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Kevin Hartnett
Kevin Hartnett writes Growing Sideways, a blog about fatherhood. He also writes the "Brainiac" blog for the Boston Globe's Ideas section. You can follow Kevin on Twitter and on the Growing Sideways Facebook page.

Entries by Kevin Hartnett

The Unique Way Parents Walk Toward Their Children

(1) Comments | Posted October 14, 2014 | 6:18 PM

A few weeks ago, I was checking out at Whole Foods. The cashier was a woman, probably in her early fifties, with neat, short hair and a bright face. My sons -- Jay, 5, and Wally, 3 -- were with me, bouncing...

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Taller, Faster, Stronger: Little Boys Love Hierarchies

(0) Comments | Posted September 30, 2014 | 7:52 PM

Last night my wife, Caroline, had to fight her way out of the boys' room. She'd sung them their songs, given them their three hugs, but still, the questions came.

"Can ice break metal?" Wally, 3, asked.

"What if the ice is really thick?" Jay, 5, followed up.

Caroline closed...

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You Can't Treat a Second Child Like a First Child

(0) Comments | Posted September 25, 2014 | 3:00 PM

Yesterday afternoon while driving to Howard Field, Wally, my youngest son, said a funny thing: "I've never been to soccer practice." It was funny because he has been to soccer practice many times. We kept driving and Wally kept talking and eventually, his meaning became clear. When he said he'd...

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How Hard Should You Try To Contain Little Boys?

(9) Comments | Posted September 22, 2014 | 11:21 AM

If you were standing in the ocean and you kept getting battered by the surf, what would you do? Would you scream at the waves? Get out of their way? Put the ocean in time out?


I thought about this last Sunday...

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Searching for Kindness During an Airport Delay

(0) Comments | Posted October 23, 2013 | 12:19 PM

Last Thursday night, I ran into trouble coming home from Philadelphia. My flight was delayed an hour by weather, which meant I was going to miss my connecting flight to Columbia. I waited in line to rebook with the gate agent, resigning myself to the probability that wherever I slept...

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'We Always Make the Decisions That Make Our Lives Harder'

(2) Comments | Posted April 8, 2013 | 3:15 PM

Over the weekend, my wife and I spent time with some new friends. The fit is good: Like us, they have two young kids, and like us, they've been trying to figure out where they'll move in the fall. Their choice came down to Houston or Madison, Wisconsin, and at...

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When My Kids Become an Excuse to Be Less Generous Than I Should Be

(0) Comments | Posted September 28, 2012 | 1:00 PM

A couple weekends ago I waffled on whether to be kind to a stranger. I was at the playground with my sons, Jay, 3, and Wally, 1, when Jay found a smartphone face up in the wood chips. There was only one other family at the playground. They said it...

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The Truth I Didn't Want to Acknowledge About My Parenting

(1) Comments | Posted September 5, 2012 | 4:21 PM

Last Sunday morning was a disaster. My wife and I got our two young boys (Jay, 3, and Oscar, 1) out of bed on time, but then things went downhill. Jay kept beating up his brother. Wally smeared peanut butter through his hair then pooped in his fresh diaper. By...

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Playing Favorites

(0) Comments | Posted July 19, 2012 | 10:10 AM


On Saturday morning, Caroline, Jay, Wally and I pulled up in front of Ann Arbor's popular Northside Grill. Caroline and Jay got out to put our names in for a table while Wally and I swung around back to look for a parking spot....

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A Way to Remember: Celebrating My Late Mom's Birthday With My Sons

(13) Comments | Posted June 1, 2012 | 3:40 PM

This year would have been my mom's 56th birthday.

Every year on her birthday, for the last six years, I've tried to figure out how best to remember her. The first year after she died, I placed a picture of her in the breast pocket of my shirt before I...

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What Would an Extra $50,000 a Year Mean for How my Kids Grow Up?

(5) Comments | Posted May 18, 2012 | 6:17 PM

This morning at breakfast, we watched out the window as our neighbor's nine-year-old daughter Ava walked to school. She was bundled in a coat and scarf, which maybe was a touch warm for the weather, and carried her trumpet at her side.

We see Ava walk by most mornings, and...

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Teaching A Kid To Throw A Frisbee

(0) Comments | Posted April 29, 2012 | 3:41 PM

Ever since the weather turned, Jay and I have been spending time outside each morning before the day gets going. Yesterday we went outside and found a Frisbee lying in our driveway -- almost certainly left behind by the 8- and 12-year-old boys who live next door.

Jay picked up...

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The Two-Headed Concept Known as 'DaddyMama'

(6) Comments | Posted April 17, 2012 | 8:51 AM

A few nights ago, Caroline and I were asleep when Jay called out from his crib, "DaddyMama, is the door locked so the dog can't get in?"

I stammered a groggy reply -- "Yes, the door's locked, go back to sleep" -- which was all the reassurance Jay needed. Before...

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Jay Believes Completely In a Dad He Cannot See

(15) Comments | Posted April 8, 2012 | 1:22 PM

Recently, my wife Caroline was away giving a talk at the University of Western Ontario. (You can see the poster for her talk here -- she'd probably prefer I not post it, but I'm too proud.) While she was gone our two boys (Jay, 3, and Wally, 10...

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6 Ways to Get Kids to Do What You Want Them To

(13) Comments | Posted March 22, 2012 | 4:20 PM

Yesterday afternoon a little after 3pm, my infant son Wally was asleep upstairs and I was lying on the guest room bed working on my computer. My nearly three-year-old son Jay had been playing quietly in the family room but then I heard him begin...
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Escape Fantasies: Thoughts On Living Alone

(2) Comments | Posted March 19, 2012 | 2:40 PM


First a confession: A couple weeks ago I was driving back from Trader Joe's when I pulled over to the side of the road two blocks from home. There was a bag of lettuce sitting in the passenger seat. Caroline was home with Jay...

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A Father Figures Out When NOT To Say No

(28) Comments | Posted March 12, 2012 | 5:00 PM

Late on a Sunday afternoon, at the end of a weekend that featured "Downtown Abbey", Spanish brunch, and coq au vin, Caroline and I lay on the living room floor while the boys played and the sky faded to a somber Michigan twilight.

Jay sat at his small desk, using...

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