Gutcheck 10/2/18

Hello Friends,

Like many of you, and most of the country, I have been chomping on the Supreme Court Nomination hearings and subsequent testimonies for the past couple of weeks. I use the vague term “chomping” because some people are picking apart every detail while others are collecting a quick summary from a passing news feed. All over the spectrum. I don’t want to launch into anything political right now, but I will say that when I listened to Dr. Ford’s testimony in light of my experiences growing up in the Chicago Suburbs, I felt an awful familiarity with the scenario she described. Local pools, summer hang outs, parties, and entitled boys – yep, we had those here too. And looking at my girls now makes me feel that one could make any defensive claims one wants but I probably won’t lend a sympathetic ear when it comes to sexual harassment and assault. We’re in an ugly, but very necessary moment right now, friends. And with all this in my mind, I read this op-ed by Monica Hesse from The Washington Post:

https://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/newsfeature/dear-dads-your-daughters-told-me-about-their-assaults-this-is-why-they-never-told-you/ar-BBNPCiK?li=BBnb7Kz

Titled Dear dads: Your daughters told me about their assaults. This is why they never told you, this article is a gut check, a kick in the shin, a rough insight into yet another reality about why sexual harassment and assault are kept secret. And it’s written for us Dads. Now the article is well-written, not overly politicized and even somewhat cathartic, but it is still tough to read. But in my opinion, men and women alike should read it.

The long and short of it: daughters don’t want to disappoint their fathers.

The details unfold around that idea. What struck me is that now is the time for me to show my girls how I can rationally listen to their life stories; good, bad and ugly. Show them while they are young and hopefully we develop some space to talk about the hard life issues. We may be in an ugly moment, but my hope is that Dads are paying attention and thinking “caterpillar stage”, meaning work and live through the ugly in order to make something else. Something that flies higher, goes farther, does better. And I focus on men’s roles here because we are doing the majority of the harassing and assaulting. Blame socialization, evolution, television and popular media, whatever, but that’s the truth. Then move past blame and let’s start figuring this ugly sh*t out.

The politics of this whole nomination is making me angry. Honestly, the past three nominations have frustrated me, made me upset with the people working in our government system. So I guess, like with most things, this change will have to start at home. Let’s start with us, Dads. And Uncles. And Grandfathers. And Brothers. And Cousins. Hell, and neighbors and teachers and every other role where men influence boys and play a part in shaping the norms and mores of society. And in roles where men influence girls. And let’s open up to our female counterparts. Moms, Aunts, Sisters, Grandmothers, teachers, fabricators, engineers. Open an honest conversation, or maybe even shut up and listen. I know this is a bit of a rant, and I’m not typing here because I think I have some answer. But I know I’m not alone in looking for one.

Advertisements

Picture Day! (2018)

Hello Friends,

Today is in fact picture day at St. Viator School. I think this mat be my most favorite day of the year. I love seeing the kids, particularly my own, all dressed up.

Wife picked up outfits for the girls and they were beyond excited. They also loved having Wife fuss over them and style their hair (we’ll see how that held up to a day of school). I got to walk them to school though, so everything is all right.

I hope the day is going well for you all out there. Remember to share those school pics as they come in!

First Day of School – Day 2!

Hello Friends,

So true to form, Cricket’s “First Day” post fell to the wayside. Better late than never though, right? No worries, I’ll make up for it with an abundance of photos. That’s easy since her Welcome Tea was on the first day of school on Monday while her official first day, a full day, was Tuesday. Here is how the child who was up and playing by 5:30 AM all summer greeted Monday:

IMG_3089[2]

Zzzzzz…

Yep, their bodies know something is up. But she got moving soon enough.

IMG_3093[1]

Once she was up she was all smiles, so I was feeling good about the full-day school situation. We’ve been talking up the lunches and the nap time for a couple of weeks, so the transition should be smooth. Here’s the official front yard shot:

IMG_3099[1]

Wife was off on Monday, so she could share the morning with the girls. In Cricket’s case, she shared the whole day.

IMG_3110[1]

Welcome Tea is an event for the early childhood students. Pre K-3, Pre K-4 and Kindergarten students come in for a classroom tour where the kids meet the teacher and check out the room. It all starts with a gathering in the school hall with socializing, snacks, and announcements from the principal.

IMG_3111[1]

Monday went well. With only an hour at the school we weren’t expecting too much drama. Besides a moment when Cricket had to show her teacher her necklace, despite the teacher explaining their weekly schedule, things went smoothly. Cricket was ready to return for Tuesday’s full day of class.

IMG_3116[1]

Again, all smiles on Tuesday. And the day went well overall. There is some adjusting, which is natural. And Cricket has some things she needs to get used to as well. Needless to say, she fell out immediately after we made it home. Ah well, best to rest up for the next day!

Back to School (Day 1)

Hello Friends,

Today is the first day of school for St. Viator students, first through eighth grade. Sweetie is now a first grader, so here we go!

Cricket stops in for a welcome tea today, then her full days start tomorrow. She’ll have to wear real clothes tomorrow, no throw blankets as outfits!

I know we are heading back earlier than CPS. Are your little ones heading back yet? Whenever it happens, I hope your back-to-school is happy and tear free…for your kids too!

Unicorn Fail

Hello Friends,

while the past few Mondays have been reserved for a “Sweet” joke, this week started with the joke on me. Sweetie had a social crisis and I was completely clueless.

One theme ran through the entire kindergarten year: unicorns. Many of the little girls were having unicorn-themed parties, wearing Halloween costumes, hosting spa-days (really!), drawing pictures, etc.. Unicorns invaded!

We were not safe. Sweetie showed an interest so we bought unicorn-themed books, threw her a unicorn-themed birthday party, and as a cute gesture I gave her the unicorn knight Lego collectible mini-figure. Apparently the min-fig was the straw that broke the unicorn’s…no. Apparently the min-fig was the final “thing” as Sweetie responded to it not with joy but with tears. And me? I was all, “huh?”

UniKnight

What’s not to love?

After calming down, and taking the min-fig completely apart, Sweetie admitted to me that she didn’t really like unicorns. Again – huh? “But your birthday party,” I probed, “you asked for the unicorn theme.”

Sweetie’s response – “Some of the other girls really like unicorns, so I said I liked them too.”

Wow.

It is still early in our summer break and we are already into the life lessons. What followed was a brief and gentle conversation about how Sweetie needed to be honest with herself about what she liked and did not like, and then how to represent herself genuinely. I did my best to explain peer pressure, pack/group mentality and social norms to my 6 year old without making her feel ashamed, silly or like she was in trouble. First unicorns, then what? I had to resist spiraling down that path.

We revisited the topic when Wife came home. Again, gentle, brief (as in “no lecturing”) and hopefully empowering. I think Sweetie was worried she had disappointed me as she promised to make me a custom Lego set which she hoped I would like. I assured her that if it came from her I was sure to like it.

I do like it. Besides that it came from my daughter, I also felt it was fitting to our situation. What to call the scene? I couldn’t decide. To be more specific, I kept getting distracted, falling into thoughts about social pressures already creeping into my First Grader’s existence. And that won’t stop. I know it’s more about teaching her how to navigate the pressures, not trying to prevent them or have her ignore them. There is, and will continue to be, so much to unpack here. This will be a lesson we hone together over time. And that’s real life, actual, not imaginary like the invading unicorns.

So that’s my take away, and the working title for Sweetie’s MOC: Finding Our Way.

All She Wants…

Hello Friends,

Christmas songs have been on the airwaves since Halloween, but one in particular has caught our attention this season. After much wiggling, Sweetie lost her third tooth-top row, front left.

I know the song says that all she wants is her two front teeth, but she’s pretty excited anyway. And get this, when asked how much she thought she would get from the tooth fairy she said, “I’m not going to put this under my pillow. I want to keep all my baby teeth.” Lucky us?

One Dad-note from this situation: Wife and I were convinced this tooth was coming out last week so I tried pulling on it on two different nights. Feeling unsuccessful and unsure of my technique, I consulted the internet. On more than one page it said that teeth will come right out when they are ready. And when it was time that tooth fell right out, just from Sweetie playing with it and the adult tooth pushing from underneath. So if you’re not sure that your little ones’ wiggly tooth is ready to come out, be patient. Maybe even contact their dentist for advice.

So, thirteen days to go? We’ll see how festive that other tooth is feeling. Oh, and “PS”, it’s not really all she wants!

School Photos

Hello friends,

the past two years I have shared pictures of Sweetie on her school’s picture day. I thought that I would share a picture of the Cricket given that today was her first.

This picture is from late morning, after school. Big kudos to Ms. K for keeping the Cricket clean and her hair up (she is usually quick to pull out any bands or clips).

I would’ve gladly included pictures of Sweetie in her matching dress, but she changed as soon as we got home. I was distracted by Cricket playing in the yard and poof, out comes Sweetie in a different dress. That’s alright though, the Cricket needs to have a couple of posts to herself.

And our school year adventures continue…