National Middle Child Day – Who Knew?

National Middle Child DayCall it another Facebook miracle – but scrolling through my timeline while eating lunch today I found out it was National Middle Child Day.  Who knew?  Since somewhere in the 1980’s mid-August has marked the day for those of us born in the middle.

Much like so many other days – National Micro-Brew Day, National Pizza Day, National Apple Pie Day – I had no idea there was such a day until I stumbled across that fact.

In this case (although I do like micro-brews, pizza and apple pie) it at least resonates with me.  Although tucked away in the middle of August kind of gives the day some obscurity.

There is no shortage of studies on middle children and because this is 2015 there is also no shortage of memes.

I’m not completely sure it’s needed – but as a middle child (at least the studies tell me) I am a go with the flow kind of guy.  So, on this middle child day – I will take a moment to think about the times growing up when I lamented being the middle child.  The times I was stuck battling differing fights with my brothers at the same time, the times I had to share a room and put up with TV shows that someone else wanted to watch.

So for National Middle Child Day I salute my fellow middle children, remember my younger brother and say thanks to my older brother.

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Making Time to Meet the Teacher

Back To School NightAs the girls enter their third week of school, the calendar has turned to the annual trek for parents back to school for the meet the teacher night.  I’ve never been a huge fan of this event because I really don’t get it.  Yeah, I go and I keep hoping something new will happen, but it just never does. However, after last year and the way it went, I’m making time to meet the teacher this year.


Last year, just the way the schedule fell I wasn’t able to make it to either school for meet the teacher night.  For my younger one, I got to meet with her teacher the day after and develop a good working relationship.  I never made it to the middle school to meet the older one’s teachers though and outside of the two teachers I knew from outside of school I had no relationships.

For the older one, not as much a problem.  For the younger one, I felt like I was in near constant contact with her teacher last year.

My rational last year was I would meet the older one’s teachers at the parent teacher conference in November.  For me, this is a better moment for me anyway, I can ask specific questions and focus on one child at a time.

Little did I know Super Storm Sandy was lurking and would wipe out parent teacher conferences in the middle school.

Lesson (for me) learned.  This year I am making time to meet the teacher.  Not an easy one this year.  Since both girls are in middle school this year (generally an advantage) I have consecutive nights of meet the teacher nights.  So, the next two nights it’s a race home, (Monday 10.5 has softball too), get to the school, get home, get squared up and get into the next day.

A little investment now though should help pay dividends later in the school year-at least that’s what I am telling myself this year.

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Lacing Up The Running Shoes For Cause

Cupid Undie RunWith very little “training” accomplished, I’ll be pulling on the running shoes next week, and stripping down to my undies for a one mile (or so) romp through Chelsea and the Meat Packing sections of NYC-it’s all for a good cause.  But even a mile at this point is an accomplishment.

The Cupid Undie run Run New York is a benefit run supporting the Children’s Tumor Foundation.  For me, it’s a chance with very little pressure to test out both of my knees.

By the time the run steps off next week it will be six weeks since my second knee surgery. So far, PT has been going well but I am just starting to run.  The good news about this one mile trek is that there is no clock.  I fully expect to be in the very back of the race, chugging along mostly trying not to take a bad step.

And since this is a fundraising run, I’ll invite all to make a contribution to the cause.  To start things off on my page, I’ve already donated the proceeds from my book, The Beginning of the Middle of the End of the Beginning from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the cause.

I hope you’ll contribute too (and buy my book if you haven’t already).

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Teaching a Middle Aged Dog New Tricks

As life rolls by, and life experiences pile up sometimes it becomes clear that being set in your ways is not always the best way to work through an issue and certainly does not help achieve change at any level.

So, even an old (or in my case middle-aged) person needs to learn something new.

I’ve never considered myself to be change averse.  The longest I’ve ever held a job is five years, early in my career I think I moved twice a year just to keep myself from accumulating too much stuff.

But then life happens.  You get settled.  You have kids, you take on more responsibility and that embrace of change slowly loosens and perhaps even worse you become set in  your ways.

Our lives though have been filled with change and transition and sometimes through that you change and adapt to survive.  As a single parent and care giver it became easy for me to take on everything.  A force of one, getting things done.  For better or worse for a very long time it worked.  Life without checks and balances made decision-making easy.  Having to think for three or four at a time became a way of life, and hopefully you made the right decisions.  (I like to think more often than not I did).

But as life changes, so do the people around you and their roles.  So change and adjust I must, because life changes and we have to be ready for it and embrace those moments.

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Middle School Talent Show

Friday night for me was spent in the gym at the middle school where 11.5 and her friend did a short dance routine for the middle school talent show.  They had 28 acts total, and the show took a little more than two hours to complete.  Now, I did not stay for the whole thing, I was there for about 8 acts including 11.5’s.

From what I saw it was about what could be expected.  Some good acts, some that left you wondering and mostly kids enjoying themselves.  I give them all credit just for getting up and performing.

But this is about a different revelation I had at the show last night.  The school administrator in charge was the assistant principal of the school, who frankly the couple of times I’ve spoken with him seems like a nice enough person.  Yet there he was at the microphone welcoming parents, siblings and a healthy part of the middle school student body to the show-and left me scratching my head.

First came the line:

There are approximately 49 students taking part in the show tonight

This leaves me wondering  couple of things.  First, I would expect the school to know exactly how many kids are participating.  Counting, beyond being a basic function of school seems to be a safety thing.  Count how many kids, keep count etc.  Beyond that, way back when I was in school, as it pertains to math the word approximately has a specific meaning:

Approximation usually occurs when an exact form or an exact numerical number is unknown or difficult to obtain. However some known form may exist and may be able to represent the real form so that no significant deviation can be found.

Based on math of the day when I was in sixth grade (circa 1979) the approximation would be, “There are approximately 50 kids performing tonight.”

I would have been OK with this faux pas of language and math skills, if it was not almost immediately followed by this gem:

We have to thank the PTO for ascertaining the stage for this show tonight

Ascertaining? Really? This guy mingles among the students (my daughter included) and helps guide the teacher and this is what he has to offer microphone in hand.  Ascertaining?

To be sure I was not over thinking I checked and ascertaining means:

to find out definitely; learn with certainty or assurance;determine: to ascertain the facts.

Now clearly the school deuce meant “obtaining” and without sitting through the approximation twist of language I could have let it all slide.  Instead, I have to wonder what other linguistic gems are spewed via microphone.  It’s no wonder I spend a lot of time defining words that I think are pretty straight forward for a sixth grader-the language gets butchered at school.

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Middle School and the Locker

Today 11.0 had her “orientation” for middle school.  I think the school principal summed it up best when he called the two-plus hour session about lockers and hallways.  In reality, it was little more than a chance for the kids to go to their lockers, figure out how to make them work and then walk their schedules.  While there was some re-connecting with classmates as the summer winds down, it was really about getting the locker to work.

Now, this was no easy task.  None of the kids in the area where 11.0 has her locker were able to navigate the two turns right, one turn left and back to the right on the first try.  In some cases not really on the 12th try either. For us, it took a more than a couple of tries, but less than a dozen and the process of opening the locker was done.

We then walked the schedules a few times-from home room (ELA and Reading are in the same class room) to gym to lunch to Spanish to social studies to science to math.  Generally 11.0 has a feel for where her classes will be.  I think after a week she’ll be in the flow and figure out when to go to her locker.

During a couple of the walks I wanted to stop by her locker so she could get a feel for opening it in the flow of the day-but that didn’t really work because three of the lockers near her were getting some interior design work done.  Pictures, wallpaper, pencil and pen holders-I was struck with two thoughts.

1. Where are these kids going to put their books and in the winter coats with all of this stuff in there?

2. Did I miss the boat by just getting the “locker buddy?”

In my defense, none of the other dad’s who were there were busy with the interior design work.  But is that what was expected?  I asked 11.0 and she said no, but I am not sure she would actually tell me.  It’s one of those moments when a female touch may have been needed-or at least that influence could have been helpful.  Yeah, I got the pink locker buddy, and it has a pretty good-sized mirror.  Still, no family pics are taped up, no wall paper is hung-I didn’t make the locker the center of the day.  Should I have?

All in all, I would call it a success-she can open her locker pretty much on the first try.  She can basically find her classes and she ran into some old and new friends.  So, the goal of the day-to be ready for the start of school in a new building with some new accoutrements is a win, but the thoughts of should there have been more do linger…

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Amplified Questions as a Successful School Year Ends

Today was the last school based event for my girls this year. They have two more goofy 2-hour school days to go before the school year ends.  Today’s event was “Portfolio Day” in 8.5’s class room.  At this event each of the kids in the class gets up and reads a story or poem from the writing portfolio they compiled during the school year, and then share the portfolio going back to the first day of school.

For 11.0, her last event was her “moving up” day-she enters middle school next year.

In both cases, the girls really acquitted themselves so well.  11.0 lead her class in a rap for one of the seven community principles they learned about.  8.5 stepped to the microphone in her class and was clear and concise in her reading-and was one of the only ones in the class who read something more factual and less creative writing based.

It honestly made me feel good that my kids were able to do this.  It’s such a skill to stand up and present something to a group of people.

But as is often the case, with those good feelings came the nagging questions: the what if’s and could that have been different?  And those weigh on me, probably more now than they did at the start of the school year when Risa was in hospice.

I feel like then I had an excuse, now I don’t.  After all no one would question someone with two young kids, a wife in hospice, holding down a job etc, right?  But could I have done more during the school year?  Intellectually I know the answer to that question is no, I truly do.  But emotionally and psychologically I wonder.  Is there a something the girls are missing out on having just me around, and not a female voice?

When all is said and done, life is what you make of it.  Experiences are neither good or bad, they are experiences-and it’s up to us to make the most of each experience.  If I can pass that along to the girls, I’ll think I have done a good job.

But will I know?  Yet another question to ponder.


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