the smell of my desperation has become a stench

I think this means that whatever we’re doing is working

In an effort to allow Jon and me the time needed to get ourselves and the baby packed for our whirlwind trip to Los Angeles, our assistant Katey asked if she could come pick up Leta on Sunday morning and take her to brunch for a couple of hours. And this is one of probably hundreds of reasons why we hired Katey, that she has the ability to sense what we’re going to need before we need it, and before I could even remind her about Leta’s picky palate, she was all, Heather, how long have I known this child? There will be plenty of brown and beige things on the menu.

And yes, she would monitor the mustard and ketchup and make sure that never the twain shall meet. And then we both simultaneously groaned.

All I had to do was get her dressed and ready for the pick-up, but I made sure that the path to that final destination was laden with metric tons of coffee. Because sometimes, you never know which morning it’s going to be, but it takes an act of congress to get that kid dressed. She just gets distracted by other things, and if I’m not on top of her she’ll wander back into the room and go, “Now, remind me… why did you have me go to my room?” OH I DON’T KNOW, SO THAT YOU COULD COME BACK IN HERE AND PHRASE THAT QUESTION LIKE A DEFENSE ATTORNEY.

Quick aside: we recently bought some furniture for our back patio for the sole purpose of spending our summer evenings out there as a family: the dogs running in the yard, Leta and Jon playing “princess and guard” around her swing set, and me in a chair feeding Marlo. One night after dinner I turned to Jon and said, “Shall we go outside and enjoy the evening?” And since then Leta has repeated some form of that question to us before we even take the first bite of dinner: are we going outside to enjoy the evening? Mom? MOM? We’re going outside to enjoy the evening, right? TELL ME WE’RE GOING OUTSIDE TO ENJOY THE EVENING?! To the point that both Jon and I are all OH MY GOD SHUT UP WE ARE GOING OUTSIDE TO ENJOY THE EVENING.

And holy grape nuts, if we don’t get out there and enjoy the shit out of the evening.

Before you send me email to alert me to the fact that “getting distracted by other things” is clearly an indication that Leta has ADD, let me assure you that you have clearly jutted your nose into the wrong end of my business. Leta sometimes concentrates too much on things, and when her friends jump from one activity to another with too much speed she has been known to stomp her foot and whine that so-and-so won’t keep to the task at hand. And we’re all, yeah, because so-and-so is five-years-old, and Leta is all, THAT IS NO EXCUSE.

It’s just, she’s so much like her father, The Absent-Minded Professor, that sometimes in the middle of basic everyday activities, like putting her clothes on, she remembers a thought she was having yesterday about something else, and that thought leads to another activity ENTIRELY UNRELATED TO PUTTING HER CLOTHES ON, and when I come into the room she’s got her shirt off, her pants on, and she’s sitting there having the blonde Barbie apologize to the brunette Barbie about some argument they were having yesterday. And when she looks up to see me there with my hand on my hip, my foot angrily tapping the floor, she’s all, I know, I know, give me one second, the brunette Barbie has to think about it.

Anyway, I finally get her dressed and she and Katey head out to brunch with Katey’s baby and boyfriend. Jon and I putter around for a couple hours until they return, and when they get back Katey pulls me aside, and has she ever got one to share with me… turns out there was a twenty-minute wait at the restaurant, so she had her boyfriend hold their place in line while she took Leta and the baby back to the car. She wanted to breastfeed during the wait, so she sat in the driver’s seat of the parked car and had Leta sit in the front-side passenger seat. She’s sitting there feeding the baby and can tell that Leta is really uncomfortable when Leta says with more than a little trepidation, “Katey… umm… I’m not allowed to sit in the front seat of the car.”

Katey assures her that it’s okay, the car is parked, they aren’t going anywhere, they’re there so that the baby can get her meal in privacy. A few silent seconds pass and Leta goes, “Promise me you won’t tell my mom I did this.”

  • Heather's Garden

    2009/08/19 at 1:18 pm

    I’m going to start referring to late day outdoor activities as “going outside to enjoy the evening,” but I think I need an audio file so I can get the accent right!

  • Stephanie

    2009/08/19 at 1:19 pm

    To my daughter, Eva, getting dressed in the morning means emptying the entire contents of her dresser when I’m not looking.

    It’s awesome.

  • JL

    2009/08/19 at 1:20 pm

    When can we start cloning Katey?

  • Parsing Nonsense

    2009/08/19 at 1:20 pm

    Awww, secret keeping fail!

    If your daughter turns out anything like my husband when she’s older, being absentminded and all, then she’ll no doubt turn into an incredibly creative thinker who can come up with ingenious solutions to problems four hours after they’re needed.

  • Lesley

    2009/08/19 at 1:21 pm

    Leta sounds like a highly intelligent delightful kid. I hope the forces of our, at times, highly insane corporate driven society never make her feel bad about or obligated to compromise her creative personality. (And when I say crazy, I mean the forces that work to create the people who attend those town halls in America. The ones carrying semis and posters with Heil Hitler moustaches on Obama. Those highly creative personalities.)

  • mpt

    2009/08/19 at 1:21 pm

    I SO have a Jon and a Leta. ADD my ass.

  • Finch

    2009/08/19 at 1:22 pm

    When I was three years old, my aunt accidentally locked me in the car with the keys. I was told never to leave my carseat and not to unlock the doors.

    The police came. Candy was promised, but still – “My mom told me to stay in my carseat.”

    My aunt tried, bribed, and eventually someone had the sense to get a coat hanger and jimmy the lock. I was freed and immediately:

    “So where are those twizzlers I was promised? Also, you’re going to tell my mom I didn’t get out of the car seat, right?”

  • Suzanne

    2009/08/19 at 1:22 pm

    This was hilarious! I have a 3 year old and a 6 year old and we have many of the repeat conversations “We are going to (insert activity here), right?”, “Soon we will be (insert activity here), Ok mom?”. We also have those moments when we want to turn and say “YES, BUT STOP TALKING ABOUT IT ALREADY!” Loved the post!

  • Daddy Scratches

    2009/08/19 at 1:23 pm

    We have a sitter come play with the kids two days a week while my wife is out of the house at work. I work from home … which is how I heard my 4-year-old daughter recently say to the babysitter “Can I have a fudgesicle? And please don’t tell my mommy.”

    I had to swoop in and leave her with the impression that Mommy and Daddy can hear *everything* and will always know when she is trying to hide something from us.

    Sounds like I’m in for more trouble than you are.

  • brandy

    2009/08/19 at 1:23 pm

    Well I guess she’ll never agree to ride in the trunk of a car with a boy to a bush party…not that I’ve ever done such a thing!

  • Cheryl Arkison

    2009/08/19 at 1:24 pm

    I suppose it’s better than your daughter repeating your exclamations about the friggen’ god-damn stupid dog that shit on her bed again, every single time the the dog walks in her room or shits where she is actually supposed to in the dog run outside.

  • Kristy Merrill

    2009/08/19 at 1:24 pm

    Priceless. My daughter (3) actually said “I have to ask my mom first.” When offered ice cream the other day. WHAT? What happened to the little girl that sneaks into the fridge at home?

  • Charity

    2009/08/19 at 1:25 pm

    I thought I was #1, oh well. That is funny. I have a child like that also who would be so mortified if I allowed them to sit in the front seat while the car was stopped. I love this child for always making sure that his brothers and sister follow all rules to the T, and me also, he will tell me when my driving is not how it should be. Thank goodness for thos special kids.

  • Sarah

    2009/08/19 at 1:25 pm

    The ADD comment makes me think of this classic Onion article,

  • Heather

    2009/08/19 at 1:26 pm

    do you know how often i get stared at like i’m going to drive off with my nursing baby attached and feeding when i do that?

  • Con

    2009/08/19 at 1:26 pm

    I was that kid, half dressed, playing with Barbies (or DAWN dolls, if I really want to date myself.) You’ll be happy to know I sometimes now get all the way dressed without picking up a book. Unfortunately I get distracted by BLOGS when I am supposed to be working….

  • Tabitha (From Single to Married)

    2009/08/19 at 1:27 pm

    What a great story – I love that little Leta!!

  • Jen

    2009/08/19 at 1:29 pm

    My niece is three and has moments like Let’s. Last weekend I visited her and her brother and the plan was to go see the town’s parade. She asked me ten times if I was really coming with her to the parade?

    “Yes, kiddo, I’m coming.”

    Not 5 minutes later, she’d ask again, “Are you really coming? You’re coming, right!?”

    Silly kids.


    p.s. the verification thingie down below has “penis watcher.” I am amused.

  • Jennifer

    2009/08/19 at 1:29 pm

    Gotta love the rule followers! As one myself who is raising one (not necessarily on purpose) I can totally understand where Leta is coming from. As far as ADD – I always said it’s part of the job description of little kids’ brains to jump around. Not that ADD doesn’t exist.

  • Grizzly Kitteh

    2009/08/19 at 1:30 pm

    That’s freaking adorable! I love how her first thought was to secure secrecy from Mommy too 😀

  • Marisa

    2009/08/19 at 1:30 pm

    So awesome! I was rather particular about seat belts as a child. I had a friend who was the same way. Her parents always told her she had to wear her seatbelt because they loved her. One day, they were not being diligent about enforcing the seatbelt thing, and she started crying, “you don’t love me!” Kids!

  • Marisa @ where's the party?

    2009/08/19 at 1:31 pm

    Where do I get a Katey? I seriously need one. Wish Katey’s were as easily available and going to the nearest Target.

  • Anonymous

    2009/08/19 at 1:32 pm

    I need an assistant!

  • Julianne

    2009/08/19 at 1:32 pm

    That is adorable!

  • Becky

    2009/08/19 at 1:33 pm

    I ditto what Tabitha said at No. 17. Leta, like your writing, is a joy.

  • Brutalism

    2009/08/19 at 1:33 pm

    Leta should have her own blog.

  • Brooke

    2009/08/19 at 1:36 pm

    That description of Leta is EXACTLY my fiance. Except he is 27, not 5. Too much concentration to no concentration. Nothing in between. Ever.

    Him: “Do you want water?” Me: “Sure” Him: (Goes upstairs to get it, comes back downstairs with nothing.) Me: “Where’s the water?” Him: “Oh, I checked my e-mail instead…”

  • Amanda

    2009/08/19 at 1:36 pm

    And so it begins….

    Fasten your seatbelt, the teen years are approaching at lightening speed!

  • Leoneli

    2009/08/19 at 1:38 pm

    Your Leta is such a smart kid and I think what she’s going through is quite normal her age. I said that based on my experience with my two sons whom I thought were having amnesia because whatever I ask them to do, they’d forget. But now I wonder if they were doing it intentionally.

  • Beth

    2009/08/19 at 1:38 pm

    I couldn’t help but notice that as Leta goes off and gets distracted while getting dressed, her mom gets distracted and goes off on tangents in her posts (i.e. your “quick aside” today). And I love those tangents.

  • Angela

    2009/08/19 at 1:40 pm

    All I can say is AWESOME! Leta is pretty freaking cool – but I’m certain you and Jon already know that 🙂

  • Lori W

    2009/08/19 at 1:41 pm

    No Heather it is NOT called ADD, she has Bored Genius Syndrome.

  • Kate

    2009/08/19 at 1:42 pm

    Definitely doing something right. Or at least I think that’s what Dr. Laura would say? Maybe that’s not awesome then?

    Regardless, I’m sure there’s no one out there more suited to navigate the many minefields of raising such a unique kid. Katy sounds great. Good luck on the tour!

  • Andrea

    2009/08/19 at 1:44 pm

    Seriously, what Leta does is not a sign of ADD. It’s a sign/symptom of BEING FIVE. What 5-year-old doesn’t get distracted every second of every day? Jesus, do people really email you trying to give random diagnoses to your daughter…a child they don’t even know? When did the general public receive a collective degree in behavioral health?

  • Tee aka The Diva's Thoughts

    2009/08/19 at 1:44 pm

    I want an assistant like Katey. Would she agree to cloning?

    Leta is hysterical. lol

  • elie

    2009/08/19 at 1:49 pm

    I love it. I can’t wait till my kid reaches that age.

  • Ashley

    2009/08/19 at 1:53 pm

    Ah, Leta is too funny!

    She reminds me of my cousin Kami. Anything Kami doesn’t want to do, she says “No, I’m too little for that.”

    “Kami, you want to swim in the lake?” “No, I’m too little for that.”

    “Kami, do you want vegetables?” “No, I’m too little, remember?”


    2009/08/19 at 1:55 pm

    Haha… “Holy grape nuts”. thats great!

  • Kristan

    2009/08/19 at 2:04 pm

    HAHAHA too cute! (Totally typed “coo tute” at first…)

    And hey, if anyone gives you shit about how you are raising Leta, you can let them know that my mom drove with me in her lap outside the seatbelt when I was a baby. ALL THE TIME. And I turned out just fine, typos aside.

  • Restless Mama

    2009/08/19 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you for reminding me about coffee. I was wondering why I wasn’t functioning – I too need huge amounts of jolting caffeine to get me from a to b…especially when I’m up all night with a teething baby.

    And yes, sounds like you’re doing the right stuff.

  • Kate

    2009/08/19 at 2:04 pm

    That’s no excuse AND don’t they know she can read?

    And I’m going to enjoy the hell out of my evenings from now on.

    p.s. With a recaptcha including sanitationmen, I may have to enjoy the shit out of my evenings instead.

  • NaysWay

    2009/08/19 at 2:05 pm

    I swear I love that kid.

  • maggie may

    2009/08/19 at 2:06 pm

    It’s so true how if a kid shows the slightest inclination these days toward being … a kid… then everyone’s all ‘oooo he can’t pay attention! ADD!! ‘

    getting my daughter Lola dressed was such a hassle i made it so she picked her own outfit out and although she looks a lot like Punky Brewster at times, she gets dressed much quicker. we started that at 3!

    and! i had the exact same thing happen with my daughter Lola, except it was with Grandma Mary, who drove down the street with L in front- that the promise was extracted from. ( and then broken ) snort.

  • Holly

    2009/08/19 at 2:06 pm

    I’m so glad to know I’m not the only with a child who drags the dressing routine out to epic lengths. And congratulations on having a child that lives in a bit of fear of you even when you’re not around. Sometimes I think I could be waiving a gun around and my son would still laugh and keep right on dancing on the furniture.

  • Nel

    2009/08/19 at 2:07 pm

    Leta sounds like the most awesome child ever! “Promise you won’t tell me mom I did this.” Priceless!

    p.s. – Katey sounds awesome.

  • Ray

    2009/08/19 at 2:08 pm

    That little girl of yours is AWESOME!! =D Just too cute. I don’t know you in person, but what I read from your entries, “She’s just like you!” ;o)

  • Anonymous

    2009/08/19 at 2:11 pm

    @LoriW #36 — you are SO SO right! Bored Genius it is!

    Heather, you’re bang on — as the parent of a gifted kid (tested and everything, so anybody who thinks I’m an overproud mom can suck it) — ADD and giftedness present very much the same at this age —

    Stick to your guns — you have a seriously intelligent kid (which is its own roller-coaster ride) — so don’t sweat the attention span. You know the difference, so don’t let anybody tell you different.

    They have the attention span of a flea on stuff they’ve already figured out…but man, try to tear them away from stuff they’re interested in.– a great resource for parents of really smart kids.

  • Susan

    2009/08/19 at 2:11 pm

    When my husband and I were first married we lived in a little starter home with an equally little but well loved yard. When we went outside in the evenings we called it “touring the estate.”

  • Carrie

    2009/08/19 at 2:12 pm

    Sometimes Leta reminds me so much of my 5-year-old, Nutmeg. The way she will get distracted by a million things getting dressed — mainly books she comes across in her room — yet when she is reading or doing something on her own, wresting her attention away from that task is impossible.

  • Katherine SOLO dot MOM

    2009/08/19 at 2:12 pm

    She is too cute… to say the least.

    How do you keep up with her wit!?

    Your entries about her and your world are just great.

    Keep up the good work… and yes I know you will.

1 2 3 6

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.

read more