Hard times in New York Town


For no gladiator could put up with my life

Sheer terror

Please vote for the most frightening moment I have endured over the last few days (my life being a kind of boring horror movie).

1/ that moment when you realize that your daughter, whom you though was on spring break for two days, is actually on spring break for A WHOLE FUCKING WEEK. Which means you will have to deal with her for two more days, while you have exhausted all your tricks ‘swimming pool / theater / please go to your room, find yourself something to do and come back in three hours’.

2/ that moment when after pretending for 9 months that you didn’t care, you finally convert your weight in kilograms. Yep, 170 pounds IS a lot, and not just in pounds.

3/ that moment when you are alone for the night and you cannot find the remote control of the apple TV. And you are too fat to look under the couch, see previous paragraph.

* swimming pool when you are 9 month-pregnant: a moment of pure glamour.

Me, my two girls and our overweight

Becoming obese in three lessons (for kids)

Child obesity, here we are!!

1) Nayla went on a field trip to Dunkin Donuts with her classroom  (she pronounces “doughnut” slightly scornfully). Judging by the pictures, the idea was mostly to eat tons of Donuts (or Doughnuts). But she has had a pavlovian reflex of hyper salivation ever since.

2) the teacher maitresse made a game “what would I buy if I had 100 dollars”. Well apparently what Nayla is dreaming of for 100 dollars is not Elsa’s castle, or even Elsa (!) like her friend Juliette, but 100 chicken nuggets. The teacher said that it’s a pretty accurate deal. Well what I say is she didn’t learn the word “chicken nuggets” from me…

3) the pediatrician made an unpleasant remark about the girls being slightly overweight, adding that I should probably restrain sweets in between meals. Telling ME this… me, the artichokes ayatollah, who eats disgusting local products just for the sake of feeding the girls properly!

Me, having forgotten some of Charlotte's clothes and urging Nayla to listen to the pledge of allegiance

Allegiance to the flag

Today, like everyday and probably like most parents, I arrive late at school, looking odd and unprepared and unsure about what I might have forgotten (Nayla’s panties? my own?)

Today I am unusually late. So with two other unusually late parents (ironically enough, a Russian dad and a Chinese mom*), I get to silently witness what I had not seen yet:

Little children gather around little Nikolas, who is proudly holding the American flag.

And little children, mostly migrants, put their hand on their heart and respectfully pledge as follows: “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

* A Chinese mom and a Russian dad would probably have pledged different allegiances when they were kids

Kid suing his mother over poor taste in clothes

The country of judicial fun

Obviously, there is this trial. A policeman had shot two people, including a teenager who was fighting with his father (whom he shot in the back), and a neighbor who just happened to be there. Now he is suing the family of the victim because the shooting caused him “extreme emotional trauma”.

But this is not my favorite in terms of absurd trials.

This one struck me even more (if it is even possible): an aunt sued her nephew for 127,000 dollars: on his birthday, the most likely overexcited nephew sees his aunt. He shouts “I love you Auntie Jen”, and hugs her so vigorously that the auntie falls to the ground and breaks her wrist. So the aunt testifies that she does love the boy (who, by the way, lost his mother in the meantime), but she also does live on the third floor of a Manhattan building, and we all know how Manhattan is.

Sadly enough, she lost.

Sudden lockdown at the changing table

The lockdown

One week ago, I found out about lockdowns.

So a lockdown is a monthly or bi-monthly test practiced by the schools to prepare in case somebody comes in with a machine gun.

The protocol is as follows: all of a sudden, someone screams “lockdown” on the interphone. The teachers run to lock the door. They quickly warn the kids.They switch off the lights. And everybody runs behind the book shelf and stays silent. The classroom cannot be reopened unless the teacher is provided with a series of secret passwords. Therefore usually, the teachers and kids have to stay in the dark for as long as fifteen minutes.

This obviously made me want to cry. Nayla is three. That seems a bit young to find out about mass murder. I shrug, blaming their constant paranoia, but I can’t help feeling a start of panic because – well because it doesn’t seem that unlikely.

A few days later, I talk about lockdowns at Charlotte’s daycare. Her teacher knows: “yes, we do lockdowns here too”. Now I just laugh. How can Charlotte and a bunch of one year-olds keep silent for so long? The teacher explains: “we are locked down in the bathroom (behind Charlotte’s classroom). So we just give them our cell phones to keep them busy, and lots of cookies”.

So for Charlotte, lockdown = free cookies + cell phone = Nirvana.

I guess I have a hint as regards how America manages to create IRA generations….

Una mujer con uno jaguar (explanation from Charlotte)

Multiculturalism and kids

There are 14 three year olds in Nayla’s class, and two teachers. The first teacher is greek, the second portoricain, and each kid has a different mother tongue. Russian, chinese, danish or hebrew, “you name it”, as they say. I tried to explain the difficulties of bilingualism to the teachers, but they told me they got everything under control.

There are also 14 kids in Charlotte’s classroom, from 1 to 2 years. They don’t really speak. They rather drool, just like zombies,in several languages. The teachers all speak spanish (and most of them don’t really speak English). So during the day, Charlotte is solely exposed to Spanish. It took us 3 months to figure this out. We were stupidely bragging about her future fluent English, and obviously, apart from “papa maman”, her first word was “agua” (amazing: it also works for  “jaguar”).

Now that we are perfectly sure our daughters will master geopolitics and contribute to the israeli-palestinian reconciliation from their playground, we can involve them in our racist jokes contest …

Toddler having visibly screwed up an audition

Competition at age 2

I have finally read Wednesday Martin’s famous memoir “Primates of Park Avenue”. Her article in the New York Times went viral last year and her book made the columns for months. I didn’t like the book, but I did find some excerpts striking and amusing. Here is a particularly funny one, about auditions of young children at daycare:

Before we got our son in anywhere at all, there were applications and parent interviews and child “playdates” at the schools. The applications were easily procured (…) I scampered across the Upper East Side picking up manila enveloppes for days, then got down to work writing essays about what made my toddler special, what his strengths and weaknesses were, what kind of learner he was. Sorely tempted to write “I really don’t know yet, since he’s two“, I instead banged my head against the wall until I came up with what I hoped were some good-sport responses. Next came the playdates, which I grumblingly referred to as “auditions” because it felt more honest. They were generally scheduled during nap time, unfathomable until you consider that the schools were basically trying to exclude as many “nonsibling” kids as they could. Overtired kid had a meltdown in the play kitchen? Or smacked someone at the craft table? Or just wasn’t paying attention during story time? Better luck at another audition at another school. I will never forget the “playdate” where there was a single desirable toy – a brightly coloured play oven with knobs and lights and buttons – surrounded by a fess other, lesser toys. It was the center of a age of musical chairs rigged by admissions people who wanted to see how a bunch of tired toddlers would respond to the stress of confronting exactly what they were incapable of handling at that point in their development – the need to take turns and delay gratification and manage their own frustration under unusual circumstances. With no reward. (more…)

How to reshape your baby’s head

Last spring, I started noticing babies wearing weird head protection that basically resembled rugby helmets. At first I got really scared, because it made the babies look like they had just been hit by a bus and had to deal with a bad skull fracture. I felt awful for the moms and babies, and thus deliberately avoided the subject because moms usually hate the “oh god, what happened to Kevin?” conversation.

A few days later, I went to the girls’ pediatrician and noticed ads for cranialtech, “reshaping children’s life”. Once again, I had it all wrong.

It is just an efficient solution to reshape your baby’s head. I guess that originally, that thing had been designed for kids suffering plagiocephaly (I am copy-pasting the website but you’ll have to admit that the word “plagiocephaly” is really chic). But the market of moms wanting to produce a Gattaca offspring being juicy, why limit yourself?

Pregnancy – gadgets

How could I survive two pregnancies without a babypod?


For those who don’t get the concept (it took me a while to figure out) here is the explanation. For 134.81 dollars you get both a vibrator and the insurance that your foetus maximises his chances to become Mozart. Can’t believe you are still hesitating.

Children with inappropriate outfits (excerpt from a children's law book)

The panty-gate

I dropped Nayla at daycare. The weather was hot and Nayla was wearing a dress. I picked up Nayla from daycare. The weather was hotter, and Nayla was wearing a dress and a pair of leggings. I asked why on earth she would need leggings when it is that hot.

I got a logical answer. So we don’t see her legs. I stupidly said that that’s the whole concept of the dress. The teacher explained further “we are going to the park and she goes down the slide, so people can see her panty. That shouldn’t be the case”.

All I could do was stare and say “but euh, she is two!”. The teacher noticed I was apparently dumber than she’d thought, so she explained further “you know, boys look at her panty and they shouldn’t be able to see it. That’s why she has to wear leggings every day. Otherwise it is not decent”.

Apparently, being two is no good excuse. Apparently, you start being a potential sex prey from a very early age (and boys her age apparently could be potential rapists).

I tried to look into whether our daycare is crazy about sex education or whether the problem is wider. Apparently, it’s the whole country and girls do wear ugly leggings under their pretty dresses.

Yesterday, Charlotte moved in her onesie. I almost saw a breast; I wonder whether she’s going to get arrested for incitement to rape.