This is my official pitch to the people at Oreo– Nora Taylor, age 2, for your consideration as Oreo spokestoddler.
I told her I’m leaving the room and she can’t eat the Oreo until I come back, and if she waits, she’ll get 2 Oreos. This video will be submitted with her college applications, because if Oreo doesn’t want her, I’m hoping at least the Ivy League will (college apps are done through social media now, right? I have to assume that’s the case).
And yes if I’m ranking hopes for my child’s future, it 100% goes
People keep asking me if I’ve made any new friends here in Westport. But listen guys, it’s always hard when you move to a new place. And even harder when there’s a global pandemic. And even HARDER when you’re the kind of person who uses the global pandemic as an excuse, when really it’s just that you’re awkward and you hate meeting new people and talking in general and doing stuff that isn’t on your couch or phone.
Regardless, this week I actually started to make some social headway.
During Nora’s farm class (shut up) I was chatting it up with a bunch of moms who seemed refreshingly normal. As we watched our kids chase roosters around the chicken coop (yeah I’m just as confused by my new life as you are), one mom commented that every time she leaves the class, her son’s socks, shoes, and ankles are caked in mud.
I nodded knowingly. It’s absolutely never not often that I feel like I have worthwhile mom advice to give, but for once, I had it and I owned it.
Me: “So, I had the same problem with Nora. I finally got smart and put her in tall rain boots for class. So only the boots get dirty. Then after class I take them off, put them in a plastic bag, and have a clean pair of sneakers for her in the car.”
Other Mom: “Oh my god brilliant! A clean pair of sneakers! I always have a change of clothes in the trunk, but it didn’t even occur to me to have clean sneakers!”
“Oh yeah, the clean sneakers are key,” I replied, while mentally collecting my parenting trophy.
Other Mom: “Seriously, why didn’t I think of clean sneakers? Every week I’m here chasing him around, making sure he doesn’t step in THAT, and bring THAT into my car.”
She pointed to a gigantic pile of caked mud and animal poop. Just a huge steaming pile of shit. A mountain, really. It was as if every animal on the farm– the sheep, the cows, the alpaca, even the lone Nubian goat– had made a pact to ONLY shit in that one designated spot.
And of course, at the exact moment we all turned to look at said shit-pile, Nora sauntered right on over to it.
But I wasn’t worried.
Other Mom: “Uh oh, watch out for your daughter!”
Me (laughing): “Nah, she’s fine. She’s just checking it out. As much as she loves stepping in a good rain puddle, she does NOT like things that are straight up gross.”
And as if right on cue, Nora then turned around, a complete 180, and walked as far away from the pile as possible.
Other Mom: “Wow, good for her! And good for you! You really know your kid!”
Me (admittedly smug): “Yeah, she’s pretty good about–“
And that’s when I heard the rushed pitter patter of little feet and swung back around to see Nora sprinting across the chicken coop with Forrest-Gump like determination– straight toward the steaming pile of shit.
It turned out she hadn’t walked away because she found it disgusting, she had walked away because she wanted to give herself A RUNNING START.
I yelled for her to stop, but she just waved her hand at me and screamed back, “IT’S OK MOM! I HAVE MY BOOTS! I CAN’T GET DIRTY!”
I flashed back to the conversation we had in the car on the way to the farm. She did not want to wear her boots. But I had explained, over and over, that it’s a good idea to wear the boots, because if she wears them she can step in mud and SHE WON’T GET DIRTY.THE BOOTS WILL PROTECT HER. This reasoning had made her very happy and compliant, and I had awarded myself approximately 785 gold parenting stars.
Before I could intercept, Nora completed her sprint and took an Olympic-style pole-vaulting leap into the fresh pile of animal dung. She soared through the air with the confidence of a superhero, armed with the certainty that her magic boots would act as a full-body protective cloak.
The entire farm watched in shocked silence as, upon landing, Nora’s feet gave out from under her, and her tiny little tod-bod sank into the dune, which completely enveloped her, quicksand style, in shit. Even the hairy, 500-pound hog, half asleep in a mud puddle, was repulsed.
As soon as Nora discovered that her magic boots had not performed their mommy-promised protective powers, the high-pitched, bloody-murder screams commenced.
While hyperventilating and snot-sobbing like me on election night 2016, she somehow managed to extricate herself from the dung mountain. She surveyed the lumpy streams of crap covering HER ENTIRE BODY– her shirt, her pants, her hands, her face. Everything drenched and dripping in feces.
She ran toward me, arms outstretched, hysterical, screaming, “MOMMY HELP MEEEEEEE!!!!!” She was clearly traumatized and desperately seeking solace, so I did what any parent would do in this situation.
I ran the fuck away from her.
She was covered in shit, you guys!!!
The pack of moms stared in disbelief as Nora chased me around the chicken coop and I literally hopped the fence to avoid her. One of them half heartedly offered a change of clothes, but I assured her “No no, that’s ok, thank you– I have clothes in the car, obviously. You’re not a mom unless you cart around a change of clothes, right?!” (casual laugh).
I had no change of clothes.
Keeping a good 5-foot distance ahead of her, I somehow managed to verbally coax Nora back to the car, where I promptly covered my hands in plastic bags and stripped her down naked right there on the grassy knoll. I then bathed her with baby wipes as she stood there screaming, her pale little wrinkled tush blowing in the 50-degree breeze. I should mention that we were parked roughly 30 feet from a gardening event attended by approximately 15 senior citizens, all of whom were watching this scene unfold. Plastic-bag-hands covered in shit, I waved.
After what seemed like an eternity, I finally got Nora decently clean, shoved her clothes in a garbage bag, and threw her in the car seat. She rode home buck naked and wailing.
Pretty much since Nora was born, she’s been completely attached to her pink bunny “lovey” (aka a “stuffed animal.” It’s just a goddamn stuffed animal. I don’t know why it gets a fancy name).
Eric and I are in constant fear of the day Bunny gets lost, because there is absolutely zero chance Nora will be able to sleep without it. You’d think we would have ordered a back-up replica of Bunny, but no. Instead we’ve just spent 2 years rolling the dice.
And last night we rolled a 3.
(That’s bad, right? Idk I don’t play dice games).
Bunny was nowhere to be found. We searched the entire house in a panic, tossing pillows, stripping beds, praying to gods we don’t believe in, accusing one another of foul play, threatening divorce, digging a bunker, considering suicide.
It got tense.
Eventually we gave up. Bunny was gone.
So I did what any mom would do in this desperate situation, and threw a Hail Mary– I attempted to substitute Bunny with a stuffed animal that looked NOTHING. LIKE. BUNNY.
Here’s a visual model of the swap I tried to pull off:
I gingerly handed the imposter to Nora, and shakily whispered, “Here you go sweetheart, how about this?” I then backed away ever so slowly, and prepared myself for her response:
Nora stared at Not-Bunny for a good 30 seconds, then stared back at me for another 10. She turned Not-Bunny upside down, then right side up again. She poked DeVito Doll right in the face a few times with her finger, presumably testing for texture. And then, with every fiber of her soul and at a dog-whistle octave, she screamed:
“BUNNY!!!!!! YOU FOUND IT MAMA!!!! IT’S BUNNY!!! I LOVE YOU BUNNY!!!!”
“I think people were surprised when Donald Trump won the election because usually the president is black. But when Kamala Harris wins, things will be normal again.”
— Kid, age 11, whose hopeful, raised-in-the-Obama-era innocence is giving me a reason to live right now so I’ll ignore how shockingly off-base he is regarding norms, and how swiftly and miserably he’s going to flunk U.S. History class.
My 5-year-old nephew and I are hanging out on the beach during our Outer Banks vacation….
Nephew: “Auntie Em, I’m gonna go to the White House. It would be so cool to live there, don’t you think?”
Me: “Meh. Not right now it wouldn’t be.”
Me: “Because you’d have to live there with Donald Trump.”
Nephew: “He lives there?”
Me: “Yes, and he’s the worst. He’s not a good person. He’s extremely selfish and rude and he has no respect for other people, especially women. So do me a favor– stay away from the White House until there’s someone respectable living in it, which will hopefully be the case come January. Until then, I think you should take a stand with your Auntie Em and stay far away from ANYTHING having to do with this president, who is nothing but a bully– because I know that you have a kind heart, just like I do.”
Later, my nephew’s nanny approaches me….
Nanny: “Did you say something to Tyler?”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Nanny: “I was going to take him to see the lighthouse in Corolla today and he was so excited, but now he’s yelling that he won’t go because a bad, selfish bully lives there, and he’s taking a stand with his Auntie Em.”
Since moving to the burbs, we’ve had issues with house flies, mainly because we are super bad at remembering to close the kitchen sliding door that leads to the deck. So naturally, we invested in a fly-swatter bulk pack (family style!) and are constantly running around the kitchen chasing flies, killing them, and then congratulating ourselves with a celebratory dance and a screamy notification to the whole house that “I KILLED THAT FUCKER!”
Nora watches all of this.
We really gotta start remembering that she’s there (for this reason and also, just like, in general.)
Because naturally, seeing this ritual in action then led her to believe that house flies are very scary and dangerous (necessitating the brutal killings and professionally choreographed victory dances). Therefore, whenever she’d see one, she’d scream, run away terrified, and yell “Mama, can you kill it?!!!”
It took some explaining to get her to see that flies are not dangerous and will not hurt her, so she doesn’t have to be afraid. Luckily, Nora is pretty smart for an almost-2-year-old, and before long, with some patience and gentle encouragement from me, she was able to see that house flies are not dangerous, they’re just annoying. Armed with this explanation, she was no longer terrified of them and started to say “Is ok, fly don’t hurt, is just annoying, Mama” whenever she’d spot one. She’d then waddle over to the table, grab the fly-swatter, and hand it over to me like the dutiful little partner-in-crime she is.
Yes, I will gladly accept my bouquet of parenting trophies.
Flash forward a few days. Nora and I are on the deck.
Nora: “Mama, what’s dat sound?”
Me: “That’s Uncle Jeremy blasting music in the kitchen.”
Nora: “Why he so loud, Mama?”
Me: “You’re right, he IS being loud. But that’s ok. It’s no big deal, it’s just a little annoying.”
Me: “Oh, man. I’m sorry to hear that. But you know what? I think everyone’s hanging on by a thread these days. I know I certainly am. It’s just becoming too much, you know? Waking up every morning and every day is pretty much the same, with very little to do to get our minds off the problems in the world right now. It certainly creates feelings of anxiety, wondering when and if any of this is ever going to get better. But just know you’re not alone in those feelings.”
Kid: “Wait what? I said I’m hanging out with Fred. My cat, Fred.”
Me: “Ok, so we’re going to do some fun math problems today, all involving ducks! Because I know how much you love birds. The questions are going to start off super easy, but they build off each other and become more challenging as we go.”
Me: “So first question– there are three ducks. Each duck is 1 foot in length. If the three ducks go swimming together in a line, beak to tail, how long is the duck-line?”
Kid: “Wait, so each duck is ONE foot long?”
Kid: “And there are THREE of them?”
Kid: “Ok let me think.” (starts whisper counting to himself, goes way past 3)
Me: “Woah woah, you’re already counting too high. There are only THREE ducks.”
Kid: “I know I know…” (keeps counting, now silently, but keeping track on fingers)
Me: “This is supposed to the super-easy first problem, it doesn’t really require finger counting.”
Kid: “I’ve almost got it, hold on.”
Me: “Ok I’m trying to help you but you’re not listen—”
Kid: “Shh shhh wait let me finish.”
Kid (finally): “15! The answer is 15 feet.” (crosses arms, super proud of self)
Me: “What? No. Not even close. There are only 3 ducks and they are each ONE foot!”
Kid: “Yeah but you gotta have 6 feet between each duck or they’ll all get corona.”