Kids Playing Sports? Keep Your Inner Coach In Check

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Are your kids playing organized sports? If so, have you ever had the urge to step in and “coach” from the bleachers? I have and it is one of the hardest things to stop doing. But it is what you need to do. The coach will appreciate it, other parents will appreciate it and most importantly, your kid will appreciate it.

Our oldest started playing indoor soccer in the fall and will be moving on to outdoor soccer in the summer. It is his first taste of organized sports and playing on a team. It is his first time being coached by someone other than me. It is his first change to showcase his own self on the playing field.

As a parent who grew up playing sports, it is hard to watch and not want to chime in. Like many dads in particular, we have created this alternative memory of just how good we were at a sport and want to pass it on to our kids.

I played soccer most of my life. I like to think I was pretty good. I know the rules, the tricks and what should be done on the pitch. What I have never done is coach kids how to do it. They are unlike teenagers or other adults. They need to “get it” on their own and without patience, things can go south.

I have kicked the ball around with Harry for years. He loves it. He is good at it. It only makes sense he will be a natural at any sports he wants to play. But that is not how it goes.

Playing one on one with dad is a whole different world than playing on a team with other kids and a coach. You have to learn to share, work together and be a good teammate. All things I want Harry to learn of course. So we started soccer and I figured all would go how it should.

After the first week, it was clear, Harry had his own idea of playing soccer, and there is nothing wrong with that.

He loves to run. He is a tall 5-year old, so he looks like an antelope sprinting up and down the floor. He is always having fun and smiling. The one thing he did not have much interest in – the ball. He loved to just run and follow the play. Following the heard so to speak. If the ball came at him, he kicked it, but he would never seek it out.

This for me was hard to watch. I would fidget in my seat. I wanted to take him aside and coach him on what to do. I even yelled a few times with words of encouragement. He simply brushed me off and went back to the game he was playing in his head. I think the term I used when describing the night to Katie was space cadet. I had to not let it make me go crazy.

Each time Harry came off to have a drink, I would fall into coach mode and start filling his head with what to do, where to go and things to try. He had none of it. He just drank his water and laughed with his friends over what happened on Digimon.

Then I heard the coach sharing words of encouragement to the boys and girls. Things as simple as “great running”, “awesome job” and “be ready to go again”. That’s when I figured it out. I had to stop coaching and simply be dad. I wanted Harry to be Messi on the first night of his soccer career. It’s not that I am delusional. I just want the best for my boys. I want him to be better than I was. Basically I want him to achieve what I could not. All wrong.

I had to keep my coaching to myself and just be there as dad.

Each time Harry went out, he would dart up and down the floor, playing his own game of tag. If the ball happened to get in the way, he kicked it the right way (most of the time). I would start to say something and I would shut it down. It was hard to filter myself and not be that guy.

I looked around and there were other parents doing the same. Coaching from the sidelines and getting really into it. Their kids also seemed to tune them out. I did not want Harry to do that to me. I needed to stop and keep the thoughts in my head.

The only outlet was to come home and share it all with Katie and she would quickly point out that he is five and as long as he is having fun, who cares. He is not trying out for the National Team, it’s Timbits.

I read so many stories of aggressive parents at sporting events who yell, fight and cause a real scene and I always comment on how stupid it is. But as I sit there watching Harry put a pylon on his head instead of doing drills, I can see how it can happen. I can see how a parent can go from sane and caring to over the top idiot, all in the name of their kid.

Competitive juices flow. You hate to see your kid get scored on. But you let it happen and let the coach be the voice that is heard. I want Harry to understand authority. He listens to teachers and coaches now better than I think he listens to me and I don’t have a problem with that. As long as he has respect and understands who is in charge, I can say we did our job as parents.

This is only the start. It is only going to get harder with each sport and each year that goes by. What happens when someone hurts Harry or Harry hurts them. What happens when Harry gets cut when I firmly believe he shouldn’t. It’s going to be tough.

But it is not about me. It’s about Harry and his enjoyment of a sport or activity. As long as he can say he had fun afterwards, that is all that truly matters. I can save my back seat coaching for when I watch Toronto Raptors games.

Better Call Dad – I Can Make It Happen!

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In honour of one of my new favourite shows – Better Call Saul – I decided to make a list of all the things “dad” is called upon to do in our family. This is no way makes me out to be a super hero. If anything, it goes to show I do my best to be the glue that holds it all together.

Here are all the things (big and small) that cause the family to call dad.

  1. Pull apart Lego.
  2. Lift kids up or down stairs when they don’t want to walk.
  3. Make tea.
  4. Measure the right amount of pasta.
  5. To get more cereal.
  6. To get more milk.
  7. To fix the Internet.
  8. Anything to do with meat and fire.
  9. When the radio won’t work.
  10. Filling dehumidifiers.
  11. Inside outing shirts, pants and socks.
  12. Changing poopie diapers.
  13. Build Lego sets.
  14. Rebuild Lego sets.
  15. When toilet paper runs out (or is out of arm’s reach).
  16. Cutting food.
  17. Packing and unpacking car.
  18. When car seats become tangled.
  19. To clean up random pukes.
  20. Making fires.
  21. Moving or building furniture.
  22. Putting trucks back together.
  23. Figuring out why a Transformer won’t transform.
  24. Removing melted cheese that sticks out of the grilled cheese.
  25. Getting small children off the top bunk when they can’t climb down the ladder.
  26. Putting on snow pants.
  27. Pointing out the right foot for the right shoe.
  28. Backing up Mom on important decisions.
  29. Signing into anything with a password.
  30. Closing curtains that are really high.
  31. Snow shoveling.
  32. Salt spreading.
  33. Putting wheels back on.
  34. Did I say building Lego sets?
  35. Always there for hugs and support.
  36. Calming down one kid when they are both melting down.
  37. When the apple juice runs out and my juice is still there.
  38. When a laugh is needed.
  39. For book reading.
  40. Just when someone simply wants dad around.

Why do you call dad in your house?

**No moms were harmed in the making of this list.**

The Color Crew Is The Worst Thing On #Netflix

Netflix has revolutionized parenting. I don’t know how we would get through a day without it. For $8/month, there are thousands of cartoons/shows without commercials to keep the kids glued to their seats. In the five years we have had the video streaming service, we have watched a lot of crap (that the kids loved) but the other day I think we found the worst thing on Netflix. The Color Crew.

Let me set the stage before watching this video. A bunch of crayons mumble and dance and add color to things. That’s it. The music is bad, the lack of talking is bad and the only saving grace was there was only one episode to watch. Oh wait, it is on Netflix, so that same episode can be watched over and over again.

Here is a taste.

 

Pretty awful eh? Just to make sure I was not being an anti-cray-ite, I asked other parents and before I could even say Crew, they were going off on how bad it was.

But this post is not to dump on a crappy cartoon. It speaks for itself. The thing I found interesting is if you close your eyes and just listen to it, I found myself remembering this cartoon.

The Itchy and Scratchy Show. Yes to me, they both sounded the same. Thankfully no crayons have their heads cut off.

 

So, have you seen this show? What did you think? Am I way off in voting this the worst thing on Netflix?

What is your vote for worst thing on Netflix?

Video: Meet The Three Pregnant Dads

Have you seen these guys in the UK?

Backache, swollen breasts and the constant urge to pee: Meet the DADS wearing 33-pound ‘empathy bellies’ to experience the pain of being nine months pregnant. These three fathers are wearing two-and-a-half stone baby bumps for a month.

Now I truly believe you can’t fully replicate the true experience a woman has being pregnant, but this would at least shed some light on how uncomfortable it is.

But it is just a suit. I would guess there is much more stress and worry when you know that there is a living person in there and not just weight.

Props to these guys for trying it.

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LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto – Where Everything Is Awesome

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On a recent PA Day, I decided to keep our son Harry home from daycare and go on an adventure. Ever since moving back to Toronto, one of the places we have been meaning to check out was  LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto.

I have heard from other parents all about the good and the bad, but it was time to experience it for ourselves. Harry was all in as soon as I told him the news. In fact, he was more excited than he was for Christmas.

It’s not that we have been avoiding the place, but it always gave Katie and I a small dose of stress because we pictured it as thousands of kids running around crazily with Lego as the backdrop. Not really how we want to spend a few hours, but it is about the kids right?

So with Charlie being at daycare and Katie at work, I figured that Harry and I could take a quick strike approach. We of course think Katie and Charlie would have loved it, but with any busy place, it’s easier to move in small numbers.

Overall, I would have to say it was a lot of fun. Harry was tired when we got home, so that is always a win. I am not sure how many visits it would take before kids are utterly bored with the place, but I guess we will find out.

Here is the good and the bad of our first trip to LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto.

Getting There

Another reason we have put off the trip to LEGOLAND is that it just seemed really far away. It’s located in Vaughn and for those of us who live south of the subway line, that feels like another country. But I have to say, the drive was pretty easy and it took about 25 minutes. There is also the bonus of lots of free parking when you get there.

Pre Booking Times

One of the cool features I liked was you can pre book your entry time. When you buy tickets online ahead of time, not only do you get a discount, you choose when you walk in. No waiting in line and you can easily plan out your day. I learned later that this entry time deal only is needed on super busy days. We were early and went in before our time slot.

Photos Right Off The Bat

Once they tear your ticket and you enter, the first thing you do is pose for some silly Lego photo. It’s one of those capture the moment up sell deals. Everyone gets a few shots that you can buy later on. Harry was annoyed. He just wanted to get into LEGOLAND. Enough with the formalities. We also passed on our silly photos. I have enough of those.

Lego Everywhere

The first room is a great way to start. It’s like a Lego production facility with stats on the walls of how many bricks are being made and it has this whole industry vibe. You can measure your height and weight in Lego bricks and stand next to a few Lego dudes hard at work. There were also a few iPads set up to play some Lego games. This of course grabbed Harry’s attention right away. We could have stayed at this station all day long. The great part was we were there early in the day and it was very empty.

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Interactive Ride

The next part was where you could break off to go and see Lego buildings or take a ride on a fun interactive game. We went for the game. Basically you take a ride in a rollercoaster type vehicle and take a tour through four or five Lego scenarios. Each one has bad guys trying to bad things. There were different settings for each room and featured different Lego franchises. Harry and I each had a laser gun that marked little red dots on the screens and the game was to shoot the bad guys. Each time you blew up a baddie, you tallied points in front of you. I will openly say that Harry beat me. It was a short ride but a lot of fun.

Oh Canada

The next room was where you saw some real Lego talent being put to use. It was basically a room full of Lego miniatures of Toronto and other Canadian landmarks. There was the Parliament Building from Ottawa, the CN Tower, the airport, Dundas Square, The ACC and even Honest Eds. There were buttons for each display that triggered some kind of moving Lego. The pinball Rogers Centre was Harry’s favourite. This part of LEGOLAND for me would only be interesting the first time. I am not sure how often they change it up, but if it is always the same, there is not much to see.

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The Play Room

After following the hallway out of this room, you enter the real draw of LEGOLAND. The giant play area. Lego stations, an indoor playground and a small ride that goes around and around. Harry’s head kind of exploded and he went in nine directions all at once. It was a lot to choose from for sure. In this space was also a movie theatre and cafe. This is where you would come to if you came a lot. There were benches for parents and certainly enough to keep kids busy for a few hours. There were also a few party rooms and a classroom for learning how to build with Lego.

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Master Builder Classes

We happen to walk by one of the classrooms just as a session was starting. We went in and Harry wanted to become a master builder. Sure. It was the day before Valentine’s Day, so the project was building a heart-shaped box. The instructor sits at the front with an overhead camera looking down onto the Lego. She went through the steps just like an instruction book and in the end Harry built his own box. He was very proud of it.

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4D Movies

The movie theatre had a rotation of four 30 minute movies that were included in the price of admission. We went to see one that was about farming with the guys from Chima. What was fun for me was it was Harry’s first time seeing a 3D or 4D movie. Once we got the glasses adjusted properly, I think he liked it for the most part. It was funny to see all the kids waving their hands in front of their face each time something approached. What was new for me was each time there was rain or a puddle being splashed, there was actually a mist from the ceiling that hit you. Harry did not like that. I think a 25 minute movie is the perfect amount of time for kids in that setting. They are too hopped up on Lego and doing stuff to sit still any longer.

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The Cafe

I was expecting it to be worse. Since you can’t leave LEGOLAND or bring in your own food, it was nice that they did not try to take advantage of that. I found the food to be somewhat healthy and priced reasonably. I had a chicken caesar wrap and Harry had a grilled cheese sandwich. They had a decent mix of fruit, snacks and drinks. Again, I was surprised and impressed that it wasn’t chicken fingers and fries.

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Bathrooms

Harry loved that there was a urinal for kids. Enough said. Oh and there were change tables in the men’s washroom. Points for that even though I did not need it.

Gift Shop

Like any kid-centric place, when it is time to leave, you are funneled right into the gift shop. Oh how they get you with that. You just had this fun time playing with Lego and somehow you need to get your kid through the store without seeing something they want. I fell prey to this but not that bad. I got Harry a small Batman Lego thing and Charlie a construction rig. That damage was minimal. I finally convinced Harry to leave the gift shop and LEGOLAND and then you know what. You are in a mall with the Build a Bear store and the Disney Store staring you in the face. Well played mall designers, well played.

Overall Impressions

LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto was a lot of fun. They say the average time spent is around two hours. They were right. With lunch, we were there close to three hours. Harry had a great time. I think he would have had even more fun if his friends had been there. Going places with dad has drawbacks. The place lived up to the hype.

My only wonder is, how many times can you go before it is boring? I also feel that the ideal age for the place is about four. Charlie would not have as much fun as Harry would. Not yet. But when Charlie is in prime age for it, Harry will have certainly outgrown it.

Anyways, those are small things. The most important takeaway was, it was a lot of fun and Lego is awesome. For $20 each, it was worth the trip to Vaughn and to experience a place a lot of kids in Canada would love to have the chance to go to.

Learn more about LEGOLAND Discovery Centre Toronto.

Here is the master builder with his new toy that he put together all on his own.

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10 Essentials To My Day Being Great

Each day is a different beast. Whether it is work, kids, taking transit, shoveling snow or just trying to deal with too many inner thoughts, everyone has their own life-preserver that makes it all better.

The essential things, moments and people who bring us back to our happy place. Life can get pretty chaotic and sometimes miserable, so here are 10 essentials to my day being great.

1. A hot cup of tea. For anyone who knows me, they know that tea is my fuel. Tea is my warm blanket. Tea is what makes me happy. It has been a routine for most of my life. Just putting the kettle on is a shield for me from the big, bad world. There is little that I can’t get through holding my mug in hand. It’s the first thing I drink in the morning, it’s the last thing I drink in the evening. I am practically a commercial for Tetley or Red Rose.

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2. Family smiles. The mornings are crazy. The evenings are tiring. But scattered throughout the journey are smiles. Smiles from my wife and two boys. You can be in the shittiest mood, but a smile will bring you back from the brink. I think Charlie was put on this planet to provide smiles that make everything better. He should become a professional. As parents, the hours go by so fast. But it’s nice to share smiles. They are quiet and convey a message that does not add to the noise of the household. Harry actually reminds me to smile more. That in itself makes me happy.

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3. My phone. Say what you want about becoming reliant on technology, but we have. My Galaxy Note 4 is my command center. Other than writing blog posts, I hardly sit at my computer anymore. My phone is my mobile connection to the world. It is what I read books on, play games on and take pictures with. It tells me the weather and helps me relax with jazz. It’s hard to remember a time when I did not have everything I need on my person at all times.

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4. 30 minutes of TV. Now that is around the minimum of what I feel I need to relax. There is usually more, but I am talking about time by yourself to just watch whatever and turn the brain off. For me, this reboot time is just after the kids go to bed. I will watch some 25 minute show, whether it is about food, sports of home DIY. It is simply for rebooting the brain after surviving another day. Then I am ready to digest whatever is next. In the week, it is more TV with Katie. I think we all need a 25-30 minute reboot to refresh and start again. A TV show is what does it for me.

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5. A tidy space. I am not talking eat off the floor clean, I just mean in order. It’s hard for me to complete a task in a room that is messy. It can be as simple as picking Lego off the floor, but I need to do it. My mind can’t focus or relax with a mess right next to me. I don’t need to clean the house before I move on, just the direct surroundings. Same for the kitchen. Clutter and mess are not the best for having fun cooking dinner. Same for working. A desk that is covered in stuff, just distracts me.

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6. A walk. Walking is a great way to change the narrative in your day. It can be 10 minutes or an hour. For me it gets me going, gets the brain going and breaks up any lazy routine I am probably falling into. I walk the kids to and from school every day and even that 20 minutes sparks my thoughts again. I like seeing even the smallest changes in the neighbourhood and breathing in fresh air. Some days, I go a little over board and walk for hours. Thanks to my phone, I even have gotten caught up in tracking it.

A photo posted by Like A Dad (@likeadad) on

7. Emails. I love emails. I hate talking on the phone. I am not that big of a texter. Katie and I have been exchanging dozens of emails a day for 10 years. It’s how we communicate and shed stuff from our brains. It is how we keep in touch and stick together as a team. If for whatever reason one of us can’t email for a few hours, it gets a little lonely wondering what each of us are up to. I can live without Facebook, Twitter and all that noise, but email, I am 100% certain it is an essential to my day.

8. Quiet. I love quiet. I love hearing nothing but the sounds of the outside world leaking in through the windows. I am also lucky enough that for the most part I get to control my level of quiet. At home or when working, I am always in a place that is pretty low-key. A lot of busy noise stresses me out. Sounds I can’t really control can also bother me as well. But that is probably the case for many of you. Quiet is a recharge for me. After a few hours of being out in Toronto, on the TTC or at a mall, I need to go home and plug into some quiet.

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 9. Pillows. Pillows play a big part in my day. More importantly a pillow can also make my day rough. I like to find that sweet spot for my bed pillow or couch pillow. You know that spot. You just feel so comfortable. Funny enough, every now and then, I lose that spot. Pillow cases get washed, pillows get moved and you lose that comfort zone. It makes for bad sleeps and uncomfortable TV watching. I hate moving pillows. I guess I just fear I will lose that sweet spot and never find it again. Very silly I know, but this is my list, not yours.

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 10. Hugs. See 2. Family Smiles. I grew up in a family where hugs did the trick. We were not super huggers. We did not grab on to anyone. But those who hugged, did it right. I know Katie has always been a fan of my big hugs. I also think I have passed on the hugging gene to the boys. They love hugs. In fact they are very much super huggers. They have little filtering on who gets hugs. It’s great. Hugs are something everyone needs every day. I wish it were true that everyone did get hugs.

The best. #brothers #toronto #beaches #summer #hugs A photo posted by Like A Dad (@likeadad) on

See, I don’t need much to have a great day. I don’t need much to bounce back from a shitty day. There is certainly a theme to my 10 essentials. For the most part, they are the things that help me feel protected from the cold, outside world of problems and annoyances. They all are in some way keeping me attached to who I am and who my family is. I am not going to say I will fall apart without each of these 10 things each day, but I will certainly be much more grumpy and less me-like. And who wants that?

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