If someone – a friend, a neighbor, a random journalist interviewing me – were to ask me for my top two parenting tips (Parenting hacks! Click here for 5 hacks you’ll never believe work!), it would be:
- Always cut the sticker sheets in half, or quads, or hell, sticker-by-sticker.
- Never, ever ask a kid what they want to eat. You tell them what they’re eating.
I have been burned so many times by asking the dumpling what he wants for breakfast. Especially back in the hellacious 18-month-old toddler-hell-demon phase, when he seemed primed for a tantrum
each morning day night 24/7. Because inevitably, he’d say something we didn’t have (sausage!) or something just flat-out unacceptable (cake!) and I’d have to break his poor heart that we didn’t/he couldn’t have that. Mean mommy.
Luckily, he seems to be past that for the most part (though,
as a side story don’t get distracted Belle! side story at the bottom*). This morning, he refused all of my offerings though until he spotted the syrup in the pantry (and that should be my actual tip up there – never let them see in the pantry). He decided he wanted syrup! For breakfast!
“What are you going to put the syrup on?” I reasonably asked him.
He pondered this for a minute before very seriously answering me.
Now let’s pause here for a second. This right here is the type of situation that makes my working arrangement invaluable to me. My job may not have a lot of upward movement in terms of responsibilities or job titles (I’ve been doing the same thing for six years at this point), but I don’t care. They pay me well and I literally can’t put a price on working from home half the week. Because if I had to go into the office this morning? I would have had to say no to impromptu pancakes. If I’d had to go in yesterday, I wouldn’t have been able to take the dumpling for a walk at 7:30. If I’d had to go in Tuesday, I wouldn’t have been able to witness the dumpling sing-shouting Twinkle Twinkle Little Star at the neighborhood park. It’s wonderful to have more time with him in the evening (especially when he was little and had a 7pm bedtime), but the mornings are where the real perks lie.
Most of the mornings, I don’t have to rush him out the door, trying to make sure I’m not late myself. And if there’s one thing every parent knows, it’s that rushing a preschooler means that everything will take twice as long as they staaaaaaaaallllllllll. Fact. Instead, our mornings are leisurely spent eating breakfast, reading books, or watching Daniel. We’re able to be flexible getting him out the door, depending on his moods, which makes everyone’s morning a thousand times easier. We can take a walk or run an errand (I’ve definitely taken him to the grocery store in his jammies when I discovered we were out of milk). And I don’t have to worry about getting myself presentable for work because I just need to be dressed. That’s it! No hour-long commute or putting on business casual clothes. No making sure I have everything I need for the day before heading out (and I can’t tell you how nice that was as a pumping mother). Our mornings are far less stressful, and most times downright pleasant, because I work from the house.
“Pancakes?” I said, skeptical at first, “… that does sound pretty good. Can you help me make them?”
“YES,” he enthusiastically answered me.
So we set about making pancakes. I measured ingredients, he poured them into our bowl. We stirred and stirred and stirred, taking turns (mama stir fast? he’d ask me when it was time for me to do the real whisking). We got them into the skillet to cook and debated who should flip them. He, of course, got the first batch and ate them at the counter while I continued to make pancakes. Once Luffy got his (and took them to eat at his computer in the living room), the dumpling decided that he wanted to eat on his chair in the living room. So he hopped down and took his plate to dada for help getting set up in his chair. He adorably chowed down, asking for milk or help cutting up pancakes. I stayed in the kitchen, devouring my own plate of pancakes while also finishing up cooking the batter (I like to freeze any leftovers so that I can pull them out when he requests them later). I also took care of the dishes and was charmed when the dumpling brought me his empty plate to wash.
From the living room, I heard this exchange:
“Did you tell mama thank you for making us pancakes?”
“Yes,” he answered, but that wasn’t accurate and Luffy knew it.
“Can you tell her again?”
[pitter patter of a running preschooler]
“I love you,” he tells me as he peers at me around his tower.
[sound of my heart melting]
“Awe, I love you too sweet boy. And you’re welcome for the pancakes.”
Side-story: While he doesn’t make wild requests anymore (most of the time), we do run through this hilarious conversation occasionally:
“Mama! I hungry, I want breakfast,” he’ll say to me, rubbing his presumably empty tummy.
“Ok, let’s get you breakfast,” I’ll say, walking into the kitchen.
“Do you want yogurt?”
“No! I want breakfast.”
“Ok, how about crackers?” (meaning his Belvita crackers)
“No! I want breakfast!”
“Hmmm – a strawberry bar?”
“NO! I want breakfast!”
“Ok, what about an apple? Or applesauce?”
“NO mama, I want breakfast!”
“I know child! What do you want for breakfast?!” is what I always want to say in response to that sass. I abstain though. Go me.