Sure, there was a bottle of premium booze (SF’s own Junipero Gin made by the fine folks at Anchor Steam Brewery, if you must know) in the bag, but still - 100 bucks?!? Jesus H. Christ in a chickenbasket, that’s a lot of dough for one bag o’ groceries. Why, I remember when I could feed my family of 4 for a week on $100. (Not really, but that sounds like the kind of appropriately curmudgeonly type of hyperbole to insert here.)
Last night I got together with a few of the other fathers of kids in my son’s grade. The class isn’t huge, and some of us dads have known each other for coming up on 8 years.
We typically get together every other month or so to hang out, drink some wine, and “plan” an annual springtime camping trip or other outing for the class. Unfortunately, due to a some health and career issues, and a few other extra-curricular commitments, we haven’t met as frequently this year as in years past.
This year has been a tumultous one for my son’s grade. About 1/4 of the class didn’t come back after 3rd grade, there’re a couple new kids, and the gaps between the kids’ academic, social, and emotional development is becoming greater (or at least more apparent).
Anyway, last night ended up devolving into quite the gripe fest, largely spearheaded by one of the dads whose kid is feeling left out. Honestly, after a little while I felt like one of those Charlie Brown kids listening to an adult - “blah blah blah teasing blah blah blah crying at home blah blah blah shutting off his emotions blah dee blah blah blah.”
But still, it’s tough. Regardless of whatever flip attitude I wrote in the preceding paragraph, I really do feel bad for the dad, and for the kid. Hell, I’ve agonized about to what extent I should even be writing about this meeting in the public forum of my blog; I’m conflicted about how to even put down in words how i feel about both the dads’ meeting, and about the issues brought up at it.
One one hand, the kid’s clearly in a low trough of the social cycle, and that’s no fun - I’ve been there myself, and I remember how sucky it is.
On the other hand, my current adult opinion is that we, as parents, can guide and model appropriate and respectful behaviors - and work to help prepare our kids to navigate these kind of situations, but that in important ways, the kids themselves have to learn how to exist within these shifting social-emotional enviroments. No amount of group hug kumbaya singing by us is going to magically solve these issues for them.
Is it better to solve the actual and immediate problems for our kids, or, as painful as it is to be with them as they go through these things on their own, merely to stand by them and provide them with the tools they need to figure it out?
I’m not sure.
OK, I’m starting to rant now, so I’ll shut up.
Sigh. It was a lot easier when the kids were younger. I can just see that this is only the beginning - we’re 3 years away from adolescence with our son, then our daughter will be right behind him.
I’m often asked, “Say, Dadsguide, what’s it like to be an internationally known (1) at-home-dad and pop culture writer?”
Well. Glad you asked! Here’s my Typical Monday Routine, variation B (for use after returning from weekend or longer vacations):
5:33AM - wake to magnitude 4 earthquake (optional)
6:00AM - Ignore 1st alarm to attend fitness class at gym.
6:09AM - Ignore 2nd alarm and sleep until 7:00AM.
7:00AM - Coffee.
7:05-7:35AM - Wake children. Make breakfast. Make Lunches. Eat.
Variation B path begins
8:00 - kiss TLW and kids goodbye as she leaves to drive them to school; get dressed
8:15 - more coffee. check email. listen to various voicemails from vacation
8:25-9:15 - pick up pets at boarder’s
9:15-10:30 - return home. start laundry. make grocery list. make notes for future posts. Conduct minor home and/or office improvements. Begin researching next vacation & travel plans. Read.
Resume Regular Monday Routine
10:30-11:30 - exercise at gym or outdoors
11:30-12:30PM - grocery shopping
12:30PM-2:45 - return home. put away groceries. start more laundry. shower. write.
3:15PM - pick up kids. (Option: after school snack or ice cream)
4:00-5:30PM - drop off son at fencing lesson. Additional grocery shopping and/or other errands as necessary.
5:45-7:00PM - return home; make dinner.
7:30-8:30PM kids bathe (if necessary). Clean up. Read bedtime stories.
8:30-10:30PM - fold laundry (if necessary); adult entertainment time with TLW (2)
10:30PM - lights out
So that’s it. Scintillating, n’est-ce pas? Don’t you wish you were me?
(1) Just saw the great, “Are You Rob Base” flow chart again. Must repost. But seriously - I have readers everywhere.
(2) no, it’s not that, you perverts. We run a family show here - I’m talking movies, board games, playing guitar, reading in bed, that kind of thing. Sheesh.
If you ski or snowboard, it might be difficult to watch this video — provided late Wednesday from Heavenly at South Lake Tahoe — and not get excited for what is finally available in the high Sierra.
The anticipation for the…
Oh man, this is killing me! Last week was like end-of-season skiing - avoiding rocks and crud - and this weekend we’re out of town. Other than being really crowded, I’m sure the skiing’s going to be incredible.
Tuesday night was the kids’ school’s annual Science Fair. Each of the kids between 3rd and 8th grade either do a project or come up with an experiment, and then create a report and presentation about their hypothesis, method, results, and conclusions. So, the scientific method. During the school day, they make presentations to each of the other classes, and in the evening the classrooms are opened up for and hour for the parents and general public.
It’s great. The 3rd graders make a model shelter (everything from igloos made from sugar cubes, to elaborate modern homes from the architect’s kid), the 4th graders created a field guide to native Northern California birds & animals, and the other grades each conducted experiements to parallel what they’ve been learning in their respective curricula, from botany to anatomy to mechanics. Really cool. My personal favorites were the 6th grader who made a 4-wheel vehicle out of old bike parts, and the kid who wanted to see if electricity stimulated plant growth by systematically electrocuting a houseplant (it didn’t).
But boy, were my kids pissed at me! TLW was out of town on business and so I was solo again. I made them both stay with me the entire time and walk me deliberately through the various exhibits, asking guiding, but I’m sure to them inane, questions (“But how do the raccoons communicate with each other?” - even though they’d already seen them all, and wanted nothing more than to run around with their friends. Instead they were stuck with their mean dad having to look at and talk about boring old science experiments.
Well, tough. As I explained, this event wasn’t social deal, it was about the science and the education. Plus, they get to run around with their friends all day, every day, and the evening was family time. And, for my third reason (they actually asked me for three reasons why they couldn’t be with their friends), the evergreen, “Because I said so”. I’m amazed that this rationale, thin as it is, still actually seems to work.
As you can imagine, I didn’t score a lot of Dad popularity points with the kids that night. And they were so foul-tempered that I didn’t even offer to take them out for an ice cream afterwards, which I had fully planned to do before we got there. So there.