The Uber Parent

uberIf you work in, or have gone out in a city (or even some suburban areas) you probably know the concept of Uber – on demand rides.  The concept is pretty simple, you download an app, load in your credit card information – and when you need a ride you click a few buttons and your ride shows up ready to go.  We now live in the age of the Uber Parent though – and this could very well be my next app.

As an only parent, I don’t have a lock on this market certainly.  Any parent or set of parents with one or more teen-aged child who doesn’t drive knows the feeling.  Starting on Friday afternoon – there’s a text from a child and you’re in your car off to the races taking someone (or a small group) someplace.

The great thing about Uber is passengers get to rate the drivers and drivers get to rate the passengers – the higher your rating (both as a driver and passenger) the better the service.  This video featuring an old friend from my CBS News days will help explain how it works:

I do threaten to rate my kids to prioritize their rides, and I really wish now and then they could coordinate a bit so it’s not the sense of just driving in circles.  But in this über world of specified properties to extreme degrees – the Uber Parent app may soon be needed.

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Stepping Into the Fall Swing of Things

fall swing of thingsHeading into the middle weeks of September we turn the calendar to the second week of school.  For 14.5, its been about getting used to high school and working commitment to the soccer team into her life.  For 12.5, it’s about seventh grade, foreign language and fall softball.  All in all, as the calendar turns, we are stepping into the fall swing of things.

Junior varsity soccer is a pretty big commitment – sometimes I am not sure 14.5 realized what she was getting herself into.  But to her credit, as she does, she is gutting it out and making it work.  The school work part of being in high school is starting to dawn on her as well – but for now she is managing her school work and commitment to her team mates.

I think 12.5 is starting to understand the differences in work between sixth and seventh grade – the same as she is recognizing the difference in commitment to her fall travel softball team versus fall ball at our local little league facility.  We were out on the field most of this bright sunny (and hot) Sunday – where her team split a double-header.

So, for now, if you are looking for me changes are I will be on the sideline of a high school watching soccer or if I am not there on a random ball field somewhere on Long Island watching a 12U team compete.

Along the line, I am sure there will be some bumps in the road – there still has not been a test at either school, religious school hasn’t started yet, my travel schedule has calmed down and more can make it complicated…but or now with one foot on the soccer field, one on the softball field we are stepping into the fall swing of things.

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Work Travel and the Single Dad

Tbusiness-traveloday is one of those Sunday’s.  I could be home with the girls, picking 11.0 up from her camp reunion or helping 13.5 cook dinner.  Instead I’m at JFK, getting ready to get on a plane for a week in Los Angeles.  This is where work, travel and the single dad come together.

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Generally, a week in LA during the winter in NYC is not a bad thing.  And cards on the table I’ve done this before.  This is the first time though I’m out a full week since Risa passed, and I have to admit this one bothers me a little more.

I know the girls will be fine.  I know the house will be fine.  I have great systems and friends and networks in place in case something comes up.

But still, I’m not there.

There are tests, events, moments and unlike others who travel for work there is a parent there to share them with.  I guarantee this bothers me more than it does the girls but still its that point in time where I have to manage the demands of work, what goes on at home and all while I travel.

Normally, my business travel is a day sometimes two.  This time though it’s the full week, and that is kind of what is weighing on me most.

But it’s important for me to keep my job.  I need to support the house.  The girls need clothes and food.  The car needs gas and lets face it, we all like to do things.  Doing things means making the occasional sacrifice.

So, onto a plane I step, and off I go.  It’s a moment of work, travel and the single dad.  Or just call it life.

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Family Reunion and No Regrets

No RegretsAs the first phase of my summer winds down, the part where the girls are away at camp, I can look back and say it hasn’t been too bad.  The family reunion is Sunday and I have no regrets.

Did I get to do everything I wanted to do? No.

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But that’s OK.  I did a lot of things I wanted to do.  I got a lot of stuff around the house done.  I can stand in front of the mirror and say so far my summer has been OK.

Yes, there was more I wanted to get done.  But sometimes things don’t go exactly according to plan.  This is not the first time that has happened to me, and it certainly won’t be the last.  No regrets.  Summer 2013 is not over and once the girls are home we’ll be able to keep enjoying all that the summer has to offer.

I think it’s easy to look back and wish you could have done more.  Maybe it’s human nature.  As I get ready for our family reunion, I look back and can say the summer has been pretty good. No regrets on what I’ve been able to do and no regrets on the plans that got washed away, canceled or changed at the last minute.

I talked to the girls every week and read their letters with pride, knowing they were having a fun time.  I can look at the pictures on my iPhone and know I had a good time-so bring it on…

Summer 2013 Phase 2.  I have no regrets as phase 1 ends.

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Marathons, Tragedies and Explanations

Marathon BombWith the images of the explosions at the Boston Marathon seared into our minds, the tragedies that followed the blasts burned into our minds and the sense of reality sinking in, it’s time to look back at how the explanations of all this sounded.  Oh what a week it was.

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Starting with the blasts.  The moments of chaos, the images of dust settling and soldiers pulling the spectator pens apart.  Eerily reminiscent of 9/11 in NYC.  In 2001 12.5 was just a year old so we didn’t really worry about the images.  This time would be different.  I knew they girls would hear about this in school, but I wanted to keep them as best I could from the early views of the blasts.

Then as the memorial service faded to black came the manhunt.  I awoke to the head of the Massachusetts State Police on Friday morning saying, “This is a very grave situation,” and I had to think about how to manage this message with the girls.

Left unsaid was going back 18 months or so, I was thinking about targeting the Boston Marathon this year as an event I would feel good about.  Going back to 2000 when we moved to Boston (where 12.5 was born), I was fascinated by the Boston Marathon.  The day is an event in Beantown and the course a great test of will.  For me, my knee issues of 2012 took care of that goal.

But for the single dad, there was a lot to explain.  12.5 theorized connections to Sandy Hook and the failed gun control laws in Congress.  10.0 reported dutifully on the facts (as an aside, I like that her teacher this year sets time aside for current events).

Missing from the puzzle though was the discussions I would have with the girls about the images they were seeing, the stories they were hearing and facts and fallacies they were processing.  Coming out of the news environment I can offer some insight into how decisions are made on what they see or hear, but giving context to the un-contextual is a different issue.  Putting it in terms that are digestible for a 10-year-old and meaningful for a 12-year-old is a different story.

For better or worse I avoid those “how to talk to your kids” stories in papers and on TV and just handle in real-time the discussions. I try to use the words they use and whatever insight  I can add in.  Still though, marathons should not end in tragedies that need explanations, right?

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Life Without the Eraser

Giant EraserWhen we were younger and played baseball in the street most disputes were settled with a do-over.  Do the whole play again.  Kind of like an eraser for the moment.  Little did I know back then I’d go through life without the eraser we used in the street.

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I think we can all think back to moments we’d like to re-do.  A comment made, a situation that could be handled better, a decision we’d like to re-think.  But life doesn’t work that way.  We can learn and adapt, but we can’t go back and hit a button that re-does a moment.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to college a study a little more for a test, or spend an extra hour in the library researching that paper.  Hopefully those moments left an impression, an experience, that we can reach back to when we need to make a different decision going forward.

Life doesn’t work that way though.

We have to live in the moment and hope we can make the right call at the right time.  As age and responsibility add to our lives, the pressure on the decisions gets higher-and the margin for error becomes less.  We can only hope the moments that call for decisions are handled well, in our life without the eraser.

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When Perception and Expectation Clash

When perception and expectation t-bone

When perception and expectation t-bone

When you take a step back and think about life and events looking forward or looking back you can break them down by perception and expectation.  Then there are those moments when perception and expectation crash.

Perception is defined (on dictionary.com) as: immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral,psychological, or aesthetic qualities; insight; intuition;discernment.

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On the same site expectation is defined as:  the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.

When anticipation of a forward-looking event meets with intuition and discernment (either rightly or wrongly) the result can be the great unknown.  That clash of perception and expectation can sometimes have great results, it doesn’t have to be a negative.

The intuition part of perception is colored by the lens of our lives.  Your past experiences help give you the understanding of events to perceive how things will go and what motivation is.

When performing the act of expectation-looking forward to something, you perception of that event is colored by your past.  And when two people have a different past and share an expectation-their perception can be different and the clash occurs.

Sometimes, like a fender bender on the highway it’s not so bad-kind of a headache.  Other times it’s like being t-boned at an intersection and that moment when perception and expectation clash causes the airbags to explode and you end up with a bloody nose.

It’s a fine line walk when managing perception and expectation-you have to admit it.

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Only the Year Ends-Time Marches On

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As the days in 2012 wind down, and thoughts turn to the new year-its not uncommon to sit back and reflect on the 12 months that have preceded today.  Its natural at this time of year to be reflective of the time that has gone by and maybe a little apprehensive of the year ahead.

But in the end, the calendar is another way we simply mark time and meter of moments in which we live.  Within the context of the year there are anniversaries, milestones and events that each carry their own markers on the calendar and mini-calendars within the events.

In talking to 10.0 when she thinks about the year that is ending-she looks back at camp, a trip to Six Flags with her friend, skiing and a day at a nearby archery range.

When I asked 12.5 the same question, she immediately thought about the kids being killed at Sandy Hook in Connecticut.  Then digressed to a camp trip to Six Flags and the days after Super Storm Sandy when we hosted friends and neighbors who were left without power.

In looking ahead to 2013, 10.0 is not sure what to expect.  12.5 is predicting a long battle over gun control (related to Sandy Hook) and her bat mitzvah.

Along with being proud of her awareness of current events, that feels about right.  12.5 has some stuff that she is working on now that will unfold in the year ahead.  10.0 not quite yet.

But the year ahead will mark those moments and more. There will be birthdays, the bat mitzvah, another camp send-off, another year of changes that will adjust too and hopefully another year to grow together (and separately) as a family and as individuals.

So while the girls will be awake at midnight and try to wake me up (it happens every year), the changing of the calendar is just another milestone along the way that we will share.  Happy New Year to all.

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When Two Weeks Really Aren’t

I was answering a text while walking through the supermarket tonight, and realized its two-weeks exactly until the girl’s head out to camp.  The good news is this year I feel like if I had two weeks it would not be a problem.  The bad news is, this year, I don’t have two weeks.

While there are 14 days until the girls leave, there are five days until I get my ACL replaced and end up on crutches.  There’s no telling what impact that will have on my getting things done, but I have to believe it won’t be a huge help.

So, with moderate pain, some hobbling and a little luck-I will be able to get most of the running around stuff done between now and Thursday (I do have to be in the office as well so this will be interesting).

I am still on the hook for a sendoff BBQ for the girls, that will be a week to the day after my surgery-and two days before the girls leave.  Luckily 12.0 already knows she will have to make the run to BJ’s with me to stock up for the party.

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The Holiday Break: A Look Back and Ahead

So, we made it.  Individually and collectively, we’ve made it to the holiday break.  This means a new year is upon us, which also gives us a chance to look back at the year that was.

It’s a chance to glean a lesson, reflect on what has happened and perhaps more importantly take those lessons and go forward.

At least for us, 2011 was a year of immense transition, so many things occurred, so many people came into our lives and so much has gone on-it’s great to take a moment and take a breath.

It would be folly for me (or any of us of that matter) to try to go through a list and thank everyone for the love, support and help we’ve had over the last 12 months-we would leave too many people out and not do justice.

Instead, I hope everyone will accept from me (and 11.0 and 9.0) our eternal thanks for all you have done to be there for us-and know when we can we try to pay it forward and we are committed to doing just that.

 
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