My 3-year-old daughter Bridget is starting to sting together sentences and have actual conversations, which is when I think parenting starts getting real fun.
I mean, I love them before that and all, but it’s a whole lot of screaming and you-cleaning-up poop before intelligible sentences come into play. Graspable language is when you start getting to hear their hilarious, unfiltered take on life.
Like the other day, when Bridget started nosing around my coffee cup…
Bridget (pointing to my coffee): That COFFEE.
Bridget: I drink?
Me: No, drink your milk.
Bridget (sighing): I smell? Smell good.
Me: Okay, you can smell it.
She grabs the cup, closes her eyes, and inhales.
Bridget: Smells GOOD, mama… I drink?
Me (grabbing the cup back): No, Bidgie.
Bridget (hands on hips): YOU drink!?
Me: I’m a grown-up. This is a grown-up drink.
Bridget (stomping away): This is… POOP!
The funniest part was how she clearly meant to say “This is a bunch of bullsh*t!” before stomping down the hall, but she did the three-year-old version of baby-swearing instead. Given the look on her face, I could practically hear the proper obscenities falling into place.
(Aww, she wants to drink lots of coffee and swear… she is mine.)
Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day and fun three-day weekend.
We sure did. My crazy, high-energy toddlers can be challenging (aren’t they all?), but they really crack me up. The entertainment value alone makes it all worth it, so I thought I’d share some of the highlight reel:
Dad Makes a Mockery of Purple Princess Clothes
John: Can I wear your dress today?
Brontë: YOU’RE TOO BIG, DADDY!
John: No, I look awesome.
Brontë: NO, you’re too big. That’s for GIRLS. MOMMA, DADDY’S TRYING TO WEAR MY PRINCESS DRESS!
Notice my daughter’s look of unbridled toddler outrage. Not only is her dad taking her dresses without asking, he’s getting boy cooties all over them.
Battles for Violet the Lizard
We went to a cousin’s birthday party at John’s Incredible pizza. I told my husband he should demand free entrance because the sign says it’s his place, but no one else thought the idea was funny. And rightly so.
Turns out my husband has mad skee ball powers that gave us a cheap toy return on our entrance fees. As if by magic, he dropped a ball straight into the 300 ticket slot. He claims it was pure luck, but I think he’s just being modest.
After playing a variety of arcade games and collecting tickets, we went with the kids to the ticket redemption center so they could pick out some stuff. They selected two miniature Army guys with tiny parachutes, two kazoos, and one plastic lizard.
Brontë named the lizard Violet (after my cat) and she quickly became the most sought-after toy in the house. Brontë and Bridget fight over turns with Violet, pretending to brush her hair, read her books, carrying her around in a plastic cat carrier, and wearing her on their shoulder while they eat dinner.
They even built her a lizard castle, which also functioned as a sister fort.
Finally one evening, I caught Brontë quietly staring at Violet. Brontë lightly poked her a couple of times then looked at me, concerned.
“Mom? I think there may be something wrong with this lizard.” Brontë told me as she kept poking her. “She isn’t moving. We may need to take her to a doctor.”
Profanity At The Zoo
We also had a terrific time at the zoo, checking out all the different animals and running around like mad.
I even learned something new. We were standing next to some zebras when one of them got worked up about something and started yelling. It sounded A LOT like a donkey.
I’ve never heard a zebra make noise before, but I didn’t expect to hear donkey calls. I thought zebras would sound more like warbling deer. Now I can’t help but see zebras as nothing but donkeys wearing elaborate striped outfits.
The kids were having so much fun, in fact, that we didn’t notice the time flying by. And right as an employee finally walked up to us to politely tell us the zoo was closing, Brontë stopped suddenly, looked at me with enormous eyes, and said, “MOM, I REALLY, REALLY NEED TO GO TO THE BATHROOM.”
We immediately rushed over to the nearby restrooms because when a four-year-old tells you they need the bathroom, it’s urgent. John and I were negotiating who would look after which kid when the zoo employee told us to all just go in together since everyone else had left anyway.
So, we all walked into the bathroom together as Brontë beelined to a stall. She scrambled onto the toilet seat while dropping her drawers… and two baseball-sized turds rolled across the floor.
Brontë looked down, threw both her arms in the air, and shouted:
“Well SH*T, looks like I just crapped my pants!”
I pressed my lips together hard while my brain screamed dontlaughdontlaughdontlaugh, but I just COULDN’T HELP IT.
John, sensing I was about to break, heroically rushed over to help as I quietly left the bathroom to go into hysterics. You don’t want to encourage your children to have potty mouths by laughing when they swear, but it was just…
SO FUNNY. I don’t know how my husband held it together. Her enunciation was perfect. Her arms gestures added just the right emphasis and if crapping your pants isn’t the perfect situation for using the S-word, then I don’t know what is.
I walked back in after collecting myself and helped get everyone out of the zoo. John and I told Brontë she shouldn’t be using the S word but tried not to make a big deal out of it, because flipping out seemed like handing our kids detailed instructions on how to really get a rise out of adults.
My cousin related this little gem to our grandmother, who called the toddler use of the S word an “abomination.” That seemed like a strong word to me.
Fortunately, no one saw or heard any of this: neither the toddler S bomb, nor the rolling turds. I’m not entirely sure whether we just spared humanity from this scene or if everyone else was robbed of the joke.
But I hope everyone else had a fun weekend too. Happy Memorial Day!
Last weekend, we took the kids to the Japanese Tea Gardens in San Francisco. Since I grew up closer to the city, I forget how rough the drive can be when you’re coming from Sacramento.
And especially with godawful traffic. It was raining off and on this weekend, which seems to scare the living crap out California drivers. We’re not used to it, you see, even though it happens…
Back when I lived in Los Angeles, it used to amuse me how much the weather channel would panic every winter. “FLASH FLOODS!” the meteorologists would shout, as though the Great Weather Apocalypse had just hit. Weather reports would be all flashing red lights and exclamation points, even though it rains in Southern California…
EVERY SINGLE YEAR.
You’d think someone would eventually see it coming and build some overflow pipes, but why prepare for inevitabilities when you can throw up your arms in terror instead?
Of course, I say all this from the safety of Sacramento, where we are amply prepared for these kinds of disasters. Centuries of water torment finally taught us to plan ahead, even if it means building a whole new city on top of your old one.
I don’t mean to pick on LA, though. As a peace offering, I’ll concede that you have much better drivers than we do. In fact, I think Bay Area drivers may be some of the worst in the world.
Look, Bay Area… I love you guys. You have many positive qualities, but your driving skills aren’t among them. Those never-letting-anyone-merge and irrationally-stopping-in-the-middle-of-the-street moves aren’t cute. There’s a reason all your fenders are dented.
So, my family set off for The City and four hours later, we were trying to find a parking spot (another circle of Dante’s SF driving experience) when the kids’ patience ran out out and they start shrieking as loud they could. They wouldn’t quit, no matter how many “we’re almost there’s” they heard, as I felt my temples stabbing and frustrations exploding.
By this point, I was struggling with the crazed impulse to escape out the window. Deep down, I knew it wouldn’t help, but I kept picturing a cartoon-style mommy-shaped hole in the windshield as the car kept inching and stopping and the kids’ wailing wore on.
Eventually, my mood meter spiked into red. This used to be a good time to scream some expletives, some harmless 4-letter grownup words to blow off steam. And five years ago, I would’ve done it, but you can’t go dropping F-bombs around children.
But the kids just kept getting louder and louder until I couldn’t stand it anymore and screamed “CACA SAUSAGE!”at the top of my lungs.
Brontë was scandalized.
“Mommy, stop it!”
“STOP IT MOMMY!” Brontë yelled, but she couldn’t keep from giggling, which made me laugh and say “Caca sausage” some more.
After some snickering, things got quiet until Brontë put on her best growling monster voice. A low rumble floated from the back seat.
“I… AM… CACA SAUSAGE MONSTER,” she shouted. “Wash… your… HANDS!”
Finally, we made it out of the car and went to the Japanese tea gardens, where we had a great time. The kids loved running around the grounds and sampling different cookies. Brontë ordered hot chocolate but insisted she was drinking COFFEE because she’s not a baby anymore.
We also went to the California Academy of Sciences, where the kids had fun roaming the exhibits and checking out the rainforest display. They especially loved the aquarium, pressing their little faces up against the glass and probably believing, for a moment, they were actually inside a wonderland of fish.
It was all in all a great day, apart from the horrendous traffic and made-up swear word incident. I’m guessing the Caca Sausage Monster will be a running joke in our house for months to come.
Remember when you were kid, and even more as a teenager, how clueless you thought your parents were?
They had all this power and money, yet made baffling choices. Instead of eating pizza and watching comedy, for example, your folks preferred watching golf and looking at paint swatches instead. It’s not a sane choice for anyone with options.
And it didn’t stop there. You’d watch in horror as your folks put on ridiculous jeans, always the wrong color and never conforming to current calf-grip standards. They failed to appreciate the awesomeness of new bands, apparently believing the music industry went straight in the toilet the year they happened to graduate high school or university.
They made corny, eye-rolling jokes. You winced at their use of outdated slang, yet there was nothing more cringe-inducing than hearing them bungle the new stuff.
You knew that when YOU grew up, you would never get that out of touch…
Well, I’m not sure if dorkiness happens suddenly or is more of a gradual decline, but I think my husband and I have made the leap. You want to know how I know? Because of what came out of my formerly-cool husband’s mouth last night…
We were all at the table eating dinner and Brontë was getting super obnoxious. John was tired after a long day’s work and she was resisting our every effort to quiet her shenanigans. She kept throwing a fit, wouldn’t eat, and absolutely refused to sit still.
John tells her to sit down and eat her dinner, and she bends around, howling and rolling on the floor. He picks her up and plants her on her seat, telling her to calm down and eat the food her mom worked so hard to make.
She grabs a forkful, puts it in her mouth, then pulls the fork out with the food still on it and starts belting out Twinkle Twinkle Little Star while slowly pushing her sister’s plate away from her until she started screaming.
John barks at her to “cut it out,” so she grabs a handful of food, looks him square in the eye, and splats it directly on the floor.
That’s it. He stands up, points at her, and in a booming, authoritative voice, yells “ARE YOU LOOKING FOR A TIME-OUT? BECAUSE I HAVE A POCKETFUL OF TIME-OUTS AND I’M JUST LOOKING FOR A CHANCE TO GIVE YOU ONE!”
Bronte quickly sits down to eat, saying, “I no want time-out, daddy.”
I think I was as shocked as she was, not just from John’s volume, but because that had to be the most dad-sounding thing that ever came out of his mouth. Suppressing my urge to break into giggling, I sat quietly, hoping his threat of overstuffed pockets would do the trick and planning to tease him about it after the kids were in bed.
Thing is, I get it now… how cool people turn into out-of-touch parents. Because once you have kids, you ‘re the one suddenly setting examples.
You can’t swear anymore, for instance. John and I used to swear. It’s a good way to make your point or provide emphasis.
But we had a rough time turning it off off and on when we needed to and you can’t have your toddlers running around dropping F-bombs. Delve into linguistic theories about the arbitrary nature of swear words all you like, but people just don’t react well to little kids with potty mouths. You have to clean up your act if you want to give them the right start in life.
But try being cool while yelling at someone without swearing. It’s harder than it sounds.
It kind of reminds me of my Army days, actually. In boot camp, we had to learn how to shoot, throw actual grenades, handle gas attacks, and skewer people with a bayonet, for example. The drill sergeants’ job was to intimidate us by insulting us and screaming at us all day long.
But despite its human-skishkabab tutorials, the military finds swear words offensive. They were completely off-limits to the drill sergeants, so we ended up with red-cheeked, burly men shouting “DOGGONE IT” in our faces while telling us to shut our pie-holes. We parents find ourselves in the similar position of having to invent G-rated intimidation techniques.
I find myself falling into a gray zone of slang, as well. I suspect we aren’t supposed to call things “off the hook” anymore, but I feel ridiculous saying it’s “on fleek.”
Life is different now. Instead of checking out new bands, you spend a ton of time playing happy kid music in the car and watching chirpy, cheerful cartoons to keep your little ones from imploding your eardrums. It’s tough to pull on your hipster pants with hours of Thomas the Train ringing in your head.
And since parenting is so exhausting, it’s harder now to work up enough give-a-crap energy to make sure you’re staying current with issues like bootleg vs. skinny jeans.
For example, yesterday, after wrestling with psychedelic kids for hours, I involuntary passed out on the couch. I couldn’t have been asleep for more than 15 minutes, but awoke to find Brontë digging into a twenty-pound bag of brown rice.
There was rice on the kitchen floor, rice on the kitchen table, rice in the living room, rice in the front room, rice on the coffee table, rice in front of the front door, rice… Rice, rice everywhere.
It made me want to write a Seussian-style poem about rice to torture Brontë with, since she hates rhyming so much. Rhyming is a great passive-aggressive technique in this house.
Instead, I tried to get her to help clean it up. I’ve found that kids make fewer messes when forced to help you deal with them. This method helped me finally put an end to the Great Poop Art epidemic of 2015, to give you a better idea.
But Brontë just wouldn’t cooperate. She kept dragging dolls out, rolling on the floor, and moaning. She even picked up handfuls of rice started throwing them.
Livid, I told her, “Brontë, you need to help me clean up the mess you made!”
Staring back, she yelled, “No!”
Taking a deep breath, I screamed, “YOU’RE ASKING FOR A ONE-WAY TICKET TO TIME-OUT LAND!”