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Happy Father’s Day 2015

21 Jun

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Happy Father’s Day 2015 from Max, Dodge, Kate, Uncle Mark, and Dada!

Recent Studies Show Parenting Gets Harder As Kids Get Older

18 Jun

ScienceAs it turns out, parenting gets harder as your children get older.  Huh.  Whodda thunk?!  Yes, the days of strapping a miniature human being into a rolling snack chair and wheeling them wherever the heck you want have passed.  Now, we negotiate.  We negotiate everything.  We negotiate things like putting shoes on, taking naps, how many books to read, and the age-old debate of why one should wear pants to dinner at a restaurant.  Like any negotiation, things don’t always go to plan and sometimes you have to walk away from the table.  Sometimes you find yourself tacking on concessions that really have nothing to do with the main topic of negotiation.  Then, sometimes…you stare at a toddler as he flops on the ground like fresh caught fish and hold your ground.

Pants will be worn at dinner.

D&M by FireplaceMy kids are now 4 and 2…though Max would correct me to explain he is “4 and a half.”  He can tell you every birthday between now and his birthday…but he casually forgets how Velcro works when it is time to put on his shoes and go to summer school.  This morning Max played the “I don’t know how to” card when it came to putting on his shoes.  Kate negotiated.  I waited in the wings trying not to explode.  Max made a great case as to how he had forgotten how these specific shoes worked, when Dodge (the 2-year-old) casually slipped his shoes on and said, “Come on Max!”  There was an argument about something trivial which ended in Max shouting, “I don’t want you to be my brother anymore.”  Negotiations stopped.  ” Patient Kate” reluctantly stepped aside as “Militant Dada” stepped into the room and explained to Max that if he didn’t put his shoes on that was fine, but that I would be giving away all his toys to kids his age who could put their shoes on.  Max rapidly put his shoes on without issue and changed into his shirt for school.  There were tears.  I didn’t mind.  I cockily smiled at Kate as if to say, “You’re welcome.”  She sneered back with disapproval as if to say, “You’re not helping you loud-mouth bully.”

…and that is why we have sought counseling.

As it turns out, for the bazillionth time in my life, I am not special.  It would appear this is as common as my garden variety anxiety I wear like a get-out-of-jail-free badge.  It would appear my getting flummoxed over why Max is such a turd sometimes is a condition called “Being the Parent of a 4 Year Old.”  Sorry…4 and a half-year old.  Like Steve Martin in the movie “Parenthood,” I’m high-strung and overreacting to common parenting situations.  Those of you who know me, know that sounds crazy.  <insert long pregnant pause here>  However, this isn’t a movie and I’m not Cowboy Gil Buckman learning to “go with it” via a roller-coaster montage.  I’m me…and I need help.  So what do we do?  We hired a third-party to listen to us and tell us what we’re missing, a parenting specialist.  While I HATE reading self-help books…my kids’ futures are at stake, so there’s those I have to read too.  The basic plan is this:

  • Kate wasn’t raised the way I was so she doesn’t get my parenting style
  • I wasn’t raised the way Kate was so I don’t get her parenting style
  • We both need to stop trying to be like our parents
  • We need to develop a NEW process to parent our children together

283036-pop-tarts-chocolate-vanilla-creme-1Lets all sing Kumbaya and talk about our feelings to the sound of a bongo.  Ugh.  I hate doing the right thing.  My parents rocked as parents.  Rocked!  They are the coolest parents I know, I love the relationship I have with them, and I want to be just like them when I grow up (if I ever grow up).  Kate’s parents rock!  They are also the coolest parents I know, I love the way they handle things in their family, and I hope I can have the same relationship with my kids when they grow up.  Two very different styles.  Two very different kids as a result…who fell in love, got married, and cranked out 2 kids who are looking to us to show them the way.  Okay…yeah.  The whole stop trying to be your parent and be yourself thing makes sense.  I’m 35…okay 35 and a half…okay I turn 36 in one month!  I’m 4 years from 40 and just want to run through the sprinkler, eat Pop-Tarts, and watch cartoons all day.  How do I have kids?  I started this site to document my 30’s and discuss parenthood…and now I’m on the downward skid towards 40 and it turns out I don’t know what the heck I’m talking about when it comes to parenting?  Wait, wait…get this:  I’m not alone.  Everyone reading this is either saying to themselves:

  • “Won’t happen to me.” (it’s coming)
  • “Get over it already.” (going through it)
  • “Just you wait Ryan.” (went through it)

Don’t believe me?  Check the comment section.  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  Leave a comment while you’re there.

To bring it full circle, as it turns out, parenting gets harder as your children get older.  Huh.  Whodda thunk?!  Since I do like to leave my constant readers with a little advice or something to take away from my writing, I’ll say this:  Of course it gets harder.  Parenting is shifting away from making decisions for your kids and into helping them make better informed decisions for themselves.  Some decisions you will not like.  Many you will not like.  You are integrating a new personality into your family unit…and that personality is prone to change…daily.  If you are in over your head, ask for help.  If you are being a loud-mouth bully like me, ask for help.  If you think you are doing great, ask for help.  A little outside perspective never hurt anyone.  Worst case scenario you find out you’re doing exactly what you should be doing.

So raise a glass, if you can over your ponch that suddenly showed up in the last few years unannounced and makes you feel “crumpled” when you sit and try to type a blog about your 30’s.  Anyone?  Anyone?  Bueller?  Bueller?  No?  Just me?  A toast!  To being another statistic!  I’m a dad in his 30’s struggling with a toddler’s statistically common “bad” behavior.  Cheers.  Seriously though…can we start drinking yet?  I’ll turn on the sprinkler and get the Pop-Tarts!

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Who Needs Alarm Clocks When You Have Kids and Pets?

2 Jun

Screenshot_2015-06-02-10-45-05For whatever reason, my boys slept in this morning.  By “slept in” I mean they slept past 6:30 AM which is a blessing on the weekends but not during the work week when I rely on them as my alarm clock.  No matter how early or late my wife Kate and I put our kids to sleep…they are up between 6 and 6:30 AM.  Dodge (2) tends to wake up with a cry while Max (4) usually wakes up with a mad dash to the bathroom and a thunder-pee.  This routine makes setting an alarm clock redundant because by 6:45 you can bet there are 2 stinky boys jumping up and down on the bed and breathing morning-breath directly into my nasal passage.  Ahhhhhh…parenthood.

Recently Kate made a rule that no child was allowed to leave their room before 7 AM on Saturday and Sunday mornings.  We placed a clock in their room, worked with Max on his numbers, and put Max in charge.  Oddly…it worked.  However, at 7:01, both boys are creepily standing next our bed staring wide-eyed at us as we sleep whispering things to us like, “We waited…we waaaaaaited!!!”

Thanks guys.

This morning, however, no child was bedside at 7 AM.  Nor at 7:15.  Not at 7:30.  I am now late for work but have no idea because…I’m a parent of two little kids and I don’t know what sleeping in feels like!  It’s like finding a $100 bill in your winter coat…then checking the other pocket and finding a satchel of rare jewels like in the final scene of the Goonies.  Its glorious…except when it makes you late for work.  Never fear!  We have a 17 year-old cat named Luna who has discovered the trickiest way I have ever seen to wake us up.  You see…when we sleep in, Luna doesn’t get fed at 6:45 and she gets pissed.  She’s old.  She’s a sack of bones draped with fur and topped with a set of vocal chords that have two settings: “Whine” and “Whine Loudly.”  As the sun starts to pour in through the windows around 6 AM she starts whining softly.

Luna?  Shhhhh.

Then she climbs up next to your face and whines in your ear.

Luna!  Come on!

It is important to note that Luna’s bowl of food is an over-sized cereal bowl of dry food which has never been empty…but the idea that it might dip below 1/2 full causes her great anxiety.  Sometimes we just scoop food out of the bowl and drop it back in…she needs to hear that sound of dry food going into that bowl.  By now she is standing next to the bowl with a look of great concern as she crosses over from whine to howl.

Luna!!!  Shut up!!!

This does not go over well with sack of bones and fur.  Her ears drop and she shoots me a look of veteran cat-knowledge as if to say, “Oh yeah?  I know how to get you out of bed.”  Then she trots out to the hallway and howls in the echoes of the stairwell.

Luna!  Don’t do it!

Then I hear it.  The sound of her pushing open the door to the boys’ room, climbing up on Dodge’s bed, and in her loudest voice howling into Dodge’s face.  Dodge wakes up crying instantly.  Max runs to the bathroom narrowly avoiding peeing his pants.  The house goes from a sunbeam sprinkled time capsule to a cacophony of sounds in less than a millisecond.  Max and Dodge waste no time and immediately find something to argue over.  The real world come crashing into our bedroom and in a matter of seconds…WE ARE AWAKE!

Then…only then…does Luna give the softest, kindest, most adorable and imploring “meow” as she stands next to her 80% full bowl of food.  Kate drops in the remaining 20%.  Luna is satisfied and the day has begun.

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Emails From My 2 Year Old

6 Mar

A couple of times in the past I have used this site to write letters to my boys for them to read when they’re older.  Now, they are writing to me.  Max (4) is starting to read and can write his name as well as a few other words while Dodge (2) thinks my name is “Dada Butt.”  Both boys are amazed by anything with buttons and the flock jukeboxes and ATMs whenever we are out to eat.  What else has buttons?  Phones.  Dodge has taken to emailing me while I’m at work where (I recently found out) Max thinks I go to play video games on my computer all day and “get stuff.”  Understandable since the only time he has ever used a computer was to play a game and whenever we swing by my office on weekends I tell him I need to run inside to “get some stuff.”  Makes sense.  I play games and get stuff.  Pay is pretty good too.  Anywho, I don’t know if it is through my wife’s phone, tablet or laptop but I love getting emails from Dodge.  Here is what he has to say:


kkl./kmkjkl;;;;from doDg e////;pkjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjjj”/// .;.,n nm,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,…

gfffffg.jjjlkjjjjgvfff]TOTALjjkjhjjjl,,,.//  ? nlkjbvvbbbcc    m,,,;/.,njffjj’njjjjjjjjjklll
,p,nnm  

k,jj     ,,,,,,,,,,,[[[,,

..  ;jjj..mhmjl.//ikj./

mk                 jl/.,m     njyu\/ k k  i mn ;;…….;;           hhhhhhhhj                ggggiiii m,uiyyc 

  cc   ,./   

mnn….    n    umgb               [[. 

Ha

/7yyyy7g


Thanks buddy…I love you too.  -Dada Butt

Dodge's Christmas Piano

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Dodge’s 2nd Birthday

2 Mar

IMG_5687It was a week in which my youngest, Dodge, grew up in many ways culminating to his 2nd birthday on Sunday.  Dodge is a soft-spoken little boy with soft straw blonde hair and piercingly blue eyes.  He can melt your heart with a smile, he squeezes hard when he hugs, and when he wants something like candy he turns into a screaming devil.  He sleeps stomach down in his bed with his feet on his pillow and his face towards the foot of the bed with his tiny rump protruding into the air.  He spends a good majority of the day pretending he’s a dog with his tongue hanging out, panting, woofing, and occasionally licking things like household objects that shouldn’t be licked.  He’s spent the last two years fending off his older brother, Max, who is almost a foot taller than him and thunderously affectionate to the point of smothering.  He’s shorter, stockier, and has sharp elbows.  We call him “Big D” or “Dodgeball” depending on the situation.  He’s a fantastic little boy on the verge of passing through toddlerhood into boyhood.

Dodge’s 2 year coronation began midweek when he decided to casually toss the F-bomb into conversation at about 7:15 AM to see if he was using it correctly.  “Time to put your shoes on Dodge,” my wife Kate told him.  Dodge smiled wide and happily replied, “Fuck that!”  The look on his face after can only be called sheer joy.  He awaited applause from us as if we were going to say, “Good job!  You used that correctly!”  In his defense…the context was perfect.  He didn’t want to put on his shoes.  However, he’s 2 and gets timeouts for arguing…this got him grounded and there were multiple conversations to follow.

20150301_154547On Saturday Dodge and Max (who is 4) were cooped up inside after snow and sleet covered the land.  They were running back and forth through the living room and slamming into the chairs…trying to knock them over…as boys do.  After successfully knocking a few things over I sent them upstairs to play.  They share a room, there are tons of toys up there, and they can bounce off the walls for all I care…and they did.  They had a great time and played together fantastically.  Then I heard Dodge scream…I mean screeeeeeam!  I ran to the bottom of the stairs to find Max and Dodge standing at the top of the stairs fighting over a toy that Dodge had and Max wanted back.  Max tried to take it away and Dodge hit him.  Max, stunned for a second, hit him back.  Then it happened.  They stood toe-to-toe and started trading punches back and forth.  Tiny fists!  Tiny smacks!  Both had their eyes closed and their arms extended as their little heads popped back every now and then as the other landed a blow.  I was not prepared for this, this is too soon for fist fights!  “Hey!”  I shouted from the bottom of the stairs as I made my way up.  They stopped hitting, and Dodge took this opportunity to hit Max in the side of the head with the toy in what you could call either a cheap shot, a winning move, or a reminder that though he is smaller…he’s not to be trifled with.  Whatever you call it, the toy now belongs to me and both boys ended up grounded.  The fun part was watching how fast they went from enemies to friends working together to get out of being grounded.  I remember it well from days past with my sister.

Then Sunday came.  The big day.  Dodge was 2.  We started off by going to the YMCA to swim in the kid pool where Dodge invented a game where all the adults were crocodiles and he was coming to get us.  It was hysterically fun and the look on his face as he said, “I’m gonna get you!” was priceless.  As always, I slipped away to the deep pool with Max to honor my agreement with him.  Plain and simple: I take Max swimming in the shallow kid pool so long as each time he lets me work with him on real swimming in the deep pool.  We did our usual with the swim board, worked on getting his feet up while kicking, and dunking our head under water.  Then we put the swim board aside and I held Max as he swam with my help.  Then it happened…on Dodge’s 2nd birthday in the YMCA pool.  I felt Max drifting away from my hand…he was swimming.  So I let go.  At first he panicked…then he started kicking and wham!  Swimming.  No vest.  No help needed.  Swimming.  He swam about 10 feet, pretty awesome for his first time.  He did it a few times.  Each time he swam better than before.  It was awesome.

20150301_154554After the Y the boys were wiped and went down for a nap which gave us the time to set up for Dodge’s “Uptown Funk Dance Party” themed birthday.  We had disco lights, balloons, Uptown Funk on the TV, cool sunglasses, cake, cupcakes, and more.  Kate’s parents got Dodge a fedora like the one Bruno Mars wears in the music video and he excitedly donned it as he showed off his sweet dance moves.  He and Max danced, they shouted out their favorite part (“Call the police and the Fireman!”), and it was awesome.  Dodge wore his fedora all day and was keenly aware that it was HIS birthday.  He wore the fedora in the car, he wore it at dinner that night, and he would have gone to bed with it had we not told him it would get smooshed.

As I stroked his straw blonde hair and watched his piercingly blue eyes drift off to La La Land that night I asked him, “Dodge…how old are you.”  He smiled at me and said, “I’m two!”  Then he held up eight fingers.  Close enough.  I told him about the day he was born and how excited I was to meet him.  I told him about how Max held him when he was one day old and kissed his forehead.  I told him how stubborn he was even back then.  I told him about the first time I held him.  Then I told him what I tell both my boys every night:

Dada loves you no matter what.  There is nothing you can do to make me stop loving you or love you less.  Every day I love you more, my love is a tree that grows and grows.  You are special, there isn’t another person like you anywhere in the world.  You are the only you and I love you.

Dodge cuddling Luna, our cat.

Dodge cuddling Luna, our cat.

Then Dodge squeezed me extra hard and kissed my cheek.  “Love you Dada.”  He replied.  I tucked Max in and congratulated him on his swimming accomplishments, sang them their favorite song, blew kisses, and said the same thing I say every night, “Night, night.  Sleep tight.  Don’t let the bed bugs bite.  I’ll see you in my dreams tonight.  I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always, as long as I’m living, my babies you’ll be.”  Both boys rolled over and yawned.  “I love you!”  I said.  “LOVE YOOOOUU!!!”  They shout back together.  “See you for breakfast,” I said as I closed the door to their room, “Happy Birthday Dodge.”  Then…silence.  Then, “I’m two!”  I imagine 8 fingers were held up victoriously in the air.

It’s good to be the Dada.

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