Category Archives: Boys

Morningside Dad: Thoughts from a Liberal Father

I am guessing that by now you are fairly familiar with my perspective as a liberal mom. Well, how about a father’s perspective? What is it like to be a liberal father raising children today? Wouldn’t you know it, my husband just happens to be a liberal father. So I sat him down tonight and asked him what his thoughts were on freedom of speech, equality, stereotypes about white men and the future of the Supreme Court. Come see what he has to say, his answers may surprise you.
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Now to give you some background about my husband, he is a 6 ft, 4” white college athletics coach. He grew up in a privileged town in Connecticut; he just completed his MBA and might be one of the smartest people I know. We’ll call him B. for the sake of this interview.

Caroline: As a liberal father, what issues are most important to you?

B: I am pretty straightforward about my values. I believe in civil rights, civil liberties, freedom of speech and every citizen having an equal opportunity to succeed.

C: And what about how your values relate to raising our children?

B: Well, our sons are part of a privileged class as two white males. I just hope I can raise them to have the same values I do.

C: So what about being a white male? What are your thoughts on affirmative action and our son’s future’s as white males?

B: It’s a topic I struggle with. I mean, why am I the bad guy? I know my race and gender give me a certain privilege but I wrestle with legislated equality sometimes. I realize sometimes we have to manufacture equal opportunity – and I get it – but I’ll admit that I struggle with this issue.

C: What have been some challenges for you as a liberal father?

B: I think I am most frustrated with the assumptions people make about me. I am a white, male coach – stereotypes are immediately drawn up. I mean, come on, even on the most progressive college campus, the Athletic department is assumed to be the last conservative bastion. As a result, comments are made around me since folks may presume I may have a certain value system which I don’t.

C: So how do you deal with that?

B: If I am at work and someone says something that I disagree with, I usually walk away or say nothing. I’ve got work to do and I am not going to start something then, but my silence usually clues them in. If I am outside of a work environment though, I do usually say something or try to start a constructive conversation about the topic. I make no apologies for my politics, take them or leave them.

C: With the new administration, what is the most important issue for you as a liberal father?

B: Apart from the obvious issues of establishing economic and global security for this country (and in turn, for our family), the appointment of the next Supreme Court justices is an extremely important issue for me. The current liberal appointments are not getting any younger. Whoever Obama chooses will leave a lasting impression on this country – probably longer than his own administration will. Do you know what kind of Supreme Court justices I want in there next?

C (smiling because I already know – and love – this answer): Tell me.

B: I want a purple haired, pierced nosed, extremely bright, straight talking lesbian from Northampton, Massachusetts appointed next. In fact, I want three of them in there!

I paused here to give him a big ol’ kiss. I love this guy.

C: Ok well gay adoption is illegal here in Florida. And you’ve heard all the threats about how legalizing gay marriage would ruin our marriage. What are your thoughts as a liberal father?

B: What in the world does my marriage have to do with two gay individuals who decide to be married? The success or failure of our marriage is strictly our responsibility. I have yet to hear one good cognizant argument against gay marriage. It is an equal rights issue that needs to be granted finally. If my sons grow up and decide that they want to love and marry another man, that is their right and I think it should be recognized, supported and protected.

C: Any final thoughts about being a liberal dad?

B: Florida is an interesting place. As far as I can tell in our area, I would say that being a liberal father is not particularly common. One morning a few days after the election, I was sitting at a red light. I mean, here I am, a white guy, with my kid in his car seat, on the way to kindergarten drop off with an HRC and Obama sticker on my bumper. I just don’t see that too often around here. All of the sudden, a guy in the car next to me (with his own collection of Obama stickers) started waving and honking at me, giving me the thumbs up. I saw that he too had kids in car seats in his backseat. I think it was a unique moment to see another guy like me so fired about this election. It was an interesting moment for me.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Boys, Equal Rights, Fathers, Florida, Marriage, parental fear, Parenting, Politics, Presidency, Racism, Raising Awareness, sons, Teaching kids

Everyone Poops: A Father’s Example

If you have small children and you are potty training, perhaps even trying to explain the normalcy of bowel movements, it’s likely then that you have the book “Everyone Poops”. While it guarantees gales of giggles with every read, it also teaches children that everyone and every living thing, well, poops.

It’s really no big deal, right?

Of course with two boys it is no surprise that “Everyone Poops” is a bedtime favorite around here. However. My husband has brought this book to life a bit, and I am sure he is not the only husband who has. My husband likes to add certain sound effects while reading “Everyone Poops”. I have never made said sound effects while reading it myself (yeah, I’m such a lady) but thats ok. My boys will make the sounds for me. With sprays of spit and rattling raspberries, all three of them have become very talented at poop sounds while hopefully learning that yes, in fact, everyone poops. Maybe the youngest will finally be inspired enough to someday put his poop in the potty. Maybe.

In the meantime, here is a quick video I made of my husband and the example he has set for our children with the book “Everyone Poops”. Never underestimate what complexities a father can pass on to his children.

Enjoy. 

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Filed under Boys, Children, Fathers, Growing up, Parenting, Potty Training, Silliness, Teaching kids

Be a Better Parent without Forgeting about Yourself

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This is a post for parents. For mothers and fathers whose lives have done an entire 180 and have landed *splat* face down on the sidewalk since they have had children. After five years of parenting, I consider myself entirely too enlightened about one key factor: the you, the “you” you knew before your kids were left in a bundle on your doorstep, will become a scarce, mythical beast, read only about in fairy tales, lest you corner that old “you”, wrastle it to the ground and trap it in a place you can access on a daily basis.

What am I on about? Parents know. Its the days of wearing old t-shirts because your breasts are leaking constantly. Its cutting your hair because you are tired of having it yanked out a strand at a time. Its crushed crackers in a diaper bag, while all the cute bags slowly fade out of style in your closet. Its Friday nights asleep on the couch while a well intentioned DVD plays in the background. Its the groundhog days filled with time outs, thrown applesauce, nails down the chalk board screams, flushed toys and poopy diaper wrestling. It’s considering your annual trip to your OBGYN “a day out”. It’s never having a private moment in the bathroom. Ever.

Please. To all my brothers and sisters in the trenches of parenthood. Take a look around. When was the last time you went on a date with your partner? When was the last time you wore something “dry clean only”? When was the last time you left the house without diapers, snacks, sippy cups, and an outift change? When was the last time you slept somewhere away from your children and then – gasp – allowed yourself to sleep in past 7am?

It is so very important to remember what makes you happy. Yes, yes. Your happy child makes you happy. So does 8pm when they are (God willing) in bed finally. But what makes YOU tick? Before kids. Did you like to read? (And I don’t mean board books.) Did you have a hobby? Did you see friends often? Did you exercise? Did you have actual leisure time?

Did you?

Do you have any of that stuff now? No??? Go find it. Quick. Hire a sitter, even if it costs money. Figure out a girls night out. Have a friend take the kids for an afternoon. Check the guilt at the door and do something for YOURSELF.

Because if you don’t, you will truly lose yourself and your mind. You will forget who you are. You will actually forget what you truly LIKE to do. All of the sudden, ALL that you know about yourself is being… well… a parent. Take away the kids, and suddenly there is nothing left. Your identity is simply… a mom. Or a dad.

And it can happen so quickly. You’re there and then *POOF*, suddenly, you’re gone.

No disrespect of course. Being a parent is an incredible and, yes, noble job. It is an honorable identity to assume, and every parent should claim that title with pride. As my aunt always reminds me, parenting it the hardest job there is. Yeah, you bet your animal crackers it is. And THAT’S exactly why its so easy to loose yourself. There is so much to do while parenting that when you forget about the “you” stuff, the “kid” stuff seeps in and fills in all the cracks. There is always a sippy cup to fill, a puzzle to make, and a nose – or bum – to wipe. Just let someone else do it once in awhile, that’s all. It will still be there when you get back. No one will take the title of “mom” or “dad” away from you. Just be your first name, the name you had before “mom” or “dad”, once and awhile.

Have you still not shaken your parental guilt to consider more time for yourself? Don’t forget that when you are happier, you are a happier – and therefore better – parent. And then theres the whole “absence makes the heart grow fonder” thing. When you take some time away, you do miss your kids. And upon your return, you and your partner will actually fight for the chance to change a poopy diaper. Seriously, it happens.

And I know the tough times of parenting are fleeting. I am betting my wiser readers who have been parents longer than I have are pleading to me “Oh but enjoy these tough days. Enjoy your child before he grows up. They will be gone in an instant!”

Sadly, I know that. And I fear that. Everyday I bring my 5 year old home from school and I hold him tight tight tight because I can literally feel his mind and body growing in my arms. But that is also my point. They DO grow up so damn fast. And then in an instant, they are off to college. Where does that leave you? If your child went to college today (forget that he or she is a 2 year old toddler) – who would you be right now? How would you identify yourself? What kind of fun would you have with your spouse? Do you know? You need to know. Think about it.

Now please do not assume I actually have this figured out. (Snort.) Honestly? I am writing this post while deeply in the trenches of an extraordinarily all consuming phase of parenting. My husband is just about to begin his season and that will require him to work six days a week, working as late as 10pm. But in the midst of this time, while I raise these wonderful but tough kids of mine and my husband works so that I can take care of these wonderful but tough kids of ours, I am trying to keep track of myself. For instance, I write when I have any time, from my home, with the kids here next to me. While multi-tasking this mommy stuff, I am hoping to piece together some clue so I can be a better (potentially paid) writer “when I grow up”. And I have started running. Insane, right? But I’m into it (I’ll even go before my husband leaves for work) and now dream of finding some way to have my kids watched so I can run a 5K.

Granted, I keep reminding myself to keep my expectations reasonable. Diaper changing, referreeing the rules of sharing and helping with homework is just what I do for now. But dreaming, and clinging stubbornly onto what truly makes me tick, does allow me to be more than just “Mom” – but “Caroline” too.

The picture posted above is of me with my boys. It was taken about a year and a half ago and might be titled “Me as Mommy”. It is one of my favorites as I am caught in a very typical, absolutely wonderful, however all consuming parenting moment.

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Filed under Aging, Boys, Children, Deep thoughts, Family, Fathers, Growing up, Guilt and motherhood, Identity crisis, Marriage, Mothers, Parenting, Reality check

Happy Holidays from the Cutest Two Year Old on Earth

Holiday giggles and yuletide glee have taken over my home. We’re baking sugar cookies, tracking Santa on Norad and wrapping presents madly.

(Sidebar: My dilemma. My 5 year old’s “Santa” presents are being wrapped in same paper as everyone other’s presents. Will he notice? Will he pick out my handwriting, already? The stress of making sure he believes has even surfaced in my dreams: last night I dreamt I forgot to put out all the presents and T. woke up to find that Santa NEVER came…)

But back to the fun. We’ve got cookies and loaves of bread to make for family and Christmas lights to scout tonight and “Twas the Night before Christmas” to recite. It’s really such a wonderful time.

So as my gift to you, I am sharing with you something quite precious: the cutest two year old in the world singing his favorite Christmas carols.

To all of my readers, whatever your holiday, may you have a wonderful celebration filled with family, tradition and joy.

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Filed under Boys, Family, Gifts, Holidays, Parenting, Traditions

Wordless Wednesday: Two Year Old Pathetic-ness

My poor sweet two year old boy. In my far from humble mommy opinion, there is nothing more pathetic in the world than a two year old with a 100.1 fever and a goopy case of pink eye.
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Filed under Boys, Health, Parenting, Photographs

What Do I Get My Kids for Christmas?

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So, I was standing there in the toy section of Target today, with my two year old tantruming at my feet (same ol’, same ol’), and my Christmas budget numbers swimming in my head… when I hit a wall.

Not a real wall, although, that is certainly possible these days. My tantruming child and bad eyes can keep me from walking in a straight line a LOT of the time. However, the wall I hit was a mental one. I had to stop. The colorful boxes and stacks of hasbro toys piled to the ceiling just seemed to blur together…

What am I going to get my kids for Christmas?

I really have NO idea.

Ok, the BIG gift is taken care of. It’s really a huge splurge for us. But we couldn’t help it. My husband calls it the “Red Ryder bb gun of today’s generation”. What is it? Drumroll… a Wii. Yeah, none of you folks are shocked as your own fingers itch to try your own hidden Wii out too… maybe if I just tested it, maybe if I just sliiiid it out of it’s box ever so carefully… Um. I digress.

So we have the “Red Ryder” gift for the big day. And in some ways, that’s pretty good and everything else should be knick knacks off the dollar store shleves, right? Well, yeah, the two $1.00 Snoopy coloring books I wound up buying at Target (after hitting said wall) certainly count for that. But if I *DID* happen to want to pick up a few more things, and make those carefully earned and budgeted dollar bills really count… what should I get? I am really at a loss this year.

And I have been happy to give out advice about what to give other people’s pre-schoolers but that’s stuff I already know about – or have. But standing there in Target, with beautifully, exciting and fun packaged stuff all around me… well, I didn’t know what to do. What should I get?

By the way – YES – I have asked T. what he wants for Christmas. His response? An etch-a-sketch… and a Wii. Ok, so maybe I should just leave it at that. But, c’mon, a couple more things can’t hurt, right?

Now, I know there are plenty of you out there with a wealth of knowledge about cool toys. So I am asking for your help. Here are my parameters, I have the following:

  • One shy five year old boy who loves Star Wars, techie stuff, board games and most sports.
  • One loud, tantrumy out-going two year old who loves Mickey Mouse, pirates, cars and trucks and things that go.
  • One limited budget, but still – there is money to be spent on a few key items.

And not to sound picky, but if I’m gonna spend our money on Christmas presents for my kids, I want them to be really fun, interesting, and even educational. Not just more brightly colored, plasticky STUFF that will break, get piled in a corner and left. (And then finally heaped into boxes for Salvation Army, you should SEE the pile I’ve got going in my garage right now.)

So, yeah, I’m still stuck.

What ARE those one or two brilliant, “must have” gifts? YOU TELL ME. I welcome all suggestions. Even from toy peddlers or PR people or what have you. Bring it on. Come one, come all. I am open to anything. Post links, assuming they are appropriate, I’ll make sure they won’t get spammed out. I value your opinion and will consider each suggestion.

(And posting your ideas here mean other moms will get ideas too. So please share your wealth of knowledge!)

It’s the holidays – help a mother out!

Thanks folks.

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Filed under Boys, Gifts, Holidays, Money, Panicking, Thinking outside the box, Toys, Unnecessary stuff

Shades of Yellow: A Tale of Potty Training.

**This post will contain potty talk. Reader discretion advised.**

I am seeing yellow these days. And sometimes even brown. And why do I see these lovely fall shades so often this time of year? No, I am certainly not staring at any fall foliage (I live in Florida, remember? It only goes from “green” to “a little less green” around here). I am potty training. And its enough to make even the very reasonable germ-o-phobe in me lose my stinking mind. Literally.

It wasn’t even MY idea. Oh no. C.’s only two, and on the young side of two also – so why would I push it? I wasn’t. It was my older 5 yo son T. who gave him the idea. Once again, he had to go and be a “good example” and show off his toilet skills as if it were something he’d been doing all his life (rather than a mere two years). Oh, no doubt about it, as soon as C. saw all the self-made fountain fun, he wanted in on that. “I big boy, I do dat.” And so it began.

Now I should really give C. some props. T. wanted zero to do with a bathroom until he was well into his third year. *Really* well into it (a quick shout out of thanks to his wonderfully patient preschool teacher, Ms. Lori). Why bother putting it somewhere when he had a traveling sani-can attached to his under carraige? How convieeeniant. So the fact that C. is ready this early is something to be proud of.

But this post isn’t about pride for my children. Its about urine. Lots of it. Whether its dried up and crusted to the sides of the potty or in a warm puddle on the floor. And poop. Smeared, stuck, smooshed, and skidded. And yes, are you ready for it? Even under the finger nails – his AND mine. (Shudder.)

To be ready for potty training, you really must be prepared for the fallout of human waste. Pee and poop could be around any corner, at any time. And while your instinct is to rear back in horror, you should be ready with the canned response: “Oops! No big deal, accidents happen!” – paired with an encouraging smile – if and when you find misplaced bodily functions in your household. When they miss the potty. Or leave a puddle on the floor. Or if (of all that’s good in this world, why this) they decide to “finger-paint”, you must always KEEP YOUR COOL.

When a good friend and mother of 3 heard C. had done some poop playing, she said “Oh! That’s wonderful news! That means he’s ready to potty train!” Blink. “Wonderful” wouldn’t the term I would exactly use. Because here’s the bottom line. That poop? When you potty train, it is impossible to truly contain any of it. Impossible, I tell you. He has come to me on many occasions “Hands messy mommy. Poop dirty.” Yes, indeed. Oh my. Where have you been? Since you found your way into your own diaper, which buttons, handles, couch pillows, refrig doors, sippy cups, crackers… ahhhh… have you touched since, child??!!!!!

(Shudder, sob, I am just not strong enough for this dammit…)

But lets get back to the bathroom, because – while on hands and knees with my trusty cleaners, mumbling the usual explatives – that is where the idea for this post was truly inspired. 

My boys’ bathroom is an atrocity. Luckily, the accidents outside the bathroom – even the poop playing – have been to a minimum. But the human waste “free for alls” within the confines of the boys bathroom have not. Like some re-enactment of the famous fountain show in front of the Bellagio in Vegas, that bathroom stages a jaw dropping circus of bodily functions. The greatest show on earth: come one, come all. I know you are all on edge of your seats now…

If both of my boys are sitting on their respective toilets (adult sized for T., small plastic potty for C.) at the same time, all bets are off. While T. goes, C. is either watching all the action with his nose about an inch from T.’s business – or C. is his mirror image, grunting and pushing with pride and anticipation on his own little plastic pot.

And where is my concern? C. does not aim well. Things don’t get tucked below. I tryto help but am verbally beaten back with an “I DO IT!! I DO IT!!!!” Naturally, 9 times out of 10, the fountain show begins. It is then, of course, when I muster up the stock: “Oops! No big deal, accidents happen!” response. With a nekked C. at my side “helping out”, wads of TP bunched in his sticky fists, we both try and wipe up his mess.

Finally, once tucked correctly, we usually have some sort of accurately aimed, potty success. Thrilled with himself, C. will jump off and present his few drops to me. Then, no matter where poor T. is in his bathroom process, C. shoves T. off the can to pour said drops into the big toilet. However, luck is only with me *IF* those few drops even *MAKE IT* into the toilet…. CAREFUL! Watch out! (Insert sing songy voice.) “Oops! No big deal, accidents happen!”

That bathroom. Really. If I am not in there hosing the place down with hazmat cleaners on an hourly basis, that bathroom smells like a truck stop stall on a hot summer’s day. And the poor little bathmats are sadly faded – deteriorating after so many washes. The shower curtain happens to be a convenient shade of yellow – but I always wonder if it is the “clean” kind of yellow. You’ll find kandoo wipes open, rolled and unrolled bits of toilet paper, various books for reading thrown about haphazardly, or possibly a discarded pair of underpants or pull ups. Cleaners are lined up behind the toilet like tired soldiers – with the clorox wipes leading the pack. Nothing looks nice. Nothing looks presentable. Everything just seems a bit too dribbled on to me.

And …(sob)… I just smell pee, now matter how much I scrub.

So will it ever change? Maybe they will grow up and aim better. Maybe they will actually get the toilet paper into the toilet. Maybe they will wipe their own toilet seats someday. But I remain skeptical. I need to prepare myself. For crying out loud, I have two boys. I have to face the reality: I don’t think the novelty of self-made, Bellagio style, fountain fun ever really wears off. I’ll bet my clorox wipes on it.

(Does anyone have directions for a DIY outhouse? Don’t think I haven’t thought about it.)

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Filed under Boys, Parenting, Potty Training, Teaching kids