May 14th, 2015 § 2 Comments

You’ve heard of the projectile vomit. Last week, I had a run in with its uglier cousin, the projectile diarrhea. We had one of those fierce stomach viruses rip through our family. Yes, all you imagine and more. No one got a pass, not even our nine month old foster child. Who knew so much could come out of so little a person?

At the rate and volume he was pumping, the super absorbent diaper had no chance. If anything, the diaper acted as a diverting obstruction adding pressure to the flow. Like a thumb pressed over the nozzle of a hose. Every few hours, it was as if a canister of yellow paint detonated from his butt. Splat. It was everywhere.

One time, after an initial blast, I picked him up, hoping to create a little room between the nozzle and the diaper. I waited for the real eruption that didn’t come. “Are you done?” Rookie mistake number one. Of course he wasn’t done.

I put him on the changing shelf of our Pac ‘n Play. The initial shot was substantial but contained. Feeling optimistic that I’d be getting away with a standard change, I proceeded to clean and remove. What I did not do was place a new diaper underneath to overlap as I removed. Rookie mistake number two.

As I reached over for a fresh diaper, I felt something hit me in my lower abdomen. Not hard but with weight and force. Before I could react, there was liquid splatter at my feet. It was what getting hit by a large, very fragile water balloon might feel like.

“The hell?” When I looked down, I saw that diluted, curdling yellow paint. When I looked up, I saw the nozzle stairing back at me like a barrel of a gun. The thing might as well have been smoking. My wife, who saw me get blasted from the kitchen came running with … not a towel, but her phone, which she couldn’t use to take a photo because she was laughing too hard.

When I peered past the nozzle, to look my assailant in the eye, I swear the kid had a smirk on his face.

Limited Allowance

May 1st, 2015 § 2 Comments

My kids are more than I could have ever hoped for. Seriously, by any measure, they’re great kids. Simultaneously, they can be complete disasters. Parents among you know that these are not mutually exclusive realities. An hour into any given day, I can correct them a half dozen times. “Hey, get out of bed. You’re going to be late.” “Don’t get on your phone while you’re eating.” “Really? You’re going sprinkle sugar on your Fruit Loops?” “Hey, don’t give me that look.” You get the idea.

When my kids were quite a bit younger, probably as I was correcting them for the umpteenth time, it dawned on me how difficult it is to receive correction.

I’m forty-five now. I’m hardly ever corrected. I go about most of my day without a single person pulling me aside and saying something like, “Hey, you might want to walk a bit faster. You know, have the look of someone who’s got somewhere to go.” Yes, true, I do walk slow. But regardless of how accurate the info, my initial impulse is to react defensively. I like to think that I’m mature enough to measure my response, but hard to say for sure.

The point is even for a relatively mature adult, who is infrequently corrected, receiving correction is tough. When I realized it, I decided to put myself on a correction allowance. Three. That was it. I could correct each child three times in one twenty-four hour period. This little exercise in self-restraint had a couple unintended benefits. For one, it helped me prioritize. I found myself asking, “Do I really want to burn one of my three on this?” The second thing it did was help me store things in my mind for an opportune time. The goal isn’t personal satisfaction; the goal is instruction. The heat of the moment is not always the best for delivering or receiving correction.


Teaching a child to respond well to correction is part of a parent’s job. It’s not easy. A limited allowance makes a tough job easier … especially for your kid.

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