All posts by Algonad

Girl on the Run

Our kids have gone to Catholic school from K-8. Our oldest (now a senior) played travel soccer so she had some friends going into high school. Our middle child (now a sophomore) has never been to into sports. We were pretty concerned with her friend situation going into high school. Of her friend group, only a couple kids were going to the public school. We suggested (strongly) that she join some type of fall activity that started before school was in session so she could meet some people.

She ended up doing both marching band and cross country. Marching band was a given since she decided to do band and they require all members of the band to also do marching band.

We encouraged her to run during the summer but she really didn't run too much. We knew that cross country would be a pretty rude awakening for her. It started worse than we could imagine.

The first couple weeks of practice, she complained that she was so slow that she was essentially all alone out on the runs. She also didn't really know anyone else so it was a tough way to try to meet people.

After the second week, they do time trials at a park along with a breakfast for families. It's a nice way to meet the other parents and coaches. The kids had a 2-mile timed run to get an idea where everyone was at that point of the season.

The girls all went out on their run. The parents gathered around the finish line to cheer them on. The first girl came in. Then another and another. Based on what she told me, I figured she'd be last.

Finally, there was a long gap after one of the girls came in. The coaches all looked at each other and walked away with the other parents. But my kid wasn't back yet! I wasn't sure what to do. Do I start yelling, "There's one still out there!" and have all the parents and coaches come back? I'm pretty sure she'd be mortified by that. Instead, I just stood there alone at the finish line.

I waited another minute or so and then I saw her running towards me from the wrong direction. She was so far behind that she got lost. And then the coaches and teammates forgot she was out there. She jumped into my arms and was sobbing and telling me that she was going to quit cross country. I just tried to comfort her and told her she could do whatever she wanted. We went straight to the car and didn't join the team or families for breakfast.

My instinct is to try to do too much and say too much with the kids. This time I didn't say anything. I was pretty pissed at the coaches for forgetting she was out there. I don't care if she's good but the least you can do as a coach is know how many runners leave and how many come back. What if she had been hurt? I was writing the email in my mind but I have a 24-hour rule so it would never get sent. (Her coach was also my other daughter's track coach and teacher, so going full burn-the-house-down could have had some negative repercussions.)

I said nothing about what happened on Saturday and Sunday. I didn't comfort her. I didn't give her advice. I just went on like nothing happened.

Sunday night, she comes downstairs to tell us she'd gotten a text from our neighbor (and one of the top runners on the team) offering her a ride to 6 a.m. practice on Monday morning so we don't need to drive her to practice. It's amazing what just a little bit of kindness can do when someone is down. All she wanted was someone to notice she was on the team.

She went on to finish last in JV in the first 4 races of the year but improved every race. This year, she's continued to improve and is a middle-of-the-pack JV runner. She's made a couple friends on the team and plans on trying Nordic skiing this winter to stay in shape for track.

She deserves all the credit in the world. I know how tough that was for her to go through. We knew there would be some growing pains, but I couldn't have imagined what she went through and how far she's come.

I've always said my favorite thing about cross country and track is that you can compete with yourself and success is measurable. I was just glad this story had a happy ending.

Father Knows Best – College

My oldest starts her junior year in two weeks. As of a couple years ago, she had said she wanted to go to a small college in a small town within 4 hours of the Twin Cities. Easy! We were already down to under a dozen schools.

Well, since she started attending high school, she's decided she doesn't want to go to a college that isn't much bigger than her high school. Now she really isn't sure what she wants.

The more I learn about college, the more frustrating it gets. Each school has a net price calculator but it isn't easy to find on their website. And you need to go to each school to find that net price. As far as I know, there isn't a website where you can put in the student's information and it splits out the cost of dozens of schools. Why not? Why not have even more transparency in the cost? The college board has the net price calculator of over 200 schools but you still have to enter information one school at a time.

One other thing that isn't real clear - does it even matter which school she chooses? There can be a huge difference in price but is there really a huge difference in outcomes? Articles like this say it doesn't really matter. I know that it does matter for some specific areas - finance, consulting, some technology areas, etc., but I see a lot of people taking on huge debt that would be better served just getting a degree in the most affordable way.

It will be an interesting couple years. And then we'll start again with the freshman.

Josh Ritter – Where The Night Goes

My brother gave me this CD. He saw Ritter perform in a record store. Admission was the purchase of a new CD. My brother gave me the extra after he and his wife both bought one. It's really grown on me. I've got a couple of his older albums too. He was just touring with Jason Isbell. I've seen Isbell twice but I've never seen Ritter.

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Drive-By Truckers – What It Means

Since we have recently discussed the Drive-By Truckers, I'd figure I'd go with this one first. It is one of my favorites from the latest album. And I think their latest album is their best since Jason Isbell was in the band.

I like my protest music to tell stories and ask questions.

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A Series of Questions on Parenting


Here's the situation. I will soon have a 16 and 14 year old. It feels like we've hit a point where parenting strategy has to shift. Less telling them what to do and more picking them up after they fall. This doesn't seem as obvious as parenting younger kids. I didn't have to think much when a toddler was grabbing an electrical cord. It was pretty obvious what I should do.

Should I monitor digital communications with her friends?

Should I let her use social media?

Should I tell her I know she has a second "secret" Instagram account?

How much input should I give her on classes she chooses?

How much input should I have on college?

Do I encourage her to start looking at colleges or just sit back and wait?

Do I suggest any schools she should visit? What if I think she's going down the wrong road? Do I really know the wrong road for her?

Should I give any advice on her major? What if she thinks she wants to go on to get a PhD?

If she's watching Netflix on her Kindle after she's gone to bed, do I punish her or just explain why it's a bad idea?

Should she have a bed time?

Should I push her to get her driver's license?

We haven't gotten to the dating thing. What do I do then? I picture myself like the coach on Friday Night Lights where I say and do the wrong thing most of the time.

How much do I "warn" her about boys?

How much do I talk about safety and avoiding bad situations? (I have a pretty cautious daughter. The hesitance to get her driver's license comes from a Driver's Ed course that focused on car crashes as a "Scared Straight" strategy. It scared her straight out of the vehicle.)

Thanks for reading and any suggestions!

She Works Hard For The Money

This post is partially about parenting, partially about work. In this case, they are intertwined.

My wife has always had a pretty good job and has always been pretty career-motivated. We talked a little about having me stay home when we first had kids. In the end, we decided that it wouldn't work for us. I wouldn't like it (or be good at it) and she would have been jealous of my time at home. She ended up going part-time down to a 3-day per week schedule. She worked downtown at the time and would go in early so I'd be the one to get the kids ready for daycare three days per week. We did that while we had two children.

When we had the third, she switched jobs to a small firm that was five miles from our house. It was still 20-24 hours per week but she went to an hourly wage. She could come-and-go without a ton of guilt. When the kids were in daycare, she'd work three full days. Once they were in school, she'd work four 6-hour days.

It was the perfect job for our family. She would go in to work after the kids got on the bus and would get home right before they got home from school.

Now she has decided to stay home full time with a 15, 13, and 10-year old. From the outside, it looks a little insane. She's worked all this time to get to the point that the kids are old enough to be a little more independent and now is the time she's decided to stay home? If you're going to stay home, why not do it when the kids are young? But I think she made the right decision.

A few things factored into the decision. My mom passing away last year at the age of 67, my wife's lingering affects from a concussion suffered last fall, and my daughter's rehab from a broken leg all played a part in it.

We only have three more years of all of them under one roof. Life is short and the clock is ticking.