Twitter: perhaps the downfall of man/womankind

I interrupt this hiatus to tell all my non-readers that Missteps in Motherhood has gone modern:

http://www.twitter.com/ms_missteps

BAWK.

Ode to Nature, or “Crumbs”

27. Don’t neglect a bunch of crumbs in the seat of the stroller. Especially when the stroller is unoccupied and you’re out of doors, say at a park or aquarium or—anywhere outside, really. I did this. I neglected the crumbs Eloise left behind after devouring her carrot muffin. Actually, I wasn’t even aware of them, as they were under her bum for most of the strolling; but regardless, I did fail to check the seat when I released her for some much-anticipated toddling. Toddle, toddle . . . “Can my little girl who is half your size please play with this apparatus? No? Okay. Thanks for considering, you heathen.” Toddle, toddle . . . TIMBER! Toddle . . . [Eloise points to her stroller.] “You want to get back in the stroller?! Wow! You never willingly ask to re-enter the stroller!” [After much annoying cute talk, I actually glanced in the direction she was pointing, where I saw two pigeons hanging out in the stroller seat, reaping the rewards of Eloise’s novice eating skills. My eyes darted to another mom across the way. I made a frown face, and so did she.] “There were crumbs in the seat, I think,” I muttered, before she returned a look that very clearly said, “You aren’t too bright, are you?”

We went home about 1.5 minutes later (the time required to baby-wipe down the seat to rid it of pigeon cooties). Not too many pigeons here, thank goodness.

The Soundtrack of My Mommy Mind

26. When routine trips to the park inspire me to break into sudden bursts of kiddie rap. In my mind, at least. It’s not unlike the George Michael “Monkey” incident, but the last several times I’ve taken Eloise to the park—you know, to see who she’ll hug next—this hit by Another Bad Creation (ABC!) from 1991 takes me over. Or perhaps that’s simply the mode my brain goes into when confronted with another round of, “So . . . when did she start walking?” ensues. At any rate, this playground scene is a little, what?—harder—then our local playground scene. But you can understand why these kids were the darlings of Motown in the early 1990s. See, look (thank you, Lyrics Download):

GA:
Comin’ from the playground
take it straight back to the bricks
Yo Chris, tell em where it is

Chris:
Chillin, cooler den a squeak, kickin’ dirt on my sneakers
Suckers on the corner lookin’ down at their beepers
They couldn’t get a job or a nice home
So they wanna stay and wait for the pay-phone
Take JoJo he’s the youngest
Girls jock him cuz he’s reverse dressed
strollin’ through the neighborhood
Sweatin’ their brother tryin’ to see why he’s doin’ good
(sounds of sirens) <————- !!!
Rollin’ through the park tryin’ to make another hit
Little do they know that soldier’s legit
I’m not sayin’ this to put nobody down
This is what I see at the playground . . . ya know!

Mommy probably needs to get to a museum. And quick.

Shrugs, Not Hugs?

25. Not realizing that toddlers who hug are taboo. Eloise isn’t too keen on adults who aren’t in her immediate familial circle, but she’s pretty friendly with other kids, albeit in a sort of, Oh—I see you have an arm, too. May I stroke it? kind of way. This happens at the local park, typically, as she doesn’t get much kid interaction otherwise, apart from the kids next door who are used to her tender ways.

It was only about a month ago, just after she turned one, that I noticed she was actually becoming interested in interacting with other children. But at the park we frequent (somewhat sporadically, actually), there tends to be a lot of tykes twice her age who have already gone through this curiosity stage that involves going up to a child she’s never seen before and either trying to hold his/her hand in the same way she grabs her elder sisters’ hands, or immediately moving in for a hug. Of course, these older kids react as though Eloise is alien. I suppose it would be worse if they reacted as if she were a terrifying clown and ran at light speed in the other direction; but actually, it feels equally disheartening as a mother to watch their little expressions say, “What the hay is wrong with you, baby? Hasn’t anyone taught you about personal space yet? My parent(s) taught me about my personal bubble.”

That’s what I’m supposed to be teaching Eloise, apparently—about her personal space bubble that might burst if someone encroaches upon it. (It seems like I should get her used to the sad fact about one’s bubble being burst, no?) I know this little gem because I looked it up on the big, scary Web after our last park visit, during which she hugged a couple children—more her own age that time—but without abandon nonetheless. I apologized to the first mother for Eloise trying to hug her little boy, who wasn’t so into the idea. That’s when the mother sweetly explained how she has been discussing “personal space issues” with her children for long time now. Oh. The other mother, whose daughter is very close in age to Eloise, didn’t seem to mind as much. She even agreed with me when I cooed over their mutual embrace and said that the world would be better if there were more hugging going on. But when the cuddle exceeded the appropriate length, the mother said, “Oooh, that’s a long hug,” and that’s when I knew I needed to do some research into what parents are thinking about baby PDAs these days.

Guess what? Well, you probably already know—but no one’s into hugging! Even among the 15-month-old set, it isn’t cute; it’s cause for alarm. If you let your kids hug freely, says the Mommaratti, they will hug any old stranger, pedophiles, pit bulls—maybe even terrorists! But really, there’s a widespread concern about it that I was completely unaware of. And before you think I’m just completely out of it or don’t get it, no, I’m not totally comfortable that Eloise is fearless when it comes to embracing children she doesn’t know. It’s sort of embarrassing, and I don’t particularly want her to touch germy kids we’ve never met. But did I think it was a Problem I needed to quickly nip in the bud? Not so much. However, after reading bulletin boards on which daycare providers confessed their annoyance with kissy, huggy toddlers, I came to realize that we are not a lovey dovey society. We don’t, as adults, kiss each other on both cheeks in this country. Perhaps Eloise fancies herself a bit European.

I even discussed this with my neighbor, whose advice with regard to kids I totally respect, and she relayed a story about how her daughter had to endure the love of “a hugger” in preschool. Poor Eloise. If I don’t do something about it, she’ll be called The Hugger at the park, and the kids will keep their distance from her, and the parents will whisper into their kids’ ears that the kids shouldn’t play with her. “We don’t like to have our bubbles burst, do we?” they’ll say. This sort of thing used to be reserved for kids who picked their noses in front of everyone and threatened to fling boogers about. (I knew that kid in elementary school, by the way.)

Does anyone have thoughts on this? I refuse to make up a story about bubbles and keeping our bubbles in tact and all that jazz. C’mon, I know kids enjoy a good analogy, but a nice, “Let’s wait until we know someone better” accompanied by a gentle nudge away should do the trick, I think. And perhaps I should scale back our pre-bedtime hug fests, during which I have Eloise hug every last toy before she departs for slumber.

Jiminy Cricket, I’m all for keeping our kids safe, and for teaching them to respect other human beings’ personal space, but I worry that in doing that, we’re teaching them to be suspicious of everyone, including kindhearted toddlers who are the only people who actually have sincere, innocent emotions. Europe, maybe.

Topic Not Appropriate for Reading Over Breakfast

24. Not waiting it (and by “it,” I mean it) out. This morning, it went like this: I, quite literally, wrestled Eloise to take care of the top of the morning diaper change. What a waste of energy and said child’s lung capacity, as the diaper was barely wet from the 3am change. Still, due diligence and all that.

Not even ten minutes later, as I’m unloading at least five plates and bowls that contain our respective breakfasts*, I smell the smell, and ask the rather unladylike mommy question, “Do you have poop in your diaper?” Yes, she did; so wrestle once again we did; and on through another big box of diapers we go.

It made me think of working as a cashier in a retail setting, and how customers always managed to surprise me with, “I have twenty-seven cents!” a half a second after I processed the transaction. If you have any shred of a brain when it comes to numbers, an extra quarter and some wouldn’t phase you when counting back change; but I happen to only have a sliver of a brain when it comes to basic math in harried settings. Naturally, sweat beads and indecipherable Post-it scribbling ensued.

Anyway, my point is that I should know by now that it’s almost always better to wait it out in these types of situations. I’m not being paranoid. Everyone is testing me—I just know it. And everyone knows you shouldn’t rush through a test.

* I certainly try to be a minimalist, but I’m just not there yet.

UPDATE, TEN MINUTES LATER: She did it AGAIN!

Babies on Ice

23. Believing that non-skid pajama feet are truly non-skid. Most aren’t, I’ve found. Actually, most aren’t Eloise has found—as she’s skated across the hardwood floor at worryingly high speeds more times than I can count since she’s started walking. (Yes, she started walking during the MIM hiatus! Much joy: lots of stumbling and near-emergency moments, but hey—the little Boo-Boo Bunny things get a lot of play now.)

Have you ever skimmed your digits across the feet of most mass-market footed pajamas (Gerber and Carter’s, I’m talking to you)? They’re not rubbery; they feel like some sort of cheap (obviously), surprisingly very slippery plastic. Just because you have your iconic logo embossed all over the feet of your footed jammies, babywear makers, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re non-skid. The embossed surface does have to prevent falls, slips . . . an impromptu baby ice skating session in the living room.

It reminds me of this planner I saw at Target once. Its ad copy touted that the product had “handy pockets” simply because its slip cover happened to create a gap between the actual book and the cover. I may have been more impressed were the copy to have read: “Eco-friendly Organic Pocketry.” Anyway, Gerber, Carter’s, and the like, let’s invest a cent more per item and make it right, what don’t ya?

On a similar note, non-skid socks are far, far more reliable—except when your child always manages to turn the non-skid bits to the top of her foot. The trick is to put the non-skid socks over the foot pajamas. Then you’ve corrected the manufacturers’ collective oversight and you’ve duped your kid by making it virtually impossible to twist her little foot covers around all that bulk.

I’ve never felt so resourceful! That said, if you and a hundred of your mom-friends are already doing this, I prefer not to hear about it.

Woe’s me

Losing steam. Finding myself at Target every day. Mysterious bruises taking over my arms and legs (they call it the trenches, but bejesus!). Just made it through the child’s first cold and must make it through much, much more while tackling huge life project that will go unnamed (but let’s just say it’s time-consuming, sometimes tedious, and has been hanging over me [due to my own avoidance of said project] for years now). This here “fun” project has fallen by the wayside. Ditch it or tread on? Watch Glee? Drink some $30 wine?

I do belive I’ve found a winner.