One of Those Days

Today was one of THOSE days.

Today was one of those days!

Today…was one of those…days…

Every day is one of those days. As parents, we experience, the good, the bad, and the spit-up. We reach the proverbial top, only to get kicked in the teeth by a little foot. We look at the clock wondering if it’s bedtime, only to see that there are still three hours left of what seems to be our own episode of The Twilight Zone. We step into a revolving door, and when we decide to make an exit we have no idea what will be waiting for us on the other side.

Personally, one of the things I’ve had the hardest time adjusting to over my first couple of years is the emotional swings of parenthood. Some people may be able to embrace the unknown of the next curve ball their child will throw aimed right at their heads. However, I’m one of those who have always thrived on predictability and consistency. I had my life planned out before I even started high school. Now you want me to keep up with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde over here. And while all along the way I’ve had to deviate from my prescribed life at times, nothing has thrown “planning” out the window like parenting.

Sure, you can plan an enjoyable little family trip down to the local ice cream shop . But you can’t predict that on the way back to your car that your two year old will have explosive diarrhea to the point where it is bubbling out of his diaper like a damn geyser. There was absolutely no part of you that woke up that morning thinking that you would be making a half-a-mile walk of shame through the center of town drenched in his feces. (TMI?)

You can plan to take him with you when you go to register every register-able item you own, but you can’t predict that he’ll develop an aversion to wearing shoes the minute he walks through the door of town hall. Or that he’ll also develop an insatiable desire to hold each of the pink porcelain pigs on the shelf behind the town clerk.

You can plan to let him continue to bond with his newborn baby brother on a rainy, dreary day. But you can’t see it coming when he wakes up looking like he’s been run over by a train; with a 102 degree fever, and can’t even get himself off the couch. You can’t predict that the doctor will insist that you keep them separated for the rest of the week. And you definitely are shocked when he wakes up the very next morning after that healthy as an ox and ready to roll.

But you also can’t have the foresight to see when you will have one of those days; a perfect day that gives you the notion that you are doing at least something right as a parent.

One of those days when you spend the day observing your son develop a love of a place that brings back such nostalgic memories of your own childhood.

One of those days when you pop your head out of the water to see the biggest toothy grin staring back at you.

One of those days when you dig “mud pits” and build sand castles.

One of those days when your son insists that you take him to an island (the other shoreline) and as you bring him deeper into the water and closer to his destination, he starts to belly laugh.

One of those days when you look back at the shoreline and see your beautiful wife holding your content three-week old to her chest in the shade.

One of those days when you picnic on the beach in the sun and your two year old says “thank you daddy” unprompted as you hand him each piece of his lunch.

One of those days, when as parents you decide to skip the usual nap time in favor of a snooze in the car. And it actually works.

One of those days that you end by laying with your son wrapped in your arms on his floor; telling the stories of all the fun that you were able to squeeze into a truly one of a kind day.

It was one of those days.

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The Art of Nap-time

Every parent dreads that day when nap diminishes to the point where it is gone forever. I listen to the parents of three year old’s tell of “quiet time” in the child’s bedroom, or that have quit cold turkey and have absolutely no nap at all. It strikes fear into the deepest core of my being. I can’t give up that lone moment of peace, freedom, solitude to just get something done for myself. And I find myself currently in a unique situation. At two-years, four-months old I am watching Madden’s need for a nap slowly wane. I know soon enough he’ll be that three year old refusing to take a siesta. Fortunately, he is such a routine oriented little dude that he continues to go with the flow everyday around 1:00. We will see when he gets wise to us and realizes we’ve preyed on his rigid, by the book personality. On the other end of the spectrum, infant/alien Quinn just sleeps here, there, anywhere all day long. He’ll slowly transition into that blissful stage consisting of 2-3 naps a day, each one lasting about two hours. Unfortunately, for us this will most likely occur just as Madden has pushed us over the threshold of no nap hell. But here is where preserving that beautiful period of time that we call “the nap” turns into art.

I call it art, because like art, it is unique in many ways. This one child-free point in your day is your muse and you need to “create” an environment in which your child can stay asleep for AS. LONG. AS. POSSIBLE. Each household presents it’s own exclusive challenges that will be getting in the way of reaching this goal. Some questions that may help one determine their own challenges are: How many levels are in your home? Do you have pets? Does your child have siblings? Do you have any particularly loud chores to get done? Do you have an incredibly loud/high-pitched/annoying voice? Do you live within a mile of a nuclear power plant or airport runway? etc., etc., etc. Consider this your canvas. You have this slate in front of you and it is up to you to realize the full potential of it.

Just as an artist has inks, paints, chalks and oils, you then have your mediums as a parent. These are the maneuvers and lengths that you will go, to be sure that this house remains as silent as you can get it. I know that I have crafted a pretty involved and detailed plan to fend off sound from entering my house between 1:00-3:00 each day. I vow here and now to disown any animal, friend or family member that disturbs the silence.

I will say that most of my craft revolves around those mistakes dogs I keep referencing. At approximately 12:45 each day, every shade of the first floor is drawn. This is to prevent any possible visual contact Norman and Gert will have with squirrels. This is a crucial aspect, as their incessant shrill barking is sure to wake up not just Madden, but the children that live in the houses behind us as well.

I then walk Madden through our normal nap/bedtime routine. By now, he is out of his morning terror-mode and we are sailing on calm seas of love and happiness. Putting him down for the nap is never the problem. My second artistic “brushstroke” is the art of shutting the door. For some reason, I’ve always felt like the click of the door latching is going to send him into some panicked fight to escape his crib. I twist the door knob completely, slowly inch the door to a resting position against the jam, and then release the knob at a three degree turn per second until it is latched. All of this takes place with a near zero decibel level of sound. I’ve already left the dad-proof gate at the top of the stairs ajar, so I will not need to mess with that. I then float on a pillow of air down the stairs so quietly that Madden probably still thinks I’m right outside of his door each day.

I like to refer to my last technique as the “call-ahead”. If you plan to come to my house midday, you better expect to hear from me prior to your arrival. I use this call to inform you of something that is of the utmost importance. My son is sleeping. You best not wake him up with your visit. This is especially important in my circumstances, because I will gauge how close you are to my house. If you are within two miles, I most likely will take the dogs out and leave them there until you have pulled into my driveway. If you cause a disturbance in his slumber, you will be hanging out with a cranky two-year old and two incredibly annoying rat terriers while I drink a beer out in the Adirondack chair out front. You’ve been warned.

And like every artist, you have those pieces/days that you feel like you’ve produced a worthless piece of junk. There are those days when the boy just won’t nap.

And you might be saying, but if he is sleeping, just think of all the hours you’ll miss out on getting to enjoy your beautiful baby boy. I get it, I want to cherish every moment I have with him. I really do. But if you are saying this, then you clearly have not ever experienced Madden from 4:00 until bed; on those days he didn’t nap.

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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:

“DADDY, MOMMA, DADDY, DADDY, MOMMA, DAAAAAAADDY”

*Open door to room*

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

NO DIAPER CHANGE!

(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.*

DADDY, SIT!

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

SIT!!!

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”

“MOMMY NO COME 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.