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June 06, 2013

Time is ticking towards the start of our trip out west. I’m told our family is looking forward to having us, though this might be nothing more than a platitude. If they’ve read my blog, then they’re up-to-speed on the boy’s temperament and are hurriedly prepping their panic room.... Y’know, just in case. It’ll be interesting to see how our nephew deals with Owen, who has, in the past, sent kids two and three times his age running from the room, crying in frustration.

For what seems like an eternity, Megan’s been packing, repacking and, when things seemed nearly done, she packed some more. Everything’s place is carefully notarized on a list Megan has crafted, revised and rewritten over the past few months. My wife likes lists. A lot. I can’t prove it, but I suspect she actually has a host of many different lists, each documenting everything we could ever need during our vacation. Meg stopped giving me lists some time ago. I’m not a list sort of a guy. Truthfully, I’m not much of a “let’s do stuff ahead of time” sort of a guy. I think Megan finds that to be my most endearing quality.

Aside from the time I forgot to pack extra socks for a business trip, I’ve done fairly well without to-do lists. My chief downfall is that I tend to forget to put things on the list in the first place, so the usefulness of such notations tends to be somewhat muted as, either way, I wouldn’t have ended up with any extra socks. Nonetheless, this time Meg is almost certainly right. This time, we’re going to have to make sure we bring all the provisions we’ll need to pacify little Chucky (Owen). Seeing as we’re going to be seated/stuck/trapped on a plane for hours, this may well prove to be Megan’s most important list ever.

She and I have discussed (well, she discussed, I listened, mostly during commercials) some of the things we’ll need: two tablets loaded with cartoons and kid-friendly apps, diapers, snacks, changes of clothes, books, toys… These are all well and good, but I think they miss a lot of what we’ll really need on the plane: bungee cords; duct tape; kiddie Gravol; wads of cash to pay off the passengers sitting around us; and, earplugs for everyone else.

Best I can tell though, bungee cords and duct tape are disallowed on the flight deck, and there are some holier-than-thou sorts that would frown upon us drugging our child. And, while I haven’t yet looked into it, I believe there are restrictions on the amount of cash you’re allowed to carry on your person when you travel, likely making cash-for-putting-up-with-Owen payouts infeasible. And, without the cash, randomly handing people earplugs just seems creepy. Thankfully, we aren’t travelling to the U.S. as some of our Yankee friends, particularly air marshals and those in Homeland Security, might actually find all of this “detainable.”

Truthfully, I forget most of the other things Megan has slated for inclusion in our carry-on. I do know that everything she’s put aside is generally meant to placate the boy and mollify everyone else. That, in my view, seems like a lost cause. We’d do just as well politely asking the boy to, “Please sit still.” We could all laugh together when he then ran headlong into the steward’s refreshment cart.

Really, were I to make a carry-on list (a true Wormald-ized list), I would include a host of things meant solely to help make the flight more bearable for Meg and I. To Hell with everyone else. (Clearly, they each did something in a past life to deserve what they’ve got coming; Karma is harsh that way.) My list would include, among other things: alcohol; noise-cancelling headphones; alcohol; blinders, like the ones horses wear, to prevent us from seeing everyone’s nasty glares; alcohol; and, lots of candy. I believe these are all self-explanatory since I really like candy (and alcohol).

Oh, and if society is going to poo-poo us from doping up our child, then it seems only fair then that Megan and I drug ourselves silly instead. The flight will certainly go by much faster and will be far smoother for us if we can simply sleep it off. I can only assume that our trained flight attendants have the wherewithal to mind our frenzied child for a few hours whilst his Mummy and Daddy blissfully cop a few zees. We can make it a communal thing where each passenger helps out for a portion of the trip.

After all, it takes a village, right?

Sadly, Megan’s list would seem to indicate that she’s placing the onus on the two of us to care for our child. She’s so cute. You can tell, though, that she’s really concerned about the flight and the trip. She shouldn’t be. I remembered to pack extra socks.

June 04, 2013

Listening to Owen add word after word to his vocabulary is awe-inspiring. Whether it’s “bear,” or “Elmo,” or “bubble,” it seems he’s coming up with something new every day. Beyond simply learning to annunciate words, he’s also mimicking the expressions he hears around him. While he couldn’t make out any of the words, he can now rhythmically babble along with a couple songs he hears on TV. It’s hilarious! (He really likes the latest Chevrolet commercial with Bruno Mars singling in the background.)

The more you sit back and watch, the more you’re truly astounded by how quickly kids his age are able to develop their speech. That he’s gone from point-zero just months ago to his present ability to say what must be 40+ words is really quite remarkable. He’s not quite ready to start layering words into sentences, but you can tell he’s getting there. Just the other day, for example, Owen farted, stopped dead in his tracks, pointed to his diaper and said, “Uh oh! Poo Poo!”

[Sniff, sniff] That’s my boy.

This, naturally, has put a lot of pressure on Megan and I. Not pressure in the sense that we need to be diligent about teaching him new words, per se, but pressure in that we need to be really really careful now with how much we swear within earshot of the boy.

It’s cute when he mimics a commercial’s jingle; it’s probably less cute were he to mimic any of the off-colour, four-letter words his mummy and daddy cavalierly toss around (mostly his mummy).

I swear, from time to time. Megan swears. A good number of our friends swear. His grandparents even swear a little. Heck, he hears swearing on TV (though, thankfully, we haven’t noticed Caillou tossing any f-bombs; I’m suspicious, though, about what Thomas the Train and his train buddies must say about Sir Topenhat when the camera isn’t rolling).

For all the swearing that goes on throughout most levels of society, people seem to get pretty uppity when they hear a toddler cuss. I have a hard time believing that most of Owen’s daycare minders don’t swear. I mean, c’mon, I don’t care how maternal his teachers are, if Owen were to drop an iron on their toe, I’m willing to bet dollar for dollar that, “Golly gee! That’s going to leave a mark,” wouldn’t be the first thing we’d hear. Yet, were Owen to utter one obscenity to a fellow toddler, or were he to hurl one slur at any of his teachers, he’d be turfed from daycare and Meg and I would be forced to wear some expletive-laced badge of shame. (A blue “S,” of sorts.)

Society, it seems, cloaks itself in righteousness when it comes to toddler-expressed profanity. Which is complete bullsh*t! (I’m allowed to write that, at least for a couple more years, since Owen can’t yet read.) Show me a playground and I’ll show you a couple hundred kids swearing. Undertake a close examination of school-aged kids and you’ll soon understand that swearing is firmly engrained in the human condition. It’s in our DNA. Frankly, those that don’t swear are more like gazelles and wildebeest — they’re primarily there to be sworn at by the lions.

This isn’t to suggest that I think Owen, or any toddler for that matter, should be allowed to say whatever they want. I for one, wouldn't be impressed if Owen tossed his dinner at me and said, “I ain’t eating this @#%@ pasta, Daddy!” Instead, all I’m suggesting is that, were the boy to drop a little blue language into his every-day discourse, his parents (mainly me) shouldn’t be held any more responsible than we would if the boy, say, ran the aisles uncontrollably on an airplane, or tirelessly shrieked at the top of lungs in an enclosed space (like an airplane).

Not convinced? #@$%, ok, ok... I’ll try to rein in my @#$%ing swearing.

June 02, 2013

When he was but a wee little lump, Owen had a form of television-ADD. He had just enough attention to keep still and watch TV for, maybe, ten minutes. After that, he’d get squirrelly and look to do something else. Those precious ten minutes, however, were wonderful and would be just enough to let you vacuum; make lunch; darn a sock; or, sometimes, stare blankly at the wall, remembering what life was like when a ten-minute break wasn’t the highlight of your waking day.

Megan and I made a pact early on, likely when the boy was still in the womb, that we’d strictly monitor how much television we allowed Owen to watch. It seemed like a good idea, and it certainly sounded really parent-y when we discussed it. We felt that it would be far better to encourage the boy to read or play with his toys, anything really that would both help expand his imagination and help limit the amount of TV he’d seek to consume.

So much for the best laid plans. A note to would-be parents: You’ll tell yourself that you’re going to do all sorts of things when it comes to rearing your kid. Don’t be hard on yourself later when you don’t follow through. It’s not your fault. There’ll be too many other things that you’ll have no choice but to accept the blame for. Blame these other things on hippies and society….

Owen loves television now. Actually, he loves anything that’ll dispense TV shows to him: TVs, tablets, desktop computers, laptops, smart phones… He’s good with whatever you’ve got. Some might say that it’s our fault that he’s gotten to this point as we didn’t hold firm to our plan when he was an infant. Now that Owen’s a toddler, and likely already too cunning for us, it’s too late. Damn hippies. I blame society.

At any rate, I probably recognized our plan to limit his TV time wasn’t going well when Owen first started playing with the remote control. While it was around this point that I should have been stronger, the sight of my baby holding a remote was just so darned cute… [Head bowed in shame] I rarely took it away from him. At that point, it was probably too late as, by five- or six-months-old, he began to show signs that he conceptually understood what the remote was for and would began pressing buttons to change the channel and turn the TV off. Disconcertingly, he seemed to relish Mummy and Daddy scowling at him when he would flip the channel away from the climax of the show we’d been watching for nearly an hour and on to an infomericial for some celebrity’s face cream — “Damn it, Owen. Now we’ll never know whodunit!”

In hindsight, it’s quite remarkable how quickly he transitioned from mindlessly screaming at the Toopy and Binoo theme song to knowing how to use the Blackberry Playbook to access Fireman Sam episodes on YouTube. And to top it all off, television has since become the greatest source of friction between the boy and us — even more than when he hucks his food on the floor and laughs. He constantly wants to watch cartoons and we are constantly trying to limit how much he watches.

But here’s the tricky part for Megan and I. Owen, for those of you that have read my posts previously, has a smidge of energy. By that, I mean he’s got some sort of cold fusion thing going on in there. He simply doesn’t keep still. It’s to such a point where, if he hears a song that he likes, he’ll spin himself in circles until he falls over. Meg and I call this his “Dizzy Dance.” We simply can’t keep up with someone that is willing to expend that much energy dancing to a commercial’s jingle.

And that’s where TV comes into play. It has much the same effect on the boy as does, say, Ritalin. It keeps him dopey long enough for us to cook dinner, go to the bathroom, or (as I alluded to earlier) stare at the walls.

The “calm” is nothing more than a pyrrhic victory, though. Like all drugs, and like all addicts, soon the regular “hit” doesn’t “do it” anymore. Soon, you need a little more, and a little more often. Soon, ten minutes, a couple times a day, becomes a few hours. And, like all addicts looking to score, they get cranky and irritable when they “come down.” Owen and I had a test of wills the other morning. He wanted the tablet — he was getting the shakes — and I wouldn’t give it to him. He threw himself to the ground and had a temper tantrum. After 20 minutes of tears and howls, he misheard me say, “You don’t need another show,” and thought I instead said, “You need another show.” He looked euphoric, and ran to his chair, pointed to the television and snarled defiantly, “More Daddy! More!”

The boy needs help. Fireman Sam is a gateway show. After ten minutes of Sam, he’ll next demand a half hour of Calliou. That will then lead to a time where he’ll he spend his days watching reality TV, Springer, and countless hours of mind-numbing SunTV.

I’m losing all grip over my son. He needs some sort of toddler rehab. I wonder if Dr. Phil will ever do an episode on this?