• Parenting Toddlers and The Oregon Trail are a Lot Alike

    by Theresa Reichman

    Confession? Lately, motherhood has besieged me.

    Parenting two toddlers is a heck of a lot like the game “The Oregon Trail.” You load your wagon up with parenting books and advice you got from friends, but when you actually begin to set out on the journey, you realize how totally useless 1,000 boxes of bullets are when you’re stuck with a broken wagon axle. Mostly it’s similar because your eyes are glued to that red line as it creeps closer and closer to the goal (the end!) just hoping nobody dies along the way.

    For the last year or so, I believed my girls both merited “toddler” status. They used diapers, they were picky eaters, they cried, and well, they toddled. It’s that difficult phase that makes even the best mothers cringe. But the truth is: We were in the eye of the storm. The aftermath of infant-induced sleepless nights, burp clothes, and trying to outsmart the colic that caused our babe to randomly scream like a banshee in the middle of a bustling restaurant. Yeah, it was the aftermath. But was it toddlerhood? Not hardly.

    But about a week ago, I heard an electronic “ding” and that cheerfully mechanic GPS lady mercilessly proclaimed, “You have arrived.” Lovely.

    So it began… I was enjoying a little siesta while I — foolishly — believed my daughters were doing the same. I was ripped from my serenity to the incessant chirps of a three year old, “Mommy! Mommy! Uh oh, Mommy! Uh oh, potty!”

    Immediately the sleep vanished from my brain and I MacGyvered up out of bed and dashed into their room. (Toddlerhood has a tendency to morph you into MacGyver quite frequently.)

    “Uh oh…” my 22-month-old said. (Probably more of a response to being found out than to the havoc she — I’m sure, joyfully — had wreaked.)

    Her shirt was soaked, and Scarlett’s training potty was upturned, with wet spatters of urine across their bedroom carpet. I yelled. I scrubbed. I bathed filthy children. Crisis averted.

    Until I showered. Ten minutes was all it took. If I wasn’t so utterly flustered, angry, scared, and overwhelmed, I probably would have been amazed. Two little toddlers can accomplish a lot in ten minutes.

    They can strip down to nothin’ but their panties and diaper (respectively), master the lock on the sliding glass door and strut their stuff on our balcony for the neighbors to see. In 45 degree weather, mind you.

    They can completely defile the fridge. They can build towers with the condiments found therein with all the ease of a Lego professional, and then polish off half of a casserole dish filled with corn bread.

    Easily the most nightmarish of all, they scaled the kitchen counters to retrieve Mommy’s coveted purse. (WARNING to mothers of little girls: Look out. My kiddos lusted after shoes, purses, and — swear to God — credit cards long before they could ever say any of those words.) The nightmare wasn’t that my purse is Gucci or Prada. Nah, we roll Target style here. However, my humble little purse acts as the womb to my birth control pills.

    My little darlings who turn their nose up at anything that isn’t the right temperature, color or consistency found these little tablets to be simply scrumptious. They devoured the remainder of the pack like candy.

    After much assurance from Poison Control that a bellyache was all the trouble my girls were facing, my mind lurched at the realization that HOLY SHIT. My birth control was gone. G-O-N-E. Cue thought bubble of a third toddler aiding my little devil spawn. Hell to the no.

    Operation birth control was a success, and now I can go back to being the moderately strung-out mother of two toddlers that I was before. I just hope that before we reach Destination Post Toddlerhood that the MacGyver in me doesn’t die of Typhoid Fever.



    • At age seven, my son painted his room black and put up posters of the Devil. I lived in fear for many years. (kidding) I enjoyed every minute of the childhood of my children. It was me that had all the problems, but that’s a different story. I enjoyed your torture story though, very much, especially the part about your purse. Live long and prosper.



    • Theresa, funny but oh so true. I remember falling asleep on the couch while my rugrats continued on their journeys through the house. Usually happily playing while I dozed every once in a while getting into something but my purse was never attractive to my sons until they got older and wanted “money.” Your two are so cute and I am glad the birth control wasn’t case for ipecac.



    • So Great!
      It is amazing that we survive while they are thriving…all the buds of the roses cut off to make perfume; slugs in the freezer, all the faces cut out of the only I magazine I allowed myself; bath with the baby chicks, fairy forts, diving for $25. of spare change thrown in the bottom of the pool, dolls clothes on baby rabbits…did I mention the slugs in the freezer.
      …now a grandchild on the way…


      • Pappap

      • March 20, 2011 at 10:47 pm
      • Reply

      Good story Theresa. Brings back memories of when Nana and I were toddler watchers. About the purse! Do you think that in the back of their minds they were setting up a plan to add another toddler to help them create new games for you to play. Just a thought.

      Love You


      • Norbie Kumagai

      • March 20, 2011 at 11:44 pm
      • Reply

      When our daughter Shannon was 3 or so (I was divorced from her mom), she came into my bedroom in the middle of the night and said “Daddy, Potty!!” (I understand your MacGuyver references). Its amazing how those words can instantly bring you out of a very sound sleep.

      I jumped out of bed and said, “do you need help??” Shannon replied “No Daddy, I went already!” “Where?” “The Toilet, Where Else?”

      So I asked “So Why Did You Wake Me Up??” Shannon replied, “because I wanted to see your reaction” and was laughing all the way back to bed.

      Thanks Theresa For The Memories..


      • Ashley weinshilboum

      • March 21, 2011 at 12:02 am
      • Reply

      Omfg u r hilarious. I’m dying with one active son who climbs on the table and dances before he can walk, but u have the Oregon trail blazed for us! Great story made for a great laugh. Look forward to reading more of your work!



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