Boy Wonder has shown me so many big emotions on his tiny face. I’ve seen him at his happiest, his loudest, silliest, crankiest, and even his hungriest. That last one is my favorite because at each and every feeding he makes this gasping sound, like a man drinking water for the first time after emerging from the desert. I swear we feed him regularly. But for my kid, each time sounds like the first time he’s ever eaten.
When his eyebrows lift and his pupils grow big and round, I know that something has caught his attention. Maybe he’s figuring out a new toy or maybe the cat has just wandered by. I call this his curious face. Sitting back and watching him discover something for the first times is one of my favorite new activities. It’s actually more entertaining than Netflix.
There is one exception, however, and that is when he wakes up as soon as I get home from work at two in the morning. I know when I see those eyes pop open and his mouth curls into a grin, I’ve just been drafted for an hour of hardcore playtime, at minimum.
Of course, I can always tell when playtime is over because suddenly nothing is right and everything makes him cry. His favorite books make him whine. No toy can help cheer him up. Even his precious Duck binky sends him into fits of rage. At this point, I know he’s either hungry or sleepy. So, I start bartending, whip him up a little ‘mother’s milk’ in a sippy cup, and hope for the best. Usually he falls asleep a couple minutes after he’s guzzled it down. **IncrediTip = A quick diaper change before that tasty beverage almost always guarantees a longer visit to the Fortress of Napitude.**
I could have reacted differently to the three examples above. Believe me, sometimes I’m tempted too. Is there any IncrediParent out there who isn’t? Sometimes, I’m in a hurry and I think, “He’s got his whole life to figure out how to use a spoon. He’s getting a bottle today and he can tell his therapist about it when he’s older.” It’s also nearly impossible to keep my eyes open when I get home from work, let alone join in playtime. But when I can, I will. Maybe someday, I’ll convince him that napping is a really fun game. Of all the things he could have inherited from me, it had to be a hatred of naps. It’s in these moments that I’ve had to find something inside myself that I never knew existed – Patience.
Some people like to say that their kid is like a sponge who just soaks everything up. I think Boy Wonder is more like a radio, picking up all the feelings and emotions that are being broadcast around him. I guess that makes Bex and I the radio tower. We’re constantly sending out a signal that he receives, even when we don’t think he’s listening. Now, I have to decide what kind of radio signal I want to broadcast. I don’t want to be an all oldies all the time type of guy. First of all, that’s too much like my dad. Second, living in the past isn’t me, I love progress and learning new things. That being said, I’m not a Top Ten Hits type of guy either. New is great. We need fresh ideas to keep moving forward. But new doesn’t always mean good. So there has to be a happy medium there. I like to think of myself like NPR. I’m a mishmash of cultures, current events, history, and an eclectic taste in music.
Whatever signal I broadcast, I try to stay as enthusiastic, positive, and, yes, patient, as I possibly can. (As they’re reading this, Bex and my mom are having a really good laugh at that last sentence because patience has never been something I’m known for.) It’s a good mirror to hold up to myself because believe it or not, I’m a role model now. He’s looking at this derpy goofball to teach him how to process all those big emotions we see on his little face.
So how about you IncrediParents? What kind of radio signal have you been broadcasting to your kids? Are they listening? Are you sure they’re not? I’d love to hear from you. So please put your stories in the comments below!