Sunday, September 10, 2006

Manufactured Memories

Because there are not enough real events in life in which my children can produce heartwarming, touching moments of golden beauty that will be remembered forever (or at least until the associated souvenirs find their way to the trash can), the 'powers that be' have derived several different ways to provide those moments to me. One of them occurred this past Saturday at 7:30 AM when we lined up for the 'soccer parade'.

What exactly is a 'soccer parade', you ask? Well its a parade of kids marching with uniforms (of the fancy kind, with matching shorts and their names on the back) costumes and banners down main street to celebrate the first day of their soccer season. Ostensibly its put together because its 'fun for the kids', although based on the proceedings I think I could have covered the parts my daughter found to be the high points on my own - namely by feeding her 2 donuts in rapid succession and then standing at a distance of 5 yards and chucking candy grabbed out of a bucket at her. In reality its a photo of for all the parents and relatives lined up in the parade (marching with the kids) and along the side of the road. Plus I guess for the three other people awake in town at 7:30 AM on a Saturday its a bit of a thrill. Or a nuisance. Or both.

Now, given the fact that I'm generally a bit of a grinch when it comes to cheesy, contrived events (I put them on the same level as holidays which may have had some real significance but are now just fabricated to support the greeting card industry (see, you can bet where my opinion on the whole thing rested. Sure, kids love getting dressed up in costumes but that love seems to be on par with the thrill of sitting in an office chair and having dad spin you real fast (and the latter doesn't involve herding them into a car at ten to seven in the morning).

So anyway, to bring this post to a poignant, soul searching close, you can bet this whole shin dig had me reflecting back upon my life and what soccer/sports activities were like when I went through them. We'll suffice to say, back in my day we didn't have fancy uniforms and there definitely wasn't a parade just to celebrate the fact that the season was starting. You had to earn the fancy uniforms by being picked / qualifying for the inter-city traveling team and only then you got access to the spiffy home and away jerseys and gear bags with your name on them. No inter-city squad membership = team uniform that consisted of a crappy color t-shirt. And everyone had the same crappy t-shirts (no fancy uniforms allowed), which eliminated the "haves and have nots" friction between kids and quite frankly was more than enough of a uniform for first and second graders who spend more time kicking each others shins than they do the ball.

As a result it taught a valuable lesson on life - sure, money from your parents can buy you a lot of fancy things and make you look good on the outside. And people can give you trophies and parades for things you didn't really earn, which give a fleeting sense of happiness until the buzz wears off. But if deep down you suck at what you do and don't want to bother trying to get better at it you'll never really earn the good stuff.

So work your ass off and earn the neat-o gear bag.

Old School

Haha, one of many good videos from ttp://

You got a rip in your couch.

Monday, September 04, 2006

The Little Things in Life

I think somewhere in my initial post I promised to not talk about a) how great and/or adorable my children are nor b) burden you with sad tales from my childhood. But. given today's events its hard not to break the promise.

Our oldest daughter learned to ride her bike without training wheels today (with a lot less falling than I would have ever thought possible). I realize for those of you without children the importance of the last sentence may seem like the equivalent of me saying 'today I waxed my car' but trust me this is a big step. And despite what you want to remember/believe, when you learned to ride a bike it was pretty damn hard to do.

My wife and I took both girls to the park across the street with the intention of givng our older daughter a shot at trying to ride on two wheels and see if the younger one would take to it as well ('before' picture above) . True to a 3 year olds form, the younger one tried it a few times and quickly decided she'd rather go dig in the dirt near the swingset. But our older daughter picked up the basics within about 10 minutes (with grainy cell phone camera video posted at to prove it!).

By now you understand how I've broken rule a) above (I mean, taking video of it and posting it to a blog is a little bit of overkill) but it was b) that really struck me unexpectedly while all this bike balance training was going on. When I saw her ride that bike I literally had a flashback to the day I learned to ride my bike. It was a red little bike with some seriously geeked out chrome fenders. The place was the street in front of my house, which in its paving was studded with stones and was nothing like the smooth basketball court surface we took my daughter to. The 'training crew' consisted of my sister and some of my friends and the training procedure essentially consisted of my sister pushing me as fast as possible then letting go, me riding half a block triumphantly and then ditching the bike in the street in a colossial flame out. Then I would pick up the bike and walk back to the starting line so my sister and my friends could relentlessly taunt me about the many, many different ways I'd discovered that day to wipe out on a bike. (Which is not unnatural because people in New Jersey, especially kids, will taunt you about almost anything, no matter how inappropriate). Eventually I got the hang of it, learned to turn around and then headed back toward the crowd at full speed hell bent on running some people down.

So what, you ask? Through this entire flashback it struck me that my parents never assisted in nor did they take any interest in this or several other milestones in my life. Sure, they got me the bike (hand-me-down) and my dad worked very long hours to make sure we were able to get such things. But my mom was a stay at home mom. Apparently the excitement I felt today wanting to help my daughter get over this hurdle wasn't in her parental code book back in 1974.

And now its managed to taint an otherwise great day with some additional bitterness dredged up about my youth that I had long since forgotten about.