Letting My Son Lead Even Though It Isn’t Where I’d Choose

We kept things simple New Years Day, hanging out in pajamas for the majority of the day. We played Play-Doh, ate various snacks, read books and continued our adventure sessions with various Christmas toys.

There’s been a pattern over this holiday break, one  driven by an extremely cold streak–we’re talking negative air temps for several consecutive days, and that is when my one year old takes a nap, my five year old gets some TV time.

I’m not the biggest TV watcher, and I’m proud to say the TV isn’t on consistently in our house. No, I’m not anti-TV, but my time is so limited, I’m lucky to find time for even a 50 minute show. My view is that kids will have the rest of their lives to immerse themselves with screen time.

So today, when my son asked to watch some TV, we set him up on Netflix and he selected an already watched favorite DreamWorks’ Trolls.  


Despite critical reviews from bloggers regarding subliminal messages about the movie representing recreational drugs or presenting assimilation as the only way to happiness, I found the time with my son to be relaxing and enjoyable.

I was able to meet the infamous Cloud Guy who has started a pop culture movement morphing the classic fist bump into sandwiches, shark attacks and gear shifts. Hilarious.

My sons humor was exposed naturally through various slap stick scenes, even asking to repeat especially hilarious moments. Priceless.

And there is a certain relaxation that comes with being able to unplug and just hang with my kindergartner. Let’s face it, there will come a time when I’ll probably be asking him to watch movies with me. Chilling.

Over all, the movie was light-hearted, funny and musical. The battle between the Bergens and The Trolls shouldn’t be perceived as subliminal messages for hate and evil. But this rant isn’t about a movie review.

This post is about allowing our sons and daughters to lead us at times. Chances are what they want to play or watch will not always be something you want to do or are interested in. But what’s the harm in taking an hour or so to learn from them. Learn about what they are investigating, watching, playing.

Let’s face it. How many choices do your kids have? They are told and directed much of their young lives, why not give them the power to lead you from time to time?

What can it hurt, besides giving you a lazy afternoon on the couch eating snacks? That is if you choose to follow down the movie route.



Coaching from My Four Year Old on Detachment from My New Car

I’ve been car shopping for months now. My reliable 2003 VW Jetta is tight to say the least when a family of four needs to jet around town. Sure, it’s manageable, but if we want to go out of town and enjoy the outdoors, we needed something a little bigger. That and the list of repairs well exceeded the value of the car.

So I fell in love with the Toyota Highlander Hybrid. The style and space of a large SUV but close enough to the economy of a Jetta that I validated the larger vehicle. After all, I strive to be conscious of our worlds natural resources. Plus I look cooler in this than a minivan.

The sticker price, and I’m shopping used here, was more than I had ever spent on a car in my life. But Consumer Reports voted this vehicle as the best used SUV car buy, and the space sure was something my family can utilize comfortably.

The day finally came and it looked like we were going to land this car before a spring break road trip to a northbound hotel, when the car had to go into the shop for break work. Just in the nick of time, with bags packed ready to head north, the car came out of the shop. We loaded it up and took it 2.5 hours north.


Boy the ride was smooth. The sound system is unbelievable. Gas mileage lives up to expectations, and we were able to fill it comfortably with our bags and gear. How quick it does fill up. This car is so nice it barely feels like it should be mine, ‘er ours.

I must admit my pride was boosted a little, driving around in its midnight black paint job, leather seats, quiet electric motor and all. And a few comments from a neighbor and in-laws didn’t help either.

And then my son says, “It’s pretty much the same as your other car.” He points out that it still gets us on the road from here to there. I almost threw in a counter but, but, but argument pointing out the size and luxury. However, I decided to agree.

It says in the bible, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.” (Matthew 6:19-21 ESV.)

And then I was completely locked out of the car. In this case it was the computer and electronic components that destroyed. The rear hatch malfunctioned and locked all the doors with a continuous pulsing sound that drained the battery. I was pissed, frustrated and ready to return the car.

But with much reassurance from family and my son’s words in mind. I say to myself it’s just another car. Thank you, son, for reminding me of what matters most. It’ll come back from the shop with a new tail gate in a week and I’ll have a new outlook toward my sweet new family car.

Fatherhood Stripped of Technology, for at Least One Night

The nightmare was real. I had pulled up to my house after ending the work day naked. Not without clothes naked but without technology naked. Stripped of Facebook announcements,  text messages and the ability to check my email five times per minute.

I’m ashamed to admit there was anxiety about missing some important phone call or message, but I didn’t want to make the drive back. So I jumped into the turbulence that is the family of four work to dinner home transition.

Now, I don’t consider myself a technology addict needing to untangle my life. But just the other day, my son asked me in a bold tone over the breakfast bowl, “What are you doing on your phone?” I was surfing news while replying to my brothers invitation to hang out, but still. It hit me a certain way.


There is such noise in our high speed world that it impacts brain development. This particular occupational therapist for the Huffington Post makes the argument that the effect of technology on children can lead to depression, behavioral disorders and an unsustainable life.

This slippery slope argument doesn’t sit with me very well, but I have seen reactions from my pre-schooler that are extremely irrational when the TV is shut off or the You Tube video ends. I place trust in healthy support networks and interventions long before the negative affects she threatens.

Technology gives us things like video chat, picture sharing and learning apps that can help support learning and the support of our children’s village. We utilize technology in my house, and my four-year-old has his own Leap Frog tablet. But we don’t give free reign.

So my evening without my 5.5 inch smartphone screen went buy with some withdrawal. I reached for it several times when I wanted to check the weather or take a phone and even thought I heard my ringtone this morning.

But you know what, I found myself reading an extra book to my nine-month-old and even sang to her while my wife was bathing our son. I’d like to think that would have happened anyway with my phone within arms reach (so I could capture it on video of course), but I wonder.

There was this freedom I felt with the inability to check messages and instantly get sucked into an internet search.

And the cherry on top:  two text messages and one Facebook notification when I returned in the morning.