Teachable Moments

It’s not lost on me that I just don’t update as much as I did when the girls were younger.  I could say time and commitments are the reason – and probably build a good case. But the reality is when my first post about bra shopping (more than seven years ago) this blog was about my day-to-day as  an only parent of two girls. While that hasn’t changed, my scope has.  We’ve changed from dad and two girls to a dad and two teens.  I do less parenting and spend more time looking for teachable moments.

To be clear, I’m still a parent.  I still get to say, “no.”  But I’m far more effective when I’m able to use a moment to convey a lesson.  It was just last week I realized I’ve come to embrace those teachable moments.

This all crystalized when 17.0 (I can’t believe that either) went to take her road test last week.  I just got a new car, and I had the temporary registration taped to the inside of the windshield.  Honestly, I had never looked at it.  I was just waiting for the regular registration to show up in the mail as it would in the course of business.

However, the road test day showed up before the regular registration – and it turns out the temp was not printed well and arguable the expiration date for the registration on my car was illegible.  Arguable because I was able to read it and the woman at the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles office was able to read it – but the tester claimed he could not.

I could see the disappointment in 17.0’s face when the tester said he could not get in the car and take her for her road test due to the registration.  We headed for the nearest DMV office, waited on a relatively short line and got the sticker.  On the way back to the testing area, 17.0 asked me why I didn’t argue with the tester more.


It’s time for 17.0 to understand that there are times it futile to argue with people who aren’t her father – there was no way I was changing the tester’s mind, so I went for solving the problem.

Both girls are traveling with international destinations this summer.  A couple of years ago when the girls were in camp there was a trip to Canada and it turns out their American Express debit cards did not work internationally.

And she passed her road test, wave if you see her drive by you.

This year, both girls are out in the world with credit cards.


Now I’m trying to explain the importance of credit ratings to both girls, and get them to understand they’ll get a bill eventually.

We’ll see how that goes I suppose.

So instead of semi-pithy realities of being an only parent – I’ll try to document those teachable moments now – and a bit about how those lessons are received.

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Six Years Later – The Snow Day

Through the magic of Facebook, I was reminded this week about some updates made in years gone by about snow days.  As near as I can tell I’ve written about them for six years.  Now six years later the snow day is a little different.

It’s been a while since I wrote here – not that there’s nothing going on.  Maybe its the opposite and too much is going on and getting to the end of the day and then writing just doesn’t happen.  Today wasn’t too different, except during this snow day – I took time to think about the changes in six years.

Flashback to when the girls were 10 and eight.  Snow days were much different.  The day was very hands on.  There was likely a trip to someone’s house (or having someone over), there was the juggle of trying to do work and keep the girls entertained and there was the sense that the day would never end.

Six years later the snow day is much different.  Today really started last night after 14.5 finished her tennis.  I dropped her at her friend’s house with a vague plan of how and when I would pick her up.  16.5 was home all day doing homework and working on prep for upcoming ACT and SAT tests.

I spent the day quietly working (I think I had eight calls and a constant email flow) and making a big pan of lasagna for the next couple of weeks.  Completely hands off to my kids for the day – other than cutting off some lasagna for dinner.

Six years later, the snow day is really another day – it would be nice if the girls were at school, but we all went about it.

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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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Holiday, Work, School, Spring Break-A Week of Juggling Ahead

Juggling on a TightropeSpring break 2013 is upon us.  The week ahead already has an interesting mix of holiday planning, school work to be done and for me more than work from home for the week.  All of that means its an exercise in time management and juggling to keep everyone on track.

Both girls have some homework over the break.  Mostly it’s prep work for the state testing that kicks off once they are back in school next week.  Add to that 12.5 needs to do a turn on her Bat Mitzvah speech this week and she needs to start conceptualizing the candle lighting she wants to do during her party.  For 10.0 along with the school work, she has to finish up her science fair project this week.


Mix in two seder dinners and one of them I have to go into the city for the afternoon before hosting and all of the other stuff that just comes up during the week-and well it’s all about keeping the chain saws in the air.

Juggling is nothing new to any parent.  For single parents it’s a unique walk across a tightrope.  In between all of the planned and scheduled activities will be the last-minute things that will come up-trips to friend’s houses, I’m sure a movie or two and who knows what else.

So, into a needed “down week” we’ll go, knowing full well there will be lot’s to do and lot’s of juggling to be done.

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Finals-The New School Wrinkle

This school year started with my older daughter going to middle school, which introduced a litany of new variables into the household.  So it’s probably only fit to have the school year-end with the wild card variable of finals.

For those not there yet, or who have blocked this moment from their memory-once in middle school finals means going to school for two or three hours for tests-and then done with school.  I honestly do not fully remember what we did when I was growing up.  I am guessing we came home, did some studying and then played ball.

The upside for me as a parent is 11.5 (12 very soon) is a conscientious student-and she will come home and study.  I’ll probably have my sitter come over earlier than normal.  And of course, because of my pending knee surgery I’ll be home for a good part of that as well.

So, in a lot of ways, its problem solved.

But one thing I’ve become good at and do reflexively is think through and plan for the contingencies too.  What happens if I get the call?  What are my options?  I have it pretty well sorted out.  Now if I can only get the camp packing squared up, I’ll be golden.

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