My daughter is now saying please, thank you, and bless you! The best part is that she’s using them correctly. We get a lot of “beshy” around the house because it’s that time of year when everyone is sick because my wife works at a hospital and my daughter goes to daycare. Germs just kind of hang around our house. My wife, bless her soul, gets the sniffles like it’s nobody’s business … and she should keep that business private if you ask me… and my daughter is a fountain of never ending boogies so I’m saturated in seasonal disease. I’m as sneazy as a bubble boy in a hay field and Emma is Johnny-on-the-spot, always ready to say “beshy.”
It always catches me off guard when she says it because it means that she’s kind of conversational now. It also means that she has at least some understanding of social and conversational cues (which is more than most adults I meet these days) and that now I have to really watch what I say around her or “beshy” will turn into “ooo dish bish ray heer.”
Then there’s “peas” and “tank ooo”. She loves peas but I’m pretty sure that’s not what she’s saying.
I feel like a bad parent, but I don’t think we taught her to say “please.” I mean, I say it to my wife and she says it to me and we always follow up with a thank you because we’re nice people. Well, we’re nice to each other… most of the time. But we’ve never sat down and said to Emma, “Hey kid… say please when you ask us for something” or “HEY… I just did you a solid so now you say ‘thank you’… or you can start changing your own diapers.”
So where did she learn it? I’d like to think that she’s learning it by observation, but she’s probably picking it up at daycare.
I fear this is just the start of a whole mess of things she’s going to learn from other people. Next thing you know she’ll be vaping on the corner with the cool kids, then starting yoga in park for the homeless until she runs off to join the Scientologists. Gross.
At least she’ll have good manners.
(Editor’s note: I’ve been corrected. My wife says we taught her “please”. “Thank you” she randomly started saying one day after school. So now I feel like a bad parent for forgetting.)
SUV- Super Uber Vehicle
We recently purchased a “family” vehicle. I had one, mind you. It was a 4 door sedan which I purchased knowing that I would ask Kelly to marry me, that she would say yes, and we would eventually have a well mannered child who would use the rear two doors on a regular basis.
I’m not saying I’m psychic, but….
Anywho, over time I paid off my car, used it to move across the country… twice, and when Emma was born, used it to bring her home from the hospital for the first time. It was a great car. Reliable, good looking (considering what I could get on an illustrator’s salary), and mine. Sadly, we outgrew it. We needed more out of a vehicle. More space for people and things and more room to spread out in. So I did what I said I’d never do and bought an SUV.
Scholars claim that the meaning of SUV has been lost to time, but I’ve learned that it means “Super Uber Vehicle” … because I’m basically an Uber driver and my SUV is a super vehicle. See how I mansplained that?
Well, now that I’ve switched to the dark side I can’t turn back. I’ve gone completely “’merica” over my oversized ride. I’m now that guy with the super bright LED headlights who blind you at night. And they’re brand spanking new so you know retinas are being burnned out left and right.
Driving it home on our first night somebody even flashed their brights at me like I had MY brights on. I had to flash my own brights just to make sure I didn’t and I vaporized the car in front of us.
But the real reason we got it was safety. It’s big, sturdy, looks like it can take more of a hit than my Elantra and has a gajillion cameras. I mean, it tells me if I’m drifting lanes, shows me video of all angles around the car, and magically has a top down view of the car when I’m in reverse… like I have my own satellite looking down on me all the time. I feel like Tony Stark, this thing is so teched out!!! And my family is safe(r)…
Smile, you’re on TV
Speaking of safety and cameras, we added video surveillance to our house. Do I feel unsafe? No. But I have a daughter now and I’m over protective.
Scrap that, I’m just protective enough.
The world is scary, especially when you’re a parent. You always have to look after someone who doesn’t necessarily have their own best interests or safety in mind.
Candy from strangers? You should have seen Emma on Halloween. If I wasn’t there she would have never found her way home. So I ate her candy to teach her a lesson… and I’ll do it again every year until she realizes what’s going on, dammit.
Her safety is my main concern, though, and it’s a good thing I put those cameras up because I just found out the other day that there might be a boy in her class with a little crush.
Too Young to Date
Yes… I know she’s only 17 months old… but it feels like she was born yesterday. I get the feeling that she’s really popular at her daycare. She’s always waving to people and we’ve seen the other kids saying “Emma Emma Emma” as we’ve come to pick her up.
It might be the name. It’s super easy for toddlers to say. I mean it’s so close to “mamma” that it just rolls off the tongue for them.
So now there are little boys walking up saying “Emma!” One morning as we were dropping her off a little boy… I don’t know his name… runs up and was like “Emma!”
Which I took to mean, “Hey girl, where you been?! I missed you. You wanna play blocks?” and he proceeded to hug her.
Now, I was halfway out the door and as I turned to say my last goodbye I saw this happen. OH NUH UH, KID! You don’t go huggin’ my daughter. I’m not even in the parking lot yet and you’re trying to share sippies with my progeny?! No way. My daughter is way too nice.
If she didn’t go around saying “PEAS!” and “TANK OOO” all the time and being so nice maybe boys will just leave her alone. …Being a dad is hard.
So, yeah… cameras around the house. Cameras around the car. Cameras everywhere that call me whenever someone starts to creep up on my kid. The name of the game is safety, people… safety.
That’s it for now. As always Happy Parenting… and tell your kids my daughter won’t be dating till she’s 30.
I consider my life up to this point a success because my kid still has all her fingers. That’s not to say that she hasn’t tried losing them on a regular basis, though. If a door is shutting and she wants it open, BAM!, hand in the doorway. Doggie gate shutting to keep her from putting all the dry puppy chow in the water bowl? BAM! Hand in the gate. She’s quick, y’all, and quiet to boot! She sneaks up like a little ninja and the fact that she’s only thigh high means if you have failing peripheral vision you might just injure her as she’s imposing herself between you and your task at hand. Most likely, you’ll just trip over her and she’ll walk away unscathed. Sometimes she’s like a little tank. Aside from a few bruises and bumps there haven’t been any crushed bones or cuts or scrapes. So… life up to this point, parenting-wise, has been a success. Congratulate me later.
In our house we don’t throw around ownership a lot. M’lady and I share everything and as a result we refer to a lot of things as “ours” or assign a joint ownership over things when we refer to them, like “We cleaned up the house super nice for y’all” when we have guests… when we both know that daddy did the cleaning while mommy was at work 🙂
Despite our semi-socialist rhetoric and downplaying of personal wealth and achievements in favor of portraying a fortified family unit to the world, our daughter learned the word “MINE” from someone. It could have been at daycare. OK… it was at daycare because that’s the only time she’s out of sight.
Now everything is “MINE” this and “MINE” that. And it’s not just when she thinks she owns something. It’s when she wants to impose her will on a situation. “Mine” is a polysemic term to express that she wants something right in that moment. It could be milk, a cookie, or to be doing the opposite of what you’re trying to get her to do. “Mine” is like her telling the world “My way or the highway!!!”
In the mornings I’ll do a little cage fight with her to brush her teeth. I prop her up on the bathroom counter where she gets a toothbrush to play with and I get a toothbrush to “brush” her teeth. I say “brush” but really it’s just me feeding her toothpaste because she sucks it all off the bristles before I can even get a single scrub on her little pearly whites. Somewhere in the process she’ll whip her head to the side, pulling away from the toothbrush I’m trying to clean her teeth with, and rest her head on my shoulder.
Now this is emotionally confusing to me, because part of me wants to scream, “JUST HOLD STILL, KID!” but her adorable little head on my shoulder is so dang cute that my rage subsides. Then she raises her head and I realize I have toothpaste all over my shirt… which most of the time is black, and the cuteness fades a bit. I want to scream, “DAMMIT, KID!” but I don’t. You just gotta swallow that feeling or your kid might end up all weird as an adult. You know the type of person I’m talking about. I mean, we’re all weird, but there are those people where you look at them and you’re like, “Ooooh… their folks messed them up something fierce.” And on that point, try not to judge people because glass houses and all that.
In summation, my child has learned to be possessive from someone and if I find that person I’m going to have words with their parents, because ooooh… their folks messed them up something fierce.
DISOBEY!: Kids and their opinions
So “MINE, MINE, MINE” is my life now. My kid has a solid sense of self and with that comes opinions. “What could a 16 month old possibly be opinionated about, Chris?”
HA, NOOB! They have opinions about EVERYTHING!
Hate the food I cooked for you after you’ve been eating it for the past 5 minutes? Throw it on the floor!
Hate the lullaby I’ve been singing to you since you were born? Start crying as soon as I open my mouth!
Hate being held by your loving parents after it’s been your sole mode of transportation for your whole life? Flail your body around until they lose their grip and drop you! (We’ve never dropped her.)
My kid knows what we’re saying. She’s a smart cookie. She knows what some words mean, can say some words to us, knows a bit of baby sign language, and definitely knows if we don’t want her to do something. And yet, she disobeys at every stage.
“Emma, can you come here please?” Walks the other way.
“Emma, can you pick up your toys?” Runs away.
“Emma, it’s time to get ready for bed.” Falls to the floor and plays dead.
She’s opinionated and I don’t like it when it’s aimed at me 😉
Walking, Talking, Sharking
She’s super #$%@ing mobile, too! She’s so dang fast! Imagine this, you’re sitting on my couch… let’s make it your couch for familiarity, and off in the distance you hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet. It’s fast. It’s coming and going in all directions. You can’t place it. If only you can pinpoint where it’s coming from! Then all of sudden you hear gibberish as something whizzes by you. “YEABOY YEABOY YEABOY YEABOY” it says as it quickly fades away in the distance. Then a scream … a laugh… a cry… Where is it? You look down and there’s a toddler standing in front of you pointing to the TV. “BEBE”, she says as she urges you to turn on baby shark for the umpteenth time.
“BEBE! BEBE!!! BEEEEBEEE!!!” She screams until baby shark is turned on.
Babyshark has over 3 million views on youtube.
So my kid loves to take my stuff. With my wife, it’s shoes. She has a shoe rack, but if her shoes don’t make it back to the rack they become Emma’s property. With me though, anything she sees she takes. Most recently she took my nunchucks. I have them in an easily accessible place just in case I need them. Well, she got to them. She did look pretty awesome with them, though. After procuring my nunchucks she continued to take more things from around my nightstand, which technically since she was armed, makes her a thief.
Here’s a friendly reminder to cut your kid’s nails. Emma has a habit of waking up and walking to our room at 3 am to sleep in our bed. This happened one night and I wasn’t aware that she was there. So, in her typical ninja fashion, she starts silently and creepily tapping at my back… like a cat with a scratching post. I had no idea what was going on. All of a sudden I was asleep and content and then I was in pain.
I thought it was my wife because sometimes she wakes me up in the middle of the night for no good reason. She tries to be subtle, but I don’t know how long the subtly lasts, because she doesn’t know her own strength and ends up hurting me, too. Sometimes it’s like a punch. Sometimes it’s just sharp nails tapping at me.
So, 15 stitches later, what I learned is that my daughter is just like her mother.
All of these things, though, mean, to me, that I have an independant and intelligent baby. Watching her grow up is the best thing in the world. She loves to be read to and prefers books to toys. She communicates, which will get better with time and then taper off in her teenage years. So for now I cherish the gibberish. I don’t know what she’s saying, but I have an idea. I’m pretty sure she’s saying, “Dad, you’re the best person in the world and I’m so happy to be your kid.” That or, “When you sleep I will cut you and take your stuff.”
Well, that’s it for now. I’m trying to stay on track with this blog now a days. OH, we’re changing the title, too, since I’m no longer a stay-at-home dad. We’re calling it, “Boogies and Ink” since it’s about an artist and his family.
We’re back… again! Why has it been forever and a day since our last update? That’s a good question. I’ve been trying to write, finish, post this little recap of my family’s life for MONTHS NOW!! Let’s review our table of contents from last time and see what’s sucked up all my time by picking up where we left off, shall we? Chapter 2, “New job… on top of owning a business”
Family “Vacation” and the reason for my time away from blogging
New Job…on top of owning a business
Baptism- because God (and my mother) demand it
Birthday- you’re all grown up
1yr check up or a nightmare of needles and incompetence
New Job…on top of owning a business
So, after I almost fed my daughter to a vicious dolphin… I accepted an offer from one of my clients to join their company… full-time. YAY! The great thing is that I believe in what they’re doing and I like the work. The crazy part is that the work doesn’t end. I mean, I’m up to my neck in animation. After that I’m up to my eyebrows in dirty diapers.
The smell is atrocious.
Normally, as a freelance artist, finding work is a little bit of feast or famine. You either have too much or too little. The saving grace is that when the work is overly abundant you can always say “No, I don’t like your project. I don’t want this. NOOOOPE!” Normally if I was going to reject an offer to work I’d just sit back in my chair on the other end of a phone call or email and furiously shake my head yelling “NO NO NO!” to myself… just like my daughter does when I ask her to do anything. Yep, she’s in the “No” phase. It’s”no” to everything except Goldfish crackers.
When you’re salaried, though, you can either say “yes” or “good bye” because you’re either on board or you get off at the next stop if you can’t handle the ride. But like I keep telling Kelly, “I’m retired, I just work to pay the bills.”
As a result of my good fortune I’ve opted to not take on any other clients at the moment. After all, my number one job is being a parent, which has been my favorite job of all… despite the onslaught of dirty diapers that I endure on a daily basis.
And that was chapter 2. Not too long winded. Speaking of long winded, I was once asked to take part in a debate in high school by my drama teacher. Mind you, I wasn’t part of any debate team… she just asked me to go to the highschool one town over and debate a stranger on some topic. I had no formal training in this so I didn’t know how to prepare. Plus, I wasn’t really into it. But, my ma is Sicilian and I figured, “debate… that’s in my blood. I got this.” Worse case scenario? I guilt trip the other kid to death for even considering to uphold the ideals of his end of the topic. I had this.
Well, cut to the debate (for the life of me I can’t remember what we were talking about), I show up and can’t argue to save my life. This other kid was prepared… I mean she was there with actual details and facts and figures. People loved her. And me… well the Sicilian in me took a nap. The Filipino woke up big time, though, and like my father did with me, I gave her a mean look and basically retorted with something along the lines of, “ Look, I’m right, you’re wrong. This makes sense to me and it should to you, too. If you don’t get it then you need to see a doctor, because you got something loose upstairs. What’s so hard about this, huh? OK, enough. You’re grounded.”
That was my one and only formal debate.
Baptism- because God (and my mother) demand it
OOOH, OH, OH! Emma was baptised. I’d like to say something funny about this… but I’m Catholic and susceptible to soul crushing guilt and a fear of spending eternity in a less than ideal situation, like having a tiny, no show sock roll off your heel and bunch up under the arch of your foot during a jog. Yeah… so no baptism jokes today. I did write a haiku, though:
We baptised our kid
Grandma tried to record it
Old folks don’t tech well
Yep, my ma stood there for a good half hour recording the whole thing on my phone only to have the whole thing not actually record. That’s kind of funny. All in all, though, it was a good time and my daughter’s on the heavenly grid.
Birthday- you’re all grown up
Soon after her baptism Emma turned 1!!! It was a huge gathering… of adults. At the time, we didn’t have any friends in the area with kids so it wasn’t much of a “kids” party. That’s alright, though, because honestly she won’t remember it any ways. But she’s one now. Now we have a toddler rather than an infant. I had no idea that that was the cut off. She’s still a “baby” to me, albeit a baby that shows grown up tendencies more and more every day. For example… she’s smart and she uses that intelligence for nefarious means like taking my stuff for herself. “Ooh a watch? Now it’s a teether!” Or “OOOOH, remote controls/phones/keys, shoes, dangerous objects you left out…. Teethers!!!!”
We’ve started a game called “WHAT’S IN YOUR MOUTH?! SPIT IT OUT!” …I play the same game with the dog. You play it like this: just go about your day and as soon as your baby (or dog) are just beyond arm’s length away they put something in their mouth. Then you drop everything you’re doing like you’re in a flash mob and reach in their mouth to fish out whatever it is they’re eating. It’s a fun game. She’s also walking now and sleeping (most nights) in her toddler bed.
It’s been so long since I started writing this that I HAVE to mention that she’s walking, climbing, and has nearly a full mouth of teeth. That last one really makes fishing foreign objects out of her mouth a sick game of “cannibal baby”.
The toddler bed and walking baby mean that she’s up roaming the house in the middle of the night. For safety reasons, we keep our bedroom door open, just in case she comes wandering in. Let’s be real, though, she always comes wandering in. She doesn’t always give us a heads up. Sometimes we’ll just hear her rummaging through our stuff like a thief in the night. Then we play a game of “Baby Burgled What?”… that’s where your kid takes your stuff in the middle of the night … and probably tries to eat it. Then you see if you’re fast enough to get it out of their mouth without losing a finger.
It’s fun and really keeps you on your toes.
1yr check up or a nightmare of needles and incompetence
Speaking of fun… you know what’s not fun? Your baby getting shots… and blood draws. God awful nightmares-come-to-life, they are!!! It goes against every instinct as a parent to put your child in harm’s way or do anything that’ll make them cry. I mean, they do enough of that of their own volition so why give one more reason to reach in and wrench your soul with their banshee’s wail? But sometimes modern medicine requires sacrifice. That sacrifice comes in the form of holding your child as she tries to wrench free of your embrace as some stranger jabs her in the arm and steals her precious blood like some salaried vampire.
Now… normally we’re pretty cool with the vaccines and what not, but this time around it was nearly impossible to stay calm. The pediatrician ordered a blood draw at the 1 yr checkup, and for some reason the nurse drawing blood couldn’t find a vein. So here we are, needle in my kid, her screaming, no blood.
How is this situation made (not) better?? By this lady just moving the needle around my kid’s flesh looking for a vein!!! The screams just kept coming louder and louder and still no blood. 3 nurses later… and me using my grown up voice to show my distaste for the situation, we finally got some blood.
Each wriggle and squirm she exhibited from stabbing pain jabbed me a hundred times over and I broke a little bit inside. You can’t show that, though. You can’t just get up and leave with your kid while a needle is sticking out of her. You can’t stop everything and roundhouse kick everyone in the room with your parental rage…. What you can do is take every lollipop on the way out as payment for you and your child’s suffering. And I’ll do that at every appointment from that day until the end of my days.
That’s not to say I can be paid off with candy if you come at me or my kid.
I do like candy, though.
So that’s the last few months of my time as a parent. I’ve had some requests to pick the blog and Emma comic back up so I’m going to try to do just that. One of the harder things in life is finding a good work/life balance. The key there is to realize that work isn’t life. We’re not here to work (despite putting in 12 hour days and weekends). And at times, when you love your work, it’s difficult to draw a distinction between the two. I find that it’s a lot easier to draw that line when you have a child. I mean, I like spending time with my kid- she can’t speak, but she’s funny. She can be a pain, but she’s adorable. And I get to see a human being in possibly the best moments of my life start to become… like a person. Every time I look at my kid she’s like a little person, like a little pygmy or something. It blows my mind. There’s no way I’m gonna miss out on her growing up for some job. …that being said, I do have to pay some bills… sooooo… sacrifices like going without sleep or a workout have to be made. But that’s life, eh? Sacrifice, compromise, ups… downs… and this blog. So thanks for reading, and if you’re a parent who is having trouble balancing life and work just hang in there. Life happens whether you want it to or not. There will be plenty of birthdays, day drinking at a kids party, and inept medical professionals testing your last nerve and driving you to steal candy. As always… Happy Parenting.
Hi! How are ya? What?! Where have we been?! Well, I’m glad you asked; let me tell ya.
First, I’d like to preface that if you’re a parent (who parents like me) then you have no time at all to yourself. Nada. Zero. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being “no time to yourself” and 10 being “Oh, look at me living like I’m a carefree, childless 20-something; maybe I’ll go to Starbucks and do some social justice warrior retweeting and look up ‘impeachment'”, being a parent rates at a whopping -10,000. NEG-A-TIVE TEN THOUSAND!
With that being said a lot has been going on… so much I don’t even know where to start. I feel like I need a table of contents. Oh look… Here’s one now.
Family “Vacation” and the reason for my time away from blogging
New Job…on top of owning a business
Baptism- because God (and my mother) demand it
Birthday- you’re all grown up
1yr check up or a nightmare of needles and incompetence
I’ll try to be concise in my recounting of the past few months because this is the internet and I’ve already lost your attention. That’s OK. We can still be friends.
Family “Vacation” and the reason for my time away from blogging
To be fair, there are plenty of reasons I’ve stayed away from updating my family, friends, clients, and a whole world of strangers about our life. One reason is that I’m not a blogger. This isn’t how I make money. I have plenty of things that require my time and attention that take precedence over an online journal because they either a) keep my family alive or b) …make money that I use to keep my family alive. It’s not that I’m chasing the almighty dollar, in fact I’m running away from it. But it costs money to run this race… like a 5k. So it’s a vicious cycle of me running from money while throwing money away that I pick up along the way. Let me tell ya, it’s tiring.
I digress- vacations. Vacations should be relaxing. So why would I bring an infant? Infants aren’t, by definition, relaxing. Why sabotage my relaxation with a child. I’d like to reference reason “a” in the last paragraph- I need to keep my family alive. I can’t leave her alone, so I take her with me. Plus, I love my kid so we kick it together pretty often. But what did we do, as new parents, that made me avoid writing about our vacation sooner? Well… have you seen Black Fish?
No, this has nothing to do with the inhumane treatment of Orcas. It does have to do with Sea World, though, and that’s where this story starts. My wife and I love San Diego. I love the beach. We love ice cream on the beach. We love authentic mexican food close to the beach with pitchers of mojitos and we wanted to share all that with our child. Everything but the pitcher of mojitos. That’s a mommy/daddy beverage 🙂 (which we avoided this time around because of baby.)
So we’re in SoCal to do the SoCal thing and we thought, “Hey, we should bring Emma to Sea World!” Awesome, right? Best parents ever!
Now, bringing an infant to a theme park doesn’t seem very logical. You can’t take them on the rides. You’re stuck waiting in long lines to ride by yourself while the other parent watches the kiddo. You’re spending a week’s worth of salary on nutrient deficient carnival food. So we want to avoid places like that until Emma’s old enough to enjoy it. DisneyLand for example, we’ll avoid that place for awhile. At least until ticket prices are double what they are currently… so like next month maybe? We knew Disneyland wouldn’t make an impression on her at this age, at least one that she would remember, but we didn’t want to leave feeling like we just got sunburnt and day drank with an infant covered in melted ice cream and sand. So we bought tickets to SeaWorld.
“It’s like a giant aquarium, right?” I asked. “I guess,” my wife says reassuringly. It’s not a complete waste of money. We’re not missing out on rides or anything. Let’s do it!
Well, there are rides.
There are lines.
There are seas of strollers parked everywhere and carnival food that costs a week’s worth of salary.
But…there are also animal shows.
As we entered, we were prompted to gather around this pool that’s half above ground and half below ground (with a big viewing window into the deep end). This is where the dolphin trainers warmed up the stars for the dolphin show. A sort of pre-show informational session to learn you good about some porpuseses..es.. Dolphins.
So my good lady wife, Kelly, the eagle eye that she is, spots a shaded area close to the pool and strolls ahead to stake her claim. It was impressive, actually, the way she made a b-line right to the shade. She used that stroller like a seasoned mom in a crowded mall, clearing a path left and right like a battering ram that isn’t carrying a baby. Zero regard for the lives at stake. But hey, we got that shade, ya’ll. When we get up to the pool we notice a rope around it keeping people at a 2 ft distance from the outer wall. A trainer up on a platform says “We’ll drop the rope in 15 minutes so you can come up to the pool and pet the dolphins”
Awesome, 15 minutes to plan how we’re going to cherry pick our spot at the wall ahead of this growing crowd of people.
Now, my wife is in full on mom-mode. “We’re not losing the shade”, she says. “We can’t get the stroller beyond these ropes”, she says. “Take the baby, put her in the the daddy saddle, and get to that dolphin”, she says.
“Aye Aye Cap’n”, says I.
Dropping the ropes in 5. 4. 3… I’m ready… 2… 1. And the ropes open at specific points no where near us to let in groups of school children wearing color coordinated shirts that flood past us and start filling OUR space!
I look back at my wife in disbelief and she looks at me as if to say, “Idiot man! Jump the rope! Destroy anything in your path! Get to the dolphin!”
At least that’s what I saw.
So I jump the rope. I look back and she rolls her eyes in frustrated approval as if to say, “Yep… duh. And?”
And like a shadow I blow past a sea of children and get my child up the pool wall. I successfully avoided any casualties, by the way.
Now it’s time for the show and we have picked a cherry spot. I. Mean. Cherry.
There’s the pool, then right in front of us is a little platform area where the dolphin pops up to beach itself for your pleasure. And right there to make sure the dolphin doesn’t become derelict in it’s entertainment duties is a trainer. A trainer in a wetsuit not getting wet. Just standing there in the sun in a big rubber suit.
So the dolphin comes up, does a few passes and people cheer. Then the big sunburnt trainer in the rubber suit calls the dolphin up to beach itself for our amusement. At that moment I reach out with a sea of children and touch it on its snout nose mouth thing.
I amazed myself! I’ve always wanted to swim with dolphins, but changed my mind after this. They feel like a block of smooth wet rubber. I’m not getting in the water with that.
It’s then that I look back at my wife with a huge childish grin. I’m hoping to share this joy with her and ask if she wants to change places. She should be there with us enjoying all this and sharing all the people germs with our dolphin friends. She politely declines, but urges me to keep on having a good time. Now at this point I’ve realized a few things.
I don’t want to swim with dolphins
I’m in a cherry location
That dad over there is holding his child over the deep end so he can pet the dolphin, too. Well, I’m in a location that is:
Secured by the dolphin immobilizing beaching platform and
Guarded by someone who is quickly turning into a raisin in a jumpsuit.
So I thought to myself, “My wife has silently urged me to the best dad I can be right now. I need to do something to win her approval. That dude got his kid to touch the dolphin. OK, next time this giant water based mammal has securely beached itself at a safe distance from us on it’s platform that is no more than an inch of water deep so it can frolic with these other children I’ll just take Emma a little bit (all the way) out of her carrier and let her touch the big rubbery fish.”
And I do just that. I’m running over everything in my head- I’m at a safe distance. That dolphin isn’t getting any closer, that leggless bastard. If Emma does fall then I can just pick her up because the water is only an inch deep and dolphins aren’t known for eating people. If anything, they’re stereotypically known for saving people at sea, right? That guy over there did it; if there was a rule against it they’d have signs up. Plus we have this raisin looking trainer (God, someone please get her some sunblock) so in case something happens she’s there to help. Here we go.
The dolphin comes up. We lock eyes. I wink at it. It stares blankly at me, but I know it knows that I know that Emma’s gonna give it “gentle touches like we do with our puppy”. It beaches itself, opens its mouth slightly to smile at us and Emma is slightly taken out of her harness (all the way) and BAM. I’m struck by a dry raisin in a wet suit as it screams at me, “NO!”
Embarrassed I withdraw my child to the daddy saddle, turn to my wife for comfort and to clarify “why”. My loving wife looks at me as if to say, “@#$^ing idiot.”
So I jumped the ropes, ran away, and spent a week’s worth of salary on carnival food and pearl jewelry.
I didn’t know how to write this because honestly I wasn’t sure what my mom or Silver Fox would say. I had to tell them in person first before I told the world. In fact, I didn’t know how I felt until I thought about it for awhile. I mean, everything was awesome. I was going to get my kid to touch a dolphin!!! That would go down in awesome dad stories. But no. I was publicly shamed by someone in dire need of some Banana Boat. That shame sat with me for awhile and almost ruined my vacation. But I rallied. The rest of the trip rocked and I realized, if not for that raisin looking dry swimmer, my daughter would have been the youngest person ever to touch a dolphin (unverified).
Well, turns out that wasn’t concise at all. Let’s save the rest of the story for next week. Until then, welcome back to the internet to us and thanks for reading. Of course, as always, Happy Parenting!
Well, it sure has been a while since I’ve had some time to sit down and collect my thoughts on parenting and really reflect on the growth of my daughter and managing a career out of my home. “Why’s that”, you ask? “Where have you been”, you ask?
WORK WORK WORK WORK WORK… DAYCARE
I’ve been managing said career and making sure my kid stays alive. That is, after all, the first priority as a parent- keep ‘em alive! I like to take it one step further than the far right; I don’t just get ‘em born, I keep ‘em alive 😉 I’m essentially a 24/7 lifegaurd for all situations. Well, it used to be 24/7, but we started Em in daycare… because I have to manage a career out of my home and like they say, no man is an island. I needed help. With the wife at work making people’s lives better (or worse, it really depends on the patients and how fond they are of their opiates), I really started to struggle. It’s no one’s fault but my own. That’s the freelancer’s life- it’s feast or famine and when it rains it pours. I was in the middle of several projects for multiple clients, working in a variety of styles, illustrating, animating, staying up ‘till 2 am. I can do that for a few months, but it eventually takes its toll.
The only upside to staying awake into the wee hours of the morning is that I was all ready to answer the cries of my daughter as she would, for no reason at all and like clock-work, wake the EFF up.
So work/life balance started to get difficult and we were finally called up to bat for daycare. We were on the waiting list for I don’t know how long, but it’s supposed to be like… the best daycare in town… maybe. I have thoughts on that, but I’ll save that for a later date. For now, I’d like to rant about what daycare has done to my family.
So… work/life balance. That’s the whole impetus for placing my child in the arms of strangers, which I am not comfortable with at all. Ever. Is it a control thing? Am I a helicopter parent? Is it just me after a lifetime of being overly cautious bordering on paranoia-like behavior? I don’t know? Why? WHAT!? DID SOMEONE SAY SOMETHING?!
We also knew that Emma needed exposure to germs and other people besides Kelly and me. We planned on this day coming for eight months.
Apparently I didn’t plan well enough.
When was the last time you were sick? For me, it was like 2001. I don’t get sick often. My wife will probably disagree and roll her eyes, but I don’t remember being sick… until this past week. We put Em in daycare on a Monday, by Friday we all had the plague. That was week one.
“Babe, we knew this would happen,” we said. We told ourselves it would be “fine” and Emma is building essential immunities. Immunities she was denied as I PROTECTED HER FROM THE WORLD FOR EIGHT MONTHS! I should be a bodyguard. Old ladies wouldn’t stand a chance 🙂
WHAT THE CRUST?
Then her head started leaking. Just everything… through the nose. And she would rub it with her hand and sleeve until it was all over her face. And the crust. THE CRUST! Why are sick kids so crusty?! So the boogies get wiped into her eye. The eye gets infected and starts to weep eye snot… just this golden, putrid goo seeping out of her eye that crusts up all around her beautiful eye lashes.
My kiddo has the longest eyelashes. They’re a point of envy for some.
So here I am, my precious, untainted, Fabergé egg, now reduced to a common sickly child ready for the plague doctors. All my hard work- down the crapper.
So we take her to the plague doctor/pediatrician who says she’s sick (obviously; she has a cold) but also has pink eye AND the start of an ear infection. 3 THINGS! SHE GOT SICK WITH A TRIFECTA OF PLAGUES AFTER ONE WEEK AT DAYCARE?! WTF!? IT’S CALLED DAY…. CARE. WHERE’S THE “CARE”?
Side note- did you know Pink Eye is a generic term for conjunctivitis? I thought it was a legit, specific sickness that had to do with getting fecal matter in your eye. Apparently not. I told the pediatrician and my wife this theory and they both looked at me like I was the dumbest man alive.
So… week two of “day-sort-of-care about your kid, but here’s a bunch of diseases” was non existent since we kept her home. Unlike other parents, who have no option but to keep bringing their sick kid to be around other children, we have the option of keeping Emma at home so she doesn’t spread this horribleness. So I was back to working nights- work/life balance was now successfully unbalanced. And we still had to pay the daycare for the days she was home because, you know, waiting list.
By the end of week 2 Emma was on the mend. Monday rolled around she was able to go back to school. No more crusty eyes, no more boogery face and Kelly and I were feeling fine, too. Then Monday night and BAM! I’m sick… again. I don’t know if the first cold was just tricky and laying low until I thought I was in the clear so it could sneak up and ruin my life or if Emma brought home a second illness. She was still finishing out the course of medication from her first cold/ear infection so whatever it is it didn’t hit her at all.
THEN… after one one week back I get a call about Em having a fever. No $#i* she has a fever, that’s where she got sick in the first place. But I have to come pick her up and take her home for 24 hours because the policy is to remove the sick and protect the other kids. I get that. I do. But what I don’t get is that my kid gets sick… from being at daycare.
A VICIOUS CYCLE?
..so the plan… if I got this straight… is to take my precious bundle of joy away from the epicenter of this pandemic and whoever patient zero is, get her healthy at home… and then drop her back off into the middle of the quarantine zone that is daycare? Correct me if I’m wrong, but won’t it all just happen again?
Low and behold, when I get Emma home she has no fever, is eating just fine, and smiling, playing, and getting into all sorts of trouble by pulling things off of our shelves. What happened was, and I explained this to the daycare, is that my kid runs hot when she sleeps. She’s like a little star. She radiates so much heat that you could probably blame a good portion of global warming over the past 8 months on her naps. I explained the weird heat phenomenon to the daycare, but protocol dictates that she stays home. Which means I’m back to working at night until I take her back to get sick again.
So that’s daycare. You just kind of throw your kid into a pit of sick children and for the rest of your life you’re just sick. They’re sick, you’re sick. Everyone is sick. Everything has mystery crusty spots. Your kid has coughing fits from now on.
The best part of a coughing fit? When you’re holding them and they look you right in your face and cough. They actually turn in to face you…. face to face, which wasn’t how they were looking before the cough. No. They’re interested in anything but you, but then when the coughing comes, all they want is to look right the eff at you.
No wonder I got sick.
That’s it for now. Thanks for reading and as always feel free to share your stories of parenting, daycare, and your sick kid in the comments down below or on social media. Cheers and Happy Parenting!
I should have titled this section “The Power of Physical Contact” or“The Power of Physicality” or something that sounds smart and more clinical. Touch- I feel like that has a weird connotation in today’s society. How many people do you touch on a daily basis? SEE!? That sounds weird to ask!
What I mean is, how much physical interaction do you get with people? Is it a few handshakes? Some fist bumps? A couple of awkward bro-hugs where you go in tough, bump shoulders, and maybe throw in a pat on the back for good measure? Maybe a couple of quick pecks on the cheek from family members and a quick hug?
See, it’s not weird touches I’m talking about, like if you’re on the subway and someone is too close and you’re thinking, “Dude… what… what are you doing? I can feel your breath on the back of my neck and we’re the only two people on this car.” That’s weird.
I bring it up because I realized that I love, whole heartedly, when my daughter holds my hand. She doesn’t do it when she’s awake; only when she’s sleeping, and she doesn’t know that she’s being adorable. For the most part, she’s pretty adverse to letting you enjoy her cuteness. She’ll turn from the camera right when you’re about to get the perfect shot or she’ll turn her cheek when you want to give her a little smooch. It’s kind of a harsh burn for Kelly and me to be rejected by our progeny. At night, though, as she’s drifting off to sleep, she’ll often wake herself up looking for her binky, or realizing she’s turned a whole ninety degrees in her sleep and is no longer comfortable. So, when she cries, we rush to her side to make sure she’s alright and for God’s sake, stays asleep.
That’s when I find myself lying there next to her, placing a binky within reach, adjusting her to a normal sleeping position (in adult standards), and rubbing her back or placing my pinky in her hand with the hopes that she’ll hold onto it like a little circus monkey. That’s when it hits me- when her little digits clasp down, and I’m locked in a Chinese finger trap of love.
Aside from its cuteness, it unlocks a whole aspect of my being that I don’t think is possible to know until you have children. It’s like a warm light washes over when your child reaches for you, holds you tight as you carry them in your arms, rests their head on your shoulder and falls asleep, or unconsciously clasps their tiny hand around your pinky as they sleep. In that moment, between feedings and diapers and tantrums, when your little person just wants your attention or needs you there, that’s when you feel like it’s all worth it. Those little physical interactions are so wholesome, and I don’t think people get enough wholesome physical contact.
Sleep Training = No Sleep for You
Lying next to her, Chris? How is that possible in her little crib?
Yeah, no. We actually haven’t had any success getting baby girl to sleep through the night in her crib. We’re sleep training at the moment, which consists of a methadone like approach to wean her off things like sleeping in a comfy grown-up bed or being carried around for 45 minutes in her harness as she drifts off to sleep. Apparently, we were doing it all wrong when it comes to sleeping arrangements. We’re not alone in this battle, though. Plenty of other parents have gone through this and many more will, too. Did you know that there are several methods of sleep training for a baby? Yeah, several because no one’s figured out one solid, sure fire, 100% guaranteed way of getting a baby to sleep… legally. So, we’re starting with more naps in the crib and no more harness, because apparently the issue is that Em is dependent on us to fall asleep.
We gotta break that dependency because it’s breaking my back. Literally. I’ve been wearing a back brace for 3 days now because my daughter has a desire to be held 24/7. (I’m trying to figure out why back braces work. Your back hurts? Let’s squeeze the crap out of with this elastic band. It doesn’t seem like it should, but it works).
“You hold her too much” (I can hear my mother and Silver Fox saying as they read this). Yes… I know. She cries if I don’t and the crying doesn’t stop. Ever. Unless I hold her. I know she’s exercising some sort of control over me. I know I should be stronger. I just can’t. It’s bananas. Parenting is hard AF, y’all.
I just want to lay there in the warm light of an afternoon nap as my baby slumbers off and holds my pinky like a little circus monkey… quietly.
But noooooo. I have to put her through baby sleep camp methadone clinic. I need to stop using the tools and techniques that I’ve been using for 7 months to keep her happy and quiet. I need to start pissing her off on purpose by denying her things she wants, like being held, sleeping in our bed, falling asleep in her harness. I need to, according to her pediatrician, lose out on my afternoon naps because she’s crying for two hours instead of sleeping because she needs to learn to do it on her own.
Do you know what happens to an infant that’s just learning to crawl and climb (like – you guessed it- a circus monkey) and hasn’t quite grown into a pair of stable standing legs yet? They throw a tantrum until they’re tired and fall over and hit their head. And since you’re not holding them like you want to and like they want you to you’re the jerk for not catching them.
Give up my afternoon nap? Please.
I need my afternoon nap. I’m juggling several clients at the moment and work till 2 a.m. some nights. If I don’t nap, I might die. I seriously might die.
Stay- at-home/ work-from-home-dad tips: Learn to say “No” to jobs if you need to. It’s OK. But if you can’t, because let’s face it, paying gigs can be hard to come by, and you have to juggle a lot of tasks, I recommend using something like Trello to organize your tasks. Or if you need something more tangible try a Word notebook. They’re small, pocket-sized ruled notebooks where each line starts with a unique bullet that you use to denote that something is either a bullet point- by making a dot, important- by drawing a circle, in progress- by drawing a line through it, or complete- by drawing an “x”. I believe Benjamin Franklin used a system like this, but don’t quote me. The point is, get organized or take on less jobs, especially if you have a child that eats up a good ¾ of your waking hours.
(If you’re connecting all the dots, my schedule sucked so bad last week that I didn’t do a blog post, a comic, or a drawing of me and Emma. Get organized or you’ll have to sacrifice your hobbies… or lose clients. Either way, it’s no bueno).
Watch Your Head
So yeah, my kid is crawling and falling. She’s only tumbling over like 12 inches because she’s small, but still her head is like half her body. If gravity is using half your body weight to force your noggin to the ground don’t you think that’s gotta hurt?
The science on that is bad. Don’t try to figure it out.
If gravity only affected half our weight/mass we might move around like astronauts? (Read this week’s “Emma” strip to see why I’m no good with science.)
I don’t like the idea of her getting hurt. Plenty of people have told me that it’s unavoidable, get used to it, you can’t protect them from everything.
I CAN TRY!
Soothing a crying baby is one of those primordial responses we inherited from our cave dwelling ancestors. Keeping a baby safe, protected, fed, and quiet were all things our greatest ancestors did so they wouldn’t get eaten by T-Rex. (I know that’s historically inaccurate, but I really want to draw that so it’s staying).
So, she fell over. What do I do? Get her a helmet? She’ll never make friends that way.
“What’s with the helmet, Emma?”
“Oh this? My dad sucks.”
No, that’s not how her interactions would be right NOW. Yes, I’d make her wear the helmet throughout junior high… so then. That conversation would happen around then.
I’m tired of people telling me that babies are tougher than they are. How would they know? Have they fought a baby and lost? Have they run them through some sort of obstacle course in their backyard especially designed to weed out the weakest babies? And who are these people putting their babies through this creepy obstacle course? No one knows how strong a baby really is because no one fights babies.
Fight a baby. Go on. Then tell me they’re tougher than I think, because I think I could beat a baby in a fair fight. Until you fight a baby don’t assume you know that they’re stronger than they are. And don’t project your assumptions onto my daughter. As for me, I’m going to put my daughter in a helmet, harness her till she passes out, and let her hold my pinky like a circus monkey while I take a nap next to her, because I’m running on 3 hours of sleep and cold coffee. Not iced coffee like some fancy hipster kid… cold coffee from my coffee pot from this… yesterday… two mornings ago.
Parenting is hard. If you have any advice on making it easier or if you have a particular tool or strategy to help you stay organized and multi task like Trello or Word notebooks, please share in the comments below or on social media. As always, thanks for reading and Happy Parenting.
PSA- DON’T FIGHT BABIES. It just a joke people… I shouldn’t have to tell you not to fight a baby, but I feel like there’s one guy who’ll read this and think to himself, “Gee, you know, I really don’t know how tough a baby is. Here, hold my beer.”
I AM! Well, I’m Em’s daddy and apparently she’s well aware of that fact. This week my baby girl said, “Da-Da!” not once, but a whole slew of times. We got it on video, too, so this momentous occasion is recorded for all time! I admit, I got a bit teary eyed and my heart grew three sizes. You could blame the dry contacts for the water works and the cardiomegaly for the enlarged heart, but I say I’m a sucker for my sweet girl.
She hasn’t said it since, but no matter. We’ll just say that she knows who I am and said her first word and much to my wife’s dismay, that word was “Da-Da.”
I like onesies, not because I wear them, but because they’re great for babies. I wish they had adult onesies and I wish that they were socially acceptable because then I’d have a whole closet full of them. I’d be like Steve Jobs or Mark Facebook dude- one outfit all the time because apparently making decisions about what to wear each morning is counter-productive to creating a tech empire… which has always been my goal? I digress.
The one thing I hate about onesies, though, are the snaps. The little snappy buttons that fasten together the super convenient clothing item and keep the saggy diaper hoisted up where it should be.
We have a few from Carters that are like a hybrid between a karate gi and a burrito wrap… or if you prefer, a “tortilla.” It’s like if you went to Chipotle and they asked you “Taco or burrito?” and you replied “Baby wrapped in a ceremonial Kimono… and fajita veggies.” It has like 145 snaps on each side, some hidden inside, then the 3 grundle snaps that keep the diaper from sagging out. It doesn’t come with a manual so you either have to have a higher education to figure the damn thing out or be some sort of wizard. Luckily I went to college… twice.
But damn if snapping all these little things together doesn’t start to wear on my pudgy artist fingers. I’m not built for manual labor like this. I hate snaps and you should, too because you’re reading this on the internet and you’ll never get this time back. Invest yourself in my emotionally driven beliefs!
7 Months In: Parenting Dislikes
DIAPERS! I hate diapers. Not just changing diapers, but the whole idea of diapers. The problem… they’re filled with poop. Poop and pee. I’m just not getting used to it. It goes against every fiber of my being to seek out human waste, but here I am, compelled by some primordial parenting urge to find and eliminate my baby’s doo doo. Kelly used to threaten me before Emma was born with diaper duty and vague tales of how I’ll be covered in dookie from time to time. That just set me down a path of despair and now here I am hating diapers. I know it’s not a complicated concept, changing your kid’s dirty diaper, but am I alone in thinking if we don’t have another child it’s going to be because dirty diapers are gross and contributing to the death of our planet?
After seven months of being a daddy that’s my only issue. I can deal with the lack of sleep, the crying, the inability for babies to use words; that’s all fine. It’s just the poop that I can’t stand.
Kelly got a new trash can for Em’s diapers. We were told not to get one of the Diaper Genies so we didn’t. Instead we got little a trash can with a pedal activated lid. It’s small and would be cute if not filled with dirty diapers. It’s bordering on being too small, though. It holds, in all, maybe 4 diapers. 2 if we’ve been feeding her a high fiber diet. But I jam in about 150 diapers before I change the bag. It’s heavy for sure. Dense. Like a dying star becoming a black hole. The only reason I change the bag so often is so I don’t rip a hole in space and time.
Child’s Pose 🙂
The cutest thing happened this week, allow me to describe it in adorable detail. We put Em down to bed one evening and I checked in on her like I often do. Since I work mostly at night and my office is right next to the bedroom I’ll pop in from time to time to make sure she’s OK. You know, urged by paranoid parent fears of your kid falling off the bed or getting caught up in a blanket or swallowing their foot. Well, I walked in and her tiny bottom was up in the air and she was sleeping in child’s pose. I always liked sleeping that way as a kid and when I do yoga it’s the only pose I do because a) it feels great to open up the hip flexors when you have an old man’s body and b) it’s really the only pose I know. Anywho, I was flooded with a rush of, I guess nostalgia, when I saw her because I remember being so fond of being able to sleep like that. Now, I’m just filled with a geriatric jealousy and pain. Pain from my tight hip flexors.
LOCK IT UP!
So now that my kid is mobile and scooching around everywhere we figure that it’s just a matter of time before she’s into the cabinets and starts smashing all the dishes and cookware so we installed some locks. They’re magnetically operated, which is great, since I can just put the magnetic keys up out of her reach. It’s also very possibly horrible, since we only have two keys and will most likely lose them. That means no more kitchen appliances, cookware, Pyrex, etc, etc. We’ll just have to eat out. I’ll keep you informed as to how well they work or if I end up ripping the cabinet doors off their hinges.
The best investment we made this week is thistransforming baby cage fighting arena. It’s this polymorphic contraption that acts as a gate or the walled confines of a baby cage match. All I need now is another baby contender and a good bookie. Seriously though, Em has started to grow out of her exersaucer. We raised it up so it’s one level higher to match her current height, but she’s realized that it’s just a containment unit for her when I don’t want her crawling everywhere. So the cage/gate is an upgrade of sorts. I’ll use it to make her the next Ronda Rousey. Since I’m 99% sure she’ll be tall with a long reach like Silver Fox she’ll make for a great cage fighter.
Dad Bod Update
I lost a little weight, YAY! I worked out a little, too. YAY! It’s all thanks to the child’s pose I do for my yoga routine. Yes, it’s a one pose routine. My body looks the same, though, like a giant hairy baby, or an Ewok in the beginning stages of Alopecia Totalis- that’s full body hair loss, which my dad had, then he went to the Philippines for a miracle cure and came back with a ponytail like a Filipino Samson… just not as strong. He couldn’t grow hair anywhere else, though. It was all just magically on his head. He must have gotten one of those wizards what can operate the kimono burrito onesie to cast a spell on his noggin. I’ll have to find myself one of them, not that I need one, because I choose to shave my head. But still… a wizard would be useful.
Well that’s my ramble for the week. If you want to enter your kid into my cage fights or if you know a wizard that can regrow hair hit me up in the comments below or on social media. As always, Happy Parenting!
I don’t know anything about girls. When I was younger I thought I did. But I’m older and I realize that I don’t know much about anything, especially how to raise a little girl in today’s society. It almost seems like it’s not enough to be just a good person; you have to go above and beyond and fight for a cause or a movement or brand your day to day activities with a noble “#”. I’m just trying to figure out how to keep my baby girl happy and safe, #happybaby.
I do realize that women struggle against sexism and inequality and I wrote a while back about how being a father helped me realize that and that my daughter might have a tougher time coming up in the world than a boy would. I say “might” because I don’t see women as lesser or incapable of doing the things a guy can do and I truly believe that if she sets her mind to it, Em will be able to accomplish the unimaginable. I know that’s not just me who feels like this, but social media makes it seem like I’m an island of male feminism in an ocean of ignorant bros. I grew up with an older sister and mom who were always there for me. They’re strong, they have careers, ran and owned businesses, raised a family, etc. What can I say? They’re strong. They’ve instilled in me a respect for women. They’re caretakers and caregivers.
(What’s the difference? I don’t know, but I was cared for growing up.)
Then there’s my wife- brilliant, beautiful, funny, extremely well-educated and able to put up with, well, me. If there was ever a case of beauty and the beast it’s gotta be me and my wife because I was definitely your basic, beastly, run of the mill, average dude before we met. If not for her I’d be a troll living under a bridge out of my car. Now I’m a pretty average run of the mill guy, but I don’t have cargo shorts anymore. Sophistication doesn’t begin to describe me.
YES YOU CAN!
My point is, I’ve always known that women are strong, capable, and more than magazine covers make them out to be. I’ve never been exposed to a life where they aren’t. I’ve never known men who haven’t thought, like me, that women, as a sex, are just as capable as men and are more that just the fairer sex. I know this and I want Emma to know it. To aspire to be more than mainstream media or social media tells her to be.
I don’t know what I don’t know.
As a new dad, though, I’m trying to sort out all the stuff society is throwing at me about sexism and racism and white power and religion and all that. It’s all confusing. I’ve read articles chastising fathers for not being more aware of these issues prior to having a daughter and it bums me out. Essentially, I should have been exposed to more and been less ignorant my whole life. I wasn’t, though and I can’t change that. Nobody can. I don’t think we can move forward in life by trying to change history or trying to erase our mistakes. We can learn from them though. We can take that knowledge and teach our kids not to make the same mistakes as us. I think a bit of introspection and less finger pointing could do the world some good.
So with all the hashtags floating around I’ve been doing my research. This is what I’ve gathered so far- people have issues. Issues become movements. Movements become action. Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. That is to say, if you want to effect change you will encounter resistance. Life is a struggle and we need to be strong to get through it. Most importantly, you have to pick your battles. I’d love to try to address all the sensational controversies floating around the internet, but I’m one dude and that’s not my job.
I’ll do my damnedest! What do I gotta do?
What I will do is try to raise my girl so she’s as strong and independent as her mother and all the other women in her life. And I won’t be perfect at it, but I’ll try. I’ll try to make it as positive an experience as possible, but life has its ups and downs and I’m expecting it to be a bumpy road. So, like I do, I’m going to draw some pictures and hopefully they’re going to have a positive impact for at least one person (my daughter). This week’s “picture” is my modern spin on “Jack and Jill”. Em is going to have to learn to be strong and not take crap so I’ve modified a timeless classic for her.
Jack and JIll
That’s it for this week. Thanks for stopping by! Feel free to leave comments below or on social media and as always Happy Parenting.
This is pretty much a stream of consciousness post. You’ve been warned. I keep finding out that more and more people read this, which admittedly , is a little embarrassing. But I’m compelled to keep writing. And drawing my little cartoons. It’s a passion hobby at this point. It’s also a good way for me to look back on my memories of when my baby girl was still a baby. I hope it has some useful tips for new parents or some relatable humor for those who have already been through this stage of parenting.
On with the show.
Lil’ Miss Congeniality
Well, my kid is still alive. Parenting success!!! That’s the goal at this point, right? Keep ‘em alive? Like a goldfish, but with a lot more responsibility and pressure. I have the general maintenance of baby rearing down, but I’m unsure as to how to keep her brain stimulated so she grows up to be a genius. Not being a genius myself I feel ill equipped to raise the next Einstein, which is my secret hope for her. I don’t know why… I just associate that with successful intelligence, which would be awesome for her. I guess that’s what parents want for their kids: to be amazing at life. I don’t really know what I want for her- happiness, obviously. Success, hopefully. The will power and independence to make it in this world without it bringing her down, essentially.
Even if she doesn’t grow up to be some sort of world changing genius figure, which admittedly, is a lot of pressure for a kid, I’m pretty sure she’ll grow up to be a likeable and friendly young woman, despite her current serious disposition. She’s just got one of those smiles that melts hearts. And I can see it in her behavior already, when she wants something she knows how to get it. She doesn’t always start with the demanding cries. She builds up to that. First, a smile. If you’re lucky, a laugh. Then a coo. A chatty, sing songy flow of unintelligible vowels that draws you in and says, “ Hey you… check me out. I’m here, I’m playful, you want to give me attention.”
If that attention she’s craving isn’t received then lil’ miss congeniality starts the hulk out process. The coo gets a little louder and a little meaner and vibes out, “Hey… you WANT to pay attention to me. I promise you you do.”
I try to teach her to be chill and how to kick it on her own for bit so she’s not totally dependent on me, which is a weird goal because she’s 25 weeks old. That’s essentially the whole dynamic of our relationship: she can’t do squat without her parents and we’re there to make sure she stays alive. And other loving parent things. So … dependent. But she needs to be cool once in a while and I’m gonna make sure she learns that. You can’t just go around screaming at people demanding things you want. Normal people don’t do that. If you go around acting like an entitled prick that you’ll end up on some Real Housewives show or as President of the United States. She has to have better goals than that. (Let’s face it, the bar for POTUS has been severely lowered. It’s not as prestigious a position as it once was.) I digress.
New parents, your kids will learn to manipulate you. That’s like the first thing they learn about socializing. You are their testing ground for getting away with crap. Case in point- my Emma knows that I’ll always be there for her and she has a 3 stage cry that ensures that I will.
They are as follows:
Stage 1: “Hey I want your attention”
Stage 2: “…hey? PAY #$@^ING ATTENTION TO ME!”
Stage 3: “THE WORLD IS ENDING AND MY LIFE IS OVER! FATHER WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN MEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!”
I try to get her to chill out by stage 2. My technique for calming her down is standing there and giving her my “dad look.”
Dad look is basically just stern staring. I learned it from my dad who had astigmatism. His dad look always started with him taking off his glasses and stressing out all the blood vessels in his head so his astigmatism made his eyes bulge super bulgy. It was scary to behold. Later in life I would worry that everytime he did that, and he did it often, he was having a stroke.
So I stand there and essentially look at my daughter like I’m having a stroke. Needless to say she hits stage 3 crying at that point. It may be my own astigmatism that freaks her out or her fear that I’m actually having an attack of some sort, but my dad look fails on a consistent basis to stop her from passing stage 2.
When she’s not crying for me she’s rolling around all over the floor. I took down the walls to her little play mat area we bought her a few weeks back. It’s been amazing. It’s easy to clean, I can build walls with it or keep it totally flat, and it’s kept her from smashing her head into the floor while her neck was still too weak to support it. This new found rolling has led her from the living room to the dining room of our open concept home.
“Come on back Emma. Come to daddy.”
That was my mistake. She knew what I wanted. I wanted her to roll back to the safety of the mat. She knew this. We locked eyes and she knew I knew she knew … and proceeded to roll further away.
I’ve seen my friends kids do this with them, too. “Don’t hit daddy.” SMACK! They just do the opposite of what you want. And they cry. They stand in direct opposition to your goals and they cry. But you love them anyways.
My favorite moments in life are when my daughter decides to eat her meals without any fuss. But it’s not just her pleasant tableside manners that bring me peace, granted that’s most of it. It rips at something in the soul when your kid won’t eat. You don’t want them to starve, obviously. And if they get too skinny someone will notice and the state will come and take them away because of your crap parenting skills. So yeah, when she eats, I mean really eats, not just taking sips from the bottle and then thrashing about like I just fed her broccoli juice, I have a sense of relief and a little flush of pride like I did something right.
These blissful little moments of her doing a solid take at her bottle which bring me so much joy are accompanied by my dog snuggling up to us on the couch, deprived of any extra noise like the tv, phones, and tablets, and followed by Emma passing out from her meal like it’s Thanksgiving Dinner.
In that three minutes of quiet time is where I find my zen place. No amount of impending work or chores can bring me down. Ultimately she wakes up and bursts my quiet little bubble, and we go about our day.
We’ve grown into her other harness this week, which I never thought we’d use. It only has one position and that’s where your baby has to face into you the whole time. I tried it once when I thought she was big enough (as it wasn’t meant for newborns- read the product descriptions, people) and she immediately threw a fit. Was it me? Did I smell? I wore cologne once and she just about blew my eardrums out from screaming, she hated it so much. I mean she went straight to stage 3 crying. Was she too small? Was it the fact that she wanted to face away? I don’t know.
We’ve started something called dream feeding. What is that, you ask? It’s feeding our kid while they’re still asleep in the hopes that they’ll stay asleep through the night instead of waking up hungry at 3 am. Let me tell you how that’s going.
One day Kelly comes to me and says, “Hey have you ever heard of ‘dream feeding'”?
“Nope, duh.” What about me makes you think I would have ever encountered that combination of words in my life? At first I thought she meant dreaming about feeding Emma. “That would never work” I thought. “You can’t just dream about feeding your kid. They’ll die. You need to actually feed them.”
Did she give up on our little family? Was she so tired of pumping that she wanted to retire from the dairy industry and let all our hard work just fade away?
So she explained it to me and we tried it. That night, as we’re preparing to go to bed ourselves, she preps a bottle of formula and walks into the room with a big ol’ grin on her face. She looks at me and whispers “Dreeeeeaaaammmmm feeeeeding”.
She picks up Emma, puts the bottle to her mouth, and my baby, passed out like a freshman on spring break, opens her mouth and begins downing this bottle… like a freshman on spring break. And it worked. She slept through the night.
The next day, though, she didn’t want to eat squat. She wasn’t hungry. She was full from her spring break bottle. Now she needs to drink right before we go to bed and we have trouble feeding her throughout the following day. So here I am …somewhere between 10:30 pm and midnight (depending on my client workload) feeding my baby in my bed.
The Inevitable Pooping of My Bed
Needless to say, when you put new food in, old food has to come out. I knew it would happen one day, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. Here I am, dream feeding my baby, which results in a late night blowout, furiously changing the baby and changing my bed sheets. It was the most parenting moment I’ve had so far. I kept my composure, jumped right to the task, and got the poopy sheets in the wash and clean sheets on in record time. Dad skillz. … Kelly helped- Mom skillz.
Dad bod update
I moved the weights and workout bench to the corner of the master bedroom so I would be inclined to work out more often. I have, too. Do I have a routine? Nope. But I’ve done something. Baby steps. Actually, I’m going at my own pace and I think it’s really helping the pinched nerve that’s debilitated the whole upper right quadrant of my body.
We started cooking at home a lot more often, too. We’re trying to stop using the baby as an excuse to cut corners. Yes, it’s harder to get meals cooked on a nightly basis, but we’ve gone back to meal prepping for the week. When Sunday rolls around and Kelly and I are both home to keep Emma from hitting stage 3 crying, we can tag team the cooking. It’s worked so far.
It’s the holidays, though, and Kelly bought me a tin of my favorite Danish butter cookies …so …that’s already gone.
As a result, I’m still pudgy.
I thought I might take a moment to explain this week’s image. It’s me as the Sandman trying to get Emma to go to sleep. Would I actually throw sand in my daughter’s face? …does she deserve it? Wait …NO. NO I wouldn’t. But there she is with sand in her face, hulking out and hitting Stage 3. Do your kids have discernable stages of crying or attention getting? Do you have any clever tricks for helping a fellow parent cope with the yelling? Feel free to let me know in the comments below or on social media. As always, thanks for reading and happy parenting!
Here we are in week 24. I’ve said to H, E, double hockey sticks with not giving my daughter solid foods. Actually I’m going to plan on saying H, E, double hockey sticks… I haven’t yet. Why not you ask?
I’m not scared of my toothless progeny not being able to handle solid foods. That’s just a mild concern. If she’s anything like her old man then she’ll be able to handle food. That’s when we have a problem; several, actually. Childhood obesity (not for the aesthetics, but for the healthiness of it all), cost- I used to put down 2 entrees at a time at Denny’s and IHOP and it took its toll on my wallet (I don’t expect Emma to down a club sandwich and a lumberjack breakfast in one go like her daddy, but I also don’t want her learning that that’s OK), and competition- when she’s old enough to find my secret stash of snacks I don’t want to have to fight over Oreos in my own home.
What I’m scared of is the whole change in her digestive process. I do about 90% of the diaper changes and I have it on good authority that once solid food is introduced into your child’s diet then you enter a whole new and horrible sphere of hell when they soil themselves. To be clear, my buds who have described this change in their own children to me prefaced the whole dynamic by telling me that baby dookie from a milk and formula only diet doesn’t smell. FREAKING LIES. Baby poop smells at any stage. It’s not like we brought her home on day one and thought to ourselves, “Oh, we can save on air freshener and Febreeze because now we have an endless supply of dirty newborn diapers.” My fear is that if solid food baby poop smells bad enough to make milk and formula baby poop seem odorless then I’m going to be covered in legit dookie for the next 5 to 10ish years. I don’t know… when do kids stop getting poop everywhere? Whenever that happens… that’s how long I’ll have to battle this evolved and hideous dook.
I’m not allowed to give her solids, though, thankfully. It’s not that we’ve heard from the pediatrician and were denied this opportunity. Not in the slightest. That would be amazing if we got a call; we tried to circumvent the whole 5 month limbo I talked about last week where the 5 month milestone of eating solid foods rests between her 4 and 6 month check-ups by calling our pediatrician. They never told us yay or nay about if we could or could not so we were never green lit to go solid. Alas, I can’t feed her solid food because …wife. And as the mother of my child, the oven that baked the bun, my other half, she has a solid say in how we raise Emma and she said “not yet.”
So my kid is still on a liquid diet, but it has to be some sort of amazing milk. I’m talking roided out to the max, get you kicked out of the Olympics good, because my kid is super strong. Despite my wife, or any lady for that matter, making super milk my advice still stands to new and expecting dads and significant others- if your baby mama is nursing do not call her your “prized heffer.” I still haven’t tried it, but I know it would be one of my less well received jokes.
Taking Baby Shopping
This week presented a bit of a nightmare for me. As it’s the beginning of the holiday season I decided to bring Emma Christmas shopping with me, which, I don’t know, was a mistake. Once again we were accosted by the the elderly and my baby thought so little of shopping that she literally poo pooed the whole experience. On the upside, she’s doing a lot better in public; less freakouts, but still, there are some occasions where I think I should have just stayed home. She’s growing up so fast and we’ve stopped using the baby carrier/carseat/stroller combo so she gets to sit up in her stroller like a big girl whilst we’re out and about. She LOVES stink eyeing people; it’s her serious disposition. I love when older women walk up all lovey dovey talking their baby talk to my kid and she just mad dogs them. It results in them a) talking baby talk louder in public in an attempt to make her smile and ultimately b) them taking a step back and saying something like “Oh she’s a serious baby” or “Oh somebody’s grumpy.” No lady, you’re just not as charming as you think you are… now back away.
So we’re out at Costco this week, like we do, and this happens a couple of times. The first time Kelly was there and this Laverne and Shirley looking duo make a b-line right for the stroller. I’m taken aback by this since they approached with such speed and ferocity. I had a bad dad moment. I wanted to whip the stroller around and put myself in a defensive pose between Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum and Emma, but I took a queue from Kelly and observed helplessly as these women descended upon my child, proffering up unsolicited parenting advice. My fave. Kelly knows I hate that and the look she gave me after they resumed their baby-less course told me she knew exactly what I was thinking. I should have stopped them in their path and I feel like I punked out a little bit.
Afterwards, I needed to shop without Kelly since she gets a gift this year, too. My solo experience with Emma being fawned over by strangers wasn’t as bad. Let me preface by saying that I dress differently now-a-days than I used to. I wasn’t necessarily “thugged out”, but I was into a lot of angst alt rock as a kid and some of that style sticks with you. Ya gotta love the 90s. Sometimes, when my wife isn’t around, I slip back into that fashion sense. I don’t have the baggy ripped cargo shorts anymore since Kelly spent 6 or so years trying to get me to throw them out.
What is it with not liking cargo shorts? They have a purpose. Why do women hate pockets? Y’all have these tiny pockets in your own pants barely big enough for an oreo, complain about it, and then try to strip men of their extra pockets. What’s up with that? Pocket envy that is. If I still had my baggy cargo shorts I wouldn’t need to carry around the diaper bag!
Anywho, on this occasion I dressed a little like I did back in the day- shorts, rugged looking kicks, and a baggy black hoodie (courtesy of my lady I might add.) Only this time I have a baby and a beard. I’ve come to realize that in today’s political climate a tan man with a beard isn’t necessarily perceived as your friendly neighborhood hipster barista. On the contrary, I get more looks like I’m about to cause an incident with an incendiary device rather than make you a latte with a perfectly pulled shot of espresso and expertly foamed milk. And the lady who approached Emma this time took notice of me just a little too late. As she approached like a ravenous hyena, she reached out for my child. Without Kelly there to temper my reactions, I recoiled and withdrew the stroller from her grasp. Then she noticed me… the unabomber looking ambiguously Hispanic, maybe Middle Eastern dude who’s probably never perceived as either Italian or Filipino and obviously jumped the border illegally to be here. Then she recoiled. Emma must have been mad dogging her, because she backed away mumbling something about a serious baby and how she wished she was a grandma.
Leaving the store I thought I’d stop by Kelly’s work to grab some lunch with her. “What a nice husband!” THANKS! So I ring her and set up a date, but her lunch is still like 45 minutes out. So I have time to kill and shopping to do, why not go to the mall? Good idea. Wrong. The parking garage at our local mall has the TINIEST parking spots. And as it’s December it was crowded with holiday shoppers. Horrible, greedy holiday shoppers. So after 15 minutes of pulling off a 30 point turn, I squeeze Emma out of the car through the tiniest space between me and a double parked douche only to feel something wet on her back.
What was it, Chris?
She had a blow-out, so we went right back through the tiny car chasm, into her car seat, and on to the tantrum that accompanies someone being made to sit in their own doo doo. It was screaming like you’ve never heard. On occasions like this I usually just go home. With a tear in my eye I called Kelly and canceled our lunch. Driving home Emma’s screaming became horribly, terrifyingly, panicked and louder than I’ve ever heard her cry. So much so that I pulled over to check on her and wound up changing her diaper in the trunk. Afterwards she was all giggles and I called my wife to let her know lunch is back on!
En route the screaming starts up again and this time it was hunger. I didn’t bring enough bottles to make it through a spontaneous lunch with my lady so I called her up and canceled again. Swipe left, huh? And that’s my first Christmas shopping experience with my baby.
To clarify, Kelly and I aren’t big on gift giving. A few years back, we took a page from our friend’s book and decided to stop giving “things” to each other and spend the money we would have spent on gifts on experiences and trips instead. It’s a hard change in a sense, considering that we’ve grown-up and continue to live in a consumerism driven society where a good deal of self worth and validation comes from material objects. But it’s great to know that we’re getting out, seeing new things, and living life. Plus, my wife is super hard to shop for and super hard to surprise. Since we have a joint Amazon account and a joint bank account it’s pretty hard to buy anything without the other person knowing. If I look up, oh say, a slingshot that shoots arrows on Amazon (it’s a thing) then Google, Facebook, Amazon, and big brother internet at large, flood her online feeds with ads for slingshots that shoot arrows (look it up).
Since it’s Emma’s first Christmas in the new house, though, I wanted to have presents under the tree. So I suggested that maybe this year we be a little materialistic and get gifts. Nothing expensive, just some stuff to open on Christmas morning. But my wife is still hard to shop for because she doesn’t want anything. Or she doesn’t want for anything; as part of the shrinking American middle class (which I’m not sure we are if you consider crippling student loan debt) we have everything and anything we could need or want at our fingertips. If you don’t have cash you have credit. If you can’t leave your house you can order online. It’s kind of gross, if you think about it.
Our deepest desires for each other aren’t things that can be packaged and shipped, though. We want stuff like reaching our fitness goals, will power, a healthy lifestyle and outlook on life, wicked time management skills, time together. And sure, you can buy books and equipment that claim they can help you achieve all that, but really it’s just more consumerism dressed up as a helpful means to an end. Anyway, we already have too much in my opinion. That being said, if we need something we buy it. So we don’t need anything when gift giving occasions come around.
But Emma needs stuff! She’s outgrowing clothes left and right and her books and toys seem old- to me.
Boring Daddy/Digital Daddy
I’m at a point right now where I’m not sure if my child is entertained enough and I’m starting to think that I’m boring. We read, we play, we eat and nap, but for me, it’s the same old stuff. It’s a sort of routine, but is SHE bored? I’ve read all her books to her, but she only chews on them. I’ve played with all her stuffed animals with her, but she only eats the faux fur. We do tummy time and practice sitting up on her own and maybe, hopefully crawling soon. But is it enough? Also, I think I might have as much separation anxiety as she does. If I put her down she screams. If she’s not screaming I think something’s wrong and rush to her side.
Friends have told me it’s when you don’t hear your kids that you worry the most and that’s totally true. If I’m being absolutely honest, though, all the noise is bit of a downer. Here I am caught between a loud place and feeling totally boring.
So this week I turned to the kids programming available through our cable provider for help. It’s this bright over-saturated world of animated kids songs on demand. And it’s blowing my mind. Emma loves it, but like I discussed last week I’m trying to limit how digital her home life is going to be. I even took the leap and bought a companion device. Not the Light Phone or some other secondary tiny phone. I gots me a smart watch with a speaker phone in it. I’ve already reduced my phone usage by like 1000%. The nice thing about the holidays are all the sales and the new Samsung Galaxy Watch was available at a huge discount. So, since we’re part of the shrinking American middle class with crippling student loan debt, I bought it of course, and it really has changed everything! It has a timer app so I can track how long her naps are or how long her bottle has been in the warmer. It also stores and plays music so I loaded some lullabies on it and can play them softly right behind her head as I cradle her to sleep. I can take calls and text without Emma even looking at it. That’s huge for me; there was a point where I swear I was texting or something dumb with my phone and out of the corner of my eye I caught Emma looking down at the phone in my hand and then looking up at me with a little feeling of neglect in her eye. Worst feeling ever.
Amazeballs doesn’t even come close to describing how useful it has been for, ironically, decreasing the amount of tech in Emma’s life. Now when she cries for food or a nap I’m not fumbling with a phone to set up music or a timer.
The Switch-a-roo, Nap Time, and the Sleepy Time BFG.
Speaking of crying, she’s started crying for different reasons now and sadly, my new smart watch isn’t smart enough to make her stop. I mean, crying from being hangry is a constant, but other than this week’s blow out she’s switched it up a bit. Whenever she would soil herself we knew because she would let us know in no uncertain terms that she needed a clean diaper. Screams and tears definitely accompanied a smell, despite what people say about newborn poopies. She doesn’t seem to mind doing her business that much anymore. What sets her off now that she’s all alert and curious is her hatred of sleeping. When before she would sleep without a fuss, now she fights and screams if she gets a little drowsy. So she’s gone from crying everytime she pooped and passing out without a fight to pooping with a certain amount of joy and crying when she’s about to sleep. Is that normal? Should I be concerned? I mean, I understand not crying when you have a decent BM, who doesn’t, am I right?! Lately, to help stem her crying and fits I’ve been reduced to a carnival ride when it’s time for her naps. I’m either walking her around in the daddy saddle like a Big Friendly Giant or I’m loading her up in the car for a little nap time drive. I’m a little concerned about her falling asleep with either method because her head always tilts forward and I don’t know if she’s falling asleep ooooor blacking out because her head’s so heavy that she’s putting herself in a sleeper hold. I don’t want her pulling an elephant man and just clocking out by letting her gigantic head slump too far into her chest. Plus, there was just a story about how a child passed away when a daycare left her/him to sleep in their carseat for too long. I check on her when she falls asleep this way to make sure she’s breathing. I had to do this with my grandma when she got super old. You just walk in on a situation where they’re blacked out and you look for the chest or belly to be going up and down or you creep close and feel for breath under their nose. Getting caught that close to someone’s face is always weird no matter if they’re the elderly or an infant. They always look at you like “WTF, dude?” Is it safe? Do you let your kids fall asleep in the car seat? I’ll ask her pediatrician what we should do at her next visit.
As a friendly reminder, though, always read the safety instructions on your kid’s stuff.
Dad Bod Update
I’m still pudgy.
People Read This?
I recently found out that more people than my five friends read this. That’s awesome! I just wanted to say thanks for taking the time to learn about my family and my journey as a stay-at-home dad. It means a lot! I wish I didn’t write about my daughter’s poops so much, now, but I’m stoked for the audience. As always, if you have any advice for my particular dilemmas feel free to comment below or on social media and as always happy parenting.
There was an issue where the post from last week was sent out a couple of times. I think the problem was from using the WordPress app and WordPress in a browser. It’s all very technical, I don’t want to bore you with it, but we think we solved it and the interwebs should be all good now. We apologize to anyone who may have subscribed for any misleading and confusing posts. And a special thanks to my father-in-law for giving me a heads up every time it happened.