Big Girl Panties
I say the phrase “big girl panties” far more than I am comfortable with but my modicum of machismo is a small sacrifice in this rite of passage known as potty training. We’ve traded in Minnie Mouse pull ups for Hello Kitty underwear and so far so good.
I shudder at the risk of writing some mundane blog post that reads like so many all too graphic status updates we have endured on Facebook about the trials and tribulations of dumping the diaper. I refuse to chronicle the occasional set-back and focus on the fact that we are no longer forking over hard-earned cash for it to get peed on.
I think that we, as parents, are usually so happy to be passed the diaper changing stage that it doesn’t dawn on us for a while that it really is the conclusion of the baby stage. There is no stopping them from growing up so we may as well appreciate that their maturation can provide a bit of a break for us as well. As a dad of daughters I could live without the daily 3 minute decision process of is she in more of a My Little Pony mood or a Tinker Bell mood to gird her fanny with but getting your kid potty trained is totally sweet.
I need to go
Here is the deal, 74% of the time you hear a child utter the phrase, ‘I need to go to the bathroom” what it really means is, “I want to see the bathroom.” I won’t discredit my sentiments from above that your child being potty trained is a good thing but ugh, can we go one place in public without visiting the loo? Since that is obviously not an option could we please limit our public wanderings to places that have a family restroom? I don’t mind navigating the potential minefield of taking my daughter into the men’s room but I think we can all agree that the family restroom is pretty clutch.
We have been to the restroom in every store, restaurant,
post office (haha, it isn’t 1987, we don’t go to the post office), park, doctor’s office, and gas station in at least a 8 mile radius of our home. I don’t shy away from taking my girls to the restroom out in public but it ain’t all roses and sunshine people. Here is just a sampling of some of the thoughts that have gone through my head while fake potty dancing our way to use the water closet:
- Please don’t ask about the urinals, please don’t ask about the urinals.
- Oh good, an automatic paper towel dispenser, guess we are coming back here 14 times in the next hour.
- Good thing we don’t need a special license plate to use the handicapped stall.
- LOOK AWAY!!!
- Sure, I will hold you above the sink so you can get soap and wash your hands and splash water because it is important to form a healthy habit even though we both know you just sat there with your hands clasped while I did all of the dirty work.
- Honey, unless you are ready for her to start watching rated R movies, it looks like its your turn and let’s hope the lady’s room is more G rated.
- It’s a good thing this kid can’t read (this is mostly on a road trip emergency stop at a highway gas station)
- I think I put that paper seat cover thing on backwards.
- NOPE, too many dudes in here = too many potential questions.
- I already know that this is a false alarm but this is not the type of thing you risk.
So, we visit them all and hope for the best. At some point they will surely realize that none of them are really that special but I think I know what their angle is. It is the nemesis of parent’s taking their kid’s to the bathroom and the crown jewel of children’s restroom adventures. The water fountain. Man I hate public water fountains. Just as you finish the whole restroom experience and think you are free, you exit the door and your child’s eyes light up with the desire for cool, bacteria laced, free, public refreshment. Not only does that water fountain present one last obstacle / opportunity for you to be a meanie head, they remember that water fountain and you can bet your life the next time you visit the location, they will want to visit. No one wants their child to be in diapers forever but that doesn’t mean that taking your kid into a public restroom isn’t completely weak.
Sometimes you have to give in to originality. You need to stop letting your daily decisions be regimented by social norms. Sometimes the only consequence of saying yes is your kid’s snaggle-toothed smile.
What I’m trying to say here is that I just put a turkey and ketchup sandwich into a school lunch. That’s right, I pack lunches. I also get daily lunch reviews that occasionally could make the harshest New York Times food critic cringe at times. I am still waiting for my Zagat rating though. My initial reaction to this request was saying no. I mean ketchup on a sandwich is weird, Subway has 37 different condiments you can put on a sandwich and ketchup is not one of them. I don’t want my kid to be known as the ketchup sandwich girl.
Then I thought about it for a bit and wondered who made me the boss of what tastes good to my first grader. Once upon a time I was a kid too and I am sure I was into some stuff that was weird. I’m sure I got told no a few times to my suggestions of strange ideas and eventually put those ideas to rest and got normal. I’m not suggesting that this was completely my idea but had I stuck with some of my outside the norm ideas we probably wouldn’t have had to wait this long to be able to buy containers of dehydrated cereal marshmallows that we are now free to enjoy on everything from Rice Crispies to spaghetti.
The world is going to do a fine job of stepping on the innocent magic a child is born with. Over time a part of their creativity will get broken and pushed aside as they get normal and get accepted instead of getting fun and getting crazy. Luckily a ketchup sandwich doesn’t really have any negative side effects and saying yes was easy. The rest of the day though, I thought about how easy it would have been to just say no and step on a little bit of her magic without even realizing it. I’m not suggesting I need a medal or anything. A trophy maybe but not like with a big ceremony and a marching band and having to give some inspirational tear jerking speech while I accept a key to the city and a free Subway sandwiches for life card.
It isn’t like making a ketchup sandwich made her day that much more awesome or not making it would have crushed her but the situation did offer me a chance to reflect on how fast life can kick the childhood magic right out of their hands. I’d like to try and keep it around a bit longer, I mean who knows what kind of amazing ideas could be floating around in her head afraid to come out because they may be weird.
Sometimes I think it is good to remember that being a parent is just as much about saying yes as it is about saying no and sometimes saying yes can be totally sweet.
Didn’t We Just Do that Whole Cicada Thing?
Ever have a memory that seems like it occurred pretty recently and then realize it was 10 or 20 years ago? Man, that is like age kicking you right in the breadbasket (when I was a kid, I used to watch wrestling and “bread basket” was what they called that part of a male that rests below the belt and is very sensitive to pain.)
Last night while I was wondering when David Letterman stopped being funny he made some joke about the pending Cicada Apocalypse on the east coast. I looked at my wife and asked how this could be news when it just happened like last year? Only it didn’t happen last year, it happened 17 years ago. That’s right, 1996 was the last time the 17 year Cicadas took over both the east coast and the monologues of used to be funny late night talk show hosts.
17 years ago I was popping a Spin Doctors CD into my disc-man and putting a tape with a cord connected to it into my in dash tape deck, hoping not to drive over too many bumps because we all knew that anti-skip technology was mostly hollow promises and nothing is worse than being right in the middle of belting out “If you want to buy me flowers” and your music screech to a halt.
How could that much time have passed so quickly? How have I been alive long enough to remember the great 17 year cicada outbreak of ’96? Which, if I recall correctly, did not in any way live up to the hype so I am pretty skeptical of the upcoming reunion tour. Life has a way of sneaking by and tricking us sometimes. Sure, I realize that I have had 17 years of life experience since the last cicada show-down and I’m happy I’m not still driving a faded blue Chevrolet Cavalier with a leaky sunroof.
Just like flipping through the pages of a calendar and thinking Christmas will be here soon because, how long can it possibly take to live 6 pages, time can seem equally as fast when you look back at things that feel like they just happened and then realize it was long enough ago that you still had a bowl cut. I’m not sad about getting older and I am having a good time filling each year with memories just as sweet as that Spin Doctors CD. Sometimes though, having time roundhouse you from out of nowhere with how old you are can be completely weak.
*Stands up, clears throat* Hi, my name s Simon. I am a 35-year-old father of two and sometimes I would rather play Xbox than Polly Pocket or watch a show about pawn shops instead of giving them baths. *All together now* “HI SIMON”
Horrible huh? I mean moms on Facebook are re-purposing tiny mason jars into sippy cups and spending 6 hours making rainbow cup cakes for their kid with two last name’s preschool class. Dads are coaching multiple sports teams and all work for companies that are happy to give them half the day off to go to their first grader’s Christmas party to stand around like overgrown wall flowers and watch their kids eat said cupcake. Babies are learning sign language and how to read and the other day I met a 5-year-old that knew what quinoa was.
The over-achieving appears to be at its zenith and it seems that all of the parents around me went to orientation or got the syllabus ahead of time and have a way better clue as to what they are doing. I mean I hate to break it to you but some mornings I wake up and it takes me a few minutes to remember I’m not 15 and I am in charge of TWO HUMAN BEINGS.
Don’t worry though, the whole grown up secret is safe with me. While I may not fool other parents, my kids think I’ve got all the answers just like we thought about our parents when we were kids. One day I will be able to hand down this tradition of the human condition to my daughters and the cycle will continue.
“Wow Simon, that was quite the little rant, you must hate being a parent.”
Nope. Being a parent is one of the greatest things that has ever happened to me and guess what? It’s my favorite. I love my kids with all of my heart and I even think that sometimes I am a pretty good dad, maybe even most of the time.
I also know that it isn’t always easy and when you add being a parent to being a spouse, being a sibling, being an employee, being a son or daughter, and being an adult, sometimes you can forget what it feels like to be you.
The good news is, I think there is room to be all those things, be good at them, and still be you. I also think that if you can remember who you were when you were 15 and not be afraid to let it shine through in your other roles, it will make you better at them and the days more fun along the way.
I’m not going to lose who I am in an effort to be the best parent I can be. I’m going to share who I am with my kids and figure things out one day at a time. It may not always wind up looking like a photo on Pinterest but as long as I can keep them healthy, happy, learning, and laughing I think we will figure this thing out.
I hope to share some light-hearted stories and observations from a dad’s point of view of what it can be like raising the generation that doesn’t know what the roll down window gesture means and can’t drive to the grocery store without wanting to watch a movie.
I love them with all I’ve got even when they make me miss video games. As long as we have a fun-loving disposition, plenty of juice, and extra band-aids I think we will do just fine even when we do eat the occasional gluten and still aren’t positive that quinoa isn’t a city in Canada.
I wish I got as excited about anything as much as my daughters get excited about the declaration of movie night in our house. Now keep in mind at 6 and 2 years old they are not exactly film buffs but they are seasoned connoisseur of another component of movie night; snacks. Specifically popcorn. My kids will devour popcorn and for the toddler, it is the main attraction of movie night.
We are at a fun place right now when it comes to entertainment selections because the little one is old enough to follow along and enjoy a show or movie as long as it is on her level (mostly Caillou) and my older daughter is at the age where she feels like she needs to distance herself as far away as possible from any show or movie that she deems: for babies. They are both aware of the others disdain for certain shows and have become quite the little antagonists.
That is where the movie snacks come in. They are the common denominator and unite them even when their movie choices differ. It is fun to watch them get so excited over something so small and though the snacks may not be the healthiest thing, the laughter and fun are things that are definitely good for them.
One of my favorite things about being a parent is that no matter what happens, you are always a pallet on the floor or a tent in the living room away from being a hero.
That is pretty sweet.
My kid’s favorite thing to eat for breakfast on Saturday morning is whatever we are not having. Seriously, the preparation of meals in our house has to be one of the most futile activities we take part in.
We are always trying to find balance between, “you can’t get up until you finish eating” and “just give her an apple sauce squeezy so she at least eats something and shuts her cry-hole.”
Sometimes I feel like it would be faster to just pinch her so she starts crying, toss a plate of food in the garbage, and squirt ketchup on the dog. Might as well at least make the ordeal only last a minute instead of 15. It is important to us that they learn about different foods and don’t live on chicken nuggets and yogurt for the next few years. We are finally getting better at utensils and manners but unfortunately, ours was part of the new generation that figures out how to work the settings on an ipad before using a spoon correctly.
We won’t give up and not every meal time is a bad one. There are often times though, that I feel like the toddler should just tell the truth, “watching you clean up after dinner and scrape my hardly touched plate into the garbage is exhausting. I want a snack!”
When you spend the time to create a good dinner for your family and it instantly becomes a plate of disappointment when set in front of your toddler, it is totally weak.
**This is an excerpt from a post I wrote last year and a few people liked** Happy Thanksgiving.
I know that the Thanksgiving day meal gets all of the hype but come this time of year I start to crave one thing. The Thanksgiving sandwich. Either that night or the next day, cramming as many leftovers that you can fit between two slices of bread is the way I like to usher in the Holiday Season.
I am taking a break this year as I have been the CEO of the bird for the last 6 or so years. Cooking the turkey can be one of those manly culinary exhibitions like making a pot of chili or grilling. Last year I put a turkey on a giant Foster’s beer can and cooked it on an open flame just like baby Jesus intended man to cook. But this year I am taking it easy. So, since I don’t have to worry about targeting that 12 hour window far enough before Thursday that the store still has fresh sage but not too soon that it goes bad, I thought I would offer a couple of Turkey day tips.
1.Small servings. I don’t mean, limit your intake all together but don’t fill up on the first pass. There will be
aunts people there that will measure their happiness and possibly some portion of their self-worth on who goes back for seconds on their dish. So be a hero and start small and make several trips. It isn’t like the extra walking is going to hurt. Speaking of needing exercise, if you are a dude that could stand to drop a few lbs, this is even more important for you. No reason for someone to feel like a failure because the fat guy didn’t even want seconds.
2. Get a can of cranberry. It may not look too fancy jiggling there with its can lines wrapping around it but nothing goes better on a thanksgiving sandwich than slices of canned cranberry.
3. The sympathy scoop. Don’t let anyone take home a dish that was barely touched. I don’t care if you are 90% sure you see hot dogs and marshmallows in there, get a spoon-full. Leave it for last then spread it out on your plate so it looks like you ate it. Remember, these are the people you love, or at least pretend to once a year on this day.
4. Keep it classy. Wine should not be opened before the Turkey float goes by on the parade. (exception: if any part of the menu is being cooked outdoors an open beer is the most important cooking utensil regardless of time of day)
5. Wardrobe selection. You don’t need to go over the top here and show up in a Biggest Loser sweat suit but at the same time think ahead enough that you at least pick those pants that you are still “growing into.”
Last of all, say “Thank You” and have a great time because eating until your left leg starts to go numb is totally sweet.
*note: not to brag but that is a picture of a turkey I cooked. (actually, that was totally to brag)