Why we let our kids win.

I wrote this months ago when I just started on wordpress.  Since nobody read it, and I have writer’s block today, I decided to bring it back!  Enjoy.

Parents will often find themselves in contests with their children.  Today was no exception.  My daughter Kat and I put on these silly plastic discs with Velcro padding and threw a tennis ball back and forth–the object being you catch the ball with the plastic disc, w/Velcro padding.  Ok….so the stage was set for some sort of competition.  Kat, age 6, threw the ball to me and I caught it.  Grandma said, one point for daddy.  I threw the ball to Kat, she caught it…you get the idea.  The “game” turned into a contest to see who could catch the most balls.  The Mayans would be proud.

We played to ten.  The score was Daddy 8, Kat 3, before I realized I needed to suddenly become completely inept at catching things.  Why?  Because kids need to win.  I know, I know, life is a bitch and kids need to learn we can’t always come out ahead.  I don’t care.  In a situation like this, you need to let your kid win.  They need to feel victorious and they need to feel the satisfaction of beating the person who can ground them if they talk back.  More than that, they need feel like they can have something to build on.  “Maybe I CAN throw and catch better than my dad.  The next time I’ll kick his ass even more.”

The final score–Kat 10, Daddy 9.  When the final catch was made, my daughter jumped up and down like she had just won the Stanley Cup.  It was a memory I will never forget.  Kids love little victories because they aren’t little–they are huge.  Parents need to remember that.  Kids need victories to know they are capable.  Just like Santa Claus is engrained in our minds and passed down from generation to generation, “throwing” games like I did today is a ritual every parent is faced with.  And I say, “God bless the ritual.”

I will trade a loss to my child for anything in the world, because I got to see the look on her face when she realized she beat her dad.  The next time we “lace up the skates”, she will be that much stronger and confident.  For those of us lucky enough to have kids, it doesn’t get any better than that.

Let your kids win when the opportunity is appropriate.  It’s a time-honored tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation.  And it’s a good thing.

Eating chips for breakfast is another story….that is one contest Daddy will always win.  And that’s good too.

Be well.


A $6.00 lesson.

My daughter and I have a bi-weekly tradition of skating which is quickly providing me with an enormous amount of aches and pains.  I overlook them, because…well…I am getting a chance to skate with my kid and you can’t replace memories like that.  Still, I hurt.  Today, I took a tumble for the ages, landing on my wrist and elbow.  I’m not going to get into details or even complain but let’s just say, it hurts to type.  I simply must blog though.  I am devoted, if anything. 

When you are 21 and fall to the ice, you get back up and keep skating.  When you are 41 and fall on your wrist and elbow, the following things go through your head.

1. What the hell am I doing on ice skates at age 41?

2. Why does it feel like a truck just ran over my arm?

3. If I tell my seven year-old we have to stop skating, will she cry?

4. Do I smell pizza and beer?  That would be awesome right about now.

After skating, we went out for frozen yogurt at a place called Koala Berry.  Maybe you have a Koala Berry where you live, or a place similar.  You choose from 15 or so amazing flavors, then dump about 100 ounces of toppings at .45 cents an ounce on top of it, then eat like you’ve never had a sundae before.  I went for the birthday cake flavor with hot fudge and peanuts and crushed kit kat’s.  A simple, yet delicate blend of sugar, sugar and sugar.  Yum.

My daughter picked a flavor called root beer float.  She added a variety of candy, hot fudge, marshmallows and Sour Patch Kids.  Gummy bears with a sour kick from hell.  I first had Sour Patch Kids while on a movie date in high school.  They were so incredible, I quickly ate two bags and forgot who I was out with.  On ice cream though?  I asked my daughter if she was certain she wanted to add them to her already (rather disgusting) ice cream.  She nodded in the affirmative.  I swear I saw one of the sour patch kids cringe as she sprinkled them on top.

We let our kids top their sundaes because they need to learn about failure on their own.  We need to let them do it, because without the experience of Sour Patch Kids, Root Beer Float and Hot Fudge (and marshmallows and kit kats and M and M’s), they can’t learn for themselves that some things look better than they taste. 

After three bites of her $6.00 sundae, my daughter was done.  Chalk it up to experience, I guess.  Maybe I’m a sucker for her deep blue eyes.  Maybe I just can’t tell her no.  One thing we both realized today–a Root Beer Float flavored frozen yogurt with the toppings mentioned above is something you try once in your life and then never again.  Like sticking your finger in a light socket or zipping up a little too fast, all it takes is one time to realize you never need to do that again to be happy!

Sadly, I did notice a gummy worm and crushed candy cane compartment close to the Sour Patch Kids.  With 14 other flavors of frozen yogurt left to try plus a ton of other toppings, something tells me we are in for a great deal of $6.00 lessons in the near future.

This is why we parent.  🙂

And the forests will echo with laughter.

There’s no better sound than the laughter of a child. 

A few months ago, my kids were spending the weekend with me and we were sitting around the Princess card table eating pizza.  My daughter looked at me and asked if I would go to the bedroom and get her the remote control car.

I asked her why.  She wouldn’t answer.  She looked at my 2 yr old son and he looked back at her.  Nothing.  They were both stone-faced.

“Please just go get the car, daddy.”

I got up and walked to the bedroom and reached down to pick it up.

The car moved before I could grab it.  I tried again.  Same thing.

At the table, my kids were laughing hysterically.  Their father had been the victim of a well-thought out practical joke.  I looked over and saw the control, held by my daughter, under the table.

This is why we live.  This is why we parent–for moments like this that you simply cannot script. 

I wasn’t going to blog tonight, but I ran across that car while prepping my house for their arrival tomorrow.  Lately, I’ve been packing away toys my kids no longer play with.  This little 5 dollar piece of plastic isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

Here’s to the laughter of children and what I hope is a lifetime of well-coordinated practical jokes between the three of us.

Be well.

It’s What Big Sisters Do.


Your little brother was too scared to walk the wall by himself yesterday.

You grabbed his hand and away you both went.

At the moment of this picture, he was giggling loudly.

You yelled, “This is what big sisters do.”

It was as if God took the picture, at this precise moment, for me.

I don’t know where either of you will be 20 years from now.

Or if I will be around.

I hope you both look at this picture every day for the rest of your lives.

And never forget.  Because I never will.  Ever.

I had to find the passage back, to the place I was before.

I just listened to the song, “Hotel California”, by The Eagles.  In 1994, they did the “Hell Freezes Over” tour after years of being apart.  When they performed this song in an acoustic setting, in my opinion it was the greatest rendition they did.  The song was great.  The song IS great.  I couldn’t though help but realize that this performance was 19 years ago.  19 years ago.  The funny thing is, 19 years ago the Eagles were old and tired.  Today, as I listen to them, they are the equivalent to Big Band music when I was growing up in the 80’s. 

Music intersects life.  It defines generations and sets the mood for a year or even a decade. I wonder…does it ever die?  When is a song or a band ever truly outdated?  A few months ago I bought Gordon Lightfoot’s Greatest Hits.  This man was a stud back in the day.  “Sundown” is a song that in 2013 still makes me sing out loud.  When he was in his heyday, Lightfoot made music truly sing.  When I think about time, I realize that his music was popular 40 years ago.  40 years.  Of course, this got me to start waxing poetic about time, memories and what they all mean in the grand scheme of things.

I think people spend too much time thinking about how great things were a long time ago.  Admit it–we all have wondered what would happen if we could go back and do thing differently.  While it’s a fun game to play, it’s a true waste of our time and energy.  It also does little justice for our lives in the present tense. 

Yes, we had moments in our lives when we “stabbed it with our steely knives”.  We took risks and sometimes they paid off; other times it set us back.  What matters most is we lived.  We lived and we experienced and we moved on.  I am so far removed from my high school years.  I cannot relate at all to the current set of students that walk the halls of my alma mater.  In my life, I had a 4 year span when I lived that life.  I experienced, I lived.  it is done.  It’s time to live in the present and worry not about the occurrences of yesterday and years ago. 

In the song, “Hotel California”, they sing about how you can “Check out anytime you’d like, but you can never leave”.  Perhaps that’s so.  You can however change your way of thinking and how you act in the present.  While it’s always great to remember what once was, it doesn’t have to define you.  We live, we experience, we grow. 

The place I was before was sometimes great, but often, it wasn’t.  I’ve learned from it and I am happy to say I am better for it.  As you look back on your life, I wonder if you can do the same.  It’s better to live in the now.  If you do, you will find that the current set of memories you make are great to experience. 

I don’t want to find the passage back to the place I was before.  I like to know it’s there if I ever need to reflect on mistakes made and lessons learned but I find it holds me back if I spend to much time worrying about what once was.  I’d much rather focus on what is and what can be. 

Without the choices I have made in my life, I wouldn’t have my two children, Kathryn and Brantley.  They are miracles.  Even though I am not proud of everything in my past, I’m glad that the end result was them.  They don’t see the dark days, they see a father who loves them and wants them to succeed.  I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world. 

Maybe, just maybe–in your own way, you can relate.

What toilet paper said to the donkey. (And Valentine’s Day)

Today is January 16th. Yes, that means January is half over.  If you are one of those people who has said. “I can’t believe January is already half over”, you are annoying.  Look, it’s been two weeks.  Enjoy the year and stop paying so much attention to the calendar.  With that, I give you today’s blog.

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, which means 2 things.  1.) I do not have to purchase an expensive gift this year (again), for a significant other.  And 2.) Easter decorations will be out the next day at all Walgreens, Rite Aid’s and Hobby Lobby stores.  Cynicism aside, there is one very cool thing that I am looking forward to this Valentine’s Day.  My 2.5 year-old will be filling out his Toy Story Valentines for all the people he loves.  It’s a wonderful time in a kid’s life.  They are so filled with love and joy and all they want to do is show that by sending you a tiny Buzz Lightyear card that says, “I Lov You Dad, Lov, Brhaagdjdwkdy.”  It is perhaps the most precious Valentine’s card a father can receive.  I went through this with my daughter a few years ago.  She gave me a card that said, “To PTP, frum Pa.”  I still have it and always will.  These are the moments in life that a father just loves. I can’t wait to sit down with my son and help him fill out his first Valentine’s Day card to his sister.  This is indeed what life is all about.

This year, I think I am going to go out and get a box of Valentines for all the people in my life that I love.  I am going to write a special note on each one and let them know how much I love them.  Regardless of what I have put them through, at the end of the day it all about letting those special people in our lives know just how important they are.  Let this be the season of love and joy, I say!

It reminds me of what toilet paper said to the donkey.  “You are an ass and I have been putting up with your shit since the beginning of time…but I still love you.”

The most important gift we can give the people we love is a reminder of how important they are to us.  And no matter how many days pass on the 2013 calendar, that sentiment will never change.  Amen.