What’s That Daddy? A Question of Perspective



Why are you crying Dad
Are you happy or sad?
Right now I’m sad my love
Why do we get sad Dad?
Sadness is part of life Baby Girl
As sorrows burrow
Deep within our selves
It leaves an empty tunnel
To be filled with joy
You fill that tunnel for me everyday
Sometimes it’s okay to be sad
Because happiness exists after sadness
The beautiful sound you hear
When you play the violin
Was born in the anguish of a tree
That grew sad as it was torn down
That wine that brings me joy
Was squeezed from the berry
Born of the tears of the vine tender
Shed when we extracted its luscious fruits

Happiness and sadness both exist within you
Your heart holds near these truths
To enriches all the treasures
Of your infinite depth
Revealed to your soul
Yet not to your eyes
For you don’t see happiness
But you know when it here
Only through life sap in your eyes
The tears of sorrow and joy
Can you meet your true being
And walk together always
Hand in hand with emotion
Through the good and the bad

Live and love in peace

From the very first moment our children point and ask “what’s that” we transform from average people to all knowing parents. They look to us for answers from that day forward and with the right perspective we can become the fountain they’re thirst of knowledge is quenched from forever more. It’s all about offering perspective…….

Mighty Meg Would Be a 25 Year Old Superstar Today


Today is my daughter Megan’s birthday. Had she survived she would be 25 years old. I had a few nicknames for her, Meg, Meggie, The Megstress, Meganator, Daddy’s Little Girl. Of all the names Little little was her favorite made her smile everytime, but Mighty meg was her most descriptive. Mighty Meg suffered a heart condition from birth and fought a valiant fight right from the start. Megan needed a heart transplant but organ donation, especially back in 1990, was extremely hard to come by. The need of her transplant was a soul searching bittersweet ordeal. The thought that someone else will lose their child before Megan could receive a heart was immensely painful both as a parent and as a human being. Meggie eventually did receive a transplant however with a compromised immune system she caught the virus that ended her short life. Mighty Meg spent way too much of her 19 months and 17 days in hospitals but through it all she remained brave. I didn’t even know what brave meant until I was like six, but Mighty Meg had an instinctive braveness about her. When her Mom and I were burning inside from the torture of watching as our child was jabbed with needles in search for a connection to a tiny vein she squeezed our fingers and got through it. Even after it was over and her Mom and I were still reeling in the tears Meg gave us a smile. She wasn’t happy, relieved maybe, but somehow Mighty Meg knew we needed her smile. That’s how Meg was, a mighty force that even in the darkest of hours managed to make us smile. So today I celebrate her birthday but not as a sad occasion, I don’t want to mar the memory of her birth with negative energy, but with fond remembrance as a tribute to what she gave to us in her short time here.
I know this sounds strange but I often wonder if species other than humans experience nostalgia like we do. I really don’t think that’s too far fetched because we now know that elephants experience something similar to empathy or sympathy when one of the herd passes on. Films have documented what can only be described as communal mourning in elephant ritual. Youtube is brimming with video’s of elephants as well as hundreds of other animals acting more human than humans. You can watch various animals interacting in loving ways with other animals or with us. I’ve had dogs and cats myself that were capable of giving and receiving love despite what any expert may say. Love can’t be studied in a textbook or laboratory, it has to be experienced. So I wonder do animals go back to the jungle where they were born, or the tree’s they played in when they were young, and have an unexplainable sense of happiness just being there? Maybe those elephants credited with never forgetting feel emotional tie ins with experiences such as birth. Can Mama elephant remember each of her birth’s fondly? Why not, many of us who have witnessed the birth of their children remember the delivery. We associate emotional events with many things, we can hear a specific song and be transported back to our first love. We do love our nostalgia. I mean look at how we celebrate our own birthdays. Congratulations to us we lived the length of time it takes the earth to revolve around the sun once again so lets have some cake and blow out some candles, that was quite a feat.

Despite the fact that each and everyone of us has a natal anniversary if we live another year we find it reason to celebrate our accomplishment. We see the date of our birthday and it triggers a comforting feeling in us perhaps because that day marked our entry into the world. It’s actually quite quaint when I think about. We develop bonds whether good or ill with events that mean something to us on an emotional level and assign it an anniversary. Today that emotional association for me is simply the date February 26, the day I witnessed the birth of my daughter, Mighty Meg. This would have been her 25th birthday and I find myself as I do every year wondering what she would have been like if she survived. In my logical mind she can never age past 19 months because that’s how long we had to enjoy sharing her life. So today I want to share my recollections of the day of her birth, the day Megan Laurine Jaret entered into our world. As is often the case especially with me, a profoundly sad emotion can be tempered with an upbeat and humorous memory to ease the sorrow of the heart.

It was near the end of February and Megan wasn’t due for another two weeks. It was so cold it felt like March was making a test run of it’s obligatory coming in like a ferocious cold lion. A bitter cold Northeast coast icy wind kind of lion. I was working in midtown Manhattan and Maureen and I lived across the Hudson River in Jersey City. We were a young and hip New York City couple so of course that’s where our child would be born. Being well versed in the Lamaze method of childbirth we were cool, calm, and collected when the moment arrived. Maureen called me from our 34th floor apartment in Jersey City to inform me that her water had broken. She announced it very calmly so I responded in typical suave male fashion. I freaked. After rapid firing all the proper lightning round questions it was agreed that the contractions were sufficiently far apart and time permitted that I was able to come get her. Once home we would have plenty of time to organize for our trip to New York Hospital. I left work and got on the PATH train for Jersey City.

By the time I got home the contractions had become impatient and we were at the point where the doctor told us to go to the hospital right away. So now this hip young urban boy had to head back to the city he just left with his pregnant and dilating wife, but this time in style, no pregnant wife of mine will be taking the PATH train! I called for a taxi then proceeded to get all of our “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” ducks in a row. Hospital bag was already packed waiting in the closet for the big call. A change of clothes, some bathroom items, a photo the instructor called the focal point so Maureen has something to take her mind off the mind blowing pain ahead and a snack or two. In recalling my childbirth class training I asked Maureen if she wanted me to make some Jello knowing she would be hungry after a hard day of labor. My uncanny ability to reason under pressure was noted, “Jello? Are you fucking kidding me? Jello?! I don‘t have time for any fucking Jello!” I thought about explaining that by the time we get through with all this child birthing stuff she might be hungry and could at least drink a semi set up gelatin but then remembered the smoke coming from her eyes when she just recently inquired if I was “fucking kidding“. I opted to remain silent. Maureen headed into the bathroom I assumed to use it one last time before leaving. Our phone rang and it was the front desk informing me our taxi was ready and waiting outside the door so I called into the bathroom, “Babe, taxi’s here, we gotta split.” Thankfully her voice had returned to that sweet sexy rhythmic fashion, “Just a few more minutes, I’m putting on my make up!” Admittedly being male I was unaware of the profound need of proper make up and asked why in the world would she needed to put on make up right now, I mean we are on the way to have a baby not a night out dancing?” Satan voice returned, “I said I’m putting on my make up and I’ll be done in a fucking minute.” I considered returning the volley with a “Oh so you don’t have time for Jello but you have time to put on your make up”, but the amount of stress she had placed in the “I’ll be done in a fucking minute” combined with my love of life alerted me to the total non necessity of such a statement so I opted for a weak, “Okay Babe, but we gotta hurry, Taxi’s waiting and you know how slow our elevator goes.” I took the silence to mean nothing more need be said by either party.

Okay, I’ll admit she looked great but I still puzzled over who would be seeing us. I could also sense nervousness in her which assured me I wasn’t alone in my panicked approach. Once I explained to the driver our situation the wide eyed look on his face assured me that now the power of three was rocking in nervousness. I can only imagine the thoughts rippling through his mind, a delivery during a delivery and all but to his credit he assumed control of his situation, got us both safely in the back of his New Yorker (ironic, right?) and began the trek through the Holland tunnel. The driver was quite animated and calmed us with his talking telling us about his children and the pregnancies therein. We were in the Holland Tunnel when he showed the first sign of concern. “Oh oh, some kind of jam ahead.” My heart sunk below the seatbelt and panic laughed proudly at how easily it got me shaking. “Don’t worry I’ll change lanes, if we get pulled over we’ll probably get an escort.” He crossed the solid lines a number of times not giving a shit about laws and calmly got us through the tunnel and onto the FDR like the pro he was unassisted by the police. When we pulled up to the front of the hospital a nurse was waiting already with a wheelchair because the driver had alerted his dispatch. I jumped out running around to Maureen’s door where the nurse looked at me with deadpan stare, “Can’t you read? All deliveries in the rear.” She pointed to the sign which I stared at vacantly, “Only kidding honey” turning to another nurse said, “This one here is in a daze, this should be fun.” They pushed Maureen down the hallways and I followed like a lost puppy dutifully shouting out breathing time signatures when contractions warranted. She was wheeled into a triage room where they set up the machines for her vitals, “Better call upstairs and get a room ready, we have a woman booming here!” The stand up comedian nurse showed me how to read the tags determining the severity and frequency of contractions and in seconds we were out of triage and into a birthing room.

Any sliver of confidence I had was shattered when I heard another woman in the throes of delivery screaming in pain in the next room. All the way through the room! I ripped open our hospital bag, “Where the fuck is the focal point?” I could hear Maureen breathing “he he he hoo, he he he hoo” and was relieved when I found the photo she chose for her focal point. “Are you fucking kidding? I don’t want a picture I want this to stop.” I had begun to think everything in the book and Lamaze class was total bullshit so we went off script and into our own rhythms. We looked at each other, read the contraction sheets, and when I figured out how to tell her they would be coming soon and they would be ending soon it eased the tension. Maureen just breathed whatever signature she wanted not listening to any command from any non medical professional at this point. The contractions came in waves, some hit the shore much harder than others. One wave in particular was so intense Maureen’s hands gripped my arm like a tourniquet, so tight it cut of circulation to my entire body. It would become a week long temporary tattoo of a blood red tribal symbol of a ten finger vice grip attack. Trooper that I am I whimpered silently. At 4:10 in the afternoon little Megan Laurine entered the world and her beautiful tiny face lit up the birthing room with joy. All the pain and discomfort of the past few hours was forgotten. Well mine was, Maureen was still in pain and discomfort, but she endured it with a smile when she held Megan for the first time.

So that’s the sweet part of the memory, the memory I choose to remember on her natal anniversary, even though like every other year I still wonder what she would have been like. I have no doubt she would have been a fantastic big sister to Kellie and would have her masters in something by now or she would have some impressive title. Maybe she would be the CEO of some big corporation just to piss me off. One thing she would have been at 25 for sure is a deeply loved child who could do or be anything she set her mighty mind to. If you are an organ donor we thank you from the bottoms of our hearts, if you’re not we hope you will consider becoming one. Recycle life.
Happy Birthday Little Little, I love you.

Eight Days With Megan


Time passes and life goes on but we all have certain events in our timelines that choose to linger, sometimes even haunt us, reminding us of sad days embedded with grief and memorialized annually through dates on our calendars. Time passes, with age comes wisdom and I’m told time heals all wounds. Bullshit, time flat out refuses to heal the deep wounds of the heart and soul. Those wounds never fully heal and the scars open up because of certain triggers, such as anniversaries. Such is the case for Maureen and I today, the anniversary of the day cruely etched deep into souls of our memories and our hearts. October 23rd was the day we had to let our 19 month old daughter go.

Every year this dreaded day slowly creeps up on our hearts to pierce them with painful memories. A few months back while sorting through some photographs I came across a piece of paper I had written a poem on. It turns out this paper was something I wrote many years ago to counter the pain of our loss by replacing it with the memory of Megan being home, giggling and smiling, walking despite doctors prognosis’s, and squeeling with happiness for the eight days she was home with us after a successful heart transplant. Those eight days mean everything to us, and its that memory we try our hardest to hold onto. I had planned to post it today but realized I’m not yet ready to reveal that particular poem, that part of myself, but I still want to put some focus on the need for organ donation awareness. So I chose to share the story of eight days.

Eight Days With Megan

From birth our tiny little baby girl had to fight the odds. By three weeks we were already in a hospital with her and before she could even crawl we had been with Megan through blood tests, prods and pokes, and even a spinal tap. I still remember how tightly she squeezed my finger as she cried from pain and confusion, leaving Maureen and I without the luxury of breaking down. Megan needed us to be strong for her. But in the end it was Megan who had shown us strength, taught us about life.

Megan had Cardiomyopathy, a viral disease which causes myocarditis, an enlargement of the heart. As she grew so did her troubles until one ugly Sunday morning her heart seized and she stopped breathing. We heard Megan’s gasps on our baby monitor and ran to her. Because I had learned mouth to mouth as a young boy I covered her mouth and nose with my mouth and began breathing into her lungs while Maureen called 911. The EMT’s arrived in minutes and whisked her away to the ER. We got our selves together and went to meet her but when we got there she wasn’t there yet. We had no idea at the time but the EMT’s had stopped the ambulance to use a pediatric defibrillator on Meg. Meg was admitted to the ICU and later that evening we were told she would need a heart transplant to survive. A jack hammer to our hearts. Subsequently Megan seized again in the hospital causing a mild stroke which left her weakened, unable to hold her head up for any significant length of time. Maureen dedicated every second of her life to Megan’s physical rehabilitation as I meandered mindlessly through my job relieving Maureen when I got home by entertaining our baby girl. Together we traveled to Philadelphia, only to have doctors there say she would never be able to walk and most likely unable to talk, so Megan was removed from the transplant list.

This only increased Maureen’s determination and the hard work paid off when Columbia Presbyterian Children’s Hospital placed Megan back on the transplant list. Organ donation awareness was tragically negligent at the time and Megan’s chances were even further hampered because of the size of the heart needed. As a parent it is the most difficult position to ever find yourself in, knowing the only hope for your child is dependant on another parent losing theirs, and willing under horrendous circumstances to make the choice to donate their child’s organ. So we understood that we got fortunate because of another parents nightmare when the call came to bring Megan into the hospital for a heart transplant. The true definition of bittersweet.

After an agonizing night with our family members the doctors told us Megan’s transplant was successful. We were able to breath again but not for long as it was another four weeks of rehabilitation in the hospital with our tiny baby daughter having blood drawn a few times a day, temperature and blood pressure taken almost hourly, and the seemingly endless wait to make sure the anti-rejection medicine kept her little heart beating. Maureen lived in the room with Megan sleeping on a chair everyday and I took an SRO room a few blocks from the hospital, worked in the day and stayed with Maureen and Megan until eleven PM. We literally had residence there, our neighbors were children and their families in the cardiac ward with us, and the outstanding nursing staff who all treated us as family. They laughed with us, they cried with us, some even brought in homemade meals for us. The day we were told it was time for us to bring Megan home was the first time we cried from joy in over a month of tears brought on by the pains of Megan’s ordeal.

Going home was a huge relief shared by all of our friends and neighbors who had set up a welcome home celebration for Meg. Banners and balloons, Meg took it all in as if she knew it was for her. Unfortunately because there was so many people and potential germs we couldn’t allow her to stay long, but I truly got the sense she felt important, maybe for the first time. We took her inside and she immediately wanted to get in her walker and run around the kitchen. She was stronger than ever before and she was motoring around in her walker like a NASCAR driver, squealing and laughing. She would watch Sesame Street and applaud, her favorite character was Grover. Mine was too. Every night when I came home from work Megan and I played with her toys, an array of stuffed animals Maureen had been using in her physical therapy. I named them and made up stories with Jolly The Clown, Candy Camel, Chocolate Moose, and Lucinda Lamb. Life Had never been sweeter and our home was filled with joy and love, with Megan sharing in the joy with just as much vigor as us. Megan’s anti rejection medicine was working, she was beginning to develop normal child activity, many months behind but plenty of time to catch up. Or so it seemed.

After eight days there was a set back, and Meg returned to the hospital. It would be her final visit there, she was placed in ICU because she had contracted a serious infection, and with her immune system compromised she was unable to fight any longer. But the night before she re-entered the hospital, Maureen called out to me ecstatically, Oh my God Keith look, she’s walking. It wasn’t a long walk but it was a victorious walk, and she was so proud of herself. She knew she had accomplished something special. Those were the eight best days of Megan’s short life. We spend time with our children and invest in them by teaching, showing our kids right from wrong, weak from strong, basically how to cope in an uncertain and unpredictable world. But it was Megan that taught us about life. In return for all the sacrifices and heartaches we endured, we were rewarded with eight days.

Eight days. Eight days we remember so well and try so hard to focus on to replace the agonies we suffered getting to those days. Eight days when our little girl showed the world how much her strength and perseverance paid off. Eight days of bliss with Megan. Eight days we would never have had if not for the extremely courageous decision one mother made when her son had been killed in an accident. I tell you this today not because I am seeking sympathy, but because I am looking for help in getting the word out that we need more organ donors. In the years after our ordeal we have continued to try and get the word out, because in the end Megan’s surgery was successful, if only for those eight days. Maureen has gone on to become an altruistic kidney donor and was involved in a chain of eight people who received transplants because of her link. Eight days, eight people in the chain. Is that number just a coincidence? It would take a far more clever person than myself to know for sure if its coincidence or if there are more profound forces at work. We can debate about fate, destiny, divinity, Gods of all shapes and sizes, Pros vrs. Cons, collective consciousness, or random theory. Maybe its just the universe conspiring but for me the answer is a bit more simple. Its all about love. Make your love eternal by donating your organs.

Today monumental strides have been made, and perhaps if it had happened today this would be a far different story. Either way it’s a story of love, hope, dedication, and courage. Donating your organs is easy, get on your computer and got to http://donatelife.net/organ-donation/…That’s Donate Life. Or go to UNOS and educate yourself. Tell your friends, your family, anyone who will listen, help get the word out. Make your own personal wishes clear to your family so no one else is left with the tough decision of what you would have wanted.

One time someone who was unintentionally insensitive asked me “Was it worth it all, for just eight days?” The short answer is yes, it was worth seeing my baby girl stand, to make normal baby noises, to just be happy. Yes at times it’s difficult, every year we wonder what Megan would be doing as a ten year old, an eighteen year old, a twenty one year old. Each year we reflect and wonder how her and Kellie would have been as sisters. And yes every year as October begins rolling around we become sadly contemplative, but the memory of those eight days helps ease the anxiety. When you have a child with a catastrophic illness or a disability you hang on and treasure every tiny thread of hope available because sometimes that’s all you have. We treasure every second we had with Megan.

I used a number of clichés here on time and love, but I want to leave you with one last cliché. Life is short. Aside from sharing this story I would like to also share my perspective on time, life, and love. Don’t waste time, live your best life, spend quality time with your children, (By far the best investment you could make in their future), and spread love. The more love you give away the more you end up getting back. Life is indeed short, and it can be lost in a heartbeat.

Give love, take love
Share love, make love

I would like to thank the TRIO (Transplant Recipient International Organization) and the great friends we encountered there, the staff at Columbia Presbeterian Children’s Hospital for all the caring love and support they gave not only to Megan, but to Maureen and myself as well, most especially the nursing staff who had to help us to understand much of the gibberish doctors threw at us, and the good folks at UNOS and Donate Life who continue to work hard at brining awareness to the need of organ transplants. If you aren’t a donor, please become one. Thank You

Be a good Girl an Shake your Pom Poms, leave the real games to the boys

Girls soccer team, the Lumberton Wildcats, playing soccer

No Athletic supporters for girls

A sure sign of autumn is a field of young aspiring athletes in full football gear banging helmets and shoulder pads, while being protected by shin pads and that ever present gonad guarder the jockstrap, or as its referred to in mixed company, the athletic supporter. The boys need to protect the area that houses the swimming team of aspiring sperm cells hoping to be the future generation. So on with the sumo wrestler looking undergarment with that little cup offering assurance that if they play their cards right, someday they will be watching their own little boys wearing a protective supporter. But that’s not the support the boys get that is so overwhelming to me, it’s the support of the Moms and Dads, brothers and sisters that make a social event out of football practice. Lawn chairs, camera’s on tripods, and cheering families are in full force at the sport field in my area. The young lads perform admirably for their audience who are yelling and cheering, running up to get snacks at the concessions stand, and exhibiting their support for the boys. And that was just a practice! I witnessed this as I attempted to take my daily walk with my wife around the track that circles the fields.
The time comes in life when you decide its time to take your health serious, and I am hoping its not too little too late, but eating right and exercise have become more of a priority. When weather permits we go to a track a block and a half away which until recently was used by softball teams with a modicum of supporting casts. A beautiful new track that encircles a huge field, enough for two baseball games or a football and soccer game simultaneously. The track is about one third a mile so six spins gives us a two mile trek an great workout. Every once in a while we need to pass some slower people, or get passed by runners, and occasionally a child watching the game gets in the way, but its rare and a peaceful unobscured walk for the most part. That is until football started.
The first day of football practice we arrived at the track all stretched out and ready to hoof it for a two mile power walk. The level of noise on the way down to the track betrayed the fact that a lot of people were there, but not sure in what capacity. To our dismay when we arrived it was way more than just a lot, it was an over abundance. Two football teams, pee wee and teens, and two cheerleader squad practices were on the field and scattered all around the track were family members and what seemed like every relative of every child in town. It wasn’t a football practice it was a suburban social gathering of ginourmous proportions, way bigger than a PTO or town hall meeting combined. At first it was sorta uplifting, to see such a family oriented gathering watching their youngsters ready to compete in a sporting capacity. And it would have been awesome if only the families had a smidgen of consideration for other people. Unmovable congregations of not bratty teens, but moronic grown ups acting like teens. Bad enough they wouldn’t even consider moving in the slightest to allow others easy passage, but the moronic parents were seemingly unaware of what their kids were up to. Toddlers to pre teens running wildly, on scooters and skateboards not looking at anything, bouncing off other spectators like silver pinballs in the pinball machine. The walk around the track had turned into an obstacle course. No les then three kids blindly ran right into me and when I turned to tell their parent I couldn’t find them. The kids were totally unattended. Hello people, its not babysitting its parenting, and while I appreciate your proud that your chip off the old block makes you proud pounding the shit out of other players, you have other kids too. But then I looked closer, and half (liberally) of the males weren’t watching neither the kids nor the practice. What were they watching? Guess. No I don’t mean you should guess, I mean they were watching a woman wearing a tight Guess tee shirt, anmd they weren’t looking up at her eyes. This bullshit went on for three evenings straight, until Saturday. So what happened Saturday?

The girls took the field the Saturday to begin their season of women soccer. I have no doubt they wear some type of physical supporter, perhaps to protect their mammary glands for a similar reason as the jocks, and hopefully something that also offers them some protection from collisions on the field. What was glaringly absent was the support the boys experienced from the families. No family gatherings with Grandma an Grandpa in tow, no picture taking, no cougars hunting or tongue tied wolf Dads, no screaming and shouting, not much of anything. But let me tell you the girls played with every bit as much heart and determination even without a cheering section, or even a section. The praise, anger, or assurances of their coach was all they received.
I recently saw Billie Jean King in an in interview and apparently PBS made American Masters of her life and accomplishments. In case you don’t know who she is, she played tennis back in 1973 and has quite a resume of winning awards, but what she was most notable for back in the day was her competition against Bobby Riggs, a male tennis player who whether for show or for real acted the quintessential male chauvinist pig. He trash talked her into a showdown billed as “The Battle of The Sexes” and drew incredible attention. She beat Riggs decisively and struck a major blow against misogyny and for women’s rights including equal pay for men and women’s tennis tournaments. But deeper than that, she opened up the eyes and minds of a huge amount of males and helped make many male converts for the Women’s Lib movement. Maybe it should be required viewing in school because it seems our society needs a slap upside the head as a reminder that women are as important as men in all walks of life, including the male dominated genre sports.
Every time I find a young man or woman that are exceptional thinkers I feel like humanity is headed in the right direction. But too often it seems more like a huge step back into Neanderthal mentality with way more people working out to build their muscles in gym, and way too few building the most important muscle in the library. Too much emphasis is put on how we look and not nearly enough on how we think and that’s depressing enough, but if we are going to place so much emphasis on sports lets at least keep it on a level playing field. Truth told this existentialist would be happy without any sporting events because the fans are just too out of control but that’s a rant for another day. Today’s rant is about giving the ladies the same amount of support on and off the field as we do our boys. They play their hearts out, they work hard and they don’t quit. I get it, football is somehow more impressive and brings in money so its smart to spend money protecting their futures with a strap and a cup, but when it comes to making the effort merely to cheer the girls the families fall way short of athletic supporters.

Talk To The Hand That Rocks The Cradle

A Hands on evolution

Get your hand off my ass
Heard someone talking about a dude the other day and she called him a, “Hands on Dad.” Now if I heard that 20 years ago I would have thought, Damn that’s cool, it’s really good to see a father get involved with their kids. But today an involved father seems to be the norm, not the exception. Today most fathers are hands on, changing diapers, feeding, taking turns getting up, and then as they grow older sharing the responsibility of taking them to school, the doc, parks, playgrounds, sports, or whatever it is the children choose to be involved in.
I was a child in the 60’s and we had hands on dads back then too. They put their hands on our asses when they spanked us, slapped their hands on our wrists to get our attention, and slapped our heads and told us to “Wake Up! They were away all day long and according to Mom spent most of that time thinking of new ways to dispense disciplinary actions. “Wait till your father get home.“
Something to fear! It never worked cause frankly we didn’t give a shit. The old man came home with a headache, had a drink, and by the time he got around to us all he could muster was slurring a lecture. He only became hands on when he was pissed, like if I accidentally moved the wood he was hammering when I attempted to help him. So unless dad was in one of those foul work sucked kind of moods it was relatively safe. Keep an eye out until Mom trudged into the kitchen. That meant she was preparing our dinner which was served everyday at the exact same time. That meant it was an hour until Dad gets home. Same routine, and if he pounded down his scotch in one gulp that’s when I headed for the hills. Otherwise, just wait for the talking too. It was like I was living in an episode of Leave it To Beaver and Ward was gonna sit me down.
Nighttime was a different story. I have 5 brothers and we lived in the upstairs portion of the house. 5 kids in two rooms. It was like they were raising a hockey team. Being the youngest boy I received most of the body checks and eye gouges. 5 minutes for fighting,? More like 5 minutes for NOT fighting. Needless to say we made a lot of noise which disturbed my mom and dad.
The primary method of corralling us was to send up Dad. He would sit us down like a coach. “Come on fella’s, your mom and I both have headaches. You guys are making too much noise and you need to calm down and stop making so much noise.” Another ten minute of heart to heart pep talk then down he went. Worked like a charm. For ten minutes. Then it was time to resume the games! Laughing and yelling even louder and waging major battles ending up in pile ups with your truly screaming from the bottom. It must have sounded like we were moving the furniture. Okay not the best analogy but it was LOUD! Anyway all fun and games until we heard that shrill sound that sent fear coursing through our collective souls and had us scattering for cover. MOM!
The words in that sound determined how bad the violation was, and what extent of Moms brand of reckoning we would receive. If it was our names it wouldn’t be too bad, middle names trouble, but the absolute worst was “GOD DAMN IT!” Holy fuck she cursed! The angry, wait, no fuming, no, wait, lividly furious voice followed by extremely loud and deliberate foot pounding up the stairs. The closer the sound the deeper the fear. “Didn’t Dad tell you boys to knock it off?” We scrambled like hell to find a hiding spot because Mom was about to unleash a fury of hurt on whoever got nabbed first. Not only a hands on Dad, we had a Hands on Mom!
Hands is an interpretive word here. It wasn’t always her hand that caused us to shit pieces of dried mortar it was what was IN her hands. A wooden spoon, a belt, a shoe, a ruler, whatever was nearest to her that could be used as a weapon and inflict the maximus pain to the gluteus. Mom had an arsenal of weapons of ass destruction with frightening accuracy and was not afraid to use them. Being the smallest I was either caught first or thrown to the wolf more often than not. Mom would wail all her anger leaving welts on my ass. Today, child services would be buried under a month of paperwork after just one visit with my Mom. Today the neighbors would report blood curdling screams to 911. But I tell you what, I grew up having mad respect for her, for women, and for people in general. I don’t advocate violence, but it worked on me. I’m a better person because of Mom, welts and all.
People like to say it was a different time and of course it was. Innocence sure! But easier, no fucking way. Easier than parenting during the depression? Yes. Easier than parenting during the pioneering era? Sure. But easier than today? NO! Raising kids today is a seriously complex operation. Tons of literature assuring them how much harm they inflict on their kids ids and egos. Foods that will destroy their health, actions that will deplete their self esteem, all kinds of advice based on creating paranoia of failing as a parent. Parents can’t just raise kids today they need to have every technologic advantage and informed study before they even leave the hospital. Even the god damn strollers are high tech! Its gotta be really hard to raise kids today with everyone judging every action you take as a parent, so no not easy, only different.
My parents were pioneers of suburbia, and middle class America. We had one TV and we all watched whatever Mom decided on. Mom never worked. Well not unless you mean hard work. She cleaned, ironed, cooked, dressed us kids, and kept everything together with the minimum accessories. When we got an electric dishwasher the neighbors came over to see it like it was a new car or something. Another thing there was only one of. Not complaining or comparing, that’s just how shit was then. A dishwasher was a modern appliance. It was a birthday present for mom. What would happen if my son gave his wife an appliance for her birthday? Hope he never finds out, but my mom was happy about it.
When my brothers and I grew up we attempted to make good on our promises to never treat our kids the way we were treated. That meant reason over violence, sparing the rod TO save the child. Giving the kids everything we could. On the outside it was brilliant. But somewhere along the line something went wrong. We got too soft on the kids. When I played sports as a kid you picked teams and the shitty players always got picked last but that was okay. They understood that they sucked but we let them play because they were our friends. And if you lost you sucked it up and congratulated the asshole winners. We called them all kinds of shit in a whisper, but we lost and that was that. If we won we didn’t rub in their faces and get all chest puffed about it, we shook hands and called them losers in private. Respect! Once we got older it meant the losers had to pay for the beers. We snickered in silence, not up in their faces.
I was watching a group of kids playing Tee ball. WTF? Swing and miss bitches that how life works. If you can’t hit the ball become a musician, or an artist, or a fucking brainiac. No shame, sports isn’t everything. At least it wasn’t, it used to be about fun. Watching the fat kid strike out every time amused us. But then I hear one of the guys, a coach of some sort yelling, “Lets go kids, remember, everyone wins.” WTF I mean WTF-ing F!!! Everyone wins? Oh no please, don’t tell them that! Someone loses. There is always a loser, that’s the whole point of sports, one wins the other loses. I watched the superbowl. The whats their names won and the other guys lost, Okay, I didn’t watch the last superbowl but I’ve seen them before and let me tell you, one team lost. You could tell which just by looking at their faces.
It’ called disappointment and trust me, it’s a fact of life. My Mom prepared me for disappointment. I prepared my kids for disappointment. I didn’t set them up to fail, but to succeed. Because sometimes we fail, and when you fail you suck it up, learn from it, get over it, and move the fuck on. Being hands on is not the same thing as being a friend, that comes later. When my son was little I was his parent, now I’m his friend. Now he’s parent and when his kids grow up he will be their friends as well. He’s a pretty good parent too, and he makes mistake just like I id, just like my Dad did, and all the way back. My son has two little girls and teaches them golf, (I know, right??) takes them al over. He changed their diapers, helped feed them, and now he spends most of his free time with them. And even though he lets them fail sometimes people still describe him as a Hands on Dad!…………….PEACE