DIZMOMMY > January 2015

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January 30, 2015

Why I Didn't Punch You in the Face

Dear Target Cashier:

If you overlook my spider smashing ways and the countless childhood fights between my four sisters and I, I’m pretty nonviolent. But that’s not why I didn’t punch you in the face. And even though I’m all for freedom of speech and expressing your opinions, that’s not why I didn’t punch you in the face, either.

You see, my son is a pretty normal 2 year old. That means he’s not normal at all. He screams in the middle of grocery store aisles, he falls to the floor on purpose, and he hits me. He’s been hitting, hair pulling, and head banging since he was strong enough to sit up on his own. So even though I didn’t seem phased when he slapped me for pulling a bag of crackers out of his hands so that you could scan them and I could pay for them, there was a point in time when this type of outburst terrified me. I was once like you, gasping in horror at his physical aggression. I wasn’t always so nonchalant and nonreactive, swift to correct his behavior like a reflex before turning to you and jokingly responding to your shock soaked face with a, “Oh yeah, he’s violent. We’re working on it.” Not too long ago, the worry consumed me. 

I spent months trying to figure out why my son thrashed his head against walls and tile floors without regard for injury. I researched, I asked friends, other parents, and I read books for answers and guidance. And at every single one of his doctor appointments I questioned why my son was so physically aggressive. Everyone assured me with certainty that, “He hasn’t learned how to express what he wants. He’s frustrated. He’s independent. He’ll grow out of it. It’s okay. He’s just a toddler. It’s normal.” Still, I worried. I stressed. I cried. And I wondered: Are they right? Is my son going to be okay? Why does he hurt himself? Why does he hurt me? Is he going to hurt people? Why doesn’t he care? 

He’s grown much better with age. Instead of slamming his head against the floor in the heat of a tantrum, he now slowly eases it back so it doesn’t hurt him. And though he still lacks total impulse control, he finally gets that hitting isn’t nice and will apologize without being prompted a lot of the time. This type of progress has ironed out most of my am I raising a serial killer? concerns. So what you witnessed from behind a cash register as I was checking out of your store was quite frankly (in my eyes), no big deal. A little slap on the wrist from my 2 year old doesn’t rattle me anymore. But you know what does? That big mouth of yours. 

Witnessing a toddler hit their mother can be surprising when you're not used to seeing it. So your gasp was understandable. But when you looked at my son and proceeded to say, “He’s autistic, right?” I wanted to punch you in the face. 

It’s not because my son is or isn’t autistic that I wanted to punch you in the face, but because it’s none of your business. None of your damn business. I don’t have a diagnosis, but other parents do. I have a child prone to violent aggression whereas other parents do not. But regardless of whatever diagnosis my toddler does or does not have, its disclosure is personal, sensitive, and on my terms as his parentThere's just something about a stranger talking about and labeling your child that gets under my skin.

Though your comment rattled me, I wasn’t offended. I know autism isn’t a death sentence, it isn’t the end of the world, and having an official diagnosis can often times be a relief because at the end of the day, parents want answers. Answers help us help our children grow into their best self. 

But like I said, I spent a lot of time in the past worrying about my son’s violent tendencies. So when you flat-out labeled my son autistic, the words, “No, I mean, I don’t think so?” just fell out of my mouth. Looking back, maybe I should’ve just punched you in the face. Doing so would have prevented you from proceeding to publicly diagnose my son and stating as a matter of fact, “Hitting is the first sign of autism, I see it all the time.” Though I had no response on the outside, you should know your insensitive small talk was funding my return to question land where the sun stays hidden behind dense fog of uncertainty, as I asked myself whether you, some random stranger, saw something in him that I didn’t.

My regression almost materialized once I got home. I nearly opened up my browser, called my son’s doctor and began googling foolishness per your claims. But my son interrupted, as toddlers often do, tugging on my hand and pulling me towards his room pleading, “Come on mommy! Let’s go! Trucks!” And as he led me to the floor where he’d lined up his toy trucks, ready for me to push around, I folded. My son is perfect as is, whatever that means now and whatever that becomes later. It’s too easy to cling onto something that looks like an answer when you’re riddled with questions. But let's be real- I was giving you too much credit.

You're just some stranger without a filter, just some girl with a big mouth who spews out whatever thoughts pop into your head; a quality that will ultimately resolve itself (perhaps with the help of a stranger's fist..just not mine). And that is why I didn’t punch you in the face. Your welcome. 


--

To my readers (who without a doubt will check me if I'm being a nut): What would you have done if a stranger saw your child misbehaving and began to publicly label them [insert any disorder here]? Am I being too sensitive?

January 26, 2015

Putting Toddlers to Work

Because I longingly dreamt of the day I could finally pass off crappy chores to my kin, I didn’t waste any time training my son to make me coffee at 8 months old. Call me lazy or call me resourceful, but you’ll be met with laughter if you dare deny that toddlers run circles, barrel rolls, and somersaults around us. I mean, that energy has to be good for something, right? Well in my world, it’s called work. Though I’m not suggesting we allow tots to operate heavy machinery or pesticides, there are some skills that they possess that make them highly employable: 

They’re fast learners. Putting them in charge of nuclear waste disposal might be a stretch (though if they could dispose of their own nuclear waste, that would be great), but training kids to wait on us is a no brainer. Bring me the remote peasant! 

They know their stuff. They can tell you if a meal is delicious or if your joke sucks almost instantly. And since they’re going to let you know regardless, might as well turn a profit from their no-holds barred brutality. Consulting gigs? Yes. 

They perform magic. Somehow, someway, toddlers transform safe items into deadly weapons and the durable into the delicate. How do they do this? I don’t know, but quality assurance departments should take note (or applications). 

They are willing…mostly. My son wants to do whatever I’m doing. He hasn’t quite figured out that sweeping is a highly undesirable task. Though such willingness may stem from nativity, it’s an asset I’m willing to exploit. 

They can put in the time. Kids have more energy in 1 day than I have all week. If anyone can work a long shift, it’s a kid. Throw some sugar at them and no sleep needed! They may be unpleasant and grumpy but so are a lot of employed adults. 

With all these qualifications, why are we enrolling our kids into preschools instead of trade schools? What exactly are we afraid of? 

That a bunch of babies will take our jobs from us? Preposterous. 
That a mob of skillful children will use their mastery as power to ultimately revolt against us? Plausible. 
That the workforce will expedite the childhood of our precious bitty babies’, causing them to grow up too quickly and as an unintended consequence, aging the parents? Oh. 

Suddenly I’m okay with child labor laws protecting my youth. I mean my son. But this doesn’t mean he’s completely off the hook because I'm still trying to break up with the kitchen sink.

January 15, 2015

Changing My Son's Name

Back when I was an expectant mother, I spent many a night prodding, fiddling, and planning my unborn’s future in my head. There were certain things I knew I wanted to veer away from being and becoming, like the mom that builds a box around their child and expects encourages them to stay inside- pushing them into activities that don’t necessarily interest the child as much as it does the parent (as I force him to gas up his power wheels, lol). And there were things I knew I couldn’t control or predict, like what exactly those interests would be (great, he likes “The Doodlebops?” See mom twitch.). But beneath the mass of infinite unknowns emerged one major power within my control: His name. 

Well that was too easy. For one, I didn’t have to care whether or not he liked his name because you get what you get. (Hah!) And secondly, I had already picked out and stowed a name away in my back pocket years ago. However, a potential deal breaker did exist and was completely dependent on one thing: the initials. Initials may seem frivolous to some, but trust me- they’re important. Just ask George Owen Davis, who ended up a lawyer and is forever dubbed “God” by his colleagues and clients. (Though Georgie boy doesn’t have it as bad as Farrah Alexandra Thomas.) That wouldn’t be my kid, I promised myself. I was going to do him right, be responsible, and give my son a decent set of initials. 

And it worked out! My first choice, Dylan, fit perfectly with my husband’s “one mandate” of a middle name (“Isaiah”). The final product? D.I.Z. I loved it! DIZ BABY! This made me DIZ MOMMY! Yay! I began making big proclamations that Dylan’s official nickname would be “Diz.” Diz would be what I called him around the house, what name I’d cheer from the sidelines, and the name others would pick up by mere exposure. I had it all figured out (in theory). Only now that I have a Diz and he’s a big time talker who knows his own name, he’s not “Dylan” and he ain’t a “Diz.” According to my son, he’s “Ding Ding.” 

Yup. Ding Ding. At first I was all, “Aww! That’s so cute! He can’t say Dylan so he says DING DING!” I chuckled, I partook, and I called out for my little Ding Ding as time went on until one day I stopped and realized that everyone else was calling him Ding Ding, too. How could I blame them? It’s infectious, this whole “ding ding” business. 

And I still chuckle at the use of Ding Ding; only now, I'm chuckling at myself for assuming I had a super naming power to begin with. So when you hear me shouting Ding Ding from afar, please know that I’m not announcing Table 4’s order is ready from the back of a kitchen diner, I’m referring to my son. (And yes, table 4’s order is probably ready.) 

Welcome to parenthood, where even your child’s name is to be determined (especially for Thomas Bradley Daniels).

January 8, 2015

Pretending I Didn't Hear That

For Californians, it was the coldest day of the year with a 46 degree high. Despite the unusual chill, I was feeling optimistic. After all, it was New Year’s Eve and I was finally putting the Lego Land tickets Dylan got for his 1st birthday 10 months ago (which by the way, were to expire the following day) to use. It was a procrastination win! But twenty minutes into the drive, Dylan began showing signs of restless toddler vehicle syndrome. I knew things could be taking a turn for the worse because such a condition not only affects the child, causing rowdy behavior, unbearable screeching, temperamental mood swings, and unpredictable aggression, but it also affects everyone else in the world car. So naturally, like a boss- I ignored him. 

Dylan eventually took my negligence as a hint and downgraded his screams into mere grunts and whines before putting in a request for a toy truck. I reached in the backseat and offered said truck, which was quickly whisked out of my hand. But Dylan wasn’t done with me. You see, this kid knows his stuff and pulls all kinds of attention-seeking tricks. Like when I tell him “no,” his finger suddenly develops a debilitating injury that must be addressed immediately, pleading, “Owee? Owee?” His most successful manipulation technique comes in the form of kisses, which he often uses when he simply must have a treat he knows is a long shot- tugging at my leg and begging, “Mommy?” right before laying the smack down smooch and sealing the deal with a, “Please Mommy?” UGH. HOW CAN I DENY YOU CHILD? And then I heard his truck fall. 

Okay, it didn’t fall. Dylan violently tossed it on the floor which is quite typical of him, as he frequently throws things then follows up his very intentional acts with fake-shock and, “OH NO!!” But instead of an “oh no," I got an, “OH FUCK!” 

Wait- hold on. NO NO NO NO NO! That can’t be right- there was no way my toddler said the f word, right? “Fox? You see a fox Dylan?” I questioned, knowing how ridiculous and nonsensical my method of damage control sounded out loud. 
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck!” Dylan contended. 
This was so not happening, I couldn’t possibly have THAT kid! Clueless, I decided to disengage. Option B involved advising him that we don’t drop f bombs and explaining that it’s a “bad” word, but that option reeked of backfirey. I mean come on, the kid is 2 and a thorough bred rebel-rebel who loves defiantly pushing the envelope...just like me someone I know. Oh and here's a fun fact, one of Dylan’s favorite songs to sing is “Bad boys bad boys, whatcha gonna do…?” 

I don’t know where on earth the little shit picked up such foul (yet contextually correct) verbatim. If Dylan’s New Year potty mouth is any indication of how 2015 is going to go, please pray for me, for I have a high absorption sponge toddler.  







January 5, 2015

Birthday Brat!

Today I am a big fat birthday brat. This means I'm sheepishly making outlandish requests followed by a cheeky, "...since it's my birthday?" to see just how far I can push it. So...since it's my birthday, don't forget to enter my giveaway here!


January 3, 2015

Captioning: The Secret to Retaining Memories

Though your kid growing up appears to be gradual as it happens daily before your very eyes, there is nothing more sobering than last year’s pictures. This is me today, squealing reflecting on Dylan a year ago: “OH MY GOD DYLAN LOOK! LOOK! OH MY GOD, WHO IS THAT?! YOU WERE SO SMALL!!!! I MISS YOU WAAAAAAH!!!!” 

Seeing a tiny baby who can’t support his neck in a picture, then seeing that same baby three feet away flipping a coffee table onto its side is a truth that hits me in stages. At first I stare at the picture like, “Aw, he was so cute!” And then I’m all, “WAIT a minute…he’ll never be that small again.” Catapulting the, “PLEASE STOP GROWING! RIGHT NOW!” Before finally transforming my panic into excitement as I look at my real mess maker of a child in real time and exclaim, “Hey stop it! You’re a big boy now, you know better.” 

Pictures can be so misleading. They’re quiet. They don’t scream, they don’t hit, and they don’t poop all over you. If baby pictures were honest, they’d include the pertinent information crucial to reminding you of how truly good those “good old days” were, instead of simply presenting some cutesy face that ignites our biased (and favorite) recollections. So before I forget forever and while my memory is still hot, I’m captioning the 1 year old I want to remember when someone asks me when I'll be having baby #2. 


Aw how cute, we’re kissing! Not so fast. This is the weekend following Dylan’s first week in a daycare, where he caught his first virus that made him miserable. We took him on a walk to get him fresh air. Halfway through the trip he began screaming inconsolably. This is why I picked him up...and forced him to kiss me. 


First of all Libechen, I’m sorry. Dylan was teething and was as usual, inconsolable. The only way to make life tolerable for the both of us was to give him our 14 year old dog, Liebchen…and putting her on his car for him to push. Though I don’t know for sure, I see a little bit of shame in her face. Three minutes of entertainment afforded by exploiting my dog for my son. Worth it. 


Easter! We were so excited to take Dylan to the Easter festivities! Unfortunately, he was having an “off” day and remained unimpressed, grumpy, and eventually violent when he couldn’t start the egg hunt before it started. But hey, he looked really cute. 


Actually, this photo is pretty straightforward. But there is one special note: It was mother’s day. All I wanted a hug and a picture- he wanted the hell away. #LifeStory 


This is too much. That smile is pure happiness. This is one of those pictures that I don’t care what was happening before, after, or during this photo because the sentiment shining through is intoxicating. This type of photo is graded highly dangerous because it’s bound to give me baby fever and cause me to suffer from selective (and temporary) memory loss. I just want to bottle up his sunshine and bask in it forever! OH MY GOD DYLAN PLEASE STOP GROWING UP!


Never mind. I remember now.