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Posts Tagged ‘toddler’

WTF Tapas

Lately L wants to know not only what animal he is eating, but what part of that animal. He became upset yesterday over ham. Not because he was sad that he was eating pig, but because he was sad that the pig’s face had been removed.

Along these lines, when he asks what animal he’s eating, he checks to make sure he understands by doing an impression of the animal.

“What aminal is this from?”

“That’s chicken.”

“As in bok-bok chicken?”

“Yes, as in bok-bok chicken.”

These conversations have permeated S’s consciousness and now whenever she eats anything, she says “bok-bok” and does spastic chicken flapping with her arms.

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One of S’s favorite songs is Wheel’s on the Bus. Her favorite part is the horn going “toot, toot, toot” complete with horn honking motions. In our house, toots, and tooting have a whole ‘nother meaning. (Can you see where this is going?) Whenever S passes gas, she excitedly acts out honking a bus horn and shouts out “toot, toot, toot!” It’s so cute, it makes me just want to feed the kid beans.

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I’ve mentioned before that S has nothing interesting to say, and yet she talks constantly. I’ve tried explaining to her what ought to be said aloud, and what is not interesting enough to say. For example, while driving in the car in the afternoon, it is not necessary to observe, “Me no see moon.” One need not list all the things one does not see at a given time. I answered, “Me no see elephant.” She is not learning.

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Conversation with T at 6 AM this morning (we aren’t the happiest people at 6AM):

me: I ordered S her own clock so she can know when it’s morning.

T: What? Why?

me: What do you mean why?

T: Can’t we just rig one?

me: Rig one? With paperclips, weights and rubber bands? WTF are you talking about?

T: No, I meant with a lightbulb and a timer.

me: OMG, you’re a crazy man. She can have her own clock. She’s her own whole person.

S: Ya! Me me own person! Me me own person! Daddy, me me own person! Me me own person! Me me own person! Daddy! Daddy, me me own person…

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me to T: Maybe you could take L to the market with you and he might S-L-E-E-P in the car.

L (extremely excited): Does that spell “guns in the car”?

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There was a time not so long ago when all I wanted was for S to talk. I worried, fretted and blogged about it. As everyone promised, she eventually did start talking. Now I have a different, somewhat predictable problem: I can’t get her to stop! She chatters constant nonsense from the second she opens her eyes until she finally falls asleep.

She is loud and has nothing interesting to say.

The unceasing high-pitched noise has me overstimulated at all times. I can’t think straight. I swear we could replace water-boarding with 24-hour recordings of her and prisoners would confess everything.

She does say cute things. My favorite is that she calls animals by the sounds they make. When she sees a monkey she calls it “ah-ah-hoo-hoo.” Obviously, I show her monkeys all the time. She thinks the happy birthday song is actually “happy cake,” but she can’t pronounce cake very well. She proudly belted out her version at my father’s birthday recently:

Happy cock is Papa! Happy cock is Papa! Happy co-ock is Papa, Happy cock is Papa!

What drives me crazy is the noise she fills all quiet space with. The talking for no reason, with nothing to say. We can drive for 20 minutes with her repeating, “Go home, Mommy? Me in? Go home, Mommy? Me in? Go home, Mommy? Me in?” The fact that I answer her has no impact on her continuing to question if we are in fact going home, and if I’m going to let her inside rather than leave her out in the car. (WTF?) Worse is when we’re not going home, then we have this conversation:

S: Go home, Mommy?

me: No, S. We’re going to the market, then we’re going to pick up L, then home.

S: Go home, Mommy?

me: No. First the market, then L, then home.

S: Pick up Unna? [Her name for L]

me: Yes. First the market, then L, then home.

S: Go home Mommy?

me: $#%&*@!

This can go on forever. Nothing makes it stop, except one thing that is even more loathsome than this conversation – playing a certain children’s CD, but only repeating an irritatingly chipper version of “If You’re Happy and You Know it.” I try not to do that until I’m considering driving into a lake.

So, be careful what you wish for. I wanted her to talk and I got it. Apparently she’s making up for lost time. God willing, her neck will grow soon and her vocal chords with it and the pitch of her voice will come down a bit. I’m not even going to bother hoping for the volume to come down. She and her brother have 2 volumes: shouting and screaming.

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Conversation over dinner the day after I came home from my spa weekend, proof that T watched hours Food TV with the kids while I was away:

L: Mommy, this is so good!

me: Thanks, L, glad you like it.

L: The pasta is cooked perfectly. And I love how the sauce is sweet and peppery at the same time. It tastes really good in my mouth. (This is all said with utmost seriousness, like a bona-fide food critic.)

me: Wow, thanks, L. That’s a really nice complement.

L: Yes. The sauce is very complemented.

On another night:

“All this flavorment is so great and awesome! I love the flavors and the, like, YUM.”

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S is fully potty trained. Yay! She now drops trou wherever and whenever she needs to pee. I have to keep a steady eye on this. Middle of the playground? In the library? Supermarket? Some places are better than others for this. Also, she is very independent and doesn’t always tell me when she’s going to go. I was outside with both kids and naturally paying attention only to my iPhone. I look up and S is running around with pants around her ankles. Soaking wet pants around her ankles. She’s not good at aiming, or pulling pants up apparently, but she’s perfectly willing to pee on the grass. Atta girl!

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Conversation in the car:

L: Mommy, did you know that peregrine falcons eat their own poop?

me: Really? Is that true? Did you learn that on Wild Kratts?

L: Yep. They eat it because they don’t have any other food.

me: Huh.

L: I mean, they have food. But they don’t have any money.

me: Peregrine falcons don’t have any money?

L: In their whole country there’s not enough money to buy a car to get the food home from the store.

me: And that’s why they eat their own poop?

L: It’s to survive.

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The fact that S blows kisses to me when she says goodbye has lost a little bit of its meaning ever since I saw her saying “bye-bye pee-pee” and blowing kisses towards the toilet as she flushed.

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I’ve mentioned before L’s favoring T over me. Nothing has changed on this front. On a recent Friday night L said to me at bedtime, “Daddy’s getting me up tomorrow. Can you please sleep or just stay in your room for a long long time?”

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S is proudly showing L all of her “artwork.” Instead of ignoring her and paying attention to the movie he’s watching. He hops off the couch and sits down in front of S. With each piece she displays, he exclaims, “It’s wonderful! That’s so beautiful! You made that?”

Heart melts. In moments like these I can almost (almost) forgive him for teaching S to say “Mommy is a stupid idiot.”
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Dear Evolution:

Why not have a boy’s brain develop at the same rate as his body? This would ensure that a child cannot reach the knife block before he’s smart enough not to get two sharp knives and hand one to his 2-year-old sister for a sword fight. I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this makes some sense, yes?

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Mom Who is Evidently not Always Watching Closely Enough

PS: This would also ensure that boys aren’t running around at 10-months-old. At that age they are certainly not smart enough to drive a body at those speeds.

PPS: Maybe you could also consider not having girls go through puberty until after high school? Surely avoiding teen pregnancies would help you achieve your goals as well? Just a thought. We can discuss this one at a later date.


					

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Turns out toddlers have Cockney accents. Mine does anyway. This is most commonly expressed in that she now runs around saying “‘appy!” all day long. It’s clear that she means ‘happy.’ People she says this to think it’s adorable that this little child is telling them that she’s happy. She says it to check-out workers, random passers-by, just about everyone she sees. Only I know the true meaning. That is, she is not informing people of her pleasant disposition, rather she is demanding that they sing “If You’re Happy and You Know it,” her favorite song.

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For those of you who missed the Facebook post about this, I think it bears repeating. Yesterday I took L to Old Navy. Normally, I try not to take him anywhere that includes indoors/stuff he can ruin/other people/any waiting, etc. But he was in a sweet mood and we were shopping for T’s upcoming birthday, so I risked it. For the most part, he was good. So good in fact that I didn’t even notice that it was quiet for about 10 seconds while I paid for my items. Turns out, 10 seconds is exactly enough time for L to wander over to the mannequin family, undo the pants of the girl mannequin and pull them down. When I exclaimed, “L!” upon seeing this he simply responded, “I just wanted to check on her bagina.”

Words complete fail me as I redress the fake girl and get the F out of there.

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I’m now worried that L is a future adrenaline junkie and I’m going to spend my life in anxious agony as he spends his like those guys from Jackass. This worry stems from his love of ice-cold water poured over his head. I’m talking, ice-cold. For some reason, when T gives L a bath he allows this ridiculous activity. L keeps the tap on freezing, and continually refills a large container with the torture water and then dumps it over his own head. This causes him to convulse as  his body copes with the insult. As soon as the convulsions subside, he refills the bucket for more abuse. WTF?

These guys have mothers:

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I may be a genius. Or maybe I’m just emerging from the rock I’ve been under. Either I just figured out a great little trick, or I’ve been unaware that every other parent out there already knows this, and how could I not?

Some background:

L is happy to have a bucket of water dumped on his head pretty much anytime, anywhere. The upside to this penchant is that he’s been happy in the bath since he was a baby. (Although he was decidedly unhappy in his first bath, if memory serves.) Washing his face and hair was never a problem. Then came S, who is quite delighted to be in the water. Is happy as anything playing with the toys and bubbles and washcloths. But woe be to the person who tries to touch her! And may the person who pours water over her head be forever damned!

I’m the meaner parent, so pouring water over S’s head is my job. My wanting-to-complete-the-task impulse is stronger than my feel-bad-for-miserable-toddler impulse. (This is not a surprise.) Luckily, S has had barely any hair until pretty recently. Not sure if you remember or not, but not long ago I made the comparison between S’s hair and that of a certain celebrity:

I'm not kidding. S was a dead-ringer for the Captain.

Good thing for S, her hair has since grown out a bit, into a toddler-chic shag do. Suddenly she needs conditioner. This involves so many more cups of water poured over S’s head. So much more misery. My Efficient v. Empathetic scale started to move.

Here comes the stroke of genius (or my personal discovery that the sky is blue):

I use leave in conditioner in my hair, why not use it in S’s?

This has changed my life. Well, my evenings. Well, the evenings in which I bathe my children. If you don’t do it already, try it!

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Poor S has a disadvantage. Well, let me rephrase that. Poor me, S has a disadvantage. She has L to learn from. Now L has many, many wonderful characteristics that make him a great big brother to have, but he also has many, many annoying traits and habits, and those seem to be the ones S is attracted to.

S gets hurt a lot while following in her big brother’s wild footprints. He’s big and coordinated and she’s small and clumsy. This makes what might be a simple climb, leap and roll maneuver for L, a catastrophe and blood-letting for S.

But what’s gotten my attention lately is not the constant injury, but the mess. See, S naturally is a neat person. She’s the one who puts other people’s toys and dishes away whether they’re done with them or not. She likes things in their place. She knows where her shoes are at all times, because she puts them away. It’s in her nature. But L is wearing off on her at such an alarming rate that it’s actually changing her very nature!

For a child who never liked to have food on her hands, she has come a long way down the slippery slope of slobdom. Let’s use yesterday’s painting activity as an example. Out of desperation to get outside, but unable to because of constant thunder and lightening (despite the sunshine), I set the kids up on the porch with some paints. I provided brushes, dressed them in smocks, and went inside for about 2 minutes. I came out to find this:

I think there's a piece of paper in there somewhere.

Is that paint on my house? Why yes, it is. I found this mess somewhat alarming. Hang on, I’ll be right back with some wet rags. Just don’t touch anything…

Oh, that smock was in my way so I just took it off and painted myself.

Think all that paint will come off the porch floor easily? Neither do I.

The truth is that I should have known better. This is not the first time that something like this has happened around here. Did I ever tell you guys about this time?

At least they're working together.

What’s that definition of crazy again? Something about doing the same thing and expecting different results? I guess I qualify.

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Another special day with L ruined by none other than L. I dropped S off at daycare, took L back home and we went on a long bike ride. Back home for an early lunch and then I took him to the movies. We even had popcorn and candy – a real treat around here. He’s been to the movies 3 or maybe 4 times, but has never had anything from the concession stand. So far, the day is a resounding success. But wait…

Upon exiting the theater, I turn on my phone to find 3 voicemails. S has a fever and needs to be picked up.

This is where L turns from lucky kid out for a great day with his mom to horrible, ungrateful, evil, selfish little bugger who’s about to get what’s coming to him. He doesn’t want to leave because he wants to sit on the arcade motorcycle game, with no quarters put into it, and pretend to ride. “I’m sorry, your sister is sick and I need to pick her up. They’ve been trying to reach me for a long time. We have to go.”

He leaves with me, but pouts about it. “I never get to do anything special.” (Yes, he says this as we leave the movie theater, while we are still in the middle of a special outing. WTF?)

On the ride home from picking up S:

“Can I ride my bike when we get home?”

“No, it will be rest time.”

“Yes I can. I can do whatever I want. You can’t stop me, Stupid.”

This is when I see some movement in the rear view mirror. For no reason, after no provocation whatsoever, L’s arm reaches across and does something to S which makes her scream and cry.

“What did you do?”

“Nothing, I swear, she’s just crying.”

S holds her arm, crying and crying. Obviously L is lying. I pull the car over.

“Tell me what you did.”

“I didn’t do anything. I promise.”

“You’re lying to me. I saw you.”

“You did? Uh, I did this.” (demonstrates pinching.)

What kind of little shit of a person just reaches out and pinches someone for no reason? A sick toddler no less? So, I did the only reasonable thing that came to mind: I pinched his arm.

OK, OK, so it was not reasonable, nor well thought out, nor done with more pain to me than him but for his benefit as a lesson. I did it because I was pissed off and wanted to hurt him. Just a little.

Well, he cried the whole way home telling me that I’m stupid and mean and that I’m not supposed to pinch back no matter how bad he is or what he does to S. And honestly, I’m not sure if he’s right or wrong about all of that.

He’s now upstairs throwing things down and I’m trying my best to ignore him.

So, will our great morning leave a lasting impression on him? Will he remember his mom as the person who goes on bike rides, goes to the movies and indulges in popcorn? Or the mean lady who pinched him when she should have known better?

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Let’s see, what have I been up to today? Well, trying to beat the heat, S and I have spent many happy hours in the bathroom drinking apple juice.

I have sung many verses of:

(To the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”)

Tinkle, tinkle on the potty,

how I wonder when you’ll pee?

You sit on the pot and you sit and you sit,

but nothing ever goes into it.

Tinkle, tinkle on the potty,

how I wonder when you’ll pee…

 

I’ve also sung many rockin’ refrains to the tune of “Let the Sun Shine in”

Let the pee come out,

Let the pee come out.

The pee-ee

come out!

 

All to no avail. The child is happy to sit on the potty, but as soon as she get the urge to go she either stands up and goes into the other room to pee on the hardwood floor, or she cries for her diaper. This sucks.

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Wordless Wednesday

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I am no good at potty training. I lose patience. I can’t stand the constant need to visit every gross bathroom everywhere. I hate reading books to a non-productive potty sitter who really just wants to get to the toilet paper and wash her hands. I hate faking enthusiasm at non-accomplishments like peeing on the floor or sitting on the potty and doing nothing.

This is why I’ve been ignoring S’s readiness. She tells me when she’s wet. She tells me before she poops. She loves to sit on her potty. She brings me the board books about going potty. She puts on L’s underpants. Considering that this child of mine knows about 5 words (hyperbole), I think she’s communicating pretty effectively.

So, today I made a half-assed attempt. It was a rainy day with just S and me at home together. I have a giant bag of hand-me-down underpants from my twin nieces. (Is that weird? I can’t decide if it’s gross or not.) So, on a lark, I put a pair on S. I said to her, “Now tell mommy if you have to pee.” About one second later she pointed to her crotch and said “pop, pop.” Used to just inventing what I think she’s trying to tell me I replied, “That’s right, you have underpants on. Just tell mommy when you have to pee.” Again with the crotch pointing and the “pop, pop.” Again with the “That’s right, just let me know when you have to pee.”

Naturally, she was letting me know that she had to pee. Since I completely missed her obvious signals she peed on the carpet. Ugh. Back into a diaper and off to Target to buy training pants which a friend recommended. These are basically a hybrid of underpants and cloth diapers. Back at home I put her in two pair. No more pee on the carpet.

We had umpteen cups of apple juice and spend most of the day switching between the potty seat on the toilet and her little potty. Training pants up, training pants down, a few naked baby runs. Still no actual potty action. She did manage to wet 4 pairs of training pants.

I know that in the grand scheme of potty training this was a just fine first day. The problem isn’t that she’s not getting it or anything like that. The problem is that I’m done. I still have not managed to get her to produce a drop of pee in any potty and I’m ready to throw in the towel and be totally exasperated with her. I know that this makes me a total a-hole, but it is what it is.

I have to find some potty zen. Remember awhile back when I got all zenned out? I need to do that again. Pee on the carpet? Who cares, Man. As long as we all love each other…

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There was a misinterpretation of results. Turns out S does not qualify for early intervention. The normal maternal reaction is probably relief, but I’m disappointed. Having her qualify didn’t make her any more behind than I thought she was; it just meant that she was going to get help and support. Having her not qualify doesn’t make her any less behind. She’s still not talking. We just don’t get the help. Boo.

The assessment covers 5 areas of development: Adaptive, Personal/Social, Communication, Motor and Cognitive. A “development quotient” (way to say “score” without saying “score”) of 77 or below in any area would qualify for early intervention. Average normal scores fall between 85 and 115 and S’s scores range from 86 to 110, well out of the range for intervention.

I was given some tips and tricks and told to call back if she does not make a huge leap by her second birthday. So, if you see me making funny sounds at my toddler, (“bay-BEE!”) please ignore.

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Thank you all for your kind thoughts, words of experience, etc. The evaluation was actually a lot of fun. S had a great time. Three women were here for 2 hours of high level toddler entertainment. The evaluation is comprised of 5 areas and they were only able to complete 3, so we’re not officially done. They come back on Tuesday morning to finish up and give me more information but they were able to tell me that S does qualify for early intervention.

I don’t have a heck of a lot more to tell you at this point. I’m happy that she qualifies and am confident that with some focus and direction she’ll be a chatterbox like her brother in no time.

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it again: the best and most surprising part of blogging has been the support, stories and commiseration I get from my readers. Not only am I lucky to have such great commenters, but people also send me emails. Mostly these are people who have longer stories to share or who can particularly relate to a post and want to reach out and let me know. These are (mostly) complete strangers to me and I love that they take the time to send me a line.

I think people who have a challenging L-like kid like to know they’re not alone. It’s nice to know that while I may have screamed at my kid and told him that his favorite superhero doesn’t want to be his friend, other people have done similarly crazy mean slightly less than perfect things. It’s also nice to know that while my kid has locked me out of the house in my underwear, other people’s kids have done worse.

I recently got a long email from a reader I’ll call K. She wanted to let me know that she can relate. Her son, M, is similar to L but a bit older. She also wanted to assure me that it gets better. (Yay!) She told me a story to demonstrate how M had a remarkable gift for pushing limits and driving her crazy.

K was very pregnant with her second child when M began artistically expressing himself with his own poop every morning. K tried every trick in the book (and wrote a few of her own involving tape) to keep M out of his own diaper. But he was determined. (Once again, good traits like determination and perseverance and even creativity suck on a toddler.) Finally she converted his crib into a bed in hopes that he’d just get out of bed in the morning instead of becoming a poop Picasso. It worked. Until one morning, when K was 42 weeks pregnant, (yes, 42!!) and she woke up to the sound of her friend in her house calling her name.

This must be disorienting. Imagine being 42 weeks pregnant first of all. Then you wake up to someone coming up your stairs calling your name. You roll yourself out of bed to find your friend holding your son followed by (can you guess?) a policeman! Apparently M decided not to bother his mom on this particular morning so he just went out for a walk. Poor very-pregnant-K was given a citation and investigated for child neglect, endangerment and abuse. Her house was searched and she had to undergo psychological interviews before she was cleared of any suspicion.

While I wouldn’t want to have gone through that myself, I’m a little jealous that she has such an awesome story. Do you have a crazy story?

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I think it’s hard to appreciate kids who are older than your oldest. Just like the mom who is expecting her first really has no idea what’s coming, I have no idea what comes after 4. When I see a group of 10-year-old boys running around on the playground I feel like I’m witnessing a gang of bad kids. Chances are these kids are anything but. I’m sure they’re well-loved, totally normal 10-year-olds and not a group of thugs at all. But they think it’s funny to get L to repeat things like “fart-butt” and therefore I see hardened criminal kids. I’m certain they have tattoos and carry weapons.

This under-appreciation starts well before having kids. It’s the same feeling that causes non-parents to think things like “my kids would never do that,” or “my car will never look like that,” or “those people are doing it all wrong and I will be a better mom than that, easily!” I thought I outgrew this ridiculous sentiment when I had a baby of my own and he did those things, my car looked like that, and I was clearly doing it all wrong. But I didn’t. My no-clue-ness just shifted, and continues to shift to children just slightly older than my own.

When L was born we lived downstairs from a family who had a 1.5-year-old boy. He was an adorable blur of a thing, always on the run, wearing mischievous dimples and leaving a wake of destruction behind him. He was the most wild thing I had ever known. His parents came down to meet our new baby, with him in tow. Did I mind if he came in? YES! I totally minded the germy wild thing in my house with my precious new baby, but I said no, of course not.

This was before our house was taken over and redecorated care of Playschool and Mattel. The bookcase in the living room still had our books on it, even on the bottom shelves. The coffee table was still a safe place to put a cup of coffee. We had no idea what a 1.5-year-old boy was capable of in such a setting. They were in the house for maybe 3 minutes. He ran past our legs at the door and Tasmanian-deviled the place.

This “terrible child” went straight into the nursery, still perfect and new, and ripped every brand new board book off the shelves, threw every brand new toy out of the toy box. His “negligent parents” didn’t even bat an eyelash. They didn’t apologize profusely and catch him and leave immediately. Of course they didn’t, I realize now. They were happy he was ripping apart playing with actual kid’s toys and not destroying our living room. Not yet anyway. When they left, I remember thinking how out of control he was. I seriously under-appreciated that toddler. 10 months later, when L started walking, running actually, I realized how wrong I was.

Now that I really understand this older-than-my-oldest under-appreciation phenomenon, I try to avoid putting L and myself into that situation. S doesn’t have any friends, unless she’s lucky enough that some other kid has a younger sibling. I can’t really bring L around moms who just have a toddler. I see their thoughts written all over their faces. They see L as wild, out of control, a little hoodlum. And even though I might think the same things sometimes, it’s not OK for other people to think it.

One day when L is 10 and he’s actually playing with a 4-year-old on the playground, I’m sure I’ll think that he’s being sweet and inclusive. I probably won’t notice that he’s laughing at this little kid repeating bad words. And I certainly won’t notice the dirty looks I’m getting from the young mom hovering nearby, thinking I’m negligent because I’m sitting and chatting to another grown-up rather than intervening and parenting my little thug. But for now, even though my car looks like that, I still foster the delusion that my sweet little L will never run with a gang like those boys.

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I found this too funny to resist reposting here. This is an excerpt from Ninja Mom‘s post called Toddlers: Your Mother Always Prayed for This. Something about this list just rings so true and totally encapsulates the living-with-a-toddler experience.

Toddlers exact ancestral revenge in many forms.

  • If your baby is a thumb-sucker (read: self-soother) you’ll rejoice until you one day realize that you can take away the pacifier but the kid carries that thumb everywhere.
  • If your baby is a pacifier baby, you will wait too long to take it away and convincing Susie that the baby ducklings at the pond need all her pacis will elicit the same reaction from her that beating ponies with puppies would.
  • Handing a toddler a broken cookie is like handing her a tantrum grenade.
  • So his shoes are on the wrong feet. Deal with it. You have a bigger battle ahead over the sleeveless top and dirty training pants he insists on wearing to Caregiver and Me Music Class in February.
  • You’re all ready to go to that doctor’s appointment, right? Wrong. Junior took a pit stop in the splash and play fun room otherwise known as the hall bath. And look, your car keys don’t float!
  • Parents of toddlers are to mental health professionals what year-end bonuses are to salesmen.
  • Even if the restaurant does have highchairs and booster seats, resist the urge to dine out with your toddler. You’ve heard the phrase like oil and water? Like IHOP and waddlers.
  • Christ was tested in the desert by Satan. You will be tested in the grocery store by a preschooler. You will discover that you are not Christ.
  • Young children love to play in the bath unless they are actually dirty.
  • Because toddlers throw all their food on the floor, animal shelters are able to unload dogs on young families.

Toddlers, the reason we start college savings plans.

Beating ponies with puppies, hahaha! Who thinks of this stuff? Oh, right, Ninja Mom does.

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I have two children and I’m supposed to love them equally. (Isn’t that what good moms do?) While I do love them both, I certainly don’t love them equally. There is almost nothing similar at all in my feelings for them, except that visceral attachment that keeps me up at night with worries about rare childhood diseases, teenage driving, freak accidents and abductions.

S is easy to love and I love her with abandon. I can hardly look her way without smiling, beaming. It’s all I can do to let her play or color and not scoop her up and smother her in kisses and squeezes. There is no challenge, no risk to loving her as much as I do (except the horrible and unlikely things mentioned above). I am smitten. This is epic stuff.

My love for L is different. It’s wrought with worry and riddled with frustration. He breaks my heart, little pieces of it all the time. As soon as I lay my heart out on the ground for him, he steps on it. I simply can’t have the same reckless abandon with my love for L as I do for S.

So what am I going to say when they ask me who is my favorite? Certainly S is easier. Her disposition is pure sunshine while L’s has some more complicated storm fronts. I sometimes can’t help but find myself wishing for two S-like kids. How easy it would be! We could have all the family harmony and good times I imagined having with my kids. When L is a dark storm cloud, I can’t help but wish he was just easier. Why can’t he be more like S? Some families get two S-like kids. Seems unfair.

Then I feel awful for thinking that. Would I really wish L away? Of course not. His exuberance and intensity are amazing, but that same intensity is also the wall I bang my head against daily. It’s the worry that I’m not a good enough parent for him. It’s the worry that he’s going to struggle. Why can’t he just be more like S? Why can’t he be more like the other kids I know? Why can’t he ever just acquiesce, just get along, just sit still?

And then I feel more awful for thinking that. Here I am, mom to two wonderful, healthy kids. Some moms have real problems. I need to somehow put away my image of what our family life could be, and accept and appreciate what it is. I am grateful for my healthy kids. But wouldn’t it be nice to have the kids come into our bed on a weekend morning to hang out, read stories? We could easily do that with S, but never with L. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk somewhere with both kids and feel confident that L isn’t going to suddenly dart away and disappear in a crowd? Wouldn’t it be nice to play a fun game and then let the game come to an end without the inevitable tantrum that follows? Wouldn’t it be nice for me to ever be able to relax in front of other people and not worry that L will hit their children, hit me, throw a fit, swear, break stuff or go ballistic in some other embarrassing way?

As much as I might wish for it, I feel like if L were the easy kid I long for he’d lose some of his awesomeness. The very same traits that give me the most difficulty, also bring the most joy. When he points his energy and intensity towards good rather than evil, the awesomeness that follows is unmatched.

So what am I going to say when they ask me who is my favorite? I’ll probably tell them that I love them both the same.

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Alicia is the funny and multi-talented blogger from Naps Happen and The Frazzled Foodie. If you haven’t checked out her blogs, do. Her kids are apparently narcoleptic (although she denies this) and she takes pictures of their various naps for (can you guess?) Naps Happen. These aren’t minor league cute nappers, like my kids who are adorable but generally in the vicinity of their beds. This is the majors: sleeping on stairs, buried under couch cushions, sprawled amidst toys on a hardwood floor, face-planted at the table. I defy you to look at these pictures and not crack a smile. With The Frazzled Foodie, she admirably maintains her passion for cooking and shares highly personalized recipes and stories of life as a mom of two (possibly narcoleptic) boys.

Why am I talking about Alicia so much? Because she has written a guest post for me. My first ever guest post! Here she paints a picture of a typical day in the life. This happens to be a WTF day. The kind of day we’ve all had where we wonder, how did I get here? How did this happen to me?

My special room in hell has been reserved. After weeks of poor weather, canceled preschool, and cabin fever, I am desperate to find a place for my four-year-old and my two-year-old to work off some boyish energy. I have brought my children to a McDonald’s Playland.

We are not McDonald’s people. William and Cormac do not ask us for fries or cheeseburgers. They do not know what a happy meal is. Neither of them actually recognizes Ronald McDonald, although I have read that he is more widely known among America’s children than Jesus. What my boys do recognize, however, is a big slide. What they are immediately drawn to is the impressive two-story network of multi-colored tunnels and plexiglass bubbles that fill this greasy-smelling room. Forget the Chicken McNuggets – these boys are ready to rumble.

They are, of course, not the only children who are going crazy for the indoor jungle gym. Roughly ten other children ranging in age from about two to seven are crawling all over the tubing like insects. Their screams echo off the walls of this amazingly acoustic, glassed-in cell like crazed fans at a high school basketball game. Out of the corner of my eye, I see an eleventh child come streaking out of the family bathroom in the corner. His mother chases angrily after him waving a wet wipe and saying something about hand washing.

I seat myself at one of the cleaner tables arrayed in front of the jungle gym, gingerly arranging the Happy Meal I’ve purchased for the boys and putting the straw into my mammoth Diet Coke. I scan the table to ensure I’m not about to rest my elbow in a pool of ketchup. The coast is clear.

William and Cormac have no interest in our Happy Meal, despite the masculine toy it contains: a red truck with stickers you can apply yourself. William has scaled the levels of the jungle gym with impressive speed and is already running back and forth in the tunnels at the uppermost levels, shouting unintelligible messages at me through the clear plastic bubbles that connect the tubes. He looks like an inmate at a hamster farm. Cormac is a little slower, which is understandable considering he is not even supposed to be in the playland until he’s three-years-old. Undeterred by his insufficient stature, he figures out how to shove his foot into the netting that forms the jungle gym walls, vaulting himself up to the next level each time. A woman behind me comments to her companion that she can’t believe that baby is making it all the way to the top. I briefly reconsider my choice to let him play there and wonder if I get an even more special room in hell for parents who let their babies break their necks at McDonald’s.

Most of the parents are hardly paying any attention to their kids, which is why nobody has noticed a four-year-old boy who is lying on the floor under the jungle gym stairs, eating a chicken nugget that was lying on the floor. The two women next to me have babies with them and are gossiping scandalously. Every so often a little girl with pigtails runs up to their table for a sip from her juice box.

An older woman in the corner is one of the few adults focused on the children in the gym. She is laughing at their antics and looks far less stressed-out than the younger parents in the room. Catching my glance, she nods at Cormac, who has managed to take his chocolate milk into the play gym with him and is running back and forth in one of the tunnels. “Just wait until you’re a grandparent,” she says. “It’s much better.” I roll my eyes in appreciation and liken my children to monkeys. She chortles appreciatively and tells me that William is a charmer.

My gaze is drawn to a table across the room. A girl who appears to be about five-years-old has come running to her mother, bawling. One look at her and I can tell why. She has wet herself and the entire crotch and inside legs of her pants are soaked. Her mother pats ridiculously at her legs with a stack of napkins and hastily begins packing up to leave. The girl is inconsolable, as if someone else wet her pants for her, without her permission.

I turn my eyes back to the play gym just in time to see Cormac have his own catastrophe. He runs toward the window of the plexiglass bubble in the center of the play gym and trips. As if it is happening in slow motion, I see his chocolate milk slide down the front of the bubble and leak out the bottom, dripping outside the gym and onto the floor. His lower lip trembles and I see his mouth form the sad words, “Sorry Mamaaaaaa…..” I am aware that nearly every parent in the room is looking at me. I grab a pack of baby wipes from my purse and crawl inside the bubble, uttering soothing words to Cormac and furiously working to wipe up the mess. He is somewhat consoled and exits the bubble with me, where I use another wipe to clean the floor under the gym. I turn to face my audience of parents and theatrically shrug my shoulders. One or two smile sympathetically. The rest are stone-faced.

As I sit down again at my table and hand Cormac a slice of apple from his Happy Meal, William comes running up. He has just come down the slide. “Mommy, my pants and my socks are wet.” With horror, I realize that the slide was the last location used by the girl who had peed herself moments ago. The girl is long gone but her presence is still being felt at the McDonald’s Playland, perhaps by several more children who are about to go down the slide.

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It looks innocent enough.

A cute, realistic toy spaghetti fork for our play kitchen.

However, it is not innocent at all – but the most diabolical of all toys! A true marvel of evil tiny engineering.

I promise that there’s not much worse at 6:50AM on a Sunday than meeting this with a bare foot. Good &$#@*%! morning! (Do I get any bonus Mommy points for the fact that not only did I not drop S, but I also refrained from hurling her across the kitchen?)

 

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‘Peace and quiet’ is elusive in this house. When I have it, I have a choice: relish it with willful ignorance, or investigate. My responsibility to keep my children alive always makes me investigate, grudgingly.

Today this is what I found:

My first thought was to take a picture and Tweet. (I’m that devoted to you guys.) Then I remembered the sharp scissors that I keep in my knitting bag. I found them lying by her feet and took them away, deciding that the yarn was a mess anyway so I might as well enjoy the silence while it will lasts.

But she followed me to the computer. Then back to the kitchen to retrieve the camera. Then back to the computer again.

Worth the 15 minutes of quiet? You bet!

 

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