“The only time you should look into your neighbor’s bowl is to make sure they have enough,” comedian Louis C.K. awkwardly tells his daughter on an episode of his FX show, Louie.
Well said, Louis.
And what a pertinent time to hear such a wise proverb. Because my 20 month-old son, as adorable is he may be, has become a complete Mine-O-Saur.
Like the titular character in the book by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Jack now feels the need to announce ownership of his toys to any other child who visits our home:
As an adult, I think about how seldom in life it’s really ever necessary to have to proclaim “Mine!” to anyone. Yet in the mind of a toddler, he has exclusive ownership of these toys my wife and I worked hard to buy for him.
I look forward to the day when Jack will be able to better understand the point of a wonderful song by Jack Johnson, from the Curious George movie soundtrack, “The Sharing Song.”
The main line from the chorus is this: “It’s always more fun to share with everyone.”
As an adult, I know how true it is. Even if it’s as simple as something like when I offer a piece of gum or a snack to a coworker, I enjoy the sense of helping someone else, despite it being in the smallest of ways.
This past weekend, Jack got to the point where he didn’t even want to go into the living room because his little cousin Calla was there playing with his toys.
He couldn’t tolerate the thought of her playing with blocks that came from the same container. If Calla chose a different toy altogether, then Jack would get upset because she was still playing with one of his toys.
So a couple of time-out sessions were earned.
If only toddlers could get it that it’s cool to share. I never really thought about this before, but I guess toddlers don’t care too much about being cool or how society views them.
Toddlers are too sophisticated for something as juvenile as peer pressure.
Your child’s first birthday party is coming up. Don’t freak out- I’m here to help. Just follow these 7 easy steps and your child’s birthday will be a piece of cake! (Insert laugh tracks here.)
1) Have a theme that somehow symbolizes your child’s personality. Because our son Jack regularly speaks in a foreign robotic-sounding language and has walking skills that have just been recently programmed, we decided to go with a robot theme. My wife renamed the snacks accordingly: “computer chips” for corn chips with salsa, “nuts and bolts” for Chex mix, and “spare parts” for veggies.
2. Do it after lunch time. Jack’s party was from 2PM to 4PM on a Saturday. The light snacks and heavy desserts served as a great follow-up to whatever everyone had for lunch. Also, that time slot assured that Jack would not be in need of a nap.
3. Invite the very most supportive people. If it were up to me, I would have invited all of the readers of The Dadabase into my home. But we had to draw the line somewhere; which for us, were the people who came to visit us when we moved to Alabama. (We since moved back to Nashville.) This ended up making the total number of people around 18, but thanks to Jack being such an outgoing baby, he didn’t get overwhelmed by everyone.
4. Let the birthday kid be the entertainment. At Jack’s party, there were no games. Instead, our son simply was the show. Especially for the fact he had just begun walking a few weeks prior, it was cool to watch him play with all his random toys. This kept a good vibe going from the very beginning; which naturally helped people to start conversations with each other, since many of them had never met before.
5. Have other people take pictures for you. Three of my guests had better cameras and picture-taking skills than me. So I didn’t have to sacrifice my hosting duties due to the need to visually document the whole shebang.
6. Serve cupcakes instead of a traditional birthday cake. I didn’t want my wife to bother with making some perfect cake for everyone. So since we knew Jack loves anything with bananas, everyone got a banana (or chocolate) cupcake along with some premium ice cream from Publix. It was more fun and original with cupcakes.
7. Open the presents quickly. Don’t wait for picture op’s or for your kid to completely unwrap each gift. I started a tear in each gift and let Jack pull it along a tad, then I instantly finished the job. This way, everyone had more time to actually watch Jack play with their gift, instead of drawing the whole process out.
I have to say: Jack’s first birthday party really was a breeze. We kept it simple and organized; and therefore very stress-free. Not to mention, we had Jack Johnson playing in the background.
Well, would you like to see some pictures from Jack’s party? Our friends Jeremy and Cheryl Crawford, who are expecting their first child literally any minute now, took these for us.
Travel now to The Dadabase Facebook wall to further this adventure, where you will find the photo album, “Jack’s 1st Birthday Party.”
Here’s the invitation design we bought off Etsy from “BusyBeeDesign1.”
“How many train wrecks do we need to see?” -Jack Johnson
In the midst of the recent highly publicized false accusations of 17 year-old Justin Bieber being a dad, I can’t help but keep thinking of MTV’s 16 and Pregnant. I’ve made several random jabs at the show, vaguely proclaiming my passionate hate for it; but I figure today I should explain why exactly I hate 16 and Pregnant more than I loathe Two and Half Men.
1. It glorifies teen pregnancy. Granted, I want no part in casting stones against a teen mom who is willing to keep her child as opposed to aborting him or her. But it’s pretty hard to deny that the producers of the show find ways to make the event girly, using a cutesy diary theme with cartoon drawings and voiceovers from the teen moms.
2. It makes stars and role models out of the teen moms. I personally know a 20 year-old girl who is pregnant with her 2nd child. She had her first child when she was 19; different fathers for both babies and I’m pretty sure she never really loved either of the baby’s fathers. About a year ago I remember her bragging to me: “Maci from 16 and Pregnant was here in Nashville a few weekends ago. Some people said she was at the mall…”.
3. It doesn’t prevent teens from having unsafe sex. Sure, I can’t prove this; but I assume that there is some underlying message that the show somehow scares teenagers into being more careful about their actions. I’d say if anything, the show is more likely to promote abortion as 16 and Pregnant goes through great lengths to show how a baby is an inconvenience.
4. It capitalizes on the unfortunate. I personally believe that a lot of these teen moms subconsciously get pregnant on purpose because they are so deprived of love and attention in their lives. They are living a sad story which they are desperate to improve somehow. Like much of reality TV, the show draws in millions of viewers who secretly want to watch a train wreck to make themselves feel better about their own lives.
5. The teen dads are usually awful fathers. Of course they are; they’re still in high school, playing football and hanging out with their loser friends. On the show, the teen dads often admit to their (ex)girlfriend, the mother of their child, that A) they are not in love, B) are only still together because of the baby, and/or C) wish they didn’t have a baby. As if dads didn’t already have a bad rap in the TV world, these guys aren’t helping.
I’m not saying the show should be taken off of the air; the banning of anything is typically the best way to promote it. In fact, with the link below, I’m technically promoting 16 and Pregnant myself. But ultimately, I believe I have shared 5 solid reasons why even the mention of the show makes me cringe.
My wife Jill and I have a spunky and animated friend named Lisa Welch(pictured right), who mentioned to us that when she thinks of us, she sees us as the “Joe Cool” of parents; that we are really “laid-back, groovy people.” And because of that, our son Jack will surely be the same way. Well, he is, actually.
As Jack’s parents we were flattered, though we never really thought about how people perceived us. To the two of us, we’re just a normal married couple who go through the same stuff as everyone else. I guess it’s easy to be unaware of how others perceive you. Because how can you know, not being able to crawl outside of your head and observe yourself with a viewpoint that is not preconceived or idealized in some way?
We are passionate supporters of Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Jill makes all of Jack’s baby food herself. We are experimenting with cloth diapers for Jack. Normal cologne (alcohol based) is too strong for me to wear; so instead, I wear patchouli and my wife likes that I do. Oh, and we’re not really into sports.
I guess that covers enough of the bases. The cultural criteria is there for us to be “chill” kind of people. Obviously, a child picks up on the vibes of his parents. I didn’t realize it can happen at such a young age. But it’s pretty obvious, at six months old, Jack just doesn’t let much bother him. Jack is very outgoing, so he doesn’t get afraid of new people. And we are blessed that he is so easy to travel with, because I would say that traveling is one of our main hobbies.
He only cries when he’s hungry, tired, or needs a diaper change. Other than that, he’s happy just to bop around and enjoy the scenery.
Because my writing style is largely based on finding the irony in situations, here it is: We do enjoy the title of “Joe Cool” and being seen as laid back– but don’t be fooled, we do have a serious side, too. We are both very big into structure and setting expectations to live by. Having order and control is very important to us.
We are the paradox of being both laid-back, yet very focused. We are old-fashioned, yet still free thinking and open-minded. And it looks like our son will be the same way.
Entertain me: How has your child adopted your personality traits? I am truly curious to hear other examples.
Parenting is one of the few institutions where brainwashing is not only allowed, and a given, but it’s also sort of the whole point. Like a duo-dictatorship, two people (the parents) have so much influence over another human being (the child) on so many levels. Freedom of religion? Nope. Freedom of speech? Not so much. The rules that matter are enforced by the parents and accordingly, the child learns his or her moral code and adopts his human culture largely from how the parents choose to raise him or her.
Will I be a strict parent? “Strict” has such a negative connotation these days. It evokes thoughts of having rules for the sake of having rules, yielding a teenage kid that is either so nerdy that he thinks getting to stay up until 11:00 at night to watch Battlestar Gallactica is an idea of a good time, or he’s so rebellious he gets a DUI and a huge tattoo by the time he graduates high school. So I’d rather not use the word “strict”, but instead “consistent and practical”. Like my parents were to me.
I have always been very close to my parents; I knew I could talk to them about anything and they would listen, without being judgmental or condescending, yet still guiding me in the right direction. They gave me a little responsibility at a time, and when I proved I could handle it, they gave me more. I never had a curfew, nor did I need one. But had I responded differently to the responsibility I was given, I know for a fact the rules would have been stricter, as they would have needed to be.
I think it’s funny when I hear parents of young kids say, “Well my Brayden won’t eat what I cook him. He only eats chicken nuggets and pizza, and he only drinks Coke from his sippy cup.” I smile and laugh with them, shaking my head like I know how it is, when really I’m thinking, “It’s not up to your kid! It’s up to YOU! YOU’RE the parent!”
Just like I’ve heard other parents say, “I’m not going to force any religious beliefs on my kids. They need to figure out what they believe on their own.” (Which is always a clear indication that parent has no solid religious beliefs, otherwise they would pass them on to their children.) It will not be the case for my kid. He will know who Noah and Abraham and Moses and Jesus and Peter and the Apostle Paul are. He will know the importance and relevance of John 3:16. Just like my dad read to me from my kid’s Bible every night, so will I do for my son.
And when he grows up, I will have influenced who he is. Yet still, he will have his own personality and make his own decisions. Truly though, that’s how it was for all of us. Even if one or both of our parents were out of the picture, they still influenced us- negatively or positively. So I am choosing to make a conscious, solid, positive influence in his life. And I will be very deliberate in doing so.
Here’s what The Bump says about Baby Jack this week:
Baby’s energy is surging, thanks to the formation of white fat deposits beneath the skin. (Have those kicks and jabs to the ribs tipped you off yet?) Baby is also settling into sleep and waking cycles, though — as you’ve also probably noticed — they don’t necessarily coincide with your own. Also this month, all five senses are finally functional, and the brain and nervous system are going through major developments.