It was our town’s discovery day yesterday. Sort of a cross between a block party, street carnival, and chamber of commerce power point presentation. I’m sure your town has something similar.
It was 3 o’clock and the ubiquitous plastic trumpets someone had mistakenly thought were a good idea had wormed their way into my inner ear and turned my heart as black as the Grinch’s on Christmas Eve. I was done. Ally wanted to stay longer.
As a parent, it feels as if I’m perpetually short on time and always looking ahead to the next thing. But what am I actually rushing toward and what am I rushing away from? Do I really want to rush home to a house under renovation? Do I need to vacuum the glitter off the stairs again? Or remind the girls to practice their instruments?
I’m really just moving too quickly through their childhood. How important will those extra 15 minutes seem in a few years? How much would I give for a few minutes back right now before she becomes an irrational teenager?
Why rush toward an uncertain future? Better to focus on the present.
Still, a present without the plastic vuvuzelas would have been nice.
The shot of summer late this week reminded everyone of two things: first, Dad’s rules on using the air conditioning and second, summer Dad camp is not that far away.
This year was the first where we didn’t sign up them up for camps and then tell them where they were going. We let them choose. This might have been a mistake. Turns out most kids have no idea how to make a decision.
What seems obvious to us, dinner, wardrobe, book to read next. Is an almost existential crises for them. How can they pick a summer camp when they can’t pick a cereal?
Turns out I vastly underestimating the amount of skill and experience in making decisions. Sure, most of the decisions we make as an adult mean nothing. Pick something and move on. But to kids it can be almost paralyzing. At least my kids.
This will be the summer of choice. Perhaps empowerment. Perhaps regret. But they will choose. They will learn. Life is a series of decisions. They will be prepared.
It’s National Library Week and I’m going to admit one of my biggest fears: despite trying to lead by example, despite having books piled up around the house, despite literally writing books myself, my kids won’t be lifelong readers. They won’t love books.
When we visited Paris, searching out a famous bookstore was on the agenda. I love books.
I believe reading is the greatest shortcut to self-improvement. Yet most people I know struggle to find the time to do it. And if we struggle to do it for ourselves, we struggle even more to get our kids to do it.
Other than not letting them root for any NY team, getting them to appreciate, enjoy, and want to read, is one of my top priorities as a Dad.
I say ‘no’ constantly to their requests when we are out doing errands but I never say no to a book. I try to think of books as investments. You put down a few dollars, commit several hours, and you get something back. That might be a few hours of escape, feeling less alone, learning a new skill, or solving a problem.
Give them someone to look up to and a book they can come back to.
Part of Cecilia’s weekly chores contract is the list of jobs, of course, but it also includes a rider: all done without complaints. Complaints covers eye rolls, heavy sighs, feet stomps and other tomfoolery. This is often the hardest part for her and we’ve recently been talking a lot about perspective.
Often life can be a lot like a chore chart. We can look at it one way and be annoyed or angry or worried. We can look at it another and find an exciting challenge. We can choose to see something as an obstacle or an opportunity.
Which is the right choice? That’s sort of a trick question, isn’t it? Life certainly has some difficult obstacles. For me, the right perspective is often the one that that allows me to move forward, to reduce stress, and to find humility, or even humor (ok, sometimes sarcasm). Each situation has two handles—one that will bear weight and one that won’t. I’m trying to teach the girls to to choose carefully. With a minimum of eye rolls. Continue Reading
Another week, another milestone. The girls became latch key kids last week. I had work meetings in the city and there was going to be a gap in time where the girls would be home alone after school for an hour.
Ce was excited. Ally was more apprehensive. I think she was more concerned with what the unfettered power of big sister might unleash than the prospect of being without parental supervision.
She also expressed a less founded apprehension that a random thunderstorm would hit while they were by themselves. We went over the weather reports very thoroughly. I’m not sure she was convinced.
In the end, a little freedom was a good thing. I came home and the house was intact. They had made a snack (even making one for me), started their homework, and not spilled too much glitter. I’ll consider that a successful experiment in independence and free range parenting.
I know pretty soon the girls will expect to be left alone and will only try to find me if the WiFi isn’t working and that’s okay. Gotta let ‘em grow up. Slowly, if possible.Continue Reading
So Chelle-bration week has wrapped up. Cake has been eaten. Presents opened. Friends have stopped by. It wasn’t the original planned karaoke blowout, and while I did re-learn all the lyrics to ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire,’ I’m not complaining! Food, friends, and dominoes worked out just fine.
It might be all the champagne this week but we’ve both turned a bit reflective now that we are in the 40 club.
What exactly have we learned? A couple things, I hope. This is for the girls. Maybe they’ll read it one day. Or maybe Alexa will project it directly onto their brain. Too bad flash cards don’t work like that, huh, Ce! Continue Reading
At least I know how it’s going to go. I’ll be frustrated and angry. I’ll stay away from the news and the Internet. In three or four days, I’ll start to feel a little better. Sadly, this Groundhog Day of roiling emotions from mass shooting is now all too familiar. I just can’t accept that not giving a damn is the price of freedom. I don’t want to argue about the causes. I don’t know the exact solution. I would just like to feel as if we are moving toward one. But we’re not. That’s what I find more frustrating.
With AIDS, cancer, opioids, it felt as if everyone knew someone affected and we agreed that it was a crises that needed action. I fear that every member of Congress will need to be affected closely and personally in the same way to get anything accomplished on a national scale. It feels like we’re going to have to wait two generations for the children that survive these shootings to get elected to make some change.
In the meantime, I’ll watch over my kids as best I can and hope that I never hear my child’s school on a breaking news alert nor have to wrestle with those personal consequences…on to Saturday…. Continue Reading