Tag Archives: father

Super Powers

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Super Powers

We were in the car, driving, heading north to visit their sister in college. The way there was split into two parts, as we left on a Thursday evening and were going to arrive on Friday morning.

I made the kids get up sometime around 6am so that we could hit the road.   We had roughly 4 hours left before we hit the college town and picked up their sister.  We had a deadline: we were supposed to get to a studio where we were getting a tour. Why or how this happened – and what it was like – are a completely different story. Suffice to say . . . we got there and amazement was had by all.

About an hour into the trip only one of the four people in the car was awake. Fortunately that was me, the driver. Could have been quite disastrous otherwise. I moved along, news playing through the car’s speakers, when my son woke up in the back seat.

“I’m sorry, Dad.”
“For what?”
“That I fell asleep.”
“That’s okay. We have a ways to go so no big deal.”
“But you don’t get to sleep.”
“Well…no.  That’s okay, though.”

He was quiet for awhile, his brother and sister breathing heavy in their REM slumber.

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“So how do you do it,” he asked, his head cocked just a bit to the side.
“Do what?”
“Stay awake like that. Is it like a super power?  When you become an adult do you get the ability to not fall asleep or to stay awake without needing sleep?”

I had to try hard not to laugh because he was actually quite serious.

“No,” was about all I could muster. “No, it’s not a super power being able to stay awake. I just do.”

He couldn’t wrap his head around it. It honestly seemed to bother him that he got 9 hours of sleep and was barely able to stay awake and I kept going.

Sleep.  More appropriately staying awake. It’s probably not a superpower. I would suppose sleep is more Kryptonite to my waking hours than staying awake is a superpower.

I didn’t go into the routines of the day with him. I don’t know that he’d understand and I don’t want him to think I am put upon in my role as a single dad. Yet, to give him fuel for that super power fire, I realized, when we got home from the trip, around 5pm, I didn’t get to just sit on the couch. All the clothes in the bags we’d packed needed to be washed, as did their PE clothes from the week.

The house was a mess.  I started dinner, which while lacking in complication, was still something needing to be made. While that simmered I loaded up the dishwasher, ran it, and switched out the loads of laundry.

I made cookies, then lunches, then cleaned up the table. Fortunately while out I’d purchased some Coltrane with Kenny Burrell for the turntable and we listened to some old jazz while I cleaned up.

Staying awake isn’t really a super power, it’s just a necessary evil when you get older, I suppose. Sometimes you work too many hours and the elusive hours of sleep are because you obsess over success in your job.  Then there’s the times when you do something wonderful with your family . . . and then you have to pick up the routine right after.

What they didn’t see was that exhaustion hit about an hour early and after cleaning up the last of the night’s dishes . . . I was done. Spent. Nine hours of driving, laundry, dinner . . . that had taken its toll, even on me.

As I said . . . sleep. Kryptonite for the super dad.

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When You’re Home, Are You HOME?

I'll Sleep when I can . . .

When You’re Home, Are You HOME?

One of the things I’ve learned in the last few years was a harsh lesson about something I hadn’t always done in my kids’ early lives.

I work in a job that can be moments of tedious combing through numbers and data followed by moments of sheer panic when breaking news hits and you have to race out the door at a moment’s notice.

My own children now have been groomed to an almost Pavlovian action of acceptance when my cell phone rings.  They’ve seen the result of that phone call time and again. My oldest more than the others, as in previous jobs I wasn’t just a producer and writer I was also a photographer.

On an early evening, a celebration of wonderful accomplishments by my oldest daughter when she was very little I’d made a commitment to go out to dinner at her favorite restaurant. Instead, I called home because I got sent to a standoff. A man held himself at gunpoint and we all knew it was going to end with him surrendering and the day’s work amounting to about 30 seconds of airtime. At best. My wife was furious.

My daughter simply accepted it, though disappointed.

On 9/11 I was in a car on the way to the airport after the first plane hit. I was supposed to fly to New York to cover it. A couple weeks later I was in Washington, DC covering the aftermath. My daughter was supposed to have a play.

We were out at a family outing when the Space Shuttle Columbia went down. I spent the next two days in the piney woods of East Texas in what forever thought was the most depressing story I ever covered.

Even on days when things weren’t insane or tragic events, the idea of chasing all this was exhausting, both mentally and physically. My kids would ask: “can you play a game with me” and I’d inevitably be nearly catatonic or asleep.

I wasn’t terrible. On the days this didn’t happen I was there, invested, and involved. I made dinner most evenings, as my wife wasn’t fond of cooking. I made their desserts. I planned birthday parties that cost me too much money. Yet I always knew that when things blew up I’d just drop everything and go.

So four years ago when I became a single dad that changed.

The job I have has been wonderful. When my son needs to go to the doctor . . . they know I have to go to the doctor. When I’m out with my family, I’m out with them. It’s certainly the lesson I learned from my time growing up. My father worked . . . but when he was home with us, he was home with us. He may have worked on home repairs but if we wanted to help, we helped.

“Dad, can I help you make that dessert,” my son will ask, and the answer is always “yes.” My oldest, in college, says she has a performance to show what their grant proposal was and, hard as it was to arrange, I was there. No complaints.  (Well, except for the hour I waited in line at “Voodoo Doughnuts” to get her doughnuts for the evening. I still am not sure that was worth it)

I still have my moments.  I’ll walk in the door and be asked “want to play a game, dad?”
“I’m making your dinner!”
“Oh…”
“Oh?”
“Later maybe?”

Later certainly seems tiresome and I sometimes say I just am too tired. I work my job still, am committed, and if the world explodes, I still go in without hesitation. Yet if nobody can watch the kids. . . they know I have that issue to attend and if I cannot, they may be frustrated but understand. That’s worth its weight in gold.

Though tonight my son asked “do you want to take the online quiz I made?”
I was in the middle of making dinner. Yet I saw the hope in his eyes and the spark in there that was proud of what he did. It’s something in years past I might very well have missed.
“Let me finish . . . and then we’ll try.”
I sat down, and my son had made a trivia quiz about “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.” I got all but one right.
“Wow!  Good job, Dad,” my son said.

My routine tonight, as it is every night, was to take them up, read them a chapter out of the book they wanted – not because I treat them like little kids, but because they ask me to do it. They like that I make voices and dramatize the books. That’s why they want it.

I hug my daughter at the end of the evening, tell her “goodnight Beastie”.  Then I  text her sister at college, and tell her I love her.

And I go to bed in order to do it all over again tomorrow.

Humorous Lessons

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Humorous Lessons

I learned long ago that just beating the lesson home with your kids works . . . but they start to zone out and think of it as white noise.

But use humor . . . that tends to drive the point home with abandon.

On Sunday the television was on while I made breakfast for the kids. My sons had already eaten and I was waiting to put my daughter’s on a plate because, frankly, she was still asleep.  I sleep in on weekends, but by sleeping in I get maybe another hour or two of sleep, so I’d been up since 7am.  After cleaning up the breakfast extravaganza for the boys I noticed that the movie Maleficent was on the TV. My sons were actually watching it, too.

“Hello, beastie,” Angelina Jolie says to the little girl who will become Sleeping Beauty.

“Beastie…I like that,” I told the boys.

When by 10:30am my daughter was still in bed I cooked her breakfast and put it on a plate.  I walked up the stairs, started a load of laundry and then stood in front of her door.  When knocking didn’t work I opened it: “it’s 11am, Beastie . . . breakfast is on the table getting cold.”

She was down in about 5 minutes.

I cleaned over the weekend, too. My daughter got a trick from her doctor that her attention will focus when she chews gum. So I buy her gum . . . except I find the wrappers everywhere. Particularly on the floor, about 2 feet away from multiple trash cans.

“I find one more gum wrapper on the floor, Beastie, I’m going to start putting them inside your pillow case!”
“sorry…”

Her brothers aren’t immune, either.
“I find one more Game Boy cartridge on the floor I’m going to sell it and keep the money!”
“Sorry dad . . . ”
“I have to clean up one more box you played with in the front room I’m going to make you sleep in it!”
“No you won’t.”
“Oh, really?!  Want to try me?!”
Here their sister steps in . . .
“NO!  Don’t try him, you’ll be sleeping in a box!”

We watched the lunar eclipse and it went really, really well . . . until it didn’t. When one son started standing in front of the telescope and the other tried to whack him with said telescope . . . MY telescope . . .
“I’m going to knock your heads together if you don’t knock it off!”
“No you won’t . . . ”
“Umm . . . ” said the sister, “yeah . . . he did it to Abbi and I once. It really hurts.”
You may say that’s not humorous . . . but in a Three Stooges kind of way, it’s actually really hilarious.

“Grab the telescope, Beastie, it’s time for your brothers to go to bed,” I tell my daughter. She politely obliges.

Then came this morning. By 6:45am I noticed the shower wasn’t running.  I went up the stairs and her door was closed.
“Are you going to go to school today, Beastie, or were you planning to get up sometime today?”
“What time is it?”
“6:45”
“Oh sh…umm…shoot.”
“Good save.”

As she raced down the stairs I’d made her a drink to take with her and a breakfast bar to eat in the car. She looked at me funny.

“Are you going to wake me up every morning and call me “Beastie”?”
I started laughing. Her brothers, too.
“It’s taken you two days to notice I’ve been calling you that?”
She wrinkled her brow.  “I’m a mess,” she informed me.

That she is.

I can verify it because she still hasn’t noticed all the gum wrappers inside her pillow case.

Neither Democracy nor Republic

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Neither Democracy nor Republic

“You need to be the one in charge, otherwise you’re just the tallest person in the room,” is a piece of advice I got very early on.

Funny as that line is, it’s true.

I’ve heard dozens, maybe hundreds of terms describing parenting.

“Helicopter”
“Tiger”
“Authoritarian”
“Dolphin” (for the life of me I have no idea what the hell this one means)
“Hands-off”

The list goes on and on and on and . . .

I found myself, at a certain point, informing my kids of a basic fact of their childhood after a particularly exasperating evening, however.

Kids

I have three kids still at home, you see.  (One is in college, and I hear from her occasionally, but for our purposes today…we’ll go with three.) Twin boys who are 12 and their 16-year-old sister. They seem to take great delight in poking each other, either verbally or emotionally in order to see just how far things will go.

“You’ve been getting at me all day,” said the somewhat larger female figure in the home.
“Well…you always tell me I do things wrong,” said the much smaller male figure in the room.
“It’s true, you do,” said the other smaller male figure.

This led to verbal abuse the likes of which I would gladly recount except I cannot. At this point all three smaller creatures in the home began talking at once.  Well, talking would fall short of the actual adjective. Projecting loudly might be kind. Arguing might be better. Shouting and screaming would be most apt. Eventually it turned into a white noise akin to the loud, 60-cycle “beeeeeeeeep” that comes when color bars appear on your TV screen.

At this point the couch pillows began flying across the room.

“Knock it off…” came my voice, now raised in hopes it rose above the din.

It worked.

For about 1 1/2 seconds.

The next fifteen or twenty were a combination of sounds and flailing body parts that could have filled the 1960’s Batman.

“WHACK”
“SMACK”
“POW”
“POP”

Here’s where I lose it.

“If you don’t KNOCK IT OFF YOU’RE ALL GOING TO BED!”

Now . . . call it teenage hormones. Maybe it’s adrenaline. Or maybe it’s just talking before your brain tells you it’s a really bad idea to say anything . . . but the next words sealed it all.

“You can’t do that, it’s only 8 o’clock!”

Here’s the point where reality is driven home.

“You guys are under the mistaken impression that this is a democracy,” I informed the three smaller people in my home.
“This is no democracy. This is a dictatorship. There’s no electoral college here, boy-o, I’m freaking Stalin!”

Apparently this was said with enough vigor and raised eyebrows that the vision  of a household cleansing like the Russian purge hit home.

Silence ruled.

The somewhat smaller female figure moved to her room and began playing guitar.
The smaller male figure showered. The other male figure opened a Michael Crichton book and began to read.

I then informed them that the kitchen needed cleaning. The television went off, my stereo went on.

Yet, as that dictator, you know when things need to be lighter and pleasant, too. So I put Sly and Family Stone on the turntable.

As “Dance to the Music” hit the needle I started helping with the dishes and suddenly . . . without urging or prodding . . . the small male figures and the tallest person in the home began to do just that. In a dancing assembly line we put dishes in the cupboard while singing and gyrating…badly. We talked homework, problems and successes at school , and then sang with Sly and finished.

Prayers were said. Covers were tucked in. Hugs were had. Friendliness reigned.

As I was logging off my computer a mass of hair from my daughters head hit my shoulder and she kissed my cheek saying good night.

Thus . . . the coup de tat was avoided for one more day.

Though I think I need new couch pillows now.

The Mathematics of Parenting

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The Mathematics of Parenting

I thought it was a card game. That’s it.

My son spent the weekend looking for a full, 52-card, deck of cards so I could see what he does in school. Mind you, I wasn’t exactly sure why they were playing cards at school, but I was willing to go with it. The most creative teachers are often the best ones.

It was about 2 minutes into the whole process that I realized it was a way to teach math problems.

I’m terrible at math, by the way. I often joke “I went into journalism so I wouldn’t have to do math.” (Problem with that statement: I work with a lot of data, information, and databases. I do more math than I would ever have thought possible as a journalist. Go figure)

Four cards. I had to put four cards, face-up, on the table. I can count to four. That much I can do.

7, 7, Jack (10), and 4.

“Now you make an equation,” my son tells me.
I stared at him.
“You mean, like (x+7) / 10 = 4 ?”
“No . . . ”

Bear in mind the “no” was said with eye-rolling disdain.

“Okay, what do you mean?”
“You have to make an equation with all four numbers with addition, subtraction, division, and multiplication.”

I wrote down 7 + 7 = 10 + 4

“No, you have to have it equal as close to 1 as you can.”
I stared at him.
“Huh?”
So I wrote down 7×7 / 10 -4 = .9

No.

“What do you mean no? I got about as close to 1 as you can get!”
“That’s not right,” he tells me.
“What?!”
“You can turn them into fractions.”
“What is wrong?”
“You have to do one addition, one subtraction, one multiplication and one division.”

I stared at the problem.

“So I need to make one of those an addition?”
“No, you need to do one of each.”
“But if I add all these up it will never equal 1 or less.”
“I said, Dad, you can turn them into fractions.”

It was my turn to eye roll my son.

“You’re making this up as you go,” I told him.

“No . . . look if this is too hard for you,” my son informed me.
“You better not finish that sentence,” I informed him.

It was here his brother started chuckling under his breath trying hard not to laugh.

“Laugh it up, furball,” I told him in my best Han Solo.
“What?!” He had the look of someone who just now realized the train was rolling down the track and he was standing in the middle of the bridge.
“Think your Dad can’t do this?”
“NO! I thought you were funny.”
“Funny how,” I asked him.
“No, not funny, like . . . ”
“YOU better not finish that sentence,” I told him.

Their sister, who was home sick all day, had had more than enough.
“Can’t you guys agree Dad’s equation was right?”
“Okay . . . yes,” the instigating son said, “Dad’s equation works, but he still needs to do more equations.”

I spent half an hour trying to get common denominators and reduce fractions and find answers. After a maddeningly annoying period of time it was my son who grew disinterested.

“What are you doing?!”
“I think you’re having too hard a time,” he informed me.
“I got it!”
“Yeah . . . I was just supposed to show you what we were doing at school.”

I suddenly realized, in the throngs of being totally dressed down by my son, that parenting is a lot like this mathematical game.  You can put four separate items (kids in my case) in any order and in the end you get as close to one entity as you can.  Not one equation fits the formula perfectly. You can postulate how you put the four in some sort of order. You can fractionalize them. You can divide them. You can multiply (say, by getting two kids at once).  In the end, though, the answer is always the same. As close to 1 as you’re going to get. 1 family.

In our case, we subtracted . . . by 1. It was a big 1.

With that problem . . . I didn’t give up, either.

The Small Pieces of You

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The Small Pieces of You

As the time has passed and my children have started to find deeper and more striking personalities of their own a very interesting thing seems to have happened.

They are also letting pieces of their family tree sort of branch out in those personalities.

I certainly have pieces in there. My middle daughter up there is a musician. She plays guitar and has a seeming inane sense for lyric that simultaneously makes me proud and jealous. I wish I could write words as easily as she does for my music. Her brother is a guitar player, has a shyness that equaled mine at that age, and seems to have a hard time coming out of his shell, much like his father.

But then . . . I noticed something more in the last few weeks.

Tonight, for example, was nothing in my personality coming out of my daughter.

Occasionally, and this is a rare occasion, I will have time where the boys are in bed and my daughter is upstairs and the lunches are made, kitchen clean, etc. I can actually sit . . . and watch a TV show. I had actually pulled something up on Netflix to watch. I was maybe 10 minutes in when my daughter came down the stairs.

“Hello!”
“Hi.”
“Watching something?”
“Yep. It’s really good! Can’t believe I haven’t watched this before!”
“Cool.”

Now for most people that’s the end of the conversation. However, my daughter has her mother and her grandmother’s genes in there. As I watched James Spader go into a monologue that apparently had a very important bit of information in it my daughter started talking.

“So my friend Zoe . . . ” and it went on from there. (I did listen, I just don’t want to invade her privacy and give her full conversation) Seemingly she timed her own little monologue to end just as the television ended its seemingly important plot twist.

I scrubbed the little line back on the screen and watched my TV spin its beach ball of death counter-clockwise.  All the while, in the painful silence, my daughter remained silent.

Spader began his rant again . . .

“Did you know my teacher Ashley…”

After another 5 minutes I realized I was right where I was five minutes ago. I scrubbed the Netflix show back again. Third time’s a charm.

“Lizzy…” began Spader

“I’m so worried I’m going to fail my history test.”

It’s here I shut off the television.
“Why’d you shut off the TV?”
“You want to talk.”
“Oh . . . no, I just don’t want to study.”
“So . . . you worry you’re going to fail, but not worried enough that you didn’t notice I’ve watched the same 5 minutes of television for the last half hour now.”
“Oh . . . is that why you were doing that?”
“No . . . I was doing that because I thought you wanted to talk.”
“Oh . . . no, I just can’t help that.”
“Yeah, I know. Your mother and grandmother couldn’t, either.”

Here I recounted to her nearly every night of my marriage. We would sit, I would try to have a conversation with my wife and she’d be thoroughly engrossed in some reality show. Real Housewives fascinated her for some reason. When she’d be exhausted she’d ask to go to bed. Right as I reached that twilight, the moment before REM sleep, I’d hear it.

“I’m so worried about work, Davey.”  My wife knew I hated being called Davey, so she did it anyway . . . and more importantly, so I’d wake up.

“Your mother couldn’t stand the silence, it seems,” I told my daughter.
“Oh, that’s awful,” she exclaimed.
“Not awful, just was. I don’t know why.  Your grandmother could never stop talking in the middle of TV or movies.  Even at the theater. Drove your grandfather nuts.”

My daughter blushed a little.

We talked. Finally, she got out her worries about the test.

“Maybe you should go study some more.”
“Yeah . . . that’s a good idea.”
She hugged me, leaned on my shoulder and lie there for about five minutes.

In silence.

“What’s the show about,” she asked me.
“I have absolutely no idea,” I told her.
“It looks cool,” she informed me.  “Can you turn it back on? I want to watch it with you.”
“Okay,” I informed her.

I started the episode from the beginning again. James Spader walks out of the shadows, starts the monologue . . .
“Lizzy…”

and then

“So I was thinking about Homecoming, Dad . . . ”

 

It Needs to be Done

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It Needs to be Done

Every once in awhile I get asked the question:

“What do you do if you get sick?”

There really isn’t an answer to that question. Not at all.

This weekend was a perfect example of that.

I have a back problem, a chronic one. It’s not something I complain regularly about (okay, not much) but it’s always there. From years of carrying tons of gear around and doing it the wrong way – yes . . . I was stupid in my youth . . . my spine compressed in the last few vertebrae. My back, you see, has the discs get closer and closer together as they go down.

I don’t know what I did. Sometimes it’s something stupid, like getting up off the couch and you feel it strain. The entire weekend I’ve been in agony.

So what do you do when that happens?

You parent like always.

In agony.

It’s not something you have a choice about. There were four days’ worth of laundry to wash, fold, and put away.  I made the kids put the clothes away.  There were dinners to be made. Sure, they could try and cook one but we’d have Mac and Cheese or sandwiches each night. They need (and so do I) something a bit healthier than that.

The house was disgustingly dirty. I’d had a lot of late hours last week and didn’t have time to oversee all the cleaning and chores and as a result they were, let’s just say, neglected. Add to that the normal weekend cleaning that we need to do and suddenly things are a hairy.

Then do that with shooting pain down your leg every time you bend.

I didn’t do this as a martyr. My kids didn’t sit and play videogames while I cried “woe is me, my children don’t care!” No . . . they worked. But even with four of us working the house doesn’t get clean easily. While one did the kitchen another did the sinks, I did toilets (because, god forbid they clean up their own pee and what have you). One dusted everything and then I vacuumed.

I made brownies, which is pretty simple. Once I was upright, I was fine. It’s getting upright that’s an issue.

The same thing happens if I get a cold or the flu or strep or any other disease.

The difference now, compared to if some other issue was to have happened, is my kids worried about me.

“Do you need to go to the doctor,” my son asked?
“No, this just happens. If it gets worse I’ll go.”
When I lie down to ease the pressure on my back they put blankets on me. When I got up they asked if I needed to take medicine.

My kids, you see, lost one parent. They don’t really want to lose another, not right now. I get that . . . and they won’t, not if I can help it.

So yes . . . I work through all the illnesses and the injuries. The thing is . . . now, I just don’t do it alone.

It Hurts Me Too…

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It Hurts Me Too

“Get some sleep…”

It’s a credo used by every parent. I don’t care what language you use, either.

“Etwas zu schlafen”; “duerme un poco”; “a fhail ar roinnt codlata”

The meaning is the same. You’re driving me nuts, you’re too exhausted, you’re going to get sick which will in turn get your siblings or – worse – me sick. I don’t have time for that.

Get…Some…Sleep!

As parents, though, we don’t think about the turnabout of our own words.

This happened last night to me with my middle daughter. I’ve had a particularly stressful and difficult project to contend with at work which, in turn, caused many late nights. I’ve managed to get dinners pre-prepared for the kids and given them the contingency plan for when I’m inevitably late. This isn’t an issue.

Yet when I get to work early and leave late only to come home and have to wash the PE clothes, clean the kitchen, and make lunches and prep dinner for the next day, it’s just not a good combination. My stress also caused me the last few nights to awaken in the middle of the night in a panic with video clips running through my head. I can’t shake off that feeling quickly so the sleeplessness continues.

In the middle of all this walked my middle child.

“You look exhausted,” she told me.
“Glad I don’t look better than I feel,” was my response.
“You can’t do that, Dad. We need you around.”  I looked at her, threw out a “yeah, I know,” and she didn’t let up.
“You need to get some sleep,” was her response.

She did all but quote the old Elmore James tune “when things go wrong with you, it hurts me, too.” But there you have it. She got the gist of it out.

The kids have already seen the loss of one parent and they became keenly aware, unfortunately, that we aren’t immortal. Parental immortality is supposed to last at least until they graduate high school, or that’s my theory. Mine disappeared in 2011 with the loss of their mother.

So here my child sits, worried about me instead of the other way around.

Still . . . I took her advice.
“There’s Mac and Cheese in the cupboard,” I told her. “Think you guys could do that for dinner tomorrow instead?”
YES!” was the unequivocal response from the 3 kids in my home. It doesn’t always take much to make them happy.

Here I fixed lunches, looked at my daughter, and at a rare 9:30pm informed her “I’m going to bed.”

I slept like a rock.

The next morning I was just as exhausted, but not as beat down as before.

It’s not often you get advice from your kids, particularly your own advice, but when you get it, it’s best that you take it. They are right. When things happen to me they worry and there’s not point in making them worry. That just makes things harder on all of us.

It’s ironic, though, that I take their advice and as I sit here . . . they fight going to bed tonight tooth. . . and . . . nail.

Technologically Secure

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Technologically Secure

I get mixed reactions when I tell people that I want my kids to know that they are the biggest part of my life but they are not all my life. The other day they came to work and saw another side of their Dad. People came up and said hello, met them, and they for the first time, in waiting for me to finish saw another side of their Dad before we could leave for dinner.

I also have rehearsed on more than a few occasions for a fundraising gig with a group of insanely talented musicians.  Again, the kids are taken care of but told that their Dad has something going on and they will have to make sure their homework is finished and do the normal evening routine.

Some say “good for you!” Others…well others have given me an earful.

Let’s skip the debate over “parent” Dave versus “Dave, Dave” for the moment, though.

My kids are getting older, for sure, and their need for complete and utter supervision every second of the day just isn’t what it used to be. Add to that the fact that all of us took on a heavier load and much more responsibility when my wife – their mother – passed away and you see that I have four very mature and wonderful semi-adults in my household.

There are still things that keep them secure in the knowledge I’m there and connected, though. Technology, you see, is an amazing thing.

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I broke down, finally, and got the last two kids a cell phone.  (They share it)  I may very well be the oddball in the sphere of influence where we live. They, I think, are the last two children to have survived 12 whole years without a cell phone, iPad, iPod or other piece of technology. I did it, though, because they are now doing out of school activities and I need to be able to talk to them, much like their two older sisters.

Tonight I saw the security that the technology holds for them, though, too. I had a rehearsal with a band mate and brought my middle daughter with me. She’s playing guitar on one of our songs. The boys had their new cell phone and I informed them we’d be late. Past their bedtime kind of late.

For the boys this wasn’t a huge deal, but I do tend to tuck them in every night, still. So when we had just started to begin working on harmonies my cell phone buzzed.

“We are in our PJ’s, homework is finished, and we need you to sign some stuff.”

I paused and took the time to answer.

In the middle of working out a guitar line another text.

“Can we have cereal?”  They wanted their equivalent of a midnight snack.
“Sure.”

Even when doing my own adult activities I’m connected. They really didn’t need to ask but it makes them feel better to do it.

As the bedtime hour approached, more than a half-dozen texts asked and answered, my daughter says “The boys are texting you . . . again.”

This time they’d found the audio text feature. It was very short so I assumed it was a mistake and we continued our work. It wasn’t until we were packing up I listened to it.

“Good night Dad,” said one son. “Good night Dad,” said the other.
“We love you!” was the end. That was it.

It’s not a security blanket, but it certainly gives them security. I got home, put all the gear away and found them in their beds, tucked in neatly, dreaming heavily.

“I love you, too,” I said.

Yep…You’re Cool!

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Yep…You’re Cool

My son slipped on the glasses, sat in the chair and his oldest sister said “no! You have to put your hand on your chin like he does!”

My son put the hand there, an upright “thinker” position and said “just call me Dave Manoucheri, investigative reporter!”

It got a chuckle out of me…an outright burst of laughter from the rest of the room.

My children, after four years of my working at my job, had never come to my work and actually seen what I do every day. They had been visiting a museum and decided to stop by and say hello. When they reminded me they’d never seen a newscast and how it operates I figured the least I could do was let them do that.

The boys were amazed. When robotic cameras went moving around on the floor unaided by human hands the boy up there was awestruck. When they met the anchors they see on the television they were . . . well . . . awestruck again.  When they saw the editing booths, the cameras, the giant empty studio we use for everything else they were flabbergasted.

“Which is your desk,” they had asked me after the tour.
“The one with what looks like a shrine to you four,” a colleague informed them. I hadn’t thought about it, but yes…I have a lot of pictures of my kids sitting on my desk. I’m very proud of them. They have persevered through a lot of terrible, horrible things and they aren’t at all bitter about it.

Not to say that I haven’t been informed of the major limitations of my parenting abilities by, particularly, my two daughters. There are a lot of things about raising girls that you really need to have a woman around to help you with and I just didn’t. It was better, though, for me to stumble along than to bring someone in with no connection to them whatsoever just so they’d have a female adult in the household. I stand by that decision.

“This is so cool,” my sons said of the television station where I work.
“I thought you’d all been here before,” I told them.
“Well, yeah, but we didn’t really get to see anything,” they told me.

Their older sister wasn’t as impressed.  When she was a toddler she was in live shots and segments for the news all the time.  I worked in a consumer unit and we always needed video of a kid doing something or a home for a backdrop, which was always mine.  It was second nature for her to be on television.

Your work is so cool, said my middle daughter. “So are the people you work with.  Tell them we said that!” she added.
“Dad’s cool, too,” said my son.
“Nah…I’m just Dad,” I told him.
“No…you get to do all these things, you changed a law, you play guitar, you are in a band with a guy that played with all these famous people…you’re pretty cool,” he told me.

My kids got to see that my out-of-home life was far more complex and intense than they thought. It was a wonder to them that I get to do all this stuff and then still come home and quote Monty Python to them.

I was just starting to bask in the admiration of the “coolness” they’d bestowed upon me when my other son decided to copy his Dad at the desk.

He put on the glasses, looked up and went “whoah…ugh…man, you can’t see very well can you!”

Aaaaand…thus endeth the coolness.