The Evil Queen, Chicken and Dumplings, and Snow “One More” Bite

The boys started asking for chicken and dumplings two days ago…

Asking?  Not really.  More like begging.

But it’s summer and we’re in Florida.  It’s freaking hotter than Hades up in here.  I was hoping they’d just forget about it.  Nope.  Not that lucky.

I get it… shredded chicken, creamy sauce, yummy dumplings. Amazing. I make a mean Chicken and Dumplings.

So tonight (when they were at soccer practice) I began the process.

It’s not that chicken and dumplings is difficult to execute.  It’s not even that chicken and dumplings is super labor intensive… under normal circumstances.  But I have 3 kids.  And there is nothing normal about having 3 kids and trying to make meals from scratch.

The 9-year-old loves and eats everything.  Always with a please and a thank you.  I would travel the world with Boy Wonder.  And my first stop would be Japan or India.  Boy Wonder would make us proud in any culinary situation.  His love of food is the reason I learned to cook.  And he’s pretty appreciative of my skills.

The Middle Monkey isn’t a fantastic eater.  Compared to other kids his age he eats wonderfully… but by our family standards?  He’s a shitty eater.  Unless he wants to eat…  and since he’s been asking for chicken and dumplings for days I thought this was a no brainer.  But now… now??  Not so much.  I get it.  He’s 3.   It’s all about power and control when you’re 3.  3 year old’s are like mini Napoleon.

We are all almost done with dinner and of course, Middle Monkey is starting his normal shit “I don’t like chicken.  I don’t want this bite.  I don’t like vegetables.”  It’s enough to make a sane man crazy.

My poor Hubby.  He is the sane man.  He’s rational, he’s all heart and he loves his family.  And while he’s sitting next to Middle Monkey saying “Have two more bites and then one more bite.”  This is our normal coercion eating tactic with this child.  I’m in the kitchen doing the dishes (already fed up) saying

“Just have him eat.  Stop spooning it for him… Jeez.  If he doesn’t want it that’s fine.  No desert then.” 

I’m not the sane one.  I’ve lost my patience long ago.  I’m the Pink Floyd parent… “If you don’t eat your meat you can’t have any pudding.”

I guess everyone has a breaking point. Cause that’s when Hubby broke.  It’s been awhile since I’ve seen him angry..

“I’m tired of you not eating!  I’m tired of Mommy being mad!  You can just go to bed RIGHT NOW!”

And with lighting speed Daddy hauled Middle Monkey off to his room and put him in a time out.  You could hear the 3-year-old scream as he closed the door.

He saw the look of unhappiness on my face right away…

“What? This is ridiculous! You’re right. I get it.”

It’s not about being right. It’s about us not babying him.

“That’s why I finally said screw this.”

I know that babe, but you blamed it on me.

“I what? That’s insane!”

You said, “I’m tired of mommy being mad!”

“Well, I am. And you most definitely are.”

Yes, you are right on that, I am over this dinnertime bullshit dance he does. A dance that we let him do. But one minute you’re helping spoon-feed him and playing Lets Make a Deal, and the next… the next you banish him.

“Jeez, I did do that, didn’t I?”

Yup. So now I’m the Evil Queen and he’s Snow “one more” Bite.

“Good lord… I get it. I’ll go get the prince.”

Fingers crossed that dinnertime goes a bit better tomorrow evening.

The story of Snow White has been retold a million times over.

I’m not really a fan of fairy tales.

 

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The Nap Drop and How I’ve Screwed Myself This Summer

Parenting doesn’t come with a manual.  Period.

When I’ve tried to describe parenting to people without kids I often use the example of a scientist.  Each kid at each different stage of their life is almost like coming up with a hypothesis and trying to either prove or disprove said theory.  Everyday you suit up in your lab coat (yoga pants), you have your Bunsen burners (microwave) and your beakers (bottles of formula) and you keep meticulous notes (post-it’s piled on the refrigerator door) as to your findings.

Dropping my 3-year-old’s nap this summer was a bad idea.  It was a hypothesis that has been completely disproved by my toddlers personality late in the day.  It is entirely my fault and I will take one for the team on this.

He was not ready.

He is not ready.

But the problem with kids, unlike scientific data… is that they are human beings.  You can only manipulate kids so far, while scientific findings can be skewed to the left or the right.  And this ain’t G.I. Jane. We can’t “un-ring” that bell.  I will never be able to get nap time back now that he has seen the no-nap world.

When we started planning for the summer we decided to send both of our older kids to the same day camp.  The 9-year-old loves this camp and it just seemed like the logical and proximate choice for his little brother as well.

Only problem, camp ends at 3:45… which is 45 minutes after my toddler would usually start his nap.

“No problem”, I said.  “He can handle it”, I said.

Silly mommy, naps are for 3-year-olds.

He’s now a month into camp and although he loves being a big boy and all his new friends he comes home from his day cranky and exhausted.  Trying to get him to lay down and relax at 4 in the afternoon is pointless and futile.  He won’t do it.  A couple of times he’s passed out on the ride home but I can count those instances on one hand.  And when he has fallen asleep in the car he has only once stayed asleep when I brought him into the house.

In so many words… I’m fucked.

The afternoon nap was a win/win situation for everyone involved. The toddler got much-needed rest, and woke up ready to wreak havoc on the rest of us with a smile on his face.  I had 2 much-needed hours of time without him.  I was able to accomplish so much in the afternoon.  I will look back on the time of nap as a peaceful time, before I marred the kingdom with my foolish dreams where I wasn’t a captive in my own home from 3 to 5PM.

All I can do now is pass on the wisdom of my idiocy to you.  Please, please, please… for the love of all things holy, hear my cry (actually, at this point it’s more of a sob mixed with a wail followed by a gulp of wine).

If you are still blessed enough to have a napping child… hold onto this time with a fierce grip. Heed the words of Jack from the Titanic and “don’t let go”.  Screw Frozen… and “don’t let it go”.  I’m telling you this because I don’t want anyone to go through the evenings of crying and whining and complete exhaustion I’m going through right now.  I’m telling you this because no sane person should have to deal with a 3-year-old attached to your leg, crying, “DADDY!!!! DAAAAADDDYYY!! I WANT DAAAAADDDDY!!!” over and over again for 45 minutes as you try to roast a chicken and your Hubby is running late.

I’m telling you this as a public service.

I’m telling you this as a friend.

Learn from my mistake.

Long live the nap!

 

 

 

When Desperation Wins, Summer Mother and the Indoor Play Place

Macklemore-1

Whelp, summer is officially upon us.

Which means, if you’re anything like me, these little animals that we call children are home.

All day…

{sigh}

So after 2.6 million games of Candy Land, breaking out the Play-Doh, countless hours of Lego building, becoming an imaginary superhero, bike riding, baking, cooking, laundry… I have mentally and physically left the building. And sadly, we are only on the second day of summer break.

At this point I am certifiably insane… You know how I know this? Because crazy people do desperate things. And in my desperation I did something that I hate to do with all my mind and body. I packed up the family Truckster and took my kids to an Indoor Play Place.

The Indoor Play Place is the final resting stop for all frazzled parents everywhere. You can see the look of defeat on each and every one of our faces. We are screaming it behind our fake smiles “I GIVE UP!”.

Because no one with the proper mental facilities would pay $12 for their kid to run around and jump in an indoor bounce house at a strip mall. No one in their right mind would allow their kid to play with a plastic toy that was just in a strange child’s mouth. But Summer Mother isn’t all there. She’s desperate. She’s trying to fill the time void until the next meal, the next nap, the next bedtime. Summer Mother isn’t practical, she’s crazed. And where do the crazy parents hold the meetings for their 12 step program? The Indoor Play Place… that’s right.

This, my friends, is one step above the park and one step below maximum desperation… Chuck-E-Cheese. I’m not there yet.

But it’s only Tuesday.

My toddler entered the Indoor Play Place like a little version of Macklemore entering the club… one hand in his superman underwear, mismatched ensemble he put together himself of a NY Jets Jersey (Johnathan Vilma, by the way, who hasn’t played for the Jets since 2007), a plaid vest and pajama pants with a paisley pattern. Yes, he rocks your Grandpa’s style. His other hand is reserved for the thumbs up sign he’s throwing at the little Blond girl in the corner who has lifted her dress high above her head exposing her Frozen undies. I watch his eyes as they dart around the room, sizing the place up, undoubtedly looking for the most dangerous or disgusting thing to play on/with. He cracks a smile from ear to ear and runs off in the direction of the dress up corner. Before I can even form the word…. “Wait…” he has placed a plastic Fireman’s hat on his little head. He’s dancing around singing a fire truck song and I’m putting “buy RID Lice Shampoo” on my shopping list.

The Indoor Play Place isn’t for the faint of heart.

As I begrudgingly hand over my $12 to the establishment I find a place without gum or nutella stuck to it to sit down. This is the part of the Indoor Play Place that sucks for parents. The waiting. There are 3 loads of baby laundry on my bed that I have to fold today. Can’t do that here. I need to marinate a pork loin for dinner and buy a fresh salad but instead I am sitting in a vacuum. No sane person would do this.

I’m tending to the baby, making small talk with another mom who looks about 1 step away from institutionalization. She’s wearing 2 different sneakers. They aren’t even the same brand let alone the same style or color. I decide to keep this observation to myself. Nothing good can come of her knowing that right now.

My 3-year-old calls, “Hey Mom, watch this”, while he  hangs from a rafter, clearly not part of the actual maze the Indoor Play Place has put together.

“That’s lovely honey,” I mutter, not wanting to battle it out here. There will be enough battles when I try to get him to leave.

He finally approaches me with those words no Mom wants to hear in a public place, “I have to go potty.”

I’m starting to think my toddler might actually be reviewing public toilets for Zaggat or Yelp! because he has sat on every public toilet in a 50 mile radius.

I then venture to the restroom with him where he proudly sits on the toilet and sings the ABC’s while his little legs dangle. The last time this happened was at a Golden Corral restaurant (don’t ask) and the whole family was sick for a week. Of course the baby is now ripe and needs a diaper change too… I whip a gallon of hand sanitizer out of my purse and make the changing table fit to lay my changing mat on. I can’t help think about some of the college bars I frequented back in the day. Considering there aren’t any drunk 20 somethings here, this bathroom could give them a run for their money. I wipe some asses and we leave that nasty place. A minute more and I might have puked.

After 2 hours I’m finally able to get him to leave without incident promising him the ultimate toddler treat… frozen yogurt.

Make mine a double.

A Toddlers Guide to Clean Eating

Today was the 3-year-old’s last day of school. They had a sweet little show where the kids sang songs and did dances. It was completely adorable and for a tiny millisecond you can almost forget that cute little angel is your psychotic toddler.

This is bad.

Never forget.

Don’t even think about forgetting the fact that in an instant they can go from “Aw” to The Exorcist.

I’m telling you this not to scare you (but lets face it, fear is your friend with a toddler) but to keep you on your toes. The very toes he’s going to pound with his fists during the next tantrum.

In our normal, everyday life I make pretty good choices on what to feed my kids. This usually depends on my exhaustion level. We don’t do a lot of fast or frozen foods, or candy, or sweets. The oldest has juice, but not the 3-year-old. And when they don’t eat shit, you can really see a difference in their personality. At least I can see the difference in my kids. I can probably see the difference in your kids too but they aren’t my problem.

That’s why it is totally my fault what is happening right now. Letting my guard down today was a huge mistake and I’m paying for it. In spades.

It’s to the point of Masochism. I knew what the outcome was going to be but I allowed it to happen anyway. Touche peer pressure.

After the little play they had an Ice Cream Social to end the school year.  My very hungry caterpillar had a loaded ice cream sundae, with chocolate sauce, and mini-m&m’s. Then he ate a brownie. And I’m watching him consume all this junk and saying to myself, “he never gets treats like this, it’s only one day. How can I deny him when he’s not allergic, he hasn’t been bad, all his friends are doing it?”.

But I know better.

Then his teacher gave him a lovely end of the year gift… a beach pail filled with toys, and his name on it. So sweet of her. As I loaded the kids into the car I was busy looking at everything and reading her card to me {a tear-jerker for sure}. I missed the fact that a pack of Skittles was also in the pail. 3-year-old didn’t miss a beat and started pigging out on Skittles.

By the time we got home things were going downhill.

“I don’t wanna take a nap, I big boy”

Big boys take naps.

“Not Daddy, not big brother.”

Daddy’s at work, I can assure you if he were home, he would be napping.

“YOU MEAN MOMMY!”

{Oh Hell No! I’m nice Mommy. You’re Fidel Castro with a sugar high. Don’t get it twisted}

I’m sorry you feel that way.

Once we arrived home he seemed to chill out a bit. We watched some mindless children’s programming but he barely took a bite of the sandwich I made him.

As nap time approached I gave him lots of notice. All met with a very specific type of anger that is the true symbol of a sugar crash.

He’s in his bed right now pitching a fit reminiscent of Veruca Salt.

Note to self, stop at one bowl of ice cream and next time, make sure you have enough wine.