Mama Don’t Know Jack

Things are a little busy here this week (deadlines, playdates, and preschool obligations) so I’m re-running a post that I wrote when my first son was a toddler. Since my second is now approaching the Terrible 2’s, it seemed appropriate…

I know toddlerhood is all about kids asserting their independence and testing limits and all that, but my WORD, what a pain in the butt it can be! Some days Miles has to argue with me about EVERYTHING. Now it’s even infiltrated our previously pleasant reading time.

Here’s an example. I was reading him a counting book. It starts with “One ostrich playing the organ” and goes up to “10 tiny turtles playing trumpets.” Except my son adamantly began arguing with me from page one: “No. No, Mommy, dat’s NOT a organ. Dat’s a pee-no.”

“You’re right, it does look sort of like a piano, but it’s actually called an organ.”

“No, dat’s not a organ.”

Whatever. Moving on… Except he kept this up throughout the WHOLE BOOK!! Those 6 bees were not playing bongos, they were playing drums, he insisted. The 7 eagles were most certainly NOT playing electric bass, they were playing guitars. Duh, Mommy! And don’t even get me started on the newts — excuse me, “lizards” — playing flutes!! Finally I just threw down the book in frustration.

But that tricky little toddler of mine, sometimes he purposely baits me. “What’s dat, Mommy?” he’ll ask innocently, pointing at a guy on a ride-on lawn mower across the street.

“That’s a lawn mower,” I tell him.

“No! Not a lawn mower, dat’s a TRACTOR,” he crows, pleased with himself for outsmarting his dim-bulb mom.

My friend S. grew so irritated with her older son’s superiority complex that one day she blurted: “I am 34 years old! I have a college degree. You are 7. Do you really think you’re smarter than me??” His prompt reply: “Yes.”

But back to the toddlers. Have I mentioned the temper on this kid?? God forbid I walk up the stairs ahead of him when HE wanted to go first. Or if I dare take too long refilling his sippy cup.

The funniest thing I’ve read all week is from “Naptime is the New Happy Hour,” by Stefanie Wilder-Taylor. She’s describing her toddler daughter’s temper tantrum one morning:

“…because I committed the cardinal sin of starting the coffeemaker without giving her ample opportunity to push the button. Actually, as per our tradition, I’d asked her if she would like to push the button, but it seemed she and Elmo were having a private moment and I was intruding with my rude question …

But a minute later, when her bionic hearing picked up the sound of coffee brewing, she went completely mental. ‘You pushed the button! I wanted to push it! MAMA! PLEASE! I need to push the button!’ she screamed as if I wasn’t in the same room with her or even the same country.”

Oh, I’ve been there, sister. You better believe I will never again choose what floor I want on an elevator as long as my toddler is around.


Guest Post: ‘9 Mos. and Counting’

Hi! I’m Lynn, longtime friend of Mom2Miles, wife and mom to a busy 3-year-old girl who’s expecting a baby brother or sister very soon.

I am in the last month of my second (and last) pregnancy and boy, is it different from the first time around. My first pregnancy was focused on ME. If I was tired I would sit down and rest. If I felt sick in the morning I’d hit the snooze button and get to work 30 minutes late.

Now, I have a 3-year-old daughter who thinks the world revolves around her (and honestly, it does) and Mama’s aches and pains are secondary. Tired after a long day at work? Read me a book, Mama! Sick in the morning? Wake up, Mama, wake up! There is no snooze button on a 3-year-old.

I didn’t exactly make this last month easy on myself either. My husband and I embarked on a kitchen remodeling project this summer that resulted in our kitchen being rendered completely useless from weeks 33 to 36 of my pregnancy. Yes, I went three weeks without a kitchen at 8 months pregnant.

I don’t have much interest in dinner these days (most of what I eat after 6 pm comes back up in the wee hours of the morning anyway) but dealing with the inconvenience and clutter was more than my fragile mental state could handle. After dinner every night I’d immediately go upstairs in an attempt to avoid a nervous breakdown caused by the mess on the main living level.

My daughter and husband didn’t seem to mind that much. She thought it was an “adventure” to have frozen dinners and Chick-Fil-A most nights and my husband is just a very adaptable guy.

Our cats, however, got increasingly freaked out about having workmen in the house all day, their food moved to the basement, and dusty boxes in their favorite lounging places. They’d come upstairs with me after dinner and beg for attention by meowing loudly, licking my fingers while I was typing on the computer, or lying on my belly and looking up at me pathetically. So, I get a little ME time and it’s not even all about ME, it’s all about the cats!

With less than three weeks to go I’m in the homestretch now, and while each day becomes more and more uncomfortable the baby has a good heartbeat, is practicing breathing, and kicking the heck out of me. Every mom is grateful for a healthy baby, and I can’t wait to meet our little one, but this is my last pregnancy. Did I say that already?


Babies Around the World

Ever since I saw the movie “Babies” a little while ago, I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s a short, wordless documentary about 4 babies growing up in different parts of the world, from birth to age 1. It’s visually stunning, and of course the babies are cute, but that’s not what struck me most.

Rather, it’s how differently babies are raised in other cultures. There’s Ponijao in Namibia, who rolls around in the dirt naked and has to put up with livestock drinking his bathwater. Then there’s Bayar, a little moon-faced boy in Mongolia whose mother births him with little fanfare and then hops on the back of a motorbike for the bumpy ride back to their yurt. The life of Mari in Tokyo isn’t drastically different from her counterpart Hattie’s in San Francisco, with their diapers and strollers and baby music classes.

But the scene that had the most impact for me was one with Hattie and her mother. The baby has become a toddler, with all the behaviors that go along with that—namely, fussing and swatting at her mother. So the mom—obviously an educated, upper-middle class woman in her 30’s, I’d say—does what many moms I know would do. She turns and takes a book off the shelf, titled “No Hitting.”

Isn’t that so AMERICAN? We can fix any parenting problem with the right book! Let’s consult 6 experts and then mirror correct behaviors for our offspring! Better yet, let’s take our baby to a child psychologist so we can understand the emotional causes of her hitting! Perhaps it’s because our peaceful, lute-accompanied water birth went awry and we needed a C-section?

OK, I’m mocking. But you have to admit it’s a little funny, especially in comparison to the mother in Africa who, when her children are fighting, distracts them with a wild dog or her own hair. The Mongolian baby is left alone constantly, either swaddled up to his eyeballs in yards of fabric or tied to a bed post. (Yes! He was literally tied to a bed post by his waist while his mother was outside tending the sheep or something. And he seemed perfectly happy.)

We American moms pour so much time and energy and angst into parenting. We debate the pros and cons of disposable vs. cloth diapers and when and how to potty train, while in the rest of the world babies are crawling around bare-bummed. The African mom, when her newborn poops, WIPES HIS BUTT ON HER KNEE and then scrapes it off with an old corn cob! No organic wipes, no wipe warmer, no Diaper Genie, no antibacterial soap. Can you imagine??

Now, I’m not going to chuck all our educational toys and books and diapers and let my baby crawl shoeless all over a rusty metal drum in the middle of a field of horned cattle. (Not that that makes the Mongolian woman a bad mom; let’s not be judgy.) But it is a good reminder that maybe we don’t need all the stuff we think we do to raise a child. Little Ponijao in Africa seemed pretty darn happy to me.

So, tell me, readers in America and around the world, what parenting differences do you notice where you live?


Being a Grown-Up Is Overrated

Fun GrownupRemember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait to be a grown-up? You’d stay up late, watch TV 24/7, eat all the candy and junk food you wanted, and never brush your teeth. Yeah!

Newsflash: the grass isn’t exactly greener over here on the other side of 18. (Oh, who am I kidding? On the other side of 30!)

First of all, you have to mow the grass yourself. And maybe even hire a guy to fix those random brown patches all over the lawn. And don’t even get me started on raking the leaves, shoveling snow off the walk, and hiring another guy to get the raccoons out of your attic.

To be honest, all that stuff is usually my husband’s job because I’m too busy doing 17 loads of laundry, making nutritionally balanced meals that no one eats, and scrubbing the remains of those nutritionally balanced meals off the floor, walls, and highchair.

I DO eat all the candy I want, though. That’s because sugar and coffee are the main things that keep me going through my days, which are packed with completely not-fun grown-up activities. For instance, this week’s to-do list included:

Write a letter to the city department of public works contesting our water bill, which was 5 times higher than usual. But not before calling the office, sitting on hold for ages, and pleading my case to a surly government employee, only to be told I had to put it in writing.

Reschedule jury duty. Like the above item, this required more phone calls, more time on hold, and more discussions with government employees. I’m all for doing my civic duty (well, actually I’m not, but it’s a law. Bleh!).

But when you’re a stay-at-home mom and have to PAY someone so you can wait around all day in a dreary public building on the off chance you might be called for a worker’s comp trial, well, there are about 983 things I’d rather be doing. Including laundry.

Call AAA. During our usual mad dash to get out of the house this morning and get to school on time, I discovered the car wouldn’t start. The culprit? A dead battery from the interior lights being left on overnight. Hmmm, I wonder which small people who love to push buttons (both literally and figuratively) could be responsible for THAT?!

Cleaning. I am so anti-cleaning it takes me a year to go through a bottle of Windex. My idea of dusting is to run a sock over the TV screen when the layer of dust gets thick enough to write your name in. I only vacuum when the baby starts pointing at the balls of dog hair on the floor and crying because he thinks they’re spiders.

My 4 y.o. son said, “Looks like it’s foggy out today” when really, it was just that the kitchen windows were dirty. But even I can’t ignore the public bathroom smell that becomes noticeable after a few days. So clean I must.

This grown-up thing is overrated. Now, the idea of bathing regularly and going to bed early sounds like heaven. If it weren’t for the candy and TV, there would barely be any perks at all. Oh, wait. I forgot about wine.

TIP O’ THE WEEK: Something only a grown-up would know — you can often use manufacturers’ coupons for a certain brand even if you’re not buying the exact item on the coupon. Example: I have used coupons for Huggies wipes on diapers, and coupons for premium formula on the regular kind.


Police Report: “The Sink Incident”

Case Number: 06/08/2006/1234

Incident: Flooded Bathroom

Reporting Officer: Constable Lowman N. Totempole

At about 1830 hours on 15th November 2010, the DiaryofaNewMom family was having dinner in their home. After finishing his meal and hurling comestible projectiles from his highchair, the youngest child was excused from the table. His mother resumed her meal, aside from repeated interruptions from the elder child requesting alternate menu options and additional beverages.

Ms. Mom2Miles maintains that at that point the baby required a diaper change, the contents of which necessitated immediate bathing of the child. (The explicit details of said diaper are deemed inappropriate for description in this official document.) The mother wishes to state for the record that “this happens every single damn time I try to sit down to eat” and added, “It’s no wonder I subsist mainly on coffee and leftover Halloween candy.”

Ms. Mom2Miles began to bathe the youngest child. She urged the elder child to accompany his brother in the bath, as was customary. He refused. He then proceeded to remove his clothing anyway and play in the sink.

Ms. Mom2Miles reported that she heard a “gushing” noise and turned around to find her elder child sitting naked in the sink — described as “smaller than a soup bowl” — with a large quantity of water spilling out over the counter and onto the floor.

I conducted a survey of the crime scene and found several items of evidence, including approximately 1/4 inch of water on the bathroom floor; several wet towels; and an assortment of multicolored plastic playthings designed to squirt water.

I obtained a sworn statement from Ms. Mom2Miles and provided her with the case number and Information Leaflet 99/03 (“What to do when your preschooler infuriates you”). I attempted to help clean up the area and calm the minors but was unable to stand the noise and general level of chaos in the home and quickly vacated the premises.

The following police sketch illustrates the incident described in this report.

A – The suspect, the elder child known as “Miles,” standing at the sink.

B – The mother, aka Ms. Mom2Miles. The letters “ON” appearing to her left are thought to mean “Nooo!” which is what she yelled when she saw the waterfall cascading from the sink.

C – a fire truck, “because I like fire trucks,” said the suspect. (Who, it should be noted, is also the artist who rendered this sketch.)

Police Sketch


A Baby Walks into a Bar…

Riley told his first joke yesterday. It went like this:

Riley: “Knock-knock!”

Us: “Who’s there?”

Riley: “Neena.” (His word for banana.)

Us: “Neena who?”

Riley: “Peena!”

Isn’t that hysterical? What? You don’t get it? Well, it’s sophisticated humor. It’ll come to you later.

It thrills me no end that my son is funny even at the tender age of 20 mos. (And before that, he was cracking us up without words. He was like a tiny, talented, not-scary mime.)

Do you know it’s a sad fact that millions of people are born each year without a sense of humor? I know, I’ve met some of them. It’s particularly unfortunate if you happen to be on a date with one of these people or are being interviewed by one.

Humor is hugely important to me. I don’t know if you can tell, but I like to laugh. Mostly at myself and my children. (I can’t help it; we provide an endless stream of material.) I don’t know where this came from, exactly, since it’s not like my family sat around the dinner table trading quips when I was growing up.

Though my grandmother was a master of dry humor. She would pronounce a dull Scrabble game or my grandfather’s golf scores “gripping” and have us all snorting with laughter with a single look. She once said to my grandfather when they were dating, “Excuse me, but I believe you’ve mistaken my knee for the gearshift.” LOL!

If anything, my sons’ humor comes from their dad’s side of the family. My husband famously once snuck up on his sister wearing a gorilla mask while she was writing in her diary. Hilarity ensued. He still cracks up just talking about it.

It’s a well-known fact that one of the most endearing sounds in the world is a baby’s laughter. There’s a reason baby-themed entries frequently win “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” (Followed closely by pets, old people, and rednecks getting kicked in the crotch.)

We do have a lot of laughter in our house. And thank god for that. Because when they’re not cracking me up, my kids can — and do — drive me “neenas.”

VIDEO O’ THE WEEK: Who knew a raccoon puppet in a trash can could be so funny?


Learning to Love It

I don't use a typewriterI first went out on my own as a full-time freelance writer over 8 years ago. I was pushed to the brink by a soul-sucking corporate job and wanted nothing more than to be my own boss, be in charge of my own time. But the funny thing is, I would still show up to my office (which I rented with a few other self-employed people) every day at 8:30 or 9 a.m. and stay till 5 or 5:30. Regardless of whether I had 8 hours of work to do or not.

Sure, you could say I had a good work ethic, and certainly my time and effort in the beginning did pay off. But why was I still keeping the hours and the confining schedule I’d resisted so much as an employee?

Another freelancer acquaintance wondered why I didn’t take off on sunny days to go to the park or have lunch with a friend, or leave work early on Fridays just because I could. “I hope you eventually learn to enjoy the perks of self-employment,” she told me.

But I was afraid. Afraid of being labeled a slacker. Afraid of becoming a failure. Afraid of what other people would think. Afraid I’d slide down a slippery slope and find myself sitting on the couch eating Ben & Jerry’s in my bathrobe and watching reruns of “The Golden Girls” every day.

The same could be said of my transition to full-time stay-at-home mom/part-time work-at-home mom when my first child was born. (How I define myself depends on the week and my workload.) When I was a brand-new mom, I rarely allowed myself to lounge around in my PJs, watch daytime TV, or even go shopping or to the gym during the day. Everyone else was at work, I thought. And MY work was now taking care of this tiny person. I’m damn sure not going to treat this as an extended personal day. People will think I’m a slacker!

As if ANYONE would use the term “slacker” to define someone who devoted her time, energy, and breasts to her baby 24 hours a day. Nursing him around the clock, changing diapers, doing laundry, taking him to countless doctor’s appointments, CHARTING HIS BOWEL MOVEMENTS, for pete’s sake! I was working harder than I ever had in corporate America, that’s for sure. And with no lunch breaks or sick days!

It took me awhile — 2 kids and 4 years, to be exact — but I’ve loosened up. Some days I stay in my pajamas (or yoga pants) all day. Some days we have pancakes for lunch. I usually work while my (second) baby is napping, but if it’s been a rough day I may take a nap myself or zone out on the couch watching “Oprah.” I’ll take the kids to the mall on a Friday morning, spend my older son’s preschool time reading blogs, or have a picnic on a Tuesday simply because it’s nice out.

I’ve learned to enjoy the perks of the life I’ve chosen. I don’t worry so much about whether other people will think I’m a slacker. I wish I had TIME to be a slacker! What was the biggest adjustment to motherhood for you?

“kidney” – the leftover loot from Halloween; apparently out of sight ISN’T out of mind

“ah-pane” – those things that fly overhead several times day; and every single plane has to be noticed and commented on

“fie” – what he calls his pacifier. Get it? Paci-FIE-r.


Daylight Savings Sucks

Crayons don't taste goodWarning: I’m in a bad mood. This is probably going to be a grumpy, whiny rant so if you’re looking for rainbows and sunshine, click away. I blame daylight savings time. I remember when I first discovered what a joke the supposed “extra hour” of sleep is for people with babies.

And when people say they wish there were more hours in the day, I’m guessing they do not mean the cold, pre-dawn, pre-coffee hours or the long, cold, now-dark hours between 4 and 7 p.m. At least not when you have to share those hours with 2 loud, whiny, and often damp children age 4 and under. (Some of whom like to eat crayons.)

My 20 m.o. is back to his newborn ways. He’s waking up at 4:30 a.m. wailing and thrashing. Only now he can talk, so his wailing sounds like this: “Mommeeeee! Daddeeeee! Mommeeeee! Daddeeeee!” and on and on until you go get him. And we do, if only so our 4 y.o. doesn’t wake up and come bounding out of his room to get in on the action.

Sometimes, Daddy can get the baby back to sleep in the rocking chair, and sometimes against my better judgment, I let him get into our bed. But usually he’s wet and frequently stinky. (What the HELL?! Huggies Overnite diapers worked like a charm with my firstborn.) And if you change his diaper, then he’s wide awake and up for a game of “Let’s turn Mommy’s nostrils inside out” or “Pinch the skin on Daddy’s neck really, really hard.”

Some nights it’s like musical beds. C. may fall asleep in Miles’ bed or in Riley’s chair. If Miles comes into our room because he had a bad dream, I might move to his room because C. is snoring and Miles tends to kick me in the ribs. You never know where you’re going to wake up, or with whom. It’s like college only everything smells like pee instead of beer.

(True story: in college my freshman roommate was on the soccer team. One night after a raging soccer party her teammate next door got up to go to the bathroom and mistook our room for hers when she came back. So I woke up to find a drunk girl trying to climb into bed with me. Of course my roommate, who was also drunk, found this hysterical.)

And the getting-dark-early part of daylight savings? Is a TERRIBLE thing. This means that after Riley wakes up from his nap and Miles has been forced to play quietly by himself while I work, we can’t go outside and play, but have to remain cooped up in the house. Or else brave the rush-hour traffic to kill time at Target or the mall or other germ-infested places where you’ll end up spending money for no reason. I hate this time of year.

Aren’t you glad you stopped by? 😉

LINK O’ THE WEEK: Speaking of drunk bed-hoppers, Stefanie Wilder-Taylor’s “Open Letter to Charlie Sheen” is hilarious. I really do feel sorry for his 1-y.o. twins, though. Hopefully their extended family has a clue.


Top 5 Toys for Boys

Well, it’s that time of year again. The catalogs are arriving by the dozens, the relatives are asking for gift ideas, and my 4 y.o. son is adding items to his Christmas list daily. (The latest additions: a bathrobe and a lava lamp. Who is he, Hugh Hefner?!)

I don’t generally do gift guides or product reviews mainly because I think they’re completely subjective. Just because MY baby loves his toy toolbox and ignores Sophie the Giraffe doesn’t mean YOUR baby will.

And I can honestly say that just about every “award-winning” book and toy given to my kids has gone straight into the Bin of Neglect—that out-of-the-way toy box containing the stuff your kids don’t really play with but that you can’t bear to get rid of. Because it’s AWARD-WINNING!!

But I can tell you what my kids like. And isn’t word-of-mouth from other moms the best way to get the real scoop on anything? So behold: I present to you 5 toys that are winners in our house. These are toys that my boys and their friends go back to again and again. Toys that I’ve even replaced the batteries in, rather than claiming the toy was “broken.”

Please note that I bought exactly NONE of these, proving that complete strangers have better luck giving my kids gifts than their own mother. Enjoy! Only 48 more shopping days till Christmas…

Cool Tools Activity SetCool Tools Activity Set
Age: 18 mos. +
Amazon* Price: $18.99
Part shape-sorter, part toolbox, part catchy-tune player, this toy is a compact kit o’ fun. I love that it has just a handful of parts that click into place and can be closed up inside the box. Years later, we haven’t lost a single piece.

(*Because that’s where I usually buy stuff.)

Melissa & Doug Stacking BlocksNesting & Stacking Blocks
Age: 24 mos. – 6 years
Amazon Price: $9.99
These are great because they don’t take up a lot of space and they appeal to kids of almost any age. They can stack them, put things in them, and of course, knock them down. One caveat: they’re cardboard, so they’re not indestructible. But for $10, you can’t complain. We’re on our second set.

Interstar ringsInterstar Rings
Age: 2+
Amazon Price: $16.77
Babies can use them as teethers, older kids can build things out of these star-shaped plastic thingies. The shape makes them easy to hold and connect together. We’ve made towers, spaceships, even silly hats and glasses out of them.

Winnie The Pooh Ride-On Car
Age: 12 mos. – 3 years
Toys R Us Price: $25.89
We have a slightly different one, with a keyboard and some other random stuff on it, but I think just about any ride-on toy would be as appealing. Toddlers can use it as a walker and bigger kids can push it with their feet. And every age likes pushing all the little buttons. Warning: ours plays especially annoying tunes and doesn’t have an off button. Though you could always “lose” the batteries and the car would still work.

Fisher Price BatcaveFisher-Price Imaginext DC Super Friends Batcave
Age: 3-7 years
Amazon Price: $37.99
Santa brought this for Miles last Christmas, and he’s been playing with it ever since. I think of it as the boy’s version of a dollhouse. (Though I’ve seen plenty of girls playing with it when they come over, too.) It comes with a whole bunch of little characters and plastic pieces, the smallest of which I confiscated so the baby wouldn’t eat them.

If you’re wondering why there aren’t any wooden toys on this list, it’s because the only wooden toys we own have broken. I can’t recommend any, because they simply don’t hold up in our house. Now off you go. Happy shopping!

And since I have such a terrible track record with my own offspring, please tell me: what toys do YOUR kids like best?


Crazy Baby Lady

I have become that crazy lady who grins like a maniac at pregnant strangers. I make faces at babies in the grocery store and squat down to talk to cute toddlers. I literally cannot pass a child without smiling at them and making big googly eyes. In short, I have become my mother.

I have distinct memories of being in the checkout line with my mom when there was a baby in front of us. Every time, she’d make these exaggerated, animated faces like she was Jim Carrey or something. Sometimes she’d throw in some high-pitched “peek-a-boo” for good measure.

As a surly teen who wanted nothing more than to disappear into the linoleum floor, I was mortified. What was WRONG with this woman?!

Fast-forward a couple decades and I’m thinking, “How psyched were the moms of those babies?” They were probably at the end of their rope after a long day of colic and spit-up, and were only at the grocery store in the first place because they were down to their last diaper. They must have been THRILLED that a kind stranger was entertaining their child so they could juggle their wallet and coupons and keys and then get the heck out of there. I know I would be.

In line to vote yesterday, I was behind a woman with a small baby in a sling. This mom was bouncing and swaying and jiggling so much I’m surprised she could even work the voting machine. Every time she’d stop, a tiny cry of protest would echo throughout the room. It was all I could do not to offer to hold the baby for her. But she might have been alarmed to see a complete stranger sniffing her baby’s head.

I can’t help it! You’d think I’d have my fill of babies, having spent nearly every waking hour (and much of the sleeping ones) with my own 2. But I’m drawn to tiny, sparsely-coiffed people in footy pajamas like the cast of “Jersey Shore” to a flashbulb.

I’ve been peed on, pooped on, puked on by other people’s babies. And I don’t care. I’ve spent far too much of my few years of motherhood worrying about what atrocities my babies might inflict on other people. I’m giving those moms a break. Don’t worry about it—I’ve lived through all this and worse. Your little angel can do no wrong in my eyes. And yes, I WILL look at all 207 pictures of her you have on your iPhone.

In fact, I am personally affronted whenever I see someone walk by a baby without a glance. Come ON, people! It’s a BABY! The freaking MIRACLE OF LIFE. At least be polite and feign some interest for 2 seconds, OK?

Unless you’re a teenager with your mom at the grocery store. Then, by all means, ignore the baby. But mark my words—in a couple decades, you’ll change your tune.

LINK O’ THE WEEK: Speaking of crazy, apparently there’s a new celeb parenting trend that “eschews the conventions of American infancy from baby strollers, high chairs and battery-operated toys to excessive praise, forced sharing, and even lullabies.” Thoughts??

PIC O’ THE WEEK: The most ill-conceived play area ever — behold, the Playground of Death.


The Sugar Situation

Will you look at this loot? This (slightly blurry) photo shows the massive pile of candy my son collected trick-or-treating. And that doesn’t even include the haul his baby brother brought in, or the candy we had left over. (We don’t get many trick-or-treaters at our house.)

Oh, how times have changed. It seems like just yesterday he was having his first taste of sugar at his first birthday party. And I was still watering down his juice and mixing plain yogurt with strawberry jam because I thought store-bought yogurt had too much sugar. When we took him trick-or-treating his first Halloween, he didn’t even know what he was collecting because he’d never had candy before, aside from a Dum-Dum or two.

Fast-forward to my second child. One of his first words was “cookie.” He screams for ice cream, hoots for juice, and spits out fruit if it’s not sweet enough. He instantly understood the point of trick-or-treating right out of the gate.

He would toddle adorably up to each door in his Tigger costume, hold out his plastic pumpkin, then turn around and demand that we unwrap each piece of candy immediately. I had no choice but to feed him M&M’s one by one as we made our way through the neighborhood or risk screams that would frighten the pants off even the scariest Halloween ghouls and goblins.

So now we have 10 lbs. of candy in the house and because I’m such a good mom and am concerned about my children’s oral hygiene and nutrition, I will do the only conscionable thing: eat it all myself.

With the kids, it’s pretty much out of sight, out of mind. (Though I need to do a better job of “out of sight.” They spotted the candy on top of the fridge first thing this morning and started screeching for it.)

Not so for the adults in the house. My husband has stronger will power than I do. As for me, I hear those mini Butterfingers calling me from two floors away. The Starbursts tempting me with their tangy goodness. The Junior Mints with their creamy, refreshingly minty center. The crunchy Whoppers and the chewy Laffy Taffy. And Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, you’re the worst of all. I am powerless against your seductive sweetness.

BTW, my son just totally busted me as I was writing this. I thought he’d gone upstairs to bed, but he came sneaking up behind me and caught me red-handed in the plastic pumpkin. I was forced to buy his silence with a Milk Dud.

For the sake of my teeth and waistline, maybe I’d better send the candy into work with my husband. At least the kinds I like. Then again, my preschooler’s pretty smart. Even he would know if he looked at his stash and found only a half-dozen boxes of Dots and Almond Joys that something didn’t add up.

READ O’ THE WEEK: According to this article, “The average trick or treater brings home a haul of 3,500 to 7,000 calories in their bag.” Yowza! Can you guess the best and worst kinds of candy, calorie-wise?

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