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Dads on Auto-Repeat


Way back in the day, my dog at the time was a Dalmatian and beagle mix, Patches. He had short legs and a big head along with a blaring bark. The intellect, endurance, and speed of the Dalmatian mixed with the curiosity, high energy, and destructive nature when experiencing separation anxiety gave me my fair share of headaches.


Patches would cleverly overcome any obstacle blocking his boredom and curiosity. In my early 20's, I planned a small BBQ for a few friends of mine to celebrate moving into an apartment community that was one step ahead of my previous one. Wanting to impress, I told myself I would be the super host and actually plan out a menu. The appetizers were honey BBQ wings, nachos, and gourmet bacon burgers that I planned to make for the finale.


My guests started showing up. I went into super host mode serving drinks and appetizers. I had the music going, and mingling was in high gear. The goal was to start grilling the burgers 30 to 40 minutes after we began due to the time slot reserved for the community grill.


My buddy Jarvis said, "What time are you going to the store? I thought you only had the grill for an hour." I replied, "Oh man, I thought I had plenty." As I was walking in the kitchen, I noticed what he was speaking to. The 2 pounds of ground beef went missing from the counter, and the definition of insanity kicked in at that moment. I opened and closed the refrigerator and freezer door at least 20 times. I walked to my car 5 times. I even checked my spare bedroom/office space. Finally, I looked at Patches, and in my old-school Wendy's commercial voice, I echoed, "Where's the beef?".


However, I knew there was no way his short legged-self could have gotten on the counter. I ended up going back to the store, this time purchasing frozen burger patties. The BBQ continued, and we ended up having a good time. That evening, I cleaned up and went to feed Patches as he sprinted off his dog bed and completed a baseball slide into the dog bowl. That's when I saw the ground beef package underneath his dog bed. I was bewildered. How is this possible? How could a dog with legs that replica two of Gail Dever's nails get himself on the counter? Then add in the brilliance to hide the evidence. I was so impressed and still slightly upset that I had to share the story with someone. As I humored my mother with the story, mom said, "My son, you've just had your first test in parenthood."


No way, I foolishly echoed. Pets have to be more challenging than children. Children can retain the information; with pets, you have to constantly be on auto-repeat.


Was that ever an inaccurate comment. In dad mode, I find myself on auto-repeat at least thirty to one million times a day. ("Please stop, put that down, how many times must I say, you're not allowed to hit, you'll go to bed early" and a few more). For an athlete, repetition can help them improve their athletic ability; for dueling pianists, repetition can add a level of showmanship that will leave Chazz Michael Michaels from Blades of Glory, saying, "Now that got the people going." However, for us parents, repetition of words can turn into exasperation on our faces.


Parents, our days are long and often thankless. Whether we are working parents challenged to find the excellent home/work-life balance or stay-at-home parents who are taking on the ever-changing daily needs of our children along with cleaning, cooking, and reviewing school assignments; neither is easy, which can contribute to parents feeling frustrated and annoyed when in the act of repeating information to our children.


In these moments of frustration, I have learned that it's me (dad) who is causing the frustration. I have worked myself up and confused my children with the tone of my voice and expressions on my face. I had to take a step back and sing the Daniel Tiger song for myself. Parents with toddlers may have used this before as well, "When you feel so mad that you want to roar, take a deep breath and count to four." It may seem slightly silly as an adult to sing the Roar song in your head. However, it helped me put things in perspective. My lack of patience was my own doing, not my children's.


Children learn in various ways; one of the earliest and most influential is listening to and watching their parents. Even if we think they are occupied with something, they seem to still take notice of our actions and will repeat them. Not to say children won't test your patience daily because they will do that for sure. However, it's our responses to these moments that I feel will have a tangible impact on our children.


Dads, we are humans and make mistakes. However, we can overlook that our little ones are tiny humans, and while they may not have the vocabulary to articulate this just yet, they are learning by our example. Our moments of frustration towards them show them disapproval, disappointment, or even dismissiveness. I would instead show them that they are valued as tiny humans. A reassuring smile can genuinely make all the difference; gentle words bring warmth and positivity.


My babies, 2 pre-kindergarteners and a toddler are in the early stages of learning. I had to take a step back and realize that my children learn by stimulating their curiosity and senses with their Matthew Henson level of exploration and asking more questions than a Google user. When these moments occur, Dads, I encourage you to sing the Daniel Tiger song if needed, put on that award-winning smile, and genuinely embrace the joyous, impactful auto-repeat. Practice makes perfect, and repetition is the base for skill development and accomplishments.


Science says that learning requires electrical energy to create neural connections. As these neural connections begin to form in children, we've learned that repetition is a necessity in the building block of strengthening those connections that will help them learn and develop. I've seen how the repetitive process holds true with my children understanding right from wrong, what's harmless or harmful. I believe this is at least partly why it's said that children thrive with consistency.


I've consistently found myself repeating "stop," "no," and "please be kind." Their actions consistently display "make me," "yes I will," and I'm kindly not listening." All jokes aside, Dads, our kiddos, thrive off of repetition and will explore and learn when they feel secure knowing that their basic needs are being met. Next time you find yourself feeling frustrated when stating the same thing repeatedly to your tiny humans, take a second to recognize you're doing a great job, and this is just a part of their development.



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5 Comments


cj inge
cj inge
Oct 09, 2021

A highly relatable and motivational read.

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Matt Perkins
Matt Perkins
Jun 28, 2021

Great post! The Daniel Tiger song is useful for parents with teenagers as well.

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Saul Speights Jr.
Saul Speights Jr.
Jun 27, 2021

Great read! I totally related to this.

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Saul Speights Jr.
Saul Speights Jr.
Jun 27, 2021

Great read! I totally related to this.

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Roger Maggio
Roger Maggio
Jun 26, 2021

Well done as always

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