So Cecilia won’t be graded in sixth grade and this makes me… slightly itchy. I actually think it will be very good for her but as someone that was schooled in the 80s and 90s and was pretty good at tests and rule-following it is a very different middle school experience. Add remote learning on top of that and I sometimes find myself a bit adrift as a Dad.
I find myself stuck between chastising and cheering. Yes, they need to do the assignments but if they wander off and get interested in something else along the way? If they try to figure out how to make a quick bread rise with the right leavening ratios? If they do their assignment while pretending to be filmed for their YouTube channel? It’s all good. In fact, maybe it’s better. Maybe this weird school year will let the kids roam and not crush the curiosity out of them.
Even if it makes their conventional Dad uncomfortable.
You pretty much had me at apple but add cider and donut? There was never any doubt I was going to make this recipe. Looking at the tantalizing accompanying photo, I could practically taste the dying leaves, flannel, and wood smoke. I’d likely make a few changes if I make it again but it more than lived up to the hype. Despite the sugar topping, it was not overly sweet and can be eaten throughout the day. As if I needed the excuse!
After a couple of cool weeks, the last few days have brought a bit of Indian summer to late September. Not exactly the perfect weather for apple crisp but is there ever really a bad time to whip up this dessert? It’s a great way to use up some apples when you need a quick fall dessert but don’t feel like making pie dough. It uses mostly pantry ingredients, is very adaptable, tastes great, and comes together quickly enough for a weekday dinner treat. What’s not to like.
Here is my quick, simple, tasty 7-ingredient apple crisp recipe:
School finally started up this week and I was reminded of two important Dad lessons. First, my kids are not me. They might have my genes but that doesn’t mean they love flash cards, enjoy timed multiplication tests, or enjoy the rug patterns a good vacuum session can produce. I might not totally understand my kids (will I ever?) but it’s not really fair to see them as little me’s. They like different things. They are essentially different people.
That’s not their problem. It’s my problem. Not really a terrible problem to have but just something to keep in mind when they roll their eyes at my 76th suggestion about the long term benefits of deliberate practice.
Second lesson: yelling at inanimate objects like Chromebooks or new drop-off traffic patterns is an emotional response and that type of response never made a situation better.
On to a Saturday not filled with Zooms, worksheets, or scavenger hunts during business calls…
I had a business trip this week and someone left a Sports Illustrated in the seat pocket from the previous flight which included this amazing story of Keanon Lowe whose post-playing career appeared to be going nowhere. Turns out he was right where he was supposed to be.
It’s certainly not a direct comparison to Lowe, but I do often find myself lost and befuddled in the thicket of parenting. I thought it might get easier when they could talk or wipe their own butts or take a shower. Nope. Things only get harder, often in more subtle and insidious ways.
I feel stressed, overwhelmed, cranky and lost and that’s just trying to figure out the weekly meal schedule never mind navigating the social norms of fifth grade girls. My kids make me mad and make me melt thirty-six times a days but ultimately that is just being a parent. You gotta embrace both them and the moment no matter how challenging.
The two days of travel and the break from active parenting did offer some perspective. None of us really have any idea what life has in store for us even as it breaks our hearts or keeps kicking us when we are down. We gotta remember that we are not lost, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Not by chance or providence but because by our actions and our choices we make it where we are supposed to be. Parent on, people!
Sorry, I’m back this week and Michelle has returned to her frantic weekend to-do lists but she’s promised to return and post more in the future to give you a break from my Dad jokes and baking stories.
Last weekend I was away on Friday and Saturday running an overnight relay race with friends. On one hand that sounds rather selfish, abdicating your responsibilities and literally running off with your friends. But I think it also sets an example.
There is just about no single thing that comes close to exercise in terms of universal benefits. We need exercise and by showing your kids how to exercise you are going to improve and extend not only your own equality of life, but you are going to help theirs, as well. Be in shape and be healthy. That’s perhaps one of the simpler things in parenting.
When the girls get sick, I get stressed. I will lie in bed and hear one of the girls coughing down the hall and I wonder why we can’t just have a simple, quiet night. Why do I always have to end the day worrying about fevers, coughs, math facts, reading comprehension, screen time, or how to navigate some new, twisted social scenario I never pondered as a kid.
The fact is that we have a lot of quiet nights. They just pile up and slip by unnoticed while Dash warms my feet and I fall asleep reading a book. This past week was a whole string of perfectly banal and quiet days. Math facts were tossed off. Vocab tests were aced. The brassy sound of Hot Cross Buns filled the air. The worst thing that happened was Ally being convinced, despite ample contrary evidence, that the number three really should be written backwards.
Too often I can get lost in the darker corners of the parenting maze. This week I’m celebrating mediocrity. Without the quiet, ordinary weeks, you can’t have the extraordinary ones.