We’re Not “Just Kidding” About Family Concert Sweepstakes

1098250_545738725492014_317931531_nAs a long-time advocate of parents sharing music with their kids, I’m happy to be part of promoting a new sweepstakes that might send you and your family to New York City to see a live performance at Symphony Space. Cue the orchestra, here are the from the sweepstakes press release:

Beginning today, Symphony Space and SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s Kids Place Live will launch a nationwide sweepstakes offering a family weekend getaway trip to New York City, plus other great prizes.  Announced today on the “Absolutely Mindy” show on SiriusXM Kids Place Live channel 78, and running through August 21, the No Kidding? Just Kidding! sweepstakes details are posted at http://www.siriusxm.com/nokidding. Prizes are as follows:

  • Grand Prize: A family weekend getaway in New York City, October 4 to 6.  One lucky family will win the following prize package, valued at approximately $3,500: air transportation for four from anywhere in the continental United States, two nights at the Hotel Newton on Manhattan’s Upper Westside, four tickets and backstage passes for Symphony Space’s debut event of the Just Kidding season, with The Story Pirates. The winning family will also get to meet Absolutely Mindy from SiriusXM’s Kids Place Live.  Meals at Big Daddy’s, Two Boots Pizza and the Thalia Café are also included. PLUS: The Story Pirates will perform a story written by the winning family’s children.
  • Five Second Prize winners will each receive a library of CDs from every musical artist performing at Just Kidding this season, plus new children’s books from Symphony Space’s Thalia Kids’ Book Club and a Just Kidding t-shirt.
  • Everybody Wins!  All entrants will receive a free digital download, featuring more than a dozen songs from this season’s Just Kidding performers, all top artists in the national family music scene.

Entries in the No Kidding? Just Kidding sweeps must be received by August 21, 2013 at 9 pm EST. The sweepstakes will be open to anyone in the continental United States, except where prohibited. Other restrictions may apply. The Grand Prize winner must be able to travel to New York City over the weekend of October 4 to 6, 2013, and attend the 2 pm Story Pirates performance at Symphony Space on October 5, 2013. The grand prize offer is not valid for any other dates. Grand and second prize winners will be announced on August 30, 2013. Partners in the No Kidding? Just Kidding sweepstakes include Hotel Newton, Kidville, Parents Magazine, Big Daddy’s and Two Boots restaurants.

About Just Kidding: Presenting everything from break dancing to ballet, along with planet-hopping puppetry, electroluminescent dinosaurs, and new tunes from the nation’s hottest kindie rock artists, Symphony Space announces a wide-ranging mix of live performance for its critically acclaimed Just Kidding series. The 2013-14 season launches on October 5th with a kid-driven sketch comedy performance by The Story Pirates, and runs most Saturdays and some Sundays through April ’14. Details are at http://www.symphonyspace.org/justkidding.

For more on children’s music and other stuff Family Man Recommends, click here.

Posted in Activities With Kids, Children's Music Reviews, Family Man Recommends, Family Music, Family Music Reviews, Music, Sweepstakes & Promotions, Traveling With Kids | Leave a comment

National Treasures

By Gregory Keer

yosemite1“Do I have to go? Nature’s overrated and hiking is boring.”

No, that was not one of my children, who complain about things just because we ask them to do it. This time, it was good ole city-boy me, moaning about Wendy’s suggestion that we head to the woods for a five-day excursion.

Sticking with her habit of ignoring my complaints, my wife scored a last-minute reservation at a lodge in an up-state national park. I had wanted anything else – a few days by the beach to doze or maybe a miracle European trip (hoping airfares would magically lower to 1970s prices). But Wendy, who works travel Web sites like a computer hacker, snagged this affordable trip to a land of dust, granite, and bad food.

When we announced our plans to the boys, they did something their father could not muster. They cheered and set about packing rugged clothes, flashlights, and survival food with the gusto of seasoned K2 climbers.

“Daddy, can I help you pack?” my middle son, Jacob (age 10), offered, sensing I needed a little push.

While it wasn’t enough to erase my internal resistance, seeing my kids rally to get on the road spurred me to ride the coattails of their enthusiasm. So I loaded up the iPod with music — a mix of songs the boys like and a bunch of Daddy’s R&B classics — dug out the neglected hiking shoes, and packed the SUV for adventure.

Less than seven driving hours later, we were in the park. Any remnants of grumpiness on my part were whisked away by the breeze wafting through our open windows. Tall pines, their tangy scent filling our senses, lined our route as we pulled over to make our first hike to an easily accessible but nonetheless impressive waterfall.

A little while later, we dropped our luggage in the dated yet comfy room and the kids rushed outside to play at a stream not more than 70 yards from our back door. Above us, mountains ringed the valley where we stood, replacing the office buildings we had in our recent memories.

“Look at the deer right in front of us!” Ari (7) announced as he scampered toward a pair of beautiful creatures munching on grass. With only one warning, as opposed to the six we usually have to shout to get him to comply, he stopped and stared at the deer as they enjoyed their late-afternoon snack.

Over the next few days, this national park vacation of ours – one that I had dreaded – climbed in my estimation. Every day, we combined fairly rigorous hiking with sitting by rivers and streams, taking in the endless natural curiosities around us. Little Ari made it up most of the mountain climbs, rarely objecting to the effort, and stalwartly dealing with wet clothes from the time he tripped into a pool of water.

A favorite trek was one I made with the two oldest boys. My frequently edgy teenager, Benjamin, was never so focused on a family effort as he was in leading us up a 2,425-foot climb. Feeling my age a bit, I relied on Benjamin and Jacob to inspire me up to the top, where we bore witness to a spectacular view. We took pictures and hugged each other, having conquered something bigger than just getting to school on time.

In our downtime, we sipped lemonades in the lodge while the kids read books about national parks. Truly fascinated, they never hesitated to teach us about the wildlife and geography they learned through the words on the page and the experience outdoors.

At the end of the stay, we stopped to see one last vestige of nature’s showmanship – a young bear scratching his butt on a fallen tree trunk. As the kids laughed, Benjamin, who seldom seems to enjoy time with his younger brothers and boring parents, suggested, “We should see a different national park every year.”

I’m certainly game to do this, because it confirmed what I sometimes forget. Kids are meant to play in nature. It calms them. It inspires them. The ground is meant to fall on, its earthy softness easy on young knees. The mountains and trees are meant to be scaled, rather than observed as pixilated images on video games. I owe more opportunities like this to my children.

In this month of our nation’s birthday, it’s fitting to praise “America’s best idea.” National parks are wonders worth beholding, whatever your camping aptitude is. They entertain as they teach and respect the average citizen’s budget. Although they need more financial support than ever, they do more for our children than we can ever repay. Most of all, they can turn cranky city dads like me into lovers of nature. Now that’s worth a proper salute.

Posted in Columns by Family Man, Travel, Traveling With Kids | 1 Comment

What Dads Need to Know: The Long Ride Home

By Laura Diamond

The following is an excerpt from the journal about Laura Diamond’s cross-country experience with her husband and kids. You can read her entire travel journal at her Web site, linked below.

Moving from Stowe to Burlington, Vermont, meant moving up in population size from 5,000-ish to 40,000-ish. Like astronauts acclimating to earth’s gravitational pull after time in space, we were visiting increasingly larger places so that Los Angeles would not crack us upon re-entry.

Burlington, a bustling college town with views of Lake Champlain, was a boon to our license plate game.  Students gearing up for the start of classes at University of Vermont came from all over the country — Washington, Tennessee, Iowa, even California. Church Street Marketplace, several pedestrian blocks of stores and restaurants, was reminiscent of Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade, minus the buskers. We walked along the bluffs of Lake Champlain, and could all but convince ourselves we were on Ocean Avenue looking at the Pacific Ocean, but for the minor fact of New York’s Adirondack mountains in the distance.  Our adjustment process was progressing.

Until we visited Shelburne Farms, a 1400-acre working farm, national historic site and nonprofit environmental education center located on the shores of Lake Champlain, which welcomes guests to milk a cow, gather eggs, watch cheese being made, and enjoy food grown on its grounds. Two steps back toward small town goodness.

We left Burlington loaded with goodies from Shelburne Farms’ gift shop – wine, maple syrup and chocolate – to enjoy and share with friends and family who would be hosting us on our path. We decided to skip Boston and gratefully accepted an old friend’s invitation to visit her in Amherst. It had been nearly twenty years since we’d seen each other. Among other things, one of the highlights of this trip was the chance to renew friendships, and inaugurate new ones between our families.

The next day, racing against Hurricane Irene’s arrival, we aimed to arrive in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania in time for dinner. The route we chose was, nonetheless, along a path less taken.

Forgoing speed, we charted a course through Redding, Connecticut in order to visit the setting of My Brother Sam is Dead, a book we were reading to delve into American revolutionary history while in that neck of the woods. (Teacher extraordinaire Mr. Miguel Espinoza had pointed the way to GoogleLitTrips.com, which pointed the way to the places in the book, as did Redding’s own town website).

Despite initial griping, Aaron took the helm of the camera, and documented the places from the book, including gravestones of the real people we were reading about.

We continued on smaller roads, through New York towns like Chappaqua (of Clinton fame) and Tarrytown (of Washington Irving and Sleepy Hollow fame), crossing the Hudson at the Tappan Zee Bridge. We arrived in Washington Crossing in time for dinner with grandparents, aunt, friends and dogs, and hunkered down for Hurricane Irene. When the coast was clear, we bade farewell and set off to complete our journey.

The boys could smell home, just two days away. They’d had it with history. With sightseeing. They were done. But we had two days, and the wealth of potential activities in Washington, DC tormented me. How could we choose? Bicycle tour of the monuments; visiting the new Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial; tour the Bureau of Engraving & Printing to see money being made, the International Spy Museum?! These were all on our list of want-to’s. But time ran out, and they’ll be on our list again next time.

We decided to venture past Washington, D.C. (okay, we accidentally went to Virginia while looking for parking near the National Mall – my fault), to visit the home of George Washington in Mount Vernon, and historic Alexandria, Virginia.

I’m still not sure how I feel about Mount Vernon. On the one hand, I was curious to see how the first President lived, see the faded wooden floors where he stood, the chair where he sat, the bed where he died. On the other hand, I was sickened by imagining the horror of being enslaved there, as I walked on the same paths as the human beings he dominated to keep his house painted, his chamber pots cleaned, his family well-fed and pampered. I looked at the massive stately tomb of the most revered American, knowing that paces away nearly 300 slaves were buried without so much as a gravestone.

So, that was fun.

We lightened things up later that afternoon in Alexandria, eating crepes outdoors by the Town Hall, cruising the Potomac, and browsing some of the 62 artists’ studios at the Torpedo Factory Art Center. We drove our rented Chevy over cobblestone roads past charming brick buildings. I soaked up the other-ness of it, anticipating the mini-malls and wide avenues of L.A. in my future.

The following day, our last full day of this summer adventure, we spent with friends at the Newseum, a gleaming treasure trove of history and temple to the First Amendment.

Here’s a place I could visit again and again. The kids were enthralled by “the Death Tower,” one of the checkpoints the museum had imported from East Berlin along with sections of the Berlin Wall. They listened with astonishment as to its purpose — for guards to see and then shoot fellow citizens trying to escape to the other side — and noted that the West side of the wall was painted with murals and graffiti, the East side was dismally blank.

In another exhibit, I listened to a radio report of Jesse Owens winning four gold medals at the 1932 Berlin Olympics, then watched Tom Brokaw reporting the fall of the Berlin Wall. Everyone had a chance to try their hand as TV news reporters, joining their cross-country friends.

And then it was over.

We boarded an airplane headed for Los Angeles. On my right, the kids watched a Harry Potter movie for the tenth or twentieth time. On my left, Christopher read a magazine. In the middle, I typed these words. When we pulled up to the California grandparents’ home, they were waiting for us, along with the cousins and sister we’d missed more and more every day.

Everything is as it always was.

Thanks for reading.

Laura Diamond is the mother of two (frequently healthy) boys. She is the editor of the best-selling anthology  Deliver Me: True Confessions of Motherhood, and is now at work on her first novel. Read more of Laura’s essays at Laura Diamond Writes On…

Posted in Activities With Kids, Featured Moms & Dads, Travel, Traveling With Kids, What Dads Need to Know | Leave a comment

Tripped Up

By Gregory Keer

I am geographically challenged. As a child, my navigational deficiencies surfaced when I got lost in shopping malls and grocery stores. I regularly made the milk-carton waiting list for missing persons.

As a teenager, my directional disorder extended to my driving. I often criss-crossed the city, missing freeway off-ramps, making panicked calls from payphones, and being late to dates because I couldn’t find my way to a coffee shop without a Bat Signal or police escort.

Even after two decades with a wife who rivals the Thomas Brothers for route-making mastery, and despite the benefits of online map programs, I still can’t drive far without wondering if I’ll need a search-and-rescue team to find me hours later.

All of this explains why leading a road trip with my children gives me a palsy shake.

Spurred by my desire to overcome my failings in the name of giving my kids memorable experiences, I prepare for a three-day trip to San Diego with my youngest sons (my wife is working out of town and my oldest has plans with his grandparents). I print directions from Yahoo! Maps for each proposed stop and pre-load Google directions onto my phone. I even have the benefit of having made the journey before, albeit with my wife navigating, so I have some sense of how to get there. How could anything go wrong?

After 20 minutes on the freeway, my heart palpitates. I call my wife long distance.

“I’m lost,” I say edgily.

“Are you on the 405?” my wife whispers from a meeting across the country.

“Yahoo says to take the 5 and there’s no 5,” I stammer.

“Turn around and get on the 405,” she says. “It’s easier for you.”

“What do you mean, ‘easier for me’? I reply defensively.

At this point, my precocious nine year old looks up from his video game.

“Daddy, take the 405,” Jacob instructs.

“I can handle this on my own,” I say with forced confidence.

Of course, I double back for the 405. Two hours, countless map checks, and several surface-street U-turns later, we reach our destination. 

“We’re here,” I announce proudly.

“Are you sure we’re in the right place?” Jacob remarks.

“The parking lot has animal signs!” Ari (6) confirms.

The San Diego Zoo is well worth the stress of traveling there and I maneuver around the park fairly well as we observe all manner of beasts, including the lions Ari favors and the performing seals Jacob loves. When we ride the aerial tram, I look over the surrounding area, thinking that everything seems easy to get to from a bird’s eye view.

Following a night in which I take 30 minutes to find the seafood restaurant that is three minutes from our hotel, we arrive at our next day’s location, Legoland. This is an amusement park meant for me — small enough that it’s simple to re-orient myself when I end up in Pirate Shores despite the plan to find The Dragon roller coaster. All day, Jacob tries to take charge as our guide, but I successfully lead us for seven fun-filled hours.

On our trip’s last morning, I feel grand. I’ve entertained, nourished, and rested my sons without mistakenly stumbling across the national border. We rejoice with the reward of a room service breakfast (how does a bowl of oatmeal end up costing $15?) for cooperating with Daddy, even during his most anxious moments.

A visit to the Fleet Science Center at Balboa Park rounds out our itinerary in apt fashion since we’re supposed to get lost in the interactive exhibits. Still trying to prove he can navigate better than me, Jacob finds a whole wing of the museum few visitors know about.

It’s 8pm by the time we head home. My hope is that the kids will fall asleep quicker than it takes for me to suffer my inevitable panic attack about changing freeways.

“Daddy, do you know how to get back?” Jacob says groggily.

“I sure do,” I promise.

“Thanks for taking us all over the place,” he yawns.

I smile into the rearview mirror as he drifts off to slumber.

An hour later, I frantically negotiate through surprising traffic to get to a gas station before we run out of fuel. Then, I have a heckuva time finding an onramp and almost miss the freeway switch — twice.

But we do get home. And nobody needs to know how we got there, right?

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What’s Your Favorite Vacation?

What has been your all-time favorite vacation spot with your kids? If you have a top 2 or 3, tell us! One word answers and multiple sentence responses are welcome. Ours has been family camp because of the friendships and freedom our kids (and we) have enjoyed. Second would be a road trip to Utah.

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Hotel Sweet

By Gregory Keer

Who needs airplane flights with their predictable liftoffs and restrictive windows that don’t allow kids to touch those tantalizing clouds? How exciting is it to visit national parks with wonders that are just as easily seen on the Internet without the risk of allergy attacks? What good is an island paradise when children cannot drink anything spiked with rum?

The real center of vacation fun is the hotel room.

After 11 years of traveling, my kids rank hotel visits as the most preferred part of their getaway experiences. Even if my family wasn’t on a budget, my boys would take a stay in a low-cost inn over most any other adventure.

Actually, cost cutting is where the good times begin. For our most recent road trip, my wife and I start our journey at the computer.

“Where do you want to go?” I ask Wendy.

“Let’s see what the booking sites come up with,” she says as if she’s about to roll dice.

For several hours that night, we troll online reservation services, including Hotwire.com and Travelocity.com, before we settle on Priceline.com. With the staccato encouragement of William Shatner playing in our heads, we invite the kids to the laptop to see what pops up once we commit to a room price.

“We could get a hotel for $5!” Jacob shouts from his seven-year-old economic perspective.

“Not exactly,” I reply as the response downloads. “But we’ll take $60 a night for a three-and-a-half star hotel close to the beach!”

A week later, we arrive at a fairly new hotel, albeit in a corporate park rather than near the beach (location uncertainty is part of the trade-off for a low room rate). But the kids are already excited.

“Cool lobby,” Ari (4) giggles as we head toward check-in.

Wendy pulls me aside by the arm less burdened by backpacks and toys. “We can’t let the hotel see we have three kids or they’ll try to charge us for two rooms,” she says conspiratorially. “Wait for my cell call.”

Reunited on the third floor, my giddy kids burst into our room.

Benjamin (11) heads straight for the bed and leans back with his hands behind his head. “Nice mattress,” he offers in his pre-adolescent discernment.

Jacob sets to unpacking our bags and putting clothes in the dressers. “These drawers are better than the ones we have at home,” he critiques.

Ari breathlessly yells from the window, “We can see the other buildings! Come look!”

I join him at the glass then say to Wendy, “It’s a $60 view of an insurance company, but we’re happy, right?”

For the next hour, my sons explore the room like Alice’s in Wonderland, making rabbit-hole discoveries in the bathroom (“Check out the extra shampoos in the shower!”), the TV (“Can we watch HBO Family all day?”), and the night table (“Somebody named Gideon left his Bible here!”).

Ari finds the mini-bar, opening the fridge to a world of diminutive goodies with massive prices. “Free candy!” he declares.

I rush to prevent him from doubling our hotel bill in one bite. He cries loudly and I try to shush him.

 “Yeah, Ari,” Jacob reasons precociously. “Mommy said there are people on their honeymoon, next door, so we have to be quiet.”

“There are no honeymooners, here,” Benjamin responds.

“Yes there are!” Jacob shoots back as he slugs his brother. They commence to brawl, one of the unfortunate inevitabilities of collapsing our living arrangement into 300 square feet.

“Let’s go see the pool,” Wendy announces, averting further sibling violence.

That night, all irritation toward each other has evaporated following a day of swimming and discovering free snacks in the lobby. Our sons, who at home cannot stand to be within three feet of each other, drift off to sleep together in the queen-size bed, looking like angelic urchins in a Dickens novel.

In the morning, the kids resume their rambunctiousness, throwing pillows around without a care for the “honeymooners” next door. Jacob, still a proud new reader, nags us for “hot cakes with bananas” from the room-service menu, despite our refusals. And Ari seems to have fallen in love with the bathtub – minus the water.

Still, it takes us a long time to get outdoors. It doesn’t matter if there’s a magic show in the park starting in an hour or an IMAX presentation in the science museum that would blow their minds. We’ve got a hotel room and each other.

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Traveling Solo

By Gregory Keer

The Amtrak Surfliner is very late, which means I’ve spent the last hour trying to manage Benjamin’s alternating excitement/disappointment.

“Here comes the train,” he says as he rushes toward the oncoming freightliner.

I have to dash to shepherd him away from the tracks, while balancing a 300-pound “survival” backpack of food, books, games, and (hopefully) enough extra underwear to survive the rest of this two-day experience as a “single” father.

The train finally arrives, gleaming brighter than Thomas the Tank Engine could ever hope for. We board and sit down in a nice bulkhead-like spot. The train lurches San Diego-bound and Benjamin gets giddy, “We’re going, we’re going!”

We have three-and-a-half hours before we meet Mommy, who is at a child-development conference. Sometimes, I coast a little when Wendy is around to share the parenting load. In times like these, I’m focused and notice how much he looks like his Mommy and appreciate more comments, like “Can trains fly?”

For part of the trip, we snack on healthful peanut-butter pretzels (“Daddy, you eat them”) and cookies (“These are for me”). I try to teach him checkers, but he creates a new game (“I just want to hold them”). I point out the sights visible from out window: abandoned homes littered with scrap metal, drab warehouses. Not much to see until we hit the jackpot — a parking lot for cranes! It’s all Benjamin can do to point out each one. I never knew cranes could come in so many sizes and colors. I never knew I would ever care

Then, a young woman sits down across from us. She’s heading down to a small town in the South Bay. She’s a single mother taking a break to visit a friend. She’s friendly and nice to Benjamin. She doesn’t want to talk much; she’s just enjoying some quiet time before disembarking for a night out with her old friend.

The gentle, perpetual motion of the train beckons me to sleep. I try valiantly to stay awake for Benjamin. But he soon drifts off against my shoulder. This is indeed a little slice of heaven, sitting back as the sky darkens over the industrial landscape, me and my son.

When we awake, a new person is sitting across from us. A young girl. She has candy. She gives the candy to Benjamin. Quiet time is over.

Despite my grogginess, Benjamin starts to wrestle with me on the seat. “I’m going to get you.” I pretend to go down in repeated defeat, then draw the line at, “Let’s hop on pop!” A crowded train is one place where Dr. Seuss is not helpful.

I try to curb the sugar rush with offerings of a light dinner, including cheese and carrots. He snaps off a piece of carrot, “I’m all done now!.” So I offer a walk. It’s hard enough to follow a three-year old without the wobble of a train ride. We manage to walk around a bit, annoying/entertaining other passengers before going downstairs.

He climbs on an empty seat and discovers the emergency lever. I tell him not to touch it. “Why?” he asks. “Because it makes the train stop.” He thinks about this, “I want to get off, now,” he sees, reaching for the device. I lunge for the lever and explain, “Other people don’t want to get off.” “Why not,” he asks. Normally, at this early-evening hour, I would have my wife around to spell me from this persistent challenge.

We go further up the train car and meet a very nice group of people. A woman offers Benjamin one of those foam dinosaurs on the end of a bendy wire. He picks it up and becomes absorbed in it. I get to talk to an adult for a while. She was rather cute, too, and very impressed at my fatherly abilities. And, yes, the cliché of how helpful a kid would’ve been in my single days did occur to me.

But then the inevitable statement. “I have to go potty.”

After potty, we go for another trip around the train, all the while reviewing the reasons why we cannot get off the train just yet. Finally, the train pulls into the station. Benjamin can’t wait to see Mommy. And neither can I. He still has one last question for me to wrangle, until she arrives to meet us.

“Where’s San Diego?” he wants to know.

“We’re here,” I say.

“I don’t see it,” he opines, trying to make sense of the fact that a train station cannot possibly be all there is to the city.

I’m wiped and thankful that Wendy has the station wagon she drove down the other day. We drive off to pick up our friends Nicole and Joel and go to a late dinner. I try to remain nonpartisan as Wendy takes her turn parenting, as she works on feeding our picky eater.

Then, Benjamin needs to go potty again. Feeling guilty that I have shirked all duties for the past hour, I volunteer to take him. We go in and it is then I discover something horrible — he has already gone in his clothes. And its not…exactly…tidy. In fact, it’s a Defcon 4 alert untidy.

Exhausted, distressed, and trying mightily not to let him see me sweat (we mustn’t say anything to cause a regression in the potty training), I proceed to unpeel his clothes.

Exhausted, distressed, and not at all afraid to cry, he says, “I don’t want to be naked, now!” I try to console him while I pat him down with several rolls of toilet paper in this public bathroom. A man walks in and starts to giggle, watching me try to clean up my poor son.

Then, Joel walks in. The search party. “Are you all right?”

“Does it look like I’m all right,” I say, looking fairly untidy myself.

Joel tries hard not to laugh. I tell him to tell my wife, “She owes me – big time.”

Joel leaves and I ponder the desecrated Blue’s Clues undies. I decide to throw them away. Benjamin is not happy about that, but I’ve lost the ability to reason. I shove his pants back on (though still a bit untidy) and burst out of the restroom with him under my arm. I return to the table and there they are, laughing hysterically at my predicament. Benjamin laughs with them. And I say to my wife, “I am done parenting for the rest of the weekend.”

It didn’t stop there, actually. Wendy had to work at the conference the next day and Benjamin was all mine for most of that Saturday. It turns out he had a stomach virus (the obvious cause of the bathroom fiasco) and I felt like a complete failure because I couldn’t get him to eat or have fun at the kids’ museum.

It was all of 48 hours, but in that stretch of time, I tasted a morsel of life as a single parent. It was chaotic. It was precious. It was exhausting. It was character building. Could I do it on an ongoing basis? Yes, because I treasure my son and would do everything I could to help him grow up happy and strong — in spite of untidy occurrences.

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