Monday, July 26, 2010


You're traveling through another dimension -- a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the "Why?" Zone! Our 2 year old has entered the phase where every statement is followed by the dreaded toddler question, "Why?" In the Why Phase, every, I mean every comment, question, and grunt out of a parent's mouth is met with "Why?" What is the motivation? Is it the constant thirst for knowledge by a growing mind who is just so curious to learn as much as he can about the world around him? Or is it a secret devious plan agreed upon by all 2 year olds forming the 1801 Act of Annoyance to be put into practice once a child reaches the stage in life to be too responsible to be ignored and too cute to be mad at, to test the fortitude of all parents across time? I believe the latter.

Have you ever got into the "why?" battle with your toddler? It goes something like this:
Parent: Ok, time to go take a bath.
Child: Why?
Parent: Because we take a bath every night.
Child: Why?
Parent: Because you get dirty throughout the day and need a bath.
Child: Why?
Parent: Because you colored with crayons, ate 3 of them, are covered in dog hair from wrestling with the dog after eating a sticky popsicle, and after our spaghetti dinner I can't tell if you are going to be permanently stained orange.
Child: Why?
Parent: Because more spaghetti went down your shirt than in your mouth
Child: Why?
Parent: Because you were distracted by fighting with your also stained brother, who also needs a bath.
Child: Why?
Parent: Because you are both dirty kids and I don’t want to change your sheets every night if I send you to bed without a bath.
Child: Why?
Parent: Because at the end of the day, I am tired and daily laundry is not high on my list.
Child: Why?
Parent: Cause I'd rather watch the Bachelorette: the men tell all and see what Frank has to say to Ali after they broke up.
Child: Why?
Parent: Cause he had a girlfriend at home and needed to see where that was going to go before getting into another relationship with Ali
Child: Why?
Parent: Because Ali deserves better. This is her second chance at love on a reality TV show and she needs to find the perfect man in Tahiti and go on perfect dates because that is what real life is like and everything is easy once you are all alone with each other and there are no cameras around you, so you look for the next reality show like Jake did with Dancing with the Stars so you don’t have to face your reality show mistakes but we see how that turned out for him and Vienna on "Bachelor: the Break-up" where Chris Hanson seemed genuinely concerned for both of them but you know he wanted the gossip to stop like the rest of America because we all knew Vienna was only in the relationship for fame and he should have picked Tenley but there was also something wrong with him too and his anger issues so you question ABC's screening process for these contestants and you decide you are going to be bigger than this reality show nonsense and never watch them again. But then the Bachelorette starts and you tune in.
Child: Why?
Parent: Cause there was nothing else on.
Chile: Why?

And it goes on and on and on.

Never get yourself in the continually circling, never-ending back and forth of trying to answer their why questions. That’s what they want from you. Don't give in to them. Instead here are 5 alternatives to end the cycle before it’s too late. Use these responses and win the battle.

1. “Because.”
Ah yes, the classic. This will work on the young and immature but it could be dangerous if you use it on an older toddler who have learned the skill of debate because they will respond to your "because" with a "because why?" When your child pulls this out of their osh-gosh back pocket the first time, it will stop you in your tracks because you have not pre-planned for this moment. But consider yourself lucky because when this happens, here is your response: "Because I said so." It will work 20-50% of the time depending on the anger in your inflection.

2. "Why not?"
The old answer a question with a question. Watch them squirm when you turn their own game against them. But be careful, they could also answer your question with a “because.” And the ones asking for a time-out will give you, “Because I said so.”

3. “Ask your mother”
This statement has been serving fathers since Cain and Abel asked Adam where babies came from. This phrase is not only reserved for questions about sex or homework anymore. Use it freely Dads. Sorry Moms.

4. “Who wants ice cream?”
The distraction. If they attempt to ask “why?” to this one, just reply, “oh well, I thought you might want ice cream but I guess not.” It works every time. Depending on their age you could also use, “Your shoes are untied,” “Hey look a puppy,” or just jiggle your keys in front of them until it’s funny or annoying. There is nothing like fighting annoying with annoying.

5. Fake sleep
When you notice the “Why?” cycle begin, find the closest wall, lean up against it, shut your eyes and fake snore. I know we are already employing this trick when its time to clean up after thanksgiving dinner or when its time to change the diapers but it can be affective versus the toddlers. And you don’t have to slow your breathing or let a little drool slip out of your mouth like you do when your wife brings out the Honey-do list during the NFL game on Sunday. Or when your husband comes to bed after watching the late game on Sunday smelling like beer and Doritos, looking for some “unnecessary roughness.”

So when you are staring down the deceivingly cute face of a 2 year old and you are dead-locked in an epic battle of wills, mono e mono, you versus them, and there is no end in sight to their cyclical questioning, you now have a way out. And you will win, because they may be cute, but you are bigger than they are.

Checking to see if my wife is really sleeping or not,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Preference vs. Favoritism

As a parent of more than one child, 3 to be exact, I know one is not supposed to show favoritism to one child over another. You love your children equally regardless of circumstance or character or age or anything. But some parents throughout history have shown favoritism. Isaac showed favoritism toward Esau and Rebekah toward Jacob. Darth Vader favored Luke over Leia to join him in the dark side. The Baldwins have always favored Alec over the other 3. Well would you choose the one with the hit NBC sitcom and established movie career, or the one addicted to cocaine, the one married to Chynna Phillips from Wilson Phillips, or the one who starred next to Pauley Shore in "Bio-dome."

But I do believe parents can show preference at certain times for one child more than another. Favoritism is more long term where preference is short term. Preference is shown at certain times where favoritism is at all times. You love your children equally at all times but sometimes one child may stick out to you or do something cute/sweet or just come back from a long trip and you want nothing more than to spend all your time with that one child. The trick is sharing those moments with this child without the others seeing or you may risk jealousy in the others. Because they do not understand the concept of preference over favoritism.

My nine month old, Baby Nate, is so sweet and cute you literally want to eat him up. (I never understood this concept that one would want to devour and ingest something that they thought was adorable. I understand hugging the life out of it but not eating it. Maybe lions devour their young because they never got the memo that it was just a figure of speech.) He is so fun to hold, rarely cries, and smiles all the time. There are many times when I prefer him over the other 2 screaming, fighting toddlers because he doesn't talk back, fight, or slam doors. Then there are times I prefer our 2 year old Drew, when its just him and my wife and I after the other 2 have gone to bed and he talks in his jumbled English where you can make out every 3rd word in his high pitched little voice. He always informs us that he only peeped in his diaper, so no change me. And then our five year old, Zachary is so smart and his memory is so good that he can hold up a toy and tell me how old he was when he got it, who got it for him, and the other toys he got at that time too. He also knows 7-8 bible memory verses he recites each and every night but gets upset if he forgets one. So smart. Those are some times when I "prefer" that child and that time with them. But there are also times when Zachary is having a bad attitude day and every "get up to your room for time-out" is met with a "no" is met with a "how bout 'yes'?" is met with "how bout 'no'?" is met with a "how bout a spanking?" is met with "I'm going to my room." And at the same time, Drew is instigating a punching fight with Zachary and running around with a poopy diaper. And at the same time Nate is screaming to be fed, is poopy, and has just crawled to the dog's water dish and spilled it all over himself and the hardwood floors....again. At those times I prefer other people's children.

But the amazing thing about being a parent is that you love them all the same regardless. One might be more challenging than another, one might be more smiley than another, and one might be Drew. But they are each fearfully and wonderfully made in the image of our true Father who also shows no favorites.

But if God did play favorites, it would be me,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Sad Toot

I wanted to share this quick story for 2 reasons: 1. I think its hilarious and you'd enjoy it. 2. I wanted to write it down so it wouldn't be forgotten.

Zachary and I went to visit my parents at a state park which was supposedly 45 minutes away. I didn't have directions, I just thought I would look for the state park signs and take that exit. Well, originally I wasn't sure how far away it was, so I kept driving. About mile marker 32 I decided to call my parents to find out the exit number. They said "exit 84" I was now 52 miles past the exit so instead we just went a couple more miles to Cincinnati to visit my brother and his family. (That wasn't the story, but I thought it shows how great I am at directions or lack there of, ask my wife. But I improvised and everything worked out to lead to this story.)

That night after playing in the pool all day with his 4 boy cousins, Zachary made the decision to spend the night. Everything was going as planned until we got closer to bedtime and he pulled me aside and with tears in his eyes he sobbed, "I want to go home. I miss mommy." (insert 'ahh, thats so sweet' comment here) We then go upstairs to tell his cousins we are leaving, and they proceed to try to convince him otherwise. Why don't companies employ 6 and 7 year olds for telemarketing jobs? They would be the best salesmen in persistence alone, not to mention you'd feel like a jerk hanging up on a kid. But Zachary made his decision and so standing between them he says in the most sorrowful voice, "Sorry Ben and Will, but I have to go home." and without skipping a beat, rips the longest and equally sorrowful sounding fart. Its like his butt wanted to state its regret too. Well, in a room full of boys, we all started laughing so hard and imitating it over and over again. Well, we now have our newest catch phrase for the summer of 2010 and will be repeated every get-together until replaced by another flatulence-inspired one-liner.

Now I need to go clean the couch. Why you might ask? I just walked into the living room where Drew is sitting on the couch with his shirt off and upon asking why his shirt off he states, "cause it has pee-pee on it." And underneath him, on the couch, is the pee-pee stain where it has leaked through the diaper. But before you go calling children services on my neglectful parenting, the diaper was hardly wet. So let me offer some friendly advice to new parents of boys or little known information to parents of girls: Always, I mean always, point it down before closing up the diaper.

And they wonder why their nicknames are based off the Nick Jr. show, "Toot and Puddle."

Trying to decide if Resolve or Febreeze is better,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

'Toot and Puddle'

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Truth hurts...a lot.

If you read my last blog about theology and my five year old, you will appreciate this story that happened the same day. As a precursor please understand my wife is an amazing mother and spouse and it was a long stressful day yesterday for her.

My middle child, Drew, (who is 2) had bilateral hernia surgery yesterday but he is perfectly fine now except a little sore. We have been keeping him down so he can rest and recover while family has been calling or stopping by with presents/food. We got a call today from Drew's uncle that he would be stopping by with a present for Drew. So we prepped our five year old Zachary that he would not be receiving a present. So I went into this "kid-friendly" explanation about how Drew went to the hospital where he had procedure to help his hurt belly. And now his belly is better but hurts from this procedure so people will bring him presents to make him feel better. So Zachary should not get upset about not receiving any presents today. He seemed to understand and I was feeling pretty proud as a parent about explaining bilateral hernia repair surgery in 'toddler speak' so he could understand me without scaring him about the actual procedure and risks involved. Well my wife turns to me and says "I know you are trying to be very gentle about this but watch this: Zachary, why did Drew go to the hospital?" To which Zachary replies non-chalantly, "to get his belly cut open with a knife."

Apparently, after a long stressful day, my wife in her frustration of constantly debating with Zachary why Drew was getting special treatment today blurted out that the truth was Drew just had his belly cut open with a knife. It obviously worked cause Zachary didn't bother him too much the rest of the day.

So if that works, I am going to tell them I had bilateral below knee amputations where they cut deep into my epidermis and fascia, down through tissue and sinew, cutting and ripping, to finally use a bone saw to separate my tibia and fibula bones from my patella then surgically reattached every nerve, artery and vein, glued the bones together, and applied the skin graft to make everything look like nothing ever happened; so that is the reason I need to spend some time on the couch.

Doing whatever I can for a little peace and quiet,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Friday, July 16, 2010

Debating Systematic Theology with a 5 year old.

Tonight my wife and I each took a child for bed time. She took the five year old and I took the two year old to complete their bedtime routines. My job was a little easier since a late nap afforded the two year old a free pass to stay up later, so Lindsey takes our 5 year old up to bed. About 10 minutes later, I hear "Mark, I need you." This could be one of two things: 1. He is refusing all attempts at bedtime and she needs my manly persuasion to lay down the law to get him to bed or 2. He threw up and I am on clean-up duty because she is huddled in the corner throwing up in her mouth too. (What I don't understand is she has been spit up on, peed on, and had diarrhea run down her shirt and yet when a kid vomits, thats where she draws the line.)

I go upstairs and Zachary, our five year old, is crying. At this point it still could be either of the options listed above but I did not see steam coming out of my wife's ears or smell the sweet aroma of vomit in the air, so something was different. I asked what was wrong and my wife told me that Zachary was crying because he did not want his friends to die and not go to heaven because they didn't have the Holy Spirit. And upon hearing this I realize either a time-out or mop and bucket was going to be a quicker clean-up than this conversation I was about to have. Now, I love my wife and she means well. I love how she wants to teach our children about Jesus and about truth. But this was not the way to do it tonight. Well apparently my wife, Lindsey, and Zachary were talking about the Holy Spirit. But instead of the frilly, "he is always with you, protecting you, and watching out for you" bedtime story, Lindsey gives him the "the Holy Spirit comes and lives in your heart and you will go to heaven, but those people who don't have the Holy Spirit in their hearts will not go to heaven." And at this point Zachary, in his 5 year old brain puts 2 and 2 together to conclude, "I don't know if my friends have the Holy Spirit in their hearts, so they must not, so they are going to die and not go to heaven." And hence the crying. He even said, "I am so worried." I know, right?
So I laid down next to Zachary, started rubbing his leg and comforting him, and gently said, "Well what you should be worried about his blaspheming the Holy Spirit cause that is an unforgivable sin and you will never, ever go to heaven but be eternally separated from God in a dark evil place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth for all eternity. Good night. Sleep tight."
Of course I didnt say that. We talked about Jesus and how he loves everybody and wants everyone to come to know him and join him in heaven and that you need to love Jesus, be good and obey your parents (yeah, I threw that in, for good measure), listen to your teachers and do what the bible says and you will have the Holy Spirit in your heart and go to heaven. And you can share Jesus with your friends, so they can go to heaven too. Well he stopped crying, said ok, we prayed and now all is well in our household again. Well at least until Lindsey puts our 2 year old down and their bedtime story is about free-will vs predestination. That will be another fun clean-up conversation.

I never thought I would want to clean up vomit,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Have you had these theology conversations with your children?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Team Edward vs Team Jacob: There can be only one!!

I want to pose some ideas to help you answer the greatest question of life: Are you Team Jacob or Team Edward?

We just came back from seeing the new Twilight movie tonight. I do want to point out in that sentence I said "we". I did not go by myself, wearing the t-shirt and squealing everytime Jacob takes his shirt off or Edward gives Bella the "tortured soul" look. No, I went with my wife who did all those things. I have to admit, I did like the movie. I didn't read the books so had nothing to compare the movies to but the best part about the movie compared to the books: no reading. Anyway, I did want to give some pros and cons to those out there who havent made up their mind about whose team to be on: Team Edward or Team Jacob.

First we will start with Pros for Edward and cons for Jacob:

-In the sunlight, He is beautiful and sparkles like diamonds
-In the sunlight, He looks normal but pants in the heat and slobbers

-In water, he can walk and doesnt need to breathe underwater
-In water, he smells like wet dog

-He sparkles
-He sheds
(Would you rather have rose pedals waiting for you around the house or hairballs and fur)

And now pros for Team Jacob
-He wears expensive clothes
-Doesnt wear shirts, save on your clothing budget

-no muscles

-You can climb trees with Edward
-You can pet Jacob

-He drinks blood which is free but he has to hunt for it
-He eats a lot of meat (expensive) or $10.99 for a 20 lb bag of Purina Dog chow (cheap)

-It is very difficult to convince Edward to do anyhting and must compromise with marriage
-Offer Jacob a dog biscuit and he'll do anything: shake, lay down, play dead, stay, etc

If you are still having a hard time coming up with a decision I have come up with other ideas that dont have a clear cut pro or con. Its up to you decide.

-He is cold-blooded so in summer, you'd save money on air-conditioning, but useless in winter
-He is warm-blooded and furry so in winter, you'd save on heat but in summer he would be hot and uncomfortable. You ever try cuddling with a dog in the summer heat. Not fun.

-As a vampire, you could never have children but you would never grow old
-with a werewolf, you would grow old togther but have puppies and grand-puppies. And not one at a time, but a litter of eight. Ask Jon and Kate and Octo-mom how that turned out.

-He has to hunt, so he'd go away for long weekends with the guys
-He would stay at home with you, but instead of cuddling he might prefer to scoot on the carpet.

-The two most important things to him: you and blood.
-The two most important things to him: you and a tennis ball.

So I hope that has helped you make a decision on which Team you would like to join. Or you could always join the team every girl in America is on: Team I hate Bella. She twitches.

Off to watch Rambo and kill a shark with my bare hands to regain my manhood,

The Joyful and Tired Dad