Boys With Cars

She won’t classify him as such yet, but to all appearances the teenager has a new boyfriend.  Neither my wife and I have met him yet, but somehow both grandmothers have, and both think that he seems like a nice enough guy. Kayla is pretty picky with boys, much to my relief, so even though I’m reserving judgment until I look this kid in the eye, I have to assume that he is.

The problems I have with him, sight unseen, are twofold. Number one, he’s a few years older than she is.  Number two, and even worse, he drives.

The age difference problems are easy to explain. The “expectations” of a girlfriend are much different at age eighteen than they are at fifteen, her age. I understand that much has changed in the past twenty five years, none for the better, but I know that at age fifteen a guy is cautiously optimistic and hopeful. At eighteen he thinks that it’s just a matter of waiting an amount of time, determined by the female in question.  Like I said, I’ve never met this kid. He could be a fine, upstanding gentleman that completely respects all women and is saving himself for marriage. His friends may all be as morally upstanding and completely supportive of these views.

Possible. But not an assumption that I’m going to be making.

 

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The driving aspect I find even more worrisome.  According to the National Center for Health Statistics, motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death among 15-20 year olds. In 2012, 71% of these deaths were the passengers.

Teenage males drive like a-holes. Two out of three teens killed in crashes are males. They are even bigger a-holes when they have somebody to show off for. The risk of a teenager being in an accident increases 44% with a passenger. It doubles with two passengers and quadruples with three or more passengers. They are still bigger a-holes with a buzz on. In 18% of fatal teen accidents the driver had a BAC of .8% or higher. In 23%, there was at least some alcohol on board.

I have no doubt that I’d be less apprehensive if my friends and I had been more responsible drivers. We weren’t. We were a-holes. Our record for passing was three school busses and a car. Top speed on a stretch of rural highway was 185. Number of people to fit into a Mercedes was twelve.  I was in the trunk.  In our defense, we very rarely drove after drinking and were much more responsible if we had girls with us, but overall we were very lucky.

 

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The Graduated Licensing  Systems that are in place now make that kind of behavior a little less likely. New drivers are prohibited from driving with other teens for the first six months and are only allowed immediate family under twenty years old for the second six. There is a driving curfew in Connecticut between eleven and five AM until the driver’s eighteenth birthday, with certain strict restrictions for employment or medical necessity.

This kid is already at an age where my friends and I had pretty much settled down. Whether or not that is a good thing remains to be determined. I’m going to try and reserve judgement and not hold against anybody the things that I did at sixteen.

I’m also going to make him come to the door, inspect his eyes, smell his breath, and make sure that he realizes that her curfew is not a “suggestion.”

Can’t wait to meet him.

 

 

Best Day Ever ( For Real )

After what seemed like months of anticipation, the day of Alaina’s birthday party finally arrived this weekend. Ever since her first party invite a few months ago, Alaina had been excited for this day, thrilled with the idea that her friends from school would be coming to HER house to celebrate with her. She has cousins a year younger than her and several of our friends have young children that she has had play dates with. These have been regulars at parties and holidays for all of her life. This was the first time that more of HER friends were going to be invited than ours.

She was up at the crack of dawn, bursting with excitement. My biggest regret of the day came early, as I would have loved to have videotaped her as the bounce house was being blown up.  We’ve gotten one every year for her, so it wasn’t a surprise, but her complete inability to contain herself as it was being set up was pretty great to watch.

 

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The Frozen themed cake and an absurd amount of pizza arrived next, but like the bounce house, these were of minimal concern to me. I was more concerned with whether or not any of her classmates were going to be able to make it. We had received a couple of affirmative RSVPs, but hadn’t heard back from many. Weekends in the summer are busy times. Since none of these people really knew us, if at all, it would be completely understandable if they didn’t come.

 

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Fortunately we didn’t need to explain this to her. I’m honestly not sure how disappointed she would have been, but it’s something I’m going to keep in mind when we receive invitations to bring her places. One of my favorite qualities in my daughter is her self-confidence.

Two of her BFFs came and all the kids seemed to have a blast. Besides the bounce house, the bigger kids,  ( it’s weird describing my four year old and her friends that way ) spent some time in the pool. They hit the sandbox and the swings. Tons of cake and pizza were consumed.

 

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By then end of the day we were exhausted but satisfied we had done all that we could to make her day special. It still is difficult to believe that she is four already and that my biggest worry about the day was for her ego.  Alaina spent the day surrounded by family and friends, all there just for her. I wasn’t surprised when she described it as “the best day ever.”

 

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Past Lives of a Preschooler

Reincarnation as a concept has been around for thousands of years. In various forms, it is a central tenant in Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other religions worldwide, including many Native American and Inuit beliefs. Specifics vary, but the common thread is that after death a person is able to re-enter the world of the living in a new body, usually beginning their new life starting back at birth.

 

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My preschooler has become absolutely convinced that this has happened to her. She doesn’t know the word, but for several months now has been talking about different things that had happened “when she used to be a grown up.” Her imagination has always been pretty vivid, as described Here, but the vehemence that she displays in sticking with this story has occasionally given me pause.

She can’t read a clock and still confuses her units of time measurement, but Alaina understands the concept. She knows how ageing works and has accepted the fact that she is never going to “catch up” to her older sister. Somehow, however, she has come to the belief that when she used to be “grown up”, she took care of her mom and I when we were “little”. We’ve explained to her multiple times that this isn’t how it works. Her grandmothers have both explained to her that this isn’t how it works. She remains convinced.

According to a 2005 Gallup poll, 25% of US adults believe in reincarnation. There is a strong Lithuanian genetic influence in my daughter, and the number of believers in that country is 44%, the highest in all of Europe. Carl Jung postulated the theory of “racial memory”, where memories, feelings, and ideas are inherited from ancestors.  He called this “collective unconscious.” Could this be the answer?

Genetic memory has largely been dismissed as an explanation for past life regression because the subjects usually have no genetic link with the people they claim to have existed as. Alaina’s narrative seems to close this parapsychology loophole.

I’ve often said that the psychological and social development of my daughter absolutely fascinates me to watch.  She is of the age now where she is really starting to develop a sense of self and sense of personal identity.  I think that she is just incapable of comprehending the fact that she wasn’t always “here.”  Trying to explain it to her is an exhausting array of questions about how babies are made, where we come from, and how she died before if she wasn’t always alive.  Philosophical debates with a  four year old are surprisingly difficult.

I’m assuming this is a result of toddler narcissism and that my daughter is not the new Buddha or Dalai Lama.  I have always figured that she would one day rule the world, but wouldn’t guess that it will be as a spiritual leader.

 

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Fueled by Fit-Kitchen

I have partnered with Life of Dad  and Stouffers for this promotion. I have received compensation and product for my participation, but all opinions are my own.

 

Life can get pretty nuts with a teenager and a pre-schooler . As I’ve mentioned before, my wife and I have come up with a pretty successful division of time and labor that allows one of us to be at home almost all the time. I handle most mornings, she is in charge of dinner and bedtime. Dinners are usually much healthier than lunches.

The dinners that I eat? Not very healthy. I work nights at a hospital, and the cafeteria there doesn’t cooperate with my palate. I pack sandwiches sometimes, but more often than not I fall back on the old standby. Slice of pizza.

When offered the opportunity to be a brand ambassador for the new Fit-Kitchen line of foods, I didn’t hesitate long. Too often lately, lunch for the mini has been a simple cheese sandwich. My wife tries to cook healthy dinners and I grill as much as time and weather permit, but I needed another option.

I’m glad that I did, because I think that I have found my new meal time wingman:

 

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The new meals came in handy immediately. Saturday was a busy day. The morning was spent on bathroom renovations, both kids had soccer practice, and the evening was spent at the teenager’s dance recital.  Lunch had to be quick, and it had to be something that would keep us full for a long time.

The Rotisserie Seasoned Turkey did the job. The first thing I noticed about these meals is how hearty they are. Three of us split the turkey, carrots, green beans, and red skin and sweet potatoes, and we all came away full and satisfied.  The food itself was delicious and the 25 grams of protein kept us fueled.  I was impressed so far.

Sunday and Monday night I was working. Neither day afforded time to eat before I went in, but with Monterey Chicken and Steak Fajita  packed, it wasn’t an issue.  The chicken had just enough BBQ and cheese to be tasty without being overwhelming. The red chile sauce on the fajita was restaurant quality. I usually get home anywhere between nine and ten at night, have a snack while catching the end of the Red Sox game, and am ready for bed soon after.  Both nights I came home full of 26 grams of protein and plenty of energy.

 

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This morning was a little less hectic. The mini wanted to go on an “adventure” before school, which usually means a hike in the woods behind us, often in the hopes of catching a glimpse at dinosaurs or dragons. So far we’ve seen plenty of tracks and spoor, but the beasts have eluded us.  This is a night where the teenager will probably be in charge of dinner, so I needed to step up my lunchtime game and still give us plenty of time to hunt.  The Cilantro Lime Chicken, with a black bean and corn mix, seasoned brown rice, and verde tomatillo sauce was our choice. We both had a healthy meal and my mind is eased about what may be for supper.

 

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After dropping her off my next stop was Stop and Shop.  Among the things on my list were Oven Roasted Chicken and Bourbon Steak, the two flavors I haven’t tried yet. These meals are quick, delicious, and loaded with protein. None of the ones I’ve tried have been over 400 calories but have been very filling.  They also have me eating my vegetables, which is no easy feat.  I’m stocking up.

 

 

I’d like to thank Life of Dad and Stouffers for this opportunity. You can find them on Facebook at Life of Dad and Stouffers

Mr. Nice Guy

Several times since I’ve started this blog,  people have commented to me that I’m ” a lot nicer than they thought that I was” or other variations of that.  I’ve also heard that I was “the last person in the world expected to be a blogger.”  Pretty much the definition of “back handed compliments”  but I can’t say that I don’t understand where they are coming from.

I’ve never been overly cuddly or sentimental. I have a beer belly, tatoos, still smoke cigarettes, and drink bourbon whiskey. I’d probably have a motorcycle if I didn’t work in an emergency room. I’ve been in bar brawls and the back seats of police cars. I listen to heavy metal and post pictures like this on Facebook.

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I really don’t talk to very many people and when I do, I swear a lot. I’m more than happy to talk about my kids if asked, but  don’t tell a lot of unsolicited stories. I put pictures of them in the break room at work and on my locker, but don’t walk around showing them to people.

When I met my wife she was a student at the facility I work at. The first thing she did when hired  was to approach our supervisor and ask to not be placed on the same shift as me if at all possible. Apparently I grew on her.

Students are no longer afraid of me. I’ve gone from the arrogant prick nobody wanted to work with to the soft-spoken old guy in a remarkably short period of time without ever realizing it was happening. Being happily married has certainly played a part, as has simply getting older and wiser. I can’t even remember the last time I threw anything at work.

Studies have shown that men’s testosterone levels drop dramatically after tuning forty and that having daughters can cause them to drop even further. An easier explanation is that it’s hard to stay very tough while watching Sesame Street with your morning coffee and spending the day having tea parties with fairies.

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I’m afraid that my girls are making me soft. The teenager is in a hip-hop dance class and her recital was this past weekend. I was of course very proud of how well she performed during her five minute routine, but also confused about how I really didn’t hate the other three hours that I spent there.

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My wife now yells at me for driving too slow. I bought an outfit for my daughter because of how cute it was. When I’m scanning the radio and Taylor Swift comes on I still change the channel, but it’s more because I don’t want the song stuck in my head than because my daughter isn’t with me. Country songs like “Mom” by Garth Brooks or Kenny Chesney’s “There goes my life” can make me a little misty-eyed.

The truth is that I’ve never been quite as gruff as I appeared.  I’ve never been able to grow a decent beard. I always wipe my eyes when Doc Holliday is on his deathbed at the end of Tombstone. No matter how many times I’ve seen Forrest Gump, I choke up when he’s at Jenny’s gravesite talking about their son. I think Duran Duran is greatly underappreciated and can still hit the high notes from most 80’s power ballads. I’ve been to Disney World a dozen times, but only had a kid with me once.

Instead of buying a new Grumpy t-shirt the next time I’m there, maybe I should just admit defeat and switch to either Dopey or Sleepy.

 

 

 

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms