August 5, 2013

Danger for Moms Who Read

Today I'm delighted to have Debra Kirouac of Just Jack sharing a story for my guest series! Deb works as a communications specialist for Save the Children, an international nonprofit helping children worldwide. Debra spent six years as a contributor to the Fairfield County Weekly, writing theater reviews, conducting interviews with celebrities, and writing funny (at least she thinks so) stories about her three year old terror toddler.


If you ever want to get a toddler’s attention, try reading something on the couch near them. Nothing piques a child’s interest more than seeing their mother relaxing and enjoying herself. I’ve noticed my son will sit in a trance-like state while watching his shows on Nick Jr. as I putter around the living room, sweeping up his cast-off snacks. I could burst into flames before him and his eyes would not flicker with recognition or even look my way. But if I attempt to read a sentence in a book, magazine, newspaper or even a leaflet, his sole purpose in life is to destroy my reading material: “Screw Nick Jr.! Mommy’s trying to read!”

The other night, while we sat and watched an episode of Franklin for the eight-thousandth time, I pulled out my autographed copy of Nora Ephron’s I Feel Bad About My Neck. It had been a long day at work and I was hoping for a few moments of “Me Time.” In the book, there’s a chapter on the realities of raising children – a very funny chapter -- but just as I got to the funny part, I felt thirty pounds of toddler weight collapse onto my pubic bone and lower abdomen with the force of a bag of bricks. The pain was exquisite and my yelp for help amused Jack so much that he did it again. He also managed to grab my book (again, this was autographed by the late Nora Ephron) and took it out of its dust jacket. I managed to hurriedly put it back together again before any pages were ripped, but when he calmed down and I re-opened it, the jacket had been placed upside down over the book. Ay dios mio!

As I tried to read a few more words, my crazed critter squeezed between my back and the couch, demanding I give him a “backpack,” which is his way of saying “piggyback.” I explained to him that Mommy was trying to read a funny essay, but he seemed immune to my pleas.

Suddenly his hands wrapped around my neck with a strength that belies his age, and I began to gasp for air. Being held in a chokehold by your towheaded toddler doesn’t lend itself to book reading… or magazine reading…or newspaper reading…or leaflet reading.

I tossed the book aside before he tried a half-nelson on me. I knew this was a good time to body slam him against the couch, which I did repeatedly. No mercy! Unfortunately, this only served to amuse him, of course, and he came at me with the ferociousness of a feral cat, his eyes crazed, his mouth sputtering toddler-isms that sounded like a cat in heat. What the heck was he saying? Who was this wild child?
So to moms of toddlers everywhere: don’t read your prized autographed books in the presence of your pre- pre- pre- pre- pre- pubescent progeny; there’s practically no point.

And learn Greco-Roman wrestling before they do!


  1. You are so right nothing will get any kids attention more than mommy enjoying a good book!!! I have had my share of "gracefully" trying to move with a 30 pound child on top of me!! Great to get to meet you!! Thanks Lea!!



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