Chatterboxes III

A few months ago the Boy had a sleepover at a friend’s house with 3 other boys.  His friend’s dad was telling spy stories, and one of them involved the army.

Other kid A: “What does the army do again?”

Other kid B: “They fight to defend our freedom!”

My Boy, upset: “NO! They do NOT fight to defend our freedom!! They fight for oil! and natural resources!! The ACLU fights to defend our freedom!!”

Seriously, readers, I am not making this up. Eric takes this as a liberal parenting victory.

Disclaimer: When I asked the boy about this the other day, he had no idea what the ACLU was, but stood by his prior remarks regarding the army. Still, the source was a reliable one and I’m sure it happened that one time.


Girl, having a fit about practicing her violin.

In fairness, this was really my fault-she was too tired and it was bound to happen. I send her up to her room to calm down and say that I’ll be up to talk to her in a bit. I go up a few minutes later, and find her on her bed, leafing through “The MIlestones Project,” a book that has pictures of kids all around the world going through the same milestones–first lost tooth, sibling, etc.

She is sniffling as she turns the pages, and then says in a low growl, “All of these kids…they have a better life than me! I have a HORRIBLE life!!!”

A bit dramatic, are we?


Boy, shaking his head: I’ve just had too much death lately.

Me: What?! What do you mean?! Who died?

Boy: Well, there was a big battle. First, thunderpaw died, and then ravencat, and then whiskerface.

Me: Are you … talking about Warriors?

Boy: Yeah.  Just too much death.

For the uninitiated, Warriors is a book series about a band of warrior cats.  Yes, warrior cats. It is interminably dense.


Girl: Mommy, you can’t go to work anymore!

Me: Why not?

Girl: Because I will miss your big, fat, belly too much!

We then got into a belly comparison of who had the fatter belly. I still won.


Girl, having a fit, having been told to go to her room, top of her lungs: OKAY! YOU ANNOYINGPANTS!

The next morning, Eric says: Girl, remember last night when you were having your fit and you called your mom “Annoyingpants”?

Girl: I called BOTH of you Annoyingpants!


One night we went to the Mercury Cafe-the Boy’s guitar teacher’s band was playing. We got there early and the boy asked if he could go outside and run around a bit, to which I replied that no, it’s night time in a bad neighborhood so he needed to stay inside.

Ten minutes later, the girl asks: Are there hyenas here?

Me: No…there’s no hyenas around here. Why do you ask?

Girl: Well, you said it was a dangerous neighborhood, so I thought there must be hyenas!

I just love that in her mind, there is nothing that could make a neighborhood dangerous except hyenas. Of course.


Me, to half naked girl: Girl, go upstairs and put a shirt on!

Girl: Okay!

She runs upstairs as fast as she can, then sprints downstairs. As soon as she hits the landing, she says: Fu-yoo! (her 2 syllable version of “phew!”) I made it!

Me: From what?

Girl: Oh, whenever I go upstairs to get something I pretend there are wolves there so I have to go fast and escape them.I escaped them this time!


And lastly, one morning the light was streaming through the blinds brightly, so I lowered them.

Girl: I HATE the sun!

Me: Oh, really? Well, then you must be a vampire.

Girl, dead serious, knitting her brow: You think I am a vampire? For real life? (side note: this is one of her favorite expressions these days, and I’ll be sad when she loses it. Instead of saying “for real,” she says this.)

Me: Yeah.  I mean, if you don’t like the sun then you must be a vampire.

Girl: Mom, I would NEVER suck your blood.

She then leans over, clamps her little mouth onto my forearm for a moment, and then releases me.

Girl: See? I can’t suck your blood. I am not a vampire.

I guess that proves it.  My daughter is NOT a vampire who has a horrible life and escapes wolves upstairs. My son has faced too much death lately and believes in the ACLU.

More Chatter

Another installment in “Tales…from Parenting….” (cue spooky music)

We were driving and the girl started to have a nosebleed.  This is not an uncommon occurence here as it is so unbelievably dry. The kids are both pretty used to it and she exclaimed “Mommy! I have a bloody nose!” I looked in the rearview mirror and indeed, there was blood dripping out of her nose.  I looked in the center console of the car for a tissue or napkin or fabric anything and couldn’t find anything.  Anything, that is…except a tampon.  Aaaaaand, yeah, I did.  It was one of those ones without an applicator.  I unwrapped the plastic covering and handed to her, telling her to stick that in her nose but not push too far. Given that it’s meant to soak up blood, the device worked quite well and the bleeding soon stopped. (Medical aside–this is really not all that different from the actual medical device used to stop serious nosebleeds, but those are generally a bit smaller. And come with more appropriate names like, “Rhino Rocket.”) Of course, the boy asked me what that thing was, and so I told him as simply as possible. “Oh, okay,” he said.  And the day proceeded.

Later, the same day…we’ve been listening to the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy audiobooks while we drive.  We’ve listened to “The Hobbit” (11 hours) and “The Fellowship of the Ring” (19 hours) and are now on “The Two Towers.”  (about 8 hours in)  The boy loves the stories (as do I, a longtime fan) and I’d always thought that the girl did too, though I’ve always thought her comprehension of the books was around fifty percent or so of what was actually happening. The other day we were heading home from the Art Museum and I started to put on the audiobook. I was really looking forward to it as we had just finished the Battle of Helm’s Deep and I wanted to hear what was going to happen next.  As the narrator started to speak, the girl exclaimed, “Not Lord of the Rings AGAIN!!!” I said, “Girl, I thought you liked listening to these books!” She replied, “Not anymore! They are boring, boring, boring!! All they do is walk and walk and then fight a battle and then walk some more!!” I burst out laughing-even I have to admit that that is the most succinct and accurate book review of the entire series that I’ve heard yet. (We still kept listening to the book anyway, despite the howling protests.)

We were in the pool and I was playing with the girl.  We started to sing “Ring Around the Rosy” and spin around.  “Ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy, ” I sang, “Ashes, Ash—” “NOOO! YOU CAN’T SING THAT PART!” The girl interrupted. “Um, why not?” I asked.  “Because,” she replied, matter-of-factly, “the Wanderers will come.  And they will kill us.” Now I was slightly terrified, in a children-of-the-corn sort of way, so I modified the song.  Now we sing “ring around the pool,” and instead of ashes it’s “elephants, elephants, we all fall down,” thus confunding the Wanderers away from our souls.

and lastly, just to throw a picture in there…

Beware the toothless vampire!!

Beware the toothless vampire!!

Chatterboxes, next up

Another installment in the “kids say the darndest things” episodes of this blog.

So, the boy has a best friend at school, who I’ll call Jake.  I tried writing this with just the kid’s first initial but it ended up sounding vulgar, you figure out which letter it is. One day Jake’s mother tells me that Jake told her that when he grew up, he was going to marry my son and they were going to “live in a house, shaped like a cake, surrounded by a lot of mist.” That in itself was adorable, and then a few days later when I was talking with the boy, I said, “So, I hear that you and Jake are going to live together in a house shaped like a cake, surrounded by mist.” And he replied, with a sigh, “We just love mist so much.”

Recently I posted on Facebook that I’m teaching the girl that leggings are not pants, which was tested not long after. One morning, after getting dressed, she came to brush her teeth.  I noticed that she was wearing a tshirt with leggings only. “Girl, you’ll have to put a skirt on.  You’re only wearing leggings.”  She got very, very serious, and said, “Mom, I need to tell you something.” She sat down on the bathroom stool and had me sit down on the edge of the bathtub to make her point. “I’m a kid,” she continued, looking me straight in the eye, “And kids wear leggings as pants.” I raised my eyebrows and replied, “Not in this house they don’t!” and went off to find her a pair of actual pants. The boy, later hearing me tell this story to Eric, said offhandedly “That’s spooky.” “Huh?” I said, not really understanding, “what’s spooky about that?” “Well, it just means that she’s growing up,” he said sagely.

We were out of coffee one morning (quel horreur!) and I took the boy with me to walk to the corner coffeeshop to get some. As we walked, he looked up at me and asked, “Mom, can I ask you something?” “Sure,” I said.  “Well, who are robbers, usually? Are they people like us, are they homeless people, or are they really really rich people?”  (?!)

And finally, one day after a rather tough afternoon for the girl, and then a tough dinner where we were kind of yelling at her for misbehaving, she just lost it.  She burst into tears and sobbed out, “I’m just a little, little girl, and my life is SO HARD!!’

Wabi Sabi

In the children’s section of the library the other day, I spied a book titled “Wabi Sabi.”  I’ve been hearing a lot about wabi sabi these days because it’s all over  modern home design blogs (another obsession of mine). The idea, as it relates to home design, is that not everything in a modern home needs to be sleek, metallic, completely finished. Something simple, quiet, old, comfortable is also beautiful. I checked out the book without reading it and brought it home.

Later that afternoon, sitting on our decidedly non-wabi sabi couch, I read the book to the boy.

It begins with a zen proverb: “An old pine tree can teach you the sacred truths.”

“But,” the boy began, “what does it mean? How can an old pine tree teach you?”

“Just let it roll around your head for a while, kiddo.”

So we went on–the book is about a Japanese cat named Wabi Sabi who sets out to learn the meaning of her name. Along the way she meets various creatures who give her hints and finally (*spoiler alert*) a wise monkey who teaches her what it means to be wabi sabi. The illustrations are torn-paper collages and quite beautiful. Each page also has a haiku on it, which the boy is familiar with from the Jon Muth books I mentioned earlier.

One of these haikus starts by talking about something being alive and dying at the same time. “How can that be?” he asked.  I love moments like this, when you can see the little gears in his head turning.  When he hears a new idea and tries to process and make sense of it in a way that he can understand. It’s almost as if you get a window into the elasticity of a child’s brain. The page has an illustration of fallen autumn leaves. “Well, I said, it’s like those leaves that have just fallen.  They’re still a bit alive, but they’re dying also.” “Oh,” he said, not entirely getting it. Still, he loved the book.

A few days later, while walking to the bus stop, he spied a dried out yarrow bush. “Too bad that plant died, Mama,” he said.

“Not entirely, kiddo, look–there’s green leaves at the bottom. This plant comes back every springtime.” I said.

He gasped, “It’s alive and dying at the same time!! Mom! This is Wabi Sabi!”

And so it was. Since then he points out everything that is wabi sabi, sometimes a bit incorrectly, but so happy to have learned for himself just what it is.

Marble Jar

You may remember an incident from October of last year in which the boy was caught carving up his dresser and lying about it. My friend Geoff made a comment in which he described using a Supernanny technique of putting marbles in a jar to reward good behavior, and so we started as well.

It took a bit of parental training until we were doing it right.  I think at one point I had a marble count of -2 and figured that I must be doing something wrong. The boy would, rather cagily, game the system as well. He’d set the table without anyone asking and then ask, “Didn’t I set the table so nicely? Don’t I deserve 2 marbles?”

We also took marbles out for bad behavior, and using the jar as a threat was a good deterrent. Once he had a particularly bad day and had run upstairs and slammed the door in Eric’s face and then proceeded to kick the door. Eric opened the door and told him to come downstairs, NOW. It was the verbal equivalent of dragging him downstairs by holding his ear. Eric picked up the nearly full marble jar and began POURING OUT marbles back into the source jar. The boy started hyperventilating and shaking. He lost about half of the hard won marbles with that.

He never slammed the door again.

Finally, this week, the jar was full. I had at first said that the prize was going to be watching (an edited) “Star Wars,” but the boy rejected this, saying it would give him nightmares. “Well, what do you want?” I asked.

“I know!! I want a real comic book!! Batman!!” and he started to giggle uncontrollably with excitement at the idea.

This seemed fair enough, so I looked up the comic book store (incidentally, their logo is in Comic Sans, which is possibly the only acceptable use for that font) and off we went. I expected the store to have a few random people wandering about that looked like the comic book guy from the Simpsons.

Instead, there was a line out the front door, and I learned that we’d stumbled into a Yu-Gi-Oh tournament, whatever that is. The place was packed!

We looked around for the more kid-friendly comics–most of the stuff nowadays is really dark and violent, it seemed to me. The “Family Comic” section was a little TOO lightweight even for the boy. He’s not really interested in Darkwing Duck or Minnie Mouse comics. Browsing around the store, I got a glimpse of what the next 12 years is going to look like.

We eventually found some older Batman comics that were pretty good for him, and he was so, so excited!

Back into the jar went all the marbles, to be earned and redeemed again, hopefully sooner than 5 months this time!

Parenting ideals

While not an original idea by any means, I was definitely a better parent before I had children.

I’d see a child misbehaving in public and watch how his awful parent handled it, knowing that my child would NEVER act that way and if they did I’d handle it SO much better than his terrible mother.   There was a whole list of things of things I definitely would or wouldn’t do as a parent.  Among them, my child would never wear anything with a character on it, would never order off the children’s menu, and would never misbehave in public.  Cut to a few years later when I’m ordering mac and cheese for my screaming toddler who’s wearing a “Toy Story” shirt.

I think everyone has certain ideas of what is most important to them as a parent.  I’m not talking about big things like religion–more the little weird things that we think will make us exceptional parents, not just average ones.  Things we get to be all sanctimommious about.  Some people refuse to feed their child anything jarred.  Some insist on their kid listening only to Mozart. I’ve heard of one woman who is so anti-processed food that she even makes her own ketchup.  Her own KETCHUP, people.  In the end, I don’t think most of these make the huge difference that we like to think they do.

I’m not without my own set of parenting  idiosyncrasies, though I’d never go so far as to make ketchup. (Now I’m curious. Wow, this sounds delicious.  I might have to backtrack on that ketchup comment.)

One of my big things before I had kids was TV.  Surely, when I had kids, my precious puppykins would never watch any TV until they were at least 3 years old.  For the boy, we held out until he was a bit closer to 2 years old before he was watching anything on a regular basis, and even then never saw a full length movie until he was closer to 3.  The only way that we made it this long is because I’m not a stay-at-home mom.  If I was, the kids would have had their daily TV hour starting in infancy to provide me with some sanity. The girl was corrupted much younger and already runs around asking, “Watch teebee? Nemo? Shaaks? Scaow me!” (Translation: “Can I watch ‘Finding Nemo’ in its entirety? Those sharks are somewhat frightening but brilliant representations of how we all face our own demons.” God, she’s bright.)

Still, I never quite understood the need for having a television in the car.  I HATE televisions in cars.  I don’t understand why children need constant entertainment, and electronic at that.  What’s wrong with talking to other people in the car, looking out the window, reading books or even (gasp!) being bored for a few moments and letting your mind wander?  Usually my kids grab a book to read in the car or we have some nice chats.

Recently, though, my ideal was tested.  I drove from Denver to Moab by myself with both children.  I’d rented a minivan so that my parents, who were vacationing there, could ride back with us.

It’s one thing to be able to go for short car ride with small kids without resorting to television, but would I make it for 7 hours?

My first plan was to not even let on that there was any TV capability in the car.  This lasted all of two minutes before the boy checked out the car and started pushing on panels and yelped, “There’s a TV!! Can we watch TV?!”

Sigh.  I said that we don’t watch TV in the car–we look around, we talk to each other, we read books, we listen to music. Disappointed, the boy strapped himself into his carseat and we took off.  Truthfully, I fully expected to play a movie, but wanted to see how long they’d make it first.  Or how long I’d make it.

The first hour and a half was fine–they read books, played with a few toys, and looked for bighorn sheep on the side of the highway.  We stopped in Vail for food, which ended unceremoniously with us racing through Vail village to get back to our car while holding the girl away from me as far as I could. In a moment of great parenting brilliance I’d decided not to bring a spare diaper. She pooped once and I figured she could go commando because surely, she wouldn’t poop a second time.  I was wrong.  Considering how different we look, I half expect some people thought I was kidnapping a little blond girl and was waiting for someone to call the cops.

The rest of the trip was dotted with a few stops for bathroom breaks and gas.  Glenwood springs is beautiful to drive through.  Then we crossed into Utah and hit 2 hours of the most boring drive I’ve seen.  It almost rivals Kansas in lack of interest.

I kept waiting for the inevitable, “Can we watch TV now?” from the back seat.

But it never came–we made the entire way there (and later the entire way back) without once popping in a video.

Unbelieveable.  And you know what? The ride was actually fun. We listened to a few science podcasts, sang along to Dan Zanes and the Dino5, and had some good conversations.  (As my Facebook friends know, my favorite one began with the boy asking me, “Hey, Mom, could we get a dead body sometime to make a mummy out of it?”)

More importantly, I now have one pre-parenting ideal that I’ve been able to carry through with, which clearly makes me an exceptional parent.

And now I have to go watch TV.  30 Rock is on!

Feast or Famine

You may have noticed that it’s somewhat feast or famine when it comes to the blog.  Two weeks go by and…nothing, then all of a sudden there’s three posts in a week.

As it turns out, this is a fairly good reflection of my work schedule.  As  a hospitalist, I work for somewhere between four to seven days in a row and then have a chunk of time off.  When I work it can be consumptive and then when I get to the breaks, it’s time for me to resume life as I enjoy it.  For the most part, it’s worked well.

Lately, however, work has been nothing short of oppressive.  Due to a convergence of circumstances, we’re short-staffed and busier than usual, especially for summertime.  I’m so frazzled by the time that I get home, that I can’t stand for anything not to go perfectly.  I mean, I leave work to go home and be with my family, which is what I really want to be doing, right?  But my four-year-old and two-year-old clearly did not get the memo and proceed to behave horrifically, which means that I spend the one hour I have with the girl  (who still goes to sleep at seven) and two hours with the boy–I spend this time irritated, annoyed, and angry.  Voices are raised.  Okay, my voice is raised.

Hospital work also occurs at a constant decibel level of about one trillion.  This means that when I get home, all I want is silence.  Again, my children did not get this memo either.  I really need to work on a more effective intra-home mail delivery system.

Of course, this all adds to the guilt I feel in that I’m spending so little time with them when I work.  In general, I don’t feel a lot of guilt as a working mom.  Almost all of the studies I’ve seen show that parents (stay-at-home or not) nowadays spend more time with their kids than stay-at-home moms (because back in the day there were almost no stay-at-home dads) used to.  For me, it’s important that my kids see that their mom works outside the home.  I don’t mean to discount stay-at-home parents at all, and I know that this is a sensitive subject, but for me personally I want my kids to know that both mom and dad can have professional careers.

But when I’m feeling overworked, the guilt really sets in.  I tear out of the house early, hoping that I can leave work earlier (which never happens) so I barely see the kids in the morning.  Then, when I get home, I’m so exhausted and in such a bad mood that I can’t even enjoy any of the time I have with them because the kids fail to act as if they’re in an episode of “The Donna Reed Show” and act like normal preschoolers, which involves a lot of screaming and the word, “NO!”

To add to the plate fullness, I’m training for a sprint triathlon, and the girl’s Montessori teacher has decided that she’s ready to potty train, which means that our laundry load has increased exponentially.

I do my best to turn everything around, and realize that in every negative there is a positive.  Perhaps my job is busy and stressful, but at the end of the day my work is meaningful and helps people, and moreover I have a job when so many are struggling to find one.  My kids may stress me out also, but this means that I have two kids, when some struggle to have any.  That I can train for a race means that I’m in good health and can find the free time to do so, even if time is tight.  And even the laundry means that I have clothing to wash, easy access to a washing machine, and constant electricity and water that I never have to think about.

I’ve been away from work for two days now, and the depression is just beginning to lift thanks to a combination of hanging out with friends, exercise, time away, and just remembering how much I love these little kids.

Tonight, the boy was sick.  Probably some generic virus, hot fever.  He called for me.  As he lay in bed and I daubed his forehead with a cool cloth, I said, “You know, kid, I love you more than anything.” “I know,” he replied.

I thought he had drifted off to sleep and I began to walk out of the room.  I heard a scratchy gravel voice call after me, “Mom, I love you so much too.”

And that sort of brought everything right again.


This morning, while brushing his teeth, the boy says, “Mommy, don’t I look white?”

I wasn’t sure what he meant–like, was he white from his toothpaste.  I asked him to clarify.

“My skin, it looks white, doesn’t it? Not brown.”

“Well, no, honey. It looks brown, and it will always look brown.” I said.

“You mean I’m never going to turn white?!” He cried, upset.

“No, you’re going to stay brown your whole life.” I was beginning to wonder where this was going.

“But, I want to be white! I don’t want to be brown anymore!!”

Oh boy.

“Why not, sweetheart? What makes you say that?” I asked.

“Because B—* told me he doesn’t like brown skin and that made me sad.”


Eric walks over and says, “You are beautiful, inside and out.  You have a beautiful heart, and you are a wonderful person, no matter what color you are on the outside.”

I tell him that is true, and that sadly, he may always hear people say bad things about his skin.  “I think your skin is perfect, and I love it, and I would never want it to be any other color.”

This brings a big smile to his face, and we hug, and things seem to be fine again.

Po Bronson wrote a book recently called “Nurtureshock,” and while I haven’t read the entire book (and don’t know that I agree with everything in it based on what I’ve heard), the chapter about race is excerpted in Newsweek here.  In a nutshell, it says that the trend towards NOT talking about race at all or using phrases such as “everyone is equal” have the opposite effect, and do little to instill the colorblindness that they are intended to teach.  According to the studies cited, children as young as 6 months see racial differences, and certainly the 4 year olds in my son’s class do.

Still, what does it mean exactly to talk about race?  I’ve read the examples in the article, and understand those, but I have to think that there’s more than that.  It’s easy to talk about religious differences and say how people believe different things, but it’s not quite so easy to do that for race, is it?  I think the take home point is to make sure that you teach your kids that people DO look different, DO have different skin colors, but are all the same on the inside.

I’m not sure exactly what happened in the classroom.  The boy tells us that he told one of his teachers what happened, and we’re going to ask her about it tomorrow.  Depending on what she says we may or may not talk to B’s parents, but the truth is that the boy has an excellent memory and doesn’t make stuff like this up.  B’s parents are very nice people, and my guess is that they may fall into the category of people who simply don’t talk about race at all, and that it may not be something that they have to deal with much. I mean, I was recently called “the prettiest little colored girl she’d ever seen” by a VERY elderly patient, am asked on a regular basis “where I’m really from,” and have had people comment on how I “don’t have an accent at all”!  I’m quite certain that neither of B’s parents, both Caucasian, have ever had anything like that happen! Bronson mentions a statistic that most white parents don’t talk to their kids about race, and most non-white parents to.  He fails to mention that this is because if you are the majority race, you simply don’t have to deal with the same racial issues as someone of a minority race, and the questions are less likely to arise.

I think we handled it okay so far, but we’ll see how it goes with B’s parents.

And, on a side note, if there is a patron saint of parenting, could you PLEASE slow down on the difficult questions? What’s next? Where do babies really come from?

*name changed to protect the toddler.

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.