Hello, My Name is Katherine and…

It’s just beginning to dawn on me. People are beginning to talk about how much I drink my favorite beverage, but I can’t help myself. I know it isn’t appropriate to demand that sip of liquid comfort before I’ve even eaten breakfast, yet it calls to me from the refrigerator. I’m continuously drawn to the shiny double doors where I am met with a warped vision of myself in the gleaming stainless steel. Oh, God…is this how I look to everyone? Is this what my addiction is turning me into? In a trance, my eyes flit over my skewed reflection as I begin to cry. I don’t care how inappropriate I’m being because it seems that no one will listen. No one understands my frustration. No one knows how deeply that bottle calls to me or how unable I am to shake the cloying hold of its contents.

I watch as is pours into my cup and my mouth waters with anticipation. I can already feel it on my tongue and long for the cool, sweet taste that will wash through my mouth when I take that first soothing sip. It will make me sleepy, I know that much. I won’t eat dinner because I’ve drank too much…Again. Sometimes, I find a forgotten stash in the living room or under the bed and I can’t help myself, even though I know it won’t taste good. It will be old and sour, but my hand raises the drink to my mouth anyway. I do it knowing that eventually, someone will find me with that sour drink in hand and make a disgusted face. They don’t even try to hide their disgust anymore. They have at times, ripped the bottle from my hand and thrown it in the sink while turning a deaf ear to my pleading cries. While I’m under it’s spell, the bottle makes me do stupid things like draw on my face with markers or bite the dog. My speech is all garbled up and they have no idea what I’m trying to say which frustrates me beyond belief and sends me running for another drink of liquid sustenance.

Today, something clicked and I think I’m finally beginning to realize that the world doesn’t revolve around me. With the help and support of my loving family, I have resolved to toss this monkey off my back in 2011. Yes, that’s right…I’m turning over a new leaf…taking the bull by the horns. Today, I’m bidding a fond adieu to that milky crutch. My new mantra? I love sippy cups…I love sippy cups…I love sippy cups.

p.s. – Seeking a sponsor, preferably female and under the age of three who has also experienced a crippling addiction to dairy products of any kind. Also, you must love squishy baby dolls, puppy dogs and have a high tolerance for screaming tantrums.

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Reinforcing Good Behavior: Making the Princess Movie Work For You.

You know those days when you’re out and about and you cross paths with “that” kid? Come on…you know the kid that I’m talking about. She can be found wreaking havoc in any number of public places. Usually, the lucky soul accompanying the little angel is either feigning cluelessness or wanting to melt into the earth from the embarrassment of it all. Please, don’t tell me you haven’t lingered to watch from the corner of your eye while smugly saying to yourself, “Self, thank GOD you don’t have a kid”, or “Self, thank GOD that isn’t your kid!”

Is it horrible that I’ve been known exploit another kid’s crappy behavior for my own gain? I’ve seen my own wide-eyed children absorbing the offending kid’s mannerisms and watching for the parental response. Believe me, they’re processing the situation and rationalizing future use of the bad behavior in question.

Friends, this is a golden opportunity! You should jump on the chance to use some other mommy’s moment of public shame for your own benefit. This is the time to reiterate that bad behavior is socially unacceptable. For example, if the mother in question appears close to tears, don’t offer her kind words of support. Instead you should quietly say, “Look at what that girl is doing! She’s making her mommy cry.” Throw in a bit of hand wringing and say, “Oh dear, that poor mommy is sooooo sad.” While you’re saying this, don’t be afraid to paste an overly dramatic, wistfully sad expression on your face. One that shows empathy for the mom. Shortly, you’ll notice that your princess loving preschooler can’t help but feel involved and somewhat conspiratorial. After all, her own mommy is suddenly adopting facial expressions normally used by her favorite princess. By the way, peppering your sentences with princess-style language can’t hurt either. Interjecting expressions like, “Oh, my!” or “The poor dear…” can only serve to underscore your princess-ish persona.

The “Sad Princess” Expression

Overly dramatic resonates with the preschool set. Remember, they’re accustomed to watching the painfully sad expression of the Disney Princess as she experiences death/destruction/abandonment/neglect/abuse. Plus, your child is still looking to you for behavioral cues. So by adopting the “Sad Princess” facial expression, your child is likely to mimic your sorrow and, if you’re lucky, might even look at you and say, “That little girl is being bad, right mommy?” Now, this is the important part…while you have her attention, let out a big sigh, sadly shake your head and slowly tear your eyes away from the Mom-In-Hell. Make eye contact with your child and with lightening speed, change your expression to one of sheer joy and say, “I’m sooooo glad that you are such a well behaved girl! You would NEVER do that your mommy.” Give her a kiss, lovingly stroke her hair and then adopt a thoughtful look of surprise. (One that you might see in cartoon character whose brilliant idea inexplicably causes a light bulb to appear over his head.)
The “I have a Great Idea” Expression
Yes, it is at this moment that you should employ the most powerful tool in your blatant exploitation of bad behavior. You might say, “Oh my! I have a WONDERFUL idea! You’ve been such a lovely girl, why don’t we get you a treat?” BAM!! You can’t beat it. I’ve just served up an incredible method for reinforcing appropriate social behavior. Simply make the tantrum throwing kid the villain and the mommy automatically becomes the helpless Princess. It works like a charm.
The “Super Happy, You’re Such a Good Girl” Expression
So, next time the kids ask to watch Mulan/Princess and the Frog/Beauty and the Beast, don’t think of it such simple terms as the 127th viewing. Approach it as research and study the mannerisms of those princesses. Practice them in the mirror and store them in your arsenal. Now…if only I could figure out a way to have little birdies and woodland creatures follow me around…
-Toddler Discipline: Effective and Appropriate Tactics (webmd.com)

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Some Parents Eat Their Young

It’s true, you know. They do. Some species engage in filial cannibalism – otherwise known as baby eating (I looked that up). In fact, I once had a rabbit who ate its own babies. It was the male and I can’t attest to what he was thinking, but maybe he was driven over the edge by that year’s 5th litter of fuzzy bunnies. What if he was feeling a lot of pressure from Mrs. Rabbit? The hutch was getting smaller, the family bigger and the paychecks just couldn’t make ends meet anymore. Clearly, I fabricated that part, but it sounded good, no?

Pigs are guilty of occasionally noshing on their young as well. Back on the farm, we had a gargantuan pig named Bertha. Bertha birthed some piglets and had to be separated from her babies lest she feel the sudden urge to inappropriately chow down. (I wonder if pigs can use the post-partum defense?) The problem with mama pigs is, if there is a piglet that seems different or weak, she’ll eat it. Of course, Bertha happened to have a runt in her litter, so before anyone knew what happened, the runt was named ‘CC’, swathed in a pink doll dress with matching bonnet and plopped into the doll stroller. In case you were wondering, that was also the summer that I read Charlotte’s Web. If Fern could pull it off, so could I!
Anyway, CC slept in a cozy little box in the house, was fed with a bottle and snuggled for a period of time that I can no longer recall. As soon as CC was “caught up” with the rest of the piglets, it was right back out to the pig pen. I don’t know what happened to CC, but what I do know is that she never developed a weird friendship with a freakishly intelligent spider. That poor little runt piglet.
We have runt here in our house and her name is Kate. She’s tiny and she’s not like the others. She’s loud, refuses to eat much else than fresh mozzarella and Yo-Baby yogurt…and it better be frozen and strawberry flavored or you’ll be damn sorry! She almost always looks like she hasn’t been brushed or bathed in days. In fact, ten minutes after a bath she has the ability to waltz back into the room looking like a tiny, dirty little woman after a week-long bender. She has the ability to emit a piercing string of babble that oddly resembles a profanity-laced tirade. She can wrestle Stella to the ground in a headlock when the other kids are terrified to go near the teething puppy. She’s one tough cookie and she likes to be heard.

Kate is our third surprise…oops, I meant third baby. Kate came out screaming and hasn’t stopped in 18 months – unless you count some public appearances where she stuns us by morphing into Darling Angel Baby. She smiles at people, shares her treats, dances a little dance to the overhead music and bats her big blue eyes which results in admiring glances and comments on how adorable she is…so well behaved even! I know, I know…several of you have spent time with Darling Angel Baby and you are astonished when I tell you that she’s a screaming, tantrum throwing whack-job. When I say these things to the other mommies, I am alternatively met with, “really? She’s so quiet!” or looks of alarm that say, How could you have such thoughts about your baby?…and actually SAY it out loud?!

Simple. I’m honest. I also share a very sarcastic sense of humor with my husband. So on those evenings/mornings/entire days when Kate is screaming and hanging from a our legs as we try to cook/dress/pee. The days when we have to scream over her screaming to be heard, when my mild-mannered husband starts losing his temper…we go into the pantry together and call her out on her bullshit. Not very nice names either. Don’t worry, she can’t actually hear us because we’re hiding from her.
Our fake confrontations are similar to what you might say to a friend who is being a complete asshole during hour number 14 of a road trip. A secret pantry “confrontation” typically goes something like this:
Me (whispering): “Jeez, Kate… you’re being a real BLEEP.”

Dave (also whispering): “Seriously, man…you’re acting like a huge BLEEEEPITY BLEEP.”
From the other room, we hear Gwen yelp in pain and begin crying as Kate pummels her head with a bottle. Again.

Me (still whispering): “How ’bout I take that bottle and…..” We can’t help but dissolve into laughter at the fact that we are secretly speaking to our toddler like she’s the world’s most annoying adult. We then exit the pantry feeling far less stress than we did when we entered. 
Right about now, you might be questioning our roles as parents. Judge if you must, but our method of stress relief is effective and it sure beats eating the runt!

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