I Love This Ride 27-February-2012

I Love This Ride
I Love This Ride

I Love This Ride  27-February-2012

Ever get on a roller coaster, and think, just as you head down that first big hill, “What was I thinking???”  But then it’s too late to stop because once you’re on the ride, you’re on it until the end.  I love roller coasters!

I thought that when Ezra was born.  I had so very much looked forward to being a Dad for years, and at first there was that rush of the newborn baby in the house.  Then the sleep deprivation.  And one million, seven thousand, five hundred and three dirty diapers.  It was never that I didn’t want to stay on the ride, but there were times I wasn’t sure I’d survive it!  Good stuff.  (Sometimes hindsight is a blessing…  I just said, “Sleep deprivation is good stuff.”  If sleep-deprived me from then heard me say that, he’d probably punch me in the throat and then scream, “Diaper!” at me while I tried to regain my breath…)

Yet I also truly enjoyed it.  I used to think that diapers and strollers were stages I’d just ‘survive’ to get to the ‘good stuff’ that I’m enjoying right now, with my kids at the very fun ages of 8 and 11.  But I loved holding the baby, rocking the baby, napping with the baby on my chest!  And all the baby and toddler things that came and went all too fast.  That part of the ride was just as awesome as this part is.

This weekend went by too fast, as they all seem to these days.  We even shared part of our weekend with the kids’ friends, a stage I thought I’d be not so fond of (I’m selfish!), and that too was a fun ride.  Both kids are old (and fun) enough that we can just hop in the car and go.  No diaper bag or stroller.  The only real ‘parenting’ required of a last minute outing is that they’re dressed weather-appropriately.  Ok well and a bag of snacks, but that’s more of a luxury than ‘parenting’.  Good stuff.

Our action packed weekend took its toll on me by late Saturday night though, and I had just a little bit of a meltdown.  Got a little grumpy.  You can call me adolescent if you want to, but the truth is that grownups are just like toddlers…  too much action and not enough rest is going to result in a meltdown of some kind, but when you’re the grownup, there’s no one to tell you that you’re out of line!  Know how I know all that?  My kids taught me.  Sophie has a polite smile that says, “You’re being unreasonable, but I’m not going to argue with you.”  And Ezra has a hug that says, “You’re grumpy, Dad, but I’m not going to say it out loud because that’ll make you even grumpier.”  They don’t know that they’re saying those things with those actions, but that’s what they’re saying without saying it.  Smart kids, they are.  (When you hit Yoda’s age, you not only talk like him, but you start to realize that listening is more important than speaking…)

I never thought I’d survive the divorce years either.  Can I do it alone?  What do I do about girly parts issues???  Will they be scarred for life from the broken home?  But it turned out to be a blessing in many ways.  Scarred for life?  No.  But changed for life?  Yes.  All of us.  The hole that was left where the marriage once was, quickly filled with good stuff that has shaped who we are as a family.  I think ‘Stitch’ said, “This is my family.  Small, and broken, but…  still good.”  I’m not at all saying that everyone should run right out and get divorced, but there is a silver lining if divorce is what must be.  The roller coaster starts and stops at the same elevation…  for every low there is a high to counteract it.  Good stuff.  Sometimes gut wrenching and terrifying, but…  still good.

We’re really just at the beginning of the ride.  We’ve still got teenage friends, and driver’s licenses, and dances and struggles and all sorts of things I’m probably not even aware of yet.  We’ve also got lots of early mornings getting them to school on time, and late evenings struggling with homework.  Breakups and quarrels with friends.  Dad getting grumpy.  A trip to Niagara Falls, and hopefully the Grand Canyon.  I hope we drive both those trips and want to pull each other’s hair out halfway there.  Songs to sing and tears to shed.  Good stuff.

I just hope I live a goodly long time so that when this ride rolls into the empty nest, I can go again with my Grandkids…  because I do so love this ride…  Some folks are ‘bumper car’ people.  Some are ‘lazy river’ people.  We’re ‘roller coaster’ people.  Not necessarily by choice, but… no matter how we got here, we’re on it for good, and I do so very much love this ride.

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Good Stuff

EDIT:  I have to correct Stitch.  Divorce only breaks the family down into smaller pieces.  It only leaves a family permanently broken if you choose not to pick up the pieces and build again.  In fact, I’d even say it’s an opportunity to build something even better in some cases like ours.  “Small and broken into building blocks,” I’d say, Stitch.

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Home

Breakfast in the Tea Room 18-February-2012


Breakfast in the Tea Room  18-February-2012

On our recent Grand Adventure, we had occasion to have breakfast in the Tea Room off the lobby of the grand old hotel we were staying at…  this became one of those times that all I could do was sit and watch and wonder what it’s like to see the world through Sophie’s eyes.

I saw-  “I’m really hungry.  I hope they have a good menu, and that it’s not too busy.”

Sophie saw-  “I’ll take the rest of my roses and give them away to people coming in for breakfast.”

After we sat down and read the menu, it became clear to me that I would not go away hungry…

I saw-  “Ooooh!  They have bacon!!!”

Sophie saw-  “Oh the table cloths are all fancy white linen, and the chairs are old and fancy too!  The flowers on the table even match my roses!  Oh and they have food too, cool.”

We were only the second table to eat by now, but quickly more folks started filtering in…

I saw-  “Uhoh, more people are coming in.  I hope they bring my bacon before these other people order.”

Sophie saw-  “Yay, people to give flowers to!  I think I’ll talk to everyone.”

The rush evened out though, right after we ordered, so we had a few minutes of quiet while we waited…

I saw-  “I hope my bacon gets here soon.”

Sophie saw-  “I have one more rose left.  I guess I can dance around the empty tables with it while I wait for one more person to come in so I can give this last rose away.”

Good breakfast!  Tummy full now.  Roses all gone.  Table cleared…

I saw-  “That was good bacon!  Let’s go take a nap.”

Sophie saw-  “Let’s sit at this fancy table a little while even though we’re done eating, so we can look out the windows at the sunny day.”

This must be what it’s like for my dog to watch me cook dinner, or drive a car.  Ol Willie is a good dog, but riding in the van must seem like magic to him, just like when I cook dinner and he doesn’t understand where all the amazing smells and sounds came from.  All he knows is that something magical happened, and he felt lucky to be along to enjoy it.  That’s what it’s like to watch Sophie watch the world.  I can no more see the things Sophie sees than Willie can drive himself to the park…  I was sitting in the same room that Sophie was sitting in, just like Willie is sitting right in the same van I’m sitting in while I drive it.  But just like Willie is only a passenger in the van, I’m just the passenger when I’m with Sophie…

Willie and I are both pretty lucky Old Dogs…  Thank heaven for little girls…

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Lucky Dog


Inappropriate 16-February-2012


Inappropriate  16-February-2012

I did something really inappropriate recently that I’m ashamed of, and I’m going to talk about it here in public even though I just know I’m going to wish I hadn’t.

About 3 weeks ago, I was able to work out, through bartering, begging, and don’t tell anyone, but even a bit of trickery, a special ‘Kid Exchange’ so that I could have a Guys Night with my son the weekend before, and a Daddy Daughter night the night of, Valentine’s Day.  My kids have 2 homes, and I have 2 kids, and now and then we’re able to work things out so that each of us parents gets one kid to ourselves for the night.

My childish giddy rush was quickly subdued when I had a friend tell me that taking my daughter on an overnight date on Valentine’s Day was ‘inappropriate’.  A friend.  Someone I’ve known for years, someone that isn’t unfamiliar with our occasional Kid Exchanges.  Apparently, I’m out of touch with current dating terminology, and an overnight date equates to romance and/or sex for most people.  I guess in the 20 years I spent building and then subsequently trying to save a marriage and family, I fell out of the loop with that type of terminology.  My bad.  Yet, terminology aside, this one person’s opinion aside, I was still left with the eerie feeling that a Valentine’s Date of any type with my daughter might be seen as inappropriate by other people?

But we aren’t to the shameful part yet.  Hang in there.  I promise I have a point worth reading through to the end for.

Lots of people do lots of things on a daily basis that I feel are inappropriate.  I don’t hold my breath hoping they’ll change.  In a world where it would seem that the primary motivations of the masses are sexuality and greed, most of the time I feel good about being in the minority on most things.

Guys Night:  This time we called it ‘Guys Night Extreme’, because it was long overdue and of greater magnitude than most, given that it was our exchange for Valentine’s Day.  (The boy took his Mother to dinner on Valentine’s Day, by the way…  is that inappropriate?  I really don’t know, but I’m proud of him for it in any case…)  Keeping things equal as I always do, the boy and I spent some cash on Beyblades, we bought some video game paraphernalia, and we ate too much junkfood while we played video games in our underwear.  I let him be ‘Player 1’ so he gets to choose the parties, the rounds, and the maps.  I let him pick how much time we spent playing Beyblades.  I let him eat a lot of marshmallows.  It’s about spending time with him, and showing him that he’s special, that I love to know what he loves, and that I just dig spending time with him.  He’s my favorite guy.  Most of the time I’m his Dad, but on Guys Nights, I get to be his buddy.  We do this every Guys Night, even when I’m (often) flat broke and there are no purchases involved.  The past 6 months has had more famine than feast here, so we did splurge just a bit on this night.  We stayed up too late and went to bed exhausted.  You could even call it an overnight date if you were really out of touch with adult terminology and oblivious to social boundaries…  But we aren’t even close to the shameful or inappropriate part yet.  Setting aside for the moment how you may feel about underwear video gaming, I doubt many people would consider this Guys Night inappropriate.

Valentine’s Date:  We went to her favorite restaurant just in time for sunset.  She got her favorite meal, fish and chips, and we went to a candy store to get some chocolate.  I brought her flowers, which she gave away to strangers at dinner and breakfast.  We sent a wishing lantern up into the heavens with just a touch of her tender soul attached to it.  She tossed the ball for the dog that lives at her favorite hotel, not that we can afford to stay at hotels often enough to really have a large lot to choose a favorite from.  Between the Valentine’s candy she brought home from school, the box of chocolates I bought her, the candy store lady’s generosity, and the long walk we took wandering around the old hotel, our sugar buzz crashed us out by 9:15pm sharp.  We had breakfast before taking the long way home the next morning, and we stopped at some scenic spots along the way.  It’s about spending time with her, showing her that she’s special, that I love to know what she loves, and that I just dig spending time with her.  She’s my favorite girl.  Most of the time I’m her Dad, but on Daddy Daughter nights I get to be her bff.  Yet somehow in some people’s eyes, this might seem inappropriate…  just because I’m a man and she’s a girl?  But I am proud to say that this, also, is not the thing I’m ashamed of.

We stopped to eat lunch on the way home, and she (who is 8 years old now) said to me, “I’m really lucky.  I’ve had a really fun Valentine’s Day.  Happy ‘Day after Valentine’s Day’, Daddy.”  And then I got really mad at myself for thinking, even briefly, that I should be worried about what anyone might think of…  anything.  What my son and daughter think is what matters.  And they think the world of me.

I’m going to add something to Ghandi’s thoughts today.  Let’s just assume he’s ok with it…  Ghandi said that, “We must be the change that we want to see in the world.”  True story.  I also believe that, in order to be that change, we also have to remain true enough to ourselves that we aren’t swayed by those who would tell us that we should be worried about what everyone else thinks.

I want to live in a world where people value their children.  I want to live in a world where children are raised by their parents, not by their friends or their television.  I want to live in a world where kids are taught right from wrong.  I want to live in a world where every child has at least one safe place to feel loved and be him or herself.  I want to live in a world where parents are not disrespected for showing all of their children love, regardless of whether the parent or child is male or female.

I’m being the change I want to see in the world, and I’m ashamed that I allowed one person’s opinion make me question my own values, even for a moment.  That was inappropriate of me, and I hope I’m more true to myself in the future.  ‘Uncommon’ and ‘Inappropriate’ are only terms that cross paths in a world where we’ve lost sight of what matters most.

Cheers from The ThreeFiveZero Uncommoners