Monday, November 23, 2009

Ropes course, huh?

     Thought this was going to be just another Monday morning, didja?  Not even close.  The 6th and 7th graders, and a bunch of us parent taxi drivers, loaded up and headed south to San Francisco.  Ended up where Geary Street meets the Pacific Ocean.  The Fort Miley Ropes Course Facilities.  Daunting.
     A thick forest overlooking the blue sea:  ladders, zip lines,  helmets and harnesses for all.  After the opening circle of stretching and encouragement for what was yet to come,  the 45 of us split into 4 groups, each standing below a gut wrenching vista above:  our destiny.
     I know my daughter to be a beautiful singer, dancer, and artist, with very solid emotional skills and all the trappings of tranquility, maturity, and responsibility that a 12 year old could possibly possess.  And when it comes to the world of physical activities, I again know where she stands.  The fact that she had climbed about 20' up a ladder and then onto some metal pins hammered into an 80' Monterey Pine tree, made me proud beyond belief, of the courage she had mustered up.  And surprised I wasn't, when she suddenly froze in terror realizing to where that courage had elevated her.  She was really stuck and it appeared she had no way down.  Unfortunately, the young man belaying her, was inexperienced, and he didn't know how to deal with this.  He did nothing,  extended life to Laurel's fear that in fact, she was on her own, with no one to help her down.
     Finally, Shane, another ropes course leader, began yelling at the inexperienced belayer, instructing him on how to help Laurel down.  After what seemed an eternity, she hit terra firma, wrestled her way out of the harness, bee lined for the ocean, swearing never to be seen by her classmates again.
     It is never easy to tell someone, convinced in this particular tainted moment that they are terrible at everything they do, that being afraid of heights really is no big deal.  It doesn't seem to help if you are her dad, yourself afraid of heights, and envious that she just climbed higher into a tree than you ever would go.  I honestly think, it just took being with Laurel, my arm around her, telling her how wonderful she is, and then for her friends to come to her and love her up.  It really is not important that we as parents fix all the problems and challenges we come up against.  We need to be there to listen and comfort as best we can. Because, after not too long a time of this very traumatic moment, Laurel did indeed make it back to her classmates.  And to the ropes course.  

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Cool Dad? Or Fool Dad?

     You all know what night this is, right?  There's a New Moon out tonight and it's not the one in the starry starry sky.  Vampires and werewolves and gore, oh my!
     The movie, "New Moon", second in the Twilight series, premiers across the country tonight at midnight.  My 12 year-old daughter and her friends wanted to go.  So they asked, totally expecting an "are you out of your mind, it's a school night" reply.  But no.  For some strange reason, parents of two of Laurel's girlfriends said yes.  So did I.  I even volunteered to drive them there at 10:45 pm, go home and read a bit, or sleep some, before returning to the theater to pick them up.  All the while somehow taking care of my 8 year old, Sage.  Do I let him stay up and run the taxi service with me?  Splitting all tips?  Or do I put him to bed and wake him up for the transporting?  I went to a neighbor for the first delivery.  Naim will come to the house and hang here, with Sage sleeping, while I'm gone for the 15 minute shuttle.  As for the pick-up at 2 am.......I guess I am just going to have to wrap Sage up in a blanket, burrito style, and take him with me for an early morning excursion.
     So the question I cool dad as the 3 girls would like to believe, for letting them go in the first place.  Driving them in the 2nd?  Or, as I am trying to wake them tomorrow morning for school at 7:15 am (showers, getting dressed, breakfast), preparing them to function in school with their teachers surely knowing what has happened tonight, will I find myself wearing the honor as fool dad?  Only time, a couple buckets of popcorn, and a very early alarm clock will tell.
     It's gonna be a long night. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

Estne volumen in toga, an solum tibi libet me videre?

It's been over 35 years since I took latin.  High school!  And I don't even know enough to get into trouble.  But after a (typically) long day starting with making breakfast and lunches, and ending with cooking dinner, it was time to tutor 12 year old Laurel in her Latin language research paper.  It's surprising what roles you are about to take on when you sign up for parenting.  So a word to the wise......get ready to answer up to all questions mathematics, grammar, science, geology, etc. 
Deus vobiscum.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Soccer 2009

Kids Soccer.  Just when you think you can easily manage an entire's time for the year end tournament to begin.  Sage plays in the under 10 (years) league.  They had a good regular season, but absolutely excelled in the first day of the playoffs.  They won both games, shutouts, 2-0.  That seeded them #1, and they were set to go in today's first round.  Equally matched by the opposition, the game ended 0-0.  1st overtime period :  0-0.  2nd overtime period: 0-0. 3rd overtime period: 0-0.  4th sudden death overtime period: 0-1.  Our team lost.  It was the longest playoff game in the history of the West Marin Youth Soccer League.  Some of the players, having played their sweet little hearts out, didn't want to play in the next game, for 3rd and 4th places.  Such sad little faces.  And nobody forced them to play.  But after a trip to the trophy table.......they seemed revived.  Walking home with a trophy, even a 4th place one, seemed to make it all worth it.  I mean, there were other teams that didn't even make it to the playoffs.  Our boys and girls have a lot to be proud of.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Halloween, the sugar fairy and the lost soccer ball.

Do you love it?  Hate it?  Or both?  Seems like a lot of parents have a real panic attack about all the sugar their kids are about to bring home on Halloween night.  They seem genuinely, and rightfully, concerned about the future of their kids' dental bills, and they miss out on the crazy fun that dressing up and trick or treating brings. I love that night.  Every year I don my long black rock star wig, a bright red turbin that I got in trade for a wrist watch in Rajastan, India, and paint my face to look something between an Indian sadhu and an African tribal warrior.  And then I slip into my faded blue Oshkosh overalls.  Gotta be comfortable.

After a couple hours of the costume parade and the door to door trick or treating with his buddies, Sage and I return home.  He is exhausted.  As am I. Then he spills out of his pillow case of about 7 pounds of bite size candy.  That's a LOT of candy.  But Sage is pretty generous.  He makes a small mound for me, complete with my favorites, Reeses peanut butter cups, and Smarties.  But that still leaves far too much candy for any one child  to have to self regulate.  Even with parental help.  What's a parent to do?
Years ago, I discovered The Sugar Fairy.  I am talking about the fairy who takes all candy offerings from little boys and girls at Halloween and Easter, and gives this candy to the children of the world that were not so fortunate to be recipients of such.  And of course there is a wonderful gift from the Sugar fairy to the child who makes the offering.

This year Sage offered a LOT of candy and was rightly rewarded for it.  A brand new (class 4) soccer ball.  I absolutely thought Sage was going to be blown away with the ball.  But he wasn't.  He came into my bed and didn't even mention what he had found in the place where he had left his offering.  So I asked him, "what did the Sugar Fairy leave this year?"  "Nothing.  YOU left me a soccer ball.  But I don't want it because the Sugar Fairy isn't real".  His sad and disgusted look stilled me. What was I going to do?
I tried squirming out of the fact that it was me that brought the ball, but Sage knew it was me.  So I tried the approach of "Santa's helpers":  that in reality Santa can't really get to all the homes in one night, so he bestows the honor on some of us to be Santa's Helpers.  And that is really the same as Santa bringing the gift.  But Sage wasn't buying this either.  So, for a while, I let it go.  Then, about half an hour later, Sage became really sad and started to cry.  I asked him why and he told me it was because  he now knew the Sugar Fairy wasn't real.  Yet another child fantasy dashed.  Innocence lost.  At this point there was much I could think of doing.  So nothing did I.
Next, I went on a bike ride.  Time for me to let it all go.  About an hour into my ride, I got a phone call from Sage.  "Hi dad.  You know how sad I was when you left the house?  Well, I believe the Sugar Fairy is real and I'm not sad now.  Bye."  Okay.  So what happened in this hour?  I asked Laurel, my 12 year old.  "Sage started playing with his new soccer ball and just started getting happy.  That all that happened."

So, for this year, the candy has been offered away to the Sugar Fairy, there won't be many worries about cavities, and the Sugar Fairy still holds a prominent place in my youngest child's life.
And then there is the story of the soccer ball.  Three days after receiving the ball, it was gone.  Just like that.  We have a yard that is enclosed by either a wooden fence or a hedge.  Sage and his friend Duncan were kicking it around, then came into the house, and next morning it was gone.  Such a story to get the ball into Sage's life, and then so quickly gone.
Another 3 days have passed and today I found out our 10 year old neighbor had found the ball outside our yard and took it to his soccer game yesterday and gave it away.  His dad says he will replace it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Comb On!

The middle school didn't let my daughter back in to her class today, because they found a dead nit in her hair.  They didn't find a single louse in her hair, not even a living nit.  Just a dead one.  And because the school has a no-nit policy, we were directed off campus with the task of making sure not one living or dead parasite will be in her hair when we return.  So after coffee and coffee cake with my partner at one of the local cafes in Fairfax, I spent no less than 4 hours nit-combing and nit-picking in Laurel's hair.  And I'll tell daughter's hair is clean, baby.  Real clean.  We are going to school  tomorrow morning at 8:15 and gonna waltz right into that little inspection room off the administration office and hold our heads high as they try and find one live or one dead nit on my daughter's head.  It ain't gonna happen.  They don't exist.  They better not.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Those lousy..........

I wrote a chapter in my book about one of the most challenging aspects of parenting:  teething.  When teething is not going well, life can be miserable.  I have now found something else that has an immediate affect on the direction of my day.  Not one to complain......but I've been a little bit grumpy today.
For the second time in the last 8 days, my daughter-(and almost her entire middle school population of girls)-have been sent home with lice.

That basically results in laundering the entire house of soft material.  Linens, blankets, pillow cases, clothes, throw rugs, sleeping bags, hats.  Anything that has come into contact with the child.  So that means that last Tuesday and today, I did about 8 loads of laundry.  Each day.  AND I vacuumed the entire house at least twice.  Each day.  And then......I shaved my son's head. I would have shaved mine also, except I am bald.  (But I am continually checking my eyebrows).  So, after giving my daughter a 150 proof-grain alcohol shampoo to burn up any little critters trying to stow away in her long blond hair,  my daughter is now off to bed, hair drenched in pure virgin olive oil and wrapped in a plastic bag.  Grain alcohol and olive oil.  Once your kids hit middle school, keep some extra in the pantry.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Date Night

Wow.  For me this is a big thing.  Date night on a school night!  It feels safe now to have my 12 year old daughter and my 8 year old son staying home alone for a couple of early evening hours while I go out for dinner with my girlfriend in the middle of the week.  Is anyone out there wondering just what is the right age to leave your kids home alone? 

My daughter.....a football player?

My daughter, Laurel, is almost all girl.  12 years old and loves her girlfriends, music, facebook, reading, Gossip Girl, make-up, dancing,  the Twilight series.  But today I am going to watch her play in her very first ever flag football game!  I am so proud of her.  (Of course this is me,the co-captain of my high school football team, talking).  I am just happy she is getting out there and using her body and agility and team spirit.  Goooooo Laurel.