Saturday, April 16, 2005

Soccer equipment shoping with L

L and I decided to have a special morning to go shopping for her soccer equipment. This is her first year playing and she needs cleats and shin guards.
Our first stop was home depot. The mirror that mommy had purchased last week had come without hangers. We needed to pick those up.
L and I talked about school and her day with nana during the car ride to Home Depot. We laughed when our uncle Pete let us out into traffic at a busy intersection.
We also talked about the great body mechanics of a runner that ran by the car.
At the returns desk L became slightly restless. I asked her to play a game of I Spy. She spied a grill. It was just to my right. I went next and picked an American Flag. By the time she found it was our turn to speak to a cashier.
A manager came over and assigned a clerk to help us. We traveled around the store with the clerk and found the piece to the mirror after about 10 minutes. L and I continued playing I Spy throughout our journey. L found another mirror. She also found where mommy had bought the original mirror, which was a big help.
When we were finished, I said to the clerk: "Thank you so much for all of your help. That was some good detective work."
He seemed touched by the acknowledgement, blushed and said: "No problem."

I told L that I would like to head to Sports Authority to check their prices. L said that she would rather go to Dick's sporting goods. I complied and we were off to Dick's for cleats and shin guards.
The only cleats in L's size were $20. She tried on 2 pairs and found a pair that she really liked. Next we went to find the shin guards. They were $15, but L loved the color of bright blue.
I had done some shopping at some other stores and had found packages for $30 that included a ball. I was disappointed in the price at Dicks, but thought it unlikely that Sports Authority would be much better. Besides, we had the items in hand and were almost out the door. But when I overpay for something I feel lazy and wasteful.
As we were trying on the shin guards a woman stopped and began speaking to me. She said that Sports Authority had a deal for cleats, shin guards and a ball for $20.
"Thank you so much. We were just about to spend $35 for just the cleats and the shin guards."
"No problem." The woman said as her face lit up with the knowledge that she had helped us.
I was concerned that L had become attached to her cleats and shin guards.
"L, we need to put those cleats and shin guards back. If the items at Sports Authority are not as good we can come right back."
"Okay." L said without any complaint.
I was very excited with that level of cooperation. When we got to the car I told her that I was very happy with her behavior in the store.
"Thank you for not acting up during that change in plans. That was very mature behavior. "
We drove the 2 minutes to Sports Authority and asked the clerk about the deal. The packages were all stacked in one area. We found the size 1 cleats, the shin guards with ankle pads, and a perfect little ball for $20.
L tried them all on and begged me to let her wear them out of the store.
"Okay. I replied. Mommy will love to see them on you."
As we checked out L begged for a coke at the checkout counter. L, read the ingredients on that can.
"I know dad. It has high fructose corn syrup. Can I just have water?"
"You bet."
L was kind enough to give me a few sips of her water on the way home.
"L, we got great stuff and we saved the family $15. Thank you for using your patience and trying Sports Authority. You did a terrific job shopping today. I am very proud of you."
L showed her mom her soccer wear when she got home. She changed out of the gear for lunch, but put it back on for playtime at her friend’s house later.
I think L learned some great lessons today.

How do you use your day to teach your kids?

L shares a secret

What is your favorite time with your child?

Bedtime is a very special time for my oldest daughter and me. We use the time to tell each other about what happened during our days.
I explained all of the teamwork that went on in my day at work. I told her how happy I felt about all of the software that I had produced that day with my friends.
L asked a few follow-up questions and then proclaimed:
“I am going to learn soccer very quickly.”
This is L’s first year in a soccer league. I am a little concerned about how much she will enjoy the game. Whenever we have played with a group of kid’s L gets very upset when someone steals the ball. I have been explaining how that is part of the game for many nights.
“Yes L, I am quite sure that you will pick it up very quickly.”
“And I am going to learn to pass the ball.”
I had lectured on passing, also.
I was preparing to launch into another soccer soliloquy when L suddenly changed the subject.
“You know who is a fast learner? W from my school.” L proclaimed.
I wanted to make my point about the possibility of L getting mauled on the soccer field by a pack of little ball hogs, but decided to give her a little latitude.
“Really?” I asked.
“Yup! He learned to pump on the swings today.” L stated.
“Great!” I said. L has been doing that for 2 years. Why is this a great accomplishment? I wondered.
“Do you know who I might marry someday?”
Jackpot! By holding my tongue and using some listening skills I was able to let L share something deeply important about her day. And I was there to be a sounding board for her and validate her feelings.
“Who?” I asked.
“W. He is really nice to me. He is not like the other boys who push and wrestle all the time. He is very nice.”
“That’s great babe! I am really glad that you have found someone who is so nice to you.”
“Yup. And we will have a baby. I might have a baby in my belly or we will adopt a baby. If I do not have any milk in my boobs then I will give the baby a bottle. Right Daddy?”
L was on a roll.
“Sounds great.”
I really wanted to ask her how W was nice to her, but she continued to talk about all the crushes that the kids had in the class. It was adorable.

When do your kids open up? When you are playing catch, riding bikes?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Getting your wife her rest.

What is your role in insuring that your spouse is happy? It is their responsibility to look after their own happiness after all. But I think spouses can help tremendously.

It was 4 o'clock and the kids and I had been together all day. My wife had just gotten home from some church meetings. She had also had some time to get a petticure and manicure. In the old days I would have headed for the driving range or headed for a nap myself. But today I knew that my wife needed some rest.
I suggested that she head up to her room for a rest while I bathed with the kids. She protested because she felt guilty for having been away all day. I insisted that she relax. I know that she does not get enough relaxation time during the week, so I believe that it is important for her to make some time for it during the weekend. And I was determined to help.
She acquiesced and took a half an hour to read a book in M's room.

The kids and I made dinner while she rested. L cut all of the broccoli and washed and nuked the potatoes. T used the salad spinner to dry the salad. I loved watching them excel at all of the parts of making dinner that they could handle. But that is for another entry.

J came downstairs and was well rested. J really seemed rejuvenated. She read enthusiastically to the kids while I finished getting dinner on the table and we all had a great meal together.

It really makes me feel good to help my wife in this way. If I recognize that she needs something I try to get it for her. Today she really needed some rest, and she did not feel comfortable asking for it. So I got it for her.

This was not a selfish act in hope of some future payment (Although I was handsomely repaid). I was not feeling guilty about my round of golf with the boys tomorrow. I am comfortable with that use of my time. This was a gift for her.

Cute T story.

M put T's T-Rex in the dishwasher while we were cleaning the kitchen today. T (3) walks up to the dishwasher and pulls out the plastic dinosaur and proclaims:
"M, that is unacceptable."
That mommy-ism put a huge smile on my face.
I used that excuse to give T his 100th hug and kiss of the day.

Cranky yard work.

Do you have any activity that you perform where you have noticed that you have become often irritated while performing it?

Mine is yard work. I can recall numerous examples of me losing my patience in the yard. Today I was trying to get the garden hose off of the Reel-Easy. I had split almost all of my knuckles trying to loosen the hose from it's connector. At the same time L was desperate for a push on the swing. She was whining desperately at the swing for assistance.

"Dadddddyyyyyyyy, Pleeeeeaaaaase push meeeeeeeeee?"
"One minute, L. I am trying to fix the hose!"
"Pleeeeeeeeaaassseee!!!!" She whined in an even higher pitch.
"Just one minute!" I shouted back without thinking. "If you whine like that again I will not come down there at all!"
I really am disappointed in myself when I speak without thinking. This was one of those times. But I immediately realized that I had done it, and got up and walked around to the front of the house. I could still hear L yelling in the back.
I got another wrench and the hose came off easily. Then with a clear mind I was able to walk down the hill and push L for a few minutes.
I wonder if it is needing accomplishment in yard work that causes me to lose my patience. I believe I get attached to the projects and feel the need to complete them or at least make progress. If the kids interrupt me while I am working, I sometimes feel angry that I am losing my window of accomplishing something around the house.
Also, the fact that I do not plan effectively around the yard also contributes to my anguish. If I had stored that Reel-Easy properly I would not have had that chore to begin with. Gravity, poorly organized tools, and a host of other culprits can cause a feeling of "woe is me".
I think I am doing a better job of catching the anger as it arises and diffusing it. I did not throw any objects today and I only raised my voice once. That feels like progress.
I also realized that I had not eaten all morning. I rallied the troops and brought them inside for a nice lunch.
The remainder of the yardword for the afternoon was very pleasant. Again proving that peace is generated from the inside out, not from the yardwork in:)

Can you think of any time where you might tend to lose it? Bedtime is a close second to yardwork for me. Any others?

Build Kid's Self Confidence at the Park

What is your favorite way to build your child's self confidence?

My favorite spot is definitely the park. I can spot them on most activities and help them stretch their little bodies to the limit. I took L(5), T(3) and cousin O(3) to the park this morning.

I started my spotting by helping L zip across the parallel handle apparatus. She grabbed each handle and shuttled herself across easily. "I did it she exclaimed."
"You sure did." I replied.
"Again, Again."
We went back and forth about a dozen times. I kept sliding the handles back to her so that she could shuffle her little body across the poles. Next she wanted to spin on the giant steering wheel. I held her lightly while she hung from the big wheel. She moved herself around easily. She jumped down on her own and then it was T's turn.
"My turn please!" T shouted.
I boosted him up and he held on tightly. He was not strong enough to move the wheel. I spun him around while holding his bum on my forearm. Then I started spinning him faster. I pretended (slightly) to get dizzy and feel backward onto the sand. I cradled T for a gentle landing. We laughed and staggered as we both got up.
Next it was O's turn to learn the fireman's pole. He was too afraid to jump off with his back foot and commit to the ride. He kept shying back from the pole. I finally convinced him to jump off to the pole while I held his feet.
"I did it uncle Dave!" Oliver exclaimed with pride.
"You sure did O." I responded.
The most heart warming part of the day was when L and O climbed up onto a high stair on the jungle gym. T was really struggling with it. I started coaching T through the climb.
"You can do it, T. You've got it."
L and O also got into the act. "Yeah T, you are doing it!"
T, was laughing while trying to shimmy his way up onto the platform. "I haven't done it yet." He said through constant giggles.
Finally T got a foothold on the pole to his right with his dinosaur boot. That got him high enough where he could wriggle the rest of the way on his belly.
I took T at least 2 minutes to get up onto that stair. He really persevered and made me extremely happy to see that persistence. I was also so excited and proud to see his sister and cousin cheering him on. They truly seemed to care about T's success in that endeavor. They were also emulating my cheering and I was happy to be a model of that behavior.
Finally I loaded the 3 of them into the tire swing. O wanted to spin, L wanted to swing, and I think T just wanted to sit. I helped them reach a compromise of swinging and spinning. Everyone seemed quite happy with the result.

So how about it? Do you have a special way that you like to foster self confidence in your kids?

Friday, April 01, 2005

Emotional Rollercoaster.

Have you ever completely misread your partner’s reaction to a situation? I did this morning...

My day started at 3:30 with my 3 yr old son T crying in our bed. My wife was doing an excellent job consoling him, so I left our bed and headed for his. I immediately fell back to sleep. Some time later I heard my 1 year old daughter screaming to get out of her crib. Most mornings I will leave her in her crib and she will settle herself back down. My five year old L had other ideas.
L was up and proclaimed that she had taken M out of her crib.
"Did you lock the saftey gate to the downstairs?" I asked.
"Yes daddy." She replied.
I slowly began to motivate to get out of bed. This usually takes me about 5 minutes. Somewhere in those 5 minutes I heard my wife yell:
"M is out of her crib and the gate is not up!"
That got me moving.
I bounced out of bed and tried to locate our youngest. My wife had M in her arms and she briskly handed her off to me and headed back to bed. I recognized that she had been up with T in the night, so I figured I would suck it up and take the morning shift. What time was it anyway?
5:15. Ouch. I ordered my oldest back to bed and lied on the floor in M's room while she played around me. After about 30 minutes it was clear that M was not going back to bed anytime soon. I got her dressed and began to head downstairs. I was met in the hall by L. It was 6 by this point, so I figured she could join us.
I began cleaning the kitchen with M in one arm. L cheerfully reported that she had poured the last bowl of cereal. I reached in the cabinet and produced a breakfast bar for M. She snatched it and was distracted enough so that I could put her on the floor. I made much more progress tidying the kitchen with 2 hands. I also induced L to cooperate with washing the table and clearing the dishwasher. We make quite a team sometimes.
Next the 3 of us read a Spanish kids book on the couch: No es mi gatito. M is great at picking out all of the textures in the book. Each page has a furry belly or a rough tongue. L is also starting to pick up some Spanish. Win win.
Friday mornings become stressful for me around 7. Friday is trash day and if I am not working on the trash by 7 then I will be late for work. Today I decided to put M in the Baby Bjorn and carry her while I pulled the trash up the hill. L even offered to help. And did she ever help. She pulled the biggest barrel of trash up the hill for me.
It was also recycle day, so this process took almost a half an hour. When we had moved our last barrel up the hill I saw my wife in the doorway.
Now, I am thinking that I will get a hero's welcome when I come in the door. The possibility of putting the kids in front of a video for some adult time is a valid scenario in my mind. Imagine my surprise when I am greeted with:
"We need to talk about the events of this morning." My wife exclaimed
Oh Sh*t, I think to myself. We need to talk are really serious words in this relationship. Adult time is definitely off the table.
My wife continues: "That was a really dangerous situation this morning..."
"I agree. It really was." I honestly still had slight stomach pains over it. That is brain damage or death if our youngest goes down those stairs.
"Now how am I supposed to go away this weekend when things like this are going on?"
This was the fourth or fifth time my wife has asked this question. The other times were semi-joking so I thought I could let them go. This one made me really angry. I spoke loudly and without thinking my response through.
"Honestly, I don't care whether you go away this weekend or not. If you do not trust my judgment or parenting abilities then stay home. Do whatever the hell you want to do."
I believe my parenting skills are on par with my wife's. I resent it when she questions my skills in this manner. She continued:
"I don't see why you could not just get out of bed with M for one morning? Would that have been too much to ask? Why do I have to get up and rescue her from falling down the stairs?"
"I get up slowly. It takes me a few minutes to wake up." I responded.
"M needs to take a nap." My wife stated.
"I will put her down." I replied.
I hugged M and sang to her for 5 minutes before putting her to bed. During this time I reflected on the argument with my wife. My expectation of a heroes welcome was a definite problem in that altercation. I felt entitled to a thank you, but when I did not get it I became defensive and angry.
When I emerged from the bedroom I apologized to my wife. She apologized back. It would take us each a few hours to cool off, but we were fine.

Have you ever let false expectations generate anger? When?