Saturday, February 27, 2016


On Saturday, we took our three year old to a college basketball game. The thinking was that between the festive crowd, the loud noises, those cool flame throwers that ignite when somebody hits a three point shot, well, there’d be something for him to find, right?

Right. He loved walking up to the arena. Pointing to the cranes stretched high in the sky, perking up at the sound of heavy construction underway. Something's being built today, he looked to be thinking, his nose in the air and a squint in his eyes. I can smell it.

Technically this wasn’t his first basketball game. There was the Diaper Derby back in his younger months, but that was what, two years ago? Ancient history.

Now, buying tickets, I watched him bouncing around, ready for tip off. I remember going to the games as a kid, how the thrill of getting close to the action would had me hopping around like a Cameron Crazy.

Yeah, that’s not what was happening here. I think the kid just had to pee or something. As soon as I got our tickets and we walked into that dark arena and  it was like a balloon deflated. Some guy handed him one of those foam #1 hand thingies. He gave it a shrug and handed it over to me, his eyes lingering back on the sunny day as we went to find our seats.

The day wasn't a bust. There were some things he liked. He enjoyed the popcorn. He really liked the steps leading down to the court. He watched maybe a possession or two of basketball. Then the going got....difficult.

Here’s the deal. I don’t mind if my kid doesn’t like sports. To be honest, getting older and becoming a dad, I don’t have the same overzealous enthusiasm of my younger years. Besides, he’s three. He has plenty of time to change his mind, if he chooses.

My kid is much more interested in what makes something work or how it was built than watching some guys put a ball in a basket. Oh my God. That sounded just like my wife.

And this from a guy whose weekends used to be marathons of football or basketball games. Playoff time meant that I was not taking calls. What? You broke your leg? Okay, commercial break is over. I’m going to have to call you back.

From the time I could walk I loved going to the gym. The band playing, the pulse of the crowd, the lights and atmosphere. My son today? Wow, look at these fold up seats. You put them down and they swing right back up again. Amazing. I just gotta take a look-see how they do that!

We made it to halftime. And only because the place wasn’t quite half full and there was plenty of roaming room. We did some laps around the gym, checking out those straw dispensers and shouting Naughty! at every, single, napkin or bottle cap on the floor.

On our way out, climbing up from the court, the announcer was going wild. Someone hit a three. I didn’t even turn back, I had a grubby little hand in my own, a wife and kid who wanted to get outside and into the sunshine. And maybe they were on to something. Coming out of the dark gym, it was bright and had warmed up nicely. I took a big breath of fresh air, then my son saw a golf cart and that  became a thing.

We’ll try again at four, or five, or whenever he actually asks to go to a game. But I won’t hold my breath. This is a kid who’d rather cut the grass on the football field than watch the big guys collide, (again, sounding like my wife right there, ugh). But I have a feeling that my son just isn’t a big sports fan. He’d rather go to a Consumer Reports field testing facility.

Do they offer season tickets?

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Hide and Seek....Now Repeat

“You find me and I’ll hide.”

It’s not a question. Or a statement really. Actually, now that I wrote it, it makes no sense at all. But in my house it means that my son is going to hide in the couch and I need to play along.

The key here is not to find the little bugger right away, because where’s the fun in that? Then again, I can’t take too long because well, there’s a little guy in the pillows—I mean behind the curtains, I mean under the table, I mean where is he anyway?  That guy will get antsy.

So it takes just the right amount of finding to go with the hiding. And once I do find him, (or when he busts out and announces, "I found myself!”), well, then it’s time to start all over again. So it's important to drag things out, because games have a way of hanging around our house for a long, long time.

“You find me and I’ll hide.”

And again.

And again.

And again.

Now, I like a good winter activity just about as much as any man can enjoy wandering around his house looking in the oven for his kid. But it does, after a while, get a bit redundant. But then again, sometimes when I’m at work, maybe waiting at the water cooler or walking to the bathroom, there in my mind I see this little blonde head popping out of the cushions with that big, half-moon smile on his face.

“You find me and I’ll hide!”

You bet I will.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Tale of Two KIds

We’re along the path in the woods. The creek is high, moving fast with with snow melt and mud. My son’s pace however, is glacial. He takes a step, finds a stick, then WACK! swats off the brittle brown seed heads along the way. For a while I only watch. The tassels of his knit hat swing with each chop. His face, pink cheeks and red nose, is scrunched up in hushed determination. With the hat, the green hooded sweat shirt and puddle boots, he’s a picture of unbridled youth. And for those few moments I’m filled with that enormous, purely unselfish joy that comes with watching my child do the simplest things.

What a wonderful moment I think, placing a hand to my heart, letting the fuzzy little scene etch its place into my memory.

One hour later...

A shitstorm. My kid wants chocolate and has no desire to earn it. The way he sees it he was born therefore it is his birthright. Now. No, now! He assumes the position. Flopping to the floor, his flailing is impeccable. His face, only moments ago a delicate arrangement of unblemished pale chub, is now barnhouse red, bunched up so tight that the tears have nowhere to go and pool in his tightly shut eyes. I try to help and he swats at me. When he receives the desired affect (my anger), he swats again. I walk away, into the other room, where I used to watch movies, sports, or nothing at all, because that’s what I’m supposed to do. 

I've read up on this. I know to ignore it. Don't give in. Don't give him a reaction. 

But a little voice says, Wait, isn't walking away a reaction? 

Well-Read Voice: No. Do not show weakness. Don't second guess it. He'll see it and pounce! 

Little Voice: Nonsense, he's a child. And where did you pick up that accent?

In my three years as a parent, I’m getting better. But it’s not about me. It’s about him.

He’s a good kid, really. He’s got some manners installed and we’re just turning the corner on that pesky potty training. Of course there’s going to be some miscues. Some fits. If there weren’t, well, I’d wonder whether he really is my child.

The main thing I’ve learned is patience. Like that walk in the woods the other day, we don’t just hop skip and jump from one place to another. Because when you’re only say, 1,100 days old, everything is still rather fresh. A stick can be a wondrous instrument. A soldering iron, a sword, a screwdriver, a pen or a fork. It can wack and prod, swing and draw.

Some things I’m doing well, others not so much. I read parenting articles and cringe at all I’m doing wrong. Sometimes I give in. I just throw in the towel and hand him that chocolate to avoid the whole kitchen floor thing. Then I worry that I’m creating a jerk. A trophy-getter. A brat. Like the other day I came home from lunch and my wife had told him no to a cookie. And what did I do but just walk in and unknowingly erase her hard fought battle. Although I gotta give him credit, the little bugger saw an opportunity (or a sucker) and went for it.

But mostly I’m doing things right. I guess. Who knows really? I know that much because he tells me how much fun we have when we’re together. He tells me that he loves his family. He gives me kisses when I get a boo-boo. So that’s something, right?

And besides, so what if we don’t do what everyone else is doing?

My kid eats fruit. He eats vegetables. Most of the time. He loves milk and water and I can proudly say he’s never had a Happy Meal in his life, (although he has developed that taste for chocolate). So what if he doesn’t like meat. Some people find that strange. I find it, well, fine.

He sleeps in his own bed. With Mom. Or me. Or both. That’s just where we are right now. People think that is strange. I’m okay with strange.

My point is that we do what works for us. And so should any parent. Sure, routines are good and temper-tantrums are normal. Other than that, be patient, stock up on chocolate, read lots of books to your kid, and let them be creative. 

That's all I've got. Oh, and if you should start thinking to yourself in an accent, well, at least you'll be entertained.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Potty Training.

What comes in, must come out. Somewhere. In a diaper. A potty. One time down his leg onto the floor.
Oh that's gross? Sorry, it's just that once a naked three-year-old does a cartwheel right in your face, well, you just kind of get past all that. 

But the potty training, how's it going you didn't ask? Well, some days it’s a breeze, he tears off his pants and heads for his little froggy toilet in the bathroom just a ringing and singing. Other days, such as this morning, the mere mention of it sets off a horror movie scream that has the dogs taking cover.

But mostly he gets it right. And he’s awfully proud of himself. Like last night. He was on his little potty, giving Mom and me a play-by-play of what was happening. How he wasn’t quite done, in case we were wondering. Then it was back to singing Christmas carols while on his potty. 

Such are the times.

But it will be nice not having to buy diapers. Or change them. Or even look at them after three years of handling full ones. And I think he's ready to be done with them too, be a big boy, where some Underoos. 

And being that we're not completely in the clear I have to keep an eye on his expression. I can face read him like a champ. The narrowing eyes, the furrowing brow, means that a storm's abrewing and we'd better get him where he needs to go. Some jumping up and down, a slight smile, well, that means the dude needs to pee.

When he does his business in the potty you'd think he'd won the slots. A parade ensues. He gets high-fives, we cheer him down the hall to the kitchen where he receives a bit of candy to grease his palms. And he's ready to tell anyone about it.The other night we went to dinner with friends, their 8 and 5 year-old girls were at the end of the table. My son hops out of his seat, struts back to them with a gleam in his eye and says, “I’m potty trained.”

It just may be the best come-on line in history.

And things aren't always a breeze, not with such a stubborn strong-willed kid. But every kid is different, and will take to doing things at different ages. For my kid this was all about comfort. For a time his reason for not pooping at school was that the toilet is too loud. Not sure if that was truth or just a well thought out excuse but it was fine with me. He's going now so all is well.

Man, when did I get here, writing about poop? Maybe after my last  shred of dignity was bundled up and tossed into a diaper genie. Or perhaps before, when I was fumbling sloshing bottles of breast milk in the fog of night. Either way, this is just one more notch in the belt of parenthood. Next up, hang on, uh, there’s poop on the floor….