Sunday, December 12, 2010

A winter prayer

Dear Lord,
I know you created the heavens and the earth. You created all seasons, from the beauty of falling leaves in autumn to the wonderful falling snow of winter. And you also created children, from their innocent look on life to their joy and laughter about the littlest of things. You made everything good. But when you add the two of these things together, winter and children, why, oh why God, didn’t You create children’s winter gloves that easily go on little hands? I know there are thousands of types of gloves that are made for kids so why can’t I find a pair that will keep their hands warm but also will take less than an hour to put on a glove while my 5 year old dances around, ready to go outside and getting more and more frustrated every minute. He wants to “do it himself” but when unable he refuses to ask for help. When attempting to help him, he then yells “No I want to do it myself, but I can’t do it, but don’t help me, but I can’t do it.” So when he finally lets me, it seems someone has applied glue to his middle finger and ring finger because they will continually go into the same glove finger. And when they are finally separated, I lose the pinky. I know it’s in there but for some reason it’s gone. I do finally find the pinky but only after he makes a fist pulling the other 3 fingers out of their individual finger holes that we just spent 10 minutes doing. Thank you for making the thumb so easy. It’s the only reason I keep going because it gives hope that the other 4 will go in eventually. So after all fingers are in their respective holes, there are still 2 inches of fingerless glove fabric at the end of each glove finger so we do the awkward “stretch the kids arm out straight, tell him to stretch out his fingers, brace him against a wall, and shove the glove as hard as you can down onto his hand.” It is at this point he decides to loose all the joints in fingers so it’s like putting a glove onto 5 wet noodles. Eventually all fingers are in the correct finger holes and in their proper position and its time to do the other hand. He then informs me that he must go to the bathroom. So we took the glove off, he went potty and when he returned, I put him in mittens.
Lord, thank you for creating winter and snow and children and even winter gloves. But most of all, thank you for the easiest solution to putting winter gloves on kids: mom.

Looking forward to spring,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Mom's Night Out

So my wife went out with a friend to dinner and the OSU basketball game tonight. So, in other words, the most frightening thing that all Dads across the world fear: Mom’s night out! Its not that we are jealous she is out having fun but it’s that we are left with the offspring all alone like a lone soldier dropped too far into enemy territory with no immediate evac....and its getting dark. I do believe children conspire against their parents but it’s on an invisible level that parents are unable to see except for the results of their secret meetings. Like, how they can all be as pleasant as can be one minute and the next they are all crying for different reasons like they had their watches synchronized for zero hour and then “let loose hell,” just to see how the parents will react and then to use this to inflict guilt on the parents. I am still unaware of the goal but I am pretty sure it has something to do with ice cream and/or Toys R Us. I come to believe the latter because there is not a parent out there who has not fallen prey to the “I want it now” or “I don’t want to leave” temper tantrum at said store, by one or all your children at the same time. If they are advanced, they will have scheduled “break down” times so they are not all screaming at the same time but successively to make sure they ride your last nerve like a bull at a rodeo.

Mom’s night out is a perfect example of this conspiracy theory. But the ultimate goal is by the end of the night for Mom to see Dad as an incompetent, inept parent who even though he only watches the children alone every once in a while can’t handle it and at the same time make Dad think brain surgery would have been easier. During mom’s night out the children treat Dad like a substitute teacher. "Lets see what we can get away with before he breaks. Because he will break. Oh yes, he will break."

This is how my night went. Before my wife even left the baby started crying. I have talked about “zero hour” before but here's a reminder. Every day kids have a time when all rationality and sanity go out the window that lasts until bedtime. For us its 5:00 p.m. But luckily for me tonight Nate started at 4:30. He screamed and he cried and he screamed and walked around and cried. Non-stop. I fed him in his highchair for 10 minutes but he kept crying between bites and throwing food on the floor. The other 2 were fine. (It was Nate’s shift). Unfortunately but expectantly dinner went longer than thought due a cooking error on my wife's part. Yes, Lindsey told me what to do but she didn’t say remove the foil so it wasn’t cooked correctly and had to bake longer. If only she was more specific, so yes her fault. Well if it pertains to food, cue Drew. (Drew's shift begins) He is at my heels asking for dinner. Then to the refrigerator, to the freezer, then to the pantry, back to me, to the oven, to me, back to the fridge, now me, to the table, to the pantry, I'm on a horse. All the while I am telling him to “wait for dinner” at every appliance. (Nate is still crying). So finally dinner comes out. I put Nate on the floor because he ate what he was going to, including tears and snot, and I dish out Taco pie. I put the plates and cups on the table, call for dinner, and then their secret watches all start beeping for “go time.” Here are their assignments at this precise moment: Nate – go to the art drawer and pull everything out including the crayon box and dump it all on the floor; Zachary – go to the dinner table and begin complaining about the food and how you are not going to eat it and you want something else. Do not stop complaining whatever you do, keep a whiney noise going constantly. This will provide the auditory distraction and Nate will cause the physical distraction while Dad cleans up the mess to set up the climax. Drew – While he is distracted by Nate and Zachary and not looking at you, spill your drink all over the dining room table and for good measure his chair where he will sit for dinner, soaking the table centerpieces, his chair, and carpet. If all goes to plan, He should lose it in 2.3 seconds. Which I did. Tossing down the art supplies, telling Zachary he can go to bed hungry for all I care and sitting down in the water soaked chair, I begrudgingly ate my dinner wishing mom was home and I was not.

I held it together long enough to get through bath and bedtime, but at this point it was just a race to the finish line. (Finish line in parent speak means “all children in bed asleep and you on your way for wine and/or chocolate.) During bedtime though, they had one more surprise planned. I began reading to Drew which cued him to get up and run out of the room while I am yelling after him “if you don’t stay I am done reading this…” Out he went. I go grab him and put him back into bed tucking him in and leaving when I hear 2 children crying. I understood Drew who wanted his story to be read but out in the hallway, Zachary was crying too. He was crying because his hands itched. They had had to have synchronized watches for this impeccable timing. Like every good Dad, I told Zachary to wash his hands, the equivalent of “walk it off” and read Drew the “abbreviated” version of his story (abbreviated in parent speak means “skip as many pages on the page turn before they notice.)

Next comes the humiliating part that is the night's goal for the children yet Dads still fall prey to it: I call my wife to tell her how horrible the night was. Now depending on your wife she will give you 2 different reactions: empathy or laughing. Let me tell you, you want laughing. Because depending when you call, laughing can either make your pain worse if called right after the “break down” because she is making light of your situation or if called later when they are asleep, make it better because she is making light of your situation. Then you can both laugh at the ridiculousness of it all and chalk it off to the “joys of parenting.” I wanted this reaction, I got the empathy reaction. I will tell you why you don’t want the empathy reaction. Because it may sound like empathy on the outside “that sounds awful, you poor dear, are you ok? Do you need anything?) but on the inside she is saying, “I do this everyday for 10-12 hours a day 5-6 days a week by my self and even on the weekends we have church or get a babysitter so that time doesn’t count. I leave for one night and you make it seem like the world is coming down. They are just children. It’s not like they are devious super spies conspiring against you with synchronized watches and elaborate plans to make you go nuts. (In a mocking tone) well if it’s too hard for you, why don’t you call your mother to take over because you can’t handle it? Just make sure she changes your diaper after she changes theirs.” You do not want the pity… I mean empathy reaction.

So that was my night. Finally, you know it was a mom’s night out because when Dad is put in charge of pajamas, the baby is wearing a 3T footie outfit and the 2 year old is wearing 12 months pants that look like Capri’s.

Looking forward to tomorrow when I am safe at work,
The Joyful and Tired Dad

Sunday, December 5, 2010

It’s just a phase….or is it?

Have you ever said to yourself, “it’s just a phase” to justify the horrendous moment in time called your life. I have found more and more with 3 boys ages 5, 2 and 1 that I keep saying “It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase,” loosely interpreted “please God, no, don’t let this be what life is now like and will be like forever. Please let it be temporary. We just have to get through this time and then we will enter the “Full House” part of life where everyday is filled with Joey’s hilarious situational comedy and Uncle Jesse’s outrageously good-looking hair and every teachable moment is a life lesson where kids sit down on the bed with a beautiful interlude of orchestra music in the background and they listen intently to your wisdom, they apologize for the shenanigans that Kimmie Gibbler got them involved in and their lives are forever changed.”

But the more life goes on, the more I feel like phases only pertain to “teething” and “potty-training,” instead of the phases I would prefer to be phases such as “not listening” and “disobedience” and “I know I ate a huge snack 1 hour before lunch and I just ate a gigantic lunch but I’m so hungry please give me another snack. My belly hurts and it only wants what you are having for lunch.”

We have had quite a “I hope it’s just a phase” weekend. Here are a couple of back stories for you to grasp the essence of this weekend. Drew has a dead tooth. We are going to the dentist Monday to confirm this but a couple of days ago I noticed his front tooth was discolored. I tried to scrape but when brought up to Lindsey, she replies “Yeah I saw that 3 days ago and thought it was chocolate so I already tried the scraping method. I think its dead.” He must have fallen awhile back and hit it where it has been slowly dying but this week it decided to change colors. Lindsey and I proceeded to have the epic debate: to pull or not to pull. She says pull, I say neigh. You may ask why and this is our reasoning: Would you rather have your 2 year old look like a pirate or a hillbilly? I say keep the tooth because pirates are cool in pre-school at Halloween but no one chooses to be a Hillbilly for Halloween except forgetful parents whose only solution to their procrastination of buying a good costume is a flannel shirt, ripped jeans, and a sharpie. You don’t want to have the kid who wears his costume in his mouth everyday, unless it’s cool like a rotten chopper. Not to mention if we did pull it, who knows what he would be sticking in there. You don’t want to get the phone call from pre-school, “Hi Mr. Allen, Drew was just found with another eraser in his tooth-hole. He was also sucking his thumb during school pictures but still smiling. He just slid his thumb right through that dead space and on into his mouth, smiling about his new trick.”

So yesterday morning at 5:30 am, I was awoken out of bed at what I heard Zachary to say “I threw up in my bed.” I rush out of my bed and run to his room to see him standing beside his bed in tears. I ask him if he is alright and he says “I didn’t throw up, I said my blankets fell off of my bed. Can you fix them?” Not the emergency I wanted to get up for at 5:30. Well he proceeds to stay up, followed by the other 2 hooligans who hear him playing with his door handle for an hour. So 6:30, everyone is awake and its party time. Well that day just dragged on and on and there was no end to the whininess and constant requests “I’m hungry, can I watch TV, where are my shoes, can I go outside, can I play at David’s house, but I’m hungry.” We had friends come over that night and brought their children who played with our 3 boys…hard. They were laughing and running and screaming and it was great. We were able to sit and talk with our friends why they entertained themselves. Well they went down later than usual and you would think that would mean they would sleep in the next day. Well that is what normal people do but we have vampire children that don’t require sleep and feed on joy of taking sleep from their parents. They were up at 6:15 this morning! All of them! Not all at one time but eventually they all wake each other up. Zachary is the first to wake up and he poops at 6 in the morning and then plays with the bathroom and his door handle for 15-20 minutes, this wakes Drew up who is instantly in a bad mood cause he is in his room and yells at the top of his lungs for someone in California to come let him out (its that loud), which then awakens Baby Nate who can’t talk but loves to scream and poop. Needless to say, we must get up. Well the next 5 hours are followed by more whining and requests and kids climbing on us and screaming and fighting and not listening and eating us out of house and home. And its still only 11:30. People who sleep in aren’t even awake yet. We call them single without children. We call them lucky. We want to call them to wake them up. Drew goes poop in the potty and then he calls for me not to wipe him but to get the poop off his finger. He already attempted to wipe himself without success. Well at least no success on toilet paper. So I wipe him getting poop on my own finger because the toilet paper rips and we spend the next 15 minutes scrubbing our hands. I didn’t see that on a Full House episode. It was just one more thing that went wrong today. So afterward Lindsey and I are laughing about the absurdity of today and this weekend and I tell her about Drew and I in the bathroom and how we formed the Poop Hand Gang. They call me Brown Finger and him Black Tooth.

It is nice to be able to laugh about these “phases” and recognize them for what they are: torture to live through but hilarious to retell and blog about. Because after all, these are the memories I would never trade in and little joys in life that should be seen as such I do look forward to sharing these stories with my adult children and their grand-children because I am not looking forward to 1 hour from now when those “parents-to-be” will be waking up from their nap and it starts over again. But it is only a phase, right?

Off to scrub my hands again,
The Joyful and Tired Dad