Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Daddy Knows Best - Part the Second

We're back this week with Part Two of David's daddy-tastic wisdom!

Last week, I talked about the realization that came to me once I stopped continually correcting my husband on his handling of our child.

What I discovered was that not only did my husband NOT need my constant guidance, as I had imagined, BUT even more surprising, once I actually started to let him parent on his own - I had a thing or two to learn from the guy.

Last week I talked about learning...


...and this week, the hits just keep on coming!


When the Snood was first born, I must confess, I devoted a lot of time and effort to attempting to show David THE RIGHT WAY to parent, which just so happened to be my way. In my defense, it appears that this belief in my own superior parenting skills is one I share with approximately 97 percent of women everywhere (I'm talking to you, lady at Target, who screamed 'That baby needs some juice!' at me when the Snood started coughing in Aisle 23 last week.)

My certainty in this parental infallability was what drove my constant supervision of David in those early days, convinced as I was that




As it turned out (perhaps you should now take a moment to prepare for the shocking nature of the following statement) some of my theories were not 100% on point. Once I stopped consta-correcting my husband I was forced to recognize that, in fact, there might be more that one correct way to do things when it came to Snoodie. It also became apparent that David could actually figure out his own style of parenting that was, insane as this may seem, just as valid as my own!

Don't believe me? Just look at the evidence!

Amazingly thought this may seem - those times when David took the baby out without a blanket and Snoodie began to fuss because he was too cold.....David was able to figure out how to come back home and get a blanket! And it helped him learn to bring a blanket the next time, JUST IN CASE!

Need more proof?

Well, it ALSO turns out that even thought I knew EXACTLY the way the baby liked to be held, with a little nag-free time my husband was able to figure out his own way to hold the baby - that also worked!

Yes, my fellow mommies, I come before you today with this most startling of revelations. It would appear based on a whole host of evidence that there IS more than one acceptable way to parent a child!!!

(a David-ish lesson that I feel wish I could have mastered earlier)

From time to time, as a mom, I have a tendency to get myself a little crazy:




Inevitably, David puts on his calmest, "Easy now, craz-o" voice and says, "You know, I bet that's not that big a deal."

The new rule in our house is that mommy is not allowed to stress about any Snood-related issue that hasn't been a problem for at least a week. Looking back, I realize I spend way too much time running to parenting advice books, deeply concerned over some weird sleep hiccup, strange eating phase, or bizarre screeching event that I was determined to solve, only to find that within a week said behavior had disappeared entirely.

David, on the other hand, seemed to grasp the changing nature of babyhood immediately and stepped up to a much needed role - the voice of reason. Every home should have one.

All of which brings us to our final, and perhaps most important lesson!


OK, let's be clear - this is not so much a lesson that David taught me than it is a lesson I arrived at on my own and imposed upon our household with an iron fist. None of which makes it any less valid.

The fact that my husband is capable of ignoring a plate of half-eaten pizza, moldering on the end table by the couch for days on end, led me to conclude that his personal grossness threshold was higher than my own, and thus he should be in charge of wrestling the dreaded "genie poop snake" out to the curbside cans.

Of all the lessons I've shared today, fellow mommies, I think you'll agree that this may be the greatest of them all.

Daddy Knows Best - Part the First

When the Snood was first born my husband, David, hadn't been around a baby for approximately two decades (since back when his youngest sister was an infant) so some serious rust had built up on any burping, swaddling, diaper changing, and assorted infant-related knowledge he might have possessed. He was, for all intents and purposes, starting from scratch and he made me....a little nervous.

One day, when Snoodie was about six weeks old, my best friend was over. As we sat catching up I kept one careful eye on my husband - making helpful suggestions as he and Snoodie got ready for a trip to the corner store.

"Watch his head when you pick him up!"

"Where's his hat? He needs a hat!"

"Remember - make sure the cars are really stopped before you push him out into the crosswalk!"

"People can look at him in the store but DON'T LET THEM TOUCH HIM!!"

David nodded with a smile as he closed the door on the last of my fleeting admonishments. As soon as he was gone, my friend turned to me and said:

"I bet if you gave him the chance, he could figure out a lot of this himself."

*lightbulb moment*

Turns out she was right! From that moment on, I made a concerted effort to squash any instinct to "help" when David was taking care of the Snood. He would occasionally ask a question, or share some realization like...

"Wow, you really need to cover up that kid's penis when you change him, huh?"

..but, for the most part he just took the reigns and went for it.

Not only that, but once I stopped giving him instructions, I noticed that not only was my husband not in need of constant supervision, but he actually had a thing or two to teach me about being a parent.

The first of these lessons is presented below, in a series entitled: "What I've Learned From Snoodie's Dad."


I have a tendency, when confronted with an opposing force, to dig in my heels and fight. This approach sometimes serves me just fine, but unfortunately, I found that it was highly incompatible with motherhood. Whenever I "took a stand" against Snoodie, I found that it only served to make both of us miserable. But then, one day when Snoodie was about 2-months-old, I was watching David on a car ride home with him -- AND I LEARNED SOMETHING!

You see, when Snoodie was little, this is how he would react to a car ride of any duration:

(actual baby Snood in his actual car seat)

As a result, one of us would take turns riding in the back with him, attempting to soothe him for the duration of the trip. On the night in question, it was David's turn in the back, and I listened in as he spoke to our shrieking son patiently:

"OK, buddy...let's try to stop screaming now, OK?... why don't you take your pacifier and just calm down... that's right, boy-o, let's try to quit crying now... it's gonna be OK, little guy..."

The only effect this had was to drive Snood into more pronounced fits of hysteria, but still David kept at it.

"OK, pal, it's going to be alright, I just want you to try to settle down a little bit buddy..."

After 10 minutes with no change in Snoodie's hysterics, David let out a frustrated sigh, which I assumed meant that he had simply given up. BUT NO! After a moment, he started talking again, in the same unerringly patient tone:

"That's right, buddy, you just let it out. Go ahead and express yourself. You just cry if that's what you need. Good job, buddy. You are doing great at letting us know how you feel."

From my perch upfront I started laughing so hard at my hubby's profound awesomeness that I almost drove us off the road. I understood, in that instant, that David had unearthed one of the true secrets of the happy parent -- and that is that sometimes the only correct possible response to one's child is to adjust your own perspective.

It took my M.I.T. trained husband to show me that, when it came to car rides, our inconsolable infant was not a variable, but a constant, and so the only possible solution was to redefine the equation.

Now, when the Snood is throwing food, instead of getting angry, I pull the food out of reach. When he fusses about bedtime, I explain that while I get, on some basic level, that he's not a fan of the idea, it is still what's best for him so he'll just have to deal. It's a lesson that just keeps on giving, feel free to use it yourself! I'll tell David you said thanks.

STAY TUNED next week for Part Two of the barely taped trove of wisdom that is my husband! "Daddy Knows Best - Part the Second" coming to a blog near you on March 3, 2010!

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Will of One's Own

According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "free will" is defined as

a philosophical term of art for a particular sort of capacity of rational agents to choose a course of action from among various alternatives.

I am currently defining "free will" as

a particularly irritating stage of early childhood development which becomes overwhelmingly problematic around the 16th month of life.

I'm telling you folks, he's no longer as short and barely qualifies as fat - but these days, the Dictator is really coming into his own.
Gone are the days when my sweet little baby Snoodie could be propped, much like a lovable potato, in his infant swing and left to stare contentedly at a mobile while I cooked a meal or, perhaps, indulged in a "Real Housewives" marathon, salty snacks in hand.

Gone, too, are the only marginally less blissful days when a leisurely dinner could be enjoyed while the crawling Snood remained happily contained behind a well-placed baby gate.

Nowadays the Snood is a one-man walking, squawking, free-will machine. His morning peeps, which used to gently alert us to the fact that he was awake, have been replaced by demanding shrieks and a rattling of the crib bars so severe that we occasionally find the entire apparatus has moved by several inches by the time we manage to scramble out of bed to collect him.

Then, there's mealtime.

Snoodie's contented devouring of whatever mushed up goo we saw fit to spoon into his compliant maw has also gone the way of the Dodo. Now that he's realized he is the master of his culinary destiny, his demands are relentless.

He's learned the sign for "HUNGRY" but, sadly, not the sign for "Thanks, mom, for making me such a nice lunch - but I think I'll eschew the broccoli at present." Instead, he expresses his displeasure with my culinary efforts by tossing them in the general direction of my head.

But all of this is nothing when compared to the walking.

Oh, the walking! While I fully accept, on the one hand, that you are an essential part of the growing process, on the other hand - BITE ME THE WALKING!

Snoodie LOVES to walk. Each morning we begin with the following exchange

Mommy: Good morning, Snoodie Butt! Did you have a good sleep?
Snoodie: (in baby sign language) HUNGRY! HUNGRY! HUNGRY!
Mommy: OK! OK! I'll get you something to eat.
Snoodie: (signing) HUNGRY! HUNGRY! HUNGRY!

*Brief interlude for the frantic feeding of the Snood.*

Mommy: Are you enjoying your breakfast, Snoodie Bear?

So, I let him down from his high-chair and then frantically search for my keys, as Snoodie bangs on the front door like a refugee from Attica. We eventually make it outside and walk around the neighborhood, wherever the Snoodie may lead. We stop to see the guys at the Smog Check place next door, irritate several neighborhood dogs and generally have a ball. UNTIL - - -Snoodie does something, like, let's say for example, attempting to open the front door of one of the neighboring houses and wander inside, and I have to tell him, "NO."

And then......IT IS ON!

Snoodie flings himself to the pavement and cries out in a heartbroken wail:


Concerned neighbors gather at their windows, wondering whether or not to dial Child Protective Services, as I smile and weakly wave towards them while trying to gather the furious Snood in my arms and slink away towards home.

When we finally arrive back at the house I shut the door and inevitably look up to see El Snoodo standing anxiously at the door of the kitchen:


Basically, the kid's got me on my toes. He's making the choices these days and it's all I can do to keep my feet underneath me and attempt to meet his incessant demands in a timely manner.

I comfort myself with the fact that a brand new Dictator arrives in May, and I get to start all over again with those blissful days before he or she will have any will of his or her own.

I'm planning to enjoy every minute of it.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Old Bear New Bear That's Not Blue Bear...

Like a pair of none-too intrepid zoologists, David and spent much of last week attempting to introduce our TWO newly purchased Blue Bears into the Snood's natural habitat.

The replicates

For those of you who might have fallen behind in our saga, as of our last visit to this topic, David and I had jumped through a series of SNAFU-laden hoops in order to procure two duplicate versions of Snoodie's beloved lovey, "Blue Bear". Our goal, as we chose to accept it, was to get Snoodie to fall for the 'replicate' bears, thus establishing their role as 'backup loveys' should some unforeseen tragedy befall Blue Bear the First.

The original Blue Bear has been with Snoodie since birth, but he's only been heavily relied upon (and thus heavily chewed, barfed and generally gooped upon) for the past six months or so. He's showing signs of wear, but we estimated that he was not so worn-in that our new bears couldn't catch up, as long as we could move them into the rotation with all deliberate speed.

We had concerns right off the bat - understanding, as we did, that this would be a delicate operation. There was no room for mistakes. Much like a set of organs being prepped for transplant, we know that any irregularities in our replicate bears could cause them to be rejected by the host.

Our first step was to line up all three bears for inspection.

From Left to Right: Original Blue Bear, Blue Bear #2 and Blue Bear #3

Right away we noticed that there was something seriously amiss with Blue Bear #3.

While his tag read "Mr. Beeps 15-inch" (as did the tags of his two fellow bears), he clearly was not a match. His blue fur was at least twice as voluminous as that of Blue Bear #1. The dude was SUPER fuzzy.

Please note extreme fuzziness of Blue Bear #3, at right

David and I agreed that Snoodie was sure to sniff out this fake from a mile out, so we opted to consign Blue Bear #3 to the "regift" pile, fingers crossed that we would have better luck with Blue Bear #2...

Blue Bear the First, Blue Bear the Second

...who we were thrilled to discover was a nearly identical match!

I mean, sure, he was a wee bit cleaner that the original and his fur was a wee bit, well...furrier, but David and I felt sure he was close enough to fool the Snood.

We placed our duplicate strategically before creeping up to our Snood and asking his favorite question,

"Hey? Where's Blue Bear?"

Snoodie's eyes lit up and he immediately leapt to his feet. The search was on! As he turned the corner into the living room, there was Blue Bear #2, lying face-down on the floor.

Snoodie pointed towards him in delight, rushing forward. As he got closer and bent to pick him up, David and I stared in delight when we saw the tell-tale sign that the imposter was being accepted - - - he placed his thumb firmly in his mouth!! His go-to Blue Bear greeting! David and I high-fived in delight as our kiddo collected Blue Bear #2 in his arms and hugged him tight!

...but our elation was short lived.

After that brief and loving embrace, Snoodie's face suddenly fell. He looked from me to David, held Blue Bear #2 out in front of his face and made the following sound,


before dropping faux Blue Bear distainfully on the floor.

He stared us down with an expression that seemed to say,

"Really, guys? You expected me to fall for that? What do you two dopes take me for exactly?"

Then he placed his hands on his hips and stood staring at us until I reluctantly headed for the hall closet, unearthed the hidden Blue Bear #1, and handed him to Snood in defeat.

So it is that I come before you today to announce that Operation Replicate Blue Bear has proved a resounding failure. My attempts to avoid the fate of so many parents before me, who have struggled through lost and decaying loveys, were in vain.

Oh, and also to let you know that if any of you are in the market for a 15-inch Blue Mr. Beeps I have one at a super-discount price (now available in regular and extra fuzzy).

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Simple Question

Folks, I have a few simple questions for you:

Do you enjoy the blog www.shortfatdictator.com?

Would you go so far as to say that www.shortfatdictator.com is one of the best mommy blogs in the history of the universe?

What have you done for www.shortfatdictator.com lately?

If you took the time to answer any of the above questions, then surely you are a person with enough spare time on your hands to follow the below link and vote for Short Fat Dictator as a "Best Mommy Blog".

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

HELPFUL HINT: Click on "Alphabetical" to sort and the blog is listed on page 10.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Story and a Lesson

Thanks to the faithful readers of www.shortfatdictator.com, we now have two spankin' new Blue Bears that are a perfect perfect shade of..............BLUE!

This means that Operation Replicate Blue Bear is officially a go. Expect a full report on our newcomers' integration into Snoodie's habitat in the coming weeks!

This week we move on to a story of a grotesque and biological nature. Now, I feel it is important to acknowledge that back at the start of the blog I promised that I would make some attempt to limit the number of entries that revolved around my baby's poop.

The problem with this, to be honest, is that when you have a child, the sheer number of poop-based incidents in one's life increases exponentially - making it a challenge to avoid the subject entirely. All I can promise is that I'll try to keep my description of the "incident" brief and to the point, and fear not(!) once you make it through the part with the poop, I make it all worthwhile by including a HELPFUL LESSON at the end!

Last Tuesday, Snoodie and I had spent a delightful morning at music class - getting our Kookaberra on, shaking our eggs, and generally engaging in musical merriment of all kinds. By the time we got home, Snoodie was completely wiped out, so we headed straight for nap time. Because it was a little warm in the house, I tossed him into his crib in just a t-shirt and diaper, sure in my knowledge that we were in for a rockin' afternoon nap.

I was incorrect.

For some reason, Snoodie started squawking after barely an hour of down time. Finding myself deeply engrossed in a Tivoed episode of "The Bachelor: On the Wings of Love" (TEAM ALLIE!), I opted to ignore the squawks, convinced that Snoodie would eventually fall back asleep.

I was incorrect.

Shortly before the last one-on-one date, I conceded that all hope was lost (both for Snoodie's nap and the dignity of the Bachelorettes) and I went to collect the Snood...

...only to discover that instead of falling back into the sweet release of sleep, Snoodie had opted instead to remove his t-shirt, take off his diaper, poop in his crib, and then fling said poop about the room in the manner of a caged orangutang.

So, instead of spending a relaxing afternoon with my feet up indulging in questionable reality television diversions, I spent that time doing laundry (including yet another trip through the machines for the intrepid Blue Bear #1), scrubbing the floor, and hosing down a poopy Snood.
*end of poop tale - beginning of helpful lesson*


The fact your child has never removed his diaper before is NOT a reliable indicator of the fact that said child does not know how to remove said diaper.