Dad’s Clues

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

The scene couldn’t have been set more elegantly at my daughter’s lower school graduation ceremony.  The large white tent delicately contained the girls’ pastel colored dresses, with colors only matched by the flower bouquets which anchored the perimeter of the tent.  “Perhaps the breakfast burrito wasn’t the best idea” was all that came to mind when a teacher (needlessly) informed me of my daughter’s projectile release at the ceremony.  Getting dressed that morning in her favorite yellow dress (even though my overruled selection of beige would’ve been more appropriate), she was so very happy.

How proud and beautiful she looked as she walked, hand in hand with a classmate, down the aisle.  But as the temperature under that tent rose, I had to take only one look at my daughter.  It was then that I knew my poor relationship with sweltering heat as a child was inherited by my 1st grader, and it would undoubtedly bring her down that day..and her breakfast up.

Nothing is ever perfect, nor should it really be.  As a parent I’ve learned to savor the good moments, to roll with the punches..and to not give my daughter a breakfast burrito on graduation day.

Happy Summer!

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

I am the man!  I can run this ship!  That’s the ethos that I was raised with in my traditionally Italian household.  Truth be told, while I have some admirable qualities and I’m proud of my achievements, I mess up..plenty. I unfortunately raise my voice at times.  I don’t make the best decisions when stressed and my time management is sub par. Do I sink though in these situations?  If running solo, I would run that risk but famiglia is all about the fire ants.  Yes, the fire ants.

I was listening to NPR on Fri and they were discussing the fact that an individual fire ant can not swim and would thus drown on his own.  However, when with others, they lock their bodies together and form a buoyant raft which allows them to survive for several months!

My point is that I don’t find much pride in knowing that I have successfully gone it alone pre-marriage/kids. I’ve learned a lot from my family.  A ton from my seven year old even!  If we need to lean on one another for support or strength, well..that’s what we’re there for and the fact that this exists in my own micro-colony..well that’s what gives me the most pride.

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

While it’s typically the norm for me, I was sorely outnumbered by the moms this morning by exactly 27 to 1.  Perhaps, my adolescent fantasies have simply come back to haunt me.  Anyway, at the parent meeting for my ten year old’s new school, we sat in chairs arranged in a nice, clean concentric circle.  That is, with the exception of one chair that was strategically maneuvered a foot or two back from the rest..ever so slightly from this perfect circle.  It was essentially my chair’s way of saying, “I’m a part of this. I’m with all of you but I’m also giving everyone their personal space.  I assure you that my resident and his testosterone will remain outside of the nucleus.”  It’s these little nuances that mildly sedate quite a few sets of nerves (ok, maybe just mine) when the dude (i.e. me) infiltrates the mommy clan.

Sure, I know the school’s email was sent to me and it clearly explained that the talk was for fourth grade parents to attend.  But I knew I’d be the only one there carrying his wallet in his front pants pocket rather than a purse.  As one of the moms was telling me how “nice” it was that I was there, I think she might have believed me to be insincere when I returned the compliment by saying that it was nice that “she” was there as well.  What is life, if not a potpourri of confusion & misunderstanding anyway? However, with Angela’s crazy schedule, I’ve been mixing it up with the moms for the better part of 10 years now.  So, while I’m thinking that I’ve pretty much got this parenting thing down pat, a real seasoned veteran, bringing Venus and Mars a bit closer together, the school psychiatrist begins the meeting by explaining the agenda for today’s discussion.  And right then and there she goes ahead and drops the P-bomb on us..puberty!

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

As Angela returned home on Saturday from New Orleans, I took advantage of the remnants of her adrenaline rush and whisked her off to the Bronx..to my high school reunion. [insert cliché here] It was scary how the years have simply flown by.  While many of us have gained a few pounds or lost a little on top (well..some) it was nice to see that there wasn’t much of a struggle in recognizing those that were such a part of my past. After getting filled in on occupations, relationships, child count and stories that I “forgot” to share with my wife, I was pulled aside by three fellow, ex-gridiron athletes. Down the hall from the reunion was our football locker room and the guys were secure enough to let nostalgia play host for the evening.

 

Roughly 25 years after getting our butts kicked, on a rainy Thanksgiving Day bowl game, was the last time I was in that room.  While it’s hard to put it into words, there’s something about visiting an empty space when it had contained so much life.  Aside from our masking taped names on the lockers that were replaced by strangers’ and the fact that many of the sharp details have faded, one thing was for sure..that room did not age.  I honestly felt the same energy as soon as I entered it.  This naturally led to a story swap that the long ago Thanksgiving Day defeat couldn’t curb.  Each of us recalled an anecdote or two as quickly as it came to mind that Saturday night.  Towards the end of our brief visit, it was clearly obvious that my big offensive tackle was struggling to find the right words for a surge of emotion.  Until Phil simply said, “We really gave a $hit about each other.  No matter what was happening.”

 

We did and 25 years later, there’s a handful of them that I’d still trust with most anything.  For the mathematicians out there, high school is four years.  To gain such a bond in such a short period, is nothing shy of incredible.  After all, it is that power of relationships that makes us real.  However, for a myriad of reasons we grow older, so very busy and preoccupied within our lives, that we miss out on many chances to foster such strength within our own family.  One thing I’ve taken away from that evening is to take advantage of what’s in front of me.  OK, perhaps two..I’ve gotten soft in my old age 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

Mom’s at the conference.

With Angela off to New Orleans for Mom 2.0, I’m at the helm, braving it alone for a few days with our two girls.  With nothing but a compass and a piece of flint (okay no more Man vs Wild for me). While it’s sweet that I get the “So (insert long pause here) how’s it going? Do you need some help?” phone call from my Mom or mother-in-law, it’s hard not to find the humor in it as well. Do they call Angela when I am away on business..to see if she can manage it alone? Do I have some inadequacy or limitation that I have yet to uncover? Oh..it’s the guy thing, right! I’m so used to it that I simply forget sometimes, that’s all. 

Honestly, the dynamic shifts when one parent is away which is sometimes refreshing. My daughters might communicate with me more or I might simply focus on them some more, which they hopefully enjoy. So, whatever one’s situation might be, just enjoy your little people before they start borrowing the keys to the car. Aghhh!!

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

 

 

 

 

 

EVOLVE

I run my tongue across the chipped tooth and still feel it’s tattered edge..even though 20 years have passed since that rugby match wherein I almost lost it.  While recalling the primitive grunts within the scrum, I’m brought back to Earth by an unnecessarily loud ”I spotted the triple number!!” Yup, the time is 5:55 (Ella’s up by 2)..it’s an overly competitive game my girls like to play at dinner. And as I remove from the floor, whatever it was that my dog just mistakenly ate, I (yet again) attempt to coral the kids back to the table..unsuccessfully.  Times have indeed changed, but I think less than I have.

20 years later, I can strap on a Baby Bjorn faster than any pricey European nanny.  I can make blueberry pancakes arranged in such a smiley, artistic arrangement that it would make Picasso and Emeril jealous.  I am also able to coordinate which hair scrunchie goes with which outfit because, heaven forbid, the splash of turquoise hanging from my daughter’s ears, isn’t represented elsewhere on her ensemble.  One needn’t be fooled by my 6’2” frame, because when presented with some dire “friend” turmoil, I will listen..listen some more..comfort and then offer brief, non-judgemental advice..Well, I am working on that last part.

What does any of this have to do with what I’ve learned over the years?  I think that even though they supply us with their fair share of angst, we owe it to our kids, and to ourselves, to evolve as parents.  While everyone’s situation is different, everyone can challenge pre-determined notions of what they can be.  We all need to raise that bar! Dads as well..we can do anything Moms can do (within reason, of course).  The roles are completely mixed up at our house and I think not only does that squash gender stereotypes for our kids but it also shows them the strength and importance of positive relationships.   So Dads, get involved however/whenever you can.  There’s a huge rate of return here.  Now back to the kids..rugby was so much easier!

 

by: Greg | Filed under Dad's Clues

I think that I’ve honestly eaten 227 digital cakes since we downloaded the $.99 cake maker app for my daughter’s iTouch.  How far we’ve come from the $.25 bubble gum dispenser/roulette purchase which would supply us with a 1” square snake tattoo or yet another pair of undersized vampire teeth!

These days I’ll often see my daughter hunched over her handheld, albeit gleefully selecting just the right shade of pink-ish mauve colored icing.  That perfect hue, somewhere along the lines of cotton candy with a dab of periwinkle. With her hand waving in broad strokes, with the fluid grace of a seasoned Lincoln Center conductor, she’ll select another button to proudly apply her icing to my favorite flavor of cake. Sprinkle selection is of grave importance at this stage, as is evident by her focused, ninja-esque concentration.  A few edits here, a few edits there and “DADDY, YOUR CAKE IS READY!!”

Following my Oscar winning portrayal of sheer amazement and elation, I take my pudgy little pointer and poke at the cake.  This “naturally” causes small sections to dissolve away under my every touch. When I can’t eat another byte, I hand the device back to my daughter who, (judging from her face) is so very happy and proud.

Is she going to Yale due to this app? No.  Are her test scores going to go up 5% as a direct result of it? Highly doubtful. Is this a plug for the app? Not unless I get 5% from them.  The fact is that the majority of adults would chalk this up as a waste of technology or even worse, time wasted by my daughter.  However, for a brief period of time she is happy and creative (to some small degree) and..

“DADDY!..”  Sorry, gotta go eat more cake