How Girls Are Different So Far

When Thing 4 arrived, our first girl after 3 boys, I was fully prepared for everything that comes with a newborn. Car seats, strollers, bottles, sleepless nights, spit-ups, crying. Been there, done that 3 times.

Most stuff is pretty much the same, so far, with a girl as it was with the boys. I know this will change soon enough. But there have been some differences already.

Girls get a lot more gifts, especially clothes. We have already filled all her drawers and closet with clothes from family, friends, neighbors, and people we’ve never met before.

Girls don’t pee all over you and the wall when you change their diaper.

Girls need to have some pink on them at all times. Blankets, bibs, and clothes which are gender neutral colors like white or green or yellow, and were perfectly good for 3 boys, all need to be replaced with new ones which have pink on them.

What else am I in for with a girl?

Just Enjoy The Rain

Wet WeddingWhen people learned we were expecting our fourth kid in just over 6 years, the typical reaction, after the congratulations, was something like Wow, you’re crazy, I have my hands full enough with one/two/three, I can’t imagine what four would be like.

Now that Thing 4 has finally arrived and I have a full 24 hours under my belt as a father of four (wow! first time I’ve said those words), I will try to explain how I’m able to rationalize and keep my sanity. This will be another case of taking the long way home.

The first kid is a shock to the system. It turns your world upside down. Everything you want to do for yourself – watch a football game, go out to happy hour, go to the gym, hobbies – takes a backseat and it’s all about what, when, and where the kid needs to be.

With the second kid, what little of your own time you managed to carve out with one kid, is pretty much gone. People like to say you can still play a “zone defense”. But the way I see it, if you have one kid or two with you, you’re still not playing golf that day.

I attended a friend’s wedding some 10 years ago. It was an outdoor wedding, but there was a good chance for rain so they put a tent up just in case. Nobody wants rain on their wedding day but the show must go on. As we’re all sitting under the tent it began to rain, then pour, then a Noah’s Ark level deluge. At first, people tried to stay dry. They tiptoed around the puddles which were forming. The bridesmaids tried not to drag their dresses through the mud.

But then, as the reality of the situation set it, and people were already wet, and with a few cocktails in them, everyone started to not care so much about stepping in the water. Before long, everyone was splashing and dancing in the water, and standing outside the tent in the middle of the biggest downpour you can imagine. Once you are already soaking wet, what’s the point in fighting it? You may as well just sit back and enjoy it. It turned out to be one of the best weddings ever, even if SuburbanMommy did throw up in the street later that night.

Once you have more than one kid, your life is pretty much constant chaos, especially while they are still little. You are either dealing with one or more kids, at work, or sleeping. There isn’t room for much else. Adding one or two more kids won’t really change it that much. You are already wet. Just step out of the tent and enjoy yourself.

There Is No Such Thing As A Sick Day

In the movie A League Of Their Own, Tom Hanks memorably exclaims “There’s no crying in baseball”.

Well, in the world of parenting, unfortunately, there are no sick days.

I’m entering day 3 of the worst cough, sore throat, headache, congestion you can imagine. Yesterday I was able to take a sick day at work.

But there was no sick day from parenting. I still had to get the Things dressed, fed, and take them to school. In the afternoon, I still had to do 3 separate art projects in 3 different classrooms as part of Parents Appreciation Week because I committed to it before I got sick. I still had to do a triple bath night, and a Lego project with Thing 3 I had promised him for Friday night because I wasn’t able to be at his Parents Appreciation event because the school scheduled all three at the same time.

Parents Appreciation Week? That’s when the preschool schedules a week’s worth of activities for you with your kids when they’d otherwise be far away at school.

Now today is Saturday and it’s more of the same. But it’s the weekend, you say? Time to get some rest?

In my world, there is another reality which is, There Is No Resting On Weekends.

The Room Sharing Experiment

We are 3 weeks into the great room sharing experiment. I guess it’s not quite an experiment because we have no plan B if it doesn’t work out. But so far the results have been pretty good. No major fights or territorial conflicts, which I was expecting. Interestingly, there have been other changes that I didn’t expect.

Before moving in together, Thing 1 and Thing 2 had different personalities, routines, and interests. Thing 1 liked to recite sports statistics, go to sleep early with the lights off, and he was generally serious and reserved. Thing 2 liked imagination play, regularly having conversations with his dragons and toys for a good hour in his bed before finally falling asleep with the lights on.

From what I’ve seen in just a few weeks each is becoming more like the other. It’s like instead of a Thing 1 and Thing 2, we now have two Thing One-And-A-Half’s. Some of this merging into Thing 1.5 has been a good influence. Thing 2 is now more interested in reading, sports (good for me), and other interests and abilities like his big brother. And Thing 1 has become more imaginative and shows a sillier side. Surprisingly, they have become even more inseparable. I honestly don’t know how they don’t get tired of each other.

But, we also have a spreading of the not so good habits. They now both stay up late and play in their room to the point where we need to go up at least 3 times a night to tell them to quiet down and go to sleep. What used to be a very organized and orderly bedroom under just the management of Thing 1, has evolved into the just put everything on the floor system favored by Thing 2.

All in all, it’s been a net positive outcome. Which I have to say was an unexpected, very pleasant surprise.

Cold Turkey

Last night we embarked on Phase II of the great migration in preparation for Thing 4. Last week, Thing 2 moved in with his big brother. Other than staying up late talking and playing together, it has gone remarkably well.

Yesterday was to be the day Thing 3 moved out of his crib and into 2’s old room and toddler bed. He didn’t want any part of it and desparately wanted back to his crib.

SuburbanMommy suggested we have him sleep in the new room but in the crib. So I started to wheel it over. Except it wouldn’t fit through the door. So I took the door off. Then I couldn’t get the crib past the railing and had to backtrack back to the original room.

All the while, Thing 3 was crying while watching me take his beloved crib out, flip it upside down and all around, probably traumatizing him to the point that he’ll be the only Kindergartener who sleeps in a crib.

Bottom line: we caved.

Today I took a different approach. I went for cold turkey. I’d rather have a few days of hell than weeks of a slow, painful, drawn out transition.

Incredibly, it actually worked. Once he realized there was no going back, Thing 3 embraced the new room and bed, and he was sound asleep before long.

Now, if only potty training could be this easy.

True Partners

Since moving into the same bedroom a week ago, Thing 1 and 2 are learning about sharing and partnership. So far the results have been pretty good. Each is sharing his stuff with the other.

But we adults know the true test of any partnership is to put your money where your mouth is. Go into business with someone or buy something together and you’ll learn the true nature of your relationship.

That’s exactly what happened yesterday. Thing 1 desparately wanted to get Wii football. But he didn’t have enough allowance saved. So I suggested he see if Thing 2 would put up half the money. Together they had enough to cover the cost. We counted out the cash and took a trip to Target.

So far so good. They are taking turns playing. And they’ve learned a valuable lesson in how money works.

We’ll just see what happens when one of them gets tired of football and wants to trade it in for another game, but the other partner doesn’t want to sell. So one has to buy out the other’s share. But he won’t have the cash up front so there will be a payment plan, financing, and maybe collections for delinquent payments. I can see Thing 3 as the debt collector muscle. “Pay me now or I will hit you with this Buzz Lightyear”

What Not To Get For Christmas

This year Santa brought Thing 2 a transformer, Optimus Prime. It’s a robot that turns into a truck. The age range was 5+ but at 4 1/2 years I thought he could manage with some assistance from his big brother.

When I saw the instructions I knew immediately he’d have no chance to transform it. I dutifully started on step 1 of 28. It didn’t take long to realize this was no ordinary assembly.

I have successfully assembled hundreds of toys, bikes, cribs, and high chairs. I can install car seats.

As a kid I took stuff apart just to put it back together.

I have a degree in, of all things, mechanical engineering.

I write sophisticated computer programs for a living.

Yet, it took me 9 hours to transform Optimus Prime into a truck! Sort of… because the wheels still don’t lay flat.

Here is what it looked before and after: