Toddler vs. Preschooler Lorelei

As Lorelei Belle, the baby of my babies, matures, I’m finding that her personality is leveling a bit. Don’t get me wrong—the child is still spirited, obnoxiously persistent, extreme in her joy and ire, generous with her love and disgust, and stuffed with personality. But she is tempering a bit. Becoming easier to live with.

Oh, she’s still Lorelei. But she’s creeping up on 4 years old, which is actually a pretty awesome age.

For poops and giggles, I decided to compare Toddler Lorelei and Preschooler Lorelei.

Situation: Breakfast

Toddler Lorelei
“What do you want for breakfast?"

“I want Life. Wait, no, oatmeal squares! In a purple bowl.”

I pour oatmeal squares into a purple bowl.

Upon its receipt, Toddler Lorelei screams, “I SAID LIFE CEREAL! I DON’T WANT OATMEAL SQUARES!”

I’ve already added milk, so I dump the cereal into a different, non-purple bowl and resign myself to eating it while pouring Life cereal into the purple bowl.


I sigh. Then, just to gauge how serious she is about green, I ask, “Do you mean you want a white grown-up bowl?”

She screams that OF COURSE, that is PRECISELY what she wants. Then, because her mother is so dimwitted and the process of selecting cereal and bowls has been so tiresome, she’s not going to eat anything.

She sobs and then runs off to watch TV.

Ten minutes later, I toss her soggy cereal into the sink.

With suddenly dog-like hearing, she pops up from behind the couch. She screams that she DOES want breakfast. And we start all over.

Preschooler Lorelei
What cereal does she want? I gesture grandly to the pantry, so she can see her choices.

“Ummmmmm. Ummmmm. Blue cereal.”

“We don’t have blue cereal. We have Cheerios, purple cereal (aka multigrain Cheerios in a purple box), Raisin Bran, and Life.”

“I want blue cereal.”

“We don’t have blue cereal.”

“But I want blue cereal.”

“Lorelei, these are your choices. Pick. I need to get ready for work.”

 She comes to examine the pantry. “Ummmmmm. Blue cereal?”


 “Can I have vitamins now?”

 I sigh impatiently and grab them. “Fine.” I hand two vitamin gummies to her.

 “I don’t want orange and yellow. I want red and yellow.”

 I take the offending gummies back and revise her order. “Here.”

 She examines them in her hand. “I want alligators. These aren’t alligators.”

Again, I revise her vitamin order. “Here. Now, what cereal?”

“Um, purple cereal.”

“Great.” I grab the cereal and begin to pour.

“No, actually, I want Cheerios.”

I grit my teeth. “Okay.” I prepare her cereal and put it on the table.

 She sits in a different chair. “No, I’m sitting HERE, Mama.”

 I remove her placemat and slide the one with the bowl in front of her. “All good?”

“I want milk."

I get down a cup.

“In a princess cup.”

I put the pink cup away and get down a princess cup.

“Not THAT princess cup.”

I offer her each cup in the cupboard, only to learn that the one she wants is in the dishwasher.

“I’m sorry, sweetie. That one isn’t clean. Let’s use this one.” Without waiting for her acquiescence, I fill it with milk.

Preschooler Lorelei bursts into tears and buries her face in her hands, sobbing and wailing that she doesn’t want breakfast at all now.

At least now I know not to toss her soggy cereal in the sink before she changes her mind again.

Situation: Going to Bed

Toddler Lorelei
See Toddler Lorelei’s first blog post, Lorelei's Take. In short, gets out of bed one thousand times. Eventually, I hold the door shut. She cries herself to sleep while I contemplate slitting my wrists and the dog moans in empathy for her little person.

Preschooler Lorelei
“Goodnight, Lorelei,” I say, shutting her door.

Chris and I settled in downstairs, excited about the possibility of squeezing in a whole episode of something before hitting the sack ourselves. Then, the sound of little footsteps.


“I have to go potty!” she declares, totally lying.

 “Okay. Go. And then straight back to bed. Got it?"

 In a sing-song voice: “Okay!”

 We hear the sound of drawers and cupboards opening and closing. “Lorelei? Go pee!”

 “I am!” she calls back.

 A bit too much time passes and nary a flush is heard.

I investigate. The bathroom floor littered with little-girl accessories and hair doodads, and Lorelei looks up guiltily. Without taking her eyes from me, she stands and slowly lowers her undies. “See?” she says, like I’m a moron. “I’m going potty.”

And because it will delay bedtime for approximately three more seconds, she actually opts to wipe AND wash her hands.

“GOODNIGHT, LORELEI,” I say as she climbs into bed again. I try not to throttle her.


I sigh. “What?”

“I need you to cover me.”

I pull her covers up.

“Goodnight, Lorelei.”



“Huggy? Kissy?”

“We’ve already done all this,” I say. But then I go back to her and re-hug and re-kiss her, because what sort of mother denies her child hugs and kisses?

Finally, I shut the door.

Chris and I get into an episode of something. Life appears to be good.

And then . . .

The horrifying sound of little bare feet coming in behind us.

“Damn it,” Chris mutters. He pauses the show. “What do you need, Lorelei?”

She comes around the couch, the slyest little grin on her face that she’s trying—and failing—to hide. “I need to tell you something,” she says.

“What do you need to tell us?” Chris asks this, because if I open my mouth, I'll say horrible things that will make me look really bad when Lorelei is in therapy in 30 years.

She climbs onto the couch between us and takes my face in both of her hands. Looking deep into my eyes, knowing she has won, she gives me a gentle kiss. On the lips. Then she goes and dotes on Chris.

The child is a freaking genius.

Situation: Getting Into the Car

Toddler Lorelei
“Lorelei, get into your car seat. Get into your car seat. Lorelei. Get. Into. Your. Car. Seat. LORELEI! Get into your seat get into your seat get into your seat. No, into YOUR seat. Not Charlotte’s seat. YOUR seat. Get into your—no, do NOT climb into the front! Get into your freaking seat!”

Charlotte, clad in coat and backpack, asks fearfully, “Mommy, am I going to miss the bus?”

“Let’s just not dillydally,” I answer evasively. “Lorelei, that’s one. . . . two . . . do I need to put you in your seat?”

“No! I do it myself!”

“THEN DO IT!” I shout.

“Mama, you’re being mean to me!”

Instead of gently responding with something good-motherly, like “No, darling. My frustrated tone is the natural consequence of your choice in behavior. I have feelings, just like you, and I am expressing them” . . .  I respond with, “Of COURSE I’m being mean. You’re NOT LISTENING!”

She bursts into tears. “I want to listen! Don’t be mad!”

Feeling like total shit, I finally switch into good-mother  (or at least decent-mother) mode. “I’m not mad,” I say calmly, lying like Hilary (whom I’m still going to vote for). “I’m sorry I yelled. I’m frustrated.”

Finally, she gets buckled in.

Wait a second . . .

“Lorelei, did you have an accident?”

She looks at me. And grins. “It’s okay, Mama. It’s just an accident.”

I try not to cry. I unbuckle my child, take her into the house to change, and inform Charlotte that she will indeed miss the bus.

Preschooler Lorelei
ALL OF THE ABOVE, up until she’s buckled into her car seat.

It is at this point that she hits me with “I have to go potty!”

I groan. “Now? Can you hold it until Charlotte gets on the bus? And we get to preschool?”

She looks at me seriously. “No.”

I try not to cry. I unbuckle my child and shoo her into the house to go pee. She gets on the toilet. I watch, tapping my toe, and secretly think, “EARN IT, kiddo. There better be SO much pee.”

Then she grunts a little and looks up at me with a coy smirk. “Actually, I need to poop.”

“Then poop,” I say crisply, checking the time and cringing.

 “It’s not coming.”

“Okay, let’s try later. Come on, let’s go.”

“No,” Lorelei says, as though I’m slow to understand. “It’s coming, but it’s not coming YET.”

I go to the garage to get my coffee out of the car to reheat and inform Charlotte that I’m sorry. We’re going to miss the bus.

There’s no tidy way to transition from Toddler/Preschooler Lorelei to the bookish things, so let’s just dive in. Charlotte (and I) finally finished Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Maybe I was just tired, but I actually got choked up when Ramona was super sick and she felt all relieved when she realized her mommy was taking care of her, getting someone to cover for her at her job as a receptionist. And then at the end, when all the Quimbys are eating dinner and acknowledge that they may get “cross” with each other, but hey, they stick together. . . . yeah. Just so you know, it’s a little hard to read aloud when your throat gets all emotionally clogged.

I read and finished Deanna Raybourn’s A Spear of Summer Grass, set in Kenya in the 1920s. The book had a lot of problems that were valiantly glossed over with smooth writing. In short, the novel was a romance trying to be more than a romance. It didn’t work. I liked the character of Delilah, who was slutty and emotionally distanced from folks—except, of course, the native Africans for whom she could serve as their white savior. See some of the novel’s problems? The love interest is weird. He’s also emotionally closed off. So WHY does he fall in love with her, and WHY does she fall in love with him? Raybourn’s usual trick is the coolly distant, you-can’t-get-him dude who—inexplicably—falls for the heroine and will risk life and limb and fortune. Riiiiiiight. I guess that’s the typical formula for romances. Which is why I detest them. I like Raybourn’s mysteries and will continue to read them, but no more of these novels where she branches out.

I’m still plugging away at Libba Bray’s The Diviners, also set in the 1920s. I only have about 100 pages to go, but the book is soooo massive and heavy and huge that I refused to haul it with me to Seattle. (Oh, right. I’m in Seattle right now. Did I mention that? More on my gorgeous nephew later.) I really like the novel and lordy, Bray is a genius with dialogue. She’s worth STUDYING for dialogue.

Finally, another book I left behind but have been plugging away at is Heaven’s Face Thinly Veiled, which is a collection of women’s writings on “spirituality.” Fortunately, spirituality is broadly approached with oodles of angles and religions wrapped into one book. Many of the writings, poems, etc. are quite good, and others MIGHT be good but utterly lack context. The organization is tenuous, and no section introductions or ANYTHING introduce the writings. What’s worse, each excerpt’s author  listing (and where it was reprinted from, if available) comes at the END of the piece. Which means that if you want any context (i.e., who the hell wrote the dang thing) at all for what you’re about to read, you have to flip ahead, see the byline, come back ,and then start reading. For hundreds of pages. Kind of dumb. So, while there are some gems, there’s better stuff out there in this vein, I’m sure. Also, I was a little miffed that there was nothing from Kathleen Norris included.


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