My entry for “Parent of the Year,” circa 2011

Three ready to go... where's Abby?It’s not like I haven’t been here before. In fact, I seem to have a knack for putting myself in exactly the right position to be used as an excellent example of what not to do when raising your children. Examples include the missing Tooth Fairy, the broken collar bone, and the broken arm.

Remembering that broken arm incident actually makes me feel a little better about this, so I’m glad I paused a moment to reflect. Still, this was pretty egregious. It started with the idea that a kids triathlon would be fun…

The kids have been swimming on the North Willow Swim Team for the last two years, including daily practices and two meets a week for the past month or so. They all have ridden their bikes to Bub’s for burgers and back, so I knew that putting a few miles behind them wouldn’t be a problem. (Of course, in the race, they wouldn’t be stopping in the middle to eat The Big Ugly and a milkshake, but still…) And the run, well… let’s just say it ain’t that far.

So they are all geared up and we head to Zionsville on Monday, July 4, for the big event. It should be pretty simple: 7-10 year olds will swim 100 meters, bike 1.8 miles and run .8 miles. All of them can do this pretty easily, so I’m not worried. And, honestly, neither are they. (Except Abby, who is uncontrollable terrified for some unknown reason. She cries for about an hour and refuses to take off her shoes. “They’ll only slow you down in the pool,” says I. She is unmoved.)

At check-in, I discover that the triathlon powers-that-be have designated that competitors will compete at the age they will be on December 31. For everyone but Lily, that’s their current age. Unfortunately for Lily, this puts her in the 11-12 year-old group and changes just about everything. The event she signed up for suddenly became a little horrific: the swim is now 200 meters, the bike ride is 4.5 miles, and the run is 1.8 miles. As far as I know, Lily hasn’t run over a mile at one time in her life. Additionally, when I think about the math, it’s clear to me that she could be competing head-to-head with girls who could be two years older.

To help keep her calm, I keep all of this information to myself.

In the end, they all raced like champions. After watching the older kids kick off the event, Abby set her fears (and her shoes) aside and joined the fray. She and Grace finished 3 & 4, respectively. Abby was just 1:02 from finishing first behind an 8-year-old. Jack finished in the middle of the field, 15th out of 26. There were only three minutes separating him from 5th. And Lily, to my everlasting joy, finished 17th out of 20, just a few minutes from the main pack.

When I asked them if they had fun and whether they were excited about the next one, Lily responded: “I’ll do my next one in 6th grade.” That went completely over my head until Charmaine explained that by then she’ll be 12.

If you’re interested, you can download the complete race results. And here are a few photos of race day:

Parents of the Year, Two Years Running

So tonight I was going through iPhoto looking to cull some images that weren’t useful and hopefully post a new update to the Cota family album. During this exercise, I came across this picture and, after a brief moment of “What the…”, I remembered the context.

We had gone down the street to a neighbor’s house for dinner. Since they are originally from Portugal and Italy (it must be some sort of custom or something) there seemed to be no shortage of wine at any given time. This photo was taken with my iPhone, sometime around midnight, and doesn’t really begin to describe the scene.

Well, at some point, Char looks at me and says, “You know, we really should be getting home.” I, of course, agreed. So, we gathered up the kids…

Yes, I meant that; and no, it’s not a typo. The kids had been playing pretty well up to this point, so we gathered them up, put them on their bicycles and…

What? Oh, yes. You heard that correctly, too. Since we just lived down the street, we decided to walk down. The kids chose to ride their bikes. So we loaded everyone up and headed back up the street. Laughing, of course, because by now it’s 2am and we have two kids riding their bikes up the street on training wheels. This is not exactly a stealthy way to get anywhere, much less up a bumpy blacktop road in the middle of the night.

But in the end, I’d do it again. (And, in fact, I think we may have.) Because this– heading home at two in the morning with kids in tow and laughter following– is what neighborhoods are meant to be.

Parents of the Year

As you may know, I’m often hard on people for the way that they take care of their kids (or don’t as the case may be.) Normally, these stories involve feeding the kids paste and garbage or locking them in cages, things like that. Today, however, the story is a little different and it’s about… me.

Last Monday, Grace fell down on the front steps. After the initial bout of crying and my advisement to “rub some dirt on it!”, the crying subsided and she seemed fine. That night, however, she didn’t sleep very well. I ended up bringing her upstairs, where she lay next to me, laughing and messing with my ears. After an hour or so it was back to her own room.

The next morning, she complained that her arm hurt. I told her this sometimes happens in the morning when your arm is asleep. She rubbed some dirt on it and was fine. That night, she slept fitfully again. (The mystery deepens!)

The next morning, as she began to climb into her chair for breakfast, she complained that her arm hurt. We (finally) took 30 seconds to look closely at it…

“Hmmm… minor swelling, slightly bruised, tender to touch… what could it be? Crap! Her arm is broken!

Four hours, three X-rays and two doctor’s offices later, the diagnosis was confirmed and she came home with a pretty pink cast.

That night, I withdrew our application for Parents of the Year.