I am observant. I like watching things around me. I enjoy watching how kids play. I watch how other parents parent. What I really enjoy is watching how the Kid reacts in certain situations.
In these observations, there is one thing that stands out; the Kid is ME in social situations.
I remember vividly one family reunion as a Kid, I could not have been more than 8-years-old. I was enthralled with the family pictures that they were taking. That might come as a shock, someone interested in the family pictures? But it wasn’t that I was so much curious about the pictures, more or less watching what people were doing. I was in the background popping my head up between family members as the pictures were being snapped. You could call me an early adopter of photo-bombing. I didn’t want attention, because everyone knew I was there. Just curious, like any 8-year-old. There was someone recording video of this, probably on beta-tape. Now, people look back at that time see my curious head popping up and laugh. I never thought though that I would pass down my curiosity to my son though.
I pride myself on being a good cook. I’m better off being outside next to the grill and one of the things that I have become accustom to grilling is a hot dog. Not for me, but for the Kid. He loves them! Can you blame him?
One night, I was finishing up a pair of pork chops on the grill, and a hot dog for the Kid. I pulled the dog, chops, and potatoes off the grill and brought them to the table. I served up our delicious meal. I made one slight change to my grilling method,which I’m still perfecting before making it public, and our pork chops were excellent. The Kid was chowing down on some strawberries and some graham crackers.
I looked down at our dog who was panting from being outside and said, “You are a hot dog aren’t you?” She proceeded to look at me like, I don’t know what you are talking about but I’m waiting for the kid next to you to drop some food.
The Kid looked up from finishing off the crackers, looked at me, then to the hot dog, then to our dog, and back to the hot dog. The most pathetic whimper was let out when I realized exactly what I had done. It was that moment that I realized by calling our dog a “hot dog” the Kid was associating it with the hot dog that he was eating. He flat-out refused to finish his meal.
I felt awful. I tried to explain that a hot dog is not an actual dog but to no avail. Seeing the look on his face and knowing that he was thinking, “What are you going to do to Anna dad?”
After making an exception of not taking one bite of everything on your plate, we let him down to play. I went to clean up the table, but left the hot dog in question on the table. Part of me was wondering if he would forget the entire conversation and come back hungry.
To make the situation up to the Kid, I built a tent. A tent to my son is just a blanket covering up your entire body. When we were both in the tent, we told each other secrets, popped our head out of the blanket looked at Hot Mama and just giggled to some unknown whispers. As we pulled the blanked back over our heads, I asked, “Are you hungry?” He responded with a big “YES!” and then went to his seat and started chowing down on his hot dog.
This was one of those teachable moments for a father and son. While it might be difficult for a 2-and-half year old’s mind to comprehend that a hot dog is not actually made up of hot dogs, it was probably the first time that he realized that what he eats, sometimes was once a living breathing thing. For me, I found out that I should never EVER compare something we are about to eat to be or was a living breathing thing. You live and learn!
Have you ever lost your child’s trust only to gain it back again?
You will never know what happened just a day ago in Boston. You will hear about it every year the Boston Marathon ran through the streets. I will do my best to not dwell on what happened. Something tells me that you were aware something was happening, I spent more time with you, I was more patient, and I held you just that much tighter. It is sad that it took something like this happening for me to take a moment to pause to spend time with you.
There was something that legendary anchorman Tom Brokaw (I had to do everything to keep from saying Ron Burgandy, who you will learn more about later in life) said last night during the late news that struck me (I’m sorry I can not remember exactly what he said), but it was something along the lines of his grandchildren and their children will not know the age of innocence and being able to play outside, or go to a sporting event, or going anywhere without fear.
Son, there was a time, when I was a child, when I could just tell your grandmother and grandpa that I was going down the street to play with some friends or at the tree-house just down the street. They were never worried about sexual predators or worried about what was going to happen at school. They were not afraid to let me out of their sights, maybe they were and I just did not see it. Times have changed though.
You might be 15 and I maybe still saying that I need to be outside watching you as you shoot basketball hoops, or dropping you off at school, telling you each time you open the car door saying that I love you in front of your classmates. You will get annoyed at it, I did when your Grandmother did it to me, in fact, I still do. You will get annoyed at the need for me to always know who you are with and whose parents will be there watching you. Son, this is for your own good, and it is because of the people who caused the Boston Marathon Bombings, Sandy Hook and Columbine, 9/11, and Oklahoma City that bring these questions and this watchful eye. It is only out of love.
While I am talking a lot about fear, I see hope. I see hope that humanity will change, that times will change once again. I see a time where we do not have to be so fearful. A time when all the good people on this earth have thrown out all the bad people. Not to get all hippie on you, but that is what I see. There is hope son, I can see that hope in your mother’s eyes, I can feel it in my heart, and most importantly, I can see that hope in your eyes. So here is to hoping my son, I love you!
Son, it has been a while since I shared a story with you. You have been learning so quickly that is difficult to keep up. Yesterday though you just did something so dang cute that I have to share this memory! You ran up to Anna (our new puppy) as she was sleeping against the wall to look out the window. You proceeded to say “I am sorry Anna!”
Now whether you meant it when you said you were sorry or not I have no idea. My guess is that you did mean it, you tell Anna you love her all the time. You give her giant bear hugs and kisses before bed. You want to play with her so badly that you get just a bit to rough and she ends up running away.
None of this is your fault, you are still learning how to play with Anna. We adopted her because you needed a play pal and I am confident she will become that for you. Until then I will continue to help you play with her so she knows that you won’t hurt her.
You have learned when to say “I am sorry” which is a trait that your mother and I appreciate. You are not acting out in a malicious way, you are just being a two and a half-year old.
I love you,
It may look on the outside that I do not feel for you son. It may seem that I am hiding a lot of my emotions It may look like I am not being a good dad but this whole tough love deal was tougher than imagined.
We did not realize last week that you were sick when we started closing you in your room to keep you in your toddler bed. We did not know until the next day after a very rough night. Once we figured out that you were sick, your crib was immediately put back together. We did not want you going through a major change while you were sick. Your mother and myself were not ready for just how rough things were going to get.
Understand, that we have undergone a lot of changes son. You are changing day cares, instead of your mother dropping you off now I am, and your mother is starting classes again. It is difficult. VERY difficult.
I have beaten myself up lately. I never listened to your mother when she told me 5 months ago that you were to young for your toddler bed. It is a lesson that I still have to learn. It created a rough 5 months of you running into our room in the middle of the night. Many sleepless nights by your mother and myself, you included. That was just the beginning, and now welcome to hell week.
It started with a little fever. I say little, your mother, who is right on this, says it was not little. This came on a night we were supposed to have a date night. Plans cancelled. Suddenly, you were in pain, we could see that. Fingers in mouth, we thought you had strep, I would not take you to the doctor to save money, being the penny pincher that I am. Drool. Everywhere! I remember thinking that there was no way you could be teething, AGAIN!
Where do I turn? To the internet, because it has the answer to everything. I learn there are these wonderful things called 2 year molars. I say wonderful, but you, your mother, day care teachers, and myself now know, THEY SUCK! I have never seen you so much pain. This is one of those times where I can not help you. Well I can, to a point, with Tylenol That is all I can do.
Maybe, your father is to emotional on the inside, but seeing how you are hurting makes me hurt. I don’t show it but it does. One thing that I know, is that you, your mother and myself just need to push through. This time will pass. There will be a time when you lose your first tooth. When you fall off your bike and scrap your arm. I will look back at this time and then and only then will I realize just how easy I had it.