Tuesday, February 20, 2024


Seems like every year I get pulled into coaching my son’s basketball team. And don’t get me wrong, I love it. It’s great to watch the team progress as we go through the season. I get into it, usually taking on little pet projects, working on something in particular with each kid individually while also working drills with the team.

But if I've learned anything through the years, it's that coaching kids takes p-a-t-i-e-n-c-e.

Deep breaths.

This year began like most of the others, as I come up with drills and teaching moments and prep with notes I will never use. No matter how prepared I am, it never fails. It all falls apart. 

My wife, a second-grade teacher, gets this amused look on her face when I get home after an hour of coaching, flop down in the chair and exclaim how the kids just won’t listen to me.

But I’m not teacher. I’m only a man trying to organize a decent after-game snack schedule.

Again, each year I start with high hopes. Take for instance, my gameday lineup. Look at that. All neat, with little notes and observations, things to work on.

Fast forward to last week. See? See the frantic scribble of a man at the end of his rope. This is the scrawl of someone hoping people show up. Because that’s another thing. All the kids want to play, but they can’t drive. So you never know just who is going to show up. 

There were times--okay lots of times--during the year, when it all came together. I’d look at their faces, brimming with confidence, having soaked up all my lessons I’d drilled into their heads, and I'd think hey, it's working. It's really working. 

I’d taught them how to move without the ball, how to box out and rebound, keys to the two/three defense. I'd instilled the discipline of staying in your spot. The results were beautiful. Defensive stops. Rebounds. We were off and running.

Other times, I’d stand to the side, bewildered, the whistle dangling from my lips as I watched a bunch of kids who'd completely ignored any and everything I’d tried to teach them. They’d bicker and argue and crowd together and clamor for the ball. And I’d wonder what in the world I was doing wrong.

Such is how it goes, I guess.

Each year brings it’s own problems. Years five and six was simply herding cats. Why did you take your shoes off? There was no hope, only survival. Years seven and eight was the attention span. Stop dribbling. Stop, okay please stop dribbling. 

But this year, it was all attitude. Lot's and lot's of attitude. One minute, things were going swimmingly, the next time down the court, it was nearly a street fight. I’d watch the clock, wondering if I should just let them have at it or try to actually coach. Then gameday would come and I’d do my best to put them in a position to have some fun.

And to my surprise, they did. Everyone made strides. Everyone mostly enjoyed themselves. And as the final buzzer went off on Saturday, I breathed a sigh of relief. It was over. I’d survived.

But now, well, I find myself thinking how I sort of miss those guys.

Thursday, October 19, 2023

It's Not Easy Being the Prince

In the never ending world of Disney that is my three-year old’s life, it can be difficult to keep track of all the characters I’m supposed to play. From villain to hero, be it animal or, well, I've even played a tree, I do my best with the roll I'm assigned. But usually I'm a prince. 

Only it's not what I had in mind...

At 48, being royal can be taxing. Ideally, it would mean a life of luxury. At least a castle. And while I do have the castle, (in the basement, it’s pink and built out of cardboard), things are not quite as charming as I'd imagined. In truth, it can be a bit grueling, and I almost long for the days of pirates, swords, and football. 

With this being the second child, I thought I’d be more… prepared? I’m not, but a am much older now, and the other kid was a boy and so things—trucks, sports, explosions—came naturally. Not this time. Now, everything is pink, and there’s more role playing, whether I’m ready or not.

In the mornings, usually before I've had even a whiff of coffee, we’re reenacting scenes. If I don’t have my lines pat, there's trouble on the set. Once we're in the car, it's more of the same. I'm not ashamed to admit that the other day I read two pages of The Little Mermaid while at a stoplight.

And still, my knowledge of these fairy lands remains unsatisfactory. What little I do know is taxed at every turn. My inflections and voices are under razor sharp scrutiny and I have to be repeatedly corrected. No, Daddy, not like thaaaat. 

Depending on her mood, diva or devil, I can bring things to a halt with one slip of the tongue. Call Ariel Aurora and oh boy, pay the price.

My meager talents aren't limited to royalty. At times, I have to play the heel as well. I’m the beast. I’m Gaston. I'm King Triton and I’m Hans. Sometimes, I'm mere livestock (which does wonders for my knees).

Now, it's not always so crucial. Sometimes, I'm hilarious. Most of the time is good clean fun. Morning. Day. Evening. Repeat. 

But my hard work is paying off. The other night at dinner, Mom sat down at the table while daughter and I were midway through one of our fairytale skits. Upon seeing her, our princess turned to her mother, AKA The Favorite, AKA Numero Uno, AKA The Head Honcho, and politely asked, “Can you go back in the kitchen?”

My wife and I exchanged looks of astonishment, before my wife cocked her brow and backed away, no questions asked. She had like a million other fires she needed to put out anyway, so she was more than okay with taking a free moment when offered. A little smirk my way as she took off. "Sure, I’ll give you two some time.”

With the matter settled, my little princess turned to me and batted her eyes. “Now, you will be Gaston.”

Things could be worse…


Tuesday, June 13, 2023

No Regrets


Sometimes, in the Groundhog Day repetition that is parenting with a toddler, when we do the same things over and over again and one day blurs into the next, middle age comes creeping into my thoughts and I start to wish I’d done more with my past. Be it travel, or work, or wishing I had a do-over for all the dumb mistakes of my youth, I don’t have many regrets but every now and then I find myself wondering what I could have done differently. 

But those thoughts are fleeting, and as it is, I find my happiest moments are in or around my little house on my little patch of land in my little town.

The other day I was in my backyard with Bella, my two year-old daughter. We’re playing in the pallet house and she wants to do my hair. Only there are rules in place and so I have to crawl out of the house and then return so that I can knock before coming in and make a proper entrance. 

Oh, uh, right. 

I do as I'm told. This time I knock and she welcomes me inside. There’s a toy sink with actual running water wedged into a corner. I’m instructed to sit against the wall. A siren wails in the distance, somewhere outside these magical walls, as she sets her hands in the water—probably filled with mosquito larvae and who knows what else—cupping them as she carries the water to my head and splashes my hair with it.

“Beautiful,” she murmurs, wiping down the sides of my face.

“Thank you,” I say, water dripping onto my shirt, kind of looking around. She does this again, maybe four or five more times. Then uses a toy set of pliers to cut my hair. She's fully focused on her task and takes time and care to do the job right. 

“Does it really look good?” I ask, as she drops the pliers and starts to clean up. 

Bella looks up from the sink and regards me with big blue eyes. A small nod. “Definitely.”

And that’s it. I don’t need to go anywhere. I’m good here, hunched over in this make believe bug infested pallet shed hair salon, with this sweet little stylist who hands our compliments like candy.


Wednesday, February 22, 2023

Bella and the Bad Guys

My two year-old daughter is sweet and charming and a complete goofball most of the time. She bumbles around the house clad in pink, her hair in pigtails. She's a bundle of joy in her light up boots, as she rides her little tricycle up and down the street, taking everything in. It's such a fun age, watching her play in the sandbox or discover new adventures. But I’ve noticed something else about my sweet little girl.

She likes the bad guys.

Whether we’re reading books or watching cartoons, or even telling stories, she’ll make me go back to the naughty part. The other day we were reading three little pigs. You think she was worried about those silly pigs? Nope. It was all about the wolf.

It all started back around Christmas. She was watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and couldn't get enough of the Abominable Snow Monster. I'd been worried she would be afraid of the beast but instead she only wanted to watch the scenes with him in it. She loved him so much we even got her a little stuffed animal, which she cuddled and cared for as though it were a baby doll.

And then we noticed a trend...

The wolf. The Grinch. The Gruffalo. That boy sitting in the corner in Timeout. If it’s hairy or spikey, or makes terrible decisions, count her in. No matter what the situation, if she has to pick between Clark Kent and his arch enemies, she’s picking those three lunatics in black.

Maybe she likes a challenge, or enjoys the turning point in a story, but something about her giggle, they way her eyes light up when the villain gets the upper hand, it makes me wonder what kind of company she's going to keep as a teenager. 

Then again, I think it’s commendable, how my daughter sees through a monster's scaly exterior to find the good inside. These are trying times, when everyone could use a friend. So hey, if she’s willing to take on a project, help a brute find his shine, who am I to tell otherwise?

But where does it end? Measuring for curtains at the Death Star? Finding ACME discount codes for Wile E. Coyote? And back to that teenager thing. At this rate, I fully expect her to leave the house on the back of a motorcycle.