Always get all your ducks in a row — even (especially) when you are in a crappy place.
Explain to your three year-old before you arrive at the party that the phrase, “party pooper,” has nothing to do with actual feces.
No matter how lacking your progressive school education may have been, don’t make up National Geographic “facts” that some birds make their nests out of their own poo, then pretend to be a bird with your toddler, then leave said toddler alone in the bathroom. You will not enjoy cleaning up the “nest” she has made.
I wasn’t raised in a religious household (sorry, Parents, if you intended for me to come away from my upbringing thinking otherwise). My primary exposure to angels and demons, or any religious imagery, for that matter, was via television, The Smurfs in particular. I remember thinking those little blue guys must be pretty devout believers, because anytime one of them was faced with a moral dilemma an angel and a devil would hover, one above each of the shoulders of the Smurf in crisis, and advise how said Smurf should proceed.
Yesterday, I was a Smurf in crisis, and I could almost see the little miniature versions of myself hovering above my shoulders and whispering in my ears. This is the Smurftastic conversation they had:
Yippee! You get to go out for a birthday dinner with your daughter and her father! Those are two of your favorite people in the world, and you love your birthday. How exciting that you get to have an extended celebration!
You idiot! Your birthday was over a month ago! Why are you getting all excited about somebody not caring enough about you to celebrate your birthday in a timely fashion? Lame.
I am over paleo. Lame! I wanna eat cake all the time. And your birthday was a month and ten days ago! I am in no mood for celebrating.
Gee, I wonder where baby daddy could be. He said he was leaving his house a while ago. He should be here by now. Huh. That’s odd.
Me (in tears on the phone to said baby daddy ten minutes past my daughter’s normal dinner time):
What? You are already at the restaurant? I thought we were meeting at my house.
See? I told you he doesn’t care about you. The two of you can’t even communicate about dinner. It is so late and dark. Why did you even agree to do this in the first place? I mean, what’s the point of maintaining a relationship with your not-quite-ex-husband in the first place? Move the hell on, Dork!
Just because you aren’t together romantically doesn’t mean you can’t be good co-parents and friends even. You care about him. He has been a huge part of your life for the last ten years. Besides, the misunderstanding wasn’t his fault. You are both responsible for ineffective communication in this instance.
Me (through tears. Addressing hungry, tired, toddler in the backseat):
No, we are not at the restaurant yet, but we will be there soon! I know you are hungry. Mommy and Daddy had a misunderstanding.
What is up with all this traffic?! I told you you should have picked a different location. Lame! Why are you torturing your child like this?
Traffic will clear up, and you know what? I will call her dad and get him to get in line so the food will be ready for us when we walk in. How’s about that? In fact, this whole misunderstanding enabled us to get dinner without having to wait online, so maybe it turned out for the best after all. Lucky us.
I am so flippin’ hungry!
Me (tears abated. Addressing toddler in the backseat):
We are almost there, and when we get there, your daddy will have food ready for us!
I have to pee! Pee! Pee! Pee! Now!
This is ridiculous! She peed before we left the flippin’ house! What the hell? Why did you potty train her anyway? It’s so much more complicated and time consuming than putting diapers on her cute little butt (yes, even the Devil thinks my daughter is cute).
We are so lucky that she took to potty training so easily. You should be grateful that you can avoid changing diapers, and that you have such a mature and responsible child.
Here we are! Let’s go. There’s a bathroom right here. (We race to the bathroom, past the huge mob of people lined up to get burritos in Castro Valley on a Tuesday in November. We spot her father, still not halfway through the massive line.)
Did you see him?! We will never eat!
Let’s focus on the task at hand. Do you have a change of clothes for the child? I think I remembered to put some in her bag.
Here we are my dear. (We dart into the bathroom, and I get her on the toilet just in time for the contents of her entire bladder and bowel to flood into it.)
Ah! We made it. See? Wasn’t that perfect timing? I bet by the time we get out, food will be ready for us at our table. Hot-diggity-dog! What a charmed life we lead.
Um, what’s that floating in the toilet?
(To the toddler) Uh-oh! Sorry D. It looks like your headband fell in the toilet.
(Pausing for a brief visual — you are lucky I didn’t take a picture. I did consider it. Her headband was pink, and somehow it seems to have fallen off mid-poop, for it is floating there, half covered.)
Toddler (chin quivering, now on the verge of tears):
I want it!
Angel, Devil and Me (unable to stifle laughter):
Toddler (threat of tears overtaken by giggles):
And in this moment, just like in the Smurfs of yesteryear, my angel and demon vanished into thin air and I was left alone with a toddler in a bathroom full of poo. We held a small service for the headband. We waved goodbye as we flushed it down. “Maybe we’ll see it again another time,” said my ever-optimistic toddler.
“(God, I hope not!) No, it is really all gone. Sorry about that. Next time we will do a headband check before we go potty.”
After washing our hands, we emerged from the bathroom just in time to see my baby daddy paying for dinner. We had a delicious dinner, and a lovely visit, and I even got to drive home alone blaring music of my own choosing. Happy birthday to me.
I would say, “See? I told you everything would work out!” but that wouldn’t be very Smurfy of me.
Encouraging pretend play promotes creativity in toddlers. Also, little “cats” don’t ask nearly as many questions as little girls, so more free time for you, too. [Wait! That’s not your litter box!] Um, maybe not so much with the increased free time.
The crowded bathroom at Target may not be the best place to try and convince your two year-old that her daddy doesn’t have a vagina, “just like us, Mama!”