Responsible parenting and leadership are a start. In between reaching for the sky (Toy Story rocks).

Screw the darkness. I prefer the lightness of Pop.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

"B" Present and Pink

Remember the one about the dad with little girls who's not afraid to dress up like a princess or a fairy, have his picture taken, and even post it online for God and everyone to see?

Yes, I'm the one. Or, more precisely, one of many. No need to split hairs that daddy's like us are more than comfortable in their own skin, don't really care what others think, and yes, it's as much about us as it is our girls. We're good with all that, even if there are those who aren't, and there are.

And that's okay. Because we believe that our little girls needs confident daddy's who aren't afraid to be silly and embrace life, and for the love of equitable reciprocity, have a little gender bender fun. They need to see us as malleable beings, somewhat amorphous, but with enough masculine leadership to not be mistaken anything other than daddy (even if we're talking single daddy, a daddy-mommy combo or a two-daddy combo).

Especially when we're told:

"Daddy, this is for girl's only. No boy's allowed."

To be then followed by:

"Okay, Daddy, one boy is allowed. Come on in."

This doesn't mean that daddy's have to dress up like a fairy princesses to be "present" with their girls, but hey, what about cheerleading?

Remember this?

For the record, the fairy getup was also my choice for "Fun Friday" at work, where each week our Peoplefluent marketing group picks a theme for the team and then pictures follow. We went from Johnny Cash day to Magical Fairy day. Oh, how the team loves me.

So I'm a magical mirror daddy fairy. What's it to you?

"B" present and pink, Daddies. Always.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Not-So-Weird Science of Girl Power

"...weird science -- things I've never seen before, behind bolted doors, talent and imagination..."

Of course I want them to be rocket scientists. Of course I want them to be the smartest people in the room, full of talent and imagination and potential. Of course I want them to transform the world for the better.

I'd prefer it not be about the differences between men and women when it comes to "rocket scientist" career paths, but there are unfortunate realities. In fact, although women make up about half of the workforce in the U.S. economy today, less than 25% of them hold STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). That's a lot of untapped talent in the workforce today with many cultural and institutional reasons of why.

I don't think about the fact that our girls are discouraged from learning STEM skills; I watch my girls play and experiment and learn about the world around them, including activities related to science and technology. And although they're only in preschool and pre-K, they're very much encouraged by the strong women mentors around them (teachers, aids and more).

For example, we just went to the San Jose Children's Discovery Museum where one exciting hands-on exhibit after another, including coloring ice blocks, fun bubble making, and a water whirlpool section that shoots plastic balls here and there and everywhere and seemingly defies physics altogether.

Watching their faces light up when exposed to the universe's mysteries is a delight to the Mama and me. We'll keep encouraging them to learn, regardless if they truly become rocket scientists or not, but we'll also do what we can to ensure they're not discouraged from learning STEM.

I have a psychology background and the Mama majored in marine biology, and while we don't literally work in those fields not, we're still thankful we have those foundations. The Mama even went through a physical therapy program years later and now practices PT regularly. And I've been working for HR and recruiting technology companies for 15 years.

While rooting around online today, I found the Million Women Mentor program that was created with the goal of creating a sustainable pipeline of women by mobilizing and engaging one million men and women to serve as STEM mentors by 2018.

Right on. We're in. Join us.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

The Why's of Differences and Tolerance

A little teasing I get, and I got my share growing up all the way into elder adulthood where I'm at today. I doled out a little myself. Sometimes the teasing was palatable and I'd laugh along, and sometimes it wasn't even close.

Through it all, I survived, and those I teased survived. Never in a million years did I bully verbally or physically to the point of wanting to hurt someone purposely and spitefully because of (fill in the blank). Pushed the teasing on occasion, yes. Bullying, no.

I'll admit that my instigated teasing over the years included pathetic "judgey" reasons I'd rather not relive, and the older you get, the most judgey it can become. However, when you're in the toddler years, differences aren't necessarily poked and prodded from spite, just poked and prodded because of the differences.

For example, Beatrice struggles with loud noises and still struggles with the inability to filter and process quickly. It can overwhelm her sometimes and that's when she plugs her ears and wants to bolt. Recently at school there have been a couple of times when loud noises have bothered Bea and she plugs her ears, and then a Pre-K classmate tries to pull her fingers out and tell her that nothing's wrong.

Because of the difference and the newness, they don't understand why she does it. The reaction is more about fear of the difference than the reason why. Kids want their normal and try to normalize their world accordingly. (Adults do this too of course, but we're just so much more messy and violent about it.)

Contrast that with the recent bullying incident of a 9-year-old North Carolina boy who was physically and verbally attacked by classmates after he brought a “My Little Pony” lunch bag to school. I'm still trying to digest this one, especially the way the school reacted to the little boy by banning him from bringing the lunch bag back to school. Although it does matter to me what they did or didn't do to those who were accused of bullying him, the school's response to the victim via what was published in the media was irresponsible and cowardly.

The boy's mother sums it up nicely for me (and thousands of others I'm sure):

“Saying a lunchbox is a trigger for bullying is like saying a short skirt is a trigger for rape. It’s flawed logic; it doesn’t make any sense.” 

Amen. And don't give me any bullshit about gender-appropriateness. I've had about enough of that. Good God it was just a "My Little Pony" lunch bag, something that represents friendship and sharing. 

Because we have two daughters though, the above flawed logic still isn't lost on me or the Mama. If this logic were eventually applied to Beatrice for example, with an extreme example being they'd remove her from the classroom and her classmates each time she plugged her ears under duress, you can be damn sure we're going to cause a reasonably responsible ruckus, but a ruckus nonetheless. Especially if she's bullied because of it. The same with Bryce and her glasses.

Again, I understand there's a difference between teasing and bullying, but when it's blatant bullying just "because," then it must be dealt with directly with all parties coming to a baseline understanding of the why's of differences and tolerance, not the "why nots?" of bullying and hate.

It's irresponsible and cowardice otherwise. No exceptions, Kids. None.

"It does not make any sense."

Rock on my little Beatrice. Rock on.


Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Joy of Zenning Hard and Well

"It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see." --Thoreau

So many things we want to pass on to them, to teach them, to arm them the ability to disarm under duress, without backing down and with minimal compromise when needed in their ongoing search for self and relative happiness.

Our children, genetic blend upon genetic blend, whether ours or others, hopefully will learn and development in a way that sets them up for success. Not success in the way that we initially think of it -- oodles of money, security and some monumental impact on the world -- but success in the way they live, in what they see, in how they react to every incremental circumstance good, bad or in between.

Success from the joy of Zen. (We may joke about the realities of finding oneself and achieving enlightenment, but I'll be damned if I don't have the last laugh.)

However, I hope, but can only imagine, that our girls' future is brighter and more opportune than the generation before them. According to Pew Research, "Millennials are also the first in the modern era to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations (Gen Xers and Boomers) had at the same stage of their life cycles."

And yet, according to the same recent research, they're the most optimistic about their economic prospects. But they're also quite distrustful of others compared to other generations. What a conundrum. I hope that's not the case with our girls' generation.

Again, we hope we're helping them "see" as clearly as possible, regardless of what they're "looking at," using positive discipline so as to encourage healthy emotional intelligence development. Easier said than done for me, since I'm such a grump jumper.

Meaning that, although I've come a long way with my own "Zenning hard" self (continuous non-reactive "balance" development takes a lot of energy), it's too easy for me to jump to being a grumpy Daddysaur in the face of, oh, things like a broken sewer line six feet down in our front yard costing us thousands of unplanned for dollars. 

Holy crap indeed. Yep, whatever stink life throws in front of us, grumping jumping ain't solving much of anything except making others, and yourself, feel like crap. (I'll end the sewage metaphors now.)

And did I tell you I dropped my iPhone face first onto frozen concrete? Did you hear that glass shatter? Sure that's pretty mild with all the other crappy (sorry) things and people that can happen to us in life, but most kids are grump jumpers by default, and impulse control is important to learn and no time like the pending mindful presence of toddlerville today. 

The Mama and I want our girls to be relentless in their search for self and relative happiness while celebrating those who both complement, and challenge, the journey. 

Zen hard, my girls. And Zen well.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

One Incremental Yet Non-Intentional Emasculating Moment at a Time

“I’m havin' a bad, bad day
If you take it personal, that's okay
Watch, this is so fun to see
Ah, despicable me…”

— Pharrell Williams

That's what can bring Daddysaur's to their knees, one incremental yet non-intentional emasculating moment at a time.

The plan was for the Mama to take Bea to a playdate with a classmate, then Bryce would have a date with Daddy to go to the store and then enjoy a slice of pizza together. Unfortunately that didn't go so well -- Bryce wanted nothing more than to go with the Mama and Bea to the playdate, but that wasn't a choice for her.

So we powered through, me getting an unsettled Bryce into the car and on our way to the store. I diverted for a few to watch the big surf from the recent storms and that quelled her inner storm (plus the gummy bunnies didn't hurt).

"I'm better now, Daddy," she said.

I smiled. "I'm glad, Sweetie."

That's when I realized I didn't have the grocery list. The inner storm churned again and we ended up just going home.

Not her fault, but tough nonetheless, to feel like an emasculated failure who can't communicate with a 3.5 year old. No matter what I said, nothing helped. Not surprising considering that children this age have a tough time listening. According to Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, by Jane Nelsen, ED.D., Cheryl Erwin, M.A., and Roslyn Ann Duffy, children don't listen because:

  • Adults don't ask a child what she should or should not be doing, but tell her.
  • Adults set up power struggles that make winning more important than cooperating.
  • The child cannot comply with a request because it demands social skills or thinking skills that have not yet developed.

And many other things. Not that these directly applied to my scenario, but because Bryce doesn't have the social/thinking skills needed to assess why she was going with me and not the Mama, she wanted nothing to do with going with me.

It's bad enough (or good enough -- no judgement mommies) that when we attend a school event like we did the other day, a rainy day arts and crafts festival where the kids could go from table to table and paint and glue and do other things, that most of the parents there are mommies, not daddies.

Even with more women in the workplace today and more men staying at home, anecdotally we tend to still fall into these traditional caregiver/breadwinner roles and no matter how much we may lean in either way to compromise and help one another (regardless if you're an opposite-sex or same-sex couple), the breadwinner loses with the kids because they spend much less nurturing time overall with the kids.

It's not anybody's fault, especially the todders; they are more comfortable with the primary nurturers and don't have the coping skills to know the difference yet. That's just the way it is, so the "Daddysaur's" shouldn't take these overreactions seriously. We shouldn't, but we do.


Which is why I need to take a little break from the family action yesterday. In doing so, both girls missed me and even Bea felt my angst, being such a feeler like me. The Mama, of course, just wanted to understand and help me work through it.

Damn you girls. I'm a nurturer, too. Daddysaur loves you. 


"Ah, despicable me..."

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Daddysaur Magic and Positive Discipline

It stirred, sensing something in its realm. It slowly opened one bleary eye -- suddenly two smaller creatures appeared. Probably B-hivers, it thought. It jumped up from its lair on full alert, scaring the larger of the two creatures.

The Daddysaur bounded to the floor to chase the B-hivers from it's cave, while the Mamasaur stirred restlessly behind them all.

"Girls, wait out in the hall and we'll go downstairs. Mommy's still sleeping and I'll be right there."

Such is the life of late with preschoolers in our prehistoric wake, those moments when we as parents feel older and "tireder" than usual that leads to the grumps with little ones who have boundless energy and endless brain activity.

Last night Bryce woke up yet again from a bad dream and came in our room crying, with the Mama waking, carrying and comforting her back to her bed to sleep. It's been a weekly event even with both of them being pretty good sleepers.

It's when they're awake when it all becomes a handful, playing well with each other one moment, then pounding on each other the next. Or hitting us. Or not listening to us. Or not getting ready to somewhere when we need them to, like school. Or being picky eaters. Or not picking up their things when we ask them. Or Bryce twisting her glasses and popping out a lens on a Sunday when the optometrist isn't in the office, like this very minute.

All very frustrating for fairly emotionally aware, balanced and impulse-controlled adults, like us. And probably you, too.

The Mama's been reading Positive Discipline for Preschoolers, by Jane Nelsen, ED.D., Cheryl Erwin, M.A., and Roslyn Ann Duffy, and now I'm reviewing it. The girls' preschool is based on the positive discipline research and methodology and although I've been aware of it since Bea started preschool, my cursory knowledge has run thin like my patience.

The fact is -- three-year-old's have more energy than at any other time in their lives. Yikes. No wonder that the B-hive continues to buzz so loudly.

The Mama and I grew up in a mixed discipline world of firmer hands and less softer touch, discipline more often associated with punishment and negative behavior extinguishing than positive learning and development. My parents' and Nonna's worlds even more so. Goodness, I was even spanked as a child.

My gruffness today as a parent just doesn't make any magic happen. It only squashes it.

According to the positive discipline book, we as Daddysaurs and Mamasaurs should focus on "Eight Methods for Implementing Positive Discipline":

  1. Get children involved in the creation of routines, through the use of limited choices and by providing opportunities to help.
  2. Teach respect by being respectful.
  3. Use your sense of humor.
  4. Get into your child's world.
  5. Say what you mean, and then follow through with kindness and firmness.
  6. Be patient.
  7. Act, don't talk -- and supervise carefully.
  8. Accept and appreciate your child's uniqueness.
Easier said than done when you grew up differently as I did, although my parents incorporated some of the above. Miss you Mom and Dad. Mindful positive parenting is where the magic happens.

And yes, Daddysaurs need to get into their B-hivers' world, which thankfully I do.

Who will travel with Daddy next?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Becoming Banana Daddy Rama

"Daddy, can you take Banana on your trip?" asked Beatrice.

That was the night before I left a week ago, and of course I said yes.

I then kissed her forehead and asked, "Do you want me to take some pictures of Banana and post them?"

She nodded. The next morning I left early before anyone else was awake.

But what started as something fun to do for both daughters while I was away at my Peoplefluent company conference all week soon turned into a Banana Daddy obsession.

And a happy and family friendly one at that.