Posted in Parenting

Do You Carry Your Child’s Backpack? Don’t!


Do you carry your child’s backpack for them when you pick them up from school?

Don’t.

It’s not your backpack.

It’s theirs and they need to be responsible to know that they need to bring it to school, keep it’s contents safe, and then remember to bring it home with them.  If you carry it for them what message are you sending to them?

I’ll tell you.  You’re telling them that when you’re around they don’t have to carry their backpack.

Today, you’re carrying their backpack because you want to be kind. They must have had a very hard day at school, and you want to show them how much you love them, so you take their backpack and carry it to the car for them.

Tomorrow, and then next day, and the next day, your child walks out of school and hands you their backpack to carry, with a look on their face that it was a very tough day and they totally would feel better if you helped them out and carried their backpack fully of crumpled papers and a bunch of toys.

Then next thing you now it, they’re heading out of school and expecting you to carry their backpack for you.

Or worse, they’re walking away and leaving their backpack expecting you find, it and get it for them.

The entitlement creeps in, but when it arrives, it’s hard to go back on.

You’re setting a bad precedent and creating unrealistic expectations.  You’re not always going to be able or want to carry their backpacks – no matter how heavy it is or how tired they are or how hot it is outside.

Plus, kids don’t know where this kindness starts and where it ends.  Carrying the backpack today, cleaning off the table after dinner tomorrow… Next thing you know, your child will be expecting you so do things for them all the time or when they don’t want to / feel like doing it.

Do yourself a huge favour and make your kids carry their own backpacks.

Additional tips for parents who have already started carrying their kids backpacks:

When they ask why won’t you carry it, tell them it’s their backpack. When you were their age you carried your own. Others kids carry their own.

When they threaten to leave it because they don’t want to carry it – they are testing you – you have to be prepared to walk away from it and leave it there.

Setting clear expectations while they’re young will go a long way towards developing into responsible young adults.

Trust me.

Posted in Canada, Community, Daddy, events, family, hockey, Life, Parenting, school, The Urban Daddy, Toronto

Laine + FortNite = Fewer Goals + Late For Work


For those of you familiar with Patrik Laine, the NHL superstar in the making who is playing with the Winnipeg Jets, you will know that his bread-and-butter goal-scoring has gone someone AWOL this season.

The forward who was chosen second overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft behind the Toronto Maple Leafs superstar Auston Matthews, has seen his production drop from 44 goals last season to just 29, so far, this season which is still fantastic, but for a player of his skills, there was expectations that he was going to score close to 60-goals this season.

His play has looked somewhat uninspired, and his plus/minus has taken a beating this season on a very, very good, Jets team.

Through Laine’s struggles media reports circle back to comments he made about FortNite, the uber-popular video game, which the Vancouver Canucks has tried to ban in order to prevent their players from playing too much and not being prepared for games.

Maybe Laine is not playing well because he’s playing too much FortNite…

Or maybe not.

The purpose of bring up the addictive nature of this game is to loop in a personal story about being late for work.

Earlier in the school year, and on more than one occasion, I had sent of my wife and 2/3rds of our children to school, and was going to drop the 3rd one off on my way to office, when suddenly, I noticed that he was no-where to be found.

As the clock continued to click, and time slowly went by, it became quite obvious that he was going to be late for school, I was going to be late for work, and the very real possibility that he was not feeling well started to creep into my head.

After spending a few minutes yelling instructions throughout the house – “I’m leaving!”, “If you want a lift to school, you had better get to the front door right away!” and “Hurry up, you’re going to be late”, I decided the better parenting technique would be to see if he’s really okay (at least that is what I imagined my wife asking me as I relayed this story to her).

I walked upstairs to his bedroom, and it was empty.

Maybe he left on his own, took transit to school, and I’ve been standing in the front hall yelling to myself…

So I called his name, and received a muffled, downtrodden response, “I’m in the bathroom… I don’t feel well.”

Ugh.  Poor thing.

So I started to notify my clients, my network and my wife that this was the case and that I would contact his school to let them know he was sick.

Every couple of minutes I would check on his, asking him through the door how he was doing, if he needed to stay home, and what hurt.

It was his tummy.

He would not need to stay home.

He just needed a few more minutes…

I gave him 20-minutes, and kept checking on him to see if there was anything that I could do to help him feel better.

He re-assured me that he was good to go, and just needed a few more minutes.

Then I heard it…

The noise.

It made me stop in my tracks…

I might even have stopped breathing for a few seconds…

He said; “YES!  Victory Royale!  Okay, Dad… Let’s go to school.”

He was playing FortNite.

Locked in the bathroom.

Feigning illness, making himself late for school, me late for work, and for what?  A Victory Royale?!?

I shook my head, told him he can’t do this, and restricted his morning access to video games (it’s never been an issue before) and on the ride to school I got to hear the details of his win.

Then I started thinking about Laine… the Vancouver Canucks, other parents, that I need to change the password on my iPad, and that someday this FortNite craze will be over.  All the kids will suffer withdrawal symptoms and then life will go back to normal.

That was the expectation until I was informed today by my son that “Apex Legends” already has 50-million players, or about 1/4 of the number of players that FortNite has, but Apex has only been out for one month…

Oh my.

So much for this being the exception and not the norm…

 

 

This is a NJN Blog Post (No Judgement Necessary)

Posted in Life

What Was Your First School Instrument? What Did You Children Get?


How on earth did we pick school instruments when we were in middle school?  I had played a little piano by the time I was forced to make an uneducated choice, and it’s probably the reason why I do not play an instrument to this day despite being very musical.

So how did my son come home from school with a clarinet recently?

I think that was a great choice of instrument, considering last year his class played the banjo and the year before they were given that wannabe instrument and all around general noisemaker, the recorder.

He wanted to play the trumpet, but chose the clarinet…

Granted, my son is way more musical than me, he plays piano and will be taking his level 2 conservatory exams soon.

But boy, how the times have changed from when we were in school, right?  Or have they?!?

What instrument did you play and why?

Was it your first choice?

I remember having to face this dilemma way back in grade 6.  My best friend at the time was a drummer – taught by the drummer from Platinum Blonde – so I wanted to drum.  But with only one drum set and the need for only one drummer, I was out of luck.  Oh, and he was REALLY good, and I was really awful on the drums.

My teacher instead gave me the cymbals and the triangle.

UGH.

The following year I wanted the trombone because all the trumpets were taken, but my first time using the trombone, I used the instrument to drill my friend in the back of the head (he was sitting in front of me).  That was my absolute reason for requesting the instrument… To use it as a weapon.  What was wrong with me??  But my teacher set me straight, alright.

Bye bye trombone.

She gave me the Tuba.

Little did I know back then that nobody takes the instruments which are impossible to take home to practice… But I got the instrument that I deserved.

I managed to convince the teacher that the Baratone was better (lighter), however every class my friends would toss stuff into it (like the little plastic army guys), so when my turn to play that one note came up, my instrument made either the wrong noise or no noise at all.

The upside was that carrying that beast home (I walked to and from school) made me very strong and I learned one helluva lesson.

The following year I chose the French horn!

A rather unique instrument, but was lightweight, had 3 keys and was rarely used.  So I guess I showed her, eh?  That was until she gave me a solo in one of the school concerts.  Me, my French horn and a LOT of people watching me.  Needless to say, I was sick that night of the concert, but on my BEST behaviour the rest of the year.  I had finally met my match.

If only I had selected a real instrument and actually learned it…

… Like the recorder.  lol.

 

What instrument do you want your child to learn?

Posted in Being Jewish in Toronto, Daddy, family, Life, school

How Cursive is Better than Cursing!


There are times when I feel that my wife and I are the cool kids in town and that everyone else either sucks or do not understand us or our children.  I mean, come on… tax, science… Who wouldn’t want to hang out with us to discuss those thrilling topics?!?

Then I think about our kids, and how they will view us when they are older and know better, or how others view them and their quirks and oddities… I hope others will find their quirkiness playful and fun, and now strange or odd.  Then again, I hope my kids are comfortable enough in their own skin to not care what others think.

So where is this going?

Ah, yes…

How we’re so cool.  lol.

Well, we had 2 great families over for Shabbat dinner Friday night and after eating, drinking, laughing and talking, we moved from the kitchen over to the family room to continue with the great conversation, while the kids practiced their cursive writing.

Yes.

The kids practiced their cursive writing… On their own.  For fun… Together… 6 of the 7 children present.

cursivebook

I know!

What got the cursive kick started in our household is the fact that cursive writing is part of the grade 3 curriculum in Ontario, so with Stewie in Grade 3, it only made sense that he would be eager to practice every waking moment, right?  Well not only does he practice his cursive writing, but he also created a cursive writing book for his (just turned 5-year-old) little sister.  This book has the letters in the same way he learned them, however, he also added some fun cursive-games which are completely age appropriate.

More so, having looked through this book, I can say that it is quite amazing what this little girl has managed to produce and if she keeps it up, her Senior kindergarten teachers will be quite impressed.

So now imagine, 6 adults driving coffee and chatting about life, love, liberty and the pursuit of happiness while my son leads the other children through the cursive Olympics…

That’s cool, no?

It’s certainly better than cursing.  🙂

Posted in Community, Daddy, family, Life, school, urbandaddyblog

Parenting Frustration 101: Paralysis by Analysis


Being a father of three children is a lot of work.

Work that I love to do more than anything else in the world, but with this work comes the real hard work or the hidden work that gets little recognition, is not discussed at birthday parties between dads, nor does this work get or deserve high-fives among the dads at swim class.

The work I’m referring to is being consistent.

As parents we want our kids to be safe, and felt loved and supported and all that stuff, but if we don’t teach our children the right way to treat others and if we don’t set them up to be able to take care of their own affairs, then what are we doing for our kids besides providing food, shelter and love?

As the “helicopter generation” hovering over our children to keep them free from harm and protect them from a wanton stare from little Suzie or a mean word from little Billy, we do our kids no favours at all stuck to their sides.  We tell them to say please and thank you, and we correct them on everything they do that does not meet our approval but do they remember what we tell them?  If they did, why would we have to do it over and over again, so it seems, or why does someone in their class calling them silly crush them, but us telling them they behave poorly does not?

It’s because they hear our voices and they tune out.  No one wants to be corrected constantly, nor do they want to feel unloved, or disliked, so if our kids are in an environment where they feel any of these things, then we have to step up and act.  Not talk the talk, but walk the walk.

In The Urban Daddy household, we teach our children to stand up for themselves – without violence and without having to tell the teacher – to make sure that they are able to handle a situation now, in later grades, in business and in life. They don’t have to be mean, or demanding – they should try to be nice and use please and thank you, but they certainly do not have to take someone else’s bullshit or be picked on for no reason at all.  I believe we call this bullying.

Our kids have to be organized, and be part of a routine at school and at home.  Organization helps out our family unit and helps their teachers do what they need to do without my kids being a distraction or causing interruptions. Sometimes this is not possible as we are learning with 2 boys, but it is what is expected by us and taught to the kids.  If they are able to do this, they are expected to.  If they are unable to, then they will be taught it.  If they are still unable, they will be helped and hugged.  Never blamed.  Never made to feel bad.

But back to consistency…

Without consistency at home (and I struggle the most with this – always have) the kids get mixed messages and it throws them off.  When our morning routine involves a good morning, the opening of the shutters to let in the light, getting a glass of water to drink, a piece of fruit to eat, and then helping make breakfast and lunches, it messes up the children when the routine is fixed some days but not every day?

Even before the kids come down for breakfast they must get dressed, make their beds and on Monday’s and Friday’s made sure their bedroom floors are empty from toys they do not want to have stored in the vacuum cleaner.  So if they come down one day not dressed, they must be sent back upstairs to be dressed, so they understand the importance of following our routine.  Our consistency.

To be consistent is not something that can be accomplished in one day.  It’s a long-term challenge.

It’s also a long-term challenge when you work hard at home to develop a routine, have the kids buy-in, then be consistent with that routine, but when the kids go to school, or to extra-curricular programs the same does not hold true?  With different teachers, or teachers who do not understand the importance of organization and consistency, and that by putting in that effort in each and every kid, the benefit pays off ten-fold in the near future and for the rest of their lives.

Each and every year I sit down with my kids teachers to let them know what works for my child and what doesn’t. What should be brought to my attention and what should be handled by the child themselves. I do this so that the teachers know that we are on their side, we support them, and that while we check in often, it’s not out of concern for the children, but rather to ensure that they are learning, contributing and being good members of their classroom.

Imagine the surprise of finding out that one of these external providers of education are failing your child, and doing so in a big way.

Imagine the feeling of emptiness knowing that all that support and information your poured into the teachers and all the feedback you received was not worth the air it was breathed into.

I’ve been nice, and I’ve been kind and I will not give them the satisfaction of removing him from this situation and going out of my way to find him a new program to attend.  I’m going to fix this. We’re going to fix this, and at the end of the day, my kids are going to get the consistency, organization and respect they deserve and someone else is getting my hard-earned money.

The problem is that until all the pieces have fallen into place – whether we stay or whether we go – I feel like I’m in a state of paralysis by analysis.