Posts Tagged ‘ Sesame Street ’

The Pacifier Is Creating A Terror

Monday, June 16th, 2014

Any parent who has an addict for a child knows the pacifier is like crack. With Fia the crack was also my crutch. It could silence her in crucial moments–like on a 5-hour airplane where no one wants to sit next to a wailing baby. Or occasionally at a restaurant if she was cranky. We didn’t make her get rid of it until she was 3. But she was a rule-follower and knew the only time she could use it was naptime or bedtime, unless I specified otherwise.

Until recently Emmett followed the same protocol. But I could tell he was more attached, or maybe just not as much of a rule follower as Fia. He started to periodically sneak into his room and grab it from the crib and go racing down the hall, looking behind him to see how fast we were on his heels. He laughed and treated it like a game. But the minute we would take it away, he would start to wail. Then hit and throw things.

Then he got a bad cold and I basically let him have it all the time, thinking it was soothing him. Little did I know it was turning him into a beast. When he got better and we went back to the old routine, he would constantly ask for it or try to sneak into his room to get it. When we wouldn’t give in, he began to throw anything he could get his hands on–trains, his sippy cup, a fork, you name it. His pacifier was creating a monster. Still, I was scared to give it up. Looking back, I was just as addicted as he was.

Last week we went on a family vacation to Colorado (crying picture while making a snow-ant). We took the paci on the plane and he was great. But once again, as soon as we landed, he began wailing for it. Every hike we went on or family adventure, he was begging for it, eventually crying and screaming. I know realize this is the point as a parent where you give in all the time because you think it will make your life saner–or, you decide to take charge and set boundaries. We literally watched our funny, sweet boy become a complete terror over the paci. We gave in, thinking it would make it easier. But instead, I think it just made him more headstrong. He became bratty–verging on a nightmare child who was constantly tantruming.

As soon as we landed back home, we put on the Sesame Street episode, Bye Bye Binky. We also cued up the song on YouTube and he watched it over and over. Then we explained that in 3 days we were sending the paci to TT (his grandma) so she could give it to another baby. That’s the same thing we did with Fia. This week, on day 3, we will have him help us wrap it up and take it to the post office to bid farewell. Leading up to day 3, we have only let him have it in his crib.

Just putting up these parameters has already made a huge difference in his personality.  Literally in 36 hours I already feel–and can see–we are getting our boy back. It’s also been incredibly eye opening to realize what a difference it makes when you take back control and set boundaries for your kids. He doesn’t want to be fussy, but a 2 1/2-year old has no impulse control or emotional range to understand how to regulate his moods. The only person who can really regulate them is you: the parent. Basically everything I’ve read about this in regard to 2-year behavior is true: they want, and more importantly, NEED boundaries. Leaving them unregulated or with false threats not only makes your life incredibly difficult and frustrating, but theirs too.

Tomorrow we will happily say bye bye binky and at least until the next curve ball is thrown, have our good boy back.

 

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Confessions of a Guilty, Guilty Dad

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” Author of the dark comedy fiction novel “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt,” Joe is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey and can be found on Facebook or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

As the great Jerry Stiller once said (while portraying the unforgettably bombastic Frank Costanza on Seinfeld), “I feel the need to unburden myself.” I’ve been carrying around some heavy secrets. Some of them kind of shocking. But I’m willing to bet that, if you’re a parent, you’ll relate to more of these than you’d like to admit.

So, in no particular order, since it’s Lent and I’m Catholic and we’re encouraged to make confession during this time of year…

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned…

I pretend to be asleep in the middle of the night when my kids wake up crying. I think my wife is onto me, as she’s started to do the same. She learned from the best. I admire that.

When I deem it necessary, I let my younger son exact revenge on my older son. Trust me, he absolutely deserves it. And it teaches the older one a valuable lesson: Being a jerk = pain

When my son asks me a question I don’t know the answer to, I pretend I can’t hear him and walk away. An example is, “Daddy, why do you have nipples?” Why do I have nipples, Father?

I listen to the Frozen soundtrack when neither of my kids are in the car. I’ve also started pricing tinted windows.

I know all the words to at least six Fresh Beat Band songs….including Twists’ raps. Again, tinted windows.

I’ve been legitimately confused by instructions on my 4-year-old’s homework assignments.

I laughed at my kid after he walked directly into a wall and started crying. I mean, it was pretty hilarious.

I still don’t remember either of my sons’ shoe sizes. When I do, it changes two weeks later, anyway. I’ve stopped trying.

I genuinely enjoy Sesame Street more than 90% of primetime cable programming. Then again, “Sextuplets Take New York” isn’t exactly stiff competition.

I’ve smelled my son’s dirty diaper and then hid in the next room to avoid changing it.

I lied by more than two years to get my son into a theme park for free. I insisted he remain seated in the stroller sucking a pacifier to sell the lie to the cashier. I even said, “Act young.”

I’ve blamed my kids for being late to work, when it was actually my own fault. I mean, most of the time it’s their fault, so it’s not entirely a lie. Right?

When I’m putting my kids to bed, I stay in the room at least half an hour after they’re asleep, playing Words with Friends to avoid being responsible and putting laundry away.

I legitimately cannot defeat my 4-year-old in the Memory Game. He’s beaten me like 18 straight times, with me actually trying to win. It’s pretty embarrassing. I’m either getting old or I’m just a moron.

I peed on the toilet seat and blamed it on my 2-year-old’s failure to potty train himself.

I’ve accidentally answered a toy phone when a real one was ringing.

I skipped 13 pages in a 16-page book while reading a bedtime story just to see if I could get away with it. I could.

While playing basketball with my kids, I occasionally reject the living hell out of them ala Dikembe Mutombo. It’s my way of convincing myself I have so much as a shred of athletic ability left.

Nothing makes me laugh more genuinely than when my younger son mispronounces words. Most recently, he’s been talking about this “really big clock” he has in his room. Only he’s having noticeable trouble pronouncing the “L.”

I think that covers me until the next time. And if you see me in church next Sunday, this conversation never happened.

Amen.

 

Feel free to add your own confessions by adding a comment below, or by tweeting me with the hashtag #confessions so we can all be guilty together!

* Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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The Most Common Misconceptions of Parenthood

Thursday, October 3rd, 2013

Joe DeProspero has two sons, a wife, and is complimentary birth control for anyone who sits near him in a restaurant. His writing has been described as “outrageous,” “painfully real,” and “downright humiliating.” He talks about the highs and unsettling lows of parenthood while always being entertaining and engaging in the process. He has written the fiction book “The Boy in the Wrinkled Shirt” and is working on releasing a parenting humor book. He currently lives in New Jersey with his wife and two sons and can be emailed at jdeprospero@gmail.com or followed on Twitter @JoeDeProspero.

 

I’ve been a parent for over four years now, and I have to say, I know very little about how this whole thing works. I felt the same way about calculus* in high school. I was certainly exposed to it a great deal, was tested on it regularly, etc. But if someone asked me what calculus was today, I’d pretend I just got a phone call and run away. Parenthood is just as mysterious and just as impossible to truly “master.” Despite this, there are still plenty of people out there who think they know how to handle being a parent (even though they aren’t one). And it’s about time someone wrote down the most common offenders, as these non-parents and their assumptions have been left unchallenged for long enough.

For one, they all seem to think getting a babysitter is easy and no big deal. “Hey, you wanna come out for drinks tonight? You can get a babysitter, right?” Sure, let me troll Craigslist for a few minutes. I’m sure the right fit will pop up pretty quickly. Are you out of your mind? Leaving my kids with anybody is a challenge. Especially with the atrocities that have occurred during the past couple of years while a babysitter or nanny has been in charge of a child. I’m surprised I even trust family most days, let alone some 13-year-old handing out business cards in front of a 711. And even if I did hire a babysitter, I would then have to hire a security guard to watch the babysitter, then another security guard to keep an eye on the first security guard. It’s a sordid mess, really.

Another assumption they make is that I’ve got my life completely figured out now that I have kids. Most parents are probably laughing at that one right now. Please don’t ever assume anyone in your life who’s married with kids has all their sh*t together. There’s no “Do you have your sh*t together” test that we take before conceiving children. Right, Kim Kardashian?

Something that’s often joked about is the misery parents go through as they are forced to endure dreadful kid-friendly television shows like Barney. And I think it’s a bit exaggerated. Frankly, between the mass appeal of Sesame Street and adult-accessible Pixar films like the Toy Story franchise, I end up enjoying my kids’ favorite shows more than my own! Thankfully, programming for kids has come a long way in the past decade, become exponentially more tolerable for parents. I’m even guilty of watching far after my sons have drifted to sleep.

A major misconception is the belief that bearing children reduces the ability to partake in fun activities. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Well, we were going to invite you, but then we remembered you had kids.” I didn’t become a kid, I simply raise them! And I need alcohol now more than ever. Please don’t forget that I’m thirsty. I can’t promise I can make everything, but what I can promise is that when I do make it out, I’m still exactly the same person I was before parenthood. Just a really, really exhausted version of him.

Speaking of being tired, people seem to think that, once a child reaches the tender age of six-weeks-old that they start sleeping through the night until they’re 100. Not always true. In fact, in most cases I’ve experienced or heard, children go through phases where they’ll sleep 11 hours straight without provocation, then out of seemingly nowhere will be up three times a night for days in a row. This whole “sleeping like a baby” line is a farce. Babies don’t sleep like babies. They sleep like strung out college students cramming for a final exam.

Do you have a friend who doesn’t have kids who you feel doesn’t truly “get” you anymore? Share this blog with them for some middle ground. They might be resentful that you did, but at least you’ll make your point, which is the point, right?

Feel free to add a comment below and join the conversation!

 

* I never actually took calculus in high school. I only made it as far as algebra and decided math that complicated was a waste of time. And also because my grades in all forms of math were pretty terrible.

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Legitimate Fear or Irrational Parent Anxiety?

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Okay, I have said before that I’m terrified of spiders. I’m especially terrified of my children getting bit by one. We live in the hills in Los Angeles. We are with the wild. We caught a possum. We had roof rats. And there are spiders everywhere.

When we first moved out here, I asked exterminators to come to our house. Phil intercepted them. Here’s an excerpt.

“Um, why the f—k is Pest Control here? They said you booked them to spray for black widows. I told them to leave. Call me.”

I happened to be 7-months pregnant so perhaps I was a tad hormonal irrational.

Fast forward to now. As in, last night. Phil was outside grilling. Fia was playing near him.

“Hey honey,” he yells. “I don’t want to freak you out, but I want to show you something.”

Keep in mind, I’m not pregnant. Which means I’m my normal incredibly levelheaded and stable self. BUT I DON’T WANT TO LIVE WITH SPIDERS.

I walk outside holding Emmett.

He points to a drain pipe about 6-inches from where Fia had been sitting.

“That’s what a black widow looks like,” he says calmly, and points to one with that telltale red hourglass on its belly.

Shockingly, I didn’t freak the f-ck out. Maybe because he shot me a look, like, not in front of the kids, like I did during a recent Fia freakout.

“Okay,” I said, trying to remain calm. “What are you going to do?”

“I’m going to kill it, but I wanted you to see what it looked like so we are aware of them.”

Really, just aware? I’m ready to bomb our place with a mix of comet, bleach and ammonia.

I walk into the kitchen with both kids and pour a glass of wine.

He comes in (post-killing) and tells me not to make a big deal about it in front of Fia.

“I don’t want her to be scared of spiders,” he says. Fair enough. (Lord knows, we’re both pissed at what her favorite TV show has made her frightened of…)

We eat dinner, put the kids to bed, and I begin Googling. Okay, I did come across a website that makes me think it could have been a brown widow. And they are not as venomous as their black cousins. Though it could have been the smaller brown female, which is still considered a black widow and can be deadly though it is rare for someone to die from the bite. Confused? Start Googling.

Nevertheless, we live in a wooded area, we have small children…should we exterminate? I spoke calmly and rationally with Phil about it. We made no decision on what to do.

This morning over coffee and Sesame Street, Phil says, “Maybe we should exterminate. Just to be on the safe side.”

Rather than smirking, I actually deliberated. I happen to be taking the kids out of town for a few days.

“We could do it while you and the kids are away.”

I nodded.

I really hate the idea of toxins all over my yard. I also hate the idea of killing a bunch of harmless insects. I imagine that Doctor Death (i.e.: Dewey Pest Control) has to douse everything. But a spider bite can be bad. I’ve had friends go to the ER because of them. My own mother almost died from a brown recluse bite. Okay, no one I know has actually died from one, but I have reason to be afraid, right? And reason to be fearful for my kids, correct? I’ve done some research and there really isn’t a non-toxic way to do exterminate. They may claim their way is, but it’s not. There are poisons and chemicals involved. If I could sprinkle some magical salt all over my yard or something, believe me, I would.

By the end of the day, I had called my dude Angel. He dealt with our roof rats. And possum. He’s coming over to deal with the spiders. I’ll have to start calling him my Angel of Death. Probably not the first time he’s been called that in his job.

 

And by the way, I’m not even putting a picture of a spider on this post because I don’t want to have to look at it. That’s how stupid my fear is. So Dr. Death and the cockroaches will have to do.

 

Picture of exterminator via Shutterstock

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Why I Hate My Toddler’s Favorite TV Show

Monday, October 29th, 2012

You know what pisses me off? Television for my kids. Okay, I’ll admit it. Fia hasn’t learned to spell or read only from us. We read books every night, but what has really taught her is Sesame Street and Super Why. Both PBS shows (please don’t take away Big Bird if–god forbid–you get elected Romney).

But what these shows, particularly Super Why, has also taught her is to fear–of the dark, of shadows, of monsters. These are things she never even contemplated before. She has always slept in a pitch-black room, with one small nightlight. But ever since an episode of Super Why where the little girl was scared in the night, Fia has insisted we keep her closet light on and her door slightly open. The latter has meant she can hear Emmett cry and subsequently she wakes up. But that’s not nearly as frustrating as watching her become afraid.

Her recent fascination with shadows is at times fun and playful (and annoying when you decide on a stupid whim to have her sleep in bed with you), but other times it’s steeped in fear. “Mama, look at that shadow!” she’ll whine. “It’s S-C-A-R-Y!”

Spiders are another one. In the past she loved to look at them. Now she screams, “Mama, a spider!” and runs the other way. Even spider webs, which used to fascinate, have her freaked.

I don’t want to totally bash TV because I am fully aware of the tradeoff. She has learned a ton from it. But producers, do you have to frighten in your themes? Learning is fun for them. Being scared isn’t.

If we never taught our children to fear the dark or spiders, would they grow up not afraid? Or is this something that eventually happens by being a member of society anyway? In other words, am I kidding myself to think I could have avoided her arachnophobia if she hadn’t seen those episodes? I’m not sure. I know she never learned the word “mine” and toy-grabbing until she hung out with kids who did that. But how did those kids learn? Was it just inherent in their personalities and thus this is just part of life? Or did they learn it from someone who learned it from something, and so on?

Of course when it’s appropriate, she’ll learn stranger danger (we should probably start on that soon), the basics of safety and eventually the staggering problems of the world. But during the tender age of toddlerhood I could stand her being left in the dark a bit longer. Without a light on.

 

Afraid of Dark Picture via Shutterstock

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