Posted by Duff

My plans for the day:

Pick up enough food, infant Motrin, diapers, and entertainment for 2 days.

Call our town offices regarding signing up The Dervish for kindergarten. Yes. Kindergarten.

Call the vet to inquire about side effects from cat’s recent dental work.

Do enough laundry to get us by in the event of lost power.

Prepare meals, wipe faces and heinies, save children from themselves.

My husband’s plans for the day:

Go apesh*t outside with the snowblower, shovel, and broom to prep for the next 2 days. 

Order sandbags for upcoming but seeming impossible thaw.

The Dervish’s plans for the day:

Become a princess

Become the baby she used to be, so she can remember what it’s like.

Purchase mini-muffins, fruit snacks, lollipops, juice boxes and chocolate

Play, alone, with everything within reach

Atticus’s plans for the day:

Throw food. Pour juice. Sit on mommy’s lap in the bathroom.

Be carried around. Avoid the car, all store carts, the changing table, the crib.

Purchase mini-muffins, fruit snacks, juice, and chocolate

Play with everything The Dervish has made look interesting.

Snot on everything.


We’re looking at two days inside. Please send reinforcements. And entertainment. And snowboots that dry faster.


Posted by Duff

I sometimes forget that I always wanted a kid this age, so I could ask her questions like these (the following is taken from a real conversation with The Dervish at 4.5 years old):

Me: Hey, What’s up?

Dervish: Hi.

Me: So what do you want to be when you grow up?

D: What do you mean?

Me: I mean, what do you want to become? Anything you want. (Expecting to hear ‘princess’ or ‘fairy’ or ‘Doctor Sheehan’)

D: (Silence. Thinking. Mild amusement at the possibility of answering). Mommy, what do YOU want to be?

Me: A writer.

D: A writer?

Me: Someone who decides the words that go in books, like the ones you and I read. Only the ones that mommy reads, without pictures.

D: Oh.

Me: So what do you want to be?

D: A picnic basket. With a blanket inside.

Me: And will you have any special powers?

D: Yes.

Me: What?

D: Batteries.

… A moment later:

Me: So what’s your favorite color?

D: Pink. And purple. And yellow and white and blue and green and orange.

Me: Well, if you could wear any color dress right now, what would it be?

D: Pink. And purple. And yellow and orange. And mashed potatoes and peas.

Posted by Duff

Please help. I’m being held prisoner by attitude over here, the preschool and toddler kinds. 

Please send advice on how to outwit them, or  keep them from killing each other. Or, at the very least, how to keep them from killing me so I can keep raising them–hopefully to be the nice kind of people that don’t harm anyone other than each other and their mother.

Also, while you’re at it, please send Spring.  Three. feet. of. snow.

And, good news is always welcome.

Posted by Duff

Real conversation between me and The Dervish:

Dervish: Once upon a time there was a girl named Molly Bobolly. No, her name was Frisbee Light. No. I don’t know what her name was.

Me: Well, you can decide that later. And what did she do?

Dervish: Then she decided to…she…I don’t know what she did.

Me: That’s the beauty of it. You’re telling the story. She can do anything you want. Anything.

Dervish: I can’t. I don’t know how the story goes. (sighs)

I hear you, kiddo. Just keep at it; get it out and fix it later. Something will come to you.  I know you’ve got a story to tell.

Posted by Duff

Um, I was in a hurry for Atticus to get uber-mobile why?  We all know this comes at a price. It’s why seasoned parents say to the newbies “Just wait until he starts walking” with a smile on their faces and sheer joy in their hearts – the joy of people who know that you’re about to experience the fatigue that is Parenting a True Toddler.


I’m happy for the little guy. He went from immobile to running and scaling at a good clip, which means that I am never out of reach. And neither is trouble. Or Food. Or Bugs. Or The Dervish’s many splendored things.

I pity The Dervish.  She now spends hours moving her belongings to higher ground, feels compelled to slam doors to keep him away from her.  It’s not easy. And morning time? Ugh. The Dervish needs her cuppa to get her going, while Atticus greets the day like a cheerful cannonball.

I’m not the one who wants to be smiled at,” says the Dervish, curling up like a pill bug. “Make him stop looking at me.”

She also doesn’t like to be touched, so while Atticus breakfasts at the kitchen table, The Dervish, luckily on the small side for her age (which, in case she hasn’t told you, is FOUR), perches from a high chair crow’s nest. “Don’t let him touch my babies,” she orders from behind her cereal.

This is only the morning.

There are toys for which they duke it out (usually things like empty water bottles and plain blocks, not the age specific toys on which we’ve likely wasted our money), and naps The Dervish is sure Atticus needs and she doesn’t so she can bask in the glory of temporary singleton.  And during these naps, relative peace.

But then the dive bombing and wrestling begins, which both kids love, and ends with someone crying and me raising my voice and two children being assigned to two different parents in two different locations.

And then bedtime. 

And while the days sometimes go too slowly for my patience, the weeks and months streak by with little regard for my heart.

“I wish my two were this age again,” said the pharmacist yesterday as he handed me my prescription. The two stinkers beamed at him from the two-seater grocery cart car.

“Hello,” said The Dervish.

“Buh-bye,” said Atticus.

Then they had a little skirmish on the car ride home over sippy cup ownership.

Posted by Duff

The first time we went to The Dervish’s preschool, she was two, and we were scouting it out for full-time daycare. I was a little worried about how she’d react to changing daycares twice within a few months, but I needn’t have been.

As the director gave us a tour of her would-be room, the teacher called “Line up for outside time!” and The Dervish, not yet a member of the class, was the first one in line. “Everyone outside!” she called, and led the troop out the double doors onto the playground. I moved into the doorway to watch, since this was brand new for me, too.

“She likes outside,” observed the director.

“She does, ” I answered, still watching, “but she likes leading lines even more.”

So what happened yesterday shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me.  I walked into The Dervish’s preschool class after lunch – when the other kids stay for afternoon daycare and she comes home – and found her in the center of the room, surrounded by a rapt audience of three and four year olds, many of them still eating.

The Dervish was spinning, arms wide, singing the “Ahh-Ahh-Ahh” bars of Ariel’s (The Little Mermaid) voice being released from the magic seashell. You know, the melodic female version of Tarzan swinging through the trees. Then she launched into:

Out where they walk (sung to one side of the room)
Out where they run (sung to the other side)
Out where they stay all day in theeeee suuuuuuun (sung to the sky, full throttle)

(pause for effect – I’m not kidding)
Wandering free (quieter, arms outstretched)
Wish I could be (arms clasped to her chest, wistful)
Part of youuuur woooooorlddddd! (I swear there was an orchestra backing her here)

I have to be honest. The first thought I had was My child has the worst table manners of these fifteen preschoolers. I have failed her.  I removed myself, stood in the hallway, and hid my face behind my hand. Then I noticed –there were tears in my eyes. Because I was so damn proud of her. Not for her absence of table manners or her vocal stylings (she’s not pageant bound), but for her confidence, and even more for her conviction.

Three year olds are masters of memory and imitation. But beyond her mother, who is unable to be objective, she had those  kids believing in her. She finished to full, unprompted applause, and more than one standing ovation. As the other kids settled into their cots, they asked Ariel to tuck them in.

I’ve been living in the post-preschool world far too long, because I was surprised that none of them seemed annoyed by her behavior, none of them rolled their eyes or dubbed her Attention Whore like we of the middle school and upward set tend to do (Who does she think she is?). There was good will toward her performance all around.

While still measuring her behavior against her peers’ for inappropriateness, I hoped with all my might that she won’t lose this zeal to the seemingly inevitable self-consciousness that’s the by-product of others’ creeping opinions. And I remembered how much my opinion will mean, even if she claims not to need my backing.

Because this Dervish-variety apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.  And she is an inspirational reminder to her old lady that life is meant to be lived out loud.

You go, girl.

Posted by Duff

You’d think when your child is past the age of putting anything and everything in her mouth, you’re safe. And then you watch her pick a who-knows how old cheddar goldfish (that you somehow missed) from between the couch cushions. And eat it.

You think once your child has dropped her fascination with the inner workings of the toilet, you can relax a little. Until she presses her cheek to it while she watches you apply makeup.

You’d think having said “Not safe. NOT SAFE. NOT SAFE. NOT.SAFE,” enough times to deter your child from ripping her nightlight out of the wall would bring you some ease. But the one time you forget to replace the outlet cover after vaccuuming, you find her about to ‘plug in’ a barrette.

You’d think a child who considers syrup on her hands an utter, panic-inducing catastrophe would be more discriminating about what she picks up without inspecting. Until she picks up a dog turd.

You’d think after explaining many hundreds of times that we don’t bring soapy water all over the house to pour in anything that will (or won’t) hold it, that it would finally sink in. And then after spending two  minutes alone in the bathroom, you find a Dervish sponging soapy water as far as she can reach across  the sliding glass door. In this case, you hand her a towel and let her ‘clean’ anything she can reach. And thank your lucky stars it wasn’t toothpaste. Or applesauce. Or syrup.

It’s a wonder any of us make it to adulthood. Dave Barry was right: we really do spend our first few years trying to find ways to off ourselves.