Tag Archives: Parenting

Inspired by Hanna-Barbera … Duct Tape Adventures Return

3 Sep

I look forward to this adventure every year, it takes me back to my seven-year old self, the one watching Hanna-Barbera cartoons on Saturday mornings.

I’ve told you about this before, my love for these kinds of races and the origin of it all …

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Cartoons were a big deal to me back then, that’s where I got most of my fantastic ideas. And this one — the Wacky Races —  has always stayed with me. So when I heard about this cardboard boat regatta down by the beach a couple of years ago, I jumped at the chance to participate in the fun. It’s actually turned into a family tradition. Something I hope my kids will look back on fondly.

The entire process jazzes me up. From conception to creation to craftsmanship. The annual cardboard boat regatta challenges the small artist I have in me. I’ve learned to enjoy the process, the trials and errors, the measure twice and cut once philosophy, the entire duct tape process, being present, and enjoying the building part with my kids was one of the many takeaways from this experience. I’ve been grateful enough to remember it every year. The actual race takes about five minutes so enjoying every bit of the process leading up to that helps slow time down and increase the gratitude factor. I’m glad I can remind myself of this, but feel even happier that I’ve introduced my kids to this life lesson. So it’s a win-win.

Creativity happens here and I’ve learned that it involves duct tape. I look forward to the seven rolls of duct tape that make my vessel seaworthy. This year it was five rolls of Gorilla Tape and two of silver duct tape, not that it matters or anything, but thought I’d share the supply list in case you wanted to get creative too.

The multiple trips to the local Do-It-Yourself Hardware Center become a weekly adventure during our creative process. I enjoy seeing whether or not the finished product meets my kid’s expectations. Most of the time it does, last year, it was so amazing that I even patted myself on the back. This year was a little trickier, considering inspiration came from Despicable Me 3, Gru’s car, and his minions of course. But we managed and came up with this …

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Gru’s Car/Speedboat

Cardboard and duct tape. Total Festivus Miracle! And not only was the creative process enjoyable, we also ended up winning our heat. For the second year in a row, after losing the first few years, we paddled our way to the finish line first, without sinking and eventually placed third overall in the parent-child category.

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Making it to the finish line … smiling all the way.

But in addition to paddling our way down the pool, hanging out with and talking to the other boat makers was so much fun. I enjoyed seeing some of the masterpieces and listening to the inspiration behind it all.

 

 

My son really enjoyed the Star Wars vessel and my daughter loved the Moana boat, but I have yet to recover the picture for that one. My favorite was of course this white one.

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AMAZING!

 

I couldn’t believe it when I saw this whole boat made out of cardboard, but it was only for display and not for racing purposes. The creative process on this one must have been great.

 

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🙂

Everyone ended up having a good time. Don’t know if they were inspired by Hanna Barbera, but something inspired them and the inventiveness came through in the form of cardboard and duct tape creations. Remembering that the process and being present were just as important as paddling to the finish brought sunshine to my heart.

Buen Camino my friends!

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Road Trips and Rain Man

1 Jul

Road trips make or break a family, whether it’s an hour escape to the beach, three-hour drive to Legoland, or a longer one across state lines. They often remind me of Chevy Chase’s quest to have a great vacation for his own family.

So when I recently packed the car, filled up the gas tank, and took off, I went with fingers crossed that I wouldn’t have to stop the car and resort to my “mom” voice. Road trip adventure. Definitely a Bucket List item, but one I feared. Road trips. I love them and hate them. I hadn’t taken the kids on a road trip this long, four hours had been the maximum, so when this unexpected trip happened I wondered whether we’d make it up Highway 5 for six hours. I remember taking road trips in the 80s, when my dad would pile us in the brown station wagon, no computers or Game Boys back then, just hangman or sleep.  Three hours back then seemed like forever, but now I was on the verge of a six-hour adventure.

Woo-Hoo!

And whenever anyone goes on a road trip, some memories stand out more than others. I enjoy the pictures, some of them help me remember things that belong in The Jar of Awesome. Everyone has different highlights of their family trips and some end up being spectacular National Geographic photos, while others get sent to the recycling bin. I get lucky and take one awesome shot from time to time. But this was more of my Rain Man adventure.

I love that movie. I’ve seen it hundreds of times, and Dustin Hoffman rocked it. I still have it on VHS and I crack myself up that I still own it this way.

Anyhow during the movie they go on a road trip and Rain Man documents the trip with a camera. He takes pictures of important things and then pretty random things. He’s taking it all in. His pictures come out at the end of the movie when the credits are rolling. Some of the pictures that my kids took reminded me of  that scene. Landscapes. Sunny faded out landscapes. It brought a smile to my face and helped me remember the different points along the road.

The pictures reminded me to keep things slow, that sometimes random moments are good ones, that patience on a road trip is essential, and most of all unplug myself from the world when I can, which in truth comes fairly easy because the Internet and social media aren’t really all that important. Netflix and mobster movies … well that’s something else. And you can’t really blame me either, I mean Rain Man could not even unplug himself from Judge Wapner. Five minutes to Wapner. Five minutes to Wapner.

Buen Camino my friends!

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The Beginning … sort of.

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 … of our long windy road …

 

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running into multiple farms on our way …

 

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… taking our best Rain Man photos …

 

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… on our five-six hour journey up the highway …

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… with a couple of pit stops on our way …

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To our final destination …

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Roberto Duran, Tuesday Night Fights, and Late Night Cup of Coffees on Father’s Day

18 Jun

It’s the day you think about the cool Thrifty’s ice cream cone he bought you on a hot day.  It’s the day you focus on the traffic-congested-day trips to Sea World or Raging Waters he used to take you to during the summer. It’s the day you think about him driving after a long day of work to try catch one of your basketball games. It’s the day you flip through the 1970s photo albums to try and remember the posed Kodak moments that sit behind that clear plastic covers.

As an adult it’s the day you try to hold onto good childhood (and adulthood) memories without crying, but smiling and laughing instead, because they happened and you can remember them.

 

 

 

 

Father’s Day celebrates all the dads and the adventures they led you through to make you the person you are today. It celebrates the stubbornness and adventurous spirit of the dude that sat behind those tired eyes at the end of the day and listened to my stories while stirring his cup of coffee.

 

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I tried to recreate a Father’s Day Weekend he might enjoy by heading to the mecca of golf shops and looking around at things he might want to buy but knowing full well he would probably just use them like twice a year, yet still be very satisfied with his purchase. Went to Fry’s Electronics store and stared at the big screen TVs and other gadgets for a while just thinking of what he’d say.

On Father’s Day Eve I watched a couple of boxing movies he had yet to see, but I guarantee he would have enjoyed them just because they had to do with boxing and the underdog. He liked Robert DeNiro almost as much as I did, so I imagine he would have given Hands of Stone two thumbs up. I imagine in part because it was a true story, and in part because he probably saw one of Duran’s fights on television. He would have told me about the first Sugar Ray Leonard fight, and what an amazing blow by blow battle it was. He liked Sugar Ray, but I think he would have rooted for Duran because of his upbringing and rise from nothing into something. He probably would have told me about the rematch as well, and had something to say about that Don King. He would have talked about it being on the news and how people heard Duran say “No Mas,” but wondering whether Duran really said it. We would have had an all-out-father-daughter discussion over some ice cream on that one.

I imagine him liking Hands of Stone for the same reason he would have really liked The Fighter. He enjoyed true stories about the human condition, the come-back kids worth rooting for.

With boxing it wasn’t so much the punching, although you couldn’t miss the combinations in each round, but it was the stories behind each boxer he enjoyed, it was the story of the fight. He was a fan of the sport, watching HBO cards whenever the big dudes took the ring. But what he really enjoyed watching were the weekly matches on USA Network’s Tuesday Night Fights.

I remember, every Tuesday night, coffee cup in hand and pillows fluffed up in the right position on the floor, because for some reason he enjoyed propping up all the pillows against the bottom of the couch and lying on the floor facing the television. He didn’t enjoy the sideways angle in which the couches were situated. So he made his own comfy space, a make-shift Lazy-Boy, although with all the excitement of the fight he’d put the coffee cup down and stand up in the middle of each round, bobbing and weaving with the boxers. And then smiling and saying … Phewwww!  That was a good round ….

So I tried to recapture some of that for myself yesterday. I tried to catch some of my Dad.

Celebrating someone who has passed on is tough, they’re physically gone and you don’t hear their laughter anymore, but you hold onto to their stories the best you can and focus on the good things they left you with, like their heart,  spirit, Tuesday Night boxing stories, and late-night-cup-of-coffee memories.

Happy Father’s Day …

 

1A

 

 

 

 

Memories, Monster Mutt, and Duct Tape

5 Sep

“You’re making some great childhood memories.”

That’s what someone told me, when I mentioned our recent Guat Adventure. I wasn’t purposely trying to make memories, I was just trying to have a good time and do something with my kids. The fact that someone saw it that way made me smile, because maybe when my kids look back on their childhood, they’ll remember our trips to the beach every weekend during the summer, our Staycations, book festivals, adventure races and this …

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Our annual cardboard yacht regatta that often reminds me of my own childhood wish to build something and enter a wacky race. Maybe they will look back at growing up with me and it will make them smile.

We came off of this year’s race victorious, beating Minecraft and a Piece of Cherry Pie. We won our heat and it felt awesome to get to the finish line without tipping over. Many boats didn’t seem to make it to the half way point. But we built a seaworthy vessel and it wouldn’t have been possible without duct tape, and multiple trips to our neighborhood Do It Yourself Center. But not just any duct tape … Gorilla Duct Tape … It’s pretty powerful stuff … 9 rolls … had to be right?

I liked the fact that with a little bit of imagination, and a lot of patience and duct tape we turned a measly cardboard box into something pretty awesome. Last year my son decided on Optimist Prime, this year my daughter decided to choose one of her favorites …

 

Monster Mutt Monster Truck.

And just like last year, every part of the process was fun, from the duct tape, to the coloring, to the anticipation of the race, to the spectators judging your boat, to the actual race. Every part of the journey was felt and enjoyed. Those memories were happening and I had no idea because we were just in the moment.

Just like every one else I imagine …

 

 

Memories, Monster Mutt, and duct tape. They made for a great weekend, hopefully one that they’ll want to put away in one of those memory mason jars I keep talking about.

 

 

Buen Camino my friends …

 

 

The Sandlot Moment, Fireworks, and Gas In The Tank

5 Jul

Sometimes it’s about the fireworks, about checking them out, about being able to see great ones, about being wowed, about barbecues and pie.

Most of the time it’s about getting together.

We forget about George Washington and those other cats and all the drama they went through, unless we’ve been watching TURN on AMC. Then you think about the significance of the 4th weekly. But for the most part you catch glimpses of it in between the hot dogs, carne asada, and the Yankee Doodle Dandy song while the fireworks explode into the night.

That’s what I caught — a couple of good Sandlot moments throughout the day. Sandlot. I love that movie.

We caught a baseball game last night and managed to eat overpriced hot dogs and popcorn with our lemonades and enjoy our home team beat The Orioles 7-5.  And we’d been to baseball games before but it was the first night both kids had seen fireworks on the baseball field. We’d seen fireworks before but nothing with Ray Charles singing O’ Beautiful in the background.

And while I was sitting there next to my kids I felt grateful. A sense of gratitude just covered me up like a blanket, being there at peace. Even with all the everyday drama and weekly failures that life brings me, breaking me down at times, wallowing in pints of Ben & Jerry’s or raging in frustration at my punching bag, right there and then, I was grateful for that moment. Grateful that I was able to have the freedom to hang out with my kids, at a ballpark, watch a baseball game, and enjoy fireworks. Simple stuff, I guess. I felt like I was having a small-town moment.  It was a Sandlot moment, actually.

And I tried to breathe it in. If I had a mason jar I would have tried to capture it and hold onto to it for a while, you know for the days where you can’t find anything to be grateful for. I would have held onto that one for sure.

 

 

And I was sitting there in parking lot traffic after the game, just trying to get out onto the freeway, the craziness of the scene didn’t bother me. Most drivers were honking, frustrated, and angry – building up road rage. 38 minutes will do that to you.  I was just sitting there listening to John Cougar Mellencamp, The Go-Go’s and the rest of the 80s lineup, thinking about my Sandlot moment. I had no worries … the kids were asleep, no one had to go to the bathroom, and I had gas in the tank.

Sandbox List Adventure 33 … The Building and Dreaming Continues

18 Jan

They’re everywhere. Ask any parent of a seven-year old kid. They’ll tell you.

First it’s Thomas The Train sets, then it’s construction Mighty Machine vehicles, Hot Wheels, monster trucks, and then the Big One.

LEGOS.

They’re a part of parenthood.

I hadn’t known much about the LEGO world until my son decided he liked them … now he loves them … and they’re everywhere.

Despite his LEGO storage set and cabinet, I still find helmets, light sabers, blasters, Batarangs, sirens, and lone pieces scattered about. I find them next to backpacks, under the table, in seat cushions, behind cabinets, and under my bare feet in the middle of the night.

But now, I’ve learned to find the awesome potential in these little plastic pieces.

So much so that we’ve made multiple trips to Legoland and continue to do so every year. But just recently I was able to add another LEGO adventure and it blew my son’s LEGO mind. He came back with a burst of imagination and even more enthusiasm to build, dream, build, and dream some more. I definitely got a high-five at the end of the day.

Sandbox List Adventure # 33 The Bricks Convention.

There have been plenty since #32, but I’ve forgotten to post about them, just like any parent, I’m always playing catch-up.

But I did manage to make it to this one. We missed it last year because I had no idea it existed, but I was made aware of it and so was my son.

So The Guats went on a field trip to discover what the imagination can do with small interlocking pieces of plastic.

Apparently a lot.

These are just the highlights …

 

 

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A Standing Ovation

16 Dec

After all the dramatic events that led to our induction into AYSO I’d like to say that it turned out fantastic, that the season was filled with plenty of Rudy-Hoosiers-Miracle-The-Natural type of moments.

But … I can’t. Nope.

My son’s first ever soccer experience involved being part of a Bad News Bears squad where they ended up losing almost every single game of the season. And instead of being one of those crazed parents yelling at their kid after the game or the season, I seemed to take the Kurt Warner approach.

I could see that he felt bad game after game, that he knew they had a losing record but I didn’t want to focus on the losing. But don’t get me wrong I did point out mistakes and what needed to improve, but that wasn’t my focus. I decided to concentrate more on what he did do right and how impressed I was at how he knew nothing about the sport at the beginning of the season and ended up being such a great defender toward the end.

He was voted most improved and I was proud of that, because that’s all we really want for ourselves too. We want to be better than we were yesterday and I was glad he had that in mind.

I mean I knew the losing record was a bummer, but still felt like he deserved a high-five, because he was different from the other players. He gave it his best, 100% effort and that was what mattered. His character in the end mattered. Every week he showed up, hopeful that his efforts and those of his teammates would bring back a win. Every week he gave his heart and every week he got better.

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So instead of pointing out the losses that took place throughout the season I paid attention to the courage it took for him to try something new and his perseverance and sportsmanship when things weren’t easy. I decided he definitely needed his standing ovation because losing is a hard lesson to learn no matter how old you are.

 

 

Tune-Ups Are Necessary Because UGH-Moments Exists

20 Nov

“Self-judgement is based on unreality.” — Deepak Chopra

 

Say what?

I had to hear that a few times before it actually made sense. Sometimes ideas are so deep that I need to take a minute. Several of them if they hit me with this early in the morning.

As a writer I’m totally guilty of self-judgement. As a mom … duuuuuude happens a lot. And sometimes it doesn’t even have to do with writing or motherhood could’ve been love, family, career, spirit, life, NanoWrimo, a conversation, parallel parking. Anything can make you feel bad, if you let it.

And then Deepak spoke and I heard it.

Judgement is based on decisions or moments that happened in the past, those UGH-moments that you just can’t shake off. Still thinking about the five minutes, five days, five weeks, or five months ago situation. Sometimes they still play in my head like a rerun and you can’t seem to change the channel.

But again, I was reminded of something I learned a while back, something to help me flip the switch. Being a work in progress. That’s me, so I snapped out of it. I realized the person I was five weeks ago isn’t the same person I am today. I’m under construction and sometimes I get help. The universe tends to bless me with the grace, imagination, or gratitude I need in order to get through life’s little moments where I’m lacking perspective and patience. Other times it leads me to Yogi teas, Ben & Jerry’s, a punching bag, and Netflix.

So I continue to progress, and remember to be present, because it’s hard to judge myself about the past if I’m focused on the right now.

The Present! For the most part I thought I lived my life enjoying “the moment,” and being present. But now that I hit the big 4-0 I realized I could’ve done it a bit more.

“The road to happiness starts with a deep breath and an awareness of the many blessings tied to that single breath.” — Richelle E. Goodrich

Being on this meditation kick has really helped make that a part of my lifestyle. At first it was just tough trying to make it a habit, but now it’s just become a part of daily living.Whether I’m enjoying a football game on the couch, eating the best piece of chocolate cake ever, hanging out with friends, blogging, or skydiving, whatever it is I’m in the moment. I enjoy it, I appreciate it, and then I’m grateful for it happening.

This whole spiritual and self-compassion cleanse was a good reminder. Weekly tune-ups are necessary because bad days, jackasses, and UGH-moments happen daily.

Buen Camino people!

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The Things I Do For My Kid …

16 Sep

I didn’t really know how to start the conversation.

I didn’t.

I mean I hate this time of year and being put in this position. So I thought I’d draft something to help me out.

What do you guys think?

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 Image by © Images.com/Corbis

Image by © Images.com/Corbis

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Dear People,

I say people because sometimes this act crosses boundaries and I’m no longer considered to be in the circle of trust. I’m outside of it. Out!

At least for the time being, and I understand. I get it.

I’ve crossed over from regular Guat, to the mom who has to raise funds for her son’s school.

Yeah.

You know the type, the one with two catalogs in her right hand and the clipboard with order form on the left. The one you hope doesn’t walk over to you and asks you to browse the catalog to see if you’re interested in buying something.

That’s me…for the next week that’s who’ve I become and the thing is I didn’t ask for this, I didn’t sign up for this. My son just came home last week with a “special envelope” addressed to the parents of Little Guat. Just like that, no warning, just an open call for you to do your part. Although I felt I already did my part by buying $48 worth of school supplies and sending them with my kid on the first day of school. You know the dreaded classroom list.

I thought I had done my part, but no. No.

There’s more. There’s always more when you’re a parent of a kid in the public school system. I know you know because you’ve been in my shoes and I’ve been in yours.

So let me just get to it. Let me give you my pitch.

I know you’re not Rachel Ray or any of the other Food Network Stars. I know it. I know that you probably don’t need an $18 lime green vegetable spiralizer for zucchini or yellow squash noodles. I know that you could probably grab your 20% coupon from Bed, Bath, & Beyond and get yourself a cheaper set of two-tone mixing bowls for all your baking needs. I know you probably have your free gift with purchase Estee Lauder or Clinique carryall totes and cosmetic bags and don’t need anymore polywoven plastic bags with reinforced bottoms.

I know.

But I have ask.

Things aren’t the way they used to be in the 80s. They’re not. There are no more music or art classes. None. I’m lucky if my kid will get a chance to use watercolors or know what a violin looks like. No room for creativity or the possibility that he’ll blossom into one of the Kennedy Center Honor recipients. I’d probably have to encourage that side of him through private lessons from some cultural center somewhere and shell out some massive bucks.

But they do have a computer center, although no computer teacher.

They do have a librarian on staff, finally. And books. They do have books. But no avenues to express their artistic talents.

And the weird thing is, I used to have these artistic opportunities during my youth, for free. No fundraising required because the schools thought that this was important enough to fund. It was in the budget at the inner city school I attended as a kid. Ms. Levi was my art teacher and Mr. Davidson was my music teacher, I rocked Beethoven on that violin and my calligraphy wasn’t too bad either.

But seeing how my son is in a better neighborhood, I figured he’d have all kinds of opportunities to make bad music on his trumpet, saxophone, guitar, violin, viola or whatever instrument he would decide to choose. I figured he’d be dabbling in all kinds of Picasso and Monet experiments.

I figured it would come included in this Happy Meal of an education, but no. We got no prizes.

So if you’d like to skip your trip to Target and get one of these handy dandy home, kitchen, or personal accessories and be an advocate for The Arts at the same time, duuuuuude you could totally buy something off one of these catalogs.

Thanks for your help.

Sincerely,

The Guat.

Oh! And P.S. If you can’t peruse the catalog, feel free to take thirty minutes away from your computer time on Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Instagram, Twitter and etc. to check the website out I’ve included at the bottom. I totally know you want to check out the wide array of silicone bottle topper sets and fodable duffle bags.

www.mixedbagdesigns.com/?fundraiserid=49645

What do you think? Will my family disown me and friends “de-friend” me on Facebook?

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I’m Pretty Sure My Kid Has Miss Viola Swamp This Year

17 Aug

3 out of 4

It seemed liked the odds were really in my favor, my son’s favor. It really did. But then I looked at the list and there it was the 25% that bit me on the ass.

Crap.

I stood there about ten minutes, hoping that I hadn’t read it right. Hoping that for some reason my Jedi mind tricks could magically rework the list. Hoping, no not really, praying that my kid would not have this chick as his teacher.

I had met her once before at the Open-House-Meet-Greet-Show-Off-Your-Kids-Work Conference. She was next door and they had encouraged all the parents to stop by all the classrooms to meet the possible future teachers for the following year.

I usually like everyone. It’s rare when people rub me the wrong way, but this chick with her negative attitude, dismissive nature, and non-welcoming personality burned me out. I would have understood if it was the end of the evening, but it was just an hour into it. I know a lot of teachers too, I know they put on their best face when parents come in, but this chick apparently forgot. This chick was Miss Viola Swamp. I left the room thinking, dude I hope my kid doesn’t even pass her in the hallway.

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Miss Viola Swamp

And then there he was on the list. Room 29.

Crap.

I shook my head in defeat, he would be at the mercy of Miss Viola Swamp. After a couple of hours, and some chocolate, something came over me. I got a little parent crazy for a minute. For some reason I found the need to investigate. Yup. If this chick, was going to be hanging out with my kid for seven hours a day, I figured I get some information on her. Maybe she was having an off day, when we met. Maybe she was hormonal. I don’t know. I was thinking of all kinds of excuses as to why someone would give off such a negative vibe.

Have you met this teacher? Do you know the type?

I was curious. The crazy overprotective parent in me wanted to find out more. But I wouldn’t say I went into stalker mode, more of an unlicensed private detective in search of answers.

There’s a lot you can find out about a teacher on the Internet, people put a lot of unnecessary information on Facebook, but nothing to excuse someone of jackass behavior. And you know she probably doesn’t even remember being a jackass, but I do. Meeting people matters.

I was never a huge fan of first impressions, I always tried to give people the benefit of the doubt, but they do seem to form 80% of my opinion. It’s like if you meet your all-time favorite actor, singer, player, author, or musician, and you’re so jazzed to have the opportunity to meet (although to be clear I wasn’t jazzed about this meeting, I was more just meeting someone and checking out the scene) and you have this picture of them in your head and then when you meet them, they just suck. Whether it had anything to do with you or not, that meeting taints your whole outlook on them from that point forward, and it takes a lot of work to change your perception.

So here I am, tainted and burned out by the fact that my kid ended up with the one teacher I wish he didn’t have.

I was so not looking forward to the beginning of the school year, although I had to hide that from my son. Didn’t want him going in with negative thoughts, so I just told him I didn’t know much about his new teacher, but that I’m sure he would get to know more about her on the first day of school, and that it would be a great day.

The day was done and my kid survived his first day without incident.

However, next week is Back To School Night, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say the same thing. Stay tuned.

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