Archive for ‘life and love’

May 7, 2011

Still the Same (Bob Seger, 1978)

aCS blog: Confessions of a Trophy DadKevin Rudge

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Tuesday, May 12, 2009.

“The quickest way to know a woman is to go shopping with her.” ~ Marcelene Cox, a woman

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we sometimes find our heart’s desire in our own backyard — or like my wife Elizabeth, there, not even an arms length away, sitting right before our very eyes . . .

Having a bit of time before having to pick Lauren up from dance class, Elizabeth stopped in a local shop. She soon found herself at the sunglass display rack with not one, but two twenty-something sales girls attending to her every shopping need.

As she tried on sunglasses, Elizabeth received varying levels of approval from Sales Girl #1 and #2 — amazingly mirroring her every comment and facial expression.

“Those look so good,” said Sales Girl #1, referring to a pair of black oversized designer sunglasses Elizabeth had on. “I saw Angela Jolie with a pair just like them.”

Elizabeth studied the glasses in the mirror. “Don’t you think they are too wide for my face?”

“Yeah, maybe, like a little too big for your face,” said Sales Girl #1, nodding her head.

Elizabeth tried on a pair of light beige framed and brown lensed glasses. “What about these?”

“Ooooh, I like those a lot,” said Sales Girl #2.

“I don’t like the the color,” Elizabeth said.

“I was going to say, except for the color,” said Sales Girl #2.  “Yes, definitely do not like the color.”

This went on as Elizabeth tried on pair after pair.  Discarded and prospective sunglasses littered the glass countertop.  She had gone through a dozen or so before picking-up a two-toned brown lensed pair made by Izod.  Elizabeth looked in the mirror and said, “Wow, I like the black and brown two-tone.”

“Oh, those are cool! Yeah, two-tone. They look fantastic on you!” said Sales Girl #2.

“Do you think?” said Elizabeth.

“Love them!” said Sales Girl #1. “Oh yeah, like they are so you.”

Elizabeth lingered at the mirror a few seconds longer before agreeing, they did look good.  She took them off to look at the price, but there was no tag. Upon further inspection she noticed a small scratch on the frame.

She wasn’t concerned, all the sunglasses on the rack were priced generally the same and the scratch was not large enough to be a show-stopper. Elizabeth showed the scratch to the sales girls and being half-Italian, asked if they could take a percentage off the listed price because of it.

Sales Girl #2 was game, “Yeah maybe. Let me ask my manager.”

She paged her manager overhead and as quick as you can say  “Discount Designer Sunglasses, Great Choices for Under $100,” the boss woman was at the display rack.

With the backing of Sales Girl #1 and #2, Elizabeth again asked for an additional discount.  After studying the glasses the Manager announced, “These are not our glasses. We don’t sell Izod. Someone must have switched them.”

Sales Girl #2 gasped.

Sales Girl #1 stood motionless, her mouth open.  “We’ve been like so scammed,”  she whispered.

Elizabeth was also surprised. Surprised she had been brushed by an apparent crime — but also that the Manager said they didn’t carry Izod.  “You do sell Izod,” she said.  “I bought a pair here before.”

“If we did, we have not sold them for a long time,” said the Manager.

While the Sales Manager lectured Sales Girl #1 and #2 about keeping a closer eye on the store merchandise — reminding them that they were not to remove the tags on the glasses when customers are trying them on — a horrific thought entered Elizabeth’s mind.

She rummaged through her bag in search of something.  It was not there.  She looked again, double checking all pockets.  It definitely was not there — her worst fear materialized.

“Oh, you know what?” said Elizabeth, interrupting the Manager.  “Those are my sunglasses.”

“Excuse me?” said the Manager.

Smiling, Elizabeth said, “The Izod sunglasses.  They’re mine.  I bought them here awhile back.”

“They’re like yours?” said Sales Girl #1.

“Yes,” said Elizabeth, now laughing. “They are mine.”

“Oh my God,” whispered Sales Girl #2.

Elizabeth had just tried to purchase her own sunglasses. She wore them into the store on her head and must have placed them on the counter, mixing them with the store owned sunglasses.

Elizabeth failed to recognize her own glasses; the sales girls and manager failed to recognize the humor in it all.

It was time to go get Lauren.  Elizabeth left the store wearing her two-tone, brown lensed, Izod shades — her heart’s desire — all along right there before her very eyes — and she didn’t have to pay a penny for it.

“Same as it ever was, same as it ever was, same as it ever was . . .” ~ Talking Heads, “Once In A Lifetime”

Kevin Rudge is a stay-at-home dad of three girls and practicing trophy husband.  He lives and writes from his home in suburban Chicago.  More of his humorous observations and confessions can be found at

Kevin’s Mother’s Day Note:  “My three daughters have an amazing mother, who lives her life with purpose, style, and grace — and an uncanny ability to lose things.  She is quick with encouragement and a side of fruit or vegetables.  Her love for them is infinite and her desire to cuddle — boundless.    She embraces their lives with happiness, and gives their days and memories newfangled reasons to smile . . . Happy Mother’s Day Elizabeth!”

May 7, 2011

I made my sick kid cry

aCS blog: Mother Inferior (or, why I suck as a parent)–Connie Lissner

I made my sick kid cry.

No, I’m not a monster, it’s just that he was perched on the couch, ordering his third $4.99 pay-per-view movie in as many days, and I was beginning to feel a bit manipulated.

Lest you think I am totally clueless, he did start out with red, crusty eyes and dark eye circles and he was rather pale so I know that he had been sick. We even went to the doctor where he was given eye drops and I was scolded for letting him go to a water park (aka a giant Petri dish) where no one knows what diseases lurk around the edges of the pool. But that was day one. Even day two seemed legitimate, but by day three, I had my doubts. So, I decided to whip out my slightly rusty, legal skills and cross-examine my 11-year-old.

I started off well. I sat next to him, wiped the hair off his forehead and pretended to check for the fever that I knew was not there:

“So, I think you should go to school today,” I said very tenderly.

No response.

I stood up and blocked the TV. “Are you listening to me?” I asked.  “I said, that I think you seem a lot better so you should go to school today.”

He shifted on the couch to get a better view of Jack Black as Gulliver.
“You know, I don’t really think that you are sick enough to be staying home from school.”

Still no response.

(Here is where I start to pick up steam) “In fact, it seems that the only time that you are really sick is when I ask you to get off the couch. (Louder now) “I’m sure that if I told you that you could have a friend over, right now, you would suddenly perk up.”(Wait, it gets better…) “If you stay home today you don’t get to use the computer, or the TV or any video games, you can read a book. In fact,” (almost yelling now) you can sit in your room. If you were really sick you would be sleeping!”

I turned off the TV with a flourish and pointed toward the staircase to his room.

I knew I lost it. I mean, really? All sick kids take to their beds? What was I talking about?
I never did that – I spent the day on the couch and watched TV when I was sick just like every other kid.

So, here I am, knowing that I’ve gone too far (even the dog abandoned me by this point) when my son’s tears start to flow. “You never believe me!” he wailed.

And still I hesitated. My son is quite dramatic, you see, so usually the tears don’t clinch it right away. (I once found him lying on the floor, clutching his chest and gasping for air, howling that he couldn’t breathe in the winter coat that I insisted he wear– in February, in Chicago. So, yes, he is quite dramatic.)

But this time it was real: the shaking shoulders, the runny nose, the blubbering. He’s a good actor, but not that good.

So, after many hugs and many apologies for my outburst, I reached for the phone to call the school to let them know that he would be out for another day.  Just as I picked up the phone, it rang. It was the nurse calling from the doctor’s office to tell me that my son had strep throat and needed antibiotics.

So, like all people who suddenly feel very sick, I took to my couch to watch TV…just like my kid.

Connie Lissner is a writer, lawyer, wife and more importantly, the mother of two boys. She was once told that a child’s job is to constantly push a parent’s limits. She assures you that her boys do their job very well. She, in turn, is trying to do her job of not totally screwing them up. She navigates the slippery slope of motherhood one day at a time.

May 5, 2011

Sex Talk

 aCS Blog: Mother Inferior (or, why I suck as a parent)  Connie Lissner

I’ve been thinking a lot about sex lately – sex education that is. My younger son is heading off to health class next week where they will hear, among other things, the “sex talk.” I just don’t know if he needs any advance prep. For all I know he’s quite knowledgeable about the whole topic – he does have an older brother after all — but I feel like I am shirking my duties as a parent if I don’t at least attempt to sit him down and discuss the birds and the bees.

Why, you may ask, would this job fall to me if I have a husband who lives with us? Well, as it just so happens, I am not the only adult in the house who sucks at being a parent. Maybe that’s not fair but, at the very least, my husband sucks at talking to our boys about sex, which means that that discussion falls to me.

That doesn’t seem fair either. I’m a girl and they are boys – a boy should be giving the boy sex talk. He’s already familiar with the parts and the stuff that boys do that, thank God, I’m not privy to. But, alas, he has failed.

Let me back up a bit. I had the discussion with our oldest son by accident, if that’s possible, when he was in 4th grade. I didn’t go buy a book and pick a time to have “the talk”; we were just sitting at the kitchen counter talking about nothing when he turned to me and said: “What does the “F” word mean?”

He explained that he wanted to know what it meant because if he wasn’t allowed to use it he should at least know why. I decided that if I was going to tell him what “filed under carnal knowledge” actually meant, in all it’s incarnations, then I should start with the most popular explanation. So, I launched into a discussion about eggs and sperm and all the technical stuff.

This was met with a fair amount of “icks” and “gross” and the uncomfortable question of “Have you done it?” But, all-in-all, I thought it went well. I just slid that discussion in and when he stopped asking questions I promptly stopped talking.

Fast forward three years.

My husband and our younger son were driving somewhere when our youngest (who was then 8 years old) asked my husband where babies come from. To his credit, he started out strong. He mentioned the egg but never really got past that. You see, at the mention of an egg, our son asked, “you mean like a chicken?” and like all cowardly dads faced with a long and embarrassing discussion about sperm and oral sex and wet dreams he answered, “yes! Just like a chicken.” And that was that.

So, here I am trying to figure out a way to start this discussion. I considered bribing our 15-year-old to do it (bad idea and a total cop-out); I considered buying a book and leaving it on the kitchen counter (“oh, where did that come from? Let’s talk about it…); but, finally, I’ve decided that the best way to handle this would be to let him hear about it first and correct it later. Bad idea, total cop-out? Maybe, but I won’t know until it’s too late. It could go something like this: “yes, there is an egg…yes, just like a chicken.”

Good thing he’s my last kid.

Connie Lissner is a writer, lawyer, wife and more importantly, the mother of two boys. She was once told that a child’s job is to constantly push a parent’s limits. She assures you that her boys do their job very well. She, in turn, is trying to do her job of not totally screwing them up. She navigates the slippery slope of motherhood one day at a time.

May 4, 2011

Do You Really Wanna Know (Papercuts, 2011)

aSC blog: Confessions of a Trophy DadKevin Rudge

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Sunday, April 17, and Tuesday, April 19, 2011.

“You fucking son-of-a-bitch.” ~ George W. Bush, yelled at a Wall Street Journal political writer in 1986

A simple rule of thumb regarding children and swearing: if you don’t want your kids to curse, don’t ask them to.

I speak from experience.

Last week, I walked in from the garage to the shrill voices of my two youngest natives; they were restless in a hopped up on Skittles kind of way.  In the few seconds it took to slip off my shoes and enter the kitchen, I gathered from their conversation with my wife Elizabeth that their excitement had something to do with Ira — my nemesis and our 5-year-old neighbor.

Lucy, my 5-year-old was the first to acknowledge my presence.


“Hey!  What’s all the excitement about?” I said.

Jessie, my 9-year-old daughter, ran toward me yelling, “Ira swore!  Ira swore!”

Ira swore? Yawn. Unfortunately, this in itself was nothing out of the ordinary; it was not the first, nor would it be the last time this cute, curly haired, year-round Croc wearing, sailor mouthed, little boy swore.

“Oh, really?  Where?”  I said, hoping the crime took place across property lines — giving me at least some jurisdiction in the matter.

“In our backyard!” Jessie said with a hint of glee in her voice.

Excellent.  Okay, then. So, what was it?  The “a” word, “s” word, “b” word? Or maybe even the queen-mother of obscenities, the “f” word; a possibility and not unprecedented.

“What did he say?”

Jessie took a deep breath and began to answer aloud, “You . . .”

Not wanting to further pique my 5-year-old’s fascination with the forbidden alphabet words, I stopped Jessie.  “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! Whisper it to me.”

Jessie came closer as I bent down to allow for this very sensitive exchange. Jessie’s lips were lightly touching my ear as she whispered, “He said, ‘You. Fuck-ing. Son-of-a-bitch.’ ”

Oh Nelly! I wasn’t prepared to hear the actual words coming from Jessie’s mouth.  Where was the alphabet filter?  What happened to saying the “‘f’ word” and the “‘b’ word”?  Or, the more sophisticated and learned “f-dash-dash-dash” and “b-dash-dash-dash-dash” words.  Hell, a simple rhyme would have been perfectly acceptable as well.

“Jessie, don’t say the actual words!” I said, lightly scolding her.

“I didn’t! Ira did.”

“I know, but you repeated them.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Yeah, you did.  You just said exactly what Ira said.”

“But, you asked me to.”

Bucking son-of-a-stitch. The kid had a point.

“Okay, I know.  But, I expected you would have said, you know, the ‘f’ word,’ or ‘b’ word, or something, without actually saying the ‘f’ word and ‘b’ word.”

“Ohhhhhh, okay,” She said smiling.  I think realizing she had just gotten away with the kid equivalent to murder.

You would think I would have learned my lesson. Fast forward approximately 48-hours . . .

Having a twenty-minute respite from having to taxi Lauren to-and-from dance, I sat at the kitchen table eating leftover Chinese.  In the family room and out of sight, but not sound, or mind, Lucy and Jessie watched the reality dance show, “Dancing with the Stars.”

Although personally not a fan, sadly, it is one of the few family oriented shows on primetime television.  So I thought, that is until I heard a female voice — Chelsea to be exact — from the show say, too loudly and clearly, “I have to go work my ASS off.”

Whoa! Holy @#%$&! Batman!

I addressed the situation swiftly and succinctly.

What?” I said.

Now, I clearly meant this “what” as a rhetorical you-know-what-I’m-talking-about-so-we-don’t-need-to-spell-it-out what.  Unfortunately, the nuance of the rhetorical question was lost upon my five-year-old.  She felt obliged to spell it out for me.


Damn. Okay. Yeah, I knew that. Really.

I chuckled to myself and thanked Lucy for the clarification.  I then gathered myself and in my best stern dad voice said, “You know that’s a bad word, right?”

“What’s a bad word?” she said.

“You know, the ‘a’ word.”


Dammit, she said it again.

“Yes, and don’t say that word.”

“Okay,” Lucy said. “But you know she said ‘ass,’ not me.”

Oh boy, there’s that hairy word again.

“I know, but you just said it.” I said.

“No I didn’t.”

“Yes, you did.”

“No. I didn’t . . .”

“Okay, I know, I know, I know. Just don’t say the word she said again. It’s not an appropriate word. Got it?”

“I know Dad.”

“Good. Thank you.”

Cheese and Rice. (Jesus Christ)

Lesson learned.

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on  — [pauses] — shame on you. Fool me — [pauses] — you can’t get fooled again.” ~ President George W. Bush

Kevin Rudge is a stay-at-home dad of three girls and practicing trophy husband.  He lives and writes from his home in suburban Chicago.  More of his humorous observations and confessions can be found at

May 1, 2011

Poeple, people who need iPeople, are the luckiest people in the world?

I see people. All the time.

But I’ve never seen this before.

Today I had Sunday brunch with my brother at a neighborhood restaurant. When we were seated at our booth, the next table over was empty. Within a few minutes, a man was seated at the table. He was alone. Not unusual. He instantly pulls out his iPad and leans it into the keyboard stand. Okay, not that unusual, these days. I mean, it’s no more weird than having a quiet brunch by yourself reading your favorite Sunday newspaper, right? We’ve all done that.

A few minutes pass and another man joins him at the table. He’s got a laptop with him. He says a few words to the first man, then opens up his laptop and proceeds to….use it, I guess.

With the exception of the pleasantries exchanged when the second man came to sit and the order to the waiter, not a word was exchanged between them  for the duration of the meal. One busied himself on his iPad and the other on his laptop.

They were in each other’s company, presumably by choice, since they decided to meet and eat together, but they were not interacting. At least not with each other.

I have never seen this  before.

I’ve seen people text and talk to each other, walk together and text without talking, use their computer while in a room full of coworkers, family or friends but not two people meeting for Sunday brunch to share a meal and interact virtually but virtually not at all with each other.

I was recently telling someone that I now spend so much time on my laptop, that when it and I become idle, I get mad at it as If it were  a person who is ignoring me. And let’s just blame fatigue on what I’m about to say–that I am quite sure there are multiple people  inside my laptop who, at times, all capriciously and at once decide to ignore me.

I can tell you’re making the same face she was.

Let me explain. There’s the screen with the “people” I’m emailing back and forth. Then there’s the inevitable Yahoo IM “conversation” with a friend or family member in Europe that pops up–repeatedly.

I don’t use Twitter or Facebook. I do have a life.

Then, there’s the screen on which I’m researching, drafting or editing something like this. Which means I have a screen for Google, WordPress and, minimally, The New York Times, and iTunes.

There are people on the other end of all of these interactions. I just don’t see them. But  I know I’m having a very personal experience with them. And you. (Isn’t it time for a haircut?)

Then, there’s Skype. The Skype video chat with a client in LA for 3 hours a nite to figure out his 13 wardrobe changes for his new reality series.

And last but not least, let’s not forget porn.

I didn’t say I had a fully satisfactory life. (One of these days I’ll have time to write about how the internet has revolutionized the experience of sex. Till then, just keep it in your pants.)

On the days when I don’t have to leave the home office, you can see why each virtual interaction takes on a personality of its own–though the only personality in the room is mine.

Now, imagine what it feels like on those days where I have neither a client to meet or any real reason to be on my computer. Where did all of these people go?

I will not be ignored.

Like I said, I see people. All the time.

As luck would have it, I came across this great essay on NYTimes .com that I highly recommend you read. “Quality time, redefined,” by Alex Williams

Tom Kolovos is Editor In Chief of aControlledSubstance.

April 30, 2011

“You look beautiful”: The Royal Wedding in pictures

Click here for a a slideshow from The Independent

April 25, 2011

I Ain’t Hiding (The Black Crowes, 2009)

aCS Blog: Confessions of a Trophy DadKevin Rudge

Any similarities to actual events and persons in my family are not coincidental. This story took place on Tuesday, August 4, 2009.

“I have seen three emperors in their nakedness, and the sight was not inspiring.” ~ Otto Van Bismarck, Prussian German Statesman (1815-1898)

Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, something changed, making my 3-year-old little girl embarrassed or at least flustered by my nakedness — or, more accurately, by the prospect of my nakedness.

It’s not like I parade around the house unclothed. My nudity is strictly confined to the bathroom and bedroom — and even there, I try to maintain a discreet level of modesty when in the presence of one of my daughters: a strategically held towel here, a slight turn of the body there. But as a parent, especially a stay-at-home parent, nudity happens.

Lucy is okay with nudity, generally speaking — actually, I think she prefers her birthday suit to any other outfit or costume, dress-up or otherwise. However, she apparently doesn’t like me wearing mine — at least not within eyeshot.

I learned this one afternoon upon returning from a run while visiting my brother and his family in Upstate New York. It was there that Lucy found herself alone in a room with me as I began to change. This was nothing out of the ordinary; I had changed in front of my youngest daughter many times without incident.

Sure, I heard the occasional “Eeeww” — come on, who hasn’t at one time or another? Or “Daaaadd,” said as if my penis was some kind of overused sight gag. Akin to how someone might for a cheap laugh put on Groucho glasses, to her it was like I had this silly little private area thingy I liked to do — pretty funny the first time, but not so much anymore.

As I readied to change out of my running shorts, speaking unusually slow and deliberate, Lucy looked me straight in the crotch and said, “Dad, are you going to change?”

“Yes,” I said.

Sensing there was more on her little mind, I temporarily suspended the removal of my shorts. Motionless and in a trance-like gaze, Lucy continued to stare at my private area. Still speaking in slow-motion she asked, “Do you want me to leave?”

“No,” I answered. Although, I must admit, her zombie-like fixation was beginning to make me a tad bit uneasy.

She stood frozen next to the bedroom door. It was as if my groin area, unbeknownst to me, had some kind of hypnotic power. Seconds passed before her need to clear her throat seemingly broke the spell. “I’m gonna leave now!” she blurted.

Lucy hastily opened the door and scurried out, slamming the door as she escaped into the hallway. I can’t be sure, but I think I heard a low pitched scream as she fled down the stairs — away from the room of naked horrors.

What the hell? My dadhood has been the recipient of my children’s indiscreet ogling before — the duration of which only a toddler or unabashed pervert could getaway with. Awkward, but easily attributable to innocent curiosity or, in the case of the pervert in the park wearing the trench coat, mental illness. But this change in attitude seemed so sudden.

With the passing of time, I’ve come to realize that Lucy’s seemingly sudden awareness is likely just an early sign of my littlest one growing up. Not so much innocence lost, but maturity gained. It’s only natural you know . . .

Anyone got a fig leaf?

“I was born modest; not all over, but in spots.” ~ Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court

Kevin Rudge is a stay-at-home dad of three girls and practicing trophy husband.  He lives and writes from his home in suburban Chicago.  More of his humorous observations and confessions can be found at

April 20, 2011

Misunderstanding (Genesis, 1980)

aCS blog: Confessions of a Trophy Dad-Kevin Rudge

make-up \ˈmāˌkəp\ – something that makes up for a previous postponement, omission, failure, or deficiency. ~ Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

Every Wednesday my three-year-old daughter went to gymnastics.

Well, most every Wednesday.

Because of my forgetfulness, and occasional bouts with lethargy, we missed a class or two, or three, or maybe . . . well, who’s counting?  Thankfully, I was able to schedule make-up classes.

The first time we missed class I informed Lucy that yes we missed gymnastics but not to be sad because “I was able to schedule a make-up class for next Monday.” To my surprise, Lucy wasn’t the least bit upset.  She appeared even excited about what she called her “new class.”

The day of the make-up class came. As I dressed Lucy in her black long-sleeved leotard, she asked me,”Dad, why do I have to wear my leotard to the make-up class?”

I answered simply, “Because it’s gymnastics. Gymnasts wear leotards.”

For a moment Lucy looked confused, before apparently making sense of my response. Running late (what else is new?), I moved past her odd question and quizzical look.

As we pulled into the gymnastics parking lot, Lucy asked, “Is the make-up class here?”

“Of course, where else would it be Silly?” I said.

Lucy sat silently, suddenly looking unsure about the situation.

I hustled Lucy inside and quickly shed all but her leotard (and Dora The Explorer underwear — stylishly visible underneath). Racing through the gym door, I directed her to a smiling instructor seated in a small circle of Lucy sized humans.

Lucy hesitated before slowly making her way to the circle and finding a spot to sit.

For the next fifty-five minutes I watched with a handful of Moms from the waiting area as the children stretched, straddled, somersaulted, jumped, ran, balanced, and lastly — what I’m told is the very “bestest” part — got ink stamps on their hands and feet. Lucy gave her instructor a high-five and came bursting through the gym door. Looking like she had something very important to tell me, she ran to where I sat.

“Daddy! There was no makeup in the class.”

Puzzled by her comment I repeated,”No makeup?”

Shaking her head from side-to-side, Lucy said, “Yes, they had no makeup! It was not the makeup class.”

I smiled, “Honey, that was not a makeup class it was . . .”

Interrupting, she said, “I know Dad, you put me in the wronged class!”

Oh okay, you mean the makeup class, as in a class about cosmetics, commonly confused by fathers with the make-up class, as in the save your ass class when he forgets to take his kid to the regularly scheduled class. Well, someone had some explaining to do — and that would be me.

The same word but with a different meaning conundrum. The peculiarity of language or the natural by-product of a forty-four-year-old man sharing his days with a three-year-old makeup crazed little girl?

I don’t know who or what is to blame. But I do know, you can’t make up this stuff.

makeup \ˈmāˌkəp\ – cosmetics used to color and beautify the face. ~ Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary

Kevin Rudge is a stay-at-home dad of three girls and practicing trophy husband.  He lives and writes from his home in suburban Chicago.  More of his humorous observations and confessions can be found at

April 19, 2011

Why I suck as a Parent

aCS Blog: Mother Inferior (or, why I suck as a parent)–Connie Lissner

I suck as a parent. There, I said it.

I thought I would be a great parent. Well, that’s not actually true. Truth be told, I never thought that I would have kids, but once I held my friend’s baby, I was smitten. Babies are so cute and they smell good and they do adorable things like coo and smile. What I now realize is that I was smitten with the idea of having a baby– not a teenager.

Don’t get me wrong – I love my teenager and not just because I’m putting this in writing. It’s just that no one tells you when you have a baby that the baby will grow up…to be a teenager.

To be fair though, my oldest has not developed his oppositional behavior because he is now 15. He’s always been oppositional. We are a family of Cubs fans – he became a White Sox fan when he was 7. We are Chicago Bears fans – he cheers on the Green Bay Packers. We want to go on a beach vacation – he wants to ski. Are you seeing a pattern?  He has always been his own person and yet I am always surprised that he won’t do exactly what I say when I say it. Take homework, for example. I did my homework every day, without being told, and I remind him of this fact every day. But daily reminders are apparently not enough, so I remind him more loudly and more loudly until I am yelling it at him. And he still doesn’t do his homework exactly the way I did! My 11-year-old son asked me the other day if I was going to yell at him about homework one day, too.

It was a very proud moment for me.

Which leads me to the first reason why I suck as a parent – I yell. I know that it is not “pc” to say that you yell at your kids unless you are a Chinese mother ala Amy Chua. But I yell, and I know that every parent who is now judging me has either yelled and repressed the memory or has young children and thinks that she (or he) will never yell (see below regarding expectations). Trust me, you will yell. You will yell and in the middle of it you will realize that you are yelling and you will wonder why you are yelling at your child for getting a “B” instead of an “A” (“if you would only apply yourself – dammit!”) and you will want to stop but you will think that if you stop your children will think that you are surrendering and then you, too, will realize that you suck as a parent and you will wonder how you got here.

Every parent probably starts out the same way: you look at your baby and you envision building things together, cooking meals, taking great adventure vacations, playing sports and reading books. And when he starts talking you picture wonderful, heartfelt conversations or challenging dinner conversation ala the Kennedys. And, sure, you may even have that for a while and then one day, your son wakes up looking more like a man than a boy and you think – shit – who is that? You don’t expect the grunts, or the sass, or the condescending stares that apparently come with being a man/child.

Which leads me to the second, and probably most important reason that I suck as a parent:  I had EXPECTATIONS. You can’t have any when you have a child. Intellectually, I know this to be true and, yet, there’s a part of me that keeps yammering away saying “but if they share my DNA why can’t they do everything like me??!”. But—and here’s the secret—they are not mini versions of you or your spouse – they are their own person! Which does make me wonder why I spend so much time worrying about becoming my mother…but that’s a discussion for another day.

Connie Lissner is a writer, lawyer, wife and more importantly, the mother of two boys. She was once told that a child’s job is to constantly push a parent’s limits. She assures you that her boys do their job very well. She, in turn, is trying to do her job of not totally screwing them up. She navigates the slippery slope of motherhood one day at a time.

April 15, 2011

Educating Kobe

aCS Blog: The Sports Bank–Paul Banks

When I first heard that Los Angeles Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant mouthed a homophobic slur in the middle of a national game broadcast, and you know which word it was, all I could think of was a scene from the 2009 film “The Hangover.”

The scene comes just minutes after this line of monologue: “Hey, this is Phil. Leave me a message, or don’t, but do me a favor: don’t text me, it’s gay.”

Stu Price: They are mature, actually. You just have to get to know them better.
Phil Wenneck: [yells from outside] PAGING DR. FAGGOT. DR. FAGGOT!
Stu Price: I should go.
Melissa: That’s a good idea, Dr. Faggot.
(Watch the  video)

Phil’s character, and the film in general, connected with such a wide audience because this cartoonish meat head is so true to life.  And Kobe, a role model to many young men, is no better.

But he’s hardly alone.

Michael Jordan, the superstar of NBA superstars, was known to drop a few f-bombs (and I’m not talking about the word that rhymes with truck) in practice during his days with the Chicago Bulls but was never caught publicly. Plenty of other NBA players, ex-players and their fans are no strangers to the that same bomb. Experts on diversity and tolerance have expressed to the media their belief that this instance further signifies that “locker room talk” is “the last bastion of homophobia in this country.”

Bryant was fined $100,000, a decision Bryant said he will appeal. Bryant later issued a statement saying that this outburst was a product of frustration and did not reflect his feelings toward gays. If that’s actually true, then he needs to do a PSA in the same vein as Hilary Duff and Wanda Sykes.

“A lot of people are condemning Kobe for this, but it is language that a lot of men use in our society without knowing what it really means and how ignorant and hurtful it is,” says Jarred Chin of the Society for the Study of Sport in Society at Northeastern University in Boston. Chin is further quoted in the Christian Science Monitor. “When you use that word … you are calling out that person to prove that they are really a man, and to do that, they have to assert it through physical violence.”

Not exactly the best association for a basketball player who was once brought up on rape and assault charges.

Kobe’s public persona aside, he’s only just one troglodyte. He’s a very high profile person using language that’s stuck in the cave, but he’s still one guy. There are recent examples of athletes and fans who are setting the opposite example and giving reason for optimism.

Look first at Brian Sims, a very successful division II college football star. He came out during the season; and his teammates embraced him. Read our three-part interview, to learn more about how many people have been inspired by his courageous example. Then look at the fact that The Stanley Cup made an appearance in last summer’s Pride Parade. Finally, there’s Jerry Pritikin, nicknamed the “Gay Forrest Gump,” or as I call him “the most interesting Cubs fan in the world.”

When will see an openly gay athlete in one of the three major professional sports? Probably not for a while yet; but progress is being made. The outrage and national dialogue Kobe’s remarks have stirred, is, I think, progress.  Will this incident  outrage one of the many closeted players to come out publicly?

Paul M. Banks is a member of  Football Writers Association of America, United States Basketball Writers Association, Society of Professional Journalists, a regular contributor to FOX News and CEO of The Sports