Good Morning Sunshine

How do you take your coffee? Or perhaps you prefer tea? Or orange juice? Or maybe just water? I’d like a Coke, but I’m on day two of cessation. So far no caffeine withdraw headache. But I’d still really like one.

I was hoping this morning’s run would summon my idea pallet. No summoning happened. Instead it was a quiet, foggy four miles with Crash cycling beside me. We set a goal of 34 minutes and beat it by 10 seconds. But it was never about the numbers. The scenery was picture worthy, but we were so enraptured by the it that I didn’t even think of it. I usually do my best brainstorming during my runs. This morning my brain was as quiet as Mother Nature. I was wracking my brain for some kind of juicy, meat and potatoes, awe inspiring post.

Sorry, this isn’t it.

The best words of wisdom I can come up with at the moment is

Nevermind the numbers.

What if your blog received one view every single day? No more, no less. Well, maybe less. Would you still write? Would you write differently?

Would I write differently? I’ve made my blog mostly about being a dad. Which, when I look back at previous posts, really isn’t any different than being a mom. Or perhaps I just write about being a dad like a mom would. With the exception of childbirth and breastfeeding, they’re nearly identical positions. While I wouldn’t mind the breastfeeding aspect, child birthing isn’t for me.

I think and I say I wouldn’t write differently if I didn’t get the views. But deep down inside, I think I would cater to my readers. If that one view was always from my “Month in Review” post, I would write more reviews. I would provide more stats than the MLB. If it was my short stories that garnered the view I would join more photo prompt clubs.

I know parenting (mostly) and I know humor (mostly) and I know writing from the heart (mostly). Writing what you mean and meaning what you say is more important than the numbers. Especially if you’re professing your love of pigeons. Crash’s posts get 5-15 views each time he blogs. He still asks to write posts. He’s working on his next draft at this very moment.  He also sees that I get 50+ views and he thinks he isn’t getting enough. I see others getting 100+ and I think I’m not getting enough. I’m sure those 100+ people see others getting 200+, 500+ or 1,000+ views and think they’re not getting enough. What would be “enough”?

We write anyway. We parent anyway.

So my advice today is ignore the numbers. Whether you’re blogging and hoping to become “popular” or you’re running and hoping become “fast” or parenting and hoping to “survive” ignore the numbers and do what you love to do. Do what you do best. Do what is best for you, your blog, your kids, your whatever.

Just do.

just do

And while your at, please join us for a new, fun blogging challenge.


Why these strategies don’t work for us

I was reading an article the other day about parenting techniques for discipline. For each one, I could think of reasons why their “fixes” would not work for our two. Theoretically, they sounded great. But in practice? They’d flop like a fish outta water.

Their first suggestion was to stop being so negative.

“Don’t hit your sister!” “Stop pulling the dog’s tail!” The number of things you tell your toddler or preschooler not to do is endless.

THE FIX: Ask for the behavior you want to see.

In theory, this sounds great. Redirect your child instead of constantly telling them no, don’t. However, especially with our two boys, this wouldn’t work. They need to know that what they are doing is not allowed. They need to know you can’t dance on the table because it’s not safe for them or the table. They need to know they can’t jump on each other because one of them will get hurt. They can’t jump from 5th stair, stay up late on a school night, or have cookies for breakfast. Without understanding the consequences they’ll do it again.

Their second suggestion was to show them, not tell them.

You’re sitting in church when your toddler shouts. As soon as you shush him, he does it again. Mortifying! Why doesn’t he listen?

THE FIX Play teacher.

In this case, the reason your toddler shouted was because they heard a sound they’d never heard before: their voice echo in large, open area. They didn’t do it to mortify and embarrass you. Sure you could whisper to them that they need to whisper like you. But whispering is not nearly as much fun as echoing. And I’m sure more than one person turned to see who shouted. When they see it was your adorable one they’ll smile which will, naturally, only encourage more shouting. Like the day I put our two boys in a racquetball room. Once they heard the echo they couldn’t keep quiet. After a minute they were being as loud as they could be simply to hear the echo.

The third suggestion.

When you drop something, you yell. A man cuts you off and you call him a rude name. But then you get mad if your kid reacts the same way when things don’t go her way.

THE FIX Apologize and take a do-over.

In their story, they tell us about a mom, Deena, who used this technique when her 5 year old protested so much about getting dressed that she snapped, “Just shut up and get dressed!” Realizing this was not how she’d want her son to react in a similar situation, she knelt down, apologized, then talked about how important it is to be on time for school. It worked: Owen got ready for school calmly after that. Owen didn’t ready for school because mom apologized. Owen got ready because mom went bat shit crazy. Bat shit crazy is a useful technique to get kids moving. They don’t understand seriousness until some one snaps.

The fourth piece of advice I can agree with.

You hear your children chasing each other around the house and immediately shout.

THE FIX Ignore selectively.

See? This one I sort of agree with. Essentially it’s let kids be kids. Kids are loud. Often times kids are busy. They go go go. Ours like to play rough. Crash outweighs Bang by 30 pounds or so, but that doesn’t stop Bang from trying to wrestle his big brother. I don’t necessarily ignore it, but I do selectively watch it. I’m a bit like the ref. I keep them safe and from hurting each other. It’s when they’re quiet and out of sight that worries me. Scares me, really.

The fifth piece of advice.

“Turn off the TV… I’m serious this time… Really!” Your kids continue bad behavior when warnings are vague for the same reason you run yellow lights — there aren’t consequences.

THE FIX Set limits and follow through.

Well okay. Got me again. I like this piece. I have seen on numerous occasions parents who say “5 more minutes” and a half hour later they’re still saying “5 more minutes”. Or “Don’t do that or we’re going home.” They do it again and again and again and they never went home. Empty threats. If you make an ultimatum, you stick to it otherwise all your child has learned is to not take you seriously.

The sixth suggestion.

When you send your 3-year-old to his room after he hits his brother, he starts banging his head on the floor in rage.

THE FIX Consider a time-in.

I don’t fully agree with this. Though they do say “consider”. Depending on the warranted behavior, this may work. Usually, for us, it only works when they’re tired, cranky, and over stimulated. So instead of sending them chill out alone, I’ll go with them and we’ll read. Sometimes it take two books sometimes it takes eight. However, if they’re arguing, fighting, being defiant, etc… they’ll be sent to chill by themselves. Then they’ll have to listen to me lecture to them. They hate that more being by themselves. Lastly, our two boys aren’t ones to be hugged when they’re cranking about something. Sad, sure. But when they’re hurt or cranky, frustrated or angry they don’t want to be touched. Hell, when teh four year old is happy he often has to be bribed for a hug.

Finally, their last piece of advice is quite contradictory.

The best way to deal with your son’s whining is to get down at eye level and explain how his actions need to change. But your daughter is more aggressive and refuses to listen.

THE FIX Develop a diverse toolbox.

After a thousands words offering advice on how to discipline, they ended by telling you that these strategies will work on every child. In other words, what they have told us, explained to us by professionals, may not be what is best for your child. No one knows your children like you do. Use some sense and do what is right for them and what’s right for you. Their final “fix” of developing a diverse toolbox is key. You will need have various forms of consequences, various strategies to get your children to understand what it is your trying to teach them. I could sit here and talk until I’m blue in the face and my thumbs fall off, but all I’ve told you are the discipline techniques that work for our two boys.

Read the advice, but ultimately, do what you need to do raise happy, healthy, and educated children. Even if you have to invent some of your own.

Sorry for the long read, but thanks for sticking it out. And if you’ve made it this far, know that I’m only a professional, expert dad. I have no degree in parenting. I didn’t even read the book. Like most of us, I’m just making it up as I go along.

Live Dragon

Never laugh at live dragon.

~ Bilbo Baggins

I read Ann’s post about her live dragon moment when her son some how managed to erase everything off her phone and she went wild. The trick do this is complicated, yet her three year managed it. Naturally, she unleashed her wrath. Afterward, I realized we all have these moments. Something that just sets us off, the straw that breaks us, when we simply lose our shit minds. Continue reading

Following Directions

I’m lazy today and short on time, so I’ve recycled this post from my days on Blogger. But it’s something that still resonates today and will likely resonate for years to come.

Crash loves to go for a walk to the local corner store with his friend (a teenager who lives next door). This evening he asked if he could go while I was mowing the yard. Of course, I said yes. But I told him he wasn’t allowed to get anything because he’d had his daily intake of junk already (Nanny and Pop had taken him to DQ for ice cream). He asked “what about a piece of gum?” I told him no, he wasn’t to get anything. He wasn’t happy, which meant he understood my direction.

Half an hour later he returns with his friend and shows me the piece of gum he got from the store. I know he didn’t take any money with him so I also know he got that quarter from his friend.

Here’s my dilemma.
1) It’s just a piece of gum. So what?
2) I told him not to get anything, yet he still did. Even if it was just a piece of gum.
3) He got money from his friend to get that piece of gum.
4) It was just a quarter.

I don’t want to over react over a piece of gum. But I don’t want to let it slide either because he did something I specifically told him not to. Also, he had to get money from his friend to get that gum. I know it was just a quarter and it was also just change left over from whatever she got for herself. But I don’t want him asking friends for money so he can buy himself stuff. Even if it is just a quarter. Even if it is just a piece of gum.

I was still mowing upon his return and I gave him a stern “I thought I told you NOT to get anything”. I could tell he clearly understood my disappointment from his expression. Later, while I was helping him get ready for bed I explained to him that if he couldn’t do as I asked he wouldn’t be allowed to go with his friend any more. He knows I’m serious.

It’s just a piece of gum.
I told him to get nothing, yet he still did. Is it too far of a leap to “I told you no drugs”?

What would you have done?

Inadaquate Parenting

Have you ever felt like what you were doing just wasn’t enough? Or questioned your own methods? Or faced a dilemma that you weren’t sure of the best possible solution (or felt like there weren’t any at all).  I’m not crying the poor me’s. I’m not fishing for compliments. However, maybe an opinion or two might help. Continue reading

Izzy May I: The Write Shot in the Foot

In response to Izzy’s “May I Write

I should title this “Izzy, may I change the topic ever so slightly?”

So I don’t really have advice for writers. How could I tell others how to do what I can’t? Well, I can write, obviously. But I only blog and I’ve only been doing that for a couple months now. However, I am a parent. I’d say I’m a  pretty darn good one, too, if I say so myself. So here’s my advice to parents. Continue reading