All posts by mike

Scenes from Saturday + Birthdays & Boxes

I had a presentation this week. I wasn’t dreading it. I was prepared, but I also wasn’t really looking forward to it. It was taking up a lot of mental space. I also had some baking to do for the weekend’s celebrations. I was looking forward to the baking (and the eating).

It all happened at the same speed. Love it or hate it. Time keeps moving.

Cecilia turned 15 yesterday. We ate pasta and cupcakes. She opened presents. I tried to appreciate all of it.

Never wish for less time.

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Scenes from Saturday + Dance Hall Days

In the labyrinth of high school education, where every day presents a new academic challenge, there lies a subtler curriculum on the art of actually living that does not get measured on state testing but perhaps offers a much better measurement and insight into whether your child might be paying you rent for a basement studio space in twenty years time.

Michelle and I try to model our behavior for both girls but actually living through it yourself is a much better tutorial. Flashcards can help with the classroom learning, but learning to prioritize her academics, her friendships, her extracurriculars, and her self-care doesn’t come with a textbook.

Cecilia is starting to get a taste of that during freshman year. Recently overheard after a Friday night out with friends. “Jeez, Five Guys is expensive and I didn’t even get fries!” I can’t wait until that first real paycheck and she learns about FICA deductions.

It’s in these formative, freshman years that the notion of balancing time takes on a new dimension. She got a taste of that after the gumbo and beignets of her New Orleans trips. There was a lot of catch up time and a lot of late nights. High school, with its relentless schedule and its grinding, grading rubric, inadvertently teaches our children the importance of balancing academic pursuits with life’s quieter, yet equally significant, lessons.

As parents, our role is to guide them in discerning not just how to allocate their time, but how to imbue each chosen activity with purpose and meaning, preparing them for the nuanced complexities of adult life. The real education, it seems, lies not in the accumulation of grades, but in the gradual mastery of living a balanced life.

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Scenes from Saturday + Bunny Preppin’

I generally find Twitter/X to be a swampy morass that’s best avoided, but I did recently stumble across this post and it was my favorite discovery of the week. Did you know about the Hobby Movement in the 1930s?

“You will rarely find a man who has a hobby, getting into trouble. He is generally too busy with his own interests to be getting into mischief.”

No arguments from me.

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Scenes from Saturday + Rain & Recovery

“Unspoken expectations are premeditated resentments.”

I can’t remember who said that but it’s become my mantra for dealing with children. It doesn’t really lessen the eye rolls or the outwardly physical response. I’m not sure their small brains can stop those reactions, but it does give them less room to attempt to wiggle out with an argument.

It also doesn’t stop them from trying to dodge with technicalities but I’ve become adept at setting verbal expectations almost as ironclad as a credit card service level agreement.

That piano will get practiced by the end of the day.

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Scenes from Saturday + Songs & Sauce

Heard this parenting nugget on a podcast at the end of a long work week where it often felt like I was dealing with children.

“The setbacks, mistakes, miscalculations, and failures we have shoved out of our children’s way are the very experiences that teach them how to be resourceful, persistent, innovative and resilient citizens of this world.”

The quote is from the book The Gift of Failure and what I liked most was the fact that the book/author didn’t solely focus on school or test performance, important, of course, but also recognizes the fact that schools don’t just teach reading, writing, and arithmetic. They teach responsibility, organization, manners, and more – important life skills kids carry with them long after they leave the classroom.

You might need decent grades to get a foot in the door, but if you want to keep a job, or get promoted, how well you get along with your co-workers, how well you integrate within a team, and how you operate under stress is going to get you a lot farther than knowing the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Can I make flash cards for life skills?

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Scenes from Saturday + Dinner & Districts

Maybe Cecilia is starting to get to the age where my Dad platitudes are starting to sink in. I’m sure it will be twenty years before she admits it, but….maybe.

We were all very proud of Cecilia and her district band concert yesterday. Yes, she was excused from school on Friday but it was not a day off. They rehearsed for eight hours and then were back on Saturday morning for four more hours before the performance.

I’m sure she didn’t love waking up at playing, but she did it. (Queue Dad maxim) Talent and potential mean nothing if you can’t consistently do things when you don’t feel like doing them.

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Scenes from Saturday + BBQ & Pickle

I listened to a Plain English pod this week with a sociologist discussing the rise of living alone and the decline of social infrastructure.

In the last 20 years, American adults reduced their average hours of face-to-face socializing by about 30 percent. It’s even bigger for teens and unmarried adults. I can definitely attest that much of the teen time that used to be passive hanging out is now done with snaps, chats, and texts.

This shift has happened despite one the keys to happiness, according to the longest running study of adult development, is to build strong social connections. The people in the study who had the warmest connections with other people were the happiest and stayed the healthiest throughout their lives.

As a card-carrying introvert who would argue that being alone is much different than being lonely this is a bit like being told to eat my vegetables. But it’s also hard to argue with 80 years of results.

Time to make some small talk!

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