Thursday, July 31, 2008


I have two girls, S, five-years-old, and GK, two. They are stubborn and bossy, respectively.

Last night, S talked to her mother in a manner that mothers should not be addressed. I sent her immediately to her room and left her to think about it. Later, I told her she could come out if she would go and apologize to her mom. She went in the kitchen, but just stood there while Kristy talked to her. When she was finished, I asked Kristy if she had said "I'm sorry" and she said no. So I put her back in her room.

A bit later, just before dinner, I went in and asked if she was ready to apologize and she said no. That girl would rather sit in solitary than say she's sorry.

Eventually she was sprung without my consent. I would have left her in there all night, because I'm stubborn like that.

GK's hobby is telling everyone what to do and then watching as whatever it is is carried out. This morning she and Kristy were in our bed and I kissed GK goodbye and she said, "Kiss mommy." Well, I was going to. I don't need to be told to. But then it looked as though I was just doing what she said, which is what she likes.

Kristy does the same thing. If we turn a movie on, as soon as the DVD starts if the volume is too loud, she'll tell me to turn it down as I'm already reaching for the remote. But then it looks as though I was just doing what she said, which is what she likes.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Best of ...

(From June 8, 2006)

Pest Control

We have bugs and Kristy has had enough.

The crumbs and morsels left lying around are too attractive for these vermin, and there is way too much of it for us to control them ourselves. This time of year, too, with the warm weather, it's made worse because they seem to multiply exponentially and criss-cross the kitchen two and three at a time.

So she called a pest control company to come out this weekend and rid us of the pests. But I told her, "Kristy, they're not pests, they're our children." We named them and fed them and clothed them and we've watched them grow, but now all the scampering when the lights come on and eating whatever food has been lying around is all too much for her.

I hope the pest control guy brings big traps so it's all humane and they can eventually be released back into the wild. And I hope there is pizza in whatever wild they're released in, because that's really the only food all of them enjoy.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Best Of ...

(From April 5, 2006)


I came home from work the other day to find our neighbor down the street and his little girl out taking a walk and pausing in front of our house. We started talking and The Trio came out to see what was going on since sidewalk conversations carry pretty well across our four feet of front yard into the living room. It turns out his daughter is S's age, a fact I never realized even though I've seen this girl grow before my very eyes in vignettes of drivebys and afternoon walks such as the one she was on today. So when I arrived home today, S was waiting and ready to go down and see if her new friend was home and we all ended up in their fenced-off backyard with the kids all running and playing and having a big time.

For those without kids, you can't understand the importance of finding a couple your own age with some of their own. Finding people like this, on your own block no less, is akin to being 12-years-old and having your mother foist you upon the new neighbor kid simply because it's summer break and you live on the same block, as though that is all you need in common for being friends. But then you find out that his house has a pool that you never realized was there and thus your summer, and friendship, is made. This is what finding people, in walking distance, with kids, is like. You can carry on an adult conversation with them without being questioned as to the juice stain on the front of your shirt. You don't have to apologize when your child stops you in mid-conversation to ask a question about butterflies. They simply nod knowingly when you spout the evening's menu choices to your brood: fish sticks, PB&J, macaroni & cheese, or Pop-Tarts.

So we were in Neighbor's backyard, with the kids running wild when he offers me a beer. The Trio is entertained and there's free beer. Now this is like meeting that neighbor kid, finding out he has a pool in his yard, and THEN learning that his 19-year-old sister is home for college for the summer and will spend the days laying out poolside. Where would it end? We've met other couples with kids in the past but it's always difficult to maintain relationships. Depending on where you meet them, they may live across the city (the suburbs?!) or their kids' ages may be just a little off from your own. There may be a difference in socio-economic class or they may be the type who wear their beliefs on their sleeve to the point that you're trying to get your kid to break out of his shyness and introduce himself to theirs and they've spent the first five minutes trying to save your soul. And this new friendship of the past couple of days could fall apart. But they do live just down the block and the only downside so far is that their house is for sale, though it has been for quite a while and they really don't seem all that interested in selling. Perhaps knowing there are good kids in the neighborhood for their daughter to run with will entice them to stay. All I know is as we were leaving his backyard last night, Neighbor suggested we come down for a cookout sometime. Now he's cooking me meat? That's like finding out the neighbor kid has a pool in his backyard, that his 19-year-old sister is home from college to tan in front of your eyes and she's, well, willing to grill meat for you.

Monday, April 23, 2007


Urf! It's what my three-year-old daughter utters when trying to tie her shoes or reach a bath towel or when squeezing a dab of toothpaste on her own all becomes too much. It's the sound of frustration. Urf is the pressure that builds up inside kids and escapes with the all the power of a tea kettle, yet with the economy of a dog's bark. As much as it belongs to a child, however, it is also the sound of the parent and the frustration that comes, not just from being awaken at midnight or wanting to read a whole book chapter without interruption, but with watching our children tie their shoes for the first time and squeeze that tube of toothpaste until their knuckles whiten. We want to help (and probably will in the end) but we also want them to succeed, we will them to complete the task on their own, to complete a stage, to become whole.

Upon becoming a first time parent over eight years ago, I had no idea there were parenting styles. My wife read all she could find on it and discussed techniques with like-minded women, finally deciding on attachment-style parenting, or some aberration of it anyway. As far as I knew, if my child was still alive and reasonably happy at the end of the day then I did my job. Eight years and three kids later with one on the way, I'm not sure that's changed much for me. I also don't think I know much more about parenting than I did in January 1998 when my first son showed up. Every day is a challenge, and it's not the challenge of running scripted and practiced football plays or taking an exam you've studied for for weeks. Every day is different. Every day is a new joy and a new frustration.

I hope to remember in this space those new joys and new frustrations that my kids bring me from day to day. The stories should mostly be funny - funny to me anyway - as these kids never fail to surprise me with what they say or do. I'm not sure fathers are supposed to keep these blogs, at least I've never seen one by a dad, while there are plenty from mothers out there. I guess I'll just start and see how it goes. See if it's fun, or if it's just frustrating. Urf!

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