trystan

Washing dishes

Am I proud of my son? Heck yeah!

Last Sunday, Trystan didn’t want to take a nap so I made him a deal. 

“If you want to stay awake, then you have to do what the grown ups do while you kids are napping.”

“Okay Daddy.”

So he washed dishes with me and afterward picked up all his toys in the livingroom. 

Watching two boys wash dishes may not sound too exciting, I just love hearing what Trystan has to say…

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A spiritual lesson from dirty diapers

One morning when Trystan was about a year old, Shelly and I woke up to him crying. I groggily walked into his room to check on him and see his onesie is wet. It wasn’t long before the smell made it’s way into my sleepy nostrils and I realized that he had an explosive movement in his sleep and soiled not only his onesie, but his bed as well.

“Shelly! I need help,” I yelled across the hall into our room, “I’ll change Trystan, can you change his bedding?”

I unbuttoned and began to peel Trystan’s soiled onesie off him and realized that his leg was wet. I took him to the bathroom since the mess was bigger than I expected. “It’s okay Trystan,” I said as he continued to cry. I carefully lifted him by his armpits so as not to soil my own clothes and put him down in the middle of the bathroom. I turned the shower on then unbuttoned his clothing to realize that this kid had been marinating in grit, grains, and special s#*t sauce as his back was covered in poop. I quickly jumped away from the already crying toddler. “WAIT!” I yelled. He cried even more, confused by my reaction. “Stay right there!” I said, holding him back by his head as his arms desperately reached out for me.  “STAY!”  At that moment, I saw his face. I saw the embarassment, the sadness, the plea for me to console him. “ARRGHHH!” I said, “just wait a second.” I quickly took my clothes off, held my little “tar baby” tightly and climbed into the shower.

* * *

I really love being a dad. Learning to love my children is also learning how to allow myself to be loved by God. As a Roman Catholic, one of my favorite things to do is also one of my least favorite things to do… confession. Weakness is weakness and I seem to be taking the same sins into the confessional every single time I go. I’ve had the same weaknesses for as long as I can remember, sometimes I handle them better, other times not so well. Sometimes I even think that God must be getting really tired of hearing the same thing over and over. He must be getting tired of having to change my “dirty diapers” over and over. Really? Did I feel like that about Trystan almost three years ago before he potty trained? Do I feel like that about Zoey now as she is beginning to potty train?

No. I love my kids. I don’t see dirty diapers (even the explosive ones) as a sign of my children hating me, or as a reason for me to turn my back on them. As a matter of fact, it makes me happy when Zoey tells me that she went poopoo. The more she matures and progresses in her potty training, she will start coming to me BEFORE she poops. And hopefully, I can get her to the toilet in time before her “weak” untrained body can’t hold it in any longer. Sometimes I find myself “marinating” in my sins, holding it all in within my warm onesie of pride and stubborness. It never fails that the moment I cry out to my Daddy in heaven, and let him know that I have soiled myself, he comes to embrace me and clean me up. I KNOW this. If I, an imperfect daddy can embrace my son despite his mess, then so will my perfect Daddy do even more for me. Every time I bring myself to surrender my sins, I walk out of our church on cloud nine, with a skip in my step, feeling completely loved, embraced and freshly showered.

Seeing Trystan now, fully potty trained, gives me hope that I too will mature past my spiritual weakness.  He inspires me by his sheer will power.  I remember asking him once to stop sucking his thumb (after creatively explaining the consequences) and the subsequent days, Shelly and I noticed him fighting the desire to suck his thumb.  Now he has grown out of that as well.

I am still working on letting my Daddy know BEFORE I soil myself instead of hoarding it like a little kid.  In many ways I look up to my children, I can only imagine how Mary and Joseph felt raising Jesus.

* * *

“Zoey,” she looks at me “did you poopoo?” I ask because I saw her with her thinking face a moment before.
“No.” She says shaking her head.  Her face looks guilty and I can smell the fresh cookies in the oven.

Why? Why does she hide it from me? All she has to do is say yes and I will gladly change her diaper. Then after asking myself why, I just smile because I know that I do the same thing. Then I lift my heart to heaven and say, “I love you too Daddy.”

French fries and priorities

Time management is just another way of saying task prioritization. It is about knowing what you will get done and what you won’t. The biggest part is placing names on the things that you do. Checking e-mail, chatting, updating your status on Facebook, cruising your newsfeed are some activities that we do not name, but end up taking our time. When we list out our priorities, we have to include these things on our list of things to prioritize.

With that said, as a working parent who wants to find fun ways for my kids to learn. One of the things on my priority list is giving the kids hands on learning experiences. I keep my eyes peeled for opportunities where I can take something on my priority list for the day and combine it with a way to teach the kids something fun. I love taking them grocery shopping because they learn about the process of picking fruits and vegetables, interacting with a cashier, and the value of money. Before going shopping, I make Trystan take out some money from his piggy bank so he can buy a treat. Hunting for those opportunities is one of the things that injects random fun into my day.

Yesterday, on our drive home from daycare, I asked Trystan what he wanted to eat for dinner. He replied, “I want French fries, ketchup and chicken nuggets Daddy.” “Well, we don’t have any French fries at home so we have to go to the store and buy some.”

At this moment, I remembered the potatoes in our pantry that were starting to go soft and I had a flashback to when I was a child and my mom cooked French fries with me and my brothers. Now I can teach the kids how to cut potatoes and show them how one of their favorite treats are made and at the same time, I don’t have to put them in front of the television while getting dinner ready.

 

How to deal with two babies

Almost two years ago, Zoey was born.  Shelly and I were in the nursery ward at Providence Saint Joseph and I was sitting on the couch which was also my makeshift bed from the night before.  Trystan was at a children’s party with Kayla.  Ben and Sheri took him when Shelly started going in to labor the day before.  Zoey was in her crib sleeping next to Shelly.  We were tired, happy and in awe of the new addition to our family.  I couldn’t stop looking at her.  After taking her out for some tests, they brought her back in with a little pink bow in her hair.  It was held on by a small drop of petroleum jelly.  This is one of the reasons we love this hospital so much; the amazing staff.

There was a knock at the door.  “Come in!”  Shelly said.  A Catholic nun walks into the room.  Everyday she makes her rounds in the hospital to read scripture and give communion to the patients.  We chatted with her for a few minutes before she continued on.  We learned something from her that day that we have lived by and I believe is what makes Trystan and Zoey’s relationship the way it is.

“Is this your first baby?” Sister asked.
“No, she has a big brother.”
“Let me give you some advice.  If both babies are crying, take care of the older one first.  The second one won’t remember anything, but the first one will and might hold it against the baby.”

So from that day on every time Zoey and Trystan would both need attention, it doesn’t matter which one started crying first, we would go to Trystan and make sure that he was taken care of.  About a year later, when both of them were in need of attention I went directly up to Trystan to see what he needed.  He saw me coming and stopped calling for me, instead he pointed and directed me to Zoey.  “Look Daddy!  Zoey is crying.”  Since then, little by little he began to look to her needs more and more.

Here is a heartwarming episode that just happened this morning.  Shelly had already left for work, Trystan and I finished breakfast, and Trystan was working on a homework assignment on his little table (yes, he already has homework at 3 years old).  I hear Zoey crying from the bedroom so I bring her to the dining room table to get her breakfast ready.  Trystan walks over and shows her his page of upper and lower case letter B’s and she smiles in approval.  He puts the paper back on the kiddie table, comes to the dining table and climbs on his chair.  He grabs a paring knife and about six strawberries and starts slicing the leaves off each one.  I wanted to capture him on video using a knife so I started filming.  After getting two good shots, I turn my camera off.  Then I hear him saying, “Here you go Zoey.” I glance back and catch him giving her all the strawberries that he had cut.  Then he takes his bowl of muesli and yogurt and splits it with her… Just when I thought the cuteness was over, he gets his step stool from the bathroom and brings it over to the kitchen sink.  He grabs his and Zoey’s cups, fills them with water and brings it to her at the table.

Well, Sister’s advice has worked amazingly for two.  Hopefully she will be at the hospital when baby #3 is delivered and she could tell us how to play Zone Defense.