Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

Her mother’s daughter

Sunday afternoon we took Leta swimming for the first time this year at a public pool with a shallow end for kids. Her reaction to water so far has been positive if not a little too enthusiastic, like a Golden Retriever. She seeks it out, is drawn to it magnetically, and if she sees a puddle while we’re on a walk she will try to Incredible Hulk her way out of the buckle holding her into the stroller so that she can fling her body into the water face first.

When we entered the gates at the pool she responded exactly as we expected her to, with unmitigated joy and a hyper, machine gun string of, “WALLER! WALLER! WALLER!” We’ve tried unsuccessfully to get her to pronounce water with a T in the middle, and when she asks for a drink of waller one of us will usually say, “You mean WAH-TER. Water.” Once while going through this drill Jon deliberately lingered on the T sound, and afterward instead of repeating it Leta just said, “That’s right, Daddy. Good job.” She was glad to see he had been practicing.

After we lathered up in an obscene amount of sunscreen, I grabbed her hand to walk her over to the edge of the pool. She was literally skipping until she realized, whoa, that’s a big puddle, and then she froze. So I picked her up and inched slowly toward the shallow end. It took at least 20 minutes to convince her to dip her toes through the top of the water and another 20 to get her to sit on the top step with her butt in the water. She and I sat there for at least a half-hour, and Jon tried repeatedly to pull her out into the water to get her to swim. Each time she would freak out and holler, “SIT DOWN! SIIIIIIIT DOOOWWWWN!” What he was doing out there in the deeper water, paddling his arms and all that other work? That was not her idea of a good time. My kid came to lounge by the side of the pool with a bag of cheddar goldfish nearby for easy snacking. I had no idea she would catch on so quickly.

Both of us caught nasty chills while sitting with our feet in the pool, and yesterday Leta woke up with a miserable cold. Because she hasn’t been sick very often we haven’t yet learned how to prevent it from shutting down the rest of our lives. The whining and moping and ABJECT DISAPPOINTMENT THAT LIFE MUST CONTINUE TO BE LIVED, they are the reason I have an ongoing muscle spasm in my top lip. Every time she loudly complains that her clothes, they are touching her body, the left side of my upper lip starts quivering and then recedes disgustedly to show the whites of my incisors and canines, like the first time I was forced to look at a penis.

She doesn’t want to sleep but also doesn’t want to be awake, and could someone please explain to her why? Why are those her only two choices? When she does sleep, when she does collapse into a coughing, exhausted heap, she sleeps restlessly, and last night she had a nightmare and screamed out for Elmo. This morning as we were lying in bed eating a bowl of Trix Are For Kids and watching Sesame Street, a growling alien head tore its way out of Leta’s chest and bit off my hand when Andrea Bocelli started singing opera to Elmo. Totally natural reaction, although a tad dramatic. Even for me.

But she wouldn’t stop screaming for Elmo! EELLLLLLMMMMMOOOO! and I had to hold her back from crawling to the end of the bed and leaping at the television. Maybe she was afraid that Andrea was killing Elmo with his song, maybe something similar happened in her nightmare, and I had to assure her that Elmo was okay, he was still breathing and talking in third person, still pronouncing crayon incorrectly. After I calmed her down I wiped giant tears from her right cheek and a green mustache of snot from her lip. And then I held her close because the fact that she is this emotionally invested in the well-being of a character on television, that is proof more powerful than DNA that she was born from my egg.

  • You can curl the left side of your lip? I can only do the right side. I sat here and tried and tried, but when I tried to curl the left side, my dog left the room out of fear.

  • iamjenlindsey

    i too wore a green snot mustache the first time i was forced to look at a penis.

    i wonder, did you give her a drink of waller to settle her nerves?

  • JC

    aw, poor baby. not fun having a sick one. i’m sure it only gets worse as they get older and can more eloquently communicate their distress.

  • Aw, I hope you guys feel better. 😀

  • a few of my friends and i went swimming last night. or we did a combo of swimming and hot tubbing. the hot tubbing did us in sleep wise. health wise? yes, i am feeling a bit of a ringing in my ear. so i cried for more sleep instead of attending class today. leta knows exactly what to do.

    and the early you start loving TV shows, the earlier your life beings to make sense.

  • instead of repeating it Leta just said, “That’s right, Daddy. Good job.”

    Yes, it’s moments like these where I stop and reevaluate how I’m parenting and why, because my daughter has obviously already done that evaluation and determined that my anal retentiveness on items like pronunciation is for my own benefit and not hers, and has rejected it for herself.

  • Z

    During the second season of Survivor (dont laugh) my son, who was about 5 at the time, got very upset that Tina’s tribe kept losing the challenges. He was rooting for her because she was from Knoxville (my hometown) and at one point, when they lost, he starting crying and wailed: “They need to win! Or they’ll STARVE TO DEATH!”

    I had to explain there was no way Mark Burnett would let that happen. “But why does Mark Burnett let the poor kids in Africa starve?”

    I gave up at that point. What do you say to that?

  • At least she is cautious about it! My 2 year old will take a running leap into the pool whether you are ready for him to or not! LOL

    Poor girl. I hope she is feeling better soon.

  • Maybe she really just wanted Bocelli to shut up and was trying to get to the mute button on the tv? That’s my general reaction to him…

    (Do you think the people at Crayola pronounce it wrong? Because all those commercials? Its cray-on.)

  • Cape Cod Mel

    Andrea Boccelli freaks me out, too!

    There’s better stuff than Benadryl out there – it’s made by Tylenol and it’s called Peditric PM Cold Medicine (or something similar – we buy the generic). It’s like NyQuil or vodka for kids.

  • Les

    I was in Spain on holiday last week with my 3 boys, the twins Rio and Byrn love the water / pool. But Evan my 3 year old is not a fan of the pool, he just sits there with his feet in the water. He might go into his waist sometimes, but not often.
    It’s all about confidence building and taking one step at a time.

  • I feel that empathy for ANYONE Andrea Bocelli sings at.

  • Awww.

    (No really. That is all I have to say about that!)

  • The ONLY reason I go to the pool is to eat the goldfish crackers. When I forget to bring them for my own kids I make them go make friends with some kid whose mom remembered.

    And also so the ladies at the poolhouse can talk about me stealing goldfish crackers. I get more joy out of watching them yak on about me than anything. That one lifeguard with the amazing tan doesn’t hurt either.

  • NinasMom

    So sweet, goobers and all.

  • Three words: Ben A Dryl

    Even without the snotting and the coughing and the sneezing, it’s REST medicine. Just sayin’.

  • Mack’sMom

    My 2 year old daughter absolutely loves swimming ‘outside’ verses ‘inside.’ Last winter I took her to our health club (that we never use!) pool and she would hide her face in my neck. She hated every second. I feared this summer for that very experience.

    A couple weeks ago we ventured to my friends’ pool and she absolutely loved every second of it. My girlfriend’s 3 year old daughter refused to get off the first step- I was a proud mamma!

    My daughter will cry for JoJo in her sleep…from JoJo Circus on Disney. She doesn’t wake up, just cries in her sleep. First thing out of her mouth when she wakes up, “JoJo Mamma!” as she points towards the living room TV.

  • Chris

    My son who is 18 months old and sick with the same oozing snot and smokers cough react the same way when Elmo shut his eyes this morning? Maybe it is some kind of odd vibe between NYC and Utah. Good luck with the snot fest – Benadryl worked at night for him… We are on day 5!!!

  • jes

    I’m giving my nephew swim lessons this weekend. He’ll be three in September. I fear that THIS is what I am looking forward to.

  • What ’til she discovers alcohol. Wheeeee!

  • I was devastated when they took my favorite show, “30 Something” off the air. And, I actually cried when the College professor guy died. Yes, I realize that I actually mourned a character that I did not actually even know!

    The first pool experience is fun, as is the next and the next, etc….

  • Delurking to say sorry the little princess is sick. My two-year old (she’s 1 month younger than Leta) loves Leta, begs me to show her picture and movies over and over again – just like Elmo. Hope Leta’s feeling better soon.

  • I thought the resemblace began with “Waller” (it sounds so Southern.) However, now y’all can waller in the misery of the cold and Elmo-harming via opera. Oh, yeah, if you guys have an Einstein bagel out there? Don’t let her near it – they have a new “spicy Elmo sandwich”.

  • There are two things I know well from this post:
    1. The Water. It is large. And wet. And maybe scary.
    2. The Clothes. Why are they touching me when I’m sick?

    Thanks for giving me a reason to laugh out loud at these things that used to make my head explode.

    (But the water? Is still large and wet.)

  • Ah, the sick child. The only choice for sanity is, of course, medicine with opium and quaaludes — for you and a piece of furry fabric for Leta that she can rub herself on.

  • File Under: PENIS

  • Nancy

    Oh geez . . . I had to go all through that typepad security stuff and register and sign in so that I could make a comment. And by the time I was done, I forgot what I was going to say!! Anyway, I love your blog, I click all of your ads, and my daughter and I dote on Leta and Chuck.

  • You want to know what’s really bad? When both you and your child’s father share similar behavioral characteristics (like stubborness), so when your child starts showing that characteristic, there is uncertainty as to who gets the blame for it.

    Of course, it’s always *his* fault. 😀

  • Meg

    I still feel like that about sleeping. Though less screaming for Elmo and more for John Cusack.

  • hmmm, I think boys are certainly different. There are times when, if it werent’ for the fact that I actually saw my sons come out of my body, I would swear they don’t have any of my DNA. Testosterone is a very strange thing. The remarkable thing about sickness though, is that regardless of DNA, they will always need their mommy…which is great most of the time except for the boogars and the barf etc.

  • Ah, I remember waller. I forget when it happened, but my daughter started saying “water” at some point. Well, “wadder,” I should say.

    Her father (who’s not a native English speaker) was convinced she had a speech defect during the waller days. *giggles to self*

  • You can tell it’s an awesome Dooce post when it has the phrase “like the first time I was forced to look at a penis” in it. And also that you have to look down at your desk to prevent everyone in your office from seeing the crazylady hyena grin you’re wearing in reaction to above phrase.

  • Hee. It’s nice to see the family resemblence pop up at you like that. Reassuring in a very… opera-fearing way.

  • Someone get that child a cabana boy to bring her goldfish crackers.

  • But does she care what Elmo does? Does she CARE whether Elmo gets engaged, or has sex with…some other muppet, I guess? Does she feel like she and Elmo are FRIENDS, even though he is fictional?

    Not that I would know about that level of involvement in television, ahem, no. Certainly not.

  • ChickNurse

    I see that too in my kids, that they are like me. It makes me very sad. They look like their father and act like me. I guess they are made 50% from me and 50% from him. Too bad, I wish they looked and acted like him, life would be much easier.

  • so i stumbled across your site from a link on my mate shaun grove’s blog and mmm i start reading your post and im thinking, ok thats a nice story but the thing that will bring me back to this site is the wonderful “green mustache of snot” part of your story………………amazing, great use of words!!

  • Feel better soon Froggie Princess!

  • What a sweetie-pie to be worried for Elmo like that. I, too, am a bit afraid of Andrea.
    I hope she feels better soon!

  • Does Elmo pronounce it CRAY-on or CROWN?

  • My very best friend as a little girl was the stuffed animal Odie. I remember crying everytime Garfield kicked Odie in the cartoon and I would cradle my Odie doll closer and reassure him that he was safe with me.

    And then I’d go outside and toss him up into the air as high as I could throw him just to see how high that would be, and sometimes, I wouldn’t catch him when he fell. Kids are weird.

  • Josh_Ward

    Long Time Listener, First Time Caller…
    Enjoy the site every day Dooce.

  • Screw Elmo — the litmus test will be if you sit her down in front of an episode of Grey’s Anatomy. Will she care about the Meredith/Derek/Addison love triangle? Will she shout DR MCDREEEEEAAAAMY! with the same intensity she shouts ELMOOOOO? Will she want to stuff a sandwich into Ellen Pompeo’s mouth every time she comes on screen? Will she kind of want to be Sandra Oh? Will she? Will she? Will she?

  • Cold medicine…the happy place between sleeping and being awake.

  • brandy

    When I was 2 or 3 I woke up from a nightmare sobbing and screaming for Big Bird, I had a nightmare that he was dead and it was devestating.

    Of course Elmo didnt exsist back then.

  • I was watching the same scene with Andrea and Elmo this morning. It was the only time all morning that my daughter remained still.

    Also, that blasted song has been in my head all day.

  • My daughter does very much the same thing. She will mope to her mini-papazan chair when she’s not feeling well. She’ll huddle in her blanket with a thumb in her mouth. If I even think about changing the channel from Elmo or the Wiggles, she roll her eyes at me as if to say, “You GOT to be shitting me! Turn it back to my show or I will disembowel you with my sippy cup.”

    Poor things. Hope you feel better.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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