Positively Communicating to My Seven Month Old Son

July 4, 2011 at 7:54 pm , by 

Seven months.

One of my biggest pet peeves has always been this situation: I’m out in public and see a stranger compliment a young child or baby.  Then the parent responds to the stranger with, “Well you can take him home with you if you like.  He’s a handful.  Nah, he’s pretty good… most of the time.”

I’m not a cursing kind of guy, but just thinking about that scenario makes me want to.  (It also makes me want to break a Two and a Half Men DVD.  But mainly because I hate Two and a Half Men.)

The truth is, I know how to be effectively sarcastic.  After all, I write a weekly Bachelor/Bacheloretterecap every Monday night.  And it’s always very snarky.

But I have a big beef with being sarcastic towards babies and children.  I despise back-handed compliments.  A compliment barbed in an insult or complaint is not a compliment at all.  Constructive criticism is one thing, but sarcastic comments never motivate anyone to improve anything.  Instead, they break a person down.

I worship positive communication; in my marriage, with my friends and family, and even with my infant son who can’t even speak legitimately.

What he hears me say does matter, despite how young he is.  Because if nothing else, I am setting up a pattern of how I will communicate with him as he matures and is able to understand what I am saying.

My wife came up with a good system: We don’t speak to our son in a tone or with words that we would not use to speak to each other.  Because our son is both my wife and me.

Sure, at times our son can frustrate us; especially when we don’t know what he wants or when we can’t get him to sleep.  But it’s a matter of reminding ourselves that A) he didn’t ask to come into this world, B) he can’t communicate how he feels by using words, and C) he’s not trying to offend us.

It’s a matter of feeling sorry for him during these times he frustrates us most.  He needs an “ah, you poor baby” instead of “go to sleep already; you’re driving me crazy!”

Words matter.  They can destroy just as easily as they can heal.  And even for a cheap laugh with a stranger or a friend, I refuse to sell out.

My son is a reward and a joy. Not a joke or a burden.  As his father, I will not always be able to protect him from the cruel and destructive things people will certainly say to him in his lifetime.  But sure as Shazbot, I can be confident he doesn’t hear them from me.

Why Betty White Doesn’t Look 88 Years Old (Yes, She’s a Vegan)

Thank you for being a host.

For me, no episode of SNL could ever be funnier than when Justin Timberlake hosted his first time in 2003.  But finally, thanks to Danish-Greek American actress Betty White, someone has come pretty close.  In fact, her hosting job earned Saturday Night Live its highest number of viewers since November 2008 when John McCain hosted and Tina Fey snuck off the set of 30 Rock to parody Sarah Palin.

It’s not necessarily easy to keep me laughing with TV shows and movies that are supposed to be funny.  But watching sweet little Betty White for nearly 90 minutes was the most consistent “LOLing” I’ve done since the first time I saw I Love You, Man.

Every skit was hilarious: “Delicious Dish”, “MacGruber”, “She’s a Lesbian”, “Scared Straight”, “Thank You for Being a Friend”, “CSI: Sarasota”, “Census”.  Which means all the hype leading up to Betty White’s hosting gig, including the facebook petition and the countless Internet articles speculating her success at hosting, actually were worth it.  Betty White as host of SNL will be right up there with Christopher Walken’s “VH1’s Behind the Music: Blue Oyster Cult” (“more cowbell”) in the SNL Hall of Fame of our minds.

And I was so amazed to find out that Betty White is 88 years old.  It’s natural to say, “But she doesn’t look 88 years old…”

Betty White at the 1988 Emmy's, age 66

I know that’s what I always think of people I see on TV who are celebrating their 100th birthday.  No one who is 100 looks 100.  But what does 88 years old look like?  What does 100 years old look like?

 

Eighty-eight looks like a 68 year-old who hasn’t taken very good care of themselves.  For example, perhaps a regular smoker who after their retirement doesn’t continue to live an active lifestyle both physically and mentally, nor do they take deliberate notice of what they eat and drink.

It involves some circular reasoning: People who look young for their age are usually in shape- and because they are in shape, they look healthier and younger than most people their age- and because choose to stay in shape as they get older, they tend to be the ones who live to be the longest- and they tend to become the longest-living and youngest-looking people.

Enter Betty White, a vegan.  While I could never be that disciplined, I do recognize it’s no coincidence that she’s still so full of life.  And spunk.

On top of that, I’ve learned that people who continue to look younger than their actual age in their younger years, continue to look younger in their older age.  Like Dick Clark (80), Chuck Norris (70), Harrison Ford (67), or Johnny Depp (46).  So of course, genetics is a big part of it.

It’s sort of like a man’s receding hairline.  I’ve noticed that by observing the hairline of 21 year-old man, it is easy to predict how much hair he will have at age 40, 60, and 80.

Looking back at pictures of a young James Taylor, he already had a receding hairline going on.  By his 40’s, he was pretty much completely bald on top.

Robin Williams, who I would say best represents the average American man’s rate of hair loss, showed very minimal signs of balding when he made it big with his sitcom Mork and Mindy back in 1978 at age 27.  But by the time he did One Hour Photo in 2002 at age 50 (one of my favorite “scary” movies, though most people I talk to don’t feel the same way), it was clear he was losing some hair, but that he would not be going completely bald in his adulthood.

In other words, whether it’s a general youthful appearance or an extremely slow rate of hair loss, these “signs of youth” are obvious when a person is a young adult and they stay that way throughout the rest of their lives, given they take care physical and mental care of themselves.

So that’s why 88 year-old Betty White looks like she’s 68.  And why so many 68 year-olds we know look 88.  And most 100 year-olds look 70.

But most important isn’t how old or person looks on the outside, or even how young they feel on the inside.  What’s most important is how young a person’s body thinks it is- which is largely controlled by how well they take care of their own body.

Sure he's bald and 57, but LOST's Terry O'Quinn is one bad arse!

Because what good is it too look younger than your actual age your whole life only to die at age 60 (while “feeling 30”) because of heart disease, diabetes, or high blood pressure?  All of which could have been prevented or severely slowed down by carefully limiting sodium (meats and packaged/processed foods), sugar (other than from whole fruits), and saturated fats (animal fats, not fats from nuts and oils).  And replacing them with fresh produce, high fiber, plenty of water, and regular exercise.

 

I want to be like Betty.

And one more thing… Now that you’ve read my take on Betty White, why not read my perspective on: being a dad.  That’s right- parenting from a dad’s point of view.  I have been documenting my thoughts as a dad since the week we found out my wife was pregnant.  I formally invite you now to read my “dad blog”:

dad from day one

dad from day one: Baby Bean

Ten weeks.

Our kid is currently the size of a small strawberry.

This baby is growing everyday inside of my wife.  A living being.  Or as I think of it, a living bean.  We already love this little 10 week old baby though it decides to spend all its time inside my wife’s womb.

Yesterday officiated Week 10 of the pregnancy.  Here’s what all is forming right now: ears, nose, neck, hair follicles, muscles, nerves, and fingerprints.  And the baby’s testicles or ovaries.  Things are happenin’.

Anytime we do something for the first time since my wife has been pregnant, we acknowledge it is the first time our baby experiences it.

Like a few weeks ago (at that point the fetus was the size of a kidney bean) when we went on a four mile hike:  That was our baby’s first hike and boy were her/his little legs tired.

Followed by baby’s first quesadilla at Ruby Tuesday’s.  And baby’s first episode of The Office.

It’s gotta be a cute little thing inside there.  I told my wife that I wish we could take it out and play with it.  And set up a little carriage for it the size of a cotton ball.  And it could sleep next to us.

But if it got cold, we could put it back in the womb for a while.

Though I bet once the baby bean experienced life outside the womb, it would rather just stay outside with us.

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com

dad from day one: The Minor Details

What will be his or her heritage?  How tall will he or she be as an adult?  Boy or girl?  I’m answering the tough questions today, based on educated theories.

This series isn’t a “baby blog”.  Instead, it’s a documented journey of what a first time dad thinks about, starting from when I first found out and started sharing the news with everyone.  Because this info is coming from a man, who processes things in black and white, it’s possible that the tone will be a mix of both practical and abstract.  No goo-goo gah-gah.  But maybe a little nanu-nanu.

In fraction form, here are the proportions of my coming child’s ethnicity:

1/4 Italian (my wife and I are both this)

1/8 Croatian (from my wife; Croatia is the country we know today as “Transylvania”, The Count from Sesame Street speaks with a Croatian accent)

1/8 Mexican (from me, my mom’s mom’s family moved to Buffalo from Mexico)

1/8 Norwegian (my wife’s grandfather on her dad’s side was from Norway, but was adopted by an English couple in Iowa)

1/8 German (from me, where the Shell name comes from, as well as a little bit from my wife’s Norwegian side)

1/8 Irish (my wife’s grandmother on her dad’s side came to America as an indentured servant from Ireland)

1/8 English (from me, where the pale skin and light freckles come from)

*Greek (higher up on my dad’s family tree, there were two separate Greek ancestors; family tradition tell us that a Greek ended up on the Italian side as well)

*French (in my wife’s Italian lineage, family tradition tells us that a Frenchman got thrown in the mix)

*Jewish (my Mexican grandmother swears that my late Italian grandfather was part Jewish, and based on the family’s speech patterns, uses of random Hebrew words, and quirky behavior, I’m convinced it’s true)

Virtually, on both my wife’s side and my side of the gene pool, there is no man 6 feet tall or more, nor is there a woman 5’ 8” or more.  Combined with the fact that I am 5’ 9” (the average height of the American man) and my wife is 5’ 6” (two inches taller than the average height of the American woman), here are the most likely height ranges for our child once they become full grown:

Boy: between 5’ 8” and 5’ 11”

Girl: between 5’ 3” and 5’ 7”

Hair color on both sides generally ranges from medium brown to jet black, therefore it’s most likely the child will have semi-wavy, dark brown hairThough I do have two blonde-haired, blue-eyed aunts and also a red-headed, green-eyed aunt as well.

In one of my Mexican grandma’s dreams, the baby was a girl.  But based on a Vietnamese co-worker who correctly predicted the gender of my boss’s kid based on a Chinese calendar, he told me that there is a 70% change it is a boy.  My wife’s mom gave birth to 10 kids, and only 3 were girls.

My instinct tells me it’s a girl.  We’ll know in eight weeks if I’m wrong.

All this baby guesswork makes me think of those commercials for Puppy Surprise from 1992:  “Puppy, puppy, puppy surprise…  How many puppies are there inside?  There could be three, or four, or five…”

All pictures with the “JHP” logo were taken by Joe Hendricks Photography:

Blog- www.photojoeblog.com

Website- www.joehendricks.com