Friday, April 17, 2009

The Parent's Lexicon

I thought I might combine my love of language with my experiences as a mom to create this much-needed lexicon.

The Parent's Lexicon

  1. "We'll see."

    This means, "Stop pestering me about it and maybe the answer won't be 'No!' "
  2. "Maybe."

    This generally means, "No, but I don't feel like committing to a definite answer yet because I want to forestall the whining and tantrums."

  3. "Because I said so, that's why!"

    We trot out this gem for one of two reasons. Some parents feel that they should always have a well-reasoned answer for their kids' every complaint demand for an explanation, and quite often, they have no reasonable rationalization behind what they're telling their spawn to do/not do. When we consider that most parents don't feel like engaging in an extended debate on the issue, you can see how they might fall back on the time-honored "BISS,TW!"

    Others among us simply harbor secret desires of world domination.
  4. "Soon."

    When I say this, like in answer to, "Mommy, when can we go back to the zoo?" I usually mean, "Hopefully never again, and I hope that by saying 'Oh, soon, honey' I can buy some time before you ask me again."
  5. "What has the cat ever done to you?"

    I mean, "Leave the animal alone before he takes out your jugular with his claws!" or "Leave the animal alone or I'll send him right back to the shelter!" <--Of course I would never actually do that, I love the furry little animal, but it is a tempting thought on those days when the kids and cat keep pestering one another.
  6. "If you kids don't knock that off, I'm going to sell you on eBay!"

    This means "Knock it off right now."

    I tell my kids this all the time. My kids know that I won't actually sell them on eBay, mostly because I'm pretty sure it's illegal, but they do think it's funny and for some reason, humor often works to keep them in line.

    I did get a really dirty look from another mom one time I said this in public - Wegman's I think - and I was astounded that someone might have thought that I'd really do this.
  7. "I am going to count to three!"

    This is the best thing ever. It is sort of adapted from "3-2-1-Magic." What you do is, tell them that you will count to three and if they don't stop what they're doing/do what you're asking them do by the time you say "three," then BY GOD there will be consequences.
    For example: Your kid is meandering about the house aimlessly, after having made a merry mess on the living room floor with a ream of computer paper, crayons and glitter glue. You have told her to pick her stuff up, she does not listen; in fact, it seems that she is pointedly ignoring you! Once it reaches critical mass and you can't bear the idea of picking it up after her, you say, "Kid, I am going to count to three and you had better get to picking this mess up or I will start throwing all of this stuff out!"

    Crucial Hint: Be strong and follow through. If you say that you will toss stuff out but cave, you have just undermined your authority. The little munchkins will never take you seriously. Believe me, all it takes is one incident with the Black Hefty Garbage Bag of Doom and your kids will be true believers. Then all you have to do is say, "I think it's time for the Black Hefty Garbage Bag of Doom," and they'll be running up the stairs with toys in hand.

Do you have any crucial translations to add? Let me know!

Thanks for reading, more entries to come!

The 24-minute Diaper Change

The past few days I have been going through old blog and journal entries, partly to find new fodder for blog entries, and partly because I love reminiscing about when my kids were younger. They absolutely love it when I regale them with stories of their impishness.

Just the other morning, I stumbled across this gem from when Lucy was a baby. Our diaper days are long gone, and we've emerged on the other side of the potty training war relatively unscathed. From time to time, Baby Fever still afflicts me, especially whenever I see a newborn fresh with that New Baby smell clinging to the top of his little, hairless baby head. It's good to go back and refresh my memory with some smelly stories.

This 24-minute diaper change incident from April, 2003 ought to do it!

3:57-4:00 pm

Place child on mat, change dirty diaper, wipe baby’s butt, put on clean diaper, snap up onesie and pjs.
(Note to Self: For all its wretched stink the diaper was not heavily soiled.)

Take diaper to trash, wash hands.


Come back in, pick up baby. Nose is met with a definite stench.
Place child on mat again.
Unsnap pjs and onesie, check diaper. Yuck, very dirty.
(Note to Self: Baby’s tummy is still rather gurgly)

Take off diaper, wipe butt, put on clean diaper.
Notice stains on onesie, strip baby down, toss dirty onesie in hamper, locate clean one, change baby.
Toss dirty diaper in trash.
Scrub hands thoroughly.


Come back in, pick up baby, see red face, hear grunts, figure kid isn’t done pooping, place baby back on mat, leave room.
Go to kitchen and scour pan which has been soaking for two days in the sink.
Next, scour hands.
(Note to Self: Buy more hand soap)


Come back in, sniff the air, see a fresh poop stain on brand-new onesie.
Sigh, take off onesie, see that the pjs are also soaked through, toss them in the hamper, locate new pjs and onesie, put aside.
Take off dirty diaper, wipe butt.
Feel warmth on hand, look down to see a geyser of pee washing over hand, and soaking clean diaper and onesie.
Sigh deeply, dry butt, change diaper, undress baby.
Drop wet onesie in hamper, locate last remaining clean onesie, dress baby.
(Note to Self: do laundry)

Take wet diaper to trash.
Disinfect hands.


Come back in, pick up baby, smile back at smiling baby, get covered in a flood of curdled spit-up breast milk.
Take baby into bedroom, find new pjs for baby and new shirt for Mommy.
Get dressed, dress baby, wash hands.
Go to couch, sit down and begin breastfeeding.
(Note to Self: the vicious cycle will repeat itself in approx. 2 hours)

Of course, funny videos of dads changing diapers, including one dressed in a Hazmat suit, notwithstanding, diaper changes really aren't all that bad. If I could, I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat and have another kid, though I might hire someone to potty train them for me.

Natalie & Lucy, 2003

Coming soon! The Snow Leopard wars!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Name That Sound!

Parenthood changes your perception of a lot things, especially what sounds can mean. If you have no kids running amok, a random "click" from a room two rooms away doesn't take on the ominous meaning that it does once you have kids underfoot.

Here are a few notable examples from my own experience.

1. Silence:

Any seasoned parent will tell you that the sound of silence coming from the next room will set off alarms. Instead of sitting back with a huge *sigh*, a parent faced with an abrupt silence one room over will immediately leap out of her chair, wondering, "What has the kid gotten into now?!"

2. Silence, followed by *thwack-thwack-thwack*:

You know this can not be good. What could it be? Is it as simple as a throw pillow whacked against a coffee table or is it something more ominous, something involving the cat? Things that make you go "Hmmm..." right before your head explodes.

3. Silence, followed by peals of laughter:

This is especially troublesome once there is more than one child in the equation. The amount of trouble increases exponentially with each additional child. The last time I heard this series of sounds, it involved my two children, a set of magic markers and a pile of blank card stock. The card stock, as it turned out, was just for show. The real artwork appeared on the littler child's face and hands.

4. Silence, followed by *thwack-thwack-thwack*, *skitter-skitter-crunch* + peals of laughter:

In all honesty, this made my blood run cold. In case you have no idea what that combination of sounds could possibly mean, it is the sound that a large Ziplocked bag of Cheerios makes when it is beaten to death by a Cat in the Hat Toy.

5. Snip-snip-snip:

Picture, if you will: I was up in the studio with my 5 year-old daughter. I had given her her safety scissors so she could do her collage, with strict instructions that "scissors are for paper, nothing else!" After a while, it occurred to me that the short, sharp snips I was hearing were different from the longer, drawn-out sssssssnips I should have been hearing. With the utmost trepidation, I turned around in my swivel chair, and what do I see? Natalie, hunched over, brow furrowed, lower lip bitten in extreme concentration, giving the cat a buzz cut.

6. Dribble, Dribble Thwack-Ssssplop:

That's the sound that a fleece bathrobe belt makes once it's been soaked in water, and then swung around in circles and launched at the wall/furniture/carpet.

Where in the good, green hell do kids dredge up these ideas?

"Gee, what should I do with this bathrobe belt and sinkful of water?"

"I wonder how long I can beat this big bag of Cheerios with the Cat in the Hat toy before it explodes?"

"Gee, Cheetah would look cool with a mohawk! Or shorter whiskers!"


I have weathered these incidents pretty well and can laugh at them, and the girls absolutely love hearing these stories, but I know that my days of being surprised by new sounds aren't over. These kids are nothing if not creative and resourceful.