“We imagine that when we are thrown out of our usual ruts all is lost, but it is only then that what is new and good begins. While there is life there is happiness. There is much, much before us.” We tend to pick a lane and stay in it long after it feels stale, often for a lifetime … never manifesting the precious things we vow to do “one day.” That is folly. Jodi and I have dreamt of this year abroad with kids for decades, long before we met one another. And we are showing o
“What are anger issues, Daddy?” My ever-perceptive 6-yr-old asked me this on the ride to school a few days ago, having somehow heard the term mentioned in his classroom. A week earlier, just 2 days after the conclusion of an absolutely mental Art Basel, this very boy stood barefoot and shirtless in my studio, hands gloved in hunter-green watercolor paint, splotches on his shorts, inner arms and legs, one patch in the middle of his back. Home sick from school, I had to bring h
Late one morning, long before children, I sat on the edge of a New Orleans hotel bed and exhaled audibly. Inside my skull, a spicy Jazz Fest bisque of bourbon and psychotropics simmered from the night before. I bent down and tied my first shoe, and it wasn’t until I’d finished tying my second that I realized I wasn’t wearing pants. Laissez bon temps rouler! In the brilliant documentary, The Other F Word, aging punk rockers like Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers “transition
“I’m bored,” my seven-year-old barked at me, as I flipped eggs one sunny Saturday. I stomped in from the kitchen and pointed the spatula. ”You are never to say that again. You have a room full of toys and books and a park nearby and a pool. Figure it out.” Photo by Julie Kahn Are my exquisite sons stricken with a sense of entitlement? I grew up with a single school-teacher mom. We lived modestly, yet I always had a bike and a baseball team. I even went to sleep-away camp. Sti
My cheeky 6yr-old made goofy expressions in the mirror, raising his eyebrows and, finally, grimacing slightly. “Daddy, you know what I don’t like? That you can’t ever see your real face. Because the mirror is a fake face.” photo by Daren Joy Wow. His observation startled and charmed me, for he grasped something that I’d not considered in over 50 years, something so true and ironic – that we can never actually see ourselves. Though we strive our whole life to understand and op
At a religious service last month, invited to pray silently, I shut my eyes, inhaled deeply and began my routine gamut of wishes: ongoing health for my children, longevity for my parents, personal creative success, etc. Suddenly, my thoughts came crashing to earth, as I remembered my friend Ron and his 16-yr-old son, Sam, a champion freeskier who, just a week earlier, suffered a major wipeout and now lay in a serious coma. It seems, when we invoke a higher power, most of us t
“Daddy, I’m starving,” my 7-yo lamented, being, to use his own word, “marshmallow-dramatic.”
“What’d you eat for lunch?” I asked, admiring his bright eyes in the rearview, as we drove from school last week.
“Lunch was terrible today. I didn’t eat it.” Aha! There’s the rub. My little prince often opts out of the healthy and abundant meals put before him, yet another irrefutable proof of our privileged lives. And something my wife and I are dead-set on clarifying for our chil
“Even monkeys fall from trees.” Chris Bradford, The Ring of Earth. No way, I thought to myself the moment my brush, wet with polymer gloss medium, smeared the letters on the white paper above. For months, I’d labored with a compulsive attention to detail on this epic piece, layering the color and placing each pinkie-sized slice of book cover with precision. The gloss medium represented the very final step in a journey of 1000 miles, a mere mechanical necessity. But, the mome
“You suck!” my 5-yo barked into my face, looking me dead in the eye. The words hit me like broken glass. My neck and stomach clenched, and I needed a moment to reset. Deep Breath. Without betraying a hint of reaction, I turned around and walked away. As I did, he yelled, “Stupid. Idiot,” evoking a wince as I turned the corner. My stoic non-response is part of a strategy to disarm the weapons my youngest son recently opted to start firing to get his way. Recommended by a highl
My eldest stepped out of the car yesterday in a brand new lemon-yellow school shirt and khaki shorts, holding a bag full of pencils, gummy erasers, round-end scissors, Elmers glue, etc. Before I could even catch him for a kiss, Kai was up the stairs and gone to his first day of first grade. At least he was smiling, which is more than I can say for my wife and me. As we drove away, Jodi told me she felt nervous and out of sorts. About what exactly, she could not say. Today is
The little girl kept doing it … marching straight to the front, skipping everyone in line and going down the water slide. After the 3rd instance, I stepped in. The 6-yo culprit stood poised at the top in her one-piece, staring down the ramp, while my and my friends’ kids stood silently, confused. “Excuse me. Everyone here is waiting in line and you need to wait too,” I said. I lifted her by the shoulders and placed her in line behind the other three kids. “Do you understand t
“Did you ever get divorced?” 6-yo Kai recently asked my wife, as we three sat on the couch munching white-cheddar popcorn.
“No, that was Daddy. He was married once before.” Jodi glanced over at me, smiled and continued,”I’ve only been married to one person.”
My son turned his earnest gaze my way. “Who did you marry, Daddy?”
“Her name was Kim,” I told him. Kai grabbed a fistful of popcorn and asked no more questions. My divorce was a dark and sad chapter of my life, as it is f
Dusk Falls on Dan’s Delicious, acrylic on canvas, 30″ x 48″, 2002, Stuart Sheldon Helplessness happens. We are born completely powerless and spend the rest of our lives clawing our way to a place of self-sufficiency. Aiming to go from zero to hero. We appear to have control most of the time. But, every now and again, the wheels fall clean off. I recall one morning, when I was a stay-at-home dad with our then 3-month-old first son. He’d received two vaccinations that morning,
“Daddy, do babies have tiny nipples?” my 4-yo, Bodhi, asked me, lounging in a fresh pair of PJs. “Yes,” I answered from the couch, flipping through a magazine.
His thumb hovered just above his full lips, as he continued, “Do 2-yr-olds have bigger nipples than babies?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Do 3-yr-olds have bigger nipples than 2-yr-olds?”
“Do 4-yr-olds have bigger nipples than 3-yd-olds?” This earnest line of inquiry continued through 11-yr-olds, at which point, I belie
Do your parents construct your soul at that climactic moment? Or does it pre-exist, only to be reactivated in that surge of passion? Given all the loveless and wanton sex taking place, I find it hard to believe that this act is the source of all the souls of the universe. It seems our music was composed elsewhere, long ago, by something more profound than a couple of sweating primates knocking boots. One of the most exhilarating aspects of parenting is discovering the essence
Demure Becomes You, acrylic, antique cookbook, cardboard on canvas, 60″x60″, 2007, Stuart Sheldon We all have ex lovers. Encountering them later in life, when the wheel has turned, takes us to strange places. My wife’s ex-boyfriend and his wife had us over for brunch one sunny Sunday when Kai was 10 months. Jodi dated this charming, barrel-chested man for quite some time. And his quick wit, passionate eyes and clear love for his own 10-month-old boy induced a kinship in me. S
photo by Jenny Kaczorowski from WANA Commons We just finished bottle number two. Took us nearly ten years. Each drop another meal, another conversation, another spicy moment in the all-you-can-eat life buffet we opted to tackle together. And we’re talking the big bottles … not the little skinny ones you find in virtually any restaurant anywhere. BTW – I’m convinced Tabasco sauce is the single most successful product on earth, and the Mcilhennys who make it in Avery Island, Lo
This is My Mom!! My mother was a 1950’s beauty queen. I have a photo to prove it. She kneels atop a real live tortoise. Beneath a palm. One hand placed delicately on the languid creature’s shell. The other waving beside her baby doll smile. She is a curvaceous beauty. The white one-piece a masterstroke. Yet, she was a shy teenager who lacked self confidence she tells me. Not the Miss University of Florida contest type. Peer pressure got the best of her. More than once, this b
“There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.” Bern Williams Share this: Tweet Share on Tumblr Email #parenting #happiness #father #stuartsheldon #ALonelyFoolsMasterpiece #puppy #psychiatry
Stuart Sheldon, We Can’t Be Too Bold, acrylic and typing on Chinese funeral paper on panel, 12″x12″, 2003 “Are u happy, Daddy?” my then-3-year-old, Kai, asked a while back. The mere question impressed me … this mother of all questions … make that father. “I am happy,” I answered. “Why?” Another superb question. “Because I like my life.” Put it on my tombstone. That was the entirety of our exchange. I asked Kai that question several times since, and his answer is always this