PLUS: I am not handling it well
THE MORPH FROM FREE TO PAID: genius.
1) I have had parents! It has been quite complicated but good.
2) I have not had children! It has been quite complicated but good.
3) See #2.
4) I don't make resolutions, but my word for the year is MOVEMENT.
I am impressed by all the age math in this.
Aww you're not a fucknut (unless in an endearing way)
cheese break ftw
I think this is my favourite of your posts. I don't have kids, but you still made it super relatable for me and fun to read. Stellar writing by you!
Oh Alex, I typically don’t care much for writing about parenting but yours is so delightful and funny.
My favorite: “I felt myself wanting him to see me upset so he’d feel bad and apologize.”
My other favorite: “Which means that if I model responding to hard big shameful feelings by storming off sulking, and then writing an essay about it a week later, he will too. And that, I cannot stand for. Writing is MY thing.”
Wilder may have the best father ever.
Also, your metamorphosis ploy made me LOL.
I bet Wilder would call you “dada” if you pulled up to the house driving TRASH TRUCK.
You're learning, my brother, but take it a lot slower or you'll burn out before he's three! And make no mistake, three is the "Little Hitler" stage! It looks like you're self aware enough to get through all of it. As one who has two daughters and three grandchildren, you'll survive, he'll thrive, and you'll both be richly rewarded by this relationship!
Oof! When our kiddo (who just turned 10... WHAT THE HELL) was that age, she could not separate/differentiate us. Dad and stepmom were a single unit. Mom was another unit (makes sense...she was in another home). We were either "Daddyain" or "AinDada" which sounded an awful lot like "without dada" in Hebrew. Now that she's 10 she tried to tell me that I've only known her since she was 3 years old. I was livid! "3 months! 3 months old! I picked out the cake for your first birthday!" I hollered like a petulant child. Parenting eventually helps us grow up... I'm told.
Humor is a magnificent tool for redirecting that type of behavior. When my youngest started doing that with me (and trust me, she was doing it intentionally to observe my reaction, see: https://bvulpes.net/your-children-arent-trying-to-piss-you-off-theyre-confirming-that-you-get-pissed-off-at-them/), I eventually developed the presence of mind to turn it into a game. "Oh, so your brother, that's...mama, right? and that lady over there? Daddy? And does that make me...TALLULAH?!"
Which both of the kids found uproarious and is a game we play to this day.
I'm no improv-er, but learning to "yes and" with kids is an incredible tool for working with them. It shows that you are interested in them and their creative output, and are willing to enter into their creative worlds.
Good luck on this journey, two is tough. I prefer "threenager", and mine's definitely in that space right now. Looking for every possible way to wind everyone up. I just keep repeating to everyone in the house "she's just confirming that she knows how to push your buttons. It's an opportunity for you to practice learning to moderate your behavior under stress, and an opportunity for her to refine her worldview." Which goes over the 7.25 year-old's head, but perhaps it'll stick and be useful to him later in life.
I deeply empathize with this story from an entirely different angle: my best friend moved in with us last year for about 9 months while he baked a real estate transaction. At one point my daughter started calling him "two-Daddy", and I was so sad until I reframed it into something like "how wonderful is it that she's got so many strong male figures around and she loves and trusts them and feels loved by them as well".
this is a beautiful tale. thank you for sharing.
i love this:
"mama was dada,
mama was also mama,
I was nada."
i also like "science do not copy" (and hope it's okay that i copied THAT part)
"heir to the Dobrenko fortune (pending)"!!!!!!
"mini Rodney Dangerfield my son"!!!!!!!!
"my close personal friend and mentee Sheryl Crow"!!!!!!!
the hits keep coming!
"Wilder, I am your Dada" <-- THERE IT IS!
"If I want to be Wilder’s dada, I must model how to be my own dada" <-- there it ALSO is!
there's a lot of there there. there, there. (hear, hear?)
thank you for sharing, friend!
PS i answer your questions now:
1) Do you or have you ever had parents? What’s that like for you?
yes! weird! i mean, varying between normal and weird. like, at first, it just Was. then when i was in college i was like, hey these people are People! and now, we're all people. kind of. i think.
2) Do you or have you ever had children? Do they hate you and if not why?
i don't and they don't. because i love them and myself.
3) Are there any wise phrases or advice you can share with me and the world about how to not fall apart when your kid calls your wife ‘dada’?
words are symbols that don't necessarily accurately represent the concepts they symbolize. in fact, they almost (maybe always) never do. regardless of what wilder calls you, you ARE dada. you are his father. you are you. you are alex dobrenko. what he says cannot take that away from you. your relationship is. your love is. love him. love yourself. also maybe ask him who you are, and maybe you'll get a cool new name out of it.
4) How was your holiday did you make any resolutions have you broken them yet?
i saw the sound of music with my mom. i love music. i have not made resolutions but i have done pushups every day and read 10 pages of proust every day at least and played my guitar almost every day and those are things i wanted/want to do.
thanks for asking! i love you! PS email coming at you soon!
I swear my four year old daughter's super power is the ability to completely destroy me emotionally and psychologically in mere seconds - but her second super power is the ability to completely heal all wounds and make me feel like I'm THE COOLEST EVER equally as quickly. The terrifying thing is that I think she has only recently come to realize even a portion of her abilities. But I suppose that's the big L-O-V-E for you. Makes me wonder if I ever had the capacity to do this to my parents?
Welcome to parenting. This time around you get to be the parent. It's nature's justice for all the pain we inflicted on our parents. And nature's reward for making it to this stage where we get to feel the strongest feelings ever possible! Parenting is where we learn useful skills like patience, forgiveness, endurance, and repentance (for those times when we fail at the others). Did I mention self-sacrifice? But as you so aptly described, there is plenty of love, joy, and laughs too.
Oh my gosh, I can't even begin to state how much you've hit the nail on the head with this one. Natalie goes through "Mama" and "Dada" phases -- some hours/days/weeks, MAMA is the only one who can do things for her (anything and everything under the sun -- reading books, getting snacks, helping her wipe)....and then, suddenly, with no warning, it'll flip flop. And Dada is the only one that she'll let do anything near her. Screams "NO MAMA" if I try to talk to her. The sense of hurt and rejection after one of those "NO MAMAs" is something I was not prepared for as a parent. Thanks for adding laughs and poignancy to something that can be so painful to witness and be a part of. Hang in there. I'd like to tell you it gets better.......but it hasn't for us yet. It probably will eventually, though?......
A new lurker here...perhaps a few more posts with clever clickbait subscribe buttons...this was great...raised three boys...best to just think of them as imperfect versions of adults and we all know how broken lots of us end up.