Category Archives: Kiddie Lit

Enquiring Minds Want to Know: Questions My Toddler Asks Me


Toddlers have a bad reputation of asking incessant “why” questions. In fact, that is not true. They ask all manner of questions. To wit, today, my 3.95-year-old toddler asked me the following–

All today. No fictionalization or fillers necessary here. In this order, from eyes open to eyes shut.).

(I will not describe the context to you for these questions, but feel free to imagine what you will)–

Can you come cuddle with me so I can wipe my boogers on you?

Why do you look so funny with your clothes off?

Can you carry me downstairs with one hand?

Can you carry me downstairs with one finger?

Why do these Cheez-Its smell like cheese?

What are my choices for breakfast? And what else? And what else? And what else? And what else?

Can we go to Montreal today? And Disney World? And England?

Can I wear these socks again?

Can I wear pajamas to school?

Can we have Pajama Day again?

Can I wear your slippers to school?

Can you have a Pajama Day at your school?

How come you don’t hold your penis when you pee?

Are you a boy?

Can I be a Ninja Turtle for Purim?

Can you be a boy?

Is today tomorrow?

Can I be Batman for Purim?

Why does your pee come out of your bum?

Can I have some coffee?

Can I be a doctor and a monster and a hockey player and a challah when I grow up?

Why can’t you go through a red light?

Why did you pick me up from school?

Can I eat the candy from the floor?

WHY did you flush my poo????? (waaaaaaaah)

Can you read me the book that makes you cry?

Can I come into your bed tonight and sleep on your head?

. . .

And then we said goodnight. And as Scarlett declared, Tomorrow is another day.


Bedtime Battle Royale


Picture it: Two vagabond parents pack up everything they own and throw it all into storage, then they drag their kids from their (now empty) home, stick them in the car, drive for hours, and when they arrive at a little house in a wooded lake town in the mountains, they say, “OK, everyone, sleep tight. This will be your home for exactly two weeks. Then we move on again.”

And they expect the kids to crawl into their chosen beds, pull up the covers, and not be heard from again until morning, when they eagerly rise to find their clothes in new dressers, eat their breakfast in a new dining room, and start a day at a new camp or at a new beach, make new (albeit temporary) friends, and try out new activities. Oh–and some of this in a new language. They have crossed an international border during their long drive, you see, into a land where most people do not actually speak English (and if they do, they pretend not to).

No problem. And really, no problem!–for the big kids.

You see, the big kids are used to being schlepped hither and thither. LL has probably been to more countries than many adults–among them, Japan, France, England, Latvia, Estonia, Sweden, Mexico, Italy, Germany (twice)–and he’s been to most provinces in Canada and almost half the states in the U.S. And as for living, he started life in the Northeastern US, moved to Western Canada, then back(ish) . . . Schlepping? No problem.

But the youngest–it’s hard to say that Baby MoFo remembers anything before our life in our princely town, save a visit to Gramma and Saba in the sunny state over winter break. If you think he remembers the famous camping incident or even this very country house that we stayed at last summer, you would probably be mistaken.

And perhaps this confusion is what has contributed to the BEDTIME BATTLE ROYALE.

I say “contributed” because even before leaving the princely town, we were having our share of woes: Baby MoFo diving out of his crib 1, 2, 10, 26 times and being returned 1, 2, 10, 26 times until he finally fell asleep. But now these woes have been ratcheted up a notch.

Now, the out-of-beds are more rapid (no crib), easier (the doors don’t close properly), and more disruptive (the boys are all sharing a room here), and they go on for much, much longer (sunlight be gone!). And to make things worse, this sneaky child’s mama feels guilty because she’s the one who is schlepping him hither and thither and then telling him to just sleep tight.

The routine goes something like this: Baby MoFo is readied for bed (bathed or not, changed into PJs, read stories). He gets some milky in a sippy cup which he is likely to throw at my head (I will confess, at this inopportune moment, that I took away his bottle exactly 2 days ago–which my pediatrician will likely say is insane because I should have done it a year ago or more, and my mother tells me is insane because a time of life changes is not a time to add more life changes). He is tucked into bed. Then he comes out and is returned to his initial bed for hours. Then the other kids beg us to take him elsewhere (I can swear I heard Cool J shout SHUT THE FUCK UP while fast asleep) and he goes into my bed. Then his bubby’s bed. Then the couch in the foyer. And then we’re back to his bed and he comes out and I put him in and he comes out and I put him in and I sit beside the door of his room and eventually he either gives up his wakefulness right at that border–

Or maybe makes it all the way into the living room and onto the sofa to come sit beside a mama who is too exhausted to return him to bed one. more. time and gives up there–

Yes, eventually he falls asleep. On his terms.

Please oh please oh please readers–mothers, fathers, aunts, uncles, pediatricians, people who have nothing to do with kids but like to dispense parenting advice nonetheless– do send me your brilliant insights and your deep wisdom, for which I would be so grateful — How, oh how, do I get this child to GO THE FUCK TO SLEEP?–in his bed, at bedtime.

[Here, my readers, is Cool J’s suggestion:

Cool J: “Hey, mama, look what you can do with this laundry hamper? BABY JAIL!!!!!!!”

Oh, the Places I’ll (Never) Go!


Or Not

On my wall hangs a wooden frame. It’s a 4×4–that is, it has room for 16 vertical pictures. The Scientist came home with it around the time that LL was born. He thought we could fill it with pictures of our travels. Specifically, vertical pictures of us kissing on our travels. Over the years, we had amassed quite a collection of kissing pictures, some of which were, conveniently, vertical (they featured the Eiffel Tower, the CN Tower, the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, and various other upright structures). Some of them were inconveniently, and by their nature, horizontal. I tried to play with them, but here’s what I ended up with:

The White House (can't you tell?)

Hősök tere--without most of its heroes

Who's more important--me or the tower? Can't fit them both!

In the end, despite some very creative cropping, I simply couldn’t fill all 16 blank spaces. “Why don’t you put spacesavers in the remaining ones to indicate where we’ll go next?” asked The Scientist.

“Great idea!” I said.

That was in 2005.

I haven’t changed a thing since. . .

Last week, our Shabbos dinner guests were looking at our 4×4, and the husband, Baseball Dad, pointed at the framed spacesavers inscribed with our dreams: “Great Wall of China,” “The Taj Mahal,” “Machu Picchu.” He smiled. “Are these on loan?” he asked.

We all laughed, but inside I soon stopped laughing. Are our dreams on loan? Oh, I know how dramatic that sounds. But three kids in, one must begin to wonder. When will we make good on our plans to hike the Inca Trail? To spend months in India, feeding ourselves a diet of dal and rice and mango lassis, riding the rails in second class cars, maybe living in an ashram and meditating our days away? When will we have the chance to view the art at the Hermitage? To kayak in Patagonia? To ride a motorcycle across Europe?

At $10,000+/kid for sleepaway camp, I’m thinking that our kids will be spending summers across the street at the rec camp. The wait for the child-free house is two decades away. In 21 years, Baby MoFo will be finishing up at Harvard (or Yale or Princeton or Stanford–I’m not a pushy Yiddishe Mama–whichever he picks is fine by me!). On the plus side, I won’t even be 60 yet. Plenty of time to backpack around the world . . . right? Is there such a thing as a senior citizen hostel? (by that, I don’t mean a cruise . . . ).

*  *          * *             * *        * * * *

A short trip from home, the library is a frequent destination. On our recent visit, Cool J picks the movie Up. He smiles deviously. “You’re going to cry when she dies!” he declares happily. LL finds it distressing when I cry, but Cool J finds it hilarious. That’s why, as I’ve noted, he regularly picks Love You Forever as his bedtime story.

But it’s not just Ellie’s death that’s so sad–it’s also the death of their dream that makes The Scientist and I look at each other and shake our heads gravely, thinking of ourselves. That trip to South America is never made by Ellie and Carl because life kept getting in the way–and they didn’t even have kids!

I’m sure there are parents out there who strap their little ones into their Keltys and see the wonders of Peru, and those who enter the Forbidden City with their Bugaboos. With one kid in tow, we started off to be those parents. With two kids, we were skipping the journeys that put us in cattle cars or squatting in keyhole latrines, but we still whisked the kids off to foreign worlds to taste life beyond North America. But with three kids, we’re too poor, and too worried about mundane things like hygiene and routines, to light out for the territory. I remember once–about 10 years ago–chatting with a high school teacher only a few years my senior, a man who had never owned a passport, had never left the U.S, but who dreamed of visiting the land of Shakespeare, the man whose books he taught year in, year out. “But why don’t you just go?” I demanded. “I have kids,” he said. I’ll never be like that, I thought. But I have a feeling we’re not going to be kissing in front of the Easter Island heads any time soon.

So my dear Theodor Geisel, it surprises me not at all that you had no kids of your own, despite your incredible ability to entertain them. As a parent, the places I go, my children go. And the places I don’t go, neither do my children–at least for the next long while. If I were single–not that I would trade my boys for a swim in Lake Titicaca, a trek in Nepal, or a safari in Kenya–oh, the places I would go! After all, as the childless man told us (those childless among us, that is):

You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.

“You can steer yourself any
direction you choose.”

You’re on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the guy who’ll
decide where to go.

Week in Review


Here are the top 5 nuggets from this week:

1. The laughing baby whose video has gone viral . . . WHAT was so damn funny?

Ah, of course, it was an academic job rejection letter getting ripped up. Dad is getting his PhD in the Humanities, so he’s got a whole barrel full of rejection letters, no doubt.

Note to self: Hours of entertainment for Baby MoFo that I don’t have to buy, create, or work very hard on at all–letters of this nature show up every day.

To be honest, though, a number of them are showing up on email, which is good for the environment, and bad for Baby MoFo.

Note to schools sending them by email: I appreciate your saving the environment, but that doesn’t mean you have to go overboard with the rejection letters and send me multiple emails with the same stock statements: “The competition was extremely keen, and we had to set aside the candidacy of a number of excellent young scholars” (assuming I’m young), or “As we are only able to invite a very small number of candidates for on-campus interviews, we are excluding many attractive candidates at this point, you among them” (why, thank you! I am quite attractive). There’s a point in which you are simply hitting me over the head with your rejection. As in, “If you missed our point the first time, WE. DON’T. WANT. YOU.” Got it! I will go back to the troll-hole where I came from. And speaking of Charlie . . .

2. “I am on a drug. It’s called Charlie Sheen. It’s not available. If you try it once, you will die. Your face will melt off and your children will weep over your exploded body.”

This week has been the Charlie week.

Is Sheen a crazy cokehead? Yes. Is Sheen an anti-Semite? The New York Times suggested the answer is yes while pointing out that calling Chuck Lorre by his Hebrew/birth name is a little ironic considering that the moniker “Charlie Sheen” is a nice little business of Americanization as well: “[Sheen] also repeatedly called Mr. Lorre by the name Chaim Levine, which executives from both CBS and Warner Brothers interpreted as a veiled anti-Semitic attack. Mr. Sheen was also criticized on Friday by the Anti-Defamation League for those comments. (The comments probably went back to a mention Mr. Lorre himself once included on the show, where he called himself Chaim Levine. That is his Hebrew name. He was born Charles Levine. Mr. Sheen also goes by another name. He was born Carlos Estevez.)

3. It was quite a week for anti-Semites. We had Carlos Estevez ranting about Chaim Levine, and we had John Galliano professing his love for Hitler. Thank you, Natalie Portman, you beautiful, talented, Harvard-educated resplendent-with-pregnancy scientist-actress for standing up to him. Why are Jews even interesting??? I am fond of Jeffrey Goldberg’s article, entitled: “Jews, Jews, Jews, Jews, Jews!” As he puts it, “It is very exciting to be a part of so many different fantasies.”

4. It was Dr. Seuss’s birthday this week! We made him a cake and we ate it ourselves since he’s dead anyway, as LL pointed out. We also read a lot of his stories. Do you know “Too Many Daves”? If not, here’s a refresher:

Did I ever tell you that Mrs. McCave
Had twenty-three sons and she named them all Dave?

Well, she did. And that wasn’t a smart thing to do.
You see, when she wants one and calls out, “Yoo-Hoo!
Come into the house, Dave!” she doesn’t get ONE.
All twenty-three Daves of hers come on the run!

This makes things quite difficult at the McCaves’
As you can imagine, with so many Daves.
And often she wishes that, when they were born,
She had named one of them Bodkin Van Horn
And one of them Hoos-Foos. And one of them Snimm.
And one of them Hot-Shot. And one Sunny Jim.
And one of them Shadrack. And one of them Blinkey.
And one of them Stuffy. And one of them Stinkey.
Another one Putt-Putt. Another one Moon Face.
Another one Marvin O’Gravel Balloon Face.
And one of them Ziggy. And one Soggy Muff.
One Buffalo Bill. And one Biffalo Buff.
And one of them Sneepy. And one Weepy Weed.
And one Paris Garters. And one Harris Tweed.
And one of them Sir Michael Carmichael Zutt
And one of them Oliver Boliver Butt
And one of them Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate…
But she didn’t do it. And now it’s too late.

Oh, Theo. You had me at “soggy muff.”

5. Last but not least, a bit of news from my home and native land: The personality-less PM has decided he can create a cult of personality by naming the government after himself. Yes, Harper has officially renamed the Government of Canada the Harper Government, and Canadians now have a taste of North Korean life:

At least I know my taxes are going to a good cause.

Runner up: Gaddafi dances to Zenga Zenga: