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, June 29, 2014

The Resolve of Buddy Bea

Watching her bow at the front of the mat was thrilling. Pride lit up inside me like white-hot spotlights at a Hollywood premiere. It took everything in my power not to coach and encourage her from the sidelines like an enthusiastically overbearing daddy.

"Okay, Beatrice. Count off for me," said instructor Mike.

"Hana, dhul, sehtt, nehtt," Bea answered, counting in Korean.

"That's great, buddy."

Buddy -- instructor Mike called them all buddy -- even Bryce as she bounced around the mat trying, and failing, to follow instructions (which led to her eventual mat removal; she's too young yet anyway). Bryce is a stick of dynamite with a short fuse, another story for another blog post.

But Buddy Bea, she was determined to learn each and every martial arts move. Some she somewhat mastered, while others she struggled with, but through it all her resolve moved me to the point of tears. Seriously.

And this was only class number two for her. After the Mama had taken her the first time to Lairds Academy of Martial Arts, Bea immediately embraced martial arts and excitedly shared with us all what she learned when she returned home.

All except the breathing part. That part, which includes a power shout when breathing out, bothered her. That because of the auditory sensitivity and earlier delays she's experience since she was very little.

So prior to the second class starting, the one I went to with the Mama and both girls and where Bea received her uniform, we talked with the instructors about her auditory sensitivity. They were gracious, but when the class started and Bea herself articulated she didn't like the loud breathing, the primary instructor, Mike, simply told her:

"You're a good student, Beatrice, you'll do fine."

And that was that. She actually smiled and continued on happily with the rest of the class, completely engrossed in learning, with her daddy tongue poke and all. Plus, with all the Mama (and a little Daddy) gumption in their DNA, Bea and Bryce both are go-getters, and Bryce, well, she really helps to drive Bea out of her comfort zone. Amen.

Although her intellect has never been in question, just three years ago we were really worried about where she'd be today developmentally and socially. The resolve of buddy Bea has proven to have a resilience (so far) we had always hoped for, especially on the eve of kindergarten.

Her growing confidence, social skills and longing to learn has been a blessing for all of us. This martial arts class will help improve her coordination, flexibility, focus, patience, self control, and the importance of never initiating violence.

Here's to resolve, kids. And a hana, and a dhul, and a sehtt, and a nehtt...

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Continuous Mothering of Daddy Goat Gruff

“We go out in the world and take our chances,
Fate is just the weight of circumstances,
That's the way that lady luck dances --
Roll the bones…”

--Neil Peart

The traffic delay fired up our grumpy. No detour signs, the CHP officer out of his car but not directing traffic, the stoplight still running on its own timer -- only Caltrans and PG&E trucks blocking the highway straight ahead, forcing us to turn left and take the long way back around to get to Highway 152.

That little delay and detour tacked on another 45 minutes to the drive to my sisters to celebrate Father's Day. By the time we hit Casa de Fruta, it was pee-pee time for me and Bea. But we soon discovered that their power was out (connection then made to the nearby highway detour, Caltrans and PG&E trucks), so the only bathrooms open were portable ones with a 20+ minute wait in line.

We had parked on the other side by the playground and were worried about leaving our car with all our stuff inside, so the Mama stayed with Bryce near the car and I took Bea to wait in the bathroom line.

But then Bryce had to go, so Amy brought her over to me and then went back to drive the car over.

And the three of us waited, and waited, and waited...the girls playing in the white filler rocks that lined the children's railroad that wasn't running because of the power outage. They started filling my shorts pockets with the rocks.

"Stop it girls!" They didn't.

The Mama was nowhere to be seen. Finally, I called her.

"Where are you?!?"

"I'm in the car waiting. I peed in the bushes over here."


"What do you mean what?"

"You peed in the bushes? Please bring the car over here now so you can help me with the girls."

"Um...okay. You need help taking them to the bathroom?"

I heard the sardonic edge in response to my terseness.

"Just come over here, please."

It wasn't until later on the road when I realized what I was really saying was:

"Please come over here and mother."

Not a proud moment in Daddyland.

Back to the earlier moment -- the girls strayed farther and farther from me the closer we got to our turn in the porta-potties.

"Girls, no, come back here. Stay with Daddy. Come. Back. Here. Now!"

No, no, no. Stop, stop, stop. No, no, no. Now, now, now. All the responsible and patient parenting out the frickin' window and I transformed into Daddy Goat Gruff.

Amy finally showed up and then we both "gruffly" helped the girls in the potties. Then back in the car we went.

"Please come over here and mother." Sigh.

Parenting is a team sport, I know, and I do participate fully, but will admit I lean more on the Mama than I should, especially at times when I'm stressed and am not mindful of the fleeting moment needing patience. I default to a delusional anti-pragmatic Daddy Goat Gruff who wants to cut to the chase, any chase, with a usually misunderstood and misplaced meanness. Not easy to do with little ones; not easy to do with older ones. Maybe I do it to compensate for a lifetime of being a "nice guy," wanting to be liked, and finally realizing I needed to like myself.

Plus, there's mostly unconditional love of a good woman, from my Mom to my sister to the Mama, the continuous mothering of Daddy Goat Gruff. Estrogen has always been my kryptonitic salvation.


I was never a tough guy and never will be. My voice may carry a masculine boom, but I'm really just a loving B-hive keeper cowboy who rolls the bones while battling the weight of circumstances. I only hope that our girls take a little of my gruff perseverance to heart, to give them a little edge, to like themselves and be themselves, along with a lot of the Mama's true pragmatic vision and real-time practice.

I am B-hive, hear me bleat. 

Happy Father's Day, Girls.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

To School the World on the New Status Quo

“I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality...

...we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike."

—Maya Angelou

They sat riveted while I told them about Dorothy, Toto, Scarecrow, Tin Man, Lion, the Wicked Witch and the flying monkeys.

The flying monkeys and the Wicked Witch freaked them out a bit, not quite ready to watch the movie classic Wizard of Oz just yet, or read any of the fabulous L. Frank Baum Oz books from which it is based on, but hearing pieces of the story transformed them into their own animated storytelling mode, using felt people, objects and shapes on a felt board to create their own Oz-like fables of brave princesses battling dragons then drinking refreshing rainbows.

"Why is Oz only two letters?"

"Because it's that simple, Bea," I answered.

She smiled and then both Bea and Bryce continued their storytelling with the felt boards. I watched them both, Bryce gesturing even more so with her hand and arms while she spoke, while Bea laughed and played along, adding her own commentary.

We're very grateful for being able to create a loving, safe environment for the girls to be able to thrive in, to give them the freedom (within reason) to explore, absorb, learn, adapt, be expressive, confident and to think for themselves, even at nearly four and six years old. This has included their amazing preschool and pre-K experiences with the teachers, parent volunteers and their friends at Bridges to Kinder.

Part of that learning also means to experience first hand, to go out and "do" -- to be physically active and adventurous (within reason), to be comfortable with travel and meeting new people and having new experiences that continuously poke and prod at insidious complacency.

The goal being to help them develop the self-awareness, confidence, self-reliance, relevancy and flexibility needed to live their lives as "true profundity" and to be real in reality as Maya so eloquently puts it above.

The world in general still isn't very kind to women and we want our girls to be well, to learn to live strong on their own and with one another, and eventually school the world on why this should be the new status quo for every human being.

“If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine; it is lethal.” —Paulo Coelho