Gotta Go

Today, the dreaded thing happened. Anyone who has ever been in a vehicle with children knows the anxiety of wondering if someone is going to need to go to the bathroom on the trip. You could be headed back home after a baseball game, but probably not. You could be a block away from your front door, but it’s not likely. You’re probably stuck in the middle of nowhere when it comes. And then it did.

“Mama, I have to use the restroom.”

(Yes, my kid actually says ‘restroom’. We don’t know where he got that because we are not that polite.)

Me: Do you think you can wait?

H: No, Mama. I have to go stink.

Excellent. At this point, I need to tell you that my kid hadn’t had a solid bowel movement in a week due to a nasty stomach virus. I was really in for it. We were at least 20 minutes from our house, so I had to think fast.

Me: OK babe, we’ll stop at the store if you don’t think you can make it home.

H: I can’t Mama. I have to go stink reallllllly bad.

Oh crap. Literally. We had spent the previous weekend cleaning out Ella’s car seat because she got car sick on our way home from New York and that was no picnic. I wasn’t ready, and my gag reflex wasn’t ready, for another mess like that.

So here I am on the slowest road of all time, the only road that I ever take that ever has traffic. Ahead of me, there’s a black Jetta actually swerving back and forth because his driver is so bored going along at the current speed. I started getting nervous. Would we make it?

H: Mama, I’ve got a full load.

Good God. Did that mean he had a full load in his pants, or a full load coming? I did not know and at this point I was sweating bullets in fear of what I was going to find when we got to the store.

We pulled into the shopping center drive, and H says to me, “Mama, are we going to a store?”

I said, “We’ll be there in just a minute, baby. I’m hurrying!!”

H: What are we gonna get at the store?

Me: We’re not getting anything. You have to go to the bathroom.

H: They have bathrooms at the store?

Me: Yes, I told you that was where I was taking you so you could go to the bathroom.

H: Oh.

At this point I had a sneaking suspicion that his urgency was not so, umm, urgent any more. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to take any chances. I flew into the parking lot, found the closest spot, and yanked the kids out of the car in a mad dash to get to the toilet.

Target has this neat family restroom where you can bring your whole brood in and lock the door with out concern of someone sneaking under the stall door. I love it. We headed that way when Harrison was all of a sudden distracted by the water fountain. He deemed this a perfect place to wash his hands, and miraculously forgot about this need to poop. Once I wrangled him, now crying because I took away his right to wash his hands in the fountain, into the family restroom and got him on the toilet, I instantly felt relief. We’d made it. There was no accident in the car. His Lightning McQueen underpants were still clean. I was mother of the year.

After a few seconds of wiggling on the toilet seat and a few “how does the world work” questions, there was a short grunt, and the deed was done. Do you know what I saw in the toilet bowl? The tiniest turd of all time. THAT was what we stopped for. THAT was what the whining and crying was for. THAT was the urgency. Sometimes, I wonder why we pushed the potty training…

FEED ME

I just witnessed the most epic temper tantrum of all time. In my kitchen. By my own kid. It all started when I got him up from his nap. That sounds like I woke him up, but I’m not completely stupid. I didn’t do that, and I never would. He asked me to carry him out of bed and into the living room. He does this from time to time, and Justin and I get confused because the kid has NO PROBLEM getting out by himself when he is supposed to be napping. Anyway, I digress.

Once we got to the living room, a steady stream of crying and whining ensued. I am used to this because, on a pretty regular basis, Harrison wakes up on the proverbial wrong side of the bed. No worry, though, I just let him cry it out until he’s awake, and he’s usually back to himself in no time at all. Today, the ruckus seemed to be going on a little longer, and then he asked me for something to eat. Ahh, I thought, this must be it. My kid is hungry. That was going to be a simple fix, because he had barely touched his lunch, and I saved it for him in the fridge. Thoughtful of me, I know.

I set the plate down, and he took one glance at it from across the room and melted into a pool of tears. Again. He kept wailing, “I want you to feed me!”, which puzzled me for several minutes. After reassuring him that I had, in fact, fed him, and his food was on the table, he was still inconsolable. He went on and on telling me for at least fifteen minutes that I needed to feed him. He did this in a nearly unintelligible manner, with tears streaming down his face, all slumped over in a fit of unhappiness.

It then dawned on me that he wanted me to FEED him. Like, spoon feed him. You know, pick up a utensil, shovel food on there, and put it in his mouth. Once I had this puzzle solved, I started laughing. I have not spoon fed this child in ages. He will be three next month. He is perfectly capable of doing this on his own, yet he was so angry I would not oblige that he even started hitting and kicking me.

He was so adamant that he could not feed himself that I had to think. Had I forgotten? Perhaps I just dreamed that he is an able-bodied and very independent individual, and now I’m awake and this is reality. Do I regularly spoon feed my toddler? No, that can’t be right. I glanced over at 14 month old Ella, who was shoving food in her mouth faster than I could cut it up, a trick I KNOW she learned from her big brother. I stopped second-guessing myself, and insisted that he was that hungry, he could eat on his own. I did the very best I could do to stifle my laughter, but I simply refuse to give in to such helplessness. I taught sixth grade for ten years-I know what happens to kids whose parents give in to learned helplessness. It doesn’t end, and you’re then stuck in a cycle of doing everything for your kid, forever.

I have included for you a video clip of this ridiculous event. In case you’re wondering, he never did eat his lunch, but he had no problem eating a cookie on his own later in the day.

Road Trip Tips

Tips for Traveling With Young Children

There are so many rules about distracted driving these days. Don’t text, don’t call, don’t eat, don’t change the radio station. But the true distraction in driving is getting in the car with small children. Harrison is always asking me to “look at this” while I’m trying to keep my eyes on the road. He sometimes breaks out in tears because his car seat straps hurt. And a ride never goes by without him telling me he wants to get out. It doesn’t matter if we’re going to the grocery store, or taking a nine hour road trip, but that kid has never been good in the car. We have come a long way since he was an infant, where he cried constantly any time we put him in his car seat. This didn’t stop us from taking the car places. Out of necessity, we had to go places, near and far. I know lots of moms who have told me that they have avoided the road-trip situation altogether by staying in their home town until their children are old enough to make a long ride without sucking the sanity from their parents’ very souls.

Not Justin and Me. We’ve traveled with the kids since Harrison was three months old. I’m not telling you it was a good idea, but we have learned some tricks of the trade in our adventures. I thought I’d share some of our tips so that you don’t have to suffer as much as we did in the very early days.

  1. Bring headphones. Not for the kids. For you. If they’re screaming, it will drown out the noise. If they’re complaining about your music (which Harrison started doing at 18 months), they don’t have to listen to it.
  2. Bring snacks. The glove compartment in our vehicle is packed with treats. This is good in case someone is hungry, or if there is a zombie apocalypse. You’ll be all prepared to escape.
  3. Expect that you’ll have to stop before you planned. Even if everyone pees and has a fresh diaper, SOMEBODY is going to need to go to the bathroom at the next rest stop. That person is usually me, but that is beside the point.
  4. Leave the house right before nap time. That way, everyone will fall asleep once you hit the road. If they don’t, you can always resort to dramamine. This is one instance where it’s ok to give your children sleep inducing drugs, and no one will bat an eye.
  5. If you are not the driver, and you will not be driving, take some dramamine yourself. No one wants a carsick parent, after all. Even if you don’t get carsick, and have never been carsick, this is a good preventative measure, and within fifteen minutes, you will be out like a light.
  6. If it is at all possible, try to take two vehicles, so your partner can drive with the kids, and you can ride alone in peace. Justin is at the car dealership as we speak checking out a good deal on a Dodge Charger. I’m not kidding.
  7. Be sure that your destination has plenty of wine. When you get there, you’ll need a glass. Or three.

Leakage

Today, my child peed on me. Not my diapered child. The potty trained one. This took skill on his part and ignorance on mine. Alas, another experience has made me smarter.

We spent the night at the home of some good friends who also have two small children. There were four kids under the age of three; four adults; and several bottles of wine. We predicted pure chaos, and were looking forward to the adventure, but our night went very smoothly. (The wine went down that way, too.)

Harrison woke at his usual ungodly hour of 4:10 am, and we had some quiet play time while the rest of the house slept. I’m just kidding. My kid is a maniac and he found all of the loud toys in the house, then proceeded to use them in rapid succession until he had some playmates.

My friend and I were enjoying some coffee while our little darlings played, when Harrison asked to use the bathroom. I was relishing in the glory of the fact that at least one of my kids didn’t require diapers. I thought about how simple it was to just saunter off to the bathroom with my little one rather than tote around all of the crap that goes with babies-who-don’t-pee-on-toilets.

I had to juggle putting Harrison on the toilet while I watched Ella toddle toward the bathroom door. In preparation for her arrival, I turned to shut the door, when all of a sudden, I was showered with a warm spray of urine.

I screamed and quickly tried to avert the stream, but it was too late. I had already been covered in pee, and after assessing the situation, I realized that the entire bathroom was coated as well. My dear boy who has been using the toilet seamlessly for months forgot to tuck himself in at the toilet, and made a mess of our friends’ restroom. Meanwhile, I couldn’t figure out how to divert my curious little girl from the mess, so, in a tiny half bath, I was soaked head to toe with pee, my daughter was stepping in puddles of urine, and my son wasn’t exactly sure what all the chaos was about. I guarantee you that he WILL be standing to pee from now on.

Dinner Out

I remember once, years ago, going out to dinner and being appalled by a loud toddler. I asked my mom why that kid’s mom wasn’t keeping him quiet. She smiled, and said, “You wait, my dear.” Actually, that was her comment to a lot of my questions.

And here I am, several years later, two kids smarter, and a lot more reluctant to go out to dinner. Don’t get me wrong, we still go out. It’s part of our lifestyle. We’ve always been of the mind that if our children get used to the experience of dining out and appropriate dinner table behavior at a young age, they will be well behaved in social settings in general.

Perhaps we were setting our expectations too high. Last night we dined out with my in laws. Being the grandparents of my lovely offspring, they kind of have to love my children, thank GOD. The other patrons, however, had no such ties. And, for once, Harrison and Ella were on the same page. That page must have read, “Let’s see how obnoxious we can be!”

It probably wasn’t Ella’s fault that the table top was glass. Therefore, when she banged her spoon on it in rapid succession, of COURSE it was going to make a loud noise. But, you know I’m a responsible parent, so I snatched that spoon right away once she started getting the attention of people seven tables away. My child must believe she was in the middle of composing a masterpiece, because her deafening screeches as a response to me repossessing the spoon were unbearable. I thought quickly and gave her some bread to pacify my poor princess. She threw said bread into her Rara’s purse, one small piece at a time.

I remembered that there were some toys in my diaper bag, so I grabbed a few and tried to entice her with them. That little tease looked me right in the eye while taking the toys and immediately threw them on the floor-four feet away from the table. I forgot to mention that I was cornered in the booth and blocked by her high chair so I had to perform an act that most gymnasts would admire to get out of there and retrieve them.

Once Ella got bored with the present company, she turned around in her seat and sang “hello” to all dining patrons, servers, and bussers, waving as though she were the queen.

Harrison couldn’t have possibly let this nonsense go on any longer. The thought of another child being more publicly obnoxious than him was abhorrent. He’s currently on somewhat of a hunger strike, and eats ONLY fruit snacks and graham crackers. This is why we were surprised when he took the entire loaf of bread and bit into the center of it, carefully chewing, and then placed the remains back on the cutting board in the center of the table. Bread anyone?

He also decided this would be the day he drank out of a “big boy” cup. Let’s keep this part short and just tell you that I used four napkins to fix that situation.

All that drinking made for several trips to the bathroom. On one such occasion, the ladies’ room was occupied, but you don’t mess around when a toddler needs to pee, so yours truly went into the men’s room. And because it was that kind of night, the hostess and a gentleman patron were standing outside the door to greet us as we exited. I did the walk of shame back to our table as Harrison pranced through the restaurant, free from bladder fullness.

My child wishes and hopes for his daddy all day long, but insisted at a very high volume that he must sit beside Mommy at dinner. I noted that this was odd, because we spend everysinglesecond together throughout the day. Doesn’t he want a break from me? A little space, perhaps? No. As a matter of fact, we had to hold hands once my meal came. This happened, of course, right at the moment that Ella thought she had been in her high chair too long, thus, she came to sit in my lap.

That haddock looked so good. I wonder how it tasted.

My father in law started feeding the kids cherries directly out of his manhattans. I suggested maybe he shouldn’t rinse them off before he doled them out, but he was afraid of the after-effects. I was just hoping a little bourbon might take the edge off. In other words, I was hoping he’d feed me some cherries. Or bourbon. I could have used some bourbon.

SInce I don’t drink bourbon, I probably won’t be going out to dinner with the kids again any time soon.

Dear Harrison (A letter from December)

I wrote this to Harrison several months ago. When he’s grown up, I will share it with him. Now, I’d like to share it with you. 

12.18.14

Dear Harrison,

Today you woke up full of energy and ready to begin a new adventure. Today I woke up and checked my email. You wanted to play and hug and eat cheerios. I wanted to drink my coffee and have a moment of peace and figure out why Amazon hadn’t delivered the package I had ordered. You did some naughty things even before we left for preschool and deep inside I knew you just wanted me to pay attention to you rather than making phone calls to the post office. Really, I knew you had it right all along, but my day went on and I dropped you off at school and headed for the gym.

Just so you know, that package had THE ONE present you wanted for Christmas inside. And I found it. And it was delivered later today. And even if it hadn’t been; no big deal, really. But between the time I dropped you off at school and the time I picked you up, something happened.

After I addressed the package delivery debacle, I took a few laps around the track. I saw the daycare kids playing on the mats in the lower gym. All of the children had taken their shoes and socks off and they were prancing, with their tiny feet, all about the gymnastics mats. They merrily followed one behind the other, playing some game instructed by their teacher. It made my heart warm and happy. Then I looked in the corner and I noticed one little barefooted boy sitting by himself. I could tell he wasn’t sitting out because he didn’t want to play. He had been placed in that corner by an adult. He had been naughty, and that was the consequence. I saw that little blonde haired boy sitting up on his knees, doing everything he could to sit still. I saw him watch anxiously, wanting to play and wanting to follow along. I saw his little bare feet tap his little bare toes on the blue mat, and I knew in an instant that that boy would be you someday. Someday you would have too much energy  and excitement for whatever program you were involved in and you would be separated. In a way, that’s what I did to you this morning. And I knew then that I needed to change. I needed to embrace your excitement and energy and love.

How many times did I separate those energetic, happy boys from my own classroom? How many times did I stifle the very life of a child? I don’t know, but I’m sure it wasn’t just a few times. Harrison, you are making me a better person, better mom, and better teacher just by being you. I hope that you can bear with me as I grow with you. I love you.

Mother’s Day

For a mommy blogger, the Mother’s Day post is imperative. How did it go? What did you get? All questions I’ve heard several times today. Well, here’s a little recap.

50% of my children can talk. The talking population spent a lot of time whining today and the non talking party spent a lot of time screeching and flashing the neighbors through our slider door. It was one of the loudest days I’ve had in recent memory.

I got to sleep in, so that’s a major plus. I may have had a teensy weensey bit too much champagne last night. And after that I had a couple glasses of wine. So, after I slept in until 8am, I took a nap at 9. Any day meant for celebration in my honor includes a nap, so Justin was not surprised about this at all. He was, in fact, surprised when I announced at 4pm that I would be taking a second nap. He raised his eyebrows and I explained that I’d have to wait a whole year to get to take two naps in one day so I was going to take full advantage of the situation.

In the short hour or so that I was awake this morning, I received some lovely gifts (earrings, necklace, and bracelet) from my family, plus a sweet card. Justin made me breakfast complete with heart shaped watermelon slices. He does rock.

We made one major mistake; a mistake no seasoned parents should ever make. We made plans during Harrison’s nap time. The immediate effects were not detrimental, but the long term outcome resulted in some ridiculous hysteria.

Following his extremely late and interrupted nap time, Harrison woke up requesting chips. But since we were eating chips outside and not inside in front of the tv, chips were thrown in disgust.

At dinner time, the little guy was having difficulty getting steak on his fork. This is only after he served two time outs for refusing to sit at the dinner table. The steak seemed to be the last straw, and I very nearly lost an eye to a flailing fork. Luckily, I still have my eyes, and Harrison managed to eat some dinner.

After dinner, while we were snuggling on the couch, Harrison was counting his fingers. He exclaimed that he had eight fingers. When I recounted with him using my own hands, he adamantly disagreed and insisted that HE only had eight. OK buddy. Some arguments I’m not going to win tonight. butyouhaveten.

We thought we were home free when we put the kids to bed. Silly us. Harrison spent a lot of time babbling and whining about being in bed, and at one point I sent Justin in to check on him. It turns out there was a particle of sand on his foot, a remnant from our trip to the beach this afternoon, which was causing him angst. Like any intelligent, yet manipulative toddler, he found several other things to demand of his daddy during this visit, including but not limited to, leaving the light on, more water, a snack, and his momma. The only request that was granted was his momma.

His momma. He wanted his momma. And, although my children were mildly obnoxious throughout the day, it was knowing I am needed by my son at the end of the day that makes this day what it is. It was him singing “Happy Birthday” when I walked out of my bedroom (well, there’s no “Happy Mother’s Day” song, so he had to improvise), it was Ella sitting on my lap at the beach carrying on a one-sided conversation of indiscernible babble. It was the dandelions that my boy picked and proudly presented to me. It was holding tiny hands, slobbery kisses, and belly laughs. It was a husband who loves me unconditionally, with whom I get the privilege to be a parent. Happy Mother’s Day.