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, December 27, 2015

I'll Never Miss a Moment Again

"It's good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end." —Ernest Hemingway

Somewhere over Guyana I started feeling sick. Watching Santa fly over the South American sovereign nation via the Official NORAD Santa Tracker, I could feel my insides churn and flip. I chalked it up to indigestion at first due to our yummy but huge Christmas Eve dinner at home.

After some generic pink tummy medicine, I seemed to feel better and proceeded with our Christmas Eve. When it was bedtime for the girls, we read 'Twas the Night Before Christmas and a few other stories and then put them to bed. We reminded them they couldn't get up before 5:30 AM, and being the early birds the entire family is, especially me and Bea, that would be tough on Christmas morning. Thankfully everything felt pretty good in my gut area at this point.

The Mama and I watched some more TV ourselves and then set up the rest of our Christmas gifts and prepped for Santa's visit. At this point he was already somewhere along the East Coast after delivering a few billion gifts elsewhere around the world.

We went to bed and the Mama asked how I felt. I told her better, but that wasn't exactly true.

"Wake me up if you need anything, Sweetie," she said.

But by 9:45 PM while reading in bed and shortly after the Mama dozed off, my tummy churned and flipped with a vengeance. I took more pink stuff, but then an hour later I lay there wide awake with a throbbing gut.

Crap, I thought. This is more than just a belly and/or intestines ache. I must be getting sick. Please no, not on Christmas Eve.

That's when the chills started. Although I felt hot laying there miserable in bed, when I got up to go to the bathroom, the chills set in, something I hadn't felt in years. Decades actually, especially if this was the flu. We all had our flu shots again this year, as we do every year, but that's never an iron-clad guarantee, and we did just return from that big petri dish amusement park called Disneyland.

But still, was it food poisoning somehow? None of the girls had belly aches after dinner, so that didn't seem viable. I was the only one who ate the sugar cookie dough, but I've done that every year for over 40 years and have never gotten sick on it. Either way I did not feel well and worries about the fact that I wouldn't make it through the night without getting sick.

No sooner had I thought that the horrid discomfort of painful bodily expression started from the bottom end. It was only 11:30 PM.

Back in bed things only got worse. I did everything I could to focus on my breathing, that maybe that would help me settle in the moment and feel better, but the bad brewing continued. I got the heating pad out to see if that would help, and while the heat felt good, the pain didn't subside.

12:00 AM, 12:30 AM, 1:00 AM -- I watched minutes of sick tick away, but it only got worse. At 1:30 AM I couldn't take any more and things erupted from the top end. I hadn't thrown up for 14 years and it's never an experience anyone wants to remember anew.

By 2:30 AM I felt slightly better, but every time I got out of bed to go the the bathroom, and going I still was from the other end, the chills were so bad I was visibly shaking. I looked out the bathroom to our street below and imagined Santa swooping down through our neighborhood to deliver the goods. Sugarplums dancing in my head indeed.

I shivered and shuffled back to bed. At 3:30 AM I was really worried I wasn't going to make Christmas morning. I felt horrible and knew at some point I'd be throwing up again. I've never missed Christmas with the girls, I thought.

This must be a reset. The thought had popped up in my fevered mind more than once that night. Maybe it's a karmic reset; a prophetic message from God. A needed purge and a movement in a new and improved healthier lifestyle direction. I've been working on my mind, body and spirit a little more of late, and although I've been pretty healthy, there's always work to be done, and this Big Daddy could use some more work, some true healthy mindfulness in equal measure applied regularly and liberally, to ensure I'm always there for me and my family. And although this wasn't the physical diet I had planned, we didn't eat that much crap at Disneyland, did we, Sweetie? Sigh...

Reset. Maybe. Although a little too convenient for being this close to the end of the linear calendar year, a week before the New Year. I'm just being delusional. Blech. It's not like I'm living on the streets of Bangladesh. Good God...

At 4:30 am I prayed/meditated that I'd make it at least until the girls opened their gifts, and then I could go back to bed.

Then, at 5:31 am, Bea had gotten up and I woke the Mama up and told her how I felt, which, if I were a cartoon, had felt like an ACME truck had knocked me off a cliff and I fell to the canyon bottom below. Poof. Wile E. Coyote indeed.

She told me she was sorry and that I should stay in bed, but I had to go downstairs. Bryce came in and said, "Daddy, it's time to go see what Santa brought us!"

And downstairs I went. I don't know exactly how I did it without getting sick all over, but I did. The Mama took my temperature and sure enough it was 101 degrees. Blech. But I made it for about 45 minutes as we opened gifts and took a few pictures. My limit hit, I slowly went back upstairs and straight to the bathroom, got sick, and then slept for nearly three hours.

Still feverish, but finally feeling better in the belly, I meandered back downstairs while the girls were playing with all their new toys and cool science gadgets, and the Mama was cleaning up. I had missed the Star Wars pancakes as well. Dammit.

"'You missed Christmas, Jack,'" I joked, quoting the character of Kate from early in the movie The Family Manwhen Jack returns after freaking out Christmas morning and taking off to NYC for a few hours.

The Mama laughed and said, "I'm so sorry you got sick, Sweetie. I hope you feel better. Girls, tell daddy you love him."

"Love you!"

"Are you feeling better, Daddy?"

"Yes. Love you, girls. Love you, Mama. Merry Christmas."

Even with fever, my gaze focused fully on my girls and all was well in my world, that 25th day of December, anno Domini (in the year of our Lord), two-thousand and fifteen.

In the end, I didn't miss Christmas, and if God willin' and the creek don't rise, as my Pop always used to say, and of course if I'm always present and paying attention in sickness and in health, I'll never miss a moment again.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

Where the Force Flows with Mindful Christmas Magic

Let's say the probability of any one of 10 total random park entrance lines moving faster than the others is around 10 percent. So we picked one, one that looked as though it fell into that 10 percent, just as we had done the day before. At first it felt as though we were right this time; our line moved along steadily as the families ahead of us enter the park. A winner! Then a mere seven feet from the turnstiles, we stopped, while the lines on either side of us almost seemed to speed up. 

Ah, the painful self-fulfilling prophetic physics of Murphy's Law. I realized at that very moment, even as Bryce flailed impatiently in the stroller and the Mama sought peaceful balance to keep Bryce balanced, that there was nothing I/we could do to change the outcome of waiting time to enter the park. Except wait.

During my epiphany, Bea simply skip-bounded back and forth in and around us as she often does when she keeps herself occupied. Or when she's in creative-thinking mode. Or when she has to go potty. Whatever her bounding represented this time, we still didn't move any closer to the entrance.

"What is going on?" the people behind us asked.

I sighed audibly. "Well, this happened to us yesterday, too. It feels like every time we get in line it shuts down production. Mercy me."

"Why didn't you warn us when we got in line?" they joked. And then continued to milk the joke, even when it wore as completely thin as Bryce's patience. I laughed a little unnaturally and turned away from them.

The reality is that the Disneyland entrance line slowed when visitors have entered the park for the first time for whatever their ultimate duration is. This is because their tickets have to be scanned, then park entrance cards printed out and signed, and then pictures taken for identification and park security.

And these seemingly random lines we were in for two days in a row included everyone entering the park for the first time. Granted, that included us on day one, but it made no never mind when we -- I mean I -- wanted to go inside and get my Star Wars freak on.

Again, there was nothing we could do to make the line move. So I stopped worrying about it. I just stood there, relaxed in the moment, and the moment after that, and the one after that, completely disconnected from the frustration of waiting and the longing for the happiest place on earth, and open to everything, and nothing, around me.

That's not to say I wasn't aware of my family's angst; I did encourage the girls to be patient and that we'd be in there soon enough. The Mama only had to adjust Bryce one time and both were fine otherwise (the Mama and I also realizing that there was nothing we could do, except go back to the hotel room, which wasn't really on the table unless we had to deploy the nuclear option).

Those minutes of waiting were a respite of sorts, quite counterintuitive to usual human behavior in the modern frenetic age. I was completely relaxed, primarily focused on my breathing -- in and out, in and out -- while all the sights and sounds around me slowed to a pleasant crawl, at just the right clarity and volume. It was as if we were at home in our cuddle chair (large recliner) watching our favorite movie without disruption or any notion of time constraints.

Of course I mean that metaphorically; watching families rock impatiently in Disneyland entrance lines isn't really a favorite movie of anyone's. However, the more I focused on relaxing in a meditative way, the greater pleasure I derived from just being. There. In the moment. Without negative attachments, or attachments of any kind. Just there with my family and being. Nothing else. A little peace on earth inside.

Metaphysically sappy, I know. But still, I've been consciously engaging in this lucid relaxation behavior of late, something I attempted in my emotionally torrid 20's, along with therapy and medication, all with limited, if any, success. Ever since I've done okay being mindful and present some of the time professionally and personally, and I do try to be empathic and compassionate as much as possible. Although I'm pretty pathetic when it comes to short-attention-span social media theater.

I'm sorry, what?!?

And then everything comes to a screeching halt when interrupted by my Daddy Goat Gruffness and the occasional just-plain-reactively-mean dickness.

I just finished the book by ABC Nightline anchor Dan Harris titled 10% Happier and I really enjoyed reading about his own tempestuous professional and personal journey toward being of sounder mind, body and spirit through meditation. I had seen him speak at the Achiever's ACE Conference in November, downloaded the book and never looked back.

But unlike Dan, I grew up grounded in the evangelical Christian faith and the real reason we have Christmas -- the birth of the loving redeemer, the little baby Jesus, Son of God (of which my affinity stands that my favorite Jesus is the little baby Jesus -- thank you Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, co-writers of Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby). 

Even though I'm not writing this to derail or disparage anyone's belief in any religion or spiritual practice whatsoever, and I do not want to have a theological debate proving or disproving the existence of any God, I do believe in the power of prayer and a higher power, sans the prejudice, anger and fear. I strive for the power of positive thinking and action, and of empathic thinking and action, of mindfulness and action -- with the personal relationship of me and my God being synonymous with the personal relationship of me and myself and every one else in my life I've ever come into contact with and those I've yet to meet.

Yes, the Force is what binds all living creatures in the universe together. It's loving and forgiving and even protecting when need be. You know, like God. And how we can be. In life and in our relationships. What? You didn't see the Star Wars reference coming? C'mon. However you end up dealing with the dickness and the dark side in your own psyche, then learn how to deal with it. I sure as heck have been dealing with it.

Because later on that same day in Disneyland, I got so mad at the Mama just because she edged her way into a packed Main Street to watch the Christmas parade. Actually, she didn't really edge, because she did ask the people in front of us if the girls could slip into a little pocket to watch the coming parade. The people said sure, but then I had to fold up the stroller and hold it right under the rope that separated the free walk area and the parade attendance section. I got mad because I thought about all the other parents who had waited with their kids when we didn't, and the fact that I had to hold the friggin' stroller in a cramped area.

But again, the Mama wasn't rude. She asked nicely, there was room for the girls, and so it all worked out. There was no reason for me to attach any reactive meanness to the situation, but that's just what I did. I understood what I did and resolved it fairly quickly in my head and heart, not wanting to be mean to the Mama or anyone. That's something I've been working on for a long time, a continuous work in progress.

We ran into other Murphy's Law moments in Disneyland as well, but one in particular was the tipping point for me to dig deeper into my own psyche and mindful presence. I had gotten a fast pass for Hyperspace Mountain (a special time when I could get on the modified Space Mountain indoor roller coaster more quickly than the normal wait time). I then went to the ride Hyperspace Mountain at my specified time and the Mama and the girls went to ride It's a Small World.

My wait was brief and I worked on my relaxation during my time in line. My turn came and the ride moved me and my fellow space travelers upward and then zoom -- we were flying through space!

Until we weren't. An attendant came over the loudspeaker, barely audible over the ride's Star Wars soundtrack, telling us the ride was temporarily stopping. We then really stopped, the soundtrack stopped and the attendant's voice told us due to a problem with one of the riders falling out of a car (I'm sorry, what?!?), the ride was over and other attendants would be coming to escort us out of Hyperspace Mountain. We were at the very top of the dome, too. The lights when on and there we were trapped in the roller coaster cars in a large, very gray, nondescript industrial complex.

So much for the magic. But then another kinda epiphany hit me: the fact that my mind was a lot like this ride, a big loud noisy mouse-trap game of a ride, where the addictive goal was to get the metal ball from the top of the trap to the bathtub at the bottom, over and over and over again, without reason. Just because I've always done it that way. Lock and load and do it again. Because it's addictive, fun and safe.

As I sat in the car waiting to be escorted down, I prayed/meditated to empower myself with empathic action to counter my frenetically circular inaction, regardless of the fact that I have no control of anything that happens in this world, only how I may possibly influence it and ultimately react to it (or not react to it).

I prayed/meditated to shut down my maniacal machinery regularly with an unrivaled focal strength and be the effectual stretch. Meaning to stretch myself (and in turn others) to become more self-aware and learn new ways to see and understand life, and to expand beyond what’s known and comfortable in ways that produce desired yet diverse, highly personalized and usually effective results. This could mean the literal extremes of big success or failure, or those incremental leaps and lapses in between that give our daily journeys sustenance for mind, body and spirit.

I prayed/meditated to be a better husband, father, friend and world citizen (which is why I took a break from writing this article to play paper dolls with Bryce and check out Star Wars artwork from Beatrice). To not be a softie pacifist pushover, but to continue to be a more compassionate man of stalwart action. To keep fighting the good fight and being more compassionate to others in whatever form that ultimately takes, as long as it takes form.

Amen.

Plus, I bought a Jedi light saber at Disneyland, an elegant weapon for a more civilized age. Really. I did. What?!? It's fun. C'mon, I'm only a fan on the early path toward enlightenment (I hope). Not the nut you're looking for. Move along.

Happy Merry Baby Jesus Where the Force Flows with Mindful Christmas Magic Year Round!





Sunday, December 13, 2015

A Joyful Heck of Awesome

“Don't shoot me Santa Claus
I've been a clean living boy
I promise you
Did every little thing you asked me to
I can't believe the things I'm going through…”

The Killers, Don’t Shoot Me Santa

Somewhere between the cafeteria and the parking lot, we lost our Joy. She'd been with us the whole night and every time we saw her or felt her, we couldn't help but smile. I swore I had picked her up with everything else when we loaded up to go. Beatrice swore, too. She said she saw her in my arms as we headed for the car.

But when I dumped everything in the back of our car, she was no where to be seen.

"Beatrice, where's Joy?"

Immediately the angst of losing Joy simmered inside. Bryce and the Mama would know soon enough and not be happy about it; Joy was Bryce's favorite character.

"I don't know. I thought you had her Daddy?" Beatrice clicked her seatbelt.

Dammit, I thought. "Bea, I'm going to see if I dropped her."

"Okay."

I walked back through the parking to see if I could find Joy. Nothing. Joy was gone. I went back to our car and told Bea to get out and help me look. We walked all the way back to the cafeteria where her latest grade school's movie night had transpired early that evening, the Disney Pixar movie Inside Out. It's currently Bea's favorite movie, having seen it nearly 20 times, and of course Daddy cries every friggin' time he sees it. Hence why she wanted to bring the stuffed character of the same name, one of a set of characters we had given to Bea for her birthday. We had also brought Disgust with us, Bea's favorite character and a foreshadowing of sorts.

Only Beatrice and I were supposed to go to this movie night just as we'd done the previous two, but this time Bryce actually wanted to join us. So the Mama packed up more stuff for us all to bring. We still brought both cars anticipating that Bryce would want to go home early (which she did).

But happy we were with the fact that the entire family wanted to go this time. Joy filled in the space between us all sitting on a blanket spread out on the cafeteria floor. We ate pizza, chips and carrots and the day before felt like light years away...

...Unfortunately, Joy was safe and sound at home when I took the girls to get their flu shots and mine as well the day before movie night. The Mama had already gotten hers through work. Our family doctor had lost an entire batch of flu mist and shots due to a refrigeration problem, so that had killed the close-to-home pleasant option. Sure, we could've gone to the county clinic, but that was way across town and would've taken too much time for me that day. Instead we went to Safeway down the street where the plan was to get the shots and get them a treat next door at Yogurt-land. But the pharmacist had no help that day and couldn't administer shots until later in that afternoon, long after I had to get back to work.

Fine. We'd go to CVS instead since I wanted the girls to pick out something cheap and fun for the Mama to round out her Christmas gifts. Yes, CVS. No judging, please. But the problem there was the fact that they couldn't administer the shots for any child under eight years old. Argh. (That would end up being the case the day after movie night at Safeway where they had originally told me six years or older could get the flu shot. Cold-hearted bastards.)

"Okay, girls. Let's pick something out for Mommy."

But immediately Bryce picked out a toy for herself. "Daddy, I want to get this."

"No, Bryce. We're only getting presents for Mommy."

"Yes! I want this!"

"Bryce, please. We're only shopping for Mommy and then we're going home. You already got a treat after Safeway."

"I want it!"

The Brychter scale flipped on in my head and the tremors around us started rocking and rolling. Please, no. Not until we get out of here.

I moved as quickly as I could with Bryce's earthquake escalating all the way to a 10.0. I negotiated with Bryce, gave her another couple of choices, and Beatrice tried to help too, but the earth was roiling out of control and Bryce was beyond the rational. Impulse control down. Sanity off the grid. The world imploding around us. Checking out and leaving in short order was the immediate plan.

Unlike the day the Bea stung, this time Bryce roared like a hungry lion in the middle of the now shaking store floor near the register where I paid for the gifts. She threw down the toy she wanted, picked it back up and threw it down again.

"Bryce, we're leaving now. Please come over here."

"I want the toy, Daddy! I want the toy now!"

"Bryce, I already gave you another choice. These gifts are for Mommy and you can pick a small toy like Bea has, but not the one you want."

Tears streamed down her bright red face and she fell to the ground as if participating in her own private Occupy CVS protest.

"Bryce, please come over here."

Everyone around us watched, but I blocked out all fields of vision except my lines of sight on Bryce and Beatrice. Less than a week earlier I lunged in to care for sick sweetie Bryce who had thrown up all over the place while I tried to work, but now she was wild animal I had to cage, get home and get the Mama to help soothe (in that order). My tranquilizer gun perpetually shot placebos.

"Please, Bryce."

"No! I want the toy!"

More up and down off the ground. More throwing of the toy. A crowd gathered.

The positive parenting and natural consequence negotiating just wasn't going to work at this point. Somewhere deep down I heard the Mama and other positive discipline pundits shouting Remove her from the environment -- Now! Lousy local conditions be damned.

That's when Bryce ran up and hit me on the hip. I'd just finished paying for the merchandise (I selfishly wasn't leaving without the Mama gifts) and as soon as she retracted her hand, I grabbed her arm firmly.

"Stop!" she yelled.

I pulled her firmly toward the door with my right hand while all the purchases hung from my left. I got her to the sliding doors, but then Bryce grabbed the security system alarm gate and held on tight with her free right hand. I pulled, she shifted diagonal, but didn't budge. I could've pulled her vertical like in a cartoon.

"We're going home now, Bryce! Stop it!"

As I screamed this I felt horrible. I never wanted it to escalate this far. Remove her from the environment -- Now!

I finally got her out the door and now she thrashed making it exponentially more difficult to manage the moment.

"Beatrice, please carry this stuff for me so I can pick up Bryce."

Bea complied and as I hauled Bryce up to cart her to the car, she thrashed and hit and scratched, and all I could think about was not hurting her. To get her home. Intact. Unscathed. To the Mama. And away from me.

I strapped her and we got home. Finally. Still with the Mama's gifts. As Bryce settled down I discussed what happened with the Mama, her consoling me and telling me I had no other choice but to remove her. Bryce later told me she loved me, and then all was well with our world again. We all survived no matter how guilty I felt about treating her a little roughly (just as the Mama has had to do herself). And although Joy was all but lost, we made it through movie night and then the reattempt at the flu inoculation the next day, which only I could get this time due to the age limit and that nearly made the Mama flip out. But we made it unscathed to our annual visit with Santa Claus where we had a Zen-like moment with him, discussing the mindful omnipresence of Santa (and, in a way, parenting). Amen.

And then later that night, we both lunged in as Bryce threw up again all over her bed, and then Bea's.

Compared to the rest of the crazy shit happening in the world today, and to those less fortunate than us, our family growing pains are quite benign, but they're still our growing pains nonetheless.

We still haven't found Joy, but we're grateful it continues to find us, and that always makes for a Happy Christmastime.

Here's to a Joyful Heck of Awesome!






Saturday, December 5, 2015

The Part Where I'm Lunging In

Towards the end of my first work call, she threw up. I would've heard it anyway prior to turning around in my chair, but turn around I did at the moment she opened her mouth puked on the couch.

"I've got to go -- my daughter is throwing up!"

I ended the call, pulled out my headset ear buds and moved swiftly to where Bryce was getting sick.

"C'mon, Sweetie. Let's get you into the bathroom."

"Daddy, I don't feel good."

"I know, Sweetie."

I got her cleaned up and had her drink some water. Fortunately she hadn't eaten anything yet so all that came up was water and bile (and a little bit of green candy from the night before -- yummy). She was pale and weak and burning up, but the ear thermometer only gave me a normal reading. This thing must not work, I thought. I moved her to the recliner with a fresh set of blankets and a big bowl and then cleaned up the couch. I threw her blankets and her little stuffed bunny (a vomit casualty) into the washer.

There, we should be good now.

"How do you feel, Sweetie?"

"Not good."

"I know. Here, drink some water and rest."

"Okay."

Soon after she drifted off to restless, sweaty sleep. Poor baby. While she can be a handful, she's like a wild animal hit with multiple tranquilizer darts when she's sick. I moved back to the dining room table to work. From home. Cell phone, laptop and Internet connectivity wherever I go. My garage office (converted office slash guest room completed years ago) -- also known as the offage (pronounced oh-fahge, a name bestowed on me recently by our web developer) -- is my usual work-from-home stomping ground, but on this day with Bryce sick and staying home from school and the Mama having to go to see her physical therapy patients after taking Beatrice to school and with no other child care available --

Breathe.

It's on me. Because I can do it. Because I work from home. Because when I'm not traveling for work, I'm here. Because I love my family and my life and embrace all that it brings. My children and the Mama are priority number 1. From seemingly banal everyday issues to the urgent. There are no exceptions. Ever. If you're a Walking Dead fan, I'm a Rick channeler.

But it's also not just the part of the story where I lean in like Sheryl Sandberg's book and the Lean In organization encourages, the blending of traditional roles and responsibilities at work and in life based on what needs to be done regardless of gender -- it's the part where I'm lunging in. Literally.

That's not always easy to acclimate to and accept readily either. Family life is disruptive even on its best days. Especially when we've both got work to do and our own schedules. Now that the Mama is working more again, I've been scaling more with the childcare. We do have baby sitters, which is great, but there's a limit to that coverage. We did have family help for a while, but when that went to hell, we had to reconfigure the big picture.

While I'm not comparing our situation with other parts of the socio-economic strata, the more I scale with the childcare, the more I do empathize completely with single parents who have to work away from home and deal with paying for childcare or having to miss work, especially when they're on the clock, when their child is sick (my own mom was one for a while when my sister and I were young).

Most single parents are still women (see the last U.S. census). And according to the U.S. Department of Labor, more men are working full-time than women, and more women are working part-time than men, and upcoming Talent Board research (where I work) shows that even more women than men are applying for more core work across the board -- from hourly wage positions to entry level and experienced salaried positions -- 82 percent to 69 percent.

So yes, I do empathize and am grateful for the intact and loving family unit we have and our ability to adapt easily.

The second conference call of the morning commenced and this time I was using the computer audio with the headset instead of my cell phone. The call neared its end and this time I didn't turn around -- that's when I heard Bryce throwing up again.

Now, I could've just gotten off the call abruptly like I did the first time, but it was a program sponsor  on the other end and she was in the middle of explaining something important to me. Instead I picked up the MacBook Air with my left hand, moved quickly to the chair where poor Bryce retched this time, lunged into the chair and leaned in, picking up the bowl with my right hand and shoving it calmly under her chin.

The sponsor kept talking but I had lost track of what she was saying, so I gave up.

"Um, so sorry, but my daughter is throwing up and I have to go."

After another clean up was completed, I moved Bryce back to the now clean but damp couch where she again drifted off to sleep. She was burning up but the thermometer still wasn't working right and read a normal temp. I called the Mama and asked if we had another thermometer, which we did, but it was the one she used for her physical therapy visits and she had that one with her in her work bag.

Thankfully she returned shortly after that call and got Bryce to take some medicine to bring her temp down. And yes, she did have a 101 degree temperature. Ack. Now that Bryce was back in the healing hands of the Mama, that's when I was back to business rounding out an otherwise productive Friday.

Later that night Beatrice went with me on our weekly taqueria run, and I asked her if she wanted Mommy or Daddy to walk with her and her school in the downtown Christmas parade. Since Bryce was sick, we wouldn't all be going together this time.

"I want you to go, Daddy."

"Okay," I said. I had walked with her last year while the Mama and Bryce cheered us along the route (Bryce didn't want to walk the entire parade route).

"But," Beatrice continued, "I think I'll ask Mommy this year since you and me were in the parade last year. Okay Daddy?"

"Sounds like a plan, Bea."

"Bryce needs to get better anyway and you can help her like you did today, right?"

"Yes, indeed."

Yep, that's why my Bea received an empathy award at school. Right on, Sweetie.

Here's to the lunging in, Daddies.