Nuggets of wisdom and nonsense…

July 13, 2008

I came across some stories I wrote several years ago about the boys and I felt they were worth sharing. When I wrote this, Mack was around five and Cayden may have been three. I would have been smart to date these entries, but to be honest, I never thought I would be posting my tales on the internet. This story covers a lot of the parenting landscape. For instance, the importance of routines, imaginary friends and what it‘s like when you punish an unruly child. For those of you who have been parents for a while, I expect a glint of recognition, maybe a smile and a nod of understanding. For those of you with children on the way or those of you who one day intend on having offspring, pay attention; you may benefit from the insight I am about to provide.

Managing to get two boys fed, bathed and asleep at a respectable time is one of our greatest accomplishments. It took a couple of years to develop a routine which would facilitate this miraculous feat, and to this day we must continuously refine and adapt to maintain a satisfactory outcome. Let me begin at the conclusion of dinner time (meals are a completely different discussion).

When the meal is complete, Connie and I announce that it is time for the nightly wash down. This announcement throws Mack into a panicked frenzy because, due to the routine, he knows that we will soon be attempting to coax him into bed.For some reason children despise the idea of going to sleep, they truly believe that magical things occur after Leno signs off for the evening. I think we, as parents, perpetuate this illusion by means of the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus; all of whom come around well after midnight. Why shouldn’t my kids believe that there is a party going on at 2 in the morning? With guests like those, the “Soul Train conga-line” must be running right through the middle of our living room.

The idea of fighting sleep completely confuses parents who cannot recall the last time they slept more than 3 consecutive hours. In the midst of this confusion, they will attempt to rationalize with their two-year old by asking questions like, “Do you know how happy I would be to go to bed right now?” or “Daddy wishes someone would tell him to take a nap?” or “Do you realize there are kids in China who haven’t slept in months?” (somehow kids in China get pulled into a lot of our discussions on why we should be happy with what we have- not sure why- over the past several years I have replaced China with other locales but it just doesn’t seem as poignant to say that there are kids in New Zealand, etc. I hope I didn’t offend any Chinese people with the reference).

Regardless of your country of choice, right about the time you get into the meat of your argument about the virtues of a good nights sleep, your two-year old will poop his or her pants. It’s a very concise way of telling you that “it is impossible to apply logic in these circumstances. I am two, I poop in my pants and I do not want to sleep, ever”.

Back to our routine…

Upon my wife’s announcement of the upcoming wash down, my oldest strips all of his clothes off and begins to run circles around our home. The youngest who still confined to a high chair begins to fidget because he too wishes to be nude and running laps. Rituals are give and take so I rush through the initial chow wipe down and release Cayden to join his older sibling for laps. While the boys run through our home, in all their naked splendor, my wife and I recover the majority of their meal from the floor and walls and prepare for the next event. It is while prepping for the next event that the “Bad Friend” (Mack’s imaginary evil twin) normally makes his first appearance of the evening. Somewhere in the house, Cayden begins to wail at about the same time a three-foot tall blur of flesh-colored lightning shoots past my wife and I and scrambles behind our overstuffed chair. I go to talk to lightning boy and my wife investigates Cayden’s dismay.

The conversation I have with Mack typically goes like this:

Daddy: “Mack, why is Cayden crying?”

Mack: “I don’t know.”

Daddy: “Hey buddy, you need to tell me what happened or you will have go to your room.”

Mack: “My bad friend pushed him.”

Daddy: “Why would your bad friend push Cayden?”

Mack: “I told him not to Daddy. Don’t worry- I sent him to his room.”

Daddy: “Why don’t you join him for a while, buddy?”

The dynamics resulting from Mackinley’s exile are almost always the same. I take his hand to lead him to his room and he goes completely limp as if his skeleton was made of “Gogurt” and proceeds to falls to the floor. I pick him up and he instantly transforms into a completely stiff three-foot long board, making it almost impossible to negotiate the three and a half foot hallway that leads to his room. His octopus gene activates, additional arms shoot out of his torso, and he clambers to grab a handhold on anything within reach of his eight arms. I get him through his bedroom door, with considerable effort mind you, and then spend 5-minutes trying to close the door, which is nearly impossible because he has attached himself to the door frame and is holding on for dear life. Once I get the door closed and locked (note that I have turned the door knobs around so I can lock the door from the outside), Mack changes gears and begins to scream a wretched bellow that no mortal man should ever have to hear.

Mack’s “I’m mad” roar lies somewhere between an air raid siren and two freight trains colliding in the dead of night. My wife and I have become accustomed to this nightmare and have adopted the ability to ignore it at will, but visiting acquaintances would think the Spanish Inquisition has been reinstituted somewhere down the hall from our living room. If these acquaintances are non-parents, we don’t even attempt to explain the source of the ruckus as they would only say something silly like “Did you speak to the child. Can’t you reason with him?” Sure, genius, reason with him- the child has an imaginary proxy and is convinced that hot dog meat produces super-human strength. Come see me when you have a four-year old. We don’t invite those people back.

In summary:

Routines are critically important.

Children will exhibit schizophrenic behaviors in order to get out of trouble.

Don’t invite non-parents to your home until your kids are in college.

I hope all of you were able to glean these nuggets of wisdom from the paragraphs above.

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Sherri Winstead posted the following on July 13, 2008 at 11:01 pm.

Amen, amen, amen!

And yeah, we don’t invite those people back as well. This holds same for any parent (yes, a parent with children) who can’t learn to love our children despite their “issues” and obstacles they must overcome – some of which brings about behaviors that are not so easy to handle, but we handle them the best way we can…….

Great post Shane!!

admin posted the following on July 15, 2008 at 2:58 am.

Sherri that is a really good point, Me and Connie have known a few of those and we terminate interaction pretty quickly.

Now for a confession, 8+ years ago I may have thought differently, maybe it takes the experience of a few sleepless nights and a lot of trial and error to come to the realization that raising kids is not as easy as some may think. If that’s true I don’t think I’ll hold a grudge with the non-parents; clueless parents on the other hand are completely grudge-worthy.

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