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. 

Getting kids to do things: putting away clothes

Any parent, let alone a stay-at-home Dad, needs to be a good communicator. You need to know what to say and when to say it.

Let me set the stage for you: 3 years ago one of the things that I have struggled with up until a couple of months ago, was getting my oldest daughter (who was 7 going on 40 at the time) to put away her clothes properly. This had been something that was a sore point for both me and my wife since we started having our daughter put away her clothes. (She was 5 when we started this agonizing process.)

Both together and on our own, my wife and I had taken the time to point out what article of clothing should be put away ‘where’ and what should be hung up on a hanger as opposed to what we were ok with being folded and put away in a drawer.

Our daughter speaks English. She’s not blind. There’s nothing holding her back from doing all of the normal, physical things that 7-year-old children do. She just chose not to put away her clothes the right way most of the time.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s been able to do it right the first time every so often but for the most part, she would do everything in her power to do it the wrong way. I would find dresses balled up behind her desk, underwear stashed underneath the bathroom sink… My personal favorites were the multiple times when she would cram everything that needed to be folded into one bin.

We’ve taken stuff away. We’ve threatened with grounding. We’ve made her do it over and over and over again. Then we thought we were doing something wrong. So we (my wife and I) and reevaluated our daughters clothing arrangements and made it ‘idiot proof’. Nothing was working. We had gotten to the point where we thought what might be considered effective, might not be appropriate.

It was after the last ‘idiot-proofing’ (what you see in the following picture) that my wife and I had our last straw. It was more of the same thing. Clothes stashed, knickers hidden, dresses barely on the hanger in the first place.

While my wife was ripping apart our daughters closet again, I calmly and severely reminded our child of the last room that she occupied. Prior to living where we are now, our daughter had to share a room with her younger brother (he’s 4 now) and her younger sister (she’s 2 now). It was a small room, taken up mainly by a bunk bed and crib that she, our eldest daughter, was in charge of keeping neat and tidy. It was something that she was able to do with great ease as the 3 of them only had a handful of personal belongings in it.

I told her quite plainly that it would be the same situation. Only now, it would be the 3 of them all in one room, with 3 separate beds, and all of their possessions. And she would be in charge of cleaning all of it. Regardless of ‘who’ made ‘what’ mess.

She understood me quite clearly and has long been aware of the fact that I never bluff. Her closet along with her room has never been a problem since.

Getting Your Kid to Shed Their Training Wheels.

That’s not a metaphor. I’m being literal.

When it comes to teaching a kid to ride their bike, I have found that the only thing that will help you (and your child) is having a healthy understanding of your child’s personality (Are they an adventuresome hooligan? Or are they someone you’ll eventually have to kick out of your house when they hit they’re late 20’s?), consistency (NO! YOU AND JUNIOR CANNOT TAKE A DAY OFF FROM LEARNING HOW TO RIDE!), repetition (See previous parenthetical) AND ONE, METRIC FUCK-TON OF PATIENCE.

Preamble.

When it comes to determining your approach to getting your kid road-ready, you need to be a bit choosy about the method that you adopt.

Some people will tell you to take away one of their training wheels (like how I learned) so they can work on finding their center of balance. The only foreseeable problem with this is that you run the risk of your kid milking the fuck out of jettisoning the last training wheel. I have vague recollections of doing this when I was this age and I sure as shit remember my son pulling this on me as well.

Other people will tell you to fuck all that. They’ll tell you to take the kid (and the bike…) for a drive to the nearest hill. Then they’ll tell you to pitch both training wheels, give the kid a speech about learning to ‘nut-up’, and then assemble kid on top of bike and pitch them screeching down the hill. Here’s the problem with this method: Most kids aren’t dumb enough to fall for this. They also have large and long memory banks. In the event that they do take the bait, they will kill you in your sleep when they are 16 because of the time you told them to ‘nut-up’ right before they got a compound fracture because you were being an asshole. 

Then there are those of you out there who like tools and gimmicks like ‘coasting bikes’ (No shit: I have seen infomercials selling a training bike that  doesn’t have any pedals. It’s basically a scooter minus the ‘standing bit’. Seriously, why waste the money when you can just take the pedals of off your Tater-Tots trike??? )  or those bikes ‘half-bikes’ that attach to the parent’s bike (I’m assuming the purpose of those is so the kid can get an idea of what bike riding is?).

What My Kids Put Me Through When I Taught Them How to Ride.

I don’t believe that there is a ‘right’ or ‘correct’ way to teach your kid how to ride their bike.

When the eldest was learning how to ride, I was working all of the time so I missed out on that. With the youngest (and smartest of the three) I barely had to do anything. There wasn’t any one training wheel stuff or removing her pedals so she can learn how to coast. All I had to do was go out there with her and give her a shove every so often until she got the hang of it. The middle child, he was such a glorious pain in the ass about learning how to ride his bike. 

For the record, my son’s personality has always been that of a little old man. To wit, he knows what he likes as well as doesn’t like, and he fucking hates change. (I’m the same way to a degree).

I took off one training wheel, I removed the pedals and taught him how to coast, I put the pedals back on (but not the training wheels) and I spent a lot of time walking around our neighbor hunched over from being ordered (by my progeny) to not let go of his handlebars while we did our lap around the block.

Eventually I won this battle. The day came when he acknowledged that he didn’t need me as much when it came to riding his bike. In order to ensure this concession, I told him (in so many words) that if we were to leave the house on foot, he had to ride his bike.

What the ‘Learning How to Ride a Bike’ Resources Are Lacking.

The most important thing you can teach your kid about riding their bike is how to fall off of it and not get hurt. 

Some, if not all bike riding resources available to parents seem to skimp on the fact that your Tater Tot will fall down and go boom when they are first starting out. While that’s not helpful at all, it’s also not surprising. Kid’s don’t like getting hurt anymore than their asshole parents do. 

What worked the best for me when I was teaching the boy how to ride was figuring out which foot was his dominate foot and then lowering his seat all the way down. If their seat is as low as it can go, then you are basically minimizing their chances of injury (a selling point in the event that your kid is being a bit of a pussy about the whole thing…) and if you know what foot is the dominate foot, then you also know which foot they are more likely to use in order to avoid doing a face plant.

In Conclusion.

Don’t be one of those assholes who makes a fuss every time your Tot falls down and gets hurt. Yes, you should show some concern. But it shouldn’t go any further than that.

In the event that you are one of those parents who fusses every time your kid gets hurt: Nice going asshole! You’re setting a bad example!

The only thing that a kid gets from a parent who fusses every time said kid falls down and goes boom is the idea that physical pain is something to be feared and in some instances it can be used to get attention from the parent. No, kids don’t articulate it exactly like that, but it’s the truth.

People get hurt. Old, young, poor health, good health: the sooner you teach your kid that, the sooner they’ll accept it and make it a part of their life.

In the end, what will work for both you and your soon to be bike rider is consistency, repetition, AND A FUCKTON OF PATIENCE. The more patience the both of you have, the easier it will be. 

When my kids learn to drive.

Today’s child doesn’t really understand that driving an automobile used to be a privilege. Given the commonality of cars these days, who can blame them?

One of the things that grows from this commonality is a new level of impatience. People in general seldom drive for pleasure like they used to and when they do drive, their fellow drivers aren’t going fast enough to suit their needs. As a result of this impatience, car accidents happen more frequently. If you need evidence, google ‘auto detailers near me‘.

 When privilege become expectation.

The last automobile accident I was in happened when I was 14. My father was driving. I was in the front passenger seat. We had just crossed a major intersection on a two-lane road that our neighborhood was built around. Approaching us was a long line of cars, at least 5 deep.

I don’t remember what the holdup was for the oncoming traffic.

It could have been some old bitty, nothing but two hands on the steering wheel and a faint wisp of purplish white hair where the face should have been. I never knew. I was staring out the window, bored, like everyone normally is at that age.

My father’s attempts at bonding with me usually culminated in long car rides. Presumably this was due to the fact that it’s awfully hard for someone in their teens to ignore the person behind the wheel given the fact that the person behind the wheel is in total control of the environment.

As we began to pass the cars, that’s when I heard my father swear. At that age, I had heard my father swear before but this time, there was a hint of helplessness to it.

“You fucker“. 

I looked up at him and then through the windshield. Another car from the back of the throng was hurtling towards us. Neither of us were wearing seat belts.

Avoidance wasn’t an option.

The oncoming car didn’t have the chance to accelerate fast enough to do any real damage to us. The only souvenir my father had from that event was a knot high on his forehead and a totaled car. I had managed to escape with some bruises and some cuts on my hands because I was fast enough to put them up to protect myself from the windshield.

When my kids learn to drive.

Every kid expects their parent to teach them how to drive. With how common cars are and how glorified they are (The Fast and Furious franchise), it’s basically in their DNA by now. The idea of control, the controlling of a vehicle, of the fact that you are in charge of a destination hits all of the really gushy parts of their little lizard brains.

I’m not looking forward to the days when I have to teach my shit-heads what it really means to be behind the wheel of an automobile.

It’s not because I think that all kids (even mine) are dumb and reckless. It’s because I don’t want to ponder how they might feel or react to their fellow drivers who could potentially be less than courteous. It’s because, if they get into an accident (which might happen) that it won’t be due to the fact that they were being careless. And, it’s because I can only hope they will have the balls to call me when they know that they are too fucked up to drive. 

The bottom line is that other drivers, even you, dear reader, and even me, are assholes. The thing that I have been driving into my children’s brains since they have been able to interpersonally relate to people outside of the family, is that you can’t change an asshole: you can only give them a wide berth. 

 

A Question of Ethics.

One.

I thought we were fucked for sure.

It was the weekend and we were on our way home from grocery shopping. I was driving; my son and my youngest daughter were in the backseats. We went to the grocery store the same way every time and we came home from the grocery store the same way every time.

The path we took was by way of a main road that had a speed limit of 35 miles per hour. It traversed a relatively residential area that was perforated here and there with schools, an office park, and wooded areas.

The wooded areas weren’t substantial. They always struck me as aesthetic choices made by the developers to give the people in the neighborhood something better to look at other than the house next to them.

As I was driving, I saw this “thing” burst out of a line of bushes by the office park. These bushes were roughly 60 feet ahead of me and lined “the slow lane”.

I was driving in the “slow lane”.

I have had this type of thing happen to me before: I get behind the wheel and I’ll see something familiar happen outside of the car or I’ll pass by something familiar but it takes my brain a couple of seconds to catch up. I blame the hypnotic nature of driving. The wheels rolling on the road, the sound of traffic outside of the car, the chatter from your passengers or the radio: It’s a perfect recipe for letting your mind wander.

“What the hell is that?” I said.

Initially, I thought it was a dog. Someone’s dog had made a jailbreak, found it’s way to the office park and then got spooked. As we got progressively closer, I see that it’s too big to be a dog and it’s moving way too fast.

Our car is still cruising at 35 MPH. Two seconds later my brain finally catches up with my eyes. It’s a deer. It’s coming straight for us and I know that this is going to be a bad car accident.

(At this point in time I was 33 years old. I have been a licensed driver since I was 17. At no point have I been in a car accident where I was behind the wheel. Not to mention, I wouldn’t know what in the hell to do if that was the case).

I blink really hard just to make sure that I wasn’t seeing things. It didn’t do any good: there’s still a deer on the same trajectory, muscles rippling, flying at us in full gallop.

I had a car next to me, a car behind me and a car behind the car that was next to me. There’s no way out of this.

Two.

Our responsibilities as humans to other species are hopelessly bogged down in what you believe ethically.

Case in point: it has been common practice in Afghanistan to have surgeons train on pigs. These aren’t the fetal pigs that we all had to deal with in Biology 101. These are live pigs. After intentionally wounding the pig, the pig is brought to the surgeon and the surgeon patches it up. The reasoning is that if the surgeon is able to stabilize the pig’s condition and patch it up successfully, then soldiers as well as the Afghan people will benefit (Rosenthal, 2007).

There seems to be two schools of thought with regards to the ethical responsibilities of animals: human centered ethics and life centered ethics.

With human centered ethics it’s really a case of ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander’. Hence, intentionally wounding Ms. Piggy. Additionally, human centered ethics bolsters it’s way of thinking by proposing that it’s our responsibility to care for the world (even through ambiguous means) so that our preservation is galvanized.

Conversely, life centered ethics proposes that everything (yes, everything) has a right to life. Even bugs (Environmental Ethics, 2008). While this may seem a bit odd and silly, it should be taken into consideration that it is a part of human nature to dominate our environment. Even if it is in a small way, consciously or unconsciously.

As it can be seen, not only do our ethical responsibilities rely on what we believe; they also rely on where we draw the line.

Three.

I slowed down as much as I could. Just when impact seemed imminent, the deer broke hard to it’s right and crashed head first into the car that was next to me. The pin-wheeling mass of flesh landed directly in front of my car in a twitching heap.

The worst thing about the whole situation wasn’t having to explain to my kids that they don’t save deer in this situation; it was the awkward sixty-seconds that passed before I realized that the person with whom the deer collided was only going to drive off.

I was agog.

A deer crashes into your car and you’re just going to drive off?

I’m sure that it is a hell of a thing to have happen to someone. Maybe this person didn’t have their cell phone on them. Maybe they didn’t have the faintest idea of what to do when you hit a deer. Their departure from the scene of the accident is understandable to a degree.

The people in the other car were headed the same way my children and I were headed. I knew that I couldn’t sit there and hold up traffic. Something had to be done.

After getting their license plate number, I pulled into the first parking lot that I could find to gather my wits.

Animals get hit by cars all of the time. It’s intense to see a living thing get taken out by a man made object and have it slowly die in front of you.

I knew I needed to be responsible. How would I feel 30 years from now when my son is my age and he brings this up as one of his earliest memories and I didn’t do anything? 

(For the record, he brought it up a month ago).

I called the cops. I told them what had happened. I told them where it had happened and I told them, in essence who was responsible for it.

Don’t get the wrong idea: I’m not the “deer police” nor am I an animal rights activist. I am a man that saw something happen that most people won’t see nor will they have happen to them. As a responsible adult and a responsible father I needed to draw the line and show my kids the difference between humans and animals.

Sources Consulted

Rosenthal, Susan. (2007). Animal Rights or Human Responsibilities. Retrieved from http://susanrosenthal.com/articles/animal-rights-or-human-responsibilities

Environmental Ethics. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.itstheplanet.co.uk/environmental_ethics.html

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).

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!

In Which I Voice a Very Unpopular Opinion

Tamir Rice’s family, the ‘Black Lives Matter’ people, the ‘All Lives Matter’ people, the PR People for the Cleveland Police, Cleveland Media Outlets… well, everyone still talking about the entire situation, really need to shut their stupid mouths. 

While it may seem like a harsh sentiment to put into print, stay with me: I do have a point.

Fact 1

I am a Cleveland native. Up until two years ago, I lived in that city my entire life.

My father was a Cleveland Police officer for 32 years. While he has been dead and gone for over a decade, and he had been fortunate enough to spend majority of his career in relative quiet, what he did not anticipate about his choice of employment is the impression that he left on his family with respect to the ‘policeman’s life’.

I’m not saying that I’m an expert on police behavior. What I am saying is that I have a better understanding of what being a police officer does to a person. This is a perspective that most, if not all, media outlets fail to acknowledge, let alone recognize.

With respect to what policing over any length of time will do to a man or woman, what everyone disregards is the simple idea that being a member of law enforcement will change a person in ways that they didn’t think were possible.

Any member of law enforcement has a front row seat to people at their worst. If they are not prepared for this change, it will change them for the worse. If they aren’t prepared for that kind of change, they won’t be the picture of the person that they were. Instead, they’ll be the image of that person left on the negative.

My father wasn’t any exception to this. His career started in the 1960’s and ended in the early to mid 1990’s. He started like everyone else (as a patrolman), spent time as a homicide cop, and ended his career in SIU (booking and fingerprinting).

According to my mother being a police officer made him jaded.

Understandably so. During his career he experienced the Hough Riots, the fallout from Danny Greene and all of the associated Mafioso, the homicide rate alone… Cleveland was not the place it is today.

Fact two

I know the neighborhood where Tamir was killed rather well. 

While that area, as well as other parts of Cleveland have been riding the urban renewal train (and have been making progress, albeit incrementally) that area is fucked up.

Cleveland, like most modern metropoli, is built out of neighborhoods that belong to certain ethnicities. (When I use the word ‘belong’ I’m not implying any sort of racial connotation. Although that’s exactly what it is: Hough, Fairfax, and East Cleveland, are largely African American, West and Southern Cleveland are largely European…).

When I was growing up, the further away from Downtown you lived, the better off you and your family were (economically speaking). In some respects, it’s still like that today.

Fact Two-A

Around the turn of the 20th century, if you had a job in Cleveland, it  was undoubtedly somewhere Downtown. Because of that, the first neighborhoods that popped up were established around the center of the city. These neighborhoods still stand today. However, if you were to drive through some the less gentrified ones, you would:

  1. Lock your car door regardless of what skin tone you possess.
  2. Immediately notice how close the homes are to each other. Close, as in, they are single family homes that practically share walls with the neighboring homes.

These neighborhoods were erected when everyone knew everyone else. All of the kids went to the same school. Everyone’s father worked downtown and everyone’s mother knew everyone else’s mother.

As time went on, suburbs like West Park, Fairview, and North Olmsted were established presumably in an effort to give people a quieter sense of community. What  unintentionally happened was that the growth of these suburbs eliminated the need to seek employment in Downtown Cleveland. As a result of this, people moved out of the old neighborhood in an effort to look for a better place to live while giving their children more opportunities for advancement.

As a further result of this, the first neighborhoods that popped up around the city went into a state of decline. Homes once populated by ‘old world’ families became vacant because the kids moved away and the parents were too old to keep up with repairs. Those houses were torn down or stood vacant. Other homes became low rent housing that attracted ne’er-do-wells of all colors.

One neighborhood that fits this bill and is still waiting for gentrification to strike is the neighborhood where Tamir was killed.

Fact Three

There’s absolutely no denying that Officer Lehmann fucked up bad. A few days after the story broke, the footage of the incident was released and there was denying it: this kid was murdered and the CPD tried to justify it.

Police corruption happens. This isn’t anything completely new or out of the ordinary.

What made this the positively catastrophic situation that it is, is the fact that it was one in a series of events where a white police officer had assaulted, and even murdered, an African American.

Because of this fact, popular media outlets latched on to the story and the surface details like a plecostomus catfish, shouting to anyone within earshot about police brutality and the rise of racism in America. 

As if racism had ever went away in the first place. 

Fact Three-A

If you were to do a quick Wikipedia search of the Civil Rights Movement, you can see that the movement started in the 1950’s and essentially ended around 1984.

At that time, equality had been reached but not fully achieved and the world at large had generally taken the necessary steps to move on with their lives. This generally came in the form of accepting that people who have a different skin tone aren’t that much different from yourself.

What’s not touched upon when the topic of Civil Rights comes up is that the only thing that changed throughout the course of the Movement was that it become socially unacceptable to say ‘racist’ things in public.

Fact Four

Admittedly, I hadn’t been paying close attention to all of the demonstrations and protests that had been happening in Cleveland shortly after Tamir was killed. I know it’s petty but the majority of the protestors and demonstrators pictured appeared to be childless children, or young people in their 20’s.

When I saw all of those young faces, the thought I had then, which is the thought I still have now, is how can you protest something that you obviously haven’t lived long enough to experience? Yes, it is great that people took to the streets to point their collective finger at corruption, but if you haven’t experienced any form of racism first hand, be it by the hand of a cop, or the hand of someone that you could call peer, do you fit as a part of the mob? Or should you go back to your mother’s basement.

Maybe I’m just being old. I know that you’re supposed to be an asshole at that age. You’re supposed to think that your opinion matters and that you’ll eventually change the world. It is my sincere hope that every one of those kids who took to the streets of Cleveland will get to that point in their lives when they realize that the most powerful act of change that they can invoke in any situation is to just be nice.

Fact Five

Like most people, what renewed my interest in this matter was the fact that neither officer was prosecuted. The released security footage of the entire incident, the fact that the officer’s involved covered it up, and the additional fact that the offending officer had falsified his application to the police department… I’m still scratching my head over the matter.

Then a thought struck me: If the cops beat the charges, there has to be something that I wasn’t aware of.

There would appear to be a lot that I wasn’t actually aware of.

Samaria, Tamir’s mother had been convicted of drug trafficking. Tamir’s father, Leonard, has been convicted numerous times of domestic abuse. Additionally, Samaria has been the victim of domestic violence not only by Tamir’s father but also by other boyfriends after the fact.

For the record, the above items came out shortly after the shooting. As best as I can understand, these facts were dismissed from public view because they were written off as character assassination.

Regardless, it begs the question: If Tamir had witnessed any of this, of his mother dealing drugs, of his father beating his mother (or his mother’s boyfriends beating her) would he have known better than to point a toy gun that looked like a real gun at random people? Probably not.

In Sum

As a parent, there are a lot of unanswered questions that still bother me about this tale of woe. 

What was the mother doing? Why didn’t the sister tell Tamir to knock that shit off? Was he playing by himself? Or with a group of friends? Was he harassing people at the park or just pointing the gun at them? If the park was across the street from the house couldn’t the mother her see what was going on?

In all likelihood, I won’t have any of these questions answered. The world will keep turning, and the majority of the people that I share air with, will only be concerned about the surface details. Tamir is gone. No amount of yelling and screaming is going to change this or any of the facts that demonstrate that the CPD dropped the ball.

If anything were to change this, it would be the quiet acknowledgment that everyone has failed. Samaria & Leonard, the sister that was supposed to be watching him, the broken system of law enforcement that is supposed to make everyone feel safe, the demonstrators & the bystanders. In accepting this, maybe we can all take the steps that we need to take in order to just be nicer to each other.