Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sock it to me

Oh no! Heidi is entering my least favorite phase of baby/toddler mode. She knows how to take of her socks. I think sometimes when I put her in her crib for nap time that I should leave her shoes on because she apparently hasn't figured out how to take those off with much success. Now every time I go in there after a nap she has become sockless. I hate to admit that I am becoming a grumpy old man but it's annoying. To have to put her baby socks on repeatedly is a challenge because she won't sit still for anything. Sometimes I get her to put them back on while she is help captive in the high chair but laughs repeatedly as she Jackie Chan's my hands with her tiny baby feet. When I ask her why she took her socks off she laughs which just goes to show she knows exactly what she is doing. When Sarah was her age she quickly learned to take her shoes and socks off with much dexterity. Even short car rides with Sarah you would hear her taking her shoes off, throwing them down like she was Rob Gronkowski and squealing with laughter as she turned each sock inside out. I would get to the destination and have to reapply socks and shoes almost every time. I can honestly say I am looking forward to summer and to have an alternative to shoes and socks.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Let it Ride

This past weekend I attended a Belt Loop Bonanza with my 7 year old son. A BLB if you aren't aware is a half day seminar for scouts to attend that allows them to earn belt loops. Belt loops are these cool little metal clips that go over the belt that scouts earn for completing a certain set of requirements. Adam's first three choices were Wildlife Conservation, Map & Compass, and Science. In the science one, they got to meet a real scientist who taught them about scientific method and then they did an experiment to apply what they learned. Wildlife conservation meant that they met an environmentalist who taught them about food chains and then them met some animals and drew their own food chain. Map and Compass, they learned about maps, topographic maps and how to read a compass. It was during this last one that I and other parents around me witnessed a travesty. After learning about how a map needed landmarks the kids took a nature walk and drew their own map of the nature center. After listening to a fellow dad at Cub Scouts ride his 1st grader that he was drawing his map incorrectly I had to post. Dude, let it go. My son was drawing his map all inaccurately and it took this guy's idiotic rant on his poor son to remind me that sometimes it is best to just hang back. We've all seen these helicopter parents, hovering around their kids fixing their every mistake before they even realize that they made one. This guy seriously said to his son "You are drawing it all wrong. That looks nothing like the nature center. What is that? Weeds? Why would you draw weeds, it makes no sense. Listen to me. NO. LISTEN TO ME! At this point this jackhole takes his kid aside and threatens to leave if the kid doesn't listen. Shame on you Dad. I on the other hand just let Adam do whatever he wanted. It was his map not mine. I was not earning the belt loop and it wasn't like we were turning these in for publication at the end of the day. Turns out that Adam realized some things on his own while I followed him in the rain. He turned to me and said "I think I drew it too big. Next time I draw one of these I am going to start smaller." I said "That's a great idea." and trudged ahead not even looking at his map. I followed my little cartographer around a big pond and up some steps to the barn. Adam said "I think that I shouldn't have drawn a few things and should have put other things in there instead. It's not really accurate." In which I replied "Your map is pretty awesome. Next time you make one you can apply what you learned and improve it." "Yeah, he said, thanks for taking me here." Voila! The kid learned on his own. Without tears and learning from his own mistakes. You don't need to Bobby Knight the kid into a stupor or make him forget that he is there to have FUN in the first place. Let's try and show some restraint when our kids are learning new things. You are the Akela, a guide. Guiding is not doing it for them but being there when they have questions. I know that it is hard to see our kids fail but it is necessary for their survival in this world. It gives them opportunities to learn from their mistakes and learn that they can improve their situation without Mom or Dad stepping in all the time. So next time overreaching dad, I hope you just step back and let it ride. It's more fun for your kid and you will enjoy it more too.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Great Expectations

Do you want to know what the hardest thing about having multiple kids? It is setting your expectations for each one. We have a 7, 4, and 1 year old. Often, I find myself holding the 4 year old to the same expectations as the 7 year old which is frustrating for me and her. It's too much to expect her to be at the same level of understanding as her brother. While having him be the example for behavior has been good and over time she has become more mature sometimes I forget that she is ONLY 4. Then, bring the baby into the picture. At 15 months I know that she doesn't know any better. She can say a handful of words but her favorite activity is to point to something and make a screaming sound until I identify what that something is and get it to her pronto. Being a stay at home parent requires a LOT of patience and setting these expectations for your child's ages will help you get a handle on what is acceptable behavior and what isn't. I am still a big supporter of the time out. While Adam is too old for it at 7, he can now be sent to his room. Sarah, at 4, needs an immediate time out in a chair away from temptation to learn that it is not acceptable to whine and cry when she doesn't get her way. Heidi is a little young for the timeout, but when she is totally unruly and thrashes about on the ground it is always safer to at least confine her to her crib so she doesn't hurt herself. Bottom line is, make sure you have clear expectations and punishments for each child individually. Teachers at different grade levels do this to maintain control in the classroom and if you implement these expectations and discuss what you expect with each child it will help you too.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

You can do it and do it well

When you were in college, you probably thought that there was no way you would ever have kids. You probably thought at one point "How am I going to take care of a kid? I can't even take care of myself". I thought this at one point. I thought, "I can't even make it to my 8am class on the regular" I realize that this probably had to do more with Thursday night binge drinking at Rocky's for quarter beers. Maybe you even tried test runs with plants just to see if you could keep it alive and when that didn't work you convinced yourself that if you had a kid that was like a cactus it would pretty much take care of itself. If you passed that test you may have bought a cat or dog and realized that they are somewhat similar to having a kid but you can't but them outside on a leash when they poop on your rug and you can't spray them with a water bottle when they vomit on your bed. Listen Dads, think of what Rob Schneider has said in every Adam Sandler movie "YOU CAN DO IT!" If you are a new dad or going to be a new dad you are probably crapping in your pants about this kid like a potty training toddler. The first time I ever changed my son's diaper (he is now 7, so I survived!) my hands were shaking so bad that I couldn't do it and then my wife laughed at me. I was afraid that I was going to mess it up. Fact is, you are going to mess it up, sometimes. Once you mentally get past that point that things won't be perfect and you are going to fail it definitely gets easier. Babies are resilient and you will learn to be too. Also, don't listen to these Huggies ads that claim dads don't know what they are doing. If you read my blog or any of the other blogs that I follow you will realize that there are a lot of us out there figuring it out as we go and while we don't have all the answers we definitely have lots of experience for you to fall back on. 32% of Dads are the primary caregivers and we are a growing group so remember that you aren't alone. I have met so many moms who stay at home that are so blown away when I tell them that I am a stay at home dad. Sometimes they comment that they WISH that their husbands had the patience to stay at home and they truly admire a man who is willing to take on that responsibility. It's going to be tough like any job. Your little bosses are going to have you running this way and that. However, like our sports idols who somehow find a way to win there will be times when you rise up and surprise yourself just how damn good you are a being a father. So, go get 'em kid and watch those kids. The bond you make with them will last a lifetime and its one that I would never trade for any job out there.