10 Tips from 25 Years of Marriage – From Sweetest Day Toilet Repairs to Bathtub Duty

Twenty-five years ago, I was playing tennis the morning of my marriage.  I don’t normally whack myself in the forehead with my tennis racquet but that was what happened.  Look carefully at my wedding pictures and you’ll see the little knot.  My blushing bride Patrice couldn’t stop laughing and said, “Well that was a dumb thing to do!” Twenty five years ago–and it just happened–that tennis game, wedding, birth of two kids, two houses, eight cats, four barbecue grills and 4,000 students just happened, Somehow our marriage keeps moving along at light speed–after just a quick two week period of dating and six month engagement.  We’d eaten lunch together for the first two months of the school year in the teacher’s lounge but it started in the school parking lot as we left a faculty meeting. Patrice:  “So what are you doing tonight?” Kevin:  “Um.  I was thinking about asking you out.” We were… Read More…

The Legacy and Questionable Power of My Father’s Puns

My dad had three puns that were so bad, they were only permitted on his birthday–and one was pretty challenging to employ on June 28th. Jim Walsh would have been 76 years old today.  He came from a long line of punsters and its with mixed emotions that his grandchildren also subject unsuspecting audiences to his legacy. At his funeral, 19 years ago, we passed around two leather-bound green books for folks to jot down their favorite memories of my dad, a precurser to the amazing testimonial strings found on Facebook at the passing of a loved one. My college buddy Dan added two of his favorite groaners from my dad’s visit to campus on his tri-state route, often in the South Bend area selling windshields to RV companies.  (“I’m like Lenin–I’m in glass.”).  He’d not only take me out for pizza, but invited me to bring along some pals–nothing like a… Read More…

Recipe for a Great Mom – Reflections from One Outnumbered Male

I was sifting through my students’ essays when I came across this undeniably true thesis statement… “If it weren’t for my mom, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” I resisted the urge to add to the margin in snarky red ink, “No kidding.”–maybe even with a little smiley face.  After 25 years, that line is still is one of my favorites along with “UFOs are possible” (which is true, they are unidentified) and “Mr. Walsh, you don’t really read these journal entries, do you?” (to which I added, “No”). But on Mother’s Day, I’ll borrow a bit from my student’s paper and tweak it a bit… “If it weren’t for the mothers in my life, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.” When my wife laughs that I’m often more of a feminist than she is–I observe it’s not from any noble ideal, it was simply self-preservation–growing up with my dad traveling 3 days a week… Read More…

Mr. Greene’s Show Tags: Lanyards and Legacy of One Man’s Life

I don’t think I am alone here. When you reach a certain age and stage in life, you come to the table with a certain level of common sense and experience that you think backs up your values, beliefs and opinions. So, there are many areas of life that I have experience in but I am not a professional. I take my combined experience — mother, wife, sister, daughter, friend, lawyer, teacher, book lover, movie and theatre lover— and I use it all when I process the world around me. Situation dependent, certain parts of this experience may overshadow others. Many have seen my mama bear take charge; others the lawyer, teacher, friend etc. Whichever controls, I universally try to follow the signs. I’m on overload this week.  The sudden unexpected death of my daughters’ theatre teacher and mentor, my friend, Micah Greene, set these wheels in motion.  Saturday, the… Read More…

Playpens, Curfews and Trust: Our Responsibility to Children

One of the longer hours you can put a teacher through isn’t monitoring lunch or that final 60 minutes before spring conferences are over–it’s at an in-service, the mandatory training that the state, city, superintendent or your principal inflicts upon educators.  Topics can range from the terrors of airborne pathogens to the correct way to open your laptop.  Michigan teachers are required to attend 30 such hours by law and most fall under the same sad irony found in the half-day seminar on the twenty-minute attention span. But somehow, in 1991, I found myself at a training that stays with me to this day.  Its metaphor was the playpen.  Al Dicken, who would later become my administrator when I changed school districts, was the trainer at a drug-awareness session. Al explained that when our kids are tiny, we place them in the playpen (or its transformer version since the late 80s, the… Read More…

“Me too!” – Graduation of a Kind Soul

“Me too!” My mom actually had a dress decorated for my three year-old daughter with her all-inclusive expression painted above a daisy. Abby came into my life five weeks before my father left it.  She was kind enough to arrive ten days early, at the respectable time of mid-afternoon for Patrice, who doesn’t mind a good night’s sleep.  Abby’s is a good old soul and today she’s done with high school. We were worried that her kindness would make her vulnerable, the same happy-wherever-she-is spirit that endeared my father to so many people.  But our fears were eliminated one day while driving with both kids in their car seats behind us.  (I still believe a wonderful baby shower gift would be one of those Plexiglas barriers found in squad cars and taxis.) “Aidan took my bear!” she screamed in protest to the universe. “Aidan…” I reasoned, invoking my inner Mike Brady. “What?”… Read More…

New Podcast: Fathers, Daughters, Wedding Songs & Horse Racing with Ladd Biro

Ladd Biro has loved music and been a performer his entire life–but never wanted to be a starving artist either.  For 40 years he has worked in the entirely non-9-to-5 world of the track–and been in bands and created albums. He contacted Kevin Walsh about creating a music video for “In Days Gone By,” a song that a friend of his wrote for his niece’s wedding–dedicated to the special relationship between a father and daughter. Ladd joins Kevin as they discuss: The world of horse-racing Loving music–and keeping it as part of your life The creation of “In Days Gone By” Raiding photo albums of family and friends The universal appeal of daddy/daughter dances What makes a band work Mars and Venus–and editing a video for both Ladd’s album, Transition, from Roscoe Records Check out the video of “In Days Gone By” on YouTube.

“Let Jim Run His Own Funeral” – Irish Laughter Through Tears

At the end of the 98-hour day that my father died, it surprised me that the hardest part wasn’t hearing “He didn’t survive surgery,” but instead having to tell others–the slow pressing of numbers of the phone, knowing that someone’s life is going to be changed right after, “Hi Kev.  What’s up?” In a strange twist of fate that afternoon, my three sisters, Katie, Colleen and Maureen were all en route to Detroit Metro within an hour of one another.  When they had left Chicago and New York, after our call from the hospital, they knew only what we were told—“Dad’s been in a bad accident—he’s in surgery.”  By the time they were air-born, my mom and I were told of his passing and taken upstairs to see his body.  My mom’s friends Anne and Betty volunteered to drive us to the airport so we could meet the girls—we were cutting it close, so we just hopped… Read More…

Pomp and Circumstantial Evidence: What’s in a Smile at Graduation Time?

I hadn’t seen this smile from my son in a long time… As you might expect, we don’t dress this formally around the yard most days. It was prom night last Thursday and Aidan and his date Katie had just finished twelfth grade two days earlier. And, aside from the $200+ to rent the tux, we also got this pretty rare expression thrown in with the shiny shoes. In fact, perhaps the last time we’d seen that smile was right before Aidan started his career as a student… We were heading down to Indianapolis to visit some friends and stopped at a rest stop to find one of those trees that you’ll spend the rest of your life just walking by. I grabbed Aidan and stuck him up in the branches and you’d think he’d just been taken to Disney World. One of my favorite Mark Twain nuggets is: “Why… Read More…

Saturday Morning Marriage-Rush: Families Racing Against Their Government

* Non-Surprising Update After 7 Hours since this original post:  “The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, after first signaling it would not intervene in Michigan’s gay marriage case until Tuesday, posted a new order late Saturday imposing a stay in the case until Wednesday.’ (link) The Oklahoma land-rush scene from Far and Away, best illustrates what’s happening this morning in many county clerk’s offices in Michigan.  Desperate families given a brief window of opportunity to give their children the same rights and opportunities as other American kids–fully expecting the window to be slammed shut at any moment. Free land–if you can out-run or out-wit your opponents.  Unfortunately, families in line right now are finding their opponent their own state leadership.  You need to move fast and be ready to deal with cheaters. Sadly, too few people trust the State of Michigan to do what is right.  My cousin Jenny… Read More…

Making People Feel Like Dummies: Swimming the Treacherous Waters of Sheldons

I’ve had some pretty memorable conversations at the checkout counter at Radio Shack: “So you need a male-to-male connector…” (I was fourteen, buying some cables for my stereo–a bit startled by this apparent pickup line.) “Can I please have your address?” (Perhaps another line, but I was just paying cash.) And my favorite, when I was buying a 25-foot audio cable… “May I ask what you’ll be using this for?” The guy was implying that purchasing an audio cable to run video through a non-gold-plated triple-insulated cable may not only ruin the quality of my picture but perhaps offset the precarious balance of the Middle East peace talks. “Thank you for shopping with us…dummy.” Radio Shack has survived, somehow, by cornering the market of oddball technical needs at crazily marked up prices.  And, with the development of any specialty, there comes the inevitable feeling of invincibility and irreplaceablilty.  I’ve seen… Read More…

Christmas Carol Demolition Squad: Revisiting a 3 and 5 Year-Old’s Medley, Thirteen Years Later

It’s just six minutes of random videotape from thirteen years ago as the kids decorate a Christmas tree.  It’s funny what passes for nothing at the time but turns into family legend.  Thanks to my kids for letting me post these brief video clips and for not minding an interview on-location a couple days ago (final clip). The 2000 model of Abby (3) and Aidan (5) had decided it was time to add the candy canes to the tree.  As a kindergartener, it was very clear to my son what the pecking order would be–and not just for tree-trimming .  My daughter, in a calm “no,” simply vetoes the maneuver and moves to the front of the line when dad asks for a song. She continues to ignore her brother, whose attempts to bastardize the classic “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” seem to be bothering only the director… So Abby gets… Read More…

The Facebook Birthday Fix: Evidence for Defending Your Life

Today is my wife’s birthday and, like a true Facebook lurker, I can’t help but drift into her page and see the many greetings coming from all walks of her life. Patrice is one of those rare people whose default setting is funny, matter-of-fact, wise, generous, caring and, somehow, so modest she thinks she isn’t really any of these. Small wonder that she’s had the same girls in her scout troop for over ten years. Reading the posts of all the lives she’s touched, I’ve am impressed by how many agree with her wise husband. Facebook has made it incredibly easy for me to be considerate. It sends me nudges about my friends’ birthdays and has moved their big days to the top-right of my screen. When I first joined, it was late August 2008 and a month later when my birthday hit I was so surprised by not only… Read More…

“Gobble Gobble!” Thanksgiving, Northern Michigan and Family

Perhaps Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because it’s front-loaded.  All the work is done on the first day and the rest of the weekend is comprised of football, avoiding the mall and general digestion. Throughout the late 1970s and into the early 1990s,when the above couch wasn’t full of random cousins it served as my bed.  In 1984, I was a college sophomore, stressed out completely, and couldn’t wait to drive with my family five hours north to my Aunt Joan and Uncle Bill’s cottage on Oden Island, just north of Petoskey, Michigan. We’d load up the station wagon, pray for no icy roads on Wednesday evening and get going on I-75, along with a couple thousand other travelers–some, like us, not wearing hunting orange and plaid. It was one of those fatigued moments of joy when we’d drive across the steep bridge to the island and down the road… Read More…

Go Pick on Someone the Size of a House: “Bullying” in the NFL

Yet another victim has fallen into the hungry maw of bullies. Another Rebecca Sedwick? Another Phoebe Prince? Thankfully, this is a man who did not die by his own hand, but still martyred himself to make us aware of an insidious problem. Jonathan Martin, an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins, endured a hardscrabble life, with nothing to go on but the example of a struggling Harvard professor for a father and a mother scraping by as a corporate lawyer. He grew to be a whisp of a figure, a mere 6’5″, 312 pounds, living no doubt on Ramen noodles and a paltry $390,000 salary in 2012. He was constantly mocked at work–at one point forced to pay for the expensive meals of his teammates. Ironically, it was at the lunch table that he’d had enough. He sat down, and everyone at the table got up. That was it. Off… Read More…

Like Razor Blades and Apples: The Top 5 Halloween Sours that Soon Become Sweet

Some enterprising psychopath, according to my childhood’s urban legend, decided to bury a razor blade into an apple for the ultimate Halloween trick.  They were the carefree days long before candy-inspections were rivaled only by airport shoe-screenings.  It was a time of unlocked doors, keys in ignitions and Baby Jesuses safe in city hall nativity scenes. And, faster than you can say tetanus shot, one hungry kid reaches into his pillow case, pulls out the booby-trapped apple and gets an instant cleft-palate. The innocence was gone and soon Tylenol was going to find itself triple-wrapped. I remember being warned of this creep in the same hushed tones that I was warned to floss or else end up with the gum-lines of Lon Chaney… It’s the only time of year that we encourage our kids to scream in the night, befriend strangers–and even accept candy from them.  It’s that magical, cold,… Read More…

Killing Kids’ Questions: Critical Thinking OR Critical of Thinking?

Bad parent!  I could read it in the old woman’s eyes as my eight year-old son let the door shut in front of her.  “Why do I have to hold the door open for her?” he pleaded to my embarrassed scolding. “She wasn’t carrying anything.” “Because it’s polite.” “Why?” “Why what?” “Why is it polite?” “Because that way she won’t have to open the door.” “But why can’t she do it herself?” It was bad enough to get the old lady’s glare, now I got the pitiful head-shake as she huffed past us. “Dad!”  He demanded, “Why?” I snapped, “Just do it, okay?” That was probably the moment, as I retro-grade my parenting ten years later.  Maybe that was when I had cut my son’s natural curiosity right in half.  Nature or nurture?  Do we, by default, stop asking questions as we get older?  Or are those questions driven from… Read More…

Imaginary Guns and Real Bullets

I’m pressed up against a wall, waiting.  Hunting.  The gun I’m holding is inches from my nose, my two hands folded as if I’m praying.  My enemy, James Lyons, is around the corner, and I’m about to spring as soon as he comes into view.  I’m secret agent John Lennon, and besides making the greatest music ever, I also work for the government, saving the world.  Yesterday, I was Captain Kirk.  I’m 12 years old at 6th grade recess, the gun is imaginary, but I did actually save the world.  (Things are still going on, right?  You’re welcome.)  Let me tell you a little something not about myself:  I am not a gun advocate, a gun owner or (liberal alert) a gun tolerator.  I am a Tarantino film-lover, but that’s about the extent of it.  I m also not the rhythm guitarist/vocalist/composer for the greatest band ever.  I was never a starship captain,… Read More…

Autumn Falls in South Florida

Autumn…the year’s last, loveliest smile…William Cullen Bryant. I love seasons…that’s why I live in a place that skips the @#%ty ones…Daniel Tosh Autumn fell on us on a Sunday this year.  As I type this, it’s a brisk, autumny 85 degrees in downtown Miami. There will be a hard rainfall later today from about 5:45 until 6:05, depending on what time I get on I-95 to go home.  The rainy season will most likely be over sometime this month  It’s football season, and after the Sunday game, kids spill out of their houses to play outside in their favorite team T-shirts and shorts.  Since this is South Florida, the shirts will read NY Jets and NY Giants. We’ll all try to enjoy this last bit of outdoor activity before the winter makes the outdoors unbearable, with temperatures dipping down to the mid 60’s, when Floridians shut their doors and grab… Read More…

Little League Purgatory: Nostalgia is 20-20 and Cornfields Line All Outfields

It might have been a Hallmark Channel’s special–everyone was completely bathed in sunset gold; there was even corn behind the outfield.  But hidden in this pastoral setting lies the fine print for parents–the eleventh commandment of my nephew’s little league game. “If a new inning doth start ere 8:30 PM, the game must continue until both sides have batted completely.” Coach-pitch is that bastard child, somewhere between tee-ball and concussion–when dads (mainly) publicly humiliate themselves by missing the plate repeatedly–at least that was the way it was way back when my kids played. Now, after too many trips to the chiropractor or too many threatened lawsuits, some clever dude invented a gadget that throws a perfect pitch each time. But the with the added time it takes to catch the ball from a young infielder, transfer it from your glove, load it in the slot, step on the pedal, release… Read More…