Kids Outgrow … Everything!

I knew going in that my little ones would eventually grow beyond their newborn onezies (who am I kidding? Newborn sizes didn’t fit them), but I didn’t realize it would be this fast.  They have each moved well beyond that in size, but more shocking to my system has been how they’ve progressed as little people.

For years I heard people talk about the milestones of their children, but didn’t give much thought to how it would happen.  I read books and articles that talked about what a child should be doing at a certain age and how soon they might progress from that point.  Yet I never let that stuff sink in.

I knew changes were coming, but I didn’t realize they would come so fast and so close together.  I must have thought I would be able to flip a switch to allow those changes, but instead there was no switch.  I had no say.  My girls began to grow up even before we brought them home.  They were going to grow and change whether I was ready or not.

Where are They Now?

Our oldest, Mikaela, has decided that she isn’t satisfied with how much she has amazed us in the past, so she is now doing whatever she can to learn every day—it’s really cool to see.  She is also firmly entrenched in a battle with the potty that she seems determined to win (so I’m sure she will).  Mikaela is also doing what she can to help take care of baby sister.  For example she tells Juliet, “Use the other side, silly girl,” when Juliet uses her cup upside down.  And soon—I’m not sure just how soon—she will blow my mind with some other monumental milestone moment that I’m not even expecting.

Juliet, our youngest, just turned 11 months old yesterday.  As is expected with a  second child she has progressed a bit ahead of her sister in some areas and she is a little behind her sister in other areas.  Most recently she has decided that walking is what cool kids do and since she’s cool it’s time for her to walk too.  She still crawls as her primary method of transportation, but unassisted walking has definitely entered the rotation.  Juliet is also starting to help with cleanup when I ask her to, so that’s been really good to see.

What I Planned is Not What I Said

When I originally planned out this blog post I was going to focus on the fact that our daughters had each been working through a weaning process at the same time:  Juliet has switched off of formula and Mikaela is cutting down on diaper usage.  I was going to talk about the stress involved in going through these at the same time, and I was going to talk about the financial savings these changes will bring.  But ultimately I realized that the weaning was only part of the story, and so this blog changed a little bit without me really having a say.  It became something new without me flipping a switch.

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Breaking Down the Words: Dad and Father

 

The words dad and father are often used interchangeably, but they really shouldn’t. In my opinion the true meanings of these words do have commonalities, they do overlap in certain ways, but they are not the same.  The Webster’s Dictionary definitions show these words as complete equals:

Dad:  A person’s father

Father: A male parent

I just don’t see it.  In my eyes you can be a dad without being a father, you can be a father without being a dad, and you could be both dad and father.  I think we should all strive to be both, but it’s hard.  When I visualize this concept I see it as a sort of spectrum that exists in a triangular shape:

DAF Triangle

Essentially, my differentiation seems to come down to a maturity level.  Are you there to be the fun parent or are you there to help your child grow?  Personally, I love being called daddy, but sometimes I wonder, “am I being enough of a father too?”

To me, a father

  • is a consistent presence in the life of his child
  • does what’s necessary to provide and protect
  • asks for help when he needs it
  • teaches and trains up his children
  • loves his children no matter what
  • encourages his children to find their own hobbies

To me, a dad

  • is the friend
  • teaches interpersonal interaction
  • has fun with his children
  • loves his children no matter what
  • shares his hobbies

I feel that it’s important, at least for me, to try to be both a dad and father to my girls.  They need to know that I’m here for them and I’m here to laugh with them.  I want them to be able to come to me with questions about their futures and questions about their hobbies.  Being dad and father is only part of the equation for what my children need, so it’s important to do my part to keep the equation balanced.

No man can be everything their child needs, but it’s definitely worth striving for.

Smartest in the Room

There’s an old adage that states, “If you find yourself thinking you’re the smartest person in the room, then you’re in the wrong room.”  For some reason I’ve been thinking a lot about this one lately.  I like to consider myself an intelligent person, but I also love to be surrounded my minds that force me to think more thoroughly and work harder.  A big part of why I went back to finish my degree was to be taught by folks that were smarter than me.

In general I find that I mostly agree with this adage, but with one caveat—sometimes it’s good to be the smartest person in the room, but this should never be the norm.  We find ourselves in multiple “rooms” within our lives, and it’s likely that there’s at least one “room” we enter as the “resident expert”.  I argue that it’s good to be the smartest in these situations, but to still remember we have more to learn.

There are definitely “rooms” we are in that should have people smarter than us, whether they be our co-workers, our friends, our supervisors, or our spouses.  These “rooms” are good for us.  In theory, these “rooms” will help us improve; they will inspire us to be a better version of ourselves.

 As a Parent…

When I think about this adage as a parent I begin to change how I think about it.  My children are toddlers, so in a general sense they are not smarter than me.  But, even as toddlers, I know they have acquired knowledge and abilities that can blow my mind.  Each day I find myself amazed by these tiny little humans.

They learn so quickly; they adapt so swiftly.  I can definitely see a future where they are the smartest ones in the “room” we call home.  I look forward to that day, and based on how they’ve progressed so far I can’t imagine that day being all that far away.

Sharing for Toddlers

Teaching the Art of Sharing

So our daughters are now 27 months and 10 months old.  They are at that stage where toys and books can be interesting—especially if the other one has it.

Over the last few weeks we’ve had to break up many, let’s call them “situations”, between our girls as one would try to swat at the other to maintain control of the toy/book in question.  Dominance of playland is at stake every day as these two battle.  Through the first couple weeks of this—I’d like to say it was in mere days or hours, but that’d be a lie—we began to change our approach to these “situations”.

In the beginning, we would calmly take the toy out of the jump-ball situation it had entered and hand it back to the child that had it first, or at least we thought had it first.  We would say, “Mikaela, we share with your sister,” or “Juliet, your sister was playing with that.”  Those comments became less calm as the “situations” continued to arise, so it was time to try something different.

My wife had the idea that when a toy is the center of a fight, then the toy will go into timeout until the next day.  This created some immediate backlash from our eldest, but has since shown her that there are consequences to not treating others the right way.  She is only 2, but hopefully this helps us create a foundation to build off of in the future as we continue to discuss how to properly treat others.

Adding this version of timeout seems to work well when paired with the comments and directions on sharing, at least for the oldest, and it has also helped us regain calm when making the comments and providing the direction.

Taking Sharing to the Next Level

Last weekend—ten nights ago—we decided to try an experiment.  We want to test the hypothesis that our children could coexist in the same 9 by 11 space for an entire night.  So we decided to put our girls in the same bedroom for the first time.  To be fair we had kind of tested the waters in a hotel room a couple of months ago, but that was a strange place and strange beds so its colossal failure doesn’t really count.

We chose to begin this endeavor on a night that we were having friends over, because we knew sleep was going to be minimal anyway.  This was a good choice as Juliet, our youngest, took some time to get used to being in a new room (I’m not sure if it was getting used to the room or just getting completely exhausted by screaming and crying).  Once we moved our oldest, Mikaela, back to her room at 2 a.m. the night went smoothly.

The next few nights started much better, but the girls decided to start waking up in the middle of the night or just much earlier than we had grown accustomed to.  Now that they’re sharing a room they’re also sharing a sleep schedule.  Before sharing Mikaela would sleep 11 to 12 hours a night, but Juliet would sleep just 8 or 9.  The first few days of sharing they slept much closer to Juliet’s average night, if even that much.

However, last night was a wonderful night.  They slept for 10 hours.  They seem to have found a compromise that works for both of them.  We’ll see if it lasts though.

This extra time they’ve shared, even though it’s while sleeping, has seemed to bring them a little closer together.  They already got along more often than not, but the way they get along now has seemed to change.  They seem to enjoy playing together, cleaning up together, and being devious together.  But yes, the “situations” do still arise.

Part of me wishes we would have tested our hypothesis sooner, but most of me knows it never would’ve worked (Juliet just started sleeping through the night the 2 weeks prior to the move).

These girls have really been forced into learning about sharing and valuing things as not just their own over the last few weeks, and I think they have done a remarkable job—for their ages especially.  They are learning that not everything can be stamped “mine”, but instead it’s “ours” or simply something we borrow.

I hope we can keep this lesson going, because I feel like this will greatly help them as they get older and begin to face different life situations.

Welcome to DAD and FATHER!

Thank you for checking out this blog. I hope you find it useful, enjoyable, and at least somewhat worth your time. I’m hoping this blog will provide a place for dads to unite and learn together. I am by no means an expert in being a dad, but I’d like to be part of a resource that provides insight and inspiration for today’s generation of dads. I hope to use guest bloggers, outside resources, personal stories, and other sources to get this blog to a point that helps dads be the type of dad they want to be. For more information on me, my family, and this blog please check out the About page of this blog.

Since you’re just getting to know me I’ll let you ease into reading. I don’t want to overwhelm you on the first date, so I’ll keep this week’s post short.

Thinking Spring

Despite the fact that gloomy cold filled Michigan today I couldn’t help but think of Spring. As a kid I loved Spring, because that meant recess would be outside and another soccer season was starting. It’s not my favorite season, but it’s a close second.

Today, I look forward to Spring because I can take my girls outside to play. With this in mind I started a list of things I hope to do with my girls this Spring.  My list involved things like the zoo, the metro park’s trails, sitting by a lake somewhere, and simply going on walks around the neighborhood.  Of course Spring means yard work starts up again too, so maybe it’s time I brainstorm how to involve my girls in that as well—they’re 27 months and 10 months.