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?

I Know Cabin Fever

How long until we were buried up to our necks in My Little Ponies and pieces of discarded popcorn and semi-functional markers without lids? Not long, I assert, not long at all.

Our family just finished a six-ish day weekend. D2’s school was closed on Thursday and Friday for teacher development, then regular weekend’s “stay-at-home” days, then President’s Day holiday, then snow day. And this morning was a school delayed start. So you’d think I would have had plenty of time to write a blog post during all of those crazy days, right? You’re right. But I didn’t. Here’s why:

1. I pretty much cleaned the whole time. When there is a snow day, I have a tradition of deep cleaning (tradition=two, or maybe three, times before this). Something about being trapped in my small home surrounded by piles of things makes me want to get rid of it all. This weekend I tackled my bedroom closet. And it is so much neater and I got rid of lots of things I don’t need anymore. The untrained observer might wonder how seven pairs of sneakers survived the purge, but that observer should stop being so judge-y and admire my t-shirts progress and the several pairs of donate-able heels I identified. (I find heels so much easier to give away than sneakers, don’t you? I like to imagine they are going to someone who would actually wear them–love them even. I think there are people who love heels, right? Win for me, win for the new owner, win for the shoes, who can finally feel good about themselves. Masochists.)

2. I pretty much cleaned THE WHOLE TIME. When I wasn’t deep cleaning, I was straightening. We have been working hard as a family to keep our house neater. I have found the best way to accomplish this goal is to minimize the time we spend at home. But this long, snowy weekend was all of us–and sometimes neighbors–always at home. So I had to put my best self toward the effort. I alternated between feeling:

a. Like Mr. Incredible (not the husband nickname, but the Pixar super hero):

b. and, A morbid curiosity about what would happen if I stopped straightening all together: How long until we were buried up to our necks in My Little Ponies and pieces of discarded popcorn and semi-functional markers without lids? Not long, I assert, not long at all.

3. MI hogged the good computer. It *is* his computer, admittedly, but I started using it too a while ago and now find that I can’t possibly work on a computer with only one monitor. Writing a blog is an evil genius job, and I don’t feel like an evil genius unless there are two screens. He was using the two-screen computer all weekend. “Taxes and summer camp registration and critical file backup,” he claimed. But I know he was just staying in the room farthest from the toy and art disaster areas, blocking out the “Frozen” soundtrack repeat loop, and hoping against all hope that small children feed themselves over the weekend. Well played, MI, well played.

4. D2 is 3 years old. In my anecdotal field study, based on a very small sample, this is the age at which children go completely crazy. (How did terrible two’s get the bad rap? Two is adorable. Three, dear readers: fear three.) She was so cute, playing around all weekend. Until something UNBELIEVABLY TERRIBLE happened. Like the clip-clop pony princess could not fight gravity and go up the ramp of its own accord. Or when she tried to color over glitter glue with markers, the markers got glitter glue on them. Or hand washing went awry and a drop of water landed on her dress, requiring an entire outfit change. Crusts on bread. Snow on shoes. Sauce on pizza. Syrup on fork. Milk instead of … not milk. Yesterday’s dress still in the laundry. The list of awful things that happened this weekend was long, and we all paid the emotional price.

So now, on a youwouldthink busier day in which I was back to work and had an appointment and am leaving soon for yoga I sat down to write. Because I have energy, and perspective, and no time yet to make popcorn. Booyah cabin fever, take that.

Children and the Scientific Method

Hypothesis


There exists an inverse relationship between the number of times a child says your name to get your attention and the importance of the thing they are about to say.

Observations


      1. [While I am on the phone] “Ella’s mom? Ella’s mom? Can you do something for me? How long are you going to be on the phone? Are you off the phone yet? Can you do something *and* talk on the phone? I can wait. Ella’s mom? Ok, I will wait downstairs. I just wanted to let you know I am downstairs waiting, ok?”
        “Ok, thanks for waiting. I am ready! What do you need?”
        “Can you please print me a picture of a dingo?”
      1. [While I am cooking] Mom. Mom! Mom, mom, mom, mom?
        Yes?
        Can I tell you something?
        Yes.
        Thanks. [Deep breath.] My eye doesn’t hurt.
        I am so glad. Did it used to hurt?
        No. It never hurts.
      1. [During bedtime] Mom!  MOM!
        MOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMM!
        MoooooOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMY!
        [Climbs two flights of stairs.] What?
        I don’t want to lay on my back. I want to lay on my stomach.
        Ok.
        Thanks, mom!! [Rolls over without assistance.]

Conclusions


Children either say crazy things after calling your name many times, or always.  Further research suggested to identify times when children do not interrupt parents to say crazy things.

Also, be careful how you search for pictures of dingos.

Friends.

Friends never wake up at night, except to go independently to the bathroom or quietly solve their own problems.

Our family’s semi-annual trip to the dentist was a highlight of my day. They had this new, super comfy headrest and the hygienist hardly spoke while she polished my teeth, so I could just lay there with my eyes closed. Ahh, it was a day of appreciating the dentist chair.

The rest of the day had too much crying and whining and work presentations with mathematical content. While I was cooking dinner, I reached the end of my patience–hours earlier than usual. I normally make it smoothly until second bedtime until I lose it. Today, I lost it in the kitchen at a pan of potstickers that were supposed to be dinner and got unyieldingly stuck to the pan. (I just heard that in my head as I wrote it. WTF, potstickers!? I should probably feel like a moron, but I feel mad. Instead of just calling them “potstickers,” why don’t we address the underlying problem, Trader Joe’s?) Any way, as I was throwing a seventh-grade style fit at the Asian food in my kitchen, Ella interrupted to ask me to come help her find something. Something I had JUST handed her. (Originally, I blamed her first distraction for the potsticker situation. I’ll have to reevaluate that, given the new information.)

I told her to go look by herself. Three times. She got that I wasn’t caving, so she left. Not to look; to write me a note about my behavior.

To those who don't speak kindergarten phonetic, no-vowel spelling, it says, "Friends help each other [who knows] look for things."

To those who don’t speak kindergarten phonetic, no-vowel spelling, it says, “Friends help each other [who knows] look for things.

She brought it in, hung it on the dishwasher next to me, and cleared her throat.

Friends help each other. A beautiful lesson I taught her. Or Dora the Explorer. I am an advocate of “helping.” Not maybe at earlier today in the kitchen, but going forward, I think I can get behind this new model of friendship and communication. I have sayings ready for several new signs to deck out the house:

  • Friends appreciate a good stretch of silence every so often.
  • Friends moderate their use of hand soap. Seriously, D2.
  • Friends never wake up at night, except to go independently to the bathroom or quietly solve their own problems.
  • Friends do NOT need poop assistance of any kind. Ever.
  • Friends enjoy a wide variety of music, with each song in daily moderation.
  • Friends understand and make peace with the inevitable instance we forget something when leaving the house. They never just sob “I need my ___________” over and over in the car.
  • Friends LOVE having their hair fixed. Brushed, even styled. When it is time to style it, they hold still, admire your braiding skills, and remember not to immediately practice somersaults.
  • Friends always know the location of both mates to at least one pair of shoes at all times.

Excuse me. I am off to make these signs. And look for Ella’s thing.

Sleeping in on a winter day: a fond tribute

I am awake. I am tired, and work and school are opening late on account of the 1.5 inches of snow, and I have fresh, supremely warm flannel sheets on my bed. But I am not in bed. D2 convinced me that I wanted to watch Octonauts–and she is very persuasive.

I tried to resist. When she initially came in, I followed past precedent of identifying an arbitrary future time when I thought I could be willing to wake up and told her to come back. After two long, probably mostly unbearable minutes, she returned to see if it was time yet. It was not, but I had already played–and lost–my ‘come back later’ card. As I write this I realize that card never wins.

I told her I couldn’t get up yet–it wasn’t THE TIME!–so she could either go play by herself or cuddle with me.  Silently. She began to cry that she couldn’t play by herself. (Who did I think she was!?) so I told her to climb in the bed. She used my neck to hoist herself up, and snuggled right in. She was holding a dress on a plastic hanger, leggings, socks, and a blanket, so–herself overloaded–she handed me some things to hold during the cuddle. I got the hanger dress and the socks. (You have to HOLD them, mom, or they will get lost!!) So I cuddled up, underneath the hanger, holding someone else’s socks, smashed between two people who were pretending to sleep. Ahh, lazy mornings.

D2 is a snugly child. It is one of her greatest toddler attributes. And, sometimes, one of her most powerful weapons. Once situated beneath her future OOTD, nestled asclosetomeaspossible, she began to stroke my face. And whisper that she loves me. And it is morning time. That’s the time to get up, mom! The sky is awake. And breakfast sure sounds nice. Do I want a donut? Then she tried to braid my hair; tricky, as it lay underneath the rest of my head against the pillow, but she was not deterred. Next, she (rather aggressively) kissed my eye and forehead. Over and over while I pretended that I did not notice, since I was asleep. Going for the win, she added loud smacking sounds and started to sing. It was then I realized, it WAS time to get up–not THE TIME–but time. I had been bested, and I needed to wash my eye.

It is nice, I admit, to have all this extra time in the morning. I (could have) done dishes and laundry and made hot breakfast. Sometimes, when I arrive at work after having already been awake for hours, I feel like a superhero to have gotten so many things done already. To have more ‘day’ than other people. A tired superhero who needs some tea and whose coworkers think she is crazy, but a superhero all the same.

I hope your morning was as exciting as D2s’. Or as productive as Captain Barnacles’. octonauts
He just saved twelve huge whales from. . . something.

Or that you slept in–are sleeping still!–alone in your bed surrounded by silence and warmth. Ahhhh…. I remember it well.

“Even though I got this a long time ago, it is still sort of the way it is supposed to be.”

Fortunately, as I said, we were toward the back. And in an act of true grace, the woman immediately behind us was *actually* blind. And there was another three-year old who kept yelling loudly. I thought we could make it.

Or, the story of how children mostly just break everything.

The quote in the title was part of a explanation from my five-year old neighbor, said with an air of pride and surprise, that she had owned her plastic sword for a very long time (like, more than a year) and it had not broken yet. So remarkable was that fact, she had decided the sword was unbreakable–even though made of plastic and purchased at the circus. I am totally with her, though; that sword must have some magic powers, because children break pretty much everything.

I share the most recent example: this morning at church. We came in late, as we do, and so sat toward the back. Ella was in charge of packing her own entertainment for the one hour-ish session and carefully selected five, small, identical plastic zebras. (The choice, incidentally, allowed me to say the awesome, new-to-humanity sentence, “Stop lining up your zebras and brush your hair.” I always like thinking that I am saying something that no one has ever said before.) We sat next to dear friends of ours and their similarly-aged daughter had also brought plastic animals. What are the odds?  She had reptiles–snakes and lizards and something else. Maybe frogs. The zebras and the lizards tried to hang out together at first. Lining up. Thinking about Pride Rock and the Glass Menagerie. Planning future dioramas. But, eventually, a fight broke out.  And the snakes kept knocking the zebras over and the zebras stampeded the reptile cave. It was all in good fun–very energetic, almost-certainly-louder-than-it-should-have-been fun–and I mostly let it go because we were still on track for her best behavior at church all year. Maybe ever.

Big mistake. As it turns out (hindsight, oh, hindsight), the menagerie fight served to awaken the real beast: six-year old destructive energy. The incessant moving. The inability to keep from grabbing all objects in proximity. Running and jumping as the only acceptable method of transportation. Fortunately, as I said, we were toward the back. And in an act of true grace, the woman immediately behind us was *actually* blind.  And there was another three-year old who kept yelling loudly. I thought we could make it.

Communion. Ella was late walking up the aisle with the rest of us because she had to collect her five zebras to come along. Obviously. And then she realized half way up that she couldn’t receive bread and hold zebras, so she gave them all to me. Awesome. My pants had pockets, so I filled them with zebra. We had a nice, peaceful 53 seconds of communion, and then MI and D2, following proper protocol, left the altar. Ella did not. She stood on it and started to bounce. No. I leaned in to stop her and lead her away, at precisely the same time that she either lost interest, realized it was almost time for snack, or saw an opportunity to run.

She exuberantly bounded off the altar–straight into my face–as I leaned forward to corral her. And thus came to pass the first time that someone BROKE MY NOSE AT CHURCH. Right up in front of the congregation. At the altar of God. Immediately next to the choir.  BROKE MY NOSE AT CHURCH.

My eyes watered, but I did not scream or cry. Pretty much, I was a badass at getting my nose broken at church. I do think people noticed, since she and I were pretty much the last ones up there. MI told me, though, that it was not clear from my face whether I’d had a strongly spiritual moment or a terrible accident. I bet they assumed the best of me, unless they’d been watching Ella much. She immediately realized my pain and loudly apologized with, “I am sorry. I am so sorry. I am soooo sorry. Can I have my zebras?” I yell-whispered that no, she could NOT have her zebras (No zebras if you break someone’s nose.) and shuffled, semi-blind back to my seat.

Reflection. After the end of the service, which was graciously not long, MI and my friend laughed at the story and then politely suggested that my nose was perhaps rather crooked. I straightened it the best I could in the bathroom, with some backup from MI in the car, and am now waiting to see what happens post-swelling.

I add this to the pile of stories of things broken. The mounting list of mysteriously missing items. The odd way everything is sticky around the house. Kids.

And even though I had them seemingly a long time ago, everything is still sort of the way it is supposed to be.

Thank you?

Yesterday, I was in a multi-person, adult meeting–in the middle of speaking!–when my daughter entered the room, interrupting the conversation to hand me her half-eaten apple. She was done. Here, momma. I took it, as I do, and said “thank you” as she walked away. Said it automatically, without really thinking.

Thank you? Thank you for being willing to have someone else throw this apple away for you. Thank you for not screaming about being finished. Or hiding the core in the depths of our friends’ couch. Or throwing it at someone. Or trying to flush it down the toilet.

Thank you for eating fruit. Thank you for walking away, instead of insisting that I eat the rest of this apple, right now while you watch. Thank you for not vomiting. (Always, thank you for not vomiting.) Thank you that this interruption was quite short. And that you were fully clothed and had recently blown your nose, on account of the guests. Thanks for only eating half so that there was somewhere obvious to hold.

Thank you, my thoughtful little friend. Thank you for all that this interaction was not, but so easily could have been. I will throw away your apple. In the trash can you passed on the way over.

Gratitude in parenting–such a low bar.