Being Dad

Being a father is fraught with danger…

Food Wars (Part II) October 22, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 10:50 am
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You may remember a couple of weeks ago I spoke of Missy’s dislike, nay rejection, of fruit that is not in a tube. Well, Mum had an ingenious idea about that.

In the weeks before Missy’s third birthday, Mum started introducing the concept, that maybe, our fruitless fun-size female might like to ‘give it a go’ when she turned three.

This proved to be a genius idea. We still offered her the chance to eat fruity delights before the ‘event’, and she would politely decline with a smile and a “when I’m three, I’ll eat fruit”. True, as that date approached, her will did start to waver. Sometimes at night she would wake up, and when I went to pat her back to sleep, Missy would sleepily pronounce she didn’t want to eat fruit when she was three.

Then, like death and taxes, the inevitable arrived. Her birthday. The day was a whirlwind of presents and fun, and any thought of the fruity consequences was forgotten in a blur of leggo, princess dolls and ponies (of the plastic miniature kind).

It also pleasingly slipped her mind that I had previously and foolishly said she could drive my car when she was three, and that I would buy her a giraffe. Phew! Dodged a bullet there.

All was going well till dinner. When it must have suddenly hit her. I asked her if she’d had a lovely day and a fun birthday party; Missy looked up at me with doe-eyes and a trembling lip and announced, “Daddy, I don’t want to be three, I want to be two”. And so, with my lip joining her, we had a cuddle and a chat about being ‘a big girl’.

Eventually, she recovered, and the very next day, while out at lunch, and again, via an inspired moment from my wife, a sliver of strawberry magically appeared with a kind motherly word: “You’re a big girl now, you’re three! Will you try this my darling?”

I had dreaded this moment. I knew the eating of fruit was destined to be a battle of wills. It was going to be an apocalyptic struggle between adult and child. There would be screaming, throwing, thrashing and tantrums; and that would just be me. Missy would act much worse.

I held my breath, and slowly reached for the car keys, ready to whisk a raging child away from the café.

Missy looked at it, and cool as you like, popped it into her mouth, followed quickly by a piece of raspberry.  Sure, she was apprehensive. Sure she ate it with a slightly over dramatic scrunching of her face. But eat fruit, she did.

We couldn’t have been any prouder of her.

Since then, admittedly, the floodgates of fruit eating haven’t exactly opened, but she tried it, and is slowly coming around.

My dear sweet little girl is now officially a dear, sweet, big girl.

Cue the trembling lip of admiration from two overjoyed parents.

 

I Have a Dream October 15, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 9:30 am
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I think it was Martin Luther King Jr who famously said:

“Three at last, three at last!”                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              “Thank God Almighty we are three at last”

Well, something like that, anyway.

So Missy turned three.  It was a day full of the agony and the ecstasy. A day of cake fuelled fun, all done at warp speed. Little friends running riot – playing, hitting, laughing and hugging. And it ended in a train smash of over-tired, post sugar-rush meltdown.

Just an average three-year-olds birthday party, really.

“Three”, it seems to me, is the birthday that children, well Missy certainly, are totally aware of. They know what birthdays mean (presents and chocolate cake) and in the weeks leading up to the event, can even be reined in somewhat with idle threats insisting only good girls get birthday treats. Mind you, I am not too sure what would happen if she had called my bluff.

But with Mum leading the charge, the party was spectacular.  Balloons galore and a lovingly crafted home made princess cake set the scene for a fabulous time. The theme was “P”, primarily because Missy desperately wanted to be a princess. So with a dress Cinderella would have been proud to wear to the ball, our little girl entertained her friends.

As the Father of ‘Cinders’, I was in charge of making sure there was beer for the lads, and champagne for the lasses (those over 18, of course). My other role was to entertain a bakers dozen or so group of kids, while my wife engaged in some food preparation. As a writer, it was assumed I could rustle up a one-man-show kids play, Arthur Miller style.

After several attempts at a script, I realized kids plays are not my thing. Still, the crowd of three year-olds was decidedly forgiving as I put on a puppet show; based loosely on Three Billy Goats Gruff; only mine had a lamb, horse, cow, elephant and a pirate. Well, when they’re the puppets you have, you just have to improvise.

The kids actually got quite into it, an as the noise level went up, the inadequacy of my puppetry skills and dialogue deficiency was disguised in a cacophony of shrieking children. Well, I think they were squeals of delight. Maybe they were hoots of derision? Who ever heard of an elephant in Three Billy Goats Gruff? “This bloke’s a joke!”

For me, the highlights of the event were the hand made cake Mum made, cakes made with love just taste better; and my daughter, who when told Mum and Dad were dressing up as Panda’s (well, we do live in China) asked if daddy could come as a prince instead. “Then we can get married”, a little voice announced.

I have been to the mountaintop.

 

Food Wars October 8, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 8:44 am
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Night looms. All is quiet. You know the enemy is out there. You can’t out run him, you can’t out maneuver him.  Eventually, he will come.  Sergeant Strawberry will get onto your plate and cause untold havoc.

For Missy, public Enemy #1 is fruit.  “Eh?? Fruit? Surely not!” you say.

Well, she eats fruit, as long as it doesn’t look like fruit. Mashed in a tube; “let me at it!” Mixed up and frozen on a stick; “gimme more!” Cut into bite size pieces and presented lovingly in the shape of a smiley face – “Aaaaahhhhhggggghhhh! Are you trying to KILL me?”

It’s a problem. For some reason, Missy has developed quite the phobia about fruit. We don’t know when or why it started, but it’s there. She is a bit of a fussy eater, but it’s not like she won’t try things. She likes soy sauce and balsamic vinegar; she has tried Hungarian salami and lived to tell the tale. But fruit? She will not even touch it (unless presented in non-fruit like packaging).

We have tried explaining, cajoling, shouting, pleading and even bribing. Nothing. Missy will give up a bowl of ice cream rather than eat a sliver of strawberry.

For me, it’s kind of weird, as she totally loves strawberry flavour, and will suck down those pureed organic squeezies all day. In any form, other than just as nature intended, she is onboard.

I think in time, this will pass, but the frustration for me, is I know she will like apples, bananas, mangoes and the like. As a baby, she happily smeared them over herself, even occasionally getting them in her mouth.  I know it’s just a stage, but it is a particularly frustrating one, given all her little friends devour fruit with just the occasional poke of the cattle prod.  Missy is more like those Special Forces dudes, who welcome the challenge of holding out, despite the torture. She will never give the fruity enemy any comfort.

But, fussy eating toddlers don’t always turn into fussy eating adults, so I am not too concerned. It is quite a fascinating thing, kids and their eating habits – how some children will eat anything, and some reject almost everything.

But as with all things, it is all part of the journey. We will probably look back and laugh…in about 10 years…

 

Control/alt/delete playtime October 1, 2012

Filed under: Dad Blog,Parenting — Tim @ 9:48 am
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i-pad, i-phone, remote control car/helicopter/boat, electronic toy that goes wirrrr, wirrr, zipity, wiz-bang, a doll that can actually poo…

How do you entertain children? These days, toyshops seem to want you to believe your little one doesn’t just want the latest toy; they NEED it. Without Zorgog, warrior from the planet Yolenta-5, your boy may not develop properly. Deny my daughter little miss princess play set; complete with car, boat, plane and Chad, the personal groomer doll, and she may just end up standing in a soup kitchen line.

Let me say firstly, I want my daughter to be technology aware. She will be living in a world where connection is not only necessary, it’s unavoidable. School age kids can now enter their assignments online. Some schools have i-pads or laptops in classes. Withholding technology from my daughter may, in fact, be detrimental to her development. If every other kid has been able to upload, download, back-up and reboot since they were 2 – and she doesn’t know this stuff, it will come back and ‘byte’ her in a nanosecond.

But – it’s not the only thing I want Missy to be savvy in. Good old-fashioned ‘fun’ also has an important place in her development. Playing with Mum and Dad, with little friends or playing without toys that require batteries or megabytes, surely must help little brains develop.

What’s my expertise for that statement? What degree do I have, or studies have I done, to make such an outrageous statement?

None

The University of common sense.  For me, it’s all about moderation. A bit of everything just stands to reason. Missy LOVES the i-pad, and she gets to play with it. Not all day, but enough to give her a working knowledge of it. But my wife and I also want Missy to have an inquiring mind. We want her to be able to create fun – without needing an App.

So what’s one of her favourite thing to do?  She loves to play in her little cubby house, and serve tea in her cardboard shop. And where did these toys come from? Mum.

Mum made them, out of refrigerator boxes, toilet roll holders, masking tape, paint and love. Not everyone has the talent to make these kinds of things (especially me), but it’s not about that. For us, it’s about getting something in our house where we can interact with Missy; she can play ‘off-line’ and have some fun making pretend pizza for dad, and invisible tea for mum.

Missy had tears the other day. She was in her shop, and I was busy ‘buying’ plastic fruit and veg. I needed a break, so I asked her for a coffee. Missy was quite understanding, and so got out the impossibly small tea set and set about “making” me a cup. She knocked over the pretend milk jug, and the tears flowed. Where was the pretend ‘fridge to get more? “Over there my darling”, I said, pointing to an empty corner.

Happy again, she went over, ‘filled up’ her milk and duly made me my coffee.

The amazing world of a child’s imagination – you can’t download that.

 

 
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