Monthly Archives: June 2015

Love is Simple to a Toddler

This week the United States Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage is legal in the United States. My wife and I are staunch supporters of gay rights, and are beyond thrilled with the decision. There have been a lot of wonderful articles about this decision written by people a lot smarter than me. So, this isn’t really about that. This is about the conversation we tried to have with our three year old about the topic, and the simple way she interpreted it all.

After we got her from daycare, we went to get frozen yogurt with rainbow sprinkles (What do you want from me? We’re dirty twirling hippies at heart). My wife and I wanted to explain what had happened in a toddler digestible way. So my wife explained to our daughter that it was now completely legal in this country for two people in love to get married. It didn’t matter if they were a girl and a boy, a boy and a boy, or a girl and a girl.

My daughter didn’t really understand this, and we didn’t expect her to. We just wanted to talk about it with her. As far as she was concerned marriage was a completely foreign concept, and far less interesting than whatever happened on Doc McStuffins today (Spoiler Alert: Bubble Monkey has paste inside of him, and can’t blow bubbles). The part I found most endearing about the whole thing was her definition of love in the first place. She told us that she knew Mommy and Daddy loved her because we read her stories at night and sang to her.

That was it. We did things she enjoyed just to see her happy, and that was love to her. Obviously, we do far more than that. Still, at a base level, she’s right. As adults we complicate it, like we complicate most things. However, maybe it’s that simple. Find someone you love, and do things that make them happy. Enjoy each others company, and don’t worry so much about all the surrounding distractions.

I’ve written about the extremes of toddler emotions before. There is no grey area or nuance. They treat love with the same simplicity. They don’t place limits, and they don’t care about social repercussions. They just feel how they feel. Adult interaction is more complicated, and it should be on some level. Still, we we would do well to remember that sometimes life is simple.

Look For The Helpers

This morning we all woke up to another horrible and senseless violent act. Nine people lost their lives in a church in Charleston, South Carolina due to a hate crime. I want to send my sincerest condolences to anyone effected personally by this crime who happens to stumble across this blog. I cannot fathom your pain, and I hope you can keep moving forward in life after you grieve. You are all in my thoughts.

My daughter is still too young to ask about events like this, but she is getting closer and closer to that age. Right now her obliviousness to the horrors of the world is an endearing trait of childhood. However, she is growing up and the questions will come soon enough. When the time does come I don’t know exactly how I will explain these things to her, especially since the awfulness of it all is so hard for me to understand myself. I would love to think these horrible events will stop, but there will always be people who hurt the innocent.

I think when we talk to our children, we have to focus on the fact that although we cannot prevent all the evil in the world we can

do our part to add more kindness to it. We should tip the scales whenever we get a chance. We need to teach our children to help when they can, even if it is inconvenient. We need to teach them to speak up for people who need a voice, even if it isn’t the popular thing to do. We need to teach them that although we cannot stop evil acts from happening, we can help restore lives, families, and communities in the aftermath. We can’t teach our kids these things with empty words, they have to see it in our actions.

Whenever there are horrible events in the world, we should look for the helpers. The people that are giving their time and energy to rebuild and heal. On top of that, whenever possible, we need to be the helpers that our children see. Not just on the worst days, but everyday. We need to do the little things, so when the big things happen helping has just become part of our nature. We need to show our children that they are responsible for the good in the world, and it isn’t a hands off process.

Unfortunately, there will be horrible acts by horrible people until the end of time. However, I truly believe that people are inherently good, and the beauty and kindness in this world outweighs the bad a thousand to one. Let’s just make sure to show our children that as often as we can.

Dinner Table Diplomacy: A Tale of Tactics and Negotiation

The field outside the fortress had been soaked with a long summer rain. Muddy footprints outlined the path to the gate. There were three sets, mine, my fellow general’s, and those of our captured adversary. We had been tasked with the long term mission of keeping this inmate healthy, and turning her into a productive member of society. Some days, the project seemed almost doable, this was not one of those days…

Inside, we sat around the war table. Negotiations had stalled, and our foe showed no sign of breaking. My fellow general and I exchanged nuanced glances. We were impressed with her fortitude, but this wasn’t our first rodeo either. There was no avoiding the fact that a long night had just begun. 
The restless quiet was pierced by a sudden demand…
“I WANT MORE JUICE!” our captive shouted.
“I need you to eat before I get you more juice…” I countered. Although, I knew very well that we had only begun the long dance of acceptable terms.
“You have to eat so you can get big and strong.” I attempted an appeal to logic, but I knew it was a long shot at best.

“I need you to have nine big bites first…” my fellow general had made the first real offer. She was wise in starting with a large number, because we both knew it would be debated and adjusted over the next few minutes. 

“No! I want juice… and I want to watch Blues’ Clues!” A shrewd counter attack. Frankly, I was impressed at the gutsy addition of demands in the middle of negotiations.
“Nine Bites, and you can have a cup of juice and watch ONE episode before story time and bed!” I had responded, looking to my partner to make sure I had not overextended our offer. Luckily, my partner seemed accepting of this deal.
“FIVE BITES!” We were finally getting to the heart of it all.
“Seven bites… and two have to be vegetables.” General Mommy was firm in her final offer.
Our little rival seemed to be seriously considering the offer. The room became tense as we awaited her response.
“Oooooooooooooooooook… 7 bites, then Juice and Blues’ Clues.” She announced with at least a moderate disposition of contentedness.
An accord had been reached, but we knew that was only step one. Our adversary lowered her spoon to her plate and carefully placed half a grain of rice upon it.
“Is thissssss a ‘big bite’ Daddy?”
Our battle had just begun…