If My Life Depended on How I Wrapped Presents

For all the things I’ve done in my life, and all the things I’m capable, one of the most basic continues to elude me.  I’m talking about wrapping presents.  For me, there are only a few criteria.  The first is that I use Wrapping Paper.  The second, that you can’t see the underlying item or box.  The third, it can be transported from the point of wrapping to the place of choosing for opening.  To that end, I continue to slaughter the beauty of the Christmas scene.  My wife’s family excels at making beautiful gifts.  They’re works of art.  Ribbon, bows, flashy paper.  I’m using the same roll for several years because it was cheap and I don’t want to get out another.  I can get the paper out in sufficient amounts to cover the whole gift, and of the three I wrapped last night, I only had to use a patch piece for one.  I probably need more space, but I don’t think that would solve the issue.  My lines look like something that you could cut a tree down with.  Tape is the saving item.  I never understood the use of ribbon.  I should do like my wife for birthday’s, and just shift to re -gifting the bags with a bit of fancy paper.  They say it’s the thought that counts, and I’m probably over thinking it.  If my life depend on how I wrapped presents, I’m dead meat.

Sarcasm doesn’t work, especially on kids

My wife uses sarcasm far more often than I’d like to admit.  With my job, I try to keep sarcasm out of anything where I’m trying to get anything done largely because it confuses the message.  The words often conflict with the desired action, and as a result, some people just don’t get it.  Now taking that reasoning to parenting, as a child, you’re trying to develop an understanding of how the world works.  The introduction of sarcasm at a young age delays and confuses this process.  It also builds tension in the kids, and burns out the parents.  While it takes some self control, be as literal as possible with children, with clear expectations and consequences.  The last part is to ensure that you have realistic consequences that you are willing to follow through with.  Large threats that you’ll never possibly enact are less effective than small and moderate consequences that you are willing to consistently follow through with.  The large threats only induce fear and undermine the parent’s long term credibility.  Once you establish credibility, you have more leverage to set consequences for bad behavior, and the children will be more compliant.

Trick-Or-Treat

With Halloween coming up, the amount of candy in circulation is at its yearly high.  Lots of functions rotate around the basis of giving your kids processed sugar, then letting you deal with it.  Gee thanks.  It’s fun to dress up and pretend to be somebody else.  It’s fun to scare and be scared (in a non-threatening environment), but my kids really don’t need the sugar high.  We need to set limits on it.  The kids want to tear into every piece of candy and eat it all in one sitting.  They don’t understand the physiological consequences of that amount of sugar in the system, and there’s the pressure of being a parent and telling them they can’t eat anymore.  With the sugar, the quantity, and the consequences, parents often want to cave.  The children need to learn limits.  My wife needs to learn to help enforce them.  The impulsive tendencies developed by allowing for immediate gratification every time is counter-productive to their development in the long run.  If we can control how often these situations occur, they can be productive as rewards and special occasions.  If given too often, they lead to spoiled children, and poorly functioning adults.

Willie Wonka, Independence, and the iPad

At 5 1/2 years old, my son finally watched Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  This isn’t because I’ve tried to shield him from emotional trauma of Oompa Loompas, but because this was the first time that he wanted to watch it.  It was on TV.  Needless to say, earlier in the week he nearly refused to talk to me because he was on the toilet and did #2.  That’s not the big issue.  The big issue is that he still isn’t even trying to wipe.  I’m pretty sure I had it all figured out at this point.  My wife confirmed that we do have a third child on the way, and she’s worried about how she’s going to manage everything.  My first suggestion if I wanted my balls cut off is to get him to wipe.  She doesn’t want to hear those kinds of suggestions.  She lives by “pick your fights.”  To me that’s an excuse to not fight at all.  The same way that we potty trained him.  He turned 4 and we literally forced underwear on him.  Within a couple days, he was in the toilet.  I don’t know how we’ll do wiping the same way.  I digress.  Our daughter could probably be potty trained at 2.5, but she’s content to be in diapers, and only wants mommy to change her diapers.  She is also addicted to the iPad.  She throws a fit every time it’s taken away to charge.  I appreciate the thought of electronic gifts, but up until age 5, they need to be kept from kids.  The last part is that my wife cleans up their toys and doesn’t engage them.  If she would pick the fight and continue to press, they would eventually learn.  Instead they’ve trained her.  She looks to me for support, but what am I supposed to do if she doesn’t want the struggle with truth of the situation?  That brings me back to the movie.  When Veruca Salt disappears down the furnace shoot, the Oompa Loompas sing their song with the following Lyrics:

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory – Oompa Loompa Song: Veruca Salt Lyrics

“Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do
I have another puzzle for you
Oompa Loompa doom-pa-da-dee

If you are wise, you’ll listen to me
Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?
Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat
Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame
You know exactly who’s to blameThe mother and the father  (In big letters on the screen)

Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-da
If you’re not spoiled, then you will go far
You will live in happiness too
Like the Oompa Loompa doom-pa-dee-do”

Needless to say, I don’t want my kids to end up like the ones that Charlie survived.  I’m just going to need help to get it done.  It’s been my experience that people treat you with the respect you show, and the respect you demand in return.  The first is required to get the second, but it is a combination of the two that results.  The key to it all is really manners and sticking to them.  Asking please and saying thank you goes both ways.  I wish my wife would understand this when she whines about their whining.

 

Thoughts on 9-11

In Church, the pastor talked about how everyone in the room could remember exactly where they were on 9-11.  Then I looked around, and realized how many young people there were in the room.  Those that are high school or younger likely don’t have any idea or memory of that day.  The youngest I would expect to remember would be college graduate age by now.  It’s hard to believe it’s been that long.  For the people we’re fighting, I would estimate less than half or quarter even believed the attacks happen.  Another half of that believe that it was an inside job by Israel or the US.

Most people remember the flags right after.  I don’t remember that because of the college where I was.  Instead of uniting, that was a period of isolation for us.  We were about 6 miles from town, and most didn’t have cars.  The world went mad.  That day changed the course of my life.  Things were different going forward.  It troubles me to see how divisive we are as a country.  From Mark 3:35, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  We must find a way to realize the common values we do share and heal again.

I just worry that the America that I grew up with will continue to deteriorate and cease to exist for my children.  She is worth defending, but those who have been defending Her are growing tired.

Zone D

My wife and I are expecting our third.  We weren’t planning on a third, but we’re now expecting a third.  For now it’s man-on defense.  I can pin the oldest, and she can hold the youngest, and when we’re both on the field, we can keep the other team at bay.  Now that we have another on the way, things will need to be different.  The oldest needs to be self-sufficient as much as possible.  He must be trained to spy to keep us informed of the other team’s plays.  We just need to make sure he isn’t the instigator of those plays.  The youngest right now tends to be the mess maker.  We need to move her out of diapers and get to the point that she cleans up after herself.  Then we can focus on the new threat.  We’ll see where this one stands.  Boys vs. girls.  Children vs. Adults.  We’ll see where it goes.  Either way, we must play on.  Nobody on either team will take a knee.  Especially during the national anthem.  It’s about to get full contact.

Common Front

If you want to raise calm, well-adjusted children, this is perhaps one of the biggest keys.  The providing of a common front limits the ability of your children to play you off one another.  Understanding what your spouse is going to do and supporting them is a key to providing structure and normalcy.  There are three ways this works out.  1. One of the parents is dominant, and operates as a benevolent dictator.  2. One parent is dominant in defined areas. 3. You play the “go ask your mother”/ “go ask your father” game.  What you don’t want to do is have one parent dominant, and have the other come in.  It’s even worse when one parent is usually dominant, then asks for the help of the other, the other asserts themselves, then the original parent undermines and says the kid can do what it is.  At that point the second parent is undercut.  It just doesn’t lead to good things.  The kids now see a rift that can be exploited, and the second parent is going to question getting involved in the first place.  It’s a good way to alienate each other and teach the children that one parent is going to side with them, or start a fight in front of the kids.