Two Wonderful Girls. One Day At A Time…

Archive for February, 2007

Fathers are from Mars, Mothers are from Venus

A couple of weeks ago, Cherise was hosting a group of mothers in an effort to raise awareness of issues facing parents everywhere (no, I don’t know where she gets the energy).  That gave me an opportunity to spend the afternoon alone with Iris.  The older she gets, the more I look forward to these times–especially when it’s not the 7am shift. When I got back, Cherise was saying that the mothers were discussing perhaps the fathers could always get together with the kids while the mothers were in this meeting next time.  Cherise mentioned that the people in the meeting were mixed about whether the fathers would go for this.  Cherise predicted that I might not be crazy about the idea.  She was somewhat right.  I really like all the fathers I meet and don’t mind hanging out with them.  But to illustrate the differences between fathers and mothers, I told Cherise the following story about my experience while she was having her meeting…
To pass the time, Iris and I went to a local playground.  Iris loves running around and being around all the other kids.  It was a pretty nice Sunday afternoon, so the playground was clearly the social mecca for the toddler scene.  It amounted to more than just an outing–it was a fascinating sociological experiment.  I watched as mothers who had never met would smoothly chat one another up and ask about each other’s kids and the latest happenings.  Meanwhile, the fathers all kept to themselves.  Even when both parents were there, the women would chat while the men would awkwardly meander around.  But that’s not to say I didn’t have any interaction with any of the fathers…
As Iris and I walked around the playground, she spied the swings and pointed.  She felt like going for a ride (actually, she demanded it).  So, I pop her in the seat and we start swinging.  Meanwhile, another father with a daughter starting walking over and I notice the girl is looking over at Iris with total envy.  The father sees this and knows that she wants to be on the swing next to us.  I almost sensed the rivalry starting.  He didn’t like having to copy us.  So, here are two fathers that are pushing our kids on the swing.  That’s when he makes his move.  Suddenly, he starts pushing and dancing around as he’s pushing.  Then, he starts pushing her at angles.  His kid loves it and she gets the huge grin on her face.  Now he’s Super Dad.  I looked at Iris and she looked kinda bored and spacey.  I was obviously being out-fathered.  Well, the testosterone started flowing.  I wouldn’t have this.  Let’s remember:  I’M SUPER DAD!  No one takes the title from me.  So, as Iris is swinging, I start plotting my strategy.  As she comes toward me, I grab her legs and stop her mid-swing.  The huge Iris grin emerges as she’s snapped out of her doldrums and knows the fun is about to commence.  I swing her again and catch her again–she finds this hilarious and starts cracking up.  The  next time, she swings and I patty-cake her thighs as she comes up (from many bath nights, I know she has ticklish thighs).  Next, I start playing peekaboo each time she flies towards me.  For those of you who know Iris, you know that when she’s happy, EVERYONE knows it.  At this point, anyone within a 20-yard radius could hear Iris’ infectious laugh.  Meanwhile, the other girl is now looking at us and wondering what’s going on.  The other father, soundly beaten, took his daughter off the swing and moved on–all while the daughter kept looking back at us and our laughter.  I started humming the music to the Charlie Daniels Band song "Devil went  down to Georgia" part after Johnny wins the contest with the devil ("you come back if you ever want to try again.  I told you once, you son of a gun, that I’m the best there’s ever been.").  Super Dad retains his crown.  Oh, I think Iris liked it too…
Y’know, most women probably would’ve shared their secrets on how to make their kids happier.  Not us men–we had to have our own version of dueling banjos (dueling babies?).  But hey–he should’ve known better.  So while I welcome the chance to chat with my fellow dads, I may have to learn to be a little more motherly… 

Iris and the Two Bears – the Age of Caring

Remember my daughter, the one who bit your kid?  The one who imitated the Incredible Hulk, clenching her fists and gritting her teeth?  The one whose only “attachment object” until now was her birthday balloon that sadly lost its air over time?
Well, you won’t recognize her now. 
The biting has been replaced with tons of kisses and hugs, and she could spend all day “taking care of” her bears.  It all started with a Winnie the Pooh bathtub toy (hard plastic, not-at-all-cuddly).  He came with his own towel.  So while I scrubbed Iris, she scrubbed Pooh in the tub.  The next morning, she was “brushing” his teeth with her toothbrush.  Then she was carrying him all over the house and wouldn’t let go.  She took him on car rides and to our PEPS meeting.
Next she extended her caring to a much cuddlier teddy bear named Easton.  (Easton was named after a child who survived cancer, and was given to Iris by Gigi – her great grandmother.)   Iris loves to squeeze Easton tightly, emphatically saying “bear” with clearer diction each time.
And now she’s added a “3rd bear”: actually a bunny – extra special because she says “hophophop” and hops it around the house. 
All of this provides a wonderful alternative to aggressive behavior.  If she bites or grabs, just one mention of the word "kiss" results in her showering love on the person (or stuffed animal, or bath toy).  And I’ve found that if Pooh or Easton is willing to do something, so is Iris – whether it’s taking a bath, brushing teeth, or getting dressed.  We also have new games to play with her animal friends, like "where is bear’s nose?" – very convenient for car trips!
No matter what, a kiss or hug from Iris just makes my day.  Iris, may what you’re learning now about caring for others last forever, bringing you happy and long lasting relationships throughout your life.
love, mom

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