I heard Garrison Keillor read this the other morning on the Writer’s Almanac and had to wince at the truth in the first lines.
by Barton Sutter
The anxious agony of raising kids
Drains the life from parents, who must grow
From cradling to tug of war to slowly letting go
And learn to live with worry till they’re dead.
When I fell in with you, I felt both joy and dread
Because you came with two small girls in tow.
I said, “I do.” I’m glad I did, even though
I sometimes feel I married them instead.
Read the second stanza at The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor | Milk by Barton Sutter or listen here:
Someone may have recommended this book to you, or you may even get it for Fathers Day:
Reading with Dad.
A Great Father’s Day Gift for a Dad Who Reads to His Kids
Tuesday June 9, 2009
If you are looking for a Father’s Day gift for a dad who has always enjoyed reading books to his kids, I highly recommend Reading With Dad. While written in verse and designed in picture book format, this is a gift book for adults rather than a children’s book. The text by Richard Jorgensen and the loving illustrations by Warren Hanson celebrate the love between a father and a daughter that is experienced through the act of reading together. Beginning with the father reading to his young daughter, the book continues through her growing up years to the daughter reading aloud to her own children while still continuing to read with her dad. The book ends with her reminiscing,
Here’s my review of it:
My daughter got Reading with Dad and as the dad who had to read it to her, I’d have to say that I disagree with this review. The book is written in sing-songy verse and ends with dad dying and the reading of a biblical verse. If you want to spend 15 minutes thinking of how it will feel to watch your child grow up while you get old and die (while reading bad poetry), be my guest. Most of us prefer something more uplifting.
My five year old boy and I are already mixing it up, as I try to get toys off the dinner table or ask him to put the lego down and brush his teeth. He’s now yelling back at me, “You’re not the boss of me! You’re the boss of yourself!” I’ve had to tell him I will be the boss of him for at least a few more years, but I’m also trying to figure out how to negotiate this power battle. He probably already knows I have a weak spot – I hate it when he says I “always” yell at him. Of course, I don’t. But I do worry that that will either be a big memory for him, or a childhood leitmotif.
My nine year old daughter asked me, “What does it mean to be a ‘friend with benefits’?'” Great question and so glad you asked me! My mind raced as I tried to be truthful yet not divulge more than a nine-year old needs to know. I replied, “I think it’s when you have a friend who also kisses you.” Not a brilliant answer, but it was enough for her. Unfortunately, we soon learned that she had read this reference in a book she had gotten at the library. The book, which she found in the kids’ section, and which came from the children’s department of a major publisher went clearly a lot farther than we would want. We consider ourselves involved, watchful parents, but I’m always amazed at the stuff that sneaks in when you’re only half aware. No damage done this time, but we are hyper aware now of the dangers that lurk. Friends of ours related how their daughter (same age) had gone to a friends house, and while the parents were in the other room, they had taken a walk through the seedier ares of the internet. That is not how I want my children to find out about the birds and the bees, but even less, I do not want to be the parent who has to call another parent and tell what happened. All of our computers are password protected and the kids can only go to sites we have approved.
On a funnier note, my daughter, who loves poetry, asked me how you get a “poetic license.” When she found out it was something you “use” rather than apply for, we both had a good laugh.
What a great tribute to Martin Luther King if his birthday became more than just a reason to hold a “store-wide” clearance sale. What if we had a “dayon” rather than a “day off?”
Our family took the morning to help clean up a beach here on one end of San Francisco near the famous Cliff House. We arrived promptly at the starting time, only to find a line for volunteers. The beach was covered with families all carrying white bags who were all chipping in to pick up garbage. There were so many people that there wasn’t enough garbage and the kids were disappointed that there wasn’t more to do. Imagine if we all helped so much that there weren’t enough homeless to shelter, kids to teach, or beaches to clean to keep us all occupied?
While kids do get distracted and like to goof off during these types of events, I find they are always interested in helping out and proud of having done so. We often quote Dr. Robert Brooks and his books on developing self-esteem in resilient kids and how important it is to give kids opportunities to help. These are often some of their most vivid memories of childhood.
Next month, we volunteer at a soup kitchen and our kids, 4 and 8, will go along to help out. They will distribute salt and pepper, help serve dinner and take part as they can in the clean-up. It’s not a lot, but it makes us all feel good inside.
Sure, they say that New Year’s resolutions are never kept, but that doesn’t stop us from writing them up. And, I swear, this year, I’m really going to try. The ones I have in mind aren’t that big a stretch. I’m not going to finally “write that novel” or run a marathon. I just want to make a few simple changes. And, I have a new system to try to keep me on track.
- Spend ten minutes alone each day with each of my two kids. This won’t be too much harder. The only the trick will be to separate them when I’m doing the daddy-focus time. I usually read a 10-12 pages of Harry Potter to my eldest each night, so check that one off the list. For my four-year-old, this will take a lot more “get-down-on-the-floor” action. This may be the most important one of the bunch and something everyone can do.
- Try to reduce the number of times I say “Don’t” or “No!” to my four-year-old. He’s naturally more rambunctious than my eight year old and he’s starting to protest that we yell at him too much. I want to try to limit the yelling to when it’s really a safety issue or when he’s about to tip over the TV.
- Gotta get the little buggers eating better food. I paged through Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food, though I was scared off by how she puts sweet potatoes into everything. This one will be the trickiest in the book, since I’m usually overjoyed that the kids want pizza (again!).
- Do 25 push-ups a day, and 30 by March. I’m a sucker for easy fixes like this, but I found this article in the New York Times on the value of push-ups quite compelling. Push-ups are great exercise and a good barometer of overall health. I WILL get to the gym every other day and do my stretches. (It’s January 12th and I’m already doing 30 – onwards to 35).
- Go greener. Okay, I’m sticking this one in because I’m already doing it, but still there are lots of places to cut. I bought myself a pedometer and just that step has me thinking again before taking the car out to drive ten or twelve blocks rather than walk. My goal is to make all the kids’ lunch biodegradable or reusable. Out with the plastic bags, in with reusuable containers. I just got these stainless steel bowls for lunches. They are a little clunky and could be used for a jail break, but they are durable and a convenient size, especially if you make circular sandwiches.
That’s enough! My other resolutions are professional and are overwhelming.