Mommy Doin’ Work spent this past Saturday at all an all-day conference, and I was left to
babysit (KIDDING!!) watch my daughter alone for the day. It’s amazing how much a dude can learn in the span of eight hours, and I’ll lay it all out for you right now.
1) Expecting the worst is something punks do: To give you some background, the day started with Little DDW going to her very first dentist appointment at 8:00 AM. The night before, I lost sleep due to the negative thoughts creeping in.
- Man, this is going to be horrible!
- She’s going to lose her mind in that office, I know it!
- I just hope she doesn’t bite the dentist.
When it was our turn to be seen, the dentist made my daughter smile and giggle, he cleaned her teeth (no cavities), and it was all completed in less than 15 minutes. At the end, he gave my daughter a cool pair of shades and it was a wrap.
As I was driving home, I was pissed at myself. Why would I expect the worst in that situation? You would think that the guy who preaches Don’t Be a Punk would know better than that, but I’m man enough to admit that I slipped up. We all have the choice to be positive or negative in life, so why not choose to be positive?
Editor’s Note: By the way, take note of Little DDW’s hairdo above. That will play a role for point #2.
2) It’s time for me to step my “hair game” up: I think I’m a pretty good dad, but I have a lot of room for improvement. On the positive side, I can change a steaming poopy diaper with one wipe, I can read Green Eggs & Ham until my eyes and ears about to bleed, and I give the best baths ever.
But do you know what I absolutely SUCK at? Doing hair. Luckily, my wife styled our daughter’s hair prior to leaving for her conference.
In my defense, I’ve shaved my head for the past 20 years and I never combed anyone’s hair (including my own) in that timespan. That said, it’s just a lame excuse and I needed to learn someday.
Well, that day was Saturday.
On the drive home from the dentist, Little DDW thought it would be a good idea to mess up the beautiful ‘do MDW created and she ended up looking like this when we got home.
At that point, I was left with a dilemma:
Do I take my kid out in public looking like a miniature clown? Or do I “dad the hell up” and figure out how to do her hair? The answer was obvious, I had to channel my inner stylist and make it happen. After some combing, brushing, and whining on my daughter’s part – I was able to put her hair into a simple bun. Will this win any awards for being the best hairstyle in the world? Probably not. Was I damn proud of myself for doing it? Hell yes, I was.
After giving it some thought, I realize that fear is what held me back. Like I said, I haven’t combed/brushed ANYONE’S hair for the past 20 years, so thought of it freaked me out a bit. Once I actually stepped to the plate and did it, I realized that it wasn’t really that hard. Yes, I know that’s a big “DUH” for most of you, but it’s a big deal for me. Check back with me in a few weeks and I’ll be a pro at this, trust me.
3) There are a lot of DDWs out there: It was a beautiful day in SoCal on Saturday, so we decided to go to the park and have some fun. To my pleasant surprise, there were a lot of dads there with their kids. Inside I smiled and thought, “Wow, I’m shocked that there are so many dads here.”
Then it hit me.
Didn’t I just say on this here blog two weeks ago that going to the park is something that dads are supposed to do? Why was I pleasantly surprised? Even though I said we must raise the bar for fathers everywhere, I sometimes get caught up in society’s negative stereotypes about dads. I should’ve known better – but luckily I snapped out of it and transitioned my feelings to a sense of pride knowing that we (dads) are heading in the right direction.
4) The kid will be fine: As parents, we all remember that “Oh Shit” moment at the park with our kids, right? When Little Johnny climbs up the playground stairs by himself or Little Suzy goes down the slide by herself, we all had that feeling of “Oh shit, I hope he/she doesn’t get hurt.” Sometimes the feeling is so overwhelming that you’ll rush over to hold his/her hand during the process, but eventually there will be that day when you finally let go.
Again, that day was Saturday.
She climbed up a tall flight of playground stairs by herself, walked across the wobbly bridge by herself (which is very high up off of the ground) and went down the slide by herself. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking, “Uh…so what?” Just know that it’s a milestone for me because normally I’d be scared to death over things like that. However, something hit me and I realized that she’ll be fine. Our children will lose teeth and break bones regardless of how protective we are of them, and there just has to a point where we let go and let them figure life out. I should’ve known that she was going to be just fine – and that’s exactly what happened.
It was all clear sailing, until…
5) Kids love the park, but they don’t love to leave: If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result, then I should stop taking Little DDW to the park. We were there for three hours and I figured that she would be ready to leave after literally running through every square foot of that place.
I was wrong. I’m always wrong when it comes to this.
When I attempted to put her in the stroller, girlfriend just was having none of that. She used every trick in the book to stay out of it: Noodle Body (going limp and making it impossible to pick her up), Spider-Woman (using her legs to prop herself up on the edges of the stroller making it impossible to put her in), Twirl-Girl (twisting and turning upside-down and backwards making it impossible to strap her into the stroller).
This “game” went on for about 20 minutes and my sanity was slowly leaving my body with every second that passed.
Oh, by the way – did I mention that she was having the meltdown of all meltdowns during all of this? There was a moment when I thought she’d transform into a Tyrannosaurus Rex, eat me, and then transform back into a toddler just so she could poop me out and have me fester in her diaper until someone cleaned her up. The kid lost her damn mind that day.
Another “by the way” – did I mention that there was a HUGE youth festival at this park and I had what seemed like 50,000 parents watching me during this whole meltdown? OK, maybe it wasn’t exactly 50,000 parents – but it sure seemed like it. In retrospect, it was probably closer to 47,000.
After giving it some thought, I learned something: EVERY parent endures a public meltdown with his/her children, but the reaction of other parents is very interesting. While I was completely flustered and frustrated, three separate ladies approached me to ask if I was OK or to offer some unsolicited advice on how to calm her down.
When my wife finally got home, I asked her why moms feel the need to do that and she made the following point.
“Sometimes you have to think from a mom’s mindset. When a mom sees a dad struggling with his kid, sometimes she’ll think, ‘Aww, look at the cute, clueless dad trying to calm his child. He obviously needs my help because I know SO much about parenting.’ It’s nothing personal.”
So, I guess what I should’ve known is that parents can be really judgmental of other parents.
Actually, I’m pretty sure I already knew that.
I guess what I should’ve known is that some parents expect moms to be perfect while they expect dads to be morons.
I also should’ve known that I need to bring tranquilizer darts with me to the playground in case this happens again, but that’s another story.
6) Props to single parents and stay-at-home parents: Please know that I’m not trying to insult single parents or stay-at-home parents by pretending that I know everything about what they deal with just because I spent eight hours alone with my kid. However, I was given a lot of reminders about things I sometimes take for granted.
If I need a break, my wife is always there to pick up the slack (and vice versa). If I want to go to the gym, my wife is there to watch our daughter. If my wife is feeling crappy due to pregnancy symptoms, I can fill in and give her a much needed rest.
I’m not saying that single parents and stay-at-home parents can’t do the same things – I’m just saying that it’s a hell of a lot harder for them to do those same things. Being the only adult around children is really difficult at times, and the fact that these parents endure it everyday (and many times with multiple children) is damn impressive. At least it’s impressive to me. Big, BIG kudos to all of you.
In closing, there are a lot of basic things about parenting that I should’ve known by now – but I learned that the beauty of this journey is that I’m constantly evolving, constantly making mistakes, and constantly having fun. There’s no such thing as a perfect parent, and I wouldn’t want to be perfect because some of our greatest mistakes make the best learning opportunities.
I guess I should’ve known that too.
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