MOOMINMAMMA

will troll you

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This is what I’ve been up to instead of writing. Plaid/fire trucks reversible nap mat. 

Ted asked Daddy to join him. Daddy asked to have a mat made in adult size. 

More pictures coming, if I can get Ted to actually nap in this.

This is what I’ve been up to instead of writing. Plaid/fire trucks reversible nap mat.

Ted asked Daddy to join him. Daddy asked to have a mat made in adult size.

More pictures coming, if I can get Ted to actually nap in this.

Filed under crafting

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Accidentally On Purpose

There was a Monday post, but it turned out too personal, so I canned it. Sorry. It had something to do with the assumptions we make about other people’s intentions, and how something completely innocent and unconscious we do can come to be seen by another as a declaration of war. It got messy. It also made me realize I’m trying to bring Ted up to be the greatest negotiator of all times. 

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Out On A Technicality

Ted (hanging off the baby gate, and having been potty four times this bedtime already): I need to peeeeeeee.

me (standing close by the gate and pointing into his bedroom): There’s your potty, honey. You can pee there.

Ted: I want to pee in the biiiiig potty.

me (kissing his forehead): It’s your bedtime, sweetie, you stay in your bedroom.

Ted (after a short pause): I want a hug, too.

me (hugging him where he stands, over the gate): There.

Ted: No, no. Big hug!

me (lifting him over and giving him a tight squeeze): Here you go.

Ted (kicking his feet forward over the gate, and giggling uncontrollably): I’m out of my bedroom!

me (putting him back down): Good night, Teddy bear.

Ted (diving into his bed): Bye!

I cannot believe he asked for a hug just to prove he knew a way around my edicts.

Filed under conversations with toddlers gotcha Martian logic

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Jaded

"Bird" was one of Ted’s first signs and words. He loves birds. As soon as he could walk, he’d try and catch them. Every. Single. Time. Whenever he spotted one accessible, he’d make a run for it. 

Occasionally, I’d use that penchant for bird-hunting to my advantage, to hurry him along. “Look, sweetie,” I’d say, opportunistically pointing in the direction I wanted to travel, “A bird! Go get it!” And he’d be off the block. He never got anywhere near one, but it never stopped him trying.

On a walk today, he spotted a big juicy crow. As usual, he paused and seized the situation first. Brow furrowed, he judged the distance and position. Then, nothing. He just stood there, staring at the crow. Seconds passed while he remained motionless. I couldn’t understand what was stopping him today, so I stepped in with encouragement.

"Go get him, honey."

"Nah," Ted shrugged, "It fly away."

It’s the end of an era.

Filed under steep learning curve growing pains

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D-Day

I’ve never been to court before, but there’s a first time for everything, so why not today?

A friend of mine is in the middle of an ugly divorce, complete with a bitter custody battle. Clichéd phrases I’ve hoped I’d never have a reason to say, but here they are, relevant.

I haven’t seen them together since before the separation. A year, two years ago? It was strange seeing them both in the same room, not even looking at each other, whispering to their respective lawyers with a look of determination on their faces. They’re in it to win it. If you’re into high-stakes games, totally wait with divorce until the birth of your first child. Nothing gets the adrenaline pumping like fighting over who gets to keep the kid.

The hearing was in the middle of the day, so I tricked Ted into an early nap, hoping that would make him more manageable for DH, who agreed to meet in town and take over for an hour or two. Never one to beat around the bush, I told Ted what was about to happen.

"Mommy needs to go to court for a little while, sweetie. Remember Susie? We went to the zoo together last week. Well, her mommy and daddy don’t want to live together anymore, so they are in court trying to figure out who will look after Susie now. They both love her very much, so it’s hard for them to decide. They need help. Daddy will look after you while mommy’s away."

"I want to stay with mooommmy!" Ted started to bawl, and I realized I failed.

"No, no, sweetie. Your mommy and daddy like living together very much. Mommy’s just going away for a tiny little while. Just enough for daddy to take you to lunch."

"To IKEA?"

Fail again. 

Filed under divorced with kids court day bad mamma toddler miscommunication

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Arachnophobia and its perks

I have only just rinsed the shampoo out when a sudden sound made me jump out of the shower and run upstairs. At first I thought maybe he just locked himself upstairs again and wanted the gate open, but as I got closer, the sound got clearer. Yes, the gate was rattling, but above that Ted was, unmistakably, screaming.

I turned a corner and saw him, face pressed against the railings and streaked with tears. He was yanking his ear so hard I thought he might tear it off. His eyes were filled with fear.

I got him to take a few deep breaths and calm down enough to tell me that something crawled into his ear. A spider. He would not stop twisting the earlobe and I got worried the thing was still there, or else he was calling the sensation a spider and maybe he jammed a crayon there instead, or worse. A few more deep breaths and he conceded it was definitely a spider and he brushed it away. He showed me where.

Pretending to be braver than I felt, I got on hands and knees and searched. It didn’t take long. I almost yelped. A big fat body and a two-inch legspan have never been my favorite spider qualities. Proportionally, next to Ted, this thing was the size of a tarantula. I stared some more but failed to confirm it was not a hobo, so down the toilet it went.

"Where’s it going?" asked Ted.

"Down the pipes!" I said, probably with too much mirth. Then, I realized my explanation needed a resolution, in case Ted developed a phobia of sitting on the spider-infested toilet.

"A long, long way away. All the way to the sea, where the fish are going to eat it! And when they do, they’re going to say, ‘Mmmm… What a big, juicy spider! Mm-mm-mmm… Yum-my!’”

I was curious where he found it, so I quizzed him some more. He pointed to the tub and yesterday’s clothes still in it. I couldn’t resist.

"Oh, honey! Daddy took your clothes off yesterday when you had a miss, and left them here. And wet clothes in bathtubs are spiders’ favorite. Poor spider thought he found a perfect place to live. Pee and poop go in the potty, remember?"

He talked about that spider and its journey to the sea for the rest of the day, and for the first time ever set his own potty schedule, with no reminders, and did not have a single miss. Go figure.

Filed under arachnophobia potty training weird incentives bad mommy making fun of kids

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The Marshmallow Test

Some days, he fights naptime with all his might. He can reach the point at which he’s rubbing his eyes and melting down at the slightest provocation, but still he won’t lay his head down on a pillow and rest. There’s just too much to do and see, too many pictures yet not drawn, too many stories yet untold. 

I can sympathize. But I’m not the one whose brain is still developing, and I already have all the degrees I’ve ever wanted, so it doesn’t matter so much that my memory consolidation will be significantly impaired without a middle-of-the-day-break

Which is to say, naptime is sacred. At least until the age of 5, if I’m to have my way.

Most of the time, he needs it, he feebly objects, he falls asleep. If that doesn’t happen, a short car trip usually is all that’s needed to push him over the edge (thank goodness he’s an easy transfer). Failing that, a stint in the stroller, though then I have to keep on walking until he’s done napping. (I’ll never understand why moving him from the car is no problem, while trying to even slow down when he’s asleep in the stroller instantly wakes him up.)

There comes a time in the life of every parent, however, when all of those stop working or are otherwise unavailable. 

Ted had a great time at a raspberry farm today. He spent two hours running up and down our row, tiring himself out (or so I hoped).

When we were done picking, I took him potty and gave him his favorite lunch du jour (peanut butter and raspberry jelly on toasted wholegrain bread), and we got back in the car for a nearly hour-long trip back home. With an empty bladder and a full belly, he was supposed to be out like a candle. 

We arrived home with Ted nattering away and singing, and showing no signs of running out of steam. I did herd him into his bed somehow, and he did go quiet for a while. I kept my fingers crossed. (We no longer own a working monitor. Don’t ask. Yes, Ted and his pool were involved.)

"I want out!" he opened the door and shouted down the hall, "Ooooout!"

"Bed, honey."

"OOOOOUT!!!"

I came over to the baby gate keeping him contained, and told him his stuffed toys needed rest. He could cuddle them to sleep, or I was going to take them to my bedroom so they could have their nap undisturbed. He didn’t want to part with them, so the door was closed again and again all was silent.

My babysitting job arrived, and I knew all was lost. As soon as he realized there was another toddler in the house, he was going to demand release. And I was going to let him out, because I wasn’t going to have him howl while I entertained another child.  

"Mommmmmmmyyyy, I want OOOOUT!"

The mom dropping off her child was still there, so I could quickly run downstairs alone. In a last ditch attempt, I gave Ted a choice:

"You can come upstairs NOW and play, but it’s stroller and errands for the rest of the afternoon. Or you can rest a little, and, LATER, when Susie is gone, we can go to the beach together, just us. I’m going to leave the gate open. You choose."

"Beach NOWWWW!…"

"NOW - stroller, LATER - beach."

"Beach NOWWWW!!!"

"The gate is open. Come upstairs or go to sleep, the choice is yours."

He burst out into tears and threw himself on the floor, but didn’t move. I had a little girl and her mom waiting, so I left him there. I figured he’d be up in a moment anyway.

The mom left, with Ted still complaining from downstairs. Slowly, his snot-muffled voice inched closer.

"Mommyyy… I want a huuuuggg," he called from the bottom of the stairs, forever a logician. I did say "upstairs,” so he was still within his right to keep the beach an option.

"Mommyyy, huuuugggg…"

I picked Susie up and downstairs we went. Ted was lying on the floor at the bottom.

"Okay, sweetie. Get in bed."

He picked himself up and bumbled back to his room. I got him in the bed and under the covers. He got his hug while Susie stood by, giggling, and he kept asking for more hugs to see if he could make her jealous. I hugged him until he was giggling, too.

We left. I closed the door, but left the gate open. He slept for two hours straight, and passed on the beach when he woke up. He wanted to go on the swings instead. To which I said, “Whatever you want, honey.”

It’s not every day your 2.5-year-old wins at the game of delayed gratification.

Filed under toddler discipline naptime brain development

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Toddlers are from Mars

The one truly useful piece of advice I ever got about communicating with toddlers has been to consider them Martians.

First and foremost, just don’t. “Don’t” needs to leave your vocabulary, or else you’ll always be misunderstood, always getting into repetitive, frustratingly circular arguments.

An example we’ve been given in one of the many parenting classes co-op pre-schooling entails illustrates this notion nicely:

There’s a baby playing at the top of the stairs. Don’t push the baby.

What did you see when you read that sentence? Not whisking the baby to safety, I bet. That’s Martian linguistics at their finest. That’s how toddlers operate. No frills, no caveats, just the bare bones: active verb, noun… Ignore the rest.

Don’t hit your brother? Don’t draw on the walls? Don’t eat the sand?… Don’t worry ‘bout a thing?

I should have guessed.

A few days back, Ted told DH he worried.

"What about?" asked DH, concerned. (After all, why should a toddler even have the concept?)

"A thing," Ted replied solemnly, then added, "Birds."

DH was stumped, but soon remembered the one thing I’m vaguely capable of singing. The one song I’ve been using as my go-to lullaby since we brought this little bundle of joy and toots home.

Three little birds.

It’s been fun. I’ve really enjoyed singing it, changing the number of birds to whatever Ted thought the most amusing at the time. But that was before. Now, I just don’t.

(Secondly, beware Martian logic. If you tell a toddler not to draw on the walls, they’ll go ahead and color the furniture. The only way around this lawyer-level loophole-finding master skill - and even that is nowhere near 100% - is to say, “You can draw on this piece of paper.” Any paper is fair game after that, of course.)

Filed under toddler miscommunication toddlers are from Mars language development language skills

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Applly: of or like an apple

Ted has been experimenting with grammar for quite some time, getting adept at basic tenses and creating plural forms of nouns, but yesterday marked a bold new foray into the world of adjectives.

We were playing with his farm animals and a toy barn, and Ted started pretending to eat the plastic apples from the barrel. They tell you to play along (allegedly, it makes the little urchins feel important and validated), so I asked how the apples were.

Ted gave me a quizzical look, then flashed a wicked smile and said, “Appl… ly. Applly!”

And thus a new adjective entered his vocabulary, and I started worrying that soon we’d have a whole imaginary language on our hands.

Filed under steep learning curve language development