The Things They Handed Me

Small children value, trust, and appreciate parents.

I can tell. Why else would they think we should get to hold their weird treasures and see and touch their disgusting trash without fear that we are judging them?

Well, sometimes I am judging them. And kids over the years have handed me some ridiculous things.

  • So, so many apple cores. Apple cores in the car. Apple cores at the mall. Apple cores on walks. Apple cores while apple picking. Apple cores while in the grocery store buying apples. And I never get to play ‘Apple core, Baltimore.’
  • Food. Not new food. Not delicious or fresh or clean food. Mostly food that they tried eating (because I made them or they didn’t inspect closely beforehand) and disliked so intensely they couldn’t bring themselves to swallow. So they eject the masticated food into the obvious receptacle: my palm. Some restaurants are just not for toddlers.
  • Toddler underwear. Usually underwear that has had a really terrible day. The  hand-off of the unfortunate underwear usually happens when company is over and is inevitably followed with an overly blunt summary of the potty misfortune and a promise to NEVEREVERDOTHATAGAIN. They never ever follow through on the nevereveragain promise. Potty training has won so many battles. Probably I will win the war. It is a long war.
  • Personal items. Things that adults–if left to their own senses–would never want to touch at all. Where they would use latex gloves or hire professionals or squeal and then compulsively wash their hands.  But, once you have kids, that stuff becomes stuff you stuff directly into your jeans pocket until you can fish it out and discard/display at an appropriate time. At last week’s playdate, for example:

    Friend’s child: “[Ella]’s mom! here, look at this!”
    Me: “Is this. . .”
    Friend’s child: “Yeah! My tooth just came out! Will you save it for my mom?”

  • Vomit. You know sometimes when you are driving your car with a passenger in shotgun and you have to break really hard and you instinctively put your arm out to the side even though the passenger is an adult and you don’t need to do that and your arm would not prevent disaster anyway? And you think, why do I have that useless instinct? But in the moment of car crisis, you just do it? That is what happens when my kids are right, right next to me in a public, non-bathroom space and then they suddenly throw up. I instinctively catch it. Does it make sense? No. Can I stop it? Not yet. I have a great airplane story. Ask me some time you want to appreciate business travel.
  • Goo. I don’t know how toddlers always have this. But they do. And when they’re done with it, they give it back to the universe. And by universe, I mean mostly  just me.

    I broke my egg. The white gooshed out, but here is the yellow.

  • My own things, in less pristine condition. The dreaded “I borrowed…was an accident… really sorry.” Like ‘I borrowed your beautiful ring and then we were playing buried treasure and I buried it and now we can’t find it, but here is your spoon that we used to dig for it and it got bent. I am really sorry.’ Or ‘I took your necklace. And then, I am sorry to say, it got itself broken. Outside. Most of the beads are still in the bush, but I got a few back for you! Can you get the rest?’
  • Mysteries, waiting for answers. These are always gross mysteries that I would not choose tosoapy seashell study if I was ever given proper warning. Do you think this is animal poop or melted chocolate? I cannot tell and I *never* want to hold it if we’re not sure. You figure it out. Just don’t taste it, come back inside, or touch  me again.
  • Thoughtful toddler presents. Like how D2 had a two-month phase where she would bring me seashells filled with hand soap. And Ella collected “nature” that I still display in a vase on the bookshelf; except an omitted piece of bubble gum. Because while it was in nature, we decided it wasn’t actually nature. From my hand, straight to the trash.

 

 

That Girl’s Got it Figured Out

Me: Ella, please come in to help set the table for dinner.

Ella: I am not [Ella]. I am Queen Chila.

Me: Queen Chila?

Ella: Yes. I am a ruler of a far-away land.

Me: I see. And what brings you to my kitchen?

Ella: I am on vacation here. Vacation from all my problems.

Me: Wow, vacation from all your problems sounds excellent. I need to go on a vacation like that!

Ella: Yes, you would like it, I bet.

Do It Myself

D2 is getting older. Three, to be exact, which is pretty big and grown-up. And she is ready to do all sorts of things herself that grown-ups used to do for her. She dresses herself (today she is wearing both a dress and a maxi skirt–fashion at its finest), she makes her own lunch (mostly granola bars) and reads her own stories (mostly about fairies and High School Musical).

I like independence and there are quite a few things I am ready to stop doing as a parent, so I roll with toddler independent streaks. So today, when it was time to take cupcakes to our neighbors and she asked if she could carry them, well, I considered it.

These were amazing cupcakes. Yellow cake, whipped chocolate frosting, multi-colored sprinkles. Light and fluffy and chocolate-y and delicious. For the first batch, Ella carried the cupcakes and D2 delivered the accompanying card. Super successful. I watched from the door, seeing their adorableness on the sunny porch on an almost spring-ish day. Dresses and sunshine and cupcakes.  Ahh.

When they got back, D2 asked Ella if she could puuuuhhhh-leease carry the cupcakes this time to the second house. This was a fuller plate (larger family). It was a much longer walk. There was a stiff breeze and she was wearing a maxi skirt, which they don’t actually sell for people her size, so its too long. This was a risky gamble.

I remembered the last time D2 got to “carry the cupcakes.” Last October for a cake walk. She dropped the cupcakes face down within 10 steps, smooshing them terribly into the plastic wrap. We still took them, but I don’t think they went in the first round.

Today, in retrospect, I should have wrapped them. But I thought that might give her a false sense of security, as I remembered how stuck the dropped ones got last time. So I just encouraged her to “Be so careful. Walk so slow. Be sooooo careful.  Walk sooooo slow.”

They were off. I watched her slow progress across the courtyard. I could feel looming disaster and fragile hope, swirling together in the almost-spring wind.  Ella dashed across the grass, carrying nothing but a card, while D2 painstakingly followed. Slow, careful steps. Man, she is cute and she is trying so hard. She is listening. She is getting so big.

She made it farther than I thought she would before it all went down. Near the large oak tree a protruding branch, or a strong gust, or the malicious hand of fate tripped her up. She was moving so slowly that it actually was slow motion. The cupcakes flew up in the air and gracefully arced in all directions towards the wet, leafy mulch.

I ran; the neighbor ran. Everyone was too late. D2 was crushed, picking up the gorgeous cupcakes, now decorated with “disgusting nature.” The neighbor said thank you and told her they looked like they had been delicious. D2 put them sadly back on the plate and headed to the house. She carried them successfully the whole way.

So, we’re making new cupcakes. And she threw those ones away all by herself and told me that this afternoon I could help her carry the next batch.

Seems like growing up to me.

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Why Am I Always Tired?

I often find myself on the verge of falling asleep of late. Like, could-drift-off-at-any-time tired. I accidentally fell asleep while trying to perform child bedtime multiple times this week. I think I was asleep before the girls were; I cannot confirm what happened with them because I was asleep.

It seems notably bad when I am driving to work in the morning. I’ve been trying to get to the bottom of this, not only for obvious safety reasons, but also because they seem to really be patrolling that corridor by the Pentagon lately. Plus, MI has heightened sensitivity about the new car’s paint since the time–now more than several days ago–that (probably) me (unknowingly) scraped the front on something (maybe) while he was out-of-town.

  • At first I thought it was my body’s passive aggressive protest against the unnecessary traffic buildup on Rt. 27–caused by selfish people forcing a late merge from the right lane that we all know has to exit.
  • Then I wondered if it was my subconscious’ way of trying to avoid going to work during a dry administrative patch that was, in itself, rather sleep inducing. Shouldn’t one fall asleep in the morning on her own terms?
  • I worried that maybe waking up really early to run a few times a week with my workout buddy was the elephant-culprit in the room (though people who run when it is cold and early and dark and COLD should never have bad things happen to them. That and cheese are the main reasons I do it.)
  • One day I realized that even though I was only just driving in to work to “start the day,” I had–in fact–been awake for four hours. I’d run (see above), dressed three people (D2 can do it herself…), made breakfasts and lunches (cutting the crusts off of at least six pieces of bread), done laundry (which now must be done every day?), washed dishes, and braided D2’s hair like Elsa (often requiring two attempts, since I struggle to get it “long enough,” owing in large part to D2’s short hair). That sounds like a rather full morning and well deserving of a nap.
  • I mostly stopped drinking tea. All winter I found it soothing and warming and peacefully ritualistic. And kind of grownup. And easy hedging in case it really does perform anti-green tea cupinflammatory/weight-loss/brain-cell-development miracles.* So I started drinking green tea. And it was so fun to be warm and grown-up and maybe developing my brain that I started drinking more. And more. Until my doctor suggested that 10 cups a day of green tea might be why I have to go to the bathroom so incredibly often, and I should cut back. I replaced it with dark chocolate, which has similar health benefits without the peeing side effect, but still feel a bit short on caffeine.
  • The morning commute is D2’s turn to pick the music and she likes a relatively small number
    princess_cadence_evil
    Evil Princess Cadence: my alter ego and assigned part in the song.

    of songs. Songs like Let it Go from Frozen and This Day from My Little Pony and Roll Up the Map from Jake and the Neverland Pirates. And we listen to them over and over. And they’re all completely awesome songs–she has great taste across the board–so I have to keep singing them really loud. The whole way. It can get *exhausting.*

  • The only time I have to myself or to talk to MI or to get anything done is after the children go to bed, so if I am not falling asleep at 8:15 while “reading,” I am up until midnight. You’re welcome, Instagram friends, for the sacrifices I make to heart the pictures of your kids and restaurant dinners. Plus, online shopping is more interesting after I take out my contacts.

With so many options of what might be making me sleepy, I need an aggressive, methodological approach. So tonight, with the whole evening to myself, I read all of the catalogs I received this week in the mail, looked at RunnersWorld while half-heartedly watching Ellen, checked out some old photos of acquaintances on Facebook, and then binge-watched several episodes of a new show on Netflix. Nothing has come to me yet, but I am going to keep trying to figure it out.

My working hypothesis is that I am always tired because Germany (<–click link for best TV commercial ever).

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Off to bed.  I’ll be back on the case tomorrow.  😉


*Check out an article on the 10 Proven Benefits of Green Tea. It is “proven” that it “may” help. It also “may” start managing all of your bills, scrubbing down the shower, and taking you out to pizza every other weekend. Results vary by individual.

Lent: An Exercise in Rationalization

I will not eat refined sugar until Easter.

I will not eat *dessert* until Easter.

I will not eat dessert unless its has clear nutritional value, like chocolate-covered almonds, which are full of antioxidants and protein.

I will not eat unhealthy dessert, except on Sundays. If you completely deprive yourself you are destined to fail, right?

I will not eat unhealthy dessert during the week; cookies are sometimes necessary in social situations or to boost my professional productivity and are, therefore, not dessert.

I will not eat refined sugar that comes wrapped in packaging. Homemade dessert is a different thing. And ice cream cartons are really more like a family-style serving bowl from which you fill up your own, personal bowl–not packaging.

Snow days with children and visiting family are obvious exceptions, since you can’t be a good parent/host without providing snacks. And you can’t be expected to be snowed in and not eat all those snacks, some of which inevitably are dessert.

MI gave up TV, which we mostly just watch together. So I haven’t watched TV either. Maybe I actually gave up TV until Easter.

I am not watching TV until Easter. Except children’s shows, because the kids didn’t give up TV and sometimes they get scared of cartoon villains or I need to audit to make sure their shows are wholesome and educational.

I am not watching TV for grownups. Sports are not TV, since you could in theory be watching it live if you happened to be there. And movies, which aren’t on TV if you use another device to play them.

Best Wishes for Lent: Grab some cookies and let’s watch basketball and My Little Pony!

Pooping at Dinner: A Loving Tribute

I have been thinking often this past week of a friend–now living far away–who tragically lost her five-year old boy while on a family vacation. The tragedy of it hit me in the way such things do: reminding me of how life can be unfair and uncontrollable and sometimes so very painful.  I have had a bit of an ache in my heart all week, wishing I could do something to soften a blow that will only become bearable with lots of time.

A few nights ago, I found myself feeling particularly nostalgic about the beauty of my children as we flitted past each other, unwinding from work and school, making dinner, setting the table. The common and often chaotic scene that night seemed a beautiful one; I felt surrounded by so much love and light and luck.

I decided a tribute was in order. The girls and I sat down at the dinner table. I lit a candle for prayer so we could be grateful and connected to one another, remembering the wonder and blessing that is every day. Just as we bowed our heads and I began to profess how grateful I was for my wonderful kids–who I would love forever and ever–D2 interrupted, calling my name. We aren’t super formal at our house, so interrupting happens every once in a while (read: it happens always. I have yet to speak two consecutive, uninterrupted sentences in my awake children’s presence since 2009.) And as you may remember from a previous post, we are still very much working on reverence. I asked D2 to be quiet until I finished. She did try, to her credit, but a few seconds later, she stood up on her chair and whisper-yelled: “Mom! I pooped!! Right now. I am so sorry.”

Serene expression of gratitude–paused. We went upstairs [parental edit] and finally came back some time later to an extinguished candle and colder dinner that no longer felt so idyllic.

And yet, somehow, it felt like just the right tribute to a five-year old and his loving family. A midst all of the difficulty of parenting small children–the challenges of which I well know–there is a joy; a freeing silliness; a sense of connection and responsibility and being needed and knowing completely true love that are pretty magical. And I need reminders of that magic to make sure I keep seeing the good things through all of the poop.

Hugs, Krysta.

Support the family of Krysta and Eric Crane here.

Carrots: The boost you need to find your friend

I was standing in the kitchen, diligently cleaning and putting stuff away (read: eating sesame crackers out of the bag while standing in front of the fridge with the door open) when Ella came bursting in. She had been playing across the street at her friend’s house, so was out of breath from running fast in the cold. Through gulps of air, she asked me a question that I have never been asked. Perhaps that no parent has been asked ever: “Can I please have a carrot?  Quickly?”

The fridge door was already open, so without delay, I reached in and grabbed a carrot. I didn’t want to break the spell of a child requesting raw produce, but was so curious I had to ask her why she needed it. This exchange ensued:

“I am playing hide and seek with A–. I can’t find her, so I need to eat a carrot. Because carrots are good for your eyes.”

“Ha, that’s right — wait, is she still hiding right now?  Outside?”

“No. She’s hiding in her house.”

“You left her hiding and ran home to get a carrot!?”

“Yeah! To help my eyes. She hid really well. But I have to go try to find her now. That is why I needed it quickly. Ok, bye!”

 

And off she dashed out of the house. She came back 6 minutes later with the stub of a mostly-eaten carrot and told me it had worked.

So… does anyone know other classic children’s games that are improved by eating brocolli?