For the Record: I Agree

I was curious about the whole DCL concern about Monkey and P kissing, too. A few of you commented here and on plurk that there was nothing wrong with it — it’s cute. And I agree, it is cute when kids hug and kiss. Kids are affectionate, and they model adult behavior. Monkey knows Mommy and Daddy love each other; Mommy and Daddy kiss each other on the lips; Monkey loves P; she and P can kiss on the lips. Elementary!

Although there is nothing inherently sexual in kids under, say, ten kissing — even on the lips — or holding hands, we live in a weird society. And while I wouldn’t condone going this far, I think daycares and schools are within their rights setting rules for appropriate touching. After all, if the child being pinched doesn’t want to be pinched and asks the pincher to stop, and the pincher doesn’t, then it is harassment. Albeit not sexual harassment.

While I feel that telling Monkey that she is not old enough to kiss boys (or anyone outside of our family) on the lips is a good strategy in this case, I think there are other appropriate boundaries to set. For example, I would tell Monkey to ask permission before holding someone’s hand. That would be respectful. I would hope that the little boy in question with Monkey at least said, “Hey, I really like you. Want to kiss?” In that case, I can’t see Monkey saying, “Heck no!” Especially if the boy was cute. (Monkey, she likes the boys.) I would hope that if someone forcefully kissed Monkey or grabbed her hand, she would have the confidence to pull away, or say, “no” or “stop”.

But I’m not going to use terms like sexual harassment or inappropriate touching or even “mouth kissing” with Monkey. She’s four, as she points out several times a day. Not eleven.

I don’t want to go giving her ideas.

Weekend Letters

Dear Monkey:

If you think I was enjoying myself scrubbing the bathroom instead of playing with you outside on an improbably gorgeous autumn day in October in Pittsburgh, please reconsider.

It’s just that your dad tore up part of the disgusting rug in that bathroom (advice: never, ever, move into a house or apartment with a rug in the bathroom), but only part of it. And I decided to hire a babysitter so I could finish the job.

I’m grateful that you wanted to help me. But between the chemicals I was using to thoroughly disinfect the space and the clear detridus of I don’t know how many years accumulated under and on the edge of said rug, that room was not safe for you. It wasn’t really that safe for me, but my system is stronger.

Plus, “help” in the toddler lexicon is different from “help” in an adult lexicon. For example, on Saturday, you “helped” me clean the dishes by stirring a potful of water (“I’m making an apple cake!”) on one side of our divided sink while on the other I rinsed dishes and loaded them in the dishwasher. You often help me in the kitchen by doing arts and crafts while I put dishes away or cook. I can’t imagine how you were going to help me in the bathroom. Possibly by brushing your teeth and drinking a lot of dixie-cupfuls of water.

So for you to have come in after your walk with the babysitter, come see me covered in crap, and, when I told you to please go back downstairs, say, “You’re breaking my heart” was equal parts exasperating and amusing. I hope you will excuse my reaction.

First of all, where are you learning these things, these emotional words for heartbreak and love? Do Daddy and I say them to you? Are you picking them up from the four-year-olds at day school? Are you sneaking Hannah Montana at Bella’s house?

Secondly, given a choice, I would have left the bathroom exactly as it was for a couple more weeks, and gone outside, into the sunshine and air with you. But Nonna and Pap-pap are coming to visit, and my lack of effective housekeeping shames me. I had to do something.

Believe me, I want to spend my time on weekends with you and your sister. You are amazing and adorable and sweet and exasperating, and I love you so much it creates an ache sometimes from my throat to my stomach. But part of me loving you is going to work, and cleaning our dirty house, and taking you to the grocery store with me.

Please, don’t break my heart by telling me I’m breaking yours when I can’t come play with you. Time is precious and fleeting. But sometimes, I gotta clean the bathroom. Okay?

Love,
Your Momma

Dear Babysitter,

I understand that you are 14 years old. And texting to a 14 year old is like breathing. But your job, the job for which I am paying you, is to entertain and play with my child. Oh, and also to keep her out of my hair.

I am unsure of how to approach this with you. My kids like you a lot; my husband and I like that you literally live across the street so we can watch you go home at the end of your shift. If I tell you to leave your phone at home, it is likely that you will decline to work for us any longer. I hesitate to tell your parents to ask you to keep the phone at home — you could be texting with your mother for all I know. I would feel like I was tattling on you.

But, honey, it is not acceptable to me that you sit texting on the couch, while my broken-hearted three-year-old plays lackadaisically with her toys. It was nice of you to do arts and crafts with her — at my suggestion. And also to take her for a walk — also at my suggestion. But you’re going to have to do a little bit more if you decide to pursue babysitting as a means of earning cash. At this point, I would hesitate to recommend you for another job. Your two weaknesses are your inability to straighten up when you are done with the kids, and this whole non-stop texting thing while letting my kids entertain themselves. You need to be a teensy bit more engaged with them. I am hoping that when I talk to my husband about this, he will guide me to an effective way of communicating with you. (He’s good like that.)

Or maybe I will just buy you one of these, although such a step seems a tad heavy-handed.

In the meantime, I remain, your sole employer,
red pen mama

Random Thoughts: News of the Week

I signed Monkey up for preschool and a new daycare on Tuesday. I am so excited for her! I would spare you the, “I can’t believe my little baby is going to preschool” yadda, yadda, yadda. But you know what? My little baby is going to preschool!

She asks everyday, “Am I going to preschool today?” She can’t wait. I can’t wait! I really think she is going to love it.

And, yes, a new daycare. Right now, just three days a week (well, technically two half days, after preschool, and one full day). She may start there full time depending on what DCL decides to do. More on that in a moment.

And Bun is on the waiting list at the new daycare, too. They have to hire another staff member for the toddler room first.

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DCL: First, I have noticed some changes since DCL, DearDR, and I sat down for our little conversation. DCL is trying to bring more structure to her day, instituting table time, planning activities, and so on.

Second, DCL received an anonymous note in the mail threatening to report her to the state and the IRS. She thinks it came from one of her neighbors (no, it didn’t come from me or DearDR). As a result, she and MK are considering going in together, and getting a license from the state. That would mean should would have to cut the number of kids (regardless of the season — she says she always has more in the summer). It would probably also mean her prices are going to increase, but my expenses are already increasing as Monkey enters school and a new daycare. So what’s the diff?

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I get to go to dinner with some blogging Burgh moms tonight. They will probably manage to write about it before I do because: We are going to Kennywood tomorrow!

It’s my company’s annual employee picnic. It is only costing $20 for the four of us, and they have free pop and a free lunch from 1-4 p.m. How cool is that?

I haven’t been to Kennywood since I was pregnant with Monkey. In case you didn’t know, you can’t ride ANYTHING at Kennywood when you’re pregnant. Not even the Turnpike. Well, actually, you can ride the carousel. I don’t even like the carousel, but I did ride it on that occasion. Just to prove a point. Don’t ask what point.

It will be Monkey and Bun’s first time. I’m curious to see how they do and what they want to do. And what kind of dirt Bun decides to try to eat. I promise — promise — to bring the cameras, both still and video.

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In house news: We have killed three mice. (For the funniest mouse-killing story I have seen online, go here. If we could buy a cat, we would. But I am allergic. Maybe when the girls are old enough to clean out the litter box, I’ll reconsider and take a daily Claritin for sniffles, but for now, no cats.) Of course, I mopped my kitchen floor and put things back together last night (I still have to disinfect the drawer under the stove), and then saw the body in a cupboard this morning. Gross!

Left a note for DearDR. For goodness sake, I’m a vegetarian. I’d let the critters share the house with us if they weren’t disease carriers. And if they would agree to not poop in my silverware drawer.

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The bathroom floor is a disaster. DearDR pulled up a corner of the rug, dried out the floor, and then ripped out half of the rug. The former owners GLUED the rug on top on linoleum. So now I have a big, sticky mess in there.

I have three levels of frustration about this project:

1. I had wanted that rug removed when we first moved in, a little over three years ago now. I consider rugs in bathrooms the height of disgusting-ness (is that a word?). Unfortunately, it wasn’t high on DearDR’s list. I’m still not sure it’s on his list.

2. I went though the trouble and stress to take the girls to Erie by myself (driving on the interstate with two toddlers in the back is a recipe for an accident, and I have to stop doing it). When I first noticed the spreading dampness on the rug, I told DearDR something had to be done. He said, and I quote, “Take the girls to Erie, and you will have a new bathroom floor when you get home.” I have a different bathroom floor than the one I left last Friday, but it’s certainly not new.

3. So now when is he going to do it? We are completely tied up the next two weekends. Unless he commits to doing it on a Sunday, and gets help, I don’t know when it is going to happen. And I’m not taking the girls to Erie by myself again so that it can happen. So sorry, Charlie.

I am getting an estimate from my sister-in-law’s brother, who is a contractor. But unless he gives us a break on the price, I sincerely doubt we’ll be able to afford it. One plus: We got free ceramic tiles from my parents. So at least we don’t have to pay for that. Just time & labor. Great.

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If you are not already checking out this site, you have to go. Go now. This chickie (and I sincerely use that term with the highest respect) makes me laugh out loud. She pretty much takes stuff from the Post-Gazette and sums it up in her own inimitable and very, very funny style. I’m glad she’s saying it, because somebody should. Thanks, PittGirl.

Mr. Sandman, Send Me A Dream of My Own Bed

For two months, Monkey went to bed contently in her own bed. Not a peep at bedtime.

I was so proud of her, I bought her a kiddie pool. Then, last week, when she clearly and strongly expressed her desire to sleep in my bed, I told her about the pool — tactical error; we hadn’t put it up yet. The information that we owned it was sufficient enough to get her back into her own bed — for one night.

The next night, the battle was renewed. Just as I was readying the “pool” bribe, Monkey, face down on my bed, held up a hand. “Mommy,” she said solemnly, “you can take the pool back to the store.”

Heavens defend us — she’s already anticipating arguments. We’re doomed (again). I was speechless. If the pool didn’t get her in her own bed, I had no idea — short of physical force — what would.

And now, in addition to the fight to sleep in my bed, Monkey has become the queen of the bedtime stall. This has been building for awhile, but it has truly reached new heights. She throws off her covers, and insists I put them back over her. She adopts a new animal every night, and makes me search for it until it can be safely tucked in with her. She dithers over the choice of a book. She goes potty twice before going to bed.

It’s maddening. I have stomped, I have bribed, I have coerced, I have threatened. I have put her to bed with the gate up, and come upstairs to find her bedclothes and stuffed animals against that gate and her in my bed. She’s a 3-year-old escape artist! If I close the door, she yells and cries — and she can open the door anyway.

Last night, I simply gave up. I read her book and sang her lullabies in my bed. When I went to bed later, she was sleeping, so I moved her, and she slept the rest of the night in her own bed.

I guess that’s the best I can hope for right now. I cannot think of a bribe that will entice her. DearDR suggests that we keep the pool but not let her swim in it, but I don’t want to fight that battle.

She’s won. Until I think of something else.

Suggestions welcome!