Thursday, July 31, 2014

High Chairs

I didn't expect to spend so much of my time worrying about things inappropriately flushed down toilets.

I just thought I'd throw that out to the universe.

King County produced this video, which is really lame. I'm considering tying my one-year-old into her high chair and making her watch it, Clockwork Orange style, until she learns the error of her ways. Also, if you live in King County, I strongly caution you against looking up how much the video cost to make. It will make you cry over your tax forms.

Two days ago I took apart my high chair to try to get to what I thought was a stain, and what was actually a thriving biological experiment. Taking this high chair apart involved twelve screws, so it's not just that I was negligent in my high chair care.

I also didn't expect my life to involve so many screwdrivers. If it did I would rather they be more of the vodka kind of screwdriver and less of the metal things. Look, I can bake bread. I can make a reasonably good cake. I should not have to know what a hammer does. Where's 1950 when you need it?

Once it came apart I was filled with a deep set of regret for ever having thought that cleaning the high chair was a good idea. The right thing to do would have been to set it on fire. I was committed though. That's a lot of screws. So I dropped the seat and straps in a vat of bleach water and hoped for the best.

The seat and straps came pretty clean, all things considered. Unfortunately cleaning it that thoroughly again will require the screwdriver, which will never happen. So we're going to have to think of some other solution, which may involve just making one-year-old eat outside and hosing her down before she's allowed near the house.

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.