Thursday, May 26, 2011

Things I've noticed about my children and mealtimes:

It's another day of action and adventure in the Johnson household, and that means the endless cycle of cooking, serving, and cleaning meals has begun. Each day I start my day so well intentioned, only to be an angry, broom-wielding mess by the end of breakfast. In between, my children look like ordinary, adorable children (most days); however, at meals I've noticed a few universal laws take effect which lead me to the point where I talk to myself and require dark chocolate and coffee to continue the day. These universal laws include:

1. The law of enhanced gravity- My table is surrounded by a high-gravity field, much like a black hole, or the bermuda triangle effect that goes on in my house. Drinks, utensils, bread slice fragments smeared with sticky jam... all are affected and lead to frequent mopping and Mommy muttering curse words under her breath.

2. The Booster Rule- My girls are five now. That's old enough to dress themselves, read, play outdoors without me, and wash themselves in a tub. Unfortunately, though, it does NOT mean they can sit in a forward position in a chair. No matter that the food is in front of them, their bodies must for some reason wiggle any other direction but forward. For this reason, they will be in booster chairs till high school. Boosters at least have sides which make it more difficult to wiggle over, which dramatically reduces "falling-out-of-chair" incidents at my house. Otherwise, I would have to hang them by their toes and drop food into their mouths to ensure they can't wiggle out of anything at the table.

3. The Law of Diminishing Utensils- Everyone at my house gets an average of 2 utensils per meal. Somehow at least 5 forks and/or spoons are on the floor after each meal and at least one person is crying due to multiple utensil dropping incidents due to the "now you get to eat with your hands cuz I'm not getting out ANOTHER FORK!" rule. In fact, before food is ever served, I can guarantee you at least one person will drop their fork/spoon. Caleb especially likes using his to scratch his back, while Sarah likes to rub hers all over her face without food on it... sigh.

4. The Paralysis Paradigm- My son has two very functional arms. Just observe him moving thru the house when I'm in a hurry to get out the door somewhere and you'll marvel at the number of things he can reach and pull down, squirrel away in his clothes for the trip, or shove in his mouth before you can say,"Time to go!" For some reason, though, at the table his arms cease to function once my butt hits a chair with hot food. Before my seating myself, he happily sits and feeds himself (or throws food everywhere else, or cries with disdain over the meal... you never can tell which way the appetite pendulum will swing, really), but after my behind makes contact with the wood of my chair, something inside him snaps and his arms can no longer serve him. "Feed me!" he yowls. "I need HEEEELLLLLPPPP!" Unfortunately, I'm a sucker who usually ends up feeding him because that almost guarantees he'll eat more and hopefully someday grow out of the 18 month old clothes he's been wearing FOR THREE SUMMERS.

5. The Time Vortex- Time functions normally most of the day, but at the meal table time dramatically slows down for Mommies. The first few moments of the meal are seemingly normal, however, after the first tenth of their tummies are filled, my children find anything and everything possible to do other than actually eating. All joyful parts of the day are then erased from our memories, and people begin bickering over whose leg hit whose or who gets the purple Flinstone vitamin or "how many more bites must I eat?! 'bout now? how 'bout now?" At breakfast, Caleb has also taken to asking me before every bite whether the bite size is correct because he's developed a weird perfectionist habit of making sure it's neither too big or too small a bite of cereal before he can eat it. And have I mentioned the strange resonating properties of Sarah's mouth? When that child eats, it's like a herd of cows in a field chomping away. Add to that 48 trips to the paper towel roll to clean spilled material, and you've got a dramatic slowing of time that results in Mommy wishing they would JUST FINISH ALREADY!!

And it's not just me! I know I seem like the grumpiest Mommy on Earth after reading this, but I've discovered I'm not alone. Mommies everywhere cry foul at mealtimes. Once upon a time, meals were lovely sweet together times, however, according to many of my friends, my house is not the only one hosting a cage match with rabid howler monkeys three times a day (and a varying number of snacktimes). Daddies, I think it's time to take the Momma's out for a date night!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Congratulations! You broke your toddler...

Caleb has a remarkable talent for mimicking other people. He can nail the wording, facial expression, and intonation of those around him exceptionally well... to a fault really. For instance, I'm not sure who he got this from, but I'm sure he didn't make it up himself, this afternoon when asked what type of candy he wanted, he replied, "I'm a skittles man, Mommy"... I almost fell over it was so funny. He even leaned in a little and propped his elbow on the table thoughtfully for the delivery.

Also, one time at the grocery store, he was flirting with the cashier with his eyes while waiting for the line to advance, and when we got to the counter, leaned in and asked, "How you doin'" ala Joey from "Friends" (which he's never seen... please don't call the Mommy police on me). The cashier then couldn't help but fall in love with my little 2 foot romeo, but alas, he knows where his skittles and potty training star stickers really come from, and in the end, I convinced him that Mommy is still the better girlfriend for him.

Then today, I see my sweet blonde angel playing on the floor with tinkertoys when suddenly one doesn't quite fit the way he wanted. So out from my cherub's mouth comes this little doozy: "DAMMIT!" With a side of "Dammit dammit!" After picking my jaw up from the floor and disciplining him, the guilt set in. "Caleb baby," I said, "that was a horrible no-no word you said, and it's never ok to say it. I know Mommy says it sometimes when I'm mad, but that's wrong. I'll make a deal with you, if Mommy says that word, you tell Mommy that it's a no-no word and that it's bad and that Mommy should never say it. You are not to ever say that word again, you hear me?" "Yes Maam. Sorry Momma"...

So now I'm realizing just how much my toddler has in common with the dementia patients I used to take care of. They could swear up a blue streak, but ask them to remember simple things, like how to remember to shower or not pee in the trash can, and they get a little stumped. Same thing with toddlers. Caleb can apparently remember a curse word I've used, oh maybe a dozen times, without difficulty, but ask the boy to name his colors, numbers, shapes, or letters (which we go over at least eleventy gabillion times a day) and he's at a loss, left only to patently shout out "green!" or "b!" randomly here and there in the incorrect context. I have no doubt he'd pee in a trash can before choosing to go potty in a toilet, as well...just ask my mom what he did in her brand new tub (haha you just told me not to post it on facebook :) ).

I will now accept my "shame on you, you horrible Mommy" award... yes, I broke my toddler. But he's got an excellent chance of making millions with a career in standup comedy or public radio even if he never learns those minutia of academia I keep bugging him about.