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Failing At Parenting In The Worst Possible Way

April 13, 2015

I wasn’t going to Be abel to get it done. The pain in my stomach had nothing to do with any physical ailment. I was going to fail in a commitment to my son and the pain of it was killing me inside.

The assignment from my son’s freshman Spanish class had been simple enough. Create a 3-5 minute video cooking a traditional Latin American dish. 

Dad, can you video me cooking something for my Spanish class?

Sure son, just let me know when you want to do it. 

And then I went on with my busy life. My life is busy, but I’ve always been committed to being there for the things that are really important. (It’s What I Do…Not Who I Am) I could certainly make a simple video. I have a phone, a digital camera, an iPad, I even have an old school videotape camera. Of course, we could get this done.

Hey, Dad, do you think we can do that video on Saturday?

Yeah. Wasn’t it already due?

Well, I’ll turn it in late. You were busy and I thought maybe I’d just skip the whole thing.

No, you don’t need to do that. We’ll do it Saturday. I’ve got some other stuff going on, but we’ll schedule around your cooking. You just let me know when you want to do it.

And he did. He wanted to record at 1:00 pm. I got up early on Saturday. I had to replace the passenger side door on my “Iron Man” Car. (My Car The Super Hero.) 

To replace the door, you have to remove the fender. To remove the fender, you have to remove the headlight and wheel. It’s a bit involved. And I had a commitment at 6:00 PM to be at the temple. 

And then work called. . .Not a huge outage. Just an authentication issue for all my agents. As normal, we were the first supplier to report a problem to the client. I left my car up on blocks with the wheel removed and the headlight out. 

I have to admit I had less patience than normal on my outage call. Finally, we had everyone back up and running. 

Okay, I’m going to let you guys figure out the lost agent minutes. I’m up to my elbows in a car repair. 

Have fun, Rodney.

Yeah, it was fun. But, knowing there was a deadline made it just a little stressful. Mid morning I finally got the fender and the door removed. I was switching all the hardware from the old door to the new door when my son appeared. 

Dad, about that video. . .

What? Is it one o’clock already? 

No. Just that I looked at the instructions and the food needs to chill for two hours after I do the first part.

So,  your want to put off the filming until 3:00? 

No, we need to film at 1:00 and then again at 3:00.

Sure. No problem. Come get me when you want to start.

I was switching the interior door panel, the door handle, the mirror and the lock from the old door to the new door. Most of it went pretty easily until I got to the lock. I called my neighbor who had done the driver’s door.

Do I have to take the guts of the door out?

No. There is a 10mm bolt that you can access after removing the panel. Then, turn the lock a quarter turn clockwise and it should drop out. You’ll have to move the rod that connects to the lock and the wiring of course. 

The problem was I’d found the bolt, but couldn’t get to the lock from the back of the door. I had been struggling with it for an hour. 

Hey Dad, can we do the video now?

Huh? Oh, yeah. Yeah, sure. Just let me wash my hands. 

We’d suggested that my son write a script. He wanted to do it live. We did a couple of different takes of the beginning. Typically, each video would end with “Can you pausse it?” 

I wasn’t worried though. That’s what video editing software is for. 

He mixed milk and butter, onions and lemon juice. Then added hamburger. It looked delicous. Unfortunately, much of the video was simply watching a pan cook. 

I wasn’t worried though. That’s also what video editing software is for. 

A final shot of him putting it in the refridgerator and we were done for a couple hours. 

I finally got the lock out. I did have to pull the guts out of the door. But, only a few. I started reassembling the door. Next was to mount it on the car. Mouting a door is a challenging process. Worse when you are doing it alone. I ended up using a floor jack to hold up the other end of the door. It fit perfectly the first time. Next up was the fender. 


Yeah? Oh, right. Ready for the next part?


Just let me wash my hands. 

He took the hamburger mixture and formed it into the shape of eggroles. He then rolled it in crushed crackers and then fried it. And with that, he was done. Great.

The clock was not my friend. I needed my car back together before my 6:00 event. I finished the fender and started on the wheel cowling. Instead of the problem of too many bolts, I ended up with not enough. No matter, I used some from the Red Lexus. 

Minutes were ticking by.

Daddy, your phone was ringing.

Can you bring it to me?

My daughter appeared with with phone and set it on the car. If it was a work call they would leave a message. . .No corresponding tone. Good, whomever it was could call back. 

Next the headlight went in. A support broke when it came out, so it was supported by only two bolts instead of three. No matter, I’ll swap out one of the Red Lexus’ headlights later.


A car in the street was honking at someone. 


Just about got the last bolt. 


Hey, Rodney!


Yeah, I called but you didn’t pick up. We’re headed over to the temple now.

Okay, I need to be in the temple at 6:00?

Six thirty. 

Great. See you there.

Finally, the wheel went on. Torque each lugnut to 100 ft/lbs, drop the car off the jack stand and run for the shower.
The event at the temple went great, but I didn’t get home until after 10:00 PM.

I wasn’t worried. Even though I was leaving on a trip on Sunday, my flight wasn’t until 3:30. Plenty of time to edit my son’s video. I even slept in late. 

But, my flight wasn’t at 3:30. It was at 1:30. I figured it out when I went to print my itinerary. And the minutes were ticking by and I couldn’t make it work. 

My phone records in MP4 format. Windows Movie Maker cannot read MP4. You just need a new codec, or format file, right? Sure, and all the ones I checked were full of malware, spyware and probably viruses. 

I’m a tech guy. This was a tech problem. I should be able to fix it. My Vista machine (Don’t judge me) didn’t have a program that would read the MP4 files.  

And I wasn’t going to make it. 

I stopped trying and went to pack and take a shower. I travel enough that packing is a 15 minute job. 

Perhaps I was approaching it wrong. Maybe instead of finding a codec, I should find a converter between MP4 and Windows Media Format (WMF)? I still had 20 minutes before my time to leave. 

Maybe I would make it. 

I found one that didn’t look like it was from a spyware company. 

YES! They do conversions. I downloaded the file. It was agonizing watching the progress bar. Every minute of download time was one less minute to get the work done. 

How long would it take to learn a new piece of software? Probably longer than I had. Still I was making progress. 

Nice! There were prompts on where to load the files and where to export them to. I was going to make it.

NO! The trial version wasn’t going to work. It wasn’t me to upgrade. Was it worth $40 to make this work? Was it worth $40 to keep my committment to my son? 

And there went $39.95. 

And I hit my time limit. I wasn’t done and it was time to leave. What would you do?

I started eating into my buffer. All Project managers have a buffer. Mine looked like this:

  • Flight Time: 1:30 PM
  • Time to airport: 45 min
  • Leave for airport: 11:30

Plus there’s always a “What is the contingency plan?” 

Worst case? I have to reschedule for a later flight. There’s a 3:30 flight. I know this because I’m scheduled on that flight next week. 

I got the files converted and I started working through the editing. When I started it was 14 minutes long. The requirement was 3-5 minutes. I started cutting with one eye toward shorting it, and the other eye watching the clock. 

I made it through about half. The video file said 4:32 and the clock said it was past time to go. 

Did I make it? 

It depends on how you measure it. I provided my son a video of him making a dish. But, the editing was terrible. I was rushed. I could have done much better. 

I’m not sure if he was disappointed, but I knew that I was. 

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and one grandchild. 
Follow him on Twitter (@rodneymbliss
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One Comment
  1. I have definitely been there, too many times.

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