Toddler Summers

I never thought I’d fall in love with Summer again.

Memories of walking to swim practice, weekend swim meets, reading books from the library as I lazily watch the summer showers beat down on my aunt’s house in Potomac, evenings with fireflies and locusts buzzing dissolved slowly as I progressed from college to grad school to “adult” life.

And here I am with my Son, reliving and enjoying new memories with him as a fully mobile, loud-mouthed, opinionated toddler with a lot to say and no rationale or logic to back it up.

And the melt downs, oh my, so fun. I wish I could stop laughing publicly at him, or even in private, but the melt downs are kind of too much fun.

So there are two camps in managing the tantrums – you can either cater to them or ignore them. I’ve created the third camp, laugh at them. It’ll probably screw him up, but that’s what parenting is for, no?

So far, the adventures have been a week in Newport for a Peruvian-Hindu wedding, and a Sunday at the zoo for Father’s day; weekends in between are all about the beach, the pool, and eating ice cream real late!

Valentine’s Day 2016

I’ve realized that I’ve become a “survival” parent rather than the thriving parent I thought I would be (or that my wife and I could be).

This may be a mixed post on self-reflection and/or a critique on our society.

Having our son in daycare has really opened my eyes to what other parents get their children involved in on a day to day basis – some parents, for instance brought in little Valentine’s Day cards (that they clearly wrote on behalf of their toddlers), while some brought in nut-free food for kids to enjoy/share.

Since we’re still in the throws of crib-training (after a 6 month break), we barely have enough energy to get up, get him ready for school, and physically get to work in the mornings. I started wondering though, when my wife showed me the Valentine’s day card, how my mom would help me do those when I was in elementary school (so clearly I was much older), and immediately felt like one of those “burn out” parents. Then I quickly jumped to explaining it away, citing potential reasons for “their ability” over “our ability” to do these superlatives (maybe the husband or wife are stay-at-homes, maybe one of them works part-time, maybe one of them xxxxxxx).

It’s a nasty habit to get into, comparing yourselves to others, but all of us do it, since it’s only human to be comparative. This inherent “peer pressure” starts early, as early as day care, as I learned, since my son is capable of drinking out of cups, feeding himself (probably not as much as we’d stuff him), engaging in social behavior, etc. due to other peers conducting their business as such. It’s herd mentality – if everyone else is doing it, I should too!

I’m not an anthropologist, and am the farthest thing from being an expert on psychology, but I know when I’m being absurd, and realized as much when I was getting defensive with  myself and how adequate of a parent I am – I’ve just come to accept that my son well have to understand that his Mom and Dad will probably never bake cupcakes for his classroom, but we’ll buy vegan ones for his class mates; we’ll probably never do hand written cards, but could potentially order them online in time for his class. What we are good at doing is making sure he gets to school semi-on time 🙂

It was amazing to see how times have changed over the year…here’s a little before and action fun!

The long road ahead to being a Toddler – Christmas 2015

I’m thankful there was a little snow on the ground this morning, so I had an excuse to not feel guilty on not posting about the holiday season. One thing I’ve noticed about toddlers as they approach the 18 month mark, is that their brains are growing faster than their bodies, so you’re sort of battling with their egos more than their physical determination.

The holiday shenanigans were great, and we were blessed to have all the grand parents and cousins around to celebrate. I was even surprised with a cake to celebrate my promotion that happened just before the holidays – cake, wife, family, an awesome toddler. What more could I ask for?

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The 8 and 9 Month Story

It’s rare that I post on one of his birthday’s.

Rare because more often than not, we rush to cut his cake, rush to get him to bed, and hope that he eventually goes to sleep.

Sleep training has been a 60 day battle (I thought it’s been since January 16th, but I was reminded we started February 16th).

Progressing from light patting to put him to bed to full out 5, 7,10 minute walk in sessions (nicer Ferber, essentially), has taken awhile, and it doesn’t always work.

As I write this post, poor little guy is actually crying…but eventually every parent, I assume, comes to terms with the fact that IF they want their child to sleep on their own, and not be paralyzed with the inability to put themselves to sleep the rest of their youth, you have to institute some sort of sleep training.

Patience and consistency are key, but I find myself slipping and giving excuses because amidst these milestone months, especially the past few where he’s crawling and standing up proficiently, he’s also teething, getting colds, dealing with who knows what else.

For fathers that are trying to help with sleep training, be supportive of your wife, and most importantly, remember that you’ll probably have more emotional fortitude to handle your child’s crying than your wife. Mom’s are wired differently, as I realized tonight, where we were on about our 3rd 10 minute cry out phase (after about 45 minutes of crying), and I was photoshopping his pictures, looking at the top right hand corner of my mac, and not being phased by his crying. His mom was emotionally pacing the room, wondering when this would end, and what we’re doing wrong.

First thing about sleep training is to guarantee the following:

1. The room is safe (there’s a humidifier, the temperature is correct, there are no wires near the crib, and sheets are tucked in tight, there’s a little night light).

2. He’s fed.

3. He’s not wet.

4. He’s not in pain (this is the difficult one I struggle with when he’s teething).

5. He hasn’t thrown up and aspirated on his vomit (yes, hyperbole, but my little one has a tendency to throw up, thankfully sitting up, so worth noting for parents).

In order to achieve #1 and 2, setup the night time routing correctly. #3 and 4 are difficult without feeling around, so that’ll throw things off, and only check if necessary. #5 required us to watch him using a video monitor, in order to make sure everything was ok and if he did throw up, we could run in, change him, make sure he’s not lying down if he DID throw up, and continue with the training.

Being strong and consistent is key…but as I write this post, I feel like my will wavering. I’m actually writing to distract myself, because the gut-wrenching pain of hearing your child cry, not because they are physically hurt, is a difficult concept for the brain to capture.

He’s grown leaps and bounds these 2 months since I’ve left home and not been on paternity leave…below at 8 months, this little guy had his front two teeth in, and was happy with the world as a crawler.

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I sincerely do miss my time at home with him full time, the afternoons especially, when the sun was setting, and light filling the master bedroom as we joshed around chasing each other on the floor,

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But, as everyone says, they grow so fast, and weeks have flown by, as I reminisce about the past 9 months with him,

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Reflections After Two Months with My Son

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It’s complete and absolute luck that I was fortunate to have the exclusive time I had off with my son.

Not many parents, forget fathers, get that opportunity. And it was an experience rife with emotion. A few things I learned as a father,

1. Teething is horrible. He got his first two teeth the week of March 10th, and he was crying, screaming, and in pain the entire week (and has had on and off episodes since). There are a lot of products that are out there, and most are safe. I used Hylands teething tablets, which is a homeopathic medication that seems to work well in calming him down. A few tablets does the trick for 3 or so hours. If things got worse, we gave him some motrin (1.25 mL) or tylenol (2.5 mL). Both are  fine with your pediatrician’s sign off.

2. Sleep training is horrible and iterative. We spent a lot of time and money on sleep training him. And it was exhausting. Teething reset the clock, so we had to restart with it – and the effort continues. Is there a magic trick to it? It depends on your child. Most children succumb to the concept after a few weeks. Our son continues to fight the concept of sleeping alone in a crib; he has gone 8-10 hours on his own on some nights, but then there are nights he can only manage a few hours of sleep before he requires intervention. The key thing is picking something, being consistent, and sticking with a schedule.

3. Crawling and walking are fun. But safety first – he’s had a few spills, one off the bed, and another of a stool. Both were accidents, and both caught us as parents off guard because you forget or underestimate how mobile a baby can become overnight. So walkers, high chairs, and pack and plays are the safest options – despite your child’s protestation!

4. Play music and read! Kids require variety, and around this age, when hearing has matured and curiosity has peaked, music and reading are being absorbed at rates we can’t fathom. My son will focus on me playing the indian drums for about 10-15 minutes. That’s a lot for a kid his age, and I usually stop after so he doesn’t get overwhelmed – everything is new, unique, and sensitive to his little ears and brain. Same for reading too.

I’m not sure when he’ll go into day care, and I hope we can continue to give him one on one care with grand parents, but because of his limited social circle, we’ll eventually have to get him exposed to other adults and babies. I miss him dearly every hour I’m away, and am so deeply thankful I have him in my life. His mischievous little smiles, goofy squawks, awkward crawls, and excitable demeanor make it a joy to be his father.

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What happened to making it to Month 4 and 5??

Yup, daddy brain in full effect.

Forgot to post these up…and just finished post-processing. I swear it’s more tough than it should be…I mean, he’s nearly 7 months old and not even walking or talking yet. I’m sure I have more surprises in store for me soon….

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The funny thing about chronicling his growth month to month…is you can really see him change physically, and even his cuteness factor changes. I thought he was so cute in his 1 month picture, but looking back…the mixture of his baby hair falling off, and new hair coming in, and not growing quite into his head left him looking a little like George Castanza from Seinfeld. His latest pictures are definitely a step in the right direction…(observing as a completely impartial dad)…