Thursday, July 24, 2014

Another One

We had trouble conceiving so we were late to game of having children.  While everyone around us was getting pregnant and rearranging their lives for kids, we trudged the miserable course of trying and failing, testing and failing, anticipation and disappointment.

Luckily, we succeeded, in a big way, in time for this period in our lives not to pass us by.

And we did it early enough that lots of our friends are having a second go around of it.  In fact, one of our triplet friends is due in December.  A friend of mine from a long-ago job is also pregnant and due soon.

I can only think one thing: What are those people thinking?

Sure, we had difficulties conceiving that probably colored the whole process for us.  And sure, having triplets probably gives us a different spin on what babies are like than most.

To wit: When we are out, people ask me how we do it all the time. How do we do it; how do we handle it; can we handle it; it sure must be hard.  Sure, we can handle it.  I can't imagine anything else.  But what I really can't imagine is having another.

One time around was hard enough.  Having three at the same age presents certain, um, difficulties, but it also provides for certain economies of scale.  We were exhausted, really, truly exhausted all at once.  But it was such an exhaustion and such a busy time that, looking back, we hardly noticed.

That wouldn't be true if we chose to have another.  You want to know what scares this triplet Dad?  The idea of "another."   Because, its one thing to be that tired when all you have are infants.  It has to be a whole different ballgame when you are that tired AND have a two year old running around.  When I did it, they were all immobile.  By the time mobility comes to children you aren't nearly tired or sleepless, thank you very much nature.  But if you choose to have a second, well, then you have exhaustion of an infant AND mobility.  That is just your own damn fault.

Come to think of it, triplets are just about the perfect way to go.  I truly believe this.  Except for those times when I see my little ones' getting so big and I realize that those cute little phrases and word mixups aren't going to be around forever.

Then I think, well, maybe it would be nice to have "another one."  And then I get to think about it.

Nah.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Conspiracy of Three

Help me; I think my kids may be conspiring against me.

Some nemesis gaining the ability to think is a facet of lots of recent movies of course.  I’m thinking of The Planet of the Apes series for one.  The Will Smith led I Am Legend is another.  And of course I’ve already compared my brood to zombies.

So maybe its just recent media that has me up at night worrying.  Then again…

You see, it seems to me that when urgency is most valuable, they are at their slowest.  When time is of the essence, they are black holes, sucking all the time away.

One day they will show me how they can put their shoes on – all by themselves.  Two days later when I have to have them out of the house – like that minute – they suddenly revert back to one year olds.  Shoes are roughly banged onto feet at angles that leave no hope of success; shoes that do make it onto feet are on the wrong foot, or worse, backwards.  How can someone who can barely manage to put on shoes manage to one on backwards?

But that is nothing compared to the planning, collaboration and coordinated attacks that occur when I’m at my most vulnerable.

I’ll tell you: My kids are awesome.  They are more awesome than yours, by a long shot.  They are awesome at speaking.  They are awesome at behaving.  They are awesome at listening.

Except that once I’m tired, they go into a three-pronged flanking attack.  Suddenly, they are rendered caveman like: unable to speak and left to communicate only through whines and grunts.  A kid who can, on a good day, choose from a menu of words to express themselves can suddenly solve the problem only with a full throated shout followed by a complete meltdown.  Accompanied with a side of biting or some hitting, perhaps.

Now, that might seem reasonable if they had their favorite toy take away or had been bitten.  I’m not a troll, I understand they are 3.  But when it arises in all three of them, and simply because one has more Gold Fish than the other, well, its hard to believe it’s a coincidence.  And not just "more" Gold Fish.  One.  More.  Gold Fish.  A kid that repetitively skips 5 when counting will suddenly know exactly what five Gold Fish looks like.  At a distance of 100 yards.  Through a bowl.

Kids that can open doors and take incredible tumbles with the ease of acrobats are suddenly flailing their heads about, nearly blinding me.

They've gotten so good at pulling their pants up and down that we stopped giving them rewards for doing it before going potty.  Like I said, my kids are awesome.  But then, suddenly, in a fit of disability, one will become incapable of using thumbs and instead uselessly slap at his pants with nub-hands.  I can only assume is some scientific process through which he hopes to discover some new Zen way of removing pants. 

There was movie recently about a sisterhood of traveling pants.  I don't think it involved new, Zen ways of nub-handing pants.  I didn't watch it.  But maybe all my concerns of a little zombie takeover is all a media creation.  Or maybe, just maybe, I’m in some weird game of three-year-old Catfish.  

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Loving Your Kids: At A Distance

I wish I could blame my month-long posting hiatus on my recent vacation, but alas, I can’t. 

I can, however, tell you that I learned some lesson while visiting Virginia for a cousins wedding.  When you go on vacation without your kids, you do a couple things differently.

1)      You begin using your spouse’s name again, and what a nice feeling that is.  Instead of “Mom” she becomes a wife again.  The shift was almost immediate for me, and I don’t even thing I recognized it until about the third time I called her by her name.  It was both awesome and freeing, as if I had been transported back to a time before kids.
2)      You don’t realize how stressed you are until you leave it behind.  I’m such a better Dad the last two or three days and I credit the vacation.  I feel less stressed.  And yeah, I realize that is the reason for vacations, but still, worth noting.
3)      As much as I missed the hell out of my kids, I also missed them like  you miss scratching poison ivy.  Its such a visceral and fulfilling thing, scratching poison ivy, that you love it no matter how much the underlying issue bothers you.
4)      As much as you might dread returning to the structure and the crying and the diapers and the kid talk and the lack of personal time, the minute you walk in the door, you’ll realize how much you missed being Dad.

I want to return to #2 for a moment and its interplay with #3 and #4, because I think its something that is easy to miss.  It was hard leaving our kids behind.  It was the first time when we did it last year, it was this time, it probably will be next time, I imagine.  It was made more difficult by the fact that these are cousins I haven’t seen in 10 years or so, and who really wanted to see the kids.

Make no mistake - taking the triplets on trips is fun.  But taking the kids to Virginia is no kind of vacation.  It requires extra planning, extra packing and extra managing, to say nothing of the extra room we would need to book.  Between the extra planning, packing, and managing, it is more a chore than anything. 

And that is where point number 2 comes in.  Some stresses are immediate, like deadlines.  The Supreme Court is going to issue an opinion on the contraceptive mandate on Monday, so Monday is going to be one of those immediate stresses type of days for those of us who write about the litigation.

But other stresses are slow burners.  The petty kid fights, the strain of constantly being “on,” the need to always plan your next move so that one of the kids don’t explode – it all adds up.  The stress sneaks up on you.  Your shoulders tighten over the days; your outlook darkens over the weeks; your mood crashes over the months.  And pretty soon you aren’t the Dad you want to be anymore. 

Being away for four days – glorious days of mornings with no plans and days with nothing booked - washed the stress away. 

I’m more calm now, more in control now, more able to see my “happy place” when I need it now.  So while my kids may have missed me during those four days, they get a better Dad for the next month or two as a result.

And for the record, they hardly seemed to miss us at all. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

World War T: The Prequel

We aren’t getting any sleep, here, and before you say “welcome to the club,” know that our triplets have always been pretty good sleepers.  Anyway, we aren’t getting any sleep, and you can probably relate.  We are now part of the Slow Zombie Parents. 

A little introduction:  When I say slow, I don’t mean it derogatorily.  Instead, “slow zombies” refers to the types of zombies typically featured in older movies.  Those are the zombies we in the parenting set are most familiar with, I’d imagine - Zombies slowed by the fact that they are held together by rotting flesh and essentially brainless.  Not the newer, “fast zombies” that move at Usain Bolt speeds and cut on a dime like Adrian Peterson.  Those zombies move spectacularly for even a healthy human construction, let alone one made of only the flimsiest of remaining connective tissue.

You know what can make you a zombie (in real, real life)? The poison from a fugu fish - i.e. Japanese Blowfish.  Really.

You know what else?  Having 2.5 year-old triplets who aren't sleeping.  Think about it.  We groan as we roll out of bed, our eyes swollen with the 4 hours of sleep they still need.  Becaues our eyes are blurred by that lack of sleep, we stumble and slide-step our way to the nursery.

We reach mindlessly into cribs to pull out our victims, er, children.  After putting them we immediately realize what we have done and begin to chase after them.  However, children are the one age at which humans can actually move like fast zombies, regardless of little sleep they have had.  In fact, sleep appears to be inversely related to how fast they can move.  So now they are zooming around getting into,

hey, get out of that, get away from there, no, don’t do that


and we are right behind them, hands outstretched.  Know what we look like in this pre-caffeine, no-sleep state?  We look like the picture at right?  What I have just described looks exactly like the dance from Michael Jackson's Thriller.

That example doesn't require anything like toxoplasmosa gondii to turn an average parent into a zombie.

Have you heard of mad-cow disease?  When a human eats infected cow and contracts the disease they call it Creutzfeldt-Jakob.  Anyway, what are the symptoms?  Glad you asked:

1 - Changes in gait (walking)
2 - Hallucinations
3 - Lack of coordination (for example, stumbling and falling)
4 - Muscle twitching
5 - Myoclonic jerks or seizures
6- Rapidly developing delirium or dementia

Um, OK.  If that defines zombie, well, good luck.  A tired parent is, um, well, lets go down that list, shall we?  Number 1: Changes in gait? Check, as I noted above.  Number 2: hallucinations?  Completely reasonable in someone missing sleep.  Number 3: lack of coordination?  Lack of coordination?  As I noted in a recent post, I lack coordination on good days. 

Well, we are already 3 for 3, so, lets quit before we come to any existential crisis, OK?

Worried a zombie apocalypse could actually occur?  Don't read this.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Nature v. Nurture?

Three things I don’t know how my kids learned:

-          All three sleep on their bellies.  We were big “back-to-sleep” parents, so its not like we were putting them down that way.  I am, and always have been a belly sleeper, but they have been in their own room since they were just months old - there is no way this is a learned behavior.  I guess two of them could have learned it from the other, but its odd that they all ended up that way.
-          What is it, from a genetic standpoint, that makes kids not eat crust?  I eat my crusts; my wife eats her crusts.  At 2.5 years old our kids haven’t been around any other children who refuse their crusts.  And yet…no crusts
-          They all like to have their ears covered when they sleep.  This is something my wife does.  I wasn't really totally aware of that fact until she mentioned it in reference to the kids.  Its not like we talk about it – or again – is something they would see.

  Nature?  Nurture?  What do you say?

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Cellphones, Oh The Horrors, The Horrors!

It's Spring time, so of course parents are going to be outside with their kids at the playground.  And if adults are outside, of course they have their cell phones on them.  And it someone has some piece of relatively new tech with them, of course some Luddite is going to complain.

It happened this week when my Facebook feed lit up with a post chastising a Mom at a playground for being on her phone.  Being on her phone while... what exactly was happening?

What exactly was she missing?  The story chastises her for missing, well, I guess its point is that she is missing her child's childhood.  In reality, as I mentioned in a previous post, she is missing no such thing.  If she is any kind of parent, she has seen her kid climb steps and go down a slide.

What the post ignores is that we outsiders have no idea what she is doing on that phone.  Sure, it fits into our nice preconceived notion if she is texting a friend (oooooh, please let be a drug dealer!) or playing Flappy Bird, but what if her sister is in the hospital and she is getting updates?  What if her husband is texting to say he'll be late?  We just don't know.

We also don't know what the rest of her day has been like.  Maybe she has spent all day doing art projects and playing Legos with her kids and took them here both as a  treat for them and herself.  Why do we ignore this possibility?  In my experience its at least as likely as the idea that she has been on her phone ignoring her kids all day long.

I mean, sure, we can assume the worst.  But in that case, why not just assume the Mom brought her kids to the playground as part of a devious plan between her and her husband to leave the kids there?  Perhaps she is texting her husband at that moment about how, ahahaha, the plan is working perfectly and she will be home shortly?

In short, you can be a perfectly good parent and text while your kids are at the playground.  And because you are giving them space and letting them play and learn for themselves and giving yourself some time to unwind, you might just be a better parent for it.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

Please kids, don't grow up to be like Daddy.

I haven't been posting regularly because I’ve been stuck trying to come up with a way to post about how I hope my kids won't grow up to be like me - without it sounding like I hate myself or making people worry that I’m depressed.  Essentially, a way to say what I’m about to say without sounding like I’m fishing for a “its all going to be OK.”

I've written before about Live Like Daddy Syndrome, the idea some Dads have that their kid must grow up liking the same things they do/did.  But this was a little different.  

As if in answer to my conundrum, I poked myself in the eye while getting my daughter out of her car seat hard enough I worried I dislodged it.  As if that wasn’t enough, I then spilled a three-gallon can of paint all over the bedroom floor.  As my wife says, these things just seem to happen around me.  Like the time I spilled a large Dunkin Donuts iced coffee in the exam room of the fertility clinic. 

So, yeah, I don’t want my kids to grow up having those things happen to them.

But I see it, and I worry.  I see my fear of heights – and moreso my fear that I’ll fall for some unforeseeable reason - each and every time my son shows fear of going down the steps.  I see my own social anxiety in them every time they freeze up in front of others.

So, no, I don’t want my kids to grow up like me.   Which one of us do the kids resemble?  Man in the sky I hope it is my wife.  Intellectually, she’s broad like me.  She can dress herself up in a way that will completely confound you, yet she is fully capable of applying joint compound on a Saturday.  She’s socially cool and nimble and makes it all look so easy.

Again, this isn’t meant as a pity party.  Despite the fact that I regularly knock over anything within arm’s reach, get weary in groups of 3 or more, and nearly take out my eye every 6 months or so, I have all my body parts, a good job and a very good support structure.  My life is pretty damn good.  I hope my kids all manage the life I’ve achieved and so much more.  So, so much more.

But do I want them to grow up like me?  No. 

Because I’m the type of person who, while taking my daughter’s car seat strap off, has their fingers slip and ram directly into their eye.

At least this time it was only my wife who knew.