10 Observations About Human Anatomy According To My 3 Year Old

I try to be completely up front and honest with my kid about bodies and anatomy and how things work. When she asks why her body makes hair, I tell her. When she asks where poop comes from, I tell her. She wants to know how babies get inside mommies? I say, “Beer.” But now that she is three, she has decided she’s smarter than me, wiser than me and the definitive source for all information on everything. Especially health, wellness and anatomy.  Here is another post we can all view as Exhibit 35359938 of reasons not to teach your child to talk.

1.

“Mom, you feeding the baby with your milk bellies?”

“They are called breasts.”

“No, dey milk bellies. I have some. They have rainbow milk.”

2.

“Mom, you milk bellies hanging down, down.”

3.

“Mom, guess what! My ‘testines making my chocolate milk into poo poo! Dat so exciting.”

4.

“Baby Jude sometimes he spritz like a whale.”

5.

“You have large ‘testines. I have large ‘testines. Princesses have large ‘testines. Daddy has large ‘testines. We all da same.”

6.

“Sometimes my booty just want to shake itself.”

7.

“I hab baby Jesus in my belly. He comin’ out! Wet’s go to da hospigal!”

8.

“How do babies get out?”

“Your vagina.”

“No, silly. You poop them out!”

9.

Me: “Miss Tara had her baby!”

“Did she poop it out? Is it named poop?”

10.

“Hey mom, let me smell you bum bum. Phew. Dat so stinky. You need to change you diaper.”

What SAHMs Say v. What They Mean

SAHM2A recent Pew survey shows that there has been an increase in the number of stay at home moms (SAHM for the uninitiated) in America. Specifically, 29% of moms with children under 18 are classified as SAHM. That’s up 6% from 1999. This means something else is on the rise and no, I don’t mean etsy shops or invitations to essential oil informational sessions. Although, I’m sure those are increasing 20-fold. What I want to talk about is the increase in SAHM talk.  Words like “cherish” and “so blessed” roll off the tongues of stay-at-home moms and you might be tempted to take them at face value, but pay closer attention to the way that mom’s eye twitches and the impossibly perky way that other mom talks about potty training. My friend, this is the coded language of a super secret world of women–a world I have been a part of for the past year and a half and I’m here to translate what those moms are saying v. what they actually mean.

What a SAHM says: I cherish this time.

What she means: I cry myself to sleep at night.

*

What a SAHM says: I’m so lucky to have this opportunity to spend time with my kids.

What she means: The economy blows and it’s nigh on impossible to use this English major in the middle of Iowa where eight years ago we didn’t even have a free-standing Starbucks. There were places in Africa more developed than this town. Dear God, someone find me a job!

*

What a SAHM says: I am so blessed.

What she means: Drezdyn pooped on the floor five times today.

*

What a SAHM says: The days are slow, but the years go by so fast.

What she means: It’s only 10am and I’ve been puked on five times. Now, I’m binge eating chocolate in the closet while small hands claw at my feet from under the door.

*

What a SAHM says: I wouldn’t have it any other way.

What she means: SOMEONE SEND HELP! PLEASE, GOD, HELP US!

*

What a SAHM says: It’s such a short time.

What she means: Do you know of anyone who is looking to hire a slightly, disheveled middle-aged woman who is really good at catching puke with her hands?

Belle Is Not The Problem, You Are

Two weeks ago, we threw a princess birthday party in honor of my daughter who specifically requested that everything be made pink. And it was. Pink tulle hung from the banisters, pink tissue paper flowers hung from the ceiling, pink balloons were taped to the archways. And the party was perfect. We had princess tattoos, crowns, jewels and at the end we cleared the floor for a big ball.

I’ve struggled with letting princesses into our home. I didn’t want them here. I thought they would be a bad influence. But at two-years-old, my daughter began refusing to wear pants and declared herself a princess.  Ever since then, it’s ballgowns and necklaces everyday. Once at the grocery store, as Ellis twirled in the aisle in a white Easter dress, a lady asked, “Oh are you going somewhere special?” My daughter just looked at her and said flatly. “I am ‘pecial.”

E and Bubs

Equal opportunity royalty in this house.

She is special. And white fluffy Easter dresses are just normal Tuesday attire in this house. Occasionally, I get her to wear something less formal for school or the park. But the moment she comes home she rips off her pants and slips into something a little more formal–A princess Belle dress with gloves, perhaps.

I suppose I could regulate princesses more carefully. I could return every Princess™ that entered our home from well meaning grandparents and doting aunts, but I am not going to. Because I don’t think princesses are the problem. I think we are the problem.

We still live in a country with a gender pay gap, but that’s not Rapunzel’s fault.  There are deep gender divides in this country about sex, division of labor and healthcare, but we can’t pin that on Snow White. The commercialization of everything pink and everything princess, becomes and easy scapegoat. It’s so much easier to say, “Blame Disney!” than take a long look in the mirror and examine our own biases.

In her essay in New York magazine, Yael Kohen wrote:

“And what’s wrong with girly, anyway?  Rolling our eyes at pink feels like another way of treating female culture on the whole as a niche interest, somehow secondary to male culture — a.k.a. the mainstream. And when it comes to our toys there’s an implicit message that the pink doodads are only second best to the tough dude versions in black, camouflage, and blue. (A boy dressing up like Iron Man, a narcissistic arms mogul turned superhero, won’t be seen as nearly as silly as a girl wearing a Queen Elsa costume, even though they play to the same fantasy impulses). If we’ve made pink the most visible representation of girl culture, and also treat it as a symbol of frivolity, then we’re unwittingly telling girls (and boys) that the girl world isn’t important.”

I believe the same thing about princesses. By denigrating princesses we are in fact telling our daughters that what interests them isn’t important. By foisting the world that is traditionally boy on them instead, aren’t we telling them that “boy things” are okay, but princesses aren’t. And since when is a toy gun less dangerous than a tiara? Lately, my daughter has been turning all her wands into guns and walking around saying, “SHOOT! I SHOOT YOU!” But I’m not going to stress about that either. For children, fantasy play is just that, pure fantasy. My blonde-haired, blue-eyed daughter identifies herself with Belle and Mulan more than Rapunzel or Aurora. Why? Maybe the dresses? The side-kicks? Who knows. But what I do know is that she understand the fantasy and the reality a lot more than I give her credit for.

It’s easy to make Belle and Cinderella culpable for our societal shortcomings, but the truth is, they aren’t the disease they are the symptom. Gender bias doesn’t begin with crowns and gowns, gender bias begins within us. A study done by New York University asked parents to guess the incline of a slope that their 11-month old babies could climb. The study showed that while both girls and boy babies had the same level of physical ability, parents vastly over estimated their sons’ abilities and underestimated their girls’ abilities. Think you are too smart for this inherent bias? Think again. A study done by Yale University had male and female scientists rate the competence of a job applicant. The scientists were given the same application, the only difference was half had an application with a female name the other half had an application with a male name. Overwhelmingly, both male and female scientists favored the male application.

Ultimately, gender bias begins long before you child sits down to watch “Sleeping Beauty” and yet, Sleeping Beauty is what we wring our collective hands over.

A whole generation of girls (myself included) were raised obsessed with princesses and somehow we came out okay. I remember spending hours trying to flip my hair up out of the pool water so I could be like the Ariel singing, “Part of Your World” to prince Eric. I know more Disney songs about love than I know Shakespearean sonnets. But that was just a phase. Much like my Nietzsche phase when I wore all black and took long walks with my journal contemplating how superior I was to all the other riff raff of High School. Or my Bronte phase when I wore tight buns and wanted to walk the windswept moors of England so bad I cried. It’s just a phase.  I didn’t become the Übermensch and stab anyone any more than I married an abusive man with a wife locked in an attic.

In her essay on Slate, Allison Benedikt wrote, “The pink phase will pass like anything else, and if it doesn’t, well, then, you have raised a human being who really likes pink. Which is the same as raising a human being who really likes green. The meaning of the color is what we make it mean. By steering our daughters away from the pink aisle to subvert dangerous gender norms, we’re reinforcing them.”

The truth is for children princesses and pink, they are just things. It’s we adults who imbue them with meaning. But instead of crucifying all things pink and princess on the cross of our collective feminist anxiety, maybe we ought to reexamine our own attitudes and deeply held beliefs about children long before they can even reach for that wand.

PS For more reading, I really liked this article. 

Three

Yesterday, I was emptying the dishwasher. Ellis sat at the kitchen table coloring and watching me. As I picked up a bowl and opened the cupboard door, Ellis shouted, “Two hands!”

“What?” I asked.

“Two hands, mom. Or else, you drop it.”

Last week, I had broken a bowl doing just that same thing. Game. Set. Three year old.

Princess Anna

This week she sobbed because a friend of hers mixed her paint colors. Also, every time she spills a little water on her gowns (she only wears gowns) she throws her head back and wails, “Oh no! It ruined! Everyfing ruined!” And then, she gets mad when you laugh at her and tell her it will dry. In this exchange, I see my future.

On a side note: Because of rampant illness this past month, like many American families, we’ve been watching “Frozen” almost on loop. It’s ridiculous. It’s consumed us. Ellis and I have a pretty good “Love is an Open Door” duo going. I can sing the song to the bonus feature and Dave and I have been discussing aspects of the movie, like the character development of Hans, instead of talking about real things like why the floor is sticky and where the hell is that plane? Three nights ago, Dave decided that he approved of the Midwestern values espoused by the movie: Conceal, don’t feel.  And he decided that we needed to teach our children a little bit more about good, old-fashioned Norwegian repression. Seeing as how getting cheeto dust on her fingers calls for full on tears of anguish, I agree.

Three is big. She is no longer a toddler. And we’ve been talking about how the pacifier fairy will come to take her pacifiers and leave, in their place, a big gown. The pacifier fairy hasn’t come quiet yet, because she heard that Ellis has been sick for almost a month straight and the pacifier fairy didn’t want Ellis’ mom to lose her ever-loving mind.  Good old, pacifier fairy.

She’s also been telling us that we need a bigger house, because she’s going to grow “bigger, bigger, up to da sky!” She needs a bigger cup because she’s big. She needs bigger clothes because she’s big. But at night, before bed, she insists, she’s still “wittle, still berry wittle.” Today, at breakfast she broke it down for me. “I a little bit big, but not totally big.”

Totally.

She is also the world’s best big sister.  We’ve been sleep training Jude (yes, again, for the fifth time, that kid) and last night, as he cried at three in the morning, I could hear Ellis calling from her room, “Bubby! I sing for you! TWINKLE TWINKLE WIDDLE STAR! Dat help bubby? TWINKLE! TWINKLE!”

It didn’t.  But it was sweet. And she is sweet to him. Today, while he was playing on her floor and I was putting away clothes, she dumped all her doll stuff in his lap, so he wouldn’t have to be alone. When he started chewing the hair of Pinkalicious, she said, “It okay, mom. I just sharing wif him.”

Yesterday, he was crying in the bathroom while I brushed my teeth. She ran in and said, “Bubs, you don’t need to cry. Your princess will aways be here and always protect you.”

He stared at her for a brief moment before he resumed wailing.

“Mom,” Ellis said, “I can’t handle dis crying. I’m leaving bubs.”

She calls him her “bubby” and likes to explain everything to him from how you eat Cheerios (“Just put dem in your mouf!”) to how babies come out (“Dey get pooped out! Is dat silly?”). She also get’s mad at him for not following the rules, like when he wiggles and kicks her, she shakes her finger and says, “Bubs, we don’t kick people in dis house!”

Then, he laughs. How he loves her. She can always make him ridiculously happy. Until she terrifies him. But usually, he’s happy just to see her in the same room as him. Just to have her hand him a toy.  And these are the things I’m going to cling to when they are randomly checking each other into walls.

E and Bubs2

She’s begun lugging notebooks around with her and scribbling in them with pens. She asks me how to spell Ellis, Daddy and Cinderella. I tell her and she repeats the letters back to me. Then, she says she’s writing things and I need to leave her alone. I think this is my revenge. It’s coming. I’m not afraid. Maybe I should be, but I’m not.

We often have the fight where, I’m telling her to set the table and she says she can’t because she set it “lasterday” and I say, “don’t fight with me.” And she says, “I’m not fighting!”

“Yes you are.”

“No, I not!”

“Yes!”

“I just telling you I did it lasterday!”

I lose. I lose every time.

And as I write that, it occurs to me that it’s getting close to time to start editing more what I share about her on the internet. In January, I started a journal for both Jude and Ellis and I fill it with the little things I notice about them during the day, things I want to remember. Things I want them to know. Their brilliant moments. Their intense sweetness and silliness. And sure, sometimes hilarious poop incidents. Things that probably shouldn’t go up on the internet, or many other places really.

I love the person she is becoming. I love how silly she is. How precocious. How determined and how law-abiding. During our 150th showing of “Frozen” she said, “Princess Anna jumping on da couch and dat not good. She need to go to time out.”

“Exactly right,” I said.  Speak truth to power, girlfriend.

I love her persnicketyness. Her insistence on ball gowns and high heels. And how she loves to cheer people up. “Don’t be sad,” she tells me when I’m frustrated, “I’ll feel you better!” And then she smiles and then it works.

Happy birthday, three year old.

Happy World Down Syndrome Day

In honor of World Down Syndrome Awareness Day I’m reprinting this post that I wrote about my brother Noah over on Squashed Mom a few years ago. I don’t write about Noah for many reasons, for one he is 17, he’s a grown up and the hero of his own stories. Also, writing about Noah is hard. It’s hard to explain the frustration of loving him. And I don’t want to be overly sentimental and gloss over the reality of what his life is. It’s too easy to put people with disabilities into a box where they are angels, perfect, misunderstood blessings from God. And while he is those things, he is more than that. And I don’t want to deny him the full power of his personality, of all he is, both good and bad and funny and sweet. He is my brother, he is human. He has flaws. But he is also special needs. But he is also, just Noah.

Do you see what I mean? It’s difficult.

Noah at Christmas. He is really cool and loves Minions. This picture was taken by my 6 year old nephew who is better at pictures (and most things) than me.

Noah at Christmas. He is really cool and loves Minions. This picture was taken by my 6 year old nephew who is better at pictures (and most things) than me.

I have seven siblings. One is perky with curly hair. One is hilarious and likes to play with legos. Two are good at art. One dedicates her life to serving others. Another dedicates her life to giving people great hairstyles. I have a brother who is in the Army and can run a mile in six minutes. I have a sister who is the best message therapist I’ve ever met. She’s also the most sarcastic person I know. And then there is my youngest brother, Noah.

Noah loves to snuggle. He loves to watch Toy Story and collect army men. He once got kicked out of school for dancing on a table. He also got kicked out of school for yelling at a teacher. Noah is sweet and a little spicy. And among the many things that he is, Noah is also Downs Syndrome.

But it’s a little more complicated than that. Noah also has other disabilities. He is 17 and he doesn’t talk much and still has a hard time going to the bathroom by himself. And as much as I hate it, those are the things that define him to most people.

To most people, Noah is not my brother who got kicked out of school. He’s not my brother who carries around a Sheriff Woody doll. Or the brother who gives the best hugs. To everyone I meet he is Noah my disabled brother.

But to me and my siblings he is so much more.

My brother Noah was born on June 12, 1997. He was three months early and was so small my dad could hold him in the palm of his hand. But my dad didn’t do that. He carried him with both hands, cradled against his chest, while all seven of us siblings circled around so happy that Noah was part of the family.

Two weeks after he was born were told he had Downs Syndrome and six years later, we would find out that he also suffered from additional complications that meant he’d never be able to hold down a job or live on his own.

I was thirteen when Noah was allowed to come home from the hospital and I would often sit by his crib, watching him breathe. Making sure he was okay. When he woke up, his blue eyes would watch the ceiling fan circle round-and-round his head.

Maybe he will make fans one day, I thought before remembering that the doctor had said he may never have a career. I ran downstairs and crawled into an old sleeping bag, hiding my tears and my horrible thoughts. It doesn’t matter how good he is, no one will give him the chance.

Before Noah was born, I had known a girl with Downs, her name was Janna, and every time I saw her she would tell me about her boyfriends. “I kissed them!” she would yell and I would sneak away. “Go play with Janna,” mom insisted. But I hated every minute of it.

I hated the way she smelled of mothballs and body odor. I hated the way she laughed at everything and hugged me. I hated that she was twenty and could barely read. Most of all I hated the way people looked at her as she loped along, oblivious to their scornful stares.

I didn’t want Noah to be like that, but most of all I didn’t want to think of him like that. I fell asleep in the sleeping bag and woke up to my mom kissing my forehead. “It’s okay to be mad,” she said. “I know you love him.”

And that’s what it is to be a sibling of someone with special needs—you exist simultaneously in a place of love and acceptance and frustration and guilt. But I wouldn’t ever choose anything different.

I’m older now and so is Noah. But I still get angry. I get angry when I don’t know how to talk to him, when I have a hard time understanding what he wants. I get angry when he comes for a visit and then leaves and I feel like I didn’t get a chance to tell him that I love him and what he means to me. And I know he gets frustrated too.

One by one, his brothers and sisters are leaving home and leaving him. He uses sign language to tell my mom to call us. And when he sees us, he just wants to sit and hug. And I do sit and hug him, but it’s never long enough and that makes me mad too.

Noah is so many other things. He’s the kid who tried to flush the dog down the toilet. He’s the kid who can eat his weight in Cheetos. He’s the brother who influenced one of my sisters to become a teacher and another to become a social worker. He’s the brother that taught me patience.

He’s also just Noah, my brother.

My Boobs Don’t Like You

My boobs don’t like you. They don’t want to be here right now with you drinking wine. In fact, my boobs would rather be at home with my kids. I’d love to stay. Really I would, but my boobs are being very insistent and making things awkward for everyone. No, I did not spill on my shirt. That’s just my boobs, letting me know, it’s time to go home.

I had a baby eight months ago. The day after his birth, I woke up feeling like someone had dropped two cement blocks on my chest—two cement blocks that shot milk like a maternal cannon. Overnight, my boobs had become sentient. Like a robot out of control, they were hell bent on destruction.  The first night my baby slept longer than five hours, I woke up in a pool of liquid. I shook my husband awake.

“I think someone wet the bed,” I hissed. He blinked and then pointed to my chest. My shirt was dripping with milk. “Your boobs just ruined our sheets,” he said. I lifted up my shirt and milk squirted his face. My boobs demanded to feed something and there was nothing I could do about it. I caved and got up to pump. These beasts had to be tamed.

Another time, after indulging in a long nap, which is a luxury for any mother, I got up to find my boobs angry at me. When I went to change my shirt they sprayed the room with a fine mist of milk. I ran into the bathroom and stood over the sink shouting for my husband to bring me a bottle, I couldn’t let that liquid gold go to waste. But apparently, shouting, “Help! My boobs are making a mess!” In my house doesn’t have the call to urgency it once did. My husband arrived several minutes later carrying the baby with the two-year-old in tow. And we all watched my milk go down the drain as a family. I could almost hear my boobs whispering, “That will teach you to take a nap.”

My boobs have calmed down since then. They no longer raise up to smack me in the face when a baby (any baby) cries, and they no longer send me threatening notes that demand that they feed something every two hours or else the nursing bra gets it. But they’re still unwieldy, unmanageable hydras that are growing from my chest.

I’ve tried to decommission them with bottles, but my child is having none of that. He gums the bottle and then screams in my face as if to say, “Release the hounds!” And I do, eventually, I always do. Because babies and boobs always win.

So, all of this to say this is why I can’t come out to your concert, or have dinner with you, or indulge in that that delicious second glass of wine. I love you. I miss you my friends, I really do. But the ultimate truth is that my boobs don’t feel the same way. They hate you. They’d rather not hang out. As a result, they only let me leave the house for a couple of hours before they demand to be taken back in. I’m their slave. It’s a kidnapping. I really think the FBI should be involved. I want to see light. I want to have a conversation with a person, who doesn’t poop their pants or vomit down my shirt.

One day, I’ll break free. One day, I’ll be able to sit here and finish this glass of wine or two, with you my dear friend. One day…Oh wait, my boobs say it’s time to leave. Right, about now.

 

PS I wrote this a while back. But decided to publish it now. Don’t ask me about reasons. The baby does take a bottle, kind of, these days. The evil overlords are becoming nothing but overfed dictators. The oppressive thumb of the boobarcy is lessening.

The Very Best Parenting Advice You Will Ever Receive

 IMG_4682

When I had one child, I was an amazing parent. Now that I have two, well just look at this smug grin on my smug face. That’s the look of a woman who has no idea what the hell she is doing. The first baby we sleep trained at 8 weeks. The second baby laughs in delight when we try to make him cry anything out ever. The first baby was fed homemade baby food from organic locally sourced produce. The second baby really loves his Gerber’s chicken and rice. Also, crackers, also chocolate pie, ice cream and genetically modified carcinogens. Yum, carcinogens.

What I’m trying to tell you is that I am a dearth of knowledge and insight on how you too should train your baby.  Take it from me, the lady who let her baby chew on a pine cone.

Of course, you should always have a completely natural birth, free of toxins and medication. Unless, of course, you don’t want to or had a medically necessary c-section then don’t we don’t judge here. We’re all one family. And there are no medals, I don’t think. If there are, I’m going to be really pissed off.

And when it comes to breast feeding, breast is of course best. How dare you feed your baby formula. Unless of course you can’t give your baby the breast. Then, god, those breast Nazis are the worst, amirite? As long as your baby get’s food, who cares? Same goes for baby food. Never give your baby that processed crap. It’s so easy just to blend baby food. But of course, Target has some great deals on Gerber food and there is this coupon. And we’ll probably all die from a Chinese invasion before Monsanto is finished poisoning us. But locally sourced and organic is obviously the way you should go.

Never yell and don’t discipline. You don’t want to squash your child’s sweet spirit and children intuitively know the right thing to do. Unless of course they are fishing for poop in their diaper in the grocery store or kicking strangers in the shin. Then you should totally parent and how dare you raise a special spoiled snowflake? Entitled parents are ruining America.

You should also carefully monitor your children and guide them. But not if you are going to helicopter parent. That will screw them up forever. So, let your kids run and be free. Kid’s these days are overly scheduled, but if you don’t give them structured activity you aren’t preparing them for life and you are awful. Kids are all winners until they have to learn to lose. Kids are great until they are the worst.

Now, let’s talk sleeping. Schedules are great for maintaining structured household that makes kids feel secure. Make them cry it out because you are teaching them to be well-rested and that is good. Of course, you don’t want to make them stop trusting you, so never make them cry it out and schedules are only for people who don’t love their children.

Cloth diaper and baby wear. But poop in the washing machine is totally gross so paper diapers are okay. And baby wearing doesn’t give your children independence, so don’t do that.  And you should home school your children so they are free and independent thinkers. But also, teachers are trained for a reason. What do you think you know anyway? Send them to public school. But we can all agree private school is the the real problem here, right? Are you too good for everyone? Huh? But private schools do have better test scores and you want your kid to have a leg up in life, so private school is a good idea.

How dare you feed your child those crappy chicken nuggets? What is wrong with you? Tofu organic nuggets are better. But processed food is evil and you are poisoning your child. Unless of course it’s a sometimes treat and why are parents to judgmental when all we want is just some fries? Sheesh. Back off.

In the end, you need to know that you know nothing. You are a terrible parent. But we are all on the same team, so we should get along and support each other. Go, mom!

I hope this has been enlightening for you. Please let me know if you need any other advice.

Date Night: A Story in Gifs

Two weeks ago, Baby J took a bottle. This small event has changed my entire life. After seven months of being his only source of food. Of not being able to leave the house for more than two hours before rushing back to find him angrily staging a hunger strike. Ellis saying, “I fink he wants some milks.” And Dave calling me with a strained voice, “Hey, how’s, um, grocery shopping? Goooooood?’ While wailing commences in the background. Seven months of this and now…

Freedom!

It feels silly to complain. I worked really hard to make breastfeeding work. E gave up the boob at three months and I was determined to make it work with JQ. So, determined that when my mom came to visit a week after the baby was born she walked in to find me on the floor crying without a shirt on bleeding out of my nipples. I had mastitis. My mom made me go to the doctor and my friend Megan rushed some antibacterial cream over and we made it work. And it was a little too effective. Kid’s can’t win. They take a bottle, I cry because breastfeeding didn’t work. Then, they take the boob and I’m all take the bottle you little terrorist! Welcome to the rest of your life, kids. The bar always moves. It’s never good enough! Just ask your father.

The first thing we did when it became apparent that this bottle thing wasn’t a fluke was to book a sitter. Because we could go out. We hadn’t been on a date since three weeks before Jude was born and we went to Texas Roadhouse. That date ended with me crying because Dave wasn’t listening to me. I mean, he was listening, but was he listening? In my defense, I was approximately a million months pregnant and it was July and even my earlobes were sweating. Nothing could have gone right. Just throw the lady some steak and run.

But a date! It was time!

We leave the house

Both Dave and I were ready for a meal where we didn’t get yelled at for making one person eat their food and for not feeding the other person fast enough. And it would be great to have a conversation that wasn’t about the relative merits of eating your broccoli and to stop making your bread dance on the table or SIT IN TIME OUT!

So, Saturday night.  We got dressed and I wore a shirt that was not made for nursing.

No kidsAnd Dave was all, “You look nice. You don’t smell like baby food.” And I said, “Thank you, that’s because I took care to make sure none was smeared on my shirt.”

Some where to go

Then, we told Ellis to behave for the babysitter and she gave us this look that said, “I’ll do what I want!”

My 2yro when I tell her to be good

So, we turned on a movie, handed the baby off and left. At first, we were elated.

Eating without being screamed at

Out. Together. Without the kids.

But then, I kept checking my phone. Perhaps it was going to ring and I wouldn’t notice. I turned up the volume. Checked the clock. It was getting close to bedtime. Surely, the meltdown would happen. Maybe it was time to check the phone again.

Check the phone again

And then in the awkward silences that commenced, I tried to Tweet. And it went down a little like this.

I try to tweet during our date

Dave is not an aggressive man. But he wasn’t spending $10/hour on a babysitter so I could Tweet pictures of a salad. Fair enough

Then, we tried talking like adults while we waited for our table. Dave said something about the Ukraine and I think I responded like this.

When you try to talk like an adultWhen conversation stagnated I pulled out my phone again. You know. Just in case. But there were no messages, which meant either that the citizens revolted and put the baby sitter’s head on a spike to warn future childcare workers. Or they must be sleeping. Either way, it wasn’t my problem.

No messages from the babysitterAt one point, right after we were seated, Dave mentioned the only thing that would make this night better was our children.

Dave says he misses the kids

When the menu came, I decided to order a drink. A real one from the adult menu. And maybe an appetizer. Things were getting wild.

Ordering a drink

We only talked about the kids briefly. It’s nice to be able to circle the wagons. And I was shocked at how much Dave and I had in common. We had similar interests and values. Oh, hey! You have two kids? I have two kids as well! What a coincidence!

Then, our food came and we enjoyed it immensely. Maybe it wasn’t that great. But not being screamed at is the best spice of all.

Food

We got home and the kids were in bed fast asleep. Boom. Babysitters. Get yourself one. They are amazing.

Kids are asleepIt was 10pm and Dave suggested watching “House of Cards” just to make the night even better and I remembered why I married this man. He loves eating steak and evil protagonists too! We should do this more often.

Want to go on a date

A List of the Baby’s Demands

I read The Toast. A lot. I recommend you do so as well. Recently, the editor Nicole Cliffe wrote a list of her demands. Her list, once it pasts number 45, is eerily similar to any list I would write. So, instead, I bring you a list of demands from the baby, who has recently begun teething and set himself up as ruler supreme of the evil babies society. Here is a list of his requests, demands and suggested reforms. If the ruling government can’t meet said demands, he has no choice but to instigate revolution and overthrow the ruling party, which, between us, has grown fat and lazy with power.

evil baby societ

 

1. To wake up at 2am and be fed promptly at 2:05am. If this demand is not complied with, at 2:06 he shall commence screaming and wake up his sister.

2. That cracker on the floor.

3. Your hair in his mouth, now.

4.  That toy. No, that toy! NO, THAAAT TOY!

5. Whatever it is you think you are eating.

6. Your boobs are a 2-hour buffet. He will feast at a time of his choosing. Do not attempt to block access to his milk supply. You will surely rue the day.

7.  His daddy.

8. No, his mommy.

9. Just kidding, he wants his daddy.

10. To never nap!

11. Unfettered access to all electrical outlets and cords. Also, boobs.

12. Knives.

13. Your complete attention.

14. The iPhone.

15.  EARRINGS!

16.  He would like to grab your cheeks and pull your skin. He would like you to not yell while executing this maneuver.

17. He would like you to not sneeze so loudly. It makes him cry.

18. Also, let’s discuss your coughing. Too loud. It disturbs his baby meditation.

19.  Stop trying to sleep train him. Frankly, you are embarrassing yourself.

20. He would like that half of stale cookie under the couch. If you could be a dear.

21.  He wants you to stop putting him on the floor of that bathroom while you pee. It’s upsetting. This is why science invented baby paraphernalia. I mean, honestly,the bouncy seat is in the hall. JUST LEAVE HIM THERE! IS THAT SO HARD?

22. Please stop pulling dust bunnies out of his mouth. It’s gross, and honestly, it’s just plain rude to scream and scoop your dirty fingers into a being’s mouth.

23. A pacifier.

24. For you to pick up the pacifier after he spit it out.

25. A spoon. Nope, the one you are using to feed yourself. That one.

26. To throw said spoon on the floor and scream until it is retrieved.

27. To repeat the actions in number 26 ad nauseam.

28. To put all your most precious items in his mouth.

29. To lick his sister.

30. A steak. What? He’s hangry.

31. For you not to do that thing which you had planned on doing and were looking forward to very much.

Go Away

Freedom

Six weeks ago, against my better judgement, I signed my daughter up for ice skating lessons. Since November, when I took her to watch an ice skating competition at the local ice arena, Ellis has been begging to learn how to dance like an ice princess .  She’s two, almost three, she’s tall and she’s determined. But she’s so young. What finally broke my resolve was the winter. The brutal temperatures have kept us indoors and we are desperate for a chance to get outside and burn energy. I bought her some skates and Dave took her to the park, where there is a little ice rink. She got out there and tried. She fell. She tried again. “Should we sign her up?” I asked Dave. He shrugged. “She’s determined.”

So, I signed her up. That first day, the lady at the registration table frowned. “She’s a little young,” she said. I nodded. Ellis twirled and proclaimed herself “Ice princess Ellis!” I tried to explain to her that you don’t spin at your first lesson. That learning to be an ice princess is hard work. You have to practice and try. That you have to fall. She just nodded and demanded I put on her skates.

The first lesson was hard for both of us. I know nothing about skating, so I failed to bring her gloves. I had to buy an oversized pair at the rental desk. And I only put on one pair of pants on her instead of layering like all the other moms had. “She looks cold,” one mom said to me. I said nothing. She probably was cold, but what was really bothering her was the falling. She kept falling. She didn’t know how to get up. Her teacher tried to show her, but she wanted to do it her own way. She sat on the ice, frustrated, her face red and wet, calling out to me to help her. I wanted to run out to her and wipe her nose. To tell her to stand and listen. I finally did go out there when I procured her a pair of gloves. I helped her stand. I tried to give her a pep talk. “You are doing great, sweetie! Listen to your teacher.”

She just whined. “I fallin’.”

On our way home, I wanted to tell her to stop whining. To get up. To try again. But, she was so little, sitting there in her carseat, clutching her gloves. So, I asked her if she wanted to go to lessons again. “Yes,” she said. “But I fall.”

“It’s okay, honey, everyone falls. Did you see? Even your friend was falling.”

She laughed. “Yeah, he fell on his booty. Next time, I fall too.”

The next week, I decided I needed to look away. I had to hide from her. So, I turned my back and talked to a friend, who graciously gave me updates. I didn’t even peek at the ice until the lesson was over. She was standing. She was still red-faced and soggy nosed, but she was standing.Thanks to the three-year-old who just sobs through the lesson, she’s not the worst kid out there. But she’s struggling too. It’s hard for me to watch that. So, I turn away and remember that she’s doing something she wants. She’s trying. And despite the sometimes tears and the sometimes whining, every week, she wants to go back.

Around this same time, Ellis started refusing to go to the bathroom when I asked her to. She’d sit on the toilet and deliberately refuse to pee for me. Finally, I gave up. “Fine,” I said. “Go when you want to, but if you have an accident, no princess dresses.” And after one accident in the middle of a mall, on a day when it was -9 outside and I had no backup pants, she’s taken herself to the bathroom every time.  For the past three weeks, she has barely needed me at all, except sometimes to wipe and sometimes to help wash hands. One moment, she needed me completely for every bowel movement and now, nothing. She’s independent. I feel so relieved, so jubilant and a little deflated. The vast majority of these past three years have been spent cleaning her diapers, washing her diapers, changing her diapers, teaching her to sit on the potty, cleaning her undies, wiping up accidents and now, nothing. I’m free. She’s free.

When it comes to parenting, so often, my default response is to lean into the problem. To solve it for her. To be hands-on and accessible. She needs me, after all. But what I’m learning is that more and more, the answer to these problems isn’t leaning in, but leaning back. Turning away and letting her fall. Giving up and letting her learn from her accidents.

She’s getting so big. She likes to tell me that when I won’t let her use markers on the couch she get’s “fwusterated.” She also tells me she’s “furwious” when I say she can’t have ice cream three times a day. Sometimes I forget that she isn’t even three yet and I talk to her like she’s nine. But then, she starts crying because shoes are hard to get on by yourself and I remember, three is nothing. Three is so little. But she has little girl legs and a neck free of fat rolls. Often, I find her in the playroom with a stack of books. “Can I read you a story?”

“Go away,” she tells me. “I’m reading by myself!”

I walk away, because I know that what she’s doing needs to happen alone. It’s such a simple and profound lesson.  But I don’t always remember it. I carry her upstairs, I try to pick out her outfits, I keep giving her sippy cups even though she’s big enough to drink without a lid. Letting go is an endless process I’m not sure I will ever fully master. I know in a month, in a year, I’ll learn it all over again and it will be as heart breaking and as wonderful as it is now.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...