Posts Filed Under unenlightened parenting techniques.

Breaking news: Don’t be a dick in restaurants

by Janelle Hanchett

By now you’ve heard of the restaurant owner in Maine who yelled at some toddler who allegedly screamed for 40 minutes at a table.

I don’t want to talk about that. It’s boring. We have no idea what happened. As messed up as it is to squeal at a stranger’s baby (and that lady seemed pretty damn unhinged), it’s pretty messed up to let your kid cry for that long in a restaurant (if that’s even what happened).

What I want to talk about is the “debate” that surfaces between people with and without kids whenever an event like this occurs. In case you’ve been living in a yurt on a New Mexican bluff, the two sides go like this:

  1. Babies should not be allowed in nice restaurants because they’re assholes.
  1. Babies should be allowed in all restaurants because THEY HAVE RIGHTS even though they’re assholes.

I added the last part.

Anyway I find this debate ridiculous. Well, no. Not really. What I find ridiculous is that the whole thing could be cleared up instantly if everybody could just stop being dicks.

Let’s start with the parents.

Hey parents, How to not be a dick in a restaurant with your baby, toddler, or kids:

  1. Remember above all else that nobody likes your kids as much as you do. To you they are special snowflakes. To you they are the expression of your divine purpose. To everybody else they are tiny sticky creatures with unimpressive palates, limited conversational skills and a baffling inability to sit the fuck down.
  2. If you have a toddler and want to eat out, maybe don’t go to the tiny hipster joint full of humans too artistically profound to have children. They hate you, your uterus and the mammal it housed. They don’t think your kid is cute. They wish you’d stop ruining the fucking planet. Now pass the boutique beer.
  3. Perhaps also avoid the white-linens-only church-vibe restaurant without a dish below $50. Why? Because toddlers are fucking annoying and nobody wants to be annoyed in a $50-per-plate restaurant.
  4. I get it. You want to still go to these places. And YOU CAN. On Friday, when grandma has Johnny for the evening. I know you think you deserve all the rights and privileges of those without children. I know. I get it. But check it out: One of the rights of people without offspring is the ability to sit in a restaurant and enjoy themselves. Sure they have no meaning, depth or hope in their lives, but THEY HAVE ENJOYABLE DINING EXPERIENCES. Let’s give them that. It’s the least we can do as superior human beings.
  5. Or go to a loud, big, raucous family joint. People that hate children don’t go there. Or if they do, it’s their problem.
  6. But don’t let your toddler cry there either. That’s still a dick move. I have kids and I still don’t want to hear yours. I barely want to hear mine.
  7. So if your toddler cries or screams for more than a few minutes, TAKE HER OUT OF THE RESTAURANT. This is not rocket science.
  8. If you leave a big mess on the floor, pick it up or leave a giant fucking tip. And I mean a BIG TIP. I’m not going to pick up rice kernels on my hands and knees for 20 minutes after my baby (because I used to work in a restaurant and happen to know bussers have sweeping tools for that sort of job), but I sure as hell am going to leave at least a 25% tip. Because I try not to be a dick.
  9. Back on topic: Don’t let your kid run around. Don’t let your kid scale the booths. Don’t let your kid throw food. Don’t let your kid scream. Don’t let your kid bang things on other things. If a grown human did these things they would be escorted out of the place and instructed to stop smoking meth.
  10. So, as a general rule, do not let your child act like a tweaker.

These are not hard rules. These are easy rules. As parents I think we should be aware of the fact that we are bringing highly annoying humans into a place where adults are attempting to not be annoyed. Unless it’s a family restaurant.


There’s no boutique beer here, asshole. Only slick menus and chicken strips so leave me alone.

Really it isn’t IF my toddler is going to be annoying, it’s HOW annoying my toddler is going to be. And sometimes that level is so high I just pack our food up and eat in the car while regretting every decision I’ve made in the past 10 years and wondering if anybody would notice if I moved to a yurt in New Mexico.


But then I remember that people without kids have no meaning, depth or hope in their lives. Whew what a relief.*



On the other hand, toddlers need to learn to how to behave in restaurants so they don’t grow up to be the dude I sat next to a few weeks ago who was doing things with his sweet & sour pork and vocal cords that made me wonder if perhaps somebody should intervene.

So hey, maybe restaurant-goers sans kids can work with us here a bit too, and show a shred of compassion as we dig in our purses, pockets and souls looking for something to entertain this highly annoying small human with a limited palate so we can get some fucking nourishment.

(Trust me we aren’t expecting to enjoy ourselves. Going to a restaurant with a toddler is about as enjoyable as trying to corner a feral cat while the world looks on, judging.)

Cut me a bit of slack. Five minutes. Maybe 10. TEN AT THE MOST (not of crying. crying gets 12 seconds.). And if it doesn’t get better, I promise I’ll take my special snowflake outside to melt on the sidewalk so you can eat in peace.

Let’s just try not to be dicks. All of us.

Even in restaurants.

Kumbaya. Bon appétit. Feral cats. Whatever.

Hi, I'm Arlo, and I'll ruin your fucking life in a restaurant.

Hi, I’m Arlo, and I’ll ruin your fucking life in a restaurant.

*DEAR INTERNET: I do not actually think people who don’t have kids lead meaningless lives. I am making fun of that mentality. There are numerous cues in the writing indicating that. If you can’t find them, please ask somebody who knows how to read to help you.

When did we start trusting “experts” over our own eyeballs?

by Janelle Hanchett

A few weeks ago, in an uncharacteristic move because I hate pain, I engaged in a conversation on Facebook about sleep training. It was in response to an article basically saying how sleep training does not harm baby brains, or whatever, which I believe. Great cool whatever.

But the thread degenerated (AS THREADS DO) into a discussion about “data” and “science” and this and that the other thing, referencing and quoting and linking, everybody attempting to “prove” their position as “right” and good and valid and BACKED BY SCIENCE.

There is one reason I’ve never sleep trained my kids: Because it’s never felt right.


That’s it. That’s the extent of my insight on the topic.

And that is enough.


 I don’t care what you do. Do what feels right in your gut. We don’t all have the same guts, so it makes sense that what feels right to us would vary.

we don't know what the fuck we're doing but somehow we're doing alright

we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing but somehow we’re doing alright

This is enough for me, and ultimately it always has been, but I wonder sometimes when we as parents learned to trust 3rd party “experts” more than our own observations, feelings and experiences. I have heard of mothers crying outside their baby’s door grasping a timer, waiting for the 1-hour mark to be up so they can go in and get their baby. They read it in a book. It’s supposed to work.

I have seen mothers killing themselves to adhere to “attachment parenting” rules, terrified they’ll obliterate their child’s chances at happiness if they put them in a crib.


I have an idea: If it doesn’t work, how about we stop doing it?

If you feel every compulsion to not let your baby cry, don’t let her cry. If you need your baby out of your bed, get him out of your bed. If nursing isn’t working any more for either party, stop. Or keep going. Keep going until it doesn’t work any more.

Fuck the books. Fuck the experts. Fuck em all.

There are hard things in parenting: Keeping boundaries. Watching your kids suffer the natural consequences of their mistakes. But these things are right. They feel right. They are hard, but necessary.

Neither sleep training nor co-sleeping is fucking “necessary.” Those are matters of preference. Learn the damn difference, world.

Hey moms: You are enough. You know enough. It all passes eventually. I don’t mean this is some kumbaya bullshit way. I mean it seriously. We all have the capacity to assess what’s working in our lives and not. That’s kind of what being an adult is, right?

Except with parenthood. With parenthood you need to believe strangers. THEY KNOW BETTER FOR YOU. (They’ve convinced us of this because $$, people. MONEY. The more desperate parents become for “answers” the more stripped of their own confidence to make decisions for their families – the more they’ll pay for guidance.)


I tried to “sleep train” Arlo once. He was 10 months old and nursing all night and driving me batshit. I was determined to do something new.

After 20 or 30 minutes of crying I went over to the crib and put my hand through the bars onto my baby’s cheek. I felt the wet of his face, the frantic gasps and tiny shakes. The heat of his body. He calmed a little. I removed my hand and he wailed again.

I put my hand back on his cheek. His chubby little hand shot up and pressed mine against his face as hard as his little baby arm could push. His dimpled palm against my hand, holding me there almost desperately, or so it seemed.

I said “FUCK THIS” out loud, scooped my baby up and took him back to bed with me, said “Mac we’re not doing this, just come to bed.”

And as I laid there and nursed him and felt his quick little post-crying breaths smooth out back to the peace we both knew, I knew I would just hang out here in messed-up sleep land until a new reality surfaced.

Because a new reality always, eventually, surfaces. That’s what I’ve learned in 14 years of motherhood. It’s all temporary, though it doesn’t seem so at the time.

The co-sleeping thing wasn’t really working, but it worked better than whatever the fuck that was.

So yep, I didn’t sleep train my baby because he pressed his hand against mine.

And that’s enough.


Mac said “You know Janelle we’ll never regret them being in our bed. We may regret kicking them out.”

And he was right, for us. For our family. For the way we do family. That’s how we roll. And it’s cool. We get by. We get through.

Shockingly, despite this rampant co-sleeping, we have kids who sleep without issue and don’t burn puppies.

Sometimes they all sleep together on the floor, and often two are crammed together on a twin bed, and even more often all three kids are in the same room in bunk beds, but I’m unsure where the problem is there. Humans who enjoy human closeness? OH THE HORRORS.

Clearly, kids learn to “self soothe” even if you don’t teach them shit about “self soothing” (at least not on purpose).

THE BOOKS LIED. Turns out you don’t have to “train” kids to sleep well. Or maybe cosleeping is good “training” too.


About a month after our experiment, Arlo suddenly started nursing once a night instead of 14,897 times. The problem resolved itself. Can you imagine?

It was temporary.

It’s all temporary.

Four kids who sleep and don’t burn puppies. Winning, motherfuckers.


Yesterday I was fidgeting with my houseplants and started thinking about how we treat plants. When we bring a new one home, we read the label to learn what sort of light it likes, how much water, etc. And we make all kinds of choices the best we can, given what we know. But if the leaves change color or fall off or it isn’t growing well, we change things up.

We move it to a new spot. More light. Less light. More water, less. Maybe we repot it.

We may try 4 or 5 spots in the house, a couple different watering patterns. Maybe we read about the plant, Google it to see what other people suggest.

But ultimately, we trust the leaves. We trust our eyeballs. The plant is thriving or it’s not. It’s healthy or it’s not. Our efforts are working or they’re not.

We never think to ourselves “This plant is defective because it isn’t thriving in the spot Google SAID IT SHOULD THRIVE.” We don’t just keep forcing a certain arrangement because it “SHOULD” work. We can see plainly that it isn’t working. Who cares what the plant book says?

Maybe this is a freak plant. An anarchist plant. Maybe this plant has zero fucks to give. But it’s ours. We committed to it. We do what we can.

Ultimately we don’t really care why it isn’t happy, right? We just respond. We see our job as an arranger of externalities, of things we have control over, to create an environment in which the plant can thrive. We know it can. We never doubt that. We know it has within it everything it needs to become its best self. A healthy vibrant thing.


I wonder why we don’t do this with kids. I wonder why we don’t just trust our eyeballs. Is it working? Are the leaves falling off? Is it droopy?

Are we droopy? Are we not thriving?

And if the answer is “yes,” why don’t we try something new? Change it up? Give it a shot and see what happens.

Trust that within us we too know what we need, what our kids need, or at least realize we are the “experts” on our own damn families, and we don’t need data or facts or books or articles to back our game. And trust that our kids have everything THEY need to thrive, if given the right environment. We have everything we need to provide that environment.

We’ve got giant green leaves, deep hungry roots, a yearning for sunshine and each other.

And that’s enough.

So hey there mama. For what it’s worth, I’m here to tell you that your no reason is enough. A tiny baby hand rested on yours is enough. The simple realization of “this isn’t working” is enough.

You don’t need my validation. I don’t need yours.

But it feels right to give it anyway.

Just like this morning, when Arlo woke up, crawled over, and did this.

If it works, I ain’t fixin’ it, no matter how many books insist it’s broken.


When did we decide kids shouldn’t suffer?

by Janelle Hanchett

You know what I realized recently? My kids aren’t suffering enough.

Oh, come on. I don’t mean like that. Not suffering abuse or neglect or whatever. Get your head out of the gutter.

I’m talking about healthy suffering. Toil. Good ol’ fashioned WORK. I’m talking about discomfort, doing things repeatedly that are physically, mentally and emotionally unpleasant because you have to. Because it needs to get done. Because there’s nobody else to do it.


the man in question.

So, I have this husband who grew up on a ranch. Actually I only have one husband, but he did in fact grow up on a ranch. Eighty acres of farmland and a small, family run slaughterhouse (sorry, vegans). And from the time he was old enough to work (so like, 7? 8?) he was expected to, um, work. He had to get up and feed animals – when it was pouring rain, hailing, or Christmas. The animals don’t care. When it was 45 degrees or 106 degrees and a cow got out, he had to go handle it with his dad, whether or not he felt like it. I used to watch him catch chickens and my God he hated it. I’ve never seen a person more irritated. I could tell he was miserable, through and through.

There’s value in misery, I tell you.

And he worked in the slaughterhouse (still does, actually. In fact he’s there as I write this, at 7am on a Saturday). I’ll save you details but I’ll tell you this: It IS NOT pleasant. I don’t care how gently SouleMama makes it seem to slaughter turkeys or whatever the hell she does, it’s messy and disgusting and freezing cold (or stiflingly hot). It’s foul (fowl? hahaha. TELL ME I’M NOT FUNNY.) beyond recall. It’s physically exhausting, and it’s relentless.

But as a result of this relentlessness, his life reflects some principles that make him a damn fine human being (if I may say so myself), and something of a lost art.

He understands:

  • The world is not here to cater to him.
  • Hard work is a natural part of life.
  • Physical discomfort is not that big of a deal.
  • If something needs to get done, YOU FUCKING DO IT.

Sometimes it seems like we all work so hard to provide our kids “comfort” and “a nice childhood” that we forget that a good portion of life is just WORK: dirty, grimy, unpleasant. I mean, isn’t it? Isn’t a good part of your life doing things you don’t feel like doing?

Not that we’ll all be toiling on ranches under the beating sun, but rather, life requires the ethic that underlies that work, the willingness to do the damn job until it’s done because it needs to get done.  And even though you don’t want to, even though it’s terrible and unpleasant and exhausting, YOU DO IT ANYWAY.

Let me back up. Here’s what happened. One of my kids was purposely doing only half of an assigned daily chore because s/he found it distasteful to his/her delicate sensibilities. Vague enough for ya? Yeah, well the details don’t matter, and I don’t really want to call my kid out on the internet (well, not directly, at least). The point is the child was purposely deceiving us for a month because doing the unpleasant portion of the job was JUST TOO MUCH or whatever the hell. Couldn’t be bothered. Couldn’t be made to feel uncomfortable. I discovered this and was furious. I’m like wait. WHAT? On what planet does this make sense to you? Everybody in your world works, homie, and hard.

Georgie is ready to work.

Georgie is ready to work.

Your dad is an ironworker who commutes 4 hours a day to provide for his family. Your mom is 8-months pregnant teaching 3 classes, trying to develop a freelance career and raising 3 other kids. We aren’t martyrs. We’re working people. Not because it’s glamorous, but because we want to eat.

Your grandparents work. Your great-grandparents STILL WORK. We aren’t some silver-spooned, Town & Country-reading douchecanoes who sit around basking in trust funds and lamenting the plight of the world. Come the hell on, kid!

But then I realized in a moment of painful self-honesty that my kids have never really been made to suffer much, to get their hands dirty, so why am I surprised? If life teaches you that comfort is the expected baseline, why would you ever accept the opposite? If daily existence confirms your right to unadulterated pleasantness, clearly unpleasantness is an anomaly to be avoided. Right?

I’m realizing that sometimes, kids need to work hard, really hard, against every shred of their desire. They need to be made uncomfortable. They need to get super freaking pissed off and do the work anyway.

At least, I think they do.

Yeah, my kids do chores (SORT OF), but rigorous work? Not so much.

Hours of work? Probably not.

Work that really, really pisses them off? Doubt it.

And this is supposed to be a good thing, right? These kids that have such a “nice life,” such a relaxed, supported life?

Right. Until they grow up to be the The Entitled Asshole in my English class. Oops. Was that my outside voice?


I’ve seen the product of “Oh honey, the world is here to serve you” and people, it ain’t pretty. I’ve seen the product of “Dear, we’re all here to make you more comfortable” and “You shouldn’t have to suffer, sweetheart” and it manifests in an expectation that the world should love them for showing up, for breathing. It develops into an attitude of “well I’m here and I’m wonderful and I really feel like I should be able to do the bare minimum of work and you will compensate for my laziness because duh! I’m me!”

I’ve seen the results of the every-kid-deserves-a-trophy mentality* and I am here to tell you IT ISN’T WORKING.

Every kid does not deserve a motherfucking trophy.

You know who deserves a trophy? The kid who works the hardest. The kid who puts in the most time. The kid who shows up and BRINGS IT.

Alright fine. In tee-ball they all deserve a damn trophy, because they’re four.

But after that, kids deserve what they put in, nothing more and nothing less. And I’m not getting all “American bootstraps mentality for the win!” on ya. Come on. I know there’s more to the story than that, and hard work alone doesn’t guarantee “success” in the world, but I also know 100% that I cannot teach my kids the world is here to serve them, or even, really, as harsh as this sounds, that the world gives a shit about them. The world does not care about my kids. The world cares about itself.

My job is teach my kids to ask themselves “What can I contribute to the world?” Rather than “What can I take from it?” So many takers. I want to raise givers. Imagine if we all raised kids who grew up asking what they could contribute to the situation, to each other, to the world?

Okay, John Lennon, settle down.

But seriously, that wouldn’t suck.

And since right now my husband and I and this house are their “world,” we’re going to start with some gardening in the hot sun, some washing of floors and some Saturdays spent cleaning and organizing and sweating, a lot, all day. And there will be no trophies given.

The trophy is knowing you did it, and you did it well, even when nobody was looking, even when you didn’t feel like, because it had to be done, and you, thank goodness, were there to do it. There’s an unparalleled sense of satisfaction there, when you give, when you work your hardest, for yourself and others, because you were needed.

And if there isn’t satisfaction, get over it. Not all endeavors in life are infinitely fulfilling. You did the work necessary because you understand that sometimes work is necessary. And that alone sets you above Entitled Douchebag status, which, I’m sure we can all agree, is a win.

HA! OMG. There. There’s your trophy, kid: You aren’t an entitled douchebag. 

You can thank me later.

*Note: I did not invent the trophy thing. Somebody told it to me and I stole it but for the life of my I cannot remember who said it. So, if you’re reading this and you’re the one who said it: 1.) you’re a genius; 2.) sorry for stealing your shit; and 3.) tell me and I’ll cite you, MLA style.

To the new mom traumatized by BabyCenter: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

by Janelle Hanchett

Look, I know how it goes. You pee on that stick and you’re all “OMG I’m having a baby!?” but you can’t tell anybody because the obligatory 12 weeks, so you go to the one place you can get excited and talk safely (OR SO YOU THINK)…


You log on, create some cryptic name for yourself, find your “Birth Club” and start reading. You think you’ll find some like-minded women in the same stage of pregnancy as you and you can all commiserate and stuff.

But all you see are acronyms. Lots and lots of acronyms. What the fuck do DD, DS, BFP and FTM mean?

Who are these people? Do all mothers speak in acronyms? Why are they all using acronyms? HOW COME I’M THE ONLY ONE NOT USING ACRONYMS?

After reading a few posts and having no clue what the hell they’re saying, you sheepishly Google “BabyCenter acronyms” hoping nobody sees and praying to God there’s some sort of guidebook for this new world. I mean you’ve only been pregnant for 47 minutes and you’re already incapable of joining the mother crew?

It ain’t looking good.

Rest easy, friend. As a woman presently enjoying her 4th child’s limbs flailing against her bladder, I’m here to tell you in absolutely no uncertain terms that YOU ARE NOT ALONE and no, despite appearances, mothers are not some sort of weird gang wherein language is reduced to communication-via-acronyms, as if baby-in-womb immediately results in the inability to write words out completely.

DD is “dear daughter” and DS is “dear son” and DH is yep, you guessed it, dear husband. And yes, I’m with you. Why the hell do I have to add “dear” to the beginning of my kids’ titles? Isn’t that sort of contained in the word “son” or “daughter?” I mean it’s my SON OR DAUGHTER. Sons and daughters tend to be “dear” to their mothers. Usually. For at least a couple hours a day.

Husbands, on the other hand, are another story and I’m still confused about what sort of twisted 1950s throw-back decided all husbands have to be referred to as “dears.” Perhaps they’ve never actually had a husband, or cohabitated with another human at all.

But I digress. FTM is “first time mom,” which basically means certain non-FTMs will tell you all the things you don’t know and will never know until you’ve reached the pinnacle of motherhood (as they have). It’s also a flag to signal to the douchebag judgmental mothers “I’m new here. Please don’t attack me for my question.” (Edit: Also, FTM means “female-to-male” and, on this blog, “Fuck the Man.” Good times.)

Incidentally, we don’t all know things you don’t. In fact, some of us admit to not knowing shit and even, perhaps, knowing less with each child. Perhaps we have a little more experience with not knowing shit, but meaningful, universal parental advice? Yeah, for some of us that died a little more with each baby, along with the stamina of our pelvic floors.

I mean I’ve been a mother for nearly 13 years and all I have to offer is that I think the excessive use of acronyms should be classified as some sort of disease, particularly when it’s used to turn regular words into cute words.

The worst acronym is BFP. “Big fat positive.” Oh god help me. Just say “positive pregnancy test” and move on.

Maybe I’m just a bitter skeptic.

No, for sure I’m a bitter skeptic. And if you’re still reading, you might be one too.

So anyway you read the acronym list and you’re “in” and stuff but now that you know what people are saying, you’re actually more terrified than you were before. It turns out that access to the content of these posts is actually WAY WORSE than the ignorance you previously faced.

You read things like “Hey, FTM here. I just got my BFP and I’m wondering…is it possible to get pregnant from a blow job?”

You read it like 7 times, lest your eyes deceive you. You tell yourself you’re making it up. It’s a joke. Somebody’s joking. THIS MUST BE A JOKE.

But then the next post is titled “Am I pregnant?” and you’re like “Well hmmmm, I fear I may not be the correct person to answer such a question, particularly since I’m not a motherfucking pregnancy test.”

Who answers the question “Am I pregnant?” by logging on to an online forum? In other words, a place 100% unable to provide a reliable answer, particularly when a reliable answer is available for a few bucks at the local grocery store?

And then you start to wonder if perhaps you’ve entered some strange twilight zone in which all the people are insane, and the ones who aren’t insane post things like “Abortion is MURDER” and then wonder why they get so much “backlash for sharing their opinions.”

Wait. Maybe they’re insane too.

You read on, sure you’ll find your people. Sure you’ll find people who are just kind of regular ol’ humans who just found out they’re pregnant but instead you find people asking about baking soda and urine to determine the sex of their baby (at 5 weeks pregnant). You decide to give it a break and try another day, for the good of your own mental well-being.

A couple weeks later you wonder when you might feel your baby move. You log on and read this: “I felt my baby move at 6 weeks. It’s all a matter of how in-tune you are with your body. I do yoga so I’m sure that’s how I felt it.”

And you’re like “What the fuck is wrong with this broad? You moron your “baby” is like the size of a goddamn pea – and it has no limbs yet – but rather than own the fact that logic has clearly vacated your brain, you’ve somehow managed to turn this around to look like a deficiency on MY PART. (You know, because I’m so out of touch with my body I can’t feel the flutters of practically nothing.)

Look, FTM, all I really want to say is that you aren’t alone. BabyCenter and Pinterest and shit, they’re fun, I like them okay sometimes, but I assure you you’re not the only one who reads words like “I haven’t yet committed to a nursery theme” and feels a strange sense of existential angst. There’s nothing wrong with you because your “nursery” is an office you were supposed to deal with a year ago, or a corner in your bedroom, or a corner in your bedroom of your parents’ house. There’s nothing wrong with you because your “nursery theme” is the stuff your sister gave you, or you look at that empty bedroom and realize you have absolutely no taste. None. No decorative style/ability/decorative talent up in here. So basically you buy stuff and put it in the room and hope for the best.

There’s nothing wrong with you because you’ve gained 36 pounds at 29 weeks and the BabyCenter humans are all “I’ve gained 12 pounds and I’m 38 weeks and I just feel AWFUL!”

You’re not the only one who reads posts about “still satisfying my man even when I’m pregnant” with an eye-roll and mumble “Satisfy my man? Huh? He’s lucky he gets it once a month. I’m creating new life, piss on myself when I laugh and have a baby pressing against my cervical wall and I waddle – WHAT THE HELL DO I CARE IF MY “MAN” IS GETTING HIS ROCKS OFF?”

There’s nothing wrong with BabyCenter.  That’s not true. There’s a shit-ton wrong with BabyCenter, but of not everybody there is psycho. And it’s damn entertaining. I still go on it sometimes, for funsies, to watch the drama, to read things like “HELP ME! I can’t find a perfect GOING HOME OUTFIT!!!!” and enjoy it for what it is while being okay with the fact that my baby’s “going home outfit” is not the central focus of my day, nor will it ever be, because I just don’t care that much about things like that. Yeah, when I had hospital births it was fun, but it was never life-changing. So few of these things are ever actually life-changing: The crib, the diaper bag, the nursery theme, the carseat system thing.

For a long time I felt like a freak because the only damn thing that really mattered to me was the baby, and possibly the fact that it was in my belly and needed to exit. I didn’t get excited about cupcakes or baby sprinkles or gender reveals or cute baby announcements (have yet to send those bastards out) and I was sure I was defective somehow. I’m a subpar homemaker with rooms that don’t match and the idea of “coordinating” things makes my stomach hurt.

But truthfully the only think I’ve really learned over the past 13 years is that THE ONLY DAMN THING THAT MATTERS IS THE BABY.

It’s the only part that’s life-changing at all. The rest can be fun, but it’s superfluous, and it’s okay not to care and in fact, many of us don’t.

So yeah, you may feel like the silent lurking freak on BabyCenter, but you are not alone. There’s a shitload of us.

Just wanted to let you know.

Um, my baby's "nursery." It's next to my dresser. Inside is Georgia's doll and pillow. Tied to the leg is our dog's leash, because he chews shit at night if he's not tethered. Pin that shit, baby!

Um, my baby’s “nursery.” It’s next to my dresser. Inside is Georgia’s doll and pillow. Tied to the leg is our dog’s leash, because he chews shit at night if he’s not tethered. Pin that shit, baby!

I have the kid I used to judge other people for having

by Janelle Hanchett

It took a while to figure out, but I’ve finally determined that yes, for sure I have a kid I used to judge other people for having.

I used to look at people with their insane toddler hell-bent on standing in the shopping cart or running through the center of the mall and I’d be like “Well now, look at that little specimen of humanity” and then I’d look down at my own toddler, sitting quietly in her stroller gazing at shit with age-appropriate curiosity (reflecting profound intelligence and insight, obviously) and I’d be all “I’m so glad my excellent parenting has produced such a solid toddler as opposed to that person’s shithead kid.”

The other day, as we walked through the mall, I looked back and saw my husband carrying Georgia sideways and upside down as she flailed.

He asked me: “Do you have her other shoe?”

Yep. That’s me.

I now have the kid who’s plotting her escape at every fucking moment, occasionally finding success and running full speed, gleefully, into the wild blue yonder while I attempt to run behind her, which is a sight, I assure you, you’d rather not experience.

Actually, at this point, I’m so over it I usually just send one of the older kids after her, which makes me an even MORE SHITTY parent as I stand there watching my insane toddler bolt across public areas while calmly telling my 8-year-old “Dude. Go get her.” Then I watch with a mixture of resigned amusement and vague depression as he darts through the crowd and grabs the youngest one’s shirt, or pants, which may or may not result in her hitting the ground laughing hysterically, or bawling and screaming.

One can never be sure.

If you don’t buckle the carseat fast enough, she will launch herself across the car and into the back seat while giggling. She may get back into her carseat, IF you’re going someplace interesting to her (“When you get in the carseat we can go to the park!”).

But then again, she might NOT. There’s a good chance she’ll just run to the opposite end of the car no matter where you go to grab her, like the bad kid in Chevy Chase movies. And then you’ll just be the asshole yelling nondescript threats and wondering what the point of children really is. You know, when it’s all said and done.

Yesterday she squealed “Super Georgie!” and bolted through legs of the people standing in line of a restaurant. But that was kind of my fault, because I brought up the whole “super Georgie” thing to my mom and inspired her.

Silly me.

I have the toddler who won’t stop squirming down the bench seat in the restaurant (to say “hello” to the people at the next table – duh), but when you put her in the high chair she repeatedly pushes off the table to shove herself backwards and occasionally removes half-chewed food from her mouth.

Why? Because toddlers are fucking insane.


And she’ll stand in the shopping cart. Or try, repeatedly. She’ll grab shit out of the back of the cart and throw it.

She’ll scream “I HAVE A PENIS!” as loud as she can, which is mostly just annoying because of the volume, though the content could also be improved.

Or, my other favorite: “Santa is POOPY! You’re POOPY! I’m POOPY!”

That was yesterday, in Michael’s. We keep it classy.

Spilling things, mixing things, throwing things, constantly. Huge, huge messes. Messes you didn’t know were possible. In the refrigerator. “I’ll do it myself!” All the toys from the bedroom in the bathtub. Strange liquid mixtures all over the counter. Stickers. Everywhere. Pen marks on every wooden toy. Climbing. Jumping. Flailing. Lying down in parking lots, randomly.

It never, ever ends.

Maybe this is a result of deficient parenting. But IF this is a result of deficient parenting, WHY THE FUCK DIDN’T MY FIRST TWO KIDS ACT LIKE THIS?

Nope. This is just her.

Or maybe it’s that once you have more than two, the little hoodlums outnumber you and the older ones CRACK THE FUCK UP every time the smallest one screams “penis!” or “poop!” or flings herself sideways across dinner tables or throws her shoes and socks off while riding in the cart in Costco.

And you’re like “Stop laughing!” and trying to put your motherly foot down but for real it does nothing because there’s THREE of them. The energy of your voice is like a kitten walking against a tornado. Sorry. That was a little morbid.

The kitten’s fine.

A couple days ago Rocket was lying on the floor and Georgia literally did a cannonball off the couch onto his stomach. It was awful. Not funny. INSANE.

Where does she get this shit?

Maybe I’ve done something wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe it’s just her. Maybe it’s a perfect storm of factors resulting in this gorgeous, crazy kid.

But whatever it is, I’d like to offer an enormous, heartfelt “FUCK YOU” to the old me, to the mom who walks by and sees me kind of sucking ass with this child, trying my hardest to rein her in when all the forces of life are against me.

And I’d like to explain to that mom, the one standing there with her perfect toddler or two, that if she has enough kids, her day may come too, when suddenly SHE’S the one in Michael’s picking shit up in the aisles with a toddler squealing at a stranger perusing the aisles: “Those are OUR BUTTONS! Don’t take OUR BUTTONS!”

And I’d like to explain something else, that the kid you see throwing herself out of the cart is also the one who runs into my room each morning and yells (after removing her clothes): “Do you want to cuggle (cuddle?). I ALWAYS love to cuggle!”

And she’s the one who had a big boy monster truck birthday party. She’s the one who hears a song in Old Navy and says “I gotta dance!” Then gets down and dances in front of the mirror. She’s the one who sat on an old man’s lap for a few minutes and gave me one of the most beautiful moments of my life.

She’s the one who seems to fill just about every square inch of the lives of those who know her with a joy that’s hard to explain. You can kind of see it in her eyes. In her sly smile, in the way she walks. A certain determination to live, to be what and who she is, as “irritating” as it may seem to the rest of the world. And to me.

I’m very serious when it comes to manners, and I am decidedly not one of those parents who’s all “Oh look at my kid acting like a shithead! Isn’t it cute?”

It’s not cute.  I don’t think it’s cute. You don’t think it’s cute. NOBODY THINKS THIS SHIT’S CUTE.

I don’t let her get away with poor manners and insanity. It’s just that she ALWAYS TRYING NEW METHODS OF CRAZY, which means my life with her is often a serious of averting disaster and attempting to correct the last disaster. Sometimes my mothering of this child is reduced to just trying to get through whatever task is at hand: a trip to the grocery store, dinner, the car ride.

If you don’t understand what I’m saying, just have a couple more kids.

If you’re lucky, you may get one like this…the best worst kid in the world.

And you’ll learn the only cure for horrible judgmental douchebaggery is to become one of the assholes you used to judge.

So thanks for that, Georgie, I owe you one.

1014201_10201752734803147_658876553_n 1148770_10201751599974777_206776795_n dancing in Old Navy, to a terrible techno song FUCK YOU, Stickers