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:

Image

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

Continue reading

Babies to students

What happens to you when your children leave one phase of life and move on to another? What happens to parents when babies become students? Can’t say that I have thought much about this. After nearly 9 years of being a parent of very small children I have over the last year, become a parent of still small but not as very small children.

From kids to students, the youngest is actually student-driving the car!  THATS WHY ITS SO FUN!

From kids to students, the youngest is actually student-driving the car! THATS WHY ITS SO FUN!

My oldest is in second grade, so this hypothetically could have happened at least two years ago. But for whatever reason it hasn’t hit me until our middle child got half-way through kindergarten. This has its explanations (the learning problems that our second grader has, the move from the Swedish school system to an American international school) yet explanations only take me so far.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

Neezy gets on my nerves more than the rest, because he’s just like me

I have been meaning to write about my 6 year-old for a while now. I look at him and I see myself. What is it about this that makes me so angry about this. I have two other children, both girls, one 3 the other 8. They do not make me angry in the way that my son does. I take that back, RAT, my 8 year-old can make me plenty angry. But it takes longer. And since she was evaluated for ADHD my tolerance for her sheer and utter relentlessness has increased. But with NAT it seems to be going in the opposite direction.

What appears to be cute and playful is really just a little helion version of me

What appears to be cute and playful is really just a little helion version of me

My partner thinks the two are related. On the one hand it can’t be easy to have RAT as a sister (she pushed him down the front steps the other morning, he didn’t hit his head, but it was close) and on the other hand it doesn’t help that he makes things worse by being so irritating.

There, I said it, he is irritating. Not always, of course. In fact he is wonderful to be with when you are one on one. He is in the process of discovering that he is Canadian (He was born in Sweden, but we are living in Kyiv, Ukraine. His first language is Swedish, although I have always spoke English with him. But now his best friend is from Cah…na…da. As a Californian I can’t even pronounce it the way that he and his friend do.) His personality and interests have doubled in the last year. He is growing like a weed on a spring day. All this is great, wonderful actually. But there is a back side to
this development.
He doesn’t take criticism well. (Who does, for that matter, this is a stupid point) Okay, he doesn’t respond to anger, he just gets more crazy. (This is good, ’cause in the long run I should learn how to deal with his moods, instead of just getting angry.) He does what he wants, when he wants to do it, but doesn’t want to do it himself, he wants me to do what he wants for him. He is an emotional roller-coaster, a 12 year old in a six year old’s body. And all this comes back to his sister as well. She has been the center of the family since her birth and NAT was born to exist on that periphery. And maybe that just doesn’t suit him so well. Good on him, because I as parent have to see and respect that. Hope I can…

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.

photo 3 (1)

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.

photo 4

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

photo 3

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

photo 2 (1)

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.

photo 5

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

Am I insufficient at Fatherhood? Something you would never hear WBD say, but PapaGoob is feeling it…

Am I insufficient?

I have had a feeling of insufficiency the last few months. As though everything I do is not enough. Not that I am doing the wrong things, just that I am not doing the right things as often or as long as I should. A classic problem, I realize, but one that I am not all that familiar with.

This is particularly true with regards to RAT and her siblings. RAT has struggled in school since kindergarten and now that she is in second grade we decided to do something about it. Now we know that she has dyslexia and ADHD.

While the fact that RAT has difficulties learning is not new to us, it has been a relief to feel that it wasn’t just a failure on us as parents or her  as student. Now we have specific areas that we can work with and support at school. Great.

But why is it I am still unsatisfied with things? I think it has to do with RAT siblings. We usually say that RAT is 20% of the family, but takes up 60% of the families energy (My partner then usually says that I take up 30% and they are left sharing the remaining 10%. Not very nice of her…)

Regardless of how the percentage is distributed, her brother and sister are left asserting themselves to get appropriate attention from us. BAT, who is three, doesn’t seem to have any problem with this, she prefers to be on her own anyway. But NAT has been acting out, sometimes at the expense of his big sister. And this probably will only get worse.

On top of this I should be thinking about finding new work. I like the people I work with and that I am working for something I believe in. But we are a flat organization and I am new to the whole field, so I am having a hard time finding things to do. But we are living in a new country, with a language(s) I don’t understand, and I don’t have a work permit, and I lots of education but no work experience. Where do I begin?

Who Does What In A Healthy Co-Parenting Relationship? Obviously, She Still Does The Cooking and Cleaning, Right?

Approaches to survival and the ability to endure are determined by the realities that each of us face. – PapaGoob (January 25, 2013)

In my case, I had my first child when I was 23. She was conceived when my partner and I were living in a third country (she legally, I illegally). We then moved to her home country, Sweden, but not to her home town. In the following 8 years we had two more children, moved 4 times, I completed one education, then another. And now we are living in Kyiv, Ukraine, as diplomats and untouchables (not in the Indian “untouchable”-sense, but in the above-the-law-sense, I can literally do whatever I want without fear of reprisal or punishment).

Ah... the good old days when there was no "co-parenting" there were clearly defined roles.  Yes, I will have another gin and tonic dear, please put cherry 7up in it, just how I like it!

Ah… the good old days when there was no “co-parenting” there were clearly defined roles. Yes, I will have another gin and tonic dear, please put cherry 7up in it, just how I like it!

These details are not interesting to me (I know that some people think the details of their lives are interesting to themselves, but I am not one of them. Or maybe I am, I do like talking about myself when I have an audience or I don’t know what else to say. But then I always feel guilty afterward. This is my partners fault. She thinks I am a typical loud American male who doesn’t let anyone else get a word in edgewise. I think I am just jovial in certain situations. I digress).

The details are, however, the essence of a life and determine the prerequisites to my relationship to my children. That I was born in California and my wife was born in Western Sweden is also important. We, my partner and I, are the product of two very different parental philosophies. This despite the similarities between my upper-middle class Californian background and her middle class Swedish background.

Yet even if we had grown up in the same town, at the same time, and in the same socio-economic class, my partner and I would still be very different parents.

A generation ago, or maybe two, (or maybe even this is a reality to others of my own generation) this would not be a problem. The women were in charge of the home (including children) and the men were in charge of everything else (excluding children). But now we are all in charge of everything (and sometimes in our rush to have a career too, we let the childcare worker become the most important parent – but that’s another post) and that isn’t without its difficulties. In the end, it is the kids that win the most out of this experiment. I believe my children will have a better chance of being loving, happy, gentle and good adults if I play a positive, active, and equal parenting role, together with my partner. Despite the fact that this is significantly easier with a monarchy rather than a democracy, at home at least. These are my prerequisites and the stuff that my children’s future therapist will pay for their own children’s college education.

Does Neglecting My Blog Make Me A Terrible Father?

That’s obviously a ridiculous question, of course it does… when the blog in question is www.worldsbestdaddy.org! Not to get all self-aggrandizing on you (mostly because I don’t even know what that term means), but I really feel awful about not contributing anything to this thing in months, just awful. My brother Papa Goob has been slaving away on hyper-relevant parenting posts that can really help young parents navigate the difficult terrain of early parenting. Well, EXCUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUSE ME! Some of us have jobs.

The point of WBD is not to show everyone why I’m a better daddy, the accolades and awards do that talking louder than I could ever hope to, but to connect with other parents so they can share their experiences.

Here’s a couple of gratuitous photos of AT acting really cute. Enjoy.

at-hat at-in-santa-cruz

And if you are a parent (mommy’s are great too) and are interested in having 10’s of people read about your amazing tricks and tips so they can be the best parent they can be, please, please submit your story idea to me: jstaylor33@gmail.com (yes, I also have that @lycos.com email address and I’m holding on to it!) – and I will literally gaurantee to put it up – no matter how trite and pointless it is!

Possible Ideas You Might Submit (for, again, gauranteed inclusion):

You: 39 year old grandmother of triplets, you don’t raise them, but you sure could do a better job than that horrible mother of theirs. Tell me and the world about it!

You: 43 year old techie-dad, how you rock at parenting without ever looking up from that device that’s so awesome! Tell us about it!

You: 22 year old doctor, you’ve been a doctor since you were 12 years old, you’re a prodigy, you know a lot about medicine. You were out celebrating a promotion to President of the hospital, and BAM! you met some loser who knocked you up, but again, you know a lot about medicine. Yes, I’m hoping there is a female version of Doogie Howser out there that also has a similar storyline to the protaginist of Knocked Up (I know you’re out there). Share it with the world!

I’m not saying I’m too important to contribute to my own blog, but I am real important.  Thanks for helping, now I’m off to “put out a fire” at work (corporate-speak for problem-solving, though I do volunteer fire fighting on nights and weekends), because I HAVE A JOB and AM REAL IMPORTANT and TALK GOOD.

Thanks!

James

Publisher, Worlds Best Daddy.org