Rookie move

Peanut loves the bath, but some days is feeling obstinate. Shocking, I know, given his age and his temperament. So I broke out the classic fail-safe last night for the first time this year: “choose your bath color tonight.” A little cake gel colorant dissolved in a coffee cup and poured ceremoniously into the tub, and we had a whine- and struggle-free purple bath.

battle-free technique no. 1

Battle-free technique number one

Nor, this particular evening did Peanut want to brush his teeth. We proffered the toothbrush that blinks. To no avail. Offered a choice of toothpastes and the option to self brush first or after parental brushing. Nothing. We suggested an upside down brushing (dangling toddlers works for anything but three year olds are *so* over that technique) but he declined. We settled for the threat, our last resort: no teeth, no stories. If you say yes stories, you say yes teeth. Your choice. We have no stake in the answer.

Grumblingly whiningly sold. Clean teeth and the never-yet-missed two stories.

There must be a better way.

So I thought of you. I’m offering up this post for those of you who are struggling with or masters of issues of any kind…let’s do a greatest hits of how to get around our children’s behavior. The colored bath and the upside down teeth brushing are my favorites at home. In public, a special purse toy that only comes out when I need five minutes of quiet work for us. Haircuts and hair tangles, in our house, get homemade yogurt popsicles in the tub. And veggie avoidance that goes on too long get broiled (425 degree, olive oil and salt) veggies delivered fresh from the oven to a Peanut in the tub. Because my kid thinks eating in the bath is the height of decadence. Whatever, dude, every other kid gets good bribes, like candy, but you don’t need to know that.

And for doctor’s visits, which none of us fear but I know some families do, are scheduled later the same week as one of my doctor’s visits, so he can see everything happen to me first.

What do you do for the reluctant toothbrusher? What is your magic, fail-safe, works every time trick for some issue your kid wants to get around? What issue do you desperately need advice on? Feel free to post anonymously. Just make up a fake email account from yahoo or hotmail and ask or answer as you see fit.

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Unsolicited parenting advice

Over at Bad Mommy Moments there is a dumping ground for all your parenting advice, to enable who want to ignore another batch of well meaning parents a place to peruse and ignore.

I wanted, though, to put my two  cents here, because I can get my readers to add to Bad Mommy’s list of “lose your expectations,” “laugh at  yourself,”  “always apologize,” and the ever popular “don’t go to the indoor playground hungover” advice. And because if my readers don’t hit her comment section my invaluable and genius advice will go to waste. So I offer these points for your complete disregard:

1. Find the parenting book that agrees with you, and only read that one. The others are all full of crap. Clearly, since they don’t agree with you.

2. While you’re pregnant, you can get used to having a child by having a timer set in your house to go off every 10 minutes; and every time it rings, do the opposite of what you’re doing. while holding a gallon of milk under your arm. (Not by the handle. That’s too bloody easy.) You may not continue ANYTHING for more than 10 minutes.

3. Practice the following lines for advice that makes you want to smash your fist into something soft and tooth-filled:
“That’s an interesting way to look at it.”
“Hmmmmm.”
“Well, we’re going to try it this way for a while.”
“That’s what our pediatrician told us to do.”
That’s all you need. Any more polite than that and the idiots will think they’re right. I use “Well, you had your chance with yours, and now it’s my turn.” Be careful. This is only for advanced curmudgeons who enjoy putting people off.

4. You will find the most unusual advocates, and those who you expect to support you will turn on you. So test everybody out, and run screaming from the people who make you question yourself.

5. Breastfeeding is not easy but almost any problem can be solved, so get help. Really.

6. People will tell you to make sure you take time for yourself. You will nod, and think, “of course I will.” Yeah, well, schedule it now. Put an hour right around bathtime and dinner on the calendar for five nights a week. LEAVE THE HOUSE for that hour. If you’re single, get someone to come over and help. If you work outside the home, your time by yourself is the ride to work and the times you get to pee and eat alone. If you don’t get to pee by yourself at work, consider changing careers.*

*And if you have to pump while you pee at work, call the state office of employment, because that’s probably illegal.

7. Let go of the little stuff. For two reasons: one, you can’t do it  all, and two, if you don’t pick your battles, you will lose your mind. In our house we don’t care about bibs or stains or matching clothes or eating with forks. We don’t limit the number of band-aids we put on the outside of our clothes or the number of chores we willing hand over to someone who does them significantly less well but does them because he wants to be part of the family.Boy in pink sandals and toenail polish? Okay. Tricycle in the house? Okay. We hold the line firmly on the important things. Seat belts. Sunscreen. Hats outside. Hold hands in the street. Helmet. Only gentle touches. Thank you notes. That’s about it as far as rules go.  (Hush, all you fans of chocolate day who found out there’s a limit on the quantity that day.)

8. Nobody else has to raise your kid, so nobody else gets to tell you how to do it. The ONLY thing to listen to is your gut. They’re your children. You’ll know, if you’re really honest with yourself, what they need.

9. Invent milestones that they will always remember. There are a few major holidays, but do camping in the living room (and the backyard), and half birthdays with half cakes, and breakfast for dinner nights, and board game nights.

10. And the most important: Do not, do not, do not think that breastfeeding is birth control. Seriously, that’s playing Russian Roulette with the easy-bake baby oven, friends.