When it’s so cold, your face hurts.

My kids are going stir crazy. Even crazier than usual. So if you’re tracking and quantifying, that’s really freaking crazy. Winter in Wisconsin is enough to make a completely sane adult lose their mind, so I’m sure I don’t need to explain what that means for the toddler mind.  

It’s been about negative bazillion degrees outside. While I normally suffer through the 45 minutes it takes to bundle everyone up in their snow gear in order to have 15 minutes of peace and quiet while they play on the back patio, it’s been too cold for that. Heaven help us.

Since the cold snap, everyone in the FaceBook Mom groups are all, “What’s the rule for when is it too cold for kids to be outside?” And I’m all, “just throw on an extra layer, put some Vaseline on their faces, and shove ‘Em out the door.” They will tell me if they’re too cold. These are little people who whine about the shape their sandwiches are cut into and sob about the color of their socks, they’ll tell you if the temperature is not to their liking. Bearing this philosophy in mind, when I see the temp is -15F and -37F with windchill, not even I can stomach sending the troops out…Which means it’s the four of us, locked in the house. All. Day. Long. 

My nearly 4 year old son needs to run around. There is a lot of energy that gets bottled up if he isn’t throwing snow at the house or running laps on the patio. (Which has to be pretty difficult in full snow gear.) if we can’t go outside and get a little cardio in, the unused boy energy is then converted into shenanigans that manifest in behaviors that I like to categorize as “Why the heck would you do that?!” It’s all very scientific, folks. 

“Why the heck would you do that?!” Behaviors include (but are definitely not limited to):

  • Taking the (insert miscellaneous toy of the moment) your baby brother is playing with and smacking him across the face with it.
  • Emptying your sock drawer and UNMATCHING all the pairs. (Because your mother didn’t spend hours hunting down all your lost socks and repairing them with their lonely mates.)
  • Dumping all the Legos out of the box and then kicking them under the couch. ::eye twitch::
  • Locking your sister in the bathroom.
  • Locking your brother in the bathroom.
  • Locking yourself in the bathroom.
  • “Painting” your face with “raspberry paint” at lunch. (For the record, this is just smashing and smearing raspberries all over your precious 3 year old face and then attempting to convince an adult or guardian that you were being artistic.)
  • Emptying the contents of your sister’s bed and throwing it down the stairs.
  • Shoving cheese up your nose because you “like how it smells.”

In an effort to reduce or, best case scenario, prevent these happenings, we go outside. We push dump trucks around in the snow, build snow mountains and chuck handfuls of snow at the side of the house. We watch our shovel-aversed neighbor attempt to use a leaf blower on his driveway. (That’s fascinating for both toddlers and adults.)

  

  
Some days they’ll play for a solid hour, and that’s totally worth having my patio door frozen shut because they piled snow on the threshold.  Other days,  they’re pounding on the patio door to come in after five minutes screaming that their faces hurt. It was worth a shot, right? Those are the days I take a deep breath, lock the door, pull the blinds and put in some ear plugs. 

Just kidding. But I do hide the Legos and brace myself for a couple bathroom lock-ins.  

Call me “Mommy Spider”

One of the greatest parts about having a toddler is having a front row seat to their imagination. Since I have twin three year olds, we have imagination up the wazoo. Since three year olds are seemingly incapable of compartmentalizing, that imagination saturates all aspects of their lives.

Quite recently, the twins decided they were spiders. That was not a wording error on my part. I did not mean to say “the twins decided to pretend they were spiders.” I meant that they decided they were spiders. It’s an important distinction. In fact, they keep reminding me of that. Whenever I refer to them by the wonderful and thoughtful names I provided them upon their birth, they abruptly correct me, “No! I’m baby spider!” Do they know they aren’t really spiders? It’s questionable.

They crawl around on all fours, trying to mimic some spastic spider moves. This is probably my favorite part of the whole spider routine, since they stick their little rumps up in their air and walk around on their hands and feet. It’s a fairly disorienting position and they look more like drunken raccoons. It’s a good, deep stretch that I haven’t been able to accomplish since college.

  
They go to sleep in their “webs.” I am not allowed to refer to their beds as anything other than “webs” without evoking great offense from the baby spiders. It’s worth mentioning that a major part of this role playing exercise is that they now refer to me as “mommy spider.” Yes, I am the official arachnid matriarch. I’ve held better job titles, but at least they know who’s the boss. Here’s where the whole issue with not compartmentalizing comes into play; They don’t just call me “mommy spider” when they are actively pretending to be spiders. They call me “mommy spider” all. The. Time. At bedtime, mealtimes, family times, out in public…I can only imagine what strangers might think. Perhaps they assume I’m some hardcore biker Mom, “Spider,” or that I moonlight as a super hero, “The Mommy Spider.” It’s almost as bad as when my daughter loudly informed me that “her bottom itches” in a checkout line at Target. Almost.

Despite going on two months of living with spiders that I’m expected to keep alive, (definitively not the normal relationship I have with most spiders I find in my home) it’s one of the better imagination games they have come up with. It’s infinitely better than when they decided to paint their bodies with yogurt. And it’s definitely better than when they kept telling me there were ghosts in the hallway. I don’t care who you are, that will make you trepidatious even if it is being suggested by a three year old with no formal education or life experience.  What if there really is a ghost?!

I can’t lie, the spiders make me laugh quite a bit. They’ve even recruited their baby brother, and watching him attempt the drunken raccoon spider crawl is one of the highlights of my life. It has also made mealtime a bit easier, since the baby spiders are much more prone to eating something if they’re told its “spider food.” MmmmHmmmm. We’ll call that a Mom win…or, I should probably say, Mommy Spider win.

Shopping Isn’t What It Used To Be.

I remember leisurely strolling through the grocery aisles after work, checking out new products, intently crossing items off my list and conscientiously reading nutrition labels. If I forgot something, I’d head back down that aisle and grab it. Sometimes, when it was busy, I’d settle in and grab a trashy celeb magazine while I patiently waited in the checkout line. Now it’s a frantic sweaty sprint as I flail around trying to grab the essentials before someone poops, cries, tries to climb out of the cart, or complains that they’re hungry for the 83rd time. I get the hot sweats just thinking about a long check out line, because that typically involves lots of embarrassing singing and other desperate toddler entertainment attempts.

Wednesday mornings are for running errands. With three kiddos in tow, it’s no joke. We must function as a well-oiled, (but still slightly whiny) machine. Wednesdays are make it or break it, and when “breaking” is completely dependent on the moods and inclinations of three emotionally unstable mini-humans who lack impulse control, odds for “making it” aren’t great. So around here, Wednesday’s are usually called “cocktails with lunch.”

There are some chronic problems that always accompany running errands, like how most stores don’t have carts to accommodate three kids ages three and under. This is manageable, on a good day, when one of the twins is compliant enough to walk beside the cart. Unfortunately, most stores don’t even have carts that accommodate two kids. I’ve concluded that the grocery industry is, in a very passive aggressive way, trying to tell us that we ought to properly space our children out by at least four years. For this, my friends, this is the only way to efficiently navigate a store with carts that only have one seat.

So you can imagine my righteous indignation when I walk into our first stop to find that none of the double carts are available. That leaves me with two walkers. Not ideal. About two aisles in, one child decides they are no longer physically capable of using their legs and feet in the way the Good Lord intended. I hoist said child into the cart to cohabitate with my groceries and pray that the remaining walker can behave like a normal human being for the rest of the shopping trip. 

She cannot. There are too many shiny things, and packaged food items adorned with Anna and Elsa. As I was struggling to explain to my daughter why I would not be purchasing the Frozen themed pre-packaged doughnuts, a woman saunters down the aisle with her one child, comfortably lounging in a double cart. GASP. My blood pressure sky rockets. Really?! You have one kid. ONE. That means you need ONE seat. It’s pretty basic math. When you walk into a store, you do a quick headcount of all the little humans you brought along, and then you choose an appropriate cart. Let me clarify what I mean by “appropriate,” since there’s clearly some confusion here: you do not take a cart with more seats than you have children. 

Now that we got that pesky PSA out of the way, I think you know what happened next. I eye slapped her. That’s right, I slapped her with my eyes. She might not have known what was happening, but I did. It was a small slice of justice. I’d like to think I communicated to her how inconsiderate she was, but it’s more likely she assumed I had something stuck in my eye. 

My nonverbal act of aggression was quickly cut short as the one child that I did have properly restrained in the only seat available in my cart, got hungry.  I can’t say with complete certainty that he was hungry, but I do know that he began to suck on the cart. Yup. The part where everyone touches and infests with their dirty poopy disease hands? My baby was sucking on it. I nearly threw up at the thought of what could be on that cart. Clean up, aisle five! He thwarted all my attempts at stopping his game, and became quite dedicated to the task of licking every available surface on that cart. I talked the germaphobe in my head off the ledge with the notion that maybe  later I could have him gargle with some hand sanitizer. 

We finally paid and made it out alive. I’d say “by the skin of our teeth,” but I’m pretty sure my little guy left that on the cart. One stop down, Two more stops to go. That’s nine more car seat buckles and nine more car seat unbuckles. At least until tomorrow, since I forgot about 4 things on my list.