Keep ’em safe.
A Sophie’s Choice for Dads
Next in the series of letters of advice to my brother who is about to have a baby.
You can’t protect them both. It would require too much mental energy, and there are physical constraints. So, you need to make a choice, because they both will come under attack, and if you’re not prepared, they both will get hit. I’m talking, of course, about your nuts and your nose. Your baby is going to assault both areas. Let’s look at these vulnerabilities one at a time. Continue Reading…
The Gift That Keeps On Taking
Local Man Resents Family for Nine Years and Counting
Your child comes to you and asks for a gift. This is your kid’s pitch:
- The gift/toy will cost between $600 – $1000 up front.
- Ongoing maintenance costs will be another four or five thousand dollars over the next ten years.
- I will rarely play with the toy after the first few weeks.
- Even if not using the toy, it must still be maintained on a daily basis.
- I will lose interest in maintaining this toy almost immediately.
- After I stop maintaining the toy, you will be responsible for maintaining it.
- I will not learn how to get the toy to function properly.
Sound good? Would you buy this toy for your child?
As you can probably figure out, I’m not talking about a toy. I’m talking about a dog. Continue Reading…
It’s all smiles and giggles until your baby flips out of your arms.
One Kid, Over Easy
Another in the boring series of letters to my brother, who asked me for baby advice
Sometime between year one and year two, your baby will develop the core strength to twist about and lean while you are holding her in your arm. You will be holding her in one arm, with something else occupying your other hand. She will lean back. You will feel the imbalance, and try to correct it. Your instinct will be to float your arm out to get her butt under her shoulders, and then gently guide her back to your shoulder. But your instinct is wrong. Continue Reading…
Bullying Conformity into Children
Skip to Your Heart’s Desire
Junior is six. I am watching him skip through a park. He is singing to himself in the sweet, high-pitched voice of a little boy. My joy in witnessing his pure, self-created bliss is soon replaced by the thought, “How long ‘til some sadistic little pecker ridicules this behavior out of him?” Continue Reading…
Whiskers never knew his real father.
I Love Being Called Daddy
I love being called “Daddy,” but with a 9-year-old, and a boy at that, I know those days are numbered.
Just having someone call you “Dad” gives you a good feeling, but “Daddy” is inexplicably better. Continue Reading…
Reheat, eat, repeat.
Pre-birth Food Preparation
Letters to My Brother
Yet another email to my soon-to-be-a-dad brother, who foolishly asked for my advice.
Once you have the baby, your food preparation habits will have to change. Speed will be of the essence. In the weeks before the birth, make dinners that you can freeze and fill your freezer with them. On many occasions, the thought of making dinner will suck the remaining life out of you. You will be too tired and too pressed for time to make dinner every night. Make dinner before the baby arrives.
After the baby is born, when people ask if there is anything they can do for you or if there is anything you need, ask them to bring over dinner. Dot not feel funny about asking for this! People will be happy to do it. Lasagna works great. You make it once, and you can get several more meals out of it.
Wait…I’m going to miss cleaning up a poopy blowout?
Letters to My Brother
…on the occasion of his wife’s pregnancy
Yet another email in the series of advice he inexplicably asked for
You will change seven diapers in a day and you will bathe your child every other day and you will spend 45 minutes on the nighttime routine and you may look to your future and think, “Oh, my god. How many more times do I have to do this?”
That feeling can be overwhelming. But this kind of thinking is misguided. When you have a child, you will realize, or you should realize, what Howard Jones meant, or what he could have meant, when he sang, “Don’t try to live your life in one day.”
You don’t have to do it all in one day. Raising a child is a one day at a time proposition, often a one moment at a time proposition. Sure, there will be plenty of times when you will be tired and don’t feel like warming a bottle or giving a bath or rocking her to sleep, and the thought of doing some tasks one more time may depress you, but the problem is not the task, it’s your attitude.
Think about that. You will complain about having to rock your daughter to sleep again, and then one day, you will realize that she’s too big to be rocked in your arms, and you will wish that you could rock her again.
There will come a day when she can read and doesn’t need you to read her stories anymore, when tucking her into bed is the last thing she wants.
The early years are a magical time. Savor every moment. The older kids get, the suckier they are to be around, and that’s a good thing. It helps both of you accept the eventual separation that is to come. When is comes to doing things for your child, treat every have-to as a get-to. The last time you get to do a lot of these things will sneak up on you, so think of every “chore” as being the last time you will get to do it.
No parenting books prepare you for this.
Letters to My Brother
He wanted advice. That’s his problem.
Dear God, let me take his place.
I’ve told you this before, and perhaps the moment your daughter is born, you’ll understand it completely, but when your child is sick or injured, the effect on you will be ten times worse than the effect on them. So innocent, so naiive and so brave, they break your heart when they suffer. You must be calm and confident to reassure them that all will be well, when inside you fight to hold back the tears. The pain inside you is so great, you irrationally plead with God to take the pain away from your child and give it to you instead.
Your child will not escape illness and injury. Prepare yourself mentally now, so you can be strong when you need to be. Your daughter will be looking to you for guidance. And no matter how bad it is, no matter how panicked you are or how much you want to cry, you need to look her in the eyes with calm assurance and make her believe that everything is going to be okay.
Tonight, Junior was standing on his stool, washing his hands. He tripped as he tried to step off, and hit his head on the toilet, opening a huge gash above his left eye.
His teeth were chattering with fear as we sat in the hospital emergency room. He didn’t want to get a shot. We did our best to get him to believe that everything was going to be okay.