Within minutes of walking through the door from Rhode Island, I watched in amazement as my two-year-old daughter pulled up her shirt and attempted to breastfeed one of her dolls. Right then, I knew my life was about to become crazier than ever.
For those unfamiliar, I was training with the military in Rhode Island from January to late March. Naval Justice School involved me waking up at 9am on Saturdays, popping leftover pizza in the microwave, and watching college hoops all weekend. IT WAS BASICALLY SLAVERY!!!
Meanwhile, Jackie was home caring for our newborn son, as well as herding our toddlers 24/7. I’m sure you’re probably wondering what she, as a temporarily single stay-at-home mom, was doing all day…
Transitioning from the bachelor lifestyle in Rhode Island back to a father of three at home was about as brutal for me as, well, an episode of The Bachelor. For instance, recently I introduced baby Brody to the bottle for the first time. This experience began with me assuring my wife that “it’s cool, I got this” and ended with me screaming “JACKIE! THIS ISNT WORKING!!!” ***
*** These days everyone seems to have a shirt that says “Keep Calm.” Well, I want a shirt for occasions like this that says “MAYBE I DON’T WANT TO KEEP CALM!!!”
To make matters worse, Brody already has to deal with all that comes with being the youngest of three. Indeed, Riley loves smothering him with open-mouth kisses, and Jimmy just loves smothering him. Thankfully, he only cries when (a) he’s hungry, (b) he’s gassy, or (c) he sees Jimmy coming.
And while Brody may not communicate often, his older brother sure does…
First off, if Jimmy hears anything outside, he points to the sky and assures me it’s an “air-pane” (although half the time it’s actually our neighbor’s lawnmower). When I get up with Jimmy early in the morning, he will continually ask for “Wiley” until she wakes up. And finally, he thinks “no” is the proper answer to every question asked. Watch:
Me: “Can I change your diaper?” Jimmy: “No!”
Me: “You wanna go to bed?” Jimmy: “No!”
Nothing abnormal so far, but wait…
Me: “You want ice cream?” Jimmy: “No!”
Me: “You want chocolate cake?” Jimmy: “No!”
Clearly he has no idea what he’s missing…
As for “Wiley,” well, she calls her mom “Jackie” (we’re working on this…), and her crib is something you would see on the show Hoarders. She loves Greek yogurt more than John Stamos, and she eats her Oreos cream first – the way we do it in America!
Furthermore, let me just say I can only read “The Nose Book” to Riley so many times before it DRIVES. ME. CRAZY! Fortunately, I have a solution called the “Three Reads Rule.” It goes like this: I will read any book she wants three times, and then I will physically throw that book as far as I can across the room. If Riley goes and gets it (which she usually does), then I will read it another three times. Every now and then, though, she finds something else to do… and it’s glorious.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention bath time. See, you would think that because I am now a Naval Officer, I would have some ability to control my little sailors while they’re in the water. But you would be dead wrong. Despite my orders not to do so, those kids genuinely love drinking bath water – especially when it’s flavored with bubbles. Indeed, they wait until they think I’m not looking, and then they chug. Come to think of it, they drink like Sailors!
And now for a few words in remembrance of my last phone. See, our kids love phones, and there are ample toddler-friendly apps for smartphones that tend to make dinnertime much more enjoyable. However, this all comes at a steep cost. Indeed, last week the date on my phone was June 3, 1981, and shortly thereafter it died forever. So, if you want to know the kind of wear-and-tear two curious toddlers will put on your smartphone, then simply drop it in the nearest toilet bowl for an hour and see how it goes.
PS: on a related note, if I haven’t talked to you in years but randomly “like” your Facebook post about how “awful” Verizon’s customer service is, then odds are it was Riley messing with my new phone. Besides, I have far more insulting things to say about Verizon.
Anyway. We recently celebrated Jimmy and Riley’s second birthday – two years old! When Jackie was pregnant, experienced parents would encourage us to “enjoy every moment” because it’s over “before you know it.” And although I certainly do not “enjoy every moment” of fatherhood, I try to make myself aware of those special moments that are bigger than they originally seem…
The other night Riley was crying in her crib for a solid hour and a half, refusing to sleep. So, I reluctantly marched up to her room and sang Mr. Big’s “To Be With You” until she fell asleep in my arms. For about 30 minutes, I sat on the rocking chair and thought about how much more incredible Jackie and my journey has been since these kids came along for the ride. This is how parenting apparently works – constant chaos sprinkled with the occasional realization that you would have it no other way.
I’m thankful God has given me a gassy-but-happy baby, a daughter that loves “The Nose Book,” and a son that thinks your lawnmower is an “air-pane.”
So grab a glass of bath water and let’s toast to a crazy month with Brody, Jimmy… and “Wiley” too. Cheers!
***In Loving Memory of Jim’s Droid (2011-2013)***