Sick Day (A Belated Mother’s Day)

He sits parked in his “rock rock chair” as the morning sunlight fades to noon and it begins to rain, again, for the 5th day in a row.

We haven’t left the house in 3 days, he and I.

I feel a bit stir crazy and a bit at peace all at once.

It’s nice to occasionally forgo the trouble of getting dressed.

I walk barefooted into the kitchen collecting granola crumbs as I go. Living with a toddler makes crumbs become a part of daily life.

I methodically count the cups of water as I pour them into the pot. Even though we are doing a CSA, we still have a bag of Bear Creek soup left that I am so thankful for. Though a more seasoned cook would not count the cups, my specialty of non-cooking allows me to find comfort in exact measurements and package directions.

As I count, measure and pour I think back to my own childhood. Days of fevers and coughs, breathing treatments and inhalers. I spent may days spewed out on the blue microfiber couch eating chicken noodle soup, watching tv, and soaking in the scent of White Shoulders perfume from my mom.

I don’t have to do this with him too often. Days of nothing and sick and chicken noodle soup. But today, a 101.5 degree fever keeps us home and leaves school and to do lists waiting.

I’m not sure I’m very good at it. My mom always knew how to comfort me and just the right remedies. Sick care is not my specialty.

I spent childhood in and out of hospitals, frequently missing school, always having an inhaler on hand and years of nightly breathing treatments. Severe asthma and allergies makes frequent sickness a part of life. As miserable as it was for me, I can’t fathom the toll it must have taken on my mother.

I am so thankful that, for the most part, our little guy is healthy. There are not many days spent on the couch with soup here.

I think about how thankful and in awe I am of my mom, who spent many hours cuddling a sick child, wringing wet wash cloths and spooning medicine in between caring for two more little ones and working night shifts at the hospital.

The soup finally takes boil on the stove and I survey the pile of dirty coffee cups decorating my counter top and laundry piled in the basket on top of the washer. Didn’t I just do dishes and laundry yesterday? I am so often bored by the monotony of my job description.

“Here you go, sweet boy,” I say as I place a bowl of soup on the coffee table for him. We are breaking the rules and eating in the living room to a background of Peter Rabbit.

“Mmm, soup!” He says as he stirs in his ice, his favorite method of quick cooling.

I cuddle up next to him and take a sip myself.

And then it came full circle, the cliche you always hear about, how you will never know your mother’s love for you until you have a child of your own.

For such a long time I’ve felt like this was just my journey, me finding my footing on the path of motherhood while my son teaches me what he needs. It’s taken me a long time to fall comfortably into this role, even though I know I’ve done the best I could since the beginning.

I know, intrinsically, that it is my mother who taught me everything I know about being a mother. How to care and love and comfort and sacrifice.

I watch my son spoon his soup slowly.

“Mommy, why do you always look at me and smile?”

I continued my gaze, unaware that I was softly smiling. “I just love you very much.”

And I’m so thankful for the person that gave me that gift.


Happy Belated Mother’s Day to the amazing woman I’m lucky enough to call my Mom.


My Mom, Noah and I at the White House for a Friday Night Mother's Day dinner

My Mom, Noah and I at the White House for a Friday Night Mother’s Day dinner


My son and I at the Botanical Gardens on Mother's Day

My son and I at the Botanical Gardens on Mother’s Day


My very favorite Mother's Day Gift: a card written by my 3 year old

My very favorite Mother’s Day Gift: a card written by my 3 year old




I am SuperMom

I would like to officially nominate myself for SuperMom. It may be a fake contest, but I think I have a good chance of winning.

I’ve done a lot of SuperMom stuff before, like all of the things I do all of the time while my husband works 80 work weeks and we don’t have family around, or our disaster move to Richmond where I drove all the way up with a 9 month old and two cats by myself, or even the time I nursed while going to the bathroom, because hey, babies have to eat, even if it’s inconvenient.

Last week was my son’s Spring Break, and it was also my aunt’s wedding weekend. My brother also got tickets to see Conan O’Brien (the true love of my life) filming in Atlanta, so the stars aligned and a week long trip to Georgia was planned.

Except that my husband could not come.

On Tuesday, I packed up my son and I and drove the trip from Richmond, VA to Atlanta, GA by myself with a toddler. The 8 1/2 hour drive took 10 hours and I only got mad at my son once, so I consider it a great success. Enter SuperMom status.

On Wednesday, my brother and I spent all day in Atlanta and got front row seats to see Conan, which was pretty much the best day of my life, and my son stayed with my husband’s parents. I had dinner at my in-laws Wednesday night and then crashed at my mom’s.

Thursday was thankfully a laid back day with my mom, and then we geared up to drive 3 more hours to Huntsville, AL on Friday for the wedding weekend.

My son is three years old. This is the 5th (!) wedding he has been to in his life, and all of them have been 5 to 10 hours away from us. My husband has only attended 2 out of 5. It is very stressful to drag toddlers to weddings, let alone do it 5 times in three years, most of those times without your spouse. Enter SuperMom status again.

We survived the rehearsal dinner and wedding and set out to make the 12 hour drive home to Richmond, VA from Huntsville, AL on Sunday morning. Thankfully, my sister and brother-in-law were riding back with us that time since they had to head north to Washington, DC. I could not have made the trip back without them, because my son kept saying he had a hurt tummy and we had to stop twice for him to go to the bathroom with diarrhea and once after he projectile vomited all over himself, the car seat, and the back of my car.

I may be a contender for SuperMom, but I do not do vomit. It’s truly the one thing I can not handle. Thank goodness for my brother-in-law who helped me clean it up and my sister who calmly drove and stopped for our potty runs and vomit clean ups.

We made it home at 11:00 Sunday night, and after a day of much needed laziness yesterday, we entered back into the real world today. I have to tell you, I’m still not completely caught up.

What super thing have you done lately?

Easter 2013

Occasionally, when my husband’s schedule allows it, we like to go big for holidays. Last year we (kind of randomly) went big for St. Patrick’s Day. This year (more appropriately) we went big for Easter.

This Easter weekend, we were able to have a rare family night Friday night which we used to go out for Mexican dinner and clean the house together to get ready for the Easter bunny! The Easter bunny was coming Friday night because my husband had to work a night shift Saturday. Early Saturday morning we woke up to find the fun goodies left by the Easter bunny, and then we headed to a local park that does a large Easter egg hunt every year. We got there in time to have a wonderful egg hunt, play in the park, and enjoy the activities like the music, moon bounce  and slide. We even had a food truck lunch.

After that we experienced yet another novelty in our lives; the chance to go to the mall together. We racked up on new shoes for the boys and then headed home for a much needed family nap. After the hubs headed off to work the toddler and I enjoyed a quiet evening and went to bed.

Sunday morning the hubs was still at work and my son and I had to wake up extra extra early so I could be at choir rehearsal. My sweet little guy sat and watched our entire rehearsal before I dropped him off at Sunday school and sang through two church services. My husband met us at church and then we all headed over to a friend’s house for a wonderful afternoon of Easter dinner and fun.

And without further ado, I present to you the cutest little toddler ever in his Easter best.

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Happy Easter!




The Preschool Decision

Ever since my son’s preschool conference in January, I have been plagued with making a preschool decision.


For some reason, this decision seems monumentally hard.


I have finally succeeded in figuring out why…this is the first parenting decision I’ve had to think about.


Weird, right? From the time we find out we are pregnant we have to make parenting decisions. Doctors, birth plans, breast or bottle, crib or in your bed, stay at home or work, decisions, decisions, decisions.


The thing for me is, I already knew all of that stuff. I knew I wanted a natural birth (which didn’t happen…I wound up with a c-section.) I knew I wanted to breastfeed and have the baby in the bed with me and do baby wearing instead of car seat carrying. I knew I wanted to be a stay at home mom and I knew with 100 percent certainty that those were the RIGHT decisions FOR US. And they absolutely were.


When my son turned two I wanted him to start preschool a couple days a week. We found a preschool we loved and even though I had separation anxiety in the beginning, I knew it was a good choice. My son had an excellent year and I adore his first two teachers so much.


Then this year he is having kind of an off year in preschool, which made me wonder if his current preschool is still the right choice. He will also be old enough to start the Virginia Preschool Initiative Program this fall, so I wonder if we should take advantage of that resource. After a speech screening we also discovered that he needs speech for slight articulation issues which we have been paying $55 per half hour for once a week. He is not eligible for free services through the school system because his articulation is not severe enough to affect his development. So then enters a financial issue that we can not afford to continue private speech therapy AND next year’s preschool tuition. I am also the Parent Council Chair at my son’s school this year which has turned out to be a huge job.


Enter stressed out indecisive Mommy.


I think I’m having a hard time separating my frustration with Parent Council duties and my son’s experience at the school. Taking a step back, I realize that I do need to make the separation. I really do not like working with some of the Board members at the school, but if I was just a “regular parent” I would no longer have those responsibilities.
Our first year with his two year old teachers was so amazing, and unfortunately for whatever reason this year  has not felt that way. Part of it is that my guy is more of a “terrible threes than terrible twos” and part of it is that their teaching style seems to be much more supervisory rather than hands on. I also think the class size is too large and other parents have had a difficult time this year too, which is unfortunate. Also each year the tuition rises but unfortunately our budget does not.
BUT, my son still loves his peer group at his current school. He has been with the same kids since he was two years old. Taking a step back, I realize that part of what is making my Parent Council job so difficult is that I’m working so hard because I really do believe in this school and think it’s great. It’s felt right since the first time I toured it and I hate to take him and I away from an environment we’ve both become invested in. I believe his school experience would be teacher and peer dependent no matter what school he went to and know more about the teachers for next year at his current school than I do about ones in a new environment. If he goes back to his current school next year his hours would be Monday-Thursday 9-12, a schedule I feel good about.
The publicly funded (and FREE) Virginia Preschool Initiative program was developed for lower income schools and “at risk” kids, but is still an opportunity for a free preschool program at our local elementary school. The school down the street from us is really working hard to recruit new students and make it a true neighborhood school rather than all of the “privileged families” sending kids to private schools. My concerns are that the school day would be Monday-Friday 8-2 and what he would be exposed to in a lower socio-economic peer group. My son is the youngest in his class, and I worry that a full time schedule like that might be too much for him. Selfishly, I’m not sure I’m ready for him to be gone all day every day. Financially, it’s a great option. Our neighborhood school has this whole parent movement going on right now which is great, but I am nervous about my guy being in the guinea pig class for the new movement of changing the demographics of this school.
I also toured the Preschool Learning center, an entire elementary school devoted to the VPI program. It’s a great concept to have an entire elementary school of 4 and 5 year olds, but I did not feel at home during the tour. I think it was just too big, and it’s hours were Monday-Friday 9-3. With a 15-20 minute drive to get over there, I feel like I would just never get time with my little guy.
I have also looked at other private schools that would be less expensive for us next year, and even one that offers 5 day fours for less than what our current school offers 4 day fours. An extra day for less money sounds great, but I find myself still drawn to our current school because I do believe that in the midst of all of the drama it’s a good school.  And I do wonder about the consequences of changing my son’s  environment for pre-k, then again for Kindergarten, and then again when we most likely will move after my husband completes his residency.
Another factor to consider is our impending move. My husband will complete his residency in the summer of 2014, so we will definitely be in Richmond for one more year. He has applied to a fellowship that would allow us to be here through the summer of 2015, but we do not know if he’s been accepted yet. In Georgia, where we grew up and will most likely be moving back to, the cut off for school is September 1st. In Virginia, the school cut off is September 30th. So here, our son is the very youngest in his class. In Georgia time, he would not be old enough to start pre-K yet, and he will be the very oldest when he does start school there. This is another reason why I’m not sure that going forward with full time school is a good choice at this point.
The other component is speech. After a speech assessment with a private company, they said he needed private speech which we have been doing on Fridays for 30 minutes at $55 per half hour (!) I took him for a screening through the Richmond school system where he could get services for free, but he does not qualify for school services because his articulation issue is not affecting his development, communication, or comprehension. We can definitely not afford the cost of weekly speech and private preschool tuition. I wonder how much he really needs this private speech since the school system doesn’t think it’s a very severe problem.
We are not an older established family like a lot of the families at our current private preschool. We are still at the working our way up point and though tuition increases each year, our budget does not. So between finances, the option for a free state funded pre-k program, and a frustrating year, I’m just not sure what to do.
So that’s where I am now. In between choices and just feeling like this decision is so big because I don’t KNOW the right choice like I did with all of the other parenting decisions.
So many people have talked to me about this from my family to sweet blogging friends on Facebook and Twitter, my friends, and even my son’s sweet first teacher.
My husband is on board with the VPI program because it’s free and he thinks our son might do well with a longer school day and more structure. I genuinely don’t know what would be the best for our son.
I guess I’m writing this post not so much for advice, but for my own processing and to let you all in on the craziness that goes on in my mind.
And now I am going to lay it to rest for a week, because it’s Easter and next week is Spring Break! It couldn’t come at a better time. Happy Easter!

The Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I have been reluctant to tell you this story, because I like to think this is a sweet blog. Sure, there are times when I tell you about my son’s love of his boy parts and talk about the tough stuff in my life, but mostly this blog is about how sweet my son is. Because he is. Except when he isn’t.

Two Fridays ago (I know that was a lifetime ago, but I was in an opera, had family in town, am dealing with Parent Council stuff, and basically trying not to drown in laundry, so bare with me) my son and I had a terrible, no good, very bad day. The kind of day that resulted in my husband coming home from work to find me face down on our bed crying while the toddler was screaming and throwing the entire contents of his bedroom into the upstairs hallway. Why? I will start from the beginning.

I am in the middle of an agonizing (to me) pre-school decision and have been touring schools. On this particular day, my son and I had a pre-school tour. That actually went really well, though I was the only mother there who had not pre-arranged a babysitter, and instead dragged a 3 year old through the halls. Oops. I was then also the mom who stayed to talk to the other moms to see what they thought. Another oops with a restless toddler in tow.

After our pretty successful tour, my son and I went to a newly opened coffee shop across the street. We checked out the new place, ordered some drinks, and were getting ready to leave. At this point the toddler had apparently reached his limit, so he was being restless and bumping the small trash can by the check out with his legs. Not knocking it over, just scooting it. He wasn’t being an angel, but I didn’t think he was being terrible. I was waiting while the cashier tried to ring me up in the new computer system, and it was taking just a minute. The woman in line behind me picked up the trashcan. Kinda weird, but if that’s your thing, go for it. Finally we were making progress with the new computer to ring up my order and another one of the workers went over to the lady to assist with her weird trash can accessory. She pointedly looked at me and said, “Well her son was knocking it over and since SHE wasn’t doing anything about it I thought I’d hold it until they leave so you won’t have a mess on your hands.”

Um, what? And then, just to emphasize her point, my son did actually start knocking over some of the bagged coffee display. I promptly put them back and we left the store as quickly as possible. I am not a confrontational person, and I was mortified to tears on the way home. Was he really being that bad? Am I a terrible mother? I know he wasn’t being perfect but I really don’t think he was being so awful that it was cause for that woman to be rude and call me out in front of the entire coffee shop. When he actually knocked something over I picked it up, but you know what lady? Three year olds are wiggly. And sometimes they do stuff like scoot trash cans. And sometimes you should not do stuff like blatantly embarrass a young mom just trying to get some freakin coffee.

I didn’t know if I should be mad at myself, the lady, or my son, so I was just mad at everyone. I fixed my son lunch which he then refused to eat and at some point in our brief moment at home he spilled his milk all over the dining room floor and used my dry clean only blue pea coat to hide it. Not even clean it, just cover it. No lunch, a quickly disintegrating day and one time out later, and unfortunately we had to rush back out the door because we had a speech appointment. It was the day that never ended, he was tired, and my mood was already shot. And that night was the opening night of my opera.

We made it to speech somewhat unscathed, and I sat in the hallway while my son worked on articulating sounds. The speech teacher came out to talk to me and then my son lost his marbles. First, you must know about the squishy bugs. At the speech place there are these squishy bugs. Just some pretend bugs made of of plastic that can stretch and are squishy. My son discovered them at his first speech session and liked them, but we convinced him to put them away. This day when he re-discovered them, he wanted to take them home. After as many patient “Please put them backs” as I could muster and a few from his speech teacher, I calmly told my son, “It is time to leave now. I will ask you nicely one more time to put them away or Mommy will have to take them from you.” I was met with a screaming “NO” and my son ran across the hall to the other classroom and got under the table. There was another child waiting for speech and we really did have to go. Ten minutes of arguing over squishy bugs was about nine minutes too long. I frustratingly dragged my child out from under the table, had to forcefully remove the squishy bugs from his hand, and haul him out of the speech place under my arm while also lugging his jacket, bag, my purse, and his speech homework. To further express his frustration, my son decided to yell “DAMN IT” repeatedly at the top of his lungs while flailing his arms and legs about.

Man handling a flailing, red faced, screaming toddler who has the words “DAMN IT” coming out of his mouth like a broken record while you navigate yourself out of a populated office building is just as fun as you would imagine it would be. Except worse.

After both of us fuming on the way home and ignoring each other, we finally reached the driveway. Where my son promptly fell asleep. Not one to mess with a good thing, I sat in the car and played on my phone until he woke up. Maybe this would be the starting over point.

When he did wake up, he immediately starting yelling and fussing. Start over we did not.

I tried to be sweet and patient again so we could get out of the car and go inside. He did not want me to carry him. He did not want to walk. He did not want to get out of the car. He did not want to stay in the car. He did not want to be mistaken in any way, shape, or form as a sane person.

I was at the very end of my rope and after a few attempts at nice I just lost my patience. I was not going to argue with a toddler about getting out of the car and walking the 10 steps it takes to get into our house. I put that in the ridiculous category, and after he yelled at the top his lungs “NO” at my last request for him to come out of the car, I said “fine” and shut the door and left him there. I walked inside, put down all of our bags and recomposed myself to go outside where my son was pounding on the windows as though he had been locked in prison. We finally managed to come inside and went straight upstairs where I told my out of control toddler that he needed to go to his room until he could adjust his attitude.

That was met with much more yelling, screaming, and now the added bonus of throwing toys. I just couldn’t handle any more. I was so tired of being yelled at and exhausted and embarrassed. I went into my room and closed the door, laid face down on the bed and starting crying. The toddler decided that in order to get my attention he would throw all of his toys out into the hallway, and then started on his furniture. I knew what was happening, but I was torn between addressing the situation and encountering more fighting, or ignoring his behavior because I did not want to reward his ridiculousness with my attention. I choose the later and by the time my husband got home from work my son had pulled all of his toys, including toy containers, his ottoman, and his oscillating fan into the hallway and was still screaming at the top of his lungs.

Thank goodness my husband came home to diffuse the situation. He dealt with the toddler first and then came to me, where I explosively explained every detail of our entire day to him. What a thing to come home to, huh? Apparently my opening line was, “Your son is an asshole” and though I’m not really a cuss-er (aside from the occasional use of the word damn it which my son has obviously picked up) and don’t remember saying that, this was a memorable moment for my husband.

The husband saved the day, made the toddler clean up the hallway, apologize to me, and stop screaming. He let me rest for an hour before I had to leave for my opera and even straightened up the living room a little. This is our new romance.

That night my husband and son came and watched my opera and my three year old sat through an entire performance and even came backstage with me after it was over. We’ve even had some pretty amazing days together in the past two weeks.

But that terrible, no good, very bad day? Was just that. I’m telling you, if living with a teenager is as hard as living with a three year old, I’m not sure I will survive it.


Blended Pieces on Moonfrye

“The sun was peeking through the clouds giving slight highlights to our morning as we traced the familiar steps to the car.

My son climbed into his almost too small car seat. I remember when he seemed so small in it and though he will always be my little, he sees himself as big.

I like these morning rides, these insights into his toddler mind as he asks me questions or tells me stories.

The engine reluctantly warmed itself to start in the cold as I adjusted the heat and put on the silly songs CD my son likes to listen to during our drives to school.

A rushed pulling out of the driveway left us headed to school just a few minutes late, because try as we might we can never make it out of the house exactly on time.

As I turned on to the next street I slowed as a kitten ran across the road.

“Oh, no, get out of the road little kitty!” I exclaimed.

“Why, Mommy?”

“I just saw a kitty run across the road but I don’t want to hurt it.”

“No, because then it would be squished and have to fly up to God.”

I paused at his certainty but responded with “Yes, then the kitty would go up to heaven with God.”

I then gave pause to my uncertainty as I added, “Mommy’s Daddy lives in heaven.”….”

Join me at Moonfrye to read the rest of this post as I take on the tender subject of talking about my Dad to my son. I would love to see you there. xo

Calendars and Half Birthdays

Three and a Half

Three and a Half

March 1st is my son’s half birthday. (Yes, I am that mom that knows his half birthday.)

On his 6 month, 18 month, and 2 1/2  half birthdays they all seemed very significant and we even had little half birthday celebrations.

But this year, this three and a half, didn’t send me reeling. Three and a half seems normal, ok, not life changing. I mentioned it to my husband who gently rolled his eyes in his “Really? But I still think your adorable” way. Or at least that’s what I think it means.

We had a busy but lovely weekend and I managed my son’s three and a half birthday without a mushy moment or a tear. Very big progress for this mushy mommy.

But I did write it down on our calendar, marking the milestone down on paper and recording the memory.

I’m over at Moonfrye today talking about just that; the beauty I find in good old fashioned paper calendars.

Join me there as I tell you why a calendar is so much more than an event keeper; it’s my memory holder.

I would be honored if you come tell me how you keep your memories.


Unexpected Parenting

I had a Hembree boy.

You may not understand the significance of this statement unless you know that Hembree is my married name and know my husband’s family, but I will try to fill you in.

My husband is the oldest of three boys. Three very rough and tumble boys. Boys who were raised in day care, spent weekends at grandparent houses, had toy guns and swords, rough played and wrestled, and got spankings. Three boys who all had braces and speech and did boy scouts and love football. Three boyish boys.

I am the oldest of three children, but I have one sister and one brother. We were raised as stay at home kids with a mom who worked the night shift in labor and delivery and a dad who worked the day shift at his own company. We weren’t raised around extended family but we were very close as an immediate family. We were not allowed to have guns or swords or be rough and if you talked to us we listened but if we were really in trouble we went to time out. We never had braces or speech and the big activities at our house were soccer and musicals.

And then I married a Hembree boy. And I guess I knew these things about his childhood but I didn’t really THINK about them, because I had such set ideas about the type of parent I was going to be. I was going to be a stay at home mom, so really my son would be mostly influenced by me and his childhood would be gentle and sweet and comparable to mine, right? Right?

And then I had a Hembree boy. And I am a stay at home mom and he is sweet (most of the time) but he also likes to pretend that his fingers are guns and that forks are swords and “get the mean guys.” He goes to time outs or his room if he’s in trouble but it is starting to take more sternness. He had to have teeth removed at 20 months due to enamel deficiency so braces are a guarantee and it has been confirmed through a speech screening that we need to start speech now, at age 3.

As a parent you always want to do what’s best for your child and that takes a lot of reflecting on your own childhood. I think my parents were amazing and had fully intended to parent like them. The thing is? My husband thinks his childhood was amazing, too.

And so I keep trying to parent my son the way I was parented, the way I want to gently raise him. But I think it’s time to add the variable of “Hembree boy” into my calculations and continue to be prepared for the unexpected.

My sweet, silly, and unpredictable Hembree boy on Wacky Wednesday at preschool this week.

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Growing Up and Getting Dressed

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Today, I’m honored to be over at Moonfrye talking about a simple task, but an oh so important one; getting dressed.

It’s not as easy as you might think.

Join me as I talk about the push and pull of socks and shirts and the in between world of baby and big kid.

I can not wait to see you there!


Choose Your Battles



It was an early morning and the often dreaded get-ready- for-school routine was upon us. Neither of us excel in the “morning person” area, so my son and I both struggle with the unreasonable demands of waking up and getting dressed at a certain time.

This morning was different, though. We had both gone to bed very early the night before, were well rested, and had spent the first part of the morning talking, laughing, and reading stories. It was going to be a good day. Obviously, having that thought was my first mistake.

As soon as we reached the bottom of the stairs, my son began the first battle with an outcry of “I want to be naked!”

“I know, you really like to be naked,” I replied, “but right now we have to get dressed and go to school.”

Reluctantly, my naked toddler sauntered over to me and offered his foot for the putting on of underwear. First battle: Mommy.

“I want this shirt!” he said, presenting a gray and black striped shirt. “And these pants!” he declared, choosing a slightly wrinkled pair of khakis from the laundry pile on the couch.

I am not a huge stickler for fashion, since I have been known to show up at preschool drop off and pick up with no bra, sweat pants, and a ponytail, but when I actually get dressed I do like fashion. And I definitely like for my son’s clothes to match.

“I’m not sure that those pants match that shirt. What about jeans with that shirt? Or you could wear this blue shirt with those pants? Oh look I even have the blue socks to match this blue shirt!” (Yes, he has socks that match certain shirts. I like a well dressed toddler.)

He met my attempts with a defiant “NO!” complete with a dismissive swipe of the jeans and blue shirt, and instead opting for the mismatched attire of khaki pants and gray and black striped shirt. He did like the blue socks, so now he looked like a complete mismatch of items. Battle goes to: the toddler.

Pick your battles, I told myself. And although I sometimes like to tell me inner voice where she can go, this time I listened.

“Alright! Now let’s brush our hair!” The brushing of the teeth earlier had gone flawlessly. He was dressed. We had even put on shoes without a fight. But the brushing of the hair was deemed an unreasonable request.

“No, I like my hair to look crazy.”

It’s hard to reason the importance of looking presentable with a person who is 1) three years old and 2) ok with looking crazy.

“Mommy will do it very quickly and then we can eat breakfast! Would you like Trix or Lucky Charms?” We serve a gourmet breakfast around here.

“Trix!” That did the trick (pun intended), and my son was soon blissfully eating breakfast with combed hair.

Until he decided that he would like to watch a TV show.

“We don’t watch TV in the mornings. You can watch a show this afternoon.”

“But I want to watch a show right now! I am not going to eat my breakfast if there’s not a kid show on.”

“Then you will be very hungry. We never watch TV in the mornings because the mornings are time for getting ready for school. You have a few more minutes to eat breakfast and then we need to leave.”

This caused an eruption of behavior. He stomped around, yelled “no” repeatedly, and began to throw his toys. He repeated his ultimatum about not eating breakfast unless he could watch TV and ended it with, “That’s the deal!” After politely asking him not to throw toys and telling him that Mommy said no, we are not watching TV right now, I then had to give him a warning that if he didn’t stop, he would be going to time out.

Finally realizing that his tantrum was not working, he gave in and soon starting quietly eating cereal in the dining room while I worked on folding laundry. Battle winner: Mommy. He even carried his bowl to the sink without my asking.

And then, right as we were on our way out the door, he looked at me and asked, “Mommy, what are you doing in the grand scheme of things?”

What a vocabulary! What a question! Oh the shock, the puzzlement, the philosophical pondering!

You win this round, toddler. You win.