By Daddy Clay Tuesday, December 8th, 2009
As a spectator, it is very difficult to root against your kid. I know because I’ve tried it and failed miserably.
Let’s be clear. I’m a good dad. But like most good dads, I sometimes want my son’s sports teams to lose. Like the time when he was playing soccer and if he won the last game of the season, his team would go to the playoffs. And the playoffs were in Harlingen, Texas. And Harlingen, Texas sucks. (Apologies to my Harlingen readers, but they know it sucks.) The team won.
Or the time my son was playing in the playoffs in Harlingen and if they won they would go to the State Finals. And the State Finals were in Beaumont, Texas. And Beaumont, Texas sucks. (Apologies to my Beaumont readers, who don’t generally know that Beaumont sucks, but it sucks.) The team won.
In both cases, I hoped that his team would lose to spare me endless hours in the car, stays at mid-level chain hotels, sketchy chain restaurant food, day-long stretches in folding chairs next to fellow parents that I know sorta-well but not quite, and heart wrenching games decided at the last minute with high emotional stakes for the kids (a combo meal of goodness that would also tally several hundred dollars). No dice.
The problem, as any sideline dad will tell you, is that you can’t really root against your kid’s team, no matter how grim or expensive the consequences of a win. Even if part of you doesn’t want to give up another weekend and miss being with the other kids and the spouse while dust gathers on the lengthy holiday to-do list. Can’t do it.
Instead, you sit on the sidelines with your guts churning over a 1-1 tie that is stretching into the final moments of the semi-final that determines who will go to State. You try hard to remind yourself that it’s just 11-year-olds playing a game you know nothing about, but when the winning goal sails in, you jump up and scream your head off and hug the other parents that you now feel like you know pretty well. You snap pictures, and hastily put on your sunglasses even though it’s cloudy.
This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t root against your kid’s sports teams, just that it’s very hard to do. Trust me.
Tags: bubba, soccer, son, sports teams, youth sports Posted in Sports |
By Daddy Brad Monday, March 2nd, 2009
I am a big proponent of using positive re-enforcement as the leading tool in my parenting behavior modification arsenal. Unfortunately, sometimes you just have to bring out the negative consequences when they just won’t listen to your words. In order for this tactic to work, it is key that you know what really makes your kids tick. Don’t assume that you know what your children really hold dear. Be patient in your discipline, choose the right tool and you will have little angels in no time.
My son is still struggling with the morning routine, ie brushing teeth, combing hair and getting dressed without tons of foot dragging and back talk. Yesterday was a particularly difficult morning and I was forced to begin taking fun things away as the situation worsened.
First to go was TV time, “ brush your teeth by the time I count to 5 or no TV today.” No movement.
Next computer time, “that shirt better be on your body by the time I get back or no computer time this afternoon.” When I return he’s still sporting pajamas.
Frustrated, I began to increase the severity, “I am going to feed the dog and if you are not ready to walk out the door by the time I get back no outside after-school playtime for a whole week. “ Nothing.
Now I am really grasping. Have I ratcheted up the punishment to quickly? What do I do now? I have backed myself into a corner and I may not get out. Next I’ll have to take away the prom or college.
Completely exasperated I blurt out “mister if you don’t get ready right this instant no desert!” Wild with fear he screams “Oh Please Daddy Not Desert.”
Pajamas fly, toothbrush whizzes and hair is combed instantly as he runs out the door toward the car for the trip to school.
Damn, that kid loves ice cream.
Tags: behavior, discipline, ice cream, routines, son Posted in Fatherhood |
By Daddy Brad Monday, January 12th, 2009
“Uneasy Rider” is one of my favorite CDB tunes. A wonderful story about a hippie, a flat tire, widely differing political views, three rednecks, a drunk girl and a dude with green teeth. The moral of the story is that when you have a destination in mind; always follow the road that will take you there with the least amount of avoidable trouble. It seems that Charlie was speaking directly to me when he wrote these lyrics. You see in my parenting journey, I often take the road fraught with unnecessary hard ship and frustration and I do it over and over again. When will I learn, do what works first? I am also concerned that my son is going to end up like the dude with green teeth. Not necessarily that he will spend his adult life hanging out with red necks and drunk girls, at bars at 2 in the afternoon while he should be working, but that he will have green teeth.
Lately he has been resistant to brushing his teeth, especially in the morning. This has produced frustration in our get ready for school routine. In fact, getting him to brush his teeth has been harder than pulling teeth, which is exactly what we are going to have to do if he keeps up his stubborn aversion to dental hygiene. So once again, I faced the problem taking the following bone headed steps.
Below is my circuitous travel log down the hygiene highway.
Bribery. Purchased super hero toothpaste and fancy electric toothbrushes. This worked for a while but soon the novelty faded and we were back to square one.
Battle of Wills. I say, “we can stand here all day if you want but you are not leaving this bathroom until you brush those teeth.” Turns out we would have stood there all day but I had to go to work and he would love to miss school.
Scare Tactics. I suggest that if he doesn’t brush, the dentist will have to drill holes in his teeth and drilling is painful. Unfortunately, prior trips to the dentist have been really fun. Did you know that modern dentist offices have televisions in the ceilings and more video games than they do dental dams? A trip to the dentist is better than a trip to the arcade.
Punishment. I threaten, “If you don’t brush your teeth there will be no screen time, no playing outside and no dessert.” That just leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.
Establish Healthy Pattern & Provide Positive Reinforcement. We agree upon a deal. If he eats his vegetables and brushes his teeth without complaining for two straight weeks, he gets a pair of Heelys. He really wants a pair of Heelys. And as long as the successful pattern continues, he keeps the reward.
Guess what? The clear expectations and positive reinforcement thing really works. Duhhhh. It always does.
Why can’t I learn just to go LA via Omaha?
Tags: dental hygiene, heelys, son, teeth, tootbrushing Posted in Brushing Teeth, Health |
By Daddy Clay Monday, December 1st, 2008
The ball arced gently through the air, a perfect spiral, aimed precisely at Coop’s open arms. But as the ball approached, a light of recognition went on, and Coop quickly turned around and the pass plonked him in the back. He then happily turned around to fetch the ball. Then he ran away with it.
The beautiful pass came not from me, but from a boy exactly Coop’s age.
That’s when it dawned on me that I ought to play catch with the boy more often.
It is the most archetypical dad-child activity, the game of catch, and I’ve always had a strict Always Say ‘Yes’ When Asked to Play Catch policy. But my youngest doesn’t ask much. And I’ve become less likely to initiate sports activities as the kids have gotten older and more independent.
As the visiting friend and his dad (a varsity coach at a major Div 1 university) threw perfect Father’s Day poster-worthy passes to each other, I spiraled down into parental guilt. When did I stop playing catch with the kids? When was the last time I built a fort? Or led an activity? Am I that old? That fat?
I work on a parenting website! This cannot stand! I must research activities on the internet. I need to pull out all the kits in the shelves and do them all at once; build the Eiffel Tower out of K’nex; take them all own to the soup kitchen and hand out ladles. I am going to create an intramural badmitton league complete with round robin playoff. I will be active!
Wii does not count! Wii does not count!
I come out of my guiltfog as Coop looks up at me. I buckle the strap on his helmet. He tells me he loves me and pedals off.
There is something to be said for just being present (I’m good at that). But I’m not letting myself off the hook that easily. I need that one extra thing a week. More than just snuggling. More than reading before bed. More than driving to games and events. More than sitting down to dinner. One moment of full engagement around a shared activity.
Seems like my New Year’s resolution showed up a month early.
Tags: coop, guilt, kids activities, play catch, son Posted in Fatherhood, Sports |
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