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.

Shine On

Remember when you were young?

I sometimes forget that I was once young. Not the kind of “forget” like of memories or events- more the forgetting of emotional struggles. Those tend to bubble up when I engage in frustrating talks with my children.

Remembering that my kids/teens have to go through struggles that I went through is challenging. I don’t want to yell, argue or say something to hurt their feelings. Their psyche needs to grow and develop. Remaining calm, cool and collected is the hardest part about parenting.

I don’t want to extinguish my children’s inner light either. Having strong personalities and allowing them to express themselves are great attributes that sometimes come at a price to my mental awareness. The price of having to know when to guide them, when to scold them, and when to let them have control. As long as we talk and discuss feelings, I have found they are more aware of how their actions work. I will always love them, even during difficult times.

Shine on you crazy diamond.

Parenting Out The Bad Behavior

Having children is wonderful.

I need to remind myself of this fact from time to time. Because as of late, our children are trying our patience.


They love to play a little game of “Mom vs Dad” and it drives us crazy. It’s not always the asking of something either. Like asking if they can go watch tv or eat some potato chips. Sometimes it’s just their behavior and the difference in how they treat us.


Lately our kids have been relatively rude to their mother but nice to me. As much as I kind of like the kindness generated towards me, I’m a teammate with my wife and she deserves the same respect. My wife and I don’t usually do good cop/bad cop. We are normally on the same page with respect to what we expect from our children.

My wife has thrown in the towel for the day, so I am going to play both roles for the next little bit. She will help from the sidelines still, but the kids need to come to me first.  It also means that they will get pretty tired of dad “being in charge” and will soon want happy mom back.

My style of parenting can be pretty demanding without much opportunity for them to talk back. I will keep them on the go so that they don’t have much time to think about excuses or a chance to hide.

I love my children very much. Usually they’re well behaved- particularly when outside of the home. We would like their good behavior to come home with them more frequently. It’s hard to live in the same household for years. Tempers flare and feelings get hurt. Trying to prevent this is what being a parent is all about.

Having children is wonderful.

Sisters

I am sometimes a horrible parent.

I know- hard to believe.

But let me share a story from Saturday night with you.

My wife and I went out for the evening to enjoy dinner and music.  We left our 3 children at home- none of them put in charge mind you.   So our evening out was for about three hours and on our way home I called our oldest daughter.  I asked her if she could meet us outside our home so she could give us some reusable bags and we would go buy soda and chips. She was more than happy to oblige, because junk food. We met her just up from our house and she decided she wanted to come with us.  So I asked if she saw her brother or sister before she left. Now the fun began.


As we drove up the road to the store, I decided to call our other daughter on her new cell phone.  She answered quickly so we talked for a bit. Then I asked where her older sister was because Random wasn’t answering her phone. She told me that Random was taking bags to meet us and had just left.  I then put on “worried dad voice” and said that we hadn’t even left the restaurant yet. Darwin became frazzled and was sure that her sister was meeting up with us.  I kept up the charade and told her I am hanging up the phone now to try and call her older sister back.


After a few minutes of my snickering in the car with my wife and Random, I decided to call Darwin back. Darwin was now in panic mode.  She kept saying that she was certain her sister was going to meet up with us.  I couldn’t help myself- I kept up the facade… I told her how much trouble her sister was going to be in when I found her.  I then told Darwin that I had to go and make some phone calls.  Moments later, Random began getting texts from a panicky little sister wondering where she had gotten to.


I went into the store and did the quick shopping with my wife.  About ten minutes later we were back at the car just as our oldest daughter was getting a FaceTime call. Random answered it and promptly turned the screen into my face. All I could see was Darwin and Theory staring at me in disbelief.  Then the connection went dead.

I tried repeatedly to call her.  But she wouldn’t answer the phone.  We got home and I tried to text her. My prank had not been received very well. My 13 year old daughter was right pissed off:


I was in her bad books for the rest of the weekend.  At least I know she will look out for her sister.  I also know that her sister didn’t play along with my prank. The two of them may fight and bicker, but in the end I know they have each other’s backs.

Now to try and make it up to my daughters.  This one will be tough… I am worried they may seek revenge on me one day.