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.
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.
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.
It’s that time of the year. The Olympic torch is out, Ryan Lochte is making stupid mistakes that don’t nearly start international incidents, Usain Bolt is racing cars… barefoot, and the sport that takes the spotlight is football. That aside, we hold a Superbowl in the house almost daily. Kids vs. Parents. Right now the two teams are pretty evenly matched. With one kid, the sport is all about double coverage. The weak defense quickly improves and the youth has to build cunning to keep up with the parents. With the addition of a second child, the coverage now becomes man on. The occasional carry of a red drink to the carpet gives up an occasional score, but the parent team can clean that up. The game changes significantly with the third child. The scheme changes from man on to zone, and now parents are split between multiples. Adding more to the mix only increases the stress of the zone coverage. This can lead to rapid saturation. In that case, the best course of action is try and recruit from the other team, or at least get one of them to spill the playbook before each play. That’s your best defense.
In the absence of family living close, finding childcare that my wife approves of is nearly impossible. The first attempt at daycare for our oldest resulted in frustration for the care provider. The provider said she could not sooth him. My wife stressed the whole time, and after figuring for the cost of childcare vs. time available it was better she stay home. We’re not about to pay someone else to screw up our kids. We can do that perfectly well ourselves. As a result, my wife stays home with the kids. The main problem with that is she feels the compulsion to entertain them. That shouldn’t be her primary focus. As she cares for them, she should be helping them grow and become more independent. Now that our youngest can talk some, we had one date where we left the kids with a hired babysitter. The kids had fun, and they were well behaved. Maybe we need to do it more often. The problem is, after being gone for dinner, my wife had the strong urge to go home and be with the kids. It was a nice hour at least. Maybe now that the grandparents are retired, we can finally get some good, cheap child care.