Warning: fugitive at large

Police in the Bay Area are looking for the perpetrator of a heinous crime: teaching a three-year old to say, “Whatever, Mommy” in response to her urgent requests to “listen to her words”.

The authorities have a few suspects in their sights. First, the father of said three-year-old, who has been known, in both times of calm and of rage, to tell his wife, “Oh, whatever.” Also on the suspect list is grandma, who has been witnessed on numerous occasions to roll her eyes and sigh, “what-eeeever.” The select few who have seen both these suspects use the epithet in question have also been known to shoot her disparaging looks while intoning, “oh, right, like you’re perfect.” Police are afraid that if they don’t capture the Whatever Bandit, the toddler might become a snide, sarcastic preschooler.

The suspects were reported to police by the child’s mother, after she gave him a timeout and told him he could say ‘whatever’ to the cats or the ants that are overtaking the house, but not to people. When asked why she was so shaken by the child’s response to her requesting that he pull the drain plug at the end of bathtime, she answered that she is terrified that preschools won’t admit him, after the two year waiting list finally clears, because of his tween-y behavior.

“I’m just desperate to get him in the care of some responsible, child-development expert who will reinforce the gentle discipline we’ve tried to teach,” she says. “Or anyone else who will have him. If they refuse to admit him because he rolls his eyes and bleats his little falsetto ‘whatever’ to teachers, what the hell am I going to do?”  The bags under her eyes tell a tale of strained patience, as do the nervous tics we noticed while reporting this crime.

When asked if she, by chance, could have used the term, “whatever,” even in passing, she adamantly denied it. “Of course not. I’m very careful with my words. We say ‘you’re doing it yourself’ not ‘good boy;’ we say ‘you must have worked hard on this, you should be proud of yourself,’ instead of ‘I love this!’; and we always use ‘I love you and I don’t love hitting’ instead of ‘you’re going to go live with your uncle if you hit again, you terrible little terrorist!’ But if you don’t believe me, whatever.”

If you have any information about the whereabouts of the reckless cad who taught this small child such language and its appropriate use, please call your local FBPI (Federal Bureau of Parental Insanity) branch. They are willing to let drop the whole “who taught him to yell ‘dammit’ every time he drops something” issue, since they know it was reinforcement by both of the aforementioned parents that solidified that one.

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Ah, perspective.

After getting so far in the weeds I couldn’t see the sky anymore, I grabbed my copy of Elizabeth Pantley’s The No Cry Discipline Solution.

I’m feeling much better now. A bit of perspective, a few new techniques, some reinforcement for our AP style, and a welcome reminder that all the stuff I used to do was very well grounded in child development and therefore might work again.

Sigh. Pantley brought some welcome help for our sleep issues (not a solution, by any stretch, but some help) and is now my new best friend for getting back to teaching and away from yelling. She might just be my Valentine this year.

Okay, that’s it.

Attention ants: Stop it. I know it’s warm in here, I know it’s dry in here. I don’t want you in here. Stop it before I run out of Biokleen spray, because its replacement is decidedly less pleasant for all of us.

Attention interest rates: Stop it. Fucking settle around the low 5s and stop. For fuck’s sake. We’re trying to fix an economy here, and you’re not helping. Greedy fucking bank jerks who stole our 401ks. Stop, stop, stop. Just lend everyone nice some money and quit trying to turn 2005 profits. Stop it stop it stop it.

Attention toddler: Keep up what you’re doing, boy. We’re having a great month. You’re doing very well. Nice effort on the friendliness, the compromising, and the listening. You’re a fine and decent human. Keep up the good work.

Attention early morning freight trains: Stop it. You don’t need the horn. Nobody on the planet could miss the blinking lights and dinging bells and dropped crossing arm. Stop honking your horn at 4am already.

Attention everyone on the planet: Step off! Just get out of my way for a few days. I have a novel to send to KGT, about which I’m terrified, even though she’s the sweetest and most gentle creative soul I’ve met, including MPG, who is the sweetest and most gentle creative soul anyone has ever met. While dealing with that fear (and unfinished novel that has two days to be finished), I also have to stop interest rates, decide whether to buy a house, decide how to finish this conference paper, decide whether to think about another kid, decide whether I can pull off above the knee striped socks with a skirt and an aircast. It’s an artificial-crisis-filled stressful month, and I’d like to ask that you all stay home, stop calling, and take a step away from the car keys. Just have some eggnog, chill, and resume your duties after the new year. (NDM, you may resume whenever, since the whole international date line gives you an extra day, anyway, and you wouldn’t get in my way, anyway, since you’re busy not drowning on the other side of the world, fighting to keep the world a better place than the rabid monkey blogs ever could without you.)

Attention babysitters: please select the best amongst yourselves and call me. I have no idea how to find one of you, but I need to see Spouse once before Peanut turns three. It would make three dates in three years, and I’m begging you…please call your own references, because I don’t have time. That’s why I haven’t found you yet. I haven’t looked. It’s a daunting task, one that should be important enough to stop parenting for the three months or so I assume it takes to find a good sitter, but that would sort of make the whole thing a bigger deal than I’m willing for it to be, seeing as I just want one stinking date with my husband in 2009. At least, I mean, but still. Ah, fuck it. I’ll just have Netflix send something not subtitled, and we’ll have our stinking Hot Tamales and popcorn on the cat-litter dusted couch. Sigh.

Attention world governments: please, please hear me now. I’ve figured out the secret to world peace. It came to me in the car (you know, that thing that very few people in the world have, and I’m way too spoiled to even have that, considering what most of the people in the world go through daily). The world would stop its fighting if every man woman and child had working indoor plumbing. Clean water, yes. That’s just necessary, though millions don’t have it. But beyond that, a flush toilet in some sort of structure where you can go all by yourself and close your eyes and have one minute of peace and quiet. And I’m going to go out on a limb here, and GUARANTEE world peace if somehow Bill and Melinda can get everyone a heated toilet seat. I know. We need to fix malaria and AIDS and birth traumas and birth defects and maternal health and cancer and everything else that afflicts the world populations. But once we’re all healthy, we might still be angry. Not with a heated toilet seat. There would be no wars if everyone had a heated toilet seat (which, if you were paying attention above, requires clean water and indoor plumbing, and about three thousand steps of poverty and disease eradication before the heated seats, but still).

Just consider it. Because once I go against my personal beliefs and kill all the ants in the house and strangle bank interest rate people and put a huge boulder on the railroad tracks and kiss my toddler and get a sitter and finish my novel and cure all those diseases, I would really like, for once in the winter, to not freeze my ass just trying to keep the house cleaner than our cat is willing to. And I can’t enjoy a heated toilet seat unless the rest of the world is also fed and healthy and happy and not abused and not endangered and also evacuating on a lovely, clean, heated toilet seat.

So there.

Uh-oh, I’m disqualified

So I got an awesome response about the non-violent, non-scary videos post, and someone pointed me to some yahoo groups that discuss nonviolent communication. (Never mind that the first group listed is a polyamory group. I need extra time to see if I qualify for that one.)

But I noticed that, once again, I’m totally out of the running for attachment parenting and natural parenting and wild parenting, and all those awesome hippie natural respectful styles that I thought were totally up my alley. Why? ‘Cuz we occasionally teach using timeouts and punishment. I know, I know. Might as well use a playpen, as long as we’re totally failing our kid.

Yup. Our kid hits, he gets either a timein or a timeout. Timein is where we remove him from the situation and talk with him about how hitting is not okay, how it hurts, and how words are better. Timeouts are where I can’t do a timein without losing my cool, so I send him to another room, corner, side of the house by himself. Yup, he cries. He is very sad and should have attention and human contact. But at that moment, the only contact avaialable to him is the very un-AP palm of my hand, so he gets to weather the consequences of anti-social behavior alone. Not how I want to parent, but it beats beating him.

I’m also out of the realm of AP, GP, and something new to me called Aware Parenting, because there’s that eggregiously selfish post you saw a couple of weeks ago where we decided to bribe him each night for a night’s sleep (only time we’ve ever bribed him). A fistful of stickers are yours if you sleep through the night. Each time you call me, you have to pay me a sticker. Yup. Totally inhumane. I’m telling my high spirited high needs highly sensitive kid that he has to pay for my love at night. But you know what? It’s been working about 80% of the time. My kid, who never slept through the night before 28 months, and still does it only rarely, is now sleeping through the night at least half the time. For stickers. I’ll unsubscribe from the Aware and Gentle and Attachement and Wild parenting forums for that.

I wish we didn’t, at times, lose our temper and punish and bribe. Because these people sound like my kind of people, on 98% of their theories:

“Aware Parenting is attachment-style parenting …which support the following: natural childbirth and early bonding, plenty of physical contact (including night-time closeness), prolonged breast-feeding, prompt responsiveness to crying, sensitive attunement, and non-punitive discipline — no punishments of any kind (including “time-out” and artificial “consequences”), no rewards or bribes, searching for underlying needs and feelings, non-violent communication, peaceful conflict-resolution (family meetings, mediation, etc.). Acceptance of emotional release, awareness of babies’ and children’s vulnerability to stress and trauma, recognition of repressed emotional pain as a contributing factor in many behavioral and emotional problems, recognition of the healing effects of laughter, crying, and raging, respectful, empathic listening and acceptance of children’s emotions.”

Their kids totally lucked out! I’m totally with those parents in theory. Damn, that would be nice, eh? But my kid is stuck with a cranky, sleep-deprived former-academic, former-professor, former-business-owner, former-exectutive, former-creative , AP-poser who only does most of that stuff, is just way too grouchy that she’s gotten her wish for a wonderful, sweet, loving kid instead of the twenty-two other life-long rewarding opportunities she wished for that year.

Damn, man. It’s hard to be a feminist and an attachment parenting type. It’s hard to be an anything and the kind of parent I want to be. But, as our friend JS said, “This respectful parenting stuff ain’t for pussies!”

Gee, how offensively correct you are, sir.

Whatever you do…

…do NOT cave in when they ask, after opening stockings Christmas eve, for just one piece of chocolate.

Grandma, you’ll rue the day you put candy in our kid’s Christmakkah sock.

That toddler had a small chocolate Santa (sure, enormous considering his size, but, still, after a full dinner and the whole confection he asked for more, which is a sign it was less than the one ounce of chocolate he gets each Friday). And he has been singing to himself in his bed, at full volume, in a tykebuddy-in-full-winter-garb-lit room, for 78 minutes. And counting. Invented songs, y’all. Not Christmas classics or Summer Lovin’ or something. Total improv genius he is, btw.

I know that theobromine is not caffeine. But I’ve seen the structure and I’ve seen the effects. And that shit is identical in a three year old body. I’ve drugged my child with mass marketed toxic substances. I’m totally gonna be the cool parent in high school. (For those who know me, ba ha hahahahaha ha. That’ll be the day.)

New rule. No chocolate within eight hours of bed. Unless you’re mommy. Then chocolate only if accompanied by liquor. Mmmmm. Hot chocolate with liquor.

Gotta go so I can be loaded while listening to the toddler carolling.

At least someone values my labor, even if the exchange rate sucks.

Peanut was playing with his Chrismakkah tea set today. (First night present. There are ten days of Chrismakkah because that’s the maximum number of token presents we feel like wrapping.)

I noticed he had spilled water on the floor. “Oh,” I said. “You haven’t cleaned that up. Would you like a towel?”

He walked across the room to the coin purse his uncle gave him. He took out a penny.

“Here, Mommy. I pay you do it.” He offered me the Lincoln.

Well, that is how it works. Sigh. I took the penny. “Okay.” And I cleaned the water.

He looked at me, evaluating. “You keep that money, Mama. I give it you, you earn it.”

True dat, little boy. Now hand over the $1.224 million you owe me for every other minute of cleaning up after you.

Non-violent, non-scary videos

I need ideas. Peanut watches about half an hour of videos once a week, and we’re getting bored with what we have.

We watch Signing Time, Charlie and Lola, and Planet Earth. We’ve checked out Boobah from the library. He loved it, but our new library only has the VHS, which won’t play on my laptop.

These are all fine and lovely, but we’d like something more.

I know it’s a lot to ask, but, ideally not something that appears on sneakers, cereal, or bandages. I’m not in the mood to explain why a Dora scooter is not a better choice than a well made scooter.

We want non-violent, non-sarcastic, non-annoying, non-religious, non-scary movies or shows with no “bad guy” (despite grandma’s best intentions, he still doesn’t know the word “bad” or that there are generally not-nice people out there. He knows there are people who sometimes do not-nice things. He just learned at a play place last week that some people hit their kids.) (Way to go, btw, random mom. I’m sure that slapping your daughter to make her stop grabbing kids’ toys will definitely teach her not to grab. Too bad it will also teach her might makes right and if you’re bigger you can hit people to get what you want. Outstanding work.)

Anyway. Videos. Suggestions? Nothing with “just a few minutes of scary,” or “just one bad guy.” No scary. No badness. No lurking, no dead mothers, no abandoned by parents. Nice stuff. Like Signing Time and Charlie and Lola.

We’re paying our kid to sleep through the night

Well, really, we’re offering our kid stickers to sleep through the night. We’ll see what happens. We gave him three stickers tonight and told him that each time he calls us and we have to come in, we’re taking a sticker back to bed with us. Whatever’s left in the morning he can keep. Whatever we take away gets back onto his bookshelf to try again the next night.

Because seriously, this shit has to stop.

For the record, when he’s scared from a nightmare or cold or hurt, I’m happy to go to him. It’s my job. It’s called parenting. No, we didn’t co-sleep. Couldn’t do it. Variety of reasons. Be gentle with me. I know what follows is not nice. But we’ve tried everything except letting him cry, and I’m hoping bribery is slightly better long-term.

And I know paying him to sleep is totally against our parenting ideas. A child who wakes at night and really needs help, we say, is a child who gets our help. We’ve tried just letting it go. We’ve tried the pediatrician-recommended straight talk express: “Your body needs sleep, mommy’s body needs sleep, daddy’s body needs sleep. When you call for us at nighttime for a cuddle, you wake us up and we don’t get much sleep. If we don’t get much sleep, we get cranky. You don’t like us cranky, so let us sleep. Cuddle your doll and don’t call us.” Didn’t work. He tried hard. But he can’t help waking. He can, however, control whether he calls us or not.

Yeah, well, last night there were seven times between 3am and 4:30am when he NEEDED his socks pulled up and NEEDED his tucked-in covers more tucked in and NEEDED to find a place to put his tissue. So needed them so much that he called out, then called out, then cried, then sobbed. So I told him, each time that he cried enough to convince me he was awake and genuinely sad, and I got out of bed and onto freaking crutches in the wee hours, that he did not need me for those things, and that he was old enough to do it himself. From his doorway I refused to help. Bad parenting awards can be sent to 123 Years I Haven’t Slept, NotNiceParentville, Crappy Parentland, 01234.

And so help me, the seventh time I went in, when he, fifteen minutes after visit number six to his doorway, asked, then begged, then cried, then sobbed that he needed his socks pulled up again, I yelled at him that if he woke me again he’d have to sleep in the yard. He cried. “I don’t want to sleep in the yard.” He’s two and a half. I’m not nice. I’m going to parenting hell. You don’t threaten your kid with sleeping in the yard. That’s not attachment, that’s disordered. I don’t want to yell. But he is capable of sleeping through the night. He’s done it before. He’s just pushing my buttons, and I’m out of patience. I haven’t slept in three years.

Hence the sticker bribe.

I don’t know what else to do. When he was tiny this was expected. When he was wordless, it was still normal, if hard. Now he’s big enough to do most things on his own, if not well. We respect him all his waking hours, but have lost the will to live from 10pm to 5am.

So we’re paying him to leave us alone at night. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Thanksgiving for Santa.

Peanut has been in an intense no-sharing mood for almost a year. So he’s intrigued lately with the concept of giving presents. You give someone stuff, but you’re not sharing. It’s not yours; it’s theirs. You don’t get it back. There is no control after the giving. But there is control in the choosing.

He likes this.

He’s picked out birthday presents for friends, telling me exactly what his friends get and what they don’t. He usually picks out something for himself, too, though he’s perfectly willing to have it put away until birthday, Hanukkah, Christmas, Nana’s birthday (which is a great holiday at our house–Nana’s birthday is a couple days before Christmas, after the all important Solstice. Nana’s birthday is a holiday nobody else gets (except, well, Nana). We love Nana’s birthday. We get presents for no other reason than because we’re lucky enough to have her in our family.)

So we’ve been talking about Santa in our house for two years, because I knew it would come up, and, like making spiders and owls and wolves friendly, and fairy tales completely non-scary, I wanted to manage how this once-benevolent and now out-of-control commercialist holiday is portrayed in our house. I want him to believe in magic and hope and love, but not in getting stuff because you’re good. So I researched Santa Claus and found that the original dude, on whom the St. Nick character is based, was intensely into charity. He gave to the needy. That, Spouse and I discussed, is something we can be down with.

We taught Peanut that Santa, when he was around, gave to people who need. Santa’s not around anymore, but remembering him makes people want to give. True. Not as true as I’d like it to be, but still. (And yes, I did just teach my kid that Santa’s dead. So? He’s a myth. He’s fun to talk about and believe, and being honest now makes it less upsetting to find out later that Santa’s a myth.)

So each year, as often as we can, we give to people who need. After we moved, a truck came to take all the gently used things that we don’t need anymore, but another family might. He was totally fine giving stuff to the truck, because we said it was like Santa’s truck. When we read books about Christmas and Santa has a bag of toys, we tell him that it’s like the fire station and the library having Toys for Tots barrels. Santa has a bag of toys because the family left them out for Santa to take to people who need. Santa’s not bringing to the people in the stories. He’s taking, so he can redistribute. (That’s called being nice, you pre-election hatemongers.)

So I asked Peanut what he wanted to do for Christmas to help like Santa. Last year he wanted to bring toys to the dogs and cats at the local shelter. He loved every minute of giving, in part because he got to choose which dog got which ball, and which cat got which feather. This year he wants to bring apricots to the Food Bank. Because he says they don’t need raisins, but “if they need apricots, I give them apricots.”

Then he said, and I won’t let him forget this ever, that maybe some people just need someone to cuddle them. Maybe, like the babies Grandma cuddles at the hospital, maybe some people just need friends. He would like to find them, he said, and listen to them and cuddle them and make them feel better.

So that’s what we’re doing for Thanksgiving. We’re going to try the local retirement community, and see how he reacts to cuddling seniors. He tends to be wary of older people, so that might not work. Then we’ll bring apricots to the Food Bank.

And we will head to the animal shelter again this year. At least once a month. Because those dang critters love them some attention. And though it’s hard for me not to bring them all home, it makes Peanut feel very important to cuddle small creatures who don’t have families yet. He needs to feel important. And lots and lots of people and pets this year need love. So Spouse and I are going to try to meet as many of those needs as we can, and teach Peanut in the process that the best thing you can do is give.

Santa didn’t come to our house last year, and won’t be coming to our house this year. We don’t need anything. But we’ll make sure that we help whomever we can.

So let us know if you need a cuddle. ‘Cuz we’re ready for ya.

File under: first really embarrassing public moment

Nope, it wasn’t nudity, but good guess. That happened several times in early potty learning, and I didn’t care when he stripped in public. Not my parts, don’t care who sees ’em. And lordy, did that boy drop trou inappropriately. Nope, not tonight. Nor was tonight’s “Holy crap, who said that? Couldn’t be my kid. Maybe this kid is a replacement, sent by aliens who are studying how to make their humanoids more thoughtful and polite like my kid” moment wasn’t pointing out some socially unsavory characteristic about a stranger. He doesn’t even know the really damning words (I leave that to relatives, who, this week alone, have added four words we’ve intentionally NEVER uttered in front of him, to his vocabulary. Sure, we’ve spelled them. Because some people really ARE s-t-u-p-i-d. But he didn’t know them until someone used them in conversation with him. And twit. And bad. Whatever. I give up.) No, this mortification falls under the “Kids Say the Most Inappropriate, If True, but Not Really True, Let Me Explain” category for Bill Cosby. Only he wouldn’t touch this one with a ten foot pole.

Peanut and I are riding on BART, facing the wheelchair-accessible seats. So we have lots of graphics to talk about, mostly evacuation procedures. I’m watching people, discussing with him east and west as concepts. And he is silent for almost a minute, looking at the emergency exit stuff.

He then announces, in full Broadway Belt voice, on a rush hour BART train headed from SF into Oakland:

“White people go on white train; black people go on black train!”

Squelching the impulse to shout, “No! Who taught you that?!” I look where he’s looking. He’s right. Holy, crap, BART people, your evacuation procedures pictures have white people leaving a white train and black people leaving a black train. So his segregationist proclamation is correct, but that’s not the intention of the visual image. I hope. Oh, double crap, how to handle this one?! Where was Mr. Rogers when you needed him? Where is Nebraska’s child abandonment program when you need it? (Okay, not funny. But kinda funny. ‘Cuz some of these here states have some really s-t-u-p-i-d legislatures, no?)

Peanut was very proud of himself for noticing a pattern on a drawing and pointing it out. We say “yay” when he finds patterns in books. Find opposites, find similarities, find something out of place–all of those get a yay. Notice a graphic design nightmare on San Francisco’s trains and you get your mommy into some serious social hot water, little person.

He noticed that, on the aerial structures evacuation procedure, the background is black and the train and people were white. It’s a simple graphic. But right next to it, in the subterranean, transbay tube, and subway graphic, the background is black, the tunnel was white, and, to provide graphic difference, the people and train were all black. Geezus, people, can’t we atleast be consistent with the colors? Can’t all the backgrounds be black or white, and all the trains and people be the same? No, not in the Blueberry-Eating-Smurfiest of all Blue States. No, we need to give equal time to black stick figures and white stick figures. Do they always have to board a train of the same freaking color? Thanks a lot, freaking BART people. Freaking graphic designer from the land of high contrast, low sensitivities. Whatever. I can’t control you a–holes, I can only control my reactions to you a–holes. But let the record show you’re making me look bad here, and making my kid very confused. Or, my reaction will make him confused in three, two, one…

So I tried to acknowledge his discovery AND maintain the huge civil rights gains of the past 150 years.

“Well, honey, that’s just the way they drew the picture. In real trains, ALL people go, and they are lots of different colors. And BART trains aren’t black or white. They’re silver. See? The tracks that are up are in the nighttime, so it’s black in the sky. We couldn’t see the people in the drawing unless they were white. So the picture shows the people white even though people come in lots of colors. And, see, the tracks in the tunnel, show that the tunnel is bright, and we wouldn’t see the people unless they were drawn black. So the picture shows the people black even though people come in lots of colors. See? It’s just a drawing. BART is silver, and we’re pink, not white or black.” [Pathetic. Liberal p.c. oversensitive bullshit pathetic bad parenting yuck. And yet, yay for not overreacting or denying the reality of the freaking white people getting on the white train and the black people getting on the black train. Have I cursed you BART graphics a–holes enough yet? No.]

“Mommy, we no pink. We plain. With little red, right there.” He points to a lovely zit on my chin and moves on to ask for pretzels.

He’s done. I’m not. I’m surrounded by a variety of people, none of whom care (and why not? he’s cute and he’s finally intelligible, so you could at least listen and smirk a little at his huge social gaffe) but to whom I’d like to give a moving speech about how we don’t teach him that people are different, that we teach him all people deserve respect, that people come in all colors, that public places are for everybody (the last one just because he demands that other people leave any place he really likes, especially when there are fire-juggling unicyclists, but that’s another BART story for tomorrow).

I just want everyone around me to know that this boy who seemed to pronounce belief in a new era of separate but equal is really just noticing what some total loser jerk graphic designer with no foresight neglected to read the “socially significant” part of her creative brief. And who approved those black and white graphics? Is it so much more expensive to have purple people and green people? They’re web-safe and could serve as the emergency procedures online, too. Please. Throw me a freaking parenting bone here, people! I just want to tell all the people in the seats around us, most of whom are asleep, and none of whom listens to strange toddler/preschoolers anyway, that this was not a commentary on race relations. My son likes Barack Obama whether he’s photographically brownish or cartoon redish and bluish, as in the yard signs still dominating our neighborhood. In fact, he really likes the red and blue Obama. I do, too. But I don’t draw pictures in which he only gets on a blue and red train, while all the grey people get on a grey train, for feck’s sake.

So I’ve mentioned before what a weirdo I’m raising. Not to be dismissive or judgemental or anything. But he’s a weirdo of untoward proportions. This coming from a HUGE weirdo.

I’m taking a shower in the new house, and he comes running in. “Mommy. I need you, I call you.” Um, there’s a few words missing in there, and I need clarification. “If you need me, you’ll call me?”
“Yes.” And he turns, runs out, and slams the bathroom door.

Two minutes later, he comes back, peels back the edge of the shower curtain and says, “Mommy. Peanut just checking to see if you okay. You okay, okay, mommy?” I can’t help but smile, in that, “man, if someone has to love you, it’s sure a fine opportunity to have someone love you for their complete dependence on you” way. “Yes, baby, I’m okay.” He nods and runs out.

Two minutes later, he comes back, pushes the curtain aside, and says, “Mommy almost all done,” and leaves before I can answer.

Two minutes later, he comes back, peers around the curtain and says, “Mommy, Peanut getting angry Mommy in shower. Mommy all done shower. Peanut no want Mommy shower.” I explain that he can control his body, but he can’t control my body. “Peanut body want play outside. Peanut body no outside no Mommy. Peanut WANT control Mommy body.” And runs out.

Hours later, while he was in the tub, he kept insisting on having a cold bath. Cold bath, need a cold bath. Nope, sorry. It’s 65 degrees in the house (don’t worry–we’re not ogres. There is heat, and it’s on. It’s just set to go off at 57 degrees.) So Spouse announces it’s time to get out of bath (yes, of course he annouces five minutes then three minutes then one minute. What do you think we are, rookies?) Peanut drain the tub himself, then refuses to get out. He plays, no joke, for 10 minutes in a dry tub, naked, and covered with little water drops that he refuses to let us wipe off with (gasp) a towel. Window’s open. It’s November. (Granted, it’s November in the East Bay, but it’s still November.) He takes the tub toys and builds a pretend birthday cake. At least one hundred times. Each time he sings, “Yay, mommy birthday cake! Yay!” My birthday is later this week. We haven’t mentioned it in days. But he’s preparing his pretend celebration already.

So as he’s making the pretend cake, he pulls a cold, wet washcloth on his knee, and proclaims, “Ooooh. That cold. That no good idea, put that on Peanut leg. No good idea. Try something different.” And he builds another cake, with a washcloth fondant.

Um, there’s a thin, thin line between special education and gifted education, I’m guessing. And we’re living life on that line every day.

Does this thing take quarters?

On a long drive home today, I put in a CD and heard a lovely, nostalgic sound–a jukebox swallowing a quarter. My CD player, however, is not a jukebox, and just after the quarter dropped the right speaker went out. Then a high pitched squeal. Then the left speaker went out. I turned around to look at the sweet little creature who sat, totally clueless as to the wrath he would soon face, reading a Lowly Worm book.

“Did you put money in mommy’s radio?”

“No radio. CD player.”

“Did you put money in mommy’s CD player?”

“Yes.”

“Did Mommy tell you no money in the CD player?”

“hmmmmm. Yes.”

“When Mommy tells you no put money in CD, Mommy means no money in CD.”

“”Peanut put money in, money come back out.”

“No. Peanut put CD in, CD come back out. Peanut put money in, money break CD player.”

“Money no breaked it. Mommy breaked it.”

deep, deep breath.

“CD player is for CDs. No money in CD player. Do you understand?”

“Yes. No money in CD player. Money in radio.”

The words “boarding school” are taking on a whole new appeal to a now reformed AP mama…

I don’t know if we’ll make it through today.

Here are two tasty little morsels from today, which has been a never-ending stream of the same.

M: Do you want to pull the laundry basket?

P: No. [walks off and up the stairs.]

M: Are you sure you don’t want to help?

P: No! Peanut no want pull laundry!

M: [whatever, fine by me] Okay. [starts pulling basket and gets to bottom of stairs.]

P: [loses it, crying and stomping] Peanut want do it!

M: [not sure what just happened] Okay…

P: No Mommy do it! Peanut want do it!

M: I just said okay. Go ahead. You do it.

P: [Stomps down stairs, grabs basket, wheels it ten feet back toward the laundry room, turns, and wheels it back.]

M: Thank you.

P: Mommy no say thank you. [mounting stairs] Mommy no come up stairs. Laundry no come up stairs.

M: Mommy and laundry need to come upstairs.

P: NO!

……

P: [in stroller, on our morning run] Peanut want that playground.

M: [always fine with stopping the run midway] Okay. [stops the stroller]

P: [screaming] Peanut no want this playground!

M: [befuddled but also endorphined] Okay. We’ll run to a different playground.

P: Peanut no want different playground! Peanut want this playground!

M: [rethinking career choice] Okay. [goes to unbuckle seat belt]

P: [hitting M’s hand] No! Peanut no get out!

M: How will you play if you won’t get out?

P: Peanut no play! Peanut no get out. Peanut not ANY!

M: Should I keep running?

P: Mommy no run.

M: Your choices are playground or Mommy running.

P: Not any. Peanut want different playground.

Sweet Mary, mother of my cousins, I’m gonna chuck this kid out with the next bathwater we can successfully get him into.

See what I’ve become? that should have read “into which we can successfully get him.” Know what? Mommy no care. Mommy want to send Little Mister Struggle For Independence to live with the Doctors Sears. They won’t notice another kid, and they are less likely to try to safe surrender him to the fire department than I am.