Thursday, June 12, 2014

What Dads Do

When I married Whit, I spent some time wondering what kind of husband he’d be. I imagined our married life together; I wondered if he’d get mad if I spent $300 on a pair of shoes (yes) or drank wine with my girlfriends in the middle of the day (no). I never wondered what kind of father he’d be.

Neither Whit nor I had a close relationship with our dad. Whit became close to his stepfather a little later in life, so it’s safe to say he didn’t have exactly the perfect paternal role model during his formative years.

So I should have worried.

But then we had kids.

And they hit the daddy jackpot.

So, kids, when you’re older and reading this, let me give you a little primer on what dads do...based, of course, on what your own dad does.

Dads like breakfast. They take you out to diners and for bagels or croissants. They don’t even notice if you’re missing a food group.

Dads teach you how to play golf and throw the baseball on target and trap the soccer ball.

Dads lie down with you every single night and let you talk about your day, even when it’s well past your bedtime.

Dads give giant bear hugs and gentle kisses and always have a lap ready when there aren’t enough chairs…and sometimes when there are plenty.

Dads play snapping turtle and let you shriek as loudly as you want.

Dads let you eat ice cream before dinner, skip church and ride in the front seat.

Dads coach your teams. And if they’re not coaching, they’re sitting at every game cheering you on.

Dads pick you up from school when you’re having a bad day and take you out for nachos so you can talk. CAROLINE.

Dads are protective. They check every lock before bed and investigate every sound in the middle of the night.

Dads will do anything to make you laugh, whether it’s loudly breaking into “Let it Go” or burping at the dinner table.

Dads want you to know you’re loved. Your dad never gets on an airplane without sending me a text telling me he loves all of us, even the dog.

Dads stand outside at a freezing ice rink at 6 am so they can videotape a figure skating routine while there’s no one else on the ice...

...and dads get up at 5:30 every Saturday morning from November to February to get a little hockey player to his (ridiculously scheduled) practice.

Dads take you to four stores to find the flip flops you want, without ever becoming impatient.

Dads treasure the idea of family.

So, I suppose, I’ve learned a little something. You don’t get to be a great dad by watching someone else or reading a book or seeing a tutorial on You Tube.

Great dads aren’t taught. They’re born that way.

Happy Father’s Day to all the really great dads.

Especially ours.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

"Help wanted?" "Help needed" is obviously more like it.

Disclaimer: I am a very happy stay-at-home mom who volunteers a lot and also does sporadic freelance writing and is paid for it. However, as my children get older, the hours from 9:00 am and 3:00 pm stretch out longer and longer, and I miss the days that used to fly by because I was so busy. I’m not a “do yoga go out to lunch watch an episode of Breaking Bad and WHOOPS the kids are home” kind of mom; I’m much more of a “give me a long to-do list and let me at it and WHOOPS the kids are home” kind of mom.

All that said, here are my...

Top Ten Signs It’s Time to Get a Job

1. You google “ideas for organizing Tupperware.” And then you search until you find an Instagram picture you like, and then you rearrange all your Tupperware.

2. When you’re feeling blue, you go look at your Tupperware, and it makes you happy.

3. You consider becoming addicted to narcotic painkillers for fun.

4. The ongoing joke you’ve had with your husband about flashing your boobs to motorists for cash starts to sound genuinely appealing.

5. You live in fear of the question, “What are you doing today?” Doesn’t matter who’s asking it, you just never really have a great answer.

6. You’re secretly envious of anyone who has a job, whether it’s the barrista at Starbucks, the Nordstrom cashier or Savannah Guthrie on the Today show.

7. You start actually reading every neighborhood listserv email regarding dog poop, and you seriously consider weighing in on the issue.

8. When people ask what you do for a living, you find yourself spouting ridiculous, outdated facts: “In 1994, I went on a business trip and rode camels in Cairo!” or “In 1996, I took the shuttle to New York every week to negotiate a bond offering!” You repeat these impressive yet totally irrelevant facts because “I make lunches and change sheets and go to Costco!” just doesn’t inspire the same level of excitement.

9. The usual four-hour window for service people doesn’t stress you out. Just doesn’t matter. You’ll be home.

10. People yelling at you to keep your dog from peeing on their lawn constitutes meaningful social interaction with adults.

Sigh. The signs are clear; I’ll dust off my résumé.

But that’s all for now. There’s a tub in this house, and it’s not going to re-grout itself.

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's how you play the game

It’s a tough time of year if you’re a kid who likes to play soccer and wants to be on a “select” team. At least where my daughter’s to-be seventh grade and my son’s to-be fourth grade teams are concerned, it was a weekend of tears, anger, threats and rumors. And that was just the parents.

Standing in stark contrast to the stress of soccer is the joy of my son’s baseball team. There’s room for everyone; Jack is appreciated whether he knocks out a triple or an outfield ball flies right past his mitt and the other team scores. The games are on Sunday evenings at 5:00, in our neighborhood, and the ice cream truck is always strategically parked near the field. As dogs and players’ siblings run around, the parents form an enthusiastic sideline with pretzels and opaque Solo cups passed from friend to friend. It’s always a good time, and everyone in my family...from Whit to me to Caroline to Jack...looks forward to the games.

One of the coaches is moving to Hawaii this summer, and they need another assistant coach to run practices and help with games. Jack has always begged Whit to coach one of his sports, and he quickly asked if Whit would help out.

My husband replied, “Well, I don’t know. I’d have to be asked nicely. It would probably have to be a written request, and it would probably have to involve scotch. And if I was asked really, really politely, I might consider it.”

Jack, who is old enough to understand his dad's sense of humor and roll his eyes with considerable talent, did so. And the matter was forgotten.

Until the game last night.

When the coach handed this to Whit:

And this note was inside:

With two airplane bottles of scotch:

And my husband shouted onto the field, “You had me at ‘Whit.’”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the right spirit (ha ha, get it?) for childhood sports.