The No Thank You Bite

I thought I was a freaking genius when I instituted the “no thank you bite” rule.
I thought I was freaking brilliant.
You see, Billie has always had an issue branching out and trying new foods.
She, quite unlike her mother, is a creature of habit. If you gave her the same meal for the rest of her life she would probably be just fine.
Hence the “no thank you bite” rule.
It compels her to take a bite of everything on her plate, even if she doesn’t really want to. She tries it once, says “no thank you” and we move on. 70% of the time she decides that whatever she just put in her mouth was actually delicious and, despite saying a quick “no thank you” after tasting it, she ends up going back to it.
Thus my daughter expands her food horizons, makes healthier choices, and, most importantly, I feel like a good parent.
Except when it backfires.
Apparently, in my excitement of instituting the “no thank you bite” rule, I forgot to also institute parameters. Namely parameters that prohibited me from having to be responsible for any “no thank you” bites…

I have had to eat some really disgusting stuff, guys.
No amount of “no thank you bite” solidarity is worth this.

Worse? Her talents for negotiation are growing. The following conversation ensued last night:

Billie: “Mommy, can you put a baby in your belly, please? I want a brother or sister. Please?”
Me: “No, baby. Not anytime soon.”
Billie: “How about a ‘no thank you’ try?”
Me: “…”
Billie: “Yup! You have to! A no thank you try!!”

I… I… Just…

Ugh.

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The No Thank You Bite

“My Tongue Wants to Run Out of My Mouth”

Billie: “Mom. I can’t keep talking to boring people. When I talk to boring people my tongue wants to run out of my mouth. My words die. I have to save my tongue. From now on, I just want the weird people. They make my mouth happy.”

“My Tongue Wants to Run Out of My Mouth”

#ThanksHalloween

credit: Vanessa Lucas (https://www.facebook.com/Just4TheeTaste?fref=ts)
Zombie Billie
credit: Vanessa Lucas (https://www.facebook.com/Just4TheeTaste?fref=ts)

Billie: “You’re wrong, mom. I did not eat the candy. I just bit it with my teeth. I said, ‘oh, yous a bad candy. I will bite your face off!’ and I bit it. I didn’t eat it, mom. My mouth just put it in time out.”

#ThanksHalloween

On Scary Movies & Overactive Imaginations

I made the mistake of leaving the room while the T.V. was on this morning.
Billie’s program ended in my absence and was replaced by some sci – fi movie where some dude takes another dude’s eyes out with a pencil.
I only know this happened because Billie calmly walked into the kitchen and informed me, “Mom. I just saw a man get his eyeball ripped out of his head.”

I tried to tell her it was pretend. I tried to explain that it was make believe. And that mommy would be more careful with trusting daytime television programming. Of course, none of that logic stopped her from telling everyone in the world that her mommy put a bad T.V. show on and scarred her for life.

“Daddy, did you know that mommy put on a bad show and I saw a man stab a man in the eyeball with a pencil and RIIIIPPPP it all the way out of him? ALL THE WAY OUT, DADDY.”

It has persisted into bedtime. She’s currently in her room with her covers up over her head wishing away the evil eyeball snatchers of the world. Occasionally I hear her saying things like, “But I have beautiful eyes. I like my eyeeeesss” before shivering back under her comforter.

This is the problem with imaginations, folks. They make what you saw so much worse. They amplify and magnify every crazy, scary, beautiful thing and propel it into a realm of psychotic proportions. And it does not shock me that some of us lose our imaginations as we grow older. Who can blame us? Every nerve, every synapse, every iota of you gets completely wrapped up in a reality that only exists to you. And sometimes it is so beautiful and fragile, like a bubble garden made entirely of blown sugar, that one small step, or unkind word shatters the whole thing. Other times it can be so consuming and devastating that you feel trapped inside it with no escape. It brings you to the best parts of yourself and holds a mirror up to your greatest fears.

What a fucking weight to carry.

But I can’t help but admire it. I can’t help but want to foster it and hold her in these dark times just to show her that she can conquer this. She can wrangle it and learn to use it in powerful ways that no one has even dreamed of yet. She comes to me constantly with pictures of winged serpents fighting ferocious dragons and giant squids battling sharks and I think she already knows this. She knows enough about the frightening things to want to identify with them and tell their stories. She sees the fear. She processes it. Then she headbutts it with an artistic fervor that I can’t help but be awed by.

The squid battling the sharks
The squid battling the sharks

And, again, here we are at that super cheesy revelation that inevitably comes as I write these things: She’s helping me. Don’t get me wrong- my imagination is pretty on point and always has been. But I think she’s showing me how to process the fearful parts.
You lean in.
With blind hope, faith, and sometimes unapologetic rage. You handle the squids and the sharks and the creepy eyeball stealers in your nightmares, then your dreams, then on paper. And, slowly… eventually… they become as fragile as the page you drew them on. They become characters that no longer frighten you. You begin to realize that, even in your imagination, only you can frighten you.

On Scary Movies & Overactive Imaginations

Parenting: Life’s Biggest Contact Sport. In Fire. With No Protective Gear.

Someone once told me: “You should not become a teacher unless you are prepared to get your heart shattered every day.”

I truly believe that advice. It’s one of the reasons I stopped teaching, because I had had my heart shattered twice by what my students were going through and that was enough for me. I just wasn’t strong enough.

…But no one told me that the same held true for parenting.
That there would be moments when my heart would get so wrecked that I wouldn’t even be able to breathe.
And some of it is bittersweet and some of it is devastating but all of it is incredibly painful.

And I am glad that nobody told me how painful it was going to be. I’m glad that they left these moments as a surprise. Because, as devastating as they are, they are also the most rich and beautiful moments I could’ve ever imagined. They completely engulf and enflame you until you’re unable to accept any reality other than the one your child is living in. They connect you to a pain so simultaneously punishing and affirming that it actually breathes life into every embrace and makes every touch, every kiss, every giggle that much more crucial to your existence.
It’s the kind of pain that torches your gut and tickles your skin.

It’s a pain born of love. Of selflessness. Of complete and utter insanity.

And it’s fucking beautiful, ya’ll.

And maybe I am strong enough.

Thanks, Billie. Mommy loves you.

Parenting: Life’s Biggest Contact Sport. In Fire. With No Protective Gear.

Since We’re Talking About: (Differences in Ability)

FLASHBACK: September 1, 2011

The upside to having a kid with asthma is that, while you’re forcing the inhaler to their face urging them to inhale, you can introduce counting. To make the whole “sticking an angry looking plastic thing to your face” experience a little less intense, Doug and I count to ten and make all sorts of silly noises to make the process a little less scary. Plus- once we reach “ten” we stop- it signifys the end and gets her comfortable with counting.

When we started this routine she would try to count with us- but she could only get up to “two.” So it would go something like this:
Doug and I: “One”
Billie: “One”

Doug and I: “Two”
Billie: “Two”

“Three”
“Two”

“Four”
“Two”

“Five”
“Two”

“Six”
“Two”

“Seven”
“Two”

“Eight”
“Two”

“Nine”
“Two”

“Ten!”
“TWOOOOOOO!”

Just last night, though, she got a little more inventive with her counting:

Doug and I: “One”
Billie: “One”

Doug and I: “Two”
Billie: “Two”

“Three”
“TREE”

“Four”
“No.”

“Five”
“More”

“Six”
“I’m”

“Seven”
“All”

“Eight”
“Done”

“Nine”
“FINE”

“Ten!”
“Byeeeeee!”
and then she runs away…

Haha- I love it…

Since We’re Talking About: (Differences in Ability)