Why ‘Firsts’ Matter

poo cupcakes

A week for 1sts

poo cupcakes
Never, ever look up a picture of poo on the internet.

The best part of being a parent is experiencing the firsts with your kids. First steps. First words. First poo in the toilet.

Sadly, I missed those so the firsts that come my way I eat up like a starving puppy thrown into a pit of pupperoni. But this week had a ton. A cluster of firsts. Even one that was a first for me.

The-Youngest had his first dance. Much of it I have been banned from talking about, but I was so proud of him for going. Alone. No wingman. No backup.

I remember my first dance. It was 70s line dancing. Disco, god help me. And it was such a terrible experience, that (to this day), I am still super conscious of how badly I dance. But The-Youngest stayed an hour, did his best to mingle (gosh, that’s hard to do) and finally left, vowing to have a friend go with him next time.

Soon to come, his first dance with a girl, then first date (NOT a date, Joe, we’re just getting a slice of pizza!), then first kiss, then the next thing you know, we’ll be at a wedding.

Learning to drive in the Toyota Rav4
The training car of choice, Rav4, Toyota. Not the mustang. No.

Next first was first time driving for The-Oldest. As he can’t actually go on the road, yet, we drove in the driveway, going in and out of gear, moving forward, backward, and figuring out what everything did in the car. I was super excited to be a part of that.

I remember my mom trying to teach me and it ended with me getting professional lessons (either that or mom would have ended up in the mental ward).

I honestly don’t think I could teach either of the boys to actually drive, not only because I’d freak out when they came close to clipping another car or running over a baby, but because I’d teach him all my bad habits. “Oh, hit the gas, you can rip through that yellow light.” “A double line passing restriction doesn’t apply to mustangs.” “Let’s see if I can actually do double the speed limit.”

So soon he’ll be taking lessons. I think it’ll go well. He did amazingly well n the driveway. More than I can say about myself these days.

First hockey tournament win
Hockey win!
His first!

Third first was The-Youngest’s, again.

He won a hockey tournament! Or rather his team did. They fought like lions (if lions could, you know, skate) and beat several pretty damn fine teams.

The last game for the gold aged me about 10 years, so if you haven’t seen me in a few months, I look like Stan Lee (may he rest in peace) after a bad night of drinking.

I was so proud of him and so happy to be a part of something he’d remember for the rest of his life. That kick out save at the start of the first game. The other team hitting the post not once, but twice in the final 2 minutes of the gold game. He’ll remember skating around, holding the trophy high. He’ll remember how the team mobbed him after an outstanding last game. He’ll remember the feeling of that win, that success, that payoff for a lot of hard work forever.

Or at least until that first kiss drives everything else out of his mind.

Lastly, something new for me. A first. My first baby shower.

Now, normally guys aren’t allowed to these things, though, why, I’m not quite sure. But we hosted the event, and The-Prettiest-Girl-in-the-World and her parents worked very hard at making sure it was a success, cooking up a storm, setting up the rooms for nearly 60 people (YIKES!) and then making sure everyone felt welcome when they came over.

My quick observations of the event are as follows. I don’t think the mom touched her baby in 3 hours. I think both are going to be incredible parents. I think grand-babies are the best anti-aging method out there (and no, I don’t mean eating them or something, but holding them, snuggling them, feeding them) – it takes years off the grandparent’s faces.

baby shower
Cutest baby ever at her first Baby Shower. My first baby shower, too

Apart from all the cool presents, though, I think the best thing about a shower is that the mom realizes that she’s not alone, that what she feels, what she fears, what she hates or loves are all things other moms have experienced. There is help out there. Empathy. Support.

And also a year supply of diapers.

Other firsts zipped by almost unnoticed. The-Oldest’s first sr. concert (he was, as always, outstanding) and The-Youngest’s first time in the front seat (a little ahead of schedule),

But there are many more coming and I mean to be a part of as many as I can, because their firsts are mine, too.

So, if you like the blog, please share on FB or hit that subscribe button (nothing will ever be shared with anyone, ever) or simply tell your friends. 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

Tournament Trials – The War is Lost – Part 4

What the hotel looked like at 6:58pm
What the hotel looked like at 6:58pm

At some point in WW2, the Germans knew the gig was up. They knew they’d lost. The smart ones knew after Stalingrad. Others waited until Berlin was a smoking ruin.

I kind of suspect I was in the Berlin camp with the boys.

When did we lose the war? 6:58. Exactly. None of the boys were where they said they’d be. The staff were sending down the newbies to tell us to control our children, the kids were running up and down the halls, shouting, screaming, going nuts, and disturbing the other guests.

Too much pizza and pop and excitement overwhelmed the boys and while, individually they would have been fine, collectively, they became the Huns.

Just as we were readying to track them all down, one came back. Spoiler alert. It wasn’t The Youngest.

When asked why, he said, “I don’t want to get in trouble.”

“Awesome,” said the parent, smiling, “So, ah what are the others doing that, you know, might, just maybe, kind of, get them in trouble?”

Turns out, The Youngest was watching the Walking Dead.

Ok, so on one hand, it was good he was where he said he’d be (in a team-mate’s room watching TV), but not so good that they chose to watch one of the most violent, gory shows on TV (though it is a super amazing show.)

One mother went sheet white. I kid you not. This was so far from what her son should be watching. So far.

You were watching the Walking Dead??????
You were watching the Walking Dead??????

All I knew was that I had to go upstairs and find this room. It was a room full of nightmares and images that could scare a newly minted 9 year old. However, no sooner had I gotten up, than he came in to ask if he could go play mini hockey.

The answer was, as you can probably guess, “No.” Actually, I think it was “Hell, no, what were you watching upstairs in your team-mate’s room?”

“Uhm, ah, Joe, did you know that they have HBO?”

“What were you watching?”

“Errr, I, ah, we, ah, uhm… Walking Dead.”

“And are you allowed to watch those kinds of shows?”

“No.” He admitted.

It was 7:52. It was time for bed.

He had to tell his friends it was time for bed. They were not pleased. They still wanted to play, to run around, to watch more banned TV shows. It was like kid-heaven.

It was then that I realized that I’d failed as a parent. In trying to make sure he had a good time, I’d let him have too much freedom and with that freedom, he’d gone with the pack instead of making good choices. Oh, he knew what the good choices were, he just wanted to fit in, be one of the cool kids, be a part of the team, and that need defeated his common sense and proper upbringing.

I get that.

Still, we had another long chat about not always following the crowd and, God help me, I even hauled out lemming references and the whole leaping off the cliff speech. I’m not sure it made any impact. What good is some esoteric argument about lemmings compared to watching someone axe a zombie’s head?

In the end, though, his transgressions didn’t warrant me packing him up and sending him home. They did warrant better supervision so the consequence of his actions was that there would be no more unsupervised play. A parent, likely me, would be there when he watched TV or played any games.

We continued to talk even when he went to bed. He was wound up and simply couldn’t sleep. We talked about important things and unimportant things. We talked about having 2 dads. We talked about why watching so much violence (or playing violent video games) can be bad at his age. We talked about how to have fun without bothering other people. We talked about his favourite video games and why Ssundee is the best youtuber in the world, a man-boy who has utterly mastered how to do a video about playing video games.

(This is Ssundee, and you don’t have to watch all 20 minutes, but it’ll give you an idea why adults hate his guy but kids love him.)

Finally, we went to sleep and I prayed that they would be worn out after 3 games tomorrow. I don’t know if I could have done another day like that without losing my sh*t and going all Red Forman on everyone.

 

 

Tournament Trials – Pools and Parties – pt 3

monkeyImagine if you condensed the sound of screaming monkeys in a hothouse jungle and put that in a can, then, when you were sick with a cold, exhausted from a traumatic ferry ride, and pretty much ready for bed, you popped that can open right in your ear….

Well, that’s what the pool party was like.

Thank Christ we forgot the water bottle.

Because we forgot the water bottle, we had to go get one and by getting one, I managed to only have to endure an hour or so of the pool party.

Oddly enough, I remember thinking, hey, cool, the motel has an indoor pool. How awesome is that? It was, like -150 degrees outside and there would have been no way the boys could have played in an outdoor pool

poolHowever, the indoor pool was in a small space that seemed to amplify the noise by about a thousand times. And man, can little boys make some noise. Forget standing by a speaker in a Metallica concert or cheering for Seattle in the Century Link field, those places ain’t got nothin’ on a pool full of 16 nine to ten year-old boys.

But the boys had such fun, even if it looked like a piranha feeding frenzy sometimes. They tried to drown each other. They cannon-balled in the pool.They splashed water out of the pool like they were trying to empty it (in fact, given another hour in it, I think they would have had more water outside of it than in it.)

Such things are fun made of.

With a few other parents, we lifeguarded the pool as best we could, though, if I am truly honest, I mostly looked out for the Youngest since his swimming technique is to flail his arms in the water and slowly sink to the bottom like a submarine.

Luckily the pool wasn’t that deep and, to his credit, he didn’t push his limits too much.

When a huge rubber floatie was thrown in the pool, the boys all tried to do their best impression of refugees on a makeshift raft. I think they managed to get about 12 on the damn thing which was not much larger than a coffee table.

I gotta say, I was impressed. This bodes well if we ever get hit with an epic, biblical flood.

One-by-one, the boys began to disappear, though, taken back to their rooms by their parents to get ready for supper. The Youngest was one of the last to leave. If he could have slept in that room, I think he would have, but we needed to get him showered and ready for the pizza party.

It’s one thing I’ve noticed about Atom level hockey. We do a LOT more things together. And that’s cool. The Youngest has begun to make good friends on the team, and has a blast when doing stuff with them. The pizza party was just another way for the team to bond. The plan, play a little mini-hockey, then chow down, then, I dunno, play more mini-hockey while the parents drank until they could stop their eyes from twitching or their hands shaking.

We ordered a ton of pizza. About 4-5 large slices for every boy. That should be enough, right? Right? While we waited for it to arrive in our official party room in the basement of the motel, the boys played mini-hockey.

mini hockeyHonestly, it’s a game that eludes me. I mean, you play with tiny sticks, on your knees, and try to shoot a ball into a goal the size of a recycling box. Even The Youngest, who may be the smallest on the team, fills the entire net. It’s a goalie’s dream. Just stand there and take shots to the face.

As far as I can tell, the rules are pretty simple. Whack another kid with your stick, push them over then knee-race with the ball to the goal, shoot on the goalie who will – big surprise – save it, then have both teams descend on the goalie and whack at that ball until it goes under a table or between someone’s legs (in which case, you whack harder). No passing. No real skill needed. All that’s required is you be able to be able to run on your knees. And yell at lot.

But the kids love it. I mean, LOVE IT.

When the pizza turned up, we found we’d severely underestimated what they would eat.  They went through those boxes of pizza like they would never eat, again. I’m pretty sure someone even took a bite out of the grease-soaked cardboard protectors. I had one piece of pizza. A few of the parents had none.

These were large pizzas, too. HUGE ones with meat and cheese. As I watched them stuff slice after slice into their mouths, I wondered if we should have kept them out of the pool. And locked in a closet.

And feeding them made them even more hyper. Like hyenas, they roared out of the room and into the motel, wielding mini-hockey sticks and screaming and laughing at the top of their lungs.

I can’t say I wasn’t a little scared.

fathersAfter the whole ferry incident, I was loathe to let them just have the run of the place. So, I had to be the uncool parent and tell The Youngest he has to stay with the adults and practice his math.

Ha, just kidding. I told him he could only play in the hall outside our party room.

A half hour and two beers later, I took a look into the hall. I had heard nothing for 5 minutes so either they had all been killed by a weirdly ricocheting ball, or had gone off to do mischief.

Guess which turned out to be true.