Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Someday she'll thank me for this

It starts innocently enough. A pack of gum, maybe a novelty pen at the checkout. The next time it's something a little bigger, a book or a t-shirt. Before you know it, it's a much bigger ticket item and you leave the store shaking your head, wondering why you went through with it, all the while knowing that it's going to lose its allure once you get it home.
I'm talking, of course, about the things I end up buying for Claire on nearly every trip to Wal-Mart, Target, Walgreens or even Petsmart.
I really can't remember how it started, but I suspect it was when she was a baby and we began making daily treks to SuperTarget (oh, how I miss SuperTarget). I'd see a cute onesie and throw it in the cart. Or maybe a new Baby Einstein product, and really, who can blame me for trying to make my kid a genius by watching those insipid videos of stuffed bears, plastic trains and other non-remarkable toys set to classical music? As she got a little bigger, I'd often pick something out and let her hold it to keep her happy while she sat in the cart. A book or a teething ring. Maybe a new sippy cup. Nothing huge, but always something.
So, since I started this habit when she was a baby, it's really no surprise that by the time she hit the age of three, she'd come to expect something every time we walked through the doors of a store.
Fearing that I was raising some kind of ungrateful kid with a serious sense of entitlement, I decided that today was going to be the day that I stopped this nonsense. Before we even got out of the car, I announced that there would be no toy buying today. We were only getting a couple of baby gates for the new house (more on that in a later post). In retrospect, I see that choosing to put my foot down at Toys R Us was probably not the best parenting move. It's kind of like letting a chocoholic loose in a Hershey's factory but telling her she can't eat anything. But I drew the line in the sand and I had to stick with it (Supernanny would be so proud!).
Oh the drama! First there was the polite asking. Then the whining. Then the clever, "Why don't I just get this Barbie instead of that baby doll?" More whining and some tears. And then the grand finale: blood-curdling screaming.
Throughout this whole ordeal, I somehow managed to remain calm, even though what I really wanted to do was scream right back in her face (admitting that probably isn't going to win me any parenting awards, but it's true). As I was paying, trying to pretend that it was perfectly normal that my three year old had flung herself across a chair near the register and was sobbing uncontrollably, I had a moment of weakness when I actually considered just buying her something, anything, to pacify her. And then she caught me looking at her and issued another blood-curdling scream and the moment passed.
Parenting isn't always fun and it definitely isn't easy. It would have been so much easier to just buy the stupid Barbie and be done with it. But I don't want Claire to grow up thinking that she's always going to get something just because she wants it, even if she asks nicely. By the time we got home, I think the message had finally sunk in and she told me she was sorry.
And as for me, well, I learned something valuable today, too: any and all shopping at Toys R Us should be done online, after the children are asleep. Avoiding conflict, it's what I'm all about.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

I used to think she was the quiet one

When Claire was about two months old, I took her to my old job to show her off. My old co-workers were oohing and aahing over her and I was bragging, shamelessly, of course, about what a good baby she was, never cried, never fussed, etc... My friends were taken with Claire, amazed at just how sweet she really was.
And then my former boss, Mike, said something that popped into my head the other day. "You better watch out, she'll trick you into having another one."
I looked at him, confused. Of course I would have another one, and she'd be just as sweet and precious and perfect as Claire.
And I did. And she is. But much, much, much more wild.
In case you don't believe me, here is a list of ways to tell when you have a wild child:
1. Random strangers comment on how "lively" and "busy" and "spirited" your child is.
2. You get paged to the nursery to change her diaper because, well, nobody feels like doing the diaper rodeo.
3. She makes her older sister cry when she does any of the following (and she does these quite often): changes the TV channel, steals a toy or book from her and then runs away laughing, bites her toes, knees or any other available body part, drinks from her sippy cup.
4. The only thing she wants to do on the couch is run.
5. The parents at gymnastics remind you that there is a playroom available.
6. When you get her out of her crib, she's off and running. And doesn't stop until bedtime.
She may be wild, but I wouldn't take her any other way. Arden Kate, I love your energy and spirit and pray you never lose it. But it would be nice if you could bring it down a few notches every once in a while...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Please don't let this be global warming

I've tried to avoid talking about the oppressive heat that we've been experiencing for the last week because isn't that all everyone is talking about? At the store, the cashier asks you "Are you staying cool?" to which you answer "Trying to!" At gymnastics, the parents say "It's too hot to go outside! We're going stir crazy!" to which you give a sympathetic nod and smile. At the library, the librarian asks "Are you beating the heat with books?" to which you roll your eyes and mumble something about beating the librarian with books.
Wait, I actually just made that last part up, but it's what I really wanted to say instead of giving a short laugh and steering my girls to the kid's section. I think maybe the heat is making me cranky.
I know for a fact that it's making my kids cranky. And bored. And sick of all their toys, which by the way, decreased by about two hundred Polly Pockets after this week's latest lead-paint toy recall.
So, yes, it's hot. Too hot to go outside. Too hot to go to the pool, even. By Tuesday of this week, we'd already gone to the Library, the play area at the Mall (holding my breath waiting for Arden to break out in some random virus), Target (yes, we went to Target for no other reason than to get out of the house) and Chick-fil-A.
Since I figured it would be weird to hang out at Target too much, we have spent a lot of time at home this week as well. Being the creative and engaged mom that I am, I have spent countless hours playing Candyland, Don't Break the Ice, and Lucky Ducks (if you don't have this game, for the love of all things, DON'T get it), making toilet paper roll binoculars and searching for animals in danger, dressing up as a princess and allowing my three-year-old to "fix" my hair, and allowing that same three-year-old to watch way more than the American Pediatric Association's recommended two hours of television per day (surely that recommendation is only applicable in fair weather and doesn't apply to a Hannah Montana marathon on Disney Channel?!).

Let's all pray that the heat breaks soon, because, seriously, I don't know how many more times I can build that ice burg only to have Arden break it two seconds later. Or listen to the incessant quacking of those lucky ducks. Or watch Billy Ray Cyrus on Hannah Montana.
The only upside to this heat wave is the significant decrease in the number of green plastic men loitering in the middle of my street.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Sham(e)less Bragging

I've had this blog for a few months now. I look at it multiple times a day. I post at least once a week. Over 2000 people have looked at it and a handful comment each week.

With all that viewing, by myself and my friends and family, how many of you noticed that the title of my blog was misspelled? Or, more to the point, how many of you corrected me?


So for the past several months, I've been pouring my heart out to the Internet on a blog called "Shamless Bragging." Shamless Bragging.

Shameless Bragging, indeed.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Tea for Two--or Twenty

Tuesday morning, I took Claire to a tea party at our Library. She was so excited to wear a "party" dress and drink "real tea". I was excited that she wanted to wear something other than her St. Pat's t-shirt.
There were about twenty preschool age girls, and a couple of boys in suits whose mothers obviously want their sons to hate them because, seriously, why would you bring a four year old boy to a tea party? They started with story time, which Claire loves and then were assigned tables for the tea party. The kids were instructed to use their best manners and have a conversation with their hostess.
Our hostess turned out to be about 11 years old, and I saw Claire glancing around, noticing that all the other hostesses were grown-ups. I could tell she felt ripped off because she kept trying to have a conversation on the side with the little girl across the table. When the hostess would ask her a question, Claire would give her a one-word answer and then turn back to her new friend. Hello?? Everyone knows Claire thinks she's about twenty-five years old, so of course she doesn't want to have a conversation with an 11 year old. She'd rather talk to the other three year old who thinks she's an adult.
I have to say, I was very impressed by the behavior of all the kids. They really did have their best manners on, but as soon as the last petit four was eaten, it was back to normal preschool stuff. And of course, my own little preschooler couldn't wait to join in.

Claire had so much fun, she's been asking to have her own tea party. "Like with your stuffed animals," I asked. "No, with all my friends," she answered. Considering most of her friends are boys, that should be one interesting tea party.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Five Minutes After She Woke Up...

...Claire was dancing to the Wiggles.

There should be some kind of law against the Wiggles before 7:00 a.m. It's just not right.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

The one where I vent

Our neighborhood is being overtaken by small, strange men. It all started earlier this summer when one kept showing up at a neighbor's house, usually in the late afternoon or early evening. He would stick around until dark, just kind of standing in the middle of the street. Now, it seems he has recruited his friends and everywhere you look, there they are, hanging out in the middle of the road.
Have you seen this man?
Maybe he lives on your street too. Maybe (gasp) he lives at your house.

Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against him personally. He seems nice enough. What I have a problem with are the people who put him in the MIDDLE OF MY STREET.

Before I go on, let me offer a disclaimer: if you happen to own one of these plastic men, I'm sure you're a very normal, non-neurotic person who is simply concerned with the safety of your children and not anything like a certain neighbor who props the man up in the middle of an intersection and then proceeds to sit in a lawn chair, working the New York Times crossword puzzle while her hairless dog sunbathes next to her and her children ride their bikes or scooters or whatever down the middle of the road (without helmets, I might add).

That said, I do have to admit that these yellow (sometimes green) men drive me completely crazy. The urge to pile-drive one of them is nearly overwhelming. I'm not sure where this rage stems from. Maybe it's because when we were kids, we rode our bikes and skates and scooters all over the neighborhood without the watchful eye and "SLOW! CHILDREN PLAYING!" warning of one of these plastic men. But I don't think that's it.

Maybe it's because I feel like my neighbors should be more concerned with watching their own kids and less concerned with the flow of traffic through the neighborhood. But I don't think that's it either.

No, I think the real reason is that these little plastic men get to stand in the middle my street, holding a flag and bossing around all the adults in the neighborhood. And really, isn't that the kind of power we all wish we had?