Lauren Wellbank

experiences may vary

Month: September 2016

The Ten Commandments of Toddler Toys

Dear Toddler Toy Makers,

I don’t know if you are aware of this, but you are the topic of many of my thoughts throughout the day.

I spend time both singing your praises, and cursing your very existence.  The duality of man, am I right?

I love you for the blessed reprieve that you give me in those times when my daughter sits at her tree top jungle station, a gorilla in one hand and a turtle in the other, just quietly playing by herself.  Giving this tired mom a chance to scroll through Facebook and see all the cool shit that I’m not doing.

I curse you, and curse you hard, when she is splashing around in the tub. I rue your very existence those times that she picks up one of her cute plastic squeeze toys and shoots a steady stream of black moldy water directly onto her naked belly*.  WTF, what the actual frak?


Obviously my pants-less child was super eager to be in the picture

So I have decided to make a proclamation. A list of Ten Commandments for Toddler Toys, if you will. I’m coming down from high atop the water table, and have my Magnadoodle and Etch A Sketch loaded with my top ten list of do’s and don’ts for toddler toys.

  1. You shall not build a toy that does not come completely apart for cleaning purposes. I do not want to have to break out the baby bottle brush to reach parts of the toy that somehow my daughter was able to lodge a wet cracker into.
  2. You shall not over complicate things. Better than being able to take the toy completely a part, how about you just make the toy all one piece. That means no seams, no holes, and no cursing at the sink as I try and use my fingernail to scrape slime off of a ridge inside a tugboat.
  3. You shall not allow any water in, without a way to get all water out. That’s how you get mold, and that’s how toys get disgustedly thrown away as my daughter watches in horror from the tub.
  4. You shall remember that things that get wet, grow mold. Water books, super cute in theory, but not in function. If it’s getting wet, then there should be no textured areas on it where mold and slime can hide.
  5. Remember the parents don’t always have all the answers, or all of the tools. If I have to unscrew something for a toy and the screws are not a standard size, then the toy should come with a screw driver.
  6. Honor the father and the mother. If the toddler can work it, then we should be able to as well. Don’t over complicate things. I don’t need a two year old making me feel like an idiot because I can’t figure out how to work the toy. I do a good enough job of making myself feel like an idiot all on my own, thank you very much.
  7. You shall not make toys that make a parent want to commit murder. Noise, how about the toys just don’t make any? And for the love of god, if it’s going to make noise, can it please not be one that is high pitch and repetitious (what I wouldn’t give for no more sirens)?
  8. You shall not put cloth where it cannot be removed for cleaning purposes. If it’s covered in cloth (like those super cute couches that unfold into a bed), I should be able to remove the cloth and wash it (like those super cute couches that unfold into a bed). Also, that cloth should be made to survive both the washer and the drier (Toddler Clothing Designers, I’m coming for you next).
  9. You shall not power toys with those ridiculous watch batteries. They are tiny, I never have them on hand to replace them when they die, and I am pretty sure they are the most dangerous thing ever.
  10. You shall not make something for a toddler that costs as much as a car payment. My toddler is here to do two things, eat crunchies and break shit, and she’s all out of crunchies.  The last thing I am doing is spending hundreds of dollars on a toy for her, no matter how many bells and whistles it has.

But in all seriousness, thank you Toddler Toy Makers. Thank you from the bottom of my tired heart. Even if half of the time my daughter’s toys sit on the floor, untouched, while she instead runs around waiving a ribbon at a half dozen rolls of paper towel that she pulled out of the closest and stacked like a tower.

Thank you

 *Life Pro Tip: If you put a dab of glue on the holes of those squeezable bath toys they no longer turn stagnant water into the black sludge of death.  Not that I ever actually do that, because it’s surprisingly easier to huff and puff and throw my hands up in disgust at them instead.  

As of November 9, 2016 this article will be featured on 

Scary Mommy

It Gets Worse, I know

I am writing this on four hours of sleep, next to my vanity and jewelry box that have both been covered in lip stick, typing on my lap top that is also covered in lip stick, while the gentle kicks of a toddler connect with my legs.  Said toddler also had four hours of sleep, spent the day running full speed through the house shrieking “no” at the top of her lungs, with only a paltry thirty minute nap six hours ago.

wp-1474547641284.jpgShe looks no worse for the wear.

I look like I’ve aged about ten years since last night.

I am done, I am spent, I have nothing left to give, and I have to do it all over again tomorrow.

Apparently, this is two*.

And apparently, this is not as bad as it gets.  As everyone so generously and lovingly and obnoxiously keeps telling me, it only gets worse at three.  To that I say… well, duh… because as of three weeks ago I thought I had an idea what I would be in for at two, but now I know that I was wrong.  Now I know better…

I know it gets worse because three weeks ago when I was getting my daughter ready for bed I noticed that her sheets were wet.  I pulled the sheets off to replace them and discovered that the mattress pad was wet as well.  As I balled up the sheets to throw them into the hamper I saw the huge orange stain on the rear side of the sheets, on the portion that is covered by the wall.  While investigating that I discovered a pile of soggy pizza flavored goldfish crackers laying in the cracks of the bed.  They were in a spot that granted me just enough access to ascertain that they were, in fact, soggy, but that did not afford me the opportunity to actually clean them up.  Which was for the best because as I was leaning over to try and wriggle my fingers between the bed slats my foot crushed down on something crunchy.  Apparently there were Cheez-It crackers under the crib.  I spent the next thirty minutes cleaning up an apparent stock pile of toddler snacks while my daughter ran up and down the hallway yelling her name over and over again.  You know, while she was supposed to be winding down for sleep.  Sleep did not come for quite some time after that (for either of us) because this night also marked the beginning of her apparent ascension into some sort of demon that does not require sleep to function the two year sleep regression.

I know it gets worse because up until last week my daughter had no clue that she could open the drawers to my vanity on her own.  She had no clue that she could use this ability to have unfettered access to my make-up collection which would allow her to wield lip stick and eye liner as only a tiny artist would, which is to say, to cover every available surface.  Neither of us knew it until she came running into the kitchen where my husband and I were getting lunch ready to show us her red stained fingers.  Now we know, now we all know.

I know it gets worse because I have spent the last three nights in a row begging, pleading, and admittedly, crying a little bit, trying to get my daughter to sleep.  I rocked her for three hours straight one night only to have her eyes pop right open as soon as I placed her in her crib.  Once I gave up and brought her into our bed so that I could finally try and get some sleep, she rewarded me for my submission by waking up every hour.  EVERY. HOUR.  I feel like an inmate at Guantanamo right now, and she’s successfully breaking down my will power with some sort of sleep deprivation, mind control, power assertion thing.  And she’s winning, by god, she’s winning.

And she knows it.

Yesterday over lunch she quietly called out to me.  I looked over at her in her high tray as she picked up the last strawberry that was sitting there.  While looking me square in the eye she wrapped her tiny little fist around the strawberry, crushing it.  The red juices and pulp squeezed out from between her chubby fingers.  It was as though she was holding the still beating heart of her enemy and enjoying the satisfaction of squeezing the final bits of life from it.  After she was done, she shook her hand to rid herself of the remains (which naturally landed all over me), and softly said, “All done.”

I get it, I feel finished too, kid.** 

I am simultaneously frustrated, cowed, and impressed.  If this is any indicator of things to come, she has a bright future as a merciless dictator ahead of her.  Either that, or a future serial killer.  Either way, I think she’ll be quite successful, and really, isn’t that what we all wish for our children?

wp-1474547670118.jpgIn the meantime, I am just going to continue to struggle through each day and keep repeating to myself the mantra which every parent I know has given me, It only gets worse.

Well, everyone except my mother-in-law, who so foolishly kindly offered for me to bring her over there for a few hours.

We’re on our way, grandmo!  WE. ARE. ON. OUR. WAY.

*My super advanced goblin child isn’t yet two years old, she is still just over two months away.  She’s just really ahead of her time with her power trip/assertion of will/desire to crush my spirt.  Like I said, she’s super advanced. 

**This is all written in good humor.  I love my little goblin and cherish every sticky hug, slobbery kiss, and softly whispered, “I you” (I love you).  Also, for the love of god, I know it gets worse and I am appreciating NOW as much as humanly possible.  Please, no more reminders of what I have to look forward to.  Please. 

Home is Where You Throw Your Dirty Clothes on the Floor

The boxes are (mostly) unpacked, the pictures are hung, and my husband’s dirty clothes are discarded all over the floor.  We are home.

It has not been an easy past two weeks.

I never actually questioned our marriage during this whole process, but I did vaguely wonder at a few points if someday I would have to place my hand on a bible in front of 12 of my peers and explain exactly how my fingerprints ended up on the murder weapon, and no your honor, I can’t account for my whereabouts that night because I was in some sort of moving induced fugue state. 

I kid, I kid.  Mostly.

I think it’s safe to say that we are on the other side of it now, though.  The only casualties were my husband’s cell phone and about a box of glassware.  And a bookcaseAnd an armoire.  Okay, and maybe a bit of my sanity (hence the busted cell phone).

Those losses aside, I did come out of the move with a new appreciation for everything that we have.  Both literally and figuratively.

Seeing everything* you own sitting in a truck is a sobering experience.  Your entire life crammed into one small space like that makes you realize how much you really have… and how it’s way too god damned much.

I vow that before the next move that I am going to get rid of at least half of our crap, maybe even more.  But I can’t think about any of that right now or I will either die of a massive brain explosion or have to start researching defense attorneys. 

And now, if we can, I’d like to take a moment to talk about how #blessed I am.  I am going to do a friends and family brag real quick.

I know most people can’t utter these words with a straight face, but I love my in-laws.  Love them.  They are literally some of the best people out there.  My husband asked them to help us move and they said yes with no reservations, even though my father-in-law was just days home from the hospital and my mother in law was recovering from a back injury.  Yet there they were, unloading box after box of crap, I mean of our precious possessions, off of the truck.  And my sister in law and her fiancé and my husband’s aunt, uncle, and cousins, I really couldn’t have asked for better help (they even stayed and helped me unpack the kitchen, LOVE THEM).  My cousin who had to work at the last minute swung by with beer, water, and snacks (LOVE HER).  And our friends gave up a Saturday morning, that I think most of them would have rather spent in bed sleeping off a hangover, to sweat it out carrying a literally shit ton of, well, our shit.

Like I said, #blessed.


Our new back yard, where strange screams break up the night (I’m sure it’s just cats or a fox or the wandering ghost of a murdered woman).

It’s been hard saying goodbye to our home and trying to get settled here.  Although I lived here when I was younger, it still feels new.  The noises are new; the way the refrigerator hums, the sound of my grandmother’s oxygen concentrator at 3AM, the weird screams that come out of the woods in the middle of the night (yeah, that’s as terrifying as it sounds).  It’s all new and different but soon it will all be part of the background, part of our new normal.

So here I sit, in my new living room, in front of my new TV, with my same old daughter, about to start a load of laundry and get this show on the road.  This place may not feel quite like home yet, but my husband’s socks are on the floor, and that’s a start.

*Apparently our house was some sort of structural turducken with stuff crammed inside of stuff crammed inside of stuff.  Even though we “moved out” on Saturday we were still finding random things back at the house as late as yesterday while we were there to do the final cleaning. 

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