Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Grand Buffet

All you can eat buffets suck. Lets face it, do you need "all you can eat"? I know I don't and I know my son does not need it either. Yet if the option for "all you can eat" is on the menu I usually order it.

At the end of the meal I always feel guilty. I want my son to watch what he eats and if I cannot curb myself, how can I expect him too.

Tonight we went to the eat buffet style. I did not over do it and my son did not either. Baby steps...

What? The dessert is part of the buffet? Be strong...

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Don't try this at home

Walking out into the bright sunlight we all rubbed our eyes. The James Bond matinee double feature was over and we hurried home. We had gadgets to make and bad guys to fight. The rest of the afternoon was spent shooting Lego guns and generally kicking the shit out of each other. It was the late '70s.

Kids like to act out the stories they read, hear or watch. Every generation, from sword fighting and martial arts, to laser battles had its role playing adventure. Is it all just fun or is it training for life as well? The role playing worked on their physical skills and team building qualities. Imagination is also sharpened, after all there had to be a plan to save the world.

The last decade or two has brought another dynamic to the stage. Video games play a huge part in the role playing arena. You have just dropped $60 bucks taking your kids to the latest blockbuster action adventure and on the way home they beg you to stop at the nearest game store to pick up the game version. The rest of the afternoon is spend re-enacting the movie with a controller. Your imagination is hampered since the world is in place already. Your team building skills are not sharpened since you are interacting with a bunch of virtual underlings. Sitting in front of the TV working the controller is not very physical.

Although the video game has changed the scope of role playing its not all bad. Quick thinking and decision making are honed in ways only game simulation can do. You make the wrong decision the first time, and maybe the second time too, but eventually you will learn and achieve your goal. You train yourself to adapt to the ever changing situations in the virtual world. Causality teaches powerful lessons. Is that not training for life as well?

My son can pick up the nuances in a video game in ways I can't grasp. He can always beat me in that world. His mind is active. His thinking is quicker and I can not catch him. In the computer age his decision making is far more accelerated than I was at his age.

As my friends and I run around the playground saving the world, my friend jumps off the monkey bars and sprains his ankle. All the kids stop playing and help him home. Saving the world will have to wait a little while longer. It's getting dark anyway.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Four Questions

Tonight is Passover. The Seder, in short is a celebration of Jewish history and the family. We say a couple of prayers and everyone reads a brief passage. We recall the rough times while giving thanks for the good ones. Then we eat roasted chicken, brisket and potatoes. Its like thanksgiving except no football or Black Friday deals. The best part about the Seder is the four questions. The four questions address the rituals taking place at the Seder.

When the kids were younger the four questions would stray a bit from the traditional inquiry. Here are some of the memorable ones:

-What is that grey stuff on my plate?
-Why do I have to sit up straight if we're supposed to recline?
-Does the shankbone connect to the elbow?
-Why is Herb so bitter, does he have a headache?
-Do we have any dinner rolls?
-Can I get a gefilte fish for my fish tank?
-After dinner can we search for the easter eggs?

Now that the kids are older,
they are more engaged in the Seder.
They might not fully comprehend why they ask these questions, but they understand the meaning behind them.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


Today I made the suggestion to my son and nephew about building a miniature half pipe. They both play with these mini BMX bikes and skateboards that have become the latest in collectibles. The bikes come in all different colors and configurations so if you buy one today, you can bet by tomorrow they will want one in a slightly different combination.

So they were very excited when I suggested we built a mini half pipe. I have no idea how I was going to complete this task. We are away so I have to rely on a scarce tool selection. We get in the car and drive over to Loews. We grab an enormous giant blue shopping cart and make our way past 60 aisles until we spy the lumber. We do not need a lot of wood so we pick through the scraps until we find some pieces to our liking. As we scan the great wall of nails we pick out a few sizes.

We arrive at home after a quick detour to Target to pick out a few more toy bikes. We are now ready to build.

We gather whatever supplies needed to do the job. I measure and cut the curved sides. I show my son and nephew how to cut on a straight line. I drill the holes and screw the sections together. The kids eyes light up as our vision takes form. Now is the hardest part. Bending the wood to fit the steep curves required for a half pipe is a challenge. I slowly bend the wood and hold it in place while the kids work the hammer. After the last nail is tacked into place we slowly stand up and take a step back. There sitting on the patio is a 24 inch long, 10 inch high half pipe. The kids eyes are wide and their mouths are open. We did it! We actually built a mini half pipe just using our imagination and ingenuity.

It cost more than the plastic one at the store but this one is made from our hands. The blister on my finger is worth their jubilation. The swelling of my finger from the hammer will take a little longer to pass. The kids will recall this day long after they remember those toys. I was a great day.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Clothes make the boy

My son is very into his sneakers. He needs to have the "right pair". Being ten years old I think he is starting to work on his identity. When he was a baby he wore clothes just to absorb spit up and pee. As a toddler if the shirt had a cartoon character on it that was just fine. At the age of nine I could sense a shift. He started to ask for clothes he wanted to wear. I was happy to oblige because it was usually some type of sporting brand I wished I could wear every day. What guy does not want to wear his favorite team or sport apparel daily.

Lately friend influence has entered the picture. He sees what his friends are wearing so he wants to wear that also. He does not want his parents deciding on his look. Friend influence has been a battle between parents and kids for centuries. I am not surprised by the desires my son is exhibiting. Is there a line, yes there is. Do I want him to fit in, yes. Do I want him to think for himself, yes. Does he get those $125 pair of Nike's, no.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Class Mom

When my son started school, I made it a point that I would walk my son to school once a week. I always worked long hours so both of us really looked forward to the day I went to work late to spend that time walking with him. This year my wife suggested I sign up for class parent. I usually went on one class trip a year with my son's class but this would give me a chance to spend more time with my son and maybe meet some of the other fathers. School starts and after a week I get the email welcoming the class parents and thanking them for their involvement. I feel good to be part of the class parent group. The introduction meeting will be at 9:00 am the following Tuesday. I am worried about going in late to work, but my wife encourages me to go to the meeting, after all its the first one and you don't want to miss it. Tuesday comes and I am prepared like I am going on an interview. I dress business casual and bring a pad and business cards. I am ready to introduce myself, smile and shake hands.

The meeting is in the multipurpose room on the first floor and I enter promptly at 9:00 AM. The room is crowded and noisy. It is hard to scan the whole room through the crowd but as I do I notice something, I do not see any other men. I say to myself, they are probably all huddled together talking about cars or their portfolios or something else manly. I walk around to get a full sweep of the busy room and my fear becomes a realization, I am the lone class dad.

I notice a table with one of those coffee boxes on it, so I make my way over, I need some coffee to calm me down. I ask the lady standing behind the table if there are cups for the coffee. She looks up at me and says "Can you grab them from the kitchen? and bring some small plates for the muffins?" I reply to her that I am here for the meeting and do not know where the kitchen is. With a confusing look she simply asks, "Are you a class mom?"

I finally get my coffee and grab a piece of lemon pound cake cut into the shape of a triangle. I take a seat in the middle row of neatly lined folding chairs. I try to listen in on conversations around me. Moms talking about their shoes, about their kids and even about other moms. They are either dressed in tennis outfits or in short dresses. I do not understand any conversation. I start to think I am out of my element.

The parents running the meeting make their way to the front of the room and like a flock of geese every one quickly starts to find a seat. I feel like the room is closing in on me as the chairs around me are filling up. The room is now filled with whispering when one mom turns to me and says "It's nice to see a father here, get a man's view on things". Another woman taps my shoulder from behind and thanks me for taking the time to be involved. I suddenly feel my heart jump. Am I about to represent all the dads? Are all these moms going to look to me for the "Man's view on things". These women will tell their husbands that I was there and ask them why they couldn't make the same commitment. That night, men with pitchforks and shovels are going to drag me out of my home and burn me at the stake. Did I break one of the oldest Dad rules, if one dad can take the time to volunteer, why couldn't they do it also? I am queazy.

The meeting starts and after listening to the chairperson speak about how the kids need our help and the importance of the parents communicating to each other I feel better. I am inspired to help. I can organize the parent-teacher conferences, and make copies of field trip consent forms. I can call other parents on snow closings. The meeting is about to break up into smaller groups representing each grade then into each class. I am ready to meet my fellow class parents. There are three of us, one lead parent and the other two assisting. I walk over near the sign stating my son's class and introduce myself as one of the class parents. The two moms introduce themselves and we stand together talking about how we would break up the tasks needed to get done in the first half of the year. They welcome my opinion and seem genuinely happy I am part of their group. Both agree more fathers would bring a better dynamic to the whole process since everybody could benefit from fresh ideas. They made me feel accepted and appreciated, and I feel spirited.

The meeting is coming to an end and I check the train schedule for the next train. I will get to work later than I anticipated but it is all good. I have become a member of an elite group. The Class Moms.

I say goodbye and begin to make my way to the door. I hear a faint yell as the lead mom stops me. She forgot to give out some material, the class list, project ideas and other items. Her face turns a pinkish red as she explains that her daughter wanted to decorate the packet cover since all her friends are doing it for their class parents. She takes the packet out of the bag and hands it to me. It is a simple two pocket folder with papers inside. The cover however is a different story. It is orange, pink and yellow and covered in stickers of horses and kittens. I still use that folder to keep all of my class material.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Dad Trade Meet-up

Tonight was the first Dad Trade meet-up. Three of us met at Pete's Tavern for drinks and to shoot the shit about life's daily happenings. Pete's Tavern claims it's the oldest bar in NY, and it strives on keeping that look. It's dimly lit, the stools are rickety and the bar is covered in about three inches thick of black paint. It's where old kegs go to die. If you can't drink it out of a mug or a shot glass they don't serve it. Exactly the place for men to talk about their feelings! We all have one child but PeterY and I have boys while JerryD has a girl. We talked about our kids playing sports, teaching respect and the triangle. We compared our own upbringing and the survival strategies needed in multi-sibling households and found many similarities. A great discussion regarding beer vs. pot and the parenting dynamics of a boy child vs. a girl child. We drank and told funny stories. There was no chest bumping, high fives or hugging. Just dads shootin' the shit. We walked out in agreement that we needed to do it again.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

If you don't suceed, try, try again...

Here's a post by JerryD 1G:

Its about Confidence

My 10 year old daughter didn’t make the school track team this year. She made it last year, but not this year. It wasn’t because she wasn’t fast enough although she isn’t real fast and it wasn’t because she wasn’t strong enough to throw the shot put, because she is…so why didn’t she make the team? She didn’t make the team because she didn’t try out for the team.

After a bit of conversation and a few tears she revealed the real reason for her decision not to try out for track. It seems one of the little boys in her class told her she would never make it so she should save herself the embarrassment of looking slow and not even run. My first thought was…that little shit! How dare he do that to my little girl. And then after a few minutes of hard thinking of how “we” could get back at him it clicked. It had nothing to do with the little boy and everything to do with my girl’s fear of failure.

It’s been said that “fear of failure” is what drives people to greatness. That may be true but there still needs to be a sense of “I can do this if I try, and if I fail, it’s OK”. That belief starts at home with the parents. It’s up to us to teach our kids that anything is possible but only if we try. Not with what we say but with what we do, how we act, who we are as role models. We need to encourage our kids to step up even if mistakes are made. Most importantly, we need to help them understand that we all fail at some point but the real failure is not trying.

Me, I’m not so worried about track because Girls Softball starts this Friday.

JerryD 1G

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Number Numbness

I like math, I am comfortable doing math and figuring out basic math problems. So if I like math and feel comfortable doing math then why do I feel exhausted after doing math homework with my son. I try to not get frustrated with the process but I feel myself slipping at times. My son's school habits have a simple pattern, if you exhibit confidence in his work, he is very self-assured. If you start to descend, he tumbles into self-doubt. I need to recognize my descend before he starts to slip. When we are both climbing, its a beautiful thing.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Times up...

I went to the doctor a few weeks ago for my routine scolding regarding my general health.
The conversation goes like this:

Doctor: You need to take better care of yourself.
Me: I know, I know.
Doctor: You need to go to the gym regularly.
Me: I try, on weekdays I get up, make my son's school lunch and get ready for work. I work a very full day and then I usually run around picking up my son from various school/sport obligations. When I finally get home we eat dinner, go over homework, get in some play time, get him ready for bed. By that time its 9:30pm. Weekends its driving around dropping off then picking up my son. My working wife and I together to do our household errands. More playtime, then bedtime. Before I know it its 9:30pm again. My only window is 5:30am on weekdays or 7am on weekends and I usually do not make that window.

Doctor: I'm a doctor, have a family and I make time. Are you busier than I am?
Me: ?

He is right, I am going to make more time.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Power of the BFF

We had dinner this evening with friends from the city at The Shake Shack in Madison Square Park. We do not get to see them as much as we want to. They have a little girl who when my son and her were babies became friends. They were never in the same class at school and at first glance seem to have nothing in common. But do not rule out the strength of friendship. Their bond rekindled as soon as they saw each other. While waiting for the buzzer to signal that our dinner was ready, they ran around, played games, all awhile being in a constant state of the giggles. After dinner they took a table off to the side and talked and laughed. Never underestimate the power of the BFF.

Can you say that three times fast?

I know there are shopping contests, writing contests and even eating contests. There are brainteasers and puzzles and spelling bees. Does anyone know this word, "letsgoletsgoletsgo" or "gotobedgotobedgotobed"? I want to know if there is a competition for saying the same words over and over as fast as humanly possible. I think I can be a champion at that.

Side note- After I say it the response is always the same "I heard you the first time"...

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Today I was introduced to Hornswoggle. I am not sure if that's his name or a kind of fictional species. I heard of elves, witches and ogres but never a Hornswoggle. Don't ask me to explain because I simply cannot.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Bracket Buster

How is it that my 10 year old son has gotten a be an expert in picking NCAA Basketball. He is nearly 90% in the first round. Is he a bracket genius? I think I lost every game. My son compared his sheet to mine, looked at me and yelled "In your Face!". Wonder how he is at Lotto?

Friday, March 12, 2010

Trade- (trād) [treyd]
1. An occupation, especially one requiring a skill
2. exchange of items, usually without payment of money.
Verb intr.
1. To make an exchange of one thing for another
1. used by, serving, or intended for a particular trade: trade journal.

This is the The Dad Trade. A community of Dads exchanging real life stories pertaining to a Dad’s relationship with their kids no matter how young or old. We are not ranting about our wives or our jobs. Its about the everyday stories that impact us all, the thoughts, the questions, the angst and the laughs that come along in good times and bad.  

This is an online publication. Initially it will publish every two months. The publication will be in PDF and IPaper format and will be available as a download or email. This web site will be used for promoting the publication, as well as previews of the articles and other information. The articles that appear in each edition will be original works written by Dads. New Dads, Dads with young kids, Dads with teenagers, Dads with grown up kids. All Dads qualify.

They will be funny, sad or anywhere in between.  They can be as short as a half page or as long as you need it to be. The first edition will go live on June 1. The signature tags for the pieces are compiled by the first name and the number of kids you have. For example if you have 1 kid then you are "name" D1 If you have 2 kids you will be “name" D2, 3 kids then "name" D3, etc.

Topics can be a wide range of ideas. Some might be:
Did I just feed my kid frozen pizza for the 3 straight days?
My child is lazy! Was I lazy as a child too?
My kid won the big game, why am I happier than she is?
I just messed up that whole situation; can I still make it better?
I am not cool enough to talk to my kid's friends.
I just told my children their parents are splitting up, why do I feel better?
Telling my kids about someone dying, am I strong enough?

I think you know what The Dad Trade is all about. Experiences Dads can trade with other Dads.

The Dad Trade, all dads qualify….