“Eat Pray Love” has a line that goes something like, “Having a baby is like getting a tattoo on your face.” I think it’s more like getting a cattle brand on your forehead…and your adorable little babe is the one holding the hot poker, sizzling on your person.
Probably smells like bacon. Or fried pork rinds.
Our 3 year old, Bex, does not have the most advanced vocabulary of anyone on the planet, but he is light years ahead in maturity of “The Jersey Shore” cast.
And don’t even get me started on “The Real Housewives.” Still, his vocab primarily consists of commands he is giving to either me or my husband, who Bex has dubbed “Mommy-Yah” and “Daddy-Yo.”
Some of his most popular catch phrases include:
“Reach! Reach HIGH!” (Shouted while standing at the kitchen pantry door, pointing on his tippy-toes towards Oreo cookies and dark chocolate covered soybeans and blueberries (He calls them his “chocolate beans”).
“Dinosaurs! I LOVE dinosaurs!” (Which means he wants me to stand at his every command by the computer, clicking on each one minute dinosaur video he points to.)
“FAH-THE-WAY!” (Meaning I should scroll down farther away on the YouTube page, so he can choose his next video for me to click, like a trained monkey.)
“YOU can do it!” (Tony Robbins-style motivational speaking, whenever he is trying to convince us to obey his commands.)
“Well DONE!” (When Nick or I successfully complete a command.)
Yep, he’s got these two big puppets pretty well trained!
But lately, he came up with this one: “Hello, LAZY GIRLS!” Said to both my husband and me.
Hmmmm. Say what?
One night at dinner recently, we were mystified when Bex kept saying it to us over and over, “Hello lazy girls, Hello lazy girls!” and it actually started to hurt my feelings. A teeny-tiny bit.
I mean, at first I just thought, well, I am pretty lazy by nature—my obsessive compulsive side gets projects done—but I do like to stay in my PJs all morning, from time to time.
“If the shoe fits” and everything, I just figured that maybe at age 3, he already has my number.
Then it began to mildly offend me that he wouldn’t stop saying it—I know, he’s my precious child, but parents are human, after all. We have feelings, even when it’s an insult from an adorable munchkin.
Then two days ago, I played Bex one of his educational YouTube videos, where a cloying voiced woman named “Miss Shelby” began a story with colorful felt dinosaurs. Miss Shelby greeted the kids with “Hel-LO boys and girls!”
And just then, it dawned on me that Bex had been imitating his beloved Miss Shelby, trying to say “Hello boys and girls” and it just came out “Hello lazy girls.”
That was quite a relief. It’s so nice to find out that you weren’t getting repeatedly insulted by your Boss.
Parenthood has no pay but it does have spectacular benefits. One of those benefits is that you get to kiss your child willy-nilly whenever you want, on their face, lips, head, ear, neck, toes, knees…and they’re usually giggling while you do it. It is so delicious and it’s calorie free.
Do you remember how your Mother’s skin had the best smell in the world when you were little? It was the smell of safety, the smell of home. I try to remind myself that I probably smell like that to Bex, the way my Mom smelled to me. I sure do hope I can live up to it.
I’m no expert, but I generally use the kissing/hugging technique as my go-to move to cure toddler tantrums, too, and it usually works. Not so much, though, when my child flings his little body, screaming and failing on the floor at Costco.
At Costco, Bex wants to run wild and free like a baby mustang, but he doesn’t realize that the old lady with the giant cart and the purple hair wants to get her discount shrimp cocktail home ASAP, and she will mow him down without qualm one.
This woman long ago stopped thinking little kids were adorable, and she has a bridge game at noon. If Bexon has to be run over by her cart so that she can win the booty, well, it’s a harsh world.
So I try to pick up my flailing child mid tantrum, and Bex then kicks and screams “MOMMYYYY!!!!” Now everyone who works and shops in Costco is staring at us and wondering if he’s calling for his real Mommy—
Because this evil blonde woman is clearly trying to snatch him and take him back to her gingerbread house in the forest, with a villain’s cackle. This woman probably has a baking dish that will just fit his cute little butt, to put into her oven that Hansel and Gretel escaped so narrowly.
Sometimes as a mother you really feel like the bad guy in the story, especially when your child’s monkey t-shirt rides up in the middle of the public tantrum, revealing he’s wearing a very bright green body/torso cast (see Bexon’s Story).
Now, they think, the evil blonde woman is trying to steal a sick child, or even worse, the boy is her own child and she somehow seriously injured or dropped him from a rooftop (!)
None of this can be explained, so the mother just carries her flailing child to the car. There are no tears in baseball or parenting—well, I try not to cry them in public parking lots, anyway.
I recently read this quote from Rocky himself, Sylvester Stallone, in GQ Magazine: “There’s no closure for things that happen in your childhood. You’re wet clay, and that’s a dent that’s been put in the clay. You can’t buff or sand it out; it’ll always have that fissure. So you’ve got to be careful what you say to a kid; it buries itself in the heart like a hatchet.”
I never thought I’d be taking parenting advice from Sly, but that sounds true. Jeez, that is a lot of responsibility.
So when my little boy commands me to “RUN RUN!” I happily comply and begin chasing him around our sunlit yard in big circles around the picnic table, the sunlight on our faces, the wind in our hair, the grass cool under our bare feet.
I want the dents in his clay to be filled with memories of kisses and hugs and the childhood dance that every kid deserves—the sheer, pure luxury of time with the person he hates sometimes and loves fiercely and whose smell he will never forget.
His own personal brand of Mommy.