Tag Archives: dad

Take an Interest In Your Kids No Matter What

“Dad, I don’t want to play baseball anymore.”

It didn’t exactly come as a surprise. To be honest, I don’t think he’s ever liked baseball. It’s too slow, too boring, with too much time out in the field doing nothing. Soccer? Basketball? Will loves those. But not baseball. Which is tough for me because baseball is the first thing I thought of when I found out we were having a boy. Field of Dreams, fathers and sons, and the “Dad, you wanna have a catch?” moment of pure hardball bliss for which every red-blooded American dad yearns.

I tried telling him it’s a learning process. That the games would be faster and more exciting this year because he’s older now. I showed him Red Sox games on TV and tried to explain how much baseball means to me. That last part he understood. And with a pained look of worry at the thought of disappointing his old man, he agreed to give it one more shot.

And then it was my turn to frown at the disappointment I felt in myself.



See the little kid circled in that picture? That’s me circa 1992 or so. On a Sunday. At church. Singing in the church choir. See my face? I’m not at all happy to be there.

The reason I’m there at all is standing on the left. That’s my grandmother, whose transcendent musical talents were truly extraordinary. She was a masterful pianist who taught many a neighborhood child out of her home for many years. But her true talent? Singing. Grandma Ga-Ga (as I called her, much to her chagrin) was a classically trained soprano and member of the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Tanglewood Festival Chorus. And as she would have no problem telling you herself, that was kind of a big deal.

Now guess who showed early vocal prowess as a young kid.

Yours truly was taken under her wing as a toddler and immediately given voice lessons at every turn. And not to toot my own horn, but I was good. So good, in fact, my grandmother had me try out for an area chorus. Not only did I make the cut, the choir director was so impressed he invited me to join an elite boys-only choir in Providence that paid me, a 10-year-old, to sing.

This place was no joke. In the fifth-grade I was spending at least 10 hours a week rehearsing. Most of the time we weren’t even given music, because the choir director would make us learn the songs bar by bar and commit it all to memory. When he heard someone out of tune, he would make each one of us sing individually until the out of tune culprit was found and shamed.

OK, to be fair, he probably didn’t shame us. But it sure felt that way to a nervous 10-year-old trying to live up to his grandmother’s high standards.

It didn’t take long for me to start hating singing. The time commitment was absurd for my age, and the pressure was often debilitating for me. I obsessed about pitch, memorizing the songs, my diction, and I guarantee I was the only little kid petrified about diphthongs and having a “lazy mouth.” Add to that, I had really started getting into sports and I loved playing basketball, soccer, and baseball.

But whenever I mentioned quitting singing and piano, my grandmother would lay such a guilt trip on me and start talking about wasted talent. I didn’t want to let her down, so I simply piled sports on top of school and the absurd rehearsal schedule.

Then one day I came to a realization that changed my relationship with my grandmother forever.

She was very interested in the piece my choir was singing and she wanted to hear us rehearse. I told her that’s impossible because our director closed off practice to parents and outsiders, but still she insisted. It was summer and therefore the windows would be open, she said, allowing her to sit in the car with my mother and listen to our voices drift down from on high.

And suddenly I realized my grandmother had never come to any of my sporting events. Ever. Not a single game. Yet she was more than happy to sit in a hot car in a church parking lot just to hear a few notes of our rehearsal.

I loved my grandmother very much, but if you didn’t share her interests then you were of no interest to her. You served no purpose because you were of no use to her as she sought to further her love of music. Even when she met my friends, the first thing she’d do is force them to sing. If she thought they had promise, she recruited them. If not, she dismissed them on the spot and away we went.

I’ll never forget how that made me feel.


December 13, 1991.

Hardcore Boston sports fans might remember that night as noteworthy because Dennis Johnson, the Boston Celtics legend and Hall of Fame point guard, was honored at the old Boston Garden on “Dennis Johnson Night.”

And my sports-crazed dad had tickets.

But what history has forgotten about that date, is it was also the day of my 6th grade concert. Specifically, my chimes concert. Yes, that’s right. Yours truly was also an esteemed member of the Norton Middle School Hand Chimes group. Why didn’t I mention that before? Look, I don’t like to brag but let’s just say the early 90’s hand chime scene was vastly underrated.

Hand Chimes

I’m kidding of course. It was terrible. I only joined because I had a HUGE crush on one of the girls who was in the group, and that was my pathetic attempt to make in-roads. Because ladies love the chimes, right? Ugh.

Anyway, my father found out Dennis Johnson Night was the same evening as my chimes concert. I saw the look of guilt and panic on his face immediately. He started asking me if I even liked the chimes. I told him I didn’t. He asked me how upset I’d be if he missed it. Not at all. He asked me if I had another concert in the future? No.

And that was it. I fully expected him to go to the Garden and see a little piece of Boston sports history, and I didn’t blame him for it at all.

But that’s not what happened. He skipped the game and showed up at my concert instead. Sure, to this day I still hear about how he missed that game in order to attend a godforsaken chimes concert and I’m sure my mother played a part in forcing his hand, but it ended up meaning the world to me. It told me he (and my mom who was ALWAYS present) didn’t just care about me when what I was doing was interesting to him. I saw him sacrificing something meaningful to him simply because his kids — no matter what they’re participating in– are MORE meaningful.

It’s a moment I swore never to forget.


Fast forward 24 years to my teary-eyed son who hates baseball but is willing to play solely because he knows it means a lot to his dad.

Baseball was my thing and I’ll miss going to his games and watching him on the diamond. But this isn’t about me, it’s about Will. And as a father, I’ll be damned if I ever make my kid feel like I’m not interested in his interests. So we decided on karate and cooking classes in the summer.

Do I like or know anything about cooking? Hell no. To me, cooking is Kraft mac & cheese. But you know who’s going to be at every single one of Will’s cooking classes taking an interest and rooting him on? Me. Big time. 100%.

Whatever he’s doing, I’m going to be there and I’m going to be into it. I’m going to support him and let him know what he’s doing is important to me. Because he is my interest. And always will be.

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Letter to My Unborn Baby: What If You’re a Girl?


Dear Baby,

Welcome to the halfway point of your womb incarceration. I know you’re growing just fine because your mom’s stomach suddenly decided to pop, which is nice because now people can see she’s pregnant instead of wondering if she’s had a few too many ice cream sundaes.

It’s odd to write to you and not know whether you’re a boy or a girl. As I’ve mentioned before, you have two wonderful older brothers. When I was growing up, I had a brother too. That means not only do I not know what it’s like to raise a daughter, I don’t even know what it’s like having a sister.

Which is all a long way of saying I’m a little worried about how to raise a girl.

First off, everyone is hoping you’re a girl. I think it’s mostly because we already have two boys, and people just naturally seek balance — which I think is odd. And a little annoying. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a daughter. I think. But I also think it would be unassailably cool to have three boys as well. But in the end, as long as you’re healthy that’s all I really care about.

And yet I can’t help but let my mind wander.

If you’re a girl, will I baby you? Will you be the quintessential daddy’s little girl, compounded by the fact you’re the youngest? If I buy you pink princess things am I ruining you for life by buying into society’s harmful gender norms? If I deny you pink princess things that you ask for am I then trampling your independence and personal tastes?

Am I contractually obligated to enroll you in ballet at birth? At what point should I take out my loan at the American Girl Doll Store? If I point you in the direction of sports is that a good thing that will make you more well-rounded, or does it represent me pushing my interests on you unfairly while turning you into a tomboy?

I’m against guns, but do I need to invest in a shotgun when you start dating? Do I need to frighten your suitors with not-so-thinly-veiled threats of bodily harm, while handing them an asinine list of rules? And at what age do I even start letting you date? What if your brothers start dating at 12 but I don’t want you to date that early because I anoint myself protector of your virginity?

Will you watch The Three Stooges with me and the boys on Sunday mornings? Can I bring you to Patriots games with your grandfather? Will you enjoy trips to Fenway Park?

Yes, I’ve wondered these things. And yes, I immediately felt like an idiot afterward. Because when push comes to shove, if you’re a girl, I won’t be raising a daughter — I’ll be raising a person. A person who I need to get to know. A person who will develop tastes for many things all on her own. A person to whom I plan to teach compassion, kindness, and strength of character just as I’m doing with your brothers.

It’s the same game plan I’ll follow if you’re a boy. Hell, it’s the only game plan I know. So while I used to joke about freaking out with a daughter, I’ve come to realize it’s not the case. I just want you to be strong and smart and brave and kind — sex organs be damned.

So continue incubating, little one, and we’ll see you in another 20 weeks on or around Sept. 5. But the Patriots raise a championship banner against the Steelers on Sept. 10, so please try not to be late. That’d be just like a woman.

Yours in loving sarcasm,

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Why I Always Tell My Son He Can Do Better

pats_game Will stands at home plate, bat in hand, eyeing the pitcher. His back elbow is up, the bat is off his shoulder, and his feet are shoulder-width apart — just like we practice in the backyard. The ball comes toward him, he swings, and he misses.

And that’s when things go south. Because if Will doesn’t do things right the first time, he gets pissy. Just like his old man.

Immediately I watch his body language change to express defeat. His elbow drops, the bat languishes on his shoulder, and his feet are together. The next swing is lackadaisical and another miss. The one after that is even worse. Soon he’s just absently swatting at the ball with a frown on his face, forgetting everything we’ve worked on because he didn’t get instant gratification.

Eventually he makes contact and runs down to first base, where he stands on the bag and looks for me on the sidelines. He raises his eyebrows and tentatively gives me a “thumbs up.” He’s seeking my approval, as he does after every single play. I want to give it to him. I really do.

But I don’t this time. Because it’s not deserved, he didn’t try very hard, and I know he can do better.

Continue reading Why I Always Tell My Son He Can Do Better

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The Patriots, Red Sox, and Why We Stay Until the End

fen_boysI don’t remember much about my first trip to Fenway Park.

My first memory is the Green Monster. I had seen it on TV, but in person it loomed like the Great Wall of China to my 7-year-old mind. I remember the rickety wooden seats in the third-base grandstand being ridiculously uncomfortable (some things never change), to the point I had to sit on my red backpack. I remember Roger Clemens was pitching because I had begged my dad to pick a game when the “Rocket” was on the mound. And I remember thinking Fenway Franks taste a million times better than hotdogs at home.

I can’t tell you how many strikeouts Clemens had, what the score was, or even who won. But I’ll always remember being with my dad, because at one point during the game he grabbed my brother and I and said “I always dreamed about taking my boys to Fenway Park to watch the Red Sox.”

On Saturday night, it was my turn to live the dream.

Continue reading The Patriots, Red Sox, and Why We Stay Until the End

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The 9 Most Annoying Sports Fans

You’ve seen them. You’ve heard them. You’ve put up with them. Maybe you are one and don’t even realize it. But whatever the case, annoying fans at live sporting events are the worst!

I don’t say this lightly or without a wealth of experience, and my credentials are beyond reproach.

My father has had New England Patriots season tickets for 39 years, which means I’ve been going to games practically my whole life. I used to go to eight home games a year, until tickets got too expensive. So now I go to a minimum of four games a year. Until this year, my dad also had Boston Celtics season tickets as well, so I have experience at the Garden. Throw in hundreds of Red Sox games and a sprinkling of Bruins games throughout the years, and I’ve pretty much seen it all. The good, the bad and the REALLY obnoxious.

To the untrained eye or the live sporting event rookies, it might not seem like there’s much to know when going to a game. Sit, watch, clap and that’s it right? Wrong. There is a subtle art to being a truly great fan. Which is probably why there are so few great fans out there. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of ass clowns ruining it for the rest of us.

So without further ado, I give you the 9 Most Annoying Sports Fans.


I hate this person. With a passion. Not only that, I don’t understand him/her. You pay all that money for a ticket, get drunk on $8 beers and instead of watching the game you decide to jump on your cell phone, call your friends and wave every time you’re on camera. Idiot. For the record, the only acceptable time to use your cell phone is during halftime or in between quarters. Even then you’re only allowed to text or check your fantasy team. No conversations. Ever. Because even if they’re not on camera they’re talking on the cell phone and ruining the game for you. My question is, why are they always talking about something uber-personal and inappropriate?

“So I went to the doctor…yeah, I got the results…CHLAMYDIA! Can you believe that shit? No I didn’t wear a rubber…you know I hate how it feels.”


A close cousin of the Cell Phone Talker, these people are equally annoying. While real fans are there to watch their team win, the JTWs are only there to watch themselves on the stadium big screen. You’ll recognize the JTWs easily because they’re either dressed in wacky clothing sure to catch the cameraman’s eye, or they’re dancing. Yup, dancing. During every timeout and break, they launch themselves out of their seats and dance wildly. If they succeed and see themselves on the Jumbo-Tron, the shrieks and screams are deafening. They get 4 seconds of glory and then it’s either back to the beer stand or leave in the third quarter to beat traffic. Either way, they need to be exterminated.


I swear these idiots always manage to sit in front of me. They bring in a homemade sign that they think is really witty and/or charming, but no one else sees it that way. Normally it’s something to suck up to the network the game is on, like:


So just like the Jumbo-Tron Whores, they stand up at inopportune times during the game and hold up the sign, which blocks the view of the poor people behind them. Rule of thumb: don’t bring a sign to a game. Ever. It won’t be funny, you probably won’t get on TV and you’re going to piss me off to the point that I verbally berate you to the point of tears. Now here’s your sign!

Sometimes it feels like all 68,000 people in Gillette Stadium are sitting in my row. Why, you ask? Because they are CONSTANTLY sitting down and then leaving their seat. They sit down then they need some food. They sit down then they need a beer. They sit down and drink their beer and then they have to pee. And pee again. And again. Meanwhile the entire row has to stand up and let them pass each time like we’re in an 80s aerobics class.

That wouldn’t be so bad except they give no thought to the timing of their arrivals and departures. Instead of using some common sense and waiting until a timeout or even in between plays, they decide to inconvenience everyone at the worst possible times. A huge third down in the fourth quarter of a one-score game, the crowd working itself into a frenzy, the center about to hike the ball and then—some douchebag causes the entire row to stand and you end up missing some of the play while simultaneously pissing off everyone behind you.

Stay in your seats or use some common sense, morons!


This guy is a real piece of work.

You can spot him even before he speaks, because he looks like he’s spent the week in his mom’s basement memorizing statistics in order to show off at the game. Even though you’ve made no overture of friendship towards this person, he will seek you out and give you stats you don’t care about and don’t want after every play.

For instance, if I cheer on Tom Brady for a great throw he has to add his two cents by saying “Did you know Brady is completing 67.9% of his passes and has a quarterback rating of 109.5?” Yes, as a matter of fact I did know that. But unlike you, I don’t feel the need to validate my existence with near useless statistical analysis that no one wants to hear about in the heat of a game!


Usually it’s good to be a stand up guy. But this guy is not good. Not good at all.

This idiot—usually heavily intoxicated—is convinced that the only way to be a true fan is to stand up at all times to cheer on the team. And he feels it is his mission in life to shout “STAND THE FUCK UP, GET ON YOUR FEET, STAND UP YOU PUSSIES!” in order to fire up the crowd. But what he doesn’t realize is the crowd wants to put him in front of a firing squad.

This jerkoff doesn’t realize that standing and cheering at a game is completely dependent on the action and the situation. In a regular season game, it’s fine to sit except for big moments and huge third downs on defense. I still yell and cheer while I’m sitting, and I know when to stand and when not to. Fans also pay hundreds of dollars for the seat, so why not use it?


Call me a sexist if you want to. I don’t care, because this one is very, very true.

Usually this occurs when the only way guys can buy season tickets is if they promise to bring their wives/girlfriends with them to the games. Even though said women have ZERO football knowledge. Needless to say, when they get to the game they become Cell Phone Talkers, Jumbo-Tron Whores and Up & Downers. They’re interested in everything BUT the game. If they do pay attention for a few minutes, they shout idiotic things like “GET A TOUCHDOWN BRADY!” or “WES WELKER IS SO LITTLE AND CUTE!”

The worst is when they talk to each other about their sex lives, their impending purchases and what they wore to their high school reunions. I’ve never seriously considered violence towards women before, but when these hens are clucking in my ear for three hours, I’m seeing red.


Everyone knows this guy. And has probably been this guy at some point (myself included) so I do allow for a little leeway here.

It’s a football game, so drinking is a good thing. Hell, being a little drunk is a plus in my opinion. But if you’ve had a 12-pack out in the parking lot and then a fifth of Jack on the walk to the stadium, you’re going to be a mess. These are the guys who can’t stand up straight so they’re teetering and falling on people during the game. And since they’re drunk they’re loud. Any drunk will tell you the louder they get the funnier they are, and so you have a really drunk guy screaming either inappropriate or unintelligible things. He’s laughing, but we aren’t.

At best he’s a nuisance, at worst he vomits on you. Either way you’re not coming out a winner.


No beach balls and no wave. Ever.

If you pay hundreds of dollars for a ticket and feel that the best athletes in the world playing at the highest level imaginable is second to batting around an inflatable beach ball, do yourself a favor and just put a gun to your head. Or if that’s too extreme, don’t come to the game. Because we don’t want you. Or your damn beach ball.

Same goes for The Wave. Seriously, it’s not 1987 anymore. The Wave wasn’t even that cool then, and it’s even less so now. I’ve seen people at Fenway Park do the wave in the 8th inning of a one-run game during a pennant race. It makes me sad that people are that idiotic, and it besmirches the name of true Boston sports fans everywhere.

That’s why whenever I get my hands on a beach ball, I pop it. Sometimes the idiots boo me but I don’t care, because the real fans thank me or give me an approving nod for righting an obvious sports wrong.

I have my dad to thank for this because he taught me right. From the time I was little he physically restrained me during the Wave. I didn’t understand it then, but I thank him for it now. To think I could’ve been one of those obnoxious douchebags…I shudder at the thought.

The point is, watch the fucking game. It’s what you’re there for!


If you’re wondering what makes for a great sports fan, here it is:

Be intelligent about the game but not a stat snob. Be happy drunk and not shitfaced. Go to the people around you for high-fives and create good vibes. Sit down except for big plays. If you’re going to yell out taunts to the opposing team, time them right for maximum effect. Talk about the game and nothing else, unless it’s halftime. No beach balls and no Wave, you’re there to watch the game. Ditto with signs. The cell phone should stay in your pocket.

So, did I miss any?

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