This is going to be all over the place because I have so much to talk about. I’m probably not going to fit it all in this newsletter, so you’ll probably just have to wait another few months (that’s a joke).
Most kids are either back in school or heading back to school in the coming days. I threw together a quick mix on Spotify of some songs we’ve been listening to a lot over the past several months (there are a few songs with explicit lyrics). Ozzie already started his last year of preschool and Cassidy is starting at Acton Academy after Labor Day. I had to buy her a computer for school, which is kind of insane, or at least kind of insane to me, but not really insane because 2019. For those curious about what I got her, the school uses Chromebooks so I ended up going with a Lenovo 500e. I did some of my own research and also asked someone who manages Chromebooks for a school district what he’s buying for kids these days and the Lenovo was his answer.
The debate about screen time rages on and I remain firmly pro-technology, which doesn’t mean my kids get unlimited, unsupervised time in front of a screen. Had my parents not sent me to computer camp when I was 7, I know I likely would not have become the person I am today. For better or worse, software runs the world. Kids don’t all need to learn to be programmers, but learning about programming, being exposed to it, understanding it in the abstract, is powerful and essential knowledge kids should possess. Lucky for my kids, I’ll be able to teach them to solder circuit boards, assemble Raspberry Pi or Arduino modules and program, which by the way I can’t wait to start doing in the next year or two.
Cassidy and Ozzie had their first real concert experience and was it ever an experience. As some of you know, Laura manages Carly Rae Jepson. Carly’s most recent tour ended in Los Angeles with two sold out nights at The Wiltern Theatre. I took the kids both nights and they not only watched from the side of the stage, but Cassidy actually walked out on the stage with a wig on, reprising her role from her brief appearance in the music video for “Too Much”. They stayed up until nearly midnight both nights, ate all kinds of terrible junk food backstage and were treated like royalty. We’ve almost certainly set them up for disappointing concert experiences for the rest of their lives.
On our way to The Wiltern Sunday evening, we stopped at Veggie Grill (a.k.a. McDonald’s for vegans). As we were eating our food, I noticed the woman that took our order was now bussing tables and had overloaded the plastic bin she was carrying all the dirty dishes in. She was trying and failing to open the door from the patio to bring everything back in. No one else was helping, so I jumped up and ran to the door to help her. I know what you’re thinking. ‘I always knew Brad was such a great person’ or maybe, ‘Of course Brad sprinted to her rescue because that’s just the kind of person I always knew he was.’ Honestly, I’m not sure I would have done it if my kids weren’t there. Maybe, but probably not.
I mess up a lot of things when it comes to leading by example. I have a short fuse, I often yell at my kids when they’re pissing me off, I lose my shit at least 50% of the time they lose their shit, but I didn’t want to fall victim to the bystander effect. I wanted to set the example that you help people when you notice someone struggling, even if there are plenty of other people, perhaps in even closer proximity. This is all a roundabout way of saying that even though I think my kids bring out the worst in me so often, this was one of those moments when they brought out the best.
Speaking of bringing out the best, I’ve been saving up so many links for you.
The Wall Street Journal did an investigative piece on Amazon safety risks, especially related to kids toys. It’s scary. Bottom line, it’s clearly not worth buying stuff from third parties on Amazon for your kids.
Are You an Elk Parent or a Bison Parent? No, you first.
I discovered I’m not alone in my utter disdain for that bald bastard Caillou.
Remember how much free play time you had when you were a kid. Yeah, so kids don’t have much of that anymore and it’s really not good.
A Texas kindergarten class has a daily routine of shaking hands, making eye contact and smiling every day when they begin class every morning. It’s really sweet and restored my faith in humanity for a moment.
Citronella candles don’t work to prevent mosquitos.
The rituals of childhood now include preparing kids for mass shootings in Kindergarten and earlier. The preschool that Ozzie goes to (and Cassidy went to) have lockdown drills. I really don’t know how to deal with that. Like at all. I feel helpless and desperately sad, angry and terrified.
My kids don’t have imaginary friends. Some kids do though and there’s a possible explanation for them.
Parents are giving up custody of their kids to get need-based college financial aid, which is terrible. Related: Support ProPublica.
What and who it takes to raise a family (in California).
Wash your kid’s new clothes before they wear them.
Please forward this email newsletter to your entire class telling them to sign up. They will hate you for it, but I’ll love you forever and ever.