Archive for the ‘toddler wisdom’ Category

Two year old Chris talks to everyone, all the time; whether the person is already talking, sleeping, or it’s not a person at all. He’s more intent on being understood and understanding us now, too, and doesn’t give up until it makes sense. But I could swear, sometimes, that he might be messing with us.

Me: “Oh, no, don’t drink that, honey, it has caffeine.”

Chris (aghast, yet somewhat thrilled): “Cat pee?!?!”


“Cat FEET?!?!”

“Ca. Feeeennne.”

“Cat PEE?!”

“Say ‘Ca’.”




“There you go! Caffeine!”


“Hmmm. Yeah, cat poop. It’s gross; don’t drink it.”


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This is a day of failed hopes and dreams, and near-tearful disappointment.

Sadly, somehow, my talk of going to “vote” has been (mis)understood by my two year old as going out on a “boat.” And somehow, his talk of the “boat” has been more successful than my talk of the “vote” at convincing the four year old that this morning we are due to go out sailing on a river instead of to the elementary school down the street to cast our ballot.

I’m still sorting through the details; there are indications that they believe that Hillary Clinton will, indeed, be on the boat with us. They had a far more interesting day planned than I did.

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Questions, Part 2

Martin and I were watching The Grinch Who Stole Christmas on Christmas Eve, probably one of my favorite Christmas traditions.

During that fantastic song, “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” Martin hears:

You’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr. Grinch.

Your soul is full of gunk, Mr. Grinch.

Your soul is an appalling dump heap overflowing
with the most disgraceful assortment of deplorable
rubbish imaginable,
Mangled up in tangled up knots.

and asks, spurred, I’m sure also by our recent heart-wrenching conversation, “What’s a soul?”

Fighting an urge to run to dictionary.com, which didn’t seem particularly motherly or Christmas-y, I say: “Errr….well…” for a little bit, and then: “Your soul is the place inside you where you keep your love, and your compassion, and your feelings.” Hmmm, not bad, not bad at all, I think.

“Oh!” he exclaims. “So I’m your soul! And you’re my soul. And we’re each other’s soul.”

My heart stopped for just a second before I hugged him. Oh, you’re so right, little boy.

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I was lying with Martin last night as he was falling asleep, telling him a story. I thought he had already drifted away; he was very still. Then he said, “Mom, when I am very old, are you going to be killed?” His voice broke, and he sobbed; I could see tears stream down his cheeks by the glow of the nightlight.

Uh-oh. My mind started racing. I believe in telling him the truth, worded appropriately for a three year old perspective, but this was not like telling him where the truck filled with stacked cages of chickens was heading on the highway the other day. How to say: Well, yes, I am going to die. Odds are, you’ll probably be in your fifties–that is, unless I succumb to one of the cancers that seem to cut down certain women in my family when they’re quite young–but, really, it could happen at any time, even tonight. . . . which would be, morbid as it is, the truth.

“I’m here right now,” I said, hugging him, “and I will be in the morning [please!] and I think I’ll be right here with you for so long it will feel like forever.”

He was still choking on his sobs; I could feel it in his little body as I held him. “But I’m going to have you when I’m three and four and five and six and seven, but then when I’m very old, you are going to fall off of a bridge and be killed.”

My odds of falling off a bridge to my death seem staggeringly low, and I reassured him on this point fairly well, and hoped that the conversation would turn to the various unlikely ways I could meet my end. I’d be on stable ground convincing him that a bald eagle wasn’t going to snatch me from the front yard, for instance. I wasn’t so lucky.

“Where will you go if you get killed? And where is Grammy’s family?”

I am not religious, but I sorely wished that I had a religion-based, this-is-what-happens-when-we-die answer for him. I had a fleeting thought of a mother, long ago, inventing the whole idea of heaven to soothe her child asking this very question…

I admitted that I didn’t know where people went when they got killed, but floundered for something remotely consoling. “Did you know that when I’m right here next to you, or somewhere else, or anywhere, you still have me with you? All the little pieces that make up your body are from Dad and me.” I went on a little in this vein, and he seemed to like it.

His last question: “If Dad gets killed, how is he going to teach people how to use computers?”

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That’s what he calls himself when he does this.

Minutes passed as he ever so slowly crept closer to a group of deer.  One remained, and they just stared at each other.


Nature is so different to me now with him around.

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A miserable, tired, almost-two-year-old with a cold. A disappointed-not-to-be-at-the Children’s-Museum-as-promised three-year-old with a cough. A cold, foggy morning. A mother with no coffee. No food in the house. The happy angel on my shoulder said: Sure, go to the grocery store! You can do it! The mean angel on my other shoulder said: Yes, do go. The misery and destruction will be high entertainment. I went.

When the little one shrieked with fury instead of joy at being put in the car attached to the front of the shopping cart, the happy angel said: Oooo, very bad sign. Guess I was wrong. Grab a cup of coffee and leave now with your dignity intact. No worries. The mean angel said: Stay. This is gonna be good. I stayed.

The little one would neither walk, ride, or be carried; instead, he sprinted full-speed away. The mean angel laughed . . . and so did the store manager, but in a nicer way.

When the sprinting turned into falling on the floor and sniffling pathetically, I finally decided to leave. But heading toward the exit, I saw them: little packets of animal crackers hanging on the end of the aisle. I grabbed two bags and dangled them in front of their faces. I chirped, “Oh, look, I almost forgot that it’s snack time. Luckily, I found a great snack right here!” The mean angel was thrilled: A bribe, a lie, and a manipulation all in one bag of crackers. The happy angel said: At least they’re organic.

It worked. We shopped at a rate of speed hitherto unseen in this country. We got out, loaded the bags, and buckled in. As we were able to pull out of the parking space, the guys realized that the bags near their feet sounded like thunderous drums when kicked. They kicked and flailed and bobbed their heads. The mean angel was thrilled that the eggs were all getting broken. I opened my mouth to say, “Guys! The eggs and the bread and the fruit will all get . . .” The happy angel said: Shut the hell up and dance with them. So I did.

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Don’t do that.   Stop it.  Don’t touch.  No, no.  Stop.  Don’t.  Please stop.  Hurry up.  I said, please don’t do that.

Imagine that the world is approximately three million times more interesting than it even is now.  You’re fascinated by everything you see, but you have a loudspeaker attached to your shoulder saying don’t touch don’t touch don’t touch all day long.  Sometimes I feel like Martin and Chris must feel like that sometimes.

I detest hearing the don’t-touch-stop-it-put-that-down stuff coming out of my mouth.  As much as it has got to be said sometimes, I try to have a Shut-Up Day once in a while to keep the unnecessary ones from becoming a habit.  If I feel a don’t-touch-it coming on, and if I don’t have a damned good reason for it, I shut up.

If it’s not about safety or rudeness or another valid concern, why can’t he touch it?  Why quell the instinct Martin had the other day to explore every button and attachment on the vacuum cleaner, then use them for magic wands, then catch crocodiles with them.  So it’s a mess–big deal.  When Chris squeals with shock at seeing an ant with a crumb on the sidewalk, do I really need to rush him past it to get to the grocery store quicker?

But sometimes I’m late, or tired, or, worst of all, just too accustomed to the wonder and magic they see everywhere.  If I feel a twinge of that, it’s time for me to shut up for a while and let them talk to an ant.

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