Category Archives: Parenting

A fledgling leaves the nest

He left for his final training run here in Oregon around 10:30 a.m. I teased him about the intense heat. It’s supposed to be 97 degrees today, a slight downturn from yesterday’s 101.

Last night I made him some sockeye salmon on the grill, and last week we went for a Father’s Day hike up to just one more of the many beautiful places here in Oregon.

Part of me wants all of these memories to stick with him through the next four years of college. So that he longs for this place like a small ache.

We’re far from an empty nest with a 16-year-old high school junior and an 11-year-old headed to junior high. But the very first to fledge is leaving this week.

We have a week to get used to this idea, as his mother and I drive him across the country to his old high-school haunts and the college where he will live for the next four school years.

We’ve had 19 years to get used to this idea, but we spent them living instead of worrying about this day.

As I reflect on our life with him, I’m struck by a number of things. That children improve your lives goes without saying. But the joy they bring really is immeasurable.

We had our challenges. All those transitions. From nursing to solid foods. Preschool. Kindergarten. All day school. High School.

Cole was born in Hawaii, where we spent most of his first year. Then we moved back to Oregon.

We spent the next three years traveling to places like New Zealand and Bosnia, and then added a little brother to the mix.

We spent the next two years in Oregon where I was studing journalism. We added a little sister to the crowd, then we moved to Montana.

All through these transitions. Cole was either experiencing them or helping us through them with all the grace and agility of a first born.

After another move to Alaska and yet another to Chicago, I started to make promises that we would settle in to allow him to finish high school with his friends.

I was unable to keep that promise in the end, and still, with more grace than I had any right to expect, he finished his senior year across the country back where we started this adventure.

A final fishing trips with him before he sets off.

Joy, grace, laughter, tears, these are a few of the many things I have felt or experienced during the last nineteen years with my oldest son.

I know I’m losing him now for a little while as he makes a transition that I can’t accompany him on. I know that he’ll be busy forging a new life for himself, and I’m excited for him.

May the same joy and grace you have brought to my life also inhabit the new life you build for yourself.

God speed you on your way and bring you back around from time to time, my son.

A dragon of our own

 

Dyscalculia
Dyscalculia

My son Carson has a dragon. He likely inherited his dragon from me, and there’s a good chance I inherited my dragon from my father.

We each carry scars from our battles with our dragons, but more remarkably, we carry our stories, especially our inability to defeat our dragons, as banners rather than shame.

My wife and I had to go meet with counselors at Carson’s high school this week. He’s a freshmen, attending a new school in a different state for the fifth time in his academic life.

Carson’s ability to reason, his affability and an enviable dose of empathy caused his early teachers to miss his dragon completely.

He wasn’t diagnosed until a specialized test caught the discrepancy between his reading comprehension and math scores in Alaska.  Continue reading A dragon of our own

An alternate universe in each of my sons

The 303 train from Chicago to Blue Island broke down last night, leaving me stranded in Chicago waiting for a later train.

Unfortunately, that meant I’d miss my son’s track meet.

He sent me this text just as my train pulled up to the Vermont Street stop where I park my car.

Carson RunsWhat’s unique about this text, is that it stems from a conversation we had last night while sitting around a small table at Chipotle.

It’s been a long two-weeks of sickness around our house, with everyone dealing with a combination of allergies and head colds, with a little strep throat thrown in for good measure. We needed to buy Carson a pair of running shoes for his track meet on Friday, so I made an executive decision to eat out, which is rare for us.

Continue reading An alternate universe in each of my sons

Here You Are

Orland Park, Illinois
Orland Park, Illinois

I like to write on Saturday mornings before two thirds of the kids are awake.

It’s quiet, and I love the solitude minus the occasional interruption from the 9-year-old daughter who likes to ask me complicated questions about life when I’m trying to concentrate.

Last weekend I curbed my imbibing into a manageable martini and a couple of beers and woke at 7 a.m. on Saturday morning, a good two hours later than my weekday schedule.

I settled into my comfortable writing spot on the couch, curled my legs under my body and hoisted my laptop atop my thigh to begin to work on a writing project that is currently in the creative stages but about to enter the dreaded editing and second re-write stage.

My phone rang around 8:30 a.m., about the time I was due for a short green tea break.

I didn’t recognize the local number, so I let it go to voicemail.

I picked up the phone a few minutes later and saw that the person had indeed left a message.

“Hello, my name is redacted, and I’m here with your son. He got lost from his running group, and he’s shivering and cold.”

Continue reading Here You Are

Pervasive Fear and Loathing in the Suburbs: Leaving your children home alone

Tools like Find my iPhone allow parents to track their children's whereabouts.
Tools like Find my iPhone allow parents to track their children’s whereabouts.

I want to establish something at the beginning of this post. My parents are amazing. They are loving, caring, protective and responsible.

The reason I say this, is because what they did to me as a child, directly relates to the way I’m raising my own children.

I don’t remember how old I was the first time I was left alone.

From the stories I’ve been told, I was a bit of a wanderer, often disappearing, leaving my parents to find me preaching to a crowd or singing songs in front of whatever audience I could find.

Continue reading Pervasive Fear and Loathing in the Suburbs: Leaving your children home alone

Asheville, The Art of War and Cheryl Strayed

IMG_7658I started writing this from the Chili’s across from the Comfort Inn we’re staying at in Dentsville, South Carolina tonight.

The kids are staring at me after I just scolded them for replying to the waitress with their typical “ya,” or barely discernible grunt meant to infer  that yes, they would indeed like fries with their burger.

“This is the South, where people are polite, and when they ask you if you want fries with your burger, you say yes please,” I told them.

They replied with those barely discernible grunts meant to infer that they indeed understood what I was saying.

After a long evening with Jon in Cincinnati, I was up early, as is my usual habit. I showered, dressed and sat in bed for a while waiting to wake my sleeping wife and kids.

Continue reading Asheville, The Art of War and Cheryl Strayed

The Blacksmith

BlacksmithI stopped in to the bar on my way home from work to finish up a couple of emails.

Bringing work home with me, especially work that stresses me out, is against whatever rules I’ve set up for myself.

I ordered an IPA from Michigan and sat sipping the thick, frothy top off a malty, hoppy bomb of a beer minding my own business.

I know the owner, Dave, well, and we shot the shit for a little while, as we do. I got the lay of the beer board and finished up my emails.

For a few minutes, I sat there, silently, just soaking in the dark wood, the sounds of the pin ball games and Operation Ivy’s “Unity” playing on the sound system.

Continue reading The Blacksmith

The Two Graces

http://www.columbusmuseum.org/blog/collection/the-two-graces/
The Two Graces – Oil on canvas – by Odilon Redon

This is one of those weeks or, rather, two-week stretches that we don’t have any time designation for, but you learn to dread them when you’re not in the midst of one of them.

My wife worked 10-days straight at a mismanaged Starbucks, and it left some scars.

The younger kids had a half day of school on Friday, and they made plans, but the oldest had school all day, so they had to cancel their plans, which made for a miserable dinner table conversation on Thursday.

There are nights where our robust family dinner-table discussions descend into a circus only Fellini could appreciate.

Lest you think we’re any more put together than you are.

Continue reading The Two Graces

What would your father do?

http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/sergeant-bowe-bergdahl-idaho-afghan-taliban-american-soldier-pow-america/1/364837.html
Bob Bergdahl

My father once told me that if one of us – his children – ever got sick with cancer, he would stop what he’s doing and sell everything he owns to help pay for treatment.

That’s what fathers should say.

It was not unexpected to me. It was not a surprise. It was just my dad being the kind of father he is.

Recent national news got me thinking about this idea again.

Shortly after news of Bowe Bergdahl’s release after being held captive by the Haqqani, a Taliban organization in Afghanistan, the media did what it does best.

Continue reading What would your father do?

Man 101: How to be a hypocrite

Screen Shot 2014-02-27 at 10.41.44 PM

Most of our dinner table conversations are good.

My kids amaze me with their global prowess, though my wife will complain that we spend too much time talking sports.

With three boys to two girls, I’ll admit that sometimes we do take over the conversation a bit.

Tonight was not a good conversation. And it’s my fault.

I brought up my son’s basketball practice after he started talking about going to play for the local Catholic school.

He talked about playing football for the local Catholic school.

Continue reading Man 101: How to be a hypocrite