Tag: life with kiddos (Page 1 of 6)

The fire is so delightful


The rain is really pounding outside.

It’s a good night for the first fire of the season in the wood stove. Outside, a cold November rain is falling–no, pounding–marking the end of a damp, bitter Veteran’s holiday. Kelly and I took the kids down to Concord mall to walk the great loop of stores, their festive decorations already out, sleigh bells alighting from upward in the rafters, a pervasive, fragrant spice following us from one shop to another, no agenda whatsoever.

I am not usually a fan of taking the children to the mall–mostly because it involves them jumping about on a soft, indoor playground while I sit at a table with the other parents, left to thumb our way around our phones while the kiddos chase each other around their walled dominion.

The Concord mall lacks a large, designated playspace, so we shopped, and the kids enjoyed looking–looking, not buying–and I made notes of what they lingered over most. Notes for later.

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The Ballad of Busy


Somewhere in between the balance of this crazy hustle is a sweet, sweet spot.

My alarm on weekday mornings goes off at 6:40 a.m. — the latest I can sleep in and still have just a few minutes with Kelly, Julia, and Thomas before they hop in the van and go to school. They are often basking in a half-episode of screen time, often the only television they get during the school week, which gives Kel the chance to pack backpacks and find order before departure. Then: kisses and hugs and good wishes and goodbyes.

Annie is still asleep and hopefully will be for another hour. I pull on my sneakers and go downstairs to the elliptical. Someone I do not know figured out I was Mrs. Hogan’s husband recently, and when we bumped into each other downtown last week, told me that his elementary-school aged daughter saw me working out most mornings. (The elliptical is in front of a window in the back of the house, where East Elementary School Road car-rider traffic crawls by.) So I discovered I am the brief entertainment of hundreds of children through the week.

I watch the news while I work out for 25 minutes, then drink a glass of cold water, then feed the bigger dog and scratch her ears for a couple of minutes. Then, time for a shower and shave, time to get dressed (quick check of my calendar for the day to determine if I can get away with a polo shirt; Thursday I could not), time to wake up Annie, who was stirring anyway.

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Put me in, Coach


Coaching varsity track was how I taught students in my English classes the concept of irony. And then came rec league soccer.

Fourteen years ago or so, over a holiday break, my principal called to talk to me about coaching varsity track and field at the high school where I was teaching English. The problems with that idea should have been obvious to me. I didn’t know the first thing about track, after all–I only ran in cases of emergency. I’d never even been to a track meet. My idea of a track coach was the gym teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off who chased kids around in a golf cart.

Life has its way of putting me into odd places, though, and soon that cold February I found myself on a rough asphalt ring behind the gym trying desperately to look like I knew what I was doing. I filled the time with running and sprinting drills–things I felt relatively sure about–but when it came time to fill out my first meet sheet (the roster of which athletes on your team will participate in which events), I remember having a conversation with one of the assistant coaches, Meaghann, in which she discovered I had no clue how it worked. If we’d been coaching football, it would have been as if she realized I didn’t know that you called plays for each down.

In time, we began to earn respectable finishes in our conference meets. We advanced teams to regional track events and even state track meets. I nagged the county athletic director until our school got a new track facility placed on the system’s capital improvements plan.

Occasionally I’d step in something that proved I still had a fragile grasp of how to coach serious sprinters, distance runners, jumpers, and throwers. And now and then a grumpy parent would loudly complain from the stands about what I wasn’t getting right. My gut reaction in those instances was to march into the bleachers, hand said parent my clipboard and stopwatch, and walk away.

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