Don’t Concuss at Me

One of the most dangerous things you need to worry about as a parent, is your child. Kids have a seemingly natural tendency to “express their love” by unconventional means. Not all the time. You get the hugs and kisses, sometimes without even asking for them, but there are those times when you also get smacked a little too hard in the back or receive a swift kick to the nuggets. I’m not saying you should feel unsafe at the top of the stairs or at a subway platform when you are alone with a toddler, but I think you should be careful. As a rule. An accident happens by accident so you have to be aware that even your most trusted friend can cause you a great deal of pain without meaning to hurt you.

My junior year was my favorite year of high school. I had a very tight-knit group of friends who would get together frequently. From going out to eat to spending hours hanging out at someone’s home, we had fun doing simple, harmless things. I can only hope our parents took note of that, because even our most wild night was tame. I developed friendships over that year that have stood the test of time. We would never to anything to hurt each other. Right?

Anyone who is familiar with band nerd protocol is probably aware that before school starts, you go hang out in the band room. Over the course of high school, your band mates are the people you see the most, so it makes sense that the people you form such a strong bond with are also the first people you want to talk to as the day begins. Likewise the band folks who drove to school would try and park as close as possible to the band room door, knowing that it would be the door they would use at the beginning and end of the day.

So it was not surprising that as I pulled into a parking spot very close to our special door one morning, I looked over to see two of my very best friends parked in the next spot. Their eyes were closed, listening to some music and patiently waiting for the doors to be unlocked so we could pile in the band room and regale each other with tales of things that had occurred in the 12 hours since we had last seen each other. Clearly I must have had something to talk about that couldn’t wait, because that morning I exited my car and found my way to their driver’s side window. I remember wanting to give my friend in the driver’s seat a bit of a scare, and so as they both sat there with their eyes closed, I took position with my face close to the window, waiting for his eyes to open to my ugly mug inches from his place of rest.

I don’t remember how long I was waiting, but I was willing to put the time in for my little joke. His eyes remained closed, as did his passenger, one of our close female friends. Eventually she opened her eyes and greeted me with a big smile. She began talking, but with their windows up I couldn’t hear a thing from inside. I assume she was going on about how I was right outside the window, and how clever and funny that was of me, and how so many girls in school wanted to go out with me, you know, things like that. He remained sitting with his eyes closed and began to grin in an odd way. Evidently at some point she told him to open his door really quickly. My very good friend, who would go on to be the best man in my wedding party, did not question this idea because…well, because boobs. So in complete trust of her advice, he pushed the door open with as much strength as he could gather at that time in the morning.

And then I don’t remember things that clearly.

I know I was in the band room getting a very concerning talk from my band director about something on my head. Whatever that means. I know I had a similar conversation during my first class because I couldn’t “focus.” Then there was some kind of drama involving my mom coming to school to get me and that I was not to be allowed to sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time. Either way, I got a few very nice phone calls that evening asking if I needed anything. Isn’t that nice?

A similar incident happened over the weekend with Carter.

Carter has a new favorite toy. It’s one of those toys that has an arrow pointing to one of a bunch of different animals, and if you pull the lever on the side you hear something along the lines of, “The cow says, ‘moooooo” You all know the one. A speak and say. Carter decided that when he’s ready to play with it, he would let me know by slamming it down on my lap with a massive smile on his face. The smile is to make sure I’m aware that it’s done in a happy way, not an angry way. Since he has managed to avoid hitting me in the dangle thus far, I have been very tolerant of his method. So all was well and good till this weekend when I was taking a well deserved moment of rest on the couch. William was in a rare mood of actually sitting still to watch some cartoons and Carter was running around playing with whatever struck him in the moment. His sights must have set on his speak and say at some point because I remember seeing the quick flash of a cow and a goat, but it all goes fuzzy afterwards. I know that Melissa said something about a thing on my head, and then she was going on about a doctor’s appointment and something my eyes were doing. I don’t know, it was hard to focus.

It actually reminds me of this time in high school! A really good friend of mine was sitting in his car with this girl. They were listening to the radio in the morning…..

My point is – Be careful out there parents.

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Are We Too Safe?

I feel like I don’t understand many things that seem to have happened over the 14 (yikes) years since I graduated from high school. I know I’ve talked about this before, but times have changed. Every generation has probably said that at some point, but I feel there’s something particularly relevant about that concept these days. The overexposure to people we have gained from social networking sites in addition to the continued wave of hypersensitive parenting styles, have made what I consider to be a larger than average stride between myself and younger crowds.

People have every right in the world to raise their kids in whatever manner they see fit, so long as they are not putting that child directly in harm’s way. The downside of that idea is when a parent makes a decision for their child with every good intention in the world, and it catches on so rapidly that society takes a seemingly harmless idea and forces the world to change around it in a harmful way.

The other day, a friend posted a picture on his facebook page. He, his wife, and their roughly two year old boy had taken some professional family photos. In one of the pictures, he was holding his son upside-down while he and his wife were kissing. Their boy had that kind of kid-smile that is infectious. It was a very sweet picture, but it wasn’t long before comments started flying about holding his child upside-down. How it was very dangerous and to consider what might have happened if he was dropped! Then came the attacks on the two of them as parents, of course from total strangers.

Look, if you as a parent decide that it’s unsafe to toss your child into the air and let them fall into your arms, or lock hands with them and spin around in a circle, or dip your child upside-down, that’s completely your business. Quite frankly, if you hear laughter coming from inside my house during the day I’d caution you to stay out since there’s a pretty high chance something like that is happening right at that moment. A higher level of caution when it comes to your kids does not make you a better parent than someone with a little more flexibility in that area. It also does not guarantee your kids unlimited protection from harm. More so, having an opinion on something doesn’t mean that every needs to bend to your view, and offering your opinion of what is “safe” is not the same as some blind rage comment on how people who differ from your view are wrong.

So what then? Do we need to put bubble wrap over every object in the house? Ban the sale of tables with pointed instead of rounded corners? How long are we going to hear about Steve Irwin’s son feeding crocodiles before we’re able to be okay that he’s someone who is growing up in a zoo with this lifestyle? Interesting to me, as I grew up in Florida just miles away from an entire park where young kids can come face to face with giant alligators for a price. Safety is really a frame of mind. I, for example, feel much more safe in a car than an airplane though statistics tell me planes are the way to go. So how safe are we? Too safe?

Something bugged me during a recent online search for a trampoline. One of William’s favorite movies is the newest “Winnie the Pooh” and while he certainly loves that willy, nilly, silly old bear, Tigger has inspired him to fill moments of his day with bouncing. I’m happy to join in, but that can only last for so long. So I thought, “Hey! He’d bounce for hours on a little trampoline!” A short time into my search I saw this little bundle of joy: http://www.walmart.com/ip/IronKids-Inspiration-250-Fitness-Playground-Metal-Swing-Set/16451443

I love how hard they work to imply that this is not just some fun plaything. It’s a fitness center! Complete with fitness slide! Better still is the level to which they have gone to convince people that it’s safe. You’re basically leaving your child to play with a cloud, while on a cloud. Everything is beautifully soft, rounded, contoured, and padded. There are nets to protect you from swinging too far off course. Best of all, the trampoline has a safety bar! Nothing says, “Have fun kiddo!” like a bar on a trampoline designed to restrict your movement and bounce height. Isn’t that why trampolines like this were invented? No springs to pinch skin, seemingly impossible to hit any part of the frame, and better shock absorption than most off-road vehicles. Still fun? Of course, but look at the cost of all that peace-of-mind.

We spend so much time worrying about our kids. Parents try to teach these little life lessons, but learning to pick yourself up is something often overlooked. For a time, William realized that the threat that he might be hurt would get attention. This led to fake injuries with fake emotional responses, something we then had to learn to ignore. When a child is learning to walk, falling is part of that process. Eventually the training wheels need to come off the bike, and falling is part of that process, too. What is it Dory says in Finding Nemo? “Well, you can’t never let anything happen to him. Then nothing would ever happen to him. Not much fun for little Harpo.”

So perhaps there’s a sound logic to a company providing over-the-top safety precautions when there are parents out there who will simply ignore the most basic rules. Even if they are printed out for them, three times. Clearly there needs to be some middle ground established on this matter, and you just can’t account for people who will be brazenly careless with their children. We used a Bumbo for a while, it went on the floor and was surrounded by carpet and blankets to fall on. We have knives in the kitchen, we keep them out of their reach.

…and when I buy some little trampoline for William, I won’t be telling him to keep the bounces under two inches. Aerosmith taught me to live on the edge.

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I can sleep anywhere, but I usually don’t

Buckle up folks, I’m starting off with another stupid band story!

When I was 17, I joined an all ages marching band (DCA group for you band nerds) that ran out of Florida. It was semi-professional and tons of fun, but this is all irrelevant to the point of the story which is that during the summer we took a trip to Allentown, Pennsylvania for the finals of that year’s competition. It was there that I shared a hotel room with two great friends. Yep, they really were two amazing guys, which is why it was such a great moment to open the door of the hotel room and see the single, queen sized bed. Now I don’t really recall how it was determined who would sleep where, but I very much remember that due to the extremely high occupancy that the hotel had run out of extra pillows and blankets.

And that’s the story of how for 3 nights during the summer when I was 17, I slept on the floor of a hotel with the comforter off the bed, and a phone book for a pillow. I don’t always sleep, but when I do, I sleep hardcore.

Over the years, my sleeping quarters have become much less painful, but none the less a place where I feel like I’m the odd man out.

I guess it really started my freshman year of college. I moved into an apartment with my good friend from high school. Much like any college apartment, we had some furniture, but most of it was scrounged up second hand from other people or simply the stuff we’d had forever. For me, that meant my bedroom stuff. My old twin bed, which was actually part of a bunk bed set that my brother and I shared on and off as kids, and is now William’s bed. One night stand, which I think was my Grandma’s, and the newest thing I owned was my computer desk. We were very excited to be out on our own, and all was well till I got a phone call from my Dad that would change my life forever.

“Your brother is getting a new bed, do you want his?”

My brother had a full size bed. You could tell he was more adult than me because he had two night stands instead of one. This was a pretty cool moment for a college freshman out in the world. I got that bed moved in, and that’s where it all started to go down hill. You see, every night I spent in that bed for the next 2 years was magical. As I’ve hinted at (and more to the point, since as far as I can figure, 99% of my current readers know me – tell your friends to stop on by!) I’m a short man, and for me, being in a full sized bed alone felt like I had my own little island. So much space! I could have every book from every class I was taking on the bed and opened with all my notebooks and still have plenty of room to sleep! Amazing! No one told me when I was growing up, to enjoy the feeling of stretching out in bed.

A year after the bed became mine, I bought a pug. A tiny little puppy pug, and she and I shared my little island for a year. I had lots of fun with her. She used to love to snuggle up under my chin, so sometimes I’d be a bit mean and turn around so she’d walk all the way around me to get back into her spot…at which point I’d turn around again.

About a year later is when Melissa entered the picture. Now for quite some time, my pug did not approve of the new lady hanging around. To be certain we were aware of this at night, she would sleep between us horizontally. So the bed looked like an “H”. It was slightly less comfortable than I was used to, but there was a woman in the bed so I opted to not complain.

Shortly after, pug 2 entered the picture, which also added the 4th body in the bed at night. My first pug was totally okay with Melissa by this point, having decided that Melissa was not going anywhere and that Melissa would give her treats sometimes, but for whatever reason the sleeping arrangements were getting worse. By 2005, about 6 years after getting my amazing island paradise, I was sleeping (truthfully) with about 2 inches of my ass off the bed. Enough to know that it’s off the bed, but not enough to feel like you’re about to fall. Folks, if you’re gonna sleep with your ass hanging off the bed, 2 inches is pretty damn perfect.

When we moved to Idaho, my Dad made us a deal. Give him the full size bed, and he’d buy us whatever new one (reasonable priced) we wanted. Perfect. King size it is! AND! For about 3 years I enjoyed the kind of sleep that you can only get from a bed that has enough space to accommodate your entire body. Then Melissa got pregnant…and a new pal joined us in bed.

Pregnancy does a lot to a woman’s body. I empathize, I really do. So when Melissa said she needed a body pillow, we got one, and I know it helped her quite a great deal. Especially in the later months. I, however, couldn’t help but notice that my awesome happy funtime king bed was suddenly sectioned off in a way that every part of my body was at the very edge of the bed. It wasn’t so bad, until I’d wake up and my face was just right at the edge of nothing as if all the oxygen on top of the bed was used up so I was struggling to get air from the side.

Then after the second pregnancy, when the body pillow was no more, the night time crying adventures began. Sometimes William, sometimes Carter. We’d get them in bed with us, they’d calm down and often fall asleep, which is when I realized, “Hey! Cool! I have no room at all! The fact that I’m still on the bed at all is simply the bi-product of clinging on to the shirt of my child and hoping that I don’t take us both down…lest we start this all over again!” So now, I hate the bed a little bit. I never know when I’m going to be able to use it as a bed. I no longer think of it as the place for sleep. That honor has moved to a different piece of furniture.

I guess the point of all this, and what my advice would be to anyone in the same position as me…

You can get some amazing beds if you’re willing to spend over $1000 on it. Lots of support, I hear that memory foam stuff can be amazing…but for me? I’m investing in the couch.

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Thanks Tigger!

The guys over at 8 Bit Dad said on twitter recently that, “If we don’t post everyday, it means we’ve been putting family first.” Man I love that. You wouldn’t believe how far I had to scroll back on their twitter feed to find that quote. I am awful at twitter. There’s too many hashtags floating around, and I’m never sure if I have to virtual hug the person who talks to me or just move right to the cuddling. So confusing. Sometimes I have to step back a little and remember that blogging is something I’ve been making an attempt to do for only three months. I’ve been a parent for more than three years now! Just how parenting came before the words in real life, parenting must continue to be the primary focus over the blog. I put a lot of pressure on myself as a “new guy” in the world of dad bloggers to get a little attention without being in anyone’s face about it all. The biggest part of that is posting, and there are moments where I feel bad that I didn’t get a chance to finish something on a particular day. I’ve asked a few people for advice and then quickly left those people alone so they don’t feel I’m like the annoying kid brother who just wants to follow them everywhere. I know that guy, I’ve been that guy, and people want that guy to go away. I even know a few people who do quite well with their own personal blogs, and I refuse to ask for pointless plugs that are apropos of nothing they would ever talk about normally. I’d love a larger audience. I’d love to power through post after post, but in the end I am a dad first and I have a long way to go in this process. Feeling a need to apologize for my parenting getting in the way of a post is a bit stupid.

This week really let me take that idea to heart. I’m gearing up for my new babysitting adventures, which will start on Monday – wish me luck! I’m also making some changes to my diet and exercise program, namely, having a diet and exercise program. I’m tired, I’m busy, and in the middle of all this are my boys. William has finally, finally, found a way to get out of his shell more. He’s talking more to us, instead of just near us. He’s turning into a boy who wants to do things! It’s so exciting, and when he wants to live out his imagination, I’m ready to join him. I really love it.

I made a comment on my facebook page the other day explaining why I might not be getting a new post up, and people seemed to love it. My assumption is that everyone thought it was sweet, and not that people were glad to have a break from me. So I thought I’d expand on our very important search the other day.

Several months ago, it was announced that Disney Junior was going to turn into a full-time channel. Melissa and I were overjoyed with that news. Why? CLEARING THE DVR! So many Mickey, Jake, Manny, and Little Einstein episodes clogging our system. So a full channel devoted to those shows and more, made us a happy pair. Of course, it took a while to be offered in Idaho, but we have it now! Along with all the normal shows that the boys were familiar with, came a few new titles as well as some Disney movies.


One of the movies, which I had never heard of, was “The Tigger Movie.” It was released in 2000 and as best as I could find, is the only movies involving the “Winnie the Pooh” characters where Tigger is the main focus. I’m not going to go into the details of the movie, though I will say if your child likes that silly old bear, they will enjoy this story. All you need to know for this is that at a point in the movie, Tigger and Roo are bouncing through the woods looking for Tigger’s family by yelling, “Hello? Tigger’s family?! Come out, come out, where ever you are!”

For several days, William had been saying something that typed out probably looks like this, “Comeonah iya are!!” Having my minor in toddler linguistics, I really felt like I should be able to figure out what that meant. I had no idea. Till one day we were watching the movie, again, and William joined in at that scene with Tigger and Roo using his gibberish version. That is William’s idea of, “Come out, come out where ever you are!” So now it was no longer confusing, just adorable.

With my role as William’s playmate becoming more and more involving, it generally means he wants more time playing with puzzles or drawing in coloring books…or any books. This week though, thanks to the folks at Disney, he had something else in mind.

I had just put Carter down for his nap, and William was running around in a mild panic downstairs having finished watching The Tigger Movie…again. While to me it was downstairs, to William it had become the world of his friends from the hundred-acre woods. I’m almost surprised that I was not scolded for tramping on flowers or splashing in puddles as I took that final step off the stairs. Honestly, I was hoping for a moment of rest or a chance to check over the latest post so I could publish it before we dove into play time. Not that day. William reached up for my hand, and I was not going to tell him to wait. For a few moments I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to be doing, then William called out, “Hello? Tigger’s Fam-wee? Comeonah iya are!” Ah! We’re looking for Tigger’s family, and since William was leading me, I assumed he was Tigger which made me Roo. Stick the short guy with the little character. Funny, son.

So we searched. And we searched. I mean, our house is not exactly big so there was a few laps made. We hopped a little and we checked in some of the drawers, but just like in the movie we never did find Tigger’s family. All in all, our adventure probably lasted less than 10 minutes, but it was the first time William has ever pulled me into his world. In those moments, time really wasn’t the important thing, and running spell check on some goofy write-up wasn’t something I was going to worry about when we were working so hard to find a family of Tiggers. I made sure to reiterate a point made in the movie, that Tigger didn’t need to go searching for his family, they were right beside him all along. It’s true that I will always be here for my kids, but still, I’ll go looking for that elusive family tree whenever William is ready to bring me along again. I hope he does.

So yes, if you’ve found your way to my exit on the internet turnpike, I do hope you’ll stay a while. I hope you enjoy what you see, and I even hope you’ll recommend me to a friend. Perhaps even lots of friends?

But.

Know that there are days where I’m in search of a huge, striped tree filled with bouncing Tiggers of every color. There are days when I’m sharing a blanket with a special little man to watch Sheetrock Hills put on their brand new play, “Snow White and the Seven Tools.” Some days I’ve just got too much dad life going on, and that has to happen before any of this.

To the next adventure!

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