50 Ways to Piss Your Toddler Off

50 Ways to Piss Your Toddler Off

Toddlers are a fickle bunch. Their behaviors can depend on the day of the week, or the way the stars are aligned. Even the happiest-go-lucky toddler is perfectly capable of a full-blown temper tantrum at any moment. The crafty, Pinterest-obsessed parent can turn the items on this list into toddler Bingo, and see how quick the results pile up. This list can also be turned into a drinking game if that is more your speed. Cheers! Without further ado, here are 50 ways to piss your toddler off: Eat something different than they do for dinner. Let them see the cookie you are snacking on while they are still eating. Don’t let them eat watermelon and cookies instead of chicken and broccoli. Tell them it’s time to clean up. Clean up their mess when they refuse. Ask if they have to go pee. Take them away from their toys. Stop doing anything that they are asking to be done “Again?” Make them eat two more bites of broccoli before they can play again. Bring them to daycare. Pick them up from daycare. Insist that they cannot lick the dinner table. Explain that they can throw a ball, but not their books. Read to them. Don’t read to them. Bring the snack they said they wanted. Tell them chicken is what’s for dinner. Ask them to put that permanent marker down. Ask them to stop stabbing the table with a butter knife. Use candy to explain taxes. Not cave in to their temper tantrum. Cave in to their temper tantrum. Insist they brush their teeth. Insist they wash their hands. Tell them it is time for a bath. Tell them bath time is over. Insist ice cream is not a breakfast food. Insist Cheerios are not a dinner food. Scold them for kissing the dog on the mouth. Insist they find a toilet when they tell you they have to pee. Insist on changing their underwear when they couldn’t find the toilet. Tell them they cannot eat the dog’s food. Say hello. Say goodbye. Try to make them laugh. Tell them not to lick their milk off the floor, even if that is what the cat is doing. Teach them manners. Say no. Run errands with them. Don’t let them have something. Wake them up. Do not let them wear the shirt they are asking for. Make them drink their milk. Don’t let them watch a movie. Tell them it’s too cold to go outside. Don’t let them try your coffee. Then let them try your coffee when they insist. Tell them they are going home. Take them from what they were doing. When they scream for mom, tell them she is never coming...

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Life in the Parenting Fishbowl

Life in the Parenting Fishbowl

Nothing makes you feel like you are living in a fishbowl quite like parenting. When it comes to a small child, opinions are like that certain piece of human anatomy – everyone’s got one (including the childless). It takes practice and a grace period before you realize that what the people watching your parenting from afar think, doesn’t really matter. For the most part, I’ve learned to discount the opinions of other people, both real and projected, unless said opinions also come with an offer to babysit. I’m not perfect at this, but I can certainly recognize an opinion that shouldn’t matter. This was a tough lesson living in a one-bedroom apartment with thin walls for the first few weeks of Jamie’s life, while we continued to look for a home. Jamie joined this world with something to say. He came out with a cry so fierce that once I gained my hearing back, I wondered what people on other floors of the hospital must have thought of this angry newborn infant. That shrill cry raged on for months, until he had other ways to tell us he needed something. In an environment where a normal room-volume conversation could be faintly overheard through apartment walls, I wondered how far an ear-piercing cry traveled. What the neighbors could hear became a legitimate concern. A baby crying that fiercely out in public is also a great way to attract attention. As Jamie grows, the reasons for the fishbowl vary. I don’t really care as much anymore about what people think, but a 2-year-old being 2 is a quick way to garner attention while in public. The nonsensical things he says and does sometimes need to be met with nonsensical responses. “Never touch your shoe to your face.” “Don’t wipe your spaghetti in your hair.” “Don’t lick your toys.” “Don’t hug the dog’s butt.” When these kinds of responses come in public, they can land you back in the parenting fishbowl. Sometimes it’s his awkward words or actions that put us there. When he asks his mother if the woman sharing the aisle at the grocery store is a dinosaur, you’re in that parenting fishbowl. When he feels the need to touch every item placed below the three foot level in the checkout lane, you’re in the fishbowl. When he emphatically tells the waitress at the crowded restaurant “MORE FOOODDD PLLLEEEAAASSSSEEE!!!!” you guessed it, back in the fishbowl. Public places equals eyes on the parents. But being 2 is being 2. Dealing with public temper tantrums, become a quick trip to the parenting fishbowl. The bottom line is we live in an environment where nearly everyone has an opinion about nearly everything – especially when...

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The Best Part of Halloween, the Shift in Trick or Treating Hours, and One of Life’s Difficult Lessons Taught With Candy

The Best Part of Halloween, the Shift in Trick or Treating Hours, and One of Life’s Difficult Lessons Taught With Candy

As a kid I always loved Halloween. Any excuse to knock on strangers’ doors and ask for candy was OK with me. Dressing up in a costume seemed a small price to pay for high volumes of processed sugar. My friends and I spent lunch and free time at school discussing our strategy for hitting up every house in the neighborhood. If they were giving out full size candy bars we hit them up twice. If they were giving out fruit they would be skipped, and immediately blacklisted. Like Pete Rose and baseball, these homes were never again to play the game of Halloween. I came home from school on the holiday, probably already on a sugar buzz. Before going out trick or treating, we would sit down and have dinner as a family. I didn’t want to waste valuable intestinal real estate on actual food when there would be sugar, but for some reason my mother insisted. It was dark. It was cold. But none of that mattered, because candy. It was time to go out and have fun and celebrate this strange day that simultaneously promoted evil, fear, and the power of a sugar buzz. I’d have to hand my candy stash over at home, so it could be inspected and output could be controlled. As a parent, things are different now, in a lot of ways. I’ll still monitor my son’s candy output through the month of November, but more on that later. The stark contrast between my time and Jamie’s is in the trick or treating hours. At some point trick or treating became an afternoon pastime, instead of a celebration through the night. I became vaguely aware of a societal shift when traffic to my door seemed to be heavier at 3 p.m. than 8. A quick scan of local trick or treating hours shows the majority of towns where I live starting at 3 or 4 p.m. Some start as early as 1 p.m. Some are done by 6, and they are all done by 8. Traffic seems to die off well before the back half of the window, and a majority of homeowners may not even be home on the front half. My son is 2, so he typically goes to bed pretty early. To me, part of the mystique of the holiday is due to the dark. Maybe we start trick or treating with him in the daylight, but trick or treating at 3 p.m. seems a little sanitized for my taste. I don’t think being outside after the sun goes down one day out of the year will cause him to melt. I do still believe in safety, and monitoring...

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Seven Parenting Lessons You’ll Probably Have to Learn on Your Own

Seven Parenting Lessons You’ll Probably Have to Learn on Your Own

Nothing makes advice fly faster and in more unsolicited ways than telling people you are about to become a parent. A sliver of this advice may prove useful down the road, but most of it will fall into the real life spam category, and can be dutifully ignored. You’ll hear about everything form the best ways to deal with a temper tantrum, to the best new strategies for potty training. You’re probably more interested in how to end the conversation, how to get through the day and what time is socially acceptable to begin drinking. No matter people’s good intentions, there is an array of parenting lessons that you’ll just need to learn on your own. Feeling the Cartoon Wrath – If it’s not animated, it’s not on. At least that is how it is most of the time around these parts. If I want to watch Sunday football, playoff baseball, or even just a few minutes of the news, I have to do tune out “I WANNA WATCH A MOVIEEEE!!!!” in the background. Someone needs to hurry up and invent an app that animates live television. It’s the only way everyone gets what they want. You Will Not Negotiate With Terrorists – I don’t care how cute your kid is, he is a little terrorist bent on destroying your latest set of plans. He will tell you “No” in a thousand different ways. He will throw a temper tantrum when he doesn’t want to do what you want him to do. The best thing is to just move on and take it in stride. How to Clean Spaghetti off the Walls – It’s really not any different from cleaning it off the table, or hand washing it off a dirty dish. A little soap and water can do the trick. I bet you never thought you’d have to clean it off the wall that is five feet from your dining room table, however. In retrospect dark red seems like a great color to paint the room you eat in. You Cannot Have Things – A dog owner cannot have nice things. A parent cannot have nice things. If you are in the middle of that Venn diagram you cannot have things. Case closed. Cleaning – I’ve never particularly enjoyed this task to begin with, but it becomes a lot more challenging with a 3-foot tornado behind you bent on destroying any progress that you’ve made. Cleaning with a toddler present becomes an art form. Stickers, Crayons and Anything Else Destructive Should Be Hidden – There is no concept with a toddler on the right place, or wrong place to color. Stickers look just as good on the floor or on...

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The Magical Relationship Between a Boy and His Dog

The Magical Relationship Between a Boy and His Dog

I’ve mentioned a few times now that this summer we adopted a dog. The relationship started a bit tenuous, with the dog escaping multiple crates and destroying a laundry room door, to get back into the main portion of the house. It took a gigantic leap of faith from that point to give him run of the whole house, but he seems to be doing OK with it. He is simply not a fan of confinement. While mom and dad had initial trust issues with the dog that we’ve worked through, Jamie took to the dog right away. He loves to pet him, and hug him, and shower him with attention. It’s that shower him with attention part that can come off a little suspect at times. Even the best intentions can miss wildly. And Captain, a 2-year-old German Shepherd and hound mix, has displayed the patience of a saint, as my toddler learns everything you should and should not do to animals, or the right way and wrong way to show them affection. I’m sure the dog has his thoughts on the relationship, but it’s been a great experience. There’s a special bond that develops between a kid and a dog and it’s been fun to watch. With me, I pet the dog, feed him, walk him and show him affection. The dog in turn stays by my side a large portion of the day, showing me his love. But with my son, it’s a whole new level, and a symbiotic relationship developing between our two 2-year-olds. There are a lot of ways that dogs and toddlers can be mutually beneficial to each other. Here are a few examples: Mealtimes – We typically tell the dog to go lay down during mealtimes, and he does. But as the dog has become more acclimated to us, he knows who the messy eater is. He knows who is going to leave a trail of scraps and crumbs behind. As Jamie gets older he may even try to slip the dog some carrots or green beans at some point. Captain will figure out where to go for a quick people food score. Dog food – Jamie is 2 now, so we can start to have a few things around the house that he is told not to touch. But there is a learning curve. Like Captain knows his people food, I’m pretty sure Jamie knows what dog food tastes like. An animal to ride – Surprisingly Jamie hasn’t made this request yet, but I’m waiting for it. I’m waiting for an attempt. Captain’s bigger than Jamie, but he is not THAT much bigger. So, we’ll see. Someone to blame stuff on – The...

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The Parental Neglect of Raising a Cubs Fan

The Parental Neglect of Raising a Cubs Fan

I’ve made a lot of jokes right here, on this very blog about the lasting damage I may be doing to my son by turning him into a Cubs fan. When he was an infant I watched the final three outs of a loss on television. He broke out in crocodile tears and that stereotypical loud infant shriek, in perfect timing with that third out. “The Cubs lost, get over it,” I told him. “You better prepare for a lifetime of misery if you are going to get that attached.” And with that, we had one of his first life lessons. Or maybe he was crying because he was hungry. I’m not sure. It’s safer for him to believe Santa Claus will pay a visit at the ripe age of 25, than to think the Cubs can win the World Series, right? If I teach him the kind of hope required to be a Cubs fan, he’ll think unicorns and Leprechauns are real. He won’t have a healthy fear for the power of a Billy Goat. He’ll grow up thinking the impossible is possible, and we just can’t have that. The Chicago Cubs may be messing with my worldview a little bit, and what my role is in shaping my son’s. This team is showing no signs of the “Here we go again” Cubs. Yet I’ve been burned too many times to be anything but a cynic. I have to keep myself guarded until the third out of the ninth inning of the final game. And of course, I need to acknowledge my protective parental instinct. Let’s face it. There’s your garden-variety professional sports franchise bad, and then there’s the we haven’t won a championship in 107 years kind of bad. The second takes a special kind of talent that only Chicago’s north siders were able to muster. No team in any sport has been this perennially awful. Spring is the season of hope and new life, for all. Fans of any other sports franchise can pick themselves up with your stereotypical optimist thoughts: “Well, they play the games for a reason.” Or “There’s some possibility that they could win, right?” Not a Cubs fan. Usually sometime around opening day a Cubs fan has more in common with the bowl of petunias in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. As it falls from the sky the bowl utters the phrase “Oh no, not again.” I’m not sure who coined the phrase “cautiously optimistic,” but I’m fairly sure it was a Cubs fan during a rare playoff series who thought he was hedging his bets. He probably ate his words then, moments later. I’m scared because I’m not feeling any...

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Early Morning Conversations With a 2-Year-Old Before Coffee

Early Morning Conversations With a 2-Year-Old Before Coffee

A true enough account of what the morning hour is like around these parts It’s about 6 a.m. and talking and bouncing noises have been coming from my son’s room for a few minutes straight. It’s time to acknowledge those noises aren’t going away any time soon. “Good morning! Do you want to get up?” “I wanna play toys!! I wanna read books!!” “Can we get you dressed first?” “Play toys!! Read books!!” Yea? I want coffee, kid. A big, fresh cup of coffee. “Lay on your pad so I can change your diaper.” “NOOOOOO!!!!” He goes to pick up a book to bring over to the pad so he can “read” while I change his diaper. “No, not a library book. You don’t know where that’s been.” He puts one book down and picks up one that’s his. But this one is the biggest, tallest hard cover book he could find. “Happy? Now lay on your pad.” “Dad?” “Yea, bud.” “Can I tell you something?” This should be golden. “Shake your booty. Shake your booty.” He starts dancing and smiling, and dancing some more. There’s way too much energy in this room for 6 a.m. There’s no music, but a whole lot of dancing. OK, so I have to laugh. But it’s 6 a.m. and any efforts made by my mouth muscles hurt my face. “Shake your booty.” I need alcohol to follow those instructions, but right now all I want is coffee. After the impromptu performance, he lays down on the pad, perking the book up over his chest, and reciting every memorized line. When I go to get him dressed and change his shirt he battles me for the book with each arm. “NOOOOOO!!!! I NEEEEED MYYYY BOOOOOK!!!” “You can have your book in 2 seconds, when I’m done.” “I NEEEEEEED MICKKKEEEEEYYYY MOUUUUSSSE SHIIIIIRRRRRT!!!!” “Not this morning, bud.” I need that freakin’ coffee. “I need ‘nother shirt, then.” Coffee, coffee, coffee. “No, you get this one. The one I picked out.” “There you go. You’re all dressed. Do you want some breakfast?” “NOOOO, DAAAADY, I WAAAANA REEAAAD BOOOKS! “Breakfast?” “Read books.” “OK pick a quick book.” He goes to the shelf. Brings one. I get to page two. Reading…he interrupts mid sentence. “Daddy?” “Yes buddy.” “I wanna eat food.” “I kinda figured bud. What do you want to eat?” “I want watermelon.” “We don’t have any.” “I want peanut butter and jelly.” “That’s not a breakfast food.” “I waaaaaaant fooood-a.” “Acceptable answers are pancakes, Cheerios, eggs or yogurt.” “PAAAAANCAAAAKES” “Pancakes it is then.” I bring him a plate. He’s eaten just a couple bites. Why the hell don’t we have any ground coffee in the house? Coffee. Coffee....

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