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!!!!”
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.”
We’re quarantining here at my parents’ house, having decided it was best to escape the dangers and claustrophobia of Corona-ridden NYC. We’ve finally gotten Nora to the point where she can toddle around here and not kill herself on the huge iron-rimmed coffee table, multiple stairs, and stacked shelves of glass.
Then my mom gave her a huge box of miscellaneous toys to play with. Nora was super excited when she dug through the legos and found these:
Me: “She’s good! She’s a very busy lady, running around everywhere, excited about everything. But also very headstrong. Like today at the kid gym she just lost it. She ended up accidentally kicking a little girl in the face because she was throwing so much of a fit, just totally losing her shit, screaming and crying.”
Therapist: “Is she ok?”
Me: “Yeah, yeah. She’s fine. She was over it in 10 seconds. She was just upset that she had to wait her turn to go on the swing. She really doesn’t get that concept of turn taking, and she just gets herself really worked up. But she’s totally fine, it’s all normal toddler stuff. Thank you for asking, though.”
Therapist: “I meant the kid she kicked in the face.”
Therapist: “The little girl Nora kicked in the face– is she ok?”
At the kiddie gym this morning, Nora was being particularly social and adorable, walking up to kids and giving high fives, sharing her blocks, hugging all the nannies, and giggling at everything. I sat in the corner with a random dad, both of us watching her make her rounds, when the dad turned to me:
Random Dad: “Ok, so I have to know– what’s your secret?!”
Me (laughing): “Honestly, I don’t have one! I don’t know how she got this amazing, friendly, adorable personality. It’s certainly not from me! She takes after my husband more, I think. He’s very outgoing. But I’ll take some credit because she’s with me most of the day, so I guess I must be doing something right?”
Random Dad: “Oh. I meant how’d you get that coffee in here? They never let me bring mine in.”