The recent death of Steve Jobs was yet another stark reminder of the fragility of life. No matter how rich or famous you are, the grim reaper does not care. While I won’t admit how close in age Jobs and I are, I will admit that I fully recognize that my life could end any moment, though I pray it doesn’t. There is still too much to do, see, and too much work left to do.
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You want your kids to relate to you, right? You want to be cool, don’t you? Maybe you should try to relate to them? Novel idea. Do you remember all the DUMB things your parents liked and did? Do you really think you’re any different?
So, what do my wife and I fight about? The big things like sex, money, and the kids? Nah, that would be too easy, too typical. We fight about a clean house including the dog-hair, where the dishes go, the vacuuming, wiping off the counters, folding the laundry, and the kid’s messy rooms. Oh, and making the bed with ALL those pillows!
I was a 24/7 single dad to my two boys and two dogs for several years. During those years, I lapsed in the area of clean house. There were more pressing things to deal with, in my opinion. Dating again, for one thing. And, more seriously, the emotional fall-out to my boys because of their (biological) mom abandoning them.
As my kids get older, each touching corny moment (and I mean “touching” literally, as well as figuratively) becomes more and more fleeting. As I have two boys, the amount of kissing and hugging is reduced to the point of pretty much shaking hands, and with my younger son (13), an occasional hug and air peck on the cheek. At least my (3) dogs still give me affection (and, my wife, of course – if I didn’t say that I’d be in the “dog-house”).
BUT, I had one of those “at this age” unusual and rare sappy parenting moments with my young teen when he and I went to see AVATAR. It was Saturday night so we thought getting there an hour early would be time enough to get tickets for the 7:00 p.m. show. Nope, sold out. So, we got them for the 8:00 p.m. show and went for dinner.
(Note: I consider this an early Thanksgiving-themed blog – enjoy)
I attended the Bar Mitzvah of a friend’s son recently. This young man has some relatively severe learning disabilities. Yet, his parents provided him with the sort of support that was full of love and understanding for him. The rabbi adjusted the service to allow him full participation, within his limits, and it was as loving a right-of-passage as possible, with an equally classy and terrific party afterward.
Even the weather cooperated, as their theme was a rainbow and at just the right moment, with all of the guests gathered outside, the rabbi asked us to turn around. We saw the setting sun actually make e a slight rainbow, as if Industrial Light & Magic were hired to create it.
In every marriage, spouses face an inevitable choice between their children and their spouse. It is a classic dilemma that confronts every couple and one that is inescapable and difficult. It is especially true in second marriages, like mine. I have to admit, it is an ongoing issue in our home and one I’m trying to figure out with the right amount of love and respect shown towards everyone.
Some therapists advise that the husband/wife should always come first. Others, like Dr. Laura, advise to always put the kids first. As with much of her advice, I think it’s too cut-and-dried and doesn’t take into consideration the grays of life. In my case, I was raising my boys alone for several years and the bond we had was deep, plus the hurt from their mom abandoning them was deep and different for each of them.
I was having coffee with an old friend the other morning, sitting outside, as the weather was warm, and the scenery equally pleasant. We marveled at the abundance of attractive women that came and went. At the same time, the attire of many of the younger girls shocked us. We assumed they were young teens as they were young enough that they were being driven and accompanied by their moms. One such young girl, to be charitable, was dressed completely trashy, wearing a very short tight skirt, and a top that left little to the imagination.
We just returned from a boys trip to Vegas. By “boys,” I mean my two boys, who are almost 16 and 13 and me, the oldest of the “boys” (according to my wife). I had to consider, yet again, the dilemma we confront as parents today, with the constant assault on our values and the non-stop sexual and violent imagery our kids face. We can’t fully shelter our kids, but what should be the limits?