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Thursday, June 25, 2015

When toddlers try to be "helpful": A tale of woe

Audrey is at that age where she wants to be independent and help me do things. She doesn't just want to sit there like a baby and have things done FOR her; she wants to actively participate and assist me in whatever it is that I am doing.

This is disastrous 90% of the time.

Her attempts at helping me have included:

Sharing Milk

Every morning, I get Audrey a sippy cup full of milk to drink, and then I sit on the floor with her to drink my Slim Fast shake and we enjoy our morning milks.

And every morning, Audrey decides that she needs to "help" everyone else get their proper nutrition by feeding them milk from her cup, just like how she was fed bottles when she was a baby.

She has shoved her straw into my mouth on numerous occasions. She has put the straw into the top of my own bottle of milk and dumped milk from her cup into mine. She has shoved the straw into Elmo's mouth, filling it with milk that I then had to race to dry up before it could soak into the fabric and give it that delightful 'old rancid milk' odor that toddlers are so famous for.

"Elmo milk!"

I even caught her shoving the straw from her cup into the hole of my acoustic guitar.

My guitar is not thirsty, Audrey. My guitar does not require milk. Please do not pour milk into my guitar.

Please. Don't.

Applying lotion after the bath

Audrey has very sensitive skin and is prone to outbreaks of eczema, so we have to slather her with expensive and thick Cetaphil cream after her bath every night. We have been doing this for almost a year now, so she is used to the routine.

Which of course means that she wants to help.

It was fine when the tub of cream was running low, so she could dig around in there as much as she wanted and only come out with a bit of cream on each finger. But then the tub finally ran out and I had to open a brand new one.

Mmmm, look at all that cream. Makes me want to shove my entire hand in there until I reach the bottom of the container!

Now, she reaches in there and comes back with massive globs of cream -- a whole fistful of it. Like $3 of cream in one grab.

And then she often tries to put it in her hair. You know, the hair that I just finished washing in the bath.

Last night she decided to put it all on her toes. A $3 giant blob of cream between her toes.

Kill me now.

Unloading the dishwasher

Audrey ALWAYS wants to help me unload the dishwasher. Sometimes, this is super cute and involves her handing me forks one at a time while saying "thank you!" after each one.

Other times, this involves her wrestling the heavy porcelain plates out of the rack and then trying to carry them across the kitchen without dropping them.

Or it involves her pulling out all of her sippy cup parts and inventorying them carefully by spreading them all over the kitchen floor and getting angry when I try to cross through her work zone.

Or it involves her deciding that we are done, pushing the drawer back into the dishwasher and closing it with a definitive slam.

Or it involves her assuming that the dishwasher is ALWAYS full of clean dishes, even when it's actually full of dirty dishes ... so she starts pulling dirty dishes out and carrying them around, perhaps trailing drips of foody water across the kitchen floor as she brings my old spaghetti bowl over to me as I sit on the toilet.

Thank you, Audrey. This is helpful.


Audrey learned about the garbage can -- the one that is kept in a cabinet under the sink -- long ago. But recently, I decided she was ready for the next level: the recycling bin.

We keep our recycling in a swing-top garbage pail in the kitchen, since it doesn't ever smell so it doesn't need to be hidden in a cabinet. I asked Audrey to throw an egg carton in the recycling, and showed her how to push it through the swing top lid. She seemed thrilled with this new responsibility.

Minutes later, she took the bottle of spray margarine out of the fridge while I was rooting around in there (say what you will, but that stuff is GREAT for corn on the cob) and threw it directly into the recycling bin.

I guess we were done with it. :-/

Brushing her teeth

Audrey sucks at brushing her own teeth. There, I said it. She does not have the skills necessary to do a good job.

However, she is also totally unwilling to just sit quietly and open her mouth to let me brush them. So instead, we play this game where I get her to open her mouth and then I frantically brush as many teeth as possible in the few seconds she allows me ... and then she takes the toothbrush from me and carries it around biting it and sucking all the toothpaste off it until she gets bored and throws it on the carpet.

It's a very effective system, clearly.

Feeding me dinner

We have started this new thing where we all eat dinner together as a family. Jesse and I get our plates ready at the same time as I prepare Audrey's dinner, and then we sit at the table while she sits in her high chair to eat. It's a lovely tradition and hopefully it lasts for many years.

The problem is, I eat VERY slowly. It's just something I do. And this means that oftentimes, everyone finishes before me.

Jesse eats Army-fast, so he takes care of getting Audrey her fruit dessert when she finishes her dinner and then cleaning up her face and hands when she's finished with everything. He then lifts her out of her high chair and puts her back on the ground, often when I still have a few bites left on my plate. (we don't leave her in the high chair because she gets bored and anxious as soon as she's done eating, and will squirm violently in a way that makes me think the high chair is about to topple)

So she comes over to me and stands next to my chair pouting and saying "up! up! up!" And I, like an overly indulgent dog owner, will lift her up onto my lap while I try to eat my final few bites.

But Audrey isn't here to watch. She is here to help.

She first rips my fork out of my hand.

And then she will do her best to spear whatever food is left on my plate.

And then she will do her best to aim the fork and the food towards my face.

No step in this process goes smoothly. None.

The fork misses; food sprays across the table. The food needed to be cut first, but Audrey just stabbed the whole thing. Audrey thinks that I share her love of condiments, so she bathes whatever she's managed to get on the fork in ketchup or barbecue sauce until it reaches a 1:1 food-to-condiment ratio.  And she misses my mouth every. single. time. By a mile.

You haven't lived until you've had a toddler shove a slab of mustard-slathered ham into your eyeball and then all up in your hair. Truly, you haven't.

I don't lift Audrey up onto my lap while I'm eating anymore.

But you know what? One time, I asked her to go get her jacket off the stairs, and she went and got her jacket off the stairs. So yeah ... she's not completely useless.

If I could just convince her that I'm perfectly capable of getting my own toilet paper in the bathroom and don't require 11 feet of it to wipe after peeing, we'd be in much better shape.

"Piss off, Mommy. I can bury my entire hand in the icing and sprinkles on top of this cupcake without any help from you."

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