garlic WHAT?

I know I make a lot of confessions on the pages of this blog, so I hope you don’t mind if I add another.

The Parents are terrible (terrible!) about having The Kidling help around the house. Chores–or “chewers” to The Kidling–are far more of a chewer for us to manage than to simply do the damn thing ourselves.

I know, I know: responsibility, blah blah. Contribute to the family, blah blah. Feeling helpful is good for self-esteem, blah blah. I am well aware of every argument in favor of giving children chewers. Hell, I even agree. But that doesn’t stop me from not being the mother in practice that I wish I were in theory.

Sorry to disappoint, dear readers.

Now, we haven’t eschewed chewers completely; rather, we have taken the path of least resistance. We have The Kidling do the things that won’t make us lose our marbles if they aren’t done right/quickly/immediately. The Kidling “helps” put away dishes and gets out napkins and utensils at dinner time, but that constitutes almost every item on our menu of chewers. The only other thing we consistently ask for The Kidling’s help doing is fetching things from our wee garden.

The Family has a modest vegetable garden in the back yard. It is far smaller than usual this year because The Dog is getting old and didn’t eat all of the rabbits when they were babies this year.


Six tomato plants, some peppers, and some herbs are the only plants this year that survived the adorable little thieves that can’t stay away from The Family’s buffet. While making dinner, I often send The Kidling out to harvest basil and garlic chives from our little patch of dirt. I asked my dear daughter to bring me garlic chives last weekend and she looked at me oddly.

“Why’s it called chives? Why’s it called chives? Chives sounds like vagina. Like it’s a vagina kind of plant that pees.”

Um… okay.

I tried to let that one slide without much reaction (though I worry about the note that will come home from The Kidling’s kindergarten teacher when they work on the long “I” sound).

Fast forward to tonight’s dinner prep. I made a summer staple around here, caprese pasta. The Dada got to do the basil-harvesting honors, and I think The Kidling felt left out. Just before everything was ready, she wanted to make sure I had everything I needed, offering, “Do you need some ‘ginas?”

Choking back a giggle, I confirmed that that would be the perfect addition to our meal.

greetings from Nanaland (or Papaville, as the case may be)

First of all, apologies. My lack of kidling-isms this week is due to my lack of The Kidling. She has spent the past few days in Nanaland, a place with sunshine, flowers, dessert, extra bedtime stories, field trips, constant attention, and puppies.

Fine, there’s really only one puppy. Whatever.

Alas, just when I was starting to seriously lament the lack of silliness in my life, I chatted with The Nana on the phone. She relayed a few stories that are classic Alice. The first was at dinner time. Alice was starving and cleared her plate of tilapia, fresh green beans, cottage cheese, and who knows what else. Apparently we don’t feed her enough at home. The Nana commented on her appetite, assuming that The Kidling must have just been delighted with the offerings. Nope.

Regarding those fresh green beans, Alice told The Nana, “I thought they were yucky, but sometimes I eat yucky things because I know they’re good for me.” 

That’s my girl.

Now, The Papa and The Nana have had The Kidling for several nights, so you can bet there is another story where that one came from. As you know, dear readers, The Kidling is working on becoming a reader herself. She sounds out everything (yes, everything) and loves to talk about letters and sounds. As they all discussed phonics, Alice told her grandparents, “I say ‘sink,’ but I don’t mean like in water. I mean I use my brain. … It’s hard to make that sound without my front tooth!”

Indeed it is. And guess what? We get my toothless, sinking, health food eater back tonight. Whew!

just sound it out

We encourage The Kidling to ask good, thoughtful questions and we do our best to answer them with age-appropriate candor. As a pre-reader, we also encourage her to sound out words.

I somehow neglected to see the potential for those two things combined to bite us in our asses.


The Kidling and I were at the local school’s playground one evening in early spring. We ran into a delightful third grade neighbor boy–a bona fide big kid–who invited her to join in a game with a classmate and him. My heart swelled at her joy at being included as well as with my own admiration of those fantastic boys’ parents who taught them to be so gracious to a pre-schooler.

Once my heart settled (seriously, Christine. Get it under control), I started chatting with the other parents. They were all lovely and amazing and I want to be their best friends forever. Like all playground conversations, the topic eventually turned to the question of how to talk to children about the more delicate parts of human reproduction.

What? That isn’t what your playground small talk typically covers?


As I was saying… one of the older, wiser moms suggested a great book, “It’s So Amazing.” The authors cover all aspects of human reproduction in a frank, non-threatening way. I knew I would forget if I didn’t act soon, so I picked it up the next time we were at the library. Even though we have covered a fair amount of the subject matter here at The House, The Kidling was fascinated by the book. She asked for a different chapter every night until the book was due. And yes, we did skip come chapters. She is only five.

Fast forward.

We were on our way to one of Our Town’s far-too-many-per-capita frozen yogurt shops Saturday. The Kidling, being a good kidling, began to sound out words to figure out how they are spelled, when suddenly we heard:

“Sss. Buh. Urr. Mmm.  Sss. Buh. Urr. Mmm.  Sss. Buh. Urr. Mmm. Sssssssss. Buh. Buh. Buh. Buh. Urrrrrr. Urrrrrr. Mmmmmmm. Sperm. Ssssspeeeeerrrrrrmmm. Sperm. Sss. Sperm. Sss. Sss. Buh. Buh. Buh. Sperm. Ssssssssperm. Sss. Buh. Buh. Buh. Buh. Buh. Urm…”*

Yes, this went on and on (and on). No, no amount of telling her that the second letter is “P” did any good. And yes, she had moved on to another word by the time we got to the yogurt store.

It’s so amazing.


* I am religious about quote accuracy, so let me say that I cannot guarantee whether this is, in fact, the precise order in which The Kidling focused on the five sounds in the word “sperm.” But you get the idea.

phonics gone wrong

The Kidling started pre-school this fall and positively adores it. Her teacher (who is pretty terrific) labeled each of their little cubbies with the student’s name and an animal that begins with the same letter. Clever, no?

Alice gets to be an ant.

So earlier this week when Alice was showing me a piece of construction paper cluttered with no fewer than 45 stickers work of art, I wasn’t at all surprised when she began her story about the ant sticker front and center on the page.

Alice: (point to a picture she made at preschool that morning) I put an ant on there because A starts with ant.* And Alice. And apple. And crocodile!

The Mama: Do you mean alligator?

Alice: Yeah! And Maddie starts with the same letter as gorilla!

The Mama: You mean monkey?

Alice: No, gorilla. (sprints to the bathroom. Whilst using the toilet, continues sounding out words) Guh Guh Maddie. Guh Guh Guh Guh Guh Guh Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmmaa  Mmmaddie.

And she remained convinced. She also maintains she doesn’t learn anything at school. I beg to differ.


* A starts with ant, ant starts with A… close enough.