But Dad, It’s not my fault!!

Hot wings

You all sure are a bunch of smarty pants.  I make one little statement about Little Debbie Christmas Tree cakes, and my Facebook page, text message inbox, and even office are full of those scrumptious delicacies.  Never mind that I’ve struggled enough this month by eating the Turkey and Dressing sub 10 of the last 17 days at Sammies.  I blame Todd Hampton and Lisa Laderman for that.

But I digress….

Today was a real eye opener for me.  I busted a button on my pants.  I did this AFTER I ate one of those smores cookies, AFTER I had that Turkey and Dressing sandwich for the third day in a row.  If it not for that  meal, I’d still have a my favorite khakis at my disposal.  Good thing my mom taught me how to sew buttons on garments.

But I digress….

I’ve been taken aback by what I’ve witnessed this week, and it started before Monday night.  Earlier that day, I visited a correctional institution, and laughed, watching and listening to, what I assumed, were regulars.  They knew the ins and outs of how to navigate around the jail cell with ease.  How much it would cost to post bail, the documents required, and the time frame in which to get what they needed.

I once had a young man who was complaining about always being “picked on” by the police, and how he always seemed to get in trouble.  He always seemed to get into trouble when he was at the bar.  He asked how he could avoid trouble, I told him to change his playground.  “But Mr. Hatler, all my friends are there.”  My suggestion to him was maybe he needed to find new friends on a new playground.   But it wasn’t his fault that trouble found him, he was always just in the wrong place at the wrong time…..every….single…..time…..excuses.

Excuses…we all have them.  You know the old saying…we all have them, and most of them stink.

Excuses, we even heard them Saturday night and Sunday after the Vols lost a heartbreaker to Missouri.  If I heard/read one person say the off sides, on the on sides kick, “cost us the game” once, I heard it 100 times.


As Kevin Ward stated, after his Crockett County Cavaliers spectacular season came to an end on a tough play, “you never win the game on the first play of the game, and you never lose it on the last.”

I once had a college professor that “gave” me a ‘D’ all three times I took his class.  Of course, it wasn’t my fault, it was the professor’s.  After trying to explain this to my dad, he looked at me and said, “Son, in police work, it’s called a clue.  There is obviously something you’re doing that causes you to earn that grade.  How about let’s stop taking his classes, or, better yet, change your behavior.”

Good advice indeed……

It is just like my “weight problem” and the button that turned into a projectile today.  If I want to eat at the best sandwich shop around, I better get back in the gym.

If our children have smart mouths, it’s not the TV’s fault, it’s ours.

When your team loses, it’s not the one penalty that cost them the game, it’s the five bad plays they had throughout the game.

If your child gets sent to ISS because you told them to disrespect the teacher, it’s not the teacher’s fault.

When you get pulled over for speeding and the “cop was hiding”, it’s not he police officer’s fault, it’s yours.

If an adult whips around in the movie theater and tells your kid to quit kicking the back of their seat, don’t look at them like they have the problem.

Let’s look around and see what we have to be thankful for, instead of excuses for the things we don’t have.

My family wishes you and yours a Merry Thanksgiving!

I hope the Browns have hot wings.

Sure!! Nevermind………

Test didnt study for

When people ask me what my major was in college, I just shake my head and laugh.  I enjoyed my time at the University of Tennessee at Martin so much, that I finished my four year degree in eight years.  I never missed a semester, and was only on academic probation once.  I attempted 212 hours and passed 196.  I had a GREAT time.  The only reason I’m probably still not there is the purse strings were snipped, and a good woman “encouraged” me to get finished.

But I digress…

I hated to study.  Hated it.  There was always something better to do.  A game of Rook at the Church of Christ Student Center, round of golf, baseball practice, party at the Pike House, dinner at Jody’s parent’s house, volleyball game at the Pike House, intramurals…something.  I could always find another use of my time, and it didn’t take much coercion.  That pretty much was the same for my classes too.  If it wasn’t English Literature, a class on Shakespeare or Geoffrey Chaucer taught by Dr. Pigg, or one of Dr. Depta’s Southern Literature or poetry class, I really didn’t care to go.

Not taking my class work and academics seriously was one of the biggest mistakes of my life.  That story is for another day.

But I digress….

It’s official…I’m a father of girls.  I learned this the hard way on Tuesday afternoon as I made a visit to Martin Elementary.  My oldest wasn’t expecting to see me at her school that day.  I popped around the corner of the lunch room to surprise her, and she was mortified.  That lovable brown haired girl that jumps into my arms every day when I get home, was in utter shock and total embarrassment when she saw me.

I’ve seen that look before, but it was 24 years ago.

I have beautifully made, younger sister that is the epitome of class and grace.  She is, far and away, the strongest person I know.  The crap she had to deal with as a 14 year old freshman is one I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.  Yet she handled it better than her older brothers did.  Through it all, she remained faithful to her Church and the values our parents attempted to instill in us.

But there is another experience that she had to deal with that shaped her into the woman and mother she is today.  It involved an insanely short pair of cut off blue jean shorts,  a sleeveless AGR sweatshirt, brown sandals, and a trip to Shur Valu with her father.

My dad could dress….seriously dress.  Nice suits, French cuff shirts with cuff links, snazzy ties, and accessorized with any type of boot you could imagine.     Eel, Lizard, Elephant, snake,  buffalo, ostrich, you name it.  There were days he would throw on the felt cowboy hat for good measure.

However, when he got home from a taxing day at work, and my Mom asked him to go to the local grocery store,  he would always ask his daughter to accompany him.  Molly always said, “YES!!!”  Dad would tell her he was going to get his keys, and emerge from the bedroom looking like a University of Florida frat boy.

Those shorts looked great on Cindy Crawford in that Pepsi commercial….but not on a 40 year old man.

As you can well imagine, my sister suddenly had a change of heart, but Dad made her go anyway.  Imagine a 10 year old girl coming into her own, and going to the local grocery with her daddy, dressed like Wild Bill from Silence of the Lambs.

A guy who was the Deputy Chief of Police in Dallas, unbelievably smart, was appointed then elected to the School Board in Red Oak, and a Deacon in our church……..dressed like THAT.

I don’t know if he realized what he was teaching all of us by wearing that hideous outfit.  It has taken me becoming a father to start to grasp that unintended lesson.  Despite how stressful his job was, the professional appearance that he was expected to keep, the fact he had to lead all kinds of people, he was still just an old farm boy from Martin, Tennessee.

But most importantly, he was a normal father, living an extraordinary life with a wonderful wife and mother, trying to raise three kids the best way he knew how.

Life isn’t scripted.  It’s a daily pop quiz, fraught with lessons we just aren’t ready for.

And just when you think you know it all, out come the Cindy Crawford shorts.

Hurry Up!

Santa Turkey

Man what a weekend!!!  There was nothing cooler than getting to sit in the media box at halftime, and talk about how well our boys played against the #1 team in the country!  But I have to be totally honest, I felt like a complete hypocrite.  What started as color commentary for local high school football, has turned out to be more than I had ever hoped.  Now, I’m sitting here at halftime with the voice of the Skyhawks, Chris Brinkley, and he is asking me what we have to do in the second half to get touchdowns on the scoreboard, and I get to talking.  Why do I feel like a hypocrite???  I never played a down of football, and I grew up in football country.  It is blasphemy to be a male in the state of Texas and never play a down of organized football.  There’s a perfectly good explanation for that.

But I digress…..

I’m at my wits end with all this Christmas crap out already.  We haven’t even finished eating the candy from Halloween, and people are putting their trees up.  I refuse to even go in the attic until the day after Thanksgiving.

I’m still fighting the urge not to eat 14 mini Heath bars at one time, sweating the details on how I’m going to combat the 87 lbs of turkey I’m going to consume in two weeks, and the grocery store has eggnog and boiled custard already.  Really????  REALLY????

Of course the real problem are those delectable Little Debbie Christmas Tree cakes.  I swear, if I see those before November 27th, I’m going to have a come apart.  I’m back on Operation Skinny Hatler, and those things are the ultimate weapon of mass destruction.

But I digress…..

But not really….I got to wondering why are we in such a hurry to move to the next thing, and not enjoy what is right in front of us.  Why are we forcing our children to be All-Star athletes at seven years old, instead of riding bikes, playing checkers, going fishing, playing dress up and going to tea parties?

Why are we living through our children, and not with our children?

God knew what he was doing when he made me the father of two precious girls.  I’d be even worse if I had boys.

This was solidified for me Friday night after Westview High School finished ANOTHER eight win season.   People were so upset after losing in the first round of the TSSAA play-offs to a very good Milan team.  Keep in mind that the Chargers graduated a ton of talent last year, lost some players over the summer, and suffered some injuries late in the year. Coach Coady has averaged eight wins a year during his tenure at Westview….eight….

Despite that, fans, commentators, and parents  want to question everything……EVERYTHING.  Who played, who didn’t, why they schemed Milan this way, how come they called this play, how come he didn’t play that freshman that had such a good junior varsity season.

I’ll answer: Because he’s better, because they thought that was the best way to win, because that is their best play, and that freshman is 14 years old, and that 5′ 11″, 200 lb senior bowling ball running back that he’s going to have to tackle is on the backside of 18.

Eight wins…..EIGHT.

But all that is lost on the outcome of one single game.    Somewhere along the way the enjoyment of the eight wins that got the Chargers to the play-offs was lost.  Lost in the shuffle was seeing those young men get better and better every single week.

The fans were so looking forward to heading to next week’s game, that the joy of the one in front of them slipped by.

I’m scared to death that’s going on in all of our lives right now.   I wish I could spray some growth stunting chemical on both of the girls and keep them right here, the way they are right now.

But I can’t.

If their mother and I don’t watch it, those softball practices, ballet recitals, school, basketball skills camps, and piano practices are going to sneak up on us, and blow right past.  I want to enjoy their growth, help them rebound from their set backs, and celebrate their successes.

Most importantly, I want to enjoy being their daddy…..

I’m crying now, and I need some comfort food.  I wonder if I can find some Christmas Tree cakes.



$ 15K Coffee


I love my wife.  I really do.  We’re as different as night and day, and that works for us.  It is a work in progress, like most marriages are, but we work at it.  When she decides she “needs” something, she’s going to do it.  She runs, bikes, and swims.  I think working your day around physical exertion is time wasted.  I used to run…for punishment.

turkey trot

Every Thanksgiving Day for the past three years, some of the Hatler Grandkids (photo above) have run the Gold’s Gym Turkey Trot 5K in Jackson, Tennessee.  Everyone is just stunned that I don’t “train” or “get ready” for the “race.”  Like every other year, my athletically fat self showed up in 19 degree weather, and ran it a shade under 33 minutes.  I accomplished two of my three goals.  I didn’t come in last and I never stopped running, but I failed to break the 30 minute mark.  I still count it as a successful “race.”

But I digress……

Rewind to January 1, 2013.  Jody (my lovely bride) decides she’s going to be a coffee drinker.  She’s never been one, but we brew a pot, in a coffee maker that has never been used.  Within 48 hours, we have a Keurig, and an endless supply of “K-Cups”, or whatever they’re called.  Now, she can’t get her day started until she has her coffee.  Forget the fact that for (x) years she has been just fine without.  But hey, what the wife wants, the wife wants.  She needs the caffeine because she believes it gets her body going.

But I digress……

One of the biggest surprises after my election to the Weakley County School Board was to find out we actually get paid.  Believe it or not, it is state law that School Board members are to be compensated a minimum of $ 4 per day.  I know….ridiculous.  Being a public servant is about performing your duties for the constituents, free of charge………….or so I thought.

This past Sunday and Monday I was in Nashville attending the Tennessee School Board Association’s new member orientation.   I, along with 109 of my newly elected colleagues, were learning the ins and outs of state law, responsibilities, and legislation in regards to the State’s educational system.  When the discussion about the pay rate surfaced, most of us are laughing about the fact we get paid, and then we start going around the room discussing how much we got.

My jaw hit the floor when a member from a county in the south west corner of the state informs us that they are paid $ 15,000 a year.  Let that sink in for a minute.

Granted, they deal with a larger population than we do in Northwest Tennessee, but $ 15K?????  There are people in Weakley County that have jobs that don’t pay that a year.

Before I could get my jaw back in place, and the rest of the room quit shaking their heads and laughing, we were told that, ” If you think about it, it’s really not that much money.  It doesn’t even pay for my gas going to visit my schools.”

I used to put 25K miles on my car a year driving all over West Tennessee, and my total expenditures on fuel never topped $ 7K.

It was at this point that I realized a couple of things I kind of knew already, but what stuck out to me the most was how we, as a society, have truly decided we should be compensated for everything……EVERYTHING.

I am stunned every time someone asks me how much I get paid to coach my daughters rec league softball teams.  I’m still trying to figure out if I’m stunned because they think I do, or are genuinely shocked when I tell them I don’t.

We need to take a good hard look back at our lives, and the people who helped us out along the way.  We also need to understand that no amount of money will ever repay people and the impact they had.   There are countless numbers of people who have been there to lift us up and help us out….free of charge.  Teachers, mentors, church members, grandparents who weren’t your grandparents, youth league coaches, ballet instructors, parents of friends, the list is endless.

Those people were the caffeine in our developmental coffee, and they didn’t take a dime.

Heck, they didn’t even ask to snuggle.