New Year’s Eve, Facebook and Valentine’s.

Does this time of year remind anybody else of early MTV? Like January/February 1982 MTV? Tarney Spencer, Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty singing “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around,” Nina Blackwood’s hair? Anybody? Hmm…probably the same reason New Year’s Eve reminds me of disco. Probably too many pictures of idiots waiting in the cold to get inside Studio 54 back in ’79. Motown makes me think of summer too. I can’t be alone on this. The Temptations singing “Just my Imagination” embodies summer…and hair metal means spring. Weird. Anyway…

But speaking of New Year’s Eve, we had a party. Actually Rye had a party. A 6th grade New Year’s Eve Party in the basement party with four of her friends. And their cell phones, iPads and Kindle Fires. In an ominous sign for our future, those girls can put away the liquids. Swear to the Good Lord they each drank an entire 2 Liter of pop. Could be why they were up past 5 a.m. However, in a positive sign for the future, we can hear just about everything they say simply by sitting on our couch in the family room. Through a quirk architectural happenstance, basement conversations travel directly up the duct work and out of the vent next to the couch. Didn’t even have to get down on my knees and strain my neck to listen. Make no mistake, I’m not above doing this. Many future Friday and Saturday night already include this on my itinerary. Thankfully the lack of sound proofing between floors is proving to be an unknown advantage, kinda like Randy Fuller for the Steelers in the ’95 AFC Championship. A couple times the conversation topics got a little loose and Mom was on standby for your basic parental basement incursion. But we discussed that any basement breach would blow our cover so we better be absolutely sure that a surprise raid needed to count.

Anyway, in our estimation, we didn’t need to actually go down the stairs. Although I made sure the basement door remained open and we sent Kinsey and Bailey down there every now and then using Civil War cavalry tactics to storm behind enemy lines, capture supplies, tear up railroad tracks and return with actionable intel. Worked all right. More data needed to decide if its worth repeating.

So, Rye also had a friend stay over last weekend too. They decided to create a facebook page for Rye. This is something that we hadn’t really discussed with Rye. However, it was very clear to my brain and my subconscious that there was no way in freaking hell that Rye was getting a facebook page in 6th grade.

Reasons? Well, and let me be very clear about this, I don’t need no freaking reasons. However, to be an effective parent, I do think Riley needs to understand why she can’t have a facebook page in 6th grade.

Reason #1) Even facebook, which doesn’t give a crap about anybody’s privacy, set up its system so you have to be at least 13 years old to have a page. To get around this hurdle you must lie about your age. Which means that if we were to allow Riley to have a page, we’d be endorsing a decision to lie about your age in order to do something she would not otherwise be able to do. Letting her do this is essentially telling she’s allowed to get a fake ID and sneak into bars once she gets to college. Much like hiring Dave Wannstedt to coach your favorite football team, this is a course of action fraught with peril!

Reason #2) She has absolutely no idea how to use facebook. Which, if my calculations are correct, makes her exactly like 90% of every other facebook user. But she doesn’t know what privacy settings are. She doesn’t know how facebook shares personal info. Her friend sent out roughly, and I’m just spitballin’ here, 8 million friend requests. When I asked her who each of these kids were once they accepted the request, she didn’t know most of them and they were all older than her. Again, this sounds a lot like an 18 year-old girl sneaking into a bar. I mean if we’re going to be okay with this we may as well just count on Marty Schottenheimer in the playoffs or tell Craig Ehlo to guard Michael Jordan with the game on the line. I understand we can’t protect her from a lot of things, we can however protect her from facebook crap before she knows how to use it.

Reason #3) She didn’t ask us if she could have a facebook page and she didn’t ask us if she could create an email to support the page. Um, in our house, this is what is known as a dealbreaker. It’s like making a movie about Ronald Reagan and having James Brolin portray him. Or answering every question with “hmmm…perplexed I am” in a Yoda accent. You don’t really get the benefit of the doubt after that.

Reason #4) It is nearly impossible to disable your facebook page. Joining facebook is like getting a tattoo. Sure its technically not permanent but getting rid of it results in extreme pain, scars, blood and the use of lasers.

Then Kinsey comes home Thursday and tells me that Austin asked her to be his valentine. They are in 4th grade. And she was all smilely and giggly about it. Which cracked me up. But also begged a couple questions. For example, what does it mean to be someone’s valentine? I’m 41 and I don’t know what it means. I sure as hell didn’t know what it meant when I was 9. Is being someone’s valentine one of those weird myths that people bandy around in conversations this time of year without a common definition of the term? Like the spread offense in college football or the pronunciation of “Wisconsin.” Turns out Kinsey didn’t know what it meant either and it kinda weirded her out. But she didn’t want to hurt Austin’s feelings by telling him she didn’t want to be his valentine…mostly because she doesn’t know what it means. I told her that he probably doesn’t know what it means either. And if you and a boy don’t know what something means THEN DON’T DO IT. Okay, I didn’t really say that even though it was exactly what I was thinking. Mom and I counseled her to ask Austin if he just wanted to be valentines with everybody so they could give valentines cards to everyone and still get lots of valentines candy. Evidently worked. Either that or they both forgot about it.

So, we’ve decided that we want the girls to be in 2nd grade for the rest of their lives. Either that or we need them to be triplets so we can deal with all the teen sh…errr crap all at the same time…and of course be done with it at the same time.

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Christmas Cleanup

I really feel like Christmas came and went without the normal adornments. This is almost solely due to record high temps and the lack of snow. We’re Midwesterners and Christmas without snow is like the 80’s without Duran Duran. Or John Hughes movies.

The last two Friday mornings are the first times it really felt like winter. Perfect winter mornings. Gray skies, flurries in the air and just enough snow on the ground that you still see the top of grass. Regardless, we haven’t had NFL games in the snow or sledding or that sound the snow makes when you walk on top it and crush it against the concrete.

So Christmas, while still Christmas, was missing that element. Which means that even though I got a sweet, sweet Sears Craftsman 19.2 volt Driver-Drill with variable speeds, and a new pair of LL Bean Field Boots, not to mention a DVD replay of Iowa State’s epic 37-31 double OT win over #2 ranked Oklahoma State in November, it still felt a little bit off.

Here’s a pic of my old boots passing the torch to my new boots:

But the last thing I wanted to do was wish for snow. We’ve had snowy Decembers for the last 4 consecutive years and as all Midwesterners will you, an early December snowstorm might mean a white Christmas but it also means that by February 1, you’re ready to treat folks the way Jack Lambert treated guys wearing white jerseys in Three Rivers Stadium.

From the amount of screams, the best gift for Kinsey and Bailey was the barbie glam jet. Yes they make this. Riley got Uggs. But she paid for half of them. And she hasn’t taken them off since she opened the gift. It was a good Christmas, we nailed just about every gift for the girls. We’re getting better at this or the girls are easier to buy for now they are a little older. Got Mom a Kindle Fire. She loves it. Christmas was also the last time she’s spoken to me as that thing has attached itself to her fingers. But it was bowl season and the NFL Playoffs were just getting started too…

In the face!

Remember this?

Barring any kind of life threatening or injury related topics, what is the last text message regarding your kids you’d want to receive as you are walking out of 8 a.m. meeting?

Go ahead give it a couple seconds of thought.

Would one that said your 2nd grader punched the next door neighbor in the face right before leaving for the bus stop?

Evidently we had an incident on Tuesday morning between Bailey and our next door neighbor. Every morning our neighbor, who is in 3rd grade, comes over and walks with our girls to the bus stop. On every morning except for Friday’s, Kinsey is the oldest. Which means we’ve put a 4th grader in charge of getting a 3rd grader and a 2nd grader out the door with all required outerwear and backpacks and to the bus stop on time. Risky? Sure, but so was hiring Mike Tomlin to replace Bill Cowher. They’ve done a pretty good job of getting themselves ready and to the bus stop all year. But I’ve been home for that most of the time through Christmas. However, with work picking up, they are going to be home by themselves a lot more when its time to leave the house.

So a face punch incident isn’t a real promising start.

After gathering evidence and conducting interviews, we learned that our neighbor was playing with Bailey’s hair. Bailey mistook that for hair pulling or hitting or something nefarious. Her response? She went all Carl Racki in Youngblood. Which led to the aforementioned text message from our neighbor’s Dad who noticed his daughter holding an ice pack on her cheek as they walked to the bus stop.

At some point Bailey’s innate tendency to stand her ground will lead to good results. She doesn’t like being taken advantage of and that outlook will also probably allow her to succeed in certain things as she gets older. I’ve never seen her fail to stand up for herself. This is not something I want to coach out of her. When she’s 12 and a mean 6th grade girl decides to focus some negative energy on Bailey, I’m going to be pretty confident that she’ll react to bullying the way John Rambo reacted to Soviet military advisors in Vietnam. When she’s 16 and able to deliver a jab, cross, upper cut combination to a teenage boy who oversteps his bounds, I’m going to feel like I’m succeeding as a parent.

But she’s in 2nd grade. So at this point, it all pretty much comes across as an unruly, stubborn, impulsive 8 year old who doesn’t listen and has absolutely no sense of patience, forethought or self-control. Which of course means we get text messages from neighbors and emails from teachers talking about face punches and the number of times Bails gets sent to the hallway for interrupting the teacher.

So I’m going to go ahead just say that we’re “channeling” her energies into positive outcomes in the future. Its either that or admitting we suck at this parenting thing…

Published in: on January 15, 2012 at 10:02 pm  Leave a Comment  

Socialism, Capitalism and Halloween

We live in Iowa. And as your most likely know, we just had our caucuses. Which meant that our house just got pounded day after day with an artillery barrage of political robo-calls that rivaled Col. Alexander‘s barrage of Union troops on Cemetery Ridge just before General Lee’s doomed attack on the Union center at Gettysburg.

But that’s what you get for being active participants in democracy.

Anyway, a few days after our caucus, which was thankfully free of disruption by any Occupy freeloaders, I’m fixing a chair in the kitchen while Riley is doing her homework. She starts out by saying that her teacher was talking about Ron Paul and Rick Perry and few other candidates and why they may have finished where they finished. Which made Rye curious about each candidate along with my plan to participate in the uprising next November to relieve President Obama of his responsibilities through my voting privileges. I spend a little time talking about each of the GOP presidential candidates and what I liked and disliked about each of them. Then she asks why I don’t like President Obama.

“Well it’s not personal. He might be a really cool guy. I don’t really like or dislike him, I just disagree with his decisions as president. And since we’re Americans, we get a chance every four years to voice our opinion on the president by voting.”

“Okay. But why aren’t you voting for President Obama? Is it because he’s a Democrat?”

“No. It’s because he’s a socialist. Or at least he’s doing things that seem a heckuva lot like socialism.”

“What’s socialism?”

This is an interesting question from your 6th grader. I mean this is key moment. A moment that if not handled properly could lead to yet to come Thanksgiving dinner arguments punctuated by raised voices, flying cranberry sauce and extended phalanges. I need to be careful here. An answer that shows any semblance of sympathy or toleration of socialism could like to a future of lazy, self-important behaviors marked by a underserved sense of entitlement for Rye. This situation is fraught with peril.

“All right, there are two competing theories – capitalism and socialism.”

“Okay.”

“Well, capitalism is really about you getting to keep the things that your worked for while socialism is about the government taking some of the things you worked for and giving to other people whether you like it or not.”

“So it’s like you make me give some of my Halloween candy to Kinsey.”

“Yes! Okay, let’s say you go out on Halloween and stay out for hours going to a ton of houses and filling bags and bags and bags of candy. You worked hard, did it on your own and now you have all this candy.”

“Cool.”

“That’s capitalism.”

“What’s socialism then?”

“Let’s say that when you get home you see Kinsey sitting at the table with just one bag of candy compared to your 10 bags of candy. And then I, representing the government in this scenario, tell you that you’re going to have to give at least 4 bags to Kinsey because it’s not fair for you to have all that candy. You can’t ever hope to every eat it all and Kinsey only has one bag.”

“But it’s mine. I got it. It’s Kinsey’s fault she only has one bag.”

“Tough. The government says its unfair. Everything should be equal regardless of how hard you work or how little Kinsey works. So give up the candy. And if you don’t….you’re going to jail.”

“That’s totally unfair.”

“That’s totally socialism. And that’s what President Obama is doing to America.”

Halloween candy, as it turns out, is one of the best political teaching tools parents have at their disposal when describing modern American politics, government and democracy. It possible it has other applications…