Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Zoe vs. Personal Space

The Husband stands in the kitchen in his underwear, scarfing down his dinner. He is sweating. He's not hot; he's afraid. Sweat pours down his face profusely as he hears quick little footsteps. "Daddy?" And then she's in the kitchen, her quarry cornered.
"Daddy. I want . . . I want . . . I want . . . I want. Something."
She always does. And you better figure out what before she does and have it in your hand. 
The Husband is wrapped around our three-year-old's finger. I'd laugh but that's a luxury I can't afford. She has nine other fingers after all. If I forget she reminds me by poking, prodding, and pinching.
Clearly, Zoe does not respect personal space.
I am a person who enjoys her personal space. Please do not touch should be emblazoned on my forehead. The subway at rush hour is close to unbearable, the human proximity inescapable. My worst nightmare? A cuddle party. (It's a real thing.)

This shouldn't happen. Ever. Anywhere.

But back to Zoe and her problem with boundaries.
Admittedly I started it by allowing her to gestate inside my actual body for 42 weeks. This came to an end with a forcible eviction, i.e., an induction, which didn't work, followed by a 36-hour labor, including back labor, because, naturally, she wasn't going to make this easy by facing the right way (even then her intentions were clear), then an eventual C-section because the cord was wrapped around her neck (I envision her reaching out for it and wrapping it around her neck herself, something along the lines of making a last stand). And, voila, she entered the world in her natural state, resistance, kicking and screaming the whole way.
Breast-feeding didn't help matters. I can't speak for other women but I found it next to impossible to maintain professional distance while feeding someone via one of my body parts. 
So I suppose it's my own fault that Zoe's takeaway from all this was that there'd be lots of contact.

Just, ick.

The way she "shares" a bed has already been covered. When she gets up she likes to cuddle. Only to Zoe, cuddling is an extreme sport. The Husband is over six feet tall and yet he is crammed into a corner of the couch. I'm in the other corner. The center of the couch is not used. Zoe likes to smush. Smushing is love. When she needs to shift positions or reach for her juice, we can count on an elbow in our stomachs.
If she becomes enraptured by a TV show, the Husband tries to sneak away to the computer, but before he can Google "how to stop a toddler from . . ." she's tugging on his arm or clawing her way onto his lap, reaching out to break the keyboard, mouse, Daddy's spirit.
Earlier I mentioned I might be tempted to laugh when she's turned her laser-like focus on the Husband, but there's another reason I try to keep my mouth firmly shut. If I don't she might shove her tongue down my throat. See, Zoe likes to make out. And it's not just limited to forceful pressing of the lips. She likes to French. She also likes garlic. (Note to self for a future blog post: Zoe vs. Dental Hygiene.)
She also has no concept of the Inside Voice. Whether she's expressing joy or sorrow, two things are paramount: she must be loud and her mouth must be millimeters from my ear. I told her once to speak calmly. Her response was to yell: "COM-LEE!"
Privacy in the bathroom is, of course, a nonstarter. She won't get near the potty herself but if Mommy or Daddy needs Alone Time she doesn't get why we can't have Alone Time with her. Considerately, she even offers to wipe.
Owing to her handsy-ness, the last thing I do when getting ready for work in the morning is dress myself. Too many things can happen if Zoe's not completely ready first. Ideally, she'll even be buckled into the stroller. But the other morning I was on my own and in my panic rushing around made the mistake of getting dressed first and then it was like dodging a moving minefield while at the same time having to dress the mines and arrange their hair into ponytails.
As I struggled to get her socks and shoes on I wasted a lot of time and psychic energy avoiding the chocolate granola bar in her hands that she'd claimed to want for what I assumed were eating purposes but apparently she just wanted it for holding purposes and for pretending it was Big Jet from Little Einsteins. (Note that Big Jet is the nemesis of our hero, Rocket, who communicates with the Little Einsteins via charming bell-like sounds, so I am a tad disturbed that she identifies with the villain.)

Big Jet demonstrates what happens to those
who violate minimum safe distance protocols.

Next, as I lovingly restrained her so I could brush her hair (notice it is only when Mommy needs to touch her, e.g., diapering, bathing, dressing, hair-brushing, that Zoe's desire for personal space kicks in) I also had to avoid the snot hanging just inside the opening of her right nostril, fluttering gently in and out as she breathed. That done I stood wondering where I'd put my coffee mug so I could guzzle the rest of my coffee down and turned back just in time to avoid getting doused with it as Zoe helpfully offered it to me, sloshing it on the rug instead.
By the time I get her in the stroller and we head out the door I'm feeling like a winner. Until I get to work and a co-worker points out the brownish stain on my shirt.
In the bathroom trying to clean it off I can see I'm working with a base layer of chocolate granola bar, set with apple juice---and possibly the yogurt she'd had me open only to have one bite---topped off with the piece de resistance, aka, the piece of mucus. (I'd wondered where it had gotten to since her nasal passages had looked clear when I'd dropped her off at daycare.) I should've taken a photo. Then I could finally create a board on Pinterest, something all the kids are doing. I'd call it "Zoe's Found Art." Next time, probably tomorrow.

Pin it or wash it?

Stay tuned for next week's post, "Zoe vs. Mommy, the Physical Assault" where Zoe's Personal Space issues get personal-er.
Zoe: 15; Universe: 0


  1. HA HA HA!! My little one is VERY touchy-feely! And I am totally "this is my dance space and this is your dance space", so you can imagine how well this works for me! ;)-Ashley

  2. LOL, love that you call it dance space! That's great. Course when my husband and I dance she yells, Stop it!

  3. Smushing is love. My dog also got this memo, apparently.

    1. Haha. I hope your dog's not too big. My in-laws had a bull mastiff that liked to lean on you to show her love, knocking us over. Sweet-natured dog but still made me nervous since she was taller than me.

  4. That's great she offers to wipe! (sorta) My child wants nothing to do with wiping his own hiney, let alone mine!