Nude 2-year-old lives in box
It's not hard to look like you're a really terrible parent. All you need to do is have a baby. Two years later, things will happen, which, if they were printed in a newspaper, would make you look monstrous.
People who know Lucy know she has developed a perverse delight with dog food. It's better than it used to be. She used to take the kibbles out of the food bowl, put them into the water dish and stir until she'd made a thin gruel, which she would then use to style her hair.
Now, she mostly likes to snack on kibbles when she's feeding Misty, which is one of Lucy's chores. She likes doing it so much that she feeds Misty several times a day.
I've tried everything to get Lucy to stop feeding herself in the bargain. I've tried pleading (doesn't work) to yelling (makes us all feel bad) to placing heavy objects on the dog food container (too inconvenient).
Now, I'm just ignoring it. She'll outgrow it. Meanwhile, though, any reporter spying on my family could report that there is a mother in Seattle who feeds her 2-year-old dog food.
The reporter could further spice up the story by saying the same mother confines the child to a cardboard box.
It wouldn't be entirely accurate, though. The box part is true, but Lucy is the one who puts herself there.
She spends hours every day sitting inside the box, which is in our dining room. Sometimes, I go in there with her, and sometimes I just sit outside, dropping pretend worms into her pretend nest.
Really, though, it's a box built for one and Lucy makes a dash for it every time someone comes to the house. So, while this gives the impression that I have trained her to stay in the box when guests arrive, the truth is, she likes to hide.
I don't always mind this hiding thing, as often, Lucy is completely nude. Even though it's freezing outside, Lucy hates clothes and blankets. I'm glad she likes her skin, but we do see an awful lot of it.
I sometimes wonder how I got to this point. When I was in my early twenties, I used to sometimes look in the fridge, which contained little more than pickles and mustard. I'd think to myself, "Who lives like this?"
Sometimes, when I look at Lucy eating dog food in her box and I think, "She's a cardboard sign away from being a bum. Who is this kid's mother?"
It doesn't just stop at what kids do, though. It sometimes is what they say. Lucy now gives herself time outs, as though she's so used to getting them, she knows the signs a timeout is coming.
If I so much as say her name with my "you're busted" tone, she runs to the steps and says, "I'm having a time out." It doesn't stop there. She was just listening to the ocean in a paper cup. Then she stuck the cup in Adam's shirt and says, "You have a time out, ocean. Stay there."
This does not make me look like a nice mommy.
And it gets worse. Just this weekend, some family friends gave us a pan full of delicious cinnamon rolls. My Dad, who is quick to ply Lucy with ice cream, candy and other corrupting substances, held some out to her.
"Here, Lucy," he said. "Have some sticky buns."
A few minutes later, she came up to me and said something that sounded like, "Wet bottom."
I reminded her that it's best when she pees in the potty and took her into a bedroom to change her diaper. Oddly, however, her buns were completely dry.
"Want bottom!" she said, after I put her pants back on. "BOTTOM! I WANT SOME BOTTOM!"
What could this mean, I wondered, that my two-year-old wants bottom? Has some sicko been squeezing her there?
She led me into the kitchen and pointed at the sticky buns.
"Mama, I want some more bottom, please," she said.
Suddenly, it all came clear to me. Lucy was having synonym trouble with the cinnamon buns.
It's a good thing the reporter wasn't there, or the headline would read, "Nude, dog food-eating 2-year-old who lives in a 'time-out' box begs for something we can't print in a family paper."
Ultimately, it's probably a good thing for me to be the kind of parent I would have judged harshly and swiftly just a few years ago. It sure makes me less quick to weigh in on the parenting skills of other people.
And it's also a good thing you get eighteen years to raise a child. I think I'm going to need every one - and a lot of fortifying cinnamon bottoms - before I finally get it right.