Posts Tagged ‘ Starbuck’s ’

Empathy For “Gossiped About” Dads Who Coach

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

3 years, 2 months.

Dear Jack, 

Today it was only about 40 degrees outside, but there was no wind and the sun was out.

So finally, after so many cold and bitter weeks, I was able to ride my mountain bike up to Starbucks during my lunch break during work.

As I sat outside on the patio reading my H.R. certification study guide, I couldn’t help but overhear a conversation between a dad who apparently coaches his son’s sports team and the mom of one of the kids on that team.

Most of what I heard (though I was trying not to, I promise!) was the dad/coach expressing his annoyance with the other parents of the team talking about him behind his back.

The mom he was talking to was evidently serving as a very empathetic mediator between the dad/coach and the other parents of the team. She was smiling and shaking her head the whole time, like she was on his side- and I believe she was. 

That caused me to imagine what it might be like if I were to coach one of your sports teams someday.

Attempting to put myself in that situation, here in a few years, I imagine the challenge being not so much coaching the kids, but playing the ultimate middle-man who can’t win with pleasing the parents.

It seems like the biggest challenge would be, on one side, trying to please the parents of the kids are the best players; wanting to see their kid lead the team to victory.

Then, on the other side, there would be the parents of the kids who are weaker links on the team; wanting to see their kid get more “play time.”

Sounds like a sticky situation; sounds like unavoidable politics.

I don’t want to be caught in the middle of that. I hate being caught in the middle of two parties of people like that.

(Then again, I’m in H.R., so I must not despise it that much!)

This doesn’t mean I wouldn’t coach your team. However, I am saying, for me, I would imagine that coaching the parents would be the hard part.

And that’s based on the conversation I overheard today at Starbucks, plus several other ones I’ve heard in the office where I work.

But I guess I won’t know for sure until I am that guy.





Image: Shutterstock- Kids Soccer Game.

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Nashville Dad Attempts To Give Up Caffeine For Life

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

2 years, 9 months.

Dear Jack,

I should start off this letter to you with what I have as my current status on Facebook:

“In the past 5 years, I have completely and successfully given up pork, shellfish, processed sugars, then meat altogether, then dairy, eggs, and honey; more recently, all alcohol and carbonated drinks (which I only had in moderation anyway)… and all of that, was NOTHING… compared to my newest current challenge: Caffeine (and therefore, coffee). I have officially survived Day #1. I heard the first 5 are the worst. This is misery; suffering both physically and psychologically. Caffeine is a highly addictive, easily accessible, completely legal and unregulated drug that has got me in a powerful state of withdrawal right now. I shall overcome…”.

Yeah, that about covers it.

Our family drove home from buying groceries at Whole Foods today and all I could do was collapse on the floor once I walked in the door. You started to run over to me as if to tackle me. I had to say, “I’m sorry, Son. I can’t wrestle with you tonight. Daddy isn’t feeling well.”

You kept asking me why I wasn’t feeling well. How do I explain to a nearly 3 year-old that, without realizing it, Daddy has been addicted to coffee (in the form of one to two cups a day at work, then at least one Starbucks over the weekend)?

I was familiar with this sort of urban legend that Starbucks’ coffee has more caffeine than “normal coffee” you would make at work or at home. Mommy and I spent some time this week researching that claim. The best evidence was this recent article on The Huffington Post, called “How Much Caffeine Is Actually In Your Coffee, From Dunkin’ to Starbucks?

The story included this pictogram which pretty much clears it up for me.

Part of the difficulty that comes with removing certain food and drink staples from my life, being that I could now be labelled as a caffeine-free, alcohol-free, soda-free, kosher vegan, is the nostalgia I have to let go of. And that definitely is the case here with caffeine.

After all, the friendship between Mommy and me, that eventually led to us dating, was first nourished in a weekly Sunday night meet at Starbucks; which didn’t simply include coffee, but more importantly, caffeine.

I’m not banning Starbucks as a company or a brand. I admire their cleverness. They have found a way to capitalize on one of the most addictive and unregulated drugs in the world and get people to pay at least 4 dollars a pop for it. I respect that, as a Libertarian capitalist.

But as for me, I plan for that half a cup of coffee I drank at work Friday morning to be my last ounce of caffeine for the rest of my life.

I just hate the thought of being at the mercy of a food, drink, and/or drug. Instead, I’d rather discipline my body and bring it into subjection (Biblical reference); especially knowing that the process of detoxing from caffeine makes me feel like a drug addict.

That is how I feel, by the way. I am a drug addict going through a baptism-by-fire withdrawal period. It is brutal.

I can feel my nervous system under attack right now. I’m a little freaked out by it, to be honest.

While I am so happy to have you and Mommy here with me now, I have to admit it feels like the Smoke Monster from Lost is trying to win this battle with me this weekend. That is how I am portraying my withdrawals from caffeine addiction.

I wish I could be fully present with you this weekend in mind, body, and spirit, but I know I’m not me right now.

From what I learned thanks to the girl in the tea aisle at Whole Foods today, who is now caffeine-free, having been through this herself, it takes a solid 10 days to recover from a caffeine addiction, but the first 5 are the worst.

I can do this. Cold turkey, to be exact.





Top photo: Coffee Addict Concept, via Shutterstock.

Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.

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Imagine A Barista Who Bathes In The Coffee They Serve You

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

23 months.

I say that because it’s exactly what my son Jack has been pretending to do during bath time this week while on vacation in Sacramento.

The first night here at my mother-in-law’s house, Jack wasn’t so keen on the huge jacuzzi I had just dropped him down into.

It sort of freaked him out.

But then my wife handed him three little white plastic cups designed for rinsing after brushing your teeth.

“Coffee,” Jack announced as he ducked down into the sudsy bath water he stood in.

He sprouted back up and handed my wife and me our very own Bubblecinos.

Jack has been our baby barista each night since then.

Imagine in real life a barista who bathes in the coffee they serve you… so absurd.

But not for an almost 2 year-old little boy who uses his imagination to glaze through situations he doesn’t want to be in at first.

It’s funny to me also how instantly he comes up with his imaginary surroundings.

He saw what reminded him of a bar at Starbucks, the bath water made him think of coffee, and the plastic cups became the Starbucks cups.

I’m actually halfway convinced he thought it was real when I pretended to drink his bath water.

Hey, if he can have an imagination like that, so can I.

In fact, I need to if I have any intentions of keeping up with him.


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Giving Deliberate “I’m Married” Vibes, As Necessary

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

22 months.

Consciously attempting to give someone “I’m married” vibes is not something I am used to having to do.

After all, I have so forgettable of a face that even people who are “good with faces” have a hard time remembering meeting me the first time.

But a couple of months ago, there was I minding my own business at Starbucks during my lunch break, reading a book on how to read people, when a college-aged looking girl asked me to watch her laptop while she went to the restroom.

When she returned, with a deadpan delivery, I said something like, “Your laptop is still there, so I must have intimidated any potential laptop thieves.”

That was just my non-boring way of relieving my job duties now that she had returned. But maybe it sent a different message?

Barely a minute later, she dropped her pen, which happened to roll to my direction. So of course, I picked up it and handed it to her, barely even looking her in the eyes, as to make the favor as generic as possible.

Then she started asking questions, like if I was also a student. The thought of someone mistaking me for a 22 year-old caught me off guard. After all, when I turned 22, the year was 2003!

By this point, I knew officially that I needed to bring my left hand to my chin, as to flash my wedding ring to her like a Batman signal. To no avail.

The questions kept coming and she ended up asking me what I did for a living. Sure, I have a day job, but I felt it necessary to go  ahead and cut straight to the chase:

“I write a daily blog column for a magazine’s website. It’s called Parents magazine.”

From there, I was able to throw in a “my wife and I” in conjunction to my son.

Whew. It was a relief to finally make that message clear: I’m married.

I was caught off-guard that day. I didn’t want to let the mystery continue for any longer than it needed to. At the same time though, I didn’t want to be rude to the nice and seemingly innocent girl.

It’s a delicate balance of being both direct and subtle in a case like this.

Personally, I don’t expect this to happen again anytime soon. Who knows? Maybe when I’m 42, someone will think I’m 31.

And if that’s the case, I’ll do the classic “left hand to the chin” move, followed by a “my wife and I.”

If that doesn’t work, I think I’ll just pick up my phone and casually give my wife a call right then and there.

Being flattered by a curious stranger who thinks I’m single; well, it does me no good.

There’s nothing good that can come out of me allowing myself to think for a second, “Man, I still got it. This chick digs me.”

That’s one of the many reasons I wear my wedding ring; especially when my wife and son aren’t around.

It’s an instant reminder, as if I needed it, that I already have a beautiful girl who digs me, and I’ve been married to her for over 4 years.

These days, it’s not always enough to give “I’m married” vibes.

Sometimes you have to give the “I’m happily married” vibes instead.


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Taking My Toddler Out For Coffee… I Mean, “Fluffy”

Friday, October 5th, 2012

22 months.

When you’re a vegetarian, with a toddler, it’s beyond pointless to “go out to eat.”

Can I pay $12 for pasta with veggies while my antsy toddler battles a meltdown because he’s strapped into a chair in a crowded, public place?

Ah, thanks, but no thanks.

So instead, we go out for coffee. Yes, four dollar coffee.

And no, we’re not impressed that McDonald’s won the blind taste test for its coffee or whatever.

We actually own an espresso maker, but part of the fun in fancy coffee is having someone else make it for you.

By now, it’s pretty much our tradition on Saturday mornings to start out the day right at a new place in Nashville called The Well.

(It’s actually a non-profit joint that buys clean water for people in the world who don’t have access to it.)

As you can see in the picture above, we get our son Jack a serving of whipped cream.

He calls it his “fluffy.”

Of course, we also tend to make an appearance at that other place you may have heard of, Starbucks. In fact, anytime we drive by one, Jack recognizes the green and white logo and says, “I want fluffy!”

Usually, he gets his fluffy. Because that means we get our coffee.

Part of the allure of coffee shops is the laid back, jazz-infused, sophisticated atmosphere. It puts us the parents, as well as, our toddler son at ease.

Getting coffee (and fluffy) helps us to remember it’s the weekend, amongst all the catching up we have to do during those two days.

Jack can get away with exploring the inside of a lazy coffee shop much more easily than he could a busy restaurant.

Plus, he loves it because it’s the only time we ever let him eat anything with sugar in it.

So needless to say, he quietly enjoys his fluffy; no discipline required while we’re there.

He’s pretty Joe Cool about it.


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