Saturday, February 28, 2009

Major Milestone

Child One learned how to ride a bike today. We had tried last year and she and I had had some epic battles on the local playground. I think that neither of us was ready. We put the training wheels back on her bike and she puttered around the neighborhood all summer and fall, perfectly content. Perfectly content that is until she realized, in early fall, that she could not keep up with the other kids who had all learned to ride two wheelers that spring and summer.

This winter we've been talking about getting out and learning so she could buzz around this spring and afterward. Today was a beautiful day, crystal clear but blustery and cold and we headed to the playground to give it a try. Within 20 minutes of trying, and one break to goof around on the jungle gym and swings she'd mastered it. The whole family was there and it was a great moment. She was beaming and proud and a bit amazed that she'd figured it out. I was totally psyched for her, and little bit for me -- I'd completed one of the mandatory tasks of fatherhood and taught a child to ride a bike.

It was interesting to watch her buzz around and see how far and fast she could get away from me. Learning to ride a bike is a major milestone, truly one of the instances when you realize as a parent, in a very concrete way, that your children are free in the world and will explore much of it without you. We teach them to explore this world. We teach them to ride a bike. We give them the tools they need to go out on their own. Amazing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Hawk In The Bed

If you were hoping for a naughty post, forget about it.

I was sting in my living room this morning reading the paper and drinking some coffee when something flashed outside the window, just in my peripheral vision. It was large and brown and for a moment I thought it might be a large bird, possibly a raptor, but tossed that though out -- why would a large bird be in my front bed? A few minutes went by and I was goo-gooing and ga-gaing with Child Three when I heard this funny, high pitched noise, outside the house, in the front bed.

I looked out the window, and saw a hawk, sitting amongst the rhododendrons, with its wings somewhat down and out. I ran upstairs to get the other kids and Mrs. Agricola and managed to show Child One the hawk before he took off across the street. I have no idea what he was doing in the bed. The wings down and out were definitely some sort of display, but he was all alone. Whatever it was it was cool, and I've seen this hawk before, or at least the same kind (I'm having trouble identifying it), so it is definitely a neighbor. I hope to see it again soon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Contraption

This evening, my kids built The Contraption. Comprised of paper towel tubes, a broken down tea bag box and an industrial thread spool (I have no idea where that came from!). They ran a little soccer ball eraser through it and had tons of fun.

Why we buy toys for the kids I'm not sure, because left to their own devices they come up with incredible things like The Contraption and it entertains them for hours. The Contraption is still set up in their room, and they will be playing with it come 6 AM. Now this post is not completely about The Contraption, though it does provide entree to talk about a post I read on Catskill Cottage Seed about intuition. Written by my Twitter-friend Richard Reeve it asked the following question:

The question this raises for me: does our education system beat out of us our ability to play? “Stop the day dreaming and do your workbook!” Perhaps it’s wrong to think that daydreaming is nothing but an escape. It’s a disservice to our capability to squash one of the four psychological functions.
I commented there, and believe this, because I see it in my town and neighborhood that the beating begins before kids hit the schools. Kids are running to this class and that class then to this play-date to that one then to this party and then to that party. They have zero unstructured time. Perhaps it's our lack of parenting chops, but our kids, while in some classes, sometimes, have lots of time to play in the mud and muck around in the backyard hunting for rocks and sticks, build forts, play in the sandbox and build The Contraption in their room. We let them be kids. We let them play. We let them explore. We try to stay out of their hair (this a two way street, to be honest). It's a joy to watch and I think they'll be better served in the long run.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Democrats & Taxes

"Make no mistake, tax cheaters cheat us all, and the IRS should enforce our laws to the letter." --then-Sen. Tom Daschle on 7 May 1998

Somehow, I don't think Tom Daschle (nor Timthy Geithner, nor Nancy Killefer) will be pursued to the fullest extent of the law. His erstwhile buddies in the senate were tripping over themselves to tell us what an honest, good and noble character he is. It's sickening as a private citizen to watch these shenanigans unfold. I know that if I owed that much money, or even a small percentage of Daschle's default, that the IRS would put a lien on my house, garnish my wages and possibly even put me in jail. There are truly two systems in this country and it has nothing to do with race. There are those of us with no connections and no suction in DC and then there are those folks who toil(ed) in the hypocritical and increasingly amoral cesspool that is our national capital.

Increasingly I get the feeling that we live in an oligarchy and it makes me nauseous. Our elected officials treat us like little kids, too stupid to come in from the rain and in need of perpetual care. Towards this end our activities, behaviors and desires must all be proscribed. The Oligarchs however get to do what they want, when they want, how they want and erstwhile or not they are defended by their peers.

The whole Daschle debacle reminds of something I used to hear while living in Brooklyn. There was a construct that started "Oh, he's a good guy, but . . ." But, he killed Frankie's uncle, or cheats on his wife, or hits his kids. "Tome Daschle is a good guy but he cheats on his taxes while excoriating those of who want to try and keep as much of our own money as possible."