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‘Don’t Blink’ turned into a hot topic on Tuesday & the email inbox lit up

Tuesday, I wrote about how my son was turning 5 — he had a Mario party with a Mario cake and Mario balloons and he loved it — and how I was worried I might be blinking too much. What’s that mean? Well, in my circle of friends, we have a joke about how suburban moms will go on Facebook and tell other moms “Don’t blink” when they start getting all nostalgic about raising children and how fast it goes.

So I wanted to know how I can go about life without blinking and missing something that turns into regret later in life when I’m old(er) and all I’m left with is random quiet Tuesdays long retired from the Internet game.

And as usual, Screencaps readers came with the firepower. I challenge you to find another daily column out there that (1.) allows the audience to even have a voice, and (2.) has an audience out there as wise and full of incredible advice as the Screencaps community.

If it exists, I haven’t found it yet.

Let’s dive into these responses:

• Mark W. in Franklin, TN writes:

In my opinion, there is no way to not blink. You will look up and find Will heading off to high school wonder what happened and where the time went. It’s gonna happen whether we want it to or not.

So rather than worry about not blinking, concentrate on making the special moments with your boys. Those moments don’t necessarily have to be big, epic moments, but ones where you create and reinforce special bonds. My 22-year-old son and I still share our “secret” and special handshake that we created when he was Will’s age. My 29-year-old daughter now repeats back to me some of the things I would give her as maxims about life when we would talk, things I wasn’t sure she really heard or absorbed. There are big things, like the special vacations or experiences they- and I remember, but it is just the time together that is so important. And it is really surprising what they absorb and remember, so do what you’re doing and continue to be there. That presence is so important.

Blinking is going to happen to every parent. It’s what happens in between those blinks that matters.

• Craig V. in Indy writes:

Happy birthday to your youngest. My youngest turns 3 on Thursday and I had a similar epiphany that you did with your 5-year-old. I always wanted a Power Wheels growing up and never got one. Then with my older 2 kids I just forgot about them because they never really expressed much interest. But then it hit me…my little guy is my last chance to get on a Power Wheels until I have grandkids. So he’s getting a John Deere gator on Thursday morning. I think he and your youngest should hang out, as they sound identical. His name is Luke and clothes are rarely kept on. If they are, it’s 90% chance at least one article is on backwards and/or inside out. There’s an 80% chance the shoes are on the wrong feet and it’s beautiful.

The guy from Nebraska (GBR?) asked about a restaurant with a train. There is one up in Glen Ellyn, IL that delivers the food and it’s pretty good as I remember. It’s called 2Toots and there are a few around suburban Chicago.

Last and certainly not least, congrats on your Bengals winning the North. Assuming the colts will be one and done (perhaps against the Bengals), I will have no problem rooting for the former Husker Zac Taylor and who should’ve been the Nebraska qb Joe Burrow. Anyway, I’m so glad you got to experience that with your dad. I will never forget in the 2006-2007 season when the colts won the Super Bowl, I would always call my dad at halftime of the game from school. I was always half-cocked on captain and Coke and he didn’t mind. But I called him at halftime of the Patriots AFC title game and he told me “you just gotta believe.” Hope your pops is doing well and thanks for being one of the best parts of the best website on the internet. Enjoy the time with your little man!

• Rob W. has wisdom for us dads trying not to blink:

Eat dinner at the table every night and have each kid say what they did today. Make that convo count, you’ll learn a lot.

Read bedtime stories.

Never miss a game for any reason. Or a play or a performance or whatever else they do.

Help them with their homework.

Have a “no rules” thing you do with them. For mine there were no rules at the hunting camp. No bedtime, could eat whatever junk they wanted to, etc.

Always say yes to shooting hoops or having a catch or going to a school function or whatever.

Engage their friends. When their friends tell them you’re cool they’ll listen.

Be the house where all the kids want to hang out.

Never miss “their stuff” for “your stuff.” You can do your stuff later.

I know some of these are a little redundant. Sometimes repetition is good.

Kudos to you for making sure you’re not blinking. Just thinking about it means your winning it more than most.

####

Let’s pause right there. Stop and read these again. The only other time Rob has emailed me was for a Gauntlet football scoring question. That clearly indicates to me that Rob has extensive experience raising children. It tells me he’s been in the trenches and clearly understands what works, what doesn’t.

I’ll definitely be going over these from time to time. I’m happy to report “eat dinner at the table” isn’t a problem around here.

• Chris B. in Texas writes:

I have never heard DON’T BLINK before! But with my daughter an 18-year-old senior that will leave for college this year and my son a HS freshman, I certainly get it.  My advice is the same as I gave you a while back… coach their youth sports teams &/or become a leader of some sort in whatever other activities they enjoy.  It takes ALOT of time & energy, but it is incredibly rewarding to participate with your kid in their extracurriculars.

####

I want Chris B.’s to know I took his advice and recently told a guy I know — while we were at a school roller skating fundraiser — that I’d be interested in being his baseball assistant this summer.

• Travers H., who is Team #TNML, writes:

Joe, love the column… first-time emailer. Here in Knoxville, Tn what I try to do this time of year is make a list of all the things I want to do with my girls before they leave home ( currently 16 and 13 ). And put a date and time on it …. Cause after all , if you don’t plan it , it’s probably not gonna happen. Seems simple but people let 3-5 years go by and do the “ same old vacations” every year.

I also like to revisit at this time of year all the things we did check off the list last year. Makes me feel like I didn’t blink too fast.

• Chris R. writes:

I have 3 boys, 23, 20 and 18.  We’ve had an empty nest since September.
 
The strategy is so simple that I don’t think it can really be called a strategy.  Love your kids, appreciate them, enjoy every day. I would give anything to relive the last 18 years, not because I missed anything or to fix my mistakes, but just because I loved watching my kids grow up.
 
It’s so easy to crush ourselves in guilt over what we didn’t do, or how we screwed this up or that, but we can’t live like that. I think that what happens is that the birth of a child is such a monumental event.  You remember everything about that day down to the smallest detail and it’s such a powerful memory, you remember it like it was yesterday.
 
The problem is that the rest of the days between then and now aren’t nearly as memorable and how could they be. It’s not possible to live on a “high” like that every day.

So those days pass by and it feels like a blink of an eye, but it really isn’t. If you love your kids and appreciate them today, and it’s clear from your writing that you do, trust yourself that you did the same yesterday and the day before that and the day before that, etc.

And try not to crush yourself in unwarranted guilt.

• Steve E. in Gresham, OR checks in on this “Blink” topic:

Today my wife and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary, and my kids are 22, 19 (both in college), and my youngest is 10. I always knew the time would fly by when we first started out, but now I’m on the tail end for two of them, and halfway through with another, and I’m wondering where the time went. It’s tough watching the older two transition away from us and doing their own things, but they are great people, so that makes it slightly easier, but not much.

I can boil everything down to two things; be intentional, and experiences, not things. What I mean by being intentional is to take advantage of every opportunity to do things with your kids. Plan ahead, and don’t make the mistake I made too many times of not planning ahead and trying to wing things. Plan family vacations, trips to ball games, camping, anything. Know what your kids like to do and do those things with them. You will never regret it.

Second, spend money on experiences, not things. There are many, many gifts of toys and clothes and other things that they will get and quickly forget. However, when you do things together (see above), they will always have those memories, and the times you had together.

If you do those two things, it will not make the time fly by any slower, but when it has gone by, you will know that you used every bit of it that you could.
 
• Keith W. in PHX is in on Don’t Blink!

Your screencaps lede (lead?) this morning hit home for sure.  I have a 6-year-old and a 4.5 year old (both boys) and I am struggling.  Every day itself is a struggle: getting them ready for school in the morning, finding things for them to do that will keep their interest the rest of the day – something that is fun and they may learn something – and something that isn’t just a screen.  The struggle includes keeping them from fighting and screaming (and for the 4 year old, screaming bad words like calling his brother a $h!tface; ugh, where do they learn these things?).

The biggest struggle is trying to be in the moment and enjoy these years, even though they seem like torture sometimes.  I’m trying really hard to play and show interest in what they’re interested in, and not just look forward to the evening time when they’re asleep and the wife and I have 1 hour of free time before we start the same thing over the next day.  “The days are long but the years are short” couldn’t be more true about parenting and your children’s childhood.  

Anyway, here is one of my “don’t blink” strategies:  saying “yes”.  If ever one of the boys asks me to play with them, the answer is “yes”.  If I’m in my office and they want to play star wars guys with me for a bit (I work from home), the answer is “yes”.  If we’re doing dishes, or trying to pick up the house, or anything at all that’s mundane and they want to go scootering, the answer is “yes”.  It may mean our house is a mess, or my garage/man cave isn’t yet what I’m envisioning, or that I miss watching most of the games I sports bet on, but when I look back at these years in the future I know I will be happy that I’ll have tons of memories of spending time with them, and I’ll never remember the times the dishwasher was running and the sink was actually clean.

• Mike C. in Philly snuck a very important nugget into his email re: Don’t Blink. See if you can spot it:

I really enjoy your columns and the Outkick website.  

My best advice I can give you, or to any Dad is for you to volunteer to coach their youth sports teams.  

Yes it can be a hassle…but A) 20 years from now there will be no doubt in their minds that you did everything you could to spend as much time with them as possible. This may come in handy when they are choosing your nursing home (don’t blink, this day will be here quickly also). B) It puts you in a unique position to identify the friends that you need to steer your kids toward and more importantly away. You’ll find the ability to do this helpful during the Middle School Years.  

The time you spend with them driving them to games, practices, and “extra work” will be the most important moments of all of your lives.

• Steve in Grand Junction, CO writes:

My daughter turns 13 this month (Lord help me), and my son just turned 10, so I hear you about the blinking.

What I do (or at least try) is to work when I’m at work, and be at home when I’m at home. Some of us work from home, so it’s hard, but at 5 PM, I try to stay off the phone and internet and just “be at home”.

My daughter has no interest in sports or golf or anything I like, but I still take her to a movie, or out to a coffee shop, or just read one of those “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” books with her. 

Vacations, (even short ones), sure help too, as it makes your entire family focused on getting there, battling airports, checking out a new environment, etc. It gives the family sort of a “us against the world” mentality that helps with bonding.

This past weekend, the four of us flew from Colorado to Dallas to see the Cowboys, as I’ve always wanted to see a game at AT&T Stadium. As an older Broncos fan, I hate the Cowboys (Their “Doomsday Defense” brought tears to the 9-year-old me when they crushed us in our first Super Bowl trip in 1978), but I know my son and daughter will remember this trip when they’re old. We all had a great time, even the non-sports fan daughter (although I had to spend a fortune on treats to keep her occupied during the game).

Basically I think if you keep your kids within your line of sight, you’ll see them in-between the blinks.

####

I don’t know if Steve knows it, but that’s a nice quote at the end of his email.

THANK YOU for the emails. I can’t imagine being some blowhard blogger trying to tell readers how to raise their children and I can’t imagine interviewing some so-called expert on the topic. Instead, I’ll crowdsource these topics. I want to hear from those who’ve been in the trenches, not from some self-declared expert who just wants to become TV famous so he/she can sell a book while declaring that he/she has never made parenting errors.

I’ll admit that I’ve struggled with time management over the years. In the past, this job has Hoover vacc’d my time, especially during football season. But I’m working on it.

Now I just need to get busy creating Nerf practice range targets for the kids. We can have a shootout in the garage this Sunday while I relax knowing MY BENGALS are in the playoffs and hosting a Wild Card Weekend game.

And my mom is coming to town!

• Walt D. asks an important question:

Happy New Year, Joe.

Of course you should have emergency supplies in your car during winter months, but you should also fill your gas tank before you begin the journey.

Question for the Screencaps community regarding that horrible situation on I-95 between Wash DC and Richmond:

How does an electric car hold up in this situation?  What happens if you are stuck in an electric car for 20 hours in the ice and snow?

I don’t own an EV, but it seems this is a huge drawback, but maybe I’m wrong.

####

Can anyone help Walt on this topic? I have no idea how long an electric car will idle vs. an unleaded ride.

Let’s get out there and attack this Wednesday. It’s cold. It’s miserable. It’s time to fully engage the garage beers stage of the winter.

Email: joekinsey@gmail.com

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Written by Joe Kinsey

I'm an Ohio guy, born in Dayton, who roots for Ohio State and can handle you guys destroying the Buckeyes, Urban Meyer and everything associated with Columbus.

2 Comments

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  1. To your point about “a column follower family” … I have operated “a Website about Nothing” for over 20 years – 2,543 columns. It is very successful by my modest standards. From Day One I respond on-line to EVERY reader comment and have developed a great bunch of like-minded followers. Very few if any “trolls”.
    .
    Honestly, I have no desire to meet them in-person. No BobLeeSays Convention … no way. It’s kinda odd but it works just fine. Your bunch seems similar.
    .
    Hanna Palmer’s EYES are very very scary … I think Ulysses met her during his Odyssey after the Trojan War. Somewhere between Circe, Sirens and Cyclops.
    .

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