Monthly Archives: August 2011

Screaming Wars


I did it.  Sunk to the level of a two-year-old.  Hard to imagine, isn’t it?  And all because I was trying to get out of the house.  I’d planned to have Robbie at daycare by 8:30 and head up to school (on my last day of summer, nonetheless).  I could work for a few hours and then head to the beach for the rest of the afternoon.  But, since I woke up at 8:09, that wasn’t going to happen.  In fact, I didn’t drop Robbie off until 9:45.  Mostly because he made it impossible to get out of the house.

Robbie threw his breakfast on the floor.  He wanted to be downstairs when I needed to be upstairs.  He threw my clothes across the room and my pillows on the floor.  He jumped on the bed.  He needed to use my deodorant on his belly.  And he screamed.  A lot.

So, eventually, I did what any rational mother who had been alone with her child for nearly five days would do.  I yelled back.  We went back and forth for a few minutes, both of us getting louder and louder.  And then, just like that, I won.

Robbie’s face wrinkled up and the first tears fell from his eyes.  We just stared at each other.  Him standing.  Me crouched down to make sure he really heard what I was yelling.  And then my heart sank as Robbie started to sob.  I opened my arms and he came running, wrapping his arms around my neck and holding on for dear life.  Just like that, it was over.

I hate those moments.  I’m the one who’s made Robbie cry, but I’m also the only one who can comfort him.  That makes me feel even worse.  Like I should know better.  After all, I’m the adult.  The one who knows that screaming matches never (well, rarely) solve anything.  But this morning, I didn’t.  I’m just glad that Robbie doesn’t know enough – yet – to hate me longer than 15 seconds when I have my moments of terrible parenting.


Hurricane Robert


Massachusetts was expecting Hurricane Irene to wreak havoc today.  Instead, Hurricane Robert made landfall on Bartlett Avenue around 9:00 this morning.  He was a borderline category 2/3 hurricane.

No one should be forced to endure 24 hours of solitary confinement with a two-year-old.  It’s a cruel and unusual punishment, particularly when you are trapped in the house.  Around 11:00, we made a brief escape when the rain slacked off.  We dashed across the street for chili ingredients and then ran to CVS hoping to find a flashlight.  Incidentally, there were no flashlights left to be purchased in the 02476 zip code.  And, when we came out of CVS, the rain was coming down horizontally.  So, there we were, Robbie in his yellow raincoat andy is responsible mother hurrying down the street.  I was prepared to duck and roll to avoid the construction equipment down the street, which I was convinced would break loose at any moment.

It didn’t.  We returned home soaked and without any further excitement.  And that was about it for Irene.  Sure, there was a lot of rain.  And there are leaves and little sticks on the ground.  And I probably don’t have to water the plants for another week.  But, other than that, no real excitement.  We lost power for less than two seconds.  And, yes, I’m a little disappointed.  I don’t want catacalysmic damage or anything, but a few intense moments where I’m not sure if the trees are going to last?  I could have stood a few of those.  Particularly if I had to be stuck inside with Robbie.

It’s probably best if I just show you the picture of how the day ended.  But, I should fill you in on a few highlights.  Two sisters from down the street came to play with Robbie around 2:30, just as he was waking up from his nap.  This provided several hours of relief, particularly when their mom came down a few hours later and we all had dinner.  But this is how it all ended:

Yeah.  That’s my too-expensive-to-ever-actually-justify Yves Saint-Laurent lipstick.  He dug his little fingers into the tube and smeared the color all over his face.  I wish I’d been able to get a better picture, but he wouldn’t hold still.  And that’s pretty much how the rest of the night went.  Lipstick on his face.  Chili on the computer.  Nectarine skin dotting the floor all over the house.  Toys strewn in far-reaching places under furniture.  Water poured on the bathroom floor.

But now he’s in bed, and the house has mostly recovered from Hurricane Robert.  At least until he wakes up tomorrow morning.

Swimming. And The F-Word.


Hoping to not get caught in a downpour, Justin, Robbie, Barkley, and I took a walk up to the park.  Robbie, of course, donning his bright yellow rain coat.  On the way there, Justin carried Robbie on his shoulders.  Mostly because we were fighting a losing battle in getting Robbie to do any walking – particularly in the right direction.  And then we heard it.  The f-word.  From our little cherub’s mouth.  Not to anyone in particular.

Justin looked up quickly, and said, “Robbie, did you just say f___?”  Robbie giggle and yelled, “F___!”  Several times.  I suppose we’re going to have to start monitoring his HBO…  After all, I’m sure he never heard a word like that from either Justin or me.  And I would hope that Zhining would at least curse in Chinese.  Hmm…

Our good parenting continued when we arrived at the park.  Barkley took a quick dip in the pond and Robbie came down for closer inspection.  And didn’t stop walking when he got to the water.  Didn’t stop when he got past his shoes.  Or the bottom of his shorts.  Or his diaper.  Or the bottom of his shirt.  No.  My kid walked into the water all the way up to his waist.  Fully clothed.  Thank God he had his rain coat on.  That really helped.

Robbie ran all around the pond, through the woods, evading Justin and me.  And then back into the water, just far enough to be out of reach.  He fell a few times, so, when I finally fished him out of the pond, he was soaked.  Head to Buzz Lightyear-shod toe.  But he wasn’t ready to go.  Oh, no.  Not my kid.  He wanted to stay and go down the slide and go back in the water and do anything but walk toward our house.

When Justin and I insisted it was time to go, Robbie threw himself on the sand-covered ground and launched into a full-bodied temper tantrum.  Covering himself in sand.  And we were half a mile from home.  With a kid who didn’t want to go home.  So, yes.  I carried a soaking wet toddler home.  And walked in the door soaked and covered in sand.  Winning.

Dwindling Days


Summer days are slipping through our fingers, and I can’t do anything to hold them.  Much like the sand that flies out of Robbie’s hands at the beach.  This week has been especially hard in that regard because I started back at school for three half days of professional development.  And the reservoir where we swim closed today.

That’s right, the Res closed today.  At 4:00.  Actually, the water closed at 3:45 and then we were urged to hurry, hurry, hurry since the gates closed at 4:00.  Justin, Robbie, and I got there around 2:00, just enough time to get some sun and splash in the water.  And just short of too much time for throwing sand and rocks.  And hitting Justin in the head with a shovel.

Granted, it was a plastic shovel.  But I would still imagine that it hurt.  Justin took it like a man, though.  That and the dumping of sand over his head.  On his shirt.  Down his pants.  After all, this is the stuff summer memories are made of, and we need to shove all the memories we can into these last few days of summer.

We made sure to be hanging out in the water at 3:45 when the life guard yelled at everyone that the beach was closed (I’m not sure what I expected; maybe something a bit more celebratory – a toast, a flag-raising…).  It just seemed right.  Robbie practiced “umping” in the water (jumping).  He jumped up as high as he could, kicked his legs out in front of him, and landed on his butt.  Over.  And over.  And over.  So we relished it, knowing that by the time the beach opens next summer, he may not feel like umping in the water.

And then that part of our summer was done.  Over.  So we did the only thing you can do as summer starts to wind down.  We went for ice cream.  Robbie dressed in his Elmo shoes, a diaper, and a long-ish t-shirt.  Classy – our theme this summer.



Robbie understands everything that we say.  Even when we don’t want him to.  Actually, especially when we don’t want him to.  So, it’s started.  Spelling.  There are certain words we can’t really say.  Like “o-u-t-s-i-d-e”.  Or “L-e-y-l-i”, the little girl who lives downstairs.  Particularly, “c-a-k-e”.

We didn’t realize that we needed to be spelling regularly until dinner tonight.  Robbie was desperately trying to tell Justin something that Justin couldn’t figure out.  Being Mom, I knew what Robbie was saying and translated.  “Open.  Turn.  Outside.  Leyli.”  For those of you not fluent in two-year-old, Robbie wanted Justin to open the backyard so he could have a turn playing outside with Leyli.

Except Robbie understood what I said and thought I was giving him permission to go outside and play – which I most certainly wasn’t.  It was bath time.  And I had things to do after he went to bed, like write a lesson plan, finish reading Hunger Games, and write a blog.  So, we reverted to spelling with Robbie running around looking very confused and horribly disappointed that he was not going to get a turn.

So, I think we’re safe for now.  At least until Robbie figures out that letters are put together to form words.  And he already knows that E-l-m-o spells Elmo…

Daddy Returns


Robbie spied Justin’s car outside our house and stood vigil for five minutes waiting for Justin to get out of the car.  Then he was rushing (as fast as a toddler can rush) down the stairs to greet Justin at the door.  It melted Justin’s heart to have Robbie so excited to see him.  And it broke mine a little.

You see, there was no screaming at bath time tonight.  In fact, I had decided that I wasn’t even going to broach the topic because I wasn’t in the mood to listen to screaming.  So, I told Justin I’d deal with the dog if he’d put Robbie to bed.  After Barkley went out, I took a book and went upstairs, leaving Justin and Robbie to fend for themselves.

I figured it would be a quick bedtime.  Justin would possibly put Robbie into pajamas.  Maybe read him a story.  Dump him in bed.  But not really.  There was a 20-minute bath time, complete with singing and laughter.  There were two stories.  And Justin read every single word of each book, something I rarely do.  Especially when it’s a stupid book about a lion hoping to get a pair of rubber rain boots and irritating the hell out of his mother on a rainy day.  But Justin read it.  And then he let Robbie change pajamas.

You know what happened next?  Yup.  Robbie went to bed.  No kicking or screaming.  He just went to bed.  Read a few books.  Asked for a piece of cake.  Settled for some cereal and water.  And there were no  tears.  Well, except for when he slammed his finger in a dresser drawer while trying to get his beloved Elmo shirt (see pajama change, above).  But I won’t fault Justin for that…

Night Terrors…


I love my son.  But I have not liked him much in the past 28 hours.  Except for when I dropped him off at daycare this morning.  He has been a terror.  Don’t believe me?

Last night, there was so much screaming during bath time that Justin could not hear me talking on the phone over Robbie.  And then Robbie went to bed easily.  I thought I’d been successful, and actually had the nerve to praise myself for recovering from bath time without losing my temper – and managing to get Robbie fully cleaned in the process.  A feat difficult to accomplish with a toddler grabbing your waist and trying to climb up your body while covered with suds.

Unfortunately, I made the mistake of going upstairs to get something around 9:00 last night.  Even now, I have no idea why I went upstairs.  But it was definitely my undoing.  Robbie didn’t stop screaming until some time around midnight.  He wanted more cereal.  He wanted new water.  He wanted more books.  He wanted me to fix the book that had a boo-boo (you know, the one he had ripped the cover off).  He wanted a new diaper.  Twice.  Both actually legitimate requests.  He wanted lotion on his bottom.  Not actually necessary.  Nor timed with the diaper change.  He wanted to brush his teeth.  At 11:30.  He wanted Smurfs.  He did not want the Smurf blanket, though.  That sent him into a new round of hysterics.  And then he wanted the Smurf that he dropped over the side of the crib, despite my pleas and warnings not to do so.

At midnight I gave up.  I couldn’t cuddle or console anymore.  I couldn’t tolerate the sound of his screams or “Mama!” for another second.  And, except for his screaming, he was fine.  Clean diaper, adequate toys, freshened snack and water.  So I shut my door, turned the air conditioner on high, and tuned in to The Golden Girls.

I’m not sure that Robbie actually slept.  When I woke up at 5:00 to go to the bathroom, his head popped up from his crib, a Smurf grasped in each hot little hand.  And then the screaming started.  Another diaper.  More water, which was promptly hurled onto the floor.  Desperate for a little more sleep, I brought him into my room, made the dog scoot over, and assured Robbie that all of his televised friends were fast asleep.

And then he collapsed on me and grew heavy with sleep.  Eventually, I rolled him over, and he came right back to me, curling into my side.  Soft sighs of sleep and contentment as he nuzzled in closer.  And then, for the two hours he slept, I did like him.  And I felt guilty for my own crying and screaming that had served to harmonize his cries of (unnecessary) agony.

But not too guilty because he was up and jumping on my back at 7:39.  And screamed his way through bath time again tonight.  But I’m thinking of getting him for a little cuddle time.  After all, I like him best when he’s sleeping.  Unfortunately, there’s always the risk that he’ll actually wake up.  One I’m willing to take tonight.

Hold Your Horses!


My good friend Rebecca and I took our boys out to Davis Farmland for the day today.  It has a little bit of everything: petting zoo, pony rides, splash park, and playgrounds.  We didn’t get to spend as much time there as we would have liked, but Robbie and Pete had a blast while we were there!

The boys were ready to go as soon as they got in their car seats.  Rebecca and I, however, required a little coffee.

As soon as we got there, we got feeding cups for the boys to feed the animals.  This place has an incredible set-up for letting kids see and interact with the animals.  There are “cuddle pens” where kids can go in and actually play with the animals.  We hit up the cow cuddle pen first.

And then the boys rode some horses.  The entire time we waited in line, Robbie kept saying, “Horse.  Ride.  Fun.  Ride horse, Mama.”  He started to panic when I put him on the horse (he even lost his shoe), but he held it together pretty well and rode like a champ.  They didn’t even use anyone to hold him on.  Nona would be so proud!

After that, we made our way to the llamas.  It needed to be brushed, and Pete and Rob were up for the job.

And then the goats, who loved Robbie.

But they didn’t think he was feeding them fast enough.  One goat took matters into his own hands and grabbed the cup.

And then it was off to the splash park.  The boys took off in separate directions, but I managed to grab a few pictures of them together.

Unfortunately, my battery died before we got to the bubble pool…  But let me tell you it was amazing.  Tons of suds, slippery surface, little kids.  Yeah.  I know.  I really wish I had pictures, too.

And at the end of our fun adventure?  I came home to this.

Not bad for a Wednesday.

Chinese Pearls of Wisdom


Yesterday, I drove Zhining to Chinatown for some meetings.  On the way back, she informed me that Justin and I would probably have a boy when we have our second child.  I asked her to please elaborate on this.  Here is, basically, her response:

“QiQi look like boy.  He act like boy.  QiQi is all boy.  You will have boy.  My son look like girl when little.  Act like girl.  Big song like girl (Big song is how Zhining refers to screaming; it just sounds nicer, doesn’t it?).  So, I have Lily.  YanYan look like girl.  Little like girl.  Act like girl.  YanYan’s parents will have girl.  MeiMei look like boy.  Act like boy.  Her parent’s will have boy.”

I looked at Zhining incredulously, trying to navigate the car through the rain while taking this all in.  Hoping that I was going to be able to keep a straight face for the conversation.  Just for clarification, I asked, “So, you are telling me that “the boy” is strong within us?  And we will only create boys?”

Zhining looked at me very seriously and said, “Yes.  Absolutely.  You will have boy.”

And then, as she settled back in her seat, “But, you understand.  This not 100%.  Cannot guarantee.”  Of course not…

My Little Runaway


I figured I had another two or three years before it happened.  Thought Robbie would at least be able to turn a doorknob to let himself out the front door before he tried to run away.  But, no.

Robbie got in trouble for jumping on the furniture just before bedtime.  So, after dealing with that issue, I went to the bathroom to start the bath water.  When I came back into the living room, I found Robbie halfway down the stairs to our entryway.  He looked up at me, said, “Oh, no!”, and started running down the stairs.  He slipped, and I took off after him.

When I got to Robbie, I picked him up and gave him a little piece of my mind regarding playing on the stairs.  And do you know what Robbie did?  He squirmed away from me, yelling, “Bye-bye, Mama!”  That’s when it hit me.  He was running away.

I gathered myself and told Robbie that I’d be right with him.  I dashed upstairs, turned off the bath, and made my way to the entry.  Robbie looked at me and flew to the door, which he, ironically, couldn’t open.  He turned and looked at me, eager to get away and frustrated that he needed me to help him escape.

I opened the door and he ran to the glass door, opened it, and stepped out into the rain.  Which is precisely when he realized he wasn’t wearing any shoes.  My little cherub looked up at me and said, “Buzz shoes.  Please.”  This is where the tough love came in.  I looked down at Robbie, protected from the downpour, and said, “I’m sorry.  You don’t want to live here anymore, so you don’t have any shoes.  You’re going to have to get a job and buy some shoes.”

I expected him to come crawling back, begging me to let him come back inside.  But he didn’t.  He shut the door in my face with another “bye-bye.”  He then proceeded to pace across the front porch in a downpour for five minutes, refusing to come in.  I’m sure that if he’d had shoes on (or the weather had been better), he would have actually left the porch.

As it was, I had to drag Robbie back into the house kicking and screaming.  And soaked up to his knees.  I’m hoping that tomorrow I’ll be a better mom.  At least good enough to make him not want to leave the house in the middle of a storm.  After all, when you’ve hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.  Right?