As dictated to his Daddy by Cash Michael Kennedy.
On this impending Mother’s Day, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on your efforts and thank you for watching me. Every. Single. Day. And putting me to bed. Every. Single. Night.
Thank you for playing with me everyday.
Your goofy games jibe with my goofy moods. I think I most prefer our chase games. Those never get old. I’m always surprised when you pop out around the corner. Cracks me up. Every. Time.
When I first wake in my shade-darkened room while my white noise machine hums (both of which you insisted on buying to help ensure I get sound sleep), you come rushing in to greet me with enthusiastic hugs, kisses and “I love yous.” (Sometimes, it’s daddy but he mainly grunts a “Hey buddy” and hugs me. Here and there, he’ll toss in a smooch on top of my head. Not a big kisser that guy. Not like you anyway.
Then you’re off to making me breakfast: working the blender, microwave and kitchen utensils, you whip me up a healthy, wholesome breakfast Every. Single. Day. Not to mention, lunch, snacks, and dinner!
I know it’s not easy being my daily guardian. I’m hard to keep up with as I’m getting quicker and quicker an climbing up on more and more furniture.
I’m constantly changing…and I’m not just referring to my diapers-which I applaud your cheerful disposition while doing-even singing songs about it,
“Stinky butt no more, stinky butt no more..!”
Pretty sure that’s an original and I’m proud to have provided the inspirational nuggets for that tune.
I appreciate your efforts to expose me to the world. Belting me into my car seat-the one you had daddy install, check, double-check, triple-check and take into the certification facility to officially check before I could ride in.
You’ve driven me to music class where I dance and play instruments. To my art class, where I scribble and mess around colors on paper.
To the Children’s Museum, where I engage with many exhibits-my favorites are the water room and my car on the second level. I sometimes let other kids come in and ride shotgun but I’m always at the wheel. And last but not least, visiting the chickens on the roof. And yes, I’m with you in trying to convince daddy we need a chicken.
I see all the pure love you put into your efforts to care for me, to raise me, to nurture me.
I know Daddy loves me too. I can tell he looks forward to playing with me and taking me on walks to the park after he gets home from work. But, he’s gone most of the day. (He sure is handsome though).
But, you’re beautiful, Momma.
I know I get my eyelashes, big eyes, and long arms from you…along with a lot of my dance moves. Dip it Low.
I know Motherhood is incredibly demanding and exhausting. But, you have never shown that to me or made me feel I’m any kind of a burden. You always make me feel like you’re so happy to have me around you all the time and there’s no place else you’d rather be. I feel the same.
So, in case you ever feel that being a Mom is a thankless job, it’s not with me.
THANK YOU, MOMMA.
Happy Mother’s Day!
I love you too,
Know thy Shadow
As I came home from work a couple weeks ago, I opened the door and Cash dashed right under my arm to head outside.
Now, that palatable weather as arrived in Wisconsin, Cash is taking full advantage for the first time in his life. He yearns to get outside as much as he can.
This picture of him seeing his shadow strikes me as his evolution of awareness of himself, of his body frame and of his movements gain ground.
Cash discovered this self recognition inside the house in front of a mirror and now, another perspective courtesy of Mother Nature, outside the house.
This brings up the point that all parents must face in teaching their kids self-awareness. As Shakespeare once wrote, “To thine own self be true.” Well, you can’t truly be true to thine self, if thine doesn’t truly know thine self. Regular self-reflection is important for all of us to engender understanding of ourselves. Knowing why we do what we do and why we like what we like are key factors in being a happy and satisfied person.
In this respect, making mistakes are not big deal. If you’re aware how the mistake happened, you can correct it and learn from it. Great. If you make mistakes and don’t understand them, you can misplace blame on others and perpetuate you making the same mistake over and over. We all know these people. In my less enlightened times, I am these people.
Like the sun on my son, the world outside you will give you a perspective on yourself from the environment, from those around you, that is not possible for you to have on your own. So, don’t fight it. Embrace it, observe it, learn what you can from it. The only way to avoid your own shadow is to stay inside. What kind of life is that?
I was once told, “You can do whatever you want in your own cave, live by your own rules or lack thereof. But if you want to get outside, you’ve got to adapt yourself to your new environment.”
Your understandings of yourself in the cave may get reconsidered when you step out of the cave. Be aware of it. Don’t fight it. Accept it. It’s part of growth and will get you closer to your true, complete self, than you could ever get on your own. Inside.
So, Cash, I hope you keep rushing outside for new experiences. You’re now part of the great big world. Observe it, embrace it, learn from it.
We, your parents, promise to help you find your place in it.
Clear and Consistent
I’ve learned the best coaches, teachers, and parents all share a common modus operandi–clear and consistent communication and consequences of their expectations.
I realized the importance of these two traits especially in my years as a teacher/coach observing others in my profession.
There were times when I, as an adult, was confused by another teacher’s directions so I can empathize with the students not being sure what was expected of them. Because the teacher wasn’t clear, the students, understandably, did not abide by what the teacher expected to happen…but didn’t communicate well. Teachers and coaches, being human, would grow frustrated by the students’ non-compliance and then grow frustrated and sometimes angry at the kids. You never want to be that teacher (or parent or coach) who is constantly chasing after and hollering at out-of-control students.
Whenever I had non-compliance from multiple students, I learned to ask myself before I scolded, “Was I clear in my instructions?” Or ask the students, “Do you understand what I asked you to do?”
Sometimes I hadn’t communicated what I intended. Other times, students understood but wanted to test me and my guidelines. At those times, it was important to follow through with the consequences I’d laid out-usually time out of the activity.
Years ago, I coached a group of Kindergartners and on our way to the field, we had to cross a small stretch of parking lot. There was a distinct line by the crosswalk where the kids could wait. On the first day of class, kids would always try to bolt across the lot ahead of me. (Oh, to have the energy of a 6 year old!) I loved the eagerness at participating and didn’t want to squash that by screaming at them to wait, to get back every day we had class. I learned the best tactic was to gather them all by the line that first day and explain that the parking lot could be dangerous because of moving cars and that the only way they were to cross, was at my direction. Failure to comply would result in a substantial “timeout” from class participation.
This was a valuable consequence because at that age, they all want to participate. I clearly pointed out the line where they had to wait. I even had them do a few practice runs by leaving the room and stopping at the line. If any kid took a step or even half a foot over the line, I would walk over and point to their foot. For the most part, that was all I needed to do to set the tone for the rest of the school year. I didn’t have to chase them down every day and they enjoyed having boundaries clearly laid out. It freed me up to be friendly and open rather than uptight and preoccupied with repeating myself over and over throughout the year.
It has to start with the coach, the teacher, the parent being clear on what you want and then communicating that clearly and following through on any discipline when necessary. The more clear I was with myself, the more clearly I could communicate it to them.
Meghan is very good about pulling me aside and ensuring we’re on the same page in what in our expectations and communication with Cash.
So when Cash tests us, we pass the parent test. Clearly. Consistently.
Reservations for Cash
The advice to parents of 16 month olds says to know your child’s temperament then accommodate situations accordingly to best suit him.
Meghan and I have noticed Cash assesses before he acts. Take him to a gathering and he’ll take in the surroundings before he engages.
So, as tuned in parents, we won’t force him to prematurely interact before he’s ready to. And to be clear with us and him that this doesn’t make him standoffish or cold. It doesn’t make him any less of a people person. Truth is, he is giddy at the sight of other kids. He loves every extended family member he meets. He smiles at strangers and wins over passersby all the time. He just prefers to observe his environment before he becomes a part of it.
Basically, he may not hug you when he enters the room but likely will when he exits.
We won’t criticize this disposition or make him feel its wrong. The fact he generally thinks before he acts is a positive attribute that I’m proud of and one I think will serve him well. I’m very similar. Apparently, I was the same way as a child and that has pretty much held true my whole life.
I enjoy observing and taking in my environment-lends itself nicely to my being a writer.
Not saying I’m a wallflower but I don’t need to be center stage. Often, the “center stagers” while entertaining, aren’t usually very good at being aware of the room beyond what they are doing.
Meghan is more of a dive in and find out after. She jokes that as a child she would grab the stove top burner, then ask, “Is this hot?!” while her the skin of her palm scorched. In contrast, Cash points to the burner and says, “hot.” I’m thankful for that awareness and so are the palms of his hands.
So our parental wish? We want Cash to be a risk-taker…but a calculated one.
Because Cash is the type who looks before he leaps, we know he’s going to land on his own two feet.
Big shoes to fill
As I’ve previously written about Cash’s extensive shoe collection https://wordpress.com/post/wisconsindadger.com/416 when he couldn’t even walk yet, I’m happy to update that he is a consistent walker now and putting his shoes-and ours-to use.
Cash hasn’t reached the stage where he seems to have any preference for the clothes he wears but he does have strong feelings about which shoes he wears. Even in the house, he always wants to wear shoes.
At first, we just thought it was a quirk or a novelty but then we realized it’s also a practicality. We have wood floors throughout and those onesie jammies with the feet attached don’t provide great traction.
Note: Some jammies and socks do have rubber gripping bottoms but we can’t always provide those for him. Meghan already does at least one laundry load per day. So, the shoes cover it for him.
Lately, Cash has tired of his (roughly) 30 pairs of shoes and boots and sneaked into Mom and Dad’s sneakers.
He, impressively, moves along in stride in the oversized footgear and clomps throughout the house.
As the song goes, while our Cash ‘walks the line‘, we must keep our eyes wide open all the time.
This kid’s no loafer.
Following in Daddy’s footsteps
I was looking forward to this day since Cash Michael Kennedy was first born over 15 months ago.
Been a long time coming and lots of early mornings and late nights but it’s paid off because the University of Wisconsin football Badgers have offered Cash a position on their roster in the Fall of 2033!
Wisconsin is joining the trend of other big time programs early age offerings. See Ohio State letter below from coach Urban Meyer to an Ohio one year old.
The UW’s only contingencies are that Cash score a 22 or above on the ACT’s and maintain a 2.7 GPA through high school so that he can gain admittance to the university.
These shouldn’t be a problem as he’s a smart kid. He can already identify his mouth, nose, ears, eyes, wee wee, and as of yesterday, his elbow.
It’s very likely Ivy League schools will be soliciting his gridiron services as well. We’ll just see what kind of financial incentives they can provide. I can only imagine tuition, considering current costs of college, will be about half a million dollars by then…roughly. He hasn’t said anything but I still think he’s leaning Wisconsin’s way.
Cash is very pleased with Wisconsin’s offer but wants to weigh all of his options before committing to the Badgers. He has about 16 more years to consider the offer, which should give him adequate time to make his decision. Don’t want to rush in to these kinds of things.
Daddy is very proud and hoping he wears my old number for my old team. Looks better on him if you ask me.
But wherever he decides to go, I want him to be happy and find the humor in life.
Like we do on April Fool’s Day.
Step down to the Mat
“It will be several years before he can distinguish between dreams and reality.”
This statement is widely accepted as common for 15 month olds.
It really puts in perspective how traumatic a bad dream can be and why, at times, Cash can wake up screaming. Meghan and I are horrified to think what frightening image or scene played out in his little head.
I’ve never been an alarmist or someone who wants to micromanage every minute of my child’s life but this concept should remind parents what they should and shouldn’t expose their kids to.
Sometimes I turn on the morning news show-when Cash is in the living room with me-to get the weather and some “light” interest stories: an upcoming city festival, construction projects, sports stories. As it shifts to the background of my attention, the show cycles through the national news and images of terrorist attacks, explosions, and protests flash across the screen. I lunge for the remote worried what Cash may have seen. Even though he doesn’t really pay attention to it, it worries me that these human pains reach his little mind without us being able to filter it or explain it to him.
We’ve now made it a point to have the TV on much less in our household. Instead of slowly waking up, coffee in hand while Cash plays with his toys in front of me, I now get off my lazy butt and turn off the TV (I can get weather reports from my phone), get down the floor and play with him. Apparently, I grunt often when my tired body plops on the floor next to him because now whenever Cash bends down, he makes grunting and straining noises. Sounds like daddy needs to get in better shape.
Anyway, this is a win-win, he gets more exposure to daddy and less to the atrocities of the outside world that our news is all-too-happy to berate us with.
Cash is going to have night terrors but if we can minimize them, we will. When we cap the night with a “sweet dreams” wish, we mean it.
One of our most important jobs as parents is as primary protectors. We aren’t going to consume the sensationalized negativity from our media and neither is Cash.
Sometimes taking a stand, means getting down on the floor.
As a Mutter of Fact
If everyone is Irish on Saint Patrick’s Day, now that it’s over, the non-Irish can return to their own nationalities. But almost half the intertwined strands of my DNA read Irish.
I’m an American Mutt-perhaps redundant considering two generations before me were born here as well-but my most prevalent nationality is Irish.
It’s also the one I take the most pride in and most identify with, even though many don’t think I “look Irish.”
This is based off the redhead, leprechaun stereotype-which is not really based in reality. Most estimations have, at most, 10% of the Irish population as redheads. Now, I do have olive-colored skin which is likely from my other nationalities-though the furthest south we’ve traced so far is Bohemian-the current Czech Republic-not exactly Mediterranean.
Interesting recent DNA research has actually confirmed that the Irish are close genetic relatives of the people of northern Spain. So, maybe that explains it? Tracing true heritage throughout the history of the migration of humankind is inexact at best. Anyone who thinks they really, really know all of their true heritage is full of, as the Irish say, ‘Blarney.’
So, I’ve chosen to identify with my understanding at least of the Irish culture. What aspects of it? The underdogs. Always fighting, literally and figuratively, with the British for respect and their independence.
I especially like the wit-humor tinged with a little bite to it. An example of an Irish ‘prayer’ goes,
“Lord, bless my friends. And bless my enemies too. Turn their hearts if you will…but if you can’t…turn their ankles, so I’ll know them by their limp.”
Or the one we had on our kitchen wall in the house I was raised in.
The Irish seem to have a raw awareness of life’s harsh realities met with a shrug, a smirk and a sonnet. Irish melancholy. The celebratory tone of an Irish wake. This bittersweet viewpoint on life explains the Irish connection with the arts.
Poets and writers (Yeats, Joyce, Lewis, Wilde, etc) It’s beautiful green bluffs often covered by clouds. Actors-there are many current leading men with Irish heritage-George Clooney, Chris Evans, Ashton Kutcher, Robert Downey, Jr, Bradley Cooper, Brad Pitt, Chris Kennedy, Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Matthew McConaughey, and Ryan Reynolds to name ten or so. Okay, maybe you can spot one name that doesn’t belong in there?
And the musicians in every pub every week throughout Ireland. The more famous-U2, Enya, Snow Patrol, The Coors, Thin Lizzy, The Cranberries.
While many countries’ passports have pictures of crowns, crests, and swords, the Irish passport has a musical instrument. (Harp.)
And so, I pass on this ancestory to Cash, who combined with Meghan, his American Mutt-er, has even more nationalities to his mix. We tried to represent many of them in a decorative, colorful way in his playroom.
Cash has many nationalities to take pride in and yet none that define him. Except maybe on one day in the middle of March, where he’ll feel a little extra special that he’s Irish.
I often write about being a parent to Cash but it goes without
saying writing that I’m a co-parent…and the lesser one at that.
I’m not minimizing my contribution, my paternal influence is equally important but Momma Meghan carries the heavier parenting load.
From childbirth (if you haven’t read about that https://wisconsindadger.com/2015/12/11/one-year/ through present she has been more responsive Cash’s highest and frequent demands. And while he has worn her patience to a nub on many occasions, as you can imagine a work-from-home mom would encounter, she has NEVER shown him that. Throw in that she is taking a chemistry class this spring while working and taking care of Cash everyday and still Cash wouldn’t notice an ounce of demeanor change in her.
Heck, the woman sing-songs during diaper changes and kisses Cash so often, it’s surprising his skin doesn’t have permanent lip markings.
Even when he squeals and moans and bites her finger while she scrubs his teeth each night, Meghan’s sweet smile remains.
I knew Meghan was the nurturing type going into our marriage and parenthood but she goes above and beyond my expectations nearly every day.
Somehow, though she is Cash’s constant companion and I mean constant…fact: in the fifteen months of Cash’s life, the longest Meghan has been apart from him is six hours, she still can get him to giggle uncontrollably and remain always happy to see her.
In comparison, I’ve been apart from him for a little over two weeks (back in August while handled the water damage in our house so Meghan and Cash extended their Northern California trip.) I know Cash missed me but our absence was definitely harder on me because, at least he was with his main caregiver Momma. There’s no way that situation could have been reversed.
I would put the healthiness of Cash’s diet against ANY baby’s in the world. If it were up to me, Cashy boy would have string cheese, cheerios and blueberries every morning. But, thankfully, it’s not. Meghan prepares his breakfast from scratch, running blenders, heating, cooling, peeling, cutting every day for almost every meal and snack. Mixing in vegetables and legumes I’d never heard of with “superfoods” and organic, additive-free, wholesome food for optimal opportunity for good health.
Beyond diet expertise, even more importantly, the love and exuberance Meghan shows Cash every day is the main reason he’s such a happy kid.
I can only imagine Cash can’t help but feel with every ounce of his being that his loved by both of us of course, but deep down he knows where his bread is buttered…organic on whole wheat.