Last week, in a bold attempt to get my children to eat any sandwich other than PBJ, I served them a car dinner of Roast Beef sandwiches. As I should have predicted, when we got home and out of the car, I found that Alex had consumed 100% of his bread with mayonnaise but I found 95% of the roast beef discarded in his carseat.

I didn’t think much about that other 5% except that maybe he’d tried it and didn’t like it. It didn’t occur to me at the time that when Alex doesn’t like something, he takes the offensive food back out of his mouth and throws it somewhere out of his direct eyeline.

It finally occurred to me on Sunday, when we got into the car after it had been parked in the sun and it was immediately clear to me that the discarded roast beef is still in there somewhere. Three sunny days later I cannot for the life of me find the meat, and the smell’s only getting worse. This is what I get for trying to introduce a more balanced diet. Maybe I’ll just leave my windows down and follow the flies.

The smell doesn’t seem to bother Lottie, who is going through a growth spurt and will not be deterred in her quest for food by even the foulest of odors.

At least I’m assuming it’s a growth spurt, because last night she was starving for dinner by 3:15. She spent the better half of the car ride home letting me know.

Believe me, I’m all about making my kids wait and setting the schedule for them, not letting them dictate it to me, blah blah blah. But last night Lottie was just. Not. Going. To. Wait. Not for anything — there wasn’t even enough time for me to get a bib on her before the free-for-all started.

She consumed an entire can of mandarin oranges, a half cup of Cheerios, 25 blueberries, 13 raspberries, a sweet potato-apple pouch, and a full serving of (puréed) beef & broccoli.

She reminded me of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, if the Very Hungry Caterpillar got high and wound up in front of McDonald’s dollar menu.

She reminded me of Templeton at the fair.

She reminded me of myself at an all-you-can-eat ice cream buffet.


She looked like a tiny bride participating in a “trash the dress” photo shoot, and as it turned out I did have to trash the dress. There wasn’t enough stain remover in the world.

Anyway, it’s safe to say she at least got a balanced meal. Meanwhile I was so busy trying to keep up with her appetite that I threw some Double Stuff Oreos and raspberries at my older kids and called that dinner.

My parenting may not be as consistent as I’d like, but at least it seems to balance itself out nicely. Part of the time I’m an attentive and engaged Mom who initiates educational crafts and historical field trips, and other times I’m the Mom who lets them watch 3 straight hours of TV because I just want to go through the mail and cook dinner (and okay, scroll through Instagram and pee) in peace.

But I’m finding that my level of parenting not only varies from day to day, but from kid to kid.

One kid gets engaged in an age-appropriate activity while the other two are left to fend for themselves. It’s just the nature of having multiple kids I guess.

Monday I took Alex to his gymnastics class and left Evelyn and Lottie to sit by the wall while I tried in vain to convince him that participating would be fun. Five minutes later I turned to find that Evelyn had joined a “Little Ninja’s” all (older) boys class and was getting ready to attempt the American Ninja Warriors Course, and Lottie was holding her bottle upside down and completely emptying it into her carseat. Add that to the list of delicious smells in my car.

Or, yesterday I woke up and decided that we’d all look presentable … so I threw a little energy into dressing the kids in cute outfits, but by the time I’d finished with two the third had already dressed herself in a pioneer bonnet, big sister t-shirt, tutu and water shoes.


I actually hope she keeps this up — if so, she should easily achieve Eric’s dream of her not dating until she’s 30.

If then.

Today at the playground I was focused on feeding Lottie and also shooting laser eyes at an older girl who was being mean to Evelyn, and while I was doing that it turns out Alex was over by the slide casually stuffing his diaper full of wood chips. Those were fun to retrieve.

I think it will be good for them in the long run, right? At least that’s what I like to tell myself on days (or in moments) like this. They’ll grow up able to entertain themselves, fend for themselves, dress themselves (in Civil War era garb) and feed themselves.

Just as long as what they’re feeding themselves is Peanut Butter and Jelly.