Blink—And They're Grown

Parents, Families and Child Care


1 Comment

Honoring the Memory of My Grandparents

grandparentThere are so many things that remind me of the past. Music, food, people, sounds, smells and experiences often have a connection to our ancestors. As a child I was blessed to know three of my great-grandmothers and both sides of grandparents.

  • My grandfather (mom’s dad) was a very charismatic, outgoing, jovial man. From an early age, he taught me how to cook and shared his love of food through traveling during summers, cooking at festivals all over Ohio. He also helped me through many stages of my Eagle Scout project which is still an important accomplishment for me.
  • One great-grandmother (dad’s grandmother) was the wife of a preacher, keeper of the family bible, and was very instrumental in the faith and belief of God throughout our large family tree.
  • My granny (mom’s grandmother) was a selfless volunteer who loved the outdoors and had a creative mind. We would often go out to the Masonic Home to help and visit with people. She taught my mom to sew, who in turn taught me.

I have many fond memories of doing things with my grandparents; they were so supportive in whatever I attempted. All showed me love beyond measure, respect and empathy for others, and made a huge impact on the man that I became. They spoiled me in the best of ways—especially with time.

I want my children to have similar memories and experiences with grandparents, family and close friends. Experiences lead to adventures and real life learning. We have some worry however, because our family is very spread out. My father passed long ago and our children’s other grandfather lives halfway around the world. It is very difficult to travel with two young children—especially when it’s far away. My mom visits her grandchildren regularly. They explore the outdoors, listen, talk and read together. Their aunt Deb (very close friend) dotes on both of our children, especially our son. She has made so much effort to be part of their lives. My son’s first sleep over was at her house. She sends cards, surprises and visits when she can. We realize that our children are young, but these early memories in their childhood last a lifetime.

There are many different perspectives of raising children, but we feel it takes a village to raise a child. We look for surrogate relationships that will make those memories and experiences for our children. As we look back to our past, we want to plant the seeds for our children’s past in the present. “Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That’s why it is called the present.” We are our children’s first teachers and will have to fill their lives with memories of our parents and grandparents. I can think of nothing better to honor my late family members than to pass down the lessons that I learned from them.


Give Your Kids a Piece of Yourself

dad son time

In this guest post, 4C Parent Services Specialist Dan Scheiman shares a reflection on fatherhood.

“Noble fathers have noble children.” -Euripides

When it comes to fatherhood, the above quote seems to say it all.

Be noble. Be honest. Be kind. And, maybe most of all, be present in your child’s life.

The first few on the list are actually easy. Treat your kids the way you want to be treated and in the way you want your kids to be treated by everyone they encounter. Be the measure that your children hold everyone they know up to and then be the one they feel safe enough to come to when things get tough and their heads fill with questions.

Being present is the tricky one. Things like work can get in the way. Life in general can get in the way and, something I can relate to, divorce can get in the way. So, at some point, every dad and every parent for that matter, has looked at their watch or even a calendar and wondered if they’ve made enough time for their kids.

But, here’s where that whole being noble, kind and honest thing comes in. For those times when despite your best efforts, you can’t physically be there, give your kids a big piece of yourself to carry with them and the confidence in you to know that you’re never too far away.

My dad passed away a few weeks ago so he is no longer physically present in my life and, while I could look to the things he didn’t do, the things he missed or left to my mom, I’d rather celebrate how he taught me to be honest, to be kind, and how to treat others, which by the way, had a lot to do with how he treated my mom. Those lessons became a guide for me through my life and through my divorce. 

I can’t count the number of times I have tormented my now nineteen-year-old son with “You’re…umm…ok after the stuff with your mom and I…yeah…umm…I mean the divorce?” The first few times were, to say the least, awkward, but we talked a lot and, after talking a lot, his responses have become, “Dad, geez, I’m fine. I talked to mom the other day; she’s good and says hi. Can we grab some Chipotle?”

My son has been home but will be heading back to college soon and, while I’ll miss him and worry from time to time, I know he has that piece of me with him. So, even with him hundreds of miles away, he knows I’m there which, regardless of the distance, always makes me present in his life.

All of this can be downright scary, believe me, I know, so here’s another quote to inspire you.

“Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Parenting is a mighty high staircase to climb. Do it one step at a time. Have faith in yourself and your kids to do what’s right.


1 Comment

My 5-Year-Old Wants to Be a YouTube Star

youtube

When Schmee was 2 ½ we received an iPad from my parents (ugh) and he has not been “the same” since. Oh, we let him indulge for awhile keeping to a specific regimen of Shaun the Sheep and a free Curious George game but obviously we couldn’t keep the lid shut for long. Over time Schmee developed great skill at navigating websites and apps and would stay at it for hours—probably days, if we would’ve let him. From time to time, especially when it was convenient for us, we may have let him stay on there for longer than we normally would’ve liked. Who knew that the iPad would be a savior for ridding his head of lice (kept him from squirming and complaining)? But it also led him to a dark place.

After watching what we felt was enough he would get a reminder that his time was almost up and he would seem to agree, nodding and saying, “Uh huh.” When that time came though, he wasn’t cooperative; he was rather combative. It’s almost like you could see the evil swell up inside him and the aura around him would grow black like something out of a Stephen King book.

His fascination with Wild Kratts turned to toy reviews. Oh my! Who knew that toy reviews could be so entertaining? If it’s a toy and someone reviewed it you can bet he’s watching it—regardless of gender, age range, or reviewer. It seems that he has toys on his mind 24/7—I don’t know how many hundreds of hours he’s watched, and it certainly doesn’t help that he gets up in the middle of the night and finds the iPad to continue watching. He acts out reviews in his play. He’s using the same language used by reviewers. You can tell when he channels certain reviewers because the language changes, the emphases change. In short—he’s obsessed.

He asked mom to play with him the other day but that didn’t work out so well. Why? Because she didn’t “do it” right. Schmee wanted to call the guy from YouTube and have him come over to play (cute, but in a that-hurts-Mom’s-feelings kind of way).

So what do you do? He found out that he can make videos and put them online so now he wants to shoot videos and post them. We figured that might be a good way to channel this energy. So now the conversation is about how we need to buy toys so he can review them! Or—I sort of like this— in his words we could, “sell my old toys, but only to my friends so I could still play with them sometimes, and we could use that money to buy new toys to review.” Apparently children make a lot of money doing this toy review thing and I’m all for supporting his interest, but at what expense? This has complications written all over it, don’t you think?


Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

steps forward

It’s been a few weeks since Schmee started kindergarten and in that time I have seen a lot of behavior changes from him that I wasn’t expecting. As it turns out, we are all trying to deal with new environments, schedules and routines in different ways.

Schmee is what I call “slow-to-warm.” When he is put in a situation that he is unfamiliar with, his tendency is to stay back and observe. My wife calls him “cerebral” which is probably an apt description. He prefers to keep a low profile and soak in his surroundings, and any attention given to him during this time sparks some “strange” (by others definition) behaviors like glaring with his eyes wide and sometimes even roaring like a dinosaur. These behaviors are his coping mechanisms and I know that it’s important for him to take the time to figure out how he feels. I know this is a selfish expectation, but I feel as though I am responsible for his behavior and should somehow control or influence how he reacts to situations. It also feels embarrassing to be the one with the “strange” kid. I am sure other parents don’t notice as much as I feel like they do, but that is the story in my head. The other kids at school seem to really like Schmee. When we arrive at the gates of the playground for drop off they run outside the fence to greet him. I think they really like him and want him to join in their play. And he will. On his terms.

Sweet Pea has also displayed changes in her behavior, which have manifested in a completely different way than Schmee’s coping mechanisms. She appears to know that Schmee no longer attends the same school because every morning she walks in the direction of his old preschool room and looks confused about why we aren’t going that way anymore. She has also begun to be very clingy to her mother. At the same time, she only recently started in her toddler room and is already showing signs of successful toilet training (YAY!), so that is a positive change!

What’s driving us (mom and dad) crazy is that now we have two children going through intense changes. We tried as best as we could to prepare our children for these changes, and yet we are still facing all types of behaviors that we either have not seen in a long time or have never, ever seen. These behavior changes are difficult to understand as parents, partly because we’ve been through some of them before and thought they were dealt with. It’s like a forever loop of constant battles and frustration. But having been through these challenges before, we are prepared to meet them, and better prepared for new challenges that will pop up in the future. I only hope we make it through sooner rather than later.


1 Comment

Feels Like Yesterday

“They grow up so fast, don’t they?!”

I don’t like that phrase. It may have something to do with the fact that, in my mind, we grow everyday, which means no one day different than any other. Some days seem to go by more quickly than others, and sometimes weeks seem to go by so quickly that I wonder where the time went, what I did and maybe even ask myself if I did enough.

What would I’d like to consider instead?

“Have I remembered enough of my time with them?”

Time does not stop and nor should the memories.

I remember the drive with my mom when I first left for college: we talked about all of the things she was concerned about, how much she was going to miss me, and how she reminded me that she’d packed enough peanut butter crackers to feed a small army and should I run out she could send more… it feels like yesterday.

I remember when Schmee Wee was born and holding him, cooing and smiling as he yawned that new born yawn – you know, the one that makes you melt with pure joy. I remember his first successful steps on his own, how he stumbled at first rising up on the ball and tiptoes of his right foot, hands splayed in the air, planting his left foot firmly on the floor, smiling a five-toothed smile… that feels like yesterday, too.

I remember Sweet Pea smiling as I tickled her chin within her first few weeks of life, reflexive, perhaps, but so joyful and darn cute! The time she spoke her first recognizable word couldn’t have made her big brother happier as she pointed to him while saying his name… you guessed it, yesterday.

They don’t grow up fast. I just don’t count the minutes waiting for something to happen because something will always happen and things will never be dull for long. I hope to continue to be so busy that I don’t remember the boring parts. When that time comes, maybe I’ll agree that they grow up so fast.


In an Instant

When Schmee’s preschool class went on a trip to the zoo, it was the first day in a long time that he woke up early on his own and exclaimed, “It’s zoo day! Time to get up!” He even picked out his clothes and put them on with little reminding.

With lunches made and sunscreen applied, all that was left was to get Schmee and Mom out the door while Sweet Pea and I lingered behind to make a slower trek to her child care center. Schmee was super excited and Sweet Pea was all giggles, but as we started to say our goodbyes an emergency diaper change necessitated that Sweet Pea and I dash upstairs while Schmee and Mom headed out.

And then things went south.

Once we were back downstairs, Sweet Pea had a meltdown unlike any I’ve seen in while. What did she need? I offered her food, toys, shoes, a brush, all to no avail. Frustrated, I opened the refrigerator to get something and Sweet Pea grabbed a yogurt. Excellent. She wanted yogurt, no problem! Yet as soon as I took it to open the top, she took off running, screaming, crying. I tried offering it back, even put a spoon in the cup. No! She went to the door and stood there screaming. I must have asked about everything I could think of and when I couldn’t think of anything else that’s when I lost it. My questions turned to irrational statements that I know were probably not appropriate, regardless of her disposition. I quickly gathered our things and opened the door and she ran outside. It’s a good thing the steps were there to slow her down.

As we made our way down the driveway it dawned on me. Mom and Schmee had vanished! Or at least so she thought as she looked around, whimpering. What a fool I was. How inconsiderate of me. As I reflected on the past ten minutes I realized that I had scooped her up to change her diaper and she didn’t know that the other half of the family was leaving.

It could have gone so much more smoothly, but perhaps next time I will be more reflective in the moment.


Enjoy the Weather

A lot of the people I’ve spoken with lately are done with winter. Repeatedly digging out the car with cold, wet, dirty, icy and frozen fingers has really taken its toll and they just want to move on. I have a different view: Cherish these days.

Let me explain.

My family looks forward to the snow and ice for several reasons. For one, it gives us something new to do. Just today we made airplane seats out of a mountain of snow shoveled from the driveway, complete with arm rests and cup holders. We basked in our seats for awhile before Schmee decided to head off with his “jet pack” to another place. The ice blocks found lying around became crashed asteroids from space and we needed to get them to a safe place before the dinosaurs smashed them. Or Sweet Pea, whichever came first.

Little Pea doesn’t really like slipping and sliding on the ice, but I know she is further developing those muscles and learning to balance better because she’s working on not falling down. You can see the wonderment through the tears as she stares at the forms created with her hands and feet. The other day after taking a few steps she looked back behind her and pointing said, “Guh!” Then cracked a crazy chuckle as she took some more steps.

I want to be there with Schmee and Sweet Pea through everything, no matter how cold it gets. Truthfully we don’t really have that many cold days here in Cincinnati. We average only 81 days a year below 40 degrees. The other 284 days are spent in relatively warm weather. Besides, if properly bundled and layered, you’d be surprised how much cold we humans can tolerate.

In our region we have the luxury of enjoying a wide variety of weather patterns, and winter is just as important as summer. To those wishing for warmer days, I say, “Bring the kids. We’ll make footprints and first-class plane seats.”