My Seven-Month-Old Ate Dirt... (and other true confessions)

My seven-month-old son ate dirt TWICE this week.
Really, he did.

We have some plants on our balcony, which adjoins both our living room and kitchen, so it's a very easily-accessible place. Anyway. Two times this past week, I found him in the process of eating dirt. The first time, with dirt all over his hands, face, and in his mouth. The second time, he had just gotten to the pot. He's getting into all kinds of things these days, as the picture attests (he was chewing on cardboard in that particular moment)... which is fun (to see him hauling his cute little self around the whole apartment) and forces me to be on my toes.

My two-year-old is coloring on EVERYTHING.
She colored on the wall twice this week. One time, she took a crimson crayon and drew one big long line across our hardwood floor in the living room. Thankfully, it's lacquered, and we have a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

My four-year-old is going through a talk-back phase.
A sample conversation:
  • Me: "Darlin, it's time for you to put away up your ____ now."
  • Baxter: "But I don't want to."
  • Me: "I said, 'it's time to put them away'. Yes, ma'am?"
  • Baxter: "No, ma'am. Of course I won't."
Because of conversations like this, that poor child is getting some major training sessions from mom and dad. Slowly but surely, he's coming around. But we've been dealing with this for a couple weeks now, off and on.

My six-year-old, it pains me to say it, has started rolling his eyes.
And boy, does it drive me crazy! We're working on it, too, but we are hitting new things with him all the time. Poor guy; he's the guinea pig for all of our parenting successes and foibles.


WHY AM I SHARING ALL OF THIS?
To give you freedom and to help you give yourself grace!
And to give you hard, cold EVIDENCE that no one has it all together. I don't ever want it to appear like everything is always grand, the children always obey, my crawling babies never get into things they shouldn't, or whatever.

My aim here at Making Home is NOT to get you to imitate me. Although, sometimes, that's an appealing thought-- imitation is flattery, right?-- and we all like to be admired and thought well of. But, more than that, I want you to imitate Christ, and not get caught up in the game of comparisons that chokes out the joy from so many young women in the throes of motherhood.

So hopefully, for those of you who think a mom of four younguns must be either saintly or totally out of her mind, this is a little sneak peak/real picture of motherhood. It's not always easy... and it doesn't always run smoothly or perfectly. Your crawler may get more germs than you'd like, and you may need a Magic Eraser. You may need every amount of self-restraint you can muster to NOT yell, "don't you roll your eyes at ME, Mister."

But... it is worth it. Talking about whether or not there will be chicken teriyaki in Heaven. Hearing a four-year-old recite (with a slight, endearing lisp) Psalm 121. The day-in, day-out discipleship and the sweet cuddling... little people who walk over to you and give you big hugs for no reason... oh, it is SO worth it. And I don't want to lose sight of the eternal significance of having loved and trained up four people to love Jesus and serve others.

But it's not all perfect. And I don't ever want to seem like we are. So there it is. My seven-month-old ate dirt. TWICE. And how was your week? :-)

49 comments:

Shannon said...

Thanks for your honesty, Jess. Asha took off her diaper and pooped on the bath mat just a few minutes ago, and Shanti told me earlier this week that she tried to obey but couldn't. But I wouldn't trade them for the world - all they have taught me and all that I am trying to teach them about our awesome God. You are right - it is SO worth it!

Sharon said...

Thanks for the encouragement. Just what I needed at the beginning of a new week.
~ Sharon from Equip Academy

Gina said...

Oh, but you see when my infant eats dirt, which is more often than I care to confess, it is actually likely that it is not just dirt, but some manner of manure from our animals. Doesn't that make me feel like a good mom!!! But, of course, even when I have to scoop a rabbit pellet out of her mouth, she's still as sweet as can be and I'm blessed beyond measure to have her!

Kim said...

Hey Jess, just a thought - do you give Baxter a warning before transitions? I know that he needs to obey you when he is told to obey, but sometimes kids have a really hard time with transition, and they do better at obedience when they are given a "In five minutes, we have to put your blocks away," warning. Like I said, just a thought. It is something we do in our classroom a lot (or that I TRY to do...I am such a poor model!).

That said, a kid in my class chewed on a door. But to his credit, it was my fault. He has no concept that he was doing it. I should have been keeping better tabs on his "wait by the door" activities!

Love you friend!

darci said...

teehee..oh my word, my baby must think dirt is chocolate..she LOVES it. Isn't it so true, as soon as you have a 'handle' on one stage or one issue, up pops a NEW one! My oldest is now eight, and I'm finding it much harder to parent as they get older, having to be even more relational in how I deal with things.
You're so right, Jess. ONLY Christ! Not only can we NOT 'keep up' with each other by sheer willpower-only thru the Holy Spirit can I have a hope of raising these kids to love Him and live without a ton of mom-supplied baggage!-but relationships b/n women are supposed to be encouraging, not competitive. :) I have to say I have certainly never gotten the impression you are trying to say you have it all together..I have, however, been very encouraged and motivated and uplifted and challenged by your posts! I wouldn't want to sit on your couch and have hot choc and visit if I thought you were "one of those" perfect moms, lol! :) Have a great day.

Sanders said...

Hahaha! I love you Shannon! I love you Jess! Ethni fell down (becuase she was jumping in the bath tub) and almost bit her tongue off this past week. I sure am grateful for friends who are also imperfect! BTW, other than a slight lisp from a swollen tongue Ethni's fine. :o)

Life throws you surprises! said...

Dealing with the same with mine 8,4,3,1. It is so nice to know that I am not alone in this process and other moms have to handle the same things. I have faith with proper training that they will come around too.

Anonymous said...

At my Bible study this last Tuesday, other women were sharing things about what their kids do or have done. This is the first time that I've been around women that have been so transparent. My son has autism and sometimes I/we feel so alone b/c of what we go through as parents that noone else does. It was refreshing to hear that others have problems and aren't always just building up their kids to be these perfect beings. My family hasn't been very supportive of us. In fact, my mom has made several mentions of her having 5 normal kids and that we have 2 not so normal kids. While it's hurtful and I just die each time I hear it, I do remind myself that the Lord blessed US with these two boys and that HE doesn't make mistakes. Parenting isn't an easy job. I just wish others were more apt to share than judge.

Jess, I enjoy your blog. I can relate to so much of what you say b/c we've gone through many of the same things.

Laura said...

Hilarious!! It's not just helpful and encouraging for us, it's good for you too -- to be able to laugh at your kids' quirks. And girrrrlll, the eye-rolling thing really cranks my gears. I have a couple of students who do the same thing. Time for some remedial Scripture memorization!!

Nichola said...

All of my kids have eaten dirt. And many other unmentionables.:-)
I guess one of my favorite mishaps was when my son, then about 10 months, woke up one morning when I was preggo w/ his sister and battling morning sickness. He slid off my bed, (he had been having a morning snack.), and crawled out of the bedroom. I was more than half asleep, and felt just yuck. I knew that he had gotten down and headed out. I kept thinking that I needed to go see what he was doing. When I heard him talking/starting to fuss in the bathroom, I pulled myself out of the bed. I wish I had taken the camera. My little man had just pulled himself into a sitting position on the toilet, or rather in it. The lid and seat was up. He has simply crawled in and turned around and sat down like he has seen the rest of us do. But he still had his pj's on and as I reached him, he looked like he just didn't know what to do next. I felt awful, but it was sooo funny. I almost ran and got the camera, but then mommy mode took over and I just pulled him out. :-) I am just thankful that he was such a coordinated little guy. That could have been a dangerous situation. The mercy of the Lord was with us!
BTW, thanks for the encouragement that we are not all perfect, but should all be striving to be more and more like Christ. Blessings!
Nichola

Janel M. said...

Yum... yah, I've had that kind of week too. It's different for us since my youngest about the age of your oldest, but that just leaves me with different challenges. (Lovely! not.)

I've got one who wants to be the parent and parent ME too, one who doesn't want to do schoolwork, one who can't sit long enough to focus on schoolwork and one who just wants everyone to nice and isn't always so nice about getting their request across. e'hem. Yah. So there with ya.

{{hugs}} We'll get through it.

Polly said...

I had to scrub (unsuccessfully) food coloring off of my 17 month old after he, playing sweetly and quietly at my feet while I baked, got into a bag of food coloring without me knowing it. Even though I was RIGHT THERE.

So I went to my garden club meeting with blue fingers!

naomi said...

this post helps me remember not to have unrealistic expectations for my son! thanks for all you share!

Brenda said...

Oh I need posts like this. Thank you.

Exactly why I started the Keepin' It Real thingy...b/c we need to realize EVERYONE has something!

As for the dirt? It's called "building his immunity."

Kris said...

My 2yo and yours must be kindred spirits. She writes on EVERYTHING as well...and Magic Erasers are our best friend!

Of course, she also licks everything. WEIRD child. God likes variety, apparently!

Sue said...

Oh yea? Well one of my kids used to swallow pebbles. Top that!

Just kidding. We moms do get competitive sometimes, don't we? At the same time we often feel like everyone else must have it more together.

Your post brought tears to my eyes, because lately I really feel how quickly all of those trying baby and toddler days pass right on by. Thank God for our little blessings!

maria said...

"No, ma'am. Of course I won't."

At least he's polite!

BTW, Jess, I'm thinking about corporeal punishment (ie spanking) and alking to different moms about their views & experiences. Have you blogged about this? What do you think?

Laura said...

One day when my baby was about 10 or so months old, I checked on him while he was supposed to be napping and lo and behold, he had taken off his diaper. His dirty diaper. And all this lovely brown stuff was smeared ALL OVER the crib, himself, his hair. Just everywhere. For all I know, he could have eaten it too before I got in there.

Or the time when he was two months old, sitting on the diningroom table in his infant chair and bucked himself out onto the floor. That was my worst mommy moment ever. I cried buckets over that.

My older boy has peed on the carpet countless times. Pooped in the bathtub. STILL poops his pants at 3.5 years of age. Um, what else? Talks back to us (where did he learn it?) and has such a ME attitude that I do not for the life of me know how we are going to weed it out of him.

So yeah, it's sure nice to know that other mommies and kiddies have bad moments too. It makes me feel less alone. :)

Jennifer F. said...

What a lovely breath of fresh air! Thanks for the honesty.

My one-year-old has been into the cat food so many times lately that it's becoming a significant part of her diet; my two-year-old is, well, acting like a two-year-old, and my four-year-old is also in a major talk-back phase!

It's so comforting to remember that other moms out there go through things like this, too. Thank you!

flyinjuju said...

Thank you soooo much!!!

LLMajer said...

Thank you, thank you, Jess. I really needed this one. I had a similar post this week.

Sarah Rose said...

I've just recently started reading your blog, and I've been so encouraged by much that you have written. But I have to say, this post has encouraged me most of all.

I'm currently adjusting to the addition of our newest little one, and the days can be trying and long. It's sometimes difficult to give myself some grace and to remember that HE is in control. Thank you so much for your transparency!

Christine said...

May God bless you for this transparent post, Jess! I am totally with you!

Serena said...

This week my daughter got a chunk of candy stuck in her hair. I didn't bathe her or even just wash her hair that night. Yes, I just let it stay there until the next day. Charming, no?

Serena said...

Oh, and I have quite a few crayon and marker marks all over my house. If we ever try to sell, we'll HAVE to repaint.

Rebekah said...

I have played the game of comparisons so many times in my life, and as you said, it truly steals joy from the heart. Thanks for the reminder that no one has it perfect! :)

Jess said...

Maria said:
"No, ma'am. Of course I won't."

At least he's polite!


That's one of the things that absolutely cracked Doug & I up. He doesn't realize how funny his "refusal" sounds. :) Sometimes it's really hard not to burst out laughing when our kids are being ornery.


BTW, Jess, I'm thinking about corporeal punishment (ie spanking) and alking to different moms about their views & experiences. Have you blogged about this? What do you think?

I haven't blogged about it, that I can remember. But I think the Bible is very, very clear about it. It's not "p.c.", and many modern moms think it's not clear, but I believe God's Word speaks very plainly about it.

Feel free to e-mail me about it (that invitation is extended to anyone) if you want a more frank discussion about it (thoughts, how-tos, why-tos, etc.). makinghome@pobox.com It's a controversial thing and right now I'm not prepared to have a public discussion about it. Perhaps at some future point, but right now, I am quite willing to discuss it in real life or via e-mail, but not so much (for now) in this public forum.

Thanks,
Jess

Anonymous said...

My fifteen-year old won't study for tests and is getting F's because of it.

My 19-month old has been sat in front of the TV too often lately in order to give me time to focus on homeschooling the 15-year old.

My 6-month old decided she was not only going to crawl, but pull herself up to standing and has hit her head on every conceivable piece of furniture and the floor more times than I can count.

Big hugs from another Mommy trying her best to be there for her kiddos and hating to admit that she is all-too-frustratingly human. :)

Jen

Gina@Chats With An "Old Lady" said...

We will not be held accountable, as parents, for what our kids do...we will be held accountable for how we direct them when they do what they do! They WILL "do stuff"...and it is our responsibility to point them in the right/biblical direction and correct them accordingly. Our kids aren't perfect any more than we are perfect. But we have been given the big job of training them.

Several years ago my husband and I were teaching a class of little children. One of the girls was very disruptive and disrespectful. Whenever I would correct her, she would roll her eyes! I ended up bringing it to the attention of her mom, who proceded to make excuses for her daughter..."she's A.D.D." Her daughter ended up not wanting to come to class because she didn't like me. Her mother never corrected her behavior and wasn't used to being corrected, so she didn't like me. Well...that young girl is now a teenager. She is still the same way. In the middle of church she just gets up and leaves. She wanders around outside. She doesn't pay attention. she hangs all over her boyfriend...and she is still not being corrected. They are still making excuses for her.

We don't laugh at bad behavior or make excuses. We are supposed to be in constant "training mode", and constant "praying mode". It's the long, hard haul...but that is what we will be held accountable for!

Best Life said...

From an older mom...dirt eating is no big deal. But the eye rolling can be a big deal. My unsolicited advice is to remember that children need to remember that rolling the eyes is exactly the same as saying, "You're wrong Mom and I'm right." It is disrespectful and should be addressed as a serious issue. It's sighing, whining, complaining, arguing....silently. Doing any of these things would result in Bible memorization, removal of enjoyable activities and probably spankings. Why does a six year old think he knows better than his parents? Just my two cents.

Cat said...

Oh, yours sound just like mine! Except I m/c the one that would be six so mine are 8, 4, 2, and 10 months. Thanks for being honest.

scarp said...

Hi Jess - I realized that I have made a habit of always checking your blog and would like to add you to my blogroll, if thats ok. You can check me out, so to speak, at sanetransitions.blogspot.com

-Sheila

Anonymous said...

Eating dirt isn't so bad! Sure, you wouldn't set out to give your baby dirt, but some people think we keep our houses too clean, and that's why our modern western kids have so many more allergies. I've read that farm kids rarely have allergies.

I second Kim's suggestion on transitions. We call it "closing out play." As in, you can play with that one more time before we clean up, or you can choose three more songs before it's time to get in the car, or we can play one more card game before it's time to get ready for bed. Those warnings can be really good for preventing tantrums/meltdowns. (Though four-year-olds seem to inevitably go through a talking back phase.)

Laurie B

Jess said...

Yeah, this isn't a transition issue; it's an attitude issue. We do give more than adequate heads up about things when warrented.

Thanks for the advice though.

Mrs. Jo said...

Great Post! Thanks for being real in a blogging world where all too many moms seem like the perfect, gentle Christian mamas with angelic little ones. I have pen markings on the wall, a sinkful of dirty dishes, and 3 very demanding little ones 3 and under. Tonight afforded me two shocking things. One, I was holding my 3-month old and standing near the stove and he kicked his bare little foot out and touched it to a hot pan briefly. It's not red or blistered or anything but he screamed like crazy and I felt HORRIBLE! Two, my 3 year old just out of the blue said to me, "If you don't give me more corn for supper I'm going to scream at you!" As if that would work!
Even though some days are tough, I love being a mom!
Thanks for your wonderful vulnerability.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the futility of comparing yourself to others, here are some words of wisdom I read once:

"Your child does not compare you to other mothers. To your child, you are the best mother."

Laurie B

*~Tamara~* said...

I'm having a good little giggle at Baxter. He just sounds so innocently matter-of-fact. Of course he is. Ha! ;-)

You know my daughter, the one with the curly hair, the big blue eyes, the ever so girly-girl? When she was a little over a year old, we found her with a cricket in her mouth. OK, that's not quite true. We found her with half a cricket in her mouth. She'd already eaten the other half.

We still remind her of this. She won't share a drink with her dad or brothers, but she ate half a cricket she wasn't even related to.

Tanya said...

Great post Jess!

I have recently had to deal with marker on the wall, rocks and chocolate chips up the nose, rice all over the floor, a canning jar smashed on tile floor.....and that was just my 2 year old.

My 5 year old just demanded that I carry him to the bathroom because he was just too tired.

If my 8 year old gets really upset with my decision about something, she will cry and throw herself on her bed in a very dramatic fashion.


And then I think about all the grief I caused my mom.....

Laura said...

"half a cricket she wasn't even related to"

My new favorite quote!

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Great post, Jess. It is so important that as we read these blogs we do so with the proper perspective. It makes all the differences. We can receive encouragement such as you have provided here, but given that all of our families are different, have various needs, schedules, and temperments, it is certainly unwise to compare our lives to what a blogger chooses to reveal about her life. Besides, don't we all usually put our best foot forward when company stops by?

Kelly said...

Thanks Jess, great honest post. Kids are kids, they aren't perfect and they aren't adults. (And I guess adults aren't perfect either LOL)
My three year old has been in a bossy phase off and on for nearly 6 months. I think it's some side effect of starting to master language. But if I hear "Mommy get my _____ now." I'm going to scream back. ;-)

Brazen Hussey's said...

As a mom of six, I so often feel like people have this view that I must be extra special to "manage" this many kids.

The truth is that I am so not special, far from it in fact. My kids have eaten dirt, one even his own poop at 9 months. And there have been far worse things, far uglier things that they have experienced with their sinful mom then a little dirt in the mouth.

I just posted last night about the way people view me as a mom compared to the reality of who I actually am. I am thankful that my children's hearts are held much more carefully by His hands, then my own feeble ones. Here is a link to my post if I am allowed to do that: http://brazenhusseys.blogspot.com/2008/11/not-she-but-he.html

Thanks Jess!


~Tasha

Carletta said...

"No, ma'am. Of course I won't."

I love it! What a respectful little rebel you have! :)

My 1 year old has single handedly destroyed our carpet. Guess who hasn't been getting his share of tomato staking, lol!

Britt said...

I used to eat Rollie Pollie Bugs or some like to call Potato Bugs. I was 1-2 years old and would flick them so they'd turn into a little ball, pick them up, all the while my mom trying to dig them out of my mouth. I don't know which is worse...bugs or dirt???

Psalm 121...Lilli has just learned 121:2!! She LOVES memorizing Scripture...she'll say, "Okay, which one can I do next?!" It makes my heart just sing! But she's also the kid who has started making faces behind my back if she doesn't get her way...grr...lol.

Mary said...

Lately my four year old has been saying "No Fanks! (thanks)" when we tell him to do something. It's been very frustrating! My two year old has a problem hitting or spitting when we tell him not to do something. Sometimes I really feel like I've already failed miserably. I know these stages will pass as long as we take care of them, but it's taking quite a while to accomplish.

Lauren said...

Jess,
Can you tell me what you do to tech/discipline the 4 year old with his back-talking? My three year old has been doing this for several weeks (maybe months at this point) now, and I have NO IDEA what the consequences should be. I try to instruct him, but he is so stubborn and nothing has seemed to get through to him. Can you help???
Thank you!
Lauren

Jess said...

Lauren,
For starters, I stop him every time he says anything, call him over to me, look him in the eye, and let him know, "you don't talk to mommy like that. yes ma'am?" and I'd expect to hear, "yes ma'am." Then, I'd remind him that he's to obey his mommy the first time. Then repeat the request/instruction whatever... and expect an affirmative response.

If this doesn't happen, or if portions break down (for example, the non-cheerful response... or running away when you tell him to come), then it's time for training sessions. Everything else gets put aside. Eat oatmeal for lunch. Toys can be put away. Etc. But focus in on teaching the right responses, one at a time if need be.

Spend lots and LOTS of time together-- I really take issue with the "send em to the time-out-seat/room/place-to-stew" method. Often, it only exacerbates the problem. A good source for how to deal with this and train is the Raising Godly Tomatoes website. Elizabeth is a very wise woman and subscribes to the parenting style I would say I most closely follow. Close, careful attention by parents-- training and teaching along the way.

Check it out.

But, essentially, I'd train, step-by-step until he responds appropriately. If that meant losing toys for the morning until he responded appropriately (obediently, willingly, and cheerfully), that's what it would be. If it meant that he needed to help me with a particular job/chore while he worked on changing his attitude from defiance to respect, then that's what we'd do.

We'd train as we go... which is what Baxter's been getting these last couple of weeks or so. And he's definitely all but stopped-- but it occasionally creeps in. Particularly when he's tired... sometimes I have to help him change his attitude by giving him rest during the day.

Anyhow, I've rambled... but there's the "gist" of how we would deal with back talk.

No tolerance of it... and train, train, train, until it's gone.
~Jess

liz said...

Love your blog. My 1yo just the other day had a nice piece of semi-mashed banana in her mouth... that she had already digested once.

Allison said...

As a mom with now only teenagers, I am loving this post and what some of you younger moms are putting here with quotes and such from your littles. When you are having one of those "my kid ate dirt twice" weeks just remember that this will soon be distant memories that you will enjoy and no longer feel badly about. There will come a day, in a quick future, where these things will be humble reminders of how good our God is and what a blessing these babies are that He graces our lives with temporarily with their presence and that He trusts us with His most precious belongings, even when they are eating bugs and dirt and rolling their little rebellious eyes. :-)