Saturday, November 15, 2014

Technology Breeds Independence

Walking, check.
Talking, check.
Playing ball, check.
Getting dressed, check.

Independently turning on the TV, finding the kids channels, and working the video game console?

Check.

It's something I've been waiting for for some time, now. You know, the morning after a good date night or guys night out? 7 or 8:00 A.M. comes a little too early. It used to be that I would stumble out of bed, try to not fall down the stairs, put on the TV, get some water and / or VitaminWater Zero, go back to bed. Maybe I would put out some bread and water for the children.

They can not only work the media center, but they can make themselves a basic breakfast! JD can put a waffle or two in the toaster oven without sustaining 2nd degree burns (no cereal for him) and Bunny can pour herself a bowl of cereal. They have figured out how to climb the cabinet hardware to get on the counter to get dishes and glasses. They can get more milk into a glass than they spill.

Bravo! I say.

Tonight, we came home from my Mom's birthday party. Wife was already under the weather before the party, so she was pooped. I was trying to get some rest before my 11:00 P.M. hockey game, so I was happy to lay around for a while.

So, I turned the TV on to Netflix and got a movie going. I knew that it was only 75 minutes long, so I was watching the clock. 

Meanwhile, Wife and I watched the end of the Miss St / Alabama game then turned on Zero Dark Thirty

Sometime after turning on the movie, I heard the kids. They were done with the movie and were playing independently. Great! Their fights were brief and didn't require intervention. Then I heard them playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on Wii. Great! Then they turned on Disney Jr and watched Mickey Mouse Club. Great! 

Around 8:15, I went down with the intention of telling them to turn the TV off. Then I realized that it was the middle of the show and they'd been playing nicely and took care of themselves. So I told them that they could finish watching the show. When the show ended, they were to turn the TV off, clean up the DVDs left out, brush their teeth, get into pajamas and come to us for story time. Clockwork! They got it done.

One of the best things about being an at-home parent is that, while I sometimes fondly remember the kids as babies, I have no regrets about the time I'll never get back. I'm now watching them grow into independent, capable people. Yes, they're only 7- and 5-years-old, but their emerging confidence is a pleasure to witness.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Wave and Smile

On Tuesdays, I volunteer at the security desk at school. It is during lunch time, so I see kids from every grade come and go.

It is great seeing JD. He smiles and waves. He is proud that I'm there and happy to see me. Not only is he happy to see me, but all of the kids that I know, either because they have been in class with my kids or because I know their parents, wave and smile.

I must be doing something right.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Why I Get Involved

This email helped remind me why I get involved with my kids' community:

It was great meeting you briefly last week,and thanks for the update.

I have to tell you that (my daughter) did NOT want to go to soccer last week.  She had never played, and was nervous because she didn't know the rules.  The specific direction you gave her in the few minutes before the game, as well as the on-field instruction put her at ease.  I was strictly baseball/basketball growing up, so I am of no help!

After the game she told me how much she liked it...now your email recognizing her may drive her to be the next Mia Hamm!

At the end of the day we want her to have fun, build confidence and socialize.  Please know how much I appreciate your time and energy to make that happen.

Those are the comments that remind me that I do have a talent. Working with others. Keeping my house clean is not one of them. Creating and maintaining an efficient schedule is not one of them. Listening to others, providing constructive feedback, and providing direction are.

A little background: I am coaching JD's soccer team. While I have never coached soccer and haven't played since I was 7 or 8, working with kids comes naturally to me. I am a decent amateur athlete and enjoy learning the fundamentals of various sports. Having coached youth hockey, I was easily able to come up with a handful of drills that work for both sports, then see what works and doesn't work on a soccer field and adjust. I digress.

What I wanted to get to was how proud I was of JD last game. Four years ago, we tried soccer. Perhaps it was his maturity, perhaps it was emerging symptoms of Autism. Whatever it was, the last time was a disaster. Wife and I didn't know if he would ever be able to participate in team sports. While that wouldn't have been a life tragedy, it would have been another example from the poem, Welcome to Holland, by Perl Kingsley. 

So JD has shown greater capacity to participate in team sports over the last year from observing him on the playground. Participating in gym class and easing into sports with baseball and park district programs have also helped. 

Last Saturday, it all came together. JD was in the play. He was watching the play. He got the ball and was trying to make intelligent passes. He had two shots on goal. It was a successful day.

I give a lot of my time, my family's time, and time with my family to our community, whether it's being President of our school's "Friends of" organization, volunteering at school, or coaching. What is emerging is that it's something that I'm good at. There is value in my presence. I am making a difference in the lives my my family and other families. And that makes me feel great.

Friday, August 22, 2014

You fight, I'll push

The kids and I were at a play date with close family friends. Their daughter is two years younger than Bunny and they play together.

Sometimes they get involved in the boys fighting games. They have two boys, 7 and 5. JD is 7.

Bunny had found a baby and stroller. Their girl wielded a light sabre, chasing the boys. She saw Bunny and became interested. Bunny took the handlebar, turned to her friend and said, " You fight, I'll push." Into battle they strode.