27 April 2012

Memorializing Bed-Time Routines

We've been buying wall art.  Vinyl decals and transfers to supplement our massive collection of frames.  I like trees and nature themed transfers and other more abstract designs.  My wife is into quotes and words.  In a previous post, I detailed my bedtime routine with Cooper.  Now that we have moved into a smaller house and Dexter is out of his crib, the boys share a room and share bunk beds.  Cooper, the older of the boys, claimed the top bunk.  Our routine was instantly altered because I no longer lay with him while he falls asleep.  But the rest of the routine remains largely unchanged.

A main part of the routine that has been in place since Cooper was two years old is our recitation of the nice words.  The words, lifted from Sandra Boynton's Night Night Little Pookie  take about a minute to recite.  My wife suggested we purchase a custom vinyl decal with the words (a not insignificant investment).  Of course I bristled at the expense, but the words have been a significant part of our lives for some time.  Thinking about it, I realized we are closer to Cooper's fifth birthday than his fourth.  Dexter hasn't latched onto the nice words the way that Cooper did (in fact he has not self-weened as early as his brother did and his Dad is not a central feature of his bedtime routine which is basically story time and nursing).  It occurred to me we are on a countdown.  The nice words probably don't have much time left.  Cooper gets more independent every day, and I'm so proud of him.  But I don't want to let go.  But I don't think he'll want the words on his wall, and I'm not sure he'll want the words in his life much longer.

Hopefully I'm wrong.

24 April 2012

Full Contact Parenting

There are two stories in my family about my mother's klutziness.  One involves alcohol and breaking both her thumbs bowling.  This one might be apocryphal.  The other is definitely not, I witnessed the aftermath.  She dislocated her shoulder reading in bed.  We, as a family, often give each other a hard time.  As you can imagine, the tale of the reading injury has gotten a lot of mileage. I am not athletic.  I was an English major before Law School as was my wife.  My kids aren't old enough to make fun of me yet (much), but I think this past week I contributed to the family lore for the first time.

A little background:  To paraphrase Al Franken, I don't just believe in quality time with my family, I believe in bulk quality time.  And I am a hands-on Dad.  I have changed some of Dexter's nastiest diapers.  I take my two boys out on my own without the stereotypical Dad helplessness.  I change cloth diapers and carry around wet bags.  My wife often comments she has three kids rolling around on the floor wrestling.  I run around outside with my boys.  I am trying to teach them the rudimentary elements of sports.  Dexter likes to climb and, much to Sarah's chagrin, I encourage his climbing.  Cooper climbs too (but to a lesser extent--so far the four-year-old has not demonstrated the dexterity and balance of the two-year-old, but I still hope).  They also like to climb on me.

One of my daily jobs is story time.  I get the boys ready for bed, we brush our teeth, then we read stories.  I lay on my stomach on my bed with the boys and we read.  Cooper is slowly getting into the habit of trying to read the words himself, and we work together to slowly sound out the words on the simpler books.  A few weeks ago, Cooper climbed on my back and laid there during one of the stories.  Dexter was anxious to be next.  Over the following few nights, the boys predictably fought over who would lay where.  We developed a plan.  Each night, each boy picks out a story.  Sometimes I pick my own to read to them too.  During Cooper's story, he can lay on my back while I read.  Then Dexter lays on my back while I read his story.  We roll over and all lay on our back's during Daddy's story.

The other night Dexter was very excited about climbing on Daddy for Dexter's story.  Instead of laying down, though, he decided he wanted to sit on the back of my head.  Much to my surprise he plopped down with all his weight while my head was just inches from the side of the bed.  If I pitched forward with his weight (the natural impulse) I would have sent him flying off the side of the bed.  Instead I craned my neck back while I reached behind me and lifted him off my neck and dropped him on the bed beside me.  The pain was immediate and hasn't gone away.  That's right, I strained my back and neck reading to my children.  Take that mom!  I'd probably be mad about it but for the muscle relaxers and Norco.  Oooohh the codeine is kicking in righzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...........