Time Out for School

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It’s hard to believe that Malachy is 3, and he’s in full-day PreKindergarten. I keep thinking how things have changed for kids today. Today’s 3 year old is like yesterday’s 5 year old. Grandma (Po Po) rightly questioned us about rushing him into “growing up” too quickly. We felt that if we didn’t put him into a quality school, then he’d fall behind. We felt he was ready and he has definitely shown us he could handle it… better than we could have ever imagined.

One thing that I kept in the back of my mind was Po Po pleading with us not to get caught into the mode of waking up and rushing him and hurrying him to get ready for school. So, I promised myself that we would try to give him some happy home time before beginning the day. Yes, in the beginning, there were some tears… him on the outside, me on the inside. But, after a week or so, he was okay… better than okay. He soon accepted that Daddy had to go to school for work, and he went to school, too, as did Mommy. Yes, there are days when we are tired, and it’s hard to wake up, but at the end of the day, we’d always meet again.

It melts my heart whenever I come home and he asks, “How was your day, Dad?” Good… very good.

Time Out for Eating Together

One of Malachy’s homework assignments has been to say grace during mealtimes. It’s quite simple. “God is good. God is great. Thank you Lord for our food.” With that, Malachy adds, “Enjoy!” It’s taught me what a blessing it is to be able to eat together. Of course, it helps to have the best chef in the house prepare such wonderful meals for us. Thanks, Mommy! YUMMY.

Time Out for Television…

We have always been wary of allowing Malachy to watch too much television, especially Mommy, but I always felt that there were some sound educational programs out there that could provide some enrichment. When he was first born, he was exposed to lots of baseball, football, golf, and the news. And guess what? He doesn’t seem to like playing sports at all. BUT, he does like watching Charles Gibson and George Stephanopoulos on the evening news. They are his “friends” and when they are absent from the show, he notices and will sometimes even say he misses them. He does recognize Obama, Clinton, Bush, and other politicians he grew up with. As for regular programming for children, we found some programs to be of great educational value, and I think it has helped him to become a reader. He has watched every episode of Word World and Super Why many many times. He enjoys Sesame Street and Ni Hao Kai Lan. He enjoyed Thomas the Train, but watching full episodes never seemed to capture his attention the whole time. His latest favorite is Special Agent OSO. He has watched a lot more PBS than any other station in terms of children’s television programs. These programs don’t go crazy with the flashing and quick shifting from scene to scene. They provide a literacy enriched environment and teach lessons. We often watch them with him and make references to them when there’s a conflict or a problem that needs to be resolved. The key is not to let him watch hours at a time, as it seems so easy at times to just plop him in front of the television. I think that’s what gets some kids overstimulated or superstimulated, where they then need that constant visual stimulation in order to sit still and focus.

Time Out for a Treat… or NOT…

So today, my wife sends me a link to a TIME news story from Yahoo! News called, “Eating Candy in Childhood Linked to Adult Crime.” Basically, a study reported that “69% of people who had been convicted of a violent act by age 34 reported eating candy almost every day as youngsters; 42% of people who had not been arrested for violent behavior reported the same,” and this was across the board regardless of other environmental factors. The study didn’t surprise me, but it sure made me feel guilty about treating Malachy to a treat. The study questioned whether it was something in the sweets themselves that caused this or was it a matter of lack of discipline and self-control that caused this impulsive behavior in adulthood. Is it the candy that makes the child impulsive or is it the impulsiveness of the child which causes him to crave sweets? In other words, is it the diet that affects the behavior or the behavior that affects the diet? I’m guessing it can’t be all of one or the other, but it certainly makes you constantly question whether what you’re doing to/for your child today, will ultimately shape how he or she is as an individual later on. Ai ya.

Time Out for Reading

Reading to Malachy
I remember speaking with a colleague of mine one evening, when I was in the Aspiring Leadership Program. He had a daughter just a few weeks younger than Malachy. He told me about how he read to his daughter every night since she was a “baby.” Here, at 4 months, I was thinking I had missed so much time reading to Malachy! What was I thinking? I was a teacher, too, and I wasn’t reading to my child! So, from 4 months onward, we have missed only a handful of nights. (And the only excuse was that we had come home late from a gathering, and he had knocked out.) Before bed, and after brushing, we have read to him and with him EVERY night. The book of choice? The one we read the most? Goodnight Moon, almost every night, for over a year. We also read The Very Hungry Caterpillar many many a time. He loved it, and we loved it. And, before age 3, he started to read! I never would have thought that was possible.

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Why TimeOutDad?

I was listening to This American Life, from National Public Radio, the other night, and they were talking about all of the Mommy Blogs out there and how Daddy Blogs have not caught on for one reason or another. So, I thought, why not? I’ve been meaning to write and write, but couldn’t think of what I wanted to write about, so I didn’t write. Now, I have no excuse but to write. Giving Time Outs never came easy for me, as a teacher or a dad. I’m thinking that taking Time Outs to just write about fatherhood will come much more easily. But, for now, it’s late, so this dad better get some sleep.