Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Area Mom 'Completely Screwed' After Toddlers Call Her Bluff

SUBURBS, U.S. -- A local mom describes herself as being "completely screwed" when her toddlers, aged three-and-a-half years and two years old, called her bluff that she would leave them at the park by themselves after they refused to willingly walk to the car with her.

"I even went so far as to get in the car and start it up," Up-The-Creek-Mom said, "I was sure that'd get them off the slide, but they didn't even bat an eyelash when they heard the engine rev."

The mom was forced to walk, disgraced and powerless, back to the park's playground equipment to retrieve her wards, before carrying them to said car. The trip was particularly humiliating given that a number of other parents had overheard her "threat" to leave without them.

Threatening to leave uncooperative kids by themselves at a mall, grocery store, park or other locale has long been a staple parenting tactic. This method is especially favored among parents who want to escape a public spot without making a scene. For many parents, carrying a kicking, screaming toddler from any venue is a last-resort option. Thus, over time, parents have developed many tools in their arsenal, including use of manipulation and half-truths.

However, experts warn parents to plan ahead for the day when kids realize the threat to leave them somewhere is an empty one. Some recommend keeping a stash of candy in one's purse to use as a means of luring the kids back to the car, while others recommend parents keep a pair of dark sunglasses on hand, so they can avoid making eye contact with others who have witnessed the failed tactic, or who might cast judgmental glances at the parent doing the walk of shame with one or more screaming toddlers.

"It is imperative that parents who rely on this method, develop a back-up plan to use. Parents are unlikely to realize that their kids have discerned there is no chance they'll actually be left somewhere. So, parents are likely to be flummoxed and feel helpless when this day comes," a more experienced mom said.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Time-Travelers' Mother

Most of the time when I look at my kids, I see the round, not-quite-baby, not-quite-big-boy that my two-year-old actually is and the newly-lanky, three and a half year old, that is my daughter. However, every now and again, looking at them is like traveling in time. Certain expressions and actions remind me of the babies they once were, while others hint at the bigger kids they will become.

This past weekend, an expression washed over my daughter's face and I found myself thinking, "Who are you?! Where's my little girl? I don't know who this big kid is but she's not my baby." Then, her expression changed and my girl was back. Later, I found myself sitting beside her bed, patting her hair while she cried. She was having a hard time waking up from her nap, but looking at her, it was so easy to imagine her as a teenager, crying over some boy who'd broken her heart.

Of course, I often see them traveling back in time as well. The other day as I was waking my son up, I could clearly imagine him as the baby he was not so long ago. He did his baby stretch and expression and it was like I was looking at him as a two-month-old again. Then, as we walked down the stairs and that cute, pudgy little toddler hand reached up to take mine, and we were in the present again. The next day, as I pulled him off the kitchen table and reminded him that we don't dance on the table, it was with horror that I saw him as a college student, minus the keg cup.

I find these glimpses through time to be partially disconcerting and partially delicious. When I see them as the babies they were it reminds me of those sweet days, which seem long gone, but which, in reality were mere moments ago. The times when I see them as older kids, or even teenagers, help prepare me for a future I'm not always sure I'm ready for.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Concluding the No Grocery Store Challenge - Involve the Kids

The Guidelines:

1. All grocery (read: food) purchases must be made via Farmer’s market, roadside stand, small shop or  private purchase.

2. $30USD (before tax) is allotted – for the entire 28 days – to purchase various items that cannot be found at aforementioned venues.  All food purchased with this $30 should be organic/bio, if possible.

Well, I did it – four solid weeks with only one trip to a Grocery Store.  Actually, it’s been six and a half weeks total.  In the spirit of personal competition I’ve unofficially continued my NGSC and have managed to eke out 2 ½ additional weeks with no extra grocery store shopping.  I am darn proud of myself.  I will never again enter a grocery store and absent-mindedly scoop items into my cart.

Gimme all your Veggies!
In retrospect, what was my favorite part of the Challenge? My daughter's exuberant and enthusiastic participation.  She LOVES to go to the Farmers’ Market with me.  The timing of my challenge coincided with her school’s two week summer closure (yes, I am LUCKY – the Kindergarten here in Hungary is AWESOME and year-round!!) which means she tagged along with me when I visited our local market several times a week. 

Why I Loves Me Some Lil Lampshade/Mommy Lampshade Farmers’ Market Trips:

1.  No Barbie section or candy aisle.  I don’t think I need to explain the awesomeness of that.

2.   Instead of begging for Skittles and lollypops, she requested apricots and red peppers.  I let her have the freedom of picking out whatever she liked, which empowered her. 

Mrs & Little Lampshades' Market Baskets
3. Lil Lampshade has her own basket and it gets loaded up with goodies.  One thing I’ve learned is that merchants can’t resist the adorable charm of a toddler with their own veggie-collecting vessel.

4. Lots of flowers - cheap.  They may not be perfect or the most beautiful, but to Lil Lampshade they are worthy of a table set for a fairy queen.  And the upside is that she’s learning the names of flowers.  She also LOVES to arrange her own flowers in a vase.   

5. Her favorite thing to do after leaving the market is nosh on her stash.  She usually eats her entire RDA of fruits and vegetables by the time we get home.  

6. The colors. The textures.  The smells.  The sounds.  The tastes.  "Mommy, STOP! Smell! Do you smell that? It smells wonderful!!  I’m starving – can I have a cucumber?"

My initial goals were to involve myself with local culture and commerce (ACHIEVED!), eat healthier (DONE!), and save money (SAVED!).  And for  you accountants out there - I spent $24.76 of my allotted $30.  I did everything I set out to do and gained the habit I’d hoped to take-on at the end of my four weeks.  My NGSC is “officially” over but I will be participating for the rest of my life.

A huge, heart-felt THANK YOU to Take Part & Food, Inc for their support of my NGSC.  If you have not seen Food, Inc yet, please move it to the top of your Netflix queue or look for it when it airs on PBS.  It’s like watching an episode of Hoarders when you’ve been putting off cleaning the pantry.  It will change your life.  Best of luck to all of the current No Grocery Store Challengers.  You are making a difference. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


"You got kicked out of a mom's group?! How do you get kicked out of a mom's group?!" my cousin asked me recently at a family gathering. Yes indeed, what kind of a loser gets herself kicked out of a mom's group... Apparently, the kind who, like me, managed to let a summer slip by without fulfilling her quarterly requirements to "host" an event. I hadn't meant to shirk my responsibilities, the time had just gotten away from me. Realizing that it had been awhile, I started thinking about planning a fall outing to a local farm. Before I'd gotten too far though, I got an email in my inbox telling me that I hadn't fulfilled my duties and I was out. Frankly, I was stunned that a group designed to help support and offer friendship to moms would give someone the boot without so much as a probationary period or warning. I decided to forget the group and move on -- I had several great mom friends who were willing to let an occasional bout of flakiness slide.

Then, within in a month, two of those friends packed up and left town after both of their husbands were transferred out-of-state. Suddenly, I was left feeling pretty lonely. Before they "abandoned" me, my two friends had a lot to do with making my time home with young kids not just survivable, but downright fun. We all lived on the same block and it just felt downright idyllic to have wound up in a neighborhood where the kids got along and the moms were cool. Their husbands, like mine, regularly worked late, and we often had dinner together, just the ladies and the kids. Young toddlers may be cute but they aren't great dinner table conversationalists and it was a treat having another adult to eat with once in awhile. One of the gals had become a particularly close friend -- the kind I could chat about anything with. She was also my wing-girl. If I was in a pinch, I knew I could call on her. Last fall, when my mom wound up in the ER, I knew I could call on her and she'd be there for me. She watched my kids while I was with my mom in the hospital. My kids knew her so well and felt so comfortable around her, that they were delighted to go there and play with her kids, whom they adored. For them, it was as comfortable as being at home. In turn, I was happy when she'd ask me to watch her kids when she needed. Our friendship was not only fun but supportive in a way that's simply essential to motherhood.

Their departures really hit me. I knew how much I enjoyed these women (and their kids) and how much I counted on them, so it wasn't a surprise to me how hard it was when they left. After they were gone, I realized that all of my pre-kid friends were scattered across the greater Seattle area -- often a 40 minute drive. Plus, most of them were working and not available to get together for a Tuesday morning playdate, which is when I really needed a friend. I found myself without a momtourage, and that's not a good place for a mom to be. So, here I find myself in search of a new momtourage.

My daughter's starting preschool next month and I elected to do a co-op, which means that I'll be working in the classroom several times a month with the other parents. We also will have monthly meetings and other get-togethers. I'm hopeful I'll meet some cool gals there and start to build up a new momtourage for myself. Last week, I went to a birthday party and met several local moms, who all seemed really nice. Turns out, they're all members of the moms' group that booted me last year. After talking to them, I've decided to give the group another try (if they'll have me). Now that I've met a few more people in the group, I'm hopeful it will be a more fun experience. Additionally, I've taken to cruising the grocery store and post office, picking up new friends and have started getting friendly with a nice group of gals in the area. So, fingers crossed, I'll keep working to build up the momtourage I need -- for my sake as well as for my kids. Because, let's face it, a happy mom is a better mom.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fast Times at Ridgemont Preschool

As I held the green straw up to my daughter's three-year-old lips so she could sip her Strawberries & Creme Frappuccino without smudging her newly-painted fingernails, I knew that somehow, things had gotten off course. Sitting side-by-side in Mama Bear and Baby Bear-sized pedicure chairs, awaiting our spa treatments, I couldn't help but wonder when, and more importantly, how, I had become a mom who was pushing my child to grow up too quickly.

In the 1980's, Fast Times at Ridgemont High served as a warning to America about the perils of teenagers growing up too quickly and experiencing things high school kids really aren't ready to cope with. If that movie were to be remade today, it might need to be called Fast Times at Ridgemont Preschool because it seems that even the toddler set is experiencing too much, too soon these days.

I would no more buy my daughter a bedazzled, tot-sized T-shirt, which proclaimed "I'm a slut!," than I would tease her hair, give her a spray tan and enter her in a beauty pageant. Yet here I was, indulging in mother-daughter mani-pedis at an early age. It had all started innocently enough. She'd seen some little girls painting each other's nails on TV and said "Mommy, we should do that sometime." Looking at my calloused, unpolished feet, I'd suggested we get our toenails painted at a local nail salon. Two birds, one stone and all. Fun bonding with my daughter and a long-overdue treat for my feet in one fell swoop. From there, things seemed to snowball. A pre-pedi Starbucks run resulted in her getting her own (un-caffeinated) frothy, iced beverage and later, a miscommunication with the nail technician turned a pedi into a mani-pedi. Somewhere along the way, it had gone from being cute to being gross.

Often, society seems overrun with attempts to turn little girls into teenagers. Not so long ago, kids were just kids. Now, they're 'tweens. From eight-year-olds getting (or perhaps not getting) Botox injections to Abercrombie & Fitch's padded bikini tops for elementary school-aged girls, there's an overwhelming sense of kids being pressured to mature beyond their year(s). Normally, all of this disgusts me. So, how did I-- a mother who's aware of, and disturbed by, this phenomenon--wind up contributing to it with my own daughter? No, getting her a pedicure wasn't as extreme as waxing her eyebrows, but it's in the same vein of pushing little girls to grow up too quickly.

While many mothers, myself included, are outraged over the more garish aspects of this trend, many of us are complicit with it in other, smaller ways. For me, it was treating her to a pedicure. For some, it's buying baby high heels because they're funny and kind of cute. For others, it's letting toddlers have sleepovers with their friends. I've increasingly been hearing about three-year-olds having overnights with their friends. I remember my first slumber party. It was Becky's eighth birthday, we got pizza and watched Grease. The anticipation of it had been the talk of the second grade for weeks leading up to the party. If kids are starting to have sleepovers at the age of three, what's to look forward to when they're eight?

As normally rational parents, we see these things as being cute and harmless fun but the more I think about it, the more I realize we're part of the problem we usually rail against. After all, it can be a slippery slope from toddler pedicure to 'tween push-up bra.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

In the Muthahood - A Rap Video All Moms Can Get Behind

In case you haven't seen this yet, it's beyond hilarious. Enjoy
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