What Superheroes and Parents Can’t Do

Not Yet a ManWho is your favorite Superhero? Batman, Spiderman, Superman, Hulk? Whoever it may be, think of the powers he/she has.  Maybe, the superhero has tremendous strength, amazing speed, can fly, or is a super genius. I know what the superhero can’t do.

Stop time. That’s right. Not even a superhero can stop time. Remember the first Superman Movie with Christopher Reeve? Superman learns that Lois Lane has died, and he’s distraught. So, he flies incredibly fast and makes time go backwards. I remember watching that scene and thinking it was so cool. Anyway, superheroes can go back in time but not stop it.

“I’m a man now,” said BR. He deliberately said it in a deeper voice than is his usual.  He knew what he said wasn’t true.

But it’s not so far off. My son turned 11 this week. Someday soon, he’ll make that same declaration, “I’m a man now.” He won’t have to make his voice deep because it will already be so, and he will be serious. Or he won’t say it all and simply act the part – working, driving, and fending for his own self.

I hear the clock ticking. I also see it. I see it in his actions – his attempts to be more mature, his desire for independence, and his growing interest in his friends.

Don’t take any of this as rushing the process. I’m not in rush for this to happen. I’m also not longing for the baby days – though there is something genuinely sweet about holding a helpless baby whose needs are generally easily fulfilled – I’m mostly content with the stage my boys are in now.

So, I’d like to fly like Superman did in the movie, but rather than go back in time, I would slow it down. I would make the years longer – say 500 days instead of 365. Pretty awesome, right?  I know, I know. Just saying it would have some very cool benefits – like being able to spend more time with my children.

Okay, I can’t hold back, delay, or extend time. No point in even dreaming of it.

Yet, sometimes I think I may be holding BR back.

He and I read together every night before he goes to bed. While I have read that it is good even for older children to be read to and am a huge advocate of reading with your children, he might not need me anymore, and It might be better for him to be on his own.

Since the end of September, BR and I have been reading Harry Potter.  We’re now up to Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. I’m enjoying the books. And I never would have read it if not for reading with BR.  Besides reading the books and watching the movies, we discuss them as well. We are our own book club.

But I don’t care about Harry Potter (well, maybe a little). It’s about hanging out with BR. It’s about doing something with my son. We don’t just read at night. We talk. About stuff. Some nights it’s more than other nights. But the opportunity is there.

I don’t want him to go up to his room, turn around and say to me, “I got this dad.”

So, I may be babying him.

And, it’s not just the reading. There are other ways I may be holding my son back. You know how sometimes you just do things yourself rather than having the child do it. After all, you reason, you can do it faster and better.  Yeah, I do that – often.  Whether it’s straightening up his room, sweeping the floor, etc., I should stop or at least do this less often.  I know it doesn’t help BR. Not in the long run at least.  The days will go by, and the years will pass regardless of what I do or don’t do.  He’ll need to be independent.

Ultimately, it’s my job to help BR grow up and mature. Some of the growth will happen naturally. However, in ways that I can help or make a positive impact, I need to do so. That’s the job I got 11 years ago when he was born. It’s called parenthood. And parents, like superheroes, can’t slow down time.

But I’m still reading with BR for as long as he’ll allow it. Or at least until we finish the last Harry Potter book.

Bake Me a Cake

I will save you brown bananas!

I will save you brown bananas!

BR is a finicky eater. For a week straight, he will want a particular kind of breakfast and then get frustrated if we run out of the item. My wife in her desire to keep him happy and bulk up our too thin son will instruct me to buy extra of said item while food shopping. Well, BR’s fancy will pass and the item is left to be eaten by my wife or I or thrown out. One of his passing fancies is bananas, and they come in and out of vogue with no apparent rhyme or reason.

Due to BR’s latest passing fancy, there are five bananas that are turning browner and softer with each passing moment. The bananas are slipping away and will soon enter the realm of inedible.

Did  you know that according to an article in OnEarth Magazine, <http://www.onearth.org/article/how-to-wage-war-on-food-waste) “The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimates that Americans waste 30 percent of all edible food produced, bought, and sold in this country.”  This may be on the low side as “The National Institutes of Health (NIH), published estimates of 40 percent or more. Add up all the losses that occur throughout the food chain, the NIH researchers say, and Americans, on average, waste 1,400 calories a day per person, or about two full meals.”

Am I the only one who is thinking about a mother wagging a finger in a child’s face telling them to finish their food because there are poor kids starving in Africa?

My mother takes great pride in getting every ounce of every jar of food. To this day when my mother visits, she insists that I pass her the jar before it hits the recycling container. While scooping it out with incredible patience, she tells of my grandmother who apparently was even more gifted in the use of every ounce of food society. Due to this insistence to use every drop of food, the numbers noted above must sicken my mother. Please don’t tell her – I want my mom to stay healthy.

So what can I do to make sure that the bananas don’t become part of the 30 or even 40% of food that is wasted in America? In memory of grandmother and in honor of my mother, I can not let that happen. I must save the bananas. Move over Superman.

What to do? What to do? Hmm. I could push them on SJ who loves bananas. No, six is too much even for him.

I could make multiple peanut butter and banana sandwiches. Even I, who has eaten peanut butter nearly every day for lunch for twenty years, think that is crazy. Besides, the bananas would go brown and the sandwiches would not taste fresh.

I could drive over to grocery store and stand outside the door and sell the bananas at a reduced rate. Nah –not enough money. It is also a little too kooky for me.

I could freeze them. Or maybe I couldn’t. I don’t even know.

I know what I should do. I should make a Banana Cake. Me, the man who is a disinterested, impatient, and unskilled baker (and cook) should somehow make a cake. We have the ingredients, milk, eggs, sugar and of course bananas.

Yes, I will save the bananas and satisfy my sweet tooth. Unless – one of you could use some bananas? Let me know right away otherwise you will have to settle for a piece of cake whether it’s good or not.

P.S. I was recently interviewed by guys over at the Life of Dad blog as part of their 30 Dads, 30 Days series. Here is the link for those wanting to hear about some of my fatherhood thoughts and experiences: http://www.lifeofdad.com/blog_post.php?pid=11276