Tony Woodlief | Author


On the giving of thanks, stomach viruses, and giant Christmas ornaments

Yesterday we cooked and cooked and cooked, and ate and ate and ate, and it was delightful, even the cheesy squash casserole that makes my children instinctively gag just from looking at it. Especially the squash casserole, you little ingrates. My friend Johnny Utah, newly paroled, spent Thanksgiving with us. In order to make up …

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Not home

On Sunday nights, after I’ve tucked in the boys, after I’ve packed my bags for another trip, I write each of them a note. I tell Caleb that I love the way he takes care of his younger brothers, or that I love his inquisitive spirit. I tell Eli that I love his perseverance, or …

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Laboring days

I’ve cut grass and cleaned offices and guarded buildings; I’ve been a grill cook and a college teacher and a karate instructor. I’ve bussed tables and stocked labs and punched numbers; I’ve managed more emotional twenty-somethings than I can count, hired people and fired people and balanced razor-thin budgets. The hardest job I ever had, …

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The going rate

“Four M&M’s if I poop,” Isaiah explained. This is how we finally got him potty-trained, you see. With bribery. He was getting M&M’s for peeing as well, but then he started doling it out in little dribs and drabs in order to optimize his candy intake. And people think economics is hard to understand.

Marionette parenting

Judith Woods reminds us that there’s a difference between good parental involvement and hovering overkill (i.e., “helicopter parenting“). We ought to dispense with calling it helicopter parenting, in fact, and call it marionette parenting. Parents should be in the helicopter, hovering about their children’s lives. That’s their bloody job, after all — to supervise, counsel, protect. …

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