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.
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.
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.
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.
If nothing else, getting married is about traditions. Something old, something new, yada yada. We all know it. Did he just yada yada something borrowed something blue? Yes he did. I digress. Whether holidays, or losing teeth, or whatever, there are traditions involved. When you get married, you have to find a way to accommodate those traditions between you and your spouse. How do you prep for Santa? How do you deal with lost teeth? Church? Dinner? The wedding is the first test of this. For me, I established that I am the boss because she does what she tells me to do. Christmas is probably the biggest annual point where this comes to light. When you open presents, hand the stockings, how long the tree is up. Each family seems to have a different take. How old do you tell your kids about Santa, the Easter Bunny, the truth about Kwanza, or the Tooth Fairy? Some of this eventually happens on it’s own. My philosophy growing up was as long as they kept delivering, I was going to keep believing. Either way, this is something that needs to be established so you can seem credible as the kids separate you and interrogate you for details about how the next mythical being is supposed to interact with them. The other solution is my personal technique when cornered like this, “That’s nice dear, go ask your mother.”
My wife told me that there’s an article that she agrees with that she shouldn’t tell me “thank you” for doing daddy duties. Now we have articles that articulate actively not modeling the behavior we want out of our children. That’s how I interpret it at least. I changed a diaper. It was a messy one. She asked me if I wanted a thank you for it for what she does regularly. The answer is “No, but it would be nice.” I know I don’t change them often, but I’m also doing all kinds of other daddy things. I’ll do home maintenance, yard work, and general earning of income to support our lifestyle. Should I start not thanking my wife for “mommy” things? No thank yous for cooking, cleaning, laundry, and taking care of the kids? This road can go both ways. Let’s be polite and model the right behavior for our kids. I am invested in the kids, so I like spending time with them, but diapers are not my forte. For that, it’s along the lines of breaking things, fixing things, and cooking dead things over fire. In the daddy department, with young children I am an X-man. I have the uncanny ability to have them go from mildly unhappy with me to everyone crying and asking for mommy in about 30 seconds. That’s a big part of why I don’t delve too deep into those waters. I’m just saying I’ll help. I’ll do things, but I’m just asking for a little thank you every once in a while.
“I’m not joking around.” This is a phrase uttered by many a parent. It usually means that the children have been wearing away at the parental sanity all day, and the parent doesn’t have many resources left. Far too often it’s an empty promise and ultimately serves to undermine parental discipline. It may work a couple times, but once the “I’m not joking around” gives way to no action, the child can now call the parent’s bluff. I’m a proponent of starting young. You count to three, then either spank, or take away the object that is most important. They may cry, but if they learn when they’re young you’ll follow through with your threat on small threats, you can make them appropriate when they’re older. The key at all ages is to make sure that the threat is 1. actionable, 2. legal, and 3. you’re willing to carry it out. That way counting to two can often have the effect you desire, but getting to three will immediately enact the threat. Threatening to take away Christmas, or to drive all the way back to Hoboken when you’re almost to Disney Land won’t cut it, unless you’re a meaner dad than I. It’s also key that both parents stand united on this one. To give them the object is to pit the parents against each other, leading to bigger problems. Stand united, stand strong, and don’t make me count to three.