Empathy Ends At Home

by The Momma on March 6, 2012

“OH NO! Sad Nemo!”–Upon seeing Nemo get hurt.

“OH NO! Sad baby!”–Upon hearing a baby cry in the grocery store.

“OH NO! Sad boy!”–Upon seeing a little boy in a book cry.

Crickets–Upon whacking mom in the face.

Crickets–Upon biting dad.

So I’m confused. Because the kid obviously gets SOME idea of empathy. He knows when characters, other kids, babies, and OTHER people are sad. But the Momma and the Daddy? Nothing. Understanding that his actions have hurt us? Nope, no clue.

Is it because he thrills at exacting his revenge for the humiliation of diaper changes? Is it his twisted way of making sure we know who’s REALLY the boss? Is he plotting to murder us in our sleep? All while commiserating with that poor sad Nemo?

I mean, look, I’d rather he feel empathy with at least SOME things than none. And if anything is to suffer, I guess I’d rather that it’s his dad and me instead of the “outside” world. At least we know he’s not a total psychopath.

But for our sakes, I have high hopes that he will, someday, feel bad for Momma and Daddy the way he feels bad for that damn animated fish.


A House Full of Scavengers.

by The Daddy on February 29, 2012

The house has turned into this strange synergistic zoo lately.

The dog follows everyone around, the kid antagonizes the cat, which brings the dog over, the dog and cat start going at it, we come over to intervene, and the kid takes off in a new direction, delighted by the madness. The spectacle continues at dinner.

The dog waits like some kind of jungle ninja, anticipating any food that might drop from the kid’s eating area, and when I say “might” I of course mean “invariable will.” It bugs me, but definitely falls into a “choose your battles” scenario. I know she’s gonna get every crumb of food that lands on the floor, I would just prefer that it not be in the middle of a meal. Tie in the challenge of teaching the kid to cover his mouth when a sneeze is coming on, and you’ve got a recipe for a disgusting food shower that while disgusting for us, is a shower of mana from heaven for the canine.

This place is a freaking zoo.


You’re Not the Boss of Me

by The Momma on February 27, 2012

“Mommy sit THERE.”

“No Mommy, not there, THERE.”

“Mommy, DIS way.”

“Not dat way, DIS way.”

As the Noodle has gained more language skills, increased his stubbornness, and, yes, gotten older, he has shown a new skill that I, for one, am not a fan of:

He’s one bossy little guy.

Seriously, EVERYTHING lately gets commands. Do dis, do dat, go DIS way, sit there, oh, and by the way NOW. And it takes everything in me some days to not just yell, “YOU’RE NOT THE BOSS OF ME LITTLE DUDE.”

(I know, how grown up of me, huh?)

It’s just a passing whim, of course. I’m the adult, he’s the kid. I have to teach him how to appropriately act, and part of that is by reacting appropriately. And yelling and going “la-la-la, I’m not listening to you!” isn’t really appropriate. But man, sometimes that’s really my gut reaction. One I tamp down, but a gut reaction nonetheless.

This being a mom of a toddler thing is tough sometimes. Sometimes I don’t WANT to put his needs first. Sometimes I don’t WANT to keep giving of myself and my time and my energy. Sometimes I don’t WANT to measure my responses, or think of what I’m teaching him, or take a deep breath before speaking. Sometimes I don’t want to sit where HE wants me to sit, or watch what HE wants to watch, or pick him “uppio mommy,” or play zoom cars or whatever thing it is that he’s demanding of me at that moment. Sometimes, I want to be the very selfish, very self-absorbed me that I was allowed to be before he got here.

Sometimes, *I* want to be the boss of me.




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…About the Mystery Injuries

by The Momma on February 24, 2012

The Daddy: The Kid’s Skyrocketing Number of Bangs and Bruises- Simply a Sign of an Active Busy Boy or Terrifying New Reason to be Concerned?

The Momma Oh my WORD with the mystery injuries. I swear, I feel like I turn around and he’s got a new bump, cut, bruise, or owie!

D: I KNOW it’s because he’s got a new hardwood bed with a low rail. I KNOW it’s because he’s running, jumping and climbing more and more stuff. I KNOW it’s because he’s acting more and more like a howler monkey on PCP, or you know, turning into a little boy. Still, we go out in public and I can’t help but feel, Idaknow…strange.

M: I know. I feel like we need to put a sign on him that says, “He did this himself!” But that’d probably look suspicious.

D: I know, anything you could think to say or do only makes you look like some kind of excuse-making child abuser. I know the reality is that probably ALL kids (especially little boys) will go through this. It’s a blessing in a way- the kid is healthy and active enough to constantly be unaware of his limbs and falling on his face. Still, it’s probably because it seems rather new and sudden.

M: If he’d watch where he was going (or, you know, if he had any modicum of healthy FEAR OF PAIN), things would be better. But he just seems completely unaware of his body or his surroundings, and hence we end up with mystery injuries.

D: Yeah, the mystery ones bug me the most. It’s like, I KNOW they’re taking good care of him at his daycare, and I KNOW it’s not neglect, but when he comes home with new mystery bruises no one was aware of, I get frustrated. I’m not even sure of what, it isn’t like they can prevent the kids from falling. We can’t prevent him from falling when it’s just him and us, let alone a whole madhouse zoo of playground urchins.

M: Honestly, I never really question the daycare as much as you do (I mean, really. Those ladies deal with, what, 16 toddlers? How they see ANYTHING is beyond me). But I do hate not knowing how stuff happened. And I hate that he can’t tell us yet if it hurts!

D: Don’t get me wrong, there’s NO way I’m in any way blaming them for anything, it’s just one of those moments where my super hardcore Type A personality comes into play. Could I have prevented it? Was someone lax in attention for a split second? No one could ever match up to what I THINK I could have seen, which is totally unfair.

The bigger thing is him not being able to tell us, I agree. That just really hurts my heart.

M: Yeah. Would that we could use the monkey thought translator on him. Because I hate seeing him not have the words to tell us he’s hurting. Beyond the ever present requests for “Banane?” (Bandaids, for those not versed in Noodle).

D: Yeah, but that little dork thinks they’re stickers half the time! I almost wonder if he bonks himself on purpose, he jumps to “Ban-Ain???” so fast. That, and the fact that he practically never complains about something hurting, more than a few seconds after a major bump, I wonder how much pain he must be enduring silently all the time. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad the kid isn’t a complainer, but still, if he could tell us, we could try to make it better or something.

M: Having a spartan for a kid has its downsides, clearly.

D: Chalk it up to one more thing I never thought I would worry about as a parent- that my kid is too quiet about something. My future self is clearly winding up to punch me in the face right about now.

M: Well, it’s not like he’s quiet about anything ELSE. But yeah, let’s not complain TOO loudly about that.

D: I’d rather he just got more agile, but I know once that happens, he’ll just be into more complicated injury-inducing stuff. Once he masters climbing, he’s gonna want to go rock climbing or play lacrosse or go base jumping or something.

M: Oh man, I’m already dreading it. He’s a daredevil NOW, I’m terrified of what’s gonna happen when he REALLY figures out how to monkey his way around.

D: Just wait. Rollercoaster surfing into hang-gliding, known as RollerGliding or its street name: “Gloasting.” The newest teen sensation, and he’ll be leading the pack.

M: You’re giving me gray hairs just thinking about it.

D: You mean MORE gray hairs? Wokka wokka!

M: *insert eyeroll here*


Guest Noodling: And the Oscar Goes To…

by Guest on February 22, 2012

Our next guest post is from Ashley at It’s Fitting. Besides talking about urban farming, sharing great recipes, and writing about life, Ashley is mom to an adorable little boy who definitely has a mischievous twinkle in his eye. I think the Noodle and her little man would get into a ton of mayhem together. Though they may have to fight it out for some of these prizes during award season…

In this season of the Golden Globes, the SAG awards, the Grammys and the big man Oscar himself, it’s important to start lining up your winning picks. Brad Pitt for Moneyball? The Artist? Even with all of the different categories and incredible talent out there, I feel that I can safely pick a few surefire winners…

Best Actor in a Drama.

Goes to… my Toddler.

As any parent can tell you, a toddler’s capacity for dramatics is unparalleled by even the likes of George Clooney or Brad Pitt. My particular breed of toddler likes to pitch himself to the ground and lay there, writhing in agony, yelling, “I FELL, I FELL!! OUCH OUCH OUCH OUCH. MOMMY!!! KISS AND MAKE BETTER!!! AAAAAAAAAGH.” All of this hysteria is completed with one small eye open, checking to see the dramatic response from the viewer and adjusting accordingly to ensure the most visceral, emotional response.

Bravo Child. An inspired performance. I laughed, I cried, I totally raced to the phone to call 911.

Best Director.

Once again, my Toddler.

Clint Eastwood ain’t got NOTHING on my kid and his ability to “direct”. All day long I hear from my little Cecil B DeMille in the backseat of the car, or outside in the backyard, or even in the bathroom.
“No Mommy, not that way, go right.”
“No Mommy, you stand here, I throw the ball to you. Hands together to catch, down more, more, more. OK! I throw the ball now!”
“Mommy, you sit down here, go potty and I will bring you a present. Here’s paper, YAY MOMMY!”

Best Foreign Language Film

The Conversation. Never heard of it? It’s because it takes place at my home, almost every day with this kid… I actually got a role in this film, thank goodness, but he is, as usual, the star.

One particularly poignant scene has us sitting in his room, having a compelling conversation about… well, something hard to explain, at least to me. Subtitles are definitely needed.


“Kiddo, I don’t understand you with the paci in your mouth, take it out.”


“Baby, I don’t understand.”

And with this look of utter exasperation and pain on his face, drawing upon all of his experiences in his 2 long years on this earth, he slows WAAAAAAAY down and says, perfectly clear and concise and eloquent…
“Please take off my shoes and put them in the closet. Thank you.“

“Oh… ok… um, sure.” (Didn’t see THAT plot twist coming, did you? Truly genius work on his part)

End Scene.

He’s going to be a winner this year, for sure. Between the acting, the directing, the command of the English language… this kid is a triple threat. And at the end of day, after all of the dramatic roles he has played, and dealing with the morons around the house who obviously have JUST gotten their SAG cards, he and I both know for certain that he’s got one in the bag.

Best Picture… Of course.


The Bits and Baubles of Childhood

by The Momma on February 20, 2012

Every corner and crevice of our life has proof of that a kid lives here.

There are toys in our shower.

Rogue stickers on the floor of the dining room.

Matchbox cars in the banister on the stairs.

Handprints at hip height all over my closet mirror.

Little socks stuck in the couch cushions.

Leftover valentines in the dog bed.

Stuffed animals shoved in the bookshelf.

A red top in my jacket pocket.

Everywhere you turn, there is a reminder—small, large, messy, sweet, or otherwise—that our lives are now overtaken by a toddler. There have been the toys found in our bed late at night, or the jelly smears on my phone found after lunch, or the various stickers that I’ve pulled off my shoes every day for 2 weeks. At every turn, there is a physical reminder of the chaos and mischief.

I’ll be honest, there are days when it drives me insane. When we’ve cleaned the whole house and mere MINUTES later, the detritus is all back. When I’ve stepped on that same damn car 3 days in a row, in different rooms. When, FTLOG, I’m cleaning Cheerios out of the car…again.

But most days, I relish the chaos. I smile when I’m at work and I find the toys in my purse. I grin to see the dog with a sticker stuck to her tail again. I love the little reminders (as if I could ever forget!), that life is different now, messier maybe, but filled with fun little surprises.

Although I will NEVER like stepping on Lego. That’s more than any sane person would like.


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…About What Happens When the DVR Breaks

by The Momma on February 17, 2012

The Daddy: Losing Everything on the DVR- Dire Situation or Wow, We Sure Have Relied on Television a LOT Lately…?

The Momma: Can’t it be both? We’ve absolutely been using the TV more lately, true. Which is what makes it so dire!

D: Ha, that was what I was thinking. For all our talk about how much we weren’t going to let him watch too much television, it certainly seems to have become indispensable.

M: 6am on a Saturday morning in particular, I have ZERO problems acquiescing to the cries for Superwhy or Woody or Megamind (I’m crying now thinking of those all being gone! GONE! Damn DVR erasing all our shows).

D: Seriously, maybe it took losing it all to make us realize how addicted we’ve become to having it on, but at the same time, I still don’t think we’re overindulging the kid. I still stand by my belief that he’s gonna grow up with more screen interaction than we ever will. And while we need to monitor how much is happening at this early age in terms of brain development, I still maintain that it isn’t too much of a problem.

M: I also think it’s really interesting how suddenly his television watching is MUCH more interactive. He sings along, he answers (as best he can) the call and response, he dances, he looks for answers, he empathizes. It’s definitely not just a lump on a log watching.

D: No, I agree. It isn’t a passive brain dulling experience, especially when during dinner time, he’ll reiterate the Yo Gabba Gabba “try it, like it!” in his awesome little way. He’s retaining and learning the stuff, which is why I almost feel like there’s nothing wrong with, if not an added bonus for him to watch the educational shows that he does. It’s weird, 100 years ago, educational television as an interactive learning aid would have been marveled at, but we’re stuck with addressing the over-abuse stereotype of parents that just plop their kid down in front to go drive to the store or smoke crack or whatever.

M: Seriously. This is one of those things I really don’t worry about anymore. Plus, you KNOW our kid isn’t in danger anytime soon of not getting enough physical activity, so we can ignore that argument as well. The TV is less and less something I worry about, in general terms. We’ll have to deal with content appropriateness stuff as he grows up, but let’s save that fretting for another day.

D: No, indeed the problem lately is losing the shows he wants to watch to the failures of a cable company. I do find it interesting how fixated he’ll get on a particular show. He’ll be all hardcore for something after watching it a few times, and then you go and suggest his other favorite, and he’ll lose his mind to want to watch the brand new show. The next day, something totally different. Of course there are the sticky faves, Pixar’s Cars and the like, but the individual shows seem to be sporadic, and for some reason, this is comforting to me. Dunno why though.

M: I like to see that his tastes change and flux, that it’s not just the same thing over and over. Until it is, of course.
M: And I’m royally pissed that the DVR has left us without ANY of his favorites as backup. Grumble grumble.

D: One more reason to consider moving straight to all internet-based on demand TV. Maybe as the kid’s evolution of television consumption evolves, so too should our delivery system. Last thing we want is to be behind the digital curve!

M: True. We’ve been discussing it more, and maybe this is the push we need to really consider it. But until then, Saturday morning is gonna HURT.

D: Luckily, the weekends are the days he gets his “uneducational” TV shows remember? The Cars DVD to the rescue! We’ve got a temporary reprieve for the moment.

M: Thank goodness for Cars!

D: Amen!

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A Sandbox in Your Shoe.

by The Daddy on February 16, 2012

Such fun, sandbox time.

Shoe removal was needed.

The sand keeps coming…

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We’re Off With the Chickens

by The Momma on February 15, 2012

Our friend Shalini  over at Reading (and Chickens) is on vacation, and she asked REALLY nicely if we would mind “blog sitting” for her for the day. We’re nothing if not eager to snoop around in our friend’s medicine cabinets when they’re gone willing to help a friend, so you can go check us out over there. I mean, it’s not often you get to throw a party at a friend’s place, and one that has chickens to boot!

We’re talking about being (or not, as the case may be) a morning person.

Go on, go visit!


On Learning to Not Care About What Other People Think

by The Momma on February 13, 2012

I think it was the moment that I was standing in JCPenneys with my child flung over my shoulder while he screamed bloody murder, kicked and flailed and turned purple with rage that I determined I really can’t care what other people think anymore.

You’d think that the injustices of pregnancy, the loss of all modesty of delivery, the over-exposure of nursing, or the time I showed up to work with oatmeal in my hair and spitup on the crotch of my work pants would have been enough to make me stop caring what other people thought, but I think it’s really been the toddler tantrums that have made me say, with 100% conviction:

“I just don’t care.”

That’s not to say that I don’t care about my child, obviously, or that I don’t care that we’re raising him right, or that I don’t care about being “that parent.” But in the middle of a toddler meltdown (and hoo-boy, are we getting our fair share of toddler meltdowns lately), I can’t care. I can’t care about the eyeballs on me, or the exasperated sighs from other store patrons, or the looks of chagrin from store employees.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing that’s not embarrassing about your child being totally out of his gourd with frustration. It’s hard, in those moments, to not feel like you’re failing. The defiance and willfulness and stubbornness of my toddler make me wonder often if we’re messing up. Trust me, those looks from outsiders is nothing compared to what I put myself through. But in eye of the storm, it’s my job to block out those other people and focus on my child. The only way he’s going to learn, the only way WE can teach him, is if we focus on him and not other people.

I don’t like being the mom of the kid having the nuclear meltdown in the middle of shoe shopping. I don’t like having to physically remove him from the store before he spontaneously combusts from the outburst. But my not liking it has almost nothing to do with what other people think of me or my kid, and everything to do with me wanting to be the parent who can help her kid learn to manage those outbursts for HIS sake.

In the end, I care more about what he becomes, and how we get him there, than I do what other people think.