The Howe To Blog

Parenting Advice from the Unqualified



Howe To…Understand the Inner Workings of a Toddler’s Mind

“Money, money, money! Let’s put in piggy!” Hailey exclaims. And thus we go through our at least once a day routine of finding daddy’s loose change and putting it into her piggy bank. We then shake the piggy bank, say “ooooh” when we hear how full it is, then talk about all the things we will buy with her money. “How cool is this?!” I say to myself. Through our little piggy bank ritual, my toddler is learning about saving and spending money and figuring out how the world works. I feel like mom extraordinaire! But this feeling is fleeting. As I watch Hailey figure things out through her two-year-old trial and error processes, yes, there are those things that make me feel like we are doing things right and teaching our daughter all the essentials. But there are also parts of her toddler behavior that just flat out confound me. I can only think that these behaviors are the result of some kind of ulterior motive on her part.

What Hailey Does: Grabs four stuffed animals, a hair brush, a flashlight, two shoes, a headband, and a receipt from Rite Aid, then decides to climb the stairs holding all of these items in her tiny little arms.
What Hailey Must be Thinking: It’s looking a little cluttered downstairs. I will help mommy clean by randomly dispersing items around the house. And I must be efficient and do this all in one trip!

What Hailey Does: Poops. It’s obvious to the world that she has pooped. I ask her, “Hailey, did you poop?” She replies, “No, honey.” (Yes, she is still calling me “honey.”) Why the lie?
What Hailey Must be Thinking: Mom worked hard all day and I really want to spare her from this monstrosity in my diaper. I’ll just pretend it’s not there. No one will be the wiser.

What Hailey Does: Kicks daddy firmly right between the eyes. And, is it my imagination, or is there the ever so slight look of satisfaction on her face?
What Hailey Must be Thinking: Daddy’s glasses look a little crooked. Hi-yaaah! All fixed.

What Hailey Does: She says, “No want ‘chickie’ to eat.” I make her pasta. She grimaces at it and says, “want chickie.”
What Hailey Must be Thinking: Mom must be bored with our mealtime staples. I’ll help her add some variety to our dinnertime offerings.

So, I’m certain our child is complex enough to have these ulterior motives, because otherwise, she’s just out to get mommy. And that will not do.



Howe To…Show Gratitude

Hailey’s language skills are developing faster than we can keep up. The other day she asked for pancakes for breakfast and we had no idea she knew how to say pancakes or that she had a particular fondness for them. Right before our eyes she’s morphing into this tiny, talking person with ideas and a will of her own and the means to communicate. She’s a little slower to catch on to the idea of manners though. In the event that we have to make a semi-public diaper change, she finds it appropriate to take off running without a diaper, sit down and put her leg over her head and display her girly parts to everyone in the room. She toots and then giggles (we have daddy to thank for this one).  And if she spots a cookie, all hell breaks loose as she clambers over anything in her path to get to it. We know this goes with the age, and we aren’t naive enough to expect perfect behavior from our toddler, but we do think it’s important, even at this young age when she cannot fully understand, to teach her how to be gracious. So we model this behavior. We say please and thank you and you’re welcome until we are blue in the face. We are sunshine and politeness. Take note, Hailey. This is how you show gratitude. Or is it? Yes, it is important to say please and thank you and to be grateful for kindnesses that are bestowed upon you, but are we modeling what is truly important when it comes to gratitude–being thankful for what you have? The short answer to that is, no. We get caught up in the minutiae of our lives. We grumble about unreasonable bosses, not enough money in the bank account, appliances in need of repair, headaches and tired feet. We know we’re fortunate on many levels, but rarely do we pay these blessings the attention they deserve, choosing instead to focus on the troubles we face. So here’s my attempt to change this and model true gratitude for my daughter.

I am grateful for my healthy child who, despite a very rough start to life a year and a half ago, is thriving and beyond amazing in every way. And I will forever owe a debt that I cannot pay to the tireless and selfless NICU nurses who cared for my child as if she was their own during the first very difficult week of her life. Thank you, NICU nurses everywhere. You are angels among us.

I am thankful for my husband who loves me unconditionally despite my many flaws and who supports me in everything I do. I could ask for no better partner in this life.

Though I have a flair for the dramatic and for hypochondria, I know that I am walking around in this life with a strong, healthy body and brain that have seen me through good times and bad and have been my foundation through it all.

I’m blessed with work, and my family wants for nothing, and I know that makes us very fortunate in this troubled time in our country.

And to my family…you drive me nuts…but I love you and am so blessed to have all you wackos in my life.

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