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To Be a Kid Again

To Be a Kid Again

We recently returned from a quick roadtrip across the Mississippi to see family. I’ve been making this trip in various forms my whole life. So when I looked into the back seat to see Jamie (who skipped naptime at his daycare to make the trip) with his head cocked to the side and passed out, it felt like a full circle on this trip occurred. In other words, I’ve probably been making this trip since I was the one passed out in the car seat. I could have easily acknowledged this thought by passing out in the passenger seat myself. But instead it got me thinking about one of the coolest parts of being a parent – the free pass on acting like a kid again. I love watching shows like Bugs Bunny and Inspector Gadget as an adult. These shows take me back to my own childhood. Hearing Jamie repeat “What’s up Doc?” or “I’m hunting wabbit” makes me laugh uncontrollably. We have a toy basketball hoop in our front room. I’ve written about it before. Sinking free throws is a great way to take a break from work. Sometimes I’ll climb around with him or show him how to use a piece of playground equipment. I’m not nearly as limber as I once was, but I can definitely see the attraction for a 3-year-old. I’ve always found science and DIY projects interesting, but admittedly let both fade into the background of adulthood. We have multiple books and websites we utilize for ideas, and the natural look of wonder on Jamie’s face makes it all worthwhile. We have a t-ball set in the backyard. It’s been great for stimulating Jamie’s interest in baseball (Go Cubs!), and for similar reasons as the basketball hoop, fun for me to play with as well. It is admittedly harder to field when we get our sunglasses mixed up, as in the picture. We’ve brought Dr. Seuss, Shel Silverstein and other classic authors back into the rotation. I love revisiting some of these favorites from when I was a kid. Joining a 3-year-old in their world can be surprisingly fun and liberating. It is a welcome retreat from bills, schedules, and reading about election cycles. It is definitely something I can use more of – to be a kid again....

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Acceptable Reasons for Throwing a Temper Tantrum

Acceptable Reasons for Throwing a Temper Tantrum

The other day I’m driving through a parking lot at my local grocery store. I backed out and made my way down the aisle. A car came barreling toward me not really paying attention to who’s side of the aisle was who’s. Instead, he utilized the middle. I veered to the side and stopped. It was the only way to avoid an accident. For some (note: most mature people) it probably would have ended there. But alas, that’s not me. I honked and I raised my hands in frustration. I yelled something as if the other driver could hear me between two sets of raised glass. He returned the favor. I refrained from giving a one finger salute (yay for personal growth!). If Jamie were in the car, I would have made some note about a silly driver. He was not with me. As we get older maybe adults aren’t as good at avoiding temper tantrums as we want to believe. Our triggers simply change.   Acceptable Reasons for Throwing a Temper Tantrum, According to a Toddler “I don’t want a nap!” We have to go to the store. We have to leave the store. My pizza was cut up instead of a whole piece. My pizza was whole instead of cut up. I spilled my milk. Daddy told me no. Daddy didn’t tell me no. But he didn’t directly answer my question, either. I didn’t get a cookie. I wanted juice. I got water. I wanted water. I got juice. Daddy looked at me funny. It’s time to brush my teeth. It’s time to stop doing whatever I was doing. I hit my head. I didn’t get hurt. But coincidentally I also have a captive audience. I’m feeling sadistic. I really really REALLY want to get my way. Acceptable (but not really) Reasons for Throwing a Temper Tantrum, According to an Adult Someone cut me off while driving. The lady checking out in front of me in the “10 items or less” lane has 11 items. I know because I counted. The lady checking out in front of me in the “10 items or less” lane has less than 10 items, but is on her cell phone. The kids sitting in front of us at the movies are talking. The people who walked into the restaurant after us were seated before us. My meat was cooked wrong. My coworker took credit for what I did. I’m going to miss my favorite show. The Cubs lost. (Literally half of Chicagoland could walk around in a funk for this very reason at any given time.) The person next to you hasn’t a square to spare. The reasons change. The reasons become more unique to the...

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Justifications

Justifications

Throughout time, men have given their wives an infinite amount of crap about never being wrong. You know who else is never, ever wrong? Toddlers. Jamie in his young three years of age, is building up quite the streak. Last year I wrote a post about “Again!!” being the most dangerous phrase in the toddler’s vocabulary. Well, if that is the case, then “I was just…” is the most annoying phrase. It has to stop. It’s right up there with “Watch this” for frequency, and it’s engineered to keep a toddler from saying “Yes, daddy,” or “Yes, mommy.” Jamie is a running ball of energy. He probably wouldn’t stick right at my side at the zoo either, but that’s a subject for another blog post. We have to constantly tell him to “Come back here,” or “Don’t do that.” There are times when I feel like these phrases are the only words to ever come out of my mouth. It can be a little trying to say the least. Here’s a little more context on usage. Any time his mother or I ask him to refrain from what he’s doing, “I was just…” is the response, and most of the time he was just doing specifically what we asked him not to do. As in “I was just…playing over there.” Or “I was just climbing this piece of furniture.” Or “I was just sticking my fork up my nose.” While Jamie’s vocabulary is expanding, I feel like mine might be shrinking…down to the few commands I speak in. It’s good to have a child so confident in his actions. It’s good that he is comfortable in his own skin. It’s good to know a human is so perfectly capable of always being right, in all their actions. I was just…wondering at what age it might stop? Four? Five? 21? Until then, all I’m left to do is step back and admire such perfection, in its tiny, 3-foot glory. If you like what you read, please vote for me by clicking the Top Daddy Blog Link below or sharing on social media....

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Who Said It: A 3-Year-Old or a Drunk Person?

Who Said It: A 3-Year-Old or a Drunk Person?

It’s time for a game: Who said it, a 3-year-old or a drunk person? Below are nine quotes. Can you guess which one said it? “When I’m taller, you’ll be little.” “My hair looks, like, amazing.” “Come sing Jingle Bells on my pirate ship.” “When your hair turns gray, then you and grandpa will have gray hair.” “I’ll put the little baby on my back.” “I just want to look at daddy.” Given as a reason for repeatedly getting out of bed and coming into the front room after bedtime. Not even mommy says this. “I can’t wait for my birthday so I can be born.” “Is she a dinosaur?” Referring to the lady sharing a grocery store aisle with my son. “I just want to sing to the blinds.” Answers 1) My son. 2) My son. 3) My son 4) My son. 5) My son. 6) My son. 7) My son. 8) My son. 9) Me in college. And my 3-year-old son, many years later. No paternity test needed. These are all things a drunk person is perfectly capable of saying, but that’s not where I heard them. For a long time I’ve considered myself an on-the-fence fiction writer. I’d love to give it a try at some point, and just never have. Even in my best moments of inspiration however, I don’t think I could pen these kinds of lines. They’re beautiful in their innocence. They’re perfect in their delivery. They’re given with a charming toddler smile that makes him look like he’s practicing to get out of traffic tickets when he’s old enough to drive. They’re delivered when he’s goofing around lightheartedly, and when he’s about to find himself in trouble. I’ve found myself laughing uncontrollably and then saying: “Don’t do that” way too many times. Trust me, it’s not an effective parenting technique. Humble Beginnings Let’s face it, infants aren’t very communicative. They poop. They cry. They’re hungry. They cry. They are hot or cold – you guessed it, they cry. That’s instinct. But that cute infant smile, and the ability to charm – that part is learned. When kids learn to talk, the dynamic for parents shifts away from pure life sustainment. But that ability to talk doesn’t mean they’ll immediately be able to discuss the merits of Donald versus Hillary, or pass a logic class. Sometimes their communications experiments manifest in tantrums. Other times what comes out doesn’t make a lick of sense in the adult world, but it is imaginative and golden. I’d rather sing to the blinds, or sing Jingle Bells on a pirate ship than have an adult conversation about this presidential election. They brazenly point out that they’ll likely grow taller than you some day and they have...

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Rationalizing with a Tiny Human

Rationalizing with a Tiny Human

Going on trips with a toddler can be hard work. When my son is strapped into his seat and says he wants to get down from here, I’m the one trying to rationalize that we’ll be there shortly. Just sit tight. He’s the one looking at me like I have three heads. His look says it all: “Why can’t you just let me scream?” “Are we there yet??” “I have to go to the bathroom.” “I’m hungry. I want food!” “I WANNA GET OUTTAAA HEEEEEEREE!!!!!!!!” Then I realize it’s my fault for trying to rationalize with a tiny human. The solo run to the store for a few things before the trip starts can feel like the true vacation. While we have no immediate plans for a trip this summer, I found myself taking up new hobbies, and finding occasional enjoyment in previously menial activities. A few minutes in silence is the new vacation for a parent. Getting out for a few minutes while your toddler is throwing a temper tantrum, making some of the loudest noises in the world, or watching the same episode of Mickey Mouse or Paw Patrol for the 50th time can be just what the doctor ordered. I will take a brief moment to assure those in the “enjoy every moment” crowd, that I do, to the extent possible. My son is 3, and is capable of following the worst temper tantrums in the world with a giant hug and saying “Love you daddy.” That’s a hug that makes the worse days feel so much better. But I will also tell you I had no idea that Cheerios instead of pancakes for breakfast could be cause for laying down on the floor, flailing your legs, and crying loud enough for the neighbors to hear. These are noises people who aren’t parents would not think humans are capable of making. Being around people who act like a lit firecracker and are incapable of logical thought, can be tiring – no matter how much you just want to pinch their cheeks. That’s why we have headphones, and that’s why we have doors on bedrooms. Parenting is one giant ball of contradictions. It is possible to experience the highest levels of agitation and love within moments of each other. Who knew.    ...

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The Table at the End of the Hall

The Table at the End of the Hall

Parenting is being relegated to eating anything with an ounce of taste at the back of the hallway, with the lights off, especially if it is not what my son is eating at any given time. My 3-year-old can eat a lot, but when it comes to the basics, he’s no different than any other toddler, which is to say that his least favorite meal is the one that is in front of him. Toddlers have a way of turning you into a short order cook. Then, there are the other impacts of sweets right before bed for a toddler: Sugar can delay bedtime by hours. This is a scientific fact. The dog is already running from end to end of the house, panting really hard. We wouldn’t want him to take my son down, while doing the same thing. Mainly, and I can’t stress these reasons enough: dad just doesn’t want to deal with the cleanup of a messy kid, the aftereffects of a sugar high, or sharing the single serving he brought out of the kitchen. In order to prevent these things from happening, and in order to prevent the glaring look from a mom struggling at mealtime, I grab my after dinner treat and make my way to the furthest point in the house, careful to be stealth. When kids get older, they’re the ones who do the sneaking around. But in the formative years, it’s the parents. The other day, I disregarded my own advice and sat down with a piece of my son’s leftover birthday cake while he was still eating his peanut butter and jelly sandwich for lunch. Before I could get a bite into my mouth, my meal partner became extremely vocal. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy!” “Yes?” “What’s that?” “Mashed potatoes.” I don’t advocate lying to your children. I don’t advocate it because it’s a necessity, and I’m sure any parent of a toddler has done it at some time or another. When toddlers ask a question, there’s generally a 100 percent chance that the anticipated answer is going to set them off. It’s also worth noting that mashed potatoes are Jamie’s least favorite meal. When we explained the concept of Thanksgiving to him, and what would be on the menu, he followed up with “No like mashed potatoes,” every single time. So would a toddler just accept that I’m eating his least favorite food, no questions asked? “Noooooo,” I had been made. He knew I wasn’t preparing to stuff my mouth with his least favorite Thanksgiving delicacy. “That looks like birthday party.” Party, cake, find the hidden meaning in a 3-year-old’s sentence. “Hey, I want birthday party!” “You had your birthday party a...

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