Monday, March 30, 2009


If you've read some entries from my blog, you know that I don't brag on my child all that much. While JD is a terrific kid, he's got plenty of moments that make my eyes shoot fire and steam come out of my ears.

Right now, I'd like to brag on my kid.

JD is a championship sleeper. He slept five hours in the hospital the second night we were there and had to be awoken by the nurses for a feeding. He was sleeping through the night around six or eight weeks and, with a handful of exceptions that all include sickness, has never turned back.

He has also been exceptional with respect to major transitions. He took a pacifier in the hospital after he was born and took it until he was just over eleven months. The doctor said to take it away, so I did. No problems whatsoever. Giving up bottles in favor of sippy cups? Forget about it. Going from two naps per day to one? (And he still takes a three hour nap every afternoon.)

Need him to get up a little early? No problem. Keep him up late? No meltdowns. Put him down a little early? That's about the only challenge unless I run him around sufficiently. As long as he has some milk, a couple of stories, and his puppy, he's good to go.

But all of that, I feel, pales in comparison to the transition he seems to have quickly mastered. That was going from his crib to his full sized bed.

Actually, it's a twin-over-full bunk bed. Being only two-years-two-months-old, he's only in the full bed and has no access to the top bunk which does not yet have a mattress.

It's the transition we heard was important to make before his sister is born in five weeks from tomorrow (3/31). Though she won't be in her crib until she's sleeping through the night consistently, we wanted to ensure that JD didn't feel as though he was giving his crib up for the baby.

So we purchased the bed and had it delivered and put together. He was immediately excited. The three of us went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to outfit it with sheets, pillowcases, and a comforter. The next day, JD and I went to Costco to purchase pillows, including a body pillow and some decorative throw pillows. This way, he would have padding all around. We didn't know what to expect, but we didn't want him to have the option of slamming into something. (By the way, the one drawback of bunk beds is making the bed. What a pain! That, and hitting your head.)

Finally, we had a countdown. Okay, JD, three more days until you sleep in your bed! Two days! etc.

Then came Friday afternoon. The big moment. we didn't want to wait until nighttime - limit the chance of having a sleepless night.

JD and I climbed into the bed together. I was prepared to read a bunch of books and lay there with him until he fell asleep. That didn't work. Just like trying to get him to sleep with us in our own bed, it didn't work. It was play time. After forty-five minutes, I got up. JD got up with me and I picked him up and asked him, Crib or bed? Bed, he replied. So into bed I put him, kissed him, then walked out and closed the door.

The next fifteen minutes reminded me how hard sleep training is.

So I lied a little bit about the ease of the transition. There was one rough spot.

For fifteen minutes he screamed bloody murder. Oh, and that comment I just made about sleep training? While at just a few months, your baby is still an infant and vulnerable and fragile, this is a toddler with lungs and a vocabulary. Daddy! Daddy! I want Daddy! Hello? Hello? I want open please! Come in, please! He used every word he could muster to try to get me to come get him. I had to hide in the basement and work on a project so that I could divert my attention. But still, the monitor lights were bright red and as low as I'd set the volume so I could just hear him, he was still quite audible. Daddy! Daddy! Crying so hard. It was hard not to, myself.

I decided a few minutes into his hysterics that I would wait fifteen minutes and then go up, put him into bed, then walk back out.

Just as that fifteen minute mark came up, I suddenly heard silence. I looked into the video monitor but didn't see him in bed. I decided to wait a little longer. A couple of minutes later, I heard some rustling. He was crawling into bed. I turned on the monitor to see him sitting in bed, whimpering to catch his breath, and clutching his blue puppy. Another few minutes and he was out.

The next couple of naps were tough, too, but not like that. Tonight, I read the standard two books while he sipped some milk, then I kissed him good night and, just before I turned off the reading light, he lay down holding puppy.

He was tired and happy to be in bed.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Project Management

Have you ever found yourself starting projects that never seem to get finished? Welcome to my world.

It seems that every day I think of something new to do, some project that I or my household cannot live without. Whether it's putting our seasonal or non-maternity clothes into Space Bags, reorganizing the laundry room, starting a new story idea, organizing the office, hanging pictures, reading books, organizing the garage, doing the dishes, doing laundry, checking account balances, auditing statements, planning the week's meals with a coordinated shopping list, planning daily activities for JD, planning play dates for JD, or organizing family outings, I can't seem to get things finished after starting them.

One thing I've tried to do is to make a list of projects I'd like to start. It sort of works. I get to them eventually, but some don't get started as they fall down the priority list.

If they fall down the priority list, did they need to get started in the first place?

Of course they did! The clothes that were piling up in corners of the bedroom need to be stored. That way, when my wife gets back into shape, she can frown upon her old wardrobe and request that funds be earmarked for new clothes. The pot that has been soaking for four days after making chicken stock. Thinking about my family and that we haven't gotten together since the holidays. Looking at the papers piling up in the office and wondering how many bills are underneath that need to be paid today to avoid late charges. The next Great American Novel for which I have a tremendous concept, if only I could get some amphetamines and write for three weeks straight in Kerouac style.

The reality is that these things do all get accomplished. Necessity dictates it. There will be a time soon when we will expect to have guests, so I'll be forced to finish storing the clothes piled up in the guest bedroom. I will need the stockpot for a new batch of stock. The thought of giving money away to late fees makes my skin crawl. The novel . . . that will have to wait until I decide to give up several other hobbies or carry around a journal at all times so that I can jot down my ideas as they come to me.

I might not be the most organized person in the world, but if I had a dollar for all of my good intentions, I'd be a millionaire! And I do make some good chicken soup.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Positive Reinforcement

My son as taken a liking to lollipops. Correction, a loving to them. Maybe it's just lust, but only time will tell. He asks for one every day, sometimes three or four times per day. It's an addiction.

He was introduced by his speech therapist. When used during a lesson; either by her, by my wife, or by me, it can be used to strengthen lips and cheeks as well as to promote greater oral awareness.

Of course, it can also be used for evil.

Or at least, a lot of whining.


No buddy, it's time for breakfast.

I...I want lollipop, please.

Go sit in your chair, please.


And the saga continues. Several times per day.

I did use it the other day for positive reinforcement. Upon entering the house from playing outside, he promptly, and without prompting from me, sat down and took his shoes off.

I made a big deal out of it, gave him praise and hugs and kisses, then told him that he deserved a lollipop for doing such a good job taking his shoes off when he came inside.

Hopefully two things happen. First, he continues to take his shoes off as soon as he comes in the house. Second, that he doesn't expect a lollipop every time he does so.

The reality is that rewarding good behavior it touchy. I don't want to fall into the trap where behaving properly becomes a way to get things. They behave correctly because that's how one is supposed to behave.

Some of you are saying, Ha! Wishful thinking! Or other, more profane things.

But, to me, that's where parenting gets tough. But I only have one kid (until May 5th) and he's only two-years-old. We'll see how long I last.

In the mean time, we'll see how the positive reinforcement works out.

I should also mention that it really does work for oral awareness and lip rounding. There are several exercises one can do and it is especially good when the parent and child each have one and use them in front of a mirror (expect him or her to ask to trade with you at some point - he or she will wonder if yours is more tasty.) If you are curious, just ask and I can send details about the exercises.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Sick Boy and Bedtime Moments

Yesterday, JD woke up from his nap with a 102.3 fever.

He was crying and unhappy when he woke up. He took an exceptionally long nap - over 4 hours. He's a good sleeper, but that was long even for him. Sometimes when he wakes up and it's dark, he cries; I thought it was no different.

But when I picked him up, I could tell he was warm. He clung to me and I sat down in the glider next to his crib and rocked for a few minutes. Then he heard his mother in the next room and asked to be put down. After running to our room and jumping into bed with her, he snuggled up close and said, "Yo Gabba Gabba." He spent the next 30 minutes snuggled and silent.

The rest of the night went well. While they watched Gabba, I got some water and some Children's Tylenol (I didn't need a thermometer to tell me he had a fever.) He willingly took his medicine.

Then I went back and heated up a big bowl of chicken soup I'd made the other day. It had tomatoes, corn, garbanzo beans, mirepoix, egg noodles, and shredded soup chicken. When I brought it up, JD said, "Soup, please." How coould I resist? He ate broth, I ate 'stuff'. He was thrilled and kept eating and eating so we were thrilled.

He then came to the kitchen with me and ate two bags of dried apple chips, some animal crackers, and a glass of milk. There we were, JD and I, sitting on the floor in the kitchen. He had a small plastic bowl with animal crackers in his hands, his mouth stuffed. I was eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. His milk was in a small translucent red plasic glass, while I had milk in a rocks glass. It was a nice, comfortable silence.

He was as happy as I've ever seen him and he was burning up. It was quite the paradox.

When bedtime came, we went to his room and I read Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type for the fifteenth night in a row. Then I turned the light off and he turned toward me so that I would pick him up and set him face down on me. I reclined in the glider and there we were, sitting in the dark. He was laying on me with his arms around my shoulders, his chin nuzzled into my neck. Occasionally, as he has been doing lately, he would pick up his head and lean into my face like he's trying to make out with me, just to turn into my cheek so he can rub his soft cheek against the stubble on mine.

These are the moments when we forget about the discipline, the car throwing, the food flinging, the diaper-changing tantrums. These are the moments when I could care less about missing a hockey game; going out with the boys and drinking doesn't sound like fun. These times are the big bonus paychecks.

It's when I fall in love with being a Dad all over again.

New Territory - Bathing a Baby Girl

Part of JD and my routine is to take a shower in the morning. It came about because he didn't transition from being bathed in a sink to a full-sized bathtub. I had purchased a stool for my wife to ease leg-shaving, as our shower is a stall, not inside a bathtub. JD stands on that stool and plays with tub paint (thanks Jay-Jay!)

I am able to wash myself first, then I turn to JD. He's generally a willing participant and doesn't mind the water coming down on him. He's even learned to enjoy it; I spy him with his back to the water, holding still with his head turned down slightly, letting the water hit his back.

JD gets washed as thoroughly as I wash myself, including his private parts. Penises and anuses need washing, too. Especially when they're subjected to sitting in their own excrement and feces for any length of time. Plus, crumbs, milk, and soup get down in there. Don't ask me how. It's no big deal, I just wash him as I would wash myself.

But now I'm going to have a daughter. Say what you will, but it's different. Frankly speaking, I don't have a vagina. I have only dealt with the vagina in a more intimate manner.

It's not that I fear it or anything, it's just an unknown. I've had plenty of practice on myself. Do I ask my wife to practice on her?

There are always unknowns when beginning something new. This is my new territory. Women probably have the same questions that men do in this respect. From a male's point of view, washing the penis seems rather simple - just don't get soap down the tip; it hurts. But for a woman, it's all inside, but some parts are more inside than others.

As usual, I'll talk to my wife, to playgroup moms, and read a book or two.

Then I'll get to the task and figure it out for myself.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Coolest Guy in His World

My wife said something quite special to me today. She said, “What's it like having someone think you're the coolest guy in the world?”

That was certainly a great compliment to me, that my son thinks so highly of me.

Maybe she's right. I'm not trying to appear modest; I simply don't think about my status in my son's eyes. As long as he loves and respects me, all is good in the world. Eating my cooking is nice, too.

The truth is, he does emulate my actions. He always wants to be with me. He is sad to see me leave and happy to see me return. He is angry when I have to divert attention from him at any time during the day (unless he's watching Yo Gabba Gabba. Since I'm a bleeding-heart hippie libertarian, I don't let the TV babysit.)

I can't make a pot of soup without him hitting my hip or butt to gain my attention.

We can make each other laugh and cry. If I wasn't so concerned with keeping a certain distance, I would say that we're best friends.

But that's how best friends think of each other. I also think he's the best kid in the world (like most parents). Does he drive me crazy with his stubbornness and his insanity? All the time. Do I make him crazy driving all over the place to go shopping every other day? I'm sure.

In spite of these exceptions we are grateful to have one another. We play hockey almost every day, if not every day. His new thing is asking me to play Wii – and he just sits and watches me play. He gets pissed when I say it's time to turn it off! (And I want to keep playing, but know the better of it.) We eat together at home and in restaurants.

I receive consistent compliments about him and consider that a success of our parenting.

To be the coolest guy in the world? It's the fruit of waking up in the morning.