Tag Archives: parenting

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?

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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.

Things I’d Kill Max for Doing…That I Just Did

Since my kids are three, I have a treasure trove of mishaps and fun times to talk about in this blog that I’ve collected over the last 36 months.  But screw all of that.  Let’s start with what happened yesterday afternoon at the park.

Among my numerous neuroses related to the kids, a close second to them getting sick/injured is my fear that they are not active and adventurous enough.  When they refuse to get up from my lap at a gymnastics birthday party, it takes an intensely imagined straight jacket and gag to keep me from shoving them onto the trampoline after berating them with a Bobby Knight-style “pep talk.”  When they ride their scooters two blocks to the playground without complaining, the voice in my head sounds like Aly Raisman’s parents at the 2012 London Olympic Floor Exercise Finals with a touch of Mega Millions winner.

So when Addy and Zack expressed an interest in jumping off a 1.5-foot bench onto the sidewalk, I briefly saw two plaques awarded to brother/sister athletes of the year, [insert NYC Suburb] High School, Class of 2028, then figured, “what’s the worst that could happen?” because I’d surely hold their hands while they jumped.  I said OK and told them they would get one jump each because we needed to go home to cook dinner.

Zack went first and took a soaring leap about three inches up and four inches out while grasping both of my hands like we were seared together with superglue.  Then Addy approached launch position and it all went to hell.  “Get away Mommy, I want to go by myself!” she commanded and before I could respond she jumped and landed, two feet on the floor.  Sure enough, after a two second beat, Zack began scrining (scream-whining), “I wanna do it by myself!  Addy got to do it by herself! I wanna do it by myself! Addy got to do it by herself! I wanna do it by myself!” 

Although Zack is less sure-footed than Addy, I threw caution to the wind and did what I needed to do to turn the volume down – I said OK.  After what seemed like an hour-and-a-half waiting for him to decide where on the bench he wanted to climb up, he shimmied to the edge and considered jumping.  His face and body language couldn’t have been any clearer – he was not sure he really wanted to do this by himself.  He bent his knees and threw his arms back but stopped short of jumping and told me that I needed to say “one, two, three, jump!”  I heeded his request and he jumped, but my instincts screamed “catch him!” and I did.   Fury filled his wide, innocent eyes and he screamed at me “I wanna do it by myself!  Don’t catch me!” then ran back to the bench for a third try.  He again tentatively made his way to the edge of the bench and struggled through a few false starts and a few unanswered “one, two, three, jumps.”  Then he did it.  Right there in the middle of the crowded NYC park, he presented me with the Moron-Mother of the Year award.  He curled himself into a watermelon, slowly tipped his body off the bench and landed square on the sidewalk, head-first.  The sound that his skull made as it met the ground was a cross between what it sounds like when you drop an egg and a 10-pound free weight on cement. 

I basically stood there watching, dumbfounded until the blood-curdling screaming of both Zack and Addy woke me from my daze of horror.  When I picked him up, I thought for sure blood would be spurting out of this forehead and shooting me in the face like that scene with the bicyclist from Monty Python.  Then I thought his eye would be dilated and he’d puke all over me (this is what my pediatrician told me to look out for the last 73 times I emailed her asking what to do when one of the kids bumped their heads).  Before I could even assess the situation, I decided the best course of action would be to call 911, give Addy to the homeless guy eating tuna fish on the bench across the way, throw the tricycle we had with us in the garbage can to my left and hire an attorney on behalf of Max to write up divorce papers that I would be served in the ER waiting room.  But then I looked up at Zack and he was totally fine.  No blood, no egg head, normal pupils, no projectile vomit.  Just some tears and an imprint of the sidewalk on his nugget. 

Addy and Zack were still crying as we walked home and I couldn’t calm them down until I did what any loving parent would do in this situation.  I started making fun of him, and it slayed! “Hey Zack, next time you jump off a bench, try landing on your feet instead of your head!” The crying transitioned to craughing, I was onto something.  Then I went all out and started calling him Humpty Dumpty and it was over, they were toast.

We called Max when we got home to tell him what happened and his reaction was akin to me telling him that I was making boiled chicken and beans for dinner or I had gotten 50 cents off a box of tampons as CVS today.  Clearly, had this happened on his watch, my reaction would have been similarly unruffled.  Psyche.  I would have yelled at him for 20 minutes, given him the cold shoulder the rest of the night, then I would have reminded him of the “mishap” seven times a day until Zack was 25 years old.  But I’m the mom so I’m allowed to react like that, right?  I mean, I’m the one who carried those two babies for 34.5 weeks, suffered through two months of bed rest , then had my abdomen cut open and my guts laid on a table to get them out.  I think I earned the right to overreact a little, no?

Thankfully, Max still loves me (I think) even though he knows I would have castrated him if he let Zack smash his head on a sidewalk.  Here is a list of other things that I’d kill Max for doing that I have actually done:

1.       Leaving the two-year-old kids in bath seats in the tub for “two seconds” while I threw their diapers in the Dekkor.  (They were in bath seats!)

2.       Giving them candy after they shit in their underwear. (Addy and Zack, not Max)

3.       Letting Addy and Zack chase pigeons down 72nd Street while I talk on the phone to my mom.  (What? I don’t need my mouth and ears to see them!)

4.       Telling Addy and Zack that there will be no TV on school mornings under any circumstances, then promptly turning on Dora when they run into our room at 6:30 AM.  (Me sleepy)

5.       Letting the kids stand up in the stroller, unbuckled, while I pushed them uphill with bags hanging on the handlebar, only to have the stroller give from the weight and fall backwards, rendering the kids completely upside down (still in the stroller) and hysterical.  (Oh, stop! They were fine!)