Year: 2014

Canine Crisis, Chapter 3

So we took Maddie to Wizard of Paws. I expected a field with dogs in various states of rehab: retired greyhounds trotting around a track, a shallow pool with black labs lounging, two Chihuahuas on pillows (pool-side), surrounded by Taco Bell wrappers. But I forgot about the whole “we don’t board dogs” part. (Except for Maddie). Wizard of Paws is a PT clinic like any for humans (located in a pseudo strip mall) with therapy tables, foam rollers and balance boards. When I walked in with Maddie (in my arms), there was a boxer walking in the aqua-therapy tank. A DOG was walking (and barking proudly) on a treadmill in a whirlpool. I introduced myself and put Maddie down on the wood floor. She dragged herself toward the exit. Deb (the owner) greeted me and was nonplussed by Maddie’s condition. “No problem. We’ll take care of her.” I nervously explained, “Here’s her food, medication, do you want me to show you how to express her bladder, <<more on that in chapter 3>> I’m sure you’ve …

Canine Crisis, Chapter 2

Chapter 2’s “Gavin look” morphs from Chapter 1. The second edition is wide, expressionless eyes with pursed smile. It says, “I’m placating you. Now stop talking and leave.” Google shows three canine acupuncturists serving Manhattan. That such specialists exist surprised me, but then, that there were only three in NYC also surprised me. One of them kindly arrived 24 hours after I called. “Oh, you have kids?” were her first words as Ellison and Colton screamed, running by the door. She was not delighted. Gavin look. “Hm-hmm,” I responded. Off to a great start. She was a driven, direct type who puts non-New Yorkers ill at ease. My partner fled her demeanor by volunteering to play with the kids. Immediately she quizzed me.“Do you have a PT routine for Maddie?” Gavin look. “Hm-hmm,” I nodded. “How many times a day?” “Um…” I tried to sugar coat. “I help her stand and take her outside to pee.” She inserted needles into Maddie’s rump, legs and toes. Maddie didn’t react. After all, her nerves weren’t working. “Hm.” …

2 Ways I Put Christ Back into Christmas. No Kidding.

I’m wrestling with how to put Christ into Christmas for my sons. This is Ellison’s (3yo) first Christmas where he “gets” it. But I’m afraid “getting it” means only, “Santa brings me Rocky and Peter Sam!” (*Friends of Thomas) I’m concerned he’ll be a kid who tears through gifts, ungraciously casting aside Uncle Terry’s educational puzzle, and demands, “Where’s Rocky!?!” (*FOT) At the risk of sounding FOX-like, I’m waging my own war on Christmas. I won’t allow my kids to take part in our seasonal consuming frenzy without understanding

Canine Crisis, Part 1

So this post requires audience participation. Please contort your face with me: wide-eyed, mouth-slightly-agape and vaguely smiling. You’re stupefied when you’ve just been told you need to make a $5,000 dollar deposit for a medical procedure. For your dog. It’s a look that says, “I’m sorry, whaaaaaaat?” It’s a laughline . Cue audience tittering. Let’s call it “The Gavin Look”. Several weeks ago, our kids and sitter were playing normally with our dog, Madison (Maddie). Suddenly Maddie yelped and lay down. The kids ran toward her and, when she tried to escape, she drug her back legs behind her. Just dragged them. When I got home, I saw she was, indeed, paralyzed. I took her to a 24-hour dog hospital. (Only in NYC). Before leaving, my partner said, “If they have to put her down, don’t let it happen tonight. We have to say goodbye.” Gulp. I walked into the hospital carrying Maddie and said, “Uh…my dog’s back legs aren’t working.” Within seconds, a vet led me to an exam room. After a quick look, …

The Single Measure of Parenting Success

I never fell apart. I felt bereft for hours and sad for days; but what most strikes me about the weeks and months after my mom’s unexpected death was that I never fell apart. (I got “the call” 7 years ago, today.) I was sad and lonely at the thought of facing life without either of my parents (Dad died when I was 8, plus I’m an only child). And I was overwhelmed by planning a funeral and closing an estate. But I never fell apart. As parents we stress about our kids measuring up to our expectations. We “just want the best for them”, (but secretly hope they’ll be the smartest and most talented and most accomplished…oh, and happiest.) We want them to win at Field Day and avoid broken hearts. We hope they’ll “go” Ivy League, find the

#tearlesscrying

My second born son, Colton, is a magnificent study in extremes. He is adorable. He could charm the wallpaper off the walls. His seductive grin makes mincemeat of the hardest of child-hating hearts. And at the opposite extreme, what I call: #tearlesscrying. Not tantrums. It’s worse. He whines incessantly. Seriously, y’all. It’s soul-sucking. Believe me, Colton does not lack for coddling. Remember the whole ‘He’s so cute” bit? He’ll snuggle for hours. (Well, 15 minutes). It’s heaven

Giving Thanks: My Mom Made Me a Dad

Last night, as I opened a beer seconds after putting my boys down, I felt gratitude that they most likely won’t wake for 10½ hours. I am so lucky to have sleepers. As I sipped, I thought about gratitude. It was a Hallmark Channel moment. And I was reminded: the strongest thanks I can give this (and every) year is to my mom…for making me a dad. I write about her in the past tense. Six years ago, she died unexpectedly from a cardial arrhythmia. Doctors said it’s the way we all want to go: one second you’re here, then you’re not. I was suddenly an orphan (my father passed when I was 8 years old). There are worse tragedies in the world, but in our culture, 32 is young to be parentless. Thanks to

A Limerick, A Haiku, An Ode

Let it be know, that on the 21st day of the month of November, in the year of our parenting lords, 2014, my eldest son, who’d blessed me with so much sleep time for 39 months, gave up his afternoon nap. I may only express myself through poetry to face my new hell. LIMERICK There once was a toddler who slept, And made all his dad’s friends verklempt. Until that one day, When the nap went away Now Dad looks at life with

Being a “Broadway Daddy”

I was leading a tour of friends backstage at ANNIE (in 2013) when I described my schedule: “We’ve got eight shows a week, including Wednesday and Saturday matinees.” “Whoa. How do you do it? When do you see your kids?” “Oh, it’s great,” I said. “I get to spend all day with them five times a week. Before leaving in the evening, I feed them and they basically go to bed an hour after I leave.” “When do you get home?” “Eleven thirty.” “You must be exhausted.” “Well, it’s a good exhaustion.” But this description was filtered. Usually I say, “I’m stuck ALL DAMN DAY

4 of My Mom’s Parenting Traits I Hope to Leave Behind

My mom was the best. And she was doubly amazing for having raised me after my father died when I was 8. She devoted her very being, to me. I’m eternally grateful. Aaaaaand…as with us all, there are a few things I hope to do differently. I’m probably doomed (or blessed) to repeat what I see as mistakes, but are probably in my genetic makeup. KEEPING UP APPEARANCES Mom was perpetually preoccupied with outward appearances,