Muffin Meltdown

The muffin was in a vulnerable position, in a crumbly mess on the edge of the counter.

Little Legs had just reduced the tasty baked good to bits and pieces and pushed it aside to try and access the Cheerio’s in my bowl. To be more specific, it was Honey-Nut Cheerio’s: a cereal of delicious compromise between the normal Cheerio flavor of cardboard and a straight spoonful of refined sugar.  

“No, Little Legs,” I said firmly.

“Yes, Mama,” he replied his sticky hand extended towards me.

His confident tone indicated that it was only a matter of time before my cereal became his cereal and I was left with nothing. I suppose there was the muffin crumb pile that I could eat for nourishment.

Obviously, this was the time to strike for any mangy mutt that happened to be passing through Crumb Ally. Coco, our insatiable puppy-dog, took to her hindlegs to briefly rest against the counter with her front paws long enough to take the entire muffin heap into her mouth and gulp it down into her bottomless pit.

Little Legs turned back as a black flash retreated to the ground and into the next room, happily licking her lips. He screwed his face up in disbelief as tears welled in his eyes.

“My muffin,” he wailed.

It was suddenly the only thing he wanted in the entire world, and it was impossibly gone.

“Get new one, get new one,” he chanted.

This was also what he said when our fish died.  

“Sometimes, we can’t replace things that are gone,” I gently explained.

“Get new one, get new one,” he continued.

Of course, this teachable moment would have been more impactful if there were not another three muffins across the counter, ready and waiting for consumption. Still, I held the line and refused with a NO in all caps which led to another meltdown.

And I wondered if I should just give the mouse his muffin.

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.: Teaching Cause and Effect | Scholastic | Parents

Mom Guilt

Thursday morning, Little Legs was up all night, tossing and turning. He has already cried eight times, hit the dog and declared that he hates daycare, his brother and drinking milk. However, he is willing to eat a popsicle and drink juice for “eat-time.”

God help you if you make the mistake of referring to this early morning meal as breakfast. He hates breakfast. Add all the possible emphasis on the word hate.  

“It’s going to be a long day, good luck,” Daddy Longlegs whispers to me and slips away to his little office nook.

I need more than luck. We still need to track down pants that Little Legs won’t throw across the room, brush everyone’s teeth, including Baby Brother’s pearly set of four, and get out the door in the next fifteen minutes.

Luckily, I have a job where I can flex my start and end time. Otherwise, the next thirty minutes would be stressful. Very stressful.

Somehow, we make it to The Zone, which Little Legs hates, clearly.

I get both boys unloaded and shuffled into the building. Baby Brother screams and reaches for me as I hand him off to the worker of Toddler Room 1. Big, fat tears roll down his cheeks.

He cries, “Mama, Mama, Mama,” effectively breaking my heart into two, bloody raw pieces, right then and there.

Little Legs also screams and tries to escape down the hallway when I try to hand him off to Toddler Room 4. I grab him in a ninja-fast maneuver and redirect him into the room with a squeeze and a hug. The worker pulls him in and I slink out, only to peek into the window to see him sobbing on the shoulder of a strange woman.  

Finally, I leave, stricken with a crippling sense of shame and guilt at leaving my boys in the hands of strangers to go to a job where I am late and distracted and wondering if the struggle is worth it. Do the ends justify the means?

I remind myself of the boost in Little Legs’ vocabulary since being around other kids and how Baby Brother can self-play or cozy up for a game of roll-ball without missing a beat. They both have a new confidence in social settings and after experiencing every early childhood illness, I assume their immune systems are close to iron-clad by now.

Surely, the benefits are there. There is a silver lining. And I’m not a terrible mother.

I just need a little reminding to remember.

Sticks and Stones

Jagged, ragged sobs come from the next room.

Little Legs is on the floor, sleep-crying, after the last thirty minutes of yelling, screaming, begging and pleading for release from naptime.

“You don’t have to sleep, but you have to rest in your room,” Daddy Longlegs explained minutes earlier, gently leading him back to his room for the fourth time.

“Hate naps. Hate sleep. Hate Dada,” Little Legs said.

Daddy Longlegs said, “You don’t have to like it, but you have to have quiet time.”

He let the stinging blow of his son’s words glance off his cheek.

If only Little Legs understood the power of words, he would know the pain and joy they can give.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never (not) hurt me.

I hear a rustling from his room, a moan and another cry. The moan is from me, there will be no napping today, for anyone except Baby Brother. Little Legs is back up and well-rested enough to change tactics.

“Need Mama,” he says.

I jump up and my heart swells, ready to rescue him from his room, until it hits me.

Not only does he understand the power of words, he is using it to crush his parents, each one in a unique and specially tailored way.

Toddler 1: Parents 0