Tag Archives: Will

The Importance of Grandparents

grandparents

“If you guys moved a few hours away you could afford a really nice house.”

I’ve been told this by many of my friends, and it’s 100% true. As MJ and I prepare to buy a house in the next 18-24 months, we cringe at the soaring real estate prices of greater Boston. And that cringe turns into a full-fledged scowl when we look at the much more affordable housing prices should we decide to move to another part of the country.

For what we’ll eventually pay to buy a 3BR, 2BA, 1,800-square foot house in southeastern Massachusetts, we could get a house elsewhere that’s 5BR, 3BA, and 3,500 square feet. Hell, even if we moved to the Berkshires (western Massachusetts, 3 hours away) we’d be getting WAY more bang for our buck. And as someone who doesn’t want to be house poor, it’s pretty damn tempting at times.

But we won’t do that. Why? Because grandparents.

Will and Sam (and Baby #3) currently have all three sets of grandparents within a 20-minute ride. Specifically, my parents live 2.5 miles away and MJ’s mom now lives just 6 miles away. We see Grandpa, Grandma, Nana, Papa, and Grammy Donna (and Grandpa B, before he died) all the time, and all of them want the kids as often as possible.

Hell, right this moment Will is in New Hampshire on his yearly trip to StoryLand with my parents. They’ve taken him for four days in the White Mountains of New Hampshire since he was 3 years old, and next year Sam will join in the fun.

Which is why we won’t pick up and move. You can’t put a price tag on having family around, and you can’t underestimate the value of having kids spend a ton of time with their grandparents.

I spent nearly every weekend with my Grandma “Goo-Goo.” We watched movies, played Nintendo (she was a Zelda fanatic), hated on the LA Lakers, and ate ice cream sundaes the size of small mountains. And my Grandma “Ga-Ga” (my parents are sadistic for creating these nicknames) taught us how to play piano and sing. She lived on the town’s reservoir and we spent much of our time outside catching frogs and throwing rocks into the water.

Don’t get me wrong, my parents were great. But grandparents? They’re the ones who spoil you unconditionally. Who take you on special outings. Who do the stuff they were told not to do but they’re going to do it anyway because that’s what grandparents do. Grandparents are completely special, and every kid should know that love.

I want that for my kids. It’s vital they spend time with all of their grandparents, especially since we’re lucky enough to have them so involved.

And yes, I know EXACTLY how lucky we are to have them. Some grandparents died either before kids were born or when they were very little, and others are separated by great distances. Also, I’ve heard horror stories of absentee grandparents who have only seen their grandkids a handful of times and make absolutely no effort.  Whichever camp you fall in, that’s truly unfortunate and MJ and I know we’re privileged to have so many grandparents here for us.

So when we have something come up, we make one or two phone calls and boom — a grandparent appears out of the ether to take the kids. Or if we really want a date night, someone is always all too willing to take the kids off our hands.

Papa and Grammy Donna play video games with the boys and Papa puts Will to work so he stays grounded and learns how to do more chores. Nana will sit and cuddle with Sam for hours on end, play with them at the beach, and then take Will to the fireworks show at night. And my parents practically pry the kids out of our hands to take them on overnights and spoil the ever loving crap out of them in every way possible. It’s to the point our kids cry when they come home to us because they don’t want to leave their grandparents.

Sure, we’re going to pay through the nose for a smaller house that needs repairs. But we can’t put a price on having family nearby, nor can we ever again take advantage of the opportunity to let the kids bond with their grandparents as they grow up. This is a one-shot deal and we can never get this time back, so we’re taking full advantage of it.

Grandparents aren’t around forever, but the memories they create are timeless. I’m just so thankful our kids will have them. Thanks, guys. You mean the world to us.

Share Button

It’s No Longer Gay Marriage, Just Marriage

gmflag

Will is 7 and Sam is almost 2. Some day, down the road a bit, they’ll read something in the paper or see something on TV about “gay marriage,” and they’ll be confused.

“Dad, what do they mean by ‘gay’ marriage? It’s just marriage, right?”

And I’ll have to remind them gay people weren’t always allowed the same rights as the rest of us. I’ll have to remind them it wasn’t until the year 2015 and by securing the narrowest margin of victory by the Supreme Court of the United States, that gay people in America were treated equally when it came to being able to marry who you love.

They’ll stare at me with raised eyebrows and incredulous expressions, because they won’t be able to fathom how stupid that sounds. It will be utterly incomprehensible to them that so many people in this country treated gay people as second class citizens for so long.

It’ll be just how I looked at my parents when they told me interracial marriage used to be outlawed, or black people and women couldn’t always vote.

I don’t go full ‘MURICA!!! too often, but I’m proud of my country today. It took longer than it should have, but ultimately we did the right thing. We haven’t solved homophobia and we can’t stop fighting for LGBTQIA (for any other letters I may be missing, my apologies) rights, but this is cause to celebrate.

Everyone can marry whoever they want in all 50 states. Victory.

Of course, not everyone sees it that way. Check out these erudite ladies and gentlemen:

Yes, these ridiculous clowns are an affront to decency, common sense, and proper grammar/spelling. And honestly, they do upset me and get under my skin at times. However, I’ve come to realize something very important. Something worth noting and remembering in these modern times.

The world is a better place than ever before. And that’s largely because people of the world are more tolerant than ever before.

The old, white, conservative, religious guard isn’t what it used to be, and for the first time they find themselves losing power, influence, and the numbers game. Seeking to deny gay people equality while rejecting proven science regarding climate change and defending the Confederate flag just isn’t going to fly anymore. They’ve lost the middle ground and they don’t seem to know how to adapt.

But when a caged animal is cornered, it gets desperate.

That’s why you’re seeing tweets like these and outrageous public statements regarding current events. It’s fear. People who have held the power for a long time never want to give it up willingly, so the final holdouts will be louder than ever to compensate for fewer people in their ranks. Basically, we’re seeing the death throes of idiocy. And not a moment too soon.

So congratulations to all the gay people out there who can now enjoy marriage equality. Congratulations to the five US Supreme Court justices who had the wisdom and fortitude to make history today. And congratulations to America, a country that has proven today it still holds dear the idea of freedom on which it was founded.

We have put another shameful period of our history in the rear view mirror. Let us keep it in sight to remember how far we’ve come, while always looking to improve our future.

And let’s make sure love always wins in the end.

Share Button

Why I Hate Running (Yet Do It Anyway)

halfmarathon3

I fucking hate running.

Some people love running and happily devote hordes of time to it. These crazy bastards on endorphin highs can’t wait to get out on roads and trails to chase their personal bests and FEEL THE BURN. Honestly, good for them. I’m happy for them (even though their speed and relentless enthusiasm makes me stabby at times).

But not me. I’m a big guy, always have been. Even when I lose a bunch of weight I’m still big. Having run four half marathons in my life, I’m prepared to stand out like a sore thumb in a crowd of waifish and highly athletic stick figures that invariably populate these races. Basically, in a sea of gazelles I’m a lumbering water buffalo.

The picture at the top of this post was taken near the halfway mark (about 6.2 miles in), and the photographer managed to capture my facial expression at the EXACT moment I realized I still had nearly 7 more miles to go before finishing. I was tired, sore, my foot hurt, and at the risk of telling you way more than you want to know, the inside of my thighs looked like something out of a B horror movie.

So the million dollar question becomes, why run 13.1 miles if I hate running.

There are a few reasons. First of all, I enjoy doing things I’m not expected to do. Look at me. I’m 5’10”, 255 lbs. Even the kid who handed me my bib number assumed I was picking it up for a friend, and stuttered his way to an embarrassed apology when I said I was running. But I also do it specifically because it’s hard and doesn’t come naturally to me. The mind fuck and head games involved in distance running simultaneously intimidates and intrigues me, and there’s something to be said for overcoming self-imposed limitations and proving yourself.

And yeah, I also do it because I hate going to the gym even more than running, and if I didn’t run I’d weigh 400 lbs. My desk job is very sedentary, my eating habits are mostly terrible, and I’m not one to join CrossFit or some other similar group, so running is really the only healthy thing I do.

But mainly, I do it because Will tells all his friends his daddy runs half marathons.

Is that vain? Yeah, probably. But it’s also the truth. He’s 7 so right now he thinks 13.1 miles is roughly the distance to the moon and back. His eyes go wide when I show him the courses I run, and he thinks it’s the most amazing thing ever. I heard him talking to some friends in school when I was volunteering in his class, telling them his dad runs races and goes really far.

And it made me feel good. I was proud that he was proud of his old man. That means everything to me, and it’s enough to propel my fat ass off the couch and onto the course for a distance I don’t really like driving, nevermind running.

I need my kids to know they have a shot at doing and becoming anything. If they don’t believe that as they grow up, they’ll lose confidence, determination, and hope. And I feel personally showing them it’s possible to reach a pie in the sky goal goes a long way toward bolstering their optimism.

But almost the entire back half of my most recent half-marathon was uphill, and let me tell you, I wanted to quit so badly. I almost did a few times. Right around Mile 8, I realized I was passing a friend’s house. And they were home, so they could’ve given me a ride. I even crossed the street fully prepared to run up to their front door, ask for a Gatorade, and ride back to the starting line in the air-conditioned car.

However, they were out on their porch and they saw me. Mary waved excitedly and Jim shouted his encouragement too. And, much to my dismay at the time, I was guilted into continuing. It’s a good thing, too. Otherwise I never would’ve had this moment at the finish line.

MJ caught the moment I crossed the finish line on video with Will. I won’t lie, it’s a little dusty in here when I watch it.

Posted by The Daddy Files on Sunday, June 14, 2015

Even the best dads only get to feel like true superheroes for a few fleeting moments in life, and running gave me my cape — if only for a few minutes. But it was enough to make all the hills over the course of 13.1 grueling miles completely worth it.

As an added bonus, Will wants to start running with me. We’re going to start with a 5k and go from there. So now I have another reason to keep running — making sure he doesn’t beat me in a race for as long as humanly possible.

And to create more moments like this one.

halfmarathon2

Share Button

Hey Judgmental Parents, It’s Not Always What It Looks Like

will_playground

***I received compensation for this post courtesy of Similac, but all opinions are my own.

What do you see when you look at this picture?

Do you see how the boy has slipped? Do you notice his white knuckle grip as he struggles to hold on and avoid falling? Can you see the slight blur of his feet as he kicks his legs profusely to avoid dropping to the ground below?

If you’re like many people, this picture probably makes you think about more than just the boy dangling from a piece of playground apparatus. After all, someone is behind the camera and that somebody is probably a parent. Do you find yourself thinking of all the playground parents you’ve seen “ignoring” their kids in favor of their cell phones? Is the voice in your head judging the parent and saying “PUT DOWN YOUR DAMN PHONE AND HELP YOUR KID?!?”

Pictures can be worth a thousand words, but words said absent knowledge are folly.

The boy is my son and the photographer is me. It was taken a couple of years ago on a playground when he was 5 years old. And just a few moments after I took it, a mother I never met before decided I was a bad parent. She made it her business to step in and “save” my son, even though I was standing close by in plain sight and watching him intently. Not content to helicopter her own child to the point of absurdity, this snapshot of my more hands-off parenting style was apparently too much for her to bear.

You see, I believe in calculated risks.

In this instance, Will was struggling with a climbing structure and not trusting his abilities. I knew he could do it, but he hadn’t proven it to himself yet. So I took stock of the situation, which included a safe place to climb, being no more than a couple of feet off the ground, and a mulch surface that would provide a soft landing should he fall. Knowing all this, when he slipped and yelled for help I simply told him he could figure it out himself if he didn’t panic and just used his head a bit.

Unfortunately, that’s when Captain America Mom decided it was her job to come to the rescue. Mainly because she saw the snapshot and not the bigger picture.

I believe kids are far more capable than we give them credit for, and not nearly as fragile or helpless as we think. Do I like watching my son struggle and fail repeatedly when trying to master something? Not particularly. However, I believe failure is necessary to achieve and appreciate success. I believe kids are stronger when they overcome their obstacles instead of snowplow parents always clearing the way. I believe just as many lessons are learned in defeat as in victory.

So when Will politely declined her offer, righted himself, and made it across the platform by himself, I smiled that much bigger.

The bottom line is there’s always more to consider and more to the story. This wasn’t a situation where he was in danger or being ignored/abused, but the mom on the playground wasn’t interested in seeing past the snapshot. She didn’t consider the possibility that a different parenting style other than her own could possibly be effective.

If she had, she might’ve seen the importance of parents knowing their kids and acting accordingly. She might’ve noticed there is more than one way to successfully raise a child other than her own. And maybe, just maybe, it would’ve dawned on her that not all risks are bad and letting kids experience a bit of failure helps them in the long run.

So next time you see a snapshot frozen in time that looks bad, make sure you consider the context.

***********************

ABB_SIM_BloggerBadge_250x151I was compensated by Similac for the “Sisterhood of Motherhood” campaign, which aims to unite all parents in a judgment-free zone. But as always, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Check out:

Share Button

What Movies Will You Pass Down to Your Kids?

netflix_tbt_fathersdayA belief in everlasting love and a healthy thirst for adventure.

If I had to pick the two things I want to teach my kids, those traits sit right at the top of the list. Deep down I’m a hopeless romantic, who genuinely believes two people can be together until the end of time and still be madly in love. It’s how I feel about my wife and it’s how I want my kids to feel about whoever they end up marrying.

And while I hope my kids aren’t adrenaline junkies, I do want to instill in them a sense of adventure and whimsy. An unexplainable urge to explore and learn and try new things. I should’ve done more of that when I was younger and I don’t want my kids having that regret as well.

There are two movies from my youth that exemplify those two traits. Two movies that have stuck with me through all the years and continue to make an impact on me. Two movies I will absolutely pass down to my kids as family heirlooms.

The Princess Bride and The Goonies.

Movies are important to me. The great ones not only entertain, they teach. They enrich. They resonate for the rest of your life and they weave generations together to form a carpet of common ground. My parents were never Saturday morning cartoon people, and so I wasn’t either. But man did we watch movies. So too will my boys.

Sharing Princess Bride and Goonies with Will was just incredible — for completely different yet awesome reasons.

“As you wish.”
“Anybody want a peanut?”
“Mawedge is what bwings us together, today.”
“Death cannot stop true love. All it can do is delay it for a while.”
“Inconceivable!”

When it comes to Princess Bride, pick a quote. Any quote. Even though it’s almost 30 years old (holy crap, really???), this is still one of the most quoted movies ever. It’s got giants, epic sword fights, witty banter, shrieking eels, and MLTs — mutton, lettuce and tomato sandwiches, where the mutton is nice and lean and the tomato is ripe. They’re so perky. I love that.

But most of all, it’s got true love between Westley and Buttercup. Love that begins from a spark of familiarity but grows into an inferno. Love that has to overcome slight obstacles such as pirate abduction, the Fire Swamp and, you know, death.

I need my boys to realize when you find true love, you never give up on it and you never let it go. You fight for it, just like MJ and I do for one another. Always and with all the passion in the world.

And when it comes to The Goonies, I don’t think there’s another movie I’ve watched more often. Seriously, we wore out the VHS tape. Despite including a murderous family of gangsters who shoot a federal agent in the head and keep a developmentally disabled person chained up in the basement, The Goonies is adventure personified.

What kid doesn’t want to find a treasure map and go hunt for pirate booty with his best friends? And, oh yeah, save mom and dad’s house, kiss a beautiful girl, and stop the country club yuppies from taking over in the process.

Mikey didn’t know for sure if One-Eyed Willy’s treasure was real, but he trusted his gut. He had friends who trusted in him. And he maintained the determination and perseverance to see it through to the end. Unfortunately, I probably would’ve been the kid talking Mikey out of seeking the treasure because my sense of adventure didn’t flare up until very recently. But I want better for my boys. I want them to seek out new challenges and take (reasonable) leaps of faith in trying new things.

And I still want to try that waterslide through the caves that lead to the pirate ship. Even now.

I know they’re just movies, but they’re also shared experiences with Will (and eventually Sam and Baby #3). They’re a throwback to my youth, and I feel like the movies are a way for my former kid self to geek out with my kids and bond. They won’t even grasp all of it until they’re much older, but the seeds are planted now as we both enjoy movies and discuss them afterward.

So when he asks to stay up a little late to watch one of our favorite movies, you know what my answer is more often than not.

“As you wish.”

*************************

StreamTeamBadge I was compensated by Netflix for writing this post. Although I did not receive monetary compensation, I received free Netflix for a year and an iPad Mini. However, as always, my opinions are 100% my own. Check out Netflix on Facebook.

Share Button