The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But the Truth…Please Help Me God

Back in November, Max’s grandmother passed away and I wasn’t quite sure what to tell Addy and Zack. A brief consultation with babycenter.com told me “Don’t dodge her [or his] questions,” “give brief, simple answers” and “avoid euphemisms.”  Still thinking that a succinct “she moved to California” could do the trick and save me some discomfort, I asked someone I know who is a child psychologist.  She also advised me to tell the truth. Making up stories to shield kids from things you think may be too scary or complex will only confuse them more later, she told me.  Telling them the simple truth and not framing it as something to be afraid of is the way to go.

I’m still waiting for them to ask where Grandma Ann went (she lives three hours away in Boston so it hasn’t come up yet), but I feel totally prepared to tackle that question when it comes.  What I wasn’t prepared for was the complete opposite question that came up a few weeks ago at breakfast.  I was sitting at the table at 7:30 in the morning, sleepily eating my granola when Zack decided to smack me awake with one of his tough questions.  No, he didn’t ask me why Santa doesn’t come to our house on Christmas. He didn’t ask why Bert and Ernie share a bedroom.  He didn’t even ask what actually happened in the series finale of Lost.  He ventured into the vortex of the birds and the bees and asked, “Mommy, how did you get us out of your belly when we were babies?”

Had I delivered vaginally, this would have been an awkward situation but not insurmountable.  Unfortunately, I had a c-section.  I sat there silently for a minute while my brain scanned its hard drive for a suitable response.  I surveyed all the PG exit points through which I could say they vacated.  Mouth?  No.  Ears?  No.  Nostrils?  No.  Belly button?  Everyone knows that’s a doorbell and not a hole.  I contemplated telling them that the pictures they had seen of me 34 weeks pregnant were really just the result of me swallowing a watermelon and that they actually arrived by Fedex.  Then, I remembered the sage advice I found on the internet, which was subsequently verified by the child psychologist.  Tell the truth.  Hey, if that advice applied to death, why wouldn’t it apply to birth?

230px-Cesarian_the_moment_of_birth_2

At the risk of giving them horrific nightmares about bodies being hacked open, I told Addy and Zack exactly how they came out of my belly.  I said, “Dr. Goldman delivered you at the hospital.  First he made a cut in my belly, then he pulled you guys out, then he sewed me back up.”  “How did he sew up your belly?” they asked in response.  “Just like I sew up hole in your shirt,” I told them.  I conducted this conversation very calmly and matter-of-factly and my kids closed it out with a simple “oh” and then moved on to discussing which character they each wanted to be from the TV show Super Why.  I escaped my first brush with awkward preschooler questioning unscathed, or so I thought.

Addy and Zack are in their first year of preschool and every day, their teachers email a one-page reflection highlighting something that the class did that morning.  One of their teachers is eight months pregnant so the class is currently learning about babies and pregnancy.  Last week, one of the daily reflections was a transcript of a conversation the class had about babies and bellies.  Here is an excerpt:

Teacher: How did you get into your mom’s belly?

Kid #1: If you’re a grownup then a baby comes into you.

Kid #2: When I was a baby, I was in my mom’s belly.

Kid #3: When I was a baby I was in my dad’s belly, but my sister was in my mom’s belly.

Such sweet responses, right?  Sweet it was, until my child decided to give the conversation a dose of Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Zack: Daddy put me in my Mommy’s belly.

Teacher: How?

Zack: Someone cut Mommy open so Daddy could put me in and then they sewed her back up.

When I read the quote, I thought, “Good Lord, what have I done?”  I immediately emailed the teacher to make sure she wasn’t angry with me for indirectly terrorizing the class.  I saw the other moms at drop off the next day and was relieved to find out that they were amused by the comment and weren’t passing around a petition to ban me from motherhood.  And while I know I will need to sit the kids down for a clarifying conversation, I’ve decided to take some time to think a little more about how to approach it.  After all, this one’s going to require an explanation for how they got into my belly as well as how they got out.  As much as I’d like to say osmosis, I’m going to have to tell the truth…but perhaps a little more delicately this time around.

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Face Off

face-off-movie

The first four months after Addy and Zack turned three have been (yes, mostly adorable and amazing but) challenging. I, like many, believe that whoever coined the phrase “terrible twos” must have been referring to making the mistake of eating two back-to-back Reese’s Pieces sundaes at Friendly’s or having two chins. The real time to fear in the life of a child is the “throw-me-out-the-window-threes.”

I’ve been struggling to find ways to tame my two little beasts cuties and understand better how to head off tantrums before they begin. Part of this discovery process involves a post mortem analysis after each of our two to ten daily mini-Hiroshimas. In thinking about each situation and trying to pinpoint what went wrong, I’ve realized something earth shattering to me, but probably evident to my family and friends since my birth: I can be really f-ing annoying. All this time, I’ve been thinking there is nothing more irksome than a screeching, whiney, fist-pounding, frothing little kid but I have come to accept that I am a formidable competitor in the arena of irritation. Thus, I present to you a face off. Me vs. a three-year-old: who is more annoying?

1. Each morning, after breakfast, I brush Addy and Zack’s teeth. Getting them into the bathroom and up the stepstool to the sink is torture. What’s more annoying?

A. Having to yell “time to brush your teeth!” fifteen times before I get any response, followed by Zack whining, “Addy goes first!” Then Addy whining, “No, Zack goes first!” Then, “Addy goes first!” Then, “Zack goes first!” Then, “Addy goes first!” Then, “Zack goes first!” Then, “Addy goes first!” Then, “Zack goes first!” Then I lie and say “Whoever goes first gets a prize.” Which is followed by Zack screaming “I want to go first!” Then Addy crying “No, I want to go first!” Then, “I want to go first!” Then, “I want to go first!”, etc. etc. And then I tune it all out and fantasize about blowing my brains out.

or

B. Having a mom who wakes up late and rushes you through breakfast, but insists that you eat sufficient portions of your fruit, whole grain and dairy food groups while she eats a bowl of sugar cereal and no fruit. Then having her force you onto the toilet and bark, “focus on your poop!” when you are clearly busy pretending the roll of toilet paper is a tropical waterfall pouring beautiful white frothy water all over the floor. And finally, after dressing you in embarrassing t-shirts that say cheesy sh-t like “Rock Star” or “Captain Adorable”, she lies to you and says she’ll give you a prize if you brush your teeth nicely.

2. The most frequently uttered word in our house isn’t “love”, it’s not “cookies” and it’s not “microdermabrasion” (although it should be because I have some serious zitssues). It’s “no.” What’s more annoying?

A. Being a mom and repeating these conversations every single day: “Ok, kiddos, time to get dressed for school.” “Nooooooooo, I don’t wanna get dressed!” “Dinner time! I made you your favorite barbecue chicken with pasta and corn-on-the-cob.” “Noooooooooo, I want hot dogs for dinner, I don’t waaaaaant chicken!” “It’s a beautiful day, let’s go ride our scooters to the playground!” “Nooooooooo! I don’t wannnnna go outside. I wannnna watch TV!”

or

B. Being a three-year-old and repeating these conversations every single day: “Mommy, can I have a cookie?” “No, you didn’t eat your blah blah blah blah.” “Mommy, can I wear these shorts and this t-shirt to school today?” “No, it’s 35 degrees out, blah blah blah blah blah.” “Mommy, can I watch one more episode of Dora?” “No, you’ve already watched blah blah blah blah blah.”

3. OCD runs in our family. What’s more annoying?

A. After you slave away “cooking” a healthy, delicious, organic dinner for your family, having your kid wail for an hour, as if you just stabbed them in the eye, when one piece of your perfectly microwaved Amy’s mac and cheese touches their expertly toasted Applegate Farms frozen chicken nugget.

or

B. Having a mom who makes you wash your hands no less than ten times a day – after you go to the bathroom, after school, after you go to the playground, after you come home from a playdate, after you do arts and crafts, after you touch your feet, after you scratch your itchy tushy, after you fish your Barbie doll shoe out of the toilet, after you ride a carousel and after you washed your hands but didn’t suds up the soap for the full length of time it takes to sing Happy Birthday three times.

So the next time I am feeling exasperated by the trials and tribulations of tres, I will try to remember to back off, and see if maybe there indeed is a little “maniac mom” to blame for the “throw-me-out-the-window threes.” Clear your conscience and share some of your annoying face offs in the comments section below!

New Year’s Commendations

Every year, as December rolls into January, we get out our trusty pen and paper and make a list of New Year’s Resolutions.  They usually sound something like this:  work out more, lose weight, be more proactive at work, be more positive, read more books.  As I began to think about what my resolutions would be this year, I stopped short and thought, “This is stupid.”  I am basically sitting here mulling over why I am disappointed in myself and my life so that I can 1. resolve to change these things, and then 2. in all likelihood fail to follow though, making me feel even worse.  So instead of making New Year’s Resolutions this year, I am going to flip this tradition on its head and make a list of New Year’s Commendations.  Rather than essentially listing all the things I want to change, I am going to list a few things that I think are just great about myself and my family members.  I figure starting out the year appreciating ourselves (and our loved ones) is much better than starting off the year thinking about what sucks about us.  Below are mine in case you’re curious but please feel free to stop reading after this paragraph (because I kind of think you might end up wanting to gag yourself, although I have tried to make you giggle a little too).  I mostly wrote this post because I thought New Year’s Commendations would be a nice change of pace.  You should do it too.  In fact, if you want to join me and turn this post into a gag fest, feel free to share your commendations in the comments section below.  I’d love to read them.  Happy New Year!

greatjob

Zack

You rock for your awesome imagination.  The stories you make up and tell us while you’re on the potty are hilarious.  Your “other” parents, Smokey and Pae, seem so real I sometimes think I can ship you off to their house when you are being a handful.  And thank goodness those two little baby cows you were playing with in my room this morning were fake because real cows smell like s–t.  Keep dreaming little guy.

Your love of learning and curiosity are such a great gift. I marvel at the way you ask us “what spells [insert word]” fifty times a day and how you made me explain, in gory detail, how Dr. Goldman took you and Addy out of my belly.  Your eagerness to understand the world will certainly shape your future in amazing ways.

Addy

Who knew a three-year-old could be one of the most compassionate and caring people I know!  The way you take care of your brother, bringing him his blankie when he is sad, always insisting he choose treats first and standing up for him as if you’re his hired attorney when he is misbehaving, is so wonderful to watch.  You would share your last gummy bear with a friend if it made her happy and if there is a baby within ten feet of you, you will immediately run over to help feed it, change its diaper or give it a paci.  Being so loving and considerate is one of the most beautiful qualities in a person and I am so happy to see that in you.

While you have an amazing soft side, I’m also proud to see a strong, assertive nature in you.  You are not afraid to speak your mind, stand up for yourself and others and ask for what you want.  While it can be challenging in the moment sometimes, you clearly tell me when you think I am not being fair and explain why you feel that way.  (“Mommy, why are you eating a cookie before dinner when you just told me I couldn’t have one?  That is NOT nice.”)  Being a confident girl who communicates her thoughts clearly are qualities that will surely take you far!

Max

We often talk about building character in our kids and there will be no better way for them to learn about grit, optimism, integrity and compassion than from watching you.  You’re the state school guy who got an interview at a big NYC investment bank senior year of college by calling the head of the group’s admin daily for weeks.  Then you scored the job against a sea of ivy leaguers by slapping on an ugly green Banana Republic suit and crushing the interview.   You’re the marathon runner and triathlete who still tells me I can run 26.2 miles one day if I put my mind to it (ha!).  You are the guy who gets dust in his eyes when he watches those ESPN stories about the down-on-his-luck high school basketball player who overcomes.  You know, the one who lost his arms and legs in a shark attack and then scored the winning basket at the championship game when his teammates carried him across the court and bounced the basketball off his head.  There really is no greater guy than you and Addy, Zack and I are so lucky to have you as our father and husband.

Me

Um…let’s see…I wash a mean dish and can fold my tongue into the shape of a clover?  It really is hard for most people to say what they think is commendable about themselves and that includes me, but I thought about this all day and here’s what I came up with.  I really do love helping others and making people happy.  I truly get a rush of happiness when spending a half hour on the phone helping a former colleague navigate career decisions or cooking a bunch of eggplant parm for my parents when my mom broke both of her ankles at once (true story).   I love making people laugh or smile, which is really the primary motivation for starting this blog.  Writing it is fun and thought provoking, but the ultimate joy comes from getting comments that say I made readers chuckle or just that they enjoyed a post.

So instead of looking to a list of New Year’s Resolutions to guide my focus in 2013, I am going to look at my list of New Year’s Commendations.  I will keep my family members’ commendations at the top of my mind so I can marvel more regularly at what I love about them and avoid taking them for granted as so often happens in the daily grind of life.  And I will use my commendations to simply remind me to do more of what I love doing.  Somehow, I think this approach will bring me more happiness than making a resolution to try to work out five times a week.  Especially when after two weeks, the “try to work out” in that sentence will be replaced with “eat a snickers bar in my closet.”

Meet Emesis, My Nemesis

I have one real phobia in life and it is idiotic.  It is an intense and crippling fear of puke (Emesis, I have learned, is the medical term for throwing up).  I’m not sure why this fear came about or got so out-of-control.  Growing up my brother had a sensitive stomach. When he regularly got sick I’d be subjected to terrifying hurling and heaving sounds, similar to those I imagine a lion mauling a hyena makes, emanating from our family’s bathroom.  My best friend, who is a psychologist, thinks he is the culprit (sorry Manny).  Whatever the reason, the sight of vomit, the sound of vomit, the remote possibility that someone might vomit within 50 feet of me, makes me feel, well, like I’m going to do the deed myself.  I’ll save the everyday implications of having this phobia and being a mom for another post.  Today, I write to you from the beautiful beaches of Jamaica to share my long, emesis-phobia-filled journey to paradise.

Almost every year since I met Max, we have spent President’s Day Weekend at his grandma’s 55+ retirement community condo in Boca.  In 2011, we took Addy and Zack for the first time.  They were 18 months old.  I worried that they would be a handful on the flight but was pleasantly surprised when they slept through take-off, had a blast during the flight (which included chowing down on an entire box of Annie’s cheddar bunnies) and were generally in optimal form.  That is, until we started to descend into Miami.  Addy was sitting on my lap and I noticed little beads of sweat forming on her forehead.  Her previously spirited demeanor pulled a 180 and she turned desperately quiet.  “Do you think she’s OK?” I asked Max, who was sitting next to me with Zack on his lap.  “She’s fine.” He replied dismissively.  “Uh oh, I think she just gagged!” I said frantically.  “What are you talking about?  She is totally fi—“ and before he could properly eat his words, Addy gagged one more time and painted Row 22 an Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies shade of bright orange.

While I was able to compose myself enough to clean up the mess, I was in shock. I pretty much spent the rest of our long weekend obsessing over whether or not this was a fluke.  Every time I thought about the flight home, I broke out into a cold sweat.  Was there a harmless way I could guarantee Addy would sleep through the entire flight?  Could I tape a barf bag to her chin so that the mess would be contained if she did puke? Could each of the four of us pass for 55 so we could live in Boca Lago forever and never get on an airplane again?  Of course, the answer to all of these questions was no.  And, of course, she barfed all over the place on the flight home.

For the rest of 2010, I swore to Max that I was never getting on another plane with Addy.  He told me I was a nut job.  When December rolled around and he suggested we book our President’s Day flights, I seriously contemplating bailing, but eventually realized that I really needed to figure out how to get over this crippling fear.  Neither of us had traveled much with our families as kids and we had promised ourselves we’d see the world with ours one day.

I started researching ways to conquer phobias.  Therapy would take too long and would probably require some sort of horrifying exposure exercise, like bathing in a vat of vomit, so I ruled it out.  My brother generously offered to make a recording of his puking noises so I could listen to it over and over to desensitize myself.  I declined.  Short on good options, I ultimately decided to go with the obvious route: hypnosis.  It actually turned out to be more like meditation or guided imagery.  We worked on envisioning me sitting in a movie theater, laughing hysterically, while watching a movie of Addy projectile vomiting on the plane.  I was instructed to play the movie in my head forwards and backwards, in fast forward and slow motion, all while imagining I was relaxing, listening to Come Away With Me by Norah Jones.  Needless to say, six weeks of meditation and imagery did not make me feel less freaked out about the flight.  All it did do was make me look like a big moron for thinking I could dump this phobia in six weeks with a few imagination sessions.

In the end, what got me through Family Florida trip #2 was the simple solution of going back to my roots.  I am a Type A, high strung, NYC mom.  What would such a person do in my situation?  What else but buy a bunch of Dramamine, four pairs of anti-nausea wristbands, a bottle of Motioneaze herbal motion sickness ointment, two boxes of Queasy Pops lollipops for kids, a towel poncho and a roll of kitchen garbage bags.  Then, run to the doctor to get my very first prescription for Xanax.  In between ripping on me for being completely mental, Max offered to book a 3 + 1 seating configuration (3 seats together and the seat across the aisle) so that I could sit somewhat solo and keep my insanity contained while he took one for the team and sat in between Addy and Zack (with Addy in the window of course).  Thanks to my lunacy, and Max’s understanding, Addy did not get airsick on either flight and I passed out, slumped in my seat with my mouth hanging open and drool dripping down my chin.

I have come a long way since this past February, although I have not completely conquered my anxiety around flying with Addy.  When Max proposed we book a trip to the Caribbean with the kids for the holidays, I quickly said yes and stifled the tiny voice in my head asking “what if she pukes?”  I prepared our little “Air Sick Addy” kit without the sound of my heart thumping in my ears.  I even passed on the Xanax and ventured to the airport with my neuroses unchecked.  A little deep breathing got me through take off and, when Addy screamed her head off because her ears were popping on the descent into Jamaica, I let Max handle it and kept my tight chest to myself.  Although I am getting better, it may take a few more years of puke-free flights before I stop worrying so much about this.  Addy will certainly be taking Dramamine before every trip until she’s old enough to test out a med-free flight without me.  But for now, I’m accepting my current mix of function/dysfunction and, lucky for me, Max is too.  After all, if we didn’t, we wouldn’t have been able to snap a photo of this today…

Jamaica

Do you have any silly phobias or anxieties that you’ve tried to beat?  Please share your stories and any tricks on how you conquered them!

Thanks For the Train Table, But My Kid Lives in an Apartment

Our family of four lives in a three-bedroom apartment in New York City. The kids share a bedroom and the “third bedroom” is a dining room that has been transformed into a playroom (a rare luxury in these parts). I am engaged in a perpetual war against Addy and Zack’s toys, trying to contain them in these two rooms in a configuration that doesn’t resemble a garbage dump.  See exhibit A for evidence of my failure:

Playroom

Two weeks ago, both my mother and my sister-in-law called me while holiday shopping. “Do you think Zack wants Legos?”, “How about a real workbench with a full set of tools and screws?” I had to veto it all. “Nothing big.” I said, “Nothing that comes with a million pieces, nothing that resembles anything they already have.” I needed to defend the small amount of grown up space we still have in our home. More importantly, the more puzzles, pegs, beads, squinkies, legos and 50-piece wooden food sets that accumulate, the closer I get to seeking professional help for the undiagnosed OCD that keeps me up until 1:00 AM organizing it all. The bottom line is that until we live in a house in the suburbs with a hoarders-inspired, kids-only basement, I will be the Grinch who stole Hanukkah. Accordingly, I have developed a list of a few of the top holiday gifts for preschoolers who live in apartments. Grandmas and Grandpas, take note.

Real Deal Gift Ideas…

Tickets to the Fresh Beat Band Concert

They’re small. We throw them in the garbage when we’re done with them. Most important, I can never figure out when they go on sale until I’m a month too late and only the crappy seats are left, so I need someone else to take over this job anyway.

Disney DVDs

They’re easy to store and they double as a free two-hour babysitter when I want to take a nap.

Gifts for Those on a Budget…

A Box of Cookies

There’s nothing that gets little kids more excited than giving them a box of cookies. What’s great is that they are perfectly satisfied when you give them just one. What’s even better is that they believe you when you tell them there are no cookies left in the box the next day because they finished them all.

Bubble Wrap

Bubble wrap is like the supporting actress who steals the show from the leading lady, the bread that you fill up on at a restaurant and then have no room left for dinner. No matter what amazing toy is protected by its cushy little buttons, kids always just want to play with the bubble wrap. It provides hours of entertainment and can be dumped with a clean conscience once it’s deflated. What more could a little apartment dweller’s mom ask for?

Gifts I Can Only Dream About…

Live-in Housekeeper

A perfect gift for a toddler, a live-in housekeeper will provide one more adult in the apartment who will bend to their every whiny command. As an added bonus, when grandma inevitably ignores your request to nix the fifty-piece puzzle books that constantly spill out all over the floor, a live-in housekeeper will help keep your sanity better than lithium. Where’s she going to sleep? Hell, if she really cleans up every day, she can take my side of the bed and I’ll sleep standing up in the closet.

A Storage Unit

For a mere $100/month, you can bring joy to the heart of a little one by bringing the coveted basement full of toys to the NYC apartment. So what if it’s just a 3’ x 3’ x 3’ metal cage? Who cares if I stuff it so full of exersaucers, baby swings and singing puppy dogs that if a kid actually took anything out of it, it would trigger a deadly avalanche? Big deal if the sub cellar where it’s located is also a rat tenement? I could get rid of TWENTY SEVEN CUBIC FEET of toys! Definitely worth the risks.

Ambien-Laced Brownies

Total non-sequitur. It’s 10:41 PM right now. Why the hell is Zack still up in his bed whispering to his team of stuffed animals? Either this kid needs some Ambien-laced brownies for Hanukkah or I do so I can go to sleep and stop staring at his beady, glowing eyes in the damn monitor.

Be Warned…

Ignore the aforementioned banned gift characteristics and your present will land on the re-gift shelf. The re-gift shelf is a thing of beauty. It emits rays of sunshine every time I crack open the closet door as if it was a direct invention of God him(her?it?)self. Entry to the re-gift shelf means there is one less toy messing up my living room and there is one less gift I have to buy for someone else. So actually, I beg you, please forget everything I said in this post and just give my kids something I can guiltlessly pass on to someone else.

Share your ideas!  What are some serious or funny ideal gifts for the space challenged?

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.

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.