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, March 27, 2010

Our dandelion shine, a zensational state of grace.

Yesterday a young blond boy in black walked along the yellow divider line in the middle of Natural Bridges Way, toward the sea, head down, with purpose.

I thought it odd but cars passed without swerving or head turning. Beatrice seemed oblivious in the stroller, still aglow with the joy of our wildflower-dandelion-picking trip moments before.

I stopped and turned around one more time to watch the boy. His path hadn't changed; I wasn't alarmed. I turned back around. Beatrice pointed at a bird taking flight.

Forty-five minutes before that I had taken Bea down to Natural Bridges State Park where I let her run around and pick wildflowers, one of her current favorite things to do.

She'd pick one, bring it to me, then she was off again to pick some more, head down, with purpose.

I watched her and smiled -- such a big girl already. Eighteen months old and there have been a myriad of incremental and monumental changes since day one. And she finally crawled on her own! The walking came first; she's such the cart before her horse.

Bathed in sun and blue sky, she picked two dandelions and held them awestruck. One was yellow and fresh and the other white loaded with seed pods.

She dropped the yellow one and held the white one with both hands, a few of the seed pods parachuting into the air around her.

"Dat?" she asked.

"A dandelion," I said. "See how the seeds float away? They're going to grow new flowers."

She smiled and picked another.

We picked a half-dozen dandelions and Bea shook them and watched with glee the seemingly millions of seed pods drift away, each with its own trajectory, its own opportune purpose to germinate and propagate elsewhere, like choices, ideas, and hope.

I thought:

My dearest Beatrice, each day hold the dandelion shine close as it presents endless possibilities.

Then shake the hell out of it, baby. Go for broke.

Before we turned the corner to head home I looked back one more time for the boy, but he was gone.

I smiled, for in his place was our dandelion shine, a zensational state of grace.

Head down, with purpose.

Like a million little doorways
All the choices we made
All the stages we passed through
All the roles we played

For so many different directions
Our separate paths might have turned
With every door that we opened
Every bridge that we burned

Somehow we find each other
Through all that masquerade
Somehow we found each other
Somehow we have stayed
In a state of grace...

-- Ghost of a Chance, Neil Peart, Rush

video

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

We are the Six Sigma initiative to reduce global human defect.

Yesterday afternoon a car stalled in the road in front of me. A young girl waved us all ahead since she knew she was stuck; they wove around her like fire ants shaking their heads in disgust.

I pulled over and with the help of another passerby, we pushed her to the side of the rode.

"Do you have a phone?" I asked her.

"Yes."

"Do you have someone to call?"

"Yes, I'm calling my friend now. Thank you for your help."

Her smile was genuine relief and gratitude.

It could've been Beatrice. I only hope someone will be there to help her someday.

Cars are expendable. Our children are not.

Fall back to Saturday morning. As we sat watching Good Morning America's weekend edition, a story came on about text rage and the teenager with steel-toed boots with almost killed 8th grader Josie Lou Ratley.

The GMA report said teenage violence was on the decline, but I found other sources that say otherwise.

For example:

  • An average of 15 young people are killed each day in the U.S., and over 80 percent of those are killed with guns.
  • In 2004, 750,000 young people were treated in hospitals for violence-related injuries.
  • One third of high school students reported being involved a fight at school in 2004, and 17 percent reported bringing a weapon to school in the month preceding the 2004 survey.
  • 1 in 12 teens in high school are injured or threatened with a weapon each year.
  • 30 percent of junior and senior high school students are involved in bullying each year as the victim, bully, or both.
  • According to a report by the U.S. Secret Service, in the previous decade, the odds of a high school student being injured or threatened with a weapon were about 1 in 14, and the odds of a teen being in a physical fight were 1 in 7.

Then in the adult world on Sunday, just hours before the historic healthcare legislation passing, it was disturbing to see the democratic senators spit on and called derogatory names.

The hate was palatable.

I understand the internal heat shields slip sometimes and we can be reactively caustic when disagreeing or when wronged, but we're still responsible for how we respond and any carnage we leave.

And for the wildfires we feed.

Fear, uncertainty and misinformation are tantamount today, but we can cope and help each other through it, regardless if we agree on "it" or not. We can elevate without fueling hate, anger and violence -- and we can and should start with our babies and children -- globally and cross-culturally.

If there's a problem beyond rational responsive control, like a physical or mental disability or criminal activity, then those of us who are capable of restraint are responsible.

Yes, we are, whether it be in the forms of counseling, education, medication, incarceration, rehabilitation or institutionalization.

We are the Six Sigma initiative to reduce global human defect. Not God nor the media nor celebrities nor politicians nor captains of industry.

As parents, we can make the next generational difference. We have to.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

And in the space between me and Bea, there is none.

I was only gone for a few days this week for a conference, but while I was away Bea grew and grew and grew...

Really. She looks so much bigger. She's so much more animated.

It's as if she emanates a soft, rainbow aura that is silky to the touch and smells of flowers and sun.

Each time I hold her close I'm more the dad I never had as a child.

My daddy play includes throwing her in the air above my head -- her golden spun hair flying, her smile ever-widening.

And in the space between me and Bea, there is none.


Friday, March 12, 2010

The baby romance may have waned, but the family love always remains.

The first time round, there was so much mystery, romance and intrigue.

The second time, not so much.

The not-so dirty little secret is that the second child gets the shaft. The magic of conception, of birthing another being into the world, is gone.

Maybe. But now that we're almost halfway to Bryce day, the reality is it's a reality check tempered with "wait, we're having another what?" and the still thrilling expectation that it may be a

boy

or a

girl

and God please just let it be healthy like Bea.

And in this heart-attack erratic world where tomorrow there may be no jobs, no home, no healthcare, nothing can take away the proud parental intensity of:

  • Seeing the first sonogram of our new baby.
  • Mama feeling our new baby move (I haven't yet! still too small).
  • Hearing the strong heartbeat of Baby Bryce.
  • Holding Mama close with hand on the belly.
  • Both of us holding Bea close in a family group hug.

Even with those moments, our midwife may think we're being anti-climatic when she asks:

"So, you don't really have any other questions right now? You pretty much no what's coming?"

And we chirp like crickets in response.

Yes, we're much more tired awaiting the second with the first in tow, especially for Mama. It dulls the laughter, the libido, the overall focal strength and sometimes us old folk need James Cameron special effects help.

The baby romance may have waned, but the family love always remains.


Monday, March 8, 2010

I'm one of millions of men who believes VAW should end. Amen. (The Pixel Project)

I've been called a girl more than once in my lifetime -- by family and friends and even my wife.

Love you, Honey.

I'm good with it. Here's to International Women's Day!

And here's to my involvement with the good people at The Pixel Project. I've joined their volunteer ranks and look forward to generating more awareness to end violence against women -- in honor of my mother and in hopes that my daughter lives in a less violent world.

Check out the below announcement about The Pixel Project Wall of Support:

The Pixel Project, a global Web 2.0-driven awareness and fund raising campaign working to end Violence Against Women (VAW), is proud to launch The Pixel Project Wall of Support on 8 March 2010 in honour of International Women's Day.

The Wall of Support is a gallery of video endorsements from people worldwide who support The Pixel Project’s mission to get men and women to work together to end VAW. Endorsements are uploaded to YouTube and displayed on the Wall of Support galleries in the Community Buzz section of The Pixel Project’s website.

By showing a human face and voice with every endorsement, The Pixel Project hopes that this global chorus of voices against VAW will ignite conversation and focus public attention on the urgency of ending gender-based violence afflicting one in three women worldwide.

Each endorsement will be counted as an “action” towards UNIFEM’s “Say NO – UNiTE” campaign’s bid to raise 1 million grassroots actions against VAW by November 2010.

Guidelines for submitting a video can be found at http://www.thepixelproject.net/community-buzz/wall-of-support/. For further inquiries, contact Chrissie Moulding at info@thepixelproject.net.

I'm one of millions of men who believes VAW should end. Amen.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

The light of day heals the heart and inspires action. Do let it shine.

We were watching the Academy Awards red carpet and now the Oscars and the glitz and the glamour and all the beautiful Hollywood actors and actresses and the unprecedented media attention. Maybe Beatrice and/or Bryce will be there someday.

But something's been nagging at me all day. It was a story on Good Morning America this morning.

Cases of Missing Women and Young Girls Get Varying Media Attention

Sadly it's not the first time I've heard this story, the fact that only a fraction of missing persons cases get lots more media coverage than the remaining collective combined.

According to the GMA story this morning:

Ernie Allen, president of the Center for Missing and Exploited Children, says the cases that get the most attention tend to involve pre-teen children where it's immediately apparent that foul play by a stranger, not a family member, is suspected.

When it's random, when there are clear unrelated villains and victims, and unfortunately statistically White and not Black or Latino, then and only then do we see it played out online and on TV and we shake our heads at unforgiving tragedy.

Kathy Times, a member of the National Association of Black Journalists was quoted in the story:

"If you're white, wealthy, cute and under 12, then you're more likely to get the eye of the national media."

Whether you agree with that statement or not, it's shocking number of cases that don't see the light of the media day. As a father with a daughter and another child on the way that so hurts my heart.

Hundreds of thousands of children are reported missing every year. A hundred or so turn out to be the result of foul play, and only a handful of those get the kind of media scrutiny that Chelsea King's case got.

Let's not forget LaToyia's or the Nicole's. We need to shine a light on all of the global stories of violence against women and children and work to intervene and prevent, like the International Domestic Violence Memorial does, like the Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV) does, like The Pixel Project does, like the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, like National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Like thankfully so many more do.

The light of day heals the heart and inspires action. Do let it shine.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What? It's only set to stun silly. No worries.

Walking back from your house, walking on the womb...

Not exactly how The Police song goes, but for Beatrice it's appropriate in the fact that she was walking sans cruising at 10-11 months and running half-marathons at 13 months.

How cool is that.

But crawling and pulling herself up? Been a fits-and-starts no-go until recently and now she's finally friggin' doing it!

Woot! Go Bea Go!

Every parent sweats over stuff like this and we were no exception. Bea hit all her other milestones in the normal range and others told us that some babies walk before they crawl. (She's signs and understands particle physics you know.)

So Mama worked with her and I encouraged her and even Chelsea our 300-year-old cat cheered her on and on--

Only for her to collapse in an overdramatic heap of baby whine, face buried in arms, as if to say (in an English accent):

"Oh, Mother -- oh, Father -- I am misery -- please let me lay here..."

That's a window to adolescence I don't need to see at 17 months.

*sigh*

Then in the past few weeks she started the on-all-fours rise and creep then collapse. Baby steps mind you.

But she's making crawling progress every day, pulling herself up, twirling around, discussing the subtleties of curling, telling post-feminist Sarah Palin and Nancy Pelosi jokes, and participating Elmo and Foofa poetry slams.

She's so amazing!

And yesterday she just started climbing the stairs. Yes, the stairs. Go Bea Go!

Holy moly! That's both exciting and frightening. Don't worry, we're installing the electric super-sonic force-field fence from Lost at the base of our stairs tonight.

What? It's only set to stun silly. No worries.


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The pain unimaginable is real, and it needs to end.

There is pain unimaginable beyond the bubble of family stability and personal responsibility, caring cultures and community. Pain I don't want anywhere me or my family or anyone I know and love.

It's dark and violent and unrelenting and worldwide -- and it's mostly against women and children.

And mostly by men.

I charged myself to raise awareness and to take action to help prevent intimate partner violence (domestic violence) and child abuse. I grew up with it and don't want others to have to.

Men and women alike can and should work together to break the cycle.

Of violence against women.

I found The Pixel Project recently on Twitter and am so glad I did (they're on Facebook as well). The Project Founder and Lead, Regina Yau, tells the story of why she founded the organization and it's a powerful read.

Both sides also need to realise that it’s not just a “women’s issue” – it is EVERYBODY’S issue.

Men and women alike. Fathers and mothers alike. Brothers and sister alike. Friends and neighbors alike. Everybody.

There's a great resource center for men on the site called The Men's Room.

The Pixel Project believes that as men are a major part of the problem, so they are a part of the solution to ending violence against women.

We believe that as a man, you can make a difference and that you have already taken the first step by showing an interest in and support for The Pixel Project.

Amen, sister.

According to The Pixel Project site:

Violence Against Women, at its core, is about subjugating women. It is the domination of a woman by another human being. One in three women have been abused or subjected to gender-based violence in their lives.

Here are some hard facts:

  • The most common persistent act of Violence Against Women is violence by an intimate partner, aka domestic violence. In a 10-year study conducted by the WHO (World Health Organisation), between 15% to 75% of women report physical and/or sexual violence by a husband or partner. Marital rape, a common aspect of domestic violence, is often not seen as a criminal offence, but a domestic dispute, something that could lead to a woman’s death.
  • 5,000 women die each year in the dubious name of honour. Most times they are killed to protect the “honour” of the men who abused them. These women were raped, molested, or impregnated against their will. They were then subsequently murdered in cold blood. Some girls were guilty of simply being girls. They too, were murdered because their fathers and uncles thought they needed to be taught a lesson.
  • Women and girls are still being forced into marriages against their will, particularly in Asia, the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these women are seen as being merely chattels and are discouraged (sometimes violently) from pursuing their education.
  • Worldwide, up to 1 in 5 women report being sexually abused as children. These children are more vulnerable to other forms of abuse in their lives compared to most.

It's almost unfathomable to me to comprehend these facts, especially now that I have a daughter and another child on the way.

Almost unfathomable, but because I remember what happened to my mother and my family when I was a little boy, the pain unimaginable is real, and it needs to end.