Thursday, March 19, 2015

Rules of the Suburbs

Moving to the suburbs is among the compromises new parents make when the crib/storage bench no longer fits in the bedroom/playroom because they were gifted an unwieldy toy that their kid saw/loved before they had a chance to hide it in the closet/pantry and return it later.

Having just gotten used to sleep deprivation and come to terms with newborn hair loss, a new adjustment must take place.  This list serves as an impractical tool for navigating the suburban initiation.

1.  Plan ahead. For literally everything.  Owning a car (and you must own at least one) should make last minute plans easier, but nothing gets done in the suburbs without prior notice.  Everyone is over scheduled and super busy and you would think you're dealing with CEOs and heads of state rather than the Joneses.

I have an hour available 2 Sundays from today.  Lets catch up over string cheese.
Takeaway: Don't try to make plans with one of your new neighbors for this weekend.  Their rejection will compel you to explain why/how you are possibly free this weekend, and I don't need to tell you this is an uncomfortable and unnecessary thing to do.  Want a summer playdate? Send out your requests with your winter holiday greetings.  (Want a carpool? And you just moved in? lol).

2.  Learn the unspoken rules of the railroad.  They make no sense, so save this part of my list for your first few weeks.

To sit in an empty 2-seater section, scoot down to the window; someone else will definitely need a seat during rush hour so don't make them ask you to move.

Not rush hour.

Same for a 3-seater *unless* someone is already at the window. If so, sit in the aisle seat, leaving an empty spot in the middle.  I don't know why.  I suppose the (non existent) awkwardness of sitting directly next to someone is greater than the obnoxiousness of forcing someone to ask for a seat.  And when they do ask, DO NOT move to the middle seat to give the third person the aisle. Rookie move. You're admitting to being a weirdo who didn't want to sit near the window guy but will now do so anyway. Instead, get out of your seat (as everyone else is shuffling in and the aisle barely accommodates one physically fit person at a time), let Third in, and sit back in your aisle seat, proudly making thigh-to-thigh contact with only one stranger.

3.  Keep up with neighborhood real estate.  I still can't manage to (care to) do this, and my social life has suffered as a result.  Know the houses that are for sale, the houses that recently sold, and the houses that will be on the market soon because the Joneses are divorcing or upgrading or died of suburban boredom.  Be ready to opine on prices, house styles, and your next renovation.  Name drop the guy you will use for this upcoming project, without actually using his name. Just "our patio guy."  The days of supers and building handymen are behind you; soon, when someone asks for a painter recommendation, you'll have a fastest guy, cheapest guy, and highest quality guy. Don't call them that to their faces.

4.  Plan ahead. Oh I get it now.  You live an eternity away from anywhere you'd want to go, you have at least one child (if you don't have more, people will ask you why not, because we don't erect white picket fences around our private lives, only our backyards), and you drive a mini-apartment that screams "I never have to parallel park."  The mental preparation, alone, takes up to a week.

5.  Be prepared to see everyone everywhere.  Chances of anonymity are slim, and bumping into someone you know is no longer an unexpected treat.  It's something you account for in budgeting time.

Hoping not to see anyone, because laundry day and a bad hair day happened to land on grocery shopping day (which is now a thing)?  Good luck with that.  You'll probably recognize people just getting into your car.

And yes you will have to drive there.

But, if you picked the right place, the sense of community and neighborhood bond helps make the absurdly long trip to pick up milk worthwhile.  (It's just milk. How is there nothing closer).

Monday, March 2, 2015

5 Things I Don't Believe In

1. Ketchup on pasta. I will never understand why kids enjoy the taste of this, and I will never offer this culinary abomination to my children. I am no food snob. I've melted cheese onto oatmeal, and have eaten mayo sandwiches. But encouraging a child to assault her taste buds in this manner basically goes against my religion.

2. And while we're on food--I don't believe in kids menus, the small section where the most unhealthy items at a restaurant reside. Kids can enjoy fried food off their parents' plates and the regular menu, but let's not define their options this way. And it contradicts all parental food propaganda. Rude.

3. Sleep training. Ha just kidding. I'd rather repeat high school than discuss any sensitive parenting issue with The Internet. What I meant is sleep silence. Like the tooth fairy, this only exists in the world of children. As an adult (maybe), as an adult parent (probably), and certainly as an adult parent woman (mother, for short), sleep consists of sprints of restfulness separated by noisy bouts of snoring, crying, snorting, coughing, suspicious house creaks, "mama," and/or refrigerator openings (none of which are your own except the last one). A mother is the "princess and the pea" of sounds.

4. Dressing kids up for daycare. This is a source of discord in my home, but there are few days when it is a real decision. Usually, time constraints and toddler fashion instincts take over and the fact that she has never gone to school in pajamas (note: I did not say she has never gone to school in the clothes she woke up in that morning) is an incredible feat in itself. My husband loves dressing up our 3 year old and I get it, it's cute. My daughter rarely chooses impractical outfits, and if she must wear her pink tutu skirt over grey fleece sweatpants then so be it. But in theory, the utilitarian in me is ardently opposed to the gorgeous jeans and button down shirts my husband would choose, the restricting dresses and hair-tugging bows in which our kid looks amazing, because it takes a photoshoot or an occasion or at least a weekend before I will choose style over comfort for a little kid.

(Yes, it can be both stylish and comfortable- I'm talking about when it's not. Let's also assume I don't purchase intentionally hideous comfort clothes, although with the little accent she still has going, I'm tempted to source my childhood "immigrant in America in the early 90s" pictures for attire inspiration. I have not yet acted on this temptation.  Largely because size 3T windbreaker jackets with fluorescent geometric patterns have been hard to find).

5. Thong diapers. My sister nixed this as a business idea and I no longer believe in it either. We may have missed an incredible business opportunity but she was probably right. Impractical.