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, June 27, 2009

God bless my little Supergirl Bea. She gets me.

What a week post Father's Day. If I ever needed the right gumption, this was one of those weeks, and thankfully, I had the right gumption and the right ear to bend.

It actually started the Friday before with a tough business decision that bled into ghosts of family estrangement past on Father's Day itself, to a visit with a dear old friend with AIDS, to a break-up of another dear friend's marriage, to a good neighbor's foreclosure, to an even more difficult business decision, to my mother's ever-deteriorating health, to now having to leave my family for a few days to attend this year's SHRM conference in New Orleans' happy summertime convection oven (that'll be good for the skin).

Nothing that daddy can't handle, right? Especially with it all piling up on my daddy daycare day. I spilled it all to Beatrice yesterday afternoon while we basked in the backyard summer sun, Bea bouncing happily in her outdoor bouncy and eating a dirty yellow blow-up ball (hey, a little dirt never hurt me and Mama growing up).

She shrieked, drooled and bounced; she gets me. Her single lower inciser smile could heal the maimed and stop runaway trains in less time than it takes me to digest adult-sized angst.

God bless my little Supergirl Bea.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Daddy K's predawn prep of mindful presence (Happy Father's Day)

I'm always the first to awaken in our family, to enjoy the predawn prep of mindful presence. It's a sacred time for me, and this morning on my first father's day is no exception. The sunrise accelerates; color and light flood the trees and sky through our front window; it's going to be a beautiful day.

I await the call, when Mama A says "sweetie" signaling me to go upstairs to welcome her and our little Beatrice into the day. It should come any moment now. Then we'll sing the morning song Mama wrote for Bea, as we do every morning:

Good morning, good morning, it's time to wake up
The birds are all singing, the sun's coming up

It's a beautiful day for my baby and me

We'll laugh and we'll dance and we'll sing by the sea


Good morning, good morning, a new day is here

Full of bright, sunny smiles and good morning cheer

It's a day full of wonder and lots of good fun

So, let's get up, get going, the day has begun


When I hold my daughter in my arms and she smiles at me, her tiny hand fumbling along my nose and mouth, color and light flood my heart and I want to be a better man and father, to be present and accountable in her life, in Mama's and in mine and in the world beyond us. We've only just begun that journey and family adventure is our middle name.

I am blessed, take nothing for granted and accept the nod from God.

Happy Father's Day Gentlemen. There is hope through fatherhood.

P.S. - I'll miss you today, Dad. So glad your on the mend again! Thank God for angel battery packs.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

The ascent of Bea and the baby-face buffet (Happy Fother's Day!)

We're closing in on a 9-month Bea and it's been amazing. Recently, there's been two developments worthy of note.

First, there's the ascent of Bea. For millions of years babes have learned to crawl before they walk, but our Beatrice has been wanting to walk so badly for over a month now. Mama skims the floor on her knees like a hovercraft while using her arms to act as safety bars for Bea to bound forward in (and sideways and backwards and diagonally). Saves money and wear and tear from buying a walker. Bea's even standing up more on her own, balancing against furniture and our 300-year-old cat and her toy basket that she loves to dip into from time to time. Either of us will hold her by her hands or under her arms and away she goes! Mercy, it's time to child-proof the house and my laptop. Nobody touches my MacBook.

Ah, then there's the joys of feeding baby. Bea's been eating solids for a few months and Mama keeps introducing different organic veges and pasta and french fries and onion rings. No, wait - those last two are me and Mama's. Funny thing is, Bea's turned into the baby-face buffet; you can eat right off her face. Seriously. Delicious, tenderly-cooked sweet potatoes and carrots and peas and pasta and green beans and mashed bananas, all for the lip-smacking taking. Of course, some of it makes it to the baby belly for Bea sustanence, but why heat up a Swanson TV dinner when you've got an adorable baby-face chock full of nutritious food? Don't forget the bonus - finishing off your meal when you move baby from the high-chair and pick the food off the seat (and floor). It all goes well with a glass or three of Merlot.

So while it is Father's Day this Sunday, and I am a very proud new father and wish all the daddies out there the best, I have to give a shout out to my lovely wife. Without her, I wouldn't even Bea a father. I'd just be a big, scary man eating the food off other baby-face buffets.

Happy Fother's Day, Mama A!

***

Welcome to Fatherhood Friday! It’s a hip place at Dad-Blogs.com for dads and moms to share stories, ideas, photos and movies with one topic in mind – fatherhood. Or as I like to call it – fotherhood. Good times.
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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Letterman apologized. Now let’s talk about teen dating abuse.

Initially I didn’t want to comment on the Letterman-Palin fracas (although I completely agree with this assessment).

But the more I thought about a) having a daughter and b) having a daughter that will grow up to be a teenager someday, I did feel David Letterman was out of line.

Funny, but out of line. I’m glad he apologized more than once. I agree with The View ladies when they say don’t mess with my kids.

That said, Sarah Palin inferring – wait, actually explicitly stating that David Letterman was a misogynistic pedophile for making such jokes was just too much for me. That was out of line.

Dave was rude, but he’s not a pervert nor is he a hypocrite.

There are so many things as parents we have to worry about with our children; teen sex, STDs and pregnancy are issues I have years to fester about before it hits home.

We do our best to protect them against abuse of any kind (as long as we’re not the perpetrators, and God help those who are – report it if you know about it).

The current economic woes are not making it any easier for us or our kids. It’s really tough out there and we’re seeing folks in our own neighborhood losing their jobs and their homes.

That’s depressing to witness, but to experience it? How do some react? A recent blog post from one of my favorite blogs Domestic Violence and the Workplace titled New Survey Links The Troubled Economy to High Levels of Teen Dating Violence and Abuse shared some startling stats from a recent Liz Claiborne survey.

For example:

Nearly half of teens (44%) whose families have experienced economic problems in the past year report that they have witnessed their parents abusing each other. Alarmingly, 67% of these same teens experienced some form of violence or abuse in their own relationships and report a 50% higher rate of dating abuse compared to teens who have not witnessed domestic violence between their parents.

And when it comes to educating our own children:

Despite the fact that the majority of parents say they are comfortable talking about these issues, parents are not effective in educating their children about the dangers of dating abuse. 74% of sons and 66% of daughters say they have not had a conversation about dating abuse this past year. Even more troubling, the majority of teens who are in abusive relationships report they have not talked to their parents. Of the fewer than 1/3 who do confide in their parents, 78% of these teens report staying in these abusive relationships despite their parents’ advice.

Troubling indeed. There are some great resources and free eBooks to download on the Love Is Not Abuse site, including A Parent's Guide to Teen Dating Violence: 10 Questions to Start the Conversation.

Letterman apologized. Talk with your kids.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Ground control to Beatrice – Flight is a no-go

Three years ago, a year before any Beas buzzed in our heads, Amy and I were on a return flight from Belize that was supposed to land in Houston, but because of severe thunderstorms, was re-routed to New Orleans.

Where we stayed on the tarmac for hours waiting to refuel and for the weather to clear in Texas. We couldn’t get off the plane because since the Katrina tragedy, New Orleans was no longer an international airport (no customs).

Finally we made our way back to Houston where we had less than 15 minutes to make our connecting flight home.

Which meant we had to get through customs and security. Well, we cleared customs quickly, but then Amy kept setting off the metal detector at the security checkpoint and we didn’t know why.

Our carry-on bags made it through the screening, as did I, but they had to pull Amy to the side and wave the wand over her. I wasn’t paying attention to our bags as I watch and waited for her.

Which was when she called out, “Get my bag!”

And through my noisy, rushing crowds I heard, “Get my back!”

I smiled and called out proudly, “I’ve got your back, baby!”

Frustrated, she shook her head when finally the TSA official cleared her to move ahead.

It’s been one of many little mutual jokes since.

Fast forward to yesterday. We’d been preparing all week to fly to Illinois to see family – Daddy, Mama and Beatrice’s first flight in an airplane together.

Everything packed and triple-checked, we loaded up the Saturn VUE (thank you Roger Penske for saving Saturn) with our bags were ready to roll. But Amy walked out leaving her carry-on on the floor next to the door.

I said, “Sweetie, I’ve got your back.”

We shared a laugh and then were on the way to the airport, Bea immediately falling asleep in the back (it was naptime anyway).

The drive was uneventful and I first dropped off Amy, Bea and our bags to check curbside and headed off to long-term parking.

Before I even parked Amy called me and said, “All flights to Dallas are cancelled. I have the bags and the baby but can’t wait in line until you get here.”

Crap. The long-term parking shuttle shuttled me back to the ticketing area. Amy was already in the gridlocked line thanks to some kids’ help with our bags. Bea was doing pretty well and Amy started the long-wait call to American Airlines while I dragged the bags along.

Thirty-five minutes and five feet of line progress later Amy connects with a ticketing agent. She’s been on the phone, sitting watching our bags, while I held a somewhat fussy Bea in line, inching along.

Amy catches my attention, waves me out of line and gives me the kill sign, flaying her hand back and forth across her neck.

“No flights until Saturday out of SFO.” We were at the San Jose airport. Crap.

Amy had American give us a refund and then we hauled our butts over Southwest to see what they could do for us.

Great customer service, but there was nothing available. Amy’s eyes lit up.

“Anything available for Vegas? Hey, we’re all packed, right?”

“No, all overbooked. Sorry,” the ticket agent said.

Crap. We love Vegas. It’s baby friendly, right?

We sat down, our bags strewn around us, and Amy nursed Bea. We were bummed we couldn’t go see the family.

“What about Hawaii?”

“Time to go home,” I said.

Reluctantly we headed out for the long-term parking shuttle.

I've got your back, baby.

Check ignition, and may God’s love be with you…

***

Welcome to Fatherhood Friday! It’s a hip place at Dad-Blogs.com for dads and moms to share stories, ideas, photos and movies with one topic in mind – fatherhood. Good times.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Be a real father figure to help end child abuse

In high school, we had a choir director who took our singing groups to many a competition, which we won much of the time. I was in men’s glee and choir three of the four years in high school and had the privilege of experiencing some of that success.

There were also rumors that the choir director seduced and slept with many of the young girls in choir. We’d joke on the football field that there was no way the geeky choir director was lucky with the young ladies (yes, football players can sing), although that’s not exactly the way we put it.

But there he was, with what seemed to be a constant entourage of girls following him at break, at lunch, after school. Some were even seen taking rides with him on his motorcycle.

Introverted girls. Girls with emotional problems. Girls that weren’t popular. Girls with low self-esteem. Girls from broken families.

Girls who needed a father figure.

You get the picture.

Shortly after we graduated, he got fired. He had indeed been having illicit affairs with young girls for years and it was said that the administration turned their heads for years as well. Finally a few girls had come forward, brave enough to tell the tale of a man with power and manipulative persuasion who seduced and exploited their insecurities and need for comfort and a father figure.

Girls who needed a father figure.

When asked what he would do now that he would never teach again in any school, he said he wanted to be a truck driver. Years of school and graduate work (he had at least two masters degrees in music) and now he wants to be a truck driver, to see the world.

It’s an insult to truck drivers as far as I’m concerned. We laughed about it then, somewhat nervously while I internalized anger; he should’ve been in jail.

Fast forward to now and me having a little girl of my own and the story of the San Jose swim coach, Andy King, who sexually abused his female swimmers, some as young as 10, for the past 30 years.

What started as a "tender, fatherly kind of thing'' ended with King having sex with her for years.

Girls who needed a father figure.

Same story. Different day. Different year. Different city, state, zip.

Why did the girls wait so long to tell?

You're talking about young girls who were faced with the threat: "I won't be your swim coach anymore and you won't be able to swim anymore. That's what was said to a lot of these victims."

It’s all power and manipulation and controlling those weaker and more vulnerable: the children. There’s no love involved at all and it’s usually someone the abused knows and trusts. I know this because I went through it myself.

Responsible parenting and adulthood means paying attention to your child’s behavior, or a child you know, and seek help if need be. Don’t overreact if you think something’s wrong, but don’t under-react either. It’s the latter that’s the biggest problem of all.

Under-reacting leads to a lifetime of emotional problems for the child, or worse.

Reported cases of child sexual abuse in the United States are estimated at 80,000 children each year, according to federal statistics. One in three girls will be sexually abused before she reaches the age of 18. One in six boys will be sexually abused before the age of 18. Fewer than one in ten of these children will report the abuse. Most of these children will carry the emotional scars and guilt of abuse for the rest of their lives, and many (especially men) will sexually abuse others as adults.

Fewer than one in ten will report the abuse. Remember that and be aware.

Here are some important checklists I found online when it comes to identifying sexual abuse.

The following are behavior changes that may occur in children who have been sexually abused:

  • Fear or dislike of certain people or places
  • Seductive or "sexy" behavior towards adults or peers
  • Problems in school, poor grades
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, or usual activities
  • Advanced sexual knowledge for the child's age
  • Regressed behavior, such as bedwetting
  • Eating disorders, eating very little or excessive eating
  • Hostility or aggressive behaviors
  • Drug or alcohol problems
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

Most children don't tell even if they have been asked, refuse to talk about it or deny that something happened because:

  • Are too young to put what has happened into words
  • Were threatened or bribed by the abuser to keep the abuse a secret
  • Fear that they will be taken away from their family
  • Are afraid no one will believe them
  • The abuser promised gifts or rewards for keeping the secret
  • Blame themselves or believe the abuse is punishment for being "bad"
  • Feel too ashamed or embarrassed to tell
  • Worry about getting into trouble or getting a loved one into trouble

What Can Parents Do To Keep Children Safe?

  • Remember, the person who abuses a child is to blame for the abuse, not the child!
  • Always know the people who care for your children, including names, phone numbers and addresses.
  • Be actively involved, carefully supervising your child‘s activities.
  • Be sensitive to changes in your child’s behavior or attitude, paying close attention to your intuition indicating that something isn‘t quite right.
  • Teach your child to listen to his or her intuition or “gut feeling” and communicate it to you.
  • When your child tells you they do not like someone, ask them to tell you why and listen carefully.
  • Teach your child that it’s okay to tell, no matter who, no matter what!
  • Talk about safety and sex with your child, using proper names for genitals.
  • Supervise and establish clear rules and guidelines for your child’s computer use.
  • Educate yourself (read, listen and ask)

If you suspect abuse has occurred, call your local police department or the child abuse hotline for help: 1-800-4-A-CHILD.

Be a real father figure to help end child abuse. My little Beatrice is counting on us.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Daddy K ready to wear 4” heel pumps in red

Last week I received the following Google Alert in my “Domestic Violence” e-mail folder:

Men don heels to protest violence

Brilliant. About 40 men walked a mile in women's shoes in Pennsylvania to protest rape, sexual assault and violence against women.

It was a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event and I had never heard of that organization. How exciting that men all over the place are participating in events like this.

From the Walk a Mile in Her Shoes About Us page:

Frank Baird first proposed Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The International Men's March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault and Gender Violence in 2001. The Men's March started out small and has grown each year since, with larger crowds attending each March and Marches held in multiple locations benefiting multiple rape crisis centers.

So glad I found these hip and helpful organization. Thinking about organizing a walk as well. I’m ready to wear 4” heel pumps in red.

There is no fee for a license to organize a Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® Walk, but you do have to sign an agreement and adhere to certain requirements designed to maintain the integrity of The Walk and to insure that the local Walk beneficiary will be a rape crisis center, domestic violence shelter or sexualized violence prevention education program. By registering, we can also list you in our Calendar, post photos of your Walk and track the worldwide momentum of Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®.

Mama and Bea, what do you think?