Day 437: swim clothes for kids

One thing that is way more complicated than I thought it would be is swim clothes for the little guy.

When I was a kid in the ’80s, boys wore swim suits and no shirts.  Girls wore regular old swim suits that girls wear.  So naturally I have been caught off guard this past year as we get swim clothes for the little guy.  After all, I assumed it would be a cute little swim suit, and that’s all.  Ha!

The thing is, we care a lot more about sun protection now.  It seems that in the era we live in, everything is out to get us -including the sun.  And that means we need to buy SPF shirts for the kids, and preferably a one piece swim garment with a zipper up the front.  3/4 sleeve at least.  Imagine a body suit that surfers wear, then make it of spandex, and you have a good idea of what we are talking about here.  Gender can be indicated by pattern and color, I guess.

Then of course there’s the hats.  Sun hats are probably the second ugliest garment a kid wears.  First most ugly is a sun hat for swimming.  They are also made of spandex, and they have a bit of fabric that hangs down to protect the neck.  I hate them.  And my son hates them too. My wife likes them.

There are plenty of other swimming garments – shoes, gloves and so on.  And there are tons of fun ways to spend your money for pool toys, too.  If you have any money left after buying the swim clothing, that is. 😉

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Day 436: Shall We Eat Once Again?

One of the funniest things I heard in recent memory was from when my wife’s family visited us in Hong Kong just around a month ago.  It was my wife’s mother, her husband, and my wife’s nephew.

I was busy taking them around the town to the various sites, which is no easy task when you have a toddler who must eat regularly.  Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack, snack, dinner (and maybe a few other snacks in-between).  Of course this is much different from a regular adult’s rhythm, especially those who are on holiday and who maybe do not eat breakfast so early – and it is especially different for people who have not had children for a while.

So, one day when we were on our way in the city, I mentioned that we had to plan where to go next so that we could eat.  My wife’s mother’s husband, a really nice and funny guy who is in his early 70’s, said, “Shall we eat once again?!”  He said this with a little bit of laughter and a little despair, as if he was really torn up that we had to eat yet again, when we had just eaten 5 mere hours ago.

I think it is kind of like this with a lot of things when you are a parent.  People forget or are unaware of what it is like when a child is young.  And it does not take long to forget it.  I could for example forget that a 6-month old needs to eat x number of times and is not on solids yet, even though that was only a year ago for us.  I could insist that we did X or Y regarding something with the little guy but in reality memories fade with every phase, and unless it is something remarkable, it is hard to place an exact age with a phase.

So surely in the future, maybe in 2 years, maybe in 30 years, I will hear myself saying “shall we eat once again?!” and I hope I will remember this first time I heard this with a good laugh 😉

Day 435: Saying Goodbye to Your City

One of the things that is adding to the stress levels as we head back to Sweden is the list of things we’ve got to do before we leave.  You know, all the “favorites” and all the “tourist stuff we never did but now we’ve got to do” – these things that while you are living somewhere, you don’t bother, or you do them right away when you move there.

Of course this means already the remaining few weekends we have are getting fully booked.  Ocean Park, an excursion on a Junk (a rented boat that takes you to cool beaches and so on), and others top the list.  I am trying to take the time to do the things I want to do during the weeks with the little guy so that the things on my wife’s “to do” list can be achieved without mine in the way.

So, off we go into the month of May, already 1/3 over, and already feeling like we will leave feeling like we did not really “do” the city.  But then again, I think it is like this for everyone when the leave a “tourist” city behind – sometimes when there is so much to do and see, it is easy to overlook it until the end.

Day 434: When a Toddler Gets New Teeth

The little guy has just had his bottom canines pop up this week.  Yay!  And Ugh.  It is not a lot of fun for him, and it is therefore not a lot of fun for me.

When a baby starts getting their teeth, it is not much fun.  Lots of crying, sensitivity, maybe some fever, a bit of diharreah, and maybe lots of sleep / extra long naps.

When they get older and advance into being a “toddler,” you have all that other stuff I mentioned, plus the addition of them having an opinion, and a general irritability that is amazing.  Things can go from ok to ABSOLUTELY NOT ok in about 3 seconds.

For the little guy, he is always a bit whinier when my wife is around.  And that has been amplified this week when he has these canines coming in.  Additionally we see that he is so incredibly moody and un-peaceful during times he would normally be just fine, that you can tell he is confused and frustrated about what is going on – maybe he is just as frustrated as we are.

The canines go very deep so it’s not a shock that this one is brutal for him, but it’s how he is handling the discomfort that is really making it hard.  So for now we have lots of tears, lots of whining, lots of rejected food, lots of temper tantrums, and just a lot of everything on top of the stress of our upcoming move.  

I did tell someone that I hoped these teeth would come in before we were moving back, because I figured they would be rough ones.  Looks like I got what I wished for 😉

Day 433: The Smell of Fresh Cut Flowers

Today I got home, and I was hit square in the nose by a wonderful smell: fresh flowers.

My wife had a going away dinner yesterday with her colleagues, and they gave her a huge bouquet of roses, lilies and some other flowers I don’t know.  They smelled amazing the moment she walked thru the door, and after she put them in a vase, the smell started to permeate thru the apartment – when I walked home after a long day away, it was so nice to have this smell to welcome me!

There’s something nice about having fresh flowers at home.  It’s one of those things I think many people say they will do regularly, and then they do it for a few weeks or months, and they stop.  It’s not cheap for one thing.  It probably starts to feel like a chore after a while, too.

We rarely have fresh flowers in our home, so this novelty is something I really appreciate for the moment.  I like the life that the flowers bring, the “pop” they give to the room.  And I love the smell. 

Day 432: Strong Opinions But No Words

The little guy is almost 18 months old now, and one thing is sure: he has strong opinions.  He has opinions about what book he wants to read, about what toys are good or not, about what he wants to eat, when he wants to eat, and how he wants to eat.  He has opinions about being strapped into the stroller, and opinions about how much he likes my hugs.  All-in-all, it’s fascinating, because these opinions are expressed without words.

Imagine you are on the streets of some weird French town where they let mimes walk around.  Take the mimes and allow them to use noises, but no words.  Then, give these mimes bouts of irritability and pain because of teething, and make the mimes have temper tantrums.  It is proper for them to be in France, because you do not speak French, but the mimes do.  That is what it is like with the little guy at this moment.

“Blaaaah!”  he says.  “ok, do you want your water?” -pushes it away like it’s rancid- “ok, do you want some crackers.”  -pushes them away with a strong force – “oh, ok, you are not hungry?  you want your book?”  – pushes it away even more strongly, getting annoyed – “WAAAAWWAAAAA” – big tears starting to fall, crocodile tears.  “Ok buddy, what’s the problem?  You just ate your banana, you don’t want any of the other food, and you don’t want your book, your toys, or your pacifier.  What is it then?”  – CRY, CRY, CRY, CRY, BAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!”  -(hmmm.  what’s this about?)  “ok, we will just go then.”  And he stops crying.  I guess he wanted to go (but we stopped because he was whining to begin with)

It can also happen with good things – like for example last night he crawled up into his height chair when he wanted to eat, and sat there pointing to the kitchen and ordering  food from me.  Also, tonight, we were reading, and he then took a book, walked to his bedroom, and started tapping the rocking chair for me to sit and read to him there (indicating he wanted to go to bed).

The hard part of course is those times when you have gone thru the whole list of things he could possibly want, and you have no idea what he’s trying to communicate and it ends in tears, whining, crying, foot stomping, and a full-on temper tantrum.  It could be (and is most likely) connected to the fact that the bottom canine teeth have pierced thru the gums, and that must be really painful.  And if you combine that with the inability to speak yet (but still having opinions nonetheless), I can imagine everything is just overwhelming enough to turn anyone into an annoyed, frustrated little mime. 😉

Day 431: Daddies in the Playroom

In Discovery Bay there are some play rooms that are part of the clubhouse memberships.  They are different, and based on the age of your child, you will probably go to one over the other.  I have noticed a small trend happening when I am there playing with the little guy: the other kids want to play with us.

It starts with a kid saying to me: “hello, my name is XX.  What is your name?”  And then you are stuck.  For the next hour, that kid is stuck to you like glue.  They want your attention, they want to play with you.  They want you to play their games.  And on and on it goes, tirelessly, until you make your escape.

Meanwhile, where are their parents or their “helpers”?  Sitting on the side, not even in the play area with their child, on their cell phones.  Always.  On.  Their.  Cell.  Phones.  ALWAYS.  So, they are expecting me, and the relatively few other parents or helpers in the playroom, to basically babysit their kids.

Today when we were in there, the above example happened.  And occasionally the mother would look up at me like I was being weird talking to her little girl (as if I had a choice!).  You should not ignore kids when they talk to you, should you?   Anyway, we were there, and then this little girl pushed another kid off a padded pedestal.  The kid cried, and of course that mother came over expecting me to discipline the little girl.  I said, “this it the problem when the parents are not in the play area, this is not my child, so there’s nothing I can say here.”  I’m not going to discipline someone else’s kid who pushed someone else’s kid.  (there’s a mind bender!)

So, all the sudden the helper AND the mom, both of whom were on the other side of the room engrossed in the cell phones, and they did some B.S. discipline that was clearly just as much B.S. to the daughter as it was for them.  I did get some sideways glances as if I was responsible for this.

Later in the day I was venting to some of my friends about this, and a mom said, “ha!  this exact thing happens to my husband all the time, and he is equally frustrated!  I think the dads are kind of exotic in the play rooms, so the kids want to play with them.”  This could be true, after all a lot of the dads in our community are not present because they work so much – so us dads who are in the play room must be a bit of a novelty.  I was relieved that it was not only my plight, but it is still a fascinating thing.

I will say that I have learned that little kids in playrooms are a bit like stray dogs.  If you ignore them, they ignore you.  But once you acknowledge their existence, they will follow you, expecting you to be their friend.  Maybe it’s all a good reminder to anyone who has a playroom in their community that it is best to play with your kid, not use the playroom as a break from your day 😉