Tacos and trauma

By Mir
July 18, 2006

As Chris noted earlier today, it has been Hot ’round here. Very Very Hot. Too Hot To Play Outside Hot.

I never realized there was such a thing as Too Hot To Play Outside, but there really is. I was driving back from some errands (oh, blessed babysitter: how I do love thee) this morning and heard on the radio that—in addition to being So Very Hot outside—we were having a day of dangerously high ozone levels, and so it was recommended that all children, elderly, pets, and anyone who likes to breathe oxygen stay inside as much as possible.

[This, by the way, confuses me. First, isn’t there a troublesome hole in the ozone layer? But we have TOO MUCH ozone? Can’t we just use it to plug up the hole? Second, why is there LESS ozone inside my house? Do I have an Ozone Filtration System? Do I need to put rock salt into it periodically?]

Anyway, I listened to the people on the radio and came home determined to keep my precious offspring inside for the rest of the day. Because I love them and want only the very best for them, and felt that an afternoon of me screaming “PICK UP THIS MESS RIGHT NOW!” and five or six hours of Cartoon Network would nourish their budding souls as nothing else could.

I kid, of course. Five or six hours of Cartoon Network only happens when someone has a fever or is puking. I let them watch an additional hour of television and then spent the rest of the day telling them to
1) clean up,
2) stop running,
3) don’t throw in the house,
4) cease sitting on your sibling’s head,

(Yes, it was a special brand of nurturance that can only come from a day of 99 degree temps and dangerously high levels of ozone.)

(Also, Sunday’s sermon at church was about not taking the name of the Lord in vain. So far I’m doing REALLY WELL, I think. For my next trick, I plan to make french toast with the Communion bread, and also to use GODDAMNED ARTIFICIAL SYRUP.)

Anyway. By the time dinner rolled around, we were all hot, cranky, and bored. Also, hungry. Well, I thought we were all hungry. Maybe that was just me.

My simmering pan of taco beef was greeted with “Mama, something SMELLS!” and then “Wow, that looks like worms.” So I knew dinner was going to be… challenging. But I soldiered on. Because I hear that when all else fails, the hole in the ozone layer can be plugged with salsa.

Monkey hadn’t eaten any lunch. I knew this because his plate from lunch was sitting on the table, completely untouched, from earlier. Upon questioning I was informed that he Just Wasn’t Hungry. Okay. Skipping a meal isn’t going to kill the kid.

But now it was dinner and he was twirling his plate and blowing bubbles in his milk and by all appearances planning not to eat, yet again. “Monkey,” I implored, “boy can not live by pop-tart alone!” He furrowed his brow at me. “I mean, you NEED TO EAT SOMETHING.” He extracted a single cheese shred from his tortilla and nibbled it.

Meanwhile, Chickadee was rearranging her taco innards with laser precision. Incorrectly assembled tacos! Just another service I offer! Clearly she couldn’t partake until the matter had been remedied.

And so I sat at the table, enjoying my tacos, between my two children. On my left, Monkey made his shred of cheese last about ten minutes. On my right, Chickadee sculpted and swirled and then took gigantic bites that sprayed ground beef across her plate, the table, the floor, and possibly that hole in the ozone layer.

Finally I gave up. “Monkey. You didn’t eat a bite of lunch. Now you’re not eating dinner. If you’re not going to eat, you’re going to take a shower and go to bed, because I am going to have to assume that you’re sick.” To my surprise, Monkey hopped down from his seat and headed upstairs for a shower without a word of complaint.

And then I wondered if he really was sick.

While I got him going upstairs—he is a self-sufficient showerer except for adjusting the water, which I’m still teaching him how to do—he commented that the last time he took a shower, Chickadee helped him squeeze the soap out of the bottle. I said that was fine, but that he could do it himself this time. I then went down to my room to grab something I’d just thought of, before heading back downstairs.

I then heard Chickadee in the bathroom, DEMANDING that Monkey tell her WHAT HE SAID about her. “Are you GETTING ME IN TROUBLE by telling Mama something??” she hissed through the shower curtain. Monkey assured her he wasn’t, but she was not appeased. “I HEARD YOU,” she continued. “And I’m going to GET YOU if I get in trouble.”

“CHICKADEE!” She dragged her heels down the hall to my room. “Did I just hear you THREATENING your brother? For YOUR INFORMATION he was telling me that you had HELPED HIM. And you’re all up here with your NASTY ATTITUDE giving him a hard time. LEAVE. HIM. ALONE.” She glared at me and left the room.

Not a minute later, I heard from the bathroom:

“I am still going to get you if you said something you shouldn’t’ve.” Monkey began to cry.

It was at this point that I decided that any “getting” would be done by me.

I called the girl child back to my room and words were said and hands were waved and in very short order she was flying down the hallway in hysterics, STILL SASSING ME over her shoulder as she went.

So I followed her to her room and smothered her with a pillow. Or maybe just continued my diatribe about how when your behavior is ugly people won’t want to be around you, blah blah blah blah, think before you act, consider before you speak, BE A GOOD PERSON, STOP DRIVING ME INSANE….

You know. All the essential lessons.

Of course, all SHE heard was “You are bad.” (No, I didn’t say that. I never say that. But in addition to being a gigantic pain in the ass, Chickadee is also very sensitive. So she will rip out your heart with her tiny talons and snack on it while cackling, but then sob piteously when you point out that she’s not being very nice, because NOW YOU ARE BEING MEAN TO HER.)

The hysterics continued and I threw up my hands. “Go take a shower. You’re done. You’re going to bed.” The paint started peeling off the walls as her wails turned to shrieks.

“IT’S IN THE SIXES!!” (It was 6:40ish, when this was happening.) “IT’S TOO EARLY TO GO TO BED! I CAN’T GO TO BED IN THE SIXES, I CAN’T! IT’S STILL LIGHT OUT!” I reiterated my edict and was treated to the piece de resistance of her rebuttal:


I am really looking forward to her Oscar acceptance speech.

She thrashed her way into the shower while a very tired Monkey finished getting ready for bed and then demanded that I come kiss him and tuck him in. I asked him if he was planning on EATING tomorrow and he assured me that he would. When he was less tired. He snuggled down into his pillow and bid me goodnight.

Meanwhile, Chickadee was out of the shower, her wet hair was dripping everywhere, and she was still crying so hard that every sob caused her ribcage to jerk several inches into the air in front of her. She needed just ONE MORE CHANCE, MAMA because it was TOO EARLY TO GO TO BED and (of course) she WAS NOT TIRED.

We had a brief discussion about making choices and recovering from bad choices and how tomorrow would be a better day. As I got up from her bedside to leave her room, she wailed anew.


I. had. JUST. hugged. her. “Chickadee. I just hugged you.”


“Sweetie, this is what I mean about making bad choices. It’s fine to say you’d like another hug. It’s not fine to accuse me of not hugging you when I JUST HUGGED YOU. That’s not truthful and it’s combative and it’s not a good choice.”



“But I don’t understand!”

“You… don’t understand hugging? Oooookay. Here’s another hug. And now I’m ALL DONE. And so are you. Good night!”

I thought I was free, but not 10 minutes later there was more wailing. This time from Monkey’s room. I took the stairs two at a time and burst into his room.

“What’s the matter??”

He was sitting up in bed, pointing at his clock, sobbing as though his heart had been smashed. “We… we… WE’RE MISSING FOCKSTERS!!” It was a new episode, tonight. Missing it was highly traumatic. I assured him that I’d taped it, and he lay back down, sniffing back tears.

I got him settled and emerged from his room to find Chickadee standing there, helpfully suggesting that if they went downstairs RIGHT NOW, they could probably catch the last half of the show. I countered with my own helpful suggestion, which was that if she got her little butt back to bed post haste I might not kill her right there in the hallway.

For AN HOUR they took turns getting up, or hollering out some important thought or another (“I just remembered I didn’t have any of that ice cream today… WAAAHHHHH!”). Eventually, all was quiet.

I IMed briefly with Karen about my evening and she listened and then pointed out the obvious: “Well, this is why you should DRINK.” (I got myself a big glass of water, but I’m telling you, it DIDN’T HELP.)

I don’t have any idea what we’re having for dinner tomorrow night. But I CAN tell you that it will NOT be tacos.


  1. DebR

    The communion bread French toast and artificial syrup idea made me startle the dogs with laughter. (I might be going to hell.)

    Maybe you should’ve had a big glass of communion wine instead of water.

  2. Cele

    Breathe Mir, Breathe.

  3. 4 Sanity

    Hey there from Australia, I always drop your site by but don’t comment. Today i had to tell you that you always have me in fits of laughter at your descriptions.
    Thanks for making an otherwise boring workday enjoyable.

  4. Kaz

    Its been so hot here in the uk too. my kids will not sleep.last night i go sooo frustrated I shouted up ‘if you don’t go to sleep you are going to be in trig bubble’ silence…..then raucous laughter for another hour. i went into the garden with my wine in the end and hoped they would just giggle themselves to sleep.

  5. Sara

    Hi there from London. We’re officially having a Heatwave here too, and similar warnings have been issued. Your post made me laugh and also feel like crying – as a Mum, whatever you do will always be wrong. My two went to sleep quite quickly last night, but sometimes it just goes on and on and on . . .

  6. Vanda

    Ah Mir,you just keep bringing back the memories LOL.

  7. chris

    Wow, and I just bought all the Taco fixins’ last night. Maybe I should hold off making them until the heatwave breaks.

    Though the idea of a bedtime in the SIXES is somewhat appealing, no matter how we arrive at that point. Usually I am just happy for a bedtime at all.

  8. Em

    I think Chickadee may have a blog that my daughter has been reading, instructing on how to alternatly frustrate then melt then confuse the parents.

    Recently, at roughly 9:30, after 2 hours of returning preschoolers to bed, reminding them to stay there, ignoring the negotiating tactics that were being tried on me, I finally explained how I had been a mommy ALL day and now I wanted some time to be by myself.

    A few more frustrating trips in and out of bedrooms and I may have explained it a little louder, maybe with a little less educating and a little more whining “I have been a mommy for 14 hours. I am all done being a mommy for today.” Only to be met with sad little eyes and one question, “why don’t you want to be our mommy anymore?”

    Arrow. Through. The. Heart.

    I may or may not have fed them ice cream right then and there. I need to learn your battle secrets. You are like the 5 star general in the war of parenting. Teach me ;-)

  9. Elleoz

    I just blogged about bedtime stalling on my blog. I think I am officially scared that it will never end.

    Poor Monkey. He seems like such a sweet and sensitive young man. I just wanna hug ’em! And Chickadee…

    I.AM.SCARED. I know that my daughter will be the same way. She was a mini-version of her just last night. Ugh!

    Hope tonight is better for you!

  10. Heather

    I don’t know if this will help, but when my son is driving me over the edge and I want a peaceful nice night I let him pick dinner. He has a plate that is sectioned off in 5 sections. So last night he picked something for each section. Now mind you – it is not always full of health – but for the most part not too bad. And he always picks a veggie or fruit for at least one of the sections. Sometimes I give him choices to pick from. He seems to better the nights we do this, probably a couple of times a month. One section is always a drink, so as long as he doesn’t ask for a cookie in each section (which he has) we are good. But then I am lucky because he will eat anything. He is not a picky eater at all. Sometimes he asks for me to use one of his sectioned plates and eat what he is eating. Not my favorite, but something so simple makes him so happy, it is worth it!!

  11. Chase

    Um. Yikes. Glad all I have are beagles! :)

  12. kirala

    I don’t think I ever got my kid in bed in the sixes in his entire life! I’m in awe. Also I agree with Karen about the drinking thing…

  13. meginAB

    My daughter is JUST LIKE THAT!
    Good Job Daughter, good job Son
    You didn’t say good job to me (daughter)
    Yes I did – no you didn’t – yes I did
    On and on and on
    I get dizzy with the drama and the fighting
    I personally now require them to tell each other they didn’t like whatever was done to them and issue apologies before I get involved in punishment. Let’s let them take some responsibility for fixing the nice peace and quiet they ruined!

  14. laura

    Ha ha! Not knowing it could be too hot to play outside. You’re a riot, Mir.

  15. Aimee


  16. Ben

    At some point during all of this I would have banished them outside to sniff the ozone and melt in the heat. And I would probably have locked the door.

    You are truly a saint for getting through the evening.

  17. Vanya

    I remember a time when all I could do was sit in the hallway with a book outside of the two closed bedroom doors. It wasn’t even worth going all the way into the living room to relax until all the “mommy!’s were done. And yes, there were times when there was no other choice but to put them to bed in the sixes – it was either that or go absolutely crazy nuts. It was at this time that I seriously contemplated therapy. Hang in there, it gets better!

  18. cheeriobutt

    I feel for you! It’s good to know that my struggles with my daughter are not the only ones! Darn this heat anyways!

  19. rachel

    much as I would love to meet you, mir (you’re so pretty! you’re also in New England with basement water problems!), I think that if my oldest and Chickadee got together it would be a horror show. it’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow!

    I think we had the same conversation in our house the other day. Except that one of the only meals all 3 of my kids will eat without arguement is tacos. I love sensitive children. really. enough to hug them really hard.

    ps – it’s even more fun when they can’t sleep in their own room due to mold and are sleeping in sleeping bags your room for months.

  20. InterstellarLass

    Chickadee sounds like the female version of my son. Don’t you wish you could put a padlock on the outside of their doors at bedtime? Then they couldn’t get out. But that would require soundproofing of their rooms.

  21. Meramoo

    Putting my nerd hat on, the ozone down here is still far more dilute than the ozone layer way up in the atmosphere and would just, um, water it down more and cause more problems.

    And oh my goodness, the only playing outside that should be done today is with a hose or sprinkler. Maybe I need to go water my garden some more…

  22. The Lazy Organizer

    I cannot relate to bedtime battles at all. After the first time I beat them into submission I have not had one problem. Even from the baby. The older tribe members must be passing her information on tribe rules and consequences.

  23. Kristi from Small Things

    I love how well you narrate the evening. I wish I could communicate the insane challenge that is motherhood so well. So what are your coping strategies? I’ve only got chocolate. Would love another suggestion.

  24. Jennifer S.

    Were you in my house last week because, I swear, your evening mimiced mine…down to the tacos. And, my kids usually love tacos!!!

    Loved the post…just came across your blog while reading “Trenches”. Think I’m going to add you to my bookmarks and favorites list :) I’m always looking for another mommy to sypathize with…makes me realize I’m not the only one thinking ‘those’ thoughts… :)

  25. cateerob


    i read your blog sometimes your daughter shounds just like mine i live in fear of the teenage years!

  26. Terri

    Hmmm…tacos are usually a hit at my house, but now you have me worried. Although, I think we are safe because we had the Pasty battle on vacation last week. You know, the speech that goes something like, “This is what’s for dinner, it’s not rat meat, eat it and or don’t eat it, those are the options, and no you won’t get popcorn, chips, ice cream, etc, etc, etc, later on.” Much crying insued, especially when the souvenir bargain was made and then backed out of when it came time to eat the reheated Pasty later on.

    Thanks to “Trenches” for posting your blog. I’m adding it to my list!

  27. MommyHAM

    OMWord, your chickadee sounds like my LMNOB! How old is she? LMNOB is 5, and that whole conversation, from “It was at this point that I decided that any “getting” would be done by me,” to “Eventually, all was quiet,” has been played out, numerous times at our house (minus the cartoon network show – they have no evening shows of interest yet!).

  28. kathy

    It isn’t the tacos. Or, maybe, it isn’t Mexican tacos. We have tacos (fast food here in Mexico) daily and withholding them hasn’t made a whit of difference in my Chickadee-clone. WHat an absolute RELIEF to find the same arguments and disasters and drama hold true north of the Rio Grande.

    Honestly, it is only due to your and Chris’ blogs that my sanity holds. For now, anyway.

  29. Izzy

    “Incorrectly assembled tacos!”

    Have you been spying on my family at dinnertime? Because that sounds just a tad, no, a LOT, familiar.

    The declaration of bad smells, the comparing of food to gross things like worms, the taco rearranging ritual… I know them well and I feel ya.

    And you must be living in one of those places I keep hearing about on the news. I live in Florida and I hate to gloat but it’s been in the low to mid 80’s here. Mind you, it’s typically hotter and more humid than Satan’s armpit most of the time but still, people aren’t keeling over from the heat.

    Stock up on popsicles and stay cool :)

  30. EverydaySuperGoddess

    Oh, lord, I have one of those, too.

    I’ve found duct tape to be extremely useful in those situations.

    (Kidding. Mostly.)

  31. Jenn2

    I’ve checked it out. It’s VERY expensive to mail your children to the opposite coast of the country. Not prohibitively expensive, but you might want to re-check the balance of Chickie’s therapy account.

    However, if Monkey’s not eating, he may not weigh as much as Missy HooHaw and Chickie’s probably lighter than Drama Queen. Do you think they’d question it if you put them on a scale together?

  32. Caroline

    “I don’t have any idea what we’re having for dinner tomorrow night. But I CAN tell you that it will NOT be tacos.”

    I suggest Valium with a side of Soma.

  33. Jill

    It is so frickin hot here in northern california too! We had to sleep with ALL the windows open and let the bugs crawl through our house to escape the heat. It is never this hot in Palo Alto!!! Uggh!

  34. Denise

    New to your blog…here via The Big Yellow House

    What a hilarious story! I’ll remember it every time I serve tacos. Your kids are a riot!

  35. Mom101

    You just made me very afraid to have a child older than, say, one in concert with summer.

  36. CelticJig

    Heck, yesterday was a very rotten day at my house, too. I’m still stinging from the tirade my 3 1/2 year old gave me last night — an hour-long tirade. She, too, is sensitive and knows just how to use those talons on me. She creatively scraped together her small vocabulary of words, spun it around, and flung it hard in my face. “I don’t love you and I DON’T LIKE YOU EITHER!!!!” Man, oh, man… she is just THREE AND A HALF. What do the coming years hold for me? I live in Atlanta, and it is always hot as hell in the summer, but this year it is an especially cripsy hot and everyone’s tempers are frayed. I can only hope that my gal’s hatred of me will abate when the weather changes. In the meantime, I dedicate my thankless life to her misery… I mean, her happy and healthy up bringing. Now, I must get back to licking my wounds. Thanks, Mir… it helps to know I’m not the only one.

  37. Kimmie

    I’m glad I’m not the only mama who has spent this heat wave screaming blue murder and praying for school to start. LOL

  38. Jennifer

    I know I’ve mentioned this before, but Chickadee and my Katie must have been separated at birth. What *is* it with the wailing, hysterical crying prompted by absolutely nothing? We’ve just returned from vacation via a 3-hour flight that turned into a 13-hour ordeal when airports were closed and we were stuck sitting on a plane from 4:45 pm to 2:45 am (followed by a 2-hour drive home). Today’s been fun. Much sympathy, and here’s hoping that better choices have been and will be made…

  39. Jennifer

    Tacos with my just-turned-4 daughter:

    (Whining) “I don’t like meat. It’s too spicy.” Parents fill shell or tortilla with refried beans, lots of cheese, and tomatoes only.

    With hard taco shells: Takes one bite, the thing cracks: “Oh, Noooooooo! It’s bwoken! WAAAAAH!”

    With soft tortillas: Takes a few bites, doesn’t hold on tight enough, and either stuff falls out or tortilla unravels: “Oh, Noooooooo! It falled apart! WAAAAAH!”

    Much better: enchiladas. Must eat with fork. Already soggy and falling apart when it goes on the plate. Nothing to “bweak”. But much more labor intensive to make.

  40. Ms Sisyphus

    Wow. I thought parallel universes were just the stuff of SF. But clearly we’re living the same life. Chickadee is ZDiva Girl, right down to the “You didn’t hug me.”

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