Tag Archives: parenting

intro of an essay Irvine

There is nothing more exciting in parenthood than cheering on your kids in the things they do — sports, music, dance, etc. — and seeing them have fun.

Through the years I have worn many hats from Soccer Dad, Baseball Dad, Swim Dad, Cheer Dad, Marching Band Dad, Gymnastics Dad…the list goes on.

Of course you also show support by participating and helping out the teams and organizations.

I have painted soccer field lines, timed swimmers, worked concession stands, provided video of marching band performances, washed many cars in fundraisers and produced end-of-season cheer team and gymnastic videos.

All my kids started with soccer, and I cheered them on when they were kindergarten age.

At that age, it is more like mob ball, with the majority of the kids chasing the ball with no regard to positions and passing.

It’s all fun and gets the kids moving around.

Of course there were always some kids who would rather pick through the grass or stare at the clouds.

My youngest daughter during a soccer practice drill got bored and started doing cartwheels at the back of the line. Soon a bunch of the other kids wanted to try and then she was holding a cartwheel clinic  much to the chagrin of the coaches.

During my son’s first soccer season, his team of 4-to-5-year-olds faced a skilled team that proceeded to run the score up to embarrassing levels as the opposing coach kept playing his best players and taking advantage of our team’s inexperience.

I went home that day with no voice, as I and my fellow team parents turned up the volume in cheering and shouting for our team and giving the other coaches an earful of how unsportsmanlike they were.

I am surprised we were not banned from future games.

Baseball brought new challenges to cheering for your kid especially when you have younger siblings to take care of at the game. I love baseball but it can be very boring, especially for my son’s sisters. While trying to watch and cheer for my son, we also had to keep the girls busy with snacks and activities.

I had never experienced cheerleading before and competition cheer meets were mind-blowing.

Just imagine a packed gymnasium of crazy passionate cheer teams and their families and friends cheering them on.

The enthusiasm and fervor of these kids was amazing and infectious. I was immediately hooked and I became a Cheer Dad Extraordinaire.

I wore my team shirt, shouted and cheered along and was
team videographer.

The stunts and choreography of all the teams was incredible. I have total respect for these kids and coaches. My daughter’s high school varsity team went on to win a national championship.

If cheerleading competitions were loud, swim meets were deafening! The cheering and shouting in the confines of an indoor swimming pool were crazy.

These meets were a true challenge.

The larger ones usually lasted for hours — sometimes all day — and you typically got to see your kid in the water for seconds to minutes, depending on how many events they were in.

When my son wasn’t wearing swim trunks, he was wearing a marching band uniform and playing drums.

It’s amazing how talented these kids are. I loved seeing them perform at the different stadiums, especially Met Life stadium, home of the Giants and Jets.

Gymnastics is my latest sport and two of my daughters have competed over the years. We have been able to travel to tournaments near and far, including a recent one at Disney World.

There is some real camaraderie among the parents as we cheer the team on at each meet, wear the team apparel and colors.

I continue to shoot video and have run the audio at some of the home meets and been the DJ and presented the end-of-season slide show.

I even got to meet Olympic gold medalist Laurie Hernandez when she visited the gym for a fundraiser.

Rich with Laurie Hernandez, gymnastics Olympic gold medalist and Dancing with the Stars winner.

I was humbled when they presented me with the team parent volunteer of the year last season.

It was totally unexpected.

I do all this for my kids and the rest of the team or group they belong to.

Time goes by too fast to miss any of it, and I am so glad I am able to be involved in whatever way I can.

 

Despite Their Flaws, Fathers Still Find Success

A funny thing happened on my way to Father’s Day 2017.

I became a grandfather thanks to my stepson and his wife.

The thing about becoming a grandfather is that it brings you sharply back to when you were a first-time parent.

That moment is filled with an overpowering brew of emotions, among them anticipation, hope, fear and pride.

I recall well holding my first son 24 years ago, bringing him to the window of the hospital suite and telling him about the trees and the clouds in the sky.

But from the moment you take your newborn in your arms, you are destined to screw things up.

You’re human, so you’re fallible and flawed. That your parenting will be less than perfect is inevitable.

But here’s the thing: No one tells you that as you begin your journey as a dad.

You start out in a state of high expectations.

You think you are going to be the embodiment of all the best TV  fathers — some combination of Andy Taylor (“The Andy Griffith Show”), Ward Cleaver (“Father Knows Best”) and Howard Cunningham (“Happy Days”).

And then expectations meet reality: As a parent, you can feel sapped of time, energy and money, which can bring on guilt, doubts and feelings of inadequacy.

Am I doing a good job? Do I spend enough time with my kids? Are they socially engaged with others? Do I do enough to stimulate their curiosity? Am I setting a good example?

This is especially reinforced when you start comparing yourself to other dads.

“Well look at him,” you think. “He’s a soccer coach and Boy Scout volunteer and he takes his son camping and and and…”

It becomes a vicious cycle: The more doubtful or guilty you feel, the greater the sense of inadequacy. And so it goes to the point where you feel farther and farther away from the parenting utopia you think you should reach.

I can’t speak for all dads, but I know to this day I harbor so many wouldas, shouldas, couldas about raising my sons.

I look back and think I should have given more of my time but I either was too busy with work, not getting enough sleep or feeling the strain of my first marriage disintegrating.

So, like with everything else in life, you do the best you can. You fall down, get up and put one foot in front of the other.

And do you make mistakes – some of them awful and regretful? Yes. Yes you do.

But here’s the thing, despite your shortcomings and through some combination of grace, luck and gargantuan support from family (in my case, my second wife), things turn out well.

My “boys,” who just turned 24 and 19, are well regarded by others and valued at their jobs. They’re funny and caring and hard-working.

Sure, they have hang-ups and flaws — would it kill them to take out the garbage? — but they have grown into impressive young men.

So on this Father’s Day, hats off to dads everywhere.

You might not be perfect but if you’ve worked hard and tried your best, chances are the kids are all right.

Related content:

The World According to My Dad

On Father’s Day, Recalling a Son Growing Up

A Father’s Day Poem

Father’s Day Roundtable

As fathers, we hardly lead the lives of television characters such as “Father Knows Best,” “Leave It to Beaver,” or “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.”

Unlike television characters, our parenting efforts lack a script.

We make it up as we go along, drawing on what experiences we recall from our parents.

The results are far from flawless.

We stumble and fall. Pick ourselves up and stumble again.

In the beginning of fatherhood, it’s comparatively easy because you are a towering figure of authority in their lives.

You can pretty much do no wrong.

And then they become teenagers and you suddenly have become an asshole.

In this episode of About Men Radio, the four members of the AMR posse who are dads take inventory of how we’ve done/are doing as fathers.

Have we broken our children? Have we crushed their dreams because we took away their iPads for an hour? How do we rate ourselves as dads on a scale of 1 to 10?

As usual, the discussion is brutally honest and funny. Give it a listen and happy Father’s Day!

Spare the Rod, Spare the Child

In our latest podcast of About Men Radio, AMR posse members Richard Rodriguez, Pedro Rosado and Christopher Mele discuss discipline.

No, wait. Not discipline in a BDSM kind of way. Though, of course, there’s nothing WRONG with that. Just sayin’… (By the way, Rich, you left your whips and gimp mask at my house.)

The discipline we’re discussing is the kind we were subjected to as kids growing up at home and at school. Some of that has been discussed in previous blog posts by me and by guest blogger John Roche, who shared his experiences as a student at a Catholic high school in the Bronx.

In this show, we revisit those bygone days when Pedro and his older brother would be told by their 4-foot-tall grandmother to stoop down so she could smack them in the head.

Or listen to stories of one of Rich’s older brothers getting a whuppin’ with a bamboo stick by their mom.

(Rich, for the record, professes to have been such a goody-goody that he was not subjected to such punishment, but does say that his mother merely raising her voice was enough to make him tremble and toe the line.)

As for me? Well, let’s say I was a smart-alecky, moody kid who met the business end of a spatula or a belt. Once or twice. OK, maybe more…

“This is going to hurt me more than it’s going to hurt you,” the saying goes. Really? I’m pretty sure I’m the one walking (barely) around with a sore behind.

We also address what kind of discipline we have meted out as parents. Can there be too much of the “tough” in tough love? Do we regret some of the steps we’ve taken in the name of enforcing order? And what triggers us as fathers to engage in such behavior?

On a less serious note, for the first time ever, we provide a (way too-belated) parental advisory about our content and use of bad language on the show.

This advisory leads to a diatribe by Pedro that, in turn, leads to me hyperventilating from laughing so hard. Seriously, I’m pretty sure I passed out at some point.

So put on your headphones, get a paper bag to breathe into and press play.

Enjoy!

AMR 03: Shadows of Our Dads

It comes as a slap in the face to most men. You wake up one morning, stumble out of bed, make your way to the bathroom and come face to face with your father staring back at you in the mirror.

In this episode the About Men Posse discuss the inevitably of becoming your dad.  You find yourself assuming the same routines he did or maybe parroting lines he used on you when you were a kid. Do you embrace it or do your best to fight the transformation?