The Five Levels of Toddler Hell


Forget Dante’s Inferno.  After having my sweet baby kidnapped and replaced with a toddler months ago, I have now realized toddlerhood has it’s own circles of hell.  Forget Happiest Toddler on the Block, I should have read Sun Tzu’s Art of War.  No, this is not a blog piece belaboring the point about toddlers being a**holes, because I don’t believe my child is one… okay, fine, at least most of the time. What it is about, however, is now being the parent of a human being who has more feelings and wants than a new diaper and a bottle, but not enough emotional maturity or life experience to understand priorities, logic, or, for the love of God, social embarrassment.


1.  Potty Training

Great, now I have to introduce words about bodily functions and appropriate anatomy to my child who repeats absolutely everything, to anyone, at any time.  Nope, don’t see any awkward moments on my horizon…ugh.


2.  Big boy/girl bed training

Woohoo!  My baby is sleep trained – getting at least 10 hours of restful sleep at night, and mommy and daddy are now rested individuals.  Oh wait, now I have to train a human who has the self-control of a gnat to stay in his bed – all night?  Two words for you – SOMA bed. For those of you uninitiated, this is used in hospitals for patients who are not able to stay safely in their beds.  Think a pack-n-play but with a roof :). So, to my coworkers: if you see me rolling one of these babies down the hall, don’t worry, I promise to return it…sometime next year.

Soma bed


3.  Childcare inconsistencies

It didn’t particularly matter before who gave my child his bottle, because bottles are pretty much given the same way by everyone.  However, because I really do require a metropolitan city instead of a village to help with childcare, the inconsistencies are becoming glaringly obvious.  I am eternally grateful for everyone who pitches in to make our world work. However, my little stinker has quickly figured out how to manipulate each and every one of us. Like, when I come home at night and my child looks like a cocaine addict, with powder all over his face and hands…albeit the powder is orange, instead of white, and came from a half-eaten bag of cheese puffs instead of the leaves of a coca plant. My husband’s response, “well, I asked him what he wanted to eat, and he said cheese puffs.”  %#U@$^*  Of course he did, he’s 2, and a certifiable cheese puff addict!  What did you expect him to ask for?!  Green beans?  Which leads us to our next circle of hell….


4.  Dinnertime

Overall, I approach dinnertime like war. Yep, war. I swear my child acts like being forced to sit in one spot and eat food is the equivalent to waterboarding. I wish someone would make me sit down and eat food that I didn’t have to cook!  Anyways, the battle begins with the attempt to capture the enemy child.  This might sound easy, which let me tell you those little suckers are even more slippery than escargot (, and let’s hope he doesn’t decide to become an invertebrate.  Next, are the attempts to keep that little butt in a chair long enough to actually insert food into his mouth.  Sadly, gone are the days where they could be locked secured into a high chair.  I continue to wonder what happened to my happy child who eagerly ate avocado, calamari, and hummus.  He has now been replaced by a version of Buddy the Elf ( who believes strongly in trying to stick to his 5 major food groups.  Which are, in no particular order…




Cheese puffs


Since I clearly want him to eat outside of these “food groups”, next comes the attempt to basically trick him into eating real food.  This is where solid espionage skills are required.  Just “hide” the vegetables you say?  Ha!  My two year old is a much trickier opponent than that.  See for yourself –

Screen Shot 2015-02-05 at 8.03.44 AM

I know it is kind of dark, but this is an image taken from a video of my 2 year old eating mashed potatoes, with corn mixed in.  This is photographic evidence of him spitting out each and every individual kernel of corn after every possible molecule of mashed potatoes had been sucked off of them.



5.  Preschool

Preschools are a racket.  You want me to pay how much for 3 half days a week?  A mandatory play evaluation? Umm, okay, sure.  I’m not exactly sure what watching my kid alternate between picking his nose and putting a puzzle together will tell you, but sure, I get it… I guess.  Wait, he needs more testing before he can be offered a spot in your preschool?  Oh, it’s a psychological evaluation?  Umm, because you have been burned in the past accepting all those pyromaniac 3 year olds running around?  Are you f’ing kidding me? What sort of psychological evaluation can you perform on a toddler?  My kid doesn’t even remember what he ate for dinner last night, likes to run in circles until he falls over, and thinks the sound of him passing gas is the best joke ever.  Can’t wait to see how this turns out…


To all my toddler parents out there – hang in there, my brothers and my sisters in these battles of will.  Soon, they will be over… but so will those sweet requests to cuddle and sloppy wet kisses at night.  Toddlers truly are Sour Patch Kids, sour and sweet all at the same time.  Like it or not, this phase, just like the candy, has an expiration date.



* photo of Soma bed from

Diagnosis? Invertebrate Toddler-itis.

As a physician, I wanted to let all moms know, that Yes!  Finally!  Our suspicions about the sudden loss of bony structures in our toddlers is a real phenomenon. And, the medical community is finally taking note.

I noticed in the latest version of my owner’s manual (version 2,3664.01….), you know the book that tells you how to do everything the “right way” so you always know what to do with your children at all ages and stages?  Yeah, that one.  Well, I was perusing my latest downloaded version, and this sudden inability of my toddler to stand up or maintain his own body weight against gravity is explained!

It is called… Invertebrate Toddler-itis.

Symptoms are chiefly exhibited by acute flaccid paralysis, which is usually accompanied by watery discharge from eyes and nose (aka crying hysterically), loud wailing only interrupted by said child inhaling deeply only to begin wailing again, and a flushed face.

Typical situations in which you might find this occurring: attempting to strap your toddler into his or her stroller or carseat when they all of sudden decide that they don’t want to go bye-bye, when telling your toddler it is “night-night” time, or when you finally are able to wrestle that last crumbling goldfish out of their tiny vice-like fists at dinnertime in an effort to promote the eating of vegetables.

The onset of this condition is typically sudden, and the duration varies according to situation.  It is extremely important to note that when this condition occurs in public, it will absolutely, every single time, without a doubt, last twice as long as any episode which occurs in your own home.  Equally, the more people that are able to witness the episode, the longer it will last.

Although there are documented reports of prevention attempts, (I myself tried taping popsicle sticks behind my toddler’s joints before venturing out into public as a sort of exo-skeleton), none have been successful so far.

It can’t be prevented, and it can’t be cured.  But, let us hope, with awareness and maybe a(n)  ice bucket wine bottle challenge or two, enough money will be raised to launch and support the genomic research that this condition rightly deserves.

Now, let’s all bow our heads and join in the daily prayer of all toddler parents everywhere.

“Dear Baby/Toddler Jesus, Please let me not get enraged by, put myself in time out because of, or disown love my child today.  Amen.”

Anti-terrorism 101 and Tearful Timeouts

Rule number 1.

You don’t negotiate with terrorists.


Why is this trauma mama writing about terrorism?  Well, because I have been negotiating with terrorists for the past 9 years and now it is coming to bite me in the a**.

I confess, I live with two terrorists.  One has light brown skin, curly dark hair, and is 34 ½ inches tall.  The other is covered in red fur and weighs 140lbs.

It all started 9 years ago when this lovely cuddly face entered my life.  Otis Benjamin, our beautiful Bullmastiff puppy was our first child.  And, he was an easy puppy.  Easy to potty train, fast to learn “sit”, “stay” and other commands.  But then, he hit his adolescence and I was not mentally prepared for it.  Almost every day posed a new problem.  Otis ate a hole in our wall and is in the corner looking like a crack addict with white powder all over his face?  My fault, I probably don’t walk him enough.  Otis ate the washing machine?  Yes, this really happened and again, my fault because I’m sure he was bored.  You can see where this is heading.  Luckily, as usual, my husband stepped in, took control and there were no more negotiations.  He was told to do something, and it was expected that he obey 100% of the time.  If he didn’t obey, there was no cajoling, pleading, or persuading (my modus operandi) being done.  He got punished.  I probably should have prefaced this by stating that outside of the hospital, I am a wimp.  I just couldn’t punish him.  I thought being nice and sweet and understanding would lead my 140lb dog to obey because he would know I loved him.  I thought, if I am “mean” to him and punish him, he won’t love me anymore.  I know, I can hear all of you chuckling because, duh, my dog doesn’t think like that.  He just wants to eat, sleep and know the rules so he stays out of trouble and in our laps.  Yep, I said laps.  He weighs more than me, but don’t tell him that!


My child, my lovely happy easy baby boy is now 19 months old and has become a hitter.  He hits everything and everyone – including Otis.  I’m not going to lie it is pretty funny watching a 28 pound little human go after a gigantic dog who just rolls over on him, but it isn’t right.

Wikipedia defines terrorism as “the systematic use of violence as the means of coercion for political purposes”.  Although my child obviously has no political purpose and he isn’t necessarily violent, his behavior has taken my household hostage.  I have tried re-direction, saying “no”, saying “no” louder, and even giving him cookies to have him stop hitting.  This is now the second time I have negotiated with a terrorist.  The first time has resulted in a 140 pound dog who although loves me and protects me with all his heart, doesn’t listen to me at all.  About anything.  In fact, I’m pretty sure he is laughing at me on the inside whenever I tell him to do something.

Two days ago, I was showing my son pictures of himself on the phone (his favorite activity and yes, I know that definitely makes him my child) and out of nowhere he slaps me in my face.  In a resolve to not have another living being in my house that won’t listen to me, we had our first time out.  I did it.  Despite the ever present evil Mommy guilt and deep rooted concern that my child doesn’t love me, I disciplined him.  I told him “time out”, plopped his little behind in a chair, held his hands and let him cry.  Did I tear up a little bit?  Sure.  Was it hard?  Absolutely.  Was my husband on the couch watching us and laughing at me and how hard I was taking it?  Of course.  But I did it, and that leads me to the following:

Three promises to my son as we enter toddlerhood.

  1. I promise to try and understand.

I get it, it must suck.  You completely understand what is going on, you have definite wants and needs, but you don’t have the words for it.  All you have are hand gestures, emotions and a few words to try and convey sometimes very particular ideas/wants/wishes/needs.  Just try it.  Try to tell your friend/spouse/significant other what you want for dinner with a vocabulary that consists of doggie, ball, up, off, cow, light, fan, bye bye, and night night.  It is absolutely okay for you to have emotions, get frustrated, and be upset and I promise to try and understand and be patient with you.

2.  I promise to discipline you.

You are going to want to be popular one day.  You are going to want friends, be invited to parties, and most likely, play sports.  You are going to want to be successful in life.  And this is one way in which I can help you achieve that success.  Discipline will show you the rules, what is right and wrong, how to behave at home and in public, and most importantly how you treat other people – whether you like them or not.  Although you hate your time out chair, your time out chair will play a role in you achieving your dreams.  You will be a better person because you understand what “no” means.

3.  I promise to love you.

Even when you go noodle bodied on me in the grocery store and I can’t pick you up because when I try you remain limp and everyone is staring at us and thinking how terrible of a mother I am surely because their toddler is having a meltdown, I will love you.  It hurts me when you cry, but I love you too much to give in.  I love you too much to allow you to behave in ways that in the future will only hurt you.  And even during the hopefully brief times that you are mad at me, know that I will always love you.