How does one become WBD?

A philosophy of parenting, or perhaps a manifesto, so to speak. One that surrounds two general concepts in which all matters of parenting then proceed.

1. survival

As defined in the broadest possible terms. Children are merely visitors to your life. You had a life before children and you will have a life after they stop returning your phone calls. It is thus important to maintain friendships, interests and sanity so that these will be intact when the time comes. Perhaps even a living partnership with another adult who also loves your children is important. The last one is the most difficult of all and plays into the second general concept, namely:

2. endure

This comes as a result of the fact the child rearing is (at times) relentless, excruciating and just plan boring.* This must be endured, with a modicum of goodwill. Knowledge of this will enhance patience and produce appropriate survival skills. To endure is to love your children. And to endure one must also survive. But don’t forget the goodwill. My belief (take it as you will) is that to endure is to enjoy and that enjoyment must be shared with the children and those other people that you need for survival.

What’s left then?

*Sometimes it’s not and it’s those times that we remember, at least I think so. Ask the grandparents. They have a tendency to only remember the good times and the hard times seem not have existed at all. This is curious because many adults seldom reflect upon the good times of their childhood and focus all of their energy on the bad times. This thought is also important to this philosophy. Parents have, at the end of the day, very little influence upon whether the children end up being good, or not so good people. There is very little we as parents can do about this. On the other hand, if we treat kids like second class citizens, but then we almost certainly create second class adults.

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Dilemma: Help now or forever miss capturing the action for posterity?

I just encountered a scenario that briefly called into question my own internal standing as Worlds Best Daddy (WBD) and I’m eager to see what my loyal subjects, I mean followers think about how I handled it. I’m confident you’ll agree WBD did the best thing for both the internet and of course my child.

Setting the scene:

It was a dark and rainy night, very Film Noir (well I guess it still is because it just happened), and I had just picked AT up from daycare. She was as happy as ever to see me – meaning she was really dissapointed that mom wasn’t there, but that’s besides the point. You don’t get to be WBD by worrying about what your kids want.

Anyway, her daycare is quite nice and in the new “tech ghetto” of Seattle, South Lake Union. There are a ton of people crossing the street and  couple that with the awfulness of Seattle drivers, and it’s really nerve-wracking and you have to be extra careful, especially in the rain, with a screaming 2.5 year old in the car demanding “MORE CRACKERS NOW DADDY!”

So as per usual at this time of night, in this part of town, with this weather, I was a bit distracted (also, I was trying to send a text message and look at google maps, but that’s neither here nor there). When out of nowhere, my precious angel changes the cadence of her scream and I can tell that it’s not about crackers. I look back and AT has spun a Chinese Finger Torture (that’s probably not very PC, sorry) with her hair and it’s cutting off the circulation to her right pointer finger.

Backing up a bit, AT regularly spins her hair and it kinda drives me crazy. I used to work with a woman who I’d consider one of the dumbest and most annoying people on earth and she used to twirl her hair constantly. I associate it with stupidity and it absolutely freaks me out that my little uber-intelligent-smarty-pants could have such a “tick.” I choose to believe that there is no correlation and that the dumby I used to work with was just doing it to antagonize me personally.

As Andie was obviously scared and in pain, I pulled over immediately to rectify the situation and help her untangle, but then I had a thought, perhaps she’d want me to take a photo of it?  I’ve done all kinds of dumb stuff as both an adult and an adolescent, so I’m sure I must have done even dumber things as a child, yet there is no photographic evidence of this. I’d like to have photo evidence of that bean I stuck in my nose, but I’ll admit that I’m not a normal person.

So her finger was getting pretty purple at this point and I don’t feel great about it, but here’s the photo.

If it’s any consolation AT, I really believe you’ll be happy that I caught this for posterity. And thankfully, we were able to save the tip of your finger… and your hair. Actually cutting your hair was my first inclination, but then I remembered you have picture day tomorrow and I can’t deal with the wrath of your mom if you show up looking like some weird hipster.

 

The moral of the story is that we are all winners. I was able to save her hair, her finger, and the image for eternity.

The Currency of Potty Training

Kate Fox, Toddler-tips-and-tricks.com

Anyone who has potty trained a toddler knows you need a few things to be successful. First, you need a willing and ready toddler. Second, and almost equally as important, you need an equally willing and ready parent. Some idealist would stop right there and feel ready — but this combination alone leaves out a major player in American potty training. Do you see what’s missing? That’s right…. candy!

Now, most of the time I’d vilify candy just as much as the next person for being the empty calorie, cavity-promoting, dinner-spoiler that it is. But in the realm of potty training, candy is king. Think about it, we’re talking about convincing a toddler to excrete on a giant, flushing bowl of water rather than in a soft, absorbent diaper! Do you really know of a vegetable with the motivation power needed to accomplish this? I don’t.

Just because it works for you, doesn’t mean we endorse it for your children until they have that paper route when they’re 10.

The trick with using candy is to know exactly how to use it. You give too much candy and your toddler isn’t left wanting more. You don’t give enough and your toddler feels the reward is not worth the effort.  You have to find that perfect balance. Maybe it’s two Skittles for going #1, three Skittles for going #2. Maybe each bodily function deserves its own type of candy: M&Ms for pee, a Starburst for poop.  And then you’ve gotta figure out the reward for going on strange toilets. How much is going on the self-flushing toilet at the library worth? Or the spider infested one at the park? Wait… scratch that last one. How much to get the kid to pee behind the tree instead?

It’s a delicate balance, but somewhere in the midst of the successes and the failures, a “big kid” emerges looking pretty similar to that little munchkin you still like to call your baby. And you can’t help but think how much more painful of a process it would have been without the sugar!

Kate Fox is a contributing author at www.toddler-tips-and-tricks.com and, as you can tell from her post, the master of child-rearing-slight-of-hand. You can reach her at marketing@toddler-tips-and-tricks.com