Coaching: When to step in and help your kid against overzealousness

AT has been taking swimming lessons at the pool in our neighborhood and she has really loved it. The frolicking, the dunking her head on-command, the positive reinforcement from a real-life swim coach — swimming and learning with an expert that isn’t her dad. It’s been a really great experience except for those periods where she has been inconsolably bawling.

See, most of the staff at the pool is both adept at swimming and teaching, but also interacting with children. This is a hard job for someone that is really good at the former and not the latter.

The pool in question and prior to meltdown.

The pool in question and prior to meltdown.

Everyone of the coaches she works with except that one overzealous guy that CAN’T SEEM TO REALIZE THAT 3 AND 4 YEAR-OLDS LIKE IT WHEN KIDS YELL, BUT NO SO MUCH WHEN ADULTS DO IT!!!

He is great at generating looks of disgust and fear from his routine of excitedly showing how not-to swim gracefully (eg. flailing/splashing/yelling/thrashing/whipping his hair into their sweet little faces like a Merman). See, he’s really good at swimming, and he loves swimming, and see, well, GET IT? YEAAAAAAAAAAH!  HE’S GOOD AT IT!!!! SPLASH!! ALSO KIDS!!! THIS IS NOT WHAT YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO DO!! OK??!!

The last class was a couple of weeks ago and I had to walk over at a certain point and ask that Merman not be the one to work with AT as she was cowering in the corner and paralyzed with fear. She was the 2nd child to have to “hit the showers” early because Merman had scared them, yet Merman was blissfully unaware that his behavior was causing this.

I was going to really just let it go (in the parlance of our times), but recently Andie moved on to invididual lessons and appears to have developed a fear of all men in pools. Part of me thinks this is a fear I should foster, but only the irrational part thinking about teenage pool parties and 80’s movies.

I felt genuinely stupid about pulling her out of class because let’s face it, my generation is a bunch of wimps. Can you imagine what 4 or 5 generations removed from the greatest generation will be like? I’ll tell  you, they will be ineffectual, afraid of Mermen and other mythical man-creatures, and pretty much afraid of everything. I’ll be tying her shoes when she’s 40 and living in my basement (which is really my parents basement).

Thankfully, these kids will probably get to adolescence and live through a terrible economic depression and World War IV to strengthen their resolve. I was never that lucky and part of me really wishes I was.

In all sincerity; it is a fine line  between tiger-daddying and letting our children learn that people can  be a bit scary, yet harmless. The Merman was definitely harmless and I could even see a flicker of acknowledgement when I had to ask that he stay away from my precious daughter.

This is what AT envisioned when she thought a Merman would be teaching her how to swim.

This is what AT envisioned when she thought a Merman would be teaching her how to swim. Oh how wrong she was.

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.

Little Johnny or Julie Won’t Brush their Hair? Give ’em Lice!

AT really hates brushing her hair. This is not a new and unique thing to her. I’ve heard most 2 year olds aren’t big fans of you yanking giant knots (and with it little itty bits of flesh) out of their manes after bath time. She just looks so cute when you can actually get her to do it, that I’ve invested in some delicious tasting de-tangler that she’d much prefer to squirt into her mouth like it’s binaca, than use to de-tangle.

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Want that Pat Riley (circa 1985) look? Give ’em lice!


But in that rare instance where she’ll allow it, her freshly brushed hair looks great. Those instances were few and far between until I got a dreaded call from daycare yesterday.  I had literally not even walked into my office yet, having dropped her off a mere 10 minutes prior.

The Stages of Lice-ism:

1) Shock and Disbelief

“James, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but…”

Who starts a sentence like this???  That’s what got this whole lice-steria off on the wrong foot to begin with.  My only logical thought with this opening statement is that she’s run off with the circus or went and got herself pregnant. Ludicrous

“…Andie has lice.”

Whaaaaa? Isn’t that for disgusting little kids that live in houses with shag carpets and hundreds of cats and were born red heads?

That’s what EVERYONE thinks when they hear about some kid that has lice.  But I can tell you, it’s not even remotely true. AT has light brown hair and I only have 1 shag carpet and no cats. Regardless, I’m on my way immediately back to daycare to pick her up because they’ve made it sound like they’re quarantining her somewhere nice… and cold and basement-like.

As I hustle into her class she is not upset and surprisingly she is surrounded by a teacher and some other kids and not locked in anything at all.

The teacher says, “She’s been scratching and I saw a lice jump. My daughter came here for a week and ended up getting lice too, so I know what they look like.”

“Ugh, ok, well, you don’t seem that concerned, so what are you supposed to do?”

“Well, you just have to wash everything you own in scalding hot water, and potentially shave all of your facial hair off.”

To be fair, that might not exactly be what she said, but at the time I was completely distracted by the remembrance of all of the times I’d kissed the top of her head in the previous 24 hours. Ewwwwww. I counted at least 7 times.

2) Projection

When I first heard she had lice, it sounded kinda bad and gross, but after my conversations at daycare, I was significantly freaked out.

Am I going to have to burn everything I own?

Will I have to shave all of my hair off (at least finally now I’ll have that excuse to trim up the nose thought!)?

Will AT forever be marked at school as Pig Pen?

And then the hardcore projection started. I convinced myself almost immediately that my slightly itchy fill-in-the-blank was the result of invisible larvae spawning and multiplying exponentially. My beard felt like it was brand new and ridiculously itchy.

AT’s mom eventually met up with us and she too said that she immediately projected.

3) Avoidance and Quarantine

Even though the daycare didn’t quarantine her to prevent the spread of this salicious bug, I thought it was my duty to avoid going home with her. Naturally we went to the zoo. Sure there are at least 500 other kids at the zoo (half of them probably crawling with lice), but I figured I could keep her away from everyone and kill some time before our appointment at Lice Knowing You (yes, seriously, there is a business dedicated to eradicating lice, well actually, it’s a business dedicated to giving parents a slip of paper that states there kid is lice free – so they can go back to school).

We enjoyed looking at the… hmmmm, I don’t remember a single thing about the zoo except trying to keep AT’s head from touching anyone else’s. And you know what, that happens pretty frequently to 2.5 year olds, they inadvertantly head butt each other all the time. It’s cute when there isn’t a high liklihood of spreading infectious bugs.

I took this closeup at the Woodland Park zoo as we enjoyed a truly awful dining experience.  Can't see them can you?

I took this closeup at the Woodland Park zoo as we enjoyed a truly awful dining experience. Can’t see any lice, can you?

I told Andie that we had an appointment afterwards at a “pretty hair cutting place” where they’d give her a fancy new haircut. I’m so f-ing smart, she loved it. We enjoyed a terrible lunch at the zoo and then it was time to meet AT’s mom at Lice Knowing You to get us all de-liced.

4) Eradication (fancy hair brushing)

Lice Knowing You is in a non-descript building in Wallingford that looks like it houses a bunch of graphic designers and dentists. Be forewarned, the buzzer says LKY for discretionary purposes. I had to call them to figure that out because, really, that’s not something that’s obvious is it?

LKY is one-room, with a TV and 3 barber stools. There were 2 lice-techs there and when we arrived working on 2 other family’s. Our 12:30 pm appointment mysteriously never showed up on their books, but thankfully they were able to get us back in at 1:30, so we went and stewed for a bit in our lice-infestedness.

You have multiple options at LKY. 1) you can go to get “tested” for lice, or 2) you can skip #1 and go get “treatment” for lice. They allow you to skip #1 if you want to pay the extra money and I was pretty sure, so I opted to go for #2. AT’s mom wasn’t that pleased with that, but I was paying, and thankfully we did, because another woman came in to get tested and wasn’t able to get treated. That being said, they test the parents at no additional charge if you opt to get your kid treated.

I went first and it really just feels like they are about to give you a hair cut. They get your hair wet with essential oils and brush the $hit out of it. After a quick brushing, they could tell I was clean and mentioned, “9 out of 10 dads are clean.” Not sure why that is. A more inquisitive person probably would have asked, but I was just so damn excited to be sans-lice. Later when AT was getting her treatment a family came in from Snohomish (an hour drive away) and dad had it. So I guess he’s the unlucky 10%.

You can't tell, but I was relieved to know that I was lice free here.

You can’t tell, but I was relieved to know that I was lice free here.

In fact, people take this lice thing so seriously, that there was another family in before us that had come from Tacoma (an hour the other direction). They said their 4 kids had all had to miss pretty significant amounts of school for lice. Yikes.

AT’s mom also didn’t have lice, and ultimately we caught (or more accurately, daycare caught) it right away, so it was relatively easy and LKY guarantees you are lice-free after their visits.

Basically all they do at LKY is brush your hair for an hour and charge you $100 for it. But that peace of mind was totally worth it.

Yes I burned everything I owned before I learned this.

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At this point, she was still looking forward to her “pretty hair brushing”

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She started to realize something was “up” almost immediately though.

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The light was at the end of the tunnel at this point and she was starting to feel much more aerodynamic. Or like she could coach the Lakers to another championship.

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She’s quite a handsome little girl with her “Pat Riley”