Tag Archives: fatherhood

Challenging Myself

As a dad I face many challenges every day. Most of them involve living up to the expectations of my kids, my wife, and God.

Son, not making a fool of himself on the field.

For instance, this evening it’s off to the ballpark where I get the pleasure of serving as assistant coach to my son’s baseball team. The challenge here: until a few weeks ago neither he nor I had ever played baseball. He’s 9. I’m almost 40. The challenge lies in rising above myself and not worrying about the fool I will make of myself on the field. Because you see, this one is all for my little boy.  The reward is great though. He’s getting super good super fast and I’m learning quite a bit about a game I’ve never played. Somewhere in the recesses of both of our minds are visions of the two of us being drafted by the New York Mets. And we’re having lots of fun in the process.

Me, making a fool of myself (and demonstrating what a friend politely called “a natural tennis swing”) at the batting cages.

On the marriage front, I am always faced with the challenge of becoming a better husband. Daily I look around my house and my world and ask myself what I can do to make my wife’s life even marginally better. In the past year alone I have found myself tinkering with my homes electrical system, building props for the play, finally advancing in my career (ūüėČ), and shopping for produce at a farmers market at five in the morning on a Saturday. Every time I’m given a task I’ve never done before I find myself rising above my own fears and coming to realize that because she trusts in me I can do anything for my wife. And we’re having a whole lot of fun in the process.

So this afternoon when I got home from work I decided to challenge myself. Remember the pull-up bar? This one is a challenge to which only I am answerable. After hearing that friend of mine toss out the figure of 25 to 50 pull-ups a day, I decided to reach for the stars. I don’t expect to be as good as him ‚Äď certainly not right away ‚Äď but one cannot hope to achieve great heights without starting somewhere. The challenge is to complete 25 pull-ups within five minutes every day of every week. And of course, as I notice myself gaining strength, I will have to increase that number. A short while ago I just barely beat the clock. Five sets of five pull-ups with a little more rest between sets than I would’ve liked; but I did it. The reward, I hope, will be great.

And I’m having tons of fun.

Economics 101: What I’m Teaching My Kids About Money (And What They’re Teaching Me)

So last night, this happened…

Last night was a peaceful evening in our home.  I had mowed the lawn and helped my brother-in-law set some fence posts at his house.  At my home, my wife and I had straightened up from the usual kids-home-for-summer mess that seems simply to take over during July.  I was sitting at my piano, playing Prokofiev (because I can and because it adds to the serenity).  My wife was watching a movie.  Our kids were playing in their bedroom.  I was shirtless.  More on that later.

Just like that, the peace was disturbed.  My precious daughter, all of five years-old, came tearing out of her bedroom in tears.  My seven year-old son followed quickly.  My first tendency was to ask “Son, what did you do?”  To my surprise, however, he had done nothing and she, usually a bit of a dramatist, was crying real tears.  She was genuinely heartbroken.

“What happened, baby?” I said with all the tenderness a father can muster for his little girl.  By the way, she was clad in a Cinderella costume and plastic “glass” slippers.  Through her sobs she revealed that she had dropped her piggy bank and it shattered.  I looked her square in the eye and broke the cold hard truth to her.

“Angel, don’t be too sad.  Obama was just going to take it all anyway.”

She looked up at me and cried harder and louder.  I sent her to Mommy while I went in to assess the damage.

So, all those times that I have loose change in my pockets and I dump a fistful of coins onto my dresser at night before getting into bed?  Those times when I look at the accumulating silver and copper and think “What the heck.  Let me just drop this 83‚āĶ into the kids’ piggy banks.  It’s just change…”  Yeah, those times.  On the floor of my children’s bedroom I stumbled upon a picture that looked like these two had knocked over Fort Knox rather than breaking a piggy bank.

“Sweetheart?” I called.  “Scratch that, Honey?” I said, calling to my wife.  “Did you know how much loot these two have?”  No answer.  So I walked across the house to where she was sitting.  “Did you know they’ve got serious money in there?”  She looked at me and then reminded me that a friend of ours who used to visit from Paris would drop Euro coins and bills into the banks.  “No, babe, these are American coins and bills too.”  “Heh,” she said and returned to her movie.

By now I was wondering what happened to the Prokofiev and you’re probably wondering what happened to my shirt.  OK, the music I can return to any time.  The shirt?  I told you I’d been mowing.  It’s Texas.  It’s 4 million degrees.  I sweat a lot.  Oh, and I had been working out.  Bottom line, I did NOT think I’d be stopping down to pick up shards of broken ceramics off a carpeted floor.

Being the dutiful daddy, I swept into my daughter’s room, broom in hand.  Did you like that?  Swept.  Broom.  Get it?  Whatever.  Crouched on the floor, dripping in sweat, my sinewy muscles rippling – wait, wrong story.  I got down and realized a few more things about this situation.  So I already got that my kids have more money than me.  I’m Catholic so I accept that some things are just a mystery and that’s OK.  But I also noticed that broken ceramics hurt.  When I was all through sorting cash from glass I stood up, knees bruised and bleeding, muscle still rippling (had to through that in there since it is my blog) and I wondered: Who gave this gigantic torture instrument to my child? And how’d I get broken glass in my left nipple? Turns out it was my wife’s friend Jean and she gave it to us before my daughter was even born.  No wonder my little girl was so sad.  That and the fact that it was a huge, hot pink pig wearing a crown and sash ala a beauty contest.

Then I wondered to myself if there was a recovery fee I could legitimately charge my daughter.  Surely there was enough in here for a pack of smokes or a bottle of gin.  It’s not like I didn’t “invest” in this stash anyway.  But I’m a good day (or at least I try to be) and so I left all of her assets in a large Tupperware container on her dresser.

Here’s what I learned in all of this.

  • The global distribution of money is not fair.
  • Broken ceramics hurt and cut and, quite possibly, kill.
  • Prokofiev is deceptively difficult to play.
  • I need to keep my shirt on.

Oh, one more thing I learned is that my daughter thinks I really am a superhero. When she saw me throwing the bag with the broken bank fragments away, she looked up and said “Wait, Daddy?  Aren’t you going to put it back together for me?”  Anyone know where they sell a boatload of Crazy Glue?

How To Father A Daughter

Again, this is not¬†that kind of advice. ¬†I mean, really, for that one just make sure only to fire off the Y’s and not the X’s. ¬†Or is it the other way around? ¬†No matter. I’m here to talk about what it’s like to be a father to a precious five year-old girl.

My kids have busier social calendars than… ¬†Crap, I can’t think of someone with a busy social calendar who’d also be relevant today. ¬†I was going to say Ivana Trump but who’s heard from her in like a decade, right? ¬†My two angels have piano and violin lessons, art classes, basketball, ballet. ¬†And that’s just on Tuesday’s. ¬†Imagine my horror, then, when Daughter recently expressed a desire to…

“I wanna’ do gymnastics!”

OK, well first, it’s “take” gymnastics but I suppose we’ll see what we can do. ¬†And of course my wife, the most wonderful of women, found a local gymnastics class where the first month of classes were free in order to discern whether this was something we actually wanted to pay for.

And being the good dad I am, this meant I got the chance to run out the door on a Saturday morning to “do gymnastics”.

I had not nearly enough coffee. ¬†I was wearing jeans and a tee shirt. ¬†My baby girl was wearing something quite different. ¬†In fact, I’m not even sure where she or my wife found such a combination of clothing. ¬†Just as I was calling out to her that we needed to leave; she presented herself to me in what looked like puffy shorts and a unitard — all in five different shades of lam√©.

“Sweetheart… ¬†You look like a backup dancer on Star Search.” ¬†She looked puzzled. ¬†“That just means you look beautiful as always!”

We hopped in the minivan and drove across town, stopping at the library first to drop off some overdue books.  Along the way my daughter, excited and nervous at the same time, spoke up from the back.

“Daddy?” ¬†“Yes, baby,” I said. ¬†“I love you.”

Forget the coffee.  Life is beautiful right here.

We got to the gym and… ¬†You know what? ¬†Let’s back up for a sec, OK? ¬†That last exchange is why I live. ¬†OK so…


What am I doing here and where’s my coffee?

I signed her in and she went with the coach across the floor while I watched from the bleachers. ¬†For the next hour I watched as my daughter followed along with four other girls. ¬†They ran and jumped and that was about it since it was a beginner class. ¬†“You’re doing great girls!” shouted the coach. ¬†From my seat I interjected (somewhat under my breath) “Only another few years and you’ll be slightly taller than a primordial dwarf with no sign of menses in sight!”

Maybe I should have had more coffee.

And then there was the music. ¬†It wafted toward my ears softly at first. ¬†What is that playing, I wondered. ¬†But it became all too clear. ¬†It was¬†Call Me Maybe, the repulsive pop ditty of a few years back. ¬†After a few minutes it was evident that I’d be trapped in Carly Rae Jeppsen hell until the girls came off the — wait, what is that thing? ¬†Looks like she’s got rappelling from a rock wall. ¬†OK, I’m impressed. ¬†On the music front, it got worse. ¬†It wasn’t Jeppsen. ¬†It was…¬†Kids Bop. ¬†How about I stand under that rock wall and one of you kids could fall on me?

Time was winding down and it looked like I’d escape my Saturday morning with a shred of dignity. ¬†And then I got a text from my wife.

Can you stop at the address below and pick up two 50 lb. bags of san mixed with chicken manure?

Little Miss Solid Gold came over to me and put her shoes on.  She had enjoyed herself.  I strapped her into her booster and we drove off together.

“Um, this isn’t the way home…” she said. ¬†“No, sweetheart,” I replied. ¬†“We have to pick up something for Mommy.” ¬†She thought about that and then asked “What is it?”

“Just a few hundred pounds of chicken shit, dumpling.”

I then explained to her that Mommy is gardening and that chicken waste was apparently good for plants. ¬†She wasn’t buying it. ¬†Neither was I. ¬†And so we both started laughing, my little gymnast and me.


The sand and manure mixture.  Heavy stuff, that chicken poop.

And with a enough poultry poop to fertilize the Adirondacks we drove home laughing.  And when the laughter stopped she did it again.

“I love you, Daddy.”

I love you too, sweetheart.  I love you too.

When You Say Something Insanely Stupid to Your Kids

Greetings again!

My crazy kittens found time to gang up, I mean embrace at the end of the violin lesson.

My crazy kittens found time to gang up, I mean embrace at the end of the violin lesson.

Tonight my little kittens (how I affectionately refer to my kids because they’re cuddly but can easily gouge your eyes out and tear your furniture) resumed their music lessons for a new year.

Son plays violin and daughter plays piano (like her old man). ¬†Their teachers happen to be sisters who also happen to live around the corner from each other. ¬†It’s convenient except that this amounts to an hour and a half escapade for Daddy carting the little ones to two different houses, violin in tow. ¬†Thank God the piano’s not portable.

Lesson #1:  The piano
This one went fairly well.  Baby Girl has moved up from 15 minutes to 30.  She played her pieces flawlessly and, like her old man, followed every rule.  She stood up from the bench, bowed to her teacher, and we headed to the next stop.

Lesson #2: The violin
By this point in the game, having sat through one lesson that bored him and having been in and out of the car in 20 degree weather Sonny Boy was in pretty rare form.  He hammed it up with the teacher but was overall pretty decent.

His sister, on the other hand, could not resist interjecting. ¬†You see, she had just received her just reward for hard work and dedication. ¬†So when son’s teacher asked him to select a piece to play and he wanted to talk about a Peanuts comic strip he had read earlier and how funny it was, well…

“Hey!” shouted my five year-old little girl. ¬†“Pick a song or I’ll pick it for you!”

Where that came from I do not know. ¬†And it would have simply subsided had it not been for dopey dad (that’s me).

I’m normally a pretty put-together sort of guy. ¬†I have my massive insecurities about my life — hence I hide behind the facade of humor and post every detail of my day in a blog, seeking attention and love from strangers — but otherwise I’m totally normal. ¬†Here, for some unknown reason, was my response to her.

“Sweetheart, one more outburst like that and I’ll take you home.”

To which my darling daughter replied:

“Without my brother?”

Yes, I suppose my words were poorly conceived.  I promise the idea sounded right at the time but she did have a point.  It got worse when she continued.

“So you’ll take me home and then, what? ¬†Come back for him?”

Her logic hurt me.  Even the teacher laughed.

So what do you do in a situation like this?  You simply say the following magic words and all will be well.

“Angel darling? ¬†Play with Daddy’s iPhone. ¬† We’ll get a treat on the way home.”

Daddy Keeps His Promise

Well, folks, I was true to my word. Took the kittens to Chuck E. Cheese, or as I like to call it, Chuck E. Bola. Had lots of fun. But what made it all worth it was hearing my son say as we left:

“Daddy, I’m glad I took my medicine. Thank you taking me!”

Love these kids.

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How to Get Your Smart(Alec) Son to Take His Medicine

My lovely wife needed some time to recharge. ¬†She’s been very busy over the past few months working on a project. ¬†So she went on a trip with some of her friends. ¬†Lucky for me my two best (read: only) friends decided to hang out with me.

She's content to watch TV and sleep in my bed.  Clearly she takes after me.

She’s content to watch TV and sleep in my bed. Clearly she takes after me.

That’s right, I’m hangin with my kittens this weekend. ¬†It’s not like I don’t hang with them every weekend; it’s just a special Daddy-Kids time this weekend. ¬†The really fortunate thing for me is that there are no two people in this world who adore yours truly like they do. ¬†Have I mentioned how awesome it is to be a dad? It’s like having a built-in fan club! ¬†Plus, this means I get to do some fun things like let them stay up late (it’s a weekend anyway) and bust out the box of Cosmic Brownies!

Although I will say this. ¬†It was funny last night. ¬†Whenever my wife is out of town I prefer to have the kids sleep in my bed with me. ¬†They’re little. ¬†Besides, who¬†wouldn’t want to sleep in a comfortable king sized bed with cable TV? ¬†Well, Baby Girl presented no issues and was out like a light. ¬†Sonny Boy, on the other hand… ¬†It seems that someone¬†really likes his kid sized bunk bed because he’s been hanging a comforter off the side and pretending it’s his “fort”.

This wouldn’t be a problem if he wasn’t also super-excited about something we’re doing tonight. ¬†You see, about ten days ago he had to start an antibiotic for a slight ear infection. ¬†Typical for him, he didn’t want to take the medicine because it was “gross”. ¬†So Daddy, being the ingenious man he is, made a chart.

“Son, for every day you take your medicine, I’ll put a star on the chart,” I said.

“But Daddy,” he said, “Could it be something different like a lizard?”

“Son, Daddy doesn’t know how to – oh never mind. ¬†I’ll figure it out. ¬†Does it matter what I draw?”

“But Daddy,” he said, “I learned about lizards in school. ¬†Or maybe you could draw a crested falcon? ¬†They look like bald eagles which are the national bird. ¬†Did you know that?” ¬†Crap, apparently when I was conceiving him I was actually making a copy of myself. ¬†Good to know.

 

So he got stars in the morning (when Mommy filled in the chart).  At night, when the man of the house took over he got a picture of the two of us, some kind of Mesozoic sea creature, and our Jack Russell Terrier.

So he got stars in the morning (when Mommy filled in the chart). At night, when the man of the house took over he got a picture of the two of us, some kind of Mesozoic sea creature, and our Jack Russell Terrier.

“Yes, pal, I did know that.” ¬†Now my options were to either move on and get to my point or to counter him with more knowledge and thus prove that I am superior.

“So, son, did you know that Thomas Jefferson actually wanted the turkey to be the national bird and not the eagle?” ¬†Take that, little man.

My son looked up at me and sighed. ¬†“Of course, Daddy. ¬†I thought everyone knew that. ¬†Do you remember that time you made me watch¬†1776¬†with you?”

“Son, that was like two years ago.”

“But I remembered it.”

You sure did. ¬†OK, let’s move on. ¬†“So, as I was saying, if you finish all ten doses then – what is it now?”

“Do you mean I have to finish all ten over the ten days or how about if I took two on Sunday and then none on Monday because I don’t think I will want to take any medicine on Monday.”

Believe it or not I let him finish as he explained commutative math to me and how he was going to take ten doses over ten days by doubling up and skipping days; until 30 minutes later…

“…And that is how I would like to take my medicine, Daddy.”

I simply stared at him, exasperated.

“Look, kid, you gotta take the medicine the way the doctor told you to. ¬†Don’t ¬†ask why. ¬†It’s because ultimately he spent lots of money to go to med school and Daddy didn’t. ¬†Understand?”

Where a kid can be a kid.  And a dad can be confused.

Where a kid can be a kid. And a dad can be confused.

“Where was I? ¬†Yes, take the medicine, I draw a picture of something, and then I’ll take you to Chuck E. Cheese since the one part of my DNA you seem not to have gotten was good taste.”

I can’t honestly recall what happened next since I was driven to drink pretty soon afterward. ¬†I think I drew a picture of Jane Wyman from¬†Falcon Crest, called it a bald eagle, and put him to bed without the medicine (thus requiring him to take two doses the next day).

Bottom line, we’re going to Chuck E. Cheese.

I Love Being the Fairy

Son lost another tooth. And this brings me to a part of daddy-hood I really love – playing Tooth Fairy!

I have learned that you need two things to do this right. First, you need a hefty wallet. Son’s getting $3 for this one! I blame inflation. Second, you need good upper body strength. Do you know how hard it is to lift a heavy head off a pillow from an angle while trying not to disturb the kid attached to it?

Oh, and Son, when you eventually read this just know I wasn’t “lying” to you. You’ll understand when you have kids. Now go spend that cash! Just not on candy.

OK, get some candy.

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