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The Easter Egg Debacle

I know you think I am a nice person. And I am most of the time. But a patient person? Having a toddler has shown me all of my imperfect impatient downfalls. These became glaringly apparent when we went to dye Easter eggs this past Saturday morning. How quickly I had forgotten the Christmas cookie baking lesson. Dying Easter eggs on

I thought I would be able to figure something out on the fly. Give her a way to dye the eggs. But boom, she’s trying to lay the egg down on the flat table, grabbing the cups of dye, and there’s just no way to baby proof this event. As I was already twitching from the rest of the morning, the moment she took the egg and crushed it in her fist, I knew we were done.blowing bubbles on

I bloody well love dying Easter eggs. It’s totally a thing for me. Mandatory seasonal crafting along with carving pumpkins. But there are certain things that need to be done without two year-olds and this was one of them. I didn’t mention the brain exploding amount of patience it took the other day to hold the bubbles for like 45 minutes straight while she attempted to blow them, did I. I’ve just gotten rid of the eye twitch and pray it won’t return.

Yes, some women are born to have and raise children with infinite patience and no other expectations. Pas moi. I could do without this toddler phase except for the utter heart stabbing cuteness of her saying “Wogger” for water. And the shrieking contagious giggles she gets when her Dad zerberts her on her tummy.eggs and bowls on

So I am now completely aware that again, I’m not a toddler crafter. I need to leave this stuff to the pros. I’ve learned my lesson. And I’d like to apologize to Fiona, and I just might some day, but not today. I am however secretly praying she doesn’t take this event personally and have it thrown back in my face at age thirteen.

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The Necessity of Nap Time

Mothers worldwide know the importance of regularly napped children. Those same babies with mostly lovely regular little napping schedules then become tots who begin to doubt your wisdom and their bodies’ need for the nap. And what happens next can be the difference for a family’s well-being and Mommy’s happiness and sanity.

Nap derailments can come when you least expect them. Holiday schedules threaten their inevitability. Sickness can destroy a well-earned nap schedule with one night of fever. And a car induced nap can rob you of a longer better placed nap-time.

Those who don’t think this is a big deal, I now hate and disown you because what we Mom’s end up with is spending the remaining hours of the day in some sick sadistic time warp where hours feel like days. And we are doomed to carry out the rest of our day’s work making the dinner or giving baths to little psychotic people.

Fiona on the Necessity of Napping on

Sleep deprivation makes me mean. In the same way, that one hour nap is absolute salve to the temperament of the toddler. And when a nap is missed, it makes her mean times a thousand.

Everything is wrong. Invisible items on the floor hurt her sensibilities. Bright lights cause shrieking. You can’t eat that cracker because all the crackers in the world belong to her. A change in the tone of your voice is proof there is no God. There’s something that must be living on her tongue that she points to regularly which has now taken a figurative possession of her vocal chords. Can’t I understand? And because I wont let her assuage her aggravation in front of the TV for another three or four hours, I am dead to her.

Passed out in the high chair on the Necessity of Nap Time on

I then get the crying sound cannon aimed at me as it follows me around the house blasting me with the highest longest convulsive shrieking. She cries AT me. Even when I’m on the potty. And so I have now decided to put certain rules in place about napping to cover my butt.

  • If there has been no nap whatsoever achieved by 3PM, its car ride around the beltway time. Keep driving. At least you aren’t getting cried at.

  • If the child has fallen asleep in the car, give up that crazy notion that you can get them inside, up the stairs, strip their coat and boots off, and place them in the crib for the rest of the nap. You leave them in the car with the engine running, go pee and grab a book, and wait that nap out. Read above first paragraphs to refresh your memory for the why.

  • Never wake a sleeping baby or toddler. There’s a reason for this long-standing statement. Figure out who’ll sit in the car. Figure out whatever you need to figure out but waking them is not ever an option (well maybe like once but mostly never).

sleeping Fi on the Necessity of Nap Time on

  • Fight the urge to run into their room when they cry. See if they go back to sleep. Give it just five minutes. Time it. If they don’t go back to sleep, do anything to keep them in their cribs. When their 14 months and little “I can stand up!” Jack-in-the-boxes, lay them down, pin their hips with one hand and pat their butts with the other, and tell them it’s all good and you’re there. Be ready to lay on the crib rail with your head patting and pinning their hip until they fall asleep again. This technique worked with two children.

  • If they’re bigger, say toddler size, and you know they’re tired and then, when you enter the room, they give you that sly “I’ve got you” look, have a seat in the chair in the room, do not make eye contact, calmly tell them to lay down, and them fiddle on your phone until they stop crying and eventually fall asleep. It just worked for me minutes ago and took about 15 minutes. That was a Super Nanny trick I saw a long time ago. (Sadly I discovered upon her waking she had a poop in her diaper but it’s not my fault she can’t talk.)

Eamon and Fiona sleeping in the car on the Necessity of Napping on

And if all else fails, YES! plug them into the Pooh/Elmo marathon they’ve been harassing you for and then walk away. The mounting anger and frustration at knowing what you’re in for the rest of the day with a non-napped child will not get you what you want. Be ready to get your needs met another way. You do need a break and it is unfair that you just got robbed of your entitled nap time and now move on. Make another plan. And then make a new rule like” don’t try to nap them before 1:30″. Or get them outside to actually run up and down the sidewalk each morning. Or have a friend come over and give you a half hour break. Making a toddler nap action plan tells you that you still have choices and that you are in charge. And feeling overwhelmed isn’t helpful to anyone. Good and bad, Mommies are still the ones making the decisions even when they don’t feel like it.

The Whine Frequency

My budding toddler has begun to emit a sound that now wins the highest honor for most intolerable and grating sound in my brain. It is known as a whine to you and the whine frequency is maddening to me.

Fiona has delivered me to Dante’s whatever level of hell for mothers. I now know that in fact girls are more dramatic and they instinctively come up with the concept of fake crying by 18 months. It would almost be impressive if it weren’t so upsetting.

Fiona in the sun on the Whine Frequency on

You see, mother’s have a special programming chip in their brains for their child’s cries. They can hear a whimper from their child across a room crowded with chattering chimpanzees. This is a biological programming chip that keeps people alive until they can keep themselves alive.

Fiona covering her face  on the Whine Frequency on

But now, the integrity of the cry is being corrupted. She is no longer in danger or pain most of the time when she emits this frequency that is so high and raw, it’s worse than any chalkboard or Styrofoam squeak anywhere. Because my brain immediately responds to the distress and instantly I also know there’s nothing wrong. It’s a false alarm every time. Fiona's profile on the Whine Frequency on

I would love to jam earplugs in my ears all day. But there’s that one tiny chance that she’ll actually hurt herself by climbing onto the windowsill and then fall off and thrust her tiny teeth through her lip. And so I live in the perpetual irritated state of toddler girl whiney-dom. Don’t forget the added older brother factor which increases the whine’s occurrence just because it’s fun to poke her. Please kill me now.

Reading Restraints

He came home from school and told me he was reading the Hunger Games. Had been talking about how his friend had read it and he was going to check it out. And he had. I was a little skeptical. Thought it may be over his head. So I asked the librarian.

Miss Amanda knows my kid. Her daughter’s a lot like Eamon in his reading voraciousness. And we traded stories about how both our children had teachers this year who want to hold them back in their reading levels. We discussed how we feel about that. We concurred that we have to defer to the ruling of the teachers, however much we may disagree with their practices, and encourage our children to do anything to woo the teacher’s good opinion, such as making vocabulary lists on their own. Eamon playing the piano on

We also agreed that all children need encouragement to pursue whatever their interest and curiosities are in learning as these may lead to more. More knowledge is never a bad thing. I think Manga, a pictorial action adventure book like the comic books of yore, is a gateway book in a good way.  Pictures and words become intertwined and suddenly Eamon will be drawing epic battles for days. 

Miss Amanda showed me Common Sense Media dot Org, an unbiased go-to website for checking out the content and appropriateness of any type of media for Eamon, be it movies, books, or video games. I love a good tool. And thanks to Miss Amanda, I’ve got a go-to place when I’m feeling not so in the know about his media input. Because I may have been hip and in the know 20 years ago, but now I’m “Granny know nothing”. S’up?Eamon on

When we walked out of the library, speedily heading for home to avoid the impending rain, Eamon had about 15 books in the bottom of the stroller. And with a really satisfied look on his face, he said, if I don’t read them, I’ll just check them out again. My kid’s a reader, no matter what level he’s told he should be on, he’ s excited to read. And last week, he was even writing a book. That’s more than I’m aspiring to do these days I assure you.

The School Cafeteria

(A treat for you from two years ago. A piece I’d hoped to have published and never got around to submitting so here it is for your reading pleasure instead.)

Twice this year, I have taken the “opportunity” to have lunch with my kid. I twitch at this memory and the thought of  the incredible quantities of food that are being tossed into the trashcans. I experienced an overwhelming sense of loss. Needless to say, my visit was both a jarring and eye opening experience both times.

Last year, my son was in the first grade and lunched with the fifth graders. So when the megaphone got pulled out, I figured it was the older kids that were to blame. Near enough to middle school, I knew there was trouble a-brewing with this demographic.

But this year, the attempt to quell the “chaos” with a prison-like loudspeaker system commanding quiet from a room half-full of seven year-olds was employed multiple times in the limited lunch time period.  My husband and I recalled that our grade school lunchroom was just as loud. But as long as food wasn’t flying and children weren’t running, that’s a school lunchroom’s MO.

As for the food, thanks to people I actually know, there has been a true effort to make the cafeteria offerings a little more nutritious. They admit they can’t go all Jamie Oliver’s Food Nation on the system but I did see hummus on the menu. And if the children are hungry, they will eat the food that is in front of them. But on the occasion I was visiting the school last, it was holiday time. Despite the teachers attempt to not spoil their lunch, the kids hunger was quelled prior to lunch by those class parties.

Now sitting in the school cafeteria, I looked at the kid across from me and queried him on his indifference to his food. He said, even though he wasn’t hungry, if he was in the daily bought lunch program, the lunch women were required to put the complete lunch on his tray.  So a main, a snack side, a fruit or veg, and a drink would all be piled onto his plate. Even if he was just going to stare at it. In Union terms, an opportunity to eat was being provided.

As I watched all these loud children ignoring the majority of the food in front of them, I asked one of the lunchroom patrollers/teachers about the state of waste that I saw occurring. He said that they’d at least instituted a policy were pre-wrapped food could be brought up and trades could be made. The kid next to me took advantage of this and had at least two portions of pineapple. But I watched tray after tray of packaged and uneaten food go into the trash.

I then commented to the janitor at the amazing amount of wasted food I now saw actually physically being dumped into the trash cans. And this was only the second grade. There were many more lunchtimes yet to happen. Daily. Statewide. I then asked if he had any idea whether people were dumpster diving behind the school. He probably thought it an odd question but  I assume they are. He said surely the trash services picked them up quickly enough. Were the bins locked?

When I had asked the grocery store produce guy this question as he filled a huge trash can full of wilty vegetables, he said that he knew people not only dumpster dove for the produce, but sold it as well. Just because you can’t see it, hunger is still everywhere. And he added, they used to give the damaged pet food bags to the pet charities until they found out that people were purposefully sabotaging the food bags. And that was the end of that. Idiots.

The system is more than flawed. Mandatory feeding rules and regulations dictate what big brother thinks our children need in their bellies while feeding them within the scant hurried half hour of lunch when they’re not hungry, denies real bodily desires and needs to be met. And the waste factor is really disturbing and health regulations shut any other possibilities down.

I nod and smile when my kid asked me if I’ll come back to school again. I didn’t even mention the part where he completely ignored me during his lunch to show off to his buddies. I ended up making small talk with the kids around me. They are entertaining but I think I’ll skip the lunch visit and enjoy the academic classes before or afterwards instead. Or make my husband visit instead.

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