A better week but still not easy. One bright spot? This NPR interview with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day author Judith Viorst. Like all the great children’s books there are layers of meaning that can aid both adult and child. One of the reasons I love this book is that there is no judgment of Alexander’s behavior.
As a Dad, I often to want to correct things or make things better for the girls. That’s not always possible as Alexander reminds us. And that’s OK. Sometimes it’s good and necessary to just sit with our emotions. The current always-on, look-over-here, life hack culture makes this difficult (by design). But it’s important to remember that you don’t always need to immediately fix something and that having a bad day is a (necessary) part of life.
I was surprised to learn that you don’t need to to autolyse your pizza dough. In fact, it may be detrimental. All the artisan bread recipes say you need a rest period, typically called autolyse (AUTO-leese) after the initial mix. That it is critical to let the dough rest and for the gluten chains to form. If it is so critical to good, well developed artisanal bread, then why is the step often lacking in pizza dough recipes?
As a writer, I’ve tried to keep a diary many times. It felt like a professional obligation. I tried to write down the Important Things that happened every day. It never stuck. All the attempts failed.
Except this one. These Saturday entries full of glitter, Dad jokes, and transfer station minutiae are my time machine. These tiny, mostly insignificant details, with bad photos bring me back to where we all were.
I’ve learned it’s not the Big Important Rituals that might matter most to a family, it’s the really small, silly ones you’ll probably remember. Why not have a record of some of those moments?
I watch a lot of Jeopardy. It is my relaxing cup of tea at the end of the day. Never cottoned to the Wheel but something immediately clicked with its sister show. Maybe it was the resemblance to flash cards.
A lot of other people have been watching lately with the big runs by Matt Amodio and Amy Schneider. Including my kids. At first, I think it was just the allure of the television being on during a weeknight, but now they genuinely want to watch.
Most people think to be good on Jeopardy that you need to be smart. Or, really good on the buzzer. Or, have fast recall. Those all certainly help but I think the biggest key to Jeopardy success is to be curious.
We don’t have control over what kind of brain our kids were born with. But what we can influence whether they’re curious. We can encourage the ask questions and seek answers. We can cultivate this instinct until it becomes part of their personality.
And, of course, like a lot of parenting, we can demonstrate it by doing it. It’s a two way street. Explore what they are curious about but also have them engage with you and what you’re curious about. A curious Dad is both a good parent and a smart parent.
If you are looking for legit, wood-fired Neapolitan pies without driving into Boston, de LaPosta pizzeria in Newton is a new pizzeria that might satisfy your craving. Opened in late November 2021 on Washington Street, it is owned and operated by Mario LaPosta, a former chef at Batali’s now shuttered Babbo in the Seaport. Continue Reading
I often complain about the kids in this blog, in a humorous way, but still usually some chiding complaint. I thought I should at least offer a positive story once in awhile. Just not too often. Don’t want them to get inflated egos.
Cecilia didn’t do well on a test (sorry, can’t call them tests anymore – check-in) earlier this year. To be fair, given the email we received from the teacher, many kids did not do well (which might make me think about the teaching methods…). I digress.
Cecilia latched onto this group failure as her life preserver. Sorry, not going to work, in school or life. You will make mistakes. Nobody is perfect and we all make our fair share of mistakes. Even Dad bloggers. Maybe one or two a year.
However, if you do not take responsibility for the mistake and do your best to correct it, then you are committing a second mistake. You can probably picture me telling her this. Or you probably have given your own kids similar advice. Take responsibility. Do the right thing, even though you may feel embarrassed by your previous actions. Don’t compound the error.
You also probably walked away wondering if any of that sank into their teenage brain.
Well, last Wednesday, I received an unexpected text that Cecilia was staying after school for extra help to prepare for a te-, eh, check-in the next day. She listened! She didn’t compound the error! She still rolled her eyes when I picked her up, but I’m sure she was smiling on the inside.
I’m reading more biographies as I get older and often find myself nodding along at more than one passage. Not often at the genius parts or the reason the biography was written, but at the glimpses of the ordinary parts. People, polymath, prodigy, or sage, are vastly more alike than different.
This becomes especially clear about parenting.
I came across this passage from a book on Queen Victoria from her personal secretary: ““It was easier to go back to [her work] than children having tantrums,” she said. “She always had the excuse of the red boxes.’’
Well, then. She found it easier to be the head of state for the largest empire in the world than to be a parent!
I found that reassuring during this stressful and hectic pre-holiday time. It’s hard, for everyone, but it’s worth it.