Flaunting Failure: My Messy Beautiful

Like most people, I don’t really enjoy bragging about my failures. I recognize them, and feel what is probably an excessive amount of guilt for having them (I’m not Catholic for nothing), but I prefer to keep them on the down low. They are not my favorite topic of conversation.

So it was as astounding to me as it would be to anyone else when, a few weeks ago, I found myself emphatically, almost eagerly, telling my daughter that I make bad choices and really big mistakes every single day of my life.

“Mommy is, like, a huge failure, sweetie!” I told her brightly. “I mean, I told Daddy to shut up this morning! That was really bad! And I yelled at the dog because he ate grass and puked on the new carpet, and then I yelled at Daddy again because I had to clean it up! And I forgot to pack your lunch that one time — remember?! I forgot it and I didn’t bring it until lunchtime was almost over and when I got there, you were crying in the cafeteria line? That was a really bad choice that mommy made.”

There was that time when my house looked like this.

There was that time when my house looked like this.

I stopped there, because the flow of my thought process was moving toward previous boyfriends and hangovers and tattoos obtained in foreign countries, and that whole lunch incident really was blemish enough on our mother-daughter relationship. We have plenty of time for all of mommy’s more spectacular failures to make themselves known.

This overflow of honesty might have been excessive, but it was not without purpose. Because it was in response to my baby girl sitting in the bathtub sobbing, wailing that she “wanted to be good ALL DAY and not just SOME of the day because you, Mommy, ALWAYS make good choices and NEVER make bad choices.”

How else could I answer her? I don’t always make good choices. I do make really big mistakes. I am never, ever perfect ALL DAY.

My daughter is on the Autism Spectrum. For the most part, her differences manifest as odd but charming quirks. However, there are times when the world becomes too much for her.  She has a certain rigidity to her expectations from life, and when life doesn’t conform to those expectations, she becomes overwhelmed. When she becomes overwhelmed, she becomes defiant and angry. And when she becomes defiant and angry, she begins to feel guilty, which leads to more defiance and anger until it all comes crashing down and she is empty but also somehow devastated by what she sees as her failure to be good.

That’s a lot of feeling for a five-year-old.

My heart breaks for her when she starts to fall down the Autism rabbit hole, and when I found her crying in the bathtub that night it was shattering to see that, this time, she was tumbling down because she was comparing herself — negatively! — to me. And it made me think.

I don’t like to broadcast my mistakes to the world at large, and I really don’t like to broadcast my mistakes to my children. As parents, we feel compelled to serve as an example of the kind of people we want our children to become. We want to be their heroes. And I think a lot of times, we strive to hide our faults from our children in order to meet the expectations we set for ourselves.

But the thing is, I don’t want, or expect,  my children to be perfect, or even almost perfect. And I don’t want them to grow up to become the kind of person who feels that perfection is expected from her. I want my girls to try new things, to succeed sometimes and to fail sometimes. I want them to know how to own up to their mistakes and to try to make things right. I want them to be able to forgive themselves for not being what it is impossible to be. Above all, I want them to know that they are both messy and beautiful, and wholly — overwhelmingly — loved. And they will never learn any of those things if I don’t teach them.

* * *

I have written before about losing my mother at a young age. It was hard to lose her. It is still hard to not have her. These things are true for anyone who has lost a parent. But one of the things that makes losing a parent when you are young especially difficult is the fact that you never get to know her.  She is always as she was to you when you were a child: perfection, and everything.

My mom would have been a hard act to follow, no matter what. One summer, she spent 6-hour days at the pool with a portable chemo pump delivering toxins directly into her bloodstream so my brother and I could enjoy our summer. She once fell and broke her neck in the morning one day, and that evening she showed up, neck brace and all, at a fashion show where I was modeling First Communion dresses. I have to bite my tongue on the F-word when I stub a toe, but breast-turned-bone cancer never even elicited a “damn my life” from my mother.

As far as I can remember, my mom was as close to perfection as a person can be. She never had the chance to prove otherwise.  I have spent much of my life feeling as though I will never, ever measure up to her — and now that I am a mother, I know that’s not what she wanted for me. It isn’t what I want for my own children.

* * *

So many of my parenting decisions have been made based on my desire to have the mother-daughter relationship with my girls that cancer stole from me and my own mother. Mostly, these decisions have had to do with being together — just existing in the world with them —  as they go through life’s big and small moments.

But behind all that is also my desire to be real for them. For us to grow together as a family, and to know that we love each other always, unconditionally.

And that night with my daughter, when her world was crashing down around her because she wasn’t good all day long, reminded me that sometimes, showing your children your failures also means that you are teaching them how to love themselves and others.

* * *

 This essay and I are part of the Messy, Beautiful Warrior Project — To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE! And to learn about the New York Times Bestselling Memoir Carry On Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life, just released in paperback, CLICK HERE!

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Hi, I’m Krista. I Break Minds.

One night last week, during our most recent spate of winter storms and school closures, my five-year-old told me that I was “cracking her heart into pieces” so badly that “even her mind was breaking.”

I earned this opprobrium when I responded to her request for paint so she could make “an angel with brown skin, a white dress, and beautiful gold hair” by saying, “No. Seriously. No. Go watch TV.” She was crestfallen —  heartbroken —  her mind had been shattered. If ever there were a pathetic creature, it was my child that night. I was unmoved.

I am heartless, I know. But before you judge me, wait for the context.

First of all, I was eating dinner. There is a beast that lives within me, and when she gets hungry, we feed her. My husband learned this lesson very early in our relationship. My kids seem to face a much steeper learning curve, or maybe they just don’t care about the consequences of interrupting a hungry beast at feeding time. Whatever the case may be, they think it is totally appropriate to do stuff like try to kill each other, or pee on the couch, or ask for art supplies while I am eating.

Secondly, it’s been a long winter of snow days. And most of them haven’t been the fun, “you wanna build a snowman” kind of snow day. Many were so bitterly cold that my thin-blooded girls were crying after 5 minutes of being outside. Then there was the storm that dropped so much snow on us that their short little legs couldn’t navigate through it. And even on the snow days when they could play outside, the outdoor fun never lasted more than 2 hours.

It was deep.

I’m not kidding, it really was deep.

We just don't get snow like this in Maryland!

We just don’t get snow like this in my part of the world!

The rest of the time, we were inside — crafting.

We drew, we glued, we painted, we cut (oh, the paper we cut!), we stamped, we beaded. We marker-ed our markers dry and the Lorax wept for all the paper we used. We mixed media, and we built things, and we littered our kitchen with art supplies.

I cleaned green paint off of brushes, clothing, fingers, faces, and furniture. I negotiated peace after an epic battle over glitter glue. I have peeled countless stickers off of every accessible surface of our home and I am still finding them in random places, like on the side of the toilet bowl and in my shoes. So after a winter of making stuff, when a snowstorm in March kept my girls home from school for two additional days, I felt no guilt over breaking my baby girl’s mind by denying her evening request for paint.

I didn't think we'd make a dent in these. We did.

I didn’t think we’d make a dent in these. We did.

People tell me that the girls will remember these days and the time we spent together fondly. I’m sure they will. My daughter seems to have recovered the use of her mind, without any permanent damage to its faculties. Certainly, her gift for hyperbole hasn’t suffered. She will be ok.

Meanwhile, it is March 13 and currently 30 degrees outside, with the “feels like” temperature at 21 degrees. A fierce and bitter wind is blowing. I just read a headline suggesting the possibility for snow on St. Patrick’s Day. And in my cabinet, I have a Ziplock bag, and in that bag are shamrock shapes and stickers, and green glitter glue, and a rainbow paint set, all just waiting for little fingers to craft with them.

Hi, my name is Krista, and my mind is breaking.

They Love Us Too

Last week, a dear friend of mine shared a beautiful tribute to her father, who passed away several months after her wedding, shortly after she became pregnant with her first child. She wrote:

“Today, on what would have been my dad’s 74th birthday, I remember the song I picked for the father/daughter dance at my wedding: Forever Young, by Bob Dylan.  I shared the song with my dad a couple of months before the wedding, and when he heard it for the first time, he teared up.  He understood why I chose it – not only is it a wish from him for me, but also from me for him.  We practiced dancing a little bit that day in my parents’ living room, and looking back I’m so very happy that we did.  By the time the wedding day rolled around, cancer radiation treatment had left my dad unable to stand without support.  Dad and I didn’t get to dance at my wedding, and a little part of me is sad when I think about that, but more so I am grateful that he was able to be there at all.
So, Dad, this one’s for you. 

I thought her post was profoundly touching, and not just because I knew her father — who was a good, kind, immensely intelligent man — or because I know how it feels to regret what you could not do with a beloved parent who has been beaten down by cancer.

What moved me the most was what she said about the song she chose for her father/daughter wedding dance — that the words of Forever Young were not just a wish from him to her, but also from her to him.

Bob Dylan’s Forever Young is a song whose lyrics can bring even the most unsentimental parent to tears. The first stanza alone has everything you need to feel both heart-swellingly hopeful about your child’s future and crushingly nostalgic about the childhood she will inevitably leave behind:

May God bless and keep you always.
May your wishes all come true.
May you always do for others,
And let others do for you.
May you build a ladder to the stars,
And climb on every rung. May you stay forever young.

Of course these are the things every parent wants for her children.  We want them to follow their dreams, and to be righteous and brave. We want them to be loved, and to know truth, and to find joy. We want them to be young, forever. We want them to have everything in the world that is good.

But my friend took this point further and reminded me that these are the same things our children want for us, their parents.

I have written before that the best thing we can do for our children is to be there, beside them, as they walk through life. But it is also important, for us and for them, to remember that —  behind the tantrums and the defiance and the smug know-it-all-ism of their early years — they both want and need their parents to be content and fulfilled. They want us to be strong, and healthy, and as young as they remember us to be. They want good things for us, too.

Our children, particularly when they are young, don’t often show us that our welfare matters to them. I’m pretty sure that if you asked my three-year-old, she would say that her greatest hope for me is that I forever provide her with goldfish crackers. Or that I forget the word “nap.”  My five-year-old would like me to concede with prejudice that I am not, in fact, the boss of her. I feel certain they would neither acknowledge nor express any lofty aspirations for me. But I think our children feel a need for our happiness nevertheless.

* * *

For the last few months, I have been battling one rough winter illness after another. I had antibiotic resistant strep throat for four weeks back in December, which led me to discover some minor, though temporarily worrisome, heart problems. Then in January, I picked up the norovirus at Chuck E. Cheese, which knocked me out for eight solid days. I am currently winding up another course of antibiotics for a sinus/ear infection and bronchitis. It hasn’t been an easy winter, and I haven’t been my usual self.

While all this was going on, I noticed that my five-year-old’s behavior at home had been getting increasingly worse. She was being contrary, oppositional, and having massive meltdowns at the least provocation. I was overwhelmed, and I couldn’t figure out why she had picked the time when I was at my weakest to bring out her worst behavior.

But eventually it dawned on me. She was reacting to my illnesses. It was because I was at my weakest that her behavior was it its worst. I wasn’t well and she was worried about me. I wouldn’t have argued if she had shown her concern in a less challenging way, but that’s how my girl rolls — when life pushes her over her limits, she pushes right back at life.

* * *

Our kids love us and need us to be there for them. They also want, and need, for us to be well and happy*. Our wellbeing affects them — but it also matters to them. They can’t find their own contentment if we haven’t found ours.

And if we do our job right, one day, our children will want everything for us that we want for them. That is a big and beautiful thought, and I am so thankful to my friend for reminding me that the love and concern we parents feel for our children is reciprocated, and powerfully so.

This one’s for you, CHW. And yes, Dad, this is my way of saying I love you, too.

From the Forever Young Book, by Bob Dylan and Paul Rogers

From the Forever Young Book, by Bob Dylan and Paul Rogers

*Read more about our right to be well and happy at These Walls Blog, by my friend Julie.

The World Belongs to Such as These

Last Sunday, my five-year-old and I had the opportunity to spend the afternoon together, just the two of us, at a local indoor pool. With a younger sibling at home and a full day at school, time spent one-on-one has been rare this year. I’ve missed her.

My girl has a prolific imagination and spends most of her unoccupied time making up or enacting stories. As she has been learning so many new things this year, I have had the gratifying pleasure to observe how she weaves the new facts and ideas percolating in her brain into her stories and play.

So when we packed up go to the pool, I was interested to see her stash three princess figurines, three plastic cupcakes and a baby doll into her toy bag. I never really know where she will go with things.

When we got to the swim center, she headed straight for the baby pool, where she began setting up a scene. First, she brought out the three princesses and lined them up along the side of the pool. She placed a plastic cupcake in front of each. Then she went to her bag and brought out her baby. She carefully cradled it in her arm and carried it into the pool.

And then she baptized that baby, in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen, using water consecrated with chlorine and the contents of a half-dozen swim diapers.

When I asked her about it, she explained to me that she had learned about baptism in her religious education class that morning. She told me that baptism is how we become a part of God’s family. And because she loves her baby doll, she wants her to become a part of our family. Therefore, a baptism was clearly in order.

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It was an achingly sweet moment, the kind that reminds parents that bringing their child into the world really was the best thing they have ever done. It made me proud of her. It also made me reflect on and appreciate the best thing children do for us — allowing us grown ups to witness the fertility of their minds and the largess of their imaginations.

Most of us recognize the story from the Gospel of Luke, when Jesus urges his disciples to bring the children to him, because “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” It is a story that tends to be linked to the idea that what is most valuable in children is their innocence and unworldliness. It seems to imply that children, in their dearth of experience, are better able to absorb the teachings of faith, and indeed of the world around them. I don’t believe that this is a strictly religious way of thinking. There is a common tendency to think of children as blank slates waiting to be written upon.

Children are certainly unworldly. There is necessarily an innocence to the way they approach their world. They have no basis of comparison. They have no prejudice. Their minds are open. They are open, but I don’t think they are waiting, passively, for us to shape them. 

If I have learned anything about children and the way they approach life, it is that they do so through constant questioning and experimenting. They are endlessly pushing the boundaries of their universe. And these attributes apply equally to the way they understand faith and the way they process new facts.

When I think of my daughter, who is at that perfectly ripe age when the concepts of faith and fact are just coming within her intellectual grasp, I see nothing passive about her approach to the world. All I see is activity – a dynamic, unrestrained pursuit for more knowledge, a constant pushing and stretching of the limits of her understanding.

I hear her asking why, and no matter how thorough an answer I give, I hear her asking why again. I see her acting out, and re-enacting, what she is learning so that, through interpretation and experience, it becomes a part of who she is.

When I think of the idea that “the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these,” I don’t see it as a calling to submissiveness or innocence. I see it as a calling for us to approach faith — and reason — like children do – with flexibility, enthusiasm, ceaseless questioning, and a mind with ever-expanding boundaries. Those are the best things that children have to offer the world, and we adults should not forget that.

After my daughter finished her charming baptism by pool water, as I was thinking about the profundity of what her mind, and the minds of all children like her, will bring to our future, she reminded me of something else.

She tossed her baby to the side of the pool and, splashing, shouted, “Mommy, that boy FARTED! He made BUBBLES in the WATER!” While I blushed and suppressed my silent laughter, I reflected on the next best thing children have to offer the world: their uninhibited appreciation for bathroom humor.

Life is best lived with curiosity, questioning, a mind without boundaries, and the ability to laugh at our bodily functions.

Impossible Cuteness

There are many days when my two-year-old is impossible. I mean, she is two. And she is tiny and feisty and stubborn and smart and really, really good at getting her own way. She can be exhausting.

But then there are days when she is just impossibly cute. So cute that I want to squish her up into a little blond meatball and gobble her up. (Hey, I was raised with an Italian grandma and a Polish grandma in my life. We love our babies through food imagery.) Today was one of those days.

She was mad at me (surprise!), so she sat down on a kitchen chair and said, “Well, I jus’ gonna sit hewe and be fwustwated! Hmph!

Hmph!

Hmph!

And since today is Wednesday, and my friend Julie at These Walls has introduced me to the Moxie Wife’s Five Favorites series, and this little turkey kielbasa really is pretty cute, I will add a few more of my favorite photos. I will call this series the Silly Time Spectacular! 

I was supposed to be the "easy" one.

I was supposed to be the calm one.

We can’t leave out the classic naked spaghetti picture.

I'm naked. I'm eating spaghetti. Life is good.

I’m naked. I’m eating spaghetti. Life is good.

And then there’s the one where she puts together an outfit.

Caption THIS!

Caption THIS!

And the one where she tries to take all of her clothes off but they get stuck around her little heiny.

Meatballs, amiright?!

Meatballs, amiright?!

And now I am signing off. I have some meatballs to make!

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When It Snows Below the Mason Dixon Line

My plans for this week were simple: 1. To clean. 2. To wrap Christmas presents. I find that if I keep my goals pathetically easy, I can be an incredibly efficient person. It’s amazing how that works.

But it turns out that Mother Nature has had other plans for me. She brought us Marylanders an unseasonably early set of snowstorms, which have cancelled school for two days.

Yesterday, it was wet and icy, so we had a full day stuck inside. It’s all a blur to me; the only part of the day that I really remember was my trip to my doctor’s office where I learned that I still have strep throat, despite having undergone a full course of antibiotics two weeks ago.

Today, after my new antibiotic regimen has kicked in with unusual force, I am a little more aware of my surroundings. Which is good, because a second snow day with a 2-year-old and a 5-year-old who are both crushed that they couldn’t go to school requires a LOT of energy.

By 9:30, I was questioning my life choices. It’s now 4:42 pm, and this is the run down of how my day has gone:

Rooms cleaned: 0
Rooms made even messier: Every single one.
Gifts wrapped: 0
Time outs: 12. At least.
Labor-intensive Christmas crafts: 4.
Craft-related meltdowns: 4.
Sibling fights: I stopped counting.
Tears: Seriously, who can count that high?
Shattered glasses: 1.
TV shows: Um, 8?
Princess movies: 1.
Snowmen: 1.
Walks through the wintery woods: 1.
Rocks thrown in the stream: lots.
Faceplants into the stream: 1.
Children carried home crying: 1.
Wet, muddy children: 2.
Soaked items of clothing: 10.
Epic meltdowns related to the usage of stickers: 1.
Cups of cocoa thrown on the floor: 1.
Number of times a kid told me she was sooo happy: 4.
Worth it? Yes.
The number of prayers I will say tonight begging God that schools be open tomorrow: I’m going to start now and never stop.

It’s been a long day. Luckily, the roads are cleared enough for my husband to go out for pizza. Which he will be doing. Even if he has to walk. Seriously, I mean it.

There were also some precious moments, and I was fortunate to be able to catch many of them on camera for all the world (or the 5-ish people who read this blog) to see.

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Modern Elementary

Last Friday we went to my daughter’s first elementary school event, a PTA-sponsored ice cream social. I figured that we would go there, eat some ice cream and, you know, be social. My main goal was to meet the parents of the boys (yes, boyS) who, according to my daughter, have been trying to kiss her during recess. I expected a tame, grade school event that was no different or more exciting than all of the other events I went to when I was a kid in school.

What I did not expect was a dance party in the gym with an actual DJ. I didn’t expect to see a bunch of grade school kids dancing to “Cha Cha Slide” or “Gagnam Style” or “I’m Sexy and I Know It.” And I really didn’t expect them to be good — like, really good. The older girls seemed to know all the hip-hop moves, and some of the boys were actually breakdancing. Even my preschooler’s 2-year-old classmate was putting the grownups to shame with her skills.

Apparently, public school events in the 21st century are way different from the kind we had at Catholic school in the 1980’s. For starters, the principal was in attendance — and bobbing his head appreciatively — while music that included the word “sexy” was being played (loudly). Sister Madonna, my elementary school principal, was one of the loveliest women I have ever known, but I shudder to think what would have happened if any of her students had even whispered the lyrics to “Gagnam Style” within her hearing.

In fact, throughout most of the event I found myself either staring at the scene like an anthropologist who has just discovered an unknown tribal ritual (“what is that cha-cha thing they’re doing?”) or reminding myself that this was not 1999, I was not in college (there was no G&T at the drinks table), and it would be HUGELY embarrassing for me to break out my Elaine dance during “Cotton-Eyed Joe” in front of my daughter’s principal.

Yeah, that’s right, I said my “Elaine dance.” Because I’m old and I used to watch Seinfeld and, it would seem, I am totally unprepared for modern parenthood.

Because she is my child, my daughter spent the entire dance party running in circles around the gym. AS IT SHOULD BE. ;-)

Because she is my child, my daughter spent the entire dance party running in circles around the gym. AS IT SHOULD BE. 😉

Remembering The World We Left Behind

When we were on vacation this summer, my cousin went into premature labor with her third baby. It had been a difficult pregnancy, which ended in a challenging labor, and I felt awful that I wasn’t there to help her through it.

My older daughter overheard me telling my husband how bad I felt that we were away — and how much I was looking forward to meeting the newest member of our extended family — and told me she had an idea for something we could do to welcome her brand new baby cousin.

Her idea was to take pictures (of everything) so we could show the baby what his new life would be like. I had never let her use our camera before — I’d already broken it myself and trusted her five-year-old fingers even less than my own– but her offer was too endearing for me to resist. So I handed it over and off she went, recording her world as she saw it.

***

My daughter kept up her photography project after we got home, and I had the best of intentions to upload and make prints of her pictures so we could give them to my cousin for her son. But the last few busy weeks of summer led us into the even busier weeks of a new school year and I kept putting that project to the side. It wasn’t until just a few days ago that I finally had a chance to sit down and really look at the images my girl had recorded.

I may be viewing the through the lens of motherly pride, but as I went through my daughter’s pictures, I grew increasingly more impressed by what I was seeing. That’s not to say that her pictures are masterpieces of composition — we’re not raising a young Ansel Adams here. But they are expressive photos, and they reminded me of how different the world is for us when we are small —  they reminded me of the way we see things before others start telling us what to look for.

My daughter took pictures of shadows. She took pictures of feet — the toes of her own shoes pointing toward the toes of her father’s. She took pictures of her sister, capturing her silliness, zooming in on the curve of her chin, highlighting the brilliance of her blue eyes. She took pictures of the texture of the clothes she was wearing, of the wrought iron of a patio table, of her own reflection in the side of our car. At dinner one night, she photographed the family sitting around her, the items on the table, and the room we were in from the perspective of someone who is just over three feet tall. (And for the record, ALL adults, when photographed from below, have double chins. It is a law of physics.) She indulged enthusiastically in the art of the selfie, experimenting in expressions and recording them at arm’s length.

***

May daughter’s pictures were in distinct contrast to my own, which were dedicated to recording the moments I wanted to remember — not so much for the way they really happened, but so that I could string  them together and present them in beautiful color to my future self. My pictures were a collection of the images I wanted myself — and others — to see about the life we are living.  They said things like, “the beach is fun!” Or, “Look! We saw dolphins! Aren’t we cool?!” Or, “My kids are beautiful and smile a lot and this life we are living is really awesome.” They are, and they do, and it is, but I have profited more from looking at things from my daughter’s perspective than I have from trying — often in vain — to capture and preserve the best moments of my life.

My daughter’s pictures are simple. They are entirely without artifice or intent. They are just a reflection of a child’s world, recorded by one child for another. There is no need for embellishment because the world to a five-year-old is magical enough without it.

***

Click on any picture to view as a slideshow

Playing Horsie

Most of my recent posts have had to do with my two-year-old, who has been in an especially uncooperative mood recently. For at least the last week, nearly every suggestion I have made to her has resulted in her giving me the evil eye and screaming “NO! DAT’S GIS-GUSTING!” It’s been old since the first time she said it.

So you can imagine my surprise — and my joy — when, while we were playing horses a few nights ago, she actually agreed  to do something I asked her to do.

The conversation went like this:

Me (in a falsetto): Neeeiiiggh, baby horsie! It’s time to get yer PJ’s on, neigh, neigh!
Her: Neeeiiiggh, mama horsie, OK, neigh, neigh!

And then she lay down on the floor and let me put her pajamas on… including the pants!

It was miraculous. The rest of our interactions that night went beautifully. She neighed and galloped cheerfully up to bed. The next morning, she ate her horsie breakfast without complaint. She didn’t run away — not once! — when I was dressing her in her horsie shirt and her horsie pants and her horsie socks and shoes. She even let me brush her horsie mane of hair. I was overjoyed.

The only downside, of course, is that I have had to assume my horsie persona in all of my interactions with her.  Which means that when we were checking out at the Target yesterday and she started climbing out of the cart, I broke out my falsetto and loudly said, “NEIGH, NEIGH baby horsie! Get back in that cart, NEIGH, NEIGH.”

Oh yes I did. And it was totally worth it.

Existentialism for Toddlers

Trying to have a conversation with a two-year-old can be about as productive as having a conversation with a wall, assuming that the wall screams a lot and sometimes throws things at you and is often violently disappointed by life.

This week, my two-year-old has decided that nearly everything the universe has to offer is yucky. It’s not so much that she feels a general sense of yuckiness about the world around her. It’s more that she keeps requesting things from life, and then whatever it is that life hands her in response is a shattering letdown. (And by life, I really mean “her mother”.)

No! Not dis life mommy! Dis life YUCKY!!

No! Not dis life mommy! Dis life YUCKY!!

For example, yesterday we had this conversation:
Two-Year-Old: Mommy, I watch Max and Wooby on TV?
Me: Sure, sweetie, here you go.
TYO: NO! Not DAT Max and Wooby! Dat one YUCKY!

Then we had this conversation:
TYO: Mommy, I need apple pease.
Me: Sure, sweetie, here you go.
TYO: NO! Not DAT apple! Dat apple green! Dat YUCKY!

And then, at the end of the day, there was this one:
TYO: Mommy, hold you?
Me, feeling warm and fuzzy inside: Of course I will hold you!
TYO: NO! Not Mommy hold me! Daddy hold me! Mommy YUCKY!

(That one hurt)

But this morning, we had a breakthrough. She asked for bread for breakfast, and when I gave her toast with peanut butter, she didn’t scream, “NO! Dat YUCKY!”

Instead, she said, “NO! Dat bread gis-GUSTING!”

Oreos, however, are not yucky.

Oreos are not yucky.

See? We’re making progress!