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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

The Perils of Fatherhood

(it's a good thing I typed this on Word, as blogger ate it at least once)

As Mrs. Hammer has recently given birth, I have been at home for a few days helping her out. Perhaps that should read, “helping her out” in quotes. I’m doing it all – diaper changing, bathing, feeding, cleaning dishes, vacuuming, and sitting through “The Bachelor.” Yes, I am truly sucking it up.

One of the benefits of extra time at home is extra time with my boys. With boy #2, age 18 months, that means wrestling, throwing the mini-basketball, reading “Max’s First Word” thirty-seven times, hugging Elmo when he is presented, and fighting off the dog for the toys and food (both the boy’s and the dog’s). It’s a lot of fun. Of course, it also means dealing with every single tantrum,which seemed to be a lot more prevalent these days. As I am hard-core when it comes to dealing with tantrums – they must NEVER be permitted to be successful – I have had the pleasure of seeing them decrease in intensity and time over the past week. Parenting at work!

With boy #1, age 10, we have had wrestling (slightly more exertion than with boy #2), Stratego, Yahtzee, pushups (discipline method for minor infractions), karate practice, and hide-and-seek. Quality time with boy #1 is dangerous.

How so? Today he offered me one game of hide-and-seek in the house. He would hide once, and I would hide once. I figured I have discovered all of the kid hiding places by this point, so I agreed. Three and a half minutes later, I found him jammed behind the futon, where he had never been before. That was good, but I had a great place in mind for myself!

I used my military training to find a good spot. One of the nifty things we learned was that if one wants to delay their visual contact with the enemy, to present yourself at a different altitude than expected. Simply put, never hide or pop out between waist and head level. For example, when checking a room that may have enemy troops in it, you don’t pop around the corner, muzzle-first, like in the movies. Instead, you do what is called a “quick peek”, where you pop your head around the corner and bring it back immediately – at ankle level. In this case, that meant I had to hide above head level, since kids always hide on the floor.

As he counted to thirty, I ran into the den and grabbed the bottom of the TV box, or whatever that big hole cut in the wall 8 feet up is (the Den is a converted garage, so it has a high ceiling), stepped on the bookcase with my left foot, and jammed myself into the TV box. We currently use it to store boxes in, and it is covered with a curtain, so I maneuvered around and closed the curtain. In brief, he gave up. Since I didn’t want to give away my great spot, I waited until I knew he wouldn’t see me get out, and jumped down.

Now, since I’m practically a ninja, I know how to jump down eight feet and not hurt myself. I wasn’t worried about being barefoot, because I know how to diffuse the impact with body movement. Except…there is no impact diffusion for your next-to-smallest toe when it is curled under your foot. Pow! Broken toe. I played it cool – after all, Dad is a superhero. However, it really hurt when I kicked the googly eyes on the three foot high Elmo with my broken toe.

Moral of the story – when playing hide-and-seek with your kids, hide in the shower. It’s much safer.

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