It’s been just about a year since I shared with you the struggles of the first few months of Landon’s life and my parenting experiences. Last October Landon turned one and began crawling, walking, and talking and since that time I have begun enjoying parenting substantially more and wanted to share a few of my favorite moments with you. I hope on some level you can connect with our crazy family fun because I have learned over the last almost two years that it’s the small moments and the silly things that bring us closer together. I’m sure you have quite a few stories similar to mine and I hope if you take the time to read this you’ll post a comment and let me know about some of your favorite experiences.
So, in no particular order here are my Favorite Parenting Moments of 2011--so far:
The Remote – For the last few months Landon has been greedily eying the TV remote despite its status as a “no touch” item in our house. Sometimes he’ll pick up the remote and cross the room to give it to me. While walking my way he let’s me know that he’s aware of his transgression by furling his eyebrows, shaking his head, and saying “no no.” I decided after a few months of torturing him I’d give him his own remote. The notable difference between his remote and mine is that his doesn’t work (don’t tell him, he hasn’t figured it out yet). Each morning when he wakes up I take him to the living room and turn on the news. I tell him to get his remote and he faithfully hunts down the cheap plastic remote, aims it in the direction of the television, and pushes hard on the buttons. Standing beside him I use my remote to turn on the TV and we exchange high-five’s. This small gesture makes Landon feels like he’s been part of something special and I enjoy seeing his happily lit-up face. At some point I figure I’ll tell him that he’s pointing the remote towards himself.
Corduroy – When Landon was born some good friends of ours gave us a hugely over sized version of the children’s book Corduroy. The pages are now torn from overuse but it remains a Landon favorite and faithfully almost every day he brings this book over to be read. What makes this a favorite for me is that Landon has put together a complex series of hand motions and gestures for the different pages. When Corduroy sets out in search of his button and lands on the moving escalator Landon excitedly runs his hand up the page mimicking the motion. As Corduroy arrives in a vast room of tables and chairs Landon points at each object naming couches, tables, and lamps before we turn the page to the most dramatic plot point. If you’re familiar with the story the bear climbs onto a mattress and begins tugging at a button thinking it’s his. When the button pops off sending Corduroy toppling to the floor Landon throws himself around yelling “boom!” imitating the character’s fall going completely limp in my arms. Each time I experience this page I think to myself, this kid might just be destined for the stage. His performance notwithstanding the best page in this book is the last page. The story ends with two characters hugging and as my little guy observes this he lets out an “awww” and leans over to give me a hug. I’ll take hugs any way I can get them.
Sneaking Around – Landon likes to think he’s good at sneaking up on Mommy, so it’s hilarious to watch him try. When he wants to be sneaky he jumps in my arms, says “shhhhh” extremely loud and we enter whatever room our supposedly unsuspecting victim is occupying. Unfortunately halfway across the room he usually let’s out a loud “Mommy!” and ruins the surprise. We’ve tried every thinkable scenario possible to surprise Mommy but so far, it’s a no go. But hey, that’s okay—it’s fun to be part of a conspiracy with an almost 2 year old.
The Goodbye Wave – each morning right before I leave I make a cup of coffee for the road and grab my briefcase/shoulder bag/man bag and head for the door. Landon has picked up on these cues and usually arrives by the front door in time to give me a kiss and say goodbye. As I pull out of the driveway he climbs onto the couch that sits in front a window and with a huge smile waves as fast as his little arms will allow. A wave and a smile as my last sight of home each morning starts the day out well.
Shaving – It’s never too early to start teaching kids grooming habits, right? On a typical morning I pull out my electric razor to clean up and if Landon hears the razor he comes running with his arms up. I pick him up, finish shaving while he oohs and aahs, and ask him if he wants a shave. The answer is almost always yes so after turning the power off I run the razor across his face. He beams with pride at shaving with daddy and when we’re done we go show Mommy our clean-shaven faces proving we are ready to knock ‘em dead.
My last two favorite parenting moments of the year are some games that somehow developed in our household and which bring a lot of joy to us as a family. I’m sure that your family has these kinds of games and I’d encourage you to treasure them and write them down so you can remember these small fun times together.
The Kissing Game – Landon is pretty good at giving out cheek kisses on demand so our house isn’t terribly lacking in affection. That said Daddy and Mommy are always anxious to get as much affection from the little guy as possible because we know at some point he’s going to turn into a teenager. The Kissing Game usually starts when my wife or I ask Landon for a kiss. When Landon complies with the request the other of us acts offended that we did not get a kiss and make the same request. The game gets fun when my wife announces “No kisses for daddy!” and does everything she can to keep Landon from getting to me with a kiss. When he finally gets to me I in turn keep him from getting back to Mommy to give her a kiss. By the end of the game we’re engaged in an affectionate tug-of-war with Landon giggling and smiling at his competing parents. In the last week or two he’s figured out how to feint he’s going to give you a kiss before launching himself towards the other parent. It was inevitable, I suppose, that he would catch on to our tactics and manipulate the game; I guess I’m going to have to work on my strategy.
The Belly Game – This is my personal favorite Schultz family pastime and can be begun by any member of the family. If I choose to initiate the game I usually stand outside the room where Landon is playing and announce in a loud voice “Is there a belly around here?” at which point Landon takes off running hoping he can get a head start on me. If Landon initiates the game he usually comes running around a corner stopping right in front of me and pulling up his shirt exposing his belly yells “bebby!” before taking off at full speed. At this point the chase is on and I run around the house trying to grab Landon as he darts and weaves around coffee tables and into bedrooms. When I catch him (and I always do) he’s in for a good tickling before I release him to run again. The game is best played when I pretend to grow disinterested in chasing him and disappear. As he plows out into the living room to find me I jump out from behind the corner scaring the wits out of him and getting in a good tickle before we start again. The game ends when one of us is out of breath and as a family we’re all laughing together.
My greatest joy as a father comes from seeing my son laugh and play. When he smiles his entire face lights up from ear to ear and his eyes sparkle. These are good moments for us as a family, the kind that build a strong bond and draw us closer together. They aren’t expensive moment and don’t require more from me than a willingness to be playful which I will admit is not always easy after a day of working. I don’t pretend to be a wonderful father but I will say I love to laugh and sharing my love of play and laughter with Landon has been a joy.
These are just a few of my favorite moments with Landon over the last year. I’d love to hear how you’ve found unique ways to connect as a father (or mother) so leave me a story or an idea below, I’m always looking for good suggestions.
Coming up Next: In a tough economy we’ve chosen to stay at home for our vacation and create a cheap but fun week together. Stay tuned for stories, tips, and ideas on vacationing with your toddler close to home.