My 3 Sons: Addicted to Baby Clothes

Originally published 10/19/11 on

Matthew is about to rock, and I salute him!

The trips to Target have always been dangerous for me. I would get lost in the electronics aisle, looking at the latest video games, movies and albums. It was rare that my wallet escaped unharmed, and I have more than 1,000 DVDs, CDs and video games to prove it. I once went to Target to purchase a storage bin and two hours later left with a Playstation and three games … and forgot the storage bin.

I have since escaped that addiction. I guess having the responsibility of feeding, clothing and housing my three sons was my cure. But I think I have taken that clothing responsibility too far as a new Target danger has emerged: the baby clothes aisle.

I never thought this would happen to me. I hate shopping for clothes. My wife Carla has picked out all my work/church outfits, and most of my other business casual clothes were given to me as gifts. If it isn’t a T-shirt, I likely didn’t buy it.

I evaded the baby clothes danger with my first two sons. Sure, I thought the funny slogans and teddy bears were cute, but I always let Carla “ohh” and “ahh” and select baby outfits. I figured it was a right due to women, who likely dressed up their dolls as little girls. As adults, they can now dress up their babies.

But for some reason, our third son Matthew has hooked me into baby clothes. He’s just so darn cute in them. Over his first nine months, I’ve been lured into purchasing several outfits. Most match his father’s rock star wanna-be personality. He has an AC/DC onesie, a long-sleeve shirt that says “Daddy’s Rock Star” and a onesie featuring the outfit of a leather-clad heavy metal rocker with room for his head to pop out. Hey, my son rocks, and I salute him.

When he’s not sporting the rock attire, he has an outfit for every occasion. On St. Patrick’s Day he wore a shirt that says “Irish You Would Kiss Me.” He showed his patriotism on Independence Day by wearing an “All-American Baby” onesie. We even dressed him for his first family reunion with a shirt that says, “Hi! I’m New Here.” I can’t wait for him to wear his skeleton with a pumpkin heart outfit on Halloween.

This addiction is so bad it travels with me. On a recent business trip to New York, I had to stop at every stand or shop offering cheesy tourist baby clothes, finally settling on a “NYPD” onesie. I figure he’ll keep the family safe. I spent $20 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago buying an overpriced White Sox onesie, because my wife is a Cubs fan and I’m trying to raise our boys right. A trip to Austin to attend a family wedding resulted in an “Austin is Weird” onesie — the town’s unofficial slogan.

I was told that Target is already stocking their shelves with Christmas ware. I’ll definitely be heading out to the store soon to get him his Santa outfit. And maybe I’ll pick up that storage bin too.

My 3 Sons: The Bedtime Battle

Published 10/12/2011 on

Jackson and Jaydon asleep, finally.

Weeknights used to be a time to unwind — having several hours of “me” time was the reward for a long, hard-worked day.

That was then. Now, the hours of 7-9 are the most dreaded of my day. Battling the clock to make sure everything’s done on time, cleaning up messes that may or may not require additional professional attention, breaking up verbal and sometimes physical fights, and dealing with endless whining, countless pleas and intense bargaining. No, I don’t spend these hours moonlighting at a biker bar or working as a prison security guard. In my house, this is bedtime.

The official bedtime in my home is 8 p.m., but the process is much longer. On a normal day it starts around 7, but normal days are rare — with Tae Kwan Doe, baseball practices, soccer games and church events to attend. We try to set the stage for a calm and quiet “wind-down” time, but my three sons have a different idea.

All technology is shut off as the time is reserved for imaginative playtime, leftover homework and/or reading. Despite this supposed wind-down time, a fight often brews between the boys over whose toy belongs to whom or which book to read, while we fend off requests to watch TV or play a video game. It’s amazing how much of a mess can result in imaginative playtime, as we discover around 7:30 when it’s time to clean up and take baths. I guess the boys imagine how much of a mess they can make.

We allow for several minutes of playtime in the tub. But night after night, our boys have a difficult time following one simple request – keep the water in the tub. It’s not for a lack of trying, but somehow Jaydon, 7, Jackson, 3, and Matthew, 8 months, all manage to fumble this task. Whether it’s Jaydon forgetting to close the shower curtain while showering, Jackson spilling a cup on the floor as he plays with toys on the tub’s ledge, or Matthew discovering the magical sensation of splashing, we always end up with a pond on our floor. Sometimes it even requires a plumber’s – and later a drywall repairman’s — attention, as the water dripped through our kitchen ceiling. At least we’re supporting our local economy.

Next up is the most dreaded part of the night – putting them down to bed. We read that structure is critical to a child, so we created a consistent bedtime routine: the older boys get changed, check off their accomplished tasks on their “responsibility chart,” say  nighttime prayers and we tuck each boy in bed with a kiss. It’s a routine that works for us. Unfortunately, they have established their own routine. First they plead with us to stay upstairs. Then they plead with us to keep on the lights. Then as we head downstairs, our toddler runs to us saying, “I thought you would stay upstairs?”

After a second tuck-in, we go downstairs and flip on the baby monitor. It’s quiet … until we hear the thundering footsteps of Jackson (amazing how a 35-pound child sounds like a giant when roaming the hallways), sometimes followed by the cries of our baby as Jackson thought it would be a nice gesture to toss toys in the crib.

Other times it’s followed by the screaming of Jaydon, as Jackson decided it would be a fun prank to flip on the bedroom lights and run back to bed. This process continues for almost an hour. It’s usually over after Jackson runs downstairs one last time saying, “I so sorry for going downstairs,” then heads upstairs to fall asleep, sometimes even in his bed.

Score: My Three Sons 1, Parents 0