles.

But, if you simply must say something, how about, “Honey, let’s only do anal from now on.” because adding a little ass to something automatically makes it funnier—just ask your girlfriend.

Sincerely,

A Professional Mother

Smart Indeed

This is for egirl because of what she responded with on this post. The trucks were there last night with a big ol’ spot in between them. We woke up to this:

I actually left a note on their car letting them know they made our morning. Hopefully they get to it before Hanna does.

There are so many massive cars living on this block. The juxtaposition here astounds me.

Am I OK?

I can’t hear too well. I read lips a lot (which is why I can’t hear people in the dark and have trouble watching Grey’s Anatomy sometimes). “What?” is a very common response from me. But more often than not, I simply try and fill in the blanks. And I’ve become quite good at it. Let’s say I hear three words of what someone says. Based on context and the words I did hear, I try and figure out the ones I did not hear. Basically, I replay sentences over and over again my head until I figure it out.

But sometimes this doesn’t take place as quickly as it should.

We have a schedule here now. I deal with Em during the day. I put him down for his daily naps and Tobyjoe usually takes the bedtime ritual. Whenever TJ puts Em down for the night, I run around frantically trying to clean up that day’s mess readying the apartment for tomorrow’s. It’s all about routine. I feel that about 75% of what goes into being a decent parent (and by “decent” I mean one who isn’t repeatedly smacking his or her head against the wall while puddles of drool form at their feet) is nailing down a schedule.

We finally tamed that beast. We finally have a schedule. And it’s finally working.

Granted, we broke a rule in order to get this to work. I hear it’s the Great Dental Rule. The funny thing is, I had no idea about this rule until after we started giving Em his nightly bottle. I had no idea it wasn’t a good idea to give a baby a bottle in his or her crib because of tooth decay. No clue whatsoever. We did it because it worked for us. We give him a bottle before bed, in his crib. He feeds it to himself and he falls asleep almost immediately.

Oops.

I figure it this way, you’re given two chances with teeth, right? Hopefully the kid ends up with my genetic makeup where teeth are concerned. Here I am, 34-years-old and I haven’t ever had a cavity. (Knock on wood.) I never even had one when I had my baby teeth. Let’s hope he gets lucky. And let’s hope he doesn’t need a nighttime bottle whenever his new teeth are coming in.

Every night, Toby and Em play. After they play, Toby will get him dressed for bed, read to him, whatever, as I prepare his evening bottle. I drop it off and they do their thing. Occasionally Tobyjoe and I will text back and forth between rooms.

“Tea?”

“Sure!”

or

“Want relief? He’s fussy tonight. I will step in!”

You get the picture.

But then we had the great text-communication breakdown of 2008. (Damn ATT and iPhone over-saturation). Since that night (a story for another day) we’ve been practicing more reliable means of communicating—like picking up the phone and calling one another. (I know. Crazy concept. Even crazier? Walking from one room to the next to speak in person.)

On Thursday night while I was running around trying to clean up, the phone rang. It was Toby calling. I thought, Well, that’s weird. Why is he calling from the other room?

“Hello?” I asked.

He spoke deliberately and slowly in a creepy, hushed whisper. “AM. I. OK?”

Is he OK? I thought. Where is he? Why is he calling me to ask me if he’s OK? He has the baby! He better be OK! They both better be OK! Why is he whispering? HOLY SHIT! Who is in the house with us? Who is he avoiding?

“What?” I asked again? “What do you mean? Are you OK?” I tried to sound calm. But it was too late. The line was dead.

I started to completely freak out. WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO TOBY? HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DECIDE IF HE’S OK? I DON’T KNOW IF TOBY IS OK!!

I DON’T KNOW IF YOU’RE OK, HONEY! I JUST DON’T KNOW!

And then I remembered my hearing disability. Maybe I heard him wrong. I started to try and to figure out what he really said. I hadn’t heard anything—no big sound, nothing—so he must be OK. But what had he said?

I played it back again in my head.

AM I OK?

EM I OH KAY?

EM EYE EL KAY?

EM EYE EL K?

“Oh!” I gasped. “M-I-L-K! He wants milk!”

Sesame Street Makes Me Like People

One of the cool things about Em getting older is we now get to watch Sesame Street. We watch Sesame Street every morning. And I’m constantly amazed at who they have on. My mother assures me that it’s been this way forever, but I guess I’d forgotten (or I didn’t know any better at the time?) Anyway, every day they make me smile.

Check out this clip of James Blunt. (Make sure you watch it up to 1 minute, 45 seconds. The dance scene will blow your mind.)

Toby and I have been singing it ever since.

This morning Detective Elliot Stabler was on talking about mail—they used the DOINK DOINK sound and everything! Awesome.

I’m left wondering what I’ve been missing all these years.

I Don't Know Why You Say Hello, I Say Milk!

Em is almost ten months old. He’s eating pretty much everything we put in front of him. Sometimes he moves so fast we’re forced to disperse food across the surface of his highchair. He’s a gulper, just like every other creature living under our roof.

I get such a kick out of giving him new foods, though. And I’m blown away about what this kid will eat. We have yet to see him spit anything out. It’s pretty awesome, having a baby who’ll eat anything.

Right now, he’s drinking formula (which we refer to as “milk”). Every morning he wakes up and almost immediately starts giving us the American Sign Language sign for “milk”. I love that he’s starting to understand ASL, but I do have a bone to pick with whomever created the sign for “milk”. On several occasions, he’s given me a very puzzled look.

“Why is Mama sticking a bottle in my mouth instead of waving hello?”

How does one explain to a baby, “No, honey, that’s not a wave. It’s sideways. Duh.”

To avoid confusion, we now practice by giving Em BIG GAY WAVES whenever saying hello.

While I’m on the whole milk/formula topic, what happens whenever he turns one? Do I just start giving him regular, extra-strength cow’s milk? is this something I need to test out before the year mark? Will he completely freak out? Obviously, I need to read up on this milestone.

I remember a mother on here (forgive me, I can’t remember who mentioned it) writing that it really freaked her out whenever she had to stop giving her baby formula. She said she spent weeks wondering if her little one was receiving enough water and/or vitamins. This comment has crept into my head a lot lately. What does one do at that magical point? How does one deal with this? Is it a direct change up? Do you just substitute formula for milk and water and/or juice?

While I feel as though my brain is somewhat mush-full and I complain that there are parts of it that I’m not currently using (for example, adult conversations are at a minimum), I learn something new every day about how to care for someone. And I get the feeling that whenever I look back on this year, I’ll have a greater appreciation for everything I’ve learned and how much I’ve grown as a person and (more importantly) a mother.