A drawing broke my heart.(And an announcement!)

It was a normal day. A regular day. We started our morning routine…

“Bug, brush your teeth please…” Wifey was rallying the troops.

I watched as Lainy walked ever so slowly to the bathroom to fulfill her mom’s request. Something caught my eye on the TV and I made my way to the bathroom to brush my teeth also. I open the door and see my little one staring at the mirror while brushing her teeth.

Something was on the mirror….a drawing.

A drawing of a heart….with two initials in the middle of it. I looked at the drawing….I looked at Bug.

 

“Bug, what’s that?”

She looked shocked….and tried to erase it with her hands. But, the damage was done. I knew what that was. A heart…with the initials of a boy in her class. I didn’t know what to say. And proceeded to say the absolute worst thing possible.

 

“Bug….no…no…Bug…please don’t tell me…no.”

I walked out and told my wife what I had seen…and what I had said.

 

“Hon…you can’t say that…she needs to feel that she can confide in us. Good things and bad…even stuff with boys.”

“No, I’m not ready for this…I am not ready for THAT kinda stuff.”

I drove her to school the next day and remained pretty silent. Bug knew that I wasn’t my normal self.

“Daddy…not much traffic today right? I hate traffic. You hate traffic too right?”

She is smart….she poses lots of questions to get me to talk.

“Yeah baby…I do.”

“Hey…its the song you like? I think I like it too.”

“Yes I do like this song…”

And she started to sing it outloud…but changing the words…to include the phrase “I don’t like vegetables” in it. She was trying to make me laugh.

I giggled and she went into her attack mode with her attempts to make me laugh. She won. I couldn’t be mad….or sad.

I dropped her off and watched her walk into school. It seemed different me. I knew this day would come…that boys would not be just classmates anymore. I drove off with watery eyes.

 

I picked her up and saw her come out of her class…with the “boy.” I knew whose initials those were in that drawn heart. She waved at me. I waved back. I imagined myself talking to the “boy.”

 

“So…uhh yeah. Do you know what you want to be when you grow up? How’s your credit score? Grades? What makes you think you can take care of my baby girl? Tell me…tell me now.”

It made me laugh inside. It was ridiculous, but there comes a point at when every father feels that. And it was my time. And I realized that I will never be ready for that. Not now…not when she graduates from high school…college…It is just something that a parent just has to expect and deal with.

 

I know it’s been a while…but I’ve been busy on projects. Now, I am a freelance writer. I write for parenting websites, sports websites, and even some celebrity websites. I am focusing less on those and working on a project that I am extremely excited about. If you know me, I am an avid video game player. And you may know my “story.” I have been hired as a writer for a video game website that will be launched tomorrow. This is an absolute dream for me. But, what makes this extra special to me is what this website will do for the community of gamers out there. If you know “my story,” it will make more sense. There is a community of gamers who may have been through what I have been through…and this website will help be a voice for them…a voice to help…a voice to heal. Stay tuned.

(Just in case you were wondering. “hey dan, what was that song your little one said you liked? And that she started singing but changed the words to say ‘i hate vegetables…?)

 

Here it is.

 

 

 

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A parent’s worry….confirmed.

A few months ago, I dropped off my little one at school. I parked the car and began the walk to her classroom.

“Ok, Bug…I will pick you up and you can come to practice with me ok? Or do you want to go the Boys & Girls Club so you can play with your friends?”

She was silent.

“I want to go with you….to practice.”

I didn’t pay attention to it.

The next day, she had a school holiday and gave her two options.

“Ok, Bug…we don’t have practice so I will take you to the Boys & Girls Club ok?”

She was silent again….

“Bug? Ok? Or…I don’t know…you can stay with Mom at her work. I have to ask her if its ok, though.”

She perked up.

“I want to go to mom’s work….”

“Really? Are you sure? You will just be sitting there…playing video games. You don’t want to play with your friends and the Boys & Girls Club?”

“No…I want to go with mom.”

I told wifey about it….and she did her detective work. Well, she “played detective” and tried to dig deeper to see if something was going on. My wife’s job is not a detective. She doesn’t sit around at a desk…in a trench coat and old-timey hat…walking around with a big magnifying glass…looking for clues. And when she finds one she says out loud:

“EUREKA! I found it! I knew it…it was Ol’ Man Johnson…in the library…with the candlestick. He’s gonna be put away for a long time….thanks to me.”

And I am sure she would love that job. But back to my story…this is a serious one.

Bug spent the day with Mom at work. And she called me later that day.

“So, I found out why Lainy doesn’t want to go to the Boys & Girls Club….she is getting bullied.”

My heart dropped….and I could feel anger fill my body.

“What! By who? What are they doing to her? Who is it?”

“A boy…an older boy. He calls her names…bad words…and sometimes he pushes her and her friends.”

“Ok…my turn to play detective.” Now when I play detective…I am not as smooth. I don’t ask a question…to get to another one…and another one. I am an emotional person…so I go guns blazing. So remember how my wife as a detective? Walking around in a brown trench coat…with an old-timey hat…and a big magnifying glass? Yelling..EUREKA! This is me as a detective. Imagine a criminal sitting in an interrogation room by himself….and the room has one of those two-way mirrors, where the criminal can’t see you…but you can see them. I would be behind the glass. And my partner would turn to me and say.

“Look…we don’t know if he did it…ok? We don’t have a warrant…so we can’t search his car or his seedy hotel room. Let me handle this.”

And I would say, “The scumbag is guilty…just look at his haircut. That is a guilty haircut…his hair is telling the truth…but his face is not. No way would he pay to have his hair cut like that…that’s guilt…that’s what that is.”

And then my partner would say, “What are you talking about? His hair is guilty? You want me to walk in there…say, ‘you’re guilty, because your hair looks like a guilty haircut…”

“…Exactly, you are finally learning, partner.”

Then he would laugh…and walk into the room with the criminal. And be all nice.

“Hey…need a cup of coffee or anything like that?”

And it would make me mad behind the glass…I would say stuff like.

“Coffee? What is this a darned Starbucks or Peet’s Coffee? You gonna give him a chocolate croissant with that soft questioning…” And I would storm into the room and knock over a chair.

“We know you did it….got multiple witnesses….save yourself some time by just fessing up right now. American Idol is on TV tonight, and I want to get home in time to watch Ryan Seacrest. Don’t make me miss Ryan Seacrest? You want that? You want me angry? You won’t like me when I’m angry.”

And then my partner would come in with the coffee cup for the criminal…and I would take it from him…take a sip…and throw the cup on the ground. Oh yeah, I am an angry detective.

So, yes that’s me…I get right to the point with my questioning. And yes, I watch American Idol…it’s the last season, c’mon.

I called the head director at the Boys & Girls Club to find out what was going on.

She told us that there were a few reportings about this boy…

“Well, if that’s the case? And he’s been doing this numerous times…over and over again. Why is he still allowed at here? He is putting the kids safety in danger.”

 

I pictured my little one…getting called a bad word…and then pushed to the ground by this bully. And it infuriated me.

“Can we meet? I will bring my daughter…maybe she can point him out.”

The director agreed. She hung up. But that didn’t calm my nerves. This was not going to give me peace until this whole situation was resolved. I HATE bullying. I do not tolerate it at all. I was bullied as a kid, so it struck a special nerve with me. And my passion is working for the youth of tomorrow. So, hearing or reading on the news about bullying and its consequences always sets me off. Bullying was different back when I was younger…it is much worse now. Our children get bullied at school and on social media. And all this can happen without us even knowing it. We have all seen tragic ends to bullying. I HATE bullying. And this was happening to my little one. Our jobs are to make sure our little ones are safe…and feel safe wherever they go. And she was not feeling safe at the Boys & Girls Club.

A week later, I was told the bully….no longer went to the Boys & Girls club. The director left a message to notify me…and other parents. This was a collective win, I am sure. I am sure that other parents chimed in on this issue to the director. But, it was the resolution we wanted.

Now as parents, sometimes we have to play “detective.” And the one we have to interrogate is our own children. All joking aside, I know I poke fun a lot. But, this is not an issue I play around with. If I have any minor clue that this is going on…I work to fix it. And unfortunately, our kids tend to tell us less as they get older. Sometimes, we have to be creative and find these things out on our own….like real detectives.

Me, boring?

I was half-listening to the radio on the way to work just minding my own business. When the radio guy started talking about a study he wanted to talk about. He said a list just came out with the “Most boring cities in California.”

I was a bit interested. And started to make internal guesses for which cities made the list. None of the cities I guessed were on the list…but that wasn’t the surprising part. This conversation was what got my attention:

 

“Well, what is this list judged on? Like, how do they actually calculate how ‘boring’ a city is?”

“…one of the categories is ‘the amount of people that live in the city that are over the age of 35.”

My face soured when I heard that.

Wait? What? Over 35? I am 36 years old. And according to this list…I am one of the reasons a city MAY be boring?

I reached my destination and sat in my car for a few minutes. I pulled out my Drivers License. This guy? The guy in this picture..is boring? I started to analyze my life.

Married. Yes. Kid. Yes. Stable jobs…yes. That’s boring? I thought about my hobbies.

 

Video games. Baseball. Basketball. Sports. Eating anything. Writing. Hanging out with friends. Is that not normal for a boring 36 year old man?

And I looked at my life now…compared to when I was 21.

At 21, I had not clue what I wanted. My major was Telecommunications…and I had no idea what that was. It just sounded cool to me at the time. I partied. And I was broke. But, life was an adventure. I had no idea where I would end up on a friday night…and that got me in trouble.

 

At 36, I am married. Have a kid. And have found a passion in writing. My fridays are now spent with my family watching TV together, exploring, but my life has become predictable. But, to me, predictable is safe. When I was younger, life was unpredictable and that got me in trouble. Now, I know what every day will be like. And I am happy with that.

Is it boring to want to be in bed at a reasonable hour? Is it boring to sit on my couch…channel surf and find a random documentary on honey badgers…and say outloud:

“..ooooh. Honey badgers….Watch out bird.”

Is it boring that I enjoy walking around Farmer’s Markets and buy fruits and vegetables?

Is it boring that I try to plan my days around areas that have the LEAST amount of people around?

Is it boring that my perfect night would be having dinner and watching a movie with my family surrounded by candy and popcorn with extra butter?

But, that’s adult life. I am not that unpredictable 21 year old guy who couldn’t stand being in one place longer than 5 minutes. I had to keep moving.

And at 36, I cherish every minute when I can STAY in one place with NOTHING to do.

21 year-olds wake up late. 36 year-olds wake up early every day because we have to. We have responsibilities. We make breakfast…and sit at our tables and say interesting things like:

“Hey hon, check this out..blankets are on sale at Target. Maybe we should go?”

We talk about the weather. And it is riveting.

“This rain..is really making it difficult on my commute.”

Or:

“I know we need the rain…due to the drought. And I hope that we can start watering our lawn again. Our front yard is looking a little brown right now.”

Exciting right? Or did you fall asleep reading this boring post written by a boring 36-year old?

 

 

 

You stole my girl. (Daily Prompt)

I have three jobs….sort of. And with these three jobs comes a LOT of driving. And with all that driving comes traffic. For example, on the drive home last night from coaching basketball, it took me 2 hours and 15 minutes to get home. Bumper to bumper traffic. It is exhausting and useless time doing nothing but sitting and waiting. But, what makes my drive even more boring is not the traffic itself. It’s these guys:

 

Brit Awards 2012 - Arrivals - London

 

I am sure you know who these guys are…and if you don’t because you live in a cave with no power….and no MTV….no access to radio….or social media, then let me introduce you to the mega boy band One Direction. I’m sure when some of you saw the picture above, something inside you screamed like a teenager at a Justin Bieber concert. And if you love One Direction, I know what you are saying.

 

“What? One Direction? Why do they make your long car ride even more boring than it already is? What do you have against this group of handsome men? Why hate on them? They make beautiful music that bring tears to my ears….and yes, I am aware that is physically impossible for ears to cry…but these guys have the power to do that…make ears physically cry. In fact, Dan, everytime I listen to a One Direction song, I have to get a box of tissues and stuff them in my ears…because my ears get flooded with tears when I hear them sing. So, you know what Dan? You are just jealous. That’s it…You wish you could sing like them…and I have heard your voice…it is very Kermit the Frog-like. So take that.”

And I would say.

“Ok, calm down lover of all things One Direction. I have nothing against those guys, ok? And now I’m worried about your ears. Because, that doesn’t seem healthy…you know, the tears coming out of the ears thing that you suffer from. I mean, if you are listening to One Direction…and you are wearing ear buds…and now you have wet ear buds? I mean, just see a doctor…for me, please. You didn’t let me elaborate on why my ride is boring because of them.”

My little one is obsessed with these guys. Every waking hour, she is watching videos of them on Youtube. And constantly has these conversations with me.

 

“Daddy…look at Niall’s hair in this video. It’s different in this video. Last time it looked like this….and his clothes are shiny in this one. But, in the other video it is not shiny. Right?”

“Niall? His name is Niall? With two Ls in it? I’ve never heard of him…I only know one Nile…and its a river…yeah, the Nile river. Which is something you should learn in school. We should worry more about the Nile river…than NIALL’s haircut.”

And guess who was on TV four times on New Year’s Eve? You guessed it, One Direction. Now, I am like every other normal human being on New Year’s Eve…I sit down in front of the TV surrounded by bad food that will clog my arteries…and right around 10, I fall asleep. And then I wake up at like 2 in the morning, and say outloud:

 

“Happy new year….” And then I go back to drooling on my pillow. You too? I knew it, that’s why we are such good friends.

But, I couldn’t do that this year. No, because One Direction was performing at 1:45 in the morning. My 7-year old daughter had her eyes glued to the TV set waiting for them to perform.

 

“Dad? What song do you think they will sing? Because they sang the other songs I like already….well, I like all the songs….what song do you like Dad?”

“None of them…I like none of them. In fact, the best sound I can hear right now is silence…like we turn off the TV…silence like that.”

It makes me worry. Because this is just another sign that my little one is growing up. I mean, she likes their music…is that the only reason she likes them? I like the jingle in McDonald’s commercials..that’s music…but does that mean I talk about McDonald’s all the time? Well, wait..that’s a bad example because I do talk about that place all the time. You get the point right?

So, if its not just the music she likes….it has to be that she thinks they are cute. She is too young to be worrying about how cute guys are. She should be watching cartoons or coloring in coloring books…it makes me sad just thinking about it.

 

You did it, One Direction. You stole my girl. See what I did there? Get it? One of their songs is “Steal My Girl.”…so yeah, you stole my little girl.

And why do I have such extensive knowledge of their songs? BECAUSE I HAVE TO LISTEN TO THEIR MUSIC EVERY TIME I SIT IN THE CAR. Sorry, I didn’t mean to yell at you. So, last night was two hours straight of One Direction. And in the morning it’s an hour straight of One Direction. And on the drive home today…it will be another hour of One Direction.

 

Today’s daily prompt asks us….what bores you? For me, it’s traffic…while listening to non-stop One Direction. And just for fun, here is “Steal My Girl.”

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/yawn/

Oh…Oh…Oh no you didn’t.

There are certain things that will set us off. Things that rile us up. Sometimes it’s a topic. And sometimes our loved ones know the exact things to say to get you worked up. We all have that one friend who loves to say uncomfortable things just to see what will happen next.

 

“Hey…let’s talk about your views on politics…war…religion….and let me disagree with each one…and argue with you even though I really don’t have an opinion…I just like to fight.”

For me, it’s a word. One word. And when it’s said in any discussion, it drives me crazy. Well, it’s also the tone in the way it is said. A few days ago, the word entered my life again.

This interaction happened during one of my many jobs.

 

“Let me see…Ok, is this food or soup in this container?”

“Food….who cares? Why does it matter?”

“Well, I just have to weigh it a little differently…and not scan the container.”

And then the man said it. The word.

“…whatever.”

I paused.

“Ok, your total is ___”

“….whatever.”

Whoa, was that twice? I stopped again. I collected myself and helped the next customer. Problem was, that particular customer wasn’t done with our interaction. I turned to the next customer and said.

“How’s it goin’ sir? Did you find everything you needed?”

The previous customer was still there…and leaned over the counter to interrupt me and the new customer…and said:

“…WHATEVER.”

That’s right…three. Three “whatevers.”

Why did he do that? And how did he know that was “my word.” Did he secretly know that was the word that made my blood boil?

I know what you are thinking.

 

“So…so? What did you do Dan? Did you jump over the counter and give the ‘whatever’ man a judo chop? That’s what I would do…I would have jumped ON the counter and did a jump kick…yeah, a jump kick. Or maybe a roundhouse kick.”

And I would say.

“Whoa..whoa karate master…relax ok? Why so violent? This happened to me…not you ok? So, don’t go randomly judo chopping pedestrians ok?”

I didn’t do anything….in fact. After the last “whatever,” I laughed. It became funny to me. That man heard me laugh. And you know what he did when he heard me laugh?

He laughed too.

Sometimes, we just have to look at things differently. He was angry…and tried to make me angry. And in that process, we both realized it was hilarious. In fact, I bet you can recall a few heated moments in your past that are funny now. You probably had a situation where someone tried to rile you up…and make you mad because they were mad. And sometimes that person is us….we are angry and try to rile up others around us. We are all guilty of that.

Its in that moment…where you just have to say “whatever.” Just make sure I’m not around when you say it…haha!

 

 

 

Cringe-worthy (Daily Prompt)

Face it, you think you are cool. We ALL think we are cool. Every day of our lives, we wake up….get ready for our day….pick out an outfit…look in the mirror after it’s all done…and we say this to ourselves:

“Oh yeah…that’s what I’m talkin about…look out world…cause guess who is about to step outside the door…me..yeah, that’s right…this guy right here…”

Wait, you don’t say that too? Fine, just me.

But, seriously, you probably like the way you dress…you like your hair…that’s why you wear your hair like that! You have your own style. And I may not know you in real life, but I am sure it is awesome!

And then one day, someone reminds you of what you looked like in the past…it could be a loved one, old friend, or cruel friend depending on the situation.

“Oh my gosh…look what i found!”

And boom…it’s on your Facebook page. And you remembered how you were really into Madonna or Vanilla Ice during that time….so you dressed like this:

madonna-80s

..I know. Embarrassing right?

 

Or if you were a guy you dressed like this:

 

vanilla_ice 80s usa coat

…I know, right?

 

Unfortunately, I was the latter. I loved Vanilla Ice…I copied his dance moves. I memorized all his lyrics…and tried to talk like him.

 

“Hey, Dan! How’s it goin?”

“Oh you know…to the extreme….word to your mutha.”

What does that even mean? I know.

Why would I even use the word “extreme” there? People use that word when they want to describe heat…or exhaustion…or diarrhea.

A few weeks ago, a loved one found some old videos of me and my cousins as kids. We were at a birthday party playing a very excited game of musical chairs. In the video my hair was a mess….I had a cast on because I had sprained my wrist during basketball practice…and for some unknown reason, started to break out into dance. No, I won’t post it here, nice try though. I have no way to describe the dance…but it was a mix of bouncing and bobbing my head like a chicken and swinging from side to side punching from left to right. The mental image alone will make you dizzy. And just like that, it was posted on Facebook. I knew impending doom was coming because I started to receive text messages from people telling me to check Facebook NOW. But, I didn’t. I let the embarrassing video linger in social media. When I arrived home, my wife looked at me and started to giggle.

“Have you…uh….checked Facebook yet?”

And that’s when I saw it…and it was hilarious. Horrible yes, but I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

But we all have those moments….past pictures or videos we hope no one ever sees…but, we realize that the embarrassment will probably never end. Because you know that video of you doing your Karaoke version of that boy band? Yeah, it’s out there. Or that one wedding reception where you were a little too enthusiastic during “The Electric Slide” or “Funky Chicken” dance…yeah, someone has that.

And when that time bomb appears….on your wall…or in a text message thread sent to ALL of your friends and family…don’t get mad…you’re still cool.

 

Today’s daily prompt asks us what is more embarrassing…seeing yourself on camera…or your voice. Well, my voice is pretty annoying too…but, myself on camera is winning by just a bit.

 

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/cant-stand-me/

Something disappeared.

thegrinch

I woke up this past Monday and walked through our hallway and toward the kitchen to make my little one’s lunch box. After putting her lunch box in her backpack I stopped to look at my surroundings. Christmas was still in our living room. The tree stood there fully decorated….the stockings still hanging on our fireplace. It made me sad because the holidays disappeared. I thought about it on the drive to work and realized something was missing during the holiday season….my Christmas spirit. There comes a moment when you feel it….I can’t really explain it, but this joy you feel, it’s different. You can feel happiness…or joy…but feeling Christmas spirit is stronger…deeper. Did I become a Bah Humbug this year? A Mr. Grumpy Grumperson?  No, but I let the holiday season slip by. I didn’t sit and enjoy it ….I didn’t relish it.

I know what you are saying.

 

“What is this? This….Christmas spirit you are talking about? Spirits? Do you believe in ghosts? Or are you talking about spirits like alcohol? Is there a new alcoholic drink called “christmas spirit” that the college kids are drinking? And if so, why are you drinking this Christmas alcohol, Dan? Are you an alcoholic? Do I need to stage an intervention for you?”

 

And I would say.

“Its complicated, ok? I told you, I can’t explain it. And yes, I do believe in ghosts…you ever notice that it gets harder and harder to find matching socks whenever you leave the house? Did the dryer gobble them up? Nope, ghosts take them…my socks never match. And while we are on the subject of socks….why do socks even need to match? They are hidden under our pants…and tucked away in shoes…no one else is gonna see that your socks don’t match. Friendships haven’t ended because your socks didn’t match. You don’t have a friend who was like, ‘you know I think you are awesome…but your sock game is terrible…they don’t even match…this is over.’ And no I am not an alcoholic…but being in an intervention does sound cool…but I’m only addicted to food sorry. But, if you want to stage an intervention with all my closest friends and family to stop me from eating…you are wasting your time, my friend.”

 

And you would say.

“I like matching socks, Dan. What are you saying about me? Are you insulting my fashion choices? I like socks that go together with my outfit. What’s wrong if no one sees them? I know, deep down inside that my socks match…even if no one gets to see them. Have you been looking through my sock drawer? That’s extremely personal. And that fight that I had with my BFF about my socks not matching was supposed to be just between you and us…and now you just told everyone…well, not everyone…but now its on the internet…and that will last forever.”

 

And I would say.

“Ok, look…I am not insulting your fashion or taste in socks. I’m sorry, ok? This argument we are having is going all over the place. Let’s just be friends again ok? I won’t bring up your socks again.”

And you would forgive me….and let me continue writing this post.

As children, Christmas is king. We dream about presents….and how Santa will visit us. We sit on his lap and tell him what we want for Christmas. We count down the days til that day. We leave cookies and milk for him and have sleepless nights waiting for that day to come. You can see Christmas spirit in the eyes of little ones everywhere.

Ok, look…I have to interrupt this post again. Yes, Santa is not real. I know that, and just figured that out 3 years ago. But, isn’t the whole idea of “Santa” a little creepy?

I know what you are saying.

“Oh my gosh, Dan. First you insult my fashion choices…and now you say Santa is creepy? And you found out he wasn’t real only THREE years ago? Aren’t you like 36 years old? So you literally were 33 when you found this out…”

And I would say.

“Look…think about it. On Christmas day….a guy all dressed in red….breaks INTO your house…and doesn’t steal stuff…he actually LEAVES stuff for  you. Three years ago I asked Santa to pay my water bill for me…I even left the water bill right next to the cookies and milk…but he ate the cookies…drank the milk…and left the bill behind. That’s when I knew….now, can I finish? Seriously?”

For adults, Christmas changes for us. Our job turns into making Christmas magical for our little ones. We do our research…figure out what our little one’s heart desires…and make sure they enjoy these holidays. And in that process, we get lost. We get stressed out…we lose sight of how we are feeling inside. Yes, presents are nice…but as adults, we have to try extra hard to feel that spirit. Life gets extra busy during this time. And while we bless our families and friends, realize that others may not be able to enjoy the same things that we do. We can’t lose sight on humanity. There are people hurting…struggling. You can see Christmas spirit in a little one’s eyes….but you can also see hurt and pain in eyes too. You ever talk to someone you have never met before…and accidentally catch eyes with them…and literally see sadness in their eyes. You don’t know them…never had a discussion with them…but you could see pain in their eyes. That breaks my heart. This is a time for family and friends…but it should also be a time to bless others…and build them up. You will get your opportunity to do it…what you do with it is up to you.