Friday, January 31, 2014


I started this blog 6 years ago as a way to get myself to reflect on the experience of being a dad. I hoped that spending a little time every month thinking about things in my daughter's life would help me to understand her, and my relationship with her, a bit better.

Maybe some day she'll come across these pages. She'll remember some events differently, and some not at all. If she does, I hope they help her to understand me, and her relationship with me, a bit better.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Responsible One

More often than not, she's asked (or expected) to set the tone & boundaries when she's with her friends.

Maybe it's the only child thing. Maybe it's that she spends more time in the presence of adults than children. Maybe she's had enough of the right influences. Maybe it's just a phase. But it's good to think of her as the responsible one.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


Change is drama. Movie directors know this. So do parents.

Each year she has changed schools has been a year of drama. Unsettled social relationships. Volatile grades. Personality changes.

The drama only lasts through the transition year. She gets used to the new routines. Study habits catch up with classroom demands. She makes new friends. Reluctantly or otherwise, she adjusts.

And so do we. We have to figure out how to engage her during transition. It's stressful, while it lasts.

Fortunately, transition is temporary. But as with the movies, there's always a sequel.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Volunteering is Optional, Commitments are Not

A lot of the things we sign our kids up for, from scouting to sports, require volunteers to make them work. No volunteers, no youth programs.

Making time commitments is no small favor to ask from people. Volunteers have to sign up for things weeks and even months in advance, and sometimes make major time commitments. Parents have all kinds of things competing for their time, tend to be overly optimistic about how much time things will take (travel & transportation included), and take routine household things like laundry and dinner for granted. Any parent who volunteers makes no small sacrifice.

As much as it's a commitment because of invasiveness and inconvenience factors to the individual volunteer, a volunteer organization is dependent on its volunteers to honor their commitment. Events and activities don't happen without the volunteers to make it so.

We remember those who have a gift for it - the brilliant coaches, the organized administrators - and these are the people who remind us that volunteer organizations are capable of amazing things. There are volunteers who do a crap job of it: they show up but make a hash of things. Still, there is a lot to be said for any volunteer who follows through on the commitments they made. In a lot of youth organizations, that's all that's being asked. Just show up like you said you would. And if you can't - hey, things come up - let those who are depending on you know that you can't. Withdraw if you must, but withdraw responsibly.

Your commitment is your obligation. Volunteering is optional. Commitments are not.

Monday, September 30, 2013


She scored a podium finish at her first short course swim meet. I'm proud of her. Not for her performance in the event itself, but to see her rewarded for persistence and training. She spent many years in swim lessons working on stroke mechanics. She swam long course over the summer, building up her endurance and perfecting her technique to avoid disqualification. Since starting short course earlier this month, she's spent more time in the pool doing both sprint and endurance training. There's no doubt that running cross country, playing soccer and taking dance lessons have helped with her athleticism (I'll not call it physicality or explosiveness) in the pool. But in 6 months training, she's gone from never having swum competitively to a podium finish. The pride I feel in her isn't in her finish, as much as it is in the strong start to her journey.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Sign, Sign, Everywhere a Sign

She's developed an eye for vintage, quirky signs from watching American Pickers.

And, in the process, she's found a way to clutter her bedroom walls as she has the floor.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

11 Is Not the New 8

She's a much different person today than she was just 3 years ago.

I can't pick her up as easily. I certainly can't throw her as far in the lake, or flip her while holding her by her arms.

Clothing holds her attention now. American Girl dolls don't.

She's less interested in Bugs Bunny and more interested in The Simpsons.

In her extra-curriculars, the gap between kids who are "casual" versus "committed" participants is blatant.

Interaction ("help me do this, daddy") gave way to observation ("watch me do this, daddy"), which has given way to awareness ("I'll be with my friends, dad").

Of course, I should expect nothing less. She's much closer to being a teenager than she was last an infant. It wasn't dramatic or sudden, and not everything about her has changed. Nor am I the same person I was just a few years ago. Plus, our relationship has to change if we're to stay interesting to each other, and not merely dependent and obliged to one another. And I'm looking forward to the next voyage of discovery, and curious to know who she'll become.

Still, I can't help but miss that little person I got to know.