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NWI Parent
NWI Parent

Rick Kaempfer's business card says author/writer/blogger, but his real job is "stay-at-home-dad."

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Caretaker Report Card

May 6th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then, the caretaker becomes the caretakee. That’s what happened this week at my house. I was hit with a nasty flu which turned into a debilitating sinus infection and was down for the count. There were days I could barely get out of bed.

But when you’re the caretaker, and you’ve got three kids that rely on you, it’s not like you can take the day off (or in this case, the whole week off). So, you force yourself to do what you can, and you ask everyone to pitch in a little bit.

Some of them rose to the challenge, and some did not. Since I’m finally completely healthy again today, I’m handing out their caretaker report cards.

JOHNNY
My middle son Johnny was born with a well developed empathy gene. He ran errands for me, asked what he could do to help, and volunteered to walk home from school every day so that I didn’t have to pick him up (it’s about a mile or so). He even arranged for alternate transportation to orchestra. The youngster was a model of good behavior. I don’t even think he started a fight this week.
GRADE: A

SEAN
My youngest son Sean had his moments. He walked to school by himself every morning (it’s only a few blocks), and he made his own breakfast every day, but he also kept asking me things like “Dad, c’mon we need to play catch” and “Dad, can you come out and kick the ball around”. Um, no. I can’t even walk to the door.
GRADE: B

BRIDGET
In normal situations, my wife Bridget is a great caretaker. But this was a very bad week for her at work. The earliest she got home at night was 8:30, which meant that I had no help getting the boys to and from soccer or baseball practice, and I still had to make dinner every night. Not her fault, I realize, but there were days I was literally sleeping in the car during practice hoping to get enough energy to be able to drive home. She did step up in the mornings, however, and got the two older boys ready for school.
GRADE: B-

TOMMY
I don’t think my oldest son even noticed.
GRADE: C

IVY
I always assumed that animals could sense when someone was sick or needed help. I’ve read stories about dogs that dialed 9-1-1, or dogs that dragged their owners to safety. Not my dog. My dog whined that I wasn’t taking her for a walk. She whined at the back door. Let me out. Let me in. Let me out. Let me in. She stuck her nose in my face while I was trying to sleep on the couch. One night I had such a bad coughing fit that she actually barked at me, and it wasn’t a “I’m concerned” bark, it was more of a “Hey, knock it off already, I’m trying to sleep here” bark. Pardon me, princess.
GRADE: F

All things considered, we made it through the week pretty well. One of the boys even remarked that he didn’t realize how many things I did for them until I was unable to do some of them.

That was the nicest thing I’ve heard in a very long time.

Filed under: parent.

A First Time for Everything

April 29th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

I was pouring myself a cup of coffee, when my son Tommy (age 16) came into the kitchen. “Dad,” he said, “I’m going to the library. Is that OK?”

“Sure, no problem.”

“You want to come along?” he asked.

I looked at him to make sure he was feeling OK. “You want me to go along?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said. “I need your advice.”

Did you read that last sentence? Please give me a moment while I read it again.

Wow. I like the way that looks on the page, but it sounded even better in real life.

“You want my advice?” I asked, just to make sure I wasn’t hearing things.

“Yeah,” he said. “I’ve got a taste for the Who and Led Zeppelin, and the library has all of their stuff. I want your advice about what their best songs are.”

“The Who and Led Zeppelin?” I asked. “I love those guys.”

“I know,” he said. “I do too. Can you help me out?”

Even though I had lots of things to do that day, I dropped them all to go to the library with my oldest son. I’m so glad I did. We perused the library’s CD collection, trying to decide which Who (”Dad, what about this one with Kenny Jones?” “Put that down, boy, we’re sticking with Keith Moon”) and Led Zeppelin songs (”Hey Dad, this one has ‘Heartbreaker/Livin’ Lovin’ Maid” “Now, you’re catching on, kid.”) to bring home with us.

As we were heading down to the checkout with a pile of classic CDs, we passed the movies section.

“Hey Dad,” Tommy said, holding up a DVD. “Look, it’s ‘Blazing Saddles’.”

“Throw it on the pile,” I responded. “We’re watching that one tonight.”

And we did. Tommy loved it. He didn’t quite get a few of the cowboy references, because I don’t think he’s seen a Western in his life, but there were some universally funny scenes for people of our emotional age (Tommy and I are both 16), that made him laugh hysterically.

I didn’t want that day/night to end.

The last few years, during the really rough age 13-15 years, I was worried that he would never come back to me. He had such disdain, such animosity, such a chip on his shoulder about me and everything I stood for, that there didn’t seem to be any hope. Don’t get me wrong, we still have plenty of moments like that, particularly when we discuss his grades, but I can’t tell you how much it meant to me to finally see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Even if it was just for one day.

Filed under: parent.

A Knucklehead’s Lament

April 22nd, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

Sean and I were playing cards in the living room. The radio was on in the background and a song came on that I hadn’t heard in a long time. That’s when I said the words that can never be unsaid.

“I haven’t heard this in a long time. My old girlfriend used to consider this ‘our song’”

“WHAT?!” came the voice from around the corner. It was my wife Bridget.

I slapped my forehead. I didn’t realize she was within hearing distance. She poked her head around the corner.

“This song reminds you of her?” she said.

“It was thirty years ago,” I pointed out.

“I always loved this song,” Bridget said. “Now it’s ruined forever.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

She smiled when I said that, as if she realized that these were just moments in history before we even met each other, as if it merely amused her, because she had been the winner in the Rick sweepstakes. After all, I married her, and dedicated my life to her, and raised a family with her.

“What was your song with your other ex-girlfriends?” she asked. It really sounded like she was merely curious.

“Dad, it’s your turn to deal,” Sean said.

“I’m playing cards with the boy, here,” I said.

“It’s OK,” she said, still smiling. “You can tell me.”

“What about you?” I asked. “Didn’t you have any songs with your old boyfriends?”

“No,” she said. The smile was slowly fading. She repeated the question. “What songs did you have with your other girlfriends?”

I know what you’re thinking here. You’re thinking that I should have said I didn’t have any other songs. That would have been the smart thing to do. But it’s not what I did. I actually told her the name of another song from another girlfriend.

“Good,” she said. “I don’t know that one.”

“I know that one,” Tommy said from the dining room. “It’s on Dad’s iPod.”

Thanks a lot, son.

“Play it,” Bridget said to Tommy, pointing at the iPod dock next to him in the dining room. Tommy did as he was told, and soon the opening notes of the song were playing.

“Oh no,” she said. “I like that one too.”

“It was thirty years ago,” I repeated. “These songs don’t mean anything at all to me now.”

“I know,” she said. And if you were there, you might have even believed her when she said it. It was a very convincing performance.

This happened a week or two ago, and since then, both of those songs have come on the radio while we were listening together. Each time she looked at me, and sadly shook her head.

We’ve been married for more than twenty years, and she knows that I’m devoted to her, and that there is no reason in the world to be jealous. She’s not jealous. Not really.

But I can also tell that those songs really are ruined forever.

And for that, I feel like a complete knucklehead.

Filed under: parent.

Most Ridiculous Argument Ever

April 15th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

The boys have recently fallen back into that arguing/fighting every five seconds mode, and it’s been driving me crazy. However, this past week, they took it to another level. This is a transcription of the moment I knew we’d gone off the deep end…

Sean: Dad, is “meaner” a word?

Dad: Meaner? You mean like Tommy is meaner than Johnny? As in, he’s nastier?

Sean: Yeah.

Tommy: (From upstairs) HEY!

Within a second or two, Tommy was at the base of the stairs, angry expression on his face.

Sean: Tommy’s right, Dad. He’s not meaner than Johnny.

Dad: I didn’t say that he was. I was just using the word in a sentence to understand your question.

Sean: I know, but Johnny is way meaner than Tommy.

Johnny: (from his room around the corner) HEY!

Johnny came charging into the room to confront his accuser face to face.

Johnny: Did you say I was meaner than Tommy you little twerp?

Sean: You are. Waaaaaay meaner.

Johnny: Why you little…

Johnny raised his fist in the air, before realizing that I was sitting right there watching.

Johnny: Permission to punch Sean in the face.

Dad: Permission denied.

Johnny: But he said I was meaner than Tommy!

Dad: So you want to punch him to prove that you’re not meaner?

Johnny: Yes.

Honestly, sometimes I feel like I’m living in a Three Stooges movie.

Filed under: parent.

Happy Easter!

April 8th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

Hope that everyone has a wonderful Easter.

Father Knows Nothing will return next week.

Filed under: parent.

Mark Twained

April 1st, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

This spring break I had a mission in mind for my youngest son Sean (age 9). I was appalled by his lack of historical knowledge and lack of interest in learning about it, so my plan was to show him a bunch of movies about history over the break. I figured it was a low-stress, sneaky way to secretly teach him history.

I started with a softball, a classic of American literature, “Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain. My idea was to give him a slice of life from the 19th century, while opening the discussion of what was going on in history in the years immediately preceding and following that. At the very least, I figured, he would see a classic American tale written by one of America’s greatest writers.

The version of the movie I chose was the Disney-fied version from the 1970s. I vaguely remembered seeing it when I was a kid, and in my memory it was a wholesome family film.

Unfortunately, there were a few problems with my plan. In the first place, the version I chose was a musical. I didn’t remember that. (And the music was terrible). I found myself fast-forwarding through the musical numbers so that Sean didn’t walk out of the room.

Secondly, and most importantly, I didn’t remember that this was a terrifying story.

Tom Sawyer and Huck actually witness a murder; a knifing of the town doctor. In one scene that Sean will never forget, Tom (played by Jody from “Family Affair”) stands up for the falsely accused town drunk (played by Sgt. Hulka from “Stripes”), and testifies in court that the drunk didn’t do it. Tom says “I saw Injun Joe kill Doc with a knife!”

Instead of screaming out Perry Mason style “That’s a lie”, Injun Joe stands up and throws a knife at Tom. The knife sticks into the wooden chair behind him–only inches from Tom’s face.

Sean screamed and ran out of the room, vowing never to return. I finally coaxed him back, but when he started watching again, Tom and Becky were being chased through a cave by the knife wielding Injun Joe who was screaming “I’m going to kill you Tom Sawyer!”

Sean screamed and ran out of the room again, never to return.

That night he was too terrified to sleep in his room. For the first time in his life, he asked if he could sleep in our bed with us. The next night he asked me to release our pit bull Ivy (we usually crate her at night), just in case a robber came into the house. The third night he wasn’t satisfied with that, and insisted I sleep on the couch just a few feet away from his room.

Needless to say, we didn’t have the in-depth discussion about American history that I had planned. Instead we had an in-depth discussion of how difficult it would be to break into our house and kill us while we were sleeping. I showed him the locks on the windows, and the double-paned glass. I showed him that all the doors were locked and made of heavy duty wood. I reminded him that our dog was super protective and wouldn’t let anyone hurt us. And I vowed that I would take the bullet if anyone tried to shoot him.

Happy spring break, eh?

Thanks a lot, Mark Twain.

Filed under: parent.

Just Doin’ My Job, Ma’am

March 25th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

I’ve never actually heard anyone say this out loud, but I’m pretty sure that people think of me as the strong, silent type; the kind of man that doesn’t need to be told what to do in a moment of crisis, he just does it.

It happened again this week. When we went out on our deck on Thursday morning, we smelled the unmistakable odor of a dead animal carcass. It appeared to be coming from underneath our deck.

“What should we do?” my wife asked.

I patted her on the head, and told her not to worry. “Your man will take care of this,” I said.

She batted her eyes and held her heart with her hands. She didn’t need to say a word. I could see the comfort and admiration in her eyes.

I called the boys into a huddle.

“Fellas,” I said. “Battle stations. Tommy, get the stabilizing rod from my tool bench. Johnny, heavy duty garbage bag. Sean, you’re going to be my eyes during the recon. Check?”

“Check,” they all replied.

I held onto Sean’s leg as he scooted under the deck. “It’s a dead possum, dad,” he confirmed.

“Just as I suspected. Come back up here, boy, it’s time for man’s work.”

I held my hand out and Tommy placed the stabilizing rod in my hand. He nodded knowingly. Johnny stood by with the garbage bag.

“I’m going in,” I said. I got down on my belly and extended the rod underneath the deck until the hooks at the end of rod made contact with the rotting flesh. The odor would have made a lesser man vomit or gag, but I was in the zone. I clamped onto that critter and pulled it out in one quick motion. Chunks of fur scattered–the decomposition had begun–but I was not deterred. Within moments the object of our olfactory disdain was in plain sight.

“Back up boys,” I said as it emerged into the warm spring sun.

The boys averted their eyes. I did not. The work gloves covering my calloused workman hands reached down and picked up the Possum by the nasty tail.

“Open the bag, Johnny,” I said.

He turned away and opened the bag, and with a simple plop, the possum was in its heavy duty plastic coffin. Another problem effortlessly taken care of by the man of the house.

When Bridget came back outside, she was in awe of my courage. I stopped her before the praise got too embarrassing.

“I was just doin’ my job, ma’am,” I said. The quiet hero would rather take a bullet than another compliment from another admiring female fan. “This is no different than when we hear a strange sound in the middle of the night and I grab the baseball bat, or when someone needs to climb on the roof to fix an electrical short, there are just times when a man knows what needs to be done, and he just does it.”

“My hero,” she said, her eyelashes fluttering.

And that’s exactly how it went down.

At least that’s how I remember it. It was several days ago now.

I might have also asked my facebook friends to recommend an animal removal service, and I may have paid the first one I found to get rid of the possum for us so that I didn’t have to touch the icky, smelly, nasty puffball of stink myself.

I can’t remember which.

Filed under: parent.

Another Middle-Aged Road Trip

March 18th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

My buddies Dave and Dane and I returned from Arizona after midnight last night. We went down to spring training together to check out the Cubs and the Sox, and as you might imagine, not everything went exactly as planned.

*On the day we boarded the plane for Phoenix, the temperature in Phoenix was 81 degrees. The temperature in Chicago was 79. Why were leaving this tropical paradise in the first place?

*At the rental car counter, Dane was filling out the paperwork when the clerk said, “Do you want to add another driver? The only requirement is that they are 25 or older.” When stone-faced Dave replied: “I’m 23,” a clerk on the other side of the counter laughed so hard he had to hold his stomach.

*We had tickets for the Angels-White Sox game that afternoon, but Dave insisted we buy some sunscreen before the game. He bought three 20 oz. bottles of 30 SPF. Three bottles. For three guys spending three days in Arizona.

*I don’t want to say that the White Sox season is doomed, but the day we were there, they even screwed up the National Anthem. The microphone didn’t work, and the singer just stood there.

*That first night, after a long flight and sitting in the hot sun all day, we went out partying. I kid you not, at 8:05pm, we looked at each other and said: “Let’s get some sleep.”

*We went to the Cubs minor league facility the next morning and had a great time there. We watched the Cubs prospects go through their drills, but the one guy that excited us the most was the hitting coach. We almost didn’t recognize him without the mustache. The little guy wearing #22 was none other than Bill Buckner.

*Since we were in the neighborhood of Ho Ho Kam, the Cubs spring training stadium, we swung by to pick up some tickets for that days afternoon game versus the Diamondbacks. The parking attendant was suspicious we were trying to bogart a parking space, so he barked: “Get your tickets and get out!” Apparently this is not the Western version of the Friendly Confines.

*We insisted on getting tickets in the shade. Despite having sixty ounces of sunscreen, we weren’t in the mood to roast again. The Cubs pitchers were roasted instead–giving up twelve runs.

*I was pleasantly surprised to run into Cubs Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins (one of my childhood heroes) in the centerfield concourse. He autographed a baseball for me…and charged me $40.

*We went out for drinks that night. At the first bar we met a very loud woman who had moved out to Arizona from Muenster. Within two minutes of meeting us, she actually said this: “If someone gave me the choice of moving back to the Chicago area or blowing my brains out with a gun, I’d say, hand over that six shooter, pal.”

*The second bar we went to was called “The Pink Pony”. Within three minutes of sitting at the bar, a little guy came up to us and started speaking incoherently about space, tea machines, and Germans. Then he stuck out his hand to introduce himself: “I’m the little brown man”. We pretended to get an urgent call so we could escape.

*The next morning at breakfast I mentioned that I wasn’t a fan of the full-length mirrors they had in the hotel bathrooms–not a pretty sight when you step out of the shower in the morning. Dave said: “I know what you mean. If I ever get a radio show, my new DJ name will be Pasty McFatty.”

*Dane knew a reformed mobster who lived in the area, so we had coffee with him. He told us a mob term that none of us had ever heard before. He referred to someone as a: “Sh**-in-the-pants”. I no longer wonder what my mob nickname would have been.

*We drove up to Sedona to see the incredible scenery. It really was breathtaking. When we stopped into a gift shop to pick up some gifts for our kids, the guy behind the counter lifted up his shirt to show us he was packing heat. “If any illegals or gangstas come in here, they’ll be messin’ with the wrong guy.” We left town almost immediately after that.

*We had dinner at the famous Don & Charlie’s restaurant in Scottsdale. In the lobby: one of the greatest baseball players in history, Willie Mays. For a reasonable (cough) $200, Dave got his autograph. By the way, Willie was there for several hours and didn’t smile or say a word. I can’t be positive it wasn’t a robotic Willie.

*That night we went out for drinks on the ASU campus. We stopped a college student on the street and asked for advice about where to go. He said: “I usually tell my dad to go that bar over there.”

*At a local ASU brewpub we ran into another celebrity: the team dentist for the Milwaukee Brewers. Dave asked him the question about Milwaukee Brewer outfielder Ryan Braun that anyone would have asked under the circumstances: “How are his bicuspids?”

*Don’t bother asking Dave for any of that excess sunscreen. They wouldn’t let him take the leftovers on the plane because it was more than three ounces. He was just 56 ounces over the limit.

We got back into town last night after midnight.

If you need to reach any of us today, we’ll be resting. With each successive middle aged road trip, it takes longer and longer to recover.

We’re not getting any younger, you know. Even our good buddy Pasty McFatty.

Filed under: parent.

Happy birthday Johnny!

March 11th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

Tomorrow is the 14th birthday of the little baby boy in the picture. My middle son Johnny is in 8th grade now. His major growth spurt hasn’t happened yet, but he is very proud of his early onset facial hair (nice mustache!). He likes drawing, art, and video games. His favorite movie is “Spaceballs” by Mel Brooks. He likes listening to his iPod which is chock full of the Beatles, Bryan Adams, AC/DC, Green Day, and Air. He has a horse-shoe like ability to make the Cubs win dramatic games he attends (he’s available, Cubs, if you want to hire him to attend all of your games). And he has a sensitive soul, full of empathy for everyone except his little brother.

I hope you’ll indulge me again. I do this every year on this blog. The following is the story of Johnny’s birth on March 12, 1998…

The headline on the Chicago Sun Times front page: “Cicero deal halts Rally by Klan”
The headline on the Chicago Tribune front page: “Clinton plans to join Ulster peace talks”
The headline on the Daily Herald front page: “Clinton refuses to say whether he will testify to grand jury”
The headline on the New York Times front page: “The World of Paula Jones”

But the biggest story was happening in the suburbs, and only one reporter was on hand to break the story….Me. I called into the John Landecker show that morning to report the news flash. The cast of characters included John Landecker, sidekick Catherine Johns, and newsman Richard Cantu.

The following is a transcript of that important phone call.

John: Oldies 104.3, John Records Landecker, it’s 8:27, and joining us on the phone from the maternity ward is the producer of the program, Rick the German Boy Kaempfer. Good morning, Rick.

Rick: Good morning.

John: Rick, tell us what’s going on.

Rick: Well as long as we’re plugging our kids (John had just plugged his daughter’s play), I’ve got a new one to plug.

John: Aaaawwwwright!

Rick: Last night around eleven thirty Bridget’s water broke and we didn’t even have time to make it to the hospital downtown, so we went to the one out here.

Catherine: Oh, is that right?

Rick: And we have a new baby boy!

(Cheering and clapping in the studio)

Richard: Whoo Hooo! Congratulations. Two knucklehead boys!

Rick: And it’s a big one too.

Catherine: How big?

Rick: 8 pounds, 6 ounces.

Catherine: That is pretty big. How’s Bridget doing?

Rick: She’s doing real well. I’m at home now. I came home to check on Tommy…

John: Wait a doggone minute! You went home to check on your other child before you called the show? Where are your priorities?

Rick: Sorry, forgive me. I’m hopelessly out of whack.

John: OK, 8 pounds. How long was it?

Rick: 21 inches…if you know what I’m saying.

Catherine: We know what you’re saying.

John: No, how long was the baby?

Rick: Oh, the baby?

Richard: Once more into the gutter.

John: So what time was this kid born?

Rick: Two o’clock in the morning. They kicked me out of the hospital at 4:00, because Bridget has to share a room, and I came home and got a little sleep, and Tommy just woke me up, so I’m calling you right away.

John: So you’ve called all your family I hope.

Rick: Bridget called them.

John: But she had the baby.

Rick: Yeah, she had the baby in about two hours. It wasn’t that bad, although that’s easy for me to say. She was fine, what a trooper.

Catherine: And she wanted to chat, right?

Rick: Exactly.

Catherine: Now I want to know something. Does this child have a name?

Rick: Oh yes he does. His name is John Richard Kaempfer.

John: Wow.

Richard: You honor us, Sir.

John: Was he named after anyone?

Rick: Well, my favorite Beatle is John.

John: John Lennon.

Rick: And of course, my favorite DJ….

John: Really?

Rick: Yup. John Brandmeier.

(Everyone laughs)

John: OK, you got me.

(Call waiting clicks)

Rick: And actually John is also a name in Bridget’s family. Her grandfather was named John. And so is her brother.

(Call waiting clicks again)

John: I see you got baby waiting there.

Rick: Yeah, I think I may be popular today.

John: Well, we’ll let you go. Congratulations on the big news! So you’ll be back to work tomorrow, right?

Rick: Uh…well…

Catherine: John!

John: Just kidding, just kidding.

Rick: See you later.

John: There he goes. Proud papa.

(Click)

John: Oh wait! Darnit! I forgot to ask him if he taped it.

Richard: Are you kidding? Of course he did.

John: Because if there was ever a disc jockey who knows how to exploit a child, it’s….

2 year old Tommy Kaempfer singing the jingle: John Records Landecker, Oldies 104.3.

Of course, I did tape it, by the way. It aired the next day. Friday the 13th.

14 years ago.

Happy birthday Johnny!

Filed under: parent.

Mother & Father of the Year?

March 4th, 2012 - By Rick Kaempfer

I got this press release in my e-mail box this morning…

34th Annual Outstanding Mother Awards
2012 honorees to date include:

Nina Garcia, Fashion Director of Marie Claire and Project Runway Judge
Karen Hoguet, Chief Financial Officer of Macy’s, Inc.
Gayle King, Co-host of “CBS This Morning”; Editor-at-Large, O, The Oprah Magazine
Lisa Price, Founder of Carol’s Daughter

71st Annual Father of the Year Awards
2012 honorees to date include:

Oscar Feldenkreis, President & Chief Operating Officer of Perry Ellis International Inc.
Reynold Levy, President of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Shaquille O’Neal, TNT Commentator, four-time NBA Championship winner and three-time Finals MVP

These awards have bothered me for about twenty years now; ever since I first heard about them. I love the concept, and applaud the charity work this organization does, but I consider the awards themselves to be inherently flawed.

My reasoning is simple: there’s a good chance that the real mother and father of the year are people none of us have ever heard of, and the people that are honored every year are famous for their accomplishments in the workplace.

I’ve got nothing against any of these honorees. I’m sure they do their very best to be good parents, and more than likely are good parents during the time they have with their children. But their time with their kids has to be extremely limited. There’s no way around that. Each of them have time-consuming jobs.

Of the women listed, two of them have two full-time jobs. Another one is a CFO, and the fourth runs a charitable organization. Two of the men are also CEO/Presidents and the third is a professional basketball player that is on the road six months every year.

I realize that no-one would attend a banquet honoring no-names, and these banquets are first and foremost a fundraising opportunity for the organizers of the events, but the reason I think the actual mother and father of the year aren’t well known is because they give their children something that this distinguished list can’t give them. They give them their time.

Again, I’m not besmirching the honorees. They didn’t ask for this recognition. I’m sure they are all good people who do their best. But I suspect if you asked any of them if they are deserving of the award, they would all say no. Every successful person I know feels constant guilt that they can’t spend more time with their children.

I feel uncomfortable even bringing this up, because it sounds like I’m endorsing one type of parenting over another, or that I’m saying that working parents can’t be good parents. I’m not saying that all. Nearly all of the working parents I know are actually excellent parents, and I can’t believe they do it as well as they do.

I’m just saying that in order to achieve greatness in the workplace (which all of the nominees clearly have), you have to be driven, and you have to spend a lot of time and effort doing it. Doesn’t it figure that the same sort of time and effort is necessary to achieve greatness as a parent?

This is where the “24 hours in a day” clock gets in the way.

Nobody is a superhero, capable of greatness in both areas. I just don’t believe it’s possible.

I’d love to see some names on this list that I’ve never heard of. The mom or dad that can always be counted on to volunteer and help, and brings his or her kids along to see what kind of commitment is necessary to be a good citizen. The mom that runs the house where all the kids congregate after school for a safe and happy play environment. The mom or dad that raises multiple children under less than ideal financial circumstances, or in difficult neighborhoods, but still manages to guide them to a better life.

It’s not sexy, and it won’t draw the kind of attention or raise the kind of money that this current event raises, but to me, those are the real mothers and fathers of the year.*

*And obviously I’m not talking about myself here–I don’t call this column “Father Knows Nothing” for no reason.

Filed under: parent.

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Father Knows Nothing

Rick Kaempfer's business card says author/writer/blogger, but his real job is "stay-at-home-dad."

Laptops to Countertops

Photographer and writer mom of two, Beth always brings a new twist to the suburban mundane.

Party of Two

Join newly married Julia, former single mom, as she and her daughter transition into the nuclear-family life.

Oh, the Places We Will Go

Experiencing the South Shore one little moment at a time