Archive for August, 2014

A few weeks ago I noticed bins of board books at our local library branch. I dug through them and noticed one with a dinosaur driving a piece of construction equipment on the cover. I added it to the “check out” pile without opening it, because Dinosaurs Plus Construction Equipment Equals Toddler Boy Heaven.

Inside, an increasing number of dinosaurs drive various large machines and do various noisy things.

They also take coffee breaks:

And get silly with each other:
As I suspected, the Boo loves this book because Dinosaurs! Construction stuff! And I love it because it’s funny and silly and it doesn’t rhyme. After two-plus years of “blah blah blue, blah blah two” I appreciate a text that’s fun to read without the same old sing-song aspect.

This author has two more in the same vein; we recently picked up one of them, Dinosaur Zoom, and it’s just as charming as this one.


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The Boo walking around with a blanket over his head, deliriously tired and laughing like a maniac.

Narrating his cooking play: “We need some coffee in the filter, then pour some back, that’s too much, now pour the hot water…”

Cracking up while singing to him at bedtime because he started giggling in the middle of singing along with me.

Waiting a few seconds for him to speak when he’s clearly thinking very hard about what he wants to say.

Sleepy morning hugs when he just drapes himself over me.

When he says “Want to rest on Mama for a little bit” after we finish reading books, before we walk to his bed. He reclines on me like I’m a human BarcaLounger and we talk about the day.

His dead-on imitation of me answering my phone, and the sweetly devilish grin that follows.

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You are, for all practical purposes, two and a half years old.

You now have this at your disposal:


You are working on the physics of pedaling, though you still find pushing forward with your feet Fred Flintstone-style to be far more efficient.

You ask, “What happened?” almost constantly, as a way to review the immediate past. Sometimes you answer yourself, sometimes we help you out.

You recited the following passage from a book after hearing it approximately six times: “Let’s start in the jungle where the tall trees grow and the monkeys swing from vine to vine.” You did this over your post-nap snack, just after seemingly spacing out for a few minutes.

You have several other favorite questions: “What is that?”, “What is that called?”, and “Where’s Daddy?”

You are making good progress on straightening out your pronoun usage because when you say, “You want Kix” or some such, Mama looks confused and says, “I don’t want Kix!” But your default setting is still to use “you” instead of “I.”

You have been introduced to the concept of privacy.

You have no desire to ditch your diapers, though we did buy you some very cute Thomas underpants that you like to look at now and again. Also, you’ve peed in the tub a few times, so you know how that works.

You have some charming toddler mispronunciations: piwwow (pillow), fadder (father), suhkuw (circle), dare (there), etc.

You adore having your Avva (Indian grandma) with us. You ask where she is when you wake up, and run to her when you find her. You also love to haul her around by the finger, and playfully run into her on occasion, so we have explained that she is delicate. Your favorite things to do with her are play hide and seek and go on walks.

You want to wear a sari like Avva does; you have settled for being wrapped in a towel.

You have started drawing cats, narrating the entire process: “We need a circle, and some pointy ears, and whiskers…”

You are utterly delighted with the conversion of your crib to a toddler bed. You expected all the rails to come off, not just the front panel, but we explained that’s to keep you safe, just like on Caillou’s bed, and you seemed to accept that.

You sat up and called for Mama the first morning you woke up in your big boy bed. So we practiced getting up, opening your door, and finding Mama. At the start of that day’s nap, you sprang up to go find Mama. Mama explained that big boys stay in their beds until after they wake up from their naps. She asked if you could do that, and you said yes. Then you went to sleep.

You have added “mommy” to the other names you call your mother (Mama, Amma). None of us use that term, so it took us a while to figure out you did this because that’s what Caillou calls his mother.

You are two and a half, and you reveal more of your big boy brain every day.

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Bedtime Story


Heading up the stairs, the Boo issues a proclamation: “I don’t like my bed.”

Actually what he says is, “You don’t like your bed,” because he’s making good progress on fixing his pronoun usage, but I don’t correct him when he’s overly tired and/or cranky.

I make a light remark about how nice his bed is, with the stripey sheets and the fuzzy green blanket and Tigey and Tigger. He does not reply, and we continue up our climb.

We go through the bedtime routine of books and cuddling on the glider, with a detour for adding batteries to the noise machine. These days he prefers to walk from the glider to the crib, and last night he had a question when he got there.

“What is this?”

“It’s your crib.”

“What is THIS!”

I notice that he’s hanging onto a couple of slats.

“Those are bars.”

“I don’t like bars.”

Ah. Crap. And here I’d had such lovely visions of him staying in his crib until his third birthday.

“Would you like us to take the bars away?”

A huge smile, a beam of little boy light in the dim room.


And now you know what we’ll be doing this weekend: cursing over poorly written directions while wielding an Allen wrench, all in the name of helping our little boy grow up.

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You know to take your kid’s favorite snacks and some cool new toys. Here’s the rest of what I found useful during our 36-hour journey to India with our toddler. And even if you’re kid-free, the tips for adults may come in handy.

For the kid:

Buy That Book Up There Or another Richard Scarry paperback to whip out when the going gets rough. So much to look at and talk about, my kid still wants to look at it a month after seeing it for the first time.

Entertain Me Bring an iPad and kiddie headphones (so the kid can hear Mickey, and to limit decibels) and have the kid practice with them before you go. Even if you’re flying an airline that has personal entertainment screens, there will be times (like layovers) when it will come in handy. Load it with whatever videos and apps the kid likes. Then suspend all judgement about how much screen time is too much.

Pack Smart Pack a backpack, not a diaper bag, using gallon Ziplock bags to separate diaper stuff, extra clothes, books, etc. It’s a lot easier to find things that are already categorized and separated into bags that just slide out. Bring extra bags for, um, soiled items.

Clean Up Bring antibacterial wipes to swab everything your kid can reach from their seat as soon as you sit down: tray table, armrests, buttons, air vent, everything.

Mobility If your kid is under 5, bring the umbrella stroller. They will nap in it, you can hang your backpack on it, you can gate-check it. I never want to travel without one again.

Diaper Hack If your kid is still in diapers, prep for changes by putting each diaper in a plastic grocery bag. That way you just add a couple of wipes and the diaper cream to a bag, and you’re good to go. Might sound like overkill, but that way you don’t have to take the entire diaper bag with you into the microscopic airplane bathroom.

Wipe Hack Put a chunk of diaper wipes in a quart-size Ziplock bag. Much cheaper than a travel pack, and you can use them to wipe faces and hands, too.

Sweet Sleep After they clear the dinner trays, go through your kid’s bedtime routine, but include Benadryl. Don’t judge. Some sleep, even drugged sleep, is much, much better than no sleep. Just do a trial dose at home to make sure your kid isn’t one who reacts to that drug by getting hyper.

Hydrate Bring a leakproof sippy cup or sport bottle to fill with water or juice once you clear security. We ended up using a very small water bottle with a straw stuck down inside it, because I did not figure this one out ahead of time.

Under Pressure Lollipops and gummi bears are handy for equalizing ear pressure during takeoff and landing. So is a thumb, if your kid is so inclined.

Get Cozy A small, light blanket is good as an emergency changing pad as well as a pillow, or, duh, a blanket.

Good Grooming Bring the baby nail clippers if your trip is longer than a week. Those suckers grow fast, and do you really want to hunt down a new pair in Dhaka?

Security! Practice going through security by having your kid walk from one parent to the other, and if you think seeing Teddy going into the X-ray machine will disturb the kid, put it into your backpack as you prep for security. Also, empty any pockets on the umbrella stroller and get very, very good at collapsing it quickly.

Let’s Play! Stick a deflated beach ball and a few hunks of sidewalk chalk in your checked bag for simple fun at your destination. Our shy boy would roll the ball to visitors, and they would delightedly roll it back.

Wakey Wakey! To beat jet lag quickly, suck it up and keep naps to a normal length and get the kid outside as much as possible. This should shorten the adjustment. From a week to three or four days. At least that’s what happened for us.

For you:

Repeat After Me Here is your new motto: Whatever makes the kid happy. Here’s your other new motto: Chill, it’s an adventure. Toddlers are mood mirrors. Give them something fun to reflect.

Stretch Out Get bulkhead seats. Your carry-ons will have to go in the overhead bins for takeoff and landing, but then you’ll have tons of legroom because your kid’s carry-on can go under his stubby legs.

Feet First If your feet swell on long flights, get some compression socks, avoid alcohol, minimize caffeine intake, and chug water. I did all that, and this was the first time my feet did not turn into footballs. Which hurts, by the way.

Get Comfy You are going to sleep in your clothes. You want elastic waist pants. Preferably with pockets. And a long sleeved top or a pashmina, even in summer. Planes get cold.

Block It Out You will need earplugs and a decent sleep mask. Planes are noisy and bright and sometimes the people on them are noisy drunken jerks all night because of something called the World Cup. Pfft.

Double Duty Diaper wipes work nicely as makeup removal wipes (our kid uses the sensitive ones). And they don’t count as a liquid. If this grosses you out, put a few in a small ziplock bag and keep it with your toiletries.

Dr. Feelgood Bring an assortment of basic meds (Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Tums, Imodium, Benadryl for the kiddo, etc.) in an old prescription bottle and keep it in an easily accessible place. When you get the runs at 30,000 feet or your body aches from not sleeping, you’ll thank me.

Entertain Me! Carry an iPad, Kindle, or other reading device for yourself since the kid will probably be using yours. I loaded books from the library onto my phone. Not my favorite reading mode, but the carry-on was plenty heavy without a book in it.

Sleep? Ha! Don’t take a sleep aid, e.g. Benadryl. You’re not going to sleep much anyway because you’ll be waking up every time your kid flips over on the seat next to you. You don’t want to be groggy on top of being jet lagged. Sleep when you get there.

Get Greasy If you get a pat of butter with your meal, save it. You’ll want to slather it on your face to keep it from peeling in the dry cabin air. Kidding! But do wash your face and smear a bunch of good moisturizer on it before you attempt to sleep. If nothing else it’s nice to have one part of your body feel clean. And plane air truly is dry as hell.

Bon voyage!

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