the smell of my desperation has become a stench


Marlo eats a bowl of Cheerios every morning (what? my kid? a creature of habit? GO ON.), but wait. That’s not accurate. There are Cheerios in the bowl. Cheerios must be in the bowl. But she doesn’t eat them. She spoons the milk around the Cheerios into her mouth until all that’s left is a bowl of soggy oats. So she has Cheerios-flavored milk for breakfast. Someone please just bottle this shit up and make my life easier. I won’t even sue you for the copyright.

This morning when we walked into the kitchen she saw something on the countertop that triggered CHOCOLATE in her developing brain, and she repeated that word about as many times as there are numbers in existence. I’m tired, still suffering from a lingering bout of insomnia that turns reasonable decisions into locked vaults. And the keys are upstairs somewhere in a pair of pants I can’t find because they’re lying at the bottom of a pile of reality I’m not yet ready to face.

Luckily, Marlo is a lot like Coco, and I mean that in the most loving way possible. She may be a fiery, wild-haired wrecking ball, but she recognizes the value of options:

Coco’s lying next to one of the glass panes flanking the front door, surveying, alert and ready to protect us from wandering Jehovah’s Witnesses when she spots a giant deer grazing in the yard next door. Violent staccato barking jumps out of her face and an unpleasant jolt of electricity climbs the spine of anyone who wasn’t expecting this interruption. She continues her noisy appeal until I find a dog treat, approach her shuddering body and hold it close to her nose.

Hmm. Let’s see. The feast of a juicy, pulsing thigh from a large woodland animal, one that would feed her for days, the bone a treasure she could bury and revisit later to remember the fantasy. Or? A bland, artificially-colored biscuit made out of flour and water. Stale. Smells like beige.

I can lure her into another room with that treat, make her sit and calm down. Demand that she wait. Because the biscuit is relatively immediate, guaranteed. That woodland animal? There’s a city in Nevada built entirely around those odds.

Marlo began to lose her mind over the chocolate, so I looked her in the face, grabbed her eyes with mine and said, “I know you want chocolate. We’re not having any. You get Cheerios or nothing.”

She fell silent into a thought, nodded and said, “Okay Cheerios.”

The difference between her and her sister is that when Leta was this age she would have knocked the biscuit out of my hand, crashed through the glass pane and seized the hind quarter of the deer with her jaw.

  • lisdom

    2011/12/15 at 2:07 pm

    I do believe Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC has something called “cereal milk.” Maybe they’ll ship it to you? 😉

  • dooce

    2011/12/15 at 2:12 pm

    @lisdom BRILLIANT.

  • Regency Romantic

    2011/12/15 at 2:20 pm

    I think I would pay money for the audio version of “Okay, Cheerios”….sweet bebe voice!

  • Fifi Coon

    2011/12/15 at 2:42 pm

    Thanks for the afternoon laugh!! Love the picture of Chuck with the ornaments.

  • slappyintheface

    2011/12/15 at 3:01 pm

    It works with teenagers too:

    me: be home at 8:30

    them: how about 9?

    me: how about 8?

    them: see you at 8:30

    me: EXACTLY!

  • lcarilo

    2011/12/15 at 3:59 pm

    With unruly, fussy teens tormenting me while everything shopping at SuperTarget, I liked to use, “Get along or walk home.” Also effective at home, “Get along or get out.”

  • genieinablog

    2011/12/15 at 4:28 pm

    It’s like you are in my house. 21mo threw the biggest hissy fit this morning complete with inconsolable panting all because she couldn’t dip her spoon in her bowl and come up without any Cheerios. The Cheerios she purposefully asked for in a bout of reasonable communication.

  • Zedda

    2011/12/15 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks for putting a huge smile on my face! It gives me hope!

  • tamevans

    2011/12/15 at 7:46 pm

    Heather – This is one of the most brilliant moments of Bl+ting (Blog + Writing = so much more than blogging.) Thank you for inspiring me… once again.
    I hope you are working on a new book. xTami

    “I’m tired, still suffering from a lingering bout of insomnia that turns reasonable decisions into locked vaults. And the keys are upstairs somewhere in a pair of pants I can’t find because they’re lying at the bottom of a pile of reality I’m not yet ready to face.”

  • Skinnysara

    2011/12/15 at 8:24 pm

    High five Marlo for me, because I LOVE Cheerios flavored milk.

    It’s all oatey and malty and I could have it for breakfast every day for the rest of my life.

    Nope. No food issues here.

  • lynn59

    2011/12/15 at 10:35 pm

    I wish I could post my picture of my Old-Lady Cruiser Bike I rode to work Tuesday 12/13 in response to your foggy Salt Lake City picture as posted in “Thurs AM” It was 18 degrees and foggy here in Ft Collins CO. Awesome! I only like Cheerios sneaked from toddlers. NO MILK!

  • Tanzie F. Nielsen

    2011/12/16 at 3:54 am

    Great post!

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    2011/12/16 at 7:10 am

    your thursday a.m. photo of yesterday does a great job of capturing
    what the deny-ers call “haze.” oh my blech.

  • Absent Minded Housewife

    2011/12/16 at 8:30 am

    Obligatory Bendover NV mention here. We eat our Cheerios with Boones Farm poured on top.

  • ecileh

    2011/12/16 at 8:50 am

    “Smells like beige” totally belongs in your next header.

  • Medbob

    2011/12/16 at 9:13 am

    You can make things happen, Wait for things to happen, or wonder what the heck just happened.

    Most of us live in that third reality.

  • serene275

    2011/12/16 at 9:55 am

    You are brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Thank you for the daily dose of entertainment and laughter.

  • filmlady11

    2011/12/16 at 10:19 am

    Hi Heather, I’m with Marlo 🙂

    And after all the great stuff you’ve brought into my life over the last couple of years, I also wanted to share my blog with you:

    Happy Mormon-style Holidays! 😉

  • mommica

    2011/12/16 at 6:36 pm

    Oh please please please let my second daughter be this different from my first! The older is the most brilliant, funniest kid I’ve ever met and I wouldn’t change a thing about her. But if I have to go through another three years like the last three years? I’m pretty sure I won’t come out of it without some serious institutionalization.

  • francabollo

    2011/12/18 at 1:20 pm

    Great, great post. Too many quotable lines/paragraphs to cut and paste here.

    But please tell me the bauble hanger wasn’t poking Chuck’s tender snout.

  • francabollo

    2011/12/18 at 1:25 pm

    @lisdom and dooce

    There’s an ice cream shop here in San Francisco that makes a flavor called Secret Breakfast. Made with cornflakes-infused milk and bourbon. I think Heather would enjoy it as much as Marlo.

  • francabollo

    2011/12/18 at 1:26 pm

    @dianemaggipinto. Is your sister Donata?

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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