Baby/Toddler Behaviors Adults Should Try

I’m not easily fazed by disgusting things my children say or do. After being spit up, thrown up, and pooped on, I can deal with bodily fluids without blinking an eye. My face has been farted in, my shoulders have been bit, and my nose has been picked by a finger that wasn’t mine. I’ve been shown the contents of my daughter’s mouth more times than I care to count and my son prefers my clothes to a Kleenex every time he has a cold.

It’s not that adults are any less disgusting. In fact, we probably have more unpleasant ailments and conditions than we’d like to admit. The difference is we deal with them in private. Suppose, however, we acted as children do, revealing our opinion and acting on our desires for all to see and enjoy.

Here are some comical examples.

  1. Stick your finger in someone’s ear while they’re talking to you.

I get it, the human body is interesting. So many moving parts, crevices and sounds. Just like the nose, the ear has a dark entrance, full of mystery. Who wouldn’t want to explore it? Well, most, if not all, adults. So, imagine someone’s reaction if you just put a cork in their hearing device mid-conversation.

  1. Feed an acquaintance your regurgitated cracker.

I could go on and on about food-related disgustingness. The examples are endless. One common behavior, however, is my son sticking way too much in his mouth at once, spitting some out, and holding a handful of mush up to my face. Take some, he’s indicating likes it’s the most normal thing in the world.

Apparently, my expression isn’t enough to convince him I won’t be sharing his snack.

cheese feeding
Force Feeding

He’ll reach his hand closer. “No thank you,” I’ll finally say and he’ll proceed to spread the pulpy cracker all over his high chair tray.

How amusing to be out at a restaurant and sample something you don’t like. Instead of discreetly wincing and swallowing the food, spit it into your hand, and offer it to another member of your party. “You take it. I don’t like this.”

  1. Completely ignore the person asking you something.

Perhaps one of the most frustrating components of parenthood is being blatantly ignored. “Maddie, do you have your shoes on?” “Maddie, put your shoes on please.” “Time to put your shoes on, Maddie.” “Hello, daughter? Shoes. Now.” “Madison Grace Crow, this is the last time I’m going to ask you.” Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.

Next time your boss asks you to do something, just ignore her. Maybe she’ll finally get fed up and leave you alone. Or maybe you’ll be fired.

  1. Wear whatever you damn-well please.
clothes3
Fashionista

I love when my daughter picks out her outfit. The ensemble usually has a few extra pieces, but that’s what makes them great. She often commits fashion faux pas, like mixing patterns or wearing too many colors. But does she care? Of course not.

I wonder how much time I’ve spent staring into my closet trying to put together an outfit. If I could just grab random articles of clothing and be done with it, I’d have more time to blog.

  1. Fall asleep wherever whenever.

Every adult’s dream, right? You’re tired, take a nap. Or, flip the f out and then take a nap. That’s even better. Go out with a bang.

sleep6
Zzz

I especially love when either of my kids is clearly tired, but denies it to the bitter end when he/she slumps over and falls quite suddenly into Dreamland. Oh, the drama that precedes an overdue nap is unparalleled.

Do you even know what you would say if you could just lash out and yell nonsense before curling up and passing out? Worth investigating.

So, even if these aren’t realistic behaviors to try, it’s still kind of fun to entertain them.

Read This, Your Belly Will Thank You

Of all the tales/lies/arguments/threats parents tell their children to get them to do something, very few seem to work. Some go right over their heads or, worse yet, backfire. Take for example, the battle of getting a toddler out the door in a timely manner.

After threatening to leave without him if he doesn’t put his shoes on this instant, the kid could simply state, “Okay, see you later.” And of course, as much as you want to, you can’t leave a toddler unattended for too long before he does some irreversible damage. If it hasn’t happened yet, it will.

Rarely does your point get across, or your goal met. More often, the intended purpose of the tale/lie/argument/threat is misunderstood. If you sense a story coming, you’re right.

In an attempt to get our daughter to eat healthy, Husband and I have taken to describing what her stomach is saying when she eats certain foods. If a piece of broccoli happens to make it into her mouth and down her throat, Husband and I will rejoice and make a comment such as, “Do you know what your stomach is saying right now?” (Daughter shakes head.) “It’s saying, ‘Oh, thank you! This is going to let you run fast and ride your bike!’

Daughter looks at us wide-eyed, not sure how to respond.

We keep going, because, hey, what do we have to lose? Let’s drive the point home.

“Your belly is so excited to share this food with the rest of your body. You should take another bite and make your tummy happy.”

We’ve done this on a number of occasions. Every time she eats a protein that isn’t a card deck-sized piece of cheese, we explain to her that her tummy is appreciative. Ecstatic even.

Three tiny bites of a hamburger in conjunction with sixteen French fries: “Your belly is saying ‘Mmm, thank you for this burger!’”

TM6
Husband and Daughter filling their tummies.

One lame slice of turkey hidden in the middle of a grilled cheese: “Yay!’ says your tummy. It’s going to use that to make your muscles stronger.”

This seemed to work (kind of) until we rewarded her one day with dessert and she said, “My belly thanks me for this cookie.”

Turns out Daughter’s stomach doesn’t discriminate food groups. We’ve kept up the charade, though. Somewhere along the line, Husband’s stomach and my stomach started relaying messages, too.

“I just ate these Brussel sprouts and my belly is excited!”

Yes, these words actually left my mouth in a serious manner. Yes, I was sober.

Anyway, this method started to break down when Daughter’s stomach started telling her non-food-related information. After going on an excursion with my father-in-law, he asks why Daughter mentioned her belly didn’t want her to ride her bike anymore.

Sometimes her belly doesn’t want her to go to school, or it lets her know she can play outside a little longer even though it’s getting dark. And wouldn’t you know, Daughter’s belly doesn’t think she needs to take a bath. Ever.

This isn’t our first parenting failure and it won’t be our last. And until Daughter tells me her stomach wants her to rob a bank, I’m not going to dwell on it. Instead, I’m going to crack a beer. My belly will thank me.

The Tall Order of Breakfast

Here’s how it goes. The instructions from my four-year-old on how to prepare her breakfast.

Mommy: Do you want cereal, oatmeal, or an English muffin?

Daughter: English muffin.

Sounds simple enough. But no, no it’s not. Daughter tells me she wants it in threes. Threes?

Mommy: What? Like, cut into threes?

Daughter: Yes, and I want cream and peanut butter.

Cream. That’s short for cream cheese. Somehow in her crazy realm of developing language, the name was shortened. It’s the opposite of our Saturday ritual: pancake waffles. They’re really just waffles. Why the word pancake was added, I’m not sure.

Mommy: Okay, so half peanut butter, half cream, and cut into threes.

Daughter nods. I pull out the toaster and insert the muffin. I use the bagel setting, because I’m fancy like that. The bread just toasts better. Try it at home. You’ll see.

Daughter: Mommy. I said I wanted an English muffin.

Forgive me for not having the intuition to sense you wanted this particular breakfast on this particular day so I could rush downstairs first thing this morning to start preparing it. I would have set my alarm three minutes before the time I thought you’d get up, even though you wake up anytime between 6 and 7 am each day. My bad.

Mommy: Did you hear the toaster pop?

*Pop*

Mommy: There it is!

Daughter: In a star. Peanut butter, cream, peanut butter, cream.

This is my fault. Once, after I cut her muffin into fours like a reasonable person, I positioned the sections on her plate so that the unoccupied middle of the plate looked like a star. It was kind of pretty, actually.

Now I have to do this. Every. Single. Time.

Mommy: Okay. Half peanut butter, half cream, cut into threes and in a star. Got it.

My masterpiece is finished and placed in front of my daughter on the table. Thankfully, she eats it and she eats it in silence.

Now it’s time to make everyone’s lunches.

breakfast
Boom. Queen of Breakfast.

Have You Taken These Parenting Shortcuts?

Time is limited. Sanity, even more so. That’s why I don’t feel guilty having taken these (hopefully common) parenting shortcuts.

  1. Skipped the shower.

    I love a good shower as much as the next guy…once I’m in the shower. I could stand under a hot stream of water for tens of minutes before beginning an actual cleansing routine. Sometimes I just don’t make it into the shower.

    There are nights when bathing isn’t even on my radar. To be fair, I have an office job and average about 2,000 steps on the days I work. There’s also the season to take into consideration. On a winter night when I haven’t moved all day, I’ll gladly forego a shower in favor of some other form of “me” time.

  2. Not changed a diaper.

    diaper
    source: http://www.whattoexpect.com

    Here’s the scenario: I’ve finally gotten both kids ready for preschool/daycare. We’re heading for the door. This is the time my son decides to take a dump. I can smell it. When I do a quick check though, it’s a tiny little thing, a poop nugget, if you will. Instead of removing shoes, pants, and diaper, I pick up the poop with my fingers and walk it to the toilet.

    In the back of my mind, this is okay, because even if the diaper is a little soiled, daycare changes diapers at regular intervals (barring any noticeable BMs). By 9:00 my baby’s bum will be outfitted in a clean, new nappy. Hey, it’s built into the tuition.

  3. Re-gifted a present.

    I do feel slightly guilty about this one. Usually, I become a bit giddy when I find a really good gift for someone. There’s a creativity component to gift-giving that brings me joy. Re-gifting is just too good an opportunity sometimes.

    When my son was born, my daughter received just as many gifts as he, if not more. I appreciated the sentiment, and these gifts made my daughter happy during a time of uncertainty for her. But we only need so many puzzles and activity books. We even have a few duplicate toys.

    Shelf space is limited. My capacity to pick up sh*t all the time is decreasing. Occasionally, I’ll leave a gift in its packaging and bring it to the random-kid-from-preschool’s birthday party my daughter has been invited to. Why not make someone else happy and me less stressed about having so much stuff around?

  4. Employed child labor.

    ma-cleanlabor
    Ah, the real reason we procreate. Just kidding. It is amazing, however, when you can get your little one(s) to do something for you when you, yourself, just don’t feel up to it.

    I was pleasantly surprised to find out both my children like to clean. More so my daughter, but my son has a ball moving a Swiffer back and forth over the same square foot bit of floor. Don’t worry, he’ll get there. Or else (just kidding again).

    So, when I skeptically ask, “Do you feel like cleaning the coffee table?” and my daughter enthusiastically responds, “Yes!” I seize the opportunity. Husband and I also have no problem having our daughter grab us cans from the beer fridge. It was a proud moment for Husband when he requested a Heady Topper and she brought one right to him. #parentinggoals

  5. Cut short/improvised/or otherwise botched story time.

    peter-rabbit-2
    Some stories just suck. They suck even more when it’s the eighth night in a row you’re reading them. It used to be easier to skip pages or even lines, but now my daughter picks up on even the slightest variation to the story.

    “No, all it needed was SOME frosting,” she’ll point out when Husband or I have left out a word. Tough crowd.

    Other stories are odd, or too long. I make variations, or leave out entire sections. I try to still make sense, but depending on my daughter’s level of wakefulness, sometimes I don’t need to.

Parenting is a tough and often thankless job. The road to developing happy, well-adjusted children is a long one. Sometimes a little shortcut can go a long way.

Fort

I just finished Room by Emma Donoghue, which is narrated by a five-year-old boy beginning on his fifth birthday. The premise is grim, but I’m not here to write a book review.

It got me thinking about how my daughter, who turns four tomorrow, perceives the world. Further, we’re snowed in today and, while we’re not confined to a single room, available activities are somewhat limited.

Here goes. A (half) day in the life of Madison:

Mom put the railing back up, because Dad said I fell out of bed the other night. This means I have to climb all the way to the end to get out. I make a big boom when I land on the floor.

Dad’s awake on his small computer, but I can come up on bed and watch a Sofia. Blankie first, then I use my muscles to climb. It’s the episode when Clover is freezed in ice. That would be cold. No thank you.

I try Rice Krispies for the first time for breakfast, because we’re making treats to bring to school tomorrow. It’s my birthday. I’m going to be four. Then I’ll turn five next week and then I’ll go to Kindergarten. Everyone is going to sing.

I don’t like the Rice Krispies, but I like listening to them. “Snap, Crackle, Pop,” says Dad. I want Cheerios with milk and tell Dad I want an adult spoon.

fortThe box for my new car seat is my new fort. I ask Mom to help me inside, but then I do it all by myself. Time to put stuff in. “Look, mama,” I say. She looks in and tells me I have quite the set up. “Do you want to tape the flap up so it doesn’t keep falling down?” she asks. I nod. I like using tape.

Time to get dressed. Mom and Dad say I can’t do anything else until I brush my teeth and put clothes on. I put on the shirt Mom wanted me to wear the other day, but I didn’t. When I show her, she smiles and tells me I look great. I also put on my fuzzy pink pants. Vermont Gramma gave them to me.

We’re going to make cookies and Rice Krispies treats. Mom hands me the sugar and I put it on the counter. Then she hands me the flour. It’s heavy, but not too heavy for me. We also need butter. I like peeling the wrapper off. I get to pour everything in and turn on the machine. “Two clicks,” says Mom. I watch everything swirl around.

I make all the balls and put them on pans. My fingers are gooey. I ask if I can wash the dishes, but Momma says no, just fill the bowl with water. Aidan keeps trying to climb up the stool. When I move in front of him, Mom tells me to be nice. I don’t know I wasn’t being nice.

Mom’s going for a run on the machine. I play in fort right next to her. I show her my letters I just drawed. “Pretend I’m not here,” she says. “Pretend I went outside for a run.” I tell her I don’t want to pretend she’s not here. She smiles. “Those letters are perfect, honey!”

I put more in my purse. It’s heavy. There’re the shaky things, Barbie, three cars, my jump rope from Cape Gramma, and some markers. Then I put everything that’s on the floor in fort.

I jump on the trampoline. “I’m running like you,” I tell Momma.

“You’re so fast.”

I am fast.

For lunch it’s peanut butter sandwich. I make it into a Christmas tree. “Here’s the stump,” I say to Dad. “If you eat all of your sandwich, you can have some raspberries,” he says. Raspberries are yummy, but I don’t want my sandwich anymore. Mom says she’s going to eat the crust so there’s no wasting.

Now I get to watch a new movie because Dad says it’s a special day. Beauty and the Beast. Santa bringed it for Christmas. I’m going to watch from my fort. “Don’t you think you should watch it on the couch in case you want to nap?” Dad asks.

Napping’s for Aidans. I’m going to be four.

Crazy Mom Thoughts

Today ends my three-week stint as a single parent. Granted it hasn’t been a full three weeks and I did get some breaks over the weekends, but man, what a ride. God bless anyone who is an actual single parent!

Never mind the absence of another set of hands to help out. What was more exhausting was not having a constant support system. Gone was the person to share the misery that is a toddler meltdown, or a sick baby. There was no one to accept my eye-rolls and respond with a gesture of understanding. How lonely to be with two children all day and not have someone say, “You did a good job” at the end of it!

crazy-chartThe experience was not without several low points, some moments where I thought I would go insane. In fact, here are some crazy thoughts that crossed my mind at some point during this challenge (and I do mean challenge).

1. How did I raise such a jerk?

This sounds harsh, but kids can be a-holes. My daughter knows how to be polite, saying please and thank you, and whatnot, but she has yet to demonstrate any real empathy. She says hurtful things like, “I don’t love you anymore,” and raises her voice as she pouts. Over the course of these three weeks she has kicked me, walked away from me, and been blatantly mean to her brother. I know all this is normal for a toddler, but sometimes I wondered if she’ll always be a jerk.

2. Can I sneak this chocolate in without getting caught? 

Husband and I try to teach our children good eating habits. We emphasize sweets should be enjoyed only occasionally and in moderation.

What happens when I’ve had a rough day and want to shove four cookies into my mouth? I shouldn’t have to hide my binges from my children. I’m an adult, I can eat what I want. chocolate-2-0

But, we must lead by example. Hence the need to strategically time my indulgences. And I did indulge. It was necessary. There’s a reason people eat their feelings: it helps, at least temporarily.

While sleeping with both kids in the bed:

3. If only my left arm wasn’t here, I could really get comfortable.

You know you’re exhausted when you’d give up a limb for a good night sleep.

4. As long as I’m in the shower nothing bad can happen.  

Scenario: both kids are in their beds. Last night Baby woke up just as Toddler was drifting off and I decided to forego the shower to get into bed and end this god-forsaken day. Tonight, I need to clean myself.

At first I figured I’d do a quick rinse. Once I was in the tub though, and the water drowned out all outside noise, I just stood there. Surely I’d be able to hear someone if he/she woke up. Right? I took a long shower and braced myself when I finally turned off the water. Thankfully, the house was silent.

5. Will this ever end? 

It’s tough when you’re in the middle of something to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I remember being in a dark place after my son was born. I was beyond tired, constantly milk-stained, and trying to manage my daughter’s new reality of no longer being a single child. Now my son’s first birthday is fast approaching.

Everything is temporary. This goes for the good as well as the bad. While it isn’t crazy to feel overwhelmed at times, I realize it is crazy to wish time away. I did have some wonderful moments with my children while their father was traveling, but I am beyond thankful he is back home.

maddie-crazy2-0

Pass me some chocolate. I deserve it.

 

Bag Lady: A Case Study

I know you’re not supposed to live in the future. Type “live now quotes” into a search engine and you’ll be bombarded with inspirational quotes about being in the moment, focusing on the “now,” blah blah blah. Good advice, mostly (and many supplemented with killer sunset and ocean backgrounds). Sometimes I can’t help, however, prematurely missing something that’s happening in the present (i.e. something that will be absent in the future that I will long to return).

Allow me to explain. For over a year now, my daughter has taken a liking to placing seemingly unrelated objects into bags. I use the term “bag” loosely, for this includes purses, lunch boxes, toiletries travel cases, etc. Use your imagination. Anyway, at times I get annoyed when I trip over a long-forgotten tote that should have been picked up days ago. Usually, though, I become excited to peek inside and see what interested my daughter enough to collect.

There’s always always something in there that makes me chuckle. My immediate thought is, Oh, I’m going to miss finding random shit like this around the house. Who knows how long Madison will find joy in this activity, so the other day I decided to walk around and photograph all the bags I found. Then I tried to analyze the findings, just for fun. This way, after she’s long since lost interest in being a bag lady, I’ll have a record of this cherished memory.

Here are the results.

Bag 1: The Roche Brothers Bag

bag 1

Contents: These treasures, which include a book of mortgage payment stubs, seven paper plates, and the cd insert for Beastie Boys Anthology: The Sounds of Science, were hanging out in a brown paper grocery bag in the middle of the family room. These bags always contain a variety of goodies, since there’s plenty of room to hoard countless objects.

Interpretation: Maddie is planning a road trip to Jurassic Park. Note the dinosaur and music themes. She also included reading material for down time, disposable dinnerware for meals on the road, and lotion for those dry hotel rooms. She must’ve thought the mortgage stubs were checks for all her expenses. Seriously, Maddie, who takes checks nowadays?

Bag 2: The Lululemon Tote

bag 3Contents: This chick loves her pom poms. It’s probably hard to tell, but the toy car in Bag 1 has yellow and purple pom poms as passengers. These fuzzy devils have found their way into every nook of the house. Also, an honorable mention for my husband’s childhood fanny pack (I can barely type that without giggling). Not much else besides a couple of Lego’s, a yellow flower crayon, and some crumbled paper.

Interpretation: This one is tough. My ultimate guess is she’s been bartering goods for art supplies. She’s already traded some pretty cool things for that crayon and obviously the colored cotton balls. There’s not much else to trade, and sadly, no one seems to want a primary-colored dignity pack or a reusable tote from a company that shames women for having thighs that touch. Keep trying, Hun.

Bag 3: The Old Lunchbox

bag 2Contents: A toy peach, Brookstone mini binoculars, some dolls, Mommy’s old iPhone, some pens, and a pretend beeper from her doctor’s kit.

Interpretation: Clearly, she’s not going to lunch. I think she’s involved with Doctors Without Borders and is taking on some missions. Why else would she need two forms of communication? An insulated cooler (think blood donations, people)? The baby, Glow Worm, and Muppet are for practicing her medical skills. She’s dedicated to taking thorough notes and staying properly nourished while on duty.

bag lady
Bag Lady at age 2

It’s always an adventure when you attempt to travel into the mind of a child. Perhaps there’s more meaning in these bags than I know. Perhaps she just grabbed whatever was lying around. I’m not sure, but that’s beside the point. Sadly, I won’t know the last bag is the last one when I find it. I’ll always hope there’s another one waiting for me. Until that day comes, I will enjoy inspecting every bag I find around the house for what my daughter obviously thinks of as treasures. To me, they’re treasures, too.