this just sucks

The Kidling: Dad, can I have this lemon Starburst?

The Dada: Sure.

The Kidling: (unwraps neon square. Puts Starburst in mouth. Thirty seconds pass) This lemon sucks.

The Dada: (in disbelief) What did you say?

The Kidling: (repeats herself) This lemon sucks.

The Dada: (thinking The Kidling has been surprised by an unexpected banana Starburst or some similarly disappointing flavor, says sternly) That is not a nice thing to say. You know we don’t say that, right?

The Kidling: Why?

The Dada: Did you hear that from a bigger kid at your summer program?

The Kidling: (solemnly) Yeah.

The Dada: I see. Well, it’s another way of saying that something isn’t very good.

The Kidling: No, Dad. I was saying it’s in my mouth and I’m sucking.

You know I am obsessive about quote accuracy, so let me ensure we are all on the same page here. This exchange occurred while The Mama was traveling for work. Now, while The Dada has an impressive memory, he didn’t write it down.

Notice I said impressive, not obsessive? The former describes The Dada whereas the latter describes… well… you know. Don’t make me say it. Alas, I must be away from The Family now and then. This means I sacrifice the occasional story to the gods of employment.

Yeah, I know. It sucks.

know your limits

You might recall that dinner time can be a struggle at The Kidling’s house.

What’s that you say? You weren’t aware of that? You thought The Kidling was a perfect angel who sits politely at the table, eats every vegetable The Mama places in front of her, chews with her mouth closed, sits still, eats until she is full, thanks me for the delicious meal, asks to be excused, then clears her plate without being asked? Let me remedy that misconception.

As I wasn’t really saying. Dinner time + The Kidling = Struggle.

I hope you are paying attention, because there will be a quiz… if I can ever get around to finishing this story.

The Family’s dinner time rules—that eating and conversation are the only two activities acceptable for executing during meal time—are frequently ignored. More often, though, they aren’t ignored, exactly. No, the balance is just disproportionately skewed toward chatter.

Lots and lots of chatter.

Chatter chatter chatter chatter chatter.

So one evening in mid-January when The Kidling paused her dinner, fork in hand, to tell me what was going through her head, I wasn’t at all surprised by the interruption

What did surprise me, though, was what was going through her head. On this evening, Alice told me, “I’m never going to point this at you. I’m never ever going to kill you. I never want to be a pirate… but I do want to find gold! I’m not going to steal it, though.”

At least she knows her limits.

astronomy, kidling style

I’m not sure what they are teaching The Kidling in pre-school these days, but she appears to be far ahead of where I was at the tender ago of four. Case in point, this dinner table conversation from late last week:

Alice: Did you know Pluto was once a planet?

The Mama: Yes, it was once, but now it isn’t.*

Alice: Yeah. Who lived on it?

The Mama: No one.

Alice: (shocked) Huh?

The Mama: Alice, of all the other planets, how many do you think have people?

Alice: Lots of them.

The Mama: Actually, Alice, none of them. Earth is the only planet with people.

Alice: (again, shocked) Huh? But this is a very big planet so there is room for all the people. (enormous belch) Excuse me!

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* Fine, so this isn’t technically accurate. It isn’t like Pluto itself actually changed. The poor thing just had its membership in the planet club revoked. As such, a proper response would have been “Astronomers once thought Pluto was a planet, but now they know it isn’t.”

I sure as hell wasn’t going to tell Alice it is a dwarf planet. I would have been stuck explaining that a dwarf planet is a planet of abnormally small stature.

The Mama is a cheater

So, the fine folks at WordPress saw Tuesday’s post fit to Freshly Press. Which is awesome. Because some of you lovely readers might be here for the first or second time today, I’m going to cheat.

Cheater, cheater, pumpkin eater.

This post, originally posted this spring as sh*t my kid says, gives a pretty good picture of what life is like for The Family. So what are you waiting for? Get to reading!

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The Family has a pretty strict honesty policy (detailed in the footnote here. Yes, the book of alice occasionally uses footnotes. Apologies). This can make life difficult, or at the very least, awkward. The Kidling is very curious and asks questions about everything.

Really. Everything.

I’m usually prepared for the type of question she will ask. She wants to know why things work, how things work, why people behave certain ways… Not surprisingly, she also asks about why people look certain ways. This is not a big deal, typically. I’m usually spared the truly embarrassing moments, in part because she just doesn’t know to ask those questions. Alas, because I know The Kidling as well as I do, I wait for the question armed with the perfect, honest-but-kind response. For example, last week a friend’s dog got out and the lovely woman who brought the dog back had a beard and moustache. Not just a little shadow, but genuine facial hair. The woman was fantastic and clearly comfortable in her own skin, so when Alice said (loudly), “Mom! I want to tell you something funny. That girl has a beard,” I was perfectly confident responding simply, “Yes, she does. Everyone looks different, sweetie.” She isn’t too invested in gender roles (says the mother whose kid pointed out—loudly—a stranger’s nonconformance), so I figured that was all she needed. I was right. She went right back to her project with nary a thought on facial hair.

Sometimes, though, she kind of gets me.

Just Thursday we were at Kmart and she inquired—loudly—regarding the woman in front of us, “Mom? Is that a boy?” The woman was not amused. I said—loudly—in reply, “Of course not, sweetie! (nervous laughter) Of course she’s a woman! Remember when you thought I was a boy? Remember when I cut my hair and you thought I was a boy?”

Well, it turned out that if I had just shut the hell up, Alice would have explained her reasoning without all of The Mama’s hemming and hawing and attempts to soothe a bruised ego. She went on, “But she has a very deep voice.” And she did. So does Alice, so we talked about different types of voices and that was that.

And, of course, sometimes she really gets me. Like Sunday, when we were running errands at Target. I had run into a friend and we were chatting when “a person of abnormally small stature” walked by.*  Merriam-Webster wasn’t particularly helpful in producing an adequate synonym for me, so I quote their definition. Can you believe it suggested pee wee, pygmy, runt, AND shrimp!?! Really? Let’s substitute offensive words for other offensive words. Thanks, folks.

Anyway, the very small adult walked by and Alice was frantically—and loudly—trying to get my attention (have you noticed a theme here?):

Alice: Mom! Mom! Who is that?! Mom! Who is that?

The Mama: (I knew exactly who she was talking about, but didn’t want to make the idea of the “other” so concrete by knowing without being told) Who, Alice?

Alice: Who is that? That guy?

The Mama: Which guy?

Alice: (points) Is that a real-life person?

The Mama: Yes, Alice. Of course he is a real person.

Alice: I thought he was a mascot.

The Mama: (Fuck!)

Now, readers, pardon me for indulging in the exact thought I had at that moment, but seriously. I was completely prepared to talk to The Kidling about very small people, very large people, freckles, wrinkles, red hair, facial hair, underarm hair, skin color, eye color, wheel chairs, walkers, and the myriad ways in which people can be physically different. I was not, however, prepared to talk about mascots.

Fuck.

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* http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dwarf?show=0&t=1332734784 Sorry, dear readers. A JD makes a gal pretty paranoid about proper attribution.

thursday morning gross-out

“I just passed a soft toot.* That means I have to go to the bathroom.”

-Alice Munchkin Kidling

October 21, 2012

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* Known vernacularly as a shart. I know. I am a horrible human being and Alice will refuse to clean the drool off my chin in old age as a direct result of this post.

it’s all still there

The Kidling and Target have a pact. Even though The Mama requires that she tend to her business prior to commencing shopping (or sit her scrawny little kidling butt on the toilet and try to tend to said business), she always, always, always must pee when we are in the back of the store.

I do believe I have kvetched about this before.

This weekend she began to wiggle in the middle of the store. Huh. I ignored the first half-dozen or so takes. Somewhere around Potty Dance Take 8, I asked, “Do you need to use the toilet, Alice?”

“No,” she replied.

Fair enough. The shopping continued. We were looking at storage canisters when the wiggling began again. I inquired a second time and was informed that it wasn’t the potty dance I was witnessing, rather, “I’m just dancing to the music.” In other words, a regular dance.

Fair enough. I continued my comparison: round or square, stackable or not, glass or ceramic? Then—

“Mom,” Alice cried out, “I have to go right now!”

Her urgency worried me, so of course I asked, “Did you have an accident?!”

“No,” Alice assured me calmly, “It’s all still up in my vagina.”

And thank god for that.

redecorating and relocating

Dear readers, you would think I’d be used to it by now, wouldn’t you?

The conversations that make hairpin turns… twisting, flipping, and spinning… ending on the other side of the globe from where they started? Still they always catch me by surprise, and for that I am grateful. Because they never cease to elicit fits of laughter and eruptions of giggles.

Alice: (sitting on the edge of the tub, washing her hands) Maybe we should move the bathtub?

The Mama: To where?

Alice: Besides— Oh, nothing— (growls) What were we talking about anyway?

The Mama: The tub.

Alice: Oh yeah. Maybe we should move our tub upstairs to the other mini-room,* because I get kind of squashed in here.

Now, can you please politely get out of here? Now that we’re done with our conversation?

(The Mama exits)

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* We have extraordinarily small bathrooms. Henceforth, I shall refer to them as “The Mini-rooms.”

I learned how to parent reading The Huffington Post

Can a person interrupt herself? If so, then I interrupt my regular programming with an atypical post. (Did you read that in an announcer’s voice? No? Then go back and read it again. Seriously. Now.)

Monday, I read this article by Melissa Sher on HuffPost Parents. If you aren’t the link-following type, then I will summarize:

Melissa told a story of a particularly frustrating morning at home. Nothing was going as it was intended, and conclusions were jumped to. Admonishing herself, she recalled a friend’s recent Facebook post about her own daughter:

“Maggie comes to me all excited and proud. She then proceeds to break a brand-new crayon in two. ‘Maggie!’ I say, ‘Why in the world did you just break a brand-new crayon?!’ And she looks at me all wide-eyed but the joy and pride that was there a second ago is gone. And then she burst into tears, saying between her sniffles, ‘I just wanted to show you how strong I was!'”

Which is to say:

  • Don’t freak out about little things.
  • Don’t assume the worst.
  • Don’t crush your child’s spirit because you are busy.

Okay, so that is offensively reductionist, but you are the one who refused to click the link. You reap what you sow.

Being the social media-loving mama I am, I shared this story on my personal Facebook timeline, with the comment, “I should probably read this every day. Every single day.” (Yes, I repeat myself for effect in real life, too. God I am an exhausting human being.)

THE VERY NEXT DAY—not later in the week, not next month, not around the holidays—a situation like the one Melissa Sher described came to my attention for the first time. I very nearly said that it happened for the first time, but I doubt that to be the case. I was likely just ignorant of the circumstances on previous occasions.

The Kidling, as usual, was displaying less-than-stellar dinner table manners. I calmly told her to stop making “gross sounds” at the dinner table. She changed to a new sound, but persisted. So, of course, to time out she went.

After a few minutes, I went to talk with her about it. Any guesses what she told me? Earnestly she said, “But Mom, I wasn’t making gross sounds. That was part of my song. I was making music.”

And I had humble pie for dessert.