Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Archive for the month “February, 2015”

A Driving Test Flashback

driver test

I am sitting here watching “Alexander And The Horrible, Terrible, Very Bad Day” (not really the inspirational movie I should be watching, but since it is a comedy, and I really needed the laugh and actually see someone having it worse than me to appreciate what I am dealing with and nothing more).

Anyway, there is a part of the movie, where the teenage boy is going for his driving license test.  And of course, adjusted for 21st century issues, such as having a cell phone in the car, it was the very beginning of the actual driving test for the teen that caused me to remember an incident that I witnessed decades ago while going for my driver’s license.

I believe it is a law everywhere, that a driver in training must always be accompanied by a licensed driver.  And evidently it depended on the instructor supervising the exam how literal this requirement would be.  But in front of me, was a fellow teenager, whose mother had gotten out of the vehicle to allow the instructor to get into the car at the entrance to the driving test course.  Seemed like the polite thing to do.

Up ahead from the vehicle, approximately 50 feet, was the instructor, seemingly pleasant, who with a simple gesture, a wave of her hand for the inexperienced driver (inexperienced in the art of being literal as well), motioned for the teenager to pull the car forward for the instructor to get into the vehicle.

Yep.  The instructor failed the teenager for driving without a licensed driver.  Perhaps the instructor was having a really horrible, terrible, very bad day herself, or maybe just was a really mean person.  But as my mother had already gotten out of my vehicle, just as the mother in front of us, I  could not motion quickly enough for my mother to get back into my car.

Spoiler alert, of course, just as the movie portrayed, the teen driver suffered all kinds of issues during his exam.  But for those have seen the movie, here are some important tips if you will be having a teenage driver soon.

1.  NO DRIVING THE CAR WITHOUT A LICENSED DRIVER – even as a courtesy to the instructor

2.  Do not use the cell phone during the exam, actually ever should be the rule

3.  Of course, hands at 10 and 2 o’clock

I am sure there are more, but with my daughters four years or more away from driving, I will worry about that later.

Daddy / Daughter Talk #1

It has been a conscious decision in what I discuss with my daughters as to the divorce process that we are all going through.  Pretty much, my rule has and always will be, let children be children and deal with childhood things.  So other than when I announced to my daughters that their mom and dad were going to get divorced, I have intentionally not involved them in anything else.  Occasionally there have been questions, but I have always answered them, “it’s a grown up problem and the grown ups need to deal with it.”

The only other time that I had any discussion with them was when I decided I was going to be relocating.  For reasons that I will not discuss here, any more than I did with my daughters, I simply informed them that I would be moving far away.  It turned out that they were quite excited with the prospect of having two homes, one in the cold north, and one in the warm south.

Regardless of custody arrangements and locations, there was going to be time for both of us to be without our children.  And communication was and still is going to be critical.  Any time that the girls have been with me, I have made it a point every day, that our daughters communicated with their mother either by phone or video.  And the same goes for when the girls are with their mother and communicating with me.  I make sure that I talk to them in one form or another each and every day.


Currently however, it has been quite a while since we have actually been able to be with each other.  And it has not been easy for any of us.  Not to mention my oldest is heading into “tween” years, and if there is one thing I have learned from other single parents, there is soon going to come a time when my oldest will soon not have “time to talk”.

But the other night, I finally had no choice but to have a talk with them, as my oldest was expressing a little frustration with having to stop with what she was doing just to talk to me.  And so I told her why it was important to me.

“When Daddy was a little boy, as you know, my parents were divorced too.  And my mom took care of me and my sister.  And we did not live with our dad either.  My dad actually lived near us too, but he made a choice, and for a reason that I will never know, only that he was sorry, he rarely saw us.  Visits were rare, and he almost never called us.  And this was a choice he made.  I hardly saw him.  I hardly got to know him.  He hardly got to know me.  He could only ever visit or call.  But he did not.”

“But I have something my dad did not have, technology.  That is why I do everything I can, every day to call you using Facetime or Tango.  So that when I cannot actually be there with you every day, I can at least see you both, and both of you can see me.  This way you will never forget me, or think that I have forgotten you.  I know this is hard on both of you, and it was hard on me when I was a child too.  And because I know how it made me feel, not only missing my dad, and thinking he had forgotten me or did not care, I promise you I will never let that happen between us.”

“That is why every day I will call you and see you.  I will never sleep without hearing your voice, or seeing your faces.  I love you so much, and I miss you too much.  So until we can be together again, this is why our time on Facetime is so important.”

And then, as if knowing we needed to lighten up the conversation, my youngest, as she always does, broke in with her comedic relief.  “Daddy, quick question.  How does a goat keep its hooves warm in the winter?  With kidd gloves.

What I Think About Common Crap… I Mean Common Core


Several years ago, while campaigning for my local school board as  director, I was introduced to the term, “common core”.  My understanding it was a concept that would challenge children in their education by no longer educating children by simply “memorizing” subjects and content, but instead, learning to apply what they have to learn to every day life.  And I am going to preface my next comment by stating that my opinion has absolutely nothing to do with politics and who created “common core” or “no child left behind” or whatever other gimmick some corporation wants to get rich off the backs of our children.  But…



Now that I got that off my chest.  Here is what prompted this rant.  My daughter had asked for help with her math homework.  So far, it has not been too difficult a task to do.  But this year, math has become quite a challenge.


This was a multiplication formula that was used over the summer when my daughters visited me.  Now if you are like me, you see extra work in both of those equations.  The goal of Common Core is to stop “memorizing” the work, and instead, “think” about each equation and how you get to it.  Now, I had a math teacher in 7th grade who used to time us to see if we could use a calculator to figure an equation quicker than he could solve it on the blackboard (today known as a “smart board”).  And guess what, his “memorized” math skills were always quicker than those of us even with the quickest of fingers.  And he was always accurate.  And honestly, if you are reading this post, you learned math the same way, using memorization of the multiplication table.  And the same goes for the other functions of math:  addition, subtraction, and division.  Simply put:

47                                          37

x6                                        x23

= 282                                111


= 851


And that is all there should be to simple math.  Why did someone have to mess with this?


But later on in the school year, Common Core just got a whole lot more frustrating.  I will be the first to admit that I did not really care for doing fractions, but at least I could learn them, and I did them.  But with Common Core now, this led to a nightmare trying to teach my daughter simple fractions and common denominators.


My daughter’s homework was addition, not subtraction, but was still just as absurd.  But the formulization was just as absurd.  What I wanted to do was to teach her as I had learned, and what has been used for decades.

3/4 divided by 3/8 = the common denominator being 8, makes the first fraction 6/8 divided by 3/8 = 2.  But that would be too easy.  Instead Common Core pushed to write a thesis for every math problem.  No memorizing.


 Now I know, math is not the only target of Common Core.  Scores for science have been dropping each year in my old school district because with all the focus on standardized tests, Math and Reading have become the priority.  At one point, our education was a leader in the world when it came to science.  And now there is a push to erase our nation’s history, because it makes us look “bad.”


Slavery.  We had it.  The Great Depression (the first one).  We had it.  World Wars 1 & 2, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars, etc.  We had them and more.  But now the push is on to teach our children how great a country we are, and we can change our history simply by erasing it.  Now I do not know about you, but I think our country did great things when it did abolish slavery.  Our country did great things when it gave women equal rights and so on.  We do not need to eliminate our history.  We still need to teach it, we just need to teach more of it, because more has happened since I was in school.


Common Core wants our children to become thinkers.  Most of us reading this have no issue with being considered thinkers.  And the difference is this.  Twenty years ago, we were not consumed by Youtube, television, year round athletics and all of the other extra curricular activities.  We took time to get our homework done first, and if our grades were not good enough, we did not participate.  Now, homework gets done when there is time.  And guess what, Common Core is not helping grades go higher, not helping to learn to test, and are definitely not creating thinkers.  What it has done is make some corporations very wealthy creating new curriculum, and this is the way it will be until someone else wants to get rich off the minds of our students and brings in a new method of learning.  We are trying to fix what was never broken, and not fixing what is.


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