Archive for November, 2011

Bad Cop, Bad Cop

In a few years, Janelle and I may be Good Cop, Bad Cop. I’ll probably end up being Bad Cop, because I’ll probably be the loudest yeller if only by virtue of having more lung capacity. But all that will come to pass when Joshua is old enough to get into actual trouble for things he has willfully done wrong. What’s that? You don’t plan to ever yell at your child? You must tell me what it’s like in Narnia.

For now at least, there is no Good Cop. Only Zuul Bad.

Making your baby endure things that he does not want to is just one of those things that you have to do that parenting books don’t cover or prepare you for. So, let me do that now: You will be making your baby do things he does not want to do. There will be tears, and you have to put on your Daddy Pants (from the makers of Mom Jeans) and deal with it. It will be difficult to harden yourself to these scenarios, too, because as your baby ages there will be new and more heartbreaking ways he will protest against your ruthless tyranny.

When Joshua was very young, there would just be crying. As he’s gotten older he’s introduced flailing, arching, rolling, kicking, slapping, yelling, crying “Mommee! Daddee! NOOOOO” and all of the above along with a pleading “All done! All done! All done!” tacked on for good measure. It’s just like every movie you’ve ever seen with orderlies escorting a tortured patient into the high security psych ward. You’ll have to be trying to restrain and guide a little person now singularly focused on defying you and try to prevent him from hurting himself, which will almost certainly guarantee that at some point, you’ll accidentally hurt him.

Janelle and I recently had a rough time of things as over the last few weeks Joshua entered into, at the same time, a period of separation anxiety and a really legendary case of diaper rash. Also working against us; he’s getting smarter, and knows when certain things he dislikes are approaching. Diaper changes became a two-person assault. The crying would begin at the bottom of the stairs and get frantic once the diaper table was reached. He’d fight clothes being removed, he’d fight the diaper being removed, he’d fight his legs being raised in the air, and—because of the diaper rash—he would go ballistic once the diaper wipes touched his skin. It’s heartbreaking to do, but you don’t have a choice to be a softie on things like this as a parent. “Oh, okay, pookie. You can run around with a poop-butt for another couple hours until you fall asleep. It’s okay if the skin on your ass gets so irritated that it cracks and bleeds and we just let poop get all up in those wounds. Have some candy.”

Nope. You have to make that baby cry and get the job done.

Diaper changes are probably the most typical thing that you can expect will be upsetting to your baby. But other popular options will include bath time, bed time and car-seat time. These aren’t things you can avoid. You need to put your baby to bed, you need to clean him, and he will need to leave the house with you from time to time. You will need to make him upset and you will need to get the job done.

This paints a sort of grim picture of parenting when the reality is that these moments are only a very small portion of your day. Add them all up and they’re not going to reach an hour and unless your child is in a very particular phase they probably will seem totally fine almost immediately after the hated action is complete. These moments are just part of what will stick out in your mind because they are action packed. Your heart will race, your hands will be frantically trying to contain your baby and accomplish your task, all to a soundtrack of shrieks.

Thankfully, take solace that your baby doesn’t hold it against you, at least not yet. You may be Bad Cop for diaper change, but you’re also that magic person that knows how to do everything that is the FUNNEST. You play the peek-a-boo, you do the wrestling and the tummy raspberries. You get the food and read the bedtime stories. You light up his face when you enter the room.

So you may be Bad Cop, but it’s just a part-time gig.


Disneyland with a Toddler

Disneyland is not the same experience with a toddler as it is without. It’s not even the same with an older kid.

We hit Disneyland with Joshua last week. He’s a little young, but we had tickets with an expiration date, so we made the trip. Janelle and I are pretty big Disneyland fans, and have a pretty solid routine of rides we want to go on and areas we want to hit and things we like to do. 98% of those items are excluded by the presence of a small child. Here are some observations and notes about our experience.

– If you can go with multiple groups and multiple kids, do it. Joshua’s attention was flagging in the early afternoon, but then we met up with his cousins, each a few years older than him. It was an instant shot of energy for him.

– It may not be as painful as you think. Joshua managed 10 full hours at Disneyland without a single incident (barring an example I’ll cover later on). However, he likes to watch people and does well in a crowd, which means Disneyland lined up with him pretty well. Does your baby hate being in a stroller? Will they immediately get lost in a crowd if given half a chance? Do people make them anxious? Do they dislike loud noises? Maybe you want to rethink your trip then. Think back to times your baby has gotten upset to see how the journey might go.

– Know where you can let a kid run around. Toon Town and the Bug’s Life area in California Adventure are obvious spots. You’re going to be too tired to carry your kid everywhere all the time, and they won’t want to be in a stroller all day long. Being able to plunk a kid down in an area filled with running kids and sitting parents that’s a little fenced off is key.

– Don’t have an agenda. Just don’t. Go where you want, expect to stay as long as your kid will. Don’t be married to any ride because the line may be a deal-breaker. Speaking of, maybe aim for short lines to minimize the sting if you have to leave the line before you get on the ride.

– Avoid Snow White like the plague. Janelle pointed out to me after the fact that it’s actually called “Snow White’s Scary Adventure”, which is the kind of info I wished I had not glossed over. I remembered the ride being scary at the end. What I did not remember is that the ride is only a couple minutes long and about 90% of it is the in dark, and of that 90%, 90% is terrifying. As soon as the wicked Queen turns around and reveals her old woman form with a cackling laugh, Joshua lost it. Immediately he was trying to get out of his seat, calling out “All done! All done!” and trying to hide under Mommy. Sad-larity at its absolute peak.

– Go in the off-season. November is usually pretty ripe. Dodgy weather means people are less likely to show and it’s between their Halloween and Christmas decoration periods.

– FastPass. Use it. But also, combine it with a Parent Swap pass. FastPass lets you reserve a spot in a shortened line at Disneyland. You basically agree to return to the ride during a later, pre-set period of time and then you get to move to an advanced section of the line. With Parent Swap, find a ride attendant (typically whoever is collecting FastPass tickets) and ask for Parent Swap pass. Show them your kid and they’ll give it to you. Then, one parent can wait in line and the other can stay with the child. After the first parent returns, the other can use the Parent Swap pass to jump in as if they had a fast pass. Since you can only have one FastPass out at a time, this is a way to help increase your ride efficiency, and you don’t need to make the kid wait in line to allow both parents the ability to enjoy the ride easily.

– Be wary of characters. Your kid will very likely be scared of them. Before you wait in line to meet anyone, try and find someone walking around and bring your kid close to them. Judge the terror level.

– Come laden with snacks. Grab a ton. A very easy way to stave off an impatient child.

All together, the trip was fun. Though, it was more an outing than it was an adventure in wonder as I think it will be with an older kid who knows Disney characters a bit more. It was way easier than I expected, though.

Please to share tips if you have them as well.