Things I’ve Learned In My Time As A Parent. (Volume 1)

A realistic view of things that are learned through the first couple years of parenthood.

As I write this, I’ve been a parent for 1,344 days, and a parent of two kids for 516 days. I’m by no means an expert, but I think I’m getting OK at it. According to what I hear on the news nowadays, I think I’m in the top 90th percentile. This isn’t going to be one of those “parenting is the best job in the world” bits, I promise. There is a lot that I have already learned as a parent, a lot more left to learn, but here is what I know so far. This is the real sh*t I’ve learned.

1.) I’ve never almost counted to three so many times in my life.

Continue reading “Things I’ve Learned In My Time As A Parent. (Volume 1)”

I met Destiny

This past weekend, I was swimming in a hotel pool with my 3-year-old daughter Grace. She can’t really swim, so I was basically holding her life jacket while she kicked and splashed. She loved it. I’m not big into swimming, but I love watching my kids have fun; so it was really enjoyable. The pool was warm, a bit crowded; but we had fun.

About 10 minutes into our Saturday morning swimming, a very quiet and shy little girl wearing green arm floaties came directly up to me and very quietly asked if she could play with us. She softly said her name was Destiny, and I would guess she was probably 4-6. I did a pretty thorough glance around to see if I could see some sort of parent figure looking at her or me; and didn’t see anyone that caught my eye. Regardless, she seemed pretty harmless, I asked Grace if she cared if Destiny played with us. Always one to make new friends, she said “Sure!”.

Well, Destiny was much more interested in me helping to hold her up by the strap on the back of her arm floaties so she could swim better (as I was doing with Grace), than playing with Grace. Since Grace is my daughter, I’m obviously going to be much more attentive to her and making sure she was having a blast. Unfortunately, I got to the point where I was almost ignoring Destiny. Not because she wanted to play, or anything like that; she was a sweet, albeit a little awkward, little girl. Because I wanted to make sure that I didn’t have to rescue my own kid from the bottom of the pool. Now, conversely, in the back of my mind during all of this was “what happens if I look over and this little girl goes under while I’m playing with my kid”. The whole ordeal is getting a bit stressful at this point. I glance around for some sort of parent/guardian for Destiny…nothing. :(

Parents, am I wrong to admit that in a situation where my kid and your kid are both going under water; that I’m saving my kid 10 times out of 10? Once mine is safe, I’ll go for yours, I promise. But am I a terrible person for admitting that? Look, I’ll save as many people as I can-given the opportunity, but my kids are going to be my first priority in a safety situation. Please tell me I’m not a jerk for thinking this way.

About an hour later Destiny was still there, but I think she was slowly getting the hint that if she didn’t want to play with Grace, I wasn’t really enjoying having to watch her as well. I felt really bad, but I’m not very good in those situations. Still no parent figure that I could see either, and I’ve had Lasik.

**For the first time in any of my blog posts, I’m going to have a point, and I’m getting to that point very soon-I promise.**

All of a sudden, out of nowhere, this giant inflatable ball appears! This thing was so cool!! The kids in the pool, young and old, loved it. So I grabbed Grace and we ran around the pool with the other kids ‘booping’ it back in the air like we were at a rock concert. This went on for about 20-30 minutes and then it was time for us to head back to the room to eat lunch, and I was out of breath.

As I’m getting out of the pool, Destiny floats over and again, very quietly says something to me: “I haven’t gotten to touch it”. I didn’t really know what she was talking about (I’m not bright), so I think I looked at her a little weird before realizing that she meant she hadn’t gotten to play with the ball that all of the other kids were playing with. I didn’t know what to say to her, so I said “well, keep trying!”. As you can tell, Tony Robbins and I are basically the same person…

As Grace and I are walking away, the ball comes flying out of the pool right towards us-slow motion style. I corral the beast and this 10-12 year old girl comes running up to throw it back in. So, I stopped her quick and said “NO RUNNING BY THE POOL!!!” Just kidding. I actually said: “Hey, this little girl right here (pointing to Destiny) hasn’t gotten to touch the ball yet”. “OK!” the girl said and pointed right at little Destiny and under hand threw it right towards her!

It went over her head.
https://giphy.com/embed/OWpMbuG5W4r4Y

BUT! Since kids now days are becoming more awesome because they’re being forced to (See: Parkland, Florida). I know, I said no political talk, but let’s be honest; when you were in high school, were you doing/thinking the things that these kids are? No, the answer is no-you weren’t.

Anyways, The other kids all heard the conversation that I had with the girl outside of the pool, so they caught the ball and walked it over to Destiny so she could throw it in the air.

You guys, she lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. It was so much fun to watch her instantly being able to play with the rest of the kids around her. It made me really feel good that Grace was able to see the whole thing as my wife and I always stress being nice to everyone to her. Now, I’m not telling this story to make myself sound like this great and wonderful person; I can do that on my own-just ask me. I wanted to tell the story to remind people, that sometimes a very small act of kindness can make a person’s entire day. Not only will I remember how much fun Grace and I had while we were swimming, I’ll also remember the look on little Destiny’s face when she finally got to be included with her newfound friends.

Also, I still didn’t see any parents to watch their child have the best time of the their swimming session. I’ll blog more on my thoughts on THAT particular issue and other observations from the hotel later this week.

Have a great rest of your week everyone.

-ML

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Still winter…

As you probably know, I live in Minnesota. Living in Minnesota, there are two things every year that you can bet on. It is going to snow and it is going to be cold–you can’t avoid it. Minnesotans, for the most part, embrace the cold and fluffy winter snows. We joke about it, we laugh at the southern states when they get a “dusting” and all hell breaks loose; and for a couple times a year, we enjoy the bragging rights of owning the coldest city in the contiguous lower 48 states-International Falls. This year, even the Super Bowl branded the events leading up to the big game around the hashtage #BoldNorth. Its cold and it snows, but I challenge you to tell me another natural event that can transform a landscape from dull and dirty to clean and bright like a fresh coat of snow. That is, of course, until we dump salt and sand everywhere making it look more like a spilled chocolate malt than a winter wonderland.

When we get the first snowfall of the year, everyone seems to embrace it and we say things to each other like “Well, I think this is here to stay”, “Have you gotten your snowblower ready, yet?”, and my personal favorite: “They’re predicting a bad one this year”. Who is? The talking weather heads on TV with the inevitable weather reports claiming that the next winter storm will be the end of life as we know it. Dramatically, we still find a way to survive. The first snow, will always bring two things: 1.) the obligatory “my view of the snow is more beautiful than your view of the snow” social media pictures, and 2.) Idiots. . . Every. Single. Year. The idiots come out of hiding.

Living in Minnesota, we have winter 4-5 months out of the year. We claim that we know how to survive in it. Yet every year, there seems to be a 3 month learning curve for some people remembering how to drive in snow again. Now, I get it; if you’re driving safely and something happens that’s one thing; Or, if you’re a 16 year old kid trying it out for the first time-you get a free pass for a couple years. However, if you pass me at 92mph in a snowstorm driving a 250lb Ford Focus while adjusting the radio; you’re an idiot. If my kids are in the car and the road conditions are “iffy at best”, I’m going 18mph–tops. You can flick me off, you can make fun of me, I don’t care. I’m not an idiot (when it comes to winter driving-other topics are up for debate). Also, every year we also hear about someone who thinks that the 3 day old ice is going to be strong enough to hold their 18,000lb SUV so they can shave 4 minutes off of their commute or get a fish before everyone else does. Unfortunately, a lot of these end up tragic.

With a 3 year old daughter who loves being outside, it makes the winter a little more manageable. I never thought at age 32, that I would voluntarily jump headfirst into a snow bank just to hear a 2 second giggle from a kid! There is something about those laughs that is almost addicting…once you can get your kid to genuinely laugh and smile at something you are doing; it’s really hard to stop! The “playing outside” days seem to be few and far between, but they definitely make you appreciate the time that you get with the kiddos in the snow. Ultimately, every winter that passes gets one more winter closer to my kids not wanting to go outside and play in the snow with dad.

December comes and goes, and the same with January. Once the calendar turns to February, even the most die-hard winter lovers are doing the ‘ol “Oooooookaaaayyy. I’m ready for this to be done”, full well knowing that we have at least another month and a half left. I’m not even sure it’s the snow that makes us start to despise winter-I think its the cold. 3 straight months of being cold and paying high heating bills start to take their toll.

The silver lining is that the weather is generally warmer in February/March and the sun stays out past 4:15pm. If you have kids like I do; it is so much more appealing to bring them out to play in the snow when its 30 degrees (this probably still sounds cold to some, but remember #boldnorth) than when it’s -20. The sun also seems warmer as well. But that might be because we haven’t’ seen the damn thing since Thanksgiving either, I’m not sure.

Also-Groundhog Day is the dumbest thing that has ever been used to predict anything. Groundhog Day doesn’t apply to Minnesota. We’re having 6 weeks more of winter every year, I promise.

When March arrives, it might as well be June 20th. If you’re looking to people watch, come to Minnesota and watch the native Minnesotans walk around in our shorts and T-shirts, myself included. Prime people watching time is around mid-March, book your hotel now. After months of being cryogenically frozen, it doesn’t take much to thaw us out. 50 degrees should do the trick.

All things being equal, and they’re not, Minnesota winters can actually very fun and Minnesotans DO enjoy it for the most part. We embrace the cold, we embrace the snow, and it makes us get that much more excited for Spring, Summer, and Fall (by far the best 2 weeks of the year in Minnesota). There are so many things to do (personally, I don’t do many–but I know people who do and they seem to enjoy them): Ice fishing, downhill skiing, ice skating, dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, sledding, pond hockey, snowmobiling (I’ll have a blog post about my near-death experience on a snowmobile in the future), snow-kiting, fat-tire biking, and snow-shoveling. The last one sucks, but people do it I guess for “exercise” or something like that.

-ML