Bare Minimum Parenting with Author James Breakwell

Bare Minimum Parenting with Author James Breakwell

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit down with James again to discuss his new book. And obviously, what really happened is we emailed each other using our phones while sipping on beers.

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I’ve Never Juggled Bowls While Riding a Unicycle, But I Do Have Children

I’ve Never Juggled Bowls While Riding a Unicycle, But I Do Have Children

An acrobat known as Red Panda has been a staple of basketball halftime shows across the country for more than twenty years. I once saw her in person at an NBA game years before I had children. I was stunned by her simple in concept, yet seemingly impossible in practice, act. In short, she rides a very tall unicycle, places an increasing numbers of bowls onto her foot and leg, flips the bowls into the air, and catches them in a stack on her head.

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The Things We Carry

The Things We Carry

A Paw Patrol jet plane, a pirate ship, a faded yellow tennis bag, a Publix bag containing a green Tupperware container of goldfish crackers and two thermos cups of water, one brown blankie, one gray blankie, and a giant toy boat.

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How Al Fresco Dining Can Help Save Your Sanity (for Like 30 Minutes)

How Al Fresco Dining Can Help Save Your Sanity (for Like 30 Minutes)

Sometimes you just need to eat dinner outside.

Before we get too far into this, let me assure that this story is not a giant humblebrag about living in Florida in the winter. I’m not going to go on and on about how the weather has been perfect lately, crisp and cool at night and beyond comfortable during the day (except for a couple days ago when it was randomly 30 degrees we almost declared a state of emergency—Lowe’s customers were practically massacring each other to procure the last of the Duraflame logs). I wouldn’t do that to any of you stuck in the northeast or Midwest or Canada who are currently living in blocks of ice or igloos or houses made of bear skins or something (I’m unclear on the details as I don’t have much experience with cold climates).

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Nighttime in December

Nighttime in December

It was a cold night, but not so cold that the boys didn’t insist on going barefoot outside. We were whittling away the sneakily long hours between dinner time and bed time by milling about in the driveway, playing with toys, old and new, and waiting for my oldest, Jacob, to finish drawing train tracks with a piece of bright pink chalk. I watched the last of the soft December light drop away behind our neighbors’ houses to the west. The jagged silhouettes of palm trees against the orange sky is one of my favorite Florida hallmarks. Cool winter evenings are pretty much the reason people choose to live in Florida. The air is crisp and there’s a certain quietness that descends with the sun. Being able to enjoy the chilly night air in a long-sleeved shirt and shorts is also a plus.

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I Found Out Why People Still Go to Malls

I Found Out Why People Still Go to Malls

Before last week, it was entirely unclear to me why malls still exist in the year 2017.

I mean, why would anyone voluntarily choose to leave the comfort of their home, drive across town through ridiculous holiday traffic, circle the giant parking lot in search of a parking spot, and walk around a crowded building just to buy things that are readily available on the internet?

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When the Little Moments Outshine the Big Ones

When the Little Moments Outshine the Big Ones

I certainly expected that first drop-off to be more dramatic and emotional. So, after the first day was successfully in the books, I figured we were out of the woods. I was wrong.

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School Days

School Days

My oldest child starts kindergarten this week. As you might imagine, I'm pretty conflicted. I'm excited for him and I know that he's ready. And to be honest, the summer has been long and hot and demoralizing at times and I know a little bit of space and time apart will be good for all of us. Three kids under age six stewing together under one roof for months on end is a volatile recipe. But still, I'm apprehensive.

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We’re Running Out of Time

We’re Running Out of Time

Our oldest child, Jacob, starts kindergarten next month. The public elementary school he will be attending has a Spanish immersion program in which roughly half of the school day is taught in Spanish and half in English. I was very excited when I found out about this program because I’ve always wanted my kids to master a second language. Besides having a bilingual parent, which he doesn’t, what better way to accomplish that goal than to start young? And to have it right there at his public school. Perfect.

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Fatherhood Reflections on Father’s Day

Fatherhood Reflections on Father’s Day

This weekend marks my sixth Father’s Day and I can’t think of a better time to reflect on fatherhood than an arbitrary holiday created because men felt slighted that there was an arbitrary holiday created to honor mothers.

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Two Dads Converse in the Parking Lot While Dropping Their Preschoolers Off for Puppet Day

Two Dads Converse in the Parking Lot While Dropping Their Preschoolers Off for Puppet Day

[In a preschool parking lot at 8:32 a.m. on a Friday. It is an unseasonably warm morning in February.]

Dad #1: Hey.

Dad #2: Hey, how's it going?

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7 Ways That Dad Whose Kids Barged in on His BBC Interview Could Improve His TV Performance

7 Ways That Dad Whose Kids Barged in on His BBC Interview Could Improve His TV Performance

By now you’ve probably seen (and maybe forgot about) the unfortunate professor whose live interview on BBC was interrupted by his two children.

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An Open Letter to My Children: People May Try to Lie to You About Our World, Don’t Believe Them

An Open Letter to My Children: People May Try to Lie to You About Our World, Don’t Believe Them

I know you don’t realize it, but our world is a little turbulent right now. Probably not any more turbulent than normal, really, but the present and future often feel more frightening than the past.

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Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just About to Light Myself on Fire Inside a Wal-Mart

Don’t Mind Me, I’m Just About to Light Myself on Fire Inside a Wal-Mart

Sometimes after I drop off my four-year-old at preschool in the morning, the other two kids and I make a quick stop at the grocery store. Sometimes we go to Publix and sometimes we go to Wal-Mart, depending on how much self-hate I am harboring on a given day. 

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Just a Few Everyday Discussions With My Four-Year-Old

4 y.o.: You know what I wish?

Me: What do you wish?

4 y.o.: I wish that I could be a PJ Mask.

Me: Oh yeah? Me too. But I want to be the one that doesn’t dress up and just stays home and sleeps at night instead of catching bad guys.

4 y.o.: …

 ****

4 y.o.: I wish there were fireworks that you can just see but don’t make any noise.

Me: Yeah.

4 y.o.: Because then I wouldn’t be scared.

Me: Mm-hmm.

4 y.o.: That would be amazing.

 ****

4 y.o.: Why do they call these hands?

Me: That's just what they're called.

4 y.o.: Why do they call these noses?

Me: That's just what they're called.

4 y.o.: *asks same question for every body part*

Me: *falls asleep, wakes up a couple house later*

4 y.o.: Why do they call these shirts?

 ****

*Listening to 80s music on the radio*

4 y.o.: What does that mean? Everybody wants to rule the world.

Me: Like everybody wants to be in charge. Everybody wants to be king of the world.

4 y.o.: Why do people want to do that?

Me: I don't know. Power. Greed. Ego?

4 y.o.: Because it's nice?

Me: Sure.

4 y.o.: The Christmas train movie is my favorite movie.

 ****

4 y.o.: When will I be old enough to watch SpongeBob? I do like it.

Me: NEVER

 ****

4 y.o.: When you swim are you supposed to cover your nose and mouth with your hand so you don’t get water in them?

Me: I don’t know if that’s possible.

4 y.o.: But are you?

Me: Yes.

 ****

J: If we eat all the apples there are zero apples.

Me: Right.

J: If there are no trees left on earth there are zero.

Me: Yes?

J: If there is no sun there are zero.

Me: Ok.

J: I wish the sun would go away because it's too hot.

Me: But we need it or earth would be too cold.

J: But I like it cold.

Me: It would be very, very cold without the sun.

J: I like it very, very cold.

Me: Ok fine.

J: There is supposed to be a polar bear in the house at Christmas.

Me: ...

 

Don’t forget! My book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, is now available for immediate purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and pretty much all of your favorite online book retailers. Paperback and ebook versions are both available. Don’t wait…everyone is doing it! (And by everyone I mean more than zero people.)

Parents Take Three Kids Under Age Five to the Science Center and Pretty Much Survive!

Parents Take Three Kids Under Age Five to the Science Center and Pretty Much Survive!

You know those weekends in August when it feels like summer has been going on for about a decade? Like somehow there was a disruption in the space-time continuum and the calendar just froze in place for a few weeks or years? But the calendar is the only thing that is frozen because the temperature outside hasn’t dipped below 90 degrees in several months? However, on the plus side, you know autumn is right around the corner and you will start to feel an ever so slight freshening in the air in only eight more weeks? Okay, twelve weeks tops? You know those weekends?

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What We Send Our Preschooler to School With on Theme Days Versus What the Good Parents Send

Photo Credit: Sebastian Pichler (www.unsplash.com)

Photo Credit: Sebastian Pichler (www.unsplash.com)

Bubble Day

Us: One small bottle of bubbles

Good Parents: 10 bubble wands and an oversized jug of bubble liquid refill

Movie Snack Day

Us: Ziploc sandwich bag containing goldfish crackers

Good Parents: Individual snack packs for the whole class and/or two boxes of donuts

Valentine’s Day

Us: Box of cards (with stickers included!) purchased at 10:30 p.m. the night before at Wal-Mart

Good Parents: Home-made, personalized heart-shaped cards that say “O-Fish-Ally Yours” with individual packs of goldfish crackers attached

Puppet Day

Us: Finger puppets borrowed from a friend the day before

Good Parents: Full-scale replica of the Sound of Music goatherd puppet stage complete with the full cast of marionettes

*I may have exaggerated a little on one of these (only one), because our kid got sick and had to miss one of the days, but I'm pretty sure that's how it would've gone. The overall point stands: we seem to be doing this wrong.

 

Don’t forget! My book, Fatherhood: Dispatches From the Early Years, is now available for immediate purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and pretty much all of your favorite online book retailers. Paperback and ebook versions are both available. Don’t wait…everyone is doing it! (And by everyone I mean more than zero people.)

Some of My Two-Year-Old's Favorite Activities

Favorite Activity #9

Favorite Activity #9

  1. Opening doors by himself
  2. Pressing elevator buttons
  3. Getting his way
  4. Sitting on my head
  5. Wandering around in restaurants
  6. Opening and closing the garage door 
  7. Getting a water cup at Panera by himself; having me lift him up to fill the cup with water by himself; getting a top and straw by himself; repeating 17 times
  8. Threatening to put his older brother in timeout
  9. Feeling the baby
  10. Having a relatively loose definition of "by himself"
  11. Climbing on my back to "giddy up horsey" anytime I kneel, crouch, or lie face down for some reason
  12. Depending on the day and week, watching either Robots, Inside Out, or The Cat in the Hat at least three times a day
  13. Saying no
  14. Running “super fast”
  15. Marching with yogurt 
  16. Waving goodbye to any car that leaves our property
  17. Jumping on me when I'm sleeping
  18. Browsing through iPhone photo galleries
  19. Walking up and down steps in the swimming pool
  20. Walking up and down steps in general
  21. Microwaving his food because it's too hot
  22. Serving as de facto dictator of our household