Tough Love? Parenting Turmoil

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20131225_123802The most difficult role I play is that of parent.

I must blend my personality, temperament, live story and professional training as a counselor into one role: dad. Ain’t easy.

This morning, my son and I were on the way to a local church that serves as the home base for his boy scouting troop. He’s in eighth grade and hold leadership roles with the troop. Yesterday, I gave him instructions that he was to pack for himself and stage his gear while my wife and I attended a high school football game at which my daughter was cheering.

I confirmed that he had a scout packing list for this camp out. I told him where the tent was and stated that if he had ANY QUESTIONS he should ask me. Just before my wife and I headed to the field, I told him that his gear must be staged by the fireplace by the time his mother and I returned from the game.

Nothing like parenting/teaching responsibility. I find that if I communicate what is expected clearly I feel better when I get pissed that he didn’t follow instructions. If I set the target out, walk him to it and then allow him to hit it, at least I am not holding him accountable for something of which he didn’t even know he was accountable. Parents, bosses, spouses who hold others accountable for “imaginary” or “assumed” targets are just bullies and people full of emotive and cognitive issues. At least in my book.

Upon return from the game, my son had hit the target. Or so I thought.

The next morning, early, not more than 1/2 a block from the house, I inquired, “Do you have a hoodie and rain gear?”

My son replied, “I think so.” Pregnant pause. “I think I packed it.”

“You THINK or you KNOW”, my voice becoming tense and my blood starting to curdle.

No response. Just worry. My son’s mind screaming internally in some sick soliloquy, “I am in trouble!”

I start to turn the truck around and “lecture” my son on being responsible by taking ownership of his packing job.

“No one will want to work with you if you are vague about whether or not you have accomplished a task”, my annoyance is rising. “Come on man, just own up to the fact that you forgot to pack these items.”

I am frustrated with his lack of responsibility and when asked about his packing job that he did not step up and own the moment.

“Dude, I forget stuff all of the time. I own that. Then I solve it and move on. What would have happened today if it rained and you didn’t have your gear? Or tonight when it is colder and you don’t have your coat.?”

Silence from the passenger side.

The tough part to the parenting role is teaching and encouraging when you are frustrated with a repeated actions of which your child appears to be stuck with.

I’m a dad to my son not a counselor. So, I allow my emotions to be more present at the surface of our little “chats”, which makes my tone a touch more stern and my lessons a bit more poignant than they would be if I were his counselor. As his parent, I want to focus on the behavior that is most critical: take responsibilities for mistakes, learning from them and then moving on.

How I Love My 7 Deadly Sins

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20140511_151532I have seven deadly sins. I do. Darn proud of them too.

I worked hard to attain these sins and I work even harder to make sure that they stay firmly rooted in my life.

I need these seven deadly sins. Without these seven sins…I would be dead.

On the inside at least.

These seven deadly sins help me cope with and heal from the bullshit of life.

Sin 1: Sports. I love sports. I am a fanatic about hockey, NASCAR and bull riding. Yep. I love violent and cathartic sports. Love ‘em. These sports are the epitome of orchestrated chaos. Constant moment with the opportunity for disaster or triumph at any given moment. Sports offer me a release from the daily stressors of life. I live vicariously through those who risk life and limb to feel alive, and make a shit load of ca$h. If I only had the balls and skill to engage in these sports. Perhaps one day.

Sin 2: Sex. I love physical contact. I am a hugger. Virtual or reality sexual connectivity and hedonistic activities are awesome. Morals and values aside…sex is a wonderful distraction and anxiety reducer for me. Nothing better than a long afternoon with my hot and sexy wife.

Sin 3: Food and Drink. Nothing like a great meal with fine drinks to make a day worth remembering. The Last Supper for example.  Food and drink are mile markers of life’s biggest events. The wedding feast. Your funeral banquet, wait you are not there for that one. When mixed with people, food and drink are a great way to slow down and enjoy the simple things in life.

Sin 4:  Outdoor Adventures. Camping, along the shoreline of a lake, with jagged mountains as a distant backdrop painted with the glow of a full moon, a crackling fire in the pit, a gradient orange, red and yellow sunset announces humidity’s exit as the coolness of a summer night takes over. Stars begin to appear like high schoolers at prom. Shit. Is there anything better as you relive your day of horseback riding down dry river beds?

Sin 5: Boyz Toy: How I long to once again fly a Piper, sail a boat and drive a race car. I once made money and had the toys to prove it. Soon, my hard work will pay dividends that once again afford me the luxury of toys. Not to demonstrate that I have a large dick, sin 2 does that…rather that I have the freedom to travel, quickly, when and where I so desire. Freedom is addictive.

Sin 6: TV & Movies. When I have down time, any time at all, I watch Netflix. I love movies. I love TV. I love stories that drive deep emotive reactions resonating from the very darkest part of my soul. On the toilet, at the bus depot, airport, in bed, in the backyard with a cooler of drinks, I watch characters develop and stories unfold that inspire me to keep my head out of my ass and my ass off of the couch so that I live to the fullest.

Sin 7: Tech. I love gadgets especially if they make my life easier. When I get points for yogurt purchases, can purchase hockey tickets as I have good food and drink at Buffalo Wild Wings, check my email when pooping, text via voice as I sit in traffic and manage my life electronically…way cool.

My seven sins bring joy, love and stress reduction into my life. They are only deadly when I allow them to dominate my life. When balanced, all of my sins add joy to my life.

Posted by a Frequent Flyer to Hell and Back using his Phone. Cool!

Why We All Love Hook-Ups

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20140217_084228When it comes to improving the quality of one’s life, one must only get one’s head out of one’s ass and then get one’s ass off of one’s couch. Simple.

For those who have completed the first half of the assignment, meaning your cranium-rectum extraction is complete (remember to wash your hair and face before your go out of the house), it is now time to move on to the next phase of your self-improvement project. Oh goodie. More work. Hey, self-improvement and healing are not easy. It’s work. So quit your bitching.

Getting out and living life is much harder than it sounds and even appears to be. Making friends, getting a job, volunteering, finally attending a church service, going on that date…with your neighbor’s seldom seen brother who has just been released from the “hospital” after failing out of Illinois State University, joining that bowling league and so on is not easy.

If making connections to people, places and things in your life was easy, you would be happy by now and not wasting your time reading this fodder of satire and behavioral health.

At the end of the day, the manner in which we get our needs met, express our thoughts and emotions and taste, feel and experience the fullness and richness of life is through the interactions we have with the connections that hold our life together.

We connect to people: friends, lovers, spouse, the “other woman” or that “someone new”, siblings, parents and so on.

We connect to places: work, school, Buffalo Wild Wings, church, home and so on.

We connect to things: the park, our cell phone/tablet, car, fishing hole, Chicago Blackhawks and so on.

Through a dynamic and bi-directional interactions (wow fancy psycho-babble talk) we get our needs for love and belonging, power, fun, autonomy, and survival met. When my son and I go to Buffalo Wild Wings and meet my dad for NCAA March Madness, we have fun, the freedom to miss school and work and express our love for wings, oh, and sports, oh,yeah, and of course family members.

When we engage people, places and things, not only are our needs met, we express our emotions and thoughts. When at church, balling to a worship song because you are asking God to relive the pain you feel because your wife is leaving you for that looser of an ex she had in school while a hot and sexy woman accidentally bumps into you with her bible bag and you glance at each other with immediate fireworks, you are connecting to people (the hot bible pusher) and God (is God a person? Thing?). You are connecting with things: your pain, hatred for your slut wife, bibles and prayer. You are also connecting to a place: church.

So many of life’s wonders and adventures have meaning and add significance to our lives because of the people, places and things combinations that are the essence and heart of our experiences, the stories that become the movie of our life.

Connections to people, places and things, usher in the Shit Storms of Life that wreck havoc and destroy, tear our soul and make us stronger. Connections are also at the center of the healing process of which we must engage in order to put our lives back together and move away from the epi-centers that are the worse fucking days of our lives.

Connections trigger happiness, fear and sadness. Connections are the knots that tie the threads that create the tapestry that is our life. Embrace them. Build them. Repair them. And when needed, replace them.

Church of Baseball

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20140910_184504Yesterday, I attended my second, the last all the way back in 1993, Midwest League Championship Game.

The Midwest League is an ‘A’ ball baseball league in which the Kane County Cougars, my team and an affiliate of the Chicago Cubs, and the Lake County, the other team and an affiliate of the Cleveland Indians, are members. Ha, the two teams with the longest loosing streak have minor league teams battling it out for a championship. Irony is heavy in baseball.

Yesterday was game one of a best of five game “World Series” like final round. My father, son and I attended.

What a night of wacky and weird events.

We were “allowed” to park in the prestigious “reserved lot”. I felt like a VIP. Even though this is a championship game, it’s still minor league baseball and very few people know of the games or attend. So, parking is a breeze. I still like the VIP delusion though.

The real-live Annie Savoy sat in row just in front of our seats. She “wowed” us with her knowledge of baseball strategy and general rules, her “boys” of whom she an her husband housed during the season and her philosophies of life. Entertaining? Yeah. Psychotic – definitely! Great seats hey buddy? Tell that lady to shut up and watch the game.

20140910_203922The first two innings took over 90 minutes to complete. In that span, all of the scoring (7 runs in total) and errors (4 in total) occurred. It was mayhem T-Ball like baseball in the context of a professional championship game.

The final seven innings took under 90 minutes and featured no scoring or errors. A lot of three up and three down baseball.

However, a hit-batsman, two batters hit by the ball as they exited the batter’s box, three wild pitches, a foul ball that shattered the back of my son’s hard-plastic box seat (imagine what that would have done to my hand had I stayed with my original decision to attempt to catch the ball), a foul ball that bounced in the dugout and then into my hand and more of Annie Savoy’s approach to life also accompanied the wackiness that was a bipolar and psychotic baseball experience.

The non-rain, rather more aptly defined as a “mist of wetness” fell upon the game during the third through fifth innings offered a cooling effect after a hot and humid end of the summer day in Chicago. It also messed up my glasses and made my pants just wet enough to be annoying.

At the end of the game, three generations of Zima men enjoyed a wild and wacky night of baseball and humor.

I guess that is what life is all about anyway. Ride the wave boys, ride the wave.

Chaos & Order: Ingredients for a Sh*t Sandwich

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So you don’t like chaos? Who does? A dumb-ass like me. Someone who loves chaos loves variety, sudden challenges and a lack of structure.

And you don’t like too much order in your life? Who does? I don’t. Who wants organization? That just kills impulsivity and freedom.

How about a perfect mix of chaos and order. Keep dreaming. We usually get too much of one or the other which are the ingredients for a life that tastes like a cardboard shit sandwich with a side of sawdust.

Many of us fear chaos and order. When you mix the two, they can be lethal or the stuff of which a genuine, authentic and thrilling life are made.

When these two tango, there is not “perfect balance.” Or is there?

Truth be told, life is full of chaos. At times, life is most vibrant and thrilling when chaos is driving the car. However, too much chaos and that car ride becomes a Sunday afternoon adventure on the highway to hell resembling a Mad Max feature.

On the other hand, things going according to plan and the order of things working out as planned can offer most of us a sense of security. Even if that sense of security is short lived or false. Order means every thing is OK while chaos means kiss your ass good bye..

Life is both: chaos and order. Truly living is like riding a rank bull out of a PBR pen called Chaos and Order.

For more of my thoughts on this topic – check out my latest Podcast: Chaos & Order: Ingredients for a Sh*t Sandwich aired on 09/08 via The Bob Zima Show in Comedy Podcasts.