Tag Archives: Parents

Celebrate the First Day of School, Don’t Mourn It

school_angstLast September, I stood in my driveway on a cool autumn morning and watched my then 5-year-old beam with pride. After briefly struggling under the weight of his oversized backpack and kissing everyone goodbye, he was literally buzzing with excitement as the big yellow school bus pulled up. He bolted up the steps, found a friend to sit with, the doors closed, and off he went to kindergarten. The kid never even looked back to wave.

Which is to say it was a complete success, because that’s exactly how my wife and I wanted it.

There was no sobbing in the corner. No hand-wringing. No cursing of time and how it robs us of our little babies. No one jumped in the car to follow the bus like some crazed helicopter parent stalker just in case our little cherub had a tough time. Mainly because, in the weeks leading up to the big moment, we treated the first day of school as an exciting and joyously momentous occasion — something to celebrate instead of mourn and fear. And I firmly believe because we took that approach, so did he.

That stands in stark contrast to the script playing out for many other parents, and parent bloggers, who seem to dread the start of school. Some even seem to be making it about themselves instead of their kids.

Look, I get being astounded at how fast the time passes. And, as some pointed out, I also understand getting a little melancholy, or being so proud on the first day of school that you shed some tears out of happiness. While I completely get that we’re all different and so are our emotional responses,  I think emanating a feeling of dread leading up to the first day of school — and then either crying or hovering in front of your kid on the day of — is a potentially terrible thing.

Our kids look to us for direction, so if we’re showing signs we’re upset about a huge transition, it stands to reason they’ll start getting upset and anxious as well. That’s why there was no crying on Will’s first day, and we didn’t go to the school with him to witness his transition into the classroom. MJ and I talked, and we thought getting sad in front of him and showing up at the school sends the message that something is wrong, there’s a reason to be sad, and he can’t do it on his own.

But he can do it. And he did.

Also, I know I’ve delved into this topic before, but I just don’t get the constant wailing about wishing we could turn back the clock. Parents of incoming kindergarten students, you have no idea what kind of amazing things you’re in for this year. If they can’t read already, suddenly they’re reading EVERYTHING. And if they can already read, their skills are sharpened exponentially and taken to the next level. Will grew so much in kindergarten both inside and outside of the classroom, and it was amazing witnessing his progress in real time.

Time flies and lamenting its passage is understandable to a degree. But as a parent, I just won’t let that sadness ooze out in front of him — especially not on the first day of school. I won’t turn something that’s supposed to be exciting into anything resembling a negative. Because as a Facebook acquaintance who works as a kindergarten teacher wrote:

First day of school this year a mom started to cry…what does the boy, who was absolutely fine up to that point, do?? He starts crying – no wonder. If the mom cries the child gets the feeling something must be wrong or even bad about this place, so he starts crying too. The mom stayed all morning (Grrrrrr!!) and sobbed all morning long. Please, by all means go cry if it helps you, but do it AFTER you said goodbye and your child can’t see you anymore!”

See? It’s bad for the kid, the parents, and even the teachers. That’s why when Will has his first day of first grade tomorrow, it’ll be with a smile on all of our faces. A happy day with no tears. A day we’ve been looking forward to, and the start of a new chapter.

I’m saving the tears for three days from now when I’ll be having trouble helping Will with his first grade math homework.

Share Button

The 11 Most Annoying Types of Facebook Parents

fbparentsYou know them. You’ve seen them. You might even be one. Well, not you of course. You’re cool. I’m totally talking about that annoying friend you have. Yeah…that’s the ticket.

So even though I am a parent and I love parents, the fact of the matter is we can be an infuriating bunch. The know-it-all mentality, the one-upsmanship, the showboating — it can all be a little much at times. Unfortunately, social media — and Facebook especially — serves as a virtual bullhorn that broadcasts that obnoxiousness across the Internet and beams all the bullshit directly to your laptop, tablet, or phone.

Well, it’s time to call these perpetrators out by shining the spotlight of truth on them.

I have used every bit of scientific methodology and cutting-edge research available to mankind (or simply looked in the mirror while also observing many of you) to put this list together. So read this list of annoying kinds of Facebook parents to find your friends, see a little bit of yourself, and tell me which ones I’ve missed.

Continue reading

Share Button

I Don’t Love My Kids More Than My Wife

morelessI love my wife. I love my kids. But which one do I love more?

Strangely enough, that’s a question people are actually tackling because of a recent study that found 75% of mothers openly admit they love their kids more than their spouses. But if you ask me, I think the entire conversation is a load of crap.

I do not love my kids more than my wife. I don’t love my wife more than my kids either. I love them each in very different ways, but I love them all completely and equally. And I think even attempting to quantify or rank that love is pointless, hurtful, and potentially harmful.

My family is my world. My wife is the most beautiful, caring, sexy, sensational person on the planet and I’m madly in love with her. My kids are a source of unimaginable joy and my life is enriched in countless ways with them in it. But they are a package deal, and asking me to choose which one I love more borders on the ridiculous.

Which begs the question, what are these moms in the survey thinking?

Click here to read the rest on iVillage!

Share Button

Why Judgmental Moms & Dads Are Ruining Parenting

soapboxWhat’s one of the first things you do when your kids hit an important milestone? If you’re anything like me, you post it on social media.

One of the best parts about having kids is watching them grow, and there is no span of time that sees as much rapid progress as the first year of life. From the time they start grabbing things to rolling over to taking their first steps, kids are maturing at warp speed and social media allows us to document these milestones and celebrate them with our friends and family members on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.

Well, it SHOULD be a celebration, but that’s not always the case. Mainly because a lot of parents are judgmental, sanctimonious pricks.

Continue reading

Share Button

“Dad, Are We Poor?”

smhouse_bighouse“Dad, are we poor?”

The question itself doesn’t bother me one bit. It’s an honest and insightful question that comes from a place of innocence and genuine curiosity often inhabited by 5-year-olds. It was the anxiety-riddled expression he wore on his face, and the hint of fear buried just below the inflection in his voice that did me in.

I should’ve seen this coming. First of all we’re about to have another baby and with that comes expenses. We’ve mitigated the new baby costs as much as possible by using hand-me-down baby clothes, second-hand car seats, Will’s old crib, etc. But when you factor in diapers, creams, nursery furnishings, and the cost of the hospital stay (even with insurance), you quickly realize it’s impossible to bring new life into this world and not incur some new debt. That’s in addition to the old debt, which doesn’t care about the fact that you’re about to become a parent for a second time.

Second, Will made a lot of friends in preschool and now at summer camp. Those friends have birthday parties and cookouts and get-togethers at their houses — which is great. I love that he has great friends. And since we live in an affluent town, many of these friends have absolutely beautiful houses with equally beautiful cars parked in well-manicured driveways. Inside there are toys — awesome, kick-ass toys that are the envy of every 5-year-old around the block. And I love that Will gets to hang out with great kids from awesome families in super-ridiculously cool houses. But it’s led to a bunch of questions that — as his father — I have some difficulty (and shame) answering.

He justifiably wants to know why our house isn’t as big as the others on our street. He’s a very logical kid and he knows that we’re adding another body to the mix, so it makes perfect sense that he wants to upgrade to a bigger house with more room. As he so aptly pointed out, some people have basements and toy rooms as big as our 1,200-square-foot duplex. So why, with all these big houses out there, don’t we get one?

I won’t lie, I feel ashamed that we’re not in that big house. It’s not that I don’t want it, believe me. I do. I want what every parent wants: a better life for my kids. I’ve had to talk to Will about money, jobs, salary, and living on a budget. And for the most part he gets it and he’s great about it. He’s far more understanding than most 5-year-olds I know. But every once in awhile I see that look in his eyes and I feel like the biggest deadbeat on the planet.

But that’s fleeting and I’ll tell you why.

We aren’t rich and we never will be. Hell, we’ll probably never even make it to upper-middle class (mainly because the middle class no longer exists). MJ and I work hard but no matter what happens we’ll likely be in a place where we have enough to get by and never enough to get ahead. Will is going to grow up in a house that pinches pennies and clips coupons, opting for the things that are on sale instead of the stuff we really want. He has already been subject to terms like “foreclosure” and “bankruptcy,” and he’ll see his parents constantly struggle to make ends meet. While others use their tax returns and bonuses to go on vacations that require airplanes instead of cars, he’ll see us use that money to catch up on the never-ending debt that seems to attach itself directly to our paychecks.

Occasionally he’ll go without and he’ll think it’s unfair. I don’t blame him for that.

But in the midst of the struggle, he’ll see a few other things too. He’ll learn the value of money and the importance of hard work to earn enough of it to get by. He’ll also learn to stop envying what other people have to the point you forget to appreciate the things you’ve already got. He’ll see that sometimes less truly is more, and you almost always have more than you think.

And, if I’m any sort of parent at all, he’ll come to realize “the biggest” and “the best” are not designations that correspond to material belongings, but to the wealth we create in our personal lives. Because truth be told, in time I probably could earn enough to get that big ass house and the cool car. It would take total dedication to my career, and putting in 70-80 hours a week at work instead of the 45-50 I currently clock (not including my freelance gigs). That means no family dinners, no working from home, missing all the tee-ball and soccer games, etc.

But you know what? That’s a price I’m unwilling to pay.

Not because I’m lazy or I hate my job — far from it on both counts. It’s because I’ve established my priorities and I’m not going to waver. What good is a fancy car if you only drive it to the office and back? What’s the point of buying your kids all the best toys if you’re not there to play along with them? And what good is that huge house if you’re never home to dance with your wife in the kitchen or chase the kids around that gargantuan playroom? Do I want that house someday? I won’t lie, it’d be nice. But it’s all a matter of perspective.

Some people might look at our meager home in the shadow of colossal colonials and ponder the same question my son asked. Are we poor? Well, I guess that all depends.

Share Button