May 29, 2012

Too Young to Die

I can barely walk.

The pain in my hip is excruciating.  I don't know how my kids do it, but by the time one of their viruses gets to me it has exploded into some flesh eating super virus.  Just this past weekend Tyler came down with what we assume was synovitis.  He had a noticeable limp and complained that his hip was hurting.  This has happened before to both of my boys and since we had no idea what it was at first, a trip to the ER was in order.  This time though knowing that it was most likely synovitis and it would pass, no trip was necessary.

Secretly plotting my death?
It seems like every time these kids come down with something, I bear the brunt of it.  When they complain that their belly aches and they are not feeling well I know for sure that I will be doubled over in pain and puking my guts out with in a matter of days.  I know the whole story about men being babies when it comes to this sort of thing, but trust me, I can deal with a lot. I am never sick, but when I am, I am *this close* to my deathbed, and I am not one to complain about. I suck it up and deal with it.

I am certainly not a doctor, so I have no idea how this happens.  I would think that 38 years of various illnesses would leave me immune to what the kids bring home nowadays.  But it seems that what goes around their school, comes around to me. Maybe viruses have become much more complicated, much like Tyler's second grade math homework. I can't always figure that out, so this is something that I definitely can't comprehend.

What I do know is that by the time this pain in my hip reaches its peak, I will probably need a wheelchair.

Tyler is better now, thankfully the pain lasted only a day.  But that is no consolation for me as I know this will most likely be a weeklong struggle. Next time they come home with even a hint of a sniffle, I'm heading out of town.

I am too young to die.

How do you end up after your kids are sick?

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


May 23, 2012

Socially Social

I have never been this social in my life.

Growing up, I was always the guy that sat at home watching TV on Friday and Saturday nights, while all the other cool kids were off at their lavish parties.  Or hanging out somewhere deep in the woods so the cops wouldn't find them drinking or smoking or whatever else high school kids do. I guess it would have been nice to crash one of these shindigs, but that wasn't me. I had friends, just not the kind that hung out beneath the water tower. That didn't happen until college, not that there was a water tower, but there always seemed to be a keg somewhere.

Even then though I wasn't one to share my inner most thoughts, I am a guy after all.  Most conversations revolved around beer, babes, and basketball. Yeah we were cool. Hanging out usually meant watching Sportscenter or playing Sega Hockey (NHLPA '94 still remains the best game ever made in my eyes). That was the extent of our social lives.

Go tell it on the mountain!
It seems that most of my "friends" now exist solely online.  I think I have shared more here in the past year than I have in my 38 years on Earth.

Twitter is now like a bar, where I can pull up a stool and start a conversation with anyone, a real conversation.  I have met so many amazing and interesting people from all over the world that seem to be just like me.  Finding a support group has been awesome.  It can get pretty lonely being a stay at home dad. Sure there are groups out there with actual live fleshy people, but it takes a huge effort and a lot of travel to do that. Twitter has become somewhat of a refuge me, and I can count on it to take away some of the loneliness.

Not so sure I would give it a thumbs up
Facebook is very different.  I don't know what is real or not there.  It seems like people only post when they are having a super awesome day or are taking a trip.  I don't even know that half the people I'm friends with are alive until they go on vacation.  Then it seems that they won't stop posting about what an amazing time they are having, checking into great restaurants and sharing pictures of their kids with oversized stuffed animals.  Then there are those groups of people that take a road trip somewhere and constantly post pictures of each other.  You know the only people that care about those pictures are the people you are with. Have a conversation with THEM instead of telling US about your conversation.

Everything is social nowadays.

There are social readers that tell everyone what you are reading. Seriously, are we supposed to read together?  I thought that was something limited to bedtime between me and my boys.  There are photo apps that share all of our greatest photos. I am on Instagram, but I only take pictures, if you choose to follow me that's great, but I can't reciprocate. It's too time consuming.

Of course there are a million other social media venues that I haven't mentioned including Google+.  I was told that this was awesome but it seems that the only people that are on there are people that I already talk to on Twitter and Facebook.  How many different places can I talk to the same people?  How many different places can suck time away from something that I should be doing elsewhere? Maybe I should go back into my room and watch TV?

To find out what I am doing next* you can follow me at one of these places:

*I will most likely be mowing the lawn

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


May 16, 2012

The Parenting Wars... Starring Legos

Everywhere that I have gone this past week someone is talking about The Parenting Wars.  It seems like most of my fellow dad bloggers are all up in arms over a post on Babble about things that moms do better.  I'm here to tell you a little secret, there are things that moms do better.  But you know what, who cares.  Be a dad and don't worry about what everyone thinks.  Oh and moms, don't make us look bad and say that we are clueless.  We're not.  We need to get past all this nonsense and just be the parents our kids need us to be.

We all just look silly talking about who the better parent is.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


May 11, 2012

The Perfect Parent?

I must have missed the awards show.

The Perfect Parent?
When did we decide that there is a perfect way to raise a child?  They never handed me a manual at the hospital explaining to me that there was ONE way to do it. Actually there are a billion ways to do it. Just because something works for you does not mean that it is going to work for me. Conversely, if there is something that I do as a parent with my kids that works, it might not be the best thing for you.

I am not going to go into your house to judge you as a parent and I would hope that you stay out of mine.  I was not put on this planet to judge or be judged.  I might have an opinion, but that doesn't mean what I think you are doing is wrong.  If it works for you AWESOME.

I know how hard this parenting business can be.  It's a struggle at times.  The only thing that makes it harder is when people question what I do and go on with their self righteous nonsense.  We get it. Your kid can walk and recite the alphabet before mine can even crawl, fantastic.  Mine can do things that your kid can't, like throw a baseball or kick a soccer ball.  Aren't kids great like that?  Each can do something that the other can't and it's not because we as parents are perfect.

Courtesy Time magazine
There has been so much talk in the past couple of days about this Time magazine cover with the lady breastfeeding her three year old.  Yeah it's a shocking cover.  Why?  Because it's something none of us get to see everyday. But we shouldn't be judging the woman for a decision that she is making as a parent, just like she shouldn't judge us if we don't choose to live her life style.

It works for her and for her kids and that's all that matters.  If you chose to breastfeed your child that long, that is your business.  We stopped at  the age of one, and that's OUR business.  If someone chose NOT to breastfeed their child for some reason that is THEIR business. 

We need to stay out of each others way and just let us be the parents that our kids need us to be.

If they handed out an award for the perfect parent, we should all get one

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


May 8, 2012

Out of My League

Baseball has always been my favorite sport.

I longed for the day when my kids finally were old enough to play in Little League.  Since I missed the registration deadline last year, this is the first year where they are finally hitting the diamond.  I have to say that the league that we are in has been great so far. Both boys have gotten the opportunity to play and they both really seem to enjoy it. Right now the league is stressing fun and fundamentals and since it's your typical instructional league, there are no politics involved.

Politics?  In kids sports?

I fortunately have not seen it yet, but I know it exists.  There will be a time when they have the opportunity to take their games to the next level and this is where politics comes into play.  Since I haven't experienced it yet, I thought that I would let an old college pal who's currently juggling parenting, marriage, work and coaching explain what is going on on baseball diamonds all across the country. Enjoy this guest post.

Out of My League 
By Dresden Wolf*

When my son started playing organized baseball two years ago, he was six years old and the emphasis was on fun and fundamentals. As parents, we were happy when they’d hit the ball without knocking the tee over, or run around the bases in the right direction (yes, we had a couple who tried to steal 3rd …from home). Hell, we didn’t even officially keep score.

But as the seasons went on, tee ball gave way to coach pitch, and coach pitch to machine pitch. In that time, a funny thing happened. My son and a few of his buddies got very good at baseball (pause to pat myself on the back as coach – ha ha ha), and the emphasis shifted. Now, it’s more like baseball. We not only keep score, but offensive and defensive stats. They’re eating sunflower seeds in the dugout. Kids SHIFT FOR LEFTIES. This shit just got real.

All of a sudden, everyone is scouting other teams, bailing to join travel teams, and our own house all-star process is worthy of an Aaron Sorkin screenplay. (Although I still don’t speak quickly enough to deliver the lines in one.)

I sigh and change the channel when I see “Pageant Kids” or “Dance Moms” or “I’m gonna grow up and have all kinds of issues because you started putting me in makeup and heels when I was 18 months old,” but I look around, and sports are no different. There are cliques, kids taking private lessons from coaches they won’t share. And everyone is jockeying to get on the “best” team with the best coach. Every playdate or schoolyard run-in is a chance to ask what team your kid is on, and if they’ve heard about the neighboring community’s travel team. There’s always rumbling about how competitive your league is (or isn’t). And everyone thinks they have an in because they know someone on “the board.”

As a friend said, “as long as the parents are involved, it’s always political.”

Back to my point. At the lowest competitive level, we’ve got 9U (the u is for “and under”) and 8U all-star squads. So, as you might imagine, many of the talented 8-year-olds try out for both. Where it gets sticky is when those 8-year-olds all get drafted by the 9U squad, leaving the 8U team with the less talented 8’s, as well as all the younger kids.

Having been to the tournaments these kids play in, an 8U squad of mediocre talent and a bunch 7-year-olds, no matter how good those 7-year-olds are, will get CREAMED. The other teams are huge. Like, “show me the birth certificates” huge. Then the kids will be discouraged, the parents will be sad, and the coaches (and the league) get blamed for setting the kids up to fail. On the flipside, a 9U team with a bunch of 8-year-olds will ALSO get creamed. BUT, everyone believes that “playing up” will get their kids a baseball scholarship (which coincidentally averages $5K, even at big baseball schools) and eventually into the MLB. But there’s a difference between playing with older kids and having your asses kicked by them.

So, is it better to be a big fish in a small pond? Or the smallest fish in a big pond? Personally I think being a goldfish in a plastic bag at a carnival is the worst, but that’s not relevant to this discussion. At the end of the day, I want my son to feel good about himself for being good at something among kids his own age. He’s got the rest of his life to compete with older guys for girls, jobs, social security checks, whatever.

Anyway, the opportunity to choose between the teams puts parents in a position to negotiate. And this is where it gets fun. Not.

So as the clock ticks on draft day (35 hours and counting), I find myself pouring over rosters, checking birthdates, and planning to call parents as late as 10PM on a Tuesday, trying to convince them to “play down” with the 8s instead of playing up with the 9s. Some have already asked “what’s in it for them.” Uhm, baseball…a uniform…a few nice days outside this summer? Some want guaranteed playing time, to only play a certain position, to bat ahead of (insert name here), or for their kid to be named team captain.

They’re EIGHT.


I joke a little, but I legitimately fear that the next call will be one asking for cash considerations or an actual contract.

Crazy, isn’t it? But in a world where kids get trophies just for showing up, and think they’re the best at everything, this sense of entitlement is not surprising.

But at the end of the day, the kids want to play. And at this age, they want to win, no matter what mamby-pamby, kumbaya, politically correct crap we’re supposed to be subscribing to. I still believe that kids’ sports should be fun, but anyone who’s ever competed with an 8-year-old boy will tell you, winning IS fun to them. So, we do what we can to put them in a position to win – or at the very least, compete. Because losing 24-2 because you’re out of your league stings a lot more than losing 6-5 to a team you can hang with. (I’ve done both.)

But if you’re a parent who cares more about telling people that seven-year-old Johnny “played ball with kids two years older than him,” than Johnny actually having fun playing, I don’t know what to tell you.

Ugh. I think I had a point, but now I’ve got a call from an agent on line two. (Insert touching conclusion that includes the phrase “for the love of the game.”)

*To protect the parties involved, mainly the kids, Dresden Wolf is not his real name.

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


May 3, 2012

A Frog on a Bench... Starring Legos

My boys love watching YouTube videos.  Mainly it's some sort of Lego movie that catches their eye, or a superhero one, or even a combination of them both. They actually love watching my movies because they love to see what their characters are up to.  I love doing it because they are fun to make.  It does get disappointing at times when you see that so few are actually watching the videos, especially when you look at some of the videos that get a billion hits.  I mean do we really need to see a cat fall off of a TV or some kid bite his older brothers finger?  Honestly it's kind of annoying to see what people think is entertainment.  Then along comes the latest craze, so I thought, if you can't beat them... join them.

A frog on a bench?  What will they think of next, a squirrel on water skis?

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?


May 1, 2012

What Happens at Disney...

We've been to Disney, a lot.

For some, I know that this is a once in a lifetime trip.  Myself, I never went to Disney until I had kids.  We didn't vacation much when I was a younger and when we did it was to the Outer Banks or Virginia Beach.  Maybe that was the same trip, but the bottom line is Disney was never in our travel plans.

That's all changed with our kids.

My oldest has been to a Disney related park probably around 20 times.  That includes Disney World, Disneyland, and even Disneyland Paris. Throw in a few cruises on Disney Cruise Lines and we are VERY MUCH a Disney family. Disney can be a daunting experience to plan for, as there are too many websites, books, and videos all telling you that has to be the case.  If you go on any of these sites like or there are literally hundreds if not thousands of people telling you how to experience Disney.

I am not going to get into any specifics about how to plan for a trip like this, but needless to say, if you follow all of the advice of everything that you read or hear, you will drive yourself crazy and never fully enjoy your experience.  I know people that have their whole itinerary planned out to the second, but if you do that, you will truly miss out on the magic that Disney offers. 

I have two boys so our trips are a little different than families with girls.  Sure we go on all the rides and see many of the same characters but we don't have to see ANY of the princesses which I know take up a lot of your day.  I've seen the lines and I don't envy those people in the slightest.  My oldest was always a Mickey fan, so we knew where to go and see him with the least wait (Hollywood Studios, One Mans Dream - skip the 15 minute movie and Sorcerer Mickey is right there).  Of course you could always dine with the characters so you don't have to worry about seeing all of them in the parks.

Why do we go all the time?

Sometimes I wish we didn't go as much as we do, but we truly love it.  I'll be honest with you though some of the magic has worn off.  Gone are the days where Tyler was running around hugging every character in sight or Carter would scream hysterically at the mere mention of them.  The fireworks shows have begun to blend into one another and the parades aren't the spectacles they once were.  But the boys are experiencing new rides every year and while the magic isn't the same, it's evolving.  The excitement of seeing Donald or Goofy has been replaced with the thrill of riding Space mountain. While they aren't scared to go in the Haunted Mansion anymore, there is a fear of falling to your death as they ride The Tower of Terror.  It's almost as if something new comes a long every time we go.

Disney is not for everyone and I certainly see where a lot of people would have issues with them.  We are not one of those families. I would never tell anyone that they have to spend their money and go to Disney, it's not cheap. I know that I am totally sounding like an ad for Disney right now, but it's probably my boys favorite place in the world so why wouldn't I speak glowingly of it?

The bottom line is, we'll be going back as long as the boys want to go back.  The magic won't last forever, so we will ride it as long as we can.

For some quick tips from a first time Disney visitor please check out my friend Daddy Knows Less.  He just got back and made a list of things he wish he knew before he went.

If YOU have any questions about Disney or quick tips to offer please leave me a comment below. 

John Willey - Daddy's in Charge?