Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Write Stuff

The scene: I'm minding my own business, enjoying a bowl of cereal for dinner at 9:00 pm after a pretty lengthy work day. Steffi and Loren are in the hallway talking, followed by Steffi coming into the dining room and reaching across the table for a pencil.

"Fine, I'll erase it," she says. She grabs the pencil, returns to the hallway and starts erasing something from the wall.

I get up from the table, fully satisfied from my breakfast/dinner. "What's on the wall?" I ask in typical I'm-not-really-sure-what's-going-on-but-just-trying-to-be-helpful mode. "It's a heart," says Steffi. "Who drew a heart on the wall?" I asked, more out of curiosity than a aren't-we-past-the-writing-on-the-wall stage mindset. "I don't know," Steffi answered unconvincingly.

"Okay, I drew the heart. I wanted to see if a pencil could write on the wall," she admitted, as I noted in my internal voice only that "if I could write on the wall with pencil" would have been the grammatically correct way to explain it. Of course, if I truly wanted to correct her, I could have also gotten into a much larger discussion over why a wall was better suited for the task than say, a piece of lined paper, colored construction paper, or a notebook. But in the grand scheme of things, this was not a big deal.

"Stef, now you know, you can write on the wall with pencil," I replied.

"Well, I was really trying to get Jesse in trouble. See, I drew the heart just like she does," Stef continued. Apparently she would not hold up well under cross examination. I asked one question and the confessions just started pouring out.

"You don't have to get your sister in trouble, she can do that just fine all by herself," I said. I felt bad for Jess, but glad that Steffi didn't lie to us.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Theory of Rela-tim-ity

Einstein's theory of relativity is basically about the relation between time, space, and gravity (or at least that's what the googles tell me).

This past weekend I had a thought I'll call the Theory of Rela-tim-ity (it's a working title). It started at the YMCA pool, where the girls and I were splashing around having a good old time. Both girls were yelling "daddy! daddy!" over and over in order to get my attention. A guy who was probably in his mid 60s was close by, and told me to enjoy my kids trying to get my attention, because before you know it they will be grown up (his kids were in their 20s, and he mumbled something about how they can't even give him a call even though they have cell phones).

Everyone, whether they have kids or not, has heard that "kids grow up soooo fast". Either you know it yourself, your parents told you, a friend has told you, or if you work with me, you've heard me say it. But I think there's a Theory of Rela-tim-ity at play here. It's about time, space, and the gravity of the situation. I don't want to get all technical about the complex mathmatical equations that went into the theory, so I'll simply boil it down to this - time flies when you're having fun.

For example, if I look back at 8 years with Stef - wow that just flew by. But if I look at the last 8 years with the Bush administration - what a long, slow, tortureous time it was (and I literally mean tortureous). The gravity of the two situations is quite different, which affects the whole time/space continuum.

Spending a half hour watching Colbert - feels like ten minutes tops. A half-hour getting my teeth cleaned - I feel like I have more teeth than an alligator. When the Giants have the ball and the lead with 4 minutes left, I swear each second takes at least ten. But if the Giants are down by 7 with four minutes get the point.

So I will no longer bemoan the fact that my children are growing up too fast. I will chalk it up to having way too much fun with them, which is how it should be. There will be other things in life that throw the whole time/space continuum the other way, and will do my best not to get dragged down by the gravity of the situation.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Letter

I was home a little early today and got the chance to help Steffi with her homework. Steffi’s teacher has asked the class to write a letter to Barack Obama. The letters are meant to be a response to the letter the new President wrote to his daughters.

There is one particular paragraph that mirrors my feelings about my own family, and what I believe our nation needs to refocus on. He writes:

“I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential—schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college—even if their parents aren't rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.”

What a difference from our most recent ex-President, who spent the last several weeks doing a media tour, press conference and address to the nation reminding us of the themes and images he’s focused on during his administration, namely fear, terror, evildoers, threats, enemies…(sweet dreams children!)

We live in the greatest country in the world. We all strive to do our best, to be our best, and achieve success, which can be defined not by the riches in our bank account but the richness in our lives. To get my children there, I’d rather focus on the themes found in Obama’s message to his daughters than the message W. reminded us of as he ended his term.

Monday, January 12, 2009


I dropped Steffi off at school this morning, which I very rarely do. I do know that she likes to be left off at the sidewalk, and then she'll walk by herself the extra 50 yards or so to her line. Just as I was saying goodbye, I remembered that she also doesn't like public displays of affection, particularly with a parent, especially around school. When I said goodbye I tried to do it quickly and efficiently - sort of like Kramer ordering soup from the Soup Nazi - just say goodbye, turn and walk slowly back to the car.

So I was pleasantly surprised when she gave me both a hug and kiss goodbye, along with the requisite, "I love you Daddy."

Thanks Stef!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Pierce de Resistance

After the extensive lobbying campaign for a Nintendo DS (a wish granted by Santa) Steffi has evidently turned her focus on her New Year's resolution - getting her ears pierced.

I say evidently because I haven't heard this from her directly. She has talked to my wife, who passed along the request to me. She was told to gather my response, which in turn would be relayed back to Steffi. It's like a familial peace, I mean pierce, process.

There are mixed feelings about this request in my household, and by that I mean everyone is for it except me. My first reaction when my wife brought it up was, "Ears pierced? She's just a kid!" When she reminded me that Steffi would be 9 this year and is currently in the third grade, I came up with what I thought was a thoughtful response. I pretended my cell phone was vibrating and it was probably someone from the office calling.

You know the feeling when you put on a little weight? At first you don't really notice. So a few weeks go by, you know you're not eating right or exercising, but your mind is telling you that things are in control. Then one day you wake up, you can't button your pants, and you look in the mirror in amazement and say, "Wow I'm fat."

That feeling is sort of like what happens with kids. One day you're trying to swaddle them to get them to sleep, but before you even realize it they're asking for pierced ears, cell phones and iPods. It really makes you start to think.

Hold on, I think my cell phone is ringing...