Beautiful Chaos

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The correct way to bandage an injured toddler

Step One: Assume the Worst

If your child has tripped over his own two feet or run into the wall (again) or bonked his head on a table, he will nearly always need emergency medical attention. You can simply call 911 right away and go down to step seven, or, you can gamble with your own life and move on to step two.

Step Two: Discussion

If you are foolish enough to attempt to do this yourself, you can try to ask your wailing toddler where it hurts and spend a solid 10 minutes trying to decipher wailing. Or, you can be smart, take a wild guess as to where the injury is and move on to the next logical step.

Step Three: Inspection

Next, you will need to examine a perfectly normal-looking area that your child insists has been broken or impaled. Look very, very hard, because if there is no gushing blood – a sure sign that you should just run away from the situation and treat yourself to a mani-pedi for even surviving steps one and two – then you will need to pretend that something is truly wrong with the child and start acting like you know what the hell you are doing.

Step Four: Bandage Selection

This is the MOST CRUCIAL step of any in this equation. Proper bandaging all comes down to which character your child feels like staring at for the next hour until the bandage falls off/gets wet/is forcibly removed. Present your child with an array of options. Here are some popular choices:
  • Superheroes 
  • Dora
  • SpongeBob
  • A bandage with any kids’ television character whose voice makes you want to pull out every strand of your hair.

If you even think about putting a flesh-colored or God-awful “transparent” bandage on your child, you should recognize that you are clearly not suited for this, and you should return to step one and just call 911 to let the pros deal with it.

Step Five: Bandage Application

Don’t overthink it. Just slap the thing on your kid in an area remotely close to where the boo-boo is. Don’t give a thought to if you can see the cartoon character’s face. Don’t even worry about if you got the right finger. Do it fast and run away. If that works, move on to step seven. If it doesn’t, punch yourself in the face for being so na├»ve and move on to step six.

Step Six: Bandage Re-Application

Because you are a terrible, awful parent who clearly does not hold a medical degree and understand toddler bandage application, you will now have to do the entire process over, only much slower and with much more attention to detail. Ask your child to show you where it hurts. Instruct him to keep his finger pointed to the EXACT spot until the bandage is in place – even if that means bandaging the child’s finger to the injury. Be prepared to re-position it, as boo-boos often magically transport themselves all over toddler bodies. Doctors still do not understand how this happens, so don’t beat yourself up too badly. All the while, keep in mind that you an idiot for trying to do this yourself.

Step Seven: Post-Bandaging Considerations

Do not – I repeat – DO NOT leave your house without having any fewer than 15 exact replicas of the bandage you have placed on your child. When the bandage inevitably falls off/gets wet/is forcibly removed, your child will want the exact same one placed back on the injury (which by now, if you recall, likely moved to a new appendage). He will scream when you offer a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle wrap instead of a Batman one. He will make you look like a damn fool while you are standing in line at the grocery store because you left the house with fewer than 15 exact replicas of the bandage you had placed on him earlier.

Doing the job well means you get a bandage on as quickly as possible with as few tears as necessary. That is why you should really just follow step one and call 911, because the cost of an ambulance is totally worth sparing yourself the chaos of trying to bandage your child alone.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

What I'll miss about you

“Mommy, do you want me to be like this forever?”

Hearing my own words come out of my almost-4-year-old’s mouth is entirely too precious. He is willing himself to stay awake long enough for my answer. His arms hold a plastic dinosaur against his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles pajamas, and his green-brown eyes are losing their battle against sleep.

I tell him again, “Yes, angel, I do wish I could freeze time so you would stay like this forever.” I kiss him, wish him good night and watch him fall asleep.

If I could do that moment over again, here is what I would say:

Buddy, at almost 4, I know it’s hard for you to understand why the thought of you growing up is so bittersweet.

Being your mommy means I am on a spinning wheel of entering (and sometimes struggling with) a new phase, falling in love with you all over again and then having to let go of that phase to prepare for the next.

These phases come and go so quickly that I feel I can hardly keep up with you. I remember wanting to freeze time when you were just a few days old, then again when you learned how to crawl, how to walk, how to talk, and now again that you are almost 4.

It is not that I don’t want you to have your own life, but rather that I know how quickly my time with the almost-4-year-old you is going to fade. There are so many things I will miss about you at this age:

I will miss your willingness to give me a hug and a kiss no matter where we are and no matter who is around. I keep telling you that, one day, you might not want to kiss me, but you defiantly insist that day will never come.

I will miss watching you get old enough to do certain things: make your own food (messiest peanut butter and jellies EVER), go to the bathroom on your own, walk next to the cart in the grocery store. These are all things for which I constantly tell you, “I’m so proud of you.”

… And I will miss that you are still young enough to repeat those words back to me when I least expect it. “Mom, did you just go to the bathroom by yourself? I’m so proud of you!” “Mom, did you just throw that garbage away? I’m so proud of you!”

I will miss that I can still encircle your bicep with my thumb and middle finger when we cuddle on the couch together. Something tells me that one day I will need both hands.

I will miss that you are old enough to leave tantrums behind but young enough to shed a few tears over losing a toy or missing your grandpa.

I will miss your sweet little voice that before I know it will be deep and booming just like your dad’s. I want to record you talking just so I can play it back one day when I miss the almost-4-year-old you.

I will miss the way you want me and only me when you are hurt. One day, you might turn to someone else for comfort. As happy as I will be that you have someone else in your life who can wipe away your tears, I will long for the days when I was the only person who could make it better.

So yes, my dear little boy, I do wish I could keep you like this forever. To my dismay, I cannot. What I can do is sit with you just a little longer tonight and cherish the fact that I get to know you through all the phases of your life. I love you with everything I have, no matter how old you get.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The reasons I'm disciplining your child

As a parent, there are few things more insulting than when someone else disciplines your child. I mean, it’s my kid, what the heck are you doing scolding him?

At the same time, I come from a family that operates in the “it takes a village” mentality, and we all assume responsibility for the children.

Over the past few years, I have been put in a position many times in which I have had to exert a little authority outside my jurisdiction by firmly explaining to your kid that he or she needs to stop whatever he or she is doing.

Ideal situation? No.

Necessary? Sometimes, I think it is.

I’m not talking about yelling or corporal punishment, and I don’t go around looking for opportunities. If one presents itself, though, I might step in and say something as tactfully as I can.

Here are four reasons I might discipline your child:

1.     You were busy doing something else.

This is the most common reason I have ever overstepped my boundaries. I have two children, and I know my eyes can’t be on both of them at one time. If one of them were doing something wrong, like picking up knives or punching another child, I would fully expect another adult to step in. If you have your hands full with a dirty-diapered infant and your toddler has a permanent marker, a clean wall and a devilish smile, I will be the first to step in to have a little chat with him. You’re welcome.

2.     Your kid and mine are fighting.

My kids are just targets for little punks. Most of the time, I let it slide. Like the time at the bouncy house place when two little girls made my son cry because they told him he was a “stinky butt” and he wasn’t allowed on “their” bounce house. I chose to let those deviants’ mothers deal with them (which they totally didn’t, anyway, because those moms were clearly just as awful as those little girls).

There are other times, though, when kids get a little too rough and someone needs to do something. Playing has turned to fighting, and that fighting is seconds away from broken bones. I’m going to break up the situation and remind them that hitting does not solve anything.

3.     Our children are acting like donkeys together.

At almost 4 years old, kids have already learned some basic dos and don’ts. They know right from wrong. When kids are together, however, it’s like all sense of good behavior goes out the window. They should know by now that throwing toys against the wall is wrong, and I’m going to call them on it.

4.     You weren’t doing anything and it was ridiculous.

At a play date in our old neighborhood, a woman’s daughter was terrorizing my son. The little girl jumped on him, threw things at him and screamed in his face. Monster was barely walking at the time, so I kept moving him away from the she-beast while the little girl’s mother just laughed about her “wild” child. One final blow to my son’s head prompted me to separate the kids. I told the little girl that she could not keep beating up on my child. The mother seemed upset that I would admonish her daughter, but I didn’t care. Discipline your child, or I will do it for you.

Kids will be kids, and I truly try to let kids be kids as much as possible. I’m not someone who cries “bully” at every run-in, and I want my children to learn how to work out arguments on their own. However, I refuse to raise a generation of jerks, and if it means that I look like a jerk for disciplining your kid in certain situations, then so be it.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Your kids are gross

Your children are gross, and I want nothing to do with them.

I know how harsh that sounds. Before I had kids, I would have said, “Kids are beautiful! Sure, they get a little snotty and have dirt under their fingernails, but that’s just kids being kids.”

Now that I have children of my own, I can say with total confidence that little ones are little more than walking, talking bacteria-mongers.

Back to my original comment: Your children are gross.

Mine are, too, though.

In fact, when looking back on my family’s medical history, I can safely conclude that my kids are probably way more gross than yours.

Because I have no shame, I’ll share with you a sampling of the disgusting things we have somehow survived:

Impetigo. Every gastrointestinal infection known to man. Lice. Weird, hernia-like swelling. Pink eye. Inexplicable rashes that come and go at will. Worms.

Did you catch that last one? Worms. I’m not talking about the family dog. A human in my family had worms.


The pediatrician had obviously attended “Breaking Wormy News to Unstable Mothers 101,” because he told me that in addition to being pretty harmless, worms are actually a sign that my child is ingesting good bacteria.

“In countries where there are more incidents of worms, there are far fewer people with allergies,” he assured me while shaking my hand good-bye.

Sorry, doc, but there is no way to spin this. My kid eats dirt and contracts worms and will forever be a little different in my eyes. Also, I saw you reach for the hand sanitizer in a panic as soon as we got done shaking hands. Nice try.

In the past 12 months, we have been overloaded with childhood afflictions. Disproportionately so, in my opinion, unless everyone else is just wise enough to keep their mouths shut about the abhorrent goblins lurking in their children’s systems.

I know that we practice good hygiene in our house. I’m not a mom who bleaches every surface that could come into contact with a human, but we aren’t devoid of cleanliness. We wash hands. We bathe. We launder our clothes and wash our dishes.

This leads me to the conclusion that if my kids still bring home these germs, your kids can, too.

And that means that I think your kids are gross.

Please don’t be offended. Clearly, I’m in the same boat as you, though I kind of wish our boat had a germ-proof divider between our families so as to prevent the spread of infectious disease.

Thanks to the incidents of the past year, your kid has been transformed from a sweet, chubby-cheeked miracle of nature into a slimy, grimy monster spewing strands of remedy-resistant sicknesses. I feel like I can see particles escaping your child’s eyes or mouth or nose, floating through the air and going right onto my children.

I never used to be this way. I used to scoff at parents who would demand that anyone who wanted to even look at their child had to bathe in hand sanitizer.

Four years and a million diseases later, and now I’m like, “Can I purchase Purell in bulk on Amazon? And will they do same-day delivery?”

Your kids are gross, and the sooner you accept it, the sooner we can start shopping for toddler-size hazmat suits so we can resume our play dates. I have petitioned my son’s preschool teachers to implement a child-in-bubble learning program, and I think their eye-rolling was actually their way of saying they are searching their brains for a way to make it happen.

Kids are disgusting, and my house is under quarantine, and we may never have contact with the outside world again. Good-bye carefree childhood, hello rubber gloves and face masks.

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Land of Make Believe

Recently, a friend of mine in Cincinnati posted on Facebook that she was feeling out of place at a park. She went in typical mommy attire: comfortable and sporty. She was shocked to discover that many of the other mothers there were wearing dresses.


I instantly had negative feelings toward these women. Thanks, ladies, for violating the unspoken mothers’ pact that dictates that unless you are going to date night/girls’ night/a formal occasion, you do not put on makeup/wear nice clothing/brush your hair. We aren’t supposed to care how we look on a playdate.

Someone asked my friend at which park she encountered the dressy women, and she responded (truthfully) that it is called, “The Land of Make Believe.”

Oh, the irony.

As mothers, how often do we say that we just don’t care about how we look because there are too many other things to focus on? Additionally, how quick are we to incite mommy-on-mommy hate when we encounter someone who looks, by our own standards, “better”?

I have two nagging thoughts that I can’t shake:

Do we live in the land of make believe when we tell ourselves that we don’t or shouldn’t care about our looks? Are we doing ourselves a disservice by devaluing the desire to look nice?

We do care. I care. The woman at the playground who wasn’t dressed to be at a royal ball probably cares.

I’m not even talking about the pressures we may feel to reach a certain societal standard of beauty; I’m talking about being comfortable in our own skin, which can be a big struggle when our skin has been chewed on, stretched out, cut open or wrinkled with the worries of parenting.

Being a parent is no fairy tale. It is hard work. The easy part is putting our looks way down at the bottom of the to-do list.

And because of that, it’s easy to think that making time for the way we look is a superficial thing. We start assigning guilt to the feelings that urge us to buy the nice under-eye cream instead of the generic, or splurge on a manicure instead of getting the toddler the toy he has been wanting.

So we compromise; we go to the gym to exercise and feel good but spend all day a hot, sweaty mess because taking the time to shower and dress would interrupt the kids’ schedules (heaven forbid). We go to play dates straight from the gym and then feel a little put off by the parents who do look nice.

Long gone are the little girl days of wanting to be a princess; we have come to terms that we are more like Cinderella, and there are no glass slippers in our futures.

As much as I would love to tell you that I don’t care, there is a little part of me that does.

I oscillate between the reassuring thoughts that I’m beautiful because of who I am, not how I look, and nagging reminders that I haven’t washed, dried and fixed my hair in weeks because I have been prioritizing parenting over something that makes me feel good about myself.

I hold my head high and claim that as a feminist, I believe my value comes from somewhere other than my appearance. But admittedly, I still feel “less than” when I encounter women who look like they stepped out of the fairy tale. They ate poisonous fruit and lost weight faster than I did. They climbed the beanstalk carrying their 6-month-old and got a freaking six-pack.

Maybe they made it a higher priority. Maybe projecting on them is a reflection of my own insecurities. Maybe, just maybe, I caught them on the one and only day they washed their hair and felt beautiful, and I should celebrate them instead of admonishing them.

Does it only happen in the land of make believe that we remember that it’s OK to take the time to do something for ourselves?

It does feel good to know you look good, however you choose to define it. Maybe the mothers who were dressed so nicely at The Land of Make Believe did the right thing by bringing a bit of the fairy tale into the real world. I may never achieve it, but it’s a good reminder that I can take a little time for myself and still be a good mom.