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 entrĂ©e. 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.


Madden in the Morning

I’m what I’d call a “free” morning person. I love it when I have no place to be. I leisurely get my coffee and relax as the sun pours into our living room. Or at least I used to. I’m also the stereotypical father/teacher who on a work day doesn’t get going until I’ve got a 32 oz. cookie dough ice coffee in me from Aroma Joes. Going waaaaaaaay back to 1998, I was a junior in high school. I drove my sister and myself to school everyday. I also for a short stint picked up a friend of hers to catch a ride with us. Fifteen years later, my wife (the girl who caught a ride with us), still reminds me of how pissy I was on those drives. Apparently, I hardly said three words to her in the forty or so 7:00 AM trips we made together. I was a charmer (she must have fell for my strong, silent type personality). Anyways, the point of this rambling, confusing intro on mornings is……..well I don’t know how I completely feel about them. But really, anyways….

Madden…Ohhhhh Madden. I never realized that a two year old could “not be a morning person”….Until I met Madden in the morning. And since the start of summer, one of my daddy duties has entailed being in charge of dragging a tasmanian devil from the room next door.

It starts a little something like this…Somewhere between 5:15 and 6:30 AM:


*Open door to room*

“Hey buddy! Good morning, how did you sleep last night? Did you have any good dreams?”


(Well good *&$%!#@ morning to you as well)

Don’t worry, that last part was just my inner voice. But literally, the boy has started each and every day with a diaper change since his day of birth. Yet every morning he is just as shocked as the day before when I disclose to him that I’m going to be the evil dad who will torture him with a fresh, soft, dry diaper applied to his rear end.

From there I attempt to entice him to come cuddle with his mommy and I for about 20 minutes so I can shake the cob webs that have been forming from my 6 hours of broken sleep and 3:00AM sit-downs with the 2-week old. Hmmmmm, crawling into mommy and daddy’s bed, snuggles and hugs, early morning I love you’s!!!!! Sounds like a treat, right? WRONG! He wants no part of it. As a kid, I spent the first portion of my life wandering down the halls in the middle of the night to my parents bed, just so I could wake up and be with my two favorite people. But the mere suggestion of it is intolerable to Madden. He’s been sleeping for 10 hours, he’s ready to go. Dad. You better be ready to go to. So I stumble down the stairs with 36 pounds of two year old in my arms and a heaping pile of blankets wedged in between, and I plop him down on the couch.

*Ahhhhhh, Here we go, a chance to relax with my coffee. He’ll have his sippy of milk and a couple books. I’ll throw on the fear mongering morning television program news, life is good…..

But wait, the two mistakes we bought a couple years prior to kids dogs are trotting up behind us. (I immediately vow to not overuse the cross-out text feature) They’ll need to go out immediately or they’ll pee in the house.*


“I will bub, I just gotta get Norm and Gert out to go potty”


I throw the sippy of milk in his lap and book it for the door. A few minutes later I come back to him crying. I cautiously take my spot to the right of his throne (damn it crossing things out is fun). I make the conscience decision to ignore this, because I’m all about making him realize the world doesn’t revolve around him. I move right into our first book mid sob. By this point, the cavalry (mom) has overheard the carnage taking place and is coming down the stairs to provide ground support.

Mommy no come downstairs

“uhhhhhh, no Madden , mommy IS coming downstairs”


Awwwwww Madden, you make us all feel so welcome in the morning. And so, we give our son the time he needs to snap out of it; and the pep talk it takes for ourselves to tolerate his demands, cries and tantrums until he’s out of his grouchy fog. My wife and I get our day started by shooting some smirks and knowing glances at each other as we try not to push his buttons too much. I try to not let my blood boil as I endure the worser parts of what a two-year old is capable of, and before we know it, we’re on our way. We share laughs and fun times, we give our kisses and hugs, we make special memories. Luckily, the boy is a superstar the other 23 hours of the day. I love him, cranky mornings and all.