Window Washing: A Life Lesson?

I try to be a responsible parent and to pass on a sense of responsibility to my son. My son at age 17 tries to be independent and in control of his time and actions. Sometimes these “tries” intertwine.

Near the end of the last school year D got a ticket while driving. I was not mad. He rolled through a Stop sign, who among us have not. He got caught.

It did lead to a large fine for which I wrote a check ( the county does not take credit cards even in this Internet age). I told him he would have to work it off. At the moment he was sincerely apologetic and agreed.

We put in 32 new Pella windows last year. It was time for them to be cleaned. There was no pressure to begin until school ended. He had a heavy class load and baseball. June 13. School ends, the clock starts ticking and the games begin.

Better, and much longer, than the Olympics these were The Father/Son Games. Sometimes a battle royal, sometimes a game of strategy much more intricate than chess, sometimes like WWF Smackdown. Since I have a son who is a good kid this never became about whether or not the windows would get washed. It was all about when and who decided when.

I prefer a high degree of certainty. I plan. A schedule. I never expected that he would start Day 1 and work until they were done forsaking all else. He wanted complete flexibility. After all, he had the entire summer. What’s the rush?

Parental push here WHAM.  Son sidestep there. POW. Suggest that he put together a schedule. WHOMP. You didn’t say by when the schedule had to be done. BANG. On and on it went.

With a 17 year old boy there is an art to knowing when to push and knowing when you will get more by backing off. With only a year left until he goes off to collage, I ain’t no Rembrandt. More at a paint by numbers level.

All the windows got washed with more than a week before school started. In fairness to D once he got rolling he took the initiative and worked on a few almost every day. As I said, he is a good kid.

Who will I give life lessons to next year? Who will give them to me?

My Fear of Falling (To My Death) From High Places

I do not have a fear of heights. I am fine on a plane or in a tall building. I have a fear of falling off high places to my death.

I am sure I have written before of family vacations in the mountains. I love to hike as long as I am not on the edge of a narrow path. My wife and son will walk to the edge and look down. I can barely watch them do that. I am sure I miss some spectacular photo opportunities because of this fear.

While I would like to overcome this fear, there are often reminders of why I have these healthy reactions. Newspaper articles with titles such as 81 Foot Fall Kills Man are all I need. First let me say that I send my sympathies to the family and friends of Milos Hrsto. He was only 21. But here is an excerpt from the article in the Chicago Tribune about his trip to Starved Rock National Park:

The latest death to hit the popular park about 90 miles southwest of Chicago, near Utica, involved a 21-year-old recent college graduate whom relatives said had veered from the marked path about 8 feet to peer over the rim of Pontiac Canyon along the upper trail, one of the park’s many rocky vistas.

Milos Hrsto fell 81 feet to his death Sunday while hiking with his older sister, her husband and her sister-in-law. Relatives said he fell after a tree branch he was leaning against broke, causing him to lose his balance.

I have hiked there. One of the few decent places for hiking in the Chicagoland area.

Lesson to be learned. Take risks but realize that the unexpected happens. Be careful when near the edge. I will be too far away to help.

My Million Dollar Idea

 I am still waiting to come up with my $1 million dollar idea. Actually given my desire to retire and travel the world, make that a $10 million idea.

On thought is to find a way to monetize the thoughts in my head. Christian Lander did. He and a friend came up with the idea that became the blog Stuff White People Like.  It was all the craze for awhile. Hundres of thousands of hits a day. Of course once that happens you get ads. The if you are like Christian you get a book deal. Guess what the book is called? You got it!  Stuff White People Like.

Come on. He was a drop-out. OK he dropped out of a Phd program but he is still a drop out. And while some of his list contains clever even humorous writing, it is not universally hilarious. And look at him. No Brad Pitt if you ask me.

When my mind clears again (hopefully before senility clicks in) I am going to divine an even better blog idea that will make me rich and famous. Maybe I will test some out on you. Now you should be scared. Very scared.

Its All Bad

I like the phrase, “its all good” especially when people use it sincerely. Those are individuals who take things in stride and generally see the positive side of life.

However, when it comes to my Mom’s health there ain’t no good news. When a liver is not working the way it should no amount of determination and fortitude can withstand the onslaught. She is getting weaker and not all that slowly fading away. The doctors use terms like “in the final stages of the disease”. They are trying a few new things to stabilize her condition for a time. The end, though, is not as far away as I would like.

She spent last night in the emergency room after looking like, but not yet experiencing, death. It turned out dehydration had raised her potassium levels. They fixed her and sent her back. She was asleep by the time I got there tonight but I have been told she was much better today.

It seems surreal but is all too real. I will be writing about her life at some point. Her story is worth telling  but not now. It would seem like a eulogy and she is not in need of that just yet.