The Team Approach

Getting any almost 5 year old to stay focused and not be distracted is a challenge. With Thing 3 it’s impossible.

A seemingly simple request to go upstairs and put his pajamas on turns into an endless string of diversions. He is distracted by so many shiny objects along the way, by the time he gets upstairs he forgets why he went there in the first place.

Then he gets mad, because he can’t go in the basement, because his pajamas aren’t on, so he goes back upstairs and the cycle starts over. Meanwhile, his brothers had their pajamas on long ago and are playing in the basement.

Today I came up with a new approach. I call it the team approach. I said to Thing 2 and Thing 3, “You are a team. The team goes in the basement when the team has their pajamas on.”

I knew this would have no effect on Thing 3. He was already onto a new shiny object. But for Thing 2, this was the motivation I was looking for. He went upstairs with Thing 3, picked out his pajamas, and pushed on him to put them on.

Instead of being a new distraction for Thing 3 and getting silly with him, Thing 2 kept him focused. Thing 3 listened to his brother way better than he ever does with me. And I didn’t even need to be upstairs!

Why didn’t I think of this sooner? I am a genius. Wait a second. I’ve thought that before and it always backfires. There must be a flaw here but I’m not seeing it.

What I’ll Do For 15 Minutes Of Quiet

I’m home alone with Things 1, 3, and 4. SuburbanMommy took Thing 2 to his flag football game. It’s Saturday morning, the first 80 degree Saturday since last year, and the Things are very restless. Translation: I need 15 minutes of quiet.

Enter the water table. We use it all the time in the summer. It keeps their attention for a long time. But it has been sitting outside all winter and is filthy.

The dilemma: Do I let them play with the water table, which means I need to spend a lot of time cleaning while they are trying to “help”, making the cleaning process take twice as long, and I will need to change all their clothes again when they get each other soaking wet and the session ends in a fight-meltdown because water table always ends in a water fight?

Here is the answer.


It Was Only A Matter Of Time

We all knew this was coming. It was only a matter of time. Frankly, I’m amazed it didn’t happen to me sooner. It will most certainly happen again.

Thing 3 had his first “I’m so sorry my kid said that” moment. Like I said, I can’t believe this was the first. If you’ve spent any time with him you know what I mean.

We were at the mall, in a public restroom. It was a small bathroom for a mall, with just room for two at a time. Thing 3 was finishing up washing his hands and looking for a paper towel to dry them.

The other party was ahead of Thing 3 at the paper towels. The only sounds were of paper crumbling, until, in a voice that was way too loud for the circumstances, which is pretty much the way he talks all the time, Thing 3 exclaimed:

That’s a fat guy!!!


Thing 3 was technically correct. Very correct. And I was thinking this is the last time I take him out in public.

Try Anything

Thing 4 is a great sleeper. At two years old she actually asks to go to bed when she’s tired, usually just before 8pm, and the bedtime routine is literally 30 seconds. It’s a nice contrast with Thing 3 whose bedtime routine can take 30 minutes.

There is one slight problem, though, with Thing 4’s otherwise good sleeping habits. She wakes up at 5am. Every day. And she isn’t the type to snuggle in bed, watch a show, and wake up slowly. No, at 5 o’clock she is ready to go go go. And she is loud, which wakes her brothers up.

As I write this, it’s 8:30am on a Saturday and we’ve been up for three and a half hours. I’m all out of play ideas for the day.

And so, I’m ready for what could turn out to be a major mistake. I just brought up the big girl bed from the basement.


With the boys, we waited as long as possible before letting them out of their cage crib. And then it was a long adjustment to get them to stay put at bedtime.

So this could turn out to be a huge mistake with Thing 4. But at this point I’m willing to try anything. What’s the worst that can happen?

It Could Not Have Gone Worse

Time for another trip to the dentist with Thing 3.? Based on the pleasant surprise last time, I was kind of expecting it would be fine.? But when I consider his history of dentist visits, shoe shopping, and haircuts, I realize it was just wishful thinking.

He was already anxious, I knew he needed to go potty even though he refused, and coupled with the extra long wait we had in the waiting room, it was getting to be too much for Thing 3 so he decided he would leave.? He left the dentist’s office and slammed the door.? Then opened it.? Then slammed it.? Then opened it.? The office staff thought it was entertaining.? I was not amused.

In the examining room, he refused to get into the chair.? The kid who loves to watch movies didn’t want to pick a movie that he could watch on the ceiling while lying back in the chair.?? He wouldn’t let her floss or brush his teeth.? He finally agreed to sit in my lap while the dentist “counted” his teeth, which is his effective ploy to get a look in his mouth.? All along Thing 3 was saying how “horrible” everything was, and that he wanted to “punch everyone in the face” and “put them in the toilet”.? Luckily those last two were for my ears only before we got there.

Even with little he was able to see of his teeth, the dentist spotted some decay on his front tooth.? Maybe that’s because he is such a willing participant every night when it’s time to brush his teeth.? The dentist wanted him to take an x-ray.? You can imagine how well that went over.? A new room he didn’t want to go into.? A new chair he wouldn’t sit in.

Twenty minutes and a lot of coercing later we had the x-ray results.? There was a spot that would need to be filled either now or as a cavity later.? Considering he never was able to have the cleaning, we may as well do the filling and the cleaning all at once in a future visit where he will need to be sedated for about an hour while they work on him.

Sedation ought to be fun, especially considering his addiction to milk and the fact that he can’t have anything to eat or drink for 6 hours prior.? We’ll likely need to use sedation for all his dentist visits in the future.? And do you know what’s really fun about that?? The not covered by insurance $650 it costs each time.

A New Bed

Thing 3 got a new bed today.? It’s a full-size bed with a trundle underneath for future sleepovers.? He had been in a toddler bed for so long, although it’s not like he was actually sleeping in it.

We made mention of it a couple of times but didn’t make a big deal.? This is Thing 3 after all.? You give him casual notice of change, but do not dwell on it because he will resist the more you talk about it.? When I picked him up at preschool today I told him there was a surprise in his bedroom.? He was excited.

He didn’t get upset when he saw it.? I think he was actually liking it.? At bedtime, he was reluctant, but I lured him with the promise of a special bedtime story.? To my shock he got in the bed.? Under the covers.? And put his head on the pillow!? Those may sound like no big deal, but did you read this?

Here he is all tucked in.


Adorable, right?? Except it lasted about 10 minutes.? Then he was out of bed as usual, complaining that his bed was “unsafe” and demanding that I “put it back the way it was!”? The last I saw he was lying horizontal across the bed, on top of the covers, with his feet on the wall.? We’ll see where he actually falls asleep tonight.

What Life Is Like With 4 Kids

Have you ever wondered what it’s like to have 4 kids? It’s not all that unique to your daily life if you have any number of kids. Just more of it. I’ll take you through my day today, which is pretty typical, and see if it’s anything like you imagined.

If I had to describe my days in one word it would be: non-stop. Every day is a continuous flow of doing one thing immediately followed by another. There is no break. No time to think. Organization, planning and logistics are paramount, which does not bode well for me since none of those are my strong suit, but luckily SuburbanMommy excels at them.

My day starts shortly after 5 am. Continue reading What Life Is Like With 4 Kids

I Am A Joke

I am a father of four, educated, with a respectable job and nice home. I should command respect and authority from my kids.

Apparently, that is not the case. SuburbanDaddy has become a source of laughter and joking at the expense of Things 1-3. Thing 4 is too young, but give her time, I’m sure she’ll join her brothers.

How do I get ridiculed by a seven, six, and especially four year old?

They make fun of my clothes: “Look at daddy’s socks! Ha ha. ” So what, I keep my dark socks on that I wore to work, when I come home and change into shorts. Changing socks would only create more laundry.

They make fun when I forget things, which is a lot these days. Lately, I can’t get their names straight. I often rattle through all three before getting the right one. “Get off your brother, Thing 2! I mean Thing 3! I mean Thing 1!” Instead of getting off, they just start laughing at me.

By far the worst abuse comes from Thing 3. He can completely crack himself up, hysterical laughter, just by saying something that is hilarious to an almost four year old.

“Daddy, you stink” will cause Thing 3 to laugh for ten minutes.

Then there is “Daddy, let me bop your coconut” which means he wants to hit me on the head with a soccer ball or golf club. Once he does, it’s very funny. Well, it is funny to him.

And there’s the latest one. We’ll be driving in the car, talking about ducks or clouds or firetrucks or whatever random thought catches his mind. Out of nowhere, Thing 3 will say:

“Hey Daddy! Daddy! ”


“You’re a joke”