One shot, two shots and away we go

The first needle plunged into her right thigh, and the look Little One #2 gave was enough to make Daytime Dad scoop her up off the table and make a break for the door — sorry, doc, but we’re out of here!
Of course, Daytime Dad knows the shots — yes, shots as in plural — would help keep his little girl healthy, so he did the next best thing: Hold her minuscule fingers in his hand.
Little One #2, her face as red as cooked radishes, grabbed a hold of Daytime Dad’s fingers and squeezed tight. She didn’t want to let go, so Daytime Dad let her squeeze some more.
She let out an outward scream. Daytime Dad followed with an inward one.
She held tight, tighter.
One of the top responsibilities of being a parent is protecting your children and making them feel safe. Your trust is as invaluable as a heartbeat.
It’s for this reason Daytime Dad let Little One #2 squeeze his fingers until they changed color from white to red to, ultimately, purple.
She cried, her eyes shut, and she cried some more.
The second needle followed, and sequence of events pretty much mirrored how the first one went.
“You can pick her up now,” the doctor said.
Daytime Dad picked up his crying bundle and rested her on his shoulder. He ran his fingers through her black hair and whispered, “you’re so brave, little one. Daddy is right here.”
Slowly, the cries went to soft sobs, then receded to sniffles.
Her tight grip on Daytime Dad’s shirt only confirmed what he already knew: She felt safe and loved in his arms.

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Wait, we are outside

“Are we done yet?” Little One #1 asks impatiently. “I want to go outside.”
Daytime Dad looks up at him and places the box of blueberries on the ground next to the box, which holds three empty quarts.
“We have a ways to go, bub,” Daytime Dad says.
“But I want to go outside,” Little One #1 exclaims.
Daytime Dad stands up, stretches and takes in the bright sun that bathes the hill of blueberry bushes.
“Outside?” Daytime Dad thinks to himself.
“Bub, we are outside, take a look around,” Daytime Dad says. “It’s a beautiful day and we need to get some blueberries. We have five boxes to fill. How is your box going?”
Little One #1 looks into his box and then looks at Daytime Dad.
Daytime Dad then looks into Little One #1’s box.
“Oh,” Daytime Dad says. “You have two blueberries in there. Where did they all go? I thought you had a bunch in there before?”
“I dropped them,” Little One #1 says.
“You did?” Daytime Dad answers. “Was it an accident or on purpose?”
“It was an acci-purse,” Little One #1 responds.
“Ah,” Daytime Dad says. “Wait, a what?”
Little One #1 decides now is as good a time as any to go find Off-For-The-Summer mom, who is out of sight on the hill but certainly not out of mind.
“Mommmmmmmy!” he yells, and away he goes through a row of blueberry bushes.
There are many of advantages to being a Daytime Dad. One of them is helping the Little Ones enjoy what the outside has to offer through a variety of adventures.
While not every adventure ends in smiles, hugs and a silent ride home (wouldn’t that be nice, though?), they are an adventure nonetheless.
Daytime Dad also knows that four months from now, when winter will settle in, Little One #1 will enjoy these blueberries — including the five he picked all by himself — in his pancakes, on his oatmeal or in his yogurt.

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Smile! Wait, Bon Jovi?

Little One #2 lies silently in her crib and gazes up at Daytime Dad, or maybe it’s the ceiling. Her big, blue eyes pop from her face and she wiggles her hands in the air.
She extends her legs, wiggles the hands again, and then it happens quicker than it takes a hungry horsefly to find Daytime Dad at Reid State Park (what is up with these things?)
Her lower lip drops and her mouth is open.
She … She … She smiled!
While Little One #2 has smiled for Off-For-The-Summer Mom, this is the first one she flashed for Daytime Dad.
Beautiful.
Some other idle thoughts and observations as the summer starts to slowly (real slowly, please) slip away …

• Little One #1 took his first swim lesson when he was 10 months old. He’s three now, and next month he will be in PWP — Pool Without Parent. Little One #1 is being recommended, and rightly so, to take what is called a Pike swim class that will be parentless.
The next session begins in September, which also coincides with Little One #1’s preschool debut.
Big changes are coming this fall, and Little One #1 is ready for them. Daytime Dad? Not so much.

• On a recent drive through town, Little One #1 asks Daytime Dad to find Bon Jovi on the radio.
Seriously?
Daytime Dad isn’t sure how Off-For-The-Summer Mom pulled this off, but she did.
Impressive work.

• Little One #2 is growing so fast that she has out-grown some — OK, many — of her 0-3 month clothes.
She’s seven weeks old.
Daytime Dad predicts she will be in 2T clothing by November.

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Adventure on the high seas

Little One #1 strapped on his life preserver, put on his ‘Rock Hero’ hat and proclaimed himself ready to go.Save for one detail — the life preserver was not strapped on as advertised — he indeed looked ready.
Daytime Dad fixed the life preserver then showered Little One #1 with enough sun screen spray that would protect his skin for weeks in a sun-splashed desert, let alone an hour in a lobster boat.
And with that, Little One #1 ventured down the steps to the boat, where his grandfather, among others, awaited.
The waves off the Marblehead, Mass., coast were rolling and the boat was rocking.
Still, Little One #1 seemed unfazed. He scurried along the dock and started to climb into the boat.
Daytime Dad shuffled for his camera, eager to capture the moment.
The scene conjured images of yesteryear, when Daytime Dad went lobstering with his father.
The moment was equally special for grandfather, who took Little One #1 into the boat and held him in his lap.
As the boat pulled away from the dock, Little One #1 waved.
Daytime Dad smiled.
Every so often a precious moment presents itself, whether it be obvious or subtle. This was somewhere in between. It was a moment Daytime Dad wished he could stuff in his pocket and pull out later, or cram into a freezer for later use.
The boat pulled away from shore, rocked up and down, then faded from view.
Daytime Dad, long after the boat pulled away, stood for what seemed like an hour, but was likely closer to 10 minutes, and surveyed the surf.
He wondered how Little One #1 would do out there.
Would he pull up any traps? (No, it would be learned later).
Would he push any back into the water? (Oh, yes).
Would they get any lobsters? (Two!).
Would he experience the same excitement as Daytime Dad once did on the open sea? (Yes. Well, maybe).
Daytime Dad also couldn’t help wonder — especially while watching Little One #1 truck down the dock with an air of confidence — just where, exactly, did the last three years go?

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‘Glad we had this chat’

Daytime Dad looks over Little One #2, who is a little more beautiful than the day before.
It’s late, sometime after 2 a.m., and she isn’t exactly screaming but she isn’t exactly sleeping, either.
Daytime Dad is tired, but what (working) parent isn’t with two children under the age of 4 these days?
Little One #2, whose blue eyes are closed, lifts her outstretched arms from the bed and wiggles her legs. Her face twists and then turns beet-red, signaling that a diaper change is just minutes away.
Excellent.
Daytime Dad scoops up the bundle and Off-For-The-Summer Mom gently falls back asleep.
Little One #2 grunts, groans and squirms in his arms.
We walk down the hall to the nursery and settle into an old yet comfortable rocker.
We sit and rock, sit and rock, sit and rock.
Neither one of us says anything, but Little One #2 looks like she has something on her mind, if not in her diaper.
So, too, does Daytime Dad — on his mind, that is.
“You are the most beautiful baby girl I’ve ever seen,” Daytime Dad says to wide-eyed Little One #2.
In typical 5-week-old fashion, she says nothing. Regardless, Daytime Dad convinces himself that she understands.
Little One #2 then reaches up at Daytime Dad and wraps her minuscule fingers around his nose. They might as well have been wrapped around his heart.
Daytime Dad smiles, rocks a little more, then says, “You’re not going to date until you’re 30. Or 35.”
Little One #2 says nothing.
“The first guy who shows up here to pick you up is going to be in for a big surprise,” Daytime Dad continues.
Little One #2 says nothing.
“Good,” Daytime Dad adds, “it’s sinking in.”
Little One #2 shifts her weight and lets out what Daytime Dad calls “the trumpet of the elephant.”
She wiggles on Daytime Dad’s chest and opens her mouth. She quints her eyes and then lets out the feed-me-I’m-hungry cry.
Daytime Dad can’t help her there so he does the next best thing: A diaper change.
He lies her on the changing table, leans over for a kiss and tells her, “I’m glad we had this chat.”

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For the love of fluff

Little One #1 peers out the window at the house on the corner as our vehicle comes to a rolling stop.

He fixes his gaze on the front steps, where he hopes to catch a glimpse of the ‘Fluffy Dog,’ who up until this week was somewhat of a mystery.

“FLUFFY DOG!!” Little One #1 yells. “FLUFFY DOG! LOOK, DADDY, FLUFFY DOG!”

There isn’t much these days, save for a mini excavator and a slice of cheese, that excite Little One #1 as the lump of white fur does while resting on the doorsteps at this house on the corner.

Daytime Dad smiles and looks at the dog, a Husky-like puffball that some days looks more dead than alive. On this day, ‘Fluffy Dog’ seems more alive than most days. He lifts his head and actually shuffles his fur from side to side.

“FLUFFY DOG!,” yells Little One #1 again. “HE LOVES HIS MOMMY! AND HE LOVES HIS DADDY!”

“Yes, he does,” Daytime Dad responds. “Wait, who else does he love?”

“HIS SISTER!” Little One #1 responds.

‘Phew,’ Daytime Dad thinks, ‘he remembered.’

Spotting ‘Fluffy Dog’ is as much of a daily routine as, say, waking up. It wasn’t until recently when we learned exactly who ‘Fluffy Dog’ is.

During one recent drive-by, ‘Fluffy Dog’; and his owners were outside, and Daytime Dad and Off-For-The-Summer Mom couldn’t resist pulling over and introducing ourselves.

We told the owners how their dog — we learned later his name is ‘Cody’ — delights our son on a day-to-day basis by essentially doing nothing.

The owners were delighted, although Daytime Dad pulled away wondering if they thought we were at least a little crazy.

Regardless, the ‘Fluffy Dog’ sightings continue, and each is met with a smile from Daytime Dad, who never tires from hearing Little One #1 say with great confidence how much Cody loves his parents and sister.

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Yeah, but can he hit the curve?

Daytime Dad has set three goals for Little One #1 to reach this summer. Well, there are more, but with respect to space and bogging his already energetic mind down, we’ll start with three.
1. Learn how to ride a bike. Every parent has his/her own theories on how to get their children to pedal on their own.
Here is Daytime Dad’s: Plop Little One on bike, push down driveway, cheer wildly and hope for the best.
Kidding.
Actually, Daytime Dad is looking for suggestions on this one …
2. Learn how to swing on his own. How difficult is it to pump one’s legs out then in? Apparently, it’s quite the challenge. Daytime Dad wonders if Little One #1 knows how to do it but is holding back for the ‘big boy’ push. Hmm …
3. Fine tune his baseball mechanics. Little One #1 made contact for the first time with a (soft) baseball recently. It was a proud moment for both. Little One #1 has a good swing, but needs work on his follow-through and balance. Daytime Dad thinks Little One #1 will eventually hit for power but we’re focusing on him hitting to all fields, shortening up his swing with two strikes and not running to the sandbox after just 30 seconds of instruction.

Here are a few other idle thoughts as Little One #2 moves out of newborn diapers …

• Babies make the funniest noises, and Little One #2 is no exception. Sometimes while sleeping she belts out a grunt that is eerily similar to the trumpet noise an elephant makes. Throw in a high-pitched howl, and it’s an African safari in the bedroom.

• Funny line from Little One #1 while on the phone with Daytime Dad one night.
DD: “What are you doing?”
Little One #1: “Oh, just hanging out with my mom.”
Little One #1 is turning out some doozies of late — “are you kidding me?” and “that’s brutal” are personal favorites — but this tops them all.

• Little One #1 starts preschool in the fall. This should be entertaining. Already, he’s asking about taking the bus.

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Doctor diaper

Little One #1 grabs his little chair and positions himself next to Daytime Dad.
Our patient — Little One #2 — lies on the operating, er, changing table with a luck of puzzlement.
“Doctor, we need the Desitin,” Daytime Dad tells Little One #1.
“OK, doctor, here’s the (inaudible but it does rhyme with Desitin),” Little One #1 responds.
Daytime Dad smiles at Little One #2, who no longer looks puzzled as she does confused.
It’s been nearly six months since Daytime Dad last changed diapers — Little One #1 finally (mercifully) mastered the toilet shortly after Christmas.
Little One #2, who is now no longer confused but rather quite irritated, frowns and belts out a groan that sounds too much like an elephant.
Daytime Dad removes the dirty diaper, discards it and cleans up Little One #2, who is now just angry.
“Doctor, we need a diaper, doctor,” Daytime Dad says to Little One #1.
“Here’s a diaper, doctor,” Little One #1 says. “And here’s the (inaudible but sounds kind of like Desitin.)”
Daytime Dad takes the ‘operating tools’ and gets Little One #2 ready to go. She is now infuriated and/or hungry.
“Thank you, doctor,” Daytime Dad says to Little One #1. “Excellent work.”
“Thank you, doctor,” Little One #1 replies.
Daytime Dad carries Little One #2 to Off-For-The-Summer Mom and smiles because the diaper-change, while taking a bit longer than  hoped, was a success for two reasons: Little One #2 is clean and Little One #1 felt part of the process.
Preparing a child for a new sibling is a delicate process. Daytime Dad and then-Expecting Mom believed it was crucial to keep Little One #1 engaged and involved, as much as possible.
As this study points out, it can be difficult for a child to adjust to sharing the parental limelight with a sibling.
Daytime Dad, who is about as close to a parenting expert as Boston is in distance to London, believes the more Little One #1 stays involved with the process — helping with diapers and baths, for example — the better.
Time, of course, will tell.

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Hello, little lady

She came out crying, her 7-pound, 14.3-ounce body squirming like an inch worm.
She moved both her legs, each with distinct rolls, but kept her eyes shut. Her arms hung by her delicate side, but her minuscule fingers wiggled up, then down.
Daytime Dad, already smitten, knew right then his little girl would forever have his heart, as well as have him wrapped around her fingers.
She gently cried and was quickly reunited with her mother, who came out of her second delivery even more amazing than the first.
Daytime Dad believes in miracles. He believes in magic, but not the kind exhibited by teen wizards on big screens. He believes in faith, beauty and love, especially the kind that leaves one speechless.
On the second Sunday in June, in the wee hours of the morning, all were present when Little One #2 made her memorable entry to the world.
Daytime Dad gently takes his daughter into his hands and places her over his heart. He wishes the moment – which felt just as surreal as when Little One #1 arrived a little more than three years earlier – could last forever.
Hours pass, the sun makes its Sunday debut and Daytime Dad wonders what changes lay ahead, what adventures await and what this little girl will someday become.

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No sleep ’til … tomorrow

One of the many advantages of being a daytime dad is the occasional opportunity to help someone who operates on a completely different schedule.
One of the few disadvantages is finding ample time to sleep.
If you have a child or (gulp) children and burn a little midnight oil for a paycheck, you most certainly can relate.
You take what you can get, of course, and some days are much better than others.
For the record, Little One is a pretty good sleeper. Normal wake time is sometime north of 7 a.m., although he can, and occasionally does, push 8 a.m. (jackpot!).
The National Sleep Foundation says there is no “magic number” of sleep hours adults need to live healthy and/or coherently. This is good news, Daytime Dad thinks, because the only magic numbers he follows usually come sometime in early fall if/when the beloved Red Sox are closing in on a playoff berth.
Daytime Dad, who falls asleep sometime between 1-2 a.m. depending on the night at work, claims victory if he gets six hours of sleep a night. Maybe that’s the magic number?
Coupled with an afternoon n-a-p with Little One, and Daytime Dad does well for sleep.
And then there was Wednesday, when Daytime Dad offered to look after four siblings of various ages, including three boys and a girl Little One calls ‘princess.’
Little One loves them all, and time spent with them is time well spent.
Upon learning of their arrival the day before, Little One’s excitement was palpable at worst. He was, indeed, bursting with fruit flavor – so much so that Wednesday morning wakeup came at a robust 5:30 a.m.
Hooray!
By 6 a.m., Daytime Dad realized he made a rookie parenting mistake: He informed a child that a day of fun and games would happen … tomorrow.
Oops.
Little One couldn’t contain himself and the excitement, like the sun, only grew brighter and brighter.
The kids, all five of them, enjoyed their time together.
A tired Daytime Dad enjoyed watching them, but vowed victory would again come Thursday.

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