Category Archives: Random Thoughts

The Real Inclusiveness of the Girl Scouts

 

Although I have lots of great memories from my time as a young Boy Scout, the organization isn’t quite held in the same high position of public esteem that is used to be. Once known as a place for young men to learn knot tying and manners, it’s policies prohibiting atheists and legal battles to retain it’s right to ban homosexuals from it’s ranks have left a tarnish on the Rockwellian picture of young scouts extending their arms to elderly women at crosswalks and performing daily “good deeds.” The ban was lifted in 2015 and earlier this year the BSA announced that transgender boys would be allowed participation but for many the idea that they fought so hard to resist inclusiveness has caused a withdrawal of support for Scouting.

 

summer camp, 1985

 

The Girl Scouts have never had such a policy, openly supporting LGBT rights and stating that “our mission is to build girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.” Like much in modern, fractured America, for every liberal demanding the the Boy Scouts no longer be able to camp on federal or municipal land there is a conservative calling for a cookie boycott.

 

Inclusiveness in scouting
proud Daisy Scout

 

As happy as I am to involve my daughter with an organization that actively promotes fairness and equality, I’ll confess that it’s another example of their inclusiveness that has impressed me the most – their willingness to include me. From roller skating outings to hikes in the woods, every time that I tagged along I was welcomed warmly.

Should I have been surprised? Probably not. Dads everywhere are more involved in their children’s lives, in their daughters’ lives, than every before. In many cases it is only through the efforts of fathers that these young girls would be able to participate.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, but sadly I was. As far as society has come in recognizing that dads are a just as important  component of parenthood as mothers, there are still instances such as the one in Lakeland, Florida where a man trying to help a lost little girl find her parents was subsequently beaten and vilified for his efforts. A man at the playground is still looked at suspiciously, his motives questioned, a potential predator or kidnapper until proven otherwise.

As this post is scheduled to go live Alaina’s troop will be settling into their sleeping bags, preparing for their first camping overnight. Unfortunately, she will not be there, my wife and I both at work. As much as we trust the leaders and chaperones that would be tucking her in, Alaina has recently developed a new penchant for sleepwalking, nocturnal wanderings that it seemed unfair to burden others with in the middle of the woods.

She was disappointed, angry even, but placated by assurances that there would be plenty more of these trips and that one of us would be sure to plan our schedule accordingly.

It’s a promise that I’m happy the Girl Scouts will allow me to keep. According to their rules, men are welcome to stay overnight as long as they have a separate tent and bathroom area.

How this will differ from the trees and fallen logs that we used as bathrooms when I was a Scout is yet to be determined, but good for the Girl Scouts for recognizing how much more enjoyable a walk in the woods can be when everybody is allowed to go.

 

the inclusiveness of girl scouts

 

We’ve All Got Secrets

 

Weve All Got Secrets

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about trust lately, about secrets.

I don’t spend a lot of time on Facebook anymore, occasionally sharing a picture of the kids or a meme that I find funny when I’m up later than I should. I keep the Thirsty Daddy page updated because I know that’s where a lot of you follow my randomness.

Most of that time I spend in groups, communities of like minded folks chatting sports, Star Wars, and in most cases parenting and fatherhood. Supposedly safe places where dads can connect, ask for advice or simply to vent, places for support and understanding.

Three different times in recent weeks, in three different groups, that trust was violated. Codes broken, screenshots taken, lives disrupted for no particularly good reason at all that I am aware of.

The easiest lesson learned here of course is to not trust people that you only know over the internet, but isn’t that the way of the world now? In the past few hours I’ve spent  time commiserating with a group of guys that I have been playing and discussing fantasy football with online for about fifteen years, from way before Facebook and even MySpace, following the death of one of our own. There are guys that I have never met that I’ve “known” longer than my wife.

Is the real world any different anyway? Confessions, dark thoughts, secrets. At some point we’ve all been burned by trusting in the wrong people. We’ve all got old acquaintances, people that we don’t talk to anymore for one reason or another, that nonetheless still hold keys that reveal skeletons.

Don’t have any of those in your closet? Good for you. I do. Things from the past that I don’t want my kids to know, my wife to know, you to know.

There are also things that I don’t want my parents to know, something that’s a bit unsettling as I attempt to navigate those waters myself.

I tell the six year old that she isn’t allowed to have secrets from me, that there is nothing good that can come from a child telling her something that she isn’t supposed to tell an adult. I tell her that if an adult ever tells her that something is a secret I need to be made aware immediately, my stomach clenching at the possible scenarios that might lead to such a discussion.

As I write this the teenager is sleeping at a friend’s house. It’s not a girl that I’ve met, one that I know little about other than that she lives in an apartment with her boyfriend. I don’t know where they might go, what they might be doing.

Does she have secrets of her own, things that she hopes her mother and I never discover? I suspect that she does. What they might be, who knows them, these are things that I may never know.

Also not home tonight is my wife, the third night in a row. Hurricane Irma caused a cancellation of her trip The Bahamas, so instead she took her already packed suitcase, loaded up her car and drove towards the coast, finding herself a nice little room by herself on the shore. I read enough Penthouse letters in my youth to know that’s how many of them started.

She’s not doing anything of the sort of course, and no good comes of these lines of thought. Both of them must be trusted. Are trusted, as will be the little girl currently sleeping upstairs. There really isn’t any other choice, is there? We raise them the best that we can, hope for the best and accept that there will be parts of their lives that we will be unaware of. We hope that when it comes time for them to trust others that they choose wisely.

Frankly, I’m a bit jealous of the solitude, the peace and quiet that my wife must be enjoying. Two hours ago I was tearing the house apart looking for the pillow that was on my daughter’s bed when she woke up this  morning.

If anybody knows how one is able to lose a pillow over the course of the day or where it may currently be, that is a secret that I’d like someday to hear.

 

 

 

My Random Musings

A Blogging Good Time

Discovering “Friendship Rocks”

 

I try to keep on top of things, sports, politics, where myself and my family need to be on any given day. Unfortunately there is a frustratingly large amount of stuff that I seem to be the last to know, things like what foods the little is currently finding acceptable, the teenager’s love life. Add to that list “friendship rocks”, a trend in our community that it appears that I was the last to know about.

For my local readers that have been participating in this all summer, and based on the Facebook group I was just added to, there are a lot of you, I apologize. This post is probably of more interest to those in other parts of the country, other areas of the world. If it turns out that you all already know what I’m talking about, I’d encourage you to take a peek through my archives. Lots of good stuff there.

Apparently what is happening is that people are painting rocks, pretty pictures on some, cartoon characters and such, but  mostly messages. Messages of peace, love, affirmant and positivity. They hide the rocks in parks, alongside athletic fields, sometimes outside stores or in parking lots. They take the rocks with them on vacation, painting their area code on the back and leaving them in other states for people to find.

 

friendship rocks
found at the park

 

The cool thing about this is that the people that find these rocks don’t keep them. They are re-hidden, the message passed along. Its a never ending scavenger hunt, a perpetual passing of good will disguised as an Easter egg hunt.

 

friendship rocks
found near a softball field

 

So we’ve been painting rocks. We paint them, hide them, find some new ones and then hide those. Its been a great new activity as the summer winds down and I’m increasingly running out of new ways to keep her busy. More importantly, it’s been a great way to encourage empathy and kindness. She spends a lot of time on these little projects, with the only goal being furthering the happiness of others, to help somebody else “have a good day” as she puts it.

 

friendship rocks
working hard

 

The world needs more “friendship rocks”. We all wish that we could change the world, to make it a better place for out children. Maybe this is the place to start, one rock at a time.

 

friendship rocks
found at a canoe launch

 

 

 

Keep Calm and Carry On Linking Sunday

That Can’t Be Classic Rock

 

I remember how excited I was when Santa Claus brought me my very own “boom box”, complete with cassette player. In the years to come much of my allowance was spent on cassette tapes but the real revelation that first day was how many different stations there were, how much of a variety of music was now available to me. When we were in the car my father controlled the dial. That Christmas morning, sometime around 1979 I’m guessing, was quite possibly the first time that I had heard a song recorded that decade.

I try and be conscious of the music that I play when the kids are riding with me. The teenager hates country but won’t complain about most everything else. The little just wants something that she can sing along with. Actual knowledge of the lyrics or what they might mean is completely unnecessary.

I’m conscious, but like my father before me believe that my car = my tunes. Also like him, more often than not that means classic rock.

It’s a station that I was reluctant to embrace, a denial about the songs of my youth fitting that description. Classic rock means The Kinks, The Who, The Animals. It means Led Zeppelin, one of Kayla’s favorite bands, and The Rolling Stones, a band that Alaina can often be heard singing around the house.

 

Thats Not Classic Rock
I did something right

 

I was OK with ZZ Top, Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen, artists that had success in the ’70s and carried that over into the ’80s and beyond.  U2 and Journey seemed to be pushing it, but I could be reasonable. Motorhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, fine. When “Sweet Child O’ Mine” from Gun’s and Roses started getting regular airplay I called for the firing of the programming director.  There obviously had been a terrible mistake about that being an old enough song to qualify. Nobody replied.

It took some time, but eventually I got over it. The music of my youth was now “classic.” It was bound to happen.

Today marked a crossing of lines, another e-mail to the station forthcoming. Today I heard “3 AM”, a song from Matchbox Twenty’s debut album. It was released in 1996, four years after I graduated high school.

I understand the math, recognize how many years ago that was. It’s the implications I have a problem with, the precedent being set. This is no longer the music of my childhood, not even of my teenage years. This song came out when I was a legitimate ( somewhat ) adult. Does this mean that Pearl Jam is now classic rock? Nirvana, Green Day,  Rage Against The Machine?

That just can’t be right.

 

 

 

Unfinished Lists

 

I’m going to give you a little glimpse into my mind Thirsty Nation, a place that many of you already realize is a bit….off.

I’m a list maker. I’m not just talking about grocery lists or things I’d like to accomplish on any given day, although I do write those also. I’m talking about an entire notebook, hidden under several others in an attempt to hide my crazy, full of every type of list you can imagine.

There is a list of movies I want to see, separated by those that should be seen in theaters, those that are already available to rent or buy on Blu Ray and those that have been DVR’d. There are notations about which family members would be interested in watching each with me.

There is a list of CDs that I want to buy ( yes, I still buy CDs ), songs I plan to download and artists that I haven’t yet seen in concert.

There is a list of video games that I want to play, another of books I want to read. One of the longest is of places I want to go, cities to visit both domestic an abroad.

In a separate notebook, where my more temporary lists are kept, is a page full of things that I wanted to do this summer, written sometime during this past winter. As the calendar turns to August it is this list, only about 50% crossed off, that is causing me some consternation.

 

With only a few weeks to go, we have yet to visit the beach, haven’t seen the ocean, played in the waves. We’ve spent a lot of time in our pool and last week she played in the sand at the park volleyball courts, but it’s not quite the same.

We still haven’t been to the drive-in, the dinosaur park or Lake Compounce Amusement Park. The teenager hasn’t had her turn at Six Flags and I was hoping to take her to check out the new AA minor league baseball stadium in Hartford and her first outdoor music festival. I wanted the six year old to be able to tie her own shoelaces by the time school started and she reminds me often that when we first opened the pool I told her she could “maybe” have a swim party.

My wife and I have been to one Red Sox game at Fenway Park, but haven’t had the overnight trip to Boston that we try and fit in several times a year.

 

 

It was a bold list, full of fantastic ideas and adventures. It was also completely unrealistic, as most of the ones I make are.

The truth is that we have done quite a bit. Lots of hiking, canoeing, and as I write this my wife and Alaina are out fishing, something that the little one seems to love. We spent a day at the water park we missed out on last year and there have been many nights watching the Connecticut Tigers play ball.  Kayla has finished her last few requirements for a high school diploma and has recently started a new job. She still can’t tie her shoes but we have a new bike rider in the house and some trails are already being scouted for next year, a new ride a potential birthday present.

 

summer bucket lists

 

That’s the thing about all of my lists. They aren’t meant to be finished. For every thing crossed off, two more are added. I don’t know when I’ll ever play golf in Ireland, if George RR Martin plans to finish writing the Song of Ice and Fire books or how much longer they plan on making physical CDs and DVDs.

All I can say for sure is that I’ll keep making them, because I’m a little bit crazy that way, and that my daughter’s pool party is still a definite “maybe.”