Thursday, December 29, 2011

PLAGUE Part the Third: The Plague Returns



You may have noticed that there is no blog this week.




This is because along with bringing a train set, a new set of slippers for Mommy and some high-alcohol content beer for Daddy (old Santa knows us so well!) trusty St. Nick also brought us a wicked all-family bout of the stomach flu.


We've been dropping like flies one by one and I've been too busy trying to cool my cheeks on the bathroom tiles and praying for the sweet relief of death to do much writing.


I'll be back next week with all new tales of holiday madness.


Until then I will simply wish you a Happy New Year before returning to my regularly scheduled bouts of projectile vomiting.




Please feel free to join me in spirit this Saturday in my own post-motherhood New Year's Eve tradition of eating cereal in front of the TV until 8:45pm, at which time I announce loudly, "It's the New Year somewhere!" before crawling immediately and unapologetically into bed.


Here's hoping you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Parenting Backslide



Parenting is a lot like pushing a boulder up a hill.




It is difficult, it is challenging, and there are bound to be moments where you slip up and the thing just kind of rolls away from you.


With two little ones under four I'm intimately familiar with such backslides. Potty training, which seemed at some point in our recent history so tantalizingly close to completion, is of late back at its poop-strewn starting gate. Bedtime, which for a month or two was happening like clockwork, has devolved into a standoff with one or more of my children yelling, "MAMA!! MAMA!!!" through the crack at the base of the door as I increasingly raise the volume on my Pandora station in an attempt to drown out their cries. 
But I accept that such behavior regression is to be expected from young children.


More disturbing have been my own backslides as a parent, which can take a variety of forms. There are the times when I bail on the pre-meal hand-washing in favor of just cleaning the kids' paws with a baby wipe and calling it a day. There have been days when educational and stimulating outings have been shelved in favor of allowing the children to run wild in the yard while I catch up on DVRed episodes of the Real Housewives.


And it should come as no surprise that December has brought a cavalcade of such parenting backslides. As I mentioned last week, my Holiday season has been a little bit busy. I've been running around like a maniac doing Christmas prep, and in a particularly egregious example of the parenting backslide, I have accidentally found myself relying to a disturbing degree on a technique I call "Cookie Based Bribery".




It started with the simple reality that at Christmastime there are cookies EVERYWHERE. It is also a time of year when I am constantly attempting to prod my offspring through a series of uniquely challenging events, such as the mad dashes through the local mega-store to retrieve last-minute gifts, the outings to procure wrapping paper and decorations, and of course, the always-dreaded line to meet Santa.


For me, the combination of cookies and behavioral challenges only had one possible solution. 


It started one day as I was trying to induce my two children to don adorable Santa caps and help deliver cookies to our neighbors. It wasn't going that well, as they seemed to prefer running around the playroom in circles with only an occasional break to assault one another over a disputed toy.




Then it came out of my mouth, 


"Just come on and I'll give you a cookie."


All movement stopped as the boys looked at me like German Shepherds spotting a passing squirrel. They toddered after me happily as I waved two cookies in front of their eager faces and every last cookie got delivered without incident.


The next day I needed to run into the grocery store after an outing to the park. The kids were reluctant to accompany me -- and there it was again,


"Be good in the store and I'll get you a cookie."


The slide into total cookie reliance was amazingly precipitous. 


By the end of the week, my entire parenting approach resembled nothing more than a trainer at a wild animal park, as I bent my children to my will through judicious use of a pocketful of gingerbread men pieces. 




I'm not going to lie. It is AWESOME.


I've been truly amazed at what my children are capable of on a diet comprised almost entirely of crumbled up baked goods. And while I accept on some basic level that this is not a viable long-term parenting solution, I'm currently accepting it as the only way I'm going to make it through December.


I'll just have to break it to the kids gently that "NO MORE COOKIES, DAMMIT" is our all-family New Year's Resolution.


comic by Gegen Den Strich

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

It's the Most Craziest Time of the Year



It would seem that I have a case of the Christmas crazies.


This year, as December approached, my husband sat me down for a little talk. 

He shared his opinion that, seeing as I was 8-months-pregnant, had spent November traveling approximately 10,000 miles, have (as a result) been battling a month-long cold, and have two toddlers who are both currently attempting to destroy our house on a full-time basis, that perhaps we might want to dial back a bit on the Christmas happenings this year.

I had to admit the guy had a point. 

Maybe it was time to dial down the Christmas insanity, thus sparing ourselves an entire month of relentless activity that made exactly no one jolly. Rather than spending the weeks leading up to Christmas feeling deeply overwhelmed, perhaps this year we could really cut back on some of the prep and (gasp) actually RELAX and enjoy the holiday.

I sat down at the kitchen table and made a careful list of Christmas-related activities in hopes of identifying those which might be negotiable.

Here's what I came up with:
  • Purchase adorable outfits for Christmas Card photos
  • Bake 8 dozen Christmas cookies
  • Calculate and prepare Christmas envelopes for Christmas envelope recipients
  • Take Christmas Card photos
  • Decorate 8 dozen Christmas cookies
  • Put up Christmas tree
  • Take children to have portrait taken with Santa
  • Order Christmas Card photos
  • Remove Christmas decorations from storeroom without being killed in avalanche of stored debris
  • Host Christmas Open House for neighbors
  • Attend Messiah Sing-a-Long (arrange babysitting)
  • Decorate Christmas tree
  • Attend office Christmas party (arrange babysitting)
  • Gather addresses for Christmas Cards
  • Attend assorted Christmas parties and events (arrange babysitting)
  • Place Christmas decorations attractively throughout home
  • Create year-end calendar featuring adorable photos of offspring.
  • Purchase Christmas gifts for my relatives
  • Wrap Christmas gifts for my relatives
  • Mail Christmas Cards
  • Convey Santa photo to friends and relatives in print or electronic form
  • Purchase Christmas gifts for husband's relatives
  • Wrap Christmas gifts for husband's relatives
  • Ship Christmas gifts to my relatives
  • Ship Christmas gifts to husband's relatives
  • Purchase gifts for offspring
  • Purchase gift for husband
  • Wrap gifts for offspring
  • Wrap gift for husband
  • Write thank-you notes in response to gifts received
  • Deliver Christmas cookies to Christmas cookie recipients
  • Assemble hundred-plus piece "under the tree" gift for children
  • Clean house in advance of arriving relatives
  • Prepare Christmas dinner for family
  • Prepare day-after-Christmas dinner for visiting relatives
  • Clean house in wake of departing relatives
Not appearing on the above list, of course, are any of the day-to-day activities relating to keeping two children fed, clean, and alive throughout the month of December. 



OK, so negotiable items.


I thought maybe we could do without the Christmas cookies, but then I got sad thinking about how much Snoodie loves them and how nice it is to have something to bring the neighbors.


I decided that maybe we could skip doing a Christmas card this time around but then I realized how annoyed I would be if I was subjected all month to adorable photos of friends' children without the opportunity to inflict my own children's cuteness upon them in return.


I considered scaling back on the decorating but, as this will be our first Christmas in California, I considered how important it was to me to have the house look as merry as humanly possible.




And I realized that I was powerless against the list. 

While I'm sure I could make some small tweaks -- a few edits here and there -- nothing is going to change the fact that this month is going to be an all-time ass-kicker wrapped in a green and red bow of exhaustion.


So I've accepted my fate. I'm cranking out cookies, I'm shopping in every spare moment, and I'm wrapping packages. I'm weeping from the pain of paper cuts and gagging from the taste of envelope glue. 

Actual Christmas Card outtake

And while I may not be particularly merry, I will say this for myself -- I'm getting it done. And that's something.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got several dozen tins of nuts to glaze.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Nursemaid's Elbow



Last year, while visiting Texas, I dislocated my son's elbow.



Yes, that's right Child Protective Services, ya nosy bunch of killjoys! I said I dislocated my child's elbow.

It happened during a visit to my husband's Grandparents. On day two of our stay, my husband's Grandmother and I took the Snood to the local park for a little "active time" in hopes of discouraging him from playing another round of, "How much of my Great Grandmother's china collection can I destroy in the course of a single morning?"

The day was off to a good start. Snood was scampering about the play equipment merrily and running to and fro in a way that suggested a faint hope that in the afternoon -- there might be napping.


But alas, when it was time to exit the playground, the trouble began. When I gently suggested that we stroll towards the car, Snoodie came up with an alternate plan that involved rolling about in the woodchips while screaming "NOOOOOOO!!!" at the top of his lungs repeatedly and kicking his feet wildly in my general direction.

After briefly attempting to verbally convince my son to make his way to his feet and follow me peacefully, I began dragging him by the arm towards the car. After a few minutes of bribing him under my breath with offers of candy if he would just SETTLE DOWN AND STOP EMBARRASSING ME IN FRONT OF GRANDMA, the Snood calmed down and we made it the rest of the way towards the parking lot in peace. But, as I went to buckle him in to his carseat, the Snood let out of sharp cry and began holding his arm at an odd angle.


This clutching and crying continued as we arrived back to the house, and after about an hour with no improvement I realized with no small degree of horror that we were headed to the ER. When we arrived, a nurse ushered us in (after exactly 2 minutes of waiting I might add, hooray for small town hospitals) and immediately pronounced, "Looks like nursemaid's elbow."

From Wikipedia:

Nursemaid's elbowBabysitter's elbow, or Pulled elbow[1] is a dislocation of the elbow joint caused by a sudden pull on the extended pronated arm, such as by an adult tugging on an uncooperative child, or swinging the child by the arms during play. The technical term for the injury is radial head subluxation.[2]

Hmmmmm, an adult tugging on an uncooperative child? I had to admit, that sounded about right. 

Two x-rays, multiple blood draws, and a 6-minute interaction with a doctor later and Snoodie's elbow was popped back into place.  For the privilege of this bit of medical intervention, we later received a bill for close to seventeen hundred dollars. 



After that, I never really gave Nursemaid's Elbow another thought. Until last Saturday, when David arrived home from an outing to the park with a whimpering Snood. I had not been on this particular outing because I'd been prepping for a long-planned afternoon of football watching. Both our teams were playing what we call the "naptime game" and David and I were looking forward to using the afternoon to combine two of our favorite activities: cursing loudly at the television and cuddling excessively.


But as soon as I opened the door I could see that our plan was in dire jeopardy. And when I saw poor Snoodie was trailing behind David and holding his arm gingerly, my fears were confirmed.

I examined the offending arm and could tell right away that this was Nursemaid's Elbow Part Two: RISE OF NURSEMAID'S ELBOW! David explained that while at the park, Snoodie had invaded another child's birthday party and leapt into the Cinderella Castle bouncy-bouncy with his shoes on, thus causing great mayhem and consternation to the princess-clad guests.

David had reached in to pull the Snood out of the bouncer by the hands and, he surmised, this is when the injury occurred. I looked forlornly towards the cold beer and guacamole lined up lovingly in front of the TV, realizing that at least one of us was going to spend the afternoon not watching football, but rather moldering in the misery that is our local ER. Desperate, I started thinking about our last experience with nursemaid's elbow. I remembered how that doctor had only spent 5 minutes with Snood and fixed him up good as new.

And then I did what any good mother would do in a time of medical crisis -- I did a search on YouTube.


There I found a veritable cornucopia of video instructions on how to perform a "nursemaid's elbow reduction". After devoting six to seven minutes to watching said videos, I felt fully medically qualified to perform the procedure myself. 

I lifted Snood from my husband's highly dubious grasp explaining urgently, 

"Honey, please step back! I am a YouTube-trained professional!"

And do you know what I did next? I followed my internet-based instructionals, popped that sucker back into place, cured Snoodie entirely, cracked a Miller Lite, and settled down to three hours of absolutely dreamy football viewing.


I plan to start taking appointments for various medical procedures at my home office beginning early next week. I'll start with minor orthopedic manipulations, but I'm sure I'll be up for light surgery by the end of the month at the latest.

 Just call me.....DR. YOUTUBE!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Kindness of Strangers



On December 25th of this year I will be almost 35 weeks pregnant... 




...which means I will be unable to travel to see family for Christmas due to my strong aversion to birthing small humans while airborne.


FUN FACT!  Did you know that it is 26 times more likely that someone will die on your plane than be born? I didn't either until I Googled the above link. Say what you want about this post but you'll walk away from it having learned something!


Because we'll be SoCal-bound for the remainder of the holiday season, for Thanksgiving I felt compelled to fit in a wild round of family visits in advance of my baby-mandated confinement.


First up, I flew to Texas (with children and Mother-in-Law in tow, but without husband, who had stayed behind to work -- a detail which will become important SOON). I spent some time with my husband's family and got in plenty of quality squeezing sessions with my ridiculously cute 4-month-old niece.






And it was great.


But as Thanksgiving day approached it was time for me to make my way to Florida for a turkey-fest with my own relatives. This meant that I somehow needed to transport myself AND two toddlers from San Antonio, TX to Ft. Myers, FL all by my lonesome whilst seven months pregnant.  The journey would involve two legs of a flight and a two-hour layover with two kids (one an 18-month-old 'lap child' despite the fact that I have virtually no lap to speak of at this point, and the other a three-year-old with a tendency to projectile vomit whenever airborne).


Did I mention that I was doing this all on the 2nd busiest travel day of the year?


As I packed up my bags I had visions of travel terrors dancing in my head. I was sure  I would lose at least one of the kids permanently in the cavernous DFW Airport. I was perplexed as to how I was going to balance my current need to pee every fifteen minutes with the requirements of supervising two mini-travelers. I was thinking a lot about the puking.




But I am happy to report that my fears were, for the most part, in vain. My kids were on their absolute best behavior, (and yes, they were also entirely barf-free) and my fellow travelers stepped up heroically to support me at every stage of our journey.


A special shout-out to:

  • The San Antonio TSA agent who coaxed Snoodie through the X-Ray machine and then engaged him in a series of ever-more complicated high-fives until I could gather my belongings and achieve full stroller-containment of his brother.
  • The serviceman traveling with his own family who missed his boarding group so that he could stay behind and help me fold up my 18-wheel-sized double stroller before getting on the plane.
  • The REI-clad woman who threw out a fresh cup of coffee so her hands would be free to carry Crinks on board and then told me with a smile, "I think you must be the bravest woman I've met all day!"
  • My full-figured seatmate on the 2nd leg of the flight. When I saw he was a single businessman I groaned inwardly thinking I'd be getting glares for three hours straight. Instead he helped me get my bags settled and even made cute faces at the kids as the plane took off. When I thanked him for being so nice he laughed and said, "Hey, a big guy like me is always happy to have a little guy riding shotgun! You guys made my day!"


And thus, my faith was briefly restored in the goodness of all mankind and the wonder of air travel.

Of course, on the flight home the plane had a flat tire. Snoodie vomited twice. We missed our connection. They wouldn't seat us together on the second leg. Then they lost our gate-checked stroller and car seat, only to return it to us two days later missing two of its wheels.


But all the joy and thankfulness? It was nice while it lasted.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

The Terrible Threes



The terrible twos are indeed, fairly terrible. 



There's the constant screaming of, "NO!", the occasional hitting and/or kicking, and, of course, the always beloved tantrum-throwing. But one thing you can say for the twos is that at least they have the decency to give you some warning. 

The horribleness of this age range is consistently conveyed by parenting tomes and fellow Moms alike. Such universal acknowledgement of all the ills the twos contain is comforting, and it helps one get ready. I mean, by the time you have a two-year-old, if you're not prepared to devote a full year of your existence to battles with your offspring over an unending range of senseless minutiae, you've really got no one to blame but yourself.


Then finally your child turns three, and you justifiably believe that your time of turmoil has come to an end. Patiently, you wait for the long-promised door to good behavior to open. Having survived 365 days of "the twos" you are poised to welcome the freedom from strife you have been told is at last, your due.

Until that day when you find yourself asking your three-year-old to put on his shoes...


...and rather than complying with this seemingly innocuous request, your child instead chooses to throw both said shoes directly towards your skull while screaming at the top of his lungs, 

"I DON'T LIKE IT THOSE SHOES!!!!!!!"


You are confused.

What's going on here? By any calendric standards the terrible twos are, in fact, behind you. And yet, where is the calm and delightful three-year-old you've been promised?

You tell yourself that perhaps this incident was some sort of anomaly. Maybe your kiddo had a bad night's sleep. Or perhaps he ingested a bum chicken nugget and it is affecting his judgment. 

You attempt to remain calm.


Several days later, you invite your darling three-year-old into a nice warm bath before bed, as you have done every single night of his life since birth. But instead of thanking you at some length for your thoughtfulness, your child chooses to take several nude laps around the house while shrieking at ear-piercing volume,


"I WON'T GO TO THE BATHTUB!!!!!! I WON'T!" 




Something is definitely amiss here.


And so you seek out fellow mothers to demand some answers. What is going on? The terrible twos are supposed to be over! These are supposed to be the halcyon days of the terrific threes, are they not? 


This is when your friends and peers finally tell you the truth - that three is NOT the end of the terrible twos, as you had been led to believe. Instead 'the terrible threes' are the unannounced rageful sequel to 'the terrible twos'. And they are so terrible that they often make the twos look like nothing more than a mild warm-up act.




You attempt to process this information. Unfortunately, you cannot, as you are far too busy fending off nuclear-level meltdowns from your toddler on subjects including but not limited to:
  • I WANT TO SLEEP WITH THE POTTY IN THE BED!
  • I DON'T WANT THE CAR TO BE RED ANYMORE! I WANT IT TO BE GREEN!
  • I'M SCARED OF THE COUCH!

In your confusion you make the classic mistake of attempting to reason with your three-year-old. You lovingly discuss precisely why the couch is not scary. You carefully detail the downsides of having one's poop receptacle in the sleeping area. You calmly explain that one cannot change a vehicle's color using only one's mind. 

In response your child strikes you about the face and neck before diving to the floor, kicking wildly, and smashing his fists upon the ground. And you come to accept that the twos were just the beginning. But now, the threes have arrived.

Which is terrible, terrible news.




But fear not! From what I hear - the fours are a total breeze.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Vacation



My husband and I spent last week in Hawaii.


And I want you to know that I was -- from the bottom of my heart -- fully intending to write a blog entry from there. But I am here to admit that instead of chronicling my parental mishaps, I did a few other things. 


Here is a short summary.

  • I thought a great deal about whether the whole "no drinking while pregnant" thing still applied while I was out of the country. 
  • Then I remembered that I was, in fact, in the country and invested a great deal of time trying to concoct alternate justifications for downing a few lava flows.
  • Then I used the enhanced buoyancy of my 7-month-pregnant belly to do a little snorkeling.
  • Then said belly encountered the coral reef and I realized that snorkeling was not for me.
  • Then I sat upon a lounge chair and read 'THE HUNGER GAMES' (which, for the record, I feel that someone might have warned me was the world's most depressing thing EVER before the plot sucked me in for three books' worth).
  • Then my husband emerged from the water, plopped down beside me, and we, knowing that our children were thirty-five-hundred miles away in the care of my mother-in-law, chose to spend the rest of our time together doing something romantic, bonding and truly soul-nourishing - which was, of course, pointing at laughing at other couples struggling to deal with their own small children.
And it was awesome.


So, that's all I've got for this week. EXEPT this brief but hopefully exciting announcement! I am now contributing to a really funny new humor site aimed at moms. It also features writing from a bunch of other great writers including Brenna of Suburban Snapshots.


Go visit!       NickMom.com

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lordy, Lordy, Mama's 40


  • I am currently experiencing a wicked bout of sciatica
  • I have been dealing with raging acid reflux for the past several months
  • I am, at present, unable to remove myself from any piece of furniture without making a series of involuntary groaning sounds
...and...
  • I have permanently eschewed the varied and tasty meals I used to enjoy in favor of bland and texture-free foodstuffs.
WHO AM I?

Did you guess the world's oldest woman?  Hint: Very close! 

Who feels older?

Instead the correct answer is - - - ME! (A forty plus woman expecting her third baby in four years).

At my age, in strict biological terms, instead of creating new life I should really be engaging in more age-appropriate activities, like maybe whittling, leaf peeping, and/or sitting incredibly still at all times and preparing on a deep subconscious level for the sweet release of death. 

Instead I am running around daily after two toddlers while seven-months-pregnant, and it is providing to be epically difficult.


According to one random study I took fifty-seven seconds to Google, a woman's fertility appears to peak around the age of twenty-two. Which would suggest that one's late teens and early twenties are, in fact, the ideal time for childbirth.

But on the other hand, THAT IS COMPLETELY FLIPPING BONKERS.

Because when I was twenty-two I was living part-time in a van, traveling to divey comedy clubs around the country, and working part-time as a bicycle messenger. In addition, my major love interest of the era turned out to be supporting himself at least partially through the sale of home-grown marijuana.


So, for me, the decades that represented my prime biological years for child-bearing occurred during a period when actual child-rearing would have likely proven fairly disastrous. 

My best friend had her first child at nineteen and now has a two-year-old at forty. She summed up the difference thusly,

"At nineteen, having the baby was a piece of cake. At forty, raising a child is easier."

And to be sure, she did an amazing job with all of her kids. I'm not advocating any "right age" for starting a family. (Though I'll admit believing that having kids young -- when one has the energy to pull it off without getting into bed each night feeling as if you've been attacked by a gang of baseball bat-wielding maniacs -- seems like a really good idea if that is how it happens to work out for you.)


My sister-in-law, who is in her early twenties, recently had a beautiful baby girl. And let me tell you, nothing will make you re-evaluate your life choices faster than standing next to a young woman four weeks post-partum who whips off a swim coverup to reveal a swimsuit calendar-ready body clad only in a hot pink string bikini.

actual sister-in-law not depicted, but take my word, close enough

It has a way of making young motherhood appealing on a whole new level.

But alas, it would appear that my own bikini-sporting days are now firmly in the rear view mirror. As a "late-in-life mom" I am instead relegated to bathing dresses long enough to cover my vein-marred legs and firm enough to subdue my now-permanent love handles.


And there are countless other downsides to my advanced maternal age. There's the general lack of energy; there's the inability to "bounce back" from childbirth in the way I might have as a younger woman; and, of course, there is the general soul-crushingness of having all of my medical paperwork stamped with the phrase, GERIATRIC PREGNANCY.

But, in spite of all of this, I'm still happy to be an older Mama.

I loved being single and carefree in my twenties and early thirties. I spent enough late nights out on the town that the idea of night after night on the couch watching reality TV or snuggling with my husband sounds heavenly instead of limiting. I traveled all around the country without a care beyond meeting my own basic needs and had a great time doing it. And while all that may mean that I'm going to be closing in on 60 when my last child graduates from high school, I wouldn't do it any differently.

Besides, without those years of life experience, how could I pass on valuable life wisdom to my own boys? For example:

Kids! No matter how cold you get when living in a van in your late twenties DO NOT bring the space heater inside the vehicle! It doesn't turn out that well. 


Trust me. Now go get Mommy some Advil, my sciatica is killing me!



Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Best Time to Have a Child



I'm expecting Baby #3 on February 1st.




Unfortunately, it is only now beginning to dawn on me that the timing of this birth may have been somewhat less than ideal.


After limping through days upon days of Halloween-themed merriment, it occurs to me that I am now staring down multiple legs of Thanksgiving-related travel, and then moving directly into weeks of Christmas prep and execution.


And the fact of the matter is that being 7 to 8 months pregnant for all of the above is, to say the least, NOT going to make any of the holiday fun any, you know, funner.




At least I'm not delivering in September. I did that with the Snood, and I'm here to tell you that being gigantically pregnant during the hottest months of the year ensures the following triumvirate of miserableness:
  • Maternity swimwear in all its unsightliness,
  • Overheated waddling,
...and, of course...
  • Sand in unreachable netherregions.



I take some comfort in the fact that September made for such a grim pregnancy experience that it can only make early February look swell in comparison.


Crinks was born in mid-May, which was pretty much ideal. His due date meant I could conceal mass holiday-induced weight gain as innocent baby bloat, and then transition directly into a long wintery confinement of coziness until his early Spring arrival. 


I'd say that's how I'd do it if I were to ever do this again, but let's be real here. 


If I ever do this again, I'm likely to care little about when the birth takes place as I'll be serving time in some faraway correctional facility for the murder of my beloved spouse and/or beating my head repeatedly against the wall of a psychiatric institution where I'll have been placed on an extended "rest cure" for my own safety and the safety of those around me.




At which point the optimum time in the calendar year for infant delivery will be the least of my problems.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Outer Limits

My sister has a new baby at home. 






Her spankin' new son is joining her soon-to-be three-year-old boy, and my sister has had some concerns about their burgeoning relationship. Her older son has been so thrilled by his new brother's arrival that he's taken to kissing and squeezing him on a near constant basis. Worrying that the intensity of this love-fest was starting to border on the violent, my sister decided to consult her pediatrician.


His advice was simple: He told her not to overreact. He informed her that should her son pick up on the fact that his attention towards the baby was getting attention for himself, he would likely take this as a sign that it was time to start playing that beloved childhood game, "I can get a rise out of Mommy by poking the baby in its eyes!"




The doctor said it was highly unlikely that her son would do the baby any real harm as long as she was supervising them and advised her to do her best to ignore her fears and enjoy the adorableness of her son's newfound joy in his sibling.


Which reminded me of one of the best pieces of mothering advice I've yet to receive. When the Snood was a baby, I was fretting to a veteran Mommy friend about one the myriad things I was afraid might somehow damage his little infant self. She responded,


"What you need to realize is that you are nowhere near the outer limits here."


She told me that I needed to start opening the parameters of what I considered dangerous or I would eventually drive myself crazy.


I was confused.


Then, a few weeks later, the Snood had a fairly classic childhood accident. I was visiting family in Chicago when I laid his 3-month-old self down on the bed in order to change into my jammies. Snoodie, in a portent of troublesome choices to come, decided this would be the ideal moment to discover the awesome new skill of rolling over. He proceeded to roll right off the side of the bed and hit his head on the nightstand on the way down before landing on the floor with a horrible thud.




I was terrified. But after a few moments of furious wailing and accusatory glances my way, Snoodie calmed down and seemed absolutely no worse for the wear.


It was almost 10pm as I sat holding my baby and pondering my options:
  • I could go to sleep and not worry about it.
  • I could bring Snood to the emergency room in a strange city and likely spend several hours waiting only to discover he was perfectly fine.
OR
  • I could stay up all night alternately examining my sleeping baby for signs of lingering trauma and pacing the floor like a deranged lunatic.


I chose Option C. I spent the entire night Googling "baby head trauma" (here's a very simple piece of advice that I sincerely hope you will follow. DO NOT EVER Google "baby head trauma". That is all) and/or shaking the Snood awake to make sure he was OK. By the time the sun rose I was fairly convinced that any damage from the night table encounter was neither profound nor permanent.

In an effort to prevent similar episodes in the future, at Snood's next pediatrician appointment I nervously asked what seemed like a deeply self-incriminating question:

"OK, don't take this the wrong way," I stammered, "But exactly how hard does the baby have to hit his head before I bring him to the ER?"

The doctor seemed completely unfazed by my query. She told me it was fairly common for babies to have minor falls and that I should head for the ER if the baby were to lose conciousness, vomit excessively following the fall, or if I noticed clear fluid coming from his ears. 



I was amazed. This was like, SO MUCH FURTHER down the road than I would have thought. I mean, by the time my kid was vomiting or had clear liquid coming from any part of his body, there would be a me-shaped hole in the door and a path of flames leading directly to the emergency room. 




And it helped me understand what my friend meant when she talked about "The Outer Limits". 


She was saying that it was important to find out what things are really a danger for your kids and then try not to freak out until you get near that place.


Here's another example:



Almost as soon as Crinks started to crawl, the kid he decided that the ground was his own personal buffet. Every time I was distracted, (say, by his brother calling for help because he had crawled behind the refrigerator and gotten stuck) I would return to find Crinks gnawing on something unearthed from underneath the couch or perhaps performing a taste test on a sampling of coins from the change cup.

I was lamenting the situation to a doctor friend of mine who also had toddler at home, and I asked her where she drew the line regarding things her kid put in his mouth. She thought about it for a moment before responding, "Oh, you know, cleaning products... dog feces... cigarette butts."  


I'm telling you, people, the outer limits are a lot further out there than you think.


So the moral of the story is, try to relax and realize that you're probably doing just fine. That your kid is going to do crazy stuff, eat yucky things, fall from small heights, and be just fine.


Comforting, isn't it?


That being said, keep your three-month-old off the bed for God's sake. That's not going to end well.