TCAP time not really about learning

Standard: (adj.) used or accepted as normal or average.

One Saturday near the end of my junior year of high school, I got in the family car and drove across town to Christian Brothers High School, my designated testing location for the ACT.

I’d gone to CBHS as a student my freshman year before leaving for Kirby High School. The Lasallian Brother who was proctor over the test remembered me, though, and he remembered my father and an uncle, both of whom had been less-than-stellar students.READ MORE


Look at the bright side of impromptu winter holidays

We’re in the midst of the long run-on sentence of winter, punctuated only by a staggering MLGW bill, a stomach bug and the occasional icy holiday.

But spring break is a matter of weeks away. Say it with me: Spring break is only weeks away.

There is nothing better than Memphis in springtime, is there? The dogwoods bloom, the birds chirp, and the azaleas blossom. Then, of course, comes the pollen. The green stuff fills the air, covers our cars and invades our noses, bringing watery eyes and itchy throats.READ MORE


Mailbox full of milestones for oldest son — like taxes and college

My oldest son, Calvin, began working last fall at an East Memphis veterinary clinic. He goes in after school for a few hours a couple of days a week and on Saturdays. Last weekend, we logged on to TurboTax, and he filled out his first-ever income tax return. In a matter of weeks, $38 in refunded cash will be deposited electronically into his bank account.

Welcome to the real world of tax responsibility in the 21st century, Calvin.READ MORE


Teenagers don’t need theater class to be dramatic

My daughter is taking a theater class at White Station Middle School this semester. She’s staring down at the teen years, and someone is going to spend his time teaching her drama.

She’ll turn 13 later this year, but the teenage attitude has already let itself into our house, taken a seat at the dining table and asked me to pass the potatoes. “Whenever — it’s not like I’m starving over here or anything.”

Which came first: this inclination toward melodrama or the television shows that perpetuate it on Nickelodeon? I’ve never really sat and watched one of those shows, not on purpose anyway, but they’re constantly on, and I can hear them the same way I can hear the humming of the air conditioner or the traffic on the street. It’s background noise to 44-year-old fathers.READ MORE


In 8-year-old girls basketball, beware the no-look pass

Eight-year-old Genevieve recently started playing organized basketball. It is her first time playing a sport and her first real attempt at any organization whatsoever. She’s still a wild card.

We’re not a sports family. Oh, we enjoy rallying around the home teams — the Grizzlies, the Tigers, the Redbirds. But with the exception of 13-year-old Joshua, we don’t rally around “SportsCenter.” I understand just enough to know when Genevieve is in the paint or out, when she’s offense or defense, and when to cheer for her and when to pretend I’m there for someone else.READ MORE


Technology can bring families closer

cell phone

“hi daddy how r u?”

I sat down to write this column yet have been constantly interrupted by the phone pinging away next to me. It’s a text from my daughter. Followed by another, and then another. She’s not away at college or across town. She isn’t grocery shopping or dining out with friends. She’s in the next room. I can practically hear her thumbs on the keypad from here.READ MORE


Slow down, look around, and experience holidays like a child again


The Ghost of Christmas Past recently visited upon me memories from the 1970s. There was a G.I. Joe action figure that stood a foot high and an Evel Knievel motorcycle that sped across the hardwood floors of our Midtown home. There was the “A Charlie Brown Christmas” special that aired one night and one night only. If you missed it, too bad: It would be another 365 days until you had another chance.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. What I’m wondering is whether the holidays of my youth were a simpler time.READ MORE


Tired parents left to scrape together dinner at ‘The Fourth Line’


Over time, parents begin to look at life differently.

By time, I mean a week. And by life, I mean dinner. The beginning of a week — Sunday — is made for big family dinners such as pot roast with potatoes, a green vegetable and a starch; homemade banana pudding or cake for dessert. Perhaps spaghetti with meatballs, garlic bread and salad is more to your liking, with homemade banana pudding or cake.READ MORE