Tag Archives: kids

What Are My Children Doing Atop That Large Mountain Over There (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

This is four billion times higher than it looks

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Washington Post — Here’s a neat travel tip about Yosemite National Park: It contains a multitude of tall mountains. Its ribbon-thin two-lane roads wind around tall mountains, climb tall mountains and then, having basically reached space, plunge back down tall mountains at angles that cause the brakes of your rental van to smoke in petulant protest. Every time you drive 30 yards, you go up or down about 14,000 feet. I am from Indiana, where to achieve that degree of elevation change, one generally has to be wearing a jetpack. (Mellencamp sells them.)

I don’t have a fear of heights, necessarily, but I do have a fear of slipping on pebbles, tumbling over ledges and kissing hard ground at 35,000 mph, so, in conclusion, I have a fear of heights. (I also have a fear of brakes that spontaneously burst into flames, but I feel like that’s fairly universal.) This sets me apart from my relatively fearless children, who didn’t inherit my self-preservation instincts, and by “self-preservation instincts” I mean nerves of silky gossamer. They press their faces against the windows of skyscraper observation decks, they leap into dark ocean water, they purposely ride in hot-air balloons. Earlier this summer, this became a serious problem.

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Why Are Summers So Short Now? (via On Parenting from the Washington Post)

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On Parenting from the Washington Post —  Are summer breaks shorter these days? Or have they always been this short? Is my memory of summer — days that ramble and roll with no particular end in sight — a revisionist lie, a trick of my aging and nostalgia-craved brain? Because that memory is a languid stream of pleasant boredom, a near-cliche mix of comic book hoarding, lunchtime wake-ups, improvised baseball games and the semi-regular side hustle mowing lawns for Camelot Music money. And in the memory, summer feels bottomless.

In the present, summer lasts nine criminally abrupt weeks, many of which feel spent before they’ve begun. It’s mid-July and we’re talking to fence-neighbors about teacher preferences and bus schedules, all of us feeling the end closing in. With just a little effort, you can almost see the gathering of autumn clouds. Somebody changed summer.

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Play Like a Dad: 20 Father’s Day Activity Ideas (via Parents / Family Fun)

photo / Robyn Breen Shinn

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Parents / Family Fun — In her job as a physician’s assistant, my wife has been required to work in the E.R., get ready for 6 a.m. surgeries, and be on call—all things that have led to a rewarding career but nothing close to what our parents called a “normal work schedule.” As such, it’s often just our two sons and me, the three Vrabel men, waking up to a day full of endless possibility and promise. And these days tend to begin the same way: with me making breakfast and asking, “So what’s on the agenda today?” and the boys responding with…well, abject silence, since they’re upstairs furiously Minecraftingwhile I talk to a stack of speedily cooling Belgian waffles.

Given the opportunity, my sons would be pretty well satisfied devoting one to 48 hours of their day to Minecraft, Roblox, and some curious digital pastime known to me only as “Goat Simulator.” (I once asked the 6-year-old how to play it, and he responded by tilting his head, looking at me as though I’d just sprouted a second head, and saying, “Uh, you simulate goats.” I’d never been so shut down by such a weird sentence.)

Every dad wants to fill his children’s hours with activities that will empower and enrich them; every parent has stared at a wall repeating, “Yeah, I have no idea what that is.” To that end—and to celebrate Father’s Day—here’s an incomplete list of DAD THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR KIDS, as written by actual dads, prominent bloggers, musicians, and me, a humble writer-slash-Belgian-waffle aficionado.

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The Eighth-Grade Karaoke Party: A Horror Story, Obviously (via Fatherly)

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Fatherly — If there’s a more potentially socially-ruinous situation than Eighth-Grade Karaoke Night at the Middle School Cafeteria, I simply do not know of it. The phrase alone has caused visible reactions and exhumed latent formative-year terror in friends and family members. At my son’s age, I would have crawled into a cafeteria heating duct to escape singing karaoke. I would have burst through a wall, leaving a me-sized hole in the bricks.

This is not what my son did.

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Why I Am Happily Plunging My Family Into Poverty Because of Honeycrisp Apples (Fatherly)

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Fatherly – I don’t have a large house, a Trunk Club membership, or student loans, but my children only eat Honeycrisp apples so it’s all sort of a wash.

Honeycrisp apples are the fresh, plump varietal in the produce section under the sign labeled “Prohibitively Expensive Versions of Normal Food.” They are large. They are delicious. Unlike stupid dumb loser apples, which break as though you’re cutting into oatmeal, Honeycrisps, true to their name, crack in a crisp example of Nature’s Majestic Symmetry, like the crystals of a geode, their little droplets of juice-spray playing delightfully in the air.

If I sound prejudiced against other apples, it’s because I hate them.

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How to Properly Decode Your Child’s Parent-Teacher Conference (via The Loop / Golf Digest)

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The Loop / Golf Digest — It’s fall! Which means the football team you’ve loved since age 8 is being used as ugly political currency, your preferred cereal brands are all issuing pumpkin-themed novelty editions that taste like orange garbage and your children’s schools are contacting you about parent-teacher conferences, those annual events in which teachers take time out of their languid, relaxing lifestyles to schedule some time in which they can be directed by parents to pay more individual attention to their daughter’s snack habits.

Sure, parent-teacher conferences may seem like they exist primarily to make you scramble for child care at 6:45 p.m. on a Wednesday, but it turns out the people raising your kids for seven hours every day do have information they wish to impart. They just can’t do that using their grownup words, because as a rule, parents deeply object to negative commentary about their children, forcing everybody to use strange circular patterns of conversation that only occasionally say what they mean. Here now, a helpful translation to what’s really going on.

“Your child is so full of energy!” = WHAT IN THE NAME OF SKIPPYJON JONES DO YOU FEED YOUR UNGROWN CHILD IN THE MORNINGS? Is there a Skittles cereal? Is he just eating smushed-up gobs of Lucky Charms marshmallows? Your overcaffeinated wombat couldn’t remain stationary if I duct-taped his butt to his tiny chair, which I can’t do because of the “school board,” thanks a lot Obama. Look, I’m not saying ADHD, you’re not saying ADHD, but if you guys haven’t worked out a strategy about such things, it’s probably worth a Google. Meanwhile, tomorrow, for breakfast, TRY SOME FRUIT.

More at The Loop / Golf Digest.

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Why Your Children Can’t Stop Watching Other Obnoxious Children Play Video Games on YouTube (via the Washington Post)

VenturianTale, I guess?

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — When I was 12 or 13, I busied myself with a range of pursuits, from the dumb to the very dumb to the hugely and galactically dumb. Every month, I purchased a new issue of Pro Wrestling Illustrated. I memorized the entirety of Young MC’s debut album, which contained “Bust a Move” and 12 songs that weren’t “Bust a Move.” I got really, really into  “Dr. Mario” (but I stand by that one, as over time I became startlingly good at it).

When you’re in those weird culturally formative years, you explore a lot of weird culturally formative options. So I understand that it is a middle-aged cliche to say that my kids’ penchant for watching videos of bothersome millennials playing video games on YouTube is a remarkably idiotic waste of time.

There is a monster cottage industry of millennials who record themselves playing video games, and my boys, ages 13 and 6, have plunged into it. Mild-mannered on most days, my children, when presented with these videos, spot-mutate into glassy-eyed replicants who draw the shades, hide under blankets and watch as many as they can before I dramatically stomp in and do my impression of the dad at the beginning of that Twisted Sister video.

Here’s why, maybe.

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Good News, Everybody, We Are Raising a Future Polka Star (via On Parenting at the Washington Post)

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On Parenting at the Washington Post — Good news, everybody: We are the proud new owners of a baritone horn, a band instrument that’s big and brassy, and apparently not a tuba.

We’ve been renting it for my son’s band class for the past three school years, making monthly payments that — fun story — it turns out were actually lease-to-own payments that have ended with ownership of what is easily my family’s first enormous brass object with a spit valve. I am happy about this, in the way that you’re happy about suddenly owning a huge pricey object you weren’t planning to buy, and which will probably live in your basement, crawl space or attic for the next 40 years.

It’s a happy accident, and one that cements band as something that, in three years, went from a school-day hobby to a regular, if mysterious, part of my son’s identity.

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No, We’re Not Worried About the Exchange Program, and Please Stop Asking (via Scary Mommy)

Scary Mommy — “Aren’t you worried?” people seem to keep asking us when they learn that our 13-year-old will spend two weeks in France this summer. “With all the…” and here they pause, fumbling for the way to say “gun violence” and make inferences about Muslim terrorists in a manner appropriate for Saturday soccer.

And here we pause, searching for the appropriate way to say “Well, duh,” which, it turns out, is pretty much just “Well, duh.” (Happily, that term translates wherever you go.) I like to think we’re worried about our son every day, when he boards the bus, when he baits his own sharp pokey hook, when he comes sprinting down the stairs, when he walks home from his buddy’s down the street, when he skates down the driveway without a helmet because he doesn’t listen, and when he goes to karate class, where as a rule, they kick and punch at other children. The question is doofy. We exist in a state of low-level concern; we all do.

But are we worried about shipping him overseas, because of all the…?

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The All-Ages Genius of Rockabye Baby (via the Washington Post)

I ain’t sorry.

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Washington Post — Pro tip for aspiring PR executives: If you’re ever announcing a Beyoncé-themed baby product, try to do so just days before she Instagrams her pregnancy.

Such was the most recent stroke of good news in the potent, enduring tale of the Rockabye Baby series, which for 11 years and 78 albums has tried to alleviate one of the worst parts of being a parent — the music — with lullabied instrumental covers of songs from, you know, real bands. The Beyoncé version is the latest in a list that includes Prince, the Beatles, Springsteen, the Pixies, David Bowie, Eminem, the Cure, Guns N’ Roses, Rush, Kanye West, Radiohead, Adele, Cyndi Lauper, Tool and Iron Maiden. (If you think you had a weird day at work, imagine trying to coax “The Number of the Beast” out of a harp and glockenspiel.)

A look inside the world of the planet’s dominant Kanye West lullaby-making machine.

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