The Pace of Life

My apologies for not posting in forever! You know how sometimes life sets itself on warp speed…and then picks up the pace?

Tomorrow (Easter) marks the second birthday of our youngest child. Ellie has been a wonderful addition to our family. She’s the second daughter and creates the other bookend to keeping our three boys in line!

image

Smiling...to make sure we would too!

And then, next Friday our other bookend…err…daughter, Oriyah, will be turning eleven. This takes me back to the whole pace of life thing. I can clearly remember that day when we first became parents. How can it have been eleven years already? I’m convinced being a parent somehow accelerates time. Any other parents care to chime in with their tales of lost time?

Until next time…

Daylight Savings Time: A Conspiracy Theory

Somewhere in some (I imagine) dark, damp, creepy cave there is a secret organization that meets. This organization – for the purpose of this blog (my blog, my rules), I have named M.A.G.I.C. (which is an acronym for Make All Grown-ups Insane Co-op – exists for the sole purpose of finding (as the name implies) more and more ways to make parents go insane (M.A.P.I.C. just doesn’t have the same ring).

Children are "innocent."

The organization usually starts small. Things like fighting with their siblings…”forgetting” where they put their shoes…informing you that they have a huge report due at bedtime the night before it is due…you get the picture.

All their other efforts pale in comparison to their most heinous scheme: Daylight Savings Time. You see, this is a global occurrence (except in equatorial and tropical climates) that pulls out all the stops on making parents go googly-eyes, pulling their hair out, insane.

As a result of losing an hour of sleep, you mental faculties are already running at less than optimal levels. But then, your kids go into crazed lunatic mode. Waking them up in the morning makes you feel as if you’re hearkening a zombie apocalypse. And don’t even get me started on bedtime. Although all the clocks say bedtime, their darn internal clocks aren’t adjusted yet. Even though the clock says it’s 10:00 PM, their bodies say “I’m a rabid monkey!!!”

And then there are the daylight hours. Sleep deprivation makes even the slightest issue become World War III. You ask them to do their chores…melt-down. You tell them to brush their teeth…crisis mode. You tell them it is pajama time…the harbinger of the apocalypse is unleashed!

So, you and your children are sent into this downward spiral of sleep deprivation and temper tantrums. How long will it take for your bodies to adjust? Scientists worldwide have been trying to address this maddening issue, but they’re all too insane from Daylight Savings Time to get anything done.

Waterboarding: A More Human Alternative to Daylight Savings Time.

If I survive this Daylight Savings Time adjustment period without totally losing it, I need to start formulating a plan to stop M.A.G.I.C.’s evil plan. I only have 361 more days, time is of the essence!

Until next time…

When I Was Your Age…

When I was younger, I can remember making fun of my parents when they’d tell stories about how things were when they were kids. Now, I’m afraid my kids might be doing the same thing to me. I can remember the one year when there was no school bus service due to budget cuts. I had to ride my bike or walk to school every day of my fifth grade year. Now my kids complain if they have to wait for a few minutes at the bus stop. But when I go to tell them how hard I had it (it wasn’t barefoot, uphill both ways in the snow like MY parents had, but still), I have to stop myself. I find myself sounding too much like my parents did and, frankly, it creeps me out!

Pictured: My parents school commute (why hadn't they invented shoes yet???).

Is that just a natural part of life? It reminds me of the words of Job in the Bible (taken totally out of context): “What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me.” (Job 3:25 – NIV). I know that’s not what Job was talking about (imagine Job’s “When I was your age” speeches to HIS kids), but that’s how I feel.

Every day when I look in the mirror, I see fresh signs that I’m not in my twenties anymore. I have to put my glasses on first to see it, but there are speckles of gray in my once dark brown hair. I have these few stubborn hairs in the direct center of my goatee (subtlety isn’t my facial hair’s strong suit) that are gleaming white and seem to grow faster than any others. I have these creeping lines in my once smooth skin.

Do I fear getting older? No. But it doesn’t mean I have to enjoy it. I’m not going to be one of those guys who tries to fight it though. I’m not going to dye my hair or Just for Men my facial hair. I’m going to accept the natural changes as they come. Sure, I’m working on losing some weight, but I’m not going to Botox or lift any part of my body.

Do I feel old? No, I’m only 33 after all. I don’t really know what happened to all those years. I can hardly believe that this year marks 16 years since I graduated from high school. Next year, I’ll be twice the age I was at graduation!

Now, I can hear you thinking, “Come on Mike, this is a blog about being a Daddy to five kids. We don’t read this to hear you talk about how old you’re getting.” But, that’s just the thing. As I reflect back on the past twelve years since my wife and I got married, I’m amazed at how quickly it has gone. It is true what they say: Time Flies!

Time flies

It has machine guns too!

So, as I look in the mirror and notice all the evidences of my advancing age, I turn around and look at the five kids I have. I know beyond a doubt that I’ve earned each and every gray hair. I can smile and know that each of those gleaming white hairs in my goatee represents one of my children. I can know that those lines were earned smiling and laughing (and sometimes frowning) at all the things my kids do. And my eyesight…well, that’s just genetics! So, your attitude about aging is really up to you. You can lament your fading youth, or embrace it – you have earned it!

Until next time…

Which Way Did He Go???

Perhaps you’ve seen the old Merrie Melodies cartoon “Of Fox and Hounds” featuring the character that said, “Which way did he go, George?” If not, you can watch it here in its entirety.

Proof that violence in cartoons is definitely NOT a new thing...

In this cartoon, you see this overly stupid hound dog fox hunting. He’s so unintelligent, he runs up to the fox (named George) and asks him if he has seen a fox. He tells him the fox went the other way. So he runs off, gets injured, and then figures out it was the fox the whole time. He then runs into a fox in a painfully obvious hound dog costume (zipper visible), who identifies himself as George also. He tells him the fox went the other way. The scene repeats over and over again. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If not, watch it at the link above.

Not that this has anything to do with my post, but it does. As a parent with multiple children, too often we get so busy and so wrapped up in the craziness of life, we can hardly seem to find ourselves. It’s so bad that when we are without children for a day (where did those kids go?), we barely know what to do with ourselves. We sit, eerily spooked by this new-found thing called silence. We look at each other and try to figure out what exactly it was we did before we had kids. It’s a very odd experience.

We know we used to be individual people. We know we used to have hobbies and friends. But somehow, all that stuff got swallowed up by our life with children. The single people we used to hang out with just don’t seem to get us anymore. The married couples who haven’t been “blessed” with children yet seem too put together for us to relate. So, here we are all by ourselves – no kids – and we can’t think of a single thing to do.

So, what usually ends up happening is we do the one thing we can’t do when kids are around. No, not THAT thing…we sleep. Sleep is the first piece of normalcy that disappears upon having your first child. I’m told that eventually you’re able to sleep again, but I don’t think I’ve had a solid eight hours of sleep in nearly eleven years, so I’ll have to take their word for it. I guess I’ll believe it when I see it.

How is it that who we are gets swallowed up by our kids? What happened to all the stuff we used to do? Surely those pieces must exist somewhere? Surely there must be some shred of who we once were somewhere in there?

Pictured: Life With Children.

Perhaps once your kids are teenagers, a shred of normality returns? But then there are dances, dating, and driving. The dreaded triple “D” of parenthood! How can you sleep with all that going on? Sure, maybe your kids can drive and be more independent, but, really, should they? From what I’ve heard from parents of teenagers, life gets even more hectic once they get a little older. I don’t know if I can even fathom MORE hectic. My heart skips a beat even thinking of it.

My only solace is that someday, when all my kids are adults with jobs and families, I’ll find myself again. I’m sure I’m in here somewhere. And, if I recall, I was a pretty cool person (it was 2001, so my memory is kind of fuzzy)! If I’m still blogging in sixteen more years, maybe this will become a “finding myself again” blog. Time will tell.

In the immortal words of Bugs Bunny

Until next time…

Say What?!?

My wife and I were relaxing watching TV on this wonderful Friday afternoon, when our four year old, Seth, burst into the living room freaking out. He shouts,”YOU HAVE TO COME HELP!!! THEY ARE PUTTING IN A SCARY MOVIE AND I DON’T LIKE IT! IT HAS A BLACK PERSON AND IT’S SCARY!!!”

I went to check out the “scary” movie. It was Meet the Robinsons. He was scared of the man in the bowler hat…who DRESSES in all black. Too funny!

image

The face of fear.

As a parent, you have to learn the art of masking laughter. There’s pretending to be in deep thought and bowing your head. There’s turning your laugh into a fake cough. Maybe you have other methods. Would love to hear them.

But sometimes you are so caught off guard and you totally lose it. You can’t help but laugh out loud. Today was one of those. Oh well, there’s always tomorrow.

Until next time…

Short-Term Memory Loss

Somewhere in the deep, dark recesses of the night, something in the mind of a child seems to reset. I’m convinced they forget every single thing that occurred in the previous 24 hours while they sleep.

Every morning, I wake my kids up for school. And every morning, it’s like I have to remind them of every single step of getting ready in the morning. They seem in awe at the fact that they have to wear pants. They don’t understand why I get frustrated at the blank stare I receive when I tell them to put their shoes on. Each morning, it’s like they’re doing everything for the first time in their lives and don’t have the faintest clue what to do next. “You mean I have to get dressed today?” “What?!? There’s school today?!?”

Like this, only without penguins and a German she-male.

And while I’m on the subject of shoes, why is it that kids never seem to have a clue where their shoes are? You know that you designated a place for them to put their shoes when they take them off. You know that no one else wore their shoes yesterday. You know it, and yet they seem convinced that in the night, some being of darkness must sneak into our house for the sole purpose of wreaking havoc upon their shoe collection and ruining the morning.

But the more I think about it, I think it must happen more than just at night. Think about it. You know they spend six to seven hours of their day in school. You know they learned things. You know they had recess. You know their teacher talked to them. But every day, you ask them how school was. Their response, “Good.” So, like the good parent you are, you ask them, “What did you learn?”

Easy question, don’t you think? But without fail, their answer is always, “I don’t know.” So, you press them for clues. “What did you do at school today?” They reply, “Uhhh…umm…I had a corn dog for lunch!”

You, as the good parent, keep searching for any hint. “What did your teacher talk about?” Blank stares, followed by, “I don’t remember.”

You know your children have just spent approximately half of their waking hours at school. But for whatever reason, they have no recollection of anything that occurred during that time. What exactly do they do at school?

I'm guessing it looks something like this.

So, they wake up each day and have no clue what they need to do to prepare for the day. You send them on their merry way to school, and when they return home, they have absolutely no clue what their day consisted of. And then it comes time for bed. They seem surprised every night when the same time rolls around and you tell them it’s bedtime.

Either their memory is like an etch-a-sketch, or the Men in Black are sneaking in and wiping their memory with that little pen thing.

Whatever the cause, this leaves us, as parents, feeling like we’re stuck in a different film:

Yep, this is my life.

Until next time…

Dealing with Tweens

A few years ago, this word “Tween” popped up. For those of you who might not know (or have lived under a rock for the past decade but are mysteriously familiar with the workings of the internet), a “tween” is a child who is out of the “kid stage” of life but not quite a teenager. In looking up the term, it is used to refer to kids as young as eight, but in my mind, a tween is a kid that has hit the double-digits but isn’t yet 13.

By the accepted definition, our oldest two children are tweens. But by my definition, only my daughter, Oriyah, is truly a tween. This may differ from child to child, but Joey, my nine-year old is very much still a kid. Oriyah, on the other hand, has entered into the true no-mans land of tween-hood.

According to an image search, a tween is someone with an extremely dysfunctional sense of what the word "fashion" means.

As we were walking into our local Wal-mart tonight, she says to me, “Well, Dad, I guess I’m a tween now.” It was just a very matter-of-fact statement of how she sees herself. And I guess, in a sense, it’s true. She has started having little mini-teenage attitudes at times. She’s starting to get annoyed sometimes when we ask her to help with her younger siblings. Don’t get me wrong, I still think Oriyah is a wonderful person and she is a big help around the house. I’m just starting to see little bits of teen-ness starting to peek through.

As a Dad, this makes everything in me start to panic a little bit. The idea that my daughter is going to start being interested in boys (or probably already is) freaks me out. (The realization that boys are going to start being interested in my daughter, on the other hand, makes me want to start purchasing high caliber sniper rifles and start taking training courses in Ju Jitsu or something).

As far back as recorded time, kids have always wanted to grow up faster than they ought to. But for some reason, it seems to me that kids are trying to grow up so much faster these days. Maybe it’s all the technology. Maybe it’s media-driven. Maybe it’s just that I’m getting older.

When I was 10, there was no such thing as a “tween.” You were a kid and did kid stuff, and then one day puberty hit, and suddenly you were a teen. There was no in-between. Kid…BOOM…teen. End of story. Does anyone have any insight as to where this notion that we need such a thing as tweens came from? Please feel free to share your ideas in the comments.

For now, I’m heading out to line the perimeter of my yard with razor wire…my daughter is growing up!!!

Until next time…