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.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

For fear of phantom fathers past

2:00 a.m. Saturday morning, November 28.

I woke up hot and sweaty and freaked out.

Freaked out because I night-daydream time traveled again, imagining when I'll be 61 and Beatrice will be a senior in high school, hoping I'll be physically healthy, that me and Mama will be financially sound, and that all my mental faculties will be intact.

Like Alice in Wonderland outgrowing a room, my mind pushed beyond its skull and filled our bedroom with palatable distress, thick as goo with a sickly fluorescent green glow.

Mama was in Bea's room tending to baby's teething pain. Amy's amazing. I think she wears a cape and can bend steel.

I laid in bed drenched in my own paralytic ectoplasmic fear.

Fear of whether or not I'll be here when Bea's older. Fear of whether or not I'll be a good father in the long run.

It's how I felt most of the first 12 years of my life - full of fear. Shitty fathers and abuse and neglect netted nothing in the realm of positive male role models.

I modeled some of the bad stuff for years – my 20’s were a wasteland, my early 30’s were the transformation – until I finally took ownership of myself and my actions and the results of those actions. That was phase 1. Meeting Amy was part of that.

Phase 2 was when we had Beatrice. It’s a whole different ballgame now and my personal mission is to help other men and fathers be personally responsible and elevate their behavior to self-respect, respect of others and non-violent reactions to life and loved ones.

Still doesn't stop me from freaking out. We may even have a second child. I embrace it. Still doesn't stop me from freaking out.

When I woke up like I did the other night, for fear of phantom fathers past, I was very scared.

Thank God there are millions of men breaking the cycles of violence and neglect in their families. My friend Laurie talked about this very subject this morning in her Punk Rock HR blog.

My Post-T-Day angst is normal I know. 'Tis the season for trials and tribulations that culminate in a slingshot New Year's flight into the future. Time travel is a bitch.

But I'm ready. I've never been more ready. I'm the dad I never had, and now Bea has me.

Mocha Dad shared his families' thankful box story last week and I'm making one for our family. That way we can add notes sharing why we're thankful and read them every Thanksgiving. How appropriate is it that I'm using the box that Bea's bee mobile came in. Love it!

My first entry: I'm thankful for being a good daddy.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Snapdragons and Psychic Wars: They happen. We're human. We're humbled. Hopefully.

You see me now a veteran of a thousand psychic wars
My energy's spent at last
And my armor is destroyed
I have used up all my weapons and I'm helpless and bereaved
Wounds are all I'm made of
Did I hear you say that this is victory?
--Blue Oyster Cult

I've been talking so much about personal responsibility and better parenting and mindful presence and owning your actions and reactions that I neglect to mention how snapdragons can lead to psychic wars.

We all need to nip them in the bud before they take over like weeds, no matter how harmless they seem.

What a buzz-kill for pre-T-day (Thanksgiving), but I'm grateful for awareness and acknowledgement of the dreaded snapdragons - the grumps. You know what I mean. They happen. We're human. We're humbled.

Hopefully.

How appropriate for the holidays don't you think? Especially now when we're doing more with less and the 24/7/365 world swallows us whole every day. It's a friggin' stressful time. We need a break without breaking.

Last Saturday night we went out to eat at our favorite Mexican place. I had to parallel park in the lot, which usually isn't a problem for me, but this time there was a big cement base around the light post we parked under.

That I didn't account for and I scraped the door.

Amy said, "I think I dinged the door."

I looked, cringed and closed my eyes. "Nope, that would be my shitty parking job."

Gotta watch that language around the baby, but too late. Not a scratch on the car to date and now there were two long and thin white gashes on the car door.

Not a big deal in the grander scheme, but I was bummin' grumpily during dinner. Tried to cover and mostly did except for a few snapdragons. Then as we were pulling out of the parking lot and I waited for the right traffic gap, the baby cranky herself ready to go home, Amy laid a few snapdragons on me.

If you don't acknowledge them and yank them from the ground, which we've learned to do, they will choke your love and relationships, leaving them in withered, blood-dried stalks.

Snapdragons can pop up anywhere at anytime. Fields of uncheck snapdragons lead to anger and resentment, and ultimately psychic warfare and its physical manifestation - violence and abuse.

And horribly mixed metaphors - my speciality. *sigh*

You get it, though. I am grateful for my loving wife who helped me learn to be direct and deal with the snapdragons as soon as they break ground. That is what we'll do our damndest to instill in Beatrice as well.

Happy Thanksgiving Kids. Enjoy the passion and elevate.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

The tragic tale of the two-tooth duck-hungry zombie

Fourteen months from the womb and we're only two teeth into the light. As you can see from the photo above, Bea's punctures and gum gnawing don't pay off much other than soothing the teething beast.

We tripped out for a while that Beatrice only had two teeth to date, but then other friends told us their children went a lot longer before the bulk burst through.

Although the range of teeth growth can vary dramatically in the first three years of life, the vast majority of babies sprout their first tooth between 4 and 7 months of age.

According to BabyCenter.com: while some babies breeze through the teething process, many seem to struggle with it and experience discomfort. Among the symptoms your teething baby may exhibit:

  • Drooling (which can lead to a facial rash)
  • Gum swelling and sensitivity
  • Irritability or fussiness
  • Biting behavior
  • Refusing food
  • Sleep problems

There's debate among experts over whether certain problems — like diarrhea, fever, congestion, body rashes, and vomiting — can be caused by teething. A rule of thumb: If your baby has symptoms that worry you, don't just chalk it up to teething. Check with your doctor to rule out other potential causes that may need attention.

Most babies get new teeth in this order: First the bottom two middle ones, then the top two middle ones, then the ones along the sides and back.

Bea's bottom two are the ones that have come in so far and she continues to have her share of discomfort waiting the the others to pop.

So this is what Mama gives her as needed:

  • Frozen wash clothes
  • Teething rings
  • Frozen mango (yum)
  • Apples and whole banana with peel left on (odd)
  • Homeopathic teething drops
  • When all else fails, Baby Tylenol (especially in the middle of the night)

But what happens when your two-teeth baby turns duck-hungry zombie!

(For those of you who didn't know, zombies are the only "make-believe-scary" things that freak me out. Really. Yikes.)

Run! Run for your lives little duckies! Run for your lives!

Wait -- screw the ducks. I'm outta here!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Family, friends and workplace weave the safety net for victims of intimate partner violence

I posted a similar version of this on my firm's HRmarketer Blog, but I'm giving it a little personal twist for GOTG.

There really weren't any resources for my mother in 1972. She volunteered and then worked as a secretary for the local school district where I grew up, and every time my birth father beat her, there was full clothing to cover the bruises, avoiding others stares and conversation, absenteeism when it was really bad, and more.

There were no domestic violence or workplace violence programs, no employee assistance programs offering counseling or shelter referrals, no assessment and action plans from human resources.

Don't ask, don't tell. The fear and shame that comes with abuse and intimate partner violence is overwhelming enough (intimate partner violence another name for domestic violence) - you don't want your employer to know for fear of losing your job. Employers don't want to know for fear of potential violence in the workplace.

You don't want to tell your friends or family either - even when my grandparents did find out about my mom, they weren't exactly supportive at first.

For my mother and countless others it was faith and prayer and finally the personal strength to get out of the violence.

It still is, although today there are thankfully so many more resources available and more and more companies have workplace violence and/or intimate partner violence programs and/or EAPs. Family and friends need to wake up and be part of the solution as well.

Your workplace can and should take the lead in providing these programs, not only to protect the victims of domestic violence, but also to protect the workplace from the batterers. And for those of you who don't have these programs at your organizations, you should go to HR and your management team and request them.

Consider these:

  • A recent survey of CEOs found that most believe domestic violence to be a serious issue, yet 71% did not believe it is a problem in their company. (The reality is that approximately 21% of fulltime working adults report being a victim of domestic violence.)
  • Over 70% of United States workplaces have no formal program or policy that addresses workplace violence.
  • Of the approximately 30% that have formal workplace violence policies in place (usually binders on shelves gathering dust), only 13% have domestic violence in the workplace policies and only 4% provide training on domestic violence in the workplace (Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2006).

Only 4%. Seems like one helluva short trip from 1972.

And consider these EAP obstacles:

  • The most common reason women didn't contact their EAP for intimate partner violence is that they didn't think about it or didn't think appropriate.
  • Employee utilization of intimate partner violence EAP services is very low.
  • The number one concern of battered women before contacting an EAP is confidentiality -- they’re afraid employee will find out.
  • Most EAPs don't have standardized evaluations or codes for intimate partner violence.

But even considering there's much work to be done, human resources, security professionals, EAPs and workplace violence non-profits have all made huge strides in working together to address intimate partner violence and workplace violence.

One organization in particular - the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence - is the only national organization of its kind founded by business leaders and focused on the workplace. Check out some the companies that are members. I came in contact with this organizationearlier this year and was fortunate enough to participate in a few of their S2 - Safer, Smarter Workplace webinars. I was also fortunate enough to interview its Executive Director, Kim Wells (that'll be the next HR Market Share podcast after Thanksgiving).

Amazing employer resources come from the CAEPV. Download Six Steps to Creating a Successful Workplace Program here. Also, great list of dos and don'ts here.

EAPs play a critical role as well. One of my firm's clients - Corporate Counseling Associates - recently released a white paper titled Healthy Organizations Mitigate the Risk of Violence that includes several ways to reduce the threat of violence in the workplace:

  • Communicate a zero tolerance policy & develop ongoing employee communications to reinforce the message.
  • Set up company procedures for reporting incidents of violence.
  • Create a Threat of Violence (TOV) Team, involving members of the following departments: Health Services, Human Resources, Security, EAP, Legal, Facilities Management, Corporate Affairs, and Public Relations.
  • Establish organizational mechanisms to prevent violence.
  • Constantly monitor and identify “weak spots” in management practices and/or development programs.
  • Educate senior management on the warning signs and symptoms of violence-prone individuals, and the environmental pressures that can trigger incidents.
  • Train the TOV team to ensure a disciplined execution of strategy.
  • Learn how to de-escalate aggression and improve conflict management skills. Run crisis scenario simulations.
In fact, the latest S2 webinar was all about Addressing Domestic Violence in the Workplace: An EAP/Employer Partnership.

We have come a long way from 1972. Family, friends and workplace weave the safety net for victims of intimate partner violence.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How can we find anything in a miasma of misfit toys?

We lost it. Then we found it. The water marking pen for the Aquadoodle.

But first we lost it. Filled it with water last night. Gave it to Bea to draw on the Aquadoodle, although she drags it down the couch, puts it in her mouth, pokes the cat with it - you name it.

We lost it. We looked for it in multiple waves of frustration and fear, anguish and anger, devastation and despair, but to no avail. Couldn't find the damn thing anywhere.

I retraced my steps, which meant nothing since I have no short-term memory. I dug through the living room toy boxes yet again, only to activate dozens of singing toys including the Sesame Street disco cube (or whatever the heck its called), a dozen LeapFrog products leaping and wailing, and other random nursery rhyme singing electronica sensations.

How can we find anything in a miasma of misfit toys?

It's funny, but when I searched online for "how to find lost things", one of the results I got was from eHow - How to Find Lost Items:

  • Check the usual places.
  • Retrace your steps.
  • Sit down and think it through.
  • Explore the obscure places.
  • Ask everybody who shares your space if they've seen it (don't blame - ha!).
  • Recheck the most likely places - again.
  • Maybe it's time for a de-clutter house cleaning.

And don't forget to check the nooks and crannies around the magical misfit toy chests.

That's where we found it. Beatrice, not in your mouth!

*sigh*


Sunday, November 8, 2009

The primordial wild-eyed gyrations of nonsensical screech and howl.


They've started. The primordial wild-eyed gyrations of nonsensical screech and howl.

Temper tantrums.

Amy tried to tell me they started this week when I was at a conference, but I kinda half-listened like the good husband I am.

We have a shelf of small pictures that Beatrice loves to look at and point, saying "dat" like "what's that". She really wanted one in particular earlier this week and so gave it to her and then Bea proceeded to whack Mama right on the upper lip.

Mama took picture frame away. Baby melted down. For a long time.

So Saturday morning Amy's cleaning the kitchen and I've got Bea trapped in book world and toy land (what used to be our living room). We use her bouncy to block the small passage from living room to dining room, in between the couch and the cuddle chair.

A couple of weeks ago Bea figured out how to break out, but we wedged it in even further to prevent passage.

Bea wanted to get to Mama in the kitchen and she'll wanted it now. She wriggled as far as she could between bouncy and couch, but I thwarted her efforts by dragging her back into the thunderdome.

Melt. Down. Shriek.

Her face beamed bright red and her Harry Potter scar glowed so intensely I frantically looked around to ensure there were no wands within reach.

I tried to console, I tried to misdirect, I tried to tie her to railroad tracks (no, I didn't do that) - but she was one unhappy lady bug. With fangs and bloodlust and the ability to levitate.

We survived (and so did Bea!). According to Anita Sethi, Ph.D. from Parenting.com:

Your child screams when he/she doesn't get things right away because he/she has no understanding of time and little reason to believe that another way might work.

Anita shared four great tips, some of which we've tried and will continue to try:

  • Show some empathy. Try something like "I know, you don't want your diaper changed." He won't understand the words, but he'll understand the tone of your voice and actions.
  • Try a new kind of distraction. If jingling keys and making funny faces aren't cutting it, a song can soothe, as can a little back rub or a change of scenery.
  • Keep calm. Sometimes babies throw tantrums because they're overstimulated, so taking a break from all your make-the-baby-smile tricks might actually help.
  • Stay a step ahead. If you know your baby is fascinated with the TV remote, make sure it's out of sight. If he screams in the high chair, let him eat with a lovey on the tray (more laundry for you, but less screaming!).

Otherwise, me need more wise magic! Year 2 is upon us.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Bea just woke up. When will everybody else?

I just put Beatrice down for nap. It's been a pleasure playing with her and watching her play on daddy daycare day, holding her close to me while she sucks her thumb and strokes her fuzzy (blanket). I've been gone all week on a business trip, so each day I longed to talk to her and Mama on speaker phone.

Through my entire crazy week, I kept thinking about the Jane Doe rape in Richmond on October 24.

I only heard about it last weekend and it floored me. It's been a bad enough recently with the unemployment numbers, the Fort Hood shootings and now the disgruntled ex-employee shooting in Orlando.

I have people in my life who have been assaulted, including children - boys and girls. It only takes one for me to know that we're far from being an elevated species.

What's even more disturbing to me is that the media coverage of unemployment and shootings completely overshadowed that of the Richmond rape.

I played with Bea for a couple of hours this afternoon - read books, chased her around the living, fed her lunch, put her to bed.

Jane Doe was raped for 2 1/2 hours by six maybe seven men while at least another dozen watched. She was betrayed by a supposed friend who was one of the attackers. She is 16 years old.

Yes, the victim has been getting lots of support and there have been local rallies and letters, but where's the broader intervention and outreach?

Where's the fucking national outrage? Really, where is it? We're angry when disease takes our loved ones and we wear the ribbons of cause, but who wears the purple ribbons?

I cry just typing this up. Earlier in the week and emailed journalist Patty Fisher from the San Jose Mercury News, the first article I read about the attack. I asked her if she could a follow up piece about what communities are doing to address this complete disregard for human dignity and the utter sexual objectification and lack of respect for women. She said she'd try.

It's hard enough raising girls, but Patty wrote something that struck me:

But I think it's even harder for parents of boys. How do you raise a son to be caring and responsible in a culture that too often portrays women as whores and men as warriors and thugs?

Why aren't parents taking more responsibility to instill love and respect in their children's hearts? Is it really those of lower socioeconomic status who breakdown in their parenting leadership ability? I don't think so. I think it can happen anywhere at anytime. Nobody in our world today deserves to be treated this way.

So for those of us - particularly parents or soon-to-be parents - who have the capacity to control our actions and choose the higher path of respect and dignity, we need a call to action of the highest order to change this behavior, to help curb as much of the violence we can, to work in our communities and our children until they understand what it means to elevate and not to hate.

Those who have lesser capacity and ability to do this need our help.

For my Christian friends and family out there, pray the prayers of personal strength and responsibility, because God empowers us with these and choice, the ability to elevate and the ability to teach.

I implore other daddy bloggers out there, Mocha Dad especially, to keep writing about domestic violence and abuse, to push for action and change, to get involved and make change.

I implore those of you who have been abusers, who have turned your lives around, to get involved in programs that educate and elevate others.

I've reached out to Frank Baird, the founder of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, to organize a Santa Cruz walk for the women, men and children in our communities who have been assaulted, abused and/or raped. I hope to hear from him soon.

Bea just woke up. When will everybody else?

You may be right,
it's all a waste of time.
I guess that's just a chance I'm prepared to take,
a danger I'm prepared to to face,
cut to the chase --
what kind of difference can one person make?
Cut to the chase.

--Neil Peart


Monday, November 2, 2009

Corporate family failure and Fail Spectacularly

The following is fun family fodder (for me anyway!) because of the Onrec/Kennedy Expo I'm heading to and is inspired by a fun event we're sponsoring called Fail Spectacularly. (And it probably wouldn't work on the HRmarketer blog.)

It's 1982.

My company is called Cleaning Right Industries.

My sister's is called CleanItFast.com (you can see how ahead of her time she was).

We were both vendors of choice for MomCo, a Fortune 500 conglomerate, a provider of shelter and sustenance and other delicious snacks.

MomCo send us an RFP about vacuuming the living room and the den (break room) - within the next hour. MomCo is throwing a dinner party and needs the living room vacuumed quickly but effectively too.

We respond in kind with our proposals. MomCo picks me. MomCo always picks me.

I take a little time, but I get it done right. One hour should be plenty of time.

The TV is on in the break room. MTV is on in the break room. There are only three videos that play in 1982 - Steve Miller Band's "Abracadabra", Duran Duran's "Hungry Like the Wolf", and The Buggles' "Video Killed the Radio Star."

(Yes, there were more than that, but work with me.)

I've been vacuuming for 10 minutes. I need a break. MomCo's OSHA rules say so.

Sixty minutes later I'm humming "hungry like the wolf" and I've vacuumed an area the size of 4 square feet.

Not even close to being done.

Cleaning Right is fired, CleanItFast.com is hired.

There you have it. Video killed the cleaning right star.

Keep failing and keep reaching for the starts, kids!

(You can make fun of me now.)

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The two faces of parent-baby care, a curse and a blessing


Maybe I was too hard on them, my folks. It comes from a simultaneously selfless and selfish place, this frustration of best-worst-case scenario parent care with a baby, family and career in tow living 600+ miles apart. But they just want to see their children and grandchildren, to be with their families, and with so many families fragmented without, this love and longing is a blessing.

Playing with Bea on daddy daycare Friday, and then prepping for Halloween yesterday, I fast forwarded to when Bea will be 40 and I'm 84, Amy 79 (if we're so fortunate; I'm counting on fortune).

Hopefully we'll be healthy and independent, but what if we're not? We will become a burden to her? Will she help us selflessly as long as we work to help ourselves? We she vent on her holographic supersonic blog about us when we don't and make marginal decisions (I can't see all of the future, c'mon)?

Thankfully the worrisome time-travel bungee cord snapped me back in place and we had a fabulous Hallow's Eve!


From Princess Bacon to Pooh Bear Bee, Beatrice was a doll!


Even though she cackled with laughter when I kicked an immovable object full force with my right foot. Ouch. Hee-hee!

And even though she reveled in squishing pumpkin brain th

rough her tiny fingers and then ate it.

She survived her first trick or treat outing on the Santa Cruz Wharf and Mommy and Daddy ate all the candy. Yum.

In fact, starting next year we're enacting a mandatory processed candy for organic fruits and veggies exchange.

Hey, we care. A blessing indeed.