Jen Stayrook

April 11, 2014
by Jen

NOT THE GREEN CHEESE and Other (Terrible) Parenting Advice

I can’t complain about my kid. All the pranking and obnoxious behavior aside, I’ve actually had an easy time with him. I see what my fellow parent friends have to put up with and I applaud their patience and ability to not murder strangers after only getting 40 hours of sleep for the year. Even at a young age, my son slept well into the night and I never had to deal with colic or screaming for hours on end. I KNOW HOW LUCKY I AM. You don’t have to remind me.

Sure, like most kids, he had tantrums, but they were manageable, and then we’d go about our merry way, laughing about farts and how Captain Hook is the real victim in Neverland.

The point of this blog post, as you may have guessed, is that my kid, like most toddlers, has grown into the “I DO WHAT I WANT” phase. And unlike other parents, I was wholly unprepared. He was such a good kid! He didn’t use the word “No” until he was 2 1/2! Now he doesn’t want to eat my food and the idea of duct taping him to a wall has almost become a reality and I don’t even know how to do this whole “time out” thing I hear people talking about. I tried calling the hospital and informing them that someone had switched my baby for a monstrous alien that burns crop circles into my carpet with all his running around and maybe they should offer a refund, but the nurse just cackled and hung up.

A few weeks ago we went to the grocery store. It was meant to be a quick trip. I wanted to make homemade pizza because sometimes I get the urge to be moderately healthy and put green things on my pizza, so I needed to buy said green things and more mozzarella cheese because no house can ever have too much cheese. I grabbed the veggies without a fuss and then tossed a bag of shredded mozzarella into the basket.

Then the shrieking began.




“This cheese isn’t green. It’s white. Like all good cheeses.” I should have know better than to try to reason with a toddler.


“The cheese in NOT green! The packaging is green! Come on, you’re being ridiculous. Let’s go.”

And there, in the middle of the dairy aisle, in front of cookie dough, yogurt, and all the things I love, my son fell to the floor, refusing to move unless I put away the green cheese.

My first instinct was to trick him into thinking I put the green cheese back, but that seemed kind of malicious and besides, we had garnered too many onlookers for me to get away with such a tactic. In that moment I tried to call up what I knew about other parents and did my best to emulate what they would do in such a situation. Talking to him didn’t work. He was beyond discussion. All he knew was that green cheese was evil and he wanted nothing to do with such nonsense. Even Dr. Suess would have failed.

So I did the only thing that made sense in that moment; I grabbed his sweaty little hand and half-dragged, half-carried his flailing body to the checkout line. I didn’t want him to know that he was wearing me down, so I kept my face as stern as possible, ignoring his screams and the concerned stares of strangers.

After an eternity, we got into the car (“NOT THE GREEN CHEESE!”), drove home (“NOT THE GREEN CHEESE!”), and I made the pizza (“NOT THE GREEN CHEESE!”).

Which he ate.

February 10, 2014
by Jen

Things TV never told me about being a stay-at-home parent

Right now I’m sitting on my couch, snuggled next to a bouncing toddler while nursing my bruised nose with an ice pack. The ice pack is because sometimes my kid doesn’t know his own head strength and when he comes in for a hug, it’s like bracing yourself for a bulldozer. I’m pretty certain he’s broken my nose at least three times, but WebMD makes it almost impossible to self-diagnose broken bones.

Since we moved to the land of rain and fog months ago, I’ve been home with the kiddo every day, something I haven’t done with him…ever. I’ve always worked full-time and he’s spent all that time in daycare. As much as I loved his teachers at daycare, there was still a part of me that hated being away from him for so long.

And now, here we are, together 24/7. It’s taken some adjustment on our part, and we still have a long way to go, but stay-at-home parenting is not at all what I expected.

Here are a few of the things I’ve learned in my time alone with monster kid: 

+ Time management is a thing of the past. Remember when you were in college and you’d get sucked into the Wikipedia rabbit hole, clicking link after link and then suddenly it’s two hours later and you’ve accomplished nothing? That’s kind of how it feels being home with a kid most days.

First things first, being home with a kid is exhausting. I’ve heard this from other SAHPs but had never experienced it, except for the first few weeks after spawn birthing. And those don’t even count because they went by in a blur of hospital stays, sleep deprivation, and painful attempts to breastfeed. People ask what I do all day being home with the kid and it’s hard to even recount the day’s events.

“I…uh…we got up sometime before the sun and ate breakfast. Well, he ate breakfast. I showered while he ate, because that’s the only time I get to do that, but I’m still wearing sweat pants because they allow to most mobility. Then we, uhm…well, we played, and he was attached to my hip. Trains, yea. Kid totally loves trains. Then it was lunch and I got to eat then. I miss food. There weren’t any clean dishes, so I did a few. Then we tried a nap, but LOL that ain’t happening because he’s three and he hates everything. Next thing I knew it was dinnertime and then bathtime and then bedtime and now I’m here, sitting in front of a computer, drinking a glass of fruit juice out of a wine glass pretending I’m fancy.” 

+ Kids are not cats. I know this sounds like such an obvious statement, but hear me out before you decide to call Child Protective Services. When I worked full-time, I knew from the teachers at daycare that my kid was fairly independent. Even when he came home, he played quietly by himself for an hour and then went to bed. Now, however, I’ve realized that even though the teachers said he was an independent kid, they still stimulated him, gave him crafts, kept him busy and fed at regular intervals. For some reason, it never dawned on me that I might have to do the same thing. I thought he’d just…you know, go play. Of course I was very  wrong. Also, I wish potty training was as easy as house breaking a cat.

+ Kids change like whoa. One of the things that made me feel the most guilty about putting my son in daycare was how much he would change in the span of a few days. He’d come home and tell me about this new hand game or nursery rhyme and I’d feel subpar because I had no hand in teaching it to him. Hell, most of the time his teachers understood his babbling chaos better than I did. But now, even though he’s RIGHT HERE (currently at my feet, squeaking about eating more after a third bowl of cereal), he still changes before my eyes. Instead of learning from his daycare teachers, he learns from the things around him at home, on TV, or from other kids at the playground. The other day he came to me giggling that “the hedgehog popped the balloon!” HEDGEHOG! HOW DID HE LEARN ABOUT HEDGEHOGS AND THEIR SPIKY NATURE?

+ He eats all my food. I don’t think I paid daycare enough for the amount of food my kid eats in one sitting. Of course, he converts it all directly into SUPERHUMAN ENERGY and flies about my house like a hummingbird on speed. I’ve already started a savings account to buy food for his teenage years.

+ Being a parent kind of sucks. Keeping my cool in the middle of a three-year-old tantrum is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a parent. Telling him “no” and establishing boundaries is difficult for the both of us; compromise isn’t on the radar for either of us. I want him to not scream his head off about having to go to the bathroom like a big kid and he wants to pee his pants and swear at me in Toddlerese. I think.

+ Less sick days, more at-work injuries. See the part above about the broken noses. Since he’s less exposed to germs from other kids, my kid is sick a lot less, but he also doesn’t know his own strength and has a habit of unintentionally injuring me.

I’m sure there are a dozen more items to add to this, but it’s lunchtime and my monster kid turns into a gremlin when he doesn’t eat every hour.

If you have things to add my list, feel free? Or if you have tips for keeping my precious little sanity in tact, also leave them for me. Finally, if you would like to donate food to my son’s SUPERHUMAN ENERGY CREATION SERVICES, send me an email. I’m trying to figure out how I can use his powers to fight crime.