Parenting Nightmares

Over the past few nights I’ve had a tough time falling asleep. It’s rare for my mind to keep racing as I lay in bed. But the last few nights are different. I’ve been trying to come to terms with how to work in some preventative parenting towards our teenagers. It all stems from situations that have happened to other parents in my community.

I don’t usually share an opinion on emotional topics, nor do I usually discuss similar situations in my blog. Today is different. In Langley there were two recent loses of teenager life in two different ways. The kids were 14 and 15.

The first loss was a teen girl who took her own life. As many know, depression can hit hard to a great many people. It’s how we help others, or seek out help ourselves, that can be a changing point in this. I don’t have a magic fix to offer here. I have had friends battle depression. Some have lost that battle (such as my friend Jeremy) but many have tackled it successfully in a variety of ways. Suicide is a tragic answer and I always feel terrible hearing about it. Both for the loss of the life and for the friends and family that have to come to term with it and questioning whether they should’ve done more. Those questions are the hardest to find an answer to.

The other lose of life was a young boy at a skate park. I don’t know much about his life, but it sounded like he was a well loved kid and whose father treated him like a best friend. All the boy wanted to do was fit in, like many teenagers. Sadly he overdosed on narcotics. But what makes this story that much more saddening is that his “friends” were Snap Chatting his finally moments laughing about how he was tripping out. From what I understand, of those who saw the videos- no one did anything to help.

What I take away from this last situation is two things:

First- Drugs really are bad. I grew up as a kid hearing to “Say NO to drugs.” As a teenager, I lived right next door to where this teen lost his life. I’m not saying I was a smart teen/young adult living in that neighborhood. I think I felt pretty untouchable and indestructible like many teens. But I knew that it wasn’t the lifestyle I wanted and eventually left those “friends” behind. I was lucky, or smart, or unsure, but somehow I have gotten to this point in my life. I have seen and heard too many stories of drug use and overdoses and how it rips a family apart.

Second- Social media can be destructive. People hiding behind a cellphone sharing videos thinking it’s amusing. How are these teens going to deal with the loss of someone so young? A vigil was a great place to start for the grieving process. But again those questions come up, “why didn’t someone help sooner?” In today’s society we hear of far too many people thinking someone else will do something.

So as a parent, I talk to my kids on a regular basis. But when their eyes glaze over and they just nod and say, “yes dad” I just hope that my message is getting through to them. My wife and I can monitor every move they make. But we hope that they are willing to talk to us or help someone in need. Not to be the coward who thinks someone else will do something. Or fear of reprisals from their peers. The loss of a child’s life is the most tragic to bestow upon a family and community.

So stay vigilant out there. Try and help those who need it. Please share with me how you talk to your teenagers about suicide, drugs and social media. I’m sure I’m not the only parent trying to get through those hard talks. We could all use a little help.

Fastest Ice In The World

Calgary’s Olympic Oval is the reason we came out here this week. Our son attended a Speed Skating Camp at the Oval. He has his own ambitions and my wife and I want to see him succeed. I’m most impressed by how serious he is wanting to take his training.

Calgary’s Olympic Oval has the world’s fastest ice. Usually our son skates Short Track at our local ice rink and at similar meets in other ice rinks. He decided that he really wanted to get into Long Track Skating, so we got him out to Calgary to try it out. The first four days he wore his Short Track skates and dominated his own abilities.

Sadly, my wife and I ended up buying him his first pair of Long Track boots and blades. I say sadly more for our pocketbook. First these skates cost over $1000 and also the fact that we will be doing more traveling to other Long Track ice rinks in the coming years. There is also a new learning curve for him. But I think it’ll work out.

Our son wants to stand on the podium one day. He has set some lofty goals for himself. If my wife and I can help in any way, then we will. Next month- off to another Long Track for some more practice. In the mean time, lots of workouts and sideline cheering to keep him going.

18 Years

Today I celebrate 18 years of marriage to my wife. It has been an amazing journey. With far more ups than downs.

I have loved every moment. Even that time when she stabbed me in the face with her finger nails and tried to apologize acting all sweet and cute.

Or the time she thought I was taking a selfie and wanted to show that she brushes her teeth- so I took a selfie with her.

I love that ten years ago, we went on our first family trip to Disneyland. I never knew that an inner child was a real thing until I saw my wife gushing with pleasure and excitement as we wandered the parks. This also started a continuous desire to return as often as possible to Disneyland. Whenever we are having rough emotional patches- we talk about previous trips and future plans of traveling to those Magical Lands.

Through 18 years of marriage, we have created and cultivated a beautiful family. Our three kids have been a source of pride for us both. We love to joke and laugh with them. Our kids have become extensions of our personalities- sharing love into this world the same way my wife and I do.

Our love for one another has grown tremendously strong over the years. I’m lucky to have such a great partner. She is as crazy as I am. She even lets the crazy loose more when I’m around.

May our journey together not be restricted to just these first 18 years of marriage. We have a bond that I feel will last a lifetime.

Happy 18th Anniversary Lee-Anne! I love you with all my heart.

Sincerely,

Josef

Blanket Fort or Chores?

While my wife and I were away for the weekend with our son, we left our two oldest at home alone. At age 16 and 14 this was a good opportunity for them to earn some more trust from mom and dad. They are both well behaved and smart girls, so we really didn’t have too many concerns. Read as: No Parties.

Before we left, we gave them a few chores that they needed to do. Usually it takes my wife and I a bit of hounding to get the kids to do stuff around the house. Perhaps we should’ve been more diligent this weekend while we were in another province. When we returned home- it looked like they were expecting servants to clean up after them. (Aka mom and dad). None of their dishes were cleaned and their pizza boxes and lasagna tray from a few dinners before were cluttering up the counter.

Did they do the extra chores you may ask? Why, certainly not.

What they did do was this:

Our middle child made a blanket fort with loads of encouragement from her older sister. It stretched out from one end of our theater room into our main foyer, through to the disaster of a kitchen and around the corner into the dining room.

Our 14 year old daughter had done the entire thing on her own. That’s because she got bored while her sister was at work. Why couldn’t she just do her chores? She is very proud of her accomplishment and since there is another week of Spring Break- she will likely need that long to take it all down and re-fold the blankets and put everything away.

She was inspired by watching re-runs of Community. Growing up doesn’t mean losing sense of childish fun. But there is some grown up responsibilities to be had as well. Hopefully our examples of how to be adults will rub off on our kids.

If you’ll excuse me- I’m off to play some video games and then take a nap before working my night shift. See? Having fun and being responsible is possible.

What do you do to keep the childish fun inside of you alive? How do you balance responsibilities and fun?

Let me know in the comments.

Never Too Busy To Pause For Life’s Moments

Life can get pretty hectic. Especially towards the holiday season. Kids concerts, last minute gift shopping, year end work deadlines… Throughout it all, you need to remember to pause for a bit and just enjoy life.

It’s also tough to not want to compare your life with someone else’s. All those fun photos and memorable moments they’re having. Kinda wish I was doing the same sometimes. But my life is pretty darn good when I look at it. I just need to focus on what matters most to me:

My family.

They’re really good people who have stories to share with me. I need to remember to give them the attention that I give my social media feed. Sometimes I need to be an ear for them to talk to. Other times I just admire them without their knowledge. Catching those “Ah-Ha” moments when something clicks. Or seeing the kindness they can show others without being prompted.

Those are the moments I don’t want to miss. I just need to hit pause once in a while and enjoy.

Life Lesson

My son is only twelve years old and in grade 7. But he learned a tough lesson this week at school. He got suspended because of a fight that broke out the other day.

He wasn’t physically fighting, but he became one of the students in the small crowd of thirteen kids who watched and did nothing. Four of the students pulled out phones and filmed the situation. The rest cheered. Including my son who was caught on camera by one of the four kids. I support the school district’s decision about the punishment for all fifteen kids.

Yesterday at the end of school, my son was told that he was suspended. He was so distraught that his tears became heavy sobs.

I’m glad he learned this lesson now before adulthood kicks in. We’ve had a good discussion about what he could’ve done differently and what he plans to do next time. I also explained that as he gets older, there can be real world consequences for similar offenses.

His suspension has him home from school today. So I will be putting him to work doing some manual labor around the home. He knows that he better not argue with me about it.

Normally he is a great and loving child. This time he got caught up in the moment and made a poor decision which he has since regretted. I hope he learns from this and makes better choices to help people out instead of sitting idly by.

This Dad is There When Needed

Today my daughter needed me. So I was there for her in the best capacity I can be. She needed to be taken out, so I made sure to be there for her. Afterwards, we had some one on one time.

We went to a coffee shop near her school in Fort Langley called “The Blacksmith Bakery” for a mid morning breakfast. We each had a Chai Latte. I had a very tasty Butterfly Blue Matcha one. For breakfast I had a simple avocado toast with poached eggs. My daughter opted for a sticky bun. We had a good talk that I think we both needed.

Afterwards I took her home instead of school. She needed more dad time, so we continued it by decorating our home. She took a ton of photos as we played around and figured out where to put stuff. We listened to some comedy Christmas music as well. By the end of the day, she was smiling and joking.

She needed me today, so I was there for her. I really wish there was more I could do, but for now- I’m here when she needs me. Even if it’s just coffee and Christmas decorating.

Late Night/Early Morning

Having a late Friday night isn’t what it once was for me. Especially when I am required to have an early Saturday morning. Drinking and partying isn’t in play that’s for sure. This sacrifice is for our kids.

Friday evenings we spend a couple hours at an ice rink in our town while the kids practice Speed Skating. We get home by 9pm and have dinner. We hope to go to bed by 11pm. Saturday mornings we are up early to head out to a different ice rink that’s at least 45 minutes away from our home just so the kids can get one more hour of “ice time”.

Next weekend is the first competition. A good chance for the kids to see who they are up against this season. We kept our kids active all summer with dry land training, so hopefully their muscles can be better prepared.

If our kids didn’t like doing skating, we would’ve given this up years ago. But they love it. They have a drive and determination I don’t think I ever possessed. Plus, all of their friendships and competitions aren’t “ugly”. In fact at every meet, there is great sportsmanship shown.

They’re pretty good at this Skating thing. Volunteering my time is the least I can do for them. Calling out words of encouragement from the sidelines is my way of showing I care as well.

Dad Duty

My wife is away for the next few days at a Summit for her work. That means I’m in charge of the household! It’s my job as a father- But I’m not called a babysitter!

Our kids know that they need to help out during this time. They are pretty good when we need them to step up. Our oldest will make dinner for the next couple of nights. While the other two help with chores and cleaning. I don’t think there will be much pushback or arguing from them. If there are any problems, we can keep it a secret from my wife…

My wife tried to keep her enthusiasm at getting away to a minimum. I could tell she was looking forward to a couple of days out of the house. Before she left, she tried to give me advice on how “she did things” in the mornings. It seems there is a routine that she wants me to follow. I figure that it’ll all be fine for when she returns home.

It’s rare for me to be a solo parent for days on end. In fact, I can’t really think of a time that this has occurred for more than 24 hours. This summer, I am planning on dragging the kids away for some R&R- most likely without my wife. A few days in a cabin on a lake. I’m looking forward to it.

As long as these next few days work out…

Shared Cloud- A New Way to Parent?

About a month ago, I got myself a new cellphone. So I pulled the SIM card out of my old one and gave it to my son. Now he can play apps, take photos, and access the Internet.

However…

I chose to keep it connected to my iCloud account. Mostly to keep an eye on his online behavior and such. Of our children, he seems to be the one more prone to finding inappropriate things online. I’m not gonna lie- Part of that is my fault.

I don’t sensor what I say around my children. I also watch movies/ tv with our children that have a much stronger content rating than PG. (I do feel that an “R” rating in the 80’s and 90’s is much tamer than today’s standards.) Toilet humor is funny, so watching shows like Rick and Morty are something I share with my son. It also allows me to explain certain things if he has questions instead of “hearing it on the playground” like I had to growing up.

Sharing “The Cloud” is good. He knows I see what he sees and he can also see what I see- including saved photos. It has made me realize that some of my Memes are more questionable than they should be. My own moral compass is shifting.

So as I parent my son, he is also making me a better person.

Even if he does leave me messages to “Tuck Your Balls In.