Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Birthday from Dada

Happy third birthday, Bella!

Today is a day for thanksgiving. I am most thankful for my family, and especially you on your birthday!

Your brother turns 16 months today. He is a sweet little boy. That’s parent code for ‘he’s a handful’! He is at that stage where I cannot wait for him to go down for a nap, and once he’s down I cannot wait for him to wake back up. He is extremely vocal, but he’s not talking yet. It seems that at 16 months, a shrill scream will suffice for any form of oral communication. Here’s what he would tell you about trying to get your point across.

Want that lady in the aquarium to pay attention to you instead of the fish? Well, how about an abrupt scream as if someone had just pierced your spleen with a paring knife? When she rapidly turns her attention towards you in panicked concern, delve out a delighted smile and a snorting belly laugh. Realizing that your spleen was not pierced by a paring knife, did she turn back to the fish? Take a deep breath; you know what to do next!
Want to encourage your big sister, Caroline, to continue making that goofy face as she dances around like a baboon, attempting to amuse you with all of the charm that an eight-year-old has to offer? Hmm, maybe try grabbing every ounce of passion, breath, and angst that your little body can muster, and spill it out through your constricted vocal chords? The more decibels the better, but keep in mind that hitting the higher octaves is always preferred. When she attempts to respond in kind—despite the admonitions of Momma and Dada—you know how to double down!
Did you just smell dinner on the stove? Momma probably does not realize that you are hungry. She’ll need a reminder. Your best bet will be to bear hug her leg as she wrestles with taking the hot pan off the burner. Is she so absent minded that she is now trying to shake you from her leg? Try an audible signal. Dig deep, little buddy! Your 30-pound frame can deliver a surprisingly loud reminder. You have nearly starved to death in the two hours that has passed since your last snack, so scream it out like your life depends upon it!
Is Dada trying to change your diaper? Maybe he has already forgotten that the only thing you like less than a dirty diaper is having your diaper changed. Since this one is so messy, it’s especially important that you clearly communicate your displeasure in the diaper transaction. Remember to tuck the shoulder and roll as he starts to wipe. Arch your back aggressively; the circumstances may warrant the risk of a severed spine. Whatever you do, do not let him pin your ankles together! If he continues to try to enact this unwelcomed and unnecessary changing, you’ll need to alert others. Hyperventilate for a few seconds to ensure that you’ve got your lungs full of air. Then, let it all out!
Caroline is the quintessential young lady. She is eight going on eighteen. I recently left for a few months and I swear that your big sis changed more than your infant brother! She has a giant and kind heart, and the purity and innocence with which she loves you is beautiful. Undoubtedly, she is an excellent role model for you to follow. But, she is also a great big sister in teaching you some of the finer points on how to effectively negotiate with Momma and Dada.

The most important thing to remember with Momma and Dada is persistence and risk analysis. Want some ice cream? When Momma says ‘no’—this will always be her going-in position—ask again and remind her that it’s been forever since you’ve last had ice cream. She’s probably going to say no again. Don’t get discouraged! Instead, wait a few minutes until Momma is busy doing something else. Courtland really comes in handy in these situations. You’ll really never have to wait more than about 30 minutes before Courtland is hanging off Momma’s leg and fussing. Now is the time to ask again!
She’ll almost certainly express anger as she says ‘no’ again. She may even deliver an ultimatum. Now, here is where some adept risk analysis comes into play. Many kids would take the third ‘no’ as the final answer and surrender the prize. Don’t! On your next attempt, offer a concession. Notice how busy she is taking care of Courtland? Try something like, ‘I’ll clean up Courtland’s toys and get it myself.’ Notice how this really wasn’t even a fourth request. It was more of proposed partnership. You’ve really said, ‘Look Momma, our lives are super busy and complicated right now. You’ve got all this stuff going on with work, the house, and Courtland. I’ve got this stuff going on with the ice cream. This situation really isn’t ideal, but let’s take it for what it is and give way together.’
So, here’s the risk, Momma might get mad. You’ve made a perfectly reasonable offer, but you’re not necessarily dealing with a rational actor. She may even attempt to punish you for offering to help. The likely menu of consequences will include a temporary ban on ice cream, loss of Kindle privileges, or an eight-minute timeout on the steps. These are all bad, but remember what you’re fighting for—and at this point it’s not so much the ice cream you are fighting for as much as it’s justice. If justice is not worth the risk of an eight-minute timeout, then I don’t know what is.
Ideally, you are presently enjoying some ice cream. In the worst case, you’ve lost your Kindle. Remember that this is one battle in the greater war that Momma is waging. Now, the trick is to turn her victory into her defeat. Act contrite, apologize, summon up some giant crocodile tears as you give her a giant hug, and mention how you were just hungry because we ran out of Cheerios at breakfast. Lay low for a while, letting Momma’s guilt simmer as she slowly realizes the error in her ways. She is stubborn, so she is not going to back down on the Kindle injustice. But, you can certainly remind her that her decision has been counterproductive.
Wait until just after Courtland has gone to bed. This is usually Momma’s chance to unwind and enjoy a quick breather. If you had your Kindle, you’d be perfectly capable of giving her some well-deserved time to unwind. Since you don’t, some Momma-Caroline time is probably in order. As sweetly as possible, approach Momma as she makes her way back down the stairs from laying your brother down. It’s been awhile since the two of you have enjoyed a super messy craft project together. Perhaps it’s time to make some bead necklaces together? Or, maybe it’s time to break out the poster paint? In any case, you’ll be giving Momma the subtle yet effective reminder that enforcing irrational Kindle ultimatums hurts everyone!
Do you still not have ice cream? Dada will be home any moment. Wait until he makes himself a giant bowl and then ask him.
Momma and I are doing well. Life is busy and amazing and sometimes too busy to really appreciate how amazing it truly is. I wish that you had a chance to experience a longer life. Three-years-old was such an exciting time of discovery for Caroline! It made me feel younger to watch her explore upon every new day. I wish that today, we were carving turkey and watching you blow out birthday candles from a pumpkin pie. Here’s what Momma and I want you to know.
You are loved and you are cherished. We are thankful and proud to be your parents. We miss you so much, but we know that you are with us every moment of every day.  You are perfect just as you are! We will love you forever and we will see you again, baby girl.
We are thankful for you!


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