Tag Archives: Toddler

Help Is Not a Four-Letter Word

Do you like to ask for help? Me, neither.

Even then, I thought I knew it all.

Even as a toddler, I yanked my hand from my mother’s and ran into a street in downtown Indianapolis. Terrified by screeches and honks, though, I clung to her at the next crossing.

Maybe I learned I wasn’t ready to take charge of my life? Nope. Instead, I believed Mommy needed help with hers. She needed me to iron while she was busy with my baby sister. That I ironed my left hand (I still bear the scar) should have made me question my choices.

It did. I still avoid ironing whenever possible.

But cautions about so-called independence learned during childhood vanished during my teens. My friends and I knew everything. Parents resembled forerunners of ATMs, except they gave advice along with money.

I should have wondered why The Beatles, the 1960s epitome of youth and success, sang lines about needing help and growing older. John Lennon and Paul McCartney were only 25 and 23 when they penned “Help” and McCartney wrote “Yesterday.”

But I didn’t until I married and had our first baby. Where was the faucet to shut off drool, puke and pee? I finally admitted that perhaps … I needed guidance.

Image by Natalia Lavrinenko from Pixabay.

Did I ask my parents or in-laws? No. Instead, I consulted books.

Though I did learn from several good ones, none provided critical answers I needed.

Most of the books then and today tell us to look within. That we know all the answers.

Instead, shouldn’t we open the Book that tells us to look up? To realize Someone much bigger and smarter stands waiting to help us?

We Americans pretend every day is Independence Day — even in January. However, 2024 stretches before us, its kamikaze traffic already whizzing by. Can we really navigate it alone?

Or, when we cross unknown streets, should we reach for the Helping Hand always ready to guide us?

Image by reenablack from Pixabay.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Where does your help come from?

The Best Pick

Image by borislagosbarrera from Pixabay.

Does blueberry picking sound like a Fun Time to you?

Bribery convinced my small children: “If we don’t get thrown out of the patch, we’ll hit the bakery later.”

Often, they were too full of berries to finish doughnuts, so Mom obliged them.

Image by Anya1 from Pixabay.

I also considered it a rare productive activity, defined as: we made it to a potty in time; no one went to the ER; and I wasn’t nominated for Bad Mother of the Year. Plus, some berries came home.

Years later, our son invited Hubby and me to pick blueberries with his family.

Five-year-old Jonathan bragged, “I’ll pick 35 times 72 pounds!”

Ty the Little Guy wore the world’s cutest sun hat, appropriate for the world’s cutest toddler.

Arriving at the farm, we walked past fields of blueberry bushes. And walked. And walked.

Soon, both boys would need naps. Or Grandma would.

A guide finally assigned us a row abounding in big, juicy berries.

Image by Artur Pawlak from Pixabay.

Our tall son and Hubby handled top branches. I covered the bushes’ midsections. I also resigned myself to picking lower branches — and sleeping on a heating pad that night. The boys will grab just enough blueberries to eat and dye their skins.

Jonathan disagreed. “I’m little, but I can pick lots!”

Ty, however, had a beef. Everyone but him received a white bucket. Fill someone else’s? A fate worse than death.

Eventually, he decided Daddy’s bucket would do. Ty dragged it up and down rows, popping through bushes and batting long-lashed, brown eyes at other pickers.

Above flirting, Jonathan picked continuously for more than an hour!

Grandma’s feet gave out. We adjourned to weigh and pay. Ty allowed Daddy to tote his bucket and carry him on his shoulders.

“You’re heavy, Ty. How many berries did you eat?”

Little Guy’s smeary face somehow looked innocent.

“I’ll pay extra.” Daddy sighed. “Next time, I’ll weigh him before and after.”

Blueberry cheesecake, here we come!

Jonathan didn’t accumulate 2,520 pounds of berries (35 x 72), but the five pounds he and Daddy picked made him happy.

A productive day. Even Grandma and Grandpa made it to a clean potty in time. Nobody went to the ER. Daddy wasn’t nominated for Bad Parent of the Year, though he forgot to give Ty a bucket.

We had a berry Fun Time.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Do you have a favorite fruit-picking memory?

In the small town where our children grew up, Plymouth, Indiana, 500,000 people attend the Blueberry Festival every year–the setting for a book I wrote several years ago.

Classic Post: Christmas Tree Chronicles

This post first appeared on December 2, 2020.

Do you remember that first Christmas tree you, as an adult, hauled home?

Maybe you and your beloved cut a fragrant evergreen at a Christmas tree farm amid silvery snowfall.

Or you procured a Charlie Brown escapee or spent precious dollars on a Salvation Army find.

I wish we, as newlyweds, had considered those alternatives. We’d saved $50 for Christmas. Total. We possessed no lights or ornaments. We spent our bankroll on family gifts instead.

However, neighbors offered bottom branches removed from theirs. Humming “Deck the Halls,” I accented the pine-scented boughs with little red balls.

Voilà! Christmas!

The next year, I vowed to have a tree, though possibly decorated with popcorn strings and spray-painted macaroni — and the red balls.

My sister-in-law to the rescue: “Why didn’t you tell us you needed Christmas stuff? Mom gave us bunches.”

How I celebrated that tree in our government-subsidized apartment! We’d never go without one again — though some Decembers proved more adventurous than others.

Later, when Hubby was training day and night at a hospital, I stuffed our Christmas tree into our only car’s trunk.

Whew! Now to drag it downstairs to our basement apartment. Except, where were my keys?

With the tree. In the trunk.

Did I mention I was pregnant?

After a grand tour per city bus, I finally arrived at Hubby’s hospital. They paged him: “Dr. Phillips. Dr. Phillips. Your wife locked her keys in the car. Please report to the front desk.”

He displayed zero Christmas spirit, but he handed me his keys. After another city tour, I drove myself and the tree home.

Little did I know what Christmas tree tribulations awaited me as a parent.

The following year, Hubby and I set up the tree in our daughter’s playpen.

Why didn’t we corral her instead?

Child-raising theories then advocated free-range offspring. No dastardly playpen for our baby.

As our family expanded, Christmas ideals shrank to survival for us, the kids, and the tree. Trying to hide it from rampaging toddlers, we moved the tree to different locations each year. All in vain. Our son’s destructo gene zeroed in. I covered the tree’s lower branches with harmless ornaments, hoping he would eat those.

He climbed it.

To this day, I don’t know if our son consumed broken ornaments. He is 30-plus now, so I guess the destructo gene was linked to another granting him an iron stomach.

This year, our empty-nest tree mostly fears my smacking it with the vacuum. With no inkling of its predecessors’ sufferings, it basks in gentle serenity, glowing with lights, tinsel and memories.

Unnoticed little red balls, polished by 47 Christmases, still shine.

Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What Christmas-tree tale can you tell?