Category Archives: Daily Diatribe

A good idea of what my day entailed. Usually written right before bed and published overnight or in the morning it gives you an idea of my trials and tribulations with 4 kids and Dad.

Listen to the Music

It’s been a struggle this last few days to understand what the last six years have been like.  Six years ago, in a sudden hit to our family, my wife – the kids’ mom – Andrea Andrews Manoucheri passed away.  None of us expected it.  None of us wanted it.  She hadn’t been suffering in pain from some ailment.  It was pneumonia.  Just that simple.

So six years after that terrible day when I had to come home and tell the kids that their mother was gone it’s really a very different kind of thing.

Perhaps the best way to digest what the 6th anniversary of her passing meant might be to look at it by how I see all the kids’ reactions to this day.

We put a video together, like several years past, to commemorate the day but also to celebrate just how far we’ve come.  We used the Doobie Brothers song “Listen to the Music” and my middle daughter Hannah really stepped up and did an amazing job singing.

But the day . . . My oldest may have taken the hardest hit in the whole thing.  She spent the most time with her mom.  She remembers it all, the good, the bad, the really ugly.  I had a big hand in a lot of that ugly part and it’s hard for me to face sometimes.  So when the day comes it’s different for her.  She is also about to graduate college and move into the wide world…that’s a lot of change to face without your mom.  I can’t fix that.  I just have to know it’s true, which as a guy, isn’t easy.  My middle . . . she lets it all out.  She doesn’t always talk about it but when it hits her, it hits her.  She cries, she gets sad, it’s out there on her sleeve.  It’s different than her sister, and with all that she’s had more time at home with a single dad than her sister did.  That’s not right or wrong, it just changes the shape of how they deal with things.  She faces going to college soon.

My boys, though.  They miss their mom but it’s the hardest for me to see.  When I started dating I asked the boys if it bothered them seeing me with someone else, someone who is not their mom.  The response was telling: they didn’t really have a lot of memory of me and their mom together.  It’s just a sort of ethereal happening, something that was.  Affection, hugs, kisses, those are reserved for what their mom did with them.  But even that . . . they were 7 when their mom left.  They have officially lived almost as long without her as they did with her.  That’s an odd thing to face.

So . . . having said I may not post here again, or not very often . . . I post.  We did a video that I think encapsulates all the last six years and more.  We face the loss but we kept moving forward and doing it knowing that it’s okay to move forward.  It’s okay to be enjoying things even though she’s not here to enjoy them with us.

And like I’ve said many times, we’re stronger together than when we’re apart.  We miss you, Andrea, and we love you.

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The Last Waltz?

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The Last Waltz?

I actually had to look today at the very last time I posted anything on this particular blog.

It was April.

Eight months have passed since I wrote something on what was, once, a daily activity.  Okay . . . weekdays, mainly.  Weekends were family time.

I need to explain a couple things for you, I think, before I move forward with this post.  It’s not something I haven’t stated before, but it certainly is something I think bears repeating.

In October of 2011, just seven months after my wife, Andrea Andrews Manoucheri passed away, I started writing here.  It wasn’t to get attention.  It wasn’t to feel sorry for myself.

Every night, after dinner was finished, the dishes put in the dishwasher, lunches made, kids in bed, and laundry running I would go to the couch and I was alone.  Things would happen, for sure.  Bad things would happen. Good things would happen.  I would lose myself in those moments and turn to tell my wife and realize . . . she just wasn’t there.  Not only that, she was never going to be there again.  That was a harsh reality to face when I’d been married for exactly 18 years.

I had a child in therapy.  I had expenses and debt and everything was costing me.  I needed to get out of my own head and needed a way to do that.  I had been told that writing a journal would help. I didn’t like writing by hand so I did the 21st century equivalent: I started to write a blog. My thoughts, feelings, sometimes things that – in hindsight – were a little too personal came out.

A funny thing started to happen more than a year ago, though.  Things just started to even out.  Things about Andrea would come up and they wouldn’t make me want to hide in a dark room and drink away my sorrows.  The date of her death – coincidentally our wedding anniversary – would roll around and I wouldn’t wallow in sadness.  Slowly but surely, “our life” turned into “my life.”

Or maybe it was “our life” but not the “our” I was used to referencing.  “Our” was Andrea and I, together, worried the kids would leave one day but ready to face life again. Again we would be just a couple, the house a little emptier.  Our middle-age years could be spend doing some of the things we didn’t do when we were in our twenties.

Now “our” is more the whole family.  It’s me and my kids and trying to make life more of an adventure.  We went to places, had graduations, had proms and dances.  I started to focus my attentions on music, my first love, and wrote much of that emotion there.  My last post was the beginning of that recording session and the singles that have come out so far.

I started dating and doing more things with another person and life went from being good to being something far more.  Suddenly my kids are becoming adults and more independent and so much more amazing than I could ever have predicted when I started this textual excursion more than five years ago.

That brings us to the title “Last Waltz?”  The “Last Waltz” was the name of the very last concert by “The Band,” a star-studded extravaganza with a Beatle, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan and more…and filmed for posterity by Martin Scorcese.

Think of this as my Last Waltz.  Mine has a question mark because, unlike the Band, I may . . . probably will . . . come back here from time to time.  I’ll have reason to post.  I’ll finish that studio record, finally.  I’ll have amazing things to talk about.

But the need . . . that basic necessity to just get out of my head exactly what the hell was going on today . . . it’s just not there. Things aren’t routine now, far from that.  It’s hard to find reason to shake things out of my head that are making me stop moving forward or just cutting me so deep I cannot function.  Things are a lot different.

I write now when the mood strikes, but the writing because I need to write has left me. Maybe it’s writer’s block. Maybe it’s just excitement for the life that’s opening up so wide and bright in front of me.  Now things are not, in my own head, worthy of putting print to page.  They are not sad or hard or funny or difficult.

What they are is joyous.

And with that joy comes my need to go out and live the adventure.

I hope you understand.  I hope you will do the same.

Until next time, TTFN

Dave

When the Morning Comes

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When the Morning Comes

I decided, after much deliberation and fretting and sweating and stress, that the first single from our recording session should come out.  This even though we’re still in the process of rehearsing and recording the rest of my record.

Why?

Because I . . . and frankly all the musicians in the Ain’t Got No time (Rock and Blues) Band were moved by the results.  That’s not something happens all the time.  The mixture of the acoustic guitar along with the beautiful vocals that Matt Retz and Eric Rosander arranged for the tune were so stirring I felt that the time was right to release it.

When the Morning Comes will be the first single, released April 22nd in iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, YouTube Music, iHeart Radio, whatever the hell that thing Jay-Z and Beyonce have is called . . . hell I’ll beam it to Pluto so the aliens can broadcast it to the computer chip in your fillings if you want.

So let me regale you with the background of this song, if you will.

I came up with two lines in the very beginning, and that was some time ago, not long after losing my wife, Andrea.  She passed away on March 26th, 2011.

I’m broken and bent, beat down ’cause I spent my time fighting my battles of the heart.

I also had the chorus:

I see the moon…rising in the midnight sky, I see your headlights as you pass me by.
Though I wait here for you you’ve left me behind

Some years later the aching and pain started to fade and were replaced with some yearning.  Not for who I lost but for wanting to find someone else.  When that came I realized that meeting, seeing, hearing someone new was just as exciting and lovely as what I had.  So the last line of the chorus just fell into place:
And she’ll be here when the morning comes

The song is about loss, about love, and about the drive and enjoyment of moving ahead.  Sometimes you lose and you never recover.  Sometimes . . . life catches you by surprise.

This project…it’s just such a personal one, and as a musician that’s what you want, I suppose.  You grab deep into your soul, find themes that are universal, and bring them to the fore.  You don’t have to lose someone . . . we all have had breakups, arguments, divorce, loss takes all forms and faces.  I feel like this song could apply in so many ways.

My colleagues and fellow musicians say they can hear so many of my influences, from the Allman Brothers Band (particularly in the guitar solo) to The Black Crowes to The Eagles (particularly in the harmonies).  In the end, though, that combination of all of those makes this uniquely our own creation.

April 22nd the song drops.  I hope you are touched by it as much as we were.

 

A Time to Release . . .

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A Time to Release

Things have been a bit radio silent here for the last several weeks.  It’s time you knew why.

The picture up there is from last Monday, the 28th of March.  Just two days after the anniversary of my wife’s passing . . . two days past what would have been my 23rd wedding anniversary (we married young, and yes…they are the same day) I was in a recording studio.

Fancying myself a bit of a storyteller let me give you the long-winded explanation of why this is significant.  It comes, essentially, in two parts.

First . . . this whole thing started in the week or so following my wife, Andrea’s death.  I binge-watched in a sleepless week the entire TV series The Wire, which was good, from what I remember.  Then I did something my wife disliked…I picked up a guitar, in the living room, at 3am.  A song started to form and the anger and frustration I had got my blood going and in my sleepless state I had inspiration for music.   All the anger and emotion flooded out and I wrote a song about where I was at.

Then the writer’s block hit.  For more than a year-and-a-half I was unable to write music.  It was frustrating.  After that time, though, the dam burst and I was nearly prolific.  The result was close to a dozen or more songs that I was constantly honing and re-recording in demo form.

Fast forward a few years . . . my oldest daughter was struggling with what her career choice would be.  Deep down she wanted to do one thing but was clinging to what her mother wanted: something in the medical field.  She would have been good at it, it’s a noble thing to do . . . but I knew she didn’t want to.  So I told her to look at herself, her life, this was her time, after all.  “Find something you love, what you’re passionate about and work really hard at it and you will be happy.  Maybe not rich, but you will be fulfilled.”  (Or words to that effect)  My daughter turned that around on me a year later.  “When are you going to do that, Dad?”

I was floored.

“You need to go into the recording studio again.  You’re too good and you talk a good game . . . but don’t use us (the kids) as an excuse.  Find a way.”

So I have taken my own advice.

I joined a band . . . the Ain’t Got No Time (rock and blues) Band.  This is a group of some of the most talented people I know.  We started gigging first, a couple free fundraisers for charity.

Then I asked them if they’d record an album with me.  I even considered, at their suggestion, whether or not this could be a band album.  I almost did that . . . but a couple things stopped me:

  • Much of the material (most of it, in fact) helped me get through the struggles, the grief and confusion.  I wrote what I felt and this was a very personal project.
  • I wasn’t going to say this was “the band’s” record when I wrote all the material.  These guys all write and they write amazing stuff.  The world needs to hear a full band record, too.  That will come later.

We started rehearsals:

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And the band seriously became nearly de-facto producers of the record.

Here are the cast of characters of AGNT:

IMG_6543Kevin Mooney is the drummer.  He basically looked up, said “who do you want this to sound like,” and counted off the beat.  When we said more he gave more.  When we needed a break in the song he hit it dead-on.

IMG_6565Eric Rosander plays bass and sings backup (at least here).  He sings in an a capella   group so his vocal arrangements are strong.  He plays upright, and is one of the best bassists I’ve ever played with.

IMG_6569 (1)Matt Retz plays guitar – rhythm and lead – and sings.  He and Eric arranged backup vocals for my first single that sound like a full chorus of people behind us.  It simultaneously evokes gospel meets The Eagles and I’m so proud of it all.  Matt took some of the reigns and helped produce an amazing three songs.

IMG_0752Then there’s Robert Sabino…our keyboard player…though he’s so much more.  A resume that includes Bowie, Madonna, Simon and Garfunkel, Mick Jagger, and a who’s who of people from the 70’s-90’s and beyond.  Rob helped so much with arrangements that made the songs so much more than I ever thought they would be.  Between Rob and Matt the material didn’t just get better, it sang.

So two days in the studio, a massive amount of guitar amplification and a set of torched vocal chords by the end and I have two full songs and an acoustic instrumental that may be my proudest work so far in my life.

This was certainly something I did for me, for sure.  But without this band and these people it certainly wouldn’t be the material it is.  I love them all and they are truly magical people to be around.

So . . . that said . . . instead of working toward a full record and holding off, I’m so proud of this material I’m going to release a single in the coming weeks.  I am simply waiting on the publishing and copyright paperwork to clear.

Stay tuned for updates . . . hopefully the term “radio silence” will not be applicable is so many more ways.

Over and Over Again

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Over and Over Again

There is something people don’t really think about when you go into a situation where you want to record music you have written.

This stuff doesn’t magically just appear on acetate or hard drive or in the cloud or wherever it’s stored today with perfection and  bliss.  This is something taking preparation and arrangement.

I am lucky in that I have this group of amazing people who, even with little time on their hands, are willing and able to meet to settle those arrangements for music before we go into the studio on March 28th and 29th.  This is a particularly interesting thing because, though I can read music, I cannot write out charts and give full transcripts of all the stuff I have written.  I even have to look up some of the chords I’m playing because I honestly have no idea what it is I’m fingering, it just makes some sort of logical sense.

Then there are bass parts and keyboard parts and rhythm/lead guitar and what breaks we put in and what ones we ignore and . . . you begin to realize just how much more work there is than just “writing” your song.

Part of all this is playing sections of your song over and over again.  Some of you may have been through this if you ever sang in choir or were in the high school band or marching band.  You mess up a section . . . you do it over and over and over again until you no longer mess up that section.  With the help of technology today we can get those arrangements going and suddenly . . . we have a recording from a cell phone.  No, it’s not one you’d put on the record itself, but you can share it on a cloud-based drive, share that with everyone in the band, and suddenly you all have access to what the arrangements are.

Repetition might seem like it would get monotonous, but it actually is inspiring, particularly with talented people.  We suddenly have breaks where I had put none.  We suddenly have harmonized guitar lines and backup vocals . . . something I’m particularly poor at arranging, harmonies.

It’s been an amazing thing just to arrange two songs.  You might think that sounds a bit strange, only two songs in two days.  It’s not.  First you set up everything, and drums are the biggest thing to set up.  You mic up all those things, instruments, do a scratch vocal track while you play.  You will put a backing track with everyone.  Then you’ll do lead guitar.  Maybe acoustic.  Then vocals . . . then more backing vocals.

By the time we are finished I’ll be thrilled if we get these two songs completed.  The next step will be learning a few more . . . then a few more . . . and so on.

In the midst of what in years past would be one of the hardest months of the year – March, when my wife passed away – this is turning out to be the most ambitious we been through yet.

And it’s not even the end of March yet!

More updates later in the week!

In Three Part Harmony

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In Three Part Harmony

Working on your own material with a group of very talented musicians might seem nerve-racking.  I can’t speak for  other writers, but I always have apprehension when I bring up a new piece of material.

Yet when you have a group of guys who are not just talented but wanting to hear your stuff and wanting to help you succeed there is something so very satisfying about that.

My goal in the first recording session is to have two songs recorded and completed.  If there had been any fear that this wouldn’t happen I left those by the wayside after Friday’s rehearsal.

We started slowly, listening to the very bare demo and quickly put an arrangement together.  Then we tweaked it, wrote out a bass line, put things together, took them apart . . . and then it just seemed to work.

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When we finished the arrangement came the harmonies, which just added even more life to the song.  Something more than I could ever have hoped.

This all came after visiting the studio, Pus Cavern studios, which is small but comfortable.  It looks like the right kind of place for a group of guys working out harmonies in the drummer’s living room.

Not that doing this in a living room detracts from the material.  One of the best feelings is to have these guys say they like the songs and help me make the arrangements.  One of the bad parts of having learned guitar by ear is the fact that I cannot easily write up anything about what we’re playing.  It takes me awhile to even figure out what chords I’ve been playing by scrolling through reams of chord charts.

But as I look at the material, my daughter on the couch listening, she started to hear what it was all pointing toward.  “I always liked that song when you played it,” she told me, remembering my writing it with an acoustic guitar on the living room couch.  “But I just listened to the lyrics all the way through and . . . wow, I just never thought about things like that, from how you look at it, dad.  Wow.”

When you can touch a 16-year-old with your lyrics and music it’s a big deal, at least to me.  That says the themes are pretty universal.

It also says that the idea of finishing this and closing one door while opening another on my life is the right direction.  What an amazing experience to work with such talented people.  The songs take this raw form and turn into something so much bigger and livelier.

What an amazing experience . . . and we haven’t even hit the studio yet.

Marshalling a Rehearsal

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Marshalling a Rehearsal

(See what I did there?)

The first rehearsal for new material.  I was nervous as it’s my material, stuff I’ve written, and for the most part the most personal music I’ve ever written.

I wasn’t nervous about doing arrangements and playing the material, that’s not my big concern.  The musicians I’m playing with, affectionately dubbed the “Ain’t Got No Time Band” which is shorter than “Ain’t Got No Time Rock and Blues Review” and any other number of names we’ve come up with.  They are consummate musicians and I’m quite proud to be playing with them.

We sat down to go over the first tune, a rocker called How Much More that was one of the first tunes I wrote after the passing of my wife.  How Much More is literally the angriest song I’ve ever written.  It came after losing my wife, my house, and having my salary drastically cut.  The first line of the song is, literally, “How much more can I take?”

As is typical when you get really good musicians together, the demo I recorded is simply a road map.  With the others in the band we spent four hours, first playing the verse section over and over to get a groove.  Then came the chorus, which is different the first time from the last two.  Then we weaved the opening interlude into each section between verses.

By the end, the entire ending of the song had changed – for the better.  What started as one thing became far better, the keyboard player, Rob Sabino, conducting and moving as I soloed at the end of the song.

Debate rattles around my head…the offer was put up to make this a band album, gigging to pay for it, taking our time, writing other material too.  The collaboration is so very attractive.  The other side is that this is kind of a finality to one part of my life.  Shutting the door, closing the cover on the first story.  It transitions to the next, with songs that speak of love, loss, and finding love again.  It’s almost a story in itself, nearly a concept album.  I still waffle which would be better . . .

Regardless, to get the tone I want as well I broke down and pulled the trigger on a 50 watt Marshall amplifier.  That’s the one you see up there.  I picked it up today, knowing full well it needed work.

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The evening was spent swapping out tubes.  Yes…the amplifier uses vacuum tubes, an old-school technology.  But I am kind of old school anyway and they just sound better.  Marshall amplifiers are a staple of rock and roll.  Jimmy Page with Led Zeppelin, Eric Clapton, with Cream, and even solo used them.  It is a quintessential tone and one I wanted in my musical toolbox for years.  I just didn’t want a 100 watt version that could cause my ears to bleed when only turned to 3 on the volume.

Thus the 50 watt combo, same amplifier, smaller and I don’t have to spring for a separate cabinet.

So after testing tubes and swapping out I got it working . . . one speaker is a piece of junk but it works.  The other is a high quality Celestion.  The bigger issue – the desirable high output jack seems to not work.  I consulted a great amp tech (read my brother the wunderkind and uber talented amp builder and musician) and the two jacks are actually connected.

So this week will be cleaning, repairing and working.

Decisions have to be made, repairs have to be made . . . and I have to make up my mind.  But still . . . it’s a great week.

A Change in the Plot…

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A Change in the Plot…

Every story has its twists and turns.  Our story certainly began with a major twist at the beginning with the passing of my wife.

The plot here, in my musings, writings and thoughts will take a shift as well.

A couple years ago – something I detailed at one point both here and on the parenting site Good Enough Mother – I had a long and detailed discussion with my oldest child.  In that conversation I told her a simple piece of advice, something I had been given more than once:

Do something you love.  It may not be your dream job, it may not be the job you expected, but do something you love, something you want to do, something that doesn’t feel like work.

Be passionate.

I had no idea at the time that my daughter would then turn those words around on me.

“When are you going to do that, Dad?”
“What?!”
“You have had a slew of material sitting there, songs written, demos started . . . when are you going to record that stuff?”

I, of course, was stricken dumb; totally inarticulate.  Before I could give excuses – the common ones:

“Don’t use us as an excuse, Dad.  And don’t try to say it’s too expensive.  If you are truly passionate about the music you write and play then you will find a way!”

I was a finite and definitive statement that ended with punctuation that said, without words: “there’s no argument here, you’ve lost this battle!”

So this, after two years of honing and writing and second guessing, is the next step.

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Since that conversation, I’ve joined up with one of the most talented group of musicians – on par with my younger brother Adam Manoucheri (see his new record Aquadog)  – and we play when we can.  We call ourselves the “Ain’t Got No Time Rock and Blues Band” because, frankly, none of us have any time.

These musicians became the core of what will become my first ever solo LP.  Rehearsal begins this week.  We hit the studio at the end of March.  This isn’t a quick process, we have to learn the songs and then I’ll book the next session.  I have nearly a dozen songs and it may turn into more.

It is simultaneously the greatest and scariest thing I have ever undertaken.  Not because I worry about the band, they are the least of my worries.  This is my material.  Much of it came after the passing of my wife and has a dark edge to it.  There’s a lot of acoustic material.  Then there’s the stuff that shows the shift in my life, the happier tones, the melancholy of a trying to find love again and the happiness and joy when it comes.

There are ballads and straight rockers and it’s all me . . . no producer, no brother to tell me I can do better, it’s me.

It’s practicing what I preached.  Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

So over the next many months, most of my posts will be chronicling the trials, tribulations, joys and successes as well as failures in trying to record my first record alone.

As Upworthy would probably put it: “A single dad told his daughter to follow her dreams. Look what happened when she told him to do the same!”

Be careful what you dream . . . you might just actually be chasing them.

A Rose-Colored Memory

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A Rose-Colored Memory

Over the weekend I bought a vase of roses for my dinner date.  The florist did an amazing job of arranging the flowers, even stopping me before I left their shop so they could add to the arrangement and make the flowers look even better.  They re-tied a bow on the vase and thanked me for their business.

That should have been it, take them on the way to dinner and all would be fine.

As those flowers sat all day on my kitchen table, though, they began to spark something I had long forgotten.

The smell of those roses permeated the whole house and suddenly I was a little boy again, tiny, walking in a striped shirt and holding hands with my grandma in her front yard in my home in the Midwest.

My grandma, you see, had one of the greatest rose gardens I can remember.  Right adjacent to her house, between the driveway and the sidewalk leading to their back door, was bush after bush of roses the likes of wish most people had never seen . . . and some of those flowers will never been seen again.

My grandmother was a test grower for one of the plant companies that sold plants via a catalog.  Where today they buy their plants online and such then you had to get a paper catalog and order your plants.

When the companies started making new hybrids of flowers, someone had to test how they handled the climate, the soil, the treatment, and report just how well they bloomed.  As a little boy I remember when they would come in and occasionally I’d help her plant some new hybrid in her garden.  It would seemingly take forever for those bushes to have an explosion of color from that thorny jungle by her house.

Some colors, names like “sterling silver” or peach color merged with blood red . . . the velvety petals would unfold on the bristly branches in the garden.  My grandma planted and cut roses, handing them out to family and friends as they bloomed throughout the spring.

She also would cut flowers I simply cannot get here where I live now.  She had white, pink and purple lilacs in her yard and at an old farm where they used to live.  I would go with her and we would cut the pink and white branches from the bushes and put them in water.  The house car and our house smelled of lilacs and to this day if I smell them I smile and think of driving around with my grandma and handing out the wonderful flowers.

So when I came down the stairs for my Valentine’s Day and smelled the roses, I was momentarily aghast, washed over with memories of that beautiful flower garden.  I remembered the car drives, lilac petals lightly floating down to the floor of the car.  When I was little, this woman, Irish background, had met my Persian grandfather and heard him call me “Davood”, the Farci pronunciation of my name.  It stuck with her and she always called me that.  So smelling those flowers I remembered my grandma, getting out and saying “come get these flowers for Auntie Mary, Davood!”

You might read this and think, having all these memories wash over me in that one, precise moment, I might just be down and melancholy.  Instead, I smiled, the most pleasant of memories of my grandma coming over me, had me reaching for that vase and heading out the door.

There was no better way to start a Valentine’s weekend.

And I hadn’t even left the house yet.

Thinking for Themselves


IMG_5983 (1)Thinking for Themselves

The picture up there is actually a bit of an anomaly.  I let the kids have their phones and games out for this lunch only…and it was like watching something out of a Kubrick film.  Glued to screens.

But my kids are all pretty good thinkers and a lot of that is necessity as much as purposeful parenting.

I want the kids to think for themselves.  When they have  a problem I want them to come up with the answer of how to fix it.  I will guide and help but I’m not fixing it for them, not any more.  When they were little I did it all.

My best example: when my daughter had a class just “pop up” on her school schedule that she never even signed up for I told her to go to the registrar and get it fixed.  She rolled her eyes, got stressed out, and acted like I’d grown a second head.  But I made her go do it anyway.  Turned out . . . a computer glitch had affected a whole bunch of students and her name was on a list of kids now that needed it fixed.  Ignore the problem and she’d have flunked a class she didn’t even sign up to take.

When her wah-wah pedal (yes, that’s the name) for the guitar didn’t work I took it apart and made her watch me fix it.  When it broke again?  I asked if she watched me fix it the first time.
“Yes,” she said skeptically.
“Good.  Then the screwdrivers are in my toolbox,” I told her.  She was thrilled when she was able to do it herself.

I try to do the same with conflicts at school, with the kids having issues, with all of it.  When my son faced bullying and retaliation at school I tried to have him fix the problem.  He did try, and I only intervened when it was clear he truly needed my help.

This is a lesson and a necessity.  I cannot fix everything.  Between lunches, meals, laundry, the home, bills, work, shopping, and general parenting I have about an hour’s worth of time each day.  That’s it.  The rules that applied for their siblings apply to them, as well.  The idea being that if they need to get something done they’ll just buckle down and do it.

That has worked, for the most part.  When my son wanted cookies after school he asked if he could make them.  First time he forgot an ingredient.  The next time?  Perfect cookies and I didn’t have to make them.

The only time it hasn’t been as successful is when I dealt with bullying at school.  My son, though, tried to fix the problem himself.  I give him a lot of credit for that.

My reasoning?  Kids don’t need to be coddled.  I play with my kids, hug them, love them, do my best by myself to parent them.  But sometimes they need to take care of themselves, too.   When they do they understand they’re growing up and taking on more responsibility as well.  That’s a big deal, particularly as they get older.

What’s the difference?  When kids around them are helpless to understand how to deal with life, not just what happens in school, my kids have already dealt with it.  They didn’t wait.  They were ready the day I had to tell them their mother passed away and they had to face this without one of their parents. After that, nothing was really too difficult.