Sunday, August 12, 2012

Diner Check Incident

Had a strange incident at diner this evening. An old university friend who has lived in Europe for some where near 15 years has been back in the country and has brought his family to the same family orientated beach resort town that I am currently at with my family and my wife's extended family.
Anyway we were at dinner with my old friend and we were joined by one of his current friends and fellow ex-patriot whose parents live a few hours away from the shore town we are in.

So everything goes smashingly, the guy seems nice, we talk about where they live, how it compares to the USA and other places economically, educationally, etc. Our food is all on the same check, so I figured out my tab, which was only for myself and one of my sons, we were eating in sort of a food court setting so my wife and other son had picked up food elsewhere and brought back it to sit with us. So our tab was $16, and even though the service sucked I tipped $4 making for a nice even $20.
The friend of a friend thinks out loud stating his salad with his daughters two kids meals plus three drinks came to around $20.  Now I know that is completely wrong, the salad was around $7, the kids meals were at least $4.50 and drinks were $2 each, so even without a tip, which I know Europeans often do not give, so giving him the benefit of the doubt for that, his tab was still over $20 not including tax and the none existent tip.

So after I hear him say that I think I give him a mild really look, and he then asks how much is the total bill. So I hand him the bill and my $20 hoping that he will get the hint that I am paying $20 for two people, maybe ante up a little more for your three meals or you will be sticking me and or our mutual friend with covering part of your bill and tip.

He takes the check and my $20 bill, adds up his portion again and says yes, $20 should cover it and gives the check and my 20 to our mutual friend, who kicks in $40 and gives it back to me. I tell the non-payer, "Hey man you forgot to pay," non-payer, "No I didn't I gave you a $20," me, "No you didn't that is my 20, and he just paid 40," non-payer, "I held the 20 in my hand," me, "That was my 20 I handed it to you with the check," non-payer, "Did you drop my twenty or forget to pay?" Me looking in my wallet, "No I had 21 dollars in my wallet and now I only have $1," the tiniest bit of doubt seeping into my mind ... (Which crept in again as I was falling asleep writing this, I hate self doubt. Double checked with my wife in the morning and I had only given her $20 not $40 last evening so back to my rant) ... remembering I had two $20 bills in my wallet before giving one to my wife I was sure he did not pay. He finally capitulated and said, "Fine I will put in another $20," though he still thought that he had paid already by calling it "another $20." I after the non-payer left I told our mutual friend, "Yo, your friend thought I was trying to rip him off ..." Mutual friend seemed to think it was funny, as I should, if I were not so neurotic.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Nanny Sitter

Have to seriously start searching out some sort of person to pick the kids up from school and be responsible for them until I get home from my MSW placement this Fall ... not looking forward to the process or dealing with any issues the kids may have adapting to the new situation.


Last month my 10 year old did not use soap while washing his hands after going to the bathroom. I was like, dude, why aren't you using soap. He said, "Because we are out of soap." I replied use the bar soap from the sink if we are out of liquid soap. He said, "Dad I put that soap in some weird places, I am not washing my hands with that!"

disk error

My 10 year-old just had his last summer soccer tournament, in which he scored one of his best goals ever which I got on video ... except the camera or disc some how malfunctioned while the mini disc was finalizing and now I have not access to the video at all, it will not allow me to complete the finalization, nor will it show the material on it, so pissed off right now.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

10 Year-Old's - Psychology

After having some disagreement about proper disciplinary action for our children my wife emailed me the following, which she cut and pasted from somewhere online:

Ten is respectful of the authority of parents and teachers. He tries to avoid guilty feelings or punishment by following the expectations and demands of the adults in his life. But, if he perceives a command or punishment as unfair, he can become extremely angry at the authority figure.
Parents often become frustrated at the ten year old's sloppiness and lack of follow-through on household chores. Chore charts may help with motivation, but it's a rare ten year old who cleans his room or performs chores on his own initiative.
The best discipline approach with a ten year old is talking and planning. Ten needs to be taught to verbalize feelings and thoughts when dealing with internal and external conflicts. When ten gets the message that it's not OK to talk about the things that bother her, she will withdraw into internal coping thoughts and fantasies. Ten doesn't have the mature internal structures for resolving difficulties in her life. She needs to talk to parents and teachers to ground her problem solving in reality.
Because Ten has developed planning skills, the most effective discipline approach focuses on firm, clear, and concrete expectations and planning for good behavior.

Ten is such a stable age - psychologically, intellectually, socially. Nearly all tens are very happy, easy going, and balanced. A ten year old knows how to enjoy the simple things in life to the fullest. Parents can learn a lesson from ten's joy in life!
The ten year old is highly attuned to his peer group and recognizes his place in it. Ten relates to parents with compliance and submission to authority. With peers, he is able to express the 'self' that parents don't always see. This is a critical step in preparation for the identify development to come. Ten needs both the authority relationships with parents and teachers and the 'self' exploring relationships with peers.
While ten year olds don't often become angry, they don't handle their angry feelings well.  With parents, Ten will stomp off to his room or cry and yell in anger at the parent. With peers and siblings, Ten can be quite explosive and even violent. She will look for ways to get even with others whom she perceives to have treated her badly.
Ten approaches concepts of God, death, and morality in a matter-of-fact manner. The ten year old is not concerned about death. Most believe in God, but see church attendance as either an accepted family ritual or a disliked chore. Ten isn't guided by his conscience as much as by what parents and teachers tell him is right or wrong. But, he wants to avoid doing wrong and has a strong concept of fairness.

Daily Routines
The ten year old has a great appetite and more food 'likes' than 'dislikes'. His table manners are still poor. He needs parents to consistently remind him of table manners so that they become a regular habit in time. Tens, both boys and girls. love to cook.
Tens are extremely careless with their clothing; most are simply dropped on the floor or a chair. The ten year old hates chores, bathing, brushing hair and teeth; and, she doesn't care if her clothes are dirty or torn. Parents are forever reminding Ten, 'Put your dirty clothes in the hamper; wash your hands before dinner; take a bath; brush your teeth," and on and on.
Ten manages his daily responsibilities and activities well (except for chores, bathing, brushing hair and teeth, and picking up his clothes!) He's focused on school, friends, extracurricular activities, and family rituals. His even temperament, intellectual stability, and good social skills take him smoothly through his many daily tasks. He is able to learn new organizing strategies and enjoys using a family calendar and following daily schedules.

Ten-year old boys have an easier time with friendships. Boys' relationships tend to be based on mutual interests rather than close, personal feelings. Ten may have a few best friends and casual relationships with other boys on a team or in clubs.
Boys are seldom interested in girls at age ten, except to tease them or scare them. Many boys claim to hate girls at this age. Some will have a 'girlfriend' but are very casual about it.
Ten year olds have good ability to sense the emotions of others and to read facial and body language. At ten, acceptance by the peer group is a critical step that seems to have a strong effect on the next level of development. Poor peer acceptance at age ten is a strong predictor of behavioral and emotional problems in adolescence.
Ten year olds do feel very close to their parents, siblings, and extended family. Both boys and girls are happy to spend time with family in activities and outings. They do have frequent squabbles with siblings, fighting especially with younger siblings. They get along better with an older sibling, but may get their feelings hurt from criticism, teasing, or exclusion by their older brother or sister.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Italia Rules! & I'm a Man!

I was in the bathroom with my 1st grader and he asked if my tattoo could be erased, I told it was permanent. He asked what it was, I told him it is rumored to be a caveman drawing of a man from a ring at Stonehenge. He pointed to the inside of my forearm and said, "You should get ITALIA RULES right there." I started cracking up and he got upset asking, "Why are you laughing at me?" I told him I was not laughing at him but that comment was so "him" (seeing how he is so into being Italian even though he is only half Italian) that it made me happy because I thought it was cute. He did not like being thought of as cute anymore than being laughed at.


A few weeks ago we went for a family bike ride. My 4th grader gets nervous a lot, and riding a bike is no different, he gets so worried that he is going to run into pedestrians that he has crashed rather than just going around them. We all wear helmets, but I also have him kitted out with knee and elbow pads, under his clothes so as not to embarrass him, so he can shake off any minor spills and get right back to riding. His anxiety often winds up having my wife and I splitting up on bike rides, she goes ahead with our overconfident type A 1st grader and I lag back with my little neurotic indie/emo/proto-goth boy.

After a ride around the local park we are heading home, the grown ups ride on the street and the kids are on the sidewalk, and a few blocks from our house our 1st grader takes a bad spill due to a broken sidewalk. My wife rushes to his aid and I stop and look back to make sure everything is okay. He looks shook up and about to burst into tears, my wife mentions something about medicine, and he focuses for a quick second and angrily yells out, "I don't need medicine I'M A MAN!" and jumps back on the bike and starts riding again.

I have never told him that men do not need medicine ... though I am sure I have implied it is better to not dwell on bumps and bruises and to dust yourself off and keep on going. I wonder if he is reacting to my trying to keep his brother from going into full melt down mood when he gets flustered? Children can have very different reactions to being raised in the same households, shows the strength of the nature part of the nature v nurture equation.

Verbally Squashing a Beef

My 4th grader has complained about his classmates calling each other gay. He knows that people are free to be and do what they want so someone being gay is no big deal, and he knows that kids are not suppose to be calling each other gay.
It was not that he was singled out to be picked on but his classmates and friends are now at an age where they are indiscriminately throwing that word around. His initial reaction was to say yes I am happy, but then kids would say, no the other kind of gay!
So then he stated saying, "There is nothing wrong with being gay," or  "Yeah I am gay so what." Which I commended him on but explained that saying he was gay may lead to kids picking on him. Unlike myself my son is not armed with the ability to have a quick and caustic verbal response so I decided to give him a little ammunition. He said, "I can't say that I will get sent to the principle's office."

A day or so later he comes home and says, "Guess what, you know that 3rd grade kid that got left back that is always annoying me on the bus? Well he called me gay and I said to him, 'oh like when you and your dad have sex?' He looked at me upset and confused and walked away. I am really scared that I am going to get in trouble."
I said, "I doubt he is going to tell anyone because he would have to tell them that he was calling you gay, if he does and you get in trouble I will come to school and deal with it."

The next day my son said, "The kid's 5th grade sister asked me why I said that to him, and I told her and she said that was still mean." A couple of weeks later I asked if that kid has bothered him anymore, "No he hasn't."
Mission accomplished.
Kids in the neighborhood I grew up in were extremely harsh with making fun of each other (we called it running or cracking on each other) usually it was in good fun but you had to be able to verbally defend yourself or you would become a target for constant abuse. If you could be particularly mean and cutting you could make it known that you would put up with any non-jovial abuse, and I am glad that my son is learning to verbally defend himself, he is shy and not extremely confident outside of soccer so I do not want anyone to think that he is their whipping boy, he does not need that kind of stress in his life.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

My older son tried out for what I thought was an additional soccer program @ TSF, long story short I had filled out a registration form online, but they did not have our information when we showed up, so they had me fill out a paper registration form.
I bring this all up because on the form it did not ask for work contact information but requested the parent's profession and employer? WTF? Why would they need to know that? I did notice that none of the 40 kids there were African American, and only about 5 were non-white. Not an inclusive vibe to non-white / non-upper middle class potential families getting involved.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

After Spending Freely, Liberal Town Faces Fight on Frugality

The New York Times covers my town's local election.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

5 Things Parents Shouldn't Say to Their Kids

1) "I don't care.

I say this one way too much and I know it is wrong, it is usually followed by "about this right now," but I need to be more conscious and ask that they tell me what ever beautiful life affirming gems or asinine crap they were planning to share later when I am not so overwhelmed.

2) "Act your age!" 

I have basically said the same thing, "Come on man don't act like a baby," but have not said it very often. 

3) "Say you're sorry!"

Sorry, there ain't nothing wrong with this one so long as you have previously taught them why they need to say they are sorry in certain situations, then reinforce it when one of those situations comes up.

4) "Don't you get it?"

"What about this don't you get," is my version of this wrong thing to say to your children, usually when I am helping my 4th grader with math and have been explaining something for 20 minutes, then he gets real bitchy with me, then I get annoyed and stop helping him for a while, come back 1o minutes later go over it one more time and then he gets it, this happens once a week, I know he is eventually going to get it, but he seems to fight against understanding what I am helping him with until I get upset and stop helping. I have tried refusing to help, but then he starts to have an anxiety attack about not finishing his home work and becomes non-functioning.

5) "I'm going to leave without you!" 

I do not ever say this one, particularly if we are out of the house. If we have a problem at the store or elsewhere in public I just say, we are going to leave now if you do not stop, and if they do not stop we leave. The closest I ever did to this was when my oldest son was four years old and we were at a soccer camp/practice and he refused to separate from me and participate for the first half of the first two classes. At the third class I told him if he did not get out there and participate I was going to go for a walk until the end of class when I would come back and pick him up, then began walking away, which was really walking around the running track that surrounded the soccer field. After I got about 15 yards away he joined in the practice and I slowly walked back over where he was practicing and could see me, so I guess I walked away for about 45 seconds. I did make sure he knew I was coming back for him though. I guess I should be expecting a call from child services any minute now.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Is Kermit the Frog Real?

Just when the snarky teenage attitude has you thinking you 4th grader is not a little one anymore he comes up with this one:

Is Kermit the Frog real?
-What do you mean real? Like does he exist?
He is interviewed in this magazine.
-Oh you mean is he a living person?
-No he is not, he is a puppet controlled by a human puppeteer, so he was not really interviewed in this magazine

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

French Parenting

Why French Parents Are Superior
While Americans fret over modern parenthood, the French are raising happy, well-behaved children without all the anxiety. Pamela Druckerman on the Gallic secrets for avoiding tantrums, teaching patience and saying 'non' with authority

Why American Kids Are Brats
And their parents might be getting just what they deserve
Read more:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Bad

I thought the idea of my at the time 6 year-old son playing for a U7 soccer team that played in a U8 league with three practices a week was overkill and overly ambitious at least. Well that team playing up a level won all of their games, and just won a national tournament at Disney World.
Maybe driving three towns away for practice might have been worth it? I do not know, but I doubt I will be telling my son about the achievements of the team we left. I was debating whether to have him try out for the team next season, I am sure this will make competition for the squad much stiffer.

3 Surprising Reasons to Give Up Soda