Monthly Archives: November 2012

Break Point

The last few weeks have been a challenge.  Zack has begun experimenting with indecision.  I’m not sure if he is intentionally trying to drive me crazy, if he is truly having trouble making decisions, or if he has blown a fuse.  Whatever it is, I would sell my soul to make it stop.  When he wakes up in the morning, it starts:

“Mommy, I want my milk.”

I give it to him.

“No!  I don’t want milk!”

I take it back.

“I SAID I want milk!”

I give it back to him.

“Nooooo! I DON’T WAAAAAAAAAANT IT!!!!”

He shorts out like this all day long.  I’m done on the potty. No, I’m not done yet!  I’m not hungry for dinner.  I want dinner!  Tuck my blanket in.  I don’t want my blanket!  It feels like I am the tennis ball being whacked back and forth in the most epic, endless tennis match in US Open history.

My response to this behavior has ranged from fully indulging it, to trying to reason with him, to setting limits/channeling Regis Philbin (I’m going to ask you what you want one more time and that will be your final answer).  Nothing has worked.

Three years is a crazy age.  It is an age of contradiction, not just evidenced by Zack’s vacillations.  Three-year-olds somehow manage to simultaneously be the most adorable and the most maddening they have ever been.  They love saying “no” even if they mean “yes.”  They want their independence, while always keeping mom and dad within arm’s reach.  But the contradiction that most throws me for a loop is this: their intellectual growth is exponential, yet it’s never entirely clear if they really understand.

This last contradiction is what has gotten me into serious trouble while trying to navigate Zack’s era of indecision.  He has been learning so much and understanding so many new, complex concepts lately, that I became convinced his back and forth antics were entirely deliberate and that he was intentionally trying to drive me nuts.  This “realization” led me to take a much more no nonsense approach and I started yelling at him and giving him time outs (which also did not work).

Then, on Tuesday morning, I was eating breakfast with Addy and Zack and I made eggs.  Zack started in with the routine – I want eggs, no I don’t, I want eggs, no I don’t.  Just as I was about to shift into I’m-not-going-to-take-this-crap mode, Addy turned to me and said, “Mommy, I think that he wants….” and silently mouthed the last few words of the sentence.  I couldn’t read her lips so I asked her what she had said.  Very slowly, over-enunciating every word, she said, “No, Mom-my. I was tell-ing the ba-bies that we’re go-ing to the paaarty.” At that moment, with my son toggling back and forth between eggs and no eggs and my daughter looking me in the eye but pretending to have a conversation with her imaginary babies, I had the distinct feeling that I was in the psychiatric ward of a hospital and I wasn’t sure which one of us was the patient.

I suspect that my ultimate sanity will depend on this moment of insanity.  I’m beginning to realize that no matter how brilliant a three-year-old can appear, soaking up new ideas like a sponge and asserting their independence, it is critical to remember that their brains do not yet function at a level of optimal rationality.  As parents, it feels great to see our kids begin to function like “big kids” socially, emotionally and intellectually, but it will still be a long time before this is a constant.  Sometimes, for their sake and ours, we have to look through a different lens of lowered expectations and let that guide how we handle difficult behavior.

So while Zack still kicks into his waffle routine at least three times a day, I know that I probably won’t tame his outbursts with even louder outbursts of my own.  Patience, as hard as it is to gather, will go a lot farther than yelling.  Rather than assuming he knows exactly what he is doing and getting pissed about it, I need to remind myself that he may just not be capable of controlling this behavior yet.  This, I believe, will be the key to riding through such a tough phase a little more gracefully.  And if not, feel free to stop by and visit me in my padded room at Bellevue.

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Move Over Thomas Edison!

Admission: I love the show Shark Tank. In case you’ve never heard of it, it’s a show on ABC in which entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to a panel of investors hoping to land venture capital. Here’s a link to the website http://abc.go.com/shows/shark-tank/index. I wish I could come up with a great idea and get a chance to go on that show and kill it. I’ve been thinking that I should invent a series of fixes to address universal parenting problems, because when parents have problems, they’ll buy anything to try to solve them. Here are a few ideas that I think would bring the Shark Tank judges to their knees:

The Umbrella Mullet

Every time it rains, I get screwed. I take the kids out in the stroller with its perfectly fitted rain cover to keep them dry and warm and by the end of our walk an unsuspecting bystander would think that I got dressed before I showered. I tried buying an umbrella that attaches to the stroller handle, which was promising, but the umbrella is so tall, it ends up looking like someone picked me up by the top of my head with a toilet plunger and dipped the rest of me in the toilet. Holding an umbrella in one hand and pushing the stroller with the other works a little better, keeping more of my head covered and most of my front, but inevitably my entire back gets drenched. Luckily, I have dreamed up the perfect solution to this problem: The Umbrella Mullet. It is an umbrella hat that straps to your head like a bike helmet and is shaped like the Darth Vader’s head gear, except it is much wider and the back hangs down to your ankles. Very stylish, frees up your hands to push the stroller, keeps you dry. This thing is going to be the next Post It Note for sure.

The Couch Coffin

Ever wish there was a place in your home where you could steal a moment of solitude without completely leaving your kids unsupervised and free to trash the place? I give you the Couch Coffin. It looks and feels like a regular couch but opens up to reveal a (temporary) resting place as comfortable as the beds at the Four Seasons. When your kids aren’t looking, hop in and rest your weary body while spying on them through the one-way-mirror eye slot. For a small premium, you can upgrade to the Couch Coffin 2. The Couch Coffin 2 comes with a microphone and speaker that enables you to rest while simultaneously telling your kids, in the voice of Mr. T, to stop putting stickers all over the coffee table.

Hand Cones

We all know that clearing the boogs out of one’s nose is a regular necessity. At some point between the ages of two and twenty, someone teaches us how to do it in a sanitary and private manner. Unfortunately, until we are able to impress this important life lesson upon our children, they engage in an awful lot of public nostril digging. Just yesterday, I was proudly handed no less than seven green, gluey boogars. Wouldn’t it be great if, whenever the kids have colds, we could put little cones on their wrists that prevent their hands from touching their noses? They would look and function like a miniature version of the cones that people put on their dogs’ necks when they are recovering from an injury. While these hand cones would spare us the repeated vision of little Joey pulling a foot-long jump rope out of his nose and then rubbing it all over his chair, we still have to tackle the issue of the boogs streaming down his face into his mouth. (Are you gagging yet?) That is why each pair of hand cones would come with a free pair of nose plugs. Just slap on the cones, stick in the plugs and tell those boogies to beat it!

So what do you think? Would you invest? What? I shouldn’t quit my day job? Shooooooot, I already did.

My Plundered Privacy

One of the things I have had to get used to in my transition from peaceful, care-free adult to harried mom is the complete and utter loss of personal privacy.  It started when I became pregnant and has steadily gone downhill from there.  Once I started showing, both familiar and unfamiliar hands constantly fondled my stomach.  Taxi drivers regularly guessed that I was having a dinosaur based on the unsettling ratio of belly : rest of body (5:1 in my case).  When the babies arrived, random people approached me on the street, stuck their faces in my stroller and asked totally reasonable questions like “Did you have sex with your husband to conceive these twins or did you have to do IVF?”

But these jarring invasions of my privacy were nothing compared to what is going on currently, and the perpetrators are not strangers, they are my kids.  Ever since they figured out how to turn a door handle, I have not been able to go to the bathroom in peace.  While the initial interruptions were not terribly annoying, their more recent shenanigans have been increasingly disturbing, in more than one sense of the word.

Zack takes an in-your-face approach where he slams open the door with no warning and starts interrogating me.  “Hi Mommy, what are you doing? Are you making a pee pee?  Are you making a poopy?  Can I see? Is your pee pee yellow? Why is pee pee yellow?  Can you buy me a phone like yours?   Can I see your phone?   What are you doing with your phone?  Are you calling Daddy?  Why does it smell like poopy in here?”  He doesn’t ask all of these questions from the doorway, he asks them while hanging on me with his elbows digging like spikes into my knees.  He leaves me so little personal space, it would be hard for an outsider to tell which one of us was actually the one taking the…well you know.

Addy has a completely different strategy.  Over the past week, she has been quietly slipping into the bathroom and setting up a panel of judges on the tub ledge.  The first few days brought this:

These prissy little b-tches have surely never peed or pooped in their entire lives and from the look on their faces, they did not approve of what they witnessed.  I think that after a few days they outright refused to be subjected to such unladylike behavior because Addy stopped bringing them into the bathroom and instead brought these things:

These freakish, fat-headed Squinkies have been staring at me while I do my business since last weekend.  Their presence shortens my bathroom stay substantially because I’m afraid if I sit too long, they will start marching, single-file, into my nostrils to eat my brain.  I’m pretty sure that next week, Addy’s going to bring in a hologram of Dora singing “You did it!  You did it! You did it!  Hiciste una caca!”

I don’t totally know what to make of all of this.  What I do know is that my bathroom will no longer be a sacred refuge where I can steal a few minutes of tranquility, at least not for another ten years.  So if you see me with a box of Depends in the dark alley down the street, leave me alone, I just may have found the answer to my problem.