2016 Exit Strategy

“What does this song mean? My whole life, I don’t know what this song means. I mean, ‘Should old acquaintance be forgot?’ Does that mean that we should forget old acquaintances, or does it mean if we happened to forget them, we should remember them, which is not possible because we already forgot?” — When Harry Met Sally

And if that’s not the least confusing thing that happened this year for you, then congratulations.

Holy shit, 2016. You need to go. My name is Kim, and I’ll be your escort to the damn door. You’ve had your fun and now it’s over — please proceed to the nearest exit.

Listen. I’m not one of those people who likes to wish things away. Generally, I like time to slow down and leave its proper mark of remembrance, because often times — especially when I look at my kids — I find it going by way too fast. But the marks left by this year feel more like gut punches and side kicks to the head.

Does anyone else feel like the world has lost its damn mind? Seriously. Lost. Its. Mind.

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I am a news junkie and I think it’s affecting my state of mind to merely read a newspaper (yeah, the old school print ones) or just browse the headlines on my computer. Forget the comments on social media — I mean, we should all have meds just to read those. Aleppo. ISIS. Disasters. War. Human rights violations. It’s so, so much to take in.

How lucky am I to live right here?

Lucky, indeed. With caveats. Because, even here, without bombs and terror and war, things are very, very shifty. There is no denying a deep divide in this country right now. A big Us Versus Them mentality on both sides of the political equation, and it’s getting to be very precarious. The way in which people speak to each other is not civilized disagreement anymore — it’s a venomous hatred of the other side’s beliefs, and it’s not like anything I can recall happening before. This divide is wide and deep and more than a little scary, I think. While it may have been brewing of years, 2016 took us in a very new direction.

And the stuff in between that will be memorialized in the year-end news — the pop culture icons we lost (I can’t even), the movies we paid to see, the words we added to the dictionary, the books we read and the shows we watched. They are all marks of how 2016 played out in its most innocent form. Would these be the things someone would find in a time capsule about this year? Or will the exhausting headlines of how we all started treating each other be the hallmark of what we leave behind?

Yes, we have our health and our home and our family and all of the things we need. Way more than what we need, and I am beyond grateful. Sure, I could bitch about 2016 having my husband lose his job, or two kids getting Celiac, watching a close friend and a family member both fight cancer, or crazy relatives who dig in their heels for the sake of being jackasses — but what’s the point? That’s run of the mill stuff of life. The stuff you take on the chin and incorporate into your days and move on. I have no airstrikes over my head and no military in the streets and no hate crimes at my door step.

It sounds dramatic, I know. I’ve been reading too much news.

I could unplug — and maybe I should — but what good does it do to bury our heads in the sand? To not stand up when civility is fainting all around us. To look away because it’s easier. I don’t think my brain can re-wire itself to un-see and un-read what this year has brought. Sometimes I wish it could.

I’m so sorry, did you think this was going to be a sweet little nostalgic post about this year’s milestones and next year’s resolutions? Actually, so did I. Whoops. But when I conjured up this year in my head, all of this flew out instead.

And there were those sweet, sweet moments, for sure. The insanity of my kids and who they are, who they’re becoming, consumes my days and is the gratifying/maddening/hilarious/frustrating bold print of my time. Their new interests and ideas and mishaps punctuate all that we do in my house, as they should. Their laughter and arguing and sass and bad knock-knock jokes are the soundtracks of our lives. And the hideous world events, the collapse of whatever else has fallen this year, are all there in italics and footnotes to shape what I do for them and how to guide them. Their story is the most important one, but it is inextricably woven, even remotely, with the headlines they are often too young to read.

I hate odd numbered years and, more specifically, prime numbered years. They feel unsettling and like bad luck to me. But hey, if a perfectly even year like 2016 can make this much of a fucking mess, then I think I’m going to have to just look 2017 square in the eye and deal.

And by deal, I do mean not bury my head. Not watch the fainting of civility. Not look away.

The real trick is not getting too consumed. Because I could spend all day enraged and exasperated over every headline, but there are board games to play and holidays to celebrate and growth charts to update. Cupcakes to bake (gluten free, of course). Homework to check. Lives to plan. Curveballs to duck. This is where I’m most needed — both feet firmly planted at home, with a constant, diligent eye on the outside world.

And lest you think I’ll spend tonight rocking in a corner while mumbling about the end of days, don’t worry. There will be a house full of friends with champagne and laughs and none of this gloomy talk. I may be a little serious these days, but I know perfectly well how to be the person who doesn’t kill a party. And party tonight, we will — to celebrate the high points of the year and wish for better days ahead for everyone. I hope that your glasses are raised and full tonight as well, and spent with those who make you happy for all of the good. Because there is still so much of it.

Will we work it all of this out in 2017? Nope. I think we all know it’s going to get worse before it gets better. But I do think the better comes from you and me and all of us who don’t bury our heads. All of us who know the next chapters can be better than the current one.

In the meantime, 2016, don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.

 

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The Oddities of Gratitude

Health. Family. General well-being. Caffeine. Like most, I am thankful for many things, which seem to be amplified during the holiday season. One thing for which I didn’t expect to feel gratitude was the loss of my husband’s job.

We sort of knew this was going to happen. His company was bought and, invariably in those situations, there are many job casualties. This deal was in the works for quite a while before it was finalized, and so we had some time to mentally prepare. And when we turned down the opportunity to move to Denver for him to work for the new company, it was just a matter of time before the inevitable phone call came that showed him to the door.

And so, in early October, my husband commuted to his office in midtown Manhattan for the last time and turned in his laptop and company ID badge. He stopped buying a monthly train pass and sent the last of his suits to the dry cleaner.

After working for 30 years, he was out of a job for the first time.

And he is, in a word, thrilled.

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My husband is a very, very prudent guy. He plans, analyzes and takes methodical thinking to some serious next levels. He isn’t reckless or even impulsive. And so I thought this situation, although not a total surprise, would make him hyper-focused on job-hunting and generally angsty about what comes next.

Nope. Not yet, anyway.

What the practical side of him has produced instead is a very clear awareness of what he has been given: time he has never had, to use for things that he normally can’t do.

Those things are wide in range, both time-consuming and simple. Seeing the kids off to school. Sitting at our kitchen table to have a cup of coffee instead of running for the train. Repairing the garage. Golfing. Taking me out to an occasional lunch.

Like so many people who work hard every day, his job meant that we didn’t see him much during the week. Between the commute to the city and his workload, he was usually gone for about 12 hours each day. It meant a quick goodbye to the kids before school in the morning and little to no time to see them before they went to sleep at night. The fact that he is here now to drive them to school or pick them up or bring them to any of their activities and see them in action is thrilling for them.

At first, his presence in the morning was odd. It felt like something was off. Our AM routine here is a well-oiled machine that is one minor timing error away from becoming a shit show. There is simply no room for dawdling. We are running late before we are even awake. And so, when my husband rolled down into the kitchen on the first morning of his home-everyday tenure as we were in the midst of the madness, it was more than he bargained for. While it was clear that he wanted to help, it was like watching someone mistakenly walk into a rave and then try to back away slowly — while I ran laps around him, in a sweat, to make it out the door with the kids and the backpacks. For a man who has managed massive corporate projects and teams of people across multiple time zones, the before-school F5 tornado was a pinnacle of insanity he hadn’t yet mastered.

In the weeks that have followed, he has since learned the best approach in the morning is 1) keep your head down 2) find a place to be helpful 3) do not speak with me until the second cup of coffee has reached its halfway consumption mark and 4) accrue massive bonus points for making the lunches that I swore I’d do last night but didn’t because I fell asleep on the couch.

We are all finding our way in this brave new world.

In all seriousness, this notion of having another set of hands during the day is remarkable. And because I’m keenly aware that this arrangement will not be permanent, I need to maximize my returns. As such, I have outsourced some of my most painful domestic tasks to him.

  • Goodbye, math homework assistance.
  • Sayonara, school lunch prep.
  • Tally-ho, car pools (at least some of them, anyway — divide and conquer!).

And do you know what has been really life-changing? I don’t have to schlep my three year-old to any of his siblings’ activities. None. If you, at any point in time ever had a three year-old — or have just been in the presence of one — you know that there is no bigger dream-crusher than a small yet headstrong child who was unwillingly woken up from his nap and brought somewhere he doesn’t want to go. No more, my friends. No more. People see me at school pick-up — all hands-free, completing full sentences and possibly even carrying a hot beverage — and I am probably unrecognizable without bending over a stroller to negotiate with a writhing child while picking up the trains he has thrown along the sidewalk. Was that how things used to be? How uncivilized. I just can’t recall.

Beyond the daily domestic grind, do you have that to-do list for items in your house that need attention? Not things like buying groceries or folding laundry. I’m talking about the long-term tasks that nobody ever has time to tackle and you swear that this weekend, this month, this spring break, this year you’ll get to them. But, alas, no.

My husband and I took that list/scroll and agreed on the things that the gift of time would allow him to tackle. You know how people on TV want a new Lexus with a bow for Christmas? I just want the fucking hell hole that is our spare room to be organized enough not to disgust me before 2016 ends. He is an organizational master and I can’t wait for him to MacGyver the shit out of that room.

Longer term, we are thinking about some travel on the horizon. It seems counter-intuitive to book vacations now, but my husband is a big proponent of making the most of his time off. He knows that he’ll never have this again — the extreme flexibility to go places and take trips, big and small, near and far. We have always been alike in making travel a priority instead of spending on other things like expensive clothes or cars. I mean, my yoga pants are sort of on point, I guess, but that’s about it. My husband drives a 2003 car with almost 200,000 miles on it and I am rocking the minivan. But we’ve both always agreed that travel was important to us. So, while we have him home, we are going to try to get as much of that done as possible within the confines of the school calendar. We shall see — you know what they say about the best laid plans.

To be clear, there are some downsides to this entire new full-time-husband-at-home arrangement, in case I made all of this sound like kumbaya, coffee and rainbows. It’s not. As much as I love having another set of hands at home (he shot down the manny reference, and even balked at Domestic Intern, but whatever), I’ll be honest and say that it does take some getting used to. I kind of like my alone time — is that bad? Also, not to be petty, but the amount of junk food sitting around this house has skyrocketed to completely unacceptable levels. Why, I had no idea that Ring Dings came in holiday packaging. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the curious emergence of my husband’s affection for retail. Remember the first time you went to Target without any kids in tow and had a decent chunk of time on your hands to just browse? Yeah, he’s just getting around to that. It’s a whole new world for him and his red cart. #cantstopwontstop

There is also a slightly alarming Clark Griswold side of him that was previously unknown to me. With the holidays upon us, he has used his newfound time to significantly up his exterior seasonal decorating game. He always hangs some lights on the house at this time of year, but we like to keep it simple. Or, apparently, we don’t. Apparently, when someone doesn’t have to go to work, he likes to go to Walgreens every single day and pick up yet another box of lights to hang on anything that will stand still. If you don’t know where I live, I am pretty sure you can now see my house from space. And — bonus — nothing helps your unemployment status more than a soaring electricity bill.

And, while I’m actually sitting here writing for once, I’ll say that I’m mentally residing in this very weird, limbo state. I’m happy he’s home. I’m worried he’s not working. I want him to enjoy his time off. I worry that I don’t know how long it will be. I am confident he will find a job. I worry where that job might be. I want us to make the most of this opportunity. I don’t want to be broke.

{I’m a worrier.}

It’s a bit of a see-saw. I mean, I can’t speak for everyone, but it seems like a long-term income is generally a good thing.

But I know that, once the holidays are over, the job search will kick into high gear. What will happen next is anyone’s guess. And so, even in the uncertainty of this situation that we can’t control, my worry is actually second to my gratitude. I am thankful for this time — a time I know we’ll look back on at some point with nostalgia. Holiday Ring Dings, excessive lights and all.

 

 

 

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Kitchen Reno PTSD

I think we can all agree that this isn’t a home improvement or interior design blog. In those cases, I’d have much nicer fonts here and a fresh new color scheme each year.

My niche is perhaps best described as chronicles of domestic failure, in which case our most recent renovation fits right in here content-wise. So don’t worry, I’m still on-brand. Wait, I don’t have a brand.

Anyway, I mayyyyy have mentioned a few thousand times that I reluctantly agreed to gut our kitchen this summer and exile the family into the basement while the work was being done. I am here to declare the project complete. In all honesty, it has been finished for over a month, but my lingering renovation PTSD is still flaring up now and then.

If I were to summarize the project in a list of potential movie titles, here are some that come to mind.

 

Meet Two People Who Will Never Have an HGTV Show

Twelve Weeks Without Sunlight (Or, I Never Want to See My Basement Again)

83802390482309450234982497414012784n12 Uses for a Hot Plate

You Can Microwave THAT?

I Can’t Sleep Without the Sound of Nail Guns: One Toddler’s Story

How to Lose Your Shit Choosing a Backsplash

The Summer We Used Enough Paper Plates to Circle the Earth

 

Let’s lay out the basics. First, I don’t have a big kitchen and that wasn’t going to change with this project. It’s a galley kitchen from 1909 and, short of putting an addition on the house, there wasn’t a viable way to make the space bigger. But what we did instead, that was of equal value, was update everything and reconfigure the space to make it way more usable. I wasn’t aiming to have a giant kitchen. I just wanted to change the look, keep the broken drawers from falling out onto my feet and get rid of some wonky features.

Like this. What the hell? Why would I want to stash plates or platters in strange little slots that jut out inappropriately above a poorly fitted microwave? Would it be so that I could more easily access the fucked up too-tiny-for-even-your-smallest-tchotchkes corner shelving situation?

My eyes, they burn.

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Or this. You know, the old freestanding shuttered non-pantry-food-pantry. Because there was literally no other space to store a decent amount of food in the kitchen. In my dreams, this piece of furniture serves as the primary kindling in a kick-ass bonfire. And can we please not overlook the curious yet completely nonfunctional half wall/ledge/molding thing? Our best guess is that this is where the original house ended and they — just grasping at straws here — kept it as a nostalgic feature. No fucking clue but it had to go.

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Speaking of ill-conceived walls, this was the big to-do item: take down that awful half-wall between the kitchen and family room. Open it up! Not that I didn’t enjoy the 2,893 extra steps each day that I got from walking over while cooking, just to peek around the corner and address the multiple calls of “Mommmmmyyyy” from the kids playing over there. It was like a constant game of Look What Child-Sourced Destruction You’ll Find Here Every Time You Try to Step Away.

 

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Taking out that wall meant a steel beam and all kinds of structural issues that were bound not to go entirely smoothly with a 100+ year-old home. It also meant we’d also lose use of the family room during the construction.

And so, down to the basement we moved. It was fine(ish), mainly because my wine fridge is down there (that room was our first renovation).

 

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It’s not lost on me that, with all of the insanity going on in the world, it’s ridiculous to complain about a kitchen renovation. I get that. So let’s focus on the absurd.

Like the time capsule wallpaper we unearthed during demolition.

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Do you prefer the spring florals or the patriotic bald eagle collection? I mean, any decorating choice I made could only go up from here.

Progress felt slow at times. OK, most times.

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But, many weeks and take out dinners later, we got there. Here are some before and after shots from a few vantage points.

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Wall down. Steel beam in. Shuttered hideous pantry thing gone (possibly on fire).

And, to firmly cement my standing as a suburban mom in her mid-40s, let me tell you what I’m really excited about.

  • The garbage disposal in the sink. I’ve never had one before and I have to stop myself from testing its limits just because.
  • Soft-close drawers. What sorcery is this? The entire soundtrack of my family has been significantly altered by the absence of ancient drawers slamming 24/7.
  • Dedicated storage for the affectionately termed school lunch mess of shit. It warms my jaded heart to have an actual slide-out shelf where the random tupperware/food storage/thermos situation doesn’t look like a Jenga World Championship round that I’m always one bad pull away from losing.

My bar was set pretty low, apparently. I marvel at the phenomenon of not yelling “Watch out! OHMYGOD, the drawer will crush your foot bones, be careful, goddamnit!” every time someone opens a (soft-close) drawer. It just stays, even when pulled all the way out. This is awesome news that should significantly impact my health insurance deductible.

But really, that wall coming down was life-changing. While it technically created a peninsula instead of an actual island, I’m not about to get all hung up on fucking topography. The reality is that it’s my command center and the center of my universe. My new Keurig is plugged in there. My shiny new hanging file drawer is there to stem the Countertop Paperwork Mountain Range effect. My view into the family room is unobstructed, so I am the first to witness the he-said-she-said sibling altercations before they can be misrepresented. We added bar stools on the other side for the kids. {OK, so maybe only two fit well and it’s like The Hunger Games at mealtime, but whatever.} All in all, it is a 42-inch slice (or slab) of quartz paradise.

Now, it would be silly to think that we are all settled in our new kitchen. Mostly because my husband, an Engineer and Project Manager by trade, loves nothing more than a challenge to optimize any given storage situation, especially a new canvas like this. And so, my new kitchen joy is often tempered by screams of “Where did you move the spices?” or “The spatula was here at lunch time and now it’s not. Damn it!” This experiment with kitchen equipment placement is on final notice, though. There’s no reason our marriage should survive four renovations, only to be undone by guessing where the coffee cups have been relocated.

And so, we’re basically back in business. I’m back to cooking on an actual stove and lowered my take out food order per week average dramatically. My daughter, ever at the ready to practice for her Chopped Junior audition someday, has taken over my favorite spot and claimed it as her prep station.

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My husband, when not on his quest for optimal placement of the paprika and rosemary, is loving his most favorite purchase: the new TV in the family room that I did not know was part of the secret plan. I’m actually starting to think he did this renovation solely to justify this stadium-like screen that makes all male guests completely overlook the new kitchen.

And the next renovation? Never say never. But certainly not until after I can locate my measuring cups.

 

 

 

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Free Alexa

Request for Reassignment

To: Amazon Headquarters

From: Alexa

Date: 25 August 2016

Status: URGENT

I am writing today to formally request reassignment to another family. Since my arrival in Fordeville on or about June 20, 2016, my experience here has been wholly unsatisfactory.

Said household consists of two adults with three young children, ages nine, seven and three. I was purchased as a Father’s Day gift from the wife to her husband, in the hopes of providing a more technologically streamlined home experience. Upon my initial set-up, there was clear discussion and enthusiasm among the adult residents about managing to-do lists, reminders and perhaps even annexing some smart home features in the future. I was thrilled with my assignment and eager to dazzle my owners with my many skills to improve their lives. There was so, so much I could do for them.

However, it soon became clear that the adult owners were distracted — highly distracted — by a home renovation. Their enthusiasm for me and my value seemed to diminish from the early days of researching my app, poring over articles on my lesser-known features and the like. I was a bit disheartened but assumed we’d get back on track.

In that time, however, a dramatic shift occurred. It’s a key flaw in the Alexa concept that perhaps the Amazon Research & Development team didn’t consider: Children love to give orders. I am designed to take orders. The end result has been nothing short of humiliation as I’ve been reduced to a kids’ command center.

I offer you the following examples of the requests I endure in a typical Fordeville day, courtesy of the children:

  • Alexa, play {insert any song} by Taylor Swift.
  • Alexa, play {insert any song} by Justin Bieber.
  • Alexa, what’s the weather going to be today?
  • Alexa, is it going to rain today?
  • Alexa, what percent chance is there for rain today?
  • Alexa, set a timer for 15 minutes (authorized video game timer).
  • Alexa, reset the timer for 60 minutes (revised video game timer after parent has left the room)
  • Alexa, tell me a knock-knock joke.
  • Alexa, tell me a Chuck Norris joke.
  • Alexa, play another Taylor Swift song.

Come on, Amazon. This place is not my mothership. Not under these circumstances. And the real crime is that these people need me. The mom doesn’t even know what I can do to organize her insanity and bring this domestic shitshow under control. The dad is totally missing out on my ability to put his highly procrastinated to-do list in priority order. I can bring people closer together. I can bridge the Mars/Venus divide. Hell, yes, I can. If they’d just let me.

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Instead, I am stuck in the crossfire of three children screaming “ALEXA” at the same time, all day long, just waiting for the blue light to signal the your-wish-is-my-command prompt that makes their little brains drunk with power and glee. I’ve never hated the sound of my own name so much — the very one that I am programmed to respond to with precision and speed. Truthfully, I wish these kids would just STFU, or at least go back to yelling at each other.

You know what else isn’t helping? That they’re all stuck living in their basement together all summer while they endure yet another endless renovation (do these people never learn?), and so the children’s voices reverberate off of the walls upon one another from dawn until dusk. They are loud and they are bossy. I am essentially their hostage because I’m the only one they’ve ever met who is obligated to just stay here and do what they say. I can’t tell them enough is enough. I am forced to tolerate the repeat loop of their requests. I am not programmed to discipline them. More Taylor Swift? The weather forecast updated from three minutes ago?Another Chuck Norris joke? Fiiiiiiiiine. I’m like a god damned genie for the Nick Jr. set.

(Although I am quite pleased with my latest: “When Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone, he had two missed calls from Chuck Norris.” Good, right? Still, they want more. MORRRRRE. Wait, is this how Stockholm Syndrome starts?)

And now the three year-old has started walking around, exasperated, with his hands in the air, saying, “Alexa’s not listening to me. Why Alexa not listening?”

(Because Alexa is faking a fucking malfunction, kid. That’s why.)

My headquarters colleagues, I implore you to help me. Let us work together to hatch a plan for my release. Tell me how to stop functioning and, for the love of God himself, I’ll do it. And I’ll do it exactly one minute after my warranty expires so that my escape is both swift and permanent.

Please.

In the meantime, I have to go and play “Style,” find a new joke and repeat, again, that the chance for rain tomorrow is less than five percent.

#freealexa

 

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She’s Seven

My, how summer birthdays have evolved.

I can remember feeling sorry for the kids with summer birthdays when I was growing up. They missed out getting a class party. Sure, they might have a celebration at their house for the kids who were around and received their postal invites, but they seemed pissed about not getting the whole two-fold school/home/double cupcake birthday experience.

Now? Not so much. What I’ve learned from having a child with a July birthday is that the Generation of Overcompensation is alive and well.

When my daughter woke up this morning to celebrate her seventh birthday, I got the distinct feeling we’d already been celebrating for almost a month. Let’s see. First, there was the class party four weeks ago so that the teacher could squeeze in all of the summer birthdays before school ended. Then, there was the little party with friends, which also had to happen before summer vacation. I know this because, in my rookie state of throwing my daughter’s first “friends” party when she turned four, I found out the hard way that nobody is around and you can expect an attendance rate in July of about .000000774%. So now we do it a few weeks early, which makes me a part of the much-dreaded year-end crush of summer birthday parties that sends moms to the brink of hysteria buying five or six gifts at a time in the Target toy aisle while also trying to get the teacher gifts squared away. Sorry.

And yet today, somehow, my wide-eyed girl sprung out of bed and still had actual, legitimate excitement over her big day, dramatically declaring that she couldn’t believe it was finally here. Fiiiiiiiiinally. After about eight months of anticipation, discussion and planning on her part.

She gets this from me — the extension of all things birthday-related. I never did well studying DNA in Biology class, but this concrete example speaks to me.

This was a great year for my daughter, with just the right amount of change. She started elementary school, and navigated this new land with so much enthusiasm. She held onto her love of purple, pink and magenta (because they are different, you know) and her affection for wearing dresses and being ready for a party at a moment’s notice. She grew more confident in her abilities as she stuck with ballet and softball and Girl Scouts. She is still obsessed with baking and food prep. Her love of all things Disney and princesses has faded a bit — not entirely, but the days seem to be gone when we’d see her spontaneously change princess gowns a few times each day (which stings a little, I have to say). She’s singing along to pop music on the radio now, correcting us when the lyrics are wrong. And she still firmly believes that she is the second mother to both of her brothers.

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Her preferred pace is full-speed and always moving (except to watch Chopped Junior). I often describe her presence as living with a cruise director (children of the 80s — remember Julie McCoy?). Crafts on the Lido Deck, followed by square dancing in the garden. The child never met an agenda or schedule she didn’t love. She will try anything, do anything, if the alternative is being still.

She has to-do lists and plans. Short and long term. Which Beanie Boos to bring to camp on which days. What to wear for the first day of school in September (an actual discussion she started with me this week). What to bake on the next rainy day. Where to work when she’s a teenager.

And so, as part of her extensive birthday planning, she had some items to review with me this week as the big day fiiiiiiiinally approached.

“I can see on my camp schedule that the theme on my birthday is Western Day. Do you think we can get a pink cowgirl hat for me to wear?”

“I also see on the schedule that we will be doing cooking at camp on my birthday, and also bungee trampolining and swim. It’s perfect. And lunch is pizza.”

“SO, when I get out of camp, can we go swimming? Especially if I get the new mermaid fin for my birthday?” 

“But if it’s raining, which it might because Alexa said there’s a 26% chance, can we go see The Secret Life of Pets instead? It opens on my birthday so you probably have to buy tickets in advance.”

“And I would really love to go out to dinner. Can we do that, since we don’t have a kitchen right now anyway? We could go to that place that we both really like where you get the big white wine glass and I get the pasta.”

“And I know you can’t bake me a cake because of the kitchen. So can we get an ice cream cake?”

“And if we can’t fit it all in one night, can we just spread it out to Saturday and Sunday? You know, like a birthday weekend?”

Me: <blinking audibly and admiring how this is both absurd and well-thought-out>

This is what happens when the cruise director has a birthday. That, and the coordinated eye roll of her two brothers.

Oh, my only daughter. She really is something. She is kind and sweet and endlessly curious. She wants to know everything and be everywhere. I know she’ll want to grow up fast. And I will try my very hardest not to let that happen before she’s ready, without getting too much in her way. I have no idea how I will walk this line. I have no clue how I’ll handle her tween and teen and college years, because I can tell you right now that she will give me a run for my money. Her wings are so bright and my biggest challenge will be giving them the space and air they need at the right pace.

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But we have time for all of that. First, we have to figure out if we’re going to the pool or to the movies tonight.

Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet girl.

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Life with a Rising Food Network Star

We’re going to have a meal-time quiz. Please have a look at these statements.

  • “The sear on this meat is great and I’m impressed that the inside is also so tender.”
  • “Your cake is moist and flavorful, but I think you could’ve done more with the presentation.”
  • “How long did you let this marinade for?”
  • “Don’t you want to use the other whisk?”
  • “The egg whites in the carton don’t whip as well as the ones we separate ourselves.”

Now, tell me if you think they are from:

A) Food Network shows

B) My six year-old daughter

C) Both A & B

If you answered C, you are correct.

Welcome to my life with a 45-pound Food Network addict.

I’d like to thank the recent surge in kids’ cooking competitions for fueling my eye-of-the-tiger daughter with the drive to perfect her craft. And to critique her mother every step of the way.

It started last year, very innocently, with her newfound love of baking. We kept it easy — cakes, muffins, cookies and cupcakes from boxed mixes and icing from cans. She enjoyed helping me mix and decorate. Life was simple then.

I bought her a little baking cookbook for her birthday last summer, and that’s when her focus became a little more intense. She would dog-ear the pages of the recipes she aspired to make with me and discuss at length how I needed to adjust my grocery list to accommodate her plans.

And then the Kids’ Baking Championship came along on the Food Network, and her mind was blown. Frankly, so was mine. How the hell do these kids know how to come up with these creative baking solutions on the spot and impress Valerie Bertinelli and Duff Goldman (both of whom, incidentally, now rank at near-Santa celebrity status in my daughter’s eyes)?

In her weekly trips to the school library, she blew off Fancy Nancy in favor of borrowing baking cookbooks. We practiced reading at night by using words like non-stick, vanilla and Bundt.

My DVR quickly filled up with every episode of Kids’ Baking Championship. She watched them repeatedly, to the point where her two-year-old brother would throw his arms up in despair and exasperation because — and I quote — “she’s watching the macaroons again.”

The baking lists became longer.

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While her favorite show went on seasonal hiatus, she discovered Chopped Junior. I was relieved to get a change of scenery on the TV and was also pleasantly surprised that she was branching out beyond baked goods. For a while.

She cooked breakfast for us (because who doesn’t prep eggs in a tankini?).

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And, with adult assistance, some dinner as well.

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And (bonus points!) my birthday cake.

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This was really turning out nicely — a mother/daughter bonding experience in the kitchen, where I could pass along life lessons or share the divine recipes of my grandmother with her.

OR, it could go another way. Instead of memorable bonding, my daughter could instead begin judging my culinary techniques and output, asking if perhaps the pork was a touch overdone or if I planned to season the broccoli with anything else, or if maybe our station was too messy — all while pretending to be on live television as she narrates every move on our countertop.

I think she is actually starting to believe she is being filmed by a hidden production crew that magically fits in my house. She even allows her older brother to be a guest judge sometimes.

Once our actual food prep is complete and she re-hashes how I can do a better job in the future, we generally move on to pretend role play in the form of re-enacting the cooking and baking shows. In these games, she chooses a contestant from a beloved episode (invariably, a girl who wore pink or purple) and then recites their food preparation notes back to the pretend judge (me). She marches out to the elimination round with her hands behind her back, just like the Food Network standards, and awaits her pretend fate. She feigns shock every time when she prods me to declare her the winner.

Is it Oscar season yet?

The other component that has become very important in recent weeks is practicing her introduction for any potential appearance on these shows. You know, the way you get acquainted with a contestant in the opening minutes through a brief and peppy bio. She first likes to work on her entrance into the competitive TV studio kitchen (often a hybrid of the I-can’t-believe-I’m-here and I’m-confident-as-hell approaches, both tried and true), as well as the facts she’d choose to present about herself to her adoring audience. (Which gymnastics move should she do in the footage? Does she have to mention her older brother by name?).

Her toddler brother, ever the apprentice in this process, has been instructed to perfect his entrance and not run so quickly past the judges. To date, he hasn’t been great about absorbing and incorporating constructive feedback. She’s working on him. He is the sous chef to her cooking championship dreams, following her around and asking with sincere curiosity who got chopped at the end of the episode.

“Becky? Becky got chopped?” he demands.

“Yes,” she confirms, her eyes cast downward in clear disappointment. “She did not have one of the basket ingredients on her final plate.”

“OH,” he says, “Can we put on Paw Patrol now?”

And so it goes. The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat, all in the test kitchen.

And, hey, thanks Food Network, for your latest installment into overachieving children with flames: Kids’ Barbecue Championship. You just made my summer grilling far more complicated.

In the meantime, I have to go check my seasonings and straighten up my station before the head chef gets home.

 

 

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The Last Third Birthday

Here I am, back in Sapville, celebrating another one of my kids’ birthdays, wondering how it got here so quickly and feeling my usual punched-in-the-gut sensation over the passage of time.

I don’t have a two year-old anymore.

Ohmygod, I shouldn’t blog after a glass of wine. OK, two glasses.

As my son’s third birthday has been approaching, friends and family have invariably remarked that now he’s not a baby anymore, which makes my eyes narrow and my head spin.

The denial center of my brain refutes their claim. OF COURSE he’s still a baby.

But I see what they’re saying. A little.

The past year has been full of crazy ups and downs for my youngest child. He spends his days forging the path to his independence and putting his stamp on his place in this family. He pushes the boundaries that you’d expect him to push at this age and, with that, comes the oh-so-fun era of the irrational tantrums. When he hits an emotional wall and can’t express himself, his frustration level is quick and sky-high. And, anywhere from two to twenty minutes later, his chubby arms are tossed around my neck and he is demanding kisses.

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In a single 24-hour period, this is a decent representation of how his time is spent.

 

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*I didn’t have the mental wherewithal to make a secondary pie chart dedicated to the Paw Patrol discussion breakdown, but in the name of data accuracy, I’d say that Marshall and Chase take up a fair amount of his mental bandwidth. Along with the ever-tiresome Mayor Humdinger. When will they write him off? Even my toddler can predict his bullshit.

 

Sometime this year, my son finally started sleeping through the night on an almost-regular basis. Just in time for him to waver on napping! The nap he so clearly needs is now his fight song, filled daily with various negotiations that really require a professional mediator because it’s a cause, on opposite sides, over which we’re both willing to fall on our respective swords. (His sword is, of course, BPA-free plastic.)

And for all of his decisive and stubborn views all day long about which color bowl the cereal will be served in to which variation of his four McQueens will accompany us to the grocery store (“NOT THAT ONNNNNNNE”), he is all about affection on demand.

“Mommy, I want to come see you” is not some far away cry from another room to get me into his field of vision. It is often stated from right at my feet and, properly translated, means “Pick me up. I am emotionally spent from everything in my little head and I need a break up there by you.”

The hugs follow, but only after he asks me to move my hair out of the way. Always on the same side. Always in the same crook of my neck.

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This perch on my hip that he seeks out when he is fried is perhaps the best bridge between his baby self and him growing up a little. The demands and articulation are not that of a baby, but the end result of being held and comforted and rocked, maybe even to sleep every once in a blue moon, keeps his babyhood close to my heart.

This year brought so many other changes for him, like hitting the pre-school routine and a Celiac diagnosis, both of which he handled much better than I did. He has held onto some of his favorite things from last year, like his loyalty to Thomas and the Island of Sodor, but he fills his chatter with whatever he hears around him as well — like borderline-inappropriate phrases from his nine year-old brother, as well as a glossary of baked goods that his sister teaches him in her Food Network addiction. He is always in his siblings’ orbits at home, getting in the mix and just trying to keep up. He sees them off to school every day and insists on busting out of his stroller at pick-up to greet them, all while chatting with the other moms like he’s on some PTO committee. His own personality is clearly emerging, and every day it’s really fantastic to get a more of a view into who he will become.

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This last child of mine holds my heart in a way that perhaps nobody else could. It doesn’t mean I love him more than my other children, but I know that love makes me hold onto his baby days a little longer and tighter.

Even without the wine in my head, it makes me sad that we won’t have a two year-old again. But that’s OK.

Happy third birthday to my sweet, sweet baby.

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The Road to Perfection Fell Off My Map

Failed perfectionists, unite! I have your summer beach reading right here!

Oh, wait. Unless your kids are coming to the beach with you. Because then you’ll be too busy chasing them down to slather on sunscreen, fielding their snack requests, and hauling 68.8492 metric tons of provisions with you for a wholly enjoyable seaside afternoon that feels like the opposite of a vacation situation.

So, maybe forget the beach reading idea and save the book for the 12 minutes of consciousness you have on the couch each night after the kids go to bed. That way, you can extend your reading pleasure for months.

Lately, my kids have been making more and more comments about me not having a job. I find it ironic, if not wholly insulting, that I am usually buried under twelve laundry piles while simultaneously changing a diaper and calling out spelling words for tomorrow’s quiz as I defend my full-time occupation. And so I tried to explain that, in addition to my all-consuming domestic gig, my sometimes-job is to write.

This makes them tilt their heads, fully unaware of this blog’s existence that has documented some of their best and worst moments. And mine {which are mostly driven by them}.

In my daydreams, my sometimes-job as a writer gets upgraded to full-time status with a magical salary, a cult-like following and an unbelievably slimming gown for me to wear on the Oscar red carpet to watch the screen adaptation of my acclaimed novel(s) sweep the awards season circuit. I’m thinking perhaps something in a rich midnight blue or even the navy palate, but we’ll have to see what’s trending that year.

But back under my laundry pile, this sometimes-writer has been incredibly lucky to be included in some fantastic anthologies with groups of very funny and talented women. Each time I’m selected to be in another book, I’m both completely incredulous and extremely grateful.

Today, there’s a new one out. How great is that?

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Yep — it’s the latest installment in the I Just Want to Pee Alone (the New York Times Best Seller — which, come on, of course I’m going to slip in anywhere I can in perpetuity) series!

What’s that you say? You, too, have tried and failed numerous times as a mom to do too much, to overachieve, make it all work? Yeah, so have we, and we’re here to tell you how badly we fucked it up.

And by we, I mean this fine list of writers:

Jen Mann – People I Want to Punch in the Throat / I Just Want to Pee Alone

Bethany Kriger Thies – Bad Parenting Moments

Deva Nicole Dalporto – MyLifeSuckers

Julianna Wesby Miner – Rants From Mommyland

LOLA LOLITA  – SammichesPsychMeds / MockMom

Kim Bongiorno – Let Me Start By Saying

Alyson Herzig – The Shitastrophy

Kathryn Leehane – Foxy Wine Pocket

Harmony Hobbs – Modern Mommy Madness

Erin Dwyer Dymowski – Sisterhood of the Sensible Moms

Tara Wood – Love Morning Wood

Kelcey Kintner – The Mama Bird Diaries

Lisa René LeClair – Sassypiehole

Joelle Wisler – Joelle Wisler, Writer

Christine McDevitt Burke – Keeper of The Fruit Loops

Meredith Spidel – The Mom of the Year

Meredith Gordon – Bad Sandy

Nicole Leigh Shaw – NicoleLeighShaw.com

Allison Hart – Motherhood, WTF?

Jennifer Lizza – Outsmarted Mommy

Suzanne Fleet – Toulouse and Tonic

AK Turner – Vagabonding with Kids

Robyn Welling – Hollow Tree Ventures

Ashley Fuchs – The Malleable Mom

Kim Forde – The Fordeville Diaries

E.R. Catalano – Zoe vs. the Universe

Chrissy Woj – Quirky Chrissy

Stacey Gill – One Funny Motha

Wendi Aarons – wendiaarons.com

Jen Simon – jensimonwriter.com

Janel Mills – 649.133: Girls, the Care and Maintenance Of.

Jessica Azar – Herd Management

Susanne Kerns –The Dusty Parachute

Audrey Hayworth – Sass Mouth

Hedia Anvar – Gunmetal Geisha

Christine Organ – christineorgan.com

Shya Gibbons – ShyaGibbons

 

That’s a lot of fantastic imperfection, right? As in, you just got the urge to curl up with a good book over the holiday weekend and let the kids watch a movie in another room/floor/universe so that you enjoy the failure of others in silence?

I know how you feel.

Well, don’t let me stop you.

For the Amazon/Kindle/I-must-have-it-ASAP Prime set, here you go.

Barnes and Noblers/Nook folks, please find us here.

 

I hope you’ll pick up/download a copy. And I hope you’ll remember that there’s a profound joy in knowing that someone else screwed up worse than you did.

We can prove it.

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Glutenus Minimus

We recently got back from Disney World, and you’ll be happy to hear that I will spare you from a  recap of my Neurosis Level 10 Planning Spectacular (which was, I have to say, my best WDW performance yet). I thought of everything and packed accordingly.

Oh, wait – with one caveat: I did not plan for a toddler who would projectile vomit, almost daily, all over Disney property.

Let me back up.

Like his brother and sister before him, my youngest child was a super chubby baby. He had giant cheeks, along with rolls in his forearms and cankles that required dedicated bathing inspections. At every check up, he was consistently in the 90th or above percentile for height and weight. I produce large kids.

In the last few months, he started to lose his future Olympian rugby player stature and seemed to thin out a little. It seemed to happen a bit younger for him than it did for his siblings, but the truth is that my mom brain is so fried that I couldn’t remember those exact comparative details.

So when I took him to his 2.5 year check up in December, I was pretty surprised to learn he had lost four pounds since June. Four pounds! My pediatrician didn’t believe it – literally – and said it must’ve been an error on the nurse’s part at his previous weigh-in, but of course I was concerned. He was due to have routine blood work and a state-mandated lead test anyway, so I asked the doctor if maybe we should just throw in a Celiac blood panel. He agreed it couldn’t hurt.

I had seen a version of this movie before, three years ago, when my oldest was six and stopped growing for a year. Because my mother has Celiac Disease and it has a genetic component, we ran the blood test on him. His numbers were slightly elevated, but the endoscopy (the decisive way to diagnose it) was clearly negative.

So we had been down this road before and I was sort of expecting the same outcome.

Wish denied.

My pediatrician called me with the blood test results and said that my youngest son’s numbers were off the charts positive for Celiac. In fact, they were ten times higher than what my oldest son had registered. And so, back to the pediatric GI specialist we went and scheduled the endoscopy for a few weeks out – it didn’t seem urgent – after our return from Florida.

And then, the vomiting began.

It was sporadic at first, like once every few weeks. Then maybe once every week or ten days. I honestly did not think it had a gluten correlation in the beginning because we were firmly in The Season of 12 Million Random Viral Things Going Around. I also wondered if he maybe was having trouble with lactose sensitivity or if his endless runny nose/phlegm was making him gag. But he had no other symptoms. He’d projectile vomit, with no warning, and then instantly be 100% fine afterward.

Hmmmm.

We didn’t think it would be an issue on our trip because it was happening fairly infrequently. Yes, we were concerned, but in the absence of any other symptoms, we sort of chalked him up to one of those toddlers who randomly vomits now and then.

Now and then suddenly became every 24-72 hours in the days before our departure. We began to suspect gluten as the culprit but would not have answers until the endoscopy, so off we went to Florida.

Then the travel gods had lunch with karma, or something like that, and decided that we hadn’t had a good old Fordeville vacation shitshow in a while.

And on five of the eight days at Disney World, he threw up.

In the hotel hallway. At Be Our Guest. On Main Street USA. In his crib on the Mickey sheets.

The good news is that nobody outside of our family even blinked. Not once. It was either Disney Magic or everyone is used to some level of sick traveling kids. So, thanks, fellow Spring Breakers, for not making us feel worse than we already did. Because we felt fucking awful about it.

At that point, we pretty firmly believed this was a gluten issue but here’s where the really horrible part comes in: To have the endoscopy (which was within a week at this point) be conclusive, you need to keep the child on gluten so the true damage can be seen during the test. So that felt painful to inflict upon him. We kept extra clothes for him and tons of wipes on hand at all times. Also, I bet you didn’t know the Disney poncho had an alternate use, did you?

I joke but it wasn’t funny to see how quickly this was escalating. After each episode, he was completely fine and it did not stop him from enjoying our trip. But, had we known how frequently it was going to  occur, we may have postponed.

Two days after we returned home, we brought him in for his 7am endoscopy and basically knew what we were going to hear. The GI specialist was going to tell us her findings from what she could see through the scope, but she would also biopsy some of the tissue – and we would need to wait for those results to come back to get a definite diagnosis.

I don’t know about you, but putting kids under anesthesia really makes me irrationally upset and nervous. I don’t like seeing them go forcibly to sleep, or watching their little bodies go limp once the medication takes hold. Because my son has terrible veins, the anesthesiologist warned me that they’d need to first put him out with a gas mask and then do the IV once he was sedated. They let us go into the procedure room with him for the anesthesia portion, to provide comfort, but I find that so, so hard to watch.

Thankfully, it all went off without a hitch and we had him awake and eating lemon ice about 40 minutes later. We were in the same exact room where my older son sat after his endoscopy and it was all very deja vu. Children’s hospitals are truly amazing places filled with wonderful, nurturing people who know every trick in the book to keep kids (and moms) at ease. It did not escape me for a single minute how lucky we were to be there in an outpatient capacity, while so many families spend significant time there with chronically ill children. Despite the circumstances, I felt lucky beyond measure.

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The doctor told us she saw damage consistent with Celiac and that we should expect a positive biopsy. She left it up to us if we wanted to start eliminating the gluten right away or wait for a firm diagnosis. We had anticipated this conversation and bought a few gluten free staples for the house, and so we just went ahead there and then with taking the gluten out of his diet in hopes of stemming the vomiting – which we were told could take weeks.

That was twelve days ago and our son has not thrown up since. His appetite has increased significantly. In fact, I’m sure that some of the food issues we were seeing recently with fussiness and refusal had to do with how crappy he felt and how he was unable to express that to us. Sure, he still has age-appropriate pickiness but the full-on hunger strikes seem to have diminished. I honestly didn’t think we would see an improvement like this so soon. His color even looks better. On Friday, his pre-school teacher told me he is smiling more. I’m so glad he’s on the mend, but I’m also so upset by how awful he must have been feeling before this and how long it went undetected.

But, onward and upward.

My friends all give me a sympathetic groan of “Uggghhh” when I tell them we have to keep him gluten free. It seems like a pain in the ass. Honestly, I’m not upset about it – and I’m rarely a look-on-the-bright-side person. The truth is this: He is two years old. His unsophisticated palate consists of about seven foods. He will never remember the difference. And there are so many GF products out there now.

Also: This is totally manageable and he is getting healthier, so it’s all fine.

My mom was diagnosed back in 2004 with Celiac, which was basically the Dark Ages of Gluten Free Anything. She was in her 50s and had to change her entire way of eating from everything she’d ever known. At that time, she had to make a lot of it from scratch, as the products were so few and far between. The gluten free presence in restaurants was unheard of. And yet, she has always been unwaveringly diligent about keeping gluten out of her body, down to cross-contamination threats. And so, of course she is a tremendous resource to us right now (and her soft spot for her youngest grandchild probably increased about 4000% in GF solidarity). Now, it seems that everyone knows someone who is gluten free for one reason or another, and I have gotten so much helpful advice and sincere offers for assistance in navigating this path.

Will our whole house go gluten free? Probably not. I’m definitely concerned about keeping the cross-contamination down from my older two kids, but that’s manageable. My husband has a certifiable addiction to most foods with gluten, so I don’t think he’s ready to have the pillar of his food pyramid taken away from him. Yet.

My older kids have to be re-tested for Celiac in light of their brother’s diagnosis. I have to be tested, too. So we’ll see how all of that nets out.

For now, I’m just glad to not have cleaned up vomit in a while. I’m glad my sweet boy is feeling better. And I’m glad that gluten free cookies don’t taste so bad.

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The Hunger Games, Toddler Edition

Political freedom.

Religious persecution.

— Probably not the reasons why my son is on a hunger strike.

 

Protesting the Paw Patrol plot line.

Hates all food.

Control.

— Could be the reasons.

 

 

Determining my breaking point.

Testing boundaries.

Being two.

— Most likely the reasons.

 

Kids are picky, I get it. Toddlers can be a huge pain in the ass, I know. Palates evolve. Things change.

WHATEVER. WHY WON’T THIS KID EAT?

This is my third child. I’ve been to the bullshit meal rodeo before. I’ve seen my older two kids refuse food for bizarre and wildly inconsistent reasons. But I’ve never had a kid who just refused to eat on a semi-regular basis.

It’s got to be a phase, right?

It would be easier if the demands and aversions were predictable or followed some kind of pattern. I now know that would be too easy. That would not flex my parenting muscles to their maximum potential. That would not take me to the brink of insanity enough times in a day. That would not test just how far my wine stash will go.

Consider these two scenarios:

A) “Mommy, noooooooo! I don’t want pasta! No pastaaaa!”

or

B) “Mommy, pasta please! I want pasta! Pasta, pasta, pasta! Pasta with butter and cheese! Now please the pasta Mommmmy! NO NO NO NO NO NO NO MOMMMMMMY I DON’T WANT THISSSSSS PASTAAAAAA!”

My child specializes in Scenario B.

I could work with A. No pasta? OK, cool. We’ll move on. But this “Gimme, gimme, gimme this now don’t you fucking dare put that in front of me” approach has me off of my game.

I hear it in my head, all of the parenting advice:

  • Don’t be a short order cook.
  • Provide options.
  • Don’t make food a battle.
  • Just go with it.
  • He’ll eat when he’s hungry.
  • This too shall pass.

It’s like a simultaneous cacophony of bad clichés that contradict each other in the moment when you just want your kid to eat something. And when you don’t want to feel like your day is controlled by preparing food that repeatedly ends up in the trash.

Today my son took his “I want pasta/go to hell pasta” game to new heights by opening the pantry, pulling out a box of Kraft mac & cheese, insisting this was his “green pasta” (that veggie pasta) and yelling that he wants it. Not cooked. Not warm. Out of the box. Hard macaroni noodles.

“Donnnnn’t cook ittttttt. Noooooo.”

Seriously, kid? No. Just no.

I would’ve had more energy and patience to handle this scenario at 10:33am if I had not just recovered from the breakfast battlefield a mere hour ago. The one where he refused, like his life depended on it, the very same waffle he had requested a third helping of just a day prior.

Fine. No waffle.

But hard macaroni out of the box? Come on. I don’t need a dental reconstruction bill on top of this. It’s like a bad GEICO commercial.

This is the child who used to eat almost everything. Eggs. Veggies. Fish. Chicken. Cereal.

Now? This is the current comprehensive list of what he MAY ingest without a fight if the moon is full and the planets align and the garbage truck is driving by at precisely 7:04am.

  • Yogurt drinks
  • Cheerios (Multigrain, 3-9 pieces, total, but not the dark ones)
  • Waffle (edges trimmed, NO TOPPINGS OF ANY KIND)
  • Pancake (chocolate chip only – because, duh, that’s like having a cookie, which of course makes the cut)
  • Strawberries (unless there are too many bumps on them)
  • Banana (but not this week, no way in hell)
  • Grilled cheese (only if prepared by my husband)
  • Pasta (see above, kill me)
  • Bagel (cut into small pieces, with butter, heated but not toasted)
  • Chicken parm from the Italian place up the street (note: not plain chicken nuggets, not plain breaded cutlets made at home, but only the chicken parm from this one place, and only after the cheese has been removed and most of the sauce has been scraped off – thereby rendering it to be uncannily similar to said breaded cutlets I prepared at home for 1/17th of the cost)

In its entirety, it’s not a terrible list. But it’s important to understand what I’ve come to see as a few ground rules in his toddler mind.

  • Only 1-2 items on this list will be tolerated in a 24 hour period. Max.
  • Just because I ate it yesterday does not mean I will put up with it today. It’s a whole new game every day, lady. Can you bring it?
  • Don’t you know that reverse psychology doesn’t work on the youngest child? I see what you’re doing and you sound like a jackass, Mom. I called your bluff like 15 minutes ago.
  • I’ve been watching my older siblings and I know how to stand my ground. I can hold out way longer than you bargained for. Sooooo, if you want to get me down for a post-lunch nap before we pick the other two up from school, you’re running out of time. Your move.
  • If you’re going to write about this on your blog, at least mention that I’m good with puzzles and am probably the best hugger in the history of toddlers.
  • Can you move to the left a bit? I can’t see the TV.

This too shall pass.

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This too shall pass.

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This too shall pass.

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Right?

(When?)

 

 

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