How to Talk so Children Will Listen (hint: it involves cookies)

There are lots of things that don't mix well with toddlers. Lipgloss and pageants come immediately to mind, along with clean houses, uninterrupted thoughts, and permanent markers.  After the last two months I can add "a parent on crutches" to the list.  It's just, well, impossible. 

We returned from the ER with "sprain" as the official diagnosis, and I hobbled to the couch to watch Greg and our sitter, Clara, handle dinner, bedtime and clean up.  Hmmm, this might not be so bad after all.  Then Greg gently reminded me that he had an overnight business trip scheduled the next day.  We extracted promises from Clara for all of her spare time for the next week.  I crawled up the stairs and went to bed.  Or, tried to.  Just as it's impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position when one's stomach is swollen with child, it's also impossible when one's foot has taken on Elephant Man-like proportions.  

The next day passed somehow.  The fun began when we had to return to preschool, 48 hours after The Fall.  Greg was still enjoying his 400 thread count business trip as I tried to get breakfast, empty the dishwasher and make lunches without the use of my hands. 

Then came the moment of truth.  I tried to impress upon my offspring the gravity of the situation.  First, to the four year old: "Buzzy, you are my helper.  You have to wait for me.  You have to listen to me.  You have to do EXACTLY WHAT I SAY."

She fidgeted, "Mommy, did you pack a straw in my lunchbox?"

Next, to the two year old--who, let's face it, was the weak link in this operation, present company excluded: "Rosie, you are a good girl.  You must listen to mommy.  You're going to wait for mommy.  Right?  Right?"

Rosie beamed at me.  "Ess, Mama."

I opened the door, and Buzzy actually waited for me.  Rosie tumbled out the door and promptly fell down the deck stairs onto the concrete driveway.  She lay there for a minute, as I crawled to her.  As I approached, she jumped up and made a beeline for the street.  "Buzzy, RUN."  I yelled to the four year old whom I'd just implored to wait.  "You have to stop Rosie.  GRAB HER, GRAB HER!" 

Buzzy paused, confused by my directions to tackle her baby sister.  Then she enthusiastically went for it.  "TAKE HER DOWN!" I screamed, as I crutched to the foot of the driveway as fast as I could.  "TAKE HER DOWN!"  Both the kids gaped, but at least it successfully distracted Rosie from pursuing her dreams of playing in traffic.  

I wiped the spittle off my face, and we got to school without further incident.  By the return trip, I had figured out that carrying a cookie in my pocket was a more effective, if somewhat less exciting way to get Rosie to the car.  By the end of the day, I learned that getting a toddler to behave by talking to her rather than by swooping in to pick her up is sometimes possible but very time consuming.  (And that bribery worked the best.)  Being "on" with Rosie, and even with Buzzy, was and is the most exhausting part of the injury. 

That evening, my mother, who had read one too many Facebook statuses about her granddaughters in peril, offered to come to stay with us 'till I got back on my feet.  We gratefully took her up on her offer.  She will probably be more careful with her phrasing in the future. 


  1. if nothing else, I am overjoyed that, after nearly two months without a blog post, you've healed enough to jump back on(line)! n the bribery front, perhaps you could try carrying a packet of mini M&Ms? These got both of our kids through their difficult stages (toddling, twos and potty training included). Much easier to carry (they come in a fall-proof package) and easy to dole out!

  2. M&Ms are a great idea, so long as I carry enough for Mama, too. Thanks for the warm welcome back to blogland.


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