Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Boys Weekend

This past weekend my wife decided to spend the night near her hometown with one of her childhood friends. Gulp… That means a weekend alone with the kids! As it turns out my daughters were both out of the house and my 11-year-old was with his Dad leaving Evan and I to run the house.

Saturday started, as any big “Guys Weekend” should, waiting for a new washer to be delivered! As it turns out the discharge hose was not long enough (not the first time I have heard that) so we had to go to Wal*Mart to get an extension.

After cooking a manly dinner of steak, fresh picked green beans, and potato salad we took to the links… mini-golf that is. I ran into a friend of mine that I have not seen in a long time who told Evan to, “Kick your Dad’s butt!” Evan laughed and said “ok.”

He then proceeded to get a hole in one on the very first hole of his mini golf career. Of course being the proud Dad that I am I picked him up and started acting like he just won The Masters. I began professing that he was going to be the next Tiger Woods, minus all the adultery.

His next shot almost landed in the parking lot and he never again got close to a hole in one. It was awesome though. He had a great time. I had a great time. The ice cream afterwards was great. Then came the trip to Redbox for Rango and bed time.

This is where I began to realize just how lucky I am to have an amazing wife by my side. A full day of no one to help with a kid, no matter how good the day is, is exhausting. There is no one to turn to for help with answering the 500th question in a row. There is no one to just allow your brain to relax long enough for you to go to the bathroom in peace.

I allowed Evan to stay up until well past 10pm when he said he was ready to go to sleep. Finally some peace and quiet after a day of being asked more questions than Alex Trebek. The only problem was that there was no one in bed next to me.

I have become a huge wimp. I cannot sleep the night through without my wife next to me. There is something about feeling her body next to mine in bed that makes me relaxed. It is cliché I guess but that is what makes home feel like home to me.

So Sunday morning came and it was off the barber shop for a man’s hair cut! We stopped at the grocery store again because I forgot something (typical) and went back home for some backyard swimming! It was another long day of why this and why that until finally, Mommy’s home!

There is nothing like the relief of having your partner walk through the door and throwing your kid at them. I love my son, I love all my kids, but when my wife is away the house never runs the same. My brain grows tired, my eyes tend to cross, and my heart grows a little heavy.

All in all, boy’s day was a success. We golfed, went to the barber, watched movies, swam in the pool, and spent a lot of quality time just hanging out and farting. Seriously women that is a big thing for us guys!

Please be sure to search Facebook for What I Didn't Expect While She was Expecting, look for me on Twitter @erush520, and check out my podcast

Also, check out some great Dad related articles and much more at, follow him on Twitter @BruceSallan and search #DadChat for great tweets and articles.  Also be sure to join him every Thursday from 9-10pm (Est) for #DadChat live!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guest Post - Kevin Barry -

Below is a guest post from Kevin Barry, a father, blogger, and lover of beer and BBQ! Check it out and be sure to follow and like him on all his social media outlets!

Hello everyone! My name is Kevin Barry. I am a married father of a two daughters.  I work as a High School Teacher in Maryland and I started a new blog about a month ago with my brother and a few friends called Babies, Beer, and BBQ: A Blog for Dads.  Find us at

My oldest daughter is almost three years old and has reached the age that I can start teaching her some major life lessons and passed down to me from my parents. I decided it was time for my daughter to receive her first fishing pole. Going fishing was one of my favorite pastimes from my childhood.  I can vividly picture going fishing with my parents during the summer and I want to start to recreating some of those moments with my her.

When my daughter was handed her pole and tackle box you would have thought it was Christmas morning. She quickly ran to put on her shoes and declared she wanted to go outside and practice.  I attached a bobber and added a little weight and we worked on casting and pretended we were reeling in a big one.  If it was not time to eat dinner, she would have stayed outside for another thirty minutes.  

I knew my family vacation would put us in locations that would allow for me to take her fishing.  As we traveled north into Pennsylvania, I began to get excited about taking her out to the fishing pond at the campground we were going to be staying at.  I would have my camera ready to snap a photo and take video of her first time reeling in a fish.  Visions of my childhood flashed in my mind of all the big fishes that I had caught (many of which are much larger in size today than they were back then).  I had a feeling that our first trip was going to be a success.

When it was time, we walked over to the pond and before she dropped her first line, I helped her check the bobber and we baited the hook.  As this happened, I had a feeling of pure joy that I am sure many parents have when they see their children enjoying one of their favorites hobbies or activities.  For a good fifteen minutes she would cast and reel in her line, resulting in just a nibble or two by a lone fish.  She was excited regardless and smiling ear to ear, but then the attention span of a two year old started to waiver, and I knew it was time to go.  We packed up our gear and walked to our cabin and I would be lying if I said I was not a little disappointed she did not catch a fish.

Flash forward about five days and I decided it was time go to the reservoir near her grandparents house and try fishing again.  This time I wanted dig up for some fresh worms as I did as a child because in my mind this would guarantee the same success that I once had. It ended up taking me about 20 minutes or so to find two worms, but now we were set to bait the hook and she would cast her line.  As we left, my wife said “you know it will have taken you longer to find the worms than she will last fishing” but I just brushed this comment off because I knew it was going to be worth it when the first fish was caught.

Without sounding repetitive the events of our first time fishing happened again.  We did not catch anything other than some “rock” fishes as I called them, which snagged both worms and a hook in about eight minutes and grandpa found a crawfish that scared her half to death.  The big difference this time was I was not disappointed at the lack of fish that were caught, because I knew she had fun.  Every time a rock caught her line the bobber sank quickly and she screamed “LOOK THE BOBBER ITS UNDERWATER I THINK WE HAVE A FISH!!!" and during those moments I knew that I have a fishing companion for life (or at least until she is a teenager and it is not “cool” to be seen with her father).

I think we all search for experiences to share with our children that will allow us to teach them the lessons that we were taught when we were kids.  When my wife and I decided to start having children, we envisioned having boys.  I would teach them how to throw a baseball, the finer points of BBQ, change the oil on the car, and the list goes on.  But now, I have two daughters and even though they may not be interested in all of the things I had hoped to teach them, I am just as excited with the opportunity of teaching two pony tailed little girls how to bait a hook and all of the things I would have taught two little boys.

What life lessons are you excited to your children? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

Please stop by my blog and give it a read: Follow me on twitter @babiesbeerbbq and Facebook at Babies, Beer, BBQ.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Holiday with the Hillbillies

Evan's hand out the car window

Living in the part of the county I do, New Jersey, the Fourth of July usually means it’s time to head south for the beach. This year however we decided to go in the opposite direction, Upstate New York! The Catskill Mountains are just what this man and his family needed.

If you have never been in the area, this part of New York is as far opposite of Manhattan as you can get. To put it into perspective I am currently sitting an hour away from the “local” Wal*Mart! The nearest town has A stop light and the grocery store is the bakery, pharmacy, beer store, and gathering center.

I was unsure what it would be like celebrating a holiday that thrives on sun, salt water, and grilling in the middle of woods, but I was pleasantly surprised, and you might be too!

First off, having a proper BBQ requires 3 things; a grill (preferably charcoal), good company (preferably family and close friends), and a place to rest your head (preferably not a sidewalk). My toes do not require sand to feel relaxed. My nose does not need to smell coconut scented sun screen for me to feel patriotic. My eyes certainly don’t need to see overweight men in undersized bathing suits to celebrate our Nations birthday.

In this world of Social Media updates we tend to be more consumed with posting grand pictures of popular places then enjoying time with those who matter most. There might not be any MTV shows filmed here or pop songs written about it but that is what makes it what it is, peaceful.

For a good portion of our drives into the towns here we had no cell service. No ability to check Twitter (@erush520), hop on Facebook, or text our friends. Guess what? We all survived. In fact, we actually spent the time talking to each other and singing! What a novel idea, engaging in meaningful dialogue with those around you.

We went to a carnival, ate greasy food, drove high into the mountains, and saw some of Mother Nature’s most amazing work. While the smell of cow manure in the air is not the same as the smell of a good boardwalk pizza parlor, it is not necessarily worse.

Turns out I didn't even miss the obnoxious beach-goers, besides I had a whole new breed of people to stare at, hillbillies.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

I Got By With a Little Help From a Friend...

Now that the summer is finally upon us here in the North East my wife and I made the decision to buy a pool. We have a small yard and a small child so we decided to go with one of those blue "Easy Set" pools. It is only 3 ft high and 10 ft around but that is perfect for what we need.

Our yard slants down and to the left so the word Easy in the pool description is slightly misleading. There was a hole to be dug and leveling to be done, and my 4-year-old Evan was stoked to help. My initial thought was that this would be a pain in the a$$. The thought of digging and leveling a 10 ft round circle, in 90+ degrees with a 4 year old running around chased me to the fridge for a beer.

When the time finally came to get this project going I had an instantaneous change of heart and mind. While standing over the future spot of our pool I took a look over at Evan and noticed something amazing. He was looking at me and adjusting his stance to match mine. I would put my hand on my chin and he followed suit. Hands on hips, check. Hands in the air, check. Balancing on one foot to see if this was really happening, check.

I realized that he honestly just wanted to help his Dad, to be involved in something with me, just to be around me and there was no way I was going to turn that down! I grabbed an extra tape measure, piece of wood, and shovel and let him go to town. As I measured he measured. When I took a drink, of water not beer, so did he. If I wiped sweat from my brow so did he.

When the ground was finally ready and the pool was filling I could see a sense of pride in his eyes. He set the pool up. In reality he measured an unused piece of wood and barely put a hole in the ground; but in his eyes without his hard work that pool would not have water in it. And in this Dad's eyes, it never would have happened without my construction buddy

It made me sad as I began wondering how many times I had impatiently swatted he or his siblings away in a similar situation. How often do we as parents look at these moments for what they truly are, bonding time? Too often we are so on the go that all we are concerned with is the finish line and not the journey to get there. 

Sure this extra set of hands may have added thirty minutes to the total time to get the pool ready but in the end, who cares? What else was I going to do with that thirty minutes? Sit on the couch and watch a TV show? I am sure nothing as productive as creating a life long memory for two people.

Since the advent of VPN's and smart phones we are not only slaves to work, but now status updates, check-ins, and photo sharing as well. What will these people who we barely know anymore post about their day? What are they doing with their kids? 

The real question that should be asked is what am I doing with my kids? What have I missed that has been going on just over the top of my cell phone?

Please be sure to search Facebook for What I Didn't Expect While She was Expecting, look for me on Twitter @erush520, and check out my podcast

Also, check out some great Dad related articles and much more at, follow him on Twitter @BruceSallan and search #DadChat for great tweets and articles.  Also be sure to join him every Thursday from 9-10pm (Est) for #DadChat live!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Father / Son / Father time

How often do we get to sit and enjoy father/son time as both a father and a son? I got to experience this over the weekend and I am telling you, it is good for the soul.

This past Saturday was Evan’s fourth birthday and when I tell you he was bouncing off the walls, I may be underselling it a bit. My wife and I decorated the dining room Friday night so he would be surprised when he woke up the next morning. There were Batman pictures, Batman tablecloths, one of his gifts (the Bat Cave), and even a Batman birthday boy button strewn throughout the room.

When he woke up he came running down the hall and burst into our room. “Happy Birthday!!” we both half yelled and half sang to him. He jumped onto our bed and got birthday hugs and kisses from both of his groggy parents before running back out to go pee-pee and brush his teeth.

When he made his way down the stairs and into the dining room his eyes lit up. He wanted the button on immediately and then tore open the present. Before the wrapping paper was off he knew what it was and proclaimed that, “This is the best thing ever! Thank you so much!”

Shawna had to go into work for a few hours and no one else was home which gave me the opportunity to spend a couple of hours one on one with the birthday boy. We played Batman and Robin, rode scooters, watched a movie (Scooby Doo Meets WWE!), drank soda, and rough housed like we are not supposed to when Mommy is around.

By the time his guests had arrived he was all jacked up on soda, snacks, and the thought of more presents. More Batman toys, more cake, and more noise left me longing for a few quiet minutes. I snuck out back with my Dad to take a peek at my vegetable garden, light a cigar and drink a beer.

My father is neither a beer drinker nor a cigar smoker but on this occasion he did both. In fact, this was the first time we had a beer and a cigar together, ever. It may have only been 15 minutes or so before our location was compromised but that was a great 15 minutes.

I wrote in an earlier post that we need to learn to take time to be our parents' children and that is exactly what it felt like. Sitting there, sharing a cigar and drinking a beer on the back patio at my house made me feel like a kid again. Not that my Dad gave me booze and smokes when I was a kid or anything. It’s just that there is something about sitting with one of your parents that is comforting, relaxing, and memory inducing.

Eventually everyone made their way back home and it was back to just Evan, Shawna, and I. We went upstairs to get the little man into his jammers and suddenly I felt the need to talk to him one on one again. Evan and I laid on the bed belly to belly. We were face to face and I told him I was proud of him and that I loved him. I gave him a hug and a kiss. He made a fart sound in my face and rolled off.

I could not help but feel emotionally full. I had an opportunity to spend time one on one as a father and as a son with the two most important male figures in my life. The man who helped to mold me into who I am today: and the boy who I am molding into a man for tomorrow.

Please be sure to search Facebook for What I Didn't Expect While She was Expecting, look for me on Twitter @erush520, and check out my podcast

Also, check out some great Dad related articles and much more at, follow him on Twitter @BruceSallan and search #DadChat for great tweets and articles.  Also be sure to join him every Thursday from 9-10pm (Est) for #DadChat live!

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Marital aides and their hiding spots

You read that subject right. Come on, we are all adults here. Everyone has marital aides of some kind. Movies, magazines, things that go buzz in the night. No shame in that but where the hell do you hide them when they are not in use?

About five years ago my wife and I had gone out to the grocery store and left our then 6 year old son Jason in the hands of our 13 year old daughter Justine. This was nothing new, we had done this before. We were probably running to the grocery store or some other quick little errand.

As we were pulling back up to the apartment we could see Jay standing in the doorway with something in his hand. "What the hell is that?" I asked Shawna. Her face was priceless. Embarrassment, shock, fear, disgust, and laughter all mixed into one amazing reaction. "Oh my God Eric! He has a dildo in his hand!" She yelled. cried, and laughed to me.

"Holy S**t you are right!" I laughed.

There he was shaking around a fake purple penis while standing at the sliding glass doors in the front of our apartment. Before the car had stopped and was in park Shawna jumped out of her seat and ran in to grab it from him. 

When she got to him he asked if it was a sword and if she wanted to play with him. Mortified she took it from his hands and threw it into the bedroom. It is not exactly like it was kept on the floor or anything. It was in our bedroom, in our closet, inside a jewelry box.

The second time we had an instance similar to this happen it was free of any kids, but not of co-workers. We were moving out of the apartment we were in and into a house. The aides were all placed in a plastic chest of drawers type storage unit that we used to store extra things in from our bedroom. "Do not let any of your friends move this, it has the toys in it," my wife snarled at me. "No problem babe, I got this!" I shouted back.

I picked up said drawer unit and placed it in the back seat of my co-workers truck. There were four of us crammed into that truck for this particular trip. Bzzzzzzz!!!! Bzzzzzzz!!!! Bzzzzzzz!!!  We all looked at each other as if to say, "Dude, your phone is ringing. Answer it!" Quickly I realized that there was no phone call, text message, or Facebook update causing this buzzing.

"Hey man, what do you have in there a bomb?!?!" one of my friends joked.
"Or a vibrator," laughed another.

When I didn't laugh they immediately realized the latter was correct and burst into laughter. When we got to the new house to unload the "drawers of fun" as they had quickly been named, my wife was waiting there. 

"What's so funny?" she asked.
"Here take this," I replied and handed her the vibrating drawers.

It took her a few seconds to realize what was in there. When she did, her face turned fire engine red, started laughing, and sped off into the house. Luckily for us she has a great sense of humor and an incredibly small amount of shame so this just became a running joke between us all.

So where exactly is the best spot to hide your "unmentionables"? I can tell you a few places that aren't! Between the mattress and boxed spring? Too obvious Dad! In the underwear drawer? Found those magazines Pop-Pop! In a locked suitcase in the basement under an old desk? Valiant effort Mr. Davis, but not good enough!

Our current spot seems to be a winner to this point. Except of course for the time we fell asleep with it behind a pillow and forgot to put it back. This particular device is not in the shape of anything recognizable to a 10 year old so when he laid down in our bed to watch a movie the next day he was none the wiser. I couldn't help but laugh when I walked in and saw him laying there with this toy poking out from behind a pillow about eight-teen inches from his head.

I slyly walked over, grabbed the toy, and threw it into the closet. No harm no foul. We started wondering if this type of thing only ever happened to us. Has anyone had these types of mishaps? Did you ever accidentally or purposely find something of your parents? Please be sure to comment and let us know!

Please be sure to search Facebook for What I Didn't Expect While She was Expecting, look for me on Twitter @erush520, and check out my podcast

Also, check out some great Dad related articles and much more at, follow him on Twitter @BruceSallan and search #DadChat for great tweets and articles.  Also be sure to join him every Thursday from 9-10pm (Est) for #DadChat live!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

We were all knuckleheads when we were kids too.

I remember the exact moment that I realized I was quite the knucklehead when I was a kid. My wife and I were sitting with my parents and telling them what shenanigans Evan had been up to and they’d smile, laugh and say, “Not only does he look like you, but he acts just like you too.”

They told stories of my fights with my sister, broken knickknacks, and annoyingly long car rides chock full of questions. My wife and I shook our heads having realized that we are basically raising me. It is almost like Doc Brown pulled up in his Delorean, took us back to 1982, and is making us deal with all the nonsense I put my parents through.

There is one such story of my being a boob that stands out quite clearly. My parents had taken us to the local agricultural fair for a day of rides, games, and demolition derby. For my eight-year-old self I could not have planned a better day. There was nothing like an end of summer carnival to kick my obnoxiousness into full gear.

After a day of whining about wanting to go on more rides, play more games, and a strong inability to patiently wait for the derby to start it was finally time for dinner. For dinner I wanted snacks, ice cream, funnel cake, and anything else full of sugar I could find. Obviously my parents had other food options in mind.

Because of this disagreement I had made the declaration that I was not hungry and would not be eating. In my head I figured this would speed the night along and get me back onto the rides and into the games. While standing in line my parents had asked multiple times if I wanted anything. I staunchly replied, “Nope,” every time.

By the time we got to the front of the line I had probably been asked five to six times. My Dad ordered a pork roll sandwich, “Hmm… Pork roll sure does smell good,” I thought to myself.  This was the beginning of the end for that sandwich, and our night at the carnival.

The millisecond my Dad took a bite I hit him with, “Dad that looks good. Can I have it?” The first time I asked this question it was like lighting the fuse on a stick of dynamite. Each time I asked, the fuse got smaller. By the third or fourth time the dynamite stick exploded!

“*$&(&(@#^*&,” came spewing out of his mouth. The words that he yelled were muffled by pork roll and extreme disgust. His only other response was to throw said sandwich into the dirt and walk away. While this was probably not the best course of action, I now completely understand why this happened.

A few years back I ran into a similar incident with my son Jason, but on a smaller scale. We were home and I had decided to make myself lunch. It was going to be an epic lunch indeed, complete with a giant sandwich, pasta salad, and a nice tall glass of iced tea. “Jay,” I yelled, “do you want anything to eat?” “No,” he replied.

During the process of making this amazing lunch I had asked him several times if he wanted anything. He never wavered from his original “No,” answer. After 30 minutes or so of lunch prep I was ready to sit down and enjoy my masterpiece. 

“Wow,” he said, “that sandwich looks really good!”

I told him that I would make him one when I was done but that did not suit him. He began screaming, crying, and throwing an all-out fit over the lunch I had offered him many times. At some point during this nonsense I stood up, pushed the plate towards him, yelled some gibberish and walked out of the room.

After I had cooled down a bit I picked up the phone and called my Dad. “Dad,” I said, “I completely get it.” “Get what?” he asked. My answer was simple yet poignant. “Everything you ever did or said while I was growing up. I was a stunod many times and I am sorry.”

He had a response that any vindicated father would have after finally hearing these words. He laughed, not just a little giggle, but a full on belly laugh.

In times of stress, we as parents often find ourselves echoing the same words we loathed to hear. Is it possible that we did the same knucklehead things as kids? Could it be that the apple has not fallen far from the tree? Why is that damn tree so short?

Please be sure to search Facebook for What I Didn't Expect While She was Expecting and look for me on Twitter @erush520

Also, check out some great Dad related articles and much more at, follow him on Twitter @BruceSallan and search #DadChat for great tweets and articles.  Also be sure to join him every Thursday from 9-10pm (Est) for #DadChat live!

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Daughter's Senior Prom

Tonight was not what I was expecting. Had this happened prior to today and I had subconsciously denied myself from noticing it? Had my two little girls grown into beautiful women suddenly over night? That had to be it right?

There is no possible way that over the last school year these two girls went from the pig tailed, glasses wearing, arm and eye brow shaving little girls from the past into these girls I saw tonight... Right?

Tonight was the senior prom for the Phillipsburg High School class of 2014, and my two little girls were there. All day they had been prepping. Hair, makeup, and nails were being done. It felt like I was watching them get ready for their first day of high school. Only that happened almost 4 years ago.

I knew this was coming. I have been there for license tests, college applications, and scholarship forms. For Christ sakes their cap and gown pictures have been on my cubicle wall for almost 9 months now. So why are there tears hitting my keyboard along with my fingers?

These are not sorrowful tears. Not in the least bit. They are tears of accomplishment. Tears of pride. Tears of joy. Who am I kidding, they are tears of relief too!

I accomplished the almost unheard of by molding these two children into women at such a young age. Pride in who they have become. Joy in seeing them laughing and enjoying their final high school dance. Relief that they both had a better high school experience than I did.

Having a child in your freshman year of high school presents many problems. One of them comes years later, when you realize just how much you missed out on during those years. I went to my senior prom, however there was no large group of friends with me.

Working two jobs and raising a child makes extra-curricular activities less important and attainable. School friends are just that, friends in school. There are no weekend parties and road trips are minimal. So when proms come along there are no limo rides full of people to be had.

Knowing that my girls did not have anything that interfered with their ability to be kids has made me proudest of all. Living vicariously through them these last four years has helped soothe a troubled soul.

Personally, I would like to think they learned a thing or two from me along the way. How to parallel park a car, study for a big test, work hard to get what they want. But most importantly, I hope they learned that I am proud of them and that I love them.

I realize this isn't the end. Next Thursday is their graduation ceremony and I am certain there will be more tears shed, more memories made and looked back on. But for now, this proud father is anxiously awaiting the stories that will be told about their senior prom and desperately clinging to these last few days of their high school careers.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Participation Awards Create Murderers

Unless you are one of those people who live off the grid you have no doubt noticed a recent uptick in the number of young murderers lately. School shootings, movie theater rampages, mall attacks, elevator stabbings, and countless other horrific headlines flood our 24 hour news media.

I am 32 years old so it is not like I say “back in my day” that often but, back in my day this was almost unheard of. In fact, until the Columbine shooting I don’t remember ever hearing of something like this. From time to time there was an accidental shooting (think Beverly Hills 90210) or an attempted WWF move that went horribly wrong but never a shooting spree.

From where I am standing this increase, in part, can be attributed to an overabundance of participation awards. Today everyone gets an award for everything and no one gets told they need to work a little harder anymore. Let’s use Little League sports as an example.  When I was growing up there were two to three “levels” for each team, (e.g. PAL A, B & C.). There was a tryout period that lasted about a week and you were then split up based on your talent level.

During the year there were no mandates by the league stating that everyone had to have a turn to bat every inning.  We had winners and losers, first and last place, and All-Star games for those who earned it. Trophies were given out to the first, second, and third place teams and only the best players got MVP awards.

Guess what? We all survived. We all knew our weaknesses. We all learned how to take constructive criticism and use it to strive to better ourselves. Do you think there would there be stories of athletes staying in gyms after the lights were shut off if they were told everyone was equally talented?

In t-ball now everyone bats, everyone gets a single and everyone scores. Every DAMN inning! I went to watch my nephew play and noticed that even if the throw beat the runner to first they were still safe. “What the hell is that?” I asked one of the coaches.  “We are trying to teach the kids the fundamentals,” he replied. “Isn’t getting out a fundamental?” And the coach replied, “By fundamentals I meant having fun and teamwork.  It isn’t about winning or losing.”

What is more fundamental in life than winning and losing? You either get the job or you don’t. You either get accepted into Harvard or you go to community college. There is no shame in either and nothing but positives to be taken from them. Work harder at your job or harder in school and when the opportunity arises again you will have set yourself apart.

We have created a society that cares more about preventing our kids from feeling bad than it does about helping them realize where they need to focus their energy. These kids that end up shooting up a school or a movie theater almost always have a back story of rejection. Whether it is rejection from the opposite sex, society, or the popular group at school adolescents have been plagued by this forever, yet these stories didn’t always exist.

My last blog post was something I was really proud of. Almost all of those who read it had nice things to say about it. I sent it to a friend of mine who happens to be writer and former editor. He found so many things to improve upon he set up a phone call to go over them with me.

After we hung up I was down about it for a little bit. As the day went on I realized what he said was true: it wasn’t good enough. I took what he had told me, rewrote the parts we discussed and resubmitted it. I didn’t take the first plane out to LA and hunt him down. I didn’t go on a rampage and shoot people. Why? Because I didn’t get participation awards.

How hard would you have studied for Algebra If you knew you were going to get a passing grade regardless?

Please be sure to leave a comment, pro or con..

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Being a parent and a son...

I wanted to take brief respite from the somewhat poor attempt at humor that these posts are generally filled with and take time to discuss something that as parents we may not necessarily think about that often, we are children as well.  The first half of this calendar year I have seen people I grew up with, friends of mine from back in the day, lose a parent, two in the past 7 days and my heart breaks for them.  None of these friends of mine and I communicate on a daily basis anymore, not because of any arguments or things of that nature, just life.  Life has a tendency of taking your plans and your daily routines and shaking them up from time to time.  Growing up with the Smiths and Taylors when they moved away there was no Facebook, Instagram, email or cell phones to keep in touch with.  As kids we were never in the house to use them anyway, we were out making new friends to fill a void that was left by the old ones who had moved on in their new town or neighborhood as well.

Growing up my father worked long hours and is not really into sports that much so having a friend whose father was around to bring his blue bag of hard balls and drill line drives or shag pop ups with was golden.  Not to mention these kids had every new video game system when it came out so on a rainy day, playing frogger or pitfall or sonic the hedgehog was a God send.  Also, as we got a little older, I was introduced to my first large scale playboy collection : ).  My formative years were spent playing with these kids and around the man who I am referencing and to those who know who I am talking about I am truly sorry for your loss.  I can't pretend to be as close to you guys now as I was then but to say I have forgotten the summers spent playing on a highway that at the time was being built or swimming in a river, or playing fumble rumbles in a third floor finished attic would be a lie.

I recently connected with an old friend from my teenage years, a man that I worked long night shifts at a fast food chain with in the dead of summer, 110 degrees flipping burgers, making 18 inch tall ice cream cones for jerks that complained the first one was too small and collecting an absurd amount of beanie babies with, that is another story for another time.  Again, we were not the closest of friends but I can say that when he was working, the shift was better, the shift was lighter, you knew there would be fun and shenanigans going on and you knew his Mom would be around at some point. While he was older than me he didn't drive, his mother drove him every day, to and from work.  In a car that he clearly was allowed to put his stamp on.  I am pretty sure his mom did not want the latest stereo or the biggest speakers or the loudest bass but he did and that was enough for her.  She was an adopted mother to him on paper, but his real mother in heart. She was quick with her wit and on more than one occasion would shoot a look at her son that made me stand at attention.  She has moved on to a more peaceful place having battled two types of cancer and she will be missed greatly by those that knew her well, as well as those that just knew her a little...

My father was a hard worker and my mother was a stay at home Mom, money was tight growing up but we really didn't notice it on a day to day basis.  We were kids, we had toys, we had food and we went places.  Life was good, times were simple compared to now.  But what I did know, was that my mom's friend had a much bigger house than us and she was super cool.  She will be remembered for many things, her hatred of Christmas having been born on Christmas Eve and her love of all things Precious Moments.... oh and the fact that she will always be the one person who fed me a dog treat (hopefully the only person that is).  This story is rooted in my desire to be a giant pain in the ass.  My mom took me over to her best friends house to play with her kids and hang out and I remember seeing these snacks on the counter that we never had.  "These must be what people in big houses snack on," I had convinced myself.  So of course I was eyeballing them all day.  Finally she told me to go ahead and take one of the snacks and blah blah something something.  I had totally tuned her out after I heard go ahead and take one, turns out the rest of the sentence was, "and give them to the dog".  I ate it.  Big bite down in what eventually would be explained to me was a dog biscuit lol.  She was my Mom's confidant, her best friend, her defacto sister if you will.

Again, life changes your surroundings on you sometimes and people move, change school districts and life takes you away.  While I will never try to pass off her children as my best friends growing up, we were however connected.  Since the advent of social media we have connected several times, talked shop, talked family, talked kids, and unfortunately talked loss.  My mothers friend battled long and hard against cancer and ultimately lost the fight in the beginning of this year.  She, along with her children, had all found their way to the Carolinas and I had not seen them for quite some time.  A memorial was held here, in NJ, and her kids and their kids were there.  I was able to talk to them, connect, meet their children and share that dog treat story again.  It was an honor to know this woman and her family, she is known to my kids as Aunt and always will be.

So why so much talk of sorrow on this post?  I was thinking about this last night as I thought about all of these parents and how these children (even though they are in their 30's now) must be feeling and it brought on the realization that sometimes we need to really stop and take stock in who we are to everyone around us.  We get so caught up in being a parent, a sibling, an employee, a co-worker, a friend that we forget the one thing we were literally born to be, a son or daughter.  We sit and worry over and cry for our children, wishing we could help them, wishing we could carry them over the troubled times or at least hold them up as they traverse life that we forget that our parents are thinking the same thing about us.  It's hard to be a parent and a child, everyone does it at some point but it is difficult.  All the things we lose sleep over because of our kids we did, or are currently doing, to our parents.  While they may not be able to physically do the same things or have the desire to do them they still wiped our butts, tears, and blood when we needed them to.

Mortality is not an easy topic to deal with, it is not fun, it is not uplifting, it is nothing but certain.  I feel for these people, these friends, these acquaintances.  I cannot imagine what it feels like to be missing someone who was there for EVERYTHING from the moment you took your first breath.  I guess maybe what I am saying is that it is important to remember to hug your parents a little tighter from time to time, make time to talk to them, ensure them that your life is good, things are moving in the right direction, and you have not forgotten all the good they have done because one day you might not be able to.