An apology

I wish I could write the way Bad Mommy Moments can about bad days.  A day that includes every button pushed and every nerve gotten too.  A day which has painted carpets, chip crumbs, spilled milk, and hour old chili left in a bowl to dry and rot.  A day where you know part of it is you and not them.  A day when you dream about the days before babies and diapers, before husbands and compromise, before responsibility and housework.  A day making you forget to laugh at a dance, to be excited over pee, to clap at drum solos, to gush about how smart, how cute, how wonderful the little ones are.  A day when you can’t get online to even write about it. 

Here’s to tomorrow.

AGAINST TODDLER FIGHTING VIDEOS

Dear people who think it’s funny to watch toddlers fight,

 

If you’re a parent or guardian, you need serious help.  You need parenting classes and some serious time on a couch with a professional treating you.  You are selfish jerks that don’t deserve to have children.  You are hurting these kids because you are letting them hurt each other, and then you go off and post it on the internet.  What the hell is wrong with you?  It’s your job as a parent to protect your kids from harm, not push them into it.  It’s your job to teach them right from wrong.  It’s your job to give them the guidelines to go through life.  If you think your making your kid tough, you’re not; you’re making your child weaker because he/she is only going to solve problems with his/her fists, and we all know how that works out in real life.  And if your kid becomes some mean little bully, you better hope you don’t run into me because I’ll take you to task for what you did.  Don’t worry about my kids.  I’ll teach them to fight the proper way . . . when they are old enough to go to marital arts classes and teach them to take down a bully in a punch or two right away.  Because bullies are mean.

 

As for the rest of you who think it’s funny to watch these fights on the internet or are a person who eggs this all on, you’re pretty sick too.  It’s not funny.  It’s mean.  It’s wrong.  How would you like someone to come over and kick the shit out of you? (oh and that also goes for the parents too.)  These kids have feelings, and they are really crying in these videos.  Those are real tears.  You need serious help too to understand why you like to watch innocent children get hurt.  And pray that we never meet each other because I will make you regret the chuckles you had at some child’s pain.

 

As for us decent people who are pissed off about this, let us raise up a huge ruckus.  Let us rage against this like people do over dog fighting.  Sure, these kids aren’t doing this to the death, but they are getting hurt; they are being used; they are being abused.  Let us let every internet site that hosts this kind of footage know how we feel about this.  Let us join together and try to protect these kids.

 

-One really pissed off Mom

 

 

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Finally a Halloween decision

To recap (Witch or Faery and Halloween Indecision), Evan has wanted to be a witch, a ghost, a witch, a purple ghost, a bat, a witch, a princess, a fairy, a witch, and a spider.  Seeing that the common theme always runs back to a witch, I thought well why the hell not.  My husband is uneasy about the costume, worrying about homosexual tendencies or counseling sessions involving accusations of parents forcing a poor defenseless child to cross-dress.  He has so little faith in me.

 

As Evan has been talking off and on about being a boy witch for almost two months, I have been planning a costume in my head.  I’m going to make him a simple gown or robe as my husband states men wear robes, not gowns.  Right.  I plan on sewing stars all over the “robe.”  If I’m truly ambitious, I might just make a cape for Evan too.  Since Evan has realized witches have brooms, he insisted on having one too with a hat, just as he’s insisting Sean be a Halloween pumpkin.

 

As for Sean, I was planning on making him a vampire because he’s back to giving me love bites.  Lucky me.  But Evan has been adamant for two months that Sean be a Halloween pumpkin aka a jack-o-lantern, even going so far as to suggest Daddy would want to be a pumpkin too.  And I laughed.  Because I found some great no-sew costumes online, one being a tomato, I thought why not let Evan decide for Sean.  It’s not like Sean cares any way.  Funny, Evan had somewhat a deciding voice in his costume as being a cowboy at that age, granted his grandma did force him into the cowboy boots the first time, which he wanted to wear every day after.  Sean will make a great little pumpkin.

 

Yesterday I loaded up the boys and headed to Wal-mart, the one stop shop for house supplies, clothes, and crafts and when I need to save cash.  After heading straight to the toddler clothing department, I looked everywhere for an orange sweatshirt for Sean’s pumpkin costume.  And wouldn’t you know, boys don’t like to wear orange sweatshirts, and they didn’t carry any.  Who could blame them?  Luckily older boys apparently will wear orange long sleeved shirts, so I got one, hoping it will work just as well as a sweatshirt.  Then after winding our way through the store, grabbing necessary items and asking Evan to hurry up and not to touch that again, we found ourselves in the craft department, where I proceeded to find the type of material I wanted in the last aisle I looked.  Figures.

 

 So, Evan, which one do you want, blue, purple, or black?  Evan, pay attention.  No, Evan, we’re not getting that material.  Do you want purple, blue, or black?  Evan.  Evan.  Sean, stay in your seat; here have a pen to play with.  Evan, which one?  No, not that one.  Get up and come over here, Evan.  I swear child I am going to pick for you.   Evan.  Blue?  No.  Ok.  Purple? Black!  Ok, black.  And some silver.  Come on; don’t touch.  Evan, we don’t need marbles.  Put them back.  Put them back now.  Come here.  Sean, get down.  Evan, stop touching the material.  Don’t touch that either.  Don’t uh-oh; you threw the pen on purpose; you meant to.  Please, god.

 

So after we got the material cut, with Evan telling me he know wants to be a spider as he trails me through the crafts as I pick up some more materials for the costumes.  I have now gone to the zen place, where I actually don’t hear him any more, just white noise.  We sweep into the Halloween section as I keep a careful eye on Evan, who was frightened of Halloween stuff last year due to an incident with a life size monster.  (Chalk one up for Daddy)  Far from frightened, Evan pointed out what costumes he liked and what he wanted.  Then I picked up the hat, a witch’s hat with a spider dangling from the top and a ribbon of black tulle with sparkles.  “I WANT THAT!” Evan cried, rushing to put it on his head.  He danced around the aisle as I figured I could remove the ribbon and had one of those glow necklaces for trick-or-treating.  Then I grabbed a broom.  That cinched the deal.  Hat on, broom dragging behind him, Evan followed me through the rest of the store as I got the last few items on the list; while, Sean ehh-ed and ahh-ed for the broom.

 

So now I have to make the costumes, which I’m a little timid to do because I haven’t sewn anything harder than a blanket in years.  I’m sure once I start it’ll be a piece of cake, and I’ll laugh at my worries.  But until then . . . .  I just better start now so I stop second guessing myself, and if I actually do mess up, I will still have time to buy more material and ask my mom for help.

 

 

 

Motherhood vs Technology

“Hell-ooooo.  Howyau?” Sean asked the broken cell phone that he holds to high for the listener to catch all but a whisper, if there was a listener.  Sean has become fascinated with phones, especially cell phones.  He has learned he can talk to the phone and someone (like his Grandma, Papi, or Uncle Matt) will answer him, keeping him babbling for ten minutes as the person on the other end keeps asking him questions and saying “really.”   If I am talking to someone other than family, he becomes frustrated as he demands the phone until I hand him a toy phone.  Sometimes the toy phone doesn’t work as he has realized that it’s a toy, so I give him a broken, dead cell phone.

 

As parents of this new generation, we are surrounded by technology.  I grew up immersed in technology due to the fact I’m a “giga-byte,” the first generation not to know life without a computer.  Though my parents didn’t have to worry about giving me typing lessons the same time I learned to write, they seemed to have raised me in simpler time.  Now stores sell toddler digital cameras, toddler video games, toddler Mp3 players, and my personal favorite, toddler-size keyboards.  At least with the boys so young and out of school, I can keep them from learning about these teenager toys masquareding as children toys.  I wonder how you parents with elementary school kids do it.  We are all trying to navigate this new territory, wondering what toys are necessary to help our kids succeed in a technological world and which ones can wait until they’re older and can buy it with their own money.

 

My in-laws were teachers, and when Evan was just a babe in arms, I asked them about the new toddler computers.  They answered that they noticed the more technology kids received the smaller the attention span.  They urged me to wait as long as possible, so I plan on taking their advice.  Of course, my father-in-law was horrified over how many to toy cell phones we owned (four, but most of them say the alphabet, so these phones could act as a teaching aid) and that Sean was walking around the house with one.  “Gee, we do have a toy rotary phone, if that makes you feel better,” I countered.

 

That’s the other thing about technology.  Kids just want to be like their parents; hence, my boys are talking on toy cell phones and pacing around the house like their daddy when he’s on a business phone call.  (I kid you not; my husband cannot sit still when he’s on the phone, and neither can my sons.)  Evan vacuums with a toy lawn mower because he has never seen his father mow the grass, just his mother vacuum the floor.  In fact, my sons scramble to get on the computer where they pretend to type and move around the mouse.  They have their own broken keyboard that I painted for them.  One day my husband found Evan typing on the computer all by himself in the office.  When my husband asked Evan to come and play, Evan looked at his daddy and said, “I can’t.  I’m working.”  My husband was shocked, but I pointed out that is exactly what my husband does and says when he is working from home.  Evan was just mimicking.  (I think it was a little sad though.)

 

Another time my husband and I caught Evan at the computer, Evan said, “I’m writing an email!”

 

My husband was shocked again, turned to me, and said, “He’s a genius!  I wouldn’t have said that at his age!”

 

I answered, “Of course not, they didn’t have email when we were kids.  We would have said we’re writing a letter.”

 

So, yes, I know Evan and Sean will have an Mp3 player at a much earlier age than me. They’ll have a digital camera at the same age I got my first film camera.  They’ll play video games at an earlier age.  Hell, they had the Disney Channel at an earlier age than me.  I plain refuse to let my kids become addicted to video games and the internet.  I have stated that they will not have computers or TVs in their rooms until their in middle school, and I will be six feet under before I let them have a connection to the internet in their own room.  (They can just use the family computer where I can look over their shoulders.)  And at one point, I thought I wouldn’t have to buy them a cell phone. Ha.  Now I’ll have to figure out how to limit it.  I just have to make sure my husband and I do this technological parenting as smart as we can and kick them out of the house when they are reaching zombie stage, staring at a video game, trying to conquer level 63.

Solutions to Spiders

Last night Evan went to bed with his newly made spider keeping watch along with his gargoyle on top of his bookcase next to his bed.  My husband decided he would lie next to Evan until Evan fell asleep. 

 

So after I turned off the lights and took Sean to bed, my husband and Evan began a long discussion of whether there were spiders or not.  My husband turned the conversation to the spider Evan made and how it kept all other spiders away.  So Evan climber out of bed, petted the spider, and laid it down to go to sleep.  Then Evan climbed back into bed and asked his father to sing him the Tiki Room song, which my husband didn’t know.  After contemplating this new development, Evan asked for a song about a Tiki, a pineapple, a princess, and a unicorn.  (I plan to write down the song my husband came up with.)  Then Evan pointed to one of his red Chinese paper lanterns and said that it was Mars.  The conversation went on.

 

After an hour, Evan was finally asleep, and my husband was free from his obligation.  He decided to go to bed too.  Now I wonder what kind of consequence this solution has. . . .

Spiders, Spiders Everywhere

Two nights ago I had a series of firsts.  Evan told me what his nightmare was about.  Not only was he able to tell me; he didn’t cry, which was another first  He also forced me to search his bed for spiders, and yet this is another first.  I assumed it would be easy to prove there were no spiders because this wasn’t a monster in the closet or under the bed that could just disappear with the flick of a light switch, promising to be back as soon as it was dark and no parents were around.  No, these were spiders.  Frightening in their own way, but they would still be there, light or no.

When I was a kid, I had two similar nightmares, where I went to my mom and woke her up to ask her to search my bed.  The first night I dreamt that a huge snake was curled up next to me and that I watched it slither down the space between my bed and wall.  My mom turned on the light, moved the bed, and showed me there were no snakes at all.  The next night I dreamt that I was covered with ants.  Again my mom came to my room, turned on my light, and diligently looked for any sign of ants.  She’s a great mom.  The reason she humored me was she remembered listening to a radio personality who told a story of his son having the same nightmare of ants as I did, only the radio guy didn’t check assuming it was a dream.  It turned out the bed was crawling with ants.  Because I grew up in Arizona, it was quite possible that a snake could have got in somehow (ask my brother).  Since I was older than Evan, when I saw the evidence that there were no snakes or ants, I went back to sleep.

Not so for my little guy.  He’s three, and he swears there are spiders in his bed.  The first time he told me, I got up and smoothed his sheets, showing him spider-free sheets.  I explained that there were no spiders in his bed, it was a dream.  The next time I turned on the lights and showed him that underneath and on top of the sheet that there were no spiders.  Did I mention it was now 3:30 in the morning?  The third time, ten minutes after I left his room, I shook out the comforter, and the forth time we looked under the bed.  The fifth time I again showed him the empty sheets.  Each time I calmly explained that there were no spiders and that it was all a dream.  It was all in his head.  Finally the sixth time, now just after 4, I asked if he would rather sleep on the floor.  He preferred my bed.  The thought of telling him there was a spider in our bed occurred to me, but I just wasn’t ready to have a mental crack.  So I said no and tried to usher him back to bed.  He decided that he would prefer to sleep on the floor, so I laid his comforter down with his pillow.  He snuggled up, and I covered him with the remaining half of the comforter.  He came back ten minutes later, and I told him go back to bed before I feed you to the spiders. 

The next morning Evan conducted his own search of spiders, and he found there were none.  But he’s terrified they will be back.  And I wonder how I can convince him.

When I was a freshman in high school, I realized our house had an unusual amount of spiders.  Probably because our old house had very few, and this new house was closer to a desert area than the old house, landlocked by several miles of neighborhoods.  One night I was just about to fall asleep, I heard a rustling under my bed.  I’ll admit at this moment I clutched my teddy bear and thought how I KNEW there were monsters under my bed.  I absolutely KNEW it!  Damn, why did I ever believe grown ups?  Now I was going to die (yes, I clearly had an over-active imagination; still do).  I peaked out one eye to watch something scurry out from under the bed.  In the pale light and my sleepy eyes, this was worse than any boogie man.  This was a scorpion.  I launched myself out of the bed and dashed to my parents’ room, where I breathlessly told my mom what was in the middle of the floor.  Because my dad was out on a call and my mom is a brave woman, she grabbed a tennis shoe and walked back to my room, flicking on the overhead light.  To reveal . . . a wolf spider.  Nothing dangerous, just scary.  My mom killed it any ways, and I asked to sleep in my mom’s bed.  She rolled her eyes and told me to go back to bed because it was a school night.  Thanks.  So then I made a promise to myself to always keep my papers under my bed to warn me (granted I picked this up years before to keep the monster from getting me).  I also decided I needed something else. 

Harry, my new pet plastic spider.  He sat just inside my doorway, keeping vigil over my room, so that I could sleep.  I loved Harry.  Not only was I convinced he kept away spiders, he would scare people who would rush into my room and see a spider out of the corner of their eye.  I moved him around every once in a while just to keep my family on guard.  I had faith Harry would keep the spiders at bay, so now I wonder if that will work for Evan.

Today we are in the midst of making our own spiders.  I have several different activities that make spiders, and I am finding more.  I’ve recorded several “Miss Spider’s Sunny Patch Friends” because Evan last night would not go to sleep in his bed.  My husband found Evan, sitting on his pillow, staring at the foot of his bed.  Evan begged his dad to allow him to “camp out.”  My husband didn’t understand what this meant because he had slept through the nightmares the previous night.  I explained and gave my consent.  But can I allow my son to keep sleeping on the floor?  So any advice on nightmares out there?

Couch sliding

We have a new sport in my house.  Couch sliding.  It’s the newest sport the boys play, and they actually play it together.  A boy climbs up the back of the love seat with the aid of the kid size piano, and then the boy slides down the front of the love seat to land on the cushions.  I force them to take turns, or they would just land right on top of each other.  Then they would wrestle until Evan has Sean pinned and crying, like normal brother relationships.

Evan has been climbing up the back of the love seat for quite some time.  I have tried moving the toys around so that he wouldn’t be able to find a purchase to climb over.  Being a clever and determined toddler, he just was able to find more unsafe ways to climb over, and I thought I might as well let him do it safely rather than risk some sort of brain trauma.  It’s not causing harm, and it was only an issue when I made it an issue.  Basically he would do it once and then stop, forgetting about the trick for days or weeks.

Sean upped the anti.  He struggled to pull himself over the top, trying to do what his older brother could do.  When Sean finally did it, he gave a shout of glee and slid down the front of the love seat and rolled onto the floor.  At first I was worried that he was hurt because he didn’t even slow down on the seat.  But he got up, laughed, and did it again.  After a few times of watching Sean have fun, Evan joins in, trying to do it faster than Sean or just trying to land on him.  I’m now a referee.  During the whole game, they are laughing so hard that I can’t bring myself to stop it, or maybe it’s because it’s seven o’clock in the evening and I have no more energy to stop non-harmful, reckless behavior.

Now when Sean climbs to the top, he throws his arms up in the air in victory or like he’s on a rollercoaster.  Then he throws himself down the front of the love seat with the tiniest of pauses before he rolls onto the floor.  With a laugh he’s running back to do it again.  Show off.

I foresee a problem.  First off, it’s just a matter of time before someone gets hurt.  It’s all fun and games until that moment; then it’s a sport.  Then we’ll have to make rules, and someone will have to referee (oh, wait; that’ll be my job).  Then my husband will feel obligated to defend their behavior to guests.  Then my mom will tell me how this will bite me on the ass when they do it in public or at someone’s house.  And I’ll say, “I know, Mom.  I’ll handle it.”  Then they WILL do it in public, and it’ll bite me on my ass.  My husband will be mortified and blame me.  Then we’ll fight because I’ll mention how he ignored the behavior as he watched reruns of classic football games, conveniently forgetting that I was right there refereeing the whole sport, but it won’t matter because he should have spoken out if he had reservations.  Then we’ll have to go back to marital counseling, and I will have to admit to my mom she was right . . . once again.

So I guess I should stop this sport before all that happens.  Of course, this is the kind of thing my brothers and I would do when we were young and unsupervised.  We would just be a LOT more physical about it, until some one bleeds or tattles.  Then we knew we were all in trouble. But we were older than my boys and would know NOT to ever, ever do it in public because our lives depended on it.  I guess I’ll add that too the rules. 

You can practice gymnastics on the couch because it’s old and worn, and we secretly hate the stupid thing any ways.  You probably were too young to remember your father trying to tear the couch to pieces because it swallowed his cell phone.  Yes, the couch does eat things.  That’s why we never left you on it unattended on the couch when you were a baby; we knew it would eat you.  That’s why we put on that cover you and your father ignore.  And because I was tired of fixing your father’s back when he threw a temper tantrum, trying to throw the couch because it ate his cell phone AGAIN as he’s alcoholic loser of a friend called the cell phone over and over and over again.  But I digress.  You can only play your couch games on THESE couches.  No one else’s.  Not Grandma’s house, not Grandma Sue’s house, not at anyone’s house or store.  Do you got that?  And if you are EVER caught doing your games on someone else’s couch, I will say I had no idea and that you will be punished severely.  Plus no landing on any person already on the couch.

They’ll understand.  Evan and Sean are smart boys at ages 3 and 1.

Ba-banana and Two-wallies

Nothing is cuter than toddlers trying to parrot the words their parents are saying.  I’ve read several blogs were little toddlers have learned to say Obama and McCain.  We all know children whose way of saying a word pulled at our heart strings to the point that we will never forget.  I feel that Evan has had very few of those words, or maybe I just forgot them and now that I’m writing I can pick out Sean’s.  Sean has several cute words right now.  My favorite is “ba-ba,” which means brother, Evan.  Of course, Evan doesn’t respond to ba-ba because it’s not the name Evan.  (Granted, he hardly responds to Evan any ways.  What’s just one more person to ignore?)

But there are two words that Evan does say regularly that just crack me up.  Ba-banana is obviously for banana.  Two-wallies is for enchiladas.  It’s kind of a round about way.  First he’s confusing enchiladas with tamales.  He used to like both, but now he prefers enchiladas, which he can’t remember the name.  So he calls them tamales, except he can’t say tamales.  He says two-wallies, which might be because he had them first when my best friend Wally was visiting.

A couple months ago my husband thought it was time for Evan to say banana the right way.

My husband: Do you want your banana?

Evan: Yes, ba-banana please.

My husband: No, Evan, it’s ba-nana.  Can you say ba-nana?

Evan: Ba-banana.

My husband: Ba-nana.

Evan: ba-banana

My husband: Try again. BA-nana.

Evan: Ba-banana.  (All this time Evan is holding his hand out to my husbands, reaching to take the banana out of my husband’s hand that is holding it back.)

My husband: Come on, Evan; try again.  BA-nana.

Evan: Ba-banana

Me: Just give him the banana.  He’ll figure it out soon enough.  You know we have a life time of banana and only a little while with ba-banana.  Then we’ll wish he still said ba-banana.

My husband: Oh.  Right.  Evan, say ba-banana.  (He hands the banana to Evan.)

Evan: Ba-banana.

As for two-wallies, I’m a little more concerned about that word.  He’ll be quite frustrated when he gets a tamale instead of his enchilada.  Maybe he’ll give tamales a second chance because they are quite yummy.  I also encourage parents to try cheese enchiladas on their kids.  They’re super easy to make with a can of enchilada sauce, warm corn tortillas wrapping around cheese (hmm.  I think I might have leftovers for lunch), and I started to throw in a carrot purée with the enchilada sauce.  And if my kid loves them, they must be really something to the toddler taste buds. 

And here’s to all the parents out there who indulge these creative twists on the English language.

The problem with stairs, early walkers, and TV

After reading holeycheese’s response to the kid room post, I realized how aggravating having a second floor was.  I grew up in Arizona, and for a long time, the vast majority of houses were single story.  Until twenty or so years ago, I would say that nearly every house was a single story in the city I grew up in.  Due to the heat, second stories are not practical; they become too hot and take lots of money to keep them cool.  When I was a kid, I dreamed of a second story house.

 

Until I had babies, I loved climbing the stairs to the second story.  Wait, scratch that.  It was when I was pregnant that I first started hating second stories.   In my first trimester, I remember the desperate need to vomit when I was half way up the stairs.  I only made it to the doorway of the master bedroom.  Then in my third trimester, I hated heaving my bulk up the stairs like Jabba the Hut.  Then with babies, I became dependent on the pack-n-play and the baby monitor.  We rarely played upstairs.

 

Evan was an early walker.  I don’t say this to brag but to point out the colossal stress this caused.  At ten months, he was walking around with no problem.  (He began walking because he realized our friends’ kids didn’t crawl when they played chase.)  I was not ready.  I was in desperate need of him to stay in his pack-n-play and be content.  Or in his swing or jumper or anything that kept him immobile.  Ha.  Evan was determined to move.

 

At this time I was desperate to keep that vile TV from polluting my son’s expanding mind.  I took my showers during to morning naps; I cooked simple, quick meals with a baby on my hip; I desperately tried to remember every song and nursery rhyme I was ever taught.  I was blissfully unaware of the world around me; Evan was blissfully unaware of damaging influences like the Tellytubbies, the Roadrunner, Mickey Mouse, Sesame Street.  I thought I was making in roads to being to perfect Mom with a genius kid.  Just think what his un-television mind could achieve: brain surgeon, Supreme Court Justice, Nobel Prize winner.

 

Then one day I decided to make something a little more complicated at the stove.  I don’t remember what.  Maybe it was spaghetti or fried chicken or stir fry.  Whatever it was it was too complicated to keep Evan in my arms as I worked over the stove.  I placed Evan in the family room surrounded by his favorite toys, believing he had enough to entertain him for ten minutes or so.

 

About eight minutes or so, I heard a baby whine over the sizzling stove.  I turned around to find Evan was not in the family room.  Worry filled me.  I was now the worse mom in the world.  I followed the whines up the stairs, into the master bedroom, into the bathroom, to find Evan sitting in a sink that was filling with hot water as he tried desperately to get himself and his monkey out of the sink.

 

My eleven month old son walked out of the family room, crawled up the stairs, and walked into the master bathroom.  He climbed the steps up to the bath and climbed from the bath to the counter.  He sat in the sink with his monkey and turned on the water.  All because his mind grew bored of his toys.

 

I was defiantly the worse mother in the world.  As I pulled Evan out of the sink, I realized that he was crying because he couldn’t get out, not because the water was burning him.  Thankfully I had turned down the water heater temperature when we first brought Evan home.  I still dropped him into the bath, running cold water over him, just in case.  That poor monkey was never the same as he does not howl like a howler monkey should.

 

That’s it I thought.  I need to keep Evan safe.  Because our stairs are plain weird, we couldn’t put a gate at the bottom or top.  I tried gating the sunken family room, but that little stinker figured out in a week to haul himself up and through the banister that separated the rooms.  He hated anything that kept him from being mobile.  So I turned to the one thing I swore I would never turn to, I turned on the television and found an age appropriate show, which held his attention for ten minutes, enough time where I could salvage dinner from the mess I left it in.

 

From that day forward I used TV sparingly as a babysitter.  Evan was (and is) a mobile kid, and he never watched any show for more than ten to fifteen minutes.  But that was enough time to get the trickiest part of the dinner done or get some chores taken care of.  Today I use the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse show to get ready for the day and make my list of chores or groceries.  PBS entertains the boys while I make dinner.  When I was pregnant, I started DVD time, which calms Evan down for bedtime and gave me an hour or so to clean the kitchen and start laundry as I was too tired to stay up for more than an hour or so after Evan’s bedtime.

 

Now my husband disagrees with this approach of parenting.  Granted he’s never watched the kids by himself for a full day.  He’s never had to clean the house, do any chores, or cook a meal when he was watching the boys.  Actually the last time he watched the boys during lunch time, he piled them in the car and took them to In-N-Out.  Did I mention he’s also against giving them fast food?  On Saturday mornings, my husband is the one who turns on the TV, and he was the one who introduced Evan to Mickey Mouse.  Before that the TV was always on some sort of PBS programming, except Tellytubbies. 

 

My belief is everything in moderation.  How can we give our kids the tools to survive out there without a lesson in moderation?  It’s all a balance.  They have to learn to work and play.  They need to learn that they can have a healthy diet and still have some fast food or dessert on occasion.  They need to learn that you don’t have to be drunk to have a good time; they can drink in moderation.  I’m not sure watching TV or eating dessert will have all the effects I want, but at least I have a half an hour to take a shower, brush my teeth, and put something on with a little style.  (Bleach stained isn’t a style yet, right?)

The Kid Room

It’s official.  We lost our family room.  It was buried under toys.  It looks a lot more like a toy room than a family room, where everyone used to enjoy something.  There was a time when our family room was multifunctional with a big fireplace and comfy couches for reading as well as a large screen TV and a couple of video consoles.  It has some beautiful photographs from an actual artist and a surround sound that makes my husband cry (with beauty when it works; childish anger when it doesn’t).  Pre-babies we even had our DVD collection in there.  But times have changed.

 

I actually can’t think of one room now that doesn’t have a toy in it.  The living room has the rocking horse and the tunnels, although the tunnels are folded up for the moment.  With finger paint pictures hanging from the walls, the dining room is now where we do art.  (Well, we don’t have a real dining table.)  The kitchen has a play kitchen and a child’s set of table and chairs.  The bathrooms and office have various toys and books.  The garage has a small fleet of bikes and cars, three tricycles and two cars to be exact.  Even our bedroom hasn’t escaped the twin tornadoes, I have a basket where I throw all the toys they leave in our room.

 

But the family room took the biggest hit because that was where I wanted the bulk of toys to be.  I figured if I had to give up one room it might as well be the family room, where I can keep an eye on them when I’m cooking or trying to watch The Daily Show.  My boys are young, so I can’t trust them to play in their rooms up the stairs without my supervision, so I just made an area for the toys.  Actually my mom made an area because I was content to give them a wall.  She actually angled the love seat so the boys would have a corner to keep their toys.  The amazing thing (ok, not so amazing because she’s an experienced mom) was they kept most of the toys back there, preferred to play back there.  It was perfect.

 

Then Sean and the coffee table fought, and the coffee table won.  We rethought our options.  Because we had a beautiful train table given to us by our favorite neighbors, I figured it was cheaper to use that than by a comfy ottoman.  So I cleaned up the table, from sitting in our garage for a year, and added a river and a road to the surface, covering it with layers of schlock.  I placed it where the coffee table used to be, and the boys were drawn to it like the table was really a toy.  Just look at how high you can build a tower of blocks on an even, hard, flat service.  Look at how well the cars move, and look at the Lego land you can build.

 

As I surveyed the room, I realized it was the toy room.  I could move the horse back, but the boys would probably fall and crack their heads on the brick hearth.  I wouldn’t want to clean that up.  Since the hearth stretches across the whole wall at seating level (yes, it looks pretty stupid and ugly), I can’t even move the kitchen into the family room.  I could almost believe my husband when he says the boys have too many toys.  But I snap to my senses and divide the toys by two and shrug.

 

Well, they’ll be old enough one day to have this all in their rooms, and I won’t have to have every toy in sight.  I guess I’ll go back to daydreaming about the grown-up living room that I promised my husband we could get.  A nice coach, recliners, and an ottoman for just in case.  I’ll let him put the plasma he wants in there, but I won’t budge on the video consoles.  One toy room is plenty.

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