Category: Parenthood

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This morning I took Maarten and his best friend Bas to the NEMO Science Center in Amsterdam.

We had a great time exploring and taking part in all of the scientific experiments, and although this place is geared towards young children, it was also refreshing knowledge for pseudo-geek parents like myself.

There was also some exhibition on the brain and how personalities define who we are.

I sat down behind one of the computer terminals and did the 10-minute quiz consisting of forty odd multiple-choice questions.

Finally arriving at somewhere in the high thirties, the poor computer got so confused by my answers that it froze with the following last gasp message:

"Syntax error, index out of range."

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I cannot believe what a fantastic and wonderful daughter I have.

She is "so super cool" and nice to me all of the time, respectful, creative and thoughtful of others. Brilliant and exceptional in most everything she does. She will be an amazing success in life, that's for sure. Probably a future famous corporate manager (voted woman of the year five years in a row) telling everyone what to do or else. Is there anything else to add?

[Marlies made me write that, complaining that I never put anything interesting in my blog any more, and worse of all nothing about her.]

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Both of us were having problems falling asleep, and it must have been nearly one o'clock in the morning. All of a sudden my wife broke the dark silence by speaking her mind.

"You know," she said. "I just thought of something really strange."

I mumbled back, pretending that I had almost fallen asleep when I hadn't really. "And what might that be?"

"Well, can you believe it that in just four years our two oldest children will have left the house for good?"

No answer from me, I had to think it over. Hard to imagine, I had to admit to myself.

She continued, "That's a weird idea, don't you think?"

Yes, a very weird idea. Four years is not that long of a time at all.

Seems like the older one gets the faster time flies by. As if the speed of time grows exponentially as the years go by. Doesn't seem fair now does it?

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Although Lennart was unable to get on base the three times he was up to bat, he did make a couple of magnificent catches in the outfield. As a proud father I found it necessary to jump up and down and cheer loudly. While this was just a practice game, I am sure that there is much potential for the team to win many games this season. I look forward to being a spectator (as long as my son gives me permission to attend) and rooting the Braves on to victory.

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In the middle of the night, Maarten called his mother. Since she was sleeping very deeply and did not hear him, I went downstairs to his room and handed him the usual glass of water. After two quick swallows, he looked up at me and with a sleepy though concerned look on his face said, "You haven't forgotten to keep looking for a job, have you?" He was under the false impression that because nothing had lately materialized that this could only be possible because I was neglecting my duties, eg. forgotten to search (because of the holidays). I reassured him that this was not the case and that he should not worry about it. Go back to sleep.

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This evening it was my turn to bring Marlies to some party her girlfriends were having. On the way there, I was supposed to picked up two of her friends. I was warned (threatened) in advance of all the things I was not allowed to do. Not being able to remember the extensive list which kept getting longer as the ride continued, I decided that the best thing to do was keep my mouth shut, not say a word nor make a sound. On the way to the first friend's house, I put on some favorite Neil Young tune of mine from the Zuma album in order to make the journey more bearable. "It's a fallen situation when all eyes are turned in and a love isn't flowing the way it could have been..." Marlies got impatient, accusing me of listening to old-fashioned grandpa music. Grandpa music, can you believe that?! For me it seems like only yesterday that I was her age and this was the kind of music to which I always listened. Back then it was cool and a blast and groovy, sometimes mellow and all in all great man. Not anymore, at least no for the future leaders of the world. Some day my generation will have to make room for these youngsters. In fact, if I think about it more closely, I realize that we old fogies are already giving way today. Prepare yourself.

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My youngest boy Maarten decided to use the mini-tower of his computer as a type of ladder to climb on in order to reach some item of interest at the top of his bookshelf. My very first computer it was, so I am pretty sentimental about it. Darn it those kids these days, so careless and disrespectful of property. While it is an old 486 PC, it is still pretty nice for the millions of old-fashioned games on it. As he stepped on it, I guess he slipped and the cables and connectors on the back of the machine got pretty messed up. So I fixed it all by reattaching everything, but the hard disk was a goner. "Cannot find operating system." Well, that's all for now folks, all the games I had meticulously installed and tweaked over the years are gone in an instant.

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One might not expect it at first, but actually the act of vacuuming can be alot of fun. That is, if you put your mind to it and realize that such a so-called simple activity can afterall be very fulfilling indeed. All those tiny crumbs, particles of things and specs of dust being sucked up into oblivion never to be seen again. The sound of the larger objects rattling against the metal tube or ricocheting as they pass through the ribbed hose, and then nothing more. At first, everywhere you look there are irritating irregularities on the floor. Just try walking along the surface in your bare feet and you will know what I mean. All those soggy irregularities stuck to the bottom of your feet and inbetween the toes. I choose the more logical (boring) approach of following parallel mental bands, over which I vacuum, much like mowing the imaginary lawn. On the linoleum floor one must adjust the angle of the end-piece such that there is a slight wedged-up opening through which the larger particles can fit through. Otherwise if you press down too hard it is just like sweeping the particles away rather than sucking them up inside. In the end, I think I much prefer vacuuming the carpet. Not only does this give one a smooth and pleasant return on the sliding arm movements, but just the sight of that woven fabric first resisting and then popping back in place is enough to cause goose bumps and make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. The wonderful art of vacuuming the place. Hopefully some day I will become an expert vacuum engineer, but that will take years of practice.

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A natural and necessary part of growing up is for kids to become independent from the shackles of the home-front. This is often enough accomplished by feeling overly embarrassed by one's parents or by thinking that everything they say or do is unbelievably stupid. As a parent, you should not take this personally and realize that they are simply growing up. This is indeed hard at times and you wonder how much more patience will be required before you blow your stack completely. I mean really, what are they trying to prove? In the olden days I think that children were not allowed to be so impolite and sarcastic to the parents, but nowadays such behavior is considered normal. Too bad this effort at severing bonds has to take on such an unpleasant extreme, but it is part of the whole process. The ironic part of the whole matter is that as an adult you have already lived that phase more than once, and the wisdom you have acquired would be so useful to kids growing up nowadays when life is not easy. History has to repeat itself I guess.

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Why do men always have to prove themselves? Or at least "think" that they have to? Society raises its male counterparts as if they are being prepared for a life of leadership and responsibility. Work hard and maybe you can be the best. As if that is something so great. Historically this has always been the case, while more recently these pressures "seem" to be getting less. But I am not so sure about it. Be strong, bring home the bacon, make difficult decisions, raise your children with a stern hand, that kind of stuff. Personally, I find it extremely difficult to follow this role model, be it a watered-down version. Even subconsciously men nowadays have an ingrained urge to achieve, at whatever level, whichever way, no matter the costs. This can be uncomfortable for those less inclined to pursue such (artificially) high ideals. Let it be, and then see what happens.

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Ranting and raving early in the morning as I have to rush to get off to work in time is not exactly my idea of having fun. Five times a week for one hour between seven and eight in the morning usually. It is a complete loony-toon insane asylum at the Gish abode, as each person vies for the limited resources. I am not exaggerating. One shower, two toilets, six chairs, two square meters of table space, food and plates, drinks and cups, three sinks to brush teeth in front of, a number of mirrors, the couch which can seat at most two parents or one (easily irritated) child, the doorway to squeeze through, etc. The kids get a kick out of bugging each other, more often than not for no simple reasonable, it is all so psychologically complex and subtle. As a parent you are expected to keep your cool, and with a calm voice sooth the tempers and offer guidance. Do not cuss because that is bad, do not raise your voice because that only results in an unwanted escalation of tempers and eventual war, provide a helping hand and do not accidently give the impression you are pushing, ask and do not order, but ask with a firm and determined voice. I have four wonderful wild-and-crazy kids, but they can also be a handful at times. At least they are lively and have their own unique personalities.

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As a good parent it is important to care for your kids and do your very best job using tender loving care to create the perfect little human beings. At the same time however it is your job to teach them to be independent so that when they grow up they can survive in this big-bad-world with as few bruises and scratches as possible. You want to be close to them, cuddle them closely, kiss them goodnight, and have boring family outings together. But at the same time you want to let them grow up and let them go. You cannot keep them forever, and you cannot go against nature's grain, who are you to think that you own them or something? They chose to be with you and God provided a gift for all of mankind. This is very difficult, probably one of the biggest dilemmas of parenthood: to be close and to be faraway at the same time. It is only natural to feel hurt or letdown or irate when your obnoxious and sassy kids who think they know it all just ignore you the whole day. Of course they know it better than you and they know that. But at the same time you are proven the hard way that you have done an exceptionally good job up to now. Congratulations to all parents out there who have achieved similar difficult results. You done good, darn good. Those are the future leaders of the world who have allowed you to take care of them while they have prepared themselves. Yes, the future leaders of the world.

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Information

This personal weblog was started way back on July 21, 2001 which means that it is 7-21-2001 old.

So far this blog contains no less than 2288 entries and as many as 1877 comments.

Important events

Graduated from Stanford 6-5-1979 ago.

Kiffin Rockwell was shot down and killed 9-23-1916 ago.

Believe it or not but I am 10-11-1957 young.

Began well-balanced and healthy life style 1-8-2013 ago.

My father passed away 10-20-2000 ago.

First met Thea in Balestrand, Norway 6-14-1980 ago.