Would You Rather…The Toddler Version

My kids have a card game called “Would You Rather”.

The premise is that you have to choose between two pretty ridiculous things.

For example: Would you rather wear a tuxedo to school/work every day…or clothes three sizes too small?

Would you rather post all your report cards on Facebook…or all your love letters?

Would you rather be able to camouflage yourself like a chameleon…or puff up your body like a blowfish?

They love it.

Because they haven’t lived long enough.

So tell me, parents in the toddler trenches…would you rather…

“Sleep in” till 6am while your kid gets the butter out of the fridge and butters the entire kitchen and himself…or fall asleep at lunchtime and forget to pick up your kindergartner from school?

Pretend the toddler is still taking his nap so you can finish the chapter of the book you’re reading…or walk in before he decides to finger paint the walls around the crib with the contents of his diaper?

Force your kids to swallow “chew forever steak”…or look the other way so they can spit it into their napkins?

Eat a nice dinner of fettucini alfredo with roasted chicken and a side of acorn squash….or make spaghetti for the ten zillionth time in a row because that is all the kids will eat?

Potty train ‘early’, cleaning the floor, doing the laundry and tolerating six months of ‘relapses’…or wait until the summer they turn three and turn them loose buck naked in the backyard with a never-ending sippy cup and a potty chair?

See the inside of every bathroom in your community, suspending the tot above the sleaze…or keep a permanent line item in your budget labelled: “diapers and wipes”?

Step on Legos, Jacks, and Slinkys in the middle of the night while running into the kids’ bedroom…or let them throw up over it all and toss it out the next morning as “collateral damage”?

Let the flotsam of a year’s worth of meals build up to the point where you can no longer tell what color your high chair is…or put a pile of Cheerios in the middle of the floor and let the kid have at it?

Give them a pacifier that they drop out of the crib every single night at 2am and shriek madly…or let them suck their thumb until they’re 20?

Spend 15 minutes strapping your baby to your chest and your toddler to your waist while making a two minute stop to pick up your kindergartner…or spend a half hour waiting for Hubby to show up with a spare car key because the kindergartner climbed in and accidentally locked the car from the inside and is attempting to drive away?

Give your little one a pet fish that refuses to die (unless, of course, you pet and cuddle it)…or give her a hamster that refuses to live (and especially loathes petting and cuddling)?

Have the child who hates swim lessons and refuses to get into the water…or have the child who loves swim lessons and refuses to surface from below the water?

These are important choices to ponder, and I think I speak for us all when I say, “To Toddle or not to Toddle…that is the question.”

I’ll be making different versions of this game, as I find it rather cathartic.

And when you’re standing in the kitchen and have to choose between washing the dishes or drinking your bevmo from a sippy cup…well, we all know the answer to that one.

Bend In The Road

“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood…” wrote the poet, Robert Frost.

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I recently accepted an invitation to speak at a women’s retreat in Ontario.

Yep, Canada.

It’s slated for the end of September when, I am informed, “there’s an eighty percent chance of beautiful fall colors and a zero percent chance of snow on the ground”.

Which is, as you know, terribly attractive to weather wimps such as myself.

As close as I can figure it, the ladies there were reading my blog this spring, and in a fit of desperation born of an eternal winter, decided I was just the one to join them over a hot cuppa and lead a few discussions on life in the trenches.

Well.

When paths diverge, what’s a girl to do?

This particular path smells briskly of moose and pine and possibilities.

It’s delicious.

Although I have not yet met these lovely ladies, if they’ve had a child explode a loaded diaper in their lap or a meal explode in their microwave, we already share the kinship and camaraderie of Girlfriends.

I could lead an entire class on the pros and cons of using a single closet to hold nothing but canned goods (labels out!), but that’s not why I’m going.

I’m going because I know that Life in the Trenches can get seriously messy.

And awkward. And stupid. Sometimes things happen that we definitely didn’t sign up for.

We all have days when we feel lost, overwhelmed, underpaid, and darn it, our feet hurt. We want to sit down and have someone rub them.

We’d like to just sit down, please.

We see two roads diverging in a yellow wood and can’t for the life of us figure out which one we are supposed to take because we still have the grocery shopping, soccer practice, bills to pay, and the dog to worm, and already we’re suspicious that the yellow wood may be yellow for a reason.

Especially if snow and kids are involved.

With multiple paths wandering around shadowy corners to destinations unknown, we face decisions all day about which way to turn next.

Moving always onward, our choices are making all the difference.

And if today is the current sum total of every choice we ever made, then might it be possible to choose our next bend in the road with slightly more intention?

The path that seems rockier but holds a little more brightness? The path that heads uphill, but gives a little more grace? The path that scares me but feels more compassionate? The healing path that feels like laughter could be possible, even through tears?

When I tell this story of Canada, with a sigh, ages and ages hence, I will say that I chose the road that felt most like God calling me.

And also, I will say with a smile, my paths were full to overflowing with Girlfriends!

 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

– Robert Frost, 1916

Car Campaigns Part 1

As those of you who read “Death of a Champion” know, our recently deceased suburban lived a long and full life with our family. We were there at its conception and birth (the only car we’ve ever purchased brand spanking new) and we were there to mourn its death.

A few appropriate words were spoken by the children.

“Dude, did you get all our Legos out of the back seat?”

As the tow truck carried it away to the giant wrecking yard in the sky, there was only one thought on my mind. We were now on the inescapable undeniable terrifying journey into…car shopping.

You know us well enough to see that this was not a good thing. Making decisions in our family is like the Middle East peace talks. Everyone knows it’s a good idea. Everyone shows up to the bargaining table with perfectly sincere faces and a handshake.

But you are dealing with crazy people. So don’t hold your breath.

Our family wields opinions like small firearms. And nobody ducks.

I decided to launch a pre-emptive strike and fired off the first round.

“I want a Vespa,” I declared, “a green one.”

Everyone was silent for a minute contemplating my idea.

“We can put sidecars on it if you need a ride to school.”

This was met with a great deal of eye rolling and muttering in foreign languages to each other.

“Okay, fine,” I relented, seeing that my giant SUV to tiny moped was a pretty extreme rebound, “how about we get a Mini Cooper or a VW Bug? A Jeep?”

My six foot tall and only growing taller sons were having none of it.

“Mom, we want a monster truck!” they countered, “What if we got dropped off at school in one of those?!”

Obviously they thought everything with wheels was an option, including anything made by Tonka.

“I know!” they crowed, “let’s get a limo!”

I spent a moment relishing the thought of having a plate glass barrier between myself and the passengers that not even sound would break. But a mom has her duties and I scratched their idea with the safety card.

“The only car you’ll be allowed to ride in without a seat-belt is a hearse.”

Which was also a valid idea because we used to have elderly neighbors whose granddaughter worked in Hollywood as a horror film make-up artist. She drove an old hearse as part of her shtick. It always gave me a double-take when she parked it out front.

My fearless hubby stepped forward. He wasn’t sure what kind of car we wanted yet, but he knew it wasn’t going to be red. Or black. Or yellow. Or green. He tossed out some targets.

I shot down Hummers (overcompensating much), Prius (batteries sold separately), Camrys (yawn), Cubes (just drive a mail truck already), Volvo (a roll cage with wheels), Lexus (been there, done that), Beemers (so cliché), and what’s the difference between a sport wagon and a station wagon? Ick.

I spurned anything resembling a van (too soccer mom).

I shunned everything resembling an SUV (gas guzzlers).

And while a gi-normous Caddy reminded me of my days in the hood, there’s no possible way you could pimp that ride to entice me into buying one.

Not even in Mary Kay pink.

I was reloading when a daughter said, “Hey, get a Mustang!”

All the kids jumped on that bandwagon. Muscle cars are a big hit when we travel the roads, and I’m always asked to pull up alongside one so they can properly respect the lucky drivers. Camaro. Cobra.

What about a Mazarati? And Lamborghini!

Well don’t stop there, you little fantasy-land mouseketeers! How about we get a Ferrari and call it a day?

The bottom line is that we need a taxi for the next six years that will take the abuse it deserves for not being a Lotus Elise. It needs to be economical, safe, sturdy, and dependable. Translation=boring in the extreme.

Stay tuned as we head into the wilderness in search of transportation.

We’re armed and dangerous.

And no one is interested in negotiating.