Bo Kane ::
Climb the wall to be 'World's Greatest Dad
It's the extension of the fantasies we had when WE were the kid -- when we saved the day from the bank robbers with our super karate chops, jumped off our horse to rescue the damsel in distress or caught the touchdown pass in the Super Bowl.
We like being the hero -- in our dreams, and in our lives. But every dad doesn't bask in the glory from his kids, doesn't feel like the "World's Greatest Dad" like it says on the coffee mug. He doesn't feel the love; he feels the tension.
Why? Could be lots of reasons, but here are two: either the dream of being a great dad got relegated to third or fourth place on the priority list (somewhere after work and drinking with friends), or dad didn't do the "roadwork."
You've seen footage of boxers in heavy sweat shirts doing their roadwork at dawn, running through the empty streets training for a championship. And when they hit the "wall," where their legs are buckling and their lungs are screeching, they push on and run harder. And when they get to the gym they have a coach screaming, "HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT?!"
Being a dad can be like that -- when you get sassed or ignored, when the homework is left undone, when no one told you a coke spilled and now there are ants all over, when you swear the next time you hear the word "whatever" you're going to lose your temper and *@#!!
That's the wall. The path to the dream goes over it.
We have to train in order to build our patience, our common-sense discipline, our ability to out-think our kids and get them to do the right thing (without smacking 'em). It's hard, as hard as that last mile at dawn. But, like the coach says, how bad do you want it?
Guys, this is my last column in the Post, my last chance to figuratively throw my arm over your shoulder and encourage you to make time for your kids, move them back up the priority list and train yourself like a champion to be the world's greatest dad. It'll be your favorite title.
Good luck to you all, and thanks for reading.
Man tip of day:
Check your oil when you wash your car. This kind of preventive maintenance saves a lot of headache down the road. Same goes for raising kids.
Bo Kane is a native of Griffith and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. You can reach him at MansEyeView@gmail.com.
July 24, 2008
By BO KANE Post-Tribune columnist
Man's Eye reminders
-- An ounce of prevention: As we age, we need to work on our balance. Stand on one foot for 15 seconds while you brush your teeth, then 15 seconds on the other foot. After a few weeks, up it to 30 seconds, then 45. Balance becomes crucial as our joints get brittle, especially the hips. How many people do we know have had a simple fall at home with a catastrophic result?
-- This fall when your kid is spewing out the most toxic germs this side of Chernobyl, keep him home from school. Read to him, give him soup. You'll remember this day long after you've forgotten what your presentation at work was supposed to be about.
-- Shopping malls were invented by sadists wearing blue eye shadow.
-- I believe in a person's right to own certain drugs, like aspirin and antibiotics. But not heroin or crystal meth. I believe in a person's right to own a gun. A shotgun, a pistol, a rifle. Not assault weapons, like an AK-47. Leave those to the military.
-- Each of my kids, before kindergarten, was asked what companies/stations/fast-food places they would like to own. My son loved Caterpillar bulldozers and backhoes, and my daughter watched the Disney Channel every day, so we bought them some stock in each. Every time we go by a construction site or see Disney they shout "that's MY company," learning business without even knowing it.
-- If you even think your child is fearful and wary at school and you suspect bullying, DO something. Whether it's a talk with the principal or enrolling him in a dojo, don't wait.
As for cyber-bullying, make sure your kid never gives out his or her password. Today's "friends" can turn on them tomorrow and, if they know the password, can make a vicious e-mail look like it came from your kid.
-- If you want your kids to have manners, remember that time-honored axiom: "Monkey see, monkey do."
-- If a wife finds that her husband just isn't affectionate anymore, whether in public or private, you can use what some textbooks call "I" language. Instead of saying "You never want to touch me," say "I would like for you to give me a hug," being both clear and brief (few guys want a lengthy discussion on feelings in their relationship, but will listen to a short exchange if there's a smile attached). Flirt with your husband, kid with him, laugh with him, just grab his hand and hold it. He'll be surprised at first, then he'll come around.
The Round Up
In November of '06 I wrote "Next Thanksgiving is promised to no one. Seize the day." And so it is with newspaper columnists. Next week will be my last column here in the Post-Tribune, so if you have a final comment, gripe, question, or another way of looking at things, seize the moment.
Bo Kane is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and the University of Denver. You can reach him at MansEyeView@gmail.com.
July 17, 2008
By BO KANE Post-Tribune columnist
A positive attitude and my hopes travel with me. Memories fill my luggage for the trip back home. They can't charge me for that, can they?
Thoughts while criss-crossing the country:
-- Any time a family "discussion" turns ugly, you can usually steer the conversation back to a safe place by referencing baseball, Nascar or old movies. A well-placed line from Animal House, Electric Horseman or Caddyshack ("but when I die, I'll have total consciousness, so I got that going for me") can get you back from even the most insulting "observations." ("What!? It's true.") I suppose that discussing the weather might break up the verbal fight, too, but I refuse.
-- Universal rule: When sitting around the kitchen table with relatives, give the grammar police the night off. Don't correct the double negatives or misuses of the forty-dollar words. Language is regional and that gives it its color. Besides, there are more ways to skin a cat than just sticking his head in a boot jack and pulling on its tail.
-- You don't have to be a dancer on Broadway or an actor or writer in Hollywood to be artistic. The carpenters and the cooks in our extended family have just as much talent, and the cabinets and layer cakes made from scratch are functional works of art.
-- People who haven't exercised since Reggie Jackson was in Little League shouldn't wear stretch shorts and spaghetti straps.
-- I rarely get to see lightning bugs where I live, so I spent much of last night standing on a balcony staring at them as they performed a slow-motion light parade across the meadow.
-- Mosquitoes, however, should have never been allowed on the ark. At my brother's house, they have two kinds: ones that are so small they can fly right through the screen door and ones that are so big they can just open the door and walk in.
-- I think baggage porters can spot a person who tips. I never have to wait very long for my bags to be checked out on the sidewalk in front of the terminal. A few bucks goes a long way with these guys, and the "thank you, sir" always brightens me up.
-- Still, fifteen bucks for my FIRST checked bag? C'mon.
-- It's been eight years since I had lasik surgery on my eyes, and it was worth every nickel. I'm looking at the arrival and departure screens across a huge hallway, and I can read every letter. It's only painful when I'm reading that the departure for Maui is on time, and I'm not going there.
-- People with the smallest bladders always seem to want the window seat.
-- When I was in college, I took a class in aerospace technology, studying the dynamics of lift, thrust and drag. But when I'm sitting in one of these huge tin cans and see us lift off into the clouds, I still look out the window and think "how does this thing stay in the air?"
-- My wife has trained the kids well. "We missed you" still precedes "what did you get me?" But not by much.
To tell or not to tell depends on true feelings
If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything. -- Mark Twain
Dear Bo -- I have not been married as long as you have, but I think I feel the same way about my wife as you do. I love her a lot and wouldn't want to be married to anyone else.
But, almost exactly a year ago I did something that I regret -- I had a one-night affair with a woman that I have not been with since. I have thought about telling my wife about it many times, but I haven't and she has never heard about it. Every time I think about telling her I think how hard she will take it, and I know it will come out of nowhere.
If you were me, would you tell your wife? What would you do? -- A.H.
Dear A.H. -- Two options: bad and stupid. There aren't any good ones. You did a dumb thing; you got one or two hours of pleasure (benefit of the doubt here) you may regret for the rest of your life.
But it's done, and here's one thing you can do about it now: make sure it never happens again.
According to what you wrote, and that's all I have to go on, you haven't stepped out of bounds before or since.
If that's true, and you really do love your wife and you don't think about that other girl, don't think about being with any other women and have no interest in having an affair again, then keep the information inside your vest.
Don't be a wimp and try to make yourself feel better by laying all the hurt on her. She might forgive you and make you feel all better inside, but she sure as heck won't feel too rosy.
You're the one who did the bad thing; the hurt should be on you. (Speaking of hurt, I'm presuming that this other woman didn't leave you any little surprises that your doctor should know about.)
Now, if this indiscretion of yours ever comes up, don't lie about it. Don't deny it if asked. If she never brings it up, just live with it.
It's a bad option, knowing that the dangling sword could drop down on your skull at any moment, but maybe over time the sword will reduce itself in image to something like a sharp knife. Remember, there are no "good" answers.
Here's the other option. If you find yourself thinking back on that affair wistfully, if you think, "If my wife goes on vacation again, maybe â€¦" then go ahead and tell her and take your heat. Let it fly, tell her everything.
Because if you don't know for darn sure that it won't happen again, you were stupid to get married and she should know that.
P.S. -- You're lucky the "other" woman wasn't like Glenn Close's character in the movie "Fatal Attraction." ("I will not be ignored!")
Man tip of the day
If you find yourself in a deep hole, the first thing to do is quit digging.
Family experiences the wonder of national parks
by BO KANE Post-Tribune columnist
by BO KANE Post-Tribune columnist
Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting … so get on your way. — Dr. Seuss
Yosemite National Park -- You want to feel like a pioneer? Get inside the real meaning of “America the Beautiful” and actually see a majestic purple mountain? Go to a national park.
They’re one of the best reasons to have a government; I should visit one every April 14th. This week the Kanes trekked to both Sequoia and Yosemite, with their rushing waterfalls, sequoias that reach halfway to the clouds and granite cliffs that are the very definition of “magnificent.”
Nature brings peacefulness, a sigh of relief and a sense of contented wonder; all necessary after months of slugging it out at work, in city traffic and at home with dueling television sets.
It can also bring a challenge as we stare up at the mountain and tell the kids that tomorrow we’ll hike that mountain and gaze from the highest peak, a god’s-eye view of the wonders that have existed for thousands of years.
“We’re going UP THERE?!”
That’s right, Bubba, and there’s no elevator. Now most times raising kids is not unlike trying to herd a hundred chickens through a 2-foot tunnel.
But every now and then you get to not only savor the great moments with them, but also relive the best moments of your own childhood through their eyes.
This week as I watch my kids and their cousins “discover” the complexities of nature, my mind is having a dual vacation: the “now,” and my own adventures with my cousins back in the ’60s — the fishing trips to Bass Lake, the toboggan rides, berry-picking in the woods. When they made their “cousins club” in the rocks and trees behind our cabin, I was back in my “fort.”
Mentally, this is as good as it gets. And as I rediscovered nature and my youth through the eyes of a child, I also rediscovered certain calf and thigh muscles while carrying that same child up a steep wet trail at the peak of one of the largest waterfalls.
But the kids made it to the top and now they can look at the tallest buildings anywhere and say “I climbed higher than that.”
In Sequoia we saw a black bear near us, a time to practice our “stay-behind-dad-and-mom-and-don’t-move” warning.
The bear moved on, searching for food and shade, but one of our kids panicked and ran 50 yards away behind a tree.
As often as we’ve talked to our kids about doing “exactly what we say without hesitation” in times of danger, we learned which one needs the lesson again.
At the next bear sighting we were all together, motionless. A bear in the woods is much less worrisome than an armed mugger in the city.
Man tip of the day
Extend a hand and help your girl in and out of truck. Chivalry is often rewarded in delicious ways.
Have a safe and happy Fourth of July.
Bo Kane is a native of Griffith and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. You can reach him at MansEyeView@gmail.com.
Some songs take me back to special times
So you used to shake 'em down but now you stop and think about your dignity â€¦ you can come back baby, rock and roll never forgets. - Bob Seger
Idling at the stoplight ....
Once in a while I flip to an oldies station, because most songs more than 25 years old take me back to a very specific time and place. The Doobie Brothers' "Black Water" takes me to the Senior Bar at Notre Dame, "American Pie" and "25 or 6 to 4" takes me to a friend's basement in Indiana, Joe Walsh's "Life's Been Good To Me So Far" has me driving down the 101 in Los Angeles. And dozens of songs make me think, "I wonder what that girl is doing now."
Sports radio talkers are similar to the guy at the party or in the bar who knows everything about every sport. The only difference is that sports radio guys bend stats to back up their ranting. The guy in the bar just rants. Volume and certitude do not equal the indisputable truth.
I was playing tennis with my young daughter the other night, and after about half an hour I felt I was giving too much instruction. So I told her, "Let's just play. I won't say a word for the next 10 minutes." She brightened up and said, "Make it 20." It was an "upside the head" that I needed; too much "how to" and not enough play.
The son of a friend of mine is a very good baseball player, goes to camps, plays on the high school team. I asked him if he ever played with a bunch of kids, just to be playing.
"What do you mean?" I asked a different way: "Have you ever played baseball with no adults around?" He thought for a moment. "I don't think so."
Kids do a lot of things to disappoint their parents, but lying to them hurts more than a toothache. Usually the lying is worse than the thing they're lying about. Even small fibs stay in a parent's mind for days.
If you want to know what your kids are talking about or "where did they get that expression," just sit and watch their TV shows and listen to their radio station for a few hours.
I've already heard and read more half-truths and outright lies about the candidates' wives than I care to, and the election is more than four months away. Bad enough that they do this to the candidates, but somewhere it's somebody's job to twist the truth and get it into your inbox. The difference between a blogger/e-mailer and someone who works at this or any other newspaper is the accountability.
As a columnist I can write an untruth about someone and maybe even get it published, but I can also be fired for doing it. A blogger doesn't even have to print a retraction.
The Round Up
Thanks to all for the notes on the Father's Day column. I agree that remembering our own fathers, and appreciating their effort, helps us in the most important job we'll ever have.
Time to tell Dad how much he means to you
By Bo Kane Post-Tribune columnist
None of us chooses our parents, but we can choose how we treat 'em.
Hey, Father's Day is coming, and no matter how old you are or what your bankbook looks like, if you have a dad you'll want to pay attention to him this Sunday.
If you're at a loss as to what to do, here's a few tips:
DO dig up an old picture of you and your dad from a great time in your youth and include it in the card. Write a note on the back.
DON'T wake him up early unless you're taking him fishing.
DO talk to your father about his father. Ask him what his father liked on Father's Day; what did he get him? Did he ever make him something?
If his father is no longer with us, ask him what he liked the most about his dad. Just the positive stuff.
DON'T buy him power tools unless he specifically gave you the make and model.
Power tools are like baseball mitts. They have to feel right in your hand.
DO pick up the check from money you've earned, not with money he gave you.
DON'T buy him something that will take him more than a half hour to put together.
DO consult other members of your family before you give dad a big SURPRISE! Some dads like surprises; a whole lot of 'em don't.
DON'T buy an insulting or condescending card off the rack.
Pointing out flaws and shortcomings is not going to create a laugh riot, not on this day.
Unless you and your dad have a long and dual history of insult-humor, buy a different one. Or make one.
DO take your dad to a ball game, and go early when it's not crowded and the players are relaxed as they take their turn in the cage. Batting practice at a ballpark is a great time to talk and reminisce. If there's no game, a team jersey is a good gift as long as it's authentic.
Finally, if you just can't think of anything to say or to write in the card, here's a line you can borrow: "I'm glad you're my dad."
The Round Up
On the subject of family occasions... my Uncle Skip and Aunt Adria just celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and my cowboy hat is off to them.
It takes a lot of skill, effort and luck to get to a half century and still be able to smile at one another and take vacations together.
June is a big wedding month, and I hope that the attitudes of the kids standing at the altar are closer to "I will stay with you and love and respect you for at least 50 years, until ..." and not "Well, it feels right now, but if it doesn't work out I can always....."
June 5, 2008
by Bo Kane Post-Tribune columnist
A zoo is a great place to study animals, especially humans.
Dear Bo Kane -- I would like your opinion on the "Sex and The City" popularity. It rubs me wrong to promote and glorify the idea of women having casual sex and not showing the other side of the psychological affect of this kind of lifestyle. I am a 38-year-old, single male that realizes that women just like men suffer from focusing on the wrong aspects of what makes a relationship work. -- Gerardo
Dear Gerardo -- I haven't seen the film (I'm a guy), but I did try to watch the series a couple of times. Never made it through a whole episode, but I've seen enough and read about the film version (ad nauseam) to draw this conclusion: It's just a movie. Watching a self-absorbed "galcaholic" dish about sex and shoes isn't for me, but it doesn't pretend to be Dr. Phil or a documentary. And somewhere between the shrieks (for a variety of reasons) I think the middle-age girls wallow in their screwed-up relationships of their own doing. If it were a primetime series on a major network I might worry about it, but again, it's just a show that mirrors a lot of women I know, especially in
New York. Remember, a lot of guy "buddy" movies don't exactly dig deep into what makes a relationship morally satisfying either. And self-absorption can be funny: witness George Costanza of "Seinfeld."
I don't have a problem with the moral depravity of "Sex and the City," but you won't see me shelling out 10 bucks for it either. As far as the application to real life, I've asked a few women and they've said the same thing about the movie: It's fun. And fun wouldn't be a bad thing to inject into a single guy's life. You can leave out the casual sex (dangerous; go rent "Fatal Attraction") but keep the fun.
If a guy goes out with a girl and immediately begins thinking about what elements might make this a "relationship" and how to sustain those elements forever ... whoa, Hopalong. Too serious, too soon. Make her laugh.
The Round Up
I just came back from taking the kids to the zoo. It's a great, cheap way to let them see and appreciate nature, and I love 99 percent of it.
But ... is it really necessary for a parent to pack an entire kitchen and bedroom closet into a 50-pound, double-wide STROLLER and ram it through the crowd so that anyone else wanting to see the simians had to step back or lose a toe? I swear one had 14-inch wheels and a Ford 302 with exhaust pipes coming out the rear.
Even the momma orangutan looked at that thing and had a "what the heck is that!?" expression.
I'm not talking about the small, umbrella strollers. Those are handy and necessary. I'm talking about the monster-truck versions. Most people know that I'm a big fan of baby and toddler backpacks for dads; it keeps your kid's head up by yours instead of seeing knees all day, and it keeps old dad in shape by hiking with a 30-pound pack. 'Nuff said.
Bo Kane is a native of
Griffith and graduate of the University of Notre Dame.
May 29, 2008
Dear Bo Kane -- Regarding your column about children and divorce, your advice to your daughter was good (just listen), but I hope you don't become one of the bashers of divorced people. Sometimes it's a very necessary way to get on with life. No one wants to be divorced, but everyone makes mistakes, and we all tell our children to correct their mistakes. Why can we not do the same for ourselves? (Note: This letter continues, but you get the idea.)
Dear Stacy -- Since you askedâ€¦ here's my two cents: Marriage is a gamble, so be ready when you sit at the table and try to get the odds in your favor.
And no matter how well you've played your cards in the past or how much you want to win, you gotta know when to hold 'em, when to take the extra help, and when to fold. I'm not a basher of divorce, just a fan of a good marriage.
Another couple of things that drive me crazy: 1) When a guy (or lady) gets steamrolled into a marriage. "I do" shouldn't have a question mark. Who cares if the invitations are already out and the hall is rented and you'll look like a fool if you back out now? Be a fool who takes the word "forever" seriously. 2) When someone laughs off a divorce saying, "It's just in my family; that's the way we are." It isn't genetic. If your folks or brothers and sisters are divorced, learn from them.
What's worse than being alone at night? Being with someone and WISHING you were alone. But if all this sage advice is too late, and you're miserable, call for the check. Don't be miserable.
True story: When I was in my late 20s, I was dating a girl who was 29. Once she told me flat-out, "I will be married by 30."
I liked her a lot, but I wasn't going to get married based on math. True to her word, she was married by 30. Don't know how that marriage worked out for her. Worked out fine for me.
The Round Up
Dads and moms coach differently. My daughter's softball team is coached mostly by women, and they have great hearts and care for the girls immensely.
They shout encouragement and praise no matter what. No matter what.
Apparently I blasphemed in this church of constant positive strokes because I asked the shortstop to "move your feet and get into position to catch that ball" when it scooted past her and everyone else yelled "great try!"
Some dads go overboard from the stands, we know that. There's a line between obnoxious and instructional, and a time to hold your tongue. But an athlete needs to be mentally tough and needs to know when to make an extra effort. The shortstop understood. Not sure about the adults.
At home it's a nice balance with my wife's positivism and my encouragement through instruction. But I'll leave it at home; next game I'll shut up.
New generation of kids faces pain of divorce
"Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing. A confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished." -- Goethe
It was a casual, toss-off comment my 7 and a half year-old threw my way the other day that made me think that even though our TVs are bigger and our phones are smaller, our personal lives are often the same trainwreck as when I was a kid.
My daughter's comment was: "Can my friend stay over here because her dad can't take her and her mom is going to be busy? They're getting a divorce just like Zoe and Madison's parents, so can she spend the night over here and maybe go to IHOP in the morning?"
Divorce, friends, and pancakes. If you have to have the one, good to have the other two.
So, I asked myself two questions: Is it too early to talk to my daughter about what a divorce means and the effects that it can have on her friends? And, would my own experiences and prejudices get in the way?
The answers were "no" and "maybe," but that's the way it is. At least I have a little bit of background on the subject."
When I was a kid, a lot of my friends could stay out late with me because we only had one parent living at home. It was a club that was never short on members, and though no one said it, we all wished things had worked out like "Father Knows Best."
Well, I'm the father now, and if I can teach her how to catch a grounder and get the force-out, I can talk about this.
So we had a little father-daughter sit-down. She said her friend's daddy was getting a "time-out" and that he had to behave before he could come back home. OK.
I asked her if she thought it was painful for her friend, and she said, "Yeah, probably."
I told her, "Yeah, definitely" and suggested that if her friend wanted to talk about it, to just listen. Don't comment.
But I couldn't intellectualize all of it; I felt she could sympathize if she could imagine it, feel it.
I asked her to visualize how it would be if her daddy, me, had trouble with mommy and had to move away. I would get to see her on the weekends and sometimes at holidays. That's it.
I looked in her eyes and saw that she got it. (Lucky for me, the thought made her very sad). It was our first conversation about marriage and won't be the last.
She and her friend had fun and slept easy that night. But I didn't.
The Round Up -
Memorial Day is coming, and will be filled with emotional tributes, parades and honors.
Another good way to honor our soldiers is to ease their transition back to civilian life.
There's a couple of versions of a GI benefits bill before Congress and the White House this month. Let's see if the tough-talking guys who sent them to this war will take care of them when they get back.
Bo Kane is a native of Griffith and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. You can reach him at MansEyeView@gmail.com
Idling at the stoplight ... with the radio blaring kid's music. Radio Disney and the other stations that play Hannah Montana, the Jonas Brothers and Kelly Clarkson non-stop sound best with only the back speakers on.
I let our kids crank the music, but no videos in the car; they get enough video screen bombardment at home.
In the car they can listen to the music (and the 57 commercials for CDs and High School Musical 12 or whatever number they're on now) and look out and see the world, warts and all. I'll probably change my tune on the next cross-country trip though.
The other day I was listening to a Toby Keith song, and it made me think that while parenting is tough, trying to date while being a good parent must be tougher than calculus.
It's the stuff of movies: high drama, conflict, romance and negotiation. Sometimes in that order. Tougher on the women; they're pulled in every direction.
When a guy is dating a woman with kids, he usually just takes a little longer to make a commitment.
If she doesn't have kids, he knows he's going to eventually be No. 2 or 3 in her life, but at least he starts out at No. 1.
When she has kids, he starts out at No. 2 or lower. So he has to know she's the one that will make second place seem as good as first place anywhere else.
Staying on the subject of kids, my two are on teams. My daughter is in Girl Scouts, and they both seem to know every kid in a 12-block area, which means, we end up at a kid's birthday party at least three times a month.
And at every party there's always a bump-a-jump or slide where the kids mash together in a tangle of arms legs and hind quarters, and sure as ants at a picnic, there'll be a boy crying, "That boy shoved me!!"
Sometimes it's my own son who comes out with the bruise, but instead of whining I have him quote the good doctor (above). When he does, I usually see glares of disapproval or dads making a mental note of the quote.
I hope the person who invented the "Boo-Boo Buddy" made a lot of money. They are little gel coldpacks with baseball or football artwork on it that you pull out of the freezer or cooler and apply to bruises or swelling. They're flexible and really work (yes, a lot better than sticking a beer can on your kids forehead).
I was checking in at a company yesterday and somehow the old security guard and I got on the subject of being former altar boys. "Ah, but you never did the Latin, did you?"
I started one of the Latin responses and he finished it. "You never forget it, do ya kid?"
I wish the movie "Ironman" had come out when my father and his co-worker friends were alive and still working at a foundry in Griffith. They were all ironmen.
Bo Kane is a native of Griffith and a graduate of the University of Notre Dame. You can reach him at Manseyeview@gmail.com