Last month we began house-hunting with our two young children. Our first look around the homes available in our neighbourhood was with a 60 year-old, quite serious, very important realtor. Upon meeting him, I sensed we could be in some trouble.
We arrived at the first house a few minutes early (which in itself, was quite impressive). The kiddies were full of energy so immediately sprinted to the soccer park across the street while we waited for the realtor. Rather than taking the sidewalk they ran down and up a grass drainage ditch to get to the park. Of course, the ditch had half a foot of water hiding under the grass. Of course, both kids got soaking wet socks and shoes, just in time to enter the house. By the time the realtor arrived (approximately three minutes later) my son had grass stains on both knees and my daughter had fallen into the ditch. Surprise, surprise!
Our realtor arrived and eyed our wet (but joyful) children warily. He shook our hands and halfheartedly said hello to the kids and led us into the house. I immediately discounted the place because it had no entryway. When my son violently kicked off his black rubber boots they flew straight into the realtor’s stylish dress pants. Oops. Not a way to start things off on the right foot.
All morning my husband and I made a valiant effort to look at shag carpets, harvest gold appliances, sea green kitchen tiling and classic 70’s wood panelling. A snapshot of a few minutes of our morning sounded like this:
Me: “I like this kitchen. It has a…”
My son: “MOM! Come and find the toys! Where are the toys?”
My husband: “Check out this family room! We could put the projector on this…”
My daughter: “Wahhhhh! Find soovie! Where’s dolly? Want a drink! Wanna go home!”
You get the drift.
Our children had one mission: FIND TOYS. It was quite amazing actually. In one house owned by a very elderly man, my son managed to rummage around and find the one toy in 2000 square feet: a cardboard, turquoise model of a Cadillac car.
In another house, my almost-two-year-old daughter found a teddy bear on a bed and picked it up. The realtor immediately panicked and snapped, “Quick! Put that back where you found it!” My daughter was pretty surprised. I was ticked off. * My daughter started screaming and the realtor was visibly upset.
Our story has a happy ending. We found two kind and easygoing realtors to show us around the next time. We found a lovely house for our family right where we wanted to be for less than we thought we’d have to spend.
A word of advice: When you look at houses, leave the kids with grandma. 🙂
*Whenever we’ve sold a house, I think it’s cute when visiting children play with whatever toys are lying around. If the kids are happy (and occupied!) the parents are calmer and more likely to take a closer look at a home.
My baby girl is approaching two. Her favourite stuffie is her “Dollo.” Dollo was a baby gift from a dear family friend. My daughter attached to Dollo quickly.
On Facebook the other day a friend of mine was lamenting the fact that her three-year-old son was still very attached to a special blanket. She was pleased that her son could sleep in his own bed and use the potty. I think she saw the removal of the blanket as the next box that needed checking off in her son’s life.
I slept with my special blanket until I was sixteen. I still know exactly where it is: in a bag, in a box in my parents’ basement. I can still smell it and feel its worn softness against my cheek. It was my constant companion and comforter against scary monsters and sleepless dark nights.
The fact that my daughter has her own special stuffie doesn’t surprise me. If you look closely at the right side of the picture you can see Dollo’s tag sticking out. My daughter strokes that tag over and over as she falls asleep. As I rock her I can tell she is nearing sleep when her tiny fingers slow, pause then finally stop, in their daily ritual.
My poor, poor daughter gets so many pitying looks from first-time mommas.
The way I parent her is a million times different from the way I parented my son when he was her age.
I haul her around in a hand-me-down, slightly stained blue umbrella stroller. Her brother glided around in a deluxe designer stroller. I, like many first-time moms, gave in and bought the fancy-schmancy ride for my son. Yes, it’s great, but nope, it’s not so great while also managing a preschooler who never stops moving. With two kids in the family, it is rare to have one free hand, let alone two. I need a stroller I can pick up with my pinkie and throw in the trunk, completely assembled.
I had my daughter in the fancy stroller the other day (while scrounging for cheap toys and funky sweaters at Value Village) and a young mom sidled up to me and asked casually, “So, how do you like the Peg?” It took me a few minutes to realize she was talking about the stroller. I guess my children are getting older because I no longer recognize new-mommy-stroller-lingo. 😉
My daughter is often completely neglected at the park. A few months ago I took the kiddies to the playground near our house. As we pulled up, I let them loose from the constraints of stroller (my daughter) and bike helmet (my son). I always feel like yelling, “Release the hounds!” as they run wildly to whatever catches their fancy at our new child-proof neighbourhood park.
Anyways, on this particular afternoon there was only one other child there, a little boy close in age to my daughter (about 18 months at the time). He was accompanied by both of his parents and was obviously their first and only child. The little guy couldn’t take a step without some sort of comment of encouragement from both parents. At every trip or stumble they both jumped to attention. It was sort of cute, for the first few minutes.*
I was busy helping my son strap into a safety swing for 5-10 year olds (?) way across the park and had half an eye on my daughter. I saw her move towards a ladder that led to a medium-sized slide. The look on the other parents’ faces as my daughter climbed up and went down that slide alone was total shock.** She survived. Now, a few months older, she proudly announces, “I did it!” when she lands at the bottom without falling.
My daughter is continually harassed by her five-year-old brother. The other day it was raining and he was bored. I gave him an old diaper box to do something with. He made a “toddler trap,” complete with bait (a soother and a cookie) and chased his poor sister around, trying to drop it on her head.
Interestingly enough, I’m noticing many, many benefits to her being (slightly) neglected. My daughter is fiercely independent. She can say “no!” in a loud, confident voice over and over; a trait that I hope will come in handy when she is a teenager.
She can entertain herself for ages “reading” stacks and stacks of books and magazines.
She finds and gets what she needs by hauling around a kitchen chair or old plastic stool.
But most important of all, she has a built-in hero, confidant and ally in her older brother. A bit of “neglect,” a lot of independence and a best buddy for life.
*I was totally this mom when I only had one child.
**Just so you know I’m not a total slacker…I was running at warp-speed-that-feels-like-slow-motion and got there just as she landed on the soft mulch on the ground. By the way, why on earth do they use mulch at children’s parks? It’s like inviting children to play in a lumberyard and then being surprised when they get slivers.
What is different about the way you parent your second (or third or fourth) child?
While I was sorting through pictures of my children for Funny Places Toddlers Put Stuff I realized I had a lot of other funny toddler pictures. Today’s version involves places my toddlers have put themselves. 🙂
On a ball
With a doll
In the sand
Coming in to land
Climbing up higher
Checking out a fire
Going down a slide
Playing in the tub
Looking for grub
Helping do a chore
Hiding in a store
Feeling all right
Cuddled up tight
*I’ve posted a few of these pictures on previous posts but couldn’t resist including them.
Where do your toddlers like to put themselves?
One of my toddler daughter’s favorite pastimes is moving things from one place to another. Take her to a library or bookstore and she meticulously transfers a pile of books to a shelf across the room. Take her to Starbucks and she stacks the yogurt neatly beside the juice boxes. Take her to a hardware store and she drops the screws and nails into new places. At a toy store, every stuffie moves from shelf A to shelf B. Around the house, I’m always laughing as I find interesting little surprises that my daughter has set up for me to discover.
She gives me very creative ideas for supper:
She gets my slippers ready for me when I’m in the shower:
She makes sure her brother can always find his underwear:
She ensures that my hairspray is warmed up in the morning:
She knows how to make me smile when I’m putting the dishes away at night:
If I need an orange bucket, she finds one for me:
And my favorite…even salad dressing needs a little love sometimes:
Have you found anything around your house that your toddler has re-arranged? 🙂
Then the get-her-to-go-back-to-sleep game begins. I turn on her lullaby CD, make sure she has her soother, two dolls and baby orca stuffie and change her diaper stealthily, all without making too much eye contact.
I know the jig is up if she starts yelling “milkel! milkel!” or “book! book!” If I hear either of those words I know it’s all over. She’s up. I’m up. I turn on the lights.
However… if I successfully change her with no shouts there is a tiny chance she will go back to sleep.
I bundle up an armful of toddler, dolls and “bankies” (blankets) and rock her in our rickety old chair. The chair is on its last legs but the reassuring creaks and cracks lull my little one back to calmness.
Her big blue eyes start to flutter a little and I gather her up, ease her into the crib and tiptoe out of the room. I close her door as quietly as possible then pause at my bedroom door and listen. Music to my ears is hearing my husband and five-year-old son breathing deeply in the big bed; still asleep. Most mornings I hear a chipper little boy voice asking, “Daddy? Is it time to wake up? Where’s Mommy? Can I go find Mommy?”
My favorite days are the days when all three are sleeping and there is a chance for a few minutes alone. I tiptoe down the stairs, quieter than Santa on Christmas Eve. The bottom step is the worst; no matter where I step, some days it creaks, other days it doesn’t. Once down, I sneak into the kitchen, careful not to turn on many lights.
I flick the switch on the coffee maker. Usually (because Murphy’s Law is always in effect around here) one of the children wakes up the minute the coffee begins to drip. Our coffee maker is so loud that it sounds exactly like the pot full of boiling eggs my grandma used to make when I slept over. If I’m lucky enough to pour some coffee, the three loud beeps signalling that the brewing is finished will most definitely wake someone up and the cry of “Momma! Momma!” begins.
If, by some miracle, no one wakes from the beeps I’ll either knock something over, step on a piece of Lego or crash into the table and break the silence.
The other day I was so eager for some alone time that I crammed my feet into my five-year-old son’s Incredible Hulk socks rather than go upstairs to find my slippers.
Chances are pretty low that the quiet will last longer than 10 or 15 minutes. I admit that I love it when one child wakes before the other. I pour them some milk and have some precious early morning cuddles with them before the sibling rivalry, hugs, yells and laughter begin for another day.
Do any of you get almost desperate for a few minutes of alone time? How do you find it?
You may also like:
My memories of this day are hazy. My daughter was a few months old, not sleeping very well at night and my son was three and a half and restless.
The equilibrium of his family and all that was normal to him was rocked by the arrival of his long-awaited baby sister. He thrived on any time spent alone with me, even though I was so sleep-deprived all I wanted to do was curl up and “sleep when the baby sleeps.” (Ha! What a joke that is when you have an older child who has outgrown his nap!)
It was a beautiful early fall day and our baby was finally sleeping. We cracked open the door to throw out the recycling and my boy spotted the empty diaper box; a box of great potential. We threw it on the grass, inspected it and headed in to get tape and scissors. An airplane was born.
One of the traits I appreciate so much in children is their creativity. All they need is a little time, some tape, scissors and (sometimes) a parent’s hand to bring their ideas to life. We are so busy scheduling playdates & lessons and making sure we choose the right schools, the right playgroups, the right friends. More important than all of those things is our time, even when we’d rather be curled up under warm blankets in blissful sleep.
I refuse to join Pinterest because I’m sure there are perfect airplanes on there that parents have designed for their children, not with them. I’d rather be my son’s hero-with-a-diaper-box than feel inferior because some supermom recreated the Wright brothers‘ plane and posted the pictures online. 🙂
You may be interested in: http://www.carlhonore.com/books/under-pressure/
If you like my posts and pics, check out this Top 25 list at Circle of Moms. Click the link above, scroll down to Murphy Must Have Had Kids and vote each day until February 13th. Thanks!
Murphy’s Laws of swimming with a toddler:
- Now I know why children wear swim diapers. Those things really work. Note to self: Next time don’t leave the baby wipes in the car.
- It is near-impossible to prevent a child who has just mastered the skill of running to not run on a slippery pool deck. Ear-splitting screams travel very well in a large pool facility.
- I was a little naive thinking we’d chill out in the toddler pool all morning. There were 4 small pools, including the hot tub. We visited each pool approximately 15 times. So much for hiding my I-have-two-children-with-me-24-hours-a-day-and-I-really-am-too-busy-to-work-out self in the water. Nope. My daughter paraded me up and down and around those pools for 90 minutes straight. I knew I should have invested in one of those bathing suits with the skirts. 😉
- My toddler loved the little yellow slide into the baby pool. Why sit and slide down carefully when you can hippity-hop down? *shudder*
- Fear? What’s that? I took my eyes off her for 2 seconds to grab a floating fish out of a bucket and Whoosh! Baby under! Momma-reflexes are amazing.
- The best moment was when my daughter looked towards The Big Pool and saw our next door neighbour doing aquafit. The smiles and shouts she sent across the room were enough to make the whole class stop stretching to see the little girl creating such a ruckus.
I’ll take my fearless child to the pool any day.
These wild, heart-stopping, joy-filled moments make the no-paycheck and no-time-alone parts of being a full-time momma…no big deal.
A fellow blogger was kind enough to nominate me for the following Top 25 list of Funny Mom Bloggers (even though I’m only sort of funny, some of the time).
Please click the link, scroll down and vote (every 24 hours) for Murphy Must Have Had Kids. It’s very easy to do. Voting goes until February 13th. Thank you!
While roaming the aisles of a big-box toy store the other day, I realized that my 18 month old daughter could care less about 99% of the stuff for sale. I know what she wants for Christmas and it’s not a dolly that sits on the toilet or a pink plastic household appliance. Here’s a list of what every toddler really wants to see under the tree:
- A Kleenex box. The biggest one you can find, with the cardboard piece already ripped off the top. Free reign to pull the tissues out when she pleases, shred into tiny pieces and fling around the house.
- A box of Christmas oranges to dump, line up and move in and out of the box to her heart’s content.
- A toothbrush to chew as much as she wants, swirl in the toilet and poke her big brother with.
- Her own roll of tape. She can rip the tape out over and over with no one saying, “Give it back to mommy, please. Give it back to mommy” and prying it out of her tiny hands. A roll of wrapping paper from the dollar store will also go over well.
- A family sized box of rice to spread over every room of the house, just for fun. She already knows how to do this. She learned it last week in Sunday School.
- A Lego set for her to step on and throw against the wall while laughing with glee.
- An extra $10 to put towards the water bill so she can play at the kitchen sink and yell, “water! water!” as she pours, stirs and splashes joyfully.
- An expensive fabric angel decoration to hug and kiss with spaghetti-sauce-stained hands & face.
- An old plate to take to the cement floor in the garage, lift high over her head, and smash to smithereens.
Ah…the perfect Christmas.