Darwin. April 15th, 2019

Another trip around the sun has completed for our daughter Darwin. She turned 15 today. As much as I still want her to remain our little girl, I also know that she will be growing into an adult over the next few years.

Looking back at some of my previous blogs this year, I’ve noticed that we have shared some fantastic memories together.

In October, we were out hunting for a Halloween Costume.

We enjoyed last summer’s Bike ride around Barnston Island.

I’ve also noticed that she loves to have fun just like I do. Take last month’s Extreme Blanket Fort or our attempt at an Escape Room.

Watching her navigate her way into adulthood is interesting to say the least. She has goals and aspirations for her career and is constantly getting straight “A”s in order to accomplish this. She’s also inspired by my wife’s former fashion and has taken a liking to her old clothes. My wife is happy to see these clothes get a new lease on life.

Socially, our daughter has a ton of friends. She is kind to everyone she meets and is always ready to give the benefit of the doubt when it comes to awkward interactions. Which is a positive notion but realistically speaking will likely change as she grows. I just don’t want her kindheartedness to diminish.

I hope Darwin continues to enjoy life with a positive helping attitude and a warm hug when needed.

Happy Birthday Darwin!

You’re pretty amazing!

Brace Yourself

When I was younger, I had to get braces for my teeth. It was obvious from birth that I’d need them. Seriously- my mother was Scottish and my father was Czech. Both of them had false teeth by their early thirties. My baby teeth were okay, but those adult teeth were messed up something fierce. So my parents forked over a few thousand dollars to repair my smile.

After years of going through puberty and wearing metal in my mouth, I was ready to be good looking. Only that never happened. Once my braces were off- within a few years my wisdom teeth came in and shifted my lower teeth and made them nice and crooked. But I don’t really care now. I’m not trying to impress anyone anymore.

It seems my wife’s genetics and mine weren’t so kind to our offspring. Or our pocketbook for that matter…

I bring this up because our oldest daughter has been wearing braces for a few years now. On Thursday, the orthodontist removed them. Her “agony” is overtaken age 16.

She can’t stop smiling now. I think she is happy about how her teeth have straightened out. I’m happy that we will have smiles in our Christmas photos! I’m also happy that those payments for child number one’s teeth are behind us. Now to focus on the other two.

Joe Cool

“I’m so cool that when I enter a room- everybody freezes.”

I tend to think highly of myself… mostly because I like to maintain a positive outlook of myself- and also to entertain my friends. I have a good sense of humor and don’t mind giving some ammunition for people to poke fun at me. I am pretty amazing after all.

When I was in grade 6/7 I had a couple of Snoopy sweatshirts that said Joe Cool on them. I thought they were the greatest thing ever. Then I hit grade 8- and I was the biggest loser (according to the other kids). I was teased and taunted for years. Hateful people hating me for being me. I began hating myself. Hate filled my world. All I had going for me was to get good grades so that my parents didn’t hate me as well. At least that was the thought I had as a young teenager.

Finally I moved schools. I’d tell you my world got better instantly, but it took me months to make friends. I took an approach that worked for me- I made fun of myself before someone else could. I guess it exuded confidence. Because I have made friends everywhere I go now.

So when I post a proud moment or a self promoting status on social media- know that I took some hardships to get myself there. Somewhere tucked away inside of me is this teenager that was bullied. He was not knowing at the time that life would get better. A lot better.

All because I’ve kept my cool. And what’s cooler than being cool?

Another Birthday!

Everyone who is alive has a birthday. However, not every birthday gets a grandiose celebration. And that’s ok.

Today is our middle child’s 14th Birthday. We are just doing a casual dinner and giving her a couple of gifts. No big party or anything. Just a little bit of recognition. Next weekend she wants to take a couple of her friends bowling. I’ll be taking her because my wife doesn’t like bowling. A carload of young teens laughing and singing is always a treat.

I hope she understands that not every birthday is a crazy gala event. Sometimes that’s hard to explain this to a teenager/ child, especially when movies and tv shows portray things differently.

I think her birthday will still be special in its own way. It’s having her around that is the best gift. She always makes us smile and laugh. These first fourteen years have just flown by. I still remember her being so tiny that I could cradle her on the length of my arm. I miss that little baby some days. But I love who she is growing up to be.

Happy Birthday Darwin.

I’m not crying. You’re crying.

Hang On ‘Till Tomorrow- Come What May

A good night sleep was really needed. As tough as it is dealing with one’s own emotions, it can be even more difficult dealing with your family’s as well. Thursday and Friday were stressing the limits in our home. But we made it through somehow- without hurt feelings, anger or cruelty. It took strength and time.

I knew yesterday that I would just need to be patient and wait for tomorrow (which is now today). Things are better. Not the best- but better. It makes me able to see an end in sight. The inspiration I get to push through these tough times often comes from movies or songs. Someone, somewhere, shared their heartache with the world through art. It encourages me to know that the struggles aren’t limited to just my life. Last night, the song “Tomorrow” from Annie was going through my mind.

And it worked. The sun is out, I’m alive and awake, and people in the house are smiling a bit more than yesterday.

Cheesy? Maybe. Hopeful? Definitely.

1982’s Annie was an integral part of my life growing up since I saw it in the theater at age 6. Being able to get through the sadness and tribulations of life- all the while remaining positive- is a strong characteristic of mine because of this film. I never thought that over 35 years later it would help me in raising our teenager. But it did.

I just stick out my chin and grin and say…”

Next Generation Of Milestones

When you have children, there are tons of exciting milestones at a young age:

  • First step
  • First tooth
  • First word
  • First Christmas

Then they get a couple years with a few moments here and there until first day of school. After that there’s not a whole lot more that you can get excited about. About ten years pass by until the next set of milestones.

  • First job
  • First love
  • First car

I won’t celebrate their first kiss. That’s a personal moment- but it’s kind of a big deal for pre-teen/teenagers. Let them enjoy it. Driving their first car or getting a job- that’s a step into adulthood. A scary realization that this is the next stage of life.

Today, our fifteen year old daughter went for a job interview. Sort of. It was more a meet and greet for an opportunity of employment. A former coworker of mine messaged me that her work was looking for some extra part time help. It was nice of her to think of me and my children. It also made this a bit easier for a first job opportunity to our oldest daughter.

So I took our eldest daughter to meet the owner. For the past couple of days I tried to prepare her for what may happen at an interview. The questions asked, the answers she should give, I also told her to study up on the business as well. Driving there, we went over everything again. She was nervous. She was ready to give up before even entering. But she knew she had an opportunity here to get out of the house and make some money.

We walked in and were greeted with some smiles. I saw my former co-worker and introduced my daughter. I then let them be, because as much as I want to tout all the great things about my daughter to an old friend and a prospective boss- this was about my daughter using her courage and showing off who she is. From what I could tell, his afternoon went really well.

We shall see how it goes now. Will she get a call back? Will she be able to do the job? Will she enjoy it? In the end, it’s been a good learning opportunity for my daughter. Whether anything comes of it or not. It has started something deep inside of her- a drive to enter the adult world.

Screaming Children

It’s that time of year again. Parents dragging little kids on errands against their wishes. Kids being taken to Christmas choir nights, or sports events for older siblings, even shopping lately means more families in the stores. These children, when unsatisfied, tend to express their displeasure with nothing more than a scream. A perpetual going-to-run-out-of-breath-at-some-point scream.

And it sucks.

It sucks for the parents. It sucks for the people around, it also sucks for the child. The child who really didn’t want to be there in the first place. Shushing starts, then bribes, usually a phone is handed off, and on the rare occasion- the parent takes the child away. Perhaps to punish the child, but more often than not to give in to the demands of a screaming toddler.

I feel for parents during these moments. I spent five years working at Chuck E. Cheese’s and saw it all. There’s no easy way to deal with it. The tantrums are like a storm that you just need to ride out.

I’m happy that my children are past the age of just screaming. (Although, it was rare that they would even do it.) I now just need them to stop raising their voices in anger at one another. Ugh. So much drama now.

Any advice besides locking them away? They seem to enjoy that “punishment”.

Back in my day…

When I was a child, I remember hearing adults say, “back in my day…”  I used to jokingly say it from time to time as I entered adulthood.  Now I have caught myself saying it more often and meaning it.


Society changes as a collective.  Our standards of how we want to live evolve.  Ten years ago, most people had no idea what a smartphone was.  Twenty years ago, most people weren’t connected to the Internet.  Thirty years ago, people used VCRs to record and watch shows.  Forty years ago, people used rotary phones with no caller ID or answering service or call waiting.  I’m pointing out technology because that seems to be the way our society judges its advancements. The latest and greatest tech gadget, now readily available for your two year old to use.

More often than not, when I’m talking about “back in my day…” I’m talking about how I experienced life.  We didn’t grow up with helicopter parents and bubble wrapped children (those that did that were the odd ones).  My parents let me walk out of the house, jump on my bike without a helmet and wander the neighborhood.  Sometimes I’d meet friends or other kids, sometimes I’d be exploring on my own.  My friends and I would wander up to the corner store and buy lotto tickets at the age of eight.  I could buy cigarettes by age fourteen for my father and no one asked for ID.  This never got my parents in trouble with the law for not being overly protective.  I could go on public transit with my younger sister and the bus driver never asked where our parents where.

If we made mistakes in life, it was a learning experience.  My parents never blamed other people for me being a dumbass.  It wasn’t my teacher’s fault or the people I hung out with.  I owned it & either I learned from it or I did something stupid again until I learned from it.

Now to get to my point- I am a parent of three children.  My oldest is a teenager and her siblings are close behind.  As much as I want to blame people for any mistakes my children make, I know that it is ultimately their own choices that they are making.  I try to give them freedom to discover the world around them and who they are as people.  Planning “play dates” or ensuring that the movies they watch at a friend’s house are PG isn’t offering freedom.  I know that if they want to go out and rebel that they will.  No amount of spyware or GPS will prevent that.  I’m worried that today’s society is overly protective and controlling.  The courts are forcing parents to be glued to their children until they are adults.


So, to my children- get out there and have fun. I’m not going to interfere in every choice you make.  But I will be watching- because “back in my day” I did the same stupid stuff that you are likely to do.

Separation anxiety…

This weekend, our oldest daughter will be going away with her school concert band to perform.  She requested that my wife and I do not chaperone.  It makes me sad that she is at the age now that she doesn’t want anything to do with mom & dad.  I knew it was coming and could already sense that she is embarrassed by her parents (like most teenagers).  I dropped her off at school this morning, helped unload the suitcase from the trunk and offered to take it inside for her.  She refused my assistance and decided she could take everything herself.

She had her backpack on, her flute and music in one hand, & a suitcase in the other hand and was ready to head into the school.  I stood at the back of the car and as she turned to leave, I stole a hug.  At first she squirmed and tried to wrangle free.  But I held her a bit longer than usual.  I could feel her embarrassment slip away and she let me have a moment because no one was looking.  This phase in her life will eventually pass.  I know she cares about her family.  I remember acting in a similar fashion towards my mother at her age.

 

Father/daughter time.

 
Next weekend, my wife and I are taking our two youngest on another road trip.  Our oldest daughter will remain behind with her Oma & Opa.  With the end of the school year closing in, my wife & I knew that we couldn’t take her away from her studies.  Again, I feel that our family dynamic is changing, & my little girl is growing up (and apart from us).  I am saddened by this turn of events, but knew this day would come.  It will also make me sad when our other two children reach this stage in their lives.

I hate to admit this, but a little part of my wife and I are relieved to be traveling without our oldest.  Becoming a teen, our eldest child has made life for her siblings a tad annoying.  There is always a fight going on, bossiness taking over, mumbling under the breath, or a sarcastic answer being given.

The hardest part about parenting is letting your children grow up.  I love my kids and hope they understand why we do what we do as parents.  They need to explore the world and expand their horizons.  I just wish it didn’t come with the bad attitude.