This Should Not Be Happening

I owned recess time. I was a star. In elementary school, recess meant sports. Depending upon the season and mood, my friends and I played football, basketball, baseball, or wall ball. I was captain, quarterback, etc. It felt good. I was not shy on the field/court.  My upbringing as the youngest of four boys in a sports-crazed family served me well.

Then, things changed.

As third and fourth grade came around, girls came into the picture. And things got confusing. And awkward. By the time of the graduation trip in sixth grade, one of my best friends had a girlfriend. Did they kiss? I dunno know.  Couldn’t we just focus on sports? Why talk or consider something other than sports?  I understood it, reveled in it, etc. There were girls I liked and those who liked me. I guess. I had no idea how to express such an interest. I was not ready.

By the time I got to high school, some things had changed. Unfortunately, some things had not. I was still awkward and shy. I had a crush on a girl – Shannon – who was in 10th grade when I was in 9th. An older woman. Anyway, we had algebra together, and I sat right behind her.  I used to space out and dream of her. My dreams did not get much beyond holding her. Sometimes, I would find myself wandering behind her in the hallways. No, I was not creepy. Anyway, I never did have much conversation with her, though I did enjoy a friendly relationship with the girl next to her.

I lost out because I was unable to overcome my shyness.

This past week I returned to the high school where I work. The inner city high school is located in East New York Brooklyn. It was nice to see some of my colleagues and catch up on families, summer activities, and gossip. However, the talk was much more than I expected. One of my colleagues informed me about the passing of a student who would have been in the 10th grade.

While I did not know the student, I was terribly saddened. I was informed that he was shot, gang style. Someone knocked on his door and shot him in the head. He lingered in a coma for a month before succumbing to death.

Why? Why did this terrible thing happen? Why are kids killing each other? Someone said it was over a girl. Are you kidding me? At 14, kids kill each other over a girl?  What kind of relationship can a 14-year-old have? This is not Romeo and Juliet (who did not have much of a relationship either, by the way). Did he make a pass at a girl who was “taken”?  Does it matter?

I’m sure there’s a middle ground here somewhere, between me – too shy to have a real conversation with a girl – and those who would shoot someone because he got in the way of a ‘relationship’.

A dead boy, a grieving mother – this should not be happening.

Where’s the……..?!

Thanks to an invitation from memyselfandkids to do a guest post on his blog, I’m collaborating with him on an issue for the ages: Why men (and boys) can’t find anything.

It’s a ‘he said, she said’ kind of thing. Read on for the mom perspective then check out the dad perspective over at


“Honey! Where’s the [insert any food item here]?”

“In the fridge.”

“I’m looking in the fridge. I don’t see it.”

“It’s on the bottom shelf.”

“No it’s not.”

“Yes it is. It might have gotten pushed to the back. Move stuff around. You’ll see it.”

[Shuffling and banging noises come from the direction of the fridge.]

“Nope. Not in there.”

[Heavy sigh escapes lips.]

“If I open that fridge and find [insert any food item here], I won’t be too impressed.”

[Heavy footsteps toward the fridge.]

“Here it is, right in front of the leftovers.”

“Oh, thanks. I didn’t see it.”

“No kidding.”

I’ll give you one guess who was rummaging in the fridge unable to find what they were looking for and who opened the door and put their hand on said item.

You’re right. It was my husband doing the looking and me doing the finding.

And this is pretty much how it goes for anything, not just food items.

Admittedly, when it comes to something in the fridge, it makes sense that I can put my hand on anything my family asks for because I do 98% of the grocery shopping, and most of the cupboard and fridge restocking when I get home from the store. My brain is like one of those coming-soon-new-fangled fridges with an LCD display of the contents of the fridge, constantly being updated as items are removed or added.

But the same goes for toys, clothes, documents, etc. We have IKEA toy “boxes” for the kids.

Photo credit: IKEA

And no matter what the kids are playing with, they always come to me to help them find the toy they’re looking for.

As if I know which bucket they put said toy in when they cleaned up the day before (because my kids always put away their own toys. wink)

And why is it that I can find things in my house, but my family cannot? It happens so often that I set out to find an answer.

Here’s what Google told me:

“Men are hunters, so if they can’t find their prey, they instinctively freeze motionless and wait for it to wander into their field of vision. Women are gatherers, so they move things around and look behind things until they find what they’re looking for.”

Take my children for example. My male child automatically asks me to find his toys for him. He doesn’t even start to go through his toy bins. He just stands in front of them, motionless I might add, and says, “Mommy, you find my car carrier? You find my dump twuck?”

My daughter, on the other hand, pulls out every one of her toy bins and systematically launches items out of the bins and onto the floor in an effort to locate whatever it is she is looking for. Nine times out of 10 she finds it and I never hear a peep out of her. Granted there’s a mountain of toys the size of Everest in front of the bins, but hey, at least she found her toy.

And it’s not just finding things that I have the upper hand in. Remembering things related to the household also falls to me. Doctor’s appointments, stuff we need at the store, play dates, school/daycare/camp schedules, extracurricular activities and so on are all part of my job.

It’s not that my husband can’t do it. It just seems that ever since my daughter was born, I have naturally been in charge of taking care of our family. It works for us. Sometimes I get frustrated. A lot of times I’m exhausted. But ultimately, I don’t think I’d have it any other way.


Well, that’s the female perspective. I’m sure you guys have found lots of stuff in your day, but it never seems to be when I’m around. (w­ink)

Check out the male perspective of this little issue over on where talented guest blogger and dad extraordinaire memyselfandkids is blogging today.

Slow Down and Bond

I lost my son. I don’t mean metaphorically. I mean I literally lost my son.   He was in one place at one moment and was not there a few moments later. This was very upsetting in a multitude of ways.

On Friday afternoon, I went to my nearly 8 year old son’s school to pick him up.  He sees this as a treat – apparently, he is not a big fan of the school bus.  In fact when he gets off the bus, he typically runs to the house as if staying on the bus might mean more homework. Anyway, I figured since I had the day off, I would pick him up which would give us an opportunity to bond. At least, that is what I imagined.  We would run errands and talk along the way. Efficient and useful bonding time.

When pick-up time rolled around, I was in a rush. Too much to do and too little time – the usual story.  So, rather than casually going about the errands, we instead would be rushing. Still, I was optimistic for our chances to bond. The first two errands went well – we were in and out of the bank and dry cleaners quickly and painlessly.  No lines – my version of heaven.  We actually slapped hands after each errand – we were sharing the joy of efficiency. My son was truly getting something from our time together.

Our last errand entailed dropping movies off at the library.  Now, the tricky part of this errand would be getting back home. You see there is a left hand turn you have to make to head back in the direction of our house which requires much patience and ultimately a daring do that would make James Bond hesitate.   Much time would have been needed between parking the car and having to make the turn. So, I decided to send my son to drop the movies into the slot. Before sending him off to do the errand on his own, I asked him multiple times if he knew where the slot was. He kept saying yes in that way that children can which makes you feel like you are asking a ludicrous question.  I then told him, “Meet me here. I’ll be here. I just have to turn the car around. Do you understand? Right here.  Just come back here.” More bored shakes of the head. The whole errand should have taken less than a minute.  When 3 minutes slowly ticked by … where is he, what the hell is up with him, oh come on, where did he go, he said he knew where to go … I parked the car while trying not to panic. I ran into the library and was told no one saw anyone fitting his description. I was in front of the library with nearly 10 minutes past since I dropped him off.  I thought of that movie Ransom, I thought about going to the police station which was across the street, and I thought about calling my wife.  I was freaking out and turning my head around furiously like a merry-go-round when a man poked his head out of a car and said, “Are you looking for a little boy? He’s up the block.” I ran while alternating my mutterings between: I am going to kill him, thank G-d, and what was I thinking?  After finally catching up to my son (I ran up two other blocks before finding the one the man was referring to), I grabbed his hand and tried to remain patient. I wanted to give him a lecture, but settled for I was really nervous, why didn’t you come back to where we talked about, and you have to listen. Okay, so I gave a brief lecture. Who wouldn’t?

As we rode home together and my heart beat slowed to its regular pace, I peeked at my son in the rearview mirror.  I came to two understandings.  Firstly, I was not going to tell my wife about this. The second understanding was that though he is big brother it does not mean he is necessarily responsible.  Rushing and bonding don’t go together.

Year of ?

It is that time of year again. Now, saying that at the end of December means different things to different people. For some, it may mean: it’s time to return gifts,  it’s time to blow off another holiday party, it’s time to drag out the winter coat, it’s time to root for good ole – fill in the alma matter, it’s time to let out another belt buckle. However, what I mean when I say that – at least for the purpose of this blog entry – is it’s time to ruminate. Yes, the end of December is perfect for us over thinkers. We get to consider what changes we can strive for in the coming year. We get to look inside ourselves and focus on our inefficiencies. Ahh, the joy.  Hey – I have Rosh HaShana, so I get to do this twice a year. Joy to the world baby!

So, what should it be this year? What part of myself should I strive to improve?  I don’t smoke, I’m not overweight, and am perfectly comfortable with the amount I do drink, so that takes care of the three most common resolutions. In the past, I’ve focused on communication. It was two years ago actually, and I called it the Y.O.C.  I alerted my friends to this resolution. I had resolved to insist on better communication as by gosh I was fed up with poor communication and I was not going to take it anymore. It seemed that a number of my friends felt that returning phone calls and emails was optional and if they took 10 days to do so, well so be it.  I had had enough. If they were not going to get back to me, well, I was not going to reach out again.  Some friendships were disturbed and some were permanently changed, but I felt good about my line in the sand.  So, again, what should this year be? Well I know what it won’t be:

1. The year of caught up sleep – No late mornings seem to be in store in my household. Love those kids.

2. The year of extra money – I can’t complain – I can pay the bills and eat. Although it would be nice to not be perpetually budgeting.

3. The year of hair growth – Can you blame a guy for wishing?

4. The year of no soap – My wife enjoys soap operas, and I end up watching with her. It is not the way to bond.

5. The year of travel – Yeah, like I have time for that. Well, there’s always the memories of the duffle bag and Eurorail pass and my 20’s.

 So, now what? There’s only a few days left till the new year. I have plenty to work on so how should I strive to grow. I just don’t know. Maybe you can send me a suggestion. Yes, that would be helpful – I will save time and ruminate on something else.