Wednesday, January 23, 2013

S&*t my Kids Say

For some reason, Bjorn despises having his teeth brushed lately (can we say HORRIFIC Three's???), so we have pulled out all the tricks. Sometimes after he is finished brushing, we put on sunglasses and shield our eyes because "your teeth are so shiny, it hurts our eyes". (He loves that one!)

But to actually get him to brush, we started telling him about all the things caught in his teeth to make them dirty.  You know, like hippos and tigers, trucks and garbage cans. He is always excited to hear what we have brushed out of his teeth.

But the dental hygienist at our dental office had no idea what to say when she was finished cleaning his teeth and he asked,"Did you find any giraffes in there? How about lions or barking dogs?"

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Getting ready in the morning is a family occasion, with all four of us crowding into the master bathroom. Bjorn watches as I put in my contacts.

"Bjorn, what color are Peanut's eyes?" He turns to look at her.

"Peanut's eyes are blue."

"That's right, Bjorn. What color are Daddy's?"

"He has blue eyes, too. And yours are brown. And white. And red."

I blame the sleepless, baby and toddler-filled nights for those red eyes, kid.

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"Mommy, your hair is black." Bjorn remarked over his cereal this morning.

"Well, dark brown, actually, but. . . sure, Bjorn, my hair IS black."

"And, Daddy," He said, glancing over at The Hubs. "Yours is black. And white!"

It was the first time I've ever seen my not-yet-35-but-kids-are-making-him-go-gray-silver fox husband speechless.

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Our computer screen saver is family portraits we took when I was 16 months pregnant with Peanut. (Ok, ok. . . not quite 16 months, but it sure felt like it!) Bjorn watched the screen saver slide show this morning.

"Mommy! That's me and you!"

"That's right, Bjorn. That was before Peanut was born."

"Uh huh. Peanut's in your belly. You ate her."

He stops looking at the screen, turns, and stares at me. "Mommy. You ate Peanut! Why would you eat Peanut?!?"

Before I could stop myself, I answered, "No, I didn't eat Peanut!"

"Then how did she get in your belly?!?"

Ummmmmm. This is too soon - too soon!! I have no responses appropriate for a 3 year old. I was grasping for some kind of answer when Bjorn answered for me.

"Is it magic?"

"Yes, Bjorn, magic. Some might even call it 'magical'."

Whew.

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And it wouldn't be a S&*t my kids say story time without one from the Peanut herself:
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I was showing off to a friend over lunch all the words Peanut, at a mere 18 months, can say.

"Peanut, say Mama."

"Mama," she says, taking a bite of her sandwich.

"Say 'Thank you'." "Dank coo."

"Say 'Please'." "Peassss." She eats another bite of sandwich.

"Boots. Shoes. Socks. All done." "Boos. Shuuu. Sawws. Aww done." she parrots back to me.

"Hmmmm. What other words do you know, Peanut?"

She reaches for her milk, accidentally knocking it over. With perfect comedic timing, she sighs,"Ohhh Sh*t."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Screw this!

Not a week goes by that the F*bomb or s%&t or da&&*t hasn't been said in our house.

Not because anything bad has really happened, but because that's kind of a gut reaction when you drop a hammer on your foot. Or the baby figures out how to open her milk cup and throws it across the room, coming to a stop against the far wall, splattering milk all across the freshly washed floor. Or when the dog steals yet another package of hamburger buns off the counter.

And these events are a daily event in our house. Combined with others, which, when faced with, cause a few choice words to emit. Quietly. Under our breath.

Because now we have kids we have to be an example to. Blah blah blah. Mostly, though, because we have a 3 1/2 year old myna bird echoing back to us our spoken mistakes.

It was still a surprise when Bjorn walked around the house yesterday, muttering under his breath. "Screw this."

We didn't know who to put in time out. Him. Or us.

"Ummm, Bjorn? What did you say?" I asked him.

"Screw this, Mommy. I just need to screw this."

He held out his hand to me. Right there in the middle of his palm was his wooden screwdriver, toy airplane and, yes, a screw. Screw this, indeed.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Choices

It has always been important to The Hubs and I to eat dinner as a family. Even when I am gone for work, or he works late, the kids and whichever parent is around all sit down at our dining toom table and eat dinner. Together. At the same time.

The Hubs and I have been doing this since we were married, and it was important for us to continue even after having kids.

Even when one - or both - would throw tantrums or food. Many a dinner has been filled with globs of peas tossed across the room and "just eat your food. Just one bite. Just ONE." repeated again and again.

But no matter how frustrating the time, we are all in it together, every time.

And usually it works well. We get to talk and laugh and play a little, without anymore distraction than the food on our plate.

I never really understood how most Moms complained about never eating a hot meal. Our meal process is an orchestrated play of movement and timing, all engineered to bring everyone's meal to the table at the same time. My meal was always hot.

Until lately.

About two months ago, at the ripe old age of 16 months, Peanut began to boycott sitting in her high chair.

It began with the throwing of food (which we are used to), but quickly escalated to screeching at a high tone only dogs, dolphins and parents can hear. Then came the rigid back arching whenever a parent brought her within two feet of the high chair, and kicking, screaming and clawing if they attempted to latch her in.

Eating became a nightmare.

The only way to calm her down was to hold her in my lap while we ate, where she would eat everything on her plate happily and then totter off to play. Only then could I eat my food, so, for only the fifth or sixth time since I had kids, I ate my food cold.

And I didn't like it.
Not one bit.

We didn't know what to do. Bjorn had happily sat in that high chair until he was 2 1/2 and we needed it to feed Peanut. But here she was, only 16 months old and throwing a fit the likes I had ever seen about sitting in a freakin' high chair.

The solution came to me suddenly.

Do the only thing you can do with a girl sometimes. Let her choose.

We had told Bjorn he was moving from his high chair to a booster, and then to a regular chair. Maybe this time, we could let Peanut choose what she did next. Which chair made her happy. Which would then lead to better meal times, which would then make us happy.

I put the high chair, the booster, and a regular chair at the table and told Peanut,"If you would like to eat, go sit at the table and I will get you breakfast. "

She looked at me, looked at the table, and hustled on over.

I'm a BIG girl now

She's been eating this way ever since. Happily.

And my meals are hot again.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Teaching Lessons

The Hubs was very excited this year that Bjorn was finally old enough to get the ultimate little kids toy as a present - a big boy bike (with training wheels, of course).

After spending less time than expected putting together the 6 pieces the bike came in (it wasn't from IKEA), The Hubs gave it a little test push around the living room.

"With Bjorn riding this bike, he doesn't need his tricycle. We should give it to Peanut." he said. 

"You're right." I replied. "But we need to make sure Bjorn thinks it's HIS idea to give her his tricycle. So he doesn't get angry or territorial."  

We brainstormed ideas on how to approach the subject ("Wow, Bjorn, now that you're a big boy, do you need this tricycle anymore?"), asking leading questions that make him think he is making the decisions, ("Where should we put the little kid tricycle now that you have a big boy bike?") and pushing him subtly and promptly to giving his little sister the trike he has used for years ("Peanut looks like she wants to go for a bike ride, too. I wonder where we can get a bike for her?").

Finally we were satisfied that we could trick Bjorn into giving his little sister his ruby red Radio Flyer. 

Christmas came and Bjorn was just as surprised and excited about his big boy bike as we thought he would be. Heading out later that day for his first bike ride, we stepped into the garage to get the bikes, and The Hubs and I prepared to begin the con.

But before we could open our mouths, Bjorn ran over not to his new bike, but to his old tricycle. 

"Peanut, Peanut - come here!! Peanut, THIS can be yours. Then you can ride with me around the block. C'mon, Peanut, I'll help you get on." And he put Peanut's little helmet on her little head, helped her onto the tricycle seat and patted her on the back. "See, Peanut? This is the perfect size for you! Now come with me and let's ride our bikes together!"

Her "new" bike

Looking for birds


And my heart melted. 

Here I had planned exactly how to trick my kid into being a caring person and a giving big brother. I had actually rehearsed what I would say to con him into being the kind of kid I wanted him to be. Practiced how to deceive in order to make him a better person.

Then he goes and does it all on his own, without any prompting or trickery. Teaching me to look for the best in people, rather than assume the worst. That sometimes people are good people, and there is no need for tricks or cons.

Just when you think you are the one teaching your kids lessons about life, they turn around and teach you. Amazing.