Bug,  crazy stuff,  Life Lessons

I’m becoming a pretty good liar these days.


As you know, Bug is a wacky kid. I told you about the sandwiches already. Now she won’t eat bananas because she had a bad dream about eating a banana that was her friend. According to Bug, all bananas have faces now. If I even think of offering her one as a snack, her bottom lip quivers. It’s getting bad.

I’ve taken to peeling and slicing them in secret and then sneaking them into her peanut butter sandwiches. So far sliced bananas seem to be okay. Who knows though. Tomorrow she could swear off carrots or broccoli.

This is a regular four-year-old thing, right?

Bug also gets attached to things. Silly things like leaves, flowers, sticks and rocks, old princess band-aids and candy wrappers that are pink. She has a large collection of dried monkey puzzle branches that looks like a nest of rat tails growing on our patio.

Bug and her rat tails monkey puzzle branches

That’s what these things are right? I have no idea.

Every time we go on a certain walk, where these lay scattered on the ground, she must carry at least one home. That’s the same walk where she must walk on the clover with bare feet or all hell will break lose. But that’s another story along the lines of: if you do anything twice with Bug it becomes a routine and therefore must never be veered from until death. I hear this is also normal with four-year-olds.

But sometimes I just have to be the mom and say, no. I can only put up with bits of dried leaves and sticks in her car seat and old yucky band-aids squirreled away in my purse for so long. So I’ve taken to inventing crazy fantastical stories for why we have to leave things behind or, gasp, throw them away. I tried tough love, I’ve tried explaining the logic until I turn blue in the face and it just doesn’t work. I’m tired of the hour-long meltdowns of tears. Bug is not a logical child.

Now we leave the rocks and leaves and flowers behind for the fairies. The princess bandages are going into the trash so that the elves at the dump can use them to build a giant castle for all the toys that have been discarded. The eucalyptus blossoms that blew off the top of the car sunroof are going to be gathered by fairies and made into hats. When her temporary-tattoo monster washes off her hand (pictured at top and below), we’re saying that it’s fading away and going to its monster-land in the sky. You should see the wistful look she gets looking up, imagining them flouncing around in the puffy clouds.

mommy eats baby

It beats the tears, I’ll tell you that much. Now if I can just think up a good story for all those bananas that have faces on them…


  • Pictou

    An old camera to take pictures instead of bringing it home? Or designate a small box where she can keep her treasures with the understanding that she has to set something free when it gets too full.

  • Cc

    The if you want it you have to carry it no matte what worked well when I was there.

    Shiloh is the first star the girls see at night. So no matter where we are Shiloh is there.

  • nikkapotamus

    There’s a great and funny song by Raffi called Bananaphone. I’m not sure if it will help in any such way with eating bananas with faces, but it’s silly.

    I love the treasure box idea and setting them free when it gets full. It sounds like Bug would like that idea. Good luck!

  • mamalang

    Oh yes, I hear you. The 11 year old is a pack rat extreme…if she writes on a piece of paper we must keep it. I had to give her a set place for things and when it gets full, it has to be emptied some before anything else goes in. And the rule is always if you want it, you need to carry it, and find a place for it. If you leave it in the car, the kitchen counter, the living room floor, it’s trash.

    But that doesn’t always help the melt downs. Eventually, they do get more logical about these things.

  • bethany actually

    I’ve started telling Annalie sometimes, when she wants to buy toys at the store, that she can get what she wants but before she can play with it she has to get rid of 20 things at home–toys, doll outfits, whatever–and 9 times out of 10 she decides she doesn’t need the new toy after all. Maybe if you told Bug for every new flower/bandaid/stick she wants to keep, she has to get rid of five old ones?

    Though your method seems to be working well for now. Maybe you shouldn’t even try to fix what ain’t broke.

    What’s funny is that I was reading this and imagining my 4-year-old self’s reaction to those stories. I would have been giving you the hairy eyeball and explaining that fairies and elves and monsters were imaginary, that they couldn’t be making hats out of flowers or building castles out of grody old bandages at the stinky dump. I was such a logical and pragmatic child. You should’ve seen how much I had to bite my tongue every year to NOT tell my friends that Santa was imaginary!

  • Madge

    Clarabelle used to be the same way with saving things. It was really frustrating but eventually it just stopped. I don’t remember how or when. I do remember never letting her keep wrappers or bandaids, or things like that. It just kind of skeeved me and I told her there were too many germs, that is was trash and needed to be thrown away. I just pictured all those hoarders surrounded by trash and it bothered me.

    Hopefully your stories will continue doing the trick. Where is the face on the bananas?

  • Ashley

    Whenever I have issues with my 3 year old eating something she normally likes (this does not work when she hates a food, not at all, but if she likes it but is having a food-i-tude) I tell her that her tummy is throwing a party and the food that she needs to eat has been invited. And we all know how rude it is when people don’t go to a party and how sad she is when someone doesn’t come to her party so the food had better get the lead out and get into her gut. So far it’s worked every time!

  • Lisa

    Oh my goodness. That is hilarious. I have a four year old, and I thought it was only us that fears doing something more than twice because it will turn into a tradition NEVER to be BROKEN.

    Cracks me up. I am going to have to borrow some of these stories.

  • gingermog

    Have you suggested that Bug leaves things behind for the Borrowers? They are little creatures like humans who live in tiny places and use things humans leave behind ( 1950’s books by Mary Norton). Ok I could be opening up a can of worms here). A more modern equivalent are the Wombles who live on Wimbledon Common and re-use ( recycle) the stuff ordinary folks leave behind.

    Here are some links I’m not sure if these lovely animations got to America or not. This is a theme tune for the 1970’s version in the 90’s a new series was made with international characters.


    While I’m here here’s a link to Padding Bear animation I used to watch as a child


  • gingermog

    P.s I like your inventions though. Monsterland sounds cool and would explain some of the weird cloud formations you see in the sky sometimes.

    I believe in elves who runaway with only one pair of your socks. Or maybe that’s my cat.

  • KA

    A recent disagreement with my mum ended with me asking her: ‘…and just where are those fairies you promised me were at the bottom of the garden, you daft woman?’ (she’d have me searching for hours when I was about three – free, easy activity, I guess), to which she replied: ‘you just haven’t found them yet’. I’m 31. Still half looking.

  • cath

    In Australia we grew up with books about gum nut babies. Have you ever seen these? The illustrations are beautiful, and the stories wonderful. Whilst it’s not fairies wearing gum blossom hats, it’s pretty close.

    Also, when my two girls were young I suffered terribly under a mountain of artworks and collections, as they were both very creative and fantasy minded. My solution was to get a ‘remembery box’ which they then could choose to fill with whatever they wanted. If it didn’t fit in the ‘remembery box’ we couldn’t keep it. An old suitcase was perfect for this – and it also didn’t look out of place under an old wardrobe.

    This year, when my eldest turned 23, I arrived at lunch with the remembery box and we proceeded to pull it apart and go over all the rememberys. It was a lovely way to remember all the fun we had.

  • Kuky

    Yeah Isabelle does that. She loves keeping the tins from those egg custard dim sum things. But she plays with so much and makes such big messes that I just lie and toss them and tell her it’s in her room somewhere.

  • Kuky

    Oh I forgot to add, gingermog’s comment made me think of the littles tv show. did you watch that when you were younger? It’s on hulu. Isabelle watched it a bit.

  • bethany actually

    Ha! I admit I’ve done Kuky’s trick of tossing something and then, if asked about it later, just airily saying, “Oh, it’s around here somewhere…” Though actually, considering the dozens of crappy fast-food toys and probably hundreds of old drawings I’ve thrown away, Annalie has only asked me a handful of times if I’d seen one specific thing. And then she forgets and moves on. And that is not likely to happen with Bug, at least not at this point in her life. :-)

  • Angela

    Delurking to comment…I love reading about you and your daughter, your love and devotion to her comes shining through so clearly, as well as your love of all that is whimsical and magical. Bug has a wonderful and magical imagination, but I definitely understand your frustration, my son (who is now 9) used to love to collect every stick where ever we would go. We had a huge pile on our front lawn. It was not a good day, when my husband accidentally put the sticks with all the leaves that got taken away to be composted and mulched.

  • a chris

    Oh, the things we have to look forward to in a couple of years. I am making note of the suggestions from those who’ve been through it already…

    I read this before but came back here to comment for the heck of it because it’s linked from PW’s blogher sidebar. High-magnum publicity!

  • Mrs. Wilson

    I don’t think it’s lying so much as it’s being incredibly creative. My three-and-a-half-year-old does not understand logic AT ALL either and I find myself frantically searching for reasons for her that will make sense as to why she can’t do things.

    Those tattoos are great!!

  • Kerry

    Maybe they’re not real bananas, but treats dressed up in banana costumes because the bananas are tricky and are good at escaping being eaten.

  • simply heidi

    My daughter could not eat anything cute from ages 5-8. No sweetly iced cookies, no character cupcakes, not even a gingerbread man. The choclate bunny in her Easter basket was a tradjedy. She wanted to eat it but she just. couldn’t.
    Once I cut her sandwich with a heart cookie cutter and said, “Look at your cute little sandwich.” She burst into tears, “I can’t eat it now. You said it was little and it makes me sad to eat it.”
    We had to ban the words cute and little from our food vocabulary. When I promised not to say them anymore she looked at me through her tears and said, “I’m not all that crazy about baby carrots either.”
    Thankfully it was just a stage.
    A long, terrible stage…
    Good luck with Bug.

  • BeachMama

    My kids don’t believe my stories, and sadly we need to do a purge. Even more sad is I am waiting for J to go back to school so he won’t see me throwing out his fluff collection, branch collection, broken toys from fast food places. My hope is that if he doesn’t see them go out he may forget all about them. I will however take a picture of said collections so if need be we can make a scrapbook and have just that a book instead of a corner in his bedroom stock piled so high.

    And the food issues?! I have no idea my kids are so picky it is unbelievable.

  • Amy Taylor-Brill

    I remember hearing the director of my super progressive preschool once say “Four-year-olds are all about controlling their parents.” It hurt me to hear that, and in fact I was disappointed in her for saying it. But sadly, when my twins turned four, I saw evidence of it being true. Same sweet way that Bug shows it now. Just be patient, and indulge where you can, but slowly work in ways of saying goodbye to things she has the need to control. It is a phase, but it doesn’t have to spell the wave of the future.