Tuesday, November 25, 2008

How playing (and coaching) football prepared me for fatherhood

It struck me the other day that many of skills I learned playing football - and those I used as a football coach - have served me well as a father. I've already mentioned the stiff arm I use on strangers who try to kiss my baby, but the majority of useful skills came from linebacker drills. With three girls under five years old, it's amazing how necessary these are.

Skills I learned as a player:

Pre-Snap Read: anticipating what is going to happen next. When we enter a new environment, I have to scan for potential hazards, breakable pieces of priceless art, and chocolate. Remember Murphy's Law for Children: When it comes to chocolate, if it can be reached, unwrapped (optional,) and eaten, then clothing, furniture, and carpet will soon have chocolate stains.

Quick Feet: always be on the ready to move. When one girl dumps over the flower vase full of water, the baby is crying for her pacifier, and the third is unknowingly backing towards the down stairway, a quick dad has to throw a towel down, pop the pacifier in the baby's mouth, and kick a ball down the hall for the third girl to fetch, getting her away from the stairway.

Head on a Swivel: being able to see the whole field. When in public places, one girl will inevitably go one way while the other goes the opposite. We have a playground here that's outstanding but much too big. I have to keep turning my head to keep track of them. Where's Clara? There she is. Where's Kate? There she is. Where's Clara? There she is. You get the picture.

Never Take a Play Off:
the one play you decide to relax on the other team will score. Or your child will get hurt.

Skills I learned as a coach:

Do Your Research: understand your opponent, er, child. If one kid likes only purple lollipops and another will only use princess band-aids, you better make sure you have those in stock.

Game Plan: Joe Vollert gave me my first copy of Sun Tzu's The Art of War, where one of the kernels of wisdom is "win the war, then fight the war." Some may find it strange to liken war to football, much less child raising, but the parenting lessons learned in that book are amazingly appropriate, like "People are irritable when they are fatigued," and "Human Psychology is to go for perceived benefits and try to avoid prospective harm." The point is to prepare for what comes next so you are not caught by surprise.

Half Time Adjustments: No matter your preparations, things never go as planned. A good parent is flexible. Being too rigid in your expectations will just result in frustration and a child, who can sense that frustration, who grows up frustrated when they themselves are not able to adjust and adapt.

All those people who thought it was a shame that this football guy didn't have sons shouldn't worry - I seem to be doing just fine with my football training.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Crushing on my daughters, part 2

Earlier this year I created Kate's video, which you can find here. It has taken a while but I finally present Clara's video. Megan and I were amazed at how much she has grown in just the last few months. Two video clips in here are from Clara's school recital last Spring. I wanted to include some earlier video but was having technical difficulties.

Enjoy the little trip down memory lane.

Monday, November 10, 2008

So I suck my thumb, what's it to you?

It's what I do. It doesn't mean I'm insecure, shy, or needy. Daddy plays on his computer. Mommy organizes things. I suck my thumb. Got a problem with that?

I also need you to pay attention to me and not that new baby. If you don't, I'll say your name over and over until you do. If you snap at me I'll cry and you'll feel like an ass.

I'm super independent, but I like to sit on your lap for long periods of time. The two are not mutually exclusive.

I want to do what I want to do, even if you tell me I can't. I'll explain to you that I really want to do it. If I don't convince you and you still tell me I can't, I'll be devastated and cry. And you'll feel like an ass.

I'm not interested in being potty trained. This way's more convenient, anyway.

If I don't come when you call it's because what I'm doing is more important than dinner or bath or whatever it is you want me to do. If you yell or start counting to 3 real loud I'll cry and you'll feel like an ass.

I'm two. Deal with it.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Welcome Cecilia James Bittle

Our life has officially become a sit-com. Cecilia James was born on Thursday, October 30 at 5:59 am. Mother and daughter are healthy and happy. Clara thought the new baby was interesting but was more excited about going trick-or-treating. Kate was smitten with her new sister immediately, kissing her over and over. Some pictures:

And some obligatory Halloween pics:

Ladybug, Minnie Mouse, Cinderella, and Handy Manny (aka Kate, Lucy, Clara, and Miles):

The sad face of candy over-consumption: