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, July 31, 2010

I have faith and Jedi mind tricks: this isn't the failure that's looking for you.

REGRETS. Those were the droids you were looking for.

This poster made me laugh all week. And think. And reflect. And laugh some more.

Anyone who understands the Star Wars mythos gets the reference. Even if you don't, nobody likes to have any regrets.

Fact is, it's too easy for some folk to say you shouldn't live with regret and that failure is not an option.

But we do and it is.

The difference is in what we learn from regret and failure, and how we learn to reconcile and elevate to give it another go, while being personally and socially responsible.

The challenge to do this becomes more magnified when you have children.

It was easier when Mama and me decided to get out of Dodge and jump the pond to Europe after the dot.com bust back in 2001. There were those who said we were crazy and why wasn't I looking for a new job when the company I worked for had failed.

But me and Mama had no regrets to take the severance and run.

When we returned I freelanced and consulted and we scraped by within a much tighter means until that all dried up.

For us there were truly no regrets and we rebounded and rebuilt from failure with blissful fluidity and fun (you should've seen me before Mama -- a tragically destructive hot mess I was).

What a difference a decade makes when you have wonderful wife, two beautiful daughters (one still not out of the oven), a water-logged mortgage, and a risky new venture that could be the rest of my life's fortune (and not all for money honey either) in a still abysmal economic environment.

"It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot tougher to make a difference." ~ Tom Brokaw

You said it, mister, but a difference doesn't pay the bills. I need to do both. Fatherhood comes at a price, whereas I do not count the cost as long as love remains (thank you, Neil).

I have faith and Jedi mind tricks: this isn't the failure that's looking for you.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

It can and should be.

"So how's that hopey changey stuff treating you?"

Well, Sarah, when it comes to ending domestic violence, it's a bittersweet juxtaposition.

On the one hand there's a lot of men out there making a difference, like the football players in the book NFL Dads Dedicated to Daughters: Inspiring Personal Accounts on Fatherhood from the Men of the NFL.

There are many lovely passages in this book from men about their families and their daughters, men who play a very violent sport -- on the football field that is.

I love football and I love the gangsta mystique of being an Oakland Raiders fan, but it's only in the context of the game strategy and the will to win battlefield mentality, not in everyday real life.

These football hero fathers will hopefully inspire their younger teammates and young men to treat women with respect, and not hurt and humiliate them emotionally or physically.

I'm no football hero, not since the high school glory days, but I'm a father of one daughter in this world and another still in the womb. (In fact, the Lady Bug Bryce baby shower is today. Right on.)

I bought the book for my dad as well. He's a big football fan too, even more than me. He turned 78 this week and has three daughters of his own from a previous marriage, not counting my sister. So that's four. (Yes, football players and drummers can count.)

We need more good guys fighting the good fight, because then we have tragic events like the recent violence at the Albuquerque business where a gunman stormed through a courtyard and into a building, killing two people and wounding four others before killing himself. It's pretty clear now that the gunman was going after his ex-girlfriend.

There's still too many more of these stories, at home and at work, in the U.S. and around the world. My good friend Kim Wells, who's the Executive Director of Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence (CAEPV), shared a story recently about how in Brazil -- on the average -- 10 women are killed daily in domestic violence.

Ten women a day. Good God.

But I believe in the hopey changey stuff, it's what makes me a better father. I believe that most folks are inherently decent and want to build a better world, men and women alike.

As Kim said in her latest post about workplace violence and domestic violence statistics:

These facts don't represent the faces and the names of the precious people whose lives are lost...or their families. But I hope the facts are helpful in understanding this isn't just "someone else's issue." And that it can...and should...be prevented.

It can and should be.

Dads, embrace your daughters and help evangelize that the degradation and violence must stop.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Lordy everyone needs refreshing lesson regularity. Plus, tummy parties can't hurt.

Listening and dancing to music is awesome!

Yes, it is. My friends Muno, Brobee, Foofa, Toodee, Plex and DJ Lance Rock all concur.

Yo Gabba Gabba is one of my Bea's favorite shows. It's a magical mystery cavalcade of 1980's colorful retro-fresh sights and sounds. Hip new and old music groups vie for each episode's highlight spot -- the super music friend's show.

Stand still...wiggle, wiggle, wiggle -- go! Wiggle wiggle, wiggle -- go! Stand still...

Bea dances away and loves it when we sing that to her -- a YGG staple.

It's also full of animated shorts, wiggles, giggles and well-crafted life lessons.

Yes, life lessons. For toddlers. Although I could make the argument that its lessons apply to the adult realm as well.

Friends, sharing, don't be afraid, going to the doctor, etc., etc.

Don't most kids shows play out that way?

Not really. There's a lot of garbage out there. We've had to sift through all the trash to find some programming with redeeming value. Nickelodeon has some decent shows (including Yo Gabba Gabba) and so does PBS Spout with my lifetime favorite, Sesame Street.

Because everything on Wikipedia is true, I learned this about the show:

Unlike most educational children's shows, “Yo Gabba Gabba” was not developed by network executives. Instead the show was developed by two Southern California dads who simply shared a mutual disappointment in kids’ television.

When Brown Johnson, the executive vice president and executive creative director of Nickelodeon Preschool, was convinced to take the time to check it the dads' pilot, she said:

“Lordy nothing else looks like this on TV”.

Right on. Entrepreneurial dads doing it up right for their kids. That's a refreshing lesson in and of itself.

Lordy everyone needs refreshing lesson regularity. Plus, tummy parties can't hurt.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mama Versus the Volcano

Mama told me a tantrum story the other day...

She took Beatrice to the playground where they usually go two to three times per week -- swings, slides, sandboxes and lots of climbing fun.

We have a bag of outdoor toys she brings for Bea as well, including digging tools and bouncy balls.

There was another little boy playing with a pink ball.

Bea's ball was red.

Bea wanted the pink ball.

But by that time it was time to leave, so Mama gathered up all the toys and grabbed Bea's hand to take her to the car.

Then the toddler tantrum erupted, red face seethed with tears spilling from her eyes, angry babble shooting from her mouth.

"Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!"

No!

She broke loose and ran toward the boy with the pink ball.

"Beatrice, come back here! We're leaving, sweetie."

No effect. Mama had to run after Bea and scoop her up.

Molten lava oozed from Bea's every pour.

"Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!"

They walked away and Mama put her down. Zoom -- she was off again to the boy with the pink ball.

"Beatrice! No."

Now, I don't know if you've ever picked up an erupting, almost 30-pound toddler before, but try doing it when you're 8 months pregnant with a bag of toys in the other hand.

Mama ran after her and scooped her up again.

New islands formed in the seas of Bea's angry tears.

"Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!"

This time Mama got farther away from the little boy with the pink ball, thinking that it was far enough to put Bea down and get her closer to the car.

Zoom -- back she went to the boy and the pink ball.

Exasperated and exhausted, Mama ran to get Bea again and this time hauled her all the way back to the car, Bryce getting a drive-by belly thrashing along the way. She strapped Bea into the car seat and gave her a hug and a kiss.

"Nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah!"

Lava buried the back seat and flowed into the front.

"I love you, baby. Let's go home."

***

Tantrums. Can't live with them. Can't live without them.

Bea's are usually short-lived. Usually. With rare exception as related above.

We were just asking each other last night what to do, what to do...

Let's AskDrSears.com!

On Parenting.com, another mother did ask Dr. Sears:

My 17-month-old's tantrums have become absolutely intolerable. He cries hysterically until, within a couple minutes, he throws up. The only way to calm him down is to distract him or to give him whatever it is he wants. I know it's not good for me to cater to his every whim, but I get so frustrated, I don't know what else to do. How can I temper my son's excessive tantrums?

Throws up? Good God.

We're pretty darn lucky.

You can read his detailed answer here, but here are the bullets to consider:

  • Identify the triggers. Is he tired, bored, hungry, or frustrated?
  • Identify the purpose of the tantrums. Tantrums come in two forms: frustration tantrums and manipulative tantrums. Know the difference.
  • Teach him alternative ways of expressing his feelings. Part of childhood development is learning what language gets one's needs met and what doesn't.
  • Know your anger tolerance. If you lose patience easily when your child throws a tantrum, know when to walk away. (But not literally in a crowded mall or congested intersection.) Count to 10 and take a deep breath. Know the difference.
  • Know when to intervene. In extreme cases, "holding therapy" works best. Hold your child in a relaxed and comforting way (even if he squirms) and reassure him with the most soothing voice you can muster. (We've done that. Mama has more luck than me, though.)

Dr. Sears writes, "Temper tantrums usually end between 18 months and 2 years of age, when a child develops the language skills necessary to express his feelings with words rather than actions. So when you're at your wit's end, remember: This too shall pass."

Most of the time we can let her go and ride them out. Then all is well again. As if nothing ever happened.

Until the next time, when 20 minutes after we put her to bed, she howled and cried and then writhed in our arms -- lava everywhere!

Let's work on those words, Beatrice.

Love you.


Friday, July 9, 2010

Laptop Modeling

In the mornings the laptops are stuck to me and Mama. Can you tell?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Bankruptcy can never be an option.

If trust is the currency of influence and sound leadership, then why are my peers filing chapter 13 when crises occur?

I'm talking about those in their 40's and 50's, the folks who are in "trust" positions who are supposed to be protect us and keep us from going astray.

But don't.

Take the regulatory offices in the U.S. A few years ago, employees of the Minerals Management Service "used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relations with oil and gas company representatives," according to a government report.

Then an oil rig platform in the Gulf of Mexico exploded.

According to a recent NPR Plant Money podcast:

Economists have been writing for decades about "regulatory capture" — the idea that regulators are "captured" by the industry they're supposed to be watching over, and wind up serving industry's interests.

So who's regulating the regulators?

Who's regulating our selves?

Anyone?

Is it yet another Sodom and Gomorrah winner take all recycle policy?

Expand outward generation after generation after generation: the subprime mortgage crisis -- the S&L crisis -- the Nummi Plant in the late 70's -- grifting of all flavors, shapes and sizes, personal and professional -- same outcome, different decade.

Regulating ebbs and flows. Laws that come and go.

Yet, we're not teaching personal leadership to our children and our children's children. Not to the point of breaking the cycle of being permanently broken.

We bend, we fail and some of us break. I certainly have. Unfortunately some of us break forever, though.

But if enough of us build up a personal savings of:

  • Trust
  • Accountability
  • Dependability
  • Adaptability
  • Critical thinking
  • Emotional intelligence
  • And other high-yield personal strength bonds

And teach our children to do the same, while influencing others, then bankruptcy can never be an option.

Take the lead.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The fallacy that God never speaks

The Road by Cormac McCarthy had such a profound effect on me; it is one of my favorite novels of all time.

No tiny feat considering that we were only on the unconscious cusp of wanting children when we listened to the audio book during our Southwest trip in May 2007.

It was one of those defining moments that filled our hearts with loving choice.

Over and over again the book's theme of parental love and protection against dismal nuclear devastation and end-of-the-world odds was punctuated by beautiful passages of prose.

Yep, I really liked it.

However, we knew it was going to be tough to watch the movie version of The Road.

And 15 minutes in, Mama said to stop. It was just too much now that we have children.

The scene was the father tenderly washing his son's head in a stream after a violent encounter with one of the bad folk roaming the desolate earth.

That was it. We turned it off.

But earlier than that there was a line I can and will never, ever forget:

The child is my warrant, and if he is not the Word of God, then God never spoke.

There are places in the world today just as post-apocalyptic as that of The Road, with fathers, mothers and children dying at the hands of their relentless enemies.

That of us. Sometimes for a dollar. Sometimes for sport. Sometimes for survival.

Sometimes we just come up short.

I don't subscribe to supercilious dogma and I'm not a praying man, but I don't believe in the fallacy that God never speaks.

My faith comes from the fallout of loving words that drift slowly to the floor and coalesce into pools of hope.

Amen. I will protect that faith with my life.

Be better people. Be better parents. Take the lead.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

Making Herstory: Tiny Moments of Truth

Like a million little crossroads
Through the backstreets of youth
Each time we turn a new corner
A tiny moment of truth


~Neil Peart

A tiny moment of truth. That's what it's like watching Beatrice from every day; watching her discover the world's tiny moments of truth for the first time, the connecting of dots anew day after day after day.

We'll have double the tiny truths very soon with Bryce bouncing on Mama's bladder like a uterine trampoline, building up her strength for the final outward bound bounce.

Mercy sakes alive!

In the meantime we've got some other great moments lined up: The family fun has only just begun this 4th of July weekend!

Auntie Jill, Uncle Steve and Cousin Braxton are visiting and Bea is just thrilled to bits. Braxton is 3 1/2 and you'd think Bea found her long lost playmate from lifetimes ago, running around the house and outside like unabashed banshees sharing shrieks of joy.

Hey, look at my little World Cup star!

As an adult and a father I worry about today, tomorrow and the next year and the year after that...

I worry will I be able to protect and provide and prevail when life cuts left while I'm headed right...

In the midst of constant change comes fear of choosing wrongly from an array of choices known and unknown...

Thankfully I've learned that overcoming fear of the unknown only happens when you get to know it as quickly as possible.

Like speed-self dating.

That I can deal with, but I certainly don't want Bea or Bryce dating anytime in the next 40 years, so speeding up moments is definitely out of the question.

Ha! Right?

Too much more time and choices yet to come...

Watching my tiny moment of truth in front of the Santa Cruz Surfing Museum: Beatrice making herstory, as Bryce will make hers, as we continue to make ourstory (and you know I'm okay with the girl power theme).

Holy Cow. My niece is getting married. My nephew is starting Cal. And we've got two babies. More crazy cool tiny moments of truth...