Diary Entry from a Junior High Dad

Dear Diary,

Junior high sucks so far. First of all, why do the hallways of the school smell like teen spirit, angst, armpit, elbows and toes, and Axe? Every time I walk into a junior high school, I wonder how the custodians are going to clear the building of that smell. Do they open all of the doors and windows to the school for an hour before school starts and for an hour after school ends?

Nope. That odor is in the paint. Yup, definitely in the paint.

Like seriously, what is going on here?! First of all, my loving, innocent child is now doing everything to not noticeably be my child.

Attitude

She rolls her eyes at me;

she sucks her teeth at me;

she is constantly mumbling under her breath after I tell her to do the smallest task;

and, she has become a parenting guru — often stating how other parents “do not treat their children this way.”

This child is literally walking around my house as if I don’t pay for shit – like I am not her lifeline – like I am only her landlord, and she is my tenant. She barely looks up at her phone when discussing anything with us.

Cell Phone

Yes, the phone: The social connection with the virtual outside world that is ironically keeping her from physically connecting with the actual outside world. It is like pulling teeth to get her to part with that thing.

When an actual person talks to her, like, I don’t know, her mother and me; she stays fixated on the phone, smiling. The only time I get a response is when she looks up at me — usually with a scowl.

Screw it, she should move out. That will show her.

Shit. That is illegal.

Wait. Is it?

Chores

The chores are always half-assed completed. For example:

“Hey, can you put this in the garbage in the kitchen for me?”

(looks up from her phone, the one I pay for, sucks teeth) “Fine. Whatever.”

“Hey, thanks.”

(inaudible mumble)

Where do I find that item that was supposed to be in the garbage? Oh look, it is on the damn counter!

Next to the garbage can.

She’s trying to kill me.

Yup, that’s it. She is trying to kill me. She wants my blood pressure to go through the roof. She is trying to make me have a cardiac arrest. That has to be it – because there is no viable reason why she would be doing this to me, right?

Wait.

Money

There is a positive. My child is sweet to me when she wants money. Yup, money is definitely a motivator. I can get her to do a lot of chores for a dollar.

But she wants a $10 bill? Oh, hell, no!

Ope, there we go. I am the biggest asshole in the world again. I can hear her saying it under her breath.

And really? The entire world? All the people in this world, and I am the biggest asshole?

On second thought, maybe she is right, but that is not the point.

Holy shit, we are not even halfway through the year!

Pray for us.

It is not you, it is me… Promise.

Where have I been? Yes, I know, I have not written a post for a while.
I took a break this summer. I took some “me” time. I did this for one primary reason:
I am selfish.
I don’t feel ashamed.
I don’t owe anybody an apology.
I needed time.
I am a husband, I am a father, I am a coach of many disciplines, an educator, a doctoral student, I am a school board member, a committee member, a writer, and a very active community member – I wear a lot of hats.
I do it gladly – I love being busy, I love having projects, and I love giving myself to others.
But, unfortunately, I burned out.
I found out that I was pulling myself in too many directions, which made me less effective in all other aspects; but most importantly, I was not an effective father or husband. And that is not okay.
So I put all of my responsibilities aside. I walked away from everything.
Except for family.
Family is essential, and we must place emphasis on spending as much time with them as possible. Kids grow up, parents work, significant others get busy. It is too easy to let the time fly by due to everyday “business of life.”
I refused to let that happen. So, I made a conscious decision:
I traveled with family.

 

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If you have not been to Folklorama, you are really missing out.

I explored.

 

 

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Canadian Museum of Human Rights – Winnipeg, Manitoba.

I lived with reckless abandon.

 

 

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I did not get a hole-in-one, but I did split a golf ball in half.

I learned a lot about my kids’ lives.

 

 

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Never too young for a checkers beat-down.

And…
I reconnected with my wife.

 

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It was awesome.
The moral of this story? We all get super busy with life. Make sure you take the time to see what is around you; not just what is in front of you. We are constantly reminded that we do not have very many years on this earth. Make sure you take the time to reflect on what is essential and what is sacred. If there is something that you want to do; someplace you wish to see; someone that you want to spend time with – do it!
I know what you are going to say, “Not everyone has the time and/or resources to cast responsibility aside…”
…And I will gladly call bullshit on that statement… mostly because it is the easy answer.
Yes, we only have 16 hours in our day. A good portion of that day is taken up with employment. But that still leaves us time to practice the things to which I am speaking – we just have to make it a priority.
Just make sure you fill your own bucket first.

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Not Enough Hours in the Day to Deal with B.S.

“Infuse your life with action. Don’t wait for it to happen. Make it happen. Make your own future. Make your own hope. Make your own love. And whatever your beliefs, honor your creator, not by passively waiting for grace to come down from upon high, but by doing what you can to make grace happen… yourself, right now, right down here on Earth.”           -Bradley Whitford

One morning, I got a call from my father-in-law. He is a man of few words:

“Something is wrong with mom.”

“What?!!!”

“Her words are jumbled and she cannot speak fluently.”

“I am coming over, now!”

Those words have a way of striking terror in anyone.

My mother-in-law fell ill. Gravely ill. She did not have a stroke, but the doctors were unable to explain what was wrong, so the treated her for a brain infection.

Encephalitis.

She would spend a week in the hospital.

On a particular day, I was coming out of my mother-in-law’s room, going for lunch, when I ran into a former student’s father. His father (the student’s grandfather) had also fallen ill and had been at the hospital for quite some time:

“How’s it going?”

“Good…considering…”

“Yeah. It has been rough all around, huh?”

“Yup.”

“How are the kids?”

“Cool. Organized chaos as usual.”

Sternly: “Enjoy it.”

At this point I was puzzled.

“Look, you will always have time for golf when you’re old. The country club will be there. Enjoy your kids now.”

I cannot tell you what the rest of the conversation was, because the look on his face when he said that statement had a profound effect on me…

I can still see it.

He was right.

The shameful thing is, up until that point I had not put things into perspective. I have been “chasing skinny rabbits,” if you will. My mother-in-law was vibrant, funny lady one moment; a day later, we don’t know if we should be calling the priest.

Life is something we should not take for granted. We are not sure what tomorrow will bring us; that’s what makes it awesome. And that is why from now on, I will spend my days in positivity.

I will take a shit-ton of pictures.

I will not worry about money (I do invest in retirement).

I will slap my wife on the ass often.

I will embarrass the shit out of my kids.

I will never miss a first day.

I will always give my opinion.

I will not lie*

I will exercise every day.

I will curse (it makes me feel better).

I will start to check off items my bucket list.

I will belly laugh at least 10 times a day.

I will be the best father to my children.

I will be the best father to other children.

I will not complain unless I have a call to action that involves me taking action.

I will be selfish for one hour every day.

I will (try) not to be embarrassed.

I will get rid of negativity.

I will draw often.

*subjective, of course.

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