All posts tagged: parenting

“Second Grade” Makes Me Shudder

I’m astounded at the level of learning my second grader is experiencing. I don’t remember reading chapter books in second grade. I barely remember knowing my ABC’s. I certainly didn’t know how to calculate complicated word problems with the inexplicable American coin system, and I sure as hell wasn’t doing multiplication. So I’m impressed. As my second grader grows every more independent (read: irascibly defiant), I constantly think, “Was I this way in second grade at age seven?” And then I remember: I have very little recollection of second grade, because for me, second grade was dealing with a father who was at death’s door from his long-suffering cancer and a mother who was loving but tremendously distracted, as well. And after my father’s death in November of second grade, the rest of the year was dealing with being “Gavin, the kid whose dad died, this year.” That’s quite a realization I’m trying to absorb. Every single time I say the two words, “second grade” I’m transported to a year of sickness, accidents, falling, crying, …

Kids: Bend the Rules

I’m a rule-follower because I think society operates better when we are all on the same page. And at the same time, life’s tough; we all need to give each other a little help from time to time, right? And sometimes rules need to be bent. Check out my entitled rant… I rode my kid to a swimming lesson on our Yuba bike. For once, we were on time. The swimming lesson takes place in a community college swimming pool, so 7 year-olds and their dads are not the top priority. Upon arrival, I realized I’d forgotten my bike lock key. (Long story, but I ride this bike so rarely I stupidly took the key off my keychain thinking “I’ll definitely never forget to bring this.” And for me to ever say “’l’ll definitely never forget this” is a laugh line to beat all laugh lines.”) Anywho. I walked into the pool entrance and charmingly asked the security guard, “Could I please stash my bike in the corner, here?” Readers – I promise you, it …

Ignoring My Little One

My blog started out as a fashion/parenting blog of unsolicited opinions. Then, I got distracted by just complaining about how difficult and needy was my youngest son. For the last year, or so, all I do is talk about my older kid. And not one of you has requested updates on my younger, needy little tyke. How dare you. But so I don’t seem like my entire world is consumed by my older kiddo, let me report to you: my youngest is the bee’s knees, the cutest, the cuddliest, the most sickeningly adorablest, smiling-est, most wonderful little kiddo in the world. I’ve never been the type to state, “I could just eat him up.” But truly: I wish I could devour this little guy. I love both my children equally.  (Yeah, right, you’re snidely thinking….and justifiably.) But my little one gets extra points for sheer cuteness. He sits in our laps to read books, climbs in bed and snuggles in the morning,  has an impish grin that melts hearts the world round. Years ago, my …

Wait – Is this for Me or Them?

(Disclaimer: this is a long overdue follow-up to my ballet missive from a few weeks ago…reading that first will make a helluva lot more sense.) And then I think, “Wait. I don’t even want my kid to be a ballerina/o. I’m just a cheap SOB who wants free lessons at the most prestigious ballet schools in the country!” (Also, it’s fun to take lessons in the same building as Julliard.) But still – ballet teaches total conformity. No one may stand out, you’re a member of a corps-de-ballet and complete anonymity is the name of the game. I have even experienced that in certain Broadway shows – when you’re part of an ensemble, there might occasionally be time for showing acting expression. But in big dance numbers, wrists need to be uniformly flexed, arms inconspicuously stretched, and jumps need to be measurably consistent. The ensemble often is not a place to stand out – and certainly not in ballet. In my tiger dad moments, I obsess over wanting my children to be leaders, take risks, …

Kids: Please Don’t Follow (too many) Rules

I’m nice and I strove to please my teachers. But nice people who please teachers don’t paint the Sistine Chapel. They don’t break sound barriers. They don’t develop Apple Computers, right? Crazy people who break rules and smash conventions do big shit. I say that I just want my kids to be happy. But also kind. And smart. And independent. And creative. And change the world. No pressure, kids. Of course I want my kids to be trailblazers. Like the kids about whom the teachers throw up their arms and say “what am I going to do with you?” And then they end up being Einstein. But aren’t genius/artistic/world-changers often miserable, asocial sad-sacks destined to substance-abuse who cut off their own ears and live within prisons of their own artistic genius? So then will they be happy? Maybe we should just hope for nice. But am I trying to raise  nice kids? Those rule-following, vanilla, boring goody-two-shoes? (Who wants to be nice, anyway? Nice is so…insipid. Do you ever want to share a drink with …

The Reason for the Season

Though I loathe the culture war centered around “putting the ‘Christ’ back into ‘Christmas’”, I’m definitely one who wants my children to know the reason behind every season, or in most cases…holiday. This applies most especially to holidays as “abstract” as Veteran’s Day. Yesterday my older kid jumped with joy as she celebrated having THREE DAYS OF MORNING TELEVISION this weekend. Uncharacteristically, I held my tongue so as not to deflate her joy. I’ll save the posturing about Veteran’s Day for the actual day. I’m feeling particularly attached to Veteran’s Day, this year, because of the 100th anniversary of the WWI armistice. I’ve always been masochistically fascinated by WWI. It never fails to send a sobering chill down my spine to reflect on the first war in which men were able to massacre acres of men without catching sight of each other. The wide-scale use of machine guns, tanks, airplanes and trench warfare that wasted a generation all because of agreements between insecure, rich white men trying to keep their place in the upper-class mastering the …

So That’s Where We Are, Now

Welp, we’ve hit another funky milestone. We’re trying on different pronouns in our household. Before school started, my partner and I asked the big kid, “What would you like to say, this year? ‘He’ or ‘she’?” Kiddo answered sheepishly, “She.” Oh. Okay. So there we are. An hour later, we were discussing my show, Head Over Heels,in which a trans actress plays a non-binary character. My older kid is officially obsessed with this gender-bending character (played by Peppermint, the drag queenfamous for her stellar turn on RuPaul’s Drag Raceas well as for being the first contestant who was outwardly trans beforecompeting on RuPaul.) In the conversation with my kiddo, I had to backtrack withhersaying, “But wait. You know Peppermint is a trans woman playing a non-binary role?” “Yeah! A ‘they’. Like me! I’m ‘they’!” Oh. Okay. So there we are. An hour later, I sat with her/theyand said, “Now, sweetie, do you want me to say something to your teachers about how you want to be addressed?” “Daddy,” she/they said, “can we stop talking about …

Battling the Ballet

My older son’s going through his ”I’m going to put on a dance show for you” phase. I’m the asshole parent who immediately hounds him, “Okay, I’ll watch. BUT – I need to see a beginning, middle and end. We need a storyline, here, kiddo. Also? No more than three songs.” Because Daddy’s got other stuff to do. Oh, and performance standards. No. I’m not exaggerating any of that. Way to take the fun out of everything, Dad. But these dance “recitals” are an unwatchable combination of a bad drag show and, well…I think I can stop there. Just bad drag. Whenever we ask if he wants to take dance, he says, “Daddy, I’m already a great dancer.” Yeah, no. Until this year, we didn’t push it. No need to over-schedule in first grade. But I heard about an excellent dance studio that gives free ballet lessons to boys. And because I’m a cheap SOB, I was all about that. But then, approaching the audition time, I started to go down my normal cerebral rabbit hole …

Being a Gender Hypocrite

I’m sitting, watching both my kids play soccer in summer camp, right now. I can’t believe my gender-fluid kid is playing soccer. I mean, last week, when my younger one took his lesson, the older was impressed there was a girl in his class. So this week? Older was mildly curious. And the next week? Suddenly he’s playing. This is amazing. And stupefying. He insists he doesn’t want to play soccer, but he jumped in with only mild prodding by me just five minutes ago. I want to expose my kids to everything. Being well-rounded makes life so much richer. I loved being a college athlete and artist and academic, simultaneously. I’ve often been conflicted about sports because our culture is already so ridiculously Type-A, competition-obsessed, but I think playing a game and exercise are interests to cultivate. Plus, if you at least know the rules and have basic skills in a sport, life’s just easier and more fun. And less frustrating when you’re stuck at a high school retreat for the student council and …

#MeToo and Douchebaggery

I’m late to the #MeToo conversation surrounding sexual harassment, but I’ve encountered fewer men weighing in than I’d expect. I know this is a time when men should often just shut up and listen. (Bad timing for some man-splaining?) But I also think dads and sons and brothers should be part of the conversation. This isn’t the time for anyone to ask, “but this all happened so long ago. Why bring it up, now?” (Because it still matters. Even you, Keillor.) This isn’t the time for postulating, “Yeah, it was bad, but should it really ruin someone’s life?” (Well, Spacey, maybe you should’ve thought about that before thinking with your groin. You weren’t 13. You were in your 20’s. You knew better.) Women: I’ll probably put my foot in my mouth wading into this delicate issue. So maybe I should just be speaking to the menfolk. But I have to say: I’m loving this. I love this zero-tolerance-for-douche-baggery moment we’re witnessing. And I hope it changes our culture for the good. Several female friends of …