Thursday, April 20, 2017

Laces Out

Somewhere along the way, my four-year-old son developed a shoe fetish.

It started with laces. See, all the older kids down the street have shoes with laces, so well, Simon wanted laces. Never mind that he can’t tie them up (he has me for that), or that they’re a size too big and every time he starts to run I picture him smacking his face on the street, all the cool kids are doing it so he needed to get on board.

We have a pair of hand-me-downs “lace shoes” from his cousin, and well, my kid made a compelling argument as to why he should have them. So for a week he’s worn these boats around the house, stopping every six to eight steps so that I can alternately tie his shoes.

Then he wanted his old shoes, back, the sandal types from last summer. So he crammed his foot into those. After that he wore his water shoes to school. Then his Ninja Turtle shoes because they light up. My kid's like the Kanye of shoes, scoping out anyone who walks by, checking out their gear, seeing what kind of kicks they’re rocking. This from a kid who demanded to be barefoot his first three years.  

But it’s not about the shoes. It’s that he wants to grow up. And it’s killing me.

He watches these older kids, cruising up the street, on their bikes, right outside of the house. Then he runs in and puts his little bumblebee helmet on and races off on his training wheels to catch them. I chase after him, wishing the kids would stop and talk to him. But he’s unperturbed. He’s determined. They ignore him and he just pedals harder.

You’ve got to admire that kind of persistence. 

Friday, April 7, 2017

Healthy Kids and Conversations

We’ve hit that stage where you never quite know what our kid is going to say or how he's going to say it. One minute he's talking about the pros and cons of purchasing a Blu Ray player and the next minute he's boggled at how in the wold a bunny can hide Easter eggs. 

Funnier still is watching his adult-like gestures while having the most kid conversations.

Speaking of conversations, yesterday, we were riding our bikes in the basement—I’m clocking some miles these days, one circle at a time in our unfinished 1,500-square foot basement—when he motioned for me to pull over.

I did as I was told and he waved me closer. “Come here, Daddy. Let’s have a conversation about our bikes.”

He sat back, not unlike a traffic cop, looking over my bike. “You’re bike has two wheels, mine has four,” he said, looking down to his training wheels. “That means my bike is faster.”

Or the other night when he bonked his head on his bed frame and popped right up, as though he knew we were worried about him.  “I’m okay,” he announced. “I have a special head.”

He does have a special head. He does keep me cracking up. And not only is he funny as heck, he’s strong willed, which is a nice way of calling him stubborn as a mule. 

Last weekend we joined some friends for the Healthy Kids Running Series, which is basically a footrace for kids. Both my wife and I figured he’d be better suited for this kind of thing next year, but once he heard “race” he was all over it.

Our kid is still a napper. It’s phasing out, but without an hour or so of shuteye to knock the edge off, you'll find yourself dealing with Damien from The Omen. We didn’t. At 2:30, thumb in mouth, we headed over to the park. 

The yawns were deep, engulfing things by the time we eased into the parking lot and made our way to the registration. We were early, and they were still lining the field with cones. By then, little Usain Bolt’s eye lids were getting heavier by the breath. Sure enough, by race time, he looked like this:

My mother-in-law thought he might see the other kids lining up and follow. But again, back to that mule thing. But he rallied, and just barely. My wife got him up to the starting line, looking a little Weekend At Bernie's-ish and swaying some by that point. And I almost pulled the plug. 

I felt like I was pushing him. When hell, if he wanted to plop back down and have another look at the sky, that was just fine by me. But he didn't. The whistle sounded and off they went. All but one. 

At some point he got the memo. And I've never felt so bad and been so proud as he finally got it in gear and finished dead last, but first in my heart. He finished. And I couldn’t have cared less where he placed. And we left, and went home and he picked up his sword and fought some trees. It was great. 

Maybe it’s because I was never involved in sports until I was nine or ten and it was my idea, but I don’t feel the need to make him do organized activities. He’s four after all, which to me means he should be doing this:

Healthy Kids is great. And I think he'll enjoy it more in a few years, but if he doesn't, that’s great too. Every one is different. And enjoys different things. 

My kid has a special head after all. He enjoys having “conversations”

Friday, March 10, 2017

Hey Poop! Greetings from a Four Year-Old

The four-year-old is often described as bossy and argumentative, who often tests your boundaries with unacceptable behavior…The child intentionally uses language that is upsetting to the parent. 

Try not to overreact.

"Hey Poop," my son deadpans in the morning. "Daddy's a poop!" he shouts when I won't cave to his demands for a late night snack. "Goodnight poop," he murmurs just before bed. 

Endearing, isn’t it? And completely normal if I’m to believe the doctor’s office.

The only problem here is that instructing me not to overreact is like telling a bear to roller skate. Now, you might be thinking, I saw a bear on TV roller skate once, they can be trained. But you’d be missing the point.

My wife and I are under the delusion think that maybe since our son can’t say poop at school (apparently, they are overreacting), he’s just getting his fix at home. In those few hours between getting home and going to bed. I mean, there’s a lot of missed “poop calling” opportunities in any given day. And besides, it's mostly just Dad getting uh, pooped on. 

Well, and that nice cashier at Lowe’s. 

Maybe our neighbor.

The UPS guy. 

The plummer. But you can't really blame him there.

The way I see it, it's a term of endearment. A nickname. And even my wife puts up with it. And she never overreacts. 

So I thought.

Lately, I’ve noticed something about her and this kid of ours. Normally a rational woman—my wife is a teacher, a molder of young minds, she has a degree in children’s studies and years of experience dealing with the deviancy inner workings of young minds. And yet I've seen her completely abandon everything she's learned when it involves our son. 

A mother to the core, she looks at our kid and sees the cutest, sweetest, most thoughtful human being in the world. Like the other night, our thoughtful son mooned me and she lauded his flexibility.

And that's fine. I'm glad she's got his back. And I get what the doctor’s office is saying. If we make a big deal out of of poop talk It only makes it that much more tempting. And he could be saying worse, you know?

The flip side is that I’m a human punching bag. My son calls me poop. Or sometimes pee. I kiss him and the first thing he does is wipe his cheek. And I while I've spent a few hundred words making it sound like he’s a monster, he’s not. He is sweet. He’s awfully cute. And he can be thoughtful, in a boy and his father type of way.

Yesterday. I was outside trying to fix his bamboo tee pee (Dad you said pee!). We’d just returned from a walk and it was nice out and we'd had a good time together when he had to go, you know, poop. So he was in the bathroom, taking care of business when, from the open window I hear,


“Yes bud?”

“I love you.”

My kid, up there pooping, felt the need to tell me he loved me. It was pretty special...

Monday, February 27, 2017

Go Fly A Kite

That’s what I did. Me and my son, we took off to a field up the street from our house. And while this might sound like nothing special, certainly nothing to write a blog about. It was. It was remarkable. 

No really, it was.

For one, he was in a great mood, patient, and ready to listen. And just as importantly, so was I. I made a point to talk to him and explain what we were doing. And when a soft breeze picked up to a gust and sent that fighter jet kite up in the sky, it was perfect.

I wasn’t expecting it to work out so well. As a parent, many—maybe most—ideas are picture perfect in our heads but not in execution. So very many times I’ve had the biggest, best idea, picturing it in that grainy footage that is my own childhood memories, only to have it crash and burn.

It never had a chance in the first place, because it was competing with nostalgia.

But this kite. That sucker just hung up in the sky, like something out of a pharmaceutical commercial. I handed the spool of string to my kid, slow and cautious at first, then realizing he had things under control I actually sat back, hands off and lying on the grass while he did the flying. I couldn’t have smiled harder. Really. It reminded me of this day...

Again, I know this day wasn't historic. But it was. Even when after a while he got bored with it and took off his rubber boots and went running down the field. I wound up the string and chased after him. We played games involving a soccer net, no ball, and two chairs. And it was perfect. I would post pictures, but you know what, I didn’t have my phone.

Like I said, it was perfect. 

Friday, January 27, 2017

Kindle Scout

Hey guys, I'm not big on self promotion, but I wrote a book and launched a Kindle Scout campaign. Please check it out if you have time, and if you like what you read, please nominate!
This is a story I started writing over a year ago. I quit several times, thinking, what am I doing? I can't write about that? From a teenage girl's perspective. But I kept hearing her voice in my head, so I kept on writing. This is the result. 

Anyway, here's the blurb, and here's the link.

After her mother’s death, sixteen-year-old Chloe Vanderbrooke is picking up the pieces and moving in with her Uncle Robbie and his wife, Glenda. Left cynical and self-destructive, she fully expects life to suck, but she’s hardly prepared for it to unravel completely.

It begins when Glenda’s younger brother, Andrew, arrives. With his laid-back smile and easy going charm, Andrew seems much younger than twenty-eight. He’s fun, flirty, and Chloe is thrilled to talk to someone who offers more to the conversation than the dreaded, “Are you okay?” But when he kisses her, it’s all wrong. 

After the kiss, Andrew isn't so charming, but sketchy. He lurks around the house, stalks her at school, but it isn’t until Chloe finally confronts him that she finds out just what kind of monster he is. Her aunt and uncle are too absorbed with their own crumbling marriage to notice that Chloe’s skipping school, avoiding dinner, and even contemplating suicide.

Chloe knows she should tell someone about the rape. But that person is gone. Not only that, she’s ashamed of the kiss, tormented by victimhood, and struggling to keep her counselor, teachers, and her friends in the dark. What she really wants is revenge. Fueled by a rage that’s been simmering since her mother’s death, Chloe discovers that Andrew is not the only one capable of violence.  


Monday, January 9, 2017


I’ve got this weird wallet in my back pocket. It’s bulky, synthetic leather, the kind of thing you'd give to a kid along with expired cards and old driver’s licenses because he keeps going through your wallet. 

Wait that’s right. I traded my wallet.

Somehow, over a snowed-in weekend of playing in the yard and playing in the house, my son managed to convince me to trade my wallet for the aforementioned pleather wallet he got for Christmas.

“I like yours, Daddy.”

My old wallet, six or seven, maybe even ten years old, was in fact, due to be replaced. But I never saw this coming--getting duped by a kid still two weeks shy of his fourth birthday. I found him standing on a chair at my dresser, rifling through my credit cards. (This is becoming more and more common as of late, these little nest of treasures popping up around the house. A spoon maybe, with some paperclips, my social security card, a shoe lace). Fearing that he’d clean me out, that I'd go to pay bills and find myself with nothing but hotel key and a swiped-out Panera Bread card, I asked if he wanted to swap wallets.

Nothing permanent, just you know, what else was there to do? It was ten degrees outside, and maybe my mind was still jarred from all the cold. But when my son’s eyes went wide. He started up with that flashdance hopping, Yes, yes, yes!. Now well, here I am, typing out this post while sitting lopsided, a big fat wad of awkward in my back pocket.

The kid is good. And I know where he gets it. I'm told his mom once nearly convinced an uncle to give her his pet cat. And not just that, the kid is immune to the usual trade back tricks. I tried everything, pretending I got the better end of the deal, looking over the new wallet, “Man, this sure is a cool wallet. Nice and shiny and brand new. I’m sure glad I got rid of that worn out, ratty old thing.”

He only stared down at my wallet in his hands, nothing but pleasure in his eyes. 

“Yeah, me too.”