Posts Tagged ‘fathering’

Mommy’s boy

by Kojo Baffoe a man, a father, a son, a brother, a husband, a friend, a poet, a writer on a quest to make sense of this reality, with words. Author of Evolutionary

From the time Kweku was born, I was the one who would generally wake up in the middle of the night to feed him. He was born quite big and, from day one, was on a breast-bottle combo diet. He would have bottle at night and that was my responsibility, so I spent many a night with him awake. When we moved him from our bed to his cot, he slept on my side of the bed so when he woke up, I was closest, and would wake up. In those early days, he seemed to be more about Daddy although there were times when only Mommy could calm him down, as it should be.

We spent many an afternoon with him lying on my chest snoozing while I watched football. We would chill watching music videos or dancing around the room to music, which he loves. He loves the car so we would go on daddy-son drives, the soundtrack varied, depending on the mood and the intention. Bath and bedtime has also always been our time. We are collecting Dr Seuss books and each night would end with my reading him a ‘stoly’ to sleep. It was daddy-time all the time.

This lasted till around his second birthday. The shift was gradual. One of those things that creeps up on you and, before you know it, the universe as you know it has changed. The whole world has become about mommy. Sometimes he just walks around the house repeating ‘mommy’ like a scratched record (for the old school out there). When he wakes up in the middle of the night and comes to our room, he goes to mommy’s side. When he wants to go for a drive, it is in mommy’s car that he wants to ride. Bath. Food. Water. TV. Play. Everything needs mommy to be there. As he starts to speak more, he also verbalises a lot clearer. I am told, at least 10 times a day, that I should call mommy to come help him. He generally doesn’t want me to participate in most things, unless mommy isn’t around.

It has been unbalancing. To go from the centre of your child’s universe to the fringes can be confusing. I have read the various writings and went through an ‘inner child’ workshop that unpacked the various phases we go through as child, and know that things will swing back my way eventually. That doesn’t make it any easier.

We still have our moments and our time together but I am learning to gradually accept that, right now, my son is a mommy’s boy. I am still daddy. That will never change. There will be times when he wants daddy to fix things, but mommy is his guardian angel. This too will never change.

Child management 101

by Paul Jacobson. Dad. Husband. Lawyer. Geek. Blogger. Evangelist. Maven. He blogs at Paul Jacobson and Web. Tech. Law

Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a manual that actually worked? The older our little one gets the more I realise that I am grasping in the dark for a way to persuade him to do some of the things I want him to do (bathing, eating a meal, lying still so I can change a full nappy/diaper, that sort of thing).

What I have learned is that he is stubborn, determined and doesn’t respond well to me getting angry. On that note, me getting angry with him just shows who the real child is and it isn’t our 2 year old!

I keep thinking there must be a way to communicate better with him and persuade him to do some of the things we want him to do. A previous girlfriend is a teacher and she often told me that kids crave structure, whether they know it or not, and they tend to thrive when they have a constructive structure to work with (ok, I read in the last bit). I just don’t know how to do that, do you?

I’m starting to see negative effects of me getting angry with him when he doesn’t listen to me. It seems like he gets a little more withdrawn and that really worries me a lot. He wants to be picked up a lot and that suggests insecurity to me. That also bothers me, a lot!

So what works? What lessons have other parents learned? If anything, I am starting to see that my own anger is just an expression of my frustration with a number of factors in my life and that really isn’t fair on our son. There must be a better way.

Loving books with kids

kojo baffoeby Kojo Baffoe a man, a father, a son, a brother, a husband, a friend, a poet, a writer on a quest to make sense of this reality, with words. Author of Evolutionary.

I love reading. I don’t get to do it as much, but I still love the feel of a book. Every now and then I still find books that, once picked up, cannot be put down. Books that have you sitting, during the witching hour, repeating the mantra, “one more chapter and then I sleep, one more chapter and then I sleep.”

This probably comes from living in a home where the garage was converted into a study just to house my father’s books, covering a myriad of subjects. I would spend hours in there, looking for something to read. I went through phases, hanging out in the school library reading everything from Agatha Christie to Louis L’amour.

While I have always bought books, it is only in the last couple of years that I have been able to start to build a decent library. So, you can imagine my hope when it comes to Kweku, my son. I started doing the alphabet with him at two weeks and still do nearly every night. Same thing with counting, which he can comfortably do up to 10 and is working on 11 to 20.

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I also started reading to him very early. The usual stories for his age group are short and, to be honest, boring (I have to read them) so I very quickly picked up a copy of bedtime stories that cover stories from different cultures across the world. I have also started looking for the fairytales that I grew up on and have since discovered how scary they are. There always seems to be someone who died and tragedy. For Cinderella to have a step-mother, her real mother had to die.

“London Bridge is falling down” is about destruction, Jack loses his head falling down a hill, Hansel & Gretel nearly become cuisine for a witch and the snoring old man bumps his head on the edge of the bed and can’t get up in the morning. Some of these have as much destruction as an action movie. I was becoming paralysed, not quite sure what I can read to my son beyond the cute little books with lots of pictures.

So, I decided to just read. He also seems to love books and will spend a good 10 to 20 minutes flipping through a magazine or newspaper so now we are going through Kahlil Gibran’s The Alchemist at bedtime, for the second time. Next up, it is Anansi The Spider, fables from Ghana. I also read him poetry sometimes and stories of Winnie The Pooh (a favourite for all of us). What do you read your children?

You scream, I wilt

kojo baffoeby Kojo Baffoe a man, a father, a son, a brother, a husband, a friend, a poet, a writer on a quest to make sense of this reality, with words. Author of Evoutionary and Being a father.

It felt like any other day. My son had just turned two years old and started pre-school.

The first day of school was difficult for all of us. We spent 30 minutes before leaving him and probably phoned every hour or two on that day. All was well. We later discovered that, within 10 minutes of us leaving, he had stopped crying. Day two, he got into trouble. Threw sand in another child’s face. Sat in the naughty corner. He still throws things at his parents though. Day 3,  actually naps during nap time.  Then we had to keep him home for a week. The usual. Ear infection. Cold. Swine flu scare.

It was his second day back after school after the week off and, as I mentioned before, it felt like any other day. I dropped him off to fewer tears and went about my day. He was now on full days so I picked him up at about 4pm and we headed home. As we drove in the gate, he started grumbling. Wanted the remote to open the gate. We got out of the car and he wanted to stay outside the yard. We got into the yard and he wanted to be ‘ousite’ yet followed me into the house. By now, the grumbling was a fake cry and then it happened….. the screaming. No warning. No nothing. From ‘daddee ousite’ to the kind of scream one hears outside an abattoir. I rush to him thinking he’s hurt himself or something, he pushes me away, lies on the ground kicking his legs and keeps on screaming.

I’m a patient man. Really, I am. I am understanding. When he cries, I try to determine what is wrong. I try to comfort. I try to be a good, loving father. I don’t shout. I talk. I maintained that image for the first 30 minutes. I tried to give him juice. I talked to him. I asked what was wrong. I couldn’t think straight anymore. I put on the telly, but the screams got louder, drowning out the telly. I put on music. He likes music. Loves singing and dancing. The screams weren’t even in tune. I shouted at him. Told him to stop it. Opened the front door and told him to go play outside. The screams echoed through the house and reverberated through the neighbourhood. Eventually, I ignored him. Twenty minutes after having broken the one hour mark, he just stopped. Five minutes after that. Smiling and laughing, telling me stories.

For a week, that became the routine. Every day, after school though, thank the heavens, they only ran for about 30 minutes. Then one day I put him in his room and left him there and the consistent tantrums after school stopped. Now they just come any old time.

I finally discovered why they call them the terrible twos. I have heard all the theories. I have tried some. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. If you have more, please share. All I really have now is the hope that, one day, hopefully sooner rather than later, he’ll stop. Until then, all I’m committed to is maintaining my sanity. I love him, even if he may just drive me mad.

Being a father

IMG_8303 b&w glowby Kojo Baffoe a man, a father, a son, a brother, a husband, a friend, a poet, a writer on a quest to make sense of this reality, with words. Author of ramblings

It was a day that started like any other. Woke up, got ready and went to work. We had been waiting for so long that life seemed to be more about the waiting than the end result. Nine months of waiting (well, six really. We found out late.) At lunch, I headed home to pick up the missus to go for what we hoped was the last visit to the gynae. My son was a week overdue. When I got home, I had to wait while my wife finished up a meeting. We were anxious. Looking forward to parenthood, but it was something that was ‘going’ to happen, instead of actually ‘happening’. Two hours later, I was in a state of bliss, awe, shock, confusion and borderline panic. I was a father to a very big (4.78kg) baby boy, Kweku.

On that day, I finally found purpose. True purpose. My responsibility became to build a legacy that my son can be proud of. My responsibility became to give him the foundation from which he can achieve whatever he desires. My responsibility became to make it through the rest of my life without messing him up too much. I am the example he will probably try to be like or be the total opposite of. But that’s all the ‘head in the sky’ stuff. It’s great in theory; the reality is always something else. Half the time, I’m just trying to keep my head above water.

I have spent the last two years in awe. I catch myself just watching him, forgetting to tell him “Get down! Stay away from the pool! Don’t throw that! Eat this! Sorry. Don’t cry! Naughty door!”

I smile more. Definitely laugh a lot more. I must admit that while I generally laugh with him, sometimes it is at him. He pulls the strangest, funniest faces sometimes.

I remember saying to my wife that, one day, he would come walking round the corner, calling Mommee and Daddee. He does it every night somewhere between midnight and 2am as he makes the short trek from his room to ours. The other night, I was still up working so I put him into our bed and, before I could say anything, he smiled and said “bye, bye”. And just like that, I was dismissed from my own room.

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One minute, he was a baby, next he’s running up and down, climbing anything in his path and giving running commentary all the time. Everything is ‘this’ and ‘that’ but the vocabulary is growing every day. And, every day, there’s another milestone and we are only at two years. I’m still recovering from the fact that he now kicks the ball back to ME when we are playing. Used to be he would either throw or kick it without direction. Now he places it and kicks it to me. I taught him how to bob his head to the music before he was one. Now he has his favourite songs, especially Black Eyed Peas’ Boom Boom Pow.

School has been hard on all of us, but it is still early days. I love that when I pick him up, he looks at the teacher, points at me and says “Daddee”. I love being a father. I wish this was all I had to do. It is still early days, but I consider this one of the ultimate blessings in life.

Are you the mom or the dad?

ginaby Gina Jacobson, a wife, a mom, a leo.  She works for a  non-profit organisation.  Is a procrastinator. Loves sci-fi, sushi, good books and Scrabble.  Her blog is made up of A Bit of This a Bit of That.

In our house I get in my car every morning and go to work for eight hours. My husband opens the home office, goes inside and closes the door. Paul is a WAHD or Work At Home Dad. A lot of the time he takes his laptop and sits at a local coffee shop and works. He needs to get away from the constant whining and attention seeking and thats just from our dogs, throw in an almost two year old who only wants to sit with daddy and play and you can understand the need to escape for a while. If only to be productive.

The upside for him is getting to see Aaron during the day, to listen to him chase the dogs and chatter away to his nanny. Paul is also very hands on with Aaron and has been from day one. He changes nappies, gives bottles, baths and generally does everything a mom would ‘traditionally’ do. This has created an interesting situation in our house. Aaron will only let Paul change him and put him to sleep and if he wakes up in the middle of the night, he only wants Paul to put him back to sleep. It has its up side as well as its down side. Up, I get to go back to sleep straight away in the middle of the night and I don’t change that many stinky pooh nappies. Down, I don’t have the same bond Paul has with Aaron. It is upsetting when I go to him in the middle of the night and he says “No mommy, daddy” while pointing at the door and staring straight past me. Paul also gets the biggest hugs and kisses.

Not that Aaron doesn’t want his mommy at all, he often wants to come sit on my lap and randomly runs up to me and hugs my knees. I cant help but see myself as the ‘dad’ in our family in terms of the time Paul and I get to spend with our son. I wonder if this is not how my dad felt when he spent all day at the office and came home to a child that only wanted mommy to help her. Is this how it is for more traditional families? Is it something you think about consciously or is this just how it is? Maybe we are not the only family that works like this. Tell me about your family dynamics, who is the ‘mom’ and who is the ‘dad’ and does it make any difference to you? I really really wish I was more the ‘mom’. Im going to have to keep working at it and maybe we will balance it out one of these days.