Parenting Dilemma #432

Imma cook sumfin yummy for you.

Kids don’t come with manuals, and situations for which there are no set rules pop up with some frequency. As a favor to you, I am here to give you a leg up on your own parenting by sharing some potential dilemmas. This provides you an opportunity to discuss with your co-parent/mother/therapist ways in which you might handle the same incidents should they ever happen to you. Thank me later. Believe me, you will want to.

Situation #432- Unsolicited Sharing.

Smallest son approaches you with finger outstretched. On said finger, you find the bounty of his most recent (oh, dear Lord, you hope!) nostril-mining expedition. And he is offering to share it with you. Do you:

a) Scream loudly, remove the prize with a tissue and bathe both child and yourself in Listerine

b) Admonish your child to never, ever, ever pick his nose again, that’s disgusting!

c) Recognize that your child is very, very generously offering you a treat he was planning to eat himself and thank him, while quietly removing offending nugget with a tissue.

d)) Pretend you don’t understand what he is saying and offer some fun-bubbles and a good hand-wash

e) Crawl under the bed and hide, hoping beyond hope that he doesn’t wipe it on the new curtains

There is only one wrong choice, and the very thought of it gives me the screaming willies. I couldn’t bring myself to even offer it as an option. So what do you do? Don’t even bother to check Dr.Spock or the Baby Whisperer, because they have neglected to cover this particular situation. Discuss and get back to me.

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My Mom-iversary

Only three of these are mine, but I'll claim the fourth one, too.

Tuesday was my oldest child’s birthday. She is 14. It was a monumental day for me, too. It marks the anniversary of the day I became a mom. I remember it well. Not really. A big portion of the day is a huge blur. What I do remember is the terror that clutched my heart as I realized I had created this little creature, and now I was responsible for keeping it alive. I was a different parent for her than I am for the two boys. Experience teaches you things, if you are paying attention. I was very, very intense in those days. I was terrified to make a mistake for fear of screwing her up forever and ever. I now realize that we all gift our children with our own special brand of crazy. Perfect isn’t necessary. We just need to be good enough. Here are a few things I have learned over the years.

1) Choose carefully the clothes you want to give birth in. You will never, ever wear them again. Ever. Ever. Seriously. Some stains are just not meant to come out. Took me three babies to learn this.

2) Baby fingernails and toenails grown at the speed of light.

3) Tiny fingertips bleed like a son-of-a-pup when you cut the nail too short.

4) Biting off your baby’s nails isn’t bad parenting.

5) No toddler ever died from eating mac and cheese 6 meals in a row. Off the floor.

6) Too many sweet potatoes will make your toddler turn orange. Like an Oompah Loompah.

7) Pediatricians find it very funny when panicked mommies rush in their orange toddlers thinking they have jaundice.

8 ) Toddlers fed too many sweet potatoes take about a week to resume a normal hue.

9) Babies usually say “Da-da” first, but that doesn’t mean they will call him in the middle of the night. If they do, it is because they are expecting transport to the Mothership. As in “Da-da! Come here right now and take me to Mommy!”

10) A baby may not eat broccoli for love nor money, but you better put the cat food WAY out of reach.

11) Don’t buy clothes that you mind getting stained (for you or the kid). That is where the grape juice will land. Every time.

12) Buying second-hand clothes doesn’t mean you are a bad parent.

13) Use the date stamp feature when you take pictures of the kids. You’ll forget how old they were.

14) Carry a little notebook and write down the funny stuff as soon as they say/do it. You’ll forget it.

15) Review your little notebook often.

16) A child can grow up to be a productive member of society without ever once having gone to an enrichment program.

17) Crumbs in the butter never hurt anyone.

18 ) A gummy smile can melt the heart of a grown man.

19) A grown man whose heart is melted by a gummy smile is often worth hanging onto.

20) Not everyone is cool with you sniffing your child’s behind in public.

21) Think before you act. If you grab that booger out of your little one’s nose, it is helpful to have a plan for where to put it.

22) Toys with small parts breed when left in the living room floor. The same is true for pennies and cat hair.

23) You might not be overwhelmed with love for the baby the first week or two. It’s hard to love something so scary. It will come.

24) When you head out on that long road trip, you will regret not putting off toilet training for another few weeks.

25) Each child will be your favorite. For different reasons.

Dancing With Danger

It's a copperhead. It has nothing to do with the story, but it's the most dangerous thing I have a picture of besides my toddler.

As I approach middle age (and I am not telling you how close the target is), I am feeling the need to add some excitement back into my life. Not just excitement. I’m talking about a dose of terror that leaves me feeling lucky to be alive. Not bungee jumping. Too tame. Or sky-diving. Too cliche. Or refusing to file my tax return. Too stupid. No, when I want to achieve that living-life-on-the-edge experience, I leave for school five minutes later. Because I am an adrenaline junkie.

We live in what is known as The Zone of Parental Responsibility. Sounds fancy. Sounds all Dr. Spock, like this neighborhood is chock full of folks who tend to their children and make sure they behave. What it really means is that the school bus won’t come and get ’em. So we walk. And we love it.

We time our departure not so that we beat the bell. More so that we beat the crazies. Five minutes means the difference between a leisurely walk to school with my beloved child and dying in the road like an animal. Today, I say bring it.

Our neighborhood has no sidewalks, but it’s not usually an issue. There is very little traffic around our house, as we are about a half-mile above the school, and we’re in an area that few people can find and even fewer need to. In the evening, I can walk for a mile without being passed by a single car.  But on mornings when we leave a few minutes late, we find ourselves in  a live-action version of Frogger, one life left, no bonus.

As we walk down our hill, the game begins. There’s an intersection that is quiet for 23 hours of the day. But for one hour, all heck breaks loose. The road that we are on has the right of way, but during this magic hour, the stop signs on the two side roads are magically rendered invisible. I have walked this route 180 times in the last year, and I have yet to see a vehicle actually stop. Some pay lip-service to the law and roll slowly through, but most never actually hit their brakes. Car coming? Hit the accelerator! Pedestrian in the road? Eh, just drive around them. And they do. I have seen cars run the stop sign as my son and I were in the intersection and actually weave around and cut in front of us so that we have to stop so we don’t walk right into their moving vehicle.

Once we get past the Intersection of Death, the road dips significantly and narrows, and there’s a drop-off on either side. Two vehicles can pass each other, if they are both driving a reasonable speed and are willing to yield the right of way. There’s the rub. At 7:25 in the morning, this stretch of road is a speed-demon’s yield-free zone. More than once, we’ve had to make a dive for the bushes because the same soccer mom who nearly runs us down every day hits her accelerator in panicked tardiness and barrels down the center of the road. We know it’s her. We’ve memorized not only the make and model of her mini-van, but her license plate, as well.

If we can make it past Death Valley and up the hill, there are yards and driveways where we can claim brief sanctuary as all the general contractors in their enormous trucks zoom by to dump their kids, and we’re in good shape. Until we get to the school.

On a regular day, all is quiet on the road in front of the school. There may be a car or two unloading their offspring, but we can stroll through the crosswalk unharmed. Fast-forward five minutes, and we’re not so lucky. We can’t even see the sidewalk on the other side for the line of cars. Guaranteed, someone will be parked in the crosswalk. This individual will almost always have such darkly tinted windows that the driver cannot be seen, or they will be balancing a cup of Starbucks daily brew, a cigarette, or a cellphone as they reach back to unstrap their kid in anticipation of shoving them out the door. I guarantee they don’t notice me.

I now have a strict policy to not step into the crosswalk until I can see the whites of their eyes. Too many times, I have claimed right of way and nearly been squashed as Distracted Parent drives on while watching their kid over their right shoulder. Even making eye contact is no guarantee that they have actually seen me. Just last week, I crossed the street in front of a grandma parked in the crosswalk. She had made a little wave, which I assumed was an acknowledgement. You know what happens when you assume? You make an ass of you, and a grease spot on the road of me. She had apparently been waving in response to some conversation on the cell-phone she had dropped in the floor. She reached down to get it and started forward at the same time, just as I was walking in front of her. Judging by the look on her face as she hit the brake, that split second took about 200 years off her life. And she blames me.

Once I drop off my son, there is little traffic. Most parents drive up from the other direction, so I don’t even see them. I find the return walk a little sedate and rather boring, and I long for a bit of action. But never you fear. It’s just a few short hours until afternoon pick up.