September 29, 2011

The Parent Du Jour

Hey Life of Dadders ...

I was recently featured on The Parent du Jour as part of their "A Dad a Day" project. They asked me some pretty tough questions and I answered them as well as I possibly could without sounding like a complete idiot.


BRIAN KLEMS The Life of Dad

Thanks to Lisa Duggan for asking me to take part. You're a wonderful (and patient) human being.

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September 15, 2011

First Day of School Traditions

I have Opening Day traditions and Christmas traditions and Softball traditions (like enjoying the sweet, sweet taste of a Strikeout Beer 1), but I've never really had a "First Day of School" tradition. Both of my parents were scrambling to get me and my sister up, showered, dressed, fed and off to school is roughly 9.7 seconds, so there was no time. The closest thing I had to a First Day of School Tradition was a morning filled with anxiety and panic—Will my teacher like me? Will the kids remember who I am? Will anyone notice that I used my Tooth Fairy money to buy this awesome Swatch Watch?

Honestly, the idea of First Day of School Traditions never dawned on me until I saw my friend Tari post this on Facebook:

"I remembered at midnight last night, that my twin girls have school this morning. Glad I had that second glass of wine. "

If that wasn't tradition enough, she also posted this:

"Starting the day with a Family tradition: Eating breakfast out on the first day of school!"

This got me thinking, should I start some traditions with my girls? So far the past two years all I've done is taken Ella's picture in front of her school and, immediately upon picking her up from school, asked her "How on Earth did you get that blue stain on your shirt?"

So I posed this question to my FB friends:
"Anyone have any first-day-of-school traditions? Would love to hear them."
The answers ranged from the practical ...
Erin: I take a photo of my kids in front of the tree in front yard. Have every year since Kindergarten. 
Judy: We also took a picture on the first day and had them hold up so many fingers to match the grade they were in.
Mary: Send a cloth hankie belonging to mom/dad that fits in their pockets to touch and know you'll be back at 3:00.
Becky: Back to school time means new undies and socks. Gotta stay fresh, and I'm all about tradition. ;)

To the delicious
Melissa: When my friend was growing up, her mom would make her homemade chocolate chip cookies after school.

Jennifer: I always cook my kids a spaghetti dinner.

Krista: We always went out for ice cream on the first and last day of school with my parents.

To the Keep-Them-Away-From-My-Daughters:
Ray: In college I found the hot girls in my class and then sat next to them and asked for their that what you meant? ;) 
Kevin M.: I wake up early and throw rocks at the school buses when they drive by. I love traditions. 
Kevin A.: I would be so drunk...

To my sentimental favorites ...
Kristin: A note for each of them in their lunch boxes, telling them I love them and to have a great year. I do it when they're not looking so it'll be a surprise. 
Ben: My dad made us take a picture in front of the house every first day of school. I used to hate it, but when I graduated high school he gave me an album that had all of them in it. Every year. One of my most cherished possessions. 

When I was young, I thought traditions were generally stupid. It wasn't until I became a parent that I realized how much I cherish those annual memories—and how much my own parents must have enjoyed them too. I'm not sure what traditions I'm going to do next year, but I'm definitely going to do something.

One thing is for certain: I know I'm going to start the night before with two healthy glasses of wine. (Thanks for the suggestion, Tari!).

1 A "Strikeout Beer" is a free beer brought to the ballpark by a fellow teammate who spent the previous week embarrassing himself by striking out in slow-pitch softball. That's right: Slow. Pitch. Softball. Required: At least one beer for every member of the team. Not required: Beer that costs more than an average batting glove and tastes better than feet. (In fact, it's recently become a challenge on our team to find the cheapest, worst-tasting beer available in the Queen City. As a teammate who appreciates a good Strikeout Beer, I hate this challenge.) 

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts. If you have a "First Day of School Tradition" definitely share it in the comments section. I would love to hear them (as I'm sure everyone would love good ideas to be shared). 

***** * Subscribe to The Life of Dad via email or RSS feed! * Also, follow me on Twitter @BrianKlems. I promise to occasionally say funny things.


September 3, 2011

The 4 Lessons Preschool Teaches Dads (and Moms)

You've witnessed a lot of firsts in your child's life—the first time she walked, the first time she talked, the first time she sneezed in your mouth. Your heart melted the morning when she first said "I love you," and you cried the first afternoon that she accidentally head-butted you in the crotch. But these milestones will all culminate on the day you send her off into the world to be part of a 3-year-old society, best known to us regular folks as Preschool.

And nothing prepares you for your child's first day of school.

The truth is, you're not prepared for it because ... well, it's your first day of school, too. Sure, you've already learned your ABCs and 123s and how to successfully predict your future spouse, car and kids with a game of MASH; but now you're a parent, and parents have new lessons to learn. So I've decided to share them with you. Here are the 4 Lessons Preschool Teaches Dads (and Moms):

Lesson #1: You are a giant.
Our first day of Preschool didn't start on Tuesday; it started months ago when we visited the school. Everything—the furniture, the lockers, the hallway—was very, very little. Freakishly little. The coat hangers were so close to the ground, I threw out my back just looking at them. The desks were so small I could wear them as shoes. And the toilet was so tiny that I'm pretty sure even Barbie would have a tough time squeezing her cheeks on it. If it weren't for the warmth of the teaching staff and the reminder from my wife that I was "like a thousand times larger than the kids that would use this stuff" (thank you, wife), Ella would be at home where the desks are big enough to hold kegs and the toilets are big enough to hold butts.

Lesson #2: School is more interesting than Dad.
When I told Ella about preschool, I couldn't believe how excited she was. Anytime I mentioned it, her face lit up like a sparkler. All summer long our conversations eventually turned to "School this" and "School that" and "When does it start?"—to which my wife would reply, "Too soon ... Oh too soon." I once asked Ella if she loved me, to which she replied, "I love school!" When you lay out the facts (I've loved, cared and hugged her every day of her wonderful life vs. school, a place she's visited the same number of times she's driven the car, which is zero), you can see why she'd pick school over me. Score: School = 1, Dad = Same number of times Ella has driven the car (still zero).

Lesson #3: Her day of firsts is also your day of firsts.
It's your first day of dropping her off. It's your first day of picking her up. It's your first day of running late because you can't find her Dora bookbag—even though you've done nothing but trip over it on the living room floor for the past two weeks. It's your first time signing up for the snack sheet. It's your first time embarrassingly e-mailing the teacher to tell her you already forgot what dates you signed up for. It's your first time dropping off her younger sister at the sitter's house all by herself (and younger sister gives you the very sad Why-Are-You-Guys-Leaving-Me-All-By-Myself puppy dog eyes). And it's your first day realizing that you are going to have to do this twice a week for the next 9 months.

Lesson #4: Let her go.
Funny thing about kids: From the minute our children are born, we can't wait to watch them grow up and see what kind of upstanding members of society they will be. Then the minute they're ready to test the waters of society in school, we desperately want to shrink them back up into babies again—with big squishy cheeks, toothless smiles and complete and utter dependence on us. These emotions torment and scare me much like the Reds bullpen, but deep down I know I need to show a little faith and just let her go.

So I'd just like to wish my little girl good luck. I'd also like to wish all the parents out there good luck too. We want to think about our kids learning their ABCs and 123s and finding out their future through a game of MASH (in case you were wondering about my results, I will marry Winnie Cooper, have 2 kids, settle down in an apartment in Guam, drive a Green BMW and will become a Genie), but we don't want to think about what that means to us—losing a grip on our sweet little babies. I guess we can chalk that up as another first.

Thankfully I'll have Winnie Cooper to comfort me.

The Life of Dad is updated every Tuesday. Thanks for stopping by and following my attempts to be a good dad, husband and co-ed softball player. I hope you visit again. -- Brian

(Note: This post is dedicated to the loving memory of Matt Donnelly. You'll be missed.)