A Child’s First Teacher

My daughter Sofia, as some of you already know, is 8 months old. Soon to be 9. I’d say she’s your typical baby, but I’d be lying because there is no such thing! Truth is though, she’s amazing and developing her own personality everyday. She’s being raised bi-lingual, so I–and the rest of my family speak to her in English, whereas my wife and her’s speak to her in Spanish (upcoming post!). What that means is that even though she is beginning to understand what we’re saying, she has trouble communicating it vocally because the words aren’t all there. Which is typical when children are raised bi-lingual.

Now, I talk to my daughter like she’s a grown woman. I don’t split my sentences, I don’t use easy words when their not necessary and I definitely don’t use baby-talk! So a couple of weeks ago, when we laid on the bed and she started crawling to the edge, I didn’t say, “No, no, Sofia, nooOOooo, come here.” in a high, playful tone. I spoke to her like she’s a grown woman. I said, “Sofia, what are you doing? Now you know if you get too close to the edge you’re going to fall and hurt yourself right?” And then I wait for a response like she’s really going to answer me! I know you’re wondering if I let her fall–I do! Don’t worry though, it’s all pre-meditated, I put blankets and pillows on the floor and the drop is only about 1foot and 6inches with all the padding–it’s far enough so she gets the scare of falling, but not far enough so that she would ever get hurt. Before you call child services, just know that it only took 4 times of her doing that to know falling is not fun! So now she either wakes me up by slapping me in my face, or if I’m in the living room while she wakes up, she makes a little squeal and sits and waits for me to come get her.

My point is that I figure the words will come later, so I’m teaching her to go off of my TONE instead of what I’m actually saying–and it’s working. She knows when I’m upset, she knows when I’m serious and she knows when it’s play time. Pediatricians will tell you, that by the age of 2 a child should say 25 words. Please allow me to publicly state that if your child only says 25 words by age 2, you have to pick up the slack. My daughter is 8 months, learning two languages at the same time and can still manage to say mama, and papa. Heck, most children between now and their first year will say: mama, dada, hi, bye, and no. Don’t worry if your child can’t say those specifically, chances are they will substitute any of those for: baba, ouch, dog, or ball.

What I’m getting at is that parent’s–as you’ve read from my above example, the methods we use to teach our children may be unorthodox but in a society that is replacing cursive with typing, typing with texting, and spell-check with auto-correct, the worst thing we can do is inhibit a child’s speech. I talk to my daughter the way I do because I fall short on reading to her. I told myself over and over that I would read to her everyday and have yet to fulfill that promise longer than a day or so. With that said though, I am just biding my time. Parents–great parents, know where they fall short, know that they’re not perfect and that there’s always work to be done, that’s what makes us great parents…complacency is never an option–not when it comes to our children’s future.

As always, stay happy, stay healthy, and if you let your child fall of the bed, don’t say you got it from me! Stay blessed!

Yours Truly,

-1modestman

Mortal Kombat Baby!

The more I thought about it, the more I realized: My 8 month old daughter is Scorpion, from Mortal Kombat!

It’s been a while since I’ve played the video game “Mortal Kombat”, but I recently watched the movie and instantly found myself reenacting my 8-year-old self!  I love how just after you watch a martial arts movie you think in your head “Man, I wish somebody would try and start some stuff right now! I’d give them a big Woo-Paaaaah!” and at the same time your hands are slicing through the air.  Like somehow, visual osmosis has become a real thing.

After the movie I begin my day by doing back flips and somersaults around the dirty clothes and dishes.  My reasoning is that I’m so powerful, that to combat such a weak opponent would be an insult to my strength. After that, I do nothing.  I wait and listen, my head is throwing around words like chakra, meditation, and animality.  Then all of a sudden, my concentration breaks.  My ears perk as I hear the shout of a worthy opponent, a formidable foe appears to have awaken from their slumber.

The shout becomes louder.  By the time I realize it, it’s too late!  Like a fisherman, my opponent has cast out their line, only to hook and reel me in like a Sunday Salmon.  The shout has transformed into a war-cry, and I prepare myself for battle. Familiarity raises its head, I have encountered this foe many times and know the dangers that lie ahead of me.  The cry becomes louder still. As I make contact with my opponent, an uneasy silence comes upon us both.  During this time I reminisce on the movie I watched earlier and it dawned upon me: the shout, the anger, the power, and the resilience.  The more I think about it, the more I realize, my 8 month old daughter is Scorpion from Mortal Kombat!  I quickly turned to gather my weapons: A powerful anti-bacterial fiber (ABF) to erase my foes acidic attacks, and a temporary container to prevent her barrage of attacks in the future.

Her war-cry begins once again, but this time I don’t hear the shrill, instead, I am caught in her reel as the words “Get over heeeere!” bring me in closer.  It appears as though my last container has already weakened, I quickly remove it only to find that it has been corroded with toxins.  I play the offensive and try to use my ABF to rid my enemy of any attacks, but I’m too late.  After a quick set of swift kicks, Scorpion unleashes her secret weapon: The bowel bomb!  Legend has it that Scorpion developed this attack to defeat Satan himself!  The legend continues by saying that since its arrival, few have ever survived.

She begins this process by lubricating herself with a lukewarm, but highly acidic substance that only she is immune to.  With skill and reflex on my side, I quickly use my ABF to prevent any flow of the substance to reach my body.  A decoy!  How could I be so stupid!  I knew I was in trouble by the smile on her face.  With all of my might used to block her acidic flow, Scorpion excreted a dark gel-like material to incinerate the flesh of my fingertips.  The malicious odor from the gel, coupled with my own distraught and weariness, left me dazed and disoriented.  As I stood there, swaying in my final moments, a voice rang throughout the lands, “FINISH HIM!” I knew the end was near.

“No!” I shouted, I shook off my dizziness, used my ABF (and multiple back ups) to remove the acidic spray and excreted gel.  I had gone berserk with a flurry of swipes and scrapes.  I repositioned myself to throw Scorpion off guard as I made sure to remove all bacteria and acid.  Once finished, it was time for me to add the container.  Though she fought back with kicks, I could tell she was giving up, admitting defeat.  My last container did not last as quickly as I hoped so I opted for one with specific hatred removal properties: Luvs.

I positioned the container, attached the locks and looked Scorpion in the eye.  Through miraculous effort and determination, I– a lowly  father, had won once again.

My celebration was short-lived as I heard a knock on the door. I went to answer

it, passing by not only dirty clothes and dishes, but now the destruction from my previous battle.  When I opened it, my stomach dropped.  The figure first looked at me with a smile, but then, after taking a few steps in they panned their attention left and right and it transitioned into a piercing glare.  That’s when I realized that the person who came in was not who I was expecting. It was Goro–the four-armed man from the first Mortal Kombat.  My wife was back from work.

The Cons of Fatherhood

As with most of my posts, I’ll begin with a preface.  I want to make clear that I always like to end on a high note, and in this TWO part post, I’m saving the pros for last.

I remember a time when my wife and I could just go to a bar and stay up as late as we could.  Spending money frivolously on items that we didn’t need, or even using credit cards to spend money we didn’t really have.  It seemed like a weekly routine: Go to work Monday-Friday, and spend the money you just made on the weekends.  Groceries consisted of whatever we wanted to make/order, whether it be shrimp, steak, or takeout.  Being newly weds at the time, our sex life was nothing short of amazing, no matter the time of day or night we knew we could be intimate with one another.  Those we’re the days, and I loved every minute of it.

I always wanted a child.  We just passed our first year of marriage when the relatives brought on the usual barrage of questions: “So when am I going to get a grand-daughter?”, “Is there anything in the oven yet?”, or my favorite “If I remember right, your wife’s dress was more beige than white…were you already working on a niece for me?”  The onslaught continued until one day we got the good news… we were expecting!

Fast forward 17 months and that brings us to where we are today.  I now have a gorgeous wife and a beautiful daughter.  My life has changed indefinably and I couldn’t feel more complete.  Now that my daughter is 8 months old, I have had time to reflect on how my life has changed since having her.  I wish I could say that it all has been sunshine and rainbows, but it hasn’t.  There’s a side that is only ever spoken of at bachelor pads and wherever there is a negative pregnancy test:  The downside of having a child.

I’ll start with the biggest and most obvious.  I won’t spend a lot of time on it because everyone already knows what it is: Sex Life.  Consider it gone! Between work, late nights, breastfeeding, stress, hormone changes and family wanting to see the baby, the mere idea of sex is a rarity, let alone an action.  Don’t get me wrong, it happens, but to a woman your needs have now become second priority–as they should be.  I plan to touch on this later, but a good book to read is called “40 beads” by Carolyn Evans.

The next one is money.  Even if you have planned for a baby the cost can be cumbersome.  My wife and I both wanted a baby, we had a 3 month difference in when we wanted to have it.  We were ready emotionally and spiritually…just not financially.  Reality hit us hard.  For the first 2 months we were borrowing from friends and family, struggling to get diapers and wipes, all while I picked up overtime and another job–it was tough.  It wasn’t until we started making a budget that we realized that we had the money to pay bills and get the things taken care of but we hadn’t changed our life style.  We were still eating shrimp and steak and ordering takeout!  We started making a list and grocery shopping.  I believe it was at that point that it hit me, “I’m a dad!”.  I know my reaction time isn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t until I made those sacrifices that I made the transition from a consumer to a provider.  It’s something I reflect and pride myself on to this day.

The last one I wanted to bring up doesn’t get a lot of hype, but I feel it’s important to discuss: Monotony.  That’s right, being a parent–at least a first time parent is boring.  “How can it be boring” you might ask.  Simple.  I love dogs, so much that I convinced myself that a milestone to being a great parent is to successfully raise a dog.  After all, you teach a dog, play with a dog, and discipline a dog.  Same thing right–wrong.  The theory fails when you realize that all 3 of the aforementioned tasks can be completed in a matter of weeks.  Puppies learn faster than babies, that’s just the way it is.  So it begins that each and everyday, you go to work, come home, help out with the house and spend time with you child.  Every day.  The same thing.  And everyday your child is doing the same thing, or at least, the progress happens so slow that you don’t notice it.  Believe me when I say I love my daughter more than anything, I’ve read many books on parenting and fatherhood (6 to be exact) and they make it seem like one day they’re wobbling their head, and the next they’re talking back to you in the check out line.  Unfortunately it’s not as progressive as flipping pages in a book.  My daughter was 8 months before she started crawling.  That means for 8 months I went to work, came home, helped out with the house, and watched as my daughter couldn’t move anywhere.  Before reading on, please take a moment to imagine that process if you’re not already familiar with it: For 8 months we sat her on the floor, put toys in front of her, gave her time and energy, only to see the fruits of our labor  over half a year later.

The beautiful thing is when that day finally comes it’s miraculous!

As my wife would say, “Así es la vida!”–Tha’ts life.  From the obvious, to the taboo.  Parenting can be an amazing journey, so long as you remember knowledge and preparation are key.  I hope you follow along as next time I flip the coin and discuss the pros of being a parent–specifically a father!