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Welcoming another to the flock

It has been a long time since I posted to this site.  Perhaps I have not been as forthcoming with thoughts on child rearing from the far east of the continent of North America.  The other real reason is that just a day ago we welcomed a tiny little person to our brood.  Baby C arrived just about on time and with no trouble at all.

Mom is doing well and big sister K (emphasis on the big) is handling the transition well.  First days are hard but we are all doing our parts. Grandparents have been overwhelmingly supportive and it has made all the difference. Now starts a new beginning.  Long nights and longer days to come but in the end it will be filled with a sense of love and affection.

Happy days are here…again.

 

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A kick in the pants in the nicest of ways

Sometimes I get onto a little bit of a tangent and I need to express more than what is on this series of pages. So I have a bunch of blogs for different topics.

this one takes care of my want t be a daddy and share it with the world.  Ok. Not the world per se but at least  a handful of readers who like what I have to say. You do like what I am saying, right?

To that end I just put up on my other one this little ditty The untold truths about being a dad and it is about manning up when the time is right.  And that is a difficult thing for some men to handle, especially if they have girls.

I love my little girl but I have a hard time playing barbies with her or other “girlie” games.  I try to play for as long as I can but sometimes it always ends up a little pear shaped and one of us is crying. More often than not it is my little girl 😦

Anyway, this one is meant to be encouraging to guys who need a little encouragement.  Enjoy.

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The Meaning of Dad

For a lot of dads, there is nothing at all like the difference between the days when you could go out with your buddies and have a pitcher of beer, some wings, scream at the big screen at the game and roast each other mercilessly and right now.  We all miss those days.

In the “Before Times”™, the guys I hang around with used to enjoy Thursday nights –  this was the weekly meeting of  the Chicken and Porn Club™, or as one darling wife put it “Husband Day-care”™.

It was a perfect marriage of food fun and, for the guys, it was a night where the guys could get together and the wives knew exactly where we were.  In fact this travelling circus made stops once a week at one poor unfortunate household.  The wife would be ushered out of the door with a kiss and the guys, one by one, usually dropped off by their wives with a case of beer or some snacks, would congregate to talk shop, be entertained by sports, watch a flick or play a hand or six of cards.

Husband day care was a fitting name for this weekly get together –  as the boys looked like kids being dropped off at school –  substituting books for beer and instrument for a tray of snacks the sad face said it all –  I will miss you and YES there will be a call from the Principal at the end of the day-  you can count on THAT!

We were all without kids at that time and it was a good fun.  But how times have changed –  we are all dads now ( well some of us were dads before this all began) and the time we have to get together because of familial commitments is shorter and shorter and harder to plan even once a week.

Should it be so hard?

For whatever reason, I truly miss the “Before Times”™, when I was footloose and fancy free.  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade K for the all the toys in the toy store, but there are some times when daddy has to get out and not have one more tea party and the xth cup of imaginary tea.

I have been taking to a small group of new(ish) dads about getting together for a beer and a chat on what it means to them about being a dad. These are for the most part, dads under the age of 40 with one child at least and in the case of a couple of them, at least one more on the way.

What does it mean to be a dad these days –  is it something that as men we aspire to do or is it something we begrudgingly give in to because we compromise with our partners/wives because they want to have kids?

The psychological assessments aside, there are many reasons we have kids –  for some it is accidental, for others it had the romance of a planned military strike and for others still it is because they want their homes to be filled with love and laughter every day of their lives.

So, what does it mean to be a dad?

It is more to me to be a dad than just being a person –  it is about being a part of a little person’s life forever and ever and if that means it is getting up at 3 in the morning when I have to be at work for 8 in order to sing nursery rhymes in the dark over and over –  then that is what I have to do.

If it is getting intimately acquainted with the finer points of bodily fluid clean-up at 0400 then sign me up soldier –  I’m your guy.

But on the other side of the mechanical things that daddies do for their sweet wee ones is the fact the one day the little person is going to get up – walk across the room and for no other reason other than sheer will – they give you a hug and a kiss and say the three magical words “I love you “and for that I would move mountains and fight dragons until my dying breath.

To me being a dad is something you don’t enter into easily. In fact it took years of planning and preparation and taking about it before we decided to have kids.  And to be honest it was still not a step I wanted to take.  But it took some convincing and lots of talking about the good and the bad of having kids.  I was not one who can be easily convinced that this was a good idea.  I liked the “Before Times”™.  I enjoyed the freedom of not being “burdened” by the possibility of having kids.  I liked the fact that we could spontaneously go out and do things.  With kids it is like planning an invasion.  I liked the fact that we could turn around on a dime and go out to dinner on a whim.  I liked the fact that if we wanted to get tipsy and sleep in in the morning, it was ok.

But with the addition of the little K into our lives things got well, as you all know, complicated.  No longer could we sleep in even if we wanted to and now a days we are serenaded by singing and we are glad to rise to the voice of an angel, even if we only just got to bed only hours before.

Having a marriage and having kids is a sacrifice.  It sounds cliché but it truly is just that.  We sacrifice the fact that without some outside assistance, we will never have much alone time and the needs of a smaller person must be met before all other considerations.  For me  –  that was one of the biggest adjustments to make.

I’ve written before about the jokes I used to make about kids.  I don’t any more.

I even try to be interested in other people’s children, which is a 180 turn around since the “Before Times”™.

Getting back to the real question is what is it to be a dad?  It is harder than defining what is a mother.

Dads are the odd ones out.  We are important for the development of the child but we don’t have a lot of the emotional connections that make mothers “mom’.  We are not the doting grandparents who are loved for their ability not to be mom and dad.

Being a dad meaning being in last place.  It is humbling that way.

We are the lynchpin to the whole family and we are the strong figures that support and nurture and are the overall protectors but really our job is to fade into the background.  Be there when needed.  Take them out of the house.  Play rough and tumble games.  Get dirty from the lawn. Sneak ice-cream when mom is not looking and generally we are the ones who they love the most as kids build us up to be superman.  We should be the person they come to when they really need to talk because we are safe, we love and we are protective.

In short dads are the ones who over time are the ones the children should be able to confide in because we are the protectors.  And if you do your job right –  they will.

The relationship between a dad and especially a daughter is very special. You are the framework that all men are to be judged by for the rest oft their lives.  You are the yardstick –  the measure.

Some people say little girls turn into their mothers and marry their dads.  A dad’s job is to make sure that is the best thing they ever do.

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The One Shot:  Papa’s Pier 17

Having a baby is hard. Looking after a baby is even harder. Looking after a baby with food poisoning…THE WORST

nickgardner.wordpress.com

“Dpapa-s-pier-17on’t judge a book by its cover” is a pretty good adage to apply to the restaurant industry.  We see all sorts of gadgets and gizmos and doo-dahs to get the punters through the door.

Some work extremely well – like the mecca of molecular gastronomy in Chicago, Alinea.  Dine on smoke and foam and puffs of scent.  Dining becomes theatre as well as a destination of choice.

Others are kitschy at best and at worst it becomes a distraction. IPad as menu, dining in the dark or even rube Goldberg machines that serve your food  surely make it a fun time but it begs the question –  is the food any good?

Enter Papa’s Pier 17.

When I was a little boy – and this was not yesterday – it was THE destination after a concert. The Arts and Culture Centre is around the corner from Papa’s Rowan…

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It’s Time to Stop Treating Dads Like Idiots

You know, I have to agree with him ‘s post I have to agree, being treated like a punchline in a never ending joke is a little too much to bear.

For many of us new dads who had a lot of female co workers, like I did, they seemed to take great joy in laughing at the fact that I had certain expectations as to how things were going to go with raising my child.  I don;t think they understood, that I really did have my wits about me and I could, in fact tailor my daughter to the ways in which do things.  She’s 2 and she understands,  because I am kind and gentle and I reinforce – gently – how things are.

Luckily my wife is fantastic and does not call me the idiot with the child –  she did find this post amusing herself.

It is just like this, as Gouveia says –  if you lower the bar so that we have nothing to go for, we’ll do the damned littlest possible.  If you set the expectations high – GAME ON!

My top three tips for dealing with a wife who calls you dumb

Have a diaper changing race – I can do a full dirty diaper in the time that most people take to read this paragraph.  I have treated it like an F1 pit-stop since she was a little one and I am pretty  slick at doing it.  Train hard and get it done fast and clean. 

Watch what your wife puts on your kids and when she is not looking –  take a quick picture.  If the little one likes photos –  use video and get her to spin around.  So the next time you are asked to get the kid ready –  pull out the phone.  Check the “outfit”, apply and WIN!!

the last one would be the hardest and this is talk it out – my wife can’t understand how I can sit down and read a book or newspaper when “playing” with my daughter.  She can’t even begin to pull out her favorite mag without the calls of Mommy.  Here’s my secret –  I just ask for some alone time.  K brings me some imaginary tea every once and a while –  I sip it and ask for more and that’s it. No big secret.  Talking it out can be hard especially since this ins emotionally charged.  But look at it this way –  if you are being relegated to the second string because your partner thinks you’re inept ask for a good reason.

It takes two or more to raise a kid these days.  If you are in it for the duration as most of us are – then get it right.  Get on the same page and make it the best experience possible.

Dads aren’t dumb at all, but we play dumb real quick when we have to.

“What honey, your favorite shirt was dry-clean only Opps sorry ’bout that. It got caught up in the wash.”

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up in the air

Of the noises we hear every day, the one which most people would agree would be the most piercing is the cry of a child.  And it seems when up in the air, the sound is magnified tenfold.

I have always thought that traveling with a baby has to be a nightmare.  I mean, when I was YAS (young and single), it was as easy as purchasing a ticket and hop on and go.  But not anymore.  Flying with a little one needs as much organizational manpower as the military uses for invasion.

PPPPP

When Flying is seems that the more prepared you are, the easier time you will have.  that is why the 5 P’s of travel need to be adhered to: Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance-  in other words, prepare now so later is easier.

Before Flying

Check what kind of bags you can take?  Does baby get her own?

We found when we recently went to the UK that Baby K got her own suitcase PLUS could check a car seat PLUS a carry on (see diaper bag notes) PLUS an umbrella stroller to the gate.  Let us just say we maximized our allowables. Some carriers have restrictions and others still charge for excess baggage.  Check with the air carrier before you get to the airport to avoid hassle.

Passports

So if you are going to another country, remember, baby has to have her own passport.  As much of a drag as it is, a passport is a useful thing.  the picture, on the other hand was a bit more problematic. Like most countries we had to get a picture of our child with NO EXPRESSION.  Nada, zip.  You know how difficult it is to dress a cranky child –  well hang on because it is much worse than that.  Our little one likes to smile, frown, pout, blow kisses so having a professional who specializes in taking passport pictures of children is the best route to go.  While Baby K squirmed, he managed to get the perfect mug shot. She looks like a miniature drug dealer. Swell.

The good (and bad) thing about the baby passports is that they only last 3 years because babies change so quickly, but on the other hand it was only $25.  Also remember that both parents and the child must have a passport extending a minimum of 6 months beyond the ticketed return date.

It’s not a diaper bag…

So as the daddy on this trip, I also get to be the personal pack mule of the family.  Hey,I am not complaining but if I have to lug around stuff it had better look manly.

My wife has this beautiful calf skin bag we got in Paris and this was to be the diaper bag for the trip.  After careful consideration of the situation and totting up the odds of me having to carry the bag at some time during the trip I opted for something a bit more rugged and reliable bag – a Swiss Army backpack.

The padding was superior I could toss it over one shoulder and it didn’t look like I was totting dirty diapers.  And using my ingenious compartmental system of zip-lock bags –  any fear of leaks, smells or trouble was instantly abated.

Compartmentalize that stuff..

I have a good system of keeping things all together and one which takes up the least amount of space – Ziplock Bags.

I packed into a relatively small space a ziplock bag which contained a package of wipes, 12 diapers, diaper disposal bags, Vaseline, penneton cream and a small change pad.

In one of the extra large bags I got in 8 bottles filled with powder formula as well as a small “sippy cup”.  This was the best way to fly as we could simply ask for hot water and some ice-cubes to make a quick bottle.  Here’s a helpful tip about bottles –  you have to get the temperature just right. For a 300ml bottle fill the bottle with 200 ml with hot water (like to make tea) and then fill with small ice cubes.  Total volume should make 300 ml and make it perfect temperature.  If it doesn’t –  a little more water to warm it up works well to balance it all out. Depending on the age of your child – this pile lasted a 5 hour flight to the UK as well as a full day of travel to our accommodation.

Practical stuff

If in doubt…rent – Packing all the equipment needed to have a good vacation is akin to making invasion plans. So services like Baby Loft for a feel will deliver to you whatever you need from strollers to cribs to toys.

Travel with a plan – unless you have kids who are energizer bunnies, traveling days are going to be short. We found that two days of going about followed by a “down day” made for a happy kid.  On the down days we did things like small walks or finding a local high street to have a coffee and window shop.

Have one night a date night – This might not be at all practical for most travelers, but since we were over there to see family we had a receiving line of cousins and aunties who would have jumped at the chance to snuggle with a little bundle. Sometimes, if you are at a hotel, the concierge service can hook you up with a babysitting service.  We stuck to family.  So a night out (a little later than normal as we stayed for bedtime) and a half bottle of wine and it felt like we were dating again.  vacation is about rejuvenation.  Remember to rejuvenate your own batteries or it will be harder once you get back.

In Part 2 I’ll dig deeper into packing and other useful things for the baby on the move.  Until then..

Night Night

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Life after baby..ish

So life has moved on a bit since I last posed something.

Like all new dads, life, work and of course familial engagements have taken up most of the time.  Even thought I work from home, I still find it is much more enjoyable to see people after a hard day than to write about it.  Well…that and a dram of Scotch helps too.

The little one –  not so little now as she is topping the scales at over 25lbs and moved to a forward facing baby seat.  She is one of those kids who develops faster than others –  not tooting horns – but the kid is a sponge.  Word association is very good and verbose ( among those she trusts only, and never with strangers) this little fireball of energy is a full borne toddler and… whoa is that hard to deal with.

Being a dad is sometimes abut laying down the law “NO! You are not supposed to jump on the sofa!” and part time crime boss – ” “Why don’t we jump on the bed instead, mommy will never find out”.  It is tough being the dad.  Sure the little one is ready to say “daddy” and melt your tough outer shell, and we don’t go nearly as much through the long wailing over attachment, like the wives do.  But it is still hard.

Days are long. Fights with spouses are more intense –  life gets far more complex.

People asked me when I was very new at being the dad if I could remember life before kids.  I said sure.

The trip to Paris to live in an apartment.  To England twice.  Exceptional meals with friends and long summer nights under the stars flitting away the time until morning…sure I remember the “before times” – but they are slowly fading away.  Now all can concentrate on is the today and maybe the tomorrow.

Life happens fast.  If you blink –  it will pass you by.

Concentrate on the things that matter –  for me it is family, wife and work –  and the rest will look after themselves.

On to some more work –  a bottle and bedtime.

Night night.