Finally I Can Yearn for the Good Old Days

in lineGenerally speaking, I am not one to pine for the good old days – way back when life was easier in the early to mid 1980’s (way back then).  I like to think at least I am someone who embraces life today and cherishes the moment.  But after taking 16.5 to register for driver’s ed, finally I can yearn for the good old days.

Perhaps because we were recently talking about it, or perhaps I just remember – but the fact that there was nothing momentous about my registering for driver’s ed.  That’s a stark contrast to the 90 minutes we spent tonight getting the deed done.

Way back in the old days of 1984 (or maybe it was early 1985) I took a form a check and walked up to the office at the school where I took driver’s ed and I was done.  Tonight, we walked into the high school up the road, and there was easily 75 kids (and assorted parents) on a line snaking through the front hallway and down an adjoining corridor.

There were two women in the school’s office taking checks and forms – and writing (as in pen to paper) names on lists.  One of the parents commented that in 2016, there should be a better way…

Yeah I thought, they could do it like they did way back in 1984.  It wasn’t an event.  It really should not have been memorable.  In contrast I suppose it will be.

So, finally I can yearn for the good old days.  The days when putting pen to paper and handing in a check wasn’t an evening out – it was just another stop along the way.

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Right or Wrong It’s a Fine Line

Style Sheets MasterThis morning after doing my usual trip to the fruit stand and butcher I was putting stuff away and 11.0 asked me for pancakes.  Not an unusual start to a weekend morning.  Then I realized no one managed to empty the dishwasher in three days.  Annoyance.  Then I went looking for a pan and it was not where I keep it.  More annoyance.  Then I pulled a mixing bowl out of the closet and it was greasy.  Over the edge.  Right or wrong it’s a fine line and I went off.

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I felt bad while exploding.  Yelling at no one, but 11.0 taking the wrath for her sister and our sitter.  Looking back it was a human moment, but one I wish I could take back.  I can’t.  More annoyance.

I apologized to 11.0 and she said she understood.  I’ll talk to her sister and the sitter as well, they won’t get the theatrics though, as I’ve managed to navigate that line.  But there will be another one just around the corner.  I’ll judge myself based on how I handle it.

On the other side of the coin was the random conversation I had with a friend tonight.  He’s going through a tough time, and based on my experience, I can share some insights and offer some practical insights into the way life ebbs and flows.

But even that presents the same conundrum: right or wrong it’s a fine line when offering advice.  As I’ve learned most situations are unique, defined by the people, places and events.  I can share my experiences and thought process-but I am always reluctant to offer it up as advice.  It’s a fine line to walk, and the yardstick is alway looking back at me in the mirror when I shave in the morning.

I showed some emotion this morning, I’m not sure why.  It can’t be about a misplaced pan can it?  And I offered some thoughts and insights tonight-I hope I was helpful to my friend.

In between, 11.0’s softball team won their fall league, 13.5 finished her homework, we shared a nice family dinner, went to the supermarket as a family and mostly had a nice quiet Sunday.

Life is filled with fine lines, right and wrong are tough barriers to entry.

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Learning To Hold The Line

Chores are done todayIn our house allowance is not just doled out on a weekly basis.  It’s both earned and functional. Earned through doing chores and functional because during the school year allowance comes on Monday morning and if you want to buy school lunch, see your allowance.  Then came tonight, 13.0 announced she was meeting some friends for dinner at Friendly’s and I was funding it.  Where I need a lesson in learning to hold the line? I reached into my wallet and gave her money.

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Before I over analyze this one moment, there are many areas I do hold the line that are far more important to me than a couple of bucks spent at Friendly’s.  At the same time though, I gave both girls allowance plus extra money when they went to camp-which was for the summer.  And they did not have to do any chores all summer long for that money.

The goal is not to be a hard ass about what amounts to less than $1500 per year between the girls.  It’s really more about instilling a sense of value in the girls.  I go to work everyday and earn money.  They can do some work and earn some money too.  Kind of the quid-pro-quo of life, right?

But, like most things, it’s just not black and white.  There is the social part to it and the lessons that the girls need about being independent and being able to do things like go to dinner with their friends.

So, yeah.  I’m still learning to hold the line, but at the same time I’m learning to manage the age gap between them and encourage other healthy behaviors (even when eating at Friendly’s).  Never to old to learn a new lesson, right?

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Lines, Boundaries, and the Blur

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US MapOne of the roles a parent plays is to teach their children about behavioral lines and boundaries.  How far they can go, and understand there are repercussions when the lines are crossed.  It’s up to our children to push those boundaries and grow.

But when we become adults, learning those lines and boundaries as our lives change is very different.  Maybe that is why as we get older we get more set in our ways, because that learning of boundaries is set at such an early age.  I’m not sure, it’s a new theory though.

As 12.5 emerges into her teen years, I see a lot of that going on with her.  There is less jump when asked to do something, more pushback when she does not agree and the never-ending set of “why” questions when it just has to be done.  And all of that is normal, and dealt with in real-time.

For 10.0, the changes are more subtle, but they are emerging as well.  With her as she sees her sister push the boundaries, she would like to go along for the ride.  Sometimes there has to be a reminder that her sister is almost a teen, sometimes I’m OK with it, and sometimes the answer is just no.

Then there is my use case, which comes with much less of a template.

In many ways I am a mid-40’s parent with parental responsibilities.  In some ways I am a 25-year-old single guy trying to balance a relationship and life.  But when I was 25 and dating there were no kids (mine or hers) in the mix.  There were no complications of life (widow, divorce, separation etc) to blur the lines and boundaries.

So while my inner 25-year old wants to do a lot of things, my in the moment 45-year old stands up and says there are rules and responsibilities.  In between is my inner rational trying to work it all out in real-time.

No one ever said it would be easy, but a map (with borders) would be nice.  Usually trial and error works.  Sometimes its the border looks less like Nevada and Utah and more like northern Kentucky from Indiana to Ohio.

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Independence and Letting Go

One of the big wins of the summer (and one I was counting on) from  sending the girls to summer camp was giving them a more solid sense of independence, and the knowledge they can do things on their own.  In this vein I am talking about getting milk or juice, preparing their own breakfast etc.  Kind of every day things that at some point get transitioned from parents doing to kids fending for them self.

I’ve been intentionally reluctant to pull back some of the things the girls take on now-largely because I want to support their independence and foster it.

The downside though is sometimes having to show a better path to getting something accomplished-and trying not to cross the line from being supportive to being judgemental.  As I’ve seen-especially when I am not getting enough sleep, its a pretty fine line to walk.

From mundane things-mixing a pitcher of iced tea to more complex like doing the dishes after dinner, I have the girls taking these tasks on, mostly happily, but sometimes the path to completion requires some serious lip biting on my part.

I’d love for them to simply learn their way through the process-but that’s just not likely.  Instead, it’s walking that line-and trying to stay on the fostering path, and not cross over to judgemental.

I suppose, that’s argument enough to get more sleep.

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