All posts tagged: coping cues

Rainbows and Unicorns

Recently a dear friend told me she reads my blog (13th reader!) and likes it, but…“I could use a few more rainbows and unicorns.” She is sweet. I am not. Well, I can be. But I won’t sanitize my parenting life…because it is HARD, people. Given the choice, I would have another acting gig and make peace with giving 85% of my salary to childcare. (It ain’t for lack of trying. Any casting directors out there reading this?) Admittedly, then I’d complain about being away from my boys so much. Complaining is so satisfying. Aren’t playground conversations all about commiseration? It lets us know we’re not alone. Plus, rainbow and unicorn parenting blogs just annoy me. 1. They make me feel like I’m not creative/energetic/crafty enough, 2. I don’t believe them. I think I’ve made it clear I would take a bullet for both my kids, but being a stay-at-home-dad is not in my DNA. The fact is: my days don’t feel full of rainbows and unicorns. It actually feels like a frantic struggle to …

Potty Control

“Ellison, please don’t put your penis on the dining table.” Since potty-training, Ellison’s “nakedy time” has increased. Can you blame him? We find ourselves saying hilarious things. “Ellison? Did you put your penis in your undies?” is a regular inquiry. Sometimes he answers, “Yes”, when the snake is clearly peeking out of the garden. So potty training went well. For 39 months, we sweated it. In alpha-parent Manhattan, potty training takes on the same competitive comparison as toddlers mastering speech and yoga classes: every other kid seems to be faster than your own. And that might actually be a problem. Non-New Yorkers assured me Ellison was on track. “Calm down. No one goes to college in diapers.” But college and kindergarten are different things. When Ellison was 18 months old, during a particularly pissed-off diaper change, he nodded his assent when I asked, “Do you want to say bye-be diapers?” For three days he peed all over the apartment, only twice on the baby potty. While standing (naked) in front of my partner at the …

3 Logical Arguments About Religious Extremism (for my Toddlers)

(My kids are extremists. About hot chocolate. Hence the pic.) When I was in college (during the era of dial-up and Toad the Wet Sprocket), I took a lot of philosophy classes. This was at the height of political correctness in Boulder, CO, where the students would rather give up beer and bongs than offend with words. Most courses, regardless the title, would include discussions of universal truths; e.g. “What’s absolutely right or wrong?” My professor for Ancient Philosophy argued that the only universal truth (or universal wrong) is: “Rape, purely and solely for the pleasure of the rapist is wrong.” It’s not that we justified murder, burglary, or playing Miley Cyrus songs in public; but in philosophical logic, if one instance disproves an argument, then it’s no longer a universal truth. Example: Killing is wrong (universal truth) A person runs at you with a knife You kill them in self-defense Therefore, killing is not always wrong (no longer a universal truth) Since the horrendous attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris, I’ve thought a lot …

4 of My Mom’s Parenting Traits I Hope to Leave Behind

My mom was the best. And she was doubly amazing for having raised me after my father died when I was 8. She devoted her very being, to me. I’m eternally grateful. Aaaaaand…as with us all, there are a few things I hope to do differently. I’m probably doomed (or blessed) to repeat what I see as mistakes, but are probably in my genetic makeup. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES Mom was perpetually preoccupied with outward appearances,

5 Things I Just Wasn’t Expecting About Parenthood

1. “Granny Hour” Back when Ellison was born, I read (meaning watched the 20-minute bootleg video) of HAPPIEST BABY ON THE BLOCK. I understood the “5 S’s”. But at about six weeks, when he became inconsolably irritated and annoying, my sleep-deprived mind didn’t realize Ellison needed the 5 S’s. I was suffering more than he. A friend told me it was “Granny Hour”. In olden days when we lived in tribal villages, or just villages without cars and YouTube, Granny realized that Daddy needed a drink around 5pm and she’d come over and bounce Junior so that Daddy could get fresh air (into his glass of wine). Nobody told me that

5 Big Sarcastic Thank Yous to the British for Poisoning My Son

We all know what island the imbecilic “Thomas the Train” hails from, and it ain’t Sanibel. It’s the mythic Island of Sodor, somewhere between the coasts of Britain and Braindead. Because of Thomas, we have spent 1.2 million dollars on trains and tracks. And what does my son do after I set up tracks? He places the trains around the track a few inches apart and stares at them. I try to push the $22 wooden blocks around my expertly crafted track, but he screams, “Noooo! Not that one!” Ellison doesn’t play with the trains. He stages them. Thank you, Great Britain, for making my son OCD. Then there’s the Thomas plot lines. In every story,

8 Justifications for Childless Travel

Last February I frantically brain-stormed a last-minute timeshare getaway to warmer climes with the family. It would include our 2-year-old and 10-month-old. My stress over rising airline tickets and dwindling hotel availability prompted my partner to say, “You could just go on your own.” (Disclaimer #1: Getting away for an adult vacation wasn’t feasible. We don’t have family nearby on whom to foist two kids under 2 and we can’t afford 4 days of round-the-clock baby-sitting.) “What?” I sputtered. “Yeah, I mean it’s so much work to take the kids. It’s expensive, it’s a headache, and it’s not relaxing. I’m all about taking my own solo mini-vacation, later. You want to get away more than I do, right now, anyway.” (Disclaimer #2 True. I’d been very full-time daddy for the past couple months.) “So you just go for a couple days.”

8 WAYS MY KIDS’LL NEVER HAVE IT AS GOOD AS I DID…

Processed foods. I ate Mac’n Cheese, Kool-Aid, Fruity Pebbles, Pop Tarts and Fritos. And my kids will only have those on special occasions. Like Haley’s Comet visits. Now we worry about red dye, HFCS, and chemical additives that render food addictive. And we obsess over our kids eating vegetables. Actually, red dye confounds me. But I totally obsess over the veggies. In my childhood, canned creamed corn counted as a vegetable. And I will never serve that to my kids as a vegetable. Unless we’re camping. Actually, they can eat all those foods can be eaten when camping. All bets are off camping. But every day? Sorry guys. You’ll never have it as good as I did. Seat belts. My dad drove a Volvo in the early 80’s. There was a confusing black handle that jutted out from the dashboard. When riding in that car, I’d hold onto the black handle to get myself as close to the front windshield as possible. Occasionally Dad would ask, “Gavin, please sit back and put on your seatbelt.” …

6 Do’s and 3 Don’t’s When Expecting

Some very close friends are expecting babies, right now. Here’s some of my uncommon knowledge for them before their lives are wonderfully destroyed by blessed rugrats… 1. DO sit around playing mindless games on your phone and indulging guilty pleasures. You won’t have time for it ever again. Or if you do, it’ll only be for 17 seconds after you lay in bed, flip on your phone, pretend to “catch up”, and immediately fall asleep. 1. DON’T read any “expecting a baby” books. Trendy, “latest research” factoids muddle your brain. Seek advice from friends, and know that your parents’ example (or your friends’ parents’ examples) will be enough to get you through the first few months. 2. DO buy basic baby gear, but limit the rest. The basics: diapers, food, changing pad, swaddling blankets, sound machine, teething “chew toy”, baby swing, car seat, baby carrier (like bjorn, ergo or moby) and a stroller. That’s all you need, especially at the beginning. Babies have spent their first months in baskets, mangers, drawers and padded boxes for …

First of my “Coping (in style) Cues”

Alright, folks. A new section I’ll call “Coping (in style) Cues”…my formula for how I keep my head above water and lessons I hope to instill in my sons. What gives me the right to dole advice? Eh. It’s my blog. For starters: It’s not a “conversation” if you don’t ask about the other person. Texting is not an appropriate way to apologize to a person or cancel an appointment. Call. (And then send a follow-up text.) The other person probably won’t even answer, anyway. The other person (and your reputation) is worth the effort. Eye contact and a smile (however insincere) go a long way. (Dedicated to the service industry of New York City.) You can never over-thank or over-apologize. (Well, sorry. You can, but that would have to be a seriously excessive amount. But even over-thanking or over-apologizing shows you appreciate the person you’re thanking or to whom you’re apologizing. Sorry about that. Thanks for bearing with me.) Pedestrian traffic is the same as car traffic. Don’t stop in the middle of the …