Do you want to take a drink of milk? No. Do you want to go get your diaper changed? No. Do you want to brush your teeth? No. Do you want to wear this green shirt or this red shirt? No. Do you want to read Daddy’s third installment of the Parenting Game blog? (Dad holding a fruit cup in his hand) Yes.
As you may be able to deduce from that opening paragraph, my wife and I have reached a critical milestone moment in raising our one-and-a-half-year-old toddler, Harrison. He is discovering declaring his independence and is learning more and more about testing the limits every day. It’s both cute and mentally exhausting at the same time for mom and dad. Pair that with the fact that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic and you can say things have been very interesting lately in the Norstedt household.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse inside our parenting adventure with plenty of sports-themed twists. Sports? Remember those.
One Play at a Time
It’s a quote I hear ad nauseum from coaches. But there have been several occasions where I’ve found it applicable to raising a child. Earlier this month, Harrison had to stay home from daycare for two weeks because of a teacher testing positive for COVID-19. Thus, Mom and Dad stayed home with him, trying to work from home. Doesn’t that make for a good laugh?
Thankfully, we’re in a slower time for sports which allowed me to tackle the challenge of caring for our little man throughout the day while my wife took breaks when she could between recording radio and television news updates from our kitchen. Harrison had good days and challenging days.
During those challenging days, I’d think to myself “OK, I just have to get to 8 am because that’s when he’ll have breakfast. Alright, 11 am is almost here and that’s lunch time. I just need to keep him busy for one more hour.” After I’d lay him down for naptime, it felt a lot like halftime. First, I’d get to relax a bit and get some work done. Then I’d think to myself, what worked this morning and how am I going to have to adjust in the afternoon and evening.
It might be a coaching cliché, but it really helped to take it one play/moment at a time.
Being involved in sports for as long as I have, I’m no stranger to recruiting violations. You’ve heard the stories of coaches finding creative ways to land the top recruits in the country whether it’s cash or luxury items. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a real problem in college athletics that will seemingly never go away.
So, how in the world does it pertain to parenting? Let’s just say when it comes to being stuck at home during this pandemic with a very active toddler, you get desperate to find ways to keep him busy.
At one point, we felt like we were buying toys non-stop. We bargain hunted and bought a sandbox, slide and water table from strangers over Facebook. I was literally handing over cash to strangers in hopes to woo my son into thinking that our home is cool. It sounds shady, but hey, he’s enjoying the new stuff while mom and dad get a bit of a break.
In all seriousness, watching him go down the slide and play in the sandbox in our backyard for the first time is special. Busting him as he eats the sand is a different story, but we’ll work on that.
Swing and a Miss
I think any sports-loving parent will agree that some of the top moments you look forward to with your children are that first game of catch in the backyard or perhaps, his or her first swing of the bat. That’s what I had in mind when I bought Harrison’s first t-ball set.
As I assembled the $12 purchase, I was getting excited visualizing how pumped he was going to be to see it set up in the backyard. I thought, “How far would his first hit go? Would we play with it until bedtime?” Then reality happened. I stood behind him and helped him hold the bat. He tried to squirm, and I basically forced his first swing and the ball lazily fell off the 2-foot high tee. After a few more attempts, I surrendered to the fact that he wasn’t all that interested in the new toy. A couple days later, my wife Amy was helping him swing and let’s just say we had an “America’s Funniest Home Videos” moment when Dad caught a line drive to the midsection. Ouch!
Meanwhile, the last few weeks the t-ball set has taken a back seat to the ever-important dandelion picking. We’ll put those big-league dreams on hold, for now.
There’s plenty of controversy surrounding performance enhancing drugs. But what about dinner enhancing condiments? Let’s just say if ketchup and cottage cheese were on the ban list for getting a toddler to eat, I’d be guilty more days than not. Take one look at our dining room on a given night and you’ll see a close to normal scene except for a ketchup bottle, cottage cheese container and parmesan cheese canister on standby on the floor next to our feet. It’s our ammunition for when dinner time becomes a struggle.
When Harrison first started having solid foods, he’d pretty much eat anything. But he’s starting to learn more and more about his likes and dislikes. Most meat these days needs to be accompanied by a hearty portion of ketchup. Vegetables have become a struggle, so ninety percent of the time they’re either doused in parmesan cheese, mixed with cottage cheese or… ketchup, because why not. Broccoli and ketchup make an interesting combo.
I will say that we’re actually very fortunate when it comes to dinner. He’s been a pretty good eater and has become a scooping-master with his spoon. Post dinner cleanup can be an adventure, though.
The Game-Day Experience
Attending a live sporting event in person is an awesome experience. Nothing can replace the excitement brought about by seeing your favorite team up close, smelling the aroma of the concession stand and seeing every play happen right before your own eyes. That’s the kind of feeling that I’ve had being a dad especially during that extra time I had with our little man while daycare was closed.
Instead of getting updates from his daycare teachers, I was living every moment with him. I had the best seat in the house for watching this boy learn and grow pretty much every minute of every day for two weeks straight. Sure, there were inconveniences akin to the annoying fan sitting behind you at the ballgame or the cramped concourses. Throwing tantrums for no reason and fighting naps come to mind.
But, just like watching my favorite team I was there for the good, bad and ugly because that’s how much I love him. I’ve enjoyed cheering him on, as well! Lately, we’ve been playing this game where we hide foam cut-out numbers around the house, and he finds them. He’s gotten to know his numbers so well, that he can point to them on command. Watching your child learn new skills is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever experienced. It’s truly an amazing gameday experience.