The Vindictiveness of Preschoolers

When you have young children, you have stories – lots of stories. You have stories that most people wouldn’t believe unless they, too, have had small children. You think you’ll never forget these incidents when they happen. Then a year goes by, maybe two, and suddenly you’re struggling to remember even the most basic details. So, I’m choosing to write down what I can before I forget entirely.

Like this gem:

G was three years old (he’s now seven). It was late at night and we were two water breaks, four stories, and a whole lot of my patience into bedtime. When he came downstairs for the hundredth time, I was just settling in to watch some TV.

“Are you going to make popcorn tonight?” he asked hopefully.

I glanced over at the pot on the stove – filled with hot oil, waiting for my nightly batch of kernels – and then back to my preschooler. Sleep was close; I couldn’t risk undoing hours of bedtime work with an affirmative answer.

“No,” I lied. “Back upstairs.”

“Okay,” he said. “Just don’t make popcorn without me.”

“Sure. I won’t.”

It was a white lie. No sooner had I tucked him back into bed than I had kernels popping on the stove. G was asleep and I was safe to enjoy my habitual popcorn and TV nightcap. He would be none the wiser and I could make him his own popcorn the next day. Win-win, I thought.

Unfortunately, I left the empty bowl with a few tattling kernels on the coffee table. Also unfortunately, G awoke before me the next morning. When I came downstairs, he was curled up on the couch watching the latest episode of Thomas the Train. (Yes, he knew how to turn the television on and navigate the On-Demand section. We teach important life skills early around here.)

“Morning, baby,” I said. Seeing the evidence, I went quickly to the bowl, hoping to remove it before he noticed what had been in it.

I picked it up and immediately put in back down again. There was some watery liquid in the bottom.

“What happ — did you pour water in here?”

“No.” He didn’t look up from Thomas. “I peed in there.”

I stared, flabbergasted, at my very potty trained child who had never peed anywhere other than a diaper or a toilet.

“You PEED in the BOWL?” I could barely get the words out.

“Yes,” he nodded, eyes never leaving the screen.

I took the bowl over to the sink. As I scrubbed it under the hottest, soapiest water imaginable, I realized the thumb-sucking three-year old had just given me a very deliberate f-you.

And I never lied about making popcorn again.

My Son, the Author

When I was a child, my favorite thing to do was write stories. My mother still has (somewhere?) the first story I ever wrote. “Watch the Flower Grow” is a tale of a small seed that — you guessed it! — grows into a beautiful flower. Free play time from ages 5 through 10 was consumed by story creation, and I dreamed of becoming a novelist when I grew up.

Flash forward twenty years and it seems G has gotten the bug. Lately, he has been commandeering every piece of printer paper he can find, producing multiple books per day. Sometimes he will transcribe the story himself; others, he will get frustrated with his inability to spell quickly and enlist the spelling skills of the Ex or me.

His latest piece is actually a compilation called, “The Days.” It will have (when finished) 30 stories — “one for each day” (presumably in a month). Each story involves a family and what they do on that day. The words are G’s own and he of course does the illustrations himself. I need to scan images of this book and post them up — it’s adorable beyond words and fills me with pride.

“You know, Mommy wanted to be an author when I was your age,” I told him.

“Are you an author now?” he asked.

“Well, no…”

“Why not?”

I decided it was best not to launch into a conversation about abandoned dreams and changed the subject. Thankfully, he didn’t press me on the topic — he had stories to create.

A post to my son, on your 5th birthday

Five years ago, on the night before you were born, I lay awake in bed wondering. Who were you? What would you look like? What would your personality be? I was so anxious and excited to meet you.

And then, at 5:55 pm the next day, you arrived. A happy, healthy and mellow baby with a head full of dark hair and narrow, dark eyes that had not yet taken on their brown hue.

You hated your crib. You cried hysterically every time I put you down. And that’s when you met Sasa, the small dog given to you by Auntie Sarah. Sasa was the only thing that calmed you down when you were two days old, and she remains the thing that calms you down five years later. After a busy day, you still curl up on the couch to suck your thumb and cuddle Sasa.

Over the past five years, I have watched you grow into an astonishingly bright and inquisitive child. You amaze me every day. In the past six months, you have learned to read – and are starting to read books on your own! – and you have learned basic addition and subtraction. You do 500-piece puzzles with ease. All this before even entering Kindergarten. You love to learn and are constantly trying to figure out why things work the way they do. I love hearing your hypotheses on the workings of the world.

You have a wonderful and sometimes impish sense of humor. You know I startle easily and often use this to your advantage. Your favorite book at the moment is the Mo Williems tale, “We Are in a Book!” We must have read it over fifty times by now. And yet, every time the reader says “Banana,” you burst out in hysterics as though it were the first time you’d heard the joke. Your laughter is truly infectious, even when the punchline is “stinky” — as it so often is these days.

You have a love for technology. Every chance you get, you are downloading apps onto your father’s and my phones. You requested your own iPhone for your birthday (but that isn’t happening – five is not the age when you get your own phone). You adore taking pictures and snap photos every chance you get. You’re about to inherit my old digital camera — which, given the amount you use it, is really yours anyway.

You are sensitive and sweet. You are always trying to do things for your father and me, whether it be making us presents, coloring pictures for us, or making me jewelry. You know that I loved My Little Pony as a child and are constantly on the lookout for Pony-themed gifts.

Happy 5th birthday, my son. You have grown into an amazing little boy and I am so honored to be your mother.

What to spend on a child’s birthday party?

It’s that time of year again… G’s birthday is coming up!

As my little man plans to mark his fifth year, I have a party to organize. And, of course, pay for. He wanted gymnastics, so I called the nearest place. The cost? $270. On top of that, I will need to buy food, cake, and the highly-coveted and altogether essential goody bags. When all is said and done, this party will easily come in at $350.

I wondered: Is this normal? How much are other parents spending on their kids’ birthday parties? I couldn’t ask parents I know, so I instead asked the internet.

According to what I’ve found, the average parent spends right around $250 on a kid’s birthday party. Where do you fall?

Predicting Babies’ Eye Color

I am completely obsessed with genetics. I find the manner in which dominant and recessive genes combine to form a phenotype (i.e. the trait that displays) positively fascinating. I write about predicting babies’ features a lot on this blog because: 1) I think it’s so damn interesting and 2) You can actually predict what your future child may look like with just a few inputs.

I created the chart below to help you predict what eye color your baby may have. It’s a very simple eye color predictor, as it only takes into account the eye color of the parents:

Baby Eye Color Predictor

If you know the eye color of the grandparents (as I’m guessing most of you do), you should check out TheTech’s baby eye color predictor. The more info you can provide it, the more accurate your eye color predictions will be.

Did You Know…?

  • Brown is the most common eye color across the world. It is also the most common eye color in the U.S. today.
  • In 1900, blue was the most common eye color in the U.S., with approx. 58% percent of people having blue eyes.
  • Most babies are born with blue eyes, regardless of the color they will ultimately be.  Children’s eye color may change during their first few years. Usually, by the third birthday, a child’s eyes will take on their permanent color.
  • Your eyes don’t grow. Their size at birth is the size they will always be.
  • Having two different colored eyes (e.g. one brown, one green) is extremely rare but does occur. This condition is called heterochromia.
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