Results tagged “fatherhood” from Ye Olde Rad Blog III

Newport Harbor Christmas Boat Parade


The 101st annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade began Wednesday. It goes on every night in Newport Harbor (from 6:30 to 9PM) 'til Sunday, which is the grand finale. Saturday will probably see max crowds. We went last night (Thursday) and the island was hoppin'. Electric.

101st Annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat ParadeThe boats are colorful and fun to watch. Sure. But the best part of the boat parade is simply being out among the festivities .. with a big crowd of Orange County people, who are all in a festive mood .. exuding the Christmas spirit. (And it's all free.)

All the houses on the island are decorated to the hilt. (One guy told me his electric bill was $600/month. His meter was spinning like a dang gyro.)

Some years the weather is freezing (by Southern California standards), being on the water, but last night it was downright balmy. We saw at least two brass bands, complete with tuba, playing your favorite Christmas songs.

The Bug brought along his scooter (razor), which worked well for getting around. We started on Balboa Island and rode the ferry across to the peninsula, where we played in the fun zone for a while. (I let him beat me at air hockey, 7-to-5, and then shoot a gun in a stand-up video game, where he blasted lots of villians.)

Of course we had to get some hot buttered popcorn, and after that, a light-saber from a sidewalk vendor, who pushed a dazzling cart surrounded by eager kids. What a great time we had.

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The Bug Rides .. without Training Wheels!


The Bug rode a bike for the first time this week. I mean » a 2-wheeler, without training wheels. One of the major milestones on the road to manhood.

Bicycle I was excited (.. even more than he was) .. running alongside, shouting » "Oh my God! You're riding!" Waiving my arms like an idiot.

But later disappointed. Cuz I had anticipated spending a few days teaching him. Instead, he just hopped on and rode off (.. his very first try).

I didn't say anything, but was thinking, "Doncha know you're supposed fall & crack your noggin a few times .. like I did?"

I've been talking to various dads the past few weeks, learning different techniques on how to teach him to ride ...

.. such as » remove the pedals & let him push himself along, allowing him to become accustomed to the bike's balance at his own pace .. or » grab him by a snug-fitting t-shirt between the shoulder blades and run alongside .. again, giving him most of the balance .. and also » the 'broomstick technique.'

Riding a bike is all about » balance. I think the reason he picked it up so quickly is cuz he's been riding a 2-wheel scooter around town the last few weeks. It's actually called » a razor. (He's a little demon on that razor.)

Horrible Dream @ 4:44


Horrible dream last night. The digital clock on my nightstand read 4:44 (in big green numbers) when I woke .. feeling like I'd just finished running a marathon. Nothing like starting the day exhausted & covered in sweat.

Amusement ParkHaven't had a dream where I lose the Bug in more than a year. But they're the most terrifying.

We were at an amusement park (in my dream) .. riding this thing that goes around & around .. like a wavy roller coaster. (Metaphor for my life?)

As the ride concludes, the Bug says (urgently), "I gotta pee," and runs off, down the ramp .. with a bunch of other kids.

"Wait!" I shout. But his belongings are scattered around the cart we rode in. I quickly gather them up before hurrying after him.

He couldn't have gotten very far, but I lost sight. Lots of kids his age are scurrying about (happily). Soon as I exit the building, I see it's early evening. Warm & almost dark, but the grounds are well-lit.

As I call out for him, a boy tugs on my shirt sleeve and points to a man standing near the entrance to the ride we just came off. "Did you lose a boy?" he asks. "We have him upstairs." Immediately I'm relieved. Seems like a very nice guy.

As a side note, in my other dreams where I lose the Bug (at a campground, for example, out in the woods), I always go "upstairs" to try to find him (.. to a rec room located above the cafeteria at the campground).

But once I get there, I always find people who seem to know something, but refuse to say anything, or pretend not to know.

So this normal-looking guy takes me up to the second floor .. to a circular room directly above the ride on which we just rode.

We have to push a few boxes out of the way to get there. I think nothing of this (in my dream) .. nothing strange. I'm just looking forward to getting the Bug back. Nothing else matters.

Seems to be some kind of administrative offices up there. (It's always the second floor of a 2-story building where people tell me he is.)

When we get up there, the guy stops at his desk and pulls open a sliding shelf near the floor and takes out some toys to show me. But I don't want to see any of his stupid toys.

Then it sounds like he's trying to make some kind of deal with me. I look around and notice the place seems more like a storage area than an office (lots of boxes piled everywhere). My patience quickly expires. "Take me to my son, now!" I interrupt, shouting.

First Father/Son Bike Ride


Embarked on my first-ever father/son bike ride with the Bug yesterday. We took a leisurely trip around the Back Bay (here in Newport Beach), a popular path where few cars travel. Gorgeous day, too.

Father Son Bike RideHis little bike still has training wheels. A bigger one* sits waiting in the garage, but he refuses to ride anything without training wheels. (* Miss Julie picked it up for him in Laguna last month.)

I'm in decent shape .. seeing I've been biking everywhere .. since my license was suspended in June. So my legs feel strong.

The Back Bay loop is 10 miles. So I expected the Bug to be tired afterwards. Surprised me when he insisted on hitting the trampoline soon as we returned.

Used to be I could tire him with a full day of outdoor activity. That doesn't seem to be working so well anymore. Ever since he turned 4 .. he's become impervious. I'm the one who usually tires first.

Speaking of tiring .. last night I slept better than I have in months. Been dragging all day today .. even after a triple-espresso this morning. I made some puttanesca for lunch today. That usually helps. (Carb-loading.)

The loop is mostly flat but has one big down-hill. Made me smile to hear him yelling, "Woo-hoo!" all the way. "That was cool, dad!"

Back-n-Forth on the Trampoline


Bouncing on the trampoline with me yesterday, the Bug asked, "Did you have to go back-n-forth when you were a kid?"

jellyfish"No," I answered, waiting for his mom to come pick him up.

"Did your mom & dad live in the same house?"

"Yeah," I said, almost apologetically. [ Both my parents passed long ago, so he's never met them. ]

There I was, fielding questions I never expected to hear. (He's 4 .. and becoming more aware.) Caught me off-guard. Wasn't sure how to respond.

The Bug has been bouncing on that trampoline (and going back-n-forth) since he first learned to walk .. for most of his young life.

The neighbors, who have 2 boys of their own, generously let us use it "whenever." Consequently, he has become a pretty good bouncer. If I jump just before he does, I've noticed it launches him. ( "I get your energy, dad." )

While bouncing one time he told me, "Your hair looks like a jellyfish."

Later, he started jumping (pretty high) and touching my head, as I tried to avoid him. When he does make contact, I freak out, saying, "Ahhh, the jellyfish stung my face," which makes him laugh .. so hard it makes me start.

Many interesting conversations have occurred on that trampoline. It's one of his favorite things to do (.. up there with catching butterflies). And the neighbors are so nice to him. They say the nicest things .. pay him the sweetest compliments.

Difficult to Befriend an Attacker


Spent a good chunk of the day in court. Not a good sign when you feel like a 'regular' at the courthouse .. when faces there become familiar. Wouldn't wish this mess on anybody.


Learning a lot (unfortunately) about how the system works. (Been at this for years.) While waiting for my case to be heard, I sit there and hear lots of other cases. So I glean things.

One thing has become clear » I could never be a lawyer, or a judge .. at least not in Family law, where things are very emotional .. and where there's far more at stake than just money.

Don't know how they do it. I certainly couldn't.

On that note .. it embarrasses me that we need to have somebody in a black robe make rules for us .. and tell us what to do .. someone who has never even met the Bug. Makes me feel like a big, fat failure. (Yet admittedly, the alternative would be worse.)

You might expect, when children are at stake, that the parents, even when they no longer care for each other, would lay aside their differences .. to focus on what's best for their children. And what's best for the children, you could argue, might include the welfare of the parents (who are caring for the children).

So it's difficult for me to understand why I have been repeatedly attacked. I'm not talking just once or twice, or 3 times, or even 4 or 5 times .. or even 6 or 7 .. but many times. (I've since lost count.)

I'm talking police reports & full-on detectives getting involved. Criminal accusations .. which would involve jail time.

Now even when these accusations are deemed 'unfounded' (as they always are), they still take a toll .. an emotional toll.

Guess Who's Back


Two county sheriffs (1 male & 1 female) escorted me out after court this week. That's never happened before. I think they were just ensuring nothing happened en route. Keeping the peace. You know how ugly things can get during a custody battle.

Pooh & Piglet catching butterfliesI actually liked being escorted. Felt safe, protected. One walked on each side. They were very nice, professional. So I appreciate whoever it was that set it up. Tho I got some strange looks from passersby.

The sheriffs walked me to the edge of the property, where they watched me cross the street, then waved goodbye. =)

Kinda surreal, I thought, while waiting there at the bus stop (.. like this whole ordeal has been).

This time in court was very different. I hardly said anything. Experts testified.

First, the courtroom was cleared of all unessential people (not uncommon, due to the nature of the accusations). If you were there, and listening carefully, you might've heard the judge say the word I've been waiting to hear for years » enough.

The Zen of Sensitivity & Suffering


Was doing good until sunset on Father's day. Then it got to me and the blues arrived. Used to resist sadness, fight it. Now I just go with it. Roll with it. Flow with it, like a canoe downstream. (Resisting and fighting just wears me out.) Been here enough times that I know the drill. No big deal.

yin yang There's a prophetic verse in Isaiah saying Jesus was ".. a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief." So it seems okay to be sad, tho not particularly pleasant. I get kinda numb, distant. Feel like crying.

Been reading a book on Zen a friend gave me. Interesting ideas, perspectives. For example, here's a passage I found particularly thought-provoking.

The context is about rejecting the notion that anything that doesn't involve serious effort (and usually pain-n-suffering) is somehow unworthy or worthless. But the concept can be applied in other ways. See here:

Now there do seem to be times when verve & vigor are appropriate. Times when force works with, and not against nature. As Shakespeare said, "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune." [Julius Caesar, Act 4, scene 3]

But when the tide is not at flood, when mere brawn is up against granite, the effort to go against nature seems more stupid than splendid.

At best, one could say with the French general of the Charge of the Light Brigade, "C'est magnifique, mais ce n'est pas la guerre." To call it splendid is to base one's evaluation of man on his animal strength over what is more characteristically human » his intelligence.

This mis-evaluation is perhaps based on the common distrust of intelligence on the part of those who lack it, as something tricky, cunning and weak-spined. But this mis-evaluation also reduces the standards of human character until they are more applicable to pachyderms and rocks than human beings.

For after all, is the final test of character really just in seeing how much suffering you can endure? Your ability to endure depends on how insensitive you are. But being human is about, above all, being sensitive. And this means, the measure of character becomes, among other things, the quality rather than the quantity of your suffering.

Where are my boots?


The Bug woke extra early this morning. I was kinda hoping he'd sleep-in cuz I stayed up late last night, long after he'd fallen asleep. But no matter, he said, "I wanna watch Harold."

Muddie BootzSo I put on Harold, fixed him some chocolate milk & Cheerios, and figured it was a good time to grab a quick shower.

Few minutes later he came in and says (excitedly), "It's raining, dad!" .. which is kinda a big thing here is SoCal, where it rains so rarely.

Next thing I know, he returned with an urgency, announcing » "I gotta go poops" .. and proceeds to fill the bathroom with a wonderful aroma .. that can only be fully appreciated by those whose sinuses have been opened by the steamy mist of a hot shower. (The joys of fatherhood.)

Before running out again he says (excitedly), "I'm doing the trench!"

The trench is a ditch we dug yesterday .. some 10-feet long and a shovel's width wide/deep .. that we filled with water to make a » trench. In other words, you could substitute the word 'mud' for trench.

From the Inbox


Received lots of mail regarding yesterday's post, which helped, cuz I was in a pretty bad place .. being wide-awake most of the night .. walking around out in the yard .. looking up at the stars .. as if for answers .. or strength. The cool, night air felt good .. the quiet, soothing.

MailboxMany shared incredible stories, which make my own experiences seem trivial.

Here's one I found particularly insightful & honest .. from Bonnie, who lives up in the Bay area. Used with permission:

Dear Rad,
I have been reading your blog occasionally for eons, usually when I am in some kind of geeky trouble. You write well and thoughtfully. For that I am grateful.

And so today I sought what you have to say about monitors. While not looking very hard and not finding that, I did see your touching lament about your boy's tears.

With too much experience as a single parent, I can say this is painful but will pass. Before long, your son will be craving time with you and won't be able to get enough.

Children always crave the parent who is not present, and the hardest thing is when a grownup burdens the child with an emotional barrier to the other parent. That he is worrying about losing you both suggests too much worry for such a little fella.

"I want my mommy."


The Bug woke last night, crying, "I want my mommy". Very unusual. That's only happened a handful of times in the last 4 years .. usually when he was nursing or sick. But he's no longer nursing and doesn't seem sick.

Jungle BookI tried for 10 or 15 minutes to see if there was something I could do. But it was clear he really wanted his mom.

I tried calling several times, but there was no answer. So I drove him there and knocked on her bedroom window (midnight).

The thing is .. I see him so little as it is, and really look forward to our time together. Plus I have been criticized (in court) for bringing him back before.

But I don't really care what lawyers think (or say). And it's not about me, anyway. So when I could see he really wanted his mom, there was no question about what to do.

But now .. I am feeling very weird. A slew of confusing feeling are running around inside. Did I pay enough attention to him? Shower him with enough love? The thing is, you can *always* pay more attention to your kids, and you can always show them more love.

No More Diapers or i-key on Laptop


Got rid of the Bug's last few diapers today. He hasn't worn diapers for months, even at night. Seemed symbolic when I dropped those Huggies into the trash. End of an era. (He's 4 now.) Good that he's developing, but kinda sad, cuz they're only small once .. for such a short time.

Speaking of little ones .. the Dog called today and said his wife is pregnant. Due in October. I'm so happy for him. Couldn't stop smiling.

He's in New York. He will make a great dad. (His first.) He married a girl from the Czech Republic. (You know what they say about Czech girls.)

My laptop had a sticky i-key. So I popped it off with a thin flathead screwdriver and broke the dang mounting clip that attaches the key itself to laptop. Or at least it popped off too.

Tiny parts. Hard to work with. Broke out a magnifying glass. Hard to do anything with a magnifying glass in one hand.

Dating the Single Parent


Got roped into a discussion this weekend .. about the ups-n-downs of dating single-parents .. something with which I have first-hand experience (.. on both sides of that fence).

DatingDivorce is popular here in Southern California. So your chances of meeting an available single-parent are higher here than in other parts of the country.

"Here's a single dad!" called out an acquaintance as I walked by. (.. his table at the coffee shop)

I actually felt somebody grab my arm before I heard his voice. He pulled me over. Hadn't seen him in months. Very athletic fellow. (Always in stellar shape.)

I didn't however, know any of his 3 friends. Two girls & one other guy were seated with him. All seemed very nice, 30-something. None had any kids, nor ever been married. (I remember those days .. sorta.)

Muscles got a chair for me from another table. As I sipped my coffee, they brought me up to speed, sharing some of their experiences dating single parents. I could certainly relate, having had many good experiences of my own. (Kids usually like me, and I certainly enjoy them.)

The biggest turn-off (in my opinion) is when a single mom puts her kid(s) second .. after the relationship with the new guy. Never been able to respect a mom who did that .. no matter how flattering it might seem.

Yet the person who dates a single-parent (as the people seated at this table clearly expressed) don't want to be relegated to an after-thought. They don't want to feel unimportant. So it's not an easy line to tread.

As a single parent, I know that you can't help but feel fondly about people who go out of their way to be nice to your kids. Those who do (go out of their way) get head-of-the-line privileges (so to speak). This is not a conscious decision, mind you. Rather a parent can't help but appreciate (in the fullest sense of the word) those who are nice to our kids (I explained).

Whenever I return the Bug, after having him a few days, it can be emotionally disorienting. I mean, for days he's my focus, my whole life. Then suddenly .. nothing. It's like part of me is ripped away.

Manny the Mammoth in Ice Age the MeltdownThere's a scene in Ice Age the Meltdown where Manny the Mammoth gets hit by an exploding geyser.

When the smoke clears, Diego the Sabertooth Tiger is standing in front of him, yelling for Manny to get up. But Manny hears only a distant echo. In his dazed state, everything looks pleasantly dreamy.

That's a decent representation of how I feel, sometimes. Shell-shocked. Numb. Like somebody tossed a flash-bang into my life.

It goes away. Always does. Usually after a few hours. So I know it's no big deal. But initially, it can be difficult to cope. There have been a few times when I've been driving, and forgotten where I was going, and had to turn around and head back home. (That sux.) Most of the time however, I just stare off into space.

Used to think there was something wrong with me .. until I heard other dads describe similar experiences.

Best to be alone during these times, cuz most people can't relate (understandably). Some even take the distance personally. A walk in nature is usually the best therapy.

It's not always this way. (Maybe every third or fourth week.) But I haven't been able to figure out the variables that accompany the disorienting times. They seem to follow no particular rhyme or reason. So I haven't been able to stop it.

Tho I suspect the more the separation bothers the Bug, the more it affects me. So I try to make the transition painless as possible.

The Magic Words


I like the coffee shop for its social aspect as much as I do for the caffeine. It's usually crowded, and there never seems to be enough tables. I've met many people there by asking, "Can I sit with you until a table opens up?" Nothing like sitting with interesting people, and hearing their stories while they're amp'ed-up on caffeine. =)

The Boy, the Bear, the Baron and the Bard

On days when I have the Bug, I bring along some children's books. (I've learned a lot about children's books over the years.) It used to be I was the only one, but now I see other parents doing the same.

One guy even shared saying, "My wife saw you reading to your son. Now she makes me bring books for our daughter." =)

Normally the Bug is friendly and engaging. Many have commented on his ability (for such a little kid) to carry on conversations with adults.

[One lady mentioned taking her similarly-aged son to weekly speech-development sessions after talking to the Bug .. cuz her son wasn't yet making full sentences.]

But during our reading-time, he doesn't want to engage with anyone, nor does he want me to converse with friends. He has even placed his hand over my mouth and said, "Don't talk, dada. Read!" (sounding more like 'ReeEEED!')

Of course, I feel bad for the nice folks who stop by our table, merely wanting to engage him for a minute and say hello .. especially after they haven't seen him for a while. They don't know it's not personal, but merely bad timing.

Earlier this week, I noticed a couple who seemed enchanted with him as he made the rounds, saying hello to different friends (seated at different tables), showing off his new pirate shirt (that his dada got for him).

"My daddy's here! My daddy's here!"


Haven't seen the Bug for nearly a month. (Missed both his birthday & Christmas.) He's been back East with his mom for the holidays (.. and then some). When I arrived this morning, he came running out to the curb shouting, "Daddy! Daddy!"

Rad's Pink Cadillac That was a first. (Normally I have to park & knock before I can see him in the morning.)

Didnt even have a chance to turn off the car.

There he was. His eyes literally sparkled .. like sunlight dancing on water.

So excited was I to SEE him .. that I fumbled with the key .. unable to pull it out fast enough.

"Daddy! Daddy!" he said, glowing with anticipation as I approached, "I got a treasure chest!" "A treasure chest?" I repeated, picking him up. "Let's go see!"

"Momma! Momma!" he cried, yanking open the door and running inside, "My daddy's here! My daddy's here!" The excitement in his voice seemed to fill the whole house as it echoed outside. (I'm not welcome inside.)

It always strikes me the way he says, "My daddy's here," when I arrive .. instead of just (plain ol'), "Daddy's here." Is that possessive?

Little kids are so honest. If they like you (or not) .. you know it .. in no uncertain terms.

Many have suggested Evelyn, as a movie I should watch. It's based on a true story, and stars Pierce Brosnan (ex-007) as a father who (in Ireland in the 50's) was ordered by the court to place his 3 children in Catholic-run orphanages .. after his wife ran off with another man (to Australia).

Evelyn, starring Pierce Brosnan as Desmond DolyeEvelyn is the name of the oldest child (pictured holding her on the cover), whose testimony before the Irish Supreme Court proves decisive.

Normally I'd rather stick needles in my eyes than watch something like this. But I was feeling my oats last night. (Irish oats, that is.)

In the end, Pierce (who plays Desmond Doyle and sports a fine Irish accent) along with his band of rag-tag lawyers take their case to the Irish Supreme Court, where they challenge the constitution itself (something about it being 'repugnant').

I had to pause the DVD a few times, to take a breather, such as when one of the nuns beats little Evelyn so hard her face turns black and blue. (Almost couldn't finish watching.)

The New York Times seems to agree, by saying » "There's little that's quite so shocking as seeing a child beaten in a movie."

But backing up a bit, I must be missing something basic about the story. To be specific, I can't understand why the state/courts seem to conspire with the Catholic church to keep the kids in the orphanages, away from their dad, even after he satisfies all their requests (gets a good job, gives up beer for lemonade, etc.).

Here's the legal glitch » the law contains a stipulation that says BOTH parents must consent before the kids can be removed from the orphanage. But the wife has run off to Australia (the day after Christmas), and not even her parents can find her.

But here's what I don't get » If the wife is MIA, that (alone) shouldn't stop the court and the Church from returning the kids to their dad. I mean, I'm just using basic common sense here. Yet it does (stop them).

Nor can I see any reason why the church and state wouldn't want to do everything within their (considerable) power to reunite the kids with their dad .. especially when they all want to live together.

'Best Interests of the Child' (Family Law)


Thumbs up. (Which means the Bug doesn't lose his dad.) Portions of yesterday's entry were presented in court today. I must assume anything I write here will appear before a judge, and be used against me. (It's not the first time this has happened.)

Best dad in the whole worldI like the way the judge focused on the "best interests of the child." I can deal with any ugliness they might direct toward me, long as I feel the court has the Bug's interests at heart.

Still exhausting, tho .. cuz this stuff (which deals with parenting) taps into one of our most basic instincts, which is a powerful motivator.

Maybe you've heard the stories of ladies lifting busses off their kids. It's not easy to handle when extremely important decisions are taken away and put in the hands of another.

Friends have said, "I don't know how you do it. I would've given up long ago."

To which I reply, "It's not a conscious decision. Rather, it's something that seems to be hard-wired inside. So it's not like I have a choice. I couldn't live with myself if I didn't do whatever it took. And I'll keep at it for however long it takes. Or die trying."

Court tomorrow (exactly 1 week from Christmas). The idea of doing battle in court used to stress me .. since so much is at stake .. and lawyers whip me with their legal jiu-jitsu and years of experience.

Supreme Court

But I've been there so many times now that it no longer phases me .. at least not the way it once did.

Sure, I still do my best .. to present my case and tell my side. I'll take a shower, shave, dress nice, even wear a tie. But I've come to realize (over the years) that judges have an idea how they're going to rule before you even say a word. (At least in my case, as they've likely already seen it all before.)

If the judge likes you, and sympathizes with your position, you can say nothing wrong. If not, your most elegant argument goes nowhere (in a hurry). So altho the stakes are high, it does little good to stress.

Stilll, it's not a very pleasant feeling to have so much of your life in the hands of another. Goes against all my training.

Salty Espresso


EspressoWhile sitting in the coffee shop this morning, still half asleep, I sipped my espresso and waited for the caffeine.

From the corner of my eye, I noticed a man walk in. Big guy. He carried a young boy, maybe 18 months old.

"Cute kid," I thought, recalling the days when the Bug was light as a feather.

The line this morning was long and slow. As I watched the bright-eyed boy, who was obviously comfortable in his dad's arms, he made eye contact and gently lowered his head onto his dad's chest.

Before I knew what happened, tears welled in my eyes. It was completely unexpected. Embarrassed, I scurried to regain composure.

Wasn't feeling particularly emotional this morning. Heck, I've actually been feeling pretty good lately. Perhaps, being half asleep, my defenses were not yet set.


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