Saturday, September 13, 2008

Toddlers Need A Turkey Timer

You know that little plastic thermometer that pops up when the Thanksgiving turkey is done?

This morning, Late Blooming Dad came up with the idea that there should be such a thing for toddlers ... only it should pop up ten minutes before they're done. And by done I mean about to become impossible.

Today we took Thing 1 and Thing 2 to the Brentwood Country Mart, a place most small kids adore. That's because it has coin-operated rides, a toy store, and ample kid-friendly food options, as well as an outdoor courtyard in which to eat adjacent to aforementioned kiddie rides and toy store. You'd think our kids would've been thrilled to be there.

For a little while, they were. They emptied our pockets of spare quarters, and rode the same rides they'd ridden before with no sign of boredom. They eyed the toy store and promised to be good and eat their lunches in exchange for the chance to inside. But somehow, by the time food arrived, their moods had shifted.

It wasn't as if we hadn't fed them breakfast and offered plentiful snacks. They'd had French toast and fruit before attending a one-hour kiddie gym class, and upon arrival at the Country Mart, were given yogurt squeezers (for the uninitiated, that's yogurt in a tube, so it's like a push-up popsicle). We'd also plied them with breakfast bars just before and after gym class, though they'd only nibbled on these. We'd even given them the City Bakery's delectable pretzel croissants to munch on while waiting for their food to be prepared (but they stopped after a couple of bites each).

Food arrived. The grilled cheese for him and eggs on toast for her went mostly uneaten; demands for mommy and daddy's lemonade were incessant; and when daddy procured rotisserie chicken legs, they still had to be coaxed to get protein into their systems. Only the promise of the toy store visit coaxed them to eat the chicken they normally devour. By now, they were unable to sit in one place and wanted to run amok on the courtyard ramp, only there were too many people around to make it sufficiently easy to navigate.

Daddy explained they could go to the toy store on condition that they would not be allowed to get a new toy. Reluctantly, they agreed to this precondition. By now it was getting precariously close to nap time, and here's where that turkey timer popping up would've been most useful.

Unfortunately, though we managed to coax one out of the store peacefully, the other had to be carried out screaming. By the time we arrived at the car, screaming one had calmed and was practically asleep, but the other hit her stride and refused to get into the car seat, prompting an exasperating wrestling match. The ride home was marked by a stop to calm her and re-insert her into the car seat's five-point harness, out of which she had partly wriggled. The top-of-the-lungs protest continued for a few painful minutes, followed by wimpering and at last, when I put a comforting hand on hers while contorting my body in ways no one should to reach the back seat, quiet finally reigned.

It was on this drive that Late Blooming Dad came up with the idea for an early warning Toddler Timer similar to the Turkey timer.

I'm ready to buy stock in the company that first puts these on the market.

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