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6 Questions Parenting Books (and Google) Don't Answer

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I knew I was screwed when the strictest of parenting books,“Child Wise” ( a spinoff of the controversial “Baby Wise”) had no advice for my query on how to handle my 2-year-old kicking the wall. The basic advice could be summed up as: Be consistent, be firm and expect 50 percent compliance, and may God have mercy on your soul.

My daughter was kicking the wall because we had the audacity to move her into a big girl bed in a spacious room decorated with flowers, birds and bright pink curtains. She loved the room. She told me it was, “mazing!” But every night, she would wake up and kick the walls.

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Once she knocked down the perfectly framed pictures above her bed and the glass shattered in her sheets. She was OK. But I was a mess. Sobbing, I put her back in the crib, which was awaiting the arrival of her little brother, and wondered how I was failing her.

I began to search books and the Internet for solutions. I put out an open call for advice on Facebook, but no one had any clue how to stop the wall kicking. There were theories about the reasons, but none of those theories translated to practical ways to get sleep. When I asked my daughter why she kicked the walls she just shrugged, “I wake up and I’m so berry mad at you for making me sleep in dis room.”

“Do you want to go back to your old room?” I asked.

She started sobbing. “No, dat room is for babies! I want to sleep on a rainbow!”

“What can I do?” I asked.

“I want a cookie!” She got the cookie. But the wall kicking continued. Then, after almost two months, the wall kicking ended and was replaced by pooping in her princess undies during naptime. Again, we were at a loss.

As a parent, I’ve routinely faced challenges that completely baffle me. Despite living in a society replete with information, if you Google, “How do I stop my daughter from stealing the toilet paper and hiding it under her bed,” you get zero results. So, here are some parenting problems I’ve faced that the books and advice don’t address and how I’ve dealt with them.

How do you take away a knife from a baby?

He was waving (the knife) around while I was on the phone with poison control.

Babies wielding knives is a lot more common of a problem than you would imagine, especially if that baby can push a stool to the counter and climb up and grab a knife from the wall. The first time I was threatened with an armed baby was when he was a year old and scooted a box over to the counter and grabbed a knife. He was waving it around while I was on the phone with poison control because he had also eaten a cigarette that was discarded in our front yard. If I came at him head on, he’d stab me or himself. Soon, the knife slipped from his hands and I grabbed it. Since then, I’ve learned when your baby has a knife or anything that threatens imminent harm, come at them from behind and squeeze their hands until they release the object.

What do you do when your 3-year-old steals toilet paper?

At first I thought I was crazy. Toilet paper was rapidly disappearing from the bathroom. But there was no evidence of theft, no toilet paper trails in my 3-year-old’s room or hanging from the mouth of my baby. On a hunch though, I asked my daughter. “Oh yeah,” she said, “da paper is under my bed so da monsters can wipe their butts.” We had lots of talks but the thievery didn’t end. And good luck asking Google. Finally, after getting stranded with no toilet paper a few too many times, I bought her four rolls of the cheapest toilet paper I could find. It was like Christmas. She was so happy. The thievery has ended.

What do you do when your 3-year-old steals toothbrushes and sleeps with them?

I don’t know. This all started right after the toilet paper thievery started.

What do you do when your 18-month-old throws animal crackers at you in anger?

Eat them.

What do you do when your children are screaming on a 14-hour road trip and you are totally against drugging them to sleep, but now you have a migraine and you are exhausted because your husband made everyone leave at 2 a.m.? Because in his famous last words, “The kids will sleep!” But its noon and no one has slept.

Pull over, buy yourself all the snacks you need. Forget your kids. But don’t forget your husband because he is your only adult ally in this metal prison on wheels. Buy some Excedrin. Then, buy Benadryl or Tylenol. Drug your children. Drug yourself. Play calming music. Wait until they sleep, eat all the snacks and gird your loins for when they wake up.

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What do you do when your baby only wants to eat buttered noodles and cheese sticks and screams when you try to feed him anything else?

Feed him the other things. While he screams and throws food at you, text the babysitter and plan a night out with your husband. Use the promise of a nice meal alone to sustain you through the next few nights of screaming (because the food you put on his plate is the severed body of Elmo).

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