Posts Tagged ‘parenting

12
Dec
13

Keep Calm and Nerd On

keep calm and geek onThe way I got here was so circuitous (as it is with most ‘places’ I arrive at) I won’t confuse you with it, but I found myself back reading a Tumblr post I had come across months ago by artist Joel Watson of the webcomic Hijinks Ensue.

The story Watson shares is a sweet one, about an interaction between a father and a son at this year’s San Diego Comicon.

It’s about acceptance and taking a few moments to enjoy time with the people you care about.

It struck home with me for a couple of reasons but the biggest one was the part about acceptance.

Of course, as a self-proclaimed nerd, geek or whatever the whole “acceptance” thing is important. I certainly have felt alone or different most of my life.  I’m willing to bet most of us have whether we admit it or not.

It took a long time to feel comfortable in my own skin—and I readily admit there are days I still don’t. Which is amazing because the more I work in media and the more people I meet, the more I find they hold very similar interests to my own.

So the post hits home because one of the things I really want to do with the boys is to empower them to love what they love and not worry about what others think of it.

Not long ago Alpha Tween (who recently I considered re-naming Sullen Tween because hormones) relayed a story to me about something that happened at school.

image via 4kids Entertainment

Despite being 12, Alpha is still a fan of Pokemon. I’ve never totally understood the fascination (though I am a fan of Psiduck) but hey, whatever floats your boat, right?

And he definitely has friends who still enjoy looking at and playing with the cards and video games.

He was with his friends at lunch and two of his friends were doing something with Pokemon cards. Alpha was watching, not playing but hanging out when he ended up in a conversation with two 6th graders.

The younger kids asked him if his friends were really playing Pokemon. Alpha responded, yes they were.

They then asked him if he liked Pokemon too. Alpha said he did.

The two kids then proceeded to make fun of all three kids, laughing as they walked away.

I asked him how he felt about it and he shrugged.

“What do I care what they think? I like what I like.”

I’d like to think he learned this from my wife and I. That when his younger brother was running around in pretty princess dresses and we didn’t bat an eye, he learned it’s OK to be different.

That no matter what others think, who you are is fine.

That’s going to be a fight, especially for the tween/teen years which are all about standing out by fitting in. But we’re well on our way.

I think, ultimately, this is why geek culture has become such a “thing” over the last decade. It’s about acceptance. It’s filled with people who “didn’t fit in” to what the norm was, who learned to embrace differences in others because they had their own rejected and in some cases belittled.

Sure, there is infighting because every group on earth has jackholes in it (I believe that’s a law) but by and large it’s an accepting bunch.

Everyone wants to be accepted and liked—even the people who try hard to make you think they don’t. On some level, they absolutely do.

Hopefully my wife and I can put together a pair of kids who will help them feel that way and who will always feel that way themselves.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

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05
Dec
13

Sometimes Kids Will Surprise You aka My Child Has Become Socially Conscious

My kids are a constant source of surprises.

Sometimes those surprises are terrifying but for the most part, they are cause for wonder and joy.

Over the last two months Alpha Tween has lamented to me that he isn’t “doing enough with his life.”

I have a very hard time wrapping my head around a 12 year old “not doing enough with his life” and when I’ve pushed him, it’s more that he isn’t doing enough for other people (charity work or helping his fellow man) more than he’s not experiencing life.

My wife tells me that it’s not uncommon for kids in middle school to become more motivated to change the world. I can’t speak to that—either because my memory is bad and I can’t remember worrying like this or because I was insanely shallow.

I’m fine with either, by the way.

But I’m told some kids go through this. I’ve offered suggestions in the past about how he could donate time and effort but I get the sense that everything seems too big to tackle head on right now—plus he’s in school on an extended schedule (8:20 am to 4:10 Monday-Thursday) and is constantly worried about getting other things taken care of in his free time.

So it shouldn’t surprise me—though it did—that when he wrote out a list of things he’d like for Christmas “donations to charities” was on the list.

I overheard my wife pressing him a bit as to what charities he’d want people to donate to and why—to think carefully and research where he wants money to go to so that he knows it’s being used effectively.

Right now he’s thinking about the Make-A-Wish Foundation (he was captivated by the Batkid story from a couple weeks back) and a Save the Rainforest charity.

I’m really proud of him. I’m not saying he decided “no presents for me, thanks” or anything—he still wants a Nerf gun and video games—but it’s heartening to see him care about others.

He always has—he’s an empathetic kid and we raise him in a house which is filled with discussions about all sorts of social issues.

As I see him becoming a man, things like this make he very happy with who he is going to be.

I think it’s rare and worthy of comment when a kid decides something like this is important enough to put on a Christmas list.

And given how much we’ve lost touch with what Christmas is supposed to be about—the giving and not the receiving—it’s heartening.

I don’t expect things like this.

But surprises like this are a wonderful bonus of being a dad.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

03
Dec
13

I did absolutely nothing and it was everything I thought it could be

jarvisislazyI have been sick for a little over a week now.

I began to get an inkling something might be amiss the Sunday before Thanksgiving when I sat at my desk watching the NFL slate for Week 12.

That, in and of itself, wasn’t unusual. I do that every week.

What was odd was that this time, I did it shivering under a flannel blanket with about four layers on underneath. Next to the heater.

Yeah, I was sick.

I don’t handle that well—I never do, especially in-season when I am enormously busy. Normally my body and I have an agreement—it doesn’t fall apart between August and January and I let it collapse for all of February post-Super Bowl.

Apparently we’re at war because my body pulled a Blitzkrieg on me and there I was sick.

I was buried in work Monday and Tuesday so I slept a lot of Wednesday, drank a ton of tea and muddled through Thanksgiving (which was very enjoyable). The kids left with mom and dad for the weekend, which allowed me to sleep a bit more and knock some work off early on Friday.

My wife left on Saturday to head to Pennsylvania and a niece’s birthday party. We both thought it bad form if I brought even an improving plague with me despite their assurances that it was fine.

Which left me home alone on Saturday.

Relaxing is a hard thing for me. You’d think I would be good at it, but I’m actually quite awful at relaxing. I am constantly wracked with guilt that I should be doing something. Most of the time I couldn’t tell you what that something is, though it usually becomes work and writing because even when something isn’t on a deadline the more you write the more you’re out there and the better and more diverse a writing resume you have.

There’s another column there grappling with the general American (and male) inability to shut work off, so let’s put a pin in that for another day.

Going into Saturday I made a determination: I was going to relax. I was going to make myself relax, rest, and reboot both physically and mentally.

If forcing yourself to relax seems like an oxymoron, welcome to my world. It’s warm here and we have cookies shaped like schadenfreude.

So Saturday, the wife packed up and headed to Pennsylvania.

And I did nothing—and it was everything I thought it could be.

OK, not strictly nothing. In part because I wanted to get a head start on a piece I needed to write for Tuesday and in part because I had fun things I wanted to do which would count as “something” even if they seem like “nothing.”

As parents, we don’t get much down time. For a work-from-home/stay-at-home dad or mom, it can be hard to ever really shut down because your office (and therefore your work) is always right there.

“I can just hammer out a few paragraphs” or “I’ll just do some data-entry” and the like are things home-office folk tell ourselves so that we feel less shitty for working at home during “non-office hours.”

But that’s just a cover for the fact that, because we are always at the office, we always see the pile of work on our desk and always feel like we should be working.

We lie that we’ll just do a little X and a bit of Y and then flip on the TV but that never happens and the next thing you know you’ve worked overtime for free.

So when you’re a parent—and one who works from home—you need to grab those relaxation moments when you can.

Once I wrote the one piece I felt I needed to (which made Monday a lot less painful), I stepped away from the computer and didn’t look at it again.

That took a lot of self control, let me tell you. I didn’t watch any football, didn’t break down any game tape, didn’t look at potential 2014 NFL draft prospects—all things I could have done and written off as “work, but not really.”

I did a lot of stuff, but none of it was critical.

My day consisted of:

Catching up on Supernatural.

I was about two episodes behind and had to find out what the Winchester boys were up to. Two brothers, a muscle car, 70s and 80s hair metal and monster hunting. THANKS HULU!

Watched Pacific Rim.

Some of you people told me I would enjoy it.

You people undersold it to me and for that you will forever have my anger.

Or not. Who knew I missed giant robots fighting giant monsters? My inner 12 year old was excited.

If you’ve ever played Battletech, watched Godzilla (the originals not the crap with Matthew Broderick) or have read/watched something like Macross and you haven’t seen this flick you are doing yourself a disservice as a geek.

One of my favorite popcorn movies ever.

Ate way too much crap.

Which, when you think about how sick I had been was pretty counter-intuitive but I wasn’t cooking and calzones and cherry coke are tasty sometimes.

Played The Last of Us.

Someone described The Last of Us as the best zombie movie to come out in a long time and it’s a pretty accurate description.

I’m tempted to do a review of it at some point—both from an aging gamer/geek point of view as well as a fatherhood angle—because while there are zombie plant people/infected and bandits and apocalypse things, what the story is about, at its heart, is a grieving father and a lost little girl.

I have a lot of thoughts about it (and OH THE FEELS) but I’ll save it for another time because any half-assed discussion here is just a disservice to the game.

I will say that I have played many video games where I thought “well this could be a cool movie/TV series/book.” In fact, I ingest a lot of entertainment wondering how it would look in other forms. Comics as movies, movies as shows—I think that’s how we tend to absorb our entertainment now.

I cannot think of how this game—which I can best shorthand as the greatest choose-your-own-adventure “book” ever—would be improved by another format.

I can’t wait to finish it and also am sad that I can only experience it for the first time, once.

This game had me do something I haven’t done in forever.

When my wife came home—later than expected—we chatted for a while and she went to bed. I went back to playing. I figured I would play for maybe another hour and then go to bed.

At some point my wife got up and went to get a drink of water or use the bathroom and I thought “huh, she hasn’t been in bed long.”

I checked my watch and found out it was 1:30am.

I don’t play video games often but when I do, apparently I don’t sleep.

You’d think that I would wake up tired on Sunday, having hit the sack well past my bedtime—I mean I work late on Sunday and Monday since NFL games end at midnight both of those evenings, but almost 2am is pushing it even for me.

However, at the end of the day (and the start of the next one) I felt rested and refreshed. My brain was clear and I was surprisingly stress free—not something I feel most days when I don’t do more than a small amount of work.

As parents, we don’t get much time off.

But we should make some for ourselves even a little.

We—and our kids and partners—will probably be better for it.

I believe I am scheduled for another day off on December 12th……2016.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

20
Sep
13

Two Whistles, No Waiting

image via MomsTeam.com

As you know, I’ve been coaching Pop Warner football since the beginning of August.

It’s been a rough season so far, which I’ll elaborate about at a later date, but a lot of fun.

Meanwhile, The Professor is getting ready for his soccer season and the league is short coaches.

Bravely, kindly (perhaps unwisely) my wife volunteered to be an assistant coach, making sure to mention she had only the vaguest ideas of how to play the game but could, in her words “herd the heck out of kids.”

There was no communication from whoever runs the league, so she assumed they didn’t need her after all.

She then got an email saying not only did they need her, but that they were still short head coaches and now some assistant coaches would be paired together to act as a co-coach.

She immediately knew she’d be one of the lucky assistants designated as a co-coach.

And she was.

She reached out to her partner, saying “hey I don’t know what the Hell I am doing, please help” and found out that her partner didn’t have the time to fully coach.

Getting the idea that this is going to go well?

On the upside, The Professor is thrilled she is coaching and we now have two whistles in the house.

This is possibly the greatest event in the history of our family.

No more do we need to shout across the house for the boys. We just whistle.

Didn’t clean up your room? Whistle.

Left your socks in the living room? Whistle.

Ate the last cookie? Two whistles.

In fact, mornings will get much more organized. Either of us can sneak upstairs and start blowing our whistles to wake the boys up!

And it’s all on the up-and-up. All official. Because we’re both coaches and as coaches, are duly licensed users of whistles.

There’s no stopping us.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

23
Aug
13

I’m Not Sure the Professor Was Talking About Math

ProfWords1AlgebraThere’s a large pond (almost a lake – maybe a Pake? A Lond? I don’t know, it’s a ‘Tweener’.) near us which was drained, dredged and generally beautified over the summer. They finally put the water back in about three weeks ago and it was – rather instantaneously – filled with weird muck.

We drove past the pond not long ago and the Professor noticed the muck. The result is captured in vivid Dad-Moon-O-Vision (copyright 2013) above.

I’m not sure he was talking about math, but perhaps the local geese were into algebra and the Professor was just more perceptive than Alpha Tween or I.

The “algebra” has since been cleared, maybe for some science or word problems.

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

21
Aug
13

The Professor Takes a Heel Turn

image via thecolor.com

So when you have kids, inevitably they will fight. Often, it’s the bickering-arguing kind which is harmless beyond setting your teeth on edge.

Sometimes it’s more.

Such was the case this Monday when both Alpha Tween and the Professor had friends over for the day. Mostly our boys are good playing with each other’s friends and the friends tend to be happy to allow the siblings to be involved.

At some point the four boys were outside playing tag. I heard an argument and raised voices, but didn’t move because 1) I was working and 2) these things need to work themselves out.

Nine times out of ten, it gets settled and forgotten.

This time Alpha showed up with a bloody nose.

From what we understand (and we lack the resources of actual CSI type folks) the boys were playing tag and Alpha was chasing the Professor.

Alpha dove to tag him, grabbing at his shirt as he fell. Instead of the shirt, Alpha grabbed the shorts and in seconds the Professor was without his pants.

Now I am told that everyone, including the Professor, had a good laugh. No big deal. Then the Professor picked up a stick and walked towards Alpha with it, still apparently in good spirits.

“Don’t do anything to me with that stick,” Alpha told him, I can imagine only half serious because why would he be concerned, really? His younger brother doesn’t tend to use violence.

I’m sure it took him by complete surprise when the Professor slugged him with it.

Currently, the Professor (Prisoner #432453278) has been sent to bed right after dinner. No screen time, no reading, nothing.

As I have told my wife many times, this was bound to happen and frankly, I’m shocked Alpha didn’t strike the first blow long ago. That’s often how it happens in my experience. And honestly, siblings will physically hit each other and fight. It’s going to happen again.

However, there is zero tolerance when someone uses an object in their altercation.

Or really, the violence is unacceptable in general, but the punishment for assault with a weapon is worse.

It’s so very out of character for the kid that my wife and I both went through the “what could be wrong with him/what on earth possessed him?” thought process.

Until my wife reminded me that when we first moved to New York, Alpha had a series of fights at after-care. Not scuffles, but full-blown fights. We chalked it up to the stress of moving, but he was the exact same age as Professor is right now.

Maybe there is something about that age, where they are trying out new ways of standing up for themselves and to do so physically just comes naturally to boys. Maybe he’s been angry a long time and just now lashed out. Although, he really has been a bit of an asshole in general lately.

It’s hard to wrap my head around the idea that this kid – who is a fairly gentle guy – whacked his older brother with a stick and drew blood. I don’t even want to think about what else could have happened – that Alpha could have taken the stick in the eye or something.

I’m really still not sure what to make of it. My wife is still pretty upset, especially since she’s generally anti-violence period. (I’m not pro-violence per se, but it has it’s time an place. That’s another article.)

All we can do is make sure he serves his term in punishment and stress to him how wrong and unacceptable his actions were.

And hope we can help him find a better way to express himself next time.

By the way, “heel turn” is a wrestling (I mean rasslin) term which mean the wrestler (I mean rassler) was a good guy and turns evil/and or into a ginormous douche.

Have your kids assaulted each other with illegal non-WWE approved foreign objects? How do you handle it?

Hey, are you following Dad Moon Rising on Twitter or Facebook? Why the hell not?

07
Aug
13

Attack of the Helicopter Parents: When Gymnast Mom Strikes

image via ABCGNews.com

I’ve been threatening this column for a while and I figured that with football season starting it was about time.

However, I’ve had some subjects for posts I really like show up in my brain, so I kept pushing this one back.

Then my wife came home with a peach of a story and I figured “That’s a sign.”

First, you may not know what a helicopter parent is.

Well, helicopter parents (known in entertainment circles as stage parents) are parents who hover over their kids when they do whatever it is they do. Most commonly found around kids who play or do something that could end up making them famous or money, it’s a parent who sees that Johnny can shoot a basketball or Sue can dribble a soccer ball better than any of the other kids and decides they’re going to “help them” make the most out of their skill.

image via PrincipalsPage.com – and it’s a brilliant shirt

Often it’s the parents living vicariously through their kids—they were never talented enough to make the high school wrestling team and get a full ride to college, but Harry can—but sometimes they’re just way too enthusiastic in general.

There are different flavors—from the mom who won’t let her son drop violin because “he’d be wasting his talent” to the dad who micromanages his son’s life so he can become the ultimate quarterback.

Anyone who is my age and follows football thinks of Todd Marinovich, the former USC and Oakland Raiders quarterback whose dad was working to make him a quarterback when he was a toddler.

That’s not even all that uncommon really, though the extreme side of things.

We’ll see some nuttiness in these columns but let’s start with what my wife witnessed at gymnastics last night.

The Professor is starting to play team sports, but he really likes the individual ones as well and as nimble as the monkey is, gymnastics has always been a great fit.

Tuesday night was a makeup class for him in place of one he missed when he was visiting his grandparents a few weeks back. It was a slightly lower level then he normally does (he’s intermediate level #humblebrag), but as always, he had a good time.

image via Huffingpost.com

While he was doing his thing, my wife waited in the lobby. You can watch the kids, but there isn’t much space to do it so she was sitting and hanging out while he had his class.

At some point a woman came in trailing two little girls and the three of them went to one of the glass doors to watch.

The woman began criticizing (in a loud Jersey accent which my wife described as “Snookie”) one of the girls in the class for not holding onto the balance beam.

“Oh she’s not going to do it. She has to hold on when she does that. She’s just being lazy.”

She then shooed the other two girls away, blaming them for the gymnast’s struggles because “they were distracting her.”

Then, obviously the gymnast caught her mom watching her as the women started directly talking—through the glass door and very loudly—to the girl.

“You have to hold onto the bar. You’re not holding onto the bar. You have to do it or you won’t be able to do the stunt.”

Eventually she let it go, exasperated, and sat down. My wife said she then started a loud conversation across the room with another parent discussing at length how her daughter was lazy, complained too much, wanted to do the gymnastics but won’t practice, wasn’t going to put in the effort she had to and oh no, now she’s going to complain because cheerleading is starting and she won’t want to do that either.

And then she started having a loud conversation about her daughter’s body and how she would be getting breasts soon (apparently she was about 12, though my wife said the girl was very short so she didn’t know).

You know, because that’s a conversation for public consumption.

Sidenote: I have noticed the last few years that people will say the most private, not-for-public things in public places now. I don’t need to know your daughter is hitting puberty, I don’t give a damn if you think so-and-so drinks too much or how much money you make. Keep it to yourself.

image via Huffington Post

The daughter then came out for a water break and the woman began berating her. Just telling her all the same crap she did through the glass, but now in front of everyone in the lobby.

The girl snapped back at her—”I’m trryyyiiiinnnnngg”—in a tone which my wife said she’d have never tolerated. Until she considered that the mom was dressing down her kid’s skills, attitude and desire in front of a group of strangers at a very loud volume.

They ended up in a super loud argument (something which is always embarrassing to witness) that resulted in the girl huddled up on her mom’s lap sucking down a Gatorade and in tears.

Now, I don’t know what the mom’s issue was. Maybe she’d had a bad day and this was unusual. I will say that the story has the feel of something frequent, but I don’t know.

I don’t know if she thought her daughter could be a gymnastic star or was lazy or any number of things.

But good lord lady, it’s your daughter.

If you have an issue with her effort, you talk TO her about it not rant AT her about it. And here’s a pro-tip: do it away from other people and listen to your kid. Maybe her arm hurts. Maybe she’s feeling ill. Or maybe, even though she loves it, two hours straight of gymnastics is too much for her. Perhaps a shorter class or lesson?

image via CambridgeNannyGroup.com

If your kid wants to do something, you have to be the one to see how much effort they—and you—can put into it and adjust the activity accordingly. It’s one thing to make a kid practice—we make Alpha practice his guitar—it’s another to make them practice to the point where they are exhausted and stop liking what they are doing.

It’s insane. I’m proud of my wife for not saying anything because that sort of thing is hard to witness silently.

Your kids are just that—kids. They need your help managing their time and they are not small adults. They don’t cope with things the way you might.

Just try and remember that the next time the kids aren’t quite putting as much effort into something as you think they should.

Your biggest concern should be that they are having a good time and smiling a lot.

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