The Kid Equation

August 30, 2011 at 5:00 pm Leave a comment

Here is my theory: Take any task, add a kid, and the complexity of that task is multiplied by ten.

(x+kid) = 10x

The mundane activity of getting ready to go to the store, for example, was simple before kids: grab wallet, keys, and coat (if necessary), then out the door I went. Now I have a list of items to consider and tasks to accomplish before gathering my party and venturing forth*.

What’s Our Situation?

There are several things to consider when planning your trip. Let’s start with our traveling companion. I do a mental assessment of my daughter’s status. When was the last time she went to the potty? When was the last time she ate? How close is she to a nap? If she’s ready for any of those things I make sure they happen before I go on the trip, if possible. I would rather postpone the trip until she gets some sleep, goes to the potty, or eats. It is better to wait than to deal with a tired and hungry kid that could unleash her intestinal fury while standing in a long line at the grocery store.

Where Are We Going?

Often Hop Dads have to go to the hardware store and pick up heavy, awkward things like lumber or bags of concrete. Not an easy task while looking after a kid. Same goes for stores with lots of breakable things within a child’s reach. There is also a percentage chance my daughter won’t be in any mood to ride in a cart so I have to be willing to extend our shopping trip to accommodate her energy and curiosity. Recently, I did make good use of a laundry tub I wanted to purchase at the hardware store for brewing. Little Hop fit nicely inside and she got a fun ride to the checkout stand.

Getting Motivated

When it becomes time to get rolling the first step to getting my kid in motion is announcing we’re going to the store. If she’s in the mood she’ll jump at the chance and we’re off to a good start. However, she may be involved in something else at the moment so I need to frame our adventure in such a way that it sounds more interesting than what she’s currently doing (peeling labels off of crayons, for example). If it’s the hardware store I tell her she can run around the aisles and see lights and plants. If it’s the grocery store I tell her we can go shopping and buy some ice cream or chocolate for Mom. The pet store is the easiest: “Let’s go find Nemo!”

Going Equipped

Once she has been convinced of the good times she will have on our trip we need to make sure she is fully equipped for our adventure. If she is missing any of the clothing necessary for a road trip I send her off to find it; usually that means shoes and/or a coat. This creates my moment to grab my wallet and begin the search for the keys. These days my keys are rarely where I left them. More likely they are hanging in the lock of one of the house doors, a wrong key having been jammed into the keyhole.

When my items have been accounted for I search for the kid. She is usually found rummaging through her enormous shoe box looking for the pair she believes are appropriate for our adventure. If she can’t find both shoes, I immediately locate another pair and offer them as an alternative. My option will be summarily dismissed, “No, Dada.” We both look for the right shoes. Kids are constantly growing so there is always the possibility that the shoes she wants to wear no longer fit. This can’t be explained to her. She must be shown the painful truth that we can’t cram her princess feet into those beloved pink crocs anymore.

If we need coats there is always at least one pink coat on a hand-painted, butterfly-shaped hook in her bedroom. I have no idea why in the midst of the disaster that is her bedroom, she leaves her coats on that particular hook undisturbed. I should hang everything I own on that hook.

My daughter is at that stage where her curiosity, confidence, and manual dexterity are good enough to secure snaps. However, she isn’t quite up to the challenge of zippers yet though she will try and try and try again. If I attempt to do it for her she swiftly turns her back to me and gives me another “No, Dada”, her hands locked in mortal combat with the zipper ends. So, I wait until the patience of one of us is gone and zip up her coat.

Sheep Ride Shotgun

If we are traveling by car it is important for her to have a companion. This is usually one of her herd of stuffed animals, or sometimes a book. To speed this selection process along I suggest two or three of her favorites, like Sunny the Sheep, Hop Hop the Frog, or Rudolph the Reindeer. On rare occasions, she has her own idea or simply can’t make up her mind. We have a giant laundry basket full of cloth animal avatars to choose from and they may all be carefully considered. The clock ticks ever on.

Near to our goal, the last stage of preparation involves securing Little Hop into either the car seat or the stroller. They both have straps with snaps, so, you know what’s next: “No, Dada. I do it.” I patiently wait until she accomplishes her task, or pinches her little hand in a snap.

With the little one dressed, equipped, and secured, we are now on our way. See, that was easy!

New Variables in the Equation

What I’ve just described is an example of the kid equation in its simplest form: (x+kid) = 10x. As I experience life with children the equation grows larger and more complex. Other variables are appearing, such as time (T) and attitude (A). I’ll revisit this kid equation concept regularly and post my theories for peer review.

* Nerd alert!

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Entry filed under: Being Dad. Tags: , .

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