Playful, elegant, and not above the judicious use of the word “shit."

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.”

  • Maggie

    That is hilarious. That is totally my oldest daughter too. She always does the right thing. She definitely doesn’t take after me!

  • Anonymous

    my brown-eyed moderate republican 9yr old son, with towel around his waist, comes to find me after his shower:

    “mom, the silver thing fell off”. no idea what he’s takling about but whatever, i’m in the middle of cleaning other bathroom…”um, that’s okay honey, I’ll take care of it”.

    him, without missing a beat, and straitfaced: “Hit my toe. said fuck.”

    i started to say ya know, are you okay then realized the second thing he said. speechless. finally i sputtered ‘was it necessary to bust out with curse words?’
    his reply? ‘it was only one’.
    moderate republican, future lawyer now.

  • Molly

    Long time reader, first time comment, I think…

    Anyway after 4 kids i thinnk I can safely say that Marlo is going to be so freaking free-spirited that it’s going to rock your world totally off its axis.

    It’s karma…

  • Anonymous

    ADD doesn’t mean one can’t focus on things, it’s an inconsistency of focus. Which means that sometimes one can hyperfocus on things. And since it’s too early to diagnose it I wouldn’t dismiss it quite so harshly. If she did turn out to have it you wouldn’t want her to feel bad like there is something horribly wrong with her. People with ADD tend to be highly intelligent and very creative. It’s not an insult.

  • Rebecca

    LOL.

  • Anonymous

    So bummed that the TORTOROUS activity of getting my 3-year old dressed might go on for another 2 years or more! He literally starts to walk away while one leg is inserted in a pant leg and the other one is not, and I have to REMIND him what we are supposed to be doing. “WE’RE getting dressed now! Come on, let’s focus.” And I truly mean WE’RE getting dressed because I put as much physical effort into this activity–probably more–as he does. AAARRRRGGG!!

    Oh, and my son has been called ADD more times than I can count. I actually had to talk to the director of his daycare and tell her that maybe the staff shouldn’t throw that term around too much. And this was when he was 18 MONTHS OLD!!!!

    Keep on rockin’ dooce! Your stories make me laugh and make me feel like I must being doing ok.

  • Andy in Utah

    Heather, you SO deserve the daughter you are going to get when she grows up. Both of them probably.

  • You probably said that too….at the age of 5. And at the age of 19….and 26….Don’t tell my mom.

    That Leta is a direct descendant of you in more ways than the obivious one.

    And Marlo? Can I just say there has never been a rounder, more perfect lipped, cuter ski-lift nosed baby than Marlo?

  • Joy

    Your a great mama – definately doing an awesome job with both Leta and Marlo….

  • Am I the only one who is dying to know what the blonde Barbie and the brunette Barbie were fighting about? Yes? Okay then.

  • Thanks for sharing, I always enjoy reading your post.

  • I’m tired of people saying that normal behavior is ADD or ADHD. Any book on 6-7 year olds describes this exact behavior.

    Both of your girls are beautiful.

  • I had to laugh because in your telling of the story, you did exactly what you’re accusing Leta of doing. You started telling us the story about lunch with Katey and then all of a sudden there are Barbies and clothes needing to be put on, and furniture buying so you can all go outside and enjoy the evening … Heather, I think Leta gets a little of this from YOU! LOL

  • It would take my son hours to get dressed. Brushing one’s teeth would take decades. He’s 16 and it is still the same…

  • Talon

    *grins*

    As I’m sure you’ve already been advised, you realize that HYPER-focus is also an indicator of ADD/ADHD…especially when it’s to the exclusion of other stuff.

    *sticks tongue out*

    I’m teasing, but it’s true, the first question my doctors asked me after ascertaining that I was high functioning autistic was to find out if I also had ADD/ADHD (I don’t) but that’s when I found out about the hyper focusing thing, and it’s why they suspected I had it…(I don’t.) I didn’t know about that particular symptom before and it surprised me that a neurological disorder can be so far reaching to either end of what seems a range of response and still be considered the same disorder!!

    (But you already know that Leta is neither autistic or ADD/ADHD…I’m only saying for the sake of the devil. :P)

  • Yep, 35 minutes for a 7yo to get from the bedroom to the kitchen for breakfast – via a conversation with three stuffed toys, deliberation over which pen and paper to use for writing a note (with pictures) to a friend who will be at school that day. A whole 15 metres. And we haven’t even started on actually having breakfast or anything totally unexpected like getting dressed.

  • I am just like Leta and your husband, always jumping from one thing to another, therefore taking much longer to finish the first thing.
    Hus probably assumes I am drinking too much, but that’s beside the point.

  • My parents must have instilled fear of instant death in my brother and I if we didn’t wear our seatbelts. My dad used to ask if we were ready and start rolling the car down our driveway which was a long gravel road, and we would both start screaming, “No! Wait!!! We aren’t ready!” as if we were going to die right there in the driveway if our seatbelts hadn’t clicked into the buckle. He thought it was hilarious.

  • Pao

    aww, leta is so adorable. 🙂

  • Sounds like Katey is a tattle-tale and an amazing assistant

  • Katey and Leta will be best friends for life!

  • robin white

    so many comments on the beauty and wonders of add(with or without H) – worked with many such children in the decade – may I suggest reading Thom Hartmann: Attention Deficit Disorder – a different perception – “Hunters in a Farmer’s World. I sent you the book on the dog MO – now in red AND green – love to share more…..xxoo

  • Leta sounds like me! I forget what I’m doing in the middle of doing them all the time!

    I can just imagine Leta’s reaction to sitting in the front seat of the car. Today we took our neighbor’s new RV for a trip in the neighborhood and a two-year old was sitting in the front on his dad’s lap. He looked very uncomfortable. Meanwhile, my 10-month old, sitting in my lap, was like, “WHOA, this is cool! Who needs that freakin’ car seat!” Well, actually…he didn’t say anything other than “oooooohhh.”

  • I SO needed that laugh. Thanks.

  • Andrea

    Heather, I’m a longtime stalker of your site. I couldn’t resist coming out of hiding to comment on this post.

    My 12-year-old was always accused by others of being ADD. We, as his parents, knew there was no way that was possible – though, we weren’t quite sure what he “had” with all his quirks and such.

    Turns out, the child’s IQ is so high he’s gifted according to school standards! You’d never believe how much fun I’ve had answering the, “Is he ADD?” question with “No, he’s just gifted!”

    I predict some serious gifted testing in your not-so-distant future.

  • Jennifer B.

    First of all, Hahahahahaha! Secondly, I love the honesty of children!

  • reikigirl

    Classic. Leta is amazing.

    (And I second what JL (comment #3) said…I could use a Katey around my house.)

  • Oda

    Bahaha, that reminds me of when I as a five or six year-old stubbornly refused a dollar for raking the leaves for my friends mom, all because my mom had told me “not to accept money from strangers”.

  • I just realized something…my child is living a parellel life as your daughter. I swear sometimes the stories you tell make me think they are the same kid!

  • The cuteness factor of your child is absolutely killing me. Sigh.

    This is only the beginning, you know. I’m sure there will be a time when you look back fondly at her innocent desire to follow your directions. I can’t wait to hear about her reaction when you pull out this story in about 12 years as a reminded of how she should OBEY HER MOTHER.

    Glad to know that you are taking full advantage of your back yard. Such a simple pleasure, and privilege. I look forward to having one some day as well. For now, I’ll simply appreciate the photos of yours.

  • Christina

    Yeah, yeah…that’s adorable.No really, it is. 🙂

    Real reason for commenting…my husband and I watched all of The Wire recently too and I completely agree with you on how nothing else compares. Mad Men is pretty close though!

  • Martha Elizabeth

    You do know, Heather, don’t you, that “hyperfocus” is a hallmark of ADD/ADHD?

  • Mir

    That ADD-like ability to forget everything, but then turn around and focus on a book or some other activity that a child who really has ADD would never be able to do is just a part of highly gifted children. Dabrowski’s Overexcitabilities, actually.

    My daughter does the same thing and at 8 I can tell you it’s no better than it was at 4-5. There’s things you can do to calm it down, such as making posters to help a child focus on menial tasks, and adding more physical and mental activities to her day which can help her mellow out all around. Self-paced programs are the best – instruments, ballet, swimming, etc. But mostly it’s about blasting as much mental energy from her brain as possible. The more you get her to use her brain and wear it out, the calmer she will be…in all areas.

    http://www.sengifted.org/articles_social/Lind_OverexcitabilityAndTheGifted.shtml

  • Leta sounds perfectly normal to me… I have a son that requires about an hour for breakfast and then another for getting dressed. More important things just keep coming up. Like patting the dog. Watching ABC Kids on TV. Seeing if the DS is charged yet. Finding a pencil. A bit of loud rousing (by his Mother) usually works. Or a quiet threat to throw the DS out the window. Marvellous. Oh, and he lives in fear of being found out doing something FORBIDDEN. But lately I have been wondering whether he is actually beginning to enjoy the fear… the drama.

    Maybe ADD should stand for Additionally Distracted and Dramatic?

    Speaking of which…do people really diagnose your kid in the comments section? Gah…
    🙂
    BB

    PS Jon sounds quite adorable.

  • Violet

    Yeah, at 3 years of age, I asked my mom if I could go potty and she said yes. I proceed to climb out of the playpen (yes, that dates me), go potty and CLIMB back in. I don’t know what you call those parenting skills, but DAMN, I was compliant! Ha! Not so much now, though.

  • Kathleen

    Are you sure you didn’t have twins when you gave birth to Leta? Positive? Because she often reminds me of my niece, Samantha. Once during a trip to the roller skating rink, Sam asked me, “Aunt Kathleen, WHY isn’t anyone in here wearing a helmet?!” I said I didn’t know, but guessed maybe it was because helmets weren’t required at the rink. Sam responded, “Well, they should be required. The ground is very hard!”

  • Elaine

    My favorite line of this is, “the brunette barbie has to think about it”.

  • AngelaVan

    My daughter is the same way. Usually you cannot tear her away from something to save your life. But there are other times that I call the “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie” times – because that’s exactly how it feels.

  • i am SOOOOOOOOO leta….it takes me FOREVER to get ready for work in the morning….i’ll get my hair done, then stop to play with the dogs….then have to turn on the t.v. and sit for a minute to watch it….then look at the clock and it’s all “holy shit! i’m going to be late!” then put on a blouse, then, oh wait, i didn’t make coffee, run downstairs, put coffee and filter and water in coffee maker, then back upstairs, with dogs in hot pursuit. ok they need to be played with again….crap – now i need to find a skirt that doesn’t have dog slobber on it – shit, it needs to be ironed….back downstairs, wait, dogs need to be fed, oh yeah, actually power ON the coffee maker….ok, iron is hot, back upstairs because yeah, i forgot my shoes and purse, oh dogs need to go out? ok – out you go….where are my keys? f***! blackberry is upstairs….let dogs in, tell them to be good (and they look at me like, yeah, whatevah! we’re DOGS! we shall shed anywhere we want and tear up anything we wish). yell out to the horses “morning boys!” on my way past the paddock out of the neighborhood (yes, we get to have horses in our neighborhood :-)) get half way to work and realize i forgot to put on makeup! and that’s on a GOOD day!

  • That is too funny (“I’m not supposed to sit in the front seat”). It’s also interesting how kids pick up on our mannerisms and then use them on such a ridiculous level. Every other sentence out of my son seems to start with “by the way” or “don’t forget!”

  • Bonnie

    Leta is too funny. She’s only going to get cooler with age, too. As soon as she can type I hope she starts her own blog!

    I hate to tell you, but ‘they’ are now claiming that absent-mindedness AND over-concentration are symptoms of ADD. Just to prepare you for people telling you so.. (but of course you know that Leta is perfect the way she is). I think ‘ADD’ is mostly BS, but then again, I have a diagnosis.

  • Leta is awesome. For a 5 year old, and for a regular person. And Katey is dually awesome sounding.

  • Nicole

    do you know how many evenings i have enjoyed the shit out of?! DO YOU?!
    i have also enjoyed the shit out of beaches, malls, movie theatres and *gasp* the local McDonald’s playland.
    i can tell you that badgering, while mildly frustrating but cute at age 5, is a lot less cute and a whole lot more frustrating by age 10. Can’t imagine what 15 will be like!

  • Natasha

    I love this post…burst out laughing in the ppl’s office when I should be working.

    As for you daily photo titled ‘BUBBLES’ – Hilarious!!!!!!
    My bf and I watched that entire series while I was pregnant last year…and you’re right; after watching that show, it’s really hard watching regular TV again. BTW, Bubbles was one of my favourite characters of the show.

  • Anonymous

    That is one quick mind 😉

  • Wait—why is ADD a bad thing? Our whole family is ADD, especially my big bro. whose ADD “addled” brain figured out some supposedly impossible process while working in a lab as a 21 year old undergrad. Thanks to his ADD all kinds of new asthma and arthritis drugs have been developed in the last 15 or so years. Sorry to sound soapboxy but I’ve been diagnosed with both asthma AND a rheumatoid illness this week and have been spending way too much time thinking about the serendipity of it all.

  • Cheryl S.

    I love Leta. what a little smartie pants. And guess what, the absent minded professor thing? It comes with being smart. It was my nickname as a kid. I used to get in the shower with my undies on, forget my shoes, etc. I also graduated with stright A’s from Kindergarten to college. And I DON’T have ADD. Let Leta be Leta, she’ll be fine!

    And, can I have a Katey, please??????

  • linnysol

    my son is similar…they tell on themselves. he’s in kindergarten now- a teacher’s dream we say!

  • When I was little I firmly believed that the car was incapable of starting, let alone driving, without everyone’s seat belts buckled. My parents swear they didn’t start this delusion – I’m suspect, but might use it on our daughter…

  • Nothing makes us happier as mommies than those reported moments of remembering their rules when they’re out of our sight. Your daughter sounds charming and sweet, and you’re obviously so in tune with who she is…you are doing TONS right!