Friday, March 27, 2009

Über Mom

I was at preschool with my daughter, who was arm deep in a water tray full of bubbles. I happened to make what I thought was a safe observation, "Of course she into this, she loves bubble baths."

Safe, right? I couldn't imagine anyone criticizing my parenting skills by that statement. But one mommy looked at me with a cocked head and let out a high pitched, "Oh." You know the kind of "oh" that immediately demands your attention, like a dog whistle to a Bichon Frisé. I didn't know what was to follow, but I silently cursed because my deflector shields were down leaving my undersides vulnerable.

Mommy continued, "You let your daughter take bubble baths?" Spoken in the same tone my mother used to ambush my father: You’re not really going to wear that tie, are you? The seemingly innocuous question packed with overtones. The conversation became as dangerous to navigate as class five rapids.

I answered mommy’s query as if I was caught at the border, with an illegal alien in the trunk, "Well... Yes. But not all the time. Maybe...once a month. No. Not even that often. Every two months?" The last two words went up in inflection. A decided question mark where a question mark didn’t belong.

Mommy then finished the job off with another "oh". Downward inflection this time. Precise. Clean kill. Silence. Even the birds stopped chirping.

I couldn’t take it. I had to ask, "Is there something wrong with bubble baths?" It sounded ludicrous coming out of my mouth. At least the question mark was needed this time. Bubble Mommy then informed me in a no-big-deal manner (letting me know it was a really big deal) that there is a pitfall to girls taking bubble baths. The soap can irritate their female parts. News to me.

My daughter continued to slosh in the bubbles. The birds went back to their chirping.

The above can be typical über mommy behavior. The know-it-all mommy who quotes facts and statistics, offers well balanced recipes and has a squirt jar of sanitizer at the ready. They are the mommies I call when I'm in a pickle. Because, trust me, I have no über mommy qualities.

I am not savvy mommy. I do not read mommy books or articles. I couldn't tell you how much my kids weigh nor what size they wear. And my thermometers never work. I do not have the answers.

I am not cuddle bunny mommy. I do not want to be with my kids twenty-four/seven. I approve of preschool for two year olds. Although not those granola co-op preschools, where you have to clean, paint and fund raise for eight hours a month on top of paying their exorbitant $850 fee. If I'm forking over that much, you better keep my kid all day, teach him a second language, service my car and recap my teeth.

I am not holistic nor organic mommy. These ladies know how to combat any health issue. They say things like, "Honey, you need to take your flax seed oil." I don't even know what flax seed oil is. I don't grow my own vegetables nor compost. And frankly, the later sounds disgusting.

I am not cleanliness-is-next-to-godliness mommy. For some reason, that gay gene is not a part of either Michael or I. We are guys and we are messy. Don't get me wrong, we don't live in filth. But I am not one to vacuum in my pearls. For me, cleaning up is a learned behavior. As I'm tidying, my mind still shouts, why put breakfast dishes away if you're just going to get them out again for lunch!

So, what the hell kind of mommy am I? Valid question. My kids are groomed. They have good manners and great senses of humor. They laugh and play reasonably well together and sing show tunes and maybe most importantly, they shake a pretty mean cosmo. They might say fart instead of pass gas, I'm sure even June Cleaver herself would overlook that, as long as the Beav could pour a good cocktail.

Monday, March 23, 2009

To Big Sur With Love

It started out with a wedding. My good friend from high school. We actually knew each other in elementary, however our friendship didn't solidify until we were roommates. I drove north, just shy of San Jose, and achieved the impossible. I went without Michael or the kids, and I didn't go to San Fran to visit Mom or Dad or the sibs. This one was only me.

This solo journey was Michael's idea. I haven't been out of Maxie's reach since the second day of her life, and evidently the stress of mommydom was taking its toll. Everything I asked of my kids was accompanied by the tone, "What did I just say!!!" And my brow was maintaining a permanent scowl. Even Sebastian secretly told my husband, "I think Papa needs to go away." Okay, then. Away it will be.

The wedding was a good one. A Jewish wedding in a Jesuit winery. Can't get any better. Doubt I'll see another.

Then it was just me. I didn't finalize plans until Saturday, the day I tucked myself neatly into my car and drove north blasting show tunes. Big Sur was my destination. Only two nights. Just enough time to recoup and breathe. California is really odd this time of year. It's green. I mean what-I-dream-Ireland-to-look-like green. I'm so used to dried out, brittle, any-spark-will-set-it-off brown, that I really have been taken aback.

The California coast is as beautiful as any other place I've been. This is my home state, so give me leeway to wax poetic. Lush green mountains loll down to the restless blue surf. And you know that color you see in paintings of waves. It's turquoise, but not. Maybe aquamarine. But in paintings it looks electric and fake. I'm here to tell you, I've seen it in the wild. It's opaque and momentary, magical and then it's gone.

I'm holed up in a place called Big Sur River Inn. It's in from the coast, so you don't get a sense of the mighty ocean. However, Pheneger Creek is on the property. It's babbling and it's golden, something Robert Redford would put in one of his movies.

I've been doing a lot of sitting. Sitting in Adirondacks chairs being hypnotized by the creek, sitting on cliffs taking in the drama that is the California coast, sitting in eateries writing and rewriting my play. All writing has to be done in restaurants because my accommodations are really a shack. No desk and chair. No TV. No telephone (cell phones don't work either). And it's incredibly cold. The only heat comes from a free standing electric radiator that heats only the spot on which it stands, not the bed, not the bathroom. So, I type to you from the restaurant, which has WiFi, even though it maintains a bucolic air.

I'm here to tell you, laid back, stereotyped, hippy dippy culture is alive and well in California. Whether biker groups or potheads of yore, you can find them here, probably scoffing city folk and their ruinous ways. Plaid flannel is the uniform. And if you have magenta hair or body piercings or tats of a hog, jump on in, the water's fine.

I almost went to Hearst Castle today, but stopped myself to walk amongst nature. I think the garish opulence of Hearst would have given me a migraine. Instead I listened to birds sing, wrote some, ate trout with my eggs. There it is...I like being with me. I recommend Big Sur for anyone needing to recharge. Tomorrow, back to the fam. And deep breath.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cross Dressing Children

What will we allow our boys to wear and what toys can they play with? A girl wearing fatigues and playing with GI Joes barely raises an eyebrow. But Junior wanting a Barbie and fairy princess dress still makes us dads squeamish. Even me, and I'm gay for Pete's sake. You'd think I'd be all "woo hoo, party over here!" when my son clomps around the house in plastic pumps. But truth be told, there's a kernel of discomfort buried deep within my free wheeling, cool gay dad exterior.

The above picture was my son's idea. He plopped one of his sister's tutus on his head and pranced about in his version of a la-de-dah lady, something not seen since the grand ol' days of vaudeville. He then convinced Maxie to put a tutu on as well and demanded a photo shoot. It was campy and a lot of fun. The merriment ebbed. The tutu came off. He then got dressed in his uniform: jeans, tee shirt, hoodie, sneaks, and was off to school.

Bash is beginning to develop his own sense of style. For a while he fancied a pink pair of cat-eyed sunglasses. A girl in his class obnoxiously said, "Those are girl glasses." I immediately held my breath, taking more offense to the tone than the implication. But Sebastian parried with, "No, they aren't." Case closed. I didn't have to snatch the child bald.

I've blogged about the time he went trick or treating as Dorothy and his present attachment to a pair of Dolce and Gabanna girl boots, Sometimes a Girl Needs a Kicky Pair of Boots, and I've come to a conclusion... Much more important than any discomfort I may have, my children deserve the right to explore in a safe environment without being subjected to shame. Last thing I want to be responsible for are future therapy bills.

I couldn't tell you what Sebastian's sexual orientation will be, but he's incredibly social and if he can get the laugh, he very well might go out in public wearing a dress. Much like my uncle did in 1950's Norman, Oklahoma, singing to his high school assembly I'm Just a Girl Who Can't Say No.

I never wanted to wear women's clothes and I'm gay. My uncle, who still puts on his Ado Annie drag from time to time, has been married to my aunt for more than fifty years. So love of the dress has nothing to do with what team you bat for. My husband, the ex drag queen, may disagree.

Tomorrow, I'm driving north for a good friend's wedding. By myself! It will be my first night away from my daughter since she arrived in our home. I can't tell you how much I'm looking forward to the break. But while I'm gone, I'm not going to think about Sebastian as my tutu wearing, future eyeliner applying son. I'm going to miss his smile, and the energy he gives me daily. His personality is brilliant, and it is my job, whether I fully approve of his choices or not, to grind those kernels of discomfort into dust, and protect the energy and light and humor and strength and vulnerability that is Sebastian Isaac.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Would You Introduce the Mystery Guest Without Blindfolds?


I feel sorry for my husband. He is slogging through the series finale of The L Word. I saw the train wreck last night and wished the episode had a warning: You will never get this hour back. EVER!

On the whole, I love series finales. They give the creators and writers leeway to wrap up their creations in their own unique, pretty pink bow. And there have been some doozies, Six Feet Under and The Sopranos come to mind. And let's not forget Newhart, when Bob Newhart woke up in the arms of Suzanne Pleshette, his TV wife from his previous show. Turned out his Vermont existence as the owner of the Stratford Inn was a horrific dream. If only someone told me The L Word was the same.

Unlike Newhart, which used wit and humor to tell its final moments, The L Word was a mishmash of storylines, many left open ended, most noticeably the plot they splashed across their own ad campaigns, "Who killed Jenny Schecter?" This publicity carries with it various unwritten promises. One, there will be murder. Two, there will be mystery. And three, the mystery will be solved. The L Word miraculously doesn't offer ANY of the above. Jenny does end up dead, but I couldn't tell you if she was murdered or died of boredom. Now, if the writers were clever, perhaps making a commentary on America's bloodlust using good old fashioned murder mystery as a metaphor, that would have been surprising and worthy of a well deserved hats off. But instead we we're treated to a messy episode, including an incomprehensible scene about Jennifer Beals's discomfort with Pam Grier's drag queen boyfriend (don't ask) using her master bath. "What if he forgets to put the toilet seat up, or something?" Was this really scripted? And what's the something she's eluding to? It played like bad improvisation.

I mentioned in a previous entry that I have an addiction to serial television. I'm a cliff hanger whore. Even when the show gets stale, almost any lame mystery will keep me watching. And mystery was promised on The L Word. Great pains were taken to give every character a motive. Melodramatic scenes ended with the stock, "I'm going to fucking kill Jenny Schecter." But the show's creator, for reasons quite unfathomable to me, disregarded tried and true mystery formula, and didn't give us a resolution. I can only believe, in her hands, Who shot JR? would have a new-agey twist: How do we feel about JR being shot?

The following promise is made about the next episode of Desperate Housewives, "Revenge has found a home in the neighborhood, and it won't rest until a housewife is dead." At first listen, my blood started pumping with familiar anticipation. A housewife killed? It was like the good ol' days of Lost when they'd advertise one of the passengers of Oceanic Flight 815 was going to bite the bullet...or be mauled by a polar bear or attacked by the smoke monster. It's a dizzying feeling with so much possibility. But on second look, the Desperate Housewives promotion does not really say a housewife will be murdered. It says Revenge won't rest dot, dot, dot. This could mean Revenge could be killed before he/she completes the task. It's a clever bit of publicity, and the loophole makes me less excited.

What can I say? I look forward to the demise of television characters I avidly watch week after week. My salvation glands gush, blood pumps through my ears, my palms sweat all at the anticipation of grizzly death. My mind reels, creating scenarios and suspect lists. I become an armchair detective and I love it.

The L Word used to stand for lesbian. Now, as we lay it to rest, I guess it stands for lugubriousness.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Bad Mommy 4: A Political Assassin Walks into a Gay Bar...

I might have indulged a bit last night. Michael and I went to a bar. This peculiar, edgy guy showed an interest in my husband. He went on about Michael's energy, how they connected when their eyes met, how he had not seen a light in someone's eyes since his meeting with the Dalai Lama. Let's call him Crazy. And Crazy pulled something out of his pocket for Michael to see. My husband then smelled this something, let out an appreciative "Mmmmm" and said I should give it a go. I leaned in to see a gooey brown substance on Crazy's fingers. Having two young ones who often secrete gooey brown onto various parts of their bodies, I was immediately suspect. Did that stop me? Of course not. I inhaled and smelled chocolate. Hold on. Not just chocolate. Chocolate mixed with something. Chocolate and pot. Crazy told me to open my mouth. And evidently, this is when my common sense decided to take a road trip to Tijuana. In a convivial display of "why the hell not?" I did as he asked. I opened my mouth as his fingers made their way in. Sweet and tangy mingle on my tongue. Turned out it was chocolate laced hashish, or hashish laced chocolate, I'm not sure what today's fine drug pushers prefer. (This brings to mind that classic commercial: You got hashish in my peanut butter!) Crazy then gave me a hug goodbye and with tremendous concern told me I was blocked, to which I thought, I just licked mysterious brown goo from a stranger's fingers, how blocked can I be?

Now, I want none of you to worry about quality, Crazy informed us it was prescription hashish. (Easy to get evidently.) And he said I would probably not feel anything until this morning. Well, he was wrong. I feel nothing this morning. Every sense is dulled. I am as active as a wad of gum. The kids can eat Valentine's candy all day long, they can torment the dogs and flush Wall-E down the toilet, they can set the house on fire, I just don't care.

This reminds me of that time in Amsterdam... I ate one of their famous space cakes and the next morning I woke up in a blur. I forced myself to go out and be a tourist. I trudged through the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank house, even though my head was a helium balloon and my eyes were slathered with Vaseline.

Etymology Lesson. We get the word assassin from hashish. A extremist Persian sect, called hashshashin, would get high and kill the elite for political reasons. Some things will never change. My question? Where did they get the energy? I could never take a couple hits and then ride a horse to the nearby village, wield a scimitar and marauder. Because this stuff makes me want to roll over and....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Stop Looking at my Can!


My blogging buddy MadMadMargo found this softdrink generator and I laughed my can off. Go make your own!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Poisoning My Kids

This morning Sebastian was rambling about someone named Maria. "What's her name? Maria? Wait. Who's Maria? Is she the one who's a nun? Yeah. And she lives in that big house." And without a breath he breaks into, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

I smiled to myself. We haven't watched The Sound of Music for quite a while and I wondered what triggered that nugget. He went on for a while, trying his best to remember the tune and when his memory ran dry, he shifted gears, "They tried to make me go to rehab, I said no, no, no."

And what struck me as he warbled from Rodgers and Hammerstein to Amy Winehouse was how all parents poison their kids. Admit it. We do. With our likes and dislikes, the way we turn a phrase, the food we eat, our personal style, the television and movies we reference. (My white son does a spot on Miss Celie from The Color Purple.)

Amy Winehouse was Michael's introduction, although not The Sound of Music. Ever since Children of the Damned, Michael is wary of any movie with a passel of blond children. No, I was responsible for The Sound of Music. But only the fun parts in the first half of the film. After Captain Von Trapp marries Maria it gets heavy-handed for little ones. Hell, I'll admit it, it even gets heavy-handed for me. Julie Andrews is downright matronly. And I miss Baroness Schraeder and her bitchy remarks, "If I had only known, I would have brought my harmonica." So, I skip the parts about Nazi occupation, and instead the kids and I laugh as the children fall into the lake, sing with lonely goat herd marionettes, and giggle uncontrollably when Reverend Mother asks, "What is it you cunt face, Maria?" (Sebastian thinks her high falutin nun voice sounds funny, I appreciate the unintentional lowbrow humor of cunt face. It certainly makes Climb Every Mountain take on a different meaning.)

Recently, I have taken up the expletive, Jiminy Crickets (note the pluralization) to be used in place of the other popular JC. Just as easily, I could have chosen Julie Christie or Jimmy Connors or Jose Cuervo, but I get more bang for my buck debasing a Disney character. (Although, maybe I'm being shortsighted. Try this on for size: I just dropped an anvil on my big toe and Joan Collins it hurts like a Morgan Fairchild!) I can also be heard around the house shouting, "Dingdang it!" This of course replaces goddamnedmotherfuckinsonofabitch! However, both Jiminy Crickets and dingdang it are barely satisfying. I imagine it's like smoking Marlboro Reds for many years and then having to downgrade to a heavy filter. The kick in the pants is that both my kids have taken to exclaiming "Jiminy Crickets!" and "dingdang it!" when the situation warrants. Yep. Poisoned.

When Sebastian was three, he acquired a bad habit. He'd be pissed off about something and look at either Michael or I with furrowed brow and say, "You're a bitch." This confused us. We couldn't figure out where he heard that particular phrase. It wasn't us. We weren't going around the house saying, "You forgot to take out the trash, and by the way, you're a bitch." Now, if Sebastian was spouting, "Bitch, please!" we could have taken responsibility. But you're a bitch? We suffered through the typical parental rigmarole. We chastised. We ignored. But nothing stopped Sebastian from sounding like a broken parrot, "You're a bitch. You're a bitch. You're a bitch."

One day, I was picking Bash up from preschool, and in a stern tone, from across the playground, I heard one of his teachers reprimanding a student, "You're benched." Light bulb. You're benched. Evidently, parents are not the only ones who are poisoning our kids.

About six months later, Sebastian was at it again. In frustrated moments, he was partial to saying, "Fuck me." But this time we didn't freak out. We knew this came from us.

I can't believe no one told me how perversely pleased I would be when my kids would take on my isms. As long as Sebastian isn't cursing like a crack whore, it tickles me pink. And that's not to say they will cozy up to all of my stuff. As a kid, I did not want to sit in front of the TV and root for the Sooners with my dad. Nor did I care for my mother's peculiar snack of crumbled Saltines in skim milk. Consequently, I steer clear of both college football and soggy, salty snacks. But when Bash helps Maxie out of an anguished moment (and she's two, so those are often) by cooing, "It's okay, sweetheart," using my exact words and intonations, it sends me over the moon.

Last week, I took Maxie to the grocery store. The doors swoosh open and in the entrance, I don't know why, there were cases of soda stacked around a basketball hoop. I reacted as I usually do when confronted with things out of context, I ignored it, as if basketball set ups were commonplace at the neighborhood Ralph's. Maxie, with crystal clarity says, "Basketball." Now, I'll be honest, I could say we don't watch basketball at our house, but that would be a lie by omission. We don't watch ANY sports at our house, college football to synchronized swimming. Hell, I was fidgety during the opening ceremonies of the Olympics.

So, how does my daughter know this random object, surrounded by Coca Cola products at the grocery store, has anything to do with basketball? I might not think this significant if she was labeling an actual basketball. But a regulation basketball hoop? We don't have one. Neither do our neighbors. Neither does her preschool. So, unless my daughter is sneaking out of her crib at nap time, and somehow getting to a playground for some one on one action without my knowing, there is no way she could cognitively know what a basketball is. But check this out, Maxie's birth mother was a basketball player. I'm not saying love of basketball runs in the DNA, but something instinctual is going on here.

With birth parent genetic makeup coursing through both of our kids, we don't get, "He has your eyes," "She has your laugh." So, when we're listening to the show tune station and Sebastian hears Tomorrow and asks, "What's that from?" not "What song is that?" I puff out my chest with great pride. Because that is our stamp. And in the whole nature/nurture mystery, it's thrilling to know we are leaving our indelible mark. Jackie Chan, I love poisoning my kids.

Monday, March 9, 2009

It Just Keeps Knocking


I didn't think this would happen in this way. I assumed, one day, I would end up on television talking in a heart felt manner about some cause, which I may or may not really give a rip about. Such is the life of a celebrity. Well...this is not television, but this week I have been propositioned TWICE by people who want me to help get their word out. One is for a cause, the other a reality show. And both of these requests came from folks who read Mommy With a Penis. This blog is going to take me somewhere dammit. So before I get to the nitty gritty, let me bask in my very own Z list celebrity status...just one moment longer...I'm getting to it..I'm basking, I'm basking. Alright...and on to the main course.


The cause first...

The cause: Planned Parenthood
The event: Food Fare
The place: Santa Monica Civic Auditorium
The date: Thursday, March 12th


EAT, DRINK AND BE DISCOVERED
AT PLANNED PARENTHOOD LA’s 29th ANNUAL FOOD FARE

LA’s Premiere Culinary Celebration Offers a Sampling of the Region’s Finest
Restaurants, Wineries, and Gifts as Well as a Taste of Stardom (Which means you can win a possible walk-on on Brothers & Sisters).

Attendees can gorge themselves on food from 54 LA restaurants, including Drago, Michael's, AOC, James' Beach, Lucques, Joe's and Mako, while imbibing top-shelf beers and wines from Wally's, Angel City Brewing, Flask, and 19 others.

For more info: http://www.pplafoodfare.com/.


And now the Reality Show...

NOW CASTING dynamic families with teenagers for their own reality series!!!

The producers of “Supernanny” and “The Real Housewives of New York” are looking to give one amazing family their own show! This documentary-style series will take a look at an American family and the issues that they face in their day-to-day lives including their relationships, challenges, laughter and tears that come with being a family.

They are currently looking for outgoing, opinionated and outspoken families with teenagers who are ready to step into the spotlight. Specifically, they are looking to highlight the ups and downs of GLBT (for those of you out of the loop, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered) families.

Contact the Casting Producer: tbarcinas@shedmediaus.com or Casting Assistant: pnolan@shedmediaus.com. Please include your contact info, family photo, and a paragraph about why your family is entertaining enough to star in your own TV series

There you have it. My first two promotions. And if you happen to get the reality show and make boodles of cash, I wouldn't decline a finders fee.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Bad Mommy 3: Why I Oughta...


It was one of those days. My two year old determined NOT to be content. She wants the princess outfit on. She wants the princess outfit off. Hello Kitty t-shirt on with pink panties. No, scratch that. With Sleeping Beauty panties. She throws a box of cereal on the floor. Hello Kitty t-shirt off. Panties off. Yells at dog. Pees on floor. Slaps my face. For lunch, she wants chicken, cucumber, yogurt. She spits out chicken. Ignores cucumber. And knocks her Danimals all over the kitchen counter. She refuses to help clean up. Idonwanna accompanies each action. Her whine so insidious, I'm a vibrating violin string ready to snap.

Phone rings. It's Hubby:

MOMMY WITH A PENIS: Maxie almost went through the window.

HUBBY: (With terror in his voice.) What happened?

MOMMY WITH A PENIS: I almost threw her threw her through it!