Parting is such sweet sorry
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:38 | Comments Off

It started as a soft plea from the back seat halfway through the drive to day care this morning. “I don’t want to go school. I want to stay with you, Mommy.”

“I’d love to stay with you, babes, but vacation is over now.”

“I want to go home,” Big Guy replied, not angry, not insistent, but sad.

“I’d like to stay home, too, but I have to go to work,” I replied, striving for sympathetic yet upbeat.

“I want to go home,” he volleyed back.

The chorus looped endlessly — why did I ever think life would be better when he could talk and let me know what he was thinking?

By the time we hit downtown, genuine tears were flowing. We got out of the car, and his chest was heaving. A teacher had to peel Epoxy Boy off my shins so I could leave for the office.

And so it’s been for three straight days. Though Big Guy is quite the actor, this is no Made for Mama Drama. It’s real – it always is when it starts with a whimper instead of a roar.

Terror in the skies
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:37 | Comments Off

To the gentleman sitting in 20C on Delta Flight 1006 April 18, I apologize. If you’ll drop me a note, I’ll gladly cover any expense related to permanent ear damage.

Little Guy was having a bad day. A really bad day. Which meant most of the passengers on a Boeing 757 got to enjoy his misery for roughly four hours and 24 minutes between Sacramento and Atlanta. Mr. 20C, who was directly in front of Little Guy, bore the brunt of it. And there was nothing I could do.

Worst of all, I hadn’t even seen it coming.

My kids are veteran fliers – we usually go back east twice a year to visit family – so I wasn’t concerned. I remembered the first trip with Big Guy, a mere eight months old at the time, and got cocky. The man seated next to us tried every trick short of bribery to get the flight attendant to move him, but the plane was full and he was stuck. Big Guy was angelic, he congratulated us, and I wondered why people get so uptight about flying with kids.

Dressed for success
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:36 | Comments Off

It’s not often in recent years that I’ve wanted to stand and applaud in public. I used to do it in baseball stadiums, but my team’s been so bad in recent years I’ve gotten over that urge.

I’ve felt it twice recently, but managed to restrain myself. So I thought I’d do it here.

The first time was the day before Easter, at SaveMart on H Street. The woman was smartly dressed in denim capris and a white T-shirt, straight blond hair neat and smooth. I marveled at her ability to pull that off with two kids in tow.

A boy, who looked to be a bit over 1, was sitting in the cart, while a girl, maybe 3, was holding onto its side. It was the girl’s apparel that really caught my attention: A cotton-candy colored tulle fairy dress that screamed “I won’t quit wearing my Halloween costume,” with white flowered leggings underneath.

Way to go, Mom! You understand what I strive to live by: Don’t waste time on arguments that don’t matter.

A cut above
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:34 | Comments Off

I am all about encouraging diversity of options with my boys. Just as I would tell a daughter she can be anything she wants to be, so I tell my sons.

I don’t even blink when Big Guy twirls around the living room singing, “I’m a ballerina! I’m a ballerina!” His dad does, however, raise an eyebrow. The other day, when Big Guy announced he wanted to be a nurse, I was fine with that, though I suspect the new career path had more to do with a sadistic pleasure in the possibility of giving people shots than it did a desire to heal the sick.

I have to draw the line for the time being at hair dresser. As Lost My Place so accurately pointed out a few weeks ago in her blog, “people actually go to school to learn how to correctly use scissors to cut hair.”

Guess Big Guy thought he knew all he needed to know. A cousin on his father’s side is a hair dresser, and Big Guy’s seen him give many a cut in our kitchen.

So today, Big Guy opened up shop. One second he’s sitting at the table cutting paper into confetti – annoying to clean up, but acceptable. The next he’s leaving Little Guy a few ringlets short of Goldilocks.

And this year’s Oscar goes to …
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:33 | Comments Off

We had a dog when I was a kid named Missy, the greatest little terrier-traveling salesman mix ever born. She also was quite an actress.

One night, our neighbor’s much-bigger dog decided Missy would be his Scooby snack. He took what appeared to be a hunk out of her hip before she escaped. She crawled home, scratched the door, then collapsed, spent and bleeding.

Mom wrapped her quivering, whimpering body in a blanket, and she and Dad rushed to the vet, while three kids nervously paced.

When they returned an hour or so later, Mom carried the blanket, but no Missy. My heart stopped.

Then Missy bounced through door, wagging her little stub of a tail, walking in a C-shape, like she always did when she was busted.

The second they’d put her on the vet’s exam table, she had jumped up, magically healed, Mom said. The hunk out of her hip was a tiny cut.

For months after that, she’d limp every time we asked, “Oh, Missy, does your little leg hurt?” Except she kept switching the limp, confused about which little leg was supposed to hurt.

I think Big Guy has been channeling Missy this week. Tonight’s performance was the best.

Living with asthma
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:32 | Comments Off

My household budget is tight – whose isn’t with two kids in residence? – but the decision to spend an extra $41 a month was a no-brainer.

That’s the difference in cost between over-the-counter Claritin, at about $9, and prescription Zyrtec – the new antihistamine Big Guy’s doctor prescribed Monday. For almost three years, Claritin had worked to control his allergies, but not anymore. You could see it in the increased drippiness, the constant gunky cough.

My insurance company covers a whopping 19 cents of the cost of Zyrtec. Its Web site is nice enough to list a number of over-the-counter alternatives. All of which we’ve tried, none of which work for him.

If the issue were just a few sniffles, I would have let it go at the $9. For Big Guy, though, the situation is far more serious. He also has asthma, and allergy problems can trigger attacks.

So I swallowed hard and shelled out the $50. I’m lucky I can afford it. Many families can’t.

That’s why I wasn’t surprised at all to read an Associated Press story that very day that said only one in five asthmatic children has the disease under control.

Take me out to the bawl game
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:30 | Comments Off

The chance to watch a major leaguer in Modesto sent my fingers racing ahead my good sense. Buyer’s remorse came immediately after I bought tickets for Sunday’s Nuts game, though.

A 1 p.m. start that would disrupt Little Guy’s nap. An Easter Day game with kids jacked on sugar. Endless chasing of small people when I’d rather plop my butt in a seat and enjoy a game.

But I really wanted to see Randy Johnson, so my inner Pollyanna popped up. The last game we’d gone to featured minimal fussing and few hikes around the concourse. Maybe it would work.

I list self-delusion under “other skills” on my resume.

It was a great two innings. Little Guy sat patiently, and Big Guy was mesmerized by just about everything. The grass, the new scoreboard, Wally and Al. Mostly Wally, as long as he kept his distance. If the mascot came close, Big Guy would Velcro himself to me.

But, then: “Daddy, I’m hungry.” Never mind that we’d asked Big Guy 3,986 times before the game if he wanted to eat. Dad trudged off, hoping to buy a few innings’ peace. Meanwhile, storm clouds formed around Little Guy. Squirms turned into kicks, whimpers became wails. A kind couple across the aisle gave us a lollipop, which mollified him until the candy was gone. Dad and Big Guy returned, and I bolted.

That’s when the world decided to hate me.

If Sanjaya wins …
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:29 | Comments Off

When Ruben “Motown Mojo” Porras, one of my Bee “American Idol” partners, emailed me about KHOP deejay Geno Knight’s If Sanjaya Wins Web site, my first reaction was a throw-away line.

If Sanjaya wins, I’ll let the kids eat birthday cake for breakfast. No chance of either happening, of course.

I checked out the site after I got home and was laughing so hard my husband actually quit watching ESPN for a few minutes.

“If Sanjaya wins, I will pack up my children’s bag and send them to Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch for blanket’s surprise b-day slumber party,” wrote Michael from Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

“If Sanjaya wins, I will sit and watch ‘Glitter’ everyday for a year,” pledged Rick from California.

“If Sanjaya wins, I will join the Sunnis and Shiites in holding hands and singing kumbaya,” vowed Mike from Des Moines, Iowa.

And then I stopped. Because I remembered that the tall, gangly pony-hawk wearing butt of everyone’s jokes is somebody’s little boy. What if that were my kid? Could he take it? Could I take it?

A toy that had to go
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:28 | Comments Off

I killed a toy tonight, just for the pure pleasure of seeing it die.

It wasn’t my first toyicide, but it’s the first I won’t be able to get out of on an insanity plea.

I don’t advocate senseless violence against toys. As a character witness, I’ll call the drums that two (former) friends bought Big Guy for Christmas. I tolerate the drums, because they have some redeeming value, no matter how high they push my Tylenol tab.

Not so Ready Freddie, a “learning robot” with a chirpy voice, maniacal plastic grin, touchpad belly and cell phone.

“Hi! I’m Ready Freddy! Do you want to (pause as toy brain processes) tie my shoe?”

No, but I would love to tear you limb from plastic limb.

He came to our home a hand-me-down from a parent no doubt eager to rid herself of the problem but lacking the guts to put Freddie out of my misery. His vile nature was quickly apparent.

Bad, bad day care kids!
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:27 | Comments Off

To children entering kindergarten in 2008, let me apologize now. Seems my heathen brat is going to disrupt your education for years to come.

Or so recent headlines would have you think.

“Poor behavior is linked to time in day care” screamed the New York Times. “Study: Day care can lead to bad behavior,” proclaimed the Salt Lake Tribune.

The chilling news makes me want to hang my head in abject shame for sending my children to a place that’s a cross between “The Jungle” and “Lord of the Flies.”

Problem: Once you look beyond the headline, the news isn’t chilling.

Falsely accused?
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:26 | Comments Off

It’s always easy to jump to conclusions and assume evil intent when the motive is pure. I was reminded of that recently with Little Guy.

For some reason, I’ve felt from the start that I understood Little Guy pretty well. Maybe it’s because he and I are a lot alike, temperament-wise. We’ll both take a ton of grief from people before we finally break bad on them.

That’s exactly what I thought was happening one morning a few months back.

I was in the kitchen baking cupcakes for a birthday party, while my husband was busy lying on the couch, watching an important 15-year-old basketball game on ESPN Classic. Granted, it was a good game, but I’m sure I’ve mentioned at least a few times over the years that Kentucky lost and that’s why I can’t stand Christian Laettner and Duke. Maybe he wasn’t listening.

Catching both parental units otherwise occupied, Little Guy seized the opening.

I finished the cupcakes just in time to see him walk from Big Guy’s room to his own and stuff an armful of socks in the diaper pail. What on Earth?

Evil lurking in the libraries
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:24 | Comments Off

In a few years, once the horror of what I almost did to my children passes, I’ll laugh at my parenting naïveté. But not now, while I’m shell-shocked at the gravity of my mistake, one that almost permanently damaged my little innocents.

See, I had always thought books were good things, and I believed “Guess How Much I Love You” was one of the best.

It’s a sweet, simple story of love between a father rabbit and his son. The two bounce through meadows and along rivers, each trying to out-bounce and out-love the other as Little Nutbrown Hare pulls out every trick in the little boy book on avoiding bedtime. Finally, he falls asleep and Big Nutbrown Hare nestles beside him and whispers, “I love you right up the moon and back.”

The only criticism I had of the book was my pronunciation problem. Until I got used to reading it aloud, daddy rabbit’s name often came out “Big Buttbrown Hare.” Not exactly the sentiment the author intended.

Or maybe he did. I’m much more enlightened now that I’ve read the truth about the book on’s review area.

I plead guilty, your honor
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:23 | Comments Off

Mornings are the worst for mommy guilt.

I tiptoe into Little Guy’s room and see his round rump up in the air – he sleeps on his knees, El wrapped around him, the stuffed elephant head and the curly blond one side by side. He’s so throat-catchingly beautiful that it causes the first knot of the day to clump up in my stomach. He’s just a baby. Babies deserve to sleep.

It’s dark, except for the nightlight, so I grope for his clothes, dreading the moment. No puttering left to do, I go to his bed and caress his back. “Hey, babes, it’s good morning time,” I whisper. He snuggles into my shoulder as I pick him up. No sign of smile until he’s diapered and dressed.

We head down the hall to Big Guy’s room, where the scene is similar. Except Big Guy knows enough words to protest. “No, Mommy, don’t wanna get up. Wanna stay home.” “Yes, love, so do I, but I have to go to work today.”

Big Guy can pretty much clothe and shod himself, but how quickly it happens and how snappish I get depends on how many times he stops to stare off into space. “Get your shoes on NOW or your feet are going to get mighty cold walking to the car,” I growl.

Look who’s talking!
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:22 | Comments Off

For me, the most exciting stage of development is speech.

Sure, walking is a big thing, but a toddler still seems like a baby, strolling around with that chubby little diaper-butted waddle.

Once they’re talking, though, they stop being your baby and turn into a tiny person. A person who can clearly communicate wants, needs and moods, which can be good and bad.

Little Guy has been a pretty good communicator all along. He was only about eight months old when he started pointing and grunting at the fruit bowl on the kitchen table. Primitive, but he made his point.

But now he’s turning into quite a blabbermouth.

No surprise there. My grandfather was a blabbermouth, my dad is a blabbermouth, my brother is a blabbermouth, Big Guy is a blabbermouth and, while not in their league, I can hold my own.

With that gene pool, no wonder Little Guy chatters incessantly. Problem is, I have no clue what he’s saying 90 percent of the time. When he starts his excited mile-a-minute blabbing, I just nod and reply with an enthusiastic “I know,” praying I haven’t just agreed to buy him a pony.

Male chauvenist piglet
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:21 | Comments Off

Most days, I think I’m raising fairly enlightened males. Both love to help with laundry and dishes – it likely has something to do with getting to play in water, but I’ll take it.

Big Guy always picks up his socks, carries his dishes to the sink after meals and never leaves his underwear on the bathroom floor. Oh, and he remembers to puts down the toilet seat. Loves chick flicks as well.

He went through a recent two weeks when “The Little Mermaid” was his favorite movie, though he’s moved on, to “Mulan.” Even better!

But just as all the self-congratulatory back-patting was about to dislocate my shoulder, lightening struck.

During the drive to work one morning, as we headed into downtown, we were talking about my office and bosses.

“Do you have a boss? Big Guy asked.

“Yes, I have a boss, but I am a boss, too,” I replied.

“You can’t be a boss. You’re a girl.”

9to5to9: Who asked you anyway?
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:19 | Comments Off

It must have been great to be Eve. Lucky girl didn’t have anyone to give her parenting advice.

These days, everyone’s a critic. Whether it’s a grandmom or a stranger who once thumbed through a parenting book, you can bet they know more than you.

Using disposable diapers? Global warming’s your fault. Jarred baby food? Might as well put Drano in your little darling’s dish. Baby’s sleeping by himself in that big, lonely room? He’ll never have stable relationships.

And militants on all sides of every issue will tell you – no, scream at you – that they’re right and you’re screwing up your kid.

It’s called Mommy Wars – or

sanctimommy. Take your pick, but please, let’s not argue about it

Learning to be 4
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:18 | Comments Off

When a preschool teacher heads toward you, she’s usually not coming to tell you your kid played nice and listened all day. With Big Guy, I’ve had plenty of teachers head toward me in the past year.

Not that he’s always a brat – more like Dr. Freckle/ Mr. Make Mommy Wanna Hide.

At times, he can be the most cheerful, cooperative 3-year-old on earth. He also can be an over-the-top, incessantly chatty, whirling dervish. Those are some of the things I love most about him.

They’re also the things that get on my last nerve, particularly when you throw in a side order of stubborn. So I understand the need to rein him in – heck, I’ve been tempted to hogtie and gag him. And

The electronic box of enlightenment
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:17 | Comments Off

Once upon a time, in a land long ago with only two broadcast channels that you had to get off the couch to change, there lived a sad little girl. Her family had a television – color, even! – but cartoons were confined to Saturday mornings and a half-hour weekday afternoons.

It was a miserable existence in a desolate land.

The child was forced to set up a play kitchen, from which she prepared scrumptious air cakes. In the summer, she and her friends were reduced to performing backyard concerts – complete with choreography and costumes — for afternoons on end. And as night fell, Red Rover would hold dozens of children hostage in front yards, the torture ending only when parents forced the pitiful creatures indoors.


Survivor: Daylight savings time
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:16 | Comments Off

It’s amazing the tricks your mind can play. Like this morning, when Big Guy bounced into my bed at 8:30, according to the cable box. Wow. Ten hours’ sleep. No wonder I’m so refreshed!

Euphoria lasted as far as the kitchen, where it was 7:30. Then I remembered. The cable box adjusts itself for daylight savings time. Microwaves do not. Drat. I didn’t get extra sleep. Where are the coffee filters …

It’s amazing, too, that I could forget something I read a story about early onset daylight savings time.

Boon: I wouldn’t call myself a fanatical environmentalist, but I like to do my part. And if extra weeks of daylight-saving time would help, fine.

That was normal-person thinking. Soon Mommy thinking took over

You can’t get sick — you’re a mommy!
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:15 | Comments Off

Tonight’s episode of “9 to 5 to 9″ is being pre-empted by a sniveling, whiny pity party. Please tune it at the regular time and URL Sunday, when “9 to 5 to 9″ will return with a less self-absorbed episode.

I felt cruddy all day today. My eyelids were sandpaper, my nose was triple its usual, and an alien kept pounding on my forehead, trying to escape. Tomorrow morning I’ll have whiplash.

It was nothing fatal. Just an allergy attack. Except I don’t have little allergy attacks – I have sneeze tsunamis. Strings of five or six head-snapping, body-rocking spasms at a time. No kidding — I once spent months seeing a chiropractor after I threw out my back during a sneezing fit.

I ah-chooed my

Food fight!
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:13 | Comments Off

The Mupcake Scam started around Halloween.

I had made muffins for a party and, just for fun and to pretend I still had time to decorate pastries, I topped each with a squiggle of purple icing and a smattering of ghost sprinkles. I put the leftovers on a cake plate, figuring I’d take them to work.

It took Big Guy 3.6 seconds to lock on the next morning.

“Cupcakes! I want cupcakes!”

Though I hadn’t finished my first cup of coffee, I had enough wits about me to run with it.”

“Cupcakes for breakfast? I don’t think so.”

“Please, Mommy, pleeeeeeeease!””

“Oh, all right. But only this once.””

Every morning since, he’s had mupcakes. Mupcakes made with evil things. Banana or pumpkin. Whole-wheat or graham flour. Low sugar and low fat.

I’m the baby — gotta love me!
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:12 | Comments Off

Do not dump the stroller with your brother in it!

Take your hands off your brother’s throat right now!

Please don’t feed Little Guy dirt.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of Big Guy as the criminal, Little Guy as the victim. In the early months, it’s not without reason. Little Guy is helpless, and Big Guy resents That Baby Who Ruined His Life. He even used to call him That Baby. “Mommy, please put That Baby down!”

But what happened at our neighborhood park a few hours ago belongs in the Baby Worship Hall of Fame.

A girl, probably 10 or 11, was pushing her little sister in a swing when the younger girl slipped from the seat, hitting her chin on the way down. “Oh

The reality of reality discipline
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:10 | Comments Off

I started with “The Happiest Toddler on the Block” and quit after “I’m OK, You’re a Brat”.

The premise of “Happiest Toddler:” Kids are cavepeople, without verbal and coping skills needed in our world. I’ll buy that. But then it suggests going caveman back at them, getting as loud and as animated as they do.

It’s supposed to empathetic. Problem: Big Guy wanted to be a bigger and better caveman, amping up the tantrum every time I tried it. Guess he took it as a challenge.

The premise of “I’m OK:” Some children really are difficult, and that’s not your fault. True, and strangely comforting. But then there’s the part about how some people just aren’t cut out to be parents. Oh my God!

The cookie conundrum
Sun, 1/06/08 – 19:07 | Comments Off

It was 10 p.m. Valentine’s Day eve, and I was having a stare-down with 48 naked heart-shaped cookies. They needed icing – pink icing to be exact, with pink and purple sprinkles, as per Big Guy’s request – for a preschool party the next day. But the question was, how?

I did some quick calculations. It takes two minutes per cookie to spread frosting with a knife. With a decorating bag, though, I could do five cookies in two minutes. Finish in an hour and a half, or take less than 20 minutes and get an extra hour’s sleep? Not a tough call – I was near brain-dead, but not totally gone. I hunted my kitchen stool (where DID I hide it from the kids?)

Little Guy and lovey obsession
Sun, 1/06/08 – 18:38 | Comments Off

Some kids easily give up their blankies, lovies, whatever. I was that type, heartlessly abandoning blanky around age 3 or 4.

There are others who hold on until the object of the obsession is in so many shreds that continued cuddling is impossible. My older brother falls into that category. I think the last shards of his blanky went on his honeymoon.

Seems that Little Guy has

A really useful recall
Sun, 1/06/08 – 17:00 | Comments Off

Originally published June 13, 2007,

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has recalled 1.5 million Thomas & Friends toys, imported and distributed by the RC2 Corporation, because paint on the toys contains lead that can be toxic if ingested. No injuries have been reported.

The recall includes wooden vehicles, buildings and other train set parts sold from January 2005 through June 2007.

More information is available at the Consumer Product