Thursday, November 21, 2013

She's Buggin Who?

There was an old rap song by Ed O.G. and the Bulldogs called "Bug-A-Boo" and it went a little something like this:

"Now this is the meaning of a Bug-A-Boo
It's a person who's constantly BUGGIN YOU
Never givin you no room TO BREATHE
On you like skin, or a shirt WITH SLEEVES
A person that constantly wants to be around you
It could even be your moms or pops when they hound you
Just someone who's always botherin you
If you was a plant, they'd be continuously watering you"

Now Ed must have been some kind of psychic, clairvoyant, fortune telling hip hop artist, to so accurately describe in 1991, my life with my precious three year old. It's like he spent a day with us and went right into the studio to record this song.

I understand that it's normal for a three year-old to crave the attention of their parents but I'm sorry, there's a line that separates normal attention seeking and Bug-A-Booing. And Morgan crosses that line every day at about 9:17 a.m.

For example: If your kid eats two packs of oatmeal, a whole apple (sliced just the way she likes it without the skin), and a cup of chocolate milk at 8:21 am, there's no way she should be shuffling into the kitchen at 8:32 claiming hunger. No way.

But like I said, I get it. Whatever it takes to get mom or dad's attention is fair game even if it's asking the same question every 5 minutes.

9:04 am: Daddy can we go to the swing park?
No baby, it's raining.
9:09 am: Daddy can we go to the swing park?
No baby it's raining.
9:14 am: Daddy can we go to the swing park?
No baby it's raining.
9:19 am: Daddy can we go to the swing park? Daddy? Daddy? Daaaaaaaaddy? Daddy I'm talking to you.

And it's no coincidence that this Bug-A-Boo-ness gets worse after a visit from a grand or great grandparent.

Yeah, I said it.

These people come into your home and devote every minute they're there to showering your kids with love, affection and worst of all ATTENTION. But THEN....they leave! And now we're stuck with these little people who have grown accustomed over the course of one week, to being the center of attention, 24/7. And when reality sets in that mommy and daddy lack the patience or desire to forego eating or paying bills just to play memory for the 213th time, then that's when they regress to Bug-A-Boo form.

In the short time it took me to post this, I've heard:

Daddy I'm hungry again.
Daddy I'm thirsty.
Daddy can I play the guitar?
Daddy, Papi is in his doghouse.
Daddy can you turn the t.v. down?
Daddy I can't hear the t.v.
Daddy is this your shoe or mommy's? (with heels)
Daddy I don't like birthmarks.
Daddy is the season now or rectangle? (she's desperate)

So Ed O.G., I applaud your special gift to see into the future but I would kindly ask you NOT to include anymore of my family's personal business into your records. No matter how accurate it may be. And now as I end this post with Morgan sitting on my lap, I send a message to any of her grandparents who may be reading this: COME SOON.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Mixed Messages

There are so many facets of our lives where we have to decide whether to make decisions based on our hearts or our heads. In the past, during those horrible, disgusting, unsatisfying, meaningless days of bachelorhood, I struggled with these kinds of decisions constantly. If my heart said "call the girl so she knows you're thinking about her", then my head would say "whatever you do, DON'T call her. Because then she'll know that you're thinking about her".

Even in my professional life I'd struggle with this kind of internal debate. My heart might say "go ahead and stay until the job is done. Establish yourself as reliable and competent". Meanwhile the thought upstairs was "whatever you do, DON'T stay late because then they'll always expect you to stay late. And they're not even paying overtime." Just confusing.

And now that I'm a dad I'm realizing that Heart vs. Head dynamic is still an issue. Except now we're talking about raising well-rounded kids who will one day be able to take care of themselves. So the stakes are much higher than expressing my feelings for some girl or getting "cool points" from my boss.

Here are some examples of the battle between my head and heart when it comes to raising daughters.

Heart - If someone hits you, you hit them back. Hard. It's the only way they'll realize that you're not the best target of their aggression.
Head - If someone hits you, go tell an adult. Violence usually only leads to more violence like in Boyz in The Hood. And who's to say you might not raise a future bully?

Heart - If you don't want to eat what mom made for dinner, fine. Get ready for your bath and then it's straight to bed. You'll just be hungry.
Head - If you don't want to eat what mom made for dinner, TOO BAD. Eat it anyway, and if you don't, there will be consequences and repercussions because if you don't, you'll just be hungry.

Heart - The world would be a better place if everyone learned how to share and cooperate with one another. If your sister lost her toy, let her play with yours for a little while and everyone is happy.
Head - The world would be a better place if everyone learned how to appreciate what they have. If your sister lost her toy, that's on her for not taking better care of it. Why should you have to suffer for her carelessness?

Being Nice:
Heart - Be nice to people in general. Respectful and polite. Pleasantness begets pleasantness and isn't that what the world needs more of these days?
Head - You don't know those people, keep your distance. You don't have to smile and wave at everybody you see. People are crazy these days and you just can't trust them.

So see, there are pros and cons to every way of thinking and like I said, with the stakes so high it's almost impossible to say which is right and which is wrong. It's almost like a coin toss and however it falls you have to just go with it and hope your heart or your head hasn't led you astray.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Other One

There were a lot of changes and adjustments that I prepared for when my four year-old started Pre-K this year. None of which included the extra time I would spend with my two (almost three) year-old. As I bathed in the glory of the absence of one, I shamefully overlooked the presence of the other.

It never dawned on me that with the oldest out of the picture, the youngest would be able to take full advantage of having daddy all to herself, for at least seven hours a day. And it's almost been like meeting her for the first time. All of the things I thought I knew about my baby are true, but then there's more.

For example, I always knew she was a sweetheart but I didn't realize just how funny she can be. I say funny but maybe silly is a better description. Either way, she keeps me laughing whenever we're in the same room (despite my futile attempts to NOT be in the same room).

I always knew she was smart. Like "let's get her tested" type of smart. But now that we can sit down and talk about whatever she wants, without any interruptions or interference from outside influences named mom or sister, I am blown away by some of the stuff that comes out of her mouth. Her vocabulary is off the charts for an "almost three year-old". We were searching for her new Princess slippers the other day and I said, "you had them last, where did you leave them?" And she shrugged her shoulders and said "I don't know. It's mysterious."

Now her usage may have been a little awkward but yet appropriate.

But it hasn't been all sunshine and rainbows as I've also learned a lot about her temper and stubbornness. But if she were sitting here (and could type) I'd bet she'd be saying the same thing about me. So we'll call that one a draw.

But otherwise I've been enjoying getting to know my baby during our alone time but it also makes me realize that I've been allowing her sister to dominate my time and attention when she's around. And if you know her then you know that I can't be held completely accountable for that. It's like blaming a blade of grass for being swayed by a gust of wind. #ForceOfNature.

But I'll do better.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Go Forth and Matriculate

Oops, I got so caught up in the excitement of my 4 year-old starting Pre-K that I've neglected my blog and all four of you that read it. It's been a bit of a rush making the transition from parents of two small at-home children to one small at-home child and one STUDENT.

Just some of the new additions and practices that can be found in our home now include, backpacks, lunchboxes (which are a lot fancier these days than when I carried one), school lunches, uniforms, and notes from the teacher (all good of course).

Becoming the parent of a student is almost like becoming a parent for the first time. The excitement, paranoia and anxiety rise to levels they hadn't reached since the first sonogram. "What's she going to be like?" becomes "What's she going to be like in school?". Before they're born you just hope your baby is healthy and when you send them off to school you just hope your baby is safe. One thing I'm learning about this parenting gig is that there's ALWAYS something to worry about, "from the womb to the tomb".

So just as I was starting to feel like I had the hang of our everyday tasks and concerns, I'm presented with an all new routine, different hurdles and a fresh new list of shi stuff that keeps me awake at night and staring at my phone during the day. All in the name of education.

And while she's off broadening her horizons at school, her little sister is home celebrating her liberation from sibling oppression, which brings its own set of anxieties. Without her big sister around it's become obvious rather quickly that the little one should be under constant surveillance while she discovers her new found freedom and tests her abilities and limitations.

So maybe not EVERYTHING has changed.

But like I said, it's all exciting. I wait anxiously to see what school brings out of her. Will she be a leader, a scholar, an athlete, shy, obnoxious, silly, assertive, passive, etc.? These are all of the same things I wondered about when she was born and now we've taken our first step to finding out.

Friday, August 2, 2013

School Busses and Boogeymen

I had a short conversation with Zari the other day about all of the things she was afraid of (my attempt at preparing her for her first foray into the "real world" a.k.a. Pre-K next week).

As she explained in her best "4-going-on-25-year-old" logic how noises in the dark make her think there are monsters in the room and how being alone downstairs makes her afraid that something will "get her", my adult mind automatically wanted to dismiss her fears as silly but I didn't.

I didn't because I realized that I also may have fears or anxieties that other may find "silly" or irrational and the last thing I want to hear is that those things that haunt me are unwarranted and/or impossible. For instance, I'm afraid to EVER let me daughter ride a school bus. Too much shi stuff goes wrong on school busses these days and I'd rather just avoid those possibilities altogether. Now some of you may think that's "silly" but no one is going to convince me that "there's nothing to worry about" on those rolling, yellow, vehicles of danger.

I read somewhere that instead of dismissing your child's fears, you should use rationale and logic to help dispel those fears. So instead of saying "there's no such thing as monsters" I should say something like "Daddy won't let any monsters get you" or "monsters only live on school busses" or something along those lines. I get it.

Then it hit me; right now it's monsters, next year it may be swimming, and then public speaking, new schools, dating (cool with that one), leaving home, etc. There will always be a new fear for us to help them through, even as adults. I guess that's just one of the job descriptions of parenting. Always be there to apply rationale and logic to help them overcome the "fear of the day" so that they can continue moving forward.

Just not on a school bus. JS.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Playing Favorites

I've always heard that a parent should never show favoritism toward any of their children.  I can imagine the kinds of emotional baggage a child might start to accumulate if they ever began to feel like one or both parents may "like" their sibling just a little more than them.

With that being said, isn't it almost impossible not to "lean" one way or another even when it comes to your children? If you have more than one child, chances are one of them will share characteristics with you, both physically and otherwise. Is it so wrong if you get a little twinkle in your eye when you realize your oldest child shares your love for reading or when you learn that your middle kid is a neat freak just like you?

But I get it. That "twinkle" is natural and innate but the task is to not be overt about it. You can't come home to a messy child's room and say "look at this mess. Why can't you be more like your brother. You don't see his room in shambles like this." Not a good idea. But let's not pretend you have to be possessed by the devil to kinda, sorta like one kid more than the other....sometimes.

Hey, I love my babies equally with all of my heart but given certain circumstances and environments, would I choose to hang out with one over the other? Absolutely hell yes, one hundred percent, most definitely, for sure, you bet!

Don't hate me, I'm just saying.

When I'm in the mood to just sit down in a quiet room and listen to music peacefully for 30-45 minutes, I know exactly who to invite to sit on my lap and listen with me. But that's not the same kid that gets excited about helping me with yard work. Two different kids, two different personalities that I FAVOR for different reasons.

So favoritism in general, as a one-time broad stroke of a parenting brush = bad. But favoritism as an equal opportunity, right time, right place, certain circumstance kind of concept = good. And as far as I'm concerned this gives them their own time to feel special because they know that they have their "thing" with Dad, whether it's eskimo kisses or making up secret handshakes and they'll always have reasons to feel like my "favorite".

And then they'll grow up, get married and forget all about me....sniff..sniff (I need a tissue).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Hulk in All of Us

"Leave your sister alone!"

I used to love watching the old Incredible Hulk show with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferigno. But before I got older and able to recognize the symbolism and underlying message about self-control I used to think "why doesn't he just stop getting angry?" As if it were that simple.

Little did I know that I would never really understand David Banner's struggles to contain his anger and other volatile emotions until I became a father.

I don't think I've EVER in my life prior to having children had to literally sit down and catch my breathe without having exerted any physical energy whatsoever. Before becoming a dad I may have said "I've had it up to here" millions of times. But not until recently do I really know what it feels like to have "had it up to here".

It's like you can really feel yourself filling up with something that you know won't be good if/when it spills out. Whether it's frustration or anger or pure exhaustion from the relentless demands of small children it can all become overwhelming in a way that can be scary sometimes.

And I've learned that it all boils down to patience and being aware enough to know when you'd better retreat and find that quiet "place" in your head to keep that tea pot of emotion from boiling over. This becomes even more obvious on the news when someone has hurt their child for one stupid reason or another. Yeah, sometimes they're just evil people but sometimes they are decent people who were just ill-prepared for the rigors of being a responsible parent. Something was lacking whether it's maturity, patience or compassion, etc. all of which are "must-have" qualities when trying to raise children.

So David Banner, I apologize for minimizing your struggle against Hulking out. It takes a strong person to fight back the natural emotions that result from a beating, either physical or emotional whether by the hands of a ruthless gang leader or a ruthless 4 year-old. Kudos to you for always fighting the good fight and keeping your composure when it mattered most. And even for the times when you couldn't keep it together, at least you felt bad about it.

I bet you would have been a great parent.