“Starting it up again?” asked my 12-year-old son…I shook my head up and down. I’ve been doing this blog in one form or another since 2008. I originally started it to learn about blogs. It then became a place to write about my observations as a father to my two sons. As time went on, I would leave this space for months at a time, and then reappear sometimes with stories, a 90 day writing challenge or to reflect on images I liked, or wished to comment on. It is an evolutionary blog that has never had much of a following except for a day when I discovered some techy link that generated an insanely huge following for a few days. Today, I begin, I think, a new phase.
I decided to change the name 4wrdthnkndad to Forward Thinking Dad, because it was just easier for people to find. Perhaps it reflects that I’m aging and becoming more practical. Also I’m taking an improv class, where I’m being asked to begin with a monologue. I find myself avoiding that experience. I keep looking for the perfect story to tell. And yet I know, talking about writing this blog post would be a good enough place to start a monologue.
So my intention today is to write about moments that I’m interested in.
So the pendulum has swung according to today’s NY Times magazine, and now new parents are saying enough with over protecting their children. The backlash is against the idea that parents are so involved with their children and putting them on the track to success.
One criticism is against over scheduling your kids for activities. I for one support this. I don’t think a kid needs or wants to be scheduled every minute of the day. From my own observation, kids look forward to some unstructured time to just let their mind wander, play, and be silly. Especially when they are in the early years of school.
As parents, one of the issues we fail to consider is what do the kids actually need or want. For example, we may love soccer, but the kid is more interested in butterfly’s, because the game may not fun for them. On the other hand, our kids may wish to swing on the swing for long stretches of time and be quite content, and then we interrupt it for a chance for them to maybe hit a ball a few times in little league.
If our game is cancelled on the weekend, my kids would go from swinging, to kicking the soccer ball, to playing music, to playing a computer game, to reading with one of us, to having a jumping party with sofa cushions on the couch, to fighting with one another, making up, and running around the house, literally climbing up the door way, playing a board game, to swinging, and running outside in the sprinkler. The point being they would create ways to have fun.
To me, the question is who is all the activity for- the kids or the parents? From what I’ve observed, there are many middle to upper middle class kids that are just hungry for some down time with their parents. In fact, whenever I’m reading to my kids or hanging out with them near a park, kids will flock around us.
Where are there parents, you might ask? They’re usually on their laptops, Blackberry’s, or on the cell phone. I guess spontaneous, unstructured time with kids is not as much fun…for the parents.
Day 20- I’ve got 70 more days to go. I am beginning to wonder why I bothered to do this. Since not to many people seem to be reading it, it has to be for me. So while my wife plays soccer with my oldest son and gramps looks over the gifts my son received for his “half birthday,” I’m trying to write.
What is a half birthday? When I was a kid, there was no such thing as anything but a birthday. It appears there was some concern for those kids who could not celebrate during the year. My son…and I happen to be one of those people. Therefore I am more supportive and empathic about this topic than I might ordinarily be.
In fact, I went to my son’s class for the ceremony. It was really quite impressive. It begins with him wearing a self made crown. He marched to the center of the circle with me at his side. The teacher then brought out the folder with all of his gifts. Remarkably, the gifts included, rainbows, turtles, parts of the world, colorful rain, and many original works of art. I loved it.
The children seemed quite proud of their creations and my son seemed as happy to receive it. If only we as adults could be so happy to receive a rainbow.
The Chicago Tribune reported that this will be the last summer for Kiddie Land. Last summer, my kids had an incredible time there. I had not been there in years. So, great after 81 years, now they’ve got to close it.
Unlike the neighborhood carnivals or the over the top Six Flags, Kiddie land is perfect for the under 10 crowd. The Merry go rounds have this beautifully crafted retro cars, motorcycles and vehicles for the kids to ride on. The wooden roller coasters have all the rumbling and excitement of old school coasters. What I love is you pay one price and then the kids are off: bumper cars, tilt a whirl, log runs, or just riding old cars. I’m not crazy about the free soda, but the kids love it.
The article suggested the owners of the land want to sell it to Costco. Don’t get me wrong, I love Costco. I depend on Costco every month, but it doesn’t seem worth tearing this place down for a giant big box store. When will this country learn to retain something if it has a unique presence or value. Can’t we learn from cities like Rome? Do you really think they are ever going to destroy the Roman Forum for a new Target?
I read an article about New Years resolutions today. Its usually the same content the papers have every year about peoples desire to lose weight and stop smoking. In fact, it is so redundant, they could print the same article every year and I doubt anyone would notice the difference.
So I thought to myself, why not simplify this, and come up with one small goal that most of us could achieve- An apology-amends-an I’m sorry to one person in your life.
For those of you, who don’t have much experience doing this, let me explain. Identify someone you believe you have hurt with your words or actions, seek them out, and either write, email, call, or talk in person to them. Simply state the following, “I’m sorry for___________.
Some of you are probably saying, “but he/she did this to me…will they apologize for what they did….It”s not fair that I have to…what if they tell me what I lousy person I am and pile it on because I owned up to being at fault…will this be an admission of guilt? Blah, Blah, Blaah, Blah. Bullsh5$@^t!
Don’t complicate this. Just find a friend, lover, colleague, family member, store clerk-anyone you believe deserves an apology from you because of something you said or did. But what if I can’t come up with anyone? How will I know if I owe an apology? Here are some examples.
Did you lie, yell, blame, judge, criticize, shame, steal, mistreat physically, verbally, or emotionally, effect another person in a way that made them feel like a bad person? If the answer is yes, apologize. Ok, you want more specific examples.
If you yelled at your kid and he freaked out; If you called your significant other names; If you blamed someone else at work for your mistake- If you come up with ideas, then attempt to justify it as not really being something worthy of an apology-then it qualifies for an apology.
I believe it is an attainable goal for the new year. I’d like to hear examples of what others might apologize for.
Christmas is overwhelming for me. I experience so much pressure to buy or give, and yet it can feel pretty forced. So the spirit of giving happens spontaneously, it means more to me. So here is my experience of the magic of Christmas.
Last Sunday, it was about -4 degrees in the city. We had been in the house all day. So my wife and oldest son decided to go for a short walk around the block, while I stayed and played with my younger son. Shortly after leaving the house, the door bell rang. It was my wife and son. “We need some muscle to move a car,” she said.
A twenty something year old boy living at a place called, “Artist in Residence” was trying to get his car out of a snow packed parking spot. So we rocked his car, told him not to burn so much rubber, and eventually got him back on the road. It felt like the right thing to do. And I liked that our son experienced the moment.
On Monday, my wife called me at work. “You remember the artist with the skull & crossbones on his car-the one we pushed out of the snow? He left us a box of choclates with a note to the family that went out of its way to help me out.”
It was a complete surprise. To me, it combines the message of Christmas. You give to others with the nothing more than the best of intentions and then you move on. And sometimes, when you least expect it, something good comes back your way.