Snow

There was a time when a snow day would bring the world to a stop.  Schools would close and unless your job was deemed essential, you too would be given the day off to do as you would see fit. Days would be spent as a family, either out frolicking in the snow or relaxing inside with a good book, old movie and a beverage of your choice.…


Better

I did not see the straw that broke the camel’s back. But the reasons that compelled my 9 year old to repeatedly whip a tennis ball into her sister’s masterpiece lego house on wheels presumably ran deep into the sinkhole that was 2020.

After going all Godzilla on her sister’s prized creation, she ran down the hall and locked herself in her room. I had been getting ready for the day and missed the fireworks and the twenty minutes of sequestration that followed.…


Blessed

I’m not sure I’ve ever felt as blessed as I did this Thanksgiving. It was a day of almost complete harmony among my wife and I and our three daughters.  

Our day began with a simple exercise of writing down the many people and things we were grateful for this year, in spite of all that has engulfed our nation and impaired our daily lives.

Under different circumstances, this request could have been met with eye rolls and pleas to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.…


Gratitude>>>

Daddy, 2020 sucks.”  It is this year of sickness, sacrifice, sadness, sucktitude and overall political jackassery, my youngest daughter succinctly summed up what has become all too obvious.  

Thanksgiving will soon join the long list of traditions, celebrations, holidays, and rituals that must be adjusted to conform to our new “less than” reality.  

Perhaps, though, Thanksgiving is uniquely suited to be “more than” during these times.…


Acceptance

When your children misbehave or act in a way that that drives you crazy, it makes it difficult to follow the guidance of Mr. Rogers to “love your children exactly as they are, without any conditions attached.”  

This type of acceptance becomes hard when confronted with a child, or an adult for that matter, who seem defiant or uncompromising. But that is exactly the point.

Accepting someone exactly as they are is a choice.…


Vote?

In the 2016 election, over 110 million Americans who were eligible to vote did not.  To be more precise, 110,178,918, people over the age of eighteen sat out a race that was decided by less than 80,000 votes. 

To put that in further perspective, it is the equivalent of the entire eligible voting populations of the United Kingdom, France AND Belgium deciding not to vote in their respective elections. …


Sick

In a year defined by sickness, this week has been particularly so. 

There are many forms of sickness of which I speak. The obvious one is the coronavirus – whose toll mounts  despite having the means right in front of us to control it.  Less obvious is the sickness in our politics and civil discourse – not just between members of different political parties but within our families and amongst our friends. …


Catharsis

During these times, many have sought solace in a well-made television series.  One that can at the very least escape the time, one that when done well provides a much needed catharsis.

A catharsis is an emotional release – “a process of releasing and thereby providing relief from, strong and repressed emotions.”

Two shows that have provided that effect in our household bear many similarities and a few marked differences.  …


Schools

It’s like ”playing a game of 3D chess while standing on one leg in the middle of a hurricane.”

These were the words Richmond Superintendent of Schools and former recipient of the National Teacher of the Year, Jason Kamras, used to describe the process of planning for the opening of schools.

This vivid simile captures the complexity (3D chess), dexterity (standing on one leg) and danger (hurricane), that is inherent in what seems like a near impossible task.…


Complementary

To hear this term is to presume something positive. It implies that things fit with one another, get along, are nice.

Yet in the field of psychology, complementary behavior may not always be as helpful as it sounds.  It means you respond back to someone in the same way they did to you.  For example, if someone yells at you, you yell at them.

By comparison, non-complementary behavior is responding to someone in a different way from which they acted towards you. …


Daddy

It is my favorite word.  To hear anyone of my three daughters call me “Daddy” is a delight, even when it is to register a complaint or voice frustration.  There is an innate tenderness to the term that I never want to go away.  I have never heard my daughters call me dad or father, although I’m guessing they use those terms whenever referring to me with their friends or teachers.   …


mom

Yesterday was a mother’s day unlike any other. Under normal circumstances this would be a day where mothers would either be lavished with gifts, taken out to dinner, or maybe just given a break.

No doubt children and families did their best to try and cobble something together along those lines despite our current limitations. 

To repeat a well-worn cliche, now more than ever, mom’s deserve the recognition that too often gets taken for granted.…


Cats & Dogs: Two stories about kids and culture

As I walked my dog on a blistery January morning, I noticed that every block or two, bundled up children were being dutifully escorted to their street corner. Waiting for the bus to take them to elementary school.

It would be impossible to know the exact political orientation of the parents and grandparents who had risen early and braved the cold that morning.  But given that particular Pennsylvania town’s voting history, one might surmise that it was divided politically. …


“Lift me up!”

I was on a roll.  After weeks of having task after task pile up and doing my best to just stay above water, I was now laying waste to a to do list and email box that had seemed hopelessly out of control.
 
I felt like a castaway who was adrift at sea for weeks but could finally see paradise on the horizon.
 
Just then, my eleven-year-old daughter came bounding into my room demanding playfully “Lift me up!”…


What kind of ancestor do you want to be?

This powerful question comes from Rom Mokak,  Australia’s first Indigenous Policy Evaluation Commissioner.  It is a question that the Yawuru people ask when a major decision is to be made for their community.

When I first heard this question, it made me think of what kind of steward I am for not just my children’s future but for their children and their children and so on. I…


Everything you need, some of what you want

This was how a recent contestant on The Voice described her childhood.  She said it with a smile and followed a profile of her journey to The Voice stage.  It described being raised by a single mom in a situation that was poor in material goods but rich in emotional ones. Second hand stores but first-rate parenting.

This phrase that summarized her experience,  “She gave us everything we needed and some of what we wanted,” resonated with me on several levels.


What to do?

This week I watched a two-minute video and read a ten-page magazine article that hit me like a punch to the gut and left me staggering and wondering, “What to do?”
 
The video was of the sixteen-year-old environmentalist, Greta Thunberg, who had sailed from Sweden to address the United Nations.  Her provocative and passionate speech left me feeling shamed and helpless.  Watch for yourself.  How do her words make you feel?…


The Drive

It was my first experience driving on the left side of the road.  A task made more challenging by the vehicle Enterprise had given us. Their self-proclaimed party van could seat eight comfortably and still have room enough for four suitcases and five backpacks.
 
The roads seemed incapable of holding both this van and the oncoming traffic – which apparently consisted exclusively of campers, busses and eighteen wheel trucks 
 
They say that the drive from Edinburgh to the Isle of Skye is majestic but I couldn’t tell you, as my eyes were exclusively focused on the road five feet in front of me every minute for four hours. …


Want to feel better about your day?

Within one 24 hour period last week:

  • Our dishwasher broke
  • Someone illegally charged my American Express card twice
  • Our laundry room flooded as a result of a major HVAC leak
  • I erroneously received a bill from the state government for $15,000
  • Our laundry room flooded a second time after the technician’s first “repair” didn’t work
  • My wife backed our car into a steel pole rushing to get our child to camp after our carpool partner canceled at the last minute.

Polar Opposites

It stood almost ten feet tall and weighted close to a thousand pounds. We were less than four feet away, separated by two trainers and a steel fence. Feeling small in its presence, it was literally awesome.

While most of the onlookers were equally mesmerized watching the polar bear go through its training exercises, it was impossible not to notice the five-year-old girl who sat just in front of me.…


Father’s Day Presence

This was the seventh father’s day for my youngest daughter. It means that all three of my children now have had a father in their lives longer than I had one in mine.

And I wonder to what benefit?

The absence of a father in my life inspired me to be ever present in my own children’s lives.  

I thought this would mean that they would see me as the greatest Dad ever. …


What Do You Do When You’re Wrong?

In response to last week’s post, several readers wrote me to point out an error. I incorrectly wrote, “Mr. Rogers invited the postman, Mr. McFeely, to come soak his feet in his pool.”  

In reality, he invited Officer Clemmons. Mr. McFeely is white while Officer Clemmons is African-American – not a minor point considering Mr. Rogers was trying to make a statement about integrating public pools.

My initial instinct was to hope no one else noticed and ignore it.  


You Can Do Hard Things

This is a phrase my wife has recently used several times with our children. When I first heard it, it immediately struck a chord.
 
As a child, most things seem a little hard at first – tying your shoes, getting your own breakfast, reading a book, riding a bike.
 
It is by only by doing these things ourselves, that we eventually master them and what at first seemed hard eventually becomes second nature.…


They Were Everywhere

On bookshelves, under end tables, on the dining room table, behind the sofa, and under chairs. In the hallway, kitchen, bedroom, living room and yes, the closet. They were spread to every corner of our home like the Starks to the kingdoms of Westeros.
 
Legos, Legos and more Legos. Our home had turned into a literal Lego-land. Constructed sets abounded – tree houses, ski lodges, yogurt shops, pet hospitals, ice skating rinks, pizzerias and amusement parks.…