“Daddy, You watch boring shows.”

Our oldest boy is very particular about what is on the television. Truth be told, he watches a bunch of it. I realize this is taboo in the world of parenting today, but in all honesty, much of what’s on is white noise to him. He realizes if it isn’t on, but he’s not really paying attention to it constantly. He’s got a set of shows that he watches, most of if not all of them have SOME educational value alongside their entertainment. By and large though, we find that he plays MORE if the noise is on in the background.

…before the long look down your nose at us, please remember that I’m never home, and the wife is taking care of a baby as well as all three of them battling cabin fever amid this ceaseless northeast winter. It’s not on 24/7, in fact we have designated quiet times, and mealtime is a TV off time. He knows this, and is fully capable of functioning without it. In the end though, its on a lot. Whether its being watched or not, its on.

Where I’m going with this, is that the boy absolutely hates anything that I put on. Now, don’t for a second think that while he’s not watching I switch from Sheriff Callie’s Wild West to Hang ’em High. Goodness no. For the most part, I’ll throw some Discovery Channel program on, or my favorite, BBC’s Top Gear. Whenever he’s realized that I’ve seized control of the remote, or he comes home from school and finds me with something on, he immediately deflates and says in the most wretched and sad little voice that he can muster: “Oh…..boring shows again.”

But he’s a fraud. A big, fat phony. If Top Gear is on, inevitably there will be some amazingly beautiful supercar being put through its paces around a track, or a race of some kind, and the little weasel will find himself fascinated by them. As with all little boys, he is mesmerized by anything with wheels. Throw on a program with a brightly colored Aston Martin smoking its tires around a track, and BOOM….got him.

But its a lot like catching a woman watching porn. (I think. I don’t actually know, I’ve never managed to catch one.) – As soon as you draw comment to it, the eyes immediately shift elsewhere, a stammered excuse escapes the lips, and a stubborn refusal to admit that there is any enjoyment of what is being shown.
Even when there’s a documentary about some animal that he saw on Wonder Pets he’ll pay rapt attention to it, as long as I don’t say anything about it to him. As soon as he realizes what he’s seeing, the whining tapers off, and is replaced by that childish curiosity and fascination we are all so fond of.

But again- as SOON as its mentioned, its the end of the world, the mewling begins anew, and he’ll beg for some Phineas and Ferb.

I highly suspect that he’s messing with me, either that or the stubborn streak that he’s inherited from his mother is much wider than I thought, and I’m in bigger trouble than originally anticipated.

Advertisements

Over-extending.

I’ve changed my mind on that heavy post I mentioned before. It isn’t completed, and I’m not ready to put it up yet.

Instead, something happened to me last night which I’m worried is less an isolated culmination of circumstances, and more of an indication of things to come. I’m also concerned with what sort of toll it will take on my already barely-there parenting skills.

It is a scientific fact that when the weather is coldest, more houses will try to burn down. Since 2005, of all the major structure fires that I’ve been to, I can think of only one that was in the shimmering heat of summer, and only another one that happened in nice, moderate weather. The rest have been in the most miserably cold conditions possible. Numerous factors contribute to this, chimney fires, faulty heating systems, bad wiring, unattended heaters, and so on. Well, it happened again last night. We were called out to a mutual aid house fire on the ski slope. As soon as the tones dropped, I put down everything and ran out the door to help. I spent a few hours on scene, did what needed to be done, and came home.

…..to two text messages from the coordinator of the ambulance I drive for. She was essentially asking me where I was since we had had a call to a neighboring town, and no driver showed up. Turns out, I was on call last night without ever realizing it, paying especially small attention to anything at all when the scanner goes off for a fire.

Looking back at the day, I spent the first half of the day at a follow-up interview for what I’m hoping will be my new job, then motored an hour like a bat out of hell to get to my current tech job and spent the second half of the day there. I left there at about 4, made a quick run to the grocery store, and went home. As soon as I got there, I spent the next few hours in the delicate balancing act of trying to be a parent and not falling asleep on the couch. Dinner time, bath time for the baby, bed time routine. As bedtime was winding down, the scanner went off and I spent a few hours on scene with the fire department. Never once did I look at the calendar to see that I was on call.

The point is, I’m overreaching. I’m trying to balance three current jobs, a hunt for a new one, volunteering, and family. I’m genuinely worried that the next ball I drop won’t be an ambulance call, or a missed fire- but something at home. I don’t want to miss a chance to do something with the boys or my wife that could be meaningful or educational, but at the same time, I don’t know where to trim the fat of the schedule so to speak.

My Google calendar is often reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock painting, the hard copy of the calendar on the wall next to my place at the dinner table is covered in brightly colored sharpie, and the majority of the things in the family master schedule that my wife keeps- are mine.

I know I’m not alone when it comes to a hectic, overloaded schedule. There have been news reports, studies, and numerous other publications I’m sure about this sort of thing. I’ve heard all kinds of inane prattle about ‘time management’ and the like, but the truth of the matter is, I just don’t know how or where to start.
Maybe I’ll get better at handling it all as time goes on, because I’m still a relative newbie to the insanity, but I’m honestly worried that I’m going to turn out like Leslie Knope in the Parks and Recreation episode where she’s overextending herself and forgets to invite Gerry to his own surprise birthday party. I feel as though it is really only a matter of time before I drop the ball on something important, and my relationship with my family takes a shot to the pills because of it.

Maybe I’m reading into a single instance a bit too deeply, but last night was the first time that I heeled up and said “Maybe I’m in over my head.”

I think I really, really might be.

Coming Soon

Fair warning, over the last week or so, I’ve been working on my first ‘meaty’ post, its an opinion piece that dives headlong into the realms of controversy.
Given the climate of the blog-o-sphere {hate that word by the way} I will no doubt alienate some with the content.
It will be entirely an opinion piece, I won’t seek to heap any sort of information on you, since any sources that support an argument can immediately be rebutted {I do like that word} by seventeen others. I’m not going to try to change anyone’s mind or even try to deflate a dissenting opinion, but since this topic is a very important one to parents everywhere, I think its important to share thoughts on it.

Parenting has many glorious facets, as does the world we live in in general. But there are some seriously scary things out there that we can’t run from, lest they eventually catch up to us and cause problems. In my upcoming piece, I talk about confronting headlong one of the scariest aspects of the world, and indeed parenting. My theories will not sit well with some, and I know this. I won’t apologize for them, but I will make very clear that the floor will be open for discussion on the matter, that’s only fair. If I’m going to bombard you with my opinions, jamming my fingers in my ears when you want to debate them is childish.

At any rate, I’m putting the finishing touches on it today, and I hope to have it up tomorrow afternoon.

The only reason I’m prefacing this is that I’ve picked up a few readers who I suspect have chosen to follow me because I have at one point made them laugh- indeed most of what I say and do on here is designed to do just that, get a laugh out of you all. But every now and then even I am forced to take a serious tone, especially where the kids are involved.

If you don’t like tomorrow’s commentary, bear with me, your regularly scheduled lunacy will follow quickly upon its heels.

For now, to loosen up some of the ominous tone, here’s a picture I found today, the view from the second highest peak in NYS, Algonquin mtn. This was the first time I climbed it, and the view was breathtaking. The second time I summited, visibility was about 12 feet and the wind was clipping along at about 50mph.
Image

I’m very slowly working my way towards becoming an Adirondack 46er. One of my buddies has become a rabid hiker and climber in the quest for the coveted patch. My approach is much more leisurely, mostly because of time. That’s not to say I enjoy it any more than he does, we just enjoy it differently. A climb with him is a race to the top. My climbs are littered with stops, naps, and as often as possible, campsites. More on all of this at a different time.  

Confounding Kid’s Shows- Installment #1

If you have kids, you’re going to come across some of the most mind-boggling mysteries embedded in the content of the television shows and movies that are targeted at your small people.
I’m not talking about the famous filthy innuendos that Disney is guilty of, or the hidden jokes targeted for the adults,  (a’la Phineas and Ferb) but some things that will make you say “What in hell?” – and wonder how in the heck nobody thought to address or explain such things.

The first installment is brought to you by the timeless classic: Thomas The Tank Engine

Forget the obvious fact that the trains are talking. Kid’s shows. They do that all the time. That’s not what bugs me about the show. What I want to know is, what exactly is the dynamic between the trains and their drivers? In the really old episodes, pre-animation (which were awesome and narrated by none other than George Carlin) the drivers had lines, did things, and were a part of the show.
Then, near as I can tell, they vanished altogether for a while. About the time that they animated the show completely, the drivers became nothing more than ‘things in the background’ – they’re not even mentioned anymore, but every now and again, you’ll see one in the background.

My best estimation is that they’re about the same status as pets in real life.

The reason this bugs me is that every time an engine gets themselves in some sort of dire trouble, either they’re lost, or stuck, or broken down, the situation could be resolved in about 4 minutes by the guy in the back of the engine saying “Oh, crap. Hang on a few minutes while I go make a phone call.”

For instance, the other day I sat down to watch the newest special with our oldest son, an avid Thomas fan. “King of the Railway.”  In it, at one point, an engine gets stuck in a mine. You can clearly see the driver with him, and the whole time the focus is on the engine that’s going to be stuck there forever, yadda yadda… with no mention of the guy in the back who is probably going to starve to death.
Not only that, at one point, Thomas is out looking for the lost engine, and the one that’s lost (Stephen) can’t ‘call out to him’ because he’s out of steam. My thought? Couldn’t the dude just, you know….yell? Or start digging out the blockage which has them stuck in the mine?

Its infuriating. The drivers in the show are literally no more than roombas, the only thing you see them actually DO is couple and uncouple things. – Which makes sense I guess, seeing as how the trains themselves don’t have hands. But that’s it. There is no real interaction between the engines and the drivers, or even the notable humans in the show and the drivers. They exist, but are either mere slaves, pets, or who only knows what.

I FULLY understand the ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ which is necessary to enjoy most of these shows and movies, but when there’s such a gaping hole in the overall mechanics of the show, I get driven to distraction.

I realize that this is a completely moronic topic of conversation, but it annoyed me. Truth be told, I’m also gearing up for a post with some pretty heavy subject matter, so I thought I’d buffer it with a bit of the inane.

Carry on.

“Try Something New Day”

I’ve mentioned briefly that the 4 year old is a picky eater. Every person on earth is aware that kids can be….selective as far as eating goes. Hell, they built an entire ad campaign around it. (LIFE cereal anyone?)

I won’t insult anyone by claiming that our child ‘takes it to extremes’ or ‘is the pickiest ever’ – but his affliction with the malady of selective consumption borders on severe.

If it were up to him, his entire diet would consist of hotdogs, peanut butter and nutella sandwiches, apple slices, bananas, and pasta (no sauce, plenty of grated cheese.) We are able to pepper other things in there, and occasionally he’ll surprise us by requesting something.
The killer is, he’s not adverse to his fruits and vegetables, so its not like we’re having a health crisis. The insanity comes from the constant pendulum of opinion regarding food.

Today, he can’t eat enough of something. Tomorrow, he might rather dive out a window than eat it again. Next week? Its back on the ‘love’ list.

Another lively bit of annoying, is that he’ll often look at what his mother and I are eating and make a face, or openly make an indelicate sound. And if you offer him a bit of something he’s never had, he’ll fly into a minor conniption, waving his arms, covering his mouth, or yelling ‘Nonononono’ – in antics reminiscant of a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon.

Tired of these antics, I have instituted a few new rules regarding feeding time at the zoo.
1. Any rude sounds or comments regarding other people’s food- and you have to try some. Non-negotiable. You have to try it.

2. If offered something that you don’t want, ANY reaction other than “No thank you”- and you have to try some. Non-negotiable.

3.Every now and then. I’ll declare it ‘try something new day’ – which means that you HAVE to have a piece of something that you’ve never had before. I make the decision. Just because you’ve never eaten maple fudge, doesn’t mean that is on the menu. Nice try kid.

Rule #3 IS negotiable to an extent. The other day for example, he and I were on the road running a bunch of errands. As lunch time approached, we stopped for some fast food. (Yes, we eat McDonalds from time to time, cue the collective apoplexy from the holier-than-thous) He’s usually set in his ways- some fries and a smoothie. This particular day, I decided that he would have some nuggets. He’s HAD them before, but in spite of telling me he liked them, every time they’re suggested, he’d freak out and turn them down.
My rule for the day: “Eat some nuggets, and you don’t have to try something new for dinner.”

Wouldn’t you know? He ate the nuggets. And liked them.

He’s catching on fast too. Even his stubborn nature and still-pliable mind can recognize that there might be better alternatives to trying something different. He’s not smart enough to try to barter his way out of the new rule yet, but I suspect that’s not far off. He’s a cunning creature after all.

My admittedly rather heavy-handed approach to feeding time has yielded a few results. – His table manners have improved. No more barf noises when I cook dinner, No more panic attacks when he’s offered something he hadn’t had before. As for trying something new? He’ll protest and whine the whole time, but there hasn’t been a time yet where he hasn’t eaten what I’ve given him.

And no- When it IS ‘try something new day’ – he doesn’t get handed anything gross. I don’t go out of my way to dump creamed spinach down his gullet, or force feed him huitlacoche. (google it, its not pretty) More often than not, its just a piece of what we are eating. And its not a full portion either. I’m smart enough to recognize that he genuinely might not like what I have to offer him- so its usually just a sliver of something. I’m stern, but not a jerk.

Of course, I realize that rules 1 and 2 are bordering on ‘negative reinforcement’ or ‘punishment education’ but lets face it, if all of our positive reinforcement doesn’t work, or if he’s constantly rewarded with desserts or praise even after he blatantly refuses to eat dinner, its time to bust out the “Consequences for actions” education. – And it works.

We’re still dealing with a picky eater. There’s no question about that. But I think I’ve managed to dull some of the more cutting edges of the phase with these little rules, as contrary to progressive parenting mantras that they may be.

First Recipe, Quick, Fast, Easy.

I’ve always been a fan of chili. Spicy, mild, beef, venison, (I draw the line at anything made with poultry and called ‘chili.’ – that’s just not right.)

Once I grew up enough to try to take care of me and my own, I started to make it. My wife is not a fan of spicy foods, so I keep it mild.
In and of itself, chili is a cinch to make. And I apologize if you wandered into this post expecting some sort of gourmet recipe for chili that will be an absolute show-stopper. I’ve already warned you that my culinary proficiencies are fairly slim, and the bulk of what I make is fast and effective. Usually in an effort to take some of the heat off of my wife after she spends the day tending to the little ones. So, if you’re game for a nice, fast recipe for chili and rice- read on macduff.

Need:
– 1lb ground beef (venison works too)
– 2 8oz cans of tomato sauce.
– 1 can kidney beans.
– Spices. (Here I cheat. Store bought ‘chili seasoning mix’, but you may be better at this than I am and choose to season to taste)
– 1 half an onion, diced.
– 1 cup of cooked white rice.
– tortillias. (type, size, number are up to you.)

1. Cook the rice. Apparently the best way to cook rice is 1:2 with water- One cup rice to 2 cups water. (Seriously, I have to look it up every time) – you can use a teaspoon of salt too for some reason.
 {Note: rice cooking instructions are usually on the package, follow them.)

2. For the chili itself: Brown the ground beef, drain the fat. Add in the tomato sauce, onion, beans and seasoning.

3. At this point, cook it all until its hot. I learned that if you cover things, they cook faster. Do that.

4. When its hot, dump in the rice. Mix it well.

5. Dump unceremoniously onto tortillas.

– If your final concoction looks like something that has been already eaten once, you’ve succeeded. Additional seasonings can be added- such as chili powder, peppers, whatever. The cool thing about chili is that you can be creative and not really screw it up.

Below is what it turned out like for me: (Warning, graphic image, probably NSFW)

Image

Final step: Assure your family that it tastes better than it looks.

This is a great meal to make in a hurry, and all in all the ingredients are fairly inexpensive. Not only that, its filling as hell, so you’ll probably have leftovers. And leftovers are a good thing.

When Sleepless Nights Are Bearable

Its a cinch to complain about not sleeping when you have kids. In fact, in most cases, its expected and probably mandatory, especially when you’re talking to other parents. Admit it, you’ve found yourself talking to other members of the club over luke-warm coffee or over the phone with one ear plugged so you can hear them, and compared how much sleep you got the night before, secretly hoping you had the lower number of hours, because your functionality on literally minutes of sleep make you look like a badass.

“Wow, 17 minutes of sleep and you still managed to get your shoes on the right feet today? You’re a superhero!”

We’ve all done it, whether or not we’re willing to admit it.

Lately though, at least for the last few nights, I’ve been grateful for the baby’s periodic wakeups at night. Our household is on the cusp of going through a lot of changes due to my seeking to change professions, and there’s been a ton on my mind, professionally, personally, and to some extent, even spiritually. Of course, these things all come to mind at night when the body slows down. During the day, amid the flurry of job appointments, commutes, parenting-related demands, and trying to remember if I ate yet today….things get lost. Its one of the perks of a busy schedule, it keeps me from getting overwhelmed by things I have no control over.

But at night? Oh boy.

At night I’ll either lay awake for hours rolling around and worrying, or I’ll sleep fitfully with all kinds of things running through my head at speeds such that there’s no focusing on one of them. Trying to pin down one thought is like sitting at a railroad crossing and trying to read the graffiti on a specific freight car as it plows past you and the image is replaced by seven more almost immediately.

But, here again, we’ve all been there at one point in our lives, I’m certain that I don’t need to explain sleeplessness to you.

Here is where the baby comes in. I’ve already mentioned that he doesn’t like to go back to sleep on his own yet (a work in progress) – so I go in and help him. Sure, every now and then he’ll still catch me JUST as I’m drifting off, and I’ll get grumpy, but more often than not, when he starts his squall, I’m already awake. Taking the time to put him back to sleep gives me something to DO in the middle of the night, rather than focus on everything going on around me.

The baby not sleeping all night is what is getting me THROUGH the night, because there is no better way on earth to calm down than to lay with a snoring infant on your chest. The little booger has no idea, and may never have any idea just how much good he is doing me.

I know things are going to change someday- the circumstances we are facing will solidify, and the baby will learn to sleep and no longer need his daddy to put him back to rest at night.

But for now, the problems that he and I are facing individually, are being resolved by each other, and for that- I am very grateful. Thanks little man.

Parenting Advice From Non-Parents

Imagine if you would, that you are sitting on an airplane awaiting takeoff to your dream vacation. The loudspeaker crackles to life with the following message.

“This is your captain speaking, there will be a slight delay as we resolve a slight problem with the engine.”

Rather than the usual griping, and moaning that might accompany such a message, the entire cabin rises to its feet, climbs out of the plane and wanders over to the engine mechanics who are trying to resolve the problem. The head mechanic looks up at the mob of people.

“Can I help you?” He asks.
“No, we are here to help you.” Comes the reply.
“Oh, you’re mechanics?”
“Hahaha, oh, goodness no, we wouldn’t dream of being mechanics, but we have flown on airplanes before, so please, let us impart upon you our boundless wisdom on the matter of engine repair.”

As ludicrous as this sounds, its fairly similar to the lady behind you in the checkout line at the grocery store who not only feels the burning compulsion to comment on an obvious pregnancy, but share advice that she has gleaned from her sister’s baby, or her best friend’s baby, or the fact that she was a baby once.

I think, for me- the problem is that it seems like everyone assumes that you have no idea what is happening with a pregnancy, or that you’ve got no inkling of what is going to happen when the pregnancy ends with the birth of a human being.
Perhaps it is the innate desire for people to be helpful, to swoop in and save the day for the bewildered young couple about to have a child that drives me insane.

During my wife’s first pregnancy (I dropped the ‘our’ from the first paragraph, it wasn’t fair) I resented the unsolicited advice from people, because I felt like they thought we were morons that needed their guidance. I especially resented the advice from the people whose ‘children’ are the furry kind that pee in litter boxes or drink from toilets. Did we really give the impression of being so daft that someone who knows nothing feels like they need to help us?

These emotions were clearly overreactions on my part. Thankfully, I never voiced my ire, and just strode on with the procedure of nodding, smiling, and mumbling terrible things about these strangers as soon as we were out of earshot.

…It got better though. After the first child was born and #2 was brewing, we would STILL get the advice from people who must have thought we hadn’t a clue what we were up against- despite the little boy clinging to us who very clearly had all of his limbs, and appeared well-fed and healthy. (Not happy though. He was never happy in the presence of strangers.)

I honestly do not understand what drives people to think that giving advice on a matter such as parenting when they have no experience themselves is a good idea, when with literally every other topic, such an endeavor would be ridiculous.

With all that being said, I have since formed my own advice to blossoming parents in regards to advice. (stay with me, I’m almost done)
Essentially, I tell them “Ignore the advice, use common sense, and figure out what works for you.” (I blatantly ignore the irony of my own statement) Figuring things out on our own is half the fun of being a parent, and if we try to wedge our situation to fit that of someone else, all you’re doing is making things more complicated. Remember that other saying – “When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.” – Its the same thing. Clinging too tightly to someone’s advice- even that of your own parents- I feel limits your ability to create a full toolbox which you can use to build a child, and indeed a family dynamic that isn’t steeped in confusion, chaos, and possible legal ramifications. (Seriously, stop recommending booze on the gums of a teething child.)

You’ll try, you’ll fail, you’ll learn. Parenting isn’t easy, and most of us who try it are only marginally good at it. Of all the ‘helpful’ parenting books we were stocked up with nearly immediately upon the news that we were expecting, I think we glanced at….2 of them. 99% of the books all start with something like this:

“Every child is different. Now here’s what you do.”

My immediate and rage-filled response to that is obvious. If they’re all different, how can I follow your advice? I understand basic suggestions like “Make sure baby is fed. Don’t shake them. Clean diapers are a must.” – You know, that sort of thing that generally outlines the mechanics of parenting. But the very instant you have a second child and realize that what worked for #1 ain’t gonna cut it for #2, you start to dissolve any sort of faith in those “How to raise your kids” books, blogs, radio shows, articles, magazines, smoke signals, and telegrams. Its then that you’ll formulate your own strategies, battle plans, and theories. And once you’ve got this? The inane advice from that lady at the checkout line makes you want to scream.

…..this post went almost everywhere, and for that I apologize. I’ll try to stay on a single track next time. Promise.

Dreams of Wealth, Prosperity, and Sleeping Through the Night.

The loss of sleep that accompanies parenting is something that is no myth. In fact, it is such common knowledge, that morons the world over like to joke that “I’ll never have kids, I like sleep too much, hur hur hur!” Its no mystery, it’s no joke. Its truth.

For some though, that truth is much ‘truer’ than others. I have friends whose young kids are sleeping through the night at 6 months, 8 months, whatever. While I’m happy that the parents of these little gems are regaining some sort of regular rest cycle, I’m secretly and silently uttering not-so-complimentary epithets at their expense.

You see, both of our kids were lousy night-time sleepers. The oldest has outgrown that, and is such a heavy sleeper, that should the initiation of the apocalypse happen in our town, there would be people in other time zones who would know about it before he does. The kid sleeps like a champion. Not always the case, but now he is, and it gives me hope.

The baby is a horrible sleeper at night.

Recently, we’ve dealt with colds and teething, which just compounded the problem, and were even viewed as reasons, so it wasn’t that bad. Prior to that, and indeed again recently, he’s back to his old tricks of waking up a few times a night, and not going back to sleep on his own.

Confession time again:

This is my fault. Completely.

You see, with my wife being the one who has to take care of the kids all day while I’m working, playing, or whatever, I readily volunteered to take the night shifts. The problem is, I didn’t train him to go back to sleep. We made a huge tactical error when setting up the baby’s room.

The futon.

In all honesty, there wasn’t anyplace else to put it really, so we opted to keep it in the baby’s room. At first, this seemed like a brilliant plan. Baby wakes up, daddy gets up, takes baby, lies on futon, baby sleeps on daddy, daddy sleeps brilliantly, mommy gets rest, everybody is happy.

Slowly though, this degenerated into a minor nightmare. As anyone with kids knows, the development of a routine leads to dependencies which can be tougher to break than…well….other dependencies. It slowly evolved to the point where he’d wake up at night, and give NO effort to put himself back to sleep. He knew that if he squalled for even a minute, daddy would come in, pick him up, cuddle the hell out of him on the futon, and he could sleep on daddy’s chest for hours, not really worried about the possible spinal damage that daddy was suffering from that accursed futon.

Finally, mommy said ‘enough is enough’ – she was probably tired of daddy limping around hunched over like a Notre Dame bell ringer, groaning like an extra in “The Walking Dead.” We began to sleep train. The right way.

For anyone that’s been in the game, you might have come across this: The Sleep Easy Solution It does actually work. It was what finally led our eldest to the land of nod on his own.

But the baby? Stubborn to levels usually reserved for mules. The kid will wake up, sit up, and cry. The method dictates you go in every few minutes at increasing intervals, just to let them know that you’re still there, and eventually, they’ll lay down and go to sleep. We spent a WEEK on this training, and not ONCE did he lay himself down. He’d sit up and cry, and when he finally stopped crying, he’d remain seated, and start to fall asleep. We’d watch him weeble and wobble on the monitor, until he aaaaalmost fell over, which would be enough to wake him up and the crying would start again.

Long story short, he’s doing a bit better, daddy still sneaks a short stint on the futon with him now and then, but we are down to only one or two short wakeups at night instead of the ‘every two hours’ game he was playing not too long ago. The battle continues, and I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel like I was losing every now and again. The kid is amazingly strong-willed, very clever, and even after miserable nights, fully able to worm his way back into my good graces in the daylight such that I don’t mind trying again when the sun goes down.

Eventually, I know we’ll win, but every now and then, I get insane little flashes of me having to rock him to sleep in his dorm room the first night of college, or hoping that when he finally marries, his wife won’t mind patting him on the butt for two hours until he goes to sleep……such are the thoughts of the daddy who hasn’t had a REM cycle in a few months.

On Cooking

Dinner time in our house is usually an undertaking that could make a Broadway production look a lot like a first grade play about the seasons, where little kids are dressed up like trees and forgetting their lines.

Our household consists of 4 people with diverse needs- none of them exactly dietary. There are no health complications which require elaborate adjustments to dining plans or culinary convictions born out of anything other than stubbornness. The complexities stem from scheduling, and the oldest child’s ability to decide that whatever it was that he loved yesterday, was now poison.

I understand that children go through picky eater phases, and I know it would be unfair of me to suggest that our child takes those phases to epic extremes, but it is pretty bad.

This being said, my poor wife often ends up making 4 separate meals, or at least two or three, at different times by the time I get home from whatever engagement I happened to get wrapped up in that particular night.
Occasionally, if I’ve the time and the inclination to do so, I’ll take the heat off of her and take a run at dinner. Now, my wife loves me, and this is apparent by how she forces herself to eat whatever I cook, and will usually even comment on how good it is. She’s lying of course, to protect my fragile man-ego which demands that we be good at everything. I know she’s lying, she knows I know she’s lying, but we keep up the charade to prevent me from being emotionally destroyed. Ah, marriage.

Here comes another confession from me by the way:

Rarely do I make anything that would satisfy the rigorous criteria that the modern world would consider ‘healthy.’ The majority of what I make is quick, usually scraped out of a frying pan, and slapped onto bread of some kind. Yes, I’m a sandwich man. Aside from pasta (which I don’t make, because I ruin it) There’s very little that I won’t try to make a sandwich out of.

On the rare occasion I’ll cook something in the oven, but I’m 30, and that thing still scares me. As far as I’m concerned it runs on magic. (as will be detailed in some of the stories to follow in regards to baking) Ninety-nine percent of the time though- top ‘o the stove, frying pan it is.

There are two reasons I take to the kitchen. The first being that this is one of those tools I use to plug the gap in my parenting skills. If mommy doesn’t have to make dinner all the time on top of corralling two kids all day, maybe she won’t notice my shortcomings so much. (she does.)

The other reason, is I actually enjoy it. I told someone once that ‘cooking is like sex, you don’t REALLY have to be any good at it to enjoy it.’ – And I’m not much good at it, but its fun. Those  few instances before the smoke alarm goes off and the county tones out the HazMat team to my location, where briefly….very, very briefly, something smells edible? I love it, and seeing as how nobody has been violently ill from something I’ve cooked in a few months now, well….. we celebrate the small victories in life.