Sunday, October 5, 2008

One Kid At A Time.

People always ask my wife and I if we're planning on "going for" kid #3. Or my personal favorite... "now that you guys have two girls, aren't you going to try for a boy?" I say, “Bite me!” The thought of it makes my tiny little brain ache. I love my daughters even more than hockey but two is certainly more than enough for me.

I appreciate the thought. It’s actually sweet for a second, in a Brady Bunch sort of way but I just can’t get past the plain fact that my TWO kids sometimes drive me crazy.

The big realization I've been dealing with lately is the simple fact that I enjoy my kids much more when I'm with either of them one on one. I'm not totally positive why this is or what it means in the big scheme of things but I do know that for the most part it's true. I do admit that I feel badly saying this out loud or in this particular case, to the blogesphere. Dad's are supposed to cherish family time. Things like picnics, BBQ's in the backyard or a family night out at the local Applebees. Whatever the case, it's what you're supposed to live for. No? Then why is it, lately , when we're all together as a family, I want to bludgeon myself to death with a Kooky Pen? (How useless are these Kooky Pens anyway? Have you ever seen a kid play with one? Let alone write with it?) I'm not sure why when we all get together in a room it all goes to hell in a hand basket.

The other day, I spent the afternoon with my little one and it couldn't have been more delightful. We went for a walk. We dined at the local Pizza Parlor. We shared ices. We genuinely enjoyed each other's company. All I kept thinking about was how great it was to have some alone time with her. Granted, she's not even two years old, so it's not too difficult to fill the gaps in conversation with things like... a nap or The Doodlebops but at the time it seemed pretty darn special.

The very next day, I spent some good solid father / daughter time with my oldest. Our destination for the afternoon was Camp Family Fun Day. This is the day that the entire family is invited to check out the camp and participate in tons of "fun" activities. Activities like swimming in the pool with thirty screaming pre-schoolers, making dirt cups (crushed cookies, pudding and gummy worms) and climbing the Rock Wall. Exactly what I want to do with my weekend. Either way, she was pretty pumped about it, so I was too. As it turns out, we had a pretty awesome time.

When I'm with my kids one on one, I feel like there's a mutual respect between us. No one is trying to out-smart each other or blow up the house. It's just good times. Kind of like the Lowenbrau commercials.

So what's the problem? It seems pretty simple in theory. Take the great times you have alone with Kid #1 and combine it with the ultra smooth sailing experience you have with Kid #2, add one part loving wife and voila! You have the perfect family experience. As a matter of fact, it should be super easy to come out ahead two on two, right? Venus and Serena seem to do just fine.

I hate to throw more useless analogies at y'all but it's kind of like juggling. You know when your cute little kid says to you, "Hey Daddy. Look, I can juggle." Then you look at them and realize they are only using two balls. So you say, "That's great sweetie. I'm so proud of you." But what you really want to do is throw that third ball into the mix and show them that it's NOT that simple. That's kind of like what it's like when you add the second kid into the mix. It just changes the dynamic. There's got to be some scientific theory that explains why it's NOT that simple. I just don't know what it is and I doubt we're racing against the Germans to find the answer.

It just feels like when you're with more than one kid at a time, you go from being a parent to being a babysitter. You switch from bonding to surviving. Most of the time, when both of our kids are in the room with us, my wife and I can't have a conversation with each other for more than two seconds. As a matter of fact, we almost never talk directly to each other unless we utter words like, "look out!" or "can I go pee?" or "did she poop?"

I suppose it has to get easier as they get older but then again I keep hearing the opposite. "Especially with girls" or "you just wait until they are teenagers", my peers tell me. Maybe I just need to chill out or maybe we need to spend more of our time one on one... or maybe, as always, I'm just Out-Numbered.