Category Archives: partnering


Divide and Survive

Now my wife has a neck out of sorts to add to my lack of voice. Though it is slowly returning, we are a fine pair with two kids who need to get out and about to burn off that ever-present energy. Saturday, we divided the task in order to just survive the day. I took the morning shift from wake-up to when I couldn’t stay awake anymore, my wife took the rest of the morning, and then she took my daughter off to participate in a brain research study while I took my son to a friend’s party. All in all, we made it to the end of the day alive, but we are both worn out.

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Day Trader

Sunday and Monday, my wife and I swapped doing work and caring for the kids. Sunday was my day of childcare. I got them going in the morning, and managed to get out the door with them a bit after 9:00. We headed over to the Harvard Natural History Museum partly because it was raining, partly because it is free on Sunday mornings, and partly because I love the collections of animals and minerals. It’s just a cool place to hang out. We spent several hours there looking at fossils, stuffed animals, and videos about the changes in animal classification that have come about through DNA sequencing. The last bit probably went over the heads of the kids, though they were the ones who wanted to watch the video and stuck with it all of the way through. I wonder what they took away from that. It is not hard to know what they took away from the rest of it as animal names and parts of the experience kept popping up for the rest of the day.

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Reset Not-It

I had a full day at work book ended by very hot bike rides. My wife had a full day of taking care of the kids. She is a champion for getting dinner ready, and I stepped in when she got a call. I was almost passed out on the couch. We skipped bathing the kids because we were both worn out. When they started chattering away, I lost out (though I didn’t try very hard) on the reset the kids not-it game. Turns out, my son needed a change, so it was good I went up.

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Tagging in and out

This week was supposed to be fun, but so far it has had a broken AC unit in 90s heat and a totally destroyed tire in the middle of the same heat. I managed both incidents, but the stress, heat, and worry about the AC unit breaking again really made the week so far not too fun. I also had a lingering job that went totally sideways come back to me in the midst of all of this, and the people in charge of it have their knickers in a huge twist. By Tuesday night, I needed a breather, and I am so relieved that I have  a wonderful partner who could pick up the pieces after two full days of intense training and just give me the space to clear my head and get started on this other job that needs doing by the end of the week.

I am so thankful for my wife. And then we watched some episodes of Buffy together, and I am ready to get back up and face the world tomorrow.

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Monday, my daughter pushed on some boundaries that she has been testing more and more recently. She avoided the truth, known as telling lies, a couple of times to get what she wanted. When confronted with the truth, she then used the strategy that she has been becoming accustomed to–she completely wigs out and makes it about how unhappy she is. My wife and I are both tired of this routine and did not bend, so she had some consequences.

On the ride home from school, my daughter stated that she was tired and wanted the sofa bed pulled out so she could sleep on it during her quiet time. Earlier in the day, she had wanted to play on the bed, so I asked her if it was in fact her tiredness or that she wanted to play. She told me it was because she was tired. I let her know that if she was tired, we would put her in pajamas, turn out the lights, and not play music. She gave a non-answer and then tried to get my wife to agree to pull out the bed for her. I called her on the story and on trying to get a different answer from the two of us. It turned out that she did not want to sleep but just to play on the bed.

After a pretty exhausting day with the two kids, I was trying to wash up some dishes so that my daughter and I could have a fun project together of making banana bread. She had been eager to do this for a while, so I combined the idea with teacher appreciation which I messed up and missed. Nothing says appreciation like chocolate chip banana bread muffins made by your student, right? As I was washing old, egg-crusted dishes, I saw her lean over my son and whisper in his ear. Instantly his gentle one-finger-per-hand piano playing turned into full fisted hammering on the keyboard, and my daughter started laughing. We have regularly worked with both children to not do this for many reasons including damage to the piano, disturbance to our downstairs neighbors, and further liquidificaiton of our brains. I sent her upstairs. I then went up and yelled a bit. That will have consequences of its own. I brought her back down, removed the piano for the time being, and talked through the situation with her. Banana bread project was off for the night (though I had to do it as the bananas would not wait).

My wife and I are working on gathering out wits together and starting a new phase in our parenting. My daughter is driving us there as she continues to push these boundaries that seem extremely daunting. Avoiding the truth and leading her brother into choices that she knows are not ok are very worrisome. How we deal with it will have consequences for the whole family.

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The Midnight Oil

My wife is in the process of applying for a graduate program for next year. Friday was the deadline, but it got extended through the weekend. Each night we have worked into the wee hours together to help refine her thoughts about the essays she is writing, and our collaboration is so smooth.

Early on in our relationship and marriage, it was not like this. The vulnerability of sharing writing and ideas was wrapped up in so many other issues, and the work was either extremely difficult or avoided. I own a lion’s share of the difficulty in these processes, and my wife owns a lion’s share of the work it has taken to get to the point where we can both share something for the other to look at and give feedback on. This is a priceless gift amongst the many she has given me.

We all have the challenges our parents handed us, and I know I have saddled my kids with plenty. I also know that I gained many great positives from my parents and that I will also give my own kids strengths and values that they will cherish. I am very happy that they can see, in my wife and my interactions, the work it takes to maintain the ability to collaborate as well as the act of collaboration. I hope this lands in their toolbox.

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It’s Academic, My Dear Watson

What is academic are both my wife’s and my schedule. This means that we have parts of the summer to be with our children, but it also means that right now is one of the craziest times of the year. Because we are both part time, the demands of the end of year scheduling at schools becomes challenging. There are days normally off that become mandatory and conflict with the other schedule. Add to that our daughter’s school schedule, and it is a merry dance through the days of early June.

Graduations, conferences, projects, and more all clamor for our attention; and in the midst of it there are our children. How I respond to them in the midst of this chaos is important. I can’t just pretend that it is not there; instead, I need to let go of great swathes of it and focus on calmly doing my best with the rest.

We’ll see how that goes.

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It’s Not Fair, It’s Two Fairs!

Today, because of tomorrow’s busy schedule, was our unofficial Mother’s Day. I got up with the kids to give my wife a sleep in which lasted until almost 10:30 when I had to go to my daughter’s school to do my job selling stuff during the school fair.

Before that, shortly after my kids were stirring, the school across the street started setting up their fair. Yup, two fairs in one day. My daughter was glued to the window as they inflated two play structures right in front of our house. I got my son down for his nap before the music started blasting, and he continued his nap after I left.

My wife showed up with the kids at the end of my job, and we hung out at the fair for a while. However, the early morning and crowd of people finally wore me out, and I headed home with my son, who was also showing signs of needing some quiet.

Well, that is where our friendly neighborhood school fair really came into play. I got my son in bed, and shortly after someone grabbed the mike to shout about prizes and dropping prices of sale items. The blaring music seemed not to bother my son, but this woman, I think it is the same one each year, cut through his beginning nap and got him fussing.

I think I forget how difficult the afternoon is after the fair ends. Each year, we have had quite a disastrous aafternoon napping experience. One year they even had the speakers pointed right at our house instead of at the crowd. When I asked them to point them elsewhere, they tried to argue that the sound was better bounding off of my house. Needless to say, I insisted that being targeted by a sonic weapon was not the idea of neighborliness.

After we but the kids to bed, my wife and I are heading out to see a play/musical. Hope that is fair recognition of Mother’s Day.

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A Tale of Two Siblings

This morning, far too early, my son awoke, and I brought him downstairs before he could rouse his sister. After feeding him and changing his diaper, I crashed out on the couch as he happily toddled around the living room, dining room, and kitchen. Every now and then, he would return, lay his head on my shoulder or cheek, and then return to the various entertainments he had devised. For quite a while now, my son has had the behavior of putting his head in one’s lap, arms, neck, or tummy. It is amazingly endearing, and coupled with quiet chatter of pre-language toddlerhood, it wins my heart instantly.

Recently, he has begun to pick small pieces of debris off the floor and bring them to me. I remember when my daughter went through a stage of doing this. We eventually trained her to take them straight to the garbage. Given the current state of cleanliness in our house, my son could pick these pieces up all day long, and there would still be more to gather. He seems to find pleasure in the ability to use his fingers for such fine motor control. I have no idea why he and his sister gravitated toward this particular behavior, but it is relatively funny. With her, we worried that it was a compulsive thing, but it eventually faded out.

On the other side of the spectrum of cute today, my daughter did finally wake up and make her way down stairs. Grumpy from the beginning, she worked hard to press every button: yelling when talking close by, grabbing my son and pulling on him, using, “I want,” at the beginning of every request, and more. The consequences for these behaviors sent her into pouting fits of punching pillows and grunting in frustration. I decided to get them out of the house and ran an errand. During the walk outside, she was fine, but instantly returned to these behavior choices at home. Not wanting to suffer more of it, I tried to get them to the park down the street. My son walked all the way there! She scooted along on her balance bike. Once there, however, it was just more of the same until I had enough. We returned home with her screaming and crying down the block. Nothing like a park full of moms looking at the dad whose kid is screaming her head off.

I fortunately handed the kids off to my wife as this was a rare Thursday I had to be at school in the afternoon. I returned to pretty much the same situation. Upon returning home, I heard the results of my daughter having pulled hard on my son. My wife got my daughter out of the house, and my son played contentedly around me. After dinner, I just didn’t have the strength for what is already often a challenging bath routine, especially because my wife had to leave. Solo was just not happening tonight, so I just put their pajamas on, sang the songs, closed the door.

Today was not the best of times, though my son really was a shining light. It was not the worst of times, either. We have certainly had rougher. It was just a bit tiring. I hope the consistent response to this bout of negative behavior will help reinforce the boundaries we continue to help establish.

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Partnering by Letting Go

 I don’t know if I have said it explicitly here yet, but my wife is an amazing parent and partner in this adventure of raising children.

Early on in the infancy of our first child, I worried that our time with the newborn was not balanced and would lead to an unbalanced relationship. I worried more when my daughter attached to her mom far more than to me for a period. There are still elements of that in her behavior, but I have grown some in my reaction to that. 

I know that my relationship with both children is strong, that it is unique, and that I will be special to each of them in many ways. One of the best things I did and continue to work on is letting go the feeling of being second or lesser.

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