The girls are both old enough now where their traits, dispositions, and temperaments are more formed. As a Dad, I am less inclined to shrug it off as a phase. I also have to confront the fact that the girls will not be exactly like me. (Except for the Yankees thing. I won’t bend on that.)
They will not make the same choices or walk the same path. They might (and likely will) make decisions and do things that will baffle me. But that’s okay. Maybe that’s for the best. I was a conformist kid that looked to fit in. And I did a pretty good job. I loved my flash cards. School and tests were a natural second language. But there are certainly more ways to contribute in this world than the easiest, most obvious, and most traditional ways.
But not everyone is built that way and as a Dad, I need to protect and guard against the girls feeling any shame about that. In fact, I often look back and regret I didn’t make bolder or less expected choices. Risk and I are not on a first name basis.
Some are meant to be artists. Some are meant to be quiet, solitary geniuses. Some are meant to be extroverts or iconoclasts. Some are meant to be late bloomers.
There are so many ways to make a difference in this world. As a Dad, my job is to help them by being who they were meant to be…and nothing else.
I made good on a four year promise this week when I took Cecilia to Six Flags as part of her twelfth birthday. Be very careful what you casually say when they are eight. Kids remember everything.
We planned, we plotted, we watched the weather, we figured out the best routes and the best deals. And things mostly worked out. We had a great day. I hope we had a memorable day but I don’t really get to choose.
Despite all the planning and stress, what I’ve heard her mention most to others afterward wasn’t the coasters or wild rides but the M&M design on the park’s entrance steps, the various tattoos on the people in line, the frappuccino she got at Starbucks on the way, and the Nutella pizza the restaurant had on the menu.
We can stress about perfect summer vacations or special birthdays but mostly its the little ordinary moments that stick. Big or little, I’m happy she will at least remember who else was there with her.
We walked in on Ally playing ‘food bank’ with her Barbies this week and it stirred up about 27 different emotions. Most involved crying either out of happiness or frustration. This is a messed up time.
Our two kids are very different. Cecilia is internalizing all this, like me, and I’m sure it will all come out in three or four years. Probably through an angsty self-penned trombone concerto. Ally is, obviously, more immediate.
Even if we are all trapped in our houses, it’s still a noisy world. Maybe even more so now. We make noise on social media. We talk on the phone. We gather on Zoom. We’re getting more emails than ever.
And the kids…are always listening.
It’s worth remembering the old saying for parents, too. Two ears…one mouth. They are always trying to tell you something. Continue Reading
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… Continue Reading
This was a better week. I decided to stop fighting it, lean in, and embrace the glitter. Actually, it was watercolors that led me to the realization that I had started creating rules for the wrong things. And those rules appeared to exist just to stress me out more.
The girls love any art project but they really love painting. I hate painting. It’s messy. It gets on their clothes. They don’t clean the brushes. They violate basic rules of color theory. Essentially, it’s inconvenient and tiring for me.
Why are all my rules negative? The world’s upside down right now so why not a rule about embracing the mess? Why not a rule encouraging their curiosity? Maybe more of those types of rules would help me relax. I could use a rule about more relaxing.
I’m not abandoning rules completely. That just leads to finding glitter in your bed or all the glue sticks being left uncapped. Rules can help with a lot of things. They’re important. But arbitrary rules made up for my own convenience…that just leads to (more) day drinking. Continue Reading
It was a tough week all around. Stock market. Work. Corona. Politics. Kids. It was a maelstrom of bad news and trouble. By Wednesday, I was twitchy with stress before the second cup of coffee. By Friday, I was something of a mess and working from home most of the day only amplifies these types of feelings. In today’s always on, hot take world, how do you get your head clear? How do you wash away the stress? A bottle of wine is only effective for so long. Holding on for that week vacation isn’t going to be enough. You need a plan.
The biggest unexpected benefit to joining a running group is not the increased fitness or increased speed, it’s the weekly practice of wringing out that built up stress. And I don’t just mean the camaraderie of the Saturday long run or Thursday track sessions. It’s new friends, trivia nights, plogging, meandering text threads, or pot luck breakfasts. It’s about the process of regaining your sanity in this mixed up, stressful world we live in.
(Of course winning trivia for the third month in a row is also chicken soup for the soul :))
This is the story of a sweatshirt. A sweatshirt that lived on the floor just inside the front door for more than two days. Another day and it was probably going to ask for the wi-fi password.
It would have been very easy for me to pick up the sweatshirt. It was actually really hard not to pick it up. It also would have been easy for me to make them do it. I can make like a prison guard if I have to but both of those options miss the point.
I want them to learn to look after themselves with some pride. Cleaning up isn’t just a task to get an allowance. It’s an illustration of who they are. The lesson from the sweatshirt that I want them to learn is how we do anything is how we do everything. Leaving it on the floor isn’t just lazy and messy—it shows that they are a mess.
One of my key parenting tenets: I’m not trying to raise successful kids. I’m trying to raise successful adults.
It’s a long term investment. Short term returns are huffing, mumbling, and occasional stomping.