Hourglasses

2015. Wow, what a year. Lots of highs, way too many lows, and our first full year over 2,000 miles away from family, friends, and everything we used to know. All while trying to learn this whole parenting thing? Yeah, let’s just say it wasn’t the best of years for me. But, I did learn quite a lot. Here’s my year in review – 10 things I learned about parenting and about myself:

1) Co-sleeping is still awesome. Even though my son has gotten much bigger (91st percentile height at age 2), I still really do like having him in the bed and falling asleep next to me, no matter how long it takes. I know he won’t be this small forever so I’m cherishing as much of it as I can.

2) Toddlers are ridiculously cool. Or at least mine is. Language. Curiosity. Motor skills. Emotions. Music. Rough-housing. Cuddles. Hugs. Kisses. High fives. Fist bumps. Every single bit of it is cool. Since he’s experiencing it for the first time, so am I. On the flip side….

3) I am not the infinite well of patience I need to be. Every day my patience limit is tested. None of it is his fault; he’s only 2 years old after all. Patience is a humbling lesson to learn, coupled most of the time with healthy doses of regret and edible crow. Pro Tip: There’s always a reason for a child’s behavior; things don’t happen “just because”. It’s my job as a parent to figure it out, and at that part of the job I’m usually pretty bad.

4) I severely underestimated the importance of our existing support network and the challenge of establishing a new one. Moving out here has been hard. Really, really, really hard. If I had to do it all over again I’m not sure I would. Hindsight is a motherfucker.

5) Proper lifting techniques and ergonomics are paramount. He’s over 3(!) feet tall and 30(!) pounds now. The repetitive lifts, twists, bends, etc. can wreak havoc on my body. I’ve got an elbow, a toe, 2 fingers, and a shoulder out of whack. Always lift with your legs and use your core.

6) Baby talk is for the birds. I’ve never, ever used baby talk around him, mostly because I suck at it and feel stupid and awkward. Turns out he’s an advanced human even at his age and deserves to be treated like one. I think this has helped both of us figure out our communication styles and advanced his language skills. Also, here’s a good article on why that’s important when he’s learning about his body. Bonus.

7) Cloth diapering still kicks ass. I take it for granted on a day-to-day basis, but the ease of use and financial savings have made our initial investment pay off huge dividends in the last 2+ years. And there’s been zero effect on our water bill from the additional laundry. That said, I’m immensely grateful our washer and dryer have held up to near-daily use. We lost use of our washer for about 24 hours while I fixed a drain blockage and we almost reached DEFCON5 panic level. Again, investments up front are key. If you’re having a baby, look into cloth diapers (or ask me!) and ask for them as baby shower gifts. You absolutely will not regret it.

8) He can travel like a boss. 10-hour car rides? No problem. 5-hour flights at the crack of dawn? Piece of cake. 7 errands in 2 hours with constant strapping in and out of the car seat? Bring it on. The kid’s a better traveler than most toddlers I’ve seen and in some ways a better traveler than I am. I can only hope he carries that adaptability and resilience forward with everything in his life. Pro Tip: If you’re flying with a car seat drop some cash on one of these. It’s a game-changer, seriously.

9) I failed at preparing to be a father. My wife read the books and did the research. She tried so hard to get me to read them as well. I prioritized other things, read what I thought was necessary, and figured I could learn the rest on the job. After all, 90% of the advice in the books goes out the window when you get to practical application, right? Yeah, no. Fuck no. Of course going completely by the book is impossible, but having the same knowledge base is critical so both parents can be aligned and feel like they’re working as a team. I absolutely failed here and instead I’m playing catch-up and making mistakes that could have easily been prevented if I had done my work up front. In lots of ways my wife has to be a parent to both our son and me. I’m not out for sympathy here; use my failure as a cautionary tale for future parents. This is one of the very few things in my life I truly regret and wish I could take back.

10) He’s growing up too fast and that makes me sad. For his birthday he got a patchwork space-themed backpack and some books. Dressed in his cargo shorts and flannel button-down shirt he tried the backpack on and loved it. He doesn’t look 2 years old, he looks like he’s 6 and ready to blast off to school. No, no, no. Stay little for awhile longer, where the hugs are pure, the bond is strong, there are no obligations, and the moments can live on. I’m not ready to let go.

So here’s Auf Wiedersehen to 2015 as I look forward to the next year with open eyes and a hopeful heart. Best of luck everyone; we’re gonna need it.

Understudies and Walk-Ons

He wasn’t supposed to be a main character. He was supposed to show up as a “special edition” figure, festive and well-timed for the Thanksgiving holiday season. Yet here he was, Gobby the Turkey, now front and center of every story I tell my son before he drifts off to sleep.

To help my son relax at night we’d been singing songs together, but somehow one night that wasn’t working so I decided to tell him a story. Completely winging it, I started crafting little vignettes of a boy just his age, no younger and no older, with a green bicycle just like his riding around the neighborhood and into the woods. There were birds, rabbits, squirrels, a Mr. Owl, and – channeling my inner Mo Willems – even a bear named Oso. So naturally the night before Thanksgiving a new character, Gobby the Turkey, had to make an appearance. And every night since then, after having some milk and kissing Mama goodnight, my son lays next to me in bed and in his perfectly innocent 2-year-old voice, asks, “Tell story Gobby Turkey?”. How can I say no to that?

So every night I add a little more to the narrative, crafting a world for Gobby and my son rife with adventures, lessons, and relatable experiences to foster the wonderment of his mind. Yet for me it is so much more than a story. It’s a shared bond, something completely spontaneous and unique in his life that only he and I have. Something I can seed, nurture, and grow until dissolved one day by the hands of time.

My wife has suggested I write all the stories down. I may just do that, perhaps as a part of something bigger. There’s been a new story every day for over 2 weeks now so the details are fading quickly from my memory. But no matter what the adventure, every story now starts out the exact same way:

“Once upon a time, there was a turkey, and his name was Gobby. Gobby the Turkey lived in a field with all his turkey friends, and in that field they had swings and a BIG slide to play on……”

Pride

I took my 19-month-old son to the Seattle LGBT Pride Parade this past Sunday. If you’ve never been to one, it’s quite possibly the most wonderful and moving parade you’ll ever see. Thousands of people gathered to celebrate pride, happiness, love, and this year, victory. Not less than 48 hours prior the US Supreme Court had declared gay marriage a fundamental right to all Americans, so this parade had the same kind of exuberant, victorious joy similar to when my beloved Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup. I felt it was of the utmost importance not only that I attend, but that I provide the opportunity for my son to attend as well.

How did he like it, you ask? Well, to put it simply, he loved it. All the marching bands, costumes, floats rocking out to good music, fire trucks, police cars, motorcycles, and happy, dancing, joyous people. And I was moved to tears with the unbelievable amount of LBGT support from all facets of humanity – the Seattle police and fire departments, public works, parks & recreation, mayor’s office, local businesses such as T-Mobile, Starbucks, Chipotle, Alaska Airlines, BECU, even the Boy Scouts of America. That one got me right in the feels.

I was so overcome with emotion and the joy of the moment that I struggled to formulate the words I wanted to say to my son, to explain to him entire reason for us being there. Now that I’ve had time to think about it, here’s what I wanted to say to him:

You see all these people? All these smiling and happy people? They come together once a year to celebrate something truly special – the continued progress of earning the basic rights and respect of humanity. Ideally we wouldn’t have to celebrate this because happiness, respect, and dignity are all fundamental rights that everyone has, and we should all treat everyone as we want to be treated. But sometimes people don’t like others simply because they are different, and that is not okay. So even though they are different from us, it is our duty to be their advocates, to support them, accept them, and love they for who they are.

And I want you to know that I will do the same for you, always. You are my child. I’m proud of you and I love you just the way you are.

Seattle = Pride

Toddler Top Ten

With all the articles about the “Terrible Twos”, “Toddler Meltdowns”, and other crazy (but absolutely true) stuff, I figured it was time to spin it the other way. Time for another Top Ten!

1) He understands what I say. Oh boy, does he understand what I say. One of the most frustrating things about his infancy was the natural communication and understanding gap. But now? I can talk to him like an adult and he gets it, even if he can’t articulate it. One one hand that’s amazing, but on the other hand it’s made me check myself and analyze my words like I never have before.

2) Words words words. You can practically see the wheels turning in his head as he learns to associate things with the words we say and the names we call them. And when the new words come out? It’s like a tiny little candy hearts exploded and melted in my chest. And the rate at which he’s picking them up now is astounding. Here are some (probably not all) that he knows, more for record-keeping but possibly for your enjoyment too: Up, down, ball, rabbit, fox, socks, shoes, broccoli, potato, bathroom, cheese, cookie, water, rock, teeth, mama, dada, papa (grandpa), uh oh, balloon, vacuum.

3) Singing!! Yep, that’s right! Apparently one of his favorite (or at least most memorable) songs from Music Together class is a song called “Me, You, We”. And my wife caught him singing it to himself one day!! Since then he’ll sing it every once and awhile, but the fact that he caught on and can sing it? Unbelievably cool.

4) He’s an outdoor kid. So far, he seems content with playing outside as long as possible and protesting when it’s time to come in for a nap. This bodes well for the future where I see him as I saw myself in childhood – playing outside until called home for dinner or until the sun went down. That’s one of the main reasons why we moved to the Pacific Northwest: more outdoor opportunities. So it’s slides, parks, play structures, nature trail walks, and wagon rides until the cows come home. This will just get more and more fun as he gets older.

5) Adventures in food. About the only thing better than playing outside is eating. We have yet to reach the age where he starts rejecting the food we feed him. Even at 19 months, this kid loves his food. Salmon, kale, cole slaw, mustard greens, sushi (Tamago), tuna, avocado, tomatoes, you name it, he’ll eat it. He’s clearly related to us. 🙂

6) Kiss it and make it better. I’m not sure who he picked this up from, but whenever he hurts himself he’ll point to it and look at me. I ask him if he wants me to kiss it and make it better. He brings it close to me, I kiss it, and apparently all is well as he goes about his day. Just like him understanding me, this is incredible. And I didn’t realize I had the magic power to heal dings and dents with a kiss. 🙂

7) Hugs & cuddles. He’s an affectionate boy. I love it. I’ll never force him to kiss or hug anyone he doesn’t want to (related or not), but I know there may be a time where he doesn’t want to be as affectionate (“Ew, dad, gross!”). So for now I’ll soak up every hug, cuddle, and Eskimo kiss I get.

8) Motor skills. Everything from climbing to looking under couches and beds to dipping french fries in ketchup. His skills are accelerating at a breakneck pace. “Child proofing” is an ever evolving practice where I feel I’m at least 2 steps behind him.

9) Music class! We’ve been going to Music Together class since he was 2 months old, and while he’s always seemed to enjoy it, it’s only in the last month or so that he’s really blossoming into it. Dancing, hand motions, drum playing, it’s all happening now. And I can’t get enough.

10) We’re not done yet. Not by a long shot. Here’s to whatever the future will bring. I love this kid.

Identity…….Epiphany

I’m now officially 4 days in to a 2 week business trip in the Netherlands. One wouldn’t think this is the time or the place to “find oneself”, yet here I am. As fun and unique as a trip to Europe is (I’ll be in Paris for a weekend day), the business part of the trip is certainly palpable. 12-hour work days, no time for lunch, working for Europe during the day and North America at night. International conference calls at odd hours racking up phone bills and data charges for someone other than me. Get back to the hotel, change, pound some beers with dinner, bang out a few emails before bed, crash. Repeat ad nausem.

Yet here’s the thing I can’t shake: I thrive in this environment, and I’m damn good at it. It’s what got me here in the first place, over 4,000 miles from home solo on a trip to a facility I’ve never been to in a country just as foreign. The reputation of a leader who “gets shit done” both honestly and fairly. The ability to negotiate a salary I never thought I’d see in my life, enough to support my family on one income and give my son the same gift I had as a child – a parent at home during those critical early years. To put it simply, when I have no one to account for but myself, I can kick some serious ass.

But then my wife sends me a photo of my smiling baby boy rocking out on my drum set at home, and the contrast jolts me back to reality. The important things are now incredibly clear. I am alone in this hotel room. The trip doesn’t matter. Me making money for some company that cares as much about me as they do about solving world hunger doesn’t matter. Is it necessary? Absolutely. Is it the most important? To some, but not to me. I do this to support my family and give us the privileged freedom of not having to worry about financial security (this itself is a rarity in these times, I am soberingly aware). Suddenly, all I want more than anything in the world is to fly home and hug my wife and son.

Sometimes it takes being away to truly understand what matters. Being a father, having a family, being connected to a community, these are things that I want more. Feel-good story of the year, right? Not exactly. I have not been the best father to my son and I’ve been a downright shitty husband to my wife. I’ve taken this for granted for years, all while driving my family, the ones I love most, to the brink of disintegration. What will it take for me to right the ship and actually show the love I profess to have? Actions will always speak louder than words, whether spoken or typed, although there is something strangely cathartic about the public admission of it all. Let’s hope I’m on to something and can finally atone. 10 more days.

Rivers of Light, Streams of Consciousness

15 months, nearly 16 at the time of this writing. It’s been fun and amazing for sure, and certainly kept me busy. It’s insane how much he’s learning and understanding and at such a rapid pace. He’s been such a joy in my life that every time I look into his eyes I see hope, light, promise, and future. And I certainly try to reflect the same back to him, but sometimes I get the sense he can see through me, deep into the darkness below. You see, there’s certainly enough darkness to go around. Darkness in the news, darkness in adapting to this new home, darkness in the sky (although that’s getting better as we move into Spring), darkness in some relationships, like I said, more than enough. That two admittedly fucked up adults can come together in love and create someone so perfect is beyond comprehension to me. His life is so pure, so innocent, that he doesn’t deserve to be affected by it. Hell, I don’t think I deserve him sometimes. So I put on a brave face, strap on my big-boy pants, and try to shift the narrative.

Being with him, observing him, and looking into his eyes help. As much as he needs me and depends on me as a child when I’m with him, I almost need him more. I need him to show me that light, shine a bit of it on me as I bask in his innocence, curiosity, and wonderment at discovering new things. It’s almost addictive; without his light a void remains, a reminder of what I am and what I am not. The constant push-pull struggle is still there, right underneath the surface. I want to be the role model for him, yet I don’t want him to be me. I am flawed; I am lots of things I don’t want to be and certainly don’t want him to be. But then a small sliver of light shows up through a simple hug, a snuggle, “da-da” in his soft beautiful voice, or climbing over my legs and plopping in my lap to read books. In this moment at least I am doing the right thing, I am doing right by him, and the darkness recedes gently like the tide.

I think I’ll just enjoy this little bit of light right now until the tide rolls back in.

Learning to Fly

The house is more silent than normal tonight. Most people would say that’s a good thing, but it just makes me sad. My father-in-law left to go back to Illinois today after spending the last 10 weeks with us. Back when I was still considering the job offer, he volunteered to travel out here with us and help with the move transition. An extremely generous gesture for sure; this decision was one of the reasons why I decided to take the risk on relocating my family. It’s one thing to move for a job, but it’s an entirely different thing to move across the country to a place where you don’t know anyone and your wife and 1-year-old son are completely isolated while you go to work. So needless to say his support was priceless.

And support he did provide. He endured 4 days of travel; over 2,100 road miles; 3 nights in a hotel with me, my wife, my son, 3 cats, and a dog; 28 nights in an extended stay hotel with us; the stress and strain of moving in a house and unpacking boxes; surviving the holidays; caring for his grandson while we adjusted (and also while we fought)…..all while being just as isolated from family as we were. He’s not just a father-in-law, he’s practically a saint.

And we all knew the arrangement was temporary. This isn’t his home, this is our home. We (or more specifically, I) chose to move 2,100 miles away from our entire family and friend base. So once we got settled and the roar of the holidays died down, we knew the training wheels would come off and we’d be on our own. But that doesn’t make it any less scary and any less sad. So now the real work begins. It’s time to band together as a family and put down new roots. It won’t be easy, but no one said it would be.

So thank you, Dad, for all your help getting us out here, getting us set up, and everything you’ve done. Travel safe, and we’ll see you in a few months.

10 Things I Wish I Knew About Parenting – 1 Year Edition

Yep, it’s that time again! It’s still hard to believe over an entire year has passed. What happened?!?!?! While I’m searching for answers to questions Don Quixote style, here are 10 new things I wished they would have told me.

1) It doesn’t get easier; it gets different. Sure, the nights of being up every 2 hours and changing infant diapers in a semi-conscious state are gone, but they’ve been replaced by babyproofing the house, getting kicked in the back by a rogue child foot at night, and following my son around the house to make sure he doesn’t put everything in his mouth (including the cat’s tail). As he grows, the problems become more complex. So be wary of anyone who tries to tell you “it gets easier”. Either they’ve never had kids or they just enjoy the schadenfreude.

2) You’re wrong. Every. Single. Day. My inner voice is constantly telling me I suck at this. I’m not asking for a pity party, but sometimes it’s near impossible to muster up the strength to get up off the mat after another knockdown. Metaphorically, of course. Being a parent means you will screw up at least one thing every day for the rest of your life. Everyone tells me that’s OK, so I’m figuring out how to accept that.

3) Solid food diapers are the second nastiest thing on the planet. I previously covered formula diapers as #1. But having to scrape solid, putty-like waste out of a cloth diaper into a toilet? Yeah, I’ll give you a minute to wipe your previously-digested lunch off your computer screen.

4) “Tight-fitting” pajama sets are the Devil’s work. Yes, I understand they should be well-fitted for safety reasons, but trying to squeeze a pre-Chernobyl toddler into PJs at bedtime should be an Olympic event. Either plan on spending an hour putting them on or saying “Fuck it, let ’em sleep naked.” And getting them off the next morning? Better get the Jaws of Life.

5) Bedsharing is awesome. OK, full disclosure here: Since my wife breastfeeds, she gets the brunt of the waking and feeding in the middle of the night, sleeping in uncomfortable positions, getting kicked, kneed, elbowed, and punched at random, and just generally dealing with the fallout of having a little dude invade your bed space. That said, I enjoy having my little guy sleeping soundly next to me. Of course it’s nice to have a king size bed, but still. He wants to be asleep next to us because that’s where he feels safe and secure in a world he barely knows. Why would I want to take that away from him?

6) You’ll start having “remember when” conversations. About your kid. Yeah, nostalgia after only 12 months. Funny thing about your brain: it has a way of softening the insanely brutal memories of the first few months and somehow magically trick you into thinking you might want to do that again.

7) Watching kids learn to eat solid foods is both wildy fascinating and utterly terrifying. Ever try chewing and swallowing your food without using your molars? Yeah, it’s wicked hard. “What do I do if he chokes?” “Oh God, he’s choking.” “Wait, no he’s not.” “Yes he is.” “No he’s not.” “Yes he his.” “No he’s not.” “Wait, he just swallowed it.” “He swallowed it?” “YAY! HE SWALLOWED IT!!!”

8) Going out to eat is like trying to diffuse a ticking time bomb. Except this bomb doesn’t have a predictable timer and needs constant distraction via toys, games, or food. Look, I’m terrified of having my child melt down in a restaurant (and believe me, it’s happened), but the only way to get kids comfortable in those situations is trial by fire. The more my son is exposed to it the more he’ll be comfortable with it. So the next time you see a parent frantically trying to calm their Tasmanian Devil, show a little compassion. Unless you’ve been there you’ll never know. Now I’ll just hop off my soapbox and head to the next one….

9) Yep, it still takes two. Like I said, it doesn’t get any easier. In my case, I know I wouldn’t be able to have the career I have and raise my son the way I want without the never ending and unconditional support from my wife. My awe and praise for her could fill up an entire post and then some (hey, there’s an idea for another post!). How on earth a single parent does it all is still beyond me. Mad props to all the single parents out there. You have my undying respect and admiration.

10) You’ll still love being a parent. Hell yeah it’s hard. Hell yeah I think I suck at it. But it’s everything I wanted it to be and added a huge new dimension to my life. Seeing his eyes light up when he sees me and says “dada” is THE best feeling in the world.

From Sleep, Awake

As you may or may not know by now, I’ve moved from from Central IL to Northwestern Washington state. I’ve changed jobs, companies, and set my entire family on an adventure into the unknown, 2,100 mies away from friends, family, and everything we know. This wasn’t completely on a whim; the Pacific Northwest is the area of the country my wife and I decided we wanted to live permanently eventually; we just didn’t think it would happen this fast. But when the golden ticket arrives you can’t really say no. “Opportunity only knocks once”, as they say.

We’ve been here 10 days and we’re not settled yet. We’re staying in a hotel while we wait for the closing date on our new house. Me, my wife, my son, my father-in-law, 3 cats, a dog, and a partridge in a pear tree for that matter. We’re starting to go stir crazy, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. When you’re displaced and already feeling isolated it’s incredibly hard to find comfort, to start to put down roots and make a new place truly home. Add it all up and even when it goes smoothly, The question can creep in. Was this really the right thing to do? A routine errand provided the answer in the most unexpected way.

After work I decided to take my son and find the nearest “shared branch” bank that would allow me to transact using my account from back in IL. Even though it was only 5:30 in the evening Daylight Savings Time ensured that the sun had already been down for quite some time. A full moon helped guide us on our trek as we headed for Oak Harbor. A small road (WA Route 20) with only 1 lane in both directions took us the entire way, winding through the trees and a few small towns. Suddenly the view opened up to Deception Pass. Even though it was completely dark, the moonlight gave way to a breathtaking view. I pulled over to the scenic waypoint, turned off the car, took my son out of his seat, and walked to the viewing area.

We stood there, silently in awe, father and son, watching the full moon reflect over the eerily calm waters and pine trees of Deception Pass. Maybe it was the moonlight, maybe it was the slight chill in the air, maybe it was the stress release, or maybe it was that I was listening to the magically epic Z2 album from the Devin Townsend Project. Whatever it was, the significance of this moment hit me like an impact gun, nearly buckling my knees and practically moving me to tears. This is why we’re here. This is our purpose. The sense of adventure, of worldly exploration, of wonderment and deep humbling respect for Mother Nature.

My iPhone can't even come close to recapturing the moment. Yes, that is the moon.

My iPhone can’t even come close to recapturing the moment. Yes, that is the moon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That sense had always been a part of me, but years of spirit-crushing winters and a job that drained the life out of me had left me wondering if it was gone forever. Tonight the fire was reignited and it’s starting to burn brighter and brighter. This fire will provide the strength I need to carry my family through this transition, to dig deep, find a home, and instill those same senses in my son and all the children I will have. I was born and raised in the Midwest and will be forever proud of that. But tonight Mother Nature opened her welcoming arms and reassured me that yes, my family belongs here.

Welcome home.

Batteries Not Included

As I sit here with my 11-month-old son watching him inspect my iPhone and figure out how his favorite song (The Incomparable Mr. Flannery, by Clutch) is emanating from this mysterious black box, a small pit forms in my stomach. I begin to question myself: “Should he be exposed to my phone screen?” “Will the bright colors and sounds desensitize him from the simpler things in life?” “Shouldn’t I be sheltering him from all this technology?” “Am I using my phone as a substitute for real interaction?” It took me quite awhile to really understand where these thoughts came from and even longer to figure out how to answer them.

My wife and I grew up in a period of technology explosion. Stuck firmly on the corner of Generation X and Generation Y, at the intersection of latchkey kids and 90s grunge/alternative, I feel like we occupy a unique place in technological history. Our childhoods are filled with memories of playing with friends outside AND digital experimentation. Big Wheels, Slip ’n Slide, Skip-It, “Ghosts in the Graveyard”, and “Cowboys and Indians” right alongside MTV, AOL Instant Messenger, Napster, Myspace, and Facebook. So of course our experiences have cultivated a subconscious and visceral gut-check to ensure we do not use TVs, iPads, the Internet, and DVD players as de-facto babysitters for our children.

But is sheltering our children from technology at such a young age the right answer? I’m starting to think it isn’t. There’s a HUGE difference between using it as a babysitting crutch and teaching them about it, watching them learn and discover it. You see, our children will be growing up in another unprecedented era. A world where this technology is not only ubiquitous, but also taken for granted. A world with new technological breakthroughs that I can’t even begin to fathom. And my job as a parent, above all, is to prepare them for this world. Sheltering them from this technology is doing a giant disservice.

I love watching my son figure things out, discover the ins and outs of how things function, cause and effect. That if he pushes the big round button he can “speak” to Siri, who will speak back. That if he touches the screen on one of my color drawing apps he can literally create something new, something from his own mind. I can see his brain working overdrive during phone calls as he tries to figure out how mommy, daddy, or grandma got their voice into this tiny black box. He’s even starting to understand video chat, which will become incredibly important as our family and friends are spread all over the place: Peoria, Chicago, Atlanta, Charlotte, Washington state, and even Sweden.

It goes without saying that my other job as a parent is to set reasonable limits for how and when to use said technology. My childhood experiences (as well as my wife’s) have ingrained in us that there is no substitute for good, solid playtime with other kids, especially outdoors. It remains a core and primary value. But our children will live in an entirely different world than the one we grew up in. Recognizing that and understanding how to merge the two worlds is the new challenge. This merge smacks me in the face yet again as I hit the “Post” button on this blog, written on my laptop from my couch with iTunes playing in the background, staring out my front window at the multi-colored leaves of our giant oak tree in mid-Fall. Wow.