Sunday, January 22, 2017

Girls, Your Mommy is a Nasty Woman

Over the last few months and I'm assuming that over the next four years, our country will be inundated with vitriol over political leanings and who voted for who.  This blog, for the most part is a safe zone from that.  I emphasize "for the most part", because, as I don't talk about politics, it is sometimes important to me to talk about reaction to politics.   To me, a good portion of the time, it isn't as much what you believe, it's how you respond.  Today, my friends, is one of those days.

A few days ago, my wife told me that she was thinking of going to the Women's March in Denver.  She was torn as the family doesn't get to spend all of the time together that we'd like, between work and school and activities and everything else that life tosses at you, but she also thought it important for our daughters to see her go make her voice heard.  To be honest, I didn't mind her going, but I had questions about what good it would do.  Going into inauguration day, she was still a touch undecided.

I thought back to a time with Avery, my oldest.  She was attending preschool, for reasons that will become evident later, I'll call the school We Are Non-Darwinian Kids (WANK) in the spirit of not painting a local learning institution with a broad brush.  

NOTE: I feel like it's important to note here that I truly don't care what anyone believes.  So long as what you believe doesn't step on the people around you, I don't particularly care if you think the world is flat  and the moon is cheese.  It's your life, have fun.

So my daughter came from WANK one afternoon, She was all of four years old and she has always had a mind like a steel trap.  She was bouncing around pretty good and had a question she was dying to ask me.

"Daddy?  When you were a kid, did you live with the dinosaurs?"

No red flags went up with the question.  "No sweetheart, I didn't ever live with the dinosaurs."

"How about Grandma?"

My gut instinct was to make a joke then, as it is now, that Grandma predated the dinosaurs, but I'm a parent now and therefore was a little more straight forward. "No sweetheart, no people ever lived with the dinosaurs.  They died out long before people ever lived here."

"But Mrs. Faith said that the people and the dinosaurs lived together."

My cockles went up slightly, but tried to tell myself that they had read a book that had kids with pet dinosaurs or the like, but she continued.

"They lived together five thousand years ago until all of the dinosaurs went away." she explained.

Then I found myself explaining, in explicit detail, that Mrs. Faith was absolutely wrong and that dinosaurs and people never lived together.  I found myself truly upset, not because of what Mrs. Faith believed and that my beliefs ran counter, I was upset that she had used a preschool platform to offer her point of view on a topic that, at very, very best, the science is still out on.

Avery's school year was about over and my wife was of the opinion that I should let sleeping dogs lie. I tried for at least fifteen minutes to do just that and then found myself in the car on my way to talk to Mrs. Faith.  Long story slightly less long, by the time I was finished, I was in front of Mrs. Faith and Mrs. Knuckle, the principal, explaining my position.  I was told that I was wrong and that parents do not dictate the curriculum. I retorted, in a less than calm fashion that perhaps getting their collective heads removed from their collective posteriors would be a good place to start.  We arrived at an impasse and they questioned whether or not Avery should go to the preschool graduation. I offered that she would be just as happy at Chucky Cheese that day and that using Avery as a bargaining chip was less than enlightened way to win their argument.  At the end of the day, Avery went to the graduation, somewhat to my chagrin.

Back to my wife and what WANK has to do with this story.  Adrienne watched the inauguration and found herself in tears.  She didn't like what the election had said about this country's attitude towards women and other groups, and in that decided to go, with my mother and sister, to the women's march.  The girls asked some questions that day and I explained that it is important to stand up for what you believe in, sometimes even if you don't think it will do a bit of good.

So the lesson here, ladies?  Well there are a few of them.  The whole thing reminds me of a Dylan Thomas quote.

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day; 
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

It relates to getting old, but it applies here, too.  If something is truly bothering you, stand up and make yourself heard.  Sure, what I did at WANK probably didn't change a thing, but I can sleep just a little better having raised my voice.  The same goes for mommy and her march.  She showed you that if there is an injustice, do something.  Don't listen to the voices that tell you to 'get over it', and there will be plenty of them.  Find a way to let the powers that be know where you stand.  Stand up and be counted.  Going to Facebook and complaining about it is akin to farting in a closet, it makes you feel better in the short term, but at some point people will stay away in droves.  The second thing is that you can do anything you want in life.  Being a girl has no bearing on that.  It's what's in your noodle and what's in your heart that counts.  Be good to people and bust your tail and you'll wind up on the right side of things most of the time.  Finally, if you are waffling on whether or not your voice will even count, try it.  Mommy had doubts about whether or not going to the march would do a bit of good, and in the grand scheme, maybe it did and maybe it didn't, but it did have a unforeseen benefit.  Surrounding yourself with a couple of hundred thousand like minded, compassionate people offered a little bit of hope, and a little hope, girls, goes a long way.  

Friday, January 6, 2017

Feet To The Fire - Stuff to do in 2017

Okay, so I admit that some of my more recent posts haven’t been as uplifting as they had been previously.  I’ll chalk that up to election season meeting the silly season meeting tax season.  To paraphrase my wife, I’ve been running dark, like Tim Burton dark.

What I’ve decided to do, in the spirit of being uplifting and hopeful I’ve decided to post a few of my New Year’s resolutions and in the spirit of openness and self-flagellation, I will also be willing to answer any prods, jokes or questions about my progress as the year goes on.   

There are resolutions I’ve made that don’t seem entirely appropriate for this sort of format, those that involve my wallet, my workplace and some things involving my family, other than that, everything is fair game.  So here goes…

Weight - The tub of goo that I have allowed myself to become over the last, say, four decades, must alter course.  Over the last three or four years I have made some progress in this area but serious steps must be taken.  All of that being said I want to lose twenty pounds this year.  I know what you’re thinking.  I could just cut off an arm or maybe a leg below the knee, sure, but those actions would compromise later resolutions, so I’ll have to do it the old fashioned way, whatever that is. 

Running – I have become a much better runner in the last few years but not enough gains have been made.  I have run relay races in recent summers and ran a marathon last year and the year before and this opened my eyes to a few facts, the first of which is that I’m not a very good runner.  Chalk it up to a lack of experience or the fact that I carry what amounts to a Siberian husky around my midsection, but I need to get faster.  This year I want to run a sub four hour marathon.  To some, no biggie, to me it might be the equivalent of throwing a nickel in a well and wishing for this to happen. 

Kids – They have a laundry list of goals this year and it would be impossible for them to chip away at their lists without the help of their parents.  There are resolutions of 5Ks and piano lessons and soccer goals.  I can’t insure that they’ll achieve any of them but I can promise that I’ll do my part. So Avery, Macy and Darby, I will get the piano set up, I will get the lessons set up and I will help any of you with whatever sports endeavor you choose. Beyond that, it is up to you to get your patoots in gear and achieve what you will.   

Golf – See, this is why I can’t lose weight by cutting off an appendage, this and marathon training.  Golf may not seem to hold the same importance as the rest of the list but my golf game has regressed continually for the last three years.  Money, time, priority have all had some culpability in this and have left my swing looking something like Elaine Benes dancing. I don’t know where I will find the money, time or the ability to prioritize my golf game, but I will shoot an 80 this year (or at least a 40 over nine holes as that’s all time usually allows for). 

I'd also like to spend a little more time fishing on the river and maybe get back into skiing but let's not get crazy.  I imagine that, for this year at least, the trout and trees are safe. 

That’s it, my resolutions.  Some pretty specific, some a touch more ethereal.  Feel free to hold my feet to the fire. 

The lesson here, girls, is it as simple as ‘daddy is fat, slow and his golf swing looks like he’s swinging an umbrella?’  Probably not.  The lesson is to strive to be better.  I’ve heard it said that it isn’t about being better than anyone else, it’s about being better than you were yesterday.  It’s an idea that I wish I had glommed onto decades ago, but I’m pretty satisfied with how I have done with this over the last year or three.  I’ve seen it in you girls as well.  I’ve watched you three set your mind to something and begin to excel at it, be it bike riding or math or soccer or reading or whatever.  I’m excited to see what you girls do with your year and optimistic about what I am about to do with mine.  Happy New Year's girls. 

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Bidding Adieu to the 365 Day Dumpster Fire

I’m not fool enough to believe that the flipping of a calendar page will make a significant change in my life, but by many people’s estimation, 2016 is one for the books.  There are the obvious reasons, there was elections, and unrest and Harambe.  There was a glut of celebrity deaths so severe that Betty White was encased in bubble wrap for the last two weeks of the year.  There was Brexit and Zika and ISIS and Kanye.  There was the constant election coverage and the polarization it brought.  We lost Muhammad Ali, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, John Glenn, Alan Thicke, Florence Henderson, George Michael and Grizzly Adams to name a few. 

For me, 2016 was a series of gut punches with an occasional haymaker.  Admittedly, the election didn’t shake out the way I had hoped and, for the sake of less liberal readers, I am left feeling a bit trepidatious about the next four years.  I was surprised by the passing of David Bowie, shocked by the death of Prince and crushed by the news of Carrie Fisher, my first crush and incomparable both on and off the screen.  I had a New Year’s resolution list with far too few items checked off and lingering running injuries that made the last six months a combination of painful and stagnant.  There was too little money and too many bills and six more pounds around the middle.  All in all, 2016 felt a bit like a fist fight, a fist fight with a drunk guy who cares not for the rules.     

I think I’m correct in saying that like a lot of people, I’m looking at December 31st as a finish line.  I guess if that’s the case, then what am I writing about?  I suppose that’s the lesson for the girlies.  Yes, this year was a dumpster fire.  Yes, I often wondered about the decision making of myself, the American people and even the almighty...I mean Prince, seriously?  The part that’s hard to consider is that that the good generally outweighs the bad.  So, while the president-elect does most of his reading on Twitter, Darby has learned to read this year and while the man upstairs chose to take Harper Lee, Avery wrote her first book this year.  There were races run and goals scored.  There were good grades and good games and good times.    Here’s the thing girls; it’s easy to think of the bad times, if you let yourself go down that road.  It’s an easy habit to fall into.  It’s about what is going on between your adorable ears.  The world is a beautiful place full of interesting things.  That’s absolutely a lesson I need to work on.  So 2016, don’t let the door hitcha on the way out, 2017 and I have a bunch of stuff to do.