Family · Kids · Personal thoughts

Don’t Run Out of Words.

My oldest daughter talks a lot. I don’t mean she’s a bit chatty or above average in the amount she speaks, I mean she fills every possible silence with words. She was an early talker with a large vocabulary with the ability to form sentences from quite a young age. She hasn’t stopped since.

As understanding as we are as parents, the incessant chatter starts to grate on our nerves eventually.

I am an introvert. I need time to process things and a constant barrage of conversation isn’t something I enjoy. I value silence. I do like to talk to people, but I do not do well with talking for talking’s sake. As you might imagine, the torrent of conversation that comes out of my daughter’s mouth is something, that at times, I have trouble dealing with.

One evening this past spring we were having dinner as a family. My oldest was talking as if the fate of humanity depended on the sheer volume of words that she could say.   I don’t know what made me do this, but something made me decide to have a bit of fun.

“Honey, I’m worried. I think you should slow down.” I said to my daughter. She looked at me a confused expression crossed her face.  “You’re going to run out of words.”

I then proceeded to explain, completely deadpan, that your voice-box is a physical structure and after so many words it will break down and you won’t be able to talk anymore. She asked me how many words does someone get and I explained that no one knows an exact amount, only that she was using hers up at a very alarming rate.  I fielded additional questions with true sounding falsehoods and I had her convinced.

My wife went along with this farce completely because she is awesome and we laughed about it later that night when the girls were in bed. My daughter chooses her words carefully for that night and the morning after. She must have started her doubts because she asked her teacher to confirm what I said about everyone having a limited number of words, and he debunked me. I imagine he had quite the laugh when he was asked the question though.

This little joke of mine had an unintended consequence. My younger daughter heard what I said and took it to heart. She is quieter than her older sister so it took us a little while to notice she was not talking as much. It wasn’t until she started writing little notes to my wife and me instead of talking that we realized something was amiss. We asked her why she was writing the notes and she answered with big tears in her eyes that she didn’t want to run out of words.  We told her that I played a prank on her older sister and I saw instant relief cross her face.

Personal thoughts · Writing

Get Out of the Groove

I remember the day my oldest daughter became mobile; I had laid her down on a tummy-time mat while I was doing something on the computer. I felt something touch my leg and voila, baby at my feet. I set her back on her mat and she crawled over to me again. I was a proud papa and called my wife, who was at work, to tell her. We were both excited, but it made my wife upset that she missed that milestone. I can understand I have missed my fair share of things.

I hate missing moments.

I hate the fact that my and other parents’ working years coincide with all of a child’s developmental period. We miss so much. From birth and beyond, they spend large pieces of their lives with other people. Daycare providers, teachers, grandparents, and many others take your place when you are not there. Even when a baby is first born we only are allowed a few weeks away from our jobs.

You can’t go back and see firsts. You can’t make kids unsay their first word, or take back their first steps. They insist on growing up in a blink of an eye and making you wonder where the time went.

I know where the time has gone.

We are all time-travelers. Unfortunately, we can only move forward and we never get to go back. We are allotted a limited amount of time in our life.  It is a finite resource, with which we are frivolous. We waste so much of our time, and you cannot reclaim what you have lost. You can, however, slow time down.  You have to break your routines and not get into a groove.

We try to squeeze in as much time as we can during the work week. We try to do something special on the weekends. Something seems to come up, or you are tired. Plans get canceled and you fall into the groove. All the days blend together.

Once you start having days that are almost exactly the same then those days fade in your mind. String enough of those days together and whole chunks of your life turn into mist and you only remember the times when something was different. Remember the time three weeks from last Thursday when you had an uneventful commute to work?  No, of course, you don’t.  But I would wager that you remember the wreck you were involved in two decades ago.

Last week, I took some time off from work. The girls’ summer break is now over, and I wanted some time to decompress and time to spend with the kids before they went back to school.  The week was nice, we had fun, ate too much ice cream, and it was over all too soon. Monday comes and with a heavy heart, I resume the routine: Commute to the workplace, do work, commute home and dream of more time off.

That Monday morning was hard, I sat on the couch and dreaded going to work. Don’t get me wrong, I am not complaining about having to work. I am grateful that I am employed and able to provide for my family, but my family is the reason I do what I have to do. I would much rather stay at home instead of going to a building where they expect me to do tasks that I would rather not do and spend at least 40 hours a week with people I can barely tolerate.

This is why I want to start making more memories. I don’t want to look up and find that all of a sudden my kids are moving out of the house to go to college. I want to slow the ticking of the clock. I want my kids to look back and remember moments with my wife and me. I don’t want to stay in the groove. I want to start taking more moments to enjoy life.

Personal thoughts

10 Years

 

Do you remember being ten years old and looking ahead to twenty?  Back then it seemed like an eternity.  Graduating high school and going to college was such a distant thought that it didn’t even seem real.

You play with your friends and you spend time with family. The day to day routine of childhood makes you live for the moment, not thinking about the future. Something was happening between these ages, even if you were unaware of it. You were becoming an adult, and these were the years that set the foundation of your life.

Today is my daughter’s birthday, she turned ten. Yesterday she was 5, and the day before that she was being born.  This is an obvious exaggeration of how fast time moves, but not of how fast that time feels. I am going to wake up, one day soon, and watch her walk, with a mortar-board on her head, down the graduation aisle to the tune of “Pomp and Circumstance.”

The first ten years are over. All the ground work for her personality has been laid. The flowers and fruits of her mind have blossomed and she now has her own way of looking at things. I can not pin point when she stopped being a kid and became a young woman but it happened.

I remember ten. I remember the way I looked at the world.  I essentially look at the world the same way now as I did then, only with a little more knowledge and experience to temper my expectations.

I worry that I am not doing the best job teaching her the things that she will need to know to be a good person.

I hope she figures things out quicker than I did when I was growing up. I have high hopes for her. She is so smart and has a such a kind heart, but she’s not a pushover.  The sky’s the limit for this kid if she will only seize her potential.

My wife told me my daughter was upset that I had to work today. Disappointing my kids breaks my heart. It is the last thing that I want to do in this life. I am writing this on my lunch because knowing that I am not there in person has made my mind be there.

I wonder if she will read my blog once she gets older.  I hope she does. If she does I also hope she understands that the last thing I wanted to do while she was growing up was leave for work as much as I did.  I try to make as much time for my kids as I can. It probably isn’t enough.

I love that I get to introduce her to different books, movies, and music. The stories that were important to me when I was young. She asks me questions about how the world works and we learn together. I play pranks on her and we will watch science documentaries and funny vines together.

I haven’t seen her as much this summer because she has been gone a lot: camp, sleepovers, swimming parties and etc. I have a feeling that the amount of time she is absent will only be greater the older she gets. Makes me sad but she is growing.

She is going to do great in life.

 

Personal thoughts · Writing

Why I Write…

I have always been an avid reader. I love the way words affect me and how they put the pieces of the world in an order I can understand. It is magical the way a simple phrase or story can bring people to laughter, tears, or any emotion between. Words are powerful and full of meaning.

I am saddened when someone tells me that they do not like to read. I pity the person that discards reading as frivolous or as a waste of time.  I cannot even fathom that kind of thinking. I lose myself in books and the worlds they create. I travel across an infinite Omniverse to different worlds, and the only vehicle that is necessary are the words on a page.

I am tired of always being the passenger on the literary journey. It’s my turn at the wheel. I want to steer the reader’s ship in the uncharted territory of my imagination. I am not as proficient at painting a picture with words as I would like to be, but I am improving. I am reading writing blogs and listening to writing podcast. I have started sharing my thoughts and experiences with you, my readers.  I hope to find my own voice. I want a life less ordinary.

Staring at a blank page I know what I want to say but the words come out wrong. It feels like the mechanics and structure of turning the words into sentences, and sentences into paragraphs get in the way of the raw information I want to share.

Grammar is a concern. It makes me wish I had paid more attention in 8th Grade English.

I can not tell you how many commas I stare at and wonder if it belongs or not. I check to make sure I am writing in the active voice and not the passive. I try to use forceful verbs instead of adverbs. I write and revise, rewrite and re-revise, and beat my words to death until they make a semblance of sense.

I believe that most of the rules for the English language were drawn out of a hat at random and change every leap year to keep us on our toes. If you see any of the mistakes I have made, be kind, I am getting better.

I hope people enjoy reading what I write. It’s harder than I thought opening up to let my words out. Most of you reading this blog are strangers and have no vested interest in sparing my ego with critical judgments. That being said, most people are kind and provide positive feedback.

I feel like a fraud at times. When I read my words on the page they seem so sub par. I can only try to improve. A part of me thinks the uplifting comments are coming from people that are being nice. I try to dismiss these thoughts that come from the negative aspect of my personality. The one that tells me that I am wasting my effort and that I am not good enough. I can’t listen to that side of me.

 

I won’t stop

 

 

 

 

 

Personal thoughts

Going With the Flow

My wife and I had arranged a rare night out this past Friday. We decided to go a Cincinnati Red’s game and enjoy each others company while engaging in a session of people watching. The weather wasn’t cooperating. The humidity was around 99.9 percent and showers were moving into the area. Being the troopers we are, we would not let Mother Nature deter us in our quest for a kid-free, date night.

We started our journey behind schedule. This is not unusual for us, we are typically at least a few minutes late to about everything.  We packed a cooler, stopped to pick up food, and made our way downtown. Anyone that goes downtown, for an event, knows that finding a place to park is one of the prime concerns. Neither my wife nor I know the ins-and-outs of downtown driving, and finding a parking spot involves a lot of meandering around looking for parking garages close to the stadium.

The navigation went awry. We took a right onto a street and it ended up being the on-ramp to the bridge going to Newport. Once you take that right-hand turn there is no way not to cross the river to Kentucky.  (For those people reading this that are not familiar with Cincinnati, downtown and the stadiums are adjacent to the Ohio River. The bordering towns on the Kentucky side of the river are Newport and Covington.)   Due to construction and ever changing traffic patterns,  it is extremely inconvenient to cross the river going from state to state even if it isn’t rush hour.

We intended to bust a u-turn, cross the same bridge, and resume our quest to go to the Red’s game. This plan deflated before it even got off the ground. Orange barrels and construction signs blocked the path of the lane heading Northbound back across the bridge. We had reached a decision point.

Do we drive back to the interstate and have a second go at downtown driving, or do we abandon mission?

The humidity. the on-again-off-again rain-showers,  the fact we were coming up on being an hour late for the game, all played a part in our decision.  We gave up on the Reds game.

We went to the movies instead.

A wonderful time was had. Marriage Batteries recharged. I am glad we didn’t let a small detour ruin our night.

Flexibility is important in a relationship. This was a minor instance, but it illustrates a broader point. Plans and situations change, and you can either let them affect your attitude, or you can roll with the punches.

 

 

Personal thoughts

Hard Questions

 Where do babies come from or what happens when we die?

 
These type of questions are the ones that many parents dread.  Once your kids are old enough to put some thought into how the world works their curiosity will cause them to ask deep philosophical questionsThe times that I make an answer up is rare. I don’t mind trying to explain these things on an age appropriate level to my kids. I enjoy the opportunity as a way to glimpse how their little minds work.  This is the chance to teach them to be thoughtful people.
 
I prefer giving them a simplified version of the truth as opposed to a well-meaning falsehood. 
 
I don’t like to lie to my kids. We, my wife and I, tell the standard lies: Santa Clause, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, etc. The big questions that they ask are important to them, and I want to be honest as possible without introducing any biases. I don’t want them carrying around my baggage. I want them to make up their own minds and think for themselves.  I have met people that have had all their thinking done for them. They are shallow and severely co-dependent.
 
I encourage free-thinking. 
 
My 7-year-old is quite the little thinker. She will hold onto a thought and mull it over for days. Then, out-of -the-blue, she will ask a question, and it will make you stop and think before you can deliver an answer.  The subject matter can be heavy, but I try not to shy away from responding. Last summer when she was only 6  she asks me where does your mind go when you die.  That’s a whopper. I don’t want to traumatize my kids, but I also want to be open with them. After chewing on my words for a few moments I told her the truth as I see it.
 
I told her that I don’t know. That no one has proved anything one way or another. No one knows what happens when we are gone.  She asked me what I thought, and I said that it’s like a TV turning off. You just aren’t there anymore.  
 
The next day she asked me why earthquakes happen.  I was much better prepared to answer that question. 
 
The questions I hate the most are the hurtful ones.
 
Why is one of my classmates mean to me? Why do other kids make fun of me I get made fun o?
 
These are harder to explain. I remember those feelings and the self-blame that goes along with them.  I usually ask for more information. If my kids tell me what happened, and they were somehow in the wrong I use this as a teaching moment. The worst is when they don’t know why someone is being mean to them. I want my kids to be better than me with emotion and dealing with others.  I try to convey to them that sometimes when someone is nasty to other people they may not like themselves very much. Then they project their negative feelings onto others.  I try to make it clear to my kids that if they didn’t do anything to that person, then it isn’t their fault. 
Personal thoughts

I am most definitely not a robot…

I am most definitely not a robot…

I have a hard time with feelings and emotions, its not like I don’t experience them, I just feel like they happen deep under the surface if that makes sense. I have been told I am hard to read and a lot of the time I don’t really feel like I connect with people right away.

I try.

Fake it till you make it as the old saying goes.  I think about the proper reactions in situations and wonder if I am feeling a proper level of the expected emotion for the current situation.  This is something I have always considered.  Do we all feel emotions the same? Does my happiness feel the same as yours?  Of course, these are impossible questions to answer, but it does make one wonder.

I see other people traversing the battleground of social interaction and it boggles my mind how easy it seems for them. I get nervous and a bit anxious when I am interacting with a new group of people. I am not sure of how the social contract works when meeting new folks.  It takes sometime for me to acclimate to the a new person. I almost never hit it off with someone right off the bat.

My emotional retardation doesn’t mean I don’t care about people, quite the opposite, I care deeply for others, but  I don’t let them past my guard. I put up the Great-Wall-of-Robby and let a very select few inside. I am not sure why I am like this.

I still put myself out there, even if I am introverted, because I still like to talk and laugh with people, its just so much harder for me than for others, it seems. I wonder what it actually is?  What genetic jumble or childhood situation has caused me to have a difficult time with interaction. I just rarely feel completely comfortable with people. Its ok though. I am good with myself that is what matters.

I spend a lot of my time in my own head.

I don’t mean to seem cold and I am not ignoring you.  I promise, I did look for the thing that was right in front of me, I just didn’t see it. I laugh at the wrong places. I am quiet. I don’t like the obvious and I hate to feel put out.  My nature is to listen, observe, and take the time to process before I have a reaction. These traits seem to be off putting for some people.

Confession time.

I do silly little things to avoid awkward small talk. I will provide a small list to provide an example of how weird I am:

  • I will slow down or speed my walking pace to avoid notice by people that I think are going to interact with me.
  • I will wear my headphones with no music or anything playing to deter small-talk.
  • I will act like I am walking past an occupied elevator so the person won’t hold the door that way I can push the button and have a new, fresh elevator to myself.
  • At work I purposely will let my phone go to voicemail and have a message left that way I can reply with an email and avoid the phone conversation.
  •  Sometime I will just nope the hell out of a conversation by walking away.

 

These are just a few examples of the many things I notice about my behavior. My wife probably has a few dozen she could list off the top of her head.

Speaking of my wife…

My wife always will say that I hate people. Not exactly true. Chances are if you aren’t a level 10 horrible person then I am quite fond of you. Even with the fondness I most likely feel awkward around you.  I have never been the most adapt at navigating the social waters.

She is one of the rare people that I had no problem connecting with from the very first time I met her. She is outgoing and has no problem talking to people. Opposites really do attract. She pulls me out of my shell and  I am able to be a little less awkward socially. I will never be mister charisma but she makes me better.

 

 

Personal thoughts

Kids are Assholes

Kids are Assholes…

and it is wonderful. The pure honesty of what they say is innocent and blunt at the same time. Their statements embarrasses us, makes us laugh, makes us take a second look at ourselves.  A child’s comments can make your heart melt or cut you to the bone.

The raw honesty of kids that are first grade age and below is refreshing. In most situations they wear their hearts on their sleeve and speak their mind. If they want something they will tell you. If you make them laugh then you know they aren’t appeasing you to be polite, it is a true laugh. You don’t need to worry about the motivations of young kids they tell it like they see it from their perspective of the world.

It can be awkward sometimes.

I would like to read a collection of quotes that teachers and daycare providers hear from the kids that are in their care. I bet the other adults that interact with your kids have been told a tale or two that you wouldn’t want spread around.

The questions  and statements, especially in public.

Why does that man smell?

Daddy is this your dumb boss you talk about?

That person is ugly.

The reason that we cringe when our little one’s shoot off at the mouth is because they are being honest. Honesty is at times contrary to the unspoken social contract that most of us abide by.

If you are walking down the aisle of the grocery and you hear a little voice say “Mommy why is that person so fat.” I have bad news, you are fat. At least to the child’s point of view. Calm down, you are not being ridiculed and this isn’t because the child is being disrespectful. They just lack the social awareness that comes with age. In other words they have no filter and speak what is on their mind.

As kids grow they lose this because they start to understand the unseen agreements that we have in this culture. If some one is dumb, don’t point it out, if someone is overweight, don’t body shame them. Be polite and be courteous. Don’t highlight weakness.  This is a good thing overall. This social evolution allows us to interact with each other with less conflict, but it also gives rise to miscommunication, gossip, and overall less genuine people.

I wish that adults retained more of that blunt honesty than they do. I have trouble interacting with people who are two-faced or fake. I would rather know where I stand with someone instead of wondering if this person has an agenda.

Personal thoughts

Laughs and Looks

One of my most favorite sounds in this whole, wide world is my wife’s laugh. She, like most people, has many different types of laughs: Her polite laugh, her laugh when she is making small talk, her triumphant “HA!” when she does some difficult task, and many other varied laughs depending on mood, and situation.

All her laughs ,I love, but the one where the laugh comes out as a high pitch giggle/squeal is the one I know she can not hold back. That is the laugh I am 100% sure she means.

In contrast one of my least favorite things is the “look”.  I am sure you know the one I mean. Its the look that says that there is hell to pay and the bill is due. The one that says you are a stupid jackass and I don’t know why they allow you to keep breathing. If your partner is giving you the “look” too often then it becomes an almost  permanent expression and the laughter starts to die.  This will poison a relationship.

This would kill me.

 

I would hate if I never heard my wife’s genuine laugh again. I have been in relationships where the laughter has died and instead you get looks. I would rather have a marriage  full of laughs and embraces instead of disdainful glares and cold shoulders.  I have an awesome relationship and couldn’t as for anything better.

We aren’t perfect but where I have cracks she has edges and we just fit together.

With us being in a good place that means I don’t get the “look” often, but I know its there, just waiting, for the time when I hurt her or when I am too stubborn to admit I am wrong. I try my best not to bring the “look” out because I know her anger is a reaction from bruised emotions or disappointment that I caused.

I get sick to my stomach and I get anxious when I disappoint her or have hurt her somehow.   I loath that feeling of not knowing what to do to make something right. That is why I give my best effort to consider her feelings and make our marriage a team effort. A lot of it is small things. I ask her how her day was and kiss her first thing when I get home. I will pick up the groceries or do the dishes if she needs me too. If she has had a rough day with the kids then I don’t complain when she wants to leave for a couple hours when I get home from work.  I am not perfect and  I still fall short sometimes but she knows that my intentions are good.

Bring home wine that helps too…

Personal thoughts

Parenting and The Importance of Bedtime.

Bedtime

I know from the title that you might to expect this to be about the importance of children getting enough sleep. —No, those little snots still have the eternal well-spring of energy that comes with youth– This is about how important it is to banish them to their room and for the parents to take the house back.

Be gone Disney, be gone asinine YouTubers,  farewell fidget spinners.  Your Mom and I have had enough squabbles over the remote, enough questions about when we can make slime, enough 4th grade drama, and enough of you.

This post may seem to be coming off mean.  It isn’t; I promise. I love my kids, I really, really do, but I also love doughnuts and as sweet as they both are (doughnuts and my kids both) having them all the time is neither good for your body nor mind.

This is why bedtime was invented. Think about it, if it were logical,  the poor working parents would go to bed before the kids, but no, we stay up later and get up earlier. While we manage our jobs, feeding the family, doing the laundry and etc.  It gets tiresome and I am the husband… My poor wife.   Instead we send the little balls of energy to bed to be well-rested, so they can be full of annoying vim and vigor all day tomorrow, while the slow grind of life wears us down to dust.

There is a reprieve, at the cost of less rest, we get a a magical hour or two of blissful peace. A time to watch shows that are not appropriate for ten-year-olds. A time for wine, beer, couch cuddles, and mutual tablet or phone zombie time.  This is the time of day where the marriage is rebuilt, the time when you are reminded that not only did you procreate with your spouse, but that you actually like spending time with them.

It’s great. You can curse, tell each other bawdy drinking stories, and gossip about the neighbor.  You no longer have to be the paragon of moral virtue and set an example for the part of the future generation that you spawned. The masks come off and the real you comes out like a werewolf on a full moon.

Try an experiment. Tonight or tomorrow, if you are reading this during the magic hours, take note of the tension in your shoulders through out the day. I would wager that as soon as you sent the Mongolian hoard that are your kids to bed, that the stress melts off of you like a toddler’s popsicle on new carpet.

Yet we love them. They are our world. But for Pete’s sake give us a break and go to bed!