Tag Archives: Growing up

On Father’s Day, Recalling a Son Growing Up

Maybe it’s because I’ve been a newsman my entire adult life and I’m a chronicler of life events.

It might explain how I had the presence of mind to write down things my oldest son said and did as he was growing up that were cute, memorable or funny.

The first entry dates to when he was 3 ½ years old and continued until he was about 6 years old.

So for Father’s Day, indulge this old man by letting him share with you a sample of memorable “Michaelisms.”

Happy Father’s Day!


December 1996: Michael soaked Daddy while taking a bath. Daddy was not amused and said:

“Michael, I’m not laughing.”

“But I am,” said Michael.


December 1996: Michael came home with a Jewish star he made in school. It was hanging on the Christmas tree when Daddy got home from work.

“Oh,” said Daddy, “you made a Star of David.”

“No Daddy, it’s mine,” said Michael.


January 1997: Michael for breakfast has taken to eating chocolate-covered granola bars. He calls them “gorilla bars.”


January 1997: Michael and Daddy are heading into school. Daddy greets another parent good morning in the lobby. Michael turns to Daddy and says: “You can’t talk to strangers like that.”


Summer 1997: Michael says that heaven is in Disney World.


November 1997: Michael refers to nostrils as “smeller holes.” And told to put away his toys, he announced: “Let’s take a vote!”


January 1998: Michael goes to Daddy’s doctor with Daddy because Daddy is sick. Michael wants to know if grown-ups are good at the doctor’s, do they get stickers?


January 1998:  Michael tells Daddy that he has had the same dream two nights in a row. But forgetful Daddy cannot recall what Michael had told him. (Michael had described the dream in Technicolor detail the day before but Daddy did not retain it.)

Michael says: “Daddy, your brain works slow. My brain works fast.”

He then put his hand to his forehead and then put the same hand to Daddy’s head.

With that gesture, Michael says: “Here, Dad, have some of my fast brains.”


July 1998: Michaels asks who Dino is. Dino? What do you mean? Michael says: “You know – someone’s in the kitchen with Dino…”


October 1998: Michael tells his babysitter that he watched the Fourth of July fireworks (“America’s birthday”) on TV because he couldn’t look out his window to see America because it was too far away.


August 1999: Michael spots the club Daddy keeps under the bed in case of intruders. Michael wants to know what it’s for.

Daddy tells him if there is anyone who comes to the house who doesn’t belong there, Daddy will greet them with this.

Wisely, Michael asks: “Why would you greet them if they don’t belong here?!”


June 2015: Michael turns 22, and, having just graduated from college, is about to begin his professional career at a job eight hours and five states away from home.

Daddy will miss him.

mike grad


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From Boys to Men

On my cellphone, under contacts, is a listing labeled “boys.”

The contact is an artifact of 10 years ago when my sons got a cellphone for emergencies. It was a flip phone that they shared since they both went to the same school.

Then they were ages 12 and 7.


Today, of course, they are each outfitted with their own smartphones, in which they tweet, text, Facebook, Skype and engage in all manner of communications.

I have kept the entry “boys” as my contact for my oldest son even though it is hopelessly out of date.

He is no longer a boy but a young man on the cusp of graduating college and embarking on a career and life that will involve less and less of me and my wife.

Up to about five years ago, I felt that time was accelerating like a sled going down a steep hill but that time for my sons was moving at a languid pace.

Now, the pages in the chapters of their lives are flipping forward furiously like what you see in the opening credits of “Masterpiece Theater.” And the pace of my life suddenly feels like a leisurely thumbing through the pages of the newspaper.

In the second to last episode of this season’s “Downton Abbey,” Mary, the oldest daughter, remarks on the sweeping  changes taking place in the household.

Though Mary was commenting on a fictional setting, she might well have been talking about real life.

In the early years, your role as a dad is defined around the waking hours of your kids: Breakfast, school, after school, dinner, bedtime, leisure time, weekend trips, time spent visiting with family, etc.

And then, one day, you discover that managing those activities has been taken away from you. Your kids have become self-actualized.

For me, the change is marked by the morning ritual of getting them to the school bus stop.

Ten years ago, when we first moved to our house and a new school district, I stood and waited with them for the bus.

Then it became just bringing them to the stop, minus waiting for the bus.

Then it became them piling out of the car, saying so long to me and me driving off.

And now? The oldest is at college and the youngest, a high school junior, is driving himself to school — in his own car.

The transition from needed dad to dad as optional accessory has left me feeling bereft. In the vacuum that has been created, what’s next?

That uncertainty is scary because now I have more time (and psychic space) to find out more about myself and who I am supposed to be in this next phase of my life.

My wife described it as parenting as planned obsolescence.

If you do your job right, you are no longer strictly defined as being a dad, although, of course, you still hold that title no matter how old your kids get. It’s just that how the role is defined is dramatically different.

Perhaps in recognition of this, the first thing I should do is change the entry on my phone contacts from “boys” to “men.”

This S*** Just Got Real

Under the heading of “Did that just happen?” comes this development:

Our youngest son (Dan, 16) aced his road test and got his driver’s license.

As a dad, I was aware that he was taking the road test but put it on my mental backburner in the hopes it might fall behind the stove.

Yeah. No such luck.

He nailed the road test on the first try.

Not only that, but he’s saved up enough money to buy a decent used car and is actively searching for one.

There’s a part of me that’s like: Wow! That’s great, Dan! We’re so proud of you. This is really a milestone achievement and a mark of your growing young adulthood and independence.

And there’s another part of me that’s going: Whoa! This shit just got real! Are you ker-azy?! You’re 16. And yes, legally you can drive, but is this really a good idea?

Well, that question got tested tonight when he asked (begged) if he could drive to the nearby McDonald’s to meet a friend for dinner.

It’s an 8-minute drive. For me, it might as well have been 800 miles.

Disclosure: Full, 1,000 percent credit goes to my wife Meg for taking Dan out practice driving in rain storms, in snow, when she was tired, etc. She instilled in him the confidence and experience he needed to do as well as he did.

Me? I was busy doing something that my nerves could better handle like clearing out wasps’ nest — while naked.

So yes, tonight Dan took his first solo drive. In the dark. To McDonald’s.

When I posted this development on Facebook, Super Dad aka About Men Radio contributor Richard Rodriguez, whose oldest has his own car, wrote from experience:

I wish I can skip this part of my kids growing up.

Thankfully, I took Dan’s first solo outing all in stride. As proof:

As I was making dinner, I put the microwave on for 2.5 minutes. And left the bowl of oatmeal that it was supposed to be cooking on the kitchen counter.

And at the same time, I turned on the Keurig to make coffee. And when it was done, I realized that I had l left the previous coffee pouch in the machine and forgot to install a new one, which meant I had a mug of pale brownish fluid.

No, not nervous at all. Why do you ask?

Meg and I talk all the time about parenting and how it’s all about giving our children roots and wings:

Roots so that they feel secure where they are planted, and wings to give them the independence they desire and need.

In the case of tonight, Dan’s short trip was a test flight – one of many more to come.