Wednesday, January 26, 2011

More things I've learned since Monday

Two days ago, I wrote the top 15 things that I had learned as a parent of a 5 year old.  I also said that I would probably learn new things the next day.  I did.  Here are 6 more things I've learned since Monday evening.  How's your week going? 

6.  Throwing or giving away unused or outgrown toys is always done in secret, after bedtime, quickly and discreetly.  Toys are never ever left in the garage awaiting disposal day.

5.  Helium-filled balloons are very good bribe material.

4.  Dining room tables look better covered with Nemo stickers.

3.  Murphy's Law of Nocturnal Impalement:  the more angles, ridges, points and/or breakable parts an item has, the higher the likelihood of finding it with your feet in the dark.  For example, stuffed animals and blankets are never stepped on in the dark.  Legos, transformers and matchbox cars are always stepped on in the dark. 

2.  Shots hurt.  I know for sure this one is true because I was informed of this fact 912 times yesterday.

1.  Murphy's Law of Pediatric Appointment Uncomfortable Silence Event (or PAUSE):  the closer a child is to their annual check-up, the higher the likelihood that he or she will incur visible bruises and/or lacerations from face-planting during play time.  Inevitably, when the doctor asks the child, "How did you get that bruise on your forehead?" the child will PAUSE for an uncomfortable 5 seconds, and then answer "I don't want to talk about it" and then the doctor will look at you, Dad,  for another uncomfortable 5 seconds of PAUSE, which you'll attempt to fill by explaining that he dove into his bed, all by himself, missing the pillow by a good two feet, and headbutted his shelf, and then you'll chuckle nervously and ramble on about how you tried to catch him but he lunged too fast, hoping the doctor will chuckle too and shake her head in that understanding "kids are so funny that way" way and move on to the reflex test.  

My goodness, it's only Wednesday. 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Top 15 things I didn't know before I was a parent

Every day,  it seems I discover a new rule of life that I would've never learned were I not a parent.  Here are the top 15 things I've learned so far.  I'm sure they'll change tomorrow.

15.  When one food touches another food on a dinner plate, both are automatically inedible.

14.  When a food sample touches the floor, however, it is still edible.  The amount of elapsed time on the floor before a food becomes inedible is directly proportional to the amount of sugar in said sample.  The more sugar, the more time allowed. 

13.  It's never too early for candy.

12.  Everything looks better with crayon. 

11.  Tantrums that involve Mariah Carey-esque shrieking are an effective and time-saving method of getting one's way in a pinch.  Useful basically whenever anyone dares utter the word "no." 

10.  Going down to the basement with only your feet touching the stairs is boring. 

9.  Other people's shirts are a completely normal and very convenient place to wipe off one's hands or nose.

8.  Everything within reach is inherently crushable.   

7.  Most common household items are transformable into guns.  Or swords.  Or rockets.  Or exploders.

6.  TV is more fun to watch upside down.

5.  Strategically applied Bandaids make everything feel better including tummy aches, headaches, sore muscles and internal bruising.

4. Vomit can and will defy gravity.  Newly purchased or hard-to-clean items are magnetically attracted to flying vomit.

3. The best place to stand when someone else is on the phone is between that person's legs.  Sitting on his or her feet is an acceptable substitute.

2. If one can climb onto it, one can jump off of it, without fear of injury or consequence.

And the #1 thing I've learned since becoming a parent?

1.  My parents were right.  Every time.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Dad, let's play Smackface.

Um, what? 


What's Smackface?

These were the last meaningful words between the Boy and I last night.  My plea for clarification warranted no verbal answer, apparently.  Looking back, I suppose I walked right into it.  As The Parent,  it was really my fault that his lip was bleeding after he abruptly headbutted my chest. 

I know what you were thinking.  That Smackface would perhaps be a board game, right?


Although, you probably thought that maybe he had reached up and smacked my face.  I bet you would've never guessed that Smackface means he was planning on Smacking his own Face into my unsuspecting chest as he stood on his bed.  Sometimes I just don't understand how his little genius works.  I said nothing to him after he reeled backwards, but my eyes, I'm sure, said What the H Were You Thinking??  After we finished icing his lip in silence, he went to bed, likely thinking the same thing.

Other than his baffling act of self-punishment, it has been a rather uneventful January week.  I blame the weather.  I heard somewhere - probably the 4 minutes of local news I caught between cartoon viewings - that, according to Science, yesterday the 17th was the saddest day of the entire 2011 calendar year.  There are apparently highly educated scientists that got paid to figure this out - a combination of coldness and heighth of the sun in the sky and length of day and distance from Christmas, all culminating in a perfect storm called "the third Monday of January really sucks."  Not even kidding.  There actually exists research that says the 16th is kind of sad, but nothing compared to the forlorn wasteland known as the 17th.  And today, the 18th?  Well, according to Science, we're all starting to feel approximately 24 hours better about life.  I suppose. That's good.  Hooray.

Thank you, Science. 

It needs to be said that the study proclaims June 17th the happiest day of the year.  Seeing as that is close to Father's Day and also my wedding anniversary, I'm pretty sure I'm obligated to agree.

But alas - in staying on the topic of Smackface - back to January.  Even though I'm now several hours happier than I was scientifically allowed to be yesterday, it's still too cold outside to do anything productive like "Get the Mail" or "Inhale" or "Live", so we're mostly hibernating. 

Although, I did I read an article last week (summarized as the "top ten ideas for indoor fun in Minnesota when you're in denial about your true desire to live somewhere other than the barren tundra,") and it listed all sorts of interesting things to do in order to help convince yourself to not just pack some sandwiches and point the van south.  

The Boy and I bundled up and ventured out last Thursday to one of these ideas - the Minnesota Children's Museum in St Paul.  We spent the day with several other runny-nosed toddlers and pre-schoolers pretending to be ants and construction workers and thunderclouds and bus drivers and boat operators.  We even got to pet a live rat.  (Don't know why I felt compelled to clarify that it was a live rat - as if there usually exists an option to pet a dead one except on special days).  All in all, it was a very fun day and I'm super glad we went. The Boy is the perfect age for this particular museum; any younger and he wouldn't "get" the activities, any older and he would find them to be pretty lame.  But at age 5, he squealed with delight at every display of oversized adventure we discovered. 

Here he is, crawling through the giant ant farm.  Notice the extra creepy ant head staring at him. 


And, here again, hard at work organizing the wall-mounted bead track.  This was my favorite part, because it lasted a half hour and had a couch next to it. 

And finally, a picture of his hand and others actually touching a rat.  This led to a conversation about why this particular 'mouse' got to be fed and petted and loved while the mice at home were ruthlessly hunted, killed and tossed into the garbage on a regular basis.  Okay, so he didn't use those words exactly.  But he was definitely perplexed. 

And thus goes winter for the Boy and his family.  If anyone has other ideas for fun (and dirt cheap) things to do this time of year that don't involve parkas (or bleeding), I'm all ears. 

Parenting tip:  Don't play games called Smackface.  Or Punchgut or Kickshin or Burnhouse or Throwknife or Windowsmash or any other combination of violence and sharpness for that matter.  5 year old boys will want to try it.  Just don't do it.  You'll end up playing Doctor next.  I'm positive there's a research study that explains why if you don't believe me. 

Monday, January 10, 2011

The Great Migration...

Or, How I Emotionally Scarred My Child Right Before Kissing Him Goodnight
Or, Sometimes It's Pretty Much Okay to Lie to Your Kid When Necessary to Induce Sleep

One of the Boy's main objectives once he turned 5 last month was to take over the basement.  His vision for the Land of O was all-inclusive.  He insisted on getting started, so this weekend, we succumbed to the challenge and began to move some serious furniture. 

The guest room formerly known as Katie's room?  That's now his bedroom.  The computer office is now his Lego construction desk.  The custom library with built in shelves is the new toyroom.  Everything that was for "growing-ups" is in the process of being moved upstairs so that he can reign supreme on his new kingdom.  All the shelves that formerly housed scholarly readings and Grisham novels and CD cases now hold marble tracks and train tracks and car packs and block sacks and his semi Mack and other knick knacks.  (Can you tell we've been reading a lot of Fox in Socks lately? My mouth hurts just thinking about it)

Saturday night was his first night sleeping downstairs.  He did great!  Never a peep out of him, no late night wanderings upstairs, no calls in the dark.  He awoke Sunday refreshed and excited about his day.  Night #2 was last night, and it was a completely different story.  He arrived in our upstairs bedroom around 3:30am.  He couldn't sleep anymore downstairs, he had a nightmare he said, and wanted to climb into our bed.  We obliged this time - because I'm pretty sure it was my fault. 

He won't tell us what his nightmare was - just that he had had one.  But I already know what it was. 

With the new room fully furnished and right next door to the furnace, I decided naively that bedtime was an excellent time to review his fire escape route out his egress window (first, you move this stick, then you unlock this latch, then you slide the window open, then you climb out the window, then you climb up out of the window well into that snowbank there...then....).  Even as I was explaining his new strategy, using my breeziest voice possible, I could see the distance between his room and his parents' room sinking in as the number of steps in the process toward unburned freedom added up.  Let's practice, my stupidity suggested.  He moved the stick.  He undid the latch.  He couldn't slide the window - too heavy.  Mild panic.  (for both of us).  Try again, push from over here I encouraged.  He was able to open the window, but was now doubting his self-sufficiency, and I imagine he was questioning the wisdom of his request for the basement empire. 

He did fall asleep around 9 last night, but he was clutching his flashlight (which was turned on) and with his slipper shoes right next to his bed (he was worried his feet would get cold if he had to walk to the neighbor's house in his bare feet).  Before I could leave the room, he needed several reassurances that the house was not, in fact, going to spontaneously combust.

Where will you meet me once I'm outside?

Right outside your window.  Or, at Matthew's house - look - see?  His house is right there outside your window.

Okay.  Will I hear the siren?


Will it wake me up?


Will you rescue me?


What if you can't?

That's why we're talking about the window.

Oh.  Can't I just go up the stairs?

Probably can.  But we're talking about the window too. As an option.

But I'd rather go up the stairs.

Me too.  Actually, I'd rather not have a fire at all.  We probably won't ever have one.

Ever?  Dad, have you ever seen a real fire?

This was the questions I was dreading.  Thankfully, my brain screamed lie lie lie lie before I could say the truth, which is Actually, I've seen two, son - one where Great Grandma B's house burned to the ground and everyone narrowly escaped by jumping out the second story window and one when I was about your age when the furnace/chimney down in the basement started on fire while we were all sleeping.  Instead, I said as sincerely as I could muster: 


After a long pause with him staring at my eyes, (and my brain screaming Hold your ground!  Hold your ground!), he accepted this answer, and laid his head down on his pillow, embracing his flashlight. 

I can't help but wonder if last night will come up with his therapist as an adult.

Parenting tip:
Sunny and warm summer mornings are an excellent time to talk about escaping house fires with 5 year olds.  Basically, anytime other than Right Before We Leave You Down Here Alone in the Dark and Quiet Basement is a good time.  Live and learn.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back to Normal

It's Monday morning, and it's 2011, and the pre-school has reopened its doors.  Life is back to normal now that the Boy, grog in his eyes, returns to his teachers' care three days a week and my days are freed up to tackle the laundry and sweep the floors and vacuum the rug and run the errands without a suckerfish attached to my leg. 

I mean that nicely. 

Since switching careers from a 9-5 desk job to a 24-hr a day "home business," I've enjoyed being able to spend hours on end watching Go, Diego, Go! and building Train City (which, incidentally, only seems to get built on top of exploding minefields and never makes it to sundown.  I imagine the Lego sized city-planner-men writhing with spastic grief as their newly minted empire comes crashing down around them - destroyed by the same hands that had helped craft it mere hours earlier.  If they had knees, I'm sure they'd be on them, wallowing.)

These lengthy school vacations make me miss routine.  We had a wonderful Christmas season, but my 34.5 year old back cannot tolerate air mattresses and guest beds like it used to.  This year, our trio did the traveling - first to Duluth for an all inclusive, 3-day 2-night stay at Uncle Pete's B&B, where I added 38 pounds to my waistline and shriveled a good percentage of my liver with Guinness and/or Baileys, and then on to Northfield the next day, where we were entertained (and terrorized) by a daycare-sized and -aged cohort of cousins.  The Boy has eight cousins on this, his mother's side, and at age 5, he is the second oldest of the 9.  The aspirin craving adults walk around Grandma's house with eyes cast down, lest they step on a toddler. 

But now the holidays are over, the Christmas tree cruelly tossed to the curb awaiting its Walter's Recycling woodchipper destiny, the Boy in school and the routine restored. 

His most time consuming routine is definitely Bedtime.  As is true with most 5 year old boys, Bedtime is to be avoided at all costs, as it certainly means the end of the world is nigh and if one falls asleep, surely the sun will not rise again in the East. 

And so, motivated to save mankind from imminent destruction in his mind, he has mastered the Stall.  His strategy for rescuing the world?  Hugs.  And more water, please.  And I need to go to the bathroom.  And OneMoreSnack?  And WheresMyBear and LetsTalkAboutOurDay and ReadMeaStory?  Eventually, he succumbs to his eyelids' demands and drifts to sleep, snuggled in with a cornucopia of animals and Transformers and blankets. 

It's good to be back to normal - I'm off to clean the carnage that once was Train City.