- Calvin & Reality
- Calvin: A Million Things That Bug Me
- Calvin: How’s Your Week Gone?
- Calvin: Happiness isn’t good enough
Dear Rachel & Eric:
I shared the article below from today’s paper with your Mother. She’s gloating: “I told you so.” I’m snarling: “This is utter nonsense.” Mom’s espousing “Let Freedom Reign.” Dad’s fencing is well established and flashing warning signals: “Cross the line, you’ll do the time.”
You three, huddled in your sheltered cocoon, will see the light.
Hang on to this post and drag it out when your children reach adolescence, and ask the following hypothetical (NOT) questions:
Do these stories sound familiar? Hmmmmm. Right.
Being a parent, your Parents, has been our greatest blessing.
I can’t wait to watch you shine.
P.S. Re: Having children. Absolutely no need to rush into things.
Study Says Yelling Is As Hurtful as Hitting [Read more...]
“…In Bali, for the most part, the flow of traffic – and of parenting, and of life – is smooth and organic, despite a complete lack of stop lights, road signs, junk food, iPads, or anything resembling a lane or a cohesive set of rules. There is no crazed speeding, no swerving, cursing, angry honking, road rage or middle fingers. It’s true for the whole of Balinese life, actually; there’s just this astonishing sense of flow.
As a result, thanks to endless ritual, offerings, long-standing community connections and a deep, relaxed veneration for all forms of divinity that’s unheard of (if not nearly impossible) in the west, kids turn out sort of… luminous. They tend to be calm and friendly, curious and kind. Like all Balinese, they smile easily. They do not scream and lurch, they do not walk around all sullen and bitchy.
How refreshing. How unlike anything we think we know. How frequently we should keep asking ourselves: How many ways are there to dance this amazing dance, really?”
~ Mark Morford, 101 Ways Not to Raise Your Kid
Image Source: NatGeo Photography by Lisa Hendrawan at Tukad Unda Dam, Bali. This dam is on a river called Tukad Unda in Klungkung, Bali. Locals regularly bathe and wash their clothes here. It’s also a fun place for the children to play.
She turned 21.
Our celebration dinner was at home earlier in the week.
Family was seated together. She was at the head of the table.
Champagne glasses filled. Dad with his Snapple. A Toast.
Her favorites. Cheesy Parmigiano-Reggiano breaded chicken breasts.
Buttery mashed potatoes. Long stemmed broccoli and cheese.
Followed by vanilla flavored birthday cake with thick gobs of frosting.
Cards from Grandparents.
She opens a small box from her Brother. Beaming. She slides on a ring.
I turn my head away to keep it together.
Discussion turns from sharing stories to plans for the evening.
“I’m staying in the city with a friend.”
“You mean you’re not coming home tonight?”
Flash of anger. Rolling to disappointment. Then settling into Sad. Turning deep, down and inward.
Dad’s leaning into a gushing current.
Water rushing over, under, through.
Hopeless to stop it. Yet he keeps trying.
Happy Birthday Honey…
Mom’s + Dad’s: Your gems are?
Adapted from 9gag.com
Eric is four. Relentless. “Come on Dad. It’s time to go swimming.” Pulling on my hand. “Come on Dad. Dad, come on!”
The marble floor in the bathroom is cool and smooth on our bare feet. I watch him struggle tugging on his suit. His little white bottom contrasting against his milk chocolate tan lines. He lets out a whimper in frustration as he can’t pull on his swim shirt.
We step outside.
We had lived in Miami for four years. The sweltering summer heat was still a shock. Swallowing up oxygen. Mixing with the heavy pool chlorine…filling nostrils and lungs.
10am. 91F. And there is still August to go.
Zeke’s paws are scratching. He’s dreaming. His body twitching. I steal a glance at the clock. 1:15 am. I smile. You go from refusing a dog for 20 years, to the animal taking center stage on your bed. Every night. What a tough guy.
He knows. Dogs have a second sense. Even when he’s sleeping, he hears.
Car door shuts. It’s Rachel. Rolling in from her evening out.
I lumber down to her room. Bathroom door is closed. Water is running. I lie down on her bed. Stare at the ceiling. And wait.
Mind whirs back to a moment during the week. I’m driving into Manhattan. Rush hour. Traffic stalled. GPS flashes a 3-mile backup to the Triboro bridge. Beach Avenue and Bruckner. Young girl is holding her Dad’s hand. They are crossing the walkway over I-278. Her passion pink backpack sharply contrasting with the streaks of graffiti. The pair offering up a burst of illumination against the grey of the housing projects and the trash lining the freeway. Their hands and arms sway in unison. Dad smiling. She’s skipping to keep up.
That day, Mind was crocheting stitches of a majestic tapestry. One of family. Of warm spring days. Of light breezes. All storm clouds pushed way south. And the Moment hovered. All week.
Why this moment? This was not an impressionist by Monet. Not a intricate passage by Joyce or a dreamy segue by Murakami. No deep existential words here by Kierkegaard. Not a big win at Work. A Father. A daughter. A pink backpack. Walking over a dilapidated bridge in the Projects.
Steve Layman posted this cartoon last week. It activated an immediate reaction. I laughed. Then said: “TRUE.” Then said “THAT’S ME.” Then psychoanalysis rolled in like a thick soupy fog in the Bay Area. And hangs low and hovers on the “why.” And went on lingering on the 11-hour ride to pick-up Eric from college. Didn’t we just take this emotional empty nester ride a few months back? Time. Whoosh.
Happy 19th Birthday Son.
Your Mother and I were looking at your baby pictures last night. We came across the shot below. You were two months old.
You and I have debated this point. (On Head Size.) Yet, the truth is now inconvertible upon reflection.
Have a great day Eric. Big Head and All…We love you.
Related Posts on Eric:
Rachel: Hi Daddy!
Dad: Hi Honey. What’s up?
Rachel: Daddy, I scored an 88 on a brutal Managerial Accounting Test!
Dad: Wow, that’s amazing Rachel. Well done! I’m proud of you.
Rachel: OK Daddy. Just wanted to let you know. Gotta run.
45 second phone conversation with daughter on car ride home from work. Priceless.
Image Credit: Thank you abirdeyeview
He looked taller. He looked like he had filled out. It had been less than 60 days. An illusion.
We couldn’t make it to Family Weekend in September. I could sense disappointment. His roommates’ parents showed. They graciously invited him to dinner.
It was a short 4-day week at school this weekend. A trip home before Thanksgiving wasn’t in the budget. Many of his new mates on the floor had planned to head home as they lived within a few hours drive. He didn’t want to make the call. He didn’t have to say it. And he didn’t. He wanted (needed) to come home, even if it was a brief weekend stay. And he could catch up with his sister who was home on break.
Dad and Son engaged in their customary near-monosyllabic dialogue. [Read more...]
Yep, that’s about right…
The countdown started on Monday. My first day back from vacation. Rachel is off to school. And three days from an empty nest with Eric packing up for his freshman year. (The short week felt like repeated bouts of getting up quickly from reading on the bed. Disorientation. Stabilization. Disorientation. Stabilization. Grab an arm rail pal. Get a grip. You can’t slow down the clock.)
The Chariot was packed and ready to depart for the 11-hour journey. (No, the King doesn’t pack. The scope of his competency is narrow and deep…and some would argue not that deep. Best for him to stay well out of the way of logistics.)
It was impossible to see out of the side windows. Every square inch of trunk and 1/2 of the back seat was stuffed to the roof top. Changing lanes was a roll of the dice. Normal humans would invest in a car-top carrier, rent a van, or borrow something larger…not this Cat. The $500 expense on top of the college tuition was the tipping point. So, we jammed it all in and off we went.
The King was sitting in a cubby hole behind the driver’s seat. (Oh, what delicious irony. My first memory of Eric was driving him home from the hospital a few days after his birth. I was driving at far less than the speed limit and slipping glances back to see that he was okay.)
I was running the rough math in my head. They have been subjected to over 100,000 “course corrections” during their lifetimes.
Wash your hands. Tie your laces. Look people in the eye. Use a firm handshake. Wipe your face. Keep your voice down. Sit up. Comb your hair. Brush your teeth. Pick up your things. Put on clean clothes. Don’t yell. Get along with your Brother. Get along with your Sister. Say please. Say thank you. Say you are sorry. ENOUGH TV. Read. Get to sleep. Go to the bathroom before we leave the house. Enough candy. Do your homework. Plus 1000 others. And, certainly not all of them delivered with finesse or a light touch. When you are molding a sculpture, some rough chops are necessary. And per the King’s rules, as long as the game is played within the fences and by the house rules, all is good.
In the early days, dinner out entertainment included “I Spy.” Coloring books and crayons. Stacking cream containers to see who could make the largest tower. And, guessing how many sugar packets there were in my hand. Our kids would not create havoc for other patrons.
Fast forward 18 years and we’re sitting at dinner last night. Not unlike one of hundreds of Saturday dinners out with our family since they were toddlers. And a mere few days before the nest empties for the first time.
As we were leaving the restaurant, Susan told me that the Gentleman serving us said: “You can imagine that we see all kinds here. I just wanted to tell you that your children are respectful. They say please and thank you. They are so kind.”
100,000 course corrections. Day after day after day. Some of them must have hit the mark.
I dropped my head and turned away. Men don’t cry.
Photo Source: Eric Kanigan
We’ve been hanging (HANGING) since lunch time Friday when Theresa rushed out of the office to the hospital. (HE’S EARLY!)
Well, the stork has arrived. Alexander Salvatore was born at 11:18 pm last night. He came a bit early (6 weeks)… and a bit light (5 lbs, 7 oz) – - and he gave his Mom a tough time of it…however, everyone is just fine. Congratulations Theresa and Dominic! Strap in for the best ride of your life…
A new day has come
Where it was dark now there’s light
Where there was pain now there’s joy
Where there was weakness, I found my strength
All in the eyes of a boy
Achieve. Acquire another shingle. Another degree. Be the best in your field. In your industry. Be world class.
Learn More. Work harder. Be more. Be exceptional. Be the most you can be.
Set a goal. Pursue it. Achieve it. Exceed it.
Pick any one above and you’ll find my underpinnings. My undercarriage. My foundation.
Yet, this NY Times article Redefining Success and Celebrating the Unremarkable moved me…
…“In our unspoken but not so subtle Darwinian competition with one another — which springs, I think, from our fear of our own insignificance, a subset of our dread of mortality — we have of late, we Americans, to our detriment, come to love accolades more than genuine achievement,” he told the students and parents. “We have come to see them as the point — and we’re happy to compromise standards, or ignore reality, if we suspect that’s the quickest way, or only way, to have something to put on the mantelpiece, something to pose with, crow about, something with which to leverage ourselves into a better spot on the social totem pole…”
It started about a week ago. Rachel asked me to take her into the city. She was nervous. She doesn’t know her way around. She needed to get her paperwork completed and her picture taken for her summer job. She asked me again, 2 days later. And then again. (Why does she keep asking me, when I’ve told her that I would do it? She doesn’t think Dad will show. That’s it. All those other times. One excuse or another usually all tied to work. Couldn’t make it. Something has come up. I’m busy. Mom will take you.)
Thursday night. She asked again. I glare at her. She backs up.
Friday morning. You can see she didn’t get much sleep. She’s nervous. She’s dressed. OMG. My girl is wearing a suit. Nicely dressed. Professional. My eyes well up. I have to turn away.
We’re waiting for the train. It’s early.
Before I left to work early this morning. I happened to flip through Steve Layman’s posts from the night before (a morning ritual). I came across the slogan on the right which he titled “Small Pleasures Add Up.” His post stuck with me all morning.
My daughter spent Easter weekend with us. She was leaving today to go back to school. I had to work today. I had the morning to reflect on her visit as my mind wandered during my meetings – - with Steve’s post lingering as a back drop.
She spent most of the weekend on her favorite couch in the living room. Resting. Chatting. Snacking. Texting.
We’ve all settled in like that comfortable old couch. She’s grown up into a beautiful young woman. Confident. Thoughtful. And, so full of promise. It wasn’t lost on me that there may be few of these cherished moments left before she goes on to make her own life away from Mom and Dad. How many Easter’s would we have left?
She’ll be done with her school year in just over a month. She’d be back home soon. And as I looked over at my calendar, the day was jammed with meetings after the long weekend. I’ll just give her a call from the office and say good-bye.
NO. Not again. I couldn’t miss this opportunity to say goodbye.
I re-arranged my schedule. I left work after lunch to get home. To spend 1 hour with her before she left to catch her train.
She’s gone now.
My eyes well-up as I write this post.
And, I’m trying to think when an hour has meant more to me.
Safe journey Rachel.
Your Dad loves you.
Eric (son) turns 18 in less than a week. Eric is a Mama’s Boy. And Mama and Son are hand-in-glove. They are cut from a similar cloth – both peaceful – both warm and gentle – both kind hearted – both intelligent and humble. And, they share a deep emotional bond.
Meanwhile, there’s Dad circling on the outside looking in.
Mom’s the Nurturer. The Protector.
Dad, on the other hand, is The Beast.
It all started with absentee Dad hearing that Mama was teaching her Son the proper way to use the toilet. (I’ll spare you the details. I still cringe.) That was enough. Ever since Eric was a youngster (after the bathroom incident), Dad has been relentless – - he’s been on the “Man-Up” bus. Tirade after tirade…
“…While Americans fret over modern parenthood, the French are raising happy, well-behaved children without all the anxiety.
…I started noticing that the French families around us (at restaurants in France) didn’t look like they were sharing our mealtime agony. Weirdly, they looked like they were on vacation. French toddlers, were sitting contently in their high chairs, waiting for their food, or eating fish and even vegetables. There was no shrieking or whining. And there was no debris around their tables.