Tag Archives: relationships

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.

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?

 

 

 

 

Don’t tell mom


I wish my Swiffer mop looked this nice, but you get the idea.

Listen up, boys.

The following is Top Secret, Eyes Only, Guy Clearance. Under no circumstances is this to be divulged to mom or your pants will self-destruct during a school assembly. Not even Ethan Hunt will save you.

Don’t tell mom that I’ve vacuumed faithfully every Saturday since I’ve been here or it will blow her mind.

Don’t tell her that I’ve swept (and mopped) the kitchen, cleaned the bathroom floor on my hands and knees, kept the counters cleaned of any debris and the garbage emptied. Her head will explode.

If the police raided my apartment right now, the dishes would be done, all the lights would be off and there would be no naughty movies anywhere. Lab tests on the van would reveal no sign of Taco Bell crumbs. Or any food particles from my time here in Billings.

On second thought, let’s tell her a few things so it won’t mess her up too bad. Tell her that I probably should wipe out the fridge at some point. And I’m making liberal use of paper products to minimize the dirty dishes.

That’s all she knows. Don’t tell her that I washed and dried all my sheets and have only a tiny bit of laundry left to fold. I cook as well in places other than the microwave, say my prayers and get to bed long before the sun rises in the morning.

One more thing. Do tell her that I love her and miss her. That, I do want her to hear.

Read my about page to know we are operating two households for the next few months.

 

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.

 

 

 

 

About lighthouses and dads

 

This photo was taken on September 12, 2007 using a Nikon D40X by Rona Proudfoot.

My wife called me a name today. And this time, I didn’t mind.

We were sitting at the table when she brought up how our two boys watch me.

That’s nothing new to me, for that’s one of the first things they teach you in Dad School 101.

You’re a role model. Your kids notice when you throw your integrity in the corner next to the basketball shorts, even with negative decisions that seem small at the time.

They know when you’re racing through the bedtime routine to get back to the computer. They know when you’ve paid one too many visits to 7-Eleven. Or when you happen to be drifting along with no compass in life.

It’s the dad under a microscope exhibit at the science fair.  Trust me, I’ve felt the pressure.

Despite the warts they surely notice, it’s also comforting to know my boys have observed other more positive actions by their dad.

Kneeling in prayer by my bed at night.

Struggling out of bed on Sunday on a weekly basis to go to church despite extremely limited sleep the night before.

Bringing mom home a dessert, just because.

Doing the dishes and the laundry, and not just in hopes of getting lucky.

Not cheat his employer, even in the smallest way.

Provide a safe environment for their friends who may be hitting a rough patch.

Not afraid to show emotion.

Willing to laugh at himself.

So back to my wife at the table. I listened as she spoke, expecting a detailed laundry list of all my sins.

She did nothing of the sort.

“They tell me everything,” she said looking at me. “Both good and bad that you do.”

“You’re a lighthouse,” she told me. She didn’t have to explain further.

I knew exactly what she meant. I just never heard it said so beautifully.