My son enlightens older sister on THE J WORD

I found myself in an unfamiliar place the other night – the laundry room. I try to visit it as seldom as I can, which is only hen I run out of clean underwear. (And what I’ve come to realize is that wearing underwear once – and yes, sometimes even twice, doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re dirty . . . )

But on this particular evening I was folding clothes when I was witness of and, at times, even a party to, a rather interesting conversation between my 10-year-old son and my 21-year-old daughter.

My son, who is in fifth grade, was enlightening my daughter on ALL of the “BAD WORDS.” bad words

Now keep in mind, this is a kid who up until last year thought “dang” was a curse word. Of course, the way I use it at times, it might be, but that’s another story . . .

On this evening, my son boasted that he now knew ALL of the bad words.

So, like any intrigued person would, my daughter asked him what some of them were.

“I don’t want to say them,” my son replied with angelic modesty.

“Just tell me one,” she pleaded.

But after he turned down a no-parent-in-sight cussing opportunity for a second time, she developed a new strategy. “What does one of them start with?”

“Well, there’s the J Word,” my son offered.

“The J Word?” she asked puzzled.

I was kinda scratching my head, too. And all I could think was, uh oh, those young scalawags have developed some NEW bad words since I was in middle school. Apparently, I wasn’t alone.

“The J Word? . . . I really don’t know what that is.” And then, “Dad! What’s a bad word that starts with the letter J?!”

Uh-oh. I was like a kid stuck with his hand writing bad words in the cookie jar.

“What?” I answered. I feigned not paying attention to one of the most interesting conversations of the first half of the 21st century.

After asking again, I told her I didn’t know ANY bad words that started with ANY letters.

She said I shouldn’t lie, and asked me again.

I don’t know, I answered. How about “juxtaposition?”

“I don’t think so,” she said.

“Jumping Jahosafat?” I suggested.

She wasn’t impressed.

Then I heard some conspiratorial whispering. This couldn’t be good.

“Jupiter!” I was hoping to derail the thing that was happening that I didn’t want to happen.

I heard a confused “What?” coming from my daughter. Then more whispering. Followed by an exasperated “That’s not even a bad word!”

And with that, their conversation was over.

And I was left with yet another J Word – just-as-well-that-I-don’t-know.





Son’s favorite fish dish reveals poor parenting protocol

My son's favorite fish turned out to be a bit of a surprise.

My son’s favorite fish turned out to be a bit of a surprise.

At what point do you, as a parent, realize that you’ve (ahem, how can I say this nicely) totally flubbed up? You usually don’t need a card in the mail to let you know, plus I’m not sure Hallmark makes a card that says like “Despite you stupid parent that you are, I plan to go very far. Signed, your scarred-for-life child.”

Has that ever happened to you? You know, where you kids do something and you realize, (as David Beirne would say) How did I get HERE?!!

I had that experience just last week.

I was sitting in a high school press box before I began broadcasting a game, and my son was with me. And as it is with every home game, we were enjoying a meal. This time it was a southern favorite of fried catfish and several sides, like hush puppies, cole slaw, and beans. And there was a criminally-rich cake of some sort that I won’t EVEN get into here, although I did get into it there . . .

Anyway, it was during the meal that I realized I had not just fallen short as a parent, but that I would probably struggle to raise a plant.

While we’re sitting there eating, my son says, very matter-of-factly, “This is the only kind of fish I like.”

I was stunned. I didn’t realize he liked fish at all, much less catfish.

Woohoooo!!!! Time to CEL-A-BRATE!!!

But just as I stood up and started to climb on the table and start gyrating to what was sure to become a You Tube sensation, I made the terrible mistake of asking a follow-up question – That’s great. I didn’t know you liked catfish?

And that’s when I was smacked in the face with this:

“No, not catfish. Hush puppies. That’s my favorite kind of fish.”

The room became instantly silent.

As quietly and discreetly as I could, I climbed down from the table, crawled UNDER the table, and looked in vain for any lethal gas that I could quickly inhale.

Ohhhhhhh boy. Has it really come to this?

I guess it’s time that I faced up to a few other (ahem, how can I put this nicely) “enhancements” that I MIGHT have passed along to my son in hopes of getting him to eat or . . . heck, I don’t know. Do something.

First of all, broccoli isn’t made of chocolate. Neither are carrots.

President Obama isn’t actually the voice of Sponge Bob Square Pants.

You’re not, in fact, put in jail if you miss a question on a math test.

Babies don’t come from

The health of my heart isn’t ACTUALLY determined by how many hours of football I watch.

Or how many cheeseburgers I eat.

The Shake the Weight device doesn’t actually work.

Oh wait! That’s not one I made up. Whew.

As you can see, I have fallen short as a parent. BUT, I plan to do better. From here on out, I won’t sugarcoat anything. Or make up anything just to get him to manipulate him.

Of course, I can’t start until tomorrow. Afterall, it IS a federal law that kids have to be in bed by 7 p.m. . . .




My OCD is a bit OOC

I love technology. I’m a sucker the latest, bestest new gadgets that hit the market. In fact, I just bought a new smart phone. I MIGHT have it figured out by the time it’s time for me to upgrade to a new phone. Maybe . . .

But even though I love technology, I’m not always as crazy about some of the things that come along with it. For instance, I love to text just as much as the next teenager, but I’m not crazy about all the abbreviations. I’m about sick of all the LOLing and BFFing and IMOing and BTSOOMing.

Ahhhhhh. If I only had enough room at home to store THIS MUCH peanut butter. I'd be livin' the good life!

Ahhhhhh. If I only had enough room at home to store THIS MUCH peanut butter. I’d be livin’ the good life!

But there is one abbreviation that does still kinda ring true, and that’s OCD.


I suppose the fact that I’m all uptight about abbreviations might be a clue. In fact, I’m beginning to think that my OCD is a bit OOC – Out Of Control.

I’ve got to admit, I was doing a LOT better on the OCD front. I wasn’t having meltdowns if my sandwich wasn’t cut right. I didn’t lose sleep if my underwear wasn’t folded properly. And I never missed a beat if my plate wasn’t turned just so before I ate.

Well, ok, I’m lying on that last one. But I PROMISE I’m doing better on the others.

Well, I was, that is, until I was brought down by a simple food staple.

Peanut Butter.

Yep, ole Peter Pan got me.

It started simply enough. My son was eating a lot of peanut butter. So I would start buying the next jar before we ran out. BUT THEN I found myself buying the new jar ASAP after I finished a jar. Even though I buy the yacht-size jar, I JUST KNEW we would run out quickly if I didn’t buy the next jar.

Ok, I guess I can live with OCD in ONE AREA. Unfortunately, my daughter likes CHUNKY PEANUT BUTTER. So . . . then I started having to buy the auxiliary jar AS SOON AS we ate the last morsel of the current jar. In fact, in the peanut butter arena, I felt an uncontrollable urge to dash to the store RIGHT AWAY, day or night.

Maybe that’s not so bad. And maybe it wouldn’t have been either, if it hadn’t been for those darn trash bags. Yep, I soon found myself with a very pressing need to have a second package of trash bags on hand. And I sometimes found it hard to eat if I didn’t have a spare package on hand.

Well, maybe not hard to eat, but hard to do some other, less important things, like work, for instance.

And other items have been added to the OCD shopping list. Important stuff, like milk, bread, apples, Ding Dongs, Pop Tarts, and yes, even the drinks I put in my son’s lunch everyday.

And even and ESPECIALLY the ziplock bags I use to pack items in his lunch. If we should somehow fall under 500 bags . . . well, I don’t EVEN want to tell you what happens.

But I really didn’t realize I had a problem . . . until the other day, when I found myself wanting to have a THIRD jar of peanut butter on hand.

Ok. So maybe we have a wee little problem here . . .

But I swear I’m working on it. I REFUSED to let myself buy that third jar! See? I’m already making progress.

Of course, it is Friday, and I may or may not be wearing my Friday underwear.

And there’s a good chance at lunch I won’t rotate my plate in ANY direction to have it just right before I start eating.

Well, I won’t rotate it IF I set it down right to start with . . .

Grilling with my son

My son often likes to help me around the grill, which is kind of strange because he won’t actually eat anything that’s cooked on the grill. I tried cooking some peanut butter on the grill one time, but I’ve been forbidden from ever speaking of that incident.

So it was no real surprise when he wanted to help me grill some hamburgers and hot dogs on Labor Day.

We set the grill up in the shade, and placed two lawn chairs nearby in the shade. It wasn’t outrageously hot, anyway, so it was actually quite pleasant sitting out. burgers on the grill

We got the charcoal lit, but not without some trepidation about just exactly how high the explosion from the lighter fluid might be.

The fire began to settle down, and so did we, father and son sitting next to each other, me sipping an iced tea.

We sat in silence for a while. Comfortable. Content.

“Dad, do you think I’d make a good dentist?” my son asked.

I told him of course he would. He was smart enough to do it, and his literal and direct bedside manner would . . . well, he’s smart enough to do it.

There were some reservations on his part. “I’m not sure. I don’t know if I’d like to have my hands in other people’s mouths.”

I didn’t think it would be that bad, I said. It would just be part of the job. Then I suggested that instead of a dentist he might become an orthodontist.

“What do they do,” he asked.

They’re the doctors that put braces on people’s teeth, I explained.

He wasn’t sure about that one either. We sat quietly for a few more minutes. I worked on the fire, trying to get it just so before starting to cook.

“Dad, what’s it like being an adult,” asked my son, now on a completely different topic.

Hmmmmm. How do you answer that one? In fact, I hadn’t really thought about it.

Basically you just work and pay bills and take care of kids, I said jokingly. But I instantly wished I hadn’t because I could see how serious he was.

It’s good. You get to do things that you like to do. You get to visit friends and go places . . .

“But I already get to do all of that,” he pointed out.

Hmmmmm. He had me there.

But you get to do other things too, I said, much like a used car salesman trying to gloss over a few minor dents to make a car look a little more appealing to a hesitant customer.

You get to do work that you want to do, work you enjoy. And you get to have a family.

We returned to the quiet as he digested all of that.

It was time to put the burgers on, and again, we sat in silence, the only sound the sizzle of meat on the grill.

I couldn’t think of a better way to spend Labor Day weekend.

My son then broke the silence. “Dad, when you’re in your seventies, will you tell me what it’s like to be a granddad?”

I’d love to, I replied. And honestly, I couldn’t think of anything that would make me happier.

Son finds use for seldom used words

You know the old cliché of boys hiding under their covers in bed, reading comic books with a flashlight.

Well, I think my son might be doing that. But I’m afraid to pull the covers back because of what I might find him reading. I’m a bit worried that I might catch him reading  (are you sitting down?) a thesaurus.

My son has the uncanny ability to use a weird word at an awkward time.

My son has the uncanny ability to use a weird word at an awkward time.

I don’t suspect this because he seems to be lacking sleep or anything. I mean, normally I don’t make him go to bed until the late movie is over anyway.

Nor is he putting on a display of big six-syllable words.

Nope. Instead, he finds a way to employ some seldom-used words in rather unique ways.

For example, just a few weeks ago we were watching some Arena Football on TV. Yes, I understand subjecting him to non REAL football could be part of the problem. But as my grandmother would have said, Arena Football beats NO football all to pieces.

So we’re sitting there watching the game (well, I was watching the game. I think he was reading a book on physics or something). He asked me what the score was.

Now, I understand that they do, in fact, keep score, in Arena Football. But I was really just watching just to be watching football. In fact, I barely even knew who was playing, much less who was winning. But I looked at the score on the screen and told him.

His reply? “Oh, no. I bet the losing team is heartstricken?”

Uh? Heartstricken?

My first thought was that I need to ban him from watching Lifetime movies with me anymore.

My second thought was that I’m not sure that the players in Arena Football keep up with the score much more than I do.

Ok, so maybe the players do get a bit down after a loss. But I’ve got a feeling that by the time they’ve showered and cleaned up, they’ve probably shaken off any strickeness of the heart by the time. In fact, they’re probably ready to grab a beer and relax for a bit.

But his take on football doesn’t stop there. Last night, I was watching some of the opening games of the college football season. I don’t really like any of the teams that were playing, but I think it’s a law or something that when there’s football on TV, then your TV has to be turned to football. Or maybe it’s in the constitution or some such document.

Anyway, I had on the game between South Carolina and Texas A&M, and I’m thinking how great it is to have football back after so many months away.

It was at this point my son turns to me and says, “I don’t really like college football all that much.” When I asked him why not, he said, “I don’t like all the hoopla surrounding it.”

All the hoopla surrounding it . . . ?

Ok, I’ll admit that if Howard Cosell and Hillary Clinton had a kid together, my son might be him. But using the word “hoopla”? Has it come to that?

I think my son’s vocabulary can best be summed up with this story. As we were leaving my office the other day, my son was carrying his backpack over his shoulder, but was carrying a book he was reading in his hand. As we left, someone asked him if the book was good. His reply?

“I’m really not sure yet. I’m just in the wee pages.”

The wee pages? What is he doing, spending his nights flying to Scotland after I go to sleep. “Ah, lad, tis a good book so far, but I find myself only in the wee pages.”

The co-worker said that wasn’t a word you hear very often. “Now,” I said, “you understand my life.”

That experience led me to only one conclusion. I need to buy that boy some comic books!

Trying to Make the Grade

I woke up last Monday morning to something new – there was no sense of anxiety.

At least it seemed new for the first day of the new school year. I’m not going to say there weren’t any problems at all. My son was already in full Do-I-have-to-go-to-school mode. But all-in-all, it was a good morning.

My son wasn't the happiest of campers when it was time to return to school this week.

My son wasn’t the happiest of campers when it was time to return to school this week.

Everything ran smoothly. My son got up, ate, dressed, got ready. We have a routine. And as long as we follow it, things go pretty well. Usually, if we get off the routine, it’s my fault, not his.

It was interesting to see him start a new school year, his fifth grade year. It’s hard to believe he’s already that old. Like many parents, I often wonder where the time has gone.

But one thing I’ve never had to worry about are his grades. He’s always done well in school, and so far, he’s off to another good start this year.

Grades. It’s often how we determine how our kids are doing. If they’re making good grades, we often tell ourselves that our kids are doing well. But poor grades? Well, they better start working harder. Life is tough, they’re eventually going to make a living, etc.

I suppose that’s one indicator of how kids are doing, how well they’re adjusting, how well they are learning to balance responsibilities at school and home with other activities they enjoy. But certainly it’s not the only way. There are other factors to look at.

At the same time, what about us, the parents? How do we determine if we as parents are doing a good job? How do we know if we’re earning a “passing grade” raising our kids?

Sure, we can look at our kids grades at school. If those grades are good, then we can pat ourselves on the back.

But what about all the other things we’re supposed to be doing as parents? Are we meeting the needs of our kids on a daily basis?

Are we there for our kids when they need us?

It’s hard to do well on a job well when we start with no real experience. Sure we can read books on parenting, but really that doesn’t always mean much when we’re faced with parenting problems on a daily basis. We are then forced to learn on the job. And often, in retrospect, we wish we had handled things differently. Better.

All we can do is try to be the best parent we can be. To teach our kids the things we think are most important. To teach them responsibility. Being courteous to others. Earning and taking care of their money and possessions. And that’s just the beginning.

There’s no real way to know how well we’re performing as parents. Sure, we might get a few indications along the way, but nothing definite.

It would be like taking a class for an entire year with no tests. And then at the end, you take the test, yet you were never really sure what to study for. But in the case of parents, the class lasts for years before the grade is revealed.

In our case, we just have follow our instincts as parents. And in the end, we can then look at our kids to determine the grade we deserve.



I’d Like to Report a Case of Parental Abuse

I need someone, ANYONE, to please send help my way. I’m the victim of parental abuse, and it’s not pretty.

My son is MAKING me watch Avatar – not the movie, but the animated TV show about a bald kid with arrow on his head.

Can you say “Excessively Cruel”?

Now if I was a kid – you know, like my son – I might think the show was pretty cool. I mean it’s got a pretty good story line, an intriguing plot, some laughs, and some really cool things that happen.

The Avatar is this cool kid with an arrow on his head - not that I like the show or anything.

The Avatar is this cool kid with an arrow on his head – not that I like the show or anything.

Not that I like it, of course. I’m an adult! My son is MAKING me watch it.

It all started earlier this summer when my daughter introduced him to the show on Netflix. They both seemed to have a lot of fun watching it. And my son, as you probably guessed already, loved the show.

The show recently started playing on some channel I didn’t know we got – in fact, I didn’t know we got any channels other than ESPN and the Weather Channel. I was quite amazed.

So my son decides that since Avatar is such quality television, that I need to watch it, too – no matter the consequences.


I’ve been able to stay awake for most of it. And have even managed to stay off of my cool, new smartphone while I watch. avatar 2

Basically, the show is about this Avatar kid. The Avatar is a long line of people who are charged with protecting the world and making sure it’s peaceful and in balance between Air, Water, Earth, and Fire. As each Avatar dies, a new one is born. So this one Avatar dude, Aang, has been missing for about 100 years because he ended up frozen in some large iceberg or dessert or something. Well, these two kids about his age from a Waterbending tribe find him and rescue him. Now the Avatar is roaming the world in search of training so he can prepare himself to fight the Fire Lord.

Not that I’m really paying attention to what’s going on or anything.

Well, my son is at school. I guess it wouldn’t hurt if I went ahead and got today’s episodes over with. It was kind of at a cliffhanger when our episode finished yesterday. Or, at least, I think it might have been. I’m not completely sure. Did I mention my son is making me watch this?