Category Archives: Common Missteps

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!

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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.

The Scream

17.  Not knowing how to make bad things stop. Like screaming. Eloise screams with joy, screams with sorrow. She screams when I’m not looking at her and when she wants a bite of my cereal. She screams really, really loud. Please, forces, provide me with the know-how to rectify this situation.* I don’t want a hearing aid before I’m 35.

*I have read here and there that to ignore/not respond to the screaming is the best solution. I’m not sure (not that I know the actual solution). From afar, it seems as though parents who embrace this tactic have the kids who fling rice and beans at you while you’re getting your salsa at the local Mexican joint or who “harmlessly” attempt to maim their mother while you try to converse with her in the bread aisle at the grocery store.

Stuff on My Person

15.  Leaving the house without first checking whether or not you’re filthy. There’s nothing like being out, enjoying a little Me Time. Perhaps you run into an old pal at the market and get to talking for several moments, or you have an unusually pleasant exchange with a sales clerk. Then you make your way to the powder room before your departure back to Mommyville and notice the crusty splotch of old peas on your left earlobe. You look at your watch: 6.30pm. When did my kid have peas? you wonder. Oh yeah—at noon. And you’ve been, like, ten places and have talked to a dozen people since noon. Awesome! That’s really happened to me. I’ve also braved entry into a very upscale boutique, heartened by the fact that I was wearing nice shoes and was not wearing Forever 21 or Target for once (not that there’s anything wrong with it, believe me). But see, wearing nice shoes doesn’t count when you have a dried up drip of spitup running down the heel. Not fancy. So, please—and I’ll try to remind myself, too—do a very thorough check of yourself before you go out. Hopefully, you’ve been checking for deodorant skids for years, so tack this on to that routine. Do consider the least likely places: strands of hair caught in the line of fire of your food-hurling baby; stuff under fingernails that should not be under fingernails. Did you set your elbows in cereal when feeding your child and not notice? You so don’t want to be that person who doesn’t notice; sadly, it’s neither cute or endearing. Friends, let’s pledge to one another that we’ll combat anything closely resembling maternal homeliness together, one step at a time. This isn’t a girly-girly, anti-feminist thing; it’s a let’s-be-squeaky-clean-and-avoid-laughter-slash-gagging-behind-our-backs issue.

The Electronic Age (Shouldn’t Begin in Infancy)

Before going ahead with the next misstep, I’d like to mention that one way to lessen the embarrassment involved with using newfangled baby products is to conduct some trial runs prior to first usage out in the big, bad world. Especially when the big, bad world is hot and on fire and plagued with hurricanes and whatnot. There’s nothing worse than hoping for the best, and then when you finally find a sliver of a parking spot in between two SUVs after narrowly escaping being flattened by a mini Hummer and sideswiped by a renegade shopping cart (at the same time!), your “easy-to-use” shopping cart cover won’t even unfold from handy carrying case mode or you somehow end up with your arm instead of your child in the sling. And even though you applied plenty of deodorant, you’re praying to the heavens you’re approached by someone touting samples of perfume, body spritzer, Febreze—whatever. Anyhow, trial runs. Remember how it was a good idea to find your classes before your first day of high school? It’s sort of like that. Your deodorant probably failed you then, too.

12. Letting the child touch the mobile phone . . . ever. To each his/her own, but I get so annoyed when I see play mobile phones in the toddler toy aisle. C’mon, it’s bad enough we’ve convinced ourselves that every child, seven and up (and younger, no doubt) requires a phone for safety reasons. I know this is the age of divorce; I know a phone in the hands of a child has probably saved lives, but still. Ew. As if there aren’t five billion more distractions in their little lives than we ever had at their age. And we had plenty. But I digress before even getting started.

I was never pro-putting-a-mobile-phone-in-my-baby’s-hands because I don’t even like my own phone near my head. So I was a little surprised when my pediatrician of all people laughingly discussed how young Eloise was probably squirmy during diaper changes, and how giving her my phone or keys would help. Oh yeah? My lead-laden keys and my brain-altering phone? Hm! That was still permeating my gray matter when Eloise began to get truly out of hand during diaper changes a couple months ago, so I did it—I gave her the phone; and it was if she were given the secret to true happiness. She flipped it over and over. “This side lights up! This side doesn’t. This side lights up! This side doesn’t.” Over and over and over again. Obviously, it assuaged disaster during diaper time, but the removal of the phone from her hand prompted the worst tantrums I’ve witnessed. To this day, if she gets a hold of the phone, the nemesis who tries to take it from her better be prepared for some serious baby cursing.

In lieu of phone fondling, we do allow Eloise to explore the mechanics of the DVD player. Of course, now we can’t watch DVDs when she’s around because she’ll go screw around with the components either throughout the entire movie or in the last 20 minutes. We’re also a tad concerned that she’s communicating with space and will one day soon be retrieved by her people.

Some Baby Products Make You Feel Like You Have the Gross Motor Skills of an Infant

10.  Believing that “easy-to-use” baby products are, in fact, easy to use. No. Be very weary of tag lines such as, “Just turn it inside out, and it becomes a handy carrying case!” Not only is that too long to be a catchy tag line, it just isn’t true. What it really means is, “After struggling to use this fancily designed item for its intended purpose for 10 minutes, and after your child completely loses the plot and breaks down from neglect-induced frustration, just try to turn it inside out, and see how long that takes you. And don’t worry, onlookers are laughing with you, not at you.” This ineptitude when dealing with baby products that supposedly can be mastered with one hand (while carrying Baby in the other, of course) could be a personal problem. If so, I vote for a rating system that discloses actual ease of use. One for people who have a hard time inserting keys in doors; two for folks who haven’t yet mastered a manual can opener; three for people who can properly make up a bed; four for anyone who can successfully pitch a tent; and five for people who can create an Excel spreadsheet, program their Tivo, and construct something from Ikea without instructions.

You and Your Posture

9.  Slouching all the time. If you were a sloucher before, you’re probably three times the sloucher now that you’re having to bend down constantly, feed another human, and are generally consumed by exhaustion for the majority of your waking hours. I should reiterate and say that I am. There I go, pointing fingers again. So let’s not slouch. Let’s pretend we’re Audrey Hepburn; or for you guys out there reading (guys really aren’t reading), think Captain Stubing . . . Jean-Luc Picard . . . Tim Gunn! Sure, they all may have slouched off-camera, but everyone was led to believe that they would never. Let these people help you thwart hunchback. Here’s a photo for inspiration:

Notice how Captain Picard holds his shoulders back.

Notice how Captain Picard holds back his shoulders.