Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tales of a Smart-Assed Dumb Ass

Like any father I worry about my kids as they grow older.  With my eldest, we had concerns with math and shyness, with my middle it was her ability to keep hands to herself and not solving her problems with fisticuffs.  Lately it’s my youngest, Darby.  Overall, she is a happy-go-lucky first grader who can find the fun in just about anything.  She’s cute as a bug and as smart a kid as you will meet.  Not that it’s a concept that I put stock in, but if there is such a thing, she is an old soul.  There is something behind her eyes that tells me that things need to make sense long before she is buying in blindly.  She is a great kid.

That being said, I worry.  I worry because she often stands in line for school by herself.  I worry because she seems just as happy playing solo.  I worry because she has one really close friend and hates the idea of deviating from her at all.  Mostly I worry because she reminds me of me. 

This may come as a shock but I haven’t always been this put together (joke intended).  In my younger years, I went from shy to chubby to zit faced to awkward to college.  I spent my grade school years with a few close friends.  Being in Catholic school makes it difficult to determine if it was class size that limited my friend base or my penchant for Toughskin jeans.  Either way, I was a little fish in a little pond.  In middle school, I remained little in popularity alone.  The pond grew as did my waistline.  Most of the friends that I had from grade school went to a cross town middle school and I was more alone than ever.  What I found was that kids from public school already knew each other, cliques were already formed.  I spent those three years concentrating on baseball in the summer and avoiding bullies and avoiding girls the rest of the year.  High school carried many of the same problems but my weight went down.  I suspect that my weight loss would have helped my situation if acne hadn’t decided to rear its greasy head. 

Truth be told, my senior year was okay, I changed schools and benefited from ‘new-kid syndrome’.  This is a syndrome where you can either be a total outcast or a total mystery.  Fortunately for me, I fell into the latter.  In the end, the scoreboard read, one good year, eleven somewhat miserable ones.  This is not intended to be a ‘woe is me’ type of story, but it is necessary to get the back story so you can see where I am coming from as it relates to my little one. 

Long story short, I spent grade school and middle school wishing I wasn’t there and high school making that a reality.  I skipped class and took classes at the local community college.  A hearty mix of dumb-ass and smart-ass. 

If I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have worried about it so much.  I still don’t have a huge group of friends, but the ones I have I would do anything for, and for the most part, I think they would reciprocate.  I don’t get caught up in gossip.  I’m able to draw very clear boundaries and limits with people.  All in all, if I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t.  I hated it like intestinal flu, but it made me stronger.

Which brings me to Darby.   I get it, sweetheart, I truly do.  I understand why you stand in line by yourself or only want to play with your one great friend.  Hell, I don’t fault you for any of it.  I’d be a hypocrite if I did. 

Here’s the thing girls.  You may not need a huge group of friends, but you may want one from time to time.  The thing with that is to make friends you have to put yourself out there a little.  It’s not always fun.  It can feel like you’re faking it.  You might have to talk to people in line at school, you may have to join clubs or teams, you might have to ~gasp~ play with more than one person at recess.  You never know which ones will stick either.  Most of my best friends in the world come from job waiting tables over a decade ago. Those guys can be goofy, absentminded, hyper competitive and make jokes at my expense and frankly, I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  Just don’t tell them that. 

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Holiday Stress vs. Chardonnay Turkey

I can smell my wife’s Chardonnay Turkey cooking.  I don’t know for sure if that is why I am up at 5:00 on Thanksgiving, but here I am.  2017 has been a hell of a year thus far.  I’ve been reflecting on it, unintentionally, around 4:00 in the morning the last few weeks.  Thanks, overactive-brain. 

Changing careers offers its own brand of stress.  It’s exciting but daunting, probably like dating a sasquatch.  I’ve read that changing jobs ranks as high as a death in the family or divorce for stress triggers.  So clearly, my wife changing jobs simultaneously should offset any stress I am feeling.  Two wrongs making a right and such. 

This school year hasn’t been as smooth as I’d like on a couple of my girls.  The weight of getting ready to go to middle school is starting to show on my eldest and my youngest has made her best friend such a priority that she is letting the rest of her friendships die on the vine.  Turns out, it’s pretty tough to convince a six-year-old that they shouldn’t hang out with their best friend as every single recess.  It falls on willfully deaf ears. 

There are home stressors, and money stressors and parenting stressors, and time stressors and “getting fatter despite a crap load of running” stressors.  It has been asked of me by people I otherwise trust “How can you be so stressed with those three little faces in your life?”.  That’s easy, I was never this stressed before they came into my life.  They are the source, the conduit and the fuel for most of my stress.  Not them exactly, but their happiness and their future.  No one mentioned that little fact when they were pressing for grandkids. 

But here I am, 5:30 on Thanksgiving morning waiting for the coffee to brew and weighing out what to write about.  Here it is: I’m stressed, for the most part because of all the things I should be thankful for.  Changing careers is stressful, sure, but the new career will offer me much more by way of personal freedom, time and money.  Similarly, my wife is pursuing a dream of hers and it’s stressful because I want it to work for her.  Sure, the kids cause a unique brand of stress but it is my desire to see them happy and healthy that creates it. 

So, here it is ladies.  I’ll keep it short and sweet because mommy is going to want some help in the kitchen before too long.  Yes, daddy wakes up too early because of the ever-present voice of doubt in his head and hair is falling out faster than it can grow back in.  It’s okay.  It truly is.  It’s simply not possible to love someone as much as I love you without paying the price around the waist line or the hair line. 

On a side note, or maybe the point of the story, is my friend Mai.  A year ago today, her son was in a terrible car crash.  The stress I feel towards my kid’s future doesn’t scratch the surface of what Mai and her family must feel when thinking of Nash’s journey forward.  There are so many parents that deal with so much more than I do.  Hell, I’m quite sure that I caused my parent’s hair to change color a lot more rapidly than my daughters do mine.  At the end of the day, the story is the same for all of us.  We just want what is possible for our little ones.  So happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Enjoy your turkey, your family and your nap. 

Monday, November 13, 2017

Maybe The Holidays Will Give Us Some Free Time....

Life has been incredibly busy, good, but busy.  Adrienne finally got her new office open and I am in the throes of a career change.  Fortunately for all of those on Larkbunting Drive, things seem to be lightening up a bit.  Frankly, as much as I love writing on this platform, time always seems to get in the way.  Imagine a writer saying that time, not material, is the issue.  Writing tends to involve an idealist, a desk and a blank stare for hours on end.  I have ideas but lack the hours.  It’s a lovely curse.

Anyway, things are lightening up.  Soccer has wound to a close and it was truly a fun season.  I have watched my eldest budding into a soccer star, Avery, go from daisy picker to soccer stand out in just a couple of years.  Macy, my middle kid, made a more competitive team and spent her year trying to get a foot hold on increased expectations.  She has gone from being able to “out physical” other kids to having to use her grey matter during the game.  So far, it’s been a bit of a conundrum for her.  Darby, my youngest and least accomplished soccer player seemed to grasp she was actually on a soccer field this year.  A true departure from previous seasons.  This season saw practice or games six days a week, unless there was a tournament, of course, which made for seven days a week.  But things are lightening up. 

My wife, Adrienne, has bitten off more than most could chew.  She is opening a real estate office in Loveland as well as starting her own team simultaneously.  It’s the career equivalent of soccer seven days a week.  She goes to work before the girls go to school and gets home long after it gets dark.  It has taken a toll on her, on the kids, and a husband who is ill prepared for being the “go-to parent” for any extended period of time.  She has finally got the office opened.  It is far from complete, but at least she has the keys to the building.  Her team is up and running as well.  She is living one of her dreams, providing much to her family and it looks like all of it is taking shape.  Things are lightening up.

Myself, I am changing careers.  I decided to take six months’ worth of classes in three months. A decision that displays a healthy mix of arrogance and stupidity.  It was incredibly difficult but I believe it was what was best for my family.  Becoming a real estate appraiser isn’t the most glamorous thing in the world, but it provides the flexibility I want and provides a little more by way of upside than my former gig.  The classes were stressful and the finals were awful, but they are over now.  Things are lightening up. 

Over the coming months the girls will have choir, piano lessons, soccer camps, mommy will continue to expand her office and her team practically guaranteeing long hours.  I will start my hands-on appraisal training and who know what that will entail.  We can’t forget that Thanksgiving is right around the corner, as is Christmas and what should be plenty of friends and family.  Things are lightening up, or at least I have to keep telling myself that. 

Truth be told, girls, things aren’t really lightening up.  Not really, but they are changing.  Here’s the important part; things are changing for the better.  You ladies are busy because you are doing things that are helping you grow, both physically and mentally.  Mommy is busy as all get-out but her ‘busy’ is laced with personal growth and satisfaction as well as doing great things for her family.  I am busy and about to get a lot busier.  I have a feeling, however, that this ‘busy’ will help free daddy up in the future for our continued adventures.  Being busy isn’t a bad thing, girls, but it does mean that we need your help.  Feed the pets, do your homework without being asked and for God’s sake, pick up your dirty undies.  No dad should have to do that.