Will Work For Goldfishes

My toddler needs a job.

Have you ever been unemployed? It sucks. You sit around all day alternating between feeling miserable and sorry for yourself and sudden bursts of energy where you vow to use every second of your free time as a chance to finally organize your pantry/paint all your baseboards/read War & Peace/write those thank you notes from last Christmas. For a little while, having a MISSION and a PLAN and GOALS makes you forget how much it sucks that no one is paying you to do anything. Then you realize no one actually gives a shit if your baseboards are dirty and fall into the pit of despair and crawl back under your Snuggie to watch Judge Judy and feel sorry for yourself while moaning about how unfair everything is.

That’s what life is like every day with a 19 month old. For him, not for me. My job of simply keeping him alive is almost more than I can handle most days.

Only instead of acting out in normal ways, like excessive morning drinking and crying at the grocery store, he expresses his displeasure at feeling unimportant by dumping an entire bowl of Cheerios on the floor and stomping on them. Or by throwing my iPhone at the dog. Or by appointing himself Mayor of Trash and freaking the freak out every time anyone else tries to pick up/throw away things. OMG HOW COULD YOU MAMA THAT GRANOLA BAR WRAPPER WAS MY OWN SPESHUL FAVORITE THING??!?!

I’ve tried getting him involved in various household chores -“Honey, can you hand Mommy the silverware from the dishwasher?” “Ok, where do the dirty diapers go?” “Yah! Let’s pick up our toys! What a fun game!” – but he’s a toddler, not an idiot. He knows those are just dirty tricks to make him think he’s helping and not His Job. So far I haven’t been able to come up with anything toddler appropriate (he can’t feed the dog because he eats the dog food), time consuming (especially between the hours of 10:30 am and noon aka SCREAM’O’CLOCK), and exhausting (because, really, isn’t tiring him out the whole point?) enough to count as WORK. 19 months is too young for chores though, right? I mean besides what I’m already doing? Or did I already miss the boat on helping and now he’s going to be a lazy, selfish man-child slob his entire life?

Man, this parenting thing is super fun and stress free.

I don’t suppose there’s some sort of waiver I can sign that lets him work at Target, right? I miss the discount.

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9 Responses to “Will Work For Goldfishes”

  1. I’ve got nothing. Mine likes to “help” clean…but by help clean I mean walk around with the adult-sized metal handled broom and run into things with it. It’s not exactly helpful…..but he does like to go around the room and wipe things down with baby wipes. In fact, our entire living room has a thin layer of baby wipe film on it. Good Luck!

    (P.S. I hope that new name is a little easier for Evan to keep track of :)

  2. Audrey says:

    Ev is also a Mayor of Trash. As well as Informer of “this is where poop comes from” which I think means he’s going to work for Fox News one day.

  3. Meg says:

    Tell you what, he can come over and rummage through my trash if you’ll take my little red-haired cat (well, orange) for a few days. He’ll probably scratch the hell out of your furniture and eat you out of house and home, but he’s really sweet. Even if he *did* bound (all 13 pounds of hims) across my boobs this morning before I was fully awake.

    Do we have a trade?

  4. I think the Target idea is fantastic. If you figure it out, let me know and I’ll have my kid join yours.

  5. sarrible says:

    I hardly ever drank in the morning when I was unemployed. Mostly I watched the Food Network and then lazily trained for a 5-K.

    I think what you need is basically a hamster wheel for Evan. It will work on his fine motor skills and tire him out, and it can even power small appliances! I’m applying for a patent on the toddler wheel right now.

  6. merin says:

    Man you hit the nail on the head with this post. Cora’s job today is trimming the tree…aka stuffing her stuffed animals inside the christmas tree and rehanging (stuffing into the tree) all the ornaments in toddler range. It’s great fun for all!!

  7. Cole says:

    I need a job, too, so I’ll be watching your responses here… Also, you can tell Evan I commiserate, because Mommy throws away/takes stuff that is VEERY IMPORTANT to me all the time!

  8. brigidkeely says:

    Niko has a toddler-sized broom and a microfiber cloth and he walks around wiping things down and then throwing them on the floor. The shelves he can reach are CLEAN CLEAN CLEAN.

    He’s hugely into cars and trains and lining things up in rows right now, so that keeps him occupied. And I can usually distract him by asking him if various toys (his baby doll, his stuffed animals, his wooden cars, his balls, etc) want to go down the slide. That never stops being thrilling.

  9. andrea says:

    I hear you. We have several things that work. Breso loves “cleaning” things, so I give him an old cloth and ask him to help me clean. He goes around cleaning everything he finds over and over again. This buys me: 10 minutes in a good day. He also LOVES going through old magazines. Parent magazines are his favourite because he can spot kids/babies/moms/dads/toys. He looks through them, rips pages out, tries to eat them… this buys me 15 minutes. Lego is also a good option. It usually buys me 15-20 minutes although I have to participate at some points (when he can’t get two pieces to stick together). We bought him a sticker book for toddlers which has a million photos of things (cars, houses, kids, fruit, animals) and he looks at it over and over and over again (he still doesn’t know they are stickers). This buys me 15 minutes. If nothing works and we are both going nuts, I turn the tv on. I know it’s terrible, but this one never fails. I tell myself I get two tv chunks a day, so if I’ve turned the tv on twice to entertain him, I won’t do it a third time (sometimes I cheat, though).And, of course there are days nothing I do works to make him stop screaming so I tell him I need to be alone and leave the room (I go by the stairs where I can see him, but he can’t see me). He usually stops screaming when I leave the room and starts doing something on his own (“read” a book, sulk on the couch, play with his shoes, etc).
    We have been teaching him to clean-up after he plays and it’s going great. He is not an idiot (he knows it’s NOT fun), but neither am I (I really do not want to be cleaning up after him until he goes to college). He understands when it’s clean-up time and helps me pick up his toys and put the lego pieces in the box and take the box to the corner. He takes his books to where they belong and his cars to the toy-box. Some days work better than others, but it’s usually ok. When he doesn’t want to help me, I don’t force him. He knows that we clean up before going to bed so whenever he is feeling sleepy, he starts picking stuff up and we know it’s time to go sleepy time.
    Anyway, longest comment ever (I should have emailed you). I hope some of this stuff works (not saying it’s the best, specially not the tv, but it’s what has worked for us). I know that things can get a bit (ok, a lot) out of hand with a toddler. I go crazy some days (ok, most days)!
    love,
    andrea

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