Battling Over Britches


Like any child, both kids have had their share of “boundary exploration” moments, those times when they decide that they are due to start asserting some independence, making a few more of their own decisions, regardless of how contrary these decisions may be to our wishes.  Unfortunately, what they perceive as self-assertion we often see as a kid that just doesn’t seem to want to do what they are damned told.  “Getting too big for your britches” is a phrase that I remember hearing a lot as a child.

It can be a tricky balance to find.  The difference between encouraging autonomy and letting them do whatever the hell they want often a small one.  Giving choices about things such as side dishes for dinner or breakfast foods, but being firm about keeping those choices within the predetermined parameters. Telling the teen that she doesn’t need to wash her clothes that particular day, but making it clear that within the next few is expected.  I don’t want our children viewing us as authoritarian dictators, but do need them to remember who the bosses are around here.


King of My Domain


With the five year old, most of these battles revolve around clothing. On just about every other issue, it doesn’t take much more than a stern look and a switch over to “dad voice” (very similar to Christian Bale’s Batman voice) to end any argument that she finds herself bold enough to start, but for some reason the outfits that she wears is a constant source of contention.

Some of these fashion choices are actually shocking in their visual unpleasantness, an insult to the eye.  More often they are seasonally inappropriate or seemingly chosen out of some sort of twisted humor sensibility.  When told that a ruffled short sleeve shirt and skirt combination wouldn’t be allowed on a recent trip to the grocery, her idea of changing into something warmer was to stuff the entire ensemble into last year’s snow pants.


her idea of winter clothing


Some of her worst offenses are mismatching universes.  Every gym day she wears her Spider Man sneakers and I’m forced to again explain why a Marvel character shirt, Avengers or Black Widow, is OK, but DC heroes such as Superman or Batman are not.  I’d sooner send her out into the world bare ass as have a child of mine seen wearing a Star Wars T-shirt with a Star Trek sweatshirt.


I’m forced to choose my battles, my criteria often based on where we are going and how concerned I am about being judged by strangers.  It’s a struggle between my need to fight stereotyping, the idea that “dad must have dressed her” and my more natural tendency to not give a rat’s ass what anybody else thinks.

We’ve come to a bit of a compromise.  I have final say over her school clothes, so far avoiding any calls home with recommendations for eye exams,  on weekends we venture out looking like circus performers on furlough or straight out of the commune.


Battle over britches
could be worse…






The Baby Garden


As with any joint decision, the debate over whether or not to get a puppy revolved around perceived pluses and minuses.  My wife’s list of positive rewards ultimately defeated my list of negatives, but there has been one familial impact that neither of us had anticipated.

The five year old is now completely adamant that at no point in the future will she be having any children.  She is so sure that she has no interest in cleaning up another living thing’s bodily functions, being responsible for it’s feeding, or vainly trying to get it to listen to her, that there were actual tears as she made this announcement.  Clutching tightly to her new Baby Alive, ( turned off since a few days after Christmas ) she begged for reassurance that I wouldn’t be mad at her if I didn’t get to be a grampy.


Insisted on one that pees…


It was all very amusing and sweet until she asked me what she had to do in order to keep a baby out of her belly.  I immediately answered that staying away from boys as she got older was the best way, then just as quickly regretting that response as I realized the follow up questions that I had just set myself up for.

It’s not the first time that we’ve had deep discussions about the birds and the bees, but I wasn’t sure that my previous story about “baby making magic” and the evil doctor who later stole them from me was still going to be satisfactory a year later.

That’s not to say that my new explanation was any less brilliant.  Using a gardening metaphor that I knew she would understand, I calmly explained to her that when a man loves a woman he gives her a “baby seed” to swallow and she then drinks a lot of water over the next nine months to help it grow.  That only men know how to find the proper seeds and that only women have the capability of turning their bellies into “baby gardens”, thus necessitating there to be one of each gender involved in the initial planting.


not sure she buys it…


She seemed a bit skeptical, but was unable to find any flaws in my formula.  More importantly, she seemed to grasp the importance of keeping this process a secret from other children.  That I was trusting her to under no circumstances go to school and discuss mommy’s swallowing of daddy’s baby seed.

It’s possible that I should have at least tried to use the “magic” explanation one more time…




Who We Choose To Cheer


One of my favorite sports weekends of the year is the NFL’s Wild Card round, this past weekend being extra special as my Miami Dolphins were participants for the first time since 2008.  They got manhandled, too many injured players leading to a 30-12 drubbing and prompting many to question why I’m a fan of theirs to begin with.  I’ve lived in New England all my life, all of my other teams are based in Boston.  What’s the story?

As a young kid just starting to become interested in watching sports, I wasn’t concerned with regional loyalties or what teams my friends liked. I wanted to watch the guys that were fun to watch. In those days that was a long haired quarterback named Dan Marino chucking the football all over the field to wide receivers Mark Clayton and Mark Duper.  Thirty five years later I’m still waiting for them to reward my loyalty with some sustained success.


Who we root for
we won this one!


How we choose what teams, and more precisely, which players, we root for has been on my mind a lot these past few days.

Last Tuesday the NBA’s Boston Celtics hosted the Utah Jazz, defeating them 155-104.  The biggest stories to come out of the contest were before hand, Celtics fans cheering for Utah’s upcoming free agent Gordon Hayward, and after the game, when current Celtic starting forward Jae Crowder voiced his displeasure about the reaction to reporters and went on a Trumpian twitter spree.

What started as a disgruntled player feeling disrespected by fans that would like to see him replaced soon turned into something much different.  Members of the national media, including ESPN’s Bomani Jones and Israel Gutierrez suggesting that Boston fans wouldn’t only rather have Hayward than Crowder because they think he’s a better player, but because he’s white.  Jake O’Donnell of going so far as to call Boston fans “gross.”

It’s an idiotic premise, but one that is good for debate and inciting emotion, two things that sports coverage, like just about every other corner of the news world, seems to be more dedicated to than actual reporting.

I don’t think that anybody would disagree with the notion that sports fandom is itself inherently illogical.  Those players I watched as a kid are long gone but I still find myself emotionally involved in the success or failure of other guys, strangers all, that are playing games wearing the same jersey.

Our reasons for liking individual players can sometimes make sense.  There are players that simply awe us with their skill level.  Michael Jordan, Walter Peyton, Ken Griffey Jr  or Serena Williams.  Other times it is the player’s backstory that appeals to us.  Monica Seles returning after an on-court stabbing or Josh Hamilton’s battles back from addiction.  When he was just a gritty, hardworking rebounder with the San Antonio Spurs and not yet a cartoon character I always enjoyed watching Dennis Rodman play.

Sometimes they make less sense.  I don’t watch much NASCAR but my favorite driver would be Joey Lagano because he’s from Connecticut.  On the PGA tour I like Bubba Watson because it’s fun to say Bubba.  Shaquille O’neal has always been entertaining but my favorite non-Celtic center of all time is Hall of Famer Arvydas Sabonis – because he’s Lithuanian, of course.


Who We Cheer For
The Legend


The one thing that we all want is to have the players on our teams that will give us the best chance to win.

I’d personally rather keep Jae Crowder’s defense over the extra scoring we’d get with Gordon Hayward and don’t like the idea of cheering for any opposing player when they come onto our court, but there is a lot to like about a 26 year old player averaging 22.4 points and 6 rebounds a game, especially compared to Crowder’s 12.7 and 5.

There are a number of other reasons that some might like Hayward better.  He grew up in Indiana, the same as Celtic legend Larry Bird.  He played his college ball at Butler under current Celtic coach Brad Stevens.  Maybe some people like that he’s a tennis player or that he’s a twin.

Chances are there really are some that would just rather have a white small forward on the team than a black one. To assume that the majority feel that way is not only insulting but ignores the simple truth about who we choose to cheer for : it often makes very little sense at all.





A New Appreciation For Video Gaming


It had been a while, ten days to be precise.  Looking forward it would be another six until it happened again.  A rare occurrence lately,  yesterday I found myself presented with four full hours with nobody else in the house but me, a dog, and a bunny rabbit.

There was a lot that I should have done, things either easier or only possible without distraction.  Pretty much anything that would involve reading, writing, or thinking actually.  Instead I spent the entire time playing Shadow of Mordor on the Playstation.  For those that are familiar with these sorts of things, it’s a game best described as Assassin’s Creed set in the Lord of The Rings universe.  For those that aren’t, it’s basically a forty two year old man pretending to sneak around and stab orcs.


Gamer Kid


I’m far from what anybody would describe as a hard core gamer.  I played Donkey Kong on our ColecoVision in the early 80’s, upgraded to a Nintendo and Super Mario Brothers a few years later, and spent my share of quarters playing Contra and Gauntlet at Gardner’s Lake and the Norwichtown Mall, but was never really any good at them. My buddies had epic, high stakes R.B.I. Baseball tournaments in the early 90’s but I sat most of those out, wisely calculating my odds at winning $20.00 buy in games of Risk or Monopoly to be higher.


One of the disadvantages of being proactive with Christmas shopping is the inevitability of a late addition to the list of things that they really, really, want.  Almost exactly twenty four hours after declaring myself completely done and vowing not to buy anything else, my daughter decided that the only thing that she cared about receiving this year was a “zombie video game”, making sure that Santa was made aware of this during our yearly visit.

She has a few puzzle and racing apps on her tablet, but to my knowledge has never seen myself or anybody else actually playing a real video game, so I assumed that whatever expectations she had would be fairly easy to meet.  Finding anything remotely zombie oriented and also age appropriate for a five year old proved a small challenge, but eventually I stumbled across Scooby-Doo : First Frights, dusted off the basement Wii and bought what has so far proven to be her favorite present of the year.


gamer girl


There is some cartoonish violence, but nothing worse than on a typical Scooby Doo cartoon episode.  As with the television and her tablet, her time playing will be monitored and limited.

To be more precise, her time playing will be limited to when I am controlling Shaggy.  Not because I’m concerned about over-aggressiveness, desensitization to violence or any of the other problems that studies claim to have linked to gaming, but because I want to see how the mystery that we are currently working on ends.

Gaming also has been been shown to increase hand – eye coordination, speed of decision making and the ability to multi-task, but most importantly it’s something else for us to do together this winter.  We argue over who gets the most Scooby Snacks, she can’t seem to hit the jump button without physically jumping, and whenever we do have to fight something she spends more time hitting my guy with her sausage links than the enemy, but this might be my favorite Christmas present in a long time also.


new gamer girl





DIY Daddy Blog

Why Rush To Grow Up?


I make no apologies for some of my less “adulty” behaviors.  I read comic books, play video games, and am wearing stormtrooper socks as I write this.  I love that my daughter likes to play with the same kinds of toys that I do and even though I don’t think that I’ve ever played with them without her, it really wouldn’t be that far out of character.

Being a parent is awesome, but it is also a constant reminder of how bad being an adult sucks, of how much better life was as a little kid, oblivious to the stresses and terrors of the outside world.  To live in a bubble of love and security, your every need provided for by others. How many times this year have you turned off the news and wanted nothing more than for somebody to tuck you into bed, read you a story and tell you that everything is going to be all right.  Wanted nothing more than to be able to truly believe that?

We spend too much of our early lives wishing that we were older.  To have more freedoms, more autonomy.  I started working at my current job when I was nineteen, moved out of my parent’s home at twenty, and was married for the first time at twenty-one.  I was also divorced for the first time at twenty-one, in such a rush to be a grown up but with no idea of how to actually do that successfully.

The teenager will be eighteen this fall, a date that she anxiously awaits.   Eighteen means that she can get her own apartment, spend her money however she sees fit, acquire her driver’s licence without having to meet our preconditions. She races down the road to adulthood, oblivious to the reality of what is really around that corner.

Her little sister is the same, constantly telling us all the things that she will be able to do once she “gets to be a teenager.”  She won’t watch any cartoons that she enjoyed last year because she’s “five now.”  Only kindergarten level cartoons such as Spongebob will do. She no longer will drink a “baby” juice box at snack time, needing either a grown up juice box or her water bottle.  Her Minions water bottle of course, not the Dora the Explorer one that she got when she was little.  A Frozen lunch bag is apparently still acceptable.


Dont Hurry To Grow Up


There are cracks in the facade.  They both seem to be enjoying the new coloring books they received at Christmas.  Alaina  tried to switch channels as I was coming downstairs this morning, but I know that was the theme from Franklin and Friends that I heard.

The holiday season is  now behind us, the accompanying school and work breaks over.  Cold, dark mornings, copious coffee consumption, show shoveling and heating bills the only things to look forward to in the foreseeable future.  Adulting starts back up with that first reluctant setting of my alarm.

There is a lot of good that comes with being a grown up.  I can stay up as late as I want to, eat whatever I want, and will never be told that I am too short to go on a roller coaster.

There are a lot of times though, when I miss the days when there was somebody besides my wife making decisions for me and I was perfectly content with a mall mechanical bull.


Dont Rush to Grow Up




JENerally Informed


Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms