May 26, 2004

Bad Mommy. No Cookie.

Today I committed the gravest sin a mother can commit: I failed to read my child's mind and take appropriate pre-emptive actions.

The Boy has never gone in for a lot of the normal comfort devices of child and toddler-hood. He never sucked his thumb or a pacifier, never got attached to a blanket or had a teddy bear that he dragged around everywhere. He does, however, have Puh-Dog. Puh-Dog is a stuffed floppy brown dog that The Boy has to place on his head in order to get to sleep at night, stretched across his eyes like a furry sleep mask. Puh-Dog also accompanies us in the car on the way to daycare, and then Puh-Dog will, on occasion, inhabit The Boy's cubby all day. The Boy doesn't need to actually hold Puh-Dog for comfort, he just likes the physical proximity. And as often as not, Puh-Dog will be told to "stay with mommy," and left in the car while The Boy carries on his important Boy Business.

Recently, Puh-Dog has gotten a companion in T-Bone, a stuffed version of the little yellow dog that viewers of the Clifford TV series will be familiar with. Where Puh-Dog goes, T-Bone will follow, often with the result that The Boy is rendered invisible in his car seat by a pile of stuffed dogs. But while Puh-Dog often is singled out to travel solo with The Boy, T-Bone never is. Clearly, T-Bone is second best. Pity poor T-Bone.

Lately, The Boy will often substitute other items for Puh-Dog when we leave the house. Mostly he'll take one of his Thomas trains, sometimes a toy car (the miniature Big Red Car complete with Wiggles is a favorite), and one day he took a leather bound book of poetry. We don't know why he did that, but Hublet is convinced it's proof of The Boy's discerning taste and his advanced intellect. Not that Hublet is in any way biased. I didn't have the heart to tell Hublet that The Boy only wanted to see if he could peel the leather off the book's binding. Guess what? He could! Numerous lectures on How To Treat Our Precious Reading Material ensued. And there was gluing. Lots of gluing.

Anyway, I've made a habit of inquiring whether The Boy wants to take Puh-Dog and T-Bone in the mornings. And even if he says "No!", I toss them in the car anyway, because he'll ask for them when we're halfway there. I think you know what's coming next.

We've been working on self-dressing skills. Today The Boy managed to get his Thomas underwear on right side out and frontwards, and was struggling with his shorts. I asked him if he wanted Puh-Dog and T-Bone, and the answer was, "No! No mommy! No Puh-Dog! Don' wan' Puh-Dog! Ooof!" This last bit was from the fall caused by his putting both legs through one leg hole of his shorts. I put down Puh-Dog and T-Bone, and went to assist my immobilized child.

Oh, how that scene has played in slo-mo in my head since then: the fall, me looking over to see The Boy on the ground, placing Puh-Dog and T-Bone in a kitchen chair and going to the rescue. Because The Boy, true to form, wanted Puh-Dog after we had traversed 17 of the 22 miles to our destination in morning rush hour traffic. And today, he was denied!

There was no tantrum. It was actually much worse--quivering lip, big tears rolling down his cheeks, and plaintive cries of "Please mommy, I want Puh-Dog! Please?" I attempted misdirection to no avail, "Look son! A fire truck!", attempted to substitute the now mangled book for Puh-Dog, and even did the whole tough love "Well, we don't always get what we want in life, son. Stiff upper lip and all that." thing. Finally, we arrived at the daycare, and The Boy was momentarily distracted by the big limbs that the proprietress had removed from the giant oaks surrounding the building. Oh, and by his toothbrush--don't ask why we had his toothbrush in the car and not his Puh-Dog.

Fortunately, Nathan was poised at the entrance to yell hello and give The Boy (and my left leg) a big hug. Remind me to tell you about Nathan sometime. Sweet kid, but there are issues. And so The Boy sat down to feast on peanut butter and strawberry jelly toast with milk, and I managed to prise the toothbrush from his hands. Thus my day continued as normal, except for the crushing guilt of being the Bad Mommy Who Destroyed Her Son's Faith In Humanity. Ah well, I'll get over it. In about 10 years.

Posted by Big Arm Woman at May 26, 2004 12:56 PM

ROFL! We've got a "Puh-Dog" in our house too! It's a stuffed bear named Bear. And my son has been sleeping with Bear draped over his eyes for years.

Is Puh-Dog drool-scented? Bear is.

Posted by: julianne at May 28, 2004 05:16 PM

It's Purple Bunny at our house. My daughter passed him up, height-wise, at about 18 months. Try wagging a toddler-sized stuffed rabbit EVERYWHERE. It was like having twins. He only didn't get dragged to kindergarten because by then he was too fragile to leave her room. At age 17, she still sleeps with him.

Posted by: Laura at May 28, 2004 06:39 PM

Forget college. Just start your kid's therapy account now.

Nah, honestly, those of us who at least try to meet our kids' needs (as opposed to those SLAP!! SHADDUP!! I'LL GIVE YOU SOMETHING TO CRY ABOUT!!) parents are just going to have to suck it up, sometimes.

I've learned the Cline-Fay Empathic One-Liners: "I bet you do" --over and over and over, in the best empathic tone you can muster.

Posted by: Liz Ditz at May 30, 2004 12:36 AM