It occurred to me the other day that as a parent of a toddler, you have to have some pretty thick skin and the patience of a saint.
For example, my three-year-old daughter, Sadie, recently informed me that my teeth looked like corn.
"Really?" I asked. "Yes, Daddy, she replied earnestly. "They are yellow, like corn!" I made a mental note to drink less coffee and book myself in right away for a bit of teeth whitening!
Or there was the time I had my shirt off and she recoiled in horror when I tried to hug her. Apparently my armpits were too hairy: "I do not like your pits, Daddy, they are too furry!" This time, I made a mental note to pay more attention to personal grooming, lest I look like I'm smuggling a chinchilla or two under my arms.
Can you imagine if a loved one or co-worker told you that your teeth were yellow and they were disgusted by your hairy armpits? You'd be indignant, at the very least, but when a child says it, we find their candor refreshing and downright cute! (Hey, try it for a week and see how many of your friends and family are still speaking to you after you've told them the truth, and nothing but the truth, mental edit button be damned!)
Even my arrival home from work can be a bit of a crap shoot, eliciting everything from unbridled elation ("Daddy's home!"-- big hugs, kisses, etc.); sheer terror ("No, not Daddy!" -- runs screaming from the room); bemused indifference ("Yeah, hi daddy, whatevs" -- goes back to watching Yo Gabba Gabba); and inexplicable fury ("I do not want to see Daddy" -- arms crossed defiantly, brow furrowed in obvious contempt).
In fact, I recently opined to a friend that getting Sadie to do something she doesn't want to is like negotiating with a terrorist. God forbid if she's asked to speak to me on the phone while I'm at work.
She'll either clap both hands firmly over her ears and run from the room, or she'll take the phone and listen impassively to my paternal patter, which most often, is met with the sort of heavy breathing that would make Michael Myers proud. In fact, phone calls from grandparents are often preceded by frantic, whispered promises of Easter treats and other delights, in exchange for a precious minute or two of conversation with said grandparent.
I think Sadie's become a master negotiator ("Make it TWO Easter eggs and an extra episode of Max and Ruby, and I will speak to Grandpa!") and the only thing missing from these intense negotiations is a plane, gassed up and waiting at the airport and the release of political prisoners in Yemen!
It's not all bad, however. It seems that Sadie quite likes my beer belly which she deemed to be "nice and big and furry." So for those keeping track at home, belly fur is good, but armpit fur is not. Hey, I also get free pedicures, with my choice of nail polish liberally applied with the aplomb of a drunken sailor on shore leave. (Erm, I'm not entirely sure drunken sailors actually give each other pedicures, but you get my point.)
The other week, while getting changed for Sadie's swimming lesson at the local Y, I was horrified to discover that I'd forgotten to remove her previous day's handiwork and had to parade past the other parents sporting painted toe nails that would make even Tammy Faye Baker blush. (As an aside, I'm suddenly aghast at the mental picture you must have of me -- a hirsute, beer-bellied dude with teeth the colour of corn and garishly painted toe nails... Not the most flattering, is it? But I digress...)
So from yellow teeth and armpit fur, to hairy bellies and painted toe nails, it's been nothing short of a whirlwind adventure and well worth it.
I'm sure if you're a fellow parent, you've shared many of the same experiences; and if you're not a parent, fear not!
This blog will not be all things toddler, for that would be far too predictable (and let's be honest, a bit boring for everyone). In the coming weeks and months, I hope to talk about the things that interest me, and hopefully they will, in turn, interest you.
Music, entertainment, real estate, my new life in Hamilton (my wife and I recently moved there from Toronto), and yeah, probably the odd tale of my life as a dad. I hope you enjoy it and I look forward to your comments!