Sunday, October 16, 2016


   You guys it's tough being such a perfect dad all the time. Here is Exhibit K:

   When Wyatt turned two, his papa and he and I were driving by a park and saw some kids playing soccer. He got really excited and wanted to go play. It was tough for me to convince him that soccer isn't actually fun, so instead his papa told him he can play soccer when he turned five. All of a sudden, I was held to a promise three years in the making.

Believe it or not, this was a tough defense to score against. #coaching

   You might think that a two-year-old would forget this over the course of three years, but it turns out Wyatt can remember pretty much anything. Roughly 10 months before his birthday he asked me to get him a Paw Patrol cake for his party. I told him I would, again thinking he'd forget. The day before his birthday he says "I am so excited for my Paw Patrol cake tomorrow! I said "Me too!!" as I dialed Dairy Queen, knowing they were closed. There was no Paw Patrol cake, but we did have pretty great Paw Patrol napkins!!

 ...   Where was I going with this? Oh, right, 5-year-old soccer. He'd always ask "How long until I'm five?" and I'd have to say "Never" and he'd laugh and sigh and say "Oh dad..." and it was all really quite precious. Well, I was precious. He was just kind of cute.

   When it came time to look at soccer signups, we realized something: We don't want to spend $80 to have our five-year-old kick a ball a few times with strangers at places we don't want to go. So for maybe the second time ever, Cara had a great idea: We will start our own soccer league.

   I know this sounds like the plot to a bad Disney movie, and that's probably because it is, but it worked out really well. Instead of paying $80 to watch five-year-olds not play soccer while standing on the sideline with strangers at a place we didn't want to go, we invited all of our friends with five-year-olds (sorry if you didn't make the "friend" cut) to come to a park by our house, at times that were convenient for us, and watch our kids play soccer for $0.

These were simpler, sunnier, warmer times.

   About once a week, give or take, a group of 5 or 6 families would get together and the kids would play soccer. The first week there were probably 8 families, but those numbers quickly dropped. I guess when you don't drop $80 on soccer, you feel less committed, I don't know. I was the coach, with help from some other parents, and it was great.

   Cara looked up some drills for us to give to the kids. One of the most important things they stress for this is age is to not have them practice using their head because it scares them. I, however, am not trying to raise (or field a team of) pansies, so the first practice was only headers. It went really quite poorly.

This was shortly after I told Wyatt "None of the other kids
can use their hands but you can because you are special."

This was honestly the most organized and behaved they were all season. Also, it's pretty great how hard I was working to coach while all the other parents hung out on the edge and talked about stuff. Probably about me, actually.

Seven kids!! This must have been one of our earlier practices. This was moments before I berated the girl in the pink for using her hands. "YOU'RE NOT WYATT YOU DON'T GET TO DO THAT YOU'RE NOT SPECIAL!!" I yelled at her without punctuation.

These were the siblings of the kids playing soccer. But really, everyone wanted to spend all their time at the playground instead of being forced to plank for two minutes at a time with me,

   We did drills of walking dogs, running around trees, slaloming between cones, kicking backwards, even kicking the balls really hard at one of the dads who deserved it. Everyone loved it. At the end of each practice we would have a scrimmage. This was by far their least favorite part. They would rather play "tunnel tag with soccer balls" or "sharks and minnows with soccer balls" or "go get water" or "lay on my back in the wet grass" then play an actual game. What's worse is since we always played ourselves, our record for the season was a miserable .500.

   Something really fun: Wyatt has been coming to Marist, where I coach ultimate, to help with practice a few days a week. He's been doing this for years, but all of a sudden he got real excited to start calling me "coach." He has a huge grin when he says it, and then always says "Because you coach your students and you coach me and also you are my gad." All very true statements, Wyatt.

   When the season was over we went to Papa's Pizza for a party. I am proud to say that at the Awards Ceremony I cleaned up by winning "Best Coach" and "Handsomest Dad," while Cara won "Least Present at Practice" and there were no other awards at all. I told the kids "None of you earned one, especially you Silas." Silas cried but he'll be better for it, eventually.

   Speaking of Papa's Pizza, I've realized that there is no amount of money I wouldn't pay to have bad pizza and kids far away, playing. I went in to the play room to grab Wyatt when the pizza came and basically wanted to tear my ears off, it was such mayhem. One of my students was working in the play room, wearing a referee's striped shirt. I asked her how she liked working there (she gives me a look of "oh it's not the best") and I finish with "because it sounds miserable." She nods and then goes to tell Johnny to stop eating the padding around the playpen.

   I think soccer was a great success. Looking back I wish we'd found a few more drills to do and kids to play, and I really wish I'd charged everyone like $30.

My mood: glad it's over
Wy's mood: sad it's over
Link's mood: unaware it's over
Cara's mood: didn't even know it had started
Listening to: Miley Cyrus

Saturday, October 15, 2016


   Lincoln really become a lot of fun over the summer. Talking to himself, laughing and playing, having lots of personality; he really started to grow up. But the main thing that has come out of this summer is his love of slides. The slide at the pool, at the park, in our living room, all of them.

   At the two pools we frequent - Camp Harlow and Amazon - he would go down the big slides for an hour straight. He got to the point his little legs couldn't get up the steps (each one is about 2/3rds the length of his leg), so he'd walk halfway up and need me to carry him the rest of the way, then giggle the whole way down. It was glorious.

   But the slide that was king of them all was the big long one at Camp Harlow. It's roughly 6 million feet high and 42 feet long and holy cow did he love it.

Aaaand this might be my favorite picture ever. Because I am so fond of that watch.
   Here it is in moving picture form. You'll notice at the end that he walks straight to the far complex to go down the big slide again. The whole loop takes him about two minutes.

   The first time he did this I was absolutely terrified. Remember, he's not even two years old. He sort of snuck away from me and I realized I had a better chance of catching him at the bottom than racing him to the top. The second time I was still a little nervous. Then it became the greatest thing in my life. There's probably some lesson in all of that, but I think it's "slides are really fun."

   One time towards the end of our slide marathon, Link got a little too excited. He started to lean forward to grab me pretty early, and fell forwards. He was about to take a big bite of hard round metal, but luckily some selfless hero was there to save the day. I quickly threw my hand in the way, figuring him biting me was better than him losing all of his teeth,. While this essentially worked, it basically turned in to me punching his face instead of his face punching the slide. He still got a fat lip and my hand was all cut up. I do not regret allowing him to go down a slide that was thirty four times his height.

   My sister and sister-in-law have been running a camp for kids whose parents are incarcerated. It's called Camp Agape. It's an overnighter that takes place at Camp Harlow, free for the children, and devoted to making them feel loved, encouraged, equipping them with supplies for the school year, and telling them about Jesus. It's a simply wonderful thing. My brother volunteers as a counselor, my wife volunteers in the kitchen, my parents probably do something too, and I hope to get some credit for being related to these wonderful people. While they are all working, I take my boys to camp so they can play.

   Also, things like this happen:

Wyatt learned this from watching mom. This is exactly how she kisses.

   So really, Camp Harlow is just like Pawnee.

   My summers growing up were lived out at Camp Harlow, which on summer weeks is a camp run by First Baptist Church in Eugene for K - 8, primarily. Counseling, swimming, playing, working. It was my second home. One of the saddest things for me about being a parent has been knowing that my kids won't have camp in the same way that I did. Where can I find a space that they can run, play, love, and care for, besides their own room? I still haven't answered that question (although Marist is kind of becoming that place lately), but I absolutely treasure the three days each year that my boys get to play at camp, while I get to remember it.

   So now camp is the place where I learned how to work, and where Lincoln learned how to slide, and Wyatt learns how to swim. Somehow those boys are able to walk around and everyone knows who they are. It's an extremely gratifying feeling to let them run and watch them grow up out there.

Here's to next summer, when they'll be bigger and doing different things and never 1 and 4 again.

My mood: melancholy
Link's mood: runny nose forever
Wyatt's mood: excited about Halloween
Cara's mood: tired of working
Listening to: Nothing. (That's not a band. At least I don't think it is. Is it? I don't know. Look it up. They're great.)