Thursday, March 1, 2012

From the Peanut Gallery

Hi. I'm a father of two tiny little thingies. The problem with this is that there are no REAL fatherly duties at this point for kids of this age. At best, I just help out with some of the "mommy" things. I put that in quotes because I'm talking about norms and stereotypes here.

But to get to the point. Celia nurses the babies and has this special little interaction with the twins where she feels like "I am definitely their mommy." And what do I get? Nothing. Dad's are for playing, for making jokes, for rough-housing, (and other non-Nathany activities like sports and changing oil (later on in the boys' life, of course)).

Yes, this is an extreme just to make a point; I don't ACTUALLY feel like I am nothing to the babies (though it's sort of true). But there are twinges every once in awhile until they hit the crossover point when they can smile at me. And they do! It's a little cheapened, because they smile at everyone, but to be able to sit face to face with them and see them smile back at me is priceless!  It is the first real joy of being a father (aside from when they are born, but that's an entirely different scenario).

So it's official, I'm now a father. Again. Let me tell you about my new relationship with the boys (and their little quirks).

     1. He's smiley. I say "where's your smiles" and he shows me. Stinkin' cute.
     2. He makes a lot of stinkface and then gets on with it. He doesn't get phased by much.
     3. He's calm, just kind of takes the world in. I've only heard him REALLY cry a couple of times.
     4. He just seems to have this happy, carefree disposition that is super sweet.
     5. The amount of poo this dude can create in one day is unparalleled by anyone of equal size.
     6. Every once in awhile he looks straight up and smiles with his tongue out as if to say "you're siiiilly."
     7. He'd rather stare at your face than cuddle into you. Smiling all the while.
     1. He's contemplative. If you catch his eye, he WILL look into your soul. . . and then think about it.
     2. He's seems sensitive to what's going on around him. If Elliott cries, he wakes up and cries too.
     3. His predominant face is that of "what did you say?" or "did you just SEE that?" Pretty funny.
     4. He's a burrower. He won't fall asleep until he's mashed his face into your armpit.
     5. He's apt to cuddle and sleep on your chest. (The other thing that makes a dad feel like a dad)
     6. He's pretty vocal. You can tell immediately when he wants something or is being annoyed.

Cecil and I are very aware that there is a fine line between labeling and describing. We are very careful with what we remark about the boys, and in the beginning had to catch the times where we'd say something like "oh he's the fussier one" or something even more subtle like "wow EZRA ate more than Elliott?" as if to say, but he's the small one!

The difference between labeling and describing, in my opinion, is that labels prevent you from allowing the person to change. I'm completely fine using things to describe the twins that I know could change at any time. And I make sure to allow them to. If Elliott were to become frowny all the time, I would have to say "okay now he's frowny" and not "why is he so frowny? He's always been the smiley one."

Anyway, I'm sure there a lot of opinions out there on the subject, and I'd love to hear them. Plus add in an attention-seeking two year-old and it's a delicate situation. Anytime I say "where's your smiles" to Elliott, Eliza comes running up flashing me the BIGGEST smile she can muster. I didn't notice at first and felt SOO BAD when I saw that's what she was doing! So now I make sure to watch for her and compliment her big smile too.

Ok, all that being said, I still can't wait for them to get out of this phase and into the rough-and-tumble phase that Eliza is in now. Playing with her is the best! Makes me feel like an actual dad, instead of a glorified mother's-aid.


  1. I love Elliott #5 and #6 and Ezra #1 and #4 and Eliza's response to the smiles request. :D
    You're a great dad!

  2. I try to do the same thing; not really compare. I love that my girls are soooo different. I love that I can see their personalities coming out now. They are 18 months, by the way. And my older daughter was almost 20 month when the twins were born. I think you're doing great to really compliment and notice Eliza. My husband and I would take out our oldest sometimes on our date night so she could feel like an only child again. Now, she is just the sweetest big sister and second mom to my girls. Yes it will get more fun as they get older. Your family is beautiful. Thank you both.

  3. For the record, I doubt that what you do for Celia and your kids would be classified as "little" or "nothing". You're basically amazing. However, I know your stance on the whole not being able to do much with babies and I understand where you are coming from. Even though I do feel that strong mother connection with Anna, I'm excited for her to respond back to us. Also, I totally agree with you about describing and not labeling. I think it's really important to let them create what and who they are on their own, without we, the parents, offering too much influence.

  4. I agree with you completely about "describing" instead of "labelling." It would be hard to feel boxed in by what your parents think you are, instead of feeling like you can just be what you are. You guys are awesome!


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