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Posts Tagged ‘parenting’

I’m back from a week long vacation with the family.  It was a great time.  Scratch that, it was great the first two days, good the third day, OK on the fourth day, I’m ready to be done on the fifth, I question if I like these people the sixth day and wow, I hate you guys so much on the seventh day.  All in all, a great week.

I’m an introvert (a blog for another time), which means social interactions drain me.  It doesn’t mean that I hate being social, which is a common misconception about introverts, but as the social interactions continue, my energy levels drop.  I enjoy hanging with the family, I really do, but the need for quiet time and isolation increases as time goes by.  It is even worse when screens are not allowed on our family vacation.

No screens is the brain child of my wife, God bless her.  It is her desire for us as a family to focus on each other for a week.  As far as I can tell, she loves this concept and enjoyed the tech-free week.  And I will admit, it was good for the family and it was good for me.  I recommend it to all the families out there to spend time together unmolested by internet, Facebook, Instagram, snap chat, etc.  But for me, it’s as appealing as exercise or an enema (roll credits).  There is no doubt that exercise is good for you, but most people don’t look forward to exercising, especially if you aren’t used to it.  And don’t get me started on enemas.

But just like exercise, dieting, etc., you get to a point where it feels good.  You start to wonder why you haven’t done this sooner.  The same is true for eliminating screens from your life.  Taking a break from email, Facebook and the internet is a wonderfully cleansing activity.  But then you get home, and the TV is back, Wi-Fi is back, and it’s like at the end of a good run is a Dunkin’ Donuts and you decide, “One donut won’t hurt.”  Next thing you know, you haven’t run for years, because donuts and watching TV are way easier than exercise.  I’m not ready to give up my devices, but I love the fact that I have kids and a wife that don’t mind (or at least they fake it well, which is all I really ask) focusing on our relationships together as a family.


I was at Walmart today buying a gift for my daughter’s birthday.  Some glitter from the gift got on my face.  The cashier pointed it out to me and highly recommended that I clean it off before returning home.  I looked at her and knew exactly why she was telling me that I had glitter on my face.  I had to laugh.  Walmart, saving marriages from gross misunderstandings every day.  Where is this commercial?

 

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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, my son and I have completed our first leg towards Colorado. On Facebook I posted my idea of how to have conversations with my son on the 16-hour drive. The plan was simple: He would write down seven subjects and I would write down seven subjects and we would select a subject every hour to discuss for ten minutes. I modified the plan a little by adding a rule that if the card selected is a subject that you wrote, than you had to introduce the topic for the first minute.

This might sound like a weird idea to you, but my son is 13 years old and like many 13-year-olds, he does not talk much. Honestly, I don’t talk much either, but when you are in the car for 16 hours with another person, not talking at all gets old fast. When he was seven, I did not mind his silence so much, but now that he is older, I have higher expectations.

Believe it or not, it went great. The first subject selected: What do you want to be best at? This was my subject. I told him of my aspirations to be a great teacher and how hard I have worked towards being a great professor. My son wants to be best at football and plans to be in the NFL one day. We talked about what he will have to do to make his dream come true. The conversation went well.

The second card selected: Who is the best superhero and why? Also my subject. How do you NOT select Superman? He can fly, he is super strong, and only one thing can hurt him, kryptonite. What are the chances you can find kryptonite? So, easy choice right? Well, according to my son, Batman is the greatest, because he would outsmart Superman and if anyone can get kryptonite, Batman can get it. My only problem with my son’s argument is that you know what can defeat Batman? A rifle. How can you be the greatest superhero and be killed by a gun? We had to agree to disagree.

Rich, Gadgets and Smart

Rich, Gadgets and Smart

Flight, Strength, Almost Invincible and best alter ego disguise EVER!

Flight, Strength, Almost Invincible and best alter ego disguise EVER!

The last card selected on our first leg to Colorado: Food and Drinks. This was Brett’s subject. We talked about favorite foods, drinks and how junk food and certain sodas can be addictions. In case you are wondering, my son called them addictions and not me. We had a very deep conversation on food and trying to make smart decisions, and the difficulty of not eating too much of certain foods. The conversation was very cool.

Now, you may be wondering why we only discussed three subjects in an eight-hour drive. It turns out, I don’t need a lot of conversation in eight hours. We had our discussions, and it was nice and made the drive much more pleasant. I got to learn a little more about my son, and when we stopped for dinner, he actually talked more than I did.

We have another day of driving and a stack of cards with various subjects. Today was a nice start as all the subjects were relatively low-key. I have a couple of serious subjects in the stack and we will see how that goes, but for now, it was a surprisingly great idea. I highly recommend it.
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I learned something today. You know who advertising works really well on? 13-year-olds. I learned today that my son wants new headphones for his birthday. He wants Dr. Dre Headphones. While writing this blog, I looked them up. They range from $200 – $400. Are you freakin’ kidding me?!? Why does he want them? He says they look cool. I may be getting old, but they look like regular headphones to me. I’m just sayin’ …

$400. Really??? Come on man!

$400. Really??? Come on man!

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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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