I don’t even know where to start…
I am about to walk out onto the back patio last Saturday evening when my three-year-old daughter screams, “Daddy! Watch out for Mr. Buttons Tyroome!”
“Huh? Who is Mr. Button?”
“Mr. Buttons Tyroome! He watches over our patio.”
My wife and I exchange looks as if we have both just realized that our daughter is a certifiable nut job. I am starting to think that M might have a little schizophrenia. I knew it skipped a generation, but I had prayed that my kids would not be afflicted. Yet here I am having a conversation with my toddler about an imaginary overseer of our patio. Of course she may just have a vivid imagination…and no, there are no “diagnosed” schizoids in my family…(I do not speak for my wife’s family)
I inquire further about Mr. Buttons Tyroome and it turns out that he is a rather small (exact size not yet determined), orange little man. He has big ears and a big nose. He has no hair, but wears a hat to avoid sunburn. Apparently he also has keys to our house because today M told me that she saw him in our front yard and, “he used his key to come into our house.” She even went so far as to claim that I was with her, and that I saw him too while she hid behind my legs! This kid is nuts…Do they prescribe Lithium for toddlers?
I kid you not, these are actual conversations that I have had with my daughter over the past couple of days. I am thinking that I need to start digging into my in-law’s family mental illness history. I pray that these are the things that go along with having a child with a vivid imagination. Her mind is simply amazing.
Another example of M’s wild imagination and creativity is that she will pre-script conversations. This will happen mainly when we are playing. She will set up the entire scene. She will Tell Mommy and Daddy where to sit or stand; tell us what each person is going to do; and even feeds us our lines. And now I present Surprise Party by M. R. De Mille
SCENE 1, ACT 1
Mommy and Daddy sit on the sofa and hide. M enters the room.
Mommy and Daddy: “SURPRISE!”
M: “Oh, a surprise party for me?”
Mommy” ” yes, a surprise party all for you!”
Daddy ” We got you presents!”
M: “Presents? For Me? YAY!!”
This is just an example of one of M’s little “plays” , as we like to call them. However, now she is starting to think that she can script real life situations. As you all know, we have issues with getting the poor kid to eat dinner. With her recent screenwriting success, she decides that she can script tonight’s dinner after finding out that we are having food that she does not want. Please enjoy Dinner by M.R. De Mille.
ACT 1 SCENE 1
M: Eats ONLY a banana for dinner. NO TACOS, and NO BEANS
M: “Can I please be excused?”
Daddy: ” Of course you may be excused and you can go watch TV!”
I just sit there scratching my rapidly greying hair in amazement. What is this kid going to be like when she’s a conniving teenager? We are so screwed…
This weekend offered many firsts for our kiddos (and us for that matter!). The wife and I thought that it might be fun to take M & B on a picnic. In our heads we had it planned out that we would hit a shady park around lunch time on Saturday and we would have an authentic picnic. However, the fact that we have two children that are of the age in which a daily nap is still a necessity, our vision of a proper picnic would not work. Instead, after noon naps, we packed up a bevy of snack foods, loaded up the rug rats and headed out to have our makeshift picnic.
We decided to venture away from our regular park and went to find a new spot for our picnic. We searched online and settled on an old park near downtown Plano. We selected this park partly because it was playing host to an event that we just had to witness. That’s right, The Texas Tree Climbing Championships…in Plano??? Last I checked Plano was filled with overpriced homes and hordes of affluent drug addicted high schoolers. I don’t recall seeing any trees that could serve as the championship of anything other than a coveted HOA yard of the month award. Needless to say, we had to go if only to poke fun at the event.
We get to Bob Woodruff Park and we follow the signs pointing toward the” Tree Climbing Event”. We get out of the car and, as expected, I am not seeing trees that are much different or larger than those on my street. Oh well, we are here and we might as well set up our picnic and make fun of the arborlogical dorks. We walk from the parking area on the sidewalk which quickly ducks out of the standard park clearing into a heavily wooded area. “Wow”, we said as we walk toward what have to be some of the larger trees that we have seen in Texas.
Turns out that some of these trees are friggin’ close to 500 years old! Maybe these arborlogical dudes are not dorks afterall…on second thought, they are still dorks…they are grown men…climbing trees…We decided to stay with the other 100 or so spectators (20 of which were a latino family having a cookout that just happened to be in the same place as the tree climbers). So we spread out the ole blanket and broke out the snacks. We stayed long enough to see two contestants and we had our fill of watching grown men do what we all did when we were 12. I could swear I heard them announcing the next event, “Attention all sling shot and rock skipping contestants…” as we made our way back to our car. All in all, our first family “picnic” was a success and I am looking forward to doing it again (only without the overgrown kids hopefully).
Another first that was experienced this weekend was that I took M to see a movie in a theater. I did not know what to expect because the girl cannot sit through a DVD at home without losing interest or talking the entire time. We load up and head to the theater for the first showing of the day. I was thinking perhaps the theater would not be crowded in the event that M decided to talk over the movie like she does at home. As we pull into the parking lot I see few cars and the outlook is good for a small crowd.
After a brief explanation to M on proper movie etiquette we make our way to the ticket booth. At the last minute I make the judgement call and decide not to see the 3D version of the new Shrek joint. I could see the excitement on M’s face. It is the most awesome thing to witness a child in full amazement of what they are seeing or doing. Her eyes were lit up and she was grinning so big that her eyes were squinted. I can’t explain how it made me feel to see her so excited. Next stop, the snack bar!
Just when I thought that her eyes couldn’t get any wider, they almost popped out of her head when she was standing, nose pressed to the glass of the candy display, and she heard me say, ” You can have any candy you want”. While I was not pleased with her selection of Dots, I upheld my word and bought them for her. Those have to be about the nastiest candy of all of the available choices. Of course, that did not stop her from eating most of the box during the movie (aside from the couple that I had…I had to test for quality…yeah that’s it).
We made our way into theater number 15, a fully packed, number 15. “Oh great”, I thought as we grabbed the last two available seats. My little etiquette lesson must have done some good because she hardly uttered a word during the entire movie except to tell me she needed to potty. AND we only went to the potty once during the entire movie! I could not believe that I walked into a movie theater with a three year-old and we sat through the entire movie in silence and only one short bathroom break. It was at that moment that I realized that my toddler handles a movie better than her mother. I think I just found my new movie date!
So two of my buddies and I decided it would be a good idea to do a daddy-daughter camping trip. We all have daughters ranging from 3 to 6 years in age and none of them have been camping before. A weekend was selected and a camping location agreed upon. After a week’s worth of negotiations with my wife, we wer finally cleared for take-off.
Rather than take the economic option and carpool, I was forced to take my own vehicle in the event that M could not handle life on the prairie (I conceded this point during negotiations). This actually ended up being a nice decision because of all of the crap that I had to bring for a one-night camping trip.
The items required for M were as follows (keep in mind this was a one-night event): M had 2 pants, 5 shirts, 3 panties, 4 pairs of socks, a blanket, 2 stuffed animals, 1 princess miniature camp chair, 1 sleeping bag (princess graphics of course), 2 pairs of shoes, 1 towel, 1 pillow, 2 gallon-sized Zip-Lock bags full of every child medicine known to man. Turns out that the only item that I was short on was princess band-aids (I was only outfitted with 4, and once one of them was issued, it seemed that all of the girls mysteriously developed injuries), and last, but not least, a little potty for the girls (this had to be one of the most valuable items we had…guess I just assumed that nature-potty-ing came natural to little girls like it did for us boys…I don’t want to even think of the issues we would have had without that miniature miracle of modern convenience…). In addition to the food items that I was assigned to bring for the group, I had to bring the food items that are M-friendly because she is still a pretty dedicated non-meat-eater. To say the least, the back of my SUV was crammed full (I think it took longer to load and unload than the duration of the actual trip).
A short two hours (and 3 pit stops) later we finally arrived at the camp grounds. While we didn’t get the perfect site, we were able to get a pretty good one. We attempted to bribe the girls with a little snack in hopes that this would keep them occupied while we started setting up tents. Of course this did not work. I counted at least 15 times that there was a toddler/pre-schooler diving into the tent as we attempted to set it up. I won’t even get into how the air mattresses were treated as trampolines…That being said, the tents went up without a hitch.
It was about this time that the third daddy-daughter team arrived (conveniently just after all of the hard work was done hehe). The only reason I mention the late arrival of our third tandem is that they stopped at the general store up the road from the camp site and my buddy unwillingly made a purchase that would haunt us for the rest of the trip.
Inside this standard little general store, tucked away in the back corner behind the fishing lures and Little Debbie snakes was a little display/dispenser of highly polished, multicolored rocks. The idea being that you grab a little draw string bag and fill it with your choice of as many stones as you could fit for a flat rate. Well, my buddy, being the great dad that he is, lets his daughter get a small pouch of said rocks, and any of us would have done the same. However, what my buddy did not know, what any of us did not know, was that these little rocks would be the center of much controversy amongst the daughters. You would have thought that this little girl was the Pablo Escobar of geodes with the way that the other daughters reacted upon seeing them…”yo man, how much fo just one rock?” “I need it, I gotta have it, man” “you got so many rocks, I’ll do anything…cain’t have just one?” The dialog may not have been quite so Menace II Society-ish, but you get the idea.
Despite the small spats over the rocks, things were going pretty well. We took the girls on a nice little hike and let them throw some rocks into the stream. They would have stayed there for hours if we had let them. It was not just picking up rocks and throwing them into the water. No, they had to find the perfect rock. “I have an idea, let’s toss that bag of multi-colored rocks in the creek, whataya say?”, I said…in my head. It was great to sit back and watch them interact with one another. My 3 year-old was on an entirely different plane than the older girls, but yet they all agreed on one thing, throwing rocks into the creek is big fun. Big fun until my daughter looses her footing and takes a little spill into the drink. Needless to say, our little hike was over shortly thereafter.
We get back to camp and it’s time to get the camp fire up and going. To the girls, the lighting of the camp fire meant one thing, and one thing only, SMORES! So we start cooking up some burgers and dogs when we realize that we forgot to bring any type of eating utensils, plates, cups, etc. Thankfully we were eating a typically hand-held meal, so this was not a huge issue. It just bruised our all-knowing camping egos.
So, the girls ate a combined total of one hot dog (no bun), 1/2 of a hamburger, and one hand crafted peanut butter and jelly sandwich (one guess as to who ate this…) This might be cause for concern had they not eaten a bucket of trail mix, a bag of beef jerky, several snack packs of goldfish, fruit snacks, and a drank gallon of Capri-Sun throughout the day. It should be no surprise that dinner obviously did not take long to finish. Bring on the smores.
The smore feast was a really fun period in the trip. None of the girls had eaten smores before and it was quite a treat for them. They had a blast roasting marshmallows although all agreed that they did not like the “black” part. You can imagine the sticky messes that ensued as the girls picked away the charred exterior of the roasted marshmallows to reveal the melted center. I think I am still picking sticky goo out of M’s hair…(hold your “Something About Mary” references please)
As the daylight faded to dark, the good times roared on for the girls. We provided them all with their very own identical flashlight (you would think that this would keep them from fighting over the flashlights…and you would be wrong). I ended up having to provide my daughter with her own (you guessed it) princess flashlight so that everyone knew which one was her light. Ahh to get into the mind of a toddler…We also had a special treat of glow sticks for the girls to play with in the tent. (Between the “crack” rocks and the glow sticks, Insert your rave jokes here.)
The girls’ normal bed times range from 8:00 to 8:30 PM. It was around 11:00 PM that the screaming and giggling finally died down and they all passed out. The daddy’s stayed up until around 3:30 AM enjoying some fire-side beverages, stoking the fire, and solving the world’s problems.
I crawl into my tent and just as I get comfortable I hear the crunching of sticks and leaves outside as someone approached my tent. Then I hear the dreaded, “Merrit is awake and needs to tinkle”. Are you F-ing kidding me! I get up, grab a very groggy and cranky M and head out to the potty. She does her business and I head back to tuck her into her sleeping bag alongside the other girls. Of course she would not just go back to sleep, she wanted me to sleep with her. When I tried to take her over to my tent you would have thought that I shot her dog. Needless to say, we had two six-man tents and 5 people ended up sleeping in one tent and one lucky daddy had an entire tent to himself. No, that lucky daddy was not me…
You would think that since the girls stayed up until 11:00PM or later that they might sleep in, but you would be wrong again…After such a late night and the fact that we were short on eating utensils, we decided to scrap the delicious bacon, sausage and egg breakfast that we had planned (and were soo looking forward to!) to opt for the Pop-Tart variety.
As we ate our “fresh” pastries, the daddy types sleep-packed and tore down camp while the daughter types tried to score more crack from one another. The time was about 10:00 AM when we were finally ready to hit the road home. You can probably guess our first stop. Yep, that infamous general store to score some rocks!
We always thought it was funny when our friends would tell us about their children sleeping in the parent’s bed. We never understood how that could happen. We had the perfect child (don’t we all). In fact, we used to try to bring our toddler into our bed when she was sick or scared. M would lay in the bed about 5 minutes and then she would ask to go back to her own bed. We had it good and those other parents were suckers.
That was then. In recent months our three-year-old daughter has started to infiltrate our bed. At first it was once or twice a week. She would wake up from a bad dream and would come to our room crying at three o’clock in the morning. We would of course scoop her up into our bed for comforting (with the knowledge that she would be heading back to her bed soon). After waking up a few times with a small foot in my face, or rolling over and bumping heads with her little head, I noticed that M had decided to stop going back to her own bed. No big deal, right? I mean, it’s only once or twice a week…
I couldn’t have been more wrong. Now, it is commonplace to wake up in the morning with two women in my bed. M’s sleeping in our bed has gone through a process of evolution. At first, it was the five-minute visit every now and then. Now it has evolved into a nightly occurence. She even brings her pillow, blanket and Haiti (her stuffed Monkey). It’s like she’s slowly moving into our room! Which brings me to the most recent stage of her sleep evolution. Skipping her bed and going straight to ours…
Yep, last night we put M to bed in her bed like always. We read the stories, said the prayers, fetched the water, applied the band-aids, and assembled the sleep brigade of stuffed animals. She was down for the night. The wife and I were in watching television and M had allegedly been in bed for about an hour. My wife went back to our bedroom to get ready for bed and she got a nice surprise when she walked in the room. There was M all tucked into OUR bed. She had her blanket and Haiti. M had herself all propped up on the pillows like she was about to watch some Letterman…wide awake. When questioned about why she was in our bed her response was, ” I just wanted to snuggle”. As hard as was to turn down that snuggle, we shuttled her off to her own bed…in tears. Not to worry, she was in my bed this morning as if she had never left.
I now find myself calling out for help to those afore-mentioned suckers… HELP!
Today I would like to take you deep into the psyche of the elusive three-year-old. The mind of this creature is complex and has many layers. I liken them to a small onion of sorts. I am going to share with you the most recent layer that we peeled back on our daughter last night.
We are sitting at the table eating dinner as we typically do. M is having her usual 1 of only 3 meals that she will actually eat, chicken nuggets and tots. She is having her 2nd glass of Ovaltine (she spilled the 1st one…)Now, to fully understand this new layer that I am about to share, you must have a small bit of history, or the previous layer as it were. As discussed in my very 1st post, M does not like to eat dinner, and the entire process has become confrontational from the second we sit down at the table. That table is like the Gaza strip of our house…The wife and I discussed and decided that this confrontational approach to making M eat her dinner is not working and is probably damaging the poor kid psychologically. So, we have started to switch gears as far as forcing her to eat. We have issued a peace treaty. Now, we offer her a meal that consists of what we are eating for dinner and something that she has traditionally eaten in the past…comfort food so-to-speak. We used to force her to take a bite of everything on the plate and it was a huge battle, as you know. Now, we don’t force anything. We simply remind her that she can eat what she wants, but that there is no more food after dinner. Back in the days of the war, when dinner was a confrontation, M would come up with every excuse in the book to get down from the table. The big one being that she had to go potty. The child will sit for hours in the house before dinner and not a single mention of the potty. As soon as she scans that plate and decides that she doesn’t like what she sees her bathroom parts activate. (or so she claims…at least 50% of in-dinner-potty trips are phantom). So, as we are in the transition to peace time meals, there are still the defences in place for her…i.e. the potty trips. Since the child is only 3, we typically don’t call her bluff and we take her to the potty, even with the 50% phantom rate. As a part of the peace treaty, we have tried to get her to be a little more independent and go to the potty alone. She is such a girl…already needs a bathroom partner every time she goes…she will be an excellent sorority sister or binge drinking partner to any of you young toddler ladies out there…you know who you are.
Last night we sit down at the table and she fires off her defensive potty missile. In the spirit of our new peace time efforts we do not return fire and force her to sit and eat, but instead, we tell her to go potty by herself. She gets up and runs off to the potty, or so we think. Approximately 3 seconds later she returns and says she doesn’t have to potty. So we chalk that up as a phantom run to try to get out of eating. Over the next few minutes she keeps mentioning that she needs to potty and we keep telling her to go. She sits and continues to eat. She then pulls out another of her defensive weaponry which she developed to combat our not letting her potty during dinner (during war-time we sometimes called her potty bluff and didn’t take her to potty, and we were typically correct). She states that she’s starting to pee in her panties…she has fired this weapon before and she is only shooting it out there to see if we will rush her off to the potty (yes, this worked in the past for her)…you can probably gather that the little girl is smart and she is adept at the practices of deceipt to get what she wants…and she’s only 3…
Back to the story…she issues the statement that there’s tinkle in her panties. I look under the table and there is no tinkle…of course there’s no tinkle, she’s bluffing. Well, we are not going to fall for this bluff. We simply continue to eat and remind her again that she can go potty any time she wants. I will give you 3 guesses as to what my child did next…
Just as I am finishing off a bite of my baked tilapia we hear it…at first it’s like a piece of selefane being wrinkled…no wait, it’s liquid…OMG! She is peeing at the table!! That’s right, instead of going to the potty by herself, she just let rip right there at the dinner table! I ask you this, was this our fault for not accompanying her to the potty when she is perfectly capable of going alone? Was this done out of spite by my not-so-innocent 3-year-old? Has she just declared war again?
Well yesterday afternoon just may have secured me a Father Of The Year Award. I got off of work early and picked up the kids. A great start to the weekend so far, right?
We get home, I get M her usual drink and snack and start her favorite tv show. I take B into the other living room and he sits with me on the couch. I flip through the channels and find the typical early afternoon blah of nothing to watch. So what to do? Why not fire up the PS3 and play a little Call of Duty? So there I was getting my ass kicked online by a bunch of teenagers with Baby B on my lap. Perhaps our first father-son bonding was unfolding right then and there…nothing like subjecting your 5 month-old to bloody video game violence while you share a beer…well, maybe that last part didn’t happen…let’s just say I know how Clark Griswold felt when he and Rusty had their bonding moment out there in the desert.
This is where things start to go downhill…M starts calling me from the other room that her movie has stopped playing. So, instead of picking B up and carrying him with me, I look down at him and he is just shy of dozing…I make the super intelligent decision to just leave him on the sofa where we had been father-son bonding. I walk into the other living room where M has been camped out only to see that she had decided to get her own snacks. Normally this would not be a big deal because she would just go to the pantry and we have for her a low shelf just for her snacks. On this day she decided she wanted a banana…and an apple…she had climbed up on the kitchen counter to retrieve the fruit. I have not figured out why, but she also had a knife. Now before you freak completely out, the knife was a butter knife…but you get the point…my toddler had a knife! And she had been on the kitchen counter! While I was coming to this realization I hear B screaming…I go to check on him in the other living room where I had left him cozy on the sofa watching Call of Duty kill cams. I get half way into the room and notice that B is not on the sofa where I left him. He is on the floor! I felt so awful. The poor guy was confused and alone and had just had his first fall. His worthless dad was in the other room disarming his 3-year-old. The baby was fine, and M still has all of her fingers. Needless to say, I think that FOTY Award is mine!