Friday, March 25, 2011

R.I.P. Fishy The Fish Fish

"The third floor has a lot of great stuff.  But go to your left when you get in, not the right."
      "There's goldfish!"
This was the scene at a kids' carnival a couple weeks ago where mini got her very first pet.  After successfully throwing a football through a hole, she was handed a plastic bag containing water and a tiny, orange, slow-moving goldfish.  She immediately named him...'s coming.....

wait for it....


Fishy didn't look like he was going to make it home.  But mini was so excited, she insisted we stop by the pet store on the way home to get a proper home for him.

Horrible mother confession time: knowing full well that carnival fish never last more than a day we dragged out the purchase, hoping to avoid blowing $25 on fish accouterments that would not be needed for more than a day.   So we stalled.
"Ooh, a toy store! Let's stop in the toy store!  We need to get your classmate a birthday present!  How lucky are you today!"
Ah,  the old "distract them by luring them into a toy store" trick. Works every time.

We didn't stop there though. No, we conveniently missed the bus by just a minute, accidentally got off one stop late, all in an effort to avoid this additional purchase.  And Fishy was looking paler by the minute.

Sadly, Poker Chick's ruse ran out and she did, in fact have to purchase a fish bowl.  And food.  And fish bowl cleaners.  And, of course, multicolored gravel.  No self-respecting city fish would live without.
Behold: Fishy in his new pied-a-terre.

So she did what any guilt-ridden mother would do at this point, she celebrated Fishy's homecoming but warned Mini that goldfish don't live long, especially carnival fish.  It became a teaching moment, a science lesson, about how everything is food for someone else, and small fish are really just made to be food for bigger fish.  So they're not supposed to live long.  Awesome.  Using the old educational route to alleviate guilt. 

Fishy thrived in her new luxury home.  Every morning Mini woke, sparkle in her eye, and ran to the fishbowl.

"Fishy's still alive!!!!"
she'd exclaim.

After a few days of this, we all got kind of used to Fishy.  Other kids' fish died off, but Fishy survived.  We made it to the one week.  Changed the fishbowl water.  And Fishy made it through.  A few days later, Fishy was still swimming around happily.  In fact, Fishy was looking downright sprightly.  Yes, sprightly.

So it was shocking even to Poker chick herself that when the nanny finally discovered Fishy floating in that horrible side-down position in the bowl, who was the most upset? Yes, yours truly.  The hypocritical mother.  All that stress worrying about mini sobbing in her room was clearly wasted.  Mini enjoyed the whole pet-owning experience, but was equally comfortable relinquishing her fish-feeding responsibilities.

What's interesting about this story is that it has Poker Chick wondering if the carnival scene would have played out differently in the suburbs.  Do you welcome a fish when you have a yard and dirt?  Do only city peeps cringe and run for their lives when they see fish offered as prizes and warn each other promptly?  We'd love to hear from our city and suburb friends to see if this theory holds up.

So R.I.P. Fishy.  Here's hoping you're in fishy heaven, enjoying that SpongeBob Squarepants "diver" Mini wanted that we were too cheap to buy you.

In the meantime, one thing was clear: joke was on mom, who wept like a little baby at the loss of Fishy.  He was a good fish.  Really.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Do you have the right to raise an obnoxious kid?

As this video demonstrates, parents are really upset about having to make some accommodations for a first grader's food allergies at school.

Poker Chick has been reading about this a bit lately and has seen their grievances. Before you dismiss them, you have to admit they kind of have a point. If our kid were the one who was inconvenienced we'd be up in arms too. Think about it from the other kids' perspective:
  • Having to take a minute after food to wash your hands is annoying. You get less recess or study time, and you miss out on all those fun sick days with less germs.
  • Washing your mouth out with water?  What fun is that?  Who wants a clean mouth feeling? Besides, more cavities means more dentist time, which means more sick days. Also, they have cool video games in the waiting room.
  • It must really suck to not be able to eat your favorite lunch every day.  You've always gotten what you wanted.  Why change it now? 
  • "Compassion" is a really confusing word and really hard to pronounce.  Learning how to be considerate of others is no fun.  Dodge ball?   Much funner.
  • If they let those annoying allergy kids go to school then what's next? Having to play with kids in wheelchairs? Imagine what that's going to do to your basketball team and chance at scholarship.
  • Mommy and Daddy stuck a picket sign in your hand, and you'll lose your favorite time with Max and Ruby if you don't listen.
So when you see this video, yes a lot has been made about the right of a poor 6 year old girl to attend school without being ostracized for the little inconveniences to her classmates to keep her safe.  But really, who's fighting for these other kids' rights?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Egg-Free And Nut-Free Holidays

Hamentaschen, my idea.  Crown - all mini.

More Than Just A Laugh

There's a popular article from Thursday's New York Times making the rounds called "Don't Call Me, I Won't Call You".

This sounds shockingly similar to the article we posted on February 5th titled, "Are Phones Becoming Obsolete?".  While they may have one-upped us on the title, we're seeing a trend here.

This feels eerily similar to the time we made an early statement of hot Snuggie sales before AdAge declared them a winner.

You can fill in your own last line here.  You know where this is going.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What Us City Peeps Are Missing Out On

Maybe you missed it?

According to this article from the NY Times Magazine, if you think you're living a boring suburban life, you're in good company.

See, those of us with "boring" suburban lives (yes, we're throwing ourselves here because even in an urban setting if you have kids the routine isn't that different)  - those of us with these lives do all sorts of pedestrian things.   Including Mike Tyson.  Look at a typical day for this suburban father of three.  His day looks just like ours, we do many of the same things.  For instance:

We walk around the block.
We read.
We change diapers.
We watch movies.
We work out.
We raise homing pigeons.
We get daily massages.
We get regular calls from our publicist.
We no longer get regular paychecks, except for huge money for speaking gigs and cameos in movies like "The Hangover Part II".

Wait a second.....

Parts in Vegas movies? Massages? No job to go to? Daily walks? Time to read - with three children?

If this is the simple suburban life, we should seriously start contemplating a move.  Stay tuned for our next post, which may well be brought to you from "[Mis]adventures of an Ad Girl Who Used to Live in New York". 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

First Grader in Center of Food Allergy War

Posting this because it's an important controversy.  Makes me ill to see this happening.  Threats to put peanut oil in a first grader's food?  Make no mistake, this is now a civil rights issue, peeps.

Please read this to get an understanding of what parents are up against.  Use this reminder of how ugly the hate and pushback can be to pat yourself on the back for being a bigger person than these peeps.   

Actual sign from parents picketing at Tampa elementary school
Are you sick yet?  You can read more here:

Lighter posts coming soon, we promise.  But this is important.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Spam Gets Smarter

Professional spammers have clearly taken some lessons in behavioral marketing, optimizing their "messages" by target audience.  For example, they know that Moms are the single largest and most influential group in the blogosphere, so if the King of Nigeria is out there with his life changing news he might need to tailor his message to fit in a little better.

He must be learning because the spam is better vs. what it used to be.

For example, the comment below, which Poker Chick received today:

 Hey Fellas!  Those of you that know us know that for a nice and dealing with my own child's negative behavior.  They were only pretty much driving me ridiculous at all times, i didn't know what to do or even what to tell them.  A few weeks ago my spouse and I finally decided to get to the base of it and discover a solution that might work.  I searched each and every website as well as blog i really could possibly discover on the subject and lastly i found the best solution.  If any of you happen to be having similar issues with your children you can Private Message me.  On second imagined i will merely give you the websites i discovered on the topic to help you possibly read it and repair your child too.  Thanks for experiencing my rant. [insert obviously fake website which Poker Chick has not included as she does not want to support these peeps]

Note the technique used to build this spam, scientifically called "computer finds most common words on posts and puts them together in a sentence".  Now imagine this comment landing in the box of a poor unsuspecting mom whose baby hasn't slept in 3 months and just learned how to headbutt and is really "driving me ridiculous".  She might, just might, accidentally let it pass as legitimate.  And then the world will see their comment and the link to their wares!!! Mwah, ha ha...

Fortunately, if you're writing a blog, you probably also know how to spell.  And you also have a brain, and no desire to "repair your child".  And if even that fails, there's our secret weapon which is always a step ahead.  It's called a SPAM FILTER.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Yes I'm neurotic, now please stop rolling your eyes: A plea from a food allergy mom

This may come as a shock to you, but I am quite neurotic.  While I hate to stereotype, I think it's an unspoken prerequisite of being a New Yorker and (genetically speaking) being a Jewish mother does not exactly help.  And my Upper East Side address gives me bonus points in neuroses.  I am so neurotic, in fact, that even my most neurotic friends feel comfortable leaving their children alone with me.  That's how neurotic I am.

So when I express concern over the tiniest amount of cross-contamination in managing my child's food allergies, I understand the tendency towards skepticism.  After all, it sounds ridiculous to worry about using a particular blender to make soup when my child was only tasting half a bite of the soup anyway and the blender was washed with soap and water earlier that day.  Maybe I was taking it too far?  This was pointed out to me and my worries were dismissed as being overly neurotic.  I fought my instinct to stubbornly put my foot down and felt like crap as I second-guessed myself and wondered whether I needed to seek professional help for my neuroses.

I realized my instinct had been right about 30 minutes later when my daughter was crying from stomach pain and itching a single hive that was covering her entire forearm and getting angrier by the minute.

We were lucky, but I should have known better. 
Now, it sounds worse than it actually was.  We were fortunate that this was extremely mild and after watchful waiting it went away without even Benadryl.  But it just as easily could have gone the other way.  Once you have a reaction, there's no predicting just how serious it will be.  And my imagination instantly wandered to how would the situation have been different if she were in school?  After all, the reaction was so mild, anyone else would likely not have picked up on it at all.  Which means it would have been allowed to progress untreated if it did, in fact, get worse.

It had been a while since her last reaction, and I think it's a little like childbirth in that in hindsight you think to yourself "What's the big deal? It wasn't all that bad."

This incident brought the dangers back to reality.  I was reminded of the time she nearly passed out after eating a bite of pancake in a batch that had one egg in the entire batter.  I remembered the time her whole body erupted in hives after eating cheese that was picked up with tongs that had touched hummus which contained tahini (sesame paste).

But most of all, I was reminded that I AM RIGHT, DAMMIT.

The decision we made to send our daughter to private school after our assigned public school was completely hostile to our requests for epipens/training to keep our daughter safe?  Completely founded.  I remember after months of trying to get them to understand, doing everything the right way, we realize that the little trust we had was eroded so badly that no amount of accommodations they could be forced to make would make us feel comfortable.  There's no scientific way to explain it other than they just didn't "get it".  And in my experience, that is more dangerous than any other risk there is.

After this incident, and after reading about kids in the US and the UK that recently had reactions at school that tragically could have had better outcomes with proper preparation, I'm kicking myself over and over for letting myself get swept away with the skeptics, for starting to listen to the "is that really necessary?" eyerolls I've gotten over the years.  I'm reminding myself that no matter who thinks I'm crazy there's no substitute for maternal instinct.

So, to everyone who needs to accommodate us in one way or another, my message is: just give me the benefit of the doubt.  If it's all the same to you, don't question why I'm asking you to order pizza from one restaurant vs. another when they seem exactly the same to you.  Don't fight back when I ask you to switch your usual rice medley brand with another when they have the exact same ingredients.  Trust me when I say the store brand is not the same when it comes to food allergies.  Indulge me without judgment when I ask you not to use that blender.  Let it go when I politely ask you to buy packaged food instead of baking, no matter how safe you want to make your recipe.  Better yet, let me make it for you.  And to all the school administrators, bureaucrats, and social workers I've had to deal with these past six months, next time a mother raises the red flag and tells you I am scared to death to send my kid to school for even one day, you better damned well listen. 

The bottom line is you may never know whether or not I'm right or need to be committed.  But so what?  Why take the risk?

Just let it go.  Assume I'm right and everyone will be happy.   Come to think of it, think that advice should apply generally to mothers everywhere.

**Post-script: This article is intended for skeptics and even well-meaning people who simply don't understand.  I feel the need to add a caveat here that many people, including our new school, DO get it, and we are always so grateful and appreciative of those that do.