My adventures in discipling my childrens. Part 2.

I think that at this point, I should note that I do not enjoy discipling my children.

It would be nice if we all lived in a world where everyone respected everyone else and we were all aware of how our actions affected the lives of those in our immediate environment.

Sadly, that is not the case at all. 

From the moment we escape our mother’s womb, like the trapped miner’s that we all are, our curiosity is what guides us. For good reason, too: it’s the only tool we have at our disposal that helps us learn.

FACT: babies drop things because they want to know if the thing in their immediate reach makes a sound. 

Ever have that happen to you? A baby is in the high chair and the little fucker knocks all of it’s toys on the floor. Then, like a good Samaritan, you pick the stuff up for it because you think it’s an accident. Then it turns it into a game that you get sucked into every 5 minutes? Good times. 

Eventually the kid(s) get older but that curiosity is still there. It’s just evolved into a version boundary extension and seeing what they can get away with. This is the time of their life when their identity really starts to take shape.

More often than not, the kid will show an interest in things that you, as a parent, can completely get behind (e.g sports, music, being romantically interested in stuff, etc.). Sometimes, they’ll do a lot of stupid shit that makes you, as a parent, really wonder if they do share your genetics. And on occasion, they’ll do something so astoundingly dumb, that you, as a parent, will feel like a failure.

If you are reading this and you don’t have kids, or maybe you are on the fencepost, please know that it’s not as scary as it sounds. It’s just part of the ride that you bought the ticket for. 

Last week, I posted a document that I drew up for my eldest because she got her ass grounded this past summer. I made a point of spelling everything out for her because she had gotten grounded before and the groundings never really went anywhere: no conclusion was reached, she didn’t really seem to care about the effect of what she did, did to those around her, closure was nowhere to be found. It was just a waste of time for everyone.

Also, I welcomed the opportunity because I wanted to write up something where I got to use the word “redacted” and have footnotes. 

In sum, the grounding worked to an extent. There’s been hiccups since the actual grounding, but nothing monumental.

She understands how her behavior affects everyone else. She understands that when things build up like they did, she needs to do something positive about it. That’s why the grounding was as structured as it was and why it included all of the holistic things and educational things that it did. In the grand scheme of things, I was trying to arm her with weapons that she could use when she felt life start to close in around her.

Grounding your child is a tightrope all parents have to walk. If there is one thing that I would like to impart it’s this: keeping your balance is easy. Just make sure you leave as much of your own opinions out of the grounding as possible. The grounding is about your child and what’s been informing their behavior. Not why the kid won’t fit into the box that you made for them inside of your head. 

In Conclusion (Potty Training Finale).

Like the previous two children, when The Wife and I had our third, and final child, we didn’t know what to expect. It was great news and perfect timing (there’s only three years difference between each child). We were happy.

How can you know what to expect, really? Not to get all hippy dippy and weird, but everyone kind of is like a snow flake. Doubly so, for babies. They may seem like one-trick ponies, what with all of the neediness and crying and noise. But even with something as simple as teaching the kid to shit in the toilet and not their hand, your kid’s personality will shine through, every time.

Parents don’t consciously realize this (at least I didn’t…) until hindsight kicks in. No one is to blame if this is the case. Parenting is fucking hard. All of the time. Even when you think things have plateaued out and are hunky dory, parenting is still hard.

So when Little Bear was born, The Wife and I were blown away. Why? Because everything was easy with this fucking kid. Feeding, playing, exercising, listening… Everything.

And what’s more, she was happy. All. Of the fucking. Time. There was a good streak there when she would wake up with a smile on her face. We weren’t doing anything funny or exciting to get the kid out of bed, we were just waking her up. And she’d wake up like that for anyone.

Then one day the kid started reading. Out loud on her own. We didn’t prompt her. No one (to my knowledge) explained what the alphabet was and how it made words and how the words were also seen as well as heard.

Little Bear just figured that shit out all on her own. 

It didn’t take long for The Wife and I to realize that we had a bit of a genius  in our midst.

 

Eventually, Little Bear needed to stop shitting in the woods, as it were.

To recap her siblings similar journey:

  • Thing One liked to wait until the last minute before she Jackson- Pollocked her Underoo’s.
  • Thing Two was the Ninja Gaiden or Shinobi, if you will, of poo-hiding.

Much like her sister Thing One, Little Bear was incredibly hands-off when it came to peeing in her potty chair. At her young age, with her voracious intellect she knew that if she needed to ‘make water’ her little pink potty chair that was by the side door (going outside) was more than happy to catch for her.

Getting her to empty the damn thing was always hard. There were more than a few times when she’d use it without our knowing and then a day or two later things would be kind of foul smelling. Hence, my placement by the side door.

You’re goddamn right I dumped it outside. As long as there weren’t any Poop Snakes hiding in the Pink Throne, what the hell did it matter?

Also like her older sister, Pooping was always a hassle. The difference between the two was that Little Bear held on to her stinky-ness until she had the mid section of a malnourished Somalian child. (As I write this, I still don’t fully understand it. Everyone poops. Just because you’re a female doesn’t mean that your street cred diminishes every time someone learns that you don’t actually poot talcum powder).

To date, Little Bear’s inability to be reasonable and poop daily was only remedied within the past year and a half. ‘How did you fix that?’, you’re undoubtedly wondering.

When I would notice the tell-tale Somalian belly sign, I’d ask her in a calm and passive voice, ‘When’s the last time you pooped?’. If she started to hem and/or haw, I’d tackle her, yell out ‘POOP MASSAGE!!!’ and I would start rubbing her distended belly like a wad of dough.

Cruel and unusual? Hell no: The kid would be overcome with the giggles every time. Result? A svelte looking Little Bear the next day.

In Sum

In short, you can consult any source that you want. The bottom line is that if you want your kid to use the john you need to do three things:

  1. Learn how to read them. Kids aren’t any different than grown adults: they telegraph the fuck out of most emotions.
  2. Lead by example. That’s right, they need to watch you go. Creepy at first but it’s no different than using a public restroom. Trade Secret? If it’s just you and the kid at home, leave the bathroom door open when you go. They’ll wander in if they want. Just be sure to give the Significant Other a ‘head’s up’.
  3. Set a routine. The success rate of any child doing anything at all is dependent on the routine that the parent(s) set up for the child. Reading, learning to walk, learning to do anything for that matter.. Want your kid to use the potty sooner, rather than later? SET UP A MOTHERFUCKIN’ ROUTINE. 

The Horrors of Potty Training part 2.

Today we pick up where I left off the other day when I was regaling you about the time my Eldest Child was being potty trained, and building upon the fact that whatever you may read from a parenting book, your child will prove your wrong.

My son was no less difficult when it came to sitting down on the toilet. 

Boys, in general, need a different approach when it comes to toilet training. Again, I’m sure you’re thinking “another one for the No Shit, Sherlock file”. Stick with me.

From what I remember, Middle Child didn’t trust the process at first. That is not to say that we didn’t educate him. I can unequivocally state that it was impressed upon him that the diapers would eventually have to go (and that they would be replaced with big boy pants) and that white thing next to the bathtub that his mother, father, and sister sat on from time to time would handle all of the pee pee and poo poo he could put into it when he was ready to break from his potty chair.

Additionally, Middle Child had relatively the same support group that Eldest Child did. What he had going in his favor was that his mother and father were a bit older and a bit wiser about the entire process of getting a child house-broken.

What kept Middle Child from taking and using the throne sooner rather than later was his complete and utter aversion to change. Yes, that’s right: At the ripe, old age of TWO he was a little old man. Seriously, he’s still like that to some extent (he’s nine years old, now).

When it came to him pissing himself, everything’s a bit foggy for me. I think I managed to get him to think about not doing that by way of letting him pee in the kitchen sink. Relax prudes: it’s not like it was a sink full of dishes. It was an empty sink.

As I remember it, one day after work, I had finished the dishes and Middle Child was next to me. Why and what he was doing is completely lost to me. In all likelihood, he probably was doing to pee pee dance.

“Do you want to pee in the sink?”, I asked him.

“UH HUH” he replied.

So I helped him out with a kitchen chair and he mortared himself so he would have full range of the kitchen sink and hey presto! The kid managed to have a dry evening. We didn’t make a habit of this and quickly transitioned him to peeing in the toilet by the end of the week.

Middle Child was no different from Eldest Child when it came to pooping. Again, maybe it had to do with the fact that it was a weird and potentially horrible smelling sensation for a miniature human to go through. I have no clue what their problems were. But when it came to pooping in his pants, Middle Child didn’t give a fuck. 

Unlike his older sister, Middle Child doesn’t have a catastrophic poo story attached to his legend. However, I do remember him being a bit of a magician when it came to him and his poo.

Many times, I’d poke my head in the bedroom he shared with his sister and he’d be standing there, next to his toy train table, watching Thomas the Train in his underoos (which would be sullied by the bulky, brown tail he had grown between my previous and current check ups).

Other times, he’d just hide it. Literally, he’d remove said poo from Under the train table, under the bed, didn’t matter: Why he never just put it in the toilet is beyond me.

Things got to the point between Middle Child and his mother where he was forced to use the potty one evening. There was no “laying of hands” on anyone. Wife said, “YOU’RE NOT DOING ANYTHING UNTIL YOU POOP IN THE POTTY”. Or something to that effect.

Credit must be given to Middle Child as he hung in there for better part of any hour. Eventually, he realized that his mother would not be swayed and there was nothing that Dad (me) could do about it. So, he pooped in the potty. And then had a minor freak out as he could not feel his legs.

Thus concludes another episode that supports my claim that anything you can read in a book about child-rearing will be ripped asunder when you eventually get a child of your own.

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The Horrors of Potty Training (Part 1 of 3).

Throughout the early years of my children’s stay on this Earth, I have ably concluded that there is absolutely no good way to teach a tea-cup human (read: child) to shit in a hole (read: bucket, toilet, box, hole, etc.). Read as many books as you want on the subject. Listen to your mother’s advice. Listen to the advice of your friends who have gone through it with their own kids. Get up on that internet and get your google-fu working.

I guaran-fucking-tee that whatever plan you settle on, your wiggle worm will shit all over it and make you feel stupid in the process. 

I humbly submit to you part one of my three regarding how children learned to use the toilet. Caveat Emptor: what follows is the general idea of what happened. I may get a detail or two confused given that:

  1. I was a member of the workforce during the times that the first two children were potty trained.
  2. Dealing with other people’s shit (even if you made that person) is fucking disgusting.

From what I can remember, Eldest Child had a lot of encouragement when it came to the potty training. Mom had read books on the subject and is the type of person that can be counted on when it came to due diligence on a given subject. Potty chairs and potty seats were utilized as well.

Additionally, at any given time, Eldest Child had myself and her mother (no, Eldest Child biologically isn’t my child, I’ll write about that eventually), her daycare provider (both her mother and I were working full time) she had her father’s family, my family, and my wife’s mother (Eldest Child’s grandmother) all telling her the wonders of pooping on the potty.

For the most part, Eldest Child was pretty good about it. From what I can remember, peeing was a breeze for her. Pooping, on the other hand, was a bit of a challenge. I guess it had to do with the fact that she was a girl and girls have a natural aversion to smelly things coming out of their backside. Youngest child was the same way to some extent.

Hell, maybe she thought it was concentrated evil coming out of there. Kids have tiny brains, it’s plausible. 

The last full blown accident I remember Eldest Child having occurred right before we moved out of our first apartment.

Her mother and I were retail employees. Given the volatility of that line of work, having a set schedule was near to impossible. However, I had just started a job that did have a set schedule (for the time being) so that allowed me to be the person who was home when it was time for the daycare provider to drop off Eldest Child.

The routine was: I would be the first one home. I’d then receive Eldest Child, give her about 20 minutes to get used to being at home, then I would put her down for her afternoon nap so I could unwind after a day of work.

One day, Eldest Child was a tad more persnickety than usual. I didn’t think too much of it as I was dead on my feet from training. I knew that she would be outgrowing the nap phase soon, I just didn’t want it to be that day. As such, I put on some Strawberry Shortcake in her bedroom and closed the door behind me.

20 minutes had gone by before I had started to hear movement again.

The tossing and turning of bed coverings. The thumpty-thump of little feet trying to ninja despite the fact that they didn’t really know what a ninja was. The rustle of paper. 

That’s what I heard for 10 minutes. Then she tried to open the door. 

She tried really hard to open the door for a solid three minutes. I was on the other side of that door and down the hall trying to figure out what in the fuck was going on in there.

Then she knocked. 

I might come off as a dick in my writings but I was polite enough to come down the hall and open the door for her.

Oh, what a sight spread out before me!

There was shit everywhere. 

On the bed. On most of the floor. All over her (for the most part). Remember when I said she had trouble opening the doors? Yeah, that’s because her hands were covered with shit and the doorknob kept slipping.

I don’t recall what was said between the two of us. However, Eldest Child was like a new kid. That persnickety-ness she came home with? Apparently it was concentrated evil that needed to be exorcised.

I spent the rest of my afternoon cleaning the beshatted child and bedroom. After that incident it was relatively smooth sailing of the sea of the potty trained for Eldest Child.

As you can see, no amount of training, encouragement, or book learning can prepare you for the day your child will Jackson Pollack their underoo’s on a Hiroshima level. 

Come back tomorrow for how potty training went with Middle Child (aka The Boy).

More on Babies. Or, You Get Just As Cranky When You Have the ‘Bubble Guts’.

In keeping with the recent influx of people I know having babies, I recently wrote something for someone on colic. So I figured, ‘Why the not build on it here?’. So I did.

As I mentioned the other day, if your people reading skills have been lacking, having a child is going to sharpen them to a razor edge. It’s perfectly normal to be on tenterhooks when you bring your little wiggle worm home. Hopefully, you had gotten your shit together and baby proofed accordingly and figured all that you needed to figure out ahead of time.

Be fore warned: the day is going to come when that little bundle of joy is going to cry. Nonstop. It will transform before your very eyes from said bundle of joy into a shapeless vacuum that exists off of the sleep your supposed to get and what’s left of your sanity.

The ‘Honeymoon’ Will Be Ending Shortly.

As I have been alluding to, it may seem like the only things a baby can do is sleep, inhale food, make messes, and cry. Babies are like icebergs: there is a lot more going on under the surface. I humbly submit to you the following points:

  • The differences between the ‘I’m hungry’ cry, the ‘I’m tired’ cry, or the ‘You’re going to have to clean up a horrible mess in a minute’ cry. Yep, they communicate like wolves.
  • The reason that they throw stuff on the floor from the high chair isn’t to annoy you: they want to know what sound it makes.
  • The logic behind everything going into their mouth is in a roundabout way how they gather information (and build their palettes).

Re-read points two and three: Bet you didn’t know the little fuckers were scientists, right? As they make the jump from formula (or breast milk) to food, that’s when it happens: that’s when you, as a parent, ENTER THE VOID.

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Ever eat something that didn’t agree with you? Ever have a meal ‘cheat’ day that went complete batshit off the rails and then wonder the next day why in the fuck you can’t make a deposit and the Local Bank of Your Toilet?

It’s the same principle. Babies get the bubble guts because their gut-system is still in the ‘install’ phase.

There is something that you can do.

You Gotta Rub That Shit Out. 

That’s right: Rub their bellies. Fuck, still having trouble after that cheat day? Rub your own damn belly. It. Works. 

Not only does Infant massage using moderate pressure help with colic and gas, but it has also been documented that preterm babies benefitted from this practice through increased weight gain, bone density, and overall behavior.

Dad, feeling left out because you ain’t got the boobs your kid wants? Get up on that belly rubbin’!

The good thing about infant massage is that you can start the practice as soon as the child is three days old and you can do it up to four times a day for two weeks. Just don’t do it right after a meal and pay attention to how the kid acts: sometimes they just don’t want to get rubbed on. 

How To Rub Your Baby.

First things, first: make sure that there isn’t any sort of loud shenanigans going on in your home. If it’s distracting to you, it’s going to be distracting to the kid. Then make sure that you’re comfortable when you sit down with them. Again, if you aren’t comfy, they won’t be either. 

Prior to first contact, it’s just like giving your boo a rub down: clip the nails, take off the jewelry, warm up the hands, maybe get the massage oil. The only difference between rubbing your boo and rubbing your baby is that you all ready got the end result of what you were hoping to get prior to the last rub down. (Sickos).

Lay the kid on their back so eye contact can be maintained.

When massaging, use slow, firm, and gentle belly rubs, in a clockwise motion. This is important because it follows the direction of your baby’s intestines. It also moves any trapped farts and baby shit. (You lucky dawg).

In the end, even if massaging doesn’t ease your baby’s colic, don’t be afraid to set the kid down in their crib and walk away. There’s only so much that you can do before you become one of those parents who are freaking the fuck out because the kid is crying and won’t stop. Kids cry. It’s what they do.

P.S.

Our kids still complain about tummy aches to us to this day. Like we’re wizards and all we have to do is wave our magic wands and POOF your belly ache is dispelled in that rotten egg fart that was the culprit to begin with.

As a result of such a complaint, we make fun of said offending child. Why? BECAUSE WE FUCKING TOLD THEM THAT BELLY ACHES ARE OUT OF THE RANGE OF OUR SCOPE OF DUTIES. Ad fucking naseum. As you can see, I’m not a monster: I’m entitled. There’s a difference. 

Randomness about babies.

The only foreseeable downside about starting this blog when I did is the fact that my kids aren’t babies anymore. They are growing children hurtling towards adulthood. Because of that, I tend to focus more on the now of parenting instead of the how it was.

Be that as it may, a bunch of people in my life have had babies of their own over the past four months. In honor of those occasions, I present to thee a really random list of baby related knowledge that I have gleaned over the years.

  1. When it comes to naming the kid, think about how they will respond to the name you’ve christened them with when they are 60. If you name your daughter Talulah Belle and she makes it to 60, there’s a strong possibility that she’s going to be a complete fruitcake from all of the shit that she’s caught over the years because you thought her moniker sounded pretty.
  2. Guys, when your wife (or baby-mama) is pregnant you need to treat her like the fate of the world relies on her having an easy 9 months. Because in reality, the fate of your world really does rely on that. If she’s not one to be fussed over, don’t sweat it. Just do what you can. If you’re one of those guys that doesn’t want to accept that having a kid is going to change everything, consider this: how you act now (at the gestation stage of your spawn) is going to cast a very long shadow over the rest of your natural life. Long story short? If mom has an easy nine months because you’ve been her point person, everything else ought to fall into line.
  3. Also, guys, in the event of an unplanned pregnancy, what the woman decides is law. If she wants to have it without you, you need to be an adult and tell her how that makes you feel. If she wants to start a family with you, and you aren’t ready, you need to be up front with her. If she doesn’t want the baby at all and is planning on aborting, you need to be the bridge that gets her to the other side of that. What you believe in doesn’t matter: it’s her fucking body.
  4. Before the child is born, YOU MUST COORDINATE ACCORDINGLY (read: be prepared). Make a plan with your significant other about how the 2am feedings should be handled. Figure out where the crib is going to be. If it’s your first kid (and her second) you still are entitled to have a baby shower. Baby showers (while weird because it’s a bunch of women and the father) are fucking fantastic because you’ll be around family members you haven’t seen in years and they’ll be handing you shit you’re going to need the day the stork arrives. In the months leading up to my son being born, I made a point of buying one thing a week that we might need. Toys, books, clothes, whatever. It adds up. When we brought him home, he was ‘comfortable’.
  5. Get it in your head now: YOU’RE LIVING FOR SOMEONE ELSE NOW, NOT YOURSELF. Everything you do, even if it is taking care of yourself, is now a means to (hopefully) a happy and healthy life for your child(ren). I’m of the opinion that families fail when one or both of the parents can’t accept this.
  6. Kids thrive when there is a routine in place. The day starts at the same time every day and ends at the same time everyday. Meals are served as close to the same time as you can get them (shit happens we all know that, so don’t sweat it if the meal times are going to be off every now and again). Nap time happens at the same time everyday. And yes, they need to be cleaned every fucking day. Wiggle worms telegraph like a punch drunk boxer. You can tell what kind of day you’re going to have by breakfast if you are fairly decent at reading people. If you’re not, you need to fix that shit. Don’t know how? Talk less and listen more. That’s all you have to do.
  7. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD DON’T BE A PARENT WHO ENCOURAGES BABY TALK!  Firstly, you look and sound like an asshole when you do it. Secondly, this is the number one reason why kids have trouble when it comes to language acquisition. When you encourage improper grammar and pronunciation, the kid thinks its proper. It’s that simple. Lastly, the more you talk to the kid (regardless of their age), the easier it will be for them to communicate. Also, if you keep talking to them, they’ll keep talking to you when it matters (teenager-dom and onward).
  8. Additionally, kids, regardless of age need to feel like their opinion matters. That’s right: you need to listen to the little shits too. Yes, even babies. You might think that all they are doing is making noise because they can but I have always been of the opinion the noises mean something. Yes, you will feel stupid. However if you approach it like a rational conversation, it will pay off. I have prided myself on having one on one time with all three of my kids where I just let them ramble and it has always paid off. They are always secure in the fact that they can say anything to me even if it is fucked up. Granted if it is fucked up, or if it has to do with a larger problem, you need to let their mother know.
  9. Playtime and interaction with the child at ‘the baby stage’ is crucial. Everything that happens to them those first couple of months, is new and exciting for them. I’m sure you’re thinking “Thanks: I’ll file that under No Shit Sherlock. What most people don’t really express is that playtime tires the little motherfuckers out. Want junior to hit nap time/bedtime like they were running a marathon? Then you need to make it happen. Case in point: A million years ago, it was just me and my eldest child at the house. She was about two years old and she was being a little fucker for most of the morning because of who knows why. Her nap time came right after lunch (because everyone, EVERYONE wants to nap after having a big, delicious-ish meal. NUDGE NUDGE WINK WINK new parents). So I figured if I keep her going with the playtime up until lunch and then after lunch we go for a walk around the neighborhood, nap time ought to be a cinch. Everything proceeds according to plan. When we go for the walk, she’s whining almost immediately. I pay her no mind and we keep walking. At that age, she was a runner. Naturally, I made a point of holding hands so she doesn’t get any ideas. We make it down to the end of our streets and she shuts up. We get to the next block, parallel with our house and I feel my entire arm move like a whip crack. I look at my shoulder and follow the trail of my arm down to my hand that’s holding the hand of my eldest and I see that she’s looking down. Naturally, I’m thinking she’s tripped on a loose shoelace. I go in for a closer look, she’s snoring. Little shit must of been walking whilst asleep.

DID I NEGLECT SOMETHING? SALLY FORTH IN THE COMMENTS AND I’LL ADD IT TO THE LIST!