Cecilia and I have a running “discussion” about the use of air conditioning in our house. She would prefer to keep it at Rocky meat locker levels. I am a bit more frugal. To avoid having the same “discussion” each night, we’ve come up with temperature thresholds that dictate when we use it. Can’t argue with a thermometer. Well, you can if you’re a teenager….
It’s the ability to tolerate minor discomfort.
Obviously, this really isn’t just about air conditioning usage, but it did lead me to think about our ability to tolerate minor discomfort. It is shocking to me sometimes how readily we all set aside our ambitions, merely to avoid tolerable levels of unpleasantness.
It’s easier to flip through FB or TikTok or Insta and get that hit rather starting that dreaded task even when you know, you know, you’re going to feel better when it’s done.
And this isn’t just me preaching to the girls, I’ve been wrestling with this through my sabbatical with my goal to write 2k words a day. I know its gotta get done, but I put it off or make side deals with myself even if I know better.
What’s the fix? Heck if I know other than just working at it. Exposure therapy. Let those feelings of anxiety or boredom come and then go and get on with the task. Keep doing that and you’ve got yourself a superpower that is slowly going extinct.
I had to bite my tongue this week. Ally is going to be a Broadway star. Or a pop star.
And I almost put on my rational Dad hat (ok, I rarely take that off) to tell her of course she would, but had she also considered accounting. Then I realized what a hypocrite I’d be. I’ve spent the entire lives encouraging them to dream big and they can be anything they want and now I’m going to hedge on that advice because the world is hard and I’m going to worry about them?
The world is hard. It will always be hard. And I will always worry about them.
I was going to be in the NBA. I was reasonable about my talents. I saw my self as a solid sixth man with slow feet but good shooting, but definitely in the league. If that didn’t work out my backup was professional Wiffle ball. Neither of those worked out. And that wasn’t a reflection on me. It was the industries. Pro Wiffle ball still had to mature as a sport. I tried. I failed. I tried something else.
Permission to try. And permission to fail. And supporting them either way. That’s my aim.
Even as the days blend together, we are settling into something resembling a routine and trying to make the best of it. With both Michelle and I on a lot of calls, we are letting serendipity and curiosity play a large part in the homeschooling effort. Yup, fancy way of saying we’re locking the girls in their rooms for a couple hours in the morning and afternoon. We make sure they are fed and watered first. I think they’ll be okay in the short-term.
We’re doing our best to follow the school’s suggestions but if they want to go down a three hour rabbit hole about how to make your own Cheetos or M&Ms (thanks Bon Appetit YouTube channel)…who am I to argue? I don’t think a parent should force their child to master anything but I do think it’s their job to help them discover the possibilities in life. After that it’s up to them.
Though if it’s going to involve the trombone, maybe wait for Dad to get off the phone.
Was that Saturday? Time has become a little elastic. We took a break from all academics and work conference calls. Michelle might have snuck a few emails in, I can’t watch her 24/7. We needed it. The last week almost broke all of us. I believe it will get better. Humans are remarkably resilient but no amount of hot glue, glitter, or Netflix was going to help last week. As a person that really likes routines and daily goals, I had to get very comfortable that things were just not going to get done.
I will say I am happy that the girls get to see Michelle up close and personal at work. At this point, they are used to me working from home and I don’t really do much except push pixels around and occasionally raise my voice to developers that stray out of their lane and think they are designers. Michelle is way more important and I think it’s good for them to see her in this other role.
Kids are always watching and we should let them see us work, to show them what it takes to thrive in this world. We should want them to see us on the phone, sleeves pushed up, (virtually) surrounded by people who respect and depend on us. They see us at our private worst, they should also get to see us at our public best.
Just make sure you know how to work the mute button.
Cecilia lost her last baby tooth this week. One more childhood ritual done. One step closer to manic teenager. Maybe because it’s rather innocuous, not scheduled, and not typically celebrated with a Hallmark card, it caught us all a little off-guard. Or maybe it was just the end of a long Tuesday and the wine wasn’t open yet. Either way, it was a bit emotional.
Cecilia wrote a long and sweet good-bye letter. Fidget Windwand (the nom de plume of our tooth fairy) wrote a poetic response. We’re at the awkward stage where we are not totally sure is she is playing us, hanging on (for the cash), or genuinely believes.
I’m sure we’ll have plenty of years in the near future where nothing will be cool and astonishing and being a child is for babies. I’m happy to wait on that. For this last night, we were all believers.
It’s on. I flipped the switch at lunchtime on Friday. Time for some holiday parenting. A little less stern Dad and more friendly Uncle. A little more relaxed. A little less math review, a little less structure.
We won’t be abandoning all structure. Things tend to go smoother when Dad has at least a pencil sketch of a plan. So, they’ll still need to sleep occasionally and brush their teeth after their 37th cookie. There will be some organization and expectations. I won’t be throwing out the rules completely, but…it’s supposed to be happy holidays and I can’t drink wine and scotch from sunrise to sunset without at least a three hour nap in the middle of the day and that’s not really fair to Michelle.
Hopefully this will all lead to a little less stress and a little more happiness.
Worst case, it leads to Michelle and I eating more Christmas cookies with red wine at lunch.
Can a band’s greatest strength also be their greatest weakness? I’m beginning to suspect that the genre-hopping Lake Street Dive might have this problem. Even with all the streaming options today, if a band doesn’t fit neatly into a pre-set sound or algorithm, how are people going to find you? How do you categorize or explain a band that hop scotches between jazz, power pop, classic rock, soul, R&B and British Invasion.
I call it awesome. I think other people call it confusing. How else to explain how with their lead singer’s voice and their musicianship they are not bigger stars.