the smell of my desperation has become a stench

The second child effect on choosing our battles

You guys, I think Marlo is broken. She can’t stop talking. She does this thing where she’ll fixate on a word and repeat it a hundred times even after you’ve reassured her that YES, I GET IT, YOU’RE PLAYING DOCTOR. And usually that makes it worse, because somehow that acknowledgment makes the word even more glorious to pronounce, and for the next ten minutes you better brace for a one toddler play in which that toddler beats the living shit out of that word.

This has caused a weird phenomenon where now we can’t pronounce certain words like normal adults, no. When I talk about going to the doctor I involuntarily say, “I’m going to the DOC-TERRR!” It just shoots out of my mouth like that, all toddler-possessed. All covered in something sticky and smelling like Cheerios.

She also has this adorable habit of following every statement and question with TOO. Like, she wants some gum, too. And I’m like, wait a minute, no one else here has gum, and you didn’t ask for anything else. You want gum in addition to what? And when she tugs on my arm in the direction of the gum I know that she wants gum in addition to me shutting the hell up.

I want a waffle, too.
I want to watch Barney, too.
I want corporations to pay higher taxes, too.

But what makes this even more adorable is how she takes this single-syllable word and turns it into a bendy, two-syllable version of itself: TAAH-OOOEW. Like she’s some old lady whose been living above a bagel shop in the Bronx for the last thirty years and asks every single person she sees during the day the same question about her son Bobby, you know, why he gotta leave? Ain’t this place good enough, taah-oooew?

What makes this less adorable is how I am now the Gum Lady. Sometimes I’m Mommy, but when I take a break during the day to spend time with her, she will see me and immediately say, “I want some gum, too.” Not, “Hi! I love you!” Or, “My, how I’ve missed you!” Never, “You are the light and meaning of my soul!” No. None of that. Instead, I am her gateway to gum.

And I don’t know who to blame for what I’m about to tell you, but once I find out I am going to take a wad of gum that I have found in a parking lot and stick it in their ear.

Marlo loves gum, but she doesn’t want to be the first person to chew it. She wants her gum pre-chewed. Sorry, germaphopbes! My toddler puts gum in her mouth that has very recently been in the mouth of someone WHO IS NOT HER! She requests this! She forms words to set this process in motion!

“You chew it first, too.”

There was once a time when on principle I would have said, dude, you can chew your own damn gum. I will do many insane things on your behalf, but chewing your gum FOR YOU is not on that list.

That list has grown somewhat since having a second child, and now it not only includes chewing her gum for her, but if she asked me to suck her sucker for her I would pause only to mourn the loss of my dignity.

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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