Warts and All

I was speaking with a colleague today about how difficult it can be to have small children and how much they can try your patience. Often, the stuff that makes it to the blog is the fun, entertaining, aren’t-they-so-cute stuff, but a lot of the time it’s just plain hard to have 2 small kids and be 2 full-time working parents, I don’t care how amazing you or your children are.

Case in point, our adventures with ice cream the other day.

I had a day off, put the kids in school so I could run errands, and told them that I’d pick them up early so we could get ice cream together, thinking it would be a fun idea.

We get to Little Man Ice Cream and the boy chooses chocolate with sprinkles in a flat cone. I get the girl strawberry with sprinkles and we sit down on a bench to eat. The girl is somewhat incredulous at being given a whole cup of ice cream all to herself, and proceeds to gorge herself with no attention to precision and globs of pink fly onto her raincoat. The boy is standing up, licking away at his cone, entirely content.  I feel like a great mom having a great time with her great kids.

Then, it all goes to hell.

The sun goes behind the clouds, and the boy says, “Can we finish our ice cream at home? My hands are getting so cold!!”  It seems reasonable enough, but I’ve forgotten that you can’t reason with a 22 month old.  I tell the girl, “Let’s finish our ice cream at home,” while I take the cup out of her hands.  She responds by screaming continuously.  I try to pry the spoon out of her fist but it’s no use.  It’s her only ice cream left and she’s not having it.  I can’t pick up the livid toddler and carry her ice cream at the same time, so I give the cup to the boy (whose ice cream is now in a cup as well) and we start walking to the car.

As he walks with ice cream cups in hand, he trips and falls prostrate on the ground, scraping his palms on the sidewalk.  Both cups tumble to the ground.  He stands up and starts bawling while I try to console him with the fact that none of the ice cream touched the ground.  Remember, the girl is now being carried like a battering ram and screaming her head off the entire time.  The boy gets it together, still sniffling, and we get to the car where the girl proceeds to make her body as rigid as a board and refuses to get into her carseat.  With no small amount of wrangling, I manage to strap her in, but I’m frazzled now and say to the boy, who is standing behind me,  (and this, I’m not proud of) “I wish you could have just stayed there a few more minutes! She’s so upset now!!”

To which the boy starts wailing, “I’m SORRRRYYYY!!!!” and crying as loud as HE can, repeating “I’m sorry!” over and over.  I get to experience screeching in surround sound.

Sigh.  Two screaming kids and a guilt trip is not what I had had in mind.  People are staring, too.

I turn around, give the boy a kiss, hug him and say, “I’m sorry.  It’s okay–it was getting pretty cold.  Tell you what–let’s go home, turn on the fireplace, and eat our ice cream by the fire where it’s warm and toasty.”  This mollifies him and we put the ice cream into the cup holders in the back seat, where they fit perfectly. 

At home, the girl hyperventilates in her high chair until she gets the ice cream in front of her and proceeds to demolish it and then lick the cup.  The boy parks in front of the fireplace and eats the rest of his as well; peace is restored.

It all ended well, indeed, but there were a few moments in there where I just had to take deep breaths and do my best to remain calm, and even that I failed to do entirely.  This post doesn’t even begin to cover the mad morning rush to feed/clothe/transport children and the reverse routine at night that we have on a daily basis.  All of this to say that while it’s fun and I wouldn’t trade it for anything, it’s challenging too–and I’m well aware that many parents have it much tougher.  I know that you, too, have a story of when you were not a particularly graceful parent under pressure, and I just want you to know that you are not alone.

Doing Things Once…or Twice…or Forever

I’m a big proponent of letting your children injure themselves.  Wait…that didn’t come out quite right.  What I mean is that when my kids are doing something stupid that could get them hurt, I think sometimes it’s better to let them get hurt and learn a lesson rather then continually telling them to stop doing whatever it is.  This doesn’t apply to things in which mortal injury could befall them–I’m not letting them learn how to cross a street by dropping them in the middle of Speer Boulevard or anything, but for minor infractions it works well.  The central flaw in this amazing parenting technique that I am now sharing with you is that four-year olds have notoriously short memories.

For example, the other night at dinner, the boy was playing around while sitting on his chair and barely sitting on the front corner of it.  I was sick to death of telling him to sit properly, and just waited to see what would happen. Sure enough, a few minutes later, the boy and the chair go flying in opposite directions.  His plate careened across the table and conveniently landed onto the high chair tray without breaking.  The boy lay prostrate on the hardwood floor, crying.  Eric and I just waited in our chairs for him to get up.

When he finally did, blood was dribbling from his lip and we sort of panicked, scared that he had bitten through his lip.  As it turned out, he hadn’t quite made it that far but it was still a pretty bad cut.


We got him an ice pack and some ibuprofen, and that made things better.  Of course, at that point the only thing he could eat was ice cream, so ice cream for dinner it was.  While eating his ice cream, the boy slid to the corner of the chair and sat in the EXACT SAME POSITION he was when he first fell.  At this point, I now have an injured child who is rewarded for his actions by getting “I-bee-profen” (which he loves) AND ice cream AND is still engaging in the action that all of this was supposed to prevent!  Yet again, the scoreboard reads: Parents 0, Child 1.

Stay tuned for other innovative parenting techniques and my successes with them.

History repeating itself

When I was about, oh, three years old, apparently I snuck into the bathroom while my mother was taking a nap (and thought I was, too) and managed to get my hands on her makeup and end up covering myself and the bathroom with it.  Quite literally red-handed thanks to the lipstick, I vigorously denied touching her makeup at all.

A few days ago, I got proof that the force runs strong within my family, at least when it comes to mishaps involving cosmetics.

Having put the boy to sleep in our bed as per usual, Eric and I went downtairs to watch the somewhat forgettable yet moderately entertaining “Bollywood Hero.”  About an hour later, Eric goes upstairs to check on the kids, and shortly yells downstairs “You have to get up here right now!” Worried that some mortal ill has befallen our children, I race upstairs, only to find the bathroom covered in plum nail polish.  It is dripped onto the tiles and sink, dried on the sink handles and bowl, and there is a puddle of it in the middle of the bathroom spilling over onto the grout.

I go to see the boy who is sleeping in our bed with the cover pulled up just over his hands.  I wake him up and he brings his hands out from under the duvet, entirely covered in dried nail polish.  He also has a few streaks between his toes. I can’t help myself–I start laughing, because the situation is just too ridiculous for words.  We get the boy in the bathroom, who keeps answering “I don’t know” or “I didn’t do it” to all queries, and Eric intermittently yelling at him.  Initially I use nail polish remover but then realize that I don’t want my child to get acetone poisoning so I just scrub his hands and feet and get it off of his skin as best as I can.  We get the boy to sleep in his own bed and then finish cleaning up the rest.

Trying to figure out what happened, we trace the drops of polish from the bathroom, over the carpet, to the nightstand, which we find has polish dripped all inside the drawer.  Our nice Room&Board nightstand, no less.

To then piece together what happened, the nail polish was in the nightstand for some reason (Eric’s side, I might add) and the boy just HAD to know what it was.  He must have opened it, it started to spill, and then I can just hear his little brain going, “Oh shit oh shit oh shit” (or whatever sanitized toddler version he speaks in his head) and get it into the bathroom as quickly as possible, where he dropped the bottle on the floor and created the puddle, and then tried to clean it up with his hands, only to find that it dried on his hands and all surfaces.  Panicking, he gave up and went to bed, carefully covering his hands with the comforter, and hoping we wouldn’t notice.

The aftermath:IMGP2499