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How Do You Raise a One-Armed Boomerang?

When I was 18, my parents asked me what I wanted for graduation. I thought and pondered, pondered and thought. What I really wanted, above all else, was my freedom. I didn’t want to live at home anymore, my only issue was money, I didn’t have any. I devised a plan and presentation, complete with notes and figures. For graduation, I told my parents, I wanted to move out of the house. I would agree to take a class at the local college, work nights to cover my cost of living, if they would fit the bill for the apartment. Knowing that I’d be attending the University of Kansas in Lawrence after the summer, I figured this would be a great “test-run” of the college life. I even called around and found a local complex allowing for 3 month leases. After reviewing my proposal, my parents agreed, and the lease was signed.

That summer and the “Party Apartment” (as it became known) were on my mind when I heard about the “Rising Share of Young Adults living in Their Parents Home“. Apparently, at the end of 2012, 36% of young adults age 18-31 lived with their parents…36%! They are commonly called Boomerang Kids. Sent out of the house for a short while, only to return, like a boomerang, years later. That’s an amazing statistic. As a parent, it’s scary thought. I have three boys, Henry, Charlie & Max, ages 7, 4 & 1. How do I raise three One-Armed Boomerangs that fly straight through life, never making that u-turn back to my basement?

No child dreams of growing up and living with their parents. And, of course, there are situations when living at home, or needing help from a parent is the only choice. I’ve leaned on my parents plenty. But how do I raise my boys to value responsibility?

I’ve heard it said, from parent to child, “Do as I say, not as I do”. I verbalize how I want my boys to act. “Do your homework,” “Be nice to your friends,” “Clean up your room,” “Eat your vegetables.” Each instruction, outwardly describing a behavior I want to instill in my child. Yet, I often wonder, is it my actions, not my words, that are being heard?

Maybe the secret to breaking the arms of my little Boomerangs is to look inward, not speak outward, and examine how closely aligned my actions are to my words. Do I take my work seriously? Am I nice to the people I meet? How healthy do I live my life? Maybe if I want my boys to be disciplined, healthy, and keep a clean room, I should demonstrate constraint, eat right and take care of my belongings. Want a child to be good with money? Ask yourself, “How good am I with dollars and cents?” Want a child to listen, do less talking. Want a child less dependent on you, become less dependent on others. (See: Parents, Grand) Sure, it’s possible to live a life out of balance, only to see your own child choose a life in contrast to your own, but more often than not, it won’t happen.

The most important attribute I can demonstrate is the desire to become better and grow. I am not a not perfect parent, perfect son, perfect boss, but I can be better. Working on ourselves might be this life’s greatest challenge. Yet, it’s a choice, and it’s a behavior that will be learned by my children, and that’s a great thing. Because if I do nothing else but demonstrate a life-long lust to making myself a better person, and my sons only learn that one teaching, how can I fault myself for who they become?

1996 was a great summer, living in that one-bedroom apartment in West Wichita, working nights at Chili’s, and drinking on a fake ID. I aced that English 101 class and left for college later that summer, never to return. I have my parents to thank for raising this one-armed boomerang. And to my sons Henry, Charlie & Max…I don’t care what your presentation looks like, I’m not renting you an apartment for graduation!


The Birth of Maxwell James – A Diary

Let’s be clear, I’m a very lucky man.

But I always find it interesting that we never seem to remember the important things in life…oh sure, we remember the dates, maybe some particulars, but time clears the mind of many details.  So with the birth of my third boy on the horizon, I decided do a running diary of the day’s events.  I figured, if nothing else, we could look back and remember a few moments from his birth.  I also believe it’s another fact (in a long history of facts), that third borns are the best raised children in the world, and have yielded most of humankind’s most tremendous people…(figured out where I reside in the birth order yet?)

Think about it for a second, like shooting free-throw’s after practice or  golf balls at the range, what on this earth don’t we get better at with practice?  Why should parenting be any different?  We hover like helicopters over the first, over- compensate on the second, by the third, we’ve hit our Parenting Prime…they should call all of us third born’s Goldilock Kids!

So, in an honor of one of my all-time favorite writers, who happens to be an only child, The Sportsguy, I’ve decided to keep a running diary of the birth if my 3rd child, and rewind the action for you today.

Let’s begin

Weds, July 11th, 8:00 pm. My Mom has come in from Alabama to take care of my two boys.  The wife has an appointment to be at the hospital at 8. They’ll start the induction shortly after, with the idea that the baby will come sometime on Thursday, July 12th.

The One & Only John Holmes

8:49pm. At the hospital, wife hooked up to some machines, nurses asking lots of questions, I’m watching Modern Family… One thing they don’t tell you about having small kids? Your tv watching declines considerably. If it’s not a live sporting event, my tv is stuck on Power Rangers or Clifford. With that said, Modern Family is one I continue to watch, or at least try to… just so funny, especially to me, since my family is nothing, but traditional.

Also, they put us in the John Holmes room…apparently this hospital likes its porn stars. They must know something about my son’s “equipment”…

9:48pm. The cynic in me figured we wouldn’t have this baby until tomorrow morning, right when the doc wanted him to come.  I always figured these docs could telegraph a birth like the backup QB throwing into double coverage… But lo and behold, we may be getting started early. There’s lots of talk of effacing and dilating and Jill the Nurse just told me I’d better start drinking the coffee, it could be a long night…Jill’s a hoot…she just told us she doesn’t come to work and NOT celebrate birthday parties…better get ready to get tough!

9:58pm. Contractions getting stronger, might be about time to bring on the ol’ epidural. For those of you that don’t know, I’m one of those small business owners that both Republicans and Democrats like to talk about, especially when it comes to healthcare. Well, Rep or Dem, it doesn’t matter…all I know is I’m paying out-of-pocket (and out the nose) for this whole deal, so I’m thinking…are you allowed to negotiate with the epidural doctor? After my recent car buying episode, I’m yearning for another shot at using my negotiating prowess, or lack there of:) Granted, when the pain is hot and heavy, I’m pretty sure I’d lose on any negotiating.

10:46pm. Well, things have slowed down, maybe my previous cynicism was correct. Might be time to get a little shut-eye.

11:31pm. Nothing tonight, time for sleep.

Thursday, July 12th, 6:02am. Not exactly a Tempur-Pedic night sleep, but not too bad on the ol’ fold-out, or as my buddy Hyleme calls it, The Daddy Couch.

If it looks uncomfortable, it’s because it is…

Somewhat chilly laying next to the vent, but hey, I’m not the pregnant one, right? They drugged the wife up pretty good, so she was out as well. Laying here watching TV, with 6 channels, because apparently Direct TV & Viacom are having a hissy fit over fees. TV or no TV, today seems like a good day to have a child, don’t you think?

If I had to bet, I’d guess we’ll meet our new guy sometime after lunch.

Our “I-came-here-to-celebrate-birthdays” nurse, Jill, goes off in an hour. We’ll miss her…

8:56pm. Breakfast. Time to take a quick trip down to the cafeteria, which is always an overwhelming experience for me… So many options, you can only pick one…don’t screw it up!

Went with a breakfast sandwich, meanwhile, back on the baby front, the doctor came in and apparently kick started the process as contractions are beginning again hot and heavy… got to hand it to these docs, they handle these births like a bowling ball rolling towards the pins with the bumpers up…if something looks to be going in the wrong direction, bang!, a hit on the bumper and the ball gets rolling down the lane towards the pins…

10:22pm. Epidural doc has come and gone, and no, I didn’t try to negotiate with her. The house doc is gonna come in here shortly and re-position the bowling ball, err, break her water. Still looking at an afternoon birth. Meanwhile, what to do for the next 6 hours. My oldest was born on a Sunday on October…lots of football to watch… a Thursday in the middle of July? Catch up on Days of Our Life’s? Re-run of the Tour de France?  Once again, who has the toughest job today?

10:31pm. Water Broken. We’ll stop there, no need for details.

11:46pm. Time to grab some lunch. Nurse Karen seems to think things will “go quickly” now. Been spending the last hour reading up on this Sandusky/Freer investigation. Pretty sick/scary stuff, especially for a guy who’s about to have his third boy. So tragic, so ridiculous that college football has become such a big deal that people (Paterno) feel compelled to suppress their morals to save their teams/jobs. Great article by Jason Whitlock on this… Much evil in this world, much evil.

12:25pm. Must be getting close, they just wheeled in the baby’s bed.

12:50pm. 8cm, whatever that means.

2:11pm. Well, we now have 2 nurses and the room is filled with all types of machines, the wife is having contractions every minute or so, feeling pain even through the epidural. Guessing this wouldn’t be a good time to grab some Starbucks.

2:36pm. The doc has been called.

Maxwell James, 8lbs 2 oz

3:06pm. Maxwell James is born. 8lbs 2 oz, 20.25 inches. He’s got a lot of dark hair, considering I have none and the wife is blond we’ll be taking a closer look at the mailman this week;) the bowling ball has come down for a perfect strike!

3:55pm. As with the two previous, just an amazing experience.  If you’ve ever thought about having kids, I would highly recommend it.  The wife is a real rock star during these things. And this little guy is a miracle.  Make no mistake, I’m a lucky man!

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