Category: kids (page 2 of 24)

In Which I Unintentionally Torture My Child

On occasion, you have the best of intentions. You really do. But then everything blows up in your face and you end up torturing your child to within an inch of his sanity instead.

It happens.

You see, I’d intended to give Manchild the opportunity to prepare for his next race. Last year he complained that I hadn’t trained him well enough to run a 5K, and he was right. I intended to do better this year. I had planned to take him running several times in the weeks leading up to the race (which is now a week and a half away), but life sort of happened without us running together and with Miles for Midwives right around the corner, I thought some running would be better than no running, and since the boy seemed game to try to squeeze in a couple of training runs before the race, last Saturday morning we went for it.

And by “went for it” I do mean that we dove right in without much thought. We gave no consideration to the fact that he hadn’t eaten breakfast. We didn’t even think that he expected to keep up with Micah and the other kids on the bike. Nor did we bat an eye at the distance he’d have to cover to get where we were going (over 2 miles) or the fact that he hadn’t run that far since last Miles for Midwives.

And with all that leaping without looking, I got what I deserved. The boy was crying before we even left. I took longer than he expected to get ready and Micah was well on his way by the time we got out the door. That was severely upsetting to him. And, because we always eat our muffins in the park on Saturday morning, he was fairly famished. There was no chance of getting the waterworks under control. None. So I did the only thing I could think to do: get him to breakfast as quickly as I could. Which meant running as fast as his little legs – and his heaving, crying lungs – would allow. I held his hand and off we went.

I can only imagine what passersby were thinking when they saw me pulling Manchild down the road, telling him what a great job he was doing, that he’d be okay, that we were almost there, that he just needed to keep breathing. I imagine . . . actually, I take that back. I can’t imagine what they were thinking. I just hope they were generous in their judgments. I was doing the best I could.

We made it about a mile before he said he needed to walk. And then he was pretty vocal in letting me know when I was going too fast. Still, he somehow managed to find the energy to squeeze in some fartleks on the downhills. It really seemed like he was trying to lose me as we sprinted down the last hill and through the tunnel and to the field where we normally play Ultimate. But he couldn’t lose me because we were stopped short. The field was surrounded by fences and people with walkie-talkies. They told us that the entire section of the park was closed for a Nickelodeon event. Ugh.

I’m pretty sure Manchild thought I closed the park specifically to torture him even more. I didn’t. In fact, I was pretty bummed about it too. There was nothing left to do but call Micah and have him come rescue us. Which he did. Within 10 minutes Manchild was recovering from his trauma while munching on a pumpkin muffin.IMG_4773

We spoke not a word of the incident the rest of the day. But the next morning he mentioned that he legs felt a little funny. Like maybe they hurt a little. And after a moment of consideration, everything from the morning before came back to me, only with this silver lining: he’s sore. He really worked hard. He’ll be stronger next time.

Assuming, of course, he’s willing to let there be a next time.

Weekly Retrospective: Things I Didn’t Know

I knew that Manchild starting school this week would have a huge ripple effect on our daily lives. I knew I’d be spending nearly 2 hours on the bike every afternoon to go get him. I knew we’d be waking up earlier to make sure he was on time to class. I knew I’d get more time with Squish.

What I didn’t know was that Squish was such fabulous company. He’s so funny and energetic and helpful and wants to talk and tell me everything he is thinking about (which today was, mostly, the Incredibles). He did that before, of course, but now it is without interruption. It’s The Squish Show all day long and I kind of like it.

I didn’t know that two children – even if they are the younger, less obedient two – are a delight to shop with when you are used to having three little people to keep track of and remind to be considerate and aware of others.

I didn’t know that I was even capable of waking up at 6:30 5 days in a row.

I didn’t know that finding time for Little Miss to nap would be such a headache. Two naps between 10:00 and 2:00 is kind of pushing it, but it’s better than having her fall asleep at 6:00pm, right? And then waking up at 8:00 for another 3 hours? Or maybe I should put her down when we get home at 4:30 and let her sleep until dinner? The jury is still out, and by the time we’ve figured something out she’ll probably be moving to one-nap days.

I didn’t know that pushing the stroller with two kids would be so hard for me. It didn’t used to be. But then, it’s been a while since I’ve done it. (And maybe I should have guessed – I chose to do that after riding over the Manhattan Bridge 6 times in 2 days, and with way too little sleep. (I stopped counting the hours. It made me too tired.)

I didn’t know we’d make it all the way to Friday before we had a major hiccup: forgetting the backpack. With the lunch. I spent my morning delivering it to him. Let’s not do that again.

I didn’t know how hard it would be for the boys to be away from each other, to not be doing everything together. Squish broke down in tears on Tuesday when he realized he wasn’t going to get to drop his big brother off at school, and several hours later Manchild had an emotional break of his own when he found out he missed watching a few episodes of “Charlie and Lola,” which Squish got to watch while I cut his hair.

I didn’t know how having one kid in school would effect my writing schedule. I knew that it would change. And probably pretty severely. I hoped the change would make it easier to write during the day. Turns out, it makes it harder. Which means not only are we waking up earlier, we’re getting to bed later. And just when I’d gotten to the point when I felt like this was sustainable. *sigh* Maybe I’ll reach that point again before too long. (But until then, please forgive my somewhat erratic posting schedule.)

first day

This week on Babble:

If you want to run fast, run fast!: 8 ways to increase your speed.

The seasons change and so do we – and it’s a good thing, even when it’s hard.

Can’t seem to let go of your pre-pregnancy jeans? Here are 7 reasons you should hold onto them.


Disney Baby Giveaway!


A little while ago, we were invited to see some of Disney’s new looks for babies. Tigger was there. Manchild acted like they were long lost buddies, which was great because Tigger acted that way too. I mean, they even co-ordinated the orange stripes, so there you have it. Totally on the same wavelength.


Pooh was there too, of course. Just another long lost friend, I guess.


We spent an hour or so playing with the toys, enjoying the views from the hotel, getting our photo with our favorite celebrities (Pooh and Tigger, of course), and admiring the gear. Disney Baby has some really nice stuff these days. Not so much with the “just stamp a picture of Mickey on everything and call it good” these days. It’s much more subtle, much more fun.

I found myself coveting some piglet onesies for Little Miss and wondering if maybe some Monsters Inc. bedding could find a home in the boys’ room. I really liked the Finding Nemo stuff as well.

I’ve never really considered having a “theme” or even a motif for one of my babies. But if I had it to do again (and maybe I still do!), I might be tempted by an underwater theme with lots of Nemo elements, or a monsters look with some Mike and Sully scattered about.

(In retrospect, a monsters theme would have been great for Little Miss. Not only does she continually surprise us with her feats of daring, she really, really likes to roar. Oh, and she bears a bit of a resemblance to Boo.)


On our way out, we got a gift bag with some great gear: Little Miss learned to walk in the Disney-themed Crib & Crawl shoes (she wears them nearly every day), the Minnie Mouse sippy cups are essential diaper bag items, and the blanket and book made excellent baby shower gifts, just to name a few.

Because we loved the gift bag so much, Disney Baby has kindly offered to give one away to one of you. So, are you pregnant? Do you know someone who is pregnant? Then please leave a comment on this post by Monday Sept. 2 at midnight! I’ll randomly select a commenter and you’ll receive a Disney Baby gift bag in the mail!

Just tell me which Disney movie/character you would decorate your child’s room around. A woodland theme with Pooh and Piglet? A racecar theme built around Lightning McQueen? Classic Mickey and Minnie?

If you win, you’ll receive:
– A Hallmark Classic Winnie the Pooh book
– Pooh throw blanket
– A pair of Crib & Crawl shoes
– A Winnie the Pooh bib
– An On-the-go puzzle
– A pack of 1st birthday invitation cards
– A pack of baby shower invitation cards
– 2 Minnie Mouse sippy cups
– A singing Tigger rattle
– A bottle of baby wash
– A lullaby cd
– A white sachet with a onesie
– AND a Roller-pillar ball set
A lot of fun things and a lot of practical things. What’s not to love! Go ahead and leave a comment before Monday Sept. 2 at midnight! I’ll announce the winner Tuesday, Sept. 3.


The Power To Do Anything


“Next time we go to Wal-Mart, I want to get the power to do anything.”

“If I had the power to do anything, then I’d get two magic hats and teleport to Utah.”

“I have the power to do anything, so I’m going to fly over the barricades!”

“Guess what I have, Mom?! . . . The power to do anything!”

Yep. These boys are magic. I hope they never forget that.

Weekly Retrospective


I love living in Brooklyn. I really do. I don’t mind schlepping my laundry to the laundromat. It doesn’t bother me to navigate the narrow grocery store aisles with a basket in my stroller, two boys who alternate being way too helpful with chasing each other through the store, and a little girl who pulls things off the shelves behind my back. And even though our apartment currently resembles a bike parking lot, the lack of space is a tolerable annoyance.

Nope, those things are all part of the fun. The thing that gets to me more than anything is that living in Brooklyn sometimes feels like trying to catch all the rain from a summer storm in a thimble. There’s just too much to do, too much to see, too many fun activities, and too many friends whose schedules are as erratic as ours.

But the day is short. By the time I’ve convinced Squish to change out of his pajamas, it’s time to put Little Miss down for a nap. And by the time she wakes up, it’s time for lunch. And when we’ve finished lunch, we have just a small amount of time before it’s time for the second nap . . . .

What’s the point of living here if we can’t soak it all in? Why do we make these sacrifices of space and convenience if we’re not able to immerse ourselves in the bounteous opportunities to learn and explore and connect?

But I suppose it’s enough to know that it’s there, waiting for us when we’re ready. When one nap is sufficient and we’ve learned to change our clothes the first time we’re asked. And until then, it’s still pretty great to ride bikes around the block, or to dine in Prospect Park, or to go to the same playground day after day. Or even to schlep our laundry to the laundromat.

This week on Babble:

It’s a shame Manchild’s school is too far for us to walk to. I think I’d really enjoy taking him to and from every day.

There are a lot of things that I don’t like about myself. Or, I didn’t like them about myself, until I saw them in my kids. Now I think they’re just fine.

We’ve all had them: friends who have dragged us down. Do any of these types sound familiar to you?

And fundraising for a charity and training for a race at the same time sounds like a tall order, but I promise, you’ll get back more than you give.

Happy weekend, all y’all! Enjoy yourselves.


20130801-233305.jpgI have two sons. They are handsome and smart and sweet. They are curious and honest. They are silly and naive. They play light sabers and princesses. They draw butterflies and ice cream cones, space scenes and robots. Their birthday cakes have been rainbows and airplanes, pink snowmen and blue pigs.

Just a few weeks ago, they insisted that I paint their toenails a soft shade of blue and I obliged. Because painted nails are a treat that no child should be denied.

And despite their bookish tendencies and confusion as to why girls get to wear all the cutest clothes and be princesses, they are all boy.

Not just part boy. All boy.

Boys can, in fact, be nurturing and kind. They can abhor violence. They can be sensitive to others and they can have little interest in karate chops and shooting bad guys.

Somewhere along the line, that fact has gotten lost. Somehow the definition of “boy” became very limited. Somehow it became okay for girls to wear boy clothes, to play on boy teams, to have boy names. Girls can be girly-girls or tomboys and that’s cool. They are free to be themselves. They are encouraged to do anything, to be anything, to dream big and to challenge limitations.

But not boys. Boys have to be more careful. Ballet lessons are suspect. Pink is off-limits. Ponies are for girls only.

The wider the door opens for girls, the narrower it becomes for boys.

Boys who disdain pink and opt to play with guns and swords over dress-ups and wands are said to be “all boy,” but where does that leave those who have no such reservations over the color of their clothes or the toys they play with?

Guess what: they are all boy, too.

And before I go, can I tell you a secret? Pink is a really nice color. Actually, I shouldn’t have to tell you that. Even my 3-year-old son knows it.

What Do You Let Them Hear?

A couple of weeks ago my sisters and I “hungout” over Google and chatted. It was a Sunday afternoon and Micah and Little Miss were napping, but the boys were in the living room with me. We hadn’t been at it very long when Manchild butted in with a question: “What are you talking about?”

Ah, yes, the little pitcher with big ears. The boy who is interested in everything. The child who won’t rest until he gets an answer.


As it happens, we were talking about attraction. And how you handle attraction to other people in your marriage. We’d mentioned being attractive versus being provocative and that had provoked the question.

I turned away from my sisters for a moment to answer Manchild as age-appropriately as I could: “attractive” means that you want to look your best, take care of yourself, do your hair, and brush your teeth. “Provocative” means you do all those things, but you dress and do your hair and such in a way that makes people notice you more than they probably should.

It was not the perfect answer, but it seemed to be fine for him. It did, however, raise a question for me: What should I let my children hear me talk about with my sisters/friends/other adults?

Should I have been more careful in talking about extra-marital attraction in front of the kiddies? (We were speaking in vague hypotheticals, of course – I certainly wouldn’t talk specifics or name names in front of the boys. I don’t anymore, anyway. Most of the time.) Or are these conversations that should be had in the open? I mean, wouldn’t it be useful for them to know that sometimes these things happen? And that it’s okay to talk about them?

I’ve heard it said that you should let your kids hear/see you fight, as long as you let them see you make up as well. That way they know that arguing in a relationship is okay, that it’s not the end of the world, and that adults can fight and still love each other. Plus, by seeing you resolve the conflict, they see how that is done as well. It’s chock full of wins. (Except for maybe the trauma of having to listen to adults yell at each other.)

So maybe there are other parts of marriage and life that we should be more open with around our kids. While once, it seemed, finances were off limits (because do you really want your child to be worried about money while in elementary school?), more and more parents are opening their books to their kids, showing them exactly where the moneygoes and how much is leftover. Our kids are aware of our cashflow to a degree – and they will helpfully point out the cheapest choice if we’re in the market for something – but they’re still a little young to entrust with all of that information.

I can see some major benefits to letting the kids listen in on my conversations, easing them into adulthood slowly, and allowing them to be aware of some of the difficulties of life. Having those conversations in the open makes it easy to address concerns directly. Answering their questions openly and honestly – though maybe not thoroughly – will, I hope, lead to an equal amount of openness from them when they have questions or issues arise in their own lives. And letting them hear me discuss these things with others models for them that I don’t have all the answers and that sometimes it’s in talking about things with others that difficult issues become manageable.

Then again, maybe that’s wishful thinking on my part. After all, I live in a small apartment. Privacy is all but non-existent. I can hardly have an “adult” conversation without some risk of being overheard by little ears. So maybe I’m just trying to make myself feel better about that.

What do you think? What kinds of things would you let your kids overhear you talking about and why? Are there things you wish your parents had been more open about? Will you be more or less open with your kids than your parents were with you?

Weekly Retrospective

Guess what.

Yesterday, I took a shower and the Little Miss did not sit outside the door and cry the whole time. Also there were times (more than one!) in which I put her down and she did not immediately fold in half and weep and wail. Plus, not to brag or anything, but she has slept from 8:00(ish) to 6:00(ish) three days in a row. It feels like a new era is dawning in the Heiselt house, the sun is rising. And just in time.

Little Miss is 10 months old today and showing signs of getting past the separation anxiety that has dogged us for half her life. She’s playing more with her brothers. She’s excited to see her dad when he comes home from work. The world does not come crashing down when I walk out of the room.

Suddenly, it feels like we’re a family. A real family. We’re all involved. All piled on the couch jockeying for the best place to listen to bedtime stories, all jumping on the bed to see who can touch the ceiling.

And sometimes, randomly and suddenly, when we’re all a tangle of arms and legs and sweet, sticky skin, it feels like a very big family. In a very small space. We’re bouncing and laughing and bouncing back and laughing more.

We’re getting bigger. Growing, learning, adapting and adjusting. All that squirming around and growing and trying new things – we’re finally finding a comfortable spot, a place where we can relax and enjoy and not be in each other’s way. Or maybe, be in each other’s way, but lean into it, embrace it, embrace the chaos, the noise, the bouncing, the laughing. Embrace each other.

photo copy 6

And this week on Babble:

Giving high fives on a race course may just be the best way to spend a weekend morning.

Workout gear doesn’t have to cost money. You probably already have some at home.

Thinking you should be drinking organic milk? Think again.

It’s testing time. Is your teen trying to get ahead by taking stimulants? Are you sure?

Give a little something to your runner-friend. Here are some ideas.

“Mo’ Blu ka!”

Despite my best efforts, I ran out of time this week to work on a new essay. So I’m reaching back into my archives and pulling out something I wrote a few years ago, when Manchild was just learning to talk. I wrote it for the now-defunct Oliofolio blog, and I use Manchild’s real name(!) It’s funny how looking back at this brings me back to a specific time and place – in this case, the 2nd floor of our church building, sitting on the window sill. And it is also odd to remember that there was a time in his life when the boy did not speak in clearly enunciated sentences. Micah and I used to get a kick out of his pronunciation of “More blue car!” It sounded very French to us. “Mo’blu ka! Mo’ blu ka!”


“Blu ka! Blu ka! Mo’ blu ka!” Simon wants the blue car, but Matthew has it. There are other cars, of course, a red one, two green ones, a yellow. But Simon wants the blue one. And Matthew has it. There is nothing special about the blue car, but Simon saw that Matthew had it, and he wanted it. And when Matthew saw that Simon wanted it, he wanted it more.

“Mo’ blu ka!” Simon wails. Matthew holds on tighter, his little hands hugging it tightly to his chest. I try to distract Simon. “Look! A red car! Two green cars! Look! You can put one in each hand!” My enthusiasm does not distract him. “Blu ka! Mo’ blu ka!” I am holding him by the shoulders so he can’t grab Matthew’s toy. His mouth turns down at the corners. His chin wrinkles. His green-gray eyes are filling quickly and tears will soon stream down his reddening cheeks.

I speak quietly. “Simon, we need to learn to share. Can we let Matthew play with the blue car for a while and you can play with . . . something else? The red car? The fire truck? The refrigerator?” It as if he has not heard me. He is fighting valiantly for composure while still staring at the coveted car. He will not be dissuaded.

Matthew’s mom is trying equally hard to avert catastrophe. “Matthew, can you let Simon play with the blue car a little bit and you can play with the green cars? Two green cars for a blue car?” Matthew stares straight at Simon, his dark eyes are piercing as he clutches the coveted car to his chest. He will not yield.

Class is on hold. The teachers wait, interested in how this will end. The other mothers and children are frozen, watching as the tension rises, waiting for the climax, the meltdown, the tantrum. “Mo’ blu ka! Bluka! Mo’  blu ka!” His cries are more intense. He thinks I don’t understand what he’s asking for. He thinks I don’t understand how important it is for him to hold the blue car in his hand, but I do.

I know the excitement, the body wriggling, finger-pointing excitement he feels every time he sees a blue car on the road. I know the joy he feels at being able to see and name and understand what it all means. And I almost want to take the car from Matthew myself just so it isn’t my kid who erupts. But there is nothing to be done but wait. Wait until Matthew forgets. Wait until Simon forgets. Wait until the tension dies down. Wait until another toy is snatched up by another boy. Wait until wanting what somebody else already has is not worth it. Wait until the world is bigger than blue cars.

Middle Child Syndrome

The Little Miss cries and screams and weeps and wails if ever I leave the room or close a door between us or put her down or walk past her. But if I pick her up or wear her in the carrier, she pinches and scratches and pokes my neck and chest until it is striped with her “love.” Just got to make sure I’m still here, I guess. Just needs to be sure that I’m not just a dream.

Manchild peppers me with questions, reminds me of days and events gone by, begs to play games, wonders when we’re going to do that one thing that he really wants to do. And if I continue to answer his questions, he’ll continue to ask them. We’ll go in circles all day if he wants to.

And then there is Squish. The middle child. Squish, who tries so hard to love on his little sister but only manages to make her cry. Squish, who wants to keep up with his big brother but usually ends up knocked on the ground, having bonked his head or fallen off the couch or tripped on his own feet.

He demands my attention too, of course. He is the one who persists in helping me in the kitchen, who hangs around until I relent with my line that the most helpful thing he can do is go play in the other room. He’ll drag in a chair push it around to see what I’m doing until I finally give him the teaspoon and let him scoop the baking powder himself.

Still, he’s easy to overlook at this stage in our life. It’s easy to say that I need to take care of his sister right now, or to laugh at his jokes without actually hearing them. It’s easy to be impatient with him for not doing the things that I know he can do by himself but doesn’t – because he wants my help with them.

Maybe that’s why he’s been crying for us at night, when the other two are asleep, begging for us to put his blanket back on him. Maybe that’s the only time he has our undivided attention. photo copy 23

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