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Entries in Children (4)

Saturday
Feb222014

There are Times I Miss my Kids

My kids, their spouses and fiancés and I share pictures, bad jokes and general updates on a group messaging list.  One “text” message goes to the whole group.  It’s handy when reaching everyone is important.

A recent message touched my heart.  My son sent out a text regarding his newborn….

I miss Lea :(

He had just gone back to work after living in the bubble of experiencing her birth and bringing the little one home.

It made me think of all the times I missed my kids…

  • When I went to work – and also when I had to stay late, or got a call during an event.  The kids were always “safe,” so it was just me missing them (and sometimes feeling guilt.)
  • When they went to school (first day) – Kindergarten was bad enough, but the tears dropping them off at college were poignant.  I never had any real concerns in the local school system.  We always felt the teachers and administrators had our childrens’ best interests at heart.

    College was some of the longest times apart and certainly offered the kids their greatest growth opportunities.  We looked forward to their return and seeing how they developed.  And I was generally unaware of the things they did in college.  This was nature’s way of keeping me calm.  After all, I know what I did. 
  • When someone was away on a trip – I missed them when I travelled, and certainly missed them when they went away.  Generally speaking I travelled for work, and they did summer camp trips from time to time.  In our case they were always close enough to rescue (such as when a religious camp made a bit of a left turn, or when a youngster was a bit too young for an overnight football camp.)
  • When they moved out – my kids moved in and out a bit after college before settling on “out.”  My daughter had been home three months when she announced, “Dad, our town is DULL.”   Of course, I immediately knew where the conversation was going, and replied, “I know, isn’t it just wonderful?”  And yes, I helped move her.  The house is quiet now, and while there were times when the noise of competing entertainment outlets drove me nutty, I can honestly say I miss seeing them regularly.
  • The first time they drove on their own out of the yard – I’m a big believer in getting kids behind the wheel and comfortable.  Accidents for new drivers are commonplace, allowing me to expand my horizons and be on a first name basis with the auto body shop.  Even with all the training and supervised driving, the first solo trip put my heart in my throat and had me on edge until they returned.

They were also missed during catrosophes….at least until we could hold them:

On a normal basis, I recognize my kids are doing what they are supposed to do, as am I, and we’ll be together again soon.  It is the “normal.”

Your kids are also missed when you write a blog post about missing them….so allow me to wrap this and call my kids.

Once last question: when do you miss your kids?

Wednesday
Sep262012

Why one restaurant declares, “No Lifeguards on Duty”

Restaurant owners are a fickle bunch.  They basically dedicate themselves to a lifestyle, toiling away long hours to make a living.  Yet one thing they all seem to agree on is kids need to be watched.

Let’s think about making a pizza.  For purposes of this post, let’s assume the owner has $6 profit on every pie sold.  And let’s assume re-upholstering a booth costs $1000, or 166 pizzas.  One hundred sixty six pizzas.  That’s a lot of dough.

Is it any surprise restaurant owners bristle when the soccer team comes in for a celebratory pizza and jump up on the upholstered seats with their cleats on?

To be clear, the restaurant owner wants the soccer team to come celebrate and have a nice time.  What restaurant owners do not understand is why parents allow their kids to “run free” in their restaurant.

Many owners are hesitant to say anything as they don’t want to offend the parents.  However, if a running child knocks down an elderly patron, who is at fault?  The child’s parents or the proprietor.

We recently saw a funny sign at a restaurant we frequent.  While keeping with the theme of the restaurant it gives parents a subtle hint at appropriate behavior.

I celebrate this.  It’s only common sense, and something some parents seem to lose when they go out with children. 

To be clear, I am not suggesting children be “little angels.” It’s just they can have a nice time without destroying the efforts of others.

What’s your view?

Wednesday
Jun062012

Should Children Work?

I’ve had a job since I was twelve.  My first job was “odd jobs” (mowing, trash duty, painting) at a motel.  My next job was maintaining clay tennis courts…requiring  weed control, regular rolling, sweeping, and line painting.  All through high school I worked in a marina doing everything…painting boat bottoms, pumping gas, engine tune-ups, bailing, cleaning (boats and bathrooms/showers), steam cleaning boat bottoms, winterizing and boat shows (selling boats.)  Honestly, this may have been my best job ever, but I digress.

My jobs were so I could have money.  Mom and Dad provided everything else.  In hindsight, I was very fortunate.

Should kids work?  My simple view is they should work (and to be clear up front, I am NOT talking about exploiting children or violating child labor laws.)

Why should they work?

It helps prepare them for their future.

When a child works, they are learning responsibility (showing up for a job means getting out of bed which means getting into bed the night before.)  They are often get exposed to the very basics of a small business (handling cash, inventory control, how to “present” something in a retail environment.

My sense is the child labor laws have gone so far it is hard for small businesses’ to hire a child.  In Massachusetts, having a knife in a kitchen raises the minimum age of the employee.

That said, my son got his first job working in agriculture.  It’s not what he wanted to do for his life, but the florist shop growing a lot of their plants would hire him.  He would weed fields (and ironically rarely helped weed flower beds at home.)  My daughter got hired by Target as a cashier, and worked her way into store Human Resources…a career field she continues in to this say.  For a season, one scooped ice cream.  Another helped in lawn care….never touching chemicals and helping with blowing off driveways, moving bags of grass seed, etc.  Note: local businesses are a great source for summer jobs…and as Dad I appreciate each of these businesses to this day.

Each one learned responsibility, and neither seemed worse for the wear.  They balanced the priorities of school, sports, and working.  And they learned the value of a dollar.

How about your kids?  Do they work or not?  If not, what do they do?

Wednesday
Oct122011

Divorce Living Arrangements

“I want a divorce, I want to be free.”

Those words, spoken by my (now ex) wife over dinner at a nearby establishment, started a process challenging me as a man and a father.

At that time in Massachusetts, most mothers got to have sole custody of the children.  I couldn’t stomach the thought of being a Disneyland Dad, seeing my kids for dinner once or twice during the week, and then every other weekend. 

My mind raced….are you serious?  Why?  What about the kids?  What about the house?  What about the debt?  What about….

Kids don’t get a vote in their parents’ divorce.  It is thrust on them, decided by someone else, and having an immediate impact on them.

“Here’s the ‘wife of my life’ declaring war,” went through my mind.  At a time when communication was key, communications was immediately strained and tense.

To our credit, we agreed whatever our “baggage” was, we would minimize the impact on the kids.  They would obviously have impacts, and many of them.

We agreed to approach this in a manner we thought would help the kids.  We would get a single room somewhere, and we would move in and out of the house.

Rather than immediately getting separate residences, and having the kids shuttled around or worse, we agreed the kids would stay put and we would move in and out.

So, every Sunday at 5PM the official switch took place.

Please don’t think for a minute this is a perfect solution for everyone.  It worked for us because we agreed to minimize the impact on the children.

It was hard on each of us, and certainly hard on the kids.  Yet they slept in their own bed each night, and their pets (guinea pig, Chinese water dragon, and dog) didn’t have to move either.  Schools were never an issue as the children’s residence didn’t change.  Wardrobes remained the same.

We had to try hard to not have the kids be the communications conduit for us (“tell your mom….”) 

Some norms had to be set….the house had to be reasonably clean, lawn mowed, laundry caught up…in other words we couldn’t drop all the chores on the other parent.

Was it perfect?  Absolutely not.  It challenging for each parent (whether we were in the house or not.)

It worked for us solely because we agreed to minimize the impact on the kids during a time of high impact.

Since so many people immediately move out, an alternative approach just might be useful.

From time to time I’ll share some fatherhood insights on divorce, as sadly parenting through divorce is something we all need to talk about.  Please feel free to share your experiences.