Visit our archive

No, stop right there — solitary confinement is NOT a good idea for ‘challenging’ kids…

Let me explain what Alcatraz taught me about parenting…

Back in my feathered mullet days in the early 90s, (okay it was the mid 90s – I was a late bloomer to the mullet lifestyle) I took a trip to San Francisco.  Within my top 10 Bucket list items was Alcatraz.  I love prisons.  I am not sure why – I love prison movies – from the Shawshank Redemption to Tom Selleck’s moustache in “An Innocent Man”.    Ever since my grade 12 English term paper on Alcatraz, I couldn’t wait to visit the granddaddy of all prisons.

I leapt off the ferry wearing my faded tacky “Dig-Dash-Dive” Alcatraz Triathlon shirt.  Having done my homework, I beelined straight for the AUDIO guided tour booth.  While you wore crazy unhygienic orange headphones, real inmates and guards would ‘walk’ you around the Rock, telling you crazy fun facts and pointing out interesting sights.  So I got my map, my headphones, and video camera ready for the experience of a lifetime.  I even rigged my headphones to play right into the microphone of my video camera.   So I started my Alcatraz tour… and you know what the highlight was?

I have no freakin’ idea!  I was so consumed on capturing the entire tour on film that I missed the entire experience!  I didn’t experience the ROCK and regret that to this day.  I didn’t FEEL what life must have been like on the world’s most notorious prison that housed the most notorious bad dudes of all time.  I didn’t sit in the mess hall or recreation yard and dream about the constant tension, pecking order, and shivs.  No, I totally missed it because I wasn’t PRESENT.

Sometimes when we spend time with our children, we spend so much time capturing and preserving the moment, that we miss the actual moment.   From videotaping an entire ballet performance to capturing all 3 periods of a peewee hockey game from 3 different vantage points, we spend too much time BEHIND the camera.  Our children’s lives are flashing by at alarming speed.  So my soapbox advice is to BE PRESENT.    You may or may not ever watch those recordings so please LIVE IN THE MOMENT!  Turn your phone off, put the camera down or delegate the recording to someone else.   Please ENJOY your children lives and experiences NOW.   Talk to any parent of adult children, they will all say the same thing, “ENJOY IT NOW because they grow up so fast…”  – so DO it!

This past April, I spent opening day weekend at FenwayPark, America’s most beloved ballpark, and home to my Boston Red Sox.  This was definitely another bucket list item, so I was armed with both a digital camera and video camera.  However with the ghosts of Alcatraz still haunting me, I got my footage and shots, BUT I also took time to just be present.  I sat still and soaked in the rich history of this incredible baseball park – daydreaming of loyal Boston crowds, dressed in fedoras and pretty dresses, cheering another Babe Ruth homerun over the Green Monster.

The only thing that would have made the trip complete was to have my Red Sox loving son there with me.  Sure I can show him the pictures and footage, but, like his childhood, there is nothing quite like experiencing everything first hand.   LIVE IN THE PRESENT…

Please add your comments == as a little bonus I will send along photos of my glorious feathered 90s mullet to all who post their thoughts…

Until next time…



  • Hugh Jun 12, 2012 Reply

    Jeff, this is sooooo true.

    Not just parents – everyone needs to unplug and smell the farts. I watch people in airport waiting lounges and you would think it would kill them to lift the eyes and just smile (appropriately) at someone.

    Thanks for this one, keep them coming – I’m getting converted.

  • M Dyck Jun 12, 2012 Reply

    Couldn’t agree more, Jeff. My wife is constantly throwing me the camera at birthday parties and other significant events. Please take photo’s. Goan! I enjoy take the odd picture here and there, but I miss so much trying to record the whole event. So now I take a couple dozen pictures really early, really quickly, with little regard to lighting, poses, the scene, anything like that… then I put the camera away (unless something really awesome happens).

    I’m starting to get the reputation of being a really poor photographer, which is actually pretty close to the truth, but regardless the camera comes flying in my direction less and less. My daughter, on the other hand, is getting very intereted in photography so WIN WIN!

    And now bring on the mullet pictures… I may have some too with my No Means No t-shirt I wore until it was a tattered rag!

  • Ken Langedyk Jun 12, 2012 Reply

    Hi Jeff,

    I loved the article. How many times have we all seen parents at the park/game/holidays/whatever and trying to video tape everything. Boy are they missing it!

    My mom and dad took very few if any photos of our holidays. The going joke was that they forgot the camera. But you know, they always lived in the moment and they were not the type to look back at the photos or waste time taking hundreds of them. They still live in the moment to this day. I still remember the holidays we had together and it is not the photos I remember. I remember the moment and the fun times.

    I take very few photos at soccer games/camping/dirtbiking/etc. Instead I live in the moment just like my mom and dad.

    Life is great! Live in the moment and enjoy every minute of it!


  • Jeff Jul 3, 2012 Reply

    Thanks for chiming in fellas… I really strive to live in the moment, but then catch myself thinking about what an amazing moment it is and not wanting to ever forget this magic moment so I grab a camera — it’s a daily battle!

    • Sean Haughian Jul 18, 2012 Reply

      Well being an avid video’er ( i think I have 12 full VHS – yes VHS) tapes of my 2 darlings, I still try to find time to do this. I know it does take away from the experience at times but just last night we all sat down and watched ourselves jump off the dock together and eat smores etc at the cottage we rented last week. Part of the experience is reliving it because I know since I’ve hit 40 my memory seems to be fading……I also dont have ANY childhood videos only a few pictures so I guess it’s just me wanting to remember everything we did together and for them to relive it one day….great post though Jeffy now if you would one of those mullet pics for my collection please….

  • Name (Required)

  • Email (Required, but not published)

  • Url (Optional)

  • Comment (Required)