Posts Tagged ‘parenting

19
Nov
18

I’m not ready for this – Part 1

Bas Senior Day

Senior Day with Sebastian, Melina and me.

So it begins.

Or rather, so it begins to end.

This past weekend — Saturday November 17, to be exact — marked the end of my eldest son’s football season and, unless something really crazy happens (hey the University of Southern California football team could need a scholarship athlete to pull up their GPA!), the end of his football career.

And with that it hit me that Sebastian, my first-born child, is really wrapping things up a and hurtling towards graduation, college and full on adulthood.

I’m not ready for this.

I mean, who is?

I guess some of you are, but if the experiences of friends are anything to judge by, it’s a very few.

Complicating this is football, something which has been a massive part of this family’s life for a decade. Our younger son, Simon, isn’t a football dude. He may be in the Marching Band when he heads to high school next year, so we may still be at occasional games.

And I’ll be there almost every Saturday, covering the game for the town paper as long as it’s around.

But neither of those things are the same experience as actively having a stake in what’s happening and a connection to the team as exists when you have a kid on it.

It doesn’t help that the game ended badly for Bas’ team, as they lost in the State Sectional final, on their home field. It also doesn’t help that for the fourth year in a row he was hurt, which probably cost him a starting job, so he didn’t play quite as much at the end of the season as he may have wanted.

It doesn’t help that football was a place he and I have connected for a long time. Less so as he has moved to high school and become interested in other things, I stopped coaching and we both had other things to occupy our time.

So it’s bittersweet to see the end of football.

Mind you, there is a small, guilty bit of me that is a little relieved. I can’t tell you how hard it was to divest myself of emotion for the team – a team with a significant number of kids I coached plus my son on it – during the seasons. I would imagine my editor probably could tell you stories where he rolled his eyes.

It’s easier to manage that when I don’t have a son there. I still know the kids and have a connection but it’s easier to shove that aside when it’s not your kid.

What makes it seem a little better are the things I saw from my son as the season progressed. He became more confident and invested. He also cared a great deal about his teammates.

He would defend the quarterback when we talked about that kid’s struggles.  He felt sympathy when two of his team were lost for the season right before the playoffs. Bas was supportive of players who earned spots over him, no matter how much he might have wished to have won the job himself.

And while he was hurting because he had just lost his final game ever, he was expressing concern for the future of the team, and hoping the two offensive linemen who won’t be graduating this spring would have a good last season when they were seniors themselves next year.

Football seemed to bring out some of the best in him. He was never one for the limelight – each week a senior is asked to lead the team onto the field with the Mountie flag, and Bas said he declined it when asked if he wanted to do it – but he was always the kid who had his teammate’s back.

Last season, when the Mounties won the State Championship – undefeated, I might add – Sebastian’s role was pretty limited. Some of that was due to injury, some of that was due to the team being ridiculously talented and deep.

So when the game was over and Montclair was celebrating, he admitted to me it was a bit bittersweet – he felt like he didn’t do a ton to help, and wished he had had a chance.

I tried to point out to him that what he did each week as a member of the scout team — a group of guys who run the plays the coaches think the next opponent will use — and when he got on the field to give another player a breather, was very important.

Every day at practice, the coaches knew they could rely on Bas to make sure he gave his all, did what he was supposed to and help the starters get prepared for the upcoming game. If the scout team isn’t focused and working as hard as they can, the starters won’t be as prepared.

It’s kind of an important lesson to learn, one I hope he will take as he moves through life. You don’t always get the limelight, and you don’t always get the accolades. That doesn’t make your role or value less.

Most of the time, the people around you notice. I think his coaches and fellow teammates did, and I think  his future coworkers and friends will as well.

A chapter in our lives is ending, one of many as we move towards his high school graduation. It only just hit me as we all sat eating dinner Saturday night, that we are at the beginning of the end of Sebastian as a kid.

And at the end of the beginning of the rest of his life.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m not sure if I will for a long time.

I know I’ll revisit this feeling, whatever it is, a lot this year, hence the “Part 1.” At some point, maybe we’ll reach the end of it.

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?

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.

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

01
Aug
13

Questions to Consider Before Letting Your Child Play Youth Football (part 2)

So this is the second part of the earlier post on what to consider when thinking about letting your kids play youth football. You can find the first part here.

I say kids because, while not common, it’s not unheard of for girls to play—especially among the younger groups.

Mind you, there are probably a whole host of questions I haven’t covered for the parents of girls which haven’t occurred to me because, well, I don’t have them.

Girls, I mean, not questions. I have plenty of questions.

Back to the point though, in this segment we’ll talk a little more about supporting your kid without being “that parent,” choosing the right team, and checking your (and the kid’s) expectations. Among other things of course.

So there you guy—again ask questions in the comments or on twitter if you’d like. I’m happy to help.

——————————————————-

How do I Support Without Becoming the Next Craig James/Marv Marinovich?

image via theridgewoodblog.net

Ah, helicopter dads.

One day, when I have millions of hours of free time (which is to say, never), I will start a blog called HelicopterParents.com (sidenote from 8/1/13 – It’s going to be a recurring post here at DMR) and fill it with all the horrible and ridiculous things I have seen parents do in many, many different sports.

How can you be supportive without crossing the line? Sure, invoking James and Marinovich is pure hyperbole, but I’ve seen parents do some pretty stupid things.

It can be a fine line between cheering your child on and pushing them too hard, harassing their coach for more playing time, and shouting plays to the kids on the field.

I once saw a dad pull his kid out of a basketball huddle at halftime to coach him up, while the coach was talking. That’s not even the worst of it, but I can’t repeat the rest without dropping language we here at Bleacher Report try to avoid. (sidenote: We here at Dad Moon Rising DO encourage such language so you’ll hear that tale soon in full glory)

There are a few ways to avoid this.

First, make sure your child is your guide. Learn your kid’s limits and respect them. I’m not saying you can’t push them to do better, I’m saying don’t be the parent haranguing their kid when they are in tears and begging to stop playing.

I’m saying be the parent who focuses on the positive, not the negative. You can point out where he or she can play better. Just don’t make that the only thing you point out.

I am in constant dialogue with my son. He’s expressed an interest in playing college ball, and that’s great (he’s 10, next week he could want to be Eddie Van Halen). He’s asked for my help, but I make sure he knows that he is in control, not me. If he tells me “Dad, enough,” then I back off.

That hasn’t happened yet, but that’s not the point. He needs to know if it does happen, I will listen.

Second, let the coaches coach.

image via youthsportsny.org

Both last season’s coach and my son’s new coach have welcomed parent involvement overall, but also have been clear that, on the field, our kids are now their kids. The coaches are in charge.

You want to work on catching the ball, tackling, running routes with your kid? Great. Do it outside practice or game. Sure, you can sneak little tips in during a water break—my son always checks in and asks if he did this or that right. But you can’t do it when the coach is coaching.

Maybe you think I’m being ridiculous, but I see it all the time.

Here’s another thing about letting the coaches coach—be careful not to contradict what they are doing. If I’m going over something with my son and he tells me they do it differently, then I learn how they do it and that’s what we practice.

Finally, control yourself. Again, you think it’s simple but something happens to a great many parents—moms as well as dads—when a game starts. They start out cheering and the next thing you know they sound like that obnoxious fan two rows behind you at an NFL game, screaming at the refs, the coaches, the kids and other parents.

The Incredible Hulk looks at these parents and says “Dude, seriously?”

image via ndcdfw.com

Look, I get it because we all get lost in the heat of the moment when the game is close and the ref blows a call/a kid fumbles the ball/the coach calls a bad play.

You feel your temper rising? Walk away, cool off, breathe. Come back and cheer.

Because that’s all your kids want to hear. They want you to cheer. They don’t need you screaming about a missed tackle. They’ll probably beat themselves up without your help.

If you need to be more involved, get more involved by coaching or becoming a team parent.

What Sort of Conditioning is Suitable for Still-Developing Bodies to Help Prepare Them for the Rigors of Even a Youth Football Season?

This is, to me, a dicey issue because it’s really easy to screw it up. Many parents will assume that getting your kid in shape is much like getting yourself in shape. However, their bodies—even teenagers—respond to certain exercises much differently than adults.

Dr. Bramel cautions parents to ease into it. “Grade-school age kids and teenagers can be prone to overuse injuries if they do too much, too quickly.”

In my experience, coaches suggest keeping it real simple. Stretching exercises, sit-ups, push-ups and jogging to build endurance.

image via the Maine Morning Sentinel

Coach Serrette feels the same way about not going overboard. “You see people buy tons of equipment but most of those people cannot move their own body weight.”

“I am a big fan of body weight exercises,” he says. “You will see me do planks, burpees, mountain climbers with the players.”

Core exercises are key as well, something that I learned watching players train under Travelle Gaines several years ago in California.

“It is the key to overall fitness,” agrees Coach Serrette, “That is what the entire core craze is about. People spend all this time working body parts but you need to do more things that work your entire body.”

Again, I remind parents to keep an eye on their child’s limitations.

Keep in mind that your child will be working out multiple times a week with their team. So once the season starts, I make sure my son cuts back to an easy routine of sit-ups and push-ups a few times a week and I make sure he listens to his body.

If he’s too sore, he skips.

With football, the mentality is to play through pain, but for a child that can be dangerous. If it hurts, you have to give it attention (this goes for conditioning as well as in-season injuries).

“Pain is the body telling you to pay attention to the area of the body that hurts,” Bramel reminds us. “If simple things like rest, ice, stretching and/or a short course of anti-inflammatories don’t alleviate the symptoms, talk to the trainer or see a doctor before returning to play and risking further injury.”

Bramel also suggests that before you start any regimen, you speak with your child’s doctor for advice. I would add that you should talk to their coaches as well. Remember, these are resources and they will have practical experience that can help you avoid mistakes.

Check Your Expectations

You are about to spend an awful lot of time as your child plays football. If they fall in love with it, you could be doing this for years on end. So it’s natural to wonder where it’s all leading.

Can my child play in high school? If they’re good enough, could college ball be a possibility? Will they play in junior college? Division II? FCS? Maybe even FBS?

What about the pros?

As I have said several times in this piece, it may seem crazy to you, but I see parents (and kids) get carried away all the time.

One thing Coach Serrette does is send his parents a little reality check in the form of a link to an NCAA study which lists the percentages of high school athletes in several sports who make it to the collegiate and pro levels.

A table from an NCAA study tracking kids who go from high school to Pro Level (image via NCAA.org)

A table from an NCAA study tracking kids who go from high school to Pro Level (image via NCAA.org)

I was surprised to get this but realized that for many parents, there isn’t always a guidepost on where this could all lead. What is pretty common knowledge given my line of work is not always obvious to other parents.

Coach Serrette doesn’t do this to discourage parents or kids, but to give them a realistic idea of what they face.

“I always tell my players the same thing. Do not shoot for the pros, shoot for college.”

Using football to get an education is certainly attainable for many players according to Coach Serrette.

“There as tons of colleges that will give you money to play for them in the FCS or D-III and I have had more of my players that have gone to smaller schools and received a free education than I have had gone to the FCS schools. I think the goal should always be to play to get that money for college because THAT is truly doable.”

Like everything else, it’s important to go into this with both your and your child’s eyes wide open. Not every child becomes the next Drew Brees, or even Danny Amendola. Many children can use football to help further their education.

What is the Right Team/League for My Child?

This is a critical question, maybe the most critical because it combines a lot of what we’ve already talked about.

via bendbulletin.com

If you’re like me, you may not be spoiled for choice. We didn’t have many teams within a reasonable distance from where we live in Queens. We lucked into what I feel is a great organization in the Queens Falcons. (sidenote and update: Now living in New Jersey we once again have hit a fantastic organization in the Montclair Bulldogs. Seriously, we’re 2-2 which is a blessing.)

If you have a choice—and hopefully you do—you need to research those choices as thoroughly as possible. Search for the organization’s website (most have them now). Call and talk to the president of the group. Talk to the coaches your child will play under. Attend a practice or two.

Many teams will allow a child to try out for a practice or two to see if they want to really play. I assure you that a lot of kids will know the moment they get hit whether this is the sport for them.

Even though we were really looking at just one team, I did all the above. I read everything on the website. I emailed the Falcons’ president. I talked to the coaches. We went to check out the practice.

Think hard about what you’re looking for in a team, how much practice you feel comfortable with, the personality of the coaches, the personality of the kids—heck, the personality of the other parents.

Other parents, by the way, are an excellent resource. While your child is talking to his potential teammates and watching drills, chat with the other parents. More often than not, they are very friendly and happy to tell you what the score is with the team you are looking at.

via gawker.com

Even if you do all of the above, you could very well decide to sign up and, midway through the season, decide that this isn’t the league for you and your child.

That’s fine. You can always continue the search the next offseason, now armed with an even better idea of what you’re looking for.

Even if your child plays a minuscule amount of time, the key is that any team they join is a place where your child can enjoy themselves.

“I try my best, although it is not easy, to make everyone feel a part of the team,” says Coach Serrette. “It does not matter if you play 40 minutes or two, you are a part of the family. You will see that as they get older no one remembers many grand stories of their accomplishments, but they can relive many laughs and jokes from practice.”

What’s the Upside Here? What Is My Child Going to Get out of Playing Youth Football?

Aside from the obvious physical benefits of conditioning and physical activity in a world which sees a greater and greater percentage of childhood obesity, as well as far more interest in playing video games than being outside, youth football has a greater benefit.

Let me illustrate with another anecdote about my son.

image via NY Times

My kid plays a lot of different sports because he’s a natural athlete and he just loves to play. In fact, as much as he loves football, he’s played basketball since he was six or seven.

He’s normally a very quiet guy on the court. He’s an OK player who tends to let others take the lead on the court and is rarely vocal (unless, as kids are wont to do, he’s complaining about a non-call). He’s had the same coach for three years now and that coach has been begging him to step up and be more of a leader. It didn’t happen the first two years, which is fine. We figured, it’s not his thing.

Just over a week ago, he stepped onto the court for his first game of the season and I have to tell you, he was a totally different player. He played more confidently, took more shots, played more physically, and was far more vocal than I have ever seen him playing any sport prior to football.

Confidence. That’s what it was. The first thing his basketball coach said to me after the game was, “That’s football for you.”

If your child plays, chances are you will see a huge difference in their self-esteem and confidence. The change in my son, while also a part of growing up, comes in large part to the confidence he gained playing youth football.

The environment, the intensity, the pure joy of achievement after all the practices, sweat, bruises and hard hits—at the other end of it, knowing that you took everything someone could throw at you and walk away—that’s a big deal.

image via popville.com

Your child will also learn what it’s like to be on a team—a true team where you know that the guys around you  deserve your best effort, because that’s what they give you.

Coach Serrette believes it’s an important part of a boy’s development. “The biggest benefit of youth football is the teaching of responsibility…it’s about the first true introduction into what it means to be a man in society.”

Like football, being a man, Coach Serrette says, isn’t always easy but has its rewards.

“At the end of the day the score means little, but the team, the family, trumps the needs of you as an individual. Understanding that prepares you for fatherhood.”

The coach knows he’s getting a little deep for his charges, but thinks the lessons will linger anyway. “I know an 11-year-old may not see it that way, but it’s the truth and it is a collective lesson of maturity and responsibility, that they will carry throughout the rest of their life—if they get it and what we are selling.”

There are many other benefits you get from a team sport—working towards a common goal, dealing with success and failure.

However, the rigors of youth football can prepare a child for much more. I truly believe, in the right situation, it can build a child up with such confidence, they will believe anything is possible.

And that confidence will serve them well, regardless of what they do long after football is done.

It’s clear that I think highly of the benefits of youth football. I’ve seen the positives with my own eyes and believe it is a great way to build character, confidence and conditioning.

It’s also not for every kid or every parent. More than anything else, you have to make sure that the choice is the right one for your family and your child.

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

image via radioboston.wbur.org

26
Jul
13

Sometimes Social Media is for Something Other Than Bitching Loudly

I tend to see a lot of frustration on social media these days—trial verdicts and steroids in sports and random, bad things happening. Social Media—chiefly Twitter and Facebook of course—is the place where you go to yell.

Loudly.

And for long stretches of time.

image via Forbes.com

Why not? A lot of the time it’s an echo chamber—the people you follow and who follow you often believe (and get cheesed off by) the same stuff. It can be a little different for me at times because I’m in sports media, so that particular feed doesn’t get as much politics and whatnot in it because nobody is paying me to spout off about that stuff.

I will admit I do nerd it up on there at times though and others pay the price.

Still, my Facebook page has been filled with various bits of outrage for the last few weeks and I’ll be honest—it was getting to the point that I really couldn’t take it anymore. I mean, I get it, I’m outraged about a lot as well, but man it gets to be hard when every post is filled with anger and—often—vitriol.

On either end of the political spectrum by the way. Thanks media—you’ve taught us that screaming opinions and not listening is the way to go!

Yesterday though, the very first thing I saw on social media—Facebook to be exact—was a picture of an old college friend standing with his newborn baby boy. The kid was already smiling, which makes sense because his dad is awesome.

Social media is for a lot of different things. Sometimes we forget it can be a reminder life isn’t all anger and frustration.

So next time you’re looking at Facebook or Twitter and getting frustrated, do a search of your friends and followers. Look for the pictures they post and the updates they have which share their joy rather than their frustration.

And then go ahead and post some of your own. Go take a stupid picture of the cat. Find something dumb but adorable your kid says. Take a picture of a pint of beer and label it “IT’S DRINK O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE!”

If you can’t find the fun and joy in your feed, make the fun and joy in your feed.

And in that vein, here is an awesome picture of a T-Rex with tiny arms who is overcoming his adversity.

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

via dumpaday.com




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