Here’s How You’re Screwing Up Your Kid

There’s this funny phenomenon that occurs when you have kids. Ever heard that saying, “it takes a village to raise a child”? Well, almost from the moment you announce your pregnancy, the village arrives ready to shower you in congratulations and unsolicited bits of advice.

This is especially true if you frequent social media.

Articles and videos involving children are almost always guaranteed to be inundated with comments about what the parents should have could have done. No matter how innocuous or innocent the content, someone somewhere is going to be offended.

That’s a risk that comes when you use the internet. And I knew this the day I posted a public video of my 2yo after he smashed an entire carton of eggs on my kitchen floor. In the video, I didn’t know what to do. Laugh? Cry? Scream? It was one of those messes that takes your breath away, and leaves you wondering how someone so small can make such a huge mess in so little a time.

I stood there filming as he belly-flopped in egg guts and chased an unbroken yolk along the linoleum. I didn’t scream at him and make a scene, which, to patrons of the internet, automatically meant I did nothing–I let him make the mess by being a neglectful parent (where was the mom?!), and then, being judged by this one incident, I was accused of raising one of those wretched children who thinks it’s okay to walk all over authority and get away with whatever they want.

Am I upset about some of the comments? I was for about five minutes, before I realized that being upset was pointless. One, because I opened myself up to that kind of criticism by posting it publicly. Two, because no matter what I do as a mom, someone somewhere will not agree. Someone somewhere will slap “if that were my kid…”, or “my children would never…” into the comments. It makes me more upset when I see other parents catching flack.

Parenting blogs can be some of the most savage places on the internet. Why? Because the internet is full of Susie-perfect-mom’s. People who think they know it all when it comes to raising kids. They don’t take into account that every child, every parent, every household is different. They don’t take into account that what worked for them won’t work for some people.

But, hey. To each his own, right? Unless you’re a parent, in which case you’re probably screwing up your kid in some form or fashion. And I figured, since I now have all this amazing wisdom about parenting thanks to the digital village, I might as well share it with you guys!



So here’s a comprehensive list of all the ways you’re screwing up your kids so that you can avoid making these mistakes:

Helicopter mom? – Time to cut the cord, lady. How are they ever going to learn independence?

Free-range mom? – Admit it, you’re just lazy. We all know it.

Co-Sleep? – Yeah, your kid is screwed. They’ll be codependent the rest of their lives.

Let them cry it out at night? – How do you even live with yourself, you cold, heartless monster!

Breastfeed? – Don’t even get me started you promiscuous hippy. You’re probably just trying to steal my husband with your milk bags.

Bottle-feed? – Um, excuse me… do you even know what’s in that stuff?

Natural birth? – Okaaaay, and this makes you special how? What, you think you’re better than everybody? The only reason women opt for natural birth is so that they can brag about it. We all know it.

C-Section? – Oh, girl, please. You didn’t “give birth”, you laid on a table and bled for a few minutes. How are you even considered a real mom?

Feed your child? – But what are you feeding them? It has to be Vegan, gluten, and dye free otherwise your future grandchildren are going to sprout tentacles.

Feed your child a special diet? – Are they allergic to sunlight, too, or what? I mean, really. Enjoy your gross rabbit food.

Medicate for a legitimate medical condition? – I hope you enjoy being a puppet of the pharmaceutical companies. ADHD isn’t even a real thing. Duh. And Autism is only caused by vaccines which you totally could have avoided if you read those fifteen articles I tagged you in. Just sayin’.

Choose not to medicate? – Yeah, good luck with your essential oils and herbs there, witch doctor. Maybe you can smother some coconut oil on your brain.

Spanking? – You know who else believed in spanking? Hitler.

No spanking? – You’re everything that’s wrong with our society. Your children are going to grow up to be entitled and selfish just like you! The only real way to discipline a child is with violence.

Working parent? – What was the point of having kids if you were just going to let someone else take care of them anyways? Awful.

Stay-at-home-parent? – Must be nice to just sit on your butt all day long, sipping wine or drinking beer, and channel surfing. Bro, do you even work?

Public school? – Sure, if you want your child pregnant and on drugs by the time they’re 15. Public school is the devil.

Private school? – Sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll, but with embroidered uniforms and a cricket team. Woo-woo!

Homeschool? – Homeschool is for religious nut-jobs who don’t want their children to believe in science. Duh.

The moral of the story here, kids, is that someone is always going to have an opinion about the way you parent. Whether it’s your doddering mother-in-law, or strangers on the internet. You just have to take it all with a grain of salt.

Or, you know, you could surrender to the digital village. Because the digital village knows all, sees all, hears all.

lucille-portable

Here’s What You Do When Your Kid Makes A HUGE Egg Mess

Step one: Don’t PANIC!

(You can skip past the narrative and head to the bottom for the rest of the steps, if you’d like)

No, seriously. Two mornings ago I had my Here's What You Do WhenYour Kid Makes A HUGE Egg Mess.pngalmost-2-year-old helping me clean up the mess he made in his sister’s room when he wandered off on to a bigger and better mess that involved an entire carton of eggs. Most parents know just how fast kids can get into things, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that in a mere TWO minutes, me managed to crack every. single. egg. All over our kitchen floor. Not only that, he decided to bathe in them.

A friend of mine made the comment that this must be a rite of passage for kids. My oldest son did this on a lesser scale, but on CARPET! My daughter had her rite of passage when she set our microwave on fire at the age of 2, while trying to make herself some oatmeal. And I’m pretty sure that it was my middle son who spilled red Kool-aid all over the kitchen once. (Thank you, Jesus, for magic erasers because red Kool-aid stains SO bad.)

You would think that after raising three other children through their toddler years, I would be pretty well versed in messes of all shapes and sizes. Nope. I walked around the corner into our kitchen and almost lost my s***. I didn’t even know where to begin cleaning up this mess, especially since I had to leave in 10 minutes to get my daughter from pre-school. So first order of business was to clean up the baby.

I let the egg-catastrophe sit and stew while I picked her up, but afterwards I grabbed three of our biggest, thickest towels and proceeded to mop up the sticky, gooey mess. Thirty minutes, two gallons of soapy water, and two Swiffer sweeper pads later and VOILA! My kitchen floor is still sticky.

Toddler: 1, Mom: 0

It wasn’t until a day later that friends began giving me advice on how I could have cleaned up the mess without so much expenditure. Hindsight is always 20/20, right? So here’s what they told me:

How To Clean Up A HUGE Egg Mess!


For Hard Surfaces:

Step One: Don’t Panic

– That’s what the kid(s) wants us to do! Because nothing makes their day quite like watching mommy and/or daddy flip their lid. At least in this house.

Step Two: Shake It Like A Salt Shaker

– While you may be tempted to tackle the mess head-on with paper towels, start with some table salt, instead. That’s right. Whip out that good ole’ container of table salt and sprinkle it generously over the egg mess. This is even something you can get your little mess-maker to help you with, since they like spilling stuff all over the floor–apparently.

Make sure you get the whole spill, and then let it sit for ten minutes. And while you’re waiting, you can take the opportunity to give your touch-every-hard-surface-in-sight, adorable little cherub a bath!

Step Three: Wipe On, Wipe Off

– Take your paper towel of choice, whether yours are made from a lumberjack’s chest hair or quilted from a grandmother’s hugs and kisses, and wipe up the egg mess! The salt helps solidify the gooey egg-guts that are nearly impossible to wipe up otherwise. Why? Because science. Then you can just take your Swiffer sweeper-mop for a round over the residual stickiness, or a Clorox wipe, or just good wholesome soap and water.

Be smarter than me. Try these steps.

Now…


For Carpet!

(I am so, so sorry if this is you)

Step One: Remove the Excess

(I’m not even going to bother telling you to stay calm because, like, there’s egg on your carpet. Who can stay calm for that?)

– Use a spatula or another flat-edged utensil to carefully scrape up the excess egg. If the yolk isn’t broken, God be with you that you don’t break it yourself.

Step Two: Cold Water ONLY

– Take two cups of cold (seriously, do not use warm or hot water unless you want to cook that egg into your carpet) water and two tablespoons of dish detergent, and dab–DAB!–at the stain from the outside –> in, until the stain is gone.

Step three: Patience is Key

– It may take a few passes to get the stain out, in which case you want to pat the stain dry between cleanings. However, once the stain is gone, pour yourself a glass of wine, or pop open your favorite stout, and pat that once-egg-mess with cold water, then use a dry cloth to pat it dry.

(I am not responsible for any spilled alcoholic beverages on your carpet)

Scrape, dab, pat!


Now, if you’re not here because you have an egg mess to clean, and you’re just looking for a good time, I invite you to check out the video proof of what my almost-2-year-old did to my kitchen, and my eggs.

If you ARE here because you have an egg mess to clean, then I invite you to watch the video proof that you, my friend, are not alone. #Solidarity, amirite?

Let me just say egg mess one more time,

Egg mess!

Today on: Guess What Gayle Did! Vol. 46

Our 4-year-old is quite a character. With two older brothers, she is not a dainty young lady. She’ll dig in the mud, show you the food in her mouth (uninvited), participate in the daily wrestling matches that we’ve all but given up trying to quell between our boys, and so, of course, her favorite thing right now is poopcopy-of-today-onthe-world-of-gayle

Not Disney princesses, not Peppa Pig, not playing dress-up. POOP.

Tonight was Open House at the children’s school. For those of you who may not know what an Open House is, it’s when the school invites parents to come in, meet with the teachers, and take a look at all the different things their kids have been up to so far. Daddy was kind enough to take Gayle and her older brother, Isaak, while I stayed home with the babies and her oldest brother, Aidan.

Let’s just say that after tonight we’ve now come to realize just how deep her obsession with poop runs.

Gayle showed Daddy her activity book where she draws an assortment of pictures based on a prompt from the teacher. As Daddy is thumbing through the book, he sees a prompt for Gayle’s favorite color.

Gayle’s favorite color? “Poop”, as she said. Not brown, which was the color on the page, but poop.

He flipped to the next page where there were several small green-faced characters drawn around a very large character with a green face. Who was the large character? “Daddy,” she said. Why was his face green? “Because you’re pooping!” She said. And what did daddy have in his hand? A huge glob of–you guessed it–poop. She’d even drawn small piles of poop around all the smaller little stick figures. All of this she explained in the true fashion of four-year-olds, loud and proud for all the parents and students to hear!

Of course, I had to take my chance to pick on my husband so when he told me this story, I burst into hysterics and told him she must think he’s full of [expletive]. He frowned, I laughed harder. It was a good time.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. She specifically chooses chocolate candy from the store so that, with every bite/piece, she can say, “Mom, look! I’m eating poop!” When I put chocolate syrup in her milk? “Look, mom, I’m drinking chocolate poop!”

We’ve pretty much stopped reacting to the whole poop situation, but tonight was just too good not to share. We hope this is just a phase. If not, maybe it means she’ll grow up to be a gastroenterologist or something? I’m all for a doctor in the family!

“NO” is A Complete Sentence

   Sometimes I just don’t owe my children an explanation. _No_ is a complete sentence

     There, I said it. I bit the bullet. I have successfully swallowed my pride and admitted that 17-year-old me was wrong, wrong, wrong.

     You see, I made a promise to myself ten years ago that I would never be one of those parents who says things like because I said so, and you’ll understand when you have kids of your own. No. I swore to myself then that I would actually take the time to explain things to my children. If they couldn’t have or do something, I would explain why, they would understand, and there would be peace on Earth.

     I’m both laughing at myself and crying over my absolute naivety. At the time I didn’t understand that you really can’t rationalize with a three-year-old (otherwise known as a “threenager”).

     So what if it’s almost dinner time? Why the heck can’t I have an ice cream cone as a pre-dinner snack? This is ridiculous and unfair and you’re an awful person for saying no!

     So sue me for trying to establish healthy eating habits, kid. You’ll thank me for it later.

     But you see, kids have no concept of “later”. They haven’t yet grasped reason and logical conclusions. It’s not their fault, really. Blame that underdeveloped prefrontal cortex which controls things like emotions and impulses, judgement, and weighing outcomes.

     Now, some kids get it. At least, they appreciate the effort of something more than just “no, because I said so”. I was blessed with at least one of these, but reason still doesn’t negate that she wants what she wants. She is her own “woman” and wants to learn on her own why it’s dangerous to hang out in the middle of the street. She’s four going on fourteen.

     The fact remains: sometimes we just don’t owe our children an explanation. In my personal experience, with my own unique little snowflakes, “why” is a loaded question. “Why can’t I have that uber-expensive toy from the store?” Sure, I could explain that money is not an unlimited resource–not for this family of 7, at least. I can explain that the necessity of food and lights overrules the want for toys. And no, credit cards are not an unlimited resource, either, you silly goose.

     In my experience, “why” is never good enough. They don’t want explanations for the sake of knowledge so much as they want you to open the door to argument. They want to hear your reasons and then pick them apart, or they want to simply ask “why” until you’ve been sapped of every ounce of patience.

     And there is another reason why I simply stick with “no”. Not only is “no” easy, cut, dry, and time saving when you’re in the middle of dinner, but “No” is a complete sentence. No is a complete sentence when I won’t give my children something they want, it’s a complete sentence when they grow up and are being pressured into doing things they don’t want to do.

     I want them to understand in the long run–when they can finally comprehend “the long run”–that they don’t owe people explanations when they say “no”. No is no is no. They don’t owe anyone a reason why they don’t want to be involved in certain activities or with certain people. Their reasons are their own, and they’re not put out there for other people to pick apart and manipulate until those people get the desired result.

     Of course, given that my children have a razor-fine understanding of hypocrisy despite not being able to understand that money is a finite resource, I also allow them their absolute “no” from time to time. Not when I’m trying to get them to do chores, of course. But when it comes to making decisions based on their own likes and dislikes, I try to let them make absolute choices.

     “Do you want broccoli?”

     “No.”

     “Okay.” When really I’m thinking: k, it’s delicious and healthy but whatevs.*

*This also stems from the fact that our pediatrician set me straight on trying to force our children to eat certain portions and certain foods. Thank you, Doc!

     As always, the motto that will one day be engraved on my epitaph: Pick your battles. There are times when there is a true benefit, a true learning moment, in giving my children the “why” behind something I say, do, or ask of them. It’s all in the moment. Other times, when I just know that my four-year-0ld is looking for a fight, I stick to “no”. Well, I don’t always stick to it, but I’m getting better about just using this one word, followed by one of two responses, “asked and answered”, or “because I said so.”

     My 17-year-old self is cringing, slipping on the headphones, and playing that one Tool track over and over again.