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Just Call Me Dad

Fatherhood in the 21st Century

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Archive for March, 2009

I have heard many times in the past few years that our society is in the middle of a baby boom, and my excursions outside the house certainly seem to reflect that. No matter where I go I see small children and babies in strollers, and I don’t ever remember there being as many as there are now.

Of course, this could simply be because I am more ‘tuned in’ to other parents and their kids now that Nick is such a big part of my life; I don’t think so though. One major piece of evidence is the number of songs being released from major artists about parenting and their kids.

My absolute favorite song right now is from a Canadian country music star by the name of George Canyon. His song, called “Just Like You”, already tugs at my heartstrings, and Nick isn’t even old enough to do most of the things mentioned in the song. The basic idea is that, while his son is saying he can’t wait to be a grown up, George wishes he could be his son’s age again, making a morning last all afternoon.

The video is on YouTube – check it out below:

Another song that still really speaks to me is Rodney Atkins “Watching You.” This song has been out for a while now, but it really makes me think about the responsibility of being a parent and how all of my actions really are under a microscope. It’s our responsibility as parents to provide a good example.

The video for this song is also on YouTube:

As mentioned, there are a lot of songs about kids now. If you’re interested, take a look through the DRM-free songs listed at Amazon.com and see if any strike your fancy.

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One of the parenting challenges that is not often talked about is simply staying engaged as a parent. No Mom or Dad wants to admit that, sometimes, they just aren’t paying attention to their kids. You see it all the time in public places. Moms and Dads at the mall are often more interested in shopping than they are in paying attention to their kids.

I’m guilty of this from time to time, as we all are, but the rewards of staying engaged, and engaging our kids, are large.

Saturday night Nick and I were playing with a wooden cut-out puzzle; you know the type, a plywood board with animal shapes cut out of it, with little handles to manipulate the pieces. Nick was concentrating hard to get the frog back into its proper place when it suddenly popped back in. His look of earnest concentration changed into a smile instantly. BUT, when I took in a deep breath, opened up a huge smile and boomed out “Yeah Nicky! Good job! You are such a smart boy!!!” while clapping, his face changed again.

His smile grew exponentially, and his face took on an expression of absolute joy. You could tell that he was experiencing the warm feeling of pride glowing in his chest; it was written all over his face.

As parents, you know that there is nothing in the world that compares to the feeling I had seeing this. Of course, this feeling is not something you can plan, it is a reward for staying engaged; it is a reward for paying attention to your kid’s life.

That’s something for me to keep in mind the next time I notice I’m watching the Backyardigans a little more closely than he is.

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“Spring has sprung, the grass is riz…I wonder where the flowers is?”

Well, spring might be a bit of an overstatement. We’ve only had three days of above freezing temperatures, but it’s been enough to melt piles of snow from our yard. I’ve been thinking about the summer with Nick, and what we’re going to do to keep him entertained at home.

We have a rather large garden in our backyard, off to the side and through an arbor. The whole idea of keeping a garden has worn off in the last few years – there is just so much else that commands our time. My plan is to convert it into a little playground.

The list of equipment that one can fit into a playground is long, and I’m not sure what to add. A swing set is always nice, as is a slide, a sandbox, and some sort of climbing wall.

What I’m thinking of doing is planting grass in half the garden, and then filling the rest with some sort of child friendly cover; perhaps recycled rubber chunks or something like that. Sand would be easiest, but I’ve heard that roaming cats like to use big areas of sand as litter boxes. This is something I’d like to avoid.

Next, I’d like to build a tower with two platforms. One low platform, about two feet up, to use to mount a slide on right now when Nick is small. Another platform, five or six feet up, that he could climb to when he gets bigger, perhaps with another slide. The top platform would be fully enclosed, and maybe even covered. If I were to make it big enough, we could camp outside in it on hot summer nights. I’m sure I could even cantilever an arm off the side to stick a swing on.

I’m not against the plastic playhouses that you see in the stores, but they do seem awfully expensive for what you get, and I’m not sure how long they would last in the hot summers and cold winters that we experience.

What have you done in your yards for your kids to play in? Do you have any pictures of play structures that you bought or built? I’d love to see them. Leave a comment below.

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Nick has had several ear infections in the past few months; we finally ended up with a referral to an ENT (Ear, Nose, and Throat specialist) to have him evaluated.

In a way, it was good timing – he was fighting a cold at the time of the appointment, so the Doctor got to see him in a situation ripe for an ear infection.

The Doctor was able to do some really interesting tests. He had a machine that applied pressure to the eardrum and then measured the response; it was also able to tell a little bit about the shape of the eardrum.

The results – Nick’s eardrums were slightly concave, which is normal for a child recovering from an ear infection. Also, his eardrums moved freely and responded to the changing air pressure. What this meant was that: 1) he was getting better, 2) he didn’t have any hearing problems, and 3) there was no need for tubes to be installed in his ears. All great things.

The final advice of the Doctor was not to take Nick to the Doctor every time he has a cold or seems to be tugging at his ears. What he asked us to do was monitor Nick’s temperature; anything over 39C and we should take him to the Doctor, anything less and he should be treated with baby Tylenol.

I don’t think this advice applies to every baby in every situation, and my intention isn’t to advise you NOT to take your baby to the doctor. However, I thought I would share the information in case you were hearing something similar from your doctor, and wanted to know if other parents were being told the same thing.

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