The Tale of the Best Seat in the House

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When small children have come to roost in your home you long for the days when your level of confidence in getting a full, undisturbed night’s sleep becomes much greater, nigh unto cockiness. I’m actually surprised that those who don’t sleep with one ear tuned for the little slap of footie-jammies hitting the hallway floor don’t actually walk with an arrogant swagger. I think I will struggle to not walk up to stroller pushing, caffeine slugging, bleary-eyed parents of young children and say “HA! Eight hours last night! In your face!”

But I knew about this one. I may not have fully understood the depths of sleep deprivation the human mind and body can withstand over the years. But when you are sporting that baby bump you might as well be wearing a t-shirt that says “Please tell me to ‘sleep now while I can’ or other such tired comments about the sleep deprivation I am about to face”. (This may seem a little long for a t-shirt, but just think about the expanded real estate the pregnant belly provides a t-shirt — you could probably fit that message AND the due date, whether or not you know the gender and/or are sharing that, and your thoughts on home birth just to avoid having other conversations over and over and over again).

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Image source: canadianfamily.ca

What I WASN’T informed about is the longing I have for getting through a meal — ANY meal — without a toddler planted in my lap mooching food from my plate. The little one finishes her meal and then crawls up into my lap to help me finish mine. Every. Single. Time. I share my cereal, sandwiches, salads, burgers — everything. And as it is a biological imperative to feed one’s child I indulge her. But, trust me, the moment she finishes her meal and then hops down to play, I will finish my very own meal with dramatic flourish and then do a happy dance (though maybe I will wait for an hour or two for the dance – wouldn’t want my first solo meal to be ruined by indigestion).

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The Tale of the Scissors

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I thought that I could leave my 1 1/2 year old and my 4 year old unattended for the 5 minutes it takes to shower (ok, 8 minutes; ok 10). I’ve done it before with no catastrophic results. Other parents must shower.

Alas, the scene I found when I emerged the other day would indicate otherwise.

My first indication something was amiss was the plaintive calls of the little one. She was stranded on top of a large basket of clothes where her sister had deposited her before abandoning her for more tasty and deviant diversions.

As next I found the big one traipsing out of my bedroom holding a pudding cup (retrieved from a high cupboard courtesy of a floor to chair to counter climbing expedition) that she had been in the process of opening with scissors which were now pudding-covered and IN HER MOUTH. (I have heard running with scissors is frowned upon. I suspect ‘walking with scissors in mouth’ is not really a grey area of this particular danger)

Turns out I can only shower when Daddy is home or the kids are in restraints. And the big one is still on probation for her multiple violations.

The Tale of the Predator

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The toddler (Homo sapien difficultus) is one of four distinctions of tiny humans in the genus Homo. Second in size to only babies, toddlers can exceed 18kg (39.7 lb) in weight, though their size varies widely. Wild toddlers currently exist on all continents, in all countries. No toddlers have been known to be tamed.

Commonly, the toddler will attach itself to a family unit. Very quickly a co-dependency emerges, each needing the other to survive. Toddlers will exert their dominance early on and establish themselves as the alpha member of the family. The toddler establishes and maintains her dominance through loud cries, posturing (lying  prone on the ground kicking and screaming), and irresistible cuteness. Toddlers are typically found attached to a family as individuals, though sometimes a family will find itself supporting 2 or 3 – and in rare instances even greater numbers (4, 5, even up to 8 have been found on record). Numbers this large can be very disruptive to the delicate family ecosystem, causing significant stress.

Toddlers display an aggressive eating style, leaving feeding sites littered with remains and virtually unrecognizable, so thorough is their destruction. Scavengers by nature, they take over the established living area of a family, claiming everything contained within as their own. They typically mark their territory with scattered toys, books, shoes, clothing, and anything else they find. Though family members may prefer specific areas of the living space for specific activities, the toddler is indiscriminate using any area for any activity (play, feeding, elimination, etc).

The only known predator of the toddler is sleep. Sleep is a silent stalker of the toddler – sometimes taking them suddenly and without warning.  One of the prime places for sleep to stalk is in the family vehicle. Toddlers become entrapped, and with motion are lulled into a Imagelistless state, leaving them defenceless. Within a vehicle sleep may attack quickly (before the vehicle has even left the driveway), or may play a long, slow stalking game (often overcoming the victim mere minutes from home).

When sleep attacks at night, the toddler is often not caught by surprise, and the toddler will resist sleep. Night attacks can be difficult for sleep to obtain their prey as a toddler will “go down fighting”. Toddlers use many defence mechanisms in what are sometimes epic battles between these two adversaries. Diversions, loud cries, flailing movements and sometimes flat out fleeing are the most common tactics of the sleep-resistant toddler. However, sleep is an indiscriminate predator and will go after any and all toddler prey – those who lay down and go quietly, and those who are asking for their fifth freakin’ drink of water at 10:00 at night.

The Tale of the Made Bed

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The other day my 4-year-old wandered into my room, and upon seeing my made bed, widened her eyes in surprise and said, “Whoa, Mommy”. She then asked if she and her little sister could “try out” my bed. She climbed up, laid against the pillows and asked, “Where is your blanket?” Thinking she was referring to a specific favourite blanket of mine, I told her it was in the laundry. She said, “No, what do you sleep under on this bed?”.

Not only did my made bed come as a surprise to her, but she was wholly unfamiliar with the concept of her parents made bed. I KNOW (in all-caps, bolded and underlined for extra emphasis) that I have made my bed periodically over the last 4 years of her life. It is not a sight unseen for her. But I shudder to think that it was long enough ago that she had no recollection of that bed being made. In my defence (if such lapses in housekeeping and parenting are defendable – and the iron-clad bastions of modern day social mores, women’s/parenting magazines and the internet, would indicate they aren’t), we have recently purchased a new duvet cover and it may just be that she’d never seen the bed made with that particular configuration.  I am going to go with that explanation, if only so I can sleep tonight (in my currently unmade bed. Sigh).

The Tale of the Mind Reader

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Last night I had the glorious privilege of sleeping with both my kids (as sarcasm doesn’t always transfer well in an online environment, I will be plain: that is sarcasm). As I laid there NOT SLEEPING for a period of time, I plotted my 140-character revenge. My comment would be scathing (well, scathing AND funny).

And then the big one woke up, hugged me and said,

“I like you. You are so pretty”.

And now I know: that girl is a mind reader and she knocked the evil Tweets right out of my head. She may play a non-reading, JK-attending child, but she knows. She knows

The Tale of the Snoring Grandmother

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I try really, really, really hard not to be one of those parents who says, “Guess what my kid said” (or did, or the math problem he/she solved).

This is me failing at that objective (as is having the blog to begin with, I know, I see that).

A few weeks ago, I went on a canoe trip with my brother, sister and her husband, Dad and other family. Grandma graciously helped out with all the grandbabies left behind. One morning at 4:30am, my 3-year-old climbed into Grandma’s bed (a woman who is known for her loud snoring). A short time later Grandma awoke to said grandbaby poking her face and then chirping,

Is there any way you could sleep without making that noise?

The Tale of the Missing Family

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If you live in my area, do not be alarmed if something like the following appears in local news. And if they withhold our names while they contact my brother in China, be assured, it is us.

A local family met a tragic end this week when they were buried in their home’s clutter. The family of four were found by one of their neighbours and her husband three days after they were overtaken. The neighbour described finding them:

We realized we hadn’t seen them for a few days, so we went to check on them. When we got no response to our repeated knocking we opened the door. We couldn’t believe what poured out – church bulletins, school calendars, birthday party favours, take-out menus, toys, books, clothes, and the drawings and paintings. Oh my. It was just endless.

Her husband added: “The size of the dust bunnies just blew my mind. You can’t even call them ‘bunnies’. I’d say they were dust bears”.

Police officers at the scene were not suprised at this incident. They see it as a growing epidemic.

Speaking on the condition of anonymity in this ongoing investigation, one officer shared how common this scenario is, “Oh, yeah, we see this kind of thing all the time – not always with this tragic result, but it’s a real danger. This is just the normal amount of stuff generated by a household of this size”.

The officer went on to say that in a time when technology should be allowing for a paperless society, what they see is the opposite. There seems to be more and more paper clutter for a family to deal with. He also blamed the busyness of families and the pressures of modern parenting with creating a perfect storm of a lot of stuff acquired, a lot of things to do and a lack of time to do it in.

And then you have all these parenting magazines, books and websites insisting on making time with the family a priority even if it means neglecting the house a bit, and well, you can see, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. We lost another family about a year back — they were having Family Boardgame Night in the basement and were overtaken by toxic mould.

Area residents realized that this could have easily occured to them. Many at the scene commented on how close they are to experiencing the same tragedy. The local Home Hardware ran out of blue boxes as people picked up supplies on the way home, vowing to clear the clutter once and for all.