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.”


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.”

  • tokenblogger

    2012/03/13 at 11:01 am

    At least she didn’t decide to “wash” the dishes while you were on the phone — guess how much water a kitchen floor can hold?

  • tokenblogger

    2012/03/13 at 11:02 am

    You really don’t wanna know.

  • assortedchocolates

    2012/03/13 at 11:02 am

    SQUEEEEEE How she says Snail!!!

  • dooce

    2012/03/13 at 11:05 am

    @tokenblogger like, a lot?

  • kristanhoffman

    2012/03/13 at 11:09 am

    Egad, I think I just died of the cute.

  • Sabine

    2012/03/13 at 11:11 am

    I love how many animals have an -a at the end of their name. Bird-a! Frog-a!

  • stalkingsarah

    2012/03/13 at 11:16 am

    So cute how she makes “bird” and “frog” have two syllables each!

  • tokenblogger

    2012/03/13 at 11:24 am

    @dooce: Oh, waaaaaayyyyyyy more than a lot.

    And I had a tiny kitchen.

  • shestumbledin

    2012/03/13 at 11:31 am

    Ack!! So cute! It’s also really sweet to hear you laugh.

    This might make you laugh too..

  • Bluestalking

    2012/03/13 at 12:02 pm

    With my daughter it was a tube of SuperGlue I didn’t know we owned and the top of an Amish coffee table. Sure kept her quiet, though.

  • Molly Guthrey

    2012/03/13 at 12:45 pm

    I once left my then-2-year-old, Lady GoGo, alone in the kitchen with a can of cheese. You know how this story ends, right? Well, it all worked out, because Lady GoGo (now 3) was born in the state of Wisconsin — that is, she is a native cheesehead. And as to why I had cheese in a can in the first place? What can I say, I’m classy like that.

  • EliBailey

    2012/03/13 at 12:47 pm

    She is SO CUTE!

    When my daughter was three there were many “suddenly too quiet” stories, but my favorite is when I found her trying to flush a huge piece of pizza down the toilet. She was a bit obsessed with flushing things that shouldn’t be flushed. And I didn’t know it but this was foreshadowing for when she was 15 and accidentally dropped a plastic lid in the toilet and then DIDN’T TELL US, and of course the entire bathroom got flooded and my ex spent days digging up pipes trying to find the blockage. We ended up remodeling the whole bathroom. Paybacks a bitch though; her kids regularly do much worse than that!

  • Molly Guthrey

    2012/03/13 at 12:48 pm

    It’s also a bad sign when it’s quiet and so you call the child’s name as a sort of question and they answer this way: “Nothing!”

  • romesick

    2012/03/13 at 1:22 pm

    I once entered my bedroom to find my sorta-like-Coco border collie mix standing beside my bed, looking guilty. Then, I realized the entire room smelled like menthol. THEN, I saw that the dog’s chest fur was matted with Carmex, from the tube beside my bed she’d tried to ingest. She was standing there whistling innocently, all “What?” with her chest fur sticking out in 100 directions.

  • OrangeLily

    2012/03/13 at 1:57 pm

    I’ve got two toddlers and white couches. But, the couches are from the Ektorp line from IKEA. So,
    (1) the fabric can be removed and washed, (which we did last summer, only to have one of them pee on it within a week of washing, but that’s a different story),
    (2) you can buy new covers from IKEA, in a different colour if you so choose, and
    (3) they’re IKEA couches, we didn’t spend an arm and a leg on them. They’ll eventually be relegated to the basement.

    Slipcover that furniture before it gets stained all to heck.

  • superkittn

    2012/03/13 at 2:01 pm

    Pass the ketchup. I am having that delicious child as a snack.

  • Bluestalking

    2012/03/13 at 2:18 pm

    Speaking of dogs, romesick, our two Jack Russells have a thing for maxi pads (Ahhh knooow!) and the crotches of underwear (not at the same time). You haven’t lived ’til you’ve cleaned up maxi pads. A whole floor full…

  • JenniferB

    2012/03/13 at 2:52 pm

    I was watching this and my almost-three-year-old(he is a week younger than Marlo) made me play it 6 more times. He is entranced by Marlo. I asked him if he thought she was cute, and he said “ahh haaahhh”, which is Payton-ese for “yes”. He has also decided that he likes her name and says “Mah-Low” over and over again. He’s very sweet, I promise and has never exhibited any stalker like behaviors before. 😉

  • MelissaJ

    2012/03/13 at 4:01 pm

    too dang cute! i love she is embracing her southern roots and adding syllables to those crappy one syllable words.

    grandmommy and grandpa rob, i could hear their hearts swelling all the way in NC.

  • hybridshadow

    2012/03/13 at 5:52 pm

    She is so cute! I love the way she swishes her jaw side to side and the way she adds “uh” to the end of some of the animals. “Birduh” “Froguh” “crabuh” and I just love the way she says ellllephaaaaaaaaaaant. Also, is Chuck stomping around in steel-toed goth boots in the background? How very Emo of him.

  • filmlady

    2012/03/13 at 5:58 pm


    I could give you some great kid stories of my own, but instead I’ll give you something Chuck-related:

    And this is how they did it :-))

  • tdotjen

    2012/03/13 at 6:28 pm

    at least one reason I knew what was going happen is that my mom loves retelling how I somehow swiped a chapstick off a dresser and drew on the wall with it when I was a kid.

  • Elspeth

    2012/03/13 at 7:51 pm

    i don’t have kids yet and i already know that silence is frequently a reason for mental fire alarms to go off in the maternal head…. my neighbor has twin girls and that silence descended once while they were having a snack, back in the toddler years. the mother had that “uh oh” moment, went back into the playroom, and discovered the girls finger-painting the door to the patio with their yogurt.

  • lolosays

    2012/03/13 at 9:48 pm

    Heather, is it wrong that I read that “Wooden LEG Puzzle” not just TWICE in your post, but a THIRD time when I clicked on the Amazon link? And while I was curious about how one would OBTAIN a wooden leg puzzle, it somehow seemed entirely plausible that you’d figured it out. And yes, Marlo is adorable, but her cuteness was completely eclipsed by my temporary inability to distinguish a “p” from an “l”. Sorry, Marlo.

  • AliciaMaria

    2012/03/14 at 8:54 pm

    Haaaa.. she’s awesome. 🙂

  • juliemewood

    2012/03/15 at 1:53 pm

    This makes it official. I love seeing videos of your kids! In of course a non-creepy way. 🙂 They’re just so cute!

  • Laura Jones

    2012/03/19 at 2:18 am

    I laughed at the whole lip balm thing and was thinking you were smart….lipstick stains.

    @tokenblogger…that happened to me too. I took a picture first and then spent hours cleaning up the mess.

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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