Tag Archives: Mistake

Will You Still Need Me, When You’re Thirty-Four?*

Letting go is easy.

Not grabbing them when they’re falling. . . that’s much, much harder.

Rearing children means that you’re responsible for not only their safety and well being at the very moment (and every moment), but that you’re supposed to be laying the groundwork for them to take control over their own lives and make good decisions on their own.Burning magnesium is really, really, really, really bright.

The first part of that last sentence is enough to drive just about anyone to the edge of sanity. The second part is what will take you, pick you up and hurl you like a caber so far over the line that even on a dark night you wouldn’t even be able to see it if it were etched in neon and burning magnesium.

Children are the living embodiment of the thought that everything has consequences. What you do with and to them now will have lasting ramifications in their later lives.

As parents, we want to make sure our little dudes and dudettes learn not only from their own experiences, but our experiences. That way, they won’t have to suffer like we did. That is the platonic ideal of parenting, but you know no teenager ever actually listens. Why would they? I mean, they already know everything already.**This is an example of a very stupid punishment. Firstly, twerking? That's what you're worried about? I'd think peer pressure would be enough to curtail that after a few tries. Secondly, if you think public shaming will teach her any lesson beyond "Don't get caught," you're crazy.

Which is why punishing kids ever more extravagantly as they grow older isn’t going to work all that well for you later on.

The most important lesson you can pass along to your little dudes is the instinct to, when they don’t actually know what to do or where to go, actually ask questions. Ask for help. And more, turn back to their parents for the first shot at offering said help.

Even now, I’ll use my dad as a sounding board before making certain decisions. I know he’s got my best interests at heart and has experienced a lot of what I’m already going through and he’s one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. And I say this long after the parent-worshiping phase has worn off.

It took a while, I will admit. I didn’t look to my parents as sources of help until some time after college. Before that, I was bound and determined to do it my way because I was the smartest man (I am a MAN!) in the room.

Fortunately, my parents didn’t start screaming at me when I made a bad decision or did something stupid as I was growing up. They offered advice, let me know what was expected and, for the most part, were calm but firm when I crossed the line.

The teenage years didn’t irreparably damage our relationship. Thankfully.

As the young dudes grow older and the consequences of their dumb decision-making become more significant, the urge to tighten our grip and tell them exactly what to do can become overwhelming. If you want to have any influence in your little dudette’s life as she grows older, you must let her make her own decisions.

That doesn’t mean you don’t set rules or allow her to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. However, once you’ve made clear your expectations and the consequences of not meeting said expectations, you have to simply drop into an advisory role and pick your battles with extreme care.

I’ve always felt that, as long as it’s not disturbing class, my young dudes could wear whatever they wanted, have whatever hair cut they wanted. If I thought they looked horrible . . . Well, my being horrified by their looks probably was a plus.Didn't we already do that? When they were 18? I'm almost positive they were supposed to move out at one point.

Provide options, help them understand probable scenarios from various actions, but don’t’ try to force your decisions on them.

It’s never easy watching as your darlings make a mistake, but it’s one of the necessary steps they have to take if they ever want to grow up and be independent.

After all, we all want to use that extra bedroom as a place for us, not as the room for your adult child who’s moved back in.

Footnotes & Errata

* Still apologizing to the Beatles, still not regretting using the allusion even one little bit.
** For the sarcasm-impaired among you, that was sarcasm. Teenagers don’t really know everything. They just think they do. This has been a friendly reminder from Mr. Obvious.

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Second Chances For First Impressions Rarely Go Well

What does it take for a dude to change his opinion of someone else?

By that, I mean, if you start out liking someone, getting a good vibe off of them, is it easy to readjust your thinking of that person to consider him to be a jerk?

Is it possible to go from thinking someone’s a jerk to thinking they’re an all-right dude?

Or will the lingering stigma of the first impression still hang around no matter how much she’s proved to be one and not the other?

I asked because I’m in the midst of such a reevaluation right about now. See, there’s this person, I’ll call him Ken and he’s somebody who provides me with a service.

No, not that kind of service. Sheesh, dudes. Get your minds up out of the gutter. I’m only being a bit obtuse because he might be reading this. And he might not even be a he. Or a she.

Moving on.

Anyway, I started out thinking Ken was a pretty all right dude, quick on his mental feet, friendly and a good guy to be around.

But then he went and mispronounced something. Badly. Repeatedly. And now I can’t help thinking he’s an idiot.

Now, before you get all up in arms about me being so very shallow and far too nitpicky, let me explain a bit.

See, I have what might charitably be called a huge vocabulary. I have a large working vocabulary, in that I can extemporaneously call up bit words, use them correctly and actually be able to define them. I have an even larger vocabulary of words that, once I hear or see them, I know what they are even if I couldn’t come up with them on my own.

Now, most of those words I learned through reading that I did on my own time. I didn’t have anyone there to talk to about the stuff I was reading, mostly because none of the kids my age were reading anywhere near what I was reading. Not that I’m trying to brag. I’m not.

Anyway, when I would run across a new word, I’d try to understand it by context and would then sound out the word. I’ve never been all that good at sentence diagramming and those pronunciation guides in dictionaries are gibberish to me. So I’ll find that I will be pronouncing a word one way for years, but realize that I’ve been doing it wrong and never knew it.

With that said, I understand that people can mispronounce words all that time and that doesn’t mean they’re an idiot. But it’s the caliber of the word here that’s causing me difficulties.

See, the word Ken mispronounced was calves. You know, the muscles on the back of your leg, between the knee and the heel. Yeah, those calves.

Ken pronounced that word as kal-vz. That is, the hard k sound, short a and hard l sound, followed by a blend of the v and z sound. In reality, the words is pronounced kavz, with the l sound completely silent.

This wasn’t a one-time thing as he repeated the mistake several times over the course of an hour or so.

I know it’s relatively minor, but I just can’t let it go. Calves is such a basic word and I find my second impression fighting with my first impression.

Oddly enough, in the opposite of what usually happens, I think my second impression (the reevaluation) is winning out over the first impression.

Now that I’ve opened myself up for ridicule, what do you dudes say? Can the second impression win out over the first and, in this case, should it?

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Clothes Make The Dude

It doesn’t matter how many shirts, shorts or lovely outfits your little dude or dudette has. They will end up wearing the same eight things over and over and over again from the time they’re old enough to pick out their own clothes, to the time they begin getting interested in the attractive gender.

This, as both Barry and I have found, seems to be an iron-clad, no-mistake rule for both dudes and dudettes. I’m seeing it most often in Hyper Lad. It’s become so bad, I’ve resorted to stealing his shirts on laundry day.

It’s not all that bad. I do it with love.

By which I mean that I’d love to see the little dude actually wear something different some day. He wore, literally, the same eight shirts again and again and again. Finally, I’d had enough. Instead of moving his washed and folded shirts into his closet, I simply stuck them in a cabinet no one uses.

He never even noticed. Never asked where the other shirts were. Nothing.

He simply went ahead and started wearing some different shirts.

Fantastic, I thought. I’d won and hardly had to fight.

And then I noticed that he was wearing the same eight — new — shirts over and over and over. I stood it for as long as I could before the Laundry Day Shirt Bandit struck again.

Eventually, even Hyper Lad noticed he was missing 16 shirts. He said, I think I need to get some new shirts. To which, I silently pointed to his closet, which still had a lot of shirts hanging there.

“But I don’t like those.”

Of course.

Barry had it a little different. He decided it was no longer worth it to keep putting the clothing away. He and his Blushing Bride have decided to now give each kid simply a laundry basket for the clean clothes.

This, Barry reports, is their main go-to pile for clean underwear, socks, t-shirts and the like. The rest is stored in their dressers or closets. The little dudes and dudettes keep using the clothing in the hamper until it’s all gone. At which point, they take the dirty laundry to the laundry room and wash it all again.

Even better, Barry said, when civilized company comes over, they can simply pick up the hamper and hide it, so it doesn’t look like they’ve been invaded by little creatures from outer space that think the floor is dangerous and must be covered by a thick covering of clothing at all times.

Which, if it were true, certainly would explain a lot.

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