Daddy and The Three Girls! – Part Deux

Day two of my adventure with the girls.  We had a lot of fun, but it’s good to have Mommy home.  Find out what we get into next.

Daddy and The Three Girls! – Part Deux.

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Daddy and The Three Girls! – Part Deux

220px-Hot_Shots_part_deux

As I noted in my last post, my wife, Carrie, was out of town Thursday and Friday at a conference, which meant I was in charge of making sure my three girls got to school on time, got picked up from school on time and were well fed.  I was also responsible for setting the social calendar as well as keeping the general peace.  This is a tall order for a Dad with three girls.

After spending my day Thursday playing Mr. Mom, I decided to take Friday off to make my day a little easier. Thursday was a disaster as far as how my day normally transpires. I am one who doesn’t like to feel rushed, and when I feel rushed, I don’t get much accomplished. And Thursday, I felt rushed!  So Friday was a day to focus on the needs of the family and myself.

The morning went pretty well.  We had packed lunches the night before and laid out the clothes for the next day.  All of the girls’ papers were signed and the bookbags were packed.  Planning ahead seemed to work well.  The girls ate a nutritious breakfast – Cocoa Puffs!  I know it doesn’t sound nutritious, but it really is.  There are more vitamins and minerals in Cocoa Puffs than can be found in a plate of vegetables.  The same can be said for Pop Tarts and Lucky Charms.  And they’ve done a pretty good job of cutting back on the amount of sugar in these products too.  If General Mills or Kelloggs needs a spokesman, I’m their guy.  I generally don’t condone breakfasts of sugary cereals and toaster pastries, but when Mommy’s away, I have to do what I can to make the girls happy.

I’ve digressed – again.  I dropped the older girls off at school without a hitch – no replay of Thursday where I pulled in the wrong lane.  Then I took Clarissa to the preschool.  We dropped off her bookbag, and then we walked down to the early dropoff room and….she just walked off.  She didn’t even say good-bye, didn’t wave, didn’t even acknowledge I was leaving her there.  To be honest with you, I was heartbroken.  No hugs or kisses.  She just walked in like a teenager would when they get dropped off at school.  She’s 4 years old going on 13.  It’s difficult to take, and I’m not ready to get used to it.  She’s the baby.

After I dropped Clarissa off, I went and got a quick bite to eat and went home.  I paid the bills, read the paper, checked the e-mail, and cleaned up a little bit.  I also had a couple of errands to run – buy a new shower curtain, pick-up the dry cleaning, and mail the bills.  I was getting some stuff accomplished.

12:00 – Time to get Clarissa.  Apparently, I showed up too early as Clarissa was not ready to go.  The little boys in the class were happier to see me than she was so I helped them clean-up the blocks.  I talked with Ms. Elizabeth and said hi to Ms. Pruitt, and finally Clarissa was ready to go.

12:15 – Time to prepare lunch for the princess.  She has requested cheesy pasta – not my forte, but I’ll give it a shot.  Apparently, Carrie allows her to assist with this process.  I’m not exactly inclined to let her help near a stove with boiling milk and water, but she says she helps all the time (I found out later that this was not the case).  I give it a shot.  Making cheesy pasta is a process that requires patience.  After 10 minutes, Clarissa wants her pasta, but it’s not ready yet I tell her.  I get “the look.”

12:30 – Pasta is done.  Applesauce and croutons on the table.  Croutons are not normally served with pasta and applesauce, but that’s what she asked for so I oblige.  We eat lunch and watch some shows – Dora the Explorer.  I’m so excited….

2:00 – Time to go get the big sisters.  Clarissa objects.  Her shows are still on.  I give her “the look.”  She gets her shoes on and we head to the car.

2:30 – Big girls in the car.  Heading home.  My boss is on the phone.  We’re trying to talk work stuff, but it’s hard to carry-on an adult conversation with three giggling girls.  I tell him that I need to go.

2:40 – We’re home.  It’s snack time!  Popcorn, Doritos, Nerds, Granola Bars, and a bunch of other stuff.  My daughters are as thin as rails, but they eat like horses.  Now we’re watching movies – Hello Kitty.  Lydia heads upstairs.  She’s too old for these shows.  I need to check the work e-mail and answer a few of them.

4:30 – Girls are asking when Mommy’s coming home.  8:00 can’t get here soon enough.  I walk in the kitchen and see Little Debbie cake wrappers on the counter.  Man, these girls are sneaky.

5:00 – Time to start thinking about dinner.  Pizza night.  Papa Johns online, but I don’t know the password.  Carrie handles ordering pizza – not me.  I text Carrie, but don’t get a response.  She must be in class still.  I could just pick up the phone and call, but we get points when we order online and I don’t want to miss out on the points.  I want the free pizza.

5:30 – The phone rings.  It’s Lydia’s friend Olivia.  Lydia’s going to spend the night.  They’ll come get her after they eat dinner.  Bummer – now I’ll have to watch Lydia chokedown some pizza.  She hates pizza.  Kinda weird for a 10 year old.  She apparently dislikes the sauce.

5:40 – I call Carrie.  I need this password.  We must collect points.  She’s getting ready to leave.  Hooray!  She’ll be home soon.  I get the password and order the pizzas.

5:50 – Lydia is packing and wants to borrow Ansley’s movie – Hotel Transylvania or Hotel Pennsylvania as Clarissa calls it.  Ansley has some reservations about letting Lydia borrow her movie.  Lydia loses things or forgets them.  This is why she doesn’t have an iPod.  I tell Lydia she can take the movie.  Ansley has a meltdown.  Mommy can’t get here soon enough.

6:00 – Girls and I are in the car to go pick-up the pizzas.  Clarissa doesn’t want to go so she complains about the music and her sister.  Ansley is in mid-meltdown over the movie.  I listen to my music.

6:10 – We have the pizzas.  I’ve successfully negotiated a deal for the movie.  If Lydia forgets it, Ansley gets $10.  Lydia now professes her love for her younger sister (sarcasm).  Ansley professes her love for her older sister (more sarcasm).  Little girls can be awfully mean.  Clarissa is still mad about the music and is kicking my seat.  Where is Mommy?

6:20 – We’re home with the pizzas.  Olivia and her mom show-up.  Lydia and Olivia eat some pizza.  Lydia’s idea of eating pizza is pulling off the cheese, wiping off the sauce, and eating the crust.  She takes about 4 bites and tries to hide the rest under a napkin.  I tell her that won’t work.  She gives me “the look.”  I make small talk with Olivia’s mom.

6:40 – Lydia’s gone.  Ansley and Clarissa are eating pizza and fighting about shows.  I negotiate a deal.  Animaniacs and then Dora and then Good Luck Charlie.  Carrie should be home before I have to renegotiate the terms of the deal.  I’m not sure how the next round of negotiations will go.  I don’t want to test it.

7:00 – I finally get to sit down and enjoy my pizza and watch Animaniacs.  Pinky and the Brain are my favorite.

7:45 – Mommy’s home!  All is right with the world again!

8:30 – Time for Ansley and Clarissa to go to bed.  Mommy’s home so she takes charge.  I head upstairs.  The girls and Carrie are in our room.  Getting them to bed tonight should be easy, but Clarissa has her own plan.  It’s hard to describe what happened next, but Clarissa was like a small Tasmanian Devil.  She couldn’t be stopped.  Ansley and Carrie took the brunt of it.  It was fun to watch, and Clarissa had a blast.  She’s happy to have her Mommy home.

9:00 – Girls are in bed.  Duck Dynasty is on.  Time to relax.

The past couple of days with the girls have been fun, but I need a breather.  I’m glad we had this time together, but it’s time for Mommy to take over again.  Time to get back to the routine.  I better enjoy it while I can because I’ll have to develop a new routine in about a month when Carrie goes back to work.

Wish me luck.

 

Daddy and The Three Girls

lydia ice cream

I am a man with a routine during the work week.  Up at about 6:15.  Shower, dress, feed the dogs, and out the door between 6:45-7:00.  Might stop for a biscuit on my way to work and then at work by around 7:30.  Thursdays, I eat breakfast at The Skillet.  It’s what I do.  It’s how I get my “me time.”

So when my wife left this morning to attend a conference in Columbia, SC, my routine was turned upside down.  Today and tomorrow I get to do what my wife does everyday – take care of my 3 princesses.  Actually, only one still considers herself to be a princess, but that’s a story for another day.  So for these two days, I have the privilege of taking the girls to school, picking them up from school, making sure their homework gets done, feeding them, and putting them to bed.  I help Carrie with a lot of these activities, but she normally makes all of this happen.  I have stayed home in the morning a couple of times to witness how all of this transpires.  I try to step-in and help, but I quickly realize that I only add to the drama of three girls getting ready for school, so I had some reservations about how these next two mornings will go.

I am happy to say this morning went pretty well.  I’m pretty sure Carrie threatened the girls in some form or fashion, but they won’t confess.  We got ready with a minimal amount of drama.  My oldest daughter, Lydia, tried to test some boundaries.  She came downstairs wearing a t-shirt that she normally sleeps in and her soccer flops – not my idea of nice school attire.  So I sent her upstairs to change.  She came back down in a nicer shirt and her second try with shoes was worse than the first – a pair of old moccasins that are about two sizes too small.  I gave her the “mean Dad” look, and she quickly changed her shoes.  Lydia’s new motto is “Dare to be Different.”  I admire the fact she wants to be different, but there is a right way and wrong way to do it.  Dressing like she just rolled out bed is not the right way.  If she wants to do that when she’s in college, that’s fine.  But she’s only 10 and still has to listen to her Daddy.  The other two girls weren’t a problem.  Ansley was on her best behavior.  I think her mom must have paid her off.  Clarissa was her usual self.  She always makes getting dressed an adventure.  They ate their breakfast (Cocoa Puffs), and we got out the door around 7:30.  Not too bad.

The drop-offs were a little adventurous, and I was running short on time.  I needed to get to the plant by 8:00, but deep down, I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  I pulled in the wrong drop off lane when I dropped the big girls off at school and had to wait for traffic to pass, and then when I took the “mouse”, aka Clarissa, we had to put-up the book bag, and she had to show me a couple of things before I left her in the loving care of Ms. Sharon and Ms. Lynn.  I got back on the road at about 7:45.  It’s amazing how much more traffic is on the road at 7:45 vs 7:00.  My normal 15 minute ride took almost 30 minutes.  Can you say road rage in a minivan?  I finally made it to work by 8:10.  Mission accomplished, but I knew the afternoon duties would be here before I knew it, and I needed to put gas in the van.  Carrie was nice enough to leave me a pick-up schedule before she left so how could I mess up?

1:40 – I should have left work about 10 minutes earlier to pick-up Clarissa by 2:00, but somehow I made it on time.  I hope the traffic cams didn’t see me running all of those yellow lights.  2:55 – Time to pick-up Lydia from her after school activity.  She helps collect all of the recycling from the classrooms.  When I was in school, this was considered a form of punishment.  Now, it’s an after school activity that kids volunteer to do.  Go figure.  Ansley has play practice and won’t be home until 6:30 – at least that is the plan.  More on that later.  3:30 – Time for Lydia to start her homework.  Math and a short essay about Rosa Parks for Black History Month.  4:00 – Time to proofread the essay.  Not a good effort.  I give Lydia “the look” again, and then help her fix mistakes before she re-writes it for the 4th time.  She’s mad, but Daddy doesn’t care.  I’m a little too demanding.  During this time, Clarissa is watching her shows.  She has to watch her shows.  Today, it’s Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Peppa Pig.  I can only hope that Days of Our Lives is still on when she gets older because she is a girl that loves her shows.

4:30 – 4th draft of paper done.  Find 3 misspelled words.  Lydia gets “the look” again.  Daddy gets “the look” from Lydia.  She fixes the words.  I talk to her about attention to detail, but she’s done with her homework so she’s tuning me out.  By 5:30, the girls are hungry for yet another snack.  So far, they’ve eaten popcorn, Doritos, fruit snacks, M&Ms, and whatever else they could find when I wasn’t looking.  I offer Clarissa yogurt which is apparently not what she had in mind.  Not junky enough, I guess.  We go back and forth for a few minutes.  I give her “the look” which doesn’t seem to phase her at first, but she eventually relents and takes the yogurt.  She’s a tough negotiator.  I almost caved and gave her the Cheezits that she was asking for.

6:30 – No Ansley yet.  Starting to wonder if I was supposed to pick her up.  Carrie had made arrangements for Ansley to get a ride home, but I was beginning to question if we really had that conversation.  6:45 – Still no Ansley.  Now I’m hungry.  Check the window a few more times.  Still questioning whether or not I was supposed to pick her up.

7:00 – Doorbell rings.  It’s Ansley and our friendAshley.  They had a parents meeting after play practice.  Ashley said she would fill Carrie in later about what was covered in the meeting.  She said that I had enough to worry about without trying to remember all of the details from the parents meeting.  Should I be offended by that comment?  Nope.  She’s right.  Plus, I’m really hungry now.  No time to talk.  Off to Chic-fil-a for dinner.  Are you surprised?  Did you really think I would cook?  When Dad is taking care of the kids, we have to eat out.  It’s a time honored tradition.

7:10 – Arrive at Chic-fil-a.  See a few friends.  They see I’m alone with the girls.  The men give me the “I feel bad for you” look.  The women think it’s sweet that the girls are out with their Daddy.  At least that’s what they say, but the looks on their face say “Now he knows how we feel.”

7:15 – Kids Meals purchased.  Finally sitting down to dinner.  Evil Ansley is eating with us tonight.  She gets really grumpy when she’s hungry.  Lydia decides to pick on her.  I quickly end this because it could get ugly.  The nuggets and fries are too hot to eat per Clarissa.  So much for a quick meal.  My kids like their food ice cold.

7:30 – Time to trade the Kids Meal toy in for ice cream cones with cherries on top.  This is Lydia’s creation, and how can the people at the counter tell her no when she looks at them with her big “doe” eyes.  Two make it back to the table with the ice cream intact.  Ansley does not.  One of the cherries falls off, and then she drops the ice cream.  Can you say meltdown?  Time to step into action.  Quick clean-up.  Calm Ansley down.  Try not to make a scene.  Can I do it?

7:32 – Daddy at the counter getting another ice cream cone for Ansley, but the girl only puts one cherry on it.  Will Ansley have another meltdown because it doesn’t have two cherries?  Should I ask for another cherry?  I’m not sure, but I’ll risk it.  I need to get back to the table.  It looks like Lydia is giving Ansley advice.  This could get ugly.

7:33 – Ansley is happy again.  Ice cream in hand.  All of the girls are happy now.

7:45 – Clarissa is still eating her ice cream.  Ansley is too.  Lydia finished her’s 5 minutes ago.  I offer to help them eat their ice cream.  I’m ready to get home.  I get “the look.”

8:00 – Heading home.  Ansley is mad that play practice lasted so long.  She’s mad because the other kids messed up so they had to redo the scenes that she is in 2 times.  She doesn’t have much patience at times.  She is also a kid who needs some downtime, which she did not get today.

8:15 – PJs on.  Teeth brushed.  Hair brushed.  Faces and hands washed.  No baths tonight.  They passed the smell test.  Now, I’m reading The Three Little Pigs to Clarissa.  The phone rings.  It’s Mommy!!  All is right with the world now.  The girls talk with Mommy.  Clarissa gives her the rundown from preschool.  Carrie normally teaches Clarissa’s class.  Clarissa gets her caught up on all of the gossip.  It’s funny to listen to.  The other girls talk too.  They’re happy again.  There is definitely a special bond between a mother and her children.

8:30 – Reading to the older girls now.  Bible stories.  Jonah and the whale.  Jesus and garden at Gethsemane.  Ansley is ready for bed.  Lydia is too.  Ansley farts in Lydia’s room before she leaves.  Lydia is mad and gives Ansley “the look.”  I laugh out loud.  Lydia gives me “the look.”

We’ve had quite a day.  Three little girls can wear a guy out.  I’m so out of sorts that I’m taking tomorrow (Friday) off.  I guess I had better get used to it though.  This is my practice run for when Carrie heads back to work in late March/early April.

I do hope that the girls had a good day.  I know I did.

Ansleyclarissa icecream

Open Mouth, Insert Foot

Daniel Goleman Book Jacket

Having self-awareness means you aren’t afraid of your emotional “mistakes.” – Travis Bradberry

On Thursday and Friday of last week, I was given the opportunity to sit in on a pilot class for my company on the subject of Emotional Intelligence.  This is a subject I have developed a keen interest over the past couple of years, and I thought it would be a great opportunity to provide some of my own perspective on the subject while gaining new knowledge.  In a nutshell, a person that displays a high level of emotional intelligence (EI) has a high level of both personal and social awareness in all aspects of his/her everyday life.  This person has the uncanny ability to quickly analyze people, situations, and themselves and make a decision in such a way that usually has a positive outcome for everyone involved.

Some of the leading scholars on the subject include Daniel Goleman and Travis Bradberry.  Goleman’s books include Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ and Working With Emotional Intelligence.  Bradberry’s main work is Emotional Intelligence 2.0.  Each author contends that people with high EI or EQ (Emotional Quotient) are typically more successful than those with a high IQ but low EQ.

I am a believer in this theory as I have seen many smart people fail in areas where some people of average intelligence have succeeded, and in each case, the person with average intelligence displayed a higher EQ.  I’m not saying that these people weren’t intelligent, but they were what I would call “street smart.”  And “street smarts” is something that people typically acquire over time.  They experience things that many others do not and use the knowledge gained from those experiences to help them make decisions on a daily basis.

So back to the class and why I was in there.  My company hires an exorbitant number of PhD-types, Engineers, Accountants, and people from other areas of the business and science world.  And honestly, many of these folks struggle with the EI part of the job.  These folks operate very well in the black and white world, but when it comes to working in gray areas, they can struggle at times.  We also hire a number of people right out of college which can be interesting too.  So a course like this would be beneficial if presented properly and at the right time.

I was once one of those people.  At the ripe old age of 27, I was given the opportunity to manage a group of about 60 production operators.  The experience for me was like riding a roller coaster.  Not only did I have to manage the people from a professional standpoint, but I also had to be there for them when they were having problems in their personal lives.  Also, when you have more than 60 people working for you, you find yourself being held responsible for their mistakes.  It’s during these times when having a high EQ is critical to being able to properly handle these situations.  One time in particular comes to mind where a little EQ training would have helped a great deal – so I will share.

We had a drill at work one day, and we had a couple of associates dress out to go perform a search and rescue operation.  The guys had on full turnout gear (fireman stuff), and they were hooked up to SCBAs (scuba gear).  When they reached the scene, they decided not to turn on the SCBAs before entering the area.  So the conductors of the drill added them to the group of injured people in the drill, leaving them to be rescued by another team.  When I found out about this later that day, I was furious.  On top of that, we had a number of issues occur around that same time which only compounded my feelings of anger and rage.  So the next morning, I held the production operators over for a little talk.  At that point, I was still pretty amped up.  I wanted to get my point across and let them know I wasn’t going to tolerate mistakes and doing jobs halfway, so I invented the now imfamous “Stupid Policy.”  Do something stupid and pay the consequences.  That was my message.

At some point after I had uttered those magic words, I realized I had gone too far.  And I couldn’t take it back.  I had put my foot in my mouth.  I was mad, and I had let my emotions get the best of me.  At that point, my EQ was really low.  I mean really low.  As I sat in the class, I began to wonder how many people that I work with or work for me have made the same mistake and how having the fundamental knowledge from this class would have helped me better handle that situation.

At that point, I was sold.  Sign up the managers in my plant.  Sign up some of the people I work with and some of the people I work for.  Many of the others in the class with me saw the light too.  We all thought introducing the EI concepts as early as possible would only help new managers – especially those that had not had a great deal of life or professional experience.  Even if they didn’t totally buy into the concepts at the time, they would still learn the concepts associated with EI.  It can only help.

I am at the infancy of my EI journey.  I have read articles.  I have taken the self assessment (I found out that I am above average).  I have started analyzing where I need to improve from an EI standpoint.  I am looking to gain more and better knowledge about the subject, and at some point, I hope to share this knowledge with my team!  I think it’s a worthwhile venture – not only for me but for my team as well.  Not only do I think it can help them and myself from a professional standpoint, but it can help them from a personal standpoint too.

What do you think?