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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Adventures With Kids – Schooling

Ok, so the boys are back in school. In my mind, they’re learning about Caesar, the Pythagorean Theorem and how to make cars from coconuts, but no. No. The school had other ideas.

graffitiThey learned how to do graffiti lettering.

Not cursive writing – that seems to have dropped off the planet like critical thinking or Paulie Shore.

Not typing (it still amazes me that this is not taught to a generation that is on a keyboard at the age of 5).


They are being taught how to do letters like they were tagging a building. Who knows, maybe it’s a drive to make sure that if they’re graffiti-ing a brick wall , they’ll use correct grammar. Or at least it’ll look neat and tidy.

Now, it’s not a serious issue. Just kinda funny.

Then I heard that they had learned how to tattoo themselves.

Not something I expected to hear as an answer to ‘what did you do in school today?’

I have to say I’m a little afraid to ask now. What’s next, ‘we learned how to destroy evidence’ or ‘look mom, I now know how to defraud the government’? What is this, education by Charles Manson?



We live in interesting times. The Oldest has no idea who Winston Churchill is, but can apply a tattoo. Maybe next they’ll make a Churchill head out of lego. Or gummy bears. Or never be actually taught who he was and what he did.


I think I need a drink.


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Adventures With Kids – The Walk to School



Is it really about survival?

So the oldest is interested in Survivor. “Why didn’t you tell me about this show?” He demands. “Why?”

Survival interests him. How would a whole bunch of strangers survive on an island? How would they overcome the challenges?

Hey, it’s the premise that sold the show 143 years ago.

We tried to tell him it was less about, you know, actual survival than people politics, forming alliances, betraying each other and ultimately kicking someone off the island. He didn’t care. He loved the idea of surviving on an island. Like I did when I was 11.

treasure islandOf course in my time it was Treasure Island and or Swiss Family Robinson, but the idea still holds magic. It’s really about being free, about going beyond parental care, about getting out into the world and testing yourself.

However, there are some differences from when I dreamed of surviving on an island.

Here is the conversation as best as I can recall (cuz it was like 8am and I have only half a brain working at that time.)

“So survivor isn’t really about surviving on an island, is it?” he asks.


“They need to have to survive more.”

“It’s really a social game, not some up-gunned version of scout camp.”

“I want to watch a show where people actually have to survive.”


“I’d even want to be on that show.”

I can’t honestly imagine him skinning a deer or eating leeches for lunch.“Really?”

“Well, it’d be a whole season cuz we would need a whole season to figure it all out and we would have to learn how to grow food and build a home and find stuff to mine and I’d be in charge of transportation and build a car.”

“Wait, what?  A car?”

“Sure. We’d all be assigned special tasks like there would be one person to make food and one person would dig a well and then one would be in charge of mining, and one person would be the electrician…”

“You’ve discovered how to generate electricity?”


I swear this looks like the last electrician who came by

“Not me, the electrician. Please listen.”

“Right, sorry. Go on.”

“We’d all have to work hard to make it, but if everyone did their job really well, we could totally survive.”

“And who would lead?”

“No one. We’d all do what we wanted to do and what we were good at.”

“So no one would assign daily tasks or figure out who was better at what or start taxing everyone else so they could build a bigger house just for themselves?”

“No. But I think building a car would be hard. I would need a book.”


I think he made a nuclear reactor once

“And a refinery for the gas.”

“Maybe. The book would have to be really big. It would have to explain in detail how to do everything.”

“That’s one big ass book.”

“I’d read it though, and follow all the instructions and everyone would have their own book.”

“Makes sense.”

“And, of course, everyone would have had to have played Minecraft before.”

“Of course.”

“Cuz they’d have to know about mining and building houses and wood and farming and stuff.”

“And zombies.”

“Zombies aren’t real.”

“Right. Sorry. Minecraft. Everyone would have to have played it…”

And thus went the conversation for 20 minutes while we walked to school. I know I won’t get these moments forever. Soon he’ll want me to stop a block or two from school, then the very idea of me coming with him will fill him with horror, then he’ll be off on some island mining for gold and making a car.

So I treasure these moments, these walks-and-talks.


Back in my day, THIS was Survivor. Ah, shipwrecked on a desert island with Ginger and Mary-Anne.  Good times.

Sadly I tend to infect them with all kinds of reality (like “so how much food can 1 person harvest in a day?” or “does anyone on the island have a match? or “how did Gilligan make that radio, again?”), but that doesn’t mean I don’t love having the conversations and hearing how his mind works, about what excites his imagination.

Unless it’s pouring rain, then he’s on his own.

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