Way of the peaceful toddler

Periodically, one or more of my boys will spend an hour or two at work with me while my wife does the things she has to do to bring home some extra bacon for our household. Despite what I just made that sound like, she is not a call girl. She does perfectly legal work, on top of the work of managing three boys every day.

Last week, Buster spent a couple of hours with me. My bosses are pretty tolerant of my trailing a duckling behind me once in a while, but I still like for the children to be as inconspicuous as possible. It’s a handy privilege that I don’t want to lose.

To that end, my wife sent her iPad with Buster so he could play games on it while I got some work done. It’s a good theory, and it worked reasonably well for a while. The problem is that Buster only mostly knows how to play the iPad games. There is a point in every game when he gets stuck. Then he gets frustrated. Frustrated two-year-olds are not good at keeping themselves inconspicuous.

a day at the office

They pick up on things so quickly. Eyeing the telephone with suspicion is one of the keys to surviving an office job.

In order to keep Buster from voicing his frustration in his most piercing toddler voice, I rolled my chair over to him and encouraged him to take deep breaths. “Breathe in. Breathe out. Like this. Whoooooo. Ahhhhhhh. Doesn’t that feel better?”

I may have over-exaggerated the depth of the breaths I demonstrated and he found this amusing.

Before long, he was copying my deep breathing and smiling his bright smile. He was forgetting his frustration and enjoying the breathing game I was playing with him. Of course, it was useful because it was a game; he wouldn’t draw the connection to the calming properties of the deep breaths themselves.

In this way, we eked out the remaining time without any loud whining. My wife picked him up. I took a few calming, deep breaths and went back to work.

Now, Buster is a sweet boy, but he is also a toddler. And you can’t spell toddler without issues. (All of the non-parents are saying, “Wait, what? There’s only one common letter in those two words.” Ah, the innocent spelling rules of non-parents.)

One of Buster’s issues is that he often wakes up angry from naps.

Soon after I got home from work, we heard crying from Buster’s room. I went to rescue him from his nap, but he wouldn’t talk to me nor come to me when I put my arms out for him. I told him to come downstairs when he was ready and left him on his bed to work out his feelings.

A few minutes later, my wife went to check on him. She brought him down with her. He was much more relaxed.

“What was he doing up there?” I asked.

She laughed. “He was sitting on his bed taking deep breaths.”

Sometimes it’s Daddy who isn’t ready to draw the connections.

Books: so much more appealing when they have covers

Occasionally I take a post off from Daddy Blogging in order to talk about blogging or writing in general. This usually happens when another blogger tags me for some type of event that’s going around the blogging community. Then, I put the kids to bed and talk about my blogging process or the writing life.

This is like that, but different. I’m taking off the Daddy Blogger hat, but not at the behest of other bloggers. I’m doing it on my own, in order to make some exciting announcements.

The thing about me and announcements is I’m not very good at them. They make me nervous. People will know my plans, so now I have to follow through on them. I’d rather finish my projects and then say, “See? That’s what I did.” But that doesn’t build any hype, and hype is part of marketing, and marketing is what you’re supposed to do at times like this. So I’m told by successful writers.

And I want to be successful.

So, announcements.

We have cover art!

Last time I took off the Daddy Blogger hat, I mentioned that I’m working on publishing a new book. It seems like I’ve been working on publishing this book forever. One of the delays was finding the right artist to do the cover. I finally found her. Her name is Jessica O’Brien. She did this awesome artwork.




I just have to get the final proofing done and we’ll finally have a book. Cross your fingers.

And when will this final proofing be done? Ha! You actually expect a man with my dread of announcements to give a date? Don’t worry; I’ll make an announcement.

I’m working on a new blog.

As part of this book rollout, I’ve replaced my author website with a new WordPress blog. My static website was a completely amateurish endeavor, built by me, a completely amateurish web designer. In moving to WordPress I hope to do more with less (time and money). That savings should allow me to maintain two blogs at once. We’ll see about that, won’t we?

At the other blog, I will be writing about writing. If that’s the sort of thing that excites you, you probably have issues, so you should go here www.scottnagele.com and click “follow” right away.

This blog will remain.

I’m proud of this blog. It’s not the most widely read blog, but I think it has its entertaining moments. (Click the Index of Posts tab at the top to see everywhere it’s been.) But when you are trying to publish a book, write another one, transition a website, work a full-time job, and raise three boys, time can get tight. (Note to the homeowners association: this has nothing to do with why my lawn is eight inches high; it rains every time I try to mow, so tell it to the weatherman.)

I cut down to posting once per week here over the summer. Maybe once my obsession with this new book eases, I’ll be able to post more. I hope so, because Daddy Blogging is the most fun writing I do.

P.S. My apologies to those who read the title and thought this would be a fun post about toddlers tearing the covers off books.

A night in the life

[Once again we are joined by our special guest blogger, Buster: age 2.]

I slept in a big-boy bed last night. It was exciting but also scary.

I sometimes wake up in the night. I’m not sure why. I’m still very tired, but I wake up all of a sudden. The parents tell me I should just lay down and go back to sleep. That’s easy for them to say; they don’t remember the confusion about your surroundings when you’re two and you open your eyes to darkness all around. Especially if you just had a weird dream.

You guys think you have weird dreams. It’s a good thing you don’t remember the dreams you had at my age. My dreams are completely off the hook.

The cool thing about a big-boy bed is that I don’t have to wait for somebody to rescue me when I’m upset at night. The first time I woke up last night, I slid right out of bed. My parents always keep their door ajar, so I just bulldozed through it like it was nothing. I was snuggled in between Mama and Daddy, lickety-split. I didn’t even have to cry.

the place where I used to live

Bye, bye, crib!

Later, I woke up again. I was back in my own bed, which was kind of freaky. I got a little wigged out and started to cry. Daddy came and took me back to bed with him and Mama. I couldn’t get calmed down right away and they got frustrated that I wouldn’t use my words instead of crying.

Well, here’s the thing about my words: I have a good vocabulary, but don’t like wasting a lot of time on consonants when I talk. Speech would be lots more efficient if we focused on vowel sounds. K is an exceptionally bad consonant. T isn’t so bad, so I often use it in place of k. No big deal, right? Why try over spilled milt?

The upshot is that when I’m excited or scared, my parents don’t always understand my words. On top of that, my vocabulary is heavy on nouns and verbs. Things like “I want” and “Give me” and “M&Ms”. You know, the important stuff. I haven’t gotten around to the conceptual words yet – the ones that explain why you woke up confused, or all the funky stuff that just went down in your dreams.

new digs

Hello, big boy bed!

So I do the best I can with body language. I try to make them understand that sometimes, in the uncertain world between dreams, I just need to reassured. I need to be held by one of the people in whom I place all of my faith to make the world right. Maybe I just need to hold one of the hands that keeps me safe.

I know they wish I could just roll over and go back to sleep. Maybe now that I can get up and go to them whenever I need to, it will get easier to do that.

On the other hand, I’m not saying I’m ready to give up the middle spot in their bed just yet.

Your crime spree is over, Daddy

Every so often, your kids gets a toy that is so fun he has to use it on you. All the time.

You reassure yourself that he’ll lose or break it soon enough and the suffering fun will end.

My son’s fun toy is his handcuffs. He got them in July. He has neither broken nor lost them. I’m getting worried.

Big Brother loves TV shows about police. He doesn’t get to watch the modern, in-your-face shows, but he is content with Adam 12. He would probably even watch CHiPs, if he ever discovered those reruns. Thankfully, he hasn’t.

These programs inspire him to break out the cuffs. Since his little brothers can easily slip their hands out of them, it is left to Daddy to always be a criminal. Daddy, it turns out, is quite a bad bank robber – bad in that he robs banks almost daily, and also bad in that he gets arrested every time. He is incorrigible and incompetent.

The last time we played cops and robbers, Big Brother deputized Buster to be on his police force. As he was fumbling to get the cuffs onto my compliant hands, he pointed out his new partner, “This is Officer Wawa.”

Officer Wawa didn’t have nice, store-bought hand cuffs, but he did have a stick, which doubled as a gun and a Billy Club. It may also have been a Taser, as I found him poking me with it rather sharply.

Don't mess with Officer Wawa. He will put you in solitary, down in the hole, if he has to.

Don’t mess with Officer Wawa. He will put you in solitary, down in the hole, if he has to.

There was no sense in holding a trial for such a notorious felon as myself, so I was immediately transported to prison. “Here you are,” Big Brother announced as he fumbled to take the cuffs off. “This is Springfield Beginners’ Prison.”

I suspect it was in Springfield because The Simpsons had just been on. And it only made sense that I should start out in a beginners’ prison since, in spite of my many crimes, I had never been exposed to prison life before.

I kind of liked beginners’ prison. It was mostly a driveway with a basketball hoop. And since I had the foresight to bring a basketball, I did my time working on my jump shot. It was not an unpleasant experience.

follow through

Working on my follow-through in the yard of Springfield Beginners’ Prison.

Until the cop with the handcuffs came back.

He told me, on the sly, that I could escape when he wasn’t looking. I was happy where I was, so I didn’t try it. He got a little impatient and told me again, so I figured maybe that was the expected thing at beginners’ prison.

At the first opportunity, I just walked away. I got a few steps onto the lawn before he came after me. Officer Wawa, who had been sifting through a pile of pine needles, found his stick and followed. Before I knew it, I was in cuffs again. For good measure, I got clubbed, or tased; I’m not sure which.

That was enough for me. I made all the cops put down their sticks and go to bed early.

happy birthday

No, son, you may not have one of these for your birthday.