Archive for the ‘Memories, Dreams, Reflections’ Category

Winter memory …

February 5, 2014

I remember one winter during a snow storm, my mother and I made an intrepid but foolish run to the shopping mall about 45 minutes from our house.

We never made it.

Instead, about 3/4 of the way, an oncoming sedan slid down a hill, veered into our lane and thrust us into what I consider the most undeniably violent collision I’ve even been in. Aside from hopelessly lost heaps of metal, my bloody nose, sore shoulders and shock, we were all fine.

This was before cell phones.

We walked to a nearby station and called Dad. At once, he set out to rescue us from that storm, which had worsened considerably by then.

Mom was worried about the car, our insurance, and what Dad would say. Dad later said he couldn’t care less about all that. He arrived relieved to find us OK, and we continued slowly home, early afternoon, in the very storm which by now was atrocious.

Thirty minutes became an hour, which became two.

Along the way, still some 30 miles from home, we neared the crest of a steep snowy hill. Dad’s old pickup crawled ahead, lost grip then stopped – then slipped and skipped backwards and dumped sideways into the ditch.


Still traumatized, and me with tissue in my nose, we three abandoned the dry heat of the truck, and headed out on foot for the nearest structure in sight, a municipal shop at the top of the hill.

The shop men let us in, put on coffee, and there Dad called a tow truck.

This was before debit cards. When the tow truck arrived and settled on a price, Dad produced his check book on the spot and wrote the bearded man a note for $150, no questions asked.

I’d never seen him do that before. At that time and in those parts, that was pretty decent dough.

“That was the easiest one hundred and fifty dollars I’ve ever spent” he would later say whenever we told the story of that day.

And every time he said it, it made me feel safe.


One lucky kindergartner is going to shine in art class next week

September 14, 2013

HughDrawingHere we have the results of an hour-long anatomy drawing lesson, buckets of frustrated tears, a few animated pep talks, and the resolve of one determined five-year-old boy.

At his request, I left the room for 10 minutes while he made his final attempt. I came back to find this.

I told him Dad was super proud of his drawing – but “super-duper” proud that he didn’t give up.

Naturally, he was pretty super-duper proud of himself too.

Debate: Avocado Sandwich

July 22, 2013

During our Skype session tonight, Philo challenged me to an open debate (we’ve done this for years now.)

The topic, which he chose at random, was “Avocado Sandwich.”

He was on the side against (they are bad), I was on the side for (they are good.)

He made his first major error in his opening statement by taking up the issue of taste, although he did so quite aggressively and at great length. I countered ruthlessly, citing the folly of using opinions in a debate, and I gained the upper hand by simply emphasizing the fact of nutritional value. He fired back with ramblings about pesticides and chemicals used in white bread. I closed in, clarifying organic avocados and whole wheat bread from raw ingredients.

He turned his head to the side and tipped back slightly, looking off, deep into the distance and speaking under his breath. Searching, grasping.

After a prolonged silence, I told him to go rebuild his argument and let his little brother chat for a while.

We talked about Pokemon.


A moment with Picasso

February 24, 2013

“Each second we live is a new and unique moment of the universe, a moment that will never be again. And what do we teach our children? We teach them that two and two make four, and that Paris is the capital of France. When will we also teach them what they are? We should say to each of them: Do you know what you are? You are a marvel. You are unique. In all the years that have passed, there has never been another child like you. Your legs, your arms, your clever fingers, the way you move. You may become a Shakespeare, a Michelangelo, a Beethoven. You have the capacity for anything. Yes, you are a marvel. And when you grow up, can you then harm another who is, like you, a marvel? You must work, we must all work, to make the world worthy of its children.”

~ Pablo Picasso.

15 Fascinating Scientific Facts About Siblings

January 21, 2013

Came across this interesting collection of tidbits about brothers and sisters today, enjoy!  Read more.

If a child lives …

January 18, 2013

If a child lives with criticism,
he learns to condemn.

If a child lives with hostility,
he learns to fight.

If a child lives with ridicule,
he learns to be shy.

If a child lives with shame,
he learns to feel guilty.

If a child lives with tolerance,
he learns to be patient.

If a child lives with encouragement,
he learns confidence.

If a child lives with praise,
he learns to appreciate.

If a child lives with fairness,
he learns justice.

If a child lives with security,
he learns to have faith.

If a child lives with approval,
he learns to like himself.

If a child lives with acceptance and friendship,
He learns to find love in the world.

    ~ Dorothy Law Nolte

The power of choice

January 15, 2013

When my oldest son Philo was about two years old, he was utterly defiant. So I thought.

Once day, as he repeatedly tapped his dinner plate with a spoon, I said, “Philo, stop doing that.”

He continued and I repeated, this time more firmly, “STOP doing that!”

He glanced at me, and then looked away and mumbled, “GO doing that.”

It struck me as odd that he would respond in that way. I noted at the time he was learning about opposites.

That night, I while reading a favorite parenting book I read that children from a young age want to assert themselves as choice makers. It has less to do with defiance as it does the human impulse to be an independent thinker.

I can relate. Who can’t?

I realized he wasn’t being defiant by saying the opposite, but simply trying to make his own choice. I hypothesized that if given a set of choices, he would cooperate with my wishes.

The next evening at cleanup time, instead of announcing “it’s cleanup time,” I experimented by asking, “Philo, do you want Dad to help you clean up or Mom?”

“Dad,” he said eagerly as he started cleaning up right away.

Likewise, at bath time I asked, “Philo, do you want Dad to carry you to the bath or do you want to walk there like a big boy?”

“Big boy!” he declared, marching proudly to the bathroom.

After several days of this, and into the week, months and years that followed, it was clear that he was on his way to independence as a cooperative and proud choice maker.

And it sure made dinner time a lot easier 🙂

The 90’s – When Hip Hop was for real.

February 4, 2012

I’ve long been a fan of hip hop from the 1990’s, before it got crazy with guns, gangs, booty, and bling bling.

There was a time when it all about the music, the rhymes, and the dance – and I’m lucky enough to have been alive when hip hop was at its best. But I’m twice as lucky now to have a couple of lil’ players in tha house that can appreciate good beats when they hear them, as you’ll see below. Peace, I’m out.

And what grade is Grade in?

January 17, 2012

When our youngest son Hugh started talking about his new friend Grade, I thought maybe his name was Gray, or Grey, and I didn’t think much about it.  Another pre-school friend with an interesting name and one who I would hear much about.

But as the stories became more frequent and detailed – Grade did this, Grade said that, Grade always does this, Grade’s mommy does this and his daddy does that, Grade has this toy and he has that toy – I started to suspect that maybe Hugh was exaggerating about Grade. As it turns out he was.

In fact Grade doesn’t exist at all.

My wife had figured this out long before I did, and so she wasn’t the least bit surprised when I finally whispered one night after dinner, “You know, I think Grade is Hugh’s imaginary friend.”

At first, as any parent might, I simply thought it was cute.  But as I considered all the possible reasons why children (mine especially) would develop an imaginary friend, my admiration turned to curiosity and finally to worry. I don’t know why really, but it worried me. I think part of it is that we work so hard at honesty in our home. I always expect the boys to be truthful with me, to the degree that I’ve told them if they come to me with anything, I promise not to get mad about it.

I suppose now, as Grade has become a part of daily conversation, usually at dinner time, I’m OK with it. I saw this article today, and it further helped me to accept Grade as a healthy part of Hugh’s development. After all, the more I think about it and reflect back to when I was little, the more Grade sounds to me like Tommy, my own imaginary friend.

I think we’ll be OK with Grade.

Christmas Eve mystery? I should think not

December 24, 2011

Precisely three minutes and 12 seconds after finally tucking the over-tired boys into bed, Philo got up and innocently announced from the top of the stairs, “Mommy, my loose tooth fell out!” And yet this, I suspect, was his diabolical plan all along: to wait until Christmas Eve, and there in the stillness of the top bunk, to endure the pain of ripping the incisor out prematurely only to nestle it (root and all) beneath his pillow, thereby effectively double working both Lady Tooth Fairy and St. Nicholas. I assure you this child is clever – clever, I say – but make no mistake about this: I. know. his. game.