Posts Tagged ‘ dad blog ’

Positively Communicating to My Seven Month Old Son

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Seven months.

One of my biggest pet peeves has always been this situation: I’m out in public and see a stranger compliment a young child or baby.  Then the parent responds to the stranger with, “Well you can take him home with you if you like.  He’s a handful.  Nah, he’s pretty good… most of the time.”

I’m not a cursing kind of guy, but just thinking about that scenario makes me want to.  (It also makes me want to break a Two and a Half Men DVD.  But mainly because I hate Two and a Half Men.)

The truth is, I know how to be effectively sarcastic.  After all, I write a weekly Bachelor/Bachelorette recap every Monday night.  And it’s always very snarky.

But I have a big beef with being sarcastic towards babies and children.  I despise back-handed compliments.  A compliment barbed in an insult or complaint is not a compliment at all.  Constructive criticism is one thing, but sarcastic comments never motivate anyone to improve anything.  Instead, they break a person down.

I worship positive communication; in my marriage, with my friends and family, and even with my infant son who can’t even speak legitimately.

What he hears me say does matter, despite how young he is.  Because if nothing else, I am setting up a pattern of how I will communicate with him as he matures and is able to understand what I am saying.

My wife came up with a good system: We don’t speak to our son in a tone or with words that we would not use to speak to each other.  Because our son is both my wife and me.

Sure, at times our son can frustrate us; especially when we don’t know what he wants or when we can’t get him to sleep.  But it’s a matter of reminding ourselves that A) he didn’t ask to come into this world, B) he can’t communicate how he feels by using words, and C) he’s not trying to offend us.

It’s a matter of feeling sorry for him during these times he frustrates us most.  He needs an “ah, you poor baby” instead of “go to sleep already; you’re driving me crazy!”

Words matter.  They can destroy just as easily as they can heal.  And even for a cheap laugh with a stranger or a friend, I refuse to sell out.

My son is a reward and a joy. Not a joke or a burden.  As his father, I will not always be able to protect him from the cruel and destructive things people will certainly say to him in his lifetime.  But sure as Shazbot, I can be confident he doesn’t hear them from me.

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The Papa Bear in Me: Yes, I’m Overprotective

Friday, July 1st, 2011

Seven months.

It’s a big, dangerous world out there and it’s my job to keep this little bambino safe.  But I must channel my fears into positive, rational energy.

There is plenty of truth in the stereotype that parents are over-protective with their first child. I know, because I’m living it right now. Subconsciously, I preview every potentially dangerous situation for Jack; no matter how improbable.

I am Jack’s protector- I can not let anything bad happen to him. Like Bruce Banner (the Incredible Hulk), I can instantly turn into the biggest beast of a monster in an effort to protect him. So while I am an average-looking, mild-mannered man, all it takes is Jack being in potential danger for me to transform into a potential killing machine.

But what is most relevant is that I prepare for Jack’s safety in every situation. So that I never have to rescue or save him. Being over-protective means preventing dangerous situations; not just worrying about them happening all the time.

For my 10th birthday on April 20th, 1991, my parents bought me exactly what I wanted the most: Bible Adventures, the Nintendo game. (Yes, it actually existed!) The game was modeled after my favorite video game ever, Super Mario Bros. 2, in that you could carry items above your head and throw them at enemies.

The most interesting (and disturbing!) thing in Bible Adventures was that if you played as Moses’ sister Miriam, you held baby Moses over your head and for some unexplainable reason, if you pressed the B button, you would throw the infant Moses onto the ground…

Miraculously, he would never be injured; whether you tossed him onto the hard concrete sidewalk, on top of a giant mutant spider, directly into a guard throwing spears, or into the river. But I was a 10 year-old boy, so I didn’t let the physical practicality or the Biblical incorrectness of the game bother me too much. But I did have a lot of fun repeatedly throwing baby Moses onto the sidewalk and watching him bounce, cry for a second, then instantly start smiling again. Needless to say, Bible Adventures did not receive the Nintendo Seal of Approval.

Since the day Jack was born, I have always been fearful that I will drop him; knowing that unlike the invincible Nintendo version of baby Moses, my son would not simply bounce and smile afterwards. So now that he is beginning to crawl, it means I carry him around less. Which means I worry less about dropping him, and more about him getting into all kinds of other troubles.

With good reason, I worry about him drowning, being run over by a car, getting electrocuted, choking, falling, getting attacked by a dog, or maybe even getting swooped up by a long-lost pterodactyl. It even scares me to type my fears aloud, even if the last one was a joke.

I am the Papa Bear. I will do whatever it takes to protect Mama Bear and Baby Bear. Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.

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Dads are From Neptune, Moms are From Pluto

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Seven months.

The DadabaseWhat do some parenting blog titles reveal about certain insecurities that we may have as parents?

Back in March when I was trying to figure out what I was going to rename this dad blog for Parents.com, obviously the first thing I did was to Google-skim (I made that word up but I assume you’re hip enough to get it) the Internet for inspiration and to check out my competition… I mean, my… fellow dad bloggers.  During my 43 minutes of research, I picked up on blog name patterns for both dad bloggers and mommy bloggers.

The dad bloggers who were more vulnerable and self-depreciating with their blog names often focused on the fact that they didn’t know what they were doing, with titles like “Rookie Dad,” “Thingmababy,” “Daddy Knows Less,” and “Daddy’s In Charge?”.

Meanwhile, their mom blogging counterparts often focused on their attempts to organize the chaos of motherhood with “Three Kid Circus,” “And Then She Snapped,” “I Want a Nap,” “The Tightrope Walk,” “The Life of a Juggling Mom,” and “Cinderella is Falling Down.”

If I were to extract the assumed meaning of this particular pattern I discovered, it would be this: Dads want to be helpful and productive, but don’t necessarily know what to do by instinct.  And moms more instinctively know what to do, but they just don’t always have enough energy, “sanity”, and/or time in the day to get it done.

So I assume if these characteristics are at least somewhat true for those of us who blog about our daily parenting experiences, they are typically just as true for the parents who don’t blog about it.  There’s a reason why these blog titles I’ve mentioned do indeed ring true with readers.

Evidently, dads have the energy, sanity and time to get the job done, but not the know-how.  Conversely, moms have the know-how, but again, not the energy, sanity, and/or time in the day to do it.  As dad-and-mom teams, we have everything we need to pull this thing off.  It’s a matter of working together to win this three legged race.  Actually, we don’t even need to win the race; all we have to do is run it.

Or hop it.  Or walk it… whatever it takes for the family to move forward, together.

How can you enhance your own parenting skills today? Communication: Ask your spouse for help and be vulnerable enough to tell him or her the ways you feel sub-par as a co-parent. By nature, it’s easy to want to help someone who is being humble enough to ask for your help than someone who is complaining for lack of it.

I guarantee that your spouse abounds in the things you lack as a parent.  And have this conversation with them: Acknowledge that one of you often feels like a third wheel who tries to contribute in caring for your child, but often gets discouraged by not having the instincts to know what to do when it comes to parenting.  And that the other person often feels overwhelmed by the never-ending list of stuff that needs to get done. Then work out a plan accordingly. Then act on it.

We can allow ourselves to remain frustrated by our deficiencies or we can celebrate and make good use of each other’s goods and services.  As for me, I’ll always choose working smart over working hard. And working smart, in this instance, means confessing my weaknesses so that my strengths can be best utilized in both marriage and parenting.

All pictures were taken courtesy of Dave Stanley at Little River Falls in Fort Payne, Alabama.

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Baby-proofing the House: What Would Jack Do?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Seven months.

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In every situation, before every action, I must ask myself, “W.W.J.D?”  No, I don’t need a bracelet to remind myself to consider what Jack would do.  Now that he is crawling, and therefore exploring the new world, I am overly aware of all the trouble that Jack can get himself into.  Because granted, by law of babyhood, a baby boy will without exception gravitate towards the item of the most potential danger.

Why would Jack want to be entertained by an age-appropriate singing toy when he can get his hands into my laptop cords?  Why would he choose to simply play with a paper towel roll when he could eat it (!) instead?  Yeah, needless to say, after one solid week of enjoyment, Jack’s beloved paper towel roll as made its way into that glorious toy box in the sky.  He only ate part of it, but still, he ate part of it!

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Jack with his Pappy and Nonna (my parents) on Memorial Day 2011.

By default, Jack chooses the most dangerous option over any safe one every time.  Therefore, I must do his decision making for him.  Not only must I intervene on a moment-to-moment basis, but I must also put my future-predicting skills to good use.  I must prevent the accident before it happens.  And I must do this constantly.

We recently had to officially lower his crib because not only did he begin bumping his head on the rail by pulling himself up, but also because we wouldn’t put it past him to be able to climb up his crib and fall out on the ground.

One morning last week, Jack and I were awake before Jill.  As a joke, I lifted him out of the crib and let him start crawling. He crawled out of his bedroom and past the doorway of our bedroom. Jill’s instincts kicked in: She instantly woke up when she heard him crawl up to the doorway.

My plan worked: She thought Jack actually escaped the crib on his own! The prank was successful and boy was I cool.

But while it was a tad far-fetched that Jack would escape his crib unharmed, it’s not that impossible knowing Jack.  He’s sort of an escape artist.

I know every parent believes their kid is the smartest ever; and I’m no different.  But the boy seriously impresses me in his ability to figure stuff out without assistance from his parents. He’s large for his age, he’s strong, and he loves to explore.

Lesson learned: Never underestimate the ability of Jack. That includes him eating cardboard.

In Memorandum

Jack’s paper towel roll toy

June 16, 2011 – June 24, 2011

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Jack’s New Cousin has Arrived!

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Seven months.

A new character joined the cast of The Dadabase this week…

I’ve been mentioning that my sister, Dana, and her husband, Andrew, have been expecting their first child: due July 2nd.  Well, July 2nd came early this year… because at 2:07 AM this Tuesday morning (June 21st), my sister gave birth to her baby girl.  She weighs 6.1 pounds and is 19.5 inches long.

Jack has always been a big boy and he’s all I know when it comes to babies.  After seeing and holding my sister’s newborn daughter, it is apparent she will always be a petite little girl.  How appropriate- she will have a strong, protective cousin to watch out for her; even if the two cousins never really look anything alike.

On my side of the family, the only cousins Jack will have are through my sister and her husband, since I don’t have another sibling.  (Of course, this is not the case with my wife’s side of the family, since she is number 9 of 10 kids!) So this is Jack’s first cousin through the Shell side of the family and this means I am officially an uncle, through blood.

For the past seven months, my brother-in-law Andrew has filled the typical uncle role.  He knows how to make Jack laugh better than anyone else. He’s the fun uncle.  Now, I get to be a fun(ny) uncle to his daughter.

Have you noticed yet that I haven’t given the name of Jack’s new cousin?  If not, that means I’m doing a good job of my goal.  Whereas I plaster Jack’s name all over every post I write and have no reservations in making it public, I respect my sister and her husband’s decision to keep their daughter’s name semi-private; meaning I don’t include it on The Dadabase.

It makes me wonder, though, in the likeness of the name “Emma” gaining popularity because of the sitcom Friends, if the name would at all increase in popularity if it was featured in a Parents.com blog.  Because right now the name is virtually unused- the last time it even made an appearance on any kind of popularity chart was the 1880’s.

“Emma” was the 13th most popular girl’s name in 2001.  Then the following year Rachel named her daughter Emma on Friends.  Unsurprisingly, Emma was the 4th most popular girl’s name of 2002.  And every year since then, it has either been the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd most popular girl’s name.

Well I know I can pull this off.  I can feature Jack’s new cousin in my stories without ever saying her name or even using her initials.  It wasn’t until I had seen the movie Fight Club about a dozen times before I realized that you never actually know the narrator and main character’s name.

So this won’t be the first time a story is told without revealing a main character’s name.  What actually matters are the stories.  And for a guy who never suffers from writer’s block, I know I can provide the stories.

Unnecessary Bonus:

To cut down on reader confusion in regards to the resemblance that my brother-in-law Andrew (featured two pictures above this one) and I share,  I shaved my head this week. People are constantly mistaking us for each other.  So I hope the buzz cut helps.

That’s not really why I did it.  I mainly just liked the idea of saving 15 bucks instead of paying for a real haircut.  Plus, I probably subconsciously wanted to be as cool as Bachelorette contestant J.P. Rosenbaum.

JP Rosenbaum Jewish

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