The Daily Costume Changes of a Toddler

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toddler-clothing

6:54 AM: Baby sports fashionable owl pajama set from classy Carters line. Baby is so excited to greet new day that she unloads her bladder all over them.

7:03 AM: Change baby into onesie bearing the name of my alma mater. Feel this applies too much academic pressure on wee one. Change her into onesie that says “Diva Brat.” Husband views onesie. Has heart attack.

7:28AM: Feed baby breakfast. Baby sneezes while ingesting a jar of green beans. Change baby into a bright floral t-shirt and matching leggings. Husband comments that she looks like she belongs on a cruise ship.

9:12 AM: Surprise visit from friend. Quickly change baby into outfit friend gave us: Pink velour tracksuit with misspelled version of baby’s name on it.

10:32 AM: Friend leaves. Immediately change baby back into cruise ship attire. Burn track suit.

11:14 AM: Baby consumes a bottle of bubbles, then spits it back up. Try to change baby into a onesie, but she spots her old Halloween costume (Tinkerbell wings and nylon skirt) and insists on wearing it.

Related Post: 25 Ways To Annoy A Toddler

12:14PM: Baby still wearing Halloween costume.

1:14PM: Still.

2:02PM: Sharpie is very hard to get off nylon.

2:28PM: Manage to wrestle off wings and put her down for nap.

2:32PM: Worry that baby will be too cold; add wool pants, socks, and a hoodie.

2:40PM Husband comments that her room is approximately 90 degrees, and I will be arrested for child endangerment.  I remove the socks.

4:00PM: Baby has a birthday party to attend. Change her into a cute sundress with a tulle skirt and sequined heart decal.

Related Post: 25 Ways You Know You’re a Parent to a Toddler

4:05PM: Husband comments her outfit is perfect…for dancing on a Mardi Gras parade float. I ignore him and add bedazzled sunglasses.

4:28PM: At birthday party, baby mistakes Mickey Mouse cake for stuffed animal and hugs it.  While baby tries to lick her dress clean, change her into the only other thing in the diaper bag: her bathing suit.

5:46PM: Strip baby naked for bath. Baby is happiest she’s been all day.

7:23PM: Change baby into pajamas and put her to sleep. Realize that I have been wearing the same green bean-stained, urine-soaked, cake-covered shirt all day.

25 Ways To Annoy A Toddler

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25 Ways To Annoy A Toddler
If you have kids, you will at one time have this irrational creature living in your house called a toddler. They are hilarious and cute and very easily annoyed. Here are 25 ways that you can annoy a toddler. I think I have done every one of these just this week…

1. Put jeans on them.

2. Hold them too tight or too loose.

3. Put salad on their plate.

4. Display affection for any of the other children in your house.

5. Don’t let them ride you like a horsey while you are attempting to do Granny push-ups on the floor.

6. Not stare into their eyes with complete focus while they are learning to use the potty.

7. Try to stand at the end of the one slide at the park that will launch them ten feet into the air, because clearly you didn’t stand there for their brother so you won’t be standing there for them, either.

8. Try to ever wear your new fancy shoes because you made the mistake of letting them try the shoes on once, so now the shoes are theirs.

9. Look sternly in their direction.

10. Don’t let them push those tiny carts in the grocery store when you just can’t bring yourself to deal with the drama that day.

11. Let the other kids in the house get on the bus to go to school.

12. Don’t let them talk to Grandma on the phone. For hours. And by talking I mean staring at the phone and smiling while Grandma and you both try desperately to get one word out of them.

13. Don’t let them look at themselves on your phone while you are trying to take a picture of them.

14. Not kiss the exact right spot where they injured themselves. Even if it’s their butt.

15. Suggest that it’s almost time to go to bed or put clothes on or eat lunch. Suggest anything, really.

16. Don’t let them drink out of every water fountain in every library and every airport on the planet.

17. Hold a baby.

18. Give them other food besides yogurt or crackers or noodles.

19. Go to a different room in the house without taking them with you. Or even warning them that this was about to happen.

20. Forget that they need to sit on your lap all day on Wednesdays.

21. Try to teach them how to zip a zipper.

22. Strap them into their carseat on Tuesdays.

23. Say mean things to them, like, you need to wear shoes or you can’t go outside.

24. Forget that, since you allowed them to help push the buttons on the washer that one time, this is now their job and you must never touch the buttons again.

And finally….

25. Not help them when they specifically asked you not to help and now they are irreversibly stuck in their sweatshirt or underpants.

How to Train Your Kids So That You Actually Want to Live With Them

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train-kids

How to Sleep Train Your Kid:
Step one: Throw away all of the books that talk about how to sleep train YOUR kid.
Step two: Politely refuse to listen to anyone else’s advice on how they sleep-trained THEIR kid.
Step three: When it’s bedtime, help your child put on their pajamas and put them in their bed.
Step four: Say goodnight, I love you, sweet dreams, or whatever else you want and turn the lights out.
Step five: Help them get out of their bed in the morning.
Step six: During the day, when they begin to turn into a tiny little monster, put them in their bed for a nap. Could be once a day, could be four or five times. Whatever. Monster = nap.
Step seven: Repeat. 

How to Train Your Kids to Pick Up Their Toys:
Step one: Ask your child, “Will you please pick up your toys now?”
Step two: When your child ignores you, quietly get out a garbage bag.
Step three: Because of their previous experience with you and the aforementioned garbage bag, the child goes into panic mode and cleans up their toys in record time.

How to Train Your Toddler to not have Temper Tantrums:
Step one: Child is spastic on ground because you have poured milk on their cheerios after they had specifically asked you to….pour milk on their cheerios.
Step two: Stand over them and say to them “Go bigger, you can be wilder than that, C’mon you’re losing your touch! Yell louder! Flail More! Let’s go! Get that crazy out of you!”
Step three: If step two doesn’t work, get down on the floor and flail with them. Really go for it.
Step four: Assist your toddler, who should now be laughing hysterically at their lunatic mom, back up to their chair to eat their cheerios.

How to Train Your Kid to Be Polite:
Step one: Be polite to them.
Step two: Refuse to do anything for them (i.e. get them a glass of water, help them tie their shoes, buy them stuff, feed them) unless they are polite to you.
Step three: Repeat steps one and two 9,657,987 times.

How to Train Your Kid to Eat The Same Dinner as You:
Step one: Make something that you feel like having for dinner.
Step two: Put a smaller portion of this type of food on your child’s plate.
Step three: Eat.
Step four: Clean up their plate when dinner is over. You will know when dinner is over when you either see an empty plate or, if your child has the willpower of a Tibetan Monk, they will be fast asleep with their head on the table. They will most likely get hungry enough to eat what you eat someday. I wouldn’t know, I usually only give my kids mac ‘n cheese because I have a physiological disorder that requires me to see them put food into their mouths.

How To Potty Train Your Kid: 
Step one: Stop using diapers.
Step two: Show them where to go to the bathroom.
Step three: Invest in a mop.

How To Teach Your Kid to Be a Nice Person:
Step one: Be nice to them.
The End.

Disclaimer; Written from the confines of my home, where my toddler is yelling obscenities at me from her time-out chair, probably won’t be potty-trained until she is 12, and is generally acting like a little asshole, and where my six-year-old lacks the willpower to keep himself from slide tackling his sister every 5 seconds and can’t even sit at the dinner table, let alone eat any food. But a girl can dream.

10 Things to Expect When You’ve Got a Toddler

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Cute-Boy-Kid-Image

I will admit that nothing scared me more than the day I left the hospital with my newborn baby. I couldn’t believe these people were willing to let me walk out of there with this helpless little being. Even though I studied the What to Expect, When You’re Expecting, book religiously, I was certain I would somehow screw this parenting thing up. It was overwhelming and purely exhausting but each day it did get a little less scary and a bit more familiar.

Little did I know then that while being the parent of a newborn was scary, taking on a toddler was a level of scary that would put the “Tower of Terror” at Disney World to shame. It seems there was quite a bit about toddlerhood that all the books seemed to leave out…

1. Remember all that time you spent longing for the day when your precious little one would take his or her first steps? Well, you better have your running shoes ready because you will need to be right behind him every unsteady step of the way. You will suddenly find yourself adding many new skills to your mommy resume as you learn to track and chase a tornado like Helen Hunt did in the movie “Twister”.

2. Overnight, toddlers seem to acquire mad monkey skills and you will be shocked at the circus feats they are capable of. Not many things surprised me more than the day I came out of my bedroom and found my little one happily sitting up on top of my refrigerator in his red pajamas.

3. Have you heard the expression, “His bark is worse than his bite?” Well, if you’ve ever been bitten by a toddler, you can attest to the fact that their bite is a hell of a lot worse than their bark. Who knew that I should have put shin guards on my baby shower registry? Anytime I wasn’t giving my son 100% of my attention, he would sneak up on me and a few seconds later, I would feel the piercing sting of my flesh as he bit into it. Nothing grabs mom’s attention quite as fast as a nice sharp bite in the leg.

4. Sponge Bob’s got nothing on toddlers. They can absorb words, language and expression like never before. They are walking, talking little sponges and you can bet your bottom dollar that the words you never meant for them to hear are the very same words that they will master and use at the most inopportune times. Bad words are hilarious, fun and best delivered in public when the opportunity to embarrass mom will never cease to amuse them.

5. The word “no” becomes a staple in the toddler years; for every “yes” you hear, there will be a thousand “no’s”. Their need to be independent is fierce and it’s their way or the highway.

6. Potty training is in full swing! Again, those running shoes of yours will come in handy since you will find yourself forever sprinting in search of the nearest bathroom. You will be mourning the days where all you had to do was throw a diaper on the kid and go. You should probably buy Lysol in bulk because you will find human waste in places you never thought possible. I once smelled urine for days in my son’s room without being able to target the source. Finally, I lifted a blanket off of his toy drum set, and low and behold, that little drum was filled to the brim with pee. Lovely!

7. Whatever you do, don’t be fooled into thinking that once your child is successfully potty trained, you will no longer need a baby bag with backup outfits. You always need backup outfits. If it’s not an “Oops, Mama, I didn’t make it to the potty on time,” it’s an, “Uh Oh, Mama, I pulled the lid off my Sippy cup and now I’m covered from head to toe in wet, sticky juice!” And just when you think you’ve packed enough backup clothes for every possible scenario, he will surely throw up on you after he has already thrown up on himself.

8. My Mother always told me not to cry over spilled milk, and for the most part I don’t. I do, however cry over spilled coffee. Coffee is the life blood for most Mommies’ and almost as soon as my son started walking, he seemed to have a built in GPS which would navigate him straight to my coffee. I will never forget the day I called my husband and bawled my eyes out over spilled coffee. Fortunately, it didn’t take me long to realize that my coffee should always be kept at least three times as high as the top of my toddler’s head. (And even then I wasn’t totally confident that he wouldn’t somehow manage to spill it.)

9. As the toddler years begin to wind down, you will begin to gain a false sense of security. You may even feel as though you’re starting to stand on steady ground. Keep in mind, while the ground may be steady, the rug can still be ripped out from underneath you at any given moment. Forget, What to Expect, When You’re Expecting, and instead, expect the unexpected.

10. While it’s true that we’ve been on this earth a heck of a lot longer than they have, and we should possess the skills to be one step ahead of them at all times, it’s not always the case. These little people have super skills and they are not afraid to use them. They’re fast, smart and incredibly resourceful. They’ve also got plenty of time to refine these skills during “Time Out,” which is a place they often frequent.

So, best of luck with your precious toddler… you’ll no doubt need it.

BEDTIME STALLING 101 (as taught by a two-year-old)

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bedtime-stalling

Bedtime Stalling is something every toddler should master by age two. If you use my personally-tested strategies, by the end of this post, you should be able to push your bedtime a full forty-five minutes. With a little practice, you’ll be eating midnight snacks, watching horrible skits on SNL and ordering Slankets off late night infomercials in no time.

LESSON ONE: MAKE CHANGING INTO YOUR PJS AS DIFFICULT AS POSSIBLE
Run around the house at full speed. If a parent catches you, go completely limp so that you weigh 1000 lbs. If mom or dad succeeds in getting your clothes off, do not let that deter you from making a quick getaway and running around fully naked.

LESSON TWO: A SUDDEN APPRECIATION FOR DINNER
This tactic is best carried out if you have a long established behavior of “not eating”. This way, when you show a sudden interest in nourishment at exactly the same time your parents start the bedtime process, they are genuinely torn between their desire to get you into bed and their fear that you might starve to death.

LESSON THREE: YOUR TEETH CAN NEVER BE TOO CLEAN
Brush your heart out. Ask for more toothpaste. Ask to use the Dora toothbrush and then change your mind and ask for the Thomas one. Run your brush under the water for an inordinate amount of time. Decide your teeth aren’t quite clean enough and start over. You get the idea.

LESSON FOUR: HIDE YOUR BLANKIE
Establish the need for as many security items as possible. I suggest a blankie, a stuffed animal and a sippy cup. About an hour before bedtime, hide these items around the house. Precious minutes will be awarded when your parents are forced to go on their nightly security item search, knowing full well there is no way you will go to bed without them.

LESSON FIVE: BOOK NEGOTIATION
When it comes to selecting books for bedtime stories, try standing frozen in front of your bookshelf, unable to make a decision. You can also attempt to renegotiate your allotted number of books. If your parent says you can have two, ask for three. If they say three, ask for four. The important thing is to never be satisfied. Lastly, pick the longest book possible or if you are feeling extra daring, pick the book with 100 “look and see” flaps. Those things take FOREVER.

LESSON SIX: ENGAGE & AMAZE
All day, your parents have been trying in vain to talk to you, to get you to smile for the camera, to count to ten, etc. but you have ignored them. Now is your time. Put on your most devoted smile. Conjure up every word in your vocabulary and try to start an actual conversation. Sing a song. Say “I love you”. Your goal is to make it as tough as possible for your parent to walk away.

LESSON SEVEN: THE LAST CHANCE HURRAH
If your parent picks you up to place you in your crib, your stalling minutes are numbered. You can try to make a break for it— arch your back, kick your legs, protest, etc. But the way I see it, you’ve got two options— lie down and accept the inevitable or scream their name as they walk out the door.

My suggestion is not to fight it. You’ve done excellent work and there’s always room for improvement tomorrow.

Sleep tight, class!

25 Ways You Know You’re a Parent to a Toddler

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two kids sisters play together indoors

1. Someone steps on your breast by mistake.

2. Your slipper is taken off and shoved into your face while you (continue to) have breakfast.

3. There is an email sitting in your inbox titled Head Lice.

4. Things like “I wish I could have a trunk like an elephant” are being said and they don’t seem all that strange.

5. Things like: “you generally shouldn’t put things in your butt. It’s a rule” are also being said.

6. There is something called an Exersaucer in the middle of your living room.

7. There’s an underwear-less 3 year old boy face down in the Exersaucer. He is yelling “help, I’m stuck on a cliff’” while in the background there is relentless hysterical infant crying.

8. Someone is conversing with you while you are sleeping.

9. Someone is conversing with you while you brush your teeth.

10. Someone is conversing with you while you are peeing and expects you to play hide and seek at the same time.

11. You’re in bed with your eyes closed and fought too hard for this that you’re not opening your eyes, even if it means letting someone walk on your rib cage, step on your head, pluck your hair out, block your airways and repeatedly respond to the question “mommy, did it tick yet?”

12. You never get to drink a cup of tea/coffee while it’s still warm.

13. You never get to finish that cup of tea/coffee, ever.

14. There’s a random high heeled shoe, an egg beater a Viking’s helmet, and a swim board on your bathroom floor.

15. You feel strangely nostalgic as you notice the high heeled shoe.

16. You consider a trip to IKEA with your husband to replace a mattress a date.

17. You wear your high heels for the first time in months and a new totally rocking faux fur vest. There’s a big Charlie Brown sticker dangling from the faux fur you’re wearing for the very first time.

18. You wake up at 7:20am. You lucky dawg!

19. You can’t name a song by Florence and the Machine or One Direction but the Excesaucer tunes are looping in your head.

20. Losing a favorite teddy is your worst nightmare. I apologize, bad choice of words. Losing a favorite teddy is a nuclear holocaust.

21. You get excited when you see a garbage truck.

22. You have to stop yourself from saying fighted, eated and breaked.

23. There are no more mid-day sweet tooth indulgences. If it’s a real emergency and you just NEED to eat your chocolate cake right now before something really bad happens, you’ll hide like the criminal that you are, so no child knows you eated it.

24. This is what a phone conversation with a friend sounds like:
Hey friend, (Yes, 3 Year Old, I’m boiling the water for your hot chocolate. Warm chocolate, sorry). Yes, friend, sorry, I’m with you now, go ahead. (Yes, 3 Year Old, I’m still boiling the water for your warm chocolate. 3 Year Old, 3 Year Old, don’t do this, you’re gonna fall!) Sorry, friend. (Oh, wow, awesome!) Sorry, yes, talk to me, I’m listening, I can talk and listen at the same time.

25. You’re at home, headed toward the kitchen. You step on something and it either starts playing music, lights up or says caterpillar power! You pick it up and put it back in its place even though you’re fully aware you’ll be tripping on it again in 10 minutes.

Having a Toddler is Like Living in Poltergeist

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Why Having a Toddler is Like Living in Poltergeist

10. Items reappear out of place mere seconds after you’ve put them away.

9. In the dark, you sense an unwelcome presence in your room.

8. You frequently resist the urge to run screaming from your own home.

7. You’re never really alone.

6. You can’t escape the voices calling your name.

5. You could have sworn you just turned that light off.

4. The TV has more power over your child than you do.

3. You’re often terrified by what you find under the bed.

2. A very small person keeps telling you what to do, and strangely, you keep listening.

1. You know that the only way you’ll get any peace is a hotel room clear across town.

Sleepless in Toddlerville

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toddler-sleep

People warn you about the exhaustion that comes with having a newborn.  “Omigod, you’d better get your sleep now because you’ll never get to sleep again once that baby comes!” they cackle knowingly.  And, despite wanting to kick them with your swollen feet, you know those know-it-alls are right.  So you spend your nine(ish) months of pregnancy steeling yourself for the sleepless nights and searching the online mom forums for helpful advice, such as where you can invest in a Red Bull I.V. drip.  Then you pop that kid out – yes, that’s exactly how it happens: POP! – and, as you hold your beautiful alien-like baby for the first time, she slowly opens her eyes, looks up at you and smirks, “I hope you have no intention of sleeping at night for the next six months, woman.”

At least that’s how I translated “WAAAAAAHHHHHH!”

Which is precisely how things went with our firstborn, Miss Skye.  She rarely slept through the next for the first six months, but that was okay; I was prepared to handle my infant’s unpredictable sleeping habits, having done my due diligence on credible baby sites such as Yahoo! Answers and Jodie Sweetin’s baby blog, and was somehow able to power through my exhaustion, thanks to NMA (no, not the National Meat Association… New Mom Adrenaline).  In fact, the exhaustion was a badge of honor when I was a brand-spankin’-new mom.  I boasted about my lack of sleep on Facebook, knowing others moms would empathize – not to brag, but I garnered a personal record of 51 “Likes” for my clever post-baby status update:  “YAWN” – and worked the bags under my eyes like they were the latest, trendiest accessory (which they kind of are here in Los Angeles, land o’ endless stream of celebrity babies).

Then, just when I started to hit a wall, Miss Skye generously ended my near-misery.  My husband and I didn’t do anything special to settle her into a better routine, such as setting rigid schedules or letting her “cry it out” or adding a shot of Jack Daniels to her bottle.  She simply started sleeping through the night – from 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. (can I get a “hallelujah”?) – when she turned six months old.   Now two-and-a-half years old, Miss Skye is still a champion sleeper who considers early mornings even more offensive than the pairing of “Kimye.”  Because this was the only experience I had, I assumed most all kids grew out of their vampiric sleep schedules by the time they were six months old.  “Ha, haaaaa!  Piece of cake,” I crowed to myself, thankful I never dropped any money on a Red Bull I.V. drip.  (They were backordered.)

Then I had my son.

More than a year later, and that boy continues to wake up every three-to-four hours with no sign of relief in sight.  People warn you about the exhaustion that comes with having a newborn – why does nobody warn you about the mind-numbing, unable-to-remember-your-own-name-let-alone-remember-to-put-pants-on exhaustion that comes with kids who refuse to sleep for AN ENTIRE YEAR (AND BEYOND)?  The reserves of my New Mom Adrenaline have been drained, my badge of honor has been revoked and my brain has since been replaced with a bowl of oatmeal.  There is nothing cool about being the mother of a one-year-old who still refuses to sleep at night and no special “Cranky Moms of Older Babies Who Are Bad Sleepers” clubs on BabyCenter.com; when I posted “Tired” on Facebook the other day, I received one measly response:  WAKE UP!

Thanks for your support, Mom.

Speaking of my mother, I was sharing my tale of woe with her the other day and she said, “Well, YOU didn’t sleep until you were three years old.”  Chilling words, we can all agree, perhaps even more frightening than when my husband says, “Uh-oh.  It’s all the way up the baby’s back.”  So I asked Mom how she coped with the exhaustion, to which she responded:

“How the hell should I know?  You left the house seventeen years ago and I’m STILL catching up on my sleep.”

Maybe I should go check on the status of that I.V. drip, after all.

My Kids Will Eat Anything: Confessions of a Once Prideful Mom

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baby-baby-food

The farmers’ market was mobbed, and I was in a hurry. With the dollar bills in my hand, only one customer stood between me and paying for my dozen grass fed organic free range eggs. But the woman in front of me couldn’t stop adding things to her order.

“I WANT IT!” her toddler demanded from his perch on her hip. He jabbed his finger at the multicolored carrots. The woman smiled like a starlet and handed the carrots to the sweaty teen behind the table. “MINE!” the little boy said once again, this time in reference to some pink fingerling potatoes.

“How can you say no?” she gushed, as the line behind her only grew longer “to a toddler who only wants his vegetables?” The tyrannical tyke next demanded some cranberry beans, and my irritation tripled. Not only was I short on time, but her smug, theatrical tone made me cringe.

You see, I’m afraid I had once affected that same smug tone. And I really don’t care to be reminded of it.

I have two goofy sons, who are now 6 and 8, who will eat—and always have eaten—everything. When that book came out—the one about hiding spinach in brownies—I was dumbstruck. Because my kids eat spinach by the truckload. Raw or cooked. They eat broccoli, beans, squash and kale. One of them will only eat beets hot, not cold. But I try not to hold it against him.

And yes, I have succumbed to the delight of watching other adults’ eyes pop in surprise. At our neighborhood Italian restaurant, my six year-old is known as “that kid who wants extra spinach on his.” At a very upscale Japanese restaurant we visited on vacation last spring, the young server was stunned to hear my children order ikura sushi and tako—salmon eggs and octopus. “I didn’t eat that until I was an adult!” she gasped. “And I’m Asian!”

Sometimes people’s reactions make me think that it must be really bad out there. “You’re the first kid to order the veal medallions in fennel and lemon butter sauce,” a waitress said recently, to which I could only say “really?” Because that dish is just meat and potatoes.

For a few years, I was even naïve enough to take credit for their gastronomic fearlessness. It’s my adventurous spirit, I wanted to believe. It’s my relaxed attitude! It’s because I put a vegetable on the table every night. It’s because have never served chicken fingers at home, or macaroni and cheese from a box.

I am such a great mom, right?

Cue the laugh track.

World, I am sorry. I now understand how that line of thinking backfires. If all their behavior were modeled on mine, dear reader, then you’d have to assume that I also pick my nose and use my tee shirt as a napkin.

So, if not from my excellent parenting, then from whence do their adventurous palates spring? It’s likely just the peculiar alchemy of birth order and our own personalities: take one laid-back older child, add a little brother with something to prove, and season with an adventurous father. Somehow, at our table, it’s just not cool to be a food wimp.

An even better theory is that they eat adventurously because early on I prohibited it. I was a nervous new mother, doing everything by the book. Baby’s first meal should be exactly one tablespoon of rice cereal mixed with breast milk; feed in 1/8 teaspoon increments and watch for the debilitating allergic reaction.

Don’t worry, I’m over it now. But because of my caution, we never urged our boys to taste oysters and mussels (favorites of my now 8yo) in the high chair. Instead, my attitude was: “no! You can’t possibly want that! You’re the baby! You’ll choke! Have some more of this pureed slime from a jar.”

Living in New York City, we at sushi. A lot. We always put the cooked dishes in front of our toddler—a little teriyaki chicken, or avocado maki. But it didn’t take long for the little tyke to notice that daddy’s chopsticks held something different. So he pointed at the mackerel sashimi, and daddy came through.

It’s reverse psychology, baby. Which is, of course, impossible to pull off unless you don’t know you’re doing it. I found myself sheepishly inquiring of the pediatrician whether it was alright for toddlers to eat raw fish. This being Manhattan, he shrugged and told us his children ate sushi all the time.

So, as a result of parental blundering, I enjoy freedom from mealtime battles. But there are drawbacks. If you have adventurous gourmet eaters, they’re going to reject the ordinary food eventually. Remember all that sushi? For a year or so my kids stopped eating cooked fish. This was agonizing, because fish is healthy, and I’m no sushi chef. Toddlers eating expensive restaurant sushi is cute. Two growing school-aged boys wolfing down sushi after a soccer double header is a pricey splurge. And then there’s the snob factor. Imagine your round-faced three year old looking up at an overworked waitress in a diner somewhere off the highway and asking her “what are the specials?”

Sometimes, it just isn’t cute. Not at all.

But because I’ve had it easy at the dinner table, there are certain vantages I can see. When one of my kids says he doesn’t like something, you can bet I don’t say a word. It isn’t that I have terrific restraint, it’s just that I really don’t care. If a kid who eats rutabaga and salmon Provencal and split pea soup and stuffed peppers informs you that today he doesn’t like the capers in the pasta sauce, color me underwhelmed.

I can’t tell you how to have adventurous eaters, because I realize I don’t deserve credit for the two I have. But what I can offer you is the first-hand knowledge that not talking about eating your vegetables is really nice.

So I hereby give you permission, the next time you’re having one of those moments, to just let it go. Let’s say you’ve ordered Chinese because sometimes your three year old really grooves on chicken & broccoli, and he hasn’t eaten anything green in weeks except for a lime popsicle, yet tonight he won’t touch it. This time, I want you to close your eyes and imagine that he usually eats like a Michelin rated French chef. Pretend that just yesterday he polished off fresh root vegetables dipped in spicy hummus, miso soup with tofu and bean shoots in sesame oil.

I insist that you take the night off from caring. Pass your child that bag of weird little fried noodles that the restaurant threw in as an afterthought, and let him dine on those. As for the chicken and broccoli? Say: “more for me!” and pour yourself a glass of wine. Enjoy the truce. And you never know—perhaps your silence will turn the tide.

10 Must-Know Facts About Toddlers

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toddler

Rejoice parents! You now have toddlers, those bundles of budding humanity. Constant whining has replaced that urgent baby cry. They mostly sleep through the night these days, but when they don’t it’s no longer because they need a good burping or a diaper change. Toddlers have needs and desires that, even when addressed directly and precisely to the letter of their demands, are all wrong you dumb cow.

1. If your baby is a thumb-sucker (read: self-soother) you’ll rejoice until you one day realize that you can take away the pacifier but the kid carries that thumb everywhere.

2. If your baby is a pacifier baby, you will wait too long to take it away and convincing Susie that the baby ducklings at the pond need all her pacis will elicit the same reaction from her that beating ponies with puppies would.

3. Handing a toddler a broken cookie is like handing her a tantrum grenade.

4. So his shoes are on the wrong feet. Deal with it. You have a bigger battle ahead over the sleeveless top and dirty training pants he insists on wearing to Caregiver and Me Music Class in February.

5. You’re all ready to go to that doctor’s appointment, right? Wrong. Junior took a pit stop in the splash and play fun room otherwise known as the hall bath. And look, your car keys don’t float!

6. Parents of toddlers are to mental health professionals what year-end bonuses are to salesmen.

7. Even if the restaurant does have highchairs and booster seats, resist the urge to dine out with your toddler. You’ve heard the phrase like oil and water? Like IHOP and toddlers.

8. Christ was tested in the desert by Satan. You will be tested in the grocery store by a preschooler. You will discover that you are not Christ.

9. Young children love to play in the bath unless they are actually dirty.

10. Because toddlers throw all their food on the floor, animal shelters are able to unload dogs on young families.