Tag Archives: parenting

Mr. (Not) Right

Welcome to Team Henneke, where everybody not only wants to be right, but needs to be right.

No way will we give into the other person because that would be — wrong.

We have to be right about everything, it seems. Including the exact date when dad first reached puberty, the number of times he posts on Facebook each day, who did the last load of towels and the proper location for toothpaste on the bathroom counter. mr-right

At our house, folks exercise their right to be right in practically any instance. It could be during a blessing on the food, during a football game or in a room full of VIPs.

As for me, I can’t say here if I am right or not, because somebody might take issue with it. Because it’s my blog, just pretend that I speak the truth for the next 30 seconds.

It doesn’t matter to me as much if I win a debate. I don’t care to defend any allegations that somebody does more housework than me. Or that nobody believes me when I deny any responsibility for using the milk jug as a doorstop.

Actually, it’s quite entertaining to purposely mess with those who have to be right. It shakes them up, makes them question the very reason for their existence.

The key is to calmly state any of the retorts listed below and walk away.

1. The sun won’t come up tomorrow.

2. I don’t owe you any money. If it’s not on Facebook, it didn’t happen.

3. Yes, I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. I’m not at my best under general anesthesia.

4. I firmly believe Congress will do the right thing.

5. Nobody has shown any conclusive evidence that leaving mayo out for six hours can be harmful to you.

6. That Billy character on Family Circus should do stand-up. He’s that funny.

Now that I know my place, I don’t always need to have the last word. Unless you disagree with me, then I will have speak up.

Because, let’s be honest. It’s the right thing to do.

What the boy said about me

One of these days, it will sink in. Especially when the words come from my own son.

He’s said it before multiple times and I’ve blown it off. That’s nice, I would smile. Now go clean your room. Get to bed. We’ve got more important things to do.

But last night, he said it again, from his bed, shortly before drifting off to sleep.  I was ready to walk out of the room when he called me over one more time. The room was dark and I knelt close to him so I could hear him, my head inches from his face while he talked in quiet tones.

I just got through telling him what I loved about him. Wasn’t expecting him to respond in kind. Wasn’t expecting the level of sincerity, and how the words would hit me hard.

His message? You don’t know how good you are, dad.

You’re more than just a blogger, he said.

You’re more than a columnist, he said. You could have an audience that reaches the whole world. You make people laugh. You make them cry. You have a way with details.

“You’re a legend,” he said.

My first thought: This 14-year-old speaks fluent hyperbole. I need him to run my dad PR firm whenever I get in trouble with mom. What teen tells something like that to their parent?

Wonder what would happen if I saw myself the way he sees me. I bet things would be different. Bet I wouldn’t flounder as much as I feel I do.

After he was done, I thanked him. I told him I needed his help to never settle for mediocrity, to always reach for the stars.

And if he already feels that way about me, then in a way, I’ve already succeeded.

Why I don’t care if you read this (for now)

You 10 readers used to keep me up at night.

I used to pour over the blog stats fretting about who showed up on my blog and how they got there. What if I added the wrong keywords or (heaven forbid) give enough back links?

For a long time, you came to the blog in droves, and it was fun living my alter ego as a two-bit blog celebrity. I tried to act nonchalant when my kids reported more comments to them about my blog.

Now I’ve reached a point where I hope to write more and care less. It’s taken a long time, but I think I’m finally there. I’ll still share on Facebook and Twitter, and still be grateful when you visit. But letting go of the numbers, a process many months in the making, has been extremely therapeutic.

If you still come to visit me here, glad to have you.

Who knows what you’ll find when you get here. The writing most likely won’t be gooder than other writers. But it will have honesty, maybe make you smile or identify with a lesson that I learned. And like always, I never write longer than my attention span. These days, that’s usually not longer than success as a GOP frontrunner.

This whole discovering who I am is taking longer than I thought. Some day, I’ll finish the idea I had for a children’s book. I might even compile of these essays into book form. I’ll keep reading powerful writing, such as this this eulogy on Steve Jobs.

But for now, I’ll just keep writing. Judging by how often I look at these pics on my desk, I’ll have plenty of inspiration.

Lacey, Lindsey and the dog inspire me just as well. You're just on the opposite side of the desk.

 

7 tips from the Facebook Dad

No time for moping when there's dad stuff to be done.

I think all my tools from home are gone. That’s probably for the best. I didn’t know how to use most of them.

I imagine that most loose items in the home have been sold or given away. Bedtimes could be blown out of the water, there could be olives in the house or much disrespect directed toward the Vizio.

See what happens when I’m not there? See the chaos that can ensue, the destruction of the space time continuum and new black holes on a daily basis?

You can’t? You’re probably right. Even without the dad, life continues as normal. The dog still smells, the car still works, food still gets devoured and the house hasn’t caved in.

It’s tempting to imagine them saying, “It’s become necessary to outsource you, dad. We’ll see you on the other side. Whenever that is.”

But come to find out, I am still very much needed. We’ve had to rewrite the playbook for these few months while we’re apart. (Click here to catch up on why jobs are forcing us to temporarily be apart.)

So we do the best we can until we can be together again. Here’s 7 ways we work to keep the family unit intact.

1. We try to pray once a night as a family. As often as I can, I participate through Facebook video chat.

2. We talk almost every day by phone. I never let a conversation go by when I don’t tell my wife that I love her.

3. Letters home. I nearly forgot how to print, but that was one of the best Sundays I ever spent, writing handwritten letters to my boys. I need to do that again.

4. Still live the values that I believe, even though there’s nobody in this tiny apartment to check to see if i’m watching the right movie or engaging in other debauchery. I’m still accountable to my family and my God.

5. Let them be surprised when I see them again, that only 1 in 5 socks end up under my side of the bed. Don’t want to shock them too bad.

6. Online grade reports allow to check and see if we need to hold an accountability session with one or both of the boys.

7. It’s fun thinking of all the ways I can tell my wife how much I love her from two states away.

Come to think of it I haven’t sent her flowers in awhile.

That gives me an idea.

What other ideas do you have for us?

 

 

 

 

Chasing the perfect ending

I wanted my last Saturday as the Sunday editor for the Democrat-Herald to be picture perfect, something that would make filmmaker Ken Burns beg me to tell my story.

It certainly started out that way, before the night imploded. Two co-workers brought pie, I finished my final column for the Sunday paper and we got word of a great story involving a 60-year-old surfer dude saving the day near a Newport jetty.

Tracking him down for an interview usually takes an old priest and a young priest, a rabid guinea pig and 20 phone calls to friends on Facebook.

Not this time. He actually called me back in less than 10 minutes. It was so easy, Publisher Mike McInally advised me to embellish how I reached him. So as far as you know, I called in a favor to my soothsayer bookie in Tibet.

Not only did we land a very good story with a great photo by Jesse Skoubo, I would still had pie left to eat out of the carton after everybody else left for the night.

Maybe they would make a statue of me for the front of the paper. Future tours would include stops at Mike Henneke’s desk and bow down in reverence where they tiny toilet used to sit. This means I better make time for Matt Lauer.

What’s this? Have to remake a page before deadline because a story was three days old. There’s two more blunders in the Lifestyles section that needs to be fixed. And there’s a glaring error by me on the top of A1.

Suddenly my picturesque little woodland scenario has turned into the beach scene from “Saving Private Ryan.”

My Walt Disney ending turned into something like this.

What a way to go. Suddenly I can picture myself getting escorted from the building and the company tearing up my last paycheck.

Today I came home I came home to find my wife and youngest son reading my column at the kitchen table. I walked back into the bedroom, in preparation for my traditional Sunday nap.

Before I went to sleep, Spencer walked into the room, carrying the section with my column on the front. He had it folded over where I could see my picture on the front.

“Could I keep this?” he asked. “I want to show it to my teacher.”

I looked at him and smiled big. Maybe I found my perfect ending after all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Parents on puppet strings

One day I woke up and the kids were in charge. It’s the weirdest thing. At one point, it was pretty obvious in America that the parents were the bosses, the grand kahunas, the big cheeses.

The kids were under our responsibility, obeyed our rules or faced consequences. There was no negotiating or collective bargaining with parents. We didn’t owe them any gifts, favors or inheritance.

Now kids run the place. We seek their permission, ask forgiveness for not writing the check fast enough. Let’s just hope we don’t have to speak to their lawyers.

We wonder if we were too hard on them, demanding that they do their homework on time. To make it up to them, we sign over our stocks with hopes that it will make them happy.

In the store tonight, my wife was standing next to a mother and her child sitting in a shopping cart. He was probably less than 5 years old.

The discussion continued to escalate until he uttered these words: “I’ll cry if you don’t give me what I want.”

Sometimes it happens when they get older. On a regular basis, I will ask my 17 year old to perform a household task.

“If I do “X”, can we go to the store?” he’ll ask.

No, I reply. You’ll do it because that’s part of your responsibilities as a member of this house.

And if you don’t like it, have your lawyer call me in the morning.