Archive for the 'Kids' Category

05
Aug
14

Ladies and Gents: Your New Disney Princess

I had another post I was working on, but this came into my Facebook feed so it gets precedence because, well:

 

Can’t wait to see her in the Disney Parade of Princesses or whatever they call that gridlock several times a day on Main Street.

 

Back with more substantive things later.

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06
Jun
14

Macho Macho Man

via Nantucket-Bucket.com

So we’re wrapping up our inaugural lacrosse season here in New Jersey and while there have been some frustrations with communications, I’d say it’s gone well.

Alpha Tween has been playing excellently as a goalie—the most thankless job on the field it seems—and his coach has been very excited saying “He’s making saves on pure athleticism! Wait until he has technique!”

Which is a nice compliment, although it made me chuckle. It’s like saying “hey you’re really good with no idea what you’re doing!” It happens to be true as well, but it’s funny.

The Professor has been enjoying himself as well, and I’ve really seen a lot of hard work from him to improve.

Last night was the last official games for both and in the cases of both games, it got a bit physical and chippy towards the end. People likely don’t realize it, but lacrosse can be a tough, violent game at any level. And the more tired people get, the more frustrated and the more they use their sticks to hit and not control the ball.

At one point late during The Professor’s game, one of the kids got hurt—I can’t quite recall the circumstance—and was laying on the grass as coaches tended to him and made sure he was OK.

My wife—football mom that she is—yelled for the kids to “take a knee” as that’s what we do in Pop Warner when someone is hurt. You kneel down out of respect for the guy hurt and you clap when he gets up. This has been taught to Alpha since he started in football back in New York, and when my wife coached soccer last fall, she drilled it into the kids on her team as well.

It’s just good manners. I’ve never given it a second thought—all the other teams in our Pop Warner league do it and as a coach, I just figured everyone else did it.

Apparently not.

What I didn’t hear, but my wife did, was the gentleman to our left who muttered, “Why is it always a woman who shouts that?”

image via USAFootball.com

Now, maybe he was wondering “why don’t more men do that?” or maybe he was wondering “why women are so soft?”—I can’t say. When my wife relayed it later it definitely sounded as if she felt it was the latter.

I had echoed her shouts the first time, so it seems like an odd comment.

When the next kid went down a quarter or so later, she didn’t say anything.

I noticed no kid knelt down and no parent or coach said anything to motivate that.

I didn’t say anything, though I almost did—but it’s hard to be the lone voice. My wife didn’t say anything, which I found odd at the time, but now makes sense.

She didn’t want to be “that woman.”

I’m saddened for a couple of reasons. That she felt she couldn’t show compassion for a kid who was hurt (on our own team the

second time). That she felt like her consideration was marginalized because of her gender. That clearly the whole “kneeling down thing” isn’t widespread among all teams and sports in our town. That some guy (who for other reasons struck me as nobody I want to have a beer with anyway) felt the need to comment on how “it’s always a woman.”

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, comforting a hurt kid is a human thing, not a woman’s thing. If you’re a dad and you think otherwise, I’m going to go ahead and suggest you rethink what being a dad means.

That doesn’t mean you coddle or throw your child in a bubble. It means you show compassion. Yeah, yeah, men aren’t supposed to do that, I get it, but you and I both know that’s crap. It’s one thing to roll your eyes when you or someone’s kid is whining for a new toy, it’s quite another when someone is hurt.

image via PrincipalsPage.com

This also gets into the whole macho aspect of sports. This is where I used to type “machismo of football” but it’s all sports, especially on boy’s/men’s sports. All athletes are taught to play through pain—it’s part of the game and there is something to be said for learning to fight through it. To fight through adversity and determine whether what you are facing (be it a sprained ankle or difficult math assignment or being overlooked at work for a promotion) and how serious it is.

And more importantly whether it should stop you, and how to keep it from doing so.

But one thing the organization I coach football for is big on is teaching the difference between being hurt and being injured—and being OK with admitting when you’re injured and can’t go on.

I hate when parents—and this goes for both genders, because I’ve seen it from men and women—tell boys to “be a man.” I mean, listen, there are times to tell your kids “oh grow up” and times to point out that what they have is a bruise not a broken leg and shouldn’t stop them from doing what they’re doing.  But when a kid is laying on the turf, not moving—and maybe I’m nuts—that’s probably not the time.

It irks me when parents comment like this dad did. It irks me that he saw good sportsmanship as a “woman’s thing” instead of good sportsmanship. It angers me that my wife felt like she couldn’t encourage that sportsmanship because she was being judged. And it frustrates me that I didn’t pick up on it and I was just as silent.

The idea that we shouldn’t be compassionate on the field or concerned when a player on any team gets hurt and is down on the field is garbage and I don’t care what gender you are. We’re supposed to be teaching sportsmanship as much as anything else and clearly, that’s not on everyone’s agenda.

image via PackersHistory.net

And here’s the thing—compassion for an injured player isn’t a woman’s thing. It’s a human thing. You want your son to “be a man?” You teach him that even when it’s your opponent on the ground, you treat it as if he’s on your team, you treat him with respect and you hope he gets up. You kneel, or stand silent or whatever it is your team does and you clap when he gets up. You play with passion and aggression, but fairness as well.

These things are not mutually exclusive. I cover the NFL and while some of these guys truly don’t like each other, the majority of the players in the NFL are friendly with each other even right after a game. And what do you see them do when someone is badly hurt?

They kneel. They pray. They worry about someone on the other team as well as on their own.

That’s being a man in my book.

14
May
14

I am NOT ready for a Solo Professor

image via thetoddanderinfavoritefive.com

So this week, the Professor started biking to school in the morning.

Alone.

I’m not ready for this.

My wonderful wife will point out that you need to let go some time—and she’s right—but I wasn’t quite ready to do this yet.

When Alpha Tween was Prof’s age, he was walking to the Boys and Girls Club for aftercare in New York City  (Yes, Queens is New York City) and I was definitely nervous. But both my wife and I were working and couldn’t pick him up so it was a necessity.

He had a cell phone and was to call or text when he left school and when he arrived at the after-school program and he kind of remembered to do it, sometimes, maybe.

We got used to it though, and we saw a tremendous change in confidence and independence which, in the long run, I think will be invaluable for him as he goes through life.

So it’s a good thing that The Professor is doing this. I think that soon we’ll let him bike home on his own as well.

But it’s so hard to let him go. I love our town and I feel like he (and Alpha) are as safe roaming the streets here as anywhere else—maybe more. But all I see right now are bad drivers and all I do is worry about my kid as he bikes to school. Every morning I spend time worrying that I’ll get a phone call or something and that he’s been hurt or worse.

The thing is, he’s so proud and happy right now. He feels independence in a way that he never has before and he feels “grown up” and responsible. And all that is so important, so vital to his confidence and makes him so damned happy.

So I’m trying to get over myself and mentally prepare for the next step—getting him keys and a phone and anxiously waiting for him to come home.

I’m not ready for it—but I’d better get ready and soon.

 

06
May
14

The Epitome of Team

image via wikipedia

This Spring the boys have begun to play lacrosse. When we lived in California, this wasn’t a sport anyone knew much about and when we lived in Astoria, NY, we never came across anyone playing—though had we wanted to look perhaps we might have found a team.

For those of you unfamiliar with lacrosse, it’s a sport whose growth is on the rise—one of few in youth sports according to the Wall Street Journal.

It’s been an interesting process. The Professor and Alpha Tween are both first timers, and both have enjoyed it, though AT has had a rougher time adjusting. While he’s a solid athlete, he’s not the type of kid who instantly grabs all the nuances of a new sport and given he’s going through regular growth spurts, his hand-eye coordination is sometimes not so coordinated.

Still he’s doing well. His team is split into two squads—“A” and “B”—depending on overall ability. Most of the first time players (and there are a bunch) are on the “B” team though there is some cross-pollination between the two squads. I find that brilliant because the newer kids get a much more thorough and hands on learning experience. If it was all one mass of kids, the better kids would get more of the practice time and coach’s attention. This way, the kids who need basic instruction get it, while the kids learning the finer points and nuances get that.

Recently, the coaches asked if any of the kids wanted to move to goalie. The team, as a whole, only has one goaltender but as incredible as he is—and he’s phenomenal—it’s a rough gig to do for two squads, especially when one isn’t very good defensively yet because they’re just learning to play.

So they needed a second goalie, partly because the “B” team should have their own guy, partly because our main goalie needs some breaks and partly because we need a backup in case—God forbid—our main goalie got hurt.

Enter Alpha Tween. He had been playing “attack” which is a forward position but since the team wasn’t very good, much of his time was spent standing around. He’s played goaltender in soccer, so he has the basics down. And since he wasn’t doing anything on offense, he figured—not wrongly—that he was guaranteed action while in goal.

Goaltending in lacrosse can be a thankless, tough job. Shots can come from anywhere, you wear less equipment than other players, so you have more exposed skin for bruising and it’s a very small ball.

Alpha Tween got thrown into a game a couple of weeks ago and did very well. His teammates all congratulated him and jumped on him in celebration, as you’d expect.

It was a nice moment—but not as nice as last night’s.

Last night, AT was merely a backup. He wasn’t expected to see any time in the game, even though there was a mix-up and the other team didn’t bring all their “A” guys.

However in the fourth quarter, he replaced the main goalie. Unfortunately for him, the “A” team defense was pulled as well. So the other team—which had seen very few scoring opportunities before the fourth—got to take some great shots on my boy.

He let in three goals and was clearly frustrated by the end.

And then something happened which just reinforced my perception that we made the right decision in moving the family here. We’ve been terribly lucky (for the most part) since coming to the East coast, in that pretty much all the sports teams we’ve been involved in have been filled with awesome people.

Gymnastics aside, we’ve been super-happy with it.

So after AT got shelled, letting in three goals and allowing the opposition to close the gap, I wasn’t sure what the reaction from

via Boston.com

his team would be. They’ve loved him, but the reaction to a poor performance versus a good one can be very different.

The first team offense ran onto the field and jumped on AT in celebration.

I was so pleased to see that. I know that, at his age, Alpha needs confidence boosts. I know he was frustrated—maybe even angry—with his performance. And I know he was still annoyed, but instead of being sullen (which we’re used to these days), he was happy.

Don’t get me wrong—it’s not like he was all “HEY I LET IN THREE GOALS WHEEEEE” or anything.

But instead of dragging his feet and being pissed off, he was smiling, talking about what he needed to do better and being confident that he could.

Being a team means a lot of things, but what gets lost more often than not is the reality that being a true team is about more than just being in the same space with people, wearing the same jersey colors or playing next to each other.

It’s about supporting each other even when things aren’t great. It’s about picking up someone when they are a little down because they didn’t do as well as they wanted to.

And yeah the team won, so it’s easier to be supportive. Still, it wouldn’t have been a shock if nobody did anything. If they just celebrated the win and didn’t reach out to AT. It’s not like you’d think twice about it.

But they went out of their way to celebrate his efforts.

That’s the sort of thing which really is what being on a team about.

04
Apr
14

Why have one dog when you can have two?

So I had another piece ready to run today, but then we acquired a new family member.

Meet Theoden Hoover, Lord of the Westside.

AKA “Teddy Westside” to his close friends.

And there is so much nerd in that name it’s stunning.

Teddy Westside is currently settling down after somewhat long night where he woke up at 3am and decided things were really freaking strange now and he decided to rectify that by playing. So we ended up crating him and finally got back to sleep.

Why, you ask was Lord Westside not crated to begin with?

Well, because he was, but then he started crying and I am an enormous sucker for whining dogs. So I laid down on our futon in the office with him next to me and then, well, 3am came pretty quickly.

Dog: 007, licensed to poop

Dog: 007, licensed to poop

Until now I’ve referred to our first dog as Dog on this site. But now we have two dogs and it seems like a pain to refer to Dog and Other Dog. So I’m calling them by their proper names—you’ve met Teddy now, and you will remember our original Dog aka Lady Minerva Higgenbothen aka Minnie to everyone but my wife.

What about these names, right? Well, we were watching too much Downton Abbey when we got Minnie and while the boys and I had great ideas for name, we were overruled.  But we’ve come to love her very unusual name in part because she is 100% not a lady in any way.

Hence the mask and super-hero look in the picture above.

Teddy was named Teddy already. He is a rescue dog who had been surrendered a few months ago. From what we are told, Teddy was kept in a small apartment and (probably) never let outside. He has spent the last couple of months with Aime, his very awesome foster owner learning what outside was and catching up on doggie things like leashes and Kong toys.

Meeting Teddy was love at first sight, and he was great with both Minnie and the kids. So by the time we left the foster apartment, Teddy was already part of the family.

But one we felt needed a last name—and indeed a fancier name because Teddy had to be short for something, right?

We tried on a few things, somewhat inspired by Jenny Lawson, the one and only Bloggess (who you should be reading if you already don’t) who has named her cats things like Hunter S. Thomcat and Ferris Mewler. However we couldn’t come up with a good dog-related play on words involving Teddy or Theodore or Edward, se we just went a whole different direction—full speed, nerd ahead as it were.

It’s Theoden for this fellow:

image via wikipedia

Hoover because he vacuums anything up at any time and eats it.

And Lord of the Westside because Theoden was Lord of the Westfold and also because of this guy here:

image via – wait for it – glamour.com

If Teddy had been a cat, Ted Mewsby would have totally worked. And we’re not getting into the final episode of How I Met Your Mother because 1) we haven’t watched most of the season and 2) it seems to have sucked by a magnitude of eleventy-billion.

Anyway kids, that’s the story of How I Met Your Dog Teddy.

Currently Minnie and Teddy Westside are sleeping but have been battling it out to see who is in charge. Turns out Minnis is a real bitch.

I mean, she was anyway in the literal sense but she’s being a real asshole to Teddy now so it works both ways.

That’ll change though and we are super-excited to have Teddy with us in the Dad Moon Rising household.

01
Apr
14

The Professor Thinks He’s Funny

art by Alpha Tween who, I am shocked, knows who Mr T is.

art by Alpha Tween who, I am shocked, knows who Mr T is.

So by and large, I ignore April Fools Day and it ignores me. My family isn’t big on practical jokes because we’re goofy 24/7/365.

We don’t need a special day to celebrate it, you know?

This morning I went downstairs to wake the kids up, as I normally do. Lately, I have been finding The Professor under his comforter on the floor, because he’s apparently too good for beds. Seriously, this kid might as well use his bed for kindling, for all the use he’s getting out of it right now. So I was by no means surprised to find him under a lump of covers and a comforter on the floor again this morning.

Keep in mind, my eyes started at the bed, saw just two pillows laying against the wall (he props himself up to sleep) and then saw the comforter. It’s not like I didn’t look at the bed.

So I reached down and started to pull back the covers when—BLAMMO—the pillows on the bed burst apart, and a small child flew out of nowhere yelling APRIL FOOLS.

It turns out he woke up early (without an alarm clock, which is amazing all by itself), decided on multiple places he could hide, finally settled on one and got set up. He then waited for me to come downstairs and sprung his trap. My wife is probably pretty lucky she wasn’t the one who woke him up—she’d have had a heart attack.

I’ll give the kid credit—it was a good prank. Jokes on him though, because I know he can get his ass up and out of bed with no help from me.

 

29
Jan
14

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Alpha Tween?

So it’s been a while, yeah? Last week was a travel week for work, so as happens around here, we lapsed into silence. I’m almost over jet lag, so hopefully I’ll have my act in gear sometime soon. I always want to post more, I just never seem to get around to it.

This week hasn’t started off that well around Casa De Dad Moon Rising. Well, I take that back. I’m happy to be home amongst my loving family (who are super awesome for letting me do things like travel to Alabama for a college All Star game and then jet to Vegas for a ‘retreat’ with another company) and everyone is healthy and glad I am back.

However, for Alpha Tween, this week is not going well. He’s 12 and apparently being 12 his brain has ceased functioning on a regular basis. He’s losing things at school, stuff he swears he recalls putting into his folders or backpack or somewhere else, but never ends up home.

And it’s starting to be important stuff, like his schedule of electives for next semester. If he doesn’t get that in (and it may already be too late) he’ll get whatever classes they give him, not the ones he wants. He’s also lost his day planner (which begs the question, is he even using it?) and two hats.

He’s really upset. I mean, my wife and I are upset, frustrated and angry because there has been tremendous time and effort spent (mostly by my lovely wife) giving this kid tools which should help him stay organized. But he’s really, really broken right now.

Alpha is, of course, in trouble for all this because it’s been a constant problem and all the support we’ve been giving him isn’t helping. Plus, he constantly looks us in the eye and tells us “A” when the answer is “B” or worse, we tell him to do something and he nods and “yups” us about it, then totally doesn’t do what he’s supposed to.

The thing is, I get that a 12 year old’s brain isn’t fully developed and doesn’t work at close to 100%. I get it and, frankly, I’m not sure MY brain works at 100% most days. Maybe not even 50%.

But there comes a point where excusing it or explaining it away doesn’t help. He needs to face consequences and maybe we have been bailing him out too much.

The problem for me is, I don’t know how to solve this. I have no idea how to help him, partly because my own memory is occasionally poor for certain things and partly because I just don’t know what is wrong.

And he’d really, really upset. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him as down as he was this morning. He’s frustrated, angry and pretty depressed. He isn’t happy with himself but doesn’t understand why things are happening the way they are and seems to feel he is powerless to fix this.

I’m not sure what we can do to help him. We’ve given him tons of tools, he just isn’t utilizing them.

Maybe letting him fail at a few things as a consequence is the way to get him to learn. We all need to learn how to overcome obstacles and failure. Maybe by screwing up he can learn to motivate himself to improve.

Maybe it’s time for him to fail a little.

It’s sure as hell not easy to watch though.

 




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Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages