Today my 4-year-old needed new shoes, so I ran to the store and picked out a pair without her. Why not take her along, you ask? Well, because the kid loves shoes so freaking much that taking her to the shoe department is the same as taking me to the shoe department.
She has to look at every single pair, try on the ridiculous ones she knows I’ll never buy just because “they’re beautiful,” and she’ll ultimately have a meltdown at the end because A. she doesn’t want to leave and B. she simply cannot narrow it down to just one pair.
What’s worse than that little slice of shoe madness is the fact that all I have to do is touch a pair of shoes — just one touch of the hand — and I’ll instantly know if she’ll like them or not.
My kiddo doesn’t like shoes that are “too tight,” which means they’re made out of a stiff fabric (like a hard canvas). She also doesn’t like “shoes that will make me fall,” which translates to sandals. She had a pair of sandals that she tripped while wearing one time, which that means all sandals are bad and forever off the table.
In a way, moms are code-talkers because we understand and translate all of the nonsensical little details that matter to our kids. (And to no one else.)
When my niece was in preschool, she loved playing with dolls. Not all dolls, though. She only wanted to play with dolls whose legs were “dangly.” She had no use for Barbies with their rigid, slow-moving rubber limbs. Thanks, but no thanks. The dolls she liked had legs that would swing quickly back and forth.
So my sister, bless her heart, would test the dolls in the toy aisle before she made a purchase, swinging them around from side to side just to see if they’d pass the dangle test.
Side note: I like to think that she amused multiple footage-viewing security guards as she bounced those dolls around like she was an over-zealous toddler.
One of my nephews couldn’t stand “scratchy” pants when he was small, which essentially meant any pant that was not made of fleece. As it turned out, the kid loved sweat pants and would accept no substitutes. And in hindsight, I think he was a 3 year-old revolutionary. I mean, why would he want non-sweat pants? Same, little dude. Same.
But who, other than a mom, would ever guess that “scratchy pants” just meant “not sweats?”
I’ve personally had to translate for my kid when she doesn’t want the dentist to “urrrrr” her teeth (also known as brush with an electric toothbrush); when her hair is too boingy it upsets her (I'm still unclear about this, but ponytails seem to meet the minimum requirements of being non-boingy); and that she'll only eat eggs if they’re “the brown way,” which means very dry and scrambled by one who is not gifted in the kitchen and tends to scorch eggs.
What obscure little details were ridiculously important to your kids? And did you have to translate?
Lynn Kirkle is a writer and lives in Omaha with her husband and five children. She writes twice a month for momaha.com, and can be found on Twitter @LAPainter.