Sick Days

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891)

The Doctor, by Sir Luke Fildes (1891) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I’m staying home from work.  I’m staying home from work because my oldest daughter is sick.  She had a stomach ache and nausea last night after dinner, and she woke up with those two symptoms, and a headache and sore throat on top of that.  It sucks, for her, of course, but also for me.  As a father, I hate seeing my children suffering.  Nonetheless, here I am.

The worst thing about it, other than my daughter’s discomfort, is that this is a bad time to be away from work for me.  Next week is the paper mill’s annual maintenance down, and I have a million and seven things to do yet to prepare.  So, I suppose I’ll have to take my lumps on Monday and hustle my big bum around the mill.

But, since I’m home, I figured it’d be a good time to write a post or two on this here blog before the dust gets too thick upon it.

Anyway, my daughter’s sick day got me to thinking – I hated to stay home from school when I was sick.  I would much rather suck it up and get through the day so I wouldn’t get behind in my work.  This habit has followed me into adulthood.  I don’t like taking sick days.  I’d rather go to work and get something done, even if it is only half my usual work output, than stay home feeling like sorry for myself.  Maybe it’s pride, maybe it’s my work ethic, or maybe it’s subconscious masochism, but I have to do whatever work I have on my plate.

This reminds me of one day in high school.  For a couple of weeks, I had been feeling like garbage – fever, headache, sore throat, drained of energy, you get the idea.  My muscles ached!  I had a hard time walking, picking up my backpack, heck – even holding up my head.  One thing that I had never felt before this time, though, was my eye muscles.  Well, the muscles that you use to move your eyes up, down, left and right.  Even those muscles ached.  I had never even given those muscles a second thought.  But, I couldn’t ignore them now, not when even they were screaming at me for using them.

English: Miniature of the sick-bed of Louis le...

English: Miniature of the sick-bed of Louis le Gros, with doctors administering medicine with a spoon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One event in particular I recall about this time was when I was talking to my friend Quigs in school.  I told him about how crappy I was feeling, and explained to him how even my eyes were hurting.  “What?  That doesn’t even make any sense,” he laughed.  “Well, if I move my eyes up, down, left, right, the muscles hurt,” I explained.  “So, if I hold your head steady,” he said, mimicking with his hands how he would hold my head, “then say, ‘Hey, Mark, look over there,’ then you would be in pain?”  “Yeah, Quigs, that’s right,” I answered.  He laughed about it, and, I have to day, so did I.  Granted, the laughing hurt, but I wasn’t going to let pain stop me from enjoying myself.

So, I guess that’s another habit I carried with me into adulthood – I ignore my pain and discomfort, and just plug along.  Maybe it’s not the best thing to do.  Oh, well.

So, how about you?  Do you force yourself through work or school when you’re sick?  Or do you take the day off to rest and get better?

Of Daughters, Writing, And Blogging

You may have noticed in some of my previous posts that I am a father to three beautiful, intelligent, wonderful daughters who never cease to amaze me and make me proud.  Well, recently, the two older girls came to me with a request that has me bursting with pride.

The Proposal

“Daddy,” they said, “we were talking about it, and we want to start a blog.  We’ll write the articles ourselves – they’ll be about fashion and book reviews and that sort of stuff.”

Pleasantly surprised, I said, “Wow, that’s great!  But, you know, you have to be careful not to say anything about yourselves specifically.  You need to keep your identity from random crazy people.”

“We know – we already talked about that.  We’re going to come up with fake names and write stuff like, ‘Hi this is Blah, and I was thinking….'”

Wow.  They already figured out that they were going to use pseudonyms, and how to use them.  “But we need your help to start it, because we don’t know how to set up a blog, or where to go to do it.”

“OK,” I answered, “I’ll talk to Mommy about it, and if we think it’s OK, we’ll go ahead with it.”

“YAY!”

The Deliberation

Blogging is relatively new to me, at least as far as my own experience is concerned.  I have two blogs, both less than a year old, and a far cry from anything close to even semi-known.  But, like most bloggers I presume, I write because I want and like to write.  Of course, it wasn’t too long ago, in college even, that I hated writing.  Even a few simple paragraphs were enough to have me pulling my hair out in frustration.  I do not want my daughters to feel that way, and this is one way to foster a love of writing in them at the early ages of nine and eleven.

But, I am concerned about their safety.  The last thing I want is for them to be in the spotlight personally.  The pseudonyms can be there, but that’s their purpose.  If we allow this blog idea to happen, I will take every last precaution to keep them safe.

Another concern of mine, and you may not know this, is that people on the Internet can be not nice, even downright mean!  I swear – it’s true!  Now, I do plan to mitigate this by turning on comment moderation and filter the comments myself.  Also, I plan to set up anonymous e-mail for contact, and be the only one to read that, at least at first.  But, I admit, the mean people don’t concern me as much as the crazy people.  I plan to explain this to them, and use it to teach them how to handle criticism.  This is a lesson they should learn earlier in life rather than later.

The Decision

So, what’s the result?  Well, I’ll be honest – my wife and I haven’t quite decided yet.  Like I said, I want to nurture in them that love of writing, because I know it is a skill that will serve them well in life.  I also want them to learn to live with criticism, and to use to to improve themselves.  But I don’t want to expose them to any dangers, either.

In the meantime, they have been bugging me to make the blog already.  I love their enthusiasm, and am proud of their tenacity.  I know that we have to decide soon before those fires die down.

How about you?  Do you have or know of any children who write their own blogs?  What advice can you give my wife and me?  How about for my daughters?

Sunday Funday - Check It Out!

Daddy Moment #5239: School Play

I have to take a moment to write about my middle daughter, Gabriella.  Based solely on each of their personalities now, I have predictions about what each of them will be when they grow up.  Gabriella, as far I can prognosticate, will be the entertainer of the family.  Thus, it was no surprise to me when she announced that she would audition for her school musical play.  Moreover, she was aiming for a solo.  I told her to do her best, study for the part, and that I would be rooting for her to win.

Of course, I, being the pragmatist I am, prepared myself for the role of consoler.  I knew there would be many children vying for the same part.  Add to that the fact that she had never performed on stage before, and I thought there was a good chance that my Little Angel would learn a lesson in disappointment.

My Little Angel, Gabriella

Last Thursday was audition time.  My mother, God bless her for her help, went to the school that day to pick her up.  “It was pure chaos,” she told me.  “There had to have been a hundred children trying out for this play!”  “Wow,” I thought, “even if she’s exaggerating, there had to be dozens of kids there.”  My heart sank a little for my daughter.  Competition was fierce.

Days passed, and Gabriella kept saying, “I can’t believe I have to wait until Tuesday to hear if I got the part!  WHY ISN’T TUESDAY HERE YET?!?”  Handling anticipation with patience is not one of her strong points.  “Don’t worry, Shorty, it’ll be here before you know it.  OK,” I said to her.  Again… and again… and again…

So, yesterday, Tuesday rolls around.  Much to my surprise, no play news was forthcoming.  My wife had Gabriella and Nicoletta, my youngest daughter, when I picked up Alessandra from my parents’ house.  I got called into work before they came home, so even if she heard anything, I wasn’t there to receive the news.  My wife didn’t say anything when I came home again, so I shrugged it off and went to bed.

The next day after work, I was the first one to get home.  While I was outside with Cooper, our dog, my wife came home with the kids.  When he finished his business, I brought Cooper into the garage.  My wife met me there.  “Daddy,” she said, “Gabriella has something to tell you.”  (Yes, we’re one of those couples who call each other Daddy and Mommy when our kids are around.)  Gabriella came out, head drooping down.  “Um, Daddy,” she moped, “I heard about the play.”  “Oh, yeah?  What did you hear,” I asked.  Her pout turned into hiding smile, then a wide-mouthed, toothy grin, “I got – I made – I… I got the part!”  She just about burst with the joy.  “You got the part?  You got the part!  That’s great, Angel,” I blurted proudly.  “Well,” she said, “it’s not a solo.  It’s a trio, though.  There’s two of them, but I’m in one!”  “AWESOME,” I shouted as I picked her up in a big hug.  She laughed and squealed joyfully.

So, out of dozens of candidates, my Little Angel, Gabriella, was one of six selected for the part.

I am so, so, terribly proud of her.

Congratulations, Gabriella.

Common Experiences

A short post today, consisting of a reaction I had earlier.

It occurred to me that there are so many things that divide us as a species.  Every one of us can look at another human being and easily see what is different.  We so readily define others as “What I am not.

Gender.  Gender ambiguity.  Racial identity.  Sexual orientation.  Religion.  Faith.  Religious denomination.  Economic status.  Nationality.  Political affiliation.  Sports.  Sports teams.  Diet.  Body shape.  Physical ability.  Physical disability.  Eye color. Eye shape.  Sickness.  Health.

All of these, whether apparent or not, are ways that we, as human beings, separate other human beings from ourselves.  I believe this is the source of many conflicts between us.  “You are different from me!”  Anger, loud words, war, oppression, and many other evils arise from this sense of “other,” or “unlike me.”

But then, I thought of two things, only two things, that we all share.  No matter the divisions between us, we all can claim them as our own.  This is part of our human condition.  What unites us.  What no one human can deny.

My Youngest Daughter, 2 Minutes Old

Birth.  Every human has a birth.

Death.  Every human will die.

Every human will experience joy at experiencing the birth of someone close to them.

Every human will grieve for the death of someone close to them.

As the two universal experiences, I go out of my way to acknowledge them with anyone.

I will purposely stop and wish someone a Happy Birthday when I know their birthday is near.

I will purposely stop and offer congratulations to someone who is expecting or has had a birth in their family or close circle of friends.

I will purposely stop and offer my condolences to anyone when I know they have lost someone dear to them.

I will purposely stop and offer a sympathetic ear to anyone who is near their death.

I try to focus on what we, as humans, have in common.  From there, I believe, we can build a better relationship with all people.

Parental Skills – Santa Claus & Thinking On Your Feet

Sometimes you set yourself up.  Sometimes, in the interest of expedience, you get that sudden moment of “Uh-oh!”

My father’s birthday is January 4th, a mere ten days after Christmas.  Now, the topic of having a birthday so close to Christmas is enough to fill five blog posts, I’m sure.  Fortunately, that’s only tangential to this one.

I was about to start wrapping my father’s birthday present.  It was a pretty large box, and I didn’t have enough wrapping paper.  So, I sent my nine-year-old daughter into the garage.  “Gabriella, get Daddy some wrapping paper.  It has to be a big roll with enough paper on it, and look good for a birthday, OK?”  “OK, Daddy,” she replied.

She came back in with a short roll of paper.  “Daddy, this is all we have.”  “That won’t do at all.  Look for something else,” I said as I sent her back.

She came back in with a large roll of Christmas paper.  She had a curious look on her face.  “Daddy, do you know what’s weird?  I noticed that we have the same wrapping paper as Santa Claus!  It’s all there: the paper he used for my gifts, Alessandra’s gifts and Nicoletta’s gifts!”

My mind raced.  She still believes, and I had to say something.  To myself I thought, “What do I say?  What do I say?  What do I say?  What do I say?”

“Oh, that’s because, um, Mommy and I were running low on paper for other people’s gifts.  Santa noticed, and, being the nice guy that he is, left that for us to use.  Wasn’t that cool of him?”  I waited for her response.  A second later, she said, “Oh.  He’s good at giving, isn’t he?”

“…He sure is.”

Phew!

From The Mouths Of Babes – Billie Jean Lyrics

Silly lyrics from my daughters… in this case, my then-six-year-old middle daughter.

We had listened to Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean more than a few times, and she decided to sing it one day.  The song was not playing at the time – actually, no music was playing; she just decided to sing the song without any prompting:

Oh, Billie Jean’s got my glove.

She’s just a girl who

Claims that I am a bum.

But her chair’s not that fun!

Hoo-hoo-hoo.

Uh-hoo-hoo-hoo.

I laughed.  She asked, “Daddy, what’s so funny?”

“Oh, Angel, I, um, just thought of something that happened a long time ago,” I replied.

She’s the one who is sensitive, and I dare not hurt her feelings.  Still, it was funny, and I will remember it for a long time.

My children are an endless source of joy for me.

Math-Minded Dad: Ages

I’ve mentioned previously that I am a very logical-minded person, and that I am passionate about math.  I allow this to influence my parenting methods, especially as a former teacher.

In this light, please allow me to share a recent exchange between my 11-year-old daughter, Alessandra, and me.

It began in a typical father-daughter conversation, where she decided to ignore my advice about something or other.  Naturally, I was proven right a few minutes later.

I said to her, “Now you, see, Alessandra?  Didn’t I tell you that you shouldn’t have done it that way?”

“Yes, Daddy,” she said, her eyes rolling audibly.

“Don’t you know how much longer I’ve been living than you?”  My question made her squint.

“What do you mean?”

“You had a milestone birthday last year,” I said, “right?”

“Yeah,” she said curiously.  “I turned ten.”

“Right,” I replied.  “And what milestone did I reach last year?”

“Forty,” she answered.

“So, I was how many times older than you?”

She thought for less than a second, then smiled as she answered, “Four… you were four times older than me.”

“Right,” I said.  “So, given that I am four times your age… you are how old now?  And how old does that make me?”

She thought for a second longer.  “Well, I’m 11 years old, so that makes you 44.”

“Exactly!  Good job!  And next year, when you’re 12, how old will I be?”

Quickly she spit out, “48!”

“Great work, Princess!  I’m proud of your math skills!”

Her eyebrows knitted together as she thought for a second.  “Daddy,” she said, her tone the same as when she explains something to her three-year-old sister, “that’s not how it works!”  She planted her hands on her hips and tapped her foot to make her point.

Innocently, I replied, “Really?  Are you sure about that?”

“Yes!”  We couldn’t hold back any longer, as we laughed at the silliness of it all.

I love my girls.  I love it even more that they are smart enough to see through, and appreciate, my goofy tricks.