Less than week left of eight grade for Cecilia. Which means less than a week of her returning home and my asking “How was your day?” and she responds, “Good.” “What did you do?” “Nothing.”
I realize that “Nothing” actually means “How am I supposed to answer that? Being fourteen is insane. Middle school is sorta insane. There are so many positive, exciting, hopeful, scary, sad, and disappointing things happening at the exact same time.”
So maybe I’m not asking the right question. Or maybe she’s tired of being asked. Maybe “How are you? or How was your day?” really are hard questions. Maybe I’ll think of better questions in high school.
Camp Dad has finished its first week. There were some ups and downs. The biggest question was why do we have to do this? Camp Dad includes a work release program where the inmates do 30 minutes of chores each day. In keeping with my Dad philosophy, I’m willing to set an example. I don’t ask them to do anything I won’t do. We all were out weeding the front walk on Thursday.
But why, they ask? They are old enough that bluffing my way through an answer doesn’t really work. So we talked about it while complaining about dandelion’s deep roots.
Two main reasons. First, just like exercise, building up a work ethic takes time and practice. I think simple, achievable chores are the five pound dumbbells of life skills.
Second, it helps them learn responsibility and time management. I don’t tell them when they have to do the chores, just that they need to be done by the end of the day.
I’d say it might also help with team work but seeing how quickly Cecilia persuaded and recruited the neighbors to her cause, I’d say she has that one down.
Typically as parents Michelle and I are pretty good at keeping one another afloat most weeks. If one is down, the other is up. It’s good teamwork or just a genetic survival mechanism. But this past week was a challenge. We could blame all sorts of things: school restarting, work, the ongoing pandemic, the news in general. Or just 2020 throwing its weight around and it had both of off balance.
Cecilia decided this was a good time to give me her opinion on my time management advice. She disagreed with it. I disagreed with her. Grievances were aired. I might be making this sound more civil than it was. If this blog had reenactments, it would make Lifetime movies look subtle.
We are both stubborn however only one of us is a parent. Michelle politely reminded me that I don’t get to throw up my hands. That’s not part of the job. I don’t even really get to have an opinion.
I might be tired and stressed and want to put my head in the vacuum until all these problems are over but there is no magical thinking as a Dad. Wishing and hoping does not change reality. Being a parent means you hold on long as you need to. Our feelings about it don’t count. Even if you think you could probably win an Emmy portraying yourself in Mike’s Window: Lies My Father Told Me…
Jan really didn’t get to do much in this week’s episode and, according to Amazon, my copy of 1,001 More Glitter Jokes won’t arrive until late May so I am fresh out of material and turning over the Saturday post to Michelle this week. I’m sure she’ll continue to reinforce the perception that our house constantly smells like fresh bread with micro-climates of rainbows and kids conjugating verbs in ancient Greek.
Someone at work this week told me that the pandemic experience is like being on a red eye flight where you lose your sense of time, you can’t sleep, your seat doesn’t recline back, and there’s occasional bouts of stomach-dropping turbulence.
This week was difficult for me. There were tough decisions to make at work, the official announcement that the kids would not be returning to school came out, the rapid pace and constant engagement had me feeling exhausted, sad, and overwhelmed.
Those of you who know me, know this is NOT my normal disposition, but this week it all caught up to me.
So what did I do? I went to bed early and woke up and went back at it the next morning. I know the family pokes fun of me for never being able to be still, but I feel best when I am engaged and know my purpose.
We may not ever fully understand the “purpose” of this pandemic, but I know my role with my family, with work, with myself and that is what keeps me going.
All that and the arrival of Saturday. We all know our roles on Saturday…