Category Archives: Terrible Twos

First Friends…

Two years ago, probably around this time of year even, I met a dude who really helped me get out of a very dark place. Greta was just entering the terrible twos, Mrs. Yeti was desperately trying to get the hang of the delicate work/kid balancing act that has since become her life and I was literally drowning in my newfound role of primary care giver. And though I never did anything really crazy to myself or Greta (thank God!) there were days when I felt like Luke Skywalker facing the darkness of his soul in a hollowed out tree on Degobah. All kidding aside, it got pretty hairy.

I loved Greta with all my heart (and still do, of course) but, there were days when I’d sit and stare at the calendar and think: this is it. What you are doing today is the same thing you’re going to be doing tomorrow and every other day after that until you kid goes to school. Dishes. Diapers. Bottles. Repeat. I felt like I was on a punishing loop with no end in sight.

I tried talking to people about how I felt (family and friends mostly) and I think a few of them actually understood what I was trying to say. But, even with them I held things back for fear of sounding too whiny or ungrateful. I mean, we had tried for five years to have Greta, how could I even think of complaining about anything now that she was here? Plus, at that stage all most people really want are current pictures and cute little anecdotes about which milestones Greta had reached that week. Which is totally understandable. I mean, I love sharing that stuff too. But, deep down, all I really wanted to talk about was how totally crazy and isolated I felt for like, 90% of my day.

I tried talking about it with Mrs. Yeti many times, but, as I’ve said before, she was on the same sinking ship that I was. Except she got much less sleep and had to work a full time job on top of everything else. Probably the best thing Mrs. Yeti ever did for me was to tell me, point blank that she did not have time for my problems. And while it stung at first, I totally got it. I didn’t have time for hers either. It’s like that thing they always say in airline safety videos, put on your own oxygen mask first, then help the person next to you. I know now that she was way too busy fumbling with her mask back then to even think about helping me with mine.

That said, Mrs. Yeti did say something else that ended up really helping me out a lot. “If its really that bad, start a blog. Write about it.” She said. “Or better yet, join a Daddy Meetup group or something.” I ended up doing all three but the thing that really saved me from my crazy-ass self was joining that Daddy Meetup group. As I’ve mentioned before, I had a hard time finding the right fit (yes, I’m talking to you, Burbank/Hollywood Dads!) but once I did, it was awesome.

I joined a group called the West L.A. Stay-At-Home-Dads and even though the Meetups were clear on the other side of town, the guys in the group were the most real, down-to-earth dudes I’ve ever met. There was no bullshit, no egos or Hollywood posturing, these guys were regular working dudes (animators, musicians, stuntmen, graphic artists, even fellow writers) who’d been banging around the industry for a while and were now tackling the hardest job of their careers, being a full time stay-at-home-dad. And even though we rarely talked about anything other than movies or Star Wars — or, more recently, the intricacies and hidden messages embedded in My Little Pony cartoons — the fact that we could all find some time every couple of weeks to hang out with people who truly understood what we were going through was invaluable. Hell, two years later, it still is.

Actually, the meetups today are even better because our kids grew up together, they’ve been friends for almost their entire lives. And the friendships the dads have formed over the past two years are stronger too. We might not have known each other for our whole lives, but, definitely our whole lives as parents, which, often times feels like a lifetime in itself. And though none of us ever really verbalized it, deep down we were all eternally grateful to our “founding father” Corey for starting the group. Most of us were way too busy treading water to even think about stating a Meetup group, but Corey wanted to start “the kind of group he’d want to join” so he built it, and, as the saying goes, we came. In droves!

So it was with a heavy heart that the group said goodbye to Corey and his beautiful daughter Katana on Monday. Corey and his family are moving to the Philippines in a couple of weeks, and though we’re all hoping they come back to L.A. real soon, I’m thinking it might be a while before we share a lazy afternoon chasing after our daughters in our favorite park in Westwood again.

So, thank you, dude. You really did save my life and I will always cherish the many hours and days we spent hanging out in parks all across the Southland with our sweet baby girls (who now insist on calling themselves “big girls”). Katana was and always will be Greta’s first best friend and, despite the miles and timezones between us, you, amigo, will always be mine. Keep on adventuring, brother!

West L.A. Stay-At-Home-Dads (March 25, 2013)

And in case anybody reading this is looking for a stay-at-home-dad group to hang with in the L.A. Metro area, Corey asked me to be in charge of the group now that he’s leaving (here’s hoping I don’t destroy all the good that he’s done!) and you can reach us at our new Facebook Group page here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/WestLAstayathomedads/

So, if you’re interested in joining or know someone who might be, check it out! And thanks again to Corey for starting all this awesomeness…you will be missed, dude.

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Filed under Daddy stuff, Good Baby, Good Girl, Good Toddler, Terrible Twos

New digs and a dog too!

Moved from our hotel to the upper west side apartment of our good friend’s Justin & Nadine on Wednesday night. Their place is very cute and super small, but it has tons of windows, is one block away from a major subway line and Central Park, and best if all, they have a sweet, gigantic dog named Kismet.

I’m not sure what breed Kismet is, but, Greta is already wildly in love with her. The only problem is that she thinks poor old Kismet (she’s nine human years old) is a boy. Greta keeps saying: “Good boy, Kismet! Good boy!” Our friend Justin tried correcting her a few times, but then totally gave up. Boy, girl, who cares…as long as the kid ain’t crying everyone’s happy.

And speaking of Greta being happy…she’s still getting wiggy around the dinner hour, but she has been going to bed much earlier since we moved and it seems to be helping her tantrums. A little. I wouldn’t say she’s been the best toddler in the city this trip, but, she’s trying.

Amazingly, we’ve also all been sleeping way better sleep since we left the hotel. I don’t know if it’s the quieter neighborhood — the upper west side is like the country compared to Times Square — or what, but the three of us are sleeping way better on a shared Aerobed than we ever did in a fancy, King-sized bed at The Paramount. Go figure…

Oh, and one more thing that makes us all sleep way better are our nightly walks in Central Park with Justin and Kismet. Dogs can go leash-less after dark in the park, so Kismet just takes off running with a barefoot Greta in hot pursuit. It’s the cutest thing ever, but more importantly, it puts both of them, baby and dog, right to sleep when we come home. Yay!

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Filed under Bad Baby, Daddy stuff, Good Baby, Terrible Twos

Coney Island Meltdown

OK, I know that many of you are gonna blame what I am about to describe on Greta’s lack of normal sleep the past few days, and you might be right, but I am laying the blame squarely in the terrible twos category. That said, let me tell ya what happened.

It was day two of our adventures in NYC, Greta and I got our usual late start, grabbed some breakfast and then hopped on the subway’s N line to the last stop, Coney Island! Mrs. Yeti didn’t have any real interest in coming with us — and, I’ll admit it, the hour-long train ride there is no picnic — so, we planned this adventure for a day when she was working.

And what an adventure it was, chili dogs and fresh lemonade at the first Nathan’s Hot Dog stand in the country, cotton candy, kiddie rides for $3.00 a pop, and all the beautiful, old-school boardwalk and beach you could stomach. It was awesome! Yeah, some of the neon is definitely faded and the place is a little sketchy in spots, but, the people working there were great and we had a blast. Until the sun started going down…

I dunno what happened to her, but, after one final ride on the merry-go-round, Greta went, I believe the clinical term for it is, ape-shit crazy. She started screaming that she wanted to ride more rides (which was literally impossible since I had no more cash on me) and then ran off in the direction of the Bumble Bee ride, which was her favorite.

I picked her up, she hit me. I threw her over my shoulder to carry her, she kicked me. It was crazy, but, it was getting dark and I knew we had a long-ass train ride back to the city, so, I needed her to behave. Of course, that’s what made her more determined than ever not to!

So, we start heading to the subway station, her screaming bloody murder, me trying to stuff her into her stroller and all of our crap toppling over every time she kicks herself free of it. And for the next five or ten minutes on that boardwalk, I was “that Dad” and she was “that toddler”, duking it out like a couple of wild, red-faced hillbillies.

I swear to God, EVERYONE within listening distance stopped to watch the bad dad trying to get his hell child to bend to his will and obey him. At one point, I literally did not know what to do. She had knocked my hat and sunglasses off, the stroller was laying on it’s side and she was kicking and screaming so wildly that I almost couldn’t hold her. I’ve been at “this job” for two-plus-years now, and trust me, I’ve never seen a meltdown like this…it was brutal.

I tried reasoning with her, I tried spanking her, I tried changing the subject — you know, talking about the good times we’d had that day, her favorite movies, how nice our male maid was at the hotel, anything — but, nothing worked. And then, I spotted a “Dunkin’ Donuts” across the street and in a desperate, last-ditch effort to change the subject, I found a subject we could both agree on. “Hey, you want a donut?” I panted as she flailed in my arms.

Suddenly, she stopped cold and said, in a totally calm voice: “Yes, I want a donut.” And just like that, the tears and craziness melted away. She sat down in her stroller (even buckling herself in) and we crossed the street and got a donut for her and a big-ass iced coffee with extra Valium for me.

Whew…what a day…

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Filed under Bad Baby, Daddy stuff, Terrible Twos

Troubled Sleep II: The Revenge

And…just like that, they’re back. That’s right, amigos…the sleepless nights have returned to our house. I dunno if it means she’s getting ready for another growth spurt or what, but, Greta just will not go to bed. We tried putting her down earlier, we tried later, and last night, we tried really, really late (not by choice, I might add) but nothing is working.

Complicating matters even more is the fact that ever since we came home from Oregon, she will not go to sleep in her own bed. It’s “Mommy’s bed” or nothing for her and seeing as we are about to spend ten days in New York City, where we will no doubt be sharing a bed, it seemed kinda pointless to break her of the “Mommy’s bed” habit now. Or was it? I mean, should we have forced her into her own bed for two weeks between trips? I dunno…all I know is that I’m so fucking tired I needed toothpicks to keep my eyes open today. Seriously, I look like a sleepy-eyed dog cartoon character…

The one good thing is that once she falls asleep in our bed, she stays asleep, even when I move her back to her bed before I go to sleep. Of course, last night, that didn’t happen. I did the swap out from our bed to her crib, then about half an hour later was awoken by the sound of her SCREAMING. Holy shit, I just about wet the bed. So scary! Especially amplified over the video monitor. Yikes…

So, I run back in there and she says there was a bug buzzing in her ear and that there were bugs all over her comforter too. Hmmm…if that’s true, then Daddy is grabbing you and running the other way, I think to myself. But, like the brave Daddy that I am (ha!) I check her bed for bugs and, thankfully, find none. So, guess where Little-Miss-Vivid-Nightmares ended up sleeping? That’s right…squished between me and mommy in “Mommy’s bed”.

Oh, and here’s the best part, she woke up way earlier than normal this morning in a horrible, spitting-mad mood. Ah, the joys of parenthood…

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Filed under Bad Baby, Daddy stuff, Mommy Stuff, Terrible Twos

“Grey Gardens” Greta

Spent most of the morning trying to convince Greta that her gigantic, two-and-a-half-year-old noggin is just too big to fit into her favorite 6-12 month-sized dress. And lemme tell ya, it was brutal. Tears, yelling, throwing, more tears, and that was only on my end. So, finally, I give in and let her wear her favorite dress exactly the way she wants to.

And this, my friends, is what it looked like. Eat your heart out, Little Edie!

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Filed under Daddy stuff, Good Baby, Terrible Twos

Family Road Trip Rule #1: When in doubt…bribe!

Hit the road last week for our annual road trip to Oregon to visit my wife’s family. It’s a long-ass drive, but we love road trips (yes, even with a two-year-old in tow) and the time spent just hanging out with the niece, nephews and assorted brothers and sisters-in-law on the family farm is kind of, well, rejuvenating. I don’t know if it’s the country air or what, but, man alive, do we go home relaxed!

Anyway, I firmly believe that a huge part of the adventure is the actual act of driving there — seriously, we have found that even short-jaunt road trips are great for the soul — and since no one wants to have their soul-cleansing road trip ruined by a screaming toddler, I give you, Family Road Trip Rule # 1: When in doubt…bribe!

I don’t care what your kid’s favorite thing is (be it a food item, a beverage, toy or DVD) but secretly pack a lot of them in your car before you leave. Emphasis on the secret part, if they know how many you’ve packed, your screwed. Bribery only works when your child thinks that the desired item they will do anything for is in very limited supply. So hide your loot well!

Right now, Greta will do almost anything you ask her to for a Trader Joe’s Organic Fruit Leather. I don’t know exactly why she loves them so, but she’d seriously take a bullet for the strawberry variety…it’s crazy.

So, we packed 25 of them in a secret stash in the car, and the minute she acts up or won’t finish her meal or, well, any time she’s just being a typical two-year-old on an eight-and-a-half hour car ride, we bribe her. “Greta…if you do blank, we’ll give you a fruit leather.” we purr in her screaming, red-faced direction, and she calms down almost instantly.

If I wasn’t so happy it worked, I might be a little freaked out by it, but at the end of the day…it works. Like a fucking charm. Every. Single. Time. So, who cares why?

With order restored in our car, we crank up the tunes and resume our lovely road trip in peace…or, you know, until the next big blow up.

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Filed under Bad Baby, Good Baby, Intuitive Parenting, Terrible Twos

Slightly less troubled sleep…

Hooray! The good news is that Greta fell asleep in her own bed tonight after only three very calm (on my part) “back-in-the-crib” with you interactions. The bad news is that that third time was a fucking killer, man! Yikes…

The minute I chucked her back in her crib, our little angel climbed out and screamed and shook and pounded on her closed bedroom door until it sounded like she might just rip it from it’s hinges — I’d apologize to my upstairs neighbors for the noise, but their kids were way worse than Greta at her age, so I figure it’s Karmic revenge — so, what did we do while all this mayhem unfolded in the next room? You guessed it, we totally ignored her.

It wasn’t easy — her tearful pleas to sleep in “Mommy/Daddy’s bed” were the most heartbreaking — but we stuck to our guns and sat together on the couch with the Tivo on pause as she screamed and cried for almost eight minutes. And then, something amazing happened…Greta stopped banging on the door, climbed back into bed and fell asleep on her own. Just like that.

So, we are either the worst parents on earth or the savviest. Either way, we’re all sleeping much, much better tonight…

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Filed under Bad Baby, Daddy stuff, Intuitive Parenting, Terrible Twos