30. January 2012 here now 16
This morning, I put H.’s breakfast bowl of oatmeal in the microwave, because she said she wanted it heated up. She proceeded to scream at me because I hadn’t let her push the buttons on the microwave. When I told her I hadn’t known that she wanted to push the buttons, she could push them now, she screamed that she wanted to push them the first time. We finally agreed that she could reheat the bowl. She pushed the buttons. But when I put her bowl of breakfast oatmeal down on the table, she screamed that it was too close to her. I moved it. She screamed because now it wasn’t in front of her on the table. Then she got up to jump up and down, to emphasize her point. When she almost hit her head on an open drawer, I moved to close the drawer, which infuriated her further, and she laid down on the floor and let the floor have it. When I asked her what was wrong, we were back to not having pushed the buttons the first time. She told me not to look at her. At a total loss, I moved away. She wailed, “Mama, stay!” It feels unfair, in a way, to record these kinds of days. She missed her dad this morning, who was away at a conference. Most days, she’s not quite like this. I actually made her let me take her temperature (normal). At one point, I lost it a little. I am trying, I told her. I am trying to give you what you want… I once read a parenting blog entry that made me so angry, I pretty much stopped reading parenting blogs. It was an interview with a woman who had a high-level position in finance. Yes, she was a banker, so, perhaps I’m biased. But when she was asked for tips about how to get your kids out in the morning, she said something about making organic oatmeal in large batches on Sunday night so that you could spend your precious minutes in the morning “eating and talking.” “All you have to do is reheat  it, and maybe slice some fresh strawberries into their bowls.” This, I would like to point out, is what I was doing this morning. Reheating organic oatmeal. I even sliced some strawberries, for snack. And here is my tip, for working parents: become a banker, get a fat bonus, rape the global economy, let the American taxpayer bail you out, get self-righteous about how you still deserve that bonus, pay other people to drive your kids to Chinese lessons after school, and then, when you feel a twinge of guilt about your class status, work through that guilt by feeding your children organic food and paper over your moral bankruptcy by putting out some kind of June Cleaver fantasy of yourself in a parenting blog. OK, definitely biased. After we got through breakfast, H. wanted oatmeal for snack, so I was holding a glass bowl of it against me in the elevator at daycare, and I spilled milk down the front of my shirt. Other than that, I was feeling pretty good. We were at daycare. Our hair was not sticky. We were both wearing clothes. And then another dad got into the elevator with us. He held a pair of tiny pink shoes in his hand. Obviously he had forgotten them in the car and was heading back in. He wore jeans and a t-shirt. Just like me. But for some reason, to me, in the elevator this morning, that other child’s father was a vision of efficiency and grace. Just the way he held his keys, loose in one hand. He probably has two kids. He probably has triplets, and he published his third book last year. He is everything I’m not. Unstained, with perfect oatmeal. My tip for working parents: Wait until after five, then you can open the bourbon.

16 thoughts on “Oatmeal”

  • 1
    Colette LaBouff on Facebook on January 30, 2012

    i love this!

  • 2
    Jesse Noonan on Facebook on January 30, 2012

    Great one.

  • 3
    raphaelle on January 30, 2012

    Just last night, around 2 a.m., I too did the slow, quiet whisper. “Just tell me what you want. Whatever it is…” Great post, M.

  • 4
    thisblue on January 30, 2012

    The quiet whisper!! I know, it seems like it will be easier once they can just tell you, and then they tell you and… what they want is to warp the time space continuum.
    (thanks for the props, ladies)

  • 5
    Angela DePace on Facebook on January 30, 2012

    my favorite is when Imogen is in the throws of being frustrated by every possible thing, and i say “you can’t *not* want everything. what do you want?” and she says “i want mommy to not go to work”. that makes me feel *awesome*. : (

  • 6
    Andres Colapinto on Facebook on January 30, 2012

    You may want to check out my friend’s brand-new blog. (Not that this is what you were thinking at all.) http://mybabyisanasshole.com/ There isn’t much there yet, though.

  • 7
    Joseph Kugelmass on January 30, 2012


  • 8
    Carol Adair on Facebook on January 30, 2012

    Great, Michelle!

  • 9
    John Hollowell on Facebook on January 30, 2012

    I saw my granddaughter have this kind of “fit” over nothing. She is almost three. Nothing the kind, loving, accommodating parent can do–just get through it somehow.

  • 10
    Sarah on January 30, 2012

    ‘It is obvious que all bébés are un morceau d’un fuckwit and haven’t un clue what they wanter.”–a friend sent me this today, which seems apropos. http://apps.facebook.com/theguardian/books/2012/jan/29/digested-read-french-children-dont-throw

  • 11
    Paul on January 31, 2012

    Someday, in private, I will tell you stories about that banker which will make you feel better. But hopefully not so much better that you will go back to reading parenting blogs.

  • 12
    Emma on January 31, 2012

    Oh the microwave! Been there (this morning). I actually just crumbled and bought one of those feelings face charts and I can only tell you this because you knew me when I wore leather pants and lived on Avenue C.

  • 13
    Erin on February 3, 2012

    So funny, Michelle. Pushing buttons, indeed. Instead of the quiet whisper, I drop my voice an octave and draw it out, “W-h-a-t. D-o. Y-o-u. W-a-n-t?” I think they laugh at me.

  • 14
    thisblue on February 3, 2012

    Wait, Paul, you know this particular banker personally? I’m not sure I remember who it is…
    There is some irony in the idea of me not reading parenting blogs, yes? Maybe I should call the ones I don’t like “Sancti-mommy-logs,” to be clear that I need and admire lots of writing by other parents, just not a particular type and tone (with a hat tip to Kate for the word sancti-mommy).
    Emma, your leather pants live on in my memory. And Erin, yes. I think they laugh at us all the time.

  • 15
    Tim Robinson on February 6, 2012

    Isn’t there a point at which you’re entitled to stop caring what they want? I don’t mean “forever” I just mean right now. “It’s too late to do it first. Sorry. Now shut up!” Izzat child abuse, f’ God’s sake?

  • 16
    Brad on February 6, 2012

    I love how that’s you losing it, while me losing it is screaming at people in the street/telling a (possibly preverbal?) Riley “you are a bad child and don’t have any friends because nobody likes you.”

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