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Thursday, July 19th, 2012
This past weekend my son Jack and I were out behind the house and he saw a pipe dripping water.
In the normal way that a toddler feels it’s necessary to shout out every noun they recognize, or think they recognize, he proclaimed,
It was just days before that I had published the oversharenting-laced Toddler Potty Training 101: Father To Son, in which told how I am currently psychologically potty training my son by letting him watch me go potty.
If you haven’t read it yet, I invite you to. Especially if you want to feel a little bit awkward.
But it’s not like my son’s Elmo Goes Potty book gets very specific in showing little boys exactly how to go pee-pee. And if it did, that would be more than creepy.
Clearly, it’s my job to teach my son by example on this. Have you noticed how little printed info there is on a father teaching his toddler son to go potty?
I did. That’s why I wrote about it. I think it’s one of those things that is normal in the household but remains largely unspoken.
Needless to say, I have little shame when it comes to oversharenting.
But I think it’s because I just deem it as self-deprecation; which scores you “cool points” in today’s world of parenting.
While some parents oversharent by giving an hour-by-hour status update on their kid’s wet and dirty diapers, when I oversharent, it tends to either involve me being weird, like scaring my son with a Spiderman mask… or it involves him pointing (and laughing) at me in my birthday suit.
When I oversharent, I try to make sure it doesn’t revolve around my son, but instead, my own feelings of inadequacy or habits of non-kosher behavior, as a dad .
I’ll make fun of myself all day long, but it’s important to me that I don’t harmfully overexpose my son or my wife; despite sharing them with the world in 400 words 6 days a week.
Granted, Jack isn’t even 2 years old yet. It’s not like he’s going to remember any of this anyway.
I was recently asked if I’ve ever thought about how one day my son will be old enough to read what I write about him and that he might be embarrassed by it.
No, I haven’t really thought about it. But no, I don’t think he’ll be ashamed, either.
Not at all.
In fact, I think of how cool it would have been had blogging existed in December 1982 when I myself was only 20 months old.
I mean, I do have this awesomely retro picture below to speak a thousand words for me.
But I think my son will totally dig the fact that those “unrememberable” first years of his life will be preserved like Han Solo in carbonite. The funny things he does now, like think that a dripping pipe is going pee-pee, are innocently humorous and normal for his age.
Not strange or shameful or unmentionable. Not destined for censorship; not even by my son a decade from now.
If I thought something might embarrass my wife, or eventually my son, I simply wouldn’t write about it.
For me, that’s actually what constitutes as crossing the line.
I’m here to embarrass myself when applicable, not them. But even then, I’m wondering if I can actually embarrass myself in my oversharenting.
I have yet to reach the point of shame.
Stay tuned, though. I’m sure I can at least come close.
Especially as we venture further into potty training.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Home Life, Must Read, Nostalgia, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: Elmo, funny, oversharenting, potty training, TMI
Thursday, July 19th, 2012
I have always felt very strongly against allowing my son to watch TV before the age of 2 years old.
Yes, I am one of those quirky parents who believes there is a link between boys under the age of 2 watching TV daily and Autism.
As a father of a little boy, I am very aware that boys are 4 times more likely to be diagnosed with Autism than girls.
While I know there are many factors as to why, it’s interesting to point out that males compartmentalize their thoughts separately from each other, while females constantly intersect theirs.
That explains why when you ask a guy what he is thinking and he says “nothing,” he is probably telling the truth. Because he is currently in his “nothing box.”
But if my understanding about females is correct, they can never truly “think about nothing” the way males can.
In other words, by default, the male mind already works like a TV. If he needs to think about a different subject, he has to change the channel in his head to that subject first. But the female mind works more like a laptop computer with at least 8 windows up and running at all times.
She is used to the constant multitasking in her brain. Meanwhile, guys are built to be task-orientated, so they stay on that certain channel until the job is done, or change the channel and come back to it later, as if during the commercial break.
The theory is that during those very crucial first two years of a boy’s life, he is still developing his “how to properly change the channel in his head” ability.
So a boy who is exposed to a TV during that crucial time of development, with changing channels, switching camera angles, and no natural pauses in conversation, can get confused and the channels in his head start changing on their own.
Another reason I am convinced of this theory is explained in an article for Slate Magazine, where it is revealed that the reported number of Autistic cases shot up in 1980 (just a few months before I was born), when cable TV and VCR’s became easily accessible in American households.
The number of Autism cases were higher in states where the weather was gloomier (like Oregon and Washington) where children were more likely to stay inside and watch TV.
Interestingly, cases of Autism are nearly non-existent in Amish communities where TV’s are nowhere to be found.
I also support this article in Time magazine which says that TV cuts down on a toddler’s “talk time,” according to pediatricians.
Well, my son is now 20 months old; that’s just 4 months away from that “TV is now safe” milestone of 2 years old. So recently, I have been more flexible on his exposure to TV.
He’s still very obsessed with Elmo. Fate would have it that Sesame Street is on now Netflix’s live streaming. (We don’t have cable or a satellite.)
One of his new routines is for me to turn on Sesame Street in the morning while he plays with his toys or the Wii remote. I keep the volume very low as to not interrupt any conversation between the two of us.
The funny thing is, he doesn’t actually watch the show. He totally doesn’t have the attention span for that right now.
All he really wants to do is just point at the screen every once and while and say “Elmo” or “dog” or “noodle,” referring to Mr. Noodle in the Elmo’s World segment.
My son likes the idea of watching TV, but when given the chance, he doesn’t actually watch it.
Here’s the twist: I really look forward to the day he does want to. I haven’t watched a Disney Pixar movie since Toy Story 2 came out on DVD like a decade ago.
I have a lot of catching up to do!
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
A year and a half.
It’s funny to see how your toddler will eagerly mimic and go along with just about anything you do, assuming you are teaching him or her a lesson in what it’s like to be a normal human being.
Because after all, isn’t that sort of what we’re doing as parents- giving our kids “how to be human” lessons each day?
After all, we undoubtedly instill our own family culture into our kids; even if we as the parents are not necessarily aware what our micro-culture even is.
I’m trying to think of some examples of micro-culture in our household, but not for the average American family.
Well, for starters, our son believes that prunes are a delicious dessert. (We deprive the kid of fruit juice, so to him, the sweetness of dried plums taste pretty awesome!)
Jack asks to be pulled in his wagon around the neighborhood; not as a recreational activity, but as a mini-sabbatical.
He thinks that cleaning and doing housework, like vacuuming, is a treat.
Part of our morning routine is that Jill lets him take all the caps off the perfume and cologne bottles; making it his duty to smell each one of them. (That explains why he often smells extremely masculine or feminine each morning on his way to daycare.)
There’s the fact that my wife and I realized it will be a while before we can upgrade from our modest 31 inch screen TV, so we pulled out our blow-up mattress to lay down on to watch Lost on. Hey, if we can’t make the TV bigger, we can at least make it seem bigger, right? Anyway, Jack has assumed it’s his new play mat.
Oh, and then there’s the exercise video with accompanying exercise step…
My wife’s exercise step has been a sporadic toy choice for Jack over the past month or so. Sometimes during playtime he grunts and points to the closet.
That’s my cue to take it out for him and let him “walk the plank.” Evidently it’s a lot of fun when you’re 18 months-old.
By going along with the idea that an exercise step is a kids’ toy, I reinforce his preconceived idea that this is normal.
Last Saturday, while wearing his (in)famous plaid romper, he decided to join Jill in a work-out video in the convenience of our living room thanks to Netflix on our Wii, called Dance Off the Inches: Calorie Blasting.
If only Elmo had his very own dance video for toddlers…
Jack thinks dancing to an exercise video is normal for an 18 month-old. And I allow him to.
Too bad he has to learn how to be a normal human being from me. My feet may be on the ground, but my head is always in the clouds.
Categories: Deep Thoughts, Growing Up, Must Read, Nostalgia, People, Story Bucket, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: dance video, dancing, Elmo, kids' songs, musical, singing, songs, toddler
Monday, May 21st, 2012
A year and a half.
I had never taken care of my son Jack overnight without my wife Jill being there.
It’s not something I was worried about; I knew I could handle Jill’s day and half business trip to Washington, DC.
Feeding him dinner, bathing him, putting him to bed, handling breakfast the next morning, packing all his stuff for daycare, then dinner and bedtime again.
That’s all I had to handle; in the midst of also picking up my wife’s goodies for Mother’s Day.
So in reality, how did it go? Did I manage it okay?
Uh, yeah. Actually, it was a little too easy.
I didn’t want to wife to know that, though. I didn’t want her to learn that I was able to get him to sleep earlier and quicker than normal. And that I was able to leave the house the next morning about 10 minutes earlier, too.
Not to mention, bath time was a breeze. Jack and I had a lot of fun squirting each other with his bath toys. Before we both knew it, he was sparkly clean and he was pleasantly eager to fall asleep.
This situation reminded me of an article my wife had read which explained that a child is often the most difficult and high maintenance with the parent who he or she was closest to in infancy. After this event, I could see that.
That’s not to say we didn’t both miss her very much. He definitely kept asking “Mama?” while she was gone.
But he seemed to understand as I would explain that Mommy would be back the next day.
I told Jill how I was looking forward to the look on his face when he woke up Saturday morning and saw that she was back. We both had high expectations.
At 6:23 AM on Saturday Jill and I woke up to Jack’s usual hilarious monologue consisting of animal sounds and calls for Elmo. Together, we snuck in his bedroom.
He was standing up, hanging on to the rail of his bed, with his diaper off and a puddle of pee on the carpet below. (That has never happened before!)
Jack was in a weird daze. He seemed apathetic to the fact that Mommy was back, despite my own proclamations of excitement for him.
We travelled to The Pfunky Griddle to have breakfast with Henry’s family and then to another of his toddler friend’s birthday parties.
It wasn’t until the middle of the afternoon that Jack warmed back up to her. I could tell it sort of hurt my wife’s feelings because he wasn’t acting happy that she was back. Actually, I was pretty bummed for her.
I certainly didn’t want to rub it in that things went so well while she was gone. So I did the only thing I knew to do: Let things work themselves out on their own.
By the next day, Jack was whining for Mommy again.
But something tells me that my son’s cold welcome back to Mommy isn’t so unique of an experience in the world of parenting. I bet there’s some psychology behind it that someone smarter than myself could explain; or at least someone else who can relate to this seemingly unusual story.
[Passes the mic to the audience.]
Friday, April 27th, 2012
It all started when my wife Jill made up a bedtime song for Jack, which featured that famous furry red monster on Jack’s diaper.
From there, Jack started asking for Elmo by name; though his pronounced version sounded more like “M’elmo.”
Jack has a plush alien toy that he halfway assumed was Elmo (featured above), but I wasn’t able to put that off very long. Once that proved to be a bust, Jack started falling asleep in his crib while holding an Elmo diaper; the kind featured below.
Plus, whenever he saw a pictures of frogs in a book, though he knew the actual word frog, he started citing them, “Elmo?”
We decided it was time to buy him a small, simple, licensed Elmo doll. But actually finding one proved to be as about as difficult as finding a Tickle Me Elmo during the Christmas of 1996.
You would think finding a simply plush Elmo doll under 10 bucks would be pretty easy. Nope.
Last Sunday afternoon we travelled to Walmart, Babies “R” Us, and Target. While they did have the 9 inch tall Grover as well as some yellow mohawked version of Telly for $7.99, none of the stores had Elmo!
Thanks to Amazon.com, Jill was able to find Elmo for double the proper price, by the time shipping was thrown in.
I’ll go ahead and say it: We became “those parents” during the three days it to took for Elmo to arrive.
It was the kind of material that would have made for yet another clever episode of the flawless TV show, Up All Night.
Throughout the Elmo anticipation, Jill would text me updates on where Elmo was at that moment:
Jill: “The tracking # shows Elmo is leaving Sarasota today!”
Me: “Wow! That’s great news. Can’t wait to see Jack’s reaction…”
I kept reminding myself of the possible reality that when the “real Elmo” finally arrived, Jack might not be that impressed.
Well, it’s only been a few days since the moment Jack officially met Elmo (featured right) and I think it’s safe to say that we made a solid $15 investment.
After all, Elmo already has a spaghetti sauce stain on his eyes. Jack has to be holding Elmo at all times in the car, during meals, and in his crib.
So, how will Jack and Elmo’s bromantic friendship flourish? Well, just keep an eye on how many pictures in upcoming Dadabase posts feature Elmo somewhere in view.
That’s how we’ll know.
At this point, I don’t believe Jack really understands why he’s supposed to love Elmo so much; but if for no other reason than to appease his hip parents.
He just goes along with it.
Categories: Must Read, Nostalgia, Storytelling, The Dadabase | Tags: amazon.com, diapers, Elmo, funny, Nostalgia, Sarasota, Sesame Street, toddler