Daddy Diary – Not All Superheroes Wear Capes – Sometimes It’s Just Mismatched Pajamas & Crew Socks From Target

Nervously, I sat silently at the breakfast nook table awaiting an answer from my daughter. Ava was the Star Student of the Week, and the theme for this month was being a superhero. She was supplied with a poster with various blank sections that required fun, personal information about herself. There were sections that required a list of fun hobbies, an imaginary superpower, and the names of people in her super team (family members). There was also a section reserved for the identity of who was a superhero to her. I sat with her filling out each section. Finally, we arrived at the section that required the identity of her own superhero. And so, I asked the question and anxiously sat on the edge of my seat waiting for an answer. In popular culture, the role of the father is sometimes boiled down to an unaware nincompoop that faints at the first sign of a soiled diaper, is inept at preparing a decent meal, and is devoid of emotional intelligence that is essential for raising children.

Fortunately, young children are not well-versed in popular culture. They won’t succumb to the whims of societal pressure. So as I waited for Ava’s answer, I was hoping for some unbiased truth that wouldn’t sting too bad. Her choices were plentiful: Moana, Doc McStuffins, or any member of the PJ Masks super squad. Selfishly, I was hoping I would make the cut. To my relief, Ava revealed that my wife and I were her superheroes. As a parent, especially being a father, one only wishes that the job you perform as a parent is recognized on some level. To be loved, respected, and appreciated by your children is the greatest reward anyone can dare to hope. Through her lens, we were granted superhero status, and I felt joyous inside. So, I began to ponder what superpowers did I inherit after becoming a parent. I was able to readily identify five super-parent abilities. If you are a parent, you are probably familiar with the list below very well.

Super-parent Abilities

Intuition

  • I knew that my daughter wanted to be Moana for Halloween before she ever told me. So when I inquired about her preferred costume for Halloween, she confirmed that my assumption was indeed correct. Fully equipped and tailored with the Heart of Te Fiti pendant, Hei Hei the chicken, her magical oar, a Moana wig, and an authentic dress from Motunui (well, Target that is); she won the best overall costume for her age group. Parental “spidey senses” are quite useful when your entire world revolves around anticipating your kid’s wants and needs. And it is especially helpful when identifying potential danger around every corner. Case in point: Miles loves to be the “line leader” when entering school. However, he isn’t tall enough to be seen through the glass window by anyone on the opposite side of the door. On this particular day, he dashed to the door before me, and seconds later I spotted another gentleman about to open the door from the other side. Instinctively, I outstretched my arm (36/37 dress sleeve’s worth) to prevent the door from swinging open, thus “saving” Miles as noted by Ava on the poster above. Funny, without coaxing an answer from her, she was able to remember this incident from months ago.

The Power of Persuasion

  • When I first became a supervisor, one of my directors called me into her office to perform an exercise that I believe would provide insight regarding my character and thought process. She asked what would my superpower be if I was a superhero. Inspired by a series I was watching at the time – Jessica Jones season 1 – I believe I surprised her by referencing a little known villain by the name of Zebediah Killgrave. Killgrave’s mutant abilities included but were not limited to mind control and master manipulation. I admit this was a curious selection on my behalf, and my director’s facial response said as much. Why would I choose a villain with seemingly evil superpowers? Because, when utilized with principled and honest intent, the power of persuasion can be a valuable tool when interacting with a toddler. My communication skills are best described as thoughtfully measured, honest, reassuring, and transparent. In my profession, these traits are quite useful when speaking with colleagues, hospital staff, sales representatives, and vendors. Oh – and toddlers. Whether extracting splinters, administering breathing treatments for the first time with a scary mask, or persuading a child to trust you with a hairdryer as you quick-dry nail polish; establishing comfort and trust is essential as a parent.

Reflexes & Speed

    • I am blessed and thankful that neither of my children has experienced some kind of severe calamity in their early childhood. Nonetheless, that is not to say that I’ve been immune to close calls. As I mentioned before, especially with children, there is potential danger around every corner. And while it is always good to anticipate unforeseen peril; properly reacting to said peril is paramount. Now, one doesn’t need to be exposed to gamma rays or bitten by a radioactive spider to be endowed with uncanny strength, speed, or reflexes. Fear and adrenaline will work wonders. One such time involved a mental lapse on my behalf. One afternoon, I was taking Ava for a walk through the neighborhood. As I turned to close the garage door, I failed to engage the brake on the stroller. When I refocused my attention to the stroller, it had begun its descent down the driveway. Now, I may not possess superhuman speed like Quicksilver or Flash, but this big guy performed his best Usain Bolt impression and raced down the driveway to safely secure the runaway stroller. Calamity averted.

Hearing

  • As a parent, trust me, your ears will become perfectly synchronized with your child’s sound, both frequency and decibel level. You will also be able to detect the absence of sound. Sometimes it can be too, too quiet. How sharp will your hearing become? One night after putting the children down for bedtime, I retired to the family room to enjoy a few television shows. Faintly, over the volume of the television, I could hear my son crying out. With super-parent speed, I vaulted up the stairs to my son’s bedroom and discovered he was having a nightmare. I retrieved him from his bed, draped him over my shoulder, and soothed him back to sleep. Another circumstance found me pulling into my driveway after a day at work. As I exited my car to grab some groceries from my trunk, the sound of a distraught little girl caught my attention. Instantly, my brain began to decipher whether the child was mine and what direction the wails were being emitted from. Grocery bags and all, I ran to the backyard and found my little girl in distress over the presence of a bumblebee. We had to move dinner inside.

Invulnerability (not really)

  • After my wife and I closed on our house, we soon discovered a beehive inside a basement wall. My mother-in-law lived a few blocks away, so Stephanie was at her house tending to a newborn Ava. As I was at the house attempting to pinpoint where and how bees were filtering into our basement, I was summarily stung in the face. As I staggered to my mother-in-law’s house to put some ice on my cheek, I found Stephanie with an inconsolable child that she was unable to lay down for sleep. Swollen, burning cheek and all, I took possession of Ava, turned on Kenny G’s Greatest Hits, and cradled her to sleep on a nearby couch. No, my skin is not impenetrable, but I suppose it heals rapidly and is somewhat pain resistant – that bee sting hurt!

For more of my adventures, check out entries from my Daddy Diary for your reading enjoyment.

Daddy Diary – Beyond Dirty Diapers: 5 Things Every New Parent Will Loathe That They Were Never Warned About

Now, before I bear the entire brunt of the Internet parenting community, I wholeheartedly agree that becoming a parent can be a wondrous joy. Nevertheless, I would not be honest if I did not admit some aspects of being a parent that is quite a pain. Sure, you are bound to encounter that one parent that extols the sheer happiness and bliss of having children. And don’t get me wrong, in many situations, this is absolutely correct. However, as new parents will soon realize, there are some facets to parenthood that we unconditionally detest. Dislike. Hate. Loathe. Now, for the purpose of this post, I am going to exclude the usual suspects: changing diapers, lack of sleep, etc. Because, being a parent or not, who would love cleaning up feces 8 times per day on 4 hours of sleep? And Lord, for our first child, my wife wanted to use cloth diapers. That novelty was jettisoned out the window by the time our second child arrived. Soaking, scrubbing, and washing cloth diapers with OxiClean and a toothbrush did not lead to a happy disposition. I confess this particular pain point was self-inflicted insanity. However, parents-to-be, I am warning you. There are certain situations that you may not be able to avoid, and you may be caught with your guard down. I am here to provide a heads-up.

Daycare/School Tuition

  • My 5-year-old daughter can explain how a bat uses echolocation for flight navigation. My 3-year-old son knows his vowels and understands what doleful means. My daughter and son both can name all of the continents. There are science projects. There are spelling tests. Therefore, I cannot complain too much about my children’s schooling. Nevertheless, the cost of quality education can be financially debilitating for many parents. It is not unusual for one parent to take a temporary hiatus from work, stay home with the little ones, and forego the need for daycare or early education programs entirely. Seriously, the cost of daycare might as well be a second mortgage and car note. And if a school is closed for any reason, you may find yourself scrambling for child coverage, or you may have to forego work for the day. So you may miss a day’s pay and still have to pay for that day of schooling – double whammy! Trust, investing in your children’s future by providing quality education is one of the biggest responsibilities that a parent will undertake. Nonetheless, be forewarned, it is going to hurt.

Parental Title

    • Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Hey Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Hey Daddy. Hey Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Daddy. Hey Daddy. When your child is an infant, you eagerly await to hear those magic words that indicate a verbal form of parental recognition. Hearing mommy or daddy for the first time is a milestone that every parent anxiously anticipates. However, when your child starts to seriously form thoughts and sentences, brace yourself for a torrent of inquisitive inquiries and miscellaneous proclamations – all prefaced with mommy or daddy. Let me tell you, forget waterboarding as an enhanced interrogation technique, play a voice recording of a kid repeating daddy or mommy on a continuous loop, and watch your subject snitch out the entire organization and identify intended targets. You can add sleep deprivation for good measure. We hate that too remember.

Car Seats

  • Trust me, the installation will never be as easy as the instructions or video will illustrate. Simply put, properly installing a car seat will be a pain in your back. Squeezing into a backseat to engage in a life and death struggle to safely install a car seat is no fun. Ask any parent, once that car seat is properly installed, you never want to remove it again. EVER. However, you will not be so lucky. One night, my wife came home late with one of the kids and I was greeted with the task of cleaning up vomit from the car seat. So late into the night, I had to remove the entire car seat, remove the upholstery, wash it, dry it, put the upholstery back on, and then reinstall that bad boy. Keep that instruction manual close – you are going to need it.

Be a Referee

  • My children can have the same color bowl with the exact amount of popcorn in each, and they will still find a way to bicker over who gets what bowl. If you have more than one child, prepare for the incessant arguing and bickering over the most meaningless subjects. Lord have mercy.

Daylight Saving Time

  • Every autumn, you perhaps eagerly anticipate the time when you get to enjoy an extra hour of sleep. If your state observes Daylight Saving Time, you know what I am referring to. But guess what? If you have a little one, your child’s body has no idea the time has shifted back an hour, or the time has shifted forward in the spring for that matter. So if your child’s wake up time is 7 a.m., be prepared to be stirred from your slumber at 6 a.m. And conversely, if you’ve jumped forward an hour, prepare to drag your kid out of their bed from a dead sleep. The solution for “falling back”: adjust your child’s bedtime 15 minutes later each progressive week (up to an hour) leading up to Daylight Saving. The reverse should be done in the spring and adjust bedtime 15 minutes earlier. I was lucky with my second child, as Daylight Saving does not appear (3+ years and counting) to have affected his sleep schedule.
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