Saturday, May 30, 2009

Kids Growing Up - WHAT?!?!?

Well, O.K., it’s time to approach everybody for some help! That’s right, I’m looking for some advice! What’s the problem, you might be asking? Well, my14-year-old 8th grade daughter is about to leave for a week long trip with her school to Washington D.C.

This is the same 14-year-old girl that I used to have to rock to sleep EVERY SINGLE NIGHT AT 3:00 A.M. during the first year of her life because she needed me!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She was also the little girl who needed my help to learn to ride her bike, learn the weekly enjoyment of pizza and a Slurpee from 7-11, learn the proper driving skills in her Barbie car, learn the finer points of baseball while watching a Tigers’ game on TV with me, learn to play the clarinet so that she could earn a1st division rating at this year’s Solo and Ensemble Band festival, and, well, you get the idea!!

It’s not so much the fact that she’ll be gone for a week. I can deal with that, as I know that she’ll be home next Saturday, whereupon we will immediately embark on a pizza/Slurpee journey! It’s not even so much the fact that she’s going to live for nearly a week without any direct help from me. No, I can deal with that, too (for one week, that is). I’ll even find something else to do at 6:00 a.m. each day this week (that’s the time that I usually wake her up with a cheerful hello and some sort of bad joke!!).

The problem is this: It’s that I can see the beginning of the end of life with my daughter in our house. People with older children have told me that kids actually grow up, become adults, move out, get married, have kids, and lead totally independent lives from their dads! Perhaps, those people were just teasing me. But, if all that they said is true, please pass along some advice!!

So, if you have older kids, how have you dealt with all of the above? Please pass along your comments for all to see, as your advice can be helpful to other parents, as well. As for my two boys (ages 8 and 11), I think that we just might have Slurpees and pizza every day this week! Even though my wife strongly discourages the consumption of pizza and Slurpees in our family, I have a feeling that she just might go for it this week!

And finally, I finished my inaugural basketball coaching season this past weekend as the assistant coach, as our team scored a thrilling 35-33 victory! The victory must have been the work of the head coach and the players, because the assistant coach was thinking about a very special 14-year-old girl who was sitting in the bleachers with her mom and her little brother .........................

So, parents, as exhausting and infuriating as it can sometimes be, have you thought about the times in the future when your kids will no longer live with you or even need your sage advice and wisdom on an hourly basis? The day is coming sooner than you think! So, use your time now to continue to raise your kids in the manner that you believe is best. There is a limited window of opportunity for you to help your kids find their way. Because one day, they just might leave for a week .... and discover that they can live without you ... OUCH!

To the parents who have experienced kids leaving the nest, how have you coped? Was it as difficult as it appears to be? Please pass along advice for everybody! Thanks!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Proud Moment For Dad

As a parent, how many proud moments have you experienced? Probably several hundred – perhaps several thousand! Of course, the goal is to experience more “proud” moments than the “not-so-proud” moments, because there will be plenty of both!

Although I am always proud of my children, in my life as a dad, I have had many moments when the emotions welled up, as one my of kids took the opportunity to make me proud of an accomplishment in a public venue. It’s a little tough to show emotion in those moments, but, nonetheless, it’s all there inside!

Several years ago, I started working as an announcer for various sporting events (football, basketball, baseball, volleyball). With many years spent in front of a microphone (as a Teacher, Principal, and Musician), combined with my lifelong love of sports, the combination of announcing sporting events seemed to be made for me.

I spent several years honing my skills in this regard, all the while hoping that I could someday announce an accomplishment of one of my own children.

Finally, my big moment occurred!! After years of announcing, “Tackle by #27, Joe Smith” or “Outstanding 7-yard gain for quarterback, #19, Bill Jones”, the moment to announce an accomplishment of one of my own children was finally presented to me!

During the 2nd quarter of a football game, my son, playing at defensive tackle and wearing #64, fought off a blocker, reached around the blocker with one arm, stopped the halfback cold, freed his other arm from the blocker and made a solo tackle on the halfback, stopping him for a 2-yard loss!!

With all of the enthusiasm that I used for all other players, I announced the following: “Big-time solo tackle by #64, xxxxxxx Reeves, as he reached around the defender to stop the halfback, Jim Jones (fake name) for a 2-yard loss .... an outstanding solo tackle for xxxxxx Reeves”!!

My son got back on his feet, flashed a quick look to the press box, and gave me a thumbs-up signal! Right at that moment, I felt the need to throw down the microphone and run down to the field to hug big #64, as he had created one proud moment for his dad! (QUESTION: While we know that it would be embarrassing for a mother to run down to the field to hug her defensive tackle son, would it be better or worse if a dad did the same thing?).

Somehow, I kept the emotions in check and the game continued, with my son making even more tackles and fine plays and with the announcer enthusiastically calling his name and number!

There have been several other moments in which my kids have made me proud in public, but that first tackle, coupled with the thumbs-up to the press box, ranks near the top!

How about you? Write back and tell me about the public moments that you have experienced in which your kids made you proud!!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Exercise - Lifelong Values

Having watched my own dad and some of my uncles live their lives in less-than-stellar physical condition, the direct result of eating the wrong foods and never exercising, I decided that I would be the first in my family line to reverse that trend when I became an adult.

Long before I stopped playing competitive sports after high school, I had decided that I would embark on a lifelong journey to stay in good shape and to stay healthy. My goals included establishing a regular workout regime and mostly eating and drinking items that were healthy for me (of course, the occasional candy bar or ice-cream never hurt anybody!). I decided to not be excessive and allow the regime to control my life, but I wanted to be in good shape, healthy, and relatively pain free, unlike my own dad and uncles.

Starting at about age 13 while watching the Summer Olympics on television, all the while hoping that nobody would notice that I had started a “plan”, I began to do several minutes of jumping jacks for cardio, sit-ups for flexibility, and lifting bowling balls to build strength (to get dumbbells or barbells, I would have had to reveal my actual plan to my parents!).

My plan worked and I later escalated to jogging outside, investing in a treadmill, a rowing machine, and actual weights, while mostly staying away from the beloved Twinkies, pies, and Dunkin’ Doughnuts!

Throughout the rest of my adolescent years, through college, and into adulthood right through to this very morning, I have worked hard to keep myself in fairly decent shape – some would joke that it’s why I seem to have more energy than many who are much younger ….. and they’re probably right!

Of course, as I wanted to be the first in my family line to live a healthy lifestyle, it was also my goal to ensure that my own children would get it in gear and follow the lead of the favorite dad! As a part of my journey, I made sure that I worked out with them in the room, showed them how to use the machines, often discussed the benefits of lifelong health, gave them books to read, designed workout plans for them and ………. other than a few passing glances and some minimal involvement, my own kids, while showing an interest, always seemed to find other activities in which to engage, such as playing video games, watching television shows, and other such valuable endeavors.

However, I never gave up! I continued to workout in the house when they were present, jogged on the beach in front of them during vacations, and kept on with my quest to get them to engage in exercise ….. all to no avail!

FINALLY, when my youngest son was 13-years-old (the same age as I was when I began my health journey), I suddenly heard the rattling of weights and the motor of the treadmill emanating from the basement! YES, my son was working out!!

And, wow, was he ever working out! For a variety of reasons, he had decided to engage in workouts at a frenzied pace, almost too much of a frenzy in my view, as his type of frenzy often leads to burnout and quitting exercising. However, he had kept it up and now he is the epitome of physical health for a teenager! No more Twinkies (well, not too many!) for him! Now, he runs several miles and utilizes the weights every day.

For years I tried to get my kids involved in physical fitness as a part of their lifestyle and, for years, I failed miserably. But, then one magical day, it all changed and my son, realizing the benefits of working out, had adopted a healthy lifestyle of his very own!

So, while I decided to be the first in my family line to be healthy on purpose, my son has obviously decided to be #2. Hopefully, his son will be #3, and so on!

The lesson to be learned: Decide the values and habits that you want your kids to develop for their own good; teach them well; consistently model the desired behavior; and, who knows, they just might decide to adopt the desired values as their very own!

How about you? What values or behaviors do you want your kids to develop? Which goals have you set forth for your kids that have come to fruition? Write back and let me know!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mother's Day - THANK YOU!

Well, tomorrow is Mother’s Day, the day on which the second most telephone calls are made and the second most gifts are given in the year (Christmas is #1 every year)! So, what are 25 of the top one million things that a mother can do for her son (the son who will someday be a dad)? Well, here they are:

1) Make him feel loved, nurtured, and taken care of every single day

2) Be there when he is sick or upset and tend to his wounds

3) Make his favorite breakfast every day (with the understanding that his “favorite” will change on a routine basis)

4) Sacrifice her own needs and desires to make sure that her son’s needs and desires are met (without ever telling her son that she made sacrifices)

5) Having a complete homemade dinner ready every single night – other than the occasional pizza night

6) Ensuring that his clothes are clean for school every day

7) Completely washing, drying, and ironing his entire baseball uniform between games of a double header – in plenty of time to get him back to the field for the 2nd game

8) Shooting him a couple of extra bucks when he goes out on a date in high school even though the son never asked – she just knows

9) Somehow finding the funds – when funds are really tight – to purchase the professional drum set of his dreams – a drum set that he could then use to put himself through college, pay for gas and miscellaneous expenses, and even tuck away some cash for the future

10) Getting his drum set to the football field and unloading it by herself while her son practices with the high school band

11) Somehow finding the funds to send him to a jazz camp in Indiana, providing transportation to get him there, returning mid-week to deliver his own drums because he thought that he needed them, and then returning at week’s end to watch his concert, load the drums, and get him home

12) Making sure that he had a nice new suit for his first music gig

13) Never missing one of his endeavors, baseball, basketball, bowling, concerts, etc. - always there in the front row

14) Creating – from scratch – the perfect Santa Claus suit for his 2nd grade play

15) Being there to celebrate every single victory, both no-hitters, every hit and homerun, every basket, every strike, and every musical note and still be willing to listen to him re-tell the stories of his endeavors on their way home and at home

16) When her son grows up – watching her grandchildren while her son and wife go away for the weekend – many times

17) Allowing him to get a dog when she really didn’t want one – and then also falling in love with the dog – and nurturing the dog in his final days after her son marries and moves away

18) Always telling her son that she has high aspirations for him in life and reassuring him that he will succeed as long as he works hard

19) Making him a full breakfast at 3:00 a.m. when her son gets home from a gig and is starving

20) Cooking complete dinners and delivering them to his home after he gets married, so that he and his wife will not have to cook late at night after returning home from work and night college classes

21) Always sensing when her son is under stress or duress and encouraging him to slow down and take a deep breath

22) Being supportive with her grandchildren – her son’s children – even when she might wish to give them a kick in the pants

23) Befriending her son’s wife through the years even though they did not always see eye-to-eye at the beginning stages of their relationship

24) Falling in love with her son’s new dog and becoming inseparable with the dog when they are together

25) When facing testing for her upcoming cancer surgery – telling her son to go to work and not worry .. she’ll take a cab to the hospital

O.K., with all of that unselfish motherly love bestowed upon a son, you might think that the young man might become spoiled!! Well, ..... I don’t know ..... do you think that I’m spoiled????

That’s right! Those 25 items describe my own mom, but they only scratch the surface!

To the best mother in the world – THANK YOU, MOM! If my kids someday consider me to be as great a parent as you – my life's mission will be completed. Thank you for the lessons on being a great parent!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Get Down Or I'm Outta Here!

Do your kids ever worry about you? Do they ever think that you might do something on the dangerous side that could lead to your demise? Do they keep an eye out for you to be sure that you’ll live forever? The answers, of course, are YES, YES, and YES!!

Your kids are always concerned that you might disappear someday. After all, it happens in our society all of the time, sometimes through divorce, separation, and even the death of a parent. Your kids want you to live forever and to never leave them alone in what can be a cold and cruel world to a parentless child.

I had the opportunity to experience the deep level of concern that a child has with regard to the possibility of losing a parent.

A few years ago, I decided to engage in the annual spring ritual of climbing on a 20-foot ladder, precariously leaning against the house, to clean out the gutters. I coaxed my oldest son to help (he was 13-years-old at the time).

While I made the laborious climb to the top of the ladder to rid the gutters of the winter’s deposits, my son’s job was to pick up the debris after I tossed it to the ground. With the ladder in place, the lawn debris bags ready to go, and my son and I fully prepared for the task at hand, we were ready to go ….. or at least I thought that we were ready to go!

As I started to climb the ladder, my son asked my how high I had planned to go. At first, I thought that he was joking. When I realized that he was serious, I told him that I would need to climb to the top, so that I could reach the gutters. He expressed concern that it was too high and perhaps we should save the task for another day.

Assuming that he was merely attempting to disengage from an assigned chore (a daily ritual for most 13-year-olds!!), I told him that it would be no problem climbing to the top. I further reminded him to get ready to collect the debris.

As I got to about the 3rd step of the 20-step ladder, my son asked me to come back down for a moment. With exasperation setting in, I climbed back down. He told me that his friends’ dads hire a company to clean their gutters. He thought that it might be a good idea for us to do this, as well. I told him that it was silly to pay somebody else money to complete a task that the two of us could easily do.

Still not catching on to his true concern, I started to climb the ladder again. As I reached the 5th step this time, he asked if he could go into the house for a glass of water. I told him to hurry, as the first load of debris would soon be crashing to the ground. My son disappeared and he didn’t return. I climbed to the top and emptied the first gutter area. Before I moved the ladder to the next position, I went into the house to retrieve my son.

When I found my son upstairs in his room, he asked me if I could get his sister or younger brother to help me, as he was feeling ill. Getting more than a tad ticked off at his behavior, I instructed him to immediately get outside to help me.

We went outside and I again started the long climb up the ladder. He again suggested that I might want to consider hiring a company for this task ...... and then it hit me ...... my son wasn’t trying to get out of work - he was trying to save his dad from potential serious harm! I made the conscious decision to go more slowly up the ladder, so that his confidence could increase in my abilities to complete the task without getting hurt.

After I passed the 10th step, he asked if I had really planned to go to the top. When I answered in the affirmative, he said that he could no longer watch and that he was going to go into the house. With that, he quickly vanished and there it was … the truth was out in the open!

I climbed down the ladder (this task was beginning to take much longer than I had anticipated!) and went into the house. I asked my son if he was concerned about my safety. He told me that he was definitely concerned that I might fall off of the ladder, the ladder might fall, etc., and that I would get seriously injured or perhaps even get killed. He was afraid that, because of some “stupid” leaves, his dad might disappear forever.

Yes, I am always concerned when I climb a ladder that is 20-feet high. Yes, I always take care and caution when engaging in such tasks, so that I greatly minimize the chances for injury.

BUT, my son did not see it that way: He saw his dad putting his life at-risk for some “stupid” leaves and he was afraid that his life would have to proceed without his favorite father! I assured him that I would NEVER intentionally put myself in a position that could cause harm and that, if I thought for a moment that danger lurked with the ladder at any particular point, the task would end for the day.

He was reassured, but he still wanted to not have to watch me climb the ladder, so we made a deal. He could stay inside while I emptied the gutters. When I completed my task, he would come back outside and place all of the debris in to the lawn bags ….. it’s a procedure that we still use to this day!

Yes, it’s nice to know that your kids don’t want you to kick the bucket. It’s also important to remember that it is something that is always on their minds!

BE CAREFUL and take care of your kids!

Paul W. Reeves