The uncelebrated milestone

I’ve been a Cold-Hearted Mommy at times.

I’ve seen other mommies tearfully watch their child’s first steps, nostalgic smiles lining their faces and wondering how time passed so quickly.

I, on the other hand, cheered that I no longer had to drag that damn stroller up those damn steps.

I’ve seen other mommies tearfully leaving their little ones at daycare, stifling their mixed feelings of guilt and relief.

I, on the other hand, cheered that I could finally watch Downton Abbey in peace.

I don’t have a baby scrapbook and I don’t have miniature hospital clothes tucked away in a memory chest somewhere. I don’t have adorned photos for each month of his first year, and I don’t remember the precise when, where, or what about his first word.

I’ve approached many of my child’s milestones in typical middle-child “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” fashion, not because I didn’t care, but really just because I didn’t know any better.

But the milestone that really brings tears to my eyes, the one that has me cursing the need of my son to continue to grow – and the one that nobody warned me about! – is the milestone that really, truly and finally has changed my life…

Two-years old = the end of free airplane travel.

So very, very sad, this passing of the free-travel age.

Maybe your little one reached this mark before the airline-mandated age of two, probably when you realized they were too big to sit on your lap without obnoxiously kicking the seat in front of you. Maybe you, like ourselves, stretched the limit as far as possible, employing all possible techniques of seat thievery – we’ve done the aisle-window shuffle plenty of times, hoping that nobody wanted our middle seat and we’d score a spot for free.

But no matter what, when your child turns two, your travel plans get 33% more expensive. All of a sudden, flight tickets for a weekend away are more expensive than the entire house we booked for our summer holidays.

We were never shy about traveling with an infant, as I wrote about here and here and here. We went wherever we wanted and just dragged our baby along. But now, with a full-fare travel companion to pay for, I’m going through a serious case of sticker shock. We’re now grudgingly adjusting our travel plans to be more… ahem… realistic.

And I know it doesn’t just stop here. I know this is just the tip of the iceberg, that there are all kinds of upcoming expenses threatening our Prosecco fund. This is when I realize the universe is still laughing at me. You can take my breasts and my flat stomach and my daily showers and my quiet morning time. You can expose me to a screaming, irrational toddler and smelly diaper changes and mind-numbing hours of Elmo.

But now you’ve taking my airplane tickets. Now I’m pissed.

Fare thee well, weekends in Copenhagen! I’ll miss you, quick little hops to London! I hope we’ll meet again, cozy trips to Oslo for no reason at all! You’ve kept me happy and adventurous for many years, I hope we’ll be reacquainted before too long. Just as soon as we pay off karate classes and music lessons and football tickets and college degrees and weddings and ….. and….. and…

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Top Toddler “Non-Toys”

This is the post toy manufacturers don’t want you to read. But I just can’t keep silent any longer.

Toys suck.

I don’t want them to suck. Really, I don’t. I always pop into a toy store when I see one nearby, always hoping there will be something in there that my son will adore. And – let’s be honest here – we’re all hoping that if we find that one perfect toy, our toddlers will sit for hours on end and play happily (i.e – quietly) with themselves.

But that doesn’t happen. Ever. Because toys suck.

So I’m giving up on toys. Sure, I’ve still got them around – all the train sets and stacking blocks and miniature puzzles and those “put-the-shapes-in-the-right-hole” thingy-s. Maybe my 22-month old boy is still too young to appreciate them. But in the meantime, I’m making note of the things he DOES like to play with, and I’m keeping those handy instead.

Here are some top contenders for “non-toy” hits in our own house:

The Bathroom

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Counting with Q-tips… 1…2…3…

My son has a field day in the bathroom – it’s a non-toy treasure chest! So many little jars of stuff to stack on the floor, toilet paper to unwind, laundry baskets to empty and refill. And you know that lingering box of tampons collecting dust on your shelves? Excellent toddler fun. Just look at this photo – he’s surrounded by wonderful store-bought toys, but what does my little meatloaf enjoy the most? A giant box of Q-tips, taken downstairs from the bathroom. This, my friends, is true genius at work.

The Kitchen

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Our kitchen’s very own grab-bag

You know that giant drawer you have with all the odd-shaped kitchen gadgets? The one that makes you root around in frustration trying to find something that is inevitably not even in there but rather sitting in the dishwasher or on the drying rack?

Yep, perfect non-toy material. Place anything potentially lethal out of reach and then let your little one go wild. My little guy loves the plastic spatulas and the measuring cups and the can opener and the lemon squeezer. It’s like one of those giant grab-bags we used to have in school around Christmas time. You get to reach in, root around for something and then pull out some new treasure. Good stuff.

Along the same lines is the infamously disorganized Tupperware drawer that we all have and hate. And this set of cookie cutters from IKEA. Sure, they require some clean-up when the fun is over, but what’s two minutes of cleaning compared to 10 minutes of quiet playtime?

The Terrace

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Not our terrace, but still dirt

I feel fortunate to have a house here in Gran Canaria with a large, sun-filled terrace. Quite naturally, I have loaded up the terrace with all kinds of outdoor playthings – miniature bikes and cars and footballs and child-sized tables and chairs. But what does my little one gravitate to every single time we’re outside?

The dirt.

Yep. Go figure. Ditch the toys that claim to help develop your kids’ motor skills, or that promote productive play or heightened learning or blah blah blah….  Just get yourselves a big pile of dirt and be done with it.

I must admit, however, that Per Christian isn’t actually allowed to play in the dirt. Which means – he receives a loud “Nononononono!” every time he scoops some up from the flower bed and attempts to swallow it. Which means – it’s even more interesting than it was before Mommy said something.

The Grocery Store

Have you ever taken your toddler to the grocery store without actually strapping them into the cart? No?! Try it, really!

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Wrapping paper = joy. Trust.

You’re going to think I’m crazy here, but this is honestly one of my favorite things to do with Per Christian at the moment. There’s HUGE non-toy potential in the grocery store!

I’m not talking about doing this on those big once-a-week stock-up shopping trips, but rather the ones where you just pop in for some milk or a few things for dinner. Let them help you carry/drag the mini shopping basket around the store, or pick out the bread from the bakery, or help you place the fruit & veggies into plastic bags.

And when he screams for that roll of wrapping paper that you really don’t need? Eh – let him have the wrapping paper. 1 dollar of cost for you, but then an entire day of amusement for him. Besides that, he’ll be distracted during the inevitable candy vortex that awaits you at the cashier. It’s a win-win!

The Great Outdoors

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Must. Have. THIS. Rock.

This one’s a no-brainer, but deserves a mention anyway. No toy on the face of the planet can amuse my toddler like the park. Of course, it’s mostly the dirt and the rocks at the park that he loves so much, but still. You haven’t lived until you’ve sat peacefully for 30 minutes in the sunshine watching your little boy happily hunting for and throwing small pebbles into the lake.

They also have fountains and ducks and climbing gyms at our park, but really it’s all about the rocks for Per Christian. And the dirt.

How about you all? What non-toys are big hits in your own house?

Just photos

The Svendsen family is finally – finally! – taking a two-week holiday off the island. We’re heading back to our old Oslo stomping grounds, then on to Bratislava for some much-needed time with dear friends.

We’ll be offline while we travel, so here are some recent photos of our full-fledged Fidel to tide everyone over until our return.

Old enough now to enjoy our neighborhood park…

… and crazy about cars at our local shopping centre:

Braving the heat in the pool at Pappa’s hotel

… and also in the sea:

I hand-on-the-bible promise this was Per Christian’s own idea:

Keepin’ it cool in Gran Canaria:

See you all again in a few weeks!

I’m not sure how this happened…

The Svendsen family has three people in it – two adults and one 14-month old child.

And yet, somehow, this is what our toothbrush container looks like in the bathroom:

And no, we don’t have any visitors at the moment.

It all started innocently enough. I read somewhere that you should start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as they pop through. So, being an inexperienced mother that blindly follows any and all parenting advice, I went out and bought some brightly-colored mini brushes for my son’s mini teeth.

He hates them. He took one look at them, pushed them violently away from his face, and that was that.

However, as I reported here, Per Christian loves hangin’ in the bathroom with us in the mornings. And he loves Pappa’s adult-sized blue toothbrush. Not Mommy’s pink one, and not the cute mini green ones I bought especially for him. Nope, just Pappa’s plain old blue one. He literally screams and cries out for it anytime he’s even close to our bathroom.

So, being an inexperienced mother that loves a bit of quiet during her bathroom time, I’ve started letting him crawl all over the house with Pappa’s blue toothbrush. Maybe he’s teething and like the texture of that brush, maybe he’s already developed a God complex about his father and wants whatever he has. Maybe he’s just 14 months old and a mystery.

Whatever.

He’s happy, Mommy can pee in peace and now Pappa needs a new toothbrush.

All of which leads me to another CFM moment at Carrefour yesterday, standing in the aisle with hundreds of toothbrushes, trying to buy a new toothbrush for Pappa.

Hmmm… if Per Christian sees Pappa with a new toothbrush, he’ll want that one instead of the blue one. So the new one should look similar to the blue one. But not too similar, because Pappa is color blind and needs something he can tell apart from the blue one being dragged around the house.

And here’s another little mini one with different colors on it – maybe Per Christian will go for that one rather than the green ones I got him earlier. If I just find him the right color or shape or size, he’ll love his own toothbrush and all my feelings of maternal insecurity will be washed away and I will be a Truly Successful Mother…

Seriously folks, I’m soooooo thrilled I got my MBA in order to figure out these life challenges.

The end of the story is that we all have new toothbrushes, but Per Christian still only has eyes for Pappa’s old blue toothbrush. So that stays around for now and our toothbrush container looks like we’re a happy family of seven (although all with perfectly-manicured dentures).

Oh, and that new, brightly-colored mini brush I bought him?

Fogetaboutit, yo….

I fear this means that in 30 years some woman will scream at my son for wearing t-shirts with holes in them and refusing to throw them away, and his response will be that they’re “broken in” and comfortable.

Poking a snake

Since Pappa S is working 15-hour days opening his hotel, I find myself with a lot of solitary time in the evenings. Our miniature meatloaf goes to bed around 6-6:30 every night (I know, I know, everyone hates me….), so there are still several hours to kill before I can reasonably permit myself to go to bed as well.

I’m not complaining, I enjoy a quiet night alone just as much as every other full-time mother. I have a couple different options of how to spend my time – take a look and see if you can figure out which one should not be included on future lists if I want to preserve what little sanity I have left:

  1. Reading – I go through books as quickly as a French chef goes through butter. I thought I’d have less time to read after our baby was born, but it turns out it’s quite the opposite. Every guest that visits us is instructed to bring me their latest reading treasures, and I’m not picky about the genre. If you enjoyed it, pay it forward and send it my way.
  2. Graboid – I discovered this online streaming service a few years ago as a way to keep up with American television while living abroad. I may be far away, but I still need my weekly dose of Grey’s Anatomy every now and then. When I’m home alone in the evenings, I watch the really trashy shows that I can’t admit to in real life (hellooooo, Bachelor/Bachelorette/Bachelor Pad). I’m so ashamed.
  3. Cooking – All my friends know that I’m a fanatic list-maker. And without a regular job in Gran Canaria to occupy my brain and list-making mania, I do the only other reasonable thing you could expect… I plan meals. I make lists of ingredients. I take Per Christian to the market during the day. I buy ingredients and cross them off my list. And then I cook all night because our refrigerator is overflowing and needs to be emptied. So if Pappa S isn’t at home in the evenings, you can find me either in the kitchen cooking or else making another list somewhere. (And, yes, I realize this sounds slightly sad and pathetic to all my fellow MBA colleagues out there, but I promise you’ll enjoy a full stomach whenever you visit Casa Svendsen.)
  4. Blogging – I have more than one post on here that was written in a cloudy haze of solitary red wine drinking (present post included). Probably not a great idea, but I do notice that those posts tend to get more hits than the soberly-written ones. Go figure.
  5. Look at Old Photos and Videos of Per Christian – This one is definitely the kicker. Right as Pappa S and I have decided that we’re perfectly content with our little threesome and feel no need to repeat the experience, I do something stupid like watch old baby videos. The problem is that they’re just soooo cute, it makes me want to do it all over again. Uh oh…..

So, yeah, of all five items above, the last one is the most likely to send me flying over the cookoo’s nest. Of course these videos make me nostalgic for baby-hood; they capture all the wonderful giggles and first-time movements of our own freshly-minted human being. We don’t have any videos of late-night feedings or screaming sessions. There are no videos of mommy slurping coffee with her hair standing on end after a sleepless night. There are no videos of me scouring the internet for answers to why my baby won’t sleep/eat/poop/sleep. They’re all good times, and they make my uterus scream out for a repeat.

So I think it’s best that I stick to drunken blogging and trashy television on my nights alone. We really are a happy little threesome over here – and I even have the videos to prove it.

For better or for worse

There’s a long list of people out there who say that having kids changed their marriage forever. And they’re usually none too positive when they say it, seemingly hoping to travel back in time and remain childless if the opportunity were available. “Don’t get us wrong, we love our kid(s),” they all insist. “But…..”

And there it is – the BUT heard ‘round the world. The BUT that only married people with kids can understand. The BUT that scares couples everywhere away from the baby path.

Here’s my thinking – there’s really no way for a marriage not to change when a little one comes along. It’s an entirely different life, made up of three people rather than just two. It’s a threesome (or foursome, or fivesome…) for all eternity. I think anyone would find an eternal threesome a difficult relationship to manage.

Before having children, a marriage is pretty black and white. Every month at work, you receive a salary to confirm that you’re doing your job correctly. You have rational, adult conversations with rational, adult people and decisions are made, well – rationally. And then you come home, and you have all your free time to spend doing exactly what the two of you love to do together.

It’s simple. It’s easy. It’s your own.

Things inevitably change when you invite a third person to the party. 80% of your days are like your good days at work – and when they’re good, trust me, they’re really, really good. Your child does something simple, which seems extraordinary to you, and you smile lovingly across the table at your spouse. You both smile a lot on those days, and you feel closer to this family unit you’ve created than you ever imagined. You’re bound deeply together by a miniature package of extraordinariness. This is how children change a marriage for the better.

You don’t always hear that side of the story, and that’s a shame.

More often, you hear about the other 20%. On those days, you’re dealing with an irrational boss who refuses to issue clear instructions, and who just does whatever they damn well please. On these days, you’re moody and almost definitely short-tempered. You feel like a failure in one way or another, or maybe in a hundred ways all together. It’s been a bad day at work for one or both of you – there’s tension in the air, one or both of you is pissed off, and angry words may be spoken.

It happens. For better or for worse.

At Casa Svendsen, we’ve definitely had an 80/20 split over the past year. There is truly a domino effect of emotional happiness in our house, which begins with the smallest (and yet most powerful) one among us. When Per Christian has a good day, then so does Mommy. There are lots of giggles and silly stories to share in the evening. Pappa comes home to a happy house and is, by extension, also happy.

The opposite curve works the same way in reverse – a grumpy baby leads to a grumpy Mommy, who feels exhausted and run down by the end of the day. I then, of course, take it all out on Per when he walks in the door. On these days, Pappa has to bear the brunt of all my own feelings of maternal inadequacy because our son is too young to shoulder such burdens.

Luckily for us all, Per errs on the less emotional end of the spectrum and realizes, quite rationally, that whatever troubles await him at home shall soon pass. Per Christian won’t always be so small and require so much work. I won’t always be home alone caring for him. We won’t always find him such a mystery to understand or feel ourselves to be so helpless – although I do expect that we’ll always feel entirely inadequate for the task.

Is it all worth it, you wonder? The simple answer is “yes,” but the more honest answer is “not always.” Here’s the thing – despite the challenges of the 20%, I really, really don’t want a time machine (most of the time). I would not give up my son for all the free time in the world (most of the time). Yes, I’m tired and yes, I do miss my former ability to impersonate a calm, rational adult. And of course I miss our carefree days alone, drinking Prosecco for breakfast on a lazy Saturday morning, as opposed to venting on my husband all my furies after a difficult day of tending to our meatloaf.

But my son is a part of me, taken directly out of my body and walking (stumbling, actually…) around in real life right before my very eyes. How miraculous is that? I can watch him and see reflections in him of both my husband and me. He is an extraordinary being; I can find no other words for it. And when I see my son in this light, I know that I love my husband and my family down to my deepest, darkest core.

So yes, children change a marriage, there’s no way around it. We lose our tempers more often and are made to bear more responsibility than we could ever previously imagine. We will never, ever again get to be selfish and think about only ourselves. Our threesome is here to stay, and all the subtleties of joining three separate people into one loving family unit have to be managed with care.

There are 20% of hard times for our unit, when my husband has to play the roll of punching bag because the real criminal agent is too young to understand Mommy’s frustrations.

But then there are 80% of really great times, when I walk in the door and see my son literally bouncing with excitement over my arrival. And then I see my husband standing right behind him, with an equally large smile on his face. We’re a family, and we’re so very blessed.

That’s just how a marriage with children works. For better or for worse.

Tending the wounded

Since Friday evening, the Svendsen household has washed approximately 72 loads of laundry, changed approximately 189 green diapers and gone through approximately 49 pairs of clothes.

That’s right – our poor little Per Christian is waging his first serious battle against a stomach bug. And it’s horrible, just horrible.

Thankfully, his fever is back down again, he’s finally drinking a bit of flavored water and he’s starting get some hours of long, uninterrupted sleep. I’m personally going a bit stir-crazy in the house, but – as usual – am trying to suck it up for the Greater Good. (Note : This does not imply that I’m doing it quietly or without complaining to Pappa Per. Some things cannot be helped…)

I suppose we’re lucky we’ve made it this far without too many sick days beyond the usual colds and runny noses. But I’m definitely adding another bullet point to my previously-published list of You Know You’re a Mommy When…..

  • You know you’re a mommy when you calmly hold your baby as they’re vomiting all over your new blouse, and your only concern is that they know they’re loved in this moment and that you’ll do anything you can to help them get well again. Blouse be damned.

But even illness cannot stop us from photographing our handsome meatloaf:

Pappa's multi-tasking skills

TV time with Mommy and Sesame Street

Laundry load #33 and counting

Per Christian's food for the past three days

Mommy & Pappa's food for the past three days

A recent conversation

Mommy : “Good morning, Per Christian! Did you sleep well last night?”

PC : (standing in his crib and pointing to the ceiling fan) “Dubbidida dubba da da gugu ga!”

Mommy : “Oh, was it too cold in your room last night? Was the fan too cold for you?”

PC : (now pointing to the door) “Dubbidida dubba da da gugu ga!”

Mommy : “Oh, you want to say good morning to Pappa? Let’s go visit Pappa while he gets dressed for work.”

Pappa : (speaking in Norwegian) “God morgen, lille gutt! Har du sovet godt?”

PC : (this time pointing at Pappa’s shirt button) “Dubbidida dubba da da gugu ga!”

Pappa : “Oh, you want to help Pappa get dressed for work? Such a sweet boy, thank you for helping Pappa with his buttons!” (Pappa passes PC back to Mommy so he can re-button his shirt.)

Mommy : “Per Christian, can you say bye bye to Pappa before he leaves for work?”

PC : (waving his hand at his own face) “Ba byyyyyyyye… ba byyyyyyye….

Mommy and Pappa melt.

Such a good start to the day.

Our dirty little secret

This post has been a long time coming. I’ve been thinking about it for several months, what I wanted to say and how to write it down in words. But I’ve noticed a lot of discussion in the blogosphere world around the topic lately, so I really can’t hold back any longer.

Our son has been sleeping for 12 hours a night since he was about five months old. People seem completely amazed and perhaps a bit envious when they hear that the first time. But here’s the thing… we didn’t do it alone, and he cried a lot in the process.

After a particularly draining “vacation” to Greece last July, we hired an “online nanny” to help us with Per Christian. She was based in the UK, we were in Norway (consultants everywhere should make note of this telepresence arrangement). We had phone calls every morning and evening to talk about what was happening with our son, and she’d give us our marching orders for what to do next.

It was – in a word – a relief.

Per and I were beyond exhausted as new parents, and we were completely overwhelmed at the plethora of information (and mis-information) out there. We had no clue what we were doing and we needed help. We agreed to work long-distance with this baby consultant for three weeks, and to follow her instructions 100% during that time. If it didn’t work out or if we felt at all uncomfortable with the arrangement, then we’d go back to forging it alone. No harm done.

Our first order of business was to get Per Christian sleeping on his own. I quickly realized that we had been caught in a never-ending cycle of issues… Per Christian wasn’t nursing well because he wasn’t sleeping well, and he wasn’t sleeping because he wasn’t eating.

So we did the unthinkable – we left our fourth-month old to “cry it out.”

This is what’s garnering so much attention lately, the debate of “To Cry or Not to Cry.” Per Christian was left to cry for 20 minutes at a time – mostly during the daytime, and during periods when he should typically be napping. Trust me, those 20 minutes felt like an eternity to a nervous, new mother staring at the clock ticking down the seconds on her iPhone. But we received specific instructions from our super-nanny along the way, as well as some much-needed reassurance when I was ready to give up the entire experiment.

That very first night, Per Christian slept for eight hours. The next night for ten hours. The following night for 12 hours… and we haven’t looked back since. We of course still have the occasional sleepless night from teething pain or traveling chaos, but overall we’ve been good.

This is, understandably, a hot-temper topic among parents… Is it cruel to let our babies cry? Is it creating mistrust? Have we re-wired the neurons in his brain to hate the world? Is it putting the need for parents’ sleep above the need for infant comfort?

All I can say is that it’s worked well for us. I feel more confident taking care of my son now because I know what to expect. I know he can settle himself for naps and for bed in the evening. And if he’s not settling – or wakes up crying in the night – I know something is wrong. I don’t have to lie in bed and wonder. I just know.

I do not believe that this sleep training taught Per Christian that nobody will come for him when he cries, so he might as well suck it up and go to sleep. I still come and comfort him if he’s not sleeping after 20 minutes, and if he cries at 3am then I’m out of bed in a flash. What I do think he’s learned is how to re-settle in the night without the need of a tight swaddle, or a pacifier, or food, or hours of rocking to sleep. I believe that this is just one of the things that every child will have to learn eventually… we teach them to eat properly, how to walk on their feet, how to say their first words. Shouldn’t we also teach our children how to sleep?

I’ve been reading a lot of anti-crying and anti-sleep-training rhetoric lately, so I thought it was about time to throw my own hat into the ring. Not many of us stand up and say, “Yes, I left my child to cry and that was the right thing for us…”, but there do seem to be a lot of vocal proponents of supposedly more “gentle” methods. So what’s the right way to teach your child to fall asleep on their own?

It’s an impossible question to answer.

I do know that our experience will not work for everyone. Those first three days were tough emotionally on the entire family, and I wouldn’t criticize anyone for going a different route. We did get through it, and I personally believe we’re all better for it as a family, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t had my doubts.

Anyway, there’s my two cents thrown into the sleep training arena. I’m extremely grateful that we had help along the way, but in the end I still believe every parent has to do what feels right in the deepest, darkest corners of their gut.

Who invented these things?!

Wall decals suck. I’m adding them to my new list (that started with the jogging stroller) of baby gear that seems like a good idea, but isn’t.

Let me explain… Today I purchased Per Christian a brightly-colored set of airplane wall decals, similar to this one:

I wasn’t sure where I was going to put them since his nursery furniture is still en route from Oslo, but he seemed interested when I waved them in front of his face. So purchase them I did. (Note – I did of course know he was only responding to my own big smile and dance moves and not the decals. Give me a little credit at least…)

Having no other place to hang them, I stuck them (temporarily) onto our landlord’s TV console, which is where Per Christian often gazes at his own reflection in the shiny plastic exterior. I showed my handiwork to him, expecting something akin to euphoria and excited curiosity.

But my son, of course, was more interested in the cardboard packaging the decals came in than those wonderfully-painted, brightly-colored planes. Hmmm… maybe he can’t see them from where he’s sitting? So I sat him closer, pointed to them with an excited smile on my face, “Look, Per Christain, aren’t these cool?”

I received a blank stare in reply, then a half-hearted attempt to peel them off the console. When that didn’t work, he returned to his important work of folding, biting and dissecting the cardboard packaging.

OK, I get it – he’s a nine-month old boy who wants to touch and feel and destroy things. Makes sense. Let me take them off the console and stick them onto the cardboard packaging instead. Yes, that’s it! I can cut out the cardboard around them, making them into real-life, brightly-colored airplanes that he can touch and feel and destroy! I’m such a smart mommy…

So the arts & crafts project begins. Pasting the decals onto the cardboard, cutting around them with our kitchen scissors and softening the edges so my little explorer doesn’t injure himself. This will be fabulous! I am a rock star mommy!

“Here you go, Per Christian, aren’t these cool?”

I received a blank stare in reply, then a half-hearted attempt to use the cardboard airplanes as a teething toy. When that proved to be lame, he returned once again to his important work of folding, biting and dissecting the pieces of cardboard now scattered around our living room

Wall decals suck.