Category

Memories

‘The Columbo’ and The Missing Wallet

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Parenting | No Comments

I have this thing I’ve been doing I call “The Columbo” whenever I leave the house. If you’ve ever seen the retro show starring Peter Falk (or saw him as the grandfather in “The Princess Bride,”) you’re familiar with it.

It’s basically a pocket/mental check to make sure I’m not forgetting anything.

Wallet? Check. Keys? Check. You get the idea.

Last week, the morning routine was different than usual as I had extra things to remember to bring to G’s preschool for her birthday celebration. So it wasn’t until after I dropped her off and pulled into a coffee shop for a cup when the panic hit me.

Where’s my wallet?

You know that feeling. Everything is in there – ID, credit cards, that special picture of Grace, your life.

I scoured my work bag and car… no luck.

So I drove back home hoping to find it on my dresser. Nope.  I searched the house top to bottom without finding it.

Extra stress as this was the day I was to pick (and pay for) her new bike and I only had a small amount of time to do that and my work before picking her up.  Was I going to have to cancel all the cards, get a new ID, call my wife and ask her for some cash to get it all done? The day wasn’t looking good.

The jacket I was wearing had notoriously shallow pockets. Things had fallen out before.

I decided to retrace my steps and drove back to Grace’s school to see if it was where I’d parked…praying the whole way there.

When it didn’t turn up there, I started walking the path up to the school which led me by the playground. Grace’s class was outside playing and she was standing next to the short chain linked fence curiously looking at my unannounced reappearance.

What are you doing here Daddy?” she asked.

“Oh, I just think something dropped out of my pocket and I can’t find it so I’m here looking to see if it fell out here,” I said with a smile.

She looked up at me with her big brown eyes and said, “Do you mean your wallet?”

Two strong emotions hit me immediately – relief and wariness. I didn’t want to fully believe my search was over until I was sure.

“Do you mean that little black thing with the cards in it?” I said.

She nodded.

“Why would you say that?” I asked.

Because I hid it,” she said with a grin. “It’s behind the big princesses in my room.”

I only had one more question for her (and the teachers standing next to her).

“Is it okay if I come in there and give you a big kiss?” I asked.

The teachers nodded and even though it was just too uncool for me to do it according to her expression, I came in anyway, kissed her, and thanked her for letting me know where it was. Of course, that was immediately followed with a discussion of what things were ok to hide and what things weren’t and when.

That conversation was repeated again after school just to make sure she understood. Better safe than sorry. If only I’d remembered to “Columbo”…

T.

 

Fatherhood Half-Life

By | Custody, Daddy, Daughter, Divorce, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Parenting, Quality Time, Relationships | No Comments

valve-half-life-2-portal-android-versiyonu-cikis-tarihi
While the term half-life is normally used when talking about nuclear physics or nuclear chemistry (not to mention a pretty sweet video game), it can also be used in a different way when applied to the nuclear family, especially when it comes to fatherhood.

Imagine this.

At a random point in your young adult life someone hands you an envelope with some shocking information.

The message is simple. Starting today you will only receive half of the life you would have normally lived.

That would probably change your life.

What you consider most important may become doubly so. Your priorities would suddenly stand out in stark contrast to time spent on less important things.

So it is for many divorced Dads. Their “fatherhood half life” begins with a divorce and a custody battle. And with most, half is an all too rare “best case” scenario.

From the moment she was born, I placed time with my daughter as a top priority. I like to think the D in my DNA stands for Daddy.  I was lucky enough to be self-employed from home the first year of her life and then to land an extremely flexible job that let me keep my priorities and promises intact. Then, divorce…and those promises got a lot harder.

I’m no time management wizard. There are numerous examples of how I’ve wasted time on things that held no real value. But fatherhood isn’t one of those things. It never will be.

My situation has my daughter living hundreds of miles away. I’m not afforded the same conveniences of many divorced parents. It’s high conflict but it has taught me many things about myself and my faith.

So when I hear about parents wanting to “take a break” from the kids, I wince.  You don’t know what you have. Dad up and recognize the benefits of your sacrifices.

Every time a new theater or dance camp opportunity comes up that we have to take a pass on because she won’t be here, I grimace. Someone else’s decisions are affecting her opportunities.

Would I act differently if she was with me every day? I don’t see why. Why wouldn’t I want to spend as much time as possible with the one of the most important people in my life?

Promotions, money, more stuff…keep ‘em. I’ll take time. You should do the same.

The fading (but not fast enough) standard of a divorced father being awarded every other weekend and half the summer is an insult, not just to the involved Dads but to the decades of studies that have shown how important a his relationship with his kids is. Those aren’t my words, it is scientific fact.

If you find yourself in a situation like mine, don’t give up. Fight for your rights as a father. Stay true to her.  If you get to see your girl every day, make it count.  It’s more important than you may know.

My girl and I have done a whole lot of living in our four short years together, whether it was on a daily basis or just half. One thing is certain. Our “half-life” is still very full of love.

If you like this, maybe you’ll like some of my other favorites? It’s OK to Say Goodbye to Saturday Morning Cartoons, My Guppy,  My New Morning Show,  Men Suck… , The Wonder of a Weed, and the G-Talk series

Todd


Please SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

It’s OK to Say Goodbye to Saturday Morning Cartoons

By | Custody, Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Memories, Parenting, Quality Time, Technology, Toddlers | No Comments

bugs bunnyLike other kids of my generation, Saturday morning was Shangri-La. We had a respite from the crazed world of learning math or doing chores. We had our Saturday Morning Cartoons. It was incredible.

Bugs and his Looney Tunes pals rocked.

Rocky and Bullwinkle rocked.

Schoolhouse Rock …well, you know.

(The Tick ‘Spoooooooned’)

With the roof of my mouth barely healed from last week’s shredding from sugary cereal, I would bravely refill my bowl and the Cap’n and I would head off for some quality time.

But earlier this week I learned that the cable channel CW was the last ship to set sail on the showing of the animated awesomeness that was our kids’ God-given right to punch out from reality.

And that’s ok.

You may think it strange for me to say I’m glad my daughter lives in an “on demand” world but in some ways I completely am. I’m rooting for it.

When I have her, my “Saturday mornings” (and hopefully this is how she’ll recall them, too) consist of going all out for breakfast with Daddy’s cinnamon pancakes, eggs, and fresh fruit. We find crafts to do or practice reading and writing. If it’s summer, maybe we get some pool time in. How much can we do together? What cool memories are going to be made today? How much more can I love you?

Why would I want her to check out? Screen time is a last resort in our house.

But that doesn’t mean I don’t want her to know who Mickey Mouse is. For the record, there’s a Mickey Mouse short about Minnie putting on too much perfume that is reigning supreme in the iPad’s replay numbers.

I just don’t mind the fact that we can decide when and for how long that time is.

I do the same thing with my “House of Cards” or “Walking Dead” fixes. I watch them at a time we don’t spend together or she’s in bed. Thank you, Netflix and DVR. I can be a present parent and still get to watch my favorite shows. Win/win.

So why shouldn’t she get the same entitlement to convenience? I don’t think being able to watch her shows at a whim will turn her into an entitled citizen, expecting the same treatment from everything in her life. We figured it out pretty quickly, she will too.

Plus it frees up time for her to “be” in the room. You remember that blank stare we all had as kids. Our folks had to say our name 4 times before we snapped away from the boob tube.

So, goodbye Saturday Morning Cartoons. It was fun. It really was.

You’ve gone the way of the VCR and Atari.

Parting is somewhat-sweet sorrow…maybe more than I care to admit.

That’s your cue, Porky.


If you like this, maybe you’ll like some of my other favorites? My Guppy,  My New Morning Show,  Men Suck… , The Wonder of a Weed, and the G-Talk series


If you like what you’re reading, please SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

My Guppy

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Memories, Relationships | One Comment

KGrHqZHJDoFIS3m_NWPBSFZ_L_Lww_60_1_large
Amazement. Pride. Terror…pretty much in that order.

No more floaties.

I peer down through the water and see her looking through her goggles at my submerged hands beckoning her to go just a little further, just a couple more strokes, before she reaches her goal and I lift her up above my head to watch her smile from ear to ear.

‘I can swim!’ she shouts.

I’m having a proud daddy moment.

(As I type this, I can hear her telling her neighborhood friends all about it around our backyard swing).

I don’t know why it was such a big deal to me to teach my daughter how to swim. There were plenty of classes available. Maybe I equate a summer afternoon at the pool with one of the few happy memories I have of my childhood.

I can still vividly see the sunlight shimmering as I would push off the wall with both feet and zoom through the water. I can still feel the smooth bottom of the pool on my belly was I would skim over it wishing I could hold my breath for hours, wishing I was a dolphin. I was even on the school’s swim team and actually did pretty well.

So for the past two years, G and I have gone to the YMCA or to the neighborhood pool to have some fun while I tried to show her the ropes. Fortunately, she loved the water and learned while playing. She was a good ‘student’ (fearless) and tried new things. But it’s always been with floaties or life vests.

Yesterday, it happened. We had been swimming for about an hour. It was almost time to go. I asked if she wanted to try some swimming without any help.

In the shallow end, standing on the second step down, she jumped towards me and started dog paddling. We’d tread water before so this was good progress. But then she put her head under the water and within two breaststrokes was in my arms. (Amazement)

“Let’s do that again!” she yelled.

Again and again, further and further she swam until she was able to swim from the steps to the rope that separated the shallow from the deep end. (Pride)

Watching her struggle so hard just to keep her nose above water ,sometimes swallow and cough, and the realization that she may someday want to try this on her own led to the (Terror). We had “the talk” about always having a grownup to swim with if she wanted to try it again – which she does. Right now.

We’re off to the pool.

But last night at bedtime…

G: “Why did you keep calling me your little guppy?”

“Because guppies are little fish that can swim really well like you.”

G: “But I’m still your baby boo, right?”

<melt>

“Forever, baby boo. Forever.”

T.

If you like this, maybe you’ll like some of my other favorites? My New Morning Show,  Men Suck… , The Wonder of a Weed, and the G-Talk series


If you like what you’re reading, please SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

Unscripted: Improv Fatherhood

By | Conversations, Daddy, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Parenting, Quality Time, Relationships, Toddlers | No Comments

improvWant to be a better Dad? Try improvisational comedy.

No, you don’t have to get on stage. But the basics of what an improv class can teach you will help any father’s ability to communicate with his kids.

Improv (at least a version of it) is one of those things that comes second nature to me. Years of morning radio honed the skill of immersing myself in random “created realities” and to this day I’m more than ready, probably to a fault, to jump into those spaces and play around. Quick-witted conversations are my comfy place.

So when I talk to my four-year old daughter, it’s like my own personal Disneyland. She doesn’t feel the need to be bound by logic or order when it comes to her conversations. I love that.

So first things first, know your audience. And be ready to flip the script on your “material” at a moment’s notice.

Here are three other rules of improv comedy that you should follow:

LISTEN

I know it sounds easy but if you don’t hear what she is saying you can’t be part of the conversation. And please, when your girl says something that doesn’t make sense, run with it. Don’t correct her. If she’s really trying to communicate something but struggling with what words to use, this will help her get from here to there without her getting frustrated by you . Just play around with what she is actually saying. If she’s just being silly, all the better.

DON’T DENY

Here’s an example of denial.

“Hi, my name is Jim. Welcome to my zoo.”
“This isn’t a zoo, it’s an airplane. And you’re not Jim, you’re a go-go dancer.”
See? Not fun.

Grace has told me about wolves that serve ice cream to which I replied “What flavor?” She also said that she uploads her thoughts to the rainbow clouds hanging above her bed to which I ask “Is the pink one full yet?” You get it. Don’t deny the reality being created. You’ll be amazed at what you can learn about what she’s really thinking when you let her create the world in which to speak.

NO FUNNY BUSINESS

The hidden riddle of improv is that the harder you try to be funny the unfunnier it gets. The same goes with your girls. Try and be funny and you’ll just fall flat. Your goal? Keep things interesting.  Keep adding to the “scene” you and your daughter are creating.  When that happens, the funny usually comes out all by itself. The best ways to go are to stick to your character, stick to the story that is being told, and to stay within the reality she has made.

Improvisation isn’t for everyone but I believe every father should at least give it a shot. Fatherhood, like improv comedy, is unscripted and can be difficult but working without that net makes for the biggest laughs and memories.

– T.

If you like this, maybe you’ll like some of my other favorites? My New Morning Show,  Men Suck… , The Wonder of a Weed, and the G-Talk series


If you like what you’re reading, please SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

Horses! Letting Go of the Reins

By | Daddy, Daughter, Development, event, Fathers and Daughters, Independence, Memories, Parenting, Personality, Quality Time, Relationships | No Comments

download (1)I see 1,200 pounds of pure muscle snorting down on 35 pounds of determined innocence. The paternal instinct to rush in and protect the little girl looking up at the spotted horse hits my spine and she isn’t even my daughter.

I fight the urge to step in (or to say anything) because I know where we are and that this “introduction” is part of the process.

Minutes later, there’s a stable full of girls ranging from age 4 – 15 leading their designated horses around obstacle courses or over large teeter-totters. Next to them are fathers looking at their little girls in a whole new way. Within the hour, young women who had never been on a horse are sitting bareback on them and beaming from ear to ear.

SEE THE FULL GALLERY OF PICTURES HERE

The Daddy Daughter Time Horses! Event at Equine Assisted Development of the Great Lakes in Alto, MI was one of those “can’t stop smiling” days (even while I was shoveling up ‘horse apples’). The well-trained horses are accustomed to meeting new faces and Deb VanderBand, the founder and leader of this organization, knows how to empower even the littlest of women.

According to the organization’s Facebook page, EAD specializes in the development and enhancement of non-verbal communication skills, assertiveness, creative thinking, problem-solving, leadership, taking responsibility, teamwork, relationships, confidence, and attitude. In the two sessions with our groups of Dads and daughters, she touched on all of them.

Sometimes it’s hard as a father to “let go of the reins” and see what your daughter can do on her own. Watching her face challenges (much larger than her), solve problems, and find the strength to face her fears can make it difficult on a Dad who wants to help and protect. This is one of those environments where letting her take the lead is encouraged and it was so cool to watch them do just that.

Throw in the miniature ponies and mules, a trip up to the hay loft, Bags the barn cat, and a chance for some of the girls to feed the horses, and a memorable day was made for all who came out. (And special props go to Nick Gonzalez who dealt with the only feisty moment of the day – Dude, you looked like a genuine cowboy/superhero.)

A full gallery is up.  Please share it with other Dads and let them know about Daddy Daughter Time!

A huge thank you to goes to our presenting sponsor – Land Rover of Grand Rapids – for helping make the day possible. Not only do they sell quality vehicles, they’ve got some pretty awesome Dads working there, too.

 

If you like this, maybe you’ll like some of my other favorites: My New Morning Show,  Men Suck… , The Wonder of a Weed, and the G-Talk series


Don’t miss out on our next blog! SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new post goes up. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

My New Morning Show

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Memories, Parenting, Personality, Quality Time, Relationships | 6 Comments

RG-stuff-11For half of my 12-year career in radio, I would wake up well before sunrise each day to try and deliver an entertaining and informative morning show. So I rarely had time to listen to other radio shows or watch morning television.

When I got a new job outside of the industry, I thought I would finally have the time catch up on what everyone else was doing.

Turns out, that wasn’t the case. It’s not that I don’t have the time. It’s just that I have a completely different morning show that covers all of the bases for me.

She’s four and she’s the highest rated “show” in my home and car. My daughter delivers all of the basic components of morning TV and radio. Let me break it down for you…

Energy

Morning radio and television shows are typically higher energy shows. My daughter has been known to go from “zombie sleep” to “dance, dance” mode in about 45 seconds after waking.  Even more curious is when the first words out of her mouth are a continuation of the conversation we were having at bedtime as if no time had passed and she had simply pressed Pause on her brain.

Music

I like to start my day with some tunes. For this, my daughter delivers two popular options in her large repertoire of music:

  1. A made up song with no discernible melody with lyrics that describe whatever she is looking at and thinks I’ll laugh at. (Example: “Stanley the squirrel, the squirrel, the squirrel, is eating all the bird feeder food. Bad squirrel. Bad squirrel”)
  2. “Let It Go” from Frozen. On the same high spin rotation as most Top40 stations’ songs (See: Repeat, repeat)

Weather

This one pairs with music as well. If it’s rainy, I hear “Rain, rain go away, come again another day.” If it’s sunny, we sing “Oh, What a Beautiful Morning” from the musical “Oklahoma.” Weather is described in terms like sunny and cloudy, warm and cold, but also with “craft day,” “long pants day,” or “I want the blue sunscreen because that other sunscreen smells like dumpster” day.

Skits/Bits

I love well executed bits. Wacky characters used for comedic effect were fun to develop and deliver while on the air. But now instead of waking up to “Mr. Leonard and his Wheel of Meat,” I get to tune in to the ongoing Saga of the Stuffed Animals including a horse, baby doll, dog, and monkey. I’m pretty sure Molly the Monkey is the stunt boy even though she’s a girl. She gets tossed around a lot.

You can add “celebrity interviews” in here, too. The characters are starting to talk back as her imagination grows.

News

While radio and TV shows are giving me the latest breaking news, G is giving me up to the minute updates of things that happened over a year ago. Who knows what sparked the memory of her feeding a giraffe? And who cares? I’d rather relive that story than hear about immigration issues or health care.

Traffic

While she completely understands the concept – (“a lot of cars on this road”), our traffic report always boils down to one thing: Did it recently rain enough to fill up the mud puddle at the bend of the road in our neighborhood so Daddy can splash it with his car tire.

Time and Temp

To be honest, she stinks at this. She has no sense of time or what numbers means when it comes to the time of day or temperature outside. I have been told that she loves me “a million eight” while she proudly promises to sleep “for three minutes” during nap time. I think she thinks those two amounts are the same.

Thankfully, I have an iPhone to give me this info whenever I need it. But then again, I’d have to have my iPhone. Our recent Hooked on Phonics Learn to Read app has her wanting to hoard it.

I’ve got it all. She’s topical, local, entertaining, and informative…not to mention commercial free.  The only thing missing is my chance to win free concert tickets. I love this show.

T.

If you like this, maybe you’ll like some of my other favorites? Men Suck… , The Wonder of a Weed, and the G-Talk series


If you like what you’re reading, please SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

Men Suck…

By | Daddy, Daughter, Development, Fathers and Daughters, Memories, Parenting, Relationships | 4 Comments

images (1)Admit it. Men suck at networking.

Don’t think so?

Imagine you are a man walking into a conference room with some of the major power players in your industry. You have shown great promise in your career and the other men you are about to meet could greatly increase your standing and get you to the next level.

You would want to learn from them and show them what you know. You would want to befriend them so you could have more access and form a network of lifelong associates that help each other succeed.

That is the essence of networking – maintaining a group of colleagues that symbiotically succeed.

Many men excel at this in their professional lives but they suck at it when it comes to parenting.

Most women do it. It’s one of the first things they use to connect with each other before adding to their circle of friends (see: network). Men use the topics of sports or business before children when connecting with other men.

The good news: If you want to find other Dads like you – fathers that want to parent with a purpose and place a higher priority in taking an active role in their children’s lives – we are out there. You can find them at every Daddy Daughter Time event. DDT Dads wouldn’t be there if they didn’t place value on the time they spend with their girls.

The role of fatherhood is evolving and morphing men into more involved caregivers responsible for every aspect of their children’s lives instead of just a ‘policeman with a paycheck.’

We feed, burp, and change.

We bathe, bounce, and braid.

You see more and more of us finding homes for our blogs on Today, Huffington Post, and the New York Times’s websites.

This Father’s Day is a good opportunity to not only start being remembered for the memories you made with your kids but to meet other guys who want the same thing. It’s easy…

Just come and network.

Just think how much “success” you could accomplish when it comes to the relationships with your kids if you were part of a network of lifelong associates that help each other succeed. (Sound familiar?)

T.


If you like what you’re reading, please SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up.

What Daddy Wants…

By | Conversations, Daddy, Father's Day, Memories, Quality Time, Relationships | No Comments


no-ties
Why is it so hard for some people to find the right gift for Dad on Father’s Day?

I know the answer, but you might not like it.

Think about a close or best friend…a true friend who has been by your side through everything. You know quite a bit about them don’t you? You have a history. You went through it together when sh– got real. It’s pretty easy to figure out what to get them for a gift. You know more than just the cursory details of their life. You’ve spent lots of time together.

If you can’t say the same for your Dad, you may find yourself struggling to get him something for Father’s Day.

This isn’t a guilt trip. (Ok, it’s a small one). I get it – there are lots of reasons you and your old man aren’t that tight. It could be his fault, your fault, or just the way the world turned.

I was in your shoes. I could never figure out what to get my Dad for Father’s Day (or his birthday…or Christmas). I just didn’t know the man that well and I didn’t make the effort until just before it was too late and he was gone.

His gifts regularly included fishing gear, golf gear, or a pair of leather gloves. I knew these things about him and he may have even liked them. But I think I know what he (and every other Dad in the world worthy of calling himself a father) really wants.

I wrote about it in a guest blog for www.grkids.com. It hurt a little to write but I think that’s a good thing.

T.


If you like what you’re reading, please SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.

The Wonder of a Weed

By | Daddy, Daughter, Fathers and Daughters, Growing Up, Memories, Relationships | 4 Comments

27306_2012042515314919AqM.thumbYou can take the time to contemplate the universe and all of its infinite vastness. What does your existence mean? Where do you belong in the ultimate grand scheme of things?

Thoughts about your country and where it is headed are meaningful. What will your role be as a citizen? Where do you fit in as a member of society?

You can spend some brain time thinking your state and city. What do they offer you? How can you invest in them to make them better?

Knowing your neighborhood (and more importantly your neighbors) is time well spent. Finding a space and purpose within your community is essential.

Minding your home is important. Remaining aware of not only the structure itself but the warmth, safety, and dynamic of where your family will live is significant.

But don’t let these ruminations crowd out those most basic to happiness.

Before all of those other thoughts entered our minds, we each stopped and picked dandelions.

We marveled at their brightness.

We reveled in their scent.

We rubbed them under our chins to see if we really liked butter or not.

And if we were lucky, we had the chance to give a few of them to someone we love.

Having a daughter has given me the chance to live out the cliché of “seeing the world through the eyes of a child.” While I was recently looking at my lawn and adding some Round-Up weed killer to my mental shopping list, she handed a freshly-picked bunch of dandelions to me with an “I love you Daddy” and along with it a new perspective.

Dedicate some time (seriously, schedule it if that helps) to celebrate the simple.

Think about what is inside of you instead of everything that surrounds you. I know being a grownup can be hard. There’s a lot to consider. But without true happiness within, time spent thinking about your home, state, country, or universe becomes pointless.

Pardon the pun, but you could call it a “grassroots movement” for your soul. Remember…it’s not necessarily the roses you need to stop and smell. A handful of weeds can be just as wonderful.

Thanks G. I love you, too.

 


If you like what you’re reading, please SUBSCRIBE on the front page and we’ll send you an email when a new blog goes up. Plus you can LIKE us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram too.