Monthly Archives: April 2011

The British Wedding

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I can’t understand the fuss and attention being made over today’s Royal Wedding. Being Irish, my feelings towards the British Crown are best kept to myself. But Kate and William remind me of July 16, 1988.

We made a promise to each other that day. In front of 150 family members and close friends. To have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part. I believed in that.

The first 15 years of our marriage was wonderful. Then life started to deal us some challenges. A miscarriage, career changes, moving family x-country, cancer, several job losses. Over the last seven years I felt a coldness rising in our marriage. Things became different, harder, less rewarding. It wasn’t anybody’s fault. It just happened.

I detest the British Monarchy. But to Kate and William I wish them all the happiness that life can give them. No one deserves to go through the emotional abuse I went through the past seven years.

Peace.

Competition

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My three children amaze me every day. Savannah plays Club Soccer, runs on the Varsity Track and XC team as a Sophmore, is one of the leaders of her HS soccer team, is ranked 3rd in her graduating class and participates in a host of extracirucular activities. Courtney is #1 adademically in her 8th grade class, plays on the school Volleyball team and a traveling team and runs Track. She’s also going to play Water Polo this Fall. Douglas last year played up in AAA Little League baseball where he was one of two 8-year olds to pitch. This year he’s playing great baseball, was the leading scorer in Fall soccer and just nails it in his 3rd grade class.

I get to talk to a lot of parents of really cool kids. Inevitably many will ask me what the secret is to raising super overachievers. I seem to always answer “I really don’t have much to do with it”.

I thought I was being modest. But lately I’m realizing there is much more to it than that. When my kids were younger Janet and I controlled every aspect of their lives – what they ate, when they slept, how much TV they watched, pretty much calling all the shots.

I’m beginning to see thing in my children that are surprising. Yes, there are things that don’t surprise me – that my teenage daughters don’t listen to 90% of what I say, or they argue about the stupidest things, or that they love to read, or that they are exceedingly polite to others.

But there is more to it. Things my kids do surprise me. Watching Courtney break and go deep corner on the soccer pitch and just pile-drive the ball to far post and into the net. Seeing Savannah go thru a hurdle workout and work harder than anyone else out there to find ways to lower her PR. Watching Douglas lead his baseball team on the field and demand, relentlessly demand, that his teammates play their best. I don’t know where this comes from.

At sone point of Parenthood there is only so much you can do. I guess all you can do is to expose them to the world, teach them to think & be curious, help them with their manners, and be themselves.

We need to treat our kids not as property that we own and control. At some point we let them go and find themselves. As a parent that’s hard, but as a widower that’s triply hard because they’re the most precious thing in my life and I don’t want to lose them.

I know my kids will do fine when they venture out into the word and navigate right and wrong. Darwin had it right when he said survival of the fittest. Competition does drives excellence.

What Does the Easter Bunny Have to Do with Anything?

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Yesterday on the way back from our annual Spring Camping Trip to Big Sur, we stopped by the Mission San Antonio de Padua. The Kids and I were checking out the chapel when we came across this painting of Jesus Christ. I was explaining the symbolism of it when I turned and noticed both girls had left the chapel. Douglas was with me but he was scared. And the girls were definitely spooked out of the room.

This icon reminded me of everything that’s wrong with organized religion. It’s morphed into some grotesque power grab that’s all about controlling people’s thoughts, actions and ultimately their money.

Easter is the only holiday which I do not like. As a little boy Easter was a stressful time when my siblings and I were expected to morph from normal, scrappy kids into some sort of idealized model Roman Catholic – all dressed up in a suit, tie and polished dress shoes. The Easter Bunny was a strange, emotionless idiot savant creature who appeared but once a year. It was neither masculine nor feminine. It didn’t speak, which was telling in itself. Here was this grotesque, oversized rabbit who had no opinion of itself, and had no expectations of myself. It simply showed up once a year to pass out colored eggs and candy.

This is the first Easter my children had without their mother. Savannah was so kind to help me out by organizing the Easter Baskets for Courtney and Douglas. We both hid easter eggs throughout the house last night after the two younger kids went to bed. But Savannah knew my heart wasn’t into it 100%. She’s smart and knows I don’t believe in the Easter Bunny. Her helping me hide eggs last night was awesome, and I love her for that.

It’s a sad day because it pains me to think the kids are going through this Easter for the first time without their Mother, and I can’t fake it good enough to be totally stoked about the Easter Bunny. I wanted to tell Douglas there is no such thing as the Easter Bunny. It’s simply a merchandising tool to sell lots of candy and cheap imported junk. It’s not real. Yet I’m conflicted by the understanding that Douglas should enjoy this as a special childhood event.

Douglas and the girls will come to realize that Easter is nothing more that an orgy of consumerism. I can’t tell them that now for it would only take away their enjoyment. But something tells me my kids have already started to figure out the charade of this holiday. It’s something they and they alone will need to figure out. It’s not up to me to tell them. Life will teach them.

I hope they will understand all of this. I hope they will find peace and satisfaction in enjoying this holiday as a chance to take a break, get together with family and friends, and feast. I hope they will take comfort and enjoyment in the ritual, without getting caught in the hype and ultimately empty fulfillment that our materialistic society has foisted upon us.

Student of the Week

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Throughout the year the Third Grade class at Santa Margarita Elementary School recognizes a Student of the Week. Last week was my Son Douglas’s turn.

One of the things his Teacher has the kids do is to write something about the Student of the Week. Here is what they said about Douglas.

  • “You are my best friend. You are very smart. You are nice, kind and really helpful.” – Boy
  • “You help me. You help other kids. You are my best friend.” – Boy
  • “You’re the second fastest. You love math, science.” – Boy
  • “You’re nice and smart.” – Girl
  • “You’re nice, smart, funny, cool. You’re good at soccer, you run fast.” – Boy
  • “You are smart. You have lots of friends. You are a good friend to every one in the class.” – Girl
  • “You’re funny, kind and helpful.” – Girl
  • “You are nice. You are very funny. You are very intelligent.” – Boy
  • “You’re nice and kind.” – Girl
  • “You’re smart and intelligent.” – Girl
  • “You are a kind friend and you’re funny and fun. You are a good sport too.” – Boy
  • “You’re smart, cool and kind.” – Boy
  • “You’re nice, helpful and awesome.” – Boy
  • “You’re nice, funny and cool.” – Girl
  • “You’re nice. You’re funny. You’re good at sports.” – Boy
  • “You are fun to play with.” – Boy
  • “You are fast. You are nice.” – Boy
  • “You’re smart. You’re intelligent too.” – Girl
  • “You are kind and nice.” – Girl
  • “You are nice to me and the class.” – Boy
  • “You are nice and smart.” – Boy
  • “You’re nice, kind, tall and fast.” – Girl
  • “You are nice to people. You are a good friend.” – Boy
  • “You are nice, cool, funny and smart.”

Remarkable quotes from a class that loves Douglas.

So It Goes

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Hello. I’m a newly single Dad. I will write about things that will interest other single Dads. Welcome to my knarly world. I look forward to traversing the landscape of life in the months and years ahead.