“I Wish I Didn’t Have A Daddy”

dad and daughter breakfast date
A Daddy-Daughter breakfast = all smiles.

Kids say things to push boundaries. To test word combinations. To see what causes a reaction.

They also struggle to moderate their emotions. Not much falls below the surface.

Especially for our Beanie.

One recent evening, The Best Mom made Beanie’s favorite dinner – ground turkey nachos with peas!

She devoured her first plate and dug into a second helping. Bug, who doesn’t normally love nachos, ate a solid portion. Must have been a great batch!

Within minutes, everything was gone. All the nachos. All the peas. All the ground turkey.

And then this happened:

Beanie: “Daddy, can I please have more nachos?”

Me: “Sweetie, we’re all out of nachos. How about a yogurt if you’re still hungry?”

Beanie: “I WISH I DIDN’T HAVE A DADDY!”

Well..that escalated quickly.

I calmly took her into another room, just the two of us, and had a conversation that
focused on the importance of parents. And that not every kid has two parents to love them and take care of them. And how lucky she is.

Then we discussed the fun things she and I have done together – going to a baseball game, eating ice cream, sneaking out for muffins…the things kids remember.

Beanie felt terrible.

She clearly didn’t mean it.

But she said it.

And it hurt.

A lot.

Like…a lot a lot.

It’s not like a tantrum at bed time. Or being mad that it was time to leave the playground.

“I wish I didn’t have a Daddy.”

She was just trying to get a reaction out of me. And she didn’t get one because I kept it inside.

I didn’t yell. Or get visibly angry. Or cry. I wanted to do all three.

Minutes later, Beanie was sitting in my lap, telling jokes in funny voices, as if nothing happened. We snuggled before bed that night and she told me how much she loved me. All smiles and hugs and kisses.

She had moved on.

 

And I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

“I wish I didn’t have a Daddy.”

You see, as a parent, you need to balance long-term and short-term memory. We need to remember everything about our kids. Every detail. Every activity. Every day. What they love. What they hate. And how those lists switch places every minute.

And then…you need to learn to push things like this out of your head forever.

A few hours passed and the raw emotion wore off. A few days passed and it was well in the rear-view mirror.

But I still remember that sting. And can only hope that she never uses those words at a time when she actually means it.

 

 

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bodily fluid emojis

Bodily Fluid Emojis

The Best Mom and I have a deal: We make each other greeting cards for birthdays and other celebrations whenever possible. We love cards from companies that specialize in the right words, but there is an inherent challenge in writing it yourself.

For my birthday this year, she went above and beyond.

Now that we have three kids, life is messy. And lots of that mess comes from the insides of our children.

We aren’t the people that pretend the mess isn’t there; we are the people that dive into it (not literally, most of the time) and own the mess.

As such, her hand-made birthday card to me featured hand-drawn bodily fluid emojis. It is the sweetest card I’ve ever gotten. And my favorite.

bodily fluid emojis

The Passive Aggressive Calendar

As parents, we take inventory of our kids’ favorite things.

Sure, it’s good to know what they like.

But the real reason is much more practical.

We give them things they like…and when they act poorly, we know exactly which things to take away.

It’s the evil part of parenting, but critical.

“If you don’t clean your room, we’ll take away toy X!” has zero impact if the kid doesn’t like top X, right?

Our daughter, Beanie, has a Disney Princess calendar that hangs on the door to to closet. Each night, she crosses off that day as part of her bedtime ritual.

One recent evening, she was acting horrible. Why? We had no idea. I’m guessing she was over-tired, with a teenage-size tantrum coming out of our four-year-old.

We tried to calm her down, but nothing worked. Not hugging. Not talking. Nothing.

So then we went for the jugular and threatened to take away her calendar.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Bingo. Or so we thought.

Instead of calming down at the prospect of losing her beloved calendar, it only perpetuated the tantrum.

Which left us one option: take the calendar.

So we did. And it wasn’t pretty. Even though we told her she could get it back tomorrow if she was good, the tantrum continued for 20 agonizing minutes before Beanie fell asleep.

In the morning, after a good night’s sleep, she was a different child. Happy. Loving. Not crying or screaming. And apologetic for her behavior the night before.

As I drove her to daycare, I thought about ways to give her calendar back to her that re-enforced the positive behavior.

“#ParentingWin,” I thought to myself.

That evening, when I picked her up, she could not have been more proud of herself.

“#EPICParentingWin!” I thought to myself.

Then she grabbed my wrist and excitedly dragged me over to her cubby.

With the biggest smile on her face, she showed me, with tremendous pride, her latest creation.

“You took my princess calendar away from me, so I made a new calendar all by myself!”

Hanging on the wall was a hand-drawn calendar that looked something like an Escher piece, but, overall, very calendar-ish.

calendar

Bean had created something to replace what we had taken from her. She had passively-aggressively shoved our punishment back in our face.

My instinct was to be REALLY mad. But I took a deep breath and then all I felt…pride.

Instead of crying about her situation, she did something productive and creative about it.

#EpicKidWin

Party of Five

IMG_7029There was a time when my wife and I could slip into a quiet restaurant on a Friday evening and enjoy a nice meal.

Put us on the waiting list! We’ll hang at the bar until our table is ready! Awesome!

Now, with three kids, we are a party of five. Without Neve Campbell and Matthew Fox.

Now, we require a minivan to go anywhere.

Now, we are a traveling tornado of loud.

And never was that more on display that a recent trip we took to Nando’s PERI-PERI, one of our favorite restaurants. Our local Nando’s is in a mall; they play loud music – all the signs of a kid-friendly experience.

At this location, the host assigns you to a numbered table, which is tied to your food order. [Remember this.]

It was no surprise when they put us, all five us plus Auntie Loo-Loo, in a big corner in the back of the restaurant. Right next to the bathrooms, which I greatly appreciated.

Sitting at the the table next to us was an elderly woman. Her dining companion was ordering food when we arrived – complete with baby asleep in the large red stroller, son dripping wet after swim lessons, daughter whining about….who knows what.

“Oh, heck no!” the woman said.

She then proceeded to get up, unfold her metal walker, and slowly cross the restaurant to get a new table, as far away from us as humanly possible. Table number, be damned!

An elderly woman who has trouble walking basically ran away from us. And ruined the restaurants seating system in the process.

Look – some people may be embarrassed by this.

Luckily, we aren’t those people.

I know what my family is right now. We’re loud. We fill up a room. We’re awesome.

We’re also not for everyone.

“Daddy! I’m Pooping In My Pants Right Now!”

The following story is 100% true.

I’m aware that if my son goes to therapy at any point in his life, this story will come up. Well, not the story itself, but the fact that I am sharing this publicly. I can live with that.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Everyday when we pick Bean and Bug up from daycare, we have a routine. It starts in Bug’s classroom.IMG_2983

  1. Quick hug – yay!
  2. Gather art projects to take home
  3. Grab bag of carrots from the mini-fridge
  4. Bug goes potty
  5. Go to Bean’s class and start from Step 1.

Like clockwork.

Step 4 is the most critical, because if something goes wrong, Daddy has to clean the car seat. And Daddy does not like cleaning the car seat.

Over the past, say, two months, as Bug has put the finishing touches on potty training, Step 4 becomes more contextual. When was the last time he went potty? Does he think he can wait until we get home?

So that brings us to today.

Here’s the transcript.

Bug: DADDY!!!! [See Step 1]

Me: Hi! How was your day?

Bug: Good! I have pictures! [Points to cubby; See Step 2]

Me: They are amazing! I’ll hold them. Go get your carrots!

Bug: [Goes to get carrots; See Step 3]

Me: OK, let’s go potty.

Bug: I don’t have to go potty…

Me: Can you try?

Bug: No…I don’t have to go potty!

Me: Can you please try?

Bug: NO!

Teacher: He just went potty 15 minutes ago.

Me: OK. Can you make it until we get home?

Bug: YES!

Me: Alright. Let’s go get Hava! [See Step 5]

[30 seconds later, we are down the hall in Hava’s classroom]

Beanie: Daddy!!! [See Step 1]

Bug: I have to go potty!

Me: Are you kidding me? OK, Beanie, hurry up – we have to go back to Bug’s room.

Bug: I HAVE TO GO POTTY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Me: Let’s go! Everyone! Let’s go!

[5 seconds later, we are back in Bug’s classroom]

Bug: DADDY! I’M POOPING IN MY PANTS RIGHT NOW!

Me: [to myself] F—! S—! F—! S—!

Bug: I’M POOPING IN MY PANTS! IT’S COMING!!!

Me: Sit on the potty!

Bug: NO! I’M POOPING IN MY PANTS!

Me: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! GET ON THE POTTY NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Bug: NO! I’M POOPING IN MY PANTS RIGHT NOW!

[I pull his pants down. There is no poop. I repeat. No. Poop.]

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Moral of the story: Don’t believe three-year-olds who claim to be pooping their pants. Unless they are pooping their pants. Then you believe them.

Makes total sense.

Reflecting On My Paternity Leave

IMG_2694Four weeks ago, we had a perfect, beautiful baby boy.

And since that moment, a lot has happened.

We introduced Squishi to his siblings.

We realized how damn hard paternity leave actually is.

And, apparently, we doomed our baby to a terrible life.

With my paternity leave coming to a close in just a few hours as I write this, I thought it would be a good time to reflect back on the past four weeks.

So here goes…some notes from four very full weeks of paternity leave:

  • Health
    • Days I Planned To Work Out: All of Them
    • Days I Actually Worked Out: None of Them
    • Sodas Consumed: Zero
      • Seriously, I picked the worst time ever to give up soda. Good for health, but ROUGH on life with a newborn.
  • Late Night Cravings
    • Boxes of Batman Cereal Consumed: One
      • The Superman cereal was caramel-flavored. Pass.
    • Industrial Sized Bags of Kettle Corn Consumed: One
    • McFlurries Consumed: One
    • Bags of Target’s Monster Mix Consumed: I Plead the Fifth.
  • Sleep
    • Nights Spent On Hospital Couch: Two
    • Most Consecutive Hours of Sleep: Four (3 times…I think)
    • Times I Slept So Hard My Face Hurt: Ten
  • Bodily Fluids
    • Average Minutes After Putting On A Clean Shirt Before Amzi Spit-Up On It: 0.32
    • Times Amzi Peed on Me: Seven
    • Times Amzi Spit-Up In My Mouth: Just Once. Thankfully.
  • Daycare Commute
    • Hours Spent Doing Daycare Drop-Off/Pick-Up: ~ 1.75/day
    • Songs My Older Kids Now Know From Me Driving Them To School For A Month:
      • “Hey Jealousy” by the Gin Blossoms
      • “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey
    • Songs I Now Know From Driving Them To School For a Month:
      • “Cake By The Ocean” by DNCE
        • That’s gotta mean something filthy, right?
      • Justin Bieber’s entire album
        • Shockingly good!
  • TV
    • Seasons of House of Cards Watched: One
    • The Price is Right Conclusion: Drew Carey is better than I expected, but no Bob Barker
    • Daytime Talk Shows: Ugh…
    • Favorite Middle-of-the-Night TV Shows:
      • Robot Chicken
        • 12-minute episodes for the win
      • Caribbean Life
      • Nothing But Trailers
        • 60 minutes of movie previews…a 3am treat!
  • Home Improvement
    • Trips to Home Depot: Three
    • New Sink Faucets Purchased: Three
    • New Sink Faucets Installed: Zero
    • Flowers Planted in Front Yard: 27
    • Solar Panels: Thinking About Them
  • Baby Snuggles
    • All the time. Hours and hours each day. Perfection.

I got to stay home for full four weeks with my wife, my newborn, my two older babies, and my dog. What else could a guy ask for?

I’m sad to leave my wife home “alone.” It’s been great to spend so much time together – not just in the middle of the night for diaper changes. We’ve had sushi date nights (with Squish). We’ve gone to fun lunches (with Squish). We’ve even worked on a lot of these blog posts together (with Squish). It’s been phenomenal.

In addition to my wife and baby, I had so much fun with Beanie and Bug. Instead of rushing from home to school to home, we got to take our time and enjoy the journey. Sleep in a bit. Take the long road. Snag some muffins for breakfast. Skip school for family fun every now and then. Without the stress of being on time in the morning or going to bed at night, we had FUN together.

On the other hand, going back to work is exciting. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with my team and clients. I’ve missed the daily action of my career and feel motivated to jump back in.

To sum it all up: Four weeks went by. My family size increased. I barely slept. And I’ve never been happier.