Thursday, March 24, 2011

What a Handful!

It has occurred to me that my little man is really a monster prankster.  I have said this before, but now it is really starting to dawn on me just how true it is.  He just never ceases to surprise me with his phenomenal sense of humor.  I mean, he sets me up for a joke all the time.  This is more than him screaming in my face to wake me up and trying to run me over with his Choo choo train.  His pranks are getting more and more complicated.  It is getting to the point where I don’t necessarily see them coming anymore.  How sad is it that I am getting duped by a toddler?

Let me tell you how I woke up from our ritual morning nap today.  Like usual he crawled up in my face and screamed, “Hey Da!!”  But, when I feigned surprise and jumped awake the little monster pretended to be asleep and act like nothing happened.  The only thing that gave him away was the fact that he was giggling maniacally with his eyes closed.  I couldn’t believe it!  How in earth is my baby boy coming up with this stuff?

Well, as it turns out I pretend to be asleep quite often at night when I want the little mighty mite to be asleep as well.  So, that would explain why he would pretend to be asleep, and it just makes sense to combine the pretending to be asleep with the daily scaring me awake together.  I guess what really amazes me is that my baby boy is always coming up with new jokes to play on me.  Recently, he has been pretending to be thirsty and when I try to give him some water he squeaks out a no and laughs at me as he runs away.  His other newest joke is to start dancing and beckon me to join him, but when I do join him he will sit down and smirk evilly at me.  But, his newest and most alarming prank he pulls is the one where he waits until my back is turned and he drops something that sounds like he has fallen.  When I hurry over to see if he is alright he is always laughing with such pride!   Yesterday, he pulled that prank on me a number of times, and each time I had to go and make sure he was alright.  The worst part of it is that I can’t reason with him and tell him that eventually I am going to stop believing him.  I mean how do give a one year old the whole “the boy who cried wolf” talk?

The answer to that is you can’t, and you can’t really yell at a one year old either.  Well, maybe you can, but I can’t.  Actually, I am quite thrilled that he seems to have such a strong sense of humor.  I just wish that I wasn’t the butt of all his jokes.  On second thought, I don’t mind all that much.  About the only thing that I really wish I had was a way to watch him while letting him be independent simultaneously.  Don’t get me wrong it isn't like I am ignoring him or anything.  I am always in the same room with him, but I don’t like the feeling that I am always on top of him.  I feel like I am constantly saying, “Oh no, don’t put that in your mouth!” or saying, “What are you doing?!”  I guess what I am really trying to say is that it is a little overwhelming at times keeping up with my little monster.  What a handful! 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Making Hot Sauce With my Baby Boy.

For at least a few hours of every day I encourage the little man to create something or do something creative or imaginative with me.  Usually, we either build with his blocks, draw on some paper, dance, act out the stories of his favorite books, or we play with his train set and make new set ups.  The possibilities are virtually endless.  There is always something that we can do.  Today the little mighty mite chose cooking as the daily activity. 

I knew that he really wanted to cook something today because he kept running to the pots and pulling them out and then he would run and grab some cans out of the cupboard.  Without realizing it, he ended up compiling most of the necessary ingredients I use to make a low salt/salt free hot sauce it all depends on how you like it. 

Anyway, I noticed that he had my last six Poblana Chiles, a can of diced tomatoes, lime juice, my crushed red pepper, and he managed to grab an onion from somewhere.  After looking at all this, I asked, “Are you trying to tell me that you would like to cook something with me today?”  His reply was a shrieking laugh, which I understood as a yes.  So, I grabbed the last of my cherished Habaneros and a 7 or 8 cloves of garlic.

Now it was time for the hard part of our cooking experiment.   We had to somehow prepare his ingredients and mine without letting him get hurt.  I decided that he wasn’t allowed to handle the peppers at all because they were too hot for a one year old to touch.  I was afraid that he would rub his eyes or something.  He was also banned from using the knives for obvious reasons and the stove.  Well, to include him I ended up striping the little man down to his knickers.  Then I pulled out a huge mixing bowl and threw in the olive oil, lime juice, tomatoes, and sautéed onions and garlic once they had cooled.  Then I placed the bowl on the floor and told him that I needed help mixing it all together if he wanted to help.  Of course, he wanted to help.  He started to immediately splash around and mix the ingredients.  Luckily the bowl was just big enough that he didn’t make a huge mess or anything, and as he did that I charred the peppers.

After that was all done, I asked the little man to go a grab me two pots, one for the un-peppered sauce and one for the hot sauce.  Well, he ended up bringing me all the pots and pans that we own.  It was quite cute really.   Well, I ladled out about a cup of the liquid into one pot and the rest went into the other.  At this point, I added the scorched peppers to the one pot and started cooking down the mixture, letting the little man carefully stir both pots once every 2 minutes.  Once both mixtures were cooked down and cooled I let him watch as I poured his sauce into the blender.  Then I asked him to push the button on the blender, which was a mistake because our blender was too loud and scared him.  He ended up watching me blend his sauce from a safe distance in the next room.  Then I poured his sauce into a bowl while I blended and canned the hot sauce. 

It was at this point that the little mighty mite started getting really excited.  He just couldn’t wait to try his creation, and neither could I.  I had originally meant to make some fish and rice to put the sauce on for him, but that didn’t happen.  I let him taste a bit of the sauce on some white bread and that was the end of it.  There was going to be no more waiting.  So, for his second breakfast my baby had bread with his very own red sauce.  I had meant to save some for his lunch, but he ended up eating it all at that one sitting.  I couldn’t believe it! 

You know, the entire time that the little man and I were cooking and playing in the kitchen I couldn’t think of a time when I ever had more fun.  And you know what?  The sauce we made was probably the best tasting sauce that I had ever had a part in making!  But, what made the whole experience most satisfying was seeing how proud my baby boy was afterwards.  His little eyes were sparkling while he giggled and smiled, eating his very first culinary creation.  It’s times like that that make me eager to see what the next day will bring.  I can’t wait for our next cooking adventure!         

Friday, March 18, 2011

Parenting: The Game You Can't Afford to Lose!

I have learned something very important in the last few days, and that is that Sesame Street is truly addictive.  My son and I were watching it, and I actually caught myself watching it and paying attention to it too.  That's crazy!  

Normally, when we have the television on it is pretty much background noise because the little man can’t sit still all that long, but with Sesame St. it was different.  He actually got mad at me when I tried to play with him, which of course made me worry that he was becoming a couch tater, so I turned off the T.V.  Boy what a tantrum that caused!

The little man was acting like I killed his puppy or something.  There were toys flying around, tiny baby fists smacking the ground, and what I can only assume was a toddler's version of a verbal assault that would shame the devil!  

It was adorable!  

Unfortunately, I had to put a stop to it because I have seen what baby tantrums turn into as the kid gets older.  

You know, this was the first time that had I actually said anything sternly to my little mighty mite.  All I said was, “Calm down.”   I didn’t yell it out or even really raise my voice at all.  I just said it in a way that meant, "I mean it this time."  Well, as soon as the words came out of my mouth he just sort of  looked at me like I was a trader, but it did the trick, and it broke my heart at the same time.  

He calmed down.  I felt awful.

It wasn't like that was the first time I have ever reprimanded him, but it was the first time that I had really meant it, and he could hear it in my voice.  Before, when he has been naughty I usually smirk and laughingly tell him to cut it out and he would stop, but this tantrum was different.  This time he wasn’t stopping with a few laughs, a smile, and a hug.  He was in it for the long haul.  He was pissed and he meant business!  

What was I supposed to do?  I couldn’t let him out maneuver me.  If he won this battle, it would set me up for a losing streak I don’t know how many years long.  It was another one of those "Nut up or Shut up" moments.  I knew what had to be done.  I had to stop this cycle of behavior before it began  no matter how much it hurt me to do so because  I am not about to let my baby be a tantrum throwing little brat like so many of those other jerky kids that I often see in the grocery stores and restaurants around here.  I had to nip this in the bud, and I had to do it quick like.

What few parents tell other first time parents or anyone for that matter is that sometimes being a parent is a lot like being in an extremely long chess match, and that is kind of fitting.  In both, chess and parenting, you have to be able to predict possible outcomes in order to be any good.  Now, I am a crappy chess player, and I am trying my hardest to be a decent daddy, so I am bound to make a lot of mistakes, but I am relatively certain that had I let the little man win this time as a result of his huge tantrum, I would have set the precedent for countless other tantrums and what not because he will know that tantrums work to get him what he wants.  

Well, that's not going to happen on my watch.  I have seen this happen before with a lot of other bratty kids, so, naturally, I am concerned that my kid would be no different if given the chance and I didn't do anything about it.  I had no choice.  I had to block the future tantrums and fights from happening.  I had to start teaching him that he cannot always get his way and have what he wants.  A stalemate wouldn't have been good enough here.  I needed a win.

Don’t get me wrong.  I am not really equating chess with parenting.  I fully understand that being a parent is so much more important!  I am still only grasping at how important it really is because I am not sure if I will ever be able to understand what's really at stake here.  So, what I am really saying is that in order to be a good parent, you have to strategize like in chess.  There has to be a definite game plan or you are going to fail miserably, and none of us want that.     

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

No, I Don't Know What the Hell I am Talking About, but do You?

 I got a simple e-mail the other day stating that I didn’t know what the hell I was talking about, to which my reply was, “Of course I don’t.   Why should I?” 

For real, why would I know anything more than anyone else about parenting?  It isn’t like the parenting books and magazines are all that helpful.  Sure, I get some pretty kickin’ recipes every once in a while, but, other than that, what good are they?  I get all the information I need from the Pediatrician’s off and that is the milestones and average ages when things like walking and talking start.  You want to know what the best part of getting most of my info from my son’s doctor’s office is?  It’s the fact that there they aren’t trying to sell me anything.  They just want the best for my baby.  Just like me.  The pediatrician doesn’t hand me articles about how to lose my love handles or how I can look good in a bathing suit by the time summer arrives.  No, I get handed a sheet of paper that explains milestones on my child’s growth and development.

I have never understood how all that other crap ends up in parenting magazines anyway.  I swear 75% of the articles are about making mothers try to look better, 10% of the magazine is filled with advertising to make mothers feel bad about themselves so they will buy whatever crap that is being sold, 5% of the magazines are about nifty quick meal or daycation ideas, and the last ten percent of the magazine will have actual content that has something to do with parenting.  That last 10% could contain anything from behavioral advice to eyewitness accounts of poor parenting practices.  It is a total crapshoot, and sometimes you lose big time.  I am always wondering before I open the magazine whether or not it will be a total waste of time, but I always read them anyway.  What can I say?  I’m a gambler!

So, there you have it.  Of the entire magazine there may be 15% of it that might offer some actual “useful” information.  Now, if I never read any parenting books, which I have largely given up on, I would say that there really is no reason that I would know anything about parenting at all.   But, the real question is, “What do you know that I don’t?”  For real, I would like to know.  I always like to hear advice or receive anecdotal wisdom from other parents because I always assume that I am doing something wrong when it comes to rearing my baby boy.  I also assume that I could gain some vital knowledge and foresight from other as well.  Unfortunately, that rarely if ever happens.

It is just so confusing whether I am supposed to only use positive reinforcement to illicit the behaviors I want from him or should I tell him no and actively correct the behaviors I don’t want from him.  Which method is better?  What about getting my little man to eat healthy foods?  How do I do that?  Well, I have read that some people just don’t offer them anything else, while others say cut up fruits and vegetables and throw them into the foods that the kid does like?  Which way works better? 


I have so many other questions with so many more answers that nothing seems to make sense anymore.

Well, after I thought about it for a second or two, I believe that the answer to these questions vary from family to family.  I don’t care what the childcare professionals say.  There is no way that one method of child rearing will work on every single kid.  That notion is just ridiculous!  Unfortunately, parenting is just one of those things that we have to figure out on our own.  Sure, we’ll get help from other people, but by no means do we have to take everyone’s advice and incorporate it into our lives.  That would be impossible.  Especially since most of the advice we, as parents, receive is contradictory from previous advice we have received.  In fact, the best advice I have ever gotten from anybody was this. 

There is no sure fire way to raise your kid.  Just love them, feed them, cloth them, take care of their needs, and you will do just fine.  The rest will come to you.  Don’t be afraid to make a mistake once in a while. 

So, no, I don’t really know what I am talking about as a parent, but I am relatively certain that no one else really does either.  All I know is that I love my son tremendously and that I am trying my damndest to do everything I can for him.  I know full well that I am going to screw up every so often, but that doesn’t mean I am going to be a bad dad.  It just means that I am going to make a mistake here and there.   Be honest with yourself.  Can you do any better?    

Monday, March 14, 2011

This Era's Over and Letting him Fall so He Can Get Back Up Again.

Well, it is the end of an era.  My baby boy is growing up so fast, and it is making me so sad and happy all at once.  All weekend he has been counting to three and chattering.  He is getting so big!  We even got rid of his crib that he never used and ordered a trundle bed for him.  I can't wait to build it and watch him climb all over it, but never sleep in it.  It's funny how things work out, but that is all part of life and growing up.

Dealing with the growth of my little man is a lot harder than I ever expected it would be.  Sure, I have over heard other parents say how tough it is to watch their kids grow up, but I never imagined that I would feel like that too.  Don’t get me wrong.  I am thrilled that he is always doing something new and progressing the way he should be.  But, at the same time, I don’t really want him to.  I want him to stay my little boy forever.  I guess, in a way, he will be my little boy forever, but I would much rather he be sized like it too.  He is just so cute right now!  It will all be different when he is too big to want to be hugged and cuddled all the time. Then, before I even know what is happening he will be out on his own and causing all sorts of trouble for himself and the world.

Speaking of trouble, I am having a hard time even imagining of all the trouble he is going to get himself into as he ages and grows.  I have heard that two year olds are supposedly terrible, but other than that what am I supposed to expect?  How are one year olds supposed to act?  What about 2-10 year olds?  There are just too many questions, and, seemingly, no answers because everybody is different.  So, that means I will never know what to expect until it happens.

All I know is that the little man is already climbing all over everything and jumping off of whatever he can.  It scares the crap out of me!  I have been told that it serves me right because I was a little pisser too, but I have also been told that it is going to get worse before it gets better.  I am sure that is correct too.  Hopefully, he doesn't maim himself too badly ever, but i am pretty positive it is just a matter of time before he does because as my little man grows and gets bigger and bigger he is going to be able to physically do more and more things.  Yes, he can climb up onto the couch now and jump off, but that is going to be fluff in comparison to what I can only guess is to come.  Part of me is scared stiff about it, but not all of me.  I worry that he is going to hurt himself, but I am quite happy thinking of him having a thousand little adventures all on his own.  In that aspect, it is going to be so neat for me to watch him grow and learn.

You know, I have read that letting your little one have his/her own experiences, both failures and successes, is vital to their developmental growth.  Of course, it is hard for us parents to see our kids fail at anything, but sometimes we have to let them for their own good.  I wholly believe this even though it is going to make me feel like crap when it happens.  I mean, sure we could try and protect our children from everything and anything, but in the end it won’t matter, and most likely all that would accomplish is them resenting us.  There are many things that we, as parents, need to step back and let our kids find out for themselves, yet be there for support when they do.  We all screw things up every once in a while, and sometimes things just don’t work out.  When they don’t we can’t just fall apart can we?  No, we have to move on; keep going; keep living.  It’s our job as parents to show our children how to do this.

As painful as it is going to be for me, I am just going to have to let my little man fall every once in a while so he can learn to get back up.  It’s all part of growing up.  I know it sucks, but that’s just how it is.         

Friday, March 11, 2011

What I Stole From My Dad. It's his Birthday You Know?

Well, it is my dad’s birthday today.  So, I am going to write a little bit about the miserable old fart today.  Here it goes. Happy one millionth birthday dad!  I hope you stick around for a million more.

I am sure that I am not the only parent to wonder about how much like my parents I am going to be, but there are times that it worries me that I am going to sound like my mom or dad.  That would be freaky wouldn't it?  It would mean that they were right all those times and that I am getting old.  I vowed to myself when I was 16 that I would never see the world the way that they do, but in that I have failed miserably.  I remember back in highschool hearing my mom and dad say a number of times, "You wait until you have kids of your own.  Then you'll see."  I always shrugged that off.  I was always so sure of myself, and, now, I realize how full of crap I really was. 

Now, everything is different.  I have a little life experience under my belt, and my eyes seem to see things that I never knew were out there to see before.  I am actually trying to think back of all those little talks with my parents, and I am horrified to realize that there was some real wisdom there, but I can't remember much of it now because I never really paid much attention to them then.  At 16 I thought I knew it all already.  What a dumbass!

Lately, I have been focusing on remembering all the crap that my dad spouted at me through my teenage years particularly.  I know that I am not all that different from any other parent in that I always seem to compare myself to my dad, and I am sure you try to compare yourself to either your mom or dad too.  It just seems natural to do that.  It isn't that I don't respect my mother.  It's because my dad's a guy and so am I.  It just makes sense.  

Anyway, I am not sure if I am all that different from other parents, but, if you are like me, you probably either nix or steal techniques that your parents used on you as you grew up.  For instance, I stole from my dad, and use repeatedly, a saying that I swear he repeated to us two hundred million times throughout my entire life, in fact i think I heard him say it last week.  But, I changed his saying a little bit.  Ok, I changed it alot, but the meaning is the same just the words are different.  He used to say, “You either have to shit or get off the pot.”  Well, I say, “It’s time to nut up or shut up.”  They may seem like two totally different phrases, but if you sit and think about it they really do mean virtually the same thing.  You either act on something or you don't.  If something needs to be done or a decision needs to be made there is no sense in putting it off.  Just do it.  Get it over with.  Sure, you can sit and whine about it or mull it over for days, but that will never change anything.  It's always best to get whatever needs to be done over with.

Ok, so I didn’t really take one of my dad’s favorite sayings and adapt it to my needs.  I adopted his mindset that I find particularly valuable, and I try really hard to live by it every day of my life.  For example, we had a snow storm the other day, and I didn't want to shovel out.  But, it needed to be done at some point, so I opted to do it right away.  I am glad that I did because it made it so much easier for when the plow went up the road and plowed me in again.  You know, there is some real merit to the “git’r done” attitude, and that mindset isn't just for rednecks and white trash.  It's for everyone.  Why procrastinate?  It doesn’t do you any good, and you can only put things off for so long before whatever it is you are putting off becomes a real problem.  My dad's "shit or get off the pot" mindset isn't the only thing that I stole from him.  I have also taken some of his life lessons and incorporated them into my life as a parent.  I hope that my son passes them along to his children as well.  

You know, perhaps the most important lesson that me my dad taught me occurred when I was about 13 or 14.  Like most, if not all, of our heart to heart, father son chats this one happened in the car.   I remember that I was not happy about something and dad was pissed off at me again.  Then after a few minutes of my silent pouting my dad turned to me and said, “You know it isn't my job to be your friend.  It is my job to mold you into a decent person, and I would like nothing more than for you to become a better man than me.”  Now, I am not sure if I am using the exact wording, but I am fairly certain that it is close.  

Regardless of the accuracy of the wording, ever since that day I have tried to become what my dad wished of me.  I say that I am still trying because I don’t want to fail, but I am not sure that I can succeed either.  It wasn’t until recently that I realized that I was thinking about it all wrong too.  

You see, I thought of it as some kind of goal that I had to reach or achieve, but it never was.  Well, at least it isn't a goal that I think anyone could reach anyway.  I mean how odd would it be to all of a sudden become a decent person?  What do you do then?  How would you know when it happened, and even if you did know the hard part would be to maintain being that way.  It isn’t exactly something you can stop because then you wouldn't be a good person any more.  For some reason, this is extremely confusing to me.  Thanks for screwing with my mind dad I really appreciate it you crotchety old man!  

Anyway, I have determined that being a decent member of society requires maintenance.  So, no, it wasn’t ever meant to be a goal.  I believe my dad meant for that chat to spur me into making a life choice that I might not have made without it.  I chose to act on what I believed was right and to hell with what other people believed of me.  I chose to help out when and where I could when it was needed.  Most of all, I chose to try to be everything that I thought a good person should be.  So, far I haven't made the cut, but I am not going to stop trying.

Yes, I missed the importance of that heart to heart with my dad 15-16 years ago, but the lesson itself was never lost.  I thought about it a lot since then, and lately I think about it even more so because, since I became a daddy, I think that I can now fully understand how my dad felt then.  

I understand that I can’t always be my son’s buddy because, sometimes, I am going to have to be the “bad” guy, the disciplinarian.  But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to be his buddy forever.  I just have to recognize that being his parent is more important than being his friend sometimes.  I also would like nothing more than to see my baby boy grow up to be a better person than me too, and to see that happen means that I have to prod him into the right direction sometimes and show him the way just like my dad did for me even though I didn't realize it.  

Just because I have to be his dad first and foremost doesn’t mean that I can’t be his friend too.  It’s not because I don’t love him.  It’s because I do love him that I have to occasionally forget about being his buddy and tell him when he does something wrong and praise him when he does it right.  It is up to my wife and I to show him that there are things out in the world that deserves his attention and respect.  It is our job to help him become a decent and successful person, and, no, success isn't necessarily measured by wealth.  It is so much more than that.

You know, if I am lucky, I will be able to pass all these little but important lessons on to my son.  I just need to figure out how to teach them all to him.     

Happy birthday dad! 




Thursday, March 10, 2011

Toddler's are Crazy

Well, I have finally come to the realization that a 1 year old is more energetic and cunning then I could have ever imagined.  Yes, I have been warned multiple times about this very thing, but I guess I was naïve then and thought that I wouldn’t have such a problem.  After all, he is only a toddler right?  Wrong.  He is a maniac. 

I can’t say that I didn’t see this coming, but I can tell you that I didn’t imagine his maniacal tendencies would appear so soon.  Somehow this morning he figured out how to escape his pack and play and climb a lampstand to get on top of his changing table.  He has also figure out that jumping off the couch onto the blankets and pillows on the floor is great fun too.  Now I am scared to think about how he is going to hurt himself when I put the couch blankets and pillows back.  Will he try jumping off the couch on other things?  I hope not.

Thinking back, I really should have listened to all the warnings that people gave me about how much of a hell raiser he was going to be as a toddler.  I just didn’t fully understand all the trouble that toddlers could get themselves into.  Holy cow!  Are they all like this?  So far the only sure fire method to keep track of him is to tired him out until he falls asleep.  Then I do whatever I can until he wakes up in ten minutes and we exercise like crazy again and fall asleep again. 

Unfortunately, doing this means that I get tired too, so I fall asleep with him most of the time.  It also means that he is getting more endurance.  So, every day the amount of time he is able to wreak havoc get longer and longer.  It is getting to the point that I cannot really do anything, but make sure that he isn’t going to kill himself.  That is becoming quite a chore.  I can’t even fathom what type of antics he is going to be up to tomorrow let alone next week or month.  It seems like he gets crazier as he gets bigger and older.       

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Kids Are Gross!

For a while now I have surmised that the difference between dogs and young kids is minimal; they both need a heck of a lot of attention as youngsters; both dogs and humans display similar behaviors and reactions to stimuli; they both are extremely curious; but, most of all, both babies and dogs seem to want to put everything in their mouths.  So, you can see why I have always seemed to think that raising a baby would be a lot like raising a puppy.  But, even I didn’t know just how similar dogs and babies were until this morning.

As many of you parents know, it is important to baby proof your house because toddlers and babies love to get into everything that is dangerous.  Well, this morning I was working on upgrading some baby proofing while the little man was running around and having a good time.  It wasn’t long before I noticed this foul odor that just lingered and lingered.  This may sound horrible, but I was hoping that this stench would go away on its own because that would mean that the little man only farted and not left me a diaper demon to dispose of.  I really didn’t want to change another poopy diaper.  Yeah I know I was being lazy and horrible, but if you have kids you know just how bad these things can get. 

Anyway, the stench didn’t go away.  It was the real deal.  So, I got up, grabbed the little tyke and walked over to the changing table.  When I got the little man undressed, I quickly realized that this was the mother of all poopy diapers.  I swear this thing had to weigh about 2 pounds or so, which is a huge amount of poo to come out of a 22 lb baby.  So, I put on my hazard gear and got to work.  I am just kidding I don’t really have hazard gear for changing diapers, but I do have a routine that I follow.  To start with I always have three wipes at hand, the trash bin open, and the butt cream out and ready to go so I am not searching for all this stuff with a squirming poop covered baby.   Then I toss the diaper immediately and rush to wipe him down before he spreads his diaper demon all over the place because he squirms around so much.   

Well, I didn’t follow my usual poopy diaper routine this morning.  Like I said, I usually toss the diaper immediately upon removal of it from the baby.  However, this time I left it on the changing table at my baby’s feet.  Before I had a chance to realize my mistake the little man decided to reach down and grab a handful of his own foulness.  I was totally caught off guard.  Then I thought, “Great!!!  This is definitely going to require another bath!” Well, it was worse than that because before I knew it he had his poop covered fist wrist deep in his mouth.  Ok, not wrist deep, but you get the point. 

Never in a million years would I have thought that my darling little boy would put his own poop in his mouth.  How gross is that?  Really gross!  I couldn’t stop from retching on the poor little guy right then and there.  He was already crying because, I imagine, he couldn’t get that horrible taste out of his mouth and then to have your da puke on you.  It must have been traumatizing!  I know that it was traumatic for me.  I am probably going to have nightmares about this forever.  I mean who the heck has a kid that will eat his own poo anyway?  The only consolation is that I am sure he didn’t do it on purpose, but that doesn’t make it any less disgusting!  Needless to say, we both took a shower and brushed our teeth a hundred times.  Even thinking about it now makes me think I am going to get sicky on the laptop.  I don’t think that I will ever be able to look at a poopy diaper again.  From now on I am going to put potty training into hyperdrive, hoping to avoid another poo tasting incident.  Let’s get it done!

You know, this little episode just reaffirms my previous belief that people and canines aren’t really all that different.  I wish we were, but it simply isn’t so.  Now, I don’t just have a dog that eats poo, but I have a one year old son that does too.  Not awesome!  Ok, so the little man probably didn’t mean to eat his poo, but that doesn’t change the fact that he did.  Now, every time I hug or kiss my little mighty mite I am going to remember that he put poo in his mouth and then I am going to imagine that I can smell it on his breath.  I am scarred for life I tell you!  Now, I have to go and brush his teeth again.  

P.s.  As a quick side note.  I told my wife about what happened and she was more concerned that I retched on the poor little man than the fact that he put a handful of poo in his mouth.   

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Expectations, Expectations!

As part of my never ending quest to be a better daddy I have determined that it is time that my baby has chores to do.  I just think that he has been living for free for far too long.  He needs to earn his keep just like the rest of us.  

No, I don’t actually expect him to work.  I am really only kidding around.  I just think that it is high time that I starts allowing him to help me put his toys away when he is finished playing with them.  Eventually, we will add more jobs as he gets older, but for now I just think that it is important to have some minimal expectations of him to get him in the habit of having to do things he doesn’t necessarily want to do.  That, and why wouldn't I let him help if he wants to anyway? 

Speaking of expectations, I am aware that my little man is only a year old.  I also know that most people don’t expect anything from their toddlers, but I am also fully aware that most people do not have any expectations of their teenagers anymore either.  That just doesn’t seem right to me.  Therefore, I am going to start fighting this growing tendency in U.S. culture early.  This afternoon while I am picking up the toys before the wife comes home I am going to encourage the little man to help me even if it takes a lot longer. 

I am firmly convinced that allowing him to help out will be good for him and that he will enjoy it.  The time we spend picking up the toys will give us a little different bonding experience to enjoy and experiment with.  It will be like I am treating him like a big boy.  Plus, what 1 year old doesn’t like to help his/her parents.  It makes them feel important and encourages them to be a little more independent.  Is that such a bad thing?  

I think that I can make picking up with me fun too.  It could be turned into a wicked fun game.  How great would that be?  Imagine if I succeeded in making cleaning up as fun as making the mess in the first place.  It would be a phenomenal achievement; possibly my crowning glory of fatherhood!  But, more importantly, it would help me avoid all the tantrums and crying fits that I know 4,5 and 6 year olds have when they have to pick up after themselves.  Well, I shouldn’t say that all 4-6 year olds act like that, just the ones that I hang out with on a normal basis.  

What amazes me is that last week when I asked the little girl I babysit to clean up her bread crumbs after lunch she started crying while my little boy ran to get the broom.  My little mighty mite actually swept up her mess!  How cute is that?  Then I thought, “How ashamed would I be if a 1 year old cleaned up after my lunch mess?”  Apparently, at 6 years old little girls are incapable of being shamed or at least this little girl is.  

Her reaction to being asked to clean up after herself is the main reason that I am going to start asking my one year old to help clean up after himself too.  Like I said before, it isn’t like I really have to ask because right now he really enjoys helping us, and I don't really expect him to be that much of a help.  I just want him to get used to the idea of having expectations of him.  It's fine if he's a hindrance at this point.  I think that is really great that now he will grab the broom and sweep the kitchen off and on all day.  I love that he screams and dances when I vacuum and he helps me push it around. The little man even tries to re-stack his books after they fall down. 

All I have to do is keep encouraging him to help.  It doesn’t matter that it takes forever to actually pick anything up or clean anything.  That’s not the point.  The point is to get him to help out and not make it such a chore for him.  Later on, I will work on efficiency, but for now it is sufficient just to have him try.   

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Got Your Blinders On?

I imagine that the most difficult thing about being a parent is acknowledging the shortcomings of our children.  Let’s face it.  Nobody is perfect and your little darling and my little angel are not exceptions to that rule.  Sooner or later we are all going to have to face the fact that sometimes our kid is the problem.  I know that seems like it is impossible, but let’s get real here.   If you here from three different teachers or other parents that your kid is obnoxious or a trouble maker, than chances are it is true.  It isn’t that these people are out to get you or your kid.  They are just sick of dealing with your brat and as his/her parent it is your responsibility to do something about their behavior.  To do otherwise is to do them a disservice. 

For instance, I know of a kid that was horribly spoiled and never disciplined as he was growing up.  Whenever he got into trouble at school his parents always assumed that it was the teachers fault because their little darling could never do anything wrong.  So, for 17-18 years he was basically allowed to do whatever he wanted and he would get away with it.  His parents had absolutely no expectations of him, so he never learned to take responsibility for his actions.  He never did homework because his parents never made him, so he never graduated highschool.  He was a major bully and beat up other kids and nothing was done about it.  I honestly think his parents thought that was cute.   I don’t remember all the other things the jerky kid did, but I remember that he stole from my mom at one point.  Well, since he never learned his lesson as a youngster, he continued these behaviors as a young adult and eventually landed himself in jail.  I am certain that had this guy learned that there would be consequences for his actions that he could have made something of himself, but he didn’t. 

Sure, his case may be extreme, but it all could have been avoided because the warning signs were clearly there.  I remember hearing multiple people, including teachers and family members, telling this kids parents to do something, but like so many other parents they couldn’t believe that their son was the problem.  He was obviously provoked or something.  Bologna!  Your kid was a jerk because he was never forced to behave differently.  I am not saying that the parents are to blame for everything the kid did because he obviously made a conscious decision to act that way, but his parents could have held him accountable as a youngster for his poor behavior.  That might have helped.  I mean, after all they were warned by multiple people.

You know, it pains me to say this, but sometimes the teachers are right.  They certainly were in that kids case.  I mean even they can’t be wrong every time, so chances are if they are having a problem with your kid or see a problem with him/her then something needs to be done, and that something needs to be done by the parents that doesn’t involve them blaming the teacher.  For one thing, that really isn’t fair.  These people are stuck in a room with 30 or more little rugrats so you can’t really expect them to put a lot of extra effort into forming a decent understanding relationship with your kid.  That isn’t their job, and even if they really want to do that they just don’t have the time or energy for that, and I’ll tell you a secret.  Your kid just isn’t that special.  Why should they get any kind of extra attention from anybody?  Sure, you may think that they may deserve it, but let it come from you because, let me tell you this, no one else in this world is going to give a crap about them. 

For another thing, your perfect little angel might really be a little jerk at school.  You are just going to have to accept that.  I have seen and heard so many parents defend their worthless kids that it is ridiculous!   Yeah, I agree that you have to go to bat for your kids, but you also have to be willing to discipline them when they need it.  If your kid is flunking classes because they aren’t doing their homework it isn’t because they aren’t being challenged or the teacher doesn’t understand them or whatever other lame excuse you can come up with.  It is because your kid is lazy and you need to make them do their homework.  It isn’t the teacher’s responsibility to make them do the work it is the parent’s.  It is the teacher’s responsibility to teach and keep your kid safe while he/she is in their care, nothing else.  If your kid doesn’t want to put the effort in then that is their problem and yours not the teacher’s.

One of the things that I have noticed about many parents who have bratty kids is their overall quickness to blame everyone but themselves and their children for anything  and everything that goes wrong in their kid’s life.  For example, one of the high-schoolers I know came home with a note saying he was disruptive in class.  What do you think his mom said?  Well, her response was to say that the teacher was an idiot and out to get her kid.  That doesn’t make sense.  When I was little if a teacher told my parents I was disruptive in class there was going to be some big trouble when I got home.  My mom sure as heck wouldn’t be blaming my teacher for my bad behavior or saying anything bad about the teacher in front of me.   Where is the sense in that?  Sure, the teacher probably really is an idiot because most of them are, but as a parent you are doing your child a disservice by attacking the teacher.  Don’t you think that it would be a good thing for your kid to have to deal with the consequences of their actions?  They are going to have to sooner or later anyway.  They are also going to have to learn to deal with people that they don’t like and vice versa throughout their entire lives.

The real question is how many teachers are going to have to have a problem with your kid before you finally acknowledge that your kid is at fault?  Yeah, I bet it sucks to have a bratty kid, but at least once you acknowledge it you can work on it.  I just hope that when you realize your mistake it isn’t too late to fix it because later on when your kid gets a job their boss, unlike their old teachers, won’t have to put up with them being slackers and jerks.  What are you going to do then?  How long are you going to be able to bail out your kid from every disaster that they bring on to themselves?  You can’t live forever and hopefully we all outlive our children by a good many years.

I am just glad that I have had the opportunity to talk with so many other parents who have had these sorts of problems because it gives me some real foresight.  Whether they know it or not, they are teaching me some valuable lessons.  Sure, no one wants to hear that their kid is a problem, but sometimes it is the truth.  The sooner you can get on top of the issue the better.  How do you deal with it though?  I don’t know, but I am going to try a few different things.  

First, I am going to try my darndest to make my kid work for things.  I firmly believe that the first problem that a lot of these kids have is that they expect everything to be given to them because they have never had to work for anything.  Then, I am going to have some real expectations of my kid.  That means I am going to have to lead by example here.  I think a lot of parents have failed to teach their children to be respectful of others and be decent people because they don’t show respect.  I also want my kid to be helpful and giving without expecting anything in return.  No, that doesn’t mean I am going to turn him into a floor mat.  It simply means that I want him be able to help people who need it because eventually he will need help too.  I guess I am trying to say that I am going to teach him the good ole’ golden rule.  

Lastly, I really want to hold my boy accountable for his actions or lack of actions.  So many people fail to realize that there are some real consequences of their actions, and I don’t want my boy to be one of them.  If he doesn’t do his homework, then rather than fight with his teacher about it I am going to make sure that he gets it done regardless of whether or not it is too late for it to make a difference.  If he flunks out of a class he is just going to have to take the class over again.  I am not going to go screaming at his teach because my kid didn't do his job as a student.  It isn’t the teacher’s fault that my kid is failing his/her class.  I sure as hell will never talk badly about any of kids teachers in front of him.  What good does that do?  None, but it sure teaches the kid to be disrespectful.  

I hope that no one gets the wrong idea and thinks that I am not willing to stick up for my kid because that simply isn't true.  But, I am unwilling to fail as a parent even if that means I will have to recognize my child's faults. Yes, I know that that will hurt, but it needs to be done.  I also realize that raising my son to be a decent, respectable person is easy in theory, but difficult in practice.  That is precisely why I have developed a game plan already.  You know, the best thing about a game plan is that it can be changed during the game.  I just hope I will recognize the time when it needs to be adapted.  Hopefully, everything works out, but if it doesn't I’ll just have to keep trying.  I have heard from a few people that the job of being a parent never ends.  It isn’t something you can retire from, and I believe that.