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.

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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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The Second Time Around

As you’ve probably figured out, I feel that parenting a two-year old is an all-encompassing, all-consuming endeavor. Those of you who are currently checked into the game, or have raised one and lived to share the tales, would probably agree. I find that a solid 95% of my day’s thought goes into something Madden related. My wife (feeling such sorrow for our newborn) has playfully made digs following the reading of each of my posts. They usually sound a little something like this: “Poor Quinn.”, “You know you do have another son!”, “Are you ever going to write a post about Quinn?” And after reviewing my recent posts, I concur. He almost sounds like the forgotten son. But I promise that my newborn is not growing up in a single-parent home. And this dad definitely doesn’t neglect the newest addition. It’s just Madden is a steady flow of ammunition. Every move he makes and every line he shouts feels like it is hand-crafted to be the framework for my next post. But I feel like I do owe Quinn an homage.

Maybe it’s because the first five weeks spent with Quinn have been such a smooth transition, that it feels as though I never really had only one son. He came into the house and immediately he had a niche. Instantaneously we all were bonded. Madden sang to him the most odd medley of mixed up verses from nursery rhymes and songs that you’ve ever heard. Norman used him as the next subject of his everlasting attempt to reach a human-being’s brain through it’s nostrils with his tongue. Gertrude danced around the couch with a fear in her eyes that would make you think an unidentified flying object had just landed in our living room. And Marti reinserted herself into the role of the best mom-to-a-newborn this side of the Mississippi (she is unbelievably skilled at caring for and loving her baby boys).

Maybe it is that this is my second time, or maybe I just didn’t have time to dwell on it like I did the first; but just as Quinn was reminding me of how inadequate trying to care for a newborn made me feel, I was blessed to have the fatherly moment where it clicked. I felt the bond that I knew would eventually come, but had seemed to be difficult to attain when I experienced the life-altering first few months of raising Madden.

Although it has only been just over a month, life without Quinn seems to be hard to recollect. But at the same time it has brought back some vivid memories of going through the same experiences with Madden. This go at it has actually been a stark contrast to how that month went the first time. Mom and dad haven’t been so cuckoo, and Quinn should be thankful for that.

I’m fairly certain that Marti and I owned a book titled something like, “How to Keep your Baby Alive”, and referenced it hourly the first time around. It should have been titled “How to Make Parents Feel Extra-Stressed and Inferior”. I had created a spreadsheet to document every poop, every pee, every breastfeeding, every bottle-feeding, every sneeze, every detail of every eye-gunk that formed and every eerily inconsistent breathing pattern that expelled from his body. I’d spend many a sleepless night with my hand on Madden’s chest, to be sure that he was still breathing. It was nightmarish. It made parenting my newborn a chore (more than it already sometimes can feel like) and as hard as we were trying I was certain something would go wrong and we’d fail.

This time around, it feels natural and right. When Quinn had goop in his eye, we wiped it out with a warm washcloth (genius!). Last time we had ourselves convinced Madden would end up blind. When Quinn’s appendages were a purple hue in the days after coming home from the hospital, we knew it was perfectly normal and didn’t require a call to the doc. But the same thing happened two years ago and we were certain that Madden was going to go through life a paraplegic. We were constantly afraid that if we weren’t right at Madden’s side on the changing station he’d end up cliff-diving off a three-foot tall bureau. Number two gets to leisurely lay in the boppy on the couch, while mom and dad try to get done one more thing on the laundry list of tasks we have to do. And I know solid food hasn’t been introduced yet, but I’m sure when it does we will not be checking Quinn’s airway after he eats each blueberry.

There is no denying that raising a child is absolutely a different experience the second go around. We’re both more relaxed, the whole family is already in a groove and our boys seem happily content and satisfied. Quinn has had the best start that any baby could ask for; and we all are in for experiences that none of us will ever forget. Here’s to Quinn!

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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