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Pushing the Limits with the Harlem Globetrotters

Pushing the Limits with the Harlem Globetrotters

The Harlem Globetrotters. You just smiled involuntarily, didn’t you? The mere mention of the Globetrotters conjures up nostalgia; childhood memories of watching one of the world’s most famous teams do things you’d never seen before on the basketball court, all while oohing and ahhing alongside your mom or dad with Sweet Georgia Brown playing in the background.

Last week I took my 3 sons to see the Globetrotters for the first time in Lowell, MA. As the boys and I told people about our plans or recapped our experience, we repeatedly encountered similar responses. Almost without fail, the person would tell us that they had gone to see the Globetrotters as a kid and loved it. I recounted for them my memories of seeing the Globetrotters as a kid in Rhode Island. My wife did the same from her childhood in Tennessee and our parents let them know that they too had seen the Globetrotters (back in the “olden days” as my kids call it) in Chicago, New York City and Cincinnati, respectively.

As I learned last week, Globetrotters games are still good, clean fun. However, rest assured that these are not your father’s (let alone grandfather’s) Globetrotters. We saw the team perform at one of the stops on their aptly named “Pushing the Limits” tour. While I recognized and delighted in seeing the trademark weave being performed by the team and the skits involving the refs and audience members, the high-flying acrobatics were on a level I couldn’t have imagined as a kid. Limits were most certainly being pushed.

We arrived early for the game to attend a “Magic Pass” pre-show event during which kids can learn tricks, meet the players, get autographs and take advantage of the opportunity to dribble and shoot on the game floor. I highly recommend this experience for kids seeing the Globetrotters for the first time. My boys were very excited to see the players up-close and get their autographs on the new Globetrotters balls I bought them (a seemingly unavoidable purchase most parents happily made at the event). All three kids got a chance to spin the ball on their finger. The also met “Globie” and a handful of Globetrotters players, all of whom signed their balls and posed for pictures.

When the pre-game festivities ended, we got some food, found our seats and settled in for 90 minutes of quality entertainment. The kids were awed by the athleticism and tickled by the theatrics. As for me, there were enough familiar themes from the Globetrotters of old to tap into my childhood nostalgia with plenty of new elements and dazzling dunks to keep me engaged. Most of all, I loved seeing the game through my kids’ eyes for the first time.

The boys and I had a blast and I chuckled to myself witnessing the reactions to them telling coaches and teachers about the game when vacation ended. “The Globetrotters? That’s awesome! I saw them when I was a kid too. What kinds of tricks did they do?’

For those of you that are fellow Boston-area parents, you have two upcoming opportunities to see the team play locally. Here are the details:

Sat. March 21 at 2 pm & 7 pm
SNHU Arena, Manchester, NH
http://www.snhuarena.com/calendar/

Sun. March 22 at 2 pm
DCU Center, Worcester, MA
https://www.dcucenter.com/event-calendar/harlem-globetrotters/

Do you have a Globetrotters memory either from parenthood or childhood? Please share it with me below in the comments or on Twitter, where I’m @DadLifeStories. Thanks for reading!

Truly embarrassed

Truly embarrassed

Neither my wife nor I drink very much alcohol these days. We both enjoy a glass of wine or a beer every now and then but often go months at a time without consuming a drop of alcohol and rarely keep any in the house. I tell you this not as a judgment on those who drink on a regular basis nor to tout our clean living. The fact is, although we don’t spend much time in bars, we have a spot for bar food. The reason for me detailing our drinking habits is because it serves as helpful context for the following story.

A friend was visiting us this summer with his girlfriend and on the way to pick up dinner for the adults, we stopped at the liquor store to pick up drinks to enjoy during dinner and over the weekend. As I helped my friend pack the car to head home at the end of the weekend, I tried to give him the remaining handful of alcohol. He insisted we keep it. I responded by letting him know that while we’d be happy to drink the remaining few TRULY hard seltzers over time, they’d likely last at least 6 months in our fridge. He chuckled and told me to enjoy them.

Fast forward to yesterday, roughly 4 months later. I received a call from my son’s school around lunchtime. The guidance counselor was calling to inform me that my son had brought a TRULY hard seltzer to school as part of his lunch. She said it was apparent that he wasn’t aware of the adult nature of the drink and merely thought he had snuck a seltzer into his lunch (we never send the kids to school with anything to drink other than a water bottle). She couldn’t help but chuckle and assured me that there wouldn’t be any ramifications but wanted me to be aware of what had happened. Nonetheless, I was mortified.

I immediately texted my friend and reminded him of my comment about how long the drinks would last. I then wrote, “here we are four months later and you’ll never guess where one of the drinks wound up today!”

As for the remaining two cans of TRULY, last night seemed like a good time for me to tackle their disposal after getting the kids to bed.

In case any of you fellow dads out there thought you might still be in the running for father of the year, consider this notice that the award is all but locked up. Best of luck to those in contention for second place!

Do you have a nomination for bigger dad oops of the year? Please share it with me below in the comments or on Twitter, where I’m @DadLifeStories. Thanks for reading!

That time I tried to Venmo the babysitter

That time I tried to Venmo the babysitter

Parent interactions with teenage babysitters are inherently awkward, all the more so when it’s a dad returning home to a young woman he’s never met before. This was exactly the scenario that occurred on the evening in question. My wife, at the time a college professor, had hired a student from her University to man the fort while we both had evening work commitments. I went directly from my office to my meeting and therefore hadn’t met the babysitter prior to coming home before my wife that night.

I walked in the house, quickly introduced myself and quickly followed up with “can I Venmo you?” Like most folks these days, I rarely have cash on me. I also assumed a college student would not be interested in being paid by check and, most importantly, would be familiar with the increasingly ubiquitous Venmo payment app such that it could be utilized as a verb.

Boy was I mistaken. The horrified look on the babysitter’s face made it abundantly clear that she was both unfamiliar with the app and extremely concerned about the meaning of the “verb” I had used.

I explained about the app in a panicked fashion, but the damage was done. I think I wound up paying her double her fee, apologizing profusely as I wrote her a check. When my wife came home, I informed her that there was a 0% percent chance the student would ever babysit for us again before telling her what had happened. My complete and utter embarrassment made the story very amusing to her.

As I recounted the story shortly thereafter to a friend, he told me I had dodged a bullet because it could have gone even worse. Confused, I asked him what he meant and he said, just imagine how much more awkward it would have been had she responded by saying something to the effect of “sounds exciting, let’s do it before your wife gets home.” I think I would have just turned around and walked back out of the house until my wife came home.

Fast forward a few weeks to the next time we hired a babysitter. This time my wife and I returned home from dinner together but, nonetheless, I was determined to avoid any semblance of a repeat occurrence. I pulled up a chair and sat down across from the babysitter before asking her in a very formal manner if she was familiar with the peer-to-peer payment app called Venmo and if I could utilize it to compensate her for her babysitting services. She looked at me like I was crazy and said “so you want to Venmo me? Sure.” Awkwardness begets awkwardness but I felt somewhat vindicated by her response, despite the fact that she was looking at me like I had four heads.

I now take the less dangerous and (hopefully) less awkward approach by asking babysitters if they use Venmo before inquiring about paying them via the app. If nothing else, I’ve gotten many laughs out of friends and family by recounting the story.

Do you have an embarrassing but funny parenting story? Please share it with me below in the comments or on Twitter, where I’m @DadLifeStories. Thanks for reading!

Behind the scenes at Oliver!

Behind the scenes at Oliver!

The folks at New Rep Theatre in nearby Watertown recently extended an invitation to attend a rehearsal of their new production of Oliver! and we gladly accepted. My two older sons and I had the pleasure of watching the cast and crew work on their performance of Oliver!, a musical based on the novel by Charles Dickens.

Photo via New Rep Theatre

Director Michael Bobbitt was a very gracious host, offering us a behind-the-scenes tour of the set, some information on the show’s inspirations (Lemony Snicket & Tim Burton) and checking in on us during breaks in the action to explain what was happening. The rehearsal we saw occurred during their “tech week” which meant we had a chance to see some of the technical components involved in making a play happen. A sound engineer adjusted the levels for various speakers and even showed us how he added a delay for some based on the time it takes for sound to travel from the stage to certain spots in the audience. That was one of many cool peeks behind the curtain (so to speak) we experienced. Unsurprisingly though, the highlight for my boys was the appearance of a fight choreographer who helped the cast members work through a scene that involved some grappling between actors while the Director gave us some context and demonstrated a few tricks of the trade.

We decided to head home around 9 PM but left intrigued about the performance and look forward to returning to see the show in its entirety with the rest of the family. My sons marveled that the kids in the performance were staying up so late (rehearsal was slated to run until roughly 11 PM) and asked a series of questions about their schedule, if they could sleep late, etc. I was more focused on the impressively disciplined behavior of the young actors at such a late hour but somehow that went unnoticed by my boys. Either way, their interest in theatre was piqued, which is great timing as they’re headed to see a performance of Tuck Everlasting later this month in Concord, MA.

Click here for more info and to purchase tickets if you’re local and interested. Note: This was not a sponsored post but the theatre did allow us to attend their rehearsal.

Have you taken your kids to see a play recently that they enjoyed? Please share it with me below in the comments or on Twitter, where I’m @DadLifeStories. Thanks for reading!

Say YES To The Dress

Say YES To The Dress

There are very few genuine surprises in life. My wife and I seized the opportunity to enjoy delivery room gender reveals by not finding out the sex of our babies while they were in utero. That said, when we had three boys in a row, the surprises began to feel a bit anticlimactic. When my wife was pregnant with our fourth child, we opted for yet another surprise but resigned ourselves to the fact that we were likely to receive familiar news. So much so, in fact, that when the OB-GYN showed me our newborn baby I exclaimed, “hey doc, I think something’s wrong with his penis!” Suffice it to say that having a daughter was a true surprise and a new experience for us.

About a week later, I took my in-laws and three boys to a sidewalk sale happening at a nearby shopping plaza containing our favorite children’s store to stock up on supplies, entertain the kids, and (most importantly) give my wife and our sleeping newborn a quiet house. After purchasing the baby items we needed, we took advantage of the face painting happening outside a neighboring clothing store.

As we waited in line for the face painting, I started looking through racks of clothing on clearance from the fancy boutique that we’d never ventured inside of before. It wasn’t the type of store we’d typically visit, but I was a captive audience on the sidewalk and, being the proud father of a daughter for the first time, one particular dress caught my eye. The dress was expensive, but it was on sale for 75% off and I thought it would look adorable on my daughter. There was only one problem – it was only available in a size 5 and she was less than a month old. Nonetheless, I decided to make the impulse purchase as an investment in her future fashion. Below is a photo of my sleeping infant daughter “wearing” her new dress.

When we returned home and I showed my wife the dress, she thought it was pretty but was befuddled by my decision to buy our daughter a dress that she wouldn’t be able to wear until years later. I did some quick math in my head and determined that it would likely fit her around the time my nephew would be having his Bar Mitzvah (he was an 8-year-old at the time). We had a chuckle about purchasing her dress for the event five years in advance (let’s just say fashion isn’t a focal point in our household) and put the dress away in storage.

Fast forward from the summer of 2014 to the spring of 2019. As we planned for my nephew’s Bar Mitzvah, we told my daughter the story about the dress and she got very excited about the prospect of possibly wearing it. Because she’s a peanut of a 4 & 1/2-year-old, we were nervous that she’d still be too small for the dress. I took the dress out of storage and handed it to my daughter, who gleefully put it on.

She could hardly contain her enthusiasm about the dress fitting and I had an equal amount of trouble refraining from gloating to my wife about my “plan” coming to fruition.

She looked gorgeous in her dress on the day of the Bar Mitzvah (as did my beautiful wife). As Hannibal used to say on the A-Team, I love it when a plan comes together!

 

Friday Dad Reads

Friday Dad Reads

I don’t know about you, but I’m a sucker for a good read about the impact a father had on their child(ren)’s life, be it in remembrance of the dad or simply lessons imparted by him. Below are two pieces I’ve recently read which resonated with me.

Mark Suster is an entrepreneur-turned-venture capitalist who produces a prodigious amount of content in the form of blog posts, tweets and even “Snapstorms” on Snapchat. I typically consume Mark’s content wearing my marketer/startup enthusiast hat, but I’ve always appreciated that he intersperses personal elements, including this excellent post about a valuable lesson he learned from his mother. A few weeks ago, Mark’s father passed away, prompting him to share a post he had published 5 years ago about lessons learned from his dad. I hadn’t read the post previously and I enjoyed it tremendously. I especially respected that Mark had the foresight to write the post while his father was alive to read and appreciate it.

I encourage you to read the post in its entirety, but I wanted to quickly call out one passage which particularly resonated with me.

“My dad always turned up. He was at my games — I don’t remember ever having a soccer match or basketball game that he didn’t attend. I still try to move mountains to be at my kids’ sports events. Knowing you have support really matters. Knowing that to your dad you’re the most important thing in the world lets you feel protected — part of a tribe.”

I have a vivid memory from my own childhood which underscores this philosophy having been shared by my own father. As a senior in high school, I called my dad’s office, where he was a busy healthcare insurance executive. His assistant answered the phone and – after I said who was calling – she replied, “good luck in your big game against your rival on Thursday.” I asked her how she knew and she explained that my father had put my entire season’s schedule in his calendar in hopes of avoiding scheduling conflicts in the office and enabling him to attend as many games as possible. Even at the age of 17, this struck me as a remarkable commitment but only as I struggled to balance my own personal and professional lives 20 years later did I fully grasp the complexities involved. I now have a whole other level of appreciation for how impressive it was that my father somehow managed to regularly attend late afternoon or early evening soccer and basketball games of mine, often returning to the office afterward to finish working. This is a topic I’ll surely be revisiting and tackling in greater depth in an upcoming post.

Sally Jenkins, a columnist for the Washington Post, has long been one of my favorite sportswriters. Unfortunately, she too recently lost her father, a fellow sportswriter, as well. In the wake of his death, Sally wrote a piece entitled, “My father made me laugh, and now I have a problem.” In the column, she shared a familiar sentiment which stood out to me. 

“As great a writer as he was, I don’t know that you can say anything higher about a guy than that his children preferred his company to all others and his approval to all the credit in the world.”

For all his talents and accomplishments, there’s no greater accolade she could bestow upon him than the respect and adulation of his children. This reminded me of a great quote shared by Dax Shepard during a recent live recording of his podcast at the Dad 2.0 Summit in which he said, “I’d much rather be a mediocre actor and a great dad than the other way around.” I agree with the underlying sentiment shared by both. Put simply: the most important job a man will ever hold is being a father, not their profession.

Have you read a great piece of content about a dad recently that you’d recommend? Please share it with me below in the comments or on Twitter, where I’m @DadLifeStories. Thanks for reading!