Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

No Matter What Growing Up Brings

I used to hate when my sister dated my friends in high school. We were about two and half years apart, and although there were only a few times that happened, it was a few times too many. One relationship in particular was verbally volatile and raucous at times, and I remember confronting him at school one day on her behalf, as well as another mutual friend who had talked smack about her.

There was always some overlap in mutual friends early on when we were children, and then again in high school. There was even an older girlfriend of hers I wanted to date, but never did, because it felt awkward. The awkwardness never affected my sister, though. God bless her for driving me a little batty back in the day.

We still led our own lives and had our own friends, but decades later, our mutual friends still ask about each of us. I can't imagine if we'd both been boys or girls and then shared mutual friends, how that dynamic would've been different, and/or remained the same.

However, I can imagine. Actually, don't have to imagine. Both the Mama (what I lovingly call my wife) and I live it now with our daughters, who are just two years apart. For years now they've both gone to school together since preschool, sharing groups of mutual friends, with many they still go to school with today.

That means periodically being invited jointly to birthday parties, playdates and other friend gatherings. Sometimes we'd even ask the inviting party if the other daughter could join them, whether that was Beatrice or Bryce. That seemed to work well for a few years, the happy well of childhood full of magical and timeless friendships. This meant kids running around together with complete unabashed glee, while us parents stood by and talked adult shop, smiling as our children flew by us.

But as is in life, things change. Now our oldest Beatrice is getting invited to sleepovers and playdates without Bryce. Sleepovers and playdates that included mutual friends that both girls had interacted with, and still do, but now it's different and will continue to be so.

Bryce was hurt at first, and we empathized, but she's had some of her own playdates of late and we've done our best to explain to them both, especially Bryce, that they both will be invited to different events now and will with different friends, and that's okay. When Beatrice was on her latest birthday sleepover with her friends, we took Bryce out for another "girl's" night out, plus Daddy.

The decoupling because of growing pains and pre-teen priorities has begun. And has only just begun. Our girls are close, and love each other, and we hope that love remains no matter what growing up brings.


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Cheating Is So Hard

And within 10 minutes, she cheated at least three times. Maybe more. She stole money, property titles and lied about how many moves she was supposed to make.

My beloved and trusted wife, who I lovingly call the Mama, had been a true grifter at heart all along. I caught her, not all the time, but I caught her; she was pretty sly with a wily sleight of hand.

Second to her was our youngest Bryce, and although she telegraphed every cheat she attempted, Bryce still attempted many nonetheless.

I must admit that I pulled off a few cheats myself, but it wasn't easy; I'm so used to following the traditional rules that go with the game. It takes a lot of energy to plan ahead to cheat, to execute the cheat, to not telegraph the cheat -- versus just playing the game as is should be played. I'm talking about Monopoly, the cheaters edition, something that Santa brought our family for Christmas last year.

Now, growing up, my sister and I used to play Monopoly and a related competitive game called Easy Money. According to Wikipedia, both were based on The Landlord's Game created by Elizabeth Magie in the United States in 1903 as a way to demonstrate that an economy which rewards wealth creation is better than one where monopolists work under few constraints, and to promote the economic theories of Henry George—in particular his ideas about taxation.

You know, where monopolists work under few constraints. What could go wrong, right?

Anyway, my sister and I always tried to pull fast ones on each other when we'd play. Her more than me, although she'd say me more than her. And we'd lose our patience with each other and the board would fly -- money, property titles, houses and hotels everywhere.

But damn, was it fun. Super fun. It still took a lot of energy for me to go all in for the big cheating, though. 

However, in retrospect, the occasional little cheats and lies were always easier to pull off. And research from a few years ago tells us just that. Dan Ariely, a professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, ran experiments with 30,000 people and found that very few people lie a lot, but almost everyone lies a little.

Sigh. 

Everyone lies a little. So, what's the lesson here for our kids? Why are we playing a game that celebrates the breaking of rules, the law and shredding the fabric of truth and integrity?

Alas, because it's fun. Damn that cliché that being bad feels so good. 

Except, the silver lining came from our oldest Beatrice, in the sweet salvation sound of four little words:

"Cheating is so hard."

Even when it's only a little bit. That's what I wanted to hear, my child. Amen.