Dad Instincts Daddy Blog Deep Thoughts

Slightly Modifying My Responses to My Children

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how I respond to my children. This is true when they wake up in the morning, when they get home from school, when they ask me to do something, or need help with something. I think the way I react really makes a huge long term impact and I didn’t even realize what I was doing.

My gut reaction is often to overreact or start addressing the task at hand. For example, when they get home from school it’s easy to start by saying, “Start doing your homework.” Yes, I definitely want them to do their homework, but I’d hate if the way I was greeted when I got home was homework. A much nicer greeting would be to ask about how their day went. Of course, I’m unlikely to get long greetings to start, but I think with patience they’ll likely start expecting this and be ready to recount their day when they get home from school.

This really came to light the other night when putting my kids to bed. It took a couple times for this to sink in, but I finally think I got the message. While as a parent I often want the kids to get in bed so I can get to the things that I want to do in peace, I’ve been doing what I can to spend more time talking with my kids at night. Sometimes that includes climbing into bed alongside them so they know I’m there to talk and I’m not going to be running out the door as fast as I can.

After doing this a few times along with what’s possibly a bad habit of giving some short backrubs while we talk at night, I decided not to do it one night because the kids had acted poorly. Crash Kid #1 said in one of the most sincere voices I’ve ever heard him use, “But I like when we talk at night.”

Kind of makes my heart break thinking about it. I like talking with him too, but sometimes at night I’m tired and not that interested in talking about minecraft or modern architecture design. It’s a seriously tough balance. However, it’s amazing how big of a difference a little thing like 5 minutes of chatting at night can make in my relationship with my children.

Going back to the small ways I react to my children, I could do a lot more in the little things to better help my children. Often that means I need to take a step back and not react to their actions or questions and instead I need to take a second to think about the right way I should respond. That’s not an easy thing to do, but the more I think about it the more I realize it’s one of the most important things I can do.

Dad Instincts Daddy Blog

It’s Easy to Overreact

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how my children seem to overreact to the smallest of things. It’s quite frustrating as a parent, because you realize that it’s an overreaction and that whatever they’re overreacting to is not something worth worrying about. Sometimes they overreact so much that they start to get upset and angry and then you have to start punishing them for taking it too far. That starts a vicious cycle.

Maybe my kids are alone in this, but they are extremely determined. Once they get something in their mind, they can’t get it out of their mind and just want to keep fighting until they get what they want (probably reminds my mother of me…Sorry Crash Wife). I believe that tenacity will really pay off when my kids are older, but as a parent it’s extremely frustrating.

Tonight though I was thinking about how I can also overreact to stupid things. As I thought about this, I realized that I likely needed to have a little more compassion for my children when they’re seemingly overreacting to something that is insignificant. No doubt that thing is significant in their minds even if it’s not in the much larger scope of things.

This is going to be a hard change. It’s also a hard balance, because you don’t just always want to give in to children just because they’re being obstinate. Obviously, I don’t have the answers, but this is what I’m thinking about tonight.

Dad Instincts Daddy Blog Holiday Stories

Letting Kids Be Who They Are

This summer Crash Kid #1 attended his first camp. Since he’s only 11 years old I attended with him. We had a great time, but before we went to the camp he had to decide which merit badges to take. As he looked through the list he started picking merit badges like leatherworks, metalworks, art, photography, and chess. As he was working through the list he got to horsemanship (my favorite merit badge by far) and he quickly said, “Oh no. I’m not doing that.”

At first my heart was a little broken that he didn’t want to do the best merit badge out there. I love horses. They scare me a bit, but I love them. They’re so powerful and so extraordinary. My gut reaction to him immediately discarding horsemanship was to try and convince him to change his mind. After I took a deep breathe I decided that this was his scout camp and not mine. As I thought about it more, I was proud of my choice to let him be who he wants to be.

That’s not to say that on occasion we shouldn’t expose kids to new things, but sometimes it’s clear that kids have an affinity to some things over others. Of course, I was shocked when later they had a special horseback riding excursion that two of the other boys were doing. I asked Crash Kid #1 if he wanted to go with them or not. I was shocked when he said he did want to go with them. To be honest, I wasn’t that excited since it’s basically follow the butt in front of you horseback riding. However, there was no way I was going to say no when he said he was interested.

I saw this same principle reinforced when Curtis started planning his birthday party. Yes, his birthday was in April, but we’d been traveling so much we didn’t get to it until many months later. Regardless, Crash Kid #1 started going into full on party planning mode. He’s totally addicted to planning and creating things. A party was the perfect place for him to invent new games, plan variations on other games, and fully decorate our home for a minion birthday party including a box of shame (which all the kids loved!).

While I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a sharp object than do all this party planning, Crash Kid #1 was in his element. I think he enjoyed planning the party more than the party itself. Once again I was reminded of my need to let him be who he was and enjoy the things he liked. That’s not always easy as a parent.

Of course, as I was thinking about these incidents and Crash Kid #1’s love of art, inventing and creating, I came across this image:
Kids and Art

Dad Instincts Proud or Scared Tech Kids

The Hijacked Cell Phone – Proud or Scared Series

I decided I should start a series of blog posts I call Proud of Scared. In this series of posts (which I’ll do as incidents occur) I’ll highlight those times as a parent when you’re torn between being proud of your child or scared. In these situations you’re proud of their smarts, intelligence, creativity, or abilities, but you’re also scared as you enter a new stage in your child’s development. Sometimes you’re scared of the new stage and sometimes your scared of what this new talent will mean in the future. You get the idea?

Now for my first entry in the Proud or Scared series.

I took Crash Kid #1 and #3 to the park while I was playing ultimate frisbee on Saturday. While there I let Crash Kid #1 access my phone so he could play some games in the shade while I was playing ultimate frisbee. During one of my waters breaks I discovered that Crash Kid #1 had sent a few texts to Crash Mom in my absence. Here’s the content of the texts (as sent by Crash Kid #1):

Me: We are thinking of leaving soon would you like anything from Mcdonalds?
Crash Wife: Im good. I just had some leftover pizza. The kids would probably like chicken nuggets though
Me: Crash Kid #1 wants a banana strawberry smoothie should I get it for him?
Crash Wife: It’s up to you.
Me: I’m gonna play 1 more point and then I’ll be back at home
Crash Wife: Ok.
Me: Crash Kid #1 is annoying me so much about going to bounce U
Crash Wife: He is obsessed. Im not even sure it is open in saturdays
Me: Now Crash Kid #3 is following him and doing it as well
Me: STOP!!!
Crash Wife: Ahhh!
Me: I know
Me: Lol…that was all Crash Kid #1
Me: Pretty creative
Crash Wife: That is funny. What a little stinker

There you go. Should I be proud of his creativity or scared?

Dad Instincts Single Dad

When Your Daughter Asks “When Will My Privates Start Bleeding?”

As you know, my wife’s been off on a girl’s trip (I renamed Girl’s Camp to Girl’s Trip since there’s no camping involved) and I’m enjoying some time alone with my 4 kids. Last night I was in my room while the 3 older kids had a “sleepover” in one of their rooms. Really they just wanted a chance to play. So, I told them they could stay up a bit later if they were really quiet. I thought they’d last 10 minutes max, but somehow they were quiet the whole time. Who says miracles don’t happen anymore?

At one point my oldest son and daughter came in to see me. My daughter then asked every dad’s favorite question, “When Will My Privates Start Bleeding”?

Talk about being blindsided with a question! What blew me away most was that it seemed to come out of no where. Let’s be honest. I didn’t even know that she at 8 years old already knew that a girl’s private parts would start to bleed. I’m 36 and I’m still trying to figure that all out. Yes, I’m not female, but you get the point.

My initial reaction to the question was to blurt out, “Don’t ask me that question! Ask your mom that question. I just know that if you’re experiencing the joys of being a female, I’m suppose to get and do whatever you want. I don’t know how it actually works.”

What you probably don’t understand is that the Crash Wife and I have an agreement. She takes care of the girl things and I’ll take care of the boy things. This was a direct breach of that agreement and I felt the need to inform my daughter that she’d need to consult her mom because my unwritten contract said I wasn’t required to answer her.

Despite this urge, I somehow sat their silently and I think I asked her some dumb question about why she was asking or something. Stall tactic! I needed to delay things while I processed how I ended up in this position with my wife out of town. Plus, I needed some time to process how I could answer her question. The delay tactic seemed to work pretty well since I replied that it depended on the girl and that she could talk to her mother more about it when she was home. A loving reply while still placing the female talk responsibility firmly with my wife.

The next day I was still chewing on why my daughter would somewhat randomly ask me about Aunt Flo (that’s what we call her in our house). I couldn’t let the topic lie, so I asked her why she was asking me about her private’s bleeding (I did actually explain to her that it’s called a period). She responded, “Oh, we wanted to sneak some snacks for our sleepover and so we needed a way to distract you. So, I just thought to ask you about it.”

Dad Instincts Holiday Stories In-Laws

Second Christmas is Awesome!

This year we made the great decision to fly across the country to spend Christmas with my in-laws in upstate NY. The great part is that we avoided any major snowfalls and for a large portion of our trip it was colder in Las Vegas than it was in New York. I’ll consider that a serious answer to prayer.

We had a great time enjoying all the Christmas traditions that my wife grew up doing. I was glad we did it since we’d never had a chance to do it before and I’m not sure how long my in-laws will be there for us to do it in the future.

Since we were traveling across country with 4 kids, we decided to leave all our family presents at home and just let Santa and the crash grandparents give gifts in New York. Luckily we flew Southwest and had 2 free checked bags per person (yes, that meant we could have 12 checked bags). We ended up only using 8 checked bags, but that was still far more than we’re used to taking. A year and a half ago we “moved” to Hawaii for a month and only checked 2 bags for the entire month (aren’t we awesome?). Turns out that Christmas gifts and snow clothes and gear takes up a lot more space.

We had a great Christmas gift opening extravaganza in New York since the crash grandparents went a little lot overboard on the gift giving. It’s hardly something to complain about since it’s a really kind thing for them to be so generous. Plus, our kids didn’t seem to mind too much either. Who am I kidding? They loved it.

With that said, I was especially excited to have our “Second Christmas” at home. I think my excitement for the second Christmas mostly came from the one time I visited my grandparents as a kid and my parents did the same thing for me. If I remember right, I got a recorder at my grandparents house. However, I remember the wild anticipation of my siblings and I as my parents got our second Christmas ready. I was hoping to create a similar memory for our kids.

Since we flew in late, we decided to do our second Christmas similar to a normal Christmas day when the kids woke up to Christmas. Here’s a look at the spread (sorry it’s not in better focus, but I was tired when I took it).
Second Christmas
It felt just like Christmas morning back at our house even though it was January 2nd. It was awesome to see the kids excitement two times in one year. However, it wasn’t the tree or presents above that got the best reaction. Just off to the right of the above picture was what caught the kids eyes the most:
Huge Stuffed Animal Christmas
Yes, those are some big huge massive stuffed animals. They’re literally bigger than our children. When I saw them, I knew they’d make for a great Christmas morning. I was definitely not disappointed. How can you really argue with a pink unicorn that big? We’re going to have tons of stories with these animals I can already tell. I’ve been told, for example, that the boa has choked out the pink unicorn, but that story is unverified.

You might also notice in both pictures is a really massive box. The day of our second Christmas, Crash Kid #1 had mentioned about how the size of some of the boxes indicated a good present. He’ll learn over time that the most expensive things come in small packages, but he’s not there yet (thankfully!). With this idea in mind, I decided to give him the biggest box we had for Christmas. Not just any box of course. It was the biggest box and as you can see it’s pretty large. You could probably fit one of the stuffed animals in it. Plus, we loaded this big box full of all the other boxes we’d received (Thanks Amazon).

In case you’re not sure you’re reading this right, Yes, I gave my son a box full of boxes for Christmas! Aren’t I sweet? Some of you might be wondering about my choice of gifts. Lest you think that my dad instincts are out of whack, guess what the first gift Crash Kid #1 started to play with after opening his gifts was? That’s right…the boxes!

Everyone always said that the kids loved the paper and boxes more than the gifts themselves. I just cut to the chase and made the gifts the boxes straightway. You can be sure if he disobeys you’ll hear this echoing through our house, “You better obey or I’m going to take those boxes away.” Have you ever seen how attached kids are to their box creations? It’s a powerful thing.

We closed out the second Christmas with our traditional swim through the wrapping paper and a lovely blueberry muffin breakfast with bacon, eggs and grape juice.

Man I loved my second Christmas!