Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Gymnast Dad

My last post showed what I'm thinking when my girls are doing great in a gymnastics meet. This post shows the other side. I wrote this a month ago, after one girl qualified for the MN State Championships, and one did not...and after the daily early-morning training started to get to me...

I'm a gymnast dad...

I cheer, "Go! You can do it!" before their event

"Way to go!! Good job!!!" after 

I keep quiet 'during' so I don't distract

I keep score...

I shout encouragement at event warm-up 

If they're sitting by an exit door I'll walk to get a drink so I can whisper good vibes in their ear  


Inside I feel completely helpless 

They bobble, I get worried 

They fall, I wince, and hope the video doesn't pick up my whispered curses  

My internal dialog constantly debates the cost/benefit analysis   
...on family
...on income
...on free time

Is that cost worth this performance? 

I second-guess the whole commitment 

I want them to be rock-stars 

...when they're not...when they struggle...I get mad 

Not at them, but frustrated they didn't do better 

Usually one does better than the other 

...which is most of the time 

I hate that 

I feel great for one, terrible for the other
I end up falling into spiraling frustration 

I don't push them

Quite the opposite: I ask if they want to their face

I ask if they love it
...because if they don't, well, it's back to the cost/benefit analysis

What do they say?

They LOVE it!

They love everything about it

"Gymnast" is their identity  

They're working harder than I've seen anyone work at their skills and fitness

I'm amazed at their dedication of daily wake-up for 2 hour before-school training

Their time management for homework, fun, family, training is outstanding 

They are becoming young women of character 

I'm finding it is worth every penny for them


In theory the early wake-up is good 

2 hours of uninterrupted focus on work  

I just don't know if I can sustain it...

I'm so completely tired

Fatigue has set in 

It affects my health, mood, outlook...temper 

maybe there's something else lurking... 

Midlife? Loss of purpose? Lack of worth?  

(Maybe I should take up gymnastics)

I feel inadequate...especially at the meets 

I'm bombarded by the constant noise of the crowd and floor music

I fumble through conversations

The parents around me seem so much more 'with it'

They're living their dream job, engaged in their kids, balancing it all

They talk, they laugh, they plan outings


I keep quiet...

I keep score...

I cheer for my girls...

I pray for their safety (oh God, I pray they don't fall on their neck)
I pray this is the right path for our family

We have a long road ahead...

...what will we say when we look back? 

 Will it have been worth it?

I pray...

Friday, November 11, 2011

HINTERgrams - 2011 Edition

At our girlies latest gymnastics event, I heard a lot of "good luck" messages read over the PA just before our girls meet. These are personal messages parents write to their little competitors, then some lady shouts them into the microphone (in a surprising monotone delivery) in hopes that the gymnasts hear a spark of support. I suppose it's to encourage the young ladies to do the best they can.

Some examples:

"Good luck, Sally. We love you. Mom and dad"


"Brittany, you're a rock star! We know you'll do great. Grandpa"  

Of course being a HINTER, I feel these messages should be more impacting...something to give these athletes real focus to give their routines something extra. Basically, to help them find their inner HINTERmojo. 

Therefore, I give you:  

HINTERgrams - 2011 Edition

First, I'd start off with the basics:

"Sally, Good luck! ...You'll need it. Dad"


"Lucy, let's hope that star in the East can pull off another miracle. Love Dad"

Then, I'd add some loving truth:

"Sally, you're just not that good. Get used to disappointment. Love Dad"


"Lucy, your dog just died. Just thought you should know. Good luck!"

Next, I'd add some positive motivational themes:

"Sally, if you ever want to see your hamster alive again, get a 9 on floor"


"Lucy, remember how sad I was when Nanna died? If you don't place in the top 3 the wounds will open again. Love you. Dad"

Finally, I'd wrap it up with a personal touch:

"Sally, while I'm still sober, I want to say good luck. I love least today I do" 


"Lucy, if it weren't for your 'competitive calling', I'd be whipping down the interstate in my Nissan Roadster. You'd better do well today. Love Dad"

Of course, it's not only the athletes that need motivation. It's the judges. First I'd start with the must-have-been-an-honest-mistake:

"Dear vault judge: did you write 6 while meaning 9, or are you taking out your lack of life-purpose on my 10 year old? " 

Then I'd utilize peer-pressure:

"Dear beam judge: I just Googled it 5 minutes ago, and I can score better than you. Those toes were pointier than the hat you wear!"

Finally, I would compose a message hand-crafted utilizing the finest skills from my years of education, communication, writing experience:

"Dear floor judge: Bite Me"


There you go. Use just a few of these HINTERgrams and you will become a better parent-spectator at any sport. Soon the crowd will cheer louder for you than the athletes...which, of the goal of any parent.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Song Insight: "Pocket Man"

Composer: Greg Hintermeister, ©2011
Arranged: Greg Hintermeister
Performed by: Greg Hintermeister, Jaxon Hint
Recorded: 2011 in Hint of Light Studios
Emotions: Fun, Cute, Happy, Lovin' Life

Listen and Watch:                      Other song insights

To be honest, this song is a bit sobering to me.

Don't get me wrong. I love it. I enjoyed composing, recording it, and the images in the video are fantastic. I love how well my son played percussion and sang in it (more on that below). Most of all, I love how happy it makes me and my boy when we watch it.


It also shows the amazing human I’m responsible for. This creature is creative. He loves exploring, loves experimenting, inventing, and loves collecting things (and, of course, putting them in his pockets). I've said before his brain is crazy smart, and his drive for immersed experiences, to passionately satisfy his curiosity, it all makes me worry:
1) That I'll suppress his true potential
2) That he'll rebel trying to show he's worth my praise
3) That I'll not guide him well enough to hone his skills/temper/passion towards his God-given purpose

When he was 3, I thought his smiles were because he LOVED pockets. He always stuffed his hands in his pockets and walk around. He loved stuffing whatever he found in them, and he especially loved pulling that stuff out to share what he collected.

Now, as he’s gotten older, his love for exploring, experimenting, collecting, and sharing has grown. I can't tell you how many times he walks through the kitchen matter-of-factly stating "I'm going to build a machine" or...even more scary...walks through with a hammer and saw without saying a word. His love for life, to find out how the world ticks, how so many amazing creatures and things can be discovered…well, it shows me that his love of pockets only represents his inner passion for life...and maybe his need to prove his worth to his dad.

I've said many times (thanks to Dennis Miller for the analogy) that my primary job in life is to guide my kids through the rocky shoals of youth...sometimes with firm that they can avoid the sharp rocks and hidden dangers that can wreck their life (but not too firm, lest they over-correct and slam into the far wall of rebellion). The goal? Get them to the open sea, watch their sails catch wind, and stand on the shore amazed as they maneuver through the rolling ocean with skill, passion, and success.

I only hope that with very best is good enough. My fear is that while I'm guiding him through the sharp rocks of youth, and avoiding the under currents that could pull him under, he will see past the current to a unique adventure that, if navigated properly, will propel him past the dangerous passage and he will collect another life skill (and more character) that will be essential in the open ocean.

I love you, little man.

I will guide you through these narrow shoals of youth the best I can. 

I know we will not see eye-to-eye all the time, but know that I love you deeply, and am already proud beyond words.

When the time comes, you will reach the open ocean. Your momentum from wise choices and experiences will propel you into deep waters. You will raise your sails, lower your rudder, and instantly cut into the wind to travel wherever you and your faith takes you. 

I can’t wait to see what you’ll do…

…what you’ll discover

…what you’ll invent

…who you’ll love

...where you'll live

...what you'll collect

...and...of course...

...what you’ll pull out of your pockets to show me. 

Whatever it is, I know I'll be amazed, impressed, proud, and filled with love. 

And then?

We'll smi-----le.  Because you ARE, and forever will be, a pocket man.


Technical Specifics:
Recording Unit: Cakewalk MIDI software, Soundscape DAW
Drums: Roland XV-5080
Percussion: Egg shaker, Tambourine, sticks (Performed by Jaxon)
Acoustic Guitar: Ovation 1712 Custom Balladeer
Piano: RD-500
Acoustic Guitar Mics: CAD E100, Rode NT1
Vocal Mic: CAD E100
Bass: Roland XV-5080


Recording Specifics:
When I get the itch to record a song, it usually happens fairly quickly. That was the case for this song. I originally wrote the first verse in 2007 and in August 2011 decided I needed to record it. I spent a few days adding verse 2 and the bridge based on suggestions from Jaxon.

As I was mapping out the song, I had planned on a solo, but it didn't feel right (I guess that means I'm old enough to let the song tell me what it needs...rather than my ego to show off). With no solo, I needed a way to make the last chorus unique. In a brainstorm, I decided Jack needed to sing it. But would he? I didn't know. He is VERY shy when it comes to getting a lot of attention. But as you saw in the video, he was very happy to ham it up. We decided that what he doesn't like is attention he did not initiate or seek.
As you heard, he did great!

He then asked to play percussion. He found music sticks, egg shaker, and tambourine in my percussion shelf. He laid them out on a chair and said "I want to play sticks in the beginning, shaker in the bridge, and tambourine in the last chorus and end." 

So...he did. In ONE TAKE he kept rhythm, switched instruments, and monitored his own volume by looking at the recording track to make sure he didn't go into the red too much.

The end 'banter' was another brainstorm. Jaxon and I poured through his room for things he found in his pocket over the months, then I wrote the script. Turns out it was too difficult putting the items in time with the music stand, so we recorded that part separately (and slower) then I synched the video with audio in post-production.

Not only am I happy with the song and video itself, but I'm thrilled with the time I got to spend with my little pocket man.


Lyrics ©2011 Greg Hintermeister
Verse 1:
My name is Jack, and I got pockets in my pants
I put stuff in, into the pockets of my pants
I put my hands right into my pockets
and pull out whatever I can
I put my hands right into my pockets and smile...
'Cause I'm a Pocket Man

Verse 2:
Here's my toad, it's from a pocket in my pants
Next to the frog, and my sandwich, and some ants
I put my hands right into my pockets and pull out my gum and my sand
I put my hands right into my pockets and smile
'Cause I'm a Pocket Man

If it's shiny, Or slimy, Or sharp, round, fuzzy or tiny
I put them into my pockets, cause they're useful when I'm playing around
Some day I think I'll empty my pockets out
But right now I stuff more in to keep things from jumping out!

Verse 3:
My name is Jack, and I got pockets in my pants
I put stuff in, into the pockets of my pants
I put my hands right into my pockets
and pull out whatever I can
I put my hands right into my pockets and smile...
'Cause I'm a Pocket Man
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