Thursday, July 24, 2014

Yet Another Post About Lollipop

A fellow wrote a nice article in the Washington Post about his wife. The upshot was that he used to think that his wife was being lazy because the house wasn't clean. Now, he's realised that the house isn't clean because she has two small kids. Okay, so apparently the writer lives in 1985 and has just had his eyes open to the notion that small children are messy and labour-intensive, but whatever. Nice of him to try.

Remember when newspapers had news?

Anyhow, I should not have read the comments. Never, ever read the comments. I tell my mother this. I tell my friends this. But I still do it.

The comments informed me that if only I were more organised/better/harder working,  my house would look like a centrefold in Better Homes and Gardens and my children would also be deeply fulfilled.

So, let's implement that advice.

Advice: Enlist the children in picking up after themselves.

Implementation: I try to tidy up before Husband gets home so he doesn't, idk. Faint. I mistimed and left a half hour of chaos between tidying and Husband Arrival. I asked the children to please watch preschool television for an hour and please, please, do not destroy the house. So my youngest chose to strew toothpicks all over hell's half acre.

No worries! I assigned my second-born to pick up the toothpicks. And since Genome is an easy-going  love, he hopped to. When I returned ten minutes later, the toothpicks were moved  around, but not a one was back in its  container.

Genome, what happened? "I put the toothpicks  back. But Lolly wants the the toothpicks out, and she is much faster than I am.

Conclusion: Reality remains the same whether the person tidying is six or sixty. Destruction is faster than construction. One-year-olds cannot go a half hour without strewing toothpicks all over. Hide the toothpicks.

Advice: Clean with the children around! Don't leave them out. For example, one could mop up with the toddler on a chair in the being-mopped room.

Implementation: I left Lolly on a stool while I washed down the walls in the bathroom. I do not normally wash walls. Don't get the wrong idea. I'm having some pregnancy crazy here.

She took the opportunity to grab the prefold I was trying to wash with, shove it down the toilet, and flush. Then while I was extracting it, she tracked the toilet water about the house. Then when everything was cleaned up, she decided she needed to relax with a bottle.

I need a bottle too.

Too bad I'm pregnant.

Conclusion: Washing walls? What kind of stupid idea was that anyway? Just be happy prefolds can't fit down toilets.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


When I was a child people used to say that the problem with being a SAHM was that the mother never got any recognition. As opposed to the accolade-rich environment of the modern office, no one ever told SAHMs what a great job they were doing sweeping up those Cheerios. In retrospect, I think these people may have had a decidedly pre-Dilbert-era view of the office environment, and lots of bosses are at least as unappreciative as three-year-olds. They can't be put into time out either. But this view is wrong for another reason.

My difficulty is not that no one notices the good things I do and comments. The problem is that my best achievements as a mother make absolutely no sense to anyone who isn't me.

Case in point. I mentioned last week that I was knitting a sweater at my daughter's request. It was very pink. It was in very thin yarn. It was in an awful pattern (that she picked). It was a month-long slog of a sweater, of endless pink stockingette. If you don't knit, read that as "extremely boring." But it was fine, because this was the special sweater that my daughter picked out, that she would treasure as an example of how, sure, she may be nearly-the-oldest-of-five, but that doesn't mean her mother doesn't have time to do pointlessly labour-intensive projects just for her.

So I got it off of the needles, she tried it on, and . . . she hated it. It turns out it itches. Yes, it's a wool sweater. Yes, she has worn wool sweaters before. But _this_ wool sweater is itchy.

Did I mention she chose the yarn?

There is no way to redeem the sweater at this point. I can pack it away and hope it goes over better with my now-one-year-old. I couldn't sell the boys on it; We're just not that progressive. If my one-year-old does agree to wear it, it will go in her mental Rolodex as "yet another time my mom gave me Munchkin's hand-me-downs."

So what's my mothering achievement? Not only did I not pitch the toddler-worthy fit that this situation clearly called for, but my eight-year-old does not even know I was upset. Since my eight-year-old has been known to cry if I frown at her, for her to go blissfully along, unbothered by the escapade, is a sign that I have some really epic self control.

It is possible that I was actually secretly perhaps a tiny bit bothered.

So that's the problem with accolades for SAHMs. They're always about the praise-worthy stuff -- knitting a sweater or making the umpteenth batch of cupcakes. No one understands the important stuff I do.

Also, in retrospect, it's probably best that if you can knit, you don't let the children find out about that. I've lost hours of time I'll never get back, and those Judge Judy episodes aren't going to watch themselves.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Tiny Pink Shoes

Someone needs to explain to me what it is about little girls and shoes.

When I was a little girl, back in the dark days of the eighties and nineties, gender neutrality was the thing. The impression I had was that successful mothering involved raising a child who eschewed the doll aisle and demanded an Erector set.

I think it's safe to say that the pendulum has swung on that one. Apparently I could, if I wanted to, purchase every last item for my daughters' entire childhoods in some shade of pink. Pink stacking rings? Check. Find me the bright light in corporate America who decided stacking rings needed to be recast in a pink version. Please. Because I want his job.

Both my daughters like to work those stereotypes. My oldest, for example, requested that I knit her a sweater. It is the pinkest pink that ever pinked. This sweater is visible from space, it is that pink -- gradients of pink. Younger daughter thinks that all activities should be tackled while wearing a tutu. She's got two: her primary light pink tutu, and her emergency back-up neon pink tutu. Because you don't want to be without a tutu when there's a mud puddle to sit in, right? Right.

But I do not get this shoe thing. Recently I was attempting to drive down a large, very busy, very fast street. I was chugging along marginally over the speed limit in the slow lane while cabs ran up behind my bumper to indicate that they were trying to pass in this slow lane, and who was I to insist on going so _slowly_ in it? So it was a mildly stressful situation, even before my one-year-old started making a sound that I'd describe as a combination between a car alarm, an air raid siren, and the sound a nursing mother makes the first time the little nursling takes a bite (don't tell me it never happens. I've nursed four.)

I did not spend a lot of time wondering why she was making that sound, because I was reasonably sure she wasn't being sucked out the window and I needed every last pregnant brain cell to keep us out of a fender-bender with an angry cabbie. So we got to just listen to this ruckus for a good fifteen minutes until I was able to pull over and dislodge the shark/coyote/sewer rat that must surely have  hold of my infant. So which was it?

It was her right shoe. Her right shoe had become un-velcroed. And she was screaming to indicate to me that I must reattach it.

Had we been in an accident and jammed the entire road system, it would have been the fault of the velcro on a sparkly Hello Kitty shoe.

Dearest, dearest child. If you ever make that sound again, I hope for your sake that you are at least under attack by a large stinging insect. It is fine to wear tutus. Rock that tutu. Wear the pinkest sweater that ever minced down the runway. Play with pink stacking rings (you'll have to find someone else to buy them). But please. We need to put tiny pink shoes in the proper perspective.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Epic Zinc Cream

My fourth-born is a grubby child. I'm not sure why, and she certainly doesn't let that stand in the way of dressing entirely in tutus, but she's the sort of child who goes into the bath one colour and comes out another. Every night she goes in a brunette and comes out a blonde. Also, whenever I put the laundry away, the pile for her is the size of all the other laundry put together. I could, and may, write an entire book on Lolly-related stain removal.

When she wandered by with a suspicious white substance in her hair, I assumed that someone had doused her in flour again. It's happened before. Giant bags of flour are like play sand to a certain age of child.

It was not flour. It was diaper cream. Zinc-based, oil product, impenetrable diaper cream. Brand name Desitin; you can get your own.

Do you have any idea how vile that stuff is to get off of anything? Anything! I can't get it off my hands effectively! I struggle to get it off of the change table! The change table has many aspects that make it easier to clean than a one-year-old. For example, it doesn't move. And it doesn't have hair. And it doesn't move. Or scream.

So I stood in the middle of the room, and asked the children calmly -- you could tell I was calm because I preceded my speech with "I'm staying very calm" -- who decided that the baby needed a head full of diaper cream. No one confessed.

On to bigger problems. It was time to dump the entire contents of the pantry on my one-year-old's head. I used shampoo, dawn, baking powder, lemon juice, joke, and Sunlight soap in various combinations. Since you're wondering, the magic combination is a paste of baking soda and coke, leave it in for at least twenty minutes, then lather with dawn detergent and rinse. This will turn a terrible zinc situation into a toddler who looks like she could really use her hair washed.

Hold tight to the child while you're doing this. She won't be impressed.

My husband didn't feel my pain on this. He asked whether I had to use the extra-fine comb to get the cream out. Clearly this is not a man who has spend a vast amount of time thinking about toddler-stain-removal, because no, of course I can't comb oil-based cream out of baby hair.

Later in the day I solved the mystery of the baby-dousing. The baby doused herself in diaper cream. I know this because she, in a failed attempt at stealth, screwed the top back on the Desitin. And when she did that, she was covered in diaper cream. So she left a perfect Lolly-shaped handprint on it. More fool you, baby! This is why cat burglars rarely douse themselves in zinc cream before going out of an evening.

On the plus side, the entire incident nearly erased the traumatic memory of having melted plasticine in the oven yesterday.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Teeny Tiny Little Guy

Dave Barry once wrote a book called Dave Barry's Guide to Guys. You should go to amazon and buy it. It's very funny.

My children work harder than usual to reinforce every gender stereotype,My older daughter went on a clothing strike at seventeen months because not every garment she owned was pink, whereas my sons are hit-and-miss on remembering to wear pants. In my part of the world, all of the cool kids have gender-bending kids, so it's possible that my children are so aggressively conforming to societal norms as part of an elaborate plot to embarrass me.

I was trying to potty train Lollipop today. It was a mistake; she isn't even eighteen months yet, but she kept taking her diaper off and hanging out in the bathroom. After forty minutes sitting together with her on the teeny Baby Bjorn potty, she fussed until I let her leave. She went straight to the children's room, peed on Genome's teddy bear (IT'S NOT A TEDDY BEAR IT'S A PUPPET, he would say), slipped in her own urine, smacked herself on the hard floor, and burst into tears.

Older son had a particularly Guide to Guys moment not half an hour later. He wandered up, casually, and asked, "Did Lollipop poop on the floor?"

I happened to know she hadn't. Like any sane mother, I took the peed-on-a-stuffed-animal as a cue to put the kid in a diaper and retire with a diet coke. That's important, because otherwise this story wouldn't happen; I'd have thrown everyone into the car and sped to the clinic to see if it's possible to have an ebola vaccination. Or e coli. Whichever.

Why would you ask, Genome?

"Because I ate something off of the floor, and it was yucky. I thought maybe Lollipop pooed there."

Remember. I am having a conversation with a child who is mildly curious whether he _just ate feces._

No, Lollipop didn't go on the floor, but why would you eat things off of the floor?

"I like to eat things off of the floor! Sometimes it is good and sometimes it is disgusting."

But . . . you might eat something really disgusting. Like, you know, baby poo.

"Right! So it is a surprise! And that is more fun."

My son is a tiny frat boy who lives in my house. And he's like this dead sober.

He had eaten a cake pop. Apparently not a very good one.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Fights on Facebook, Swimming

I've mostly been posting quips about my kids on facebook lately. See, I was born to tweet, not blog. But I don't have any twitter followers to tweet at. So I use facebook instead. And then my husband suggests that perhaps I could tear myself away from an extremely pressing argument on the treatment of angora rabbits and do something productive, such as write stories about how and why I didn't get anything done today.

The problem with facebook is that unlike in the glory days of chat rooms, one actually knows these people. For a person like me, someone with a broken filter between my brain and my mouth (keyboard?), this leads to getting very carried away over, say, bicycle maintenance. With someone who teaches Sunday school to my kids. Identities have been altered to protect me.

So let's rejoin our cast of characters, shall we?

Munchkin has finally convinced me to take her to swimming lessons. I need to pause here for a moment. Who in all of creation came up with these ridiculous Red Cross swimming levels names? The preschool ones, I mean. Not the proper ones for five-year-olds. They're sensibly numbered 1, 2, 3, you follow. The preschool ones though. Oh, mercy. The first level is Starfish. The second is Duck. Next is Sea Turtle. For all of these, mum needs to get in the water. I'm not paying to teach my kid how to swim so that I can put on a bathing suit. I digress further. At this point children actually get to take lessons, not the type where I am instructed on how to hold my infant in water and not drown him. Sea Otter. Salamander. Sunfish. Crocodile. Whale.

Forgive me. There is absolutely no pattern discernible here. It doesn't move from invertebrates to vertebrates. We don't go from dim animals to intelligent ones. We don't move through families. We don't progress in size. And all of these animals seem to function most adeptly in the water. Exactly how am I to discern that a Sunfish is more adept a swimmer than a sea turtle, but less adept than a whale? They all look pretty damned good to me, especially in comparison than a four-year-old. Clearly this is all a plot to trick me into signing up my children for the wrong level and forfeiting $15 to the community centre when I have to change them due to my error, albeit a completely reasonable error given their ridiculous naming.

So I held off until I could put both older children into Swim Kids 1. This not only fills up my evening and makes dinner rather late, but also rids me of two children long enough to attend the library with a three-year-old and a one-year-old. This is exactly as much fun as it sounds.

I would put the three-year-old into otter or salamander or whatever just to keep him busy, but refer to that aforementioned naming system. Not worth the trouble.

So my oldest has been begging for swim lessons for some two years, and I haven't been able to get it together, and now I have, and she bears no grudges. She travels with an over-the-shoulder bag that she considers sufficiently pink. In it, she packs the novel she was reading (see, I did teach her to read). She carries a Play Mobil princess set. And she carries her swimsuit. You know, just in case. Might need it.

Gnome has gone for a different tack. He travels with a bear puppet (NB: puppet, NOT a teddy bear). The puppet is creatively named Beary. Gnome has decided that Beary needs a swimsuit. That way Beary will be protected in the rain.

It takes a marvelously unobservant child to think that a swimsuit is appropriate Canadian rain gear, even for a puppet.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Odds and Ends

A few miscellaneous thoughts while I wait for my husband to strip the tinfoil from the kitchen and dining area.

After a sunny few days in during Passover, it is absolutely pouring rain. My city is very wet, most of the year. Since it isn't as cold here as it is in most of Canada, we get no sympathy. On the other hand, in other parts of Canada, it rarely drops rain for weeks on end.

Today it is so damp that I keep undressing the little ones to check diapers or underpants. Their butts seem suspiciously humid.

Genome did wet his pants today. He called me and I didn't come fast enough to undo his pant button. "This," he informed me, "is why I take my pants off at the door."

I attempted to get right back into academics after Passover. I sat the boys down for a dear little reading lesson. It all went well until they got to the part where they were supposed to colour things in. They found a facepaint stick with the crayons. There was nothing for it but class had to be adjourned so they could apply war paint to each other.

Genome tired of the game once he had done his and Firefly's faces and hands, but Firefly was not satisfied. He stripped all of his clothes off and covered himself in black designs from head to toe, including (with admirable flexibility) the smll of his back. then he danced around the house.

Appropriately, I had been reading Napoleon Chagnon's new book on the Yanomami.

Today was a disaster. Firefly hid in the closet when I tried to get him ready to go to Munchkin's ballet. He fell asleep in the car and wet his pants. When I pulled him out he screamed and jerked as hard as he could. I strapped him into the Death Stroller. He nearly overturned it into a puddle.

I would not have been sorry.

As we pulled in to the community centre, Genome announced that he had no boots or shoes to wear. I told him that this was not possible, because he must have worn shoes out to the car. He replied that he had worn a single boot, and hopped.

It was true. He had.

I found a single rubber boot to go with the boot he was wearing.

I'm really, really sleepy.