Marta Maria

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Location: Viljandi, Estonia

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How do you solve a problem like Marta Maria?

I have recently reached an impossible barrier in my life as a parent. Disciplining my child. All children are bad. Some are worse than others. Some are quiet as church mice and then grow up to be homeless people or prostitutes. Others are wicked and selfish and mature into successful politicians or clergymen. There is no way to gauge what straw of life your child has drawn -- all you can do is try to help them along the way.

Marta is a cute child. She is talented, entertaining, and energetic. And she is also moody, cross, whiny, and nearly impossible to discipline. If she wants bread, she gets bread. If she wants another lollipop she will get another lollipop. If she wants more Barbie Island Princess, she'll watch more Barbie Island Princess.

Are her parents pushovers? Maybe. The truth is we have a hard time making up our own minds on what to eat for dinner and things of that nature. Perhaps it is this perceived softness that has allowed this little Mussolini to blossom in our ranks. But now that it has occurred, how do you deal with someone who will fight you to the death over a lollipop?

There are three methods of dealing with Marta Maria. Psychological, Administrative, and Physical.

Psychological is the the most preferred method of parents. This is where you guarantee certain things in return for others, ie. you can watch Barbie Island Princess if you brush your teeth. You can have ice cream, if you take a bath. You can do X, in return for Y. The problem here is that the tired parental mind is not always as sharp as it must be to deal with the cunning three-year-old swindler. It's hard to constantly make good deals and eventually the kid gets what they want without doing the returned service. They wear you down. You lose in the end.

Administrative is the method where one action deserves a penalty. If you are loud, rude, pushy, hit your parent, you go and stand in the corner. If you act out, you don't get certain rewards, like Barbie Island Princess. In the administrative method, lines are drawn. If you hit your daddy when he doesn't give you a lollipop, certain punishments are handed down, like standing in the corner.

The problem is that sometimes this does not do the trick. No matter how many times you say "No, don't do that", the child does not cease and desist. This is when Physical methods are brought into your arsenal. For example, the other night Marta continued to bite my butt. She kept coming up from behind me and biting me. I told her no in as many ways possible. This was dangerous because I was cooking. I am a big guy and do not want to lose my balance. Finally I was forced to put down what I was doing, and spank her with three hard whacks on the rear-end. Marta started to cry, but at least she wasn't biting my butt anymore.

In the end a combination of all these methods doesn't seem to work. My child is still disobedient, and I don't mind it all too much. I mean she is a child, and *all* kids I grew up around acted like that once in awhile. I too had my temper tantrums and I am sure Epp did as well. Now that we are adults we are faraway from this childhood land, where denial of ice cream could be a factor in a decision for you to trash your room in protest.

It's interest seeing it all now from the other side.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


When the coin was being flipped by God over whether nor not we'd have another girl or a boy, I was hoping/wishing/praying for a girl. I told my friends it's because I have so many girl clothes. This is true. We do have a lot of girl clothes. But I also have to say that the little boys I encounter at Marta's school are totally psycho.

I went to pick her up one day and they were throwing themselves off the top of a staircase like they were in Mission: Impossible or something. I mean we are talking about the missing link between man and ape here: little boy. This is funny because I did all that crazy shit too. As a youth my friends and I would gladly climb inside an oil drum and roll down hills.

But now I have mellowed and my testosterone levels have gone down and -- as annoying as Barbie is -- I'd rather have Barbie on the TV than live with miniature A-Team down the hall plotting my downfall.

Yet every person I meet seems right to quip that the next child will be a masculine child. My grandmother tells me so. The old lady at the post office jokes so. The joke seems to be coming on me right? One out of three could turn out to have a pee-pee.

Girls seem so easy. I could have fourteen daughters. Marta, Anna, Maria, Lucia, Miina, Nina, Sabrina, Drusilla, Priscilla, Ursula, Tiina, Louisa, Lea, Mia -- see how easy that was? But boys? We never were even to find one measly boy name we liked. Not one.

You see, I wanted to name the little guy after men I admired, like Marcello Mastroianni or Caetano Veloso. I could handle a small, very expressive Marcello telling me that he was 'done' and needed his rear-end wiped. But such a designation would create some major eye-rolling across families, not to mention my wife would never call her little bundle of blue-eyed joy 'Caetano'.

She wanted Peeter. But my folks jumped on this one because, well, they didn't like it. They promised to mix dog food in my bolognese for the rest of my life should I move forward with Peeter. And I didn't like it either. In Estonia, Peeter is this old guy down at the pub who will curse, but only sparingly. In America, Peter is one of the boys on the Brady Bunch.

That's actually one of the major drawbacks of naming a future American: pop culture inferences.

For example:

George: Jefferson

Thomas: the Tank Engine

Justin: Timberlake

Ben: a rat.

Dick: Tricky

Fred: Krueger: Flinstone: Drop Dead ____

I decided that I just don't care anymore. But I know people like to write about these things. And nobody has written any comments on this blog for along time. Anyway, we decided to name the imaginary boy Federico, after my favorite film director. Or rather Fred-Eerik, because it looks so positively silly, yet somehow captures the stupidity he could inherit from me should he choose to come to this world. They are also family names, but I digress, this is a blog to amuse you, not me.

In the meantime, as people continue to make jokes about little Fred-Eerik, I will continue to nestle in my cozy home with my two nuzzle bears Marta and Anna and be happy as hell to be a daddy in daughterdom, where the big fight is over what color dress Marta will be wearing to school tomorrow morning.

The girls in my second grade class were right all along. Girls really do rule.