Friday, January 3, 2014

I'm Calling You Out, Parents Magazine!

'Tis the season, right?  Well, I'm Jewish and my season was over a while ago.  I'm ready to be snarky and cynical just as I promised in my last post!

My last posting was all warm and fuzzy for the holiday season, but things just got hard again and, for now, I'm through being happy about it.  Let's get real and talk about the the truth behind all the cute pictures.

On Xmas day the boys decided that it was time to make a break for it.  Perhaps they were trying to see Santa before he skipped town for another 364 days.  Maybe they thought there were more gifts coming since Hannukah is eight nights and they didn't realize all the gifts come in the morning on December 25th and there were no more to open.  It's possible they were looking for that fakakta elf sitting on a shelf everyone on the playground talked about that they never saw.  Regardless of the reason, the reality was that both boys learned how to jump over their crib railings and get to the floor. 

Yep, after 14 entries about sleep I thought I was done with sleep problems only to find out that was just the first leg of a marathon of sleep issues.  After doing some investigating on the internet I hear that the next few years hold all sorts of sleeping surprises: negotiating bedtimes, crawling into bed with the parents, fears that the scary wtiches from a movie live under your bed.  Oh wait...that last one was me.. 

I'll admit about a month ago things started to be great.  Tantrum were down and giggles were up in our home.  The boys seemed to be able to communicate their needs more and more and were in better moods about everyday things like getting diapers changed and brushing their teeth.  They were able to make up simple games with "rules" to follow and, once in a while, they even learned how to share or take turns.  This was beginning to look like the fatherhood I imagined.

That time was short lived and we're back to a lot of tantrums because they aren't held 24/7.  "UP!" is one of the most popular words -- or should I say demands -- in our home these days.  "Oooooooopen!" is common too when there is a demand for more milk and the fridge is closed.  Other frequently heard words are apple, cracker, and no usually yelled like a command.  (We don't give in to these demands.  We're like the U.S. government.  We don't negotiate with baddies.)

As luck would have it my new issue of Parents magazine came around the holidays filled with recipe and craft ideas.  Don't get me wrong, I love my $8-for-2-year subscription, but let's just remember that some of these "simple do it yourself projects" have been aided by Photoshop.  Here is the truth of how some of those recipes and arts and crafts projects will go if any of us attempt them at home.

Pinterest failures
My favorite is the parenting advice.  The so called experts make it sound so easy but the reality is they work as well as those Pinterest do-it-yourself-projects.  Let's take a look at some of the advice in the recent magazine, shall we?

Almost anything you might tell your child not to do can easily be rephrased in a more encouraging way.  Don't want her to stand on the kitchen chairs?  You can say, "Chairs are only for sitting, sweetheart."  You'll send the same message but get far better results.

REAL LIFE RESPONSE: When I follow this simple approach Aaron looks at me, smiles devilishly, and then stands up in his chair again.  I give him one more warning and tell him that I'm going to take the chair away if he stands on it again.  He does, I take the chair away and it ends in a tantrum on the floor.

If you get mad when he's having fun chucking blocks across the room, he may be less willing to give up the game because any attention is good attention.  Instead, try saying calmly, "Blocks are made for stacking, not throwing, honey."

REAL LIFE RESPONSE: Jeff looks at me trying to figure out how serious I am.  After a few seconds he decides to throw the toy.  He then looks at me and wags his finger saying "no no" proving that he knows right from wrong but then throws more blocks 10 seconds later.

When your 18 month old has her hands on her brother's toy and he wants it back, redirect her by saying, "Here are your bubbles - let's go blow them together."  Or put her in charge of choosing another activity.  If she's throwing wood chips at the playground, for example, you might say, "Do you want to go on the swings or climb on the bouncy bridge?  You can pick."

REAL LIFE RESPONSE: A week ago I spent about 40 minutes trying to get the boys to share a 99 cent, 4 inch plastic cow.  When Jeff had it Aaron would flail on the ground screaming.  When Aaron had it Jeff would cry and yell, "Moo moooooooo!"  I offered plastic horses, chickens, pigs, stuffed animals, crayons and about a thousand other toys but nothing stopped the fights over that damn cow.

So yeah, Parents magazine, thanks for nothing.  That kid smiling in the picture isn't happy because she listened to your calm voice redirecting her.  She's happy because you promised her if she smiled she'd get to eat as many cookies, donuts and cupcakes as she wanted from the Kraft food services table.  That's why she isn't crying and throwing a fit.  So let's be honest about children's responses to these so called magical solutions all you journalists and child experts.  Come to my house and watch me follow your "advice" and publish those pictures.  They may look a little something like this...


  1. Thanks for this post! lol It is so true.

  2. At just over 2 my granddaughter has seen dog training. She now points her finger at me and says sternly "SIT" WAIT". Life continues to change as they grow and will change again soon. Love your honesty. The boys need to try things and see what happens. Chairs and blocks disappearing are good ways to teach you mean what you say. It only gets better and better when you have no illusions or false expectations and make no statements you can or will not follow through on. You are being such wonderful dads!!!!

  3. It's all unicorns and marshmallows in those magazines. Those are the articles that make us question our parenting abilities. We need more honest posts like this to make us realize we're not alone on the crazy rollercoaster of parenthood. Put a gate in their bedroom doorway. It will ease your mind at night. We tried a few different ones. A gate where the bars run vertically (kind of like a jail cell) worked best for us. My little guy wasn't able to climb over that one for quite awhile. Good luck ,dear!

  4. You make me cherish my teenagers. You hear all bad things about teens but seriously they are awesome compared to babies and toddlers.

    Just hang in there. Parenting mostly sucks when they are little. It is 90% suckage and then the occasional good day. Sounds like you are doing everything right. Just keep going forward each day and one day you will wake up and they will be in school. (Joking...but not really).