The Hess Report


Saturday, October 25, 2003

Poop and Fashion Fun

Two more fun Lucy incidents that I forgot to add in the previous compilation.

What Not To Wear
The girls love to paint with "squirty" paints (acrylics), which are apparently superior to watercolors in that you can make a larger, more resilient mess with them. The other evening, they wanted to paint, so I went through the process of clearing the table, taping down paper, obtaining and dispensing paint, etc. They were in dress-up clothes, Maddie as Nanky-Poo from The Mikado and Lucy as Pocahontas from Pocahontas (duh). Anticipating the mess, I declared that they could not paint in dress-up clothes. Maddie ran off to change.

Lucy has just recently come in to a great love of playing dress-up, and really didn't want to give up the outfit. I agreed that she could wear it, but with a protective overshirt. Deal. Fine. From her closet, I grabbed an old grey sweatshirt sporting country angel artwork and slapped it on her. I'm used to hearing that the kids don't like something that they have to wear, or that it's too tight, or whatever. But I wasn't prepared for the following evaluation:

"Dad... I can't wear it...[gasp]... [near tears]... it's not... fashion!"

Okay. Apparently, unlike all of the other good moms, fashionista!Joy has not been letting the kids watch Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel in the mornings. She's been forcing them to watch Bravo and the original British What Not To Wear on DVD.

I swear to you, I have no idea wear she picked that up.

Of course, she wore the thing and ended up with paint all over it. Which gives me an idea...

A new line of hipster clothes, to be worn only with the most self-aware sense of irony...

Purposefully defaced country and/or redneck clothing. Picture a Precious Moments tank top with black and red screen printed guns and blood superimposed. Or a handbag with and embroidered God Bless This House with the word PARTAY in sequins over "House". Oh yeah. I'm going to make millions.

You have to love the poop stories
I'm giving Lucy a bath on Thursday night. Joy is at her book club, otherwise known as the "bunch of women get together, bs and drink wine whilst holding a book in their lap" club. The extraordinarily loud ticking of the bathroom clock (Bathroom clock? you say. Silly you. Everyone needs a wall clock in their bathroom. Don't ask me. I just live there.) reminds me that, Holy Crap! It's almost 8:00, and I've yet to put in a tape for Survivor. And yes, I still watch Survivor. Feel free to bite me, elitist entertainment snobs.

I know that you're not supposed to leave kids alone in the bathtub, but... No buts. You're not supposed to do it. But I did.

"Maddie and Lucy, look at me." They pay attention. "I have to run downstairs for three minutes. Maddie, keep an eye on Lucy. Okay?" She nods. "Lucy, do not stand up. Don't do anything I would think is dangerous. Okay?" Okay.

Blurp. Lucy laughs. "Dad, I stinkered in the tub!" Ha ha. Maddie laughs too. Blurp. Blurp. Ha, again.

"I'll be right back," I say. I'm sure you know what's coming.

A minute later, I hear rapid footsteps and Maddie shouting "Dad! Dad!" I hear no thuds or screams, so Lucy clearly hasn't cracked her skull open.

"What Maddie?" I'm anticipatorially impatient, because Maddie will be happy to call the FBI if someone even bites their fingernails.

"Lucy tried to stinker and pooped in the tub." When they make the movie, the camera will start to slowly spin out of the horizontal plane, drawing closer to Maddie's face. The audio will echo "...pooped in the tub...pooped in the tub..." FOV zoom into my face, snarling. "Luuuuucccyyyyyy!"

Ran upstairs. The tub looks like... well, you really don't want to know what the tub look like. Things were not coherent. That's an adequate description. I switch into Homeland Security biohazard control procedures. For the rest of the night, everything smells like poop to me, even though it really doesn't. Yum.

Thursday, October 23, 2003

All kinds of (normal) stuff going on here...

Bedtime

Maddie and Lucy are sharing a bedroom now. They seem to like it. Maddie put it best when she said "It isn't fair that you and Mom get to share a room, but I have to be by myself all night and so does Lucy." Good point.

So, after only a two month stint with her "blue bed" and big-girl mattress/box springs combo, Lucy's sleeping arrangements are changed again. Her old bedroom is now a dedicated playroom. Her mattress and box springs are under Maddie's loft, converting it into a bunk bed. All toys have been removed from Maddie's room. At first, I was concerned that Lucy would feel displaced, as the room that was formerly hers was now completely different, and there were very few visual modifications to Maddie's room. But she only carped about missing her blue bed, etc., for a couple of days. Now, I don't think I could get her to go to sleep in a room by herself. She really loves it.

Maddie loves being the big sister, too. After we tuck them in for the night, there are the inevitable whispered conferences. We barely hear Maddie hiss "Stay in bed. No. I'll take care of it." Then feet scampering over to the bathroom... running water... scampering... "Here Lucy." "Thanks." Very cute.

Maddie (almost) Misses the Bus

I was very proud of Maddie a couple of weeks ago. Monday, Wednesday and Friday she rides the bus home from school. Tuesdays and Thursdays, Joy picks her up. You're supposed to send a note EVERY TIME your kid is changing from the their default transportation mode (i.e., every Tuesday/Thursday in our case), which is a little silly, but that's what the bureaucracy asks for, and that's what we have to do. Except that her teacher informed Joy that we didn't really need to do that -- they knew the pattern. Uh huh.

First time without a note, and what do they do? Try to put her on the bus. If it was me, I would have always sent a note, because I don't trust people to honor their offers of exceptional treatment. But oh well. But she knew today was a pickup day. And so she told her teacher that she was not supposed to ride the bus. Her teacher (a maternity leave substitute) knew that Maddie's got her head on straight and asked the office. They said that they didn't have a note, so she had to ride the bus. Now, that would not have been a disaster. She knows how to get home from the bus stop by herself. And I'm home by the time the bus arrives anyways. But that wasn't the point.

The point is this: even then, she refused. She knew she was right and stuck to her guns. And she is such an authority-centric kid (first kid/likes/follows authority figures, etc.), the it must have been tough for her to do. The office left a message for us that she was waiting to be picked up and was upset. I got the impression that they were calling her an upset, panicked kid who was afraid they wouldn't get home. When I talked to her later, I asked why she had been upset. She said it was because she had known what she needed to do, but they wouldn't let her.

I wonder if she had a Huck Finn moment where she said to herself, "All right, then, Iíll go to hell " and told the office she wouldn't be getting on the bus. The school was annoyed with her, but I was quite proud. Now if she can just keep that going for another ninety years...

Lucy and her demonic narrative powers
We're driving home from the mall the other night, and I decided we would all make up spooky Halloween songs. I started off with the Teddy Bears' Picnic, but changed things around so it was under a full moon, with ghosts. The girls liked it. Maddie made up a song about dressing up for tricks or treats and hiding under your blankets because there are bats in the air. In typical Maddie fashion, she included a themed melodic line and a few end-rhymes. Pretty good. So it's Lucy's turn.

I can tell by her voice that she's all excited. "Okay okay," she says, "here's mine."

And then this demonic hiss of a voice starts... a only whisper a first... rhythmic emphasis on the slow offbeats... "i'm a MONster and i'm COMing to GET you," and then louder, with some growl at the back of the throat "and WHEN you're asLEEP all the GHOSTS will BITE you ON your HEAD," and faster and up into a shriek that's halfway between a velociraptor and someone having the nerves pulled out of their forearm "and I am a MONster and YOU ARE NOT!"

Holy freaking crap. I'm thirty-two. You all know me. I was freaked out. Maddie was too. I said, "Wow, Lucy. That was really good." And it was. Wow. The kid apparently has some kind of nasty in there somewhere. I wonder where that came from?

Lucy and the laws of the universe
Oftentimes, kids will not acknowledge that the laws of the universe apply to them. It is our job as parents to demonstrate that in fact, the laws do apply to them. One of the things you learn early on in biology are the basics things that need to be in place for us to declare something "alive." Well, two of those are the consumption of fuel and the production of waste. Lucy had no problem with the fuel bit. It was the waste part that she thought she could skip.

Due to good sisterly examples and, no doubt, superb parenting, Lucy spontaneously potty-trained herself shortly after she turned two. One day she said she had to go pee, ran to the bathroom, and that was that forever more. She has never had an accident in her bed. Going number two took a bit more coaxing, as it takes a bit more work, but within a couple of months, we were a completely diaper-free household. Whew.

But a short while ago, Lucy decided that while all other living things produce waste, that she, in fact, did not. She went on a poop strike. Even though she was regularly striping her pants, she refused to admit that "poopy had to come out." Oh, but it does, little girl. And it will. Whether you like it or not.

We're at the dinner table. She doesn't use a booster seat anymore, and usually raises herself to a good eating level by sitting on her knees. I see her kind of leaning back, a faraway look on her face. I can tell she's fighting it.

"Are you trying to make the poop go away?" I ask her.

Her face, a mask of concentration, dips a brief affirmation.

"You can't make it go away forever."

Another moment of silence. Then, relaxation, and a broad grin. She stretches out her arms like a David Copperfield at the end of his show.

"Ta-Da!" she shouts triumphantly. Oh yes I can, Dad. I'm the world's greatest poopstidigitator.

The whole thing didn't last long, though. Nature took it's course, with the threat of a doctor visit and the gentle age-appropriate explanation of what exactly an enema was. And let me tell you, we really didn't want to go down that road.

Punishing the kids so far hasn't left me feeling guilty. None of that "this hurts me more than it hurts you" crap. They've deserved everything they've ever received on that account. But Lucy has such an independent, iron-bound will that I dreaded even the thought of having to submit her to that. I'll punish the kid when she needs it, but I won't humiliate her. And that's what it would have been to her. I'm really glad I didn't have to.

So she's pooping fine now, and thanks for wondering.

Raymond Babbitt knew it. We all know it. But still, it hurts...
In Part II of the "Roland hates crappy organizations who try to sell things" series, I discuss how K-mart sucks.

I needed several things. Oil for my van, a supplemental humidifier for my ground floor, a sympathy card and a matte for a picture frame. Wal-mart has all of these things. I believe that Target does, too. Any of the dozen shopping plazas in my area, as well. But K-Mart, specifically, a Big K(mart), is a mile from my house, all downhill, literally and figuratively. So I go there, and all that they have is the oil. That's it. Man, do they suck. I can see them no having frame mattes. That might be a bit upscale. But the other stuff is inexcusable. Are they not in the business of carrying general merchandise? How is it more important to sell eight different kinds of vacuum cleaners and fifteen different kinds of microwave ovens than even a single humidifier in the midst of the fall season? Just corporate stupidity, I guess.

So should I be complaining about the uselessness of K-Mart, or about my own laziness and my foolish ability to return to a store that time and again has proven its complete lack of ability to satisfy, simply because of its physical proximity to my home? That would mean criticizing myself. So I clearly won't be doing that.

I need to characterize K-Mart as a person to be avoided. Maybe that will help me to REMEMBER NEVER TO GO THERE, EVEN FOR THE MOST TRIVIAL ITEM THAT THEY CERTAINLY WOULD HAVE. If Target and Kohl's (the only two department stores that I can be inside and not despise) were people, they'd be like decent looking, well-behaved, tasteful coworkers with a nice work ethic, who have some useful skills. Wal-Mart would be the crass, messed-up smelly dude that no one can really stand to be around, but he's just so damned useful that they can't get rid of him. That guy has everything you could ever want in his trenchcoat! Kaufmann's, Sears, JCPenny, etc., well, they're the over-the-hill people who don't quite get what's going on. They're not unpleasant to work around, and I'll borrow a pen from their desk in a pinch, but I'm not looking for their help when there's a deadline. The other folks: Nordstroms, Macy's, Sax. They probably wouldn't talk to me, and I can't afford to go out to lunch with them anyway, so what's the point?

But K-mart. K-mart is this completely useless scab that's been around forever. He was kind of innovative, maybe even hip for a while, as in two weeks in the fall of 1973. But the thing is, he's everywhere. He's in your face where ever you turn. And he kind of talks a good game. He wears a trench coat like that Wal-Mart kid. And so you think, well, he's got to have something useful in there this time. But he never does. And you're always disappointed. At least I am. Maybe I need to place into my mental shopping calculus an image of the Rainman beating the living crap out of Kevin Smith in his trenchcoat from Clerks, shouting "K-Mart sucks! K-Mart sucks!" over and over again. Yep. That ought to do it.

Friday, October 17, 2003

Apathy may indeed beget tyranny, but that hasn't discouraged SprintPCS from sucking.

The price for two cell phones with snazzy features and unlimited twixt-phone calling recently dropped below the level at which I said I'd buy it. So I did. Which meant that we had to cancel our service with SprintPCS. Joy had some extra time during the day (ha!), so she called them. Angry!Joy called me several minutes later, because they would not let her cancel. My name's on the account. Oooooo. SprintPCS cares about security. They informed her that if she was not David Hess, that she couldn't cancel.

So, like, if your arch-enemy/nemesis is a SprintPCS customer, all you have to do is call SprintPCS, give them your enemy's cell number (which of course you have, so that when you deliver the coup-de-grace to their industrial empire, leaving them with nothing but a smoldering pile of ashes and their own bitter tears, you can break their shocked silence with the ringing of their cell phone from which will issue your maniacal, triumphant laughter), claim to be them, then cancel the service. When I called them, that's all it took. Phone number and my name. We should put SprintPCS in charge of airport security, because they are obviously hardcore security freaks.

Of course, before they agreed to cancel, the "cancellation specialist" tried to find out the usual crap... why we were leaving (We're not leaving. We're not going anywhere. We just won't be sending you turd burglers our money anymore.), who we were going with (Leave me be. That's a personal question.), did we know that SprintPCS had great deals and...

And shut up. I didn't call you to get a sales pitch. She then informs me that we will have the opportunity to use our SprintPCS phone until the end of the month. Oh. The opportunity. Thanks. But I don't want it. As a matter of fact, I'll give them the opportunity to- er- nevermind. I just want to cancel now. But they can't do that. They don't prorate. Okay. I informed her that it was just one more example of how greedy and petty their company was, as such a thing was very simple to do, and one of the reasons that we would not consider them for future service. She was sorry that I felt that way. I was sorry that she worked for a bunch of thieves.

In conclusion, I just don't see how that's any way to run a business. When you are in a commodified market, and people have almost no brand loyalty, it is foolish to give people a reason to actively dislike you. When you can part company with a customer knowing that you'll have the same shot as everyone else to get their business back a year or so from now, why would you kick them in the crotch on their way out the door. Stupid. For what amounts to about 1.5% of the total revenue they've received from me? They will not get my business again.

I would encourage you not to do business with them. SprintPCS sucks hard, all over town.