"Any parent who judges another parent because her child is having a meltdown is just orchestrating her own bad-karma demise. I wish public tantrums on her tenfold. And diarrhea."
Buying your children only hand-crafted naked wood and knit toys is a lovely idea. But, if you're like me, your house is full of brightly colored, "Made in China," cheap plastic toys -- with a fair amount of Happy Meal uber-crap in the mix. A horrific MOTY fail, right? But what if it doesn't have to be?
Recently, the drain cover for our sink disappeared. I'm blaming this kid who has an inexplicable passion for throwing things in the trash:
I scoured Amazon for a replacement kitchen sink drain cover. They ranged from $3.99 to $19.90 and pretty much all looked like this:
Which looks an awful lot like the cheap plastic colander that came with the cheap plastic kitchen set I bought at Burlington a few years ago. I'm talking genuine piece of shit toy where the plastic items are actually attached in punch-out form to a plastic sheet. Why keep picking this trash up off the floor when it could be put to good use in my kitchen sink? Fits like a glove:
Plus, using your kids' toys to MacGyver your house teaches your kids frugality and ingenuity. It also sends a very useful "Break my stuff and I'll take yours" message.
OK. Before you put on your riding knickers and climb on your high horse, hear me out. I love my kids so, so much. They are probably the best thing I've ever made (besides the three art pieces I did while I was living in Budapest) and I'm so proud of myself for getting them this far. I mean, I have managed to keep two human beings alive for 5+ years. That, in and of itself, is something to celebrate. But sometimes, just sometimes, I worry that I have inadvertently raised a little sociopath.
Where did I go wrong? Was it due to all those times I forced him to take a nap? Or maybe it was all those times I didn't force him to take a nap. Was it because I let him watch DareDevil on Netflix (only one episode) before realizing that it's pretty brutal and gritty and intense? Did all of those corn-syrup-infused, chemical-color-laden sweets ruin him? Will I be responsible for raising the world's next sociopathic monster?
Or is this developmentally appropriate? Do all little kids temporarily become assholes when they turn five or suddenly get a younger sibling who starts competing for resources? Maybe I'm just worrying as much as any other parent worries about their children and their emotional and psychological well-being. Either way, I'm going to chalk it up to fate. I'm sure he'll turn out to be an emotionally and psychologically healthy individual. I hope.
As we recover from the holidays and the new toys lose a bit of their luster, I'm reminded of how much I hate toys that involve lots of tiny pieces and do not come in self-contained packages. Their beautifully fanned presentation sandwiched between clear plastic and thin cardboard hypnotizes kids and assures purchasers they are getting a lot of stuff. Meanwhile I'm left shoving magnet sets and science kits into rinsed-out Cool Whip containers because I'll never get around to buying plastic storage tubs from the dollar store.
This holiday I screwed myself in an unexpected way when Santa ordered a set of alphabet ducks off of Amazon for our youngest child. Midge adores baths, often takes two or three in a single day (and her skin is fine and not dry so shut up), so this fun, inexpensive gift seemed like a no-brainer. Each duck was costumed to represent something that starts with the letter emblazoned across its rubbery chest. Cool, I thought, a learning tool. Aren't I a good mom?
What I did not think through was:
1. Alphabet ducks come in a disposable mesh bag.
2. The alphabet contains 26 letters.
3. Rubber ducks, if left unsqueezed post bath, fill up with gruesome chunks of moldy funk, aka "duck poo," that my 4-year-old son likes to spray at our sweet little Midge much to her shock and horror.
And so, mamas, that is how I've ended up spending infuriating amounts of time bent over a draining bathtub, knees dampening in the inevitable splashfest, naked toddler climbing on my back, while I meticulously squeeze out 26 ducks. Two or three times a day.
"26 ducks!" I've exclaimed on more than one occasion. Who needs 26 ducks? Whatever was I thinking?
Until this past weekend, when as I was hunched over squeezing ducks and silently sinking into the bed I'd laid for myself, my husband laughed and said, "You secretly love doing that, don't you?"
And suddenly, I did.
Something in me clicked and I was able to do that tiny-huge thing that so many of us overwhelmed, run-ragged mamas try to do every day. I shifted my perspective. Suddenly, I wasn't doing an inane, repetitive task. I was helping my child in a practical, tangible way. She had a problem, even if it was just an unfounded fear of rubber duck poo, and I was fixing it. What I wouldn't give, I thought to myself, in 10 or 20 years' time, to be able to so simply and completely fix the problems she comes to me with. When she is a teenager, a woman, a mother in her own right, what I wouldn't give to do some small thing to take away her fear. I'd do it 26 times a day -- gladly.
We've all heard the advice that when we're having a particularly bad day with our kids -- when we feel defeated, when the sound of their voices makes us rage and it's all we can do to make it to bedtime without psychologically scarring them -- we've all heard that we should pretend it's some lonely, unknown time in the future. To visualize the house empty, silent, clean. To imagine how it will feel to ache for their tiny bodies and to feel the hoarseness of our whisper as we ask the universe for just one more day, just one more...
It works sometimes. Sometimes it doesn't. But, if we can find and share these moments when we actually manage a genuine change in perspective, we can really get somewhere with this whole mindfulness thing. Because trust me, mamas, you got 99 problems but a duck ain't one.
I need this shirt! I'm going to wear it every time I decide it's the day that I'm going to be super responsible. Days when I clean the bathroom, or cook my kids a meal rather than give them a handful of snacks and call it complete, or hold out on giving them sugar to stop the tears, or only let them watch two shows MAX (actually!), or pretend play for more than ten minutes, or finish a house chore that's been on my list since we moved in a year and half ago. And I'll throw it on if walk out of Target with only what I went in for (After because I can't preemptively know if I'll ever be strong enough until I'm actually inside the walls of that money-sucking goodness). #adulting #goals #dontjudge
But I haven't ordered it yet because shit like this always happens:
Dear Every Pregnant Woman Considering the Babypod,
The fact that you are considering the Babypod should indicate that you know what the Babypod is. But, the fact that you are considering it also makes me wonder if perhaps you are confused on what the Babypod is. Just so we're all on the same page, you are aware that the Babypod is essentially an iPod, but instead of using earbuds, you use a vag bud, yes? You know, directly inside your vagina. Like so:
OK, now that we're all having the same conversation, I'm going to go ahead and side step any medical insight into why this product is inane (But, please, do read up on it if you're interested), and instead offer a list of suggestions for more productive ways to spend the $150 that Babypod costs. Rather than trying to speed up baby's vocalization and neurological development via vag bud, ready yourself -- and your baby -- for life post childbirth by:
If you're a first-time mama considering the Babypod, I'm going to go ahead and let you off the hook. Chalk it up to those wacky pregnancy hormones and your overwhelming anxiety about motherhood and the innate need to grow the healthiest fetus possible. So listen up and thank me later: the road to hell is paved with good intentions -- and vaginal speakers. But, mamas, if this is not your first baby and you are still genuinely considering pumping Mumford & Sons straight up your vulva, you know better. If you're spending $150 to put something inside your vagina, it better either have an M.D. after its name or the intention of stimulating a lot more than fetal neurological development.
The first Monday back to work after the holidays is tough on everyone, mamas. Don't be selfish. Make sure your kids are well equipped to face the longest Monday of the year, too. And don't be cheap -- none of this store-brand Market Fresh crap on a day like today.
We love our kids. They drive us crazy. We write about it instead of going insane.