Do You Wanna Play Repeat?

doyouwannaplayrepeat

We’ve all been there. Hanging out with a sibling, or a friend, or that random dude at the bus stop that won’t stop talking to you because reasons–and they start with “hey, do you, uh, wanna play repeat??” And you reply, nicely “no, I’m good. I hate that game.” So, you think that’s the end of it, right? Big old bag of NOPE. “No, I’m good. I hate that game.”

You try to back your way out of the game that you very clearly do NOT want to be playing. “Seriously, can we not do this right now?” And because they’re your friend or brother or sister or stranger-du-jour they ignore you “seriously, can we not do this right now?” And on and on and on it goes for a solid 20 minutes. It ends when you either walk away or push them in front of a bus. Whichever is easier.

Why am I talking about one of the most annoying games ever? Well, considering that Sarah and I are currently living through a never-ending game of repeat, it seemed pretty apt. No, Sophia isn’t repeating everything we say. Why would you ask that… No, what is actually happening is that Maddie is learning everything she possibly can from Sophia. And repeating it. Or copying it. Like, every.little.thing. Good, bad, other, if big sister is doing it, you can bet your ass that little sister is following suit.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for some things. Like, brushing her teeth. Or going on the swings. Or running around the yard. Or trying something new and different. It’s pretty awesome when she does that stuff. I love it. When she tries repeating words that she so obviously can’t say, it’s beyond adorable. I’m pretty sure Sophia loves it, too. Unless I’m reading things the wrong way when she says “Stop copying me, Maddie!” But, I’m pretty sure that means she’s enjoying it. Right? Right.

Then, there are the things that I wish she wouldn’t be copying. That high-pitched squeal when she’s upset at not getting her way? PLEASE FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T DO IT AGAIN. Throwing herself on the floor for a tantrum, jumping on or off the bed, hitting me because I SO OBVIOUSLY did something wrong (sorrrrrrrrrrry that I said you can’t go sledding down the steps). Those are the times where maybe not repeating every.single.thing Sophia does would be cool. That’s not too much to ask, is it? Oh. Oh, it is? I wasn’t aware of that.

In all honesty, it’s pretty damn funny watching Maddie play repeat all the time. There have been plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and I’m sure those are going to continue. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna go ask that guy over there if he wants to play repeat…

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Call Me a Babysitter One More Time

babysitter

There’s this notion. This little bit of language that people use when they see a dad out and about with their kids–alone. What is it? It’s the idea that because there is no mother present that the dad is babysitting. Have you run into this situation before?

You’re walking through the mall, or Target, or are at the park with your kids in tow. And a stranger stops you.

“Oh, your kids are so cute. How’s Daddy doing babysitting you?”

Or, you’re out in public and one or all of your kids are having a meltdown. Someone approaches.

“Don’t worry kids, mommy will be back soon.”

It has happened to me. Thankfully it hasn’t happened a ton. But it has happened enough that it pisses me off to no end. I’m sorry? Did you just ask me if I was babysitting MY OWN KIDS?! Walk away. Walk away now.

This isn’t something that was planning on writing about, to be honest. But it’s long been something that annoys the hell out of me. Yesterday I read a post on Scary Mommy that is asserting the same thing that I am–and it really got me thinking about the subject again. Admittedly, I don’t usually care for most of the content that Scary Mommy puts out. But this one? It hit the nail on the head and I was really glad they published it. Dads are not babysitters. We are parents.

Is there somebody else giving me money that I am not aware of to take care of my children? That’s a big bag of nope! If someone wants to give me money, though, that’s cool. I like money.

But Nick, you say, why is it so bad to ask a dad if they are babysitting? They don’t mean anything by it. No. Just no. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t trying to be insulting or aren’t trying to insinuate that I’m less of a parent than my wife. But guess what? That’s exactly what you’re doing. I bust my ass to be the best damn dad I can be to Sophia and Maddie. And I’m damn proud to be their dad. If you haven’t noticed by the things I’ve written or the insane amount of pictures, quotes, and videos that I share of them, being a dad is my life. So, if you want to devalue that by calling me a babysitter, we’re going to have a problem.

dads-dont-babysit

That’s Chris Routly from Daddy Doctrines, proudly rocking his shirt from the National At-Home Dad Network. Image courtesy City Dads Group.

Look, I’m not saying that I’m going to explode in your face if you call me a babysitter. But you’ll get a death stare from me and probably a few words that you’ll wish I hadn’t said. Stop perpetuating the archaic stereotype that dads are the lesser of the parents. Guess what? Parenting is typically a team sport. And the team is usually 50/50. So, call me a dad, a father, ask me how my day of parenting my kids is going. Just don’t call me a babysitter. You’re better than that.

How Do You Know You’re a Good Parent?

I feel like the message is true. A lot.

I feel like the message is true. A lot.

How do you know that you’re a good parent? Honestly. There is not test you can take to find out if you’re doing a good job or a really terrible job. I mean, you can look at your kids, see how they act, see what they’ve learned, and take stock in that.

There are plenty of times when I look at myself as a father and think that I don’t have a damn clue what I’m doing. I feel like I’m failing my girls and not making the right choices for them–or for our family. It’s an awful way to feel. It’s not something that I want to have floating around in my head.

Outside of reading as many books on parenting as possible, reading as many parenting sites and magazines, as possible, and talking to other parents, how are we to know what is right? What’s best, breast or bottle? How long do you wait to introduce solid foods? What if I have a picky eater? My kid is being mean, not listening, and is an all-around pain in the butt, how do we fix that? What daycare is right? Am I being a helicopter parent? All these are questions and comments that have come from me or others that I know. AND WE HAVEN’T EVEN GOTTEN TO KINDERGARTEN YET! Continue reading

The Negotiator – Training for My Next Career

I don’t know about you, but my negotiation skills have been tested to the max lately. It doesn’t matter the time of day, the circumstances, or location. There is going to be some form of negotiating taking place. I’ll give Sophia credit–and probably every other kid, too–they don’t quit. They will low ball you at every turn. They play for keeps. They play dirty. I really am getting plenty of practice and on-the-job training that I have a good idea that I’d succeed–or fail miserably–in a future career as a hostage negotiator or deal-maker/breaker. One of the two.

I’m gonna talk about the two instances that are daily back-and-forths. Mealtime and bedtime. Continue reading

Damn You Teething, Damn You!

57085569Dear Sleep,

How are you, old friend? I hope life is treating you well, as I lay awake at night, readying myself for the next scream of pain coming from the room of my one-year old.

What’s the problem, you ask? Have you heard of this thing that babies do, it’s called teething? Oh you have? Good. Then you should know where I’m coming from. If you were not aware of this growing trend, where teeth fight, claw, scratch, and tear their way through the gums, I’d have to refer you to this handy illustrated guide, courtesy of my friends at How To Be A Dad.

You’d like to know what exactly happened? Well, friend that I see all too little of anymore, it’s simple really. Our youngest daughter, Maddie–she’s one now–has three of those little demon teeth pushing their way through her gentle baby-gums AT THE SAME TIME. Those demon teeth are pushing her temperature sky-high, making her uncomfortable at every turn, forcing her to scream for mercy. She just wants relief, Sleep. That’s all she wants. She wants those teeth to stop imposing their will on her gum-line. Just pop through and be done with it, demon teeth!

Let me tell you, Sleep, this whole teething thing is for the birds. Just last night was the worst we’ve experienced to this point. The clock struck 12 and the demons came to play. One whimper turned to an hour of screaming. Then to a short amount of sleep, back to an hour of screaming, back to short amount of sleep, and on and on and on it went until the wee hours of the morning. No amount of Advil or Tylenol or Ora-Jel could soothe her. Shortly before the alarm clock beeped to wake us for the day, poor little Maddie finally fell into your awaiting arms, Sleep.

One day, this whole teething world will be a thing of the past. And both my girls–as well as Sarah and I–will finally be able to re-connect with you, Sleep. It will be a joyous occasion. One where we all well-rested and free of pain and demon teeth. Until then, dear friend, rest easy and be well.

Yours in exhaustion,

Nick

Video

Sometimes Ya Gotta Do Stupid Things For Your Kids

Sometime all it takes is a hint of a laugh to break a child from the midst of tantrum-hood.

Knowing what you, as a parent–and tantrum-breaker–can do to get that laugh is going to change from instant-to-instant. Hurting yourself is one way to get a laugh. I’ve gone to that well far too many times to count. Sometimes it takes singing out-of-tune (as if I can sing any other way). Or, telling a joke.

But, there are times, like in the above video, where you just do something completely stupid and it works like gangbusters. To set the scene: We were on our way home on Monday night and Sophia was clearly tired and wanted her cup of PediaSure, which she has every night at bed time. Well, we didn’t have any with us. And we had a solid 30 minutes until we’d be home. The whining started. It got worse. And it got louder. So, in that instant I blurted out that I wanted my milk, in the highest, most baby-like voice I could muster. And, what do you know? It worked. To the point that she clamored for me to repeat it ad nauseam.

I had no idea I could make that voice. Believe me, I’ve done a million voices in my lifetime and THAT was never one of them. I’m glad Sarah was riding next to me to capture it–without me even knowing she was recording it. Seriously, sometimes it just takes you doing the most stupid thing you can think of to snap your kid from sure tantrum into laughter.

What are some of the stupid things you’ve done to snap your kid from falling into a tantrum? If there’s video, share it! Let me know in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter!

Our Little Linus — Maddie Needs That Blankie

Kids have a certain need to feel comfortable. At all times. Hell, even as adults, we have our own needs to feel comfortable. I know I do. Having something that can make you feel reassured whenever possible is a must for many people. For many adults, that item is oftentimes their smartphone. But, that isn’t what I’m gonna talk about. For lots of kids, through the ages, there is that one thing they just can’t let go of–the blankie.

Linus courtesy peanuts.wikia.com

Linus courtesy peanuts.wikia.com

Sophia never really had something that she would always need to have with her. Unless you count the pacifier. If you do, then she had that–for a long time. But, Maddie is different. Siblings can be different, did you know that, guys? It’s true. Maddie has recently taken to toting one of two blankies around with her, as often as possible. One if blue and one is brown. Aside from color, they’re virtually identical. Each has an animal head pillow, which I guess makes it more comforting–since she just plops that bad boy down and lays down in the middle of the floor all.the.time.

I’ll be honest, I love that she has found something that makes her happy, that makes her feel comfortable, that makes her feel a sense of security. Do I KNOW for a fact that’s how she feels? Of course not, she’s one, and can’t talk yet. But, I can sense it. She reminds me a lot of Linus from the Peanuts comic strips. Heck, she even looks like him half the time when she pulls the blue blankie around, as you can see in the picture above.

I honestly don’t remember if I had something that made me feel secure when I was a kid. There are two stuffed animals that I have a vivid memory of from my childhood–one a penguin, which I named after the book Mr. Popper’s Penguins. The other was a tiny stuffed clown with shoe laces to tie, a zipper on its hat, and buttons on its vest. His name was Buddy Buttons. I still own him. Sophia would sleep with him for a while, until the zipper snapped off and a jagged edge was left on his hat. As for his name, my cousins renamed him “Pee Pee Clown” when I was young. Why? They said I tossed him in my kiddie pool and proceeded to pee on him. Did it actually happen? I hope not. But, they claim it did, even all these years later.

Back to my main points. Knowing that your children have something they can hold tight–and hold dear–that makes them feel just a little more secure is a wonderful thing. Now, if Maddie is still clinging to that blankie when she hits her 20’s, well then that may be a different issue entirely!

What about you and your kids? Did you or they have something that makes them feel more secure? Let me know in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.