From the category archives:

toddler years


by anna on August 12, 2010

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Mini is a funny kid. Perhaps you’ve picked up on this.

The thing that is changing is that he is becoming self-conscious about it now. To the point that I suspect him of writing bits down on the backs of cocktail napkins. Or maybe working things out to try out at the next open mike night at Caroline’s. Now, given, he’s only three — but still, it can’t be long now before he’s talking about whether or not to go blue for the preschool talent show.


The other day, I was trying to wrangle Mini for bathtime. As is his habit on occasion, he was selectively ignoring my requests for him to come into the bathroom. So after some time had passed, I started in with the age-old parental technique of counting wherein the parent counts, slowly, and when the parent gets to a certain number, then the kid knows that Trouble will be happening. The conversation when as follows:

Me: One . . . Two . . . Three . . .


Mr. Right-Click came home from work the other night, and Mini asked him if he’d “care to join us downstairs.” We asked him if an English butler had been teaching him idioms when we weren’t around.


We continue to go through the dances of potty training with Mini. Though he is mostly trained, there is one exception — he has completely rearranged his life so as to not need to use the potty for “number two” except at night time when, as you might suspect, he is wearing a diaper. And more often than not, he will go ahead and use the diaper instead of the potty for number two, despite the fact that he knows his desperate parents will not only bribe him with toys if he uses the potty, but actually go so far as to *drive him to the toy store that very second* if he uses the potty. Still, when we put him to sleep, we are often greeted, ten minutes later, by Mini at our bedside with the Kirk Douglas face, which means that there’s some kind of wonderful package in his diaper that needs immediate attention.

So, the other night, we were all in Mini’s room negotiating the delicate issue of the pre-bedtime poop.

Mr. Right-Click: So, Mini, Mommy and I are going to leave now, and go in the other room.
Mini: OK, GAGA! [Ed. Note: I should add here that "Gaga" is some kind of all-purpose preschool slang of fluid definition that we don't really understand. "Gaga" can mean something good or bad in quick succession without warning.]
Mr. Right-Click: So basically, your plan is to poop your pants just as soon as we leave –is that right?
Mini: That’s right.
Me: [laughing.]
Mr. Right-Click: Come on, dude, let’s go sit on the potty. Right now.
Mini: No way, GAGA!
Me: [laughing.]
Mr. Right-Click: Your mommy thinks this is hysterical.
Me: I’m sorry, come on buddy, let’s go sit on the potty.
Mini: No way, GAGA!
Me: Come on. Right now.
Mini: No way.
Me: One . . .
Mini: Two . . .
Me: Three . .
Mr. Right-Click: OK, that’s enough.

[Time passes, we return to our room. Mini comes out with the Kirk Douglas face.]

Mr. Right-Click: Did you poop your pants?
Mini: Yes sir, GAGA!
Me: Mini! Why did you do that? Why wouldn’t you just sit on the potty when we asked?
Mini: Because I CAN! GAGA!

And here’s where a visual would really help because the last part was delivered with a Hannibal Lechter lisp, like Mini was looking for some fava beans and a nice Chianti to go with the poop he took in his diaper, just because he could. Gaga.

This morning, I asked Mini something and his response was, “I have good news, and I have bad news.”

This made me realize that the day is fast approaching when I will repeat to you something that Mini has said to me and you all will have stopped believing me altogether. There will be accusations that I just make up these conversations to get traffic, because no three year old could possibly be this well-versed in the language of 70s I’m OK, You’re OK street parlance.

But since he mentioned it, about Buzz, I have good news, and I have bad news.

The good news is, Mini is not too upset. Yet. The bad news is, we don’t know where the fuck Buzz is.

Here’s what happened. And I really don’t want to turn into those insane mothers who starts pointing fingers. But what I’m going to do is, I’m going to turn into one of those insane mothers who starts pointing fingers. Because I absolutely did drop Buzz off with Mini yesterday at school. I specifically remember tucking him into the cubby, because I had to smash him down in order to fit him in with all the other crap that was in there. So I go in to pick up Mini yesterday and Mini says, “We don’t know where Buzzie is, Mama.”

And right away the teachers start up with the gaslighting.

Oh, you didn’t bring Buzz in today, they say. And I say, Oh yes I did. But they’re insistent, right? And I’m saying, Oh yes, I did bring Buzz in, I remember, I know I did. And they are saying, Well, he wasn’t here at naptime. And I’m saying, Right. But I put him in the cubby. And all I’ve got is a three year old to back me up, who is talking about — What the fuck are you talking about, Mini? Blocks? Honestly? Can you stay on target here, buddy? We are trying to locate BUZZ.

So we search. We search everywhere. In all of the cubbies. In all of the baskets. Underneath all of the communal stuffed animals. Even in the yard. In the other rooms. We can’t find Buzz. And all the while, they’re still trying to sell this idea that I never brought Buzz to school in the first place, but I know. I know who took Buzz. But I don’t want to say it because I’m not going to be that insane mother who points fingers. So I go through the motions of looking, and I agree to search at home, in my car, even in the parking lot, even though I know that he’s got to be either in that room or in the trash, or gone home with somebody, because he did come to school and besides nobody is talking about the elephant in the room which is the kid who has been known to go into Mini’s cubby and take shit out of it, nobody has taken THAT kid aside and questioned him, or played good cop bad cop on HIS ASS. OH NO. It’s all about, did you check YOUR car? How about the parking lot? Or maybe somebody turned it into the office?

We went home last night and things were quiet. Mini was not too upset about it, though he did mention an incident, involving the kid in question, Buzz, and some blocks. I thought this was a lead, so I called it into the classroom. They told me they would follow up on it, but I am pretty sure they have started throwing my suggestions directly into the circular file. I told Mini that his teachers are continuing to look for Buzz and not to worry. He comforted himself with Bruin Bear and Lamby Lamb last night, and this morning we both went in, hoping that they had managed to find Buzz overnight.

No such luck.

I was talking to one of the teachers about it, filling her in on what Mini had told me about the blocks, and trying to be as diplomatic as possible. She told me, “Well, three year olds can tell you stuff that happened from days ago as if it was today.” And I said, “Yes, I know. It’s just that, well, and I really don’t want to be that parent, the one who makes a big deal, but this is the thing, he does tend to always fixate on Buzz, I’ve seen him do it before, and –”

Just then, I see the same kid running up to Mini with Lamby Lamb — Mini’s Lamby Lamb — and shaking it in Mini’s face, and then running away with it. And then before I know what I’m doing, I’m running over to him, and grabbing it from him, and I’m saying, “No, no! That is Mini’s! You cannot take that out of Mini’s cubby, OK? Do you understand? That is Mini’s!” I look at the teacher and I say, “Do you see? I know that 3 year olds are not reliable narrators, but Buzz went missing yesterday, and I’m telling you about it, and then the very same kid goes and takes the next lovey out of Mini’s cubby while I’m standing here telling you about it!”

And I realize, with horror, that I’m that mother. I’m that horrible mother who makes a big deal about everything, blames the teacher who has to watch eleventy billion kids for one missing lovey. I’m over here picturing Buzz with a knife stabbed through him and a note written in blood that says, “You’re Next!” Meanwhile, Mini doesn’t even really care all that much, in the grand scheme of things, he’d rather have Buzz back but can he sacrifice a lovey? Probably. In fact, if I stop freaking out about it, maybe he will forget that Buzz is gone.

He’s a pretty secure kid. It’s me that is the fucked up one.

Epilogue: We found Buzz! Suspiciously, he was found smashed behind one of the girls’ cubbies. Now, I checked in and behind every single cubby twice, so I suspect somebody is trying to play this girl as a patsy, but whatever, the important thing is that Buzz is home safe. I’m currently fashioning a lock on him to attach to Mini’s wrist so he doesn’t get kidnapped again.

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The Politics of Yard Jumping

by anna on July 22, 2010

Mini is about to switch yards. This is about as big as shit gets for a three year old.

The yards at Mini’s educational institution are arranged as such: the two classrooms situated closest to the previously discussed gate house the “twos.” One room is for those kids with second birthdays closest to the beginning of the school year, and the other for those with second-and-a-half birthdays at the beginning of the school year. Both are named after small and cuddly land mammals. I would imagine this is a practice replicated in many preschools throughout North America, but rather than tempt fate I will simply let you know that Mini’s birthday could have landed him in either class but he was put in with the smaller of the two animals and, as it happens, the only one that is found native to countries north of the equator.

He has enjoyed his time in that classroom, but at the end of the month, it will come time to move into the Big Boy Yard. This yard is further along the trajectory of the school’s geography, where they name the classrooms after aquatic-dwelling mammals. We found out today that Mini will be placed in the classroom named after the less-intelligent of the two medium sized sea mammals which were possible namesakes for his homeroom. For me, this was merely a momentary setback, as I quickly identified several names on the list of his classmates that I had hoped to see included, and was happy to see others had been excluded that I was sure I wouldn’t miss.

But all of this is nothing compared to what Mini has told me about what it means to move to the Big Boy Yard.

Because they have been taking the kids over a few times a week to try out the new yard, with the big kids, to see what it’s like. And Mini has apparently been making his own set of assumptions based on his time over at the new yard. And one of those things has to do with whether or not he will be bring his lovey, “Buzz,” with him to the Big Boy Yard and the new class.

“Mommy, the boys in the big boy yard, they don’t have Buzz,” Mini told me the other day in the car.
“What do you mean? They don’t bring a lovey to school, like you bring Buzz?”
“Yeah, no Buzz.”
“How do you know, buddy?”
“”Acause I go to that yard, and they, only girls. Only girls have them.”
“Only the girls bring loveys to school?”
“Yeah. Only girls bring Buzzies.”
“Oh. Well, do you mean you don’t want to bring Buzz anymore?”
“No, I bring Buzz. ‘Acause I bring Buzz.”
“I think you can bring Buzz whenever you want, Buddy.”
“Yeah, ‘acause, I go to my yard. I don’t go to the Big Boy Yard.”
“Well, even if you go to the Big Boy Yard, you can still bring Buzz.”
“I go to my yard.”

Now, I’m no parenting expert, but my preliminary assessment of the situation suggested that this was Mini’s anxiety speaking. But just to be sure, I checked with Mini’s teachers, and sure enough, this was something he had decided on his own, I guess based on the fact that he had not seen any Big Boys walking around the Big Boy Yard carrying a lovey. Not that he carries Buzz around His Yard, either, but it’s clear that he had seen a few of the Big Girls openly carrying a lovey, whereas the Big Boys had been more quiet about the use of their loveys, at least while he was around. And from this, Mini had discerned that loveys weren’t something that Big Boys brought to the Big Boy Yard.

As usual, there’s a little bit of ambivalence mixed in with the excitement of the new step. On the one hand, Mini likes the new yard because he can ride his bike way faster on the hills over there, and there is a whole new climbing structure to explore. On the other hand, he has spent the past ten months making this yard his own. I think right now the indecision is being played out on the body of Buzz. I’m a little impatient and nervous to see what happens, to be honest.