When should I Crush her Early Childhood Crush?

I think this is getting a bit ridiculous. Please someone correct me if my assumptions are way off, but I thought the obsession over boys or a boy in particular might not happen until her early teen years.  It’s happening now in preschool!

I always assumed that with our advancing modernity we could expect our kids to experiment with drugs earlier. However, the trend is actually going the opposite direction according to recent annual reports by the NIH – which shows kids are waiting longer to experiment with hard drugs and protecting their little underdeveloped brains to focus more clearly on boy obsession!!!!???!! I’m having a hard time deciding whether I’d prefer she started on bath salts earlier.

Pretty hard to find more damning evidence of mainstream culture encouraging underage marriage than Bratz! These girls are supposed to be teenagers!! All rights reserved by MsWatermelon813

Pretty hard to find more damning evidence of mainstream culture encouraging underage marriage than Bratz! These girls are supposed to be teenagers!! All rights reserved by MsWatermelon813

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Does Scheduling Kids Activities Help… or Hurt? Economics of Parenting

I am well on my way to becoming a Tiger-mom and the results are undeniable. At 3 YY (years-young) she’s reading at a 5th grade level, a concert-worthy pianist, and just yesterday was asked to tryout for the world cup teeeee…wait. That was all a dream I had last night. This was one of those dreams where you wake up and for the first couple of seconds you are really satisfied with yourself because you’ve reached great heights and it all seems so real — yet you had nothing to do with it. Like being born rich, or Lebron James, or Gorbachev (no one can tell me that birthmark on his bald baby head had nothing to do with his success).

Striking resemblance? Based on Gorby's success later in life, I'm hoping so!

Striking resemblance? Based on Gorby’s success later in life, I’m hoping so!

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Determining Appropriateness of Threatening Language, or…When is it ok to threaten someone’s child?

“Relax, it was an accident.”

“I’m about to have an accident with YOUR kid!”

That was the less-than-nice encounter we had as we were departing brunch last weekend. The tone of this blog is definitely tongue-in-cheek (and frequently foot-in-mouth) and I regularly like to sensationalize titles, but this was a genuinely weird moment caused by a parent’s fear for their own child’s safety. So… was it ok to threaten my child in retaliation?

I’ll set the stage a little better. We had just completed our meal at the lovely Hi Life in Ballard. A restored Firehouse in one of Seattle’s cooler neighborhoods that’s near AT’s interpretive dance/rolling-around class that has great and simple All-American food (specifically Brunch): Bloody Mary’s, Biscuits & Gravy, et. al. And the best part for my GFGF (gluten-free girlfriend), most of their menu can be had Gluten-free — which was the primary reason we went. Although thinking about the super-glutened B&Gs with a sunny side up egg is starting to make me lose my train of thought.

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Bedtime Stories Illuminate Childhood Aspirations and Crush Parental Ones

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Some of these career choices may be a bit dated (what with cars driving themselves these days and carpentry being outsourced to Sweden/Ikea). Bravo to Richard Scary for not kowtowing to the cultural norm of the day and asking the reader if they want to be a good cook, like their father.

Last night I was reading the great Richard Scary classic, “Best Word Book Ever” or something about words, I can’t remember. It’s really long and there are surprisingly few words in it. When I flipped to the page about professions, I asked the logical question, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I may or may not have blocked everything on the page from her line of sight except the doctor/pig and may or may not have lead her a bit with, “…a doctor?” To which she (exasperated) responded, “ewwwwww, no daddy, I’m going to be a Princess when I grow up!”

I followed up with, “Are you sure you don’t want to help people when they’re sick or injured or do something else for work besides be a Princess?” To which she responded dryly, “I don’t want to work when I grow up, it’s boring.”

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Commence Enhanced Sociopathic Behavior Season (or cold season to the uninitiated)

AT is a perfectly nice 3 year old. She hams it up and tries to show love as best as her little sociopathic mind will allow her. This means she commonly mistreats people she loves, but when a new person she is trying to impress is introduced, she frequently says, “I love you, Daddy” and does things that have always resulted in her receiving a great big dose of “awwwwwwww” from the newcomer. This is not unique to her, I believe all 3 year olds are sociopaths.

She really is a sweet and compassionate girl as evidenced by her love and enjoyment of that awful place we like to call the State Fair!

She really is a sweet and compassionate girl as evidenced by her love and enjoyment of that awful place we like to call the State Fair!

I was recently at her school where an expert on early childhood development and behavior was talking about strategies and tactics that employ positive guidance for misbehavior (positive reinforcement). She was saying the underdeveloped frontal lobe was the main culprit for this sociopathic behavior. We all know our brains aren’t fully developed until we are pretty much almost dead, but in very little kids, it’s amazing how little of that lobe has actually grown-in.

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For some reason, it seems to really sting when your child says, “I don’t love you, Daddy”

I think I’m pretty good at not letting what my 3 year old says in the heat of an argument about TV, eggy burritos, or going to bed (our 3 biggest topics of disagreement) really bother me. She will scream, she will throw a torrential downpour of tears and feigned violence upon me, and it’s really stressful and my blood pressure definitely rises, but I am reasonably good at getting her off the ledge without resorting to my own hysterics. That being said, yesterday was the first time she’s ever dropped her trump card, “I DON’T LOVE YOU DADDY!”, and I have to admit, it stung a bit. A lot bit.

Now, I’m as macho as any self-actualized-urban-dad-impersonator (SAUDI) out there, and I was raised not to complain,¹ so I’ve perfected my stoicism in the face of these outbursts. She generally has no idea how upset I am in inside.

Yesterday, however, she was displeased that I was picking her up and not her mother and when I dropped MY usual trump card for everything, “I love you, sweetie²”(seriously, try it on ANYONE in ANY situation, IT WILL WORK), she threw the “I don’t”royal flush response right back in my face. Lame poker references aside, I was floored.

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Go to Sleep! …Please

AT likes her rituals. She demands an eggy-burrito nightly while she watches her programs (Macneil/Leher primarily) — and who am I to deny her this? I once ate a tuna fish sandwich every day for an entire summer when I was a big-wheel trucker in college and I never once got sick of it. The only reason I stopped was school started again and I needed to move on to eating a burrito every day. And I forcibly removed her pacifier at 3 months, and now she sucks her fingers, so I figured she probably might knows what’s best for her.

But recently, she’s taken up the habit of the never-ending bedtime ritual, and to parrot one of her favorite phrases, “I.don’t.like.it” (said through gritted teeth very, very slowly). This never-ending ritual starts with something she co-opted from me, the spell-it-out method¹ of saying what you intend to have happen long before doing it.

Up until very recently, I’ve found it particularly effective to spell out EVERYTHING the two of us will be doing together in advance, not only so I can later say, “SEE!” and “REMEMBER?”, but because it’s really the only proven tactic I’ve had for getting her to do what I want. One example of this is on a typical weeknight after I’ve picked her up from daycare. On these drives home, I always spell out exactly what we’ll be doing (eg. “we’re going home to make dinner, you can watch one episode of wonder pets, and then it’s bath, book, song, and bed — sound good?”). This has worked quite well, until just recently, when she’s been heading me off at the pass and using my method against me.

Instead of me dictating our night in advance, she will say things immediately after we get in the car like, “Just so you know, I’m not tired at all daddy and I’m not going to be tired later”… at 5:30 pm! Of course you aren’t tired you sweet little monster. What am I supposed to say to that?!

Partially my response to this is seasonal, it’s summer after-all and we live almost as far north as Alaska, so it’s generally quite bright when I’m trying to get her to fall asleep at 8(ish), and so I say, ok, let’s read another story, or hang out while daddy gets his at-bat in softball.

But when it’s pushing 9:30 and she is adamantly not tired (yet yawning violently), I’ve tried everything to combat this objection:

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Even this weighted vest I strap onto her for added exhaustion during post-school play hasn’t worked to tire her out! Photo courtesy: DennisSylvesterHurd

Aggressive post-school play. I love to take her to Greenlake or Wallingford Wading Pool and try to tire her out as best I can after a long day of running around at daycare. I have her run win sprints with a weighted-vest with the parachute attachment. Doesn’t Help.

Sugar-rush! I’ll admit this may at first blush appear completely counterintuitive, but I read something recently that stated that the “sugar high” is actually a complete fallacy, so I thought perhaps if I just seceded to her every chocolate whim, perhaps she’d do me a solid and go to bed when I ask. Nyet Chance, and chocolate stains the $hit out of her PJs.

Scalding Hot Bath. You know what makes me sleepy? Hot tubs make me really sleepy. I thought perchance if I ticked up the temp on her bath right before bed it might make her conk out. So far it has only made her look slightly oompa loompa-ish and strengthened her resolve not to go to bed because in her words, “I’m soooooooooo not tired right now because of that bath.”

These 3 seemingly brilliant ploys to tire her out have only made the ritual seem that much more feeble and pointless. Perhaps I should just turn on the TV and let her watch it until she falls asleep? This would free me up to go to bars and dog tracks and other things and then come home to a sleeping toddler (and blaring TV) and I’m sure there wouldn’t be many long term repercussions, and I might make a bit of money. Continue reading

Keys to getting that kid to eat, and eat real good: scarcity and coursing-it-out

Pro tip: if the milkshake is too heavy for the child to hold while drinking, don't lessen the amount of milkshake, prop it up on something...

Pro tip: if the milkshake is too heavy for the child to hold while drinking, don’t lessen the amount of milkshake, prop it up on something…

As someone that literally just ate an entire tub of Trader Joe’s guacamole by myself, I am keenly aware that I am unqualified to give nutritional advice. That being said, I think I’m doing a pretty fine job of getting the kiddo both acclimated to new/different/interesting foods and giving her the right amount of it. I think.

She has moved into the Terrible Threes and generally has figured out how to be a total $hit sometimes, especially about food. She was so amazing as a two-year-old, completely willing to eat what the grown ups were eating and plenty of it. Now it has become a bit of a battle royal with the daily 6 pm rallying cry, “I want a burrito!” or “burrito. NOW. daddy!”

Who can fault the kid, the burrito is the most amazing super-food on earth, but if you eat one every day, inevitably you will become… well, I guess you’ll just become like 70% of the rest of the population, but that’s pretty gross.

We as parents walk a fine line between cajoling our kids to eat enough and keeping them from only eating utterly bland, terrible, terrible things that are only white, brown, and yellow. Like german food. Andie actually really loves salads and fresh vegetables and will eat them voraciously… as long as it is coursed out to her when she is super hungry.

These are the 2 keys to making sure your child eats diverse things: scarcity and multiple “courses”

1) Scarcity

Remember that last time YOU were really hungry and ate that entire tub of Trader Joe’s guacamole because it was easy and right in front of you and you were starving? Kids act the same way if they are really hungry. If you can stand them getting to this point of hunger, they’ll eat almost anything you put in front of them! Raw vegetables, brown rice, quinoa, oysters, any other strange delicacies that under normal hunger wouldn’t pass her lips. This will put your child on the path to not only a lifetime of healthy eating, but an appreciation for what’s (no matter what’s) put in front of them – which is just plain good manners anyone can appreciate.

2) Coursing it out…

This is deadly serious. Now, I’m not saying I don’t give her a small “burrito” with almost every meal, but I don’t put all the strange, exotic, and healthy foods in front of her with the one thing she’ll actually regularly eat. If she sees the burrito there, she’ll finish it and nothing else and then ask for more burrito. At that point I’ve lost, and don’t let anyone tell you that parenting is not a zero-sum game. So, like a fine restaurant, course-it-out. If you have to use the desert lure to get her to eat, then do so tactically and always say not until you finish the lutfiske.

Thanks for reading and I hope this helps you get your kids to eat, and eat well. As always comments are highly encouraged below as I rarely know what I’m talking about.

Father’s Day mea culpa from the world’s best daddy to his own daddy

I’m not going to see my daughter on father’s day this year. I agreed to this (why did I agree to this, again?) because my co-parenting relationship involves concessions, compromise, and trade-offs. Even though our agreement states that the other parent gets the kiddo on their own respective gender-based-hallmark-holiday, my thought at the time  was, we never really cared about Father’s Day with my dad, so why should my own Father’s Day be any different?

Growing up, my family never really emphasized gift-giving, and this spilled into general holiday apathy. Perhaps this started with my tearful acceptance of “the starter robe” (another story for another time) at a particularly unfun-for-everyone Christmas. This doesn’t mean we don’t all relish the opportunity to get together, but the Holiday itself is simply an excuse or vehicle (like eating crab or artichokes is a vehicle for eating mayo).

The infamous "starter robe" incident at Christmas one year seems to have derailed holiday spirit at the Taylor home. Photo courtesy: ChrisMRichards

The infamous “starter robe” incident at Christmas one year  (where I was certain the last gift was that Warriors starter jacket I wanted) seems to have derailed holiday spirit at the Taylor home.   Photo courtesy: ChrisMRichards

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Recognizing (and monetizing) talent

I don’t think I’m biased when I say that I have spawned one of the most prolific performers (per capita) in the history of entertainment. Not Whitney Houston circa Bodyguard, nor Krea$hawn circa Gucci, Gucci could match her range and tenacity. My problem really is, I haven’t found a suitable way to make any money from this. (Story of my life, some might say).

So, the pageant circuit seems grueling and really what are we hoping to win there, prestige? Free teeth whitening for life, maybe.

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