Daria calls from that Sherman tank she drives, on her second return trip from the pediatrician in two days. Her children are squawking. Though Daria’s voice cuts out often, the kids’ complaints sound like they’re beamed via satellite straight to my living room.
Daria: I now understand why there are songs about housewives taking drugs.
Tata: Boy, you are a slow learner!
Daria: The baby had an appointment for shots but Tyler had a fever and we were going to the pediatrician anyway. So the baby feels wretched and Tyler’s got Fifth Disease.
Tata: Fists’ Disease?
Daria: Fifth Disease. First. Second. Third. Fourth. Fifth.
Tata: You made that up!
Daria; So we’ve all been exposed to it and it’s harmful to fetuses. We couldn’t go to the reunion, which I’ve been looking forward to for months. And this morning, I found a spot on Sandro’s back and back to the doctor we went. He’s got Lyme Disease.
Tata: You’re in Hell!
Daria: Specifically, a McDonald’s drive-thru with my diseased children. It’s medicinal. Don’t say a word!
Far be it from me to advise. Since Miss Sasha was born a great deal seems to have changed in the sport of childrearing. For one thing, “parent” became a verb. Also: electricity was discovered and signals from the Law & Order planet are received on mysterious talking boxes in our living rooms. Miss Sasha and I became two separate monograms in Hartford, Connecticut – at that time, one of the three poorest cities in the country, where I lived with street kids, landscaping rent boys, and the very elderly during a recession nobody remembers anymore. The three days I was in Hartford Hospital were three days I had enough to eat. Until Miss Sasha was four and I got a state job, taking her to the pediatrician depended entirely on whether or not I had enough cash to pay the doctor. So when I’m standing in Daria’s kitchen and she spills another nutty edict issued by the pediatrician, I’m always shocked that she listens.
Daria: Babies cannot sleep on their bellies.
Daria: The pediatrician said. There’s a special pillow. Babies have to sleep on their sides now.
Tata: You had to go shopping to comply with that rule, didn’t you?
Daria: I had a coupon.
Daria: No raw fish during pregnancy or breastfeeding.
Daria: Mercury. No tuna, either.
Tata: Aren’t millions of pregnant Asian women eating that every day? If they’re lucky?
Tata: What…what are you doing?
Daria: I’m writing down everything the baby does.
Tata: At this age, they…don’t do much, Dar…
Daria: Every sip, when she sleeps, diaper changes.
Tata: What if you had a job outside your home?
Daria: I’d have to quit.
Tata: Don’t you have enough to do without obsessive record keeping?
Daria: The pediatrician said!
Daria: I wish I could have a glass of wine with you.
Tata: What? Why can’t you have a glass of wine?
Daria: I’m PREGNANT.
Tata: European women drink wine during pregancy.
Daria: There’s NO EXCUSE.
In my brain, the doctor looks like Russ Tamblyn in Twin Peaks. Too many rules! Half make life harder and the other half make life less sensible. I couldn’t be this kind of parent. For one thing, I didn’t have the attention span for a second pregnancy. For another, I’m more of a “Bring Mommy the scotch, darling,” kind of parent. In fact, when Miss Sasha turned 21, Mamie and I sent her out for booze and porn.
After the divorce from the Fabulous Ex-Husband(tm), Miss Sasha spent Sundays with me and a then-internationally syndicated college radio comedy troupe. The comedians took an active interest in Miss Sasha. They quizzed her on geography. They taught her to roast a chicken. They explained vocabulary conundrums like what ‘blow job’ and ‘turning Japanese’ meant. She asked. They explained. I was grateful for the help. Their children should be grateful the comedians had an unspoiled little psyche to practice on.
Tata: So, what did you kids do while I was recording in the basement?
Mamie: I taught her to play cards for money and drink Zima.
Tata: That’s practically vocational training!
I may be an annoying Mommy, but I will make the best Grandma.