First Day of School, 2017

Today was the first day of school for my youngest son.

I arrived early— I always like the sun position on the first day of school. Still high in the sky, but lowering— you can feel the lowering. Bright greens remain. Blooms are still relevant.

CXO got up to see him off. He didn’t have to. Off to college soon. There were two other years like this. It’s the incongruity that sets me off at times. Two O’Neil’s in the building at all times was a rule that served us.

Prep.

What I Did on My Summer Vacation.

Tree.

The two. S-L went to Canada and he got a nice T-shirt.

Camera on a car.

Better remote shot.

I am sucking in my belly. I am judged by time. It is normal. I like myself. I used to wear suits to work and I used to weigh more pounds.

This is me and my teeny tiny little baby. He is a junior in high school.

I have to hold my babies in every picture in which I appear with them. Pictures mean things. They never need to hold me; I hold them.

Back to bed, to await plain bagel toasted with peanut butter from Einstein’s Bagels.

Mirrors really are something.

Exeunt.

Obligatory Mocking of One’s Father

He is entering a vehicle. By himself.  Carseats once ruled the first day of school.

He is going to operate the vehicle. He became licensed to do so yesterday. Used to rely on blankets from the trunk. Things change. For that, I am grateful. I will not relent on wistfulness though— it belongs to me for a moment. My family allows it to me.

And off.

Into the street.

Because he can.

And he is a little baby and a very good driver and strong and ready for anything.

And I let him go like this, one of a couple thousand letting-go moments.

Growth and joy and success and why are you going without me never mind of course this is awesome and perfect and I am happy.

Oh my he really is driving to school all by himself, Shade 45, no big brother.

We are good.

One day at a time, everybody.

Doing Los Angeles, June 2017

Recently I went to Los Angeles with my youngest son. I have a tradition of going on a trip, just me and them, when each of my kids turn 16. CXO chose Las Vegas in 2015. Caleb choose Los Angeles. So we went.

Once we landed, we went downtown to the Millennium Biltmore Hotel. A regal Place, doing business & absorbed with its own past, rightfully so. They deserve it.

Then we went to Soho House West Hollywood. Beautiful view.

Continue reading “Doing Los Angeles, June 2017”

Archiving Schoolwork and Other Stuff from Your Kids

One thing about school kids in our culture is that they make a lot of stuff. I am a parent of two boys and I’m also an avowed archivist. Over the years, I’ve developed some practices for managing and storing the stuff kids make, collect, and earn over the course of childhood.

Since my oldest child is 18 and is graduating from high school next month, I’ve looked back at the archives for him and his brother (who is 16), and I thought I’d share the exact materials and methods I’ve used.

Let’s start with some basic learnings

  • Format is destiny. I’ve learned to use the smallest vessel possible. This also enforces a certain thematic cohesion. For example, you won’t see 9 x 12 art sheet projects coming home much past 6th grade. Grouping items of similar shape and size makes more sense through time than you’d think
  • Chronological order is best order. I just flow all objects through to the archive w/o regard to what grade they’re in, what class it is, and so on. This allows you to see it all at once, flip through fast, and see your own themes rather than something imposed by the archivist
  • Annotate everything. Everything seems obvious in the moment, but as time passes, you may wonder who made what, what grade it was, and so on. A simple notation on the back of every item— name, grade, month, year— eliminates all the guessing
  • Focus on the child. This means if you have more than one child, make sure you make their archive 100% about them, with separate and distinct portfolios/ boxes/ whatever for them. If also means that each object should relate to them rather than you & them, their teacher & them, their sibling & them— whatever. The idea is that this is a collection that will be theirs someday— something uniquely about and for them
  • Don’t bog down the child with the past. There is a danger here in glorifying the past and / or force-feeding a whole shelf-full of crap that they don’t want in their lives. I rarely talk about their archives and we don’t make a show about going through it— I just quietly build it. As they’ve gotten older, and I am less intrusive when it comes to digging through their schoolbags for material, they make sure to give me things they want to keep for them. Having said that, I couldn’t care less if one day they incinerated their entire collection. Nostalgia is death
  • Focus on output and documentation rather than achievement and excellence. Certainly there are way more “A” papers in the archive than “D” tests, but I don’t shy away from putting in things like artwork that cast me in a less-than-great light (“this is how dad swears when he’s mad” doodle in 2nd grade). It’s also easy to make judgements about their work— and I do plenty of that in the normal course of parenting, tryna get them to do their best. But it’s important not to use an archive as yet another way to mess up your child about the pending doom of high school or college acceptance. That stuff is whack
  • Decide what you care about and collect for that. This is where one has to decide what’s wheat and what’s chafe. For me, I focused on original expression— writing, drawing, essays. That means I throw away standardized tests and worksheets, no matter how well they did on them, and I optimize handwritten, hand-drawn items. I want them to look back and see themselves
  • Never stop collecting, never stop winnowing. In order for this to work, you can’t let there be huge gaps. The good thing is that it sort of fits in with the overall need, as a parent, to pay attention to what your kid is doing. Go through their bag and make your piles. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to get to the pile, as long as the pile is there. I’d say I would keep 10% of what comes home in the pile-making stage, and throw away maybe 50% of that in the winnowing stage

Here’s pictures of the entire end result

Basically one shelf-full for each kid and a sliver of a closest for the posterboard-sized stuff (the large portfolio at the top holds material for both kids— it’s the only vessel shared between them). It’s really not a whole lot of stuff, when you think about the enormous amount of material we generate.

Here’s a look at each type of vessel, and what I put in each:

Continue reading “Archiving Schoolwork and Other Stuff from Your Kids”

Video of People Lining Up for the 10AM Buses for Chance the Rapper at #MCW2

Today my youngest child and 5 of his friends went to see #MCW2 by Chance the Rapper. By all accounts, it was a magical experience and it may soon be on Netflix. We walked them over to the secret bus location and I took a quick video. The shows seem to be over now, so I think it’s safe to post this video w/o giving anything.

I make a lot of personal documentaries like this. Here’s some more.