“Peek a Choo-Choo”: Zelda Discovers Books

By Angela

I’ve loved reading since I was a little kid. My mom and dad tell me I always had my nose stuck in a book, and I preferred books over toys. Recently, my mother gave me a box of old books that had been sitting in the attic: a vintage Disney storybook, two volumes of fairy tales (the originals, not the sanitized versions), Richard Scarry books, Aesop’s Fables in Scots verse, and more. My love for reading followed me through grade school and college, and to this day there is nothing more exciting to me than starting a new book.

I’ve been hoping Zelda becomes a bookworm, too. She didn’t show much interest in books until Christmas, when she got a cute book called Peek a Who? from her grandparents and another one entitled That’s Not My Dinosaur! from her cousins in Oklahoma. One night, when she wouldn’t settle down one night, I heard Matt reading Peek a Who to her. She quieted down, so he read it to her again and then successfully put her to bed.

Zelda surrounded by her favorites. Peek a Who, Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls, Baby Animals (from the kiddie encyclopedia), That’s Not My Dinosaur, Peek a Boo, and Sea Star, from the Little Ocean series.

Somewhere in the weeks to come, she would start finding the book and handing it to us to read. Sometimes it would be punctuated by her way of saying “read this”: YAAAA DEEEE. And we wouldn’t read it once, we would read it no less than ten times, sometimes more. That’s Not My Dinosaur! got added to the mix, and soon we were constantly reading those two books, day in and day out.

Reading Peek a Boo on a trip to Virginia Beach.

She now has a rotating set of books she loves, including random tiny books from a kids’ encyclopedia set her grandparents gave her. Her books, not her toys, litter the main room of our house, and they keep her entertained while we travel. Matt and I, with our regular habit of creating our own language, will let loose with a random “Peek a MOO” or “gorilla infant” at random times and laugh like it’s the funniest joke ever.

She doesn’t do the YAAA DEEE as much anymore, but she does cry when I finish a book and demand I read it again. I think of all the books I’ve finished and cried because they’re over – and I wonder if I started off this way, crying at the end of a book like That’s Not My Dinosaur! When I open the book and start reading again, she stops immediately. It’s uncanny.

Elizabeth I’s biography from the rebel girls book.

My personal favorite is a book called Bedtime Stories for Rebel Girls. It’s a collection of famous women’s biographies, written like fairy tales. It has amazing artwork for each woman. I had to take the book away from her because she was starting to break the spine, but she loved looking through the pictures. I’m hoping it will be her favorite when she gets older.

While reading Peek a Who forty times a day gets old, my inner English scholar is pleased. Keeping my fingers crossed that she loves reading as much as I do.

General Lemarque is Dead: How to Poop When Alone With Your Daughter

By Matt

How do you poop when you alone with your daughter? It’s likely a question many a parent has asked at least once.

While watching Zelda alone this past week, I was faced with this timeless dilemma. Angela was away on a work trip, leaving me carte blanche decision-making with Zelda. All seemed well, at least for the first few days.

But how would I react on a warm Wednesday evening when I came home from picking up Zelda from daycare? For some reason, I made her a bean burrito the previous day, which had no effect on her digestive system (she has been having difficulty going to the bathroom, so I figured the high dose of fiber would help). Unfortunately, the burrito had every possible effect on me. Come on, any dealer samples his own product . . even if I sampled said product for dinner and breakfast/lunch the following day. By the time Zelda came home from day care on Wednesday evening, I was ready to reenact the Jeff Daniels bathroom scene in Dumb and Dumber. I didn’t have to go, I had to GO. So, what to do with Zelda while I unloaded my cargo?

Well.

There were several options crawling through my mind as I drove home, as my internal doomsday clock reached midnight. I thought of them all before carefully choosing the best one.

Option A: The Quiet Sleeper

If she is tired, I can put her in her crib and let her sleep soundly, leaving me to drop the other kids off at the pool in peace. Happiness and harmony. As any parent knows, this is ultimately a cruel fantasy, as my butt always cashes checks my body can’t cash. I was ready, baby. I was flying the rubber dog shit out of Hong Kong. My bowels felt the need for speed, and Zelda was not in the least bit tired as I edged towards jettisoning my “Kenny Loggins” into the danger zone.

Alternatively, if said child is still awake, I can hold it until she is ready for a nap or go to sleep and do my business then. That was not happening, either. I soon found myself gently farting and letting out air as careful as a bottle of soda that’s been rolling around the car for a week. Zelda kept looking at me every time I farted as if I had done something wrong. She smiled and made noises with her mouth to mock me. Clever girl.

The time was 6:15 p.m. I was still a long way from putting her down for the evening, and she still had to eat dinner. Sweat began to appear on my brow. I needed another option.

Option B: Cry it Out

The other option, closely related to the first option, is to simply leave her in the safety of the crib to cry while doing business. This is, of course, the correct option, but I chose to make things more difficult. I also tend to eschew all common sense when I am alone with Zelda. So, naturally, we move on.

Option C: The Helicopter Pooper

I could try and keep her within arm’s reach of me in the bathroom while I went. The door would be closed, so she would be safe from everything but the smell.

I decided against it. For one, it’s kind of gross to essentially hold onto your daughter while you poop. We are close, but not that close. Plus, I just didn’t want her to somehow remember years down the road of the time when I held onto her hand while taking a shit.

And what if she somehow got away? There’s no safety net. By now, she has figured out how to open doors, so she is already a triple threat. There are too many variables and unknowns. You can’t solve for X when your extra Y chromosome is off somewhere in the house, leaving you to waddle around looking for her with your ass looking like a peanut butter sandwich. No good. No.

Is this too graphic? If so, congrats: you don’t have children.

Option D: General Lemarque is Dead

This is ultimately the decision I chose. Here’s how it went down:

I wanted to:

  1. Keep Zelda close by me and avoid all the tears and sadness
  2. Keep Zelda occupied while I did the dirty business
  3. Keep Zelda safe and secure

I decided, in my low-level of intelligence, to quickly draw up a plan to have Zelda play quietly with me by my side in the hallway, outside of the bathroom. I placed as many books and toys as I could in a line in front of the bathroom door and to the side in the middle of my hallway.

It was like the damn set of Les Miserables with the large barricade of toys I left in front of me. I couldn’t help but make up my own words to the musical while I hastily set it up.

BROWN. The hue of angry poop! 

I (regretfully) didn’t take a picture of the set up because I tried to go as fast as possible. By the time everything was set up and the soldiers were amassing to fire, I figured it would take one minute, tops. Wrong. That has the exact opposite effect that I wanted. In the end, Zelda sat and stared at me the whole time as I went, playing from time to time with her sing a long sound tablet. I was dropping hot lava as we sang the ABCs together. Please God, let her not remember any of this.

I didn’t want her crawling away from the barricade and out of my sight. It ended up working.  My dog tried to play Jean Valjean during this five minute musical and rescue Zelda, but to no avail. My barricade was a solid design. All my years reading about Civil War and WWI fortifications finally paid off. I think I finally know the true value of my education: to let me furiously shit for five minutes as my daughter watched in relative safety.

Stay in school, and you just might survive a bean burrito butt attack on an early evening when you are alone with your kid.