Comedic Developmental Milestone

January 8th, 2013

A lot of four-year-olds think underwear is funny, and Violet is no exception. She and my 13-year-old niece Erica this summer made up a chanty little song. These are the words:

“Look-it my UN-derwear.
Look-it my UN-derwear.”

I know, ha! Ha. Ha. So funny! So cute! And not appropriate in many of the moments when she sings it. And aggravating when we are T-minus four seconds from being late to school, and she is still not dressed and chanting this song as she races around her room evading my grasp.

Erica, I’m glad you had that special, special chance to get in touch with YOUR inner four-year-old. P.S., you owe me six months of relaxed mornings, or at least mornings where there is no chanting during the chase scene. Or maybe I can even the score right now by telling the Internet about the permanent wedgie you had as a little one?

Back to my point: The amazing sub-genre of comedy that is underwear jokes. If you want to appear witty at a party where preschoolers are in attendance, simply raise your juice box and say something like, “So-and-so, I can see your underwear.” First-rate!

But that’s basic stuff. Let us progress to a slightly higher level of humor. Violet’s Nana taught her this little gem:

Violet: “What’s under there?”
Unsuspecting Person: “Under where?”

Let’s just say it was funny the four-thousandth time.

To no one’s surprise, Violet mastered the “You Said Underwear” routine and became adept at noting just the right moment when Mom or Dad would be distracted enough to fall for it unknowingly. She is a cool performer now and can manage to hide her excitement over the impending gotcha. She has moved on …

This afternoon I was doing laundry, and Violet came to me and said this:

“Mom. I got a great idea. How ’bout we put a pair of Dad’s underwear here under the couch. Then when he gets home, I can say, ‘What’s under there?’ And it’s underwear!’”

I know. Brilliant.

We were hours from Steve’s arrival home from work, but yes, of course, we planted the underwear under the couch. And yes, she waited for a nice, typical moment to pop the question, and yes, Steve was all, “Yeah, yeah, underwear.”

But dude, there was actually UNDERWEAR! Under THERE! Because Violet is a comedic genius or something, and I’m not just saying that because I’m her mom. This is original material. This is like little Steve Martin in Pull-Ups making up knock-knock jokes.

Oh. This is going to lead to great things.

Occupy Alice

December 14th, 2012

It’s Christmas time here, and Violet is four-and-a-half. She has asked Santa for three things: (1) a princess, (2) a superhero girl, and (3) an octopus. Unbeknownst to us, she drew pictures of these things on tiny pieces of paper and shoved them back behind the TV, which hangs on the brick wall of our converted-from-a-fireplace-into-an-entertainment-center. You know, so Santa would see them there, by the chimney. Which we had never discussed. Anyway, thankfully, she pointed them out to me a few days later and explained what the drawings represented.

Will Santa oblige? Violet has been mostly nice this year, mostly by far. There has been some naughtiness, of course, but she’s four, after all, and an intense personality, and a girl (= DRAMA). Recently, there were two whole consecutive weeks when she was 100 percent uncooperative and even more moody than usual. And just as her mom was about to go irreversibly bananas, she woke up a few days ago and was her sweetest, most cheerful little self. And it turns out the lapse in good behavior was a side effect of some work going on in her young brain, because all of a sudden, she could synthesize all of these new things, and she could snap Legos together by herself, and so much more. Some neurological quadrant was coming online, and at the expense of a tolerable attitude, but we made it, and now she can think through how to get a message to Santa on her own, and she can draw a pig, and she says things like, as we pass a medical supply store we have never discussed, “That’s where they sell stuff for old people; because they’re starting to die.” I don’t know why that impressed me so much, maybe it’s just exemplary of this new level of expression of thought going on with her all of a sudden. I mean, it’s funny, and don’t repeat it, it could make people uncomfortable, but here she is, thinking about death and aging and why a store we pass on the way home from school every day would have a window display of walkers and Lil’ Rascal scooters.

Speaking of school, Violet is a superstar in her class. She’s a fidgeter, yes (“Violet, why are you in your socks?” “The teacher took my shoes away, because I was playing with them at Rug Time.”), and she has a tendency to “phone it in” when she doesn’t like the activity she’s assigned … but she pays attention and is learning all of the things she needs to in order to be ready for kindergarten next year.

For the record, here are some things Violet cannot accuse me of when she is older:

“You cut my hair too short!” You asked for it, Kid. And it suits you so, so well, and everywhere we go, people admire your haircut from the cheap-o kid salon, where the woman cutting your hair always looks like she crawled out from under a six pack of Budweiser.

“You made me take so many lessons!” No, I made you choose. Because at four years old, you ask over and over to take ice skating, and then I sign you up for ice skating, and then sometimes you are devastated that you HAVE to go to ice skating, and then by the time we leave ice skating, you are all, “I don’t want to leave! Can we come back after dinner???” And you want to take singing lessons! And gymnastics! And tennis! And world dance!” And you just earned your blue belt in karate, so I don’t know how much longer I will even be able to tell you no without your kicking my ass, literally.

“You let me quit ballet!” I have to let you quit ballet. Or maybe I won’t. Right now you have a love/hate relationship with ballet, I think because I got inspired to make a lot of the costumes for your Alice in Wonderland show, and so there’s been a project of my own I’ve been into … and as a result you are a bit jealous of Alice in Wonderland. You have threatened to get on stage the night of the show and “not move,” or, as your teacher put it, “Occupy Alice in Wonderland.” And in many a huff this session, you have insisted you want to quit, so I have told you after Alice we don’t have to sign you up for more ballet. But you do change your mind a lot, so we shall see, ALICE.

“You let me wear crazy outfits in public!” I love your crazy outfits, you crazy punk.

“You made me leave before the [insert event here] was over!” See, two hours of college gymnastics is enough for Mom and Dad; and we don’t always need to stay until the entire audience has left the theater; and that’s not an awesome drummer, it’s just some guy with a bucket and a stick and a hat for change, let’s go; and when it’s just Mom you’re with, no, we’re not reading all of the movie credits (Dad, yes, Mom, no); and I’m sorry, but after the actors bow, there is no more play!

“You let me go barefoot? In December? In public?” You’re damn right. Hey, how about you get in a time machine and go back to 2012 and try to keep shoes on four-year-old you? Mm hm. That’s what I thought.

And now I need to wake up Vibble for her daily juice cocktail (probiotic and liquid vitamins, YUM) and gluten free pancake (it will be her first and last high-maintenance meal of the day, if you call mixing two things into her juice and toasting a frozen pancake high-maintenance, which I do). She will play some game or watch PBS on my iPad and get ready for school. It’s share day, and she has to bring something that starts with the letter “K.” No, she does not want to bring Kristan. Oh, and Nana is coming into town this morning, hooray!


August 11th, 2012

Vibble, re: a friend’s cat-who-is-no-longer-a-kitten: “He’s fat now, but he’s big and fat, fat like a potato.”

Original Jokes by 4-year-olds

June 13th, 2012

Overheard in the bathroom …

Violet: “Knock knock.”

Violet: “Who’s there?”

Violet: “Banana.”

Violet: “Banana who?”

Violet: “Um.”

Violet: “What are you doing outside my door, Banana?”

Violet: “Knocking!”


March 23rd, 2012

Vibble told me this story at dinner tonight:

Once upon a time, there was a girl, and she liked robots. And she said, “I like butterflies and rainbows.” Then she go to the mall. The end.

Funny, but Not Funny

March 19th, 2012


Let me set the scene: It’s 8:20 a.m. School starts at 8:30, a short, five-minute drive away, so we’re in good shape. We arrive at the door to the garage, and I go to grab my car keys from the normally overburdened key rack … but the rack is EMPTY.

Me: “This looks like your work. Did you take all the keys off of here to play with or something?”
Violet: “Everyone likes keys.”


Yesterday, we were spectating along the course of the L.A. Marathon for a while, and apparently, during a moment when I was occupied tending to some random need of Violet’s at preschooler-level, CONAN O’BRIEN walked by us. Steve, in his subtle way, alerted me to this—or so I am told—but I did not respond. Hm … hm … HM … maybe because THIS IS NO TIME TO BE SUBTLE!!!???!!! Not only did Steve SEE Conan, he heard him make a joke! Out loud! About the music the DJs were playing! And I missed this! Altogether missed it! My once-in-a-lifetime chance to hear Conan IN PERSON making a spontaneous joke, and I missed it, because Steve, my supposed “soul mate,” LOVE OF MY LIFE, is a subtle man.

This might be a deal breaker. I am THIS CLOSE to Googling “Divorce Lawyers Who Specialize in Sabotage Through Subtlety.” (In all seriousness, I’m not … ’cause in all seriousness, I need the next 50-plus years to GET HIM BACK FOR THIS!)

A Few Recent Violet-isms

December 18th, 2011

V: “Where are we going to dinner?”
Me: “Well, you’re having dinner with Dad. I’m going out with one of my friends.”
V: “I’m your friend.”


Me: “What the—[string of obscenities directed at a driver doing something dumb in front of me]!”
V from the backseat: “Don’t crash the car, Mom!”


And currently, she is narrating a conversation between her toes. One has a cold apparently and keeps sneezing, while another has called in his younger brother to have a discussion about going to Disneyland.

Today Violet and I went to see a production of Seussical the Musical put on by an acting troupe of teenagers and kids. Last weekend we saw The Nutcracker. Each of these events was a highlight, as Violet seems to sit pretty patiently and enrapt through any long show involving live entertainment. So sweet.

In her own ballet program’s Nutcracker, or, as her ballet teacher dubbed it, “The Nutcracker as You’ve Never Seen It Before,” Violet played a flower fairy. She and her classmates did a fabulous job dancing the Waltz of the Flower Fairies, and Violet also jumped up and joined in the scene where the mice and toy soldiers do battle. Her teacher didn’t remove her from the scene, and the older dancers whose scene it actually was just ignored their petal-headed party crasher, so Violet danced along the entire time. She made a fine mouse despite her flower costume and brought the house down with her enthusiasm. I laughed so hard I cried. I think it was the funnest moment to date in my parenting career.

The Downside of Having Front-loaders

August 21st, 2011

You can see what’s being washed in the machine, so family members can monitor the housework and comment on things. Apparently, I erred in washing a certain dirty school bag:


Look, I don’t need you looking over my shoulder, VIOLET, aka the-reason-I-have-to-do-most-of-this-housework-to-being-with. OK?!

Violet Wants …

August 4th, 2011

… a Dora popsicle. Fifty times a day.

Violet Loves My-Oh

July 26th, 2011

One of Violet’s favorite characters—perhaps second only to any and all princesses—is Mario (aka “My-Oh”). In case you don’t know, Mario is a little Italian-American plumber/hero from Nintendo video games. Violet has been enthralled with him since early on, and now her fandom is in full swing. She daily demands from Steve either “Big Mario Race” (Mario Kart on the Wii and TV), “Tiny Mario Race” (Mario Kart on the DS), or “Tiny, Tiny Mario Race” (Mario Kart on the Game Boy Micro). She loves her second-hand Mario PJs (aka “Mario Clothes” or “Mario Jamamas”), although she has pointed out her dismay that none of the princess characters from the Mario series are depicted on the fabric alongside the male heroes and villains. (That’s my girl!)

It’s a highlight of my entertainment around here to listen to her direct Steve as he plays Mario Kart. She demands either the princess character or “Queen,” as she calls the ghost character, who wears a crown but is not very queenly. She chooses which vehicle will be driven, and she alerts Steve to dangers on the track, demands he do certain things (he mostly repeats, “Yeah, I’m tryin’”), and reacts dramatically to character achievements and setbacks.

Best of all, she has a little Mario figurine that I keep in my purse, along with her princess figurines, and bust out for those boring waits in restaurants and elsewhere. The typical scenario she acts out with these figurines involves a princess in peril (i.e. trapped behind the salt shakers and Splenda packets), who is recused by Mario.

And now it is time for school. As Violet is wont to say with an Italian accent, a la Mario, “Let’s-a go!”


July 16th, 2011

Our neighbor meditates or prays, I’m not sure, in a monotone chant sometimes. As Violet and I walked by her open window, Violet explained to me, “That’s a robot!”

“No, it’s not a robot,” I said, “It’s someone praying.”

“It’s a praying robot!”

Things I Shouldn’t Have to Say/Explain

July 6th, 2011

Um, stop. Do not put cheese-melted nachos in my boots.


June 30th, 2011

June 30, 2011

Dear Miss Boone,

Please take good care of my Little One for the next three hours. Although I have left her with care-takers before, never have I given her over to someone with such an agenda for her. I’m putting my trust in you. Please give her back to me happy and in love with learning … but not too changed.

It’s only fair you should know in advance: She is equal parts raccoon, heat-seeking missile, and bunny-mermaid-cupcake-heart. Although she is proud to be a Big Kid, she still requires a lot of Hello Kitty Band-Aids. She is a punk and a force of nature. Life is short, and she came to party, with both the √©lan of an Independence Day parade and the drama of Jersey Shore.

Violet knows how to make an entrance or exit; she bursts through doors. She is going through a stalker phase at present, so please make sure she doesn’t leave at the end of class with a newly selected family before I arrive to pick her up. She is also going through a spitting phase—although, if I’m going to be honest here, it might be less a phase, and more a permanent symptom of her anarchic attitude.

Please note: She currently spends about 35 percent of her waking time pretending to be a puppy dog. (I just don’t want you to be too surprised when she licks your leg.)

Sometimes, Violet rolls with things and is mellow and low-maintenance. Other times, she gets an idea into her head and is a bit … inflexible. I’m told this is my genetic fault entirely, and so I apologize and will make myself available to you as the most accommodating classroom volunteer imaginable. You have my e-mail address—whatever you need.

Violet is very extremely uber-enthusiastic. Sometimes it causes her to dive into things head-first, often when it’s not her turn. Still, please try not to moderate her enthusiasm too much, because without it, the cheering section that roots for the rebel inside each one of us would be a little softer.

Thank you for all you do.

Kristan LaVietes


June 30, 2011

Dear Violet,

Today is your first day of preschool. I know you are excited, and so am I. Before you go, let’s just review a couple of things.

No hitting, grabbing, pinching, biting, scratching, pushing, hair-pulling, or use of toys or everyday objects as weapons. Be good, OK, Root Beer?

Remember that snacks are for eating, drinks are for drinking, and markers and paint go on the paper only. Preschool is neither your chemistry lab nor your personal tattoo parlor, got it, Peanut Butter?

These teachers and other kids are your friends. Friendship is an intense thing for you. These friends don’t know yet to brace themselves when presented with a Vibble hug, so be gentle, my little Chicken Nugget.

I know you will be a dynamo as a preschooler, just like you are a dynamo in every single other way. Dad and I love you so crazy much. Have a wonderful first day!


Three in Waikiki

June 24th, 2011

It’s the end of the second day of our little family getaway in Honolulu. We are having THE most lovely time. Violet has embraced the spirit of Aloha to a nearly embarrassing degree. She is super friendly with people in the ocean, warning them to “Watch out! Watch out!” when a wave is coming. In the “hot pool” at the hotel, she insisted a woman in a yellow bikini top was her friend. When I asked what her friend’s name was, she announced, “Banana!”

She has twice now picked up the hotel room phone and pretended to call our friend David, once to let him know we got in and once just now to fill him in on our day today. This recap included only the very most important highlights, like how she saw a Hello Kitty towel in a store window (“and she’s so cute!”), and that she peed in the bed, “Ok? Bye bye!”

Ah, vacation with a rookie potty user in a hotel with awesome housekeeping staff. MAHALO and then some.

Yes, Dear

May 31st, 2011

Violet has been calling me/us “Dear.” Not as a pet-name, but as a name. Like this: “Dear? Dear? Where are you?” Since we never call each other “Dear,” we were stumped as to where it was coming from. Then, the other day, I sat down to watch The Jetsons with her.

I don’t typically sit down to watch TV with Vibble—if I have the time to sit down with her, we can turn off the TV and do something together, is how it is for me. I try to reserve her allotted TV-time-per-day for when I need to multi-task. So I’m usually in and out of the room, in orbit with laundry baskets and stacks of junk mail. She watches Apple TV, so there are no ads, and I was under the impression I didn’t need to monitor what she was watching if it was something familiarly innocuous. Like The Jetsons.

Violet loves The Jetsons. She always has a current favorite show, and right now this one is it. (Past favorites that have been the constant request include Beep-Beep [Road Runner], Hey-Hey [Fat Albert], and Madeline.) Recently, she went through a Smurfs phase, and this was my first encounter with something that contradicted that “no need to monitor, fairly innocuous” assumption. Flashback to the 80s. The Smurfs are BIZARRE. Fine. Smurfette is the only female and originates as a black-hearted temptress. Not so fine.

The origin of Smurfette is that there are no female Smurfs until Gargamel invents an evil Smurfette to short-circuit the horny blue creatures, who oblige by turning into utter morons in her presence. Of course, it all works out, and Papa Smurf eventually turns the bad (black-haired) Smurfette into a “real” (blond-haired) Smurfette, and everyone except Gargamel lives smurfily ever after. A nod to original sin, perhaps. OK message for my daughter in her formative years? Um … “So, you see, Violet, girls can’t help how sexy they are, but it’s still EVIL.”

Do I sound like a feminist who paid too much attention in grad school, or what? Yes, I let my daughter eat things she drops on the floor in extremely unsanitary public places, but no, I will not let her walk away from The Smurfs thinking she comes equipped with wickedness standard just because she is a girl.

Perhaps you feel I am overreacting. Will Violet really internalize messages I’m only picking up with my own keen analysis skills? And that’s what I love about America in 2011, everyone: Parenting is really a fun tray full of principles we each get to pick from the buffet. I’ll take two servings of critical thinking and only a very light helping of concern for germs (I will, however, continue to appreciate the fact we live in a place where hand sanitizers, baby wipes and antibiotics are plentifully available).

Back to The Jetsons … It turns out George and Jane call each other “Dear” a lot. One mystery solved. It also turns out Jane and all of her friends are portrayed as lazy, vain ditzes who drive terribly, have no concept of finances and are overwhelmed by the burdens of domesticity. Jane’s mother, and any other woman older than 40, is the standard fat, nosy and materialistic. Judy, the skinny teenage daughter, is always claiming to be on a diet.

To be fair, George is portrayed as lazy as well. He is also a grandly poor performer at his job and is a bumbling idiot when it comes to relations with his family. Because isn’t that just how men are?

This brings us to Elroy, the most well-adjusted cast member, and the only one about whom I have no complaints (Astro clearly has issues, so it’s truly just Elroy I can point out as an example of balance). And that’s simply not enough. I don’t have a good plan for how I’m going to do it, but I’m going to wean her off of The Jetsons. I like Yo Gabba Gabba a lot, and there’s a YGG Live show coming to town, so maybe I can get her back into that again (it’s one of the few shows that has persisted as a backup request option for her, even after her initial crush on it smoldered). She does love that “Chrit-mus” episode, where everyone makes presents for their friends, and Muno pretends to be a holiday tree. See how nice those messages are? That’s several loads of laundry I can fold knowing my daughter isn’t handing over a lobe of her brain to patriarchal values.

Things I Shouldn’t Have to Say/Explain

May 25th, 2011


No matter how much you try to teach the snake to say, “Mama,” he’s never going to do it, I’m sorry.


Dumping an entire potted patio plant into your kiddie pool brings Mommy dangerously close to a nervous breakdown, so please—please—don’t do that again.

Sense of Humor Milestone

May 24th, 2011

You know that old joke where some character on a TV show accidentally gets something stuck over their head—like, in this case, a cooking pot—and then goes, “Hey! Who turned out the lights?!”

That just happened, and Violet guffawed for three minutes straight. It was THE funniest thing she had ever seen! “Mama! Look! [HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!]”

I’m still looking for the line in the Baby Book for “Laughs at Who-Turned-Out-The-Lights joke.” It feels like a significant milestone. It’s got to be here somewhere …

Sugar High

May 18th, 2011

If someone had told me how much fun it is to bake things from mixes-in-a-box with a three-year-old, I would surely have majored in Cooking-with-Three-Year-Olds in college.

Violet did all of the adding of ingredients, kept an eye on the baking cupcakes, and helped to frost them. And of course, she has been helping to eat them! In fact, it turns out she and I should never, ever, EVER be left alone with a bunch of cupcakes unsupervised. I think I might throw up, and we haven’t taught Violet yet how to hold back Mommy’s hair while she barfs up Funfetti cupcakes, so that’s just going to be a disaster.

Seriously, can someone please come be in charge of us?

Photos here

The Flood is Coming

May 15th, 2011

It appears to be Violet’s ambition to cover the entire surface of the Earth in root beer. I thought you might want to prepare. It’s going to be a sticky planet.

I’ll wear a dress!

April 29th, 2011

It’s morning here, and Violet is in her PJs top, having taken off her bottoms and diaper at some point in the night. I just told her that Greta will be coming over later, and she ran to go upstairs, declaring excitedly, “Ok! I’ll wear a dress!”

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