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, October 26, 2014

The Mama's Pragmagical Muddy Puddles

I imploded. The frustration of not knowing what to do sprayed my gut like poison shrapnel, my heart buried in the rubble. The years of adept coping lost in a moment of weakness.

The poison seeped and seethed in my bloodstream until it reached the damaged language centers of my Cro-Magnon daddy brain, doing nothing more than igniting another series of fresh implosions, the poison ultimately reaching a lethal level. My heart was nowhere to be seen.

Finally, the Mama asked, “Are you grumpy again?”

The poison poured from my mouth; the caveman pounded my front lobes with his gnarled club.

“Yes, I am! I’m tired and hungry and I had to deal with Bryce screaming and again pounding on my face and chest like a mad woman while we were in line in the store. And I don’t know what to do about it. How am I supposed to just smile and use the whole positive discipline parenting approach and ask ‘what’s your idea?’ when all I want to do is smack her across the face!”

I sighed aloud. “Mercy, I actually do feel better now.”

The Mama gave me an uncomfortable smile, as if to say, Why didn’t you just tell me that in the first place, butthead?

There we sat in the Trader Joe’s parking lot, us in the front seats, and the girls giggling in the back, oblivious to my angry outburst.

“Are we going to the harvest festival?” Bryce asked.

“Yeah, the harvest festival!” Beatrice echoed.

“To jump in muddy puddles!" they called out together.

“Yes, we are,” the Mama answered.

I remained quiet, still recovering from internal damage, but off we went. While I drove us onward, I reflected on my immature and impulsive delayed reaction, still struggling with the positive discipline parenting approach overall, especially when Bryce’s reactive tantrums explode in our faces.

I know the Mama struggles too, sometimes having a smack attack on Bryce when it’s just too much, which in turn only causes Bryce to strike back harder until she becomes a boiling sea of tears.

But that’s not why I was reflecting this time. Bryce is only four, and a much different animal that her older sister, and the fact is that we’re doing everything we can to instill positive and healthy “responsible” responses to anything that either girl will have to deal with short and long-term. Self-awareness, mindfulness and impulse control over destructive behavior takes time and a maturity that many adults can and do struggle with.

Like me. Although I’m light years from where I was before the Mama met me, the same pattern of internalizing angst until it implodes as referenced above still happens from time to time. It’s like having flashbacks from bad hallucinogenic drugs taken in an already fragile state of mind.

At least, I’ve heard from friends...

You get the point. I internalize. I implode. The poison seeps and seethes and hurts me and those around me. I expel it all as if exorcized. Then I’m better again.

The Mama’s always been better at being under control and direct in the moment, at quickly adapting while retaining a pragmatic and almost magical approach to every facet of life, but I’m getting there; I have my moments. A work in progress since the day we met over 17 years ago on the beach…

Sigh. Snap – wait, that’s it! For those of you keeping score at home, yes, I’ve seen the Mama meltdown (she is a lovely woman and human being), but it’s the “pragmagical” planning, execution and resolution that I now aspire to, before I implode!

And all it takes is a big, muddy puddle and harmonic convergence. Yes, that’s it. What a woman that Mama is. And for me, Bryce is the key as well, like malleable molten metal that can be easily turned into a precision tuning fork.

After Trader Joe’s, we did go to the Wilder Ranch State Park 40th Anniversary Heritage Harvest Festival and had an amazing time (which we usually do). It rained earlier in the day, which us West Coasters desperately need, but then the sun came out in the afternoon and it was gorgeous.

Thank goodness, 'cause Daddy Goat Gruff needed a little vitamin D and some family B love.

The Mama's the queen of the pragmagical -- planning ahead and bringing an extra change of clothes for the girls since we planned on letting them jump in the muddy puddles. We always do. It's incredibly fun and cathartic. I only wish me and the Mama would have joined them. (And if you and your kids watch Peppa Pig, you know what I'm talking about.)

Yes, B-come the tuning fork that needs to reverberate (and release) immediately in a big, sloppy, muddy puddle -- real or imagined -- before the implosion happens. That's the harmonic convergence I've been looking for.

So, if I just bend Bryce just the right way and hold her up to the glorious sunlight and jump...

Sigh. Splash!



Sunday, October 19, 2014

With Girl Power and All That Jazzy STEM

"Daddy, we want to work on the car!"

"Sure, just don't scratch the paint and work on the bottom along the sides and and the tires only."

Thrilled, Beatrice and Bryce brought their play toolkit down to the driveway and got to work. Unfortunately, they did rub some of the tools against the side of our car, which I immediately got all Daddy Goat Gruff about.

Besides that, however, I proudly watched while they "worked" on the car, really thinking about the tools they chose to use and what they were doing, and discussing it with one another.

Until, of course, the thrill of discovery broke down into chase-around-the-car mayhem -- they are kids you know.

We've encouraged them since the earliest moment of awareness and learning to embrace science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, STEM skills as they're known. Unfortunately women only make up about half of the workforce in the U.S. economy today, less than 25% of them hold STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). That's a lot of untapped talent in the workforce today with many cultural and institutional reasons of why.

And if we want our children, girls especially, to be in the 60th-70th percentile and above in the world of work and STEM skills, then we've all got work to do.

Yesterday I listened to an NPR Planet Money episode titled When Women Stopped Coding and I was floored by what I heard. That before 1984, more computing pioneers were women. But post 1984, something changed: "the number of women in computer science flattened, and then plunged."

Boys will be boys will be encouraged to do techie things, but not girls, right?

I wrote a recruiting article last week for TalentCulture that focused on the importance of skilling up and company culture when recruiting in-demand tech talent and beyond. In it I cited a Fast Company article and recent research from the Center for Talent Innovation, U.S. women working in science, engineering, and tech fields are 45% more likely than their male peers to leave the industry within the year. This is due to male-dominated tech, biased performance evaluations and lack of women mentors. 

Quite disheartening for the Mama and I, being parents of two bright little girls who may go into tech someday. Oh, I’m not even going to comment on the egg-freezing benefit offered to Facebook and Apple female employees who want to delay motherhood either.

But if we can have anything to do about it, and thanks to shows like Doc McStuffins and Earth to Luna and others, and if the girls want to go into any of these fields, we can help them develop and thrive in a male-dominated tech world that they make their own, with girl power and all that jazzy STEM. 

In fact, I say we make a 21st century version of the 1980s classic Weird Science with nerdy girls dominating and objectifying boys.

No worries. Us boys can take the sting.







Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Buzz of the Long Run

Sometimes life's a sprint. Full out. Heart pounding. Lungs burning. Legs burning. Sweat flying. From point, to point, to point. (And on the list -- check off, to check off, to check off.)

Even with knee surgery I pushed through it like a dedicated athlete does, no matter the damage done. And mercy, my knee was more blown than what even the surgeon thought before he dug in there. In fact, during my last check-in with him, he ended up draining over 60 cc's of old pre-surgery blood from the tight ball the size of a plum behind my right knee that he thought was synovial fluid from my original injury (meniscal tear and cartilage damage).

Sixty cc's of old pre-surgery blood. Damn. Hey, no pain, no gain.

And yet, even with the bumps in the road, sometimes our peripheral radar is on, cranked super-high, and we capture much of what's happening around us. I say radar because it's not always vision because the other senses are fully operational as well.

We went from Bryce turning four; to my knee surgery; to Beatrice starting kindergarten and turning six; to my 30-year high school reunion; to end of summer beach time; to my almost end-of-the-40's road birthday; to Beatrice passing her first martial arts test; to Bryce being a master card maker and dancer; to travel, travel and more business travel; all culminating in the Mama and my anniversary in fabulous Las Vegas, celebrating 11 years of marriage and 17 years since the day we met, one day on the beach.

Knee limping. Heart pounding. Lungs burning. Life loving. Love longing.

That's the magic of the B-hive. And although there will always be bumps in the road, when we're resilient and mindful, and keep our hearts and heads in shape, may our sprints and the buzz of the long run never wear out.