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Posts Tagged ‘son’

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, 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, yesterday was my blogiversary (July 6).  Leave it to me to miss it.  To all of you that have been reading my blog, thanks, you are awesome.

I am currently in the mountains with my son doing research on yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventris).  Look it up.  The new picture on the front page of my blog is a marmot, but a different species, Marmota olympus, the Olympic Marmot.  But of course, I am sure you already knew that.

Brett and I just got back from a long hike.  We went up to 11,000 feet and then walked back for several miles.  The last half mile was in snow.  Yes, you read that correctly, snow.  It took a long time and he did not complain once.  I plan to post pictures soon, but not today.  We will spend the rest of the day in our cabin relaxing as it kicked both of our butts.  When I got back, Brett went to the bathroom in the main office and there was a guy sitting in the lobby of the office.  He asked me if that was my son.  I said yes.  he was very impressed that I was able to get my son to come to the mountains with me.  I told him that the impressive part was that I do not force him to come.  He comes willingly.  The man said that he hopes one day that his son will want to hike the mountains with him, but is concerned that technology and girls will win over father-son time.  He told me I was very lucky.

The conversation with the man in the lobby reminded me of one very simple truth:  I am very lucky.  I love the fact that Brett is with me, and hope he will want to come to the mountains with his old man for many years to come.  Regardless, I plan on enjoying this while I can.

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When I first started this blog, I promised myself I would do it for a year.  I have done it for a year.  I also thought that only my sister would read it, and although she is a fan, I apparently have others as well.  Pretty cool.  My goal for next year?  Less redeeming value.  I’m just sayin …

The following is my first blog on http://www.sincejuniorhigh.com.  Enjoy!

Does the World REALLY Need Another Blog?

Welcome to my first Blog site.  I started out publishing notes on Facebook, and my sister convinced me to start a blog.  So, why am I blogging.  First of all I think I have interesting things to say.  You may disagree, but I don’t really care.  Which brings us to the second reason I am blogging.  I enjoy reading my own thoughts.  So, even if no one ever reads this blog, I plan on enjoying it, and if you do too, bonus buy.

Will this be a site where family and friends can catch up with the comings and goings of my family?  Sometimes, but most of the time I will be writing about random thoughts I have.  For example, why Karate Kid 2010 was not necessary and explaining point by point how it is inferior to the original in almost every way (details for a later blog).

Will you be a better person by being a regular reader of my blog?  Highly unlikely.  Will we solve political and philosophical issues?  I certainly hope not.  This blog is for sheer entertainment value.  I plan to post every Saturday night with random posting when I feel like it.  So, what should my first post be about?  How about the name, “Since Junior High”.

So, several years ago some friends and I spent several hours playing video games at Gameworks in downtown Seattle.  It was a lot of fun.  After we were done with joystick heaven, I proclaimed to my buddies “My wrist hasn’t been this sore since junior high.”  This line has been quoted ever since, and has been officially entered into the Witty Line Hall of Fame.  If all goes well, by reading this blog, you will be exposed to such high quality comedy.  It’s gold!  Gold, Jerry!

Now for my first random thought:

Is it really THAT difficult to put a shopping cart back?  Seriously, have you ever been so far away from a shopping cart stall and said to your self, “I’m beat after walking through that store.  I just can’t walk this empty cart with wheels the 20 feet necessary to put it out of harms way.”  Really?  If this is you, your car deserves to be the target of shopping cart derby.  I’m just sayin…

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So, I normally don’t do parenting blogs so close together, but the situation warrants it.  Oh, and for those that are keeping track, I still owe you a near-death-experience blog.  Don’t worry, I will get to it, and once you read it, you will wonder why you cared.

On a daily basis, I ask my son how is day went.  If you have kids, and more specifically, if you have sons, you know what the answer is 99 times out of 100.  He always responds, “Fine.”  Even when I attempt to follow-up with more specific questions, the gist of his responses are generally somewhere within the “Fine” category.  So, a couple of days ago, after trying my usual follow-up questions, such as, “Did anything exciting happen today?” or “What was your favorite part of class?” or, my favorite, “Who did you play with/talk to at recess?”, but after getting the same old recycled answers, I tried something different.  I asked him, “Did anything bad happen today?”

You might be thinking to yourself, “Well, that is an odd question to ask an 11 year-old boy.”  Especially when there is no reason to think that anything bad would happen to a kid in 5th grade.  But, you don’t know my son.  My son is the king of “Everything is all right.”  I think this is a great trait to have in most situations, except for when things are not all right.  I blame myself for this, as I am not one to complain.  I hate complaining as a matter of fact, and hate it more when other people complain.  The problem with this is that everyone, even me, needs opportunities to share the negative aspects of their life with someone.  As a matter of fact, if you have no one to share these parts of your life with, you will have major emotional problems.  In other words, you can’t bottle shit up.  It’s just not healthy.  Now, I know what you are saying, what about my issues with emotional people?  The truth is, it’s not emotions I have a problem with, it is the reactions/choices people make in response to their emotions that I question.   It is OK to be angry, it is not OK to take a crowbar to someone’s car window because they cut you off a mile back.  It should be OK, but it is not. 

Well, what about my son?  It turns out, the question, “Did anything bad happen today?” elicits a rather thought out, lengthy response.  The first time I asked him this question was two days after he wore his fedora to school.  Apparently some boys asked to wear it, and they had to be compelled by teachers to give it back.  My son’s version of this was quite positive.  He contended that they were going to give it back, and it was not a big deal.  But, it doesn’t take much to read between the lines.  Afterwards, I asked him, if he liked wearing the hat.  He said, “Yes.”

“Then don’t worry about what other people think or do.  And you need to know that it is OK to protect yourself.  Besides, you look great in that hat.”  I said.

We continued to talk about how he did not have to let others wear his hat if he didn’t want to, and it was OK for him to demand for his stuff back when the situation warranted.  It was a good conversation.

I also asked this question of him today, hence the inspiration for this blog.  It turns out that while playing volleyball in gym, there was a kid that was yelling at other kids for not hitting the ball correctly.  He apparently was yelling, “Watch the ball!” 

Brett did not like this.  I asked Brett if the kid yelled at him, and he said “Not so much.” 

“What did you do?” I asked. 

“I told him to be quiet.  He didn’t need to say so much.” Brett said.  

I said, “Good for you.”

The last couple of days have got me thinking about questions, and the role of the speaker and the listener.  I remember reading a book, “Outliers: The Story of Success” by Malcolm Gladwell as he discuss how Korean culture was the likely culprit for a series of airplane crashes.  You see, Gladwell made the argument that in the Korean culture, subordinates are not to challenge or speak up assertively to their superiors.  So, as he argued, when Korean co-pilots had information vital to the security of the plane, they were not willing to correct or assertively argue for a decision that may contradict their superiors, even if it meant preventing a plane crash.  Many pilots now under go training on proper communication between officers, placing the safety of the plane first over cultural norms. 

I thought of this because I believe this is the relationship my son and I have developed.  I am his clear superior, and he actively seeks not to give me negative information.  He believes this so much, that even though I might ask about his day, he will censor out the bad stuff, unless I specifically ask for that information.  It makes me think that if the knowledge of culture can serve to avoid plane crashes, maybe the knowledge of family culture can be just as effective in avoiding future family “crashes”.  I don’t know if the current form of question will always work, but I think I have at least a glimmer of hope in better understanding our relationship.  I will make it very clear to him, that not only is keeping the bad stuff hidden unhealthy for him, but it is unhealthy for us.  One thing is very clear, it is not that my son is uncommunicative, it is just that I haven’t asked the right question.

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I would be remiss if I did not say Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!  Go get your drink on, but be safe.  Keep in mind that if you end up looking like this:

Isaac is excited to find out he is part Irish

 and are NOT 3 years old, you might have a problem.  I’m just sayin …

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So, today is Wednesday.  You know what that means in the Woods household?  No TV day.  Isn’t that the craziest thing you have ever heard?  TV has given so much and asked so little.  A while back my wife requested that we have at least one day when the television is not turned on.  Of course my response was, “Why would we do that?”  “I don’t know, so that we could talk as a family. Get to know each other maybe.  Bond.” She replied.  Silliness.  Down right silliness.  Which brings us back to today, no TV.

The first time we did this, we announced to only Brett at the time that Wednesday would be no TV day.  He of course asked “Why?”  Mighty fine question son.  Leah explained the deal, and he again asked if we had to, looking to me for help.  I gave him a look as if to say, “We are on the losing team on this particular battle, son.”  Once he saw no help from me, he said, “Fine”.  I still remember that first night like it was yesterday.  Brett Jr. had gone to bed, and the first thing I do is turn on the TV.  Which of course met resistance from my wife.  “What are you doing?  It’s no TV day.”  “What?!?  You meant me too?  Why do I have to have no TV day?” was my response.  “So, we can talk.” She said.  “AAAAAAAHHHHHHH! Ugh, I say.”  Which brings us back to today, no TV day.  We have been doing this for several years now.  At has become part of us.  Everyone knows that Wednesday is no TV day.  I remember when my brother and his son was staying with us for a while.  I even made him obey the no TV rule on Wednesdays.  He was not impressed.  Of course it led him to want to move out of our home quicker, so that was a bonus buy.

We will have dinner tonight.  Go around the table and everyone will talk about their days.  After dinner, the boys will “play” fight until the 3-year-old cries and then complain to us that his older brother is being too rough.  To which we will reply, “Then don’t fight with him.”  Thirty seconds later, he is fighting with his brother again, until once again he is crying and the circle of life continues.  Once a little three year old energy has burned off`, at least a little, we will either play a game or watch a movie.  The choice will be affected by how tired we are, which is interesting, as I think most decisions in this house are determined by the adult fatigue level.  Which brings us back to today, no TV day.

Things have evolved over time.  No TV day has slowly become Forced Family Fun Day.  Sometimes it is good to not only NOT watch TV, but get out of the house and do something fun.  The first time we did this, it received the same resistance.  Brett asked me “Do I have to go?”  “Yes” I replied, “As a matter of fact I have to go too.” Hence the term, Forced Family Fun Day, as everyone is forced to enjoy the day.  This is probably mostly for me, as I can be a pill sometimes.  We will be having FFF Day this Friday, which means a second day of no TV.  How did that happen?  I’ll tell you how that happened.  It turns out that kids enjoy hanging out with the family.  Brett Jr. suggested we have family day later this week.  “Traitor! He has been turned over to the Dark Side!”  Well, what do you do?  It turns out my wife’s crazy brained idea has been adopted by the entire family.  Yeah, I don’t mind them either.  What’s a little Forced Family Fun among friends?

So, I will go without TV for two days this week.  I guess it is not a bad price to pay for a family that enjoys being around each other.  Makes you wonder if you shouldn’t consider having a No TV Day of your own, or maybe a FFF Day.  Of course if you do, and your family looks at you crazy, don’t blame me, I’d look at you crazy too.  No TV. Bah!

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You know what is funny?  I got up this morning and it was zero.  ZERO!  That’s cold.  On my way home I think the temperature was around 25.  Now, here is the funny part.  I took OFF my jacket.  In what world is 25 warm?  The Wisconsin world that where!  No one should live here.  I’m just sayin …

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So, once again I am preempting my scheduled blog for a blog about my son and being a parent.

I am divorced.  My oldest son is almost 11 (October 24).  He has a three-year-old brother and a nine-week-old sister.  I am sure in his mind he had eight glorious years of being an only child.  Now despite having to share his home with two other young siblings, hs has always had the escape of visiting his mom on the weekends to have a place all to himself.

Yesterday, he received the news from his mom that she is going to have a baby, and he was not happy about the news.  Now, if you are an avid reader of this blog, I hope you have garnered that I take parenting seriously.  I am not a perfect parent, but I do the best I can.  I mention this because I have thought long and hard about the lessons that I must teach my children, more specifically, my son who is getting closer and closer to becoming a man.

As my son becomes more and more independent, I want to make sure that he has the tools to be prepared for what life will bring.  For example, we preach healthy eating in my house.  We know that he will be in many situations in which the food will be presented in large amounts with many unhealthy options.  My wife and I have had multiple conversations with him to talk about what it means to be healthy and hope that he will choose to make healthy choices whether we are there or not.

Last week we talked about tithing.  We talked about how we believe that all we have is a gift from God and He only asks for 10%.  Brett does not attend church with us, so we have made it a point to at least discuss some of the things that we feel are important in regards to our faith.  He has a lot for a 10-year-old, and we want him to not take it for granted and appreciate all that he has.  I also think it is a good lesson about finances, something that I think many of us were not taught by our parents.

So, when my son came home last night and made it very clear to me that he was not happy about his mom having a child, I knew it was time to have another talk, and this is what I said (Thanks to my friend, Doug, for his inspiration of this chat):

Isaac was in the stroller as Brett and I walked and talked around the neighborhood.  “Brett, first of all you are a great big brother.  You have handled the arrival of your brother and your sister very well.  You have done great.  And I know it is hard dealing with so much change, but you have done an excellent job.  What I want to talk to you about today is what it means to be us.  We are Woods men, and that has meaning.  I want to tell you about two things that I believe is something that we do.  One, we do our best in everything that we do.  Whether it is school, violin, football, or Taekwondo, we do our best.  That is why it is important to practice, read or study, we do our best.  Do you know what pride is?  Well, we have pride in everything that we do.”   And we talked about this for a while. 

“The second thing we do is we help people.  That is very important.  When we see people in need, we help them.”  Brett asked, “Just friends?”  “No, everyone.  We open up doors for people.  We help strangers in need if we can.  We help our friends.  And we especially help our family and that is why your job as big brother is so important.  You have been a great big brother to Isaac and Violet, and I know you will be a great big brother to your new brother or sister.  You will help your mom when she needs it, and you will do your best to make her happy, because that is what we do.”  We continued to talk, and he was surprisingly engaged in the conversation, adding his own comments and questions about things.  By the time we got back home, we had moved on to other things, such as Ben 10 Ultimate Alien.

So, I have been thinking, maybe that is our mission statement.  We do our best and we help others.  It makes me wonder if every family should have a mission statement.  It helps with family identity, unity, goals and understanding of who we are as people.  It might make it just a little easier for our children as they grow older having a clear understanding of what they are about.

You see, Brett was significantly more positive after our conversation.  I will never forget the moment and the power of talking and teaching your kids.  It is a conversation I will definitely have with Isaac and then one day with Violet.  I am sure it will be modified, but it will still be our Woods Mission Statement.  The cool thing is that Brett spent the next hour playing and talking with Isaac during dinner.  It was a lot of fun to watch.  Striving to improve and be better, that’s another thing Woods men do.  I’m just sayin …

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So, I am working on another post that will be ready this weekend, however, I must write a quick post about my son.

I just got back from dropping him off at football practice.  He can walk on his own, but sometimes I enjoy chatting with him along the way and then talking with his coaches to see how he is progressing.

Last week, Brett Jr. missed the football game because it was a later than normal game and he wanted to see his mom.  I totally supported that decision and his team did just fine, winning 52 to 33.  So, while talking to the coaches today, they asked me if Brett would be at the game this weekend.  You see, his game this Saturday was changed to a later time, and they wanted to know if he would miss the game again.  I said, yeah he will be there.  I said, “I talked with his mom today and he will definitely be at the game.”  And they responded, “Great, because we definitely missed him last week.”  You see, until last week, Brett’s team had only allowed 6 points in 3 games.  Last week they allowed 33.  The coaches said, “We missed Brett in the middle.”

I couldn’t stop grinning.  I mean, I was sorry for the team’s struggle, but was extremely happy that it was due to my son’s absence.  He is a star!

So, I am happy, but trying to contain myself.  I have locked and chained up “crazy sports” dad from the first two weeks of football, and I have promised my self to not to ever let him out again.  Nonetheless, I am very proud of my son, for more reasons than success on the field.  He is becoming more and more independent.  He is getting his homework done, he is studying for and doing well on tests, he is playing with his brother, and he is having fun playing football.  I am very proud of my son.  I’m just sayin …

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