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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Household magnetism: Attraction and repulsion between family members

I never know what to expect when I get home. Some days I am a chick magnet, with my wife and two girls racing to be the first one to hug me, then cling to me no matter what I do for a good portion of the night. Meanwhile, my son ignores me in favor of Hot Wheels. Other days, I get home to three kids that zip to me while my wife glares and gets as far from me as possible. As far as I know, I've done nothing to contribute to a negative mood. I'm just happy to be home with a (mostly) loving family. This got me thinking about magnetism within the family. Each person must have a north and south pole setting, and the settings constantly flip flop or even neutralize in these human magnets. Below is a list of potential familial magnetic settings, and the things that can happen to change the north and south poles to make opposites attract within the family.

North pole: Daddy
South pole: Everyone else
Mommy has had an excellent day with the kids. Everyone played well together and behaved themselves. Daddy comes home to a blissful feeling in the air and a total of four clingons that just won't let go. Daddy walks around with kids hanging on his legs for most of the night or asking to get on his shoulders. Mommy gives lots of hugs and kisses. Daddy has good chances once kids go down to bed, though bedtime will take a long time since minor magnets won't let go of his legs as he tries to walk away.

North pole: Daddy
South pole: Kids, Mommy
This setting happens when children misbehave and fight constantly, or when Mommy gets an annoying phone call just before daddy arrives home. South poles open the door and run into the snow without shoes because they need the north pole so badly. Kids cannot get far enough away from their fellow south pole and her accompanying mood. Their north pole is viewed as sanctuary, and you can feel the repulsion between the poles. This is an interesting setting though, because Daddy's north pole only attracts the kids' south pole. Somehow the mommy south pole only works for the sake of repulsion. While Daddy is still fully attracted to Mommy, Mommy imitates a north pole with all its frigidity and runs off to hide from the family with a long book which she reads in one night.

North pole: Baby sister
South pole: Older sister, a futile baby sister (toward older sister only), Daddy
This one is pretty much a constant if no other magnets have been switched on. No amount of fatherly swatting can dissuade the 3-year-old sister from pouncing with great alacrity and insistence on baby sister, who so wants to share a pole with her older and heavier sister. Baby sister starts to resemble a wailing pancake as the overwhelming magnetic forces plaster her to the ground. Baby sister crawls as hard as her miniscule body will work toward Daddy, who is simultaneously repelling the older sister, who is attempting to maul said baby. Baby clings with futility to Daddy, who is preoccupied fending off the frenzied south pole.

North pole: 3-year-old daughter
South pole: 4-year-old son
This is one of the daddy's favorite settings, though he must remain magnetically neutral if he hopes to observe it. Either that or open an east-west pole between him and Mommy. The children play pretend, using actual toys that substitute for the pretend toys they would like to be playing with. They love and cling to each other as they zip around the house with toys. No fighting erupts, and the poles can stay aligned like this for hours, inducing the east-west poles to try to figure out how they can somehow attract the same kind of love they are seeing between siblings.

North pole: Baby sister, Daddy
South pole: Mommy (i.e. milk truck)
At eight months old, it amazes Daddy how fast baby can crawl to reach the milk truck at meal time. As she beelines it for the free meal, she often buzzes the word, "Mmmmmmaa-ma," holding the first "M" to show her appreciation for the anticipated meal. This can be a dangerous magnetic setting, since if Daddy holds baby on his shoulders or in his arms, baby will relentlessly dive toward its opposite polar coordinate, leading to some close calls which the Daddy with zero magnetic pull would prefer to forget.

North pole: Daddy
South pole: Mommy
With such a variety of settings possible, this one, so well known as newlyweds, is hard to align with three children present. Usually Daddy has to bring flowers, purposefully lose a game of Scrabble, or do a laundry list of chores around the house without being told. And doing it without being told is increasingly hard since the Mommy is quick to point out her "Honey-dos." This leads to a situation where the Daddy no longer gets correctly polarized while doing the chores. He only appeases the Mommy enough to keep her in a neutral mood. He also doesn't enjoy the chores in this scenario, since he sees the polarities reversing as she speaks the words he had intended to accomplish without hearing them first.

With only two poles, it's difficult to find the right balance within a family to maintain magnets that attract each other. Luckily, or unluckily as the case may be, no magnetic setting lasts forever. Even the earth's poles have supposedly reversed themselves during the course of history. If the earth were my family, the poles would be as mercurial and inconstant as the familial settings I've described above. As constantly as the poles shift, though, I have never seen a situation so bad in our family where there wasn't at least one north pole and one south pole. Love is a strong thing, far more magnetic than magnets could dream to be. The ultimate goal of every family should be to make every family member have both a north pole and a south pole which help the family fall into a neat line of perfectly aligned magnets.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Kill the laptop, not the teenager. Resentful father shoots his daughter's laptop with a .45 after nasty Facebook posts.

Every parent fantasizes about punishment that truly fits the crime sometimes. Not every parent is gutsy enough to pull it off. But when this man found expletive-laced posts from his teenaged daughter about her parents making her do chores on some little-known forum of friends called "Facebook," he shot down her nasty behavior. Pun fully intended. Watch the cleaned-up, shortened version below.

Do I think this guy's a great father? No. His example alone leaves much to be desired. On the full clip, he is smoking a cigarette before unloading his clip into the offending laptop. Do I commend him for rocking that HP's digital world? Yes.

If a child goes against established rules and uses technology in a way that demeans the entire family on a forum as open and widespread as Facebook, punishment ought to be exacted. Was it extreme? Probably. But in an awesome, back-country hillbilly way. Not only that, but I like that he then used the same social media she was using to call out the problem. It was reciprocal and spread far beyond what her original nastiness could have covered. One of many versions I found has already been viewed more than 21,000,000 times on youtube.com.

Now this would have led to digital mud slinging had he not shot the laptop, but since it's a buried brick now, father gets the last word. More than 21 million times. Would I recommend this behavior to anyone? Nope. But neither would I put up with my child bad-mouthing me on the Internet. Let's just be glad this clip wasn't of him unloading the clip into the offending daughter, instead.

This stands as proof that family issues should be solved within the family. Face to face. No social media interactions, texting, or e-mailing will substitute for that. The substitutes make the offense far more public than it ought to be. Period. Besides, you can forget you love someone when writing a text or reading one. Face-to-face interactions will always go better than those carried out digitally. Reading body language, tone and more just can't be done on a computer or phone. You bet this girl will think real hard about ever getting on Facebook again, much less to shake her parents down. And the father probably has his own regrets about posting his response to youtube. Let's keep family in the family. To kids: don't demean anyone publicly. Especially parents. To parents: By all means shoot the laptop, but keep that between you and your kid. 21,000,000 voyeurs just don't need to know about your discipline issues.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Baby Roundhouse Kick: Sleeping with baby, AKA Chuck Norris Jr.


If you don't get this hilarious illustration from howtobeadad.com, you haven't been a parent very long. Maybe not at all. You probably don't even have parents.

You orphan you.

I laughed so hard when I saw this I almost turned into a puddle of tears. But that's just because it's true. So true, in fact, that I woke up last night to exactly this scenario. The Web site I pulled this from referred to it as akin to sleeping with Chuck Norris. Only tinier. Now I can't get the visual out of my head.

Of course, this is not the only crazy sleep position children achieve. I have awoken to my daughter draped entirely over my face, lying on her stomach. I have awoken to realize I was the fifth person in my bed, and each of the other four had more room than me. I have had feet in my back, in my mouth, between my legs, and more other places than Lever 2000 can keep track of.

But dang are they cute feet.

What's the zaniest position you've seen when sharing your bed with a child?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Apparent Parent around the Web

Below is my most recent article for Modern Mormon Men. It ventures out on a hefty limb to imagine government intervention for restaurateurs. 

http://www.modernmormonmen.com/2012/01/foodicare.html

Also got a hefty mention on Deseret News' bloggernacle column. This marks one of the blog's first major callouts, which I completely didn't expect. Thank you Deseret News for the readership spike!

www.deseretnews.com/blog/33/10012934/Perspectives-on-the-news-Mitt-Romney-hates-the-poor-Careful-Newt.html

HELP! My baby's crawling up the stairs!

 "Your baby probably will start trying to climb stairs soon after she learns to walk. This often happens about 12 months old, but she may take her first steps anytime between 10 and 18 months."

-babycenter.com

Dang you and your inaccurate information, babycenter.com. My baby girl turned 8 months old all of 7 days ago, and I caught her climbing the stairs all the way to mommy and daddy's room today. That's a full HALF of her life off, babycenter. So there.

Better average out your research with my family next time you post something like that as fact. All three of my kids took their first steps between 6 and 7 months old. And the first two were proficient walkers by 9 months.

Our baby started crawling about 3 weeks ago and only recently has figured out that this trick can do more than get her from Toy A to Toy B, sitting only feet apart from one another. Now she follows us around like a miniaturized, 3-dimensional shadow that likes to use our pant legs to stand up. Plus our shadow is cuter than us, and balder than my wife, at least. Now we find her in the kid's bedroom. We find her in the kitchen. We rarely find her where we left her like we might have - ohhhh - three weeks ago.

This makes for some world-class double takes. Today, she was shadowing me into the kitchen when the stairs caught her eye. She peeled off my ankles and started using the broad landing stair to stand up. I thought nothing of it because she often uses anything she can get her hands on to stand up. (By the way, she took her first steps two and a half weeks ago, while still 7 months old.) She seems liberated by the revelation of locomotion. She's happier than she's ever been.

Anyway, I went to check on something in the kitchen and then glanced back to where my shadow had lost me.

I had lost my shadow. It was not in view. The pieces of the puzzle came together in my head: "Baby's crawling up the stairs!" I told my wife urgently and zipped over to confirm my solid hunch. Sure enough, she had already ascended two stairs, happily cooing as she worked on the third. Her major problem was posed by her slippery footy jammies. On our wood stairs, she kept slipping as she tried to kneel on the stair below to attain the stair above.

"If I weren't so dang proud of you," I told my 8-month old, "I'd swat your bottom."

"Vvvvbbbblllllbbnnmm," she hummed at me, crinkling her eyes with glee. I'm glad I caught her when I did. Instead of being a 100% responsible father, I decided on 90% responsible and let her continue up the stairs with me as a spotter, hovering inches away in case of an emergency. On about step number 6, she relinquished her handhold on the steps and stood, unsupported, waving her arms in circular triumph. The longest I've seen her stand without holding anything is about 30 seconds, but with slippery footies on polished wood stairs, I don't trust her as far as she can fall down, ummm...the stairs, I guess. She righted herself and kept on going up the stairs, despite my concern.

The worst incident actually came when she stopped to rest. Since she had been hugging the wall, when she turned to flop on to her bum and take a breather, said bum encountered said wall and she flopped forward onto unsaid face. Unsaid face began to cry. From the kitchen, unsaid Mommy threatened unsaid Daddy's life, assuming he could have done something to prevent it.

In the end she all but summited the staircase. And if she'd been wearing the getup of the child in the picture above, she would have made it look a heck of a lot easier than climbing a 1,000 foot sand dune. Many parents would be chagrined to find such a young'un scaling a staircase. In fact, I know many parents who go out of their way to ensure their babies don't walk until they're two. It would be easier that way, I think. But I love to see such short little legs taking such long strides. The thrill just wouldn't be the same if she were doing this half her life later. Besides, she's just prepping herself for the great outdoorsy life we have planned for her.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Waking up with Pineapple Head


When I came home from work today, my son was sporting a mohawk. I thought it was just one of his more notable bedheads and I ruffled the crazy hair with my hand as I greeted him.

"You got a mohawk, buddy!" I said enthusiastically.

"No, it's pineapple head!" he said with equal and opposite enthusiasm. It took a minute for this to sink in. Wait...this was done on purpose? His mother assured me that he was, indeed, supposed to look like a pineapple.

Hmmm...

It made me wonder why he wanted to self identify with one of nature's funniest-looking fruits. I digress. But I had to agree: he looked a little like a pineapple with big blue eyes and blond fronds sprouting.  We had recently gotten a pineapple, and when he and his mother looked at how to tame his whacked-out hair in the mirror this morning, he made the connection himself and ran with it.

"I look like a pineapple!" he told his mom. "Can you make it in a big wave so I look more like a pineapple?"

And the mother of my children acquiesced to his nutty request, thus making him the fruitiest child in the family. Now I'm OK with dress-up-as-a-pineapple day, but let's just hope this doesn't become habitual. Something that's uber cute once can kind of look different when done 200 days straight. But I'm just glad I got to see the *ahem* fruit of his mom's labors today. It was a day-brightening experience to come home to pineapple head.