Frosting, Raisins, Rabbits and Other Reasons My Kids Totally Lost It

My kids are in an emotionally volatile place.

Right now, because it is afternoon, but they don’t really nap anymore.

Later this afternoon, because they won’t have had dinner yet.

In the late evening because they ARE NOT TIRED.

Tomorrow, because it will be a school day.

And, just generally, because they are children.

I haven’t decided if all of the sobbing is because they are deranged, emotional messes who cannot yet control themselves, or because they are still in touch with the true meaning of life and capable of feeling deeply and so expressing without shame.

Either way, they are exhausting, but often hilarious at the same time.

Reasons, of late, my kids have completely lost it:

  1. I put golden raisins in the Amazeballs.Amazeballs
  2. She remembered–after waking up in the dead of the night–that the piece of cake she was given at her classmate’s birthday party last week fell over on its side and she couldn’t see the frosting.

    The horror
    The horror
  3. I unzipped her dress when it was stuck over her head. (She could have done that herself.)
  4. I did not come immediately to help when it turned out she could NOT do it by herself.
  5. I said that we would never get a pet rabbit.
  6. I explained *why* we would never get a pet rabbit–they like to hop freely in the green grass with their families–and she cried that other people could be so cruel as to keep pet rabbits.pet rabbits
  7. I told her that her shoes were on the wrong feet.
  8. I threw away her broken Easter basket in July.
  9. Her sister sprayed her with the hose when they were outside, naked, playing with the hose.
  10. I said she could not have pasta for breakfast.
  11. I played the Kidz Bop version of “Shake It Off,” instead of the real version by Taylor Swift.
  12. I took the HOV lane, when she wanted to follow the red car in the slow lane.
  13. Today is Tuesday. She hates Tuesday.
  14. Her sister forgot to refer to her by her pretend name of “Disney Toy Collector.”
  15. I would not drink the fairy pond water in the pink plastic teacup that was “just for me.”
  16. D2: The cupcakes should be purple.IMG_20150315_115608242
    Ella: The cupcakes should be pink.
    D2: The cupcakes HAVE TO BE PURPLE.
    Ella: Purple gives me a headache!
    D2: No it doesn’t–and grandma already told me they could be purple.
    Ella: If they are purple, I will not eat them. Not. at. all.
    D2: Fine, I will eat them all myself because purple is my favorite.
    Ella: Mooooooom, its not fair! She said she was going to eat ALLL the cupcakes.
  17. She begged to go to gymnastics camp, so I signed her up for gymnastics camp, and then made her go to gymnastics camp.
  18. Her mermaid doll can not stand up by itself on the tip of its tail.
  19. Her book does not stand upright in the carseat cupholder.
  20. I threw away the pink pig she made yesterday out of a paper dinner plate. (Apparently it was a special pig that we were supposed to keep forever.)
  21. She asked me if we could move to Florida, and I said, “Not today.”
  22. I decided to wear slacks to work instead of a dress.

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.

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.

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?

“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.

Clean is the new rich.

(My youngest daughter, D2, is at the wonderful age where she almost completely grasps conversational language but does not completely grasp the world. I find this a magical, hilarious time in all of our lives and try to capture her fantastic dialogue for all to enjoy.)

D2, in the car, planning her future happiness.

D2: Mom, when I grow up we can’t get married because you are already married to Daddy, right?
Me: Right.
D2: So I can’t marry Daddy either.
Me: Right. He is already married to me.
D2: And I can’t marry Ella…
Me: Right. Because she is your sister.
D2: No, because she is not good at clean up.

She may not quite get “marriage” yet, but she has good taste and clearly has picked up on some of the key things to look for.

Cleaning-supplies-1al6xdr