There are certain rules that must be followed as a part of the Shell home:
Take your shoes off at the door. Don’t leave dirty dishes in the sink. Make your bed before you leave for the day.
But there is one in particular that is especially important to me:
In our house, when you need a listening ear, someone to hear your problems and help by being there for you, you got it.
But to whine for no legitimate reason? Not acceptable.
Here recently, Jack has been making a big annoying fuss out of nothing. Or equally bad; getting upset about stupid stuff, like this morning when I wouldn’t let him play with sidewalk chalk during breakfast.
And I mean temper tantrum. Dramatic display of oppression. Wailing.
I have not studied the psychology behind the “Terrible Twos” but I assume it must be a crucial time in a kid’s life when they are extremely impressionable regarding behavioral training and when they are in need of knowing the security of followed-through discipline.
As an amateur follower of Feng Shui, I know the importance of combatting yang (aggressive energy) with ying (calming energy).
Jack’s yang of pitching a fit because we won’t let him take his food out of the kitchen is quenched with my ying of explaining to him why food must be eaten in the kitchen only; not over the carpet in the living room. Then I attempt to distract him with a view of outside or a toy.
If the emotional outburst persists, it’s a brief time-out session alone in his crib.
I will not allow myself to be overcome by the irrational thinking of an 18 month-old. And I’ve told him that.
To be honest, I kind of enjoy the challenge of my son’s early Terrible Twos. It’s like psychologically sparring with another human being. And after all, I can’t let an 18 month-old little boy beat a 31 year-old man.
As I think back to the first year of his life especially, I remember daily predicaments where my lack of maternal instincts caused me to get frustrated because I did not know what to do for my son.
But now, that is definitely changing. I’m seeing daily occurrences where my wife depends on me to handle our trainable little monster.
So I proudly rise to the challenge.
Like I told Jack: “You want to start your Terrible Twos early with me, kid? I’ll make sure you get your money’s worth. They will be terrible, all right. Maybe a little ‘two’ terrible.”
(My inspiration is evidently Robert DeNiro in Meet The Parents.)
While I’m sure my son didn’t pick up on the slight sarcasm nor the clever play on words, I know he got the main point.
My wife Jill is one of those girls who keeps things very clean and organized. Now that I’ve been married to her for nearly 4 years, I have become a lot like her in that way.
Though for me, it’s more about keeping things feng shui.
And sure enough, without a doubt, our son has taken notice.
I suppose the theory on how my son reminds me of a baby bartender is that Jill would let him play with a moist diaper wipe while changing his diaper.
After having had observed her wiping off the counters every night after prepping dinner, Jack realized he could use his “toy” diaper wipe to help clean up around the house.
All it took was finding the perfect sized counter top for him to be able to wipe off: Our “coffee table,” which is actually intended to go outdoors on a patio but we found it on clearance and decided it can get the job done.
During his playtime, cleaning our coffee table has become one of his official activities that he enjoys doing. Last Saturday, I was sitting down in our living room watching him wipe it down when he casually, yet intently, came over to me and “washed” my back. Twice.
As he enjoyed his newest playtime activity, the theme song to Cheers started playing in my head. I couldn’t help but realize how much Jack’s demeanor resembled that of a token bartender on a classic TV show.
I especially feel that way when I look at the picture of him to the right. It looks like he has his sleeves rolled up, showing off his muscles.
As I allow the fantasy story line to unfold, I imagine another toddler walking up to Jack’s bar:
Jack says, “What’ll it be, a Baby Brewsky?”
His customer replies, “Nah, I’ll take a Milk & Scotch… hold the Scotch.”
But seriously, I’m digging the fact that my son actually likes cleaning; at such an early age, too.
Makes me wonder what else we can teach him to clean.
Being that I spend most of my lunch breaks at Borders, over the past year I have been acquiring a small library of discounted books. One of my purchases off the “five dollar clearance rack” was a huge colorful book on Feng Shui. While I have yet to spend much time really learning these ancient Chinese secrets, I did scan through a few chapters. One of the concepts of Feng Shui that I did pick up on warned against long uninterrupted straights, whether the layout of the house is based on one basic hallway or the driveway to the house has no turns. Without turns and interruptions along a straight path, one might “fall out of the house and out of their own yard”. That’s considered “bad Feng Shui”.
If you are able to grasp that concept for the most part (which I think for some strange reason I can), then maybe you can understand my recent perspective on how having Baby Jack relates back to Feng Shui, if nothing else, in my own sleep-deprived head. Recently, some of my cosmic insecurities have been heavily resolved as I realize that by being a parent, I am forever in the middle of a generation, no longer the tail end. I am no longer the tree itself, but instead one of the branches on someone else’s family tree. No longer am I a coastal state like Rhode Island or South Carolina, exposed the possibility of breaking off in the Atlantic Ocean, only separated by a few thousand miles from giant Africa; instead, I am now landlocked Kansas. Like sitting in the middle of the third row seat in a 15 passenger van on a church mission trip to Mexico; like no longer being on the outer edge in a herd of zebras escaping from a hungry lion, so am I.
As a parent, I now feel more Feng Shui. I will not “fall out” out the universe into outer space without it being immediately noticed. Because I am no longer simply a husband; I am a father. And being a father doesn’t simply hold importance in the direct care of my son, but also in an undeniable eternal sense. Baby Jack is not just simply a cute little Bambino. He is a spiritual being who I am responsible for.
I am no longer an island of any kind. More than ever before, I am needed and necessary in this world. What I do from this point has potentially everlasting outcomes. I won’t look back on my life when I’m an old man and think, “I lived such an empty life.” Because I will always be linked back to my son. So cosmic, man.
“These moments, they can never last; like a sad old man with his photographs keeps wishing for the things he can not change.”