The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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February 1, 2013

LEVINE: A little ‘help’ will go a long way soon

CLINTON — Having a child is a unique experience.

I can’t remember what life was like when I was just married and didn’t have a small human running around my house. I’m sure I thought I was tired and the world revolved around me.

Almost three years after knowing what “being tired” really felt like, my family is now ready to welcome another little addition.

As we go into two-children mode, I keep telling myself that it won’t be too hectic, especially since my mom had three kids younger than 3 years old. Many people have survived multiple children. Television shows hit the airwaves annually with people popping out a herd of children. And we’ll have a “helper,” in our soon-to-be 3-year-old daughter, who is ecstatic about a new baby brother or sister.

Oh wait, lately, she’s been only excited about a new baby sister. A month ago, she was positive she was getting a new baby brother. At least she’s learning at a young age to hedge her bets.

Her helping is an asset that we will have to adjust to during our first few months. I was hoping I wasn't the only one, but I didn’t write anything down during our first go-around with a newborn. At the time, I figured there was no way that I would forget how to properly warm up frozen breast milk, what was the best strategy for sleeping and how to keep my cool during moments of insanity.

However, I was wrong, and after talking to my wife, I think it may have slipped her mind, too. This must be why teachers always harped on us to take notes.

We’re back to square one, but our helper could make a big difference.

She loves babies. She has more baby dolls than I can count and every one of them receives plenty of attention.

Unfortunately, sometimes those babies get left in the car during cold weather or “misbehave” and get sent straight to time out. It doesn’t seem like the dolls get a fair shake during these incidents, since they can’t defend themselves properly.

We may have to temper her totalitarian approach to discipline with a real baby, but we can definitely use the extra eyes to keep law and order in the home.

Her excitement for babies is incredible. When I was a child, babies were the last thing on my mind. I wanted to play and watch sports 24/7. Her response to sports is a little different.

“Are you ready for some football?” I ask, turning on the TV to football.

“No!” my daughter usually replies, running into the other room in her attempt to plead with Mom to allow “Cinderella” to be played.

But when babies are in the room that are actually real, I can watch anything I want because her focus is completely on that baby.

The only problem is that she doesn’t want to let go of that baby for any reason. And sometimes she’s a little rough putting the bottle in the baby’s mouth, so we may extend the olive branch to help.

However, she doesn’t appreciate our assistance.

Instead, she wants to do things on her own, and wants to kick us to the curb, which is a growing sentiment on a daily basis. What good is 27 years of experience when 2 years is enough? I wonder if teenagers act the same way...

But her assistance will be valuable this time, as long as we can have a say in a few things in regards to the new baby.

Her interest in babies is all dependent on how she accepts the new role as a sister. My wife and I wouldn’t know how that feels, since we’re the babies of our families.

This will be a change, especially since she’s attached to my wife at the hip. She loves playing with Mom and hanging out on the sofa, all the while learning the alphabet and singing “Twinkle, Twinkle.”

Now she may have to hang out with me a little more, which would require an increased interest in learning wrestling moves like the “camel clutch,” understanding why zone blocking is essential to a quality running game in football and discover why “Die Hard,” is the best movie of all time.

Or I may have to adjust my routine a little, and drink more “tea,” pretend that I’m a wizard (because as my daughter says, boys are wizards and girls are princesses), and receive a new hair-do, through the use of her comb that is supposed to be used on her toy horse’s hair.

I’m not sure what will happen in the coming months, but what I’m certain about is that my routines will change, and I better get ready for a new hairstyle every now and then.

Scott Levine is the Clinton Herald’s associate editor.

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