Not Another Fathers Day Post

 

I’ve been asked multiple times over the past few days how my Father’s Day was.  It was good.  I slept until 10:00, probably the latest in at least a year, woke up to find some bacon waiting for me, and did a whole lot of nothing most of the day except drink a few beers and watch golf on television. That night I finally got to watch the new Godzilla movie.  I liked it.  It reminded me a lot of the old school Godzilla movies I enjoyed as a child.

I also had several people tell me they were surprised I didn’t write a Father’s Day blog post.  Well, here’s why.  I don’t particularly like Father’s Day, for multiple reasons.

 

 

1.   I don’t like to be told what I have to do.  Father’s Day, like Mother’s and Valentine’s Day, is what I call an “obligation” holiday.  I love and appreciate my father and all the sacrifices he made for me growing up.  He was there for me in ways that I never even realized until I had children of my own. I don’t know how many times I’ve told him that over the past forty years, but if he didn’t know how I felt prior to this past weekend, my failings as a son  have gone much further than if I hadn’t bothered to call him.

 

dad0002

 

2. The marketing. I wasn’t expecting an actual gift from my wife, but I’m glad that she went with a simple shorts and T-shirt combo that I actually needed. Our insurance deductible and emergency room co-pay are much too high to buy me power tools, and she probably would have bought me the wrong golf equipment.  According to the television this past week, those are the only things that dads actually want.

3. Christopher Columbus.  Looking for a new trade route to the West Indies, Columbus instead landed on the Bahamas, the Antilles islands, and the Caribbean coasts of Venezuela and Central America. Never admitting to his mistake, he called the indigenous peoples “Indians”, initiated mass genocide, and founded the transatlantic slave trade before eventually being arrested and dismissed as governor by the Spanish government.  The anniversary of his arrival has been a “federal” holiday since 1937, with an accompanying day off from work and school for many people. In 1972, Father’s Day became a “national” holiday, meaning no day off.  I call bullshit on this.

4. It’s not a very happy day for a lot of people.  I have friends that grew up with crappy or abusive fathers. They hate Father’s day. There are also  those that have lost their children, those potentially great fathers that are medically unable to have children, and those that are not being allowed to be fathers to their children. There are no authoritative statistics on parental alienation, but I personally know several fathers that are being kept out of their children’s lives for no reasons except spite and hate.

 

Father’s Day was originally celebrated after a mining disaster in West Virginia killed three hundred and sixty-one men in 1908. Two hundred and fifty of the men were fathers so the town set aside a day to honor them. It was a commendable idea, but like many “holidays” of today, one that has run its course.

I’m very fortunate to have grown up with a great father and am now blessed with a happy, healthy family of my own.  My favorite part of the day Sunday was hearing my wife and children tell me that they loved and appreciated me.

It’s my favorite part of every day, obligated or not.

 

IMG_1259

 

 

J

Spirit Week

The school year is starting to wind down, and like most classrooms, Alaina’s pre-school has now abandoned their usual intellectual pursuits in favor of silliness and fun. Among the featured festivities was “spirit week”, where children are encouraged to dress according to a daily theme. She only goes three days a week, so my responsibilities were limited to  the “miss-match”, “crazy hair”, and “favorite sports team” days. Piece of cake,

Miss-Match Day was by far the easiest. When she gets up in the morning, the first thing Alaina does is change out of her PJs and into her idea of an outfit for the day. After breakfast and some play time comes a complex negotiation to determine what her actual outfit is going to be. She was excited that on this day she was able to keep her own ensemble.

20150619_133240

 

 

Crazy Hair Day was next. One of the bylaws of dad blogging is that every effort must be made to constantly debunk the notion of dad as “babysitter” and show the world that dads can be sensitive, competent caregivers. Unfortunately, I am stereo-typically  poor when it comes to doing anything with my kid’s hair.  Alaina wears a ponytail to school and a Red Sox hat everywhere else, just like her sister did when I was responsible for getting her ready for school in the morning.  Alaina was absolutely thrilled with the “wacky” idea of a ponytail that went straight up instead of the more traditional look we usually go with.

20150619_091518

 

 

Sports are kind of a big deal in our household, a close second to our children in conversation topics between my wife and I. The Red Sox are terrible this year, but our first over night escape of the summer was highlighted by watching a game from the Green Monster at Fenway Park. Within a few weeks I hope to get the girls to a minor league game or two and we’ve already started perusing the NFL schedule to plan which games we may attend this winter.

A quick glance into my closet shows that 80% of my non-work clothing is adorned with either the logo of a sports team or was a free gift with subscription renewals to Sports Illustrated or ESPN the Magazine. The number is lower for my wife’s wardrobe, but her collection of gear would still impress all but the most hard core fan.

So it was both shocking and completely unacceptable to find that my daughter had nothing that would fit her for Sports Team Day. She’s been wearing her colors proudly since the very beginning.

go sox

 

 

We really weren’t more than a few minutes late for school….

 

20150616_121256

 

 

J

 

Get over It!

Parenting is turning out to be an endless repudiation of my pre-conceived notions about parenting. I had assumed that as my daughter became a better communicator and further developed her reasoning skills that the “tantrum” stage would be fairly short-lived. This turned out to be true. Where I was wrong was in assuming that the worst was now over. Nobody ever talks about the even more terrible stage that comes next. The whining.

There seems to be very little that is not whine-worthy. Whether it be clothes not fitting particular dolls, her insistence on not liking jelly on bread ( really? ) or the news that she can’t go in the pool when it’s raining, Alaina had a lot to whine about today. I lost track of how many times I told her to “get over it.”

Here’s the nice thing though. She does. Almost every time there is something causing her distress, it doesn’t take much more than a redirection of attention and she’s on to the next thing. Chances are good that the new activity may at some point lead to whining, but at least she doesn’t dwell.

20150617_085310

 

It’s an important quality to have. I don’t claim to have any secret formula for happiness, but I can say that the people I know that are the most good-natured and satisfied with their lives are also the people that seem to be able to move past their disappointments and annoyances the fastest. It makes it possible to return to work with a good attitude after a crappy day, is necessary to maintain interpersonal relationships, and could just possibly be the most important element in keeping a marriage together.

It seems to be a lesson the teenager is learning also. After a less than ideal end to her Prom Night,  I fully expected at least a week of brooding, dirty looks, and under- the-breath comments. Like many, she has a bad habit of holding grudges and not being able to get past perceived injustices. I think it’s a big factor in why she had such a hard time finding success in her first year of high school.

To my pleasant surprise, that hasn’t been the case.  if she hasn’t exactly been gregarious over the past few days, we are at least back to base-line moodiness and the things that she is mad at us about are new things. Whether it’s puppy love or a new found maturity causing this change in attitude I can’t say for certain, but anything that lowers the quantity of whining in the house is going to be appreciated.

grow up

 

 

Lessons from Prom Night

 

Prom season has returned to America, and parents all around the country are discovering new gray hair and worry lines.  Adding to my aggravation this past Saturday was the fact that I was going to be working. Once again the teenager would be riding around with the boy I hadn’t met yet , this time well after dark, and on a night notorious for drinking and even more nefarious activities.

Kayla attends a much smaller school this year than last, where the Prom is open to anybody to attend, not just upperclassmen. This would be her first  formal dance that she went to with an actual date.

The day was spent primping. Hair was done, as well as fingers and toes. I was gone before the final unveiling, but technology being what it is today I had several pictures not long after they were taken, including several of the two boys that would be escorting Kayla and her friend. My wife assured me that they were polite and respectful.

 

prom

 

 

Another thing about today’s technology is that pretty much anybody is accessible at any time. Even from work I was able to send the boys a quick message about drinking and F’ing around while driving. Kayla had been reminded several times that my wife expected text messages whenever someplace was left or arrived at.

Our rules were fairly simple. Have fun, be careful, and keep us informed about where you are. The mother of the girl whose house Kayla would be spending the night at assured us that the boys would not be doing the same.

 

restricted

 

Unfortunately these rules weren’t quite simple enough. The required phone call was made at 10:00 PM to say that the dance was fun and after a quick stop for one of the guys to change, they would be headed to the other girl’s house to watch a movie.  Perfectly reasonable. She was told to call or text when they arrived and that would have been the end of our involvement in her night, satisfied that we had done our due diligence.

Nothing followed.

Repeated calls to the phones of all involved went to voicemail. Messages went unreturned.

Benefit of the doubt was given for an hour. The second hour was spent alternating between being worried and really pissed off.

At hour three I drove to the girl’s house and hauled Kayla’s ass home.

Having now ruined her life forever, the ride home wasn’t fun. All the phone’s batteries needed to be charged. Maybe, but incidental. They weren’t doing anything wrong.  Probably, but also not exculpatory.  She didn’t realize it was such a big deal.  Doubtful that’s a mistake she’ll be making again.

As far as I’m concerned, the situation is over. This was her first time going out like this and I believe that she honestly just didn’t place as much importance  on checking in as she should have. Hopefully the lesson has been learned.  Her mom and I are also  getting used to this new reality.  Finding a balance between strict but fair might take us some time.

On a positive note, the “friend” contacted me the following day to apologize. He accepted blame, made no excuses, agreed that our rules are the only rules, and promised not to hold any of this against Kayla. All correct answers that made a very positive impression on me.  I plan on telling her that as soon as she begins speaking to me again.

 

25 Questions, Mommy Edition

Alaina certainly had some interesting answers when asked these 25 Questions, ( hula-hooping? ) so we went ahead and did a mommy version.  Apparently my wife and I spend a lot of time doing dishes and Alaina’s smoothie ( McDonalds milkshake ) addiction isn’t going away any time soon.

 

What is something mommy always says to you?
I love you

What makes mommy happy?
When I play

What makes mommy sad?
When I hurt your knee

How does mommy make you laugh?
When she does tricks

What was mommy like as a child?
She liked smoothies

How old is mommy?
Three

How tall is mommy?
Four

What is mommy’s favorite thing to do?
Doing the dishes

What does mommy do when you’re not around?
Goes to the gym

If mommy became famous, what would it be for?
Playing

What is mommy really good at?
Doing tricks

What is mommy not very good at?
Pillow fights

What does mommy do for a job?
Dishes

What is mommy’s favorite food?
Chinese

What makes you proud of mommy?
When she does the dishes

What cartoon character is mommy like?
Spongebob Squarepants

What do you and mommy do together?
Play together

How are you and mommy the same?
We have the same eyes

How are you and mommy different?
We have different shirts on

How do you know mommy loves you?
You say it all the time

What does mommy like best about daddy?
He does the dishes

What does daddy most like about mommy?
Her hair is up to the sky

What is mommy’s favorite place to go?
To the park

How old was mommy when you were born?
All grown up

What is your favorite thing about mommy?
We rake leaves together

 

a and d

Adventures with girls, from preschool to proms