Beers, Bibs and Diapers: Declarations of Necessity

Needs: of necessity

Wants: to have a strong desire for

This fundamental difference is covered during a unit of learning that I do with my students in second grade. As we start to discuss the topic, most of the boys think that they “need” the newest Call of Duty game on the market (yes…you read that right, I did say second grade). And most of the girls feel that they “need” to only have one friend at a time (I have yet to figure this out). So at least I know that this isn’t something that children just instinctually catch on to, and Madden missed the boat. However, hearing him repeatedly state that he “needs his orange shirt” or “needs a cookie” has made me feel I need to expedite his understanding of this concept. I am strongly considering having the little guy sit in on a few of these lessons come the fall. But then again, I don’t need him learning any other “life lessons” from the little seven-year olds. Here are some of the declarations of necessity that Madden has made recently.

“I need a bib!”

Listen, buddy. I see the spaghetti spilling from your cheeks. I know you’re wearing a crisp, white polo t-shirt that mom just bought yesterday. But something tells me you aren’t really too worried about it. You’ve got two fistfuls of noodles oozing from between your fingers, so your desire for cleanliness cannot be that overwhelming. Here’s what I need. I need you to lose the bib…get better at operating that fork…and make sure you hit your mouth.

“I need my sunglasses!”

Listen, buddy. I’m the first to tell you that you look like a stud in your sunglasses and I know we’re about to hit up a hopping toddler book club today at the library. You’re practicing excellent sun-safety here and I don’t want to squelch that, but we unfortunately left your sunglasses back at the house. So I am going to need you to look out the opposite window for the five-minute car ride and suck it up.

“I need a shower!”

Listen, buddy. You took a bath last night. All you’ve done between then and now is read a handful of books and sleep in a crib. You have bed head, but what toddler doesn’t each morning when they walk out of the house. You’re skin is pristine and you’ve got the next 11 hours to cover it in dirt, sweat and tears. We’ve already penciled you in for your 6:30 tub appointment this evening. Dad is going to need this 8 minutes of alone time to muster up the strength and energy to withstand the firestorm you’ll throw his way today.

“I need a fork!”

Listen, buddy. Look at your plate. There is fork right there skewering a piece of kielbasa. You say you need another one for your risotto? I didn’t know we were sitting down to a four course meal with a fork for each entrée. Not to mention, you’ll abandon all utensils in about five minutes anyways. What mom and dad need to do is give some of these appliances a rest. The next round of dirty dishes is sitting in the sink and the clean ones in the dishwasher have been ready to come out for the last 24 hours; and don’t even get me started on the washer and dryer.

“I need a new diaper!”

Oh…really…bub. You’re diaper is actually dry, you’ve been ready to wear underwear for a month now, but you seem to be on a bi-weekly schedule of being potty trained and this is an off week for you. You didn’t pee, you didn’t poop, and each of these diapers are apparently filled with ultra-absorbent gold flakes at the price they run at. So what I need is for you to get in those big boy undies and I need you to drop your next deuce into that strange-looking toilet that is shaped like a frog over there.

The perception of what a two-year old needs is comical. The perception of what a father needs might be even funnier. What we need to have and what we want to have seem to always get muddled, even as we gain an understanding of the reality of our situation. I always try to rephrase my son’s request using the word want if it is applicable. So in that spirit; I need a beer.

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