Lying to my Kids

I think every parent strives to be truthful and transparent with their children. At least that is what we say. Truth be told, any real parent delicately sprinkles in a healthy dose of lies to their children. It is kind of like trying to sneak vegetables into their food. Sometimes it is just easier. Below are some of the bold-faced lies I tell my kids.

Lie: Go ahead, Ben. Take the last piece of bacon. I would rather you have it.
Truth: I want that bacon. Sometimes when you are cleaning up every bit of food on the table and I walk away hungry, I wish you still ate out of jars. Wild animals have it down. The alpha gets all the bacon he wants and the cubs get what is left. I am still the alpha but I am stuck here watching you inhale all the bacon and acting like I am happy about it. Lies.

Lie: I really have no idea what happened to your Halloween/Easter/Christmas candy.
Truth: For years I actually told you that evaporation and erosion were the causes of your depleted candy caches. However, you are older and wiser now. You no longer buy that line. At least now, I can just blame it on your mother and you accept it.

Lie: Knock that garbage off or there will be no movie night or extra video game time.
Truth: Nothing short of murder is going to cancel those events. Those hours of electronic babysitting are probably more important to me than they are to you. If the digital respite gets cancelled, I bet that I would be shedding more tears than anyone else in the house. Cancellation of those events is more of a punishment to me than anyone else.

Lie: I was just taking a nap.

Lie: You’re right, this show is awesome!
Truth: Most of your shows are crap. You are older now, so getting to watch movies and shows that are actually cool (Avengers, Star Wars, etc) saves me. However, do you remember when I told you that “Walking with Dinosaurs” rocked? Remember how I said that the 17th viewing of the Curious George movie was just as good as the first? Doodlebops, Planes, Thomas, the Yogi Bear movie, and any DVD that came with a toy? Cinematic Lobotomies.

Lie: Mom and I will talk about it.
Truth: The answer is “No” and that is not going to change. I mean, mom and I will laugh about it later, but that is the extent of consideration this idea is going to get.

Lie: Just smile. I won’t put this on Facebook.
Truth: I am going to get sooooo many “likes” for this!

Lie: You are just going to have to trust that I know best.
Truth: I am an idiot. I am stumbling through this whole parenting thing like a frat boy at Mardi Gras. I have absolutely no clue what I am doing. Do I know what’s best? Probably not. Honestly, I am just trying to not mess you up to much.

Lie: I have no idea what those rabbits in the yard are doing.
Truth: Lucky rabbits. I know exactly what’s up. Hope you’re having fun while I am sitting in here watching Rugrats. Rabbits get Easter, Trix, Jessica Rabbit, front-yard follies, and a whole series of Loony Tunes adventures and I am cleaning up Cheerios.

Let us be honest. When it comes to our kids, most of us are pathological liars. Want a real truth?

Lie: Sometimes those lies bother me.
Truth: I’m totally cool with it.

26.2 Miles of Thoughts

I ran my third marathon this weekend. My goal was to finish in under 4 hours. Here are some random thoughts that occurred to me during my race.

4:10 AM – Stupid alarm. Stupid race. Stupid idea.

Standing at start line- My earbuds fell off my headphones! They are gone. My race starts in 2 minutes and the buds are gone. I jam the stubs that are left as deep into my ears as I can, realize the sound is going to suck, and just pray that they stay in. Wait! My phone will not synch to my headphones. 72 training runs and this has never been an issue. I desperately play with settings as the gun goes off and I approach the line. Thankfully, I get music literally seconds before my time starts. Hello Beasty Boys. It is a Sabotage.

Mile 3 – Spectator holding a sign that says, “Keep going. Today you finish a marathon.” I wonder if it is perhaps too early to think about the word “finish.”

Miles 5-6 – I have a history of pretty bad muscle cramps. I take the first of my electrolyte tabs and Gu to hopefully stave that off in about 15 miles. It has worked well in training.

Miles 7-8 – The Half-Marathon course hooks up with mine and I get to see the half-marathoners coming back on the other side of the road. So many thoughts. There are a lot of seriously in-shape people here and many are not wearing much. I decide that when my wife finally wises up and leaves me, this is where I will go to meet women. I then remember that I am a scrawny, 41-year-old unattractive bald, graying, insomniac father of two who works in public education with a job that offers 0% chance of upward mobility. Combine that with nerdy interests and a painful shyness masked by high levels of sarcasm and I realize that I should probably just focus my efforts into making sure my wife never realizes that she could do better. Problem solved. Those miles went fast. Where is the Porta Potty?

Mile 9 – There are two half-marathoners running it as a three-legged race! That’s nuts. Beyond the obvious, there is no way I ever wanted to spend 13 miles with my arm around anyone. That is going to get gross.

Mile 10 – Empty Porta Potty. I pull open the door and start to step in only to see a woman sitting there and screaming. I dash out, find the next one and wonder why she never locked the door. 40 seconds wasted. I run the next mile without my hat in hopes that if I run into her on the road, she may not recognize me.

Mile 13 – Half way and ahead of pace. I feel invincible and have little doubt that today is the day. It does not even bother me that some dude dressed as Captain America and carrying a shield is ahead of me.

Mile 14 – My phone continues to buzz with texts. This race offers online updates approximate every 5-6 miles to anyone who wants to track your progress online. I do not stop to read the texts, but I know that every buzz on my phone is a friend of mine somewhere checking my status and shooting me something encouraging. It makes me smile.

Mile 15 – I reach for my 3rd (out of a planned 4) electrolyte tab. With horror, I realize that they have all fallen out of my pocket at some point. I am 11 miles out, about 5 miles away from my traditional cramping distance and I have lost my tabs. The first moments of doubt creep in.

Mile 16 – I do not care if it costs time. I will go out of my way to high-five every little kid that is out there watching. If they are holding their hands out there, I will get to them. Just seems right.

Mile 17 – Still ahead of pace, but the first pre-cramp tingles are starting to shoot through my legs. I know I have about 4 miles left in me before I am in trouble. In hopes of preventing this, I start to walk the first 1/10th of each mile. Not sure if my tabs that are laying on the side of the road somewhere would have helped, but it is what it is. I take solace in the fact that maybe a raccoon out there will eat one of them and have a better day for it.

Mile 18 – I think it is cool that a lot of the residents have set up their own unofficial aid stations. Several of them have two tables set up. One table has Dixie cups filled with water. One table has Dixie cups filled with beer. It is amusing, but I am a little disturbed by the sight of 9-10 year old kids running to a keg to fill up those cups. I am equally disturbed that “Ice Ice Baby” apparently somehow got into my running playlist.

Mile 20 – Well ahead of pace. Should be good but I pretty much hate everything and everybody at this point. I especially hate the microscopic monkeys that have up residence in my legs are apparently playing my quad muscles like a harp. I smile at the “Don’t trust any fart after 20-miles” sign that a spectator is holding. The Ryan Gosling signs do nothing for me. My headphones die.

Mile 24 – Viscous cramps. I step off the road and try to stretch out my left leg. As soon as I do that everything from my calves, to hamstrings, to quads explode into cramps. I straighten up, step back onto my right leg which does the same thing. I start to stagger in a tiny little circle with each leg cramping uncontrollably every time I put weight on it. I look like a drunken line-dancer trying to grapevine. Finally, my left leg gives out and I fall. As I try to maintain some level of dignity while using a mailbox to pull myself up, I feel a little guilty about laughing at squirrels who try to climb bird-feeders. I get it now.

I also remember miles 7-8. “Hey girl. You with the smoking body, bun-huggers and sports bra. How about you come over here and help me try to shimmy up this mailbox? That’s right. I just brought sexy back.” I am a catch.

Mile 26 – 0.2 miles left. My wife is cheering for me at the end. I ask if I am going to break 4. She yells, “You gotta go!” and is frantically waving. I push it and round the final corner. The finish line clock reads 3 hours 46 minutes. I can not figure out how I got that time, figure my wife was messing with me, and am thrilled. All that work. All that time and I did it. I make sure to soak in the last 100 yards so I will not forget them.

Exit area – Spend 15 minutes rehydrating and laying on the ground. I can not believe I hit 3:46 and as my brain starts working again, I realize something is not adding up. My stomach drops as I realize that when I rounded the corner I saw the half-marathon clock and locked onto it. I never took my eyes off the wrong clock! I have no idea what time I finished in and as I try to get my watch back out I can not shake the feeling that I am one button push away from being devastated. I have enjoyed the last 15 minutes and have already texted my family and those were tracking me that I hit 3:46 and it was all a dehydrated mistake.

I hit the last button and my real time comes up. 3:59:11. Eighteen weeks of training. Five hundred training miles. Twenty six point two miles and I made it by 49 seconds. That is all I wanted to do.

Teacher Appreciation Week

I am a school psychologist. I was trained in behavior analysis, reading interventions, developmental psychology, therapy, statistics and so on. I crammed over 70 graduate credit hours into a few years immediately after completing my undergraduate degree. I was taught that I would be THE mental health expert in the public schools. I was told that I would be the expert in all academic and behavior difficulties that a student could encounter and a teacher could not handle. Frankly, I was trained to believe that I was smarter, better trained, better educated and more of an expert than teachers. After all, I have a bunch of letters after my name that can not be matched by anyone that spent four years working with posterboard and taking classes in bulletin board design.

I was taught wrong.

I can tell you the single moment I became a better school psychologist. It was when I was sitting in a classroom watching a teacher manage 25 students, teach a lesson, and try to implement some intricate plan I wrote. It was the moment that I realized that I would never want that responsibility. It was the moment that I realized that despite everything I had been taught, I could never be a teacher. Flat out, I do not have the skills.

Every single success that I have ever had with a student can be directly attributed to that student’s teacher. My most perfectly written plans or interventions are useless in the hands of someone that could not implement it. Someone like me. On the flip side, my weakest, most flimsy plans have been successful simply because I have had the fortune of working with amazing teachers who find a way to make things work. It is not because I am so smart or I took a ton of classes, it is because there is a talented, dedicated person who is devoted to children working with that student five days a week while I scoot off to another building to sit in meetings.

You have heard all the rhetoric. Teachers work tons of hours after school, they spend their own money, simply doing daycare for 25 kids/180 days week would make more money than a teacher’s salary, etc. Blah blah, but it is all true. Put aside all your beliefs and stereotypes of schools. Teachers only work nine months. They get paid no matter what the standardized test scores are. Teachers only want to teach certain kids. Kids that are different are booted out, labelled or disregarded. Even if you somehow actually believe that nonsense, ask yourself this. Could you do that job?

I have had to cover several classes for medical emergencies, sub shortage, teacher meetings, etc. and it terrifies me. At most, I have covered an hour and I walk out exhausted and grateful that nobody died. Try that for five days/week while teaching a curriculum that ranges from when the pilgrims landed to multiplication to explaining why an erection happens. And while you are at it, manage behavior and track peanut allergies. Forget it. One hour in a classroom and my goal is simply to make sure nothing burns.

For every horror story you can share about a teacher, I can line up about a hundred teachers who are dedicated, talented, caring professionals who bend over backwards for children. If you have a child in a school, please make sure to thank his or her teacher this week. If you do not have children, have children who are long past school-age, or just have no contact with educators, consider stopping by a building and saying thank-you to someone. Make no mistake about it, teachers have some of the earliest contact with the people who will be affecting our communities, economy, and you. They deserve your gratitude.

Thank you to teachers. I could never do your job and I am not too proud to admit that.