Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Moving forward, and yes, I was overthinking it...

I appreciate all of the feedback I received after my last posting. The general consensus was that I needed to get a grip about my writing about family issues. Some family and a friend, both in Europe, in particular really brought the issue home for me.

In a nutshell, I need to relax and remember that this column was supposed to be a fun outlet. Also, if a situation that I'm writing about won't be helped by writing about it, I probably shouldn't publish on it. So, going forward I hope to still write about important things in our lives, but will likely keep a few things in house, despite how important they may be to my life and family.

And if this space stops being fun, it will be time to move on from it. I don't think that time is here yet...

I thought in that vein I would revisit a column from the old days where I discussed things I've actually said recently as it relates to my days as a full time stay at home dad, which I am pleased to say I have been doing now for going on four years.

1) "Nobody needs to see your bottom!"

Said in response to all three of my children at different times, circumstances, and regrettably, locations during the last month. That might be worth its own column.

2) "I don't want to hear one more poopie buttbutt fart poop bottom diaper stupidhead comment come out of you mouths!"

See comments for #1 unfortunately.

3) "Well, I actually do have a job..."

My reply to an inquisitive kindergartener who lives in my house. He wondered why I don't have a job like Mom. I explained that I had chosen to stay home and take care of them. Not sure what he thought of it, but his sister happily chimed in that she was glad I was home. That was cool.

4) "I am NOT a pogo stick!"

The Bear, my youngest, was treating my foot like one. It was unpleasant.

5) "Well, for my money, Trader Joes is far superior to Wegmans."

Said in discssion with a few of my colleagues last week. Was a point of contention with a few but was amicably debated. I'm right though, and not just because of "three buck chuck."

6) "Is there any chance you will stop treating my foot like playground equipment?"

Said a minute ago as I write this. The Bear is being persnickety today.

7) "I'll give you a dollar and a Dora if you take a nap."

Me to the Bear, yesterday. She respectfully declined my offer. Tougher than the NFL labor crisis...

8) "Yes you do!"

My reply to the Bear who claimed she didn't want to play tball as she does not in fact like it. She respectfully disagreed at the top of her lungs through the fourth inning.

I may post more later but Karate class is over and I've got to get back to work. Until then, thank you for reading.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Perhaps I'm overthinking it? Privacy vs. Truth in Blogging.

I have enjoyed writing in this space over the last three years. When I first started Aloha Kugs back in December 2007, I planned for this blog to be a place to share my family’s experiences in Hawaii with those on the mainland. It has moved away from that over the years to the point where I see it more now as a medium through which I can comment on not only what has been happening with my children and our family, but also the world in general. I’ve written about sports, music, wrestling, and whatever else has moved me. The focus of the blog remains the family and I’ve always tried to be honest in my writing and interesting at the same time.

As I review the 87 entries that I’ve shared over the years, I see in many ways how our lives as a family have played out. 2008 in particular was a prolific year and I’m rather proud of the work I did in chronicling that first year on Oahu. While the number of posts declined, I like to think that I chose my topics more carefully and thoughtfully over the subsequent years, and in general I am glad to have had this space in which to share my thoughts and words.

But, the truth is that I’ve been holding back. I have always taken very seriously the thin veil of privacy that exists here and have never used the real names of any of my friends or family, as I felt it was unnecessary in getting my point across. None of us are famous people, so real names never seemed to matter. In all honesty, there are a number of columns that I’ve written that will never be posted here because, well in some cases they just stunk-- Full disclosure on that point. Beyond that, the truth is that I’ve been unable to share a lot of the more urgent issues in my life due to the fact that I’ve tried to respect the privacy of my family and friends. There have been some monumental problems and moments of real personal crisis over the last years and I have not shared that in this space, although I truly wish I had been able to. To have done so would have in some cases ended a relationship, or at the very least complicated it dramatically. It simply wasn’t worth being seen as “airing dirty laundry” in this space, so I kept my thoughts to myself. This seems to have been a prudent choice, as last year, when I shared what I saw as a positive experience with my extended family in a column, an unfortunate misunderstanding of a single word led to a world of hard feelings, the end of one family relationship, and the straining of several more.

So, I’ve kept a lot of my thoughts and feelings about the things that have been most pressing in my life to myself and away from this space. I bring this up because, upon reflection, I feel as though there was a real problem with my last blog.

I got some wonderful responses both public and private to my last post where I discussed my broken hand and my currently stalled efforts to get the novel published before focusing on the awesome way that my children connect and the amazing ability they seem to have to create and explore together. I truly appreciate the comments. While every word of that blog still rings true to me, it is not the whole of the story. In truth, things have been really challenging for us over the last several months, and when I re-read that last column, it seems a bit hollow to me.

Yes, my kids are amazing, but what makes the way they played together in inspiring the column all the more outstanding to me was that it came on the heels of a series of very difficult and challenging days with the kids. Again, I am hesitant to share too openly here, as the issue affects all of us in our house and one child in particular. We are working with an Occupational therapist now in an effort to improve things and are having some success. In the end, the issue we are facing is not life-threatening, nor is it without treatable options, but if I put this out there about my specific child, then it’s out there forever on the internet. What if he/she wants to run for office someday and dear old Dad’s blog pops up? I know that’s overly dramatic, but I do wonder how they will feel if I write about our challenges in this way? I’m less worried about how they will feel about the funny stories and the good memories, though I suppose the kids could resent that as young adults. The potty training stories alone might get me in trouble someday, but I’m not afraid of that, though perhaps I should be. The line is a little less clear for me and I am struggling to balance my desire to process both the great and the difficult through sharing my writing, while at the same time allowing the people I’m both directly and indirectly writing about to not feel targeted. Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but I feel hamstrung by the fact that I want to be fair to the people in my life who have not chosen to write an online column about their thoughts and feelings while at the same time, telling the whole story of the life I am living. So, I’m debating the future of the blog again. I’ve enjoyed writing it, but unless I can find a way to tell the whole of the story that is our lives right now, I fear the columns will become more and more trivial, and that is not what I want it to be.

I want to be able to write about my life, the good, the bad, and the ugly as well, but I want also to respect the privacy of my wife and children, and my extended friends and family who might occasionally be a part of the story I want to tell.

I really do want and in some ways need to keep writing in this space so I likely will, regardless. But, if nothing else I guess I just wanted you to know that it’s not all Christmas trees, awesome and creative play, and the occasional sports story that exists in our lives these days. I hope I can find a way to make it work so I can keep writing like this, as it’s helped me both in my life and with my fiction projects. But, perhaps again I am overthinking, as I was recently told: “you are no John Steinbeck.” Perhaps it’s a moot point.

So how do I write about my family without violating their privacy? I’ve got some ideas, but should you have any suggestions, I’m game for hearing them.