Picky, Picky!

Sometimes it’s hard to resist trends. Like last year when Kate fell prey to that wild nose picking fad. It’s big with the preschool set, don’t you know?

There were days where I seriously worried she might be developing a problem. Like when her nose would inexplicably bleed. She’d flip out at the sight of blood, yet appear completely puzzled with the concept that plunging a finger up her schnozzle was the root cause.

Ballerina Booger

No amount of cajoling, shaming, or complete degradation deterred her. I tried so hard to ignore the whole situation and hoped it would pass, but that was tricky because of my serious issues with crusty bits of dried mucous. I couldn’t help but recall when Joe was in preschool and I happened upon his crunchy collection. He’d proudly displayed it right there on the wall next to his bed. It was one of those motherhood “firsts” that delivered a serious blow to the beauty of this little human I brought forth. My sweet, handsome little boy was smearing goobers on the wall! What next?

Anyway, at some point Kate just became really good at hiding her booger picking addiction. In fact, as summer approached, I thought she’d kicked that monkey off her back.

Well, I was stupid.

It was our last week in Maine. Dave and I were hustling to pack and coordinate real estate closings. He had just started his new job in Massachusetts which meant he was leaving early on Monday mornings and returning late Wednesday night. Life was pretty insane in those last few weeks. On the upside, I successfully managed to ignore Kate’s penchant for booger harvesting. That is, until the Sunday night when she appeared with a gusher.

This wasn’t any old nosebleed. This was hemorrhaging. This was enough blood to soak through two wash cloths and the hand towel I had pressed against her face while we drove to the hospital. By the time we reached Maine Medical Center’s ER, my hand had muscle spasms from pinching Kate’s nostrils closed. There was so much blood, the ER staff took one look, opened the doors and rushed her straight to a room. They probably thought, “Hey that kid definitely doesn’t have a bloody nose!”

Five minutes later a very bored looking doctor appeared with a clamp for Kate’s nose. Despite it being plastic and the loveliest shade of Cinderella-blue, from Kate’s perspective it probably looked like a torture device. The young doctor mistook our petite Katie for a delicate flower and, in a sing-song voice, suggested she might consider placing the clamp on her nose “so Mommy’s hand can have a rest.” Personally, I thought this was a fabulous idea. Kate did not.

No amount of coaxing or flattery from that poor guy (who probably didn’t enroll in medical school intending to one day to deal with obstinate five year olds and their nosebleeds) would change Kate’s mind. He finally rolled over after experiencing Kate’s withering glare – a squinty eyed, silent staring contest that she never loses.

withering glare

And with that, he left us to wait for the ENT.

And wait we did…

Of course the bleeding eventually stopped and, as is typical of our ER visits with children, we began to feel as if we needed to explain exactly how awful this injury had been. That the sheer volume of blood was so insane! That we hadn’t over-reacted. No Sir, we absolutely weren’t a couple of idiots who hauled their kid to the emergency room because she had a bloody nose.

No matter how gracious and reassuring the ER staff appeared to be, I just knew – that deep down in my soul kind of knowing – that they were gathered around a coffee pot rolling their eyes and calling us assholes. Or maybe I’m just paranoid. Either way, the specialist came and pulled what he called “a good-sized blood clot” from Kate’s nostril. To me it looked more like a gruesome core sample. Roughly the size of my left arm, that thing just kept coming.

I felt vindicated but resisted the overwhelming desire to jab my finger at the eye-rolling nurses and scream, “IN YOUR FACE, BITCHES!”

Rather than aggressively confronting the emergency room staff, we held Kate’s precious little hand and listened as the ENT ordered us to stay for approximately 350 additional hours so Kate could be monitored.

During the 279th hour, Kate took on a bizarre appearance. Somehow oddly poised, her posture suggestive of a middle-aged woman in the act of judging someone’s newly decorated living room. She held her cup of ice water with its sippy straw carefully balanced beside lips painted with rusted streaks of blood and said, “I really wish they gave me a better room… this one is no good.”

I swear it was like my great-aunt Zelda rose from the dead. Well, if I had a great-aunt Zelda, but you catch my drift, right? Because it didn’t stop there. Within minutes, she was planning her funeral. For real. She was planning the whole thing just like my imaginary Aunt Zelda would have.

“When I die, I want my ashes put with kittens and God,” she declared, waving her cup of ice water in my general direction. Dave shifted uncomfortably and avoided my gaze, as if he’d somehow escaped this funeral mandate from his five year old daughter. I rolled my eyes and tried not to giggle because the kid was serious.

“Right, kittens and God,” I repeated. This pleased her. She laid her head back against that sub-par gurney they’d provided and resumed watching her program, Sam & Cat. Can we all take a moment here to thank God she wasn’t watching Lawrence Welk? Because that would have been truly freaky.

She watched the show for roughly 6.4 seconds before lifting her bloody face from the shitty pillow on the second-rate gurney to speak. Clearly, she had become delirious from blood loss… Sentences flew from her mouth machine gun style. There was nothing linear about the conversation. Statement upon statement, peppered with questions that had nothing to do with the words that had just gushed from her gore-painted mouth.

Hypnotized, I reached down to scratch an itch on my right shoulder and noticed my t-shirt had grown stiff with dried blood. My hands, no matter how many times I’d washed them, felt tacky. The copper smell of blood clung in my sinuses but by now, Kate was having a fantastic time.

I just wanted to go home. Hoping for some back-up, I looked at Dave, but he’d taken a trip to that far off state known as Catatonia. I know this because, though he looked like he was awake, he’d stopped blinking and his breathing was shallow.

“I have an idea, Kate…”

“You shut up your mouth!” she bellowed. Either she had entered some sort of iron deficient stupor or she was possessed. Either way, I cringed and apologized profusely for interrupting. She waved me off then immediately launched into a series of mind-numbing questions. Things like, “Those strings in the sky…are they made by God?”

In all honesty, she sounded like a freaky little hippie on mushrooms but I was too frightened to ignore her. I thought of my ex-father in law and how, when he had a bloody nose, he’d jam an OB tampon up his schnoz. At the time, I was mortified but I’ve begun to see that he was a wise man.

Good Day, Sunshine

My eyes fluttered open at the sounds of someone in my bed. Someone moving, flopping around and pulling at the covers, then settling and quietly sucking on the two middle fingers of her right hand.

“Good morning, Katie Bird,” I mumbled.

“Wook, Mom,” she said, throwing back the duvet, “I got my wiener out.”

“That’s not a wiener, Kate. Boys have wieners…”

“It not a jay-jay. I tell you, I got a wiener, Mom!” She yelled, and with that declaration, she backed that thing up and nearly parked it on my face.

“See? I tell you! Dis a butt crack,” she instructed, using her index finger to illustrate her point, “And dis a wiener. Silly,” she said, gazing at me through her legs. Even in her upside down position, I could tell from her furrowed brows that she was shocked at my level of ignorance.

I recoiled and attempted to recall the date of Kate’s last bath. It was on Monday.

“You need a bath, Kate. Your wiener stinks.”

“Step off. STEP.OFF!” she hollered. “I want you to *weave now.”

“This is my bed.”

“I wanna watch *Clipbird,” she said.

I sighed, threw back the duvet and rolled out of bed because sometimes it is, in fact, much easier to leave than it is to hang around and wage battle with Kate. As I walked toward the bathroom, she hurled one last insult at me. Evidently the worst, most threatening thing a pre-preschooler can come up with.

“I gonna poop on your bed. I a doggie you know.”

Motherhood is so glamorous.


Potty (Mouth) Update

Gwen is potty training Kate.

That’s right, my daughter who just turned 5 yesterday afternoon is teaching my 2 1/2 year old how to use the can. I have to hand it to her, she’s doing one heck of a good job!

I’ve tried but Kate hates everyone except Gwen. I think that’s because Gwen is the only one who still tolerates her foul-mouthed tirades. Gwen is such a nice little girl – a natural teacher.

Last weekend we bought Kate a potty seat because she “HATES potties!” I’ve been carefully suggesting that she might like to poop on the potty for a few weeks now, but she has made her stance on the Baby Bjorn potty clear. Mostly, by hurling it across the bathroom and screaming, “NO! I HATE POTTIES!” Notice I used the word “hurling” so that you would understand why I would “carefully” suggest using the potty.

She’s a dream…and not a good one, if you catch my drift.

Since we happened to be in Toys R Us on Saturday, I thought I’d let Kate pick out her own potty seat. You know, to give her a little bit of ownership over the location of her bowel movements. There were three choices. Elmo, Dora and Disney Princesses. She hated all of them.

“I HATE POTTY SEATS!” She screamed. Except it sounded like this: I HATE POTTY THEATS!

“I want this one.” She started patting a Baby Bjorn potty exactly like the one we have at home.

“We already have that potty Kate.”


I’m beginning to think she might have some type of personality disorder.

Dave and I exhaled at each other and I briefly fantasized about hanging her on a fixture in the baby section. Somehow, I’m fairly sure that most folks aren’t in the market for a whacked-out girl baby that screams profanity-laced hate diatribes. I imagine that she’d be fast-tracked to the clearance bins and then just sit there for a while getting dusty. And screaming…and cursing.

“Fine,” I said, taking a stance, “I’ll pick one for you.” I chucked the Disney Princess potty sit into the cart.


“Who’s Mommy’s sweet little pumpkin?”

Insert more screaming here.

Yesterday I was putting the final touches on the cream cheese and jelly sandwiches when Gwen ran into the kitchen to tell me that Kate had just peed on the potty. Joe and I looked at one another hopefully then ran to the bathroom to find Kate wiping herself with piece toilet paper lint and her fingers.

“Yay! Katie you peed on the potty!”

“No. You ahhh-sole, mommy.”

“Don’t call my mommy an asshole!” Gwen defended.

You’re wondering how she learned to say asshole, aren’t you? Well, it all started when we were in the minivan driving to Toys R Us. Seriously, here’s how it went down…

Kate was babbling and annoying Joe who desperately wanted “a quiet ride” despite the fact that there were four other people in the car. (Because I forgot to give him his ADHD medication and the noise was causing him to flip out.) The more Kate babbled, the more annoyed he became. The more annoyed he became, the more Kate babbled and it continued on like that for at least 8 miles. If you haven’t experienced 8 miles (that’s 12.87 km in case you were curious) of a completely idiotic argument between a two year old and a seven year old, you’ve escaped a tiny corner of hell. True story.

At some point, Joe attempted to pull out the big guns and get Kate into serious trouble, thus forcing her into a state of silence. “Kate just called me an asshole!”

“No she didn’t.”

“I’m serious. She called me an asshole.”

“Ahh-sole. Ahh-sole. Ahh-sole.”

“Now she’s saying, asshole Joe!”

“You ahh-sole, mommy.”

So there you have it. Joe taught Kate to say asshole.
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Day Two

Tuesday, April 19. The year is 2011. The writer is a woman just beginning her battle. She is slowly realizing that the only war she needs to win is the ongoing war within her own brain.

Its 9:20 in the morning and I’m attempting to work in the hours that I’m most creative, but with the distraction of three children at home. Ominous music from level two of Super Mario Brothers pours from the television in the kitchen and mixes with a deeply philosophical conversation about the origins of Mario’s villains. Gwen wonders if the one wearing pink is named Lady Gaga.

In the family room, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse isn’t entertaining enough, so Kate has crumbled bits of Irish soda bread into the sisal rug and the tufting of the leather ottoman. She put the finishing touches on her mess with a series of milk sprinkles and smears across the leather. I know this because she entered the kitchen bearing a proud smile and wet hair…hair washed in milk that caused me to sprint through the house to investigate the damage.


Yesterday morning I felt guilt. Guilt induced by the Facebook statuses of people who are currently enjoying beaches and Disney World with their children. Those people who, as I began to tell myself, were better parents than me. The photographs of their smiling children continuously tell me so. Those people didn’t sacrifice family vacations for stints in graduate school. Those people are no longer saddled with student loan debt from the family’s last stint with graduate school. Those people started their careers as grown-ups in a manner more timely than David and I did.

Yes, I was feeling guilty yesterday morning so I suggested a ride to pick up some new crayons and craft supplies.

I’m a stupid idiot.

On the way, I suggested that maybe we could all get some lunch. Immediately, Gwen assumed that we’d be dining at MacDonald’s. As a parent, I’ve grown to abhor McDonald’s. My overly-dramatic mind has spun the Golden Arches into a den of fat-laden death and Ronald McDonald has come to resemble the clown from Stephen King’s It. Pennywise has nothing on the evil corporate giant backing Ronald McDonald.

They don’t even like the food. It’s the toys they’re after and for some reason, McDonald’s suddenly made me see red yesterday afternoon. I inwardly sighed and said, “You know…there isn’t much that I’d like to eat at McDonald’s, maybe we can try a different restaurant.”

From the rear of the minivan Gwen vehemently shouted, “NO! I WANT McDONALD’S!”

Joe met my gaze in the rear view mirror. “Maybe we could go get pizza, right Mom?”

“That’s a great idea! We all like pizza, right?”


“Gwen, McDonald’s isn’t good for us. Besides you don’t even eat the food…”


My hands gripped the steering wheel a bit tighter and my teeth clenched. “Why don’t we try to agree on food that we all like?”

Joe’s eyes told me that he wanted McDonald’s too, but was struggling with compromise. At six-years-old, he is developing reason and consideration. I love him. “I know, Mom…why don’t you get something that you want first and then we’ll go to McDonald’s and get what we want?”

“That’s really nice of you, Joe…” I am interrupted by Gwen’s screaming voice.


At that moment a woman stepped in front of the car without looking and the wheels of the minivan brushed against the curb as I turned the corner of the crowded mall parking lot to avoid her.

That’s it.

“Gwen, do you care at all that Mommy doesn’t want McDonalds? Do you care at all about anyone but yourself?


I sat at the traffic light, inwardly seething. My eyes shot daggers across the road at the tacky red and yellow building that has placed my children under its nasty spell. I could smell it from there. The cloying grease of those french fries coats the air and, I imagine, leaves film of tacky grease on anything that comes to rest for too long in the vicinity.

I hate you.

I pulled into the parking lot and threw the van into park. When I grabbed my wallet, I saw that my bank card was missing. My thoughts went back to Sunday when I swiped my card to buy expensive gasoline and placed it in my coat pocket – the coat that was now neatly hanging in the closet at home.

Do I need to describe the chaos, crying and yelling that ensued when Gwen and I experienced our dueling meltdowns?

David took a 1/2 day after my psychotic phone call. You know the one. It’s filled with things like “I hate my life” and “selfish kids” and “spoiled brats” and other filthy expletives.

Before I knew that he was coming home, I made the kids egg salad sandwiches. David entered to find those spoiled children polishing off their cupcakes. The ones we baked on Saturday.