Archive for the ‘Why not to have kids’ Category

Three tales of bodily functions with a four year old gone horribly awry.  And here I thought Jack’s peeing exploits as a 4 year old couldn’t be topped.

The first is on the evening after I’ve returned from a 5-day business trip for marketing training.  It starts with a yell heard from the bathroom.  “CAN I HAVE SOME BOOKS, PLEASE?”  Peter has settled in to poop and wants reading material.  I figured this gave me about 5-10 minutes before I would hear, “Can you help me wipe?”

It had to be some 15 minutes later before I finally heard that trigger phrase. “Daddy?  Can you help me wipe… the poop off my foot?”  Sure, I can help with… WHAT?  This is like that joke about “Oh, your dog died.”  That bad news means there’s other bad news I haven’t heard…

Sure enough,  despite all that time on the toilet, he got up before he was quite finished.  Poop on the seat, poop on the bathmat, poop on his foot where he stepped on the poop on the bathmat, then poop on the floor in all the places he stepped.  I clean that all up and wipe him, and reflect on the fact that no amount of marketing training can really prepare you for cleaning your son’s poop off of butts, seats, mats, and feet when he fails in the bathroom.

The second story happened later that same night — apparently my 4 year old is a somnambupisst.

The boys have been asleep for an hour, and I’m half-asleep on the couch watching Patriots pre-season. Suddenly I wake up to find Jack at my side because “he has to tell me something.” He woke up to find Peter in his bedroom, with his nighttime pull-up down, PEEING on the carpet in front of him.

Sure enough, there’s a smelly wet spot (and several wet Legos… I told him he should’ve picked those up!) right in the middle of Jack’s room. I find Peter lying on the floor at the top of the stairs, looking shame-faced, and he won’t answer me when I ask him repeatedly, “WHY did you pee on Jack’s floor?” Jack tells me that Peter woke him up crying out for us first, before he wandered in and did the deed. I give Peter a new pull-up, even though his is barely wet, and he dutifully puts it on. I tell him to go back to bed and within 1 minute he’s sound asleep under the covers.  He only vaguely remembers it the next morning.

Add cleaning carpet pee stains to the list of things marketing training did not have on the syllabus.  We have no pets, and yet the bottle of Resolve has come in handy a few too many times.

Finally, a funny one that does NOT involve cleanup work, which happened the next day.  Katherine and I are sitting in the office, post-dinner, emailing and Facebooking and catching up on the world while the boys play in the playroom together.

Peter opens the door to the office, and pokes his head through the crack. “Talk to the hand!” he exclaims.  He replaces his head with his arm, and makes a little puppet with his hand. The puppet whispers: “I gotta go poop!”  Then he disappears into the bathroom while the two of us giggle uncontrollably.

My kids are SILLY. How’d they get that way? Oh. Right.


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It’s 9:30am on a warm Sunday in November.  Time for our penultimate flag football excursion, a weekly quixotic attempt to capitalize on a passing interest Jack showed in the sport but nowadays seems to find excuses to try and wheedle out of going, mainly so he can stay at home and play with his toys.

Jack is whining about not wanting to go, but I’m urging him to go.  Sheesh, there’s only two more weeks, and it’s nice out, and what am I going to do you and Peter for 2 hours otherwise?  After all, he’s blown through his allotted Wii time for the morning.  Besides, these kids are hopped up.

Jack does have one legitimate excuse though — his loose upper tooth is hurting him, and it might not be possible to bite down on the mouthguard, and what if he loses his tooth while playing, and… and…   Clearly Jack is worried about this, but I browbeat him into agreeing to go this week.  Besides, it’s time to leave.

To this point, I’ve succeeded in my heroics to get the boys ready.  I find Jack’s uniform and mouth guard.  I get him and Peter dressed. I’ve got a stack of things to put in the car at the door: folding chairs, diapers, sweatshirts if it gets cold, toys to amuse Peter, juice boxes and snacks… ooh but I need to get the water bottles.  I’ll get those in a moment.  Let’s get the boys in the car.  “Jack, put your shoes on, we have to go.”

“I can’t find my shoes, remember?”

Oh, crap.

I *do* remember… we couldn’t find them yesterday before his gymnastics outing, so we just threw on his boots at the time.  He can’t play football in boots.  I spend 5 minutes… 10 minutes… scouring the house with him, checking every room, looking under beds and sofas, peeking in closets and below tables, wandering the house like a crazy person.  No go.  No shoes.  We try to retrace his steps.  15 minutes.  20 minutes.  We’re late.  We’re hopelessly late.  He had them Friday after school, right?  “They were right here on a chair in the dining room,” Jack claims… but he also claimed before that that they were in Momma’s car (she’s at her church job), which was patently false.  So this witness is untrustworthy.

Sigh.  No flag football.  I rationalize that with his sore tooth, this is the decision we needed to make anyways.  I point them at their play room and everyone is relatively happy not to be trekking out to the field.

Fast forward to Katherine’s return from her church singing gig.  Jack’s tooth has fallen out, further confirming the decision not to go.  I hop in the car to head to a football-watching birthday party with friends.  Within ten minutes of her arrival home, Katherine has a conversation with Peter.

Katherine, remembering Peter grabbing Jack’s shoes on Friday at one point, asks him, “Peter, where are Jack’s shoes?”  He responds, “A robber took them.”

Hmmmm.  “Where did the robber put them?”  “In the jail.”

“But where’s the jail?”  “At the police station.”

At this point, Katherine does a great job of maintaining her composure, so as not to scare the witness off. “Okay… WHERE is the police station?”

“Next to the playground we go to with Tristan.”

Katherine stops this line of questioning as she realizes this makes no sense.  She tries a direct line of questioning.  “Do you mean… under the table next to the couch in the den?”

Peter: “………  Yes.”

This is one of Peter’s favorite places to hide, since he can just barely fit underneath the table.  It never occurred to me to look there, since why would Jack’s shoes be there?  Why would a three year old decide that he needs to steal his brother’s older shoes and then not say anything while his dad and brother tear the house apart looking for those shoes?

Because… all together now… KIDS ARE WEIRD.

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Today had a sudden and tragic end to what should have been a good hour of gymnastics.  Five minutes in, Jack asked to go to the bathroom, and off he went.  Somehow, on the way back, he decided to run backwards for a bit in the hallway.  Apparently he whacked the back of his head on a hinge that was sticking out of the archway (for the doors that are no longer there.)   So suddenly I’ve got a hysterically crying boy with blood gooping out all over his hair, his neck, the back of his shirt… just blood EVERYWHERE.  Helpful people help me wash it out anda calm him down, then we head over to our pediatrician’s office, which (conveniently enough) is about 4 blocks away.  By that point the wound had closed up on its own, so no stitches.

But seriously — running backwards?  Door hinges?  I tried and failed to explain this to people many times that day.

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Jack has a very powerful Extinction Burst — the secret weapon your brain uses to fight off changing new behavior it doesn’t like — and it was in full display while we tried to get him to do regular teeth-brushing with REAL toothpaste.  He had been brushing with the Orajel baby toothpaste for 6 years now, using a fluoride gel thing in the evenings to help… but he was already getting cavities.  When our dentist had Peter move to real toothpaste (and he’s only 3!), we realized it was time to force the issue with Jack.  Time to brush your teeth, with real toothpaste, both morning and evening.

First we tried rewards.  “You get a sticker on the chart every time you brush; when it fills up you get a new $0.99 iPad app.”  Not enough.   “We’ll give you an extra $1 every day you brush your teeth.”  Still not enough, even though he’s saving to buy a Wii game he really wants.  That evening Katherine moved on to “just do it” and “because I said so” and “I’m your mother” and that brought out the expected obstinate stubborn boy we know and love (and fear).  There was howling and crying.

A coworker told me she’s tackled her boys and held them down while she brushed their teeth.  I was seriously considering it.

The next morning I started off with gentle encouragement, since Jack is better in the mornings.  He made it to the sink, made it to holding the toothbrush, then balked.  I escalated to threats.  “You can’t watch any TV until you brush your teeth” was met with “Fine, I’m not gonna watch any TV today.”  Finally, I said, “I won’t let you go downstairs until you brush your teeth.”  That brought the extinction burst out in full force.  “I don’t want this toothpaste — I wanted the watermelon one!”  (This, after he picked out the toothpaste he wanted at the store.)  “I don’t feel like this right now.”  (Too bad.)  “I want Mama to help, not you.”  (Mama’s sleeping.)  “I’m going to go say hi to Mama first.”  (Okay, I’ll be right here, but you come right back…. tap tap tap…. tap tap tap… oh look, he’s now snuggled up with Mama in the bed.)

That morning we eventually got him to brush his teeth, practically wrestling him into the bathroom.  That evening, I went to rehearsal, and when I came back, he had put up a huge fuss again in the evening.  There were tears, there were I-hate-you’s, there were you’re-not-my-mama’s, the works.

The next morning, though, he brushed his teeth with the adult toothpaste without resistance.  And ever since then, he’s done it with little to no fuss — he’s already up to 5 stickers on his new sticker chart, after all.

It’s so, so hard to see the other side of the hill when you’re climbing up it.  There are so many things that Jack does that are hard to reinforce because it’s so much easier just to give in and say “Okay, buddy, I’ll let you do thing you probably shouldn’t be doing regularly just this one more time,” and then all our work is lost.  So it was nice to see Jack, in a span of a couple hard-fought days, make it through to the other side.  Of course I brush my teeth, morning and night, with regular toothpaste.  Doesn’t everyone?

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Jack is already well renowned among our friends for his peeing into a bucket story and then further for his innovative use of the space behind a chair as a location.  Time to add a new punchline to the mix.

I had just come home from taking Jack to the movies — Tron: Legacy — a nice father-son movie, actually.  Upon our return, we shed boots and coats and gloves and I announced that I had to go to the bathroom.  Jack followed me in.  “I need to go too.”  Well, sure, we’re already in father-son mode, why not cross the streams together?  We both line up at the toilet for what I’m sure will be yet another classic moment in father-son history.  (And no, I did not throw a cheerio in the toilet as a target.)

Jack, known for occasionally peeing on toilet seats and nearby floors, is first.  Perfect shot, straight in the middle.  Initially anxious to set a good example, now I’m anxious to follow his.  Maybe TOO anxious.

Oops.  I spray a little, hitting the sided of the toilet as well as the middle.  So much for setting a good example.  I laugh a little and apologize to Jack.  “Oops, darn it, I guess I missed a little.”

“That’s okay, Dad, that happens to me all the time too.”  (Yeah, I know.)

Realizing that I may still salvage  a teaching moment out of this, as we finish up I go into lecture voice.  “Y’know, son, lemme show you what to do when that happens.  You take some toilet paper, about this much, see?  And you double it up.  Then you wipe, wipe, wipe around the toilet seat to clean it all up, and throw the toilet paper into the toilet.  See?  No problem.”

Jack nods absently at my narration as he finishes buttoning his pants.   He shrugs.  Just before he runs off to play Legos or Wii or what-have-you, he gives me his own parting words of wisdom:

“Oh… I just use the towels.” He motions to the hand towels and the shower towels — you know, the ones I wiped my face on this morning — and leaves me in the bathroom, mouth agape.

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Every morning has its snags.  This particular one last Monday, however, reached comical proportions.

We had just come back from a weekend stay at my uncle-in-law’s Cape House.  I’ve often found that after a vacation, however small, the boys are out of sorts upon their return.  I thought a night in their own beds would help.  It didn’t.

Peter woke up too early, at 5:50am.  Not deadly in and of itself.  He started demanding things.  “I want tea!”  “I want Backyardigans!”  Reminders to remember his please’s were grudgingly accepted.  Jack came downstairs shortly thereafter and started the same routine.  I offered them breakfast but they just wanted tea.  Since the exterminator was coming over at 8am to take care of a mouse problem, Katherine was awake early and offered to take on breakfast while I showered.  Exterminator arrives, throwing more chaos into the mix as Katherine serves breakfast and the boys just want to follow him around.

Eventually, Jack wolfed down most of his egg, but Peter refused to eat.  As usual, I was able to get Peter to eat by pretending to steal the food from my plate and eat it myself, which prompts him to eat it off my fork before it gets to my mouth.  While I was helping Peter eat breakfast, a hyperactive Jack danced over and grabbed my fork-hand.  I stabbed Peter in the cheek with my fork.  Ouch!  Upset that I had hurt the now crying Peter, and angry at Jack, I snapped at him: “What are you doing?!  You have to be more careful!  You hurt Peter.”

Then things began to snowball.

Whenever Jack does something wrong, and he knows he did something wrong, and he wishes he could take it back… he blows up.  Jack, clearly scared about having hurt Peter, and upset that I yelled at him, melted down.  Crying, grabbing hold of Mama, and wailing, Jack was inconsolable as I tried to calm him down and apologize for yelling.  Peter, meanwhile, with no actual holes in his cheek, stopped crying and continued eating breakfast.  At this point Jack decided that he did NOT want to go to the gym, that he wanted to stay home — not an option with Katherine’s workout and the exterminator.

We focus on just getting them out of the house so Katherine can make it to the gym with them.  (A sitter watches them in a room filled with toys they don’t have at home while Katherine works out.  It’s pretty much a win for everybody.)   We wrestle Peter into the car.  While we’re packing up gym bags, cleaning the kitchen, and getting shoes on, an almost calm Jack comes back into the kitchen.  “Look at my hair,” he beams.  He’s decided that putting silly putty in his hair would be funny.  It’s actually more like gum.  We spend 5 minutes trying to pull the silly putty out of his hair using an ice cube while Jack begins howling, realizing there’s nothing funny about this any more.  We debate whether to cut any of his hair but decide just to leave the last bit of silly putty in there.  Sheesh!

We coax Jack into the car… only 30 minutes later than we planned to leave the house!  And can’t find Katherine’s earbuds for her ipod.  She kinda needs them for the workout.  We spend 15 minutes scouring the house while the kids moan in the car.  Jack gets fruit roll-ups to calm him down, which means now Peter wants some too.  FINALLY we find them (in her purse which was in the car.  Sigh!  It’d be funny if it were someone else, right?)  As I take care of the exterminator paperwork, Katherine backs out of the driveway and punches the accelerator, the wails of still unsatisfied Peters and putty-haired Jacks heard like a train’s Dopplering whistle through the car’s open windows as she speeds off.

(The rest of the day improved, at least!)

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“I awake!”  These have become the two most feared words to hear from our 22 month old.  It’s his current protest any time we mention the words bedtime, nap, night night, or sleep. Whether it’s 10 in the morning or 4 in the afternoon.  Any hint of going to bed triggers an immediate “No, I awake!” response from him.

Sometimes it’s cute… especially when he mishears you and thinks you said “nap” or “sleep.”  For instance

  • [after running around the kitchen with a broom] “Are you sweeping, Peter?”  “No — I AWAKE!”
  • [after wiping boogers on his sleeve] “Did you wipe your nose on your sleeve?  On your sleeve?”  No — I AWAKE!”

Sometimes it’s not cute.  Like when you go in to do a simple “binky replacement” while he’s in his crib, and he spots you and proclaims “I awake!” and wails for minutes, even hours,  if you do not pick him up and take him out of the crib right then and there.  (Sometimes he falls back asleep.  Usually he does not.)

Lately, Peter has taken to getting up before 5:30 a.m.  This is not cool.  And sure enough, somewhere amongst the yelling during our failed attempts at let’s-ignore-him-and-hope-he-screams-it-out-of-his-system-and-falls-asleep efforts, is Peter saying AWAKE! AWAKE!

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