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The stay-at-home dad: Always be my babies

by TYLER WILSON/Coeur Voice contributor
| October 3, 2020 1:00 AM

Being a parent in the smartphone era allows for frequent research and reflection. With hours of video evidence of my four kids at my disposal, it’s fascinating to re-experience their growth through their various stages of development.

My wife and I can burn an entire Saturday evening just looking at old videos and pictures of our kids. It’s a mix of joy and sadness, as I miss the “baby stage” of our lives as parents so much.

Some things, however, stay exactly the same. Consistent and specific personalities have been evident in all our kids as babies, toddlers and so on.

My oldest daughter, now 9, is a natural questioner and probably as argumentative as her dear dad. She needs a thorough explanation for everything. If she doesn’t understand the “why” of a given request, she won’t commit to it until she’s provided a legitimate reason (or several reasons).

A video of her at age 2ish demonstrates this personality trait in its purest form. In it, she spends two minutes ranting about why she wants her mom to turn on an episode of “Curious George” during “No TV time.”

It’s much cuter than her current rants at age 9, mostly because her baby voice holds the title of Cutest Thing I’ve Ever Heard. It’s just delightful to hear a baby voice with such advanced sentence structure.

Highlights:

“I love ‘Curious George.’ It’s a good show and it makes me happy. You want to make me happy, don’t you?”

“Why is it no TV time? Why now? Tell me why. Why?”

“You should let me watch ‘Curious George’ because I haven’t watched ‘Curious George’ yet today.

“Why can’t I watch ‘Curious George’ right now? We’re not doing anything else.”

“I learn a lot from ‘Curious George.’ Like how you can wear hats all the time.”

“If you don’t let me watch ‘Curious George,’ then I’m going to be mad at you!”

My oldest son, now 7, is such a sweetheart, but he’s always been prone to huge emotional outbursts. He loves hard, and he rages harder, even when his anger stems is spawned by his own illogical choices. This tendency hinders him in school, as he’ll get mad at himself for not understanding something but make a purposeful choice to ignore the explanation.

As a baby, he’d get really mad about the smallest of things. His “new walker” days provide the best video evidence of this, especially one video in which he freaks out over getting his foot stuck in a little toy washing machine. After throwing a huge tantrum, he eventually gets his leg loose. Then what does he do? Puts the foot back in the washing machine hole and freaks out all over again.

In the same video, he finally abandons the washing machine and works to tip his little kiddie recliner over on its back (a challenging task for a new walker). Then he tries to sit in the chair normally but throws another fit because he can’t because it’s tipped over on its back.

My youngest daughter, now 5, was probably the most “content” of all our babies. Very little bothered her, probably because in those earliest days she had to learn how to tolerate the noise and shenanigans of two wild older siblings.

But through the years, when something was important to her, she’d be as stubborn angry as anyone. She showed her most extreme frustration by frowning in such a way that scrunches her face into a mass of wrinkles and flares her nostrils to the size of a huffy Tyrannosaurus Rex.

She’s been making this exact face since she was born… those nostrils flared and her face scrunched at her first fit of hunger after being born. We’ve got videos of this face at every age, including a recent fit about going to bed on a school night (being a new kindergartener is exciting… and tough).

And our youngest son, age 3, knows he’s the true baby of the house, as he demonstrates a certain “show for attention” in nearly every video. As a baby, you can see him smirk at every doting moment from his parents and siblings.

The attention-seeking is a bit more overt nowadays thanks to his ability to “say cute things” or make the other kids laugh with constant mention of poop. He still does the same smirk though, most noticeable after his current favorite gag, where he says something ridiculous, shrugs his shoulders and shouts “WHAT?!” with sarcastic gusto.

Nearly all of this smartphone evidence leads me to the same conclusion: My babies are all still with me… just taller, louder and a bit more articulate when talking about their farts.

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Tyler Wilson is a freelance writer and stay-at-home dad to four kids, ages 3-9. He is tired. He can be reached at twilson@cdapress.com.