Sunday, October 31, 2010


The best Father / Son costume I saw all night...

Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy________! (fill in the blank)

We were just finishing dinner when our son asks, "What are your favorite Holidays?" I pause a bit and rattle off brain dead answers like, "Fourth of July and New Years?" My wife, without skipping a beat, gave much more thoughtful answers, "Thanksgiving, Passover and Valentines Day." My son smiles and says "Well, it would be Son's Day if there was one!" My wife and I both respond with the same sediment, "Every day around here is Son's Day!" After a few chuckles, my son says "Halloween, because I get all the candy!!" 

Holiday Season is in full swing...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Today is Parent-Teacher Conference Day. Well it actually is parent-teacher conference weeks as the teachers space out the meetings over the course of a couple of weeks and the school scheduling three to four half days to compensate. In the past the conferences would all take place in the afternoons, basically forcing the working parents to take off time from work to meet the teachers and find out about how wonderful their child is. This year they instituted a few mornings into the mix, giving both parents a chance to participate and for the school to pat itself on the back with the leap right into the 20th century (yes I mean 20th!). Today at 7:50am was our conference, the very first one on the docket.

There is another change in the parent-teacher conference dynamic starting in the fifth grade, the child gets to sit in on the meeting. No more kids sitting outside the classroom, stressing about what is being said on the other side of the door and how much trouble they are in. No, this is a new day where all three parties discuss the work, the problem areas and the goals set forth. 

We enter the classroom, greet the teacher and take our seats. My wife and I on one side and the Teacher and our son on the other, face to face like a worldly summit. My wife takes out a pad and a pen and I for some reason do the same, while my son has a conference worksheet with checks and notes written on it which he did earlier in the week to prepare for this important summit. The Teacher has a copy of the worksheet and some depositions from some of the other teachers. We are ready to commence with the summit.

The teacher breaks down the structure of the classroom, the coursework, and how all the kids are adjusting to fifth grade. The conference worksheet is a two page document where the kids note some of their self realized weaknesses, strengths and their goals to attain. The teacher and my son have an open discussion in front of us about the worksheet and come up with a detailed goals outline while my wife and I take down our own outline to work on at home. The summit goes very well and it sets all parties on a clear path for a successful school year. 

As the conference comes to a close, my son is smiling and relaxed. Though there is much work ahead, my son is excited and confident that he has the support of his teachers and his parents. 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Deconstructing Led Zeppelin

There's a lady who's sure 
All that glitters is gold 
And she's buying a stairway to heaven 

(First Date- Everything is shiny and new)

When she gets there she knows 
If the stores are all closed 
With a word she can get what she came for 

(That first special "sleep over"- you are prepared)

Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh 
And she's buying a stairway to heaven 

(No sleep during the "sleep over")

There's a sign on the wall 
But she wants to be sure 
'Cause you know sometimes words have 
Two meanings 

(The commitment talk, you are happy she's happy)

In a tree by the brook 
There's a songbird who sings 
Sometimes all of our thoughts are 

(The proposal, the quest for the perfect spot, perfect words)

Ooh, it makes me wonder 
Ooh, it makes me wonder 

(Your friends put the fear in you...)

There's a feeling I get 
When I look to the west 
And my spirit is crying 
For leaving 

(The night before the Big Day, are you ready?)

In my thoughts I have seen 
Rings of smoke through the trees 
And the voices of those 
Who stand looking 

(Wedding Day!)

Ooh, it makes me wonder 
Ooh, it really makes me wonder 

(Wedding Night)

And it's whispered that soon 
If we all call the tune 
Then the piper will lead us to reason

(The stick is pink)

And a new day will dawn 
For those who stand long 
And the forests will 
Echo with laughter 

(You are a Father!)

Oh, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, ooh, whoa, oh 

(The first night with your new baby)

If there's a bustle in your hedgerow 
Don't be alarmed now 
It's just a spring clean 
For the May queen 

("Sorry guys, I have to baby proof the house")

Yes, there are two paths you can go by 
But in the long run 
There's still time to change 
The road you're on 

(Saving for your child's future, time to sell the sports car.)

And it makes me wonder
Aw, uh, oh

Your head is humming and it won't go 
In case you don't know 
The piper's calling you to join him 

(Doctor says "Time to give up the hoagies")

Dear lady, can you hear the wind blow? 
And did you know 
Your stairway lies on the whispering wind?

(Mid-life already?) 


(Too late for that...)

And as we wind on down the road 
Our shadows taller than our soul 
There walks a lady we all know 
Who shines white light and wants to show 
How everything still turns to gold 
And if you listen very hard 
The truth will come to you at last 
When all are one and one is all 
To be a rock and not to roll

(You realize that even with all the highs and lows, the pressures and jubilation, the insecurities and the elation, you are right where you want to be, embracing the love you have for your family and as a father, you need to be the rock and must not roll...)

And she's buying a stairway 
To heaven...

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Undeniably Un-tired

"Are we almost finished?" My son whines on our walk. Today was an unusual fall Saturday, a Saturday with no plans. Football practice was cancelled and since my son was on a three day school trip, we did not make any other plans in fear he will be tired. It being such a nice day, we decided to take a nice walk in the park that runs along the river. My son was not to receptive to the idea, but we made it fun for him, doing funny walks, small games of tag, and singing songs as we walk along. One of the incentives offered as a bribe was that we would get pizza for lunch after we walked for at least an hour. After we finished the walk and enjoyed a slice of pizza at our favorite place in town, we made our way home. As we walk home, my son's tired body gave way to a tired mind. You can see his whole body language change from happy to sluggish, to a crawl as we round the corner to our apartment building. We planned on going over to the school to watch the varsity football game, but by the time we enter our apartment, my son's body is on empty. He takes off his hoodie and stumbles into his room and sits on his bed, looking emotionally raw. You can always tell when my son is beyond tired because the more you ask him if he is tired, the more he insists he is not. He can barely keep his eyes open but will will never just say he is tired. " The most you will get out of him is "A little..." which to my wife and I translates into "Yes I am very tired, but I will never admit it." 

I decide to go over to the game anyway, because if I leave for an hour or so that might quiet him down enough to rest, and I did really want to see the game. I stay at the game for about an hour and a half and once I saw that the game was well in our favor (they were up by 21 points with two minutes to go) I walk home. I hang up my jacket and enter my son's room. My son's face looks rested, and he feels better . I am glad he recovered and realize I am a bit tired now and want to relax. That is when my son asks me if I want to go to the field to throw the football around. I look up at him from the chair I just planted myself in and reply "Sure, let me get my jacket." 

We play at the field for a little over an hour and as it gets close to darkness, I plead with my son to head home. After a few "Just one more pass." and a few grunts, he agrees to leave the field and go home. At 8:30 my son goes to bed, a half an hour earlier and quickly falls asleep. I finally hit the chair, body sore from a very active free day.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Philadelphia Freedom

"Dad, it's 6:22am, we should go now..." My son says as he packs his lunch into a nylon back pack. We leave and walk down the one block to the school, running into classmates and parents along the way. We enter the school and you can sense the excitement right away. The kids are bleary eyed but are fueled with adrenalin as they scramble to find their class meeting section. The Parents are trying to follow through the somewhat organized pandemonium of the lunchroom, all while lugging a suitcase. My son finds his class, checks in with the class parent and is given a baseball cap. The denim colored hat will identify them with the school and announce to the world that this group is the "Class of 2018".

After 45 minutes of assembly, checkins and picture taking by parents, its time to get everyone on the coach busses stationed outside. The busses are loaded by class in which my son's class is slotted third. When it is their class is called, the kids rush to the pile of suitcases, find their bag and proceed in a parade, exiting the lunchroom. There is a pileup of kids, suitcases and parents all trying to squeeze through the doorways and follow the kids out. I make my way out a different set of doors on the other side of the lunchroom so I am now positioned in front of the pack and ready with my camera as my son and his friends walk and talk their way through the front hall of the school. 

The sun is just peaking out now as the kids bunch together by the side of the bus, each taking turns seeing how far their bag goes into the belly of the coach bus. The slow process of getting the kids through the door of the bus is slowed down by parents desperately trying to take one last photo of their child and friends. As the last of the kids enter the bus, the parents are all standing around, talking to each other about their child, about how much fun the kids are going to have, and what they will do while their child is away. 

The doors close and the bus driver presses the engine start button and the bus roars to life. The lights flicker on inside the cabin and I can see my son sitting around the middle of the bus. He turns his head and notices me waiting for the busses to leave. He does not know if I see him, but leans toward the window and waves hard. I wave back. 

I walk away as the busses are slowly moving forward, ready to travel to Philadelphia for three days of museums, colonial history and hanging out with their classmates. I think I miss him already.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tackle Fire

"White Team! White Team!" The coach roars and three players hit the field for substitutions. Being the first substitution group, the white team needs to stay focused and ready to get in the game at a moments notice. My son races into the huddle to get the play and the count. Knowing what everyone's assignment is now, the offensive line marches to the line of scrimmage. My son, playing left tackle, checks his splits and fortifies his stance. The whole line is frozen in time as the quarterback runs through the count. On the third hut, the line reacts, building a wall of steel to protect the backfield. The left tackle is battling hard against a taller player but defends his ground. The quarterback releases the ball right over the tackle's head and connects into the receivers hands. The receiver rockets forward and runs sixty yards for the touchdown. The line races down the field for the extra point which is successful on a run up the middle. My son runs off the field and I slap him on the shoulder pads. "Great job on the block!" I holler. 

The team fought hard today against a faster and older team and though we lost the game by one touchdown, the team was in it battling until the final whistle blew. Proud of the Blue Devils, proud of the white team and proud of my son. 
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Thursday, October 14, 2010


Setting: Morning commute
Time: 6:58am
Place: Platform of the Metro North Hudson Line heading to Grand Central

"Hello!, How is everything?" I spot a fellow commuter and father to one of my son's friends from school. "Hey, how are you, its been a long time..." The father acknowledges back. We board the train and find a spot in the car where the two cushioned benches face each other. He sits in the middle of a bench with three seats. I sit on the opposite bench, taking the aisle seat. We are diagonal from each other, the perfect train distance to converse.

"So how is your son adjusting to fifth grade?" I start the conversation. "Oh, just fine, and your son...?" he echos back proudly. "Starting to get into the swing of things I guess." I respond.  "How is your son enjoying football?" Is the next question, this time directed at me. "Oh, he loves it, he is learning a lot and enjoying his teammates." I genuinely reciprocate.  I volley in, "And how does your son like it?" "Yes, he is enjoying it as well, he is getting used to the hitting..." He returns. We comment about the boy's schedules and other small talk items.

A pause in the conversation as we both check our phones like we are expecting a call from the White House.

"Is your son ready for the school trip next week, it sounds like they are going to have a blast" I serve. "Oh that trip sounds fantastic, he cannot wait until next week." He answers.

The conversation seems to come to a close as we both stare at our phones again, delicately typing and scrolling through text. I look over and just a few rows back are three women engaged in a non stop conversation. Their exchange covers their kids, schoolwork, their husbands, what they had for dinner last night, doctors appointments, a article of clothing they purchased, the book one just finished, and how that happens to be the one the other wants to read, the weather, and even their pets.

The train is slow through the tunnel as the conductor states over the intercom, "Arriving at Grand Central" I gather my things and we both stand up at the same time, awaiting for the train to stop and herd out onto the platform. "So, those Mets had one terrible season." He serves. "Oh please, the worst I have seen in a long time!" I exclaim back. Then we both start ranting about the team, the players, the management, their record, and the changes needed for next year. "Excuse me.." I hear between our banter. The three women are standing behind us as we are blocking the doorway. We move out of the way and make our way up the stairs, all the time partaking in the non-stop discussion.
We reach the top of the stairs are a standing in a valley and the foot of two enormous concrete ramps extending in opposite directions inside the cavernous structure of Grand Central Terminal. "Well have a good day and I will will see you soon." I say as I head up the westbound ramp towards the concourse level. "Ok, See you." He replies as he heads up the east ramp.

7:35 am, I push through the doors and onto the busy sidewalk, on my way to the office.

Halloween Firsts

"I do not think I want to dress up for Halloween this year." my ten year old son says over dinner. I look at my wife and she looks at me and a hint of sadness washes over us. Halloween is truly a kids holiday, full of costumes, scary stories and of course mounds of candy. 
When kids are very young they have no say about the costume they wear, and since babies cannot talk or do much else, parents have carte blanche to drape their children in the most cute and cuddly costumes they can find. When my son was an infant, we, like all parents do, wanted to make his first Halloween special, and memorable for us. There was going to be a parade of kids around the building complex we lived, with awards given in numerous categories and we were up for the competition. Upon browsing the costume aisle at the store there seemed to be an abundance of butterflies and angels, bears and superheros. I am envisioning a race car outfit or mini-football player for my little guy, but those seem like obvious selections. When my wife showed me her choice it fit perfectly. That's when my creative wife and I went all out in the first of many Halloweens to come. 

Between feedings, baths and diaper changes, my wife and I researched, sketched and planned like set designers the theme our infant son would parade around town that Halloween. Our bright idea was not only to dress him up, but since he was not walking, why not dress up his buggy as well. We were so proud of ourselves and that our son was lucky to have parents so forward thinking and creative. The materials we purchased ended up costing more that the actual costume, but everything needed to be perfect for our boy. After the precise cutting, folding, staging, and pasting, the plan was taking form. When we were finally finished, we stood around the parade float buggy, amazed with ourselves and excited to show off our creation. We were all set.

Halloween arrives and most of the day is like any other way of the week, I went to work, my wife took care of our son. I knew the parade was going to start around 4pm so I leave work early (a rare occurrence in those days) but this was important, showing the neighborhood how such great and talented parents we are, and our son's costume. I get home close to parade time and my wife is trying to dress my son in his costume, and he wants nothing to do with it. I begin to stage the buggy with its design. I am taping down sections and adjusting parts when my wife puts our son in the buggy. Everything looks great until he notices the colorful pictures staged around him. Like any child would do, he investigates the decorations and pulls on some of the constructed items. I am trying to distract him from ripping the papery to shreds before we make it outside. We finally arrive at the playground where the parade is supposed to start. The sky is cloudy and the threat of rain is strong. People notice the buggy and come over, oohing and aahing over our creation and how cute our son looks. We thank them for their kind words and say things like "Oh, it was nothing" and "We had fun doing it." 

Our son on the other hand, does not comprehend what all the accolades are about. He sits in his buggy, dressed in a hot itchy fuzzy jumpsuit. The festivities of the day, the parade, the music and seeing the flashy costumes is what he enjoyed the most. We rush home after the parade and before the downpour sets in. We do the feeding, bath and diaper change routine and lay our son down for sleep. My wife and I both close the bedroom door and walk into the living room. I spot the buggy, papered, and taped up with our hard work. "What do you want to do with the buggy stuff?" I ask. "Lets take it off." My wife responds. I precede to strip the buggy down until it is restored to its original look.

As we lay in bed that night, we recall the events leading up to Halloween and the fun we had with it, after all it was not only our son's first Halloween, it was our first as parents. 

“I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by Dad Central Consulting and they sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.”
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Stories of Stupidity- Story 2

I arrive at Grand Central Station in a rush to get to work. I stand by the door as the train door opens and speed up the ramp, and enter the vast cavernous concourse. It is 8:45 AM and there are more people zigzagging through Grand Central than in most small cities. As I enter the concourse, out of the corner of my eye the flash of a person catches my eye. There is a man, falling to the floor. He is about fifty years old, bald, dressed in business attire. He is probably on his way to work just like every other day.  This morning is different. The man hits the floor and breaks into a seizure. I watch him for about one second then look around to spot one of the heavily armed first responders roaming the station. After spotting no one, I run to the information booth and notify the attendant. At that point I feel like I fulfilled my responsibility. I am not a doctor or an EMS technician so I could not really help him medically. As I walk away I look back to see a crowd gathering around and he is receiving medical treatment. I feel relieved knowing he would be okay and chances are it was not the first time this happen to him.
I thought of that guy was I exit Grand Central and walk the four blocks to my office. That guy will not remember anything during his seizure, he basically blacked out. Blacking out, in other words passing out or fainting is when some level of trauma occurs and you loose go dark for a few seconds. The feeling you get is a quick hot rush, and the appearance of everything slowing down to a crawl right in front of your eyes. The next thing you know as your eyes gradually begin to re-focus, there is a crowd of people gathered around you. You have no sense of how much time has elapsed; it feels like hours when it’s only seconds. I know this feeling because I have experienced blacking out in the past. I do not know why it happens but  I recall the feeling of re-focusing my eyes to find people standing over me.

The Great Summer Bake-off (circa- the 1980’s)

We start running from the parked car to the ferry as fast as we can. The parking lot seems to be a mile long and the only spot available is by the very farthest corner from the dock. I have never been to Fire Island, a small island off the coast of Long Island, where people from the city rent houses for the summer. It was a blazing hot summer weekend as the ferry docked after the half hour ride; everyone on the boat was ready to hit the beach and the bars. We disembark the ferry and make our way to Brett’s house. Brett, sort of a friend of a friend invited my friend Lee and Lee invited me. We were both single and in our twenty’s, the perfect demographic for this island. We arrive at the house, stow our bags, change into bathing suits and hit the beach. It’s about 11am and the sun is already full on. When we get to the beach Lee and Brett lay out their blankets, I spot a volley ball net. I am not one to lay on a blanket all day so I make my way over and get into a game. After about an hour of playing one of my teammates points out that I am getting a little red from the sun and wants to know if I want any sun lotion. He hands me a bottle of Coppertone with a SPF of 10 (Which if I recall correctly was the strongest they had in the 80’s). I put it on my neck and face, then take off my shirt and layer my whole body with protection. Felling good that I protected myself, I proceed to play game after game of volley ball.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Things get clearer...

"I am so happy everything is ok and he is fine" I say to my sister on the telephone. Her eight week old son (my nephew) is asleep in the recovery room. The little guy just endured a three hour surgery to locate and fix a blockage in one of his kidneys. The doctors found the problem and were successful in clearing the blockage. He will spend a couple of nights in ICU and should be released on Saturday. No doubt my sister struggled through the surgery, but knew in her heart he needed help and this is the best thing she can do to protect him.

My son had his adenoids taken out when he was five. He had chronic sinus issues and the surgery to remove the adenoids helped him a great deal. We worried for most of his infant and toddler years about his development and when the doctor recommended surgery, the answer was evident. We knew it would be hard on us and on him, but it would be a tremendous relief, and five years later, it has been. 

My friend's son has some learning disabilities. Things just did not feel right in the growth process and became more pronounced in his schoolwork. Teacher meetings, tutors and long nights struggling with homework nothing seemed to make things click easier. The diagnosis was hard to pinpoint, but when the puzzle finally came together, and a plan mapped out, it was like opening his eyes to a new world.

Doctors visits, batteries of tests, and evaluations can drive parents and kids to the brink of frustration. Parents worry about the chances of things being out of the ordinary and children fear pain and the unknown. In the end, after the diagnosis and a course of action is set in motion, frustration subsides and you move past the fears, then things get clearer...

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Good, Bad, Other

"Yes, yes, yes." my son repeats during my little talk. I usually translate his yesing into 'I am just saying yes but I am not really listening', but this time it does seem like a actual response. "You have to decide.." I say, trying to be serious, "...which side of the fence you want to be on, the good work side or the not-good work side".

My son, taking an ambitious path, decided to finish a project during a study period and hand it in early, which I commend him on. The downside is that he did not fully understand the material and handed in sloppy and incomplete work, resulting in a marginal grade. I explained to him the importance of letting someone look it over or better yet, showing it to the teacher and ask for guidance before submitting an assignment. I want to show him that while his intentions are good, his planning was poor. I am stuck in the middle of a balancing act between showing the new age relaxed parental guidance, and the old school drill sergeant approach. 

I am finding more and more that a combination of the two work best...

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

In your Eyes...

"He reminds me of me" I say to my wife at the dinner table. "I think he reminds me of me." my wife counters. Both of us are talking about the problems and struggles we had as children and of course see hints of them in our son. We both fear that our weakest traits, shyness, insecurity, learning challenges, transferred from us into our son and basically loaded him up with the worst in both of us. I am sure that is the reaction of many parents when reliving their childhood through their kids eyes. We have all the memories, all of the past scenarios we wish we can just redo like an armchair quarterback. 

Those learned experiences seem to be what parents draw from most when raising children, statements like "I do not want my kid to go through what I went through", or "I do no want my kids making the mistakes I did." are fears that drive parenting, but it does not have to be the case. I think of all the fantastic qualities my son has inherited in my wife and myself.

My son's personality traits include focus and determination, both qualities my wife and I possess. My son has an distinct eye for art and color, qualities in my wife's category. My son has an ear for music and dance, things I enjoy. My son has a no quit attitude, things my wife and I both draw upon for success. My son has athletic ability, strength, and sportsmanship, traits he gets from me. My son is lighthearted and resonates warmth, two of the reasons I love my wife. Most of all, my son has a sense of compassion, for his family and for helping others, both qualities giving him tremendous character, something he has earned on his own.