Steppingdaddying Around – The Proud Moments

You know, it’s funny what makes parents proud. For some, it’s scoring the winning goal in hockey or soccer. For others, it’s great marks in math or in social studies.

For me, one of my proudest moments came today when the Oldest became a wisenheimer.

hobbs and snowmenI guess it’s that transition from child to teenager, that rewiring of his brain, but I nearly broke down in tears when he did a brilliantly funny comeback for us bugging him about his school work.

So, let me set the scene. Tuesday evening. Wind clatters the chimes outside and rattles the windows. The Oldest is on the couch. He’s got an assignment due the next morning and we’ve been on him to get it done. It’s pretty simple really. Tell everyone in the class what you did and how you felt about it.

First problem. His answer to the question, tell everyone what you did, was, err, uhm, I dunno, nothing.


Not, we watched Bear Gryllis and made fun of the guy who wanted to go home or the epic fail we had trying to load up minecraft on the new computer. Nor was it, we saw the movie Big Hero 6 and he thought he was too sad and too predictable. Nor even was it that he used power tools, built a table and still had all his fingers (Ok, I was kinda proud of him for doing that, too.)

But no, he’d done nothing.

bearWell, my lad, that’s not good enough. So the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world had him shut off Clash of clans, put down his iphone and think. What about finding that cool case for your iphone? What about playing with your brother and his friend in our rec room (playing a version of the floor is lava game?) What about doing stuff with your dad like seeing Avatar for the first time? Or…?

Well, you get the idea.

He finally confessed that he may have done stuff, but then all he did was list what he’d done. The assignment was really to focus on one thing and tell a good story. So he did. He’s what he told the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world.

beeer“On Friday night mommy went out with the girls and left us with our stepdad so she could party with her friends, and she came home with all these prizes that she’d won and she was drunk cuz mommy loves to drink and it was late, but she came up into our rooms and said, wake up, look at all my presents and we were all like, mommy, it’s late, we want to sleep, but she was all like, you wouldn’t believe how much I drank and everyone gave me presents and you have to see them, so we looked at the presents and then she let us go back to sleep.”

None of it was true, but it was amazingly inventive. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world responded. “OMG, don’t say that! You never lie, everyone will believe you. Tell them mommy came home from church to prey.”

“To pray for more beer!”

I laughed. The Prettiest-girl-in-the-world laughed. We were so proud. He is an official wise ass.

We may come to regret this.





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Step-Parenting – Adventures with Kids

Ok, so I get it. This whole parenting thing can be hard. Emotionally. Physically. Spiritually. Financially. I know my hair is greyer, my wrinkles deeper and I’m pretty sure someone smeared jam on my laptop keyboard, but every so often, something happens that makes it all worthwhile.

calvin dad


No, it’s not all the fun I have with my Joe-facts. It was something else.

Honestly, most of the time, I think I’m just no good at this parenting stuff. Like when I forget to tell them to take a raincoat, it (of course), rains in the afternoon. Hell, I seem to forget more than I remember.

IMG_6052[1]I don’t know how the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world does it, how she remembers schedules and hair appointments and other parent’s names and birthdays and what the boys had for supper last Tuesday and hockey practices and water bottles and where their oldest’s phone is and …

It’s a blizzard to me. Maybe I’ll get better with practice, but if anything, the older I get, the worse I’m becoming.

2 years ago, I couldn’t imagine being a parent. I was an awesome Uncle Joe. I would arrive, entertain, play with the kids, listen to their stories, eat some ice cream with them, then leave. I didn’t have to make them do homework or go to bed on time or tell them to stop poking the dog in the bum.

It was all fun and games.

Now I worry when they don’t call on time. I race to a hockey rinks at 6am. I nag them about doing math. I leap across a counter to stop the Youngest from juggling steak knives. I bug them about not interrupting. And sometimes, far more often than I ever should, I have to raise my voice to be heard above Plants vs Zombies or Youtube video about spooky-ass animatronic animals that creep up on you in the dark.

calvin dad and supperI imagined I would be the world’s greatest step-parent. I imagined Oprah asking me how I did it. I imagined statues would be built of me, and public schools named after me.

Instead, I fear I may be a cautionary tale. That parent all the other parents shake their heads at and say, well at least I’m not like THAT guy!

But maybe all parents feel that way. Maybe they’re all trying to figure it out and while it may look like they have it all together on the outside, deep down, someone in their family is wearing yesterday’s underwear.

So, yeah, back to what makes it all worthwhile.

It was a simple thing. I was in my usual after-school mode of making sure lunch boxes got put by the dishwasher, that ice packs got put in the fridge, that homework was put on the table, when the Youngest went over to our family board and wrote something on it.

It wasn’t “Joe’s a jerk!” It wasn’t “Why can’t I play video games, THEN do my homework?” It was something amazing.IMG_6055[1]

It wasn’t said, like “Yoer a good stepdad, now can I have a popsicle?” or “Yoer the best, Joe, can I get a bow and arrow set tomorrow?” It was just said.

And it made all the difference in the world.

So maybe I’m not the complete disaster.

Or maybe I’m just easily flattered.

Or both.


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Adventures in Parenting – Firsts


pumpkin pieAs we get older and older, those firsts are harder and harder to come by. We have to settle for things like ‘first time I watched Seattle lose while I was eating pumpkin pie.’

Ok, I’ve even done that a few times!

But let’s recall what it was like to have real firsts.

Kid firsts.

lego babyFirst steps. Done. First words. Done. First sentence. Done. First fit. First successful use of potty. First sleepover. First time on the computer (which I think for both boys it was before the first words.) First lego. Done, done and done.

For the Oldest, he’s had a few other firsts this year. First time alone. First time walking to school by himself. First time he had to phone for help (when the dog pooped all over the place.)

But there was another first recently. A big one.

He got to ride in the front seat.

Let’s not forget how cool this really is. If you doubt it, go and sit in the backseat for a while. It’s harder to carry on conversations, harder to shout out, “Squirrel!!!”, it’s harder see where you’re going, and you cannot, absolutely CANNOT change the radio channel.

IMG_1845So the Oldest was more excited to sit in the front seat than he was to get presents.

And not just because of the things mentioned. He was excited because it was one step closer to being an adult. Like he owned the mustang.

How funny is it that at his age, all he wants to do is grow up and become an adult, and we adults, all we want is to have back that time we were kids? Something’s seriously messed up here.

But he’s growing up. No doubt. You can see it in his face. You can see it in how he chooses to spend his time (no longer happy to read kids books, he now wants something better, something deeper). You can hear it in the questions he now asks. No longer is it “what’s the best pokemon card?” It’s now, “So, what’s the meaning of life?”

I told him not to forget how much fun this time in his life is, all these ‘firsts’, but I’m not sure he heard me, or if he did, he understood what I meant. Soon it will be first love. First class in highschool. First kiss. First driver’s license. First car. First job.

I hate that I missed all the other firsts before I knew him, but I feel lucky to be a part of those firsts still to be had.


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Adventures With Kids – A Promotion

The Walking Dead

I got a promotion yesterday. A parenting promotion.

mathAs you know, I’m new to all this parenting stuff. It’s confusing, daunting, and at times, terrifying. Like math. Or a proctology exam.

It’s been a tough week. I’ve been as sick as a dog. I dunno who gave me the cold, but I’m going to find them and take a big poo on their doorstep.

However, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world has done stellar duty picking up the slack as I lay on the couch, my nose leaking like somehow had stuffed a hose up my bum and pumped the damn stuff in. I can’t believe how much goo my body can produce when sick (as my garbage bin full of Kleenex will attest), but can my body grow another arm so I could carry in groceries or juggle effectively? No, no it cannot.

It was the type of cold where if your glasses fall off your face and onto the floor, you leave them there and watch TV all blurry and stuff – It takes just too much effort and energy to pick them up.

But being a parent sometimes means you have to get off that couch, climb out of that bed, or haul yourself off the floor and get a job done.

My job on Wednesday was to take the Youngest to his first 6am hockey practice. Every part of me hurt, even my hair, which makes no sense to me at all since I didn’t think hair had feelings (unless you make fun of it, then I know it will feel all hurt and all.) But at 5am, the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world poked me to ask if I wanted to cancel taking the Youngest to hockey.

“Herm, bah, mggggg,” I said.

“Listen, you’re sick. Stay in bed.”

I got up. “Gurf, blurk, ah, ooogh.”


It took a few seconds for my brain to tell my mouth how to work, again. “Me tabe colb mebs. Me bee fine.”

Ok so my brain still needed to work on the whole word thing, but I was up and I took some cold meds and zombied around looking for my pants while the Prettiest-girl-in-the-world got all the Youngest’s gear ready. By the time I slumped downstairs, he was good to go.

I managed to find the right arena, I managed to get him to the right dressing room and IMG_5718somehow, I even managed to put the right skates on the right feet. Had I been more alive, I would have been proud of myself. As it was, I told him to have fun out there, bought a coffee and huddled with the rest of the early morning parents, sniffing and snorting and holding my coffee like it was my lifeline to this universe.

I was glad I got him there, though. He worked his butt off. “I’m really going to try to learn to skate better,” he told me as I unlaced his skates afterwards. And he done just that. He skated side to side when he was in line, he never lay down on the ice once even though I knew he was tired, and even when he was given the opportunity to take a drink, he used that time to skate and shoot.

To me, that made it all worth the effort.

IMG_6017Then, when we got home, I saw on our Family Board, the message…”You take such good care of us, Joe. Flu + 6am hockey practice = step dad master level.”

It was the best promotion I’ve ever received..

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Deconstructing Deconstructing

From my writing blog

Deconstructing Deconstructing.

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The Walking Dad

Originally posted on Blog 213:

On fields of play, parents often find themselves on the outside looking in.

On fields of play, parents often find themselves on the outside looking in.

“How many do you think I should do?”

“Ten,” my son tells me.

“I can’t do ten! Seven.”



“Eight,” he says. “Or nothing.”

I park in the grass next to the soccer field, open the mini-van door and let him out. He dashes to join a dozen other nine- and ten-year-olds who jump, whirr and kick.

Do I remember dashing? Was there a time when my legs ached to run? They feel so hesitant now, so timid.

There are twelve vehicles parked in a zig-zag line along the east end of the church field where YMCA Co-Ed Youth Soccer Team #85 practices once a week. All but two of the assembled cars, mini-vans and SUVs are occupied by adults, many of us are cuddling up with our smartphones or staring through the windshield at…

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Adventures With Kids – Questions That Need Answers

The Oldest boy asked me what’s the difference between a nerd and a geek?

I thought they were pretty much the same thing. Like a Christoper Lambert and Thomas Jane.

But no, there’s a difference. A big one.

And there’s no better way to explain it than with rap.

Seems clear now, right?

If not, let’s try this.

Now, my question is, can you be both?


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