Lunch with the Kids

My daughter turned 22 recently and my son soon turns 25. Today I had lunch with them. I try to have lunch with one or the other or both every couple of weeks to a month, just as an excuse to catch up with them and to hear what’s up with their lives. This gets harder as they get older and their lives more busy and full, but I want to take advantage of it as long as I can. Prior to this lunch, daughter also shared with me that she was going to bring the ukulele I had purchased for her for her birthday to show me what she’d been practicing.

Speaking as someone who has a ukulele and almost zero natural talent, my expectations were pretty low as she’s had it all of 10 days or so, but I was prepared to be parentally proud nevertheless.

During lunch we talk about what was going on in their lives, what was new, what was exciting, what they were excited about. In the course of that I was reminded that our relationship continues to evolve when I asked my daughter something about the boy she is dating and she replied “No, I’m not going to tell you that.” She didn’t do it rudely and, to be fair, I was asking something that was kind of personal about the boy. To her credit, she drew a line and despite some pushing from me, she held that line. At the time I was felt okay pushing for an answer because he’s a guy who’s dating my daughter, my little girl. But, at the same time, she’s an adult and chose to not share every detail of her private life and that’s okay. As my wife reminded me later, I need to give her space to be that adult that she is and not keep pushing. I did stop pushing, but had my wife been there I suspect she’d have given me the look to call me off much more quickly than I managed on my own. I’m slow that way.

I’ve mentioned before that in part as a result of me telling stories of my role playing group, my son found some friends to play with and he’s been enjoying that as well. Turns out a few months ago, he ran a small encounter for my daughter because she was curious what all this role playing was about and she really enjoyed it!

Today I learned that she’s advanced to creating her own campaign which she is DM’ing with her brother playing. She showed me the large map that describes the land her adventures take place in and she described a bit about the politics and family relationships that are driving the main story for her adventure. Her brother has been playing an evil character who seems to take it as a major goal to try and surprise her and operate counter to her story at pretty much every turn. So, basically, he’s being a big brother. I love that at 22 and 25 they have this relationship and they are clearly very important to each other and very much there for each other. And, we’ve got another member of the family infected with the role playing bug. Now, if I can just find a way to convert my wife…

As it turns out, my daughter is much more interested in the role playing and story aspect of the game, much more than the tactical side of things, which doesn’t surprise me at all. I suspect that, for her (much like her dad), the tactics and dice rolling are there to supplement and help drive the story, not the other way around.

In addition to this she shared that she’s continuing to go to roller derby practice at a local club. It’s mostly exercise and socializing and learning to skate better for her and she doesn’t believe she’ll ever really want to do a match, but I’m tickled that my daughter is doing something I would have imagined to be so far out of her comfort zone. I’ve taken a ridiculous large amount of glee telling people about my roller derby daughter and watching their mouths gape and their eyes go wide with concern on her behalf. But, my daughter is having a good time and that’s enough.

After lunch wrapped we went to my car and piled in so she could share what she’d been working on. She brought her ukulele and a guitar. I didn’t know she could play the guitar, either!

She played three songs. The first was a cover of a song I didn’t know, the second was a song (“the song“) from Frozen and the third was something she wrote.

You know that cartoon where Michigan J. Frog is first released from a block of cement and starts singing and dancing for the man who looks like he has seen a thing which he didn’t thing existed? (Look it up kids, it’s on the YouTube).

I’ve known my daughter a long time, all 22 of her years, in fact. I was there when she was forcefully ejected in to this cold hard world. I’ve watched her grow up, declare herself a fruititarian (something she invented), out stubborn me in an argument about finishing her dinner and eventually become an amazing young lady who is smart, beautiful, funny, sarcastic and as big-hearted as the sky. And somehow, I completely missed that she can sing. Then she played the song that she wrote on the guitar and it was like finding out that your kid has a super power. It was an amazing realization and only made better by the realization a parent has that their kid can do something that they cannot and not just a little better but A LOT better.

My fantastic time with my kids came to a close and the kids got out of my car and in to my son’s car. Turns out he’s having an issue with an electrical drain somewhere in his car, so he asked me to hang around in case the car wouldn’t start.

The cherry on my sundae was that other than asking me to stick around to be sure his car started, he didn’t ask for anything else. Not money to fix it, not asking what I thought it might be, nothing. Meanwhile, I was restraining, with difficulty, the parent in me that wanted to jump in and fix the problem. But, No, he had it under control. My boy was handling his stuff like an adult. He knows I am there if he needs me, but at least for now, he’s got this. What more can a parent ask for?

Spring Reflections

It’s so easy to get out of the practice of things, even and perhaps especially the things that we enjoy doing. Then, as we look back, or at least I look back over these last nearly four months since I stopped making it a priority to write regularly, I try to figure out what I’ve done and the answer is not as much of the things I enjoy doing or want to be doing as I should be.

As for reasons, we all have our reasons: We get busy, we lose focus, we’re tired, we’re not inspired. Whatever they are, they’re both real and they are excuses.

Mine involve trying to dive in on work things to try and help that effort be effective and in that I was largely successful. At least in my part. We got out a big release, we’re working on patching that big release to address any leftover bugs that seems especially worrisome. We’ve started work on trying to figure out what our next set of work should be.

On the personal front, and this certainly affects my wife more than me but there is a certain amount of overflow, we are trying to help my in-laws as they struggle with all the things that come with getting older and requiring additional care and all the decisions that surround that effort.

I try to remember to stop when I can and figure out if I’m actually driving my life or my life is driving me and looking back over the first part of this year, the latter is certainly the case. I’ve been at the mercy of my life and my response to that has been to want to come home and just veg. My brain is tired, my brain is full and the idea of trying to muster the creative juices to even make a dinner seem like a struggle.

Spring has finally sprung around here, so the turn towards better weather will help, as does the change to Daylight Savings Time. More daylight means more opportunity to be outside and do other things.

I got to play my first week of volleyball for the season. I play outside on a sand court with some friends I’ve been playing with for more than 10 years that’s a few minutes from work. The good news for me – because I try not to take it for granted because some day I really won’t be able to keep playing, is that I can still move and jump, bump/set/spike in a way that doesn’t embarrass me, so that’s yet another win in the column for failing to accept the notion that I’m coming up on my 49th birthday.

Getting outside during that time is one of my favorite parts of any day, so the improving weather will hopefully mean more opportunities to get out at lunch and play. At a bare minimum, it makes it easier to get out for a two mile walk around work, which I’m trying to make my bare minimum requirement for exercise for a day. I’d like to either walk or play volleyball five of seven days and right now I’m averaging about half that, so there is room for improvement.

I’ve been playing too many video games, just another form of consuming instead of creating for me, roughly equivalent to watching television. I’ve been reading some but mostly fiction for enjoyment, which puts it in the bucket with the other forms of consumption.

I have successfully dropped out of Facebook. The account is still there, but I’m not checking it and not participating in it. Occasionally I feel as though I’m missing out on something or my wife will tell me something I didn’t know about that my kids are up to because I didn’t see it on Facebook.

Speaking of kids, mine are now both officially older than 21 (22 and soon to be 25) which officially, at least in my mind, makes them all grown up. Which, then, because all things have to come back to me, means I am really old to have two grown kids.

My daughter has joined a roller derby club, which when I tell friends of family, seems to be met with some combination of shock and/or horror. This, by the way, is in addition to doing a great job at work. I, on the other hand, am pretty tickled. I think it’s fantastic. It’s SO unexpected and wonderfully perfect for my daughter and I think it’s a spectacular plan. She worked at a skate rink during high school so she’s a pretty great skater. I think this will be a great confidence builder for her. Plus, she suffers a bit too much from inheriting her father’s tendency towards caution and I think this might help feel more comfortable kicking a bit of ass. They wear pads and helmets, so I’m no more concerned about her injuring herself than any any other active hobby and – it’s roller derby! How cool is that?! If that makes me a bad parent, I’ll take that. I think it is great!

My son is doing well back at school and is working through all the questions about what he wants to do and who he wants to be that are entirely the right questions for him to be asking at this point in his life and I’m proud of him for that. He’s working on himself and his life and where he wants to be and, speaking as a parent, that makes me proud.

In some ways it feels like my kids, at least from my outside view because I’m trying to not be in the middle of their lives as actively as I was when they were my primary responsibility, are living their lives in a more engaged and active way than I am if I let myself get tired or lazy.

All of this is a simple way to say it’s time to start setting myself some more engaged goals that lend themselves to more making and less consuming, more work/life balance, more focus on making sure I’m living my life in a healthy and engaged way that is meaningful to me. I don’t think I did a good job of that over the last almost four months. But, the good news, there’s always the opportunity to start fresh and do better.



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