The School of Hard Knocks

I recently talked to my oldest daughter Marie’s mom. She’s a senior in high school this year and was accepted to LSU . It’s amazing how the time flies with her and how much I’ve missed. The thought that her high school graduation will likely be the last milestone of her childhood does make me rather sad but that’s not the main thought I had when hearing this.

I thought about how good a kid she’s been over the years. Her mother and I talk quite a bit at times  so I’ve definitely got a feel of what kind of person she is. Full of love and happiness. Her mom and dad have done a great job raising her and that definitely makes me happy.
Now that gets me thinking about the two little Devils I have running around now. My kids are definitely good, loving kids, but if left to their own devices I’m sure they could overthrow a small government with the terror they can reign down. They are kids after all so they require a nudge in the right direction at times. The question is am I nudging them the right way? It’s hard for any of us to say that as parents. We all have our own ways of parenting so it’s tough to say what’s right or wrong. I’m sure we all worry to an extent of how what we do now will shape them as adults.

Take a look at me. I was a relatively good kid. Rambunctious to say the least but an A student growing up. Never got into trouble at school until my last year of high school. My parents didn’t drink or smoke. Disciplined me when needed. They were both teachers and they both loved me and showed that every day. That being the case as I got older I got more and more rebellious. Getting into trouble as a teenager was regular, and it was often very bad trouble. My first time getting in trouble at school I got expelled then shortly after that I was sent to juvenile detention. (As far as I know this detention was shut down by the federal government because of many reported cases of abuse to the kids there)

The fact of the matter is I did these things despite having two  of the best parents you could ask for. I’m sure once my behavior went South it made things extremely hard on them not knowing how to get me to snap out of it. How did their little boy turn into this uncontrollable royal pain in the ass? I have no idea. This is what scares me about parenting. It makes me nervous to think I could go through what my parents went through with me. It would break my heart to witness my children endure what I did even if it was my own stupidity that did it. I hate that my mother and father had to witness it.

That said I’m happy that my daughter has had two of the best parents she could ask for. It’s truly a blessing to know that they were there for her and the have molded her into the wonderful woman she has become. Of course they can thank me for her good looks but that’s not what we’re discussing now. Same with Coleman and Julia’s mom. She carries the burden of having to do everything two thirds of the time because of my schedule. I couldn’t ask for a better mother or role model for them. Again they are also good looking. You’re welcome.

I guess the point here is none of us never really know what will happen. As parents we have to just be ready to adapt and do what’s best for our children in any situation. Remember they will not always do what you want or what you expect. I know my parents did and they never gave up. Just took them a little while to get the product they wanted and deserved.

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Like Father, Like Son

“Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children play is serious learning. Play is really the work of childhood.”
Fred Rogers

Some days I just have to marvel at the masterminds my children have become. Yesterday my son told me that he went to Toys”R”Us and got the lizard man from the “Amazing Spider-man” movie. He proceeded to tell me how I could get the Spider-man toy for myself. That way we could play together. It always makes me happy when my son wants to spend time with me, and that he still thinks of me coming home to play while I’m gone.

Then reality set in. It dawned on me that I have been duped by the greatest criminal mastermind of our time since Lex Luther. He knows that when daddy gets his Amazing Spider-man toy that daddy will play with it for a week with him and then leave for another trip on the boat. That’s when The Amazing Spider-man becomes Coleman’s new toy. That diabolical little genius. Julia would never scheme like this. (Ok that’s a lie. She stole $200 out of my wallet at the ripe age of two years old and placed the money in her princess piggy bank.)

There is only one thing to say about this… Well played son! After I’ve worked thirty-five days on this river away from you I’m thrilled to buy a ten dollar Spider-man for a few hours of hanging out in your room just so you can steal it from me later. Of course this means I’ll have to buy my own Barbie or some other girl toy to play with my little princess too. It’s only fair right? With under a week left I’m just happy to get back home to make up for lost time.

It gets hectic after you’ve been gone. Lots of catching up to do at the house. A honey-do list that may have gotten a little lengthy. Just remember the most important thing you need to catch up on may be a tea party with a couple teddy bears or a vicious battle between the Transformers and the X-Men. Just don’t go back to work wishing you’d just said yes to a playful little boy or girl instead of saying “we’ll do it later”.

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Daddy’s Home!

“The stress of discipline is not fun,

but that does not mean that there is not

a happy home”

Everyone that works on a tugboat, offshore or any other job that keeps you away from home for a prolonged period of time knows this feeling. You get home and the kids tackle you like they were a 260 pound middle linebacker chasing down a quarterback without a chance of escape. They are more excited to see you than they are to open presents on christmas morning. “Daddy’s home!!!” is what you hear being yelled as they come running. It’s a wonderful and rewarding feeling to say the least. You’ve come home from a hard couple weeks away (or maybe longer) and it makes you feel like what you’ve done is appreciated. Daddy is the greatest for a change! (HA! Take that Mommy!)

Well don’t get to comfortable being the hero. In about thirty minutes, or less, after the dust settles it happens. Your six year old daughter hits your five year old son in the head with some sort of toy that the manufacturer obviously developed with the sole purpose of incapacitating a small child by the child’s elder sibling. Now that mom has had to discipline the kids for the last 14 days or so it is your turn. Daddy will no longer be the favorite after he has to punish somebody. No longer the hero you have now become the one who delivers a punishment that the kids don’t want to hear. In my house they would both get some sort of punishment because the were both probably involved in the altercation no matter who came out on top.

This can be rather tough sometimes. You don’t want to spend your precious days at home being the bad guy. You want to have that quality time with your family that you missed so much. Nobody wants to yell at their kids or punish them and you really don’t want to when you only have a few short days at a time with them. I’m not here to tell you how to discipline your kids or how I discipline mine. I will tell you what i do after the dust settles that makes things a little better and easier to get on with your quality time at home.

No matter how mild or severe the consequences I always do this. When every thing is done I give them a chance to think about what happened, what they did and what happened after they did it. I then go into their rooms separately and talk to them. Ask them if they understand why they got in trouble and if they say no I explain it to them. If they say yes I ask them to explain it to me so I’m positive we’re on the same page. Then I talk to them about why they shouldn’t do that and how it effected the people around them. After a calm talk they are very likely to understand and then everyone can move on having learned a lesson. A lesson you’ll have to teach them over and over again because they have an extremely short and selective memory.

Just remember that just as kids make mistakes so do we as parents. Sometimes we overreact or don’t always say the right thing in the moment but if we take a minute to sit down with our children and talk to them they will have a better understanding of why we do what we do, right and wrong, and they will understand why they got themselves into trouble in the first place. Then when daddy leaves to go drive the big boat he’ll be a hero all over again, but they’ll probably like mommy more by that time.