Dearest Trains (A love letter from my toddler to trains)

A letter from my toddler to trains:

Dearest Choo Choos,

You guys. Literally. This happens EVERY TIME we ride the train. I hope you don’t mind me using my pet name for you in such a formal letter, but I feel it is only right.

I can no longer remember a time when our love did not spring eternal. For me, there has only ever been trains, and there only ever will be trains. I think about trains as I sleep. When I awake, my first thought is not of food, nor water, nor dogs, nor cats, nor walks, but rather you, my one, my only, my Choo Choo.

There is a tall woman in our house with me all the time who calls herself Mama. She sometimes also plays with the trains and the tracks on which we can build empires, but I know her love is only surface level. I can see in her eyes she does not seem to possess the passion, the fervor, the pure adoration I have for you, my trains.

The Tall Woman often takes me for walks and strolls. Many times I see you passing overhead like the shining beacons of fascinating wonder you are. Sure, Tall Woman may sit and wave “Hi Trains!!” but it is only after I hear them first. I must wonder if she even cares if I’m not there. Tell me: if a train rumbles by in the city without a toddler, does anyone wave?

There are also days where we go far across the city and those days are the best days. We must stroll along the tracks of wonderment to a loading station that, as the Tall Woman describes every time as, “not our closest station but one that has an elevator because seriously Chicago, it’s not like it’s 20freaking16 or anything.” We ride in the elevator that somehow smells like my dirty diaper bin mixed with “industrial solvent” (Tall Woman’s words) and then, finally, we are there and our time has come. Our time has finally come!

I can see the lights of the train approaching. I start waving to you, my only, my love, and then, you come! You glitter and gleam in the sunlight! You have arrived! Sometimes in my excitement the man or woman in the front of the train waves or even makes the train make a strange squeaking sound the Tall Woman tells me is the train “honking.” I know not of this honking, but only of the fact that we can be united at last.

I close this letter to you hoping only to be united sooner rather than later. Do know, my dearest trains, that even when I look at other toys or take other modes of transportation I think only of you, my one, my only, my Choo Choooooooooooo.

With only the deepest of loves,

Wee Connor

Thomas and FriendsA special extra bonus note from the Tall Lady! You guys, it’s a giveaway!)

As you might have guessed, Wee Connor has officially hit the “toddler train obsession” stage. It’s adorable. I love it. And, for the record, despite what Connor’s letter says I really do enjoy this more than most any other toy he has in his possession.

So, in honor of this phase in our lives, I (for reasons I cannot fathom) have actually been authorized to do a special Thomas and Friends giveaway of their brand spanking new Blu-ray! Released just this week, I can officially give out 5 copies of the latest Thomas and Friends Blu-ray.

All you have to do to enter is write me something in the comments! Tell me what your child’s latest obsession/craze is! Is it trains? Cars? Dolls? Planes? Space? I love all of these things and want to hear about what’s going on with your family!

After the giveaway I’ll pick 5 comments at random and you’ll be contacted by me for more information on getting the Blu-ray. Good luck!!

Dear elevator button panel manufacturers…

There comes a point when you arrive at a certain age and you actually start thinking this exact phrase:

I’m going to write a strongly-worded letter about this.

This is the exact face I make when I say I'm going to write a strongly-worded letter. I might expect one from Connor over this lunch any day now, apparently.

This is the exact face I make when I say I’m going to write a strongly-worded letter. I might expect one from Connor over this lunch any day now, apparently.

Whether you say it out loud or simply think it, the phrase is there forever in your psyche without warning. It doesn’t matter if you mean email instead of letter. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t bought stamps in four years. The phrase is the same. It’s the 10-word equivalent of, “harumph!” and it happens to everyone at some point.

It’s happened to me for years, but there are certain strongly-worded letters I’d like to write as a mom that seem to trump over all other annoyances I’ve experienced lately. And so, having explained all this, I’d like to start a segment just for this on this blog. I’m creatively calling it, “Strongly-Worded Letters*.”

The first is one I know every mom with a mobile child has experienced because I can’t get into an elevator with another mom without discussing it: elevator button panels.

To whomever designed the layout of elevator buttons:

Thank you so much for putting the “call” and “emergency” buttons exactly at toddler level. There are special thank-yous in order to the ones who make those buttons red and extra-enticing. If handicapped individuals need to be able to reach the top buttons, can you not put those buttons at that level instead?

Do you realize how many elevator operator-people (no, I don’t know exactly who it is that answers those phones) I’ve talked to, apologizing? Or, rather, run out of the elevator from exactly as they pick up, embarrassed, knowing that what I’m doing is wrong? Or, even worse, realizing that half the time nobody is there because too many toddlers have pressed those buttons and now if there’s a real emergency we’re all SOL? Too many times is how many times. And yes, I watch my child and try and teach him correct behaviors, but sometimes I (god forbid!) have something in my hands, or am trying to find my keys, or any number of other things that may happen at any given moment when we are in the elevator. So thank you, elevator-button-designer-person.

Thank you indeed.


Motherhood What

P.S. Quick question: do the “close door” buttons actually do anything? Or are they simply a method of reminding us of our own futility in this world and that our place in the universe is quite small and fleeting? Because it sort of seems like the latter option. 

*It’s this exact creative spirit that has me rolling in the beaucoup bucks** these days as a writer.

**You should probably know that I’m being sarcastic here. We still are too cheap to buy cable.

Proof that toddlers are really just our baser selves

(Alternate title: Notes from 19 months, because I haven’t posted one of those in a really, really, really long time, and also that title is too long so we can just go with the original blog post title)

I used to think toddlers were living, breathing, walking, running, falling, crying, enigmas never to be truly understood. Recently, however, I’ve come up with a little bit of a different theory. It’s not so much that toddlers are so different from us older-folk, it’s that they are simply miniature versions of our baser selves. If we were to take our most basic desires of behavior and bundle it up into a smaller human it would be exactly a toddler.

Here’s what I mean.

They just walk away from conversations they have no interest in

Do you see this? This walking away thing? This is what happens when you think you're being really interesting to a toddler.

Do you see this? This walking away thing? This is what happens when you think you’re being really interesting to a toddler. Bye, Felicia.

My husband has said on multiple occasions that I get into more random conversations where people tell me their deepest life stories than anyone he has ever met. Going through the deli at the store? Sure, I’ll for some reason listen to your story about how you can no longer do yoga due to your achilles tendon acting up sometimes*. At the pet store buying dog food? Why not, please do tell me about how your aunt’s tuna casserole won the best tuna casserole competition in Muncie, Indiana, in 1988**.

As often as I get into these conversations I also cannot seem to get out of them. I don’t know where the breaking-off point is, so I inevitably just keep asking questions, assuming the end must be in sight. I always assume incorrectly.

Toddlers do not have this problem. One of my parents’ favorite stories about me as a toddler was that whenever they traveled (which happened a lot as a pilot and flight attendant) and we talked on the phone and I was done talking I would just say, “I’m done!” and then walk away. It didn’t matter what the person on the other end of the line was saying or even if they were in mid-sentence. If I was done, it was over. Move on, slick. Nothing to see here.

It’s a super power I wish I could harness again, but alas, it seems I am forever doomed to simply become entrenched in conversations about people’s cousin’s cat’s favorite snacks***.

They can bite into a large wedge of cheese and feel no remorse

IMG_20160516_115647Sure, that huge chunk of Jarlsberg is calling to you, but something is probably holding you back from taking that wedge and jamming it straight into your preferred facehole.

Call it, “societal pressure,” or, “that last time that happened I got so sick I vowed it wouldn’t happen a fourth time,” or, “this is what separates us from the animal kingdom: knives for our cheese wedges,” digging into cheese and treating it like the food crack it is has become taboo in our culture. (For shame!)

Toddlers know not of these societal pressures, which leads to scenarios (like the one pictured here) of them actually gnawing into an entire wedge of Jarlsberg with reckless abandon. This inevitably makes moms look over and say something to themselves along the lines of, “It’s dairy, right? So, like, it’s healthy?”

But look at this face! This is exactly what you want to do to that wedge of cheese and you know it.

When they don’t want to go somewhere they just start crying

Picture this: it’s Monday morning. You’re on the train/bus/in your car with the crush of humanity, headed straight away from the weekend and toward five days of work in a sad, grey little cubicle (or, potentially worse, a brightly-colored, blinding conglomeration of what corporate America has most recently decided “brightens employee spirits for synergy”).

On the outside you’re probably sort-of pulling it together. Your face probably resembles something along the lines of this:

andy samberg meh gif

While your inside is actually consumed by the desire to do this:

crying emma stone gif

Toddlers simply don’t possess that first “I’m screaming on the inside but I’ll settle for stinky-cheese face on the outside” face. In fairness, they have no motivation to develop said “cool” exterior. If they don’t want to go somewhere, the squeakiest wheel also happens to be the loudest one. There is much debate in the parenting world on how to handle said squeaky-wheel-turned-screaming-wheel debacles, but the point is this: your inner self wishes it could actually scream from the rooftops how it feels about going somewhere undesirable just like a toddler actually gets to.

Their dessert consumption tactics are ideal

Snapchat-2979400929942602501Have you ever watched a toddler eat dessert? It’s magnificent. If you want to see just how creative a toddler mind can become, hand them something sweet and observe the results.

I have many examples of this, but most recently Wee Connor and I went to a restaurant in Lincoln Park called Jam ‘n Honey. This restaurant is famous for putting huge jars of Nutella and honey on the table for your spreading delights. Obviously I allowed Connor a Nutella toast because I’m a terrible parent who subscribes to the “everything in moderation” idea, and also because Nutella is potentially proof there is a higher power out there who loves us dearly.

I didn’t even realize there was a right way and a wrong way to eat Nutella toast, but grownups clearly have always been on the “wrong” side of the spectrum since coming into our sad little grownup existences. Wee Connor schooled us all by taking said toast straight to his face, licking off the Nutella from the toast, putting it down, looking at me, and then saying and signing (this is the only sign he knows, and I don’t know where he learned it, by the way) “more!” emphatically. See what I mean? Realistically who cares about the toast? The toast is obviously a vehicle to deliver as much Nutella as can humanly fit inside a human stomach, so why would you destroy said vehicle? No more Nutella vehicle, no more Nutella. It’s so simple it’s brilliant, really.

If we all listened to our inner dessert voice we, too, could channel these tactics. Luckily toddlers wear those inner dessert voices on the outside, which is convenient because that’s where half their desserts end up as well: straight on the outside of everything.

*True story
**Also a true story, though details on that one might be blurred a bit
***You guessed it****.
****It went, in order of preference: Goldfish crackers, Friskies treats, shredded chicken, chopped tomatoes. And no, I don’t actually know how the ranking system was established.

P.S. I recently decided to become all official-like and start a Facebook page for my blog. Come on over and like it! I’ll be posting updates and maybe even funny or interesting things along the way.