My Child Is A Genius!

We like to think all our children–or at least some of our children–are geniuses. Mensa material. Admittedly, I’m the same way about mine. But I plan to show you how I know so that you will believe it, too.

So for those of you who are thinking he is just a proud, overindulgent grandparent, I have obtained photographic evidence to prove it to you.

In the mornings Kenzie usually wakes up earlier than Kaleb. She comes down to the master bedroom and plays and gets into things while I am trying to complete my morning routine of getting ready for work.

One particular morning Kenzie had been playing in the walk-in closet in my bedroom. When I finished my routine and was about to leave the bedroom to go to the kitchen to fix our breakfast, I noticed she had been playing with some clothes hangers. She had pulled several extras down from the the lower clothes rack and had spread them all over the floor of the closet.

Since I’m always in a hurry in the morning trying to get myself and the toddlers ready to leave the house, I started quickly gathering the hangers up (so I wouldn’t have to pick them up when we got home in the evening).

Then, thinking this was a teachable moment and that sooner or later she needed to learn to pick up after herself, I said: “Kenzie, pick up all those hangers and hang them back up. You have to do it yourself because you pulled them down. It’s not my job to pick them up. I’m not your slave!”

We all know, of course, that from her perspective I am, in fact, her slave! But teachable moments don’t arrive that often, especially when you are always in a hurry.

So after a short time I went back in the closet and I was surprised to see that she had minded and had actually picked up the clothes hangers and hung them back up.

But they were not hung up exactly the way that you or I would hang them up. The photo on the left shows her approach to the task.

I was amazed! No, not just because she minded me, but that she did it with such creativity and ingenuity.

Certainly my child is an artist! No, my child is a genius!

She had created a sculpture from the hangers–suspended in midair with delicately balanced parts–a hanger mobile!

I asked her to pick up hangers and put them away and she created a work of art!

Now that’s clever, inventive, resourceful–that’s brilliant! That’s thinking out of the box!

But really, if the truth be known, toddlers commonly think out of the box. That’s because they are not in the box yet. They don’t even know there is a box!

But it’s the grown-up’s job to get them into the box–to get them to think and behave like we want them to–like we do. We don’t want them standing out. We want them blending in. After all, it’s a grown-up’s world and so we get to build the box.

So maybe this hanger mobile doesn’t prove she’s a genius. But maybe it demonstrates that I need to build a little bigger box that will allow her toddler creativity to thrive.

Once Upon a Time

At our house the toddlers have lots of books. Nanna always bought books and constantly read to them, even when they were infants. So they love books and I try to read to them often, but don’t do as good a job as Nanna did.

One thing that hinders me from reading to them as much as I should is technology. (Sure, Poppy, blame it on technology!)

But you can download children’s books to the iPad that are animated and read themselves! iPad books do a much better job than I ever could. In fact, the toddlers would rather watch We’re Going on a Bear Hunt from the iPad because it animates the artwork on the pages of the book. No matter how enthusiastically I may read the book to them, I can’t make the pictures start moving around!

When I ask the toddlers to pick a book for me to read to them, they almost always pick the same books. Over and over, it seems we read the same books! And their top picks are the classic children’s stories: Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, The Three Little Pigs, and Jack and the Beanstalk.

Now here’s something I’ve observed about toddlers and storybooks. The toddlers don’t make distinctions between real life and the stories in the books.

Here’s what I mean. Down the road from our house are some new homes under construction. All the leftover construction materials are placed to the side of the new home in a big pile to be hauled off to the landfill. Every time they see the pile of used materials beside the new homes being constructed the toddlers ask, “Did the big bad wolf blow the house down?”

So that their young, fertile minds won’t be overburdened with complicated explanations about the home construction industry, I just answer, “Yes, the big bad wolf blew the house down.”

Please don’t think bad of me for not telling them that it’s just a pile of trash, as I always earnestly reassure them, “But the big bad wolf can’t blow our house down because it’s made of bricks!”

Now after I tell them that, I don’t know if the brief silence that follows is a mental sigh of relief or a cognitive attempt to make sense out of all this new reality they are discovering.

Since we live in a rural area, there is a good amount of undeveloped property surrounding our house. Just as any large pile of trash must be the  residual effects from the huffing and puffing of the big bad wolf, any clump of trees is considered to be “the deep, dark woods,” the place where bears and big bad wolves reside.

Kenzie (or Kaleb) pointing at some trees: “Is that the deep dark woods?”

Me: “No that’s just a clump of trees by the road.”

Kenzie (or Kaleb): “Do bears live in the woods?”

Me: “Yes but no bears live around here.”

Kenzie (or Kaleb): “Does the big, bad wolf live in the woods?”

Me: “Yes, but Poppy won’t let the bears and big bad wolf come near our house!”

But I think the following conversation we had one cloudy day proves my point about the thin line between reality and fairytales for the toddlers:

Kenzie: “We don’t eat clouds?”

Me: “No, we don’t eat clouds.”

Kenzie: “They’re yukky?”

Me: “Well, it’s not that they’re yukky, they’re just too high for us to reach.”

Kaleb, who had been listening thought for a moment and then interjected: “We need a beanstalk!”

Once upon a time life was full of bears and wolves living in forests, trolls living under bridges, and clouds that you could climb up to on a beanstalk, and a superhero Poppy that could protect them from any threats to their toddler world.

But soon they will grow up and their belief in their storybook world will pass away and they will find out that their Poppy is no superhero.

Meanwhile, I wish they could remain a little longer in their imaginary world where I could remain as their hero and take care of them and chuckle at their naiveté. But life moves on so quickly and they grow up so fast.

I suppose it is with some reluctance that I must lead them into the reality of the grown-up world. In so doing, I hope I can inspire them to reserve a little bit of their childhood imagination to help them confront some of the tough realities that they will surely encounter along the way to adulthood.

How Did This Happen?

This new sandbox is awesome!

Last week I built a new sandbox for the toddlers. It’s not really that big from a two-dimensional perspective–five feet by five feet. I guess I should have been thinking three dimensionally when I constructed it because it took 25 bags of sand to fill it up.

That’s 25-fifty pound bags of sand. 1,250 pounds of sand!

But it was worth the effort. The toddlers love it and spend hours playing in it.

For several weeks before I constructed the sandbox my left elbow was hurting. It became so painful that it kept me awake at night.

I figured that I’m getting to that age when I’m starting to suffer from grandpa aches and pains! So I made an appointment to go to see the doctor. I went in for my appointment, they took some x-rays, and then the doctor entered the room and gave me his diagnosis. I’m expecting him to say arthritis or bursitis or some other grandpa ailment and he says it’s tennis elbow!

Tennis elbow?

I don’t play tennis. The nearest thing I do to swinging a tennis racket is occasionally swatting Sissy with a wooden spoon when she endeavors to wreak havoc on our household!

The good news is that the doctor said he can cure me. But I had to have a shot in the elbow and I have to wear an arm brace for three weeks, 24/7. Three weeks? 24/7?

How did this happen?

As you can see from the photo, I’m just a little irritated about it because it’s my left arm…and I’m left-handed!

If I had gone to the doctor before building the sandbox, I never would have been able to complete it before summer.

The doctor said he can cure me. Unfortunately, he can’t tell me what caused it so I can prevent it from happening again

But I’ve got to figure out how I developed tennis elbow! How am I going to keep up with the toddlers with one less arm?

So, how did this happen to me?

I’ve got some possible explanations, but as you might expect, they all place the blame with the toddlers (either directly or indirectly). Here’s four possibilities:

1. Building a new sandbox for the toddlers and then filling it with 25 – 50 lb. bags of sand. (But wasn’t it hurting before this?)

2. Lifting toddlers in and out of car seats, bath tubs, and grocery carts and/or scooping up toddlers from frequent stumbles, tumbles, falls, and other missteps (usually includes holding, comforting, and kissing of the wound).

3. Swatting Sissy with a wooden spoon.

4. Spending too much time on the computer typing this blog.

Which one do you think is the most plausible explanation for my incapacitation? (Use the Comments button below this post  to express your opinion and to see other Comments.)

If there’s a consensus then maybe I’ll alter my lifestyle accordingly. If not then I may have to change the by-line of this blog to: Single, One-Armed Grandparent, Two Toddlers, and One Painful Adventure!

Toddler Terminology – Bedtime


Toddlers have a unique and often humorous way of describing certain things. So this post introduces a new feature to this website I am calling Toddler Terminology. Occasionally, I will post a column on Toddler Terminology that identifies some of the interesting and funny terms I hear the toddlers say.

In this post I want to share some terms the toddlers use related to bedtime.

Bedtime (or naptime) is a big deal for toddlers because it requires them to cease talking and/or moving. Although toddlers need lots of sleep, they do everything they can to avoid it!

The following terms will give you a little indication of what the bedtime routine is like around our house.

“Goggy”Noun, refers to a small, brown, silky blanket that is carried everywhere. The toddler can’t possibly take a nap or go to sleep at night without it even though he doesn’t know where it is because it has been carried around everywhere and dropped somewhere. However, it must be found prior to laying down in bed because it is impossible to go to sleep without it. It is usually accompanied by a stuffed Barney toy, hence the question: “Where is my Goggy and Barney?”

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Original Sin


Raising toddlers can certainly make you believe in original sin.

There’s no way they could have learned all that bad behavior from me!

Let me rephrase that last statement: There’s no way they could have learned all that bad behavior from me in the short span of their lives thus far!

They fight with each other so much I feel like a referee. No, I feel more like judge, jury, and prosecuting attorney, trying to figure out who did what to whom and why and then mete out justice.

Sometimes I don’t see what happens, so I have to look for evidence. Most often that evidence is in the form of teethmarks, red handprints, or scratches.

Kaleb is bigger and can handle himself fine in hand-to-hand combat. In fact, with his superior strength he can easily subdue Kenzie. So Kenzie has to resort to guerrilla tactics. She swoops in from out of nowhere and inflicts a bite, pinch, push, or kick so quickly that Kaleb can only respond with wails and tears.

But toddlers don’t carry a grudge. And so one minute they’re fighting and the next minute they’re loving on each other.

Sometimes I wish grown-ups could be more like toddlers!

Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milkshakes

My mother always said I take things too seriously. So did my wife.

So I get it. I’m a serious guy.

But life is serious business. And you don’t want to screw it up. Everyone should understand that–even if you’re a toddler.

But toddlers are NOT SERIOUS. In fact, with toddlers, life is a game, life is play, life is all about having fun.

Don’t they realize that they could grow up and become uncivilized barbarians, brutes, heathens, if they don’t take things more seriously? They can’t continue to be so carefree and have any hope of ever becoming productive members of society!

So, let me tell you what happened last Saturday and I think you’ll begin to understand my concern…

Continue reading “Don’t Cry Over Spilled Milkshakes”

We Don’t Eat Dirt?

NO MORE RULES!

I seem to be daily developing new rules for good behavior in our household. You might even think I have too many rules.

Though there may be countless rules, the toddlers have no problem continuously reciting my rules.

But just because they can quote the rules doesn’t necessarily mean they OBEY the rules!

And when they quote a rule, they state it in the interrogative form, not the imperative (that is, as a question, not a command).

Continue reading “We Don’t Eat Dirt?”