The Case of the Missing Fingers

Picture of Tyler and his missing fingers

You see that picture up there? Didja look at his hand? Yeah, keep reading.

There are a number of blogs that I “follow,” or, subscribe to. Most mornings, I visit an online application called Google Reader. It works similar to an email program. When I open it up, it lists all the blogs that I subscribe to, along with the number of unread or updated posts since my last visit. Recently, needled in the nest of thirty or so unread posts was a new post by one of my favorite bloggers. In it, Natui (an anagram of her blog name of Not Afraid To Use It) touches on vaccines. It served as a gentle reminder that we will be starting Tyler’s vaccinations when he turns two.

JUST FOUR MONTHS FROM NOW!

How in the heck has it already been almost two years?! We wake up, we go through our daily routines, we go to sleep. And then, one day, something happens that causes time to smack you in the back of your head. Natui’s vaccine post was the catalyst that caused me to stop and really take stock of how much has taken place and how far we’ve come as a family. I know it’s cliche to say, but time really does fly.

Tyler is learning at a pace that truly astounds me. A couple days ago, at dinner, Sarah couldn’t finish her “take the edge off” drink, so she poured what was left into my glass – effectively turning my “take the edge off” drink into a “Joe’s about to get a slight buzz” drink.

After a moment of processing, Tyler pointed at the glass and said, “Dump.”

We confirmed that, yes, mommy just dumped her drink into daddy’s glass, and followed by explaining “empty” and “full” to Tyler. He grasped it with the two glasses, pointing back and forth while saying “eppy,” and “full”, but struggled a bit when we involved our dinner plates.

But you don’t care about that, right? You want to know about a couple fingers, doncha?

A few weeks ago, I was struck with amazement (and guilt, if I’m being completely honest) at Tyler’s ability to learn. We were reading a book, and the particular page being read had some flowers in the background.

“Onnnnnne, doooooo, freeee,” Tyler said as he pointed to each of the three flowers.

Outwardly: “Yes, Tyler, there are three flowers.” Pointing to each one, I confirmed his count. ” One, two, three.

Inwardly: When the *blaap* did he learn this?!

Although I was proud and amazed at this surprising development, I felt quite a bit of guilt over the matter. See, not only did I not know Tyler could count to three, but I also had absolutely nothing to do with teaching him how to do so. It never even crossed my mind! How can I sit here and hold the belief that I’m a great good dad, and yet have no knowledge of my son’s ability to count to three?! I know, I know. Sarah’s home with Tyler all day, teaching him, playing with him, being a great mom. I get that, but this was just one of those moments that smacked me right in the face.

But wait, it gets better. Tyler could actually count to ten. TEN! Sure, he sometimes skips the numbers 7 and 8, but still, ten. By the way, did you get it yet? Missing digits? Digits… fingers? The Case of the Missing Fingers. Har har har. Well, it’s not as funny when I have to explain it to you folks. Yes, the picture above is a fake. I spent about five minutes to get the pose, and about twenty in Photoshop Elements to get the effect.

Take a couple minutes out of your busy day and watch an adorable video of Tyler counting to ten, sans seven and eight, of course.

Oh, and guess what else? I learned, later that day, that Tyler can actually count to thirteen.

The Inner Voice

Picture of Tyler

I sometimes wonder just how many people have an inner voice that talks to them. All of us? I have one, and I hope I’m not alone. In my younger years, the voice was very feeble and timid. When I became upset with a situation, the voice would whisper, “umm, Joe? Hey, uhh, maybe we should calm down for a second?” Of course, this was akin to spitting into a volcano to lower the temperature of the lava.

Older (sigh) and wiser (ha!) now, I embrace the inner voice. He guides me though some difficult situations and keeps a sense of levelness about. It helps that the inner voice knows how to talk to me and make me listen. When I find anger trying to take hold and tunnel vision setting in, he kicks me off the road that I’m cruising along. “Joe! Dude, you need to chill the f*** out, like right now!

I guess it’s like any long-term relationship. Eventually you just get tired of the other person’s shit and tell them whatever’s on your mind. Inner voice gets tired of my shit a lot.

I’ve been telling myself, every single day, that I really need to write some blogs. And it wasn’t just a need; I want to write some blogs. But it seemed (seems) that there just weren’t (aren’t) any words. Sure, I have a lot of things that I want to write about, but when I put my fingers on the keyboard, they just sit there.

And I’m pretty sure I know why.

I do most of my writing when I’m feeling depressed. Even when I’m writing about fond memories or something funny that happened, I’m usually at least mildly depressed about life. Fortunately for me, and unfortunately for my desire to blog, I’ve been feeling pretty darned good lately. I’ve undertaken a really intense workout program called P90x, which I believe to be the culprit. I certainly don’t know the science behind it, but what I do know is I have some sort of chemical imbalance that results in me going through phases of strong depression. What else I know is that, since I’ve started working out consistently, I’ve felt better than I have in years.

I’m not saying that I’ve been unhappy at home or with Sarah or Tyler or work. I’m not saying that at all, so I hope my general message doesn’t get misconstrued. I’m just saying… well, that’s the problem: I don’t know how to say it. Depression’s a bitch like that.

Well, ol’ inner voice over there (I nod my head slightly to the right) got tired of hearing me lament on my lack of blogging. As I read the latest news on whichever news site I was perusing this very morning, I found myself pausing for a moment to think that I really needed to —

Oh you big baby! Write then! Write something, anything! Just quit complaining.

Like so many other times, inner voice is right. I’m not a world renowned novelist with a case of writer’s block just three books into his seven book contract. I’m some guy, in some small town, that loves sharing his life with all of you.  So, here I am, writing something, anything.

Crap! I intended to write about Tyler’s two missing fingers, but this post went left when it should have gone right. I sometimes feel like a need a GPS for life. Anyway, that will be my next post, I promise. Unless I don’t complete it before Wordless Wednesday. Coming soon: The Case of the Missing Fingers.

A Father’s Guilt Over Imaginary Monkey Poop

Picture of Tyler

Potty training is not, as they sometimes say, “in full swing,” but we’re working on it. We’re at the point that Tyler knows to run his little ass as far away from us as possible when we see that he’s pooping and ask him about it. When asked, he provides no hesitation in telling us that he does not want to use the potty. So, for better or for worse, right or wrong, we’ve resorted to bribery to get Tyler to plant his butt on the potty. Personally, I don’t agree with using candy as a reward, but, well, that’s what we’re doing. Let’s face it, Joe, it’s not always about what you want. It’s a hard realization, and I’m coming to terms with it. All I know for sure is that if we don’t put on a united front, Tyler will conquer us.

When Tyler tries on the potty (a few minutes, at least. None of this sit-down, stand-up, done that he has attempted to pass off as “trying”), he is rewarded with one M&M candy. If he, um, produces results while on the potty, Tyler gets two M&M candies. If you’ve read my previous post, you already know that Tyler tries to convince us that he gets two candies just for trying.

A couple days ago, I was doing dishes in the kitchen, while Sarah slept upstairs, because it was her morning to sleep in. I looked over to Tyler, who had fallen uncharacteristically silent, and saw the tell-tale face. Bulging eyes… Red cheeks… Slightly opened mouth… Stern concentration…

“ARE YOU POOPING?! Let’s go use the potty!”

“NO!”

Tyler turned and ran from the kitchen, shouting, “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO!” He’s a quick little booger, too! I didn’t catch him until he hit the dead-end of the baby gate that led upstairs to the safety of his sleeping mommy.

I picked him up and put his butt to my nose, sniffing. Aww, shit, I thought. I took a moment to both appreciate the irony of that thought, and to wonder when exactly I got to the point of it being second nature to smell my toddler’s butt to check for poop.

I carried Tyler into the bathroom and we talked about where we need to make our pee-pees and poo-poos. He had all the right answers to my inquiries. Upon being asked, he told me he didn’t want to sit on the potty and frankly, I didn’t see the point in making him do so anyway.

“Okay buddy, but you don’t get candy if you don’t try.”

“Ah-ah…. poddy.”

“Do you think Ah-ah needs to use the potty?”

“Yeeeeah.”

We placed Tyler’s monkey on the potty and read a couple books to him. After finishing the second book, Tyler jumped up and yelled, “Candy! Two.” It came out more as “Kaynd! Doo,” but the parental translator that seems to have been implanted in my skull understood perfectly.

I told Tyler that Ah-ah was a good little monkey for making poo-poos in the potty, and would get two M&Ms for doing so.

“Yeeeah,” Tyler yelled while running into the kitchen.

Using slight-of-hand that would never fool the eyes of an adult, I gave Ah-ah two pieces of candy. All the while, Tyler slapped his chest, shouting, “TyTy! TyTy! TyTy! TyTy! TyTy!”

“I’m sorry, Tyler, but you didn’t use the potty. Ah-ah gets candy for using the potty, but not Tyler.”

An immense level of guilt descended and came to rest on my shoulders as I said those words. I’m giving fake candy to a fake monkey for taking a fake dump, and I’m rubbing Tyler’s nose in the fake stink of it.

Recently, I’ve been working with Tyler on faces. He loves making a happy face and a surprised face. Yesterday, we started making a poo-poo face. It’s just as it sounds; we make the face Tyler makes when he’s pooping. a few nights ago, while making poo-poo face for me and Sarah, Tyler peed in the potty! He was so excited (as were we)! Tyler started running in place, clapping his hands and shouting “I DID IT!” and “YAY!”

Then, he suddenly fell silent, looked at Sarah and yelled, “EMM EMM!”

“Yes, Tyler, you get two M&Ms for using the potty!”

All things being said, I’ll call it a success. I still feel guilty about gving Ah-ah candy and shunning Tyler. I’m glad that I didn’t get all hunter/gatherer on Sarah, pound my chest and refuse to hop on the M&M bandwagon with her (yes, I’m eating my words over here. OM NOM NOMNOM). Most of all, I’m hoping this is the last box of diapers we have to buy for Tyler.

Update after writing but before publishing this post:
Tyler has peed in the potty three times, lots of times in his diapers, and twice on the carpet. I don’t know who’s winning, but progress is progress.