The Sword’s Other Edge

Frustrated Dad

Frustrated Dad

I do not feel like I handled a situation very well today. Mabel and I have been going to a local community center for some unstructured playtime for a couple months. There are anywhere between a dozen and zero other kids there. It’s basically a gymnasium with little kid cars and balls and other such fun toys. Mabel runs around for an hour and a half with one toy or another and I leave with an exhausted, happy toddler who naps for several hours. It’s awesome.

On occasion, Ms. Nancy from the local library will come for story time. That happened to be today. Mabel loves Ms. Nancy’s story time at the library. However, today was the first time she was introduced to story time in the gym. While all the rest of the kids sat nicely and watched Ms. Nancy, Mabel refused to get out of her little car and wouldn’t come anywhere near the group.

Honestly, Ms. Nancy has said before and will say again, that is isn’t disruptive to her at all when toddlers are “toddling.” It’s what they do. And I don’t think the other parents were disrupted either. Mabel was on the other side of the gym. And to be honest, even I wasn’t even really bothered by it. But I am starting to wonder if this is because a lack of discipline. So I picked today to make a stand. I told her that if she didn’t sit down with the rest of the kids, at least for a sliver of a second, that we were leaving. Well, this didn’t work. Surprise. She was the only child, out of about a dozen, that would not sit down even for a little bit. Is this my fault? Should I be disciplining her more? Should we have more structure in our home routine? Or is this just Mabel? I know it’s not all two-year-olds because there were several kids there her age who listen to their parents.

I got our coats and bag, uncertain about if I was really going to leave or not, and Mabel surprisingly made the decision for me by bolting out the door and running to the car. So we left in the middle of story time. I’m sure the rest of the kids played in the more typical unstructured atmosphere about 5-10 minutes after we left, but we were already gone. I didn’t give Mabel the usual Elmo crackers in the car because I wanted her to know that Daddy was upset at her. My thinking is that I need her to feel empathy when she upsets Daddy and that empathy is the whole key to discipline. Or something like that.

Anyway, I still feel terrible about how I handled the situation, sneaking out without saying goodbye, which is very atypical of me, even though Mabel ran out of her own volition. I’ve been worried all morning that I gave the wrong impression of us to the other parents there. Should I have just let her go, potentially being labeled as the undisciplined child or should I have made a scene by making her leave? Am I overparenting? When should I really start to discipline her for things like this? It’s not like she was being malicious to anyone. She is one of the more popular kids at story time likely because she’s so much fun. I suppose this is the other side of being fun.

As is typical, as soon as I was feeling confident with this parenting gig, another hurdle leaps into my path. And this is one I don’t think is going away anytime soon. For those still reading, what the heck should I be doing? Should I let her run amok so long as it doesn’t interfere with story time? Or should I be giving her ultimatums and handing out punishments, like not giving her the Elmo crackers or not going to the playground? Will she even understand that yet? Can somebody with an older, ornery child please tell me what to do?

Sick Daze

Out Sick :(

Out Sick 🙁

My wife took off work yesterday, which doubled my work load. She never takes sick days because she works for a fiscally responsible company who doesn’t give them out like they’re Krispy Kreme donuts. In other words, not the government. It sucks for her, and by extension, us, but I get it. All this is to say my wife was very sick.

She got the illness from Mabel who got it from the playground. Or the library. Or the handlebar on the shopping cart at Giant. Or anywhere in the greater DC-area. This has happened before and thankfully, I’m usually exempt from the illness. Which is great, because I don’t get sick days. My sick day would involve asking my wife to give up one of those aforementioned precious days off to stay home with a sick child so that I could dope myself up with medicine and intermittently sleep and watch recorded playoff hockey upstairs, as opposed to doing that downstairs with my daughter, which is a normal day. It’s a tough sell is what I’m saying.

Unfortunately, I was not exempt from whatever virus or bacteria invaded our house this time. Even the cats are sick. Mabel seems to have gotten the best end of the deal. Or maybe she just doesn’t know enough to be miserable when she’s sick. Maybe it’s a learned behavior to shake your fist at the world and blame the Metro and facial hair and Monsanto for your incompetent white blood cells. For whatever reason, Jenn and I wanted nothing more but to stay in and chicken soup the day away while our precious little Typhoid Mary wanted to do toddler-related things. Like go down a slide or play bloop with pine cones off the bridge.

While home, I did my duty as a husband of a woman who allowed me to quit my job to raise our daughter, and catered to her as much as I could. What this consisted of was asking her over and over if she needed anything. Most of the time, she did not. She preferred to be left alone. I felt helpless. It was, in fact, much like Mabel’s birth.

Throughout the day, I just kept getting sicker, despite drinking orange juice. And I realized something. I have no idea how to get myself better when I’m sick. Actually, I knew that. But what I now considered was that I had somebody else counting on me to get her unsick. Two people, actually, but one who really hasn’t had a chance to learn any of this stuff yet, and so, is relying on me for my knowledge and insight to get her better. And orange juice and chicken soup will only get you so far.

How have I survived this long? I have lasted 39 years somehow without the ability to figure out how to get unsick. And it only recently occurred to me that these are things I’ll need to teach Mabel. Things I thought were just naturally ingrained in my parents as a kid, because it came to them so naturally. Like nursing a sick child to health, doing taxes and how to look at a girl in the mall (you have to stare down the guy first until he looks away). But apparently, they had to learn them somewhere too. They don’t just come with the baby.

So I guess what I’m saying is I need somebody to tell me how to fix myself before Mabel is old enough to realize I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve tried Sudafed and that took the crappy feeling from my nose, multiplied it by five and spread it throughout my body. Nyquil strangely kept me awake the couple times I’ve tried it. Or maybe the illness kept me awake and the Nyquil just didn’t work. Alka Seltzer has been the most consistent, but it only really clears the nose for a few hours. Which is better than nothing.

So, lovely people of the internet, what kind of medicine or techniques work to nurse both yourself and your toddler back to health? Note: I have humidifiers in all bedrooms and sleep on 3-5 pillows. Also, I mentioned the chicken soup and orange juice. And my wife does my taxes, so we’re good there.

Daddy Issues: I Need Help!

So I’m writing a book. A collection of essays on being an at-home dad, some of which have been featured here and the Huffington Post and the Good Men Project and some other sites and print publications. But now I need your help. And I need it fast because this thing goes to print Monday. Sorry for the short notice, but inDesign and the Oxford comma has fried my brain.

Anyway, I need your advice on two things: the section headings the cover design. If I choose to use your section headings, I will give you a FREE copy of the book, possibly signed by Mabel, but I can’t promise anything in that regard. She may just throw some pineapples in it. The two sections are during pregnancy and after pregnancy. But those are boring titles. I need something short and preferably witty – possibly a play on words as I’m a sucker for them. Sentiment is also welcome in place of humor (or with humor). Really, everything is still on the table. Here are some possibilities so far:

Anxiously Awaiting – Anxiously Awaking
Guess What? – Now What?
The Longest 40 Weeks – Now and Forever
2 Minutes and 40 Weeks – From Now On
T Minus 9 Months – Blast Off!

John Sears, my old college roomie, drew up this awesome little guy and I want to make sure I do him justice with the cover design. My three favorite choices are below, one very minimalist, one with my daughter drawing on it, and one that combines the other idea I had for a design with the fun little guy. What do you all think?

Daddy Issues Cover Design Plain

Daddy Issues Cover Design Plain

Daddy Issues Cover Design  with Crayon

Daddy Issues Cover Design with Crayon


Daddy Issues Cover Design  with Running Text

Daddy Issues Cover Design with Running Text

So there they are. I’ve heard mixed reviews on the first two and just made the third one about two hours ago. Your input, as potential consumers and friends and random internet passers-by is very valuable. But I’m not paying for it. Unless you give me those damn section headings. Thanks for playing everybody. I promise once this thing is turned in next week, I’ll start telling you all about Mabel again. Which is really why you’re here.