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‘Boy Energy’ Is A Good Thing — I Think

8 Mar

Sundays at church I look around and it seems most toddlers Reid’s age are being quietly held by their parents, napping on their parent’s shoulder or silently popping Cheerios. Reid is up talking to people sitting around us, playing peek-a boo and constantly moving from the floor to the seats.

I wouldn’t say he misbehaves. He’s just busy and active.

My wife and I were talking about preschool with a good friend of ours who’s an elementary school teacher. She said it will teach him skills he needs, “like sitting still.”

Being an only child not in day care, I worry about Reid learning social skills. Like every parent,  I worry about him learning colors, letters and numbers.

I don’t really care if my two-year-old can’t sit still.

Reid is an active, curious, slightly mischievous little boy. I think that’s awesome.

I’m concerned how he’ll do in school with this personality though. I’m further concerned that my nurturing these wild ways will put me in conflict with his classroom teachers.

A friend of mine with two boys of her own, posted an article on her Facebook page from the Toronto Star about a Canadian educator’s views on “boy energy.” My friend, Kris-Ann, blogged about her decision whether public school or a Montessori education is best for her son with special needs.

I’m glad more parents and educators are looking at the unique challenges of educating young boys. It’s a struggle to harness Reid’s energy and make sure he is developing and learning new things. But I think it’s also a lot of fun as his parent.

We review letters floating in his tub many nights. Through the splashes and pouring water over his head he’ll repeat “D, makes Da sound, like dog.”

I understand things will change when Reid gets into a classroom setting. I don’t want his behavior to be a disruption. But I hope he stays active and engaged with people around him. I don’t want to screw that up.

Do you have concerns about how your son will do – is doing — in preschool? Any elementary school teachers want to weigh in?

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We Don’t Bite Our Friends…

1 Mar

My family sat a row behind another mom, dad and son towards the back of our church for months. It’s the easiest escape with a screaming toddler to sit in the back.

Over the course of several weeks we got to know Tommy and his parents a little. This was about a year ago, so Reid was about 1 1/2. Tommy had just turned 2 years old.

The boys would often share toys and snacks over the chairs. My wife and I would chat with Tommy’s parents for a minute or two after mass and the boys seemed to get along.

On the way to church one Sunday my wife excitedly told me she wanted to suggest we have a play date with Tommy. That Sunday must have been particularly crowded at mass, because we sat on opposite ends of the same row as Tommy’s family.

I’m a tad of a helicopter dad. It’s unusual that I let Reid out of arms reach from me. But that week I was feeling brave, and it seemed inevitable that the two boys would be drawn together like toddler magnets.

Reid made his way to Tommy and his parents during mass, passing a half dozen other people sitting between us and Tommy.

The rest is a blur. Tommy’s mom swooped him up with him screaming and ran out of the church. Reid was crying but unscathed. My wife and I reeled Reid back in, trying to figure out what happened. Literally through a game of telephone in the middle of mass, we found out Reid bit Tommy. On the face.

My wife checked on Tommy. He was bleeding and needed ice to keep the swelling down. They were calling their pediatrician.

There are few things in parenting young kids that can make you more mortified by your child. I’d much rather have the child who was bitten than the child doing the biting.

We thought Reid was Hannibal Lecter.

Preschool-aged children will sometimes bite out of aggression. At 1 1/2, I’m confident Reid was overly excited to see his friend. Kisses turned into a bite and it seems to have gone along with teething.

It’s a teachable moment for Reid that our actions can hurt others. It’s a teachable moment for me that I need to let Reid out of arms reach. Sometimes I’ll be mortified by what ensues. Other times I’ll be proud.

Still, that play date never happened. We changed where we sit at mass after that incident.

Has your kid had a problem with biting?

Sites on Biting:

A Pissed Off Toddler Can Be Fun

25 Jan

My wife posted a Huffington Post blog post  ‘Don’t Carpe Diem ‘by Glennon Melton on her Facebook page. Melton has a great blog called Momastery.

This particular post was on how mothers have an expectation that every moment with their child be some sort of magical, spiritual gift to be captured in a time capsule.  Melton says moms need to get over that.

My first reaction was our own recent heart-break makes me less than sympathetic to any parent complaining about the stresses of having three children. I don’t doubt it’s very stressful, but it’s a problem I’d love to have right now.

But I also know Reid’s brattiness and crying has never effected me on the level that it seems to bother my wife. Now that he’s 2 1/2, I’ll even egg him on. I’ll sing “Reidee’s mad, and I’m glad, and I know how to please him….”

I’m the sort of dad and husband who literally pokes at Reid and my wife when they want me to leave them alone.

A lady at Target this week flashed me a funny look when I told Reid “I think you’re grossly overreacting” in the middle of a temper tantrum in the store.

If I spend eight to ten hours with Reid, he’s honestly only bratty for 15 minutes or so.

Still there seems to be something more biological going on with my wife. She can’t bear to hear him scream or cry.

Here’s a dad secret: It’s not that I didn’t hear the baby cry in the middle of the night. If I thought he needed to be changed or needed a bottle, I’d split the shifts with my wife. But I can sleep just fine if he’s crying. My wife can’t.

It’s also funny —  no matter how hard a day I have with Reid, I miss him when he goes to bed. I’m not sure it’s about seizing the moment. Any given moment can suck. But I do try to seize the day.  Carpe Diem.

A Sporting Dad, I Am Not

20 Jan

There aren’t many ‘Connecticut dad blogs’ out there – or really many dad blogs in general. Ron Goralski has a good one on Patch, “The Sporting Dad’s View.”

I myself am far from a sporting dad. I’m still years away from Reid playing any sort of organized sports. I describe myself as a causal sports fan. I also think my interests are the result of my Connecticut upbringing. I’m passionate about UConn basketball. I’ll root for any team from UConn. I love baseball, siding with the Yankees. I’ll always have a spot in my heart for the Whalers and think the game of hockey is the most skillful combination of speed and strength I’ve ever seen.

Still, any kid with my genes is destined for a great deal of disappointment in sports. I was a terrible athlete growing up. My West Hartford Youth Soccer coach recommended to my parents I stop playing, for fear that I’d hurt myself. I was still in the “minor league” of West Hartford Youth Baseball at 12, when the league rule was all 12-year-olds should play in the older, top league.

I had my most success in basketball, mostly because I hit 6-feet-tall when I was in middle school. Still, by sophomore year, I was cut from even the JV team at Conard.

I often wonder if even watching sports with Reid just sets him up for failure.  Any kid watching baseball will want to play.

I did learn a lot from sports. Basketball taught me to be more assertive. If a ball was loose I figured I might as well be the one to come down with it. A coach actually encouraged me to growl when I went for a rebound or blocked shot.

I literally lost a front tooth when trying out for the Sedgewick Middle School baseball team. A few days later I was playing Little League.

Not making the Conard basketball team was the start of me finding who I was. I was a terribly nerdy, awkward kid who’d never be a high school jock. I didn’t hit stride until well into college, but I set out as a poetry writing beatnik in high school after I learned to give up on the lettermen jacket.

I’d love Reid to play baseball and hockey. I also want him to play guitar and the piano. I want him to perform in plays and be a spoken word poet. What ever he wants to do I’ll encourage him.

I’d also really like him to be a Yankees fan.

Maybe by the grace of God Reid will get his hand-eye-coordination from my wife’s side.

Breast feeding: Dads Can’t Do It

19 Jan

Breast-feeding didn’t go well for my wife. She tried for six weeks and truly was out of her mind by the time her mom and I finely convinced her that enough was enough. It no doubt was a big factor in her postpartum depression.

As a dad, breast-feeding is a bit like child-birth. There isn’t a hell of a lot I can do.

By all accounts, breast-feeding is best for baby. I’d encourage all moms to be patient and stick with it. From what other friends have told me, it’s rarely the sort of easy natural biological thing that I might expect. It takes time for baby and mom to figure it out. But with patience, most moms can do it. Dad has very little to do with it. I did do the Enfamil-in-a-syringe-hooked to-a-tube-taped-to-my-finger thing (aka “finger feeding) for quite a while to supplement Reid’s feedings.

The tiny amount of formula in the tube is amazing considering two years later my kid was easily eating three hot dogs at a clip.

A father’s job is to take a punch or two, tell mom to take deep breaths and have lots of good cries. Breast feeding is not anything to give-up on easily.

One of the keys to parenting seems to be trying to give your child every opportunity you can. It’s hard to accept when you simply can’t seem to give your child something you know would help them. But it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent.

It’s not the last time we’ll not be able to give Reid something we want him to have. It just sucked the lesson came so early.

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