We drove down to the Cape Friday night and Ally sang along to her favorite music the whole way. Even while wearing headphones, she can’t resist a full-throated chorus. She also currently has very questionable taste in music. Which is completely fine. Taste and appreciation largely come from time and experience. I’m careful not to completely betray my feelings (at least up until the 14th consecutive playing of Geronimo or The Village People). I believe my job as a Dad is to encourage and let them roam (sort of like raising sheep dogs) and look for opportunities to help their taste expand and grown.
When Cecilia was selected for the jazz band last year, I would occasional slip on a Coltrane track when she wasn’t paying attention.
When Ally started singing and composing on the piano, I played her a song Lorde wrote at 16 and we put GarageBand on her phone.
When their interests and my interests intersect, we get those special opportunities to connect and share together. This past week at Dad Camp, I put their arts and crafts enthusiasm to good use as we built a small outdoor brick oven and cooked some pizzas for dinner. Even though there was no glitter or glue stick involved in the masonry, I hope that’s a day they remember.
It’s well documented that I like a plan. I embrace a to-do list. Having an agenda is my jam and spontaneity gives me hives. You know a great way to screw up that mindset? Have kids and work from home.
The primary feature of parenting is how quickly plans get smashed to pieces. It’s amazing how quickly things go wrong. The kids decide they don’t like mac ‘n cheese today. They trip over an acorn and scrape their knees. Their camp gets canceled. They believe their devices will spontaneously charge themselves. Their goggles feel funny and they can’t possibly go in the pool.
It’s enough to turn a functioning, responsible adult into a crazy person. But you know what? You’ve got to deal with it. It’s not like the Amazon delivery guy is going to help out.
Oh, you need another band aid? Let’s talk about first aid and wound care.
Oh, none of your friends are outside? Let’s play one of those 643 games you have in the basement.
Oh, you accidentally melted the glue stick in the microwave? Let me teach you about cleaning solvents.
Dad Camp: every day is an opportunity to secretly teach them how to clean the house.
Michelle and I successfully completed our first eight week cycle of E2M and are now halfway into our second round. We both continue to be very happy with the results. And not just the weight loss. We both feel fitter, stronger, and more healthy overall. It’s been a great way to jolt us out of a pandemic rut and implement some positive new lifestyle habits.
For this second round, we recruited some curious friends to join us. They had a lot of questions. We didn’t have all the answers (trust the process!) but we did have some tip from our first round experience about how you can best set yourself up for E2M success.
There was a lot of time at the vet this week, but Dash’s mystery ailment appears to be on the mend. The doctor appeared more flummoxed and frustrated than I was. She kept apologizing for not knowing what was going on. I kept telling her it was alright. As someone with an autoimmune disease myself, I’ve become more comfortable with not knowing all the answers.
As a parent, we are however expected to have all the answers. Like the exact amount of time to heat up leftover mac ‘ n cheese in the microwave. Or why that woman in front of us in line has a tattoo right there.
Parenting often feels like the hardest job but in many ways it’s also the easiest job. You might not have all the answers but you can be patient and supportive and not make things worse. Short of your child showing up as the lead story on the evening news or calling poison control about the side effects of glitter ingestion, you’re most likely doing okay. Just hang in there.
We are back from our West Coast vacation. We survived our one-day Disneyland whirlwind. It was a good age to take them.
I did my best to try to take it all in. That isn’t always easy for me. I like a to-do list. I like having a plan. I like feeling productive. Sometimes that drive comes at the cost of actually experiencing the thing I am so eager to check off my list. So I tried to say yes more this vacation and I tried not to get too tied up in the planning.
It wasn’t always easy. That water can be cold. Or the beach sand too… sandy. Or the thought of paying for another bowl of mac ‘n cheese too much. But I tried because (as just about everyone who hasn’t seen Cece in awhile comments on) they are growing older. Really fast.
So I tried to say yes while they are still asking and while I still can because one day soon they won’t ask Dad to jump in the hotel pool or body surf that wave with them.
They will probably still ask me for mac ‘n cheese however.
We are on vacation, visiting family in San Diego, and celebrating Michelle’s parent’s 50th anniversary. That’s an increasingly rare and wonderful milestone showcasing a long and successful partnership.
Michelle likes to tell the story of how my grandmother pulled her aside a few weeks before our wedding and told her in no uncertain terms that there were no divorces in her family and she didn’t intend to start now so Michelle better be sure. Either my tiny, little grandmother had a terrifying side that I never saw or she was working some powerful voodoo because 17 years after that chat, and many weddings later, there are still no divorces in my large, sprawling, extended family.
Or maybe we just all had good role models. I’m a big believer in modeling how and what you want your kids to learn. Fifty years of marriage is a heck of a strong example.
Halfway through the year and a good time to take stock of goals for the year. I’m more than halfway through the next book. It’s a bit of a mess but that’s normal. The pie baking goal went out the window with the fitness challenge but that’s okay. Goals can be flexible. I’ll conquer that dough fear eventually. Work is still taking place in the living room with the occasional trombone lesson getting airtime on conference calls.
But what about parenting? How do we measure that?
Parenting often feels like saving for retirement. It’s so big and the timeframe so long that you’re not really going to know how you’re doing until its over. The best you can do is contribute steadily and not panic. Through that lens, I think we’re doing okay. We’re showing up, we’re dealing with the eye rolls, they seem mildly embarrassed by us most times, but still return at the end of the day and ask what’s for dinner. I’m giving myself a check.