Archive | Parenting RSS feed for this section

The Great Birth Order Experiment [Updated]

15 Apr

We’ve been kicking around an idea since we found out we’re having triplets.  Let me hit you with it and, please, give me your honest opinion.

Growing up, my sister’s closest school friend was a girl named Dana.  I don’t remember a whole lot about her, other than the fact that she was kind of a goofball.  Very sweet and quirky.  Also, Dana was a twin.

I don’t remember her twin brother’s name, but I do remember Dana thinking he was a little obnoxious.  She’d roll her eyes and shake her head and say, “he acts like that because he’s older.”

“But aren’t you twins?  Isn’t he older by, like, 5 minutes?”

“Yeah,” she’d say, “but he thinks it’s more like 5 years.” * [Update below.]

I’m the oldest of 3 and my wife’s the youngest of 3.  We’ve discussed it over the years and wondered: what role does our birth order play in who we are?  Would I have been attracted to Carey if I’d been a middle child or a youngest?  Would I have chosen the same career?  Would I have the same adult relationship with my sisters if they’d been older than me?

Clearly, my poor little sisters would’ve had to endure far less torture at my hands if we’d all been born at the same time.  Then again, would they?  Do groups of human beings need an Alpha?  All things being equal, are all things equal?

So, our experiment: what if my wife and I keep the order in which our 3 are introduced to the world between us?

I’m not saying never tell them.  But what if we wait until they’re 16 or 18 or well-established in their life patterns?  What would happen if these three human beings really are treated as equals?  Is it possible?


It would probably take a decent amount of pre-planned subterfuge to pull it off, but we might be able to do it if we’re committed.  We’d have to hide a document or two, maybe fudge a few details if we have a particularly eventful birth (and, lets’ face it, we will).

The only thing I’m not sure about: if Birth Order Knowledge is taken from children, is that a frustrating or damaging to them?  Will they hate us for it? We’re still on the fence about it.

I don’t know.  What do you think?

* [Update]

The great thing about keeping a blog is you get to hear from people you’d never get to otherwise.  Turns out Dana Lawes (above mentioned twin from my and my sister’s childhood) discovered her name here and decided to drop a note.  Who knew!  She says:

My twin’s name is Drew (or actually Andrew). And to be honest, I was the older twin by 3 minutes. It’s funny because I always was so proud of the fact that I was older since Drew was undeniably the smarter one and taller one. So I had the “older” card. Honestly, it was a great trait to have growing up but it really doesn’t matter now – or since I was probably 12.  I think birth order is more important for non-multiples. But that’s just my opinion.

Don’t feel like you have to update your blog with the correction (not like you would but just saying).  At least your memory of me wasn’t that I was the obnoxious girl that loved being older! And you need to be ready for people asking if your triplets are identical (even if you have 2 boys/1 girl). About 80% of people that know that I have a twin brother ask if we are identical. I mean really.

Mea culpa, Dana.  Memory, she’s fickle.  Thanks for writing, though, and for the thoughts on birth order.

(And, sister, you’d better believe I’m updating with a correction.  We’re all about integrity here at T.O.T. Central.)

Baby People

11 Apr

Come on, you’ve seen her.

Every family reunion, she has somebody’s baby on her lap.  She corners pregnant women at the grocery store and asks them how far along they are and if they’ve picked out names yet. She loves talking to anyone 24 months or younger and when she does, she dwops her Rs because evewyfing is so fweaking pwecious.

Who's precious? Hm? Who's a precious sweetie? Who's a sweetie-peetie punkin berry? Is it you? IS IT YOU?

She isn’t necessarily an extrovert, but when she sees a baby, she just can’t help it.  She goes into a weird, maternal crack fit and her fix is baby smell.  She needs to hold babies. She lives in their world, man; she thinks their thoughts.

She’s a Baby Person.

And if you think she’s going to let a baby slip under her radar?  Dude, you’re out of your mind.

Don’t misunderstand me, by the way.  This isn’t a complaint.  We need our Baby People.  They remind us of a time when the world wasn’t so bleak and cynical.  Eventually, babies turn into brooding, tortured teens and we should probably thank the Baby People for stopping it from happening even earlier in life.  We should cherish them for who they are, for doing what they do.

Since discovering our newfound triplet fortune, we’ve become acquainted with a few Baby People.  We’ve found they’re often incognito, waiting to pounce, like undercover FBI.  Fact is, they’re everywhere.  You know plenty of them.

My wife and I, on the other hand?  Well, there’s no other way to say it: we’re not Baby People.

So, listen, you're looking great. I trust all your needs are being met and things are going well for you. If not, seriously, give me a shout. We'll get together or something.

Now, we don’t hate babies; we don’t even dislike them.  We just can’t relate.  We’re happy to smile at your baby and congratulate you on such attractive offspring.  We say things like “aww” and “look how sweet”.  We’ll shake your hand and pat the little nipper’s head and there’s a really good chance that, later on, we’ll remark to each other, “wasn’t that a cute baby?”  But we probably won’t grab your baby out of your hands without an invitation.  We won’t do that thing where we pull up your baby’s shirt and blow mouth farts into his belly.  Nothing personal, we’re just not in the Baby Business.  That’s the exclusive province of the Baby People.

And soon we’ll have triplets.

My wife is a little panicked.  If you’ve never met her, you’ll need to take my word for it: she really is an interesting, stylish lady.  She works at a high-end salon and, in her spare time, she cooks vegan and campaigns on behalf of the environment and animal rights.  She’s a fan of all things mod.  She’s colorful, quirky, offbeat and multi-layered.  But she’s worried all that is slipping away.  She’s going to have to be The Lady With The Triplets, end of story.

Me, I don’t know.  I’m sure healthy, highly functional human beings can be raised by two parents who aren’t necessarily Baby People.  And fact is, we’re going to need the help of lots of Baby People to get through these initial months.  We don’t know what we’re doing.  Hearing from other triplet parents has helped enormously, but it certainly hasn’t begun to transform us into a couple who emails pictures of baby outfits to each other with the subject “OMG CUTEST EVER”.

Baby People, are you born or are you made?  Can a non-BP transform into a BP?  Is it inevitable?  Can we hang onto our identities as arty intellectuals or are we destined to be the human zoo?

Help us, Baby People!  Teach us!

KEEP BEING BABY PEOPLE SO WE DON’T HAVE TO!

Dad Catalog

24 Mar

Dad!Baby, I’m a lot of things.  And “cool” ain’t one of ’em.

I’ve been rolling it over and over in my brain for, well, years probably.  “If I ever become a father, what sort of father will I be?”  Options are limitless and I suppose you more or less get to choose up front, don’t you?

Arty Hipster Dad
“Listen, kids: CREATE and EXPERIENCE.  Everything you do is fuel and fodder, dig?  Be fabulous and incandescent.  Leave your mark, wherever you go, whatever you do.  YOU ARE ART.”

Coach Dad
“Gang, it’s 5 AM, get up!  That 10k isn’t going run itself and according to my watch, you’re gonna need to double-time it.  Hustle hustle! Losers sleep in… you’re not losers, are you?”

Churchy Dad
“My concern is that another Wii game will cut into your volunteer time at the shelter.  Have you prayed about this?  By the way, how’s Habakkuk coming?  Tough book!”

Vice Dad
“You’re gonna find that a hearty, red stout mixes well with menthols.  Just a real nice bouquet, know what I mean?  No?  Fine, here’s your pacifier back, y’lightweight.  Ho! S’midnight, let’s see what’s cookin’ on Cinemax.”

Drill Sergeant Dad
“Oh, you want dessert, Mr. A-MINUS?  Do you think MINUSES are reasons to celebrate?  And by the way, you call that a crease?  Google “proper-way-to-iron-a-pair-of-pants”, you dirty-hippie-with-an-A-minus!”

Mushy Softy Dad
“We’re a family, you know?  A family.  We complete each other.  We lift each other up.  Treasure these moments we have, kids.  They’re precious…  THEY’RE ALL PRECIOUS, JUST LIKE ALL OF YOU.”

Tough Love Dad
“I know re-shingling the roof in mid-July with no sunscreen seems like an extreme consequence.  I do, I get it.  But you know the rules about talking without permission after 8:00.  Hey, don’t cry: if we don’t honor our own system, what are we?”

Freebird Dad
“Hey, I’m not here to lecture you like some kind of square.  You want to jump naked into traffic, who am I to stop you?  We make our own consequences, you know?  We’re all just passengers in the Ship O’ Life, kiddo.”

Power Trip Dad
“Because I’m your father, that’s why.  And if you ask me that again, you’re going to experience something horrible and arbitrary.  Also, call me ‘sir’.”

Creepy Buddy Dad
“You guys cool with me tagging along? If you’re thinking R-rated movie, y’know, I can totally get us in.”

Political Pundit Dad
“Hey, I wanted to go to DisneyLand as much as you!  Know why it’s not happening?  Well, it’s a long story, but it has to do with tax breaks and Bill Clinton.  Think I’m wrong?  Go ahead, look it up.  I’ll wait.”

Hands-On Dad
“You’re giving a book report in front of the class tomorrow?  Why didn’t you say anything?  Hang on, let me cancel a couple of meetings.  Is the video camera charged?  What time should I be there?”

Hands-Off Dad
“Heh?  Oh, good, happy birthday, then.  Whatever, just take what you want out of my wallet and have a blast, I don’t know.  Check with your mother.”

Old Salt Dad
“You morons with your LOL and OMG and BBQ and what all.  In my day, we had fax machines and Pac-Man!  And that was plenty!”

But of all of the options on the table, I suppose “Cool Dad” is the one I’m most committed to avoiding.  I don’t really ever remember being cool and I can’t imagine starting anytime soon.  At some point, these kids are going to have friends and I can’t quite imagine overhearing “your dad is so cool!” And if I do, I think I’ll wince a little.

Thing is, thanks to my upbringing, I have concerns.  I don’t know how else to say it: I had great parents.  And, man, that’s a lot of pressure.

My dad?  Co-coached the little league team I was on.  Never missed a game, a school play, a presentation or a parent-teacher conference.  He took the time to teach me what riding a bike was all about and he threw pop-ups to me in the back yard until I wasn’t scared of catching them anymore.  Discipline was fast and appropriate when I was being a moron and when I wasn’t, he trusted me to make good decisions.

Mom?  Same thing.  She was fully available and invested in me and my sisters.  She was fun and wise and hilarious and proud of me.  She reminds me now how many mistakes she made, but I don’t remember any of them.

Can I do that?  I don’t know, man, I’m pretty distracted and weird.  Arbitrary crap drives me crazy and I can be an awfully difficult human being to live with.

Which brings me back to “cool”.  If these three are going to be popular and confident people, it’ll be despite their screwball father.  I think I’ll expect a lot of them, maybe too much.  And, at one point or another, I’ll likely be every dad I listed at the start of this post.

And one day a friend of one of my children will be over at our house.  They’ll ask me if it’s okay to do something ridiculous and unsafe and I’ll tell them No Way.

And as I walk away, I’ll hear the friend of one of my children say, “your dad is so lame.”

And I’ll probably grin.  Because, yeah, that’s the stuff.

In which Al drops by to offer a few genuine Tips on Triplets

11 Mar

If you don’t know Al Pollard, you should.  He runs StayAtHomeTripletDad.com and his family is the subject of the legendary Pollard Triplets blog.  He’s administrator for an online Triplet Dad network and he and his wife have lead courses on multiples parenting.  There probably isn’t such a thing as Celebrity Triplet Virtuosity, but if there is, I nominate Al.

Anyhow, sensitive to my nerves and insecurities as a soon-to-be triplet dad, Al reached out with spark and comfort.  He’s offered more than a few helpful words to me via email and his latest message was loaded with too much good material to remain unexploited.

Attendez-vous?

Advice to Parents-To-Be of Multiples
from new Parents of Triplets:

  • While pregnant, follow your doctor’s advice to the letter.  This can add days and even weeks to how long you carry your babies and we all know the longer the better!  That being said, some things are out of our control and sometimes babies are born premature (see “Let go of the guilt” below).
  • If your babies end up in the NICU—don’t wear yourself out spending too much time there.  Use that time to heal and prepare for their homecoming.  Understand that they are in the best of hands and receiving the best of care.  Don’t worry that they won’t know who you are … they do!  Or that you are a bad parent … you are not!
  • Let go of the guilt.  Know that you did and are doing the best that you can.
  • The best thing we did was to spend the first two weeks alone at home with the babies. This gave us time to bond with the babies and to put a system in place that worked for us, our babies, our house and our dog!
  • Blame everything on the Doctors!  People will want to come and visit (some of these will be family and close friends, but others will be people you barely know) … multiples seem to draw a large crowd.  You have to be selfish … think of yourself and the babies first.  Then, blame the doctors when you let them know it will be a few months before you are receiving visitors.
  • Get the babies on a schedule and use some type of system to track feeding and activities (tummy time, baths, walks, skin-to-skin time, etc.)
  • Learn (quickly!) to not let the unimportant things bother you.
  • Don’t feed two babies at a time (propped bottles).  Not only can this be dangerous, but this is your opportunity to spend one-on-one time with each baby.
  • Make sure you finish one baby before you start the next … sometimes, you will feel rushed when feeding one because the other is crying (here is where you need to let go of some of the guilt!), but going back and forth between two babies does not work.  Believe us!  We have tried it.
  • Things will not always go as planned!  Adapt your plan … don’t get upset!
  • Finally, just face it.  Your life is never going to be the same again.But it will be better than you ever imagined possible!

 

Al was also good enough to include a printable spreadsheet that he used to keep track of all the necessaries for kids 1,2 and 3.  Overboard?  I wondered, but Al assured me there’s not only a method behind the madness, but your kids’ health and nutrition could very well depend on your keeping an accurate log of who’s had what and when.

Finally, he sent along a hyper-detailed .doc, outlining to babysitters, family members or any other caregivers how to handle just about every triplet-related situation, from hygiene to feeding to medicine to bottle cleaning. A lot of it is personal and specific to his children, so I won’t post it here, but woof! what a lot to digest.

Thanks, Al, for doing your part to save us from calamity.  Let me know about that tattoo artwork, I surely do owe you one.

The Purge

7 Mar

I have to think every red-blooded, first-time expectant father wonders the same thing when it’s discovered that babies are on the way: how much material in this house am I now going to have to hide or chuck altogether?

The wife and I need to sell the house.  It’s a given.  Currently, we have 1,000 square feet and 2 bedrooms (1 of which is my office).  That, as the kids probably no longer say these days, is hella too small. So, clock ticking, we’re boxing everything up.  We’ve rented storage space and we’re car-loading our non-essentials over there in the event that God’s Little Gifts come earlier than expected.

Seven

Sure, genius. Go ahead and expose your innocent little crew to the brilliant cinematography contained within. No no, I'm sure they'll really appreciate it.

And then the inevitable happens: I’m sifting through our DVD collection and I run across some friggin’ hyper-violent David Fincher masterpiece and think, uh.  Hang on. Or, in the office, clearing books off the shelves and I spy a dusty copy of The Kama Sutra.  Er.  Wait.

Hey, I love David Fincher and I fully anticipate any offspring of mine to share my impeccable film sensibilities, but come on.  This material is not for children.  So what am I supposed to do?

I suppose it’s reasonable to assume that I have a few years before I need to actively shield these children from our house’s flirties and dirties, but I still feel the need to develop some sort of game plan.  Every guy who’s ever clicked a mouse (not to mention, statistically, most ladies) has done a digital porn-sweep of their browser history and this feels more or less like the big leagues version of that.

Lost Girls

Alan Moore's Lost Girls.
Sophisticated, illustrative erotica published by Top Shelf Productions (which is apt, as that's the very shelf on which it'll need to reside once our little crew starts walking).

But it raises the bigger issue of what is and isn’t good to have in the home, now that I’m a soon-to-be father.  Does everything in our lives need to be rated G now?  On the one hand, I can’t think of anything more boring and frustrating.  On the other, I’d rather not have to spend the first 10 years of their lives chasing their sticky little fingers around with a fly-swatter (“No no, baby!  That’s only for big people!  That’s adults-only! You’re not ready!  Put it down!  Don’t open that!  That’s mommies-and-daddies-only!”)

Realistically, sure, there’s some sort of happy medium.  Well, there has to be.  Granted, I was raised in a home with no traces of alcohol.  Or movies rated anything harder than PG.  And, come to think of it, when I was a teenager, we didn’t even have a TV.

And god knows I don’t want to over-shelter them either.

!!! This is hard, this parenting business.  And they’re letting just anyone with reproductive organs do this?  WTF

(If you happen to be my children, reading this years from now, what Daddy means is “What The Fantastic”.)