Category Archives: Random Thoughts

Her God

 

 

 

Now that she is almost through with Kindergarten, my daughter knows just about everything. Like most know-it-alls, she has no problem informing others of this fact or educating others about the things that they do not know. She still talks non stop, but there are much less questions than there used to be, instead opening discussions with “did you know?” followed by what feels like a several hour lecture on whatever topic she feels inclined to elucidate on.

Most of the time I enjoy these dissertations, if not the assumption that she knows more than me. They are proof not only that she is paying attention in school, but also that she is still excited about learning new things and is proud of that knowledge.

Other times I have no idea what she is rambling on about and am amazed by the absolute sincerity she projects while stating complete nonsense as indisputable fact. I’m often left wondering where she may have picked up such ideas or if she is just so enamored with the sound of her own voice that she’s content to simply make things up. The degree to which I pay attention can vary, but I was all ears this morning when she sat me down and informed me that “it was time for her to tell me about God.”

Some of her story I had heard before, death being a topic that we’ve discussed before though I’m not sure that she fully understands it, not sure that I want her to. During our plane ride to Florida earlier this month she was convinced that since we were above the clouds, where Heaven was, that she should be able to see dead people out the window. I’ll confess to having no idea whatsoever what to tell her.

The God that she told me about is a maker. In addition to the planet and all the people, He also made the buildings and all the food. He did this to take care of us. He spends his time in Heaven, above the clouds with all the dead people, and He watches over us to make sure that we stay safe and provided for. He wants us to be good people and to do good things for each other. He wants us to all be nice.

Her God is a parent.

 

I have my own personal beliefs, a post for another day perhaps, but religion doesn’t play a major role in our family. Sometime in the near future I’ll start taking her to church and we’ll talk about the things that we hear there. We’ll start at the same Congregationalist Church that her sister and I attended for a while, the one that reminded me of the church of my youth. Their God was a kind one, accepting and tolerant, much like hers.

Along the way she will be taught that whatever she believes, whatever road her own spiritual journey takes, there will be others than believe differently, that have their own Gods and that that’s OK. She’ll be taught that being religious isn’t always the same as being right, no matter how strong and purposeful your faith. She will be taught that there are people that do terrible things in the name of their Gods and also others that do amazing works of charity and good, often in the service of the same.

She doesn’t know near as much as she thinks, but today was a good reminder that she knows more than I think, that there are an increasing number of outside influences on her. I don’t know where she got these ideas about God, but I kind of like the one that she described. He sounds nice.

 

 

 

The Pics Not Posted

 

Other than a few sports guys, I never was a blog reader before starting my own. To be honest, even then I didn’t realize that what I was reading was a sports blog. I’d heard the term, knew that’s what Cameron Diaz’s character did in the movie “Sex Tape” and remembered Doogie Howzer ending each episode typing into his computer, but that was about the extent of my knowledge.

Now I probably read anywhere between twenty to thirty a day. Lots of dads, some moms, politics, sports, travel and humor.  A few people that just sit down and write whatever comes to mind.  Different experiences, perspectives and opinions. Different voices.

The majority would be considered “parenting blogs”, the niche that encompasses most of what I have to say. ( The topics that I should stick to, according to some. )  One of the things I’ve noticed that all these disparate writers, from all walks of life and corners of the world, have in common is that at some point they begin to question the degree to which they are sharing their lives and the lives of their children with the world. Questions about appropriateness, consent, and even safety.

It’s something that I’ve always tried to be cognizant of without driving myself crazy. Many aspects of the teenager’s life wouldn’t even be considered as shareable, stories that simply aren’t mine to tell.  I will tell you that her final prom was this past weekend, that she had fun, and that she looked beautiful.

 

on line sharing concerns
Beautiful girl

 

It’s harder with the little, consent not so easy to obtain.  I write a lot about her triumphs and idiosyncrasies, but don’t feel that I’ve shared anything that would be considered embarrassing to her in the future. I can only hope that she one day agrees with that assessment.

It was a picture of her that led me down this avenue of thought, one that I was about to post on Instagram…and then didn’t. It’s one that I did post to my private Facebook, one many of you may have seen, a picture taken prior to her latest dance recital. She looks absolutely adorable. She also looks very grown up, her hair done and performance makeup applied.

My Instagram is public, a supplement to this space. It’s accessible to all, including those that may be searching the Internet for pictures of little girls dressed up and looking pretty in fancy dresses and makeup. It was probably a silly thing to think about but I did. I did, and once thought it became an uncomfortable enough idea that the picture remains seen only on the channels that I have control over.

 

When solicited, my advice to other bloggers is simple: use common sense, trust your instincts, and hope for the best. A story about a seven month old peeing in your eye may be funny, one about a seven year old peeing the bed probably better left unwritten. I never share any vacation pictures until I’m back home.

Is that enough? I don’t know.  All of us are living our lives in an increasingly public manner, for better and for worse. Bullying and stalking have never been easier, but neither has keeping contact with those that might otherwise fade from our lives. We all have to decide what level of sharing with the world we feel comfortable with.

 

I’ll leave you with this picture, another one of my daughter looking adorable. It’s not the best one that I’ve taken since she started playing softball, it’s just the best one I’ve taken that doesn’t show the name of our town on the front of her shirt.

 

online sharing
ready position

 

The Perceived Arrogance of Boston and the Political Elite

 

perceived arrogance

 

I think that  even the most ardent of Red Sox haters would agree that Fenway Park is a pretty cool place to watch a baseball game. It’s a national treasure, one of the most recognizable sports venues in the world. Fenway is the oldest ballpark in Major League Baseball, opening in 1917, and also one of the smallest, a full capacity of just over 37,000.

Baltimore Orioles outfielder Adam Jones has a much less positive opinion of the park, having been subject to racial taunts and a thrown peanut bag during a game on May first.

It was an unfortunate incident, an embarrassment for the Red Sox and it’s fans, but not one that I found overly surprising. Not because of any prejudice that might be held by the people of Boston, but because anytime that you put 37,000 people in one place and give the majority of them copious amounts of watered down beer, there are going to be some that behave poorly. This just seems a mathematical probability, something that happens in all sports and in all stadiums.  According to the Society for American Baseball Research, 36.3% of major league players were something other than American born and white, but just 6.7% were African American.  As reprehensible as it is, it stands to reason that these players, being such a minority, would be singled out by ignorant, intoxicated miscreants.

In any city or stadium.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the narrative in the three weeks since the incident. What should have been a discussion about efforts made to try and discourage this type of behavior, both in the stands and everywhere else in society, has instead turned into another opportunity to label the city and it’s fans as racist. Players from other teams, CC Sebathia, Torii Hunter and others have been trotted out to tell stories of abuse hurled their way by unruly Bostonians. Once again we are reminded that the Red Sox were the last team in the league to field a black player, a signing that occurred in 1959 and hardly seems relevant to current perceptions.

So why won’t this story, this perception go away?

I think that for many it’s simply an easy way to insult, as lazy and unimaginative as the slurs yelled by the occasional bigoted jackass. Boston’s teams have been among the most successful in all of sports and their fans aren’t afraid to remind others of this. The city is home to elite colleges and hospitals. Thought to be among the most progressive in the nation, Massachusetts is squarely “blue state” in a time when that seems to have become synonymous with “elitist arrogance.”

A lot of people seem to think that we think that we’re better than them, and there is nothing more satisfying than finding ways to prove somebody like that wrong.

 

Its a lesson that I think politicians would be wise to learn. I’m convinced Al Gore, John Kerry, and Mitt Romney all lost their Presidential elections in part because to a large segment of the population they were just too unlikable, they presented themselves as arrogant and smug, smarter than anybody else in the room.  When Hillary Clinton rolled her eyes and smirked at Donald Trump’s incoherency during last year’s debates she was perceived as inferring that he was beneath her attention. She helped make an elitist narcissist appear relatable, a limited vocabulary and knowledge of the issues suddenly a benefit to his popularity, a stark contrast to her attitude of superiority.

Take a moment and think about the people you dislike the most, be they athletes, celebrities, politicians, co workers or the fan bases of certain sports teams. The majority of them are people that you feel hold themselves in higher regard than they do you.

 

Later this evening the NBA’s Boston Celtics will host the Cleveland Cavaliers in game one of the Eastern Conference finals.  In the stands will be plenty of people in brand new Kelly Olynyk jerseys. Olynyk was the improbable hero of the Celtic’s victory over the Washington Wizards, the reason why the team was able to advance to face the Cavaliers. A gritty reserve player, Olynyk came off the bench to score twenty six points, twelve of those over a pivotal three and a half minute stretch in the fourth quarter.  Undoubtedly there will be inferences about his new found popularity in Boston being in part due to the fact that he is a white player.

Boston will be huge underdogs in this series. The Cavaliers are led by Lebron James, considered by most to be the greatest basketball player on the planet right now. No matter who he was playing I’d be among those rooting for him to lose, aggravated by my perception of him as somebody that has no problem putting himself onto that pedestal.

I hate people like that.

 

T Shirts and Tattoos

 

Last month I went out and bought myself two brand new pair of jeans, one Levi, one Wrangler, relaxed fit and straight legged.  This may not seem like an interesting event, but is noteworthy because these two brought my new total to three that I’m now able to wear in public without samaritans handing me their spare change.

My T-shirt section of the closet is slightly fuller, augmented by the Avengers and Red Sox additions that my wife bought this past Valentine’s Day. With a gaudy eight now at my disposal, my wardrobe should be all set for most of the next decade.

The Avengers shirt, along with the matching socks, was picked out by my daughter, a point that my wife was quick to make.  She also was pretty intent on making sure I was aware that she still held the receipt and could return any of it that I wasn’t prepared to wear.

She shouldn’t have worried. Not only did I not mind either shirt, ( or the socks ) I thought it was cool that Alaina wanted me to have clothes that matched her assorted superhero wear. Even more importantly, I no longer give too much of a rat’s ass what people think about how I’m dressed. My days of trying to be stylish, trying to be cool, are way beyond me and it’s a liberating feeling.

It hasn’t always been that way.  Your dress and overall appearance is a representation of how you want people to view you.  In high school that meant long hair, dagger earrings hanging from my left lobe, a denim jacket, and a heavy metal T shirt.  I was one of the “smart kids”, but I was determined to be a rebel, whatever the hell I thought that meant.  As soon as I turned eighteen I got Yosemite Sam tattooed on my left arm, followed soon after by a heart, crossbones behind it and flames surrounding the whole thing. I didn’t want to be a smart kid, I wanted to be a badass. More importantly, I wanted other people to think I was a badass.

 

tattos and t shirts

 

I wasn’t and I don’t think anybody was fooled, but I went with the look for a while.

Eventually adulthood, or at least my version of it, forced me to abandon the mullet ( RIP you glorious bastard ) and replace the ripped skull shirts with beer logos and sports merchandise.  A pair of dragons and a back tattoo of an angel and a devil arm wresting over a table of people shaped game pieces help to keep my bad boy credentials intact, as did a young, hot wife who didn’t mind hanging out in biker bars.

Now my kid picks out my clothes. More than that, she draws my tattoos, my newest addition being her representation of how we will look joining forces to fight the forces of evil when she’s a bit older and “better in control of her powers.”

 

tattos and t shirts

 

People change a lot over the course of a life. Tastes change, trends come and go, priorities shift.  We spend a lot time learning to become comfortable with who we are.  Some people take longer than others and there are some that just never seem to figure it out.

Besides the Avengers shirt, my wife was also worried that I wasn’t going to like the Red Sox one that she had purchased either. Instead of the name of a player across the back, this one had another three letters, a name spelled out that I feel does a pretty good job of explaining exactly who it is that I am now.

Just might be my favorite shirt yet.

 

 

 

 

 

Playing The Guilt Game

 

Pretty much right from their first breath, children are experimenting with different ways to get us to do what they want.  Different timbres and pitch rejected or filed away for further use based on the effectiveness of each individual scream and cry.  Later on it becomes tantrums and hissy fits, the more public the better. Incessant, ear bleeding, aneurysm inducing whining. Two of my daughter’s preferred techniques were either to simply continue asking over and over until all will to resist was ground down and washed away or to use some variation of “pretty please” followed by a combination of various treats to go “on top.”

Amateur inveiglements now set aside for the most effective form of psychological manipulation that one person can inflict upon another – the  guilt trip.

When she started kindergarten, I talked about what that was going to mean for our time together.  I don’t get home from work until after bed time most nights of the week, so there are several days when the morning routine is our only time together.  I talked about the teenager’s sharp words about time spent with her and how deeply they cut.  I talked about my guilt.

Attempts to maximize this time that we do have together have led to a pretty full schedule of fun whenever I’m not working.  Wednesday afternoons at the park, wings and movies with the teen, roller skating just about every weekend.  It’s also led to expectations that I can’t always meet and opportunities for the little to try out her new means of persuasion.

She has less than adequate comprehension about things like money and bone weary exhaustion on a Sunday morning.  What she knows is that she wants to do something, that there will be several days past before I’m able to bring her someplace again, and that by reminding me of this, there’s a pretty good chance that we are going to go.

 

the power of guilt
trying to look sweet and innocent

 

So where did she learn such Machiavellian machinations?  How to harness the power of guilt for her own purposes?

The same way that all children do eventually.  They learn it from us. It’s the basis for almost all behavioral modification, whether consciously or not.  When a child does something good we shower them with words of praise and approval.  When they are bad we take away that approval and show disappointment.  Punishments and the learning of consequence of action are part of the process, but I’m starting to believe that when a child chooses not to repeat an act that they had previously been punished or reprimanded for, avoidance of that feeling of guilt, of having that approval taken away from them based on their actions, is just as much a reason for the change in behavior as any other.

 

This morning I woke up in a pretty foul mood.  I didn’t feel well, my back hurt, and it was too damned early for any reasonable person to be awake.  My daughter naturally decided that this meant it was the perfect day to practice jumping from one section of the couch to the other, over and over, and blatantly ignore my increasingly loud demands for her to stop.

I soon snapped and she immediately fled up the stairs in tears, scared by an outburst that was uncharacteristically incensed.  I stayed downstairs, morosely clinging to my moral superiority until she returned, head hung low, and promised to behave if it meant we could spend some more time together before I left for the day.

Some time playing something a little more fun than the game of guilt tag that I think that she had already won.