D – 1 (Beth’s 10th)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: Jul 16, 2007, Beth’s age: 10

Listen to Beth’s family sing off key…


D – 3 (Tween time)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: Aug 20, 2006, Beth’s age: 9

I am stuck in that moment between getting home late and the time when you feel like going to bed.

We decided to go to a Devil Rays away game this evening, and we’re just getting back. They were at Tropicana Field, where they occasionally play home games, so we didn’t have to travel too far. Tonight’s benefactor of the ice cold Rays’ bats were the Indians from Cleveland; and there were a lot of Indians from Cleveland there this evening. It was so bad there was this old Midwestern fella who pointed to the Rays’ base runner on first and arrogantly proclaimed, “I’ll bet that guy hasn’t stolen a base in HIS short career.” He was, no doubt, playfully taunting the Rays’ fans about all the youth being served on the field. It was almost too bad that the guy he was pointing out was Carl Crawford.

It sucks when you can’t get a taunt right… on the player’s home field no less.

In the middle innings, Beth got into a grudge match with a couple of Indians sitting around us (we were surrounded).
Beth: “Why are you rooting for the Indians?”
Indian: “Because I was born in Ohio.”
Beth: “But where do you live now?”
Indian: “I live here.”
Beth: “Have you lived here a long time?”
Indian: “Longer than you have kid.”
Beth: “Then you should be rooting for the Rays.”
Indian: “We can’t help where we’re born kid.”
Beth: “My dad was born in Boston, and he roots for the Rays.”
Indian: “I think I might have left my lights on.”

Then there was the drunken Indian incident.
Beth: (Screaming at the top of her nine year old lungs) “GO RAYS GOOOOOOOOOO AHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Drunken Indian: “Way to go kid, gimme five.”
Beth: “Why should I give you five? You’re an Indian’s fan.”
Drunken Indian number two: “HA HA HA! She showed you!”
Indian chorus: “HOO HOO HOO! You tell him!”
Dad: sits quietly in his seat, not sure whether to be proud or afraid for his daughter’s life.

Capping the evening off, Beth gets in the extended, post game bathroom line.
Woman leaving the bathroom, walking past, talking to someone else: “There was this little girl in there trying to talk one of us into letting her cut in line….”
Beth’s grandfather: “I wonder who they could have been talking about.”
Beth’s dad: “Yeah, I can’t imagine.”

There are times when I can see a lot of myself in my daughter, but not one of those times came up this evening.

D – 4 (Beth versus the psychiatrist)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: Jun 8, 2006, Beth’s age: 8

“Can I call you Miss Rachael?”
“No, but you can call me Dr. Rachael if you want.”
“Wait, are you a real doctor?”
“Yes Beth, I’m a real doctor.”
“Did you go to college?”
“Yes Beth, I went to college.”
“Did you go to college AND medical school?”
“Yes Beth, I went to medical school.”
“O.K., you went to college and medical school… so why don’t you do the things a REAL doctor does?”

This is where Beth gets the look of resignation with which her parents are well schooled.

D – 5 (The dust settles on another school year)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: May 18, 2006, Beth’s age: 8

Let me say that most of the folks we’ve dealt with at my daughter’s school have been wonderful. They’ve been kind, patient, understanding, and caring. All the same, next year my daughter will be going to a different school.

Why is she going to a different school? It’s a long story, one I don’t have the energy or inclination to tell right now… but here’s the abbreviated/censored version: Beth’s third grade teacher. Every one of the conditions these kind, patient, understanding, and caring school professionals carefully laid out for Beth to succeed in school were conditions that Beth’s third grade teacher either ignored or outright contradicted. We had our last meeting at Beth’s old school this morning, and the staff (sans Beth’s teacher – per usual) acknowledged Beth didn’t get what she needed from her teacher. One of them said she was sorry.

There’s just one problem with being sorry… it doesn’t change anything that’s already happened. I just wish someone was sorry six months ago when we wanted to switch teachers. I just wish someone was sorry when we pointed out time and again the teacher’s failure to abide by the school’s policies. I wonder if someone will still be sorry when they review this teacher’s performance in the future. Is it standard procedure for teachers to ignore counselor’s and paid consultant’s recommendations? What’s the point of having guidance counselors, psychologists, and social workers on the payroll if their advice is ignored?

I’ll bet I know what you’re thinking. “With all of those people involved, I wonder what’s wrong with this kid? I wonder what her parents have done to make all of this necessary?”

You know what? I wouldn’t blame you. I’ve seen misbehaving kids in public and I’ve wondered the same thing about their parents. If you’ve done any reading here before, you know I’ve blamed myself many times. All I can say is I’m trying.

Dear God I’m trying.

Is it too much to expect the same from her teacher?

To be fair, this is the first problem we’ve had with a teacher at this school. Her other teachers have been wonderful. But it’s a sign the administration is a gutless shill for the teachers – good or bad.

We won’t be around for another roll of the dice.

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D – 6 (Not so shallow)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: Jan 20, 2006, Beth’s age: 8

Beth and I were leaving Tae Kwon Do and I heard the sound of sudden submersion behind me. I looked back and saw Beth up to her shins in water.

(Defensively) “Dad, I stepped in a puddle by accident!”

(Angrily) “Beth, that’s the only puddle in the parking lot and you had to walk about ten feet out of your way to get to it. The only thing accidental about it is you didn’t mean to get soaked half way up to your knees – because you didn’t expect it to be so deep.”

(Sheepishly) “How did you know dad?”

(Honestly) “Been there, done that, Beth.”

D – 7 (Stitches)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: Jul 10, 2005, Beth’s age: 7 (almost 8)

Last week we had a little problem getting Beth ready in the morning. Gaping, bleeding wounds will do that to you. She was feeling playful and decided to hide under her bed after we asked her to get dressed. Unfortunately, she caught her leg on something sharp and we wound up in the ER rather than the rec center (for summer camp).

“Dad, were you angry with me when I cut my leg?”

“No Beth, I’m not angry with you. I was angry when you didn’t listen this morning, but I wasn’t angry that you cut your leg, I was just worried.”

“Dad, I wish I could go back in time and get dressed instead of hiding under the bed, then I’d be at camp right now.”

“That’s true Beth, but it will be o.k. Sometimes we all learn lessons the hard way. Even your mom and dad.”

“So listening and getting ready this morning would have been the easy way?”

“I think so.”

Beth thinks about this for a few moments, before asking a question.

“Dad, what would be the medium way?”

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D – 8 (It was a day like any other day, until I decided it wasn’t)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: May 10, 2005, Beth’s age: 7

I was at work and struck by the hour: noon already? On a whim I begged off early, promising to make up the time later (a line borrowed from the procrastinator’s creed). This whim eventually brought me to my daughter’s school, just as her and her like were being released for the day. She wasn’t expecting me, and didn’t notice when I fell into step behind her, stride for untroubled stride. She was carrying a large paper bag: the end of the year, accumulated wealth from a well used second grader’s desk. Without comment or warning I plucked her burden from her grasp. She turned, perturbed, expecting to confront a bully. When she found me instead she looked a little worried, but that worried gaze quickly gave in to excited chatter when she learned I was there solely because I felt like it – because I wanted to see my kid.

Later that day, when the day had no right to be called “day” anymore, Beth was settling down for bed. We said our prayers, tucked in the covers, and said our good nights. As I was closing the door Beth asked me to wait. She waved me over and I sat at her side.

“Dad, today was my favorite day. I love you dad.”

If words can melt a heart, then mine’s a puddle.

D – 9 (The first ride)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: Jan 20, 2005, Beth’s age: 7

It started innocently.

“Beth, I’m not sure you should ride your bike until I can tighten those training wheels, unless of course you want me to take them off?”

“Alright dad, take them off.”

Fifteen minutes later we were together on the sidewalk; father, daughter, and bicycle. The father was standing behind it all, grasping the seat. The daughter was astride the bike, imploring the father not to let go. The bicycle was just sitting there, oblivious to it all.

After running along side for about thirty feet, Beth tells me to stop.

“Dad, I’d like to try it on my own now.”

I was ready to indulge her, and she rewarded my faith. She struggled unassisted, feet on the pedals, for about ten feet. That’s where she stopped, feet on the ground, bike still upright. Her very first solo attempt was a success!

Naturally I hoped, hollered, and generally carried on like an English soccer fan. (Beth thought my chanting strut down the sidewalk was a bit much.) Then I ran inside to grab the camera to record the second unassisted ride. It was the best thing to happen to our house since Adam first slept through the night.

Next thing I know Beth is asking to ride to her school with a group of friends (it’s a mile and a half away, but it’s practically inside our neighborhood and you don’t have to cross any busy streets). She came home thirty minutes later and collapsed. Apparently there are some things about bicycling that can’t be learned.

D – 10 (Grammar school politics)

Counting down the days until Beth’s thirteenth birthday with a few reposts from the archives.

Originally posted: Oct 26, 2004, Beth’s age: 7

In the south…

I have it on good authority that if John Kerry is elected president, kids will have to go to school on Saturdays and Sundays, and they will only have brussel sprouts and cabbage for lunch in the cafeteria.

George Bush, on the other hand, has the courage to take on the liberal school boards. He has the backbone to take on the vegan lobby. He has the strength of character to stay the course on the traditional school week. He is the only candidate that wants to take the choice away from lunch ladies, and put it into the hands of the hard working school children of America.

Well, that’s what Beth’s friends say anyway.