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 – 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.

One More Day

Regrets, woulda, coulda shoulda. If only…  I could fill a scroll. It’s hardly a novel thought. It’s been portrayed in books and movies – does “Back to the Future” ring a bell? I recently read For One More Day by Mitch Albom, a book that focuses on this theme.

The protagonist, Charley ‘Chick’ Benetto, is down on his luck and is ready to commit suicide. He drives back to his hometown where he intends to kill himself. After getting into a car crash SPOILER ALERTAVOID THE PARENTHESESS (ultimately, the reader recognizes the rest of the story takes place while Charlie is in a coma), he walks to the water tower which is just behind the baseball fields, climbs the tower like he did as a kid and jumps off. He miraculously survives. Upon landing, he looks up and for a fleeting moment sees his mother who died 8 years before. He decides to walk to his childhood home and — lo and behold — his mother is still there and behaving seemingly as if nothing had ever occurred. Charley’s life had really spun out of control when his mother died, and reached rock bottom when he received a card from his daughter telling him about her wedding (he hadn’t been invited). Charley spends the day with his mother and the reader learns about his life, her life, and their life as a family. One line which is stated multiple times is uttered by Charley’s father – “Mamma’s boy or daddy’s boy, Chick? What’s it gonna be?” Charley choose his absentee father (Charlie’s parents divorced at a time and place when divorce was not as acceptable an occurrence as it is today.) It is not till his mother’s sudden passing that he realizes he made the wrong choice.

My mother was visiting with my family this past Father’s Day, and she read the book. We agreed that it was a quick simple read, likable, and thought provoking. Inevitably, the conversation came around to us both evaluating ourselves as parents and children. My father and I were like the Harry Chapin song – Cat’s in the Cradle. When I was younger, he was not around so much. As I got older, he wanted to be around more, but I was in the “hanging with your parents is not cool” phase. In the end, we had a good but not complete relationship. When I was a senior in high school, I had an English teacher who was very touchy feely (not in the headline-making way). He told us to go home, tell our parents we loved them, and note their reactions. What was this guy talking about? I was too embarrassed and couldn’t do it. However, the exercise made me think – why couldn’t I tell my mother I loved her? I did, so why not say it? As I grow older, I have come to appreciate and respect my mother more and more. Now of course, we still have our bumps, but I truly believe I am a good son, and she is a great mom.

I wonder about my own children: mamma’s boys or daddy’s boys. Can’t you be both? I want my boys to look up to, respect, love, admire, and feel the same for both my wife and I. Now, of course, they don’t get the same reaction, emotion, or attitude from both my wife and I. After all, we are individuals, and we behave differently. So, it is quite possible that the children could feel a greater connection to one of us as we are giving them more of what they need.  Either way, it need not discount the relationship each child has with the other parent. So what will happen when my children get to that point and wonder? What will cross their minds and become a woulda coulda shouda? What will their ‘if only’ be? What will they wish for their one more day?  So, yes, we all have regrets. The key is to try and overcome them just like Chick Benetto ultimately does.

Very Manly, I Must Say.

Men, hide your women. Women – go into your homes and lock the doors. I am feeling virile.

Let me explain – I’m not necessarily the typical guy that you see pictured on Father’s day cards — I don’t own power tools, I don’t eat red meat (I don’t even own a barbecue), and I feel great indifference towards cars.

All that changed last Friday. My family and I were on the way to my sister-in-law’s house for the Sabbath when, all of a sudden, the car started making noises. At first, I thought it was another car on the road but then realized it was our own Honda Accord that was experiencing a malfunction.

When we got to our destination, I got down and looked under the car. That’s right, I did – damn it! Okay, so I was still in my suit and put a towel under me, but I still had a faint smell of grease on me afterward.

The next night, along with my brother-in-law, nephew, and I jacked up the car and took a look underneath. There was not much we could do. However,I had  to fix the car so that we could get home safely. So, I did. My fix — which included duct tape, McGyver-style — lasted until about two minutes into the drive home.

The next morning we were supposed to go to a pool party at my brother’s house, several hours away. After some research (thanks to my wife and Google) we determined that the culprit was the heat shield, and that it could be safely removed. So, once again I jacked up the car (on my own, thank you very much) and — with the proper tools — I removed the part.

I saved the day. My family and I were able to go on our road trip. Pretty manly, I’d say.

But wait, there’s more.

This past week, I got a power tool for father’s day. I really wanted it too. I now am the proud owner of a weed whacker. I look forward to using it and whacking some weeds. They’ll know whose boss after I’m done.

Then, there was yesterday. My neighbor and I rented a power washer. There was no stopping me. I cranked that sucker up so that the dirt and mold that had invaded the siding of my house didn’t stand a chance. No sir, not on my watch they didn’t. I pushed into bushes and climbed the ladder all in the name of cleansing my home. I even washed the car and cleaned up the oils that formed on the side walk. This is my castle, damn it.

I insisted my boys take a turn using the power washer despite their fear of the noise it was making and the vibration. After all, one day they will be men too, and I must prepare them.

So, how do I top off this manly feeling? I was thinking of grilling up a steak and watching Gladiator. Unga Bunga!