MeToo: “I have a pet tiger.”
The Dad: “A pet tiger? Wow.”
MeToo: “Yeah, and I’m a mommy.”
The Dad: “You have a child? Isn’t it dangerous to have a pet tiger around, then?”
MeToo: “I have a pet tiger.”
The Dad: “A pet tiger? Wow.”
MeToo: “Yeah, and I’m a mommy.”
The Dad: “You have a child? Isn’t it dangerous to have a pet tiger around, then?”
Located on a charming stretch of Highland Street in between Rhodes Park and Rushton Park, Rojo offers a diverse menu of Latin and American food. We had stopped there for dinner the day we arrived in Birmingham. As it was a lovely day, we elected to sit at one of their many outdoor tables.
I didn’t even glance at the American side of their menu; their taco choices alone were more than enough to present me with difficult decisions. I cannot now recall exactly what I ordered, nor did I take pictures (for reasons which will soon be obvious). I do remember that I enjoyed whatever it was I had settled on, and everyone else seemed to like their food well enough, too (for the most part).
There is just one specific detail about the cuisine I can share: they put jalapeños in the guacamole.
Unfortunately, it was MeToo who discovered this. Their guacamole is rather chunky, and it apparently was a whole, large slice of jalapeño that ended up in her mouth. When she bit into it and started to panic, we assumed she had bitten her tongue or the inside of her cheek. In the moment or two it took us to realize the situation, MeToo had swallowed it whole in her distress.
The following five to ten minute period was a frenzy of intermittent vomiting. We’d think she was done, so we’d wipe off our hands and try to return to our own dinners when she’d suddenly start to retch out another mouthful. The biggest, and final, regurgitation happened just when the Wife had run to get more napkins. I ended up catching most of that in my hands as it overflowed the wadded, damp piece of paper towel I held under poor MeToo’s chin. (Gross, but still not the worst thing I’ve had to deal with in the past few weeks.)
After that storm passed, the Wife unexpectedly received an important business call. She went elsewhere to take it, and while she was away, MeToo announced in a weak but urgent voice that she had to go potty. Well, I’m not going to leave my five-year-old daughter and one-year-old son alone, unsupervised, and outside. In these situations, I’ve just got to gather the kids up and take them all to the bathroom with me. (Rojo has at least two unisex bathrooms and I’m happy to report that the one my three kids and I piled into did have a fold-down baby changing station — not that we needed it, but it’s nice to know it’s there.)
Although this phase of the adventure didn’t take long, by the time we returned to our table to finish dinner, some diligent waiter had cleared it. Oh, well. Not all of us were quite finished but we’d all definitely had enough.
Despite the distressing events that derailed our meal, I’d still highly recommend Rojo. It was family-friendly, situated in a lovely spot, and what food I did have was tasty. Just avoid the guacamole if you don’t like it spicy, and if you sit outside you should probably avoid the corner table.
We overheard this exchange between the girls while on a road trip this weekend:
RU: I want the magna-draw-er.
MeToo: I need it for doing work. I’m writing to God.
RU: What are you writing about?
MeToo: I was going to be born but I died and went to Heaven. I was supposed to be the first sister but instead I came second.
RU: You haven’t died. You won’t die until you’re old, old.
MeToo: No, I did. I was a kid, then I died and went to Heaven. Then I became a baby and was borned.
MeToo is two and a half now, which means it’s time for her to give up her most favoritest thing in the world: pacifiers.
Please don’t tell her, but her big sister got to have pacifiers until she was three, and didn’t entirely give them up for six months after that. RU’s teeth, however, were not being adversely affected by them whereas MeToo’s are. She clamps down on those things hard and chews them around in her mouth even while sleeping. And as much as RU liked her passies, MeToo likes to have them in all the time. Ever see someone who smoked so much they would even eat and drink with a cigarette in hand so they could have a puff between bites? Subtract the burning nicotine and that’s MeToo.
When RU had to kick the habit, she was older. She also had a baby sister to contrast herself with. Baby MeToo still had pacifiers but RU was a Big Girl (which officially happens when you turn three and a half, don’t you know) and needed them no longer. Explaining it that way to her was nearly all it took when coupled with making a little deal about it being her half-birthday (we usually give new pajamas to mark the occasion).
MeToo, on the other hand, is less invested in being mature and far more attached to her habit.
We timed MeToo’s de-pacification to coincide with a weekend we spent away from home. We didn’t take any pacifiers on the trip. We didn’t have any of hers around when we came back, aside from a few stragglers that keep turning up. It was close enough to her half-birthday that we could hang the transition on that, but the real trick that made it work was changing her environment for a few days. We’d mentioned to her a few weeks prior that she’d be giving up her cherished pacifiers so that she’d have some advanced warning but we didn’t say anything at all about them during the transition period itself.
It’s worked pretty well. During the trip, she asked about her passies a couple of times and we responded with a simple, “We didn’t bring any” or “You don’t have them now that you’re two and a half.” Since we’ve been back, she’s only brought them up a few times, usually when she’s hurt herself or is very upset over something.
I will admit that I’d been expecting a great deal of wailing and gnashing of teeth over this, and possibly even DTs. I’m still surprised with how easy it was to remove them from her lifestyle, especially as we still have plenty of pacifiers in the house for Z. I mean, this is a girl who got pacifiers for Christmas last year from her grandmother — and I’m pretty sure they were her favorite present.
So, that’s my advice for any of you with children who need to kick the habit: Give them a change of scenery and a new routine for a couple of days.
Now, what am I going to do when I decide she can’t have cold turkey for lunch anymore?
So, the kids were playing on the playground in a park we frequent. I was doing my usual helicoptering, keeping them nearly within arm’s reach. You know, within smothering distance. Mostly, I just want to position myself near any gaps in the upper level’s railing, usually where they put the fire pole. I’m always worried MeToo will decide (again) that she can reach it and slide down without assistance, or lurch towards the side without realizing there’s no rail there. As she and RU were playing nearish to one, I stood beside it (it was between the steps and the nearest slide, anyway, so a good staging ground for where I was most likely to be needed). MeToo was just starting to scale her way down the iron steps when I got a text on my phone.
The message was from my parents, saying they were in town and could meet us for —
I ran around the metal steps to find MeToo lying on the ground. She was on her back but must have rolled over because she had dirt and sticks in her hair and mouth. I picked her up and held her as she started bawling.
Once I’d discerned there was no immediate emergency, my brain began to struggle with the puzzle of how did this happen. She was on the stairs. There are rails. She’d fallen onto the ground a good foot and a half from the steps. Maybe she could have ended up there if she’d climbed the rails and jumped off, but they’re nearly as tall as she is — she’s not nimble enough to get over them that quickly.
RU, helpful as always, tried to piece things together, CSI-style, by standing in the spot where she last saw MeToo, just prior to the accident. Like me, RU didn’t actually see the moment when it happened, but had been closer to MeToo than I had been.
The best explanation I can come up with is that MeToo wasn’t actually walking on the steps but was trying to climb down along the railing. She does this sometimes at home on our staircase. However, that railing projects out from the wall, so is over the steps themselves. This railing was out away from the steps by several inches. If MeToo hadn’t been looking and just placed her feet where she expected stairs to be… Well, the gap didn’t really look big enough for her to pass through, but her slipping between the bars of the railing was probably where the metallic “clank” came from.
By the time I’d figured that out, MeToo’s crying had downshifted a notch and I felt it was time to pick her up and take her to the car. Yes, MeToo agreed, she wanted to sit in the car and have her pacifier.
Actually, she sobbed when we were about halfway there, she’d be okay if she just had the pacifier. She’d be fine to go back to the playground once she had that comfort.
MeToo was still shaken when we reached the car but her crying was coasting to a stop. The pacifier calmed her nerves like a smooth cigarette and she was ready to get back into action — on the smaller of the two play structures, though.
A short time later, we met my parents for lunch a few streets over. When we related the story to them, and to the Wife who had met up with us by then, MeToo announced that she wanted to return to that park after lunch.
“I wan’ go back to the playgroun’ where I hurt myself.”
So we did. MeToo went right back to that spot and showed us, “That’s where I hur’ myself. Now, I go play.”
And she still asks to go back there.
We finally got rid of our cable TV service a month or so ago. Our television is upstairs, so we almost never watch it. The Wife and I may enjoy a show or movie every now and then after the kids are asleep and we have the occasional movie night. And, yes, we’ve had mornings where the girls were up at dawn so the Wife or I turned on the tube and let them watch Daniel Tiger or Curious George while we lay in bed and slowly booted up. For the most part, though, we haven’t noticed a difference in our day-to-day lives.
However… We still have Netflix, but it doesn’t have all the same programs that we had access to with cable, particularly when it comes to children’s shows. On the rare occasions when our girls do get the chance to watch a show, this inevitably causes some problems.
Which brings me to last week, when I told the girls we would get an early bath, put on jammies, and have popcorn and carrots for dinner while we watched a show.
“Yay,” RU cheered, “I wanna watch Spider-Man!”
“I don’ yike Spider-Man,” MeToo objected. “I wan Mickey Mouse Cub House.”
I sighed. Mickey Mouse Club House is one of those favorites that Netflix doesn’t carry. I’ve tried to explain the realities of the situation before but our girls are totally unable to grasp the differences between on-demand shows, Netflix, movies on DVD, and live television. (Seriously, they didn’t even know what a commercial was until a few months ago. It was cute.)
So I looked my two-year-old in the eye and said, as sympathetically as I could manage, “I’m sorry, MeToo. We can’t watch Mickey Mouse Club House because we don’t get it anymore.”
MeToo planted her feet, balled her little hands up into fists, and glared.
“Well,” she said, “you find it!”
And it’s hard to present the image of stern fatherhood when you’re doubled over with laughter.
MeToo: “I wanna go t’ Gramma’s house.”
The Wife: “We’ll go to Grandma’s on Wednesday. Do you know what day it is today?”
MeToo: “Today is Superman. Tomorrow is Supergirl to the rescue. Then it’s Wednesday.”
Thanks to our practice of using Elimination Communication MeToo has been essentially potty trained for, lo, these many months. Sort of. She’s only two years old — and newly two — so there are accidents. In fact, sometimes it seems as though we go through phases where she has lots of accidents, and we’ve had quite a few recently.
It’s normal for there to be some regression in a toddler when there’s a new baby in the household, so that may be some of it. Our chiropractor has put an end to more than one series of pants-wettings, informing us that they can sometimes be caused by MeToo’s frequent spills and tumbles knocking her out of alignment. She still wears a diaper overnight, so if she doses off (in the car, let’s say) then she might go in her sleep. She can also just get out of the habit if you let her. There’s an hourly play-care place that we will probably stop taking the girls to because after MeToo wet herself there several times, they seem to have just started putting her in pull-ups as soon as she gets dropped off.
Even now, it’s important to stay consistent with taking her potty, regardless of any cues from her or lack thereof. MeToo doesn’t make it easy on us because isn’t consistent with giving us warning and she’s taken to saying she needs to go potty when she just wants to get out of her carseat or down from her highchair for a minute. Just to complicate things even further, sometimes she will say she has to potty, then just play around (or immediately say she’s done) even though she really does need to pee. It’s like she’s just setting you up for when she says she has to go again not five minutes later — if you don’t take her she might wet herself but if you do take her and she’s just messing with you, then you’ve reinforced the idea that the “phony pee-pee” gambit works.
Whatever the case, MeToo created a nightmare of urination on our previous vacation, when we drove down to Disney. [Cue flashback.] Unlike some long car trips we’d taken in the past, we decided that we wouldn’t put a diaper on her while she was in her carseat, lest she get lazy and just start going whenever she felt like it. All too soon, however, she had begun to wet herself and her carseat. It seemed as though she couldn’t sense when she needed to pee ahead of time; she would only say “Gotta go potty!” right when it was happening. With a wet MeToo and, worse, a wet carseat the van soon smelled like a rolling latrine.
The urine really hit the van, though, once we’d made it to where we were staying in Florida and MeToo continued to have “accidents.” It was as if she’d forgotten how to go in a toilet. I’d put her on and she’d giggle and wriggle and say she was all done even though nothing had happened, then be wet not ten minutes later. Finally, on a day when the girls were being particularly wild in the room, running around and yelling like crazy, MeToo ran into the shower and peed herself with her pajamas on. Now that was deliberate. And once MeToo had lost her pee, the Wife lost her shit.
The Wife hauled MeToo out of the shower and explained to her — in the way that Gunnery Sergeant Hartman would explain to a slovenly new recruit exactly what’s wrong with every facet of his existence — that only babies go potty in their clothes. Big girls like MeToo potty in the potty. Not on the floor. Not in the carseat. Not in the stroller. If MeToo was going to wet herself like a baby, then she would be treated like a baby. Babies don’t get chocolate milk. Babies wear diapers all the time. Did MeToo want to be a baby? Or was she going to stop having accidents and go in the potty like a big girl? [End flashback.]
It worked. MeToo shaped up.
Until this trip.
She went in her carseat on the airplane. We were able to wash it the next evening at the hotel, but after the second day of our trip we moved to another hotel for the rest of the stay in Tucson that didn’t have laundry facilities. Obviously, MeToo made a mess in her carseat a few more times. We washed her seat cover and yuck clothes while visiting at a friend’s house. The Wife did some washing at two — count ‘em, two — different laundromats in the Tucson area. For those keeping score at home, this is the number of times we washed MeToo’s carseat, not the number of accidents she had. Not even the number of accidents she had in the seat. This was all in the space of a week.
In case you’ve never had to wash a carseat cover before, allow me to explain the process. First, you have to remove the thing from the carseat frame. This is a difficult procedure for every model of seat I’ve encountered. For the one we had her in on this trip, it involves unhooking the straps from the back, then unthreading them through the seat and cover, twice. You can’t just pull the cover up off the buckle; instead, you must reach underneath and fiddle around until you can slip the buckle off the seat entirely (don’t lose that). None of these operations are actually possible with the seat fully installed — at least, not by me in the space we had in that van, not without some bodily injury.
Having removed the seat cover, washing it is nothing special. It’s got to air-dry, though, which takes about a day. As if a day without a useable carseat is no biggie (actually, the dry air where we were helped quite a bit here). Then you’ve got to put the seat back on, which not only involves reversing all of the above steps but also probably requires you to turn the seat upside down to fish out the thingee the shoulder straps have to reattach to.
Of course, the whole ensemble isn’t really clean until you’ve rinsed and squeezed out the foam rubber pad under the seat cover. It’s been soaking up all that toddler urine like an unhappy sponge. That’s a piece you absolutely have to wash by hand — careful, it’s easy to tear if you twist it — and takes forever to dry.
Now, imagine trying to do that every other day while on a vacation that requires daily road trips.
Having done said imagining, you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that by the time we flew to San Antonio, the cover wasn’t even on the seat. In fact, MeToo’s carseat probably spent more time in Texas uncovered than not. We had a changing pad for baby Z that we put over the foam rubber piece — never had time to even attempt washing that. MeToo never complained about it being uncomfortable. Come to think of it, I don’t think she ever had an accident in the seat while it was like that, either.
We did end up washing the cover a couple of times in Texas, but after the last time I still didn’t put it back on until we were headed to the airport for the flight home.
The seat was wet again within five minutes.
Just a few minutes south of the city of Tucson, lies the ASARCO Mission Copper Mine. The site boasts a small (and free) Mineral Discovery Center and (not free) tours of the facility. If you ever wanted to learn about copper mining or your kids like huge machines (170-ton trucks!) this is the place to go. Our kids are not especially interested in either of those things, but they’re usually up for anything new if we act enthusiastic enough. And where else are we going to get to tour an enormous mining operation? Therefore, we decided to check it out along with a local friend of ours and her two adolescent boys.
We first had a picnic at the tables outside the Discovery Center. Our girls adored the older boys, wanting to hold their hands rather than an adult’s. After lunch, they all played around in the dirt and gravel while we waited for our tour time.
Now, there are lots of cacti in Arizona. From what we had seen, they are a pretty common feature of the environment and any time we were outside the kids were at most 30 feet away from having their day ruined. Usually much closer, like right there next to where we’ve parked.
Have I mentioned that MeToo stumbles around a lot?
Fortunately, we read up on the subject of cactus needle removal before we left home. Some cacti have large spines but the most annoying kind have tons of tiny, hair-thin barbs. Apparently, the best method for removing any type involves putting a bandage soaked in Elmer’s glue on the injured area, which you pull off once the glue dries. Duct tape is almost as good and you don’t need to wait ten minutes for it to dry. Either way, you will need to tweeze out the 5-10% of needles that get left behind. Make sure you use gloves and don’t touch them with your bare hands. Don’t ever put the injured area up to your mouth.
However well-educated we may have been, we neglected to actually pack any duct tape or gloves. Did we have tweezers? Of course. Did we ever bring them with us on our excursions? Of course not.
So there we were in the Sonoran Desert with the kids careening about the place. I monitored their trajectory whenever something else didn’t demand my attention and by the time we needed to get moving, neither MeToo nor RU had impaled themselves on the local flora.
As we head inside for the start of the tour, however, I feel a paper-cut like pain on a spot on my hand. Darned if it doesn’t feel like a tiny needle in my skin. I just use my fingers to pull it out — more by touch than by sight — and wonder where I picked it up from. I had been careful not to brush up against any plants. Then I feel it again in another place on my hand. What the heck? Well, maybe I had gotten into something and not noticed, or maybe they’re small enough to get blown around by the breeze. It was a momentary annoyance, nothing more, so I soon forgot about it.
MeToo, feeling tired during what is usually her nap time, isn’t particularly interested in the videos or exhibits in the Mineral Discovery Center. We’d brought along her Tula, so it looks as though I will be wearing her for the tour. Being sleepy, she wants to be up on my front. No problem; most of the tour will involve a bus ride, anyway.
MeToo dozes on my chest for the first half of the bus ride then suddenly squirms around in the carrier and cries out in pain. I try to get my hand in between us to feel around for anything that could be bothering her, but all I can figure is that she scratched or pinched herself with either the buttons on my shirt or the ones on her sweater. She settles back down and seems fine for the rest of the day.
That night, while getting her pj’s on, I notice what looks like a scratch on her belly. There are some tiny pricks in her skin connected by a red line. I’d almost think they looked like marks from cactus needles, except I was wearing her when she felt them. Her belly was right against me. Must have just hurt herself on my shirt somehow.
The next evening, the line is gone and the remaining pricks look a lot like tiny bug bites. Good thing I know better, right? At one point in the day, she complains that her belly hurts. However, ever since RU’s rather intense stomach bug last month, both the girls occasionally trot that line out just to watch their parents turn white and rush them to the toilet. Good thing I knew better, huh?
Finally, the Wife gets a look at MeToo’s belly. “Where did she get these bug bites?” I confidently explain that, although they sure look like bug bites or cactus sticks, MeToo must have hurt herself on my shirt somehow during the mine tour… Which sounds really dumb when said out loud while looking at a three-day-old sore place clearly not caused by anything other than spines or stingers. Indeed, taking a closer look with her electron-microscope-like Mom Vision, the Wife declares that she can see the cactus needles still in MeToo’s skin. This is three days and at least two baths after the incident.
I suddenly recall the mysterious cactus attack on my own hand not an hour prior to MeToo’s sudden cry of pain while on the tour. Whatever mechanism delivered those spines to my hand may have also deposited some on my, or MeToo’s, clothing. The tiny spurs lingered unnoticed until they were worked through the weave of her sweater by the motion of the tour bus until they pierced her vulnerable toddler-flesh. Elementary, my dear Watson!
After we find the tweezers, the Wife plays Operation on poor MeToo, extracting the needles.
Though no longer pained by them, the marks of the cactus bite (as RU calls it) are still visible nearly a week later.