November 30th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I don’t remember the crime, just the punishment. My Dad stood us before him as he conducted psychological warfare from his seat on the couch. The glare. The tormenting, rhetorical questions. “Does he want me to answer that or will an answer just get him more pissed?” The demeaning tone. And the intermittent silence with more glaring. All the while he held a flyswatter in his right hand. And without warning, like a lefty pitcher with a great move to first base, he’d burst to swat us across the upper arm. Crack! Man, that thing hurt. The wiry, metal neck was just thin enough to give it that flex for that all important whip effect while being just thick enough to deliver a proper blow. Adding insult to injury was the knowledge that you were being hit with of all things, a flyswatter. You kill bugs with that thing! Once he showed us why he was holding the flyswatter, then his sporadic, unpredictable delivery became yet another weapon in his psychological arsenal. “Just hit us already, and be done with it!” No, no. It was never that easy. We’d have to endure what felt like hours of this, this cruel and unusual punishment until he was convinced we were loathe to ever do “that” again.
Funny thing was, in our house, my Mom carried the bigger stick. She used whatever was near: sticks, rods, whatever. She once came after me with an aluminum crutch. Although she packed more heat, she wasn’t the scary one. She could not hide her kind-heartedness even as she chased me wielding menacingly that aluminum crutch. We knew there was a cap to what she was capable of. My Dad? He got more done with a flyswatter than my Mom could have with a baseball bat.
November 20th, 2012 § 2 Comments
She walked in like the big hen into her chicken coop. Except, it wasn’t her chicken coop; it was ours … well, our apartment. Handing me the dinner she’d prepared for us – a much appreciated gesture for those foggy, sleep deprived days – she walked past me with her own two kids in tow, and made straight for my wife and the child in her arms. Not long after taking a peak, she launched into a series of questions. Her tone was self-assured; the pacing, deliberate. Clearly, she’d done this before.
“Are you planning on putting him on a schedule?”
“Yes. You know, a feeding schedule? Nap schedule.”
The couple look at each other and find in the other’s expression exactly what they’re each feeling: Lost and guilty. The young father thinks, “I haven’t put myself on a schedule.”
“Um, no. We hadn’t … uh.”
“Oh, have you read _____ by ‘So and so’?”
Again the couple look at each other for answers.
“No. We haven’t even heard of that book.”
“Well, you have to read it. It’s so good. Children need structure. It’s comforting to them. A schedule really helps with that. Get them into a good rhythm. It makes them happy. Just read the book; it explains everything.”
The father looks at the lady’s two kids to see if they look happy. They mostly look bored.
I don’t recall anything else about her visit. I do remember though, when she left, we were glad to see her go. We never did read that book. We knew almost nothing about parenting, but we had the good sense to know that there was no “secret” way, no “surefire” method. And certainly the answer could not possibly be in this ostentatiously titled book.
I’m not saying we oughtn’t read books on parenting. In fact over the years, we’ve done quite a bit of reading. We’ve sought counsel; asked questions of both parents and children. What I am saying is there is no “One Way” to raise a child well. Every kid is different. Unique. Beautifully complex. Sure there are principles. I even believe there are principles immune to the wears of time, to the nuances of culture. But because every kid is different, these principles cannot be applied uniformly with the expectation of netting “happy” kids. I don’t buy it; there’s no “One Way”.
November 16th, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Pick a Winner
My beloved team went on a six game losing streak. I’m done. Where did it all go wrong? Felt good after the draft. Felt strong. On paper, my team looked solid if not phenomenal with lots of potential for upside. And then came out of the gates with the groan to never really find her stride. Why? Let’s take a look. It’d be a shame to go through all this without learning a lesson. And here’s an important one: Pick a winner.
Rarely do you get a player in fantasy who puts up nice numbers while wallowing on a losing team. You can have all the talent in the world, but without the opportunities the talent lies mostly dormant. My six game losing streak was due in no small part to the dismal teams my players represent. Philadelphia Eagles, Tennessee Titans, San Diego Chargers, Carolina Panthers, the Buffalo Bills. That’s a list of who’s who of coaches getting fired at the end of the season. I mean can you think of a more comprehensive list of disappointing teams?
Now take a quick scan in your mind of players on winning teams: Atlanta Falcons, New England Patriots, Houston Texans, Denver Broncos, and even the Indianapolis Colts. Right? Nice numbers.
It’s tricky. The Eagles were the sexy preseason pick to win the NFC East. And Buffalo looked like they were stacking for a run at the Pats. And who had the Broncos being an offensive juggernaut? And Indy at 6-3? Nevertheless, the lesson here is a player is not an island. More often than not they are as good as the ten other guys on the field around them. Can you imagine what Larry Fitzgerald would do as part of the New England Patriots receiving corps?
To the degree you can pick a winner preseason will determine you picking winners in your draft.