Happy Thanksgiving Probably From Now Until Christmas

Happy Thanksgiving Probably From Now Until Christmas

Happy Thanksgiving a day early, from a 2-year-old who says he wants turkey and carrots, but is emphatic about not wanting mashed potatoes. “I really, really don’t like mashed potatoes,” he insists. As his parents, I can assure you he is not divulging new information, but rather information he deems highly important. We’ve learned the hard way a number of times about his disdain for mashed potatoes. Now, Thanksgiving comes with a tinge of anxiety about being fed a food he doesn’t like. More food for dad. We began the process of telling him about the holiday at the beginning of the week, and now it is his sole focus. Yesterday morning he was upset with his mother when she informed him he could not “have Thanksgiving” for breakfast. He wanted carrots and Chex mix. He’s still pretty iffy about the idea of turkey, but is greatly looking forward to the stuffing. I am really excited to hear Jamie’s recipe for cooking a turkey some day, but so far he just says “I don’t know,” when asked. I am sure there will be some interesting answers (that will ensure he will stay away from the stove a long, long time) on that front. It’s no surprise he is obsessing over this week’s holiday. Up until a few days ago, he’s still been asking if he can trick or treat at the neighbor’s houses. I’m convinced the world would be a better place if you could randomly trick or treat from any given neighbor on any given day of the year. I like Jamie’s rendition of Halloween, but unfortunately it’s not how it works. He’ll probably want to “Have Thanksgiving” for quite a few days into December, but he’s already sensing Christmas. I recently put up a pine tree air freshener in my car and every time he gets in with me he tells me how much he loves my Christmas tree. He’ll probably join the legions who want to celebrate this holiday before we pick the next. People celebrating birthdays around Jamie will appreciate this extended celebratory attitude that he has. His mother’s birthday extended for a few extra days. He even asked his mother a day early if she had her birthday card. Suffice it to say I won’t be doing my Christmas shopping with Jamie in...

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The World According to a Toddler

The World According to a Toddler

The world is a complicated place. I’m not even talking about what’s going on in the Middle East. I’m talking about what’s going on under my own roof, and the perceptions of a 2-year-old. Here are 17 of the most ridiculous things my toddler believes: When dad tells him mommy’s not home, it’s a challenge. If he stands at the top of the stairs and yells “MOMMMMMYYYYYY WHERE ARRRRRRRRE YOOOOOOOUUUUU?????” loud enough and long enough, he might just get the answer he was hoping for. Open doors were meant to close. Closed doors were meant to open. Ceiling fans are sky spiders. Loud jets are sky monsters. All movies and television are animated. If it’s not animated, it’s a commercial, and we need to go back to previous programming. If he screams “I DONT WANT TO GO PEEPEE!!” loud enough, we won’t take him to the bathroom, or he will no longer need to go. It’s unclear as to which. People who sit at the dinner table and eat something different than what you are eating are inherently evil. Mom and dad had a lifetime of privacy. Why should they be entitled to any more? How crazy is it that it could be snowing at the front of the house and the back of the house at the same time? Apparently very crazy. Just because he ate it and loved it yesterday, doesn’t mean he won’t kick and scream and throw a tantrum to avoid eating it today. Any major sporting event on TV is the best time possible to convey “I WANNA WATCH A MOVIEEE!!!!” over and over at least 200 times. This is especially true for Blackhawks playoffs, Cubs playoffs, and Bears games. The more questionable the taste, the better the food looks on the ground. The most fun things to play with: cords, outlets, boxes, packaging, or anything that shouldn’t be on the floor. Then toys. Books are fun. Especially when you can rip, bend or pull out the pages. They need to be interactive. Someone may walk up at any given point and ask them if they want to hear the most obnoxious sound in the world. Screams need to be practiced and perfected to be ready for that moment. The best way to show affection for someone is to touch the grossest thing possible, and then touch their face. Bonus! My toddler also believes that an obese man with a red suit and a grey beard is going to squeeze through a small hole in our roof to give him presents. It gets richer and richer, and some of these things you just can’t correct. Not...

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Notes From the Head of the Household

Notes From the Head of the Household

As head of the household, there were a few things I wanted to convey. So I hijacked dad’s blog to do it. It really is a nice life, this being a toddler. No matter what I do, no matter what kind of mess I make, there’s always someone there to clean it up. Let’s call them the servants. They try to pressure me, persuade me to clean my mess up-but I smile, laugh, feign a lacking vocabulary, and slowly back away. What they don’t know is I’ve been silently paying attention to every conversation they’ve had, since I was a tad over six months old. I understand what they are talking about. When they ask me to clean something up, I simply shake my head. “Me? Do any kind of household work?” I scoff to myself “Of course not. There’s plenty of time for that later. I’m 2.” My dad thinks playing “blocks away” as he likes to put it, will be as fun as actually playing blocks. Not without a little imagination. That’s why I like to turn it into a high stakes basketball game and pretend I’m Shaquille O’Neil from the free throw line, with a less than 50 percent free throw average. One at a time, I either make them in the box, or I don’t. I can milk this game for the rest of the night, given the option. Funny thing – dad thinks he’s the head of the household, but mom and I know better. He might not even be the head servant, but I’ll leave that for mom to decide. Just the other day I had dad running to the fridge three times to find me more to eat with dinner. He kept asking for specifics, but the simple demand “MORE FOOOOOD!!!” kept him busy for a while, while I smiled at mom. Dad laughs and jokes that he is going to hand the phone to me when the next telemarketer calls, asking for the head of the household, but I think he laughs because he knows it’s true. If he didn’t laugh he’d probably cry. What they don’t understand is that I’m bored. The toys, books, movies, dog, cat and other distractions around here simply aren’t enough. When I dump my blocks on the ground, I want to play with my crayons. When my crayons hit the floor there’s nothing left to do but ask the servants read books. Sometimes I feel like they don’t really understand me, but that’s not my problem. I simply resort to a handy temper tantrum. Every kid should know how to throw one. It’s not just dad. Sometimes mommy likes to remind me that she’s in...

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In Search of Answers

In Search of Answers

Right now Jamie’s biggest concerns are what he is going to eat for dinner and alerting his parents before bowel movements. After all, he’s 2. The food he wanted 30 seconds ago may no longer be a suitable choice for his refined palate. Mustering up the volume and tears is the best way for him to convey the urgency when it comes to telling his parents about the need to pee. But things are changing. The continuous influx of “Why?” assures us of that. The phase of parenting that is solely about sustaining life is over. It’s about building up interests and explaining the world. People, books and cartoons shape his world. It’s about fostering a natural sense of curiosity at a young age. Today, the questions aren’t so complicated. But the world will continue to be a more complicated place by the time he wants to know about it. On a good day, I wonder how to explain that the local baseball team hasn’t won a World Series in 100 years, and just how long of time that is. I wonder how to explain that people can make religious judgments based on the decoration of a coffee cup. I wonder how to explain why hot dogs and hot dog buns aren’t sold in equal amounts. These things confound me. But the bad days…they are so much more than I could ever imagine. I know I will probably spout off about walking to school uphill both ways through the snow with no shoes. It’s the parenting right of passage. But I don’t really believe that I had it tougher anymore. I’m 35 years old, and thought of terrorism only in the abstract until 9/11 (I was 21.). There were people who wanted to see Westerners dead before then, but the danger remained far away and illusive. I felt reassurance as a child that no war has been fought on U.S. soil since the Civil War. While that still remains the case, it’s apparent we are no longer immune to the world’s threats. I don’t know how to explain the thousands of senseless deaths in the historical event that defines the world for my generation, and I definitely don’t know how to explain the needless violence in Paris yesterday. I don’t know how to explain that more people have died for religion throughout the course of history than any other cause, and yet Jesus taught us to love. How do you explain what doesn’t make sense? And that walk to school…How do I explain there is evil out there bent on taking the most innocent of lives? This too is a concept I have only had to think about in the...

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A Table for Three

A Table for Three

“Is there anything else I can get for you?” the server asked. “MORE FOOOOOD!!!!” This wasn’t the response of some blowhard patron, unburdened by the convention of treating wait staff with human decency. It’s the response of a hungry 2-year-old who doesn’t care that dinner cannot be materialized from the ether. It’s not a one-time occurrence. It’s every time we go to a restaurant. The waiters and waitresses smile and walk away at this point, too polite to outwardly acknowledge the outburst (at least in our presence). After all, he’s 2, but it sure makes the food come faster. You’d be surprised how little time it actually takes to cook up some restaurant food, even during the busy times. All you need to do to discover this, is bring a hungry toddler. When I was a smoker many years ago, I believed lighting a cigarette could make the meal appear faster. When I quit smoking, I figured a trip to the bathroom would do the trick. Now that I’m a parent I realize it’s bringing a tiny human that is the golden ticket to a shorter wait. The restaurant staff is always courteous and personable, but they recognize a ticking time bomb when they see one. Much to Jamie’s chagrin, the meals don’t appear out of the ether, and that means mom and dad are tasked with keeping a 2-year-old occupied. This whole fatherhood thing has upped my tic-tac-toe game, especially when my opponent cannot draw the requisite Xs and Os. My other options are to hand the crayons over to the kid for more refrigerator art, or listen to the same soundtrack of urgent requests for more food. We sometimes have a random assortment of toys with us in a bag, or Meg’s purse if the menu activities aren’t up to snuff. The speed of the dining process typically stalls out when his meal arrives. It’s well documented that toddlers are picky, messy eaters. I could’ve written this entire blog post while he ate his meal. If I didn’t move the process along, he might be eating last night’s dinner tonight. On a quiet night, you might be able to hear the “No! No! No! No! No!” chant coming from the far west suburbs of Chicago. That’s Jamie shaking his head while we try to feed him something he told us was good 30 seconds earlier. One other thing about restaurant meals. When we had a table for two, it was often an intimate experience, depending not the restaurant. Now, it is an outgoing and extroverted experience. People who were strangers before the meal are waving and conversing with Jamie by the end. He has an outgoing personality. There is no...

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The Real Problem With Juvenile Humor

The Real Problem With Juvenile Humor

Want to hear a knock knock joke as told by a 2-year-old? Jamie: knock knock. (Hitting the table and smiling.) Me: Who’s there? Jamie: MMMMMMMEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!! So the sophistication isn’t quite there yet, but the enthusiasm came in spades. It isn’t even my son’s first attempt at humor. I don’t even remember how it began, but my son has been obsessed with sneezes. Once he observed the “bless you” response, he began fake sneezing. I mean he’d look right at you, smile and just say “AAAAA-CHOOOO!” approximately 50 times consecutively. It became his first attempt to seek a laugh, and sometimes you have to because of how cute it is. This routine evolved into a physical comedy routine that involves sneezing something off of his head. Sometimes he’ll make ridiculously funny/expressive faces that force you to laugh when you see them. He’ll have the ability for physical humor as he grows older, I’m thinking. He knows he’s commanding the attention of the room with these kinds of jokes. He thrives on repetition, which either makes you laugh more, or want to stab your eyeballs out with a butter knife, depending on your mood of course. My son is also incredibly funny, in a way that only a 2-year-old can manage. Like so many of us, the humor comes out in the subtle moments of life, not necessarily when he is in search of a laugh. My son’s humor comes in his attempts to figure out his surroundings. I correctly predicted my problem with toddler humor way before my wife ever became pregnant. It’s the stuff they didn’t necessarily mean to be funny that has me laughing uncontrollably. The problem is that you cannot laugh whole-heartedly and follow up with “Don’t do that” in the same breath. Well you can, but it’s not an effective way to parent. The whole “Do as I say, not as I do” element of parenting must come much later. There are so many genuine toddler moments that make my sense of humor a detriment to my ability to parent. When my only child says he has a sister. When you correct him he argues, and says he got her from his friend. When he cleans his hands at the dinner table by wiping the spaghetti in his hair. When he demonstrates a commanding knowledge of the human anatomy you were not aware he had. When he asks if the older lady at the store is a dinosaur. When “I POOOPED ON GOOFY!!!!” is his way of telling you he had an accident (while wearing Goofy underwear.). When he continuously asks for Halloween candy, cookies or chips for breakfast. Sometimes I need to excuse myself from...

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‘Twas Two Months Before Christmas

‘Twas Two Months Before Christmas

The second those halloween decorations come down, I am in the Christmas spirit. I tell my wife all the time that I wish I could buy 4th Of July sparklers and Christmas garland at the same time. It’s only appropriate. Ok, you caught me. I don’t really tell her that. The red cups are out at Starbucks and the retailers are in high gear. We’re glossing over Thanksgiving when we prepare this early, and more toddlers probably associate the day with Santa Claus than Jesus. I wish more stores were doing what REI is doing on Black Friday – staying home. I’m not even sure what they sell there, but I want some. Anyway, here’s a post halloween Christmas poem for everyone. Enjoy:   ‘Twas Two Months Before Christmas ‘Twas two months before Christmas and all thru the store, shoppers were bustling, and searching for more. All the shelving was stocked with ornaments and wreaths, stressed holiday shoppers searched for fake plastic trees. Then what to my wondering thoughts should come clear? The pressure of Christmas replaced Halloween fear. I wandered the aisles, they were disheveled and strewn, and wished I had Xanax since the day would be here so soon. The Grim Reaper Costume was removed from the shelf, when in its place was a decorative elf. The big event is still months away, but our nation’s economy thrives off this day. To the front lanes we bounded with excitement and glee, shopping carts filled from our capitalist spree. The man in the red suit Could keep the children pleased, with everything imagined soon under our tree. While we sat waiting for Santa sleigh-bound, under the weight of his bag, he soon hit the ground. They offered him pain meds,  clearly in plight. Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night! 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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