How does “I can do it myself!” at three years old transmute into “Can you do it for me?” at thirteen?

At three I got reproached and pushed away for trying to help them perform a task. At thirteen I am implored to do it for them!

When they were little I thought I could surely cultivate this “do it myself” attitude into the formation of self-sufficient, self-actualized young adults.

But, now at thirteen and fourteen they’ve become helpless and dependent. And, they want me to do everything for them.

And, regretably, I do!

What has happened to them in that decade between three and thirteen?

What about self-sufficiency? What about self-actualization? What about becoming independent human beings?

And, by-the-way, how did they get so good at exploitation?

It seems there may have been some miscalculations in my parenting efforts. Or, as teenagers have they just grown more cunning?

In a Tom Sawyer fence-painting sort of way….

You remember Tom Sawyer and the fence-painting episode? Tom Sawyer was that mischievous boy who cleverly tricked his way into getting what he wanted.

In one of the most memorable scenes from Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, the orphaned Tom was tasked by his Aunt Polly to whitewash their fence as a punishment for skipping school and lying about it. Tom persuades his friends to paint the fence for him because he made them believe that it was an enjoyable and special task.

“Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash.”


Today we call the practice of passing individual tasks or business processes over to a third-party outsourcing. And, it seems the kids have figured out they can outsource their tasks back on me by making me feel like it’s my responsibility to do it for them.

And, like Tom, they have somehow learned to outsource with reluctance on their face and alacrity in their heart. They have mastered the skill of looking unwilling to hand their task off to me while deriving great satisfaction in their ability to talk me into doing it for them.

Hmmm…. maybe they aren’t as underdeveloped as I would like to think!

Parenting From the End

What will your children remember about you when you’re gone?

While most parents may not spend much time thinking about that, I actually think about that a lot!

I probably think about that too much! Maybe I even obsess about it. Because sometimes it seems that I am growing older faster than they are growing up!

In my previous post, Lucky and Blessed, I expressed the blessing of raising children the second time around. This post is a follow-up and, perhaps, illustrates the dark side of being an older parent.

Most parents are young adults when they have children. They expect to live long enough to watch their children grow up, graduate, start a career, get married, and have families of their own. And, they certainly don’t recognize their mortality as much as an older adult does.

But, my second-time-around parenthood is being performed nearer the end of my life than the beginning or middle. You might say, I’m parenting from the end!

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Pictures Worth a Thousand Words

Poppy&KalebArmsCrossed-Fav Baby-IntrepidEffect

You’ve heard the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words!” This picture, though not very high quality, is one of my favorite baby pictures of Kaleb because it’s one of those pictures that tells a story without words.

In fact, the picture makes its own point better than I can ever explain in words. Undoubtedly, I should just keep my “thousand words” to myself, and let the picture tell its own story.

Since ‘”words” are what I do, I’m going to offer an explanation, but in much less than a thousand words…

This picture is one of those pictures that just happened in the moment. It wasn’t planned. Twenty-one-month old Kaleb liked to imitate his Poppy. Five-year-old Kaleb still does.

But, this particular picture is burned into my brain, etched on my memory. And every time I hear or see the children doing something bad that looks or sounds a lot like me, it flashes to the forefront of my mind and sears my conscience.

It’s like a sign pasted across my rather large forehead, “He Learned It From You!”

Since I’m the only adult role model in the home, I guess I have to accept responsibility, though grudgingly, for much of their bad behavior, especially if it looks or sounds a lot like me. But, do I really act like that awful behavior they are doing or say those ugly words they are saying? Surely not!

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The Poop Perplexity

When I started this blog I promised that I would not resort to bathroom or potty humor. But bathroom training is certainly an important part of parenting young children and some stories just need to be told!

Bathroom training is particularly challenging for a single parent with multiple children and/or children of the opposite sex for several reasons:

  1. You don’t have a personal understanding of how the plumbing works in the opposite sex children.
  2. You don’t exactly know the proper procedure for completing the job in opposite sex children.
  3. You have to take them into public restrooms for the opposite sex. While it’s not so bad to take a young boy into the women’s restroom, I find it objectionable to take a young girl into the men’s restroom. (No disrespect intended to my fellow males, but I just don’t want my little girl watching to see what you’ve got while you’re standing at the urinal and I’m sure you don’t want her watching you!)
  4. When you have more than one child and only one needs to go, then you have to take them both into the restroom.

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Huffing and Puffing Is What I’m Good At!


I love to read non-fiction books, particularly history and biography. And, I like to go to the movies. And I like to watch news, sports, and movies on television. But much of my current literary interests can be found in children’s books, videos, and television programs.

Trying to keep up with the toddlers, I can’t even tell you what’s going on in world events. I don’t know what the latest blockbuster movies or bestselling books are. And I don’t even know if my favorite sports teams are winning or losing.

I’m not saying this to complain. I’m saying this to explain that if there’s any personal development taking place in my life, it’s going to come from children’s books, animated videos, or kid’s television programs.

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31 Things I Forgot To Do Before Leaving the House in the Morning

I like to make preparations for the toddlers for the following day on the evening before.

Their clothes and their backpacks are prepared, packed and set out the night before.

Then, when we get up in the morning, we can eat breakfast, get dressed, and leave the house in an organized and timely manner so the toddlers can get to school and I can get to work on time.

Since everything is organized and prepared the night before, we should just go through our morning routine and leave for school and work without a hitch…

But no matter how will prepared I am, there must be thirty or more things I forgot to do or need to do as we rush out of the house and get in the car to leave for school and work.

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Daylight Savings Time? NOT!

Whoever thought up daylight savings time obviously didn’t have small children.

Because if he did, he would know not to trifle with children’s bedtime routine.

Just when it seems you’ve got the children going to bed at a regular time and you’re even starting to get a full night’s sleep, then they say daylight savings time is starting…or stopping…again!

And it wrecks the whole bedtime routine!

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Girl Watching

I like to watch young women…

No! It’s not what you think!

I like to watch young moms because I like to study the way they handle their children; I like to observe the way they are with their children.

I am often in the company of young moms: at daycare, at school, at school events, at the park, at McDonald’s, at the grocery store, at the children’s store, at karate gymnastics, and dance lessons, and at church.

Just about anything I am doing with the toddlers or for the toddlers is likely something that young moms are doing with or for their children!

I am afforded many opportunities each day to observe how young moms nurture their children.

So, I watch and try to learn.

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When Left To Their Own Devices – The Sequel

A few weeks ago I told you about an episode around our house in which I allowed the toddlers to play independently for a little while without continuously checking on them (see this post).

It led to a disastrous mess with Mentholatum spread all over the floor and walls of their bedrooms.

Well, another incident has occurred resulting from independent play. And, again it involves, you guessed it, Mentholatum!

As I said in the previous post, when left to their own devices, even a brief exercise in independence by the toddlers will often result in a household disaster.

So, I have to ask, what’s the deal with that Mentholatum? Continue reading

More Things I Should Know About Parenting But Evidently Never Learned

I was going to wait a year or two until both toddlers were fully school-age before I continued my list of things I should know about raising kids that I apparently didn’t learn the first time (see this post for my list).

Although my first list included ten items, it wasn’t meant to be an exhaustive list. I know now that it is just the first ten things I don’t know about raising kids that I evidently never learned the first time.

Apparently, there are several more because these unlearned lessons just keep popping up all over the place.

But, I didn’t think I would continue the list less than two weeks after I wrote the first ten things on the list. I mean, how many things can there be that I should know but apparently never learned? Will the list ever come to an end?

As it turns out, there’s a few more additions to my list of things I should know about parenting but never learned that I need to include before the children grow out of toddlerhood!

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