One-hundred Twenty-three Ways to Pee

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This past summer as parents we had a pretty significant breakthrough in our world of raising children. Just as we began attaching the velcro flaps of some size one diapers (and wondering how many times we would need to refinance our house to afford them), we were able to ditch the size fives. We somehow, with minimal resistance were able to get our two-year old potty trained before he hit two and a half. We felt great about it. We celebrated as a family this monumental moment. Sure…It took about 350 stickers entered into a “potty-book”, and there were days/weeks where we were sure that it was never going to happen; but all in all the time, energy and tricks we needed to use were a lot less substantial then anticipated.

With this new skill came a new phenomenon. Madden began to show such curiosity and creativity towards peeing that I was convinced he was training for some yet to be invented Olympic event that involved urinating. There had always been some boring, long lasting, classic maneuvers he used. Peeing in the tub had became a fan favorite. But all of a sudden, we were ready to explore the full range of possibilities that involved our stream.

First came the intrigue with location. You’re out running an errand or at a restaurant and right on cue you hear “Daddy, I got to pee.” Every public restroom absolutely had to be looked-over by the newly self-appointed health inspector. Hannafords, Wal-Mart, Porta-potties…We visited the bathroom of a diner in Rochester no less then eight times in one meal on the way back from the ocean. It’s hard to tell your newly potty-trained two-year old that seven times is enough; the last thing you want to have to do is strip him down from his pee-soaked clothes in the 5 x 5 stench filled cell of a bathroom, when you deny him number eight. He’d pee’d in the woods, pee’d in a hole on the beach, pee’d on the fence at the park, pee’d in a pond. But as annoying as this process had become, I had at least heard of such an interest.

What I hadn’t caught wind of is the variety of ways that a two-year old will attempt to sit or stand to go. We needed our pants off, then our pants at our ankles, then one ankle. We had to be sitting on his training potty, but then we had to be standing at his training potty. But then we wanted to be sitting again; this time on mommy and daddy’s potty, both facing out-then facing in…and then we even needed to be kneeling on the potty, which was just weird (but this one seems to be sticking, literally). We had to be held up to the potty, but then we wanted mommy and daddy to leave when we potty. We would need a stool to stand on to go potty, but then we would need to be sitting down when we flushed the potty. It was an extremely experimental phase, and I’m not convinced we are done. But I’m waiting for the day he asks to sit on the water tank of the toilet (I have my limit).

Like all boys, he prefers to pee outside. And to be honest, I hope that lasts. He has pretty bad aim.

We Promise, We Feed Our Son

Our boys are healthy eaters, in both senses of the phrase. Our two-year old has been raised on a well-rounded assortment of fresh foods. When he was first introduced to solids, his mother would put in unfathomable hours of puree sessions; concocting delicious, nutrition filled containers of mush that would be frozen for the week ahead. And he would eat them, a lot. His primary focus from about six to eighteen months was food consumption. He went through that phase where he had about five rolls on each arm and leg. But as he grew older and more mobile, he balanced out his healthy feedings with a healthier amount of active play time. He still to this day clears every plate of every meal, but there have been more and more instances of him skipping “snack” times, which was never his normal M.O. His baby brother appears to be following closely in his footsteps. So trust me, these boys are not starving.

Which has their mother and I even more baffled about our latest parenting conundrum. The case of the two-year old food-klepto.

Over the past two-weeks there have been a spike in food related thefts in the presence of our toddler. They’ve also become increasingly embarrassing for the parents of the hardened criminal. It all started a couple weeks back when a PB & J sandwich went missing from the dining room table of a beach house we rented as part of a family reunion for my wife’s extended family. Now, we were on vacation, and the amount and quality of our food consumption had deteriorated due to our circumstances. Snacks on the beach and ice creams were aplenty, and we chalked up his first offense to the fact that food was so readily available to him. Plus, it was in the presence of family. So we all got a good chuckle, and didn’t really think much of it.

However, later in the trip while attempting to put on a circus act locate a spot on the beach (another story for another day), the famished tot stumbled across a helpless one and a half year old snacking on some graham crackers. He accosted the boy half his size and attempted to get away with a small container filled with Nabisco Honey Maid gold. Luckily, the perpetrator’s mother was able to interject before the bandit was able to make-off with the goods, and she had him return them to the rightful owner and offer his deepest apologies. No harm was done, so no foul.

Fast forward to this past Saturday. While leaving a strenuous workout at toddler tumbling time, the suspect had worked up such an appetite that he attempted to use deceit and disguise to burglarize yet another child’s snack. He falsely pretended to be interested in saying “hi” to a baby sitting in a stroller, munching on apple spears. As the victim outstretched his innocent little apple-filled hand in curiosity, the accused quickly leaned in and put said apple spear directly into his mouth. Luckily, I was able to intervene rapidly enough, that no apple or child’s hand was consumed in the incident. The mother of the baby gave a nervous, polite giggle, and we apologized and bolted for the door.

But it all came to a head last night, as the brazen criminal pulled off his greatest heist yet. Let’s set the scene. The crime was committed at Hannaford Supermarket and I’m fairly sure there is still crime scene tape set up surrounding check-out line six. As our family of four ventured out on our first grocery shopping trip from hell experience, chaos ensued when it was time to pay. Innocently enough, blueberries began to somehow spew from the bottom of the cart as dad began to unload our groceries. Mom, with newborn strapped to her front, headed back to produce for a replacement. Madden (who was sitting down in a “car” cart) happened to be at ground level and realized he had the perfect opportunity to snatch something he never ever ever gets. One guard (mom) had left their post, and the other (dad) was distracted in attempting to get the rest of the groceries on the conveyor, while trying not to squish the countless blueberries at his feet.

Enter bagging clerk:

“Wow, he’s really digging into that…wrapper and all!” She says to me.

I am baffled as to what she is referring to, but I see her glancing in the direction of the getaway “car” cart. I step forward and glance down to get a better look and I about lose my mind.

There in the driver seat, is the same thief that had committed several larcenies over the course of two-weeks. He has a package of Rolo candies clenched in his fist, that he has somehow managed to mow through the tinfoil and consume about three of the candies. Mom was just returning with our new blueberries and we went into full police mode. I wrestled away the candies as mom provided backup. The junky went into a full chocolate withdrawal meltdown. All he had to say for himself is “I want my candy”. I’m sorry, did you say your candy? Not on your life. We paid for the groceries (including the half eaten package of Rolos), had the cashier throw away the damaged goods, and I threw the boy into custody over my shoulder and dragged him kicking and screaming out of Hannaford’s. We threw him into the back of the cruiser and headed for the station, flustered, embarrassed and contemplating what punishment would fit the crime.

Don’t worry, he will receive three healthy meals a day while incarcerated.

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Poker for Dummies

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Any poker players in the crowd? No? Oh…my bad, that was a hobby we as parents may have had time for pre-kids. As a devoted father and connoisseur of whiskey, I’ve come to accept and understand that many of the enjoyable hobbies I once partook in on numerous occasions are now reserved for that scarce “night out”. This major life adjustment didn’t come easy and as most fathers eventually will do, I spent the summer of 2012 mourning the loss of my weekly golf outings. Going from a set of Taylor-Made irons to blue and red Fisher-Price clubs does not do much for the golf game. My wife and I had set intentions of bi-weekly date nights that we vowed we’d maintain following the birth of our first son; but we found ourselves settling for Thai take-out last night as we celebrated our smooth sailing right through the “seven-year slump”. All of the parents I know wouldn’t have it any other way; and Marti and I are definitely no exception and share the feeling. But I couldn’t help myself a couple of Saturdays ago as I felt this pang of longing for an early morning fishing trip with my brother-in-laws in place of chasing Madden through his 8:45 tumbling class for toddlers. From there I had to make sure he avoided a horseshoe to the head as I tried to get in a quick game with my dad. And within these stories is the truth of the matter…my sons are my ultimate hobby now; my good times are keeping them happy, healthy and safe. End of post…….well not exactly.

Since I’ve been spending nearly 24 hours a day with the most handsome little Tasmanian devil you can imagine; we did decide to ship the two-year old off to his grandmother’s the other night. The wife and I felt we could handle bringing Quinn to a family poker night. It was one of those magical rare events, where Quinn dozed contentedly at the appropriate times, and we adults played, and actually enjoyed the company of other living, breathing adults. We weren’t surrounded by Winnie the Pooh playmats or baskets of unfolded laundry. I recall one hand from late in the night where I made an exceptional bluff. I pushed all of my chips in with a severely weak hand and stared down a grown-man to feign strength. He had no choice but to believe I held the winner and he threw his cards into the muck. I “took down” a good pot of chips and it gave me a rush that I’d missed. I bring this entry back to the poker reference from the start and the idea of a “bluff” (an event where you are trying to intimidate with a false sense of confidence), because tonight I came to a horrifying, eye-opening realization. As well as I executed that hand the other night, I simply cannot bluff my two-year old.

Don’t try it…take my word for it. He/she will call it. And you need to be prepared that if you do try it, you will have to follow through with what you said. Because if you don’t….well that is just bad parenting. But as this became apparent to me tonight, a flood of several other failed bluffs that my son just put the brakes on filled my mind. When it happens it kind of makes you just sit there with a deer in the headlights look on your face.

uhhhhhhhhhh, hmmmmmmm…” I may say in an attempt to recompose myself.

Tonight, my perfect little angel of a son, morphed into a lieutenant of Lucifer. He picked up a box of diaper wipes belonging to his cousin and right there in front of us all, hucked it from one end of the living room into the kitchen. As uncle “Zee-zee” and “aunto Mandi” tried to hold back the giggles, I had to put on my tough-guy daddy face and I pulled out what I felt was the ultimate no-nonsense threat.

“um, Madden, what was that? Go pick that up, give it back and say sorry, or you’ll have to go to bed right now and you won’t be able to stay up and visit”

“I want to go to bed right now!”, Madden fires back so rapidly that it is as though he had predicted that this exact threat was coming.

(uhhhhhhhhh, hmmmmmmmm…is running through my head at this moment)

And in this very moment, I realize I’ve been outplayed. He bolts around the ottoman with a huge $#*!-eating grin on his face. He glances in my direction in an almost mocking fashion to demonstrate that he is holding an ace high flush. He’s waiting to see if I’m going to re-raise his bet or meekly fold my hand and walk away with my tail between my legs. I quickly scoop him up, we hand back the wipes, and I prompt his goodnights to our visitors. But I had to ask myself at the time, was I following through on a consequence? or was I giving him his way? The little bastard struck doubt right into my very serious ultimatum. That is the nature of parenting, we often don’t have an “answer”, or know for sure if we are making the correct call. We can only go with our gut, and use what we see in our child to guide us through the hands we are dealt.