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Wednesday
Mar202019

What's in a Name?

Mila has somewhere around 23,596 nicknames, give or take a few. I don't know why. It's just a thing we do. We give things real names and then we refer to them by everything except that name. The cats, the dogs, the kids ... everybody gets a bunch of names.

Mila is beginning to question this brand of crazy.

First she refused to be referred to as "Meee-la" by deciding her invisible friend is "Meee-la." She absolutely will not answer to it, though she will sometimes tell you that "Meee-la is like My-la except not as good." It's super fun for people who make the honest mistake of mispronouncing her name. They don't know why she's giving them so much grief. They just end up feeling like jerks.

The nicknames, though. She wants to know WHYYYYYYY.

"Why did you call me (insert name)?" "Why do you keep talking to (insert name)?" She ain't having it.

Her nicknames include: Mila Moose, Moose, Peanut, Tiny, Tiny Human, Littles, Nutter, My-my, My, Nutter, Mini, and a whole bunch of other things. She's cool with "Tiny" for reasons I don't understand (maybe because it's true?), but ZOMG, don't call her "Moose."

"Why do you keep calling me 'Moose?' I'm Mila," she will scold. If you say it in a public place, Mila is going to make you look like a jerk for calling her Moose because she will go all in on arguing about it. "I'm not fat like a moose. Why did you call me that?" or "I'm not furry like a moose. I'm Mila."

She yelled, "I'M MILA!" in the middle of Target the other day when she because super annoyed with the nickname thing. It sounded exactly like someone had kidnapped her and was calling her by the wrong name, so she waited until she was in public to yell out for help.

Oh, and now she spells it. "That's not my name. Mila is my name. EM-EYE-EL-AY. MILA." If you've never had a four-year old make you feel dumb, I highly recommend it. It's great for your self-esteem.

Tuesday
Mar192019

Little Things Matter

You never really know which of the little things you do as a parent matter. Do the girls care if Santa wraps presents? Does it matter if the cookies are made from scratch or will store bought do? If the first day of spring comes and goes without a trip to Rita's, will anyone complain?

That last question was one I was going to risk.

I've taken Alexis for free Rita's every first day of spring for as long as I can remember. I'm sure there are years that we have missed, but I couldn't tell you which one because ... maybe we haven't missed a year? I don't know. This year we were set to miss it, though, because I'm traveling for work.

Whoops.

Probably should have scheduled that better.

Anyway, I didn't think it was going to be a big deal and was just going to skip and not say a word about it. Mila certainly wouldn't notice and I really didn't think Alexis would either. Alexis doesn't even like sweets, after all. But then I happened to notice an "Open" sign lit up on a Rita's the other day, so one thing led to another and I left work a few minutes early so I would have time to take the girls to Rita's before heading for the airport.

Two things happened.

1. Mila literally CHEERED when we pulled into the parking lot. "HOORAY!" and a fist pump ... the whole nine yards. She then proceeded to inhale a Blue Raspberry Italian Ice, lingering just long enough to turn her entire face blue.

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2. Alexis lit up like it was Christmas morning and she just opened a new cell phone. Seriously, she smiled so hard I thought she might hurt herself. She threw in a, "I thought we were going to miss it!" and a total admission that she cared.

So instead of free Italian Ice on the first day of spring, I treated the girls to not-free Italian Ice on the day before the first day of spring. It turns out, that was good enough to count as one of those little things that matter. Whodathunkit?

Monday
Mar182019

Easier and Harder and Not Easier at All

You know that thing where a soon-to-be or new parent starts talking about how hard everything is and how good they are at it and you're all HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA JUST WAIT.

THAT.

HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT DURING THAT?

Okay ... so ... having kids who are over 8 years apart means I live in two different worlds. I've got tantrums on both ends of the spectrum, but they're wildly different. A little perspective grants me the knowledge that one of those kids is ABSO-FREAKIN-LUTELY easier to parent than the other, and it has everything to do with age.

What I'm saying is that I'll take a 4-year old tantrum ANY DAY. A hard day with Mila is exhausting and challenging and all of that, but Alexis can walk through the door, say three words, and knock the air out of me. Their problems may always seem big to both of them, but I know better. I know which one is genuinely living in a challenging world.

And I can't keep my mouth shut about it.

The thing with parents of 4-year olds is that they LOVE to complain to one another. If I spend five minutes around one of those parents, I guarantee they will tell me all about how they aren't getting enough sleep, their kid won't eat, OMG their kid is so stubborn, friends and playdates are hard, and have you tried to leave the house in a timely manner? All of those things are valid and genuinely hard, but then here comes the 13-year old with her problems.

Kids her age are thinking about suicide. They're smoking weed. They're drinking. They're having sex. My kid that age isn't doing those things (Yet! KEY WORD "YET!" STAY AWAY FROM ME, KARMA!), but she knows what's going on around her and she's working hard to make sense of it all. I'm glad (mostly) she tells me about all of those struggles, but uuuuuuuuuugh. It's hard. Legitimately hard. And there's no parenting manual for how to react when your kid asks for help because she's worried about one of her friend's safety.

So, if you're one of those parents of a little who has complained to me, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to "top" you with Big Kid Drama, it's just that parenting doesn't get easier. It just ... changes. It becomes harder in some ways and easier in others, but the problems are bigger and more complicated and you can't just pick up that kid and walk away from the situation. But! You can absolutely ask the Big Kid to make dinner before you get home, so take solace in knowing that. There are some things that are better. Promise. And maybe remind me of that when I won't stop telling you about the hard parts, okay?