Fraudulent Fatherhood

May 29th, 2015 Fatherhood, Life

Sometimes I feel like a fraud. I mean, should I really be sticking both my Beachwood Boys in front of the television just because – for once – I would really like to be able to start my day at 6-something o’clock, rather than 5-something o’clock? Ever since daylight savings began it’s been a continual struggle to get the boys to sleep much beyond 5.15 a.m. Trust me it’s brutal. I’ve tried tweaking with their sleep patterns to see if putting them to bed a little later would help. Not ideal, but worth a shot. It doesn’t. They still wake up at 5.15 a.m. only they’re cranky as they haven’t had enough sleep. So sometimes, yes, I crumble and relent and I value the warm embrace of my duvet over all else and I reach for that remote control. It’s hardly progressive parenting. The Steiner purists would blanche at my approach. As I simultaneously atrophy and overstimulate my children’s brains with flashing images, exploding robots and talking cars. “Dad when can we get one of those?” But then, the Steiner purists aren’t laying awake next to me bleary eyed at 5.15 a.m. are they?

But then I figure – who am I trying to kid? At 5.15 a.m. on a Saturday morning, that cathode ray (showing my age) that plasma screen (still showing my age) that 42 inch, hypnosis-inducing, image projecting, thingy on the wall, is my best friend. I mean by the time they are my age televisions will probably have gone the way of the record player or the Walkman. No one is going to dedicate themselves to sit down in a specific room and watch a dedicated box emit images for a set period of time. My kids will probably thank me for giving them exposure to such antiquated technology. For allowing them to create such a back catalog of nostalgic memories and for allowing them to talk about the “good old days” before micro chip brain implants, and in home 3D holograms came along.

“Ah. Remember the days when we just used to slump in front of the TV and not say anything to each other for the longest time? Those were some good times, huh?”

At least, that’s what I tell myself when I turn over in bed and try to grab a few more precious minutes sleep before their show ends and even they catch on to how I am merely playing for time and stalling the inevitable.

“Come ON Dad! Let’s DO something”. And with laser like perception my fraudulence has been decisively exposed by a four year old once again.

Parker Hotel Memorial Day

May 26th, 2015 Travel

Let’s be honest here.  Anywhere there’s a pool, a few other kids to play with – and corresponding adults to splash – and my boys will be happy.  The fancy hotel aspect is purely for the parents.  And the Parker Hotel in Palm Springs looked after us in fine style this weekend.  It sort of has this hidden English garden quality to it.  Narrow dusty paths, lined with rich vegetation and intermittent rose bushes either side, that twist and turn as you navigate your way from room to pool to restaurant.  Occasionally along the hidden path, an arched opening, that leads to what feels like another discovered space: a crochet lawn, fire pit, or secret garden.  All very Alice in Wonderland.

I was delighted to see Jaxon finally have the confidence to put his swimming lessons to the test.  I’m not sure that the other pool users were quite so excited.  Easily the loudest and splashiest (if that’s even a word?) kid in the place.  The entire weekend.  I had to traverse that difficult line between allowing my kid to have fun and delight in his new found abilities while keeping him mindful of everyone else in the pool and not becoming dictatorial dad in the process.  I tended towards the more laissez faire approach and I think we just got away with it.  It’s quite remarkable though to see in a few weeks the additional confidence and delight that he now takes in being able to swim – or should I really say – stay afloat – in the pool.  Skyer, interestingly enough,  seemed a little overwhelmed by the the pool and the other kids and while he has been fearless in the past he was reluctant to let go of me when in the pool which made for some awkward dunking moments and frequent instances of lost sunglasses at the bottom of the pool.

Parker Hotel Pool

A great weekend.  Our decision to take the children with us was a last minute one as this was originally just a weekend for Rachel and myself.  But after some last minute scrambling we were set up for the four of us.  The room was a little small if truth be told, but that was on us as much as them, and not quite as luxurious as I might have hoped but we made it work.  There is clearly two worlds operating within the hotel which hardly ever meet.  The adult world of pool side drinks and lazy mornings – the world I thought I was going to inhabit for three days – and the kids world – full of dunking, splashing and frequent apologies to strangers.  the world that we ended up inhabiting.

The Parker Hotel can take it – and allows each world to co-exist independently of each other very well.  I should point out that there is an adults only pool at the opposite end of the property which greatly assists in this regard.  While chic, and full of eclectic touches and sophisticated decor, it never feels too precious or rarified that your kids have to be on best behavior.

With that being said we did have a rather lucky escape with a number of the glass ornaments and coffee table nick nacks as we were checking out.  But, if truth be told, I wouldn’t want it any other way.  And in the spirit of honesty, I’m just glad they’re around to divert attention from my own behavioral misdemeanors.

Parker Hotel Kids Pool

 

 

Soccer Stars

May 17th, 2015 Boyhood, Fatherhood, Fitness, Health, Sport

We love soccer Saturdays in our house.  After all it gives me the first real opportunity to live vicariously through my children.  If I’m honest, part of me used to harbor a secret fantasy that one of my boys was going to demonstrate prodigious, breathtaking talent as soon as they touched the ball.  That the coach was going to come over to me at the end of the first lesson.  Put his hand on my shoulder, gently usher me away from the other parents so as not to evoke jealousy and discord among a group of lesser gifted children and offer me a few choice words about nurturing my child’s unique talent.  Fast streaming him to a class for older children, where he could be observed more closely and his craft could be honed.  Okay, if I’m really honest, part of me still continues to harbor this fantasy.

Soccer is probably the first organized sport that most kids encounter.  And for most of us as parents, our first brush with organized sports since college.  It also means that soccer is the first time we as parents get a direct, real time, opportunity to compare our child to their peers within an organized setting.  It also brings us face to face with the phenomenon known as the soccer mom, and the soccer dad.  Or rather the shadowy, nascent, nebulous incarnation of their future alter egos.  Yes, much like the adolescent Anakin Skywalker in the ill-fated Attack of the Clones, it is all too easy to see future Sideline Sith Lords in the faces and attitudes of these parent padawans.

evil anakin

My heart sinks.  Not least for what my future holds, an unending stream of Saturdays on the sidelines with these overachieving types, but more horrifically that I might, unwittingly, become one myself.  So seductive is the dark side of the vicarious force.  All are powerless once caught in its tractor beam.  Heck, I might even be one now and not realize it.  In an over elaborate and deliberate effort to distance myself from being tarred with that brush, I remain seated throughout the class, almost indifferent to what transpires on the field.  But now do I just look aloof and callous?  It’s a perilous path to traverse for sure.  Not – as they say – to be traveled lightly.

The lesson ends and none of the coaches approach me.  But maybe that’s a good thing.  Or maybe they’re just waiting ’til next week to tell me…

Super Soccer Stars

 

On The Road Again

May 16th, 2015 Crossfit, Fatherhood, Fitness

It’s important to me to stay in shape and maintain my fitness levels while I’m away.  I do Crossfit. A great combination of variety, functionality, intensity and community.  So when I’m on the road I tend to fashion workouts around the Crossfit philosophy and approach to fitness.  If for nothing else the workouts ensure maximum benefit and results in minimal time and mean that I can avoid any serious negotiation with Rachel about having to slip off to the gym during the middle of a family vacation.

I can’t always guarantee that I’ll have easy access to a gym but I’m certainly not going to drag a bunch of excess gear with me.  Traveling with kids means that you have to travel light and I never go anywhere without my three trusty essentials:

Crossfit Nanos: perfectly versatile shoe – stable enough for weightlifting yet flexible and robust enough for any kind of workout. Also great for hiking and running over shorter distances.

RX Jump Rope: hands down the best jump rope I’ve ever tried – and I’ve tried a few.  Ball bearings in the handles for ultra smooth turnover, rope lengths are customized according to your height as well as the weight of the jump cable itself.  For beginners a heavier cable is preferred as it helps considerably with timing.  As you improve so you can use a lighter weight cable. Less taxing – and of course faster turnover. I had struggled with double unders for months.  Once I got my RX jump rope I was stringing together 30 unbroken very quickly.

Lacrosse Ball: This little ball changed my life.  The ultimate massage companion helps ease out all the knots and tension.  Simple but wonderfully effective. My boys LOVE this ball and I have to fight with them constantly to keep hold of it!

A Moment of Clarity

May 16th, 2015 Boyhood, Fatherhood, Self Discovery

There are days – well I shouldn’t say days – moments really – there are moments, which usually pop into my mind as I try to remain calm during a toddler meltdown – and we’ve had some epic ones here at the Beachwood Boys Club – when I will catch myself thinking “What did I do to myself?  I mean, I used to have a strong sense of self. I thought I used to know who I was. What I stood for. I used to care about whether or not I left the house with small amounts of vomit on my shirt, or if I got more than four hours sleep – didn’t I?”

After a fleeting moment, the thought will pass and I will come back to the present. “Am I really trying to engage in a rational discussion with a two year old about a mislaid Lego brick?  Is this who I am now?  Have I become such a community dad that I can no longer see the wood for the trees?  That I must entertain every new crisis and take on the severity of each new occurrence as my own personal crusade?”

Parenting if nothing else has taught me – or rather has forced me to access – my patience.  Not a quality to which I am naturally predisposed.   And it has encouraged me to discern the life threatening: “Jaxon take your finger out of that electric socket”; from the critical “Jaxon please don’t drop that on your brother’s head”;  to the unimportant – or irrelevant – “Jaxon please try to avoid hitting me in the face next time you do that.”

But then – even in the heat of battle of one of those moments – and it really can feel like a battle sometimes, one of them will say something innocuous, or a make a noise or offer a look and I will be jarred out of my own ego and back into the reality, the love and the joy.  So far from berating myself about not feeling like a perfect parent all the time, I welcome those moments of frustration, because I know they will pass and I know that they offer me an opportunity to remind me of what I have.

Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Board

May 15th, 2015 Boyhood, Fatherhood, Self Discovery

These two characters are the co-founders of the Beachwood Boys Club. Jaxon and Skyer.   Duly appointed Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the board. I’ve also managed to sneak onto the board and we invite you to be members as well. To share your stories, experiences and wisdom. Laughter and joy, tears and frustrations. Moments of zen like enlightenment and bewildering bafflement.

The Beachwood Boys Club is the story of how the joy of innocence overcame the cynicism of ego.  Specifically, mine. How one four year – old along with his two year old brother – can educate, inspire and challenge a forty two year old man to reevaluate both his entrenched values as well as the world around him. Not in any self-conscious or deliberate “journey of self discovery” type of way. But rather in a quietly, unconscious and almost imperceptibly. Discovered through the activity of the everyday reality of being a parent. Simply of being. But all the more powerfully and profoundly as a result.