the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Her favorite

Back when I was collecting things for Marlo’s nursery I came across this Charley Harper wooden peg puzzle and bought it not knowing if she would ever have any interest in playing with it. It’s been more than two and half years, and even though she is a bit more interested in destroying things than figuring out how they work… wait, that’s not fair or at least not totally accurate. She likes to disassemble things. She rips off labels, tears apart book jackets, opens a marker and bites off the head with her teeth. If I can’t get the pickle jar open I hand it to her.

A few weeks ago I was on the phone trying to pay a bill while Marlo twirled around me shrieking about everything from wanting “chah-ros” (Cheerios) to “make shtuff” to “lips!” Here is where you can just go ahead and tell me to punch myself in the face because I was totally asking for it. But come on. If you could hand her an innocent little tube of lip balm and she’d be occupied for a couple of minutes…? Don’t lie, you would do it, too. You wouldn’t? You know better? Well then I guess you read the instructions that came out of the womb with the placenta.

Three minutes went by and the woman who was helping me on the phone said, “Your little one got quiet. Wish I knew how to do that.”

And I was like OH MY GOD, WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE. THE INTERNET WAS RIGHT.

I was terrified to turn around because I knew exactly what she was doing. I should have known better. I didn’t read those instructions. I hammered in a nail where I should have used a screw, and there was Marlo tucked into the corner of the couch, her entire index finger stuck all the way inside that tube. And pink, strawberry-flavored lip balm colored her entire face and continued in an artistic smudge all over the back cushion of the couch. The woman on the phone heard me gasp, and before I could move she said, “Ohhh lawwwwwd.”

You’re more than welcome to borrow that phrase now when your kid suddenly goes silent and all the air gets sucked out of the room because you know the house is about to collapse.

Anyway. WOODEN PEG PUZZLE. Turns out she likes it.

I called my mother after I recorded this to tell her about it (“Grandmommy and Grandpa Rob” are my mother and stepfather), and she said, “DON’T YOU FORGET IT.”

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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