10 Ways I’m Trying to Parent Differently in 2018

I don’t believe in resolutions, because resolving involves a lot of pressure and commitment. But I believe that I ought to do certain things, so I’ll give them a try.  Below are some of my New Year’s “I Oughtas” for 2018.

  1. Laugh More. My daughter is 2 ½ and she’s wonderful. But she’s also an emotionally volatile, sociopathic Chaos Muppet. I need to spend more time enjoying her development into a human being and less time getting annoyed because I’m not getting MY way — no matter how just or correct my way may be.
  2. Laugh Less. Emotionally volatile, sociopathic Chaos Muppets thrive on attention and the last thing I should be doing is encouraging her with the wrong kind. So when my daughter does something I find hilarious, like gently and politely offering to help each slice of carrot escape her bowl of soup, only to shovel them mercilessly into her mouth and devour them, which is a thing that really happened, I should keep my amusement to myself. This dovetails neatly with:
  3. Keep the Child from Always Being the Center of Attention. This one has been harder than I anticipated. Our daughter is, so far, our only child and she’s by far the most interesting thing that’s ever happened to my wife or me … and I think she’s on the verge of figuring that out. So I think I ought to make it clearer that I’m also interested in things that aren’t her. I might have to fake it for a while.
  4. Read More Books. My wife and I were once voracious readers; after our daughter was born, my wife downgraded to an avid reader and I dropped several notches to “occasional reader but voracious Twitter-feed follower.” This has done me no good emotionally or intellectually and the pile of unread books on my bedside table is probably about to die of ennui. If I read more, I’ll feel more accomplished, I’ll feel more relaxed, and, who knows, I might even learn something. My parents have always been big readers and I think it was good for me; hopefully that will carry over to the next generation.
  5. Run More. Along the lines of No. 3, this is something that will cut stress and help me relax. This fall, I started jogging regularly and ultimately ran (ran, I say!) a pair of 5K races. This may not sound like much, since I have friends and relatives who run triathlons and marathons, but it was a major upgrade from my usual distance of 0K. Seeing my wife and daughter waiting for me at the finish of the first race was an amazing feeling and I really felt like the baddest dude in the town for a few minutes. So, more running in 2018. Good for the body, good for the soul, good for the daughter to see her old man get off the couch.
  6. Potty Train. Not me, personally, but the child. We’ve been putting it off because 2017 was a busy year: We bought and moved into our first house, our daughter started a new daycare, we got a new car, there was that eclipse, my in-laws visited for a month, Game of Thrones came back, I needed a haircut, our new couch looked so nice without stains on it. There were just so many reasons to kick it down the road. But now, I’m ready: The sticker chart has been made, the stickers have been purchased, the stain-remover is close at hand. Bring. It. On.
  7. Do More Laundry and Cooking. There is ostensibly an equal division of labor in our house, as I suspect there is in most houses. But, as I suspect is the case in most houses, my wife does more of the heavy lifting in these departments and probably others, too. I oughta change that.
  8. Limit Screen Time. The eternal struggle; we’ve been getting a little lax about this around the holidays. But my daughter has discovered Pixar movies and the original “101 Dalmatians” and they’re pretty hard for my wife and me to resist (Those are SUCH GOOD dogs!). But in 2018, more storybooks, more puzzles, more coloring, more building forts. Starting as soon as we finish “The Incredibles.”
  9. Vocal Warm-Ups Before Playing Dinosaur. These days, I am frequently instructed to “be a dinosaur,” which I accomplish by pulling my arms close to my chest, baring my teeth and stomping around the basement in pursuit of my giggling offspring. But the amount of roaring she demands can be tough on the throat, so some pre-game warm-ups are a must. And the biggest one:
  10. More Dad/Daughter One-on-One Time. Since it’s just the three of us, our family often moves as a unit. But one of the most pleasant times I’ve had with my daughter lately was when she came with me to run a couple of errands while my wife ran some of her own. We hit the stores, then split a pizza bagel at a shop in Towson. We talked about what we saw and what we would do for Christmas and about the other people in the shop and we ate our pizza bagel and it was just … nice. That shouldn’t surprise me, I suppose, but there it was. I look at pictures from our daughter’s first two years and I already feel like I’m forgetting what it was like when she was smaller, a feeling that really snuck up on me. So this year, I oughta take more time to stop and smell the pizza bagels.

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