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If you know me personally and a reader of my blog, you know that my son plays hockey.  He is nine years old and he loves the game and I love watching him play the game.  I don’t know a lot about hockey, but I have come to love the sport.  In many ways, I think there might be a conspiracy perpetrated by the White Conglomerate Program (also known as WCP, but pronounced affectionately as “wasp”) to hide the sport.  Because hockey is lit.  I enjoy watching it more than football (insert gasp here), and I especially enjoy watching my boy play, and he is good (and there are many independent parents to support my claim).  I’m 45 years old and I watched my first Stanley Cup game last year.  I have been to several minor league hockey games and now have two NHL games under my belt.  It’s a fun game.  So, when I tell the story that I am about to tell, it makes me sad.
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Hockey is a white sport.  In other words, it is a sport dominated by white players, at every level.  My son is black.  Actually, my son is half black and half white, but that doesn’t matter, he is black (I could write a blog about this subject alone).  He plays on a team that has 15 kids and he and one other kid is black.  So far, they are the only two black kids I have seen on the ice this season.  During a game with a very good team (they loss 0-9), the other kids and the coach were using foul language according to my son.  He said they were taunting him and his teammates.  We talked about it after the game, and he seemed fine and moved on.  That evening I received a phone call from my son’s hockey coach.  Here is the short version:  According to my son’s teammates, one of the other players AND the coach called my son the N-word.  I got off the phone with the coach and talked to my son about it.  He did not hear anyone call him that.  He said he heard other bad words, but not that one.  And he said that he would know because “I’ve been called that before”, he said.
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Let’s take a moment to pause.  My nine-year-old son was confident that he didn’t hear that word because he had been called Nigger before.
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Pause.
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There are so many reactions that one can have to this story:  One could explain it away.  Maybe they didn’t hear it right.  It was the heat of the moment, it happens.  Don’t worry about it, I’m sure it won’t happen again.  Don’t be so sensitive, it’s just a word.  They were taunting the other kids too, why does it have to be about your son?  Oh man!  I could write about this all day.
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It sucks that I have had to prepare two children so far (my oldest son has an N-word story as well) about being treated this way because of the color of their skin.  Many of you reading this now do not have this on your “I must teach my kid this lesson” on your parent to do list.  Maybe you understand, maybe you don’t, but I am here to tell you, it can be difficult to be black in this country.  But let me teach you the appropriate response to this situation, and I will make it simple, with one word … empathy.  Don’t get defensive.  Don’t rationalize.  Empathize.  Even if you don’t understand.
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The story continues …
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My son’s coach called me immediately after the game.  He did not see nor hear the incident.  He was informed by his players.  Not by my son.  Not by me, but the other white nine-year-old players.  They were upset by it.  One of my son’s teammates was compelled to tell his dad, who than relayed the story to the coach.  The coach called me, and made it very clear that he was bringing up the other team and its coach to the league.  This behavior is unacceptable.  He could have dropped it.  Once he learned that my son did not hear the word, he could have said let’s not rock the boat.  Maybe it was just a misunderstanding.  Nope.  Unacceptable to the coach.  Unacceptable to the kids.  I could not have been more proud of a group of kids and parents than I was of my son’s hockey team and coach.

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Life is not perfect, it is messy.  It sucks that I have two sons that have had to deal with this issue.  It sucks that I have to prepare my sons for what it will be like to be a black man in today’s society.  It sucks that in 2016, nine-year-olds will be using the language of their adults to treat other groups of people as lesser human beings.  I hope this story sticks with you.  Maybe it will inspire you to talk to your own kids about the N word.  That nine-year-old boy could have been silent.  He chose to speak up.  That’s good upbringing.  They say kids are taught to be racist.  Well, than kids can be taught to speak out against racism too.  The hockey coach could have swept it under the rug, and I would never have known.  The kids on his team could have been silent and no one would have known.  Today was not the day to tell me that all kids matter.  Today was the day to tell me that my son’s life matters.
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Roll credits.
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I should probably just end this blog in a serious way, but I can’t, it’s not in my nature.  I will leave you with one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite movies, Canadian Bacon, starring the late great John Candy as Sherriff Bud Boomer.  Here is a brief conversation between Roy Boy, played by Kevin O’Connor and my man, Bill “Radio Raheem” Nunn playing Kabral.
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Roy Boy: How come you never see any black guys playing hockey?
Kabral: Now do you think it’s easy to just gradually take over every professional sport? Let me tell you something, man. Brothers have started figuring out this ice thing. Hope you enjoyed it!
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Sadly, Bill Nunn recently passed in September of this year.  RIP.  There’s your serious ending.

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So, in case you were wondering, it is difficult to be a parent.  I think the biggest mistake that parents make is the effort we place on how our children should be.  Before my oldest son was born, I received the greatest advice that I ever received regarding parenting.  I was told, “You can decide what kind of parent you will be, but you can’t decide what kind of child you will have.”  Almost everyday that I have been a parent, this statement has been true.

Despite that great advice, I find myself on a regular basis trying to “mold” my children in, not necessarily “my image”, but at least a close facsimile of “my image”.  Scratch that, not “my image”, but the image of what I think they should be.  In other words, the advice that I find to be so true, I break all the time.  So why is this so difficult?  Let me put it this way, I think there is a fine line between molding your child and wishing the best for them.  Some time what we think is best and who we are as people mix together like a bad bowl of oatmeal. The reality is that I love my children as they are, but I love them too much to let them stay that way.

So, my goal is NOT to change my kids, but to help them be the best “them” they can be.  Which is what inspired a pretty big fight between my oldest son and myself.  Like so many parent/child fights, it began with ‘good intentions’.  My son is my research assistant this summer.  We work with an animal known as a marmot.  We spend several weeks collecting data for my research.  Luckily for me, he is with me voluntarily.  I am sure this will not be the case forever, but I am thankful he is with me now.

The research does not take all day, and we have many ‘free’ hours in the cabin, and the cabin has Wi-Fi.  So, instead of him being plugged in for hours per day, I suggested a study schedule of his more difficult subjects, French and Biology.  He begins high school next year, and I wanted him to do well.  This of course would be in addition to his assignment of reading a book (assigned by my wife) during the summer.  Well, let’s just say that he was not impressed with this plan and was quite upset at the prospect of his father destroying his summer.

I don’t have time to go into all of the details of our heated discussion, but suffice to say, it was heated, and if you were in the room, you’d think I was threatening to take away his food and make him sleep outside.  But you know the real kicker? At some point during our discussion, it became clear to me that he thought that I wanted him to study because I did not think he would be able to handle High School.  He felt I had no faith in his abilities.

How many problems in relationships are caused by miscommunication?  Hurtful words as a result of insecurities?  What if we could lead with love and support rather than change and criticism?  I love my son, and I know he can do well in High School, and I really want to help.  But it is clear to me, that in my desire to help, I must lead with love and support.  He needs to know that I am his biggest fan.  He needs help not because he lacks the ability, he needs help because we all need help to be the best we can be.  The fight calmed down when I shared my own areas where I need help.  I am not a perfect parent, but a parent that I hope to be.  To do that, I need lots of help.

Today, we discussed a chapter of ‘Catching Fire’ and answered French questions on the app, Duolingo.  He read without being asked, started telling me about the chapter without prompting, and we did Duolingo together.  I can’t decide what kind of child I can have, but I am very lucky to have the one I got.

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One way to get your kid interested in going to college is having them hang out with college kids.  My son and I eat dinner surrounded by college kids.  Between the swear words being used as naturally as breathing, sexual innuendos, and stories of college escapades that no 14-year old should hear, you’d think I would be warping my son.  He laughs on a regular basis, and I am pretty sure he can’t wait to be ‘one of them’.  Who says that there is no value in crude crass college kids? I’m just sayin …

 

 

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So, I have decided that the best way to get to know your children is to go on a road trip.  Seriously, I highly recommend it.  Granted, it will depend on the type of kids you have and how many.  With just my son and me in the car, it is quite easy.  If you add two more kids to the mix, I am sure it becomes more difficult, but with proper planning it could go quite well …  I think.

On the second leg of our trip to Colorado, we talked about sports (His topic).  Our conversation about sports got philosophical quite quickly and lasted for almost an hour.  I wanted to know why he played sports.  You see, my son is in a lot of activities.  He is in karate, he starts football in August, then wrestling, then back to karate, and if there was infinite more time and money, he would also be in swimming.  He is the best swimmer that I know.  He is a blue belt in karate and is getting quite good at his defensive line position in football.  Of course I am biased, but I believe the previous statements are accurate.

But it was the why questions that interested me the most.  I asked him about karate and if he knew why they discussed things like honor, dignity and humility.  His sensei is very old school and he trains in the Okinawan Shorin Ryu school of karate.  I asked him if he knew what that meant.  He did not, and quite frankly, neither did I, which led to a discussion on why not ask why?  This may be normal for 13-year-olds, but I found it curious.  My son does a lot of things without knowing why he is doing them.  He likes karate for the exercise.  He likes football because he has friends on the team and he has dreams of being in the NFL.  He likes swimming because I think he is part fish.  My son can stay in the water all day.  And when I say all day, I mean all day.

The why questions led us to a discussion about his school classes.  His classes are apparently stupid and he does not see their point.  We talked about the purpose of education.  I explained to him that there is still a lot that he does not know and that he is not ready to be kicked out of the house yet.  He agreed.  We talked about goals, and why it is important to have them.  We talked about life and philosophy and why there are certain rituals in his karate class.  We talked about why he never asks the ‘why’ questions.  His answer to this surprised me, it’s because no one else does.  I said, “You are right, most people don’t ask the ‘why’ questions, and if you can learn to do this, you will be a step ahead of everyone else.  It is important to ask why, especially when you don’t know the answer.”

I have no idea how my son will look back on this summer when he is older.  I hope he will look back in a positive way.  I hope I am not coming across preachy.  I hope he is not becoming skilled at tuning me out, which I am sure he does more often than I would care to admit.  But nonetheless, it was a good ride to Colorado and I learned a lot.  It makes me wonder how much we could all learn about one another if we could just periodically be stuck in a car for 16 hours.  Can’t wait until the drive home at the end of the month.  We still have a lot of topic cards left.

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One interesting thing I learned on the second leg of the trip.  My son wants to see his birthplace, Lawrence, Kansas.  As we drove through Nebraska I said look around, it’s a lot like this, except with fewer trees.  Despite my description of his birth state, he still wants to go.  So, we will be taking the long way home through Kansas.  I will just have one thing to say to my son before we embark on our Kansas journey.  Be prepared to be disappointed.  I’m just sayin’ …

Yup.  It looks just like this.

Yup. It looks just like this.

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So, just completed a successful family vacation. I should blog about it, because I have so much to say, but more on that later. Today’s blog is about my oldest son’s Individualized Education Program, or better known as IEP.

An IEP is basically the school’s mechanism for dealing with a child’s special needs. It is not exactly Special Education as many are aware, but more like … individualized education. In my son’s case, it involved his delay in speaking and his struggle with understanding multi-step instructions. It also involved his social awkwardness. For example, he struggles to look people in the eyes when speaking and he rarely, if ever would engage others in conversation. It is a little more complicated than that, but you get the picture.

The biggest problem for me was when he was younger. You see, everyone had an opinion to what is issues were. Some said he was autistic, others said he was just delayed, and others just thought he was dumb. For example, in first grade, he was recommended to be completely removed from the classroom to be enrolled in Special Education. Luckily, he had a very good teacher that year and could support our opposition to that plan.

I had a brief conversation with his main IEP teacher from sixth grade today. I ran into her while we were placing my son’s school supplies in his locker. I asked her if she would be in charge of my son’s IEP again this year, and she said no, but gave me the name of the person who would be in charge. She then proceeded to tell me how good it was that I forced the IEP teachers to keep the bar high for my son, as towards the end of last year he no longer needed the extra teaching support. My first reaction was to admonish her and the staff for even thinking about NOT pushing my son, but instead redirected the praise toward my son for doing such a great job last year.

Here’s the thing: I have been forcing my son’s IEP team to raise the bar from day one, every year since preschool.  Actually, since before preschool.

Originally, I wanted to blame the Chicago Public Schools.  When my son was three, he didn’t talk.  So, I took him to a Chicago public school counselor.  Her recommendation was that we give him more time and let’s see “if he will grow out of it.”  Instead of waiting, I got him a speech therapist.   I moved and enrolled him in preschool in Wisconsin.  He was placed with kids that could not control their verbal speech, movements and needed strait jackets.  No exaggeration.  This is not meant as a negative on those kids, but my son could do more than they, and should have been in a class with higher functioning kids.  I requested that he be moved to a more challenging class.  They fought this, because they did not want to over stress and frustrate my son with the difficult challenges of the standard class.  He eventually was placed in a different class, after I forced them to place him in the standard preschool class.

But, then I thought, “Maybe it isn’t the public school system.”  I took him to a private therapist.  No diagnosis, but it was recommended that he focus on his strengths so as not to tax his brain with things like the English language.  Really????  Then how will he get better?  He will get better, but let’s not frustrate him too much.

We left for another Wisconsin school district and in the first grade he took his first standardized test.  According to the test it was recommended that he be removed from mainstream and placed in a special class.  Basically, according to the test, my son had an IQ of 5.  Once again I protested the downgrade of my son, but luckily, for the first time, a teacher was on the same page.  His first grade teacher joined the fight to keep my son in a mainstream class.  This was the first and last time I had an education person advocate for my son.  It turned out that my son had a problem understanding complex written questions.  In other words, he knew the answers, he just did not understand the questions.  So, for his IEP, he was allowed extra time for tests, and someone was allowed to read him the questions to make sure he understood them.  Upon retesting, he fell within normal parameters with below-average language skills (no surprise).

Believe it or not, this battle for challenging my son to rise to a higher standard continued until 6th grade.  His IEP recommended that all of his language assignments be half of what other students would be required.  Actually, in 5th grade, he was recommended to not be in the standard English class at all.  Of course, I said no.  And once again, I told his IEP, whatever the requirements placed on the other kids will also be placed on my son.  Once again, I got looks as if I was the meanest father in the world.  Which brings us to the present day, 7th grade, and my son has been scheduled without any help whatsoever, because of how well he did last year.

Why did I have to fight and advocate so much for my son?  Is this the new American education system?  We live in a world where kids are getting ribbons of participation because we don’t want them to feel bad for coming in last place.  We live in a world where preschools are handing out diplomas.  Kids that are behind are not being challenged in fear of frustrating them.  What happened to trying harder?  What happened to making it work despite the hardship?  This is even true politically.  If you don’t have a job, it’s the government’s fault.  I see immigrants every day come to this country, barely speak the language, if at all, and work to support their families here and in the country they came from.  Yet, we complain that it’s the President’s fault the unemployment rate is so high.  When did this become our America?

Do some people and kids need help?  Of course, but when did the system discourage hard work and raising the bar?  What would have happened to my son if I had waited to see if he started to talk?  What if I allowed them to take him out of the mainstream class?  What if doing half the work of the other kids was acceptable?  Then I think about the thousands, probably millions of kids that have learning disabilities and are encouraged to move slower so they are not frustrated.  In my opinion, this is a system that takes kids that are behind and not only keeps them behind, but places them farther behind.  In this country, “Tiger Mom” is a bad name, but if you go to other countries, do they have special programs to help students that are behind, or are they just forced to catch up?  You might think my words are harsh or extreme, but at least in my son’s case, had it been left up to the American education system, he would be far behind his peers right now.

After talking with last year’s IEP teacher, my son asked if he would be in Special Education classes this year.  I said to him, “You were never in Special Education classes, but you did need extra help in your language classes.  But no buddy, you will not be in “special” classes this year.”  And my son replied, “Then I will do my best.” Yeah he will, and every year, his best just keeps getting better.

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While at the store, a guy asked me if I knew what kind of ring I was wearing.  Dumbfounded, I said, “What?”  He continued, “Your ring.  Do you know that it is an Irish Marriage ring?”  I informed him that it is a Claddagh ring, and explained to him that it was not necessarily for marriage and how depending on how you wear changes its meaning.  As you may know, I hate strangers.  I especially hate strangers talking to me.  Quite frankly, no man should be asking another man about a ring.  Come on man!!!  You might be asking, “Why did you talk to him?”  Simple, what this stranger was saying was inaccurate.  And I hate stupidity more than I hate talking to strangers.  I’m just sayin’ …

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So, a number of conversations have taken place between my son and I in the last few weeks that I have been meeting to blog about.  However, in the interests of time, I have decided to focus on two moments that will go down in the Great Father/Son Moments Hall of Fame.

As I may have mentioned before, my son and I go camping every year in a place called Vedauwoo Campground just East of Laramie, Wyoming.  We have been doing it for five years now.  The thing I love about this tradition is it seems to be just as important to my son as it is to me.  I know this, because during extremely bad weather, I have given him the option of staying in a hotel instead, and every time he has requested to put up our tent come hell or high water.  One year, I really thought high water was going to be an issue.  This campground is famous for its bouldering.  We camp, usually make a campfire, make s’mores, then wake up in the morning, pick a boulder to climb and then climb it.  Once we reach the top, we take a picture of ourselves, and mission accomplished.

Woods Destination Climb 2012

Our Annual Vedauwoo Picture #5

This year, after climbing our boulder mountain we were discussing mountain lions.  We got on the subject of baby lions for some reason, and my son asked me how mountain lions were made.  Of course, I ask, you mean the species, or how do mountain lions mate?  He wanted to know about lion mating.  OK.

So, I briefly describe lion mating and think that is sufficient.  Then my son asks if that is the same way humans do it?  I tell him, “For the most part.”  And then I ask if he wants specific details about making a baby.  To my surprise, he says, yes.  I won’t go into the full details of the conversation that took place next, but I will say that it was very specific, using words like, erection, penis, vagina, ejaculation, sperm, orgasm, etc…  And my 12-year-old son listened intently to every word.  After I was done telling him about the birds and the bees, I asked if he had any questions.  He said no.  Then, after a pause, he said to me, “I think I won’t do any of that until I’m 27.”  And I said, “That is alright by me.”  And now that I have written this blog, I have the documentation to prove it.  Good times.

The second father/son moment actually occurred yesterday.  Brett is going to YMCA camp this Sunday.  One of the requirements of camp is that he has a doctor’s signature indicating that he is healthy enough for camp.  Unfortunately, because of time away to be with my father during his illness, I forgot all about this requirement.  I called his doctor to see if he would sign a form stating that my son is healthy.  He agreed.  Unfortunately, once they looked at his records, the time since his last appointment was too long, so, he would need a physical.  Unfortunately, his regular doctor did not have any appointments between yesterday and Sunday.  Luckily, the physician’s assistant was available and she (emphasis on the word, SHE) agreed to do the physical immediately.  We rushed to the doctor’s office to get my son his physical so that he could go to camp.

From the beginning, Brett was nervous.  He asked if he was going to get a shot, and I said no.  I just informed him that the doctor was just going to look at him and make sure that he is healthy and that it is a requirement to go to camp.  The nurse weighed him, measured his height, and took his blood pressure.  Once completed, she instructed my son to take off all of his clothes except his underwear and the doctor would be in shortly.  Immediately upon the nurse’s departure, he asked me if she was serious.  I said, “Yes.  Take everything off except your underwear. It will be OK.”  And then, what seemed like forever, (at least five minutes if it was a second), the doctor came in.  She introduced herself, and then proceeded to ask both Brett and me a series of health related questions.  This process took a good 15 minutes.  After we were done, she asked if we had any questions.  We both said no, but then there was a pause, and Brett said, “Actually, I do have one question.  Why did I have to answer all those questions in my underwear?”  Priceless.  I couldn’t help but laugh.  Excellent question and hilarious.

She told him he could put his shorts on until later.  I didn’t have the heart to warn him beforehand.  Looking back, I probably should have, but he was about to find out anyway.  Later, she asked him to take off his underwear and the look on his face was as if someone was going to shoot him.  He grimaced, closed his eyes and waited for torture to begin.  After a couple of “Turn and your head and coughs”, she was done, no hernia.  It was by far the worse part of the physical for him.  He got through it and now he is cleared for camp next week, but it was definitely some uncomfortable touching.  He might revise his earlier statement to waiting till 37.  I have a feeling he will feel differently about that soon enough.

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On the car ride home we talked about how uncool the experience was, and he was relieved to know that he would not have to do that again for a while.  I thought about telling him about what the doctor wants to do to me ever since I turned 40, but then I thought, “Why scar him for life?”  I’m just sayin’ …

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So, I am about to talk about something that many of you will disagree with, as a matter of fact, all of my readers may disagree with what I am about to say.  However, make no mistake, I am right, I am correct, and the rest of you are wrong.  You might even dislike me for the following words, but I am OK with that, because sometimes the truth hurts.

Yesterday, I spent about an hour at my son’s preschool graduation ceremony.  Guess what?  Preschool should NOT have a graduation ceremony.  What did he have to do to graduate?  Not pee in his pants?  Although it is awesome that he no longer pisses his pants, but diploma worthy?  I don’t think so.  How about coloring in between the lines?  Able to use a spoon and fork without assistance?  Oh, here is one, he grew.  That’s right, I present this diploma to you, my son, for growing.  Good job.

Do you know when a diploma is worthy?  When there is an actual chance that you may not succeed in earning one.  For example, not everyone graduates high school.  Not everyone has a bachelor’s degree.  I am on the edge with middle school, but I will allow it.  If you are reading this right now and you are a preschool dropout, my bad, but still, no diploma for you even if you decide to go back and work towards your missing credits in “Using the potty like a big boy 101”.  My older son verbally stated his disdain for such an event at dinner.  He was severely rebuked by his step-mom for such derogatory statements towards his brother’s moment, and rightfully so.  I will have to teach him how to support our family members and only speak poorly of their accomplishments in blog form.  And even then it is only OK when the family member can’t read, so I am OK.  Don’t worry, my oldest son will get to see the highlight reel when we rewatch the edited ceremony on DVD.  Editing provided by dad, cutting out the 50 minutes of useless drivel that I hat to sit through, but well within the fatherly duties.  To all of my buddies about to be dads in the near future, they didn’t put that in the daddy brochure, did they?  Welcome to a fraternity with very low standards and high expectations.

Was I happy for my son?  Of course I was and I hope my words made him feel very special, because he is special.  Was I proud?  Of course not!  Was I to be proud of his ability to sit in a chair, sing way too many stupid songs, and walk 10 feet to pick up a fake diploma without dropping it?  I just don’t get it.  Have we gone too far in the celebration of our kids and everything they do?  When does it end?  This is beyond everyone getting participation ribbons, this is raising the bar on mediocrity and everyone is a winner.

Also, the ceremony had a long-winded speech by the director.  Here is a little lesson for everyone that may one day be involved in planning a graduation ceremony.  Now, pay attention, and do not miss the following words.  NO ONE IS HERE FOR YOU!!!  Showcase my kid, and let me leave.  As a professor, I have been to my fair share of graduation ceremonies.  Here is what is necessary, 1. Welcome  2.  Thanks to Faculty and Staff  3.  Student Speaker (five-minute limit) 4.  An invited speaker, but only if the speaker is Oprah, a funny comedian like Chris Rock, the President of the United States, or a classical reading of ‘ Oh the Places You’ll Go’ by Dr. Seuss.  Otherwise, NO invited speaker.  No one cares. 5.  Reading of student names.  NOTE: If this process takes longer than 30 minutes, the graduating class should be divided up, period.  And that’s it, done.  I say the ceremony will last an hour, tops.  SIDE NOTE:  Did you know that I was the student speaker at my graduating ceremony?  True story.  I have no memory of what I talked about and that is how important it was.

Bottom line:  Preschool graduation is stupid.  There, I said it.  It’s not that my son does not deserve recognition, but it isn’t for attending a day care for four years.  You know what makes my son great?  He has no fear and will try anything and succeed in most things beyond his age.  He is well-behaved.  He has a personality that will OWN a room.  Have you ever been in a restaurant and seen everyone bend over backwards to please a four-year-old?  I have.  He will either grow up to be President or car salesman, right now it is a toss-up.  He is doing well with his numbers and letters.  He is kind and helpful.  His intelligence has no limit and he can hit a baseball two houses down.  I am willing to give him a medal in awesomeness, but as far as I am concern, he must wait until at least the end of 8th grade to get his first real diploma.

PS – If you will be attending a graduation ceremony in the near future, I dare you to tell me I am wrong about what needs and does not need to be in a graduation ceremony.

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I spent almost two hours watching a middle school talent show last week.  Again, not in the daddy brochure.  It was mostly brutal, but my son played violin in front of a crowd of about 200, maybe more.  He did great.  I could not be prouder of him and his accomplishment.  Forty-one kids tried out for the show, but only 17 were selected.  He was the best instrumentalist in the whole show.  Unfortunately, he did not win first place in the instrumental category.  Clearly, it’s all political.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I am sick.  I have been sick for the last few days.  I have been self-medicating with non-stop drugs while at a wedding in New York just so I could be present for my friend’s celebration (more on the wedding later, as it is blog worthy).  I feel like my body is finally saying, “The wedding is over, you are back home, let’s be sick.”  And that is what I am, sick.

I have been laying in my bed for the last couple of hours.  Our bedroom is on the second floor of an open cape cod house.  You can’t hear everything from our bedroom, but you can hear a lot.  Here is what I heard:  Based on the various metal clinks, my wife was eating dinner by herself at the kitchen table.  My best guess is that getting three kids fed did not afford her the time necessary to satisfy her hunger needs.  So, she was eating in the kitchen, and the three kids were in the family room.

Brett was telling his brother and sister a story.  I could not hear the exact words of the story.  As a matter of fact, I have no idea what the story was about.  What I can tell you is that close to every two minutes, Isaac and Violet would laugh hysterically.  They were laughing hard.  The kind of laughing that forced each kid to jump up and down and you could tell that they could not stop laughing if they tried.  Then, silence, as Brett continued his story.  Once again, I could hear the metal clink of silverware as Leah ate in the kitchen.  And then, hysterical, uncontrollable laughter, but this time, one child must run around the house in a circle because of their laughter.  I have no idea what the story was about, but I do know one thing:  According to Isaac and Violet, Brett is a comedy story-telling genius.

This is one of the few advantages of having three kids, especially when the oldest is old enough to give you a parenting break.  I would love to tell you that it is due to our awesome parenting skills that has afforded us this older sibling luxury, but that would not be true.  Here is how I remember it:  Isaac is done eating.  He wants to play.  He asks his mother to play, but she is not done eating and tells him to wait.  Isaac asks me to play, but I too am not done eating, and then I say, “Why don’t you ask your brother if he will play with you.”  He does.  Brett says no.  I go talk to Brett, “Come on man!”  And the rest is history.  Later, push Violet towards them and point out how much more fun she would have playing with them, then sitting on her parents’ lap.  Add a dash of being purposely extra slow eaters, and you got yourself an after dinner break.  Many times, Leah and I actually talk to each other while we eat and the kids play.  It’s awesome!  Don’t judge us.  Unless you have kids, you don’t understand.  Besides, we are building Brett’s character.

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You know why the kids were being entertained by Brett rather than TV?  No, it is not because we are progressive parents.  Someone lost the remote.  To encourage finding the remote, Leah stated that no one watches TV till the remote is found.  I guess Brett’s love of TV is overshadowed by his hatred of actually looking for stuff.  You got to give my son credit.  Telling a story that makes a one and a half-year old girl and a five-year old boy laugh uncontrollably truly is genius.  He has made one fatal error though; he is very good at entertaining those kids.  He couldn’t get out of giving us a break if he tried, and it’s only going to get worse.  I’m just sayin’ …

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