This past weekend we stayed at a hotel. Our Master Plan when away with the kids, to compensate for their irregular schedules (schedules are the secret of sanity when living with very young people) is to stay at a hotel with a heated pool, where we can basically exhaust the children to the point where they simply fall asleep as soon as they get in front of the tv. No, not imaginative, but effective.

The pool plan requires us to basically close the pool down. We're always the last ones to leave, usually being shooed out by staff. This last stay, on Friday night, we had our front desk lady in the pool two minutes before the official close time, clucking at and whooshing us towards the door like we were a bunch of unruly chickens. This time, however, we were about ready to leave, with only Birdie having to put on his super classy orange boots.

Here's the thing: Birdie is 22 months old and the most unreasonable person I've ever met. Even for a toddler, he's immensely independent, selfish, proud, and irrational. In other words, he will do it himself, whatever 'it' may be, or the WORLD WILL END. My job, as his attendant and PA, is to supply sweets and stare patiently at the wall while he takes 20 minutes to open a door, pour a drink of water, or count his fingers.

So, there we are at pool closing time (or two minutes to closing time) with the clucking desk clerk all rushing and flustered trying to get back to her post at the front, and Birdie, perched like a crane holding onto the wall, with his little toes hovering over the top of his boots, making slow little dips into the boots, resulting in either a knocked over boot or having the whole thing twisted off to one side like he's been in a terrible industrial accident. It's funny as hell if you've already accepted your lot as the wall starer. If you are a rushed lady, imagining an irate guest unable to reach anyone at the front desk when he needs an extra pillow or the movie channel turned on, it's the most annoying thing in the world.


My little smile and apology saying something like us being on 'toddler time' was met with an icy, 'well, I'm not,' and a glare directed at my boy that might have stunted his growth if he'd been paying attention.

One of my favorite posts here of all time is the Crayon Liberation, which has, I think, struck a cord with a few of you too, as I still frequently get messages about it, both on the post and in my personal email. I still remind myself every day, or every hour depending on the day, that there is more to every situation than maintaining order and following rules. Being late, being messy, being silly - it's not so bad if I can keep perspective.

But I'm not a jerk. I did grab the little dictator, popped his boot on, and got us out of the pool area pronto. That, I believe, is another important factor to keep in mind: balance.

Now I'm going to rush about town doing chores and errands, with a toddler in tow, and a preschooler to pick up and drop off, and I'm going to chant those two words, perspective and balance, and try not to get frustrated with it all. It's mental training for the creative times, and a good way to live, I think.


  1. Perspective and Balance...I'll have to remember those two this week!!! I've got three Flu Cases in da house right now. I'm finding my days are a lot better if I keep perspective...and balance out the mindless Disney marathons with plenty of cuddles and juice.

  2. Thanks... that is something i have learned with young children - though some days i have to re-learn it :)

  3. I am a long time reader of your blog and not sure if I have ever commented. BUT I HAVE TO SAY THANK YOU!!!

    this is such a great post. I have 2 kids about the same age as yours. And my 2 year old sounds much like your son (maybe they are all the same?)

    thanks for the reminder about perspective and balance. I forget those sometimes.

    You are so great.

  4. First off, I love that you called your child unreasonable. :)

    Second off, as a long time retail - and therefore customer service - worker, I can totally understand the clerk's annoyance. What I can't understand is that she showed it so obviously. How unprofessional.

    Third off, yes. Balance and perspective. I could use some more of both of those myself.

  5. thanks for putting things back into perspective for me. :-)
    i really need to practise that wall staring, especially when my 2.5 year old girls want to put their own winter boots on, it easily takes 20 minutes only for the left shoe being on the right foot...they will not let me help. it's all: 'me do it, no mummy help!'
    i must admit i sometimes find it hard to know when 'balance' has to step in, we do want them to be independend, but when is it time to just take over?
    as a result we often walk to the trainstation all frustrated, because that is one time, when we have to leave the house at a certain time and no matter how early we start, we never seem to be too early....
    long live perspective, balance and patience (the hardest one for me) :-)
    sometimes i ask myself: will i remember that in 20 years, if not, it's not so bad.

  6. The only thing harder to do than resist taking over for a struggling child who does not want your help (sitting on hands that convulsively jerk in a desire to help is sometimes necessary) is gently refusing help to a child who is asking for it when she should do it herself. There are so many times when we know they not only can do it, but they really have to do it on their own. They think we're so brave and can do anything - if only they knew!

  7. if only they knew!
    vegbee, you are so right about that. sometimes when there is talk about mothers, or an article in the paper etc. i feel that it does not concern me. i often feel like i am some kind of pretender, only pretending to be a mother and one day someone will find out, that i had just been muddling along somehow.
    is that weird? i guess as long as the children don't find out :-)

  8. It's people like that who make you wonder how they can call it the "hospitality business".