Sunday, October 25, 2009

Slamming our heads against the wall has different meaning in October

Slam. Slam. Slam. Slam.

I peek into the playroom. I can see Ittybit’s legs pressing down on the bed of the metal dump truck … and then lifting up as she absently watches her brother’s favorite show, Dinosaur Train.

Slam. Slam. Slam. Slam.

"That’s irritating. Please stop it."

"Ok, Mama."

Slam. Slam. Slam. Slam.

No, really. Stooooooooop."

Slam. Slam. Slam. …

I swoop into the room and snatch the offending toy.

I am not mad. I know there is a great big disconnect between her mouth and her brain as she tells me what I want to hear yet continues to stare at the television set.

It’s just a matter of rhythm and habit.

Habit is the same vice that force my husband to call my cell phone after he finds giant puddles of bodily fluid from one of the two pets we harbor, instead of just cleaning it up.

Habit is what makes him irritable after I question him further, seemingly disagreeing with his assumption that "nothing that big could come from a kitten."


Is this going to be like the last time. … when you saved it for me to see (and clean up).

Another habit? Or just an unwarranted generalization that caused such wholly-imaginary organizations such as People for Less Unrest in Marriage (PLUM) to hire me, on occasion, to be its mouthpiece?

"I don’t do that," he protests.

"So your early morning discovery of a bunch of mutilated grapes with their sticky guts spread across a two-room expanse, which led to the late afternoon argument over why the mess was still there as you tried to elicit a conversation over which animal – dog or cat was the culprit … and the fact that I was the one who cleaned it up … was an isolated occurance.


I stand there blinking.

He’s right. I’m guilty of those sweeping generalizations that peg all husbands as use-every-dish-in-the-house cooks not to mention, failures at dishwasher loading 101.

"Putting your dish on the counter above the dishwasher does NOT count as doing dishes."

"That’s not fair. I’ve done dishes."


"And I’ve emptied the dishwasher."


"Where’s the metal wall?" we agree in unison. "I want to slam my head so it makes that annoying sound."

Slam. Slam. Slam. Slam.

I’m not mad.

In the grand scheme of things, these picayune arguments don’t seem enough to warrant a special investigation by PLUM or any other imaginary-advocacy group.

Yet, some couples have serious problems that might start with a repetitive noise from a metal truck and escalate to blame and accusations. Other couples might not be beating their own heads against imaginary walls, but rather throwing each other into real ones.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. If you are being abused, know there are places you can go for help. Visit to find out more. No one should be slammed around.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Anyone can help a kid have 'A Better Bedtime'

A few years ago a moms’ group I belonged to on the internet hosted an autumnal meet-up. In preparing for the fall event some mothers traveled across country to attend, one member thought it might be cute to dress our kids all up in the same pajamas.

A brand and design was located and decided upon — red and blue robots over a heather-gray fabric — and each mother started the hunt to procure just the right size for their kids. Our fingers drummed keyboards and fingered through displays in the brick-and-mortar stores. When we found, what turned out to be the slightly elusive design, we just plunked down our money not worrying about the size. Someone in our group will want them.

But it never occurred to me that any one else would.

Truth be told, I kind of thought they were ugly. Truthier be told, I have to admit, my kids sometimes sleep in their clothes. There are times they go to bed without books being read to them.

Such is motherhood.

There comes a point when we wonder just what good comes of having that battle; the one in which we find ourselves physically removing the ground-in-dirt and toothpaste-stained t-shirts while our kids scream NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So we just don’t fight it.

No one has died from wearing a grubby monkey t-shirt for three days, right? We’ll read four books tomorrow.

Mommy’s tired.

Again … we take such necessities for granted.

There are children most of us never think about, who wear dirty, ill-fitting clothes day and night because they don’t have mothers to clean, mend or replace them.

Some don’t even know there is a difference between street clothes and sleepwear.

Some have never even been kissed on the forehead and wished “good night.”

“If you’re a mother you can imagine what that’s like,” says Genevieve Piturro, the founder and executive director of Pajama Program, a not-for-profit children’s charity with a mission to provide new, warm sleepwear and new books to children in need nationwide.

Piturro, however, is not a mother. A decade ago, she was a single, corporate marketing professional who described herself as a workaholic.

“I really felt what was missing in my life were children,” says Piturro. With the encouragement of her husband, she decided to volunteer at a local shelter reading to children.

“The first night, after I had read, I turned back to see the children ushered into a room for bed. They had nothing. They were all huddled together. They were scared. It just seemed all wrong.

“After that I asked the staff if I could bring pajamas, and I went out and bought 12 pair. The next time I read, I gave out the pajamas. One by one everyone took a pair. One little girl just stared at them. She asked me, ‘what are these’?”

That’s when she decided she had to do more.

Piturro realized these kids, who were all entering the foster care system, were in a kind of limbo. “Every two seconds another child enters the U.S. foster care system. Many of these kids never had anyone to care for them. When they get taken from abusive or neglectful homes and transferred to new placements, they are also taken out of school. They are afraid and alone. They have nothing.”

So she kept bringing pajamas and books, and soon more and more people got involved.

“It just kept growing,” said Piturro, who says Pajama Program has 70 chapters around the country and has given out more than 400,000 pairs of pajamas since her initial dozen. By year’s end, she expects Pajama Program’s distribution to hit the half-a-million mark.

To make this happen, this month the organization has launched its 2010 fundraising campaign, “A Better Bedtime.”

The campaign’s aim is to bring awareness to the need for warm sleepwear during the “Danger Season,” the block of months between October and March when temperatures plummet.

“We need all sizes, from infant to aged 17,” says Piturro, explaining that until a child reaches 18 they are still wards of the state.

Visitors of are shown how to host pajama and book drives, as well participate in a more personal way by connecting with Pajama Program’s Facebook page and sharing their favorite bedtime memories and photographs.

“Donations of money are always appreciated as we have relationships with manufacturers and publishers that allow us to buy so much more with our money … But we know people like to go an shop, and that’s OK, too.”


Web site:

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Parents should really listen when they're talking to themselves

Lately it seems as if I'm talking to myself.

“Please get some socks.”

“It's time for school, please put your shoes on.”

“The bus is coming, where are your shoes?”

“Why don't you have your shoes on?”







And right at that moment my head twists around and pops off my shoulders, spewing a rush of venom and steam into the air … as my child looks at me in mouth-gaping awe.

This is better than a carnival ride, I see on her face.

She knows better than to say that out loud, however.

She's dutifully quiet. Later, I learn she was also sad I didn't give her a chance to get ready before I blew my top.

"I was getting ready mom. … I had one sock half on. …"

Maybe it's because I haven't slept through the night in six years. Maybe it's that my throat hurts and every word that escapes my lips rasps over tender flesh, reminding me with real pain of what a pain it is when no one listens.

She was getting dressed.

She was also dancing around the room, playing with the cat, chasing her little brother, poking around into bags she hadn't seen before and spilling her untouched breakfast cereal while I was trying to gather lunches, feed the cat, take laundry off the line and … well, all the other things we try to get done before the bus comes to swallow her up.

It's a race to see if we can all get out of the house at the same time.

Picture, if you will, a family of squirrels.

I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror leaning temporarily against the wall. I look tattered and frazzled.

Picture … rabid squirrel.

Maybe what irks me most is how children can go about their play with a mind much more elastic than that of an adult.

While we pride ourselves on being able to do four things at once, we rarely admit that the four things we accomplished are really only ever half done. I readily admit, I can't walk and chew gum.

Children, on the other hand, may not be listening but they take it all in.

While my daughter sings a little tune, dances around the room and plays with 10,000 tiny toys in her dollhouse I rethink speaking of adult concerns even in hushed tones. Inarguably, a few days later the questions will come forth …

"What does 'over extended' mean?"

“I thought you weren't listening …”

“I wasn't … but I still hear.”

"It means taking on more than you are capable of completing."

Write to Siobhan Connally at