Taking the Job Home

Smart phones, internet, etc. allow us to be constantly connected. Of course, that has its good and bad points. One challenge that this is constant connectivity presents is getting away from the job.

Well, for me, as a teacher the summer is a perfect way to get away from the job. Or so you would think. Yes, my job ends to some degree at the school gates and more accurately in late June. However, in fact, I am always a teacher and an English teacher at that – whether my children or others around me like it or not.

Want to know what I mean? Check out a guest post I did for my blogger fried over at Insanity of Motherhood:


Top 40 Kids

A good education, nice friends, and a healthy diet…

The answer is: “What do parents want for their children?”

Sure, education and all that other stuff is important. I suppose. But, there is something else I want for my children. I’ve tried to guide, model, encourage, and reward. What is this thing I am referring to, you may wonder? Well, I’m talking wise musical choices.

I’ve had this on my mind since BR was born, 8 years ago. I wanted to inculcate him into the finer things in life. For my wife and I, that means the music of Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band. Those of you who read this blog know how I feel Bruce and the band (only one more month till the concert). Anyway, don’t we all want to expose our children to the things we enjoy and hope that they will share this enjoyment? I know it’s not just me. My blogger friend over at Life Takes Over (lifetakesover.wordpress.com/2012/08/07/take-this-town-the-album) literally had her children on her lap as she was listening to a favorite album. Who needs bedtime?

While I appreciate Life Takes Over’s direct approach, I’ve tried to be more subtle. And I was having success. BR really started getting into music when he was about 5. He would request that I turn on the radio in the car. As I flipped through the stations, I’d ask him;

“You like this song?”

“Do you like it, Daddy?”

“Ehh. Not one of my favorites.”

“Yeah. It’s just okay.”

This process would repeat itself till we found a song I liked. BR would announce afterwards that he liked the song as well. So obedient then – sigh.

During those “Glory Days” (Springsteen song title – subtle, right?), BR, SJ, (my 5.5 year-old) and I would have dance parties while listening to Springsteen’s greatest hits album. Those of you who know me well can pick yourselves off the floor – yes, I danced. BR memorized the first stanza of “Thunder Road” – my favorite Springsteen song. He wanted to learn the words – I was just there to facilitate. The musical indoctrination was going very well.

Times have changed.

I’m not sure when it happened or why. BR tolerated Springsteen, but he wanted something else. He turned into a – drum roll please – a top 40 kid. When I flipped through the dials and asked what he liked, he had a strong opinion, and my opinion no longer mattered. He wanted dance music, pop music, etc. Katy Perry seemed to be a particular favorite of his and the song “Dynamite” by Taio Cruz made his blood pressure rise.

My obedient boy was no longer. And he took his little brother SJ with him. I’m losing them. Now when we are in the car, the first thing BR asks is for Mom’s “music player” so he can plug in and tune us out. I am quite certain he is not listening to Bruce Springsteen.

Shall I adjust?

This summer the boys are hooked on “Call it Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen and “What Makes You Beautiful” by One Direction. I’ve heard the songs more than enough times. Both songs are catchy and singable. I’ll give them that. Razza frazza. My musical tastes might even be getting more diverse as their tastes grow.

I just hope my children leave a little room for Bruce as well. After all, I am trying to raise them the right way.


Pre-Family Thoughts

As part of my masters degree, I took a poetry class.  I came across a poem I wrote for the class.I remember being convinced that this poem was witty and wise. Now on the other side of the life situation, I can confirm it was witty and wise though not the full story.



Seems just like yesterday, we endlessly rambled on about

Baseball cards, gym class, and ‘Happy Days.’

Now, we converse regarding:

  1. Computer programs,
  2. Health Benefits,
  3. Marriage,
  4. Fatherhood, and
  5. Mortgage Payments


The immortal word of Charlie Brown never seemed more appropriate.

I swear I miss Saturday morning cartoons, Summer camp, and Sledding.


In a Disney decorated room,

The enthusiastic duo ask, through they are certain they have the answer

Isnt’ the baby adorable? Don’t you want to get married soon? Do you

want to have children?

Into their bliss filled faces I look,

and say slowly

I don’t want those things…yet.


Their smile fades into an astonished “ooh.”

Trying to soften the blow, I quickly add

The baby is cute.


I sit with the bubbly couple for a while

and listen to a discourse about:

the expense of diapers,

the cutest little smile,

early morning feedings,

adorable outfits , and

the dent on their sex lives.

I react with as much interest as I can stir: hmmph.


I guess some day these problems will be mine too.


There’s still some batter at the bottom of the bowl,

and I want to lick it up.


I slink out of the family house and wondering

Whatever happened to ‘Scooby Doo?’


Chuck E. Cheese Lessons

Chuck E. Cheese has a lot to offer. I didn’t always feel that way. Before I was a parent, I was an uncle. I went to the occasional Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. Kids running around, elevated noise level, and large rodent wandering the premises: no thanks.

Well, things change. My children love Chuck E. Cheese! Reasonably priced, seating and Wifi – Daddy doesn’t mind it either. So, off to Chucky we went to kill a couple of hours (it is an in between week you know – http://memyselfandkids.wordpress.com/2012/08/03/in-between-week/). I don’t like saying that. I believe that time is limited and should be savored. Anyway, I gained much more from the trip to Chucky Cheese than simply a pleasant diversion.

Prior to leaving BR, my 8 year-old, was scouring his closet. He was certain he had tokens and ticket vouchers from previous visits.

“Daddy, I found tokens, but I think I have more. Can you please help me look?”

“Okay.” I begin looking in the top shelf of his closet but do not see anything. “Nothing there.”

“Move the bear and the piggy bank.”

“Wait, here’s something,” I hand it to him.

“Daddy, it’s a token. Look, it’s a Chuck E. Cheese token.”

“I see that,” I grin slightly, trying to share in his enthusiasm.

He runs over to the plastic bag with other tokens. “I’ve got 19 tokens. Look, the coupon is for 83 tickets!”

When we get to Chuck E. Cheese, I purchase $10 worth of tokens and give BR some (the remainder go to SY – more on him later). He immediately runs off, cup of tokens in hand. Side note – one more thing I like about Chuck E. Cheese is that they stamp your hand as you walk in as a form of security to ensure groups exit together. So, the kids might get away, but they are not getting out.

BR returns to me later proud of his haul of newly won tickets. When I ask him how he got so many tickets, he tells me his M.O. He found the games that give the most tickets and plays them exclusively. He asks me to hold his tickets and stalks out more ticket-producing entertainment. When the tokens run out, he pleads for more, ready to forego ice cream (our usual method of persuading the boys to leave C.E.C.). I oblige.

Ultimately, BR ends up with over 300 tickets. He looks over his options for overpriced prizes (kind of like they used to do on Wheel of Fortune. I’ll have a deck of cards for $50, a one-year subscription to the fruit of the month club for $499…). He ultimately decides to retain his vouchers, determining that the available prizes are not worth his stash. I buy him ice cream anyway.

Back to SY. Ignoring his brother’s advice to check his closet for tokens and vouchers, SY runs out to the car and buckled himself in. When we arrived at Chuck E. Cheese, SY asks me to hold his tokens – not realizing that BR had more – and wanders off to the climbing area. He climbs up and down the structure a few times – looking out occasionally to ensure I was in the neighborhood. We exchange smiles, and he continues. From there, he makes his way to a game he has enjoyed in the past. It’s a simulated roller coaster that gives no tickets. We ride it together four times. After his usual stab at a driving game that he can’t control and provides no tickets, we find a few other games he likes. He plays and moves on. When BR comes by looking for a token, he gives him one (he has already given me two – I like the sports games).

SY cashes out his tickets, proud that his voucher reads 21. We go over to the prize area and SY picks out stickers. He instructs me to hold them and promptly forgets all about them. He enjoys his favorite ice cream – ices actually. By the time we are home he must go directly to the bathtub as he as worn as much as he has eaten.

With our visit over, Chuck E. Cheese has served it’s purpose. We have enjoyed a couple of hours. And I have learned more about my children.

BR – goal oriented, delays gratification, takes readily.

SY – fun oriented, easily gratified, shares readily.

Thanks, Chuck.