They just don’t know

My kids are ten and five (boy/girl twins) and they live a life I could not have imagined when I was their age.

When I was ten I lived next door to a bar called Skipper’s Tavern which was on the corner of Ontario and Second St in Albany. My family didn’t have much. Six of us stuffed were into a small second floor two-bedroom apartment with a flat tarred roof and no shade (which, in case you are wondering makes for a very, very hot summer).

My wife grew up a little different. She lived in a nice suburban home in a small city called Lockport, NY. She lived, basically, in the polar opposite environment that I did.

And now my kids live in a similar place to where my wife grew up. It’s great for them and I thank the universe every day for them not having to go through some of the things that I did (no details, maybe one day).

Between my wife and my kids, they just don’t understand.

Example, my kids were complaining that I was telling them they had to stay outside for a while because it was such a beautiful day. I said, “For the life of me I cannot understand how you people don’t want to play in this backyard all of the time. When I was your age my backyard was the size of the deck your standing on…”

I don’t say this to make it a competition like, “oh hey, I had it SO much worse than you…”

I say it because my brain cannot reconcile them having something so incredible.

And it is incredible.

To me.

They don’t know any different and I am thankful that they don’t.

I don’t remember being my kids age and thinking about how horrible it was. I didn’t know any different, just like they don’t now.


So about that Gillette ad

My wife is out of town for work and she sent the link along for the new Gillette ad.

I watched it and I immediately understood what it was going for and I loved it. I loved what it stood for and the message it was trying to convey.

After watching it I just assumed everyone would get it and apparently I am naïve.

I guess I should have known better in this day and age.

I mean, how could anyone be offended by a commercial, much less a commercial that’s basically just saying, “Don’t be a dick.”

The message of the ad is all good. ALL good. It’s not attacking anyone, it’s showing that to be a man, a real man, that it’s okay to not get into a fight to show someone how tough you are, or to cat call or marginalize women.

How is it wrong to support an ad that says to be a real man one should just be a decent human being? HOW?

How do people have an issue with this?

You know why when I watched the ad I wasn’t offended or defensive about it? Because I’m not a dick (mostly, no one is perfect). I was shocked at how defensive some were about this. Maybe I shouldn’t have been. Maybe I should have expected it.

To the people that have an issue with this ad – you do realize that there’s no set parameters to being a man, right?

Outside of “being a good human being”, it’s pretty wide open.

I pray my sons are not demeaning or dismissive to women, or that they cat call or sexualize women at every turn. I pray they don’t think getting into a fight actually proves toughness, or that crying is a bad thing.

My oldest son is nearly 9-years-old and I have explained to him many times that he should never be afraid to cry because he is sad, or be afraid to tell a friend of his that is bullying someone that it’s not okay.

The backlash to this ad is mindboggling to me. All it does is force me to realize how behind the curve we are. And by “we”, I mean “men” (generally speaking).

And if you just read that or this blog and are offended? Good. That means you’re the problem. Now you can take a moment or two of self reflection and question what it is to really, and I mean REALLY, be a man.

I cry when I am sad, I do my best to teach my sons to be respectful of women, and I am a man. Are you?

The kid with the hearing aids

First things first, I lied.

Now that I got that out of the way, I have felt like I want to write more…again. Last time I felt that way I managed one extra post after the original post admitting I should write more.

Sometimes I sit and open the laptop and go to the blog and intend on typing. Then I get lost in any number of things including, but not limited to, wrestling my dog, watching TV, drinking beer, playing video games, and on and on.

This particular time I opened up the laptop because I could hear my son Eric upstairs in his room. Eric was born profoundly hard of hearing. He has hearing aids. He doesn’t speak as well as his twin sister Nora. He lives his life at 3 and a half years old at 100 mph. From the moment he wakes up he is ready for the day.

It’s unbelievable.

Going back to when we found out, it was hard to deal with. I can’t speak to the level at which my wife felt it, but it hit me like a ton of bricks.

When the audiologist sat us down and laid everything out (hearing aids ASAP and for the rest of his life barring a breakthrough in medicine or technology) I held it together while in the office. Once my wife and I got to the car, I broke down.

All I could think about was how he was going to be behind everyone else and how much harder life was going to be for him. And the kids? I know it’s not their fault, but kids are assholes. They can be unrelentingly cruel. They were to me and I didn’t have anything as glaring as hearing aids or delayed speech. Kids are going to make fun of him.

It upset me. It still does, though not to the extent it did then. Mostly because it was so raw and new, and somewhat because I see him as he is now. He’s a spitfire, a raging inferno of energy and love and kindness.

Now I try not to think about how the assholes are going to try and break him, to break his spirit, to keep him from trying and being the kind, loving kid he is now.

I try to be ‘a man’ about it and act like it doesn’t bother me, but it does. Sometimes it eats at me when I see him playing with his friends. Kids now are asking “what is that in his ears?” with a quizzical face. It’s okay. There is no malice in it, but there will be.

There will be.


So I turned 35

No really. I did.

Last week.

I work with a bunch of (mostly) older, near retirement people who asked my age, “I’m 35…”

To this I would get the standard, “Oh you’re just a baby!” or “I wish I was 35!”

No. No I am not. I have three kids, a wife, in my second house and I have a partially torn rotator cuff (just thought I’d mention it).

I mean I understand their point of view, they are almost all in their 50’s and so 35 is, for a lot of them, 20 years ago.

My response to their standard comment was, “You didn’t want to be 35 when you were 35.” It’s all about perspective.

This is the first year that I thought about my age and went, “well…fuck…”

I don’t feel particularly old, but something just seems bigger about being 35. When I was 25 someone that was 35 was, well, old. I knew that they weren’t, not really. It’s just that I am in the middle of my middle 30’s. I can remember my father yelling at me to not swing under the railing going out our back door when we lived in Schenectady. That was twenty years ago.

It’s going to get worse, I know.

As an example – my parents came over to my house to sing “happy birthday” and have some cake (the real reason they came, don’t let them fool you…) and I had this exchange with my father;

Father: “Wait, so how old are you again?”

Me (incredulous): “35…”

Father (puts hand on his face): “Holy shit…you’re getting up there.”

I’m gonna go finish off several adult beverages now. Bye.

Adulting with kids

Almost every adult you know is adulting.


Not all, but most. If it’s not most you need to find a way around some new people.

Adulting, in general, isn’t hard. It’s really not. Adulting just means your decisions carry more weight.

Like, when you were ten years old the question may have been, “Should I, or should I not, eat this entire box of Fudge Rounds?”

Now, as an adult, you know the answer to that question (clearly yes, you eat ALL the Fudge Rounds because they are insanely fucking delicious), in addition to asking new, harder, questions like, “Should I spend my last five bucks to buy this box of Fudge Rounds? Or use these last few dollars to get gas since I’m on E?”

You already know the answer.

Fudge Rounds.

Now, adulting with kids? That’s the hard one.

When you enter this phase of adulting the gravity of your decisions is critical.

For instance, “Should I give some of these Fudge Rounds to my children? It will make them happy and they enjoy them as much as I do, or…do I hide them and gradually eat them one at a time in a separate room or after they have all gone to sleep?”

I consider myself a good father.

That being said, option two all day.

I mean, they’re FUDGE ROUNDS. Come on.