Why name it Zip & Zen


On the first day of school last year one of my boys said: “I wonder what I’m going to teach Mr. Dan this year”.    God love him, my guy's self-esteem is sky high and he’s going to change the world as long as I can keep him out of juvenile detention.   I had so many lofty goals for my kids before they were born.   I just knew that if I read the right books and stuck to a sleep schedule they would never threaten to rip their Grandmother's arms off during a casual dinner (true story).    I think about that naive well rested girl often.   It’s amazing what my bouncing baby boys have taught me even when I didn’t want to learn. Lesson number one, if It’s mostly clean you can eat or wear it just to make life easier.  

Have you ever had a new puppy?   They are just pure love and full force energy, happy to see you, always up to play and often times damaging things while looking adorable.   That’s my Zip, he’s my boy that wakes up with a smile that will melt your heart and a hug that you can tell he means with every bone and muscle in his body.   He’s never met someone that wasn’t his friend and he just adores having a good time. I imagine he will be “that guy” at the frat party that you challenge to do any number of ridiculous things.    He’s easily distractible, vibrating with pure energy, he is Tigger if Tigger was human and loved to build Legos and eat carbs.  He teaches joy and forgiveness and reminds me that I can sometimes be too rigid.  

Where Zip vibrates and bounces, my Zen charms and tests.   Determined, smart, funny and above all else his own human.   He says weird things, they are hilarious but also have me storing money away for a future therapist.  Hyper-aware of others reactions he knows how to shock people to get a laugh, even if it’s the nervous kind because they are scared for their lives.  He is intense, in the very best sense of the word.   He teaches limitations, introspection and comedic timing.   He’s always prepared for the worst but smart enough to learn how to have fun.   

If sheer force of will could change who a person was born to be, I would have two lovely young boys that enjoy nice walks at sunset, long hours with a good book and talking endlessly about their feelings.   Doesn’t that just sound boring!   I’m just as determined as my little Zen, I spent years ramming my head up against the God given personalities of my kids trying to make them “better”.  There is a note locked in our firebox that I made Lucas sign, it gave me the right to run away when the kids were little and come back when they were grown without him judging me.    I’ve come a long way folks, and I only ran away a couple times.  This job, the most important I’ve had in my life, is far less complicated than I originally thought.  Make sure to feed and water them, provide shelter and unconditional love, the rest is already there waiting to blossom.    Kids are really just like houseplants, except they break things you really like and cost a lot more money.  

I wish it had been easier for me to learn the lessons my Zip and Zen have been teaching me, but I’m sure glad I didn’t give up.   This blog is named after them, the teachers of my master's degree in hostage negotiation and stain removal.