Tag Archives: Dads

A Greater Appreciation for Food

18 Feb

Every parent has had the moment of sitting down to dinner with their kids.

Three words, uttered before even cutting into the food.

“I don’t like this.”

And it destroys the entire mood of the meal before a bite. We all know we did it as a child, but wouldn’t dream of it as an adult.

The process of learning to cook is part of learning more appreciation of food. When you understand the time and effort required to produce a home-cooked, high quality meal: you give more room for experimentation into new food.

But it also goes deeper into the food supply chain. When you grow your own food, you understand what it takes to produce high quality, sustainably produced food.

I’ve been growing backyard fruit for more than five years. I can count the number of perfect peaches we’ve produced in the dozens. It’s been a battle against fungus, bugs and birds.

I’ve had more success with my vegetable production this winter – and I’ve greatly enjoyed everything produced.

But to know there are farms that work even harder to produce Artisanal quality fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products – I have deep appreciation for their output now.

To some degree, that’s part of the paleo lifestyle – knowing where your food originates, and appreciating the quality and hard work put into producing the food.

It makes it that much more difficult to consider eating processed food products.

Food is about more than macronutrients – fats, carbohydrates and protein. Diet quality goes well beyond these measures.


What If my Kid is Bad at Sports?

8 Feb

There are tens of thousands of four, five and six year olds playing Baseball, Soccer, Softball or another sport this spring for the first time.

Just like with every other new situation – like schools and adding siblings – their parents are worried that it might not be the right thing for their kids.

It could start off seeming like the right thing and turn for some reason during the season.  It’s a long season, and every family goes through their ups and downs with sports.

The Slump

Before taking up Soccer, Aidan played several seasons of Baseball.

He never complained about going to play – but at times, his attention on the field wandered.  I wasn’t sure whether he was disinterested, bored, or where his mind was.  (I’ve seen it’s really common in the field for at least half of the kids in the field to lose focus at ages six and under.)

During at bats, there were plate appearances that Aidan seemed distant or resigned to making an out.

Inside, it killed me.  I had grown up as a Baseball player from age 5 to high school.  I had followed the Orioles for years and knew the entire team before I was in first grade.  What if my son didn’t like Baseball?

I wanted to do everything I could to try to bring him back.  But anyone who has played sports knows that trying too hard sometimes makes success impossible.  There’s an expression: “Try Easy.”

I would ask Aidan to practice at home – with varying results.  I tried to keep an open line of communication with him.  I’ve long had a good speaking relationship with him and have been able to ask insightful questions.  But I didn’t know what to ask.

The upside through this episode was that he continued to enjoy his teammates and time on the bench.  I saw him talking, smiling and laughing during games and spending time with his teammates.

What to Do

We just kept going to the practices and games.  I kept assisting our coach and warming up with Aidan before games and enjoy the time with him and lower the pressure of performance.

In hindsight, and now as a coach in Soccer, I see the slumps all kids go through in sports.  I think most coaches in youth sports recognize them and they struggle with them as much as the parent does.

We want our kids to be good at everything they try.  We want them to find success easily.  But sometimes it’s just time and experience that changes the outcomes.

Coaching U6 Soccer Might Be One of the Best Parts of Parenthood

6 Feb

This is a part of the year where a lot of Soccer clubs, and other youth sports organizations, are grappling with more kids and teams than volunteers.  The direction most clubs and organizations have gone in the past few years is sign up as many kids as field space or other limitations permit, and then find coaches to take all of the teams created.

This year can be the year you step up into the role, especially for the youngest age groups.

I volunteered to coach Evan’s U5 soccer team a year and a half ago.  The club was short on coaches and I had thought about volunteering to coach again in the future – but probably more at the U7/U8 level when the kids were more experienced and mature.  At that point, I figured, it would be less about managing the kids and more about teaching soccer.

Going into the season, I wasn’t sure how he would like soccer – if he would enjoy it, of if he would quit easily.  In the past, he hadn’t shown the greatest resolve or attention span to activities.  I figured soccer could go the same way.

After the first match week, he proved to be hooked.  And I was hooked quickly after that.

A lot of the experience was the extra time Evan and I spent together. Every Friday night before practice, we tried to get to the field at least 15 minutes early.  It was time that we spent together (sometimes with a teammate and another Dad) just playing one against one with each other.  After practice, we didn’t hurry home – but spent a few extra minutes on the field working and playing together.

That turned into time in the front yard playing soccer and spending time together, and that turned into watching soccer together on television and playing FIFA ’11 together.  Soccer was probably the one thing that has caused me to understand and connect with Evan than anything before that time.

So…are you ready?

I Get it.

13 Jan

This is the first non-summer season since Winter 2008-2009 that we haven’t had at least one child enrolled in a team sport. During that time frame, we have had Aidan and Evan in Baseball, Soccer, and Basketball.

Sports have meant a lot of rescheduled meals, rushing to get home from my office, giving up Saturday mornings, getting up early Saturdays, coaching other people’s kids, being outdoors in hot, cold, rain and everything in between.  We’ve been fortunate that most of the sports have been ultra-local so there hasn’t been a lot of driving time built in.

But this winter – they’ve both only been enrolled in Tae Kwon Do, which has a flexible range of class times throughout the week.

It’s been a nice break – and I understand the reasons people don’t enroll their kids in sports.

It’s expensive.  Well, Recreation soccer at our club is $120 each for our two sons, but that includes 10-12 weeks covering at least two hours a week – thus it’s about $5 an hour.

It’s a time commitment.  Yes, it is – but it gives you chance to see your child perform.

Kids need free time to play.  And our kids still have a wealth of it – and at times with two boys less than three years apart, too much.

I’m ready for the next season to start.


What Does Pick Up Soccer Do For Kids?

9 Jan

What does pick up soccer do for kids?  Less “I can’t”, “They aren’t,” and “not fair.”

I’m not sure where kids learn the phrase “It’s not fair.”  It starts early though – and they apply it to everything from gifts to meals to bedtimes to schoolwork.  Anywhere they perceive an inequity between what they receive and what their friends or siblings receive – a “Not fair” is interjected.

But surprisingly, I haven’t heard that from Aidan or Evan following pick up soccer the last several weeks.  Despite being, at times, at the younger end of players on the field, and being not at the highest skills level on the field – neither has complained about the level of play and what they can’t do.

Instead, the ride home has been filled with sentences that start, “Did you see when…” and finishing with their own highlight reels from the hour of play.  Both have already learned the big lesson in sports – that you need to make your own opportunity.  If you fail to attack the ball, you will never be in a position to take the ball.  If you don’t put yourself in an open position, no one will pass you the ball.

Now, if I could only remove, “Awww!!” from their vocabularies.

A Look Back at 2011 in My Kids Sports (and a Look Forward)

2 Jan

2011 was a great year for both of my sons in sport.  I saw a change in mindset moving through the year and a greater commitment and interest level in their sports and fitness from both Aidan and Evan. Continue reading

Courage to Face Failure

24 Dec

Both of my sons had belt testing at their Tae Kwon Do practice last night.  They were both testing for the high blue belt.

The testing has several phases.  The first is a “Form” (a choreographed series of hand, body, and leg movements that showcases some of the new techniques learned during the current belt), kicking, and sparring.  Sparring has been a recent addition for our kids.

The rules of sparring are simple – use the maneuvers learned in other parts of the class in 1v1 combat with an opponent of similar level.  Most often, the kids use one of several front kicks to try to strike their opponent on the protective equipment.

But I noticed Aidan several times attempt to use kicks that involve a full body rotation – a more recent instruction that the kids at this level learned.  The move required more skill (and was slower for the kids to perform) but obviously Aidan thought that if he performed it well, and landed it well, then it would place him at good advantage on his opponent (and earn the Master’s approval in the process.)

It didn’t work for him.  But in the process, it reminded me of what I saw on the soccer pitch this fall.

So often, we teach kids skills in practice that they could use in the course of games – specific turns and maneuvers with the ball – that if mastered to some degree would provide the player open space on the field and maintain possession of the ball.  But I think a lot of kids don’t use them in the course of a match because they fear the downside if they fail.

It’s an environment that has to be changed.  Failure, in these scenarios – is when the athlete fails to try.