Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dads & Communication

Dads need a little help communicating sometimes. That must have been what was going through the mind of my 3-year-old nephew this weekend when he visited along with his baby brother, father and mother.

Age 3 is a great age. Kids this age say the darndest things. And apparently, so do their parents. Case in point.

As a teacher, my brother-in-law takes the time to try and explain everything to his oldest son in terms he thinks said boy can understand. This weekend, the family drove past a display of airplanes. My BIL pointed out the planes and said “Did you know your uncle used to fly planes?”

You mean he went places, said superior 3-year-old nephew.

“Yes, he went places. But he was the person who flew the plane when he went places. He was the guy who drove the plane.”

You mean he was a pilot?


Then you have those dads who communicate a little too much. Case in point number 2.

I’ve just picked up my daughter and stepdaughter from art classes this summer. We’re on the way home when I start reminding MiniMe that she needs to complete some of the workbook her dad got her when we get home.

In an attempt to keep our girl up to speed educationally, her dad bought her a workbook to use during the summer to help her with math and handwriting – two areas she struggles with. I didn’t say anything to her dad, but since she is MiniMe, math and handwriting are essentially a lost cause. Considering that I only got through my college math requirements by bribing the nerdy teacher’s assistant with his favorite ice cream and my flirtatious attention, her math genes are seriously in doubt. In the area of handwriting, I’ve been told I have the handwriting of a serial killer. But I can type 120 wpm. So again, while there’s not much hope she’ll ever be able to write legibly, in this day and age when texting and other forms of electronic communication are the only way the younger set actually relates to each other, she’s probably covered.

Still, dad bought the workbook and expresses great frustration in my direction anytime she’s spent the week with me and there’s been no workbook progress.

So to avoid the evil eye from my Baby Daddy, I prompt MiniMe to get going on the workbook.

“You know, when your dad comes to pick you up tomorrow afternoon I’m going to get a lecture from him if you haven’t done your workbook” I say. Ok, probably not the best mothering in the world, but hey, it’s the truth.

Mom, why does Dad have to talk so much when he’s mad at me, asks MiniMe.

“Well, when your dad is disappointed or mad, he tries to explain to you why he’s upset calmly, rationally and he tries to reason with you. At least he doesn’t yell and punish when he gets mad like Mommy does.”

But Mom, I hate it when dad lectures me. He talks and talks and talks and I think he’s never going to stop. It’s so annoying!

(True, but here’s where my few moments of stellar parenting are about to kick in!)

“Yes, but isn’t it better to have dad calmly talk to you when he’s upset rather than what happens when Mommy gets mad? Mommy's face turns purple, you get the mean Mommy face, I yell and then punish you by taking away dessert for the rest of the week.”

Without missing a beat, she says No, I’d rather have punishment than one of daddy’s never ending talks. I hate it when he lectures!

At this point, my stepdaughter who’s been unusually quiet in the backseat pipes up.

“Yea, and at least your way we can see it coming. We can usually tell when we’re doing something wrong and you’re starting to get mad.”

You can see if from a mile away Babe! True that!

I guess when it comes to parental discipline, I’m the outrageous “soundbite” parent, and Baby Daddy is the dissertation dad. Ying and yang.

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