Accidental Decapitation and Other Profound Toddler Insights

It was nearly time to leave. Five more minutes, and I was trying to sneak in a few more dishes, clear a few breakfast plates, and speed blow dry my hair for work. Five minutes.

I asked D2 to put on her shoes. I asked her to pick up the toys on the living room floor. I asked her to finish her breakfast. I asked her to brush her hair.

She could not. She was unavailable because the only thing she could do was find Christmas ornament Princess Anna, so that it could accompany small, plastic Queen Elsa, who needed someone similarly sized with whom to play.

I knew where Anna was. I’d seen her in a toy bin earlier that week. We needed to GO. I spent two of the five minutes explaining why we did not have time because WE ONLY HAD FIVE MINUTES, then finally caved when I realized she cared more about finding Anna than I did about my plans at work. I found Anna. Just because toddlers are small and have different values doesn’t mean they are ridiculous, right?

Wrong. They are ridiculous.


I started to go upstairs for the speed hair styling–nope. Called back down to remove a tag that was stuck to Princess Anna, obviously making her impossible to play with. Maybe even impossible to touch, given the freak-out crying that was going on. [Why are we playing with a Christmas ornament in April? Why did it still have the tag on it? Why does Disney even make clay Christmas ornaments in characters that are only going to appeal to small children? What diabolical person first invented glitter?!  I do not know.] But nothing could go on until there was no tag.

As I removed the tag, I took the chance to remind D2 about how this was *not* a plastic Anna.

Magiclip dolls are the perfect solution to toddler dexterity. Sadly, this is not their story.
Magiclip dolls are the perfect solution to toddler dexterity. Sadly, this is not their story.

This was no magiclip. This was BREAKABLE ANNA, and she COULD NOT drop it because it would break. She had to be sooooooo careful. (I knew this was true. Because Anna used to be one of a set; may Christmas ornament Elsa rest in peace.]

As I handed Anna over, tag-free, I asked

“Can you please be so careful? And make sure not to drop her?”

” I will be sooooooooo sooooooo careful.  I will not–” [drops Anna.] “Oh! It is ok, she is okay!  She did not break.”

“Ok. She did not break, but you dropped her right on the rug. If you drop her on the hard floor, she will break.”

Whatever. We both knew. I knew it was Anna’s last day. Anna knew it was her last day. Nothing could stop fate.

What D2 knew, though, was something else entirely: her mom was over-dramatic and clearly dropping the figurine was NBD. Parents.

Moments–seriously MOMENTS later–D2 quietly approached me in the bathroom where I was blow drying my hair any way, even though we were late. Clenched in her right hand, Anna’s body,decapitated anna coated lightly in glitter. In her left, Anna’s severed head, still primed with a white string to hang from the Christmas tree. Decapitated within 2 minutes.

As D2 told me that she was sooooooooo sorry (which is the same as being sooooooo careful, I’ve found, in terms of shaping children’s future behavior), I thought about how children were so hard sometimes because no matter how many times you said something or how seemingly simple the task–‘hold this one small thing that you wanted in your closed hand until we get to the car’–it never worked.  And there was breaking and crying and lateness.

I left decapitated Anna on the bathroom counter–Toddlers, ye be warned!–and we left for school with only plastic Elsa, sad and alone once more.


Throughout the day, though, I realized that as rough as parenting toddlers can be, I am pretty flake-y myself. My follow-through, pretty toddler-like, in fact. The work project that I hadn’t sent out specifics for on which other people were waiting. The appointments I needed to call and set up, the chores I needed to do, the errands I needed to run, the more chores I needed to do. The puppy I decided I wanted yesterday, only to realize that . . we can’t have a puppy, so I had to back out and disappoint people, including myself. Today, even, the hour I should have spent prepping dinner and straightening the living room that I instead spent watching Disney Toy Collector and sneaking chocolate chips out of the pantry. Flakey.


I guess the world is too big and the tasks too many, and we are only really able to focus on the handful of certain things that really matter. And the trick is figuring out what those are and doing them well, rather than scrambling to hold all of them.

When I picked D2 up from school, she was running through the playground with a pack of friends. When she saw me, she ran straight over and, with a huge hug, presented me with “the longest piece of grass ever!” She had found it herself almost an hour ago and had been clutching it for me the whole time so that it wouldn’t get lost.

I added the precious grass to my nature jar, which is full of sticks and pine cones, grass and dry flowers that my girls have given more over the years. There was once a period spanning almost two-months when toddler-aged Ella saved me a handful of grass every day (similarly clutched for hours) so that I could share the best part of her day.

We don’t have a whole Christmas ornament Anna anymore. And I did a pretty mediocre job cleaning and planning my work project. But I have the longest blade of grass ever in my nature jar, which seems like evidence of us holding on to the right things.

My beloved nature jar, with its new blade of grass.
My beloved nature jar, with its new blade of grass.

Hijacking my Soundtrack

Ever since I can remember, I wake up with a song in my head. Sometimes it is a song I heard the evening before. I imagine that it must have been swirling all night through my dreams, waiting for me to wake up and hum along again.

Or the pop song of the moment, which usually is by Taylor Swift or Maroon 5, whether I like it or not. (I like it.) The mind, after all, is a sponge; mine soaks up the most frequently presented pop wisdom of the day–See proof of Taylor’s wisdom–and stores it to be called upon in a time of need.

Every once in a while, the song in my head is something older. Something from my past that I haven’t heard any time recently that I can recall. These songs always seem special, like they were buried deep in my memory and fate surfaced them for some reason it knew before I did. Songs that would be the soundtrack I needed to guide me through that day.

My mantra has long been shaped by my internal, magically selected score.

UNTIL MY CHILDREN HIJACKED MY SOUNDTRACK.

At first, it seemed natural that sometimes the alarm would go off and my first conscious thought of the day was “Rise like the break of dawn! Let it go, let it g….” I mean, I had listened to it the day before (and before and before and before) and it was everywhere, so it was bound to sneak in sometimes. I embraced it. I would belt “Let It Go” out in the car and I didn’t always stop it immediately after daycare drop off. I kinda liked it.

But then the variety stopped. It was Frozen every day. Mostly “Let It Go” in my head all the time. I found myself singing it in the elevator. I whisper hummed it in the hallway at work. I tapped it out absent-mindedly at my desk. Sometimes–don’t tell anyone this–when I was sure I was completely alone in my office hallway, I pretended to be Elsa raising up an ice palace out of nothing to a grand swelling of the orchestra. Acted. it. out.

elsa ice palace stomp

I started wondering if I should talk to other people. I wondered if it was fair to keep showing up for my adult brain–oriented* job. I wondered if I wasn’t maybe a little bit like the deluded, thinks-she’s-cool mom from Mean Girls.
mean girls cool mom

I couldn’t get it to go away, so I decided we had to drill it out. After some (months of) cajoling, we listened to something else. Sofia the First. I liked it. My Little Pony. Really liked it. Jake and the Neverland Pirates. Meh. It was just nice to have variety again. Sometimes I was signing about puny pirates, sometimes I was the Rainbow Dash-half of the My Little Pony duet on the Best Pet contest. (It’s hilarious, for real.) I had new things to think and sing and hum.

But the pop music and the old music and the songs my mom sang to me when I was little, they didn’t come back. I remember the morning my mind arose with “Choo, Choo, Chugga, Chugga, Big Red Car” from the The Wiggles (if you don’t know it, don’t google it!! Keep your innocence and feel pleased with your life choices.), and I knew we had to make deep changes.

I started asserting my rights to sometimes choose the music for the commute again, listening to grown-up stuff on headphones while I did the dishes, and paying close attention to what they were dropping in the grocery store. Didn’t matter. My soundtrack was for the under-12 set.


I read an article on Common Sense Media that made me think my sub-conscious has made this soundtrack adjustment for parenting reasons. Apparently, it’s a good idea to:

1. Model listening to tame music. Check. My new edgy is the Ursula song from the Little Mermaid, since we had to take out most of the bad-guy arias from the other soundtracks because they were too scary.

2. Ask your kids to play their favorite songs for you. Double check. The challenge for me, frankly, is to ask them not to play their favorite songs for me. They both have figured out how to operate my smart phone’s playlists and my portable speaker, so they play their princess favorites for me all the time.

3. Discuss music messages. Like how someone asks me every time “What is happening in this part of the movie?” “Why is Anna sad?” “Is this about when Merida’s mom turns into a bear?” “Why do they say ‘Kill the beast?” We even talk about the messages in the instrumental numbers. We take our music messaging seriously.


IT WILL ALL BE OKAY

In just the past few weeks, the girls have started to request some pop music on their own. Katy Perry, inexplicably, is a favorite. And instead of feeling excited, like I thought I would, I feel a bit sad. I am the person who wants to listen to My Little Pony and sing the different parts.

My new cartoon-ish mental soundtrack reflects that fact that my whole being switched over to being a mom of awesome, smart, small people; kids who are so cool, I want to like what they like. And I want them to stay little so they they can stay mine.

I am going to see if me singing Disney songs all the time can make that happen. Either it will work, or it will make them think I am crazy, kind of embarrassing, rather out-of-date, and secretly cute in my parenting naivete. I think that is the next step, any way. Taylor Swift would definitely appreciate the wisdom of it.


*That’s right. I used an ‘en dash’ for the compound modifier in my blog post. Boom, grammar aficionados; Frozen didn’t take everything in this brain.

My kids are taking me, literally

My brilliant gymnastics teammate from college, Carolyn, is a real-life actress. And I really love one of her recent comedy sketches about children as the “Literal Police.”  First, check it out:

So, this video hit close to home because I always use hyperbole, and my kids have literally become the Literal Police at our house.

Just a Minute

There is no possible way to parent without saying, “Just a minute!” I feel completely certain and confident about this. I also feel confident that it is completely impossible to remain calm when a small person starts counting to 60 after you tell them to wait a minute. You just have to completely lose it.  It is the only way.

After all, “wait a minute,” is secret, polite-sounding parenting code for, “I have to/want to do something else, you won’t leave me alone, I sort of hate you right now, I wish were by myself.” So, when your adorable, adoring tormentor stands right next to you and counts slowly to 60, well, I am actually so annoyed just remembering times when this happened that I can’t finish writing this sentence.

I blame the whole thing on Frozen. (I feel internet readers nodding their heads in understanding approval. I mean, I’ve heard some children–like my sister–did the ‘count to 60’ thing back in B.F. (the time ‘Before Frozen’), but I can’t remember specifics about the era before Frozen, and suspect it is all just legend). Other parents of Frozen fanatics, do you remember the part of the movie where Anna tells Olaf to wait ‘for a minute’? Then Olaf counts to 60 before barging in? I remember seeing that scene unfold in the theater for the first time like it was yesterday (I think I did see that scene yesterday, like I see Frozen scenes most days. But I remember the emotion of that first time: the foreboding; the horror).

“1, 2, 3 . . .”

“Nooooo. Disney would never teach children . . .”

“59, 60!”

“OH, NO. You. Did. Not.”

Yup, Disney did. Within days, Ella was counting to 60 when I asked her to wait for a minute. I quickly converted to “moment” but it was too late. A whole world of literal-ity had literally been born. And I had paid Disney for it. 

I’ll be right there.
Just one more minute.
We’ll talk about that later.
I am almost ready.

All of a sudden, there was no safe way to talk about time or the future. All was lost. Forever.

But, after a minute of reflection, I see the other side of my kids’ taking me literally: it can be wonderfully hilarious. I love the way their minds work. For example, Ella had her first soccer game earlier this week. She was excited. I was nervous. It was her first game, her first team sport, maybe her first time listening, and I didn’t know how it would go since she doesn’t have . . . an established track record of strong athletic performance or a record of listening to anyone ever.

On the way to the game, I tried to build up her confidence and impart my sports wisdom. Engage with her team. Pay attention to her coach (MI). Run fast. Be aggressive with the ball. Listen to instructions. Be fierce.

Be fierce

The game started and she really got in there, running with the feral pack of other six-year olds arrayed in an electron-like circle around the ball. She was an outer electron, to be sure, but she was responsive and generally moving with the atom, so I was happy.

Max_and his clawsExcept her run. She was running in this wild way, swinging her arms in front of her body, in strange arcs above her head. Her fingers were spread and rigid, scrunched like talon-ed claws. She looked pretty much exactly like Max when he dances with the wild things.

When her (dad) coach finally subbed her out, I whisper-yelled for her to come over and asked her what she was doing with that crazy run. So looked confused and answered that she was just doing it how I told her to.

Uhhhh. . . when did I say, run like Grendel? Zombie manicure barbie? Deranged beekeeper? Raptor in the Jurassic Park kitchen?

She clarified: I told her to “BE FIERCE.” Animals are the things that people usually describe as “fierce.” Fierce animals are hunters. They have claws. So, to be fierce, you need claws. If a soccer player wants to “be fierce” she should channel the behavior of a cat of prey, and run with her outstretched claws.

How do you respond to that? I gave her her water and went back to cheering for her team, looking closely for other kids who were as strange as mine. (There were several. I love kids.)

Take-a-ways

  1. Ella’s team needs to discuss and practice some of the basic principals of soccer, and I should probably stay out of it until the basics have solidified.
  2. “Just a minute” is no longer a safe place for me, so I need to just hide in the bathroom sometimes.
  3. “Frozen,” beautiful American cinematic animated masterpiece that it is, also has the power to ruin lives. Watch with care. And Disney, teach no pranks, complaints, or annoyances if you want me to buy any more beaded plastic shoes or princess-branded pink yogurt. (As I typed that, I realized we already need to not buy plastic shoes or pink princess yogurt. So that’s, like, take-a-way 3b.)
  4. Be fierce.

Venn diagram, kitchen table, accidental fire.

Marriage is a Venn diagram: your preferences, the other person’s preferences, and the all important area of overlap in the middle that defines the way you can peacefully live your lives.

In fact, marriage is an almost infinite series of Venn diagrams. What music can we both tolerate in the car (MUSIC. Who is mature enough for NPR?)? What vegetables will we both eat (besides french fries, the ‘gimme’ I assume is included in all American Venn diagrams.)? Will the couch and/or bed have throw pillows pileofpillows(I did not, until 10 years ago, realize that this could be a topic for debate with some people. Who dislikes throw pillows?)?

When it comes to the Venn diagram of furniture, MI and I have a rather small overlap. MI seeks the beautiful, the artisan, the statement, the unique. I tend towards the easily and quickly acquired. The I-won’t-completely-lose-it-when-someone-colors-on-this-with-Sharpie. Mostly the “from Target.” 

So our house has all elements. The custom cherry wood bed frame that MI coveted for four years before I finally caved. (I hit my hip on the waterfall footboard almost every night for the first year of D2’s life as I stumbled toward her crying at 2am like a zombie. I think I still have an indent.) There are big box store bookshelves with wood-grain cardboard backing nailed on and shelves that bow like old camels. And who doesn’t have the Ikea Lack table?lack table

Despite the evidence of compromise over more than a decade of joint furnishing, there have been clashes. I vetoed the authentic oriental rug. He vetoed the end tables made of plastic storage tubs covered in extra fabric. I vetoed the amazing, custom hard wood (one bazillion dollar) loft/nook/trundle bunk bed. He vetoed the bedroom decor inspired by 10 things available RIGHT NOW at Home Goods (strike hard when that line is short, I say!)

And so I set up for you, dear reader, the saga of:

The Kitchen Table

MI had one picked out. It was the bed frame’s long lost brother, and for a handsome fee, we could bring them back together under one roof. Or, if we wanted to ‘cut back,’ we could get the same wood from a different place–not quite as artisan, not quite as beautiful, but less expensive and still quite nice.

I had one picked out. I mean, I could quickly have one picked out, once we lowered the back seat in the car and went to Target.

Neither wanted to budge. But we agreed that it was time for the old table to go. Craigslist buyers came much more quickly than I was expecting and all of a sudden, there was nothing in our dining room. Ella and D2 cried–for real–when they came down in the morning; I think they thought “When the Grinch Stole Christmas” was happening to us (and as it turns out, we don’t just keep singing.).

We called it our “Asian dining experiment.” We will love–LOVE–sitting cozily all together on the floor. We bought cute seat cushions. I laid out table cloths. We convinced the children life was now one long picnic. But we were fooling only ourselves. Children would accidentally step on my plate–a new problem when I thought

Me, in the time of no table.
Me, in the time of no table.

I had already faced all of the ways children could ruin a meal. People with joint pain were out of luck about getting back up from dinner. We had to assess whether potential dinner invitees were sufficiently open-minded to dine with us. And the sweeping. Oh, the sweeping.

FOR THREE MONTHS.

One day, I couldn’t take it. I couldn’t even make it to Target. I found an awesome-looking table online for $300 from a company I’d never heard of that they would ship for–who cares?–and was supposed to be easy to assemble. “Place order.” I didn’t tell MI until the world’s largest box was sitting on our porch the following week after work. The kids thought the Grinch had finally returned Christmas, but I could tell that not everyone was full of glee.

But MI, with his heart of gold, assembled my internet mystery table. And admitted that it looked “actually pretty nice.” I thought it was the best piece of furniture in the history of time and we had a full-on feast to celebrate. . . having a table. #classy

I felt a twinge of guilt, though, every time we passed MI’s favorite wood artisan store. And I could see the sadness in his eyes when friends (who came flooding back when we rejoined the modern world) asked where it was from and I couldn’t remember. “Online.” “Probably China.” Sigh.

The Fire

But regret over my pragmatic and cost-effective dining solution, graciously, was not to last long. One evening, less than three weeks after the table’s celebratory welcome feast, there was an accident. I will omit some details here, mostly because they are self incriminating, so I think I am allowed to do that, but choices were made and somehow, inexplicably, there was a fire on the table caused by a beautiful centerpiece tea candle and a reusable grocery bag (I was setting the mood and saving the environment, friends. Remember that.)

Turns out, melted plastic vinyl (or whatever they make those bags out of) is really hard to get off of fake internet wood. Annnnnd, also turns out, that a dinner knife is not as safe for scraping off burnt polyester as you’d think. (Even if you can’t see the scratches, your husband can.)

So, as an unfortunate byproduct of creating a beautiful home and preserving our children’s futures, I mildly, permanently disfigured the very center of the new kitchen table.

Thank goodness for whoever made this table at the low, low cost of $300 plus shipping. Thank goodness for not MI’s beloved fancy table. That fire would have been so much more emotional–perhaps impossible to recover from. I mean, think of the trauma to the bed frame had I killed his brother. It’d seem like motive after the nighttime hip-foot board incidents and I probably would be suspected of retaliatory arson.

So we have my table.Thank goodness for centerpieces, right? (But mind the candles.) And I also have new comfort for the future: I had promised MI that we could look into getting a super fancy table when we could feel more confident that our family wouldn’t destroy it. Turns out, the kids are not the only risk, so I might have bought myself extra time.

Relatedly, I turned the old, no-table floor cushions into throw pillows.  Mwahaha.couch with throw pillows

Lessons from the First Kid

Lessons: Yes, your baby can be naked in PF Changs, though people get judge-y. Two sets of clothes, always two sets of clothes. Never bring the small pack of wipes. Everything is a wipe in a time of crisis.

One of my favorite commercials ever is from the ‘First Kid, Second Kid’ series by Luvs diapers. They nailed this:

Not that I was THAT much crazy for my first kid. We don’t own that many umbrellas and they hadn’t yet invented squeezy baby food bags. (Seriously. HAD NOT INVENTED. I think I feel about that the way housewives of the 50s must feel about cooking dinner before the microwave: like, why did I even bother to start so early?) But I have some great first-time parent stories.

1.      The first time I took Ella to church. I dressed her in a WHITE VELVET dress (Why

IMG_9846do they even HAVE those??) with white tights and a onesie that contrasted perfectly with the dress detailing. And little baby shoes (why do they even HAVE those!??). And a matching hair bow. And she looked beautiful–angelic–and I was ready to show her off and feel perfect and proud. We got there and we sat down and reached in to pull her out for the Pride Rock-esque unveiling.

Sliding my hand under her to lift her out–wait, slimey? So slimey. Oh. OOOOH. Immediate retreat to mother’s room with carseat and slime baby. Can it be washed? No… Can they be saved? No. Do I have anything else…. No. We emerged 40 minutes later, both still somewhat slimey and the baby in a diaper… and a hair bow.

Lessons: no white, no shoes, always extra clothes, try not to leave the house.

 2.      My first time taking Ella to meet a friend at a REAL RESTAURANT. I had learned: stocked diaper bag, change of clothes, stroller, baby toy. I was ready.

As I parked the car, I checked to make sure everything was in order. And a good thing!! Her diaper was full and her pants a bit un-fresh. NO worries. I have a portable changing pad and extra clothes, so I will just take care of it right here. I am so prepared; she will still be so cute.

We enter the restaurant, friend admires, we order. Then Ella promptly has an adult-size bowel movement made out of baby slime poop that is immediately everywhere. So… we retreat to the bathroom. The ever-so-mildly dirty first pants are out in the car, out of reach; these *ARE* THE BACKUP PANTS!!! I don’t have enough wipes! How do you get paper towels while not leaving your baby unattended?? Should I just throw it all away? That’s wasteful…but this is a restaurant, in America… Can your baby just be naked in PF Changs? Is that allowed?

Lessons: Yes, your baby can be naked in PF Changs, though people get judge-y. Two sets of clothes, always two sets of clothes. Never bring the small pack of wipes. Everything is a wipe in a time of crisis.

3.      Calling the doctor to see if my baby was sleeping too much. Yes, I made this call, when Ella was about 4 months old. She slept until 8:00, woke up, ate, went back to sleep until noon, woke up ate, went back to sleep until 3. Two days in a row. I was used to her eating every 90 minutes so this sudden constant sleeping… was she okay? Was something wrong? Was she in a sleep coma because she wasn’t getting enough food? Did she need me to wake her up to eat more often? Was she over stimulated? Was she under stimulated? Should I wake her up to feed her or to stimulate her baby mind more…or less?

Lessons: Babies are almost always fine. Do not ask *why* the baby sleeps; say a quick prayer of thanks, turn on the TV, flip through a magazine, have lunch using two hands, make yourself some brownies. Never wake napping baby.*


Flash forward: Today I had lunch with several friends who have children younger than mine and find themselves still navigating the ‘First Kid’ stage. How far away those problems felt. Worries that needn’t be worried; issues that would sort themselves out; kids who would be just fine. 

Gone, for example, is my one-time paranoia about proper bedtime attire and whether the house was too cold and if I could use a blanket or instead needed a baby sleeping bag and what kind and zippers-or-snaps and…

[Me, calling up the stairs, halfheartedly] How is getting on your pajamas?
[Silence.]
HOW IS GETTING ON YOUR PAJAMAS?!
[Silence.]
PAAAJAAAMMMAS!!!!!!!!!
I am . . . getting ready to put on my pajamas.

… I’ll take it.

The perspective change I’ve already had post-infants probably implies that my updated set of current kid worries will also probably sort themselves out. Time to grab a handful of cheerios and brace.


*This advice is intended to be funny and ironic, not medical or universally applicable. For example, some people have gluten issues with brownies, real or imagined, and I get that. Modify as appropriate for you and your family.

To my future internet-savvy children

Dear future Ella and D2,

The year is, I guess, 20…20? (I don’t know, actually. I think this guess is influenced by my having just gone to the optometrist.) and you are *on the Internet.*

Maybe its after school. You idolize me still, and want to read the blog you’ve seen me work on over the years, to love and understand me even better. And there you’ll find all of my parenting secrets from your early years. I knew this day would come. Now, you are ready for:

A list of things that I suppose I should tell you now that you can read my blog.

[[Aside to present day readers: The use of “sneaky code names” was at first a bit silly to me. Most of the people who come to this site at present know who I am (except that mystery reader in Qatar. Marhaba, Qatarian fan!) At least until I make it big in the blogging world, which I think mostly happened to people like five years ago. So, I worried that perhaps monikers are more confusing than helpful.

But, I recently read an article about cyber bullying that made me realize the value of code names in minimizing the material easily searchable about my children. I suppose they’ll leave their own internet trail, but I will try not to add to it. After all, I would hate for their friends in high school to know that they spent several years mis-using markers and failing to clear the table.]]

  1. The batteries in musical toys given to you by relatives didn’t really last for one magical day. That was just my patience for them.
  2. The store pretty much always has marshmallows.
  3. I put kale in the milkshakes.peeps on a stick
  4. Yes, you had enough allowance money to buy peeps-on-a-stick. And a small bounce-y ball. But I wanted to help you learn about saving and those were terrible purchase ideas.
  5. Sometimes I *did* have a quarter. But those are for parking, not artificially-flavored blue raspberry gumballs that one of you will swallow and one of you will lose in the car.
  6. The cleaners never threw your art in the trash. You made an unsustainable volume of art, some of which was just off-brand pasta glued to green paper. Our house is small. Reduce, reuse, recycle.
  7. Eating candy has never made teeth fall out, that I am aware of. I have actually found (from my friend) that if you eat it consistently, you build up immunity and it cannot make you sick, even if you eat it on an otherwise empty stomach. Try not to overdo it.
  8. I put carrots in the smoothies.smoothie in blender
  9. When you demanded medicinal cream for extremely minor or imagined injuries, I gave you Vaseline. It worked, though: check your hand!  Healed, right?
  10. They did have your size of light-up mock-glass slippers at Target. I just could not own them.
  11. I was not really going to call your teacher/the neighbor/your dad/Santa to confirm your story. I could tell you were lying to me. You would crumble under pressure. Or Santa would actually know about it.
  12. Soap isn’t that expensive. I just drives me crazy that I have to replace it weekly in thesoapy seashell bathroom because D2 avoids cleaning time by creating Aerial’s under-the-sea bubble kingdom in the sink and painstakingly filling decorative seashells with soap.
  13. Putting the Kit-Kat under Ella’s pillow from the Tooth Fairy was actually my (in retrospect, poorly thought-out) idea. We were out of dollar bills and I was not going to give you a five. And now you know about how I save quarters. When you gave me the melted part to throw away, I ate it.

Phew, I am glad to get that off my chest. Maybe I’ll make regular installments in this series. I know you’ll still love and seek to understand me. Except when you’re a teenager, which I am already working to make peace with.

Make good choices!

Getting Your Kids to Listen: Pro Tips from an Expert

If I got a dollar for every time I said:

“Thank you for politely listening right away!”

I’d start saying it all the time.

Not because it was true, but because it would be nice to be a salaried parent. And I’d be saying something that–when true–probably makes you feel like a really amazing mom.

Professional parenting. Boom.

baby listening

Big reveal:

I am actually a professional at asking my kids six times, using the tonal pattern:

1. so nice, so polite / 2. nice, polite / 3. pretty nice, drop polite / 4. edgy, but sane / 5. threatening loss of privileges with moderate loss of perspective / 6. yelling in that voice I promised I would never use.

That last one is the one that usually works, but I never jump straight to step 6; I am a true professional, and I stick to the system.

Ella currently is in a one-week camp at an MMA studio (which was my idea, you might have guessed; I was hoping it was ‘make you listen and be somewhat coordinated’ boot camp for small people). She described one of her teachers as “less chance-y” than me. Apparently, whereas I give lots and lots of chances to listen before I dole out punishment, Ms. Sarah asks once and then you’re sitting on your knees facing the wall.

Props, Ms. Sarah. Come over anytime–I’ve got a kids’ chore list and a dollar with your name on it.