This is a given: All parents believe their kids are geniuses. If not in academics, then in athletics or art or music or social skills. We can’t help it; it’s part of our DNA.
But my 16-year-old son Cole? Smart. Really smart. Not off the charts Stephen Hawking smart, but…. he’s got gray matter to spare, even if he does his utmost to hide that fact from his teachers and classmates. (He gets it from his mother.)
And that has been an enormous problem for us, his doting parents. We discovered early on that Cole’s brain moves much too quickly for our public education system; he learned that whatever was going on inside his head was far more interesting than what was going on inside the classroom. This has been the bane of our existence ever since. I won’t go into our excruciating battles with his teachers or trying to persuade him to adopt alternative educational methods, since traditional high school is utterly boring and pointless. (My lovely wife does an excellent job of that here.)
We tried to tell him high school would suck. We made him watch Freaks and Geeks and every John Hughes movie ever made. But did he listen? No. He wants to be normal. Like that’s any great prize.
Long story short: Despite having a keen mind for mathematics, he is floundering in calculus. Endless sessions with Saul Kahn at the Kahn Academy were helping, but not enough. So we decided it was time for a tutor.
The cry came from the pit of agony and despair, also sometimes known as our daughter’s bedroom.
“Mom! What’s the Internet password?”
As usual it was less of a question and more of an accusation. Our 13-year-old, as angry as only a hormone-charged teen girl can be, discovered we had once again changed the pass code for the WiFi router. She stormed into the kitchen where we were sitting and glared at us.
When I’m out in the wilderness (more than 50 feet from home) these rugged Talkabouts keep me in touch with my fellow adventurers (beer buddies). Drop these waterproof walkies in the swirling rapids (the shallow end of the pool) and they float. The MS350R’s weather band radio alerts me if storms are brewing (the game’s rained out), while its flashlight helps guide me through the blackest woods (find my keys in the dark). I may be like Homer Simpson in real life, but with these in my hands I feel like Bear Grylls. $100, motorola.com
Like discussing the birds & the bees or explaining the infield fly rule, having the Facebook Talk is now one of parenting’s essential rites of passage. Your kids need to know the rules of the social media road and, more importantly, you need to know the rules – what you are and aren’t allowed to do in front of their 900 million closest friends.
These rules will vary depending on your kids’ ages and personalities, so you’ll probably need to have this talk at least once a year. But here are five things you definitely should not do.
Becoming a father is a lot like joining a 12-step group. The first step is to accept that you are powerless over your children and that you must put your fate into the hands of a higher power (and by higher power I mean of course their mom).
Despite clear advantages in size, strength, intellect, and moral tenacity (all of which have evaporated over time as my children have grown), there isn’t really all that much you can do to control your kids’ behavior, ultimately. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t make being a parent any easier.
My daughter Ava is no girly girl. Sure, there was a period where each of the 433 stuffed animals in her possession was named Cinderella (around age 4). There was the phase where every piece of clothing in her closet was pink or purple (age 8). At age 11, though, she wore temporary tattoos featuring the kanji characters for Warrior Princess. And when she’s mad, she delivers a straight overhand right Mike Tyson could appreciate.
But Ava’s no tomboy either. She will happily rifle her mother’s vanity and steal her most expensive cosmetics. And she never leaves the house without Nigel, a pocket-sized, formerly-white polar bear turned gray with time and affection.
That’s my 16-year-old son swerving that car through those pylons in that blurry cell phone video. No, he was not joyriding. He was learning how to become a safer driver – and having a bit of fun while doing it.
Seated next to him was Jeff Fuller, a professional NASCAR driver who volunteers his time for B.R.A.K.E.S, which stands for Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe.
Just launched this new blog (my 347th in a series) so things are still a bit untidy here. Sorry about that. Please try not to trip over anything lethal or alive.
I am still feeling my way through what this will be, though I suspect it will end up as a repository for all the stuff I feel like writing about that doesn’t quite fit into the other 346 blogs. And I’m hoping to find a better design template than the one I have now. (Suggestions welcome.)
Not to worry, eventually it will all get cleaned up — if the Mayan Apocalypse doesn’t strike before then. Either way, problem solved.