The intellectual equivalent of a ham sandwich.

Posts tagged ‘dad’

Month 10, or Stand Up And Make Your Voice Heard!

The little monster, aka the mook, aka the kook mook, aka the mook riot, aka my son, and my wife are currently … AWAY. WHAT!? My wife and the kiddo are going to have their first night without dad there too and woe is dad, woe is mom, likely unaware is the kiddo. I’ll be joining them shortly to visit family … but for now it’s an unreal amount of free time in the evening.

Let’s get to it, shall we?

First, we’ll go with the betters and then we’ll get into the firsts. Then a grab bag/other category.

BETTERS!

It’s strange how I can look back on a month and think, ‘hmm, did much happen? He just seems like he was last month … but better at everything.’ He’s a quicker crawler, a better sitter, quicker and more stable when pulling himself into a standing position (he has to have help by holding onto an object to get himself up). He is just ever so slightly showing an interest in cruising.

Crawling, it turns out, is the best possible way to find every little crumb or bit of leaf or clump of dog hair or you name it small item in the house. Our vacuum can’t be powerful enough, or run enough. The kid is a seek and destroy missile for tiny bits of debris. And, like a vacuum capable of choking, those items will be picked up and an attempt will be made to suck them down. Crawl, crawl, pause, pick up gross item, slowly lift toward mouth … mom or dad jump in (hopefully the majority of the time), repeat.

A simultaneously fun and not fun new habit is his sense of exploration. At first the monster discovered crawling and would go from toy A to toy B, or make a futile effort to chase down the dog. (It’s futile not because the dog runs away, but because he usually gets distracted along his path to the dog.) Now the kitchen is worth checking out, the front entry way, and oh, oh a NEW favorite toy – DOOR STOPPERS! What fun those little spring loaded, hittable things they are. And what fun it is to try and rip them off the wall, too.

In the category of more movement the standing efforts have really kicked up as well. The kiddo has enjoyed crawling over obstacles for a while, for example a boppy sitting out must be crawled OVER, not around. And parents fall into this obstacle category too. If you are laying down, he’ll crawl over you or on you and then lovingly attack your face. I say lovingly, but it’s not. He will pinch your nose, try to pull off your lips, he is an aggressive explorer. Like a sculptor working with live people, he’ll just keep trying til your face is the shape he’s looking for. If you are sitting upright, then you are his standing assistant. Little pinch-y hands grab your shirt and upsy-daisy go the formerly very wobbly knees (now mildly wobbly). (And can we call them knees, really? He seems to be made of flexible, stretchy, heavenly soft-skinned goo … he is so bendy it boggles the mind. He’ll crawl halfway up me, fall back down and I swear his legs are in some pretzel formation underneath him but he just goes right back to work.) He has a few toys that are great for standing practice, and one day he hinted at a future step because he cruised from one toy to another next to it. Trouble to come. Unfortunately with his standing efforts he has also increased his likelihood of wipeouts, and he rocked a wicked cheek bruise for a while after a tough fall forward INTO a wooden toy. Ouch.

The tiny tyrant has also expanded his food repertoire and has decreased (mildly, so, so mildly) his reliance on his parent’s help. My wife was surprised one day to find the kiddo FEEDING HIMSELF at daycare. What!? We didn’t know he could do that! They had him set up with his bottle of milk, just drinking and chilling. Huh. At home he is now able to feed himself from those squeeze food pouches which is adorable. It’s fun to see his tiny little hand holding that pouch, and the tiny bit leaving each time he sucks on it. AND, big exciting news, he now eats some ‘people foods’ as I call them. As in, a little deli turkey is now possibly his favorite snack. It is adorable and terrifying to watch due to fear of choking.

And now for the sleep front. This month we made the decision to work toward no more night time feedings because he really didn’t need them. Having come back from a trip, and the little fella having a cold, we had made backwards progress with him eating 2-3 times a night. We decided to take one away on Friday, and the next Friday we’d take one more away, etc. We also came up with plans (there is so much planning) around how the night would work.

‘Ok, if he wakes up at 12, you feed him … if he wakes up again before 3, I’ll go in, if he wakes up AT 3 you feed him, if he wakes up after like … 430, I’ll handle him.’

By having me, non-milk dad (that’s what the cool kids call me … nah that’s gross), go in he would know ‘THERE’S NO FOODS IN THAT THERE BREAST! (just tiny pectoral muscles.)’ Harsh comment, son.

Anyway, over the course of 2 weeks we had gotten to ZERO night feedings and the night was going much more predictably! He would wake up only once usually, and friendos, THAT AIN’T BAD. But then, a week into the 0 night feedings, Father’s Day weekend actually, BOOM he’s waking up frequently. My wife and I decided to split the load. Monday my wife took him to the doc and GUESS WHAT! DOUBLE EAR INFECTION! Our son started daycare in April, from April to mid June he managed to get 5 ear infections. That’s rough. The doc advised we see an ENT doc to get tubes put in his ears.

(This is where you might picture the students getting off the magic school bus, grabbing a water tube, and sliding down a SWEET EAR WAX WATER SLIDE! WHEEEEE!)

The great news is that, dipping a little into post 10-month territory, the sleep is now back in great shape with the ear infections having been drugged out of the system. And our little tiny darling will have surgery in late July for the tubes. We had THREE nights he slept through the night, bouncing back and forth with one wake up per night and a sleep-through night … oh, heavenly sleep. Unfortunately, my body seems acclimated to waking up randomly at 230 am. I could do without that.

FIRSTS!

On the sleep front … (Idea: spoof of All Quiet on the Western Front, but instead it’s All Quiet on the Sleep Front … dark children’s bedtime book where a baby and a grown-up are trapped in a foxhole together and one of them, probably the baby, stabs the other and then thinks about how we’re all just people and who are the people even telling us to kill one another who are so far removed from this brutality? What, too dark? Maybe not a bedtime book.) (I ought to re-read that book.)

Anywho … the kiddo also went from FOUR naps a day, short ones at that, to three and then quickly to two. And not just two naps, two pretty darn good naps. We had a run for a while of a solid one hour nap starting between 9 and 930 and then another solid one hour nap at 2pm. It was wonderful. Now they are a little more wobbly, with them sometimes being as short as thirty minutes but it’s still the predictable put down times and oh how wonderful to have those do nothing or accomplish chores lickity split breaks.

Congrats, mook, on having two great naps!

A first that did not go as envisioned: the pool! My wife and I signed up as members for the community center in town. We took the little monster to the pool where they have a great kid’s area with built-in water guns, a play area with buckets that swing around and splash water, a water slide, a lazy river – it’s fantastic. But, perhaps, fantastic for bigger kids who can actually play with these things. Because our little monster got put in the water and began to cry. We then eased him in by walking around with him some, slowly putting his feet in the water, and then slowly sitting him down in one of our laps, etc, etc. Eventually he reached a state of ‘I’m tolerating this.’ We will continue to work on building up his tolerance because … well, it’d be fun.

(Note: I’d love for him to be a great swimmer. I am a terrible one. This morning I went to the community center to swim laps which I enjoy despite the fact that for every minute I spend swimming I spend 1 minute gasping for air at the end of my lane. The swim lanes were full, so a mom came by and asked if her daughter could swim in my lane, too. I said sure, and then both her 10-13 year old daughters hopped in. Great. And you know what those little girls proceeded to do? Zoom past me, time after time. I probably had a solid two feet of height on them, but their tiny legs and arms and ACTUAL PROPER FORM and breathing technique really showed me up. I’d love for my son to smash my swimming abilities, too.)

My wife convinced me (how? why?) that we should buy a kiddie pool to put in the backyard. Given my lame suburban status I was concerned about what it would do to the lawn, and the extra water usage … But we got one. The kiddo is ALSO not particularly fond of this, but it is growing on him. He had gotten spoiled by toasty baths and didn’t know what regular water temperatures are, at least that’s my rationale. He’s not terribly communicative except in a language I don’t speak.

And last but not least (kudos if you stuck with me): first high chair at a restaurant! This was a heavy dose of adorable, and has since been repeated a few times, almost making it seem … dare I say, normal? You really adjust to new normals FAST with a baby because their normal changes so fast. It went from ‘oh, watch him … oh, woah … is he sliding? Is he wobbling too much?’ to ‘here, kiddo, have this food pouch and feed yourself while mom and dad eat.’ INSANE!

As my son would say, pbbbbbbbbtttbbtbtbtbtbt! (He has gotten very skilled at raspberries, or fart noises with your mouth for the crude among us, and boy can he work up the drool.) And, as the title attempts to indicate, he has gotten much more expressive with his babble and his smacking counter tops. He seems to really be settling in well to his Tiny Tyrant nickname. What are you saying, dear dictator?

Until next time!

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Great Sexpectations

The only catchy thing about this post is the title. Here is my alternate title: Laundry, Gender-Based Household Chore Expectations, and Other Such Trifling Concerns.

A while ago I read a blog post (I can’t find it or I’d link to it) where a woman talked about her husband would do things to ‘help around the house’ and then she was frustrated with herself for feeling like he was ‘helping around the house’ while when she did the same things she was just doing what needed to be done.

Did that run-on sentence thoroughly obfuscate my point?

Let’s try again. When a fella does laundry, wow, what a good husband helping with the laundry. When a woman does laundry, well, yeah, she did laundry, what else is new?

 

 

See the double standard?

I’m reminded of this every time I go out with the kiddo (don’t get me wrong, I love the awww cute baby! comments). But I feel like I might garner more than my wife because you know, low dad expectations).

And I definitely am a culprit and guilty of applauding myself when I shouldn’t be applauded. Today my wife felt incredibly ill in the morning, I woke up with the kiddo at 5:30 am (hello, pre-dawn day, great to see you again) and then I unloaded the dishwasher and did loads of laundry. I didn’t think anything of doing these things because of … bum, budda bummmmm! … chastising myself internally! Hooray! Before reading that post I would ‘help’ around the house by doing laundry and think, ‘man what a stellar husband I am.’ Post-blog-post I would think, ‘why am I applauding myself for helping to care for my wife and I’s home? Do I say, “hey self, top notch job of feeding yourself!” No, because I know there are certain things you just take care of.’

Fellas, ladies, don’t fall victim of silly sexpectations. (Get it!? Like sex as in gender and … ahhh man, I’m too clever.) Fellas, the only thing you don’t have is the built-in potential food source, so get cracking you lazy bums.

(But, I’ll be honest, it’s awesome my wife breastfeeds for a lot of reasons … these days reason number 1 is I get more sleep. Also, you know, benefits for the child and all that.)

Month 8, Or Get Up, Come On Get Down With the Sickness

I’ve done it again where I waited a bit to write about month 8 and now month 9 is on my mind (this funny new face he’s making! Oh and he’s doing the … stick your tongue out and … how do you describe it? Make a fart noise with your mouth. Oh and such progress on his crawl attempts!) … But no, this is month 8. (Also, as a reminder to myself, that means from day 1 of month 7 to day 1 of month 8.)

THE MONTH OF DISEASE.

The kiddo started daycare, going only on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and I dreaded it greatly … but he seemed to be ok! I will say, in the last 2 or so weeks, he is more inclined to be upset when I drop him off even though someone holds him pretty quickly. That’s miserable, but they do try to comfort him which is nice to see (yeah, I maybe loiter and stare through the window).

Here’s the timeline.

Daycare day 1 – ok, didn’t nap but survived, that night puked a ton, mom caught a fair amount adeptly using her body to absorb it (i.e. not intentional in the slightest) and dad hopped out of bed to help out

Daycare day 2 – ok, didn’t nap but survived

That Friday, my wife texted me around noon talking about how awful she felt and how she might ask me to come home early. I said ok, keep me posted. About 1:30 (?) I head home also feeling a little off, hoping I might be able to take a nap soon … nope, my wife has been yacking like a champ. Uh ohs.

I watch the kiddo while my wife rests/naps/showers/possibly yacks more? The kiddo and I had some low-key fun (read: I did as little as possible to keep him content because of feeling poorly).

About 5pm, I put him down, run to the bathroom, and appoint myself as mayor of yack town. My wife hears our dear boy starting to cry, comes downstairs, hears me and says, ‘oh no.’

I was on about a four hour delay of what my wife was going through.

Here’s how it went. First, you were off. Then, you were cold. Then freezing. Then suddenly very hot, and that was the sign it was time to make your way to your nearest porcelain pal. THEN! After that bit of fun, why, you felt GREAT! For about 20 minutes. Then repeat.

It was a miserable, miserable night for the three of us. The next morning the kiddo got up at … who knows, 530? 6? I got up with him and thank goodness he either felt off as well, or was the world’s most understanding baby, because he let me just lay beside the pack n play while he played or spaced out for almost an hour.

As the day went on I was able to eat, and Sunday I woke up feeling more human. Oh, but wait, is that a tickle in my throat?

DAYCARE. You … you factory of sick. You container of gross. You germ-infested cesspool with cute babies and sweet teachers. (I finally went to the doc after about a month of having a cough … turns out it takes a 6-week course, but I did get some drugs because my fever and sore throat were returning for round two.)

Enough whining. Let’s get to some fun stuff.

This month I had a hiking backpack that I bought for myself arrive, and we used it as well! It is about 3 times as wide as my profile, so I look a little funny when wearing it, but it’s got a big seat for the kiddo and he loves it! For the first week or two, battling illnesses and bad weather, we didn’t use it except to wander inside the house. Then, maybe two weekends ago, my wife and I went to a little hiking area which is all flat and I was pointing out birdies, and chirping, and trees, and the green coming back this time of year and … oh, he’s asleep. It was nice and toasty out and that rhythmic rocking must be soothing. Still, my wife and I got to do an hour or so walk which was great.

Also this month – we had our first tooth arrive! And shortly thereafter, tooth number two! There was a lot of drool preceding these little guys, and now that they are here, I have to say … good LORD. The chomp strength on this tiny human is no joke. Before I’d let him gnaw on my hand to his heart’s content, now it’s like some sort of weird Russian roulette. Because he’ll chomp, chomp, chomp, and then BAM, really gets his little teeth into you and they leave a mark. Prior to my kiddo having his two little teeth I always found it strange/slightly creepy looking when a baby had just their first few teeth. But with my son it’s of course adorable. This proves one of two things: my son is more adorable than all other babies (possible), or it is yet another case of being the parent is a blinding experience (also possible).

The kiddo is also now hitting things for fun occasionally. He’ll take a block and really just beat the snot out of it on the kitchen counter. He also will occasionally smack my arm while I change him …which is fine compared to … WRESTLEMANIA! (Credit goes to my wife on that name.) With the kiddo’s ever-growing desire to crawl it seems like we are getting fewer and fewer calm diaper changes. You put him down on the changing pad and boom, he’s flipping over and up on his hands and knees. You pick him up, put him back down, do one snap or two on his outfit and … gah, child, no, stop, stop … He’s back over. I don’t know how a little guy is that slippery but it’s really difficult to prevent the flip. He’ll also grab a hold of just about anything within reach. Have some drawstrings on your hoody? Boom, he’s got that. Hey dad, is that something covering my penis to prevent me from peeing on your face? Yoink! Looks tasty! It is an entertaining, adorable, and surprisingly not that frustrating battle.

The kiddo also began his crawling endeavors this month. He managed to get to the classic crawl pose (as mentioned above) … and then he sorta … stayed there. He is definitely making progress. It just seemed as though the classic crawl pose arrived all the sudden and then there was confusion with what to do with it. Do I fling out my legs and get frustrated? Hmm, let me try that for a week and see. Oh, how about I kinda just plop my head down between my arms so it looks like I’m doing my evening prayers? Sure, I’ll try that too. He is making progress, I am just so anxious (and terrified) of him making it to the grand next step of actually moving. I would love for him to figure it out, because I am looking forward to him being on the ground and excitedly moving rather than looking around with frustration at a world that’s just out of reach.

And this post is wicked long, so I’ll mention in passing he is also able to sit independently much more. Put him in the poppy and he’s golden … for a minute, maybe 2 or 3, then oooh I’d love to chew on the tag on this boppy or hey that baby in the mirror looks cool I’ll go attempt to headbutt him.

That’s all for this old man.

Until next month. If disease doesn’t kill me first.

Dad Strategies, aka Dadegies, Issue #1

Recently I dropped my son off at daycare for his first day there EVER. Woah! First let me say that my wife and I are spoiled: he didn’t start daycare til he was just over 7 months old (fantastic), and the daycare seems to be great.

But.

Leading up to this, in the past month or so, our son had begun to show little hints of ‘stranger danger’ signs … Meaning he might look askance or be a little worried or uncomfortable if someone new was to hold him. This had created in me a real dread over his first day. The night before his first day the closest approximation for what I felt was akin to knowing you would be breaking up with someone. Yes, it was the right thing to do, and yes, it was good for everyone, but in the short-term … woe is you, woe is me.

I knew, and know, that my son is likely to roll with this change better than I am. But the morning was a fun one.

Driving to the daycare was short, we’re only about 10 minutes from there. And from the daycare to my work it’s another 10. I talked to the kiddo about his day with occasional abrupt changes of topic.

  • ‘We’ll get there, say hi to the other kiddos, say hi to your teacher, and then dad will … leave.’ (Change of topic.)
  • ‘Oh look at the mountains! They have so much pretty snow! Maybe we should just call in sick and bail on this?’ (Change of topic.)
  • ‘One day you’re going to come home from school and you’re going to tell us all about your day and that’ll be so fun! … Or if it’s a bad one we’ll get ice cream.’ (Change of topic.)
  • ‘Ok buddy, let’s talk about what dad will think about to keep himself from crying after … Anyway, we could think about cats playing with a ball of yarn. What? Why is that what popped into my head? Instead, dad could think about dinosaurs! Cool stuff, huh?’

I was genuinely surprised after so many almost-starts with crying that I didn’t shed a single tear with the drop off. I think figuring out the logistics distracted me, and a few things had gone a little wonky. (Where do I put the car seat? HOW DID THIS MILK SPILL FROM THIS STUPID BOTTLE? Ew gross, get that runny nose baby away from my baby.) Overall, the drop-off … happened.

Dad Strategy number 1? I feel like I should have one given the name of this post. Hmmm. Here it is: cry, don’t cry, whatever, it’s all good, just don’t stare your child in the face while handing him to someone while crying (that was a worry).

Is the Fog Beginning to Lift?

The kiddo is approaching 3 months of life, so it’s time for an update from the rambling, scrambling, tired, wired, and foggy brain of dear old pops. Aka, me.

My sister had told me about a book she read that mentioned that the first 3 months of life are almost like a fourth trimester, where they are so dependent on you that you’d almost think ‘why didn’t you keep cooking?’ Although, the physical ramifications of that would be dire. With that in mind, my wife and I thought, ‘so what’s that mean for us?’ With him being almost 2 months early, does that mean a 5 month long ‘fourth trimester?’

One positive note is that him being early really throws off any thought of tracking him against the ‘normal’ milestones. From a book I have read some of (note to self: get back to that after this post) it has information like, ‘at this age, you can expect your baby to be doing … you can be delighted if your baby is doing … and you can be over the moon if your baby is doing …’ But with preemies, you go based on the ‘adjusted age’ or how many days old he/she is after their due date. Our kiddo is almost 3 months old real age, alost 1 month old adjusted age. This has resulted in a hodgepodge of behavior that is sometimes older than his adjusted age, sometimes not. And when you combine that with the fact that every baby is different anyway it almost makes you think it’s pointless to try and track and compare every little thing. Pft. Like that’ll happen. What else will I do with my time but to be equal doses of proud and afraid?

I have been on the receiving and giving end of this – the instant calm. It feels like such a compliment when the kiddo is fussy, angry, crying, upset, you name it … and then I take over holding him and a calm washes over him. That’s pretty wonderful. To be fair, I think it’s often a change of scenery that does the trick for him, so I really shouldn’t take that much pleasure in it. But it’s great. (And when I hand him over and he calms … well fine, I didn’t want to calm you anyway!)

There is a distinct baby clothes market for those who have yet to change or dress an upset baby. My wife and I bought into this market before his arrival, and I think clothing manufacturer’s know what they’re doing. That outfit that is absurdly cute? Probably impossible to put on or take off without your child making you think he or she is going through a hellish torture session only Dante could dream up. There are outfits that are enjoyable, and not tortuous, and each parent probably has their own preference (learned after a few weeks) for what type they prefer.

Lately he has begun to give occasional ‘social smiles.’ For those of you not in the baby know, it’s like this. There is the ‘gassy’ smile (that’s what people say, no one knows why babies occasionally smile) that can happen right away (I think?) but it’s not a conscious choice. AND, the smile is not a full face smile, it’s more like the mouth just moves … you don’t see it around their eyes. Later, the baby might experience something, or look at you, and give a ‘social smile’ which is an ACTUAL, I CHOSE THIS SMILE FOR YOU kind of smile. It’s magical. My parents were in town recently and Sunday morning I got up with him at 6 am, I picked him up and he gave me a big smile for I don’t know how long. 30 seconds? A minute? It was long enough that my wife was able to get back from the bathroom and see too. It was magical. And then, last week on Wednesday, I got home from work, picked up the kiddo from my wife and BOOM, he gave me a little smile. I don’t know what it is to be addicted to drugs, but I can’t wait for my next dose of a little smile.

Speaking of random rewards, the kid can be like a video game. You just grind, and grind, change diaper, feed, dance, change diaper, ask him why why why are you still crying what is wronnnnnng?, dance, attempt to feed, get an angry look, dance more, pace, wrap him up tigheter, dance, finally feed, burp, dance, etc. And randomly in the mix of all that you may see a little smile, a glimmer of hope, and you think YES, more of that! Video games are designed to give random rewards, with random weights to how big a reward it is, and as you play more the rewards are spaced out more so you just keep grinding, and grinding … But, you know, instead of a new fictional gun or armor it’s a smile. From my son. Which is pretty glorious.

Those random rewards are the rays of light through the fog that is being tired, being wary, and being tested by the tiny screaming controller of your life. Nature, well done. A baby’s cry is a whip cracking motivator that’ll spring you into action. Or, if the cries continue, sometimes lead you to put the kiddo down, take off your hoody (he’s a toaster) take a deep breath, and pick him back up to try again.

Wish us luck.

Sincerely,
A Dad Who Thinks He Has Original Thoughts But Countless Centuries Have Thought Variations of the Same Thing

Easy Praise

This post is a little counter-intuitive, because I’m going to give people reasons to not to say nice things to me, but I think it’s worth saying.

I think, in my very short journey into fatherhood, it’s easier to be called a great dad than it is to be called a great mom. By easier I mean much, much easier. Like the bar is set so low a snail could walk over it. And, unfortunately, I think that’s because of the general expectations that people have for moms and dads. Moms are expected to do … everything, and likely with a full heart and a smile, and dads are expected to help mom take a load off once every 3 weeks or so. I don’t know the exact science, but it’s in there somewhere.

My wife and I are following the traditional route, she is home on maternity leave for a long while, and I am back at work. This means, by the time I get home every day, she will have been full time b for 8+ hours, while I worked on code. In case you didn’t know, code is much more predictable than a baby. I get frustrated when I can’t solve a problem at work (because I always feel like I should know better and be able to solve whatever it is) … and a baby is somewhat similar in a way.

Hear me out. The baby and computer can both give less than ideal messages that something is wrong (cryptic error messages for one, crying so intense it consumes their whole body for the other) … but you know what? I think cryptic error messages are ok compared to crying. Most anything is ok compared to crying.

I get home from a lovely day of work or a long day and if the kiddo is up and unhappy, I’ll dance around with him. Easy peasy. He typically has an unhappy stretch somewhere between or inclusive of 7 pm to 11 pm. Usually he can be calmed pretty well, but you have to be in constant motion. I am consistently logging 3+ miles just in the house, and the majority of that is pacing/dancing from the kitchen to the family room and back. And again. And again. It’s not always pleasant, but it’s not too bad. The only really unpleasant times are when he is inconsolable and so very upset. That is tough. It’s draining to try to keep the monster happy when he is fussy for God knows what reason … And my wife has just had a long day of doing just that.

But you wouldn’t believe how people hear or see that I come home from work, take over to give my wife a break, and then folks offer up lauds generally reserved for those curing cancer.

Was I not involved in the creation of this kiddo? I know my wife, and mom’s in general, are genetically tied to the baby in a way the dad never can be or never will be … But to let that be the justification for being hands off or not trying to contribute as much as possible?

Consider, the next time you want to throw out a kudos, would you be throwing the same kudos if you saw a mom doing this thing? Or is it applause worthy simply because it’s dad?

Really. Pause. Take a moment, and think about it.

Got to go, the kid and wife have both been crying the whole time I’ve been writing this. Just kidding. You hope.

Continuing on the Path of the Toast

(Obviously the spoken version deviated a bit, you know, nerves and all that.)

An Apology to my Future Potential Children

I imagine it might be confusing to listen to me apologize to hypothetical people.

Why, you might be asking, am I apologizing? Apologizing for something I haven’t yet done? Shouldn’t I just NOT do these things I need to apologize for?

Good questions. All very good. Allow me to tell you a story.

When I was in the 7th grade my dad came down to the basement where I was playing video games and said, “let’s play a baseball game.” I imagine that this statement was preceded by a brief conversation between my dad and mom, “You need to spend more time with DumbFunnery.” And my dad, in an eloquent response, probably said, “mm.”

There we were, in the basement, playing this baseball game.

I don’t remember too many different times that we sat there and played because each instance was so much like the other instances. Part of that was because my dad and I are routine-oriented people. But this one particular night stands out because of something I realized.

My dad was up to bat and doing his usual thing. Letting the first pitch go by while he sipped a beer. He never told me to do the same thing, but it was implied by him explaining his strategy, “you have to let the starting pitcher wear himself down. Get the pitch count up.” If you swing on the first pitch and get out, this pitcher will be fresh as a daisy and that’s no good. The second pitch would go by and one more sip might be taken. And if I didn’t follow the strategy, he would explain it again. And again. It’s a pretty effective way to get your point across.

The third pitch was pretty much always a ball because the game had a predictable AI. And finally on the fourth pitch my dad would swing, often resulting in an, “AGH!” Which meant he struck out, popped out, grounded out, whatever it was .. he was out.

On this particular night my 7th grade brain was feeling cocky. I thought to myself, “he sounds like a monkey with those crazy noises he makes.” And I just knew I was about to get a hit.

I let pitch one go by. Pitch two comes, I keep with my dad’s strategy, pitch three is of course a ball and pitch four … “AGH!”

What.

I just made the EXACT same noise. I had limitless options but I chose the exact same approach, and when the opportunity came it resulted in the exact same thing.

I. Am. My. Dad. This was heavy news for my 7th grade brain.

Therefore, I am very qualified to apologize to hypothetical future kids – because I have been the annoyee, and now I am the annoyer. I have tried to avoid some of these things … but I think for some it’s hard-coded, and for others it’s just going to come so naturally to me I won’t realize something was frustrating til years later.

In light of the fact that I know some of my future – I’d like to go ahead and apologize for three particular things.

From as far back as I can remember until my senior year of high-school, I can tell you exactly how the morning routine went. Remember how my dad and I are routine-oriented people? I’d wake up, my dad would’ve already been awake for an hour or more, and he’d say cheerily, “good morning!” and I’d say in response, “num-morning.” Usually following that my dad would do an impression of me and then laugh. And occasionally I might be treated to a , “what’s for breakfast? Cereal? Sounds pretty good!”

My freshman year of college a switch flipped. Suddenly I couldn’t be a chipper and enthusiastic enough morning person. Late to class? Woah buddy, better hustle huh? Dribbled while eating cereal in the cafeteria with me? Hey there mister, you missed your mouth!

And it’s only grown stronger. My wife, when she was growing up, had nicknames like “prickly pear” and “thundercloud.” Do you know who loves to bug her in the mornings? ME.

I … “apologize,” I suppose, for the inevitable obnoxious doses of good cheer and happiness in the mornings.

Secondly, I’d like to apologize for my phrasing. Do you know that experience when someone says something serious and you should listen attentively and respond sincerely with something intelligent … but instead you thought of a joke. And not just any joke, but something like a pun? The kind of joke that’s so bad it’s good? And who are you to deny that person this brilliant joke? So instead of something nice you say that joke?

You know that kind of … heavy, frustrated, silence? I know that. I really know that.

And my kids will know that too. Because at some point they’re going to say something where I should respond with something intelligent, and instead I’m going to crack a joke. But I also know the sound of my name being said in such a way that I get it IMMEDIATELY. My wife has crafted a tone of voice that communicates ever so clearly, “I appreciate your sense of humor, it’s one of the reasons we’re married, BUT. NOT. NOW.”

Last up … emotions. I know. They’re scary.

I am capable of experiencing emotions. In fact, at different points in my life, I have experienced all five three. Just kidding, I know there are only two.

I’m going to be Mr. Even Keel, and if there is something emotionally-charged to talk about, my wife will be a much better audience. That doesn’t mean I can’t listen or that I don’t want to listen, it’s just that I might say something like a heartfelt, “sorry buddy” in response to a big, long, emotional story. Whereas my wife’s eyes will reflect every emotion, her jaw will drop, she’ll throw in an occasional “NO!” while you talk about something awful.

I’m going to work on that, I’m going to try and be there for you emotionally … But that’s not going to come easy for me. But just know that I will comfort you in my own ways. I’ll crack dumb jokes, I’ll be silly or a clown for you, because that’s going to be easier and much more natural for me than finding the right words to comfort you.

Heck, I don’t even know those words for myself, but I do know about ice cream. And so will you.

Why the speech, then? Why bother apologizing for things that I’m sort of, kind of, not actually apologizing for at all?

Why apologize for my chipper am self? For laughing as I watch kids make their way to the kitchen, mummy-like, seemingly having just arisen from the grave?

Why apologize for my sometimes unwanted quips for all occasions?

Why apologize for stumbling through emotions and being an emotionally reticent person in general?

Well, it’s because I truly AM sorry for the times these parts of me will be annoying.

In the end, I want to be a good person, which will hopefully one day include trying to be a good dad, and this is the way I was taught to do it, and I happened to like my teachers.

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