Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Meaning of "Uh-Oh" and "I need a little help here..."

My children never cease to amaze me.  Mostly in their ability to be as different as possible so that I can continue to feel like an absolute clueless novice about parenting.  Currently, Elizabeth is the master of understatement, while William is having to learn the "keep your reaction appropriate to the situation" lesson.

Let's start with little Miss Elizabeth.  I have realized over the past few days that she has chosen "uh oh" as her catch-all phrase for everything and that I now dread those words as I often find them an understatement for the situation that prompted it.

Case in Point: gross situations that would, for me, necessitate a squeal, a cry, an "eeeeww yuck!" or something with a little more oomph than her very nonchalant "uh oh".  These past few weeks uh-oh has signaled a teething ring dropped into the toilet that she had already proudly gone potty in (REALLY?!), peeing on the carpet (potty training is going great, can you tell?), her intention to vomit and getting her Kermit doll's foot in poop. Jeez!  Is this seriously my life now?!

And worse, since she also applies that phrase to non-panic-inducing situations, I find my heart leaping with the mere utterance of the words because I just never know what situation I'm about to walk in on.  While uh-oh can signal a poop accident or her teetering precariously on the edge of something so high I can't fathom how she got there in the first place, it can also signal her dropping the Thor action figure just out of her reach, "accidentally" (riiiiiight) throwing her blanket from her crib, smooshing Playdough into the carpet, christening one of the dogs with yogurt, ripping a book or playing the "wrong" song on her CD player. She doesn't even change her inflection for crying out loud.  The "uh oh" I get when she can't get her baby doll in the stroller is the exact same "uh oh" I get before she goes depositing foreign objects in the toilet (which to date has included a piece of her training potty, a page of a book and a brush in addition to the aforementioned teething ring).  Seriously!  Can't she at least have a calm uh-oh and an urgent one so I don't go running like the crazed mother that I am in the direction of her voice fearing the worst of bodily functions gone wrong?

And then there's William.  I think he'd better start brushing up on his Oscar speeches right now or plan to play soccer, because BOY can this kid act!  We keep having to coach him on keeping his reactions appropriate because he screams like he's having an amputation sans anesthesia when he's merely bumped his leg on the table.  He folds like a soccer player taking a dive in front of a ref, rolling around like it will earn him something, while we look on in a combination of frustration and amusement.  Today he hurt his leg and the scream he emitted, I'm pretty sure, was worse than when he cut his chin open.  "Did your leg fall off?" I found myself asking.  "Do we need to take you to the hospital?"  He laughed and said, "No!".  So Mike and I said, "Then calm down and keep your reactions appropriate dude!  Don't go screaming like you've lost a limb when you've had a minor bump!"

The best is that he, like his sister, has a go-to phrase.  His favorite is "Um... Need some help here!"  Only, unlike his sister, it is not said calmly nor in anything resembling a nonchalant manner.  It is often shouted with the urgency of one who has just been bitten by a poisonous snake and is calling quickly for the only available antidote.  So I find myself RUSHING to his aid only to be asked to put his Star Wars figure back on the speeder bike or supply him with a clean napkin because his current one contains a miniscule swipe of yogurt.  I find myself constantly saying "Dude, SERIOUSLY?!  Calm down."  Applying too much cinnamon to one's applesauce or dropping a ball down the stairs just does not require the same urgency as, oh say, your little sister courting death with one of her antics.

Why then, do you ask, do I continue to run to his aid?  Why haven't I learned my lesson?  Because, dear readers, EVERY once in a great while, he actually applies it to a real problem.  Like his sister locking herself in the bathroom or nearly choking on something.  So now he has me JUUUUST insecure enough that the phrase "um... need some help here!" gets me running because I'm afraid that this will be the one-in-ten times that something is on fire rather than merely being a case of his inability to put together a satisfactory Lincoln Logs cabin.

I find myself asking every day, "seriously?  where do these kids come from?"  I know , I know, from me.  If you asked my folks I'm sure they would tell you that I too was a drama queen or lacked the ability to adequately convey a TRUE need for help.  I think their favorite go-to phrase is becoming, "Yeeeeeaaah, I don't know ANYONE who was like that."

I think that's why I'm keeping this blog.  Someday when William complains about his melodramatic child or Elizabeth frets over her kid's lack of appropriate disgust, I will show them this entry and say, "yeeeeaah, I don't know ANYONE who was like that."  However, my future joy as a grandparent is little comfort to me right now as I navigate these parental waters constantly feeling like I'm up the proverbial creek without a paddle. 

Anyone got a paddle?  An instruction manual?  Whiskey?  Anyone... anyone...?

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