Parents, Trying to Understand


I think that most people with teenage children will agree that they can be difficult to communicate with and I’ve found that sometimes, it’s hard to blame them for that reluctance.  We’re stupid, out of touch and think we know it all, while actually knowing next to nothing.  It’s been 28 years ( yes, you read that right ) since DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince ( whatever happened to that guy? ) released “Parents Just Don’t Understand” and it’s as true today as it was then.


parents just dont understand
Jive Records


We know nothing, at least not nearly as much as their friends do, the only ones that really understand them and what they are going through.  Other than to ask for rides, money, and food, there really is next to no benefit whatsoever to engaging us in conversation.  If told that their day was “good”, what other information do we really need? Their day was good.  They’ll be gone in another year or so anyway.

It would be easy to believe this.  To simply let them hide out in their filthy rooms, tapping away at little screens, living their lives as we live ours.  To trust that we’ve given them a strong enough foundation to handle themselves, that our relationship is strong enough for them to have no hesitation in asking for help if needed. To believe that they are “good.”

Easy, but in my opinion, in my experience, a mistake. I’ve stated many times that this isn’t a place where I give advice or where anybody in their right mind would come for parental guidance. There are things that I have learned however, and one of them is that for all the sarcasm at the beginning of this post, there really is a lot that we don’t know, that we don’t understand. Things that we won’t learn by texting upstairs when dinner is ready, that one day make us wonder how such obvious signs of trouble were missed.

It’s hard.  It’s hard to find the time, hard to fight through the shields they seem to automatically raise.  Hard to find some common interest that can be used as a wedge in the door they seem determined to keep closed.  A shared fandom of a sports team or musical act.  A television or book series to share. Harry Potter, Star Wars, the Boston Red Sox.  If they are more enthusiastic than you are, fake it.


bonding over buffalo
ready to eat


For us it’s been wings.  Weekend trips to different restaurants and eateries replacing the cinema as a more productive means of stimulating conversation.  Various sauces and flavors sampled as I try to establish this as a new tradition. A few hours away from home, her attention stealing little sister and the temptations of electronics.

It’s not enough, but it’s a start.  I still don’t know nearly as much as I would like to about what’s going on in her life, going on in her head. A parent still trying to understand.

But I know more than I did. There are several dozen more places that I have mapped out for us to try and with any luck I’ll continue to  pry that door open even further. If i have to make a few new holes in my belt to get this accomplished, that’s a price I’m willing to pay.


bonding over buffallo
Bonding over Buffalo



Plans For An Unexcused Absence


I’ve been fortunate to have been able to visit a lot of very fun places over the years. Weekends in Montreal, Myrtle Beach and Miami. Week long parties in Las Vegas, Nashville and Aruba.  My wife and I sneak off to Boston pretty much every chance that we get.

My favorite remains Walt Disney World in Florida, the one place that I never seem to tire of.  For over three decades I’ve never gone more than a few years in between visits.  I can’t tell you exactly when, just in case there are potential burglars that may be reading, but I’m becoming pretty excited about how close we’re getting to my next trip, the first time since we brought Kayla ten years ago that there will actually be children accompanying us.


back to disney
Sometime mid 80s


I’m excited, but not without worry.  After the initial surprise wears off there is a three hour plane ride that Alaina will have to sit through. There will be higher temperatures, long lines, and unfamiliar sleeping arrangements.

I took care of one of the biggest potential problems by finding accommodations with two bathrooms and was pleased by how she handled my secret practice day at Six Flags New England during spring break.  Long lines on their second open day of the year were tolerated and although the heat did take an eventual toll, the long pants and boots needed to gain that last bit of extra height for a few of the thrill rides won’t be necessary in Disney. She clears all the requirements there by a comfortable margin.


training for Disney
conquering roller coasters


My other concern was somewhat placated last month at parent teacher conferences.  As absurd as I think it is that there should be a problem with a kindergartner missing a few days of school for a family vacation, the attendance policies at her school are roughly equivalent to that of a low level correctional facility.  It’s the longest section of the student handbook, reminder pamphlets are sent home periodically and signs are posted all over school grounds.  When picking her up for a mid-morning dentist appointment earlier this year I was told to be sure I had her back in school within two hours so that “it wasn’t held against her.”  More than ten missed days over the course of the year and documentation is required to prove that these days were medically necessary.  What the consequences would be are left unspecified.


attendance is everything
the school motto


English father Jon Platt found out what the repercussions were from his Isle of Wright school, recently losing a legal battle he took all the way to the English Supreme Court after refusing to pay fines levied against him for taking his seven year old daughter to Disney.  The Court ruled that only the head teacher, not the parents, had the right to determine what was an appropriate absence. Nearly 150,000 other English families were fined last year for similar offences.

It’s completely absurd.

I understand the importance of early education and the role that attendance plays in a child’s success.  I agree that children should be encouraged to take learning seriously and develop a sense of pride in their academic efforts.  I’m sure that there are many irresponsible parents that are hindering their children’s education by enabling unnecessary truancy and that this should be monitored.

I’ll also be damned if I’m going to ask somebody else’s permission to take my kids to see Mickey Mouse.

Besides her academic progress and classroom behaviors, one of the things that my daughter’s teacher was required to comment on during our meeting was attendance, a perfect opportunity to inform her or our upcoming plans. She was refreshingly sensible in her response.

Whether or not the administrators are similarly rational remains to be seen, but as the trip approaches their response remains low on my list of concerns.

I’m more afraid that somebody is going to spoil the surprise.



Taking One On The Chin



Another first
just another day of dragon hunting


Our day started well enough.  After an hour of running around the woods there was still plenty of time before the end of the teenager’s soccer practice for us to go to the adjacent playground for a while.  I settled in at a shaded picnic table to “watch this” as she walked across a steel balance beam approximately three feet off the ground somewhere between twenty and thirty times in a row.

It’s an act I had seen quite a bit of on our last visit.  A demonstration of agility she was thrilled that no longer required holding my hand to accomplish.  The latest challenge faced and overcome.

One that we may have been a bit premature in celebrating.


One to the chin
An unexpected detour


A lapse in concentration, a missed step and more blood than I would have expected later and we instead had our first visit to the Emergency Room, seven stitches being required to close the laceration on her chin.

As always, I was amazed by the toughness and resiliency of this kid. There were tears, there was some shock at the amount of blood, and there was fear when she was lay down for the sutures, but she handled it all without complaint.  After a numbing compress took some of the sting away her biggest concerns were over the chips in her freshly painted nails and whether or not she was still going to look pretty when her family came over for Easter dinner.

I’ll be curious to see what happens when we go back.  She has a stubbornness to her that has never really been tested in this manner before.  Will this be considered a failure that needs to be rectified, or a reason to stay away from the beam from now on?

I’m guessing that it’s going to be somewhere in the middle.  I won’t push, but if she needs some encouragement to get back on I’ll provide it.  Both of us will need her to be holding my hand the first few attempts.

There’s an old boxing cliche that a fighter can never be considered a true champion until the first time he takes one on the chin, hits the mat, and gets back up.  Today my daughter took her first real shot to the chin. I’m willing to bet she’ll be ready to go when the next round begins.




Two Tiny Hands
Post Comment Love

Pain in the Nards


As we watched our five year olds madly chase each other across the length of the playground, deftly avoiding collisions with the dozens of much smaller children that made up the day’s majority, the mother of the girl that Alaina was currently running from commented that all of the toddlers were “making her ovaries ache.”

Sometimes uterus is substituted for ovaries, but it’s a common phrase, meant to symbolize a woman’s yearning to have a child. What I realized is that there is no male equivalent saying.  Had I acknowledged her sentiment by replying that watching these small children play gave me a similar feeling in my gonads or seminal vesicles, I fear that the statement would not be taken in the spirit in which it was intended.

There really should be one, a way for a man to express these feelings without worrying about getting those gonads kicked in or being escorted from the premises.

There should be, because we feel it too.  We feel that desire to return to days we’ve since over sentimentalized.  We see these littles, with their smooth skin and their bald heads, eyes wide as every new discovery fascinates and delights them and we think about returning to those days, think about starting over.



It’s why I would recommend anyone contemplating a vasectomy to make absolutely sure that you ready.  Despite my wistful tone, I’m perfectly content with my choice, the occasional stray thought aside. A few that I’ve talked to recently aren’t, and I can understand that. If you’ve never read my snip story, you can find it here on, but the short version is that it’s a very easy procedure.  I went on a Saturday morning and drove myself home with no discomfort.  There was a pinch and a burn on the side that the Urologist numbed up, a weird pulling sensation on the side that he neglected to.

The worst part is the finality of it.  It’s what kept me in the parking lot for twenty minutes before going in for the procedure and what sometimes will contribute to a melancholy moment or two while watching my daughter play.

The moments are often short lived.  The mother with the “aching ovaries” carried her little girl out of the park slung over her shoulder, screaming all the way.  Left to amuse herself, mine promptly proceeded to get herself stuck in a tree.


stuck in a tree


Sometimes it’s just a figure of speech, rhetorical musings. Others the result of a trip to the doctor and sometimes it comes from a well placed kick from a panicking wanna be monkey.  Whatever the origin, kids can be a real pain in the nards.



Life Love and Dirty Dishes

Adrian Peterson? F That Guy


I’ll begin with full disclosure.  Not long after buying our house, myself, my wife and her daughter were grocery shopping and the trip wasn’t going very well.  K was around six at the time and was acting terribly, screaming at her mother for reasons that I honestly can’t recall.

Trying to get her attention, I “flicked” her ear, one of those thumb and index finger snaps that smarts for a second but isn’t intended to really hurt. She howled. She howled like I had just cut the entire lobe off. To this day I don’t know if it was pain or surprise, but my first attempt at establishing myself as a disciplinary figure was a complete failure.

Her sister was much younger when she got her surprise.  Old enough to know that she wasn’t supposed to bite, but young enough to not fully understand why.  She toddled over to me, clamped down on my forearm with more force than I’d have thought possible and seemed determined to remove a large portion.

She may have but for a reflexive smack across her bottom that surprised me as much as it did her.  She didn’t cry but her eyes and mouth both went wide.  A stern talk about not hurting others followed, the first but not last bit of hypocritical parenting that I’ve done.


I make these confessions because I’ve spent the last few days listening to people call into local sports talk radio and try and defend spanking as a legitimate disciplinary tool, to defend the actions of free agent running back  Adrian Peterson.  Peterson, if you aren’t aware, was suspended most of the 2014 season after accepting a plea deal with the state of Texas mandating counseling and dropping from a felony to a misdemeanor charges of child abuse.

The charges against Peterson originated because he beat his four year old son with a tree branch, causing cuts and bruises to his thighs, back, and testicles. The child told authorities that he had been previously punched in the face and that the leaves from the switch were shoved in his mouth to prevent any further crying out. This took place in Peterson’s “whooping room”, a dedicated area of the house just for punishment.

There have also been allegations of Peterson leaving a scar over another son’s eye for cursing.  His response was that he “never imagined being in a position where the world is judging my parenting skills or calling me a child abuser because of the discipline I administered to my son.” He has yet to express any remorse of admission of wrongdoing. These are pictures of a four year old boy taken four days later.


Houston Police Department


I bring up a case from three years ago because Peterson is now unemployed after the Minnesota Vikings declined to pick up an $18 million option for the upcoming season, an absurd number for a 32 year old running back with a history of knee problems.

I bring up the case because over the past several days Peterson has been visiting with The New England Patriots, the reigning Super Bowl Champions. For various reasons the Patriots aren’t my team, but Boston is my city, home to my Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins. I recently wrote a piece defending it’s fans after they were generalized by several ESPN hosts as racist but I’m having a much harder time justifying  their defense of the team even taking a look at this guy. I understand wanting to win, wanting to have the best players on your team; any fan would.  I don’t understand selling your soul, rooting for an over the hill piece of garbage that should never see the field again.


I understand not wanting to judge another person’s parenting. We’ve all had days that we wouldn’t want paraded before the court of public opinion.

What we don’t all have, what no rational human being would have, is a “whooping room”, a collection of switches, or small children with dozens of lacerations across their legs and back. We don’t have a reason to welcome the sort of guy that does onto our favorite team.

As of this writing the Patriots haven’t signed Peterson, nor is there any real indication that they will.  I think that working him out was a bad look for a team that has a reputation, justified or not, of doing anything possible to win, but also understand that their job is to do precisely that.

That doesn’t mean that fans need to blindly accept everything done in that pursuit however.  Sports talk radio callers should never be considered a proper representation of a fan base but I’m still disgusted and saddened by what I’ve been hearing. I’m hoping that most in this area would echo the opinion of my wife, a true Patriots fan, administrator of multiple New England Sports Facebook pages, and voice of the people:

“Adrian Peterson? Fuck that guy.”


do the right thing pats
the true voice of Pats Nation




Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms