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My child is a biter

Mrs Mandias left early this morning to update her First Aid Certificate. As a pharmacist it is an important credential to have in her line of work. I wasn’t listening when she mentioned the content of the refresher course, although I do recall hearing something about CPR. Resuscitation is all well and good but after this morning with our youngest boy lets hope they had a small section on treating bite wounds.

Yes, you read correct, Mini Mandias Version 2.0, is a biter. Not just a small nibbler either. He is a ‘grab them with two hands, molar cruncher’. This morning while trying to rearrange our garage into a something resembling order I heard a scream from the lounge. (Yes, the boys had been left unattended but when I left them they were fine.) I raced into the lounge to find Version 2.0 riding Version 1.0 like a horse while intermittently biting him on his back. With perfect parenting skills I jumped in to stop that kind of behaviour straight away. No son of mine is going to be a horse rider!!

After a lecture to both of them about engaging in such a pathetic sport I then had to deal with the issue of biting.

I will come clean and say this is not the first time this has occurred with our youngest boy. A couple of weeks ago, after picking up my boy from day-care I was taken aside by the manager. She explained to me that our boy had been biting other kids and that we should have a talk with him at home about inappropriate biting. What made things worse was that later that evening we had the annual Day Care BBQ where all the families get together for a meal. It is the one time of the year when parents get to meet each other and gossip. This year it was the Mandias household at the root of the gossip tree. I noticed the sly glances and shady whispers by some of the families as the meal progressed. Thankfully Mrs Mandias did a fantastic job smoothing over the obvious tension. She should be a UN peace keeper.

Biting is apparently a natural part of growing up and statistics show that 74% of young children bite other children in the course of their development. I just made this statistic up, but already it makes me feel much better as a parent. Despite my statistic, it doesn’t help with how to deal with a problem when it is your child.

Over Easter I asked the best mother I know and she said that to deal with biting children she bit them back. “Bite them once, and bite them hard.”

The irony that she is now a social worker has not been lost on me and perhaps that is a line I will pursue in the future.

Today however I didn’t really know what to do. Thankfully, while I dallied like the inexperienced parent I am, Version 1.0 came to the rescue as I fumbled through my options.

“He should go to his bedroom.” The older one yelled.

I agreed and the younger boy was marched straight to his room and given a stern talking to. He was granted a reprieve from his isolation a few minutes later and within minutes the boys were playing together like they were long lost buddies. That is the blessing of boys, they play hard and they forget easily. Thankfully the issue will be a distant memory in their minds as much more dirty water will have flowed under their bridges before Mrs Mandias gets home. What she doesn’t know won’t hurt her.

In memory of biters everywhere here is the world’s greatest biter.


Holidays – when good parents go bad.

Parenting is difficult at the best of times. However, in the school holidays it takes on a whole new level of stress. It seems to me that every holiday my children start to exhibit two disorders – the onset of ADHD during the day and then insomnia at night time. Individually these could be dealt with but when the two are combined it can be a nightmare.

Yesterday we visited an impressive World War One flight museum in Blenheim. Each aircraft had been impressively reconstructed into an  impressive scene. There were crashed planes in trees, snow scenes and even a recreation of the crashed Red Baron. The results were outstanding. To keep patrons off these impressive exhibits there was an alarm system which emitted a loud, ear piecing buzz. Within 17 seconds of paying our entry fee our youngest boy had set the alarm off and already come face to face with the Red Baron, by trying to remove his helmet. Needless to say thesecurity guard kept a close eye on us for the remainder of out 2 hour visit.

With this kind of pressure it is not surprising that sometimes parents do some strange and silly things with their children. Sometime parents just don’t get it right with their children and fortunatley there is often a camera to etch that moment in history. The photos below are not intended to offend, so just enjoy them for what they are – parents dealing with children under the stress of holidays.

next time I will use super glue!!!

Dont know why you are crying son. Be a real man and snuggle into the lion.

just waiting for my other son to come down from the 'Tower of Terror'

we dont want to promote the throwing of food.

I told him twice to be quiet so now he must face the consequence

better than leaving them at home alone

I gave him a choice; Walk or take the trolley. He choose the trolley.

a simple game of Hide 'n' Seek gone terribly wrong.

SWEARING CHILDREN – Our 3-year-old has just started.

Our 3-year old boy has just started swearing. Now we are not talking about the little minor swear words that you often hear from mothers and aunties when they get a little annoyed. That wouldn’t be so bad and we could just deal with the problem by ignoring the word and hoping it will go away. Instead our boy has gone straight to the highest word in the land and has started dropping the “F” bomb whenever he feels the need. He has used it a couple of times in public and frankly it is embarrassing. Whoever, taught him this word is a master of linguistics and correct pronunciation. The ‘F’ is pronounced strong and true and there is a real kick on the finishing ‘K’. To all who hear there is no confusing this word for truck, muck or even puck.

I was raised in a relatively conservative protestant family where using a swear word is almost as bad as signing allegiance to the Nazi Party. Any swearing was dealt with severely and this has had an effect on me. Even now the minor word ‘crap’ is still an issue for me to use in public, although writing it in a blog seems okay with my conscience. Therefore, this kind of behaviour from my own child comes as a big concern. Added to that is the social embarrassment from having your 3-year-old child use language that is frankly disgusting and socially unacceptable.

The first thing you ask when your child starts swearing is where did they learn such language. You then start to retrace your steps and hope that it wasn’t you who inadvertently let a bad word slip, during a crucial All Black game, and now your child is copying you. After you realise it can’t have been you, questions and statements are naturally direct at your wife or husband.  

“You are the one who talks like that around home.”

“They are only mimicking the way you speak when that sport is on.”

Ultimately however, such language is either learnt through the one of life’s key education settings; Television or in the playground. After I had interrogated my child I found that he had learnt the word at his Day Care. This came as a relief as I was therefore off the hook but it has raised some concern about our child’s friends and the quality of the Day Care.

After you are off the hook the natural thing to do is really analyse swearing and try and work out its place in society. The reality is that virtually all people swear, and they swear consistently throughout their lifetime. The latest statistics show that we swear on average from 0.3% to 0.7% of the time — a small but significant percentage within our overall speech. When you consider that on average humans speak 16,000 words a day this equates to just under 160 swear words spoken be every person every day.  Let’s not beat around the bush, swearing is more common than you might think.

One important point must be made with the above statistics. Most men reading this would struggle to remember the 16,000 words they spoke today. That is because, although 16,000 words is the human average, 13,000 belong to women and 3,000 to men. Therefore, using the Labour Party School of Statistically Analysis, women are over 4 times likely to swear than men.

After realise swearing is an important part of our society you then to strategize how you will deal with the problem when it spurts forth like a cascading river next time in the supermarket. Ignoring is an option but I often find that futile and seldom does it work in a public place. Something more direct needs to be used if you ask me. So I looked on the web and found that while smacking is now not an option, nowhere in section 59 are the words soap and mouth used in the same sentence. With this news I have bought a small ‘soap on a rope’, and have it hanging around my hand, just in case the wee boy wants to show the word his expanding vocabulary.

I am happy to say that this technique worked for a while and apart from one ugly scene in the local petrol station the soap on a rope worked well. This was until I was watching the news with my son just the other night. One Network News led with a story about Paul Henry calling a musician a ‘retard’ which prompted this conversation.

“Daddy what’s a retard.”

“It is not a very nice name for someone. You shouldn’t use it.”

“Daddy are you are retard?”

“No, and I don’t want you to use that name again.”

“Retard, Retard, RETARD, RETARD.”

Fortunately the next news item came on which seemed to disrupt my child’s thought flow and made him sit down. Equally fortunately was the speed I moved with when the news reporter opened with this sentence.

“ John Key has come out publically and said that Hone Harawira must prove to the public that he meant his apology for his “racist, hurtful” comments where he called the Pakeha of New Zealand Whitemother…” CLICK

“Dad why did you turn off the TV so quickly?”

“Just because son. Do you want to go and play soccer?”

Should we have a Third Child???

baby_htmWithout doubt one of life’s biggest decisions is whether to have a third child. Currently that is something that my wife and I are thinking about. Having children is an exciting roller coaster ride. There are the highs of major personal milestones and enjoyable family times. There are also the lows that sometimes feel like the dripping water torture the Japanese used to use in the war. Without doubt parenting is a little more hard work than I thought it would be.

For me having children is like running a marathon. Like a marathon having children is just plan hard work. The daily, uninterrupted, constant grind of child rearing is similar to the non stop grind of running for an entire 42km. In both parenting and running there are times when you just want to stop and times when all you want to do is curl up and lie down. However, despite this when you finish a marathon there is immense satisfaction and joy. A real sense of accomplishment and pride in what you have achieved. The same is the case with having children.

Currently we have two great boys but as I have alluded there has been recent murmur in our family of increasing that number. For me, bringing it back to the marathon, it is like someone asking me to do another. Sure it would be good, but can I hack the training, the early mornings and the share hard work. Prior to any big decision you need to weigh up both sides of the ledger.

The first considering in our day and age must be financial and the cost of children is a biggie. A quick search on the net reveals some startling facts. The United States Government estimates that it now costs $291,570 to raise a child in America t the age of 18. This compares to only $25,000 in 1960 when the yearly figure started to be published. Convert that to New Zealand dollars and you are looking at over $500,000. Prior to having kids I would have thought that those numbers were often extremely high. Having two kids I now consider those statistics very conservative. Children are like weddings. A mere mention of the word doubles the price without question. I personally believe when you add together everything, including the loss of income, the cost of caring for a child to the age of 18 would probably cost around $700,000. The fact that now most people raise their children until they are 21, and university fees could be included, it probably puts it over $800,000.

The next problem for me is one of race. I am not racist but there are some vital statistics which must be examined prior to thinking about a third child. Apparently, in recent years China’s population has exploded like a giant teenage zit. This effectively means that now every third child born into the world is Chinese. Because our next child would be our third, this means there is a high probability our next child could be Chinese. I have nothing against the Chinese, they put on an excellent show at the Olympics, but I see two problems. Firstly, I don’t know how to speak Chinese as there are so many sub languages I could end up with a child that speaks some remote pigeon mandarin. This would cause problems with his/her schooling as very few schools cater for Chinese speaking children. Secondly, I haven’t found a Chinese first name that matches my last name.

Finally we have the problem of the babies’ gender. We currently have two boys, which means we are then only 50% away from having 3 boys. Now I came from a family of 3 boys and realise the blessing they are. Unfortunately, I don’t know if my wife is that enthused about the possibility of being the only woman in a 5 person family. The upside is that boys are much easier to raise and live with than girls and cause far fewer problems. But hey I already knew that.

So you can see there are some big decisions to be made in this household. None of them will be easy and all of them having rather impressive consequences. Really I see that it boils down to a couple of things. Do we stick with the status quo and leave it at two great boys? Or do we take a punt and effectively spend $800,000 on something that might turn out to be both Chinese and male? Guess we will have to just wait and see.