November 3, 2012

Just like his dad

He is seven going on eighteen. The speed in which he is growing up continues to amaze me. The little hands that used to seem so fragile against my own are now big enough to throw a baseball and hit Ctrl+Alt+Delete at the same time.

And as he continues to grow, both physically and emotionally, I keep trying to remind myself that I am not only watching a child grow, I’m helping a boy grow into a man. I am keenly aware that how I act, what I say, how I say it, will have a lasting effect on who TheMonk becomes.

To this end, I have to say that it’s not easy. I have to practice patience when patience is in low supply. I have to listen when I’d rather tell. I have to give time, even when time is short.

I also need to remember that I am his father. I have to discipline when I’d rather look the other way. I have to say no when I’d really like to say yes. I have to teach that there are consequences to poor choices – even when I could easily shield him from the consequences.

And finally, I have to show him what it’s like to live freely. To love openly. To take risks when the reward can be great. To be honest, respectful, and caring. In short, I have show him the kind of man I want to be.

Only time will tell if I’m successful. But time is short and this is the one time where patience can’t be had. I hope that one day, he’ll look back on his childhood and recognize that his dad sure loved him. And that maybe being like his dad isn’t such a bad thing.

June 12, 2012

They Say It’s Your Birthday

Seven years.

I can’t believe it’s been seven years.  It seems like I’ve always known you.  The sound of your laughs, the way you speak, the smell of your skin during a goodnight kiss.  All of this is you and before there was you doesn’t even resonate with me anymore.

I am incredibly proud of both of you.  Swee’Pea, you really hit your stride this year in school.  You read at almost a sixth grade level and, socially, you blossomed into someone who makes good friends.  Monk, you loved first grade.  Your teacher was the perfect teacher for you and you soaked up school.  Your math and analytical skills are amazing and your love of Junie B. Jones is unmatched.

But I can’t believe it’s been seven years.  Just yesterday, you were snuggling in my arms.  Just yesterday, I was watching you take your first steps.  Just yesterday, you were clinging to my legs on your first day of preschool.  Just yesterday, you weren’t seven.

And now you are.  You are the most wonderful seven-year-olds the world has ever seen. You radiate joy and revel in the world around you.  You believe in magic.  You believe in fairies and Santa and the Easter bunny too.  I hope, in some way, you will always continue to believe what precocious little seven-year-olds believe.

But I also hope that you’ll slow this ride down just a bit.  Seven years.  It seems like yesterday.

Seven Years Old
Happy Birthday to my beautiful kids

May 20, 2012

She’s got his back

Swee’Pea and TheMonk get to buy lunch at the school cafeteria one time a week.  It’s our favorite day of the week because they get to choose what they want at the cafeteria and I don’t have to make lunches.  It’s a win-win.

A little more than week ago, on a Friday, Swee’Pea and TheMonk came home from school and I asked them what they had for lunch that day.  Swee’Pea excitedly rattled off her choice of pizza, salad, orange slices and, for dessert, a frozen orange juice fruit bar.  This last item is considered a dessert and all other items must be eaten before eating the fruit bar.  This rule, I imagine, is rarely enforced because the kids self-report that they ate everything to get their juice bar.  With this in mind, I asked TheMonk what he ate.  With a dejected look on his little face, he explained that he chose pizza, carrots and spicy pickles.  “But the pickles were too spicy so I didn’t eat them and I couldn’t get my fruit bar.”

Fast forward a few days later and I ask Swee’Pea and TheMonk which day they want to buy lunch.  Swee’Pea votes for Wednesday.  TheMonk votes for Friday.  I tell them, “I’m not going to make one lunch so you two need to talk it out.  Explain your reasoning on why you want the day you want.”

Swee’Pea goes first.  “I want to buy lunch on Wednesday because it’s “brunch for lunch” and we get pancakes.”  This is a compelling argument and I expect TheMonk to readily agree with his sister.  Who would turn down pancakes?!

TheMonk, however, isn’t swayed.  He looks up at both his sister and I and he simply says, “I want my popsicle.”

Swee’Pea, bless her heart, without missing a beat, says.  “Okay.  Friday.”

May 1, 2012

Potty Mouth, Katy Perry

TheMonk is in his usual spot on the couch. It’s the spot that has a power strip hanging over the side that he has his iPod plugged into. The iPod, on this day, is plugged into travel speakers and he listens to his music while singing along.

TheMonk mimics his current favorite, Carrie Underwood’s Jesus Take the Wheel, perfectly hitting the high notes with his young, prepubescent voice. I am not paying too close attention as he sings but I am aware that he is, as ever, ensconced in the music.

I vaguely sense that the song has changed and before a few moments have passed, I recognize Katy Perry’s voice singing on the iPod. TheMonk and I make eye contact and he looks at me with the seriousness of a straight and narrow six-year-old and says, “Daddy. Katy Perry says a bad word in this song.”

Immediately my mind races to the catalog of Katy Perry songs that I have indexed in my brain. Last Friday Night jumps to the front and I begin to race through the lyrics in my head looking for the bad word that that hussy Katy Perry surely uttered.

But TheMonk beat me to it. “She says, Daddy, SHUT UP.”

The seriousness and somber tone that TheMonk delivers this sad news is difficult to replicate in the written word but suffice it to say that we had to pause for a moment of reflection and silence. When I make eye contact again I realize that the boy is expecting me to say something.

“Oh, right. ‘Shut up’ is very rude to say, isn’t it?” I ask, hoping that the reverent tone in my voice adequately matches the expectations of TheMonk. It seems to as he solemnly nods and turns back to his music. By this time, the music has changed again.

Ah, Taylor Swift, where have you been?

April 13, 2012

Substance Over Style

It’s Friday. Which means the favorite clothes have been worn and the kids are reduced to bargaining with their dad over what they can and cannot wear. Normally, this back and forth is with Swee’Pea. I have often said that I could hand TheMonk a garbage bag with holes for arms and a head and he’d put it on with no argument.

But not today.

It’s threatening rain here in paradise – so our normal shorts and t-shirt attire is out of the question. Unfortunately, the entire week has been a bit chilly and TheMonk has worn all of his pants. I am skeptical when he tells me he has no pants left so I check his drawer. Sure enough, there is one pair of jeans in the drawer.

I pull the stylishly faded jeans out and hand them to TheMonk. “But Daddy,” he says. “I don’t like those jeans. When I put them on, they squeeze my booty too much.”

Upon closer inspection, I realize that these jeans, bought with love by Grandmother, are tapered and would probably fall into the “skinny jean” category of fashion.

“Okay, Buddy.” I laugh. “Lets dig some jeans out of the hamper to wear. I don’t want your booty to be squeezed.”

Now let’s just hope he doesn’t learn of the sagging jean trend. Then I’m really in trouble.

January 23, 2012

Hats off to you, my son

You asked me for a hat to keep your head warm. It seemed a silly request considering that we live in warm, sunny San Diego but it’s been cold in the mornings lately (low 40′s!) and your little ears and head were feeling the brunt of the cold on our morning walks to the bus stop.

On my lunch break the other day, I stopped off at the local store and picked you and your sister up a knit hat for a whopping $4.01. Bargain. I was excited to bring it to you and you were equally excited to receive it. The first night, you slept with it on your cute little head and it was evident you were excited to wear your hat to school.

As I returned home from work after your first day at school with your new hat, I was eager to find out how the day had went. It was then that I received some news that made me hurt for you.

You tell me, “Some girls in my class made fun of my hat today, Daddy.”

I can see the sadness in your face and that you are struggling with the conflict between the love of your hat and the acceptance of your peers. I give you a hug and as I pull away I ask you if this made you sad. You nod yes with solemn eyes and I pull you close again, searching for a way to take away the hurt.

As I hold you in an embrace, I whisper into your ear, “Buddy, the important thing is that you love the hat. These girls are being mean and if you don’t wear this hat tomorrow to school, you are letting these girls – these haters – you are letting them win. It doesn’t matter what they think, buddy. We don’t make decisions based on what others think, okay?”

You pull away again and you nod. I’m not sure my talk has sunk in but we leave it be for the rest of the night. As I walk you to the bus the next morning, you carry the hat in your hand and I’m still unsure what you will do. As the bus comes, I lean down to give you a longer hug than usual and I whisper in your ear, “Don’t let the haters win.”

With that, you smile and turn to board the bus. As you walk on and find your seat I can see you sitting with your sister and your best friend. And as the bus pulls away I notice something that makes me smile.

You’re wearing the hat.

New Hats

December 24, 2011

Jingle Bells, The Baby Smells…

Merry Christmas, everyone! May your holiday season be filled with love, friendship and lots of chocolate. From our family, to yours, have a very happy holiday.

I used to write a blog
About Swee’Pea & TheMonk
But then came #3
And now they’re in a funk, Boo Hoo Hoo
But Santa’s on his way
So we are being good
We tell Santa we love our sis
We’re just misunderstood!
Oh, Jingle Bells, The Baby Smells
But she’s here to stay
She only sleeps, eats and poops
But we love her anyway, hey!
At least three times a week
The baby cries at night
I haven’t slept a full 8 hours
And now I’m quite a sight
But they say this soon shall pass
When she’s not quite so new
Yes I’m tired, but it’s ok
At least it isn’t two!

October 17, 2011

The Tooth Fairy Giveth…

Tonight, unexpectedly, TheMonk lost a tooth while being a little too aggressive while brushing his teeth. His jubilation was such that the blood spewing from his mouth did not seem to faze him one bit. Why was he psyched? The frickin’ Tooth Fairy, of course.

Now I’ve come a long way since the early days of Tooth Fairy visits. I learned to stock up on trinkets and little candies and, for some reason, I had a large collection of Sacagawea dollars that seem to be the perfect Tooth Fairy gift. I was ready for a barrage of lost teeth and Swee’Pea and TheMonk were only too happy to oblige. They have lost 12-14 teeth (including TheMonk’s phantom tooth) in the past year and I knew I was running low on supplies – especially those damn Sacagawea dollars.

So this tooth caught me off guard.

And what does a guy Tooth Fairy do when he’s unexpectedly called to duty and has no shiny coin (nor a crisp dollar bill) in sight? He does what you would do if you were in this situation. You’d sneak a Sacagawea dollar out of his sister’s piggy bank when she wasn’t looking.

Yes you would. Don’t deny it.

August 8, 2011

TheMonk, Sacagawea and Tooth Fairy Fraud

I am sitting at my desk at work plotting the next great initiative at work that will propel my staff to certain greatness when I receive a text message from my wife.  It reads: “TheMonk lost another tooth at school.  He swallowed it.”

My first reaction is, “Again?!”  Because, you see, TheMonk lost a tooth just last week that he accidentally swallowed while eating.  It was then we determined that the tooth fairy knows when he loses teeth and the fact that the tooth was nestled in his belly would not prevent him from reaping the precious bounty of Tooth Fairy goodness.

My second reaction is, “He had a loose tooth?”  I seriously had no idea.  I mean, the kid has lost so many teeth that the Tooth Fairy has begun making himself a snack after every visit.  TheMonk’s lost so many teeth that if he stands just right, he whistles in the wind.  I just didn’t think the kid had any more teeth left to lose.

Upon my arrival after work, I inspect TheMonk’s mouth.  I see the big gaping hole that used to be his two front teeth that have been missing since this time last year when he had them unceremoniously pulled after a run-in with a piece of playground equipment.  What I don’t see is evidence that a tooth has recently left his mouth.  I point this out to TheMonk and he insists that he lost a tooth and that his friend Amelia confirmed there was blood in his mouth.  I am unconvinced.

The gap doesn’t seem any bigger than it did before.  The teeth on either side look symmetrical.  In a court of law I feel I could win this case.  But in a court of 6-year-olds who have told their entire class that they have lost a tooth and have taken home the “tooth bag” (a perfectly mean extra homework project that any kid gets when he or she loses a tooth in TheMonk’s class) to much acclaim, it is impossible to say otherwise.  It is clear that the Tooth Fairy will be dishing out another Sacagawea $1 coin this evening.

Maybe he did lose a tooth.  I’m no dentist and the kid loses teeth faster than I lose readers.  But I don’t think he did.  And I have this sneaking suspicion that he’s perpetrating the biggest fraud known to child-kind: Putting one over on the Tooth Fairy to make a quick buck.

I’m not sure if I should be proud or ashamed.

(Okay, I’m totally proud.)

April 3, 2011

Concerto in a minor

Every now and then, there comes a moment when a father must pass on to his son what knowledge he has gained in any given area. This is one of those times.

My son approaches me, looks me in the eye, and implores me to show him how. It’s as if he knows the wisdom and knowledge that I have stored inside me and he yearns to acquire this knowledge. I am the wise sage and as I ponder whether he is worthy of such knowledge, his earnest pleas fall upon my ears like a gentle rain and I am powerless to protest such an innocent thirst for knowledge.

I give gentle instruction by showing him how it’s done and then teaching him how to repeat my movements. I’m unsure if his little hands can sum up the power and coordination for such a dexterous move. He struggles and flashes a look of frustration at me as I work to assure him that the difficulty he’s experiencing is normal. After all, no one can learn something as momentous as this without fumbling a little in the beginning.

Verbal instructions soon become increasingly insufficient. I am forced to place my hand on his and guide him towards his goal. I show him how to cup his hand and where to place it for maximum effect. I position his other arm just so to maximize the angle. We practice a few times to no avail. He is getting more frustrated and I, while trying to exude an outer calm, begin to wrestle my inner emotions and doubt of his ability at such a young age begins to form in my mind.

I step back and as I do so, he gives it one more try.


His perfectly round eyes jerk up to meet mine. Wonder and excitement fill his face and as our gazes lock we both let out a scream of delight and joy! We slap a high five and a bond is shared between father and son that can never be taken away. I smile at him – proud of his accomplishment and the moment hangs there like stray bubble on a warm Saturday at the park.

Then, just like that, the moment is over. But the memory of my son’s first armpit fart will last a lifetime.

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