The traffic on the street
Should have your focus, little lady.
Put your damn phone down and
Hold your daughter’s hand.
She can barely walk,
She doesn’t understand waiting,
She knows nothing of cars darting towards the curb.
She needs you, now.

You seem to know nothing of priorities
Your social media can wait,
Your checking for news can wait,
Your high score on Candy Crush can wait,
You’ve got a toddler,
She needs you now,
But you’re lost in a digital dream,
Somewhere between unconscious and neglectful.

Were you thinking about this when you took that chance?
Was he thinking about this?
You know, that guy who promised you everything
For those few minutes of pleasure…
Probably not on both cases,
Now the truth is alive,
So long as she doesn’t get hit by a car
While you are scrolling on your phone.

Jack Dean (Finance, Eight Bars Parent)

My kids are caught up in this mess,
We, adults, started it,
It’s like people talking
When you putt,


I never thought my daughter would do this.
I guess I could see my son doing this.
I don’t think I’m going to bother with it all.
I’ve got new wedges to break it.

Why do parents scream at their kids,
Especially at the beach?
The sand is hot,
The sun is bright,
The waves are big,
The day is long.

Who believes kids won’t struggle
Under those conditions?

Add to those things,
Cigarette breaks,
A failure to bring ice cream money,
And a lack of parental patience

It’s no wonder that kid is screaming.

Parenting is hard, especially when there are two growing boys and both parents are working rotating shifts. Somebody told me once that, “Parenting keeps you young.” An older lady who was sitting next to us chimed in, “No it doesn’t. It makes you tired.” Somehow, though, most of us feel a need to become parents and despite our best efforts things do not always work out in the favor for Parent of the Year awards.

December in Williamsburg is an iffy time of year. Sometimes the air drops to around a temperature that might allow for snow. Fortunately for Williamsburg and its snow removal budget, the temperatures stay warm enough only to cause a cold rain. So was the case one evening when my brother and I waited like angels for my mother to come home from work. We played nicely, cleaned up around the house, and made sure that all of our homework was done.


The truth is a bit messier as we were only in elementary school and had no ability to think beyond the next minute of wrestling, arguing, or the simple fooling around that brothers do. My mother was coming home from a boring day of work, a kitchen bereft of any food, and the idiocy of two sons who had been cooped up for the last two hours because of the cold drizzle outside.

“Let’s go get pizza,” she said as she took account of the prospects for a relaxing evening.

This was great. After being stuck in school and our apartment all day, a trip to Olde Towne Pizza was about the best thing ever. We walked in and the smell of cooking pizza wrapped around us taking every bit of cold from our insides. We went with pepperoni and a pitcher of Dr. Pepper and waited for the deliciousness to be delivered.

Music in December can be an iffy prospect. Olde Towne Pizza had the juke boxes in the booths back then. For a quarter you could punch the buttons and wait for your favorite song to play. Evidently, someone had robbed a Brinks truck that was full of quarters and they were in the restaurant programming the music. Two songs took turns playing. The first was “Magnet and Steel.” The chorus went, “You are my magnet and I’m your steeeeeeeel.” It was cringeworthy. The second was The King, Elvis Presley, singing “Blue Christmas.” Baluooooooe, Baluooooooe, Baluoooooooe…

The music made it seem like it took forever for the pizza to come. All the while the two songs assaulted our nerves in a way a Bisquik pizza never would have. The Olde Towne pie finally arrived and I could not tell you if we even tasted what we ate. Truth is, I think we might have gotten it boxed and made a mad dash through the rain for our car. I don’t think I ever ate there again despite the pizza being good. Take out was okay, but risking the juke box made eating there a no go.

Recently, my dog and I were riding down the highway listening to something on the satellite radio when an old tune came on. I write this sheepishly, but I sang every word of that song. “You are my magnet…”

How do I get my students to learn like that?


What is it about kids
That make me sound
Like my parents?
How universal is
The genetic code
That others feel the same way too?

Shut the door.
Walk the dog.
Get a shower.
Eat some vegetables.
Go to class.

I guess it’s just how it goes.
Our destiny is to raise
What we once were.
Like it or not,
They are us.

The sixth grade qualification
For being a father?
“I take baths without you guys asking.”

Thank goodness it’s
Not that easy.

Of course tonight
The eleven year old will right the parental scales
When he has to be asked to take a shower.

Analysis, analytics, data..

I’m overly involved,

At least on a personal level,

Except my metrics are

Meaning, significance, practicality

Instead of the outcomes so associated with

Profit, exit polls, or transcripts.

So this week of examining

Generational differences has left me

Scratching my head

For the numbers are adding up in a different way than I expected.

Maybe my non-mathematical and musically illiterate chakras needed

A shot of adrenaline to see more clearly,

But I think I’ve got it figured out…

My parents were Boomers

Growing up to be guides

Who got me to sports and let me learn from another,

Taught me to solve my own problems,

And provided me the loose boundaries

That allowed me to find my way;

Thank goodness.

So my Generation X upbringing

Somehow resembled that experienced by my Boomer parents.

Scary as it sounds to me,

I think like them.

Well, when learning about the Gen Y category this week,

I was shocked to learn that my generation

Has totally messed up the current crop of kids.

They claim we are doing everything for them.

They claim we must keep praising them

Because we built their self esteem so high

With ribbons, certificates, and trophies

That they need positive reinforcement

Like a hammer needs a nail.

We argue that they are lazy,

Forgetting that we have scheduled their entire lives

So they rarely ever made any real decisions.

We argue that they whine all the time

Forgetting that we were teenagers once too.

We argue that they don’t listen,

Can’t carry on a conversation, and 

Are not able to figure stuff out.

Then we give them a smart phone, tablet,

Or pay their way through school

Without even considering how our parenting

Might really be enabling.

In this time of great information

We, the Xers have really turned ostrich

Burying our head in a self-indulgence groomed in the eighties

That allows us to think travel teams are good parenting,

That using the latest app is knowing technology, and

That good grades are the absolute measure of a person’s worth.

I blame us for the complaints of Gen Y.

I blame all of us for just complaining.

(Finger pointing at me too.)

So in my best pop singer voice,

“I want to bring thinking baaaaaaack!”

I’m hoping my kids are growing up

Realizing that their mutt heritage is a rich source of discussion and humor

That should be accepted with pride

That will overwhelm any threat to the perfection 

I may have tried to create in them.

Learn to laugh at yourself, my children.

I’m hoping my kids can consume information,

Whether in line with their beliefs or outside of their broad

Political, sociological, psychological, humor seeking, spiritual, or cuisine craving thoughts,

And recognize the goodness of people

Whatever the label

For the labels only become bad

When the LABELER makes them bad

We can’t be hurt by what others say,


We choose to be.

Call it the Mencia Mantra and believe the old adage

About sticks, stones, and words.

I’m hoping my kids find their way

Not striving to have a big house, fancy car, or high powered job.

I’d rather they be happy, living with those they love,

Raising their kids to understand life is imperfect

And allowing my grandchildren to figure things out 

Without their parents being too involved.

I think the Gen Y kids know that perfection does not exist

They know things like advanced, proficient, basic, below basic

Labels, yes? Used appropriately? Hmmm…

They know things.

They get it.

Now, Xers, let them live.

The heat after being reminded
Of indoor consequences
Earned yesterday
Have the potential to melt the snow
Falling today
Being a kid is so hard
Wanting freedom without rules
Too bad it never worked that way
For any of us